Friday, February 27, 2009


I didn't win first or second with my soup. (I don't know how the rest of the placings went and right now I think ignorance is bliss.) The whole pot was emptied though, so it's all good.

I didn't get The Reader - I am sharing my movie score with a friend and she has that one for now. I did, however, get Revolutionary Road - that's on taps for tomorrow night instead. All Kate Winslet is good, right? Screen time is 9 p.m. (i.e. right after I get Liam into bed and pour a drink) - if anyone wants to watch with me, you are most welcome to drop by. You think I jest when I invite you, but I don't. :)

The passport photos are required for The Cook Family Vacation 2009: we're going to see The Mouse! I'll fill you in (with passport photo outtakes, I'm sure) next week, I promise.

Our 23rd game of hide n seek this week

This morning I got up at the crack of dawn to make a pot of Crab and Corn Chowder. We're having a soup tasting/contest at work today. I have never brought anything in for something like this before, but I figured after working here for 12 years it's probably my turn to take a kick at the can. I am not such a fierce competitor that I am dying to win this contest... I am just praying that my soup will not come in last place. Send some positive thoughts my way - I am a bundle o' nerves over here.

As for the weekend, I have to get last weekend's newborn photos finished, burned to CD and delivered, and I have one more shoot on Sunday to cap off a month of weekly jobs. Nothing further scheduled right now and I am looking forward to the break! I also have three sewing projects that are each about 90% finished... I really need to learn to finish one thing before moving onto the next!... hoping to wrap some of those up this weekend (although at least one is waiting on fabric that is in transit to finish it). I am planning to take the kids for passport photos - Liam should be fine but, as with all things, it's Mallory I have to worry about. I am taking Liam to a birthday party on Sunday, and should be receiving a stack of movies from a friend today, so I hope there is time to fit a few of those in, too. Anyone want to come watch The Reader with me on Saturday night? Chad is having a Boys Night Out, so I guess it is Girls Night In. Oh, and the house needs to be cleaned - I kind of neglected it last weekend during the sewing frenzy, and it shows. So if you come to my movie night, please ignore the dust bunnies.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How to celebrate Chad's 35th(!)

Liam came home from skating last night with a letter to the parents that says the Figure Skating Club is putting on a 2-1/2 hour season finale show on April 3rd (which happens to be Chad's birthday)... is your son/daughter participating, yes/no?

On the one hand, Liam enjoys skating and I don't want to deny him any part of the experience. On the other hand, Liam skates at a snail's pace, as do most of the kids in his class, and it's really not reasonable to expect them to contribute them to the skating show in any meaningful way. And 2-1/2 hours... are you kidding me? I was thinking maybe they could give us the ten-minute time slot during which he might actually be on the ice and we would just show up for that, though I'm sure that's not how it works - I am sure there are rehearsals and getting the kids queued up and blah, blah, blah to worry about.

Given that it's Chad's birthday, I was kind of thinking we would be spending that night getting someone to watch the kids and I would be taking him out to a new BBQ joint in town to celebrate. Or maybe we'll be freezing our buns off for 2-1/2 hours at the rink. It could go either way.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Mardi Gras

Purple and green clothes? Check.
Strings of beads? Check.
Handmade masks and jester wands? Check.
Pancakes for lunch? Check.
It was a good Mardi Gras at Cindy's house... and I stopped on my way to work to pick up a box of paczkis. So it was a good day for me, too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mallory, right now

Last month when it was time to summarize what's new, I couldn't think of anything. But lately I have been making notes on Mallory left and right. I need to get them down before the 9th of the month rolls around and once again, I can't think of anything to say.

I alternately find Mallory completely exasperating and completely irresistible. She has a stubborn streak like nobody's business. She is more well-spoken now at 1 than I think I was when I was twelve. She is fearless. She's smart as a whip. On the weekend Chad announced that he was going to the gym, and left the house. Two minutes later I found her trying to get out the door with her rubber boots on. She said she was going to the gym to exercise. Now, Chad said he was going to the gym, but didn't specify that he was going to exercise. That she made that leap still astonishes me.
She still likes dancing to Beyonce and High School Musical, but what really gets her shaking her can is the "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat" party sequence in The Aristocats. Here she is dancing to it shortly after I told her she was not allowed to go to the gym. She's still sporting the rubber boots.

A few weeks ago, she instantaneously turned into a Daddy's Girl. Before then, she could take him or leave him. Now she is completely all over him. She wants him to dress her and read her bedtime story and brush her teeth, and when he comes in the door at the end of the day she throws herself at him. (At the same time she has picked up a few new sayings for me: namely, "Go away!" and "Get out!" Really.)

She runs into the kitchen from the playroom every two minutes while I make dinner: "Is supper ready? Is supper ready?" And then she never eats any of it.I have never seen her walk down the hall from the kitchen to the playroom or back again. It's a full-out sprint.

After the nine months of nightly grief when she was a baby, she was the world's best sleeper up until a couple of weeks ago. Now she is suddenly up every night, crying for me. Sometimes she settles back to sleep easily, and sometimes she's bereft when I leave. We're hoping this phase passes quickly. Me especially - it's causing my Oscars hangover to linger.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Of all the days to leave my camera at home.

Saturday was quite possibly one of the biggest days of young Liam's life. First, we went to swimming lessons, and he got his report card. He passed from Bobbers to Floaters! All two dozen or so skills had check marks in the boxes. After our skating report card, this was good news indeed. :)

On our way out of the Y after our lessons, we stopped to admire the fire trucks at the station across the road - they always bring them out on Saturday morning (for maintenance? To wash? - I'm really not sure.) And a kindly fireman who saw us invited us in for a private tour of the fire station. We spent the next 45 minutes climbing into fire trucks, checking out their equipment, seeing a fireman slide down the pole and a truck leave on a call (sirens on!)... I have to admit, it was really neat. I have never been in the fire station and even I thought it was all pretty interesting. The guy who gave us the tour was the nicest guy - he totally made Liam's day.

Of course I left my camera home on Saturday morning. I am kicking myself now.

I did get a few good photos later in the day, when we went to a birthday party at a local dance studio. It was Maggie's 3rd birthday and they were treated to a private dance lesson before we had pizza and cake. Here they are warming up. I have to say, the lesson was way over the heads of these kids... I don't think they know what popping their shoulders means. But they had a lot of fun.After the warmup, it was time for ballet. The instructor brought out a box of tutus and Liam went for one along with all the girls... who was I to stop him?This is potential blackmail material, I know. These pictures might resurface 25 years from now during Liam's wedding slideshow. You saw them here first.
After the ballet, the kids all put on headsets and they danced to a song called "Pop Princess". Liam was allowed to do a gangster nod instead of doing the "I'm a pop... pop... pop princess" line.After that, the instructor clued in that the oldest kid in the room was 6 and really... these complex choreographed routines were way over their heads. So she brought out a box of coloured scarves and let the kids run around with them. Big, big hit!! They certainly slept well Saturday night.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Creative thinking

Liam, we said... why is your construction worker riding on top of a car?

He's not a construction worker, Liam replied. He's the zamboni driver and he's clearing the ice for the hockey player potato head. And he's wearing a helmet in case he falls off his zamboni onto the ice, so he doesn't hurt his head.

I tried to rent High School Musical 3 at 2 different video stores tonight, but both had already been cleaned out by the teenyboppers. So I am sewing instead. It's a kick-ass Friday night indeed.

Oops! ...I did it again. (Subtitle: Don't let me try anything new, like, ever again.)

Here's another little project I started last weekend and got *almost* finished last night. I have been saving my very favourite old baby clothes for years now, and always intended to make a memory quilt from them. Or have the quilt made for me - I was none too confident in my own abilities. Well, having finished Mallory's quilt gave me the confidence I needed to start cutting up her cute little old things. I decided to make a coin quilt from them since it wouldn't require large pieces of fabric (her newborn things are so small!) I also think it's a contemporary design, which I quite like. Anyway, I cut the pieces from her clothes and did some judicious editing. First, this quilt is made entirely of knit fabrics, like onesies. (I still have all my favourite wovens - little dresses and the like - stashed in a basket in my craft cupboard; I am almost certain to make something with them, too.) Secondly, I got rid of a few pieces. The little turquoise paisley jumper was one of my favourite outfits on her, but the turquoise just stuck out like a sore thumb among all the pinks and purples. So it hit the cutting room floor, too. I am sure that some of you who gave us baby clothes to use will recognize some of the pieces in this quilt - there are a lot of Sydney's hand-me-downs, for one thing. But Mallory wore those clothes a ton, and when I see them now it totally reminds me of her when she was so small. So I hope you don't mind that I chopped your donations up and threw the scraps away. :P

This quilt is small, just a little crib-sized version, which - given that we gave away our crib a few weeks ago - is ironic. But it's not really meant to be used for anything; it's just a keepsake. It is far from flawless, but I'm still happy with how it's going. I just need to bind it now (a process I am hoping takes less than two weeks like the last quilt - that's the advantage of crib-sized, I guess!) I would like to find a pink and white ticking stripe to do the binding. No luck so far, so I may sit on it a while before I get that done.

In the meantime, I have a few other projects I can get started on if I'm looking for something to do this weekend. Here's a hint for one of them:

Well, crap, I just accidentally deleted the photo. But it was of a pile of blue baby clothes. I'm sure you see where this was heading.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Business is booming

Here's how I spent part of this past weekend - doing this shoot, and the subsequent post processing. I was approached by a coworker to do the session as a gift for another coworker who had twins back in December. Can you believe these little munchkins are almost two months old already? They were still teeny tiny, and so well behaved. In hindsight, once I figured out how to tell them apart, I think I included way more individual shots of Bella than I did of Chase in this video. When I burned the final image CD for them, I added a few more of Chase to balance things out.

For February I have four shoots scheduled, three of them being newborns. There must be something in the water! I still do this by word of mouth only and this pretty much convinces me that I don't need to do any sort of advertising. As a side business and not my main job, it's keeping me plenty busy. I'm working on establishing some policies and workflow enhancements that will help to minimize the time I spend on each job. Just as necessity is the mother of invention, so volume seems to be the mother of efficiency.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quality time

A few years ago, the Ontario government decided to give us a stat holiday called Family Day in February. Never one to complain about a day off work, I happily accept it and will even willingly spend time with my family in order to justify the not going to work part.On this particular Family Day, we decided to go to the Children's Museum in London. We'd never been before but thought the kids might finally be old enough for it. Little did we know that they are the perfect ages for it... Liam loved all the activities, and Mallory just enjoyed running wild among so many other kids. I'm sure they will be the 'perfect' ages for it for some time to come. They will get even that much more out of it once they are old enough to read the exhibits on their own, etc.
My favourite part was the whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling in the cafeteria.Mallory's favourite was going down the slide in the treehouse about 25,000 times. You'd think she'd never been on a slide before in her life.This winter has been all about skidoos for Liam. Living across the road from a field, backing onto parkland and with an empty lot beside us... every time it snows, there is a constant stream of skidoos zipping past our house. So he was thrilled to have a chance to get on one at the Arctic exhibit.

He also insisted on waiting in line behind 20 kids to have a turn on a Plasma Car, even though he has his own in the basement. It figures. (Yes, the Children's Museum is a madhouse on Family Day!)The dinosaur bones were pretty cool, too.

After the museum we went for lunch at East Side Mario's and what do you know? - kids ate free for Family Day. So I guess we picked the right spot.

Coming up this week: what I did on my weekend, a multi-part saga. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Woot! for long weekends

Supposedly, they are getting treat boxes ready for their daycare friends. I think I spy a few chipmunk cheeks here though - I don't believe for one second that all the candy made it into the boxes.

Yesterday was an eventful day around these parts, with a lot of flooding closing local roads as the Thames and Sydenham rivers overflow their banks. The water level in our local creek rose quite a bit on Saturday and Sunday, but there's a pumphouse at the other end that was pressed into service, and by Monday morning the water level had dropped significantly. Our basement is still dry, so all is well.

Today the kids have a Valentine's party at Cindy's house, and I have a few holiday surprises lined up for them tomorrow as well. Liam swims in the morning and then I have a photo shoot to do in the afternoon. On the way home I am hoping to pick up something spectacular for dinner... haven't quite decided what yet. Whatever looks fresh and yummy (surf? turf? who knows). The rest of the weekend should be fun and relaxing. This is our third year (???) with the Family Day stat holiday on Monday. I still can't quite get used to a holiday weekend in the middle of winter, but far be it from me to complain. I have to pass the fabric store on my way home from my shoot tomorrow, and I have a feeling I might stop in to pick up a couple things. Hoping I can make headway on the photo editing and still put those things to use before the weekend is out... and of course, most if not all of this will have to happen during naptimes and at night. I've added a fifth project to the queue. Have I ever mentioned that I have a tendency to take things to the extreme??

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not keeping up

Today is February 11th, which means that, in addition to it being Jenn's real birthday (happy day, Jenn!), it's two days past Mallory's 22nd month birthday. Which didn't even occur to me until last night. I started out taking pictures of the kids on their monthly milestones, then relented and just did a write-up of the month and accompanied it by photos culled from the previous four weeks - and now the days are passing pretty much unmarked. I've been sitting here all morning, trying to think of what to say about Mallory this month, and I am coming up empty-handed. I have a few of her more memorable quotes, and the funny way she asks to watch The Aristocats (calling it "Aris-ti-ti-ti-cats"). I've made mention of the Vaseline shenanigans and the move into a big girl bed and the nightly request to dance to 'Single Ladies' 3 or 4 times in a row. And now I am stumped.

I am not entirely surprised that this is happening now, because I stopped these little monthly wrapups for Liam when he turned 2 years old, and though I've documented the big and little stuff since then, the means of doing so has changed over time. It's evolved into a simpler, less decorative, easier to manage form of record keeping. Partly this happened naturally; with more milestones under his belt, there was less to take note of. And partly it happened in a quest to be present in the present, to enjoy it as it passes. There are only so many hours in the day and I feel like I am being spread increasingly thin. Something had to give.

Of course... maybe it's just that I have some other things to attend to. I have four sewing projects in the queue and some around-the-house settling-in tasks still to tackle (there are vignettes still to arrange and some big blank walls still to fill, and the walls that do have frames do not necessarily contain what will be their final contents - more on that later). I have the kids' birthdays to start thinking about. And I'm daydreaming of summer. I went outside for a run on the weekend for the first time in months, and the to-do list instantly melted away, if only for a while. When I was out in the sun, it felt like all was right in the world.

Well, except for that crazy octuplet mom. She's still a whack-a-doo.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Last night I made a quick trip out to Value Village during one of their half off sales. I have a thing for old pressed glass and after buying my first few pieces of it at antiques shops, I realized that Value Village sells an amazing amount of old kitchen glassware. Not all of it is even all that old, but if it's a nice pattern then I really don't mind if it's ca. 1970 rather than ca. 1930. I have a pretty solid collection of vases and serving trays built up but I am always game for more - especially when they are only a couple of dollars each. Our party on the weekend got me thinking that (a) if I had a few more pieces, I would actually put them to use and (b) I never got around to styling half the glass front cupboards in the kitchen - simply because I don't have enough 'stuff' to put in them. Time to remedy that.

So with all that justification under my belt, I made a successful trip. Given the fact that their doors had opened 11 hours earlier, and that the economy is in the tank - the store was pretty picked over. But I still came home with *6* things. (Ironically, I'd just finished a conversation with my sister about how much she hates clutter. Me, I hate bare walls and surfaces. Sometimes I don't even think we are related):

- a small rectangular pressed glass serving tray - so far most of my pieces are (a) large and (b) round. Trying to break it up a bit.
- a ruffled milk glass compote, which exactly matches one I received as a gift at Christmas. Now I can use them as a pair.
- a glass refrigerator dish and lid, which also exactly matches one I already have. I love picking up matching pieces like this. I think I paid around $10-$15 for the first one. Zoinks! I use these to store little things around the house, since they are really too pretty to hide away in a dark fridge; but one day I would love to trash all the Tupperware and use these for food leftovers, too, the way they were intended to be used.
- a small glass serving bowl that exactly matches a large glass serving bowl I already have. Funnily enough, I got the large bowl from ValVill too, a couple months ago. I wonder now if someone dropped both bowls off to them at the same time and I just missed the little guy when I picked up the big guy?
- an old blue glass mason jar. I love these jars when the glass is a nice turquoise colour, and this one has a pretty starburst on the glass lid, too.
- underneath it all... a shabby old floral print in a nicely distressed wood frame. What really drew me to it, though, was the mint green mat around the print. Same mint green as my old laboratory cabinet. I'm looking to decorate the office around that cabinet, so this fit the bill.

Total price for all six pieces, including 13% PST/GST? $5.82!! Definitely a good trip. I ran everything but the print through the dishwasher last night (I know, I know. If it were valuable old glassware I would hand wash it - but at this price, I am willing to risk it, especially to get a nice thorough first cleaning in) and now it's all ready to be put away until our next party and/or styled into a pretty little vignette.

Here's what greeted me when I came home last night - Mallory was upstairs with Chad, having dissolved into a tickle fight after having her diaper changed. Liam was hanging out by himself, watching a hockey game on TV while dressed up as Spiderman. He informed me that he'd had the mask on at first, but that it is too uncomfortable for watching TV.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Wasn't that a party...

On the weekend we invited 30 people over for a baby shower for Chad's cousin Jeff and his wife Leslie. Because the guys were involved, there were clear instructions not to include any doilies or ribbons or lace in the event. This was a huge blow to me, but I think we managed to pull it off nonetheless.We didn't swath the house in streamers and balloons. In fact, a few pots of spring bulbs were pretty much the only decoration around. That, plus a loaded-up food table, which might not be decorative per se, but always looks good, right? We also promised Jeff and Leslie (who wanted things kept relatively low key) that we would not embarrass them by measuring out her girth in toilet paper squares and making them guess what kind of chocolate bars we had melted into diapers. (Who ever came up with stuff like that for entertainment in the first place? Yeesh.) We couldn't not coordinate any entertainment though, so we did plan a few games. Here, Chad is playing Bob Barker in a baby-themed rendition of The Price is Right. We also did baby-themed Name That Tune and a celebrity baby name quiz. Jennifer won that one. She must read Us Weekly and In Touch as much as I do.Megan only came for the cupcakes. :)She wasn't the only one though... Mallory was all over them, too. Mal was a little trooper... she skipped her nap completely and was a real party animal all day long. At 8 p.m. that night she was running laps of the house in her pajamas, and every time she ran through the kitchen she would yell to the crowd, "I'm running! I'm running!" What more entertainment could you ask for?And yes, internet, even though the invitation said the party was from 1-4 p.m., the first guests arrived at 12:30 p.m. and the last ones left sometime after 11 p.m. I would say that was a fairly successful party. And if you need any more proof of that, look no further than our kitchen counter:For the first time since we have had it, our bar fridge is completely empty.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Another Mallory-ism

Said this morning, as I walked into her room to find her lying in bed, listening to her birds and reading her Disney princesses story book:

"Close door! I tired, I still sleeping!"

Thursday, February 05, 2009

How Mallory eats pizza

Notice the pile of veggies on the table to her left. They get stripped off the pizza before she digs in.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


  • Tonight's episode of Lost is called The Little Prince. So now my favourite show is tying into my favourite book! Hmmmm. Last week was excellent - I loved the young Charles Widmore.
  • This morning, when I asked Mallory what she wanted for breakfast, she said, "Chicken and noodles and peas." Which is the exact meal I served to her for dinner last night. Which is the exact meal that she barely touched when it was served to her. She got a bowl of cereal instead.
  • Mallory has taken to calling me Mom-Mom. When I walk in the door at Cindy's: "There's Mom-Mom!" I love this. I have never been called Mommy - both Liam and Mallory went straight from speaking in gibberish to calling me Mom (I suppose Mallory learned this from Liam; who knows where Liam learned it from). So I will enjoy it while it lasts.
  • I think both of my kids are getting a little too set in their ways. Generally, I make dinner for the family. Mallory now talks about this when I go pick her up from Cindy's - she will say she will go home and watch Happy Feet and mom will make supper. Liam came out with it a little more bluntly a few days ago, as we were assembling Mallory's new bed. It ran into dinner time and I suppose he was starting to get hungry because he turned to me and said, "Go make supper now." I got his point, but told him in no uncertain terms not to bark orders to me like that again.
  • This picture was taken on Sunday morning. While some people may have been saving their appetites for Superbowl parties later in the day, we were in the midst of a big Sunday morning breakfast as we usually are when one of the Grand Slam tournaments comes to an end. This time, we were watching the men's final of the Australian Open.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A scene we'll be seeing a lot more of

On the weekend we moved Mallory out of her crib and into a big-girl bed. Incidentally, this big-girl bed is a daybed from IKEA that I bought ~10 years ago after realizing I could not fit a regular sofa up the narrow staircase into my second-story circa 1895 apartment. Good thing we kept it even after I moved to a ground floor apartment with a bigger door.

The crib is being passed along to family, and since their little one is on the way soon, Mallory got her eviction notice. We were ready for it. I've had the duvet for a year now, the sheets for nearly as long, and the quilt just finished last week. I did have a bed skirt for her but only realized after opening the package that it can't be used on a daybed - there is no skirt along one of the short ends. EBay, here it comes. (This may be just as well; I'm thinking some under-bed storage baskets might be a good idea.) We needed to order a new mattress for her, and we also picked up a new bed rail (Liam's was red and royal blue - went fine in his little boy room, but would be an eyesore in here.) We let Mallory sleep in her crib for her nap on Saturday afternoon and then made the switch after she woke up.

Of course, the challenge that this presents is that she can now get out of bed at will. And man, does she ever have a strong will. On Saturday night I put her to bed and did not hear another word from her - I think the fact that her room is dark helps to keep her where she belongs.

Unfortunately, the same did not hold true when she went for her nap on Sunday afternoon. Two hours after she was put down, we found her sitting on the floor in her room, with a giant tub of Vaseline that she found only goodness knows where, Vaseline caked all over her face and hair and clothes and most of all, rubbed all over the Care Bear sitting on the floor beside her. She clearly hadn't slept at all but had spent two hours playing with lubricant. Thank goodness she kept it off the carpet - there were a few small spots on the area rug, but the wall-to-wall is intact. I was prepared to put her back to bed 20 times each night after she realizes she can get out, but I was not prepared for shenanigans like that.

I'm sure the putting her back to bed part is still coming.

Monday, February 02, 2009

And a picture to go with my rant

We had a playdate with the Fifes at the Early Years centre on Saturday morning, which consisted of the kids moving from activity to activity at breakneck speed, and then we took them to a diner for lunch - a term which I use loosely, because it consisted of pancakes, french fries, and a bowl of ice cream for dessert. Kid heaven, in other words. The good news is that Mallory was asleep before I pulled out of the diner driveway, and even Liam was in the mood for some downtime on Saturday afternoon as a result. I then force-fed them strawberries and broccoli for the rest of the day to make up for the lack of nutrients at lunch.

(Here we are all packed into one tiny little diner booth, because Liam balked at the idea of sitting across the aisle from me at another table, and Mallory, well, she can't be trusted to do anything on her own.)

The economy SUCKS!

First, it was Blueprint.

Then Domino.

And now... my beloved Wondertime is closing up shop. Honestly, this is my favourite magazine out there... I simply love Catherine Newman's writing, and dove into her article head first each month. This month she wrote about talking about the birds and the bees with your kids... it was hilarious, poignant, and spot-on. I even ordered a book she recommended. Wahhhhhh!