Thursday, January 10, 2019

what we did on our christmas break etc

We had a lot going on this Christmas break, as you might imagine with wee children and an extended zoo of family [see last year’s entry here, as well], but with most of our plans not exactly falling into place in the ways we had hoped. Either way, we’re all doing motly well. Here’s some of what we had going on:

Aoife's preschool holiday party, preparing the stage for Santa's arrival
Early/mid-December: Both Aoife and Rose had their preschool/school concerts. Aoife’s preschool had a later afternoon/evening gathering where the children sang on stage. Aoife had been singing randomly for a couple of weeks, so we knew what the songs were already (Rose did the same, at her age), but she refused to go on stage to sing with the group. Rose, of course, was already happily ensconced on a cushy chair in the centre of the stage, like she owned the place.

Two weeks later, the combined senior and junior kindergarten classes had a morning assembly, which Rose spent days informing us she wasn’t interested in participating in, but watching (so, you’d be on stage for Aoife’s, but not your own?). Once we arrived, she was already there, waiting. She participated, fully, but for some stage-time playing with the curtain, which caused the girl beside her to actually grab her shoulders in a STOP DOING THAT WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU way, which seemed to amuse Rose (but she did stop). And for both of their groupings of teachers (three each): we gave them each a David’s Tea gift card, and a fresh banana bread (is it wrong that I feel slightly smug every time I gift one of their teachers a loaf of fresh bread I baked? Probably).

December 16, 2018: As we often have, we had our Christmas with father-in-law and his wife Teri before Christmas, for the sake of their Florida, come Boxing Day. With the wee girls we had a quiet gathering at their new-ish condo off Main Street, still awash in perpetual construction. Rows of condo, condo, hole in the ground, frozen layers of mud. The children made puzzles, we drank wine, it was good. Montebello, where we’ve Christmassed with them a few times now, will still be there (and apparently Montebello is undergoing renovations anyway, so there you go).

December 21, 2018: While not technically break yet, we were awfully close. Christine, Aoife and I (as Rose in school) lunched with my sister, Kathy, etcetera to celebrate niece Emma’s fifteenth birthday. Fifteen! We lunched at a buffet that apparently everyone in the world has been to except me. I wished to spend the day there (Christine said no). We saw cousins and even a further cousin, with my Aunt Bette and cousin Lori Anne Page in from the East End (Bette is widow of my mother’s youngest sibling, Bob). They were good to see, although slightly sad that Rose missed such (but we suspect Aoife was so quiet and well behaved because Rose wasn’t there for them to get each other worked up). Before we left, Aoife spent a long time attempting the fish in the fish-pond.

the new ramp at the homestead
December 24, 2018: We aimed to host my immediate family again this year, in our wee house (Kate’s new employment prevented her attendance, which was frustrating), but our father breathless the prior few days; that he was coughing up blood on the evening of the 23rd meant that my sister took him into the hospital in Alexandria, where they kept him overnight. Possibly his meds, they thought. Blood thinners making his blood far too thin. They shifted his meds, and it did seem to improve such, but it took a few hours.

We considered, instead, bringing all of our presents and food and fixin’s to my sister’s house, once Christine released noonish from work. Until we heard from Kathy around noon, though, we didn’t even know if such a plan was possible, but it was. He was feeling a bit better, and released home, but certainly not up for travelling up to our house. Turkey remained in our fridge. The scalloped potatoes unprepared, etcetera. Unopened can of cranberry sauce. My sister prepared, as we called it, a “pizza-mas” (which went well with her recent “cheese-giving,” earlier in the fall). All was good, and presents and I drank wine and Christine and my sister drank bubbly, etcetera.

We were half-way to the farm before we realized all the food we’d had ready that we could have brought with, but didn’t: the fresh blueberry pie, the bag of rolls, my grandmother’s lemon icebox cookies I’d made, the jellied salad I’d made (that my family has always had as part of Christmas dinners, but both Christine and Kathy’s husband Corey find very confusing). We spend some goodly hours there, and drove back to Ottawa just around the time the girls would have been prepping for bedtime. We transferred them straight from the car to their beds.

Nephew Duncan received a drum-kit for Christmas, which the girls were quite taken with. The three of them played (the girls finding musical instruments in the play-room to accompany Duncan’s drums) very noisily for a while. At one point, Duncan said: “I played the drums loud to frighten away the girls.”

“If you wanted to frighten girls away,” I offered, “you should have been a bass player.” Gold.

Christine didn’t think it was funny, so I posted same to twitter, later in the day. Pure gold.

the three ladies at the McLennan homestead
Christmas morning
December 25, 2018: We woke early for the sake of children, who tore into stockings. Now that Rose is beginning to get her head around reading, the gifts under the tree were distributed and opened within minutes, Rose handing one to Aoife, one to me, one to Christine, one to herself and teartearteartear and onto the next. One had to step back for safety.

Also, Christine's back had been bothering her already for some time, but she threw it out entirely by mid-day, just by attempting to pick it up. A VERY LOUD CURSE WORD WAS HEARD FROM THE LIVING ROOM, and then a whole lot of silence. Later on, I had to inform Christine she cursed at all, which she wasn't aware of. She turned to Rose: Did Mama curse earlier? Oh yes, replied Rose. Christine slow moving and slightly bent for the remainder of the day.

Given we weren’t scheduled to appear at mother-in-law’s for dinner until 4pm, midday was quieter. I sat at my desk, and managed the first half of He Speaks Volumes: A Biography of George Bowering (Talonbooks), the new biography by Rebecca Wigod. Strange to not only read a biography from someone I know, but to see myself within, twice.

Once in the basement of mother-in-law’s house, Rose repeated the morning’s gift handout and opening. I had tried to warn Oma, but she was still startled (and impressed) by Rose’s speed and efficiency.

The young ladies played happily with new toys and games and Oma’s bin of dress-up clothes in her basement. After dinner and some wine, we decided it was just easier to stay over, allowing the three grown-ups to have some good further conversation. And with the girls going to bed so late, they crashed almost immediately. We meandered back home in the morning, appeased (if not a wee bit groggy).

Our cat, Lemonade, was annoyed we’d been out at all, obviously throwing off his expectations of schedule.

Aoife at Science and Tech
December 27, 2018: I was feeling ambitious, so the young ladies and I drove Christine in to work in the morning and managed the Museum of Science and Technology pretty much five minutes after they opened. We ran around for an hour or more, around the time that the museum was starting to fill up. The benefits of Christine’s work being barely a block away, I suppose. The young ladies are rather fond of the trains and of the Krazy Kitchen (Aoife didn't used to be, so this was new), as well as the screen in the floor where the seal "emerges." 

By the afternoon, we were en route to Russell, a half hour or so east for an extended McNair event with a variety of Christine's cousins and their children, etcetera, all while Christine was, of course, still at work. We left after a couple of hours (of fine company and conversation) to collect Christine at her usual time, although at the end of her physio appointment, in another part of the city (conveniently located right by where we like to get shawarma).

December 28, 2018: We had our annual Peter F. Yacht Club Christmas party/reading/regatta over at the Carleton Tavern. See the report from the reading at the above/ground press blog. There was some plenty-good fun to be had, for sure.

A day of work, for both of us, also. Christine’s brother Michael had offered to take both girls during the day so they could play with their cousins. Drop them off on the way to work (Christine did have to work that day), he said. Really? Well, then. And so they spent the whole day with their cousins until Christine collected them at the end of the afternoon, heading straight over to see me at the Carleton Tavern, where we had dinner. Was a goodly day.

Oh, and did I mention I made a mound of my grandmother's lemon icebox cookies? Given some of our other timings, and the fact that I hadn't made them yet, I had to start on them around 7:30am. Ugh,

December 29, 2018: Given Kate was working a new job and unable to attend our Christmas, we planned an extended-family gathering around her schedule. We usually attempt some kind of extended gathering, as my mother’s family has scatterings around Ottawa, and we invite whomever is simply around. This year, my sister and her brood showed, which was nice (I didn’t think our father would be making such, and he did not, although he seems to be doing well enough, albiet with a very low energy), as did my Aunt Bette and her children, Lori Anne and Tim, and my cousn Patti (her sister Kim in Texas, visiting her daughter). Kate and her partner Quinn showed, and we had a goodly gathering. The children went to bed, yet again, rather late, but not before they both helped clean up the house again, after everyone left.

December 30, 2018: Bette and Lori Anne returned for the sake of a last-minute babysit, so Christine and I could go see Aquaman. We visited with them for an hour or so before we wandered off, and the girls had plenty fun with their auntie and cousin. Aquaman was far better than either of us had expected. We have yet to see the new animated Spider-Man (but we will).

December 31, 2018: Christine had a mostly-day of work, but managed to slip on the ice in our driveway on her way out, landing on her back and the back of her head. We found out later in the day (post-work, once she went in to a clinic) that she’d managed both a mini-concussion, and mild whiplash. God sakes. So she’s off her feet, certainly. She’s already doing physio twice a week for her pelvis (thanks to my “big-headed children,” she claims).

It was around this time that I started referring to our holiday period as “holidayus complicatedus” (not exactly an “annus horribilus,” but you see where I’m going).

We’d been weeks aiming a plan to drive off on January 3rd for a wedding Christine was attending on the 4th near Burlington, Ontario, and some visiting, possibly Andy Weaver and his family while there, and even Amy Dennis in Owen Sound, aiming to return home on the 7th or 8th, but that’s all out now.

Alice Burdick's new selected poems
Our original plan had both girls in full-day care (9am-3:30pm) on the 2nd, but not the third or fourth, but we managed to get them both in for same. Originally, it was a plan for me to work before we left, but our update managed both a plan for work and a way for Christine to get a couple of full-days of very quiet to rest up, and heal. We hope she recovers soon, but she apparently might not be one hundred percent for a couple of weeks. God sakes.

The young ladies and I, on the other hand, spent the morning with artwork. They coloured for about ninety minutes before switching to painting for an hour. I moved my way through finishing the George Bowering biography, and started into the new selected poems of Alice Burdick.

And we did finally cook that turkey. We dropped it into the freezer upon returning from the homestead, and thawed it out again to cook today. Christine was still out of sorts (to put it mildly), so the children and I dug in. Aoife even helped with setting the table. Yum,

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