happy day

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This is the most on-theme outfit I could get Gwen to wear; I said to Taylor the combination of robe-as-daywear and insane bedhead was giving me Baby Lebowski vibes and he replied that all she needed to complete the look was a virgin White Russian. So like. Milk.

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Happy Canada Day! I’m off all this week so it kind of doesn’t feel like a holiday for me? Taylor is taking Friday off instead of today (or last night, since his shift starts at midnight) and Sym is spending the day at her dad’s, so it’s just me & the babe this afternoon. We might go to the fireworks tonight, it depends on Gwen since they will be starting well past her bedtime and if she’s grumpy we aren’t going to bother. My only real Canada Day plans are to make a couple different flavoured syrups, having tacos for dinner, and remaking the banner I was working on yesterday that Gwen cut in half at some point before I woke up this morning.

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My July calendar page is up now, you can download it here.

summatime

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I know it’s poor form to recycle your instagram pics in your blog posts but this is literally the only picture of Sym that exists, and also it is very cute.

School is over and it’s officially summer for Sym, which means it’s officially exasperation season for me. We already had our first big attitude problem-related blowout and I confiscated all her devices for five days- before she’d even picked up her report card. Teens are hard to parent sometimes! Last summer I came up with a big list of chores and activities with rules about how many she had to complete each day before she was allowed any screen time, which worked well, but this summer I’m more about getting her out of the house to do things where there might be other people.

Options for teen activities when you are as broke as me are pretty limited; most of the programs at the community centers around here are for younger kids (or they are just exercise classes), and most of the art and theater classes I’ve found are too rich for my blood. Through some clever googling though, I found a wealth of teen activities and workshops at the library that are FOR FREE and I am ALL ABOUT THEM.

This week she started a creative writing workshop that is every other Monday afternoon all summer, and I signed her up for a three-day Barbie modding workshop at the end of July. She actually pestered me about the Barbie thing for days until I signed her up, which is amazing for a kid who usually wants nothing more than to lurk in her bedroom watching It’s Grace videos all day. There is also a button-making workshop I’m trying to get her to do but for some reason she says she isn’t into buttons? I was like “YOU CAN PUT THEM ON YOUR JEAN JACKET!!!!” but she wasn’t sold. Honestly sometimes I wonder how we are even related.

waffles & sprained ankles

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eating dinner in the pediatric examination room

Last night Taylor and I got to celebrate his special day by taking a fun trip to the emergency room at St. Paul’s Hospital (I keep hearing all this noise about plans to move the hospital out of downtown and I hope that never happens, it is very convenient having the hospital half a block away). Earlier in the day she fell off one of the dining room chairs and as the afternoon progressed she went from walking on the edge of her foot with her toes curled under, to walking on her knees and refusing to even stand up.

The hospital was a super fun adventure as Gwen’s highly developed sense of STRANGER DANGER meant she started screaming and howling BEFORE the doctor examined her leg. It wasn’t really possible to tell what sort of pain she was in so she had to have her leg x-rayed. Of course she didn’t want the x-ray technician (who was SO NICE AND PATIENT) to talk to/look at her either which led to more howling. She wouldn’t lie down or hold still for the x-ray, so in the end both Taylor and myself had to lead-apron up and hold her leg in place while trying to keep our hands out of the shot.

In spite of this they were able to get what the needed and with no apparent fractures or deformities she was diagnosed with a sprained ankle. The doctor told us it should heal quickly and that within 24 to 48 hours she be back to her regular self (although if she’s not we should bring her back in). So far today she seems to be doing really well; she was standing at the door when I got her up this morning and she’s been walking on her feet and even twirling, running, and climbing (including up onto the very same chair she fell off yesterday, why must you do this, baby?).

Even though we were fast tracked at the ER we still got home quite late and so we skipped bath, instead giving her a bottle, brushing our teeth (she likes us to brush while she brushes) and going straight to bed. Gwen’s bedtimes have thankfully become less of a struggle recently. She likes to sit up in bed and have us read her a book or two before we turn off the lights and close the door. She usually cries for a minute or two but then falls asleep without problem. She won’t let us tuck her in and stays sitting up while we leave, but if we check on her in the night she’s always fixed up her bed and tucked herself in. She still sleeps through the night just fine and has even been sleeping in a little in the mornings, waking at 7 or 7:30 instead of 5:30 or 6.

PS Taylor’s Father’s Day wasn’t just about the hospital. In the morning her got presents: Campfire Cologne and Canoeist Beard Oil from the Sanborn Canoe Company, and a new pair of sandals to replace the ones Georgie chewed up. I also made him a special brunch of homemade waffles with fresh blackberries, raspberries (regular & golden), whipped cream and lemon-wild rose syrup, which tragically didn’t thicken enough but was still delicious.

talk | slide

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I haven’t mentioned Gwen’s delayed speech/her progress recently. She is still on the recall list with the speech pathologists, which means they call us every few months to ask if we want to bring her in. I haven’t taken her in since our initial appointment at the beginning of the year, as her speech and vocabulary have continued to improve. She now says the names of the pets, certain colours and letters, and many more household objects and toys. She says mama and dada all the time, and for some reason she calls Sym “Dee.” My most recent fave was the other day when I was watching the X-Files while I worked on banners and every time someone was abducted by aliens she cry out “oh no, oh nooooooo!” Totally the appropriate response imo.

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May long weekend when we were in Kelowna we were supposed to have a barbecue on Sunday night with homemade sliders, but because we left early (due to Gwen’s refusal to sleep) we missed it. This was super disappointing, so my new thing this summer is making sliders on Friday nights. Now, I’ve kind of quit eating meat I have to prepare myself because it grosses me out to the point where I can’t eat it*, so I’ve been making veggie sliders. It’s super easy, I just buy the Yves veggie burgers**, cut each patty into thirds (in wedges, like a pie) and sort of smoosh each wedge back into a round patty shape. You can also use a round cookie or biscuit cutter with a 2.5″ diameter to make circles, but you will only get two and then you’ll have to REALLY squish the scraps together to get the third patty.

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Gwen loves ’em.

The first week I just made simple cheeseburgers with mozzarella, but last week I got more creative and topped the sliders with caramelized onions and smoked gouda. I asked Taylor what he thought I should do this week and he suggested something spicy, but then he was like “get a cheese with jalapeños in it and put chipotle sauce on the pattie sand top them with pickled banana peppers!” and I’m kinda like CALM DOWN GUY, THE KIDS HAVE TO EAT THESE TOO. Sym won’t eat anything spicy and idk how much spicy stuff Gwen should/could be eating, so I think I should just stick to ONE spicy element at a time.

* Except for bacon, cooking bacon doesn’t gross me out… YET
** I didn’t eat these for a couple years bc soy is a goitrogen, ie not rad for your thyroid, but now that my Graves’ is in remission I’m adding it back into my diet. Not kale though. Never kale.

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In other news, last weekend Taylor and I spent a whole day putting up assorted shelves around the house. The shelves that used to hold Gwen’s books until she and her lil friend pulled them right out of the wall like baby hulks are now in my office. I already had three longer shelves on one wall so I put these on the other wall at the same heights so there would be a cohesive look, and with the new space I’ve been having lots of fun rearranging my pictures and putting up new art, including pieces from The Disaster Life, Sara M Lyons and Sebastien Millon. I also hung up this new lil gradient banner I made for myself last week, you can get one for yourself here.

wakeful

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Gwen doesn’t take an afternoon nap anymore. When I tell people they always shriek “WHAT??? SHE’S ONLY TWO!!!” but it’s what is happening and we are all powerless to stop it. Last week (on Wednesday and Thursday) I gave it one final attempt and tried to put her down for a nap. She didn’t sleep either day, but she did dismantle her whole room, throw books everywhere, take off a poopy diaper, tap dance in it and then climb all her furniture with poopy feet. So basically… NEVER AGAIN. Instead she falls asleep in her stroller when we are out running errands, or she falls asleep on the couch curled up next to us. The latter is so sweet and takes me back to when she was a tiny baby, I don’t even miss her taking a proper nap (except for when I have a lot of work that needs to get done, then I definitely miss it).

unlikely lullabies

On Monday night Gwen put on a repeat performance of her refusing to sleep act from Saturday. After over an hour and a half of struggling to get her to stay in bed by changing her, redressing her, reading to her and laying down with her I finally tried singing to her. Why did I not try this sooner? It worked like a charm! Fifteen minutes of singing the non-Coca-Cola version of “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” (it’s been stuck in my head since Sunday night) over and over and she fell asleep and didn’t wake up until seven in the morning (a miracle!). While I’ve sung some traditional lullabies to my girls over the years I’ve had the best luck with regular songs, some of which might seem like odd choices. These have all worked for us though:


The New Seekers- I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing
I actually remember this song from when I was a kid, like I don’t think they were still airing the ad on tv at that time but I DEF heard this version. It works great as a lullaby: the sweet lyrics, folky melody and short, repetitive verses are overtired toddler Kryptonite. A song like this you can sing the verses over and over in any order which is perfect for soothing a frantic lil one to sleep.


The Ditty Bops- Because We Do
idk that the lyrics of this song are really lullaby material but other than that it has all the same positives as ILTTTWTS.


Depeche Mode- Enjoy the Silence
This is what I used to sing to Gwen when she was a tiny baby. Go ahead and laugh but “all I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is here in my arms” is just what I was feeling at the time.


Guns n Roses- Sweet Child o’ Mine
… and this is what I would sing to little Symmie. GO AHEAD AND LAUGH HARDER but this song is the best lullaby.

went away|came back

First of all, thank you everyone for the incredible response to the Sara M Lyons + Unicorn Parade banners that Sara and I released last week! I sold out of the Whatever Forever banner in about fifteen minutes, and Sara has just one left in her shop. We both have some Out of this World and Best Buds banners still available so please visit shop.unicornpara.de or shop.saramlyons.com to get one of your very own.

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Gwen’s flamingo swimsuit is from Old Navy

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I actually have a degree in taking pictures of scenery through the window of a moving car.

For the long weekend Taylor and I packed up Gwen and the little dogs and headed up to his moms’ place in Kelowna. Since both of us were off work Friday (I’d booked it as a vacation day but as it turned out I had no kids coming, what a waste!) we planned to leave early in the day and avoid traffic, but due to certain circumstances we didn’t actually leave the house until about 1pm. It took us two and a half hours just to get out of the city and across the Fraser Valley, ugh. After a quick visit to Hope to buy snacks and to enact a complicated standing-up diaper-changing maneuver on a screaming toddler in a truck-stop bathroom we made good time the rest of the way and arrived at dinnertime.

Saturday was beautiful and sunny and Gwen was up bright and early at 6am and ready to hit the backyard. She spent some quality time with the water table and then after breakfast we headed out to go hiking in Bear Creek Park. Back at the house Gwen had a very short nap (she’d fallen asleep in the car briefly and non-nap time sleeps always mess up her nap). She spent most of the rest of Saturday playing with water in the backyard and watching her fave shows with her grandmas while Taylor and I ran some errands.

At bedtime we started to have some problems. She’d gone down easily on Friday night but Saturday night it was a HUGE struggle to get her to sleep in her bed. In fact, I never did. At her grandmas’ she sleeps in a crib in a spare room but since she can climb out of cribs it only took about five seconds after we closed the door before she turned on the light and started knocking to be let out. Taylor had some work to do so I tried myself for an hour to get her to bed in her room, but it just wasn’t happening and I was so tired and stressed out that I was starting to get mad, so in the end I let her come lay down with me in the other bedroom. Of course, she still didn’t go to sleep- she stayed up goofing around for at least another hour before settling down to what would be a long, nearly-sleepless night for Taylor and I.

Sunday morning Taylor’s sister came over with her three kids for a little visit, and after they left we tried giving Gwen lunch and putting her down for a nap again but it was just more of the same as the night before, she wouldn’t stay in bed. We tried both the crib AND the actual bed in the room but there was no way. Taylor and I had already decided that if she wouldn’t nap we’d have to leave early because all of us were pretty much at the end of our ropes, emotionally. It sucked because leaving early meant missing out on more time with Taylor’s family and a barbecue I was really looking forward to, but the alternative was a toddler on the brink of a constant meltdown and two even more exhausted adults making the drive back the next day. So we quickly packed up all our stuff (forgetting only Taylor’s tablet and notebook) and headed out.

As soon as we put Gwen into her carseat she got MAJOR sleepy-eyes, and I think she fell asleep before we’d driven 50 feet. She slept all the way to Merritt, two hours away. After she woke up she was mostly good the rest of the way, only making a serious fuss when she needed her diaper changed, again in Hope and again a complicated standing-up endeavour, this time in the back seat because it was raining and I didn’t want to get out of the car. We drove through rain- and thunderstorms until we reached the sun in Metro Vancouver, again arriving just in time for dinner. We were a little worried that Gwen would be difficult to get to bed again but she went straight to sleep without a problem and didn’t wake until 7am.

Since we still had the rental car for another day we made a quick trip to Ikea this morning to snag a couple items we forgot on our last trip, a pair of waterproof mattress protectors and a second duvet for Gwen’s toddler bed. as well as a new sheepskin for her room. We had to chuck out her old one because SOMEONE’S little dog peed on it, and we ended up getting a fake (ie WASHABLE) one this time. Since we were saving money on the sheepskin ($15 vs $40) we also picked up a cute rack for Taylor’s hats, a frame for a poster he ordered last month and some 600lm LED lightbulbs for our bedroom. I’m OBSESSED with these bulbs; they last for basically ever and make CFLs look like the literal worthless trash bulbs they are. I buy a few every time I go to Ikea and plan on eventually replacing every CFL bulb in my house with them.

monday morning

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My hairdresser went on a month-long vacation and in that time my bangs grew OUT OF CONTROL. They got so long I had to start pinning them to the side and now I’m considering growing them out, oops. I just got them in December, and getting bangs once my hair reached a certain length was always the plan but idk you guys, I don’t love them this time. I guess we’ll see how it goes- failing at growing out my bangs was part of the reason I cut all my hair off two years ago.

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The other weekend I finally got around to weeding my terrible garden and seeing which of my plants have survived another year of my neglect, so now we’re in the part of the year when I pretend to care about it and buy some new plants and remember to water it every day. Last year I bought a ton of groundcover plants but lost interest in them too quickly and they all withered and died. This year I bought just one, a Corsican mint, as well as this cool-looking little fern. My upstairs neighbor also gave me a bunch of pansies that I planted in the worst spot in my garden, right under the foyer window where the roof overhang means no rain reaches the plants there (it’s where all my groundcovers died last year). Will I be able to keep any of these plants alive? ONLY TIME WILL TELL but probably not.

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This is not our cat, it belongs to some of our neighbors and sometimes they bring him down to the backyard so Gwen can pet him. She is absolutely obsessed with kitties right now, and when I hold him (his name is Theo) she climbs into my lap and lays there quietly, softly petting his little paws and ears. It also helps that he is the chillest cat in the world, but she is much nicer to him than she is to any of the dogs. Seeing her gently patting him and whispering “ki-y” is so sweet and really makes me want to get a cat even more.

I haven’t had much time to post lately because I’ve just been so busy with real work. I am mostly caught up on orders but so behind on other things, it’s ridiculous. I actually put my shop on vacation temporarily to try and give myself some time to catch up!

The thing I’m focussing on right now is finishing a pair of bunny boots. They were ordered by one of my kickstarter backers, and I SWEAR TO GOD THEY ARE CURSED. Little things keep going wrong with them so they are taking me forever to finish. First, when I went to attach the little black studs for the eyes, they would not set right and just crumpled and bent and eventually I had to pull the mangled remains out so many times that the leather of the vamp (the toe section of the boot) tore. I had to cut whole new vamps, but I’d already attached the muzzles & noses to the old ones so I had to unstitch them to put on the new vamps, but then I discovered I’d accidentally hit one of the noses with my mallet, ruining it (they are small triangular studs). I was so frustrated that I ended up doing a completely different face, with appliquéd features instead of the studs. Then, when I went to sew the first finished vamp onto it’s shaft, I sewed almost halfway across before realizing I’d forgotten to put the ears into the seam, so I had to unstitch that! And for the final curse, after finishing the upper of the first boot I went to assemble the second and discovered the other pair of ears was missing. Now, I’m 90% sure that I did make four ears, and in all likelihood Gwen got ahold of them and put them somewhere so clever I won’t find them for months. HOWEVER there is also a slight chance that I only ever made two ears, and any time spent searching for the allegedly missing pair would be a waste I can’t afford. So now I have to make another pair of ears, which I probably already made, making it also a waste of time.

It’s just really frustrating and exhausting and as a consequence I am at the end of my rope with everything in my life. I’m tired and have zero patience for nonsense from anyone. Last night I ended up so frustrated by little things Taylor and Sym and even Gwen said and did that after making and serving dinner for everyone I shut myself in the bedroom to read this supremely boring book I’ve been slogging through and didn’t have anything to eat myself until later. Not very mature or productive, I know. Also not productive is the work avoidance procrastination I’ve been doing: running errands with Taylor that I don’t need to go on, rearranging the foyer, deciding the most valuable use of my time is to take Gwen shoe shopping, gardening. NOT THE WAY TO GET THINGS DONE. Hopefully this week I’ll be able to get properly back on track, because lord knows right now I just want to go back to bed and pull the blankets over my head and go “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” to all my responsibilities.

rise & shine

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my jean jacket has a theme for spring; (sold out) pins by Sad Ghost Club & Sara M. Lyons

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Gwen is officially an early bird. She wakes up at 5:30 or 5 or 4:30 in the morning. For a few days the other week we tried putting her to bed later but it really made no difference to what time she woke up. The later bedtime also meant that by the time whatever housework was done and the dogs were walked and we’d both decompressed from parenting a rambunctious toddler, Taylor and I barely had any time to hang out together as grown-ups (ie fall asleep on the couch watching tv). Now we’re back to putting her to bed at around 7:30-8 and she’s still waking up in the pre-dawn hours.

Last Tuesday Gwen woke me up at 5:45 and I was like “this is a good thing.” I got her up and changed, gave her some milk and put on Pee-Wee for her to watch while I had a quick shower (something that never happens in the mornings) and it was GLORIOUS. Just for that one day though, and then I was back to hating it. I’m just really not a morning person. In the latter half of the week she started waking up even earlier (ARGH NO) so now if she wakes up earlier than 6 we put her back to bed and cross our fingers that she’ll actually let us sleep. This morning she was up at 5:45 again, but after a quick diaper change & reading one Olivia book she went back to sleep until 6:45. It was kind of a miracle.

• • •

I have so much work on the go right now. Last week I ran out of every single colour of glitter for (almost) every banner I needed to make, and had to wait until the weekend to get more. I was so dumb about it too, there was plenty of OTHER work I could have done instead of the banners (like sewing boots and making patches) but in my vast intelligence I decided to do nothing instead. SO STUPID UGH. So now while I’m not technically that behind on things… I am kind of behind on things. Then yesterday I accepted a rush order on a time-consuming banner AND an order for twenty banners. TWENTY. Like I didn’t already have enough on the go! So I have no time for slacking this week. This month, even. So if you see me slacking around on the internet STOP ME!

tip top

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Last week I had a lot of work to do so of course I thought it’d be smart to spend an entire day dismantling my desk. It needed to be cleaned off anyway and I was really sick to death of the yellow. I’ve been planning on repainting it for a while, but I figured I could enact a quick change by swapping out the old desktop of a couple spare white Ikea desk tops I had. They had previously been on top of the kitchen island (from before we got a real dining room table) so they aren’t in great condition, but then again, neither was the yellow top and did I mention I was sick of it? SO SICK.

Of course what I thought would be an easy breezy simple swap turned out to be anything but. After removing the old top I realized there was only one small board holding the two halves of the desk together, and that the seam between the two new desktops would fall over open space and bee all wobbly so I needed to first attach them to some sort of stabilizing piece. Luckily I had a big heavy piece of wood stashed behind my bed that worked perfectly, and after only a brief struggle I was able to get my new desk top on place. It’s much longer so I have space on it for the printer now without feeling crowded and even though it’s a little scratched up it still looks much cleaner than the yellow one. Eventually I’d like to replace the two cobbled-together 1 meter-long desktops with one 2-meter long desktop, but baby steps. I also still need to paint the base of the desk, which is still bright yellow. Did I mention I was sick of the yellow? I’m thinking of doing it either a black-brown or a dark grey.

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When I was screwing the new desktop into place from underneath I needed something to weigh it down so the screws would go in properly, and I made the mistake of sitting Gwen on it as my weight. It worked perfectly, and she was pretty thrilled with the experience. So thrilled that she’s added climbing onto my desk to her repertoire of things she knows she’s not supposed to do but does anyway. With the new desktop she can no longer get into my drawer full of pens and markers and scissors so I guess it’s kind of a trade off? Her climbing up on my desk was an inevitability anyway as she has great enthusiasm for climbing things.