Tuesday, 31 October 2017

When your blog post makes it all the way to Galen Weston

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So here we are, Halloween 2017. Where kids are giddy with excitement, where sugar overload is coming, and where costumes are being pulled over the heads of children everywhere.

It's hard to believe that a whole year has passed since this time last year. A whole year which has thrown us some hard moments, where it can seem like the world might just be falling apart a bit. But as I read through this old blog post that I wrote from last Halloween, it reminded me for a moment of the good. The good that is always around us--the people who surprise us with kindness and love when we least expect it. The kind of good that needs to be recognized, to inspire others to do the same.

So as I think back to that time when I pressed "publish" and my words of thanks landed on the page for a company who went above and beyond to make my students Halloween memorable, it's hard to feel anything but grateful still--even one year after the fact. It's also hard to believe that somehow in all of the sharing and attention that my little o' blog post created, my little Halloween post got into the hands of Galen Weston (the executive CEO, chairman and president of Loblaws Company Limited)--you know that cheery guy on all of those commercials for the Superstore and Loblaws? Ya, him.

HE read my blog post. And he didn't only read it himself--he read it out loud to his ENTIRE company at a town hall meeting. A little way to inspire others to be kind too--because if you see kindness, you have to pass it on.

So here it is, the post from last year as a little reminder that there really is a lot of good in this world--people are good, companies are good..and Halloween should be fun for absolutely everyone. And by the way, thank you Galen for using my story to inspire others. And thanks for making great meatballs.

Sometimes you get these little pockets of magical things that happen in life. These little moments that bring you to tears, things that make your heart jump, things that make you realize that the world really is full of so many great people.

Last Friday I had one of those moments. One of those moments that took my breath away and made me so incredibly grateful.

You see, I was on a bit of a mission this past week. A mission to convince companies to donate Halloween costumes to our school. Halloween costumes for all of the kids who I knew would walk into school Monday morning, see others dressed up and feel upset knowing that their family couldn't afford such luxuries. So, I went store to store begging asking managers to please consider donating some costumes to our kids...but I got turned down over and over again.

Then my mom, my 6yr old daughter Mya and I walked into the Superstore this past weekend and I stopped the very first lady who I saw with a name tag, and I told her about my kids at my school. I told her that I didn't want any child to show up feeling upset, feeling like they didn't fit in, or feeling that terrible sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach when it feels like you don't have what everyone else has. 

And I could all of a sudden see it happening in her eyes.

She GOT it.

She felt it.

She immediately called her manager.

And then the real magic happened. She literally spent all of two seconds explaining the needs of some of the kids at our school and the managers response was an immediate YES.


I couldn't believe it. I swear my heart stopped for a moment.

This angel of a lady turned to me and said, "Go pick whatever costumes you need".

I thanked her profusely, took Mya's hand in mine and turned away so she wouldn't see the tears streaming down my face. Overwhelmed with gratitude. Overwhelmed with shock and with the incredible feeling that people are good.  

I turned to look at my mom and her eyes were full of tears too. So there we were, two blubbering women, walking down the aisles at the Superstore, heading towards the costume racks knowing that those costumes were not just costumes anymore--they were a lifeline to some kids at my school who would all of a sudden get to feel that surge of excitement of being handed something new, that feeling of belonging and that sense that they could, if even just for a moment, have what everyone else had.

So we picked through the racks of beautiful princess gowns, complete with jewels, crinoline and beading. We scanned through the Ninja Turtle costumes complete with built in muscles, turtle shells and masks. We looked at sizes and types, holding each one up to Mya's body to make sure we had appropriate sizes and we tried to pick a variety of options so that there could possibly be a good match for any child in need who showed up at my classroom door on Monday.

And then we carried our pile of costumes to customer service where they scanned each and every one of those amazing costumes through and handed them over to us, free of charge, with a smile.

When I stood there watching her scan each and every one of those costumes through, I realized that Loblaws had just donated over $300 worth of Halloween costumes to our school, without a second thought.


So my intention with this blog post is to say a great big thank you to Loblaws. To this wonderful company, please know that when the word started trickling through the school that I had costumes available for kids I started having teachers stop me in the hallway. I had one teacher tell me that she had a little boy in her classroom at that very moment who was incredibly upset since he didn't have a costume. Ironically, she told me that he spent the day before drawing a picture of Ninja Turtles since he loved them so much, so I handed her a Ninja Turtle costume and watched her walk down the hall to deliver this amazing gift to this unsuspecting little boy. 

Please know that I had a kindergarten teacher come to my room telling me that a 5yr old little girl in her class was crying in the hallway since she didn't have a costume to wear, so I brought her into my room to pick a gorgeous sparkly dress from the pile that fit her perfectly and all of a sudden made her feel like she was the same as everyone else.   

Please know that I had a shy little girl show up at my classroom door with her friend asking if there was possibly a costume that might fit her since she didn't have one of her own. So we pulled a gorgeous Snow White costume over her head and she was all of a sudden transformed.

Please know that at the end of the day a little boy came up to me in a panic, asking if I had any costumes left since he had nothing to wear trick or treating that night. I'll never forget watching him skip down the hall holding his Ninja Turtle costume over his shoulder, thrilled beyond belief.

Please know that there was a little girl whose mom drew whiskers on her face with eye liner and told me that it was all that she had. She said that they were late for school that day since this little girl was so upset about not having a real costume--so we took her back to pick from the pile of gorgeous ball gowns.

I wish I could post a picture of her beaming face wearing the most beautiful purple princess gown that day.

So thank you Superstore and Loblaws for making this joy happen.

Thank you for caring as much about our kids as we do.

Thank you for your generosity, your thoughtfulness and your kindness.

And thank you for showing my own 3 kids the importance of giving--even if it meant Mya watching her mom and Nana sobbing down the aisles of the Superstore.

Happy Halloween from our little family to yours.

 And thank you Superstore and Loblaws for being so amazing.

 Love Erica xo

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Carter's Star Wars Party

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I would have taken a shot of vodka, if I was a drinker. You know, just to take the edge off.

But since I haven't even touched a drop of alcohol in like 7 years since I've been growing babies and nursing non-stop, I took a shot of lemonade and hoped for the best...

because our boy turned 5, and our house was about to fill up with a lot of little people for one wild and exciting Star Wars party.

With a 13 week old.

You know...just cause I like to spread myself a little too thin sometimes.

So with the table set...

and masks for each kid ready...

Terry clicked the play button, and our Star Wars music started playing at our front door as all of the kids showed up and starting piling into our house. Because Jedi training was in order for these younglings--and this mama who knows nothing about Star Wars tried to pretend like she knew what she was talking about.

So with the amazing help from my awesome dad, we turned the backyard into an obstacle course for the kids, where they had to army crawl through a dark tunnel...

climb up and jump off a tall building (or step stool..whatever)...

walk the balance beam...

step from brick to brick without touching the grass...

shoot the ball in the sling shot (made by my dad of course)..


whip the ball around the pole two times...

whack the foam tube as hard as you can and watch it cannon ball out the other side...

throw the ball into the bucket...

then run like the wind back to the starting line and let your feet hit the deck to indicate that your training is completed.

Then of course if you're a true Jedi, you need to do some strength training...so tug o' war was next in order. 

And jump-training is probably a Jedi thing, at least that's what we told them...so we stuffed them into potato sacks and let them loose.

Then, just to cause some chaos--we decided to hand each of them their own lightsaber (err..um..pool noodle cut in half and wrapped with some duct tape and electrical tape),

and I taught them a few Jedi moves that I pretended that I knew...when, all of a sudden, the Star Wars music was cranked up and in walked Darth Vader himself (and although after a little investigating, the kids swore it was Terry...it actually really was Darth Vader). 

Then after they each got a turn to use their new Jedi skills to fight off the enemy...

Darth was defeated (and quite sore by getting smacked by so many 5yr olds, I might add).

Then they were presented with their Jedi Knight Training Academy certificate of completion (it's so very handy to have a dad who used to work in the sign business), and we headed in for drinks, food and cupcakes. 

 Then after the sugar set in, we headed back outside with our lightsabers and played don't let your balloon hit the ground... 

and pin the lightsaber on Darth Vader (where you get to pick from the candy bowl even if you're completely way off)...

And just as the clock was about to hit the 2hr mark and this mama was about to pass out on the floor, we sat on the grass as this lucky boy got to open all of the wonderful gifts from his generous friends...

and we slowed down a bit as I handed out Star Wars colouring sheets one by one (and pretended that I was back in my beloved kindergarten classroom) and watched as all of these little Jedi's cooled off and quietly coloured before their parents picked them up.

So as each child passed through our front door and waved goodbye, we handed them another lightsaber to take home (or..um...a bubble wand with the handle spray painted silver), with some Star Wars popping candies attached.

And we closed the door to another fun party. And a very wiped out mama. 

So thank you family for helping me pull this off--for holding Chloe through all of the fun, for passing around bowls of food to eager little hands, for standing at each obstacle course station, for taking pictures of all of the action and for just being there.  

Carter was one thrilled little 5yr old--and we spent the rest of the night getting into our jammies early, sucking on left over lollipops from the candy bowl and watching a movie together... 

because this Sunday is Mya's birthday party with all of her friends---so it's time to rest up before the next one in a few days.

Good Lord help me.

Erica xo
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