Monday, 30 December 2013

Treats of the Week - Anyone know where the last week went?

Well, if you're anything like me your days are completely mixed up, you've eaten entirely too much food, your house is in a constant state of disaster and you're in that special stressy spot that comes with paying post-Christmas bills.  Christmas was pretty great with Vivian this year, but the last couple of days have been filled with the stress of a locked-out bank account (finally sorted out today), and what is probably a cracked rib from too much coughing (there isn't supposed to be sharp, stabbing pain in your side when you cough or sneeze, right?) anyway, here are the bright spots to close out 2013!

  • I gave my friend Dan some tips on Boxing Day shopping to help him out with a story in the London Free Press.  I didn't think much of it - just passing on some info to help out a friend.  Apparently everyone in my family and everyone who knows my mother still reads the newspaper though, since I was inundated with congratulations and my mom yelling at me for not telling her about it.  You can find it here - but I assure you, it isn't a big deal.  If I had had my shit together I would have had some more blog posts last week to make use of the extra traffic, but oh well.
  • I didn't really do much Boxing Day shopping though (the whole locked bank account thing kind of put a damper on things) but I did score some Christmas wrapping paper for next year at Target, as well as a couple of $5 t-shirts.  
  • Vivian did really well on Christmas - I think she only had one tiny meltdown on Christmas Eve.  It's strange to say, but it's really nice not to yell at kids at Christmas.  It's a stressful time of year for everyone, but Vivian, Blair, and all my mom's kids did a really good job of keeping it together.
  • So far, the Christmas presents have all been hits.  You know how usually after Christmas there's that one gift that you got for a kid that ended up being kind of a dud?  It looks like that's been avoided so far.  Vivian has been really into all of her new stuff, which definitely makes it all worthwhile.

  • I was a humbug and took the tree down pretty much right away - I couldn't deal with the mess any longer.  It's so nice to get things rearranged and organized - some deals on storage containers at Canadian Tire have helped too!
  • My mom got me a bunch of Twisted Peppermint stuff from Bath and Bodyworks for Christmas - including the candle.  I'm not a big candle person, but this one smells so freaking good!  
  • There are "Best of 2013" lists everywhere - I love it.
  • A fridge full of holiday meal leftovers.
  • My mom and I took the kids to see Frozen again (it was Vivian's third time seeing it) and she was completely into the movie the whole time.  No squirming, no whining, no talking.  She was IN IT.  As soon as she woke up this morning she was asking to see Frozen again, so we might have to see it once more tomorrow for a New Year's Eve treat.  They had better release that one on DVD soon.  Oh, I also managed to catch the Rapunzel cameo in Frozen this time - you can check it out here if you missed it.
I sincerely hope that 2013 brought all good things to you.  And if it was less than ideal, then I hope that 2014 will be better!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Treats of the Week - Almost Time

Happy Christmas Eve-Eve!  I hope everyone is ready to enjoy the holidays and gets to spend some time with their families!

  • I'm done work until January 2nd and I'm SO GLAD.  Things worked out really well for me that I was off work for 3 weeks with the surgery, then back to work for 3 weeks, and now off again for the holidays.  I've been fighting a ridiculous cold for the last couple of weeks though so I'm definitely glad to have some time to just sit around and relax.  Maybe I'll even be able to get rid of this cough if I'm lucky.
  • I saw American Hustle on the weekend, which was pretty damn awesome.  It's one of those movies that has a whole bunch of people in it that you don't realize from the initial trailers.  Amy Adams' sideboob totally deserves an Oscar.
  • The Early Bird is one of the yummiest places in all of London - I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch there on Saturday!  A Double Ducker Sandwich with Poutine, can't ask for much more.

  • I have come to the point where I'm just deciding that it's time for Christmas.  No more stressing, no more shopping.  I'm outta time and money, which means it's time for Christmas!  There was one last thing that I wanted to try and pick up for someone, but I wasn't able to find it in town so they're getting a, "Hey, I couldn't find this thing, so I'll just give it to you later." I'm at that point.
  • This week's episode of SNL with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake will be living on my PVR for the foreseeable future.  I loved the episode - it was so great!  I'm mad though, something happened to my feed so I ended up missing the first part of the "Baby, It's Cold Outside" sketch.  Boo.
  • I've already been soundly spoiled for Christmas this year - but I'll do another post on that later.
  • Is there a better ego boost out there then getting a great new profile picture?  No, there is not.
If you're celebrating something over the course of the next week, I hope you have a wonderful time!  And even if you're not celebrating anything, I hope that you can still enjoy the statutory holidays!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

What will be under the tree for Miss V, and some other stuff

Holy cow, somehow it's almost Christmas!  I did pretty well again this year by picking up things over the last few months and just tucking them away (mostly stocking stuff, her stocking is out of control this year!) so I didn't have too much of a last-minute shopping panic when it came to Vivian stuff.  She's still in a ridiculously easy phase - she just likes everything.  Plus, she hasn't really grasped the whole concept of Christmas yet, so her demands were easy to keep in check.  Here's a little rundown of the main stuff that will be waiting for Miss Vivian on Christmas morning.

(I just linked to Amazon for the most part because it's easy.)

The only thing that she actually asked Santa for?

Clawdeen Wolf.  Vivian is super into Barbies and Princesses, and is just starting to get really into My Little Pony (a couple of ponies might have found their way into her stocking) and she's just on the verge of liking Monster High.  For whatever reason, she really likes Clawdeen.  She always talks about how she's a wolf and has ears.  If you ask her what Santa is bringing her, this is what she says.

However, Mommy has asked that Santa bring her these,

She's been getting pretty into the whole idea of baby dolls lately, so her big Santa present is this high chair and doll bed, along with a Cabbage Patch baby doll and a little diaper bag of accessories.  I actually found these two Melissa & Doug pieces at a Winners for an awesome price ($44 each!) so I couldn't resist!  They're awesome quality so they'll definitely be a toy that will be around for the long haul.

This was supposed to be a birthday present, but when the dollhouse ended up coming for her birthday from Grandma, I thought it was best to hold off on this until Christmas.

I swear, I should just buy everything by Melissa & Doug.  My friend Amanda was getting one of these for her daughter and suggested I take a look at it as well.  I'm so glad she steered me to it, because it is AWESOME!  Again, it's wood so it will be around for a long time.  It's got loads of room for characters to move around in different rooms and it folds up so that it takes up (slightly) less space.  Even with it closed it still leaves a courtyard area in the middle though, so it's really versatile.  Vivian is really into smaller sized dolls (like the MagiClip princesses) so this fits them perfectly!  She also has a bunch of princess sets like these that will work well in it too.  (For some reason, they're kind of hard to find on Amazon.  You can find different sets at Walmart for like $15 each though - they're really great.)  It would work well with the Little People too.

There's a story in my family about how my brother Brent asked for a logging truck for Christmas one year, and that's all that he wanted from Santa.  Of course, this was in the late 80s or whatever, so it wasn't as easy as jumping on Amazon and having one delivered to your door a couple days later.  The logging truck proved to be quite elusive.  So when I saw this bad boy at a Winners, I knew I had to get it for Vivian.

Bruder is a great line of trucks - really great quality.  They're usually stupidly expensive too - I think at Mastermind they're like $70 each.  I found this at Winners for $30.  Who says the princesses can't go for a ride in a truck sometimes?

Last year I talked about getting Vivian a Busy Book and it's proved to be awesome for her.  Phidal books has a huge range of interactive books that work really well for Vivian.  She still has a hard time sitting still for a whole story, but she can really focus on something different like the characters in the busy books, or the magnets in the bubble magnet books.  They seem to be everywhere now too - I've seen them at Chapters, Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, but I still like Winners the best.  I got her a few different ones, and seem to find them at Winners for like $8 each.

I think that this year Vivian might be old enough to start getting into Playmobil.  A few months ago, Mastermind Toys had an awesome promotion on Playmobil stuff where you basically got $40 of free stuff for spending $60.  I stocked up on a bunch of these travel case sets to kind of get her introduced to things, and then I got a bigger pony farm set.  So she will be getting a nice variety - a school set, a fairy set, a pony set, plus she got the Christmas set earlier to get her pumped for Christmas.  I really love the hotel that they have now, and I love how it's so easy to build and expand on everything.  

Beyond that it's a lot of more generic stuff - Play-Doh, a Barbie, some puzzles, books, stuff like that.  I also wanted to share a couple of other toys that I love just in case you were still looking for something for a little one on your list!

Vivian is really into the princesses and Barbies, but she also really likes Lottie dolls.  I love them too - they're smaller than a Barbie doll because they're supposed to be a child.  Because of that, they also have more of a child's physique.  The clothes are really great - instead of being that really coarse, cheap feeling fabric like most dolls, they have soft clothes with a lot of great textures.  Vivian has two - this ballerina one, and a music festival one (who has a furry little vest, it's adorable).  They have really soft hair too - not the kind that becomes a knotted mess immediately.  They have a nice range of dolls too, not just the typical roles.  There's a karate doll, a robot girl, equestrian, lighthouse keeper, some really cute, different stuff.  They also come in a really cute box that hardly even needs to be gift wrapped.  I have gotten Vivian's from Mastermind - they make awesome little gifts!

This is my new favourite gift idea for kids, so I had to share.  You know how you always see those big cardbord castles and playhouses that you put together and then kids can decorate them?  And you think, "Oh yeah, that's cool.  It's pretty cheap too, I bet the kids would love that.  But ugh, then what am I going to do with it?  The stupid thing is huge, and they're probably just going to tear it apart."  Enter the Miniature House.

It's super cute, super cheap (under $10), and is small enough that you can shove it under a bed or in a close when the kids aren't playing with it.  I got one for Vivian in the summer and she thought it was awesome putting it all together and then taking her time painting and colouring it.  Once she was satisfied with the decorating, it became a fun house for her dolls to play in.  It was lots of fun, and then when it starting looking a little beat up I didn't have any hard feelings with chucking it in the recycling bin.  It makes for a super easy gift too - just grab a house (they're flat-packed so they're easy to wrap) and some art supplies (which are clearly sold separately) and you've got a nice little present for someone.  I thought it would even be fun to decorate them for the different seasons - you could do a haunted house at Halloween or a cardboard gingerbread house at Christmas.

That's the main stuff that will be taking over my house by this time next week.  Let me know if you have any other suggestions - even though I really don't need to buy anything else!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Treats of the Week - The Christmas Tree and stuff...

I have been slowly dying of a cough for the last five days or so, but here's my best attempt at coherent thoughts.

  • Got the Christmas tree up - in all of its tacky, ball-filled glory.  Vivian was deeply interested for about 10 minutes, followed by complete and utter disinterest.

  • I finished wrapping my Christmas presents and put in my final Amazon order over the weekend.  Just need a few more gift cards and I'm done!
  • I went to see Dallas Buyers Club on the weekend and it was really fantastic, definitely recommend.  Being in the company of some awesome ladies made it all the better!
  • And I FINALLY got to make my first Victoria's Secret purchase!  Divine!
  • I had my 6 week follow-up with the surgeon and have been given the go-ahead to lift things again.  This is a good and bad thing.
  • While wandering around Chapters (technically, the new Indigo in London, which is complete chaos) I was stopped in my tracks by this little book cover.

  • I was coughing so badly in court today that a defendant came up at a recess to give me a mint.  I'm pretty pathetic these days.
  • Vivian has been pretty into My Little Pony these days, and I have to say I don't really mind snuggling in bed and watching an episode or two with her before bedtime.
  • I tried McDonalds poutine, which basically tastes like self-loathing.  For reals though, it isn't bad, it's just that the fries aren't quite sturdy enough to hold up to the gravy/cheese curd weight.
  • Watching Sherlock and eating white cheddar popcorn.
  • Having someone make you soup when you feel like a pile of garbage.
  • I came across this flamingo Christmas lawn ornament at Canadian Tire, so it's pretty safe to say I'm going to be stalking it come the Boxing Day sales.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Outfit of the Day (and Night)

I'm not really one for cute pajamas - I'm more of a sloppy t-shirt and giant jogging pants kind of person.  But when my surgery was scheduled I figured I would be spending a lot of time in pajamas so I had might as well get some cute ones.  I also wanted to make sure that my PJs would be easy to access for bandage changing purposes.  I had originally wanted some old man style button-down pajamas, but ended up not being able to find any that I liked that weren't crazy expensive.  While shopping with my friend Jeannette she found these nightshirts at Target and they are so awesome that I had to tell everyone!  I've talked my friend Amanda into getting some too - I'm starting a revolution.

So they're nothing fancy, but they're super comfortable and they were nice enough that I felt dressed when company would come to visit, instead of just slobbing around in random clothes.  They are even nice enough that I've ventured out to the store in them before.  Not that I have any qualms about going out in my usual sloppy stuff, but I feel like when I'm out in these pajamas you can't really tell that they're pajamas.  I got this plaid one and another one with birds on it, which Vivian thinks is pretty funny.

The nightshirts aren't super long, which I love.  I was worried that a nightshirt would end up being more like a nightgown, but these are kind of tunic length.  I got some cheap pairs of leggings to wear with them and they're awesome.  It's super comfortable, and nice and warm.  The sleeves are easy to roll up or down if I need to as well.  I'm excited to have them for Christmas morning too, yay for cute Christmas pictures!

Nightshirt - Target
Leggings - Joe Fresh
Slippers - Sorel

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

What's the deal with this Elf on the Shelf?

I'm sure by this point most people know about The Elf on the Shelf.  If you don't know exactly what it is, I'm quite sure that you've seen someone posting about it on Facebook.  It's a holiday tradition that seems to have really caught fire in the last few years.  Basically you have this Elf who hangs out on a shelf or wherever else and can report to Santa each night.  So you put the Elf somewhere different while the kids are asleep and it turns into a big game in the morning to find the Elf.  It's cute, it's fun, kids lose their shit over it.

So this is our first year with our sad little nameless Elf (Vivian hasn't quite caught on to the concept of naming him yet).  And I've been getting away with being pretty lazy with him.  See, the kind of unwritten law of the Elf on the Shelf is to pose him in increasingly elaborate situations.  For reals - jump onto Google or Pinterest real quick and see what some other people do.  Marshmallow snowball fights, snow angels in flour on the kitchen counter, baths in the sink - it can get intense.  Don't get me wrong - that's all awesome.  Kids go crazy for elaborate setups like that.  

I get off easy this year.  Vivian has no benchmark for this whole Elf on the Shelf thing.  So she thinks it's pretty hilarious when the Elf does basic things like this...

She doesn't realize that there are some people who have an Elf who will gift wrap the toilet.  Seriously.  There are people who have done that.

Like I said, that's all awesome.  I'm sure next year I'll have to step up my Elf game.  But here's my question - what do you do with these elaborate setups?  I mean, part of the Elf's story is that you're not supposed to touch him or his magic will go or something.  So do you have to leave these setups out all day long?  What if you need to use your counter or whatever?  Doesn't your kid lose it if you try to move the Elf?  Or do you wait until they've left for school/daycare and hope that they forgot about it by the end of the day?  This is a legitimate question.

So please, let me in on the secrets.  How do you have an elaborate Elf on the Shelf without it taking over a large section of your house?

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Very Vivian - Happy 3rd Birthday to Vivian!

Vivian turned 3 on Sunday and we had a great weekend!  She's such a funny little girl, it was awesome to have such a fun weekend all focused around her.

On Saturday we headed out to see Dora in Sarnia.  A thrill for the parents, let me tell you.  But the kids had a blast - Vivian was pretty pumped since her Elf brought her a little Dora doll that morning to take to the show and she got a new Dora shirt to wear.  She had a lot of static cling to deal with though!

Since the Dora show was really her party, we kept her actual birthday pretty low-key.  That day my mom had rented the gym at an arena so that the kids could just run around and play.  We did this a couple times last winter and it works out really well.  A couple hours in a big open gymnasium where kids can just run wild and be as loud as they want to be can do wonders on those cold winter days!  The kids got to run wild and then went out for public skating before heading back for some cake at Grandma's house. 

Present-wise, the big hits were Play-Doh (I don't know why I bother to buy her anything else, this kid is crazy for Play-Doh) and the dollhouse.

Instead of Santa bringing her a dollhouse like I had originally planned, Grandma ended up getting her one for her birthday.  We went with the KidKraft Magnolia Mansion from Costco and Vivian loves it!  I'm super happy with the quality of it - she'll be playing with it for years!

Of course she was completely spoiled by everyone.  Her birthday felt like a practice run for Christmas, she had so much to open!  But how can you not spoil a sweet face like this?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Treats of the Week - Closing in on Christmas

Now that Vivian's birthday is over, Christmas is in full swing around here!  I'll do a post about how Vivian's birthday went at some point this week.  Until then, here are some treats!

  • I've maxed out on my EI and CPP contributions, which means there's been a little extra on my pay cheque lately.  Not a whole lot, but it's nice this time of year.  I like to joke that it's the only bonus I get at Christmas!
  • We put up the tree at my mom's place yesterday, which is always fun.  It was even more fun this year though since there were two little kids (B and A) there who have never had a Christmas tree before.  They are going to lose their little minds on Christmas day, I can't wait!
  • I've gotten a head start on wrapping presents - not much, but it's something!  I've gotten Vivian's stocking all wrapped up.  I always insist on everything being wrapped in a stocking!
  • This week's episode of Scandal was so crazy town bananas I can't even get over it!  My jaw was hanging open before the credits had even finished rolling!
  • Vivian has been in skating lessons and she's doing so well!  Hopefully in a couple of years she'll be on the ice playing hockey, ringette, or doing figure skating!
  • We had the first shrimp ring of the holiday season at my mom's yesterday, and now I basically want to have one at every meal.
  • Burger King poutine, especially when it's brought to me so I don't have to leave my couch.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Before and Afters

Can I just say that this whole surgery thing has resulted in some of the strangest social interactions of my life?  I know people mean the best, but it's so weird right now.  People will see me and if I'm wearing a coat or a hoodie or something I basically feel obligated to pull it back so people can get a good look.  People say, "You look great!" which is awesome, but I know what they really mean is, "Hey your boobs look great!" It's all super nice, don't get me wrong - just also super awkward.  A friend of mine at work said I should just wear tight shirts for the next couple of weeks to just get it over with, which is probably good advice.

I know people are curious, so I threw together a few before and after shots.  I actually took a lot of before shots, but now I've been too lazy to take many afters.  It's been fun seeing how things fit me now.  I actually expected to have to get rid of a lot of clothes, but things just fit me differently now.  They fit me correctly now.  It's amazing to think of how uncomfortable I used to be, and I just took it for granted.  I'm definitely enjoying how things are looking now - although I know that I need to improve my posture.  A lifetime of slouching is a hard habit to break!

Befores are on the top, afters are on the bottom!

That's about 4 pounds of difference there.  You can't really tell in these pictures, but my favourite part is that I actually have a flat area for necklaces now.  Seems weird, but before I basically had cleavage up to my collarbone, which isn't exactly the best for a fun chunky necklace.

I haven't gone out shopping for anything new yet, but I'm anxious to see what I can wear now!

Monday, 2 December 2013

Treats of the Week - December has arrived

Today was my first day back to work, and hopefully also the first day of really being back to the blog.  I'm feeling better, so hopefully things start falling back into the old routine!  Here are some treats!

  • Mom and I took the kids to see Frozen yesterday and it was awesome!  The kids loved it - I couldn't believe how good they all were through the whole thing.  The animation was beautifully done, and I really liked how they gave the whole "true love" idea a bit of a twist at the end.  Now Vivian is obsessed with it, so that changes up the wish list for her birthday and Christmas!
  • I watched the new Sarah Silverman HBO special and it was delightfully inappropriate.
  • Having some of my mom's homemade soup for lunch on my first day back to work.
  • I went to a trivia night at a friend's place on Friday and it was so much fun!  We played 80s trivia, which was a little hard for this poor little '82 baby.
  • My friend Amanda and I had a chance to get together while I was still off work.  Our girls are the same age and are playing really well together right now, so it was so nice to just let them play while we got to sit and visit!
  • Santa dropped off an Elf on the Shelf for Vivian on the weekend.  She thinks it's pretty funny so far, although I don't know how much she understands it.  We still haven't gotten around to naming him yet, and I'm already getting tired at the thought of having to find a place to put him every day.  But hey - that's what we do for kids at Christmas.

  • Also hanging out in that picture with the Elf is "The Blondes" by Emily Schultz.  It was a book club pick, and I'm so sorry that I missed the meeting to discuss it because I really, really loved the book!  Unfortunately I had a sick Vivian to deal with, so there was no meeting for me.  I would highly recommend the book though!