Elizabeth was invited to a friend's birthday party on the 28th (Elizabeth's real birthday). I thought it would be kind of weird to go but Elizabeth really wanted to go and promised up and down not to upstage the birthday girl (whose real birthday was the week before). Besides, Elizabeth explained, HER birthday party had to be on the 27th so that Rocco the racoon could share her cake. Because it turns out that February the 27th is Rocco's 1st birthday. "And Rocco is cute so he needs a birthday party. But please check with Adi's and Karis' mom to see if they are free"
Elizabeth also decided that she was old enough to plan her OWN party this year. There were the usual negotiations over how many kids she was allowed to invite (starting at nearly forty kids), and angst over the invitation text. At first she was all set to write invitations for everyone. Midway through she tried to outsource some of the writing (ha!). By the time she finished writing all the cards for kids at her school along with about thirty valentine's cards I took pity on her and agreed me to invite the kids that needed mailed invitations by email.
She was quite upset that cousins Erika and Maria couldn't come "not even by Skype??!?". There were many tears and lamentations about Japanese time zones.
Since it was Rocco's birthday, the theme had to be Beanie Boos. "What is a Beanie Boo party?" I asked. "All the kids will bring their favourite Beanie Boo to the party, and then we will play games" replied Elizabeth. I objected that some of the kids might not have Beanie Boos and got a pitying look in reply. But later she decided to make it a Beanie Boo or a favourite stuffed animal ("stuffy"), and "if they forget, I can lend them one". Once the theme and the invitations were set, we moved onto food. Elizabeth wanted pizza, juice boxes, cheese strings, jello, cheesies and mysterious "green balls". We had to ask a LOT of questions before we figured out that she was hoping for artichokes with cheese dip. I indulged her on everything except the artichokes but did promise to have them the next time I see some nice ones in the store.
For cake she decided on chocolate (no surprise there), made in the shape of her raccoon. We opted for cupcakes over one big cake because two of her friends have peanut allergies. "If [peanut allergic friend] has to bring [his] own food, [he]'ll bring a cupcake and then [he] won't feel left out". Auntie Janice did a lovely decorating job.
Elizabeth wanted to make sure Godmother Rachel could come to her birthday too. "Invite her to both of my parties and she can pick. Cuz she's my friend AND kind of family too." Rachel brought along her boyfriend Creighton, who was declared to be "great".
Elizabeth went to karate before her party and received a signed "birthday belt" from all the senseis. In the days leading up to her birthday she might have inquired anxiously about whether she would still get a special belt since the dojo is closed on Sundays... She didn't take the belt off until bedtime, when it got a place of honor with her army of stuffed animals on her bed.
Auntie Janice played some fun ice-breaking games (Name game, Have you ever). We did some charades where the kids had to guess which stuffed animal their friend was imitating. There was wild soccer in the basement.
Then Grandma came by so we had lots of help to manage the pizza making - it went much more smoothly than last year, when I was the only one in the kitchen frantically flinging ingredients on pizzas while the kids ripped open gifts mostly unsupervised.
Elizabeth decided that her guests needed shopkins ("but maybe the boys would prefer spiderman stuff or something like that") and little beanie boos (carefully selected for each guest) for a loot bag. Clearly her guests got the memo about her preferences because she received many shopkins and beanie boos herself as presents. There was a definite elephant theme! Art stuff, a sewing kit, kinetic sand, Legos.. She was completely thrilled. We almost managed to keep straight who gave her what for the first time ever - but opening presents eventually evolved into throwing wrapping paper wildly into the air and so that was the end of fond dreams of writing proper thank you notes. But she loved everything and told her friends this so I guess that counts.
After her party we had a family movie night.
I asked Elizabeth what she wanted me to write about her party. Eventually she settled on "It was super fun" She's already planning next year.
"Anna" is greatly valued despite (because of?) her Kinder egg origins.
Brendan attends a business breakfast meeting every Friday. Lately Elizabeth has insisted that he bring "Anna" along with him "to remember her by". This giving people random trinkets to remember her by is a fairly recent thing and it is greatly amusing to see what who gets. The neighbour kid across the street got 25 cents. Others get beads or stones. At least Anna is little and fits discretely in a pocket - although she may be extra clean as a result of being slightly too discrete...
Everyone went to the dentist at once. The theory was that Elizabeth, Daddy and I would all get cleanings and the younger two would get used to the dentist's office and maybe ride in the chair and see how easy and not scary it is.
Elizabeth was super happy to colour and make drawings for the hygienists. But she's had a bit of time to dwell on the trauma of her last dental visit and almost refused to sit in the chair. She definitely refused to open her mouth for a proper cleaning, though she did allow the dentist to inspect and got a clean bill of health. So much for being a good example, although in retrospect we should have seen it coming.
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 www.joannebender.com
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.