Going to visit African Lion Safari is now tradition. We watched the elephant show for the first time, which was fun but not as fun as watching them have a bath and a lot hotter. Even the ice cream and the umbrella didn't really help.
I contemplated driving instead of taking the bus this year (skipping the destructive monkeys) but everyone agreed that we thought that the bus was fun and seeing monkeys is fun so we did the tour as usual. The animals all looked hot, especially the lions who were all lazing around in whatever shade was available looking like puddles of fur. The one rhino had taken over the shaded area that is usually full of goats. They didn't look happy. Actually the rhino looked a bit unhappy too, with lowered head and pawing the ground. I was glad we were not driving next to him even though it appeared it was the other animals he was crabby with and not really the cars.
Amelia's favourite animal this year was the monkeys. It was a really good day to spend at the splash pad and we were glad we allocated extra time here even if it meant that we didn't get a chance to ride on the train for once.
The elephant rides were closed due to a "serious incident" with a trainer a few days prior to our arrival, so we had no ethical dilemmas about whether to permit rides or not. We of course had to watch the elephants take their bath and it was extra fun to see the babies. Elizabeth got sprayed by the elephants and loved it, even though her siblings pointed out that she essentially got covered in elephant snot.
Meanwhile in Ottawa, there was a crazy lightning storm that went on for over two hours. Not a lot of rain, but enough of a show that Brendan hauled out the camera to play. The orchid was also being cute and got its photo taken at the same time.
Those of you that know me would probably agree that I'm a planner, but this morning we woke up and thought it looked like a good day to visit London so we just hopped in the van and went! Admittedly there was a fair amount of rushing around to get out the door, but that kind of goes with the territory of four kids.
Then we were calling Auntie Maybeth and Great Aunt Vera hoping they were free for a visit while we were on our way. Luckily for us they actually had plans with each other and were easily persuaded to have a visit instead.
We went to Storybook Gardens first because it seemed like a fun outing. There was sand, and mud and a bouncy blue thing. It wasn't a castle exactly but rather a series of giant bouncy balls that the kids could climb on. I didn't think it was appropriate for Michael though so we didn't hang out there too long as Michael wasn't terribly amused to just watch. There was massive slide ("the biggest slide I ever went down in my life!" said Matthew) in an extensive playstructure area complete with pirate ship theme. There was one structure in the process of being disinfected after what I gathered might have been a vomiting episode. Strangely I put that one off limits to the kids.
We could have spent all afternoon in the waterpark - it was lots of fun.
I didn't think the nursery rhyme theme was terribly strong but there were definitely a few things like Humpty Dumpty and the Old Woman who lived in a Shoe's house. It was cute if a little worn down in places. We really liked the set of tiny houses (bank complete with bank robbery in progress), fire station, grocery store (complete with fake ketchup bottles that really poured).
We ate lunch there because we hadn't had time to pack a picnic, and I did manage to find some lunch (eg hardboiled eggs, some cheese). If we went again I'd bring a lunch.
They also had a few fair type rides which were very popular with my kids. Michael was too little for most of them so he and I went to play in the mud pit. Elizabeth decided to go on the elephants (of course) and the middles did too. Elizabeth and Matthew both went on the Ferris wheel. All three of them went down the big slides. Michael thought he'd quite like to try that too. Elizabeth was the only one brave enough to try the spinny swing though. Matthew thought he might feel sick. Amelia was excited by the Merry Go Round so we all did that too and we all went on the little train to nowhere.
After Storybook Gardens we headed over to Vera's for some Scrabble, followed by supper at Maybeth's. Some of you know that I rarely put gas in the car - there's some question if I did at all during our last lease period. Brendan thinks I average less than once per car so he was slightly concerned as to whether I would run out of gas without my magic gas fairy doing the fill-ups. I did actually fill the car once on the way down but on the way home from London we taught Matthew how to pump gas for his first time so that I wouldn't have to do it :)
It was a long but very fun day.
Chilling at the Hippo House is always a good time. Tradition says it requires playing at the nearby parks, visiting with Great Uncle Roy and Great Aunt Esther next door, and many walks around the pond.
Auntie Mary also threw a little birthday party for Amelia which was very popular, especially the floating balloon part.
The last couple of years we've gone to visit Wellesley in the week after school ends but before the english boards let out and tourist attractions such as the Lion Safari get completely overrun with children. Typically we've taken the train but this year the summer special wasn't available until quite late and by the time it became available the idea of organizing car seats and a vehicle down south seemed much less attractive. Not to mention that NO ONE liked the idea of entertaining the baby on the train. In fact, the kids started to grumble about not taking the train when they first found out we were driving and I reminded them that going on the train meant going on the train with Michael. After that they decided that a road trip where he could be strapped in sounded just fine, especially after I promised we'd stop at the Big Apple at least once. Let's just say that Michael might be our busiest kid yet...
Anyway, we made it to the Big Apple without incident and discovered that they have a candy store where you can choose any combination of candy from the wall that will fit in a cup. Needless to say this was extremely interesting and the kids had a lovely time taking turns choosing the candy to fill the cup. We stopped in Toronto to visit Auntie Muriel (and her cuckoo clock). We had fun at the local park, aside from a rather sad incident involving shoes on the wrong feet and a chin meeting the pavement.
Our neighbour next door invited us to her birthday weekend celebrations, which was a marvellous excuse to leave our children with Uncle Chris for two nights in a row! We went to Fauna for a marvellous dinner Friday night and then headed to their cottage for an afternoon of swimming, hiking, eating, and generally puttering around on the water. Amelia's favourite part was watching Rafale swim and have his first canoe ride. Matthew's favourite part was kayaking up the creek with Noemie - further than anyone else! Elizabeth's favourite part was playing frisbee with Alex, his friend and Trevor.