five faves

Happy Friday! This weekend we are taking Gwen to her first ever birthday party for a friend of hers (she was so shy when she was younger + her delayed speech meant she had trouble making friends DON’T @ ME ABOUT IT OR I’LL CRY) and I’m planning on rearranging & decluttering a bunch of kitchen cupboards (thrilling stuff I know).

This had me in tears. TEARS.

I need to find a local baby spa.

Thinking about a white bedspread for spring/summer.

Gonna try making Dutch Babies in the cast iron this weekend (if you have any tips please let me know in the comments!

A crowdfunding project I can really get behind.

half love letter, half review: “The Witchwood Crown”

I received a complimentary advance copy of The Witchwood Crown; all opinions are my own. Mild spoilers within.

Before I dive into the review portion I should explain a little about my history with the original Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series. I first discovered it when I was in high school: one spring evening after dinner I complained loudly “I’VE READ ALL THE BOOKS IN THIS HOUSE, I NEED A NEW BOOK TO READ” and my parents bundled us all into the car to head down to the bookstore. I wasn’t sure what book I was looking for, but I knew I wanted it to be fairly long, a fantasy novel, and NOT part of a series. In hindsight I remember seeing the paperback of The Dragonbone Chair and rejecting it for being the part of a series when I was looking for a one-and-done book. When I didn’t find what I wanted at the bookstore we next headed to the library, where after searching the shelves I picked out… The Dragonbone Chair. BUT WAIT TANIE, I THOUGHT YOU REJECTED THAT BOOK FOR BEING PART OF A SERIES. I did, I rejected the paperback edition, which said right on the front cover “Book One of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn.” The library had the HARDCOVER, which said nothing of the sort on the front cover. NOTHING. I was tricked, y’all.

I started reading my new book as soon as we got home and I was instantly captivated by the world of Osten Ard. I loved that book with my whole heart. I loved the setting, I loved the characters, I loved the maps and made up languages. Plus the main character Simon was an annoying teen, and I was an annoying teen. So. You know. SYMPATICO. I couldn’t put the book down. I tore through the 600 pages in just a few days. Nearing the end of the book a bunch of chapters ended in cliffhangers, and I turned the page eagerly expecting to find the next chapter only to find instead an appendix???? With lists of characters and places, and a glossary of all the made up words? WHERE’S THE REST OF THE STORY?????? Yes, I didn’t realize I was accidentally reading a series until the very last page of the book.

About six month later the second book, The Stone of Farewell, was released in paperback and I used my allowance to purchase a copy. Again, I finished it in just a few days, and after that The Long Wait began, because the third and final book of the series, To Green Angel Tower, didn’t come out for TWO YEARS. When it was finally released there was a waiting list for it at the library of another six months, and I was LITERALLY DYING to read it. I couldn’t wait any longer! In the end my high school boyfriend bought it for me, with the caveat that I could only read 100 of the 1,000 pages a day. I showed major restraint and finished it in a week.

In the 24 years between then and now I’ve reread the series probably a dozen times. I know the stories by heart. I’ve bought all the books and lent them to friends and never gotten the back and bought them again, more than once. I recommend them to everyone I know. I have them all on my kindle and find myself returning to them over and over. And I’m not saying I married Taylor because he reminded me of Simon at the end of To Green Angel Tower, but he’s tall and has a beard. You do the math. When I found out about The Last King of Osten Ard, a whole new series of books set in the same world with some of the same charcters, I FREAKED OUT. BIG TIME. So I’m not coming at this as a person who likes to read or enjoys fantasy novels, I’m coming at it as an OSTEN ARD SUPERFAN.

I started rereading the original series last summer and finished a few weeks after the release of The Heart of What was Lost, a novella set immediately after the events of To Green Angel Tower that partially sets up the events of The Witchwood Crown. I read the novella next and enjoyed it a lot, but when I received my copy of The Witchwood Crown I was actually kind of terrified to start reading it. What if I hated it? What if it was awful? What if I waited two and a half decades for my favourite series to continue and it sucked??

Well, I’m happy to report that once I started the book (only after my mom told me I was being ridiculous) my fears were allayed and it does not suck at all. I will admit that at first I was a little unhappy with it, but I realized that after the end of the original series I just wanted everything to be ok and for my beloved characters to live happily ever after. That would make for a boring as hell book though, and this book is NOT boring. There are intrigues and mysteries galore. The depictions of the heretofore unexplored Norn culture & society (which is also touched on in The Heart of What was Lost) is fascinating. The story introduces new characters without shuffling all my old favourites off to the sidelines, but makes those new characters interesting enough that I want to know more about them, their history and where their stories are headed. Some characters were almost TOO interesting and now I’m frustrated that I don’t know more about them already!

This book had me crying in the first 100 pages and yelling WHAT THE HECK throughout the last third as secrets were revealed, some characters turned out to be duplicitous, and the fates of others were not what I expected. Some of the twists were so surprising to me I had to go back and reread what I’d just read because I almost couldn’t believe it! I think if I have one complaint about this book it’s that there are a few too many parallels between it and events in the first series, but at the same time I understand the motivation behind the parallels, so I kind of go back and forth on whether this is actually a complaint. A theme of this story seems to be “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” so I get it, but did we really need another long lost creepy old book full of mysterious and evil secrets? I guess time (and the rest of this series) will tell.

All in all I definitely recommend this book. If you were a fan of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn but haven’t read it since the 90s you might want to refresh yourself, and if you haven’t read them at all before then then you should do it now! The Witchwood Crown comes out in late June so if you start reading right now, you have just enough time to read the original series and the novella. Altogether it’s only about 10,000,000 pages, you’ll do fine.

Book one of The Last King of Osten Ard, The Witchwood Crown will be available June 27, 2017. Thank you to DAW Books for providing the advance copy, and THANK YOU to Tad Williams for writing it.

hello spring!

We took the kids to the playground yesterday and I think it was the first genuinely nice (ie NOT WET AND/OR FREEZING) day so far this year. Last year all the plum & cherry & apple trees in my neighborhood were flowering in February and this year I feel like they’ve just started to bud. It’s so nice to say goodbye to winter, it seems like it was so long this year, but I guess that just because I’m used to the more typical global warming winters. Were winters this long when I was a kid? This winter was snowy in Vancouver but I certainly remember there being much more snow back in the 80s.

Anyway. I have slacked on a bunch of the home projects I wanted to have done by this point (mostly painting related) but I’ve tackled a few other big projects, namely a massive craft closet declutter. I’m still not 100% finished with it but once it’s done I have big plans for decluttering the kitchen cupboards and the little kids’ room (THERE’S SO MANY TOYS), as well as possibly switching some of the living areas around. Plus all that painting I still need to do! It’s going to be a busy season.

five days & five faves


All my babies at 5-ish months old in 2002-2013-2017

It’s been a busy, bonkers week you guys. I actually only had to work on two days (Wednesday & Thursday) but my family (and the time change, ugh) has had me all over the place!

On Monday I took the little kids out to Chapters on West Broadway so I could pick up a new basket to store the dress up clothes in. Gwen got some new Peppa Pig books and Nicky got a teether shaped like a old school Nintendo controller, which was too expensive but also too cute to resist. That night Gwen developed a fever, which was not very fun but thankfully the next day she was fine.

On Tuesday Sym and her grandma dropped off a new desk for Gwen they’d picked up for me at Ikea. Gwen helped me to build it (like, she really helped, not “helped” the way little kids often do) and we put it right next to my desk in the office. It has a top that opens up and a nice big compartment inside, so now she has her own space to store all her drawing supplies and papers so they aren’t piled on MY desk anymore. I’m planning on putting a magnet board or magnet strips and maybe a small shelf on the wall above for her to display some of her fine arts.

On Wednesday I continued my quest to get this place decluttered and donated four huge bags of clothing to charity. That evening Nicky cut his first tooth and it was all very exciting, but later that night he developed a fever (I know some people believe teething causes fevers but I think he just had whatever Gwen had on Monday night).

On Thursday I was up until 3am with a poor sick baby, until Taylor came home from the office to relive me. Thankfully I was able to sleep in a little that morning because I was super tired and super crabby. Nicky still had a mild fever for most of the day, although it never reached the “seek medical attention” threshold (something I have a lot of anxiety about after his bout of meningitis last fall).

On Friday (today) I slept in until 10am, which was amazing, but when I got up Gwen informed me she had put beads in her nose. I sent her to get dressed to go to the hospital while I brushed my teeth, and I heard her sneeze and the sound of a bead pinging away across the room. My relief was short lived when she informed me there were still two more beads in the other nostril. After waiting for 2 1/2 hours in the emergency room and performing something called the “kiss technique” (where you blow into your kid’s mouth to try and blast any obstructions out of their nose) all I got was a faceful of snot because there weren’t any more beads up there! I’m not mad at her, obviously, but I definitely would have rather not spent the whole morning there!

A quick five faves for this week…

This is the basket I got for the dress up clothes, they are only available in store but they are on super sale if you can get to a Chapters!

Nicky’s Nintendo teether is available here.

This article on grey clothing is CLEARLY relevant to my interests.

Nicky has outgrown his basinet (HOW????) so while he was sick we used this folding portable mini crib in the living room. If you have a baby and a small space I super recommend it. It has a very small footprint, folds flat when not in use and can be easily rolled from room to room.

Since Nicky was tiny we’ve used the FeedBaby app to track his diapers & bottles, as well as growth and vaccinations. This week we also used it to keep track of his temperature and medicine. The apps syncs between our phones, which is great for us since Taylor and I live & work on opposite schedules and are also very often very tired and confused about the passage of time, haha. It’s available for Apple and Android.

Have a great weekend everyone!

baby bunking

Gwen has wanted to get a bunkbed to share with Nicky basically since before he was born. She was going through a big Peppa Pig phase last summer, and Peppa & George share a room with a bunkbed, so I think that might be the source. There’s also a big sister/little brother bunkbed combo in Little Miss, Big Sis, the book about becoming a big sister we bought for her last year when I was pregnant. Of course, Nicky is in a crib and Gwen is too young for an upper bunk still, but I’ve started doing a little bunk bed planning already.

I had almost decided on the Ikea Norddal bunk bed, which can be reconfigured into two twin beds in case they get sick of being stack up. However I was recently discussing bunk beds on instagram with Alison from 600 Sq Ft and a Baby and she asked if I had considered the Ikea Kura.

For those who aren’t familiar, it’s a reversible bedframe that can be used low, almost as a canopy bed, or high, as a loft bed (the high configuration is lower than a loft bed for a teen or adult). It’s also a favourite of Ikea hackers, a lot of whom use it in the high configuration as a bunkbed by putting a mattress under the loft.

A few weeks ago I saw this adorable playhouse online that Gwen fell in love with (I posted it in my five faves that week). The $250 price tag was a lil much for me though and when a friend sent me a link to a DIY to make one that is similar I figured that might be the way to go. Then I thought about it more and realized we just don’t have the space for a large, permanent (ie non-collapsable) playhouse like that, even with the airy openness of it. The playroom (really part of the open-plan living area) already has the toy shelf and play kitchen (which I’m planning on replacing with a larger play kitchen) and the little kids bedroom has Nicky’s crib, Gwen’s toddler canopy bed, a large dresser/bookshelf and another toy shelf. There is plenty of open area in both rooms but it’s floorspace that needs to be kept clear for playing and walking through.

I started looking at various hacks and LO AND BEHOLD WHAT DID I SPY? Kuras that had been hacked to add a roof-shaped canopy! All I’ve found is pictures with no real sources, so no instructions, but HONESTLY how hard can it be? Kura beds are pretty much just a 2×2 pine frame with white particleboard panels, so I’d just need some extra 2x2s. I even already have a mitre saw to do the cuts, so I’m basically halfway there. Now I just need the bedframe, the extra wood and oh yeah, two years to go by so Gwen and Nicky can use it! JUST KIDDING STAY TINY FOREVER MY BABIES.

photo sources: 1 ikea // 2 Nanette Wong // 3 simons// 4 homeday // 5 erdmute

five months


taking a break from Nicky & donuts with this Nickyburger & fries

There’s no 30th of February so I realized yesterday that Nicky was five months old? SEEMS SUSPICIOUS BUT W/E. He weighs 7.5kg and is 69.5cm tall. He’s wearing size two diapers but his skinny behind would still fit into size ones. His arms and legs are growing out of all his size 3-6 month clothes at an alarming rate. We don’t have very much 6-12 month stuff for him, oh darn I’m gonna have to go BABY CLOTHES SHOPPING ie my favourite activity.

At five months old Nicky loves rolling over and over, especially when he’s supposed to be sleeping so you have to check on him constantly and carefully roll him back onto his back. No swaddle can stop him, he has to roll! He will also grab onto the bars of the crib so you have to pry his little sticky paw free before you can do it because otherwise you can’t break his kung fu grip.

He likes any toys he can put in his mouth: all his teethers, Gwen’s old-but-unused Sophie giraffe, these little clutching dolls, you name it. He delights in them! He is defintiely 100% over binkies. He loves any bouncing games: boingy-boingy-boo, wibble-wobble, wheeeeee! (please don’t ask me to explain these). He likes to have his bath with Gwen and kicks and kicks and kicks until we are all thoroughly splashed. He laughs at everything, smiles at everyone, and has passed his second post-meningitis hearing test with flying colours.

Nicky usually has two naps during the day and goes to bed for the night around the same time as Gwen, which is AMAZING only… it means he wakes up at 6am. I am not a morning person so it’s a little bit of a struggle, especially since neither of my other kids were earlier risers as babies. Maybe it will finally be the thing that gets me up early enough on the mornings when Taylor is here to go to the gym though? Dare to dream.

worry & guilt

I’ve been struggling a lot with the worst mom feelings recently, worry and guilt. I worry about how Sym is doing in school and her social life. I feel guilty every time Gwen asks me to take her to the park and I can’t because of work or the baby, and I worry about her speech and whether or not she’ll be ready for school this fall. I feel guilty that my house is always such noisy chaos (also because of work) and not the peaceful, calm environment I want for Nicky’s first year. I worry that my kids are missing out on activities because I can’t easily fit them into my work schedule. You might be sensing a theme here, and it’s no secret that my dream is to “just” be a stay-at-home-mom to my own kids, rather than a work-at-home-mom with responsibilities to other people & their kids. I’ve been so stressed and anxious about what kind of parent I am that I actually started crying about it one night, like full-blown sobbing. I was crying so hard I couldn’t even say what I was so upset about and had to text Taylor, who was sitting right next to me. Not exactly my finest moment! I just…. I want to be a good mom, I want my kids to be happy and successful in life in whatever way they choose. I want to do everything for them but at the moment I feel like after working fifty hours a week looking after other people’s kids I just don’t have enough of myself left to give to my OWN kids. It’s hard, and I’m not sure what the solution is right now.

I initially drafted this post a couple of weeks ago and since then I’ve registered Sym for a summer animation program at the art school, met with her math teacher to discuss her grades, and encouraged her to invite friends over for our weekly “Riverdale Club” viewing parties on Friday nights. I’ve been making more of an effort to accommodate Gwen’s wishes to “go outside” all the time during the week (which becomes easier as the weather improves), have taken her on more “adventures” on the weekends, and after a successful drop-in visit I enrolled her in a gymnastics class starting next month. For Nicky, well, I’ve just been loving him extra (although I did also start an RESP for him, and Gwen as well (finally!).

four tens

This past Sunday was my birthday, and I turned forty. I’m not one of those people who FLIPS OUT over birthdays and aging, but it is definitely a weird feeling. Forty. Wow. So strange!

To make my birthday special, Taylor spent months planning a hotel stay for just us with no kids. D’you know, the only time I’ve been away from Gwen overnight was when I was in the hospital with Nicky (when he was born & when he had meningitis), and the only time I’ve been away from Nicky overnight was when he was in the hospital and I was home with Gwen. It was different when Sym was small, as her paternal grandparents live(d) close by and often had her for sleepovers, but I’d never been away from both of the two little ones at the same time.

So Taylor arranged for his mom to fly down and stay over on Saturday night to look after them, but his carefully laid plans hit a colossal snag when there was another snowstorm this weekend. A lot of flights were cancelled, including his mom’s. HMMMM, SNOW??? CANCELLED FLIGHTS??? DISRUPTED PLANS??? DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR??? LIKE THIS HAS HAPPENED TO US BEFORE??? OH YEAH ONLY OUR WEDDING IF YOU RECALL. Snow just wants to ruin my life, I guess, so it’s lucky it rarely snows here.

Thankfully, Symphony’s dad was able to step in and stay overnight with all the kids (and pets) while Taylor and I got a night out. We checked into the hotel on Saturday evening and were able to relax and drink champagne before going out for dinner, and that night I had the best sleep I’ve had in months, or probably years. It was just so blissful being able to sleep without having to keep an ear open for little kid sounds! We came home late Sunday morning and I got spoiled even more with loads of gifts and a dobos torte from the Transylvanian bakery (although Gwen had specified that I was to have a Rainbow Dash cake, what gives Taylor?).

It was such a great weekend and I feel so happy, relaxed and rejuvenated, and ready to dive back into real life. Thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes, all my friends and family and especially my husband who made my birthday weekend such a treat.

five faves

Happy Friday! It is my birthday weekend and Taylor has something??? planned??? that he is keeping a surprise, which is exciting. It’s also SUPER SNOWY out again! I felt pretty dumb buying Gwen a snow suit & boots this winter but I’m so glad I got them.

The second Charlotte Holmes novel by Brittany Cavallaro (I KNOW HER), The Last of August, is coming out in less than two weeks! I have mine preordered already and I can’t wait.

When Gwen saw this playhouse she said “Aw Nicky like to go in it with me too, soon!” so I guess I have to buy it now?

I need to try these churro donuts immediately.

I love everything in the midwinter collection from Stay Home Club so much I can’t pick just one? I want these pins, this patch, and this sweatshirt.

Riverdale is filling the Pretty Little Liars-sized hole in Sym’s and my hearts (Taylor doesn’t it like it but I think he’s just old and out of touch, not like me, I’m a Cool Mom).

four months

Nicky was actually four months old two days ago on January 30th. I was waiting to post this because he had a doctor’s appointment today (4 month shots, VACCINATE YOUR KIDS OK) and I wanted his height & weight. He weighs 6.872kg and is 69cm tall, putting him right in the 50% percentile for weight but over the 95th percentile for height (no surprises there).

At four months he is really into cramming things in his mouth. He is low-key teething so anything that can be chewed will be chewed, and the floods of drool never cease. He actually loves all the teethers I made for him so I can totally justify all the beads I bought, haha. He loves snuggling and being bounced in your lap, and he loves his Skip Hop play gym (especially knocking it over on himself). He likes playing peekaboo, loves his sisters, and sleeps well through the night in his crib (although recently he’s been staying up late and pooping all evening, followed by a big sleep in the next morning). His eyes are very blue and in a surprise twist his hair is BLOND. Both girls had much darker/longer hair at this age but he has cute little yellow baby chicken fluff on his head. I was very blonde as a child so maybe in this sense he’ll take after me.


Gwen chose his outfit for picture day, and when I was editing these she came over and said “Awwww, it’s Nicky! I love him.” Such a sweet girl!