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.
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.
JF and our rented car in the Soca Valley.
One of many beers in the Slovenian alps
The bustling grand canal in Venice
Streets of Motovun, in Croatia
A Slovenian church at the tip top of a mountain
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.
So much has happened these past few months, I hardly know where to begin. Serves me right for waiting so long to post! Here’s a poor attempt at a recap.
Sunny Mexico: After Christmas, we stayed in a small town called Puerto Morelos, just south of Cancun. The company, food and locale were increíble!
I like this man feeding the seagulls on the beach
This is the old town lighthouse, nearly toppled by a hurrican
A little church in Puerto Morelos
Three kings: We toasted the magi with our friend Pascal, who I am convinced only recognizes this holiday because of this gorgeous French cake.
La galette des rois. Probably the most delicious and pretty thing I’ve ever eaten.
Neil visite: My papa was in Canada for a week or so, which meant a visit with plenty of conversation and tea.
Neil and tea
Showered with love: I couldn’t say no to my persuasive aunt JoAnne when she offered to throw me a bridal shower. In the end, all I felt that day was love and gratitude for the amazing women in my family.
Skating trail: Mireille, Patrick, JF and I went to Arrowhead Provincial Park to try the skating trail. Plus, we ran into an old high school friend.
Mireille and Patrick on the skating trail
JF and our high school friend, Dave
Recycled valentines: Some colleagues and I exchanged valentines of a different kind – second hand items from our homes and wardrobes. I scored lace, records, art and lots of other good loot.
Smoked salmon-flavoured barf: After a fun meal out with friends, I spent over 24 hours vomiting. I will never eat smoked salmon again.
Familying: We spent the February long weekend with JF’s family in Ottawa, which was its usual really really ridiculously cold self. Luckily our hosts were warm and generous.
A walk through a park in Ottawa
Francophone women unite! Local French-speakers gathered for a great concert (check out Cherry Chérie) and meal for International Women’s Day. I was accompanied by some female powerhouses : my maman, sister and mother-in-law.
Gen and I at the gala
A smack in the head: Two weeks ago, I slipped on some ice and fell on my head – quite hard, as it turns out. The doctor told me to take several days off work without TV, books, phones or computers. It was terribly dull.
I made the best of my sick days and snuggled with Odie
Rebelo invasion: I hosted my sisters and cousins for a weekend of games and food. It was kind of like that scene from Home Alone where everyone is rushing around to get to the airport. JF looked like this the whole time.
Odie loves my cousin Owen
Rebelos doing what they do best – eating and playing games
Hogtown: I visited Toronto twice. There were baby showers, meals out, meals in, and walks downtown. Thanks for the company, friends! Xo
Jasel, Yishey, Rigden and I trying the selfie stick I got for Christmas ❤
Whispering bells: We keep chipping away at wedding planning. So far my favourite element is the sparkly white knit bow tie my avo made for Odie.
Odie’s bow tie
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There was also volunteer work, a friend’s adorable new baby, dog ear infections, breakfast with my grade school bestie, JF’s 30th birthday, Weight Watchers, house renos, and more.
With so many commitments and our wedding less than three months away, 2016 is shaping up to be “pleine a craquer” — full to the point of cracking. But so far, the adventures have been enriching, varied and plentiful.
As I thank baby Jesus for the end of snow and ice, I can only look ahead —to sunshine, tulips and forsythia.
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.
Gen, cutting biscotti
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.
Odie and my staircase
Poinsettia with some of the mice made by my mémère
The tree, decked out
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.
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.
My goddaughter Naomi, looking perfectly Christmas-sy
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.
Danielle, Joël and Naomi
The gang did a cookie exchange. Check out these textbook gingerbread!
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.
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!
I’m feeling philosophical this rainy evening. My giant, smelly dog is snuggled next to me on the couch. I’m drinking black tea with milk (a habit I picked up from dad) and pondering a pretty big concept: happiness.
I think I have a wellbeing spectrum. I can be mopey one week, incandescently happy the next. Some things (JF, Odie, family, friends) boost me up the scale, others (bills, illness, work stress) shove me down.
I’m fortunate to have spent more time in joy than in sadness. I think it’s because my mom trained me to find pleasure in little things like watching old movies, picking blackberries, and reading good books.
I work at seeing and recognizing those happiness-boosters every day, because they tip the balance in joy’s favour. And sometimes it is work – important work that prevents the bad stuff from swallowing me up. Joy can be brittle.
Today, I don’t have to work at anything. I’m feeling glad and grateful for so many reasons. Here are my top 10:
New stained glass window: For two years, we’ve lived with a broken windowpane over our front door. Now, thanks to local artist Renee Havers, our hallway is lit by a beautiful, coloured work of art.
New window! (cameo: Odie)
I really should have removed the lantern (left) but you get teh idea
Visits with good friends: I have a lot of kind, funny and smart people in my life. Lately, I’ve spent time with many of them over food or tea.
Mireille and I (intently) watched the Jays’ game and coloured. It was pretty great.
Fall walks with Odie: I adore fall. And the colours this autumn have been spectacular, so I’ve been sporting my blundstones and sweaters on local trails, with my giant pup.
This is the route we take most mornings. It’s been really beautiful lately
Magic Mike and Mary: Turns out we needed a handywoman, not a handyman! Mary has already connected the two back decks. And Mike, a family friend, came by to install a back porch light. Thank you both.
Tada! Bigger and better back deck! (ignore the leaves, we need to rake)
My wedding dress is in: I’m trying so hard to be practical about this whole wedding business, but I was pretty excited to pick up my dress – a generous gift from my mom.
Lists of love: Some of my most prized possessions are handwritten lists of reasons I’m loved. I keep them in my wallet for those days when I’m feeling glum. Two friends recently created new lists that were truly soul-nurturing.
Toot toot! Thanks Lainers.
New bras: Wearing these, I feel like a new woman. If you haven’t gone for a fitting, I highly recommend Secrets from Your Sister. They cost a pretty penny, but bras that fit are like shoes that fit – they just makes sense.
Time with avo: My grandma makes me laugh and offers me valuable pieces of wisdom. I’ve really enjoyed seeing lots of her lately. She also made me these awesome, elven slippers. Thanks, avo!
Slippers knit by my grandma = awesome
Thanksgiving: A holiday for food and family – two of my favourite things. This past long weekend, I saw many beloved cousins and my old roomie Steph. I also checked out the Elmvale Fall Fair and ate until I had to undo my pants.
My favourite part of the fall fair is the weird vegetable competition
I also love the cow judging
Here are my awesome Rebelo cousins (and Gen)
Beautiful light and colours on our Thanksgiving fall walk
A clean home: We spent a full day giving the house a good clean, and it felt great. For those hard-to-reach nooks, we found a local cleaning lady who charges $25 an hour (cue Enya).
But as lucky as I’ve been lately, I’ll never take joy for granted. Because sometimes life can be tough as pushups after months of slothfulness, or as harsh as hail in May.
It looks like my blog has settled into a new pace – monthly posts. I hope you all don’t mind!
Here’s some recent news from my little life.
We’re eating well, mostly
JF and I decided to eat better and cut out wheat, dairy and sugar for three weeks. The goal? Reset our habits. So long tostitos dinners, hello buddha bowls! Minus a few slip ups (ahem, sweet potato fries) we’re doing quite well. My energy levels are up and I’m feeling less bloated. My doughnut cravings subside a bit every day.
Kale salad – yum!
We signed up for an organic produce delivery service
In Toronto, I always wanted sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program but couldn’t seem to find the right one. I thought Elmvale was a CSA-free zone until my friend Doug sent me this link. Organics Live is reasonably priced, all organic and mostly local. And they deliver to my house every Thursday. It’s only been two weeks but I’m in love.
…filled with healthy treasure!
We’re advocating for a dog park in Elmvale
We want a dog park in Elmvale for the Odester. He loves playing with friends at parks in Wasaga and Midland. Imagine how often we could take him if it was down the street? If you agree, email our awesome councillor Katy Austin to let her know. She’s at email@example.com.
Odie at his cutest. Doesn’t this guy deserve a dog park?
A flyer a neighbour made to promote the cause – feel free to share it!
Wedding planning is progressing
We decided to have our shindig at JF’s parents’ house (merci, Elise et Roger!) for so many reasons. It’s beautiful, it’s free, and it’s close to home. I’ve also picked out my dress, selected flowers, sent out a bunch of save the dates (thanks Eunah!) and made a few decorations with family members. So far, it’s all still fun. Ask me how I feel in a few months.
This is a bad photo of Owen and I, but it kind of shows our photo booth fabric wall
We’re looking for a handyman
After months of grappling with house renovations (mostly JF re-sealed windows while I puttered in the garden) we’ve realized we need some help. So if you know someone who does drywalling, painting and minor electrical, please send them our way!
First target – the dropped ceiling in the mudroom
A local artist is making a stained-glass window for our hallway
The pane of glass above our door has been cracked since we bought the house. We’ve just comissioned a serious upgrade. Local artist Renée Havers is making a piece that should look a little like the inspiration image below. In the meantime, we’re making do with plywood. Sad face.
There are probably other things to share, but my brain’s settling into post-dinner Star Trek zombieness. Suffice to say, we are well.
I’ve struggled to write lately, because there’s at once so much and so little to say. Life – full of to dos, visits and meetings – is blasting by at warp nine. Yet, it all feels rather pleasantly humdrum.
But instead of letting you believe I’ve been eaten by Odie, my blog left to wither tragically, I thought I may as well share some updates from Elmvale.
1. The Lefaive girls are back in business
Gen has returned from the distant land of Guelph to eat mom’s food and work at ye olde Disco Harbour. It’s been great to see her more regularly.
2. Odie is a sweet terror
He playfully flattens all children. JF says his wagging tail feels like a bludger to the crotch. He also accidentally crushes your toes when accosting you for affection. On the upside, he now knows how to sit AND walk on a leash (little victories!).
3. Wedding plans are progressing
We have a location, a tent, a caterer, flowers, a dress and an officiant. Plus a lovely friend has offered to make 100 invitations by hand. Please make note of their loveliness when you get yours.
4. We’re regularly visiting the sands of our youth
We splurged and bought a Tiny Township beach pass for Tobias. I’m pissed at the cottagers who erect barriers (physical and metaphysical) to keep locals out – my family has been using these beaches a century longer than yours! – but glad this option for pseudo access still exists. Here’s to the smell of coppertone.
5. I joined another board
Yes I know, I was just whining about how busy I am. But I couldn’t say no. It’s with La Clé – an organization that’s vital to the health and well-being of the local francophone community. I’m delighted to represent both my hometown and my age bracket.
6. My garden has expanded
Helena and Owen devoted a whole day to helping me create a new garden bed in the yard. It’s looking a little sparse, but (finally!) intentional.
7. My choir did another concert
Minus a few terrifying bars, it was quite good. We were mostly on key and everything. And I always feel good after singing with friends.
8. The 2015 Humber High reunion took place
The gals from PR school do an annual general meeting. It always includes food and shenanigans. This time, we had a big breakfast then went to Body Blitz, sat around in warm water all day, and talked. It rocked.
No one likes a bathing suit photo poster, so here’s last year’s AGM
9. I painted a wolf
Or rather, a wolf cutout, at Quest Art. Several acrylic-splattered howlers, including mine, will be available at le Festival du Loup through a silent auction benefiting both the gallery and local francophone musicians. Win win!
10. We bought a Roomba
This shouldn’t be news, but this little round robot is so beautiful to me. He whirls around, bumping into furniture, happily beeping and sucking up dirt. We’ve named him Rambo and I dedicate this song to him.
I think that’s kind of it, folks! I figure since I’m getting as granular as dirt on my floor, it’s probably time to stop. The road goes ever ever on (how many nerd references can I fit into one blog post?).
A few days ago, Kristin challenged her friends to summarize the soundtrack of their lives in 12 songs.
Next to the people and Odies I love — and maybe garage sales — music is my very favourite thing. I have several thousand CDs, 13,000 songs on my iPod, dozens of classical piano books, a musician father, and a long history of attending concerts.
Narrowing the huge pool of wonderful things my ears have experienced down to 12 measly songs was a daunting task. So with a nudge from my friend Elaine, I decided to pick songs that have been important to me over the years — not necessarily my favourite songs today — and post them in chronological order.
1. Simon and Garfunkel, Cecelia – age 6
When we first moved to our brand new house in Perkinsfield, the floors were so glossy and smooth that Alicia and I would sprint and slide across the dining room in our wool socks – inside out, for extra speed. For some reason, the game only worked with this song.
2. The Cranberries, Ode to my family – age 10ish
The first album I ever bought for myself was The Cranberries’ No Need to Argue. It was the year Santa gave me a ghetto blaster for Christmas. I would lie on my bedroom carpet, stare moodily at the ceiling, and listen to this on repeat.
3. Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, HCQ Strut – age 12ish
Suddenly, I loved jazz. None of that newfangled modern stuff with chords that hurt my ears. Just the greats. And this particular ditty always sent me to a happy place.
4. Chet Baker, I get along without you very well – age 13ish
This man. I think I was in love with him. I dreamed of going back in time and saving him from his addictions. Then we’d buy a cottage in the mountains where he would play and sing for me all day long. I may still be in love with him! Sigh. Perfect music to dream to.
5. Beck, Nicotine and Gravy – age 15ish
I’d heard Odelay, but Midnight Vultures blew my mind. It’s still one of my “if you lived on a deserted island” albums. And this song, with its fantastic layers, was a favourite. A Beck show is still on the bucket list. To Kanye, I say suck it.
6. Radiohead, No Surprises – age 17ish
When I was at my very lowest, I started my relationship with Radiohead. I’m not sure they contributed positively to my mental health, but they made music better.
7. The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1 – age 19
In my first year of university, I stayed with my aunt Fina and uncle Andy for a few days because I was dying of the flu. Fina made me soup. Andy cranked the Flaming Lips. And I got better. Every once in awhile, I still dust this song off and take it for a spin.
8. Wilco, Jesus, etc. – age 20
In my second year of university, JF – lover of mopey cowboy music – stepped into my life again. He made me a mixed CD with Bright Eyes, Antony and the Johnsons, Les Cowboys Fringants, Joanna Newsom, and this song. Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky show in Toronto is one of the best concerts I’ve been to. We love them still.
9. Elliott Brood, Only at home – age 23ish
For some reason, this is still one of my very favourite driving songs. I know all the words (or sounds? Pretty tough to tell what he’s saying) and always scream at the end.
10. Vampire Weekend, M79 – age 25ish
When this album came out, my ears were delighted. Harpsichord AND synthesizer AND xylophone, all in one sound? Amazing. I remember listening to this song in JF’s tiny little bachelor apartment at Avenue and Eglinton and making fried eggs.
11. Megafaun, The Longest Day – age 27ish
These guys opened for the Mountain Goats at the Opera House and this was the most lovely moment of the evening. We held hands. The rest of their set was lackluster.
12. La Roux, Sexotheqe – present
Lately, I’ve needed a dose of musical sunshine. Here’s a song that makes me bop around on the drive to work.
The date will be June 11, 2016. Our dog will be there. It will be big and casual. There will be booze, dancing, fireworks and a potato gun. But that’s all I know about my wedding, so far.
Us an the Odester. We want this dude there on our big day!
Having a small Franco-Ontarian wedding without maiming hearts is impossible. We have 24 francophone aunts and uncles between us, plus 15 from our German and Portuguese factions. And I love my cousins — all billion of them.
My beautiful Lefaive cousins
Can’t wait to celebrate with these people
My cousin Owen – one of my all-time favourite people
Rebelo cousins (and Steph, who is basically a Rebelo cousin)
I’ve helped plan many weddings. I’ve attended at least 30. We’ve talked extensively about our ideal day. I have a whole pinterest board about it, so it’s practically planned already, right? But with our guest list, it all boils down to what we can afford.
Right now, the big question is the venue. I’ve found a sum total of zero in-budget, non-ugly spaces that can accommodate 200 people that aren’t Elise and Roger’s backyard. Truly, all we need is a pretty field with electricity and space for a thousand cars. Is that so much to ask?
Still, we shall overcome. And however frustrating this first leg of planning is, it’ll be a lovely day with the people dearest to us. Or at least, a memorable one.
Last January, in my usual post-holiday melancholy, I wrote a list of 29 gifts offered by the year 2013 – one for each birthday gone by. It was like sunshine on my face after days of cold and dark.
Sunshine on our faces.
This January felt entirely different. After happily bouncing around Europe for a few weeks, I came home rested and excited about my engagement.
Now I’m settling into the usual winter doldrums. Brushing my car off every morning is killing my soul. My face hurts when I walk my (lovely and adorable) dog at 6:30 a.m. I’m dying of a vitamin D deficiency. Yadda yadda yadda.
This is us trying to embrace winter.
So here it is, my cure for the murky, miserable winter blues.
In 2014 I…
Played my first round of real Penetang bingo.
Took on a new volunteer role with le Festival du Loup.
Yesterday morning, JF answered a listing from Wasaga Beach. Odie, a one-year-old bernedoodle, needed a home because his mom was downsizing. To our great delight, she answered within minutes. Could we go see him that afternoon?
When he came bounding up the stairs – a big, black ball of legs and fur – our eyes opened wide in shock. He was enormous! But he snuggled up to us both immediately, laying his head on my hip for a scratch.
After an anxiety-ridden coffee break at Tim Hortons’ (is he TOO big?) we went back to pack his huge crate, bed and dishes into tiny Tobias. He hopped in without hesitation, crouching his head because the roof of the car was too low.
When we got home we took him for a walk and pondered the enormity – literally – or our decision. After setting up his things in the mudroom we watched him excitedly wander around our house. All 85 pounds of him.
How can anyone resist this face?
But when we sat down to watch a movie, he cuddled with us and all was well. How lovely to have a giant, happy, sweet and friendly teddy bear!
There is a lot of training and hard work ahead. But there are also a thousand hugs, kisses and games of fetch. And I’m so excited.