Gwen has a bad cough so I let her stay home from school today. Actually it’s more like I forced her to, she was very upset about not getting to see her teacher. She cheered up when she got to watch cartoons and build Lego all morning though. Now the little kids are napping so she gets to watch cartoons in my bedroom instead of the living room, which is a treat reserved only for sick days. Sym got her 1st term report card and did very well in almost all her classes, almost all As and Bs. We want her to get her biology grade up a little (right now she has a C, but she did get 80% on her final lab which is a good sign) but she got a B in math, which is a class she’s struggled in for the last six years. Nicky started walking.
It was foggy and gloomy all last week and I thought it would be better to have sunny days but the whole world is mucky and brown right now. Normally I’m very opposed to snow but this year I wish it would. Just a bit. But I’ve checked the forecast and it’s supposed to stay sunny this week, rainy over the weekend, and then even sunnier straight through Christmas. On the weekend we took the little kids for a walk through Stanley Park to Beaver Lake and it was nice enough, but I really want to see & experience some winter and not just mud and dead leaves. Taylor and I had decided to skip going up Grouse for the Peak of Christmas again this year but that decision might need reevaluation.
Tonight I’m trying out a new spaghetti sauce recipe. I need to finish a pair of shoes for one friend’s baby and start a pair for another. I got the new (tacky with pink accents) play kitchen I ordered on Black Friday and I’m in the redecoration planning stages. White everything, grey everything, silver hardware, brass hardware? I was planning on using the leftover stick-on tiles for the backsplash but I didn’t have enough so I ordered a few more- Home Depot has them individually for A DOLLAR right now, which I feel has to be a mistake but I swear they had better ship them to me! The whole project is going to take a lot of painting before I can even start assembling so it probably won’t be done until after the break, but I’m planning on sharing the whole process with you once I’m finished.
things on my mind as we roll into this last month of 2017…
I remember when I was a kid trying to spy over my mom’s shoulder at the hand-written list of gifts for all us kids. To stop my own kids from doing the same I made that most boring and tedious of documents, A SPREADSHEET that I colour-coded and shared with Taylor. I think this will also help us to avoid a replay of last Christmas, (I gave you my heart? no) when we kept forgetting what we’d already bought and kept buying more and ended up with WAY too many gifts.
Gwen’s school concert was last night (so bizarrely early imo) and it was cute in the way that elementary school concerts are cute. Gwen did a great job and Nicky really enjoyed himself, jumping up and down in our laps and clapping, through about half of it before becoming overtired and angry. Thankfully Gwen’s class performance was early in the show so Taylor was able to leave early without missing her.
decorating, decorating, decorating
I keep rearranging the lights. I’m pretty happy with how they are now, although I feel like I need oneeeee moreeeee strand to put around the fence railing above my stairs to really complete the look outside. We’re going to be decorating the tree tonight and I think getting started on building some holiday Legos this weekend? Then there’s the holiday Playmobils as well, and the little paper houses and garlands and and and…
Taylor and Gwen have Lego advent calendars this year, and I really wanted one for myself but I couldn’t find one I liked. So I guess next year I will have to make my own! I didn’t have time this year but maybe it would be cool? I had a brief idea of making them to sell but the packing sounds like a logistical nightmare. Oh, I and I need to make a new regular calendar for 2018, so keep your eyes peeled for that since I’ll prob be offering it as a free download again
I typically schedule my winter vacation to sync up with the school break, and this year it’s the last week of December and the first week of January. There’s three more weeks of work left, but I can do it. I can do it. This week Taylor’s had out-of-office training and hasn’t been able to take Gwen to school so I’ve been doing drop offs and pick ups with all the little kids. It’s been… ok. Last week I had one of the daycare kids walking so Nicky could go in the double stroller with the other daycare kid, but he (the walking kid) is not yet two so it took a long time and on rainy days we got drenched. I got a stroller board for him instead and it’s been so much better not having to a) walk at the speed of a toddler, and b) wear Nicky for hours every day. I’m thinking I can start doing drop offs regularly a few days a week so Taylor isn’t always getting into the office so late, but still, I’m glad this week is over (it’s a pro-d day) and I don’t have to go down to the school for three whole days!
Those poor palmiers, I very very diligently halved the recipe and then grabbed the wrong size of measuring cup and used twice as much sugar as they needed! They were (mostly still edible) but pretty well encased in carmelized sugar. I need a do-over on them.
Last week Gwen had her first-ever Pajama Day at school and honestly you’ve never seen a more excited kid. Also: they were allowed to bring stuffies and two of her friends brought toys Gwen gave them for their birthdays.
Pork chops with apples & onions are a favourite family dinner, but I need to talk about those peas. I threw them together at the last minute, cooking them in butter with lemon zest and smoked salt and they were delicious. Even picky eater Gwen admitted she liked them “a lil bit,” and Nicky couldn’t get enough.
I spent a few evenings sewing a couple of rag rugs together using this DIY to make a new pouf. The rugs were $13 each and I stuffed it with old duvets and pillows I was planning on getting rid of so in addition to being easy it was very affordable! Initially I wanted more neutral-coloured rugs but the ones I found were much more expensive and I decided to go with the thrifty option. The kids and pets certainly think it’s great.
I have been working hard to slowly but surely refresh our living space and HONESTLY I am so happy with how it’s all turning out. The living room/playroom switch has opened up so much more space for playing, and just makes so much more sense than they way it was before. The simple act of repainting the (new) living room and dining room all the same colour makes those areas seem so much bigger as well. We shortened Taylor’s desk which got rid of even more wasted space and clutter, and opened up the office into the living room. And other than our new couch (which was sorely needed) I think the only purchases have been paint and a few small decor items. Other than that, it’s all been rearranging.
This weekend I’m going to repaint the wall where Taylor’s desk used to be (there were a couple of shelves above that we took down that left a major amount of holes behind), and next I’m going to focus on the playroom. I want to finish repainting, move the blackout blinds to make more space for naptime, create new book storage (shelves? a bookcase? boxes?) and invest in a new play kitchen. I got rid of Ol’ Bluey when we had the floors redone but I need a new one. I just feel like it’s something kids really love! I’m like 99% decided on this one, although I loathe the pink and would paint over it/replace it. It has a lot of space for play and I like the shape a lot. I have it planned out in my mind how I’m going to install it in this weird, awkward corner while still leaving space behind it to store the folded minicribs when they aren’t in use, with a shelf above it that has a framed poster mounted on the front to store the minicrib mattresses. It’s hard to explain but I’m very confident that it will work. I’m just hoping that the kitchen drops in price a lil more before I pull the trigger on it.
Also this weekend we’re going to start putting the tree up! Long-time readers will know I like to have it up, bare, for a while to let the kids get used to it, so we won’t decorating until December 1st. A little Christmas has already started sneaking in though: the new mushroom ornament and the felt Santa (made from a kit by Gwen) are already brightening up the room with holiday cheer.
Last week was so hectic around here, I’m very much looking forward to taking it easy. We still have Gwen’s actual birthday dinner on Wednesday and I have an MRI scheduled for the same day (first thing in the morning before work, yikes) but other than that there’s nothing out of the ordinary on my schedule.
One night last week we were stumped on what to give Gwen & Nicky for dinner. On Thursday Sym is at her dad’s and Taylor and I eat later in the evening, so it’s just the two little kids to cook for. We decided on a lazy classic: breakfast for dinner. Just some fried eggs & toast. Easy-peasy.
We’d run out of butter to fry the eggs so after he got home from work Taylor popped back out to the store to pick some up. The grocery store by our house is way too busy at that time of day so I directed him to the drugstore instead. They only had the cheapest cheap no name butter, but butter is butter right? APPARENTLY NOT. Like I’m not some fancy label buying butter connoisseur; I buy store-brand butter for the most part, so I figured this would be fine. And when the house filled up with smoke and the egg whites were overdone while the yolks were barely warm I assumed it was just Taylor messing up somehow (SORRY TAYLOR).
Then on Sunday I wanted pancakes for brunch. We only recently stopped using pancake mix and making them from scratch (we use this recipe, which is pretty much perfect IF you half the amount of salt), but they’ve turned out great each time we’ve made them. So imagine my surprise and consternation when the house filled with smoke AGAIN and the first two pancakes were still raw on the inside when they were BURNT on the outside.
It was at this point when we realized the problem: THE BUTTER. That cheap-ass bargain basement butter with its ludicrously low smoke point was ruining the pancakes like it has almost ruined the eggs! We quickly wiped out the cast irons and tried using vegetable oil instead, which worked a little better (no smoke at least) but it did not impart a nice flavour to the pancakes, and we were still having trouble cooking them through: they were still turning out raw on the inside even when the outside was seriously overcooked. We tried reducing the temperature and flipping them a few more times, but then Taylor had a revelation: there was butter in the batter! Three whole tablespoons of melted trash butter, rendering our pancake batter uncookable and inedible.
In the end we had no choice but to send both the pancakes and the remaining butter to the food waste bin, while we went out for brunch instead (which was a whole other comedy of errors), but in the end we learned a valuable lesson: Don’t. Scrimp. On the butter!
In other news, Taylor and I have found a solution to Gwen’s kindergarten drop-off/pick-up problem. Turns out getting Gwen to and from school with both Nicky & the daycare kids was actually not… physically possible for me to do. So now Taylor drops Gwen off in the morning and I pick her up in the afternoon. I’d hoped to avoid this because I feel like going in to work so late won’t be good for Taylor’s job, but at the end of the day I just cannot do both drop off and pick up. It would be different if we’d gotten a space at the school LITERALLY ACROSS THE STREET FROM OUR APARTMENT, but we didn’t (something I will be forever bitter about) so we’re doing it this way instead.
I really need to deadhead these hydrangeas, last year my neighbor took pity on my pregnant self and did it for me but this year I have no excuses.
I know the last day of summer isn’t TECHNICALLY until a little later this week but my gosh, summer just ended HARD this weekend. It’s so cold in the mornings, and at night! I sent Gwen off to school wearing a new-to-her winter coat and I’m REALLY regretting not putting the duvet on the bed last night. My light little summer bedspread just isn’t going to cut it anymore, already. Last week I was perusing the Old Farmer’s Almanac website to try predicting whether I should get Nicky a puffer winter suit and it said this winter will be slightly warmer than normal but after the past couple of days I don’t know if I buy that!
Helping the fall feeling along is the fact that Gwen, Nicky and myself all got colds this weekend. Gwen is the least affected with just a stuffy nose, but Nicky and I feel like crap. On Sunday we took a family trip to Ikea* and fully half the stuff we bought (cheap fleece throw blankets, emergency rain ponchos) were just to help us make the trek back after it started raining. Gwen wasn’t wearing the right shoes for walking in the rain so we crammed her into the stroller and I had Nicky in the Ergo and let me tell you, both of sick and almost fever-y, sneezing & sniffling the whole way home was… not ideal. Once we got back to the house I took up residence on the couch with a mug of cinnamon tea spiked with honey whiskey and stayed there until bed time.
*I wanted to get a few of these little greenhouses to put in my window so I can grow herbs inside this winter but they had sold out! The other, cheaper greenhouse was in stock but it is THREE CENTIMETERS too deep to fit on my windowsill, so frustrating! They are in stock at the other Ikea so maybe I can pick them up there soon.
It’s been chaotic & busy around here lately. Gwen has started kindergarten, I have two new kids starting daycare and I’m still trying to figure out a new schedule for meals, naps, and now drop-offs and pick-ups that works for everyone. This has felt like the longest week of my life, no joke.
I had wanted Gwen to go to the little school across the street, the one that Sym went to, but unfortunately we weren’t able to get a space there so we’re at the main school. It’s only five blocks down the hill, but when you have an 11-month old in an Ergo and two toddlers in a double stroller five blocks might as well be five miles. Combine that with her classroom being up three flights of stairs and… Let’s just say it has been a struggle.
I’m also in a real conundrum with Nicky as the drop off & pick up times line up just perfectly with his regular nap times. Because it takes so long to go to & from the school I have to put him down for his morning nap really late and his afternoon nap really early, and those of you with babies will know that doesn’t really work! He’s too little to drop his morning nap entirely but the past couple days I’ve woken him up after about a half hour of sleep and it seems like it’s going to work. I feel really guilty about it but the alternative- letting him sleep for longer in the morning but then he has such a short afternoon nap or skips it altogether and meltsdown before dinner- is much, much worse.
Right now it’s a very challenging situation for us and I have a lot of unpleasant feelings about a few aspects of it, but I’m hopeful I can get a good routine going soon. Just don’t make me think about what it’ll be like once it starts raining.
Being lazy and also very, very forgetful, I totally blanked on the eclipse until about 9:45 this morning, when I glanced outside and was like “… wtf is happening out there?” Gwen was playing int he yard so I went out to make sure she didn’t look at the sun, and we ended up getting to see the eclipse through one neighbour’s pinhole viewer and another’s actual eclipse glasses! It was pretty cool, I’m not sure that Gwen appreciated it and Nicky slept through the whole thing, but I liked it.
Gwen demonstrating proper eclipse viewing if you don’t have glasses.
Sorry to my camera for taking this picture lol.
I think this was my favourite thing, the partially eclipsed sun visible in the shadows of the leaves.
The past week has been really hectic and difficult, with some really high highs and some low lows.
It started last Tuesday when my full time childcare client gave notice that they were leaving, which is something that always sends me into a panic because I typically only have about a month to find someone new. After a lot of meetings I ended up booking a new full time family AND a part time client as well, which is a huge relief.
I was accepted into a local art market to sell my tiaras, and was offered a table at this past weekend’s show. I was very excited and realistically optimistic about it but unfortunately it ended up being a bust for me and I only made one sale, which was discouraging. I know that these types of event can be very hit and miss, and a lot of the other people around had a similarly disappointing day so it wasn’t just me, but working so hard to get ready for the event to have it be a flop… I mean there are better ways I could have spent seven weekend hours, you know?
While all this was going on we attended a wedding, which was super fun, but I also spent time at not one but TWO hospital emergency rooms. Last Friday from the early afternoon until very late at night at one hospital with my sister, and then again today at a different hospital with Gwen, who had been pushed off the back of the couch, hit her head on the floor and split her scalp open. Thankfully she was just able to have it glued shut, rather than get stitches, but like… can I get a break? I’m hoping that the rest of this week will be uneventful.
Aside- while dealing with everything in my life I was mostly offline & unaware of the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. I hope this goes without saying but for the record I absolutely abhor and condemn this racist, white supremacist terrorist attack and all the literal pieces of Nazi trash who participated in it. There is no place in my life for anyone who feels otherwise so if that’s you, kindly log off from my blog and re-examine your values.
On Monday Gwen had her last ballet class. It was a twice-weekly class at the community centre with 3-6 other little kids and oh my god did she love it. It was so adorable too, all these tiny kids concentrating and trying so hard to get the positions and movements right. I don’t think Gwen is ready for “real” ballet class at the dance school yet, but I’ve already picked out another community centre class for her to start in September.