Thursday, 19 April 2018

Baby cake for the baby obsessed girl

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There just wasn't any other type of cake that I could have made for this girl.


This birthday girl, who just turned 3, is absolutely obsessed with babies.



So a baby doll birthday cake is exactly what she ordered.



And a baby doll birthday cake is exactly what her mama made her.



So I searched high and low for the perfectly sized doll to fit into this little "bathtub" and finally walked out of the store with the cutest little baby, tiniest little rubber ducky and all of the visions of a baby in a bathtub rushing through my mind.  


 Because Sophia is a little mama in the making (and an excellent one, at that). And she loves every minute of it.


So we watch as she gently tucks her babies into bed, shushing them ever so quietly as she gently wraps the blankets around them. She sings them lullabies, reads them stories, tells them that she loves them, kisses their little heads and tiptoes out of the room. Playing out what she lives herself as she is tucked into bed each night.


And there isn't a day that goes by that I don't have to unclip baby dolls from Chloe's carseat before putting her in--because the reality is that having a real baby in our house means that Sophia's dolls all of a sudden get real-life experiences.



So baby dolls get baths in our bathroom sink...


and get carried around in carriers....



and get loved on day in and day out by the girl who tells me all of the time that she wants to be a real mommy.  


So we celebrated this little girl last weekend, as she turned three. We celebrated the three years that we have had with our little Sophia. Three years full of great times and hard times--great times when we would sit back and stare at this beautiful little soul who is so loving and kind. And hard times when we would remind ourselves that two and three year olds are so incredibly tiring in so many ways and that the hard parts are only passing phases that we'll all get through, we promise. Because that's just the reality of parenting.

So we celebrated these past three years with family all around her, handing her gifts, opening cards and watching her beam as we sang Happy Birthday to her over and over again. We watched as Mya and Carter handed her their picture that they made for her together, explaining every detail to her with pride. And we watched as she tore into gifts, ate her cake and basked in the glory of this day finally arriving.




And that morning? Well, she woke up to balloons at her chair, a pink tablecloth draped over the table, party plates and cups set out, party napkins and a Happy Birthday banner hung above her 
head--because what I've learned about kids (or people in general) is that it takes such little effort (a few dollar store items that I always keep stocked in my basement) to make someone feel like this day is something absolutely special. So everyone always wakes up to decorations on their birthday--because isn't this just what life is all about? 

So with a big sister who told us she wanted to make her breakfast that morning, I guided her through every moment--teaching her each step of the way and watching as she carefully created a breakfast especially for her little sister... 





...which was quite delicious, I might add.


So happy birthday to our big 3yr old. The girl who I will always remember as being a mini-mommy, loving on her dolls as if they were her own--and loving on her own baby sister as if she was actually her real mama.



And just remember, when it gets tiring that those dolls sometimes just won't respond to all of your love the way that you want--you can always put your baby sister in a doll stroller and that's kinda hilariously entertaining too.

Just don't take your hand off of her, or her real mama will have a heart attack, okay?



Love you sweet Sophia. Love you forever. 

Love your mama xo





Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Dear Single Mom with the help sign at Walmart

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Dear Single Mom who was holding a "please help" sign outside of Walmart last night,

I saw you when I first pulled up late last night. It was dark outside, cold and close to 8pm. I was exhausted after a long, busy weekend, but I needed a few things, so grocery shopping was supposed to be a quick in and out experience for me.

But then I saw you. Holding that sign. Standing outside of the store alone. Your sign said "Single Mom with 3 kids. Please help. No money for food or rent".

And of course my heart sank.

My heart sank because I felt your stress. I felt your despair. I felt your desperation.

We might not all have the same struggles, but we all need to take care of each other regardless.

So I quickly went into to the store to finish my shopping and as the wind hit my face as I opened the doors to outside, I saw you there. I walked over to you and we locked eyes.

"Hi", I said to you. "My name is Erica. Is there anything I can do to help you? I'm a mom too. I'm sorry you're going through a hard time right now".

And we talked for a moment, as I asked you about your children and you told me that you had a four year old boy and two girls, ages eight and ten.

You had tears in your eyes. You looked so sad. You were shy and uncomfortable. I felt it.

You said that your mom was looking after your children right now and that you needed to take the bus home to get to them tonight.

I told you to wait and I went back inside the store, looking at my watch realizing that it was almost 9pm. My body ached, the exhaustion from the day had set in, but I walked down each aisle picking out food for you that I thought you would like. Food that I thought you could put in your children's lunch pails tomorrow. Cereal for the next morning, fruit, bread and bagels along with many other items that my own fridge is regularly stocked with.

I went to the till and the man at the cash register scanned each and every one of those items for me, and I handed over my bank card. It didn't matter to me how much it cost. You needed it. I could help.

Because we all need to help each other.

So I pushed my cart out of the store and handed you several grocery bags full of food.

Your eyes filled with tears yet again. You thanked me over and over again. I smiled at you and told you to take care. I then pulled my hood up over my head as the cold wind blew down my back, and I left quickly for my car.

I noticed that you watched as I pulled away.

As I headed for the exit, I had a curious feeling. I wondered what you'd do next. I wondered where you'd go. Would you be okay?

So I did a quick u-turn and pulled my car around so I could see you.

In the dark of the night, I noticed another woman who approached you. You knew her. She was with you. But she wasn't at the door with you when you were there with your sign only moments before.

She had been at the other door, on the other side of the store.

That other lady tucked her body behind the large garbage bins sitting at the doors and pulled out several bags of groceries of her own. You had hidden my groceries behind those same garbage bins.

My heart started beating quickly.

You collected your bags, said something to her that I couldn't hear, and then walked off together with your arms full of groceries.

I realized that both of you were doing the same thing that night. Both of you were together. Both of you were on a mission together.

As I began to realize the reality of the situation, I could feel my breath getting shallow. I could feel my heart start to race.

And I turned into a flippin' ninja spy.

I all of a sudden started ducking into empty parking spots, following both of you as you made your way through the parking lot. Slowly inching my way, zig-zagging through the parking lot, making sure that you didn't see me, but following your every move.

You walked far away from the store, through several parking lots, making your way up to another row of cars where I could see you both stop and look around, searching for something.

Then, just as I inched my way over to where you had stopped, I saw a van blink it's lights a few times at you, and you both quickly opened the doors and climbed in.

I pulled up closer and peered inside the van to see two men sitting in the front seat.

NO FREAKIN' WAY.

In a matter of minutes, seeing those two men with you, realizing that you were likely not a single mom at all, realizing that you were clearly not needing to get on a bus to get home to your children, I felt completely defeated.

Defeated because I believed you. Defeated because my faith in humanity was shaken. Defeated because a moment of trying to help out a fellow mama turned into a spy game which left me feeling sick to my stomach and exhausted.

Sick to my stomach because of course not everyone is truthful in this world, but I would like to think that MOST human beings are.

So I drove home, turning down the street as the street lights paved my way through the dark. I pulled into my driveway, and started pulling my grocery bags out of the car.

And of course as my heart was a wee big broken by what had just happened, I turned to walk up the driveway and my grocery bag broke and apples fell to the ground and started rolling down the dark driveway all over the place. So I ran to get them, bending over to grab speeding apples flying away from me, like a real life cartoon clip. It was ridiculous.

I gave up.

This day needed to be done.

"Your heart was in the right place" my husband told me as I re-told the entire story from start to finish.

But here is the thing, lady with the sign, you may have shaken my faith in humanity for a moment.

But it hasn't shaken it completely.

I wondered as I lay in bed last night what your life was really like at home. I bet you do have children. I don't doubt that. I bet you are struggling in some way--because isn't everyone? An elaborate act like this, that was clearly planned out, screams desperation to me--in some way or another. Maybe you really did need that food. Maybe you needed someone to show you a bit of love that day. Maybe those men in the van were your husbands and maybe they aren't treating you well. Maybe they forced you both to do what you did last night.

Or maybe not.

I'll never know.

But as I told my own children this story about you this morning before they went to school, I wanted to thank you. Because you see, I always always tell my kids that if you see someone in need, you help them. You think of others. You put yourself in others shoes. You care for people. You be the one that steps up and runs to grab the hand of the child being bullied. You be the one who picks up the friend or sibling who fell and scraped their knee. You be one who puts yourself out there to care for those around you.

So I'll keep telling them this. It won't stop me from that.





But I'll also now remind them that sometimes they might get burnt. Sometimes they might fall into a situation where people are not honest, like you. But then you know what? I'll also remind them that even a lady like you is a human, and let's not villainize people for the poor choices they make. Because we're all human and we're all just trying our best to make sense of this life that we're given and turn it into something amazing.

So you're welcome for the groceries, lady from Walmart. I hope you enjoy them and I hope that life in the weeks and months ahead brings you to better things. I really do.



Sincerely, 
Erica xo



















Saturday, 31 March 2018

When the Easter bunny comes early...

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This is what my living room floor looked like on a dark cold night last week when all of the kids were fast asleep. 


Sorting and organizing almost 30 piles of treats for our neighbourhood kids...making sure that everyone ended up with the exact same items and the exact same amount.


Because today was the day when our neighbourhood friends arrived family-by-family to our court, and the kids searched high and low through everyone's yard until they found all of their treats.



I had prepared all of the candy into a scavenger hunt for the kids and we spent the morning furiously running around hiding hundreds of treats all over everyone's yards.


Then as the clock hit 10am this morning, crowds of people starting walking up our court...and the fun began.




So after collecting the kids to explain how the scavenger hunt was going to work, I handed each of  them their papers and everyone was off.
 



Our court was all of a sudden a buzz of little people and older kids too running around desperately trying to find every single item on their page--searching in bushes, behind rocks, under trees, in planter boxes and all over the grass.





Searching until every single box on their sheet was checked off. Then proudly showing everyone their stash.





And as the buzz died down and the treats were finally all found, the kids sat to explore their baskets and nibble on treats and food from our snack tables...




because a basket full of treats on Easter weekend is exactly what the Easter bunny had in mind.


And Terry and I are now off to hide more eggs since the real Easter bunny arrives tonight and our house will all of a sudden be a buzz all over again tomorrow morning as Mini Eggs, foil wrappers and plastic eggs will be scattered about--and 4 little kids will be racing all over the house with excitement. 

Thank you to our wonderful neighbour friends for a great morning and for all of your contributions and help! Childhood memories are in the making.

Happy Easter weekend everyone.
Enjoy the chaos. Eat the chocolate.

Erica xo


Monday, 26 March 2018

Cheap and chic Easter vignettes

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This just makes me so darn happy.




Speckled eggs in a little tin pot. I mean, seriously. How cute is that?!


It gives me visions of my dream of owning lots of land, a barn and our kids running into the chicken coop to collect eggs each morning for breakfast.

A girl can dream.

But in the meantime, this little egg basket, flowers and Happy Easter sign is all sitting in my dining room, where our kids are instead just playing with the eggs--not eating them. So, one step at a time. I suppose.




And on our dining room table? Well, there are even more speckled eggs, soft green moss and bunnies--begging for Spring to arrive for good. Begging for the baby bunnies to be born under our back deck for the 3rd year in a row, for flowers to start popping up and for the sun to bring some warmth to what have been some very cold days.






Then if you head into our kitchen, more bunnies and speckled eggs sitting on soft green moss will greet you--because holidays are just my favourite.


But you know what else is my favourite? 

A great deal. 

So here's the truth--you want to create your own little Easter vignette? You don't have to pay a fortune---you just have to go to a Kindergarten teacher's paradise (a little ol' place called Dollarama). Don't tell anyone. But seriously, almost everything you see was from that gem of a store. You just have to be prepared to do a little Dollarama DIY and you're all set. 

Some brown craft paint and a steel wool scrub pad is all you need to turn solid coloured plastic eggs into adorable speckled eggs. And those white bunnies? Well...

THIS is what they used to look like when I first bought them (for only $2 each!).


But with a little white spray paint they've been transformed into adorable little bunnies...a little more chic--a little less cheap.


 And that adorable teal coloured cake stand? Yup, $4 Dollarama special.


I use it for parties (Mya's tea party was why I originally bought it) and I swear I'll find a million other ways to use it throughout the rest of the year.

$4 well spent.

Then you throw a little green moss on top of it (found in the craft aisle), some decorative twig balls and you've got yourself a little rustic spring vignette, for only a few dollars.

And that pretty little Happy Easter sign? Well, if you want one for yourself, HERE is where I found it for free online (I just printed it off of my printer at home on regular white paper and popped it into a white Dollarama frame that I already had). Perfectly easy, perfectly cute. Add some mason jars (free from my basement) and whatever spring flowers that you love, and you've got yourself a cute little spring scene.


So if you're sick of the cold drab weather that seems to never go away these days--add a few speckled eggs, a couple bunnies and some flowers to your space and I swear you'll feel better. And so cheap--I mean seriously you can't go wrong. 
It almost makes to believe that Easter is actually just around the corner, despite the fact that we're all still wearing winter coats. 

Happy spring everyone. 

Erica xo
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