Easter/Wedding Weekend

I have a brand new sister-in-law! Matt’s youngest brother married one of my favourite people in the world on Saturday. It was the first time in ages that all six boys were together, and I was a bridesmaid, so we tried our hardest to balance childcare and fun between the two of us.

Wedding

Lucky for us, M did great with abandoning her carefully maintained bedtime schedule and routine for the weekend. She had one exhausted screaming session when we attempted to go out for dinner, but after that she was a-okay. She even stayed up late for the wedding, and warmed up to Matt’s aunties completely, allowing him to socialize a bit, too. We’re so grateful for all of the family who chipped in throughout the weekend.

In terms of Easter, we didn’t do much. I had a little basket for the baby on Sunday, containing socks, a sunhat, some bibs and a bag of M&Ms for us. I figured it’d be the last time the bunny could get away with bringing socks! My stepmother-in-law sent over some grown-up candy, too, which we demolished pretty quickly. Usually, Easter is our time to come out of hibernation, but there’s still a ton of snow on the ground this year — we even got stuck in the hair salon driveway on the morning of the wedding, and needed the hairdresser’s husband to push us out!

Aside from the wedding we had an impromptu BBQ here, and another dinner last night. It’s been a lot of fun having people over and hopefully it’s a preview to what we can do this summer (which will be even better, once the firepit area thaws out!).

Family has been gradually heading home since Sunday morning, and we said goodbye to the last brother this morning. There were a few people we didn’t get to see on their way out, but that just means we have some visiting to do the next time around! We had an awesome time, all around, and can’t wait for the next party. I’m dying to see wedding photos, too — we actually got some full family photos which are a rarity!

Vacation!

I tried to find a nice picture from my last vacation to Myrtle Beach but they’re all on the iMac which is currently packed up in the basement, so… here’s one from the flea market. You’re welcome.

We’re going away in March! My dad and his girlfriend rent a place in Murrels Inlet every winter, and for the past few years he’s been trying to get us to come down and visit. But, for the past few years I’ve been hoarding my vacation time, and Porter doesn’t fly in on a daily basis so it just didn’t work out. This year, though, I’m not working and Matt has an obscene amount of vacation time accrued, and with some advance planning (as in, we had to buy tickets ASAP because they’re selling out), we managed to secure time off and transportation!

We’re flying Porter, like I mentioned, which means we’re going Thunder Bay > Toronto > Myrtle Beach, and the reverse on the way home. I kind of hate landing at Billy Bishop (not a fan of the steep decline, not to mention seeing Lake Ontario looming in every direction) but if we have to do a layover at least they have free cookies. On the way back we have a four hour layover so we might try to escape into downtown Toronto for a bit if it doesn’t risk us missing our flight back to Thunder Bay.

I’m really excited to get out of the snow and cold. And as a bonus, my sister and her family will be there around the same time so we’ll get to see them, plus they’ll get a few days of just them and we’ll get a few of just us on the other end. Everyone has their own plans of what we are going to do — Kay and I have a long overdue date at Margaritaville, Matt wants to check out the fireworks, so on and so forth — but I’m game to do anything so long as the weather is nice. I can’t wait to show M the beach.

That being said, I’m already quaking in my snowboots about bringing her on four separate flights! Our first departing flight is at 6:45 a.m., too, which means a really early wake-up for us after driving into TBay the night prior. Hopefully she’ll sleep on the plane and not fuss too much, but I may be in for a dose of karma after silently seething at screaming babies in my more youthful years.

Still, the flights are just two days out of the whole vacation, and it’s already giving us something to look forward to, to get us through this cold!

Reverb13: Habits and Addictions

Habits and addictions, some are silly, some serious; when we have issues without answers, they can hold us so tight that we stop moving forward with the life we intended.

Were you able to loosen those fetters this year, and if you were successful, how did you manage it? Did you accept outside help, or work alone?

If you still feel that grasp of addiction or hurtful habits, what will you do differently in the year to come?

My worst habit, I think, is giving into anger and frustration. I have a really hard time feeling like I’m not being heard. I hate feeling like something really important to me is being dropped, never to be picked up again, swept under the rug. Bottling things up is not my method of choice. But exploding probably isn’t the greatest way to go about things, either.

I think I’ve made progress in being levelheaded, but give me a sleepless night and old habits die hard. I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks feeling isolated and ignored, at times, and it’s tough to manage. I’m frankly not really sure how to deal with my own frustrations, when my ability to cope isn’t at its peak. All I can do is try to bite my tongue, to be more understanding, to hope that I’ll get the same efforts extended in my direction and that things will improve.

I realize that doesn’t sound particularly cheerful, but it is what it is. I learned pretty quickly that new parenthood isn’t all gurgles and kisses and love. It’s exhaustion and diapers and resentment, at times. I suspect everyone goes through it — it’s just a matter of making it clear to the other side.

The Day Everything Changed

Originally written March 2, 2013 – I found this in my drafts and thought I’d share, now that we’re so much closer to her arrival!

Today is a lazy Saturday. It’s sunny and bright — the kind of day that makes you think winter is on its way out. I woke up in the dark, though, at 6 a.m. on the dot. I was on a mission. For the past week, I had been having cramps of a ridiculously awful nature, so bad that I was smuggling my stuffed bear hot water bottle into work and shoving it under my shirt in hopes nobody would walk in and wonder what was wrong with me. I had twinges, aches and pains, too, and an overall feeling of… being carsick, I suppose. Add to that the weird chills that started washing over my body Friday afternoon, and I had to wonder if something was up.

The internet told me over and over that most women don’t get positive results on pregnancy tests so early in the game, that I should wait. I was really expecting to see nothing when I took the test, but there it was… a really, really faint pink line, appearing beside the control line. No way. Heart pounding, I looked at it, and looked at it, and looked at it until I went cross-eyed, turning it around and moving it closer to the bathroom light. I palmed it, shut off the light and started up the stairs to shove it in Matt’s sleeping face — IS THIS A LINE?! — before I caught myself and realized maybe that would be a terrible way to wake up my husband at 6:15 a.m. on a Saturday.

I didn’t know for sure. But it being Saturday means nothing is open until 9 a.m., so I’d have to wait to get a more readable test. I went back to bed and asked half-asleep Matt if I should buy some bacon for breakfast, hoping he’d say yes so I had a reason to get out of the house without him, having formulated a plan in my head. When 8:30 a.m. rolled around, I hopped into the truck and started driving to the gas station five miles out of town. It stocks funny onesies, and my faint line was enough to have me thinking I could surprise Matt in a thought-out way, if a digital test gave me a clear YES or PREGNANT. I got the onesie. I drove back to town.

Turns out there are no digital tests in this town to be found on a Saturday. The clerk at the pharmacy, who couldn’t have been any older than me, congenially told me the test I picked out should work just fine even though it was early. And it did — another pink line, before the time limit was even up. I wrapped the onesie I bought in tissue paper, stuffed it in a gift bag, tied some ribbons around the handle and headed home (with groceries, too!). I was shaking uncontrollably when I handed Matt the gift, and he was clueless until the second he realized he was holding baby clothing.

The Day

After we got ourselves sorted out, Matt propped me up on a chair facing the sun — I was freezing and still shaking (and apparently my makeup was running after crying, hah).

And now, now it’s all different. This baby is so loved already.

Travelling South for a Funeral

Throughout the days before we travelled south for my grandmother’s funeral, we were preparing — both in terms of getting things like a house & cat sitter lined up and in an emotional way, too. By the time we were actually renting a car to set out down to the Ottawa Valley, I had decided to look on the bright side as much as possible. Yes, we were looking at a 4000-kilometre round trip to pay our last respects to my grandmother, but in that time, we would be able to celebrate her long life, and spend time with family.

Hanging onto that optimism became a bit difficult the longer I drove south. We hit terrible construction in Thunder Bay, due to flooding repairs, and after that it rained clear through to the next day. Superior Park was foggy, sometimes to the point that I could barely see twenty feet ahead.

Some of my favourite views were obscured by the rain, but it wasn’t all terrible. We stopped in Schreiber for a quick bite, and after that, Matt tried to catch a bit of sleep knowing he was due to take the wheel once I couldn’t drive any more. My night blindness kicked in as we exited the park, helped along by rain refracting on our tiny windshield. After I drove for about 12 hours, Matt took over at Pancake Bay (right near where the Edmund Fitzgerald sank!).

It was dark. Reaaaaally dark. I stayed awake as we pulled into Sault Ste. Marie,  but downing my fourth caffeinated beverage of the day was a terrible idea and I immediately felt sick. I decided to get some sleep in hopes I would be refreshed and feeling better enough to drive once the day broke again.

I think I got about a half hour to an hour of fitful sleep, then woke up for good as we were driving through the Sudbury overpass. The rental came with Sirius radio and Matt had it turned to some ridiculous talk radio show about who in Hollywood has the most stupid face. It was enough to keep me entertained until North Bay, where, after hunting for an open gas station for a half hour, I took over the wheel again.

I probably should not have been driving. Turning on the steep curve to Highway 17 made me dizzy. But we were only three hours from my dad’s house and I wanted to get there for my Grandma’s visitation. Luckily the rain almost completely dissipated as the sun came up, and traffic was light, so I pushed through. I was so happy to pull up in that driveway!

We were up a few hours later, getting ready to go to the funeral home. The next few days were bittersweet — we got to spend a ton of time with family, especially our niece Ophelia and my sister and brother-in-law who we rarely see, but in the middle of it we had to say goodbye to my Grandma. And, while it was heartbreaking to let her go, it was lovely to see the life and vitality that has sprung up and coursed through the veins of our family tree.

My mom drove down for a few hours, which was greatly appreciated. I was able to catch up with my cousin and good friend Andrea, and reconnected with many people I haven’t seen in ages. Matt became a rockstar in the eyes of my younger cousins when he taught them how to make stink bombs and told them all about hitchhiking out to BC when he was younger. We shared a lot of remembrances, ate a ton of food… and I relished the opportunity to be surrounded by so. many. babies. SO MANY BABIES.

We also made a stop over at my Grandma’s house, a place that will be forever special to me.

But, as always, we had to get on the road again. Being south already, it only made sense to stop into Peterborough to visit with Matt’s family (although we wish we could have stayed much longer). Matt took the scenic route, up through Wilno and Bancroft, then followed the canal into the city to get a view of his own favourite places. I love seeing our niece Lily, especially having just seen Opie — Lily is so outgoing compared to her! She gleefully picked us flowers and took Matt on a jaunt through the backyard. Matt’s mom did us a huge favour and found Matt’s old tent in her house for us to take back with us, something that would certainly come in handy later in the trip.

After another sad goodbye, we started on our way out of town — and then Matt requested a small side trip to the mall. As if I’d turn down going to a mall. The clothing and sunglasses purchases were expected, but I was surprised when we went into a jewelry store on a whim and walked out with our wedding rings.

Matt decided to take us through Bobcaygeon on the way out, because I’d never been. He is trying really hard to leave me with a good impression of Peterborough and the Kawarthas (because I’m pretty neutral thus far, aside from believing the roads around Lindsay smell like gym socks after dark). The easiest way to make me have a good impression of a place? Feed me.

Matt has been waxing rhapsodic about Empire cheese curds since I met him. Imagine his glee when he finally managed to snag two bags, still fresh, at a random flower-covered gas station.

Bobcaygeon was beautiful! The main goal of our side trip was to get to the Kawartha Dairy. That ice cream cone up there? Butter tart ice cream. Seriously. It had pieces of butter tart crust in it and the ice cream itself was that caramel-y butter tart flavour. Mmm. On the way out of town we picked up two Kawarthas real estate magazines, so I could fully realize I will never live in a place with Muskoka chairs and a three-level waterfront deck unless I somehow manage to drum up a few million dollars.

We decided we’d keep heading north as far as Sudbury, though we initially intended to go all the way to Sault Ste. Marie. It was rainy and we were pretty tired after several emotional days. I put my feet up and turned on the radio while Matt navigated through cottage country — we learned that of all the Sirius stations, 90’s grunge/alt rock is the most crowd-pleasing. Unfortunately, when we got to Sudbury, our historic horrible luck with hotels kicked in. A clerk at the very first hotel we tried informed Matt that there were only THREE vacant hotel rooms in all of Sudbury, and we had best get moving to the Days Inn if we wanted to secure one of them.

Lucky for us, we made it. I was really happy to see that glorious king sized bed, even if I ruined my slippers in the parking lot. I wanted to go to the M.I.C. Eatery and Whiskey Pub but as soon as I actually got into the cool, dark hotel room, I was exhausted enough to instruct Matt to call the hotel restaurant and find out if they were still open. Usually I think hotel restaurants are a bad idea — don’t you want to get out and see more of the city? — but this one actually turned out to be a brilliant choice.

Hardrock 42 is a surprisingly good gastropub with a serious beer list. I had Blanche de Chambly, and a Barking Squirrel/cherry brandy mix, along with a goat cheese stuffed burger. Matt went the cider and wings route, with Magners, Thornbury, and dill pickle and garlic/Parmesan wings. We ended up eating in the same place for breakfast, too.

The next day, I woke up early and sick. In fact, I couldn’t fall back asleep even though I was tired, because my throat hurt so much. My dad had been sick the day before, from stress, being in the hospital to visit my grandmother, and being in contact with so many people, and I figured if it felled him it would come for me next. I was right.

The goal of the day, then, was to get out of Sudbury and get as far as at least Marathon. But first, we had to stop at the Big Nickel.

The good part about driving back through the Superior Park? Bathroom breaks can be incredibly scenic. We drove through a few rain pockets, but it was mostly clear and gorgeous. I wiled away the boring parts of the drive reading about shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, thanks to mobile Wikipedia.

I have always wanted to stop at Katherine Cove, a pretty little sandy spot on Lake Superior. The bathrooms are certainly rustic but it gave us an opportunity to get out and stretch. Matt even waded into the lake a bit (he’s crazy — it was FREEZING).

This part is kind of cheesy, but bear with me. My Uncle Stan, my dad’s brother, passed away when I was in high school. I couldn’t attend the funeral because it was on the same day as my prom, but my dad has told me the story of preparing to write his brother’s eulogy. He wasn’t sure what to say, and was trying to find the right words, when he realized he was suddenly surrounded by yellow butterflies. That became the basis for his speech, and ever since then, I’ve sort of taken butterflies as a sign from the heavens.

So I stepped out onto the beach, just me, as Matt was still back at the car. Out of nowhere, two perfect yellow butterflies started dancing through the air, swirling all around me. They came so close, and only near me, no matter where I walked or how fast I moved.

Once we got to Wawa we knew we’d be spending the night in Marathon. It was getting dark, and Matt was doing all the driving. We stopped for Tim Horton’s and another tourist photo at the Wawa goose. We also spent a few minutes tracking down a pocket knife for Matt, because after firmly deciding to camp in Marathon, we checked the tent and realized there were no pegs, meaning Matt would have to carve some because all of the stores that might sell tent pegs were closed for the night.

We’ve camped in Marathon before so we knew to go straight to Penn Lake Park. This time around we had daylight to work with, and our choice of every single tent site in the park. It was only a bit chilly, and Matt had the pegs carved and tent set up in the time that it took me to walk to the bathroom and back. It took him a bit longer to inflate the foot-pump air mattress that was the exact size of the interior of the tent, with only a few feet of headroom to contend with.

Recognize that bathroom? I took the same photo on our bike trip.

In the meantime, I drove into town hoping to find something we could cook. My brain wasn’t really working after so many days out of my norm, so when there were no hot dogs at the only convenience store that was still open, I panicked and bought:

  • one bag of marshmallows
  • one can of chili
  • one can of beans that required a can opener (which we did not have)
  • eight sets of plastic cutlery
  • 100 paper plates

And then, when I got back and set up the bedding, I realized I was super sick and super tired, more so than I had realized before. Matt got a fire going… but I crashed and fell asleep. Our next major camping gear investment is sleeping bags, because the tent was awesome and waterproof but the bedding wasn’t terribly insulating. We both had pretty fitful sleeps.

The next day, our last big stop was Nipigon. We had our final cheese curd treats (I had fromage-a-trois poutine with curd, feta and cheddar, while Matt had smoky poutine with bacon and onions) and admired the scenery. The rest of the drive was pretty straightforward; the same drive we’ve done plenty of times. We avoided huge construction delays in Thunder Bay, and didn’t see a single moose on the road from Ignace despite being warned. Matt picked up a turtle to help it across the road and it tried to pee on him as a defense mechanism. You know, the usual.

And now, we’re home. We’re both tired, still, and Matt is starting to get sick. The rental is due back tomorrow, and half of the bags are unpacked. We had a good time, albeit a sometimes sad time, but I’m happy to be back home and off the road.

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