Well, we’re back home now. It was a LONG and DIFFICULT journey. More on that later.
Boxing Day was enormous fun… Uncle Keith came down with his whole family!! Liam’s cousins Hannah and Gabrielle, as well as Uncle Keith’s fiancé Joanne, and her two kids Siobhan and Kieran. The pile of gifts under the tree was enormous, and we didn’t know where to start!!
We’d like to thank Keith and Joanne (and their families) for the fantastic Zoku Ice Pop maker… I’d been contemplating getting one of these since summer as we like to make Liam’s Ice Pops from fresh juice, and this is just the ticket to make them super fresh every time! With faces too!! 🙂
Of course we’re grateful for all of the gifts, and we hope that everyone was as happy with the gifts we brought for them too. It was a fun filled morning… and it really felt like Christmas with all the kids around.
After Christmas the big kids all went downstairs to play some Wii on the big TV… Liam’s not quite old enough to figure it out, although we did all have a grand time teaching him how to hit the baseball on the Wii, and he joined right in with the big girls for a Dance Off!
Later that afternoon we’d planned to go and visit Liam’s great Aunt Sharon (Grandpa’s sister) and Liam’s Second Cousin, Susan, and her family. I haven’t seen them in at least 20 years… probably more. Shocking how much time has passed, and I was so excited to finally see them all again!!!! It was a great visit, but unfortunately it was cut a bit short as that mega-storm that had been making news was set to hit our area by late afternoon, early evening, and as soon as the snow started we started to make our way back. The roads were covered in snow, but Liam was delighted to spy his first ever snow-plow!!! That boy just loves big vehicles!!
Many thanks to Sharon, Susan, and Susan’s lovely family: Rob, Amanda and Rachel for the hospitality, and the gifts to Liam. I can’t wait to see you all again our next visit to Canada!! (And special thanks to Aunt Sharon who baked up tremendous amounts of goodies that totally made me think back to our childhood Christmases, when we’d all visit each other and eat far too many treats!!!)
Snow was the theme of our last couple of Days in Canada. The morning after the great snowfall, Adam was taught the fine Canadian art of snow-blowing the driveway. Well done, New Zealander. It was a fairly quiet day otherwise, although Grandma and Grandpa trusted Adam to take their car to the shopping mall in St Catharines, as we had some returns to do (and Liam was requesting Sushi so he could give his new chopsticks a try!).
The next day was our last full day in Canada. Uncle Keith brought his girls down for the whole day, and we just let them goof around and play all day long. Hopefully they made memories that will last a very long time. At one point, every single person was sat by themselves playing with their iPod/iphone/tablet/ereader, at which point we said, ‘Hey… everyone put their devices down and play some more, this will be the last time you’ll see each other for a long time….’ but I guess a little electronic time-out from time to time is okay….
Since we had SO MUCH fresh snow, we made a big bowl of vanilla snow ice-cream, which the kids were all thrilled with! Why didn’t I know about this when I was a kid??? Mmmmmmm.
We were sad to see them go, but hopefully now that Liam has spent so much time with his Uncle and his cousins this trip, maybe we’ll be able to schedule more frequent Skype calls to keep them close.
We started packing that night… not an easy feat to try and fit that whole Christmas haul into only three suitcases, but Adam managed to SQUEEZE everything in, so that each suitcase weight just under the maximum limit. Talented fella, that daddy!!! And I’m happy to say that everything made it back to France okay, with the exception of a few chocolates that got squished/crushed/broken…. but I’m sure they’ll taste just as good!!
Which brings us back to the disastrous return flight.
It was still snowing the day we were heading to the airport, and as ever, mum was anxious about everyone having to drive the slippery highways just to take us to the airport. Uncle Keith came along too, because there was no way to fit us and all our luggage into ANYONE’S car.
En route to the airport we passed several accidents caused by slippery roads, and the highway in Toronto was not well cleared! But we still made pretty good time… only to find Check-In chaos at the airport. Air Canada’s system had somehow changed Liam’s name to ‘Lia’ and so we couldn’t use their Kiosks to fast track the check in (apparently TONS of people were having various issues with the Kiosks errors), and the line for Check In Assistance was ridiculously long and slow.
By the time we got through we had only a half hour before we needed to make our way to our gate, and that was pushing it, as we had no idea how long the security queue would be… The intention was to have a nice ‘last supper’ at the Airport Restaurant with Grandma, Grandpa and Uncle Keith, but the service was so astoundingly slow, that by the time we got any food, we literally had 5 minutes to eat it, and dash. Very stressful to see you whole family shovelling their dinner in so quickly, just so they can say goodbye at the security gate.
And then when we got to the security gate, Daddy had (temporarily) misplaced the boarding passes and passports (STRESS)!!!!! So our goodbye’s were quick and stressful, which was not the final impression I wanted, but in hindsight, it probably kept it from being overly emotional.
THANK YOU MOM, DAD & KEITH FOR TAKING US TO THE AIRPORT!!!! It meant a lot, even it was unpleasant for you!
Of course, as fate would have it, but the time we got through security, and dashed all the way to our gate (carrying Liam), it was announced that our flight was delayed by at least an hour-and-a-half. (ended up being almost 3 hours in total, including de-icing) All that stress for nothing. And it was sure that we would miss our connection in Frankfurt to get home, and they couldn’t re-ticket us until we arrived in Frankfurt.
Liam was a crying and screaming mess by the time we were boarded onto the flight… he was so over-tired, poor fella… and he fell asleep shortly after take-off. Slept for most of the flight, until he woke up and vomited all over himself! Thankfully we had a couple of changes of clothes for him on hand, and when I was cleaning him and changing him in the tiny airplane toilet, he just kept asking ‘Mumma, what did I do?’ Hasn’t vomited since he was a young baby!
Stinky clothes were packed away in a plastic bag, although mum and dad still smelled of vomit! Poor passengers sitting around us!!! We certainly all deserved hot showers when we got home.
When we arrived in Frankfurt, it took 2 hours in a queue for them to finally book us into a late afternoon flight to Nice. Only 5 more hours to wait! (sarcasm). Liam napped again on the chairs at the gate… and was pretty good for the last short flight home. He loved his view from the window… and he loved the taxi drive back to our house.
So now we’re home. Back in the land of warmer weather, blue skies, sparkling seas, and pastel houses. Paradise.
But this Christmas was again all about family, and Liam will really remember a lot of things from this past 10 days. Hopefully everyone else will too!!
Merry Christmas to all… and Happy New Year!!
Mumma and Liam's cousin Hannah collect clean, fresh snow to make ice cream.
Liam and daddy on their computers.... Like father, like son.
Boxing Day gift opening mayhem. Go go go!!!
Cousin Gabbi loves her new Kermit hat...
The girls play a Wii dance game, and Liam wants to join in! He also loves dancing!
Liam meets his Great Aunt Sharon....
And meets his 'Great Susan' (second cousin) and her family.
Grandpa teaches daddy to how to use a snowblower like a real Canadian!
And daddy catches on pretty quick!!
Liam helping to stir in the snow to make homemade vanilla ice cream.
Uncle Keith gives Liam horsie rides!!
Liam, Hannah and Gabrielle enjoy their homemade snow ice cream!
The kids, again, bonding over technology.
Gabbi cuddles with Liam. Lovely.
Liam has fund climbing 'Jaguar mountain' on Hannah and Gabbi's bean-bag chairs.
Tuckered tot waiting for our plane in Frankfurt airport.
Liam watches the sun set over Germany.