And baby makes 4… unless you count the dog.

Eleven days ago, Baby H decided to join us, and it has been a whirlwind ever since.  I forgot just how much sleep-deprivation actually accompanies a newborn baby – after all, it’s been ten years since I last had a newborn in the house.

George has been amazing.  As we got closer and closer to the due date, he got more and more nervous, and it was all for nothing.  He’s a natural!  By diaper #3, he was a pro-star at changings, and he mastered the art of infant-holding in no time.  Thankfully, he was able to take a week off of work immediately after Baby H’s birth; I have no idea what I would have done without him.  Seriously, you guys.  He made sure that I got a nap here and there, he took over getting J-Bird ready for school and getting him to and from the school bus stop, he handled all the meals (for everyone in the house who isn’t exclusively on a breastmilk diet!)… he was fantastic.  I need to get the man a present or something.

But back to Baby H.

He was born on a Saturday morning.  On Saturday night I was sitting up in my hospital bed, feeding him, when he made a face and clamped down hard and it just reminded me so much of a baby turtle that I couldn’t stop giggling.  I’ve been affectionately referring to him as “Baby Turtle” ever since, and J-Bird has picked up the nickname, too.

He has the most adorable little dimples.  I’m going to be in so much trouble when he starts smiling, you guys.

He likes to hold hands while he eats.

Holding Hands

Speaking of eating, he wants to do it ALL THE TIME.  Especially at night.  Midnight snacks are his favourite.

I’m pretty sure there is nothing in the world that is softer than his hair.

He is the spitting image of his daddy.  Like, a miniature carbon copy.  Zero of his features are mine.

And I am completely, totally, head-over-heels in love.

AJ and Baby H

Martha Stewart Ruined My Art Project

George and I had a really tough time figuring out what to do with Baby H’s bedroom (George wanted to do a Batman theme, and I was very much not on board.)  One day, we started talking about a space-themed nursery.  I had this picture in my head of a grey and blue room with stars all over the place, and George was imagining the Enterprise (that’s the Star Trek ship, right?) on a mobile and stuffed Yodas and all things “space nerd”.  So we compromised.

Baby H’s nursery has grey walls and blue accents.  There are stars on his crib sheets and his blanket is an amazing crocheted replica of the TARDIS from Doctor Who.  George and I both made artwork to adorn the walls – George did a medium-sized acrylic painting of a cartoon Doctor standing on the moon, which we hung above the crib, while I made a print of some relevant song lyrics (“Look at the stars / Look how they shine for you“) and set to work on a 12-canvas art project involving the constellations of the zodiac signs.

Space Nursery

Awesome Doctor Who artwork by George; awesome TARDIS crib blanket by my friend Becky

Stars Print

Here’s what my print looks like. There was a lot of glare on the frame; I tried to help.

I’m a dirty hippie and George loves science, and what better way to merge those personality traits than with zodiac constellations, right?

Right.

I had George swing by the art store one night on his way home from work and pick up a dozen 6×6″ canvasses, and then I spent an entire Friday night painting them metallic blue and silver, because I decided on a whim that I should use metallic paint, and, oh yeah - metallic paint is the streakiest ever.  I had to do three coats on each canvas.  But in the end, they looked exactly how I pictured them:

Astrology Paintings

I was about to start plotting “stars” on to the canvases when a thought crossed my mind:  constellations are carefully measured and mapped out, not “eyeballed” and guesstimated.  What was I doing?  These needed to be precisely measured and accurately plotted!  (According to my friend Jodi, this is a prime example of how I can be… what were the words again?… insanely neurotic.  Babies do not know whether or not you have estimated the placement of the stars on the little paintings for their nurseries, and she is absolutely right.  But you know who does know?  The artist.)

And thus began the process of measuring and plotting.  And if Jodi was here, she would be pointing at these pictures and nudging you and making that raised-eyebrow “see what I mean?” face, because here’s what that process looked like:

Constellation Paintings

Once all twelve constellations were (accurately!) plotted out on to tracing paper, I transferred the marks on to the canvasses so I knew where the “stars” were supposed to go, and then I got out a nice round brush and some white paint, and started dotting away:

Constellation Paintings

Twelve little canvasses (plus a few touch-ups, here and there) and I was all set.  Between the multiple coats of metallic paint, and the plotting, and the measuring, and then finally - finally! – the painting, I had spent the better portion of the weekend on what was supposed to just be “some quick art for the baby’s walls”.

The following Monday, I grabbed a hammer, some nails, and a measuring tape, and I hung all the paintings from my little constellation project in Baby H’s room.

Hanging Pictures

And they were kind of adorable.  (#modesty)

Constellation Paintings

And then Martha Stewart ruined everything.

See, about a week later, George took me on a trip to the art supply store to grab some stuff that I needed for a commission project.  I can’t just go to the art store and get what I need.  I CAN’T.  I have to peruse.  I stroll the aisles and I spot the new products.  I take a mental inventory of things I might want to use in future projects.  I stand in front of the paint brushes and I drool.  And while we were there, perusing, I happened to spot a little bottle of Glow in the Dark Finish, by the crafting queen, Miss Martha Stewart.  And I thought about those constellations on the wall in the nursery, and I thought about the glow finish and how I could use it to create the lines that you see in constellation diagrams, and I carried that bottle of glow-in-the-dark finish right up to the cash register with the rest of my supplies, and home it came.

According to the bottle, I needed to do at least two coats with the glow finish, and each coat needed 2-3 hours of drying time in between.  No problem.  I pulled out a paintbrush and set to work on the first coat:

Constellation Paintings

See how you can just barely see the lines connecting the stars?  Perfect.  Because the whole point is that you don’t see the lines until the lights go off.  At this point, I was totally patting myself on the back and congratulating myself on this fantastic idea that I’d had.  I had just taken my zodiac constellation project from “hey, that’s pretty cool” to “dude… that’s awesome”.  Except, no I freaking hadn’t.

Here’s where it all went awry.

It turns out that when you can barely see where your previous lines were, they tend to get a little thicker and sloppier with each additional coat.  Which, again, isn’t a huge concern when you can’t see them.  Except that it also turns out that Miss Martha’s little glow-in-the-dark product becomes less and less invisible with each coat.

I did three coats.

Suddenly, every line is glaringly obvious, even in full daylight.

Constellation Art

SEE THOSE??  Ugh!

But wait, there’s more!  Let me show you something extra fun about this whole thing:

Darkness

BOOM.

Are you wondering why I made a black square in Photoshop and stuck it in my blog post?  Cuz that’s not what you’re looking at.  That is an actual photograph of Baby H’s glow-in-the-dark constellation artwork with the lights off.

Yeah.

They don’t glow in the dark.

I tried “charging” the paint under lights all day so that I could get a really awesome photo of my really awesome glow-in-the-dark paintings and then you’d all be like, “*gasp* that’s so cool!”, but Martha had other ideas.  Martha wanted to make me look like a fool so that she will forever continue to be the queen of crafts, but I’m ON TO YOU, MARTHA.

*pant* *pant* *pant*

 

…  So… um…

That’s the story of the time that Martha Stewart ruined my art.

 

 

Challenge Accepted: Nail Whitening

Look at my nails…
Looks like they finally grew…
And they stopped breaking, too…
But they were all yellow.

(Yes, I just opened with a Coldplay reference.  What?)

I’m kind of obsessed with my own fingernails.  I had a terrible nail-biting habit from very early childhood until maybe - maybe – two years ago.  And then one day I decided that I was over having “dude hands” with short, stubby, raggedy nails and I wanted pretty girl hands, and thus began the journey of growing my fingernails.  I did pretty well with it, except that for a long time, my nails were pretty weak and would break super-easy.  But instead of giving them a chance to grow out and strengthen and learn to be awesome, I went to a nail salon and had them throw acrylics on top of all my nails – even the non-broken ones – so that all my nails were the same length for a party I was going to.  And then a couple of weeks later, the acrylics came off, and oh my gosh, you guys, my nails were PISSED.  The amount of damage done by that one set of acrylics was crazy.  My nails were more brittle than ever and it took months before they started growing in strong and healthy again.

Eventually I had some pretty fingernails and I was super-happy about it and I started stocking up on all the fancy nail polishes that I could get my hands on because hey, I finally have pretty nails and then I got pregnant and Baby H started sucking all the nutrients out of my system and all of my nails broke off again.

Because of course they did.

But here we are, in the home stretch of the final trimester.  Baby H is due any time now, and my nails have been speed-growing over the last few weeks, and I have been obsessively massaging my nail beds and keeping my nails painted because I’m convinced that they’re less prone to breakage when there’s a coat or two of nail polish on there.  Everything was going smashingly, until I set to work on a project that involved working with clay.

#ArtistProblems, you guys.

See, working with clay is a pain in the ass when you have fingernails, because they scrape the clay and leave marks and maybe you just finished smoothing out that section perfectly and then BAM, your pinky nail dug in to it and now you have to start all over.  Also, clay plus painted nails equals not awesome.  Something about the clay always makes my shiny, fancy nail polish look weirdly flat and smudgy, and when I’m trying to wash the clay off, it lifts the polish at the tips.  Plus, if there’s polish on my nails, I can’t see the ridiculous amount of clay that inevitably ends up underneath my nails, and that’s gross.  So, before I got to work on my clay project, I sat down with a few cotton balls and some polish remover.

Ew.  Double-yew tee eff.

My nails were yellow.

Yellow fingernails

Gross, right?  I hopped on to Google and apparently there are a whole mess of reasons why your nails might appear yellow:

  • Smoking.  Sorry, smokers, but this is sort of self-inflicted, y’know?  
  • Nail fungus.  Ew.  (Pro tip:  if you are easily grossed out, DO NOT do a Google image search for “nail fungus”.  You are going to see some gnarly toes, people.)
  • Yellow Nail Syndrome, which is some sort of inherited condition that I feel like I would have known about before now if that was the issue.
  • Serious health conditions involving the heart, thyroid, liver, kidney, and what have you.
  • NAIL POLISH STAINS.

Ding ding ding.

(Uh, also, disclaimer:  I’m not a medical professional in the slightest, so maybe if your nails are turning yellow, go see your doctor and find out what’s up.  I skipped that step and opted to believe that my nails were stained from all of the polishes I’ve been using over the last few weeks, but please rest assured that if I don’t see any improvements in the next little while, I will be checking in with my doc.)

Now that I knew all the possible reasons behind my yellow nails, it was time to find a solution.  So obviously I turned to Pinterest to see what brilliant solutions were available, and wouldn’t you know, there were a few.

Pinterest Solution One:  Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda

Nail Whitening Test

Confession:  As soon as I saw this, I was like, “BAM.  That’s the problem-solver.”  I had so much success with my last baking soda experiment that I now just pretty much consider it to be a miracle solution.  I wandered around the house and grabbed the supplies I needed for this super-simple “recipe”:

1 tbsp. 3% hydrogen peroxide
2½ tbsp. baking soda

That’s it.  Two ingredients.  Easy as pie.  Apparently I was to mix the peroxide and the baking soda in to a paste, apply to my fingernails with a cotton swab, and then wait five minutes before rinsing off… even I can’t mess those instructions up.

Nail Whitening

Nail Whitening Paste

Five minutes later, I happily went to the kitchen sink to wash off my hands and see the shiny, clean, unstained fingernails I had just given myself:

Yellow fingernails

Wait, WHAT??  There was literally no sign of improvement at all.  Baking soda had let me down.

But I was not ready to give up just yet, so I slathered my hands (and nails) in moisturizer and prepared to experiment again a day later, this time using…

Pinterest Solution Two:  Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste

This “recipe” was even easier than than the first:  it’s just toothpaste.  There didn’t seem to be any specific brand recommended or anything – “whitening toothpaste” was as descriptive as it got, so I squeezed a dab of our toothpaste (Crest Complete Whitening plus Scope) on a piece of tinfoil and set to work.

As I was smearing toothpaste on to my fingertips, I was thinking about the process of tooth-brushing, and how a toothbrush is kind of abrasive against your tooth enamel.  What if I needed that for my fingernails, too?  I didn’t have an extra toothbrush laying around, but I had more Q-Tips, and cotton swabs are kind of abrasive too, right?  So I used the Q-Tips to kind of “scrub” the toothpaste in to my fingernails.

Whitening your fingernails

This was another one of those “five minute solutions”, so I scrubbed until the timer on my phone went off and then I went to wash my hands.  Heads up?  Toothpaste is harder to remove than baking soda/hydrogen peroxide paste.  I used soap and water, but toothpaste had slid in to the little crevices between my nails and skin and dried out.  Also, my fingernails smelled like mint.  I washed them a second time, and here’s what I discovered:

Fingernail stains

OMG STILL YELLOW.  There was a slight improvement in the colour of my nails, but they still had a yellowy tint.  Plus, my fingernails felt kind of dry and rough, and I blame the toothpaste.  Time for more moisturizer-slash-TLC.

“But, AJ, what do I do if my nails are yellow?”

Shh.  I got you.  I found the perfect solution:

Manicure

Boom.  No more yellow fingernails!  (Just make sure that you’re applying a clear base underneath your nail polish to help prevent future staining, especially when you’re using a darker shade.)

Verdict:
Hydrogen Peroxide / Baking Soda Paste:  total failure.  You let me down, Baking Soda.  I’m not mad; I’m just disappointed.
Whitening Toothpaste:  Meh.  It makes a little bit of a difference, but I feel like it made my nails angry, and after everything I’ve gone through to grow these babies, I’d rather not risk weakening them again.
I’ll be using a base coat from now on underneath my polishes, and hopefully that will prevent any further stains.  I’ll check in with an update in a few weeks and let you know if it’s making a difference.  In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to stock up on pretty (opaque!) colours to keep my nails looking fancy.

Essie All In One Base

I Put the PRO in Procrastinate.

Sort of.  Or maybe I just have writer’s block.  I have a little list of blog posts that I fully intend to write, but when I sit down to write them, I end up staring at my laptop screen and waiting for my fingers to do something.  So today, I’m just going to steal this list of 50 questions from Juliette, because sometimes you need a Q&A session in order to actually get anything posted.

Shrug!

 

1.  What are you wearing?
At this point, I wear whatever fits.  Today, it’s a pair of Lululemon Groove Pants (my go-to pants, forever) with a black and purple stripey shirt that definitely has a hole in the middle.  But it’s stretchy and it fits over my ginormous baby bump, so that’s all I really care about these days.

2. Ever been in love?
Obviously.  I feel like this was written for teenagers…

3.  Ever had a terrible breakup?
Yes, I have, and it was intense and dramatic and scarring and you know what?  I’m over it.  And I have been for a long time.  When you’re in the middle of it and it hurts so much it can be hard to believe that one day you’re going to look back and go “Meh, that sucked, but whatever”.  But you are, I promise.  #AdviceOfTheDay

4.  How tall are you?
I’m 5’6″, which I think is pretty average, but I think pretty much all of my friends are shorter than me and that makes me feel like a giant.

5.  How much do you weigh?
I am 37 weeks pregnant.  How much do you think I weigh?  Here’s a hint:
elephant artist

6.  Any tattoos?
Seven?  I think?  *counts*   Yeah, seven.

7.  Any piercings?
Nope, not any more.  When I was really little, like two years old, I got my ears pierced and I had them until I was eight or nine and then they got infected and I took them out and the holes closed up.  Then, when I was sixteen or something, I had my cartilage pierced, but I went to get my hair cut and the hair dresser got the ring caught in her brush and legit ripped it out of my ear.  Apparently, I still hadn’t learned that piercings are clearly not meant for me, because I got my belly button pierced when I was 18, and it never healed properly and it wouldn’t even turn, and then I got pregnant with J-Bird and refused to take it out because it hurt, and did you know that pregnant bellybuttons turn in to “outties”?, and now I have a WICKED HUGE scar right above my bellybutton and I will never pierce anything ever again.

8.  OTP (one true pair, favorite fictional couple)?
I am super-old, because I would have had no idea what that meant if it wasn’t clarified in brackets immediately afterwards.  This is a ridiculously hard question for me to answer because I fall in love with fictional couples all the time.  Uhhhh… I’m going to say Rose and The Doctor, because I still can’t watch this without ugly-crying:

9.  Favourite show?
Geez…  I have a bunch.  Most of my favourite shows aren’t even on the air anymore (Happy Endings, One Tree Hill, Buffy…)  Right now, my most “unmissable” of shows is The Vampire Diaries, because duh – Ian Somerhalder.
Ian Somerhalder wink

10.  Favourite bands?
Aerosmith, always and forever.

11.  Something you miss?
The summer is almost over and I have not had a single vodka/lemonade, aka “my summer drink”.  So right now, I miss that.  Also, being able to see my own toes from a standing position.

12.  Favourite song?
I’m not sure I have one.  Pass.

13.  How old are you?
Now I know this was intended for teenagers, because people do not ask grown-ups how old they are.  (I’m thirty-two.)

14.  Zodiac sign?
OK, I know this seems like a cut-and-dry answer, but it totally isn’t.  I was supposed to be a Pisces, but I born on the Pisces/Aries cusp, so technically I am an Aries.  Except I’m totally not an Aries – like, I would be the worst Aries ever - and I’m one hundred percent Pisces.  So yeah.  That was a complex answer for a seemingly simple question.

15.  Quality you look for in a partner?
Integrity.  For real, I have dated some really, really shitty dudes (sorry, Mom).

16.  Favourite quote?
I really like “Leap and the net will appear”.  It appeals to my spontaneous side.
Leap and the Net Will Appear

17.  Favourite actor?
Ian Somerhalder, because we’re going to get married one day and he needs to know that I was supportive even before the start.
Ian Somerhalder Blowing Kiss

18.  Favourite colour?
Turquoise-blue.  Like… Tiffany’s boxes.

19.  Loud music or soft?
That 100% depends on what I’m doing.  If I am trying to talk over it, soft music.  If I’m cleaning, the louder the better.

20.  Where do you go when you’re sad?
I get in my bed and I pull the covers over my head and I wallow and wish for hugs and snuggles.  (I usually get them from the dog.)

21.  How long does it take you to shower?
I can’t say that I’ve ever timed it, but I think I take a pretty long time.  Probably like 20 minutes?  I get in there and then the water is so hot and steamy and fantastic that I don’t want to get out.

22.  How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
Depends on what I’m doing.  I am a lazy slob most days, because I work from home and I don’t bother with makeup… so it takes me like 10 minutes to roll out of bed, brush my teeth, throw my hair in a ponytail, pull on some yoga pants and a tank top, and put in my contacts.  But if I’m going out somewhere, that alllll changes.  I have been known to start getting ready for events about an hour and a half before I have to leave.  That sounds crazy-vain, but it’s all my hair’s fault (I have deceptively thick, wavy, super-stubborn hair… like Dog the Bounty Hunter).
I need a new hair style

23.  Ever been in a physical fight?
Yes, I have.  Maybe I’ll blog about it sometime.  Except probably not.

24.  Turn on?
Oh, uhmmm… when your boyfriend brings home a brand new French Bulldog puppy and a bunch of fancy new art supplies and uh… bougatsa from your favourite Greek bakery.  *cough* someone send this to George *cough*

25.  Turn off?
Lies.  I have dated more than my share of liars, you guys.  (This does not apply to George; I’m talking about some of the unsavoury characters from my past relationships.)
Lies Make Baby Jesus Cry

26.  The reason I started blogging?
I used to have a dog blog (for real) and then one day I decided that I didn’t like being restricted to writing only about dog-related things, and that’s how this blog was born.

27.  Fears?
I have a number of them, namely insects.  I have a pretty severe insect-phobia.  Also:  sharks, aliens, anything with an “exoskeleton”, a bunch of medical stuff (I’m a hypochondriac with a (diagnosed!) anxiety disorder; it’s intense), and so on.

28.  Last thing that made you cry?
Watching the video that I posted under question number eight.

29.  Last time you said you loved someone?
When George left for work this morning.  Awwwwwww….
Schmidt Gag

30.  Meaning behind the name of your blog?
It is a greeting-slash-introduction that rhymes and includes my name.  So, yeah… Clever, right?

31.  Last book you read?
This is totally embarrassing, but I don’t even know.  I haven’t read anything memorable lately.  I think it might have been Many Lives, Many Masters, and if it was, that was in late 2013 and I’m even more embarrassed by this answer.  I swear, you guys, I read.  I really do.
Edit:  No!  Wait!  I think it was maybe the Hyperbole and a Half book by Allie Brosh??

32.  The book you’re currently reading?
Well, now, this is even more embarrassing than the previous answer…  Uhhh…  I am not currently reading any books.

33.  Last show you watched?
Firefly.  George hasn’t seen it so he put it on Netflix a couple of nights ago and I get to re-watch (which I’m totally on board with because Joss Whedon is amazing and so is Adam Baldwin.)
Firefly Adam Baldwin

34.  Last person you talked to?
In person:  J-Bird.  On the phone:  A web design client.

35.  The relationship between you and the last person you texted?
The last person I texted was George, so “basically married, except I don’t have a blue topaz ring and I haven’t gotten to wear a pretty princess dress yet” is the relationship.

36.  Favourite food?
This is a difficult question to answer as a pregnant hippo.  It keeps changing.  When I am not pregnant, my answer is “my mom’s roast chicken” or “Belgian waffles”.  Over the last 8.5 months, the answer has been everything from “pie crust” to “blueberries” to “funnel cakes” to “shortbread”.  … And now I have made myself super-hungry.
OM NOM NOM

37.  Place you want to visit?
I would really, really love to go to Hawaii.  Also, George keeps telling me that Santorini (in Greece) is basically “paradise on Earth”, which I would like to confirm for myself.

38.  Last place you were?
This feels really vague.  I don’t think I get the question.  The last room of my house that I was in, prior to coming in to my bedroom and typing this out, was the kitchen.  Last place outside of my house was the OB/GYN’s office this morning.

39.  Do you have a crush?
No, because I’m not a teenaged girl.  I mean, unless you count Ian Somerhalder, but that’s not a crush.  That’s as-yet-unrequited-love.

40.  Last time you kissed someone?
This morning.  Wait, does my dog count?  Because if my dog counts, then like, 20 minutes ago.

41.  Last time you were insulted?
Let me see… how many minutes has it been since J-Bird last told me I was fat…?
Not fat, I'm pregnant

42.  Favourite flavour of sweet?
Sweet?  Like, as in candy?  Big Foot (those red gummy feet).  This question is vague, also.

43.  What instruments do you play?
I don’t really?  Not anymore.  In middle school, I played the flute, but if you handed me one now, I would look at it like it was some sort of alien object.  I also used to be able to play piano, but it’s been a really, really long time and I don’t remember how.  Oh, and once upon a time, I was the bassist in a band… but then my bass guitar was stolen and I stopped playing and now I would probably suck at that, also.

44.  Favourite piece of jewelry?
The only piece of jewelry that I wear is my great grandmother’s wedding rings.  They’re sterling silver with no gems (they were in a depression, after all!) and I adore them and never take them off.

45.  Last sport you played?
Hahahahha, I don’t play sports.  I watch J-Bird play them.

46.  Last song you sang?
If I’m being honest?  This has been in my head for like 2 days and I have been intermittently singing it ever since…

47.  Favourite chat-up line?
Like, a pick up line??  No.  Just no.

48.  Have you ever used it?
I don’t use pick-up lines, you guys.  And you shouldn’t, either, under any circumstance.  Let’s all just make a deal right now to make pick-up lines a thing of the past.

49.  Last time you hung out with anyone?
Well I hang out with George and J-Bird every day, but I guess if we’re talking about people who are not residents of my household, then it was Saturday at J-Bird’s softball championships, where I “hung out” with my mom, dad, and George’s BFF, Cory.  Does that count?

50.  Who should answer these questions next?
NO-ONE because this took a million years.  And here I thought I was being clever and not having to actually write a full-out blog post.  FOILED AGAIN!

How The “Magic” Happens

I have this Internet BFF named Jodi, and Jodi has her very own dog blog (along with other internet-ty projects) called Kol’s Notes.  Apparently, there’s a little “blog tour” going around right now that asks bloggers about their writing process, and apparently, Jodi thinks I have some sort of “process” that I should share, because she nominated me to join in on the tour.  (Haha.  Hahahahaha.)

So, okay.  Let’s talk about my “process” through the three questions provided as part of the Writing Process Blog Tour, shall we?

1.  What are you working on?

Geez.  Mostly, I’m working on growing a human being.  (That feels like a cop-out answer, but you guys, I’m so tired and sweaty.  We’re in the home stretch, and Baby H is due in the next 2 – 4 weeks (depending who you ask) and I mostly just want to lay on my couch in front of a fan.)

Lazy Hippo

But I actually do have a number of projects on the go, including:

  • a post about how neurotic I am when it comes to art projects
  • two baby shower posts (which I don’t have photos for yet, MOM…)
  • a confession about my “strange obsessions”
  • a “studio tour” post (my studio is legit in the middle of my living room, but we’ll call it a studio anyway)
  • an introduction to a very talented friend of mine

2.  Why do you write what you do?

What?  I don’t know.  I don’t even understand this question.

I write what I write because this is my personal “lifestyle” blog and this is what I’m currently living.  Does that make sense?  I write about art stuff because that’s how I (mostly) spend my days, and I write about George and J-Bird and Baby H because they are my loves, and I write about what’s happening in my life because it’s what I know.  I’m not going to write about science, because I am not scientific, and I’m not going to write about fashion trends because I live in yoga pants and tank tops, and I’m not going to write about cars, because I don’t even drive.  I write what I know and like, and hopefully there are people out there that are interested in the same things who want to read it, y’know?  Simple as that.

Duh!

3.  How does your writing process work?

Hahahaha, again with that whole “process” assumption!  OK, here’s how my “blogging process” usually goes:

First, I realize that it has been like a week or more since I last posted, and I chastise myself for being a terrible blogger and slacker.  Then, I open up my WordPress dashboard, pull my laptop on to my lap, and start typing.

For realz.

Sometimes I have something I specifically want to blog about, and that makes it easier because chances are, I’ve got a bunch of pictures prepared and I’ve already sort of thought out what I want to say.  Other times, I just let myself start writing and I see where it takes me, and then I tweak the post as needed.  Juliette once said that she liked my writing style because it was easy to get a mental image of what I was writing about, and I think it’s because when I post, I just write the way I would have a conversation with someone.  And sometimes that means I am scattered and kind of neurotic, but if I happen to be having a scattered and neurotic day, then that’s what’s going to come across.

So there you have it.  The “secret” behind my blogging methodology is basically that I am not very organized and I blog without rules and there is no secret behind my blogging methodology.  TADA!

And now I’m supposed to nominate three other bloggers to take part, so I choose…

Kellee from Kellee the Caffeinated
Juliette from The Other Juliette
and
Aussa from Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy.

Oh, and this is cheating but I’m going to add an extra nominee:  my baby cousin (who is like 22 and probably tired of me referring to her as “my baby cousin”) just started her first blog and I don’t know if she has a “process” yet, but she was a journalism major so maybe she knows secret writing tips and tricks that she can share or something.  GO, KELLY, GO!

Canadian Accents?

Accent Vlog Link UpToday, I’m taking part in the “Accent Vlog Link-Up”.  Filming this thing was a pain in the butt, for serious.  Apparently, none of the video capturing programs on my MacBook Pro felt like recording the audio portion yesterday, so I got a bunch of silent video of myself talking.  That’s fun.  So I had to go “makeshift” and use my cell phone to record the video.  Other things I learned about vlogging?  Angles are important, people will enter a room with a closed door to see why you’re sitting in there, and editing video takes the most amount of time EVAR.

Now on with the vloggy goodness!

 

What Happened to July??

Sooooo, July is over.  I’m still trying to wrap my head around how quickly it disappeared.  I feel like I spend all year waiting for the summer to get here and then it’s gone before I ever get a chance to enjoy it.  This summer is going especially quickly because our calendar is intense.  J-Bird has softball twice a week, plus we’ve had baby showers and birthday parties and doctor’s appointments and all sorts of craziness.  Here’s a quick recap of what’s happened over the last two weeks:

For starters, J-Bird turned ten.

I am officially old enough to have a child whose age is comprised of double-digits.  I tend to make a pretty huge deal out of J-Bird’s birthday every year, and obviously this year was no different (again, double-digits, you guys!)  George basically played the “best stepdad ever” card and was like “Oh, P.S., I booked his birthday off so I could take him out to do fun stuff.”  How cute is that?  So we spent a busy and fun-filled day celebrating our newly-turned-ten-year-old:  we took him to Starbucks for a frappucino in the morning (“Do I get to have a venti since it’s my birthday??”) and then we brought him home to open his presents.  His stepmom, who is a teacher and has summers off, stopped by with J-Bird’s little half-sister for a visit and to drop off presents, and after that, we headed to the movies to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 (J-Bird has seen the first movie probably 86 gazillion times and was super-amped on going to see the sequel!)  Then we rushed home, got changed, and headed off to the park for softball (J-Bird’s team totally won, BTW).  I brought pop and cookies decorated like baseballs, and J-Bird’s team sang happy birthday to him, and then we came home and had a Mario Kart 8 tournament until it was way past bedtime.  I’d say it was a birthday success.

J-Bird's 10th Birthday Recap

George’s nephew also turned ten.

Which meant that we had birthday party festivities to attend!  J-Bird and George’s nephew get along swimmingly, being born two days apart, and this year’s birthday party included a trip to laser tag.  J-Bird could not have been more excited about his first laser tag experience, you guys.  I heard about it for weeks leading up to the party.  For a brief moment, during one of their three games, J-Bird was in first place!  I managed to get a (crappy) picture of the scoreboard, but by the time the round ended, he’d fallen to fifth.  Still pretty awesome for a newbie, right?

Angelo's 10th birthday party

Why, yes, there *is* Greek writing on that cake….

And obviously J-Bird had a party, also…

We did ours on the following weekend (July 26th) so that there was no conflict with George’s nephew’s party.  Remember how I was freaking out over trying to throw a Pokemon party and I had no clue what I was doing?  I figured it out.

J-Bird loved his party.  I was totally calm the night before, as I finished his birthday cake and prepped the decorations.  I was even calm in the morning, before the party started, as I hung decorations and inflated balloons.  But then my house was filled with people, and my broken A/C made it so hot in here that I was super-attractive and dripping with sweat (it was like the surface of the sun), and there was a lot of noise and commotion, and I was trying to lead party games, and EVERYONE was cheating or flat-out refusing to participate, and I will be honest:  I lost my calm.  And I lost it right as George came up to see how I was doing (so, on the bright side, George was the only one who saw my demon-face and not the kids…)

Cougar Town

But aside from my momentary meltdown, everything was good – the cake turned out fabulously, the decorations were cute, I managed to come up with a bunch of Pokemon-themed games, and the loot bags were freaking adorable.  (They were Pokeballs filled with candy.  So perfect.)

Pokemon Party

I know that seems like a lot of excitement in two weeks, but guess what?  That wasn’t all.

The day after J-Bird’s birthday party, I had another baby shower!

But I’m not going to tell you about it.  At least, not today…  it was too spectacularly planned by my fantastic cousin to just get a mention in a recap post.  This shower deserves a post of its own – so keep an eye out for that in the next couple of days!

Also, be sure to come back tomorrow, when I post my first-ever (and possibly last-ever) vlog!  (I’m totally jumping in on the Accent Vlog Link-Up, which is sure to be hilarious.  If you have a blog and a video camera / webcam, you should probably also take part – details here!)

 

The Other Juliette

I Need A Milkshake

The title of this post has nothing to do with anything, except that I really do want a milkshake right now.  So I mean, it’s honest, if completely unrelated to the rest of the post.

I’m really scattered right now, so I’m going to apologize in advance because I feel like this is going to be all over the map.  I’ll try and keep it coherent, I promise.

Let’s start with a quick weekend recap.

Remember how I mentioned that my cousin and his wife are involved with J-Bird’s softball league?  Well, they both play on one of the adult teams (along with coaching and whatever it is that they do) every Friday.  I’d been thinking about taking J-Bird to see the grown-ups play since he’s been loving baseball so much, so when I found out that they were having a themed game where everyone was coming with beach-themed accessories, I knew that was the game that I had to take him to see.  Because, hello, baseball and water wings?  Yes.  There were swim trunks and pool floaties and water guns everywhere.

Surf n Turf Theme Baseball

Here’s a picture of my cousin at bat, followed by one of his wife just before the game, because when your family is playing baseball in pool floaties and water wings, you have to share that with the internet, obviously:

Surf and Turf Theme

Surf n Turf Theme

Saturday was less interesting.  George spent most of the day doing yard work and running errands while J-Bird and I sat in front of the fan in the living room and tried not to melt.  (So, in case you were wondering, no – our air conditioning has not been fixed.)  On Sunday, I was supposed to go to a baby shower for my high school BFF (who recently had an absolutely gorgeous but slightly too early son), but I woke up with swollen glands and a sore throat, and I was not about to take my summer cold to a new mama who spends all day in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit.  Not. Happening.  Instead, I moped around on the couch and whined about how I was missing out, so y’know… not my most productive of days, either.  Although, George did go out and get surprise Dairy Queen Blizzards after dinner, so that helped with the moping (and I also got an awesome picture of J-Bird with his face covered in Oreo crumble).

Speaking of J-Bird…

It’s his birthday on Thursday.  He is going to be ten.  TEN.  You guys, do you have any idea how old that makes me feel?

Schmidt GIF

George took Thursday off so we can surprise J-Bird with a trip to the movies to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 in the afternoon.  J-Bird’s dying to see it.  I’ve lost count of how many times he’s actually seen the first How to Train Your Dragon movie, and he’s watched every episode of the cartoon TV series at least three times.  He’s going to be so stoked.

He also has a softball game on Thursday night, so I’m making some adorable baseball-shaped sugar cookies and taking a variety case of pop (the kind with like, orange and grape and cream soda and stuff) to the field for post-game birthday celebrations with the team.  (If you haven’t already “liked” my Facebook page, you should go do that now since I’ll be posting a picture of the super-cute baseball cookies once they’re done!  Or… the hilarious aftermath if everything goes awry, and you don’t want to miss that, now do you?)

Oh, do you guys want a baby update?

Everything is moving along as expected.  I’ve decided that Baby H is going to be born on August 26th.  I mean, if you ask my OB/GYN, he’ll tell you that September 9th is the due date, but I picked J-Bird’s birthday based on a gut feeling, so we’ll see who wins what happens this time around.  The nursery is still nowhere close to being ready, so that’s pretty stressful, but not stressful enough for me to hope for more time.  I have to pee every time I stand up, and if I’m awake, I’m hungry, so yeah… I’m getting about ready for this little dude to make his grand entrance.

OK.  That’s it.  I have to waddle up the stairs to the bathroom (again) and then find a snack (again).

But I want to live vicariously through you guys, with your fantastic summer plans and lack of alcohol restrictions.  What have you been up to?

Tourist in My Own Town: Taste of Lawrence

Last summer, my gorgeous friend Kelly came to Toronto for a visit.  We were out having dinner/drinks and chatting away when she used a phrase that has stuck with me ever since – she was talking about taking her two daughters out to a bunch of different places and said “I feel like a tourist in my own town”.  Tourist in my own town.  I don’t know what it is, but I love it.

So it just became a new feature on the blog.  See, Toronto has about a gazillion events that take place during the summer (I’m not kidding; there was just a news report on how tired Torontonians are of having these constant street closures due to summertime events/festivals) and since I actually like the summer and don’t feel the need to hibernate, I can go play at the events and then tell you guys about them.  You can be tourists with me!  (Disclaimer:  I’m pretty pregnant these days, so while this currently feels like a fantastic idea, I can’t guarantee that I won’t change my mind about wandering street festivals and amusement parks while carrying 40 extra lbs and doing the preggo-waddle.)

This past weekend, we just so happened to have hit up one of Toronto’s annual street festivals, and of course I took photos, so let’s recap!

It’s called “The Taste of Lawrence“, which is a blatant rip-off of one of our bigger and longer-running street festivals, Taste of the Danforth.

About four years ago, I lived in a condo right at the intersection where The Taste of Lawrence took place, and it was pretty convenient to be able to step out of my front door and into a street festival.  I’m pretty sure that for all three meals on the Saturday of that weekend, I just took the elevator down, picked a food vendor, and bought something delicious.  J-Bird loved it.  There was a small midway, and there were only a few rides that he was big enough to go on, but he rode them over and over and had a blast doing it.  When the sun went down, we walked to the main stage and watched a hula-hooping show where they set the hula hoops on fire.

J-Bird has wanted to go back every year since, but it always fell on a weekend where he was at his dad’s and he kept missing out…

Until this year.

This summer, things have worked out differently and J-Bird was around for the Taste of Lawrence weekend, so obviously I had to take him.  (Plus, I found out that there was a Beaver Tails stand there this year and there was no way that I was missing out on Beaver Tails, you guys.  Those things are delicious.)

We found a spot to park, made our way over to the tents, and what should so happen to be right in front of me but the Beaver Tails stand.  Obviously it was fate.  If you’ve never had Beaver Tails before, let me describe this magical item to you:  it’s a piece of dough that is pulled and stretched in to the shape of a beaver’s tail (duh) and then fried.  Then it gets brushed with butter, and then you can choose from a bunch of magical toppings.  Years ago (and I’m talking like, well over a decade) I worked in an amusement park with a Beaver Tails location, and your options were pizza sauce and mozza cheese, Nutella, apples and cinnamon, or cinnamon/sugar/lemon juice.  The end.  Their menu has clearly expanded because there were way more options, and I ended up going for something called the Choco Vanil’, which was vanilla icing with crushed Oreo bits on top and then finished off with some chocolate sauce.  #NoRegrets

Taste of Lawrence 2014

Both of the boys opted not to get a Beaver Tail, because they’re insane.  (Although George definitely took a few bites of mine.  FYI, stealing bites of delicious deep-fried pastry from a pregnant woman is not safe, and you probably shouldn’t try it at home.)

We wandered the festival for a while, checking out a bunch of booths.  J-Bird found an ice cream truck and we told him to pick whatever he wanted, and he chose a Rocket.  A Rocket, you guys.  As in those three-coloured Popsicles that we can find at any convenience store, except this one wasn’t even Popsicle-brand and it was $3.50.  There were sno-cones and slushies and soft-serve ice cream dipped in chocolate sauce, and my kid picks the one thing that he can get literally any other day.  I do not understand the brains of children.

One of the booths was selling natural honey/wax products and they had bees at the table, which George and J-Bird thought was the coolest thing ever.  I was not so impressed.  Bees + AJ = not friends.

Taste of Lawrence

Every year, my amazing friend Jenny gets a booth for her yoga business (and to sell beautiful mala bead jewelry), and I always drop by and say hi.  (Don’t mind the arm, that’s just my little photo-bomber in action):

Taste of Lawrence

J-Bird was starting to get impatient for the midway fun, so we said goodbye to Jenny and her husband and walked the final stretch to the “fun zone” – the place where the games and rides were.  I feel like you have to go through some sort of serious sales-pressure-training-course to become a game operator at a carnival midway, because OMG they are so pushy!  And there’s like a whole strip of them in a row, so after you say no to one, the next one starts calling at you, and they will totally use anything they can to try and get you to play.

And it worked, because here’s J-Bird throwing darts at a dragon.

Taste of Lawrence

(He totally won, in case you were wondering, and now we have a stuffed ninja-penguin worth about $2 in crappy materials that cost $12 in darts.  I know, I know, you’re not paying for the prize, you’re paying for the fun.)

It turns out that J-Bird has grown so much since his last trip to Taste of Lawrence that he’s officially big enough to go on every single one of the rides, so he opted to skip the “kid rides” and go for the bigger stuff (although he wanted someone to ride most things with him).  Since I’m currently not able to do anything fun, George got to go on all the rides and I got to stand off to the side and hold water bottles and balloons and ninja-penguin stuffies.

Taste of Lawrence

But it also meant that I could get pictures of my two favourite people on carnival rides together, and I can’t think of a better way to end off this post than with some snapshots of my boys having a blast:

Taste of Lawrence

They both loved The Scrambler

Taste of Lawrence

True story, this was kind of terrifying to watch. They ended up at a 90° angle while spinning!

Taste of Lawrence

J-Bird said this one gave him butterflies every time it was on the down-swing.

Taste of Lawrence

J-Bird went on The Gravitron alone, and I mean, ALONE – he was the only person on the ride!

So that’s the first “Tourist in My Town” post.  We measured J-Bird and found out that he’s tall enough to go on almost everything at Canada’s Wonderland, which George is super stoked on, so I have a feeling that there will be a Wonderland post coming up this summer, too – stay tuned for that!

What’s your favourite annual event or tourist hot-spot in your town?  

Parties and Projects

I’m not trying to be dramatic or anything, but it’s about a thousand degrees in my house today.  Celsius.  So what I’m trying to say is that I’m slowly melting and I need you guys to cut me some slack if my writing is sort of rambly or scattered, k?  Awesome, thanks.

Exciting things are afoot here at Chez AJ (and George); things like baby showers and birthday parties and art projects.  Let’s start with the baby showers.

There are still two and a half months to go until Baby H is due, and already he is the most spoiled child.  I know this because there is not one, not two, but three baby showers planned in his honour.  (I have affectionately dubbed them “The Greek Shower”, “The Emm Shower”, and “The Friend Shower”, named according to the majority of their attendees.)  ”The Emm Shower” is coming up in a few short weeks, and “The Friend Shower” takes place early in August, but “The Greek Shower” happened this past Sunday, so let’s talk about it.

(If you’re a dude and/or you find baby shower stuff boring, no hard feelings – just scroll right on past the upcoming photos and find your way to the section on J-Bird’s upcoming birthday or the art projects I’m working on.)

So, I had this baby shower on the weekend…

My sister-in-law (Nikki) and my mother-in-law (Elli) and Nikki’s sister-in-law (Alex) all joined forces to put together the first of the showers for Baby H, and it was a smashing success.  They held it at The Mandarin, which is a chinese buffet here in Canada, and I think I filled my plate three times before finding out that oh, btw, there’s also cake.  (Painfully full by the end of the shower, you guys.  Thank goodness for stretchy clothing.) 

Want to see some pictures?  Of course you do.

Baby Shower Selfie

Let’s start out with the obligatory “I’m going out somewhere” selfie that I obviously took before leaving the house.

Baby Shower

That’s my mother-in-law on the left, with her BFF Toula.

Baby Shower

These gorgeous ladies are (clockwise from top-left): Penny, Jenny, Toula, and Natasha.

(That beautiful blonde right there is George’s cousin’s wife, Penny, and I am very tempted to steal her hair colour.  And cut.  But I digress…)

Baby Shower

The brunette is my sister-in-law, and she’s with her long-time friend Ellie

Baby Shower Cake

How freaking adorable is this cake!?

Quick side note on those tiny shoes?  They’re an ornament and you write the baby’s birth info on the bottom (date, weight, length, etc).  LOVE IT.

Baby Shower

Obligatory group shot!

Baby Shower

OK, but seriously, I haven’t even started setting up the nursery and look how full it’s getting. #FreakingOut

Baby H got so spoiled that the nursery is jam-packed with stuff and I have not even started getting it ready yet.  Like, it hasn’t been painted, the crib is not set up, I haven’t even taken out all of the furniture from when it was George’s office.  And our summer is quickly filling up with plans, so it’s probably time to get moving on that.  Ugh.  Maybe I can hire some teenagers to come do it.

Oh!  I almost forgot!  You guys, I made a speech in Greek at the shower.  Like, really terrible Greek, but still in Greek.  It was the most nerve-wracking thing ever, especially in a public venue where a bunch of random strangers at other tables were staring at me, but I think it was a success.  I mean, my MIL cried… so either it was a hit, or Google Translate let me down and I said something horribly offensive.  I’m hoping for the hit.

While we’re on the subject of parties, let’s discuss J-Bird’s upcoming birthday for a sec.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around the part where J-Bird is turning TEN.  

Every year, I get him to pick a “theme” for his birthday party and we work with that.  Last year we did a safari theme that resulted in me holding a lemur (so in other words, that party will never be topped, ever), and in the past we’ve done Harry Potter, Scooby Doo, and a bunch of other themes.  This year?  J-Bird wants Pokemon.  Because of course he does.

You guys, I am the Jon Snow of Pokemon.

Jon Snow

But he is adamant.  It has to be Pokemon, because he is turning ten and that’s when Ash Catchem (or whatever that kid’s name is) started training Pokemon and so obviously it has to be his birthday theme.  So I’ve been Googling like a fiend, and I think I’m actually starting to come up with some ideas that don’t completely suck.  Plus, I made his invitations in the shape of little Pokeballs (which I think is what the Pokemon characters are stored in or whatever) and they came out pretty cute:

Pokeball Invitations

I’ve got a month from today to get everything all figured out, so that’s probably enough time… I think.  Although with the level of scatterbrained that I’ve been lately, I may need to consider calling “all hands on deck” and recruit my mom for some assistance on this one.  (If you happen to be a Pokemon expert, please feel free to leave a comment below and share some of your expertise in the form of decorating / game ideas, k thx.)

Plus, I’m swamped with projects in the studio, and it is AWESOME.

Actually, I’m not going to tell you about that stuff just yet.  I mean, I was planning to, but this post is getting crazy-long now and also I’m melting and I need to go stick my head in the refrigerator door for a few minutes and then get back to work on these super-awesome studio projects.  But I promise that I will tell you all about them really, really soon, k?

Wish me some relief from the heat!