25 before 25 – A look back

Well ladies and gentlemen readers – I turned 25 on September 21st…. and man was it fantastic! Not only did I celebrate one of my soul sister’s nuptials to one of the most amazing and kind-hearted man I know, but I also spent the day with my family – with tacos! Yes…tacos and Dr. Pepper…I love Dr. Pepper.

So 25 means that it is time to reflect on the resolutions or tasks that I gave myself before I hit the big 2-5. To be completely frank, I had forgot about the list I made – oops! So let’s go through this…

Walk more to explore than as a means of transportation was the first on the list and surprisingly I did this! Bacon, Hendrix and myself have a morning routine, which 3 out of 5 days in a week I keep!

I noted that  I should grow a gardenAHAHAHAHAH! As I am reading this, I can’t help but look at the date this was written – March – and I think that it was right after this that I signed on to a major project at work and said goodbye to any spring or summer I had. I turned in my “green thumb,” which I never had in the first place, for a laptop and overtime. That “garden” never had a chance. I didn’t even weed my garden. This year, I went with the “natural” look…or the “don’t visit this house because crazy people live here” look, you can take your pick.  Yes, I live in that house! The one where mothers shield their children and rush them along the sidewalk as they whisper to quicken their step. Seriously, it’s that bad!

Well, this one was clearly obvious that I would have to do it, and I did – I planned our wedding (note how I said ‘our,’ Ken!). Let me check off the list what we have accomplished, because I am pretty proud. We have our  *insert drum roll*:

  • caterer
  • venue
  • photographer
  • florist
  • DJ
  • invitations are being put together
  • guest list is made

Yeah, that’s right! WOOOOOO! Go me!

I wanted to cook outside of my comfort zone. I bought a new cookbook a couple of weeks ago while I was still in my 24th year (therefore it still counts), and I have made some amazing meals. Cody can attest to that – just ask him!

The next resolution was to not sweat the small stuff. I failed at this one. I am not being hard on myself, I am being truthful. There is no way that in a couple of short months I curbed my impatience. I am still trying and I did try. I am going to put this in the “win” category, though, because I am feeling spicy and because it is a daily battle for me not to bottle someone due to general stupidity which is proven by my not being arrested!

Enjoy the summer was number six and, well, in true Canadian fashion we didn’t really have a hot summer weather-wise, but it was a fantastic summer. Cody and I got away for a weekend, I spent days outside sun bathing, I went to the beach, I drank, and I ate. It was fantastic!

Number seven was to go canoeing this summer. Well, I didn’t go canoeing but I did go kayaking while away with Cody’s family  and it was absolutely fantastic! This also is a big check mark for number sixteen which stated to spend more time with Cody’s family – so once again WIN category!  I also listed To hike with my sisters.  I went hiking quite often, and early in the morning with not only my sisters but our extended sisterhood ladies and then some!

Be more involved with my nieces and nephew was number 8 and better late then never I spent the whole day with them yesterday…or more like the morning with all three monsters, the afternoon with the drool man and the evening with Princess Sophie (who is now refusing to be called a princess because she is no longer one…when did that happen?!?!?!) and then bedtime with all three terrorists again!

 

Drool monster extrodinare!

Drool monster extraordinaire!

 

Timbit monster!

Timbit monster! Definitely not a princess any more!  

 

Sassy slug sister!

Sassy slug sister!

Number ten and eleven were to sleep more and work less. I am happy to report I am still putting in lots of overtime, however I am sleeping properly.

As I read on, I realize that I copped out on this list of resolutions! Sorry guys! Number 12 was to walk the dogs more, which was kind of a repeat of number 1 where I vowed to walk more to explore Ayr.

Cody has been out of the house more, like I listed in number 13, but not in my doing. He has taken this whole “Hunter’s Life” to heart and I find myself more and more lonesome at the house. I am not complaining – I love that he is active and out and about. In fact, it gives me more time to gather myself after work so I can be 100% for him. However, now that I say that, babies are on the horizon (no I am not pregnant yet) which means this may be the last hunting season that I will get to do that.

Number fourteen and fifteen go hand in hand – to dance until the morning sun comes up and to drink more wine! Happy to report that this summer was full of wine and dancing (it’s the best form of exercise if you ask me!).

For those of you keeping track number 16, Cody and I spend more time with his family, was brought up in number 7; however, while were are on the topic of all things family, my mom is still working her ass off, so the extra amount of me and her time has not been as successful as I would have liked, as stated in number 23. This is not just her fault, I am just as guilty as well. Life gets busy, but that will hopefully change once she has that CGA In her hand. As well, my Dad has a crazy schedule of driving all over Ontario and Canada, so I have not been able to see him as much as I had liked to as per number 18. I did see him on a past weekend for my birthday lunch and it was absolutely fantastic!

Cody and I have not had the chance to expand on his family tree like I listed in number 19.

Back to going in order – have I confused you yet?

My house is still a mess, so number 20 to do more laundry and cleaning has not been taken care of as well as it should have, unless we have family coming over. This also means that number 20 to get organized has soooo not even been tackled. Seriously, my desk at home is a mess, my desk at work is a mess, my house is a mess…I need a life nanny! Anyone willing to be my life nanny for free?

I am proud to announce the birth of my best friend’s baby, which as number 21 on my list. Emma Grace was born on September 18th. She is so beautiful with a full head of hair and gorgeous eyes! Ashley and Marty are over the moon, and I am so jealous of their beautiful family! Makes me want one of my own even more!!!

My heart was instantly won over - Emma Grace <3

My heart was instantly won over – Emma Grace ❤

Number 23 was a disaster as soon as I wrote it out on this list – there was no way I could stop talking as much as I do, but I think I am still a good listener?…Sorry co-workers and desk mates!

I did not reach my fitness goal, but, in a way, I did reach it. I am more comfortable in my skin because of working out, however I am no where near my goal. I like food way too much…and TV…and being lazy…my own fault.

The final goal I set was to find a silver lining in every day. This is never ending. I will always look for the positive to avoid becoming a pessimistic person.

Well, as confusing that may have been for some of our readers I hope you followed along and are still following along. I have a feeling that 25 will be an amazing year, maybe even the best one yet!

~ Jacqui

What no one told me about going back to work

So…

I landed a job. A great job. A job that I am really enjoying.

I started a few weeks ago and let me tell you, there are a few things that no one told me about going back to work after being off from traditional work and nannying for my sister.

1. It doesn’t get easier, you get better: Let me explain. I once wrote about being the new girl and I’d like to change my opinion on the matter – it’s not that it gets easier, it’s that I get better at it. Whether it be school, a group of friends,  Michael’s co-workers or a new company and team, it’s still a bit nerve wracking for me, I have just learned the ropes so I know how it goes and how I can add to or subtract from the outcome of each situation.

2. You don’t forget “how”: I truly had myself gripped in fear that I didn’t know if I would be as good as I had been after being off from work while Nannying for Julia. While I am confident in my experience and skill set, I was sure I was going to have to research or relearn certain things that I had not done routinely in several months. Thankfully, I was totally wrong and it was like riding a bicycle, only easier. I got into my comfort zone fairly quickly and in step with my kick-ass team that I am already loving.

Look ma, no hands!

Look ma, no hands!

3. The heartache: Missing the babies – my beautiful nieces and nephew – and how much I got to experience, witness and impact makes my heart ache. It aches so much that the first time we really got to see each other after I went back to work, I cried. Sorry – I bawled like a baby. I chalk it up to Lillian’s exclamation of “Auntie Tomi!” while running toward me, leaping into my arms and wrapping my neck into a huge hug that she just wouldn’t let go from – I was a goner. Even seeing that Isaac’s teeth had cut through tugged at my heart strings for missing the day they were discovered. Add into this the return to normalcy in how often I see my big sis, and it would be an understatement to say that I miss all of the time I was granted to be there with them.

Missed them so, so, so much!

4. How much I had really missed it: When I interviewed with the company I immediately had a good feeling about the fit of the role, the mission and purpose of the company, and my skill set being what they were looking for. This feeling only got stronger the further in the interview stage I got, and with each team member I met throughout the process. Now that I’m in my role, learning the ropes and putting together my first set of events, I can’t tell you how much I had missed being on a team, contributing to a common goal – one that I can truly get behind – and feeling of value within an organization.

I have my first big internal event coming up this week. I am nervous for it to go off without too many hiccups – there are always a few with every event that involves more than two people – but wish me luck that it plays out better than even I could hope for.

~ Toni

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

Team Lillian

For those of you who know me personally, it will come as no surprise that I am head-over-heels, completely in love with my nieces and nephew and adore (pardon my French) the shit out of them.  Each one – yes, even our sweet little, bubble-blowing, Isaac – holds a special place in my heart for something that is unique to them. I love watching as they grow into their own little people, with their own distinct personalities, every day.

The babies

The babies

Lillian, or as we lovingly refer to her, Dilly, and I share a special bond.

It could be because she is also the 2nd oldest or middle child as I am, or it could be that her sense of humor/being a butt resonates with my inner toddler, it could be her sweet disposition (when she’s in the mood of course), or our ‘moments’ (which is when she runs up to me, says “Auntie Tomee, you found me!”, lays her tiny little head gently on my shoulder, and stays contently in my embrace for a few moments as I rock her back and forth) or it could be that she was born at a time in my life when I was struggling and holding her in my arms for the first time set my heart and mind straight with positivity in a way that no other being in my life had been able to. Whatever the reason, I feel incredibly blessed to have this little light in my life.

Dilly Toni

Dilly and I at the 2013 KidsAbility Fun Run

Shortly after her birth, we learned of Dilly’s hearing impairment caused by the genetic disorder Waardenburg Syndrome. Initially, human nature caused me to think of all of the challenges she may face – I worried about how children at school might treat her (kids can be SO mean!), or the people that would discount her abilities as she grew (because adults can be assholes), finished school, entered the working world, or even started dating (for the record, totally not my idea, Ben!).

However, as Dilly settled into her life at home, these worries quickly faded and soon seemed so silly. Between the familiarity/normalcy of the syndrome within our family, the wonderful healthcare providers at Toronto Sick Kids Hospital and the blessing of her cochlear implant and hearing aid, as she grew I knew she would be just fine.

Then we were introduced to KidsAbility.

Before Lillian, I had never heard of this AMAZING organization.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with KidsAbility, it is a local non-profit organization that provides rehabilitation services for children from birth to the age of 18, with developmental delays and disabilities, coordination disorders, physical disabilities, and communication difficulties. Specific to Lillian’s hearing impairment, KidsAbility works with her to ensure her speech is developing properly and on track. Not only does KidsAbility work with children to make sure they are developing to their own potential, but they also provide parents and caregivers the tools and understanding to help their children at home in their day-to-day routine that they might not otherwise have access to – and they do it all for FREE.

This past Friday I had the pleasure of tagging along to Dilly’s speech therapy appointment and I instantly understood why she gets so excited about these appointments. The environment and staff are welcoming, warm and kind. Between the giant play/waiting area, the staff and volunteers that are ready to strike up a conversation with the children and easily relate to them and the form of speech therapy which allows Lillian to showcase what she’s learning and where she needs help, it is evident KidsAbility’s focus is to help children realize their potential. 

KA Waiting Area

The KidsAbility play/waiting area

Throughout the appointment Lillian showed me just how much she gets out of these visits. While Julia is always sure to share with us how we can help Lillian and what new tools she is learning, seeing her interact with Heather was a great first-hand experience. They work through a variety of exercises which help Heather to determine where Lillian is excelling,where she needs a little more help and what next steps she should include for her to work on at home.

Heather working on sounds with Dilly at KidsAbility

Heather working on sounds with Dilly at KidsAbility

While KidsAbility has held a special place in my heart for some time now, after seeing first hand how much Lillian – as well as a few other children I was able to witness in therapy – receives from this unbelievable organization, I am even more determined to help this foundation in any way I can.

Last May, I was lucky enough to participate in the Cambridge Times Rotary Classic KidsAbility Fun Run, which is usually held on the last Sunday in May. Our kick-ass team – suitably named Team Lillian – was able to raise well over $2300 thanks to a ton of personal donations, as well as one large corporate donation from Kitchener-based LEDgendary Lighting (seriously cool Philips lighting and Color Kinetics products – check them out!).

2013's "Team Lillian"

2013’s “Team Lillian”

While gathering donations for this event, it made my heart happy to hear of the personal stories that people volunteered to share with me of how KidsAbility had helped their own children, nieces and nephews, or the children of friends. These stories reinforced the love I have for KidsAbility and instilled a desire in me to continue to participate in the KidsAbility Fun Run for as many years as I am able.

That being said, we are once again assembling a team for this year’s run! We will have our usual Facebook page, and link to our donation site up and running soon – if you would like to join our team, just let us know!

While the official site links and information have not been released (we will let you know when they are!), the sisters of Weather Vane Sisterhood are accepting donations as of today! We can arrange to meet with you in person to collect your donations, or you can email money transfer us your contribution to weathervanesisterhood@gmail.com.  

Remember: every little bit counts – to us, to you, to KidsAbility and most importantly, to the children. 

~ Toni