Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Card

Every year, I get a Christmas picture of the boys taken at the Superstore.  I don't take it seriously.  They might wear red, I try to brush their hair and they pick whatever props they want. 

I expect the shots to be terrible, and I pick the best of the worst.   It goes in the Christmas card. 

Except this year.  I forgot to make the appointment until it was too late.  So I searched for a family picture on the computer.  AND COULDN'T FIND ONE.

Ok, I found one.  From Easter.  I don't even have the same haircut. 

So instead, I did this.

It says: "Wishing you moments of peace in your house, too"

I think Jake hates it.  But our friends and family love it.  And so do I!!!

(proven here and here)

Here's to a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

During which time, I might know a mother who runs to the Superstore for a belated Christmas picture that could look terrible.  ;)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Downtime: 5 Amazing Netflix Documentaries

It's the homestretch to Christmas.  A couple more days, and that's it.

It's over. 

What to do on those nights when the holiday movies aren't on tv and neither are any of your favorite shows?

Netflix.  Docs.

These are my five recent faves that are available in the US AND CANADA!  (Those of you up here with me know that is not always the case...)

Bill Cunningham New York

"We all get dressed for Bill." - Anna Wintour, Vogue Magazine

This documentary is based in my favorite city in the whole wide world.  But it's more than that - it's about a fixture in and the character of that city.  Bill is an unassuming, humble artist who simply loves fashion.  Not the celebrity or the attention, just the clothes.  This film shares a part of New York that I'd never really paid close attention to, and introduced me to someone who has dedicated his whole life to it. 


Sad, yet eye-opening.  What struck me most about this film was its attempt at being objective.  The presentation of the history of captive whales and the bloodline to the main character.  Though I knew theme parks weren't the best habitats, now I can tell you why.  This film moved me and changed my perspective, which is why it should be shared.

Brooklyn Castle

Uplifting, hopeful, heroic.  It's that inspirational story of the less fortunate working hard to change their future.  But the difference here is they are doing it themselves and within a public school setting.  I will never look at chess the same way again.  And now I really want my kids to play...


Oh I cried.  And you will, too.  But that's why you need to watch this film.  Life isn't the same as it was when I was growing up.  Environment, circumstances, cultures - they are all different.  It is mortifying to think this actually happens today in our schools and neighborhoods, but it does.  Being aware of it and communicating with others can make a world of difference. Watching this documentary reminded me to keep this discussion going with my own kids.


You don't have to like football, you don't have to like an underdog story, and you don't have to like feeling good after watching a documentary.  But you will get all three.  It's a story of a school who's football team never (NEVER) had a winning season, but a volunteer (VOLUNTEER!!!) coach changed all that.  And their lives.  It's hard to believe this is a real story.  It's stayed with me since I watched it.

Happy Holiday Netflix-ing!!!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday-ing Around Here

We don't really go all out.  There are 3 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  And we're away for both.  So we have two small bins of stuff and a tree. 

Translation: the kids do the decorating. 

My 1% is the niche above the tree.  This year, I found two glass trees at CB2, which were the perfect height and depth.  I only stopped in early November to measure them, but the salesperson said they sell out immediately, so home they came.  True to his word, they are gone!!!

But, as with children decorating, that cute little snowflake in a globe was vetoed because he had to come down and live with the other closer-to-the-touch decorations.  

Here is the other 99%. 

Pseudo-chocolate advent calendars - check.
Random statues, globes and mini-trees grouped together - check.
Stockings that can't be left alone* - check.
Random reindeer in the corner because he can't stand up - check.

*They lasted about 5 minutes.  The next day, George pulled on one as he walked by, causing the reindeer holder to fall, dent the floor and break into a million pieces.  Lesson learned, next year we're going with command strips.

Last but not least, although we went with the broken-tipped silver star on the big tree, warm-hearted Henry didn't want our homemade star from nobody-knows-when-it-was-made to go unused.  So he wrapped it around the top of the mini-tree on the table.  Which is in everyone's way when they eat dinner and want to watch the end of Spongebob ;)

Here's to the holidays of 2014.  And maybe next year George will finally learn not to open multiple random numbers on his advent calendar and run out of chocolate with 9 days to go. 

Merry Christmas ;)

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Inspiration: Boys Bedroom

When I walk down the hall, I love to peek into their room.  Natural light bounces off the white walls.  The dresser is still in good shape.  And it's so small, it only takes 3.0937523 seconds to tidy everything up.

But this wall?  I'm stumped.  They need more storage, now that Lego and Skylanders are a major part of our lives.  And I need a place for dirty laundry.  It just has to be shallow and it can't be another dresser. 

Pinterest to the rescue...with its partner in crime, Ikea.  


I'm kinda in love with this set up.  The double-wide Ikea shelves would fit between the door and the wall.  Hanging shorter shelves on top towards the wall would help the narrow entrance to the room (because of the bunk bed).  And I'd use these adorable bins under the lowest shelf. 


This set up is a close second.  Ikea's shelving unit or wall cabinet would do the trick.  Stacked or spread out, the cabinets have major potential. 


And then there's my absolute fave.  Maybe it's the yellow brackets?  Or the chair?  Or the plants?!?!  Or the fact that I can close my eyes and see this in their room just like it is. Right. Here.

Suddenly, I picture Henry balancing on that chair's edge while George hangs from the bottom shelf as Jake cheers them on, racing to see who can get their toy down first...  

So...maybe it's a mix of all three.  With the rule: shelves are for toys, not boys ;)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Week Before Thanksgiving

Another kid-filled post.  Avert your eyes!  Unless you're my dad.

For the last few years, I've been lucky enough to spend the week before US Thanksgiving back home with my folks.  Steve drives us down on the weekend and flies back to Toronto to work.  Then we meet him in Niagara Falls on the way to our big Thanksgiving get together in upstate New York.  It's a highly orchestrated event involving a car, an airplane, a train and sometimes a bus. 

But it's all worth it because we get to do stuff like this:

Green Bay Packers Autograph Signing

Since I've managed to successfully turn my children into enormous Packer fans, this random event completely blew their minds. 

The only lead up I gave them was: You only get a few seconds with these guys.  Maybe you should ask them a question!?!

Henry: What's your favorite animal?
Quarless: A Lion!
Pennel: An Elephant.
Jake: Is it easier to catch the ball in the heat or in the cold?
Quarless: Haha, good question! Definitely the heat.

Mike Pennel #64
Andrew Quarless #81

I heard about it on the radio the day before.  It was taking place at a local haircut chain.  We stood outside in a freezing cold lineup for 1/2 hr.  But only about 35 people showed up, so we could have arrived 1/2 hr after the event started and walked right in. 

Oh, smalltown, WI.  You're so not Toronto. 

Then we took a roadtrip.

Ella's Deli - Madison, WI

The state capitol is Madison, WI...only 60 minutes away from my parents' front door.  So why not?

The State Capitol

It was really really cold.  But still, I told them to run around as much as they could outside, because it was gonna be all business inside. 

2nd Floor

But, by looking at this picture, you can tell that middle child was anything but business. 

State Senate Chamber

Thank goodness, our close family friend sits in that very desk.  I only found this out when my mom was reading the self guided tour info.  "...and the president of the Senate sits in the desk at the front of the room.  Oh!  That's Mary!!" 

She was elected to the position by her Senate peers just a few weeks ago.  The first female Senate President of the State of Wisconsin.  I've known her since I was in 4th grade.  Go Mary!!!

Rub The Nose For Luck

Then we found the bronze badger, our official state animal, and rubbed the nose for luck.  He sits right outside the Governor's office, so we had to ask the security guard to let us in.  He asked if we might be Packer fans.  I have no idea why.

And here's a picture without children...

The Dome

The inside of the Capitol Dome.  It's gorgeous.  Even the kids were drawn in. 

Oh yes!  Those kids...

Loving It
Turning In Tickets
His Loot

Today was our Grand Finale.  We leave tomorrow for my brother's house and then on to the east coast.  So, of course, we hit Chuck E. Cheese for lunch.  I never ever EVER go there in Toronto, so it's a real treat for these guys.  The games, the tickets and the prizes.  I don't think I've ever paid so much for a twisty lollipop in my life. 

But look at that face.  He's just so happy.

And part two of the finale?

Helium Trampoline Park

My kids are the three blurs in the foreground.  There is nothing more satisfying than burning off energy, and this is the place to do it. 

These videos kill me.  He's 3-1/2.  I had to drag him out kicking and screaming.

Happy almost Thanksgiving / Black Friday!!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Halloween...And Then Some

I've decided to get into the mode of posting less more often instead of a lot less often.  I'm short on time.  Like everyone.  So if I put it out there, maybe I'll do it. 

After this one.

My "blogiversary" came and went.  November 1st.  Three years!  I did a Halloween recap then, and again, and again, so I must do one now.  No matter how late is is...

George and I visited Henry's classroom Halloween party.  This black cat got to pose with The Hulk...aka his 3rd costume choice in the week leading up to the big event.  Argh!!

After school, we ran home to decorate.  I just can't get it together to decorate even one day in advance.  It's last minute every single year.  But the joy of kids getting older, means they pitch in.  Jake did the caution tape and I took care of the faux-pumpkins.  (For a full explanation, visit this link, we will never carve again!!!)

Recurring themes:  Zombie (this year there were two), Rain (at least it's not snow) and CANDY (more than ever).  We have the kids pour all the loot onto the table for a picture right after trick-or-treating.  This makes for no individual stashes.  I can't believe they haven't caught onto my trick yet. 

And because it's been two weeks since Halloween, here's some other random things going on in our terribly busy lives:

Winter Is Coming
Winter gear goes on sale incredibly early.  I gave him the chance to pick out his own hat.  I think he loves it.

This came home in Jake's backpack.  His class was taking a trip to the "Century Schoolhouse" here in Toronto, and he was actually excited about it!  I was skeptical.  I know my resistant-to-any-kind-of-change child, but he really wanted to participate.  So we headed to Value Village and Dollarama.  He picked it all out.

And then this happened. 

He settled down, went off to school and met up with his classmates who looked just as crazy cute.  A friend of mine called it "adorkable".  Yes.  Every 3rd grade child must go through the rite of passage.

Then he came home and told us how he got "punished" and had to hold a log for 2 minutes.  A classmate got her hair pinned to the wall and another had to stand on his tippy toes and hold his nose to the wall for a minute.  Awful field trip that it was.

"Henry, you're gonna hate it next year."

Since we're going with a Jake theme here, I have to mention how insanely into football he is right now.  I admit, we've been brainwashing him with my beloved Green Bay Packers from very young.  But he not only watches it, he plays it.  Daily.  At school.  Begs us to go outside and "throw the football around."  His brothers, too.  I love it. 

(And we loved watching the Packers dismantle the Bears on Sunday Night Football.  All three boys may have been a little tired at school the next day...)

And on this active note:

Random iPad Picture

We're neck deep in the electronics war.  Our kids have taken over the iPad.  And an old laptop.  Yesterday, Jake found my old iPhone. 

It's still the kid phase.  Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts aren't in our near future.  But usage is getting out of hand.  Our general family belief is: everything in moderation.  So we're doing our best to limit the time spent on electronics, taking turns, managing the games. 

But some days, that iPad just seems to disappear.  Nobody can find it!  Hmmm...let's go play football, instead ;)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

How I Know We're Meant To Be

Back in early April, while I was dreaming of summer, I hit the mall to look for sunglasses and took this shot.

He picked them out himself, got a thumbs up from a hipster standing next to us, and the cashier even smiled.  I sent the pic to my husband.  Because why not. 

End of story.

It's the fall.  We've lived with our renovation for a year.  And we both decide we need to get on some art.  Like really need.  Minimal / Modern suits us well.  But we need something on the wall!  Especially this one. 

It's in the living room, opposite the TV.  You can see a tour and before/after of the room HERE from a year ago.  Where I mentioned we need art.  A YEAR AGO!

So, I finally put up some taped-together paper to get a sense of the size and location....for a little DIY idea that I found here.  Oh, how I love it.  It's totally my vibe.  But I live in the city.  There are no random large canvasses just sitting out on the curb. 

(Well, there was one.  In the spring.  I pulled over, measured it and started putting it in my trunk.  Then a lady walking by said, "Be careful.  That's a rooming house."  I looked at her with a question mark on my face.  She leaned in and whispered, "Bedbugs."  And walked away.  Then I saw dog poo on a corner of the canvas.)

Once I figured out the size, I looked into buying one.  The size of that paper is 5 feet wide by 3.5 feet high.  Any guesses?  $200.  For a DIY that might or might not turn out great.  I couldn't pull the trigger. 

So the paper stayed.  People asked if it was art.  I started saying yes. 

And then it was my birthday. 

My husband was sick of seeing the paper on the wall.  So he took a big gamble. 

And won. 

He downloaded a free app called Glaze, to give the picture a more painted look instead of a photograph.  Then he sent it to Canvas Pop, an online company that prints photos on canvas.  He had the canvas sent to our home address, and amazingly enough, our neighbor intercepted the delivery.  Then Steve ran it around the corner to our local framer. 

And funny enough, it matches the size of the paper.  He didn't even measure it.  He just went for the biggest canvas. 

It's not a DIY and it wasn't cheap.  But good, big art isn't.  What it is, is something better than a photo.  Or a gallery.  Or collage.  It's pop art of my own kid. 

(That the other two think "looks creepy.")

And I love it.  ;)

Friday, October 03, 2014

Someone's Seven

Suddenly, I found myself picking up a child at school today for a birthday lunch. 


We walked to Pizza Pizza.  He wouldn't hold my hand until we crossed the street.  And then he forgot to let go for a while.

6 months

He had to go to the bathroom SO BAD.  He wanted to go on a tree in the park, but we made a pitstop at a coffee shop instead.

1 year

We went to Pizza Pizza because he got a Birthday coupon in the mail for a free slice and soda.  He reeeeeally wanted bacon, but he had to choose between cheese or pepperoni.  He chose cheese.  And a root beer. 

2 years

His birthday fell on a Friday, so a bunch of 6th graders from his school were at the pizza place, too.  That was sooooo cool. 

3 years

Cool enough that he didn't feel like talking to me, just looking at the big kids. 

4 years

He did say he couldn't remember if he had math that morning, he wasn't sure if he had gym that afternoon and he really wanted to get back in time for lunch recess. 

5 years

We went back to school.  I walked on the sidewalk.  He walked on everything but. 

6 years

He wouldn't stop talking.  All about random things that I couldn't follow.  I don't think he even knew what he was talking about after a while.

7 years

The second we got back to school, he wrapped his arms around my waist and said "Love you, mom."  Then he walked up to the front entrance, in through the doors and disappeared up the stairs. 

He didn't look back even once.