Annual date

Every year I watch the Oscars. Every. Year. I’m an Oscar junkie.

I love the fashion. I love the gossip. I love the speeches. I love the thank-yous. I love the snubs. I love the surprises. I love the music. I love the arguing with the cut-off music.

Oscar Dresses

It’s this Sunday – will you be watching?

~ Julia

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Try, try, and try again

I have no self confidence.

And yes, this is a confession.

This is a very negative trait that I am trying to overcome so I can be a better person, a better sister, a better friend, a better girlfriend, and a better me. Let me explain.

I am the last sister, and while this gave me a very different view of the world, it also put my sisters on levels I still don’t think I could ever reach. I feel like they are always right, and I am always lacking, and this is NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES me blaming my sisters. I love my sisters, but I feel like they are very different from me and better people than I could hope to be.

I worry and panic over every decision. I literally put myself into a panic attack because I am worried about not living up to the expectations that I have put into my brain. I just constantly see myself in a negative light, and I am always putting myself down. And I feel especially inadequate next to my amazing sisters.

Here is how I see it:

Julia is a warrior. She is only one of my role models. She is fighting for her happiness. She is such an amazing and charismatic person, and she is helping OTHER PEOPLE fight as well. In my mind, Julia is the head of the sisters, and the head of the world. She doesn’t just want to succeed, she wants everyone to! That is an amazing thing.

Next role model is Toni. Toni is passion. When I see Toni, it is…I have no words. She is like our driving force. She wants us to succeed. She always pushes forward and helps other people push forward too. And makes you stop and look at what isn’t working and then she helps you through it by reminding you of your strength, and your… I just have to say it, inner tigeress. She is amazing and incredible in her passion, and I wish I had some of that bottled when I get down on myself.

Jacqueline was my childhood best friend. In school, no matter what friend tried to be friends with me just to get to her, she wouldn’t let them and she wouldn’t be friends with them. She always tried her best to be my big sister when I was in high school, she has saved my life in more ways than one, and she stopped me from making the stupidest decisions when I was growing up. She is of course another role model because Jacqueline is just plain STRONG, and really, Toni was right, hilarious! I don’t think I could have gone through what she has gone through, and be so amazingly funny and happy and strong. She could probably face a huge a** mountain, like Everest, get slightly frustrated at climbing it, and just say, “Screw that, let’s do this.” And then hike the freaking thing in an afternoon.

If you’ve ever met these women you will understand what I mean. They are three fierce, amazing women, and I got to grow up after all of them. I feel small and unsure, and just weak under the most normal of situations. I am constantly worrying if I am a good enough person to be in anyone’s life, and that is something I want to change.

I don’t take compliments well, and I don’t believe them IF I accept them…but I want to try. I want to see what other people think of me in a positive light, and I want to be able to understand it. That is the goal I guess, that we are understood, or that we understand. I went on the Book of Faces and asked my friends and family on there to tell me something positive about me. I was overwhelmed. I had/have no clue how I can be this amazing person to so many people, but feel almost worthless to myself. I am trying to see what these incredible people in my life think of me and how I can start to see myself like that… Like I said, I am trying.

Here is what some awesome and loving people said about me:

Julia: “Creative. Kind. Awesome.”

Jess: ” You make anyone’s bad day better. Amazing person. Great personality. A rock to those in need of stability. Crazy (in a good way). Insanely missed. You give everything your all and expect little to nothing in return.”

Daniel: “A refreshing personality that makes the whole world brighter without contributing to global warming.”

Amber: “Funny, outgoing, great personality, good friend.”

Steph: “A truly unique person who has had to overcome many hardships in life but always finds the time to be there for those who need your support and understanding. Or in short, my personal therapist for over a decade.”

Joe (my Boy): “The most wonderful person in my life.”

Jamie: “You’re beautiful.”

Elena: “I don’t know what I would do without her. She makes me feel calm and safe when I am with her, despite our crazy and exciting adventures!”

Cathy: “Always there when you need someone to talk to no matter what time it is.”

Betty (my Aunt): “Loving, wonderful, strong, beautiful, brave, and adored by all.”

Sam: “Always up for a good time! Full of energy!”

Kate-Lynn: “Two things that always stand out to me: 1. Despite your own sadness, you will always go out of your way to make someone else smile. 2. You make friends everywhere (in every store) simply by smiling and asking how they are. Then I make friends just standing beside you.”

Christine (my Mommy): “Absolutely awesome!”

Susan (my Cousin):  “You are an amazing survivor who brings sunshine on a dull and rainy day. One heck of a photographer and a truly good person. That is why I love you so much.”

Eshaani: “You are a great listener- you tend to soothe people’s pains away and help them reach a decision when their head is a mess.”

Alex: “You are incredibly strong and beautiful.”

I am making it my personal mission to remember all of these positive things people think about me and try to remember that I am a good person. Now go hug your loved ones and tell them something awesome about them – they might just need it.

~ Andreah

Here’s the short of it

Dear Readers,

I am going to share something with you, our lovely followers, that not a lot of you know, and I hope that most of you will continue to follow us and read us after I share it with you…because it’s a big one! A doozy. It’s HUGE!

I am short! Legally, by definition, I am short. The average height of women in Canada is 5’3.4″ and since I am below average, I am short. In my family I am not the only one – Julia and I share our special bond by being lower on the totem pole, if you will. Who is taller you may ask? Well, due to a pact I made some years ago, Julia is much taller than myself.

Please do not cry for me, do not fret, for I am a survivor and I can survive this. Let me tell you why I can survive this – it’s because I do not care!

For example, my nephew Joey, God love him, enjoys pointing out my vertical deficiency every time I see him, always reminding me that he is still growing and I am not, and one day he will be as tall or taller than me. Thanks buddy. If it wasn’t for you, then I would be lost in a sea of lies, still holding onto a glimmer of hope that some day, when I grow up, I will be taller.

For those of you who share my “less than average” stature, let me tell you how I managed to cope (we can do this together!).

I started to look at the world in a better light when I thought of all the things that were to my advantage by being petite.

Bath tubs – How many tall people can enjoy a bath with all their limbs settled below the water in a COMFORTABLE manner? Not a whole lot. No matter where I live, or go, I can sleep a little better knowing that if a bath tub is available, then a bath is always possible! Tell me my long-legged friends – is this possible for you?

Heels – Whenever Cody and I go anywhere, date nights, weddings, parties, what EVER it may be, I will always have the option to wear the most ridiculous heels in the world if I want to. Because I am short, I will never be taller than my love, and he will never feel shorter than me!

Clearance – Although I have not been on a plane in my lifetime, the one common complaint that I know of is the lack of leg room. Since I am of the below-average type, I will never have this issue. I will forever be able stretch my gams. Oh the luxury! Also in the same category of clearance, I have never had to slouch to be in a room – there’s no hunch back here!

Forever young – There are no special creams, regimes, pills, or tricks up my sleeve for my youthful appearance, oh no! At least not for now. At my ripe young age of 24, I am constantly asked to verify my age when I purchase beverages of the adult kind, or even when I buy tickets to an 18A movie. As much as I would love to blame it on my youthful good looks, I will have to give credit it to my child-like height.

Although it may seem that my list is quite…short, I assure you that I am completely aware of my “limitation” and do not find it something to be ashamed of – I am short and I am proud of it!

So please friends, next time you find yourself beside someone of the petite stature, and that incredible urge starts to bubble up from within, try your hardest to refrain from advising me of my situation, please keep in mind that I am more than aware, and I am loving every inch of it!

short

~ Jacqui

Mama is always studying

Among the sisterhood, we have noticed quite the trend with our mama.

We hear about it when we want to plan a family event, set a wedding date, or need her help with something. It’s not something that is necessarily new; however it is something that has caught our attention, is becoming more frequent, and makes me incredibly proud of her.

Mama is always studying!

Known to some of you as Christine, our mom has always been an amazing example of a strong-willed, smart, determined and independent woman.

Growing up, I remember Mom worked hard to maintain a household, raise her daughters right (and in turn, deal with all of our sass), and support our entrepreneurial father any way she could with the family business. Helping our dad run their own company was not always the easiest task – she functioned as a Jill of all trades by balancing the books, completing payroll, managing HR, being the receptionist and overall customer service provider. While she had originally completed her college diploma as a Medical Office Assistant, she has always been a natural with numbers and has dedicated the majority of her professional life to accounting.

When our family experienced a tragedy that caused our parents to have to make the difficult decision of closing down the family business, my non-papered, well-trained accounting mother had to figure out what she wanted to do to help support our family. While she had years of experience to back her applications, she lacked the education to back her know-how. As God always provides for us at just the right time, Mom soon landed a temp job, which turned into a 15-year stint with a local church head office in the accounting department.

Being the incredibly hard worker she is, Mama quickly established herself in a role that would allow her the chance to do something she has always wanted to – go back to school and complete her CGA designation.

Mama began chipping away at her courses in 2005 and being witness to her dedication and drive is incredible. Regardless of the hiccups and setbacks she has had to overcome to continue in her pursuit, she has never second guessed her desire to reach her goal. Watching her push through some of her life’s biggest struggles and continue with her education is what inspired me to decide on a college diploma and apply for school.

mama and me date night

Mama and me date night

We often hear, “I can’t come for long, I have to study” from her when our über busy and event-filled family gets together. We chide her, and may jokingly roll our eyes when we hear it, but I think it’s safe to say that we all smile with pride at the thought of her driving hard toward her goals and being so close to watching her complete her diploma and then degree. I will most definitely be a mess of tears watching her walk at both of these occasions.

She wrote her insane-o External Auditing exam yesterday afternoon – I know she nailed it, but I’m sure she’s eagerly anticipating her results. As she told me the other day, “It’s a lot of work, but I see the light and it’s a good one.”

Mama – you are a super star in this sisterhood’s eyes.

~ Toni

Meant to be

Do you believe in fate?

Or do you believe that when things fall into place, it’s simply happenstance, coincidence, or serendipity?

I fully believe that things not only happen for a reason, but that the timing is always perfect.

I don’t believe that it’s fate and obviously I’m anti-coincidence. I’m a firm believer that God ensures things happen when they’re supposed to. 

This is not always an easy thing to do.

It’s hard for people who don’t believe in a higher power to accept that there’s something bigger guiding things from above, or below, or over there. It’s tricky to hang on and have faith when everything is falling apart and nothing feels like it’s going to work out. And for people who are very logical and want everything rooted in something tangible, this idea is impossible. It can not and does not exist.

But for me, it’s what’s true.

Examples of this, of God’s hand working hard for me, have made themselves apparent very recently.

The first one is pretty easy to see why I would believe that God is making sure myself and my family are being cared for.

One of the sisters, Toni, lost her job in November. This in and of itself is not a great moment. In fact, some would argue that this is a crappy circumstance, and God is certainly not behind it or if He is, He’s a meanie. She’s not a millionairess (yet) and she needs her job. But, shortly after losing her job, my baby Isaac got sick. He was so sick that he had to be hospitalized for three days. My husband, Ben, had already used up all of his vacation time, so taking time off work would have been unpaid time. Toni was able to step in and be me for those few days, taking care of my home while I was taking care of Isaac in the hospital. That was divine intervention.

She still doesn’t have a job, which again might be construed as even jerkier, but in truth she’s saving me by helping me every day with my babies while I recover from postpartum depression again. It’s not great for her bank account, but the love I’m receiving is priceless.

The second example is a bit more convoluted, and the naysayers (such a biblical word) and doubters (another one!) would argue that this is complete nonsense, but bear with me.

My friend Jill is a superb Tupperware lady. Through Tupperware, she met a fabulous travel agent guru, Emily. Emily goes to church with an incredible woman named Laura, who runs her own Stampin’ Up business. Jill and I both know Paula, another awesome woman, and she asked Laura to put on a card-making party for her (so. much. fun.).

The night of that party, which happened two Christmases ago, was nothing out of the ordinary. When you’re a woman of a certain age, direct sellers target their parties directly at you. When you’re a stay-at-home mom, you are drawn to the idea of getting out of the house simply for the the potential of adult conversation.

But that night, I felt as though Laura was a kindred spirit to me. Have you heard of this idea? A kindred spirit? The best example that I can think of is Anne Shirley and Diana in Anne of Green Gables.

They are people just like you, whose heart beats like yours and whose outlook matches yours and when you look at each other you think, “I get her (or him)”. That happened for me and Laura that night. We are kindred spirits.

Fast forward more crafting opportunities, more conversations that proved we were in fact kindred spirits, and it’s today. Today I am broken. Today, my brain needs love and care and rest and help. And today I’m enrolled in a bible study with Laura. She invited me and it’s two hours in the middle of the week at her church where I get to sit and think and be with God and ponder Him.

Last week we studied Psalm 3, which is all about the strength and protection and help of God. Verses 3 and 4 really stuck out for me:

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill.

Now, you might say that of course we liked each other since we both go to church and of course it would be natural that Laura would invite me to a bible study. Of course.

But it’s so much bigger than that. It’s the perfect storm of circumstance, created and curated by the big guy in the sky that made it so that I could go and sit in a room full of women and pray with my kindred spirit Laura when my heart would be hurting. It’s got Him all over it.

So as we plod along, day by day, keep your eyes open for moments of fate or kismet, or serendipity or God. Because even the smallest ones can lead to the biggest comfort.

Or maybe it’s all just coincidence.

~ Julia

Yours, mine and ours*

*I originally wanted to title this post as Yours (the Xbox), mine (the books) and ours (at last!), but my awesome editing sister changed it.

So, I have just moved into a new apartment alone with the boy, Joe. And the first night I was laying in bed next to him I realized: I have never lived alone with one person, a significant other, ever before.

I have done the living on my own with strangers for college, and then living on my own with friends, and then I did the moving back into my mom’s house thing. Then in a slightly awkward turn, Joe and I lived at my mom’s house, after a minor upset with his roommate, and then another slightly awkward turn when we moved to, what I affectionately call, The Land of the Snow, where we moved in with Joe’s mom.

Now we have our own apartment and it is strange. Not a bad strange, not at all – I love the fact he comes home and I can meet him at the door with a kiss and a hug. I love the fact that there is actually a place for all of our stuff, and it’s all ours!

I’ve never had an OUR before!

Now tell me, my sisterhood, when does it stop feeling surreal, and turn into real? I still have a floating feeling that we didn’t do this, we didn’t come up with first and last in so little time, we couldn’t have possibly moved everything in a weekend and set it up in a week, and now have an apartment that’s all ours! It had to have happened to some other people.

I’m going to try to stop questioning this and go straighten up our kitchen. Hope you all are having the best of Thursdays!

~ Andreah

Reflecting: 27’s lessons

Last week, I did something I have been wanting to do and have been anxiously anticipating for a very, very long time.

I turned 28.

Celebrating at Dad's with my nephew

Celebrating at Dad’s with my nephew

The way I look at it, getting older (not old), aging (gracefully, of course), and taking another trip around the sun are the blessings of another year of opportunity for growth and nothing to be worried or stressed out about. I look forward to my birthdays more now than I did when I was younger and as cheesy as it sounds, I am truly finding that life – and myself in a way – keeps getting better with every kilometer in said yearly trip.

There are many things that I have learned, gained and experienced in my preceding years that I am thankful for, struggled through, fought hard for and am blessed to have. Some of the challenges brought by my 27th year in particular could safely categorize it as a hard one and definitely not one of my favourites, but there were SO many amazing highlights, people added, friendships improved, and forgiveness granted that I can’t bring myself to curse 27 for any of the bruises as a result of the hiccups.

I’m starting to get the sneaking suspicion that there is a direct correlation between the toughness of the year and the quality of the lessons to be learned when you’re looking for them. That being said, 27 abundantly blessed me with a few, very specific lessons, arming me with some pretty kick-ass knowledge for 28 and the next chapter of my life:

  • Come clean when you mess up. You’ll be surprised how much forgiveness the hearts that love you are capable of granting. Even more amazing, is that when someone overlooks your shortcomings, it teaches you a lesson in humility to apply when other people mess up with you.
  • Stay open. Stay open to new experiences, relationships, people that come into (and depart from) your life, career opportunities (no matter how they turn out…), lessons about God/the type of faith you are capable of, and the continuous exploration, play, and being in the ‘now’. Stay open to it all.
  • Be grateful. No matter what was experienced in this past year, if I took a step back to reflect, in every disappointment there absolutely was always something to be grateful for. Sometimes the gratefulness is harder to maintain if a few heartaches pile on all at once; however gratitude is necessary to keep perspective when it gets overwhelming. If anything has saved my ass and sanity, this lesson would be it.
  • Quality wins over quantity. Every time. This goes for the friendships/relationships you choose to have, to the food you eat and fuel your body with, the encounters and moments you have with the people that matter most to you, right down to your workouts, fitness and health. I have become hyper aware of this quality lately in one friendship in particular – it doesn’t matter if we see each other for 5 minutes, or 5 hours, if we see each other once a week, or once in 105 days – every hang out leaves my heart full and looking forward to the next time our crazy lives allow us time to get together. Regardless of whether we’re just going along for the drive to keep each other company, or laughing and talking about all of life’s adventures over drinks – it’s all about the quality and it leaves me wanting the same in every aspect of my life. This is one of my favourite lessons of 27.

I am so excited for 28 and 2014 as a whole. In our inner circle it has appropriately been coined ‘the year of love’ – totally fitting in so many ways. Babies, weddings, celebrations galore!

My man surprised me with suite tickets to the Toronto Raptors game!

My man surprised me with suite tickets to the Toronto Raptors game!

I had an incredible birthday this year and am looking forward to a killer 28! Cheers to the year of love!

~ Toni

Strength in defeat

I’m calling uncle.

I’m waving the white flag.

I’m giving in.

But let me be clear – I’m not giving up.

I’ve been struggling for the past couple of weeks. More than the usual struggle of three-kids-under-five. More than the usual infant-induced-sleep-deprivation struggle. More than the let’s-strap-a-15-pound-baby-on-you-and-drag-a-25-pound-preschooler-in-a-sled-for-forty-minutes-in-the-cold-twice-a-day struggle.

It’s the struggle of postpartum anxiety, depression, and the one that we hate to name, cringe to admit, are scared to talk about (because it’s scary before, after, and when it happens) rage.

The signs have been there for a little bit, but I’m reaching the point where the bad days, bad moments, bad hours are starting to blob together, where there’s little reprieve and few good, solid, confident moments.

My spirit isn’t bouncing back so easy, as if it’s as stretched out as my four-times-pregnant-three-times-c-sectioned belly. It is faltering, falling, slamming into the ground and taking forever to get back up. It needs some rest, some love, some care, and a break.

But that’s the trouble with the postpartum period. It’s filled to the brim with to-do tasks, with obligations, with needs that aren’t yours but are necessary to meet. It’s not an empty chasm ripe with opportunity for healing and restoration. Oh, if only it were.

So, I’m doing what I know is right and good and helpful.

I’ve called my therapist. She’s lovely. I’m looking forward to working with her on this, even though I’m SO angry I’m here again.

I’m asking for help. I even pulled a sister-favour from Jacqueline and Toni on Toni’s birthday.

I’m working on rest and quiet. These things are a rare commodity for any parent of young children. Young children do not, as a rule, sleep well or long, and are the loudest, most high energy creatures. Ever.

I’m going to up the exercising, because as we all know from Elle: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”

And I’m admitting it out loud, because I know there are so many moms out there struggling, or who have struggled, or who don’t know what is happening to them, who are praying for an answer or a miracle. I’m letting you know I’m with you, in the trenches, again, fighting, again, for what should rightfully be ours ‘naturally’. And it’s okay that we’re here. And it’s normal. And there’s hope. And we can do this.

Promise.

Because not only have I suffered through this twice, I’ve also beat the crap out of it twice.

So bring it on, postpartum mood disorders. Bring. It. On.

I’m ready to kick your ass again. After this nap.

Never giving up

~ Julia