Friday, January 30, 2015

Dogs + dreams

Before I had my first baby, and my second baby, there was another baby.

A fur baby.

She kept me company.
She rode in a pink stroller.
She was my kid-in-training.
She was my snuggle buddy (even when my preggo body nearly crushed her)
She walked me to the bathroom again and again when I was ready to burst.
She helped me walk my baby out.

What? It's not normal to sew your dog a naughty schoolgirl costume?

Things went wrong shortly after D was born. Lola's jealousy became a huge problem. We'd always had issues with her barking, destroying, ripping up carpet, and peeing and pooping all over the place, but they got out of control. Every time we left the condo, she barked until the point of losing her voice. There were threatening phone calls from neighbours, from the condo board. We couldn't sell the condo. We were trapped.

Happier times in her stroller

She started growling at us. Snapping. For such a little thing, her jaw strength was terrifying. On one dark afternoon, she bit my hand while I was holding baby D. I put her in her kennel, and called my sister -- sobbing -- for her to come over and just take her. JUST TAKE HER. I CAN'T.

Don't worry, this story doesn't end all Old Yeller-like. My sister's boyfriend's parents used to have a Miniature Dachshund, so they understood their troubles with excessive barking and separation anxiety. They lived in a big house surrounded by trees. They could take her everywhere with them. They could give her the home we couldn't.

So they did.

Our little hot dog


We took a lot of flak for our decision. Jokes about "trading up" for a baby. It killed me to hear it.

Yes, there are plenty of people who Kijiji or Craigslist their pets because it's not convenient, or they're moving and don't want to bring them along.

But there are also people who love their pets desperately -- who whisper in their floppy ears and sing them songs and sew them clothes -- and still have to re-home them. People who think they are doing what's best for their (human) baby, and are then haunted with their decision.

It's painful to talk about her, and it was more than four years ago.

Pregnancy announcement photo from 2009, when we were expecting D


Time moved on, D grew older, we finally (finally!) sold that blasted condo, and we moved to our House of Dreams in the country. We welcomed baby C.

All around us, families had dogs. We did not. I wanted one, of course, but I was (A) entirely convinced we couldn't handle one, with two tiny children, and (B) terrified of going through the same experience again.

I couldn't fathom picking up poop again with a baby strapped to my chest, or struggling down the sidewalk with a baby, a two-year-old, and a leash. I couldn't handle another responsibility. I just couldn't.

I wrote about sewing her Halloween costumes for The Daily News in 2007.

I've been a huge dog person since I was eight years old. When we got to choose our own assignments for projects, I used to do mine on the different breeds of dogs and how to take care of them. My dad and stepmother got a beautiful black and white Cocker Spaniel, and I was obsessed with him.

Darling Husband had never owned a dog until Little Dog, and he loved her just as much as me. He was confident that we could have another dog -- that it would be good for the kids -- but I shut down the idea.

No. No. Not again. What if ...?

My short-lived attempt at bangs ... and my snuggly, slippery little weanus (which I called her to horrify my sister)


I have seen her several times, and it's clear she is very happy. She is even more spoiled than she was with us (pre-baby) if that's possible. Her new owners have gotten kicked out of many stores because they insist on bringing her absolutely everywhere, which she adores.

Each time, she has leapt into my arms and smothered me with kisses. It makes me happy that she remembers our time together so fondly. It also hurts, because I miss her. I miss her so much.

We were photographed for the cover of Homes in 2008.

Somewhere in the shift of the kids getting older -- and our lives getting a little easier -- the ice around the doggie-part of my heart started to melt. There weren't any more diapers to change, there were far fewer bum-wipings in the run of a day. Maybe, yes. It was starting to look like more of a possibility.

Darling Husband has been pushing hard for a dog. He tells me how much the kids would love it (they would). He points out that we finally have a yard, and we don't have neighbours on all sides of us like at the condo (true). He adds that since I work from home, the dog would hardly ever be here alone (also true).

I haven't fully come around to the idea yet, but it's working its way into my mind ... into my heart.

Pictures like this are certainly helping to speed things along ...

Seeing the adorableness that is Naptime with Theo & Beau is enough to make me want to rush out and adopt the first dog I can find. I've been a fan of Jessica's sweet pictures for ages now, and she's put them together in a new book (available for preorder now -- with a special offer for a free bookplate).

I want D and C to grow up knowing the love of a dog. I want them to have a dog to care for, and snuggle with, and confide in.

I don't know when our family will take the plunge and get a dog. I don't know when my heart will fully heal.

But there are so many nights when I sit on the couch and can almost feel our future dog snuggled up in my lap. Afternoons when I long for them to be cuddled at my feet, under my desk. Not to mention the fun the kids would have playing with them in the backyard.

A dog for us is in the cards. I know that much.

Now it's just a matter of waiting for the right moment, the right one ...

... and hoping I can love them as much as I loved her.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How to make 3D photo (candy-free) Valentines

There are boxes and boxes of character-themed cardboard Valentines in the stores, and I know my kids would be thrilled to pick out a box each, but ... Mama likes herself a good Pinterest craft!

We made these adorable 3D photo Valentines for D's preschool class last year, and they were SUCH a hit -- many of the kids held onto the pictures for ages -- that we made them again this year.

View the full tutorial

I'm sharing the full tutorial today over on Scratch or Sniff, so I'd love you to pop over and check it out!

Remember: we'll keep the store-bought Valentines a secret for as long as we can. Shhhh.

:: waves a gluegun menacingly ::


Monday, January 26, 2015

10 wishes for the impending storm

  1. First and foremost, I wish that it doesn't affect my husband's ability to get home safely from work.
  2. (Secret follow-up wish: Not that I wish him to miss work, per se, but if he should get stuck here and can't get to work tomorrow night, well ... sweet. We can binge-watch more Weeds.)
  3. I wish the snow is pack-y and not powder-y, because the kids will be bugging me to make them snowballs, and that's hella-difficult when the snow's not cooperating.

    Original photo credit
  4. I wish the snow to cancel school on Wednesday, so that there's no preschool. It's my day to volunteer, and ... well, it's not that I don't love the 12 little rugrats and playing rousing sessions of "Dora House and It's Dora's Birthday, and I get to be Swiper, OK?" But I do feel comfortable saying that I love being at home in my pyjamas much, much more.
  5. If the weather too bad for my husband to drive home from work, I wish that his employer puts him and his buddies up in hotel rooms to ride out the storm (and then, uh, return to work later that night for their next shift -- it's not a vacation or anything).
  6. Follow-up wish: I wish we have power if he's in a hotel room, otherwise my Jealousy Meter is going to be OFF THE FREAKING CHARTS.
  7. Related wish: I wish the power stays on here.
  8. Seriously, the power has to stay on! If I'm trapped in this house with a four-year-old and a two-year-old, there had better be sweet, life-affirming power. The Lord said "Let there be Netflix ... and it was Good."
  9. I wish to not eat all of the #StormChips, because my loving husband has set in a hefty supply.
  10. No really, I wish not to eat them all. If I eat all of the #StormChips, there will be a significant increase in #ThunderThighs and #BigBooty.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Kids + weddings

I'm a big fan of weddings, possibly (probably?) because I didn't really have one, myself.

I just wrapped up working on two pieces for wedding-themed issues of six newspapers, where I got to write about two fun topics: adding local flair to a wedding, and whether or not children belong at weddings.

Trevor Allen (easily the most incredible photographer I've seen in action) had a great tip about how to get amazing local shots (at landmarks, beaches, along the coast, etc.) without messing up the timeline of your big day: 

Read the article here!
If you’re worried about squeezing in all of your photos between the ceremony and the reception or you’re dreaming of a Maritime-y shot that involves a few hours of travel time — Allen says many photographers will be happy to take you out a few days after the wedding.  
“It’s actually my favourite shoot to do, because we don’t have to worry about getting grass stains on the dress, or rushing off to the reception — we can just play,” says Allen. “They probably don’t have time to go to Lunenburg for photos on their wedding day, but we can go another day to get some relaxed shots that really incorporate Maritime flair.”
Read the full article on how to add local flair to your wedding.


For my weekly "The Mom Scene" column, I stuck with the issue's theme and wrote about whether or not little children really belong at weddings. I'm firmly in the "Nope," camp, at least when babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are concerned.  

Read the full column here!
Of course, jonesing for my baby only lasted about three minutes into the ceremony, when it became clear that small children and weddings do not mix. I didn’t have to miss the vows because I was pacing the halls with a crying kid, or shush them and worry if I was disturbing the other guests. 
I was even more grateful to be child-free for the evening at the reception, as I watched the couple passing their son back and forth so they could take turns eating. I’m sure my husband and I had bruises on our sides by the end of the night, as we continually nudged each other to say “I am so glad we didn’t bring the baby. Can you imagine if we’d brought the baby?”
Read the full column on whether or not children belong at weddings.


My only hands-on wedding experience was with Best Friend's wedding (the year after ours). I was the Matron of Honour a.k.a. Project Manager of The Big Day a.k.a. That Crazy Girl Chasing Us with Lists and Spreadsheets and Itineraries.

(To those of you who thought I was nuts leading up to her big day -- and, well, certainly ON the big day, as well -- I would like to point out that the entire day went perfectly)

There are probably brides out there who would happily have me as a Matron of Honour so I can keep everybody else in check. Hmmm. Matron for Hire?


Saturday, January 17, 2015

How to paint and distress furniture

Just popping in quickly to share one of my latest projects: painting and distressing a hand-me-down coffee table.

I'd love it if you stopped by "My Handmade Home" to check out the full tutorial ... 

Read the full tutorial!

Friday, January 16, 2015

It's a love story (for kids)

Valentine's Day is pretty special at our house. We don't put a lot of money into it, but it's hard not to get kind of excited about a holiday that's all about LOVE! And LOVING PEOPLE! And, like, yay FAMILY, right? Right?

Valentine's Day has been especially meaningful for the last (*trying hard to do mental math*) ... er ... (*counts on fingers*) ... eight years, because Darling Husband proposed to me on Valentine's Day in 2007

We eat heart-shaped food for one (maybe two) of the meals, because I'm a dork and I love cookie-cutters. 

We decorate -- usually around Feb. 1 -- with a Valentine's Day banner that I made eons ago when I was pregnant with D. Then the night before Valentine's Day, after the kids are asleep, I break out the streamers and balloons so it's extra-festive when they wake up the next day.

Valentine's Day is not a "gift" holiday for us, but last year I kept hearing about parents getting their kids legit PRESENTS for Valentine's Day that I broke down and got them each a few really small things (i.e. candy + one sticker sheet from a secret stash in my closet).

This picture of C makes me laugh -- and I can't believe how much her hair has grown in less than a year!

So when Put Me in the Story approached me about doing another personalized book giveaway, I jumped at the chance.

The kids ADORE the books we reviewed last time (this one + this one), and I actually just read them both to C this morning.

Seriously, how sweet are their books?!

I can't wait until they wake up on Valentine's Day and see their new personalized stories. There are the ones we chose this time around ...

My pick for D (age four)

My pick for C (age two-and-a-half)

Now it's your turn! Enter below to win a personalized Valentine’s Day gift package that will include one personalized book, a puzzle, a placemat, and a stuffed I Love You Bear from Put Me In The Story. 

Winners for two personalized Valentine’s Day gift packages will be announced on January 27. 

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, January 12, 2015

Nooooooo! The era of toddler destruction

We've been battling this for over a year now, but it's showing no signs of slowing down just yet.

It started a year ago, Christmas Eve, when C flipped herself out of her playpen on the night before her 20-month birthday. Items were wrecked, freedom was joyfully seized.

After month upon months of destroying her bedroom, she's now graduated to items outside of her bedroom ... 

Exhibit A (while I was on a night-time conference call, and she was supposed to be sleeping)

Exhibit B (during naptime, I was was working ... and she was supposed to be sleeping)

Exhibit C (right after I had painted her nails nicely, and stupidly stepped into the kitchen to make lunch)

Oh, did I mention this has all taken place within the last WEEK?!

  • Put things up high, you say? She climbs. She uses step-stools. 
  • Put things behind child-locks, you say? She can open them.
  • Put a child-lock on her bedroom door, you say? She can open it.
  • Put a baby-gate across her bedroom door, you say? Ha! Haaaaaaaaa! (Over she goes)
  • WELL, FINE, how about putting her bedroom doorknob on backwards with the lock on the outside?! We did. She figured out that if she shimmies it enough, the door will open with the lock intact.


We've been through this with D, who is now a reasonably (mostly) calm four-year-old. We keep asking ourselves when he finally came out of this Phase of Destruction, and the answer seems to be "three years old."

C turns three at the very end of April, so we've got a few months left of nail polish up to the knuckles, Redken hair wax all over the bedroom carpet, and absolutely none of our possessions being safe.

It's a good thing she's cute.