Another weekend in the Big Smoke!

IMG_0462I got to spent the weekend with my cousin Marshall who I love! I even had a sleepover at Aunt Charlie & Uncle Todd’s… without Mummy & Daddy!!

IMG_0399He said

I know Danielle will talk a lot more about it in her area down below, but the big event this week for all of us was a trip down to Toronto to see Charlie, Todd and Marshall. Last month when my schedule showed a weekend off in the middle of the month plans were immediately hatched to spend a weekend down in Toronto visiting them. The down side was that my one friend who had a place he did short term rentals with was no longer doing that, so we had to find another solution.

IMG_0405After a quick AirBnB search, we found a reasonable place that was inside two blocks from Charlie & Todd’s place. And the price was right too! With the weekend there, a City Parking Permit and the fee for the AirBnB rental, two nights was cheaper than one night in a hotel. And we happened to be in walking distance from them to boot! After the place was found, all that was left to do was for Emelia to count down the days until she got to see her beloved cousin.

IMG_0431With me having to work the opening shift Friday, the plan was by the time I got home Danielle’s daycare day would be wrapped up, Emelia and she would be packed and ready to go, and I would just have a few things to pack and we’d be on the road at the dinner hour. Now… as usual things didn’t go as smoothly as planned and we were on the road a little over an hour later than we anticipated. In retrospect, probably for the better as we all but avoided the-drive-home traffical slowdowns which was an absolute blessing. We arrived in time to get Emelia started on bed time and for Danielle and I to unwind in our weekend home before hitting the sheets ourselves.

IMG_0411Emelia managed to not contain her excitement and was up even before the sun was up, ready to eat and go see her cousin. As much as I bemoaned the missed sleep-in opportunity, part of the reason we came down the night before was to not lose two to three hours of our Saturday together in driving down there. So, after a wonderful bacon, egg and coffee breakfast courtesy of Danielle and the kitchen in our pad, we off to see the gang in their place.

IMG_0444I’ll leave the details about the visit with Marshall, Todd & Charlie to Danielle, but one thing I will say is man has Marshall ever grown and developed. He was straight up walking and is personality plus! Visually he is becoming more and more of a mix of both Todd and Charlie, and I would say that is also true of his personality in some ways too. What a great kid! And he and Emelia got along like old fishing buddies. It’s blatantly obvious just how much Emelia adores Marshall especially in the way that she some times delicately and some times not so delicately fawns over him to the point of needing a restraining order. But the sheer delight of the weekend was when Emelia – with the delivery of an old Vaudeville comedian – starting pulling slapstick physical comedy tricks like the “Oh darn, I fell down” gag to Marshall’s belly laughter delight.

IMG_0447The surprise kicker in the weekend was getting to go out with Charlie while Todd stayed back and watched Emelia & Marshall for the night. It was great for Charlie & Danielle to have the sister night together, but the best part was it was at The Dakota, where Chantelle has worked doing sound for years and they were having a cover band that is made up of wad of extremely talented and sought after musicians from other well-known original bands, who get together to have fun. The band, The Mercenaries were doing a rare night featuring cover songs from the eighties and they even had gone so far as to change their name to The Merceneighties! It was an even of great fun that kept us our way later than we should, but worth it all the same! And Emelia – at her request – stayed at Charlie & Todd’s place, letting us know she was fine with us staying at the rental! We were beside ourselves.

IMG_0456The second big piece to the weekend was it just so happened – we discovered a few weeks ago – to fall on the same weekend as the Toronto Santa Claus Parade! Being as the last time Danielle had ever went was when she was a kid living in Toronto, and Emelia and I had only ever have seen it on TV, we added that, and Charlie,Todd & Marshall to our Sunday agenda. The last few years we’ve been less and less excited about the night parade they have here in London, so this one, on the same weekend we were in Toronto, and as the one in London, made an easy decision of where to see Santa parading around.

IMG_0464So this morning we got up a mere six hours after hitting the sheets previously, we were up and on our way to the Bluegrass Brunch at The Dakota. With our tummies filled with food (and maybe even a cocktail to boot), we were off to see the fat man in the red suit. The only curveball was the weather. Where it had been starting to get cold this past week and hint more of winter, the weather today was balmy and beautiful—the perfect weather to be walking around downtown Toronto and being outside. While it didn’t help set the Christmas tone, I was much happier being outside without a jacket rather than freezing or wet and in the dark like the last few years of the London parade. While Emelia was a little spent and over stimulated by the middle of the parade–overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people too, once she was able to get a vantage point from in a tree in the park at the Christie Pits where we watched from, she was content. And so were her parents.

IMG_0468And with seeing Santa and the short walk back to Charlie, Todd & Marshall’s place, our weekend in Toronto was all but over. Way too early for Emelia’s liking for sure! But, there was of course a brief (but also very long) stop at the American Girl doll store at Yorkdale before heading back home. Aside from that here we are on the other side, filled with many laughs and great memories from a wonderful weekend. We’re all a little over tired and over funned, but that is probably the best way to end a weekend. I can’t think of a better way to close it down to be honest.

So, goodnight for the week that was… amazing.

 

IMG_0485She said

This weekend has been weeks of anticipation on all our parts. My sister and I are very close and text/talk almost every day but we don’t see each other nearly as much as we would like. So when John had a full weekend off when we got his schedule the first thing I did was contact Charlie and assure she could free herself up and we could come up for the weekend.

IMG_0506With a two bedroom apartment we weren’t sure if there was enough crashing space at their place so we immediately went to planning where we could stay. With my food allergies and the costs of hotels we instantly shifted to finding an AirBnB to rent for the weekend and after a few failed attempts we finally booked and found the perfect one bedroom apartment only a 5 minute walk from my sister’s place.

IMG_0516 (1)The apartment was exactly what we needed, it had a bedroom that we put Emelia in and a pullout couch in the main room for John and I. After a later arrival and getting Emelia settled far too late we crashed ourselves anticipating the next two days would be filled with fun, family and lots of activities. Emelia of course was up at the crack of stupid the next day, John and I were not long after her as we both hadn’t slept the greatest. We quickly got the coffee going and I made breakfast. After a few cups of caffeine we were on our way to my sister’s place to see and her family. This trip was not only to visit but it was to celebrate a bit early Marshall’s birthday as we wont be able to see our little man until closer to Christmas. He opened his Little People Farm and books from us and he and Emelia proceeded to play and bond happily on the floor. Emelia just adores Marshall. She wanted to spend as many seconds with him as possible and he just seems to adore her.

IMG_0517Emelia has been raised in daycare world so she is great with babies and toddlers as she spends 5 days a week surrounded by them at home. Like with the kids here she has her bag of tricks to really get babies laughing. And man did she ever have Marshall laughing up a storm. It just made my heart melt to see them together. I don’t have a ton of family and with our immediate family being even smaller and contact very limited seeing the connection with Emelia and her family it really means the world to me. She has a million questions about the family she comes from and being able to give her this little piece where she is loved and cherished is more than I can ask for. And man does she ever adore her Aunt and Uncle. For a little girl who isn’t too sure about adults she just loves to talk her aunt and uncle’s ears off. It really makes me happy to see how connected she has become with them. Family connection is so important and she really has that with Todd, Charlie and Todd! We have so much love and family on John’s side of the family for her to have this with my sister and her family really connects her with both sides of the family.

IMG_0524By the time we settled in and Emelia had a chance to play with Marshall it was time for John and I to slip out to do another special errand for our favourite toddler. After a fair bit of thought and back and forth with Charlie I had really wanted to get him a train table for Christmas. The one I wanted I missed the sale but as luck would have it I was able to buy one from a Toronto daycare provider. It was in like amazing condition and it was perfect for Marshall. While Marshall slept and Emelia stayed and hung out with her Aunt and Uncle John and I took a drive to get the table. When we got back to the apartment Marshall was down for his nap so we had to wait for him to wake up to see his reaction to his early Christmas present. And he loves it! Seeing Emelia and Marshall play happily just makes me so happy to see.

IMG_0535After the kids played for a bit we had a stir crazy 8 year old and thought it was the perfect time to explore the area around my sister’s place. We headed down to the local musical instrument place and the kids loved going from section to section touching end playing a ton of instruments. Emelia’s interest in a violin hasn’t slowed down and I have a feeling that an instrument and lessons will be added to our child’s activities. She really loves music and we really want to let her explore this so we might be looking into this a bit more. Marshall of course was more about the drums. Once we let him loose at a children’s starter drum kit he was all smiles and banging his heart away.

IMG_0544After finishing up there we headed over to Dufferin Mall so we could go to Toys R Us to perhaps find some sort of activity to keep a busy 8 year old entertained. We looked and looked and looked around and after much painful debate she chose a new lego kit so she and Uncle Todd would have something fun to play while she had a hang out night at their place. After leaving Toys R Us we heard that Santa had arrived at the mall and we figured we would see what Marshall’s reaction to the big guy would be and take the chance to get the kids pictures done with Santa. Marshall was not 100% sure what to make of the whole experience looking seriously at this guy talking to him, it was adorable watching Emelia keep a close eye on him while watching Marshall stare and try and figure out this whole Santa experience.

IMG_0533After the mall we needed to head back to the apartment and have some supper that my sister had made, and hot dammed it was amazing! We had a great supper together, a couple drinks and with a little nudge Charlie was convinced to head out with John and I while Todd stayed home and had a play with the kids. Emelia was super excited and shocking to us was ushering us out the door so she could play lego and watch movies with Todd and Marshall. She got to bed late but slept the whole night and woke up happy as a clam.

IMG_0534This allowed Charlie and I to do something we haven’t been able to do in years, go out together and have an absolute blast. We decided on the Dakota Tavern so we could see this incredible band to a few sets of 80s covers. They were out of this world talented and it was an incredible night. Charlie, John and I sang our night away.  Before we knew it the bar was closing and it was after 2 in the morning. We walked Charlie back to her place and John and I got back to our place and crashed almost instantly and in a two second blink it was the next morning! Needing some serious caffeine we headed with Charlie, Todd, Marshall and Emelia back down to the Dakota and went to their Bluegrass Brunch. This is seriously one of my favourite things to do in Toronto! Live Bluegrass music and amazing big breakfast food oh and lots of coffee which was much needed. With our bellies full and now joined by Todd sister Amy and her two boys we were ready to head down to the big event.

IMG_0541For years we have gone to Helen and Doug’s place to watch off their PVR the Toronto Santa Claus parade, this year because the timing was absolutely perfect we were able to take both Emelia and Marshall to their first Toronto parade. I hadn’t been to the parade since I was a kid and we lived in Toronto so this was pretty special for me as well to see it now through my child’s eyes. Emelia had a couple meltdowns due to too many people but many REALLY overtired but once we found the perfect sightline location she was a happy camper with her personal space intact and was able to take in the whole parade. As always it was amazing and I am so happy that Emelia finally got to see it live and in person.

IMG_0542With the parade wrapped up we had a very brief visit back and their place, packed our suitcases in the car and headed to one last treat for Emelia. Trips to Toronto of course for Emelia means a special trip to American Girl. It was a painfully long process to find the perfect little treat to pick up but she has made her Christmas wish list and we have a new outfit for her girls.

All in all it was an incredible weekend filled with amazing memories. Cannot wait to do it again.

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