DIY Day: Wooden Centerpiece Stand

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I’d seen these acacia wood servers and pedestals and I really wanted one but they are more than I wanted to spend. Instead I bought this ~country round~ at Michaels and put a couple coats of polyurethane on it, and I think it has the same vibe at roughly half the cost. The round cost me $12.50 (it was $25 but I had a 50% off coupon) and while I already had polyurethane from my furniture refinishing adventures, buying a small can is pretty cheap and useful if, like me, you want to make more of these stands. It is the most centerpiece-y time of the year, after all!
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Supplies:
• unfinished wood round with bark, available at craft stores or on amazon
• clear finish polyurethane
• paint brush
• blocks
• newspaper

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Instructions:
1. Use a dry brush to knock off any loose bits of bark & dust on the outer edge of the round.
2. Place the round flat on the blocks over newspaper to protect your work surface. Coat the bark edge ONLY with polyurethane and allow to dry. Apply a second coat and allow to dry.
3. Coat one side of the round with polyurethane and allow to dry. Apply a second coat and allow to dry.
4. Turn the round over and coat the other side with polyurethane and allow to dry. Apply a second coat and allow to dry.

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Be sure to follow the instructions & drying times on the polyurethane; I used a water-based interior Varathane that takes several hours to dry so I’d do one coat in the morning and a second in the afternoon, then leave the round to dry overnight before turning it over.

Once dry you can use your centerpiece stand to display ornaments, greenery, cornucopias, bowls of pine cones, or whatever decor items you fancy. Do not place food directly on the surface of the stand.

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November 23rd

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First of all, thank you to everyone who reached out to me re: Gwen’s speech delay. y’all are the best. I was able to speak to the woman in charge of the speech pathology department at the health center and get everything sort of sorted out? Part of the reason it was so hard to get any info is because I couldn’t remember the name of the speech pathologist we’d been assigned to (I was given the info when I was at the playground so I had nowhere to write it down) but as it turns out, she doesn’t work there anymore! They’ve hired a new SP who will be taking over all the old SP’s cases, but she’s not starting until December 9th, at which point the assessment appointment will be scheduled. Gwen is 10th on her list for assessment so it’ll probably be another 6 weeks until we have our appointment, but at least now I know..
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YOU LEFT ME ALL ALONE (for 30 minutes with two other dogs for company).
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HOW COULD YOU??? ps it turns out dogs are as obsessed with us as we are with them. Maybe even more! Science!

This morning Gwen really wanted to take her sleep sheep out of her crib but it’s a pain to get the velcros done up around the bars so instead I got out the mini travel-sized sleep sheep for her to carry around. I didn’t think it had batteries in it still but it did, and Gwen put on the whale sounds. That was the one we used to put on when she was a tiny baby, we used to call it space whales for some reason? The combination of the space whale sounds + the Christmas smells and sights are giving me massive two-years-ago flashbacks.

Christmas smells: I added cranberries and cloves to my stovetop potpourri and it is like FULL HOLIDAY FRAGRANCE in here. Taylor says it smells like clove cigarettes but that’s also a good smell so idk what he’s complaining about.

Christmas sights: We put up the Christmas tree on Friday night. I KNOW I KNOW IT’S SO EARLY but it was a valid choice because a) I’m Canadian so our Thanksgiving was like a month and a half ago and b) we got a new tree that is prelit and we needed to test it to make sure the lights work and everything! We haven’t actually put the decorations on it yet though, I’m not a total philistine. I like to leave it up for a week or so with no decorations so any babies or toddlers who are around have time to get used to it, a technique I’ve honed over years of childcare and one that never failed me until last year, when Gwen revealed herself as an avid tree-undecorator. Hopefully this year she’ll be better?
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The prelit tree is the best and tbh idk why I never considered getting one before? It’s also self-shaping so instead of spending 50 hours fluffing out the branches and wrapping multiple light strands around it we just… put it up. I started up my holiday playlist while we were doing it and even though we moved it around the house a bunch to find the best spot we only made it through three songs, haha. We got this one, on sale from Canadian Tire. I hadn’t considered it initially (during my online pre-shopping) because I had my heart set on incandescent bulbs. I’ve had LED lights before that claimed to be “warm white” and were anything but, plus I’d read reviews of other prelit LED trees where the three sections all had different shades of white. However once Taylor and I checked the trees out in-store, this one was by far our favourite, both for the colour of the lights and also the branches- they are full, fairly realistic looking, with none of those long skinny-needle branches that we hated so much on my old tree, and a muted almost sage-y green shade that is really appealing.

I’m not really in full Christmas mode yet as I haven’t put my holiday playlist on since we put the tree up and I declined Taylor’s offer to buy mince pies this morning, but on Saturday I did pester Taylor and Sym into coming out with me & Gwen to Chapters to do a little gift shopping. I wanted to get a nice book of fairytales for Gwen, but there were two tales in particular I really wanted to have (as she has/is getting toys of these stories) and none of the books I liked the design/illustrations of had both (actually the one I REALLY liked the design of had no illustrations at all). In the end we bought her a bunch of individual one-story books, and then in my own typically ridic fashion I bought a bunch of Christmas stuff: a strand of battery-operated snowflake LED lights (similar to these but mine aren’t blue), two rolls of hipster giftwrap and a black bear ornament that Sym picked out.
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Stay tuned tomorrow for a how-to on the wooden stand pictured here.

November 21st

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The cutest thing that has ever happened. knit cushion, Ikea; knit & fleece throw, Canadian Tire (it’s priced at $26.29 online but I got it for $10 in the store).

It’s been a few months since the pediatrician referred Gwen to the speech therapist and we still don’t have an appointment. Like I know it takes a long time to have your appointment but they could at least schedule it! Today I tried calling the health center to see if I could find out how much longer it would be before our appointment was scheduled and all I learned is that it is impossible to get any information from them. When I called I got the switchboard, and the switchboard operator was like “I don’t have any access to that information so I’m going to transfer you to the front desk.” The lady at the front desk was like “I don’t have any access to that information so I’m going to transfer you to the switchboard.” I told the switchboard operator that the front desk lady had no info so she transferred me to the speech therapy department (idk why she didn’t do that in the first place?) and I was sent to a voicemail with a message that said “DO NOT LEAVE A MESSAGE, HANG UP AND CALL THIS OTHER NUMBER” so I hung up and called the other number only to be sent to another voicemail of someone who is only in the office 3 1/2 days a week – and today isn’t one of them. And all I’m trying to find out is how much longer it will be before Gwen’s appointment is scheduled! Ugh this is very frustrating, she’s made literally zero progress in the forming words department and at this rate when I take her back to the pediatrician for her follow up appointment we won’t have even seen the speech therapist yet!

Even though she can’t effectively communicate outside of *yells angrily* and *yells happily*, it’s amazing to see how Gwen is learning new skills and developing in every other way. She’s so smart and funny, the other night at dinner I made a stir fry with pearl onions and she stuck one on the end of her finger and shrieked “HA!” to get our attention so we could all share her silly onion joke.
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She loves brushing her teeth, reading The Dark by Lemony Snicket and watching Yo Gabba Gabba. She’s never really been into watching tv, like there have been times when I’ve needed to get something done so I’ve tried plunking her down in front of Netflix Kids but after about 3 minutes she loses interest and wanders off to make some mischief. Yo Gabba Gabba is the only thing she’ll sit through a whole episode of, so we watch one every day when I finish work and are both tired and frazzled.

She’s so crazily tall now that there isn’t any surface in the house that is safe from her. The only place where I could safely leave things out was the kitchen island, but she’s figured out how to climb up the stools to reach all the things I don’t want her to have, like my big leather shears and a box full of pins. I’ve been trying to be better about putting my things away when I’m done working on them but sometimes if it’s nighttime I’m just too tired and then in the morning I forget and she gets her little fingers on them. More than once she’s gotten ahold of stickers I’m working on and stuck them all over her pants. More than once she’s unspooled an entire spool of thread and become tangled in it.

She likes taking clothes off dolls and asking me to put the clothes back on them. Thankfully she only has a couple dolls with removeable clothes: her Roving Ovine doll has a skirt, and her Little Red Riding Hood (from Ikea; goes with the Big Bad Wolf & Grandma. Ikea has been KILLING IT is the soft toys department recently) has a cape, so it is off & on with the skirt and cape all day. I am not looking forward to the day when she figures out how to get the dress off her Hazel Village raccoon. She also likes to take her own clothes off, she’s in the toddler stage when clothes are for chumps and diapers are also possibly for chumps. She’ll run to her room and slam the door and when I go to check on her I find her perched on the polka dot pouf, happily nakie.

This week she’s developed the first gross cold of winter, with sneezing and a hideously runny nose. It’s supposed to rain most of the weekend so I’m looking forward to staying home with her for relaxing cozy time before I wage my CAMPAIGN OF INCESSANT CALLS to the health department next week. Once more into the fray of bureaucratic phone tag and all that. Wish me luck.

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November 17th

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In her custom bunny ears headband from Tiny Tangerines.
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Goat cheese & berry honey for lunch.
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Sweater, H&M (similar here); sweatpants, Gap (here).
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A blogger I follow posted a pic last week of orange peels and I was like “…this is a straight up photo of a compost bin” but then I read the post and she was like “simmer orange peels, cloves and cinnamon sticks in a little water to make your house smell nice all day!” and I have to say it is a brilliant tip, especially if you’ve just made stew and your house smells like onions and beef.

This weekend was quite busy and really exhausting, I feel like I could use another weekend to relax after this one. I started it off really great with flu shot on Friday morning for me & Gwen. I also learned that Gwen knows that going to the doctor most likely means a shot because while she was fine in the waiting room, she FREAKED OUT in the examination room, before the doctor even came in! She was fine again after the actual shot, that silly.

Friday night was Sym’s birthday slumber party, and although two of her guests cancelled at the last minute she had a really good time (I think? Taylor and I were banished from the living room). They stayed up literally all night, like I had to force them to bed at 8:30 on Saturday morning. TEENS, SHEESH. After they were asleep & Gwen had her breakfast Taylor and I took the dogs for a walk and then voted in the municipal election. This year they had it so you could vote at any polling station, which I think is SO GREAT. I remember the first election after I was eligible to vote I couldn’t because I lived downtown but worked at the very edge of the city (like literally, it was a warehouse on the riverbank that serves as the boundary between Vancouver and Richmond) and my polling station, which was by my house, didn’t open until after I left for work and closed before I got back. Also there’s been a few times when the polling station closest to my house wasn’t the one I was allowed to vote at, which seems dumb? Another time it was in a church hall that had NO wheelchair or stroller access like w t f. Most of those were probably federal or provincial elections but still, this vote-anywhere-you-damn-please arrangement was great. I’m also glad we went early in the morning because apparently there were some long lines later in the afternoon, as well as waits to get more ballots brought in at places that ran out.

After voting I had to run out and get some supplies to make a rush order banner, which I made and shipped as soon as I got back from the store. I normally don’t work on banner orders on the weekend and probably should have just told the person that I couldn’t make the banner they wanted in time for their event but I hate disappointing people (and I also like money). After all the rushing around I spent some quality time being suuuuuuuper lazy all afternoon. At five I had a hair appointment and once I got back Taylor and I put Gwen to bed and then we basically watched Sailor Moon and Friends until we fell asleep on the couch.

Sunday I had nothing I needed to do so we spontaneously decided to go to Ikea, which is always a really smart idea on the weekend. We wanted to look at dining room furniture, toys and the Christmas stuff. The Ikea nearest to our house has been on strike for like… ever but the strike finally ended a few weeks ago so we decided to go to that location and I think it was a bad idea. They are still on reduced hours for another month and stuff was kind of a mess? There were some things we wanted to get that we couldn’t find anywhere, and not a lot of staff around to ask for help. The internet is terrible there for some reason but after we left I checked the stock levels and all the things we couldn’t find they had TONS of, it just wasn’t out anywhere. Luckily a Sym’s dad is going to the other, less sloppy Ikea this weekend and he’s going to pick them up for me, and we did get some housewares we needed (like a new bathmat and a bowl to replace one I broke a couple months ago) and lots of toys, most of which I’m saving for Christmas because I’m very responsible.

Speaking of Christmas, I need to get a new tree this year and I’ve falling into a weird Christmas tree vortex. I found this one great looking tree and I was like OH YEAH THAT’S THE ONE FOR ME… but it’s $650 on sale. YEP NOPE obviously I’m not buying that one, but now I’m looking at all these other trees and thinking “hmmmm, $400, that’s a good price!” just because it’s less than $650. And I made the foolish mistake of looking at the 9-foot version of the $650 tree (which is 7.5′) and it’s like $1100 so then I start thinking $650 is reasonable… LOL THIS IS TERRIBLE. It’s like when I look at real estate listings and a 3 bedroom house in Vancouver is a million dollars so then I think a $700k one in North Van is reasonable and affordable. LOL NO, NO IT IS NOT. Anyway.

It’s been a while since I talked about the goals I’m working on this year, so here’s a quick update…

I am still putting my laundry away in a timely fashion instead of leaving piles of clean clothes everywhere.

I’m like 99% sticking to my no potato chips during the week and no pop except for on Thursdays rules. Sometimes I’ll slip up or make an exception but most of the time I’m good.

I failed at wearing sunscreen regularly enough to avoid getting a terrible shoe tan, and I also failed at going to the gym. It lasted a couple weeks but apparently I’m so decrepit I can’t even spend 30 minutes walking briskly on a treadmill without suffering shitty consequences like unbearable back pain and also hip pain? Both of which make walking basically impossible, and with my current job requirement of walking down and up a big hill four days a week I can’t go crippling myself at the gym. It sucks but oh well.

I am doing so well at growing my hair out. I didn’t get it cut at all for like nine months I think? Since around my birthday until just this weekend. I finally went in for a trim to fix up some of the unevenness of how it grew out and also to get bangs! I know what you are thinking: “Tanie, wasn’t it the terrible trial of growing out your last set of bangs that caused you to cut off all your hair and suffer through the last year and a half of growing it back out?” The answer is NO IT WAS NOT well actually only sort of. Partly it was the bangs but mostly it was the dark hair dye that I wanted to be rid of. My plan was always to cut my hair off, grow it out my natural colour and then get bangs again once it was long enough. Originally I was going to wait until it was to my shoulders before I got bangs but this weekend I was like ENOUGH OF THIS, IT’S TIME.

2014 Holiday Orders

Just a quick note to let everyone know this year’s deadlines for holiday orders from the shop.

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Depending on the volume of orders I get I am sometimes able to accommodate last minute requests but there are no guarantees that orders received after these cut off dates will arrive in a timely fashion. To avoid disappointment please place your orders sooner rather than later!

November 12th

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This post is kind of about work but only tangentially, really it is about a very sneaky toddler named Gwen and a very sneaky dog named Georgie.

Four days a week I drop a little girl off at kindergarten at the school down the hill (not the school across the street, which would be A LOT more convenient, but she doesn’t live in its catchment). Obviously I have to take Gwen and her lil friend as well, so I have a big yellow double stroller that I bundle them into for trips down and up the hill. The stroller lives outside my door, bike-locked to a ring I bolted to the side of the house, and when I take it out I have to first unlock it and then bump it up the seven steps to the backyard.

There are a few different options for when I take the stroller up and put the kids in it. I can put the kids in the stroller at my door and bump it up the stairs with them inside. I can bump it up the stairs empty and then bring the kids up and put them in, or I can bring the kids up first and then bump the empty stroller up after them. Option one is great for rainy days because I can put the kids in the stroller and get the raincover on it under shelter so no one gets wet (except for me). It’s not great for my back though, so usually I go with option two. Option three is only for days when I am stupid and hate myself and want to have a bad morning.

Today was one of those days.

I guess there is a polar vortex happening or something because it is freeeeeeezing cold outside. Every since Halloween it’s just been SO COLD. So for this morning’s trip down the hill I got everyone ready in hats and mitts and woolly socks and boots and puffy coats. Gwen has new mittens and she doesn’t really like wearing them so I made sure to put them on properly with her thumbs in the thumb pockets so she could hold her toy. Once everyone else was dressed I quickly ran to my room to get my own mittens, and when I came back out Gwen very proudly showed me how she’d taken off her mitts and unzipped her coat. Great! Good job! I had to take her coat off, put her mittens back on, then put her coat back on. I finished getting myself bundled and we were ready to go.

As soon as I opened the door all three kids bumbled outside, blocking me from getting the stroller up the stairs first. Rather than struggle to get them all back inside (herding toddlers is an exercise in frustration and futility) I figured I’d get them up the stairs first and then come back down to grab the stroller. Why? Why? Why did I decide this? This is the worst decision I have ever made in my life.

After helping the two be-mittened toddlers up the stairs I quickly ran back down for the stroller. I hadn’t even unlocked it when the kindergartener was like “Umm Tanie…. Gwen’s putting her mittens in the water.” What? WHAT???? Yes, Gwen had scamped across the yard to my neighbour’s little fountain water feature and was dipping both her mitten hands AND her toy into the freezing water. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY. I had to run and grab her before she soaked herself any further, at which point she became enraged and screamed and screamed and screamed. I quickly strapped her into the stroller and pulled off her cold wet mittens and retrieved her toy from the fountain, where it was draped head-down in the water like a little drowned murder victim.

You might be wondering what any of this has to do with Georgie. Well, on Wednesday mornings I’m home alone with Gwen. Taylor is still at work and Sym is at her dad’s, so I often don’t have a chance to take the dog out before Gwen wakes up and I start work. Normally I feel guilty about this, because if I don’t take her out early I usually can’t take her out until much later (like after the school run). Today though, I didn’t care because she peed and pooped in the dining room just before I got up. If you bathroom inside the house at 6am you don’t get a walk at 7am, dog. This was apparently not good enough for her and the whole time I was getting the kids ready she was hanging around the door, hoping to go outside. She must have still been there because when I opened it back up to chuck the wet mitts & toy inside she darted out and up the stairs.

She is not allowed to go outside like that without permission, WHICH SHE KNOWS, but she was in no mood to be obedient and wouldn’t come back in when I called her. I had to chase her and catch her and lock her in her crate while I ran around the house looking for alternate mitts for Gwen and alternate gloves for myself, since mine were now also wet from dealing with Gwen’s wet mitts. The alternate mitts & gloves kind of suck; Gwen’s are too big and it’s impossible to get her thumbs in the thumb pockets and have the mitts stay on her hands, and mine had a flippy top for the fingers but not for the thumbs (like my first-choice gloves have) so I couldn’t use my phone (to text Taylor about Gwen’s icy water adventures). This whole time I was dealing with the dog and searching for mitts Gwen was still howling in the stroller and when I went to put her new mitts on she fought me terribly. All this nonsense put us way behind schedule and when we finally left we only had seven minutes to get to the school before the bell so we had to haul ass down the hill. OH AND I HADN’T HAD ANY COFFEE YET.

I think we all learned a valuable lesson here, and the lesson is: take the stroller up the stairs before you bring the kids outside. Take the stroller up the stairs before you bring the kids outside. Take the stroller up the stairs before you bring the kids outside. Take the stroller up the stairs before you bring the kids outside. Take the stroller up the stairs before you bring the kids outside. Maybe if I repeat it enough times I’ll remember to actually do it.

November 10th

On Saturday afternoon we had family over for a little birthday party for the girls. It was really nice to see everyone who came (and hear from the people who weren’t able to be there). Both Sym and Gwen received tons of wonderful gifts and idk if this is smug but I KILLED IT with gift-getting this year. For Gwen Taylor and I picked out a Mini Micro Scooter, which she understood right away. She hopped on and after a few minutes she had already figured out the scooting basics. We still need to get her a helmet so she can use it outside but for now there’s plenty of linoleum for her to scoot around on in here (and being in a basement apartment there’s no downstairs neighbours to bother with the noise). For Sym we got a pair of tickets to see her favourite band, 5 Seconds of Summer, and I swear she just about fainted when she realized what she was holding.

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Birthday girls.
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In keeping with my tradition, we took almost no pics of the party.
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Taylor’s giant dad and my tiny mom (she’s actually average height).
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The kitty cat princess and her noble steed.
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First brunch as a two-year-old.

When Gwen was born Taylor treated himself to a fancy bottle of expensive scotch, which he only drinks on her birthday. I figured I should also treat myself this year so I picked up a bottle of champagne to have on Saturday night but the thing about champagne is once you open it you really need to drink the whole thing. So I did. By myself. The super weird thing is not only did I not really get drunk at all (just a little tipsy) I also didn’t have a hangover the next day? For a 37-year-old who really doesn’t drink much and was also too busy to eat for most of the day that has to be some sort of freak miracle.

In less exciting news, after the party we discovered the pipe under our kitchen sink is cracked and since I’d already done the dishes it had leaked everywhere. At first I just thought this one fastener was too loose (which it was) but after I tightened it and cleaned up all the water and also the crud on the pipe it was leaking worse- I guess the crud was the only thing keeping it all together? Since it was the weekend there wasn’t anything we could do about it so I just wrapped the cracked part in about fifty yards of tape, and today I stopped by the office to ask the handyman to take a look at it. He doesn’t have the parts on hand so he won’t be able to fix it until tomorrow or Wednesday, so here’s hoping my tape patch job holds a bit longer.

November 7th

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This tree has a face :B
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Windy Days

1.
When I was in the second grade, each day a student got to choose a weather sticker to put up on the calender above the bulletin board. This was a Big Deal because the teacher had to lift us up in the air to do it. Actually for me just being at school was a Big Deal because I was homeschooled for kindergarten and first grade. Anyway. Every day some kid would look out the window and proclaim the day “sunny” or “cloudy” or “rainy.” No one ever, ever picked “windy,” so I swore to myself that when it was MY turned to get lifted up in the air to stick the weather sticker on the calendar, I was going to pick “windy” no matter what the actual weather was doing. idk why this was so important to me, but it was, and when my turn came I didn’t even look out the window.

2.
One night my old boyfriend and I were walking home to our apartment on Robson Street. It was really late; he worked at a 24-hour coffee shop and I think I was unemployed at the time so I’d hang out drinking americanos and wait for his shift to end. We were down near the bottom of the hill on Barclay or Haro, there was no one else around and the air was perfectly still. Suddenly, we heard this great whooshing noise and turned to look back up the hill, and we could literally see the wind. Where we were standing nothing was moving but a few blocks up the trees were whipping around, leaves and bits of trash were barrelling down the street. We stood still and waited for it to hit us.

3.
On Thursday morning I got myself and the little ones ready to go out in a monsoon. A freak thunderstorm had started just after 8 so it was boots, coats, rainpants, muddy buddies, the whole works. By the time we were all dressed and ready, the rain had stopped completely, leaving behind my favourite kind of fall day: windy but warm. I felt serene walking down the hill, leaves blowing around us and spent raindrops dripping off the branches overhead. On the way back up a hawk swooped right in front of me and snatched a pigeon out of midair, easily one of the coolest things I’ve seen in the city.

Birthday Week

Having babies eleven years and three days apart probably wasn’t the best plan on my part. Symphony’s birthday was Wednesday so her slumber party should be tonight, but Gwen’s birthday is tomorrow and the last thing we all need is a bunch of teens (weird to think they are no longer tweens) keeping us up all night. I gave Sym the option of having her party tomorrow night but she insists on having it on a Friday so it’s going to be next weekend instead. Tomorrow we have family coming over to celebrate both girls, which I guess IS pretty convenient; last year I did two separate cake-and-presents dos on their actual birthdays but it makes zero sense to do that every year, especially with people coming in from out of town.

Last year I also made a bunch of party decorations but this year I expended all my creative time & energy on making Gwen’s Halloween costume (having babies eleven years and three days apart right after Halloween was also not a great plan) so I’m just going to hang up their “Happy Birthday” glitter banner and bake a couple cakes… and then probably run out to the store tomorrow morning and buy a bunch of decorations, haha.