gwen lately

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Gwen’s speech is progressing nicely. Everyone always said “oh she’ll be caught up by the time she’s three!” and now she’s three and she’s not caught up BUT she is definitely talking more and more every day. She asks for things by name, she uses adjectives to describe things and numbers to describe quantity (usually how many chocolates she wants…). She tells jokes! Kid jokes, like when I ask her what colour her pants are she’ll say “pint (pink) pants!” when really they are black. Hilarious.

Potty training is basically done; it took like… three days. Not even. The other week on a Monday I stopped putting diapers on her except for quiet- and bedtime, and on Thursday she said she didn’t want a diaper at quiet time. She only used the potty a little that day, on Friday she did a great job and by Saturday there were no problems. I always try to not get too hung up on milestones and where other people’s kids are at but it was a little frustrating hearing about 2-year-old who are fully there when Gwen was not even close. But NOW I’m glad I didn’t bother trying to force it to happen before she was ready, because it was SO EASY! Even though she’s completely out of diapers during the day (even when we go out places) we’ve only had one accident.

Her favourite toys right now are Duplo (she asks us every day to “pway wo” with her) and this week she is really into tea parties with the toy food and dishes. Other faves are any kind of tiny baby animals, like Calico Critters or the toys that come out of the bath bombs we get for her at Daiso; her stuffed Peppa Pig; and the little wooden trees, mountains and houses Sym painted for her for Christmas. And Play-Doh! She would play Play-Doh all day if she could.

As for her favourite show, it’s all about Peppa Pig right now. That’s the only thing she wants to watch on the tv although I can usually convince her watching the Lego Movie is a good idea. She doesn’t sit still for very long watching tv though, and will often run around or get up to go play in her room. She WILL sit still for probably forever watching her weird little kid youtube videos on a tablet or phone though. She loves unboxing videos (WHY) and the ones where people act out terrible skits with their toys (WHY). She’s only allowed to watch them during quiet time and I have to remind myself to go get her up after a certain amount of time because she will stay in her room for hours watching videos if we let her.

She loves kitties and bunnies and foxes. Her favourite colour to wear is pink but she always walks on the green stripe of the rainbow crosswalk. She likes any kind of small bread products and calls them all “buns.” She always wants to help do the laundry, make coffee, feed the dogs, wipe the table, and will even clean up her toys when asked nicely (though she usually wants one of us to help her). She’ll steal my phone and tweet pictures from Neko Atsume (sometimes with emoji commentary), she will always give us a hug or kiss (or bart-kiss) but she’s still very shy with strangers. She’s 40 inches tall, weighs 42 pounds and wears size 4 clothes.

little fox

01 cinnamon hearts

02 fox

03 fox

04 shadow cat

06 ivy

07 legos

I have been LOVING this new ready-to-ship banners change I instituted in my shop earlier this month! I love not feeling bogged down with making the same banners every week, I love being able to ship orders so much faster, and I love love love all the extra time I have to work on different projects!

On the weekend I started embroidering a little grumpy fox and I just find it so fun and relaxing. I hadn’t really done any embroidery since I made the patches for Taylor’s anniversary gift two years ago, and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy it. I even like buying the embroidery thread; the subtle variations of the colours make choosing just the right shade fascinating AND they only cost sixty cents each (less with a coupon; I got the new oranges I needed for this fox for 45 cents each)! Combine that with how inexpensive the wooden hoops are and the fact that I’m upcycling the fabric from a torn pair of linen shorts and this is a very cheap hobby.

Bad news for poor lil Symmie: after two weeks having her palate expanded with a palate expander she went to the orthodontist to get it removed… or so she thought. Turns out that while we don’t have to adjust it anymore, she has to keep it in the whole rest of the time she has her braces! I feel really bad for her, it makes it hard to talk and hard to eat and it leaves a weird impression on her tongue that really bothers her. Thankfully she only has four months of braces left, or maybe less! Everyone cross their fingers that it’s less.

life right now

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07 gwen on the table

Last fall I got super into making to-do lists for myself so I wouldn’t forget things I had to do. I fell out of the habit in late November (because at that point every list was like… “MAKE ONE THOUSAND MINI KILLJOY BANNERS, MAKE ONE THOUSAND EVERYTHING IS OK BANNERS” so it seemed pointless). Yesterday I made my first to-do list in months and WOW did I ever get a lot done. Like so much cleaning and work and organizing and meal prep. It was amazing and inspired me to get a jumpstart on spring cleaning, and also force Taylor and Sym to get a jumpstart on helping me with spring cleaning, by posting a big household to-do list on the fridge.

It took me two days but I finally sorted through all of Gwen’s old clothes. I think living with the messy piles and bins everywhere for weeks really helped to take the sentimentality out of the process and I was able to ruthlessly pare down the precious keepsakes down to just one huge bin. I didn’t even include the little footie pants you guys. I sorted everything else (four other huge bins and one medium bin) by size and it’s all ready to take back to storage or get rid of, whichever I decide.

There is a lot going on with Gwen this week. She’s decided she no longer naps in the afternoons and after a couple of days of fighting to get her to nap just a little I gave up and now I just let her quietly watch videos in her room during quiet time. TERRIBLE PARENTING I KNOW but like… it works so whatever. I just set her up in bed with my phone and turn out the lights and she won’t get up until I go get her. Yesterday I discovered she had subscribed me to like a billion of those toy-opening youtube channels. Why do kids like those toy-opening videos so much??? It’s weird. Anyway I’m making the executive decision that little girls who don’t need a nap don’t need to wear diapers either (except for quiet- and bedtime). So far we’ve had no luck with going on the potty but no accidents either as she will hold it all day if she has to. I had also meant to quit giving her pacifiers (she only has them at sleep time) but I swear the very day I decided this she started asking for them, which she’d never done before. COOL MOVE, KID. So rn I’m just being stricter with the sleeping-only rule for them, because I think NO naps NO diapers and NO binkies all in the same week is too much.

Sym is doing well with her palate expander; she’s having less trouble eating and is almost halfway there. It’s less painful for her and I’m getting better at cranking it without getting the little tool jammed in it. This morning she did stamp her feet in a little huff when I reminded her we had to do it, but I think that was mostly because she was trying to leave for school and I’d made her “late” by making her take Georgie out for a pee (not really late, she leaves for school like an hour early and it only takes ten minutes to walk there). Teens!

boogers & braces

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This week has been a weird one; most of us (especially Gwen) were/are sick with a gruesome cold, and for most of the week it’s felt like the wrong day. The former was a nightmare of coughing, sneezing, runny noses and nowhere near enough sleep for anyone. The latter was because Sym switched the days she stays at her dad from Tuesday & Thursday to Wednesday & Thursday- there was a good reason for it though, and that reason is PRETTY LITTLE LIARS. It’s basically the one show we watch together, it airs on Tuesdays and we’ve always had to wait until Wednesday or sometimes even Saturday to watch it. It was actually my suggestion she change her schedule and spend PLL nights here so I can’t really complain, but it made Wednesday feel like Thursday and Thursday feel like Friday and it all just made the week seem extra long.

Also this week (just yesterday in fact) Sym got a palate expander added to her braces, which sucks and she hates it. We have to adjust it twice a day for two weeks and she’s having a helluva time eating because every food gets stuck in it. I have no idea what to make for dinner now, like should I make her favourite foods so the hassle of having to clear it out of the expander is worth it, or should I just make a blended soup to reduce the amount of hassle? I’m reminded of the time my high school boyfriend’s older brother had his jaw wired shut and their mother would just take whatever the family was eating and blend it up with milk into like a ham-peas-barley smoothie. NASTY. Anyway I’m going to wait until she gets home from school and then figure it out together.

I’ve been adding more things to my shop and society6 but I don’t want to make constant picture posts about it; maybe just once a month? With my new shop policy I just have all this extra time and I’m feeling super ~inspired~. Most things I do post on instagram so you can follow me there to keep informed. This weekend I plan on working on EVEN MORE new things, as well as finally figuring out what the heck I’m gonna do with all the baby clothes; the bins of them are still all over my kitchen and dining room and even though I took some things out of them (I gave Gwen some of her tiniest sleepers to dress her “babies” in instead of her current size 4 pajamas) somehow they’ve expanded and no longer fit in the same bins? It’s a mess.

glitter & frost

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All pics by Taylor.

I so wish I didn’t have my eyes closed in that last one but OH WELL. Maybe I will just photoshop my eyeballs into it. We may have not had any real snow this winter but at least we had some good frost, right? Taylor took these photos one morning during our break after we walked the dogs. These were actually all taken in the alley behind our house; it’s very picturesque.

I’m trying something new with my shop this month. I’ve deactivated the listings for some of my most popular banners (the mini feminist killjoy, everything is ok & what is the point) YES I KNOW THAT SOUNDS INSANE but there’s a reason! Instead of making them to order one at a time I’m going make a bunch of them all at once. Then I’ll list them and hopefully they’ll sell out, at which point I’ll make more.

Honestly I should have switched to this type of business model long ago but once my shop became semi-popular I never had the time to get a bunch of banners pre-made. I’m committed to doing it now though and
feel it will allow me to a) make my customers happier with faster shipping times, and b) allow me more time to work on other projects, either for the shop or just for myself! I have a lot ideas for different things I want to make but it’s hard to justify spending an evening painting or sewing or appliquéing when I have outstanding banner orders; hopefully this new direction will change that.

baby blue

One thing I really wanted to get done over the winter break was to clear out some space in my storage locker. We usually have to do this about once a year, as we start to run out of room. It was a kind of desperate situation as there was no room left to put the Christmas tree away, which also needs to get done. I figured the best way to free up some room was to do something that we (mostly Taylor) have been putting off for a long time: going through all of Gwen’s baby stuff and getting rid of most of it. We aren’t going having any more babies so most, if not all, of these things aren’t getting used again, and meanwhile they are taking up A LOT of room.

Really we should have been doing this all along; each season as she outgrew things we should have put aside a few precious items and then given away or sold or donated the rest. That’s what I did with Symphony’s things, but someone IE TAYLOR couldn’t bear to part with any of Gwen’s tiny baby items so they just piled up and piled up and piled up until we had nowhere else to put them.

Here’s the thing: even though Taylor didn’t want to get rid of anything, he also didn’t want to have another baby. And me, I’m the one who is CONSTANTLY getting rid of stuff and I did and still do want to have another baby. But we don’t have the money, we don’t have the room, we don’t have the time, so no more babies.

Even though No More Babies had basically been decided, every time I brought up getting rid of Gwen’s baby clothes Taylor would get all emotional about the thought of her teeny-tiny newborn things and accuse me of trying to manipulate him into having another baby. Finally this weekend I was like NO, you are the one who is trying to manipulate me. Holding onto all these little sleep sacks and tiny onesies and minuscule socks was keeping a small secret hope alive in my heart that yes I would get to have another baby, that there was still a chance. But there isn’t, so it’s time.

Taylor went out to the storage room and brought in all the boxes and bins of Gwen’s old clothes and we started going through them, and that’s when I discovered the truth: for all my rational talk of “we don’t need these things” and “it’s time to get rid of them,” well, I don’t want to. I think yesterday we only made it halfway through the first bin of all the smallest clothes before I quit to go cry in bed.

It was the footed pants that set me off; baby Gwen had multiple pairs of these little pants with built-in feet that she used to wear all the time. I had completely forgotten about them, but seeing them again and trying to decide if I should keep one pair in the “precious memories” pile was too much. They weren’t even anything special, just little pants from H&M in white, a couple of shades of brown and a brown & white stripe. Neutrals that went with everything. They came as part of a set, there would be a sleeper, a onesie, a hat and a pair of these little footed pants. They were really no big deal but suddenly for me, those little pants were the biggest deal of all.

When I was younger (like… 30) I never thought about a time in the future when I would have to decide to not have any more babies. I never thought it would be this hard, or this sad. After Sym was born I didn’t even consider having more kids (for a lot of reasons that I don’t care to get into) and I never felt sad about it then, so I couldn’t have predicted I would feel so sad about it now. And like… it’s one thing to intellectually and logically make the decision because you know it’s for the best, but it’s quite another when the emotional side of the equation confronts you in the form of tiny trousers.

In the end I sorted through almost everything. I saved the things that were the most precious, things worn by both my girls, things made by my mom, things that brought up memories of special occasions. Her baby bear suit, the tiny hockey jersey I used to tell Taylor I was pregnant, all the shoes I made for her went in the “keep” pile. The plain white onesies and old every day sleepers went back in the bins so I can decide how to best get rid of them, although tbh I don’t know that I even can.

Gwen is growing up; she’s three now, she helps with the laundry and makes our coffees for us. She’s finally talking, she’s quitting binkies, and I swear one day she’ll master the potty. She’s not a baby anymore, but I’m just not ready to say goodbye to the baby years of my life yet. So one thing is for certain: the footed pants aren’t going anywhere.

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christmas eve

01 eve tree

05 eve gwen

04 eve gwen

03 eve tree

06 eve gwen

I’ve been off work all week and working hard to finish as many orders as possible before the holiday. I actually got everything I wanted done and shipped off the last batch yesterday; all the open orders I have now we placed this week and I don’t need to worry about them until after Christmas.

Of course focussing on orders totally screwed me up; I’d originally wanted to make a bunch of gifts this year but I just didn’t have the time. The biggest thing I was planning on making was a roadway playmat for Gwen, and I bought all the supplies for it but never even started it! Oopsssss, especially since I’d coordinated with Sym and she painted a set of wooden trees, mountains and cabins SPECIFICALLY to go with my gift.

Luckily the missing gift doesn’t matter since this year we went crazy bananas on gifts. For the past few years Taylor and I have followed a three-gift rule: something to wear, something to read and something to play with. But this year we couldn’t decide what toy to get for Gwen (Duplo? A Play-Doh Fun Factory? The aforementioned hand-painted playmat that I never actually made?) and in the end we just got everything we wanted for both girls.

Symphony is with us for Christmas this year, so last night she went to her dad’s to celebrate Mini Christmas with him. After she left Taylor and I took Gwen up Grouse Mountain for the Peak of Christmas (this sounds mean to not include Sym but she didn’t want to go. TEENS). We didn’t go last year because there was literally zero snow up on the mountain (you can see it from downtown and last December 23rd I looked at it and was like… NOPE, NOT PAYING TO GO STAND AROUND IN THE MUD). This year there has been a bunch of snow and it was actually bonkers snowing while we were up there!

Because we went so late it was quite dark, even with all the lights in the trees. Combined with the tons of snow blowing around we didn’t take many pictures, which is a little disappointing. Taylor was originally going to bring his big camera, then downgraded to bringing his smaller camera (the one I usually use) and in the end it never made it out of our bag and we just used our phones.

ANYWAY. We still had a good time and I really like being able to get out of the city and up into the mountains to the snow so quickly… and I LOVE being able to get back out of the snow just as fast! Tonight we’ll open our Christmas pajamas, decorate cookies and watch Elf, so now I have a busy day ahead of me of cleaning, last minute gift wrapping (because somehow I’m not done? how), grocery shopping and baking. Happy holidays everyone!

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o gwennenbaum

ornaments

bw tree

advent house

business baby

macaroni

lighted birds

Gwen has a new obsession with lip balm, only she pronounces it like “baum.” Last week I gave her a zerbert and she christened it a bart(fart)-kiss and now she gives us bart-kisses all the time. Only she doesn’t know how to do it so they are just loud smacky kisses.

We put all the decorations on our tree and so far it hasn’t been a disaster. Last year Gwen spent the month of December undecorating the tree & breaking ornaments; this year she has mostly ignored it. Except for the lights! Turning them on every day is her job exclusively. She has been kind of reckless with our holiday Legos, but they are new this year and also toys so what else did we expect?

Since I’ve been taking a semi-blogging hiatus I obviously haven’t been posting my meal plans, but I’ve been keeping up with them… sort of. Maybe I don’t plan the whole week at once but I have been making some good meals. The other week I made some ameezing sweet & sour pork with using fresh meat (instead of frozen pre-battered bits) (just never mind that I used sauce from a jar, haha).

I’ve instituted a new rule that on Wednesdays Symphony cooks dinner, which is kind of perilous and also tedious. The point is that her cooking means less work for me, but she makes such a fuss it’s kind of the same amount of work IF NOT MORE. Last night I taught/helped her to make macaroni & cheese from scratch and she nailed it, the sauce was literal perfection. She also got to experience some very real frustration when Gwen, who loves cheese and loves macaroni and loves macaroni & cheese just straight up REFUSED to eat it, for no reason. I would say Sym now has a deeper appreciation for some of what I do around here but like… teens.

I think I am mostly finished with my holiday gift shopping, although I am VERY behind on my gift-making, oops. I am pretty caught up on etsy orders but I thought it would be a good idea to do some last-minute gift & ornament exchanges which was not my brightest move ever. Today I am going to get started on painting some things, partly because painting is easier on my wrists and my carpal tunnel has been pretty terrible lately. I got new wrist braces and I am being more diligent about wearing them, especially during the day, but ughhhh it’s sooooooooo annoyinggggggggggggggggg. First though, I made a new set of stickers! As in, I’m making them right now: I designed & printed the first sheet but haven’t cut them out yet. You can get them here.

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more december

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I just shipped the very last order that was placed before my holiday cutoff so hopefully things will be a little less frantic around here. I still have open orders but I don’t feel as desperate to get them out like YESTERDAY OMG so I can focus a little bit more on Christmas presents for my family.

I put our Christmas tree up a few weeks ago, just bare with lights so Gwen could get a little used to it before we add the decorations (which we’re doing tonight). My old cat Claire used to love lying under the tree and so when I saw Mark Fluffalo doing it I felt all warm and fuzzy… until I noticed today that a whole section of lights were out! Taylor told me the cat had been under the tree last night (he was working from home) goofing around before running off, and when we took it apart we found a wire that had been chewed nearly clean through. Why oh why are cats such dodos? Hopefully it was not a pleasant experience and he doesn’t do it again, but Taylor (with small help from me) was able to splice the wire back together.

Last Saturday was Taylor’s office holiday party and also the ninth anniversary of our first date. NINE WHOLE YEARS. He surprised me by hiring a limo to drive us around the city before the party while we drank champagne #hearteyesemoji The Saturday before that we went to Ikea and I bought a credenza for the dining room and filled it with all our board- and card games.

This afternoon I got Gwen to take her nap in her bed for the first time since May, which meant I was able to clean the house while she slept. It was a short nap, but I feel triumphant.