Leina Turns 8 Down Under

Leina was ecstatic to be celebrating her 8th birthday on December 23rd in the summer in Australia, instead of the winter in Canada, and she was fortunate to have 7 of her Australian girlfriends over to help make the celebration memorable.

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Leina and her friends enjoyed making cards and posters with different craft materials and Evie managed to surprise the group by making her own moustache and eyebrows with the supplies!  Once the crafts were cleaned up and the girls (and Cohen) played a quick game of tip (tag in Canada), they all came back inside for a game of ‘Pin the Star on the Christmas Tree’, with Grace being crowned the winner!

A game of ‘Pass the Parcel’ preceded birthday cupcakes and fairy bread – the quintessential Australian birthday delicacy consisting of white bread smothered in butter and topped with ‘100’s and 1000’s’ sprinkles!  A tradition that is sure to make its’ way to Canada!

Leina received some really special gifts from her friends, all of whom kept in mind that she would be leaving for Canada in the very near future.  She was spoiled with a beautiful handmade owl backpack, a cookbook for kids, an ankle bracelet, a small pet dog that walks, a pewter fairy on a rose quartz gem, bracelets, and pencil case and pens.  She was so happy and grateful to have received so many nice things.

It was only 2 hours of fun, but after the loot bags had been handed out, and parents had come to collect their daughters, and Elijah had woken from his afternoon nap, it turned out to be the perfect afternoon to hit the municipal pool to cool off before supper!  It was a birthday party with new friends that Leina will never forget!

However, the festivities and celebrating didn’t end there!  The following day, which was also Matt’s last day of teaching here in Australia, we travelled into Sydney by train and spent the night in North Sydney at an apartment belonging to friends of ours from Blackheath, Rachel and Iain.  We had a big day planned with the kids on Saturday.  Elijah and I were off to celebrate one of the final shows of the Wiggles at the Entertainment Centre in Darling Harbour thanks to Nana and Poppi in Canada, and Matt was taking Leina and Cohen to the Powerhouse Museum for her birthday.  All of the kids had such a good day, exploring the exhibits and just being in the city.  For lunch we dined on Chinese food in Chinatown (Leina’s choice) and rode the train back home to Blackheath in time for a Mexican themed dinner compliments of Damien’s brother James, and his daughters Annelise and Christina who came to visit us from Newcastle.

The Mexican night was complete with Corona’s, sombreros and tacos in both soft and hard shells.  And what’s a Mexican night without a shot of tequila!  We had a great evening catching up with James and the girls, and were well prepared for the next day’s festivities, ‘The Mah Family Christmas Lunch’ coincidentally held on Leina’s actual birthday. She had the pleasure of sharing the birthday celebrations with Damien’s sister Kristy, born on Christmas day, and Damien’s aunt Lynn, born on December 24th.

Leina spent most of December 23rd opening presents, some brought by very generous members of the Mah family, and others sent to Blackheath by thoughtful and loving family members back home in Canada!  She was a very lucky girl!

Leina will remember this birthday for years to come, because of the events, because it was in the summer, but mostly because of the people she had the pleasure of sharing her 8th birthday with!

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Cohen Turns 5 in Oz!

Cohen turned 5 on March 4th and he was so proud to be the first in the family to celebrate a birthday in Australia during our year here!  And it was especially exciting to be celebrating in the Australian warmer months compared to the usual Canadian winter!

Cohen’s birthday “weekend” started on the Friday night with a traditional ‘Sausage Sizzle’ party, with an array of sausages cooked on the barbie!  Invited to the festivities were our friends Fiona and Dave and their little guy Caleb, who brought Cohen his very own ‘Swingball’ game!  The game is similar to ‘Tetherball’, the difference being the ball is a tennis ball attached to the pole, and you use small, hard plastic racquets to hit the ball.

And this is what it looks like when you stand too close to the racket your brother is holding when playing said game of ‘Swingball’!!

Yes, that is the outline of the racquet on Elijah’s cheek!!  Ouch!

Also invited to the Friday night Sausage Sizzle were friends Amelia and Hew and their children Imogen (in Cohen’s class), Annika, and Charlie.  They brought Cohen an awesome Australian book ‘Crocodile Jack’, as well as the most awesome tasting dessert, Caramel Slice!  Cohen and Amelia share the same birthday!  Friends Kim and her son Finn rounded out the guests at the sizzle (Matt had to stay home with Noah unfortunately) – and they brought over a great little child size whoopi cushion (thanks guys!!), and a ‘Pot Head’!  In Canada we call these ‘Chia Pets’!  Our Pot Head is growing nicely in our kitchen window!  Thank you for that!

Cohen’s birthday gift from us was a surprise trip to the Sydney Aquarium on the Saturday of his “birthday weekend”!  We took the train to Sydney and grabbed fish and chips in Darling Harbour before touring the aquarium.

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The underwater journey through the aquarium was spectacular!  The sharks and stingrays were definitely the highlights, but equally impressive were the clownfish, “massive” Japanese spider crabs, black, white and yellow angelfish, the seahorses, and the lego displays!  The kids even got to touch a bright blue starfish.

The day culminated with a walk up past Hyde Park where preparations were well underway for the evenings annual ‘Mardi Gras Parade’.  Mouths were gaping at the sites – the fish net stockings and sailor suits left little to the imagination (sorry no photos of the costumes)!  The floats pulling into the park were out of this world and the kids were just amazed and transfixed by it all.

On the Sunday, Cohen was very excited to open all of the cards and gifts that were mailed to him from his loving, thoughtful, and generous family back home in Canada!

In the afternoon, he invited his friend Ibrahim over for a playdate and Leina invited her friend Luca, and although it wasn’t the same without his Canadian family and friends, it was still a very unique and memorable birthday!

And the highlight of it all, was that at the Sydney Aquarium, we found………….

“You so totally rock Squirt!  So gimme some fin!” (Finding Nemo, 2003)

Happy Birthday Cohen!