Mother-runner

According to my mother’s lore about my childhood, my first steps were not timid or slow. Allegedly, I ran across the basement at my grandparent’s house a few times. And then realized I was running. And then I sat down. But the first steps were running strides. I kind of love that. Because I kind of love running.

My affair with running has been an on-again-off-again relationship spanning my entire life. In grade 1, I joined the cross country team at school and loved it. I was never as good as the girl who came from an Olympic legacy (no, seriously), but I loved it. When I switched schools in grade 4, I joined that cross country team. Again, not the fastest or the best, but still in love. In high school, other things took my attention – grades, clubs, meetings, student associations and choosing church over everything (if there was a meet or practice on a Wednesday night when we had church services, then it was an automatic no-go). Also, high school started to care how fast I was. And joining that cross country team meant talking to a bunch of new people since my best friend at the time didn’t love running and I was easily swayed (damn peer pressure). So I quit. And got bigger and more sedentary.

Then university came. In the beginning, I didn’t join any athletic anything, nor did I take advantage of the free gym pass given to every student. I was stupid. But busy. Again. Busy being lonely and studying and trying to keep my head above water.

I was a Chapters-girl, going to the bookstore/coffee-shop for fattening drinks and quiet-yet-not-alone study time. And sometimes, shockingly, I would browse books.

Okay. So maybe it was all the times.

During one of those browsing sessions, I came across the The Complete Book of Running for Women by Claire Kowalchik, and I would flirt with the idea of buying it. And then the flirting turned serious and not only did I buy it, I brought it home and I read it. Cover-to-cover read it.

This book gave me so many things and is the backbone of my adult running. It taught me how to pace myself using my breath, it explained sports bras (for someone who has boobs but had never really exercised, this was important and new information!), it taught me how to tie my shoes (no, seriously), it gave me motivation, and it gave me an easy-to-follow 10-week training plan that would get me from thinking about running to running continuously for 30 minutes. In short, it was (and still is) magic.

So I did it. I ran faithfully four times a week for those 10 weeks, and it worked: I ran for 30 minutes continuously with Ben (my then-boyfriend *swoon*). It was completely awesome.

And then I just stopped. Because that’s where my training program ended and I didn’t have anyone but me to stay motivated or anything to work towards. I let it go. For a really long time.

I got married to my dreamy boyfriend, worked, had a baby, worked some more, had another baby, stopped working out of the home, and had a miscarriage. My heart was broken, Oreos were my best friend, and I was the heaviest I’ve ever been. I was the saddest I’ve ever been.

This was right around the time that Jacqui, Toni and I started going to a bootcamp together. At the time when I needed something to do, something that wasn’t about babies or dead babies or marriage or dishes or laundry, when I needed something just about me, it was the perfect fit. And after the miscarriage, it gave me an outlet that wasn’t wrapped up in refined sugar and carbs to kick misery’s ass.

Part of my recovery after our miscarriage was that bootcamp and rekindling my love for running. It included Ben putting together a 5K run, complete with signs and certificates, for me and my family and friends, to celebrate and remember the baby, Charlie, that we lost.

The group that ran with me

The group that ran with me

And then I ran my very first 5K chip-timed race, The Santa Pur-Suit, with Ben and my dear friend Jill, finishing with a time of 43:01:2.

The three Santas post-race

The three Santas post-race

If you’re keeping track, I’m missing a baby. A few weeks after this race, I got pregnant. And because of some spotting and cramping, I had to (and wanted to) stop running. I had a healthy pregnancy, an early, yet safe delivery, and a healthy baby boy. And I was itching to get back to running. And exercising. And being active. And feeling awesome again.

It’s been 7 months since our last baby appeared and 5 months since I started moving again. Walking to and from school with Sophie has been a great warm-up to more intense exercise, but even those two hilly 20-minute walks every day aren’t enough for this busy mama.

Now, I am working out/running 3-4 times a week and it has been a huge part of my recovery from my third bout of postpartum depression. I find that if I don’t get some sort of exercise in, I am a beast, my worst self, my most anxious most angry most resentful most awful me. So as part of my healing regimen, I go to therapy once a week, I take medication every day, and I make sure that I don’t go more than two days at a time without something active. In this moment, running is saving my life.

This past weekend something absolutely magical happened: I went on my first outdoor run of the year AND I went with three of my sisters: Toni, Jacqui and Kim.

The sisters getting their run on

Getting our run on

I can not tell you how happy I was during and after this run. It was the highlight of the weekend, of my week, of the months since my brain broke again. It was by far one of the best days ever for me. And all because I got to share the beautiful, early-morning-early-spring air with three of my biggest supporters, cheerleaders, and best friends.

Duck pond on our route

Duck pond on our route

It was completely free (aside from the gas and the pants and the shoes). It was so simple: show up, talk, run, talk, have coffee, talk, go home, shower. It was so healthy: fresh air, exercise, camaraderie. It didn’t involve Oreos or feeling sorry for myself. And it was so freaking empowering to finish.

Affirmation

Affirmation

I love running. It’s hard. Some runs really, really suck. But in the end, I’ve never regretted going on a run. Never. I’ve regretted sleeping in, eating too much, and watching too much TV. Never ever a run.

I read this recently and it sums up completely how I feel about running in this moment in my life:

“Running can help you through a cycle of depression or self doubt by making you feel strong and in control of your life.” – John Stanton

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I’m ever so grateful for this gift.

~ Julia

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Earth Hour

Earth Hour Logo

Earth Hour is tomorrow, Saturday March 29, 2014, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time. It’s a time when you turn off lights and stop using as much electricity as is safe and smart to raise awareness around our environment and reduce, even for one hour, our effect on this living, breathing planet called Earth that we live on.

So, what does one do in the dark for one hour? There are obvious ideas…some of them naughty (like, you know…) and some of them smart, like talking by candlelight, taking a nap, or going outside to look at the stars (if you’re lucky enough to have a cloudless sky).

The bigger question is what will you do for an hour…and then what will you do beyond that? What will you do with your power, the power over the Earth, the power from the Earth? What difference will you make for the better, for the environment and this giant miracle that sustains your life? Because really it’s up to you and me and it’ll probably take more than an hour.

~ Julia

I’ve found the love

I’ve been working on being more loving and happy.

I know that the first step is loving yourself as you are, even if it is at your worst. And beyond being just okay with yourself, I think that you should have a little bit of vanity in you and have at least one thing about yourself that you love. I have quite a few!

And yes I am going to list the things I LOVE about myself.

My eyes: They are green with a splotch of brown in the middle, and have dark grey on the outer ring. I share them with our Memere; we have the same eyes. They are also like my mood ring because as I am working through things, or not feeling like myself, my eyes seem to change.

My scar: I have a chickenpox scar at the left-hand corner of my mouth. It is shaped like a small eye, and although it is weird, I have had it for so long that I look for it every time I look in a mirror. I have about six of these eye-shaped scars. I think I may be the only one to notice them and I definitely think they are funky and awesome.

My hair: I like it when it is all poofy, all curly, or silky straight. If it is up in a ponytail or a bun, I have been thinking a lot about something. If it is down and curly, like a lion’s mane, it means I am feeling sassier than usual. If it is straight, I wanted to take the extra time to feel and look pretty. I love every bad hair day ever since the day when I was younger and got a hair cut I fondly call ‘The Rachel.’

It was not a good look for me, and I so couldn’t pull it off like Jennifer Anniston could. My hair is crazy wild and not perfect, but hey I think I give a pretty good hair flip when I need to.

And last on today’s list is…

My smile: After years of my sisters trying to get me to smile in pictures, and actually just brighten up, I have grown to love my smile. I like that it isn’t all the time, and that to see it I have to be happy. My smile is picky. It is as though in order to see it I have to actually be really happy, and more and more I am using my smile.

I am learning to love myself and learning that I need to accept my flaws and make changes on the things I am not happy with. I am slowly getting to be a better me and it is a timely and fantastic transformation.

Eclectica Photo

If you feel up to it, tell me something you love about yourself! And remember to find new things every day to love, just because they are yours.

~ Andreah

Epilepsy awareness – Purple Day!

Happy Purple Day!

Did you know that 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy? I certainly did not and I am one of them!

This means that 1/100 people are battling their own brains. When you are epileptic, it’s very hard, or at least it is for me, to think anyone else is going through exactly what you are. This is because epilepsy is such an umbrella term – it means in one form or another you have seizures.

There are so many other things that people don’t know about epilepsy, so today I am going to let you into our little secret club, and tell you some things you probably didn’t know.

  • First I am going to start by telling you that the whole put-something-in-her-mouth-she-is-seizing is a myth. So, back away with that large eraser! There is absolutely no reason to do this. In fact you are probably going to cause more harm than good. I know your intentions are not to choke the poor person you are trying to help, but this only started because someone thought you could bite off your tongue and swallow it. You can’t…it’s attached.
  • Did you know that grapefruit can mess around with some seizure and heart medications? I didn’t, until one day while eating a deliciously tart and magical grapefruit, our occupational nurse at work walked by and told me that I shouldn’t be eating that. She was actually quite shocked that I had never been told that! It was too late – I had a seizure later that day. Oy! So I avoided them…until now. Now I eat them at my desk all messy and slurpy and I don’t care who sees or hears me because I missed them, oh how I missed them!
  • This one I thought was a little ridiculous, but I remember telling someone (names will not be mentioned) I was epileptic and they recoiled and asked me if I was contagious. Now at the time I was really dumbfounded and pissed off that someone could think epilepsy is contagious. You are absolutely right ma’am! If I sneeze on you, immediately you will start to convulse.

    However, now I know it is because people simply do not know, and by asking, I am educating them so they won’t look so silly next time. This myth came from back in the day when epileptics were kept in an asylum with patients with mental disorders. They were, of course, kept separate because they were considered contagious. Silly, silly, silly!

  • You can die from epilepsy. Death from a seizure is called SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy). There is still so much more research that needs to be done, as researchers and neurologists just don’t know why people pass away from seizures, which is why they are so scary. Death can also be caused when multiple seizures occur, or when someone is having trouble coming out of a seizure. Other than giving it a Harry Potter name – status epilepticus – again they just don’t know why. SCARY!
  • Epilepsy can not be cured, but it can be managed! Managing it means figuring out what works for you. For me, in particular, my triggers were mostly environmental: not eating right, not taking care of myself, letting stress get to me, and being over-medicated. In every epileptic, seizures and triggers are TOTALLY unique; for one person hitting their elbow might be the trigger, for another it might be a stressful situation, but either way seizures often tend to look similar.
  • The weirdest place I have ever had a seizure is in my sister Julia’s van – so very uncomfortable, more uncomfortable than normal. BUT silver lining – the chairs reclined, and she has a video screen in the back which came in handy for distracting me from the pain and nausea that comes after a seizure.
  • Seizures never get easier to handle or to go through for anyone. You may become a pro, and expect what is coming next, but things can change in a moment’s notice. And let me tell you it never gets easier to see mascara tears from those who are taking care of you, as you go into one.
  • EVERYONE is born with a seizure threshold. Yes, even you. It just depends on how high or low it is whether or not your triggers will cause a seizure.

Now that I have thoroughly scarred you let me dazzle you! Purple Day was created by Cassidy Megan, a young girl who is fighting the battle that is epilepsy. She wanted to spread the word about it. Cassidy’s goal is to get people talking about epilepsy in an effort to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone. She is an inspiration and even has her own blog.

For those of you who are reading this and who are epileptic – I would like to reach out to you! If you have questions, or just want someone to talk to, I know I was very scared and had questions that my doctor could’t answer. Like, how I am going to deal with everything ? How will my family cope?  I want you to know that I am here to lend an ear.

Happy Purple Day everyone!

~ Jacqui

Ed. Here’s a great infographic explaining seizure first aid. The best thing to do in case of a seizure is to stay calm, stay with the person, and support them when they are done seizing. 

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My inner child

Lately, I have been spending my days playing ‘nanny’ to my incredible nieces and nephew for my wonderful and BRAVE older sister, Julia.

Nanny Toni

Nanny Toni

A series of unfortunate events led me to being unemployed this past December and for the first time in my fairly young career-life, I really started questioning my happiness in my most recent roles. Whether it was the type of organization/role or the field of marketing itself has yet to be determined – whatever the root cause, I am a firm believer that happiness is one of the most important aspects of life, in all areas, and it was a bit of a wake-up call.

For the first few weeks or so of my ‘vacation from life’, I thoroughly enjoyed the leisure of my new found freedom and lack of responsibility – soaking in the early morning light as I woke with no alarm, working out whenever I wanted, spending days with friends that held opposite schedules of my previous 9-5 office life, going days without having to put on pants (seriously, best thing about not having a job), dropping in to see my sisters, nieces and nephew during THE DAY, properly preparing the house for Christmas and all the events of Christmas coming, getting sick with the flu – twice – and having the proper time to take care of myself and sleep as much as I could.

And then reality kicked in. Hard.

Reality of my blaring lack of income, lack of purpose, lack employment, lack of contribution to society, lack of ‘insert negative attribution of not having a job here’ and my natural reaction of pure panic set in. I had never been unemployed for longer than a few weeks and while I was applying and interviewing, I still had not found the role for me and it was FREAKING me out.

And then I got the call.

An innocent request to retrieve my oldest niece Sophie from school triggered my sister’s brave admittance to struggling with PPD and her even braver request for help.

I was needed.

Call it fate, kismet, God’s intervention (my personal belief) or the like, there was a divine reasoning behind my lack of gainful employment and I was needed.

While I would like to say I have been selflessly aiding my sister with her beautiful babies – trekking to and from school while negotiating with Sophie regarding outfit/hair accessory/schedule of the day, handling Lillian’s toilet-training-tantrums and mishaps, changing Isaac’s poop-exploded diapers – with grace and determination, I would be lying.

Being with my sister and her babies every day has been one of the most selfish things I have ever done. I am not sure of many other aunties who are nearly as lucky as I am to get to spend so much quality time with their nieces/nephews. In fact, among our sisterhood, there has been explicit expression of the jealousy they have of me – with one working insane-o hours and the other so very far away.

Don’t get me wrong, the aforementioned struggles do in fact take place daily. There are stressful and overwhelming moments, moments filled with wonder at how Julia does it/what was Julia thinking having SO many kids and moments that make me question my abilities to handle and guide such young and precious minds.

But none of these moments will ever compare to the other moments that fill the days.

The influence these little people have had on me has been nothing short of profound, enlightening and priceless. They have gifted me something that I thought was long lost and unrecoverable: they have found my inner child.

No-pants-wearing inner-child

No-pants-wearing inner-child

I have noticed a shift in my behaviour, even my attitude and I attribute it fully to the impact of these little people on me. Based on the following changes I can say I know the child-like Toni has returned to breathe new life into what was once a blindly living adult:

1. Announcing and celebrating burps: while my sisters can attest to my ability to burp like nobody’s business and reveling in it when I was younger, when boys and dating started to become of interest to me, this habit quickly stopped in order to appear more eligible. I refuse to this day to fart in front of my fiancé, so you can imagine his surprise when I let out a large, rather gratuitous burp last week while watching TV. Instead of my usual “Excuse me” and apology for how gross that was, I turned to him and announced, “I burped!” He looked at me, quite confused and said, “Good for you?”. While I was slightly horrified at my initial reaction, a smile formed on my face as I realized I had picked up this adorable behaviour from my youngest niece, Lillian. Now the lesson here is not in the burp itself, but in the ability to embrace your inner silly-side and give yourself a bit of freedom to relax. Not only had I broken one of my own impossible-to-live-up-to standards for living with another being, but I had reacted with pure joy at the surprise of how freeing it was. Yay me!

2. Waving your freak flag: up until quite literally yesterday, you could not pay Sophie to spend a day without her purple, plastic crown. This crown was a gift from me to her, something I never imagined would ever become so important to her, so quickly. A freebie in a Happy Meal, the crown came along when I gave into an insatiable craving for a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Sophie has believed of her royal status long before the purchase of this Happy Meal, so I felt it only fitting to gift it to her, instead of returning it to the counter. I could have never prepared myself for the reaction and love she would have for this crown. She never took it off. Ever. Becoming her signature accessory, Sophie has not been seen at any moment without her crown – even when she played a sheep in her Sunday School Christmas Program.

Princess Sheep Sophie

Princess Sheep Sophie

Not only does she wear her crown, but she proudly shows it off to anyone who may glance in her direction and introduces herself as Princess Sophie. She does not care what people may think, as her childish joy in this item outweighs her awareness of the judgey world we live in. What a lesson to be taught by someone so little. While I do not revolve my life around the opinions of others, I do let insecurities creep up and wonder how people will receive and perceive me. However, being exposed to the surety in which Sophie carries herself, made my heart ache with a bit of sadness for myself – at what age did I start caring what people thought? How many things have I backed out of, changed my mind about, didn’t wear, wore too much of, based on other people’s opinions? And how many of these ‘people’ really mattered? Not many. From now on I am going to wave my freak flag, whatever it may, proudly, with less concern for other’s opinions and more concern for my own child-like joy in life.

3. Shrills, shrieks and laughter: pure, unadulterated joy – for no freaking reason. As silly as it sounds, Isaac’s ability to both entertain and thrill himself just by blowing a few spit-filled raspberries with his mouth amazes me. It is one of his new-found talents and the smile that comes to his face after he’s created that sound with his mouth is infectious and lesson-filled. He has joy for no reason. Lillian will often look at me and shriek with excitement that bursts through her piercing blue eyes and causes her face to run red with life – for no reason at all, other than to show her happy and get a laugh out of me. Seriously, at what point in our inevitable growing up do we lose focus of our ‘happy for no reason’ joy? It may be the long hours worked at a sometimes-thankless job, or the wear of financial burden when the outcome is more than the income, or the schedule to keep with the children to get in all of the committed activities, or the increased awareness of ‘things’ to do, have and desire, or our inability to unplug from our cell phones, social media and work that sometimes sneaks home with us. But when did any of that mean we should lose our happy? Huge life lesson here for me: be happy like a child for no reason and be worried when your happy is attached to something – nothing in the life is permanent and that reason can easily be taken from you.

While I am excitedly looking forward to the next chapter of my career-life, I am revelling in theses moments filled with lessons being freely taught to me by such young influences. Lessons that I will happily apply to all aspects of my life. I pray daily that I am making a difference for my sister, brother-in-law and their precious babies, but more so, I am sending prayers of thanks for these lessons taught to me by these incredible souls and to God for giving me the time to learn.

~ Toni

Three years and countless battles

Three years ago, I was 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant with a stubborn, stubborn baby who refused to come out. And if you think for one moment that that 1 day is insignificant, you have never been pregnant.

Her name is Lillian. And three years ago on this day she was born.

She was high up in my rib cage, far away from any exit strategy, and had made zero progress or move to come out. She was happy in there. Coming out was not her idea. And therefore, she would not participate or help in any way. This should have been a sign of things to come.

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Lillian has always forged her own way, doing things in her time on her schedule according to her plan. Always.

The doctor who performed the C-section to get her out of my belly said she had never seen a baby who was so overdue that high up before. She literally had to reach up into me to pull her out. After hanging out with Lillian for three years, I’m not surprised in the least that was the case.

She had a striking white patch in her black, black hair, just like her daddy. We knew this meant she had been born with the same genetic disorder Ben has. It was the talk of the nurses in the delivery room, our family, and anyone who met her. All I knew was all that hair was the cause for all of my heartburn during my pregnancy with her.

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She needed hearing aids and got them when she was just four months old. We were so new at the whole baby-with-hearing-aids thing that we had to be told by the audiologists that we shouldn’t let her have them in while we were driving because she’d probably eat them. They were right. She did.

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She also took them off and threw them, hid them, chewed them, lost them, delivered them to us, and generally gave us countless panic attacks around them (you try putting thousands of dollars of equipment in a baby’s ears and you tell me how calm you are).

She also rocked them. They were pink and she was and still is a rock star at every appointment, sitting still while molds are formed, while tests are run, while tubes are cut and while adjustments are made.

And she used them as an act of defiance when she was mad at us, looking us straight in the eyes while pulling them out and throwing them. Luckily they were attached by a cord and for a while tucked under a cap that made her look like she was a 1920’s bather or an old-school pilot, but still no one could lose her ‘ears’ like Lillian could.

Lillian was a candidate for a cochlear implant, giving her the potential to have near perfect hearing. Since she was completely deaf in her right ear and had a mild loss of hearing in her left ear, this was miraculous. It has since proved to be just that.

During the operation she was amazing, even collecting a Dr. Seuss as her anesthesiologist (at a children’s hospital! Seriously!). But afterwards she was true to form, pulling out three different IVs. And while I would have milked that operation for all it was worth, she was up and bouncing around like her normal self in no time afterwards.

Lillian has always been her own person, quiet and reserved in a new place, loud and rambunctious where she feels safe. Roaring like a tiger or ARGHing like a pirate at the top of her lungs. Lauding every fart or burp that comes out of her little body or anyone else’s for that matter. Reveling in chaos yet thriving in comfortable situations. Refusing to smile for posed pictures but cackling for anyone’s phone camera.

She is the buttliest of butts and I mean that in the nicest, kindest, most loving way possible. She has taught me the art of negotiation, the art of patience, the art of snuggling on the couch until she can’t sit still anymore. She has taught me that bravery often comes in the smallest of packages and that even though she was handed an extraordinary set of circumstances she is a completely normal kid.

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Today is her day and I’m so glad she is mine. Ours. In our family and in our lives.

Happy happy birthday, Lillian!

Love, Mama (a.k.a. Julia)

Guest Post – Mrs. Almost-DiCaprio

Julia’s sister-in-law (and the sisterhood’s honorary sister) is guest blogging with us today. Thank you for writing with us, Kim! You can catch Kim baking up some beautiful (and delicious!) treats at her bakery, Y.U.M.

~ ~ ~

I am a loving mother and devoted wife, but last night I dream cheated.

dream cheat [dreem cheet]
verb

1. to experience sexual infidelity or emotional attachments during a subconscious state with someone other than your partner

In my dream I was being pursued by Leonardo DiCaprio.

This Leo:

Not this Leo:

In my dream, Leo was focused on me regardless of the other attractive women present, and was reassuring me of my beauty. I felt self-conscious around him; he is an Oscar-nominated actor who normally dates super models who feast on lettuce and lemon water and I am a mom with stretch marks and yesterday’s mascara smudged into the bags underneath my eyes.

Nothing crazy happened; it was all about the subtle details. He nudged my leg with his knee while we sat at a table with a group of people. He gave me a trinket and it made me feel special. I never actually dream cheat in a scandalous way, my subconscious won’t allow it. Soon Leo was trying to kiss me and corner me in dark rooms and proceed with his busy hands.

Seriously, who wouldn’t want a piece of this?

Kim looking like Cousin It

Sexy Kim

Or this?

Kim as a Spartan

Spartan Kim

It was at that point that I told Mr. DiCaprio that I was married. Enough was enough, he needed to know that although he loved my real-woman physique, I belonged to another and he could never have me. He was upset, but respected me and understood.

If this ever happens in real life, I’ve heard it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

I love my husband, more than I did yesterday and more than I did the day before. He is my soul mate, my teammate, my best friend and the father of my child. When they say opposites attract, they aren’t kidding. Craig and I are almost polar opposites, but it’s what makes us us. We click together like puzzle pieces and bring out the best in each other. We have been together since 2006. That’s 8 years or 29% of my life and I choose him every day.

Craig and Kim

Craig and Kim

He’s so lucky.

~ Kim

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Crafty business

I love crafts. I can’t help it!

I don’t always do crafts well, sometimes they come out a bit weird, like this wallet I just did. I got bored of my wallet, so instead of rooting through V.V. Boutique, or the local Goodwill for a wallet that doesn’t have a strange smell, stains, and that I actually like, I decided to rip apart my old wallet and revamp it with ribbons and buttons (strangely two of my favourite things in the world).

I walked around the apartment looking for all my random ribbons, and found lime green, purple, red, and a blue one that I adore the colour of. I grabbed my button stash, hot glue gun, camera, and a knife and headed to the kitchen table to put it together.

This is kind of what the wallet looked like before I ripped the thing apart.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

I found a slit in the cardboard that could have a zipper put in and can then be used as another pocket.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

However I didn’t want to go that far, and I didn’t want to buy anything for this project. I decided to start with the lime green ribbon, and had to put it in this little slit, which required the knife to slide it in so it could be glued.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

And then I glued it to the actual cardboard so that it wouldn’t move, slid the ends in so it was tight against every side and then reinforced everything with a little bit more glue. I burnt the ribbon ends with a lighter so the ribbon wouldn’t run.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

Then I repeated the process with the purple.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

The red ribbon was quite a bit crumpled, so I set my flat iron to a medium setting and flattened it so it would co-operate, then attached it to the wallet like the first green and purple ribbon, and then repeated with two blue ribbons, and then one last green.

The wallet didn’t feel complete yet. I get a feeling when the craft is done, and it just felt unfinished. So I sorted through my button collection picked my favourites and glued them on. This is the finished product, and it is definitely not one of my bests, but I like the weirdness of it.

Eclectica Photo

Eclectica Photo

It’s nice knowing that no one in the world has a wallet like mine. It’s not the neatest or best looking wallet I have made, but it’s weird and it’s all mine.

~ Andreah

25 Before 25

When I turned 20, I had plans for myself – that by the age of 25 I would be married with at least one baby! To some this may be absolutely insane, but for me it is all I have ever wanted in life. I did not dream of becoming something more than a mother and a wife; the job portion was back burner. I went to high school and then after I went to college, but during the entire time when people were planning their careers, I was falling in love. I could not tell you why I wanted this for myself, and it’s funny how plans never go as planned.

Instead of babies and a marriage, Cody and I have bought our house, welcomed two of my nieces and my nephew into this world, and said goodbye to a niece/nephew. I have congratulated Toni on her engagement, I said goodbye to Dee when she embarked on her journey. Our family grew in numbers, grew in love and grew closer together, closer than I ever imagined our family would be.

This year I will be turning 25, and I have decided lovely readers, friends, family and blog browsers, to make a list. A list of 25 things to do before 25! Sorry to disappoint, but it is not the bungee-jumping list.

The list

1. Walk more to explore than as a means of transportation. A good friend once told me that walking made him look at our sleepy little town in a different way! So that’s what I plan to do, with my pups by my side.

2. Grow a garden. Please take note I did not add “vegetable” into that line. If you ask Cody, he will roll his eyes at this one because I have attempted this before…and horribly failed. But I think I went too big too soon. This time smaller scale for a bigger impact!

3. PLAN MY WEDDING. I’m a horrible procrastinator.

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4. Try to cook with a new food. I love to cook, but find myself never straying far from my comfort zone.

5. Try not to sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. 

6. (Jeeeeze I have to make 25 of these!) Enjoy this summer!

7. Go canoeing this summer.

8. Hike with my sisters. (They don’t know yet that they are involved HA)

9. Be more involved with my nieces and nephews. I am insanely jealous of the time Toni is spending with them. And although it is for a particular reason, I can not help but have the green monster sneak up on my shoulder when she talks about her time with them.

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10. Sleep more. This one is really simple. And it’s just because I want to!

11. Work harder, but work less.

12. Walk my dogs more… Regardless of the season.

13. Try to get Cody out of the house more.

14. Dance till the morning sun comes up.

15. Drink more wine! I’m Portuguese. This is supposed to be in my blood.

16. Spend more time with Cody ‘s family. His grandma is such an amazing and strong lady! You can see so much of her in Cody’s dad and his siblings.

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17. Try to keep up with the house cleaning/laundry. As I am writing this there is a mountain of laundry to fold…I am a bad housewife.

18. Spend more time with my Dad, apart from the family occasions – more just-because time.

19. Learn more about mine and Cody’s family trees. The way-back years. We started to do this with Ancestory.com, and WOW. The things we have discovered (for a future post to come).

20. Get organized. This originally was written as more organized but let’s be honest…just organized would be great.

21. Welcome the Stuehler Baby into the world. (Love you Ashley.)

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22. Listen. I am a talker, and I find myself wanting to start talking over people during conversations. So I want to listen more and talk less (I am already setting myself up for disaster!).

23. Have more momma and me moments. At this point she is working her a$$ off for her CGA, but there will be times between courses that this can happen.

24. Reach my fitness goal!

25. BE HAPPY! Find the silver lining in every day.

So there is my list – some of them are cheaters, but I am feeling pretty confident that I can get this list done, and if not then there are always New Year’s resolutions!

~ Jacqui

My secret ingredient

I love to move.

Staying active is one of my absolute needs; I require it to stay healthy and most of all happy.

On top of running, hiking and working out, I LOVE to dance. I blame my love for dancing on my love of and absolute need for music…or it might be that I simply cannot sit still for too long. Either way, I must dance! (Disclaimer: I have no formal training and can not be held responsible for any permanent, or disturbing  images that may be burned into your brain after witnessing said dancing.)

You will find me dancing in the morning while I get ready for my day. You will find me dancing with my nieces and nephew to any silly song that is playing. You will find me dancing in the shower…wait…scratch that – most of you will NOT find me in the shower. You will find me dancing in my truck as I drive (and no, I do not give a rat’s ass what the people who stare think – yeah, I see you!). You will find me on the dance floor at weddings until my feet hurt enough to kick off whatever ridiculous pair of heels I have chosen to wear and then continue to dance barefoot. You will find me dancing with my girls at the club on girls’ night, or even in living rooms and bedrooms as we party prep. You will find me happy dancing whenever there is good news to share. You will even find me (embarrassingly) seat dancing at a restaurant.

But my most favourite place to dance? The kitchen.

Kitchen dancing – or as my wonderful fiance has coined it, ‘T’s Making Dinner Dance Parties’ – take place in our home on a regular basis. Said fiance has often lamented that he does not understand why I always choose music over television (unless of course there is a hockey game on – then the dancing is put on the back burner…until the Habs score and the happy dancing commences…see the trend here?) as he is the master of the TV and it can usually be found on whether he is watching it or not.

Often, Michael will come home to me prepping whatever meal with music playing as I fly around the kitchen, showing off my killer dance moves to Rocky and Adrian (my two very ‘small puppies’) and often getting them to join in.

Adrian and I

Adrian and I

Rocky and I

Rocky and I

Truth be told, I absolutely believe the food tastes better if prepared while dancing, the dishes washed are somehow cleaner if I’ve busted a move (not a hip), and the house is happier with my rhythm filling the rooms.

Only outdone by a good run, dancing helps to clear my head, shift my mood, pick me up or add to an already incredible day.

I’m always looking for music that moves me, often getting lost in the worlds of SoundCloud, YouTube, 8tracks, and Hype Machine for hours. Don’t tell Michael, but if the night’s dinner is taking a little longer than usual, it’s because I have found a new artist that I can’t get enough of and pull a full on crawl for anything they have released or collaborated on.

While our fancy speaker setup (so technical) in the living room allows me to make sure our wall-sharing-neighbours LOVE us, my handsome came home from work last week with a small token of love and a sign that he fully supports my requirement to turn our kitchen into my personal dance floor – a set of little speakers for the iPad.

My adorable, yet very efficient 'kitchen speakers'

My adorable, yet very efficient ‘kitchen speakers’

While I suspect this gesture carries some underlying self-serving motive (read: I will no longer monopolize the above mentioned fancy speaker set up and main television/he’ll be able to concentrate on the chosen Xbox 360 game of the evening.), it was nonetheless sweet and of course made me break out in a saucy little dance to thank him.

My favourite kitchen dancing moments are when Michael gives into my silly ways and joins me, making simple, everyday activities into sweet, sweet memories.

Tonight when you get home from the sometimes monotonous tasks of the day, instead of settling down in front of the TV, I challenge you to throw on your favourite makes-you-move-mood-music and dance.

~ Toni