February 28, 2018
For Elizabeth's birthday she had candles in her strawberries and chocolate Chex. The chocolate Chex was a special request as we aren't eating chocolate or dessert during Lent - except for birthdays and Sundays. (And no, stuffy birthdays don't count; this loophole was indeed discussed and rejected.)
It was the warmest February 28th on record today, going up to 10C so I let Elizabeth bring Michael to the bus stop. For lunch Elizabeth had a special request: "extra nori!"
We usually go out to a restaurant for birthdays, but when we talked about it Elizabeth realized "we have a timing problem". I gave her the option of going out for breakfast (but missing the bus), or lunch (but then no specially selected repas chaud at school, plus missing some school), or supper (but then missing music and/or karate and/or going to bed super late). She decided that she would rather not go out than modify her routine, provided that we could go out another day. I did surprise her with a Happy Meal at karate! After karate we had cake and presents.
Ultimately this reasoning and sensible behaviour actually sums up Elizabeth at nine pretty well. She is showing definite signs not only of turning into some sort of crazy athletic person but also a very sensible one. She has recently done shocking things like cleaning out her bedside toy box and declaring that "I have too much stuff in here, maybe I should get rid of some of it". She is generally quite mature, kind and thoughtful. She does still have a tendency of not wanting to be wrong (to the point of saying truly ridiculous things to pretend she knew something all along when she clearly didn't). This aside she is totally delightful 99% of the time. She is still super popular and friends with about half her school. She loves to read (mainly in French), sing, play with friends, draw, show off her flexibility and climb trees. She is super active: dance, swimming, karate, skating, running and generally playing outside. Her teachers all think she's amazing and are super proud of her independence and academic prowess. Elizabeth has also shot way up and is now one of the tallest of her friends and peers.
We really couldn't be prouder of our not so little girl.
February 26, 2018
While I've been recuperating at home, other people have been stepping up to take the older kids to their various activities. Brendan says that one of the things he's missed most is my help with the driving - he feels like he spent the last month in the car! I'm not the only one excited to get my wheels back.
Monday mornings Amelia has music class with Mrs Shana. My mom and I took Amelia to her class the week of Michael's birth as a transition. Then the following week, Amelia got to have TWO grandmas at music class. She seemed pretty tickled about the two grandmas, but by the next week she was quite definite that she only needed one grandma at music class. Luckily she decided that it would be acceptable for that one grandma to be Grandma Margaret, since Mom isn't on our insurance and had no way to get there! Margaret has been taking Amelia pretty much every week since.
This morning Margaret was in Mexico. Amelia was not amused, but grudgingly accepted that maybe it would be okay if Mommy came to music with her and Michael. So off we went. Michael slept through most of the class quite obligingly. When he woke up, Shana helped hold him for a bit when Amelia decided that she needed me to carry her (I think Amelia was feeling a bit jealous!)
After music we headed to the library for a snack. We even got to wave to the passing train on the way, so Amelia was super pleased about that. Michael got his first library card and a welcome book.
In the evening Matthew didn't want to go karate because he wanted to build legos, but since he's been building legos non-stop since Saturday we thought better go work out some of that excess energy. Plus our deal is that if Matthew wants to quit karate then he needs to tell us that at an appropriate quitting point, and not five minutes before a class. Matthew says that he doesn't want to quit, he just wants to build legos and then go to karate after. He told me in the car that he wants to learn kung-fu instead because it's taking too long to get to the fighting part of karate and his friend says that kung-fu is better. (I pointed out that he'll get to spar sooner if he actually goes to his classes...)
Anyway, Matthew said he'd only go if Mommy drove him, so I called his bluff. And that's how Michael got to go to karate for the very first time. He slept through the entire class, waking up only to charm everyone with his big blue eyes on the way out the door.
February 24, 2018
Matthew wanted to have a Star Wars pool party "just like last year" so we booked Dovercourt again and duly sent out invitations.
Sending out the invitations was more interesting that one might think. Turns out Matthew has two sets of twins in his class (he invited both sets, but we hadn't realized that two of the kids were related before the party). He's also mostly hanging out with the Jardin kids. Hardly surprising as he's one of the older kids in his class and he's always seemed mature for his age. Hopefully this isn't super sad next year when they all move to the big school... Franco has a pretty ethnically diverse population so over the years we've gotten used to hearing about kids with unusual (to us) names. I was quite amused to discover that "Pud" and "Ti-han" were actually Paul and Kiran.
The pool part was quite straightforward. Michael was sleeping - he actually slept very obligingly throughout the entire party - so I took the other three kids to the pool while Brendan set up the decorations and took some photos. We were supposed to be sharing the pool with another group but we were by ourselves which was very nice. Matthew tried swimming by himself and actually swam two or three metres unassisted!!! "I just learned how to swim!!" he announced. Elizabeth and Mila did the swim test and spent a great deal of time upside down or going down the water slide in the deep end. Matthew is hoping his swimming will improve enough to let him do the same by next year.
After swimming it was time to move on to the Stars Wars part of the party. We're a little bemused by the current Star Wars obsession as we haven't let Matthew watch any of the movies yet. In fact, we only just decided a few weeks ago that Elizabeth could watch Star Wars for the first time and he was quite put out to be excluded. In any case, both kids have long considered themselves experts and actually know a surprising amount about the Star Wars universe considering that what they know came from friends and the odd library book. This made choosing ideas for the party trickier than expected. Pinterest had fun ideas like action figures encased in blue jello or garbage compactor cake, neither of which would have made any sense to Matthew.
In any case, Matthew described his ideal party as using sticks to battle the other guests in a pretend light saber war. I promptly decided that a little structure in the way of activities was in order to ensure that the hour outside the pool didn't disintegrate into a wrestling match. Matthew and Elizabeth planned the "menu". Chips, popcorn, chocolate balls, juice, chocolate cake AND cupcakes by special request. The good news is that Elizabeth decided afterwards that this was too much sugar and her party is going to feature healthy food like salad in addition to chips, chocolate, juice and cake.
I printed out some colouring sheets, we wrapped some presents for a pass the parcel game and we set up a "laser" maze to climb through. The maze was a great hit although the boys destroyed it at the end about ten seconds before Elizabeth decided that she wanted a turn. "Worst party ever!" she complained, until I threatened to not allow Matthew to invite her next time.
Then the kids opened their loot bags, discovered the glowstick "light sabers" and charged around the room battling each other. "Oh Mummy I had a wonderful party", Matthew sighed at bedtime. "Let's do it again next week."
February 23, 2018
Our friends Rob, Jill and their kids Rachel and Andrew came to visit us again as Rachel had a skating competition in Ottawa.
There was much baby cuddling. Jill says to tell everyone that Michael is even cuter in person than in his photos.
Elizabeth and Rachel spent a good chunk of Thursday evening showing off their flexibility. Elizabeth and Matthew demonstrated their karate. Not to be outdone, Rachel showed off her jumps (seriously impressive). There was a wee bit of competitiveness going on and I was relieved that we got through the evening without any injuries right before the competition!
Friday we had planned to go skating on the canal, but the weather did not cooperate. The canal is now closed for the season. Actually the weather didn't cooperate with our backup plan to skate on parliament hill either - by the time Rachel was done her competition it was POURING freezing rain and there were accidents galore on the highway. The school buses had been cancelled so we kept the kids home. Fridays Brendan has the car for his morning meeting and we would have wanted to get the kids before the freezing rain so there didn't seem much point in the extra driving.
Rachel won a gold medal and is going to provincials next month, which was pretty exciting. She and Elizabeth were so cute comparing medals (skating vs karate). The kids all got along extremely well. All too soon it was time for Rachel and Andrew to go. Elizabeth and Matthew thought they should have stayed with us for two nights instead of one, but since Elizabeth has ballet and karate Friday evenings and didn't want to miss any of it the lure of a hotel pool was too good to pass up. Actually we thought about joining them but the timing really didn't work out so we decided they just have to come and visit again :)
February 19, 2018
I thought we ought to do something exciting like snowshoeing but instead was responsible and rested, cleaned the house and nursed the baby.
The older kids had to finish their music compositions due this week and other than that I told them they could do whatever they want so long as they didn't interfere with cleaning. So they covered the living room in glitter glue (aka made crafts from yesterday's birthday loot bags), played outside in the snow and got some screen time. Matthew had the most screen time and felt he had the least exciting day. Elizabeth told him he should have spent less time with the iPad and more time cuddling the baby.