Letting go

I have been holding my breath for about 5 years.

Holding my breath since I peed on a stick, found out we were pregnant with our second, and praying that whatever our baby would show up with, full hearing or no hearing, that we would be prepared for it.

Holding my breath when the nurses exclaimed that our baby had the same ‘birth mark’ as her daddy. Trying desperately to tell Ben with my eyes and my heart while lying stuck and unable to move on the operating table that I loved him, that I loved our new daughter, that I loved everything and everyone and we would get through this.

White forelock, just like Daddy.

White forelock, just like Daddy.

Holding my breath when the first hearing test and every hearing test after told us what we already knew due to the white forelock just like her daddy – Lillian couldn’t hear. Nothing out of the right ear. A small amount out of her left ear.

I kept holding my breath, through her first hearing aid fittings at 4 months old, to her visits to Sick Kids for her cochlear implant, through the surgery and out again, through all the times she pulled off her ‘ears’ and popped them in her mouth.

Baby hearing aids for baby ears

Baby hearing aids for baby ears

I held my breath as we made the decision to keep me home as I couldn’t imagine anyone else having to deal with or wanting to deal with or being able to deal with Lillian’s ears like I could. I remember feeling gratified when I picked Lillian up from a babysitter to find her ears in her diaper bag because the woman just couldn’t do it. I remember holding my breath while we wrote up instruction sheets for every babysitter after, all family, never anyone but, until Lillian was old enough to help the babysitter put her ears back on because she was the expert.

Monkey Gear cap to stop her from eating her ears like candy...or toes

Monkey Gear cap to stop her from eating her ears like candy…or toes

I held my breath as we went through extensive speech therapy, starting at 4 months old with her first of a handful of speech therapists, until we met the one that would bring the words out of Lillian’s mouth, the one that would sit there and watch me cry, the one that would tell me over and over I was doing a good job. I was a good mom. I was working hard and so was Lillian and it would be okay. Dear Heather, the speech therapist who I said I would invite to Lillian’s high school graduation so she could hear Lillian’s valedictorian speech, we love you. And are so grateful.

Just after her cochlear implant surgery...rocking the hair and the bandage

Just after her cochlear implant surgery…rocking the hair and the bandage

I held my breath as this year kept looming closer, knowing this was the goal – getting Lillian ready for school. Working on all the language that naturally comes so easily to so many babies, including my own Sophie and Isaac, struggling with sounds and concepts and shapes, repeating phrases and words and sliding my voice up and down to indicate with sound as well as with language what I was trying to say to my tenacious, stubborn, awesome, beautiful Lillian. Hoping and praying that the delay between Lillian’s and her peer’s development would never rear its ugly head, would be held off as long as possible. Enjoying evaluation after evaluation that showed her either average or above her age in speech development, even though her hearing age was stunted by the 13 months she went without being implanted.

Playing the piano with her implant turned ON for the first time

Playing the piano with her implant turned ON for the first time

I held my breath as I watched my stunning, deep-loving daughter close up, clam up, shut down time after time after time in new situations, around new people, in any scenario remotely unfamiliar. I worried and fretted and talked to our social worker who had been with us since the beginning. I talked my head off to Heather, the woman who was on my team in this crazy, breathless trek to school. I was given oodles of advice. I was given oodles of support. I was given oodles of moments to breathe, yet still, I held that breath.

Lillian LOVING Isaac - after every walk from school, Isaac would flip out on the floor while I brought in the stroller. Lillian would hang out with him until I could pick him up. They'd lie there giggling and I'd fall in love all over again.

Lillian LOVING Isaac – after every walk from school, Isaac would flip out on the floor while I brought in the stroller. Lillian would hang out with him until I could pick him up. They’d lie there giggling and I’d fall in love all over again.

I held my breath as our home deaf teacher graduated us from the program because in a couple of months Lillian would be attending full-time, normal-kid school. I held my breath as she told me, dear Jaclyn, that Lillian was awesome, bright, funny, and would be fine. I didn’t believe her. I wanted to believe her. I held on.

Playing the piano with much longer hair...and more seasoned ears

Playing the piano with much longer hair…and more seasoned ears

I held my breath as I tried to explain school to Lillian, using all the vocabulary sheets we’d been given by Teacher Jaclyn, as Lillian called her, and Heather, My Heather, as she was fondly referred to, focusing on the fun! the excitement! the friends! we’d make. I took her back-to-school shopping with Sophie and tried to make it as fantastic as possible, finding her Spider-Man everything – backpack, shoes, boots, and lunch bag. We picked out a back-to-school outfit, although she has never been to school, and it didn’t have any Spider-Man on it, but damn it the skirt was red…like Spider-Man.

Her first ponytail! Which made her look older and showed off her ears that are normally hidden in her crazy hair.

Her first ponytail! Which made her look older and showed off her ears that are normally hidden in her crazy hair.

I felt like the breath was going to burst out of my eyes and ears and heart and mouth as we went to her personal, special meet-the-teachers and classroom tour a full week before her fellow students would arrive. I watched as she had her first pee accident and prayed, PRAYED, that this wouldn’t set the standard, that she would swing going pee and going poop and wiping her own butt and not melting down every. single. time. like she did with me at home. I felt like I was going to explode as she went from shutdown kid to open, playing kid with one of her teachers, while we explained her ears to her other two teachers. I didn’t cry. But deep down, I wanted to bawl like a baby. Because this was the moment.

Spider-Man cape for a hill-climbing Spider-Man

Spider-Man cape for a hill-climbing Spider-Man

And then, the breath got too big for me, so big for me, as we walked her up the hills to her very first full day without us. As Aunt Toni held her hands, and I watched trying to keep it together, as she wore her too-big-for-her backpack and looked determined in her Lillian way. I tried not to hold her too long or not long enough in our good-bye hug, breathing in her hair and smell and warmth one last time before I started sharing her every day with other people.

Day 1 before the walk to school. Sophie had a full day and Lillian was only going for a half an hour.

Day 1 before the walk to school. Sophie had a full day and Lillian was only going for a half an hour.

And as she walked into the school, the breath held on, dripping out only in a few tears in my eyes, as she waved and smiled and chatted with her dear friend Isaac, who we had asked to be in the class with her so she would have one person she knew.

First full day walk to school, holding onto Aunt Toni's hand and looking so damn small and big and determined and worried.

First full day walk to school, holding onto Aunt Toni’s hand and looking so damn small and big and determined and worried.

The breath didn’t let go or calm down or reduce in pressure until we went to pick her up and noticed her on the monkey bars, swinging like the monkey she is, playing, wearing the same pants that we had sent her in, indicating no accidents, and then the bell rang and she came running, smiling, and hugging us when she was released by her teacher from her line, which she voluntarily got in, waited in, and fell in with. And then I felt lighter than light when she told us her favourite part of the day was the cheese in her lunch, that she loved her lunch, that she wanted the exact same lunch the next day.

In line with her BFF...no looking back, no tears, no more breath.

In line with her BFF…no looking back, no tears, no more breath.

And the breath was gone, just like that, because we had made it. And we’ve been doing it now for almost two weeks. And the breath is still gone. And the successes keep pouring in. And my dear, sweet, Lillian, I couldn’t be prouder.

~ Julia

A day in the life: Julia edition

I was the mastermind behind the “A day in the life” posts that you’ll see here this week. Mostly so I could spy on my sisters. And so I could see how childless and working and non-working people spend their time. I know how spend my time…and it always seems like a lot of running around for a lot of nothing. At least, nothing you can actually see. So, what does a day in the life of Julia, stay-at-home mom to three kids, ages 5, 3, and 1, look like? Here we go!

My day starts EARLY. Mostly because I need some Julia time in the day and by the end of the day I just don’t have the energy for it. By the time every little’s head hits the pillow, I SO want to join them. So my alarm is set for 4:45 a.m. and I’m usually out of bed by 5.

Then it’s get dressed to get sweaty, have some water and something small for pre-breakfast. The morning in question it was a peach!

Pre-breakfast of champions!

Pre-breakfast of champions

I’m out of my house by 5:15 a.m. and listening to a little CBC radio. This early in the morning it’s BBC programming, but it’s adult and talking and gloriously quiet and CHILD-FREE.

Proof!

Proof!

Then it’s off to one of two places: either running with honourary sister and my sister-in-law, Kim, or walking with my other mom, my mother-in-law Dianne (and Kim…she slept in that day…LAZY BUM).

Hello gorgeous!

Hello gorgeous!

Every weekday morning starts with something active…and I LOVE IT. Then it’s back home for just before 7, where I usually walk into the kitchen to find this:

What the...?

What the…?

My handsome husband Ben gets up with the babies, gets them dressed and breakfasted so that I can have a little me-time right off the hop. LOVE YOU, Sir. From here, I grab a quick shower (no pictures!), if I’m lucky, or get changed out of sweaty clothes into more respectable clothes (you know, hanging out in public with showered people clothes). Then, it’s the sprint for the door.

Multi-tasking babies - making block castles and putting on socks.

Multi-tasking babies – making block castles and putting on socks.

I make sure everyone has what they need for their day: Sophie for senior kindergarten, Lillian for potty training nightmares, and Isaac for eating, pooping, napping, and playing.

Oh, hai Mom! I'm just making a giant mess in the kitchen while you run around. No big deal.

Oh, hai Mom! I’m just making a giant mess in the kitchen while you run around. No big deal.

And I attempt to insert a little food and caffeine into me so I’m not a nightmare myself.

Coffee numero uno (aka most important coffee of the day)

Coffee numero uno (aka most important coffee of the day)

Usually by this point, everyone doesn’t want to leave and we are LATE. So, the fight out the door begins.

Fight number 1 - what shoes to wear. Answer: ANY SHOES PUT THEM ON NOW.

Fight number 1 – I WANT TO WEAR ALL THE SHOES THAT DON’T HAVE MATES. Answer: PUT ANY PAIR OF SHOES ON NOW.

On the day that we’re following me around for, Lillian had speech therapy, so we were driving to school instead of walking. You’d think this would make it easier, faster, etc. etc., but NO. Do not be fooled. Driving can sometimes take INFINITELY longer because of all the added packing into the van and packing out of the van and packing back into the van. Seriously. Walking out the door to go to school is so much easier. A double-stroller, three babies, one neighbourhood kid (who I walk and watch before and after school), the phone, some keys, and we’re off. Easy-peasy. The van? Appointments? SO MUCH MORE COMPLICATED.

Fight number 2: I WANT TO OPEN AND CLOSE THE DOORS AND CARRY MY BACKPACK AND I DON'T CARE THAT I'M CRAZY OR THAT WE'RE LATE. Answer: GET IN THE VAN NOW NOW NOW.

Fight number 2 – I WANT TO OPEN AND CLOSE THE DOORS AND CARRY MY BACKPACK AND I DON’T CARE THAT I’M CRAZY OR THAT WE’RE LATE. Answer: GET IN THE VAN NOW NOW NOW.

We live just over 1 km from the school, which takes us, complete with stick-picking-up, worm-examining, and various temper tantrums, 25 minutes to walk. To drive, 2 minutes. Maybe. With kids? 15 minutes, easy. We leave for the school around 9 to get there for the bell at 9:20. Kids are AWESOME.

Oh, hai, pack mule.

Oh, hai, pack mule.

Parking around the school is INSANE and people are INSANE, so we park on a side street and walk a little. The moment all the children explode out of the van, I become the carrier of all back-packs…which I don’t mind. The kids are so small and the bags are so big. AND they’ll run (not meander) if they’re not weighed down. Win-win.

Notice that the only kid wearing a backpack is Lillian...the kid who doesn't NEED a back-pack but demands to bring one.

Notice that the only kid wearing a backpack is Lillian…the kid who doesn’t NEED a back-pack but demands to bring one.

We drop off the neighbourhood friend first and then we wait with Sophie in her school line for the bell. At this point, Lillian goes to the fire hydrant and tries to scale it. Every. Day. Even though I tell her not to. Every. Day. My life is so glamourous.

After Sophie goes inside, with waving and hugs and ‘Have a good days!’, it’s the short, yet TAKES FOREVER walk back to the van.

Lillian is in that tree. No, seriously.

Lillian is in that pine tree. No, seriously.

On this walk back to the van, I had to flag down another mom to make sure Isaac didn’t roll away in the stroller while I got Lillian out of the tree (no, really), and then we could get in the van. Lillian was a butt. And crying. Because I made her get out of the tree. I’m such a mean mom. No, seriously.

We made it. Alive. Barely. But we're here.

We made it. Alive. Barely. But we’re here.

Once we get to the fabulous organization that provides Lillian with necessary auditory verbal therapy (AVT or speech therapy), the first task at hand is to get Lillian to go pee. AKA let’s pull out all of our sweet and nice and not frazzled voices to calmly coax the shy, ridiculous bomb of a kid who could go off at any moment to put her pee in the toilet instead of all over everything. Super fun times. I swayed her with the promise of pushing the handicap button to open the door. She took the bait and peed. Success. Off to hang out with Heather, our speech therapist extraordinaire.

Lillian and Heather chatting at the beginning of the session. I love that Lillian CHATS. <3

Lillian and Heather chatting at the beginning of the session. I love that Lillian CHATS. ❤

Lillian rocked, Heather was amazing, Isaac was a bum who tried to get into everything, and I cried. No, seriously. I think it’s because I was tired. And I had only one cup of coffee. And my period is coming. And the morning had been stressful getting four kids to school in the van and make it on time for our appointment. And I’m really worried about Lillian and her going to school. But I was talking about the various things I’m planning on doing to help Lillian get ready for school (another post for another day) and voila! Tears. Heather, a mom herself, was lovely and didn’t get scared. She talked me out of my tree and all was well. Whew.

After therapy, we went to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for lunch at Aunt Kim’s house. It was her birthday and we pinned her down for a lunch date so we could love on her. (Note: It’s also Uncle Todd’s birthday (they’re twins) but he had to work because he’s a grown-up and he lives farther away, so no date with him. Love you, Todd!) We got Caesar salad ingredients, a rotisserie chicken, and a giant loaf of French bread. Easy, yummy, and baby-friendly. I got another round of all of that for dinner that night so I wouldn’t have to cook/come up with anything at 5 p.m. Not just a pretty face, my friends.

On a mission for some birthday fun!

On a mission for some birthday fun!

We got to Aunt Kim’s (and Emma’s!) house at around 12:30 (traffic was nuts because of an accident and every route was a nightmare) and quickly set up lunch.

Hungry, hungry babies eating spatulas.

Hungry, hungry babies eating spatulas.

After we devoured the food, we got to eat delicious cupcakes baked by Kim for her birthday (she’s so super fabulous…and ridiculous).

So pretty!

So pretty!

Lillian loved them…

What do you mean icing isn't the same as hand cream?

What do you mean icing isn’t the same as hand cream?

…and so did Emma.

Do I have something on my face?

Do I have something on my face?

Next up, Emma went down for a nap and Lillian and Isaac decided to play with all of Emma’s toys, like the good cousins they are.

Ball pit, anyone?

Ball pit, anyone?

While all of that ‘fun’ was happening, I got to do this:

Hello, coffee number 2. I've been waiting ALL DAY for you.

Hello, coffee number 2. I’ve been waiting ALL DAY for you.

But, did I get a picture of the birthday girl? Nope. No I did not. Super photographer/blogger here.

Soon it was back in the van to go get the Sophie and friend from school. More packing just so we can unpack so we can pack again. Yay.

So sleepy. I feel exactly how they look.

So sleepy. I feel exactly how they look.

We got back to the school with 10 minutes to spare before the bell. You’d think that would be enough time…but some days, you’d be wrong. It all depends on Lillian’s mood. Are we running? Are we crying? Are we exploring? All very different speeds there.

Isaac didn't make it. Lillian had cupcake to burn off. Run to the school it is!

Isaac didn’t make it. Lillian had cupcake to burn off. Run to the school it is!

We made it in time and I got a text saying that our friend had a doctor’s appointment, so we wouldn’t be picking her up. One less kid to pack and unpack on a Friday afternoon. DEAL.

Since we didn’t have the friend and I already had dinner in the bag (literally) and we had the van (which means no walking home), we hit up our good friends the Bakers for a play date. Our other friends, Andrea, Baby Ben and Natalie were also there. It was lovely to catch-up since we hadn’t really had a chance since the beginning of the school year. (Schedules are hard, y’all.)

Isaac exploring the not-so-baby-proofed house

Isaac exploring the not-so-baby-proofed house.

After we played for a bit, it was after 5 and time to get home. Leaving a play date is always dicey. No one wants to leave and everyone is cranky (including me). So, it’s round up children, firmly, and over a period of TOO MANY MINUTES and leave with as few of them in tears as possible (including me). This time only one kid was crying:

I'm the worst mother for making her leave and then for taking this picture.

I’m the worst mother for making her leave and then for taking this picture.

School has been rough on her. The return to the schedule and no quiet time in the afternoons and no sleeping in has kind of run her over. She earns her bedtime every night. I’m hoping in a couple of weeks she’ll be back to normal and the freaking out will stop. Please.

We get home, unpack everyone, and go inside. I attempt to clean up the kitchen in lieu of cooking dinner, but someone wasn’t having any of it:

Dammit, Mom, pay attention to ME!

Dammit, Mom, pay attention to ME!

So instead, I sat down on the couch and chilled out with the babies until our saviour made it home.

Underneath babies, chilling out

Underneath babies, chilling out

Finally, finally, Ben came home just before 6. On days he bikes or takes the bus (because I need the van), he gets home just before 6. On days he takes the van, he can get home as early as 5:25. Those 35 minutes make all the difference in the entire world. SERIOUSLY.

He's here! He's here! PRAISE THE LORD!

He’s here! He’s here! PRAISE THE LORD!

Ben goes upstairs to shower and I return to the couch to wait for him. There’s no way I’m making dinner with Isaac losing his mind. Some days I can. And most days I do. But I’m just as tired as him and it won’t be pretty. Best to wait the 10 minutes and get Ben to help with dinner prep. He comes downstairs, he takes over dinner, and it’s like magic.

Children playing quietly and nicely around his feet. Tricky to walk around, heaven to listen to.

Children playing quietly and nicely around his feet. Tricky to walk around, heaven to listen to.

Then supper, where we talk about our days, the plans for later that night or, in this case, the weekend. A time for knock-knock jokes and I-spy and singing and reminding to sit on our chairs, eat over our plates, stop throwing our cups/food on the floor, get our toes off the table and for the love of god, finish eating! There’s nothing like a family meal.

It looks fairly organized...but don't be fooled.

It looks fairly organized…but don’t be fooled.

After dinner, Ben hangs out with the babies and I tidy up. It might seem like the 1950s have settled in our home after dinner, but the truth is I never get to clean up without ‘help’ during the day and I love the zen of it after a crazy, loud, constantly moving day. So Ben plays, which I do all day, and I clean, which I love because it’s without children hanging off of me or undoing what I’ve just done right behind me.

Just one day of crumbs and dirt and debris...jeepers.

Just one day of crumbs and dirt and debris…jeepers.

And now, the most wonderful time of the day: bedtime.

Isaac usually goes down with the girls. I nurse him while they’re getting pyjamas on, he might make it through one story, and then he’s whisked off to bed when things get too cranky to handle. But on this night, we had no schedule and no long naps, so Isaac was mad and tired nice and early. I left Ben to hang out with the girls…

Snuggle time with some TV

Snuggle time with some TV

…and I snuck upstairs to watch The Queen and nurse my tired fella.

I used to read while I nursed, but then he started grabbing the books...so now he eats and I watch a movie with captions on and no sound.

I used to read while I nursed, but then he started grabbing the books…so now he eats and I watch a movie with captions on and no sound.

After Isaac is down, it’s the girls’ turn. Pyjamas are put on, stories are read, babies are wrapped, blankets are layered in a very specific order, and children are tucked in. I LOVE what bedtime accomplishes. Getting there? Fighting to get them INTO bed? I hate it. But when they actually make it? Heaven.

We MADE it.

We MADE it.

Now, what do two parents whose children are all sleeping do with themselves on a Friday night? Ben always asks me what I want to do. And I never know. Or if I know, I don’t want to tell him because I want him to be able to do what he wants to do before I sway him with my opinion. So, this face happens:

"What do you want to do?"

“What do you want to do?”

And I tell him, I want to vegetate. I want to stop moving. I want to stay still. I want to zone out and watch TV. And that is all.

Out come the treats…

Don't tell Toni...

Don’t tell Toni…

…out come the pillows…

I'm laying down on a couch by myself. HOLLA!

I’m laying down on a couch by myself. HOLLA!

…and we decide on watching Modern Family episodes (they’re quick and not as long as a movie…because let’s be clear…I’m not going to make it through a whole movie).

Look at my date!

Look at my date!

After snacks are consumed and I’ve had enough time to enjoy being by myself, the (G-rated) snuggling happens, which is one of my favourite parts of the day…after bedtime and actually sleeping.

So happy together!

So happy together!

At 10ish, I decide I am all done. We turn off lights, make sure everything is set up for night feeds for Ben (we alternate night feeding so we’re both equally sleep-deprived. Romantic, right?), and head upstairs…which Isaac senses every. single. night. Without fail, he wakes up to eat right before I want to go to bed. BAH.

More nursing, more The Queen, only this time, in pyjamas

More nursing, more The Queen, only this time, in pyjamas

Once Isaac is back in his bed, Ben gets under the covers and falls asleep INSTANTLY. Which is crap, because that usually means he starts to snore INSTANTLY. I, on the other hand, need to read before bed or my brain won’t turn off. It will run every worry, to-do list, every missed opportunity, every forgotten item or task ever, and I’ll never get to sleep. I’ve been reading Annabel by Kathleen Winter, which is beautifully written. I love the language and the way the story is being told. It doesn’t hurt that it’s written by a Canadian woman, either.

Her writing is described as luminous, and I can't disagree

My sleeping pill

And finally, finally, it’s time for bed. I’m whooped. The day has been loooong and full. And tomorrow? Well, tomorrow I’ll get to do it all over again. Yay!

Waaaaay past my (ideal/desired/never hit it but wish and dream about it) bedtime

Waaaaay past my (ideal/desired/never hit it but wish and dream about it) bedtime

~ Julia

Team Lillian – Updated!

*Update: Our Cambridge Times Rotary Classic Run in support of KidsAbility is coming up THIS Sunday, May 25th! If you would like to join our team – Team Lillian  – we would love your help in raising donations! If you would like to support our kickass team, please click the link here to donate online! Every little bit counts for this amazing organization that helps so many children and their families in our region!

To learn more about how KidsAbility has helped our Lillian, please enjoy the repost below!*

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

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