Monday, 31 October 2011

My love/hate relationship with Paranormal Activity

Since it's Halloween, I thought I would explain something about myself - I have a bit of a complicated relationship with the film franchise "Paranormal Activity".  I'm not a huge fan of horror movies in general.  I don't hate them, but I don't love them either.  Usually I'm pretty meh on them.  But in 2009 I started hearing about a little movie called "Paranormal Activity".

Do you remember the first time you heard about it?  I do.  See, I read Entertainment Weekly's website pretty much constantly.  One day, I read about this movie that was made for practically no money that was making a huge splash.  People were leaving the theatre because it was so scary.  There was a "Demand It" campaign where you could vote to have it be played at a theatre in your town.  But best of all, the trailers showed the audience reaction.

Seeing the audience reaction made it impossible for me to not want to see it.  How could a movie really be that scary?  How could it affect that many people?

Then I saw it.  And immediately regretted it.

That movies stayed with me for weeks.  I just kept thinking about it.  There's something so terrifying about the simplicity of it that just got to me in a way that very few movies ever have.

Eventually, I worked up the courage to watch it again.  In broad daylight, of course.  It wasn't quite so terrifying the second time around, but it was still effective.

When the second movie came around last year, I was more reluctant.  I don't know if you've seen Paranormal Activity 2, but the main focus of the movie is a baby.  For some reason, I decided to go see it when I was about 8 months pregnant.

Terrible idea.

I still haven't seen it again.  It was bad enough that I was still thinking about the first movie, but now with the addition of the sequel?  Bad news.

Over the course of the last 11 months with Vivian, I've gotten up at least two or three times a night.  And let me tell you, I still think about those movies every single time I get up.  Every time I have to walk across the hall to tend to Vivian, I have to peek at the living room to see if there's anyone there.  I can't sleep with my feet out of the blankets anymore, because I might get pulled down the hallway by some unseen being.  Shadows, creaks, bumps in the night - my first thought always goes back to Paranormal Activity.

So of course, I thought it would be a great idea to go see the third movie yesterday.

I think the third one scared me the least out of all of them.  Don't get me wrong, it still offered plenty of scares, but it just didn't cut to the core of me like the other two did.  I'm wondering if it was because we saw it in a relatively empty theatre.

Call me a glutton for punishment, but I do love seeing these movies.  I especially love seeing them in the theatre.  Half of the fun of them is hearing everyone else jump and scream and react to every slammed door and unidentified shadow.  Sure, I pay for it later, but it's worth it for the scare.

And isn't that what Halloween is all about?  Getting a bit of a scare?

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Vivian Vendredi - Vivian's Ladies

I'm kind of oddly strict with Vivian's dolls.  She has three special dolls that all live in special places.  See, I have this whole theory that if she only gets a specific doll at a specific time/place then it's more exciting and special.

So here's our three...

At the top we have Mermaid - she lives in the car and gets to come with us to places like graphic novel group.

In the middle we have Dolly - she lives in the crib.  Vivian loves her and is always trying to break her out of crib jail by pulling her through the bars.

And at the bottom is Baby - she lives on the stroller, but I think she's going to move to daycare and have naps with Vivian there.

That picture was nearly impossible to take, by the way.  Vivian was so excited to see all of her dolls in the same place that she kept trying to grab them and hug them all.

Moving in for the kill

I love that she loves her dolls so much and that she seems to understand that they each have their place. Sometimes when she wakes up she'll be in her crib hugging her Dolly and have her soother in her mouth, but I'll tell her that Dolly and suckie live in the bed and she'll just leave them there.  It's nice for her to have a comfort everywhere.

Don't worry, she has lots of other toys to hug and play with, these are just her special dollies.

In other Vivian news - she's pretty much mastered walking and rarely crawls when we're at home now. She's a pro at standing up on her own too - I've never seen a baby just stand up the way she does - not even using her hands to push off or anything.  I finally caught it on video for you!

Have a great Halloween weekend, everyone!  It's my birthday tomorrow and Vivian is spending the night at my mom's for the second time ever.  I'm pretty excited at the possibility of getting six or maybe even seven hours of sleep!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Visiting the Lost Souls

Last night I did something awesome.  Something I've been talking about doing for years.  I went on the Lost Soul Stroll with my friend Jeannette.

The Lost Soul Stroll is a 90 minute guided walk through downtown London which is put on by the Fringe Festival.  As you walk, you encounter all sorts of dastardly and unfortunate souls from London's history.  Our guides last night were Dr. Thomas Cream - London's own version of Jack the Ripper, as well as Phoebe Campbell (the only woman ever hanged in London) and her lover, Tom Coyle.  On our walk through the dark alleys of London we encountered such ghouls as Captain Donald Rankin - captain of the SS Victoria, whose capsizing killed 181 people, the worst tragedy in London's history; Effie Moss - a fraudulent medium who would take you for all you were worth (mind your codpieces!); Bridget Donnelly - the Midnight Lady who supposedly can be seen riding up and down the Roman Line every February 4th; the Talbot Tot - the poor infant who was found buried during the construction of the John Labatt Centre, buried and unknown for over 100 years.

All of the Lost Souls were excellent performers - the amount of work that must go into each performance is staggering.  The costumes, the dialogue, the ad-libbing with the audience, and all of it happening in the rain.  It was a fantastic show, and at $20 a ticket, an excellent deal.

With different Lost Souls each year, I'm definitely looking forward to checking it out next year as a new Halloween tradition.  Won't you join me?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Don't let the pink 80s writing fool you.

I don't usually review movies on here, mostly because I'm too rambly and there's just so many other people who do a much better job than I could do.  However, my friend Jenn and I went to see Drive the other night and I feel I need to share my thoughts on this film.

Holy.  Shit.

That's my review.

This was honestly the craziest experience I've ever had at the movies.  I went in thinking I knew what the movie was about - Ryan Gosling plays a Hollywood stunt man who is also a getaway car driver on the side. Seems pretty simple.  Bryan Cranston is in it, which is awesome.  So's Christina Hendricks - extra awesome!  For the first half of the movie we were kind of lulled into this nice movie - oh, he has a cute neighbour with a cute kid!  Oh, they want him to be a racecar driver!  This is great.

About halfway through the movie, it takes a huge turn and we spent the rest of the time hiding behind our hands asking each other, "What is happening?!"

I won't tell you what happens - it is a really good movie, and you should see it for yourself.  This is honestly the first movie in a very long time that literally made my jaw drop.  For anyone who has already seen it - it was the hotel scene that did me in.  Crazy.  I mean, Albert Brooks plays a mobster.  Do you know how disconcerting it is to hear Finding Nemo's dad yell obscenities and stab people?  Crazy.

See this movie if you can handle gore and violence.  Be careful driving after it.  Jenn and I could barely find our way out of the parking lot after.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Halloween misfits

It's almost Halloween and the shelves are full of candy.  This, of course, is awesome.  However, in every delicious multipack of mini chocolate bars, there has to be the one that you avoid.  The one that you eat as a last resort when there are no better options left.  

Let's review, shall we?

Here's our first mix.

This is one of my favourite varieties, because I loves me some Wunderbar.  So for me, the order here is Wunderbar, then Crispy Crunch, then Caramilk.  Last place of course goes to the Mr. Big.  It's not that there's anything really wrong with Mr. Big, it's just that he's the misfit.  He's the one that you avoid until you have no other choice.

This one's easy.  The Aero is the clear loser here.  The rest of the order goes Kit Kat, Coffee Crisp then Smarties.  Stupid Aero.  It's barely even a chocolate bar.
Obviously in this case you have Snickers, Twix, Peanut M&Ms and then the dead last Plain M&Ms.  These should only be eaten in case of an emergency.

What would be interesting is if you could take the best of all these variety packs and have them duke it out.  Let's say for instance you had a package that had Snickers, Twix, Kit Kat, Wunderbar and Crispy Crunch together.  That's almost impossible to rank!  If I absolutely had to choose, I think I would go with Wunderbar, Snickers, Kit Kat, Crispy Crunch, Twix.  So maybe the crappy chocolate bars serve a purpose.  They allow us to better appreciate the really good bars.  I mean, in what universe would Twix be the final option?

What do you think?  What's your favourite Halloween variety pack?

Monday, 24 October 2011

I have an addiction. I understand this.'s a story.

I've been selling a few things on Kijiji lately.  I made a sale to a girl and offered to drop it off to her since she lived on my way to an appointment.  She wasn't going to be home at the time, but said she would leave the money with her husband.  Easy peasy.

Of course, my GPS dies on my way to her house, so I have to navigate my way through the subdivision on my own trying to find her house.  I turn the wrong way down her street and see this bad boy sitting at the side of the road.

Can you believe it?

Of course, it's raining and I have to drop off the item first.  So I find her house, ring the bell and tell the husband I'm dropping something off and he's supposed to have some money for me.  He has no idea what I'm talking about.  "That's okay," I say, "I have an appointment to go to anyway, I can come back in an hour or so if that's helpful."  "No, no.  It's okay, I have to go out anyway.  Just follow me to the bank."  Next thing I know, this guy is loading his kid in the car and I'm following him to the bank leaving my chair behind.  After waiting in the parking lot all shady like for my cash, we finalize the Kijiji deal and I have to head off to my appointment.  I made a deal with myself to go back and see if the chair was still there, and if it is it would be meant to be.

It was still there.  Hooray!

I love it.  It's awesome and exactly matches my other chairs (remember these?).  These chairs have been popping up everywhere - I saw one in the background of an episode of Parks and Recreation.  See what's hiding behind Andy?

I saw one in another show, but I forget which one.

Sarah Richardson even used them in her amazing cottage.

Don't they look pretty in white?

Anyway, now I have two regular chairs and one on wheels.  Restoration Hardware is selling reproductions of this exact chair for $495, so I think finding an original one on the side of the road is a pretty good score.

In weathered driftood and black

So now I don't know what to do with all of them.  They all need a bit of gluing, and the new wheeled one has some damage that needs to be fixed somehow...

...but they're all still super solid and all kinds of awesome.

Any suggestions?  I'm still torn between painting them or staining them.

Have you found anything awesome at the side of the road lately?  And yes, those wine crates are still sitting in my garage.  I don't know what to do with them yet.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Vivian Vendredi - I think she's sending me a message

Now that it's fall here, the weather has been cold and wet and windy so playing outside hasn't really been an option for Vivian.  My mom loaned us her water table and I got it set up in the kitchen for Vivian to play with.  I decided not to put sand in it because we have two stupid cats and I could just picture them thinking, "How convenient!  A lovely table of sand right here in the kitchen for us!"  Yeah, I wasn't up for it.  So instead I went through the pantry and filled the table with pasta and lentils to give her lots of fun textures to play with.

Oh yeah, that looks fun.

The good news is, Vivian does love playing with it, and it keeps her busy while I'm cooking.  The bad news is, I think she would much prefer it be an actual water table again.  Here's what she thinks of it.

Handful after handful gets thrown on the floor.  I'm amazed that there's still anything left in it at this point.  Maybe she thinks that if she can throw it all on the floor then I'll give in and put water in it for her again.  We'll see.

Here's another somewhat random video for anyone who doesn't have me on Facebook - you get a good idea of where she's at with her walking in this one.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Peanut Butter M&Ms

I eat far more Peanut Butter M&Ms than I care to admit to.  They're definitely my weakness.  See, the thing is, they used to be really hard to come across.  I can remember a time when I would only occasionally find a bag at some random gas station and it would be cause for a serious celebration.  Now they're everywhere!  I can't walk into a WalMart without being confronted with regular sized bags, big bags and bowl sized bags. 

What makes them so wonderful?  What makes them better than Reece's Pieces?  They're bigger.  I love Reece's Pieces, but they're small, like Smarties, so you can throw a whole handful in your mouth at a time.  With the M&Ms, you have to savour them.  Sometimes I just crunch them one at a time, sometimes I break off the candy shell and let the peanut butter melt.  My favourite thing to do with them though is to eat them with popcorn.  An M&M paired with a little handful of movie popcorn?  Heaven.

I almost wish they were hard to find again.  They're just so darn tempting.  I never seem to see any advertising for them though.  Have you?  Do you remember a time when they were a rarity in the chocolate world?

(P.S. - in the same vein, Smarties are vastly superior to Plain M&Ms.  Plain M&Ms are the worst.  To any American readers who don't have Smarties, I highly recommend you find a box of them the next time you're in the Great White North.)

Friday, 14 October 2011

Vivian Vendredi - Look Who's Walking

Well, at 10 months old, Vivian has started to walk.  It started slowly - just moving from the couch to something close-by, but she's definitely started venturing farther and farther away.  The other day I watched her walk down the hall while just lightly draggin her hand along for balance.  A lot of people have asked me if it makes me sad to see her growing up so quickly, but I feel like I'm the only parent who doesn't wish for their baby to go back to being a tiny newborn.  I love watching her learn and grow and become more independent, because that's what she wants.

In case you aren't friends with me on Facebook, here's a video of her taking a few steps.  She's definitely done better, but it's hard to capture her on camera!

Of course now that she's walking and the fall weather is upon us, it was time for a pair of real shoes.  Vivian's Grammy took her shopping for the most adorable pair of Adidas ever.

They came in the most impossibly tiny and adorable shoe box ever.

She won't walk in the shoes yet, she gets too distracted by the velcro.  But I'm sure it won't be long before she's running around the arena like a maniac.

You never know what this kid will do next.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

If the dishwasher isn't going to work anyway, it might as well do something useful

Our dishwasher broke last January.  We paid to have it fixed, and it worked great for another 2 weeks before breaking again.  We haven't bothered to fix it again, because at this point we had might as well just buy a new one.  So since this one wasn't doing anything, and Vivian insists on being in the kitchen with me, I decided to turn it into a little area for her to play.

I pulled out my trusty chalkboard paint and painted the side of it so she would have a nice magnetic chalkboard surface.  Throw in a $2 bag of fridge magnets and she has a place to play that isn't the fridge.  It's great having magnets on the fridge for kids to play with, but then they're always in your way when you're trying to cook.  This way she can play and I can actually get things done!

And yes, there was only one "V" in the bag of magnets, so I improvized and used a 7.  I'm clever like that.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Light Switcheroo

So last summer we had our living room painted.  I hated the light fixture at our front door, and knew I wanted it replaced, so I took it down enough to be fully painted around so I wouldn't have to touch it up after I got a new light.

It hung there until last week.

Sad, sad, sad.

The long story is that I spent over an hour one day trying to switch it out with a new cheapo light that I bought.  Of course the old bracket wouldn't fit the new light, and I didn't have any drill bits to put in a new bracket, so we just had nothing there for awhile. 

I got sick enough of it that I decided to take the easier route - spray paint the old brass fixture, buy a new shade for it and call it a day.

Quite the improvement, if I do say so myself.  The old shade was a horrible frosted frilly thing.  But now with the black spray paint and seeded glass shade, it's pretty presentable.

Not too shabby for a $7 shade replacement and a $6 can of spray paint.

And I successfully put it all back together without electrocuting myself, so there's that.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Vivian Vendredi - One Sensational Baby?

Let's do a quick recap, shall we?  Vivian is 10 months old.  In that time, she has slept through the night once, which was a total fluke at like 3 months old.  Since then, we have switched from breastfeeding to formula feeding, started giving her probiotics with every bottle, allowed her to self-feed because she wouldn't tolerate pureed foods, started taking her to a homeopath which has resulted in her receiving her remedy daily, taken her to a chiropractor, used aromatherapy in her room through Scentsy products, and tried basically every possible method of getting her to sleep on a regular basis.  So far, we are still varying wildly between good nights (usually going to bed at about 7:30, waking up at 11ish, then again at about 4ish, then up for the day at around 7:30-8:00) and bad nights (usually going to bed at about 7:30, waking up at 11ish, 1ish, 3ish, 5ish and then up for the day at about 8:00) with seemingly no reason for the switch.

So here we are.  Ten months later and I still don't get a full night's sleep.  I'm so used to it by now, that if I sleep for more than 3 hours at a time, I wake up anyway and feel totally achy because I'm not used to it.  I remember distinctly a couple of months ago realizing that I dreamed one night for the first time in months because I had finally gotten a deep enough sleep.  This wouldn't be a problem, except that I do have to go back to work fairly soon.

So here's my new thought - maybe Vivian has sensory issues.

It's been something in the back of my mind for a while, but it really hit me this week.  I was noticing how much Vivian enjoys getting herself into corners and small spaces - she loves to crawl under tables and chairs.  She also really likes crawling between me and the couch, like it's a little tunnel when I'm sitting on the floor with my back against the couch.  Because on of my mom's foster kids requires deep pressure therapy, I knew that those traits could mean that Vivian needs the same.

I did a little Google researching and came across a few checklists for children with sensory disorders.  Now, I think it's way too soon to start looking at getting a diagnosis, but she definitely did check a lot of boxes on the checklist.  Arching her back, resisting being cuddled, constantly moving, requiring strong rocking, distaste for baby swings and jumpers, inability to control her thirst (alternating between constantly drinking water and not drinking at all), difficulty managing car rides, walking on her tiptoes, fear of loud noises like the vacuum, sitting with her legs in a W position, no predictable sleep schedule, difficulty calming oneself, preferring hugs over went on and on.  Yes, I think a lot of these are things that anyone could say "yes" to, and it wouldn't necessarily mean that there's anything wrong with them, but I think it's worth investigating.

So, here's what my plan is now.  Number one on the list is to get her a weighted blanket.  Having more pressure on her while she sleeps (not like putting a dictionary on her back or anything, just the feeling of being buried under a bunch of blankets without the heat of it) is maybe just what she needs to get her to sleep in longer stretches.  I'm currently trying to find someone who could help me make one without it costing an arm and a leg (I've gotten quotes from some places for $80+ for a crib-sized weighted blanket).  I'm also trying to find fun sensory games and toys for her.  I pulled out her IKEA tent that I bought to go to the beach and have it set up in the living room.  She loves going in there with toys, and really loves when I touch her through the walls of the tent.  I also want to get her a water table and set it up with different things like dry pasta for her to dig into and play with.

Who knows, I could be way off base and she may not have sensory issues, or it may be something that she grows out of, I don't know.  But if getting her a heavy blanket is something she needs to help her, then that's what is going to happen.

If anyone has any experience with stuff like this, or is/knows an occupational therapist who has any ideas, let me know!

Playing in her tent

I will figure her out if it kills me.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Patio Furniture

Ever since we moved in here, we've needed patio furniture.  Any time we've eaten outside with friends, it has been over a coffee table that I've dragged out of the basement.

Well look what I dragged home today.

Not bad for dragging it off the side of the road, right?

I noticed it sitting out a few days ago, and when it was still sitting there today, I took action.  It took me three trips to do it, but I managed to bring it all home.

It's perfect timing since we are having Thanksgiving dinner here on Monday and the weather is supposed to be beautiful.  Hooray!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Fall TV First Impressions

Here are my thoughts on all those new TV shows.  I try to give a show two episodes after the pilot before I make a final decision.  I haven't gotten there on all of these yet, but I thought I would share my initial thoughts!

Pan Am - I liked the second episode better than the pilot.  I'm not totally in love with this show, but it has me interested enough to keep watching.  I don't like Laura, the main girl, and would prefer to see more of Christina Ricci.  Let's hope this show "takes off".  Hahahaha.

2 Broke Girls - I found the pilot episode pretty meh, if only because it was really Joke!  Joke!  Joke!  But, that's a pilot episode for you.  The second episode was a bit better, but still pretty jokey.  I love Kat Dennings though, so I'll keep watching for sure.

The Playboy Club - I'm so frustrated by this show.  I really want to like it, but I haven't quite signed on yet.  It's the kind of show that I can watch while giving 60% of my attention to Pinterest at the same time.  The way the character of Carol-Lynne talks drives me crazy.  She seems to add an extra little "heh" all the time.  Drives me nuts.  Since I wrote this, it's been cancelled.  Can't say I'm too upset.

Ringer - I tried with this show, I really did.  I gave it three episodes, but I'm out.  It just didn't grab me, and I felt like I could see the plot twists coming.  It's not a bad show, it's just not for me.  (Although that boat scene in the pilot episode was pretty much the most brutal thing ever.)

New Girl - Love it.  All the reviews of this episode seem to say that to like this show you have to already be charmed by Zooey Deschanel and I am definitely in that club.  She's adorable and hilarious, and I love this show.

Up All Night - Love, love it.  This show is just right up my alley right now.  There was a comment on last week's episode about "sweatpants purgatory" that totally connected with me.  Plus, Jason Lee is going to be joining the cast, and I adore Jason Lee.

Free Agents - This show is really only okay, but it benefits from a good timeslot for me.  It's not great, and it's not terrible, it's just sort of there.  I don't mind it, but I definitely wouldn't be upset if it were cancelled.

Revenge - Holy crap.  I am loving this show.  It was barely even on my radar before it premiered, but I'm so glad I gave it a chance.  It's a great nighttime soap, full of intrigue and scandal.  I'm really enjoying it, and it's definitely become something I look forward to every week.  Also, they've said that all the questions in the pilot will be answered by episode 13, and then new plots of revenge will take centre stage.  I love a show with a plan.  Plus, it's set in the Hamptons, and I could pretty much just watch it for the houses.

Charlie's Angels - Full disclosure - I only watched the pilot.  I spent the first 10 minutes of the pilot wondering what the heck Catalina from My Name is Earl was doing on the show and where Minka Kelly was.  Didn't love it, didn't capture me.  It was goofy and hokey, but not in that really over the top awesome kind of way.  It's been removed from the DVR schedule.

Person of Interest - Loved the pilot.  It definitely caught my interest, and is well-styled.  The second episode was a little slower, but I'm in this one for the long haul.

Whitney - Oh, Whitney.  The pilot episode was so cheesy, so typical.  I was predicting jokes.  I'm still watching it, hoping it will get better (and also because it has a really convenient timeslot) but I'm not liking it.  I don't like the whole "She's so kooky!  She says inappropriate things!  She wanted to wear a hoodie to a wedding!  What a kook!" deal.

Prime Suspect - I'm not big on police procedurals, but this one does intrigue me.  Maria Bello is awesome in the role, but I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with this one.  I can kind of see this one getting piled up on my DVR before I just give up on it.

A Gifted Man - I'm actually enjoying this one, despite it having a pretty lame premise.  I will fully admit that the appeal of this show is 40% based on the timeslot (not too much else on on Fridays, just Fringe) and 60% based on the fact that I have a crush on Patrick Wilson.  He's just so darn handsome.

Terra Nova - I've only watched the first hour, but I really enjoyed it.  The effects were pretty impressive for TV, and I liked all the characters.  I'm anxious to watch the other two hours waiting on my DVR for me!

Suburgatory - I really, really enjoyed the pilot.  I wasn't expecting to like this one, but I found it really clever and funny.  Cheryl Hines is awesome in it, and it's the perfect show to lead in on Wednesdays before Modern Family.

How to be a Gentleman - Didn't even get through the pilot episode.  It was just terrible.

Still to come - Grimm and Once Upon a Time

Monday, 3 October 2011

Ashlie Mix #5.1

I have no idea why this is 5.1 and not 6.  For some reason, they came in a set.

Third Eye Blind - "Losing a Whole Year"

Head Down - "Waiting"

Deftones - "Change (In the House of Flies)"

A Perfect Circle - "People are People"

Elliott - "Calm Americans"

Weezer - "The World has Turned and Left Me Here"

Rainer Maria - "Ceremony"

Death Cab for Cutie - "Crooked Teeth"

Queens of the Stone Age - "In the Fade"

Don Ross - "Michael, Michael, Michael"

Junior Boys - "Double Shadow"

Coheed & Cambria - "Delirium Trigger"

Reset - "Let me go"

Fleetwood Mac - "Landslide"

The Rentals - "Friends of P"

Alice in Chains - "Nutshell"

Say Anything - "Alive with the Glory of Love"

Mates of State - "La'hov"

Panic!  At the Disco - "But it's better if you do"

Propagandhi - "Ska sucks!"