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!


Friday, 20 March 2015

Tourist in My Own Town: Taste of Lawrence

Note:  This post was originally published on July 8, 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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Last summer, my gorgeous friend Kelly came to Toronto for a visit.  We were out having dinner/drinks and chatting away when she used a phrase that has stuck with me ever since - she was talking about taking her two daughters out to a bunch of different places and said "I feel like a tourist in my own town".  Tourist in my own town.  I don't know what it is about that line, but I love it.

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

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

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

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

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

Until this year.


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

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

{there was a picture of my Beaver Tail here}

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

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

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

{this was a picture of George and J-Bird checking out the bees}

Every year, my amazing friend Jenny gets a booth for her yoga business (and to sell beautiful mala bead jewelry) and I always drop by and say hi.

{picture of Jenny's booth was here}

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

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


{This was a picture of J-Bird playing carnival games}

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

It turns out that J-Bird has grown so much since his last trip to Taste of Lawrence that he's officially big enough to go on every single one of the rides, so he opted to skip the "kid rides" and go for the bigger stuff (although he wanted someone to ride most things with him).  Since I'm currently not able to do anything fun, George got to go on all the rides and I got to stand off to the side and hold water bottles and balloons and ninja-penguin stuffies.  But it also meant that I could get pictures of my two favourite people on carnival rides together, and I can't think of a better way to end off this post than with some snapshots of my boys having a blast.

{and then there were four or five pictures of the boys on rides...}

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