Friday, 3 April 2015

Year Thirty-Three

I'm officially thirty-three (with eleven days' experience), and I'll be honest:  it doesn't feel any different than thirty-two.  I don't feel like I'm in my thirties, guys, I really don't.  I feel like I'm... I dunno... twenty-seven.  Tops.  But there was cake and presents and even a surprise dinner, so obviously it's true.


I used to be birthday-crazy.


I looooved my birthday.  Every year, I referred to it as "Amandapalooza", and I'd have the party all planned out by mid-January.  One year, it was an 80s theme party, complete with crimped hair and black lace gloves.  Another year, it was glow-in-the-dark bowling with alcoholic slushies.  Once, there was a trip to Niagara Falls, and there was more than one party involving karaoke.  Oh, and twice, I went out dancing.

This year, though, I planned nothing.  Baby Turtle is only 6 months old and I had zero intentions of leaving him with a sitter, so I just figured I'd head over to my folks' place and have some cake.  (Because I don't care how old I get or how distracted I am, my birthday had better involve birthday cake.)  

It turns out that my parents had a surprise in store.


Not only was there birthday cake, made from scratch by my grandmother, but there was a fabulous birthday gift waiting for me... a DSLR.  I might have been in shock.  I've wanted a DSLR for about a zillion years.  You know how my old posts all disappeared into the internet abyss and took all my photos with them?  Well, now I can take new photos.  New and improved.  See ya, shitty cell-phone-camera pictures (sorry, mom).  

Check out the difference.

Here is a picture of my dog, taken with my cell phone:

And here is a picture of my dog, taken with my fancy-pants new camera:

Awesome, right??  I'm so excited about it...  expect to be flooded with pictures.  (Not always of my dog.)  

(OK, maybe pretty frequently of my dog.)

As if that wasn't amazing enough, George also had a surprise up his sleeve.


Apparently, someone had made arrangements to take me out for dinner, and he'd invited my friends to surprise me.  I almost didn't make it to my own birthday dinner, because shortly after we left the house, I felt like I was fighting a panic attack and asked George to turn the car around.  (I used to have a whole post about my anxiety disorder, but - you guessed it - lost to the internet abyss.)  But once I was with my girls, all of that stupid anxiety just melted away.  If only I had known they would be there... I would have brought my fancy new camera!

This will have to do until the next time I see them.

So, here's to Year Thirty-Three, and being surrounded by such fantastic friends and family!  I'm off to take more pictures...

...


...


...


You're still here?


OK, fine... here are some pictures from the old Amandapaloozas that I mentioned earlier:


But now that's really the end.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

I'm Back, Baby.

After four months of radio silence, Oh Hey It's AJ is back, and perhaps you've noticed things are a little different around here...  Let me explain.


The short version is that I lost everything.


The slightly longer version is that things all went wonky.  My MacBook died in November and the repair fee was insane, so I opted not to fix it.  My Internet BFF was going to send me her old laptop but then I discovered that my Mac issue was a known issue that others had petitioned about and that Apple had decided to extend the warranty on that particular hardware problem, so poof!  MacBook all fixed up. 

While I was offline, the hosting on my blog expired and I lost all my old posts and every picture that I had posted, because I am the worst and I didn't do backups.  This is especially embarrassing when you take into consideration that I have been working in web for over a decade and if anyone knows better, it's me.  


Sooooo... Blogger.  I don't have the patience to set up a whole new self-hosted Wordpress blog for myself right now.  Maybe we'll revisit this later, but I just wanted to get OHIA back online, and this was the quickest route.  I found a few old posts floating around in the Wordpress app on my phone, copied them over (no pictures, though... *whomp whomp*), and here we are.  

Time to rebuild.


So, for now I just wanted to pop in and say "hey, I'm back, wheeee!" and get everything all up-to-date around here.  Thanks for bearing with me!


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Apparently it's November Now.

Note:  This post was originally published on November 4, 2014.  All posts prior to this date - along with images from April 2014 to March 2015 - have been lost forever to the Internet black hole.  

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Soooo... it looks like I blog once a month these days.  I'm going to make a serious effort to change that.  Are any of you guys even reading this anymore?

Oh, and before I get distracted and forget, I have to tell you guys about some new stuff in my art shop.  (Shameless self-promotion time!)  I'm offering cartoon-style watercolour pet portraits - at a wicked "introductory special" discount, btw - and also custom pet sculptures.  Christmas is less than 8 weeks away, just sayin'.

Halloween has come and gone, and for the first year in a long time, I didn't get dressed up.  I just didn't have the time to plan out a costume for myself, y'know?  I made costumes for both J-Bird and Baby Turtle, and it's really hard to find time for costume-making projects with a newborn.  I mean, I was still working on J-Bird's costume the night before Halloween... although, if I'm completely honest, that could have had something to do with how long I procrastinated starting on it.  See, J-Bird wanted to be Naruto this year and I could not find a kids' Naruto costume anywhere, which meant I had to make it.  "No biggie," I thought, "I'll just grab an orange track suit and make the adjustments."

WRONG.

It it impossible to find orange track pants.  We managed to locate an orange sweatshirt at a thrift store, but the pants were not happening.  So George and I loaded the boys into the car, made a trip to the fabric store, and picked up a couple yards of orange micro-fleece.  I was going to sew the pants.

Here's why that was terrifying.


I have never turned my sewing machine on.  About ten years ago, I had a machine that used to belong to my great grandmother, and I sewed a few squares together before loaning it to a friend of mine.  While she had it, it broke down (probably because it was a jillion years old already), so she brought it back and I stuck it out in the garage.  Two years ago, I mentioned to my mom that I wanted to make some curtains but my sewing machine was broken, so she decided to give me hers - apparently, she's not much of a seamstress, either, and wasn't using it.  She brought it over and it sat in my bedroom closet until a week before Halloween this year, when I dragged it out and brought it down to the dining room table to make J-Bird's costume.

And then I promptly chickened out, returned it to its case, stuck it on the dining room floor, and started working on Baby Turtle's costume instead (which, obviously, was a baby turtle costume.)

Once Baby Turtle's baby turtle costume was all finished, and I could procrastinate no longer, I pulled the sewing machine back out of the case and got to work.  And I was so stressed about it.  I kept picturing J-Bird wearing his costume to school only to have my shoddy craftsmanship come apart at the seams and leave him standing in his underwear in front of the whole school, so even though - spoiler alert! - the costume totally ended up working out, and even though I tested the seams over and over again), I made J-Bird wear shorts under his costume.  Y'know... just in case.

{pictures of the boys in their handmade costumes were here}

So there you have it - Halloween costume success!  Now... what percentage of J-Bird's candy do you think I can claim in the name of "costume-making payment"...?

Dear Sleep, I Miss You

Note:  This post was originally published on October 9, 2014.  All posts prior to this date - along with images from April 2014 to March 2015 - have been lost forever to the Internet black hole.  

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I don't remember being this tired when J-Bird was a newborn, and J-Bird had colic - which means I slept even less than I'm sleeping now.  Apparently it's a lot easier to handle newborn-related-sleep-deprivation when you're 22.  (I think I just heard all of you collectively shout "DUH" at me.)

{some sort of image was here}

I have no idea where the days are going, though.  Seriously.  I'm exhausted and the house is a mess... And I'm totally behind on replying to emails/Facebook messages... And there are 74 unread posts in my blog reader.  I don't know how "mommy bloggers" do it.  I cannot even imagine trying to fit daily blog posts in right now.  It took me three days just to find the time (and energy!) to shampoo my hair.

I'm also still a hungry, hungry hippo - Baby H (aka "Baby Turtle") eats all the time, and apparently his constant feedings meant that I need to re-fuel frequently, too.  There aren't even words to describe how excited I am about Thanksgiving dinner this weekend, you guys.  (Yes, Canadian Thanksgiving is way earlier than American Thanksgiving.)  I can't stop thinking about all the turkey and pumpkin pie I'm going to stuff into my face when we go to my folks' house for dinner on Sunday.

{i had an image here titled 'eat all the things'.  i'm sure you can picture it.}

There's only a few weeks to go until Halloween.  I'm making a turtle costume for Baby Turtle (obviously) and it is going to be adorable.  For J-Bird's first ever Halloween, I made a lamb costume using a onesie, some hot glue guns, and like 200 cotton balls, so I figured I have to make Turtle's first costume, too.  J-Bird wants to go as Naruto this year, and as far as I can tell, Naruto costumes for kids are not a thing that exists... so it looks like I'll be making his costume, too.  Uh, I guess I should probably get started on that, huh?  I think I'll skip the whole dressing-up thing this year since I've already got two costumes to worry about making in the next 21 days.  Plus I probably won't be going out this year - it's too soon for Baby H to be out in the cold!  George and J-Bird can do the trick-or-treating this time around.

Are you dressing up in costumes?  What are you all planning to be for Halloween this year?

And Baby Makes 4... (Unless You Count the Dog)

Note:  This post was originally published on September 17, 2014.  All posts prior to this date - along with images from April 2014 to March 2015 - have been lost forever to the Internet black hole.  

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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, feeling him, we 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.

{this used to be a picture of Baby H's hand wrapped tightly around my index finger}

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

And I am complete, totally, head over heels in love.

{and this held a picture of Baby Turtle and I once}

How the "Magic" Happens

Note:  This post was originally published on August 11, 2014.  All posts prior to this date - along with images from April 2014 to March 2015 - have been lost forever to the Internet black hole.  

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I have this Internet BFF named Jodi, and Jodi has her very own dog blog (along with other internet-y 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 me?

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.)

{this was a picture of a big 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.

{there was an image here once, but truthfully, I don't even remember what it was}

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 a 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 is 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!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

What Happened To July??

Note:  This post was originally published on July 31, 2014.  All posts prior to this date - along with images from April 2014 to March 2015 - have been lost forever to the Internet black hole.  

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Soooo, 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 appointment 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 see the first movie probably close to 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.

{photo of the 10-year-old J-Bird was here}


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 the by time the round ended, he'd fallen to fifth.  Still pretty awesome for a newbie, right?

{this was a picture of the scoreboard}

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 is 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 zen.  And I lost it right as George came up to see how I was doing (so, bright side?  George was the only one who saw my demon face, and not the kids...)

{this was a fun GIF of demon-face from the show 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.)

{here was a picture of the Poke-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.  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!