Category Archives: General

Last chance for everything

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I’m into a new phase. I’m past that early acute grief. It took over two months for the shock to wear off…. for my brain and my heart to know that my mom and uncle were dead. In that time, every day I was constantly bombarded with, “Mom and Uncle Rob are dead? Mom and Uncle Rob are dead!” I was constantly wondering how this could happen, why it would happen. Though, of course, no good answers ever came to me.

Those early months felt like a dark, weighted cloud was sitting on me, pushing me down. I was split in two. A part of me wanted to feel joy again, to get past the pain. An equally strong part of me never wanted to feel any happiness again, wanted to stay in that pain. Staying in that pain felt almost like a way to make this not real. Like I would wake up one day to find out this had all been a terrible nightmare.

The weight of that dark cloud made it feel like grief was happening to me. I felt so out of control. As the weight slowly lifted, I was able to see that allowing the weight to lift didn’t make this any less horrible, sad, or tragic. It didn’t make me miss my mom or uncle any less. It didn’t mean that I loved them any less. It did give me some breathing room. I no longer feel like grief is happening to me. Now I feel like an active participant in my grief. I’ve established a small sense of control in what still feels like a chaotic and unsafe world. I feel like I’ve gained control over my grief work, setting aside time each day to work through whatever my mind and heart needs me to.

Right now I have two ways of being: deeply sad, angry, or anxious, or, distracted from sadness, anger, or anxiety. I am able to take interest in things, but it’s active and tiring, and I have to pace myself. I still don’t feel real happiness or pure joy. I smile and I laugh, but it’s smiles and laughter that are fragile, the pain just under the surface and threatening to break through at any moment.

The lifting of the weight has started to bring my memory back. For three months the accident acted as a broken sieve, holding back memories that I desperately craved. I wondered if my memories would ever return, despite the assurance from my grief counsellor that they would. It felt like my memories were just another thing that the universe was taking without my permission. Perhaps our bodies are designed that way to protect us from the massive pain that we surely couldn’t endure all at once. In particular, my mind craved the memory of the last time I had seen my mom and uncle, just a week before the accident. Despite my efforts, that visit had become a blur and no details were within my reach. The details are starting to come back. Though not complete, I remember a lot about that last visit now.

It was Thanksgiving. Madeleine and I spent the afternoon sitting on the floor of my parents family room, making beaded necklaces and bracelets. The last gift Maddy would give my mom. After Maddy lost interest, she asked my mom to help her find specific beads, whatever her favourite of the moment, all of the butterflies or all of the hearts. My mom joked with me that she’d be finding beads under her furniture for months (without doubt, after every visit I would get a text from my mom about her decorative marbles Maddy loved to play with, and all of the bizarre places my mom was finding them).

mom and maddy

Eric and my brother, Scotty, took Loki to the dog park. While they were out, Madeleine kept repeating to everyone, with incredible enthusiasm, “Welcome home!” Mom and I convinced Maddy that she should run to the door to say that to daddy and Uncle Scott when they got home. Alas, she forgot by the time they walked through the door.

We all sat together for dinner, dad taking one of his “table pictures”. Prior to the accident, my dad’s insistence on having the same photo at every family gathering was annoying. Today, I’m so happy we have that last photo together. I only wish my oldest sister and family were with us that weekend. After dinner, as usual, my family sat around the table chatting, nibbling on dessert and enjoying some drinks.

fam jam

Eric and I decided it was time for us to leave. Maddy had had enough and it was starting to show. We started pulling our things together. I kept getting side tracked, and by the time we were walking out the door, I hadn’t even really said a proper goodbye, yelling to everyone that we were leaving because Maddy was grumpalicious (and I was halfway to grumpy pants). As I walked out the door, my Uncle Rob called to me. I remember turning to him and letting out a huge, “Ugh!” I then apologized and said Maddy was freaking out and I needed to leave. His response, so clear in my head now, “I just wanted to give you a hug goodbye.” I went back in and gave him a hug and kiss. I can’t remember if I hugged my mom. As I walked to the door, my Uncle said he’d email me to set up a weekend to visit, hopefully in two weeks if we were free. That visit still sits in my brain… the visit that never happened.

While we were driving home, I called my mom. Madeleine was in total panic that we’d left a bag of chocolate at the house. Maddy wanted us to turn the car around, but Grammy assured her that she would save it for our next visit. She promised she wouldn’t let Grandpa eat it. I told my mom that Madeleine was crying because she forgot to say “welcome home” to daddy and Uncle Scott. My mom responded, “Better hope she doesn’t remember that we didn’t make purple play doh!” Every visit home, Madeleine would tell my mom what colour play doh she wanted to make, and they would make it. Maddy began to equate a visit at Grammy’s house with helping Grammy make play doh, and helping Grammy make everyone banana strawberry smoothies. A week earlier, we had called to let Grammy know that we felt like purple play doh next week. Madeleine never brought up the purple play doh. I don’t remember how that phone call ended. I like to believe that I told my mom I loved her, like I often did when we would hang up. I can’t be sure though.

We got home that night tired, and a bit grumpy, but it felt like every other visit. It didn’t feel like the last one. There were no signs that this was it, that I would never see my mom or uncle alive again. I didn’t know that the next time I would see them, they wouldn’t really look like themselves, they wouldn’t be smiling and laughing. They wouldn’t tell me that they wanted to give me a hug goodbye. I didn’t know that that was my last chance for everything.

Good friend, good book

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Last week I had an all-day visit with an old friend of mine, Ashley. We’ve known each other since we were young. I can’t quite remember how old we were when we met, but I very clearly recall attending a tea party birthday party at her house years ago.

After many years of friendship, her family conveniently moved into the house next door. As you can imagine, we were thrilled. It was particularly exciting because it was the year that she would be heading to the Catholic high school and I would be heading to the public high school.

Through high school, we spent a lot of time together (I mean, it was so easy being neighbours and all). We videotaped our trampoline routines, swam in her pool, painted our nails, put on fashion shows, and did what teenage girls do best: gabbed. We even worked as camp counsellors together during the summertime. Ashley squared made a lot of great memories together.

This recent visit was our first in a long time. It was so welcomed. It was particularly nice as our last visit was with our husbands (sorry, boys!). Sometimes girls just need some girl time. We picked up exactly where we left off: gabbing.

The first thing Ash did when she came into our house was hand me a gift bag. Inside were two super thoughtful gifts. A little vibrating pull-toy for Maddy that also has a rattle, crinkle, and a variety of textures (aka SPD-friendly). Maddy played with it for half the day, giggling when we’d put it to her cheek and make it vibrate. As soon as the vibrating stopped, Maddy would turn her head and rest her other cheek on it and wait for us to make it shake.

The second part of the gift was for me – an awesome book (should I really expect any less from a teacher and former Chapter’s employee?).

Sewing Clothes Kids Love is written by Nancy J.S. Langdon & Sabine Pollehn, and includes 10 full-sized patterns for adorable kids clothes – everything from shirts, to leggings, skirts, shrugs, jackets, dresses, and tank tops. All of the clothes are colourful and fun, and each has a skill rating. Mere minutes after dropping Ash off at the bus stop, I was perusing through the book and letting my creative juices flow while Eric fed Maddy dinner.

My favourite part of our visit was watching Ashley interact with Maddy. Early in the day Maddy seemed skeptical. She huddled close to me after she awoke from her first nap, but it didn’t take her long to warm up to Ashley. Eventually, she was approaching Ash with outreached arms, and climbing into her lap. It was so amazing to watch them interact with one another. Ashley came fully prepared having read about SPD online, and was tweaking games to be SPD-friendly. When Maddy was playing with empty bottles, Ash got up and filled one half-way with water to give it more resistance. Incredible!

Ash had Maddy smiling and giggling like nobody’s business. I’m pretty sure by the end of the day Maddy was fully convinced that Ashley was her new friend. Maddy sat patiently while Ashley tied kleenex around her arms and legs (of course, after Ash put one “bracelet” on, Maddy kept signing for more). In the car, Ash keyed up Maddy’s favourite Sesame Street video (thanks Aunt Lyndsay!) and introduced her to a new one. Ash awkwardly held her arm over the back of her seat so Maddy could see and hear the songs. Maddy is so obsessed with her favourite Sesame Street song that she fusses, points, and signs more when she hears in the music that the song is soon ending. Ashley quickly solved that by putting the song on loop.

All in all, one fabulous day. An incredible friend, an incredible book (thanks again!). I’ll leave you now with another of Maddy’s favourite tunes.

Mothers make the world go ’round

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I feel so happy and blessed to be celebrating my very first Mother’s Day. I know I have expressed the sadness, frustration, and anger I have often felt in these last almost-11-months, but today, I couldn’t be happier.

I recently saw this youtube video, a song a to-be-daddy wrote about his unborn child. It’s just beautiful, and fitting for a day like today:

To Madeleine, thank you for making me a mommy. I love your sweet smile, your soft giggles, and your love for Loki. I love how you sit with your ankles crossed. I love that you have your daddy’s ears, and his long eyelashes. I love that you slyly smile at me and shake your head no as you head straight for Loki’s water bowl, or the recycling bin. I love that when you sign ‘more’ and we give you more, you smile and clap for yourself because you are so proud that we understood. I love how you scrunch your little nose up and sniff loudly, and then giggle when we do it back to you. I love that your new thing is to try to pass things from one hand to the other behind your back…. and how persistent you are even though you’ve never successfully done it. I love that when I walk into a room you smile and giggle and start bouncing up and down with excitement. I love your chubby legs and bright eyes. I love you.

I can’t say your birth was an awe-inspiring moment. Frankly, I was terrified. But, the moment I saw you I started to cry. You were the most perfect little being I had ever laid my eyes on.

Our first family photo

We’ve had our challenges, but being your mommy is the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. Thank you for showing me what I’m made of. Thank you for teaching mommy and daddy the true meanings of unconditional love, patience, and strength. You have taught us so much in your short little life.

7 days old

Now, although this is my first Mother’s Day I am so lucky that I have been able to celebrate this day with my mom for 29 years, and my mum for 5 years.

Mom & Mum

To my mom, thank you for your unconditional love. You have always been there for me, whether it be after a tough day at school as a child, or a tough day as a mom. You have taught me how to love and how to be loved. Most of all, you have taught me how to be a mom. I can only hope that I can do half as good a job as you have done.

To my mum, thank you for welcoming me into your life as if I had always been there. I can feel your love and support in all the ways you have helped me over the past 5 years. I know that I can count on you during the toughest times. You raised who I think is the most perfect man around, and have given Madeleine an amazing daddy. I couldn’t have asked for a better Mum.

To all the other new and experienced mom’s out there – thanks for making the world go ’round.

Finally, to all of the expecting mommy’s, I leave you with this video:

Book Delivery!!!

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Look what came in the mail yesterday:

This book is written by Dana from MADE. I’ve been drooling about reading it ever since she posted about it. I just love all of her tutorials (see posts herehere and here). They’re all so clear and easy to follow – perfect for a newbie sewer like me. I can only imagine what kind of goodie secrets she has hiding in this book. I can’t wait to dig into it!

Moving sew slowly

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You’ve probably noticed my sewing frequency has decreased. I do have a project on the go…

But I’ve been spending most of my free time reading about sensory processing disorders, trying to understand how it manifests in Madeleine. Every day I’m learning and understanding more.

For instance, today, despite having a fantastic start to the day, Maddy woke from her morning nap in a rather rotten mood. After trying a bunch of stimulation techniques, nothing seemed to be working. So, I started analyzing. What had changed since her nap? Then it hit me – I had gotten her dressed for the day (where previously she’d been wandering around in a onesie). We already know she has some tactile issues (pants, cloth diapers, playing on carpets) and we know that often kiddos with tactile sensory issues struggle with the feel of different fabrics or tags on their skin. I promptly took of her clothes, left her in her onesie (and blared some extra loud music for some auditory stimulation). Guess what? It worked! She’s not in the best mood I’ve ever seen, but she’s not as miserable, and to me, that’s a win.

Today I will celebrate the success of having figured out what was bothering Maddy. This is a huge step for our family. We are learning, slowly but surely. I am spending less energy being annoyed and frustrated with Maddy’s behaviour and instead I’m understanding it and taking some constructive steps to help her. It’s a happy day indeed.

I’ll get back to the sewing room one day… until then, you can expect more Maddy posts.

11 Questions from Lyndsay

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Lyndsay over at Who wants to be Martha when I can be me? tagged me. This is my first time joining into something like this, so here I go.

The rules:

  1. Post these rules.
  2. Post a photo of yourself and 11 random things.
  3. Answer the questions set for you in the original post.
  4. Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
  5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them.

Here I am in 2008 (at my bachelorette party) with two of my fave ladies ever – my sisters Kristy & Lindsay

11 Random Things: 

  1. I live in Woodstock in a 105 year old two-storey red brick house with my best friend and husband, Eric, our daughter Madeleine, and our beagle Loki.
  2. I think that laughing until you cry is one of life’s best medicines.
  3. I grew up dancing competitively and still miss it every day.
  4. I don’t know what I’d do without my family. I know I can count on them for anything. Additionally, I have been blessed with some amazing friends who I know are always there for me.
  5. My husband, Eric, got me obsessed with Myers-Briggs. I think part of the reason our relationship works so well is because we both took the time to understand the other’s personality profile. Both of our profiles are bang on (I’m an INFP and he’s an INTP).
  6. I’m an idealist. I struggle sometimes fitting the real world into the world I imagine or think should be. Because of this, most of my day is spent inside my head. I daydream for probably 85% of each day. Sometimes my daydreams are so real that I can’t remember if they really happened or not. I call them my vivid daydreams, and I usually have one or two that are recurring for long periods of time.
  7. I am constantly wondering what the meaning of life is, what it means to live a good life, and how I’m meant to use my talents to make this world a better place. Some days I feel like I’m on the right track, and other days I feel like I can’t even see the tracks.
  8. I’ve felt misunderstood for the majority of my life. There are only a handful of people in my life that I think truly get me.
  9. I have a really hard time relating to and understanding people with black and white thinking, because I think on a grey scale. Sometimes this causes me to defend a position more strongly than I normally would, because the rigidity of the opponent infuriates me. I feel the most relaxed around someone who acknowledges that not everything in life is so cut and dry. Eric laughed so hard when I read this to him… that’s how true this is.
  10. I think we should all pay more active attention to complimenting and encouraging other people. A world where we all support one another and feel comfortable enough with ourselves to be able to identify strengths in others sounds perfect to me.
  11. I feel blessed when I think about what I’ve been given in life.

11 Questions from Lyndsay:

1.  Why do you blog?

I originally started blogging so that it would give me some motivation to start new sewing projects. I’m loving the human connection that it gives me. In particular, I have connected with so many mothers who understand my current situation, and that experience has been invaluable.

2.  What have you made in the past year of which you are most proud?

I think I’m most proud of my first outfit for Maddy, especially since my first clothing attempt wasn’t exactly a success.

3.  Where do your best ideas come from?

The internet (pinterest, etsy, other blogs), magazines, and sometimes just seeing something in a store I want but know I can sew or knit myself. As a new sewer though, other blogger’s tutorials are my go-to.

4.  What’s your favourite background noise while crafting?

Hmmm… prior to Maddy it would’ve been TV or movie in the background. Nowadays I cherish the silence during her naps and keep it that way 🙂

5.  Why do you craft?

Finishing a project is so satisfying. As a current stay at home mom it also gives me some alone time to collect my thoughts, and feel like me (instead of just Maddy’s mom – as fabulous as that is).

6.  What’s your favourite hangout spot?

I’m not sure I exactly have a favourite hangout spot… but I love being outdoors: camping, hiking, walking, biking, you name it!

7.  If you could pack up and go anywhere right now, where would you travel?

So many places!! I’d love to be able to head to South Africa this summer for Eric’s cousin’s wedding. Additionally, the places that have been at the top of my list for years are Iceland and the Galapagos Islands. I hope one day I’m lucky enough to see the Blue Lagoon and a blue-footed booby.

8.  What book is next on your list of things to read?

I’m a bit boring right now. Currently working through Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorer by Lucy Jane Miller Ph,D., OTR. The next two to follow are No Longer A Secret: Unique Common Sense Strategies for Children with Sensory or Motor Challenges by Doreit S. Bialer and Lucy Jane Miller, and The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder by Carol Kranowitz. Just to balance this out, I’m also in the middle of reading Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares 😉

9.  Coffee, tea, or cola?

I have a sick obsession with Pepsi that I’ve been working on for years with no success. But, I also love, love, love herbal teas and drink at least two a day. I despise coffee… unless it is in the form of Coffee Crisp or an Iced Capp with chocolate milk in it…. mmmmmm.

10. Five years from now, do you think you’ll still be blogging?

I hope so!

11. Which blogs do you read most regularly?

I follow a lot of blogs… but most regularly it’s gotta be my sister Lindsay’s delicious food blog, and my sister-in-law Lyndsay’s crafty blog. I also frequent Oh She Glows for yummy vegan recipes, MSPI mama for yummy milk/soy-free recipes, Gluten Free Gobsmacked for yummy gluten-free recipes, Bloom Photography for my newborn fix, and MADE, Vanilla Joy, and Made by Rae for sewing projects and tutorials.

My 11 Questions:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What do you think is the hardest part of blogging? Easiest?
  3. What is the one craft skill you’ve always wanted to learn but haven’t yet?
  4. What project did you learn the most from?
  5. What is your biggest (and most humorous) project failure?
  6. What one place have you travelled that you would recommend to others?
  7. What was the most breathtaking view you’ve seen?
  8. What’s your favourite book?
  9. What song affects you the most?
  10. What was your first concert?
  11. What is your comfort food?

I’m tagging:

  1. Ashley’s Thrifty Living
  2. Read Write Sew
  3. Bella Bambina Knits
  4. Christina Purls
  5. Myfavouritecolour

Sew pretty!

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I am obsessed with fabric. OBSESSED.  I recently received some fabric in the mail that I had ordered from The Intrepid Thread.  I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with it, but I just thought it was so beautiful I couldn’t resist buying it.  I just adore the colours.

Peaceful Pagoda

It took me a few days, but I decided what to use it for, and started a new project on the weekend.  Lucky me, I had a little helper on Sunday.

I can’t wait to share the finished product with you!