Friday, 30 September 2011

Vivian Vendredi - Getting bossy

All of a sudden, Vivian is really communicating with us.  She claps when she's happy, she signs "all done" when she doesn't want something anymore, she gives me hugs that aren't thinly veiled operations at stealing my glasses or pulling my hair, she shakes her head "no" if I ask her to come over to me when she doesn't want to - she's really getting expressive.  I love it.

She's not really saying words yet though.  She'll make the sound for Mama and Dada, but hasn't really associated it with us, at least I don't think she has.  Sometimes she'll say "Mumumum" when I go in to get her from her nap, but not all the time.

I know people always say that you shouldn't wish them any older, because one day I'll wish she was this small again, but I really can't wait until she's older.  She's so close to getting what she wants, it's frustrating to see her struggle to play with older kids and throw tantrums because she can't ask for what she wants.  She's been taking a few steps on her own and is definitely determined to keep going.  She learned how to go down the stairs the other day too.  I was amazed at how quickly she learned it.  It probably only took about 20 minutes for her to go from trying it for the first time to mastering it and crawling up and down the stairs at my mom's house.  I love to watch her learn.

As she's getting more expressive though, she's definitely getting bossy.  If she doesn't want to eat something, she signs "all done" as forcefully as she can (just picture her angry little arms flapping all over the place) until I take it away or she throws it on the floor, whatever happens first.  Her favourite game right now is playing on the laptop.  If I'm typing, she'll pull my hands away so she can type.  The other day I just gave in and let her bang on it, but apparently that wasn't fun enough because she took my hand, put it on the keyboard, then pulled it away again, just to make a game of it.

She's quite the girl.  Who knows what she'll come up with next.

Oh, and she broke the camera this week.  We were fighting over it and she threw it on the floor.  I'm hoping it will come back to life like it did last time, but in the mean time, we'll just have to use the webcam!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Ashlie Mix #5

The Rentals - "My Summer Girl"

Propagandhi - "Resisting Tyrannical Government"

Mastodon - "Crystal Skull"

Say Anything - "Wow, I can get sexual too!"

Matthew Sweet - "Sick of Myself"

Junior Boys - "High Come Down"

Rush - "Time Stands Still"

Owen - "In the Morning, Before Work"

The Mars Volta - "Vermicide"

Raised by Swans - "Drag the Morning"

Don Ross - "No Goodbyes"

Elliott - "Waiting While Under Paralysis"

Dillinger Escape Plan - "Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants"

Tool - "Eulogy"

The Northern Pikes - "Lady House"

No love on YouTube!

The Strokes - "Heart in a Cage"

Barenaked Ladies - "Blame it on me"

Iron & Wine - "Evening on the Ground"

Thom Yorke - "Atoms for Peace"

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Curbside Wine Crates

I had a pretty awesome curbside find the other day.  I was driving home one afternoon when I saw these wine crates sitting in someone's driveway.

It was garbage day, but I couldn't quite tell if they were sitting out at the curb, or if people just had them outside - you know how sometimes it's kind of iffy?  Anyway, Vivian was screaming in the car, so I couldn't stop right away, but I thought if it's meant to be, they'll be there later.  I went to a movie with a friend that night, and on my way home they were still there.  I pulled over and started loading them up.  Luckily, the house was right around the corner, so when my car got full, I just dumped them in the garage and went back for the rest.

When Jagger saw them, all he could say was, "I knew you were going to take those.  I saw them sitting out there and just knew you would drag them home."  I just asked why he didn't get them for me and save me the trouble of loading them up.

So now the question is what to do with them.  I have 24 crates, and they're much smaller than my old apple crates.  Of course Pinterest is full of ideas.

This was my first thought - using them as planter boxes like they did here.

Second thought was adding casters to them to use as under-bed storage like here.

Of course, I could always just stack them up and use them for storage again.

 I'm open to suggestions!  Unless of course the suggestion is to stop picking up garbage from the side of the road.  Mom, I know you were thinking it!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Painting Rooms the Hooker Shower Way

Do you know what a "hooker shower" is?  I think there's multiple definitions - the one I most commonly use is that it's a shower where you don't wash your hair - because it's the only part of you that isn't dirty.  Other variations include just giving yourself a quick clean-up with wet wipes (I prefer to think of that as a camping shower) or just spraying on more perfume.

What could that possibly have to do with painting our bedroom?  Well, I did a hooker shower version of painting the room.

First of all, let's go back.  I've been wanting to paint our room since before we even moved in.  The lime green just wasn't doing it for me.  Here's a messy before shot.

Fun Fact - apparently this room was used as the previous owner's son's room, and the parents slept in the basement.  Kind of weird, right?

Anyway - Jagger was away at a conference last week, so I decided to paint it since it would only be me getting displaced and having to sleep in the office.  Of course, I was super broke, so I had to make do with what I had.  

I decided to use the leftover paint from when Vivian's room was painted last year.  I love the colour (Fort Gary Grey by Para Paint), we still had lots left, and I figured we would repaint Vivian's room long before this room would get repainted, so it's not like they would be the same colour forever.  Not that that's a big deal - it's kind of fitting, since those two rooms were the same colour to start with.

So I cracked open the can of paint and went to town with my new dollar store paint brush and roller.  I had taped off the trim for the first time ever since I knew I would have to paint quickly, while Vivian was sleeping.  Normally, I just paint away and don't worry about taping - I'm too impatient for that.  Anyway, I got the cutting in done and had painted three walls when I realized I wouldn't have enough paint to do two coats.


See, I love painting, but I'm really impatient at it.  I love doing one coat, can tolerate doing a second coat, and almost always refuse a third coat or more.  So when I realized I was running out of paint, I didn't do the practical thing and go buy more paint, I went with the hooker shower option, and totally half-assed it.

Once I had the first coat on and dried, I took a good look at it.  It looked okay - it had covered well, and there were only those little speckles that seem to come through they way they do on that first coat.  Of course, it really needed a second coat to make it finished, but since that wasn't happening, I went for the next best thing.  I grabbed my paint brush and the little paint I had left and just started slapping it on the bald patches.

Yes, I did.  I know, it sounds so ghetto and I'm sure there's some designer somewhere losing it over my bad form (you can get an idea of what I was dealing with in this picture) but I really, really didn't want to buy more paint.

In the end, it turned out very okay.  Sure there are still a few areas that could definitely use a second coat of paint (I keep telling myself that maybe one day I'll do a proper second coat, but who am I kidding?) but it's definitely very okay.  I probably should have just added some of the white paint that I have just to be sure I had lots of paint, but I didn't.  I'm not one of those people who think that the master bedroom needs to be a perfect sanctuary or anything, it's just a room.  A room that very few people see.  I don't exactly entertain guests in there, so it's really not that big of a deal.  I'm just happy it's not lime green anymore.

What do you think?  Improvement?  Pretty impressive for getting it done by myself while Vivian was napping, huh?

That's one thing to scratch off the to-do list.  What do you think of that wooden dresser-nightstand dealio I have going there?  I'm considering spray painting it.  Possibly purple.  I don't know if that's a terrible idea or not.  I'm also considering painting that old Singer sewing table.  I'm thinking grey on the bottom and yellow on the top.  Terrible idea?

Friday, 23 September 2011

Vivian Vendredi - All By Herself

As much as Vivian seems to enjoy being stuck to my side 95% of the day, she is getting pretty adventurous at going off on her own.

I'll often hear the "slap, slap, slap" of her crawling off down the hall on her own, looking for an open room to investigate.  Usually, I'll leave a couple of doors open for her, so she can play.  Her favourite room is the bathroom, because it's almost always closed.  When she's in there though, she goes straight for my makeup bag in the cabinet - at least someone is using it.

In the office, she can usually find some books close enough to the floor that she can reach them - or she starts playing with the 15 packages of crayons that I impulsively bought during the back to school sales.

In our bedroom, she usually just walks around the bed and tries to pull things off the nightstands.

And in her room she plays with the basket of stuffed animals on the floor, or opens her closet door to play in there.

I'll give her a couple of minutes to enjoy the independence of playing by herself, then I'll "go find her" to make sure she isn't getting into any trouble (playing with cords is one of her favourite games).  She thinks it's hilarious when I walk in and say, "What are you doing?"

She's so funny.  I love that she has that independent streak, even if it does drive me crazy.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Keep Calm and Rip Off

Do you know the story of the Keep Calm and Carry On poster?

The story goes that it was a poster created during World War II to increase morale in England.  It was a part of a series of posters, but this specific poster was only released in very limited numbers, due to the outbreak of the war getting in the way of the printing schedule.  Then, in 2000, a copy of the poster was found in a bookstore.  Because it had been over 50 years, the image was public domain.  It has since been reprinted countless times both in its original form and in many, many modified forms.

Isn't that great?  I think it's such a wonderful story - like finding buried treasure.  This lost image, so graphic and bold and comforting being lost for so long and then reemerging.  The graphic and typography seems to modern, so fresh, you would never know how old it is.

Of course, with its popularity has brought the parodies.  It seems like you can't look anywhere without finding some spin on this popular image.  Here's just a few that I've come across...

For reals, there's one for everything you can possibly imagine.

It just makes me sad.  Such a simple, beautiful message has been reduced to a cliche so incredibly quickly.  It's just lost all meaning.

Am I being elitist?  Should I celebrate the fact that a public domain image is being reimagined by so many people?  Or are there some things that should be left well enough alone?

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Buyer Beware

I'm finding out that a big part of having kids seems to be getting rid of their stuff.  At some point you realize you have too much stuff, or you're not going to have any more kids, or for whatever reason you just decide you need to purge the toys, clothes and general junk that is taking over your house.  From what I can tell, there seem to be a few different ways of handling this.

  • You can sell it to a store.  I'm a big fan of Once Upon a Child.  They sell new and used kids stuff, and I find them to be pretty reasonable.  The stuff is always good quality, and the staff has always been super nice.  If you want to sell your stuff, you drag it all down there, they go through it all, offer you a price, you take it and walk away.  Seems simple, right?  I think that would be the way I would go.  I've been told by the staff that it's not uncommon for someone to drag all their stuff down, have the staff spend a couple hours going through everything and adding it up, then being unsatisfied with the price and packing everything back up and leaving.  I know you could probably make more money by selling your stuff in various other ways (see below) but really, is it worth the effort if you have that much stuff to get rid of?
  • You can post it on Kijiji, where people will respond, offer you less than what you're looking for, maybe they'll show up, maybe they won't - who knows!  It's a bit of a jungle out there.  I love Kijiji, and I consider myself to be a good Kijiji shopper.  I show up when I say I'm going to show up, I buy what I commit to, I pay in correct change.  But there has been so many times that I've bought something from someone who says, "I just want to get rid of it.  I get a dozen emails a day about it and no one ever shows up."  You have to deal with flakes and strangers coming to your house.  Maybe that's not your deal.  
  • The other sell it yourself option is Facebook.  It seems like there is constantly a new group being posted which is the same idea - you post your pictures of the stuff you want to sell, then deal with all the flakes.  I keep joining these groups and then leaving because it's just too intense and pointless.  Girls will call dibs on piles of stuff, but then you invariably see a pissed-off seller leaving posts on the wall (I've seen angry posts about "Don't sell to so-and-so, she never shows up."  Or, "Where were you?  I waited for a half hour and you never showed.")  My favourite is the person who will say they want loads of stuff, then post that they can't pay for it for a couple of weeks.  I get it - maternity leave is rough.  There's lots of times where I have no extra money until baby bonus time or the next employment insurance payout, but you know what?  I don't commit to buy things if I don't have the money.  If I really want something, I'll tell them, "Look, I'm interested, but I won't have the money until Tuesday.  If it's still available, I'll get in touch with you."  I would never ask someone to hold something for me, but some of these other girls sure will!  I don't know, maybe I'm being catty - I find these groups to be really hard to handle.
  • Maybe a good old fashioned yard sale is more your speed.  Of course, yard sales are a lot of work.  I think the last time my mom and I had a yard sale we figured out that we made like $3 an hour for all the time we put into it.  And you can always be left with a bunch of stuff which doesn't sell, and then you're just back to the start of selling it to a store or on Kijiji or Facebook.
  • A Mom-To-Mom Sale.  Have you been to one of these yet?  They're basically big (often indoors) yard sales.  You can pay to rent a table and set up your stuff.  I've had pretty good luck shopping at these, but I find some stuff can be over priced.  If you're going to a mom-to-mom sale, I'll recommend this - don't bring your kids.  These sales are usually crowded, and you may have to wait in line before getting in (There's a big one that happens in London that's hosted by the Multiple Births Association.  Last year I think I waited in line for an hour and a half to get in).  No one needs to be bumped in the heels by your stroller or have your kid touching everything they want.  Leave the kids.  Also, take a good look around - some of the bigger sales (like the one in London) will have a drop-off area for bigger items.  If you find something big that you like and want, you can leave it in an area so you don't have to drag it around with you.  Follow this rule, don't hit me with the playpen that you insist on dragging around for an hour.
  • Load it up and donate it.  The donation boxes are always overflowing after a big yard sale day.  And if you take this option, then I may have the good fortune of picking something up at a great price at my local St. Vincent de Paul.  You may not make money this way, but it's definitely easy.
Or, you can just give it to me.  I rarely turn down a freebie.

What's your favourite way of shopping or unloading stuff?  Have you had negative or positive experiences with mommy groups?

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Whose room is it anyway?

Do you ever read Ohdeedoh?  Since Vivian's been around, I've been checking it out pretty much everyday.  It's a great site filled with beautiful kids rooms, awesome party ideas, and really great crafts.  Lately though, I've come across a couple of articles that have bothered me a little bit.  Here's the links to the two articles - check them out and let me know if anything sticks out to you.

Did you read them?  I didn't think so.  Here's what bothered me in each article...

"If you're like my mom and you let your little Rainbow Brite choose the colour, then I commend you, I really do, because I loved my raspberry room.  If however, you are like me and want to steer away from certain eyeball-melting hues, then I have a couple of tips for you that I discovered while shopping for paint with my daughter recently."

"My 9-year old daughter has been begging for some cool updates in her room, and I've been a little resistant for fear of an onslaught of purple and sparkles and faux fuzzy things.  How do I incorporate all the glitter she wants while keeping the design chic and fresh?"

Basically, both articles are talking about decorating in kids rooms without letting it get ugly.  You know, by letting the kids get what they want.

Now, I get it.  Kids stuff can be ugly.  It's usually something plastic or furry or some garish colour and covered in faces.  It probably won't match the rest of your home, and yes, you probably will have to change it when they get tired of it.

But isn't that kind of the point?

I understand that there are some aspects of design for kids that you want to be timeless.  Good, solid pieces of furniture that are built to last are definitely a must.  And I understand that you don't want to repaint a bedroom or buy another set of sheets and comforter when your kid decides that they are over Thomas, or Spongebob or whatever else it is.  But isn't it more important to give your kids a sense of ownership of their own rooms?  Don't you want to make that space the absolute most fun space it can be?

The rooms on Ohdeedoh are amazing, really.  The nurseries are all perfectly put together whether they're filled with the best, top-of-the-line items, or carefully curated with vintage pieces.  But I can't help but feel like most of it is for the parents, and not the kids.

When I was decorating Vivian's room, I wanted it to be bright and fun, but have neutral walls which could be easily changed since we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl.  All along I was decorating it with the knowledge that we would probably be starting all over from scratch as soon as the kid came along and got a mind of her own.  (And boy, does Vivian ever have a mind of her own.)  I never thought of that room as being my room.  I never worried about how it fit in with the rest of the house, or how people would react to it.  I wanted it to be functional and fun for her.  I don't know, maybe my house just isn't perfect enough to understand.

I mean, this room is beautiful.  It really is.

But in a couple of years, if your kid is begging to have Dora the Explorer on her wall, are you going to say no because it isn't pretty enough?

I don't know, maybe I'm getting worked up over nothing.  Maybe these kids are really into design and appreciate all the fuss over their rooms.  But if Vivian asks for her room to be painted some outrageous colour one day, I really hope I still think this way and will encourage her to make her own decisions for her own space.

But who knows, maybe she'll have impeccable taste and I won't have to worry about staring at bright pink and princesses for the next few years.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Movie Munchies

I came across this article sometime ago about smuggling snacks at the movies.  It made me laugh, because I am definitely someone who has gotten their seats at the movie, dumped out my purse and left all my junk with whichever poor soul has come to the movie with me, then dashed out to the adjoining mall's food court and returned to the movie triumphant with a purse filled with goodies not typically found at the movies.  A burger, a sandwich, some candy bought in bulk, it doesn't matter.  It's all about the smuggle.

Of course it gets even worse at the Stars and Strollers shows - these are the matinees where you can bring your baby.  Not only do the staff not care at all about what you haul into the movie, you have a stroller with you and can stuff it full of all kinds of stuff!  Bottles of pop, bags of chips, you name it, you can find a place to stash it.

But do you agree with the article?  Are there some foods that are too offending to smuggle in to a movie? Some smells that just shouldn't blend with buttery popcorn?  I don't know, I think if you can smuggle it in, it's fair game.  I don't think anyone is smuggling in curry or anything, but maybe I'm wrong.

With the prices at the movies, I think it's pretty much expected now that you'll hear at least one or two cans of pop being opened during a loud part of a trailer, don't you?  Are you the one doing the discreet opening?

Friday, 16 September 2011

Vivian Vendredi - Project Sleepytime

After 9 months with Vivian, we still don't seem to be any closer to her sleeping through the night.  Since we've started seeing our homeopath, things have been much calmer when she wakes up, but we're still looking at a lot of wake-ups through the night.  Right now, a usual night for Vivian is usually something like this - she'll go to bed at 7:00, wake up around 11:00, have part of a bottle and go back to bed.  Then we usually have wake-ups at around 1:00 and 3:00 which are the same thing - part of a bottle and back to bed.  Sometimes there will be a wake-up around 6:00, but that one isn't for sure.  If she's up at 6:00, I will usually put her back to bed to try and push her until 7:30 or so to wake up for the day.  Of course, things change all the time.

I feel like most of the time, she is only waking up to see me, to make sure I'm still there.  She'll have some of her bottle to relax herself back to sleep, but it doesn't really seem like she's actually hungry.  So, what I'm trying to do is let her get herself back to sleep instead, so that we can hopefully get down to only waking up once at night.  That would be awesome.

Here's my problem though - whenever I've tried to just let herself cry and whine during the night to put herself back to sleep, she ends up waking up even more.  Then instead of a drowsy baby who goes back to sleep easily, I have a wide-awake baby who is talking to me and touching my face and trying to chase the cats off the bed.

So what do I do?  Do I keep catering to her being awake whenever she wants?  Do I let her cry it out and hope she just deals with it herself?  I just don't know what the best approach is anymore.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Anniversary Gifts

I was watching Ellen the other day and Ashton Kutcher was talking about anniversary gifts.  He was saying how the 6th anniversary gift is candy.  That didn't seem right, so I checked it out on the ever-reliable Wikipedia.

Turns out, he's right.

The traditional U.K. anniversary gift is sugar.  Weird, right?  Jagger and I are trying to follow the traditional anniversary gifts, which will probably only last another year or so before "gift card" becomes the de facto gift.  What I thought was strange though, were the Modern U.S. gifts.  I've copied the chart below.  Let's peruse it, shall we?

YearTraditional (U.S.)Traditional (UK)[12][13]Modern (U.S.)
3rdLeatherCrystal, glass
4thLinen, silkFruit and flowersAppliances
6thIronSugarWood objects
7thWool, copperWoollenDesk sets
8thBronzeSaltLinens, lace
9thPotteryCopperLeather goods far, so good.  Nothing too excessive, although the appliances for the 4th anniversary seems a bit much, but whatever.  Moving on...

10thTin, aluminumTinDiamond
11thSteelFashion jewelry
12thSilkSilk and fine linenPearls, colored gems
13thLaceTextiles, furs
14thIvoryGold jewelry

Whoa.  We took a quick step up there, didn't we?  Diamonds already?  I mean, traditional is Tin.  Seems a little excessive, right?

16thSilver holloware
23rdSilver plate
24thMusical instruments

At this point, the traditional gifts only pop up every 5 years, but the modern ones just keep going.  I don't even know what holloware is, and the musical instruments year sounds pretty entertaining.

26thOriginal pictures
29thNew furniture
(e.g., automobiles)
36thBone china
38thBeryl, tourmaline

I love how they specify "New furniture".  Not some antique.  We're getting new stuff this year!  Then it's on to more diamonds, a quick stop for a new watch, then you get a car?  Really?  But then you drop down to lace for the 39th?  This is weird.

42ndImproved real estate

I find it really funny how you get land for your 41st anniversary, then apparently you're supposed to improve on whatever you built on that land the next year.  But really?  Groceries for 44 years?  You get a car for the 32nd anniversary, but you go to the grocery store for the 44th?

46thOriginal poetry tribute
48thOptical goods
(e.g., telescope, microscope)
49thLuxuries, any kind

I think this might be my favourite section.  Original poetry tribute, then books (um, I got a book for my first anniversary) then you get a telescope or microscope, then "Luxuries, any kind".  Just any old kind of luxuries.  You know, whatever you can find.

65thBlue sapphire 70thPlatinum[14][15][16] 75thDiamond, goldDiamond, gold 80thOak[17][18]Diamond, pearl 85thWineDiamond, sapphire 90thStoneDiamond, emerald 95thDiamond, ruby 100th10-carat diamond

Then you just start piling on the jewels.  Just throw a diamond in there with whatever else you can find, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, you know the drill.  Then if you can survive to the 100th anniversary, you get a 10-carat diamond.  Which will no doubt break your 130 year old arm.

Is it just me, or is this the craziest, most excessive list ever?  Of course, according to Wiki (and why would I doubt Wiki?) the modern list was compiled by Jewelers of America, so I'm surprised every year doesn't have a diamond attached.