About Mikaela Lefaive

Perpetually dreaming.

Art from the margins: The story of an almost midlife crisis

Long ago, in the time before children (B.C.), I had hobbies.

I splotched paint on canvases. I wrote mediocre poetry. I attempted yoga poses. I sang in choirs. I read books that challenged my brain. I played the piano. I volunteered my eager little heart out. I wrote blog posts. I threw my time around like rainbow confetti.

Here’s a self-portrait I painted in 2006(ish). Even though it’s fairly true to life, I look at it now and don’t quite see myself.

In university I bravely explored the edges of the musical universe like Carl friggin Sagan, blissfully lingering in record shops then lying on my bedroom floor listening to obscure albums deep into the night.

In high school, I was the strange, artsy kid. Flipping through sketchbooks from my teenage years is like going on an odyssey through the mind of a deranged addict. I never actually did drugs; I was just that weird. Here are some of my less freakish drawings from the year 2000, or about 20 years B.C.

It’s difficult to reconcile that willfully eccentric young person – her pink hair, scuffed Dr. Martens, pierced brow, and penchant for The Smiths – with the utterly boring (but admittedly reliable and fairly decent) adult I am today.

My transformation started long ago, with my first office gig, but parenthood certainly finished the job. Since April 2017 (when my son was born) most of my unpaid hours have been spent nurturing, feeding, and cleaning. There’s little time for eccentricity or art.

Me, in the most important role.

I love Arthur and Florence so much it makes my heart sore. They’re magnificent little humans. They make me laugh every day. I’m deeply grateful for them. I enjoy being a mother. But here’s a hard little nugget of truth: I’d like my identity to stretch beyond them.

So in August (as I lay awake at 4 a.m. wishing they would stop crying every two hours like an adorable but exhausting pair of dueling banjos) I resolved to have an Artistic Autumn. I would miraculously scrape together the time I needed to go on a creative journeyto see if I could dust off some old parts of myself.

I enrolled in painting classes with the Barrie Art Club. I signed up for a graphic design course at Georgian College. I committed to writing and playing the piano every single day.

Day 1 at the Barrie Art Club. Can you feel my stress?

Was it a midlife crisis? I think crisis is too strong a word. But yeah, probably. Was I going to let that fact stop me? Nope.

To save a few pennies, I asked my maman to unearth old gear from the most remote nooks of her basement. My acrylics had coagulated. My palette knife was rusty. But holding them in my hands felt like hugging old friends.

Was it a midlife crisis? I think crisis is too strong a word. But yeah, probably.

The night of my first physically distanced art class, my palms were damp as I pulled on my backpack and jammed some blank canvases under my armpits. JF is a great parent. I knew the kids were fine, but I felt guilty, nervous, and self-indulgent.

Those feelings intensified as I realized painting wasn’t at all like riding a bike. My eyes had forgotten how to mix colours. I couldn’t remember whether Bs or Hs were the darker pencils. My first piece was truly dreadful. I almost didn’t attend the second class.

Thankfully, I didn’t let cowardice and pride get the better of me. I kept going and even managed to produce a few not totally shameful paintings. I’ve since set up a sort of studio in my basement and am determined to get better.

My graphic design course just ended and I’m delighted to report that I truly enjoyed every messy, imperfect assignment. I’m going to sign up for GD2 soon.

I kind of like this flying pig logo I drew for class.

I haven’t quite succeeded in playing or writing every day, but I often manage to find a quarter of an hour to produce something: a verse, a horrid musical cover (I included some belowyes I know I look exhausted), a sketch, a shadow of an idea.

San Diego Serenade, Tom Waits
These Days, Jackson Browne

Every time I eke out a moment to do something creative—something for myself—I feel totally invigorated.

It means planning naps, neglecting housework, finding a babysitter, or creating a sort of entertaining padded cell for my toddler(s). It’s not easy. But it feels good to squeeze selfish minutes out of my otherwise relatively selfless existence.

I’m creating art from the quieter corners of my life – art from the margins of motherhood.

Here’s a scribbled and rather sad poem I also call “Ode to 2020.”

To be clear, none of what I make is truly good. I know that. But I think the act of creation is therapeutic and valuable. I need it. I extra extra (times a thousand) need it in this strange, virtual era.

As my maternity leave ends, and Artistic Autumn with it, I can honestly say I’ve rediscovered a small but meaningful piece of my being. I’m sharing it with you so you can know me, too.

And now—because all of my blog posts seem to end with advice—I’d like to say that if you ever find yourself mired in the relentlessness of parenting, try picking up a paintbrush, or plucking at guitar strings, or scribbling on the back of a takeout menu. You won’t regret it.

Apocalypse, Cigarettes After Sex

10 reasons for gratitude in this pandemic

A few days ago, Arthur hugged his grandma after nearly three months without physical contact. He poked her first, just to make sure it was OK.

That poke marked the end of an era — a really long, rather painful, super strange era.

Arthur's grandma pulling him in for a big hug
Reunited and it feels so good

That night, this blog post spilled out. I was sad and angry at what felt like three lost months. I needed to change my thinking.

The reality is COVID parenting is freaking hard. Caring for two small children is difficult in normal times. Take away all supports and it’s sheer insanity. Still, there are so many reasons for gratitude in these socially distanced times. Here are my top 10.

  1. Time slowed down.

Every morning we walk through the same forest. We pass the same trees, rocks, and stumps. Over three months, Arthur watched that forest transform as the snow melted, buds formed, and leaves busted open. I’ve also been able to observe slow changes in my children. With each week, Arthur gets a little better at pulling on his own underwear and riding his bike. Flo has carefully built up the strength to stand on her own two feet. It’s all rather magnificent when you take a moment to think about it.

Two kids in a stroller, with a trail and dog ahead of them, in the woods.
This is our regular walking trail.
  1. We’ve learned how to exist as a family of five.

I know what you’re thinking. Hadn’t we already figured this out? The truth is no, we had not established how to just be two parents, two kids, and a dog. We had sorted out how to be a family of about 50 – with our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, kennel, and daycare providers. Since mid-March JF and I have been managing non-stop feeding, teaching, soothing, cleaning, and corralling. It’s a grind. But we have become so much better at it. There is a rhythm to our days that wasn’t there before. And now I know we can manage (and some days even enjoy!) an insular life.

Me and my kids in a pile of laundry.
This is us “doing laundry.” Productivity isn’t always our forte.
  1. The little things matter more.

The most exciting moments in our coronavirus lives were once mundane: trucks loading yard waste, mail hitting the front stoop, unpacking groceries, popsicles on the porch, and filling the kiddie pool. Those things feel special now. Which is probably how humdrum life should feel. Because how lucky are we to live a safe, stable, middle-class life?

Arthur staring at his popsicle with pure love
May you find someone who looks at you the way Arthur is looking at this blue popsicle.
  1. We started a vegetable garden.

I’ve been talking about growing my own vegetables for years. It was in my original vision for country living. Well, the pandemic made it possible. JF built a modest cedar box. We filled it with dirt. Arthur helped me plant and water seeds until they turned into little green things. And finally, we put them in the soil. Who knows whether I’ll be able to keep them alive long enough to produce food, but the whole exercise has made my heart sing. Next year, we’ll grow even more.

  1. We’re saving money. Kinda.

Without Arthur in full-time daycare, we’re managing to save a few pennies. Plus I never realized just how social I am — and how often I went out for lunch. My credit card adores this staying home thing. Our only growing expense is groceries. I never thought I’d spend $400 at Loblaws, but between kid snacks and chocolate chips, I’ve done it twice.

Arthur eating cupcakes gleefully
No birthday party = no expense = no problem!
  1. I’ve learned to appreciate my neighbourhood.

Until COVID, our sleepy village was just a quiet place to be between trips to work, friends and family. But I can probably count on two hands the number of times I’ve left Wyevale since mid-March. Being here all the time has shown me just how strong a community we have. Our neighbours have brought us food. They’ve posted hearts in their windows for children to find. They’ve wrapped their trees in blue cloth to celebrate healthcare workers. There are more smiles and waves than ever before. I feel so lucky to be in just this spot, at just this time.

Arthur staring at our friends, who are at the end of our walkway during a socially distanced visit.
The Myles are our neighbours and friends. We’ve really appreciated their socially-distanced visits during this pandemic.
  1. Our yard has never looked better.

Our best pandemic days are spent in our yard. When the sun is shining, we play in the dirt. It’s that simple. As Florence and Arthur dig around independently — as they are learning to do — Jean-François and I can tackle some long-neglected projects. My flower gardens have never had so few weeds. Our fence is straighter. I’ve re-organized the garage. These are small victories, but they feel good.

A garden bed along a white brick house.
Two years ago this was a patch of half-dead grass and dirt. This relatively weed-free garden feels like a win.
  1. We appreciate our support network so much more.

I’ve always been grateful for my “love army,” as I call them. But I don’t think I truly grasped how lucky I am until I couldn’t rely on them for help. When we left the kids with JF’s mom a few nights back, the relief was immense. The whole Big Yellow Taxi thing is true. You really don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

Florence standing in the surf, with her hands being held by her grandfather Mike.
Here are the kids during a visit with grand-maman and Mike. Bliss!
  1. We’ve made time for hobbies.

To the average person, birds aren’t a big deal. But because JF is an avid birder, they’re a bit of a theme at our house. We have bird art, bird books, and bird stuffies. Our Christmas tree has about 20 bird ornaments. This year, JF set up some stellar new feeders in our yard with an effective squirrel baffle. Holy jumpin! We see a lot of action back there. In fact, we often sit in our screened-in porch to admire grosbeaks, house finches, towhees, and thrashers. Even Arthur can name a dozen or so species.

Arthur, JF, Odie and Flo on a trail
Birding at Tiny Marsh
  1. We’ve worked on our partnership.

JF and I have officially been together for 15 years. Sure some of my grandma’s pants are older than that, but to me, that’s a lot of time. This pandemic has challenged us to find new levels of solidarity in the way we parent and divide work. There is less time for us as a couple, so we have to work harder to find moments together. Love is still a project, but lately, it’s going rather well.

JF and I with Odie
As soon as our bubble grew, we left the kids with grandparents and went on a date.

So yes, pandemics suck. They really do. The world will lose more than half a million people by the time a vaccine becomes widely available. That is an unfathomable tragedy that I don’t want to minimize. For so many, this disease has meant job loss, prolonged exposure to violence, and serious mental health challenges.

Florence and JF banging on vavo's window at the nursing home. Grandma is peaking out from inside.
My grandma was in a nursing home for two months but the isolation was too much.

But I have been fortunate to do some growing (waistline included) in these difficult times. I’m aware of my privilege. I am grateful for my little house, my clever husband, my stable job, and my beautiful children. So even though some days were cry-into-soup-bowl-sized-mugs-of-coffee difficult, I believe I’ll look back on this family time with fondness — or at least gratitude.

JF, me and the kids on the front porch.
A front porch photo by my friend Kristin. Thanks KT!

The end.

Having it all

I would like to preface this post with a mini life update :

  • Boulette was born June 22 after a predictably painful but beautifully brief birth. Her real name is Florence and she’s magnificent.
  • I’m on maternity leave for another 14 months. Oh, Canada!
  • Arthur is 2.5 years old – which is apparently the age at which children become criminally insane. Not really. But maybe.
  • JF and I are close to celebrating 15 years of togetherness.
  • Odie is six years old and getting smellier every month.
  • We still live in a humdrum bungalow in sweet little Wyevale.
Meet Flo, princess of leg rolls

Basically, I’m a very, very lucky person.

I have all the things society tells us successful humans should have: an amazing partner, two beautiful children, a big sweet doggo, my health, a reliable job, two working cars, an incredible network of friends and family, and a comfortable home in a nice neighbourhood. I know many people would love to have my «problems.»

Two of my (adorable) dependants

Most of the time (let’s say 97.5 per cent of the time) I bask in it.

I savour the family meals, the baby baths, and the Odie walks. I enjoy my friends when I’m lucky enough to see them. I hug my sisters close. I find my son hilarious. I even love cleaning my car.

Other times I am totally overwhelmed by it all.

  • Partner = Damn it’s hard to keep the romance alive.
  • Toddler = Are you eating an earplug?
  • Baby = How did you get poop in your armpit?
  • Dog = Ready for yet another cold and rainy walk?
  • Health = Does lifting bags of chips count?
  • Car = Is that a rotting cheesestring under the passenger seat?
  • Friends and family = Oh shit, I forgot (insert name here)’s birthday!
  • Home = Googling “how to get dry, crusty play-doh out of a jute rug.”
  • Neighbourhood = We need to up our decorative gourd game.

It’s like I’m stuck standing in the surf on a windy day. The waves keep crashing down and my feet keep sinking into the mud. It feels kinda nice, but it would be good to have dry feet again. And some days I wish someone would pull me out and drag me onto the beach where I can sip a margarita and read a romance novel.

I haven’t had time to improve this sad, sad Halloween display. Bonus: Odie peeing on my hedges.

I recently had one of those days.

I was running on 2.5 hours of sleep (damn you, teething!). My house looked like an episode of hoarders. My head was pounding. I had a nasty cough. My car was out of gas. My fridge was empty. And Florence just wouldn’t nap long enough for me to fix any of it.

Then I picked up my toddler who was in a miserable mood, right before he pooped his pants. I overcooked dinner. The kids’ bedtime took forever. I had a row with JF over potty training (this is my life now). Then I spent an hour wallowing in self-pity before finally conking out. Basically, I was Alexander.

There is no time for beauty routines. I literally woke up like this.

The next day was better.

I slept a whole five hours in a row. My brain was unfuzzy enough to appreciate and absorb the little things: a good cup of coffee (thank CHRIST for coffee), my daughter’s giggles, fall flowers, sloppy kisses from my toddler, and my husband’s dry jokes.

I had enough energy to tackle the groceries and the clutter, and enough wisdom to ignore the garden weeds and peanut-butter-stained windows. I even did a bit of mother flippin yoga.


Having it all is pretty swell. But sometimes – mostly when I’m exhausted – it sucks. I want to leave it all behind and become a hermit on some isolated mountain in the Urals.

And I’m learning that’s it’s OK for me to feel that way, on occasion. That those crappy days can be a really important reminder to practice gratitude. Because I really am so very lucky.

So lucky!

The winter of disease

Everyone told me that sending Arthur to daycare would mean a string of illnesses. They told me, but I didn’t quite internalize it.

On day three of “school” he developed a serious, heartbreaking fever. Since then, we have all suffered from an array of infections and viruses. He’s had a runny nose since November. Thank the cherubs for grandmas!

Sick baby

Add pregnancy to this cocktail and you get a potent recipe for misery. With so much help from JF, I (mostly) managed to keep functioning through baby building, full-time work, raising a toddler, caring for Odie, and the barrage of colds. All of my relationships have suffered – I’m sorry!

Three weeks ago, my body just decided to stop fighting. A day after Arthur vomited all over his bed, JF and I both felt strangely dizzy and nauseous. By 4 p.m. I couldn’t hold down food or liquid. By 2 a.m. my body had been rejecting water for about 10 hours. I was severely dehydrated and went to the hospital where I was put on an IV and strapped to baby heart monitor.

Breakfast of champions

The following days were a haze of vomit, Pedialyte, intermittent work hours, and trying to keep my family alive. Then (just as I was beginning to hold down non-bread substances), it was mucus city. I had a nasty virus that lasted about seven days. Earlier this week I thought I was recovered. Nope! I have a sinus infection. My cheeks feel like they’re on fire, I have no taste buds, and I’m running out of Kleenex.

Today, I finally stopped being an idiot and went to see my doctor. I’m on the road to regaining what little stamina one has during the third trimester of pregnancy… I hope. Having survived this assault on my immune system (flipping and kicking enthusiastically), this baby is going to be the toughest little cookie on the block.

Boulette and I

Why am I sharing this tale? This post is a PSA. If you’re thinking of simultaneously launching into pregnancy and daycare adventures, just don’t. Unless you have the disease-fighting abilities of Khan, it’s not worth it!

To make up for this whiny post, here’s a runny-nosed Arthur singing “Clementine”

The end.

On l’appelle Boulette: the return of the four gestational dwarves

I’m coming out of blog semi-retirement (a.k.a. parenting a toddler) to announce that Jean-François, Arthur, Odie and I are expecting an addition to our family in June.

The four gestational dwarves are back! We’re nicknaming the fifth – the squiggly human in my belly – Boulette, which is French for meatball.

Boulette: view from above

When we embarked on our first adventure in human creation, I had no idea how difficult being an adequate all-at-once parent/wife/employee/family member/friend/neighbour would be. We’re knee deep in child-rearing and I don’t know how I keep up with my life.

So much mischief

Here’s a quick comparison of my two pregnancies.

Pregnancy awareness

  • Baby 1: I kept a lengthy journal, read a dozen parenting books, and took prenatal classes. Lumpy was the centre of my universe.
  • Baby 2: I actively have to remind myself that I’m 22 weeks pregnant. I lift heavy boxes before noticing that my belly is in the way. I pour myself a second cup of strong coffee before realizing I can’t drink it.

One of two belly pics I’ve taken


  • Baby 1: I napped regularly. I took baths. I meditated. I went to bed before 10 p.m.
  • Baby 2: I wake up with my toddler at 5:30 a.m. I fall asleep at 11 p.m. having spent my evening cooking, playing and cleaning. I don’t sleep well because my brain worries about all sorts of dumb things. Remind me, what are naps?

Diet and exercise

  • Baby 1: I ate pretty well and made time for long walks with Odie. I biked, stretched, and focused on making my body a friggin temple.
  • Baby 2: I make a balanced breakfast and dinner (for my son) but lunch is a disaster. I binge on cookies. And my BBQ chip consumption is way up. I’m lucky if I can get my tired ass out to yoga class once a week.

Me and my main squeeze: BBQ chips


  • Baby 1: I kept a ruthlessly organized to do list and steadily ticked every box. When Arthur was born my house was spotless, freezer full, birth plan printed, nursery fully stocked, carseat installed, and hospital bags packed and loaded.
  • Baby 2: I’m kinda getting there, I think?

Telling people

  • Baby 1: When I announced my pregnancy on Hello Field I was three months pregnant and had already told close family and friends.
  • Baby 2: I’m about five months pregnant and I still have a niggling feeling I forgot some people on my “Yo, I’m knocked up!” list. Sorry guys!

The photo I JUST took to announce the pregnancy on Facebook


  • Baby 1: Boy did we have it good! Our expenses were limited. We were showered with gifts, and bought all our additional baby supplies without batting an eye.
  • Baby 2: Daycare is hella expensive. We’re saving aggressively for a) a (eye roll) minivan and b) 18 months of parental leave. This little girl is going to be wearing a lot of red plaid and blue stripes, because we’re not buying her a new wardrobe.

Our relationship

  • Baby 1: We went on weekly date nights, talked for hours about what life with the baby would be like, and stayed constantly connected.
  • Baby 2: We’re lucky if we get to slump onto the same couch for 30 minutes to watch TV. JF is still my superhero, but now it’s because he devotes his heart and soul to being an amazing parent. Dates are a distant memory.

JF is my all-star

Given the lack of care and attention Boulette is already experiencing, I am a bit anxious about life with two children. Will I manage to offer them both enough love and support? How in the name of Moses will my house stay clean?

BUT that doesn’t take away the excitement, deep in my gut, at the prospect of meeting this brand new person. I look forward to that baby smell, first smile, and the weight and warmth of her tiny body on my chest.

This time around, I have the added anticipation of watching my first baby fall in love with my second. What a joy that will be.

Arthur, at three(ish) days old

10 pros and cons of mat leave

Arthur is already 10 months old. My brain is having difficulty processing this. Where has my baby gone? How is my leave almost over? Why is time even a thing?

Photo credit: Doug Crawford

Over the last ten months, there have been some amazing moments, and some not so amazing. Here is my totally honest maternity leave pros and cons list.


  1. The actual baby: Babies bring so much joy. They’re soft, they’re cute, they (mostly) smell good, and they’re wonderful to cuddle. When it’s your baby, that joy quadruples. Even when you’re exhausted and covered in vomit, a baby smile will make you feel like the luckiest person in the universe.

    Arthur is a few days old in this picture – so small and sweet!

  2. Time (kinda): Once you’ve recovered from the hell of the first few months, you’ll find babies sleep a lot during the day. During nap time, you’re free to do cool things, as long as you’re within range of your baby monitor and don’t mind that your house looks like it was hit by a tsunami. I spent a lot of my mat leave cleaning and planning our move, but I also enjoyed visits with family and reading Outlander.
  3. People come to you: Babies are like little magnets. They draw in all the people you love. Some of those people bring food, offer gifts, and clean your house. It’s amazing.
  4. Not working: When Arthur was first born, I had no time or energy to think about work. When things got easier, I opted to continue to not think about work. I mean, I love my colleagues and like my job, but focusing my family has been a nice change. DISCLAIMER : I live in Canada, the land of 12-month parental leave.
  5. Comfy pants: On a similar note, I am really digging that I can wear whatever the heck I want. My outfits these past ten months have generally consisted of tights and stretchy jeans with t-shirts.
  6. Mom squads: To get out of the house offer the baby cool new experiences, I started attending play groups. It’s great to connect with dozens of other haggard-looking adults who are going through the same crazy shit. I really appreciate the circle of trust I’ve built.
  7. Running errands during business hours: During mat leave, you never have to worry that a business is busy or closed. There is no rush hour. As long as baby is cooperating (you do NOT want to deal with poop or tears in public) visits to the bank, liquor store, and pharmacy are quick and painless. Have you ever been to a grocery store on a Wednesday morning? It’s a whole new shopping experience. No lineups, no need to park in Siberia, no jostling for the best produce.
  8. Rediscovering: Remember when you were small and super excited about Christmas, toys, and snow; then you became a grownup and the magic went away? Well all of those things (and more) become exciting again because your baby is experiencing them for the first time. I’ve loved dusting off my childhood books and doing all the voices.

    Here’s a video of Arthur saying “wow!”

  9. Baby gear: I really enjoyed setting up Arthur’s nursery. Picking colours, framing art, folding little pairs of socks, assembling the crib… it’s all super fun. I haven’t had to buy much (thanks friends and family!) but when I do, I get a real kick out of second hand baby shops. Is that a $3 pair of itty bitty corduroy pants? Sold! Tiny $2 bowties? Yes please!
  10. New dads and grandparents: My husband seems to have been born for this job. One of my very favourite things is watching him with our son. Same goes for Arthur’s grandparents. It has been so much fun to see his connection with them grow.

The A Team


  1. Sleep deprivation: Early maternity leave is almost cruel. After more than 24 hours of being kept awake by regular bursts of pain, you push a watermelon-sized human out of your vagina. Then you spend the next two months awake around the clock, trying to keep your baby fed, clean and happy. Then you finally kinda get a routine, but you are still waking up two or three times at night to feed your baby. Even when your baby starts sleeping through the night (for me it was at four months) your day starts at 6 a.m. with a feeding. I still feel exhausted.

    Will I ever look untired again?

  2. Poop: A lot of my life revolves around Arthur’s feces. When he was brand new, it was making sure he was getting enough milk. Then it was dealing with poopsplosions as he figured out how to use his bowels. Now that he’s eating solids, I’m constantly thinking about whether he is getting enough fibre. Sigh.
  3. Your body changes: Since giving birth, I’ve had a giant, fatty flap of skin hanging from my lower abdomen. I have stretch marks. None of my pants fit. Also my lochia flow (code for massive amounts of blood) lasted seven weeks. My rotten diet from the early days of mat leave (hello BBQ chips!) has persisted, so I’ve gained about ten pounds since Arthur was born. We do a lot of walking, but not enough to counter the BBQ chips.
  4. Your relationships change: Maintaining a relationship with your partner is hard when you don’t have a small child. Trying to find time to connect when you do is even harder. The same is true for your friends who aren’t on maternity leave (i.e. almost all of them). You just have to do your best to make it work.

    Thanks to all the awesome friends who’ve made the trek to visit!

  5. Confinement: Baby naps offer time to get lots done, which rocks. But sometimes you also feel trapped in your own house. I resent the fact that any outing requires a giant bag of supplies. And dressing babies (at least my baby) is like dressing a feral raccoon, so getting ready to go out can be difficult.
  6. Cleanup: I spend SO much time picking up after my kid. Tidying toys, washing poop-stained onesies, wiping down his high chair… it never ends. If I let it pile up, the mess just takes over – eating away at my sanity. There are pieces of baby rice cracker stuck on my slippers as I type and they are driving me bonkers. As soon as I finish this post I am washing them.
  7. Guilt: When I was pregnant, I totally thought I would be that mom who made baby purees from organic, locally-sourced food. I thought I would : teach him sign language; do all sorts of research on brain-building games; and wear him in my baby carrier 24/7. In reality : I feed him whatever I’m eating; I know a minimum about baby development; and my back gave out after five months of carrying him. My guiltiest mom moments are when I put him in his play room (a.k.a. baby jail) so that I can have 10 minutes to catch up on social media and Clash Royale.
  8. Feeling like a cow: Often I really love breastfeeding. I love feeling connected to my baby. I love the quiet and the snuggles. I love knowing I’m giving him the best (and cheapest) possible food out there for his development. But sometimes, I just feel like a cow. Pumping milk is pretty much the worst thing ever. I look and feel like I’m hooked up to a dairy farm sucking machine. Also, sometimes I would really rather not whip out my boob in a public place.
  9. Feeling insignificant: Sometimes, when Arthur is being particularly rambunctious, all I manage to accomplish in a day is keeping him alive. JF gets home after a day of fixing problems and the house is a disaster, the baby is crying and my left eye is twitching. It can be rather demoralizing.
  10. Questions about the next baby: As Arthur gets older, people just can’t seem to help themselves. « Are you going to have another one? » « How long will you be at work before your next one? » « Is Arthur going to have a little brother or sister? » My stance on questions related to my uterus is this : don’t. My reproductive system is no concern of yours.

Our family is a perfectly good size, thank you! Photo credit: Joël Forget

And that’s it! My honest assessment of maternity leave. All things considered, it really is an amazing stretch of time. I give it a solid eight out of ten, most days. Some days are an eleven.


It’s a Halloween miracle!

We did it! Again! The day before Halloween, we bought a house in Wyevale. It feels like both a trick and a treat : trick because we’ve got some minor renovating to do (argghhhh will it never end?); treat because we quite like the place.

The new place, in all its glory

Our search for this home was fraught with obstacles. The market dried up when our Elmvale house sold. Interest rates rose. We bid on another house and lost. Most of our viewings coincided with Arthur’s poop or bed times.

Arthur and I on Halloween day – right before he pooped.

As the months wore on, desperation forced us to consider all sorts of stupid options : money pits, overpriced split levels, expensive mcmansions, remote cabins, and other oddities.

When this listing appeared last week, it felt like a patch of sun in a cloudy sky. It was a balm to our weary hearts, battered by months of uncertainty and doubt.

The house is nothing fancy – just a little bungalow on a dead end street in a residential neighbourhood – but it has a layout we like, the space we need, a price we can afford, in the area we want. It ticks almost all our boxes. With a little elbow grease, we think it’ll shine like a new penny.

Before we start calling contractors for quotes, this lightweight is going to have a celebratory bowl of roasted pumpkin seeds (plus a glass of wine or two) and enjoy the prospect of a new adventure.

Happy Halloween!

Movin’ on up

It’s true. We’re moving. We put our house on the market in early July and it just sold a to a nice couple — a bittersweet moment.

House with sold sign

Our lovely old home, sold!

Public service announcement

If you have a small child, staging and cleaning a house for viewings is not advisable. You will find vacuuming with a wriggling fifteen-pound baby in your arms exceedingly annoying. You will also seriously resent regularly dismantling and putting away exersaucers, activity mats and jolly jumpers.

Those of you not watching my Facebook feed are no doubt thinking « what the damn hell!? »

It is rather confusing. We quite like Elmvale – particularly the high quality doughnuts. We also love our pretty victorian home. But the arrival of a certain little goober has changed a few things.

A baby on the ground, surrounded by toys and smiling

Arthur is the reason we’re moving

Why we decided to move

  • We want to live closer to family and friends in Lafontaine, Perkinsfield and Midland. Our parents are going to offer part-time daycare when I return to work. Ah-mazing.
  • We’d rather move while I have “free time” (ha) to pack up and manage logistics. Mat leave for the win!
  • We’d also rather move while baby Arthur’s mobility is limited. I do not want to have to renovate/set up a home while chasing a toddler.
  • The kid is going to a French school in North Simcoe County (Elmvale is already in that catchment) so we want to ease his commute.
  • We still want a country house! Or a least a house on a quieter street with a bigger yard.

Which brings me to my next public service announcement. We need help finding a home. Do you know someone with a great house who’s thinking of selling? Are any of your elderly neighbours (with well-maintained homes) on the brink of death? Awesome! Let us know!

What we want — must haves

  • Something in Tiny Township — south of Balm Beach Road so our drive to Barrie remains bearable
  • A quiet street, low on traffic — so Arthur and Odie can roam free
  • A big yard that is either a) private b) fenced or c) ready for fencing
  • At least three bedrooms
  • Good, solid bones — we can update a kitchen or put in new floors but we don’t want to rejig walls, put in new electrical, or replace plumbing

What we want — nice to haves

  • Acreage — one or two would suffice, more would be great
  • Surrounded by trees for privacy
  • A garage
  • Two full bathrooms
  • A finished (or finishable) basement

Is that so much to ask? Probably, in this market — especially with our limited budget. But we’re putting it out to the universe anyway. Wish us luck!

To the kale washers

I hate washing kale. I like eating kale, cooking kale, and even picking kale. But I hate washing it.

When I’m rested and happy, I manage to push past my distaste for the task. I even find the energy to de-stem it, carefully cut it into bite sized pieces and make salad dressing.

When I’m tired and cranky, the kale slowly yellows in the fridge until I guiltily throw it into the compost. As I toss it, I think about the hungry people in this world, the money I just wasted, as well as the resources it took to grow and ship the kale to Elmvale.

Here’s the thing about being a new parent; you’re always tired. Always. Why? Because :

  • Labour itself is a sleepless two-day marathon.
  • Babies don’t come with an instruction manual, so they cry — a lot.
  • They need to be fed every two to three hours, day and night.
  • Newborns are preceded by months of sleep deprivation (imagine snoozing with a bowling ball on your bladder).


Me and the babe. I’m happy but can you see the bags under my eyes?

I love my little dude – so, so, so deeply. With a love intense enough to frighten me sometimes. But all that wakefulness is starting to take its toll on my body.

So the short version of the story is : I haven’t been washing much kale lately.

Luckily my enormous, beautiful, supportive network of friends and family has once again jumped in to save me from a BBQ-chip-based diet. They’ve cooked, cleaned, driven, dog-walked, babysat, grocery-shopped, and gardened for us. Many travelled long distances — through cottage country traffic — to visit.

As I watched my little sister scrub kale in my kitchen sink the other day, I thought about the wealth of love underpinning my whole life. Kale may be an odd topic for an initial postpartum post, but I can’t think of a better way to describe how special our baby’s “village” is

I want each benefactor (a.k.a. kale washer) to know: it mattered. Every kind action was noticed and appreciated. Thank you. xo

Third trimester musings

With five weeks until Lumpy’s due date, I can feel my whole focus shifting. Between my pea-sized bladder, sore hips, and overactive mind, sleep is beginning to elude me.

Here I am today – 35.5 weeks pregnant and feeling quite whale-like

The little energy I have, I direct to working, eating and preparing for Lumpy’s arrival. My relationships, Twitter feed and housework are suffering a bit.

A month ago, I was tweeting regularly, but living on the edge of nesting panic. Our bathroom was in shambles and Lumpy’s room was still filled with construction debris. But with a giant boost from family and a week off work, we managed to :

  • Finish the bathroom
  • Finish the nursery
  • Pack for the hospital
  • Take a hospital tour and drop off our forms
  • Meet with our lovely doula and doctor
  • Attend an ultrasound
  • Install the carseat
  • Finish our birth plan
  • And more!

Bathroom, before and after

Lumpy’s room, before and after

Since that busy week, our dear friends Mireille and Patrick hosted a beautiful shower so that we could celebrate Lumpy with our Toronto crew. The gifts from that event, combined with those from the lovely local shower my aunts JoAnne (a.k.a. the paint fairy) and Denise hosted in January, mean we have more than we will ever need to care for this little gaffer. He is already so very loved.

JF and the awesome motorcycle Daryl and Kyrsta made us out of baby supplies

We’re not totally ready. I still haven’t bought nursing bras, prepped healthy frozen food, sterilized bottles and breast pumps, or given our house a good scrub down. But the bottom line is, if Lumpy were to pop out of my uterus tomorrow, we’d be alright.

More than alright, really. Because we have the best support network in the whole land. Everyone (parents, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbours) has offered to pitch in and help us when caring for a needy newborn turns us into zombies – or in my case, a pair of zombie boobs.

My favourite corner of the nursery, because it’s filled with gifts from our friends and family – everything from the crib, to the books, to the stuffed animals

Plus I know I have a stellar partner to get me through. JF continues to be amazingly thoughtful and patient through the wild hormone adventure that is pregnancy. I’m grateful for him every day and can’t wait to see him get his dad on.

This man is going to be a great parent – and Odie is going to be a stellar brother!

Given my recent tiredness and upcoming labour, this may be the last post for awhile. Wish us luck! I’ll update you all as often as I can. xo