the anti-princess club

“though she be but little, she is fierce!” – shakespeare, a midsummer night’s dream

kid #2 has a thing for cinderella. the disney one who looks just as hot in a tattered apron as she does in a ball gown. the one with perfect blond hair who strives for nothing more than to wear a pretty dress to a party. the one who seems content to live in an attic bedroom singing to mice and birds.  and what is with “a dream is a wish your heart makes”? i don’t even know what that means.

the closest i ever got to being a princess fanatic as a little girl were the dozens of times i watched ‘beauty and the beast’. i identified with belle the bookworm. i could have cared less whether belle and the beast hooked up. i was just rooting for her to get that library. with the sliding ladder. that i have wanted forever.

as a kid i was painfully shy. shy to the point where i was terrified to pick up the phone. where i could not force myself to ask a stranger a question, let alone make eye contact.

books were my thing. and so was the anti-princess. i was attracted to precocious, free-spirited, mischievous little girls. like madeline.

madeline taunts tigers at the zoo. she performs dangerous feats. she roots for the underdog. she stands up for what’s right. and i’m a little bit obsessed with her. which is why kids #1 and #2 can recite the book from memory. i may have pushed the book on them a tiny bit but they’ll thank me for it later. or at least when they have their own children.

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and then there is pippi longstocking who is quirky, completely unconventional, horribly behaved, and has the strength to throw pirates across the room and take on five bullies at a time. she. is. awesome. and i was desperate to live with her and her monkey, mr.nilsson, at villa villekula. forever. and on the 100th anniversary of astrid lindgren‘s birth, oxford university press put out a commemorative edition illustrated by lauren child. i adore lauren child! more on her later.

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i cannot wait to introduce my kids to this book!

i also stumbled upon this lauren child inspired pippi doll at mmmcrafts. i completely covet this.

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some people, that are not me, are so freakin’ talented. it always blows my mind.

moving along.

so. i became a teenager. and that was terrible. and then i grew up to be a nice, normal person and had kids of my own. in particular i gave birth to this child. kid #2.

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here she is in all her cinderella glory.

and while i couldn’t wait to introduce her to my favourite picture books and characters, we also discovered some seriously awesome ferocious little girls along the way. because if madeline and pippi were to have a tea party, they’d definitely invite olivia and lola.

this is olivia the pig, created by ian falconer, illustrator for the new yorker.

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she is headstrong, non-conformist, and in her newest book, ‘olivia and the fairy princesses’, she considers a career in exposing corporate malfeasance, and dances like martha graham. olivia is like no other.

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as a side note, anyone who knows me knows that i LOVE david sedaris. as in, i want us to be best friends.

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him and ian falconer joined forced for sedaris’ ‘squirrel seeks chipmunk’. another win win!

which brings me back to the world of lauren child and lola sonner. and this is how the story goes.

one day lauren child was riding a train in denmark when she spotted a blonde elfish-looking child chatting and chatting and chatting non-stop to her parents. lauren child found her mesmerizing and decided to base a storybook character around her. and lola and her retro-styled, collaged universe was born.

this is lola.

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and lola and her big brother charlie are somewhat of a double act. just like kid #1 and kid #2. they go together well, like charlie and lola!

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charlie goes to great lengths to teach lola about the world around her in the most imaginative way possible. he is also, for some reason, responsible for convincing lola to eat her dinner as well as getting to bed. charlie is somewhat parentified. i suppose it’s the same thing when i disagree with kid #1 and #2 that it is not in fact “good morning time” and send #1 off to make snacks and put a tv show on for #2 so i can be left in peace.

i’m a good mom. really.

anyway, lola makes my super-awesome-character list because of her cheekiness and her unique world-view and curiosity about the things and people around her. she has a huge imagination, is utterly non self-conscious, and completely knows who she is. also she wears weirdly put-together outfits. like kid #2.

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but recently i have one more little girl to add to the list and her name is lily.

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lately lily is a collaboration between author/illustrator micah player and apparel designer erin nichols. the premise of lily’s story is that she is daughter to a photographer and a writer for the ‘international exposition definitive journal of global curiosity’. lily travels on assignment with them exploring cities and terrains both urban and rural, writing and drawing in her sketchbook about what she’s been up to and what she’s learned from the people and places she’s visited.

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the drawings from lily’s “sketchbook” inspire t-shirt designs each season.

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currently lily is in paris, exploring the arrondissements by metro and visiting the famous sites of the city such as the tuileries on the grounds of the louvre.

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her parisienne explorations culminated in lately lily‘s newest season of apparel for babies and kids.

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in past seasons lily has fished peruvian waters while learning about the area’s people, culture, and history.

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she has also had a stopover in iceland,

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china,

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london,

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and of course, the USA.

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lily encourages girls to explore the world, think for themselves, and be an original.

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she believes that women can do ANYTHING!

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and teaches girls to support each other. lily is the anti-frenemy.

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she was there last year when sarah attar became the first woman in saudi arabia to compete in the olympics.

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and to celebrate the life of astronaut sally ride, the first american woman to be launched into space.

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i encourage you and your daughters (and sons) to pack your very own suitcase, and follow the traveling girl.

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oh, and ps, lily’s now got her very own iPad app available for download on iTunes.

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that’s it for today folks!

happy travels…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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the politics of parenting (with legwarmers!)

kid #1 wanted to play soccer with his friends this season.

kid #1 has not exactly proven himself an athlete. he is best left to video games, lego creations, and sketch books. one day kid #1 will take over the world. just not on the soccer field.

kid #1 is a latecomer to the game. and what i mean by ‘latecomer’ is that he has joined the league at the ripe old age of 7 instead of 4. these missed years are apparently a problem as are team arrangements.

prior to this season, teams were based on which elementary school your kid attended so they could play with their friends. a simple yet solid plan.

but no. this was not good enough. according to some parents this did not lend the teams to fairness. some schools had stronger players than others. fine. good point. so what. the kids were 5 and 6 at this point and i’m pretty sure they had fun.

i think. unless their parents told them how crappy it was not to win at grade 1 soccer.

and some did because this caliber of parent exists. coaches were lobbied to make changes and changes were made. skills were assessed and players were scattered. teams were posted, coaches assigned, an uprising ensued.

emails from angry parents poured in. “my son needs to be on the same team as _______ (insert random dire reason here)”.

the coaches stuck to their guns. after all, they had made these changes to appease parents hadn’t they? or at least to appease the parents that hammered on relentlessly for these particular changes to be made. but the coaches had not taken into consideration that they’d be put under pressure by other parents wanting different things. so they caved. and teams were moved around again. except not without the aggressor of the first group of parents having her hand in it. which resulted in her son being exactly where she wanted him to be. on his own little super team. with players who won’t let him down. so he can be a grade 2 soccer champion.

kid #1 is on team 6. super-kid’s super-mom was consulted to see if she would be okay if super-kid was moved to team 6. just to even things out. super-mom gave a big super no.

wait. what is this consulting business? i’ve paid my soccer fees in full and want my own consultation time. in which case i would say that my kid just wanted to play soccer. and learn some skills and good sportsmanship. and have a good time and go home and move on with his life. because he is 7.

yet i worry that the parents of kid #1′s teammates will resent the fact that a non-seasoned player has infiltrated their team and messed up their chances of winning.

i had hoped this was going to be a fun thing for him. it still better be a fun thing for him because i will be the one standing on the sidelines in the rain watching this all go down.

the moral of this story though is that if you are a bully you can have what you want. which sucks. and is wrong. and is completely the opposite of my belief system or the way i am trying to raise my children.

also, i am particularly sensitive to bullying. i experienced it first hand as a child and it messes you up. bullying tricks you into believing that somehow you deserve to be treated badly because you’re not worth anything. you’re ugly. you’re small. you don’t have a voice. as a 12 year-old my lunches were eaten by someone else, the faces of my barbie dolls were cut off, my hair nearly set on fire. and it stuck with me. for a long long long time.

watch shane koyczan’s TEDtalk. just do it. and encourage others to.

i cannot prevent bullying on the soccer field or the precedence it sets for others. but i will not let it happen on the sidelines.

kid #2 knew a little girl at the field and they are friends. they have spent time playing at each others houses. they have gone on a small family trip together. they are friends. but this friend is also friends with super-mom’s super-daughter. and that day super-daughter decided that kid #2 was not allowed to play with them. they made fun of her. they ran away from her. kid #2 did not understand. why wasn’t her friend being nice to her?

kid #2 is 2 years old. which is why a pack of watermelon gum, her very own pack, was a big deal. so she came and asked for it and said that maybe if she shared they would be her friend. and they took the gum. and they ran away.

i tried to keep it cool but i was fuming. i walked over to “remind” them that it wasn’t okay to be mean. but there was more teasing and intentional meanness.

they are just little kids, i kept telling myself.

one of my favourite literary quotes is from margaret atwood’s ‘cat’s eye’, where she writes “little girls are cute and small only to adults. to one another they are not cute. they are life-sized”. and this is true. and so it was to her.

kid #2 had been having an excellent day. she had attended her very first dance class where she had worn the special blue tutu she had picked for herself. she felt big and happy and proud of herself. i was not going to let super-daughter mess with kid #2′s self esteem. not on my watch.

and then out loud i said i wanted to choke super-daughter.

what kind of crazy person says that about a little girl? so now i am embarrassed about that. mostly just because it makes me come off as an insane person.

moving along. except not really because i was still in a terrible mood after dropping kid #1 off at hip hop later that afternoon. so i went and bought stuff. naturally. this time huggalugs leg warmers for kid #2 and kid #3. and it made me feel much better. because i am shallow. whatever.

for kid #2

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and kid #3

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i had never purchased legwarmers for my kids before. lots of striped and spotted leggings and tights for kid #2 to match with nothing. but no legwarmers. and now i am super sold on them! they’re easy to get on even when kid #3 is rolling away from me, they’re soft, and they look good with anything. even with kid #2′s frilly hello kitty skirt or any of the random non-matching outfit choices she comes up with. wearing huggalugs legwarmers also do not require her to completely strip every time she needs to pee. and they can be worn as armwarmers. super bonus!

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huggalugs are stretchy so they fit kids of all ages and sizes. kid #3′s huggalugs are considered ‘nubies’ because they are made with smaller dimensions in mind. but just as cute. actually more so.

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the huggalugs brand, which originated in australia, makes adorable hats as well, many of which are specifically designed to match certain styles and prints from their legwarmer collection.

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so freakin’ cute. i just want to eat that bunny up.

the styles are numerous and i’ve picked at least a dozen more in their online shop that i’d love to have. for my kids i mean.

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and although i specifically bought them for kid #2 and kid #3 to wear as legwarmers, they’re both super cute and super practical on arms since they’ll make summer tees wearable in colder weather.

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i might even be able to sell kid #1 on these just by showing him this picture.

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because he’s a rock star.

or a soccer player.

and he’s 7.

whatever.

book therapy

friday was a crummy day. completely non-enjoyable. i’m not going to go so far as saying it was a bad day because in comparison to third world issues it was nothing. smooth sailing. but as far as non-significant first world problems are concerned, it was both sucky and inconvenient.

my newish car started buzzing, vibrating, whatever the technical term for ‘my car is acting funny’ is. plus my oil light kept going on. i guess i need more oil, i thought. so i went to the gas station. 

“my car is acting funny and i think my oil needs to be checked” i told a cute teenager.

“ok”, he said. “no problem”

awkward silence.

“so i’m going to need you to pop your hood” he said.

“um”, i replied. “i don’t actually know how to do that”.

“it’s right here”, said my sister who was with me. she neither has a driver’s license or a car.

it turned out that the oil was fine but my car was still acting weird. i called parts and service at the dealership where i had purchased the car and was advised not to drive. a tow truck arrived but i had no way of safely getting to the dealership so i could get a courtesy car since i had kid #2 and #3 with me. this was quite the sucky situation. i asked for the courtesy car to be driven out to me so i could get to the dealership and work out what was going on. after all i was only 20 minutes away.

“no”, i was told. “we’re currently having a sale and are very busy at the moment”. customer service at its best.

luckily my sister was able to get int touch with her boyfriend who piled us all into his van and drove us there.

now for the fun “i can’t believe this actually happened” moment. here i am exiting the van. i’m pushing the stroller with kid #2 on the back. kid #3 has fallen asleep in her car seat so i’m carrying her in it. tucked under my arm is kid #1′s booster seat and my sister is struggling to carry kid #2′s surprisingly large toddler seat.

we must have looked like a disastrous disaster. i can only imagine.

an employee of this particular brand of cars was clearly waiting for me to make my way over to him. i assumed he was the parts and service guy i had been conversing with on the phone.

“are you here to purchase a car” he asked jovially.

i assumed he was joking.

but no. as soon as i said i was not in fact there to buy a car he turned on his heel and walked away. true story.

after signing papers and dealing with the courtesy car situation we were off. but i was in a terribly horrible mood. and we were close to my favourite bookstore. and i decided that i not only needed but actually DESERVED a new book. or four. whatever.

for myself i purchased ‘the rosie project’

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and ‘the elegance of the hedgehog’

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and then also for myself, i mean my kids, i bought oliver jeffers’ newest picture book ‘the huey’s in it wasn’t me’

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as well as his newly illustrated book ‘the day the crayons quit’

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and then i felt much better. just like i knew i would.

and then the car dealership called and asked me to bring the courtesy car back to exchange it for another one because they had decided they wanted to sell the one they had loaned me and could i please do that this afternoon. i said no. because i am not a push over.

“can you bring it in tomorrow morning then? we need it as soon as possible” i was told.

“i have a busy day tomorrow” i told them back. “so i think you’ll probably have to bring the new car to me. but i’ll need you to do this no later than 9am because i have a place to be at”. and that was that.

and then 8:55am came and the phone rang and i didn’t recognize the number. so naturally i asked hubby to answer it for me because i am scared of strangers on the phone. but he had a mouth full of granola so i had to tentatively answer it myself. it was the car guy and he was in my drive way.

damn. i had totally forgotten.

proof that once again i cannot get it together. my uselessness exhausts me.

anyway, kid #2 and i have been reading the oliver jeffers books over and over again. she loves the ridiculousness of the hueys. kid #1 just really likes to give the story angry sound effects. they love the crayon book just as much.

oliver jeffers has been a household name in this family ever since i fell madly in love with ‘how to catch a star’ when kid #1 was a year old. he’s been hooked ever since and he’ll tell anyone who asks that ‘the incredible book eating boy’ will always be his favourite. santa splurged for the pop up edition one time.

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kid #2 thinks ‘stuck’ is the most hilarious thing that’s ever been read to her. every single time. “he’s such a silly guy! he threw a cat up there? hahahah!” every. single. time.

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my husband loves ‘the great paper caper’

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because it’s got a criminal/police edge to it of course.

i will also mention that my husband literally jumped with delight when i showed him the new books. he’s as mad about oliver jeffers as we are.

so as you might imagine i was completely delighted when i saw that oliver jeffers‘ website now had a new component called oliver jeffers’ world.

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in oliver jeffers’ world kids can print pictures, puppets, and puzzles to make which feature favourite characters like the huey’s, the boy, the penguin, the bear, and others. you can also click on characters and take them for bike rides, space hops, and to the south pole.

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it’s a visually stunning website and loads of fun too so get your kids over there.

so, while i was searching out some oliver jeffers related images, i happened to stumble upon one perfect day where a super crafty (ugh!) and eco-friendly mom and her kids have recreated scenes from lost and found with materials they’ve found around their home.

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but for the less crafty (ahem) and more intellectual moms (and dads) out there, he co-created the opening film for TED2013 and has been very involved in the process of this year’s conference which features the theme ‘the wise. the young. the undiscovered’

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isn’t oliver jeffers fabulous?

i may not know how to check the oil in my car, but i sure can pick my storytellers.

 

 

mama, dada, blabla

i am not pleased.

a few weeks ago kid #3 said mama. it wasn’t a sweet little mama sound. it was more like an “i’m upset and possibly dying” sound of pure desperation. i can’t even remember what her problem was which is weird because this kid NEVER cries. this was a total anomaly. hubby wasn’t there when this event occurred so didn’t believe me or kid #1 that we had actually heard her say it. and then she said it again. twice. this was also said in crisis mode. as in, i had stepped out of the room momentarily.

now i have no issue whatsoever with my kids calling me when they need me. this happens constantly anyway.

“mom, i need a snackie”

“mom. i need you to wipe my bum”

“mom, i need you to turn on the tv”

and on. and on. and on.

i would say that kid #3 was just joining the club except this is different. because when dad walks in the room she yells “dada” in a happy “my dad is awesome” way. am i not awesome? am i not the one who grew you into existence, birthed you, stayed up all night with you, and continues to nourish you with my boobs? how about a little appreciation. bitch.

no wait! i did not just call my sweet little baby a bitch. i can’t. it goes against the proverbial mommy code. i’m just bothered that daddy’s the favourite fun parent at the moment, and that i feel taken for granted, and that kid #3 has taken to pinching my boobs. hard.

kid #2 is no better.

being a police officer, hubby works 2 days, 2 nights, and then 4 days off. the nights when daddy has to work he is out of the house by 4pm. which means i drag kids to classes. which means i make dinner. which means i supervise homework, give baths, read books, and do whatever else my children demand of me. which again, is fine. i signed up for this deal and i am happy to do it.

but that kid #2 gets to me. after an evening of working my butt off mommy-wise she has the incredible nerve to say to me in her whiniest of whiny voices “where’s my daddy? when’s my daddy coming home? I want my daddy now. i don’t want to be with mommy. yucky mommy”. this makes me cringe. this makes me want to toss an unopened box of mac and cheese at her and demand she make dinner herself. or find her own pajamas to wear. 

one night a few weeks ago kid #2 refused to go to bed. it was approaching midnight and the “i want my daddy” whiny complaints had been going on for quite some time. “here”, i said. “i’ll call daddy at work for you.” which i did. “i’ll be there in 5 minutes!” he said. the police station is just down the street but the man never comes home unless he needs to grab some food. yet he’d be home in 5 minutes at the demand of his 2 year old?!

it was more like 10 minutes. all 10 minutes of which she was inconsolable. and then daddy returned. and they ran into each others arms and i wanted to gag. i mean really? am i that horrible to hang out with?

it would also appear that daddy is kid #2’s chosen tea party parent.

and kid #3 says “dada” and pinches me.

sigh.

i am going to have my own fancy tea parties. with my own beautiful knit dolls. the two of them might have “dada” but i’ll take the blabla‘s, a line of gorgeous knit dolls, mobiles, clothing, and pillows for kids.

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such as “colette” shown in both 12″ and 18″ sizes. colette is 100% cotton and made in peru. she is still working on her pas de chat and likes old pinks and vanilla tea.

each one of blabla’s dolls have adorable interests. “pierre” for instance likes long walks in the country and distributes letters with old stamps. he loves radish marmalade.

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within blabla’s collection of dolls exist donkeys, frogs, mermaids, queens, butterflies, elephants, bears, dogs, lions, wolves, racoons, and many other creatures. you will also find “otto” and “lola” who are human rockers. as in doll rock stars.

plus, all these guys come in varied sizes. a knit doll for every taste and budget.

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and most of the 18″ dolls are fully dressable.

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because sometimes pierre the rabbit just wants to be a pirate. and mozart the monkey occasionally wants to pretend to save the world.

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or maybe you want to splurge on a blabla “giant” knit doll so you can have cool guests at the awesome tea you’re hosting. by yourself. 

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either way, blabla dolls are beautiful and unique, made from 100% natural materials, and are eco-friendly in every way. WIN WIN WIN!

so now i’m off to convince my girls that i really am a fantastic person. i’ll yank my boobs out and tell them i have candy.

 

100% Cotton, Handmade in Peru.
COLETTE is still working on her pas de chat. She likes old pinks and vanilla tea. – See more at: http://www.blablakids.com/Online-Shopping/knit-dolls#sthash.PYcfn2h6.dpuf

local love

so i tried to be crafty again last night by taking a tote bag making class at spool of thread. i didn’t seriously screw up the finished product of my bag although at one point i accidentally sewed the handle to the middle of the bag when it got caught in the sewing machine. this makes it sound like it was the machine’s fault. which it probably was. except that the instructor reminded me that i was in control of the machine the entire time. as in, i could have taken my foot off the pedal to avoid sewing loser mishaps. sewing loser. that is me. also, what kind of an idiot can’t use straight pins properly? they’re straight. they’re pins. nothing to it. yet surprisingly hard. i pricked myself more times than i care to admit (8) but somehow managed not to leave streaks of blood on the bag. it was a small miracle. i wanted to register for the kitchen apron making class but the instructor was all like “mmm…you should probably practice yourself a bit first”. fine. whatever. i didn’t want to make myself a kitchen apron anyhow.

i actually made the tote bag for my police officer husband. it sounds silly but i wanted him to have something that i had made. he was just super impressed with the pillow covers i made (although i think it was just because i had made something that didn’t instantly fall apart) that i wanted to take it a step further. i figured he could bring his lunch to work in it since currently he is using a gift bag of sorts and i am embarrassed of its ugliness. “it just needs to hold my lunch” he tried to explain to me. but he did like his bag even if it just might secretly have some blood on it. also i picked the most man-ish  fabrics i could find to make it. it’s the ron swanson of tote bags. if that could be a thing. i also forgot to mention that i almost burnt my hand on the iron because it was only the second time i had actually used an iron. the first time was during my first sewing class. the last time i tried to do a crafty project at home i ran the fabric through a hair iron. it sort of worked. whatever.

so anyway, tonight i went out for dinner at a french (obviously) bistro with my mom. it was a seriously welcome reprieve from the chaos at home. i’m mentioning this because the restaurant is on the same little slice of street as spool of thread but i haven’t gotten to actually shop the area because the classes i’ve taken have started after business hours. tonight was the perfect time to do this especially since i had zero children with me, thus no one to ruin my browsing experience.

the highlights were as follows:

collage collage

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if this shop/studio had been around when i was a kid i probably wouldn’t have become such a craft failure. they’re all about teaching kids (and occasionally adults) from as young as two how to do things like sew cute little critters, embroider, and make mixed media projects. when we entered the store there was a school-age class going on where even my mom noticed that the kids were doing better sewing jobs than either of us could currently do. sigh. my kids need this place.

also, the store carries some amazing art and books by vancouver locals. draw me a lion is the brainchild of lisa cinar, picture book enthusiast and designer. she’s currently on the faculty at emily carr university of art and design where she teaches picture book illustrating. dream job.

here’s a sampling of draw me a lion goodness.

art.

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and activities.

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collage collage also carries lisa cinar’s books which i love and have read to my kids countless times.

‘the day it all blew away’

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and ‘paulina p. (for petersen)’

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i also discovered during my hour spent in their carefully curated book section that one of my favourite illustrators EVER, julie morstad is a vancouverite so yay for local!

‘when you were small’ has long been one of my favourite books

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and she’s put out the most adorable board book called ‘swing’ which i went crazy for. which sounds a lot like “mom! mom! oh my god! look at this book! look at the pictures! #2 and #3 NEED to have this!!!” so here it is.

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tonight i looked julie morstad’s website up to check out what other amazing books/art she’s done and realized that she was responsible for the cover art on one of my favourite novels ‘the family fang’. i adore this book. it’s quirky and awesome and super fun to read.

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she also did the cover for this book.

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why was i unaware of this book’s existence? i’m beyond embarrassed for myself. i’m going out to purchase it tomorrow. my life would be better if i owned this.

oh ps, i will be taking kid #2 to the little kids drop in classes at collage collage. apparently yesterday the class focused around the book ‘the dot’ which she loves. she’s going to love the class. win win!

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moving along.

we then went over to precious and few, a cutey little children’s boutique owned by local favourite barefoot contessa.

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they too feature local goodies like fait pour toi. i wanted to take them all home for kids #2 and #3. or for me. does it matter?

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roxypop also makes adorable things. i considered purchasing this garland for kid #2’s room. i didn’t but totally should have.

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also, i could probably make this myself. not sure.

precious and few also carries local redfishkid designs which are pretty spectacular. apparently their line was featured in the movie ‘eat, pray, love’ so they’ve been getting worldwide attention. i will never read that book but that’s a different story for a different day.

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maybe kid #2 can wear one of their dresses the next time she goes to a wedding. not that we’ve been invited to one. today she insisted on wearing hand me down white patent leather party shoes several sizes too big. to the park. no matter. her only concern was that due to their size i might not let her wear that particular pair to a wedding so could i please buy her smaller ones for when she attends one. um…sure? she hasn’t been to any weddings. we don’t currently know anyone getting married. who is this crazy haired wedding-attending child?

whatever. anyway, before our super yummy dinner at les faux bourgeois we stopped in at spool of thread since my mom hadn’t been there. this is it by the way.

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“the place that started it all” she called it. as in, i once went into the store and decided it was time to uncork my inner seamstress. i was still feeling like a sewing loser but after getting super excited about the beautiful fabrics herself, my mom decided that it would be “easy” for me to make things. oh mom. as if.

 

badly behaved children

yesterday my husband purchased me an iPhone so that i could join the rest of the free world and i was very very excited about this. mostly because although i’ve been wanting one for awhile i’ve been either too busy or apathetic to actually go and get one. also i do not like the kind of stores you have to go to to purchase phones because you need to talk to sales people about different phones and plans and pricing and such and i am not good at this. it’s boring. it’s confusing. doing this sort of thing leaves me headache-y and choice fatigued. so i was super duper grateful when he went out and got me one. and also brought me back a quad americano. a total two-for morning.

there are other things i don’t like to do besides buying electronics and generally it involves things in which you have to sign your name on a lot of lines. shopping for a new car. applying for a loan. yuck yuck yuck. so i take him with me and occasionally hum to myself as he gets things done on OUR behalf. lucky me. also i don’t like opening the mail or checking our bank accounts so i encourage him to do this as much as possible. 

it’s a really good thing that i don’t live alone. if i did and my fridge stopped working i would probably throw it out and buy a new one. instead i have my husband to deal with this sort of aggravation. and on standby i have my dad to call a professional to deal with this sort of aggravation. my family totally rocks.

but not yesterday. yesterday was a badly behaved children day and it all started with the iPhone which i was actually very psyched to show to kid #1. this is because i was the ONLY person he knew who did not own any sort of ‘i’ device and i knew he’d be excited for me.

wait no. i have an iPod from 2006.

anyway, when he got out of school i was all like “yay! look what i got, kid #1” and he was all like “i need to download shooting games for myself” and i was all like “no” and then he grabbed the phone out of my hand. and accidentally dropped in on the concrete. and it had no case because i had not yet taken the initiative that day to go get one.

i was mad. i was mad mad mad mad mad. harsh consequences were given. he was not even allowed to look at me during the 10 minute walk home.

the phone is not broken or badly scratched but that’s not the point. what’s up with this not listening business? there is nothing that makes me more upset than when my children don’t listen. and who should happen to NOT LISTEN on the walk home but kid #2.

our stroller has a board on the back for little kids to ride on and for some reason kid #2 thought she’d drag her foot behind her as i pushed. this bothered me for two reasons. first off it made the stroller tip backwards which was ridiculously dangerous for kid #3, and less importantly i was concerned that she was going to ruin her new hunter boots by dragging them on the road. i asked her several times. and then the stroller tipped over and i simultaneously had to push her out of the way while struggling to catch the stroller from falling over. as a final “screw you”, kid #1’s backpack, which he was too lazy to carry himself, fell off the stroller and on top of me. damn you bottle of water i packed this morning!

by the time we got home i wanted NOTHING to do with kids #1 and #2. also i shopped for this which i clearly needed

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yep, that’s right. it’s an iPhone case. for MY phone.

kid #1 may have dropped the phone but kid #2 is super bad. 

let’s say for instance that i need to make a phone call that lasts more than 20 seconds. this happens. now let’s say that kid #2 has a thing for her mother’s red lipstick and knows she’s not allowed to play with it. what better way to be bad than to use the ENTIRE tube of mom’s new red lipstick to colour her bedroom walls, beautiful wooden kitchen, specially ordered princess bed, and everything else she can destroy before the tube runs out. this was not a good day and all jelly beans were lost.

huh?

yes jelly beans. just another reason why my kids are idiots. they each start the day with 10 theoretical jelly beans which are lost over acts of bad-ness and earned for displaying acts of kindness, helpfulness, empathy, etc. and it works. and i don’t know why. kid #2 likes to start the day by cashing in the ones she’s earned the day previously. kid #1 hoards them until he’s reached the magical number 60 and then hides out in his room and gorges himself. each to their own.

oh, and i think i will be purchasing this because my makeup and the usage of it and desire for it by kid #2 has become a huge thing.

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it’s totally fake but she’ll love it and hopefully stop badgering me for “dots” of blush or eyeshadow.

i’m going to stop right here and give myself some props for being an awesome mom. everyone just take a moment of silence to acknowledge what a great job i do. 3, 2, 1…

i just want to say that i never envisioned myself as a soccer mom. too pedestrian. but if my kid wants to play then i’m there dragging #2 and #3 with me. and soon vancouver fall weather will begin and it will cease to stop raining until may. but i will be standing out there in the mud and cold cheering that kid on. because as we all know, i am an awesome mom.

now i will take the time to mention that after soccer we race home long enough for me to stuff food into them, clean #3 from head to toe, redress #2 because she’s decided to take all of her clothes off again (nakedness was also a problem on the soccer field today), before we head off to kid #1’s hip-hop class. my husband calls it the glee factor. all the cool boys are doing it.

swimming lessons start this week as do kid #2’s dance class. sigh.

but do you know who i really really like? as in, she’s my current favourite? this little person. kid #3. violet.

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isn’t she lovely?

i spend most of my time writing about kids #1 and #2 because they do a bunch of stuff that i can write about. beautiful #3 just smiles her big smile at me and laughs a cute little laugh and looks at me with her big blue eyes. aw…i love kid #3.

also she looks really stellar in head wear. she will be receiving one or more of these for christmas. if the elves have time after dealing with kid #1’s minecraft craziness.

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i might even get the elves to hook one up for kid #2.

i have now been an awesomely awesome mother for seven and a half years. in that time period we have managed to collect all sorts of boy, girl, and gender-neutral toys, including baby stuff. i have no need to purchase #3 any toys whatsoever but since it’s me i still like buying stuff for her. and i want this rainbow fairy mobile to hang over her crib for all the times when my attention is being eaten up by kid #1’s incessant talking, and kid #2’s constant naughtiness and she’s stuck in the crib entertaining herself. which she always does. and then beams at me when i come get her. aw. and i think she even said ‘mama’ tonight. or maybe she didn’t. whatever. we all win.

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look closer for extra wow-ness

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moving along.

so browsing around for unique kid products tonight while feeling annoyed with kids #1 and #2 and all lovey-dovey about kid #3, i coincidentally stumbled upon studio violet whose book ‘mr.mustache’ WILL be on my shelf.

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the inside pages are INCREDIBLE. have a look.

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studio violet is also previously responsible for creating these spoon people. sadly, they are sold out and no longer in existence. sniff.

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hey! i could totally make this. right? because i’m crafty!

as a side note, i added several handmaid and crafty-like magazines to my ‘newstand’ on my iPhone.

just because i could.

DIY for competent adults

there are things i can do and things i cannot.

in the interest of personal self-esteem, i will start by listing a few of the things i can actually do.

i can make babies. i can bake a pie like no one else. i can host a fabulous dinner party. i can write a research paper. also i am flexible. as in my body, not my attitude.

growing up i never learned how to make things or fix things or do stuff by myself. blaming is cliche but if i had to point fingers it would be at my mother. my mother is great. the greatest. but the woman does not know how to sew a button and neither do i.

in grade school i was a brownie and worked diligently to earn badges in all sorts of useless manner. braiding, making friendship bracelets, being nice. that sort of thing. my sash was covered with them. but while the other girls’ mothers sewed their daughter’s badges on, mine just super-glued them. 

one time my parents decided to paint their house blue. my entire “i did it myself” memory as a child was painting the front door. a few months ago i drove the kids past the house where i grew up and made them look at it. true story.

but that’s the only thing i ever remember them doing and writing this i’m wondering if they were responsible for painting the ENTIRE house or if they ended up hiring someone to finish up. if it wasn’t so late i would call and ask. the thing is that i remember various rooms in our house being painted different colours over the decade we lived there and i ALWAYS remember it being done by a professional.

need a new deck? hire a professional. decide to remodel the kitchen? hire a professional. need your pants hemmed? take it to a professional. or at least someone who actually knows how to use a needle and thread.

to my dad’s credit he once built my sister and i a playhouse in our backyard. it took him forever to make and was totally crooked but we loved it anyway. i also think he knew the basics of using a needle and thread. as in, if a button fell off his shirt he could probably fix it.

when i was in my first couple of years of university i remember this huge atkins diet craze happening where i felt guilty for even looking at a bagel. now i feel the same way about craftiness in general. etsy is a thing. pinterest is a super thing. knitting. canning. quilting. sewing. these have all become hipster things to do. akin to wearing glasses, skinny jeans, and being totally ironic.

suddenly i do not fit in.

also, i am obsessed with etsy. i used to like browsing the site but during my recent bout of insomnia my browsing became super intensive. i made categories of things to gift people. do i know you? then you probably have potential gifts assigned to you.

pinterest is one of those things that i could get lost in if i wasn’t careful. actually if i spent anytime at all on pinterest i would probably take to crying myself to sleep. “why are these people so talented and ingenious?” i would sob. “and how do they manage to glue things without sticking their fingers together?”

my mom likes pinterest. the site has given her such clever ideas as putting my kids in the bath with glow sticks and the lights turned off. actually they loved that. but then last christmas she insisted on attempting to make snowman marshmallows that theoretically should have looked something like this.

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except that we actually made this.

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well done us.

one of my favourite sites EVER is craftfail because it makes me feel normal for not being super ridiculously talented and creative. but also it makes me feel apathetic because i am dis-interested in attempting most crafts because i expect imminent failure. thus i do nothing. until i have a big idea to actually do something.

so during my sleepless summer nights of etsy-ing, i came across many shops selling gorgeous skirts and dresses for little girls.

such as corinne citrolo‘s,

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lakenandlila’s

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marvieshop

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and cre8tive.

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i could totally totally do that, i thought. how hard could it possibly be?

this all happened around the same time i turned 30. no matter the dress clothes, the mortgage, the three kids, i never felt like a real adult. i felt like i was tricking people somehow. but then i reminded myself (again) that 30 was actually a real adult number and decided that yes, i would in fact make clothes for my girls.

being all initiative-y and stuff, i signed up for a beginner’s sewing class at spool of thread in vancouver. i was super super psyched. “look at me”, i thought. “i am going to make stuff!!!” i excitedly perused around the store believing that i was soon going to be able to make all number of kids clothing goodness. i then stumbled upon oliver + s patterns.

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i looked through the stack of them as if i was some kind of a sewing master. “hmmm” i thought, “would this particular item that i am going to make look better on kid #2 or kid #3?” i asked myself. i was completely tempted to purchase one for the day (next week?) when i would be a skillful sewer.

but then i strode up to the counter to pay for my class and saw a basket with these cute little DIY felt hoop embroidery kits by heidi boyd and became so excited that i decided to purchase the fox kit immediately.

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“is this hard to do?”, i said to the girl behind the counter. “can you sew a button?” she asked. “ummmm. yes. definitely yes.” i lied. “then it should be no problem for you” she said. so i purchased it even though i had not sewn a button to date. oh, but i’m 30, i reminded myself. i am an adult and i can do things with buttons and sewing needles and such.

i went home and decided to begin my craft that night. except that i was so excited about the project i was soon to complete that i poured myself a large glass of wine and decided to do some etsy browsing instead. after all, having not even opened my kit, i decided that i should look at other felt embroidery to inspire myself. i was particularly taken with catshy crafts and decided that after my current project (that i was still to open) i would take on some of these designs. i was inspired with this grouping and had even decided which wall in my house would best suit all of my future handiwork.

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so pretty, i thought. and then i opened up my kit and cut out some felt fox pieces. and then i tried to pin them to the hoop except i realized that i hadn’t thought to buy straight pins so wrestled with some safety pins instead until they sort of resembled haphazard straight pin with weird curls on the end. then i got tired or bored or both and went off to watch tv instead. my craft was meant to be finished the next day. or the next. or even the week after. then it sat on the kitchen table unfinished for awhile so i would be forced to look at it. and now it has been moved into a cupboard where it lives to this day. really i should have just purchased a ready made (or two) from catshy craft. like this one

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or this one

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sigh.

but nevermind. i was going to be a sewer, not a stitcher.

i did complete my beginner sewing class where i made two very cute throw pillow cases. and while i was high as a kite afterwards, i look back and remember that i was hand-held the entire class. i didn’t really know what i was doing. i just listened and did what i was told and hoped for the best. of course i’m saying this in hindsight because at the end of the class when i realized that i had actually produced something nice, i felt like a total rock star and instantly signed up for a tote-making class. if i was to go back today and attempt (even with a pattern) to re-create what i had made i feel like the results would be iffy. or i wouldn’t be able to properly read the pattern. or that i would somehow set the sewing machine on fire. it happens.

i feel especially useless though when i take into consideration that one of my best friends is the co-creator of tin can knits. not only does this woman knit like nobody’s business, she designs patterns, teaches, publishes books, and made several dozen 1-cup mason jar servings of various flavours of homemade ice cream for her son’s first birthday. i chose roasted cherry goat cheese ice cream and it was close to the best thing i have ever eaten. this friend is also trying to entice me into learning to quilt. right. because i’d be stellar awesome at that.

oh wait, did i mention that i occasionally model for tin can knits

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hello me in lovely sweater and kerchief from ‘pacific knits’

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anyhow, long before tin can knits was a thing, this friend of mine gifted me a private knitting lesson at urban yarns. it was good and i learned a lot and being me i spent an exorbitant amount of money on a DIY scarf set. and then i got bored. and then one day my husband picked it up and finished it like it was no biggie. he’s crafty like that.

we have this sad but true saying in our household that everything i can do he can do better. even if i’ve originally taught the thing to him. he just has to one up me. saying this makes me sound self-deprecating and compliment-seeking but it’s the truth. every project the guy does turns to gold. he is currently wondering if i would like him to finish my felt embroidery craft. the answer is probably.

it is a given on etsy that people make amazing things. but also they design amazing things that they want you to make for yourself.  like fairyfox. apparently she believes that me or someone else can make an entire dollhouse and furniture out of felt.

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and the fact that she has managed to come up with all of this literally blows my mind. i am incredulous.

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a roasted felt chicken and smiley popsicles? not in my wildest dreams would i be able to come up with that.

also i love felted dolls and (hold the laughter) i have seriously considered purchasing one of these softie PDF’s and asking my husband to make one. or my son. whichever. just not me.

dolls and daydreams is amazing for softies. that’s apparently the hipster way of referring to stuffies. besides the fact that i hate stuffies and am always trying to rid our house of them. but those little buggers keep breeding some how and i can never get rid of them. but softies? i’m okay with softies.

in my “i actually have the patience to learn to make these” dream, i would acquire all of dolls and daydreams’ patterns. like for these gorgeous little girls

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or this knightImage

or the 3 pigs and big bad wolf because sometimes you just want to be able to tell that story and have the appropriate softies on hand to do so.

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pipe dreams. so good.

one day i will decide to accept the fact that my talents do not lie within the sphere of craftiness. other people can make their awesome things and i have a credit card to pay for it. but one day…

 

 

 

the geekiest kid on the block

jaden (kid #1) says “welcome back to school!” or i said it. whatever.

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so this morning kid #1 headed off to his first day of grade 2 with his new lego bag. although school was only on until noon, he insisted on bringing a few essential items with him. these included a pair of scissors, 4 non-sharpened pencils, and an archie comic. just in case. i no longer fight the urge to convince him otherwise. if he wants to be weird he can totally do that. his weirdness is just a thing now.

and so is lego. this house is inundated with lego. we are a smaller version of legoland. recently i gathered up random pieces of lego in a big garbage bag. this amounted to 25lbs worth. i know because i weighed it. he didn’t even notice. this is how dire the situation has become. this is also what happens when you are the first grandchild.

the other night we went to the movies and saw the trailer for the lego movie. he was jumping up and down in his seat and begging me to take him. which of course i will because lego minifigures and stop-motion animation are awesome things and put together they are awesome awesomeness. also the slightly daft main character emmett is played by chris pratt, or the also slightly daft andy on parks and recreation. i love that show! i have just finished watching the fourth season and miss my friends leslie and crew so very much. i think about them a lot. i really do miss them. 

ok, so the other day i stumbled upon citizenbrick where i assume that the geekiest of geeky geeks love to shop for one of a kind lego. this is the real deal. forget the usual batman and star wars sets, how about a breaking bad lab set?

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oh wait. nope. can’t purchase that one. a crystal meth making lego lab does not fall into the appropriate toys for kids category. maybe on my desk at work? probably not that either. but isn’t it amazing?!

how about zombies for kids? i think that’s okay. even two year-old kid #2 stumbles around with her arms out and head cocked mumbling that she wants to eat our brains. yup. zombies are terrific! for everyone. and through citizenbrick you can custom order yours. an adorable zombie baby is also available for purchase. that’s right. i said it’s adorable. and it totally is.

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cute right? moving along…

i get lego. i am just as good at putting lego sets together as i am at jumping hurdles but i understand the allure. what i don’t understand fully is minecraft which has taken over kid #1’s life and my computer. the entire aim of the game is to make block structures as shelters to protect yourself from monsters or to create imaginary worlds for yourself. i would say it was the video game equivalent of lego but kid #1 says i don’t understand the complexity since i’m not a gamer. because he is. apparently. the concept seems pretty cool to me in theory, but the game itself makes me dizzy. also i don’t understand the technical bits or how many of one item i need to purchase another and why the minecraft guy steve rides a pig. anyway, this thing is HUGE. as in, every kid i come in contact with is obsessed with this game. they talk about creepers and iron ores and diamond pickaxes and i sit there remembering that the last video game i played was donkey kong 2.

anyway, i am always on the look-out for gifts for kid #1 that will impress him. not in the “wow, mom just got me a million dollar piece of lego” way, but in the “my mom finds the best stuff for me” bragging to his friends type of way. so when i found minecraft gear on thinkgeek i was super proud of myself.

diamond sword and pickaxe anyone?

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what about steve and creeper masks? (these ones totally weird me out and i worry about them being able to get through the front door)

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i haven’t seen these items in stores which makes me believe that i could totally get away with having them gifted by santa. who else but the elves would be able to mind-numbingly and ocd-inducingly paint such perfect pixels?

7 year-old kid #1 believes in santa you ask increduously? you bet. he’s the smartest dumbest kid around. geeks are weird like that right? say it’s so.

but this kid takes it a step further in the gullible category. i used to have this thing when kid #1 was two where i would say that if kids stayed up past midnight they would turn into a pumpkin. as in the vegetable. because i am a fun person, and also a mean one, i kept an orange marker hidden in the bathroom. at my convenience i would secretly colour a part of my face to freak him out into going to bed. and it worked. every single time. and now he is 7. and it still works.

a couple of weeks ago he told me that he had googled whether kids really do turn into pumpkins at midnight and found no evidence. oh, but i am a crafty mother. i simply told him that google would never allow pictures of kids as pumpkins or information about it on the internet because it would scare little kids. he was all like “yeah, that’s fair”. and that was the end of it. also he is convinced that if you accidentally do turn into a pumpkin because your mother has forgotten to put you to bed in time (it is always MY fault), then you can be rolled to the emergency room where a doctor will provide you with an orange onion pill to restore you to your human self. i am embarrassed on his behalf.

but geeks will rule the world right? there’s hope out there yet?

i suppose kid #1 is just different. like ash fox.

this is ash and he’s different.

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he wears a tube sock as a bandit hat. he considers himself an athlete as does kid #1 (more on that in a bit). and he is jason schwartzman’s character in wes anderson‘s stop-motion animation movie adaptation of roald dahl‘s fantastic mr.fox. (that sentence is ridiculously full of awesome links so check them out)

as meryl streep’s mrs.fox proclaims, “we’re different. him especially”. meaning ash. and kid #1.

kid #1 is about as obsessed with this movie as i am. i suppose when you recognize yourself in someone you just go with it. he longs for his name to be ash. and for a bandit hat. and this, which the elves may or not make for him.

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it’s a pin. for his athletic wear. and by ‘athletic’ he means he can ride a bike (“look mom! i’m coasting because i’m an athlete”) and swim without drowning. plus he’s in martial arts classes but that doesn’t necessarily reflect ability.

kid #1 rolls his own way but this fall he decided he wanted to play soccer. “soccer’s a team sport” he was reminded the other day. “i kind of just want to wear the uniform” he responded.

either way, fantastic mr.fox is my movie recommendation for kids who will probably not grow up to have desk jobs. they’ll be job pioneers. they’ll rule the world. they might even be spies.

but before moving on, isn’t this wes anderson ‘the life acquatic of steve zissou’ inspired mobile amazing?

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i thought so.

but on jobs, kid #1 plans on being a spy. and on making fancy cakes on the weekend for a hobby (he’s a weekday spy apparently). currently he is super secretly immersed in this book

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he loves it. i think. because i am not supposed to know when or where he is reading it. also, i bought the book for him.

if anything, the book is teaching kid #1 to be an even bigger geek. he now carries a little notebook with him at the park and sneaks around corners in the most obvious ways. he has also requested a small mirror but i am not to know why.

and so it is.

when you have a kid you get what you get. and i got the geekiest kid on the block.

actually, i got the coolest kid on the block. and i’m pretty happy about it.

on paris

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this is andoni. and although andoni is made by fournier in bolivia, he is desperate to go to paris. poor poor andoni.Image

but it happens that i know someone else who longs to go to paris, and that is my mother.

what can i say about that woman who gave birth to me? if it were possible to hang a banner across the eiffel tower that read YOU ARE AWESOME! i would. except that she wouldn’t see it because she is not in paris. but she should be. i could list the reasons for her known attraction to the city (glamour, cuisine, culture, architecture) but that’s not what this post is about.

my last post was about walking to starbucks with my children and telling stories. it was just a glimpse of what life with kids #1, 2, and 3 is like. when i re-read it the next day i realized that while what i had written was both funny and utterly true (and featured a great product) it was also a little love letter to my children. in its true form it read “you are ridiculous and you annoy me but i will always put your priorities ahead of my mine because i love you so”.

so this paris themed post will be a little love letter to my mom who always put me first even when i didn’t realize or appreciate it at the time. and i have more than a sneaking suspicion that she hasn’t yet gotten to paris because she’s been too occupied with being there for everyone else. but we dream of paris for her and one day we will take her there. but until then, let’s play pretend!

as an adult it is not fun to pretend things. it is not fun to pretend you’ve just won the lottery when there is a stack of bills on the counter. it is not fun to pretend that your dishwasher is going to fix itself when clearly it’s not. it is not fun to pretend that you might actually get to sleep in. being an adult is not awesome sometimes. 

but when you’re a kid the whole world could be right here if you want it to be. whenever you want it to be. for instance, kid #1 spends his time creating new series for lego. also he lives in a video game and is a super qualified sniper. kid #2 lives for birthday parties. for her last birthday we got her melissa & doug‘s birthday party cake set. and now it is always my birthday. or her birthday. or her brother’s birthday. whatever. the point is that if by the end of the day my kids can say they’ve killed enemies while being employed by lego and attended numerous birthday parties then why can’t they have traveled to paris?

actually in their favor they do know quite a lot about the city of lights. they’ve grown up on madeline, and kid #1 can school anyone about paris’ most notable artists. but what’s absolutely needed is a copy of miroslav sasek‘s ‘this is paris’.

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this incredibly beautiful book is a kid-friendly introduction to the travel guide and features watercolour paintings of beloved parisian landscapes. there’s the notre dame, pont de neuf, the louvre, and of course the eiffel tower. the book also teaches kids some basic historical facts about the city as well as displays what everyday life might look like there.  and what would a book on paris for kids be without people walking with baguettes and french poodles?

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the ‘this is’ series is available featuring many other cities and countries as well as the moon! i want them all.

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so now we’ve got our guide book. but what else…?

in this house we are well prepared for many pretend culinary delights. we have sets of cookies, all manner of slice-able fruits and vegetables, and wooden representations of just about any basic grocery item anywhere. a pretend bottle of olive oil? done. cheese crackers? try me.  ice cubes? right again. we even have a small grocery cart. but what we don’t have is a grocery cart full of french fare.

aha! but with the purchase of moulin roty‘s beautifully designed french groceries, we have all we need!

here’s monday’s version,

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i don’t actually understand the english tea but we’ll just set that one aside and use it on the day we decide we take a pretend jaunt to london to visit prince george.

and this is friday’s version

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#2 will want to dress up for the affair because everything in #2’s life is a dress-up event. even when we bake she must wear her ‘cooking hat’. wings to the beach. a butterfly costume to watch tv. her cinderella dress everywhere. she considers herself extremely fancy. obviously, her paris trip will involve this outfit

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my day in paris has seriously exhausted me. how about a non-pretend glass of wine?

and one day we’ll take you there mom. i promise.