Monday, November 28, 2016

Dear Jessica...

In the year 2000, I had a full time job. I was out of university, and I'd just moved into an apartment with the man who would eventually become The Husband. That was also the year that saw the beginning of the magic that was the Gilmore Girls.

I used to make absolutely sure I was home, every Wednesday night. I'd be curled up in front of my TV with a cozy blanket and a big cup of tea, ready when the music started. My boyfriend was not allowed to talk to me for that hour, not even during the commercials.

I loved that show. The writing and acting were phenomenal. The quick dialogue and quirky characters were something new that felt made for me. When it went off the air, I was bereft. There was a Gilmore shaped hole in the middle of my week. On top of that, it felt like it just... ended.

You can't begin to imagine how excited I was when I heard they were making four new episodes.

It's funny though. I started re-watching the old episodes, and they're just... different now. I don't identify with Lane and Rory as much, and I kind of get where Mrs. Kim was coming from. A husband and three kids later, I'm just not that girl anymore; although I still want to live in Stars Hollow. It got me thinking about how things used to be, and what I might tell that girl if I ran into her today. So here goes:

Dear Jessica,

Hey. There are just a few things I want to say to you, while I'm thinking of them.

First, you are not cool. Don't get huffy, I don't mean that in a bad way, I mean it in the best way possible. I don't know when "cool" turned into "just like everyone else", but that is not you. Someday, when you are raising your three daughters (you heard me right) you will pass that lesson on to them and be able to show them from experience that being your own person may be harder in the moment, but it's more valuable in the long run.

Next, you know that guy sitting beside you? Don't look, don't look! Yes, him. The guy that waits for you after work, and makes you tea when you get home, and brings you flowers, and sits through shows that he doesn't really care about, just to sit with you... him. There is going to come a point where it will seem like it's never going to happen. He is going to take forever to ask. And he is going to do it in front of a freaking EB Games up at the mall. But he is worth the wait, and you're going to be able to mock him about the EB Games thing for the rest of his life. He is a good man, and he is going to be the best daddy for those three (yes, really) girls. Go easy on him.

Most important, maybe, is this: I know that you don't like to hurt people's feelings, or cause anyone any inconvenience, but stop being afraid to take up some space. You have just as much right as anyone else to the last cookie, so every once in a while, let yourself take it. You've got to think of yourself sometimes. You really do. It's not selfish, it's self preservation. It's also a good lesson for your daughters (yes, there really are three of them) to learn before they have their own relationships, or jobs, or kids to worry about losing themselves in. Don't lose yourself. It's really hard to find you again.

Take care, and stay away from green eyeshadow no matter who says it "makes your eyes pop."

Much love,

P.S. Don't worry, you will get your stupid driver's license. Eventually.

 Anyhoo - I'm off to finish watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. No spoilers!

Friday, November 4, 2016

An Update of Sorts, and a Giveaway.

Wow. Okay. So it's been a while. The baby is almost 9 months old now, and starting to try walking, which is kind of terrifying because my house is in no way ready for that. It's choking hazard central here. I haven't let my sister visit with her kids since my nephew started walking because I'm scared he'll die. And yes, it really is that bad.

I've been in a fog for a while. The kind of fog where time wraps in on itself and makes all your movements slow and difficult while speeding up all the things around you. You can see things happening and know that you should want to be part of them, but you just can't care, and if you do manage to care, it just makes you sad that you had to try so hard to care. It's likely exhaustion. Maybe it's sort of like a self defense mechanism, the not caring. Things feel hard, and bad, so you just stop feeling so that you can get through it. The gist of it being that I have been performing my "keep the children alive" duties, but that's about it.

As a result, the house is even more of a mess than usual. My family... don't clean. It's like they just don't see the mess. They can step over heaps of laundry, skillfully avoid piles of sweeping, and ignore the fact that there is *actual garbage* lying around. I'm going to be kind and assume that they suffer from some kind of disorder, rather than that they're just lazy jerks.

So now that I'm finally starting to feel a bit more human, the first thing that hits me is how much I need to do just to get us back to "lived in", rather than "garbage dump". Then BAM! Mastitis! Baby with croup! Kids behaving like I'm invisible and they can do whatever the hell they want! I can feel it closing in around me again.

But I'm trying not to let it. Which is definitely something.

So. I'm making things. Making things and writing things has always helped me avoid the fog, but I haven't been doing it much since February, because... you know, baby, fog, etc. I've even signed up to do my first craft show ever in a few weeks.

Writing is a bit more tricky. I am the most prolific when there are no people around. Which is never. But I'm going to try to *make sure* that I make the time for it, if only to keep myself sane, so hopefully we'll be seeing more of each other in the near future.

Oh! One of the things I found while I was trying to dig out my desk was a box. A box that I received a while ago that then went mysteriously missing. A box which no one admitted to ever having seen, making me feel a tiny bit crazy.  A box, that contained gifts from Netflix, including a 3 month subscription card for me to give away to one of you lovely readers!

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win 3 months of free streaming from Netflix! The winner will be selected by random draw and contacted by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is drawn. Contest closes November 19th, 2016. This contest is open to Canadians 18+ (excl. Quebec)

Good luck! 

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Summer So Far.

Her: can I play on the computer?
Me: nope.
Her: can I watch TV then?
Me: nope. You lost screens, remember?
Her: you never said that!
Me: yes, I did *recounts entire conversation during which said child lost screens*

*Five minutes of back and forth about how I never said any of that*


Ten minutes later, she sits at the table with a granola bar and a colouring book.

Me: hey dude.
Her: hi.
Me: we cool?
Her: Yep.

*fist bump*

[Repeat, replacing "TV" with whatever it is that I've said they couldn't have (or do) five times already that day.]

How's your summer going?

I used to have time to do this kind of thing.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cats For Everyone!

Apparently, I do not make having babies look good. Both my girls, at 8 and 10, have decided that they are not having any babies. Which doesn't mean that they don't want kids, it just means that they don't think they want to go through the work of making and having them. As Beege says, "I don't want to break my vagina." Fair enough.

So where will you be getting these babies then? I asked. Well, we'll adopt some orphans, of course. Who do we call about that, anyway?

So we looked up international adoption in Canada and found a few agencies. We looked through the requirements for adopting in various countries. They were quite surprised to learn that, along with other requirements, adopting can have 3-5 year waiting periods and cost up to $40,000.

"$40,000?" Beege said. "Maybe I'll just have cats. Like... five cats."
"Making them yourself is usually the cheapest way to get a baby, for sure," I agreed.
"Wait a second," Kee interrupted. "Girls can marry girls, right?"
"You bet!"
"Well then, I'll just marry a girl who wants kids, and she can make all the babies."

Problem solved, I guess? We'll save sperm donors and fertility clinics for another discussion. She may end up with cats too.

I've forgiven her for the broken vagina.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

I'm So Tired.

One week down, eight to go. What did we do our first week of summer vacation? A lot of sitting around watching Netflix, actually. Usually, I'd be trying to get them to be more active, maybe read a book or something. But we're still figuring out how things are going to work around here with all of us home all day, and so far it's just super loud.

They did learn something though -- there is a whole bunch of new kids programming to look forward to this summer on Netflix, and they have some recommendations for you.

Beege (10yo) recommends Pokemon because... well, Pokemon,  and Glitter Force for those of you into funny anime and secret superheroes.
New episodes streaming as of July 1st!

Kee (8) thinks that everyone should take the time to watch Teen Titans Go! for super heroes and funny stuff, Ever After High (with new episodes starting August 15th!) for fairy tales and funny stuff, and King Julien for totally silly funny stuff. She's kind of into "funny stuff" right now.

Ever After High: Epic Winter streaming August 15th!

As For Husband and myself, he's super excited about Voltron and I'd like an hour or ten to myself so that I can watch the new season of Orange is the New Black.

What are you watching this summer?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

I Prefer Chicken.

My sister having a baby just a few months before me is great. She's still got a lot of the stuff that I passed on for her to use with my older nephew, and when she's done with it this time, she passes it back to me. Case in point, I have not yet had to purchase a single item of clothing for Bean.

Sometimes though, there's not enough of something to go around. In particular, there is a mobile that my nephew showed no interest in for a while, but is now pretty into. I'm trying to get little Bean to view her crib as a relaxing place to hang out for a while, instead of the pit of lava filled with spikes that she seems to think it is. A mobile might come in handy. I'm not about to snatch  a toy from a baby though, so I've decided to make one.*

As I was finishing up the first few parts, I hit a snag; I ran out of stuffing. I mentioned it to Husband, and we planned to go to the craft store for some on the weekend. Which of course didn't happen. "That's okay, there's a craft section at the grocery store, right? You can grab me some when you pick up groceries tomorrow." I added it to the list after toilet paper.

I've been going to bed with the baby lately, and he stopped at the store on his way home from work, so I was asleep when he got in. In the morning, he asked me if he'd gotten the right kind of stuffing. It had taken him a while to find it at the store, and he wasn't sure what kind I wanted, so he got me both.
"Both? I don't see it. Where did you put it?" "In the kitchen."

After I stopped laughing, I pointed out that neither was the best kind for a baby's mobile. "Oh. Crap. Right." He promised to pick some of the right kind up on the way home.

Anybody remember the felt?

For scale, that's my 10yo.

*I'll post it when I'm done. I'm hoping it'll be cute.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Talking About the Hard Stuff.

 This morning, Facebook threw up one of those "these are your memories" photos at me, of Kee and I.  Heads together, smiling, doing bunny ears on each other. I called Kee over to show her this adorable picture of us, and she says "why are we doing that with our fingers?! That means 'meet me naked in the shower in two minutes!" Uhm, no, sweet child, those are innocent little bunny ears. "But Karen at school said..."

Kee is going to be eight years old tomorrow. I know, I'm shocked too! And now that she's getting older, she's becoming less about princess dresses and playing pretend, and more about pop stars and fitting in with her peers. Less about being silly, and more about being "cool". I am more than aware that she is going to begin to make her own friends and her own decisions, and that I will think some of them are awful (friends and decisions, both!).

I think the most important thing that we can do is lay a foundation for our kids. Talk to them about things like good decision making, standing up for themselves, and taking responsibility, *before* they start to care more about what Karen thinks than what we do.

Sometimes it can be tricky though. How do you even broach the topic of drugs, consent, or peer pressure with an eight year old? It's not really something that's going to come up in our day to day conversations (unless spurred by the Karens of the world). Personally, I like to read with them, watch shows with them, and talk with them about their feelings and reactions to the stories. What did they think about somebody bullying somebody else? How can you tell when a secret is too big and you need to break a promise to a friend to get help?

One of my favourite shows to watch with them when they were smaller was Arthur, based on the books by Marc Brown. They tackle a wide variety of issues from bullying, to cancer, to plagiarism. It's always handy to be able to say "remember when that character did something similar...?" While I could happily watch Arthur every day forever, they're getting older and not so much into cartoon aardvarks anymore. Luckily, Arthur's not the only show around that can help you out.

While there are many more available, here's a short list of shows you can find on Netflix to help you get started:

 For the little kids:

Sibling Rivalry
Watch Ep. S1E1: Babee's Room

Buzzabee and Rubee compete over who Babee (their new sibling) gets to room with. Mom and dad must explain to Buzzabee and Rubee that Babee needs to grow up before she can share a room.

Watch Ep. S1E1: Puppies & Guppies/Sorry We're Closed Today

Larry and Laura Carrot want to adopt puppies, but quickly learn it takes responsibility in order to watch over and care for a pet of their own.

Following the Rules
Watch Ep. S1E6: Stormy Weather/ Baba's Adventure/ Rock Music

Mama tells Oona and Baba to stay close with a storm approaching. After ignoring her advice, Oona and Baba get stuck in a seagull nest during the heavy thunderstorms.

     For the big kids:

Watch Ep. S1E13: Star

After Dulcinea feels like no one in the group needs her help, she tries to use a newly-discovered wishing star to show her worth -- but fails -- showing her that her presence alone has lit up her friends' lives all along.

Watch Ep. S1E3: Smart is the New Cool

After McKeyla insists she works better alone, she learns that four is better than one when her friends jump in to help her rescue the Prince from a botched space mission.

Peer Pressure
Watch Ep. S1E6: The Legend of El Explosivo

After getting grounded for sneaking off to Bobby Popko's house, Jackson realizes he needs to stand up for what he knows is right and not give in to please his friend.

     For the teens:

Actions Have Consequences
Watch Ep. S1E1&2: Pilot & Consequently

Brandon finds himself in a dangerous situation when trying to help Callie (his new foster sister) find her brother -- learning that his actions can result in unexpected consequences. 

Watch Ep. S1E4: Kimmy Goes to the Doctor!

Kimmy quickly realizes that she can't fix her problems by simply "Buhbreezing" them away -- real change comes from the inside. 

Body Image
Watch Ep. S1E16: Home

After Sue demands that Mercedes lose weight, Quinn steps in to change her mindset and together they set the stage for beauty at William McKinley High, teaching the importance of empowerment and inclusion. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

I Started Writing This Last Week.

Apparently, I vastly overestimated my ability to get things done. My new love, tiny though she is, occupies most of the space in my mind right now. I'm sure when I get some sleep (that happens eventually, I know it does) things will start to sift through, but right now my thoughts consist mostly of wondering when I last fed her and whether or not her poop is a normal colour.

Which leaves the big kids to their own devices a bit... a situation that lends itself to an inordinate number of fights. Smart kids that they are, they know that if I'm feeding Bean, I'm not likely to jump up and come see what kind of trouble they're getting into, and there is no way on earth that I'll start yelling with a sleeping baby on my chest.

Luckily, for when I just can't take the arguing anymore, we have the basement TV.

I always said that I'd only want a TV in the living room. I reconsidered that a while ago when I realised that there just wasn't enough room in the living room for all of us to sit and watch a movie (we *really* need to fix the seating situation around here). But I didn't want to move the TV since I spend all day here, and I like to have something on while I write, and I'll be damned if I'm spending all day in a basement again.

So. We bought a second TV on a whim, to put down in the basement playroom. We didn't even hook it up for a year. It just sat there in the box, and every time I saw it, I glared and mumbled to myself about wasted money.

We finally hooked it up just before Bean was born. Thank goodness we did, because when the arguing gets to be too much, I can cave and let them watch some Netflix. Which has been happening way more often than I like to admit, but hopefully now that the baby's a little bigger and the weather is nicer we'll be getting outside more.

The problem with this, is of course, that one always wants to watch My Little Pony, while the other wants to watch Full House. We've tried a number of ways to decide who gets to pick the show, but the the one that, so far, seems to be working is that they get five minutes to pick a show. If they can agree on one within the time limit, they get to watch a couple of episodes. If they can't? Well, then they're out of luck (and sadly so am I).

They've got a few favourites that get thrown out at the last minute when they can see the possibility of TV time shrinking, because as far as they're concerned TV you've already seen is better than none at all. The top three right now are Yo-Kai Watch (which they tell me is sort of like Pokemon, but not), Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and LEGO: Friends.

The best part of this whole "TV in the basement thing" is that they can be down there watching the same show for the tenth time, and I can be upstairs nursing the baby while watching the new episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt!

Oh! Another one that I plowed through recently while stuck on the couch - Cuckoo. It's an odd one, but if you're into Kimmy and/or britcoms, give it a go.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

I'm Back!

For the next fifteen minutes or so, if I'm lucky.

So Bean, like her sisters, decided not to be born on her projected due date, and made us wait an extra week. I think she was just being convenient though. She was born on the Friday morning of the Family Day long weekend, meaning that everyone could just stay home and lounge around in pajamas without making any special arrangements.

Ever since then, she's been on my chest. She hates the sling, she can't abide the bassinette, and she barely tolerates her bouncy chair (although, thank goodness, if I time it just right, she will occasionally sleep in it for a little while.) Which, as you can imagine, makes it hard to do anything. Like, at all. I'm relearning the skill of doing everything one handed.

Which basically means, that we've been doing nothing but lying around on the couch with Full House re-runs playing to keep us company. I'm sure you've heard about the Full House reboot, Fuller House. The kids and I had been watching some of the original in anticipation.

I was pretty sure they'd think it was too cheesy, but they think it's HILARIOUS. They've been re-enacting scenes, and it's not uncommon to hear "remember when Uncle Jesse said [whatever he said] and then Stephanie said [whatever she said]?" followed by gales of laughter coming up from the basement.

After watching episodes of Fuller House though... I won't be watching them with the girls any time soon. I think that this show is particularly good for grown up fans of the original, with a lot of self- referential jokes, and episodes that seem like updated versions of the old ones. My girls, at 7 and 10, are a little young for a lot of the jokes. I'm not up to explaining any drug references, what the kama sutra is, or why it's not a good idea to let complete strangers get you drunk on shots.

Luckily, Netflix has plenty of other family friendly shows for us to choose from to watch in our copious amounts of downtime over the next few months while Bean and I try and sort out some sort of routine together.

Speaking of... gotta go, her highness awakes. Talk to you soon!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Any Day Now.

I have officially entered the stage of pregnancy where I just want the kid to vacate.

I'm up all night running to the bathroom. I'm uncomfortable and unwieldy. I'm too tired to do much of anything, and I'm getting super cranky. Luckily, my girls are old enough to make themselves a sandwich, and Husband is being very understanding.

There have been many predictions about when this baby would decide to come out, and we've already passed all of them. Except mine. I figure Valentine's day, because that's 10 days after my due date, as well as our anniversary. Both my girls kept me waiting to meet them for two weeks past their due dates, so if past experience holds up, I'll win the pool.

Still, I was holding out hope because a couple of the predictions were made by my midwife team. You can imagine my disappointment when they found absolutely no signs of impending labour at my last visit. This baby has no intention of being born this week.

So now all I can do is sit around waiting. Clean things. Wait. Knit. Wait. Clean again. Wait. Fold and re-fold the tiny clothes. Wait.

I've realised something about this whole "nesting" phenomenon. It's not so much about making sure you're ready for the baby as it is making sure that you don't go completely insane before you get to meet the baby.

I'll be vacuuming the ceiling and dusting the insides of all the light fixtures if anyone needs me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Super Easy Gift to Make.

Along with all the knitting I did leading up to the holidays, I also made a few other things, of the non-yarn variety. One super easy project that comes out looking great is a nameplate for a kid's door. 

1. Pick up a of wooden plaque from your favourite craft store. Make sure that it's big enough for the child's name in a readable font. Lightly sand the plaque so that you don't have any little bumps or slivers (I skipped this step, and wish I hadn't). Paint the plaque whatever colour you'd like to use as a background. Let it dry, and maybe do a second coat.

I left the middle of the black one blank because I was planning on using a light colour for the name and didn't want to have to paint it again and again. Upon reflection, that might have been easier, as I had to go in with a tiny brush with the background colour after the name was dry. But I enjoy that kind of detail work - if you don't, just paint the whole thing and be prepared to go over the letters a few times.

2. Find a font that you like, that will be easily readable, and fit nicely in the middle of the board. Print it out, and make sure that it fits the way you want it. (You could also pick up some stickers or stencils while you're at the craft store if you want.) You could also go the freehand route. These are going to be hanging in the same hallway, I wanted some uniformity.

3. Cut out your stencils. Since this is just printer paper, I put strips of packing tape on both sides of the paper before I started cutting to reinforce the stencil. Make sure to leave some of the original stencil intact to stabilise any wobbly bits, and make sure that the centers of the letters stay in place. *Make sure that you start out with a sharp blade in your craft knife!

Those little black bits are what I'm talking about.
4. Time to paint the names! If you want the name centered, make sure to find the center of the stencil, and the center of the plaque and align them before you begin. If you've got some stencil spray adhesive handy, you could use that... I just held it down and hoped for the best.

5. You're going to want to leave this to dry for a while. So this is a great time to think about how you want to decorate these things. I already had an idea in mind for both, but there are also great inspirational images all over the internet.

The best thing about making your own is that you can decorate them any way you want. I did most of mine free hand, but it's also a great idea to draw out your design on a piece of paper so that you can check positioning. I wasn't sure about monkey placement, so I drew a couple and moved them around until I was happy with their positioning before painting. (Again, if you're more comfortable, you can get stencils and stickers from the craft store.) Fiddle around with placement until you're happy, then draw your design lightly onto the plaque with a pencil. Then paint away! 

6. Once your designs are final and completely dry, make sure to put on  a couple of coats of a sealant over the whole plaque.

Et Voila! A lovely, handmade gift that looks like it was way harder to do than it was!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Night Terrors... and a Netflix Giveaway.

As you probably know, we're expecting a baby over here. Any time now really... if the baby feels like being convenient enough to actually be born on his/her due date, I'll be up to my eyeballs in diapers and onsies in 24 days.

I'm not a first time mum, I've obviously done this before, but for some reason, I'm kind of terrified this time around. I forget everything. Well, almost everything.

I distinctly remember how hard it was having a baby and a toddler at the same time. I was up all day with Beege, and all night with Kee. I had been entirely spoiled by what a great sleeper Beege was. Kee was a cheerful, charming baby... we just couldn't seem to work out the all important sleep thing.

I wasn't expecting a baby who would scream from 9:00 to 2:00 every night. She wouldn't/couldn't sleep anywhere but tucked up against my chest, so even when we did manage to sleep at the same time, I wasn't fully asleep and it barely took the edge off my exhaustion. I felt physically terrible, I wasn't getting any sleep at all, and it was making me crazy. Nursing in the middle of the night became a bit frightening because I actually started hallucinating -- mostly big black bug-like things swarming up my walls -- but I found that I could distract myself by running an episode of Gilmore Girls on my little travel DVD player. I got through all 7 seasons while holding her through the night so she could sleep.

I have high hopes that this time around things will be different. The older girls are old enough to help out a bit (or at least let me nap if I need to). If the baby is up all night, I will have the opportunity to sleep during the day while the older kids are at school -- and believe me, I will take it.

But when I do find myself up in the middle of the night, I will definitely be binge (re)watching some of my favourite shows on Netflix. Anything to recommend? I'm looking for comedies, I think... nothing with gore or big black bug-like things.

Care to binge watch with me?

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win 6 months of free streaming from Netflix! If you're new to Netflix, this is a great time to try it out, with old favourites and new being added all the time. If you're a long time subscriber like me, don't worry it's applicable to your current account - you can enter too! There will be 2 winners, selected by random draw and contacted by email. The winners will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is drawn. Contest closes January 22, 2016. This contest is only open to Canadians 18+. 

Good luck!  

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