The fort magic building pieces have gotten a LOT of use over the last two and a half years; so much that some of the connectors are starting to wear out and will need to be replaced.
Matthew and Elizabeth are now old enough that they can build very elaborate things; Amelia enjoys it too but tends to demand that someone helps her build specific ideas. Recently she's been playing at being a scary tiger in a cage.
The other kids thought this was a great idea. Elizabeth and her friend Ruici turned it into a Michael trap.
It is now firmly fall, even though the temperature has been swinging wildly and we've had quite a very +30C days. Amelia is very excited to be wearing long sleeves and sweaters, even if the thermometer doesn't always agree.
Fall means that we have a new "household deficiency" list to work on. Twice a year we walk around our house and photograph all the outstanding maintenance items, prioritizing them.
This year we ended up with a list of about 80 items - quite a few that we wanted done "before winter". We've been working away on the list ever since.
In addition to many of our regular fall tasks, we replaced the patio doors, cleared out the garage, repainted the exterior garage walls, replaced the raccoon's toilet (aka the little roof at the back of the garage), and rerouted our TV cable under the house extension. The last one represents a big milestone because the kids were actually able to go under the house and do a lot of the messy work. This is good because I'm getting to the life stage where I no longer think this is exciting and Brendan just doesn't fit. I am also no longer comfortable sitting up on a roof or climbing a ladder. My balance changed quite a lot after pregnancy and it just doesn't seem to be coming back. I did manage to do what needed doing but I was NOT happy about it.
One thing that we haven't yet had to do is raking leaves. Not having to rake is one good thing that has come out of losing our beautiful tree.
It was Daddy's birthday (it's all downhill from here, he says)
We had birthday muffins at breakfast (because it's hard to put candles in Daddy's miniwheats) and birthday cheese at lunch and lasagna and black forest cake WITH cherries for supper.
We had an impromptu movie night with the neighbours after we got home from London. We watched the Secret life of Pets, which turned out to be WAY too intense for Amelia.
She got to the part where the adorable kittens suddenly turn ferocious and she was done. Didn't even object to going to bed instead of watching the rest of the movie; was quite happy to have a story and a cuddle with mom. "I'm not thinking about dose kitties anymore!" she told me quite seriously. "Too much scary stuff will give me a headache".
Elizabeth, Michael and I went to London so that Elizabeth could compete in the Grand Karate Nationals. It was also inventory weekend which is our busiest weekend of the year for work, so I was very lucky that my boss let me have the weekend off (!). I did what I could to ensure that someone else was in charge of the middle kids for most of the weekend, because there are always times during inventory weekend when we need to have focussed time to figure out what has gotten screwed up this time and we were hoping to have a new scanner system trial go smoothly.
Amelia's godfather Michael took them skating, Janice took Matthew to his birthday party and Auntie Yukiko and Uncle Chris were going to take the kids for supper and overnight until Yukiko very unfortunately became ill. Luckily nothing went wrong during inventory that night! They slept in an igloo in the basement so they didn't feel too deprived.
In any case, Brendan needed to have the van available and Michael hates the car after about two hours of travel, so Brendan insisted we take the train. Elizabeth and I didn't complain.
We spent almost the entire time on the train alternating reading chapters of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (the next karate book club book).
Auntie Mary very graciously agreed to pick us up in Toronto so that we would have more time to visit. We had a lovely drive to London and then went to visit Great Aunt Vera. Elizabeth learned to play Scrabble on Vera's super large scrabble board (it's amazing - it has quadruple word scores lol). She was pretty excited to get to put down all her letters twice and beat the lot of us by a significant margin. Yes, we did help her.
Then we all headed over to Auntie Maybeth's for supper and bed. I was pleased to find out that my cousin David was there with his two kids. I'd never met Owen or Nina before so it was nice to rectify that! Owen was interested in karate, so Elizabeth showed him a few moves. We had an amazing time staying with Maybeth and were sorry we had to leave so soon.
The next day was the actual competition. Elizabeth was hardly nervous, though she did spend a lot of time trying to figure out how many girls were going to be sparring against her. She was very happy to see her friend Remi. Elizabeth took bronze in kata out of a field of eight competitors, four of whom were very very good. In my completely expert and unbiased view (ha!) she should have had the silver. She did super well though and was ranked first by one of the judges. She was pleased with herself as her goal was to do a good jump and focus on extending her legs and she reckoned she did that.
There were only three advanced girls so it was a very low pressure fight - Elizabeth likes getting guaranteed medals. The first fight against random competitor should have been winnable but she just wasn't quite ready. It was awkward because Elizabeth didn't actually realize at first that she had lost her match. "Wait - I lost? That kid was so slow!" Remi usually beats Elizabeth in competition and today was no exception, but Elizabeth's second fight was much better than her first and we wondered how she might have done if she had warmed up a bit first (that's going to be next fight's goal - to get in a practice at the event!). It was fun to see how much the girls have improved.
After they were done we thought we'd head straight to Toronto but Elizabeth was keen to see sensei Brigitte and sensei Cody fight. Of course they were scheduled in the afternoon but we stayed to cheer and it was pretty fun to watch. Brigitte and Justine got matched up and so did Ben and Cody. So many Douvris people to cheer for it was hard to know where to look! Sensei Justine actually won both grands. "How much did you win?" demanded Elizabeth. "$400!!!! I want to win money!!!"
At one point the kids were all sitting down watching the men's sparring and got told off for not being on their feet ready to jump out of the way as they nearly got run right over.
After the competition was all over Mary drove us Toronto to stay with Auntie Muriel. We had a lovely supper and good time catching up. Elizabeth introduced Michael to the cuckoo but not the cuckoo "tradition" of whistling with cuckoo since she forgot the whistle for the first time ever. I was only a little sorry (hee).
All too soon it was time to take the train home. Muriel dropped us at the station as Mary didn't stay over. Elizabeth and I spent the ride reading and catching up on homework, methodically making sure that everything we had brought with us got used to justify having brought it in the first place.
It was a great trip but the best part might have been coming home...