So much to be Thankful for!

October 12, 2009

We hosted D’Arcy’s side of the family for Thanksgiving Dinner yesterday and it was worth every moment of the preparation!  Back when we first invited everyone, they all wanted to bring food, but because of Olivia’s allergies, we decided that it is far less stressful to cook everything ourselves and then we could be sure she was safe.  I started making pies & rolls two weeks ago, and put them in the freezer.  Auntie Kay came over on Saturday and we peeled, chopped & cooked the potatoes, squash & applesauce.  We closed out the B&B Saturday night and got the tables set up so that we wouldn’t be in a huge panic in the morning if guests decided to hang around.

Yesterday, D’Arcy put the turporken in the oven at 7 a.m.  We had told people to arrive anytime after two.  We went to church, and rushed around tidying up.  I was in a panic because at 2:00, I was still mopping the kitchen floor and D’Arcy was running out to my parents’ house to pick up extra chairs.  At 2:45 when the first guests arrived, I commented that I should have remembered who it was coming to dinner and then I wouldn’t have been so stressed about not being ready on time!

It was a beautiful day, so the cousins could go outside and play while the grown-ups got caught up.  The one thing I was most stressed out about was making gravy, as I’ve not had much success in the past, and the turporken is so lean that there weren’t many drippings.  However, between Shannon, Karen & I, we actually made a pot that tasted really good!!

At five, we got everyone assembled around the table and D’Arcy welcomed everyone and said grace.  Then, we proceeded to go around the table of 35 and everyone (with the exception of the under-5 set) told what they were thankful for.  There was lots of laughter and a few tears as we reflected on all the riches we have in our lives, and thought about those family members who couldn’t join us due to distance or work commitments.

We then got the food out on the kitchen table and served it buffet style.  I am pleased to say that I managed to get it all out hot and had made enough!  When we were all eating, Sarah presented Grandpa with an ear of corn that she grew for him.  Her corn stalk had produced two ears – each about an inch long – so she cooked one for him and one for her!  I didn’t realize until afterwards that she actually ate hers!

At dessert time, we recognized Phinn’s upcoming first birthday and Uncle Bill’s upcoming 50th.

I tried to figure out today how much food we actually consumed and came up with the following:

  • shrimp ring
  • veggie tray
  • two bags of veggie chips
  • a bag of pita crisps
  • Large Turporken which should serve 25 (all but one drumstick and enough meat to make a sandwich)
  • 8lb pork roast
  • 4 lbs roasted new potatoes
  • 5lbs mashed potatoes
  • three squash
  • 2kg sweet green peas
  • 5lbs stuffing
  • two steamed cabbages with sage butter
  • 1 litre bean salad
  • 6 dozen rolls
  • 1 litre cranberry sauce
  • 1 litre apple sauce
  • 1 litre gravy
  • 1 jar of mustard pickles
  • 1 pumpkin cheesecake
  • 24 pumpkin muffins
  • 1 pan of apple crisp
  • 2 1/2 blueberry pies
  • 1 1/2 apple pies

I hate to fathom a guess how much wine, beer, pop, juice, coffee & tea we went through!

And did I mention that it was ALL peanut, treenut, egg & soy FREE?!  (I did mention at the table that I was thankful to have regained dairy!)

When everyone was leaving, one of D’Arcy’s brothers suggested that this might have to become a new annual tradition and we couldn’t agree more!

The homemade bread, dried and ready to be made into stuffing

The homemade bread, dried and ready to be made into stuffing

The table, being set

The table, being set

Olivia with Auntie Kay & Uncle Hug

Olivia with Auntie Kay & Uncle Hug

Brian & Morag

Brian & Morag

Emily playing with some of the youngest family members

Emily playing with some of the youngest family members

The turporken, just about at temperature. (Yes, we cooked it upside down!)

The turporken, just about at temperature. (Yes, we cooked it upside down!)

Visiting before dinner. (I didn't really ever get out here to join in.)

Visiting before dinner. (I didn't really ever get out here to join in.)

It was a beautiful day for playing outside!

It was a beautiful day for playing outside!

Phinn with his Uncle Ryan

Phinn with his Uncle Ryan

Skateboard lessons from cousin Pat

Skateboard lessons from cousin Pat

Evan, the no-handed pogo stick jumper

Evan, the no-handed pogo stick jumper

Our boys will need to practice a lot before they're as good as Pat!

Our boys will need to practice a lot before they're as good as Pat!

Michael, Camille & Stephen discussing various important matters.

Michael, Camille & Stephen discussing various important matters.

Cheesy photo, but the only one of the two of us...

Cheesy photo, but the only one of the two of us...

Another cheesy photo while we tried to figure out how to make the gravy...  It was really tasty!

Another cheesy photo while we tried to figure out how to make the gravy... It was really tasty!

Olivia & Aunt Shannon

Olivia & Aunt Shannon

Finding our places at the table

Finding our places at the table

D'Arcy, welcoming our family and getting ready to say grace

D'Arcy, welcoming our family and getting ready to say grace

Kathleen, starting off the "What I'm Thankful For" Circle

Kathleen, starting off the "What I'm Thankful For" Circle

Sarah, presenting Grandpa with the corn she grew for him.

Sarah, presenting Grandpa with the corn she grew for him.

What we're thankful for - our family!

What we're thankful for - our family!

Phinn being amused by his grandpa, "Otty" so Emily could finish her dinner.

Phinn being amused by his grandpa, "Otty" so Emily could finish her dinner.

Thanksgiving Dinner entertainment by John.  The other kids joined in of course!

Thanksgiving Dinner entertainment by John. The other kids joined in of course!

Phinn with his "Great" Auntie Anne

Phinn with his "Great" Auntie Anne

Fourteen of twenty-two grandchildren & one great grandchild!

Fourteen of twenty-two grandchildren & one great grandchild!

We truly are very blessed and have so much to be thankful for!

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Lucky Number 13

September 15, 2009

Our great-nephew, Phinn, is one lucky boy:  he has 13 grandparents!  That’s right, all four grandparents, all eight great-grandparents, and one great-great grandmother are still living and live in close proximity!  (And NO divorces!)  On Sunday, Mike & Emily invited all of them over for dinner – what fun!  I hear it was a great time.  While they were there, each one put a hand-print on a canvas for Phinn, and they took photos.  Emily was kind enough to give me permission to post one of them!

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I’d say that in this case, 13 is a very lucky number!

Chris & Lisa’s Wedding

August 10, 2009

Saturday was a gorgeous day for a wedding! We lazed around the hotel room in the morning, swimming & hanging out.  D’Arcy & the boys then dropped the girls & me off at Lisa’s parents’ house at 11:00 so that all the girls could get ready together.  The girls were so anxious to be part of it all!  The boys, on the other hand, were anxious to get go-carting. Lisa was already getting her hair & make-up done when we arrived.  The girls watched for a bit and then we went upstairs so that they could eat before putting their dresses on.  Their cousin, Meghan, (sister-of-the-groom) was ready by that time, so she sat with them.

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The girls were really good, but Sarah mentioned a few times that she was “a little bit” nervous!  They were so funny because Olivia was acting like a ham the whole time and Sarah was extremely quiet.  It was hard to coax even a smile out of her, so I was really worried about what would happen at the church! When everybody was ready, we went outside into the backyard for some fun photos.

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My favourite!

My favourite!

Before long, it was time to get to the church.  D’Arcy & the boys had arrived to pick us up and were full of stories of the fun they’d had go-carting!  They said that they can’t wait for the girls to be old enough to go!  The girls were excited (Olivia) & nervous (Sarah).  Lisa had given them little purses with jewelery in them at the rehearsal party, so I filled them with mints and put them up in the front pew of the church and told Meghan that if they started to get restless, they could dip into their purses.  We told the girls that we would be sitting at the front with Grandma & Grandpa and headed up to our seats. I don’t know who was more nervous, myself or Christopher.

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As it turned out that I needn’t have worried – the girls came through and were perfect!  They smiled and held hands & generally exuded cuteness!

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The girls sat with the “other flower-girls” (Sarah’s words) and were really good for the first part of Mass. About ten minutes into the Homily, I heard Olivia start to whimper & saw worried looks pass among the other girls’ faces. I was thinking to myself, “Wrap it up Father, we’re losing her…” Then I heard, “I need my Mama”. I gestured to the girls to send her over to me, and she came and sobbed on my shoulder for a minute or two.  I found out later that she had gobbled up all her mints immediately, and started to cry when she didn’t have any left.  (Sarah still had a purse-full the next morning!)  Sarah took her duties very seriously and did everything she was supposed to despite the fact she had not practiced at rehearsal!

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Olivia sat with us throughout the Wedding Sacrament and Communion, then she decided to head back to where she was supposed to be.  She processed back out of the church with the Wedding Party, so was at least there for the important parts.

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We headed to “The Dingle” for photos and it was a beautiful backdrop!  What a glorious  day!!

The bride and all her "flowergirls"

The bride and all her "flowergirls"

Christopher & his parents

Christopher & his parents

Our best attempt at a family photo...

Our best attempt at a family photo...

Meghan, Lisa, Chris, Kim & Michael

Meghan, Lisa, Chris, Kim & Michael
Some quiet time while wating for photos

Some quiet time while wating for photos

Some cuddle time with big brother Alex

Some cuddle time with big brother Alex

The wedding party

The wedding party

Amusing herself

Amusing herself

The kids (tired of posing by now, but happy to be allowed to climb among the waterfall & the trees!)

The kids (tired of posing by now, but happy to be allowed to climb among the waterfall & the trees!)

Chris & Lisa and the bridal party headed over to the tower & then to the waterfront for more photos, so we took the opportunity to go back to the hotel, park the van, relax for an hour & grab the cupcakes before heading to the reception.  Oh yes, and Olivia had a quick nap!

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We got to the reception and were happy to discover that we were seated at the same table as Auntie Kay, Uncle Hug & the boys.  The meal was a buffet and Olivia had her very own special plate of grilled chicken breast & steamed vegetables.  Oh – and “kepetch”.

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Crazy cousin Mike was sitting at the table next to us and kept us all entertained throughout the evening.

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Rather than having people tinkle their glasses, there was a list of true or false questions made up that guests could answer.  If they got it right, the bridal couple kissed; wrong and you had to kiss someone at your table.  Our statement was “Christopher weighed 8lbs, 3oz. when he was born.” I didn’t know the answer, but our babies were around that size, so I figured it could be true.  D’Arcy told me he didn’t know either, so we guessed true.

Chris weighed 9lbs, 11 oz!!  Yikes!!

I’ll never know for sure if D’Arcy actually did know the answer, or just threw the question on purpose…

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We had a lot of fun visiting and the speeches were the right mix of funny & touching.

Do we look like we were having fun?

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Mike & Grandpa

Mike & Grandpa

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The dance was scheduled to start at 9 p.m. sharp and the kids were psyched.  In the morning, when I had asked Olivia what we were going to do at the wedding, she threw her arms in the air and yelled, “DANCE”!  Unfortunately, at about 8:45, she fell asleep in my arms.

Lisa’s grandmother had made a quilt as a gift for Chris & Lisa and it had been presented to them during the speeches.  We wrapped Olivia in that special quilt and put her down underneath the head table so that no one would step on her.  I like to think that having a baby wrapped in it on their wedding night might bring them some good baby luck…

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The rest of us were on the dance floor as soon as the music started.

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Unfortunately, Sarah danced with such vigor, she wore herself out after just two songs and fell asleep in my lap.  Being a flower-girl wears a girl out!!

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Rather than leaving, we put her under the table with her sister, wrapped up in Chris’ tux jacket.

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The boys were tired too, but insisted that they wanted to stay until they could make a conga line.  I wish I had a photo of that, but we were all involved & having too much fun!

Lisa & Kathryn

Lisa & Kathryn

We had arranged for our niece, Kathryn, to come and stay at the hotel with us and babysit so that we could stay at the wedding.  We took all the kids upstairs to our hotel around 11:00 and when we got back to the dance an hour or so later, this is what we found:

"I knew the bride when she used to Rock & Roll..."

"I knew the bride when she used to Rock & Roll..."

This is Lisa, joining in with Kim’s band.  Yes, the mother-of-the-groom’s band played at the dance and they were AWESOME!!

We left after one when the music stopped, but the dance floor was still full.

What a fun wedding!  What a fun couple!!  We hope that they might always be surrounded by that much laughter & love!!

On Saturday, we had 28 people here for lunch to celebrate Auntie Ruth’s 80th Birthday.  Auntie Ruth isn’t exactly related to us, but my mother lived with her when she left home after her own mother died and ended up getting married out of her house.  She proposed the Toast to the Bride at our wedding, and is like another grandmother to our kids.  She is very special to us.  So we invited family and some close friends and Mom & I made lunch for everyone.  

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The menu was Squash & Apple Soup, then a Pear, Carmelized Onion & Brie Strudel on a Bed of Greens, followed by a Shrimp & Scallop Casserole, and a nut & egg free chocolate birthday cake from Scanway – YUM!!  We debated with that number of people on how to seat everyone and ended up making one long table that extended into the hallway.  

 

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Our kids were really well-behaved and sat at the table nicely – until it was time for the speeches!  At that point, balloons & the laundry basket were much more entertaining for them!

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When it was time for the cake, they were back to being helpful and all four presented the cake to Auntie Ruth and helped her blow out the candles.

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 The four of them shuffled along, each with a hand on the cake plate, and we had to sing happy birthday twice because it took them so long to get around the table to her:

Her daughters who now live out West had both sent e-mail toasts to be read and her son Ron did a toast with a question period about what life was like in the 20’s!  My brother called to wish her well because he couldn’t be here and some of her friends told stories from back in their university days; it was really quite fun.  One interesting tidbit that came out during the conversation was that her grandaughter, Johanna, who is studying law at NYU, was invited to Barak Obama’s Inauguration and was sitting about 100 feet from him when he was sworn in!!  

The family helped out in the kitchen, washing dishes and helping us to serve, so it all went smoothly and we were able to relax and enjoy the party!  Now, we’d better start planning her 85th!

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2009

It’s been quite a week and we had a wonderful New Year’s Eve Celebration withgreat friends and family.  We’ve done a lot of socializing this week.  Today’s plan is to run a few errands (bothSarah & Alex broke their glasses in the past couple days and we’re out of rice milk) and start to take down the decorations.  D’Arcy has cleared away most of the snow from yesterday’s blizzard, but still has a couple more hours to do outside this afternoon.  We’ll head for the city this afternoon with the boys and go to dinner at The Granite Brewery (where we met) and then to see the play “Plaid Tidings” at Neptune Theatre.  Olivia has been on amoxicillin since the 30thwhen I took her to the doctor and discovered she had both an ear & chest infection.  Yesterday, she started to develop a rash and today she is covered from head to toe, so no more penicillin for her!!  We’ll keep an eye on her today…

Every year on Boxing Day, there is a fundraiser in the name of Jamie Shephard, my friend Martha’s brother.  Jamie was killed in a car accident when we were in Grade 9 and he was in his early 20’s.  The monies raised go to a scholarship given out to a high school student who is well rounded each year and various other charities.  Over the past 20 years, they have raised over $100,000.  This year, we invited Martha & her husband as well as some of my other high school friends who were in town for the holidays to come over here for a drink before going out.  We had a great time getting caught up! 

In the afternoon, we had gone down to visit with Auntie Kay, Uncle Hug & the boys to exchange gifts and have our annual birthday party for Baby Jesus.  The cousins had a fun playing together outside & it was so relaxing for D’Arcy & I to have the chance to sit & just enjoy!

The cousins all together

The cousins all together

Olivia hadn’t napped, so she went to bed at 5:30.  Sarah asked for orange salad & broccoli at about that time and when I came down from putting Olivia to bed, this is how I found my second very tired girl – fast asleep on the floor!

Christmas tires a girl out!

Christmas tires a girl out!

 Our friends from Newfoundland, Sandy & Dave arrived with their son Nate that night because her mother’s house was filled with her siblings & kids.  We were so excited to have them with us, but Dave had a cyst in his cheek and was feeling miserable.  He was going back & forth to the hospital to receive IV antibiotics, so it wasn’t a normal visit. 

He was cleared to fly on the 28th and they left around noon.  My grandmother’s funeral was scheduled for the next day at 11:00 past Digby, about a four hour drive from here.  We talked and thought that it would be torturous to drive there, sit through Mass, and back again with the kids, so I got on the phone and called the coordinator for the International Student Program and asked her to find alternate accommodations for Danny for that night.  I then contacted the manager of White Point Beach Resort in Liverpool who is the Chair of the Provincial Tourism Association.  We had never taken Olivia to a hotel before, so I wasn’t sure about feeding her or keeping her safe.  I was assured that they could accommodate her so we booked a two-room cottage on the ocean and set out at about 3:30.

The drive was a bit hairy because we had fog all the way and Olivia had developed a cough.  About half-way there, she coughed until she threw up, so we stripped her off and wrapped her in a blanket in her carseat.  We arrived at about 6:30, checked in and made dinner reservations for 7:30.  We weren’t sure if we were setting ourselves up for disaster because it was normal bedtime, but the dinner was wonderful!!  I had ricotta ravioli with a maple curry cream sauce and D’Arcy had Planko Scallops.  The food was amazing, the children were well behaved, and Olivia had no problems!!  Her first meal in a restaurant was grilled chicken breast, plain baby carrots, cranberry juice & a banana in the peel for dessert!  She wolfed it down!

Dinner at White Point Beach Resort - Olivia's first restaurant meal!

Dinner at White Point Beach Resort - Olivia's first restaurant meal!

We went back to the cottage and D’Arcy lit a fire.  We were all so tired that instead of playing a game like we had intended to do, we all watched a movie then went to bed.

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The kids set their alarm for 6:20 so that they could get up and have a swim before breakfast when the pool opened.

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We had breakfast and got on the road to cross the province by 9:15.  The weather was beautiful and we arrived at the church with about five minutes to spare.  The funeral Mass was in a beautiful old church overlooking the water.  The kids were well behaved, although Olivia had a hard time sitting still – thank goodness for skittles!  The burial was immediately following in the adjoining cemetery.  We all went into McDonald’s for lunch and, feeling brave, I ordered Olivia a hamburger patty with ketchup and apple juice!  Again, she was just fine – what a relief! 

We drove home through the Annapolis Valley and and all went to my parents’ house for dinner.  The kids were happy to play and be free of their carseats and put on a little show for us. 

Dancers

Dancers

Alex, singing

Alex, singing

For New Year’s Eve, we got together with Auntie Kay, Uncle Hug & the boys and went bowling.  (Olivia stayed with my parents – I wasn’t quite ready to take her to the bowling alley!!)

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Sarah bowled a 71!

Sarah bowled a 71!

D'Arcy wearing his shirt Alex got him at the flea market and Sarah's prize

D'Arcy wearing his shirt Alex got him at the flea market and Sarah's prize

We came back here to our place and were joined by the MacNeills and the Faulkners.  We fed the kids pizzas and then set them up with movies & games so that we could visit and have a nice dinner.

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The grownups had borscht, then lasagna (Mexican & vegetarian) salad & rolls for dinner. 

New Year's Crackers

New Year's Crackers

We moved into the living room by midnight and had fruit tarts for dessert.  We had confetti poppers for the kids, but by that time, the blizzard had already started.  I announced that we would just set them off inside and suspect we will still be picking it up by summer…

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Luke, covered in confetti

Luke, covered in confetti

We let everyone who is awake at midnight have some champagne.  The kids were so excited, but I don’t think any of them actually liked it!

Mira with her champagne at midnight

Mira with her champagne at midnight

We sat up and watched the ball drop in New York before they all set out in the snow to go home.  What better way to start 2009 than spending a fun night with family & friends!!

Meeting a Star!

November 28, 2008

Yesterday was D’Arcy’s 45th Birthday.  We managed to fit in a small celebration at suppertime.  I had spent the day at the school; it was the final Library Day for the kids, so we let every child in the school take home ten books to keep.  They were SO excited!!  One child even told us that it was the “best day of (his) whole life”!   After school, we decorated for the School Closing Ceremony tonight.  The school looks beautiful!  I’ll go back this afternoon to finish up all the last minute details. 

We had my parents here for Ruben’s at D’Arcy’s request and I made him a pumpkin gingerbread trifle for a cake and it was a hit!!

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D’Arcy left the table to head to Cubs and the boys went with my parents to a Jaydee Bixby concert.  He was the Canadian Idol runner-up in 2007.   They had second row seats and were so excited when they arrived home.  They were actually able to meet him and talk to him and the whole band signed their tickets.  Jaydee even took the time to have his photo taken with them.  Now that’s a real star in my books!

Evan, Alex & Jaydee Bixby

Evan, Alex & Jaydee Bixby

Olivia’s 2nd Birthday

November 4, 2008

When I think back to two years ago, I remember just wanting to get that baby out!  Olivia was due November 15th, but I was so happy to go into labour early!  I had had preterm labour, starting at 28 weeks, so was on strict bed rest until 34 weeks when I was allowed to be up & about, but was instructed to take it easy.  I was so tired of being pregnant and wanted her to come any time as long as it wasn’t on Sarah’s birthday or Hallowe’en.  I got my wish and she was born November 1st.  I am now realizing that the last week of October is always going to be chaotic here.

I started to bake Olivia’s cake on Hallowe’en night after the kids had gone to bed.  I was exhausted.  Since her birthday was on Saturday this year, we decided to have a pizza party with some family & friends.  The kids were wired & cranky and Alex & Sarah both got sent back to their beds for fighting at one point in the morning while I was trying to get the cake (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) decorated.

Helping with her cake

Helping with her cake

The cake was a safe egg, pea/nut, dairy, soy free white cake with lemon flavoring.  I made it with two bundt cakes and it was actually one of the easiest cakes I’ve decorated recently.  I used nibs for the feet and twizzlers for the antennae.  I was really pleased with how it turned out.

Sarah & I went grocery shopping and left D’Arcy & the boys in charge of clean up.  Let’s just say that I wasn’t as organized for this party as I normally am.  My plan was to have all of the pizzas (9) ready to go in the oven before everyone arrived.  That was a good idea in theory.  Jeff, Theresa & the three boys arrived for a sleepover at three and I put her to work.  Everyone else arrived around four:  Karen, Kevin & the three boys, Auntie Ruth & my parents, Olivia’s godparents, Bert & Lugene, and Colin, Suzana & Mira.  Bert & Lugene’s daughters, Erika & Rachel came over for a drink with Erika’s new boyfriend.  I was in the kitchen most of the time while some people hung out in the living room, some in the kitchen and Jeff took some of the kids outside to play. 

Lugene and Colin

Lugene and Colin

We fed the kids first:

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and then set them up in front of a movie while the grown-ups ate:

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Olivia opened some beautiful presents – my mother’s favorite was a new panda purse which her godmother brought her back from China.  It has replaced her Guinness Cooler bag as her epi-pen holder.  (She was getting embarassed taking a toddler places with a Guinness bag!)

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We got the kids back to the table for cake.

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And then they danced off their sugar-rush in the play room.

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Olivia ended up having a reaction to something but I’m not sure what. She had hives, diarrhea & a bright red bum. We gave her some Reactine and it didn’t go any further than that. There was shrimp around, but she did not eat any and her allergist has said that he’s 95% sure she isn’t allergic to shellfish. She was very affectionate and hugging everyone, so who knows what people might have had on their clothes…

When the evening was over, my parents took Auntie Ruth home, Kevin & Karen took the boys home, Bert & Lugene left to go spend some time getting to know the new boyfriend, Jeff put his kids to bed, I put the girls to bed and Evan, Alex & Mira played Monopoly while Colin, Suzana, Theresa, Jeff, D’Arcy & I stayed up talking.  It was a great night but I was very glad that the time changed and we got an extra hour of sleep on Sunday!!  A fun party, but I sure am glad that birthday season is over again until next year!