An ode to Jacqui

WE’RE BAAAAAAAAAAAACK!

It may not be Tuesday, but Julia and I decided to pull a switch-a-roo so I could have the honour of writing a post to mark this day of our very own Jacqui’s birth.

JQ, my baby duck, happiest of birthdays to you. I hope you have the best day possible today, regardless of responsibility and have to’s required of you today.

I’ve got to say, getting to be your big sister has been pretty kick ass so far, as I am sure it will continue to be. Getting to watch you grow over these past 26 years has been a wild, rewarding ride.

I mean, I got to know you from this point:

Her pants are SO inflated with fart.

Her pants are SO inflated with fart.

And watch you grow into this:

BAM! (she's still 12!)

BAM! (she’s still 12!) [Photo credit: Photography by Heather ]

I can’t believe you’re 26 though. I mean, it really does seem like yesterday that we were much shorter, standing in our country home, getting into whatever shenanigan we could to entertain ourselves…

I love that this picture exists

I love that this picture exists

And now we’re all grown up, trying to navigate all of life’s crazy adventures as they come…I hope it goes without saying, but I’m really grateful I’ve got you by my side through all of them.

I have loved watching you grow into your own person and become even more ‘you’ these past few years. You’ve inspired the hell out of me with your strength in your battle with epilepsy and conquering a shit ton of obstacles to celebrate two years seizure free this week. (Seriously, you KICK ASS)

Last year's one year anniversary tattoo

Last year’s one year anniversary tattoo

I admire your heart, your incredible wit and humor – I seriously still vote ‘stand up comedian’ needs to be added to your resume – and your need for peace making. You’re brave, smart and gorgeous from your heart out.

I hope 26 is incredible for you in every way – with more laughter, love and magic than you can hold. I know you’re already off to the best possible start.

Sisters ♥

Sisters ♥

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, dear Jacqui! We LOVE you!

~ Toni

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She’s 6

It’s been hard to find the words to express exactly what this year has meant for me and my oldest baby Sophie, the one with the looooooong legs and the fascinating brain and the crazy sense of humour and the incredible compassion for all living creatures, especially her tired, worn-out, crying mama (there’s nothing that brings a girl to her knees like a 5-year old rubbing your back and telling you it’s going to be okay). She’s turning 6 this week and I’m struggling to pinpoint exactly what made this year different from the year before.

Crazy tall kid. For our family, of course (she's still one of the shortest in her class.)

Crazy tall kid. For our family, of course (she’s still one of the shortest in her class.)

She’s in her second year of school, so that’s not new, but how she’s handling herself there is different since she is in the oldest grade (she’s a Senior Kindergartener now) and her teachers tell me she’s all about helping the younger kids, the Junior Kindergarteners, figure out the rules and talking to them when they’re crying for their parents. It’s such an oldest sister thing, such a me thing, to be a mother hen, that my heart at once is so proud and aches that her childhood is slipping away in the service of others. You give a bit of yourself away every time you reach out to someone, and it’s not a bad thing, but the fact that she’s starting so early makes me worry about whether or not she’ll have anything left for her when she gets older. It took me forever to find that balance – I hope her path is full of as much compassion for herself as it is for others.

“Don’t I look so adorable?” Yes, Sophie. Yes, you do.

She’s still a diva, a fashionista in training, who staunchly believes still that ‘flat pants’, or leggings, the pants that sit flat against her legs, are the only ones that make her look beautiful. She’s stunning. There is nothing that girl can’t put on with her hair and her ridiculous blue eyes and her tiny nose that doesn’t look pretty, but you can’t reason with her. Sophie is only pretty when she’s got her flat pants on. And if she can’t wear those, the tears and gnashing of teeth and stream of self-loathing that follows is irrational, heartbreaking and frustrating as all hell. There are only so many times you can say, “You are gorgeous no matter what you wear.” before it turns into you yelling, “You’re wearing the ugly jeans so just get dressed already!”

So pretty. But only in flat pants!

So pretty. But only in flat pants!

She’s trying so damn hard to recognize letters and print like a pro and read a book unaided. She’s not there yet, but this year the Valentine’s took waaay less time to print and the word recognition is coming faster and more furious, and the pages of her printed letters and numbers have littered our house to the point where I toss them out because there are SO MANY. She’s always bringing home a book she’s made, or showing me that she sees her name or wants to know if the random letters she’s printed say anything. She’s trying SO HARD. I can’t wait for the penny to drop for her, not only because things will get read a lot faster, but also the pride she feels in the tiny steps she’s been taking will turn into a full-blown mind explosion of excitement. I can’t wait.

This face times a MILLION when she finally reads in a stream without stopping.

This face times a MILLION when she finally reads in a stream without stopping.

She’s thoughtful. SO thoughtful. And not just in kindness, but in thinking through everything you say and connecting it to other stuff that has been said or that she’s seen. We’ve been watching Full House on Netflix as a family. Sophie is by far the most interested in it. We were listening to the radio the other day and the radio host was talking about how they have guest DJ’s every week. Sophie immediately stopped colouring and looked at me. “Did he just say D.J.? Like Full House?” And thus began a 10-minute conversation about the difference between Full-House DJ and a radio DJ. Tricky stuff.

Such good sisters...except when they're SCREAMING at each other.

Such good sisters…except when they’re SCREAMING at each other.

But again, none of these things are glaringly new or crazy insane. We’ve had a relatively quiet year here with Sophie. She’s gone to school, made new friends, is often at our neighbour’s house to play with another girl her age, and generally we just manage her fashion meltdowns and lippy-ness (her wit and smarts get her into trouble more often than not). And the more I think about it, about the year that was for her and me and us, I kind of feel like I cheated her. I’m so focused on Lillian and the war that we are waging right now and getting her ready for school and I am trying to keep Isaac from killing himself since we’ve firmly landed in the climb-everything-and-conquer-it stage, that I’m really not handling Sophie much at all. Really, the only things that Sophie and I do together are get up, read, get dropped off at school, get picked up from school, and then negotiate our way to dinner and then bedtime. It’s so…removed and hands-off. I don’t worry about her going pee or poop everywhere anymore. Generally when she climbs things it has zero impact (unless it’s a fire hydrant…then a nice, blood-spouting hole appears in her chin). And her temper tantrums are usually dramatic friendship woes (that are normally fabricated by her) or rages against the disgusting pants that flair on the way down and don’t hug her legs.

All grown up. *sob*

All grown up. *sob*

I was told when I had her, 6 years ago, that the time will fly quickly. That one day she won’t need me as much and I’ll miss the time when she does. And in truth, I can’t believe it’s been 6 years. I can’t believe she’ll be 6. But, I’m so busy being needed by Lillian and Isaac that I’ve missed missing her needing me as much. It makes me want to grab her and really relish in her independence and her sauciness and her laughter and her crazy thinking. And it makes me worry that maybe I’ve failed her. Maybe in not being there for her, even if she doesn’t need me, I’m making her feel unloved or like she’s drifting away from us.

Not too old to sit in a foam chair and watch a  movie with her siblings.

Not too old to sit in a foam chair wearing fairy wings to watch a movie with her siblings.

But then yesterday she curled up with me to watch DJ hang out with Kimmy Gibler, and I loved the feel of her weight and warmth and her hand and arm crooked through mine. And today, when we walked across the parking lot of a doctor’s office, she grabbed for my hand without me even asking, just as I was debating whether or not I should ask her since we’ve been walking independently across streets on the way to school now for months.

Wearing new birthday flat pants, shirt and purse. STYLIN'. She says she's "fancy." I can not argue.

Wearing new birthday flat pants, shirt and purse. STYLIN’. She says she’s “fancy.” I can not argue.

And then, just like that, all is right in the world again.

To my eldest, my tallest (for now), my sauciest – happy happy birthday, my love. 🙂 I’m excited to see what this year brings us and how far you’ll go, even if it is further away from me.

Love, Mama

~ Julia

Birthday boy

We’re in a tricky spot, over here at my house. It’s tricky because March is BIRTHDAY-PACKED, but Ben has a huge deadline that’s due date is actually his birthday day. So what is a Laurentino, who LOVES celebrating, supposed to do when the guy you love to celebrate with, love to celebrate, love to love is too busy to be celebrated? WRITE A MUSHY BLOG POST!

He’s turning the big 3-6, so I thought I’d give you 36 reasons why Ben is awesome:

1. He’s the best father to our kids. They squeal when he comes home, they demand his attention, they curl up and snooze with him in the mornings, and he’s working SO damn hard for them right now.

Daddy the wild ride (counterclockwise from top left: Sophie, Lillian and Isaac)

Daddy, the wild ride (counterclockwise from top left: Sophie, Lillian and Isaac)

2. He’s committed. To our marriage, to our family, to his game developer dream, to his footie passion. He’s all in. Always.

3. He’s strong. From opening stubborn, slimy sippy cups, to carrying all the laundry from all the rooms down all the stairs, he’s a tough guy…and I appreciate it with both of my carpal tunneled hands.

4. He’s a softie. No, seriously. Is there a poignant moment in the movie or TV show you’re watching? Get ready…he’ll be teary. It’s adorable.

5. He’s THERE for you. Need something? Anything? Like moving your house for the 845793rd time, or needing some groceries dropped off, or a push out a giant snowbank? He’s your guy. In a heartbeat.

6. He appreciates a good laugh. And when you’re raising ALL the CRAZIES, it’s a good thing…otherwise we’d both be crying (see #4).

7. He’s not afraid of hard work. Manual labour, thinking labour, working until the wee hours of the morning, he’s in. And he’s committed (see #2).

8. He’s the king of goofing off. I’m a little nutty…and a lot Type A personality…and my go-go-go-go can quickly kill me. He’s a perfect balance to my nonsensical need to busy all. the. time. Without him, I’d be in a corner, rocking, with so many more grey hairs.

9. He’s a family man. In every sense of the word. He’s all about keeping family okay, and family includes our five, our one in heaven, his side, my side, and the life friends we’ve picked up along the way.

10. He’s tough. Different than strong, he can take a beating, both on the field and in life, and keep moving, keep fighting. I haven’t seen him give up yet…even when all the signs were yelling at him to quit.

11. He’s handsome. ‘Nuff said.

Right?!

Right?!

12. He can smell good. Note the ‘can’. He doesn’t always. But when he does…mmmm…he smells good. 

13. He gives the best hugs. They’re big and all-encompassing and warm and when I’m in them I feel small and protected and home. And the coolest part? He’s passed this genetic gift onto Lillian, who is an all-body hugger.

14. He’s funny. Sometimes. And sometimes not. He makes me laugh sometimes. But sometimes not. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

15. He’s smart. Smarter than me in so many ways. Smart bookwise and computerwise and lifewise and lovewise. He’s a smartie pants…and our kids will benefit from that greatly when they come home with trigacalculusometry homework.

16. He works hard to find the right gift. Research, listening to what you say out loud and what you say in not so many words, then searching and trying so hard to get it right.

17. He writes the best cards. Birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day, just because…Ben’s notes are the sweetest, most thought out…and it’s ridiculous because I am a writer and he out-writes me!

18. He wants to hang out with our kids. I’m not sure you’re aware, but they’re crazy. And I would fully understand that after a long day at work he’d want to hide out and not see anyone. But he doesn’t. He’s on the floor, playing with them, laughing with them, then herding them up the stairs, hogtying them into their pyjamas and reading them all the stories even when the stories are nonsense.

19. He wants to hang out with me. I’m not sure you’re aware, but I’m crazy. And I would fully understand that after a long day at work and a long night of hanging out with our crazy loin fruit, he’d want to hide out and not see anyone…but he doesn’t. He wants to watch How I Met Your Mother together and spend time together. He’s a glutton for punishment.

20. He giggles. He says he chuckles, because it’s a more manly word (his words), but I swear it – this burly man giggles.

21. He remembers all the 21s. We started dating on November 21 and we got married on May 21, so 21 is kind of our number. Every month we make sure we say, Happy 21! to each other on the 21st. He remembers more often than me…and usually when we’re rushing around and I’m about ready to lose my mind, he reminds me: we had romantic moments and we have a great life. Happy 21!

22. He’s warm. As someone with zero ability to maintain any sort of normal body temperature, having someone warm sleep beside you, let you snuggle up to on the couch, or wrap you in a warming hug when you’ve just come back from a -20-something run, is GOLD. AND?! His babies are little heaters. 🙂 I WIN.

23. He likes to play. Football, board games, video games, in the sand, in the water, in the bath, in the snow, and in the sun – he likes to play and participate. It’s awesome. And lets me nap…

24. He supports napping. Ben does not believe in taking naps. He hates them. He feels like it’s a waste of time. I thrive on naps. I LOVE naps. If I could have two naps a day, I would. In a heartbeat. So the fact that Ben fully supports my love affair with naps, while himself hating them, is awesome. And so generous. Now, if he would just come home from work so I can have one…or two.

25. He believes and loves God. For non-believers or even agnostics, this might not seem like a big deal. But when you talk to God a lot, when you love God a lot, when you want to raise God-lovers and -believers, this is an incredible gift. We are a family of believers and it’s lovely.

26. He’s actively interested in stuff I’m not. This might seem like a bad thing, but it actually makes for great conversation that doesn’t get boring. I like watching football with Ben, but Ben LOVES football, so he can answer my more detailed questions about contracts, money, culture AND plays and stats. I enjoy the odd video game, but Ben can talk about the development piece, or the possible reasons a developer made the decisions they did. Not dull at all.

27. He believes in me. I want to be a writer, a crocheter, a card-maker, a baker, a runner, a good mom, a good wife, and Ben? He believes I can do all those things well, successfully, and he tells me as much. He’s my number 1 fan and I’m so lucky.

28. He’s my best friend. It wasn’t this way in the beginning. I had lots of best girl-friends. But now? He’s one of my best friends and it’s the best part of our relationship.

29. He’s a good man in a storm. I’m not too bad in a storm myself, but he’s better. And at the moment that I start to lose my shipshapeness, his kicks in to hyper drive. He helps me keep my head, and will do everything in his power to fix, stop, or make the storm palatable.

30. He trusts me. This could be a sign of insanity or poor judgement on his part, but he trusts me with our home and our babies, with their care and keeping. He trusts me to be a good mom. It’s a huge thing and I don’t take it lightly.

31. He’s trustworthy. I don’t worry about Ben. I know he’ll be there, he’ll do his best, that he’ll work hard, that he’ll take the right things seriously, and that together we’re stronger.

32. He takes pride in his athleticism. Which is an asset for me, who, although has found a love for fitness, still has a great affinity for her bed – it’s inspiring. And for our girls – because we both work out and exercise, they talk about exercising and working out. It’s keeping our family healthy.

33. He is system-oriented. He has a method for blowing his nose. A way to brush his teeth. A manner in which he makes bread. A routine for everything that can be regimented. It’s endearing…and sometimes enraging…but mostly nice and predictable. Our babies? Not predictable. He’s a nice change of pace.

34. He’s confidently Ben. He knows what he likes and what he doesn’t. And he’s not afraid to ask for these things, but in a timely and appropriate manner. He doesn’t like semi-sweet chocolate chips, but make him cookies with them and he’ll eat and appreciate them. He wears boxer-briefs and refuses to wear anything else. Buy him the wrong underwear, he will be returning it and exchanging it for the right kind. See? Appropriate responses. 😉

35. He tells me how he feels. I grew up in a family of girls, so talking about our feelings was a daily, almost hourly event. Ben…not so much. The fact that he will actually tell me how he feels is a gift I don’t take lightly. I appreciate that he shares just for me…even if it’s not the oversharing I’m used to.

36. He lets me celebrate him. Ben didn’t grow up with giant birthday displays, so the fact that he lets me gush on him, spoil him, and force him to participate in fantastic organized birthday events is awesome. I love birthday-ing the people that I love…and since he is THE love of my LIFE, it’s incredibly generous that he lets me birthday him the way see fit.

Happy happy happy birthday, Ben!! I love you!

~ Julia

A very merry unbirthday to you! TO YOU!

“Babe..?”

“Yes?”

“I’m 25…right?”

“Are you actually asking me this?”

“Yes – how old am I?”

“You are 26!”

“I lost a whole year…..?”

This is an actual conversation Cody and I had about three weeks ago.

It seems that as you get older for women, you start going backwards in age, but for men you just lose years. You stop counting all together.

Today Cody turns 27! I am marrying this handsome devil.

And although he is not a big fan of birthdays,(tonight’s festivities include Chinese food and a Sons Of Anarchy marathon), I am a huge fan of him!

Love you Cody! Happy birthday! I have a feeling this is going to be a great year!

~ Jacqui

What I know

Close on the heels of my post about weaning depression, something I had no idea about, I thought I’d follow up with a post of things I do know for sure. And since it’s my 32nd birthday on Friday, I thought I’d give you 32 things I know for sure. Because I’m crazy that way.

1. Embrace coffee. Or green tea. Or something hot that kick starts you. I spent decades avoiding coffee and now, it’s one of my favourite things ever. Also, it makes me go.

Ryan-Gosling-Meme-Delivering-Coffee

2. Move. Go for a run. A swim. A dance. A walk. A yoga sequence. A gymnastics routine. Some parkour. Anything. Just get up and move. I didn’t understand as an indoor youngster, reading the books and eschewing gym class, but damn, it’s my new drug and I’m all for it.

3. Take care of you. No, seriously. Take a break. A rest. A timeout. A reading session. A napping session. A running session. A session that rejuvenates you. And when you need it, ask for help.

4. Say no. I’m working on this one, I really am. But say no to things. Your time is precious and sometimes no is the right answer and yes will just hurt.

No

5. Say yes. To new things. To happy things. To positivity. To light. To spirituality. To the future. To looking up and standing in the sun.

6. Family is everything. Blood family or life family, family is everything. It is what props you up, reminds you who you are, and helps you grow into who you will be. It’s everything. Don’t poo on it.

7. Make friends. Friends that get you. Friends that are fighting similar battles to you. Friends that will love you and your mess.

8. Be a truth-teller. Your truth. All of it. Every single messy piece of it. Even the parts that scare you. Tell the truth to yourself, to your family, to your friends, to strangers who will benefit from hearing it. Never stop telling it.

Mess

9. Eat your vegetables. And fruit. And whole foods. And things not purchased in a box or a package or are ready-made. I didn’t understand why our parents made us eat ‘real’ food when we were growing up, but I’m so glad they did.

Butter vs margarine

10. Eat a cookie. Or a brownie. Or some chips. Or that cheeseburger. Just don’t do it every day, all day. Your body deserves better. It does. But you also deserve a treat. Or two.

11. Have fun. No, seriously. Life is hard. Really hard. And it just keeps going and going, filling up your time and energy with hard things. So, cut loose a little. Giggle. Stay up too late. Play that game. Read that saucy book. Dance your own jig to your own tune. Enjoy your time here.

Daily Odd Compliment - sweat pants

12. Help. Your family. Your friends. Your neighbours. Strangers. People who are hurting in your town. People who are hurting across the ocean. People you walk in life with. People you will never meet. Where you can, when you can, help.

13. Be kind. In word and deed, be a nice person. You never know when you’ll meet someone again, or when you’ll need something from someone, or what they are battling. Be as kind as you need them to be to you. And then add some more. Because there just isn’t enough kindness in the world.

14. Learn to park. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to deal with a bad parking job. So, figure out your vehicle’s edges and length and depth and learn how to park. Countless people will be grateful.

15. Be polite. Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. I’m sorry. Excuse me. Pardon? Small words, big impact.

16. Babies are hard. Really hard. Like life. They suck everything out of you all the time. They ask for things all the time. They are a 24/7 commitment that you’ll never be ready for. They are really, really hard.

17. Babies are worth it. Every second. Every minute. Every hour. Every hug, squeeze, kiss, ‘I love you.’ All of it. Worth it.

18. Mental illness is as serious as a heart attack. It kills. It hurts. It destroys. It can be beaten. It can be stopped. It must be.

2013-11-21-Helpful%20Advice

19. Stop judging covers. That chubby girl? She can run. That run-over-looking person? Doing their best. That human race, full of people? All them, showing up, doing their best. Even you.

20. Money isn’t everything, but it sure helps. We were broke growing up. And now, I’m living a one-income life with three kids. Money isn’t everything…but damn, it helps.

21. Love is everything. For each other. For yourself. For God. It’s everything. If you walk in love, if you work in love, if you act in love, you’ll never go wrong. Period.

smallthingsgreatlove-768x1024

22. Put your damn cart away. No, really. I watched a woman who had to be in her 80s reorganize an entire cart caddy in a grocery store parking lot. She said, “If everyone would just put their cart away, we wouldn’t have this problem.” Never forgot it. Always put my cart away properly.

23. Listen. Not to respond, but to listen. To let someone else be heard. We all need to be heard. Make sure you’re doing your part.

Heard

24. Believe in the good. The bad will always be there, weighing you down, pulling you under. Believe in the light, in the good, in the hope. And look for it. Actively. Always.

25. Sit in silence. Turn off the news. Turn off the music. Turn off the internet. Turn off the chatter. Sit still. Breathe. Disconnect. Note that you didn’t die. Remember what it was like to be quiet? To not be plugged in? Take time to reacquaint yourself with it.

Silence

26. Sometimes it sucks. You’re asked/required/obligated to do something you don’t want to do. Sometimes you have to suck it up, grow up and do it. I feel like this one gets confused with number 3, Take care of you. Yes, you should take care of you, but you’re still a grown-up and you still have to do stuff you don’t wanna. Too bad. Get cracking.

27. Be creative. I had a boss that told me I wasn’t creative. He was an asshole and wrong. So wrong. I am creative, in the cards I make, the words I write, the mittens I crochet, and the songs I make up on the spot about going pee in the potty and wiping our bums and pulling up our pants because we’re soooo prettttyyyyyy. I’m creative, dammit. And it’s good for the body, mind and soul.

28. Don’t listen to assholes. You’ll notice them, quietly or loudly, obviously or passive aggressively shoving other people down so they feel bigger, better, smarter, faster, more successful. I’m not sure if they’ll ever ‘get theirs’, but I do know their opinion of you and your talent and your brain and your body doesn’t matter. Not one little bit. Don’t give them power. You have the power and you are awesome.

29. Make it better. Pick up litter. Rearrange some carts. Hold the door. Fix the mat so no one else trips. Pay for the person behind you. Don’t wait for a thank you. Don’t demand a thank you. Just leave this world better than when you got it.

30. Love with everything you’ve got. It’s going to hurt sometimes. And it’s going to be hard sometimes. And sometimes you’ll question your sanity. But, loving with everything I have has been one of the most rewarding things ever. I love Ben with everything, even though I want to kill him sometimes. I love my babies with everything I have, even though one of them lives in heaven and the others I want to run away from sometimes (at least once a day). And I get hurt. And bruised. And sometimes I don’t know if I’ll recover. But, I’m all in, baby. All. In.

Broken heart

31. Have dirty little secrets. Like the dirt you swept under the couch with your foot before your guests arrived. Like the smutty book you like to read. Like the so-bad-it’s-awesome television you can’t miss. Like the Oreos you can shove into your mouth without any children noticing. Any little thing that makes your life a little brighter, yet is probably not meant for public consumption? Keep on keepin’ on.

32. Celebrate your birthdays. I don’t get this “I don’t like my birthday” crap. I just don’t. And the whole, “I’m 29 again! Twelfth year in a row! WOO!”? No clue. You made it around the sun again. You are given a day that’s yours. There are people who want to celebrate you. You should celebrate you. Grab your cake and your glass and let’s toast the incredible things you did last year, like write potty songs and survive five-year-old fashion crises, and outlast the weaning engorgement, and all of the time spent loving and helping and creating and resting and just being.

Birthday hat

~ Julia

Birthday time is round the bend!

My birthday is coming up!

In the past, for reasons all my own, I have not liked birthdays. However, I have had some really great ones!

So here are my TOP three birthdays!!!

1. My 15th
Julia, Toni, Jacqui, and I believe our other ‘sister’ Becky took me out; it was one of the first times! We had a steak dinner, I got a virgin frozen daiquiri, and then we went to the movies. We all got dressed up and it was fantastic! I have no recollection of the movie, just that it was the first birthday that I loved.

2. My 19th

I was in college at this time and away for my birthday day. My darling friend Kate arranged a pub-crawl. I got sang to by a street full of random people, we sang Bohemian Rhapsody on the bus on the way to downtown London, and I got some boys in a band to sing me several Beatles songs! I was also really drunk for the very first time in my life and all thanks to a great group of friends and seven bars.

3. My 23rd

I MADE IT BACK!

I MADE IT BACK!

I had just moved away to Peterborough, had a small get together with Joe’s wonderful aunts, and then got home just in time for a small birthday celebration with my family. Kim made an amazing cake, which I had seen on Facebook earlier in the day, but did not put two and two together. My mom and sisters set this one up, and it was definitely one of the greats. I didn’t think I would even be able to come home for my birthday last year, so the fact that I got even a small celebration with the people I love was amazing.

This year, I hope, will be another great! I want to add more to my list!

I can’t wait to celebrate it with the sisterhood, friends, and adopted family!

~ Andreah

The difference a year makes

A year ago, I thought I had all the time in the world. My bag wasn’t packed. I was focusing on Sophie starting school. I was focusing on getting a not-for-profit for PPD/PPMD awareness off the ground. I was focused on loving my new niece and my broken sister-in-law. I had all the time in the world.

And then you happened.

First photo

First photo

I was sleeping in bed. Dreaming of steak, probably, because that’s all I craved with you. STEAK. And PORK. And anything barbecued. I wanted MEAT. Lots and lots of FIRE-KISSED MEAT. In my BELLY. NOW. (By the way, your dad couldn’t have been happier – I craved chocolate milkshakes and chocolate milk and fudgsicles with Sophie, and strawberry milkshakes with Lillian – but MEAT? Barbecued at all hours of the day and night? SOLD.)

First REAL clothes

First REAL clothes

And then, I started peeing the bed. Or at least, that’s what I thought was happening. Lots and lots of pee.

Father and son

Father and son

I got up, trying not to keep peeing, thinking that there was no way at 3:45 a.m. that I could have this much pee in me. I hadn’t been drinking all night long…I had gone pee before bed…and at 7468543 months pregnant, I had a bladder the size of a peanut. There was NO WAY I could be peeing this much.

First official photo as a couple

First official photo as a couple

When I sat on the toilet (TMI? Too bad.) a huge gush of water came out of me. My water water. It broke. I actually had a normal labour phenomena (I suck at birthing babies. Cooking babies, I’m a pro. Birthing, getting them out, not so much.)! Now to wake up my deaf (Ben takes his hearing aid out at night) husband while not spilling my innards (TMI again? Too bad again.) all over our carpet. I shoved towels in between my legs and waddled over to our bed. I poked the sleeping bear husband and got him to put in his hearing aid. He looked at me grumpily. I said, “My water broke.” He jumped out of bed. Correct response.

Official photoshoot courtesy of Close Your Eyes Photography

Official photoshoot courtesy of Close Your Eyes Photography

We called my incredible, favourite, most awesome midwife Cathy. And by we, I mean Ben, because people, I had to PACK A BAG TO TAKE TO THE HOSPITAL. With towels between my legs. Priorities. And then we had to call the mothers (someone has to take care of the current babies while we birth the next baby!).

First bath (aka his favourite!)

First bath (aka his favourite!)

Nana (Ben’s mom) came over and Cathy met us at the hospital. We had done something similar at 31 weeks. I had had contractions all day that wouldn’t go away no matter how many left-sided lie downs I had. They were able to give me the lung-boosting shots and the contractions eventually stopped on their own with two days of bed rest. But this, at 36 weeks, was leaking AND contractions. CRAP.

I love me some snuggly baby.

I love me some snuggly baby.

When we got to the hospital, Cathy told a nurse that my water had broke. The nurse asked if I was sure – sure that it broke and it wasn’t just pee, which apparently is a regular occurrence. Cathy said, “She’s got three towels in her pants (I DID, and I sat on a bunch in the van), so I think she’s serious.” The nurse was suitably impressed. I was suitably leaking.

Baptism day! Heathen no more.

Baptism day! Heathen no more.

I got hooked up to an IV, a fetal heart monitor, and a clicker for contraction tracking. Ben and I both got bracelets. This was the real deal. We had a C-section booked for 8 a.m. on Friday September 13. It was Tuesday August 27. BAH.

He's a suit man. SO CUTE.

He’s a suit man. SO CUTE.

The on-call OB came in, because although it looked like our baby wanted to come out the all-natural way, he was breech, breech, breech and with my super awesome (read: CRAP) history of getting babies out of my belly, a C-section was by far the best answer. I was in the operating room, getting my spinal and chatting with a new round of nurses, holding my breath and praying that everything would be okay, that Ben would be there in time (he had zero reason not to…I’m just a professional worrier), that our babies would be okay, that if anything happened to me everyone would be okay, that my baby would be okay.

First food. Success?

First food. Success?

At 7:11 a.m. on August 27th you were born. Isaac Earl Kenneth Mills. Our son. A boy.

You can see why I was freaked out by the boy thing, right?

You can see why I was freaked out by the boy thing, right?

You weighed 6 pounds, 7.5 ounces. You were in an incubator on monitors because of your early arrival (just days shy of being considered term) and because you were in withdrawal from the antidepressants I had been taking since my bout with PPMD from Lillian (you were jittery, but okay). You were perfect. And I got a nice little break from life since you weren’t in my room and your crazy sisters with hanging out with Aunt Toni and Grammie. It was kind of heaven.

Such a stud

Such a stud

After a few short days, we both got to go home, to reality and crazy and ramping up to Sophie starting school. The first day didn’t go as I had planned (go figure). Instead of walking to Sophie to school as a family, with a giant pregnant belly, we drove to school because I couldn’t walk that far with a new C-section incision or just after giving birth. I stood, against my midwife’s instructions, for 45 minutes, watching your sister get used to her new classroom and all the parents and children marveling at how small and new you were. Exactly one week old.

The beginning of the end

The beginning of the end

Things have changed a lot since then. I broke again and Aunt Toni and therapists (or super heroes, as Sophie calls them) Colleen and Victoria put me back together. I was in love with you from the start, which was different than the earned love I had with your sisters. I learned a lot about penis care, which is VERY different from vagina care (HOLY SCHAMOLY, who knew morning wood began this early in life?!). And I learned to love a son, which really is no different than loving a daughter at this point, but I’m told it will change, will become something unique to the love I have for your sisters.

Our almost-one-year old boy, eating dirt and taking names

Our almost-one-year old boy, eating dirt and taking names

You will be one on Wednesday. It’s been a year since we met you, a year since your punkish ways disrupted any semblance of plan we had for the transition from summer to fall, from no school to school. A whole year. And we are so blessed that you are ours and that you’re here.

Happy, happy birthday, mister. We love you.

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

Birthday love: 2 on the 25th

I love this week in July.

I love it because two of the most remarkable women in my life are celebrating their birthdays this Friday.

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That being said, it’s only natural that I should write a mushy, full of sap post in honour of these incredible blessings I’m so lucky to have – you’ve been warned.

Tania – a very long time ago, a time before Michael and rings and bridesmaid duty, you and I determined through a series of events and discoveries that we were probably the loves of each others lives. Since then, you and I refer to each other as just that.

Love of my life – I have watched you grow, change, love and learn. You have taught me what true class and grace is. You have also taught me what a backbone is and more importantly when and how to use it. You have been there for my very first firsts, laughed with me at the funny ones and held my hand through the worst of them – you have never failed me. You are my ride-or-die chick.

I hope this beautiful year ahead of you brings you more joy than you know what to do with. I hope your heart is always full and I hope you know just how much you mean to me. Happy, happy birthday my beautiful friend! I’m so very looking forward to this weekend of celebrating you!

Chantelle, Tania and I celebrating last year

Chantelle, Tania and I celebrating last year

M – God blessed me with you as a bonus to loving your dad. That’s the coolest gift I’ve ever received and I am so thankful I hit the jack pot in bonus love. Your brilliance was and is hard to hide and I knew from our first few encounters that you are a very special person with a very big heart.

You are destined for great things and it makes me so proud to say you are my family. You have taught me so much about life and helped me grow an incredible amount as a person. I am so grateful to call you my daughter and even more so my friend. You mean the world to me, beauty.

I hope on this birthday – besides soaking in the Southern sun – you can feel how loved, wanted and celebrated you are. Happy, happy birthday our beautiful girl. I hope this year is incredible for you in every way possible. (P.S. I miss you and want sushi. Come home now?)

M and I <3

M and I ❤

I’m so very lucky.

~ Toni

Great things may come!

Well, a lot has happened in seven days. Sadly, I have no prospects yet on the job front, but I am still looking.

However a lot of good things have come our way. Joe is doing amazing at work and his bosses are really impressed!
He comes home, and instead of just being tired he is so excited to tell me about his day, how it went, and all the things he got to learn. He really loves being in the mechanics field and I am so happy he has such an amazing boss, great work and that he gets to go there and love his job.

Now for the continuation of good news – Joe and I almost missed out on what this week is.

Today we will have been together for two and a half years, and I know that doesn’t sound big, but to me that is an awesome milestone! I love Joe more and more with each passing day and I am so glad that I have found my rock and partner for the rest of my life! This is a small milestone, especially when you look at how long Julia, Toni, and Jacqui have been with their guys, but to me this is big! I never thought I would find someone like Joe to love forever.

Now, the second thing! Joe’s 25th birthday is tomorrow! I am super excited, even if he is not. I have a small celebration in mind for Friday night, but it’s going to be a general weekend of whatever we feel like, which I know Joe will love.

Joe and I don’t really get to spend a lot of time together, which sucks, but the time we do spend together is wonderful. Jacqui once described herself as a Hunter’s Widow, and I have been described by Joe’s Aunt Linda as a Mechanic’s Widow.

“At least you know he’s not with another girl! Just another car!” is one of the frequent statements by Aunt Linda, and there is so much truth in those words. I can go by the shop on my way to handing out resumes and Joe hardly looks up because he’s right elbow deep in the work beside his boss; however I am not complaining – Joe loves his job, his boss, and his boss’s family, who have indeed become like family to us.

And although the time we spend together is sometimes short, it is never in short supply of love and laughter. I am so excited for our many milestone and his birthday, and the future we have together unfurling before us.

Me and Joe being Silly!

Me and Joe being silly!

Joe, here is to many more years, birthdays, and wonderful moments together!

I love you!

~ Andreah

O, Canada

Oh, Canada <3

O, Canada ❤

Happy 147th birthday, Canada!

The sisters of The Weather Vane Sisterhood are so very proud to be Canadian girls.

This big, beautiful country provides so much for us to love. From the freedoms we are lucky to have been afforded, to the kindness that we are known for, to the natural gorgeousness that lies coast to coast – Canada, you have my heart.

Personally, many of the cliches and stereotypes apply to me as a Canadian.

From my adoration of the great game of hockey –

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My personal weakness when it comes to fries, curds and gravy.

Yuuuuuuuuumers!

Yuuuuuuuuummers!

To my favourite bird and their haunting morning call, the loon.

Takes me back to Gull Lake every time

Takes me back to Gull Lake and my childhood every time.

To the shameful addiction I have to liquid Canadian crack.

Tim Horton's coffee - a staple and necessity.

Tim Hortons coffee – a staple and necessity.

Not to mention how stunning I find the vast differences in landscape that this country offers.

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I even love our ridiculous habit of apologizing.

Has to be a real stat, it's on the Internet.

Has to be a real stat, it’s on the internet.

As always, I will celebrate you today, Canada. Your birthday reminds me how lucky we are to live in such a fantastic Country and be able to call ourselves Canadians.

Happy birthday Canada!

Happy birthday, Canada!

Happy Canada Day to all of our readers! We hope you have a safe and memory- and laughter-filled Canada Day with all of your family and friends!

~ Toni

Home <3

Home ❤