Lumpdate : Week 22

Pregnant woman standing bike with sunset in background

The belly in San Diego – Joël and I went to visit Violet last week

I’m barfing a lot less

It’s almost Christmas – my favourite time of year – and I’m feeling more hopeful, more pregnant and (finally) less barfy. I’m down from two hurling sessions a day to your basic weekly morning vomit. Winning!

Lumpy is growing

At 22 weeks in the womb, Lumpy is about the size of a coconut and growing well (code for: none of my pants fit). We found out he’s a little boy. Judging by his movements in my belly, he is also a future jiu jitsu master.

JF is rocking the dad-to-be thing

JF continues to be marvellously supportive and lovely. I still find mornings hard, so he walks Odie, clears the driveway, and brushes off my car while I barely scrape together the energy to eat a bagel and make him coffee. He only grumbles a tiny bit on very cold mornings.

We can’t pick a name

We want a perfectly bilingual name (français/anglais) we both love. Our faith in that name’s existence wanes with every passing week. Partly because cousins and friends already named their baby boys all the cool names – curse you all! Just kidding, we love you. Mostly.

We’re feeling more ready

Between us, we’ve read 10 baby books, downloaded 10 baby apps and joined a dozen online groups. I’m in prenatal yoga. We see our doctor regularly. We’ve sketched out a birth plan. We’re doing two prep courses this winter, plus a tour of the birthing unit at RVH.

Stack of baby books on a bed

Some of the books on our nightstands right now

Except the nursery

There’s a toilet in the middle of Lumpy’s room. Also some tools, wood debris, and cement board – the bits and pieces that come with a bathroom reno. We’re making slow and steady progress, thanks to a kind local contractor. But our house is 113 years old, so the finish line is still several weeks away and I’m not picking out paint colours just yet.

Friends, family and colleagues have been awesome

We’re feeling very supported lately. Amazing people are organizing two baby showers. My superwoman boss has been extra flexible with my prenatal appointments. Mom friends are offering used gear and freaking hilarious advice (shout out to Eliana). Even Odie – he’s family too! – has been extra snuggly lately.

A man holding a giant black dog

JF, practising his baby holding with Odie

Christmas is almost here!

And then there’s Christmas! We’ve got a happy little tree, some cedar boughs on the porch, and a whole weekend of cookie baking with family ahead of us. This season always make me happy, but we’re both pretty excited about Noël 2017 – with the Lumpster.

christmas tree, decorated

Our tree this year – fa la la la la!

The great bathroom caper

Thanks to a much-needed influx of funds from the wedding (thanks guys!) we are finally able to renovate our upstairs bathroom.

That little patch of linoleum hell has been on our list for three long years. Only two of the lightbulbs in the main fixture worked. The tub had a ring of rust, calcium and mysterious red mould even hours of CLR couldn’t beat. The artfully swirled ceiling has an enormous crack running through it. I could go on.

I’m delighted to report that we’ve almost finished the demo. Just like the rest of the house the previous owners left the bones in good shape – an excellent base to build dreams on.

Next step? Putting in a wooden frame for a bigger, better drop-in tub. Sometimes I fall asleep with visions of hexagonal tiles, brass fixtures, beadboard, and antique wall sconces dancing in my head. Far better than sugarplums, if you ask me.

 

A merry little Christmas

As a Christmasaholic, I just can’t let this festive season go by without writing about it. I’ve been doing all sorts of merry and bright things these past few weeks.

Baking with the Rebelos

Every year for two decades, maman and aunt Fina devoted a weekend to making sweet treats – enrolling us all as sous-chefs. They’ve retired their aprons, but the tradition continues, led by my sister Alicia. My hands ached after a day of icing cardmom cookies, but I wouldn’t have traded time with my cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles and vavo for all the dollars in all the world.

Concert de noël 

I skipped chorale this season to keep up with wedding planning and volunteer commitments, but I couldn’t miss their show! It was held in my childhood church – a grand old thing, for a small village. My favourite moment was when everyone (audience included) sang Minuit Chrétien. I may or may not have shed a tear or two. This is the choir singing that song a few years ago.

Decorating our tree

Last year, our trip to Europe meant toning down the holiday cheer at our house. But this year, I went all out with local greenery : tree, garlands, poinsettias, boughs and branches. For years, my parents have been giving me an ornament every Christmas, so unpacking them is like dusting off years of stories.

Pulling out the record player

Records combine two of my favourite things: nostalgia and music. So I should have known it was love when, in our first month of dating, JF gave me a record player he’d refurbished himself. But it was only last month, when our friends Jacqueline and Fox gave us a vintage amplifier, that we were able to set it up. It’s been a joy, except JF is obsessed with this Cabbage Patch Christmas record from his youth.

First Light

Working as at Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons and Discovery Harbour in the summer was such fun. I loved bumping into some of my old colleagues and admiring the historic site by candle light. If you haven’t been to First Light, you really should.

Visiting with friends

A few annual festive shindigs make my heart glow. One is “Christmas around the world” dinner with Danielle, Joël and Naomi. The other involves our gang of dear Toronto friends, board games and shenanigans.

Craft sales

My belief is the smaller the town, the better the crafts. This year mom, Gen, Alicia, Donna and I went to the Victorian Craft Sale for the Midland OSPCA. It featured all sorts of kitschy and awesome stuff, plus free tea and cookies. I also checked out the Elmvale Christmas Craft Sale (organized by my neighbours) where I picked up the cutest little knit things.

Holiday movies

I think my very favourite Christmas movie (possibly favourite movie of all time) is The Apartment. But I dearly love Miracle on 34th Street (original, of course), Holiday Inn, Meet me in St. Louis, and The Bishop’s Wife. I also have a soft spot for Home Alone, The Santa Clause, Die Hard, A Christmas Story, Rare Exports and perhaps most shamefully, A Muppet’s Christmas Carol.

This weekend, the family parties begins. We’re spending time at mom’s on Friday, and with Lefaives on Saturday. Next week includes a jam-packed agenda filled with carols, cookies, stockings and enormous meals. Now all we need is snow!

Snow falling on Elmvale

It’s snowing outside and some flakes might just stick. It looks like a giant used an enormous sifter to sprinkle icing sugar all over Elmvale.

I’m sitting on the couch with Odie. JF is re-stringing his guitar. I’ve lit a few candles, cranked up Lady in Satin, and put on some slippers. We’re admiring the fluffy white puffs as they plummet from the night sky.

Odie's head and my slippers

Odie’s head and my slippers

For the first time in months, we’re enjoying a weekend with no plans in it. So far we’ve made a surprisingly cathartic trip to the Midland dump, watched the first three (decidedly unredeemable) episodes of Star Wars, and puttered around the house.

On quiet days like these, I’m so very grateful for everything I have: a caring partner, a giant smelly dog, a loving family, a rickety (but safe and warm) home, amazing friends, a good job, Tobias, and easy access to delicious doughnuts.

Not to mention the hundreds of knick knacks that bring me comfort and joy. I’ve just put up a few well-worn Christmas treasures. And I ’m so excited to hang our Christmas lights tomorrow!

I hope you’re just as nestled and cozy (and lucky) as I am, wherever you’re reading this.

xo

Garden progress

My mother’s garden is beautiful – a layered work of art. My mémère’s garden had a spectacular assortment of roses and lilacs, perfectly pruned. My avo’s garden is full of robust vegetables, and blooms that smell like her islands. They all putter in big hats.

Yet, their skill continues to elude me – like their cooking genes. I’ve got a black thumb and it sucks. BUT, like Charlie Brown with his football, I keep trying anyway. And lately, I’ve actually made some progress.

  1. I put a lot of tasty plants in pots. They help me with mojitos, pizza and salad.
Herby pots

Herby pots. Mmmmmm.

2. With help from Helena, Fina, Andy and Owen, I added a new garden bed. Don’t ask me to identify plants.

Plants donated by my mother and my aunt, plus the lilac bush JF bought me to honour mémère

Plants donated by my family, plus the lilac bush JF bought me to honour mémère

3. I expanded my herb garden. Problem is, I already had all the “normal” herbs. So if you ever need sweet woodruff or russian sage give me a call.

Herb garden

Plus some ferns and a bush from Heather and Jerry that I can’t seem to identify. Anyone know what it is?

4. We have beautiful old trees and little sunlight. That means a lot of hostas.

I've added some trumpet vines and bee balm to this garden bed

I’ve added some trumpet vines and bee balm to the hostas

5. I added forsythia and creeping jenny to this garden bed. David is looking solemn and beautiful as ever.

David, peeking through the lilies and hostas.

David, peeking through the lilies and hostas

6. I created a shade garden last year. No flower will ever bloom in this dark corner, but it’s starting to look green and happy.

Hostas, hostas all around

Hostas, hostas all around

7. This is my hopeless cause. The hostas, ferns and hydrangeas are filling in nicely. So is this creeping evil plant that is temporarily pretty but then just swallows up everything else.

So, so, so full of weeds, punctuated by hostas

So, so, so full of weeds, punctuated by hostas

There are tons of other problem spots (a weedy stone path, those damn dandelions, illogical decks) but I feel like I’ve made some progress. I’m celebrating the small wins.

It’s not my mom’s garden, but it’s something.

‘Tis autumn

Fall is my favourite season by about sixty miles. I can see why summer-lovers adore our sunnier months, but to me they just can’t compete with rainbow-coloured forests, Blundstone-friendly temperatures, and hot apple cider.

This is my favourite sweater in the universe. It makes me look like a big burnt marshmallow, but it's delightfully warm and cozy.

This is my favourite sweater in the universe. It makes me look like a big burnt marshmallow, but it’s delightfully warm and cozy.

That weird and instantly recognizable autumn smell — like burning cedar or decaying leaves — was in the air this morning. This afternoon, I walked through a store filled with bright, plastic-wrapped binders and colourful crayons. I just pulled my favourite sweaters out of storage. Those things shouldn’t make me happy, but they just do.

I’ve been thinking about why and I suspect it’s because when I was little, September was the only month I got new shoes. Maman, Alicia and I would go to Naturestep at the Midland Mall and try every pair that might fit our feet. It was wonderful. Should I mentally accord so much importance to something so material? Probably not. But I honoured that tradition today anway and picked up some woolly flats.

New woolly grey shoes.

New woolly grey shoes.

As I sit at the edge of this season of renewal (on my couch, of course), I’m pondering where JF and I have been and where we’re going. Two things make this fall different from falls past.

One: we’re good and settled. I’ll take part in October’s Elmvale Fall Fair all weekend long, like a true local. I’m looking forward to buying mums from Ritchies. I even painted my front door a pretty blue that should go beautifully with pumpkins from Rounds Ranch.

Pretty blue door, complete with owly door knocker.

Pretty blue door, complete with owly door knocker.

Two: I’m gleefully employed in education. Last Tuesday, Georgian’s halls were filled with lost 18-year-olds in their best togs. There’s a happy sort of buzz on campus that reminds me of that time Anne said to Marilla “isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

Autumn means small, every day excitements — my favourite kind. I’ve no doubt I’ll be cursing this season when I’m dragging a rake over my dying lawn. But for now, I’ll just flip through the scarf-filled catalogs they keep stuffing in my mailbox and enjoy it.

 

The Paint Fairy returns

I hate to say it, but I think I might be a (rather unhappy but) slightly better person when JF is away. I watch less television, sleep more, eat better, and get more done.

While he was in the Yukon, I:

  • put up some floating shelves
  • hired a new handy man
  • cleaned the house top to bottom
  • practiced my piano scales
  • exercised
  • re-organized my filing system
  • volunteered a lot
  • re-mulched the front garden

He’s only been back for four hours and I can already feel my brain descending into happy slothfulness.

In any case, my greatest accomplishment – while JF was slurping on Bonanza Browns by the Klondike – was painting the attic.

JF's man attic - desperately needs a coat of paint

JF’s man attic, pre-paint. And covered in spackle because it was once a studio.

Months ago, my aunt JoAnne (a.k.a. the Paint Fairy) offered to come by and help me finish the sucker. The rest of our home was painted last fall, but somehow the pocked-marked upstairs nook was intimidating. So many unusual angles and corners.

The Paint Fairy’s kind proposal — and my aunt Denise’s paint donation — finally gave me the kicks in the arse I needed.

The job took two coats and a whole day to complete. I couldn’t have asked for better company. We painted, paused for toasted tomato sandwiches, painted more, puttered in my garden, painted again, and then celebrated our success with wine and roasted potatoes.

Here’s the room in stages:

Merci, mes tantes pour vos beaux cadeaux. Our house feels more finished for them.

Busy nothings

Life in sleepy Elmvale is ticking along quietly. The garden is now only 80% weeds. Slowly, slowly we are making progress on house projects. Barbecued broccoli is my new favourite food. And there are orange popsicles in the freezer.

IMG_3895

The beautiful thing about summertime is that there isn’t anything big and exciting to report. Instead, life is a series of non-events. Here are some recent ones:

Toby turned 100,000 kilometres

Can you believe my little Honda Fit, Tobias, has aged 40,000kms since I got him? I hardly know where the time and distance have gone. JF gifted him to me about this time last year, and my life has been infinitely more mobile since.

Tobias' widgets the other day.

Tobias’ widgets the other day.

I exercised a few times

Confession: my January health revolution never happened. Instead, I gained a remarkable 10 pounds over the winter. So, I’ve given up on self-guided fitness regimes, joined shame-inducing Zumba classes at No Borders Fitness, and started briskly walking with colleagues at lunch. I also do weekly lifts, squats and planks at Swift Fitness, the most sophisticated garage gym I’ve ever seen. And I hate burpees.

My choir put on a show

Le Choeur de la Clé, the francophone community choir I belong to, put on a love-themed concert late May. It was great fun. I even performed in a trio with my lovely cousin Nicole and dear old friend Joël.

My view, every Tuesday night during choir practice

My view, every Tuesday night during choir practice

JF and I went garage sale-ing

As you all know, there is nothing I love more than old or dead people’s cheap stuff — except maybe barbecued broccoli. Toronto garage sales are expensive and infrequent. Their Elmvale counterparts are far more fun and plentiful. Plus they often come with ¢25 cookies baked by little old ladies. My favourite find was the scarred wooden duck/target I purchased for a steep $2. I called him Ferdinand, and he lives on my front porch.

In the words of Fanny Price (movie edition), “Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.”

 

House update

I’m taking a quick break from Georgian’s Got Talent Benefit Concert shenanigans (show is tomorrow and Friday and tickets can be purchased here!) to update you all on the state of my house.

After stripping acres of wallpaper last summer and painting walls last fall, we took an extended home maintenance break.

Snowy road

This was my drive to work late last week

Probably too long a break, actually. I blame the horrid winter we’re (still!) enduring.

We hired a nice handyman named Scott to clean out our eaves troughs just after Halloween. They froze before he could get to them, so he said he’d come by at the first thaw. Well, the thaw never came.

I just did the math and that’s almost five months – or about 40% of the whole damn year – under ice.

We didn’t spend those five months hammering away as planned, but we did pick up fun new skills like pipe thawing, flood fighting, car boosting, and ice chipping – all vital when powering through cold, cold February in a Victorian home.

In any case, we’re getting back into the swing of things — our energy levels rising as the days grow longer. JF is nailing in our new powder room ceiling as I type.

First priority when things thaw? Stripping the addition’s siding so we can insulate the mudroom. There goes the hardwood floor budget, but at least we’ll avoid more long winter nights holding hairdryers to our pipes.

Here are some photos of our space as it looked last weekend. There are about a zillion things that don’t look right or need to be fixed, but it’s feeling like home.

Heather and Jerry left us this lovely sign for our front porch

Heather and Jerry left us this lovely sign for our front porch

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The Paint Fairy

Anyone who has ever read A Little Princess remembers the happy moment when the kind neighbour starts turning Sara Crewe’s cold attic into a cozy haven. She gets back after a day’s hard labour to find warm slippers, a comfy chair, and a hot dinner.

Well, JF and I have our own special benefactor: my amazing (generous, funny, smart) aunt JoAnne, a.k.a. the Paint Fairy.

The Paint Fairy comes into our house while we’re at work and makes magical things happen. First, she made our ugly purple stairs a more dignified black.

Left: purple city. Right: dignified black

Left: purple city. Right: dignified black

Then, she swapped our grimy yellow doors for neutral white ones.

Left: Yellow doors, white walls. Right: white doors, white walls.

Left: Yellow doors, white walls. Right: white doors, white walls.

She never drips, does as many coats as it takes, cleans everything up, and leaves nice notes on the kitchen table.

She also (I suspect) does far more than she lets on. Something tells me all the trim in the hallway is looking fresher than before, and I’m pretty sure those exposed pipes were a dirty brown.

The Paint Fairy’s gifts – time and energy – are infinitely better than money under my pillow or presents under my tree, because they make my too looooong to do list that much shorter. And they instantly put me in a good mood when I get home.

Because she won’t let me thank her with money or presents (she’s granted me dinner at our place… pretty sure she’s never sampled my cooking) I want to thank her here.

Merci, ma tante, pour ton merveilleux cadeau. Je t’aime.

If there were more paint fairies out there, the world would be a happier place.