Sienna started getting an allowance about 3 weeks ago. She gets $5 a week and today that had accumulated to around $15, so it was time to go to the mall to do some shopping. While I was at the craft store, the kids and Shawn were at the toy store and Shawn was explaining to her, what her money could buy. When I joined the party, Sienna had decided to spend her entire fortune on a red ball and a little egg/rattle thing for herself, and get this; a little black ball for Elliot and a rattle for him too… “because I love him and he doesn’t have his own money” (her words). You just gotta love this kid!
I love traditions and Sienna is now at the age where she can start to grasp the concept, so we kicked off the first Sunday of advent with some Christmas related activities. First of PJ (Santa’s little helper/Sienna’s bear) had hung up advent calendars for the kids. Elliot got a game and Sienna got a nice grocery basket for when she goes shopping in her fully equipped in-house super market. After playing with the new toys for a while, Sienna went with her dad to the skating rink. Meanwhile Elliot and I went downtown to pick up some new stuff to decorate with. Elliot had a hard time understanding that all the glittering balls weren’t meant for throwing, but we made it out of the store without braking too many items. I’m not crazy about the Christmas elfs, so I usually bring home rein dears or mooses instead. This time we found some quilted grey ones that were cute and decorative. When Sienna and Shawn returned from the skating rink, we all sat down to have hot chocolate with cream, æbleskiver (the little round donuts) and clementines, which to me are very symbolic of Christmas time. I decided that this would be a great way to kick off Christmas for time to come, so hot chocolate, æbleskiver, and clementines on the first day of advent will be a tradition in this family from now on.
I finally got the last pictures from the cruise together. One of the kids favorite activities on the boat was to splash around in the pool. A rice bowl from the restaurant and a pot from home kept them entertained for quite a while.
Here are the pictures from Elliot’s first birthday party. We had the entire family over and the day went really well. Before everyone arrived, Sienna and Latimer were busy decorating the miniature muffins and I was busy decorating his cake, which was shaped as a giant cupcake. The birthday theme was somewhat spontaneous. Instead of my usual long term planning I didn’t decide what to do until I was at the grocery store two days before. The only somewhat nice napkins they had were with Buzz Lightyear, hence I decided to go with the space theme. I decorated the spaceship cookies the night before and also prepared some marshmallow-fondant stars. I figured the giant cupcake could serve as a foreign planet. Other than cupcakes and cookies we had a feast of delicious sandwiches that Shawn had prepared. When I put Elliot’s birthday cake in front of him, he used a potato chip to scoop off some of the frosting. Unfortunately the little guy ended up having a major allergic reaction, because the frosting had both dairy and hazelnuts in it to which he is apparently allergic. With a little help from some antihistamine he quickly recovered and was able to open his presents and enjoy the rest of the party.
As mentioned earlier we celebrated Elliot on Sunday, but in addition to this I decided to give him some quality time on his actual birthday, so I stayed home from work to snuggle with him. My good friend Chris came by to play and to top-up on the kisses and hugs. Mormor also popped by to give him some extra lovin’ and a gift. Since we recently found out that he is allergic to dairy, it is somewhat limiting what you can produce in respect to birthday cakes with frosting etc. I ended up giving him some little donuts that are known as “æbleskiver” in Denmark. They are usually only out around Christmas time and they are super yummy. Elliot would definitely agree with me on that one!
Besides a Barbar truck from mormor, a wooden truck from Chris and a game from mommy, he got some nice warm slippers from his cousins Kenzie and Logan, aunt Angela and Uncle Pete. Thank you very much guys. They are the right size and just what he needed. Perfect! Also thanks to great grandma and great grandpa for the nice birthday card.
Here is todays little birthday boy. I have lots of pictures and details about today and his party that we held on Sunday, but I upgraded Windows on my computer (or Shawn did), so it is taking me longer than expected to get all my programs up and running again. All good things come to those who wait, though, so just have a little bit of patience!
My maternity leave ended on Sunday so this week has been quite busy. A few hours ago I just realized that I haven’t made arrangements for Baby Elliot’s Birthday, which is coming up in less than 2 weeks. So as soon as the kids were in bed I sat down to create an invitation. When he turns one he is officially a toddler (in my book anyhow), so he will have to lose his cute nickname that Sienna gave him long before he was born, i.e. “Baby Elliot”. I don’t think we will be calling him “Toddler Elliot” instead. He will just be known to the world as “Elliot”.
A few days after we left for Canada Sienna and Elliot got a new little cousin in Denmark. Melanie was born on October 11, and her parents are Maibritt and Jacob (my younger brother). Sienna and I went to meet her for the first time yesterday. She was very cute, but not in the mood for pictures. She would either make herself cross-eyed or put her hands in front of her face or yell at us. I managed to get a couple of shots while she was napping and a single one before she covered her face with her hands. Congratulations to Maibritt and Jacob on their beautiful new baby girl.
This will probably be the never-ending story with me, but I am still far behind on the pictures. I am sorting like a crazy and will soon return with some of the missing ones, but before I do that I just want to express our gratitude to Kim, Chris and Lucas, who spent a week with us at the cruise and thereafter endured our company for another 5 days while we stayed at their house in downtown Toronto. Amazingly enough we were still good friends after spending all this time together.
In my book airlines generally have a pretty bad track record. It is extremely rare that thinks run smoothly and when we weren’t able to check in for our return flight on Wednesday I already started having bad feelings. Shawn called KLM and they did confirm that we were checked-in on 4 seats together, but when we arrived at the airport in due time, those seats had been given away to someone else. Everything was somewhat chaotic because they had canceled the previous flight and now they were stuck with 400 passengers too many. They managed to get us on a flight with Air Canada via London, but we had to run from terminal 3 to terminal 1 with two tired kids and well over 200 kilos/450 pounds of luggage.We could never had made it if it weren’t for Shawn’s good friend Oliver, so once again a BIG THANKS to him (he also always meets and greets us at the airport when we fly in).
At terminal 1 the Air Canada representatives didn’t think it was a problem that they could only seat us one by one (we had a seat in the middle row on 4 different rows). They thought that we should just be grateful they came to our rescue and found seats on a sold-out flight. Fortunately the air hostess was very friendly, and she managed to get us somewhat together so Elliot and Sienna didn’t have to handle the 7-hour flight commute to Europe on their own. The airplane was much smaller than KLM’s, but much never and nicer, and the kids slept reasonably well so other than the initial stress it actually ended up being a quite tolerable journey for once.
Sienna has already mentioned many times that she misses Canada and the family and friends there, but both the kids were still very happy to be home and were jumping around once reunited with all of their toys and their rugbrød (i.e rye bread which is only made properly in Denmark). Our 8 suitcases and 5 carry-on bags were cleared out an put away in record time (less than an hour) and now everybody is working on overcoming the jet lag while the washing machine is working on the first of approximately 20 loads of laundry it has coming.
October 28th is Shawn’s birthday and this year he was turning 35. Sienna and Elliot had arranged for a big bouquet of birthday balloons for their daddy and I picked up cupcakes from the cutest little store down the road. We spent all afternoon and the evening at our friends’ house – Steve and Daisy, and their son, Bryant. Jen and Seb, and Adam and Ethan also joined us and everybody had a really good time. Thanks again to Daisy and Steve for a spectacular dinner and a big load of delicious snacks and thanks to everybody for all the nice gifts for Shawn and the kids.
After the cruise we had a few hours to kill before we headed back to Canada, so we decided to check out the Florida Aquarium, which is right outside the port. I went inside with the kids while Shawn stayed with all of the luggage. It was difficult taking pictures when I had to attend to Elliot and Sienna at the same time, but it is a pretty nice and big aquarium.They had some huge stingrays and a very big and very ugly fish(bigger and longer than Sienna). They also had alligators, starfish that you could touch, parading penguins, and lots of colorful fish and jelly fish.
If Winnie the Pooh had been on-board the ship, I’m pretty sure he would have said that it was kind of gloomy. Although the Carnival Legend was build as resent as 2002, the interior design was extremely murky and tacky throughout the ship. These pictures below are just to give you an idea. They are from the dining room and from a place called “The Enchanted Forest”. Sienna renamed it the spooky forest and it was her favorite place on the ship. Every night she would read her bedtime stories here. It was simply two corridors – one on each side of the ship – with some plastic tree trunks on the one side of the wall, tables and chairs on the other side, and some lights flashing here and there. It was always completely deserted and I have no idea what the designer could have possibly intended with this place, but at least he can rest assured that there is one person in this world who really liked his idea.
Our last stop was a small island just of the coast of Honduras called Roatan. The weather was extremely humid and hot and we had signed up for an exciting “Pirates, monkeys and parrots tour”. After being instructed multiple times by our guide to discard all bags and bottles so the monkeys wouldn’t attack us, we showed up with another 200 tourists to take turns holding one small monkey. We waited in line while the monkey moved from one arm to the next, but to everyone’s surprise the monkey handler placed the monkey on Sienna’s head instead of her arm. Needless to say, she was fairly uncomfortable, but once it was off her head and on daddy’s arm she was very relieved. Other than monkeys we saw parrots, iguanas and humming birds. Baby Elliot tried to grab a parrot, which quickly turned around and snapped at him. Dad saved him just in time before he lost any fingers. We took a quick jump in the ocean before we had to get back to the ship.
In Belize Kim and I went for some nice snorkeling and we also spent an hour on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere. Kim noticed that one of the sea shells were moving and it turned out that a little crab was living inside of it. It kept hiding, but she lured it out with some sea weed.The little elephant made from towels was one of many amusing creations from the cleaning staff. I guess it is a cruise thing that you twist and shape creatures with the towels, because they did the same thing when we were on the cruise down the Nile in Egypt.
I was expecting to be posting Kodak moment after Kodak moment on this trip, but so far there hasn’t been too many. The weather has not been great at all. It’s warm but it’s raining every other minute. Today we arrived at Cozumel, Mexico and as Shawn and Chris went off for some 4-wheeler/crocodile/ruin/snorkelling event, the rest of us tried to find a nice beach. We got caught in the pouring rain and since the kids were wet anyhow, we let them splash around for a bit. Elliot wanted to head out on his own, so he continuously tried to make it for the alley behind us. It didn’t help any that Kim had a serious talk with him. As it cleared up we found the only nearby hotel with a pool and a beach – just in time for another rain shower. Elliot and mommy had a little swim in the rain/ocean, but the resort wasn’t too minded towards kids, so we headed back to the ship after a short while.
Tuesday we arrived at the Cayman Islands, but unfortunately it was raining cats and dogs most of the day so we never made it to the nice beach. There was plenty of water around, though, so Sienna and Elliot enjoyed some serious puddle jumping. We also went on a semi-submarine trip, but the visibility wasn’t great due to the weather and the air conditioner was broken on the boat, so it was somewhat of a humid and stinky ride. Back at the ship the kids had some fun in the pool and after that they relaxed with a bubble b*th in the Jacuzzi with their dad. Other than that we are spending some quality time with our good friends – Kim and Chris and their son Lucas. For a short while we also enjoyed some local company in the shape of a goofy-looking bird. A few of the pictures below are from our one night in Tampa before the cruise, where Sienna had an evening swim in the hotel pool.