Thursday, April 29, 2010

Officially done

Waffle making

Last night Mallory was talking excitedly about the weekend. "Is it the weekend?" she said. "No, tomorrow is your last day at Cindy's and then it's the weekend," I replied. (Short week this week.) "But it is tomorrow," she said. (Not sure what she was getting at there.) Then she said, "Will you spend all weekend with me?" I reassured her that I would, and she talked about it for some time, and then said, "And you and me can stay together when Liam goes swimming." So she must know that the Y called last night to confirm that she is off the roster for swimming lessons. And I don't think she's bugged by that one little bit.

We have a few small things and then lots of downtime planned for this weekend. Here's hoping we can get through all of it without someone else's eyeballs turning red. (Trust me... it was a sight that you really did not want to see!)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Work in progress

I'm home again today. The infection has spread to my other eye, despite the fact that I've been dosing it along with the original. The first eye is much better... still totally red mind you, but the swelling is gone. The second is swollen enough to interfere with my vision again. Ugh - I thought this would be a 24 hour thing.

Anyway, onto something better.The kids having their birthdays has thrown me back into the scrapbooking foray lately. I've done a couple of pages for them about their parties and now I'm going through the past few months of photos to see if there is anything else I should be making pages out of. And the short answer is... maybe a couple... but overall, not really. Things have evolved over the past 5 years. Liam has giant, paper-based 12x12 books to document his babyhood. By the time Mal came along, I had gone digital, and she has 8x8 books, digitally done and printed as photos to slip into page protectors.Now, though, things are more about us as a family than they are about the kids individually. Not always, but mostly. Last year for family documentation I did Project 365, which is a photo a day with a bit of info scribbled on a card to go alongside. It was fun for a year but I didn't want to do it again. I felt it was limiting to be restricted to a single photo on some days, and to be forced into generating a photo on other days. It's also a big, giant 12x12 binder.
This year, again, I'm going with something new. This is an 8x10 book I am making using Blurb software ( The software has tons of templates for different numbers of photos on each page, along with space for captioning the photos. It's keeping it really simple - photos + words - and doing away with the fun-but-time-consuming part of scrapbooking, the embellishment. For me, for right now, this works. It takes ten minutes a day to drag a few photos into a new template and write a bit about them (and I don't document every day; just those days when there is a good photo or something interesting to say). I've been keeping on top of it since the start of the year (and backing it up!) and am so far at about 70 pages. At this rate, a 200-page book by year's end will probably run me about $60.
I finally figured out how to do a screen capture on the Mac - that's what you see here - a few sample spreads from my book while I work on it (and if your eyesight is excellent, you can see all the pages lined up together underneath the full-size spreads). I am really stoked about this new way of documenting. It's quick and easy, looks great, and will easily fit onto my bookshelf. The only drawback I've found so far is the need to delay the gratification of having something tangible in hand until the end of the year. I'm not good with delayed gratification... we'll see if I can make it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thanks a lot, L-man.

So it was great that I dragged Liam into the doctor's office last week and waited around a couple hours and missed a morning of work... only to be looked at like I was nutty for being there and told that he didn't have pinkeye...

...But then explain to me why I woke up yesterday with eyes scratchy enough to make me choose to wear my glasses rather than my contacts, and why, by the end of the day, I was a festering, pus-dripping, bloodshot mess?

I Googled it, and sure enough... pinkeye has a 3-day incubation period. Hmmm. Liam's bout was on Thursday... Friday is 1, Saturday is 2, Sunday is 3... and I woke up with it Monday morning. Sounds like the diagnosis fits.

I can't remember if I have ever had pinkeye before, and it is not painful per se, but it is annoying as heck. I can't believe how much stuff is coming out of my eye and my vision is totally blurred because of it. Thank goodness Liam's trouble cleared up so quickly, because I'd hate for him to go through this!

By dinnertime, I was miserable. So I did what any reasonable person would do. I went to the pharmacy, filled the just-in-case prescription that the doctor gave me for Liam, and went home and administered the medication to myself.

(I didn't tell the pharmacist that that was my plan, but when he saw me in my condition, he said I could use the same drops as Liam as long as we didn't actually touch the tip of the dropper to either of our eyes. So I feel validated in using the drops on myself.)

Today, I am even worse than yesterday, if that's possible. My eye is swollen half-shut and I think it might be spreading to the other eye. I truly look a sight.

Of course, pinkeye is contagious as all get out... so despite the hand-washing and pillowcase-laundering that's underway, it's likely to hit someone else in our house this week. Heaven help us.

(Photo taken after yesterday's tour of the animal hospital. The kids came home with surgical masks, hair nets, and bandages for their stuffed animals. Liam has Jaguar's tail all doctored up.)

Edited to add a scan of this super-cute drawing Liam did to document his trip to the vet's.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Not meant to be

On Saturday morning, we took the kids to swimming lessons and for the third straight week, Mallory refused to get into the pool. She sat on the sidelines the entire time. She would inch forward and dip her toes into the water when the instructor was busy with one of the other kids, but as soon as it looked like the instructor might be coming for her, Mallory scooted back up to the wall, sitting as far away from her as possible.

So I inquired at the desk about getting a refund. That's four lessons down out of eight, and for three weeks straight, she has refused to get into the water. We are beating a dead horse and it's time to stop. I need to talk to the aquatics director this week to find out if they'll approve the refund... here's hoping. (Thank goodness we signed her up for lessons only rather than buying her a membership, as we did with Liam. That would be tougher to wrangle our way out of.)

I am not worried at all about her learning how to swim. Yesterday was a rainy day so we went for another swim at GG's, and Mallory paddled around on her own (in a life jacket) for 45 minutes and then cried when we told her to get out of the pool. I figure she'll get plenty of swimming experience this summer, and then we can try her again when the weekly lessons resume in September.

I am, however, worried about what this implies for our future. If she is this stubborn now, how does that bode for her as a teenager?

Friday, April 23, 2010

A nice surprise to find in his backpack at the end of the day

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Springtime masterpiece

This has been a long week for us (though with a couple of back-to-back short weeks, ANY regular week is bound to feel long for us!) Chad was in Houston for a few days and I did an up-and-back trip to Toronto in a single extremely long day (thank goodness for Gramma and Grampa stepping in at the last minute, because I was supposed to be back home hours before I actually landed, and if it weren't for them then the kids would have been on the street.) I was out of town for the day again yesterday and then this morning, when I thought I was going to head into the office to catch up on things, Liam woke up with one eye crusted shut and bloodshot as all get out. Since pinkeye is making the rounds right now, I was convinced that that was what he had. But by the time we'd dropped Mallory off to Cindy and sat in the doctor's office for a couple of hours waiting to be seen, the eye had miraculously healed itself. (More likely, whatever had gotten in there to irritate it finally came out.) We got a just-in-case prescription for eye drops from the doctor who looked at me like I was nuts to have my kid there, and then we beelined home, I made Liam a lunch and put on some makeup, and then dropped him at school before coming in for what turned out to be a half day.

I need some time to catch my breath. And to sleep. And to watch Glee again (wasn't this week fabulous??)

(You can read the caption on Liam's latest masterpiece. The part that I like best, even better than the fact that Mallory is wearing her pink sweatshirt in this painting and Liam is wearing his green one, even better than the cement path we are walking along behind our house, is that Liam very carefully painted two Mallard ducks, a male and a female, as evidenced by their green and brown heads.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Not as it seems

It's been a busy and exhausting couple of days, so I will keep this brief. Riddle me this: do you think Mallory got into the pool for her swimming lesson last Saturday morning?

I will give you a hint. She swam Saturday night and then again on Sunday for more than an hour at GG's pool.

Answer to the riddle: of course not.
My vexation level: at an all-time high.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Officially three

Friday, I had the day off work, Chad had to go into the office for most of the day anyway, and Liam was in school. (The school calendar has 'flipped' so that where we once had our Happy Fridays lining up with Liam's non-school Fridays, he is pretty much in school every Friday that we are off from now til the end of the year. Oh well... it worked for the first 7 months.)

In other words, it was just the girls.

I had hoped to do Mallory's official 3-year portraits on Friday, since the house would be free of distractions and it's not like we had anything else planned anyway... but when we woke up, it was overcast to the point of being too dark to do it. So we got dressed and had breakfast and walked Liam to school and then spent an hour wandering home the long way (i.e. by way of the park). During our walk we decided to hit up the library after we got home (where we picked up some Fancy Nancy books to go along with the doll Mallory received for her birthday), and when we came out of the library, the clouds were almost gone and the sun was starting to peek out. That was all we needed - we beat a fast path home, I ironed her shirt and ponytailed her hair at warp speed, gathered up a few props I'd been thinking about for the past few weeks... and we snuck in a 20-minute session that yielded what I wanted: an official portrait of a 3-year-old.

I'm not sure which of the first two is my favourite... they are both right up there. Any preferences?

Next up: portraits of a 5-year-old, which are going to be harder to get, because the subject is much less cooperative. Those might have to wait a week or two though, since next weekend's weather forecast is not looking good, and I still need to scrounge up a '5'.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Past behaviour is no indication of future behaviour

Almost two weeks ago, Mallory started swimming lessons. We didn't want to put her in a parent/tot program where the parent essentially holds them the entire time... we wanted to wait until she was ready to go in the water on her own. At the YMCA, that happens when you turn three. (And not a moment before. We tried to get her into the session that started back in January or February and were met with a big fat NO. This session started on April 3 and she did not turn 3 until six days later; I was worried they would turn us down this time too, but thankfully, they didn't.)

Anyway, Mallory went to that first lesson and behaved as if she has spent her entire life swimming in pools and that the Y were being idiots for not having admitted her sooner. She was the first to volunteer a pool rule to the instructor. She jumped, she floated, she dunked under water, she put on a life jacket and paddled down to the deep end and back. She was the smallest one in the class but did more than a couple of the other kids. I thought she would do OK, but this was kind of a surprise, because we don't take her to the pool with us when we take Liam for lessons. We've done it once or twice, but she's always wanted to get in the water, too (and come damn close a couple of times.) That's why we generally trade off and have one of us take Liam swimming and have the other one stay home with Mallory.

We were kind of gloaty about her performance that first week and I suppose it served us right, because last Saturday when we took the kids swimming, Mallory put on her swim suit, went over to the instructor, sat on the edge of the pool, and then refused to get in the water for the entire half hour. No kicking or screaming or crying, just plain old refusal. I kept giving her the stink-eye from my spot on the bleachers on the other side of the water, and once I went over to talk to her to try to straighten her out. But it didn't work. She just calmly stared right back at me and ended the session as dry as she'd been when we arrived.

She had no explanation for this after the fact, of course. She just didn't want to swim. She assures me that she will swim next week but that's as much information as she's given me. The swimming lesson was the morning of the birthday party, and I am hoping she was just excited/nervous/whatever about that, and that she will get back in the water without issue the next time around. She's been warned that she can't swim in the pool in our yard this summer without taking lessons first (a warning that, frankly, doesn't seem to faze her in the least.) So... only time will tell.

The one good thing about it (looking for a silver lining here!) is that we'd washed her hair on Friday night to get ready for the party, and I didn't have to deal with combing out chlorine tangles the following morning. Hey, it's something.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

One more birthday recap, and then I'll box it all up until next year

Since I shared some of the details of Liam's birthday party, I thought it would be only fair to share some of Mallory's mermaid party, which was conveniently taking place at the other end of the table.Mallory got her wish and wore her Ariel shirt (even though it is starting to unravel!) and had Ariel cupcakes, Ariel partyware, and an Ariel party game to play. There just isn't a lot of generic mermaid stuff out there. Having said that... the Ariel stuff was not all easy to find. This is the 20th anniversary of The Little Mermaid's release, and this line has been discontinued (the new Disney lines, The Princess and the Frog and the generic 'Disney Princesses', are everywhere instead.) So I had to piece all this stuff together from eBay, etc. This resulted in a couple of surprises, such as the Ariel confetti which I was shocked to see when it arrived because the mermaid pieces were at least 3 inches long. Not really 'confetti' in my book!After going to a superhero birthday (involving dress-up) and a princess party (involving dress-up), Mallory now believes that all birthday parties involve costumes, and she wanted to dress up as a mermaid. I started to explain to her that birthdays are not synonymous with costumes but she wasn't buying it. And to be fair, we had the pirate skullcaps and swords for the boys, so I didn't want to leave the girls out. That led to the sewing of a simple mermaid tail for each of the girls (thank goodness for easy instructions found online and the bargain bin at the fabric store!) The backlighting here kind of ruins the effect, but you get the idea.When the girls arrived, they painted treasure chests and decorated them with jewels. The boys were busy crafting foam pirate ships at the time.A shot of Mallory's end of the table.Singing 'Happy Birthday' to her. She was a bit spooked by the candle flame and needed some assistance to get it blown out - she was leery of getting too close to it.One of the stops on the treasure hunt downstairs was in this corner of the room that we decorated with blue recycling bag streamers and put a blue tarp down on the floor to make a 'mermaid grotto'. This was a really lame effort to do something comparable to the pirate ship, but we put the water table inside, filled with sand and seashells and some iridescent marbles, and the girls quite liked it.

And with that... I am all birthday'd out. The full photo set is on Flickr, and I am off to take a really long nap.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On the day he turned five

A pirate party to celebrate turning 5

Today, Liam is 5. Five!! Five years ago at this time, I was already holding him and making happy phone calls. It's hard to believe it was that long ago, because I still remember it so clearly. Five is a big milestone, and worthy of some heavy-duty celebrations. So on Saturday, Liam had some friends over for his pirate party. I guess this is the year of the pirate for Liam, because it didn't even occur to me until I was uploading these photos when all was said and done that Liam was also a pirate for Halloween last fall. I guess it's all very fitting.The sweatshirt was not bought specifically for the party - nor was the t-shirt he is wearing underneath - but it all fit together really well!Some of our guests, dining on fish and chips (and fish-shaped peanut butter sandwiches for the non-fish eaters. Luckily we only had one of those.) Liam was so looking forward to blowing out the candle on his pirate ship cake. We had Mallory's cake and sang happy birthday to her first, and when it was Liam's turn he was all business, clearing off the table in front of him and making way for the cake to be brought in. I remember him doing the same thing last year. I think we have both captured on video.After the cake and the presents, we headed downstairs, where Chad had constructed this pirate ship by pushing together a few chairs, wrapping them in bristol board, and rigging up a sail from some fabric remnants. A 2x8 made a plank (supported by Tupperware bins under the tarps) and the dotted line you can see on the plank is part of a treasure hunt that was mapped out in the basement in order for the kids to collect the components of their loot bags: pirate and mermaid sticker books, pirate and mermaid colouring crafts, pirate silly putty, mermaid stickers, gold-covered chocolate coins and candy necklaces.We fit in a quick game of pin the pirate on the treasure map/pin the crown on Ariel. And after the guests left, we spent the rest of the day battling it out with each other, since Thomas neglected to take home his foam sword. All the better for us, because you need two swords to duel. And now we're set. (This was probably a deliberate move on Steph and Mike's part - they have Henry's sword at home, and probably didn't want a second so they could avoid the battles!)

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 9th

Needless to say, we had a majorly busy weekend, and we're all birthday'd out for the time being. Here's a recap of April 9th, which I took off to spend with Mallory and prep for the party on the 10th.Unfortunately, after several weeks of gloriously warm weather, we had a bit of snow on Friday and rain after that. Originally I'd had grand plans of taking the kids to a new park or going on a picnic or possibly even going to an Adventures on Wonderland or Jungaroo-type place. But then I realized how much party prep needed to be done, and the road trip fell off the table; and when the bad weather hit, we decided to go out for breakfast instad of picnicking in the snow.After breakfast, we picked up the pirate ship cake pan we rented from Bulk Barn; dropped it off at the bakery to have the cake made (this was one easy thing to outsource - running two parties at once is a lot of work!); and then we picked up our helium balloons, which I had dropped off to be filled a few days earlier. Unfortunately you can't see the top balloon which has twisted sideways, but it's a big sea star, probably 30", with Ariel on it. How much do you think it costs to fill a single balloon that size? I was stunned (in a bad way) to find out. Next year we might do away with the over-sized balloons!Once we were back home, we had lunch and I let Mallory open the parcel that had come from Gramma Laney and Grampa Ralph (who are still in Hawaii for a few more weeks). It contained a mermaid doll and a mermaid hairbrush and mirror set. She loves that hairbrush and mirror.Then we turned on a movie rental we had picked up (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - appropriate because Liam got the book for Easter, so I thought they'd get a kick out of the movie) - and baked the cupcakes for her party. After her nap, we took her out to get her birthday present. We went to our local bike shop where we had previously picked out her first two-wheeler. She still needs some practise on her tricycle, but Liam was riding his bike the summer he turned three, so I'm sure she'll be ready for it soon. The funny part of the story is that we went into the bike shop this week and they had two 12" girls' bike frames left (after it hit 80 degrees last weekend and they sold 200 kids' bikes in two days). Both were blue. One had flower graphics on it... the other one had a mermaid graphic, plus it had streamers in the handles. Guess which one we chose?And as soon as we walked into the store, Mallory saw it sitting in the corner and made a beeline to it. I think we chose the right one.Liam's present this year is also a new bike - we traded in his old one for a new model (since his knees were practically hitting his ears when he rode the old one, he's grown so much!) His new bike is a police bike, with one red handle/training wheel and one blue. He loves it. It's also got a hand brake, which he thinks is about the coolest thing ever. Back at home again, we made homemade pizza at Mallory's request, and had Gramma and Grampa join us for dinner. They gave Mallory her gift - a princess sleeping bag and camping chair, perfect for our upcoming trip to Algonquin and summer days spent out at the trailer.The one thing I forgot to do all weekend was pull out my pretty cake plates for the cupcakes. So here they are in all their Tupperware-encased glory!A very happy birthday to my dear little girl.More to come about our weekend, and another birthday to celebrate tomorrow. Liam actually had a rough day on Friday with Mallory getting the birthday attention. It's not like him but I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later. Trying to explain to him that his own birthday was only 4 days away did little to help. He is in school tomorrow, so I can't take the day off to be with him, but we'll have a special dinner nonetheless. Five is a pretty big milestone.

Friday, April 09, 2010


Today marks three wonderful years with this little one, and I am taking the day off to enjoy it with her. More to come.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The new addition I was referring to. PS - it wasn't the owl.

Our new addition is not a new dog, cat or other critter... nor is it a baby on the way. (Sorry to disappoint.) No, our new addition is a 1918 Heintzman upright piano.When we built our house, we knew that we would use the front room as a playroom for the kids while they were little but that it would eventually be a den, and we always figured that a piano would be a part of it. I don't think either one of us anticipated that the changeover would go quite so fast. (If we did, we wouldn't have punched those holes in the wall to hang pictures just a few months ago... pictures which have since been taken down, holes which have since been patched and painted.) But over the past few months, as we have been finishing up the basement and moving more of the kids' things down there, that opened up space on the main floor, and Chad started looking around for a piano.

I once had a piano, when I had an apartment of my own before we got married. I even took lessons for a bit. And then one day a neighbour commented on how clearly he could hear me practising... and, well, that was pretty much the end of my piano-playing days.

Chad started browsing on Kijiji, and as the basement neared completion he also set up an appointment at a local piano showroom. We looked at a few private-sale pianos before finding this one. Actually, a friend who was also piano-shopping found this one first, had a technician inspect it, and then chose a different instrument while giving this one a clean bill of health. I'm so happy that she passed it over, because it had me at hello. As soon as I saw the restored wood finish on it, I was sold. If you have seen our kitchen table or buffet you will understand... there is something about an old piece of restored mid-tone oak that I find irresistible.Of course, it's great that the guts of the piano are in excellent shape, too. But to be quite honest, I don't have a musical ear. I couldn't tell you the difference between a good-sounding piano and a bad-sounding piano. If this one winds up just being a piece of furniture that nobody ever plays... well, at least it looks good in the process.

We do hope that Liam and Mallory will both learn to play. Heck, I have been pecking out Oh, Susannah and the theme from Top Gun for the past few weeks... maybe there is hope for me yet! The kids are pretty happy with it and I often hear them plunking away on it for a few minutes in the morning while Chad and I are brushing our teeth.I was pleasantly surprised that the piano did not cost us an arm and a leg. You'd be surprised how many "Free piano - you move" ads are out there these days. I guess people don't have the space for large instruments any more, which is ironic, given how much bigger houses are these days. This piano was by no means free, but it was reasonably priced and we were able to negotiate the price down a bit. A win-win for everyone.Mallory has started correcting us now when we call this room the 'playroom'... she likes to call it 'the music room.' We decided to decorate it accordingly. We've ordered a few posters to grace the walls. These all come from the Fillmore in California... poster art for various tours we've seen over the years or bands we like (or sometimes, just cool artwork!) The original idea to do 'vintage music posters' in this room translated into 'early 90s music posters' for the most part. I guess our idea of vintage isn't all that vintage after all.The INXS tour we saw together in 1993 (Chad refers to this as our first date, but seeing that he took another girl to prom the following week, I kind of disagree.)Billy Bragg... saw him at Edgefest one year. The Gin Blossoms... also from Edgefest? I don't know. It's all such a blur now.

You get the idea. Now we have to hang 8 new posters, so wish us luck. Picture-hanging does not bring out the best in us.

Anyway, I'm sure there will still be some toys in this room for a while. And since it's got some great open floorspace, I'm sure some toys will migrate up from the basement to be played with here, because who wants to spend all their time underground? This is turning into a nice cozy little den that can be enjoyed by both the kids AND the adults. I think we will continue to spend a lot of time in here.