Team Adventurers: Pre-Christmas Edition

About a month ago, my wanderlust kicked into full gear and I started dreaming about taking the kids on a mini getaway.  I decided on NYC (perhaps induced by Home Alone2) because

  1. I love NYC, and
  2. Christmas in the (big) city sounded so romantic .. and fun!

Then I remembered… we live 20 minutes from downtown Toronto.. (hmm… same thrills, WAY cheaper…)

So Toronto was now the destination.  Sure it seems a little silly to pay for a hotel room in a city 20 minutes from your house but adventure doesn’t count kilometres and we were thirsty for an adventure!

I’ll keep my word count to a minimum and just share some highlights:

  • Just as we were packing up the car, the postal worker delivered letters to Rain and Moxie – FROM SANTA!!!!!!!  This was beyond exciting.  Canada Post – YOU ROCK!!
  • Of course the first thing we did after check-in was go for a swim!  The kids reminded me of our game where I would shout out various animals and they would have to swim lengths pretending to be such animal… (This game should be listed under: Ways to tire your kid out while lounging on a plastic lawn chair.)
  • Then a subway ride to Nathan Phillips Square..stopping only once for street meat (or in my case, street schmeat) mmm….dirty dogs……..
  • Nathan Phillips Square skating (or skate running as Moxie has perfected) for almost 2 hours!  I am so incredibly unstable on skates and Rain amazes me.  I never usually get to see what a fantastic skater he is (goalies don’t tend to skate very much during games)
  • Then a stroll past the Hudson Bay Christmas window displays.  My pictures do not do them justice.  They are magical.  Thank-you for keeping the tradition, Hudson Bay.
  • Next Stop – Starbucks! because cappuccinos help to warm up my cold toes. The kids each tackled a hot chocolate and double chocolate brownie.  (Later Moxie asked, Do you think Santa knows not to leave me chocolate since i don’t really like it?…. um what?)
  • Then back for another (especially long) swim!  This time I joined them and I tread water (have I ever mentioned how much I love to tread water??) while giving them themes on how to jump into the water (Pretend you’re Rudolph!, Pretend your popcorn popping!)
  • As tired as we now were, we dragged our soggy asses across the street and picked up take-out sushi and chinese food.
  • Back in the room and in our jammies, we watched A Christmas Story while eating our take-out on the bed (yes, we are indeed the partiest of animals).  The kids were enthralled by the commercials – seriously.  We haven’t had cable in about a year and they hence the commercials were quite entertaining!  Fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra!
  • We slept in, got ready, checked out and took the subway to China Town.  We love China Town.  We bought some replacement cups that we had bought the last time we there and which are now chipped (probably from over-use).  I also let them each pick a trinket that can be used as a new Christmas Tree ornament (although I think they were created to hang from cell phones…)
  • Back home we discovered a Christmas Gift hanging on our front door.  It was to me.  From a parent of one of Rain’s friends who I had driven to school for the first two months until he got bussing privileges.  Her words on the card touched me, “We Appreciate You.” Could anything be better than being appreciated?  thank-you random acts of kindness. this was amazing.
  • And finally, Moxie wrote a Christmas wish list for her dolls, Jack and Lily.  They are actually the same doll.  They just have different gender identities.  I love her.  Here is a link to the original Jack story: https://teamadventurers.wordpress.com/2014/08/15/big-babys-big-week-throwbackthursday/

And in conclusion (because every good story needs a conclusion) we are continuing to  build new traditions, new memories and make life a constant adventure.

xoxo Team Adventurers (@pixiepaperdoll7)

Help , I'm Stuck in the Shower!

Help , I’m Stuck in the Shower!

Happy Habs Fan at College Subway station

Happy Habs Fan at College Subway station

Street meat & a Nativity Scene - poetry in motion.

Street meat & a Nativity Scene – poetry in motion.

1st (but not last) time skating at Nathan Phillips Square

1st (but not last) time skating at Nathan Phillips Square

Family skate at Nathan Phillips Square

Family skate at Nathan Phillips Square

Biiiiiiggggg (and real!!) Christmas Tree at City Hall #Toronto

Biiiiiiggggg (and real!!) Christmas Tree at City Hall #Toronto

Hudson Bay Christmas Displays

Hudson Bay Christmas Displays

Hudson Bay Christmas Displays

Hudson Bay Christmas Displays

Take-out Chinese Food and Sushi in hotel room watching The Christmas Story (& commercials)

Take-out Chinese Food and Sushi in hotel room watching The Christmas Story (& commercials)

leftover (cold) chicken balls for breakfast? why not!?

leftover (cold) chicken balls for breakfast? why not!?

China Town loot

China Town loot

Jack and Lily's Christmas List. Same Doll. Different gender identities.

Jack and Lily’s Christmas List. Same Doll. Different gender identities.

My Favourite CBC R3 Songs in 2014

Erica Richmond  @pixiepaperdoll7

The Ground Rules (Because every good playlist needs rules)

  1. Each song must be available on CBC R3
  2. I must have fallen in love with the song in 2014 (not necessarily released in 2014)
  3. One song per artist

The Play List (in no particular order)

(listen along here)

  1. Cloud 69 – Lowell

Toronto, ON  Arts and Crafts (2014)

  • fucking. amazing.

  1. Oh Cecilia – Born Ruffians

Toronto, ON  Paper Bag Records (2014)

  • but then again, I’m a sucker for dancing crossing guards.

  1. Provincial Parks – Oh Susanna

Toronto, ON  Independent (2014)

  • Oh Susanna is back again from my 2012 playlist
  • Old Man Leduke deserves an honourable mention (Namedropper CD – a friendship project.)
  • Congrats on your recent battle. Fuck cancer.

  1. Uja – Tanya Taqag Gillis

Cambridge Bay, NU  Six Shooter Records (2014)

  • Yeah that’s right. I jumped on the Tanya train after her phenomenal performance at the Polaris Prize Awards Ceremony. And her acceptance speech? No one else could have possibly made a hastag out of #fuckPeta (not to mention #sealfie). 

  1. I am the Night – Amelia Curran

St. John’s, NFL  Six Shooter Records (2014)

  • Amelia Curran was previously featured on my 2012 playlist. This newest album holds a special spot in my heart, particularly since my recent family tragedy. Take a minute – stop looking at my playlist – and watch this video: http://www.thisvideo.ca/ #EverythingIsGoingToBeAlright

  1. Run Run Run – Sea Perry

Sudbury, ON  Independent (2013)

  • I will not run away from this band!

  1. Fire Me Up – Lightning Dust

Vancouver, BC  Jagjaguwar (2013)

  • Shh… I’m listening to the rain hit the ground

  1. Sunshine – The Wet Secrets

Edmonton, AB  Independent (2014)


  1. Gay Goth Scene – The Hidden Cameras

Toronto, ON  Outside Music (2014)

  • Not just another catchy tune, Gay Goth Scene is a mixture of short film and music video, that deals with a worldwide social disease: bullying.

  1. Odd Year – Odd Years

Guelph, ON  Fortnight Music (2013)


  1. Others – Indigo Joseph

Regina, SK  Independent (2014)

  • I will continue to shout my love for this band until they get the recognition they deserve! They received 2 spots (yeah, that’s right – rule-breakers!) on my 2013 playlist and also were featured on Day 5 of my Western Canada Road Trip 

  1. I Want You Back – Dead Ghosts

Vancouver, BC  Independent (2013)


  1. Sexy Socialite – Chromeo

Toronto, ON  Last Gang Records (2014)

  • Wikipedia describes Chromeo as a ‘boogie/alternative dance duo’ – Sexy!

  1. Headsick – JULYTALK

Toronto, ON  Sleepless Records (2013)

  • Oh what the hell – let’s talk about them in December too!!

  1. Ej Feel Zoo – Radio Radio

Montreal, Qc  Bonsound Records (2014)

  • J’ (fucking) adore Radio Radio! Previously featured on my 2012 playlist.

  1. Chain Reaction – The Pygmies

Calgary, AB  Independent (2013)

  • A punkish Austin Powers sound.. but way better than I’ve just described it.

  1. An American Dream – Kalle Mattson

Sault Ste. Marie, ON  Parliament of Trees (2014)

  • Can you listen to this song without tapping at least one part of your body? You must be dreaming!

  1. Dog Face – Odd Years

Guelph, ON  unknown

  • Rule-Breaker alert!! But c’mon…that face…
  • ps thank you for sending me this track – you made my day!  

  1. You Carry a Sickness – Astral Swans

Calgary, AB  Madic Records (2014)

  • sick.

  1. Animal – The Pack A.D

Vancouver, BC  Nettwerk (2014)

  • Also featured on Day 15 of my Western Canada Road Trip 
  • Upon returning from my roadtrip, my 70yr old friend thanked me to introducing her to so many new artists, highlighting The Pack A.D as one of her faves. #RockForever

  1. Pretty Respectable – Mounties

Vancouver, BC  Light Organ (2014)


  1. All Alone (on my own) – Michael Rault

Toronto, ON  Pirates Blend (2014)

  • Back again from 2012!
  • Michael once asked for a picture with me: (yeah, really. It was HIS idea …He didn’t want to be all alone)

  1. Pancakes, no heartache – Den-igan

Guelph, ON  unknown

  • mmmm… pancakes with syrup, hold the heartache

  1. Demon – Kandle

Montreal via Victoria, QC  (2014)

  • Oh. Hell. Yeah.

  1. Twink – VASLAV

Toronto, ON  (2014)

  • Want to know what I really think of this album? Read my review of  Revelator (Spoiler – they also made my 2012 playlist!)

  1. Je suis devue une lionne – Whitehorse

Hamilton, ON  Six Shooter Records(2014)

  • This band (and song) are fantastique en Francais and English!
  • Whitehorse are no strangers to my ears or yours – they made an appearance on my 2013 playlist and Melissa was on my 2012 playlist
  • ps.… Thank-you for humouring our picture taking request when we were neighbours in Huntsville!
  • IMG_5624

  1. 18th of December – Deep Dark Woods

Saskatoon, SK  Six Shooter Records (2013)

  • “18th of December” is a song about the high price to pay for following one’s heart, and accepting the consequences of one’s choices.” deep. and dark.

  1. Nothing Left – Elliott Brood

Hamilton, ON  Paperbag Records (2014)

  • Elliott Brood not only has seen every consecutive CBC R3 playlist but they also held the theme song of our Western Canada Road Trip this summer
  • I am so freaking excited to see these boys live in the New Year (there WILL be dancing!)
  • They are quickly becoming one of my very favourite artists. And there’s nothing left to say.

  1. Call of the Wild – The Matinee

Vancouver, BC  (2014)

  • The Matinee must have heard the call…They posted this new tune just minutes before my final cut!
  • Not only were The Matinee another rule-breaker on 2013 playlist but they were also featured on Day 13 of my Western Canada Road Trip

Previous Lists:

2013 Favourite CBC R3 songs

2012 Favourite CBC R3 Songs

The most beautiful (crooked) Christmas tree ever..

In a plastic world, I am a hopeless lover of that which is real. Consequently I sit on the real Christmas tree side of the ongoing debate. The smell is infinitely better than any air freshener on the market and I’m even able to overlook the pine needles that inevitably make their way into every room of the house.

Ever since I can remember, my family has cut down our own Christmas tree. It’s tradition. And even though I’m a shaker-upper, this is one tradition I’ve continued to treasure.

Why do we continue to cut our own tree when they are available at practically any street corner in the city? My kids will tell you,

“Because we are team adventurers, that’s why!”

Team Adventurers

Team Adventurers

I’ll never forget the first year I cut down the tree with Rain and Moxie freshly after separating from their dad. I was completely unprepared – no saw, no mitts, no plan of what to do with the tree once it was cut and no idea how freaking hard it can be to cut through a tree trunk (no matter how small!). But we got a little help along the way and ended up with a tree to be proud of!

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2008

This year, on our way to the Christmas tree farm, the elephant that had been hanging out since the first of the holiday season, made an official introduction.

“This will be our first Christmas without Daddy.”

And as much as I had been thinking about this inevitable conversation for months, all I could muster as a response was,

“Yup.”

(think Erica…) I added, “So how do you feel about that?”

Their eyes stared at the back of my head in confusion until finally one of them said,

“um.. Sad…?”

Yeah – no shit Sherlock!? geez Erica..

Awkwardly I managed to redeem myself and the conversation turned around. We talked about new and old traditions. I promised to take them to the cemetery to visit their Dad during the holidays.

“Is it okay to leave flowers for him?”
“Of course, I think that’s a wonderful idea.”

Rain and Moxie decided to make a special decoration to honour their Dad this year. I let them know I also had a new tree ornament that could also be in memory of him. I had started thinking about this a little while ago and of course the obvious choice when someone dies is to get an angel decoration. But an angel just didn’t seem right for Jason. And no, not in a negative way, he just wasn’t an angel kind of guy. Thankfully my mom had found us a snowman ornament that was wearing a Maple Leaf jersey. Nice – This was more like him. (Although I now have a sadistic urge to watch Jack Frost, which will inevitably make me sob.  Ever notice how many Christmas movies involve the death and/or demise of parents? Neither did I..).

In any case we soon started singing along to the Sesame Street Christmas tunes and before long we arrived at the farm.

We went straight to the Scotch Pine trees (because Pine is Fine and rhymes with Wine..yes this is actually how I remember what kind to look for) and set to work searching for something we could all agree on. My only criteria is that it must be small enough to fit in my trunk. Yup this is how us city-folk who do not have SUVs do it. And to keep this family rated I will resist every urge not to make a gazillion junk in the trunk jokes.

After a fun hunt through the snow we settled on the perfect tree. A little taller than usual but perfect nonetheless.

I took out my new saw (a gift from my Dad) and started the process of cutting it down. Then Moxie had a turn. Then Rain had a turn. Then I had a turn. And by now we are just barely halfway. I am always amazed at how long it takes us to cut through a little tree trunk (lumberjack may not be my next career move).

Moxie cutting the tree

Moxie cutting the tree

Rain cutting the tree

Rain cutting the tree

Rain amusing himself with snow angels while we cut down this ginormous tree!

Rain amusing himself with snow angels while we cut down this ginormous tree!

TIMBERRRRRRRR – just in time to catch a ride on the wagon.

Back on the wagon with our pine (not wine)

Back on the wagon with our pine (not wine)

The kids played in the snow while I settled the tree tab and got it wrapped up in twine. Then I drag it to my car where I fully realized just how big it was this year.

“Okay kids, so there is a chance that I may need to leave you here for a bit and then come back and get you. Be nice to people and maybe they’ll buy you a hot chocolate!!”
“Sure mom, take your time!”

{no, don’t call CAS – I did not leave them!}

Instead, by Christmas miracle, the tree was crammed in. And despite the fact that the top of the tree was incredibly bent over I figured it was only a 20-minute drive and it would eventually straighten out … right?

How do you get a 6ft tree into the trunk of your car?

How do you get a 6ft tree into the trunk of your car?

You cram it in (with a dash of a Christmas miracle)

You cram it in (with a dash of a Christmas miracle)

Once home I moved the living room furniture around to make room for this crooked beauty. And once I got it in the stand and strung with lights we started to decorate. Now, I see lots of pictures on the covers of magazines and on my daily Facebook feed of truly beautiful and coordinated trees. They are perfectly amazing.

Ours is nothing like that at all.

The majority of our ornaments are made out of construction paper, glitter glue and dried macaroni. The others are Dollarama design specials! Thankfully I do have a growing collection of Artful Clarke originals (thanks Alison!) to balance out the mix.

Our tree is filled with memories, love and Christmas magic (not to mention some elbow grease!). And even though I say this every year, it is truly the most beautiful tree ever.

Erica Richmond @pixiepaperdoll7

"Merry Christmas Dad!"

“Merry Christmas Dad!”

oohhhh....ahhhhhh....

oohhhh….ahhhhhh….

Feature on Manifest-Station

I am so incredibly honoured to have had my “Dear Jerk” letter posted on The Manifest-Station and I am beyond blown away by the overwhelming response.

Thank you Jennifer Pastiloff for this opportunity:

http://themanifeststation.net/2014/12/04/dear-jerk-a-letter-to-the-father-of-my-kids-after-he-took-his-own-life/

And remember,
you are not alone.

xo
e