Tuesday, 25 November 2014

London Landmarks

So now that the office has been painted, I'm one step closer to getting the Wall O' Canadiana done.  Just need to frame a few things and it should be good to go.  As I've amassed items I've realized that I can have a Wall O' Canadiana and a Wall O' Londonana.  I love having bits of local history - and I want to start collecting Victor Aziz postcards to add to the London collection.  The other day, I was at Talize looking for some frames and came across this little sketch of the London Airport for $2.99.  I thought it would fit in just perfectly - not only was it a London landmark, but it was also in a wooden frame, which was what I was looking for.

So then imagine my surprise and delight a couple of days later when I headed over to Value Village looking for more wooden frames and came across this similar sketch of Eldon House.

Now this one is a little different - it says "From the CFPL Radio Print Collection" in the lower right corner, which is exciting because now I want to know how many are in this series since I obviously want them all.  I asked my friend Dan about them, since he's worked for the London Free Press for years, but he didn't know anything about them either.  I may have to make some trips to a couple of libraries to see if I can dig up any information about this print collection.  In the meantime though I thought I would see if any of you internet people know anything about it - have you ever seen anything similar?  Maybe your parents have some?  Or your grandparents?  If so, I'm coming over to steal them.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Treats of the Week - Sometimes you need a pizza

It's been one of those days.  I had that sense of foreboding all day.  You know that feeling?  When you just have a pit in your stomach for some reason?  Just waiting for the other shoe to drop all day?  There was no real reason for it, I just felt off all morning.  I get through to my lunch break and it starts - I get a text that Vivian's daycare provider has the stomach flu, so I'll have to pick Vivian up from school.  I manage to make arrangements for my court and get out the door on time.  Driving home was a little slow because the wind storm had knocked out power in a few places, but I made it to the school on time.  We head home and see that the fence has been knocked down by the wind.  Not unexpected since the whole thing is basically rotten and needs to be replaced.  We head out for the grocery store to get some stuff for Vivian's lunch, only to discover that most of Strathroy has lost power - including both the SuperStore and WalMart.  So I end up back at home, with a very asleep Vivian.  After an hour wait for delivery, we're both semi-awake and consoling ourselves with pizza.  The fence will have to wait for another day.  Instead, I'll focus on the treats - first and foremost, the fact that we're in a warm, dry house that still has hydro when most of town doesn't.

As for the rest of the week...

  • I finally cut a bunch of shows from my viewing schedule.  There was just too much piling up that I wasn't even excited to watch and too much other good tv out there to waste time on it.  It's a little thing, but it made me feel better.
  • Today when I got home from work in the windstorm, I expected to find my garbage can somewhere down the road.  I was pleasantly surprised to see it had been tucked up beside the garage with a package that had been delivered.  Thanks, Purolator person!
  • Amanda and I took the kids to the Santa Claus Parade in Strathroy on Saturday - where the usual chaos ensued.  Picture Amanda and I, plus the four kids all packed into a family bathroom at MacDonalds and then trying to get all of us into our snowsuits.  We were quite the sight.  The kids did great, even though it was a bit wet.

  • It was my friend Lisa's annual cookie exchange on the weekend.  I curse it every year - I always leave my baking to the last minute and have to force myself to do it.  But I always end up having a great time visiting at her house, and of course enjoy all the cookies.  I always end up eating Lisa's cookies first - she made egg nog cookies this year and they're awesome!
  • I love me some Qdoba - and it was even better when Jenn and I went on Tuesday and I ended up with free tacos!  I always make sure to swipe my loyalty card - and this time Jenn had forgotten hers, so I swiped for her order too, which put me over the top to make my Taco Tuesday a free one!

  • I went to see Mockingjay with my friend Kimberly, which made for a great night out.  Kimberly and I go to see three types of movies together - teen books which have been made into movies, dance movies, and Fast and Furious movies.  Sometimes X-Men movies, but we haven't seen one of those together in a long time.
  • I love a clever Wi-Fi name (sadly mine is just the standard Bell599 or whatever, I should get on that) so Bill Wi the Science Fi made me laugh way harder than it should have.  Sanctuary is pretty darn clever, too.

Stay safe out there, everyone!  It's been some wild weather this past week!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The Single Best Piece of Parenting Advice

I defer to my friend Amanda for a lot of parenting things.  She has three young kids, and is a kindergarten teacher so she knows all the tricks and cool things.  I basically treat her house like a test lab for toys.  "Oooh, what's that toy?  Your kids seem to really like that, maybe Vivian needs one too!"  She's a good friend to have around.  She's also the friend who gave me my absolute favourite piece of kids/parenting advice.

We were out doing something with the kids one day, probably when Vivian was a baby.  Amanda was going to give me a picture of her kids so she pulled a pair of scissors out of the vehicle's console and snipped off a couple of pictures.  That's when she dropped this truth on me:

"Put a pair of scissors in your car and never EVER take them out."

That advice is gold, my friends.

I have a pair of car scissors, and they've come in handy so many times.  Got a new toy that your kid needs RIGHT THIS SECOND?  Car scissors.  Juice box or some other bag of snacks that won't open?  Car scissors.  Permission slip you forgot about?  Car scissors.  Kid threw up all over the place and you had to buy them new clothes and are trying to take off all the tags?  Car scissors.

If you don't have scissors in your car right now you need to get yourself to a dollar store and buy a pair of car scissors.  I swear you won't regret it!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Treats of the Week - Just another person obsessed with Serial

Yes, it happened.  After a couple of weeks of seeing articles and comments everywhere about this podcast called Serial I finally checked it out.  And now I'm just another person who can't stop obsessing over this podcast.  It's so engaging - I listened to the first seven episodes on Saturday.  At one point I was just sitting in my living room just listening to it.  I wasn't even multitasking - that never happens!  I listened to the eighth installment this morning and now I can barely wait for Thursday when the new episode comes out.  If you haven't listened to it yet, go do it now so you can obsess about it with me immediately.

  • I was accepted into the Emerging Leaders program at work, which isn't quite as important as it sounds, but it's a step towards another step that will hopefully lead to some bigger things down the road.  Laying that groundwork.
  • November 11th was a beautiful day - potentially the last nice day of this fall.  It was clear and warm and sunny and I was able to walk to the cenotaph with some coworkers for the service.  I'd never been to the cenotaph in London, and this year over 10,000 people showed up.  It was heartwarming to see so many people there.
  • My mom always pulls through for me - whether big or small, she always manages to fix things.
  • I've been without light in my bathroom and bedroom for the last two weeks and finally got an electrician in to fix things - hooray for not having to get dressed by the light of my cellphone anymore!
  • Oh internet.  Kim Kardashian tries to break the internet, and you give me this.  I love you, internets.

  • I am obsessed with these muesli Morning Rounds.  They are so freaking good - I just came across them at the Superstore last week, and when I went back to buy a million more they were gone!  So now I have to track them down somewhere!  
  • I went to see Whiplash on Friday and you should all go see it immediately.  The performances were stunning and that ending!  I mean, whoa.  You need to see it.
  • I also started watching Benched on the weekend - I love me some Eliza Coupe, and the legal comedy is totally up my alley!
  • My Thursday night was kind of hectic - just one of those days where I was stuck at work late, and Vivian was exhausted and whiny, and that was when the electrician was here.  I was heading back to London that evening to meet up with Jenn and was feeling frazzled and kind of wishing that I'd just stayed on my couch.  But as I pulled into the parking lot of the busy mall, I somehow managed to not only find her car (I only had a vague idea of where she had parked) but also found a parking spot right beside her.  It's silly, but I instantly had this feeling of calm come over me like, "Ah, see?  You're supposed to be here now.  You're good."
  • I had a super productive day on Saturday thanks to having an entire day and night of no Vivian and no plans.  That does not happen often, my friends.  Leading up to Saturday I had considered doing absolutely nothing but burning through my PVR for the day, but ended up spending a few hours ouside raking up all my leaves and then brought that productivity indoors to paint my office.  My muscles were not pleased with me the next day, but it was worth it to get so much done before the insanity of the holiday season starts up!

  • I came across a few links to Sacha Goldberger's new exhibition of photos of 16th century cosplayers. You have to check it out - the detail is incredible!  
  • The City of Neighbourhoods series of toques by local startup dpms is awesome!  I had never heard of them before this weekend, but I totally want one!  I'm leaning towards either Lake Huron or Forest City.  I love all of their stuff though.  And it's funny, because I've always referred to London as a city of neighbourhoods, but I didn't realize it was a real thing, I just thought it was something I said.  Obviously they must have overheard me and stole my whole idea.  Bastards.  I should get a free toque.
  • The new holiday cups from Tim Hortons are so darn cute!  

  • Speaking of so darn cute, have you ever seen a better school picture?  The answer is no, you haven't.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Some Christmas Stuff

I have always tried to give Vivian choices.  I don't like her to feel like she "has" to like anything, or that there are toys that she shouldn't play with because she's a girl.  That doesn't mean that I keep her away from things though - I think there are positives to be found in most toys.  Monster High and Disney Princesses might have their faults, but there are good aspects too.  And if Vivian likes those things and wants those things, I'm not going to stand in her way.  She is just a kid, after all.  I do, however, like to sprinkle in some toys that will show her things in a different way, or that give her a different perspective.

With Vivian's birthday and Christmas fast approaching, I thought I would do a little roundup of some of the more feminist-leaning toys that I'm looking at for Vivian.

I love Playmobil toys.  I think they do a great job of providing a variety of gender-neutral options.  Sure, they have the princess fairy castle fantasy sets too, but there are also the zoo sets, dinosaur sets, hospitals, vet clinics, horse farms, hotels - lots of great options!  That's why I was so disappointed when Vivian and I received our Playmobil catalog and it featured this:

Playmobil claims that they were featuring the fact that the figures now have interchangeable clothes, and not that the girls'dream come true is the shopping centre.  I still feel like interchangeable clothes shouldn't be a selling feature to girls though - last time I checked, boys have to change their clothes too.  

For Vivian I'm looking at things like this...

Vivian is really into both horses and pandas right now.  I don't really know where the panda thing came in, but she's into them.  I love Playmobil sets like this - and Vivian loves them too.  She'll spend long periods of time setting everything up and creating little stories for the animals. 

One new toy that's really caused a stir and has come under a bit of fire is the new GoldieBlox action figure.  I really admire what GoldieBlox is trying to do, and have bought Vivian a couple of their sets for Christmas and am planning getting her the action figure.  While there is some controversy over the fact that the doll is still a slim, white, blonde doll I think it's a step in the right direction.  There's also controversy that by labelling this an action figure for girls, it immediately deems that all other action figures are not for girls.  Sorry, Vivian loves her Iron Man just as much as her other dolls.  I do, however, like that she does something (you can build her a zipline) and I like that she has a child's body, similar to the Lottie Dolls that I've written about before.  

As I said, Vivian is pretty into horses right now.  This is what I'm anticipating Santa bringing as her big gift this year - the Our Generation Saddle Up Stable.  While is is all pretty pink and gendered, I like that horse toys focus on her taking care of something else rather than just brushing the hair of a doll.

I came across these architecture stamps on the A Mighty Girl website, which is a great resource for books and toy ideas.  What a fun way to encourage kids to think about things in a creative way!

I've been getting Vivian a lot of books lately (damn you, book orders!) so I definitely want to put a few more under the Christmas tree!  This children's book written by ballerina Misty Copeland is supposed to be wonderful for young girls.  

And I love sneaking in any comic book heroes when I can!  

I love this toy, but I think it might be a little old for Vivian and may be better next year.  Roominate allows kids to build their own dollhouse and then wire it with real working lights and fans.  I've shown Vivian pictures, and she seems into it, but I think it might be a little complex yet.  

I've been trying to get Vivian as many female superhero toys as I can.  It's proven to be quite the complicated task.  Many superhero action figures are geared to adults so they're often too pricey to give to a kid for a toy, and their proportions are often a little too extreme for a 4 year old.  So far I've found her a Black Widow and Wasp, and hope to get a Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl as well.  She loves the Funko Pop! series, so they might be a good option as well!  

I have kind of held back on LEGO with Vivian, only because I was worried that she would get frustrated with more complicated sets if I started her too early.  I found a great deal on this Merida set a couple of months ago, so I tucked it away for Christmas.  She loves Merida, as do I.  Hopefully we'll both have fun putting this set together!  

Like I said, there will still be lots of more "traditional" girl toys under the tree as well.  And that's okay.  She's allowed to like Barbie and Equestria Girls and all those other things.  It's just up to her parents to try and sneak in a little variety as well!

Let me know if you have some other suggestions!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Very Vivian - V-I-V-I-A-N

Vivian has been hard at work these days.  She's been writing her name like crazy - she's often carrying around a pen and notebook just practicing her name and drawing people.  It's so cute seeing her concentrating and even cuter to see just how proud she is of her name.  She's doing well with all of the letters, but hasn't quite mastered putting them in the right order yet.  

I like to stock up on notebooks during the back to school sales when you can get them for like 15 cents each.  It's a good thing too - Vivian's filled about four of them just with her name and drawings!

The big Sharpie is her favourite tool - I suspect she likes the smell.  Santa might have to give her a stocking full of notebooks, pens, and smelly markers!

In Case of Emergency Kit

I live in Strathroy, but I'm always on the road.  Between work in London, friends in London, family and friends in Lambton Shores, I'm always driving somewhere.  Because of this, my car is basically one big purse.  It's not unusual for me to end up stuck overnight somewhere - just this past weekend I spent the night at my mom's house unexpectedly, and I have my own room on standby at Jenn's place.  I like to try to be prepared, so I've assembled a bit of an emergency kit to have in my car/in my purse for those times when I do get stuck.  I also spent a lot of time getting dressed in my car for those times when I stay in London after work.  Yes, my car might be small but I make it work!

Like I said, I was stuck at mom's on Saturday night, and was without my emergency kit.  Because of this oversight, I've made a renewed effort to keep it stocked and in my car - especially with the winter weather on its way, it doesn't hurt to be prepared!

So here's what I drag around - with the exception of a few items that I didn't think needed to be a part of the photo - I don't think anyone needs a picture of extra tampons.  However, the one item that isn't pictured but is a very important part of the kit is the spare pair of underwear.  Definitely essential!  And I actually took one picture with them included, but then thought, you know what?  I've been blogging for over five years and my underwear haven't made an appearance.  Let's keep that streak running.

  1. Bandaids - especially in the winter my knuckles split and crack, so it's always nice to have a bandaid handy.
  2. Body Spray - always good for a quick freshening up!
  3. Headphones - I just seem to have extra pairs so I tossed one in there.
  4. Cell phone charger - absolutely essential.  No one wants to be stuck with a dead cellphone.
  5. EOS Lip Balm - my absolute favourite.  I have these everywhere - one at my desk at work, one in my purse, one beside my bed, one to bring into court - they're amazing.  I love how they feel and the round shape makes it easy to find in a deep, dark purse.
  6. Advil - I'm actually really bad at carrying this with me, but I've made a renewed effort.
  7. Mini flashlight - just a little keychain light.
  8. Contacts case - I don't wear my contacts very often, but when I do I want to know that I can take them out if I need to.  I can't handle sleeping in contacts.
  9. Pens and a Sharpie - sometimes people laugh at me for carrying a Sharpie with me, but you wouldn't believe how many times it's come in handy!
  10. Lip gloss - I actually don't use this too often, but it's nice to have something more makeup-y on hand if I need it.
  11. Mouthwash - always good on the go.
  12. Deodorant - not as necessary this time of year, but very good to have on hand in the summer.
  13. Flossing sticks - again, doesn't hurt to have them on hand.
  14. Elastic - even though my hair isn't long enough for a pony tail anymore, this is still floating around.
  15. Wet wipes - I should probably just throw a full-sized wet wipes package in my car, because I use them constantly.  Always good to have in the car for Vivian (aka Nutellaface McGee) and good to have in my purse for wiping down a table in a restaurant or if you end up at a rib fest.  I use wet wipes to wash my face too, so they're absolutely necessary for an emergency kit!
  16. Travel Toothbrush - yes, that funny looking thing is a folding toothbrush and I love it.  There's nothing worse than being stuck without a toothbrush. 
  17. Hand sanitizer - those mini hand sanitizers from Bath & Body Works are my favourite.  They're super small so you can just have them everywhere.  Plus they smell pretty.
  18. Alka Seltzer - the little travel packs of Alka Seltzer are great to have on hand for if you are coming down with a cold or just have an upset stomach.  My mom swears by Alka Seltzer for when you feel a cold coming on.
  19. Excel mints - I eat these mints constantly - I've kind of given up on gum because I just end up biting the inside of my cheeks.  
That's what I like to have on hand - tell me what you like to keep stashed in your car so I can improve my kit!