That time we were almost cast for TLC

Have you ever experienced one of those moments where time seems suspended in midair and you observe the situation you’re in from a slightly removed perspective and know somewhere deep in your bones that this is a pivotal moment? A moment with a fork in the road and it could change your life completely if you go one way, or it could stay the exact same if you go the other?

Well did that EVER happen to the Sisterhood last week!

Roughly a month ago, we were contacted by a development company called Crybaby Media out of NEW YORK CITY (yeah, New York, New York!) regarding a mandate that had been sent down from the TLC and Lifetime networks to find and cast families with four or more sisters for a new docu-series they were looking to develop.

You can imagine our surprise when our wee-baby, fairly personal blog put us on the map and got us noticed. Reading and re-reading the initial email we were all pretty convinced we were probably being duped and that it had to be a scam of some sort. Our mama was just worried we would John & Kate Plus 8 the crap out of our lives if we participated.

....I can see why she would be concerned.

….I can see why she would be concerned.

As with all big, scary, exciting news, we met immediately to discuss our stance and if we wanted to proceed with the Skype interviews they had requested and aired our concerns. We decided to see what the show was about and what we would be giving up to participate.

To say the initial process left us feeling like we were in good hands would be a stretch – scheduling conflicts and poor communication led us to really question the legitimacy of the opportunity. After expressing our concerns after being stood up and emailed after the fact to reschedule us – again – things seemed to take a turn for the better and we were finally able to Skype with McKenna from Crybaby Media.

The initial interview was for McKenna to get to know us more and see if there was enough about us as a Sisterhood that people could relate to and was the rawest of the process. We nervously accepted her call as we heard Skype ring through our set up laptop at the bottom of Julia’s basement stairs where quiet, decent lighting and stacked seating were available.

McKenna was friendly and warm which put as ease fairly quickly. She got right into it and asked us to round-robin introduce ourselves and give a snapshot of who each of is, our lifestyle, age and position within the Sisterhood. We were asked to describe each other, our childhood, our parents, what we do together for fun, what we do apart that makes us unique – the typical kinds of questions you would expect for a reality-based series participant to divulge about themselves. After about 20 minutes of us cautiously answering the required questions, McKenna let us know she would like to pass us through to the second stage and interview, which would be taped and then cut down to make our 2-4 minute ‘pitch’ video to the network.

We logged off the call with instructions for follow-up and instantly burst into a common commotion of chatter throwing around concerns, questions, statements and ideas for how to get all of this to process through our overloaded brains.

What just happened?

Did our little blog just set off a series of events for us that we could have never imagined? Did we even want to participate now that we knew what we’d be sharing with the world? How would this affect our lives and relationships? There were so many questions and unknowns it was hard not to get too ahead of ourselves. We were still reeling from even being found on this wide world of the internet and to be honest, our concerns for our little lives were beginning to surpass our interest in being cast.

Maybe a little too real for reality TV?

Maybe a little too real for reality TV?

After confirming our follow-up taped interview, we were provided a general guideline for the questions and style of answering in order to get a good cut for our final video. When the day of the taping came we met early to discuss what had come to the surface for each of us over the two days between interviews. We were sure to be honest with one another about what we were comfortable discussing and what we would rather not shed light on just yet – surprisingly there are still things about us that we are just not ready to let our readers learn just yet. We determined a good rule of thumb to be if we were comfortable writing about it here, we should be comfortable being honest and open about it on camera.

Our taping went really well and I think I speak for all of the sisters when I say that we might have benefited from the structure and style of the conversation more than anyone. In the 45 minutes of taping we were able to learn a little more about each other, what we want out of this blog, how we view the world, our childhood and each other uniquely from one another.

Most importantly, we uncovered that we wanted to raise our blog to be a community for people to come and experience what it is to be a part of such a tight sisterhood, to feel not so alone with the battles they wage daily, and to know that there are a bunch weirdos out there stumbling through this insanity that we call life just as awkwardly as any one.

We all didn’t express it then, but we were all filled with anxiety of the changes that may come into our lives if we were picked up by the network and it wasn’t an eager anxiety. Personally, I made sure to pray on it that if this was not meant for us or would not bring only light and love into our lives it would be removed from our hands to choose.

Please? Or, no thank you?

Please? Or, no thank you?

A day later we received an email stating we had been passed on and ironically enough were told we were not nearly “outrageous” enough for the casting – which if you’ve ever been to one of our family events you know this is not entirely true – however, we did take that as a compliment when we considered the network that had put out the mandate.

Can you IMAGINE if we had made it through!?

When we all found out about not making it to the next round there were shared expressions of relief – we weren’t exactly sure we were ready for TLC… or if TLC was ready for the likes of us.

So for now, we are your humble community blog, focused on sharing our lives with whoever happens upon us. Who knows what the future brings though – stranger things have happened!

~ Toni

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#CallThemOut

During our blogging hiatus the news about Josh Duggar and his history of sexual molestation broke. Following that, an onslaught of media and commentary and discussion ensued, covering everything from the religion that the Duggars belong to, to the names and identities of the victims, to the “counseling” that Josh completed, to the logistics surrounding the future of the Duggars’ popular “reality” show.

There was a lot of coverage. And a lot of information. And as someone who can’t consume scary or explicit news easily, it was tough navigating social media because this story struck a chord that even I couldn’t ignore or deny or shut down.

The story of a young man taking advantage of people in his innermost circle, his family, and then the family dealing with the fall-out. The story of victims who were forced to keep living a lie right beside the nightmare of a sexual experience no person should ever have to experience. The story of parents who tried to do their best but ultimately failed because in this scenario there are no winners. The story of a perfect-looking family, a close-knit community, and their underbelly of horrible secrets being revealed.

A story that looked, felt, and sounded all too familiar. Like my story.

I don’t have 18 siblings and we didn’t belong to an extreme Christian sect growing up. And I don’t have a reality show to put on a face for. But, I do have a story of childhood molestation that although happened at the fringes of my memory, still haunts me to this day. I am also a victim of a young man’s exploration/exploitation. And my molester also walked away with minimal consequences.

I was four, small and innocent as all four-year olds are/should be. I was being babysat. I always went to sleep with a soft, flannel receiving blanket, something cool to put against my cheek. That night, my parents were out and he was watching me. He couldn’t/wouldn’t find my blanket. Instead of looking for it, he offered me his penis, up against my face, my cheek, and said, “This will work.”

There was no rape. There was no penetration. There were no charges. There was no therapy for me or him. But, there was a lingering trauma that has coloured every sexual experience I’ve ever had since. There was a betrayal that extended beyond the babysitter and to the way things were handled afterwards. There will always be anxiety around him and what he did, around my parents and what they did, around my daughters and son and what they will do/have done to them. It will never go away. Ever.

I read this profound piece by a writer I only found after the Josh Duggar media storm hit. It’s by Kristen Mae who makes a case for calling out your molester, abuser, asshole who changed your life without your consent. She talks about the impossibility of dealing with a molester in your family or your closest circle, discussing the repercussions of having one child hurt another child or one family member hurt another family member in a disgusting, illegal way. She speaks about the fact that we need to entirely shift how we handle these impossible moments, how we handle protecting one child yet helping another. How we work at keeping our family together and safe at the same time. How do we do that?

Her suggestion: let’s name them. Let’s take away the power of the hidden crime, the unspoken secret, the family life built on lies. Let’s remove the pretense that because it happened so closely, so intimately, that it must not be dealt with as if it were a stranger because we can’t ruin one life to save another. Let’s redefine what it means to parent an abuser, parent an abused, and horrifically, to do it at the same time. Let’s not sweep it under the rug, but figure out how to make it work for both parties, both broken people, the abuser and the abused. Let’s not just weep until we hope it goes away or hide behind shame until it’s acceptable to come out again. Let’s make a difference. Let’s change the conversation.

She asks that we first call them out. Call them by name. Say their names and their power goes away because they are no longer shrouded or shipped off to a Christian counseling camp. Let’s speak out loud what we have been forced to hide.

Truth.

Truth.

My molester, my abuser, the boy-man who affected me forever was Peter. He no longer has power over me because I don’t let him. I don’t know where he is or what he is doing or when I will see him next, because inevitably I will. He is, after all, my uncle. But, I refuse to be alone with him, touch him, or have him go near my babies or my sisters. Ever.

If my parents had better tools, if my grandparents were less worried about their precious son and more worried about their family as a whole, if we had better rules around how to handle your worst nightmare, when the loved abuses the loved, then maybe we’d have fewer abusers and abused, more real help and counseling and rehabilitation, and more healing that actually sticks because it’s not the band aid solution to cover up the gunshot wound.

And if you want to see strength in its purest form, read the comments of the other survivors on Kristen’s post. Calling them out is not for the faint of heart. It’s for the survivors, warriors, wounded who pick themselves back up and refuse to be a victim any more. And for those who can’t #CallThemOut yet or ever, you too are numbered in the list of warriors and survivors. I promise.

~ Julia

Wonderful world of work

So there a couple things you should be 100% aware of when it comes to me… I am not normal. Working in an office environment is not normal for me.

This is so more me.

This is so more me. (Photo credit to UCS and their photo of their studio, which makes me miss college and the studio that I got to use there.)

I have never worked in a normal office environment, and I never thought I would ever be working in a cubicle, let alone being excited about it. I am more the type to have weird, in-between jobs that you never even thought someone would have, and I have had quite a few of those…

Have you ever heard of someone working in a turkey farm? Or know of anyone putting away books at the wee hours of the morning?

No? Of course not. Because no sane person decided that they would deal with turkeys, or put away heavy books at warp speed (or as fast as humanly possible) at 5 a.m. Besides the point of this post though, this is about my job now.

This is the most normal job I have ever had. I work roughly 8 hours a day. I come into work, use a punch clock and then punch out when I leave. I have never had a job like this, and although I have never seen myself in this kind of job, there is one thing I love about this job.

The people are AWESOME.

All of them are so unique, and I have made so many new friends that I can hardly count them all. Even my supervisors are awesome and very helpful people and my manager is really funny and nice.

Now, I haven’t told a lot of people at work about our blog at all, so I am so not trying to butter them up through this. It is just nice to be able to like the people you work with and work for. I have found some really good friends in my colleagues while I have been here, and although I am not going to mention any names, they know who they are and they know (from me telling them on a constant basis) how truly awesome and sweet they are.

They make it easier to come into work on my bad brain days because I know I will smile at least once from something ridiculous someone says or does, or that I say or do, and at work I am one of the more random people.

I am truly blessed to not only have a job but have a job where I actually get along with and like the people.

I know this is just a temporary position, but for the time being I have a found a place in the company full of awesome people, and that works just fine for me.

~ Andreah

Married my Mr. Wright

We are back, and the main reason for our short, but needed, hiatus was that I was busy being a DIY bride who took all her resources (her maids) and used them to their extent! Seriously, I almost broke some of them…and yet they still love me!

Toni and Julia were both my MOH’s and they both, combined, were the most amazing MOH a girl could ask for. Toni took the week with me leading up to the wedding to help me with the running around, cleaning, last minuit detailing…eveyrthing! While Julia made the stationary and hand pies, which were half of our desserts at the reception.

I have written mushy and gooshy posts before about my lovely husband (gotta get used to that…husband), and how excited I am to be a Wright. I can’t wait to get all my legal documentation, to change the tag line on my emails and to officially and legally become a Wright. Because then I will never be wrong (I have been hearing that a lot lately…everyone’s a comedian! Yuk it up people, it’s getting old fast!)

So now for the details! I am so happy I have this platform to rave about all our vendors!

When Cody and I discussed our big day, we both agreed – relaxed and loving – a true representation of us as a couple! We are country bumpkins, and I have pinned so many pictures of barn weddings, bridesmaids in cowboy boots, bales of hay with burlap, lace and colour – so much colour! Based on that, our venue choice was simple – a barn.

We got our venue…now for the food!

For this I went to a seasoned expert: Cody! He wanted a pig roast, or something simple like that. Nothing frufru or with anything we couldn’t pronounce. Toni helped with this one as she connected me to Sean from Wild Boar who took our idea and created one of the best meals that we ever enjoyed (I got to enjoy leftovers, because if you have EVER tried to eat anything in a wedding dress…it’s kind of impossible). I have never had so many people ask me who our caters were, or rave about the amazing meal! The cornbread, the pork, the chicken – all so mouth-watering, and all so good! If you are reading this and are in the Waterloo area with a wedding or any event coming up, call Sean. Seriously, you will not be disappointed!

Next came the dress – I originally went to David’s Bridal in Cambridge, where I felt like my idea and my dream wedding dress was not possible, and I would have to take a dress they had and alter it, which in a lot of cases people have to do! I had a good chunk of my cheering section with me – my momma bear, two older sisters who are my maids of honour, and two brides maids Andreah and Ashley. When they saw how defeated I looked, they reminded me that I shouldn’t settle, and this was only the first store I went to. So on we went – it was a Sunday as this is the day that worked the best for me…because I was the bride…so we were limited to the stores that were open. Something about Sunday being for Jesus?

Anyways, Julia had previously posted on my Facebook timeline about a store in Guelph where a chunk of their proceeds go back to building the green belt called Something Green – I had never heard of it, unlike David’s, but they were open so we went!

It is a small store downtown Guelph. We walked in and Jess, one of the owners, greeted us with the biggest smile (fun fact: the other owner is her mom!). I told her my budget and my dream dress. As I was talking she was walking and pulling gowns, all the while telling me that I should not be settling for my dress. I tried on two dresses – the second one I tried on I was grinning from ear to ear even before the curtains were pulled open for my big debut. Jess decided to add a veil for the full effect because we both knew: this was the one. THE DRESS! Now every time one of my Facebook friends get engaged, or asks for a bridal boutique to go to, I shout from the keyboard Something Green!

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My dress, from Something Green; Nicole on the left and Kim on the right, two of my bridesmaids, dressed by EmmaPaige

Now that I had my dress, it was time for my girls! I was in a wedding in September 2014 for one of my oldest friends Kim (in the picture above!) and her bridesmaid dresses were made by Paige of EmmaPaige Designs, whom Kim and I also went to high school with. Paige was a dream – she took exactly what we wanted in a dress, within an EXTREMELY reasonable budget and created different dresses for all the girls, which is exactly what she did for my ladies! Each one had a different style, and colour. Paige, again is someone who I tell EVERY bride to go to. She is flexible and so unbelievably talented! Instead of going to a bridal store and getting a cookie cutter dress which some girls may have to order in ridiculous sizes, why not get the luxury of a custom dress which is created for each girls body type!  She also created my getaway dress – an adorable ivory wrap dress with a big bow and ruffles around the collar which I danced the night away in!

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Me with one of my amazing bridesmaids, Ashley – both of our dresses are EmmaPaige originals.

All my stationary my designed and created by my amazing sister Julia who is starting up her own business! From our place cards, invitations, thank you cards, and even our programs for the day – EVERYTHING was handmade by her! The mom of three psychos! She is also the one who made the hand pies (which are literally pies you fit in your hand) for our desserts! 150 of them to be exact in four different flavours!!

Our photographer extraordinaire is the one and only Heather Baker of Photography by Heather. (click that link if you want to see an amazing sampling of some our big day). She is amazing! She has worked with our family on so many occasions whether it was our family photos or pictures of my nieces and nephew! She usually doesn’t do weddings, but she said yes to mine! She was so relaxed, yet was able to handle the insanity of my family and Cody’s. Every picture she has shown me is absolutely perfect, and I can not believe I get these amazing memories of our day!!

My bridesmaid Kim did all the decor, including the centrepieces using silk flowers. She made it so I…*we*…could set up the night before and leave it. But I wanted fresh beautiful, full, wild-flower bouquets for all my girls! Krista from Flowers…More Often met with me, looked at all my swatches, listened to all my crazy ideas and then took those ideas and ran with them! I trusted her wholeheartedly as she has an amazing talent! When the bouquets were dropped off the morning of the wedding at the hotel room, I cried. Okay, I bawled! They were perfect. Absolutely amazing. They were romantic, full of colour and EVERYONE said that they were beautiful!

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Photo credit : Photography by Heather; Bouquet – ALL KRISTA at Flowers…More Often!

I literally look back on the day, and see all of our loved ones who came, all of our family and friends who worked so hard to help us out, all the late nights, the running around hunting for the perfect touches, everything, and it was so worth it. I would never do it again in a million years, but it was totally unequivocally worth every extra grey hair on my head.

~ Jacqui

Go with the flow

It’s been so long since I’ve written a post, I feared I would have forgotten how to, or that it wouldn’t be as easy as I usually found it.

After staring at my screen for the past 4 hours, I know this to be true. It is good to be back, but a little strange after our mini-break for all things wedding, new-job and regular family chaos mixed in.

So bear with me, I may be rusty.

I’ve had these past few months off from work in which I’ve had to face down my own ego on quite a few occasions. There was a lot of swallowing my pride and observing my natural patterns to find areas where change could take place. I was stuck and getting unstuck isn’t always the easiest feat, but much like being determined to run a half marathon without really training (more on that later), I was determined to use the blessing of time to my betterment.

Throwing myself into my practice was the thing that saved me, I truly do believe. Saved me from my demons and gave me permission to be kind to myself about where I was in life. Learning to let go during class, to be present, mindful, to slow down in my daily life, to live in the moment and accept what it brings and work with it, no matter how the world presented itself to me. I could go on and on about the lessons I’ve learned in the hot room, dripping in sweat, breathing through the movement of the postures with ease or at my edge filled with effort, really forcing myself to internally scan where I needed the most of my self love.

The one thing all of these lessons has had in common though, is that the more you go with the flow of life, the universe if you will, the easier a time you will have.

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I do not mean that you will not struggle. I do not mean you will not hurt, ache, cry, or feel heartsick at any time. I do mean that you will find greater ease when you let go, and go with the flow.

I do not mean you should not pursue your passions or goals and things that set your heart on fire with relentless thirst. I do not mean that you will get everything you think you want, when you want it. I do mean you will have a greater chance of finding the REALLY right path if you do. You will be where you are meant to be, truly.

It’s the act of tapping into synchronicity – the more you pay attention to the little directives, signs and signals you’re being shown regularly, and do your best to quiet your ego and its hunger for centre stage as the main driver, the flow becomes more apparent, your path more clear. And I know from experience that the more you listen for the signals the stronger the frequency becomes. The more you pay attention, the more sense everything eventually makes.

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Growing up, and (let’s be honest) even into my early adult years, I learned a lot of tough lessons the very hard way, by being my own worst enemy and pushing my own plans and agenda on my life. Pushing so hard to get to where I thought I ‘should’ be, where I was convinced I belonged, what my ego told me I wanted, needed and could not live without. Life has a funny way of letting you get only so far and then shutting you down before redirecting you – in my case, always with great force that taught me a lot about putting yourself back together after you’re busted apart for regrowth and redirection.

As I look back on these lessons, I can see if I had applied even a bit of what I’ve learned about synchronicity through yoga, the harm and pain would have been notably less. I am sure the scars from those events would have healed quicker too, maybe might not be so apparent today.

I heard recently that the true act of yoga itself is not in the hot room and really starts to transform and change your life when you begin to practice what you learn on your mat in your life. In all of your relationships, in your employment, in your head with your running commentary to the world and ESPECIALLY to yourself – even in line at the grocery store. The conscious act of slowing down, breathing, actively quieting your inner monologue and literally going with the flow of your day, or the flow and direction of your life, can make or break the kind of life you have.

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As it unfolds in front of you, accept it as if you had chosen it, do what you have to in order to change what you’re able, but for the most part relax, be still and try to work with it.

~ Toni

Days like these

If you had asked me when I was younger what my life would look like in my 30s, as a mother, as a wife, I would never have been able to guess it would be this.

That my house would be a complete disaster every single day, unless company was coming over, and then it was a minor disaster to be put on hold for a small number of hours.

All the dishes. All the time.

All the dishes. All the time. (That dishwasher is there purely for aesthetic.)

That I would go to bed thinking about all the laundry I need to fold, wash, put away…yet never ever get to.

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch?

How many loads of clean laundry can I hide behind my couch? (That chair is tipped over because Isaac likes to climb).

That I would be a stay-at-home mom, walking babies to school, cooking all the meals, in charge of all the cleaning, and watching my hard-earned degree gather dust on our wall.

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

Have you tried cooking dinner with acrobatics happening at your feet?

That I would be forced to negotiate with the most unreasonable creatures on the planet just to put on their shoes so we could go to the park FOR THEM, or eat their food because they were the ones sobbing at my feet hungry, or to go to bed and sleep because all of the hysterics that they are currently stuck in are because they are tired.

Waiting for snack time...weirdly patiently.

Waiting for snack time…weirdly patiently.

That I would not get a hair cut in over a year simply because I would need to orchestrate a child-care/salon hours/extra time formula that only works once every 15 months or so.

Can you see my kitchen table? I haven't either.

Have you see my kitchen table? I haven’t either.

That I would donate all of my dress pants, skirts, blouses because I don’t need them anymore – my uniform consists of durable material, wash-and-wear ensembles with denim being the star.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac.

Dress pants are no match for a breakfast thrown by Isaac. And the random dirty sock.

That we would not go to church in months simply because we are too sick/too exhausted/too worn-out to get to one more place on time.

That sitting on the couch and zoning out for an hour, followed by an early bedtime is my idea of the perfect night.

That eating hot food is an anomaly so rare that I regularly burn my mouth whenever the opportunity does present itself.

That I would drink and seek out and need coffee to fuel my day, every day.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

Sweet nectar that makes all of my efforts in futility possible.

That the feeling of not having a body on me or near me or touching me would be more alien than having three children piled on and around me.

That sleep would be the most precious and most scarce commodity in my life, so much so that on days where the babies are overnight somewhere, sleep is all I can think about.

That when planning our 10-year anniversary trip, that it’s a legitimate toss-up between Europe and an all-inclusive tropical resort because all I want to do is SLEEP.

That I would be fulfilled by the feeling of a smooth, not sticky counter, kitchen table, coffee table, floor.

That I would find pleasure in finding miracle cleaning products that worked instead of just made me work.

That I would write more, clean more, cook more, and walk more with babies hanging off of me, screaming at me, crying on me or asking a million things of me, than not.

He's not really a fan of this blog post.

He’s not really a fan of this blog post.

That I would love my babies more fiercely than anything ever. That I would do all of the above and more for them because it’s ingrained in my DNA that they are mine and I must fight for them.

That I would get up and repeat over and over and over again, regardless of the fact I make no money, have no sick days, and no vacation time.

If you had asked me then, I wouldn’t believe you. And yet, it’s the most natural thing today.

~ Julia

Happy birthday, mama

While we are not back to our regularly scheduled blog rhythm just yet, we most DEFINITELY did not want this day to go by without making a fuss over a very special lady in our lives…pretty much the most important one.

Without her, really, none of this would be here. None of us, none of our families. She, our matriarch, our head of household, our guiding star, is our Mama, and today is her BIRTHDAY!!!!!

So here’s to you, Mommy – happy, happy birthday! We hope you know how much you are loved, looked up to, and admired. You hold a special place in each of our hearts, lessons and love unique to each one of us. You’ve set incredible examples for us, helped whenever needed (even when we didn’t know we needed it) and loving us regardless and no matter what.

Mom

Mom

We love you and hope you have the most beautiful day, filled with so much love, light and laughter your heart stays full forever.

Love,

Your baby girls
~ Weather Vane Sisterhood