a wedding dress

About a year and a half ago, while in Costa Rica, we were involved in a community's effort to wed 3 couples. It was an incredible experience. Naturally, with all the wedding talk leading up the event we were asked to share photos of our wedding. The ladies oohed and awwed over my wedding gown. I found it rather interesting that 'the wedding dress' was so important in other cultures as well.

You see, I love my wedding dress. I love what it represents, who bought it for me, and who I wore it for.

I fondly remember the day we went searching for it. I was living in Winnipeg in an apartment on Stradbrook. My mom came into the city that day for one main purpose: To find the dress her only daughter would be married in. My two bridesmaids kindly joined us on the journey. I was ecstatic.

I quickly found out that there are A LOT of nice dresses out there. We found so many that I liked, it seemed the choice was going to be difficult. Until we found it. The One. I remember stepping out of the change room wearing what probably was the 30th dress of the day, and the room fell silent. I admit, I thought it was gorgeous too, but after seeing the price tag I wasn't planning on getting too attached. My mom got all teary, and I told her no, I wouldn't go for her spending more than what we agreed what was reasonable. The sales lady (witnessing this breath taking moment and a sale) quickly charmed in with a discount. I saw myself in the mirror, my mom's misty eyes, the looks on my bridesmaids' faces and knew. This was The One. Hands down. I loved it.

I still cherish pictures of when we went out and found it that day. Even more exciting was the dress fittings, and finally the day I got to take it home to my parents'. But, as we all know, the best day, the best day of my life, was when I wore it to marry Tom. I loved it.

Last year I traveled back to Costa Rica to visit some close friends. I was excited to learn that a granddaughter of Macha, our 'Costa Rican mother', was set to be married. I rejoiced with them. Then Macha, my beloved Costa Rican mother who I grew to love dearly, asked me one of the hardest questions I've ever had to answer. "Can we please use your dress for the wedding?"

You see, in Costa Rica, it's the family's responsibility to provide the wedding garments, food, decorations...The whole kit and caboodle for the wedding. And, not unlike here, it takes a lot of resources. Most families simply cannot afford to buy a wedding dress, so dresses are rented from families who could afford to purchase one. This family in particular, could not afford to purchase one. Even the cost of renting could be burdening.

"Can we please use your dress for the wedding?"

I must admit, a million excuses of why not ran through my mind. The cost of professional cleaning, the risk of shipping, potential problems at customs, the fact that it's in my parents' basement in another city (meaning I would have to ship it to Montreal first, then down to CR)... But I knew what the right, and only answer was. Because, seriously, it was sitting in my parent's basement, in another city. Surely, my beloved dress, purchased and worn in love, had a higher calling than THAT.

My mom brought it with her the next time she came to visit us in Montreal. And one day soon thereafter I finally mustered up the courage to walk it down to the post office. Not before taking a million pictures first, of course. Tears roll down my face as I boxed it up.

It was my prayer that the next bride (and every bride there after) would feel as beautiful in it as I did. May she be equally as blessed as I on her wedding day. And may my mother know in her heart that the dress she so sacrificially bought for me, not only made me feel like a princess on the best day of my life, but also gave that feeling to a young lady in Central America on her wedding day. I know this because the bride called me this afternoon (via Facetime of all things!) to tell me just that.


Recent happenings

We've been house sitting for the past while. Lovin' the AC and pool (it's been over 30 degrees for the past 2 weeks straight!) and extra room for visitors. My SIL and niece joined us here in Montreal for a week, and what a wonderful week it was! I love doing the tourist thing when friends and family come to town. I'm always blown away by how much Montreal has to offer. And the beauty of the city. Love it. Love visitors.

Jonathan is 4 and a half months old. Wow. He's mastered the art of rolling and starting to use it as a mode of transportation. This new mobileness has taken it's toll on our nighttimes. This too shall pass, right? ;) Looks like sitting may be next up on the milestone continuum!

There are some changes coming on the horizon of our lives. Nothing in stone yet, but Tom has taken the chisels out to put it there! If you're willing, please pray for guidance for us.

Also, it's Tom's birthday tomorrow :)


Babies make the world go'round

I heard some phenomenal news last week: A girlfriend of mine and her husband are expecting!!! I learned this around 10:00pm but couldn't fall asleep until well after 2:00... So many thoughts! So many memories of something we just experienced a few short months ago, yet at the same time forever ago.

Ah pregnancy... The nausea, the excitement, the unknown, the aches, the emotions, the experience of your clothes tightening around your belly. The comments from friends, the soft smiles from strangers. The 'overwhelmingness' of baby STUFF. There are s0 many unknowns (and the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don't know!)... But the one known, for sure, is that God entrusted you with a child. A teeny, tiny babe in your belly. And all you have to do is love, nourish, and protect it.


Some days

Some days, I am superwoman.

I am able to wake with a smile as I hear my little one stirring ready to start the day (even though I'm not quite as ready). I am able to balance the boy's needs with my wants of tangible domestic productivity. I am able to clean the apartment with an eco-friendly product I just whipped up, assist the boy with his naps, catch up with a girlfriend, and have a healthy meal on the table for when my hubby gets home from work. Some days.

Some days, I think I should resign.

I groan at the thought of getting out of bed, exhausted from the long night that just came to a close. I get frustrated when Johnny so desperately needs a nap but he's fighting sleep like there's no tomorrow. The tidiness of the apartment deteriorates as the day progresses. I look at the clock and realize my husband will be home from work in an hour and not only is there nothing to eat, I haven't even showered yet. Plus I missed 3 phone calls from my girlfirend. Some days.


Birth story - choose your own adventure!

I figured I better write this out before I forget how it all went down.

CAUTION - the following contains details you may not want to know. Although this version is Rated E for Everyone, remember it's still a birth story.... However, for those of you comfortable reading about the dilation of 'lady-bits', click here for the Full-Fledged Version it's relatively the same script but has a few more details.

The following is rated E for Everyone...

Our baby's due date was March 8th, 2011, but as detailed here and here, in early February we learned that there wasn't a whole lot of amniotic fluid left for our sweet boy. We were teetering on inducing early due to the dry conditions. When we went in for a scheduled ultrasound on February 28th, again with our hospital bags in the car, we learned that although the amniotic fluid 'guadg' still wasn't yet on empty, the obstetrician on duty didn't understan what our doctor was waiting for... The baby was doing well and full term. It was time to get the party started before that situation changed!

I was in disbelief. Before texting my mom I asked the doctor 3 times for confirmation that we weren't leaving without first having a baby. She laughed and told me over and over again that yes, two were checking in but three will be leaving. Tom got the bags from the car and did the paper work to get me admitted. I called my mother and alerted the rest of the troops with this teaser.

In natural labour, the human body goes through a few changes before things really get rolling. In our case, because I was going to be induced, they first needed to help my body ready itself for the coming event. They have things for that, but this is the short story so the details are spared. We spent the remainder of the day playing cribbage, watching "Bringing Baby Home" a Quebec video for new parents (Tom told the nurse that we were 'cramming', she laughed so hard!) and making a few phone calls. We were told to head to bed early in case the initial steps taken that day induced labour during the night. Someone should have reminded me that this was also the last time in a looooong time I would have the opportunity to sleep for 10 hours straight.

I had so many emotions - excited, a bit nervous, anxious, a bit nervous, excited - I blogged from my hospital bed to help sort them out.

I was wondering how in the world I would get to sleep with so much to think about... But God granted me the sleep I desperately needed, even with the screaming labouring woman in the room next to me who arrived too late to get her planned epidural... And I was ale to sleep???? God is good!

In the morning I took a shower and brushed my teeth. I opted for breakfast but they needed to order it so it would take a few minutes... In the mean time they started me on an induction drip (8:00am) at the lowest possible level (we'll call it 1 unit per hour) which was going to be increased every 20 minutes as needed until things got rolling. They informed me it usually takes about 12 hours, so be in for a loooong day.

Immediately after they started the drip, the mild cramps I had the night before intensified. As a 'favor' the doctor on duty (who was finishing her final rounds before heading home) decided to break my water knowing that her colleague may not show up for a few hours and she didn't want me not progressing all that much until after he arrived and broke it...

Immediately after THAT, the intensified mild cramps started getting ugly... Just around this time the nurse upped my drip to 2 units per hour (8:20am). Things started to really get intense and tears started flowing. I wasn't exactly crying, but water was pretty much pouring out of my face. Breakfast arrived but I was in no mood for eating (and THAT says a lot). It was time to start implementing some of those pain management techniques we learned about... Tom was AMAZING. Strong, confident, and so supportive.

We swayed. We implemented counter pressure. I breathed. We coped. And, when we could, we texted our mothers to let them know how things were progressing.

I asked our nurse when I should thinking about using some of the fun stuff, like the whirl pool, to help ease the pain of labour. You see, I wanted to plan my 12 hour day accordingly. She looked at me and said "Now. If you'd like." It was only 9:30am, and I reminded her we may be at this for 12 hours and I wanted to wait as long as I could before using these tricks to help... She looked at me and said that based on the way I was progressing, this probably was not going to take 12 hours.

So in the jet tub I went. It was GLORIOUS! The warmth, vibrating massage, and loud hum drove out most the contraction pains. I was doing it! I was labouring!!

Unfortunately, the nurse then said to me "If you were also thinking of getting an epidural, now's the time."


I hadn't even thought of that yet... But now it's all I could think about. Should I? Shouldn't I?? I told Tom that he was going to need a pretty big carrot (reward) to get me out of the tub...

Then the nurse came back to helpfully inform me "... That after you decide, I need time to call him and he needs time to get here."

Oh dear. Now the pressure was on.

I talked to Tom about it (in between contractions, that is) and although I was still coping really well (with his help) I was nervous about what was to come. There's this 'transition' part of labour that everyone talks about being so horrendous... I didn't want that! I had energy still, but was sure this was going to take a few more hours and I doubted I'd have energy left come the pushing part... So I decided to go for it and she made the call. I got out of the tub and headed back to my room.

Another nurse came in to my room and started giving me this awesome pep-talk about how far I'd made it already and that she thought I could do it! Really?!? I started to consider it... Then my original nurse informed me she had already made the call. Crap. I looked up to see a man standing in the doorway of my room. He had a bandana on his head and his arms were crossed. The slightly annoyed look on his face seemed to indicate that he was NOT going to come back - this is your chance, preggo, or you're on your own. Disappointedly, and under pressure, I said let's do it.

I must admit, sitting PERFECTLY still during excruciating contractions is not my cup of tea.

Then it was done, pain medication started and I was told it would take affect within a few contractions. Everyone left, except the nurse. She stayed to check how I was progressing and discovered I needed to get pushing!!

I kid you not, the epi didn't have time to fully take effect before Jonathan was even born.

The nurse called for the doctor and began scurrying around prepping the room for delivery. It was 10:50am. I was in disbelief. What happened to my 12 hour day I was planning? What if I wasn't exactly ready to become a mom?? Why are these people so convinced a baby was going to be arriving soon??!!?

In hindsight, the timing of the epidural was perfect - it took the edge off the pain of delivery but I still had feeling so I knew where/how to push. My nurse coached me through pushing (which is quite exhausting, really) and things - well, the baby, I guess - were moving along rather quickly. The doctor started to direct me on what to do but all I could think about what taking a little break. What's the darn rush about? It's only quarter after eleven!!

At 11:16am, Jonathan emerged from his mother and into this world.



Boston and Beyond

Last Wednesday after Tom came home from work, we packed up the car and headed out of town. He scored an extra day off for putting in some overtime a few weeks back and Friday (the 24th) was a holiday here in Quebec. So, yay for an extra long weekend!

First stop: Burlington, Vermont.

Burlington is only a short (2.5 hour) drive from Montreal and heading out in the evening meant we didn't have to drive through rush hour traffic in the morning or wait in line at the border with all the other Quebecers taking advantaged of the dollar at par and the long weekend. The evening went as planned, and we settled in to our first hotel room of the trip.

Thankfully, little Johnny is super cool and the change in sleep location didn't change his nightly wakings (read: still woke at 3:30am and 5:30am, sigh). I must say, having a king sized bed was awesome for co-sleeping! J's favorite place to sleep is nestled in beside me, which I try not to do too often. But for the sake of others in the hotel and to ease the transitions of traveling (yet again) I let the little guy stay after the 3:30am feed. I just love that kid.

Next Stop: Boston, Massachusetts

In the morning we had breakfast in bed, packed up the car and headed in to Boston (another 3ish hours of driving). We had heard from some of our favoritest friends in the world that Boston was a must see. And it was!

What a gorgeous city - super green - and it held some shops that were right up my alley.
The Diaper Lab was our first stop. What a find! The ladies there were super helpful and I scored big time on some slightly used cloth dipes that aren't available in Canada. I felt like a kid in a candy shop - I could hardly contain myself!! Tom got into it too... Showing me all sorts of finds around the store. He even exclaimed "This has got to be cutest diaper in the store!" (I love him so much ;)

When he was able to finally peel me away from there we were off to a children's consignemnt shop. Consignment shops for baby stuff is definitely one of my latest crazes. I'm telling you, these places are the best. Good condition, high quality products at a fraction of the price. We found a ring sling (something I was really hoping to come across!) for $15. I just love it. So does J. And so does Tom.

A baby wearing Tommy has got to be the sexiest thing ever.

Next up, Mexican for dinner and then checking into our downtown hotel... The Omni Parker House.

{Sidenote: Have you heard of hotwire? It's awesome. Great hotels for great prices. How else would we end up staying at a four start hotel for less than the price of a Super8? I must say, I also kind of dig the mystery aspect of it... You don't know which hotel you're getting until after you pay. Neat gig.}

We toured the downtown area during the evening and saw the harbour, the TD Garden (where the Boston Bruins play), Boston Common, the USS Constitution, and the beautiful downtown.

In the morning we took a walk to find a breakfast restaurant, saw some more of the city (including the Cheers bar!), then headed out of town to our next location: A major outlet mall.

We shopped for a few hours and after a late lunch, we took off to our furthest destination...

Next up: Cape Cod, Massachusetts!

After checking into our hotel, the Cape Codder Resort (another hotwire steal!) we headed off to Spanky's Clam Shack for some fresh lobster seaside! The place was crazy busy, and the lobster was fantastic.

I've never been to the north eastern seaboard before, and I must say, it was beautiful. The salty sea air, the ocean, the boats, the tourists... It was neat to see the blinking of the boats and flashing of the lighthouses across the dark harbour. Tres cool.

In the morning, Tom and I enjoyed a lovely breakfast via room service while Johnny surprised us by sleeping in.

It was L.O.V.E.L.Y! (Steal a date whenever you can!)

We toured the town and harbour some more then headed back north westerly, eventually making it to the state of New Hampshire, the home of Tom's cousin Allison.

She, and her family, are fantastic! I can't believe it's taken us nearly 4 years of living in Montreal to get our butts down there to see them (it's about a 3 hours' drive). We had a lovely evening with them and in the morning Allison made us a huge Scatliff breakfast spread (with fried tomatoes to boot!). Then we were off again, hitting up some consignment shops in Burlington before we, sadly, headed back over the border to home...

Neither Tom nor I wanted the trip to end (although both of us admittedly were ready to be home again ;).