Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A new little life and a terrible loss

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I'm not even sure where to start as I sit here on my couch almost not wanting to even place my fingers on these keys. When I write it, it becomes true and real. So I can feel the anxiety building up in me as my fingers keep moving.

I'm pregnant.

And we're beyond thrilled.

But in the same breath my heart is shattered, I have tears in my eyes, I feel like I can't breathe, and I can feel the weight on my chest of absolute heartache.

Because I was pregnant with twins.

TWINS. My absolute dream came true. It was actually happening. My prayers, my wishes, my belief that I was meant to have twins...it had all come true.

Until this past weekend, when everything changed. When I found myself sitting on a hospital bed, having blood drawn, ultrasounds taken, blood pressure monitored...because one of our twins has died.

I can't even write that without tears pouring down my cheeks, because now it's real. Now it's true. We have lost our baby and we are absolutely shattered.

I still remember so clearly lying there on that crinkly paper as the ultrasound technician ran the cold gel over my pregnant belly and turned the screen to show me our babies--our perfect, healthy, little babies with strong heartbeats. My heart jumped out of my chest as she said "It appears that you have more than one baby in there. You're pregnant with twins".

I couldn't contain my excitement, I couldn't stop smiling, I just couldn't believe it.

"Most people cry when I tell them they're having twins", she said laughing.

"Because they're so happy?" I asked, naively.

"Um, no", she replied. "They're usually not too happy, so I'm so glad to see that you are".

Then I proceeded to explain to her that with every baby I've been pregnant with I have always asked the ultrasound technician if there was more than one baby in there, hoping and praying that we'd be blessed with two.  But with a resounding "no" from each of them, I loved on the single pregnancies that we were so blessed with and counted our lucky stars that we were so lucky to even be pregnant with one beautiful baby.

So when I found out that I was carrying twins, it literally felt like a dream come true.

I left the building, carrying that ultrasound picture of those two beautiful sacs side by side, holding those two beautiful little babies inside, and brought it home to show Terry and mom who were waiting back with the kids at our house. I had no idea what their reaction would be. Terry had ultimately made the decision to take the leap and try for baby number 4 back in the summer--knowing that it wouldn't take anything at all to convince me to try for a fourth. But I ultimately had no idea what having five kids, 6yrs old and under, would mean to him.

But you know what? He was excited. Sure he was shocked as much as I was. But as I went through the millions of emotions that come with the idea of carrying two babies at once, it was him who was calm, confident and telling me how lucky we were and how happy this news was. We were actually having twins! Dreams really do come true, I thought.

So as I sat there in that hospital bed just this past weekend, it felt like our dream had turned into a nightmare and I was desperate to wake up.

I wanted so badly to leave. I wanted the doctors to stop coming in. I wanted the ultrasound technician to stop looking. I wanted that screen shot that I secretly saw when she was moving the gel along my belly to leave my memory. Because all I remember seeing were two sacs on that screen...one with a good sized baby in it and another with a tiny one. And right then and there I knew. It was over.

Our baby was gone.

I wanted to run. I wanted her to just stop. I wanted her to tell me that it's all been a big mistake. I wanted her to tell me that our babies were okay.

But she didn't.

And when the doctor came in to discuss the results, I could feel my heart beating out of my chest as I heard the words "Baby B has died".

So I sit here now in a bit of a daze. In a heartbroken, desperate, daze..not knowing what to do or how to feel or how to act. Because when we miscarried our last baby, it was so final. It was so devastating because it was over. The pregnancy was completely over. But this time, the heartache is so real and raw and terrible--but I'm still pregnant. I still have an incredible little baby growing inside of me, and I'm so ridiculously grateful. I think that's why for the first couple of days after hearing this news I was in a lot of shock, and in a lot of denial. I tried to go on about our days with our kids as if this all wasn't happening. I held my tears in for most of the day, and cried late at night. Because it was all just too much to handle. Because the other terrible news that the doctor also told us is that there is no guarantee for our other baby at this point. Many surviving twins go on to be just fine and healthy, but there are no guarantees. There really are never any guarantees in any pregnancy. So with more ultrasounds, blood tests and OB visits scheduled for this week, we are holding our breath and praying that our baby will still be okay.

"The grief comes in waves", Terry said to me as I broke down yesterday. Because one minute life feels normal, as we're cleaning up dinner dishes and tucking kids into bed. But the next moment it hits us, and we cry and cry together.

I just want this feeling to end. I want our baby back. I want this all to go away.

But it won't. And it can't.

And we now still have another beautiful baby to live for, to be happy for, to be excited about. Our dream of Sophia being a big sister is still here, in this very moment.

 So we're going to hold onto that. We're going to hold onto it so tightly that it can't slip away.

 Erica xo

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

A little Halloween magic courtesy of Loblaws

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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


Friday, 7 October 2016

A year after spray painting our doorknobs--the truth about how they've held up

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Remember about a year ago when I decided to take on the monumental task of taking all 21 doors off in my house, painting them stark white, then spray painting all of the gold door knobs and hardware? 
(click HERE to check it out and see all the before and after pics)

Well, I really had no idea how well the knobs would hold up. I hoped for the best, but it was really a bit of a risk. BUT, my theory has always been that certain risks are good to take--because really, what is the worst that can happen. 

So we went from 80's gold....

to beautiful black, with just a bit of spray paint and a lot of determination. 

We went from old cream coloured doors...

to stark white beauties. 

So if you're still thinking of taking on a little DIY spray painting project of your own with your door knobs and hardware, here is a little update on how they've held up over the year. So you can decide for yourself whether it's something you want to take on.

So, the big question is....what do they look like one year later? 

Well, here is the truth. 

Almost ALL of them look exactly as they did one year ago when I first sprayed that beautiful black all over them. The kids rooms, our master bedroom, the bathroom upstairs, our front hall closet...all of these knobs and hardware still look amazing. 

However, there are about 4 knobs in our house that I have had to re-touch. 

These are the 4 knobs in our house that get used and abused--so I'm not really surprised that they've had a little wear and tear. Our main floor bathroom, our garage door, basement and laundry room doors definitely get the most use and definitely get a little beat up with all of the people going in and out so many times a day.

So when I noticed some scratches on them, and some wear on the lock on the bathroom door I decided to forgo taking the whole door knob off (since some of them were a bit of a pain to take on and off) and I instead just sprayed them right there on the door.

So I taped some flyers tightly around the knob...

and just lightly sprayed the 4 knobs that had a few scratches on them.

(then left them over night to dry and then got out my white paint and touched up any spots on the door where the spray paint landed by accident).  

 So, here's the thing--would I do it again? Totally.

Is it a bit of a pain to spray paint a couple door knobs once a year? A little. But no big deal really.

And still, the amount of money that we saved by NOT having to replace a million door knobs and hardware is so worth the one evening of throwing a bit of spray paint on the four knobs that get the most abuse.

So there you have it. If you want to try it yourself, I'd say go for it. I had so many people emailing me telling me that they spray painted their own door knobs after I wrote about doing it myself a year ago, because honestly, it changes the whole look of your house, with just a bit of paint.

So get your spray paint out and just go for it!

And now, for a little baby love, just because...  

a toddler in a tiny doll stroller is funny.

And it's pretty much the new favourite thing around here.

And the big news around here? Well, this little boy turned 4 today.

So he woke up to his chair full of balloons this morning, some party plates and straws to eat his breakfast off of and cheap table clothes to add to the festivities...and some ice cream at 7am, because you always get ice cream on your birthday morning. Clearly.

And after dinner tonight we had our family over for cake and presents...with lots of helpers to get all those presents unwrapped.

Happy birthday sweet, sweet Carter.

We love you more than you'll ever know.

Happy long weekend everyone!

Erica xo

Friday, 23 September 2016

First few weeks

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Oh my goodness we made it. 

Three weeks into school already, and we're all still alive, we're all still breathing, we've got lunches packed, forms signed, clothes picked out, teachers met and first week fears settled.

And our kindergarten classroom? Well, we have floors now.


Once our floors were finally in, my teaching partners and I were scurrying around literally the day before school started trying to put furniture in the right place, put furniture together and set out activities with the hopes of fooling kids and parents into believing that we didn't just pull this off hours before those school doors opened.

And that very day before school started as I was rushing off to finally be able to put our classroom together, I also rushed our poor baby Sophia to the only walk in clinic that was open on that holiday Monday to find out that she had Hand Foot and Mouth disease. Just for kicks, ya know.

One trial day at daycare gave her a nice little gift that lasted over a week.

So, when I say that we made it...we really did. It's been like a 3 week long marathon of excitement, emotions, anxiety, stress, happiness and everything in between.

And our kindie class? Well, we made it through the first few weeks of peeling scared, crying kids out of their parents arms and snuggling them and distracting them until their tears settled and their smiles came back.

But this little guy...well, he didn't even look back once those school doors closed.

He was thrilled, excited and pumped beyond belief to finally be going to school like his big sister and cousin.

So we packed their backpacks, filled their lunch pails, kissed their cheeks, hugged them tight... 

and sent them on their way out into the big big world of school.

And that little monkey in the middle started daycare a few days a week too, while my mom is watching her the other days. So big changes, hard changes, exciting changes all around.

And after school sibling snuggles from kids who now miss each other all day long are a regular occurrence.

So we made it, this little family of ours.

Life is changing, life is moving, life is carrying us along and big changes, hard changes, exciting changes are all what this life is really about.

And whenever I've come home from a long, tiring day of 26 kindergarteners, this little baby Batman always makes me laugh. 

So even the hard days are still pretty darn good.

Good job parents for pulling it together and getting everyone set over these past few weeks, great job teachers for making it all happen and good job kids for making it through some new, scary, great firsts.

And thanks to my superb teaching partners for a great start to the year.

Happy weekend everyone--enjoy every minute of it!

Erica xo

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Is everyone kinda falling apart just days before school starts? ...ya, us too.

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I snapped this picture and literally 2 seconds later the relax police told me to please put my camera away and "just relax please". But what he didn't realize is that I was actually documenting my relaxation, so that I could look back at this moment in time when--by the way relax police, I was actually incredibly relaxed-- so that I could look back on this picture and feel all calm and peaceful and zen-like...and so that I could pull it out on a day like today, when zen-like was out the window. 

Because sitting at the Scandinave Spa at Blue Mountain, just Terry and I, having just gotten out of one of the hot spas, reading my trashy magazine and sitting by the fire is pretty much the most relaxing feeling ever.

So I'm taking a moment tonight to look back on our little mini-vacation away last weekend, so I get my zen-like mojo back again.

 Because taking myself back to the beautiful gondola ride up the mountain...

to find a wedding scene at the top, getting ready for their big day...

or when we sat by the water, and just let our cares wash away--well, it will bring me right back to that calm feeling, and I can forget for a second that when I stepped into my school on Friday we still didn't have any floors in our classroom.

*Insert calming-thoughts right now*.

Because the reality of this week--just days before school starts, has now hit us, and we all need a little zen.

So if your kids are all out of sorts this week---if siblings are bickering, if kids are crying over the smallest of things, or if it just feels like they're irritable towards the world..take a second and feel a little zen today.

It's days before a huge change for everyone, and kids feel it the most. So if it is starting to feel like everything is starting to crumble just a bit in your household, just remember...anxiety can cause adults and especially kids to act sometimes in the most unflattering of ways. And starting back to school for everyone can be an exciting time, but also an incredibly anxiety-ridden time for everyone.

So chillax. Find something that makes you happy. Give your kids a break when they're falling apart and being anything but reasonable and enjoyable. Go somewhere fun. Know that once everyone gets settled into their new routine this year things will start to settle again (and as I reminded myself today, this could take a good month to happen).

So, with that said...in an effort to forget that my bare-bones empty classroom is completely out of my control at this point (praying for floors when I go in to check again!), and in an effort to remember that even though everyone in our household is feeling a little out of sorts around here, we've got some good happy stuff still going on--and sometimes those little things are really the things that we should focus on the most.

So this is for me--a little reminder that life is still oh so good, even when things are anything but settled around here.

Cause sisterly love can make you instantly forget that school is only a couple days away.

And man does this big sister ever adore her little sister (and vise versa). Mya would literally take her as her own if she could and never give her back to us if she had it her way. Both Mya and Carter are a little more than obsessed with this little girl, and the fight over who gets to hold her, walk with her, play with her or feed her more is a daily conversation.

I can't blame them. I feel the same way.

And our vegetable garden? Well, the joy that this little garden has brought to these kids will definitely make me forget and not care about the fact that I have totally forgotten how to pack a school lunch.

Because remember not so long ago they planted these tiny seeds and prayed for something (anything!) to grow?... 

Well, check it out now. 

Those exact little snow pea seeds grew into bowls upon bowls of delicious snow peas that we've been eating all summer long. 

and beets...

and massive zucchinis that are still sitting on the counter waiting for me to bake up some chocolate zucchini bread like I've done a million times before. 

and cucumbers that we've been eating like apples...

and tomatoes that don't last two seconds on the vine before little fingers pop them off and eat them.

and strawberries that were constantly being picked way too early since little hands have no patience for the perfectly red strawberry to ripen...

and holy lettuce!!!

So with strawberry picking on a hot summer day (at someone else' huge garden)

and a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants I have no idea what I'm doing decision to buy a bushel full of peaches one day at the market and teach myself how to can them...

life is still full of such good stuff (and some now delicious peaches)--thank you YouTube and several emails to my amazing friend Elana who answered some of my how-to-can-peaches questions (check out her blog post HERE to get full instructions if you want to try it yourself!). These peaches sitting on my counter right now make me so ridiculously happy. You should give it a try-even if you have no idea how to do it.

So hang in there teachers, kids and parents. Everything will settle soon.

And in the meantime, go can some peaches (you know, with all the free time I'm sure you have these days).

It will make you happy.

Erica xo


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