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).
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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

32 gifts

Early winter kicks me in the shins every year. I can’t help feeling glum as the merriness of Christmas fades and I look ahead to three cold, hard, vacationless months. Plus, I’m pretty sad and anxious for the world right now.

I temporarily banished the doldrums this morning, with what’s become a January tradition: listing some of the highlights of the year gone by — one bullet for every year of my life.

In 2016 I…

A view from the side of the road in Slovenia

A view from the side of the road in Slovenia

  • Performed in a band
  • Skated the ice trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park
  • Celebrated my amazing grandfather, Dinis Rebelo
  • Had pancakes at the Wye Marsh Sweetwater Harvest Festival
  • Replaced the ugly mudroom ceiling with handsome beadboard
  • Hugged Odie on his one-year anniversary with us
  • Had my first Thai massage
  • Travelled to the top of 30 Rock to watch the sunset
  • Checked out a California beach
Violet, Joël and Avery at Ocean Beach in San Diego, CA

Violet, Joël and Avery at Ocean Beach in San Diego, CA

  • Learned to throw an axe
  • Got awesome false eyelashes
  • Bought my first king-sized bed
  • Came second in the five family nerd tournament
  • Joined Weight Watchers and lost 15 pounds
  • Attended my 10th Festival du Loup
  • Hosted an epic garage sale on my birthday
  • Started the world’s longest bathroom renovation
  • Went to the ballet
  • Spent time with my avo
Hanging with avo usually looks like this - except add food

Hanging with avo usually looks like this – except add food

  • Attended my first night time santa claus parade
  • Danced with mom, Yève and Elise on international women’s day
  • Got to level 23 in Pokémon Go
  • Powered through a few injuries and illnesses (concussion, poison ivy, an epic battle with a nettle tree)
  • Partied with the Lefaives at JoAnne and Dan’s 40th anniversary party
  • Bought a new mommy mobile – Linda the Forester
  • Greeted many friends’ adorable new babies
  • Drank margaritas the size of my head in Mexico
Some of the gang that travelled to Mexico with us. So cool!

Some of the gang that travelled to Mexico with us. So cool!

  • Started focusing on our little family — quitting several volunteer roles
  • Helped good friends move into their first home

Somehow I forgot to post my list from 2015, but here are those from 2014 and 2013.

As usual, counting my blessings makes me feel a heck of a lot better. 2016 may have been a shit year for the human race, but it was a great one for me. Thanks to everyone who played a part.

xo

Ring the bells that still can ring

Sometimes, I think that having a child is the ultimate selfish act. Lumpy (the squirmy artichoke-sized human in my belly) didn’t ask to be conceived. I wanted to create him or her.

In my darker moments, I worry that I am casting Lumpy into an angry, dying world. Governments are moving too slowly to rescue the earth from climate change. People seem selfish – consuming more than ever before. Fake online communities are replacing real ones. The news is filled with hate, fuelled by inequality.

My mother tried to make me a good citizen of the planet. I imagine myself teaching Lumpy to volunteer, make sustainable choices, be kind to all humans, and fight for positive change.

I cling to the hope that the next few generations will be better stewards of the earth – that they will bridge false barriers like religion, nationality, gender and race to move forward together. Maybe Lumpy will be the one to end humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels. Who knows?

I always try to choose optimism, but it can be an uphill battle.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Leonard Cohen lately, because I think he really saw people and relationships as they are – imperfect, but somehow beautiful. For my sanity, and for Lumpy’s wellbeing, I will try to focus on that beauty.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

And then there were four: Barfy, Worry, Smelly and Lumpy

Our little family of three is about to grow. We’re pregnant! In fact, today is the 100th day of our pregnancy – our pregniversary.

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Meet Lumpy. I think he or she looks like a misshapen peanut.

Here are our pregnancy adventure nicknames:

  • Barfy: I throw up at least once a day. It sucks.
  • Worry: JF is already in full research mode. His latest obsession is evidence-based parenting.
  • Smelly: I have been super sensitive to Odie’s stink lately – especially when he’s wet.
  • Lumpy: Our nickname for the little goober.

Together, we’re the four gestational dwarves. We’re a team! Slowly chugging toward our April delivery date.

Three of the four gestational dwarves. Missing from the image: Lumpy.

Three of the four gestational dwarves. Missing from the image: Lumpy.

And I mean slowly. The last three months haven’t exactly been a magical journey. In addition to the regular vomiting, I’m exhausted, sore, bloated and gassy – plus a few more things no one wants to hear about. Let’s just say I am not glowing.

My daily vitamins. I have to carefully time them to avoid puking.

My daily vitamins. I have to carefully time them to avoid puking.

But somehow, between naps and visits to the toilet, I’m still excited. I keep a journal. I have colours picked out for the nursery. And I can’t wait for itty bitty socks and baby smell.

Under his mountain of daddy books and stroller spreadsheets, I know JF is excited too. In fact, he’s been a total rock star. He now shoulders all the Odie walking and groceries, plus the occasional meal prep. Today, he even cleaned my car. His grumble-free dedication to Lumpy and I makes me love him even more. I am so lucky.

Me on a rare dog walk. JF has been doing all the Odie-minding lately.

Me on a rare dog walk. JF has been doing all the Odie-minding lately.

As we begin our second trimester, there’s a lot to do and a lot to worry about. But there’s also so much to be grateful for. I like to think all four gestational dwarves are looking ahead to a (hopefully retch-free) future – a new, exhilarating and mildly terrifying chapter in our lives.

p.s. Ignore the sad last verse of this song!

Wedded bliss

Well, we did it! Almost 11 years after our first date, we got married.

Weatherpeople predicted hail, thunderstorms and even tornados for our wedding day, but in the end, it was just a bit cool and windy.

More than 200 people came to watch us say our vows. They all toasted to our long and happy lives together. We’d like to thank each and every one of them for being there. Jf and I both felt very supported and fortunate.

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No event is without its glitches (our tent filled with angry smoke when someone tried to light a bonfire despite the wind) but mostly, we had a grand old time.

So many friends and family members worked hard to make our day great – far too many for this post. We owe about a trillion favours. But my uncle Andy deserves a special thank you. He delivered the most spectacular home fireworks show I have ever seen in my life. It was better than Canada Day in Midland, truly.

We spent Sunday cleaning and quietly recovering from the party with family. On Monday afternoon, we were leisurely packing when we realized that our flight left at 5 :30 p.m. not 11 :30 p.m.

Despite a few heart palpitations, we managed to cram some things into random suitcases and speed to the airport, leaving a sad Odie, and hasty instructions for his care, behind us. We (barely) made it onto our flight.

I thought I’d hate Venice (a.k.a. Americans-in-Italy-land) but I quite liked it. It was charming and beautiful. JF and I have decided Slovenia is the perfect country. People are kind, groceries are cheap, tourists are scarce, and the scenery is gorgeous wherever you look. We spent a few days in Croatia, mainly tanning on the coast, before heading home.

Now, we’re settling back into reality again. Everyone asks me « how does it feel? » to which I answer « exactly the same as before.» Because after a decade there is no mystery, just well-worn, comfortable, wonderful love.

Watching my weight

The wedding dress is just an excuse. I’ve wanted to shed the Elmvale 15 (a.k.a. the pounds I gained when we moved here) for almost three years.

I’m a strong woman. I try my very best to think and speak positively about the way I look, even on the days when I put my pants on backward and feel like regurgitated peanut butter. I don’t aspire to perfection. I just want to feel good and healthy again.

I’m happy to report that as of yesterday, I reached my preliminary goal. I’m back to the slightly less depressing 175 lbs I was when I lived in Toronto and walked all the time. My pants fit better. My blouse buttons are no longer popping off.

My stretch goal — 160 lbs — feels far away. But for the first time in years, I’m headed in the right direction: down instead of up.

You see, I joined Weight Watchers in March. We have a love-hate relationship, WW and I. I love seeing results. I hate not being able to eat brownies. It loves when I stick to my daily point allowance. It hates when I deviate for major holidays, special occasions, or particularly delicious-looking rice krispie squares.

How could anyone NOT eat this adorable Easter cake made by my aunt Fina?

How could anyone NOT eat this adorable Easter cake made by my aunt Fina?

In any case, we’re making slow and steady progress, despite the occasional regression into fat, sugar and carbs.

What I like most about Weight Watchers is that they, ahem, watch you. You literally attend meetings every week. And those meetings literally start with a weigh-in.

I cringe every time I step onto that scale. That moment — that exact second when I see the numbers climb higher and higher — is why I try to stick to the program. Who knows how long I’ll stay motivated; perhaps as long as I’m seeing results. But so far, so good.