loquacious family

Thursday, January 19, 2017

(S)P(l)urge - The Book Dilemma

As you know, I've been Konmari-ing my home for the past year and a half. Old clothes and shoes are being sold or donated, clutter is being cleaned up, toys are being Varage'ed and the whole goal has been to purge excess and try to simplify our stuff. You know, in case we ever move again;

Fewer boxes = easier, cheaper, and faster move.

Anyway, I'm getting to be pretty adept at this purging business. However, there is one area that has been a very fatal weakness for me: books. Specifically, Little L's books. I'm a bibliophile at heart, and I have been amassing a fairly decent library of books for my girl since before she was even born. Add to that Hubbs' collections of books from his own childhood days, as well as birthday and Christmas gifts that tend towards beautiful hardcovers, and the collection grows quickly. I'm also a sucker for cheap books, so whenever the Scholastic flyer comes a-callin', I answer with an order, even if it is just a minimal one. And then there are my completionist tendencies; it just seems wrong to have only *one* or two of a series, when you can have the whole set. Currently, our Little L book count is somewhere in the 300's, if my estimates are correct. I dare not count, but judging by the pics (and the full bin of Mr. Men/Little Miss books, plus the two-row-deep shelves in some cases), I'd say that is a pretty fair estimate.





Books are heavy though, and also space-eaters. They take up room and they also get dog-eared and worn out, particularly if they are paperbacks and printed by Scholastic. Some of our books have seen better days, and are currently bound together by an intricate web of packing tape that speaks to my prowess as a former library page and book mender. But I can't bear to throw any of them out, or sell them.

Because they have sentimental value to Hubbs.

Because they are still being read by Little L.

Because they are part of a set that is beloved by the whole family.

Because they would be too costly to replace if we ever needed to get them back.

Because they're quality children's literature, and/or a Newbery or other literature award winner.

Because they've been signed by an author.

Because they were a gift from someone special.

Because.
Because.
Because.

Now don't get me wrong; I've already gotten rid of a good number of board books or duplicates. Little L and I periodically sift through her library and make keep/donate piles. For the most part, the donated ones aren't usually missed when they're gone.

However, my kid is a bit of a packrat and has an amazing memory. She will sometimes ask for books that haven't been read in over a year. Her attachment to certain titles make it impossible to covertly purge them without my feeling immensely guilty.

And if I'm being honest, I am a bit of a packrat too when it comes to our books. I love children's literature, and I am not quick to part with titles either. Hubbs is a bit more ruthless, but even he has second thoughts about donating some of the books we've kept from his or Little L's early childhood.

So what is a girl to do? At the rate that I'm going, our book count will definitely hit 400 by the end of the year. I will continue to do the quarterly inventory with my little bookworm, but if our track record is any indication, she only relents on about 15 titles at any given purge. Those same 15, and more, are quickly replaced within the quarter, thanks to Chapters-Indigo, Scholastic, and Costco.

While I'm hopeful that a day will come when the Little Piggie Boynton book set can be sold, or she has moved on from the crappy paperback stories we've ordered from Scholastic (half of them are kind of duds), that doesn't seem to be the case anytime soon. We are running out of bookshelf space!! Please send help...or more bookshelves.

How do you decide which titles to keep or to get rid of? What's your bookcase situation?


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Monday, January 16, 2017

OnAnOff Buddyphones - a Review


**(I composed this post almost a month ago, but due to recent events with our extended family, the publish button didn't get hit until now).**

We accidentally stumbled upon some awesome kiddo headphones recently. After arriving at the airport for our Christmas flight, we discovered that we had forgotten to pack Little L's Panasonic headphones. She had taken them out of the Stella & Dot Getaway (my fave travel bag) earlier, and I had forgotten to put them back.

Anyway, we ended up at the airport electronics store, desperate for a quick replacement. Originally, I would have opted for the cheapest pair possible, but who are we kidding? Airport mark-ups are insane, so it was a better value to get the good ones since either way, we'd be paying out the wazoo for them.

They had a huge selection of OnAnOff Buddyphones headphones in a multitude of colours. I grabbed a fuschia pair, which set me back $75 after tax, and promptly removed the packaging to get them flight-ready.



Now that we have used them for a bit, I'm so glad we splurged on these headphones. They have three volume settings, including a child-safe airplane mode, which is important because the in-flight ambient noise renders most kid headphones virtually inaudible. In the case of these ones, there is also a volume control switch on the cords, and a jack spliced so that multiple kids (with additional headphones) can listen in and watch the same videos together without bothering the grumpy old lady seated behind you. The headphones also come with name labels in different colours, so that these rather pricey headsets don't get lost or confused with another kid's. And the headband part is soooo soft; it is by far the cushiest pair I've encountered in the 5 pairs that Little L has owned.


So yes, this was an investment (thank you Nana and YeYe for the Christmas gift!), and an impulsive purchase borne out of an immediate need, but we don't regret it one bit!
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Good Grief

Sitting on our bookshelf is a Charlie Brown Christmas book that Little L received from her Nana for Christmas a few years ago. What makes this book extra super special is that it forever preserves Nana's voice as she reads the story. When you turn the page, some transitional music plays and then you can hear Nana narrating the classic tale of Charlie Brown's search for the true meaning of Christmas. 

This is our second copy of the book. Little L read and reread the first one so often as a toddler that it came off its spine and no longer played the correct page when you opened it up. Nana and YeYe searched high and low to secure a second copy for their first grandbaby; I suspect they were secretly delighted both by her love of reading and also by her enthusiasm for their personalized gift.

Anyway, when I open the book now, and hear Nana's expressive retelling of the story, it seems particularly poignant because it points out focus to what really matters at Christmastime - Jesus Christ, God Incarnate who came to deliver mankind from sin and give us the hope of eternity. It is especially meaningful, too, that it was right after the Christmas season that she surrendered her spirit to Jesus. We are filled with good grief, because we know the hope found in Christ, but we also have a sorrowful grief, since her fairly sudden departure leaves us with an unspeakable void. 


My sadness is like Swiss cheese with all the holes; some are hidden from view deep within me, while others appear as giant ugly cry craters on my surface. And much like my grief over my Dad, the things that I tend to miss most are the smallest things that capture the essence of who Mom was. I miss her expressions when she would savour that first bite of some delicious meal; she would close her eyes, smile, and make this mm-mm-mmmm sound while simultaneously wiggling in her seat to reveal her satisfaction and delight. Or the way she would break into a boogie in celebration over the little and the big things, or when a favourite song would come on the radio. I cherish that moment when her eyes widened and filled with happy tears at the realization that she was going to be a Nana for the first time. I miss my shopping buddy; we were unstoppable at Christmas markets and also at Winners. I long to hear one more laugh, clap, and conspiratorial whisper in my ear, "Oh, you SO get me!" To sit with her at the slots and feed one more $20 into the machine just for the heck of it. To taste her culinary skills crafting her trademark linguine and clam sauce again, which she made often because she knew it was a favourite of ours. To even have her correct the way I loaded cutlery into her fancy dishwasher or stacked her pots for storage. Oh, to have my second Mom again! I am undone.

Grief comes in waves for me. I usually hold together fairly stoically, and then melt in an emotional heap when I randomly come across a "Mom thing". I won't be sad until I am, and then the sorrow at yet another loss to the devil's plague - cancer - will unravel me like a cheap sweater. 

But grief is healthy and good, too; it reminds us to celebrate a life well lived and offers us a challenge to go forth and live fully while we can. And Mom lived well; her days were full and so was her heart. Her love and her positivity will be missed, but our farewell is only temporary. We will meet again one day, God-willing. 

Until then, Mom, I'll remember to do a happy dance every time I remember you. ❤️
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fab Fit Fun - Winter 2016/2017 Editor's Box

I did it. I splurged and subscribed myself for a FabFitFun box. I'm no C-list celebrity but I've seen the ads on FB and IG and I knew I wanted my own box, and I even taped my unboxing:



Sorry the light and audio were suspect; my kid was napping and I was so excited I didn't even bother to find a well-lit location (or fix my ghetto make-up). 

The items in my box were:

An engraved Jook & Nona necklace ("happy") - $65
Zoya 5-free nude nail polish - $10
Marrakesh Argan & Hemp hair serum - $23
Anderson Lilley Winter in Manhattan Beach Beach Butter body cream - $24
Good Morning Gorgeous! Coffee mug - the Created Co. $19
FabFitFun penci crayons and colouring book - $14
Modcloth Lock and Key blanket scarf - $35
Manna Kadar lip gloss stain in Lucky - $24
O.R.G. skincare mineral peel for face - $44

Total retail value: $258USD
Paid: $39.99USD + shipping

Verdict: totally worth it! I can't wait for my spring box, although I'm not a preferred member and so I won't get mine shipped out early. I also wasn't comp'ed for this glowing review, although I'm shamelessly open to swag! 😘


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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Right Up to 2017, or Another Trip to the Market

I am so excited that this year, the Vancouer Christmas Market is open on New Year's Eve, and they are also hosting a family-friendly event to ring it in!


On Dec. 31, from 11:00am - 9:00pm, they're continuing to run the regular market (hello roasted pork hocks and chimney cakes!), plus they're adding extra goodies for the littles, like free kids' caricatures, balloon animals/twists, and glitter tattoos from 11:00am to 5:00pm. The admission is $8/adult but kiddos under 6 are free, and I think my season pass is still good for this event (which is perfect since we still have carousel tokens to use up)!

Link to the entertainment schedule for the 31st:
Best part? It is a dry event, so they won't be serving up any pints, and that means that your kiddos won't have to navigate through crowds of inebriated grown-ups holding (and spilling) steins and spaetzel and pretzels on their little heads 😂

Unless the weather decides to take another snowy poop all over our plans, we will be there! Come join us, and support this fantastic annual market for one last hurrah in 2016! 
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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Snowbug

Up until now, Little L has not really known snow. Our travels into AB during winter happened when she was too young to remember, and it hasn't snowed significantly in the GVA in about 1000 days.

Until now.

Oh, yes, it's snowing like Edmonton in November. And my now-cognizant 4.5 year old is eating it up. In some cases, literally. 


We have had snowball fights, built quasi-snow penguins, and made snow angels. We have tasted and touched and even made ourselves some snow ice cream. It's like Christmas came early for my kiddo, and she is loving every cold white minute of it. 


One thing that this sudden blast of Arctic air has taught me is how woefully underprepared we were for the cold. Not for ourselves, of course; we still have all our warm gear from our AB days. For Little L, however, we literally didn't have anything that would permit her to play in the snow. Her three pairs of boots that I bought for the season were not warm enough or grippy enough or too hard to put on. Literally, we have Pedipeds and cheap Uggs knock-offs and rubber rain boots that simply have not been sufficient for this weather. Likewise her mittens, as I discovered post-snowfall, are all of the knit variety and utterly incapable of repelling water and snow while keeping her digits suitably warm.


This is when having an Amazon Prime membership is such a blessing, as is having a good baby/kids store nearby. I scored her some warm and waterproof Totes boots online that arrived in a mere three days, and then found her some warm NorthFace mitts to buy her some extra frolicking time in the snow (note: no pics of the new mitts yet; we just got them on the weekend).


And look how happy this girl is! She was born to live in winter climates ;)





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Monday, December 12, 2016

Countdown Advent(ures) 2016


>We legitimately try not to spoil Little L too much, although the temptation is definitely there since she's our one and only. For her part, Little L doesn't ask for too much either; she still has zero exposure to commercials so she has no idea what popular toys she's "missing out" on. She doesn't have any interest in going to ToysRUs or the local toy store situated a mere four blocks away, and she prefers books and stickers to just about anything else in the world.

What then is one to do about her Christmas gifts? I have family members and friends who want to bless her with presents but haven't a clue where to begin with my curious little lady. 

As her mama, I am at a loss too. I am still mid-purge with her old toys, so I'm not keen to lose the space I'm only now reclaiming. I also strive to find a balance between being extravagant and practical, intentional and fun. It is no easy task.

This year, because of our travel plans over the holidays, I didn't want to save up Little L's gifts for the 25th. I also take issue with kids opening a bazillion presents all on one day; it is overwhelming and doesn't allow for the practice of appreciation and gratitude. On top of all that, I also prefer experience gifts to toys. 

All of these factors led me to devise a 25-day advent with a mixture of gifts and experiences leading up to our Christmas flight. I tried to balance big ticket presents with small, practical gifts, and costly experiences with more cost-effective ones. As it so happened, many of our annual Christmas traditions happened to fall nicely into this advent schedule, so they became a part of her countdown calendar quite seamlessly. 

Here then, in no particular order, are the gifts and experiences that make up Little L's 2016 Christmas present:

A bamboo spork for her school lunches*
A pair of grippy Christmas slipper socks
An Easy-Bake oven (on sale for $19.99!)
A box of Christmas bandaids
Usborne sticker and activity books*
A robe*
An Elephant and Piggie book*
Some winter accessories for our snowy travels*


Two "Yes!" days to be claimed*
A trip to the Vancouver Christmas Market (which has turned into multiple trips)*
Movie night at home with popcorn and hot chocolate*
Baking sugar cookies with Mommy*
Decorating a mini gingerbread village*
Making Christmas crack chocolate bark with Mommy


While that list may seem extravagant, note the asterisks behind some of them; these would be things and activities we would have done anyway as part of our holiday traditions, so they're actually just being reframed as gifts! 

I've also been tasked with getting Little L some gifts on behalf of family, and a few of the things I will be looking to pick up during our travels include:

- kinetic sand
- pajamas
- more sticker books
- baking mixes for her Easy Bake
- LEGO sets
- a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 polaroid camera (it will be her gift from Nana and YeYe)
- a stuffed whale from Finding Dory

... And now I'm out of ideas. Little L also has a birthday in early Feb.?!?!

What are you gifting your littles with this Christmas? I seek gift inspo! 
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