January 1, 2016
Home again

We paid a quick visit to Great (Great) Aunt Esther and Great (Great) Uncle Roy (who live next door to Auntie Mary) before heading back to Ottawa. Elizabeth and Grandma H made a snow mouse. Auntie Janice decorated our lunches, which we brought with us so that we wouldn't have to stop on the way home. Amelia had her first tangerine (hilarious faces, but popular).

Matthew in particular was not well behaved on the way home. Every time Amelia fell asleep, he'd poke her until she woke up. Seriously overtired baby was not a happy camper as a result. We finally moved him to the back next to Elizabeth. Then he was kicking Auntie Janice's seat. She was not a happy camper either! But we made good time and everyone got home in one piece...

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December 31, 2015
New Year's Eve at the Hippo House

Grandma and Auntie Mary took the big kids outside to play in the snow and go on a walk around the pond to visit Santa while Karen and Dave packed up to drive home to Ottawa. I got to feed Theo his breakfast and he eats! (In comparison, none of my kids ever ate anything at that age. The older two because they were picky and Amelia because she hasn't quite figured out how to manage her tongue yet) It was very fun. He's a remarkably tidy eater.

Then we headed off to Uncle John and Joanne's to pick up Grandma Margaret, and to borrow a piano. Elizabeth and Auntie Joanne had WAY too much fun practicing together. Matthew wants to know when he gets to practice piano too(!) We admired her music Christmas tree very much. The golden bird is new this year in honour of Great Grandpa B.

Auntie Mary has a new tree too, and it comes with its own remote to change the colour (this was popular, as you might imagine). I always love looking at ornaments on people's trees and it's pretty cool that Mary's tree reflects her 22 years up North. Lots of fur to touch (that's polar bear, I believe!)

Then we went and spent some time at Grandma's. She was tired but chatted away with us and clearly knew who we all were, even Brendan's mom! Someone brought adult colouring books for us and I have to say - such a brilliant idea. My grandmother directed us all to colour (even told us where to sit) so was able to feel she was providing some hospitality and it was something to do that wasn't sitting around in a nursing home feeling awkward. I wish this had been a thing for visits with my Grandma H with Alzheimer's!

After dark, we had the traditional drawing with sparklers, courtesy of Janice. She might need to work on her cursive... And her counting of legs for bear-hippos. But actually it was pretty fun to watch her leaping and occasionally crashing around the icy cold hill outside from the comfort of Mary's house.

We put the kids to bed and I did a countdown to the new year with them (one at a time lol). Matthew enjoyed that part so much I counted down twice! Then we played Scrabble and went to bed. I think Janice, Margaret and Mary stayed up to make sure the New Year came in properly but the rest of us might have been in bed before midnight.

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December 30, 2015
Christmas with Great Grandma

My grandmother is extremely ill and is now considered palliative.

So my mom came home from Angola to visit for some of her last days and in anticipation of a funeral. My mom hasn't been too well herself - some of you know she was recently quite ill with malaria followed by typhoid followed by an allergic reaction to the antibiotics that were supposed to be helping her - so we were very glad that she was well enough to travel and to see for ourselves that she is in fact on the mend!

There was some question of whether my grandmother would even make it to our big family gathering - she was hallucinating things like fire on her lap and some days not really responding at. One of my aunts thought it prudent to warn us that we wouldn't see the Grandma that we were used to. So it was quite surreal to get there and have Grandma come down in her wheelchair and interact with all of us completely normally. She was talking and joking with us, and remembered all of our names - even Brendan's mom, whom she has not seen in years! It's clear she perked up immensely for our visit ("I got to see my great grandchildren!" she gloated to a nurse). Even though she was so poorly she still arranged for presents for everyone. Girls got slippers and boys got socks. It was bittersweet that we got to have such a good visit and even managed some great photos, as we were very aware these would probably be the last time this side of heaven. Some family didn't arrive until later but we thought it best not to wait and I'm glad we didn't as Grandma did get tired quite abruptly. She didn't even remember getting back to her bed!

After Grandma went back to bed there was still much partying to be done and good food to eat. Cousin Chris was taught the proper way to flame a Christmas pudding with the booze we smuggled into the nursing home for the purpose. The kids mostly ran around playing a game that turned various uncles into tickle monsters, but Elizabeth surprised me by getting absorbed by a board game. She's growing up!

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December 29, 2015
Christmas with second cousins
After seeing their second cousins at the end of the summer the kids were pretty excited to be able to see them again so soon (relatively speaking).  They had a great time piling onto the couch (or was it piling onto Ryan?) and playing in the basement while the adults did vaguely adult like things such and having a conversation with more than one uninterrupted sentence in a row.  It really is lovely to see them all growing up so nicely and we do hope that they continue to enjoy spending time together.
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December 28, 2015
A Cuckoo Visit

My mom's side of the family was getting together for Christmas on the 30th, so we planned to stop in Toronto to see Muriel, Lauren and Donna and family and Uncle Ryan.

Brendan's mom came along with us and with seven people in the van for Amelia's longest car ride yet we were a little concerned that the kids might not be well behaved. But they made forts out of coats and pillows, did some colouring and generally did very well. Amelia slept and played all the way until about five minutes before we arrived, which was nice.

Matthew and Elizabeth were very happy to introduce Grandma Margaret to the joys of waiting anxiously for the cuckoo clock at Auntie Muriel's to come out so that Elizabeth can play her "cuckoo whistle" at the same time. Amelia seemed rather bemused.

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