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

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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.

Where to start?

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.

  1. Sunny Mexico: After Christmas, we stayed in a small town called Puerto Morelos, just south of Cancun. The company, food and locale were increíble!
  2. 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 thing I've ever eaten.

    La galette des rois. Probably the most delicious and pretty thing I’ve ever eaten.

  3. 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

    Neil and tea

  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Smoked salmon-flavoured barf: After a fun meal out with friends, I spent over 24 hours vomiting. I will never eat smoked salmon again.
  8. 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

    A walk through a park in Ottawa

  9. 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

    Gen and I at the gala

  10. 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

    I made the best of my sick days and snuggled with Odie

  11. 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.
  12. 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 <3

    Jasel, Yishey, Rigden and I trying the selfie stick I got for Christmas ❤

  13. Does Georgian have talent? I participated in (and sort of helped with) the Georgian’s Got Talent… or Not benefit concert. I definitely fell in the “or not” category, but enjoyed the whole event thoroughly.

    Two extremely talented Georgian students who performed in the show

    Two extremely talented Georgian students who performed in the show

  14. Wye Marsh? Danielle, Naomi and I went to the Sweetwater Harvest Festival. It was good fun, but I felt I was cheating on a) Tiny Marsh and b) the Elmvale Maple Syrup Festival.

    Danielle and Naomi, and some pancakes

    Danielle and Naomi, and some pancakes

  15. 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

    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.

Here's Odie at Tiny Marsh just over a week ago

Here’s Odie at Tiny Marsh just over a week ago

A biased introduction to the towns of Simcoe County

Many of my Toronto friends remain confused about Elmvale’s location. I routinely get asked if it’s near Blue Moutain or Huntsville. The answer is well, kinda. It’s somewhere in between.

Here's a map with Toronto, Blue Mountains, Elmvale and Huntsville, for context

Here’s a map with Toronto, Blue Mountains, Elmvale (in green) and Huntsville, for context

I think of Elmvale as the centre of Simcoe County. Not the cultural or economic centre (that’ll be the day!) but the actual geographical centre. We live 20 to 30 minutes from the following places: Midland, Orillia, Barrie and Wasaga Beach. Here’s my uninformed, totally biased opinion on those four hubs.

BARRIE (south of Elmvale)

SpiritCatcher_1024x768

Spirit Catcher

  • Claim to fame: nearish to Toronto. Also, where I work.
  • Populationish: tough to say because it grows by 1,000 every time someone sneezes. Maybe 150,000?
  • Cool stuff: surprising number of decent restaurants, Sir Games-a-lot, waterfront park, great Mayor, Georgian College
  • Less cool stuff: sprawl, unreliable transit

MIDLAND  (north of Elmvale)

Midland, retro edition

Midland, retro edition

  • Claim to fame: Martyr’s Shrine and Ste. Marie Among the Hurons. Also, where I lived in my teens
  • Populationish: probably about 15,000 most of the time, but 100,000 in July and August
  • Cool stuff: lovely downtown, random murals, cheap real estate, Midland Cultural Centre, awesome bowling alley, proximity to Penetanguishene (another cool town)
  • Less cool stuff: Lots of poverty. Also the waterfront could be nice if it didn’t have the grain elevator, lumber yard, giant mineral pile, busy road, graffiti and drugs

ORILLIA (east of Elmvale)

Opera House

Opera House

  • Claim to fame: Casino Rama. On the way to Muskoka
  • Populationish: guessing 30,000ish?
  • Cool stuff: great downtown, Mariposa Market, Mariposa Folk Festival, Stephen Leacock museum, OPP headquarters, opera house
  • Less cool stuff: keeps trying (unsuccessfully) to compete with Barrie – do your own thing, Orillia!

WASAGA BEACH (west of Elmvale)

The beach

The beach

  • Claim to fame: duh
  • Populationish: maybe 10,000 in the winter a zillion in the summer?
  • Cool stuff: the beach, the kitschy stores around the beach, proximity to Collingwood (which is lovely), paintball, go carts and mermaid hotel sign
  • Less cool stuff: driving through sucks. Also, noisy motorcycles zoom past my house all summer to get there.

In conclusion, if you’re planning to visit me OR Simcoe County (which you should!) there’s plenty to do. I suggest you go to all of the towns listed above, but also:

Tailspin

My life in Toronto was hectic. Between my beautiful friends, my busy job, and my volunteer adventures I was lucky if JF and I spent even two hours a week together on the couch. Weekends were filled with late nights that contributed to my sleep deficit with regularity.

The constant frenzy was part of why I moved. I thought maybe the city, with its americanos and office towers, was the root of the problem. I remembered – and yearned for – the slow and easy pace of my youth in Perkinsfield.

Toronto skyline from the ferry

Okay Toronto, I guess it really wasn’t you, it was me.

For awhile there, it looked it really had all been Toronto’s fault. Minus a month or two of frantic spackling and painting, I spent our early days in Simcoe County reveling in the luxury of an relatively empty calendar. “Aha!” I thought to myself as I watched home decorating shows, “country life IS slower!”

Then I joined a committee or two. Started singing in a choir. Signed up to help with Georgian’s variety show. Made new and awesome local friends. Took on some big projects at work. Began planning my wedding. Got a dog.

You get the picture. We’re back to the old non-routine. My weekends are booked into October. I’m rarely home, and when I’m in Elmvale I’m either:

  1. walking my dog
  2. cleaning stuff (because it’s usually been awhile)
  3. sitting at my laptop volunteering/blogging
  4. sleeping

Oh how I long for uninterrupted couch zombie time!

JF – the master of taking as much time as he needs – has always said that I made myself this way. That I choose to live in a tailspin. That I can opt out any time. That this probably isn’t healthy.

Why is he always right?

Why is he always right?

It’s time for me to admit that he’s right. My life, as it is, isn’t sustainable. I must slow down. I must choose to do less. I must learn to say no.

Confession: balance has eluded me since I was about 16 years old. For years, my M.O. has been run run yay run run busy run run run ok run CRASH OW BURN… cough… sputter…splat. And lately, the splats have been deeper and heavier.

I’d say I’m in a solid sputter phase right now. All my brain and body seem to want is sleep, snuggles and Star Trek – life’s trifecta of laziness. I’m functioning, but I’m exhausted. I can’t even be bothered to edit this unfiltered blog post. Looking down at my life from above, it’s pretty great. I know that. But when I’m like this, everything feels like a burden.

This is the face of a tired and whiny woman

This is the face of a tired and whiny woman

So friends, don’t be surprised if I can’t come to that volunteer meeting. Can’t hang out this weekend. Can’t commit to that cool project. It’s not because I don’t love you – I do! – it’s because I’m trying remember the grouch anthem, right this tubby old sinking ship, and bail myself out… again.

Toronto: an honest and updated pros and cons list

I spent the last few weekends in Toronto. Highlights included martinis at Pravda with my dear friends Mireille and Patrick; Indian food with some of my favourite former colleagues; an outdoor Back to the Future screening in Liberty Village with Humber PR gals; and decadent high tea with my old roommie Steph at the Royal York.

Whenever I’m in the city, I can’t help weighing life there against life in Elmvale. Some things about Toronto are just amazing. Some things, erm, less. As JF and I drove up the 400 yesterday afternoon, we discussed both.

When we got home, we decided to clear our heads with a walk through Tiny Marsh before tackling our long list of chores.

Tiny Marsh is starting to show its fall colours.

Tiny Marsh is starting to show its fall colours.

While quietly plodding (so as not to upset the birds) I remembered this blog post from a year ago. Not surprisingly, most of the list is still accurate. But I feel differently about a few things. So here it is, revisited — original thoughts in italics, new thoughts indented.

Things I miss about Toronto (revised)

  • People — friends, colleagues, Cantores choristers, and the Rebelo family
    • This is still the toughest part of being in Elmvale.
  • Matt Galloway
    • Sorry, Wei Chen.
  • Good sushi
    • Barrie’s good sushi offers a view of the highway. But at least it exists!
  • Any Indian food
    • It’s expensive, but again, available!
  • The plethora of job postings with decent wages
    • Surprisingly, we’re both gainfully employed. So I don’t miss this anymore.
  • Diversity
  • Solomon’s seal tea
    • Yishey gave me a big, giant box so I’m set for at least a few more months. Thanks Yish!
  • The Toronto Blue Jays
    • Don’t know why I put this on the list in the first place.
  • The St. Lawrence Market
    • NOTE: We have excellent local farmer’s markets that are cheaper. If only they sold cheese and bagels and eggplant parmesan.
  • Pride
    • As in LGBTQ — there isn’t enough of that here.
  • Regularly discovering new corners and nooks
    • There are tons of corners and nooks in our new neighbourhood, they’re just plant-filled instead of building-filled.
  • Driving through yellow lights
    • I must truly be a country bumpkin because I don’t have the urge to do this anymore.
  • The Grid
    • R.I.P.
  • Anonymity
  • Properly stocked LCBOs
  • Social media that actually keeps up with local news
    • At first, I thought our local media outlets were slow. Now I realize they just don’t have as much news to report.
  • Concerts
  • Starbucks
    • I don’t find I need pumpkin spice lattes anymore — weird!
  • I’m adding a new one: the wide variety of amazing restaurants and shops. Barrie just doesn’t come close.
  • Another new one: cool stuff happening everywhere. Like the oddly appealing Tweed Ride — in which historically-attired hipsters ride their vintage bicycles through town.

Things I don’t miss a mite (revised)

  • Looking nice all the time
    • The number of perfectly-groomed people per square kilometre in Toronto is so indimidating to me.
  • Congestion
  • The TTC
    • I won’t cross this off, but I will say I miss not driving on a Saturday night.
  • Noise
  • Warmer temperatures, with sticky air and half-assed breezes
    • In the summer, this is true. In the winter, it is not. So I’m half crossing it off.
  • The smell of garbage day
  • The pace of everything (but driving and social media)
  • Crowds
  • Feeling totally disconnected from the people around me
    • After months of tight-knit Elmvale, this was kind of nice for a weekend. But I wouldn’t want to live in it forever.
  • Biking accidents
  • Yorkdale mall
    • I finally understand why hordes of people descend on Yorkdale every weekend: Anthropologie, J. Crew and Tory Burch.
  • House prices
  • Eating at restaurants almost daily
    • Truth: for all my diatribes against eating out, sometimes I kinda miss this.
  • Rob Ford
    • Surprisingly, I missed his antics after awhile. Springwater politics are dull. Wishing him and his family strength.
  • Parking downtown
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs
    • There are probably more fans per capita in Elmvale than in Toronto. Ugh.
  • Crazy rent prices
  • Getting lost in the PATH
    • Not sure why this was on my list in the first place. I rarely used the PATH.
  • The cost of food at farmer’s markets

It’s good for me to think about these things from time to time. To enjoy my Toronto time, while I’m there, and appreciate Elmvale’s Elmvaleness.

A cottager’s guide to blending in with country folk

It’s cottage season again and that generally means three things for us residents of north Simcoe County.

  • MONEY: Cottagers spend a lot of their hard-earned cash in our little towns. Conscientious ones support small businesses like Elmvale’s amazing bakery and antique store.
  • BUSY-NESS: Travelling from Elmvale to Barrie on a Sunday now feels like crawling painfully to the ends of the earth. And local grocery stores now have actual lineups. Whoa.
  • NOISE: Everyday, at least one thumping Mercedes filled with teenagers in stringy bathing suits screeches by our house on its way to Wasaga Beach.
They're ba-ack!

They’re ba-ack!

Bullets two and three are the reasons most locals (who don’t own businesses) are irritated by the influx of people from the GTA. I can’t personally be vexed because, two years ago, I barely survived July in an air-conditionerless Toronto apartment. What I can do is help bring permanent residents and summer visitors closer together.

You see, when I worked at a boutique in Midland as a teenager, I knew spenders cottagers as soon as they walked in the door. I lost that superpower after a few years in the city. But now, as a citry girl, it’s back and triple its original strength. So, here’s my advice to Torontonians trying to blend in with small towners:

  1. MAKE EYE CONTACT: Smile and look directly at everyone you walk by —just for a second or two. Better yet, say hello. Yes, it does feels unnatural at first.
  2. MAKE SMALL TALK: Chat with waitresses, checkout persons, store clerks and bank tellers. Easy topics include: traffic, weather, local attractions and (if you feel like really getting personal) their plans for the weekend.
  3. DRIVE BIG AUTOMOBILES: If you’re renting a car, skip the Japanese or German hatchbacks, sedans and crossovers. Instead, opt for a large truck or SUV made by a North-American-sounding company like Dodge or Ford. Avoid luxury cars like the plague.
  4. WEAR CASUAL CLOTHES: For men, you’re kind of stuck with baggy jeans or khakis and a t-shirt or polo. For women, look less put together and more thrown together. Actually, you should just wear jeans and t-shirts too.
  5. WEAR BLAND SHOES: Women, don’t wear heels. Men, don’t wear pointy-toed shoes — ever. Sneakers and Crocs are good alternatives.
  6. CARRY CHEAP ACCESSORIES: Ditch your designer purses and sunglasses. Get your replacements at Wal-mart or, if you want to get fancy, Winners.
  7. AVOID LULULEMON AND STARBUCKS: Those things don’t exist here, so don’t sport your $20 headbands and grande americanos north of Midhurst. And don’t whine about the lack of either franchise – we’re sad too.
  8. SUCK IT UP: If your food is late, coffee is cold, or you don’t like the service, don’t complain loudly or ask for a discount. Mutter quietly about it to your friends. And offer a good tip anyway.
  9. LISTEN TO MAINSTREAM MUSIC: Your obscure indie jams don’t offer much social capital here, so crank the Sweet Home Alabama, Thunderstruck, and Copperhead Road. If you don’t have those on your playlist, just tune into Rock 95. They play those three songs on repeat.
  10. RELAX: Slow down, don’t hurry. Wait patiently, even if the checkout person is doing his best snail impression. You’re the same amount of important as everyone else. Besides, you’re on vacation!

And now, an obscure indie jam: