Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 You Were SO Great!

Some say we all cycle in years of seven, in my case it's absolutely true. The past few years were difficult in so many ways, not that it was always hard, there were some delights, but, overall more clouds than sun. At the end of each year I was always happy to kick it to the curb. The eternal optimist in me was hopeful the following year would be better. However, each subsequent year ended with a surely me spilling my wine whilst flipping the year end the bird. I was a butterfly with tattered wings, who knew only to keep flyng forward, but, I was running out of wing span. Fortunately, for me and everyone around me 2007 was the end of that cycle - GOOD RIDDANCE 2000-2007!

2008 marked the first year of a new cycle, it was such a wonderful year. If I were at all religious I would say this year has been blessed. I feel like climbing on my rooftop and screaming at the top of my lungs; "2008 you rocked so hard! You were so GREAT! Thank-You! Thank-You! Thank-You 2008!"


* After 8 years together Steve and I began our year with promise in the form of our marriage.
* We moved from Canada to the United States.
* Bid adieu to the SNOW - it can stay in 2007!
* We bought a beautiful historic home - my dream home.
* We were welcomed by neighbours we now are privileged to call friends.
* We sailed in our first regatta.
* We've had a house full of company.
* Bellies full of fresh caught seafood.
* Good jobs in a time of recession.
* Supportive family and loving friends.
* A democratic government!
* And a baby on the way...

2008 leaves me feeling so fulfilled. I can't recall a year recap that looked so good, one that I can truly look back on without regret. It's just the beginning too - this stride in personal growth, mentally, spiritually and in my case physically- is all in it's beginning phases. I feel like a new little butterfly who just climbed out of her cocoon perched on a tree limb airing my wings under the warm sun. I'm ready to step off the branch and fly into 2009. I think I could soar on contentment alone.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Michelley Belly - Bump 6 to 24 weeks

Okay - I give!
Everyone has been asking me for "Baby Bump" pictures and is the progression.  

I WILL post every 2 weeks from here in.

It's astonishing how much skin can stretch.

Enjoy my girth.

24 weeks 1 Day

23 Weeks 2 Days

21 Weeks 4 Days

19 Weeks 2 Days

     16 weeks 2 Days

  14 Weeks 4 Days

  12 Weeks 3 Days

  7 Weeks

 6 Weeks

Friday, December 26, 2008

Baby P's Christmas in the Womb = Spoiled Rotten Already

Steve mentioned to me that his friend at work who is 18 weeks pregnant had bought and wrapped a whole pile of gifts to put under her tree for her baby. I didn't think to buy any Christmas gifts for our baby. I mean I looked at all the cute Christmas outfits for little ones while I was out shoppig but I didn't buy. Was I supposed to? I always think of next year as Baby P's first Christmas - when we will have a little 8 month old crawling around looking all adorable whilst trying to eat the tree ornaments.

We are 25 weeks along and we didn't buy any Chirstmas gifts for Baby P! Unless you want to count 12 pair of FuzziBunz and 12 pair of Bum Genius diapers - butt - those are necessities as we get ready to welcome the baby - not presents.

Thankfully, Aunties Dee, Sue, Smelly Locks, Renee and Grandma Linda were more thoughtful toward our little Baby P.

Check out the loot below!

Clothes and toys!

Books - Which have all been read to Baby P already - as Baby P can hear now.

Auntie Smelly Locks nearly missed her plane out of Tampa for this custom made gift!

Two of MY most hilarious and unusual gifts:

Temporary Tattoos - for when I feel like having a belly rub!
Thanks Smelly Betch XX

A Fancy Tampon Case, it says: PMS is the only time of the month I can be MYSELF!

Thanks Seester XX

Vintage Xmas - 2006

the stars are brightly SHIIIIIIIINING!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Need A Christmas Miracle!

As most women do, I have a running "Honey Do" list going .  A list containing all the household gack I would like to get organized, moved, thrown out, fixed, bought or returned, mowed, raked and planted.  I am the "HONEY" in this equation. Most women make this list for their Hubby - but- I am the hubby around the house - Shhhh, don't tell mine!  Don't get me wrong, my Hubby loves to work on projects but they mostly revolve around marine activities and boat building...not so much home repair or maintenance.  

Truthfully,  I like to get to the home repairs and take a lot of enjoyment out of learning to do them myself.  But, this is becoming increasingly difficult as my expanding belly begins to get in the way.  I can't lift boxes, or squeeze into small spaces or climb the pull down attic stairs,  like I could,  even up to last week, thus my "Honey Do" list is actually morphing into a real "Honey DO" list as I enlist the help of a very helpful Hubby ... on his terms.

On the top of this list for the better part of a year has been:
  "Sort through remaining boxes, repack into squirrel proof rubber containers, store in attic."

We have been in our house almost a year. We purged big time before moving south so unpacking only what we wanted to keep without sorting made it a lot easier. Still there are the boxes of old photographs and letters you can get lost in - a whole afternoon gone before you know it - dragging out the unpacking process.  

I unpacked and sorted the house out as best I could before company began rolling in to visit, and that's where my organizing stopped.  I had hit a point where everything had a place and the remaining boxes I didn't feel like going through were stuffed into a  closet and an out of the way corner of our home office.  Don't get me wrong - the stack of boxes was an eyesore.  But I had become accustomed to turning a blind eye to them and they didn't seem to bother Hubby in the least.   I vacuumed and dusted around the stack of boxes in the office until the other day when I had had enough.  

I began to go through the boxes:
* Four boxes of tax papers to be held for another 5 years. 
* Two empty bankers boxes - collecting dust.
* A rubber container full of fabric samples and a sewing kit.  
* A box of Christmas wrapping paper -yeah that would have been handy to find last week before    I bought 4 more rolls! (Sorry trees - it's the last year for paper wrap I swear!) 
* A box of my shoes ( all 40 pair) I don't have a shoe shopping problem I like to think of it as        more of an ability - really.  
* And finally a heavy bankers size box of my husbands things...which I opened to find, one video
   game three pounds of Canadian pennies, some old pens and pencils, a stethoscope and a few        cross country running medals. 

I am happy to say the office has been cleared of all this gack! The shoes  have been donated - the rest put away, there have been more than a few trips to the garbage and the rest readied for storage in the attic.  Number one Hubby was home, he willingly carried our condensed couple of boxes to the second floor to go into the attic. 

They are no longer in my office or closet!   YAHOOO!

But, they are at the top of the second floor stairs ... in a pile where Hubby left them.  So close to the attic and out of my sight.  So close.  Who wants to place bets on how long they will sit there?

I head back to my "Honey Do" list and write,  "Move Boxes to Attic" once more on the top of the list - right underneath where I had struck a line through the original only hours earlier.  

At some point I will become annoyed with vacuuming around the boxes again and I will head back to Hubby to ask for the boxes to finally go up into the attic. 

But how long will that take me?  

I might just need a Christmas Miracle - to get the stuff to the attic - before another year passes. I might. 


The boxes made it to the attic on December 21st! YAY! Thank You Hubby!

Mom's Christmas Cookies

There is a holiday tradition among the women in my family to exchange Christmas baking. It is a well anticipated gift as each member has their own very special recipes made only at Christmas. Beautifully presented tins filled with the best and most decadent treats you can imagine. Each year the baking presents it's own challenges and the stories that accompany the cookies are as much a part of the gift as the gift itself.

Story lines have included:
* My mixer broke - the motor finally cacked out. ( Aunt Ann)

* I forgot about making mom's Chinese Chews! (Aunt Dianne)

* Did you see the price of almonds this year? You almost didn't get the almond clusters, then I burnt the first damn batch! (Mom)

* The squirrel broke into the back screened in porch and chewed threw the bag of marshmallows, so, I had to make a special trip to the store just to get more and wait in all the lines again! (Aunt Alice)

* I baked an iced and now you have "tree ornaments" -please don't try to eat them. I refuse to pay for your dental work. (Me)

* I baked Martha Stewart's iced sugar cookies ... they all broke on the flight here. Enjoy your tin of crumbs. (Me)

It seems to me, when I look back at Christmas over the years, the one main stay are all the tins of baking. It is also known that over the years my mother spent a lot of time sick and in and out of hospital for various operations and treatments during the Christmas holiday time. In those times the one thing my sister and I knew would make mom happy was to clean her house and help make her Christmas baking. It's as though normalcy in a tumultuous time could be eased by the familiarity of seeing and tasting a once a year treat. If the cookies were there so were we, okay and intact.

As kids, my sister and I were at each other's throats - a lot. But when we chose to work together we really could accomplish a fair bit. One year mom was in hospital for a lady problem operation - I am thinking it was a precursor to the hysterectomy the following Christmas time. Regardless of what it was, mom was not returning home until quite close to Christmas and she was going to have no strength to bake. Sue and I manage to make a double batch of her peanut butter cookies. We decorated each cookie with a slice of red or green maraschino cherry just like mom always did. We were all of 12 and 10 years of age at the time. We kept our baking a secret so we could surprise her when she returned home.

Our mother passed away just before Christmas and so it really put a damper on our Christmases to follow. The second Christmas without our mother was particularily difficult. Living five hours apart, sister and I were on the telephone, I was directing as Sue wandred around the house looking through the cupboards, cookbooks and recipe boxes trying to located mom's cookie recipes. We were going to work on a few recipes each and bring them home to Christmas. A continuity we greatly needed that year. The recipes were no where to be found. We were both annoyed. The cookie recipes are important! Why did mom not put them aside or make sure we had them before she died? We knew of other mothers who were terminal who wrote lovely letters to their children, took them shopping for wedding dresses and did other important mother daughter activities they would miss out on when the time came. Those mothers handed down heirlooms in articles and recipes, and memories as they wanted their legacy to transcend. Not our mother. She did none of these things? Why didn't she, my sister and I would ask each other. Why? We could only surmise that mom must have thought we knew all of these things without having to be told.

Last summer my dad who was preparing to move out of our family home asked me to go through a few things and take what I wanted as he would be doing a thorough clean out when the time came to move. I sat on the floor in front of my mother 's antique cabinet and began pulling out all her cookbooks. She had bazillions! Lo and behold I found a list scribed in my mother's familiar handwriting. Each of her Christmas cookies was written out along with the corresponding cookbook and page number from which she baked from.

I can only figure they were meant to be found some 7 years after her passing because I was ready to find them. Sometimes I just can't see for looking. Likely, I was so deeply routed in my grief I couldn't see until that day last summer.

This year I baked. I was in my new home, my frst marital home, a bun in my oven, the weather a balmy 71 degrees, the windows wide open. I baked my mother's recipes and a few new ones of my own while Pandora Radio played the same 10 Christmas songs over and over by various artists and I sang along, and for the first time I was not sad.

Mom's Thimble Cookies filled with homemade (not by me) strawberry rhubarb jam.

Mrs. Katinis's (Mom & Dad's first landlord) Cookies - A.K.A Almond Crescents

This year for the first time I am able to share my family's tradition with my new family, gifting them with a tiny tin of baked Christmas treats, thus, injecting a little bit of my familiar Christmas into an otherwise unfamiliar one. A small comforting hold on all my Christmases past as I take a huge leap into all my future Christmases.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Miss You Mom

It was eight years ago today that my mother lost her battle with breast cancer.  We always set off fire works in her honor on this day.  Last year it was -27 in Ottawa and the matches wouldn't stay lit long enough to light the fireworks...this year in NC we won't have that problem.

Miss you everyday mom.  Enjoy your fireworks!


Yeah,  so we did have the firework problem in NC this year because...we couldn't get them lit. This time it was not the weather - it was in fact- a gorgeous evening under a full moon.

Steve was outside lighting the firework wicks ...running back a few feet while I stayed a safe distance watching from the porch.  Each wick burnt out and no explosion.   Steve propped the firework behind two pieces of wood to shield the wick from any possible breeze and still the wick would not stay lit.

Then Steve asked me to go into the house to get another firework from the box of 15 I had bought.  I came out and handed Steve another firework,  he shook it and then pulled the "wick" - I covered my eyes - then Steve burst out laughing.  I peeked through my fingers to see streamers and confetti floating through the air covering Steve's arm and the ground around his feet.  

"Michelle you bought "poppers" not fireworks! No wonder they wouldn't light - it's just string!"

We were laughing so hard I could barely breathe.  I ran into the house to grab a few more - we popped them in mom's honour - then we went for the back up plan - sparklers.  We lit the sparklers so we had one in each hand and waved them around spelling out my mothers name in the night sky - under the full moon.  

I took it as a sign/message  from mom  - not to be sad - to revel in the delights and surprises of our life. 

The next day I promptly cancelled my appointment with John Edward - his services no longer required. Okay so I made the last sentence up ... humour does conquer all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This year I might just be mistaken for Santa...

Who has a beard that's long and white?
Shipley has a beard that's long and white.

Who comes around on a special night?
Shipley's allergies come around almost every night.

Special Night/ Every night,
Beard that's white,
Must be Santa... er I mean... Shipley
Must be Shipley,  
Shipley Sorry Cause.

Who's got a great big cherry nose?
Shipley has a great big cherry nose.

Who has a big belly and a pregnancy glow?
Shipley has a big belly and a pregnancy glow!

Who laughs this way HO HO HO?
Shipley (stuffed up) laughs this way HO HO HO!

Ho! Ho! Ho!
Cherry nose!
Pregnancy glow!
Beard that's white!
Special/allergies every night!

Must be Santa,
Must be Santa,
Oh No!
Must be Shipley,
Must be Shipley,
Shipley Sorry Cause!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Reflection In A Store Window

Last week I rocked out my ultra stylish "Dark Wash Maternity Skinny Jeans." I tucked them into the black leather slouch boots carefully selected while shopping in Paris. I wore a long sleeve, long waisted fitted black top, a black scarf,  packed my huge green handbag full of food (a mainstay in my purse since becoming pregnant) and set out for a fine day of Christmas shopping.  

I felt beautiful!  I felt stylish.  I felt svelte. Yeah,  I said svelte. Like old yoga body me...and then I caught a reflection in a store window.  HOLY CRAP!  Who's hips are those?  I actually stopped and turned to look to see who was behind or beside me - clearly this could NOT be my reflection?  

There I stood - all by myself - staring into the department store window. 

Yes, that is MY reflection and those are my hips. I turn side profile - thankfully my ass was not wide - I was only growing belly forward and hips wider.  I  guess I don't look that bad I tried to tell myself as my self image and esteem dropped a few notches.  I hear the childhood chide "take a picture it lasts longer" coming from a voice inside my head.  Not today, no pictures of me today. I stood fixated unable to stop staring at the girl in the reflection in the window for a few minutes longer.   She really was me.

Well, so long as my ass and thighs do not grow out to meet the side of my hips - it won't be that bad, I tell myself.  Maybe,  if I keep getting wider I will have to staple a red flag on each hip like they do with lumber hanging out the trunk of cars on the highway to warn people to keep a wide birth. Maybe?  

I reach into my handbag for a granola bar, unwrap it and stare at it before taking a bite.   I vow to wear longer sweaters with these jeans - and bigger boots to offset the pear shape I was quickly becoming.  I can camoflage this with simple oversize accessories!    I vow that for the next week I am only going to teach leg strengthening,  hip and bottom slimming yoga postures in all my yoga classes.  It will be good for the students too, I tell myself...ulterior motives thinly veiled.  Removing my gaze from the window I carry on  with my  Christmas shopping, striking names off my list, forgetting about the window's reflection.  

On my walk home I passed another reflection in a store window. 

This reflection was not of me. The sun was in just the perfect position to remove the object from the frame leaving only a shadow. Standing in the right postion created a most beautiful relfection.  This one warranted a photo! 

The message was clear.  It didn't say,  "HELLO WIDE LOAD" it said "LIVE LOVE LAUGH." 

This time I snapped the photo and happily walked home. Live Love Laugh (no matter how wide your hips are).

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall (No longer stuffed in my laundry room)

I found this heavy solid wood mirror on clearance as it's frame was banged up.  I decided to take it home with me to distress and make good of it.

We had a can of primer kicking around so I gave it a coat.

The detailing in the wood is really pretty.

Let it dry over night and then took it to the workshop to sand it with a coarse paper.

Close up of the wood detailing - distressed version.

Taaaaaaa Daaaaaaaa

It now lives above the dining room fire place.

One more item off my: TO DO List. YAHOOOO!

Getting The House Ship-Shape B4 Baby P Arrives

House Hold To Do List:  Completed Items in Red

  1. Repair leather couch cushion (NEVER EVER BUY IKEA LEATHER)
  2. New glass for coffee table & curio
  3. Stain coffee table
  4. Ground Floor Master Bath - remove ugly paper add fresh paint (Thank You nephew Aaron for going to town on partial wall paper removal...very helpful!)
  5. Move File boxes of year's past tax papers to attic (Hold for 5 or 8 years?)
  6. Take stuff to Good-Will
  7. Grout upper bath -again! (I think I brushed too vigorously in some spots dad...)
  8. Mortar brick foundation
  9. Move suit cases to ground floor closet
  10. Buy shoe rack
  11. Wash kitchen windows
  12. Fix ice maker in fridge
  13. Paint & distress mirror put in dining room
  14. Replant flower boxes (Impatients died in frost last week)
  15. Repair the living & guest room's electrical (Look out wire chewing squirrels Mr. P is coming to get you pellet gun in hand.)
  16. Move area rug from dining room to living room