Monday, December 29, 2008

It's all just a blur now

We spent the better part of last week making merry. Trips to visit various family members, the opening of many presents and eating of much food... Christmas at its best. I posted several photos to Flickr (link on the right sidebar) but I have been shutter-happy this month and hit my upload quota, and though I'm thinking of upgrading to a pro account, I am not going to pay to do so when there are only three days left in the year. So the photos abruptly stop midway through Christmas day, but yes, I think you get the point.

I also have reams of video to go through, etc. All this memory-keeping sure is keeping me busy. I actually started making a little book of some of our holiday activities, the same way I did last year, but I just plain ran out of steam. The single photo per event and limited amount of space to say anything about it was cramping my style this year. And then a couple days ago, I decided to whip up a little Blurb book to summarize our holidays, and it was done in a night - all 48 pages of it. We made a few Blurb books as Christmas gifts, and they turned out well, and are so easy to make. Just waiting for a coupon code to come along now before I upload it and print it. I'll link it here when it goes live.

After Christmas wound down, we spent a kid-free afternoon in Windsor, picking up a few needed items during Boxing Week sales, finding a rug we could both agree on for the dining room during a lucky trip to Homesense, having a yummy lunch at Cora's and then seeing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which I figured would probably not be to Chad's taste, but I thought the allure of Brad Pitt would make him agreeable to the idea). I bawled during the entire last hour of the movie, but the two hours before that were pretty slow at times. Chad found all three hours to be slow.

Yesterday we were supposed to head out of town to our last family get-together for Christmas 2008, but we had that wicked wind storm pass through here. We woke up sometime after 4 a.m. to what sounded like a freight train running past the house. Nope, just the wind - which they clocked over 100 km/hr at the airport. It was strong enough that it collapsed half of the house that is going up next to us right now (at the framing stage right now), and the construction debris was whipping around our yard like missiles. The portajohn landed a few feet away from our north wall. Our neighbour came out to rig up a stake for his 20-foot evergreen tree, which had started to uproot, and several people in our neighbourhood lost chunks of their roofs. Mallory was up too, and since we all lost several hours of sleep and there was a travel advisory on the weather channel, and we already had one crazy drive this holiday season that lasted much longer than expected - I didn't want what was already going to be a six-hour round-trip to be any longer - we decided to stay home for the day. So here we sit, with a full tank of gas and a pan full of uneaten dessert and some gifts that never got opened. But at least we are in one piece.

The tree has been packed up, the stockings and garland and lights cleared off the mantle, and we are still working at getting the last of the holiday sugar cookies out of the house (a tough job, but I have volunteered to look after it). Looking forward to some new beginnings on January 1st.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A present from me to you

Some holiday tuneage. These rotate heavily on my iTunes list while I wrap presents and delay the inevitable wrapping of presents by making headway on My Big Project (progress report to come after the holidays... I hope!)

It's funny how I'll listen to a holiday song from an artist I would never give my time to the other 11 months of the year. :)

Merry merry

Things are winding down for the holidays now. We spent the past three days out of town (some long and snowy drives, but we made it!) and are now settling in at home for the remainder of the week. I made a grocery store run this morning and only forgot one thing, so we are settled - or nearly so.

Chad is starting to feel rotten... just hoping he's not coming down with something right in time for Christmas. Good grief, it seems like everyone and their dog has been sick since the end of October, doesn't it?

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas - I hope Santa is good to you all. :) Very much looking forward to Christmas morning in our house this year... it's going to be a fun one.

Friday, December 19, 2008


What we're in right now.
Really - they're calling it that in the media.
(And the media is never wrong, right? :P)
We made it into the office.
It's pretty empty here, though.
The drive home might be a little more difficult.
More to come on Sunday.
And again on Wednesday.
It's gonna be a white Christmas for sure.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sunset on Braemar Blvd

We picked up the police car puzzle today. ($14.99 and not even in a BOX. I guess I will need to rig up a box with a complete image of the police car for Liam to follow.)
An eBay purchase for Mallory - her last outstanding gift - came in the mail yesterday.
The last-minute family Secret Santa gift has been purchased.
Liam is going to help me wrap some gifts he will be giving... tonight, maybe?
Though, we have presents from Cindy at home waiting for the kids, and he may lose all interest in wrapping once he sees there is unwrapping to do. :)
Girlfriend gifts are wrapped and ready to go.
Extended family gifts are wrapped and ready to go.
Kids stuff... all wrapped I think... though if anything doesn't fit into a stocking at the last minute, we'll have to wrap that and stick it under the tree as well.
Chad's stuff... not wrapped yet, and he knows where it is all hiding. Stay out of the cupboard, Chad!!
Still need to spend $5 on a gift at Dollarama (yes, it must come from Dollarama). No idea what to buy yet. :)
Last day of work tomorrow. Three days of travel to follow, then a blissed-out lazy stretch at home. I have a bunch of minor projects and one major project to work on over the holidays. Hoping to make some headway.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Find of the week, month, year... and inspiration

I bought myself an early Christmas present. Ever since we moved, I have had a pile of 'stuff' sitting in the office/craft room just waiting for a home... scrapbooks, fabric, paints, art supplies of all kinds. And we've debated the merits of various bargain units from Zellers/Expedits from IKEA/other assorted storage containers. I was on the verge of breaking down and buying some formaldehyde-emitting particleboard-based retail piece of crap that would at least get MY crap off the floor, and then... I saw the ad in the paper this week, for a vintage laboratory cabinet with glass doors, and I knew I'd found what I wanted.

I've written about my love of vintage metal cabinets before, and thought this might be a similar treasure. When I called the number in the ad, the guy I talked to was a bit incoherent, and he wanted me to meet him at an old, closed-down sugar mill to see the cabinet. I brought Chad along for the trip - wandering into a dark, deserted factory with a whack job stranger sounded like a very Jeffrey Dahmer-esque way to meet my end. The whack job even stood me up for our first appointment, but I called back and he met me later the same day. It was love at first sight. (The cabinet, people, not the whack job.)This thing is four feet wide and seven feet tall, with lots of adjustable shelves, thick glass doors that glide smoothly on the tracks, and a beautiful 1940s jade green colour that you just don't find anymore. It's not for everyone, but I think it's beautiful. Chad had his doubts but is coming around now that I have scrubbed the sugar residue off of it and loaded it up with some stuff. Bryce helped Chad heft it up the stairs, and I don't think he will ever come around, but that's OK. It's not to everyone's taste. I get that. :)

The top shelves are still empty because we need to bolt this sucker to the wall before I fill it any further - it is heavy as all get out, and would certainly crush one of the kiddos if they were able to tip it over. We're not taking any chances.It's a good thing my little craft room (sorry, Chad... OUR home office) is all fixed up now, because I just received a shipment of fabric this week (here are 6 pieces out of 34). I have a project to work on in the coming months, and I can't wait to get started.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A note from the workshop

Santa just took matters into her own hands, uploaded a stock police car photo to Photolab and created a custom 110 piece puzzle for pickup in 5 business days.

Problem solved. Let's just hope the Photolab elves are on time this year.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

A couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that winter is upon us, the central heating is on and we could all do with a little more humidity in our lives. So after Mallory's bath, I lathered her up with some Burt's Bees lotion that was, in fact, part of a baby gift basket we received when she was born.By the next morning she was red and scaly all over, and itching like mad. I guess instead of fending off the eczema she contended with last year, I brought it on. We have spent the past two weeks drastically reducing the number of baths she has and slathering her in Aveeno Baby, which is supposed to be great for baby eczema and does indeed seem to help.Yesterday morning she was in a completely foul mood, despite having had lots of sleep the night before and despite us catering to her every whim. We went to the Roberts family get-together yesterday afternoon and I was worried; if she was so cantankerous at home in the morning, how would she make it through an afternoon social event slated for the exact time she was supposed to be sleeping?She did fine at the get-together (catching a quick catnap on my shoulder to help her through it). But it all suddenly made sense when we got her home last night and changed her into her pajamas, and I discovered that she had two terrible raw, red patches of eczema behind her knees. Seriously, it looked like someone sat her on a stove burner or something. No wonder she was so miserable. I don't know how we missed that when we got her dressed in the morning, but we did.It was time to bring out the big guns. I still had some prescription hydrocortisone cream socked away, and though I hate using anything that's prescribed by a doctor who tells you to really avoid using it whenever possible - not exactly words to make you feel warm and fuzzy about what you're giving your kid, right? - I put some on her. And this morning, the areas do look much much better.

Unfortunately, this morning she has a terrible, hacking cough to make up for it. I went so far as to give her a half dose of cough syrup before sending her out the door this morning. They may not recommend it anymore based on the number of parents out there overdosing their kids, but I think I can handle reading the label and measuring appropriately. I didn't do all those titration labs in university for nothing.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Saturday afternoon

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hard at work

Since our little guests were more interested in playing with Liam and Mallory's toys during our party last weekend than they were in doing holiday-type activities, I still had a little craft kit tucked away in the cupboard after the party was over. It came in very handy this week when I was at home with an invalid Liam. Unable to walk or get down on the floor with his beloved cars, trucks and puzzles, the craft kit was a godsend.It's a little kit with all the components necessary to make 36 foam puppets-on-a-popsicle-stick: 9 each of a reindeer, snowman, gingerbread man and penguin. Liam started out by stating that he was going to make one of each. The pieces were all pre-cut, the googly eyes and pom poms came in the kit, and it was easy enough for him to tackle on his own. (Mallory tried too, with limited success, and she didn't really want my help.... eventually, she wandered back over to the Legos.)Liam can be a little too generous with the glue.Well, the boy is now on a personal quest to make all 36 puppets in the box. There is something about the gluing and the assembly of these puppets that he is just enamoured with. Before he went to bed on Wednesday night, he told me that he was going to assemble 3 more puppets while I cooked dinner on Thursday and a fourth after dinner. Unfortunately for him, all I did for dinner on Thursday night was heat up a can of soup, cut up some vegetables and plate some cheese and crackers - i.e. dinner did not take as long to cook as he'd hoped. No worries; he got right back to it after we had eaten. Right now there are about thirty sticky, messy popsicle stick characters and puddles of dried-up glue scattered all across the kitchen island, and I am not allowed to put them away or clean it up until the last few are finished and laid out there as well. Let's hope this all happens in a timely fashion, because I've been reduced to doing my kitchen prep work on a tiny section of the outside counter now, and my patience is starting to wear thin. There may not be anything more extravagant than a can of soup for days to come unless the situation is resolved soon.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Can you guess what this is?

This is Liam's letter to Santa... a picture of what he wants this year. Can you figure out what it is (without cheating, please?) Hint: the yellow parts were his first stab at it... but as far as I can tell, he started over and then drew the real thing. So don't include them in your analysis.

Pants on fire

Liam (who, by the way, is back at Cindy's today after having made a full recovery) has turned into a little fibber lately. At first I would walk into the room, ask who spilled something and he would say it wasn't him (even though there was clearly nobody else around to do it). Now, I don't even have to ask - I walk into the room and he starts rattling off a list of things he hasn't done. They say around age 3-4 you can expect your child to start lying, not maliciously, but as a way of reinventing history - they wish they hadn't spilled their drink, so they say they didn't do it. So... he's a textbook case. I give him a gentle reminder that it's OK to let me know he's made a mistake so that I can help him clean it up, but I think the lying is something he will have to outgrow and it might take a while.

In a funny, related side note, I clearly remember one night when Mallory was just a few months old and Liam woke up from a bad dream and wanted me to cuddle him back to sleep... only I was already up feeding Mal, and had my hands full. Chad tried settling Liam down and he would have none of it - I remember him sobbing at me to put Mallory down and come to bed with him. Maybe the memory is so vivid because it only happened the once. Regardless, in a complete 180, he has now taken to randomly telling me that Mallory might need some help and I should go find her when he wants me out of the room so he can get up to mischief. This happened just yesterday, as Liam was helping me make peanut butter balls in the kitchen while Mallory was in the playroom. He suggested I go check on her and I did, knowing full well what his intention was. When I came back, I found him with chocolate from ear to ear, and he was already defending himself as I walked into the room: "I didn't have any chocolate while you were gone." And I think I saw his nose grow a couple inches.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

7 p.m. update

Now Mallory has an earache. Ugh.

(Someone who was here on Saturday left behind a Nestle Baby change pad... let me know if it's yours so I can return it!)


Yesterday goes down in the record books as one of my least favourite days of parenting thus far. I made Liam an appointment to see our family doctor for his sore knee, thinking I was just going to be told that he had pulled a muscle and sent home. But no. The initial diagnosis was transient synovitis of the hip, but after seeing Liam walk around a bit - and by this point (11:30 a.m.) he was really not even capable of walking - the doctor feared that it could possibly be septic arthritis of the hip which is pretty serious (as in, requires-IV-antibiotics-and-possibly-surgery-serious). We were immediately sent to the hospital for X-rays, blood tests, and a referral to a specialist.

After all of that, it turns out that Liam does only have the downgraded transient synovitis. In a nutshell, remember Liam's stomach bug from about two weeks ago?... well, the virus from that lingered in his body and settled into his hip joint, basically giving him a wicked case of inflammation and reducing his mobility to just about zero. He was in tears every time I had him in and out of the car, pulled his pants down so he could use the bathroom or be examined by a doctor, picked him up or set him down (and these things were all happening repeatedly all day long, since we were shuffling between appointments and he couldn't walk on his own.) Basically, anything that so much as nudged his hip just about drove him crazy. We did not get home from all of the appointments until dinner time, so there was no nap yesterday, either, which did nothing to help improve Liam's mood.

We have friends whose child has a critical illness, and for the past couple of years the hospital has been like a second home to them. I thought I was as sympathetic to their plight as I could be, but yesterday really drove it home to me even more how awful their situation is. The hours of waiting, the pain and uncertainty Liam faced, the scary X-ray machine, not to mention the blood tests - oh, man. He was a little trooper, but it was awful to put him through. And that was just one day, and just a few simple tests, and in the end the Rx we received was to go home, dose him with Motrin and wait a couple days for it to clear. He is much better today already, though he's still a bit gimpy so I am home with the kiddos for another day until he is really ready to face the world again.

I asked the doctor how common this is, because I had never even heard of it before, and he said that the last case he had seen was eight or nine months ago... and then Liam was the second kid he saw with it just yesterday. Maybe the strain of the flu that's making the rounds right now is particularly prone to lingering around; who knows. We're on the mend, anyway, and it could have been a lot worse. I'm very thankful to see Liam galloping around the house today, even if it is with a bit of a limp left in his step.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Decking the halls

This year we finally caved and bought an artificial tree. It's something we've been talking about doing for several years, and we finally made the leap. I must say, it was *so* easy to put up. Er... it looked like it was so easy for Chad to put up. And it's pre-lit, which meant no hours of wrestling with strings of lights... sweet! It's also a slimline, which means that we moved one end table in our living room, and the tree had a home - no rearranging the entire main floor on account of it. Gotta love that.As usually happens at our house, I took the kids out shopping last week and let them each pick out an ornament for 2008. Hmmm... I wonder what Liam chose??Yeah - Mr. Predictable. Mallory was pretty predictable, too. I thought I would get to pick out her ornament again this year since I got to choose one for Liam when he was 1, but it wasn't to be. She set eyes on a Pooh Bear ornament (after Liam was already running around with Spidey) and that was it - she would not set it down again. So home it came.I'm a big fan of the slightly dishevelled tree with lots of mismatched ornaments on it, but one thing I have been collecting for the past several years is these date-engraved locket ornaments from Pottery Barn. I put some of my favourite photos of the year in each one. It started before we had kids and is still going strong, but somehow I missed out on the 2006 ornament, and I'm still upset by it. I stalk eBay for one and I also hope that maybe one year, Pottery Barn will come out with a non-engraved ornament that I can then have engraved with the missing year. I can hope, right? This year my sister Steph was kind enough to pick the ornament up for me early in the season... 2008 is taken care of.Stockings go up after the tree is finished. I picked up these photo frame stocking holders last year after the holidays on clearance, and everyone asks about them. They're from the Superstore, but I don't know if they are carrying them again this year. At the same time as I got the stocking holders, I also picked up several strings of garland lights, intended for the stairs... but I don't think they're going up this year. I think, after a year spent planning, building, decorating, moving, and unpacking, that I am ready to keep it simple this year. There's always next year, right?The stockings themselves were handknit by Cheryle Hamilton (my sister's mother-in-law) when the kiddos were born, and they are still a big hit!So that's it. Today I am home with a 'sick kid' - Liam started complaining about a sore knee last night, and woke up in tears this morning, unwilling to put any weight on it. Ay yi yi. With 9 days left, it's not a great time to be missing work, but what can you do? So I'm home with both kids today, trying to get a doctor's appointment set up. The knee is hot to the touch so I'm thinking he's pulled a muscle in that area. Let's hope he gets better soon... having to miss his skating lesson tomorrow night is not going to go over well.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Holiday overdrive

We're in the thick of it now, this Christmas season, having reached the point of multiple holiday-related activities per week (and sometimes multiple activities per day - more on that later.) We had our children's party on Saturday. I took Friday off work - partly to prep for the party, partly just to spend a day home with the kids, and it was a wonderful day. There is just something so delicious about knowing that the rest of the world is continuing on without you and you are off doing your own thing. We went to to the grocery store for supplies, but aside from that one trip, we just puttered around the house. The backhoe was hard at work next door and about ten dump trucks of fill were delivered - that was entertainment enough for Liam (who kept running up to his bedroom, since the window there gives him a bird's eye view of all the activity) and Mallory (who discovered that she has the perfect vantage point from her seat at the kitchen table: "Backhoe! Backhoe!") It was snowing softly and we were decorating cupcakes and setting up the dining room with table cloths and paper plates; the preparation really was almost as much fun as the party.The final party tally was 11 kids under the age of 4 - and we survived! As much as I have loved our new house up to this point, admired the new colours and patterns and coziness they lend, enjoyed the new space and conveniences - none of it has made me as happy as being able to have this party. We would never have attempted something like it in our old house, and I am so glad that we can do it now. Liam was so excited to have all his friends come over. He talked about it all day Saturday after they cleared out - who enjoyed the crafts and who just wanted to play with his toys in the playroom instead, who ate almost nothing at lunch and who decorated the most cookies... it was priceless.We did do a craft - decorating little foam Christmas trees with stickers. I had a couple of other craft projects lined up and was worried that even that wouldn't last long enough to keep the kids entertained, but we never even got to them. Note to self: Liam loves doing little projects like this, but not all kids do... keep it simple next time. The kids don't need a lot of structure to be entertained!The other activity we did get around to was decorating cookies. Liam helped me bake and freeze all these cookies last weekend and he was so, so proud when we took them out of the freezer and let everyone decorate a few. This here is Mallory's handiwork...... and Liam's. You can always tell his work by following the jelly bean trail. :)

Here is our table full at lunch time (grilled cheese sandwiches: we made soup, too, then never wound up serving it, in part because lunch followed the cookie decorating, and we lost some appetites along the way.) Chad and I found this mammoth table at an antiques shop in the summer, and had them hold it until we moved into the new house. At the time, I never thought we would ever need a ten foot long table. But it fits the dining room perfectly and it held our crowd comfortably. So, so happy with it.Cousins Henry and Thomas came all the way from Toronto for the party, and spent the night with us. Henry and Liam are finally becoming little buddies - it's fun to watch.After the party, Chad and I both took a nap - we needed it! We'll be vacuuming little red and green sprinkles off the floors well into January I think, and the kitchen took the better part of the afternoon to clean up, but it was worth the effort. I hope this becomes an annual thing for us. Thank you to everyone who braved the snow and came out to our party. It meant so much to us to have you there!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Liam just got the biggest kick out of this (thanks Steph!)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

If you're reading this, you'll know I survived

This was the scene on Saturday night as we sat waiting for the Santa Claus Parade to begin. Liam thought this was just about the greatest thing ever, packing on the clothes and sipping a Tim Horton's candy cane hot chocolate while sitting in a lawn chair on a street corner in the dark. Mallory... not so much. She was OK when the parade started, but grew a little restless by the end.

(Yes, that's a can of soup at Liam's feet. The parade was collecting for the food bank.)

On Sunday morning, we took the kids to McDonalds for breakfast. This was not because we thought we needed a good healthy meal (ha!); it was because the kids had started a collection of the Madagascar toys from the Happy Meals, and wanted to get a few more. So off we went. Mallory and I split a Happy Meal that had four pancakes in it; she ate half of one, and I ate one and a half. Liam, on his own, had the other two pancakes, an English muffin with jam, sausage, eggs, and a hash brown. It was such a ridiculous amount of food that I couldn't stop laughing as I watched him eating it. I think maybe this just served to egg him on, because after he finished eating it was clear that he was uncomfortably full. Oh well... that'll learn him.

I'm taking the day off tomorrow, and Saturday is our kids' holiday party. You'd think that having the day off would allow me to get ready for the party but really, I would probably be further ahead to send the kids to daycare that day and keep us all out of the house! Oh well. The kids will be too busy having fun to notice that the house is a wreck, and their moms are too good of friends to let on that they do notice.

Sunday is our company's kids' Christmas party and it's also the day we're planning to put up the tree. Let the festivities begin!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Monster of a day ahead

Tomorrow, I have to get the kids to Cindy's on my own since Chad is out of town, make sure I am not late getting to work because I am doing a presentation for 3 departments, meet with my VP to justify why I should get half a million dollars to spend on my project next year, contact my clients whether I get the go-ahead or not to share the news (and hopefully start the procurement process that needs to be completed by next week - eep!), get Liam to skating on time, and then collapse into bed. Consider this my post for the day while I am otherwise engaged.

OK, back to Powerpoint I go. I must be going a little stir-crazy right now because I am actually enjoying listening to Miley Cyrus singing Christmas tunes as I work.

(Guess who is out of a car seat now??)

Not ready for his first exhibition just yet

I was so smitten with that Christmas tree that Liam drew the other day that, when we were out on the weekend running errands, I picked up a simple, cheap black document frame for it, and I popped it in when we got home. The drawing had been hanging on the magnet board in the mudroom, where it is prone to blowing down each time the garage door opens, and I thought it deserved some special care and preservation. I thought the drawing, frame and all, might get packed up in a rubber tote with all the Christmas decor in the new year, and that when Liam is 18 I could still pull it out each year and marvel at his little tree with the decorations and his earliest of signatures...

Well, then he saw his drawing in the frame. And he burst into tears.

I'm not sure what it is about the frame that has him so spooked, but the drawing is back on the magnet board, still blowing around each time the door opens, and the document frame is sitting empty. *Sigh* Chad tried explaining to him that we only frame the most special of pictures, and look around the house at all the other things in frames, etc., but Liam will have none of it.

I asked Liam if he would do a new Christmas drawing for me, one that I am allowed to put in the frame, and he said yes. But that was two days ago, and the drawing has yet to materialize. I may be out of luck on this one.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Dinner table conversation: now's about the time we start watching what we say in front of her

Liam: "Hey Mal, say plate!"
Mallory: "Plate!"
Liam "Hey Mal, say fridge!"
Mallory: "Fridge!"
Liam "Hey Mal, say house!"
Mallory: "House!"
Liam: "Hey Mal, say TV!"
Mallory: "TV!"
Liam "Hey Mal, say noodles!"
Mallory: "Noodles!"
Liam "Hey Mal, say broccoli!"
Mallory: "Broccoli!"
Liam: "Hey Mal, say couch!"
Mallory: "Couch!"
Me: "Hey Mal, say laparoscopic!"
Mallory: "Lap-ro-scop-ic!"