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February 21, 2016

Xander and all of my kids had their winter music recital today. Have I mentioned how much I like the way that Shana and Hannah do recitals? They start on time, take only an hour including refreshments at the end, finish on time and have frequent breaks that include all the kids in the audience. Such a great experience for the kids (and I'd be remiss if I didn't also note that if you are looking for piano lessons we think MYC is amazing and Shana and Hannah are fantastic teachers)


The recital was at the Steinway Piano Gallery, who are apparently allowing the sticky-fingered rug rats of Ottawa to run around their showroom containing at least a million dollars worth of pianos and to actually play their pieces on their top of the line concert grand (sticker price: ~$225,000) This is likely the best piano Elizabeth will ever touch in her whole life. Lorianne was pretty psyched to be able to try it out herself. We think she might have appreciated the experience more than the kids did (hee!) Her mom was visiting so we dragged her along too. Grandma J and Auntie Janice completed our cheering section!


This was Xander's first piano recital and he seemed completely unphased. Matthew was a little unsure at first as there were a lot of people he didn't know but soon got into it. He sure is an enthusiastic singer!


Titus made his first appearance tucked into Mrs Hannah's pouch with brother Timmy. It was also Amelia's first music recital. She totally puked on the floor right before the recital started (thanks Uncle Dave for cleaning the floor) and wanted to eat her instrument rather than shake it but I thought she did pretty well for nine months...


Elizabeth completely surprised us by having a fit of nerves. My aunt Joanne is a very talented pianist and composer. Elizabeth received some of her music for Christmas and is very determinedly was working away at some of the pieces. "Firefly" particularly caught her fancy and she practiced it so often that some of her other class pieces suffered a bit. We were explaining this to Mrs Shana, who suggested Elizabeth might like to play Firefly for the recital. Well, Elizabeth went up to the piano all by herself at her first recital when she was not quite five and wasn't nervous at all, but this time she was SUPER nervous to the point that we thought she was going to cry when she performed it in class.


"Everyone will know that I'm different" she explained. "It's not in the fat book!" She insisted on playing it very slowly and with me pointing, so it definitely was not her best rendition. Honestly I should have refused to help as I was a hindrance rather than a help. She also normally holds down the pedal, but "couldn't find it" on the super fancy piano. Never mind, she still did an awfully good job and we are super proud of her.


After the recital, the kids all got glow bracelets and candy as a treat. Matthew had his on his wrist and was proudly examining it at every opportunity. Next thing I know it had somehow cracked open, gushing up his nose, into his eyes, mouth and all over his dress shirt. Auntie Janice helped me flush him out a couple of times while he hollered and tried to run away (poison control later told us they recommend at least ten minutes - that might have required more than two adults). He's fine, but not sure what he thinks of glow bracelets anymore...


PS You can hear (and buy!) Joanne's music, including what the piece sounds like when Joanne plays it on her website at


February 20, 2016

We had enough snow to make a pretty decent fort. The kids made a snowman to guard the front door. I did most of the digging of the fort. Elizabeth complained that I made the roof pretty thin as she wanted the fort to last a long time but I was worried about a potential collapse so they had to make do.


I drew the line at making more than two bedrooms. There's an emergency slide, steps, a kitchen and play area. But mercifully they agreed that if anyone needed toilet facilities they could go inside.


February 19, 2016

Auntie Janice here. As most of you know, lately there’s been a lot of ambulances visiting our house… all for me. The count stands at 9 visits to hospitals- 8 of which involved epinephrine.


I swear I’m not playing hospital bingo, but I’ve been recognized by the same paramedics, the same triage nurses, the same nurses, and an ER doc who recognized me from an allergic reaction several years ago… I’ve visited all the hospitals in the city, and even stayed in some of the same beds. So if there was such a thing I think I’ve won. Sigh…


The other day at Brownies, we had an ambulance visit for our First Aid badge. One of the Brownies came downstairs and said “Pygmy Owl (that’s me), I didn’t know what we were doing tonight, so when I saw the ambulance outside I thought it was for YOU!”. Clearly we’ve had enough random conversations that my Brownies are really starting to understand allergies, lol! For example… Brownie: “WHY do you have that HUGE bruise on your arm, Pygmy Owl?” Pygmy Owl thinks for a minute… hmm… how to phrase this… I had another allergic reaction last weekend at work, and the nurse couldn’t find my veins for an IV, so she gave me Benadryl in the muscle, and went really deep or something and it bled a lot. “I had another allergic reaction last weekend, and the nurse didn’t do a very good job of giving me the medication. But, the medication helped a LOT so I don’t really mind that I got a bruise.”


The good news is that the allergy testing does seem to have given us some leads. To the previous list of 13 fruits, vegetables, and nuts… I have added black pepper, bell pepper, and a couple extra nuts. My allergist also highly suspects an allergy to sulphites, which are apparently in EVERYTHING. They occur naturally in many foods such as onions, garlic, soy, maple syrup, and cheese… they are added to almost everything pre-made including salt, spices, alcohol, gelatin… and they are heavily used in processing things like starches, corn syrup, and anything dried. By cutting out most sulphites, I’ve reduced my hospital visits down to: no food related ones! I say “most” because I’m still working on finding sources of sulphites- I still get hives pretty regularly- and it seems my regular medications may be a source. BOTHER. Thankfully my pharmacy is a compounding one and they may be able to make a custom version that doesn’t involve gelatin, starch, or citric acid :D YAY!


For now, I won’t be eating much of anything I didn’t make myself from scratch… which has been occupying about 14-24 hrs a week as far as I can tell. I finally have a week’s worth of frozen meals in my freezer, and am hoping that with another few baking sprees perhaps I can keep it at two weeks! That would be nice. To combat the inevitable boredom associated with eating the same ~35 ingredients every day I’ve taken to having a little crazy fun like shaping my ground beef, or making all my pancakes into owls. In my opinion, the grapefruit toffee is pretty good- though both Elizabeth and Matthew are not fans. They much prefer my sweet potato chips, but with a small container requiring about 7 hours to make… I’m not likely to be sharing many! I’ve rationed them out to last me as long as possible, as snacks are a luxury these days.


February 18, 2016
There was so much snow at Dovercourt it was up to the swings! I dug out a picture from the summer of the same swing so you can get an idea of how far off the ground that is!

February 16, 2016

52 cm of snow at once! The kids were SUPER excited and I might have been a wee bit too! It was also a snow day. We didn't drive Elizabeth to school but we did all go to music class and then to the library. Elizabeth was pretty pleased to get to be Amelia's "helper" for music "... because I'm really too big to go to a baby class now Mom" said she, sparking fury from Matthew who was not happy about his beloved music class being characterized as for babies. Although there are definitely babies who participate and Amelia isn't even the youngest anymore!

By the time we got home around noon the snow was coming down heavily enough that I cancelled any ideas I had about driving anywhere else for the rest of the day. The plows were having a hard time keeping up and even the main roads were pretty terrible.

Eventually it stopped snowing quite so much and we decided we needed to clear the driveway. I was borrowing some snow shoes from Grandma J so the kids and I promptly put on our snowshoes and headed outside. I even shovelled a bit, wearing snow shoes with sleeping baby strapped to my chest. Does it get more Canadian than that?!?! Elizabeth was running up and down snow banks and generally having a blast. Matthew had a bit more trouble as he kept stepping on his own feet and having to be hauled back up but loved the snow!

There's a new app for tracking your snow plows in Ottawa this year and it's been pretty terrible so far. But this time after it went all day telling us that it wasn't about to give us an estimate since residential road plowing hadn't started yet (fair enough), when I finally checked the estimate was pretty good. Mind you, it had previously told Brendan 20 minutes about an hour and a half before that. But I still think it's an awesome concept and every storm they are getting better... Plus it's amazing to me that people basically still all went to work and we still received courier packages etc all day.


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