Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Love notes

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I can't even begin to tell you how thrilled I've been this week.

I've been getting love notes from people all week long.

Not the kind of love note that I may have had passed to me in 7th grade from the boy three seats over...no...EVEN BETTER.

Love notes telling me that people are on their way over to Marillac Place, dropping off their donations, writing checks or sharing my blog post that I wrote last week with their friends. I've been reading emails from people saying that they sent out my plea to their mommy groups and are right now in the midst of collecting donations from kind and generous mamas. I've been reading Facebook messages telling me that Tim Horton's gift cards have been bought (enough for each of these teen moms) and as I write this at this very moment people are going through their collection of baby items at home and bagging them up, ready to drive them over to these girls who need them so desperately.

If your faith in people and their ability to be kind, generous and loving has ever wavered--let this moment be here to remind you that there are so so so many good people out there. Thank you to everyone. Thank you to those who have already dropped off their donations. Thank you to those who are in the midst of collecting things for these girls and thank you to those who have shared my post with all of their friends. These girls need so much--and the next pregnant girl who walks through their doors looking for help will benefit as well from everything that you're collecting, so thank you. We haven't gotten through their entire list yet, but we've done amazing things so far--so if you were considering making a donation please still do! In the midst of life that continues on in this household as usual, it's nice to be able sit back and take a moment to realize that these girls are going to have smiles on their faces on Christmas day because of you. So thank you.

And on another note...I'm off to clean up my living room--again...

Because, well, it looks like THIS...

 EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.


The best climbing gym/fort/hide away that these two could ever ask for... 

So as we wake up literally every single morning to little hands pulling my neatly placed cushions off of my couch each day, I have a moment of thinking to myself  "Can't we just keep my living room tidy for one day? Just one??"--but then I watch as these two giggle, laugh and climb all over their mountain of cushions and I give in, let it be and realize that one day they'll look back and remember this. 

Memories are being made in my mess of a living room. And I kind of like it. 

Thanks again for all the love sent,

Erica xo 










Friday, 22 November 2013

A love request

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I sat in the hospital, rubbing my very pregnant belly three years ago, waiting to register and fill out all of the paper work for my upcoming delivery.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I nervously tapped my foot on the ground as I sat in those uncomfortable hospital chairs and looked over at Terry, who carefully took my hand in his and smiled nervously at me as the reality of what was about to happen was all of a sudden becoming very real. We would be parents soon. Our world would be changed forever, and we were about to fill out the paper work to prove it.

We sat in silence, listening to the sounds of the hospital, watching nurses rush by and trying to imagine what it was going to be like for us in this very hospital--only a few short weeks from then, delivering a baby of our own.

As we waited patiently I watched as a young couple stepped up before us and went over to answer a few questions and fill out their forms.

The young girl couldn't have been more than 17years old and was incredibly skinny except for the basket ball that she looked like she was hiding under her shirt. Her dark hair was pulled back in a pony tail and a tattoo was peeking out from under her sleeve.

Her boyfriend looked even younger than her. His baseball cap was tilted to the side, his baggy pants hung below his waist and his running shoes made him look even younger than I'm sure he even was.

I all of a sudden wasn't nervous anymore.

I couldn't stop staring at them.

Not because I was just curious about this young couple who were expecting, but because I was trying to imagine how nervous, terrified even, they both were feeling as they filled out the exact same forms as us.

Here I was, beyond ready for becoming a mother, wanting it so incredibly badly...everything was in place. My life (on paper at least) was in perfect alignment for making me feel like I was ready to start a family--married to a wonderful man, educated with an honours degree and Masters, in a secure career that I loved, supportive family to back me, owned a house and two cars, had ridiculous amounts of experience with children...everything on paper told me that we were beyond ready for this. BUT I WAS STILL TERRIFIED.

So as I sat there trying not to stare, my heart broke even more for them as I overheard the nurse ask the young girl what her address was.

"Umm...well, I'm not exactly sure of the address", she said. "I'm going to be living at Marillac Place, so I don't have the address memorized yet".

My heart sank.

I know this place well.

It's a house for young, homeless mothers who have nowhere else to go with their babies. It's a house that takes these girls in, loves them, cares for them, teaches them how to be a mom, teaches them how to take care of themselves and ultimately supports them, all done of course with very little funding.

Just before Mya was born, before I had a baby of my own to then care for, I volunteered every Tuesday night at Marillac Place, looking after these babies and getting to know these young mothers,

I would sit and chat with pregnant teens who were terrified, alone, kicked out of their family homes or abused by their boyfriends...all while being pregnant. They had nowhere to go. No one who cared about them. No one to love them at their most vulnerable time.

I heard stories that would break your heart and not let you sleep at night.

One night while I was there, I held a tiny newborn in my arms as she shook uncontrollably, going through withdrawal from the anti-depression and anti-anxiety drugs that her mom had taken during her pregnancy, I was told. I sat holding this tiny baby, not being able to take my eyes off of her as her body shook against mine, while her mother told me her story. A story that would bring you to tears and make you grateful for every single thing that you have in your life. A story of abuse, abandonment, fear and sorrow. She was only 17. But after I finished wiping my tears as I held this young mom's hand and after telling her how amazing I thought she was...I saw a sense of relief come over her. All that she was looking for was someone to show her that they cared, that they would love her without judging her...that she and her baby would be okay.

I heard another story from a 16yr old girl who was left to bring herself to the hospital in a taxi cab when she was in labor and was all alone as she had a C-section that night. She told me, as her eyes didn't look up from the floor, that it was okay that noone was there with her though since there was a nice nurse who held her hand as they delivered her baby.

Can you even imagine??

That feeling of being completely all alone.

So, as I sat there pregnant myself, three years ago, eavesdropping on this young couple registering at the hospital, I was staring at them since my heart broke for their story that I hadn't even heard yet.

My heart broke because I knew that if they were going to be living at Marillac Place, it meant that they literally had nowhere else to go. Homeless and pregnant, and just young teens.

I wanted to tap them on their shoulder and ask them if they wanted to come live with us. We'll take care of you, I wanted to say. We'll take care of your baby. Whatever led you to this place right here doesn't even matter--we'll take you home and love you and love your baby and love your boyfriend with the baggy pants. Because everyone deserves that.

But in order to not seem like a creepy stranger inviting them into my house, I sat there uncomfortably, hoping and wishing that they'd both be okay in the end.

My plea though, to you today, is that you help me. I may not be able to invite each of these girls to live in my house, but we can still do a lot for them. I was talking with the director of Marillac Place and asked her what the girls needed right now since Terry and I knew that we wanted to make a significant donation to them this year. She was thrilled and excited that I was asking.

She sent me a list of items that they're trying to collect in order to give these girls a Christmas. Because, well, Christmas is a really lonely time for a lot of people who don't have family or anywhere to go. And although some of these girls have a mom or dad or other family members who they are sometimes in contact with (but don't always have a great relationship with), some of them don't have anyone at all.

So, my plea here to you is that you take a minute and help me. I didn't realize how many items they really needed, and although I'd love to have the means to be able to buy them all--I thought we'd make a donation ourselves and then ask for help for some of the other items from all of you. They're not asking for much. Just the essentials. Bed sheets, shampoo, hair brushes, baby items, diapers. Just the things that I take for granted that I can just go out and buy for myself and my family.

The director gave me a Christmas wish list for the teens--new items that they'll wrap up and put under the tree for the girls and their babies. But they are also always looking for gently used items--maternity clothes, baby clothes and toys or anything that a new mom would need.

Some of you will be able to help a lot--you'll be able to go out and buy a ton of the items on this list--and I thank you for that. Some of you will be able to donate one small item and that's wonderful too...it's one more gift that some young girl gets to open on Christmas day--and for that I thank you a million times over. And some of you are just able to cheer us on, watch as the donations come in and send your love our way--and I thank you so much for that as well. I want to be able to tell these amazingly brave young girls that someone cares. Because really, it's not about the items. No, not at all. It's about the feeling that they will get when they open their gifts and realize that someone out there cares for them, loves them and is willing to help them. They're just all so young.

I've copied the wish list below of the items that these girls need. If you are able to donate anything from this list, please let me know by leaving a comment directly on my blog or via Facebook or email so that I can keep track of what we have and what we still need to get. You'll notice that they're asking for 10 of some items..and that is because there are 10 girls living there right now--the house is at capacity.

P.S. Please if you could share this post, tweet it, email it...whatever you can do to get it out to see if others can help too I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you again,

Erica xo

Check out http://www.marillacplace.ca/ if you would like more information or if you would like to know where to drop off your items.

Marillac Place – needs list

Household Items:
·         Bed in a bag sets (single beds)
·         Single bed blankets
·         10 bed bug covers - single bed
·         10 bed bug covers - crib
·         Crib sheets & blankets
·         Pillows
·         Bottle warmers
·         Diaper genie refills (blue)
·         Dish towels/ cloths
·         Baby wash cloths/towels

Items for moms:
·         10 brush/ comb sets
·         10 house coats sets
·         10 pairs of slippers
·         10 pajama sets
·         10 winter hat/glove sets

Items for babies:
·         Baby boy and girls clothes/sleepers preemie-24 months
·         Diapers preemie-size 6
·         Baby toys up to 24 months
·         Wipes
·         Diaper cream/Vaseline
·         Bath products (baby wash, shampoo, lotion)
·         Baby oil
·         Baby powder
·         Soothers
·         Socks
·         Bibs
·         Bottles/sippy cups
·         10 bottle brushes

Misc.:
·         Adult bus tickets
·         Gift cards (Tim Hortons, Shopppers, Grocery stores, Walmart)
·         10 scrapbooks
·         10 photo albums
·         10 weather covers for strollers
·         10 laundry baskets
·         10 disposable cameras 





Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Chocolate bar brownies and hotel bliss

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Friends. Look where Terry and I got to sleep the other night.


Yes, it's a hotel. A HOTEL!

It was quiet, lovely, calm. Wonderful.

We walked the streets of Toronto, hand in hand, stopping spontaneously to pick out some chocolate truffles, and sat in this lovely little shop to eat them...just because we could. We walked up and down the aisles of fancy stores slowly, looking at every single thing on each shelf...just because we could.


We got into our dressy clothes, trying to pretend that we were as fancy and cool as our Torontonian friends Julie and Jamie--but then remembered that my fancy pants still had tiny peanut butter finger prints on them and I pulled a soother out of my coat pocket when I was trying to find my keys.

We tried though.

And our kiddos? Well, we missed them desperately. I don't think I stopped thinking of them. And I may have even had a moment in the car on the way there when I said to Terry that maybe we should just turn around, since I missed them already--which consequently left me with a husband shaking his head and rolling his eyes at me as he laid on the gas.
 
Long story short though, it was wonderfully fun. And we have Terry's new company to thank for it. Best Christmas staff party EVER. Thanks Cheryl and your entire family and company!

We're back home though now, back to reality...and starting to get some treats ready for my parents own Christmas party coming up.

You need to try these.



Not only because they're decadent and delicious--but because they're so darn easy it's almost ridiculous. Oh, AND it uses up your left over Halloween candy..which (in my case), is a really good thing--I NEED to stop eating them.

My parents are having a little Christmas party soon, so Jen and I told mom we'd bake up some goodies for the table. These are the first of the batch. Popped them in my freezer yesterday afternoon, ready to be pulled out the day of so they'll be super fresh and ready to go.

They're brownies...with chocolate bars in them.


What can be better than that???

I got the inspiration from Pinterest, but decided to switch it up a little and make 2 bite brownies instead--so they'll be perfect finger food for the party...AND it'll be a surprise with every single brownie as to what kind of chocolate bar you'll bite into. Awesome.

Here is how I made them:

1) Mix up some brownie batter--any recipe or any boxed mix (whatever is easiest for you). Spray your tiny muffin tins with Pam BAKING spray (this is the ONLY stuff that I ever use when baking--it works amazingly every time).


2) Get out your Halloween candy and start cutting them in half.


3) Put a small scoop of batter into each muffin holder (just a bit to act as the bottom of your brownie).


4) Then squish a piece of chocolate bar on top of each.



5) Add another small spoon full of batter on top, and pop them in the oven at 350 for about 10minutes (or until you see a crust on top of each brownie).


Voila!!




So delicious, so easy...and a surprise every time!

Enjoy!

Erica xo





Friday, 15 November 2013

A slow start...

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Christmas is slowly creeping into our house this week.

*remember this wreath from last year? The one that cost me a whole $6 to make? If you want to make it this year, check out this link to my old post and you can whip one up too in about 30mins. Apparently it's a popular little craft idea, since amazingly this wreath and little blog post has been pinned over 1000 times on Pinterest in only a couple of days--which really only means that it's EASY..so go for it! 


Anyways, slow is not a word that I use very often...especially when it comes to Christmas.

Christmas tends to explode quickly in our house (usually once the Halloween candy gets marked down to 1/2 price that's my cue to get out the sparkle)...and Terry is now just used to coming home to a mess of pine needles, sparkle, twinkly lights and Christmas balls. And he smiles and shakes his head at me each and every time, never surprised.

But this year? I just feel busy. Too much on my brain. Too much to get done. Too many things to finish. And two little people who need so much of me each day.

I just feel busy. Swamped, even.

I walked into the living room the other day holding an ice cream cone, packed as high as I could get it, and announced to Terry:

"Our eat healthy competition is over. I'm just too busy to bother with this NONSENSE. Forget it. I'm having an ice cream cone. So there".

He laughed at me as he sat there eating his lovely little carrot sticks.

"Let's just say you win then, okay?", he said to me. "You deserve it". And he pulled me over and hugged me, realizing that you really shouldn't mess with a girl holding an ice cream cone as big as the one I had in my hand.

This is why I love this man.

We'll start over next week. Maybe.

But for now, Christmas is coming in slowly this year. Little by little. And I'm okay with it--surprisingly.

Sometimes great things take time. And Christmas in this house is definitely a GREAT thing. So I'm willing to take my time.

But in the meantime, you can find me feeding babies with Carter (how cute is that??)...


baking cookies with little cousins...


and taking some time to watch the snowflakes fall.


And Christmas? Well, it makes me happy just thinking about it. So look out kids--magic and sparkle is just around the corner. Your mom's just not as on the ball this year.

Now...with all of that said...excuse me while I go ransack my closet to try to find something to wear for this weekend...because Terry and I are GOING AWAY BY OURSELVES TOMORROW. Yes, it's unbelievable. It hasn't happened in almost 3years. We'll be staying in a hotel (YES!!), and sleeping in (woo hoo!), and eating quiet meals together where we can actually TALK to each other, and I'll be sipping on cocktails (OMG, I'll be on the ground after the first drink since I haven't touched a drop of alcohol in 4years with all the pregnancies/nursing)...it's going to be amazing. AMAZING. And the best part? Terry's new company is providing all of this to us. It's the best staff Christmas party I've ever heard of.

But as I sit here writing this, I already miss my babies. So it might be a little bittersweet. Okay...it'll be A LOT bittersweet. But we're excited. Gotta go pack. And kiss my babies a million times before I go...because, well, I miss them already.

Happy Friday!!

Erica xo








Thursday, 7 November 2013

Western Birthday Party

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Sometimes throwing a party can feel like you've just run a marathon.

Okay, so not exactly as intense as a marathon. And well...okay, whose kidding who..I've never run a marathon before so I really have no idea. But I can imagine the prep work, the planning and the dedication that goes into it. And when you're done? Well, you probably just want to fall onto the couch and sleep for a few days. 

That's how I felt on Monday, after throwing all three kids a joint birthday party to celebrate Carter turning 1, Oliver turning 2 and Mya turning 3. We threw our cowboy hats on, and saddled up for a western party--and had a great time.  

And the prep work? Well, it was insane. So before I start showing you any pictures from the day, just know that this party was A LOT of work. So when people say to me "I can barely even get dinner made each night, how do you have time to do all of this when you have two little ones at home with you?" --let me tell you...I DON'T. It took over my nights for weeks on end. I don't think I watched a single TV show at night for weeks as I sat there, instead, cutting brown felt for the horses, burning my fingers on my glue gun, painting cardboard boxes, wooden boards and burlap and hand making all of the details for this day. 

However, I should also let you know that I LOVE doing this kind of stuff. So it was a labor of love. And every time that I'd sit there at 9pm, exhausted from the day (staring at the millionth pool noodle horses that I had to finish), just wanting to crash on my couch, I'd think about how much fun the kids would have galloping around my parents crescent...and I'd get a splurge of energy as I'd get my scissors and glue gun out once again.

And to be honest, it also felt like it should be a bit of a bigger deal of a party since it was a party for all three of the kids--so I may have gone a bit overboard...this time. But next year? Well, I'm cool with some candles and a cake..maybe a few balloons and a hand full of kids. Those parties make for the best memories too. 

So, to all of the little cowboys and cowgirls who came out to celebrate our kids' birthday--thank you. Thank you for coming and thank you for showing our kids so much love. And to those who helped with the details, thank you! From mom and Judy who baked up a storm, to dad who whipped up our welcome sign and wanted signs and helped to create the best little general store I've ever seen (oh, and spray painted all of the little gold nuggets to boot!). Thank you!

So, with all of this said...here is our western party.

*And p.s. I'm selling off some of the items from this party on Kijiji, since I obviously don't need them anymore. So if you're interested in throwing your own western party, let me know.

Here ya go--our western birthday bash: 






Saddle (and bails of hay) courtesy of the amazing Krista S.--thank you!!

Our three birthday kiddos. 
 





















    









Even cowgirls and cowboys need to take a break from parties to check on their baby cousin/sister.  












Panning for gold was definitely Mya's favourite part of the day...going back and forth from collecting her gold to heading to the general store to buy herself another treat. My hands were full of opened, half-eaten candy--because apparently the process is even more fun than the prize.











Goody bags for the kids, complete with caramel/cheese popcorn and a mega huge chocolate Rice Krispie treat (because, well..those three little men on the corner of the Rice Krispie square are wearing bandanas...so that was western enough for me!).




Thanks for a great afternoon cowboys and cowgirls!!!

Erica xo

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