hard candy mini christmas

I’m having a little trouble getting into the holiday spirit this year. Usually I take two weeks off at Christmas so I have time before the holiday to really get into it and time after to relax, but this year I had to use half of my vacation to you know, HAVE A BABY so I can only take a week off. I chose the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and I’m really really really looking forward to getting a little time off then, but I haven’t really been able to get as into Christmas as I normally do. Taylor has been off this week and has been a big help but working + looking after my own kids has left me exhausted and with no time to shower, let alone spread holiday frickin’ cheer.

Sym is spending Christmas with her dad this year so last weekend we had a little Mini Christmas celebration. On Friday night we opened our matching family Christmas pajamas and all the new holiday Lego sets. This year’s sets included a train and a couple small Santa-themed items, which we built that night. Saturday we had brunch and then that afternoon headed over to Enchant, the Christmas light maze. I’d bought the tickerts weeks in advance and was worried it would be raining, which it thankfully wasn’t, but unfortunately it was F R E E Z I N G instead, and Gwen was not dressed warmly enough which made her a little miserable. I ended up bailing out of the maze a little early so I could take Gwen and Nicky to the baby changing tent to hog the heater (and change the baby) while Taylor and Sym finished the maze. We all met back up for mini donuts and soft pretzels, which cheered Gwen up immensely, but when we got home she was still so chilled I ended up tucking her in on the couch with two blankets (faux fur AND wool) and a heating pad for her frozen little feet. I wasn’t planning on buying her a pair of winter snow boots this year (I figured her brown boots from the Gap and her Hunters would be enough) but after that experience I broke down and ordered her a pair after all.

Anyway. Today is my last day of work this year, THANK GOODNESS, so hopefully I can get myself out of this rut of grumpiness soon. Here are a few pics from our Mini Christmas night…

I couldn’t get a pic of all five of use together so you get a variety of groupings instead. This years pajamas are from Hanna Andersson, and while in the past I’ve said they are TOO UBIQUITOUS across the blogosphere I’m actually super impressed with them, and here’s why: I realized a few days AFTER these pictures were taken that Nicky’s sleeper has a huge printing flaw in the design. The fabric must have been folded or something during printing because there is a white wedge-shaped gap in the pattern about 15 inches long. It was obviously too late to replace them (even if they weren’t sold out, which they are), so I emailed asking if I could get a partial refund on the sleeper due to the flaw and they immediately responded, offering a FULL refund. Excellent customer service, so thank you Hanna Andersson! Oh also I know Taylor looks super not thrilled/long suffering in these pics but ACTUALLY he was the most adamant that we ALL had to match.

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My friend Lindsay posted this braised chicken recipe on facebook and I was like… I NEED TO MAKE THIS. We had it the next day and it was *chef kissing fingers* I used a mix of baby kale, chard & spinach for the greens and substituted 1 dried Thai chile for the 4 dried chiles de árbol, only because I happened to have the Thai chili already. PRO TIP: always check the Scoville heat units before substituting types of chilis! I almost threw 4 Thai chilis in before I checked and saw they are TEN TIMES HOTTER than the chiles de árbol! That would have been… something else.

H&M has online shopping in Canada now, FINALLY geez. Unfortunately the site is a weird, hard-to-navigate mess (why can I only view all the t-shirts for men, women and kids all mixed up on one endless page???) so I wasn’t able to find my holy grail t-shirt to share with you all, but I did find this one which I obviously need to buy immediately.

I’m totally obsessed with this rattle/teether I made for Nicky this week, and want to make him one in every colour! It was so easy and affordable; I got everything I needed to make it for ~$10Cdn from Canadian DIY Supply ←←← use that link for 10% off your order!

It’s no secret I went a lil bonkers on AliExpress during the Global Shopping Festival, and now all my purchases are slowly trickling in. Other than Nicky’s shark sleeping bag, my fave item so far has been these cloud-shaped placemats. I got them in white and they have been great for reducing the amount of mealtime mess with both Gwen AND the daycare kids.

Amanda. Chantal. Bacon.

a lil proud

This week has been kiiiiind of difficult. Taylor is back at the office three days a week and so I’ve had my first nights alone with the kids. Nicky is actually sleeping through the night (I KNOW) but the hours he’s sleeping around exactly the right ones. The first two nights he fell asleep around 1am, which was Not Great as I had to get up early enough to walk the dogs before Sym left for school at 7:45. Last night he fell asleep at 10 which was SO GOOD… until he woke up at 5:30 this morning. Usually when he wakes up in the morning he just needs a change & a bottle and then falls right back to sleep, but today he stayed up until 5 minutes before my alarm went off. So like… just ideal, really.

Gwen also woke up at 5:30 today, and also didn’t go back to sleep. This was actually a big problem with her for a while, she’d wake up multiple times in the night and refuse to go back to bed until we let her look outside to see that it was still dark (this was a huge pain in the summer when it sometimes wasn’t dark but was too early to get up). We got her a clock that lights up green when she’s allowed to get up and it has been a huge help, but some days she still has a little trouble waiting. This morning she turned on the overhead light and I could hear her through the monitor dumping out about fifty bins of toys, but she wasn’t crying on banging on the door so I just let her play.

On Monday Gwen and I had a particularly tough day; neither of us was in a good mood and there was a lot of pushback from her when I asked her to do things (like cleaning up her toys) or not do things (like hitting the other kids). We had several big arguments and were both very frustrated. I felt bad about how rotten of a day we had so for the rest of this week I’ve tried to have more patience with her. Tuesday and Wednesday went a lot better, and yesterday we were walking home from the playground and I told her of how proud I was of her for being such a good listener and being helpful and patient, and she turned to me, holding her fingers thisclose together and said “You a lil bit proud a me?” Yes Gwen, a lil bit, and a big bit!

She is turning into such a big kid, in fact she told me on Tuesday that she is a big kid now, not a little kid anymore. We were on our way to the school to register her for kindergarten, which seems BONKERS. I just can’t believe that she’s going to be going to school next year! While we were at the front office a class came down to the library and she was SO EXCITED to seem them, she didn’t want to leave. In fact, she almost started to cry because she thought she’d get to start going to school right then! Since then she’s talked to me every day about going to school and asks if she can go “in two minute.” It is heartbreaking to tell her she can’t start for nine more months, but I for one am going to try to enjoy every day with my not-little but not-too-big girl.

fives faves

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Happy first Friday in December! I’m hoping to take the kids to the tree-lighting down on Robson Street tonight but it is pouring with rain rn and idk if I want to deal with wet, crabby kids, so we might just stay home and decorate our own tree instead.

WHO WATCHED SEARCH PARTY omg I loved this show so much.

I want to make this cake for Christmas dessert.

Parks Canada is giving away FREE ADMISSION PASSES for 2017 (if you can get the danged website to load, I’ve been trying for AN HOUR already, trapped on the billing & shipping address page).

My friend tweeted these grey velvet sweatpants at me because she knows I have a very strong grey sweatpants personal brand. TRAGICALLY they were sold out in my size in Canada but I persevered and checked back every day until they came back in stock.
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As someone who started going grey at 17 and a few years ago supremely embraced the grey hair lifestyle, and ALSO has an autoimmune disease (which is thankfull in remission) this video rly resonated with me.

two months in

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How do people who stage elaborate scenes around their sleeping children do it? I couldn’t take one pic with these donut holes in a halo arrangement without Nicky’s flailing arms sending them rolling across the room.

“donut holes in a halo arrangement” …I need to reexamine my life.

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At two months old Nicky is fully recovered from his nasty experience with meningitis. He regained all the weight he lost while he was sick and is now 5.32kg, 58cm tall and has a head circumference of 40cm. He usually sleeps through the night for six or seven hours at a time and is therefore the world’s best baby. He likes his Rockaroo now and is best friends with the mobile. He likes being carried in the Ergo but dislikes being put in the Ergo (babies are complicated). He often shows off his dimple by smiling at his favourite people, and will sometimes reward us for doing something funny with a breathy little giggle. He loves to snuggle and he still hates tummy time.

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shark bait hoo ha ha

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I swear I bought a new ornament this year that isn’t a deer.

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A few years ago I bought a large wicker basket to use in lieu of a tree skirt. I really liked it; tree skirts are a pita imo; always getting mussed up by pets and kids and sucked into the vacuum cleaner. However, the basket somehow vanished from my storage room after just one Christmas so I had to go buy a new one this week because fuck a tree skirt, honestly. I needed something at least 21″ in diameter to accommodate the tree stand and all I could find was one that was one miserable inch too small, and this fricking enormous one, oops.

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Tried to get a nice picture of her with our Christmas wreath…

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All I care about right now is my skincare regimen. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

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This is just beyond. I mean come on.

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Shark-shaped baby sleeping bag from AliExpress.

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the storm before the calm

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Right before Nicky falls asleep is when he tends to have his biggest fusses. You can’t do anything about it; he’s not wet, or hungry, or in need of cuddles. He’s a really good sleeper so he’s not even overtired. It doesn’t happen every time, but usually once a day he’ll cry and yell before passing out, hard, for a good long while.

• • •

Now that we’ve all mostly gotten back into our regular sleep/work/life routine after the drama of last week, I can focus on the holiday season! I had planned to make a spreadsheet to plan & organize the kids’ gifts but I have somehow managed to accidentally buy most of them already? With the combination of all my recent stress and being stuck in the house due to illness I’ve been doing quite a bit of online shopping, and as it turns out have gotten quite a few things for the kids. WHO KNEW. We still have to pick up a couple of things but it’s all pretty much planned out, so now I only need to decide what to get Taylor.

Sym is at her dad’s for actual Christmas this year so we’re doing Mini-Christmas with her in mid-December. My and Taylor’s Christmas pajamas haven’t arrived yet but the kids’ have (see below for a sneak peek…), so we’ll open those, and build all our holiday Lego sets (including maybe a NEW set…). We usually watch Elf on Mini Christmas but we have tickets to the Enchant Christmas light maze so we might not have time. The Christmas Elf may also stop by to leave candy in our shoes if everyone’s room is clean.

I’ll probably start setting up the Christmas tree this weekend; I like to stagger the set up and decoration over a few weeks (just tree; tree+lights; tree+lights+ornaments) to try to get the kids used to it so they are less likely to pull everything off of it. This technique has worked with every child I’ve had in my house EXCEPT for Gwen, but hopefully this year she will be a little less destructive? She’s been a little sassy lately with climbing the furniture, taking things she shouldn’t and making huge messes. Last year we couldn’t put any presents under the tree because she kept unwrapping them all, and just two weeks ago she did the same with her birthday presents so I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes.

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back home

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BC Children’s Hospital discharged Nicky this morning and he’s home now! It’s such a relief to have him back here. It has been seriously so scary and stressful, like his first car ride was in an ambulance and my first night away from him he was in the hospital with a mystery illness? NOT COOL, DO NOT RECOMMEND. After all the tests and he was diagnosed with parechovirus yesterday, and because the virus was found in his CSF he actually has meningitis. Viral meningitis usually isn’t very serious but because of his age there is a greater risk of serious complications. We have instructions to go back to Children’s right away if he gets sick again but hopefully he just continues to improve. He hasn’t had a fever in over 24 hours now and Taylor said his behaviour has been much more normal (he’s mostly just been sleeping since he got home, which is also normal behaviour for him). We have a few follow-up appointments in the coming weeks, including a hearing test (for the meningitis, it can cause hearing loss as well as other neurological problems, so keep your fingers crossed for us) this Friday afternoon, but the rest of the time I’m keeping him snuggled up right next to me, where he belongs.

how you can help

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If you follow me on social media you are prob caught up with what’s been going on in our lives, but if you missed it, Nicky is sick and is currently being treated for a high fever caused by a mystery illness at BC Children’s Hospital. The doctors think it’s a urinary tract infection but we don’t know for sure and we don’t know when he can come home. I’m really too exhausted (in every possible way) to type everything out again but you can catch up on my instagram. Also thank you so much to everyone who has reached out to us in the past couple days. While I can’t reply to every comment and message, I read them all and it really means so much to know you are all out there rooting for our family.

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I did want to make this post because a lot of people have asked if they can donate money or giftcards to help us out. While I am super appreciative of these offers it really isn’t necessary; the only help I actually needed was with transportation here in Vancouver, and my amazing friend Mark has offered to drive Gwen and I back and forth for visits every day while Taylor stays with Nicky in the hospital. We have universal healthcare that covers 100% of Nicky’s care, and I’m only missing two days of work; Gwen needs one of us here with her so after taking Monday and Tuesday off I’m going to start work again on Wednesday. It’s actually good for me to have things to do to stay busy, I start melting down when I’m not occupied by something; this afternoon I had my 6-week post c-section check up and I started crying in the obgyn’s waiting room because a Sarah McLachlan song was playing on the radio, and then John Legend came on and it was like GAME OVER, MAN.

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Anyway. If you would like to do something for me & my family, you can help us by helping others. Instead of donating to me, making a donation in honour of Nicky to a cause that helps children in need. Two suggestions I have are the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, because they are taking such good care of my little guy, and the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, an organization in Southern California that provides pro bono legal representation to unaccompanied immigrant children in removal proceedings. Thank you.

sick days

Gwen is mostly on the mend from her HF&M disease, but I keep getting sicker and sicker. I can’t stop coughing and sneezing and groaning horribly, and in a super weird twist no matter how many mugs of cinnamon tea with apple and/or honey whisky I drink I continue to feel awful. I JUST DON’T GET IT. Today I had to make the huge bummer decision of cancelling the girls’ birthday party on Saturday afternoon; I just don’t feel up to playing hostess, even to our families, this weekend At All. Instead we’re going to have a birthday pancake breakfast for Sym on Saturday morning and a birthday dinner for Gwen on Tuesday evening.

Hopefully I will get over this miserable cold soon and be able to enjoy what’s left of autumn in the weeks to come. I missed most of it; the rough end of my pregnancy followed by the last four weeks of c-section recovery didn’t afford a lot of opportunities for long walks in the forest to admire the foliage. I’ve definitely been getting a little stir crazy and will take any excuse to just get outside, like on Monday when I went and bought a new broom and spent an hour sweeping and scooping and spraying all the dirt and leaves off the stairs, a chore I normally avoid like the plague. In retrospect it probably wasn’t the best choice to make, health-wise, but the stairs look great!

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