What I’ve Been Reading

I had insomnia again last night, after Taylor fell asleep I stayed up reading and did the dishes after midnight. Clearly, I’ve gone crazy. I didn’t sleep in this morning though; instead, I got up early and made blueberry mini-muffins (tiny food!). Double crazy.


They came out all different sizes because I have zero patience for spooning batter into into muffins trays, and I just made them from a mix, not scratch, but I’m pretty sure getting up early and baking anything gives me tons of homemaker points.

On to reading- I mentioned yesterday that I’ve read 89 books so far this year. Clearly, reading is something I do a lot of, all the time. I’ve always loved reading, ever since I was a little kid. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are of the hours I would spend curled up behind the woodstove with a book on cold winter days. I easily become lost in books and tune out the whole world- it used to drive my younger sister buggy (we shared a room) because she’d spend fifteen minutes telling me some complicated story and in the end I’d look up and go “Huh? Did you say something?”

I’ve been keeping a list of what books I’ve read this year on Shelfari. I don’t tag or review them, partially because I have a hard time expressing what it is I like or don’t like about a book and partially because I’m usually already too busy reading the next book! In fact, since yesterday I’ve read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Adventuress (it’s actually a picture book, or “a novel in pictures”) and the first 258 pages of When Autumn Leaves by Amy S. Foster, a book I picked up because I liked the bright orange on the cover- yes, that’s how I judge books!


Holiday Sickness Blues

This vacation is turning out to be a lot less fun then I had hoped! I had that big list of all the things I wanted to do and see during these two weeks but I’ve actually been pretty sick for a lot of it, exhausted and nauseous and just riddled with phlegm. My sleep schedule has been all out of whack and I’ve had terrible insomnia a couple nights. On Saturday I was up until after 4 am, then slept until three on Sunday afternoon. I tried to regulate my schedule by going to bed early-ish the last couple nights and getting up at eight yesterday morning, but lo and behold I didn’t wake up until noon today! I feel like I’m wasting my holiday.

I have gone out and done a couple things- we went to the bookstore on Sunday and Sym and I got new books. She chose Knuckleheads, a book of fairy tales in which the characters are body parts- Handsel and Gretel, Nose White, etc, and I got Mommies Behaving Badly by Roz Bailey and Inside Out Girl by Tish Cohen. Last December I set a goal to read 52 books in 2009 so I tend to just pick whatever books are in the bargain price bin at Book Warehouse. I’ve already finished both of them, which brings my books read total to 89. I think I should set next year’s goal a little higher!

Yesterday we went out post-Boxing Day shopping. I didn’t find either of the things I was actually looking for (California fleece tulip skirt from American Apparel and this amazing swan sweater my e-friend Hana got at H&M) but I did get a grey twill anorak and some tank tops from the Gap. I swear, Gap tank tops are softer than any other tanks in the world. The anorak was a little overpriced, but here in Vancouver the Gap is running a program called “Sprize,” where if something you purchase goes on sale within 45 days, the difference is automatically put on your Sprize card in the form of store credit. Which you can use to buy more tank tops! Taylor is a twelve-year-old boy and got comic books and a new video game, and Symphony got a big-eyed stuffed turtle that makes a bubbling sound when you squeeze him. Taylor and I have christened him “The Turtle Who Sounds like a Bong” (disclaimer: we don’t smoke pot, but who doesn’t know what a bong sounds like?).

Now I get to spend the afternoon catching up on housework, especially laundry, which has been spiraling out of control, and hopefully if I feel better this evening Taylor and I are going to have a movie Date Night and go see The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Fingers crossed!

My Last Post About Christmas, I Swear*

*for 2009

For me this Christmas has been all about starting new traditions for my little family.

On Christmas Eve after dinner we all got to open one gift, new pajamas. Originally I’d planned on having the pajamas be from Santa and we’d put them on on Christmas morning, but Taylor forgot and had mine wrapped and put under the tree. Since Symphony had already seen it he couldn’t exactly re-wrap it in the Santa Claus paper (yes, of course I have two sets of wrapping paper to differentiate between gifts from family and gifts from Santa), so instead I rewrapped Taylor and Sym’s pajamas. We immediately put them all on and I said I wanted a cheesy picture of us all, and the pets, in front of the tree. Shenanigans ensued.

XMas Eve

XMas Eve

XMas Eve

We also decorated gingerbread men to leave out for Santa. Sym’s class decorated them on the last day of school, and her teacher gave me the leftover extras to decorate with the daycare kids. However the last day of school was also my last day of work, and other than Symphony I was only looking after a baby that day.

XMas Eve

I went with the classic Mr Bill-style face and gumdrop buttons (left), Symphony’s is a baby with a star-patterned diaper cover (right), and Taylor repped his heritage by making his (center) mustachioed, wearing a mesh shirt and ruby red slippers (a friend of Dorothy). I’m sure Santa really enjoyed these!

I don’t have any pictures from Christmas Day, which is kind of a bummer but kind of not. You can see how tired I look in the Christmas Eve pictures already, and Christmas Day started early. Really early. Taylor was switching from his work night schedule to his vacation day schedule, which means he woke up at around four that morning. Sym woke up at five and at five-fifteen I heard them talking and it woke me up. I could have sent Symphony back to bed, but she was so excited and happy and cute that I really wanted to hang out with her, so I said “Why don’t we open our stockings now?” Once you’ve opened those you might as well open your other presents from Santa (note: I had wanted the only things from Santa to be little stocking stuffers, as per my childhood family traditions, but my ex insisted on buying Sym all the Playmobils she’d asked Santa for, none of which even fit in her stocking, so Taylor and I ended up buying a bunch more things to fill it. Spoiled!). I think we managed to hold off opening the rest of our gifts until seven-thirty. Needless to say I looked haggardly with mad hair, so I’m not exactly depressed about not having photos to commemorate this.

Symphony, of course, got her face spoiled off. She got her desk (as mentioned in my Ikea post) and handmade-by-me Sailor Senshi dolls (please stay tuned for a post about the blood, sweat and tears I poured into making these over the course of many sleepless nights) from myself and Taylor, arts & craft supplies, a digital video camera (!!!), and a boxed set of the Sailor Moon movies from our extended family and friends, as well as all the Playmobils, some KidRobot toys, Japanese stationary items and tons of candy from Santa. Taylor got a new bathrobe, a sweater I had to go into Armani Exchange to buy (it was like a cologne sauna in there!), a monopod for his camera, The Zombie Survival Guide, a calligraphy set and tons of scarves and mittens, as well as the obligatory KidRobots and candy. I got enormous sweatpants that make me look like an elephant but I love them, a super-cool miniature LED chandelier, a Dremel (haha) and 350 million attachments and accessories for it, and you guessed it, KidRobots and candy. I also got a box Sym put together for me of some of her favorite little toys and crystals- she is the sweetest kid I know, seriously.

The rest of Christmas Day was spent napping, eating junk and watching movies. Taylor made pancakes and reverse-mimosas (regular white wine + Orangina) for breakfast. Symphony and I watched all three Sailor Moon movies and Taylor fell asleep at four, prompting me to scrap making Christmas dinner (we’ll have it today instead). We kept drinking the reverse-mimosas, and at some point we ran out of Orangina and started using pomegranate Italian soda instead. After Symphony went to bed Taylor and I had our Second Annual Christmas Day Viewing of the Sex and the City Movie. A little history: last year, we were supposed to spend Christmas day on a Maui beach, relaxed, tanned and newlywed. Thanks to six snowstorms and a cancelled flight, instead we spent it at home alone, petless, kidless, presentless and definitely not married, daring each other to watch a series of increasingly terrible films, the worst of which was SatC. I think this year it was even worse than I’d remembered!

Vacation = Awesome and More Christmastime

It’s 2:30 in the afternoon and I’m still wearing my pajamas. I actually didn’t even get up today until 11, and all I’ve eaten so far is Lindt and After Eight chocolates and cheese popcorn.

A few weeks ago I posted a picture of my Christmas tree, well, it’s starting to look a lot more like Christmas in here! I apologize in advance for the crummy pictures- my official photographer isn’t on vacation yet so he’s sleeping.


So many gifts! I’m kind of livid though- last year I bought two strings of 100 lights for the tree at Canadian Tire, and sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve one of them blew out- it was immediately obvious because I had one string on the top half of the tree and one on the bottom half. This year I bought two more strings of 100 lights at Target, one is around the living room window and the other is on the tree with last year’s surviving string. Well, last week I was sewing on the couch and I thought I saw a flash out of the corner of my eye, but I didn’t think anything of it. Then the other night I was putting more gifts under the tree and I realized that another string of lights has blown! I’m pretty sure it’s the other Canadian Tire string. I didn’t realize right away because both strands are wrapped from top to bottom, but seriously, how ridiculous is that? It’s annoying because in order to take it off I’d have to undecorate the entire tree, so I’ll just have to live with a hundred dead bulbs for another week or so.

For some reason Symphony really didn’t want to put up her little purple tree, so unfortunately I won’t have pictures of it this year, although I did do a green and silver themed Christmas display on my kitchen windowsill. Our apartment is a basement suite and this huge window above my kitchen sink looks out onto the underside of my upstairs neighbor’s porch, a muddy pit of half-dead ferns, and the back of a chainlink fence. So not a nice view! I don’t like to keep the blinds closed though; it makes the room seem too dark and closed in. Instead I try to make it look pretty inside to distract from the ugly outside.


I was going to have three glasses with disco ball ornaments and silver beads but as I was getting the third one down from the top shelf I smashed it against the cupboard door. Oops!

In other news, yesterday Symphony and I went to see a matinĂ©e of The Princess and the Frog. It was playing at the theatre in this weird, dead mall on the east side, and after the movie we stopped by one of the few stores there- Yoko Yaya, which is a big Japanese $2 store (practically everything is two dollars). I love/hate going there, I always find so many cute and fun things, but the two dollar charges really add up! I bought some toys, notebooks and random stuff like scented highlighters and fruit- and animal shaped erasers for stocking stuffers, and it came to about $60. My absolute favorite of all the thing I picked up were these adorable Japanese stationery sets. I’m kind of a cute stationary nut but I never write letters, so I’m not entirely sure what to do with it all. I might give some of them away after the holidays, so stay tuned!

A Visit from the Christmas Elf

When I was a child, one of the holiday traditions in my family was “The Christmas Elf.” According to my parents, the Christmas elf was one of Santa’s helpers, and on one night in December, he would come to your house to make sure you were well-behaved. He would check to make sure your room was kept nice and clean and if it was, he’d leave candy in your shoes while you slept. If your room was messy, there was a distinct possibility that you’d end up on the dreaded naughty list. Since the Christmas elf could come on any night you’d have to keep your room clean for the entire month. Clearly this was a sneaky plan by my parents to make us keep our bedrooms tidy, but it also stems from my father’s German heritage and Saint Nicholas Day.

Since my daughter was young, Christmas has always been celebrated in the tradition of her father’s family, which is always super fun for her, but this year I wanted her to experience something of the way Christmas was when I was little. It’s the first year we’re spending the holiday together at home, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce her to the Christmas elf.

I told Symphony now that she’s big enough to clean her room all by herself, the Christmas elf might come. She’s done a great job of keeping everything tidy, and this morning there was a candy cane, chocolate balls and coins and a chocolate bear, pink and purple M&Ms and a small wrapped gift in her shoes. Here’s a dramatic re-enactment of her goodies:


She was so thrilled when she showed me what she’d found, and when I asked her to grab something from my bedroom and she discovered that Taylor and I also had candy-filled shoes she just about exploded with excitement. I would say our first visit from the Christmas elf was a huge success!

Date Night Report: Ikea! & Christmas Vacation Plans


On Wednesday my daughter went to her dad’s house (usually she goes on Thursdays but we switched this week) so Taylor and I decided to go to Ikea. Normally I wouldn’t consider shopping trips as Date Nights but for Ikea I’ll make an exception.

We booked an SUV through Zipcar and headed out to the suburbs. There are two Ikeas near Vancouver- one in Coquitlam and one in Richmond. We usually go to the Coquitlam one since it’s bigger and newer and easier to get to by train, but when you’re driving the Richmond store is easier to get to after work since you don’t have to take the freeway.

Unfortunately we didn’t have as much fun as I’d hoped, Taylor wasn’t feeling very well and didn’t want to eat anything or look at literally every fake room and tiny item, but it was still a nice enough time. I picked up a pair of shelves for the Trofast cupboard I keep the daycare toys in (I almost forgot to get these, we were already in line and I had to run back to the warehouse to get them and I’m glad I did since they were on sale), a long Lack shelf for our bedroom, about a thousand meters of wrapping paper, a dozen picture frames for all Sym’s school pictures (I like to think ahead!), and a Mikael desk for her room. We’d been planning on getting it for a while but she doesn’t know that I bought it so it’s going to be one of her Christmas gifts. It’s in these two big boxes and I’m going to wrap them up and put them under the tree. She’s going to freak.

In non-Date Night news, today is my last day of work before two whole weeks of vacation. I have to say I’m pretty excited! We aren’t going anywhere this year so I made a big list of things I want to do around the house:
– finish painting the library (yellow) and paint the piano (also yellow) This is going to be a MASSIVE undertaking- at some point in history someone (badly) painted the piano glossy black, so I have to sand it first, but first I have to test for lead in the black paint.
– paint the kitchen (pink)
– paint the hallway (yellow)
-paint the bathroom (grey)
– paint our bedroom (cream) When I do this I’m going to move our mattress into the living room so we can sleep under the Christmas tree. It’ll be like all my childhood dreams come true!
– build new bookcases for the library, since right now it just has the piano and a couch in it and no books!

… and things I want to do around the city:
– go ice skating at the recently reopened rink at Robson Square, or “GE Ice Plaza”


– go see the Festival of lights at the Van Dusen Botanical Garden


– take Symphony on the Stanley Park Christmas Train, especially since I missed the Halloween Train this year


As you can see, I’m really into Christmas lights. The thing I’m most excited about though, is Taylor is taking the the week after next off of work, which means that I get to sleep next to my husband for ten nights in a row! Hooray!

Making it Work


The biggest ongoing challenge in my marriage is my husband’s work schedule. I work Monday through Friday, 7:45 until 5:15. Taylor works Monday through Friday, 12 until 8. Except that’s 12 midnight until 8 am, and really it’s usually more like 9 or 10 or even 11 am.

Night shift. It sucks. I’m already working by the time he gets home and when I’m finished, he’s still sleeping and I feel bad about waking him up, since 5 or 6 pm feels like 5 or 6 am to him. On the weekends he tries to switch to a more normal schedule so he can spend time with me during the day, but he’s often so exhausted that he falls asleep on the couch. It complicates every aspect of our lives. It’s hard to plan meals for the family when my daughter needs dinner by six and my husband is still asleep or in breakfast mode. If we go away for the weekend we have make sure to be home by early Sunday afternoon so Taylor can get to bed on time in order to work at midnight. If one of our friends has a mid-week dinner or get together he can’t have more than one drink and we usually have to leave early (which is usually true on the weekends as well). It took almost a month to coordinate a meeting with our financial advisor because Taylor sleeps during normal business hours, and while the financial advisor already accommodates me by coming to the house, I sincerely doubt he’d take a meeting at night.

People are always saying that it must be so difficult to be on opposite schedules and asking us (especially me) how we do it. Here are some of things that help keep us close:

-As I mentioned earlier, Taylor switches his sleep schedule on the weekends so he can be awake during the day. It’s terrible for him and I feel guilty about how little sleep he gets, but if he didn’t do this we’d have almost no time to spend with each other, and certainly no daylight hours!

-Constant text messaging. We text the whole time he’s walking to work and the whole time he’s walking home. If I can’t sleep or I wake up in the middle of the night, I text him. Sometimes when he’s asleep I’ll send him a lovey-dovey text for when he wakes up. We also get each other’s twitter updates sent to our phones so when each of us gets up we can see what the other has been doing/thinking about while we were sleeping.

-I work from home. If I wasn’t here during the day we’d only see each other in the evenings before he left for the office, but because I’m around the house we get to catch up with each other before he goes to sleep. Plus, Taylor brings me a white mocha americano every day, and somehow it tastes better than if I went to Starbucks myself.

-We do as much together as we can, even if it’s just running silly, mundane errands. Last night Taylor came with me to buy a new toothbrush. When we go to the gym we run on adjacent treadmills. We’ve even gone Christmas shopping for each other together while keeping the gifts a surprise (it involves a lot of waiting outside stores while the other person gets their bags stapled shut).

-I try very hard to have patience and understanding about it. Sometimes it isn’t the easiest thing in the world to only get to sleep beside your husband two nights a week. It can be really lonely with just me and the cat poking my face, and a few weeks ago I broke down (admittedly after a few too many glasses of wine) and cried about it. But the next morning, I got up, put my happy face back on and spent the day with my husband.

People are right to say it must be hard, because it is, but when they ask how we do it, well, the answer is, we just do.