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. He 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.

Conclusion?

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!

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!

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.

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.

Decking the halls

Confession: I am a serious Christmas-lover. When I was little, there was nothing I liked more than decking our halls with plastic greenery and felt snowflakes – sometimes as early as November 1.

Now, as a mature adult, I show a bit more restraint – I usually wait until December 1 to admit to Christmasholism. But with this weekend’s dreamy snow, I’ve cracked early.

A hallway with three red stockings hung on a bannister.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to hang our stockings – the third one is for our fake dog, Nessie.

My name is Mikaela, and I have an embarrassingly large Christmas CD collection and far too many butter-stained, dog-eared spiced cookie recipes.

When JF and I first did a tour of our Elmvale house, I could picture it draped in cedar garland and imagined a fir wreath with a big, red bow on the door. It was July.

So you can imagine how pretty, fluffy snow puts a jingle in my step.

Red victorian house covered in snow

I took this photo of our house at 9 a.m. this morning.

This week, a nice handyman will install Christmas lights all along our roofline. Next weekend I’m going to the Elmvale craft sale, decorating our house from top to bottom, and putting Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song back on my ipod. I might even watch Home Alone.