Ever since Elizabeth finished JK it's been our tradition to transition between school and summer holidays with gymnastics camp. However, Starr Gymnastics decided not to offer a summer camp this year for the kids in the French school boards (which get out a week earlier than the English boards).
The alternatives were sparse and unappealing so we decided we'd go and visit the Hippo House (Auntie Mary) and the Cuckoo Place (Auntie Muriel).
I was planning to take the kids and drive, but I was struggling with nausea and extreme tiredness especially in the car so Brendan insisted we take the train. Turns out kids get a $15 fare in the summer and I managed to pick up a cheap seat for $34, so any doubts I had vanished pretty quickly after that.
Of course the day we were due to travel Matthew woke up with a fever, sore throat and "owie tummy" but he perked up enough to get on the train. He slept most of the trip; Amelia sadly did not even attempt to nap until we were pulling into the station (by which point it was really too late).
Muriel borrowed a car seat and picked us up from the train station, then we had dinner with Muriel, Lauren and Donna and family and Ryan and Rebecca. Matthew played a little, ate less and slept on the couch while Elizabeth and Amelia turned cartwheels and generally had a wonderful time with cousins.
The next day Mary came and picked us up and we drove to Wellesley. On Tuesday Elizabeth was very cranky in the morning having insisted on sleeping on two very deep memory foam mattresses and "not having gotten a wink of sleep". Mary took Matthew and Amelia to the toy store to pick anything they wanted (a glow-in-the-dark fidget spinner and "my baby"). Elizabeth was feeling better after a sleep so we went out for lunch and to take Elizabeth to the toy store (she got a glow-in-the-dark fidget spinner too). Then Mary drove us to London to visit Vera. The kids played and coloured and ate cookies while we played on a HUGE Scrabble board. There might have been quite a lot of redirection required to prevent my children from completely destroying Vera's apartment - I was horrified to discover Matthew colouring on the floor and Amelia did her best to break Vera's snow globe. Turned out Elizabeth had caught whatever Matthew had as she had a fever and passed out cold on the floor, so she was not part of the shenanigans.
On Wednesday it was Amelia's turn to be sick but we had planned to go to African Lion Safari to see Elizabeth's Elephants and forecast said it was our only chance this trip. Since the illness appeared to be a fever plus much sleeping I decided Amelia could sleep on me or in a stroller at the Safari as well as at Mary's (also the prospect of entertaining the other two quietly at Mary's seemed like way more work). So off we went and it was WONDERFUL! Amelia slept all the way there but fever disappeared while we were at the park. We went on the boat, we went on the safari train, we went on the bus and we played in the water park! There were lots of elephants. Elizabeth especially liked watching them go swimming. She would have liked to ride one but this is kind of controversial and I decided that maybe she should learn more about why before deciding if she still wants to do that. Besides we didn't really have time!
The water park was amazing - the kids definitely want to come back and spend more time there. If I were to do it again I'd bring a picnic lunch for everyone and not just me because we spent too much time in line waiting for food. Mary had heard that it wasn't a great idea to bring your car into the safari and we were glad we didn't after we saw the monkeys climbing all over the cars. They have been known to rip off wipers and side mirrors, in addition to leaving presents on the roof. The peacocks were quite aggressively pecking at a few cars as well. Matthew liked the giraffes the best.
We also visited with Uncle Roy and Aunt Esther, played in the local park and discovered that Ottawa Pokémon is much more competitive than in Southern Ontario. Probably the few local players were happy to see us leave!
John and Joanne, Carl and Judy, Jacob, Chris and Arlene all came for supper. Murray and Judy and Rob and Val dropped by to say hi as well. All too soon it was time to pack up the car and head back to Ottawa.
We stopped in Oshawa to stay in a hotel overnight (with a pool! with a robotic pancake maker!) Elizabeth declared it "the best hotel ever".