Happy birthday, Anastasia!

Dear Anastasia,


This is you last Christmas. Now you don’t like Elsa and Anna anymore, but you sure looked cute while it lasted.

I love you. My littlest baby is SIX YEARS OLD! How did that happen?


Right now, we’re reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. You want the parts with the most lines.

So many things have happened this year. First of all, your Daddy is impressed with your reading. “I can’t get over how well she reads in English and in French. Some of the words are hard, and she doesn’t hesitate, or she sounds them out.” This summer, we walked into Giant Tiger, and you pointed at the wall and said, “This is French: bienvenue. This is English: welcome.”

Last night, at Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, you asked questions throughout the movie (!!!!!!), but you started reading the names in the credits at the end.

It makes sense to me because you’ve always been very independent. You want to read books (Captain Underpants, for example), so you ask, “Can we read?” And sometimes we say yes or no. But if you can read on your own—wow! The whole world opens up. You don’t have to wait anymore.

You take swimming and gymnastics. You claimed to like skating, but it was mostly glum plodding on the rink. Now you’re the smallest person in Level 3 swimming. It made you happy to graduate from whale into a number level, like Max.

There’s a lightness about you in gymnastics. You’re bouncing and leaping and seem to have having fun, even though you complain about having to go.

You don’t like having tubes in your ears. Your speech is normal now, so I thought we were over the hump, until you started yelling, “What? I can’t HEAR you” at Max. The audiologist found a 25 percent hearing reduction on your right side and mentioned that because your brain is developing, you can lose the ability to process sound. It made you cry that you’re going to get them redone, but I say, thank goodness for Dr. Ali Shahnavaz.

img_1767For your birthday…wow!

You initially wanted an ice cream cake, like Max, but ended choosing “the good cupcakes. Rhonda’s vanilla cupcakes” which became a gigantic heart cake.

Then you picked the piñata. “I want a doggy. No, Mommy. No, a cupcake!”
“A cupcake would be the easiest,” I said, and you blew up a balloon. It was the first time you blew up your own balloon for your piñata. Actually, this is your first piñata. You also helped build it.
img_1781Then you changed your mind about the shape. “I want Donald Trump.”
“No, me!”
“I don’t think you want us to smash you. Do you really want—”
“Okay.” How many nearly-six-year-olds pick Donald Trump for their piñatas? But you do.

I love you, my fierce, funny, thoughtful, kind, loving six-year-old girl. I love you forever. Thanks for coming into our lives.



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Water fight! Or, Max’s cheap, fun birthday party

“You’re brave,” said a few other parents, when I said I was hosting a water fight birthday party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


But that was the most fun I’d had at Max’s birthday party, maybe ever, so I thought I’d post to show that you don’t have to spend big bucks on a kid’s party if you don’t want to.

Max chose everything, which meant a water fight, even though it’s been a super long winter and an iffy spring. I said that if it was too cold, they could just shoot at a target.

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It turned out to be one of the few warmish, sunny days so far of 2014.

I love these pictures, just the energy of them running so fast their hair flops, and them firing on each other, and the joyful screaming.

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My friend Kandy and her son Jake arrived late, right in the middle of the water fight, and jumped out of their car, firing water balloons. Then Kandy got in the action with a bucket of water. Unfortunately, she caught my three-year-old, so my mom and I ended up giving Anastasia an impromptu bath (sort of. Our new dog, Roxy, ate the bathtub plug, so we just scooped warm water over A).


“Look at your husband,” someone whispered to me over our potluck lunch. One half of his body was drenched. A few kids had attacked him with a hose. He, Becky, Rachel, and Kandy were trying to keep up with the demand for water balloons, unsuccessfully.

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We feasted on a potluck lunch. I felt only a little bad that I’d used a frozen lasagna and chicken pot pie, but I think only Becky and my mother cooked this time. The dumplings and Sophia’s dolmas and Becky’s salad were yummy, everyone liked my mom’s mac and cheese, and the kids mostly ate fruit and chocolate sauce.


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We’d won a DQ ice cream cake from the South Glengarry DQ at the SPCA auction, so Matt picked that up, also using the coupon for a free Blizzard, which was a huge hit with the kids. I have to say, much less exhausting than constructing a homemade Thomas and Annie and Clarabel cake for Max’s fourth birthday. I’m still proud of that cake, so both options are good. IMG_5958 IMG_5960

Then they attacked pinata I whipped together at my book club, in the shape of the number 8. I didn’t know if another layer would dry in time, and Max said it was fine, so we just coloured in dark circles to make the eight. Becky told me it looked like boobs. Two other people said eyes. Anyway, not exactly museum-worthy, but not as much work as the solar system pinatas of last year. (My friend Jessica told her son, “Lucas, I don’t think Max will have nine pinatas at his party,” but yes, he did. To cut corners, I cut Pluto. Max said, “Awwwwwww! I LIKE Pluto!”) IMG_5964 IMG_5972 IMG_5973 IMG_5974

Max destroyed the bottom loop immediately, and the other one didn’t last too long, so some of the boys ended up punching and destroying the remnants, with great abandon. IMG_5975 IMG_5976 IMG_5977

I wanted them to make wishes and light candle lanterns, to float away in the sky, but Matt told me that might cause a fire, so I handed them out as party favours. Then they opened presents and restarted the water fight.

Honestly, a five-hour party was a bit long, and even though I told the kids to get their clothes together, none of them did, so the end was absolute chaos, and we ended up with lots of abandoned clothes yet unable to find at least two hats. But the good news is, Max and his friends had a blast without renting a venue or hiring entertainers. And then I worked at the Glengarry the next day, so Matt did most of the clean up!

Happy birthday, my love!

It's not a party unless it ends in tears. Waah.

It’s not a party unless it ends in tears. Waah.


Max took a pretty good picture of my mom.