Thursday, September 18, 2014

goo goo dolls and a bff

So quite a while back, like back in July,  Shelby and her very first best friend whom she met in grade one, met up to attend a Goo Goo Dolls concert in Toronto.  Rachel actually is living and attending school in Toronto and so aside from texting and facebook they both had probably not seen each other in person for probably a good year.

Growing up Rachel and her sister Michelle became very good friends with Shelby and often slept over and hung out with Shelby.  What I have always loved about both Rachel and Michelle is their ability to slow down and fall into sync with Shelby.  They have always made Shelby feel like a very important person.

Many times they ended up in our kitchen decorating our favorite sugar cookies.  There would be colored sprinkles everywhere and Rachel would always try to eat too much raw cookie dough.  I offered to make Shelby a batch to give to Rachel because Rachel loves these cookies. One year we gave Rachel a batch for her birthday with the recipe written out and titled "Rachel's Sugar Cookies".


Getting to Toronto is very easy.  I can't say enough about how wonderful Go Transit makes it for a person in a wheelchair.  I would say that 95% of the time the service is fantastic.  Completely accessible and really any issues that fall into the 5% I would say involve a driver (for us it was issue with bus drivers) who just probably have very little understanding and maybe even limited patience for a person with a disability.  Hopefully one day across the board we won't have situations were service is compromised due to ignorance but I will take the 95% and run with it.  Shelby has had some great outings into Toronto lately and those outings really boost her self esteem.  I think that even though I have to follow along and be close by for her toileting needs, there is an element of independence she gets from going there.  I think that for the few hours I get lost and she is there doing her own thing....life actually feels normal for her.


Waiting in Union Station for Rachel, I was remind of all the wonderful times I use to have taking the train to Ottawa to visit my grandpa each summer.  It is such a beautiful building.  Unfortunately there is so much construction underway there and it is hard to see the beauty through the chaos but I hope at the end of it all it will enhance the amazing parts of such a neat landmark.
  

What I love about Shelby and Rachel's friendship is how it is like they just saw each other yesterday when they are able to connect.  Those are the people that stay in your life always.  Distance may get in the way...life's obligations may get in the way but when the stars are aligned and you get to see that person again it is like no time has passed.


Of course Rachel loved her bag of goodies.  She was happy her boyfriend was away for the weekend. It meant she could go home and not have to share her jar of cookies.


Shelby had a photo of the two of them from when they were very young.  I love this photo of Rachel taking in the beauty of that photo.   


Once they were on their way to the concert I hooked up with John and we headed off to get a bite to eat.  We were planning to visit a little place called Say Cheese that had been featured on You Gotta Eat Here. Unfortunately it had since closed.


Not all was lost because on our way down the street to Say Cheese we passed a placed called Hey Lucy.  So we wandered back that way and gave Hey Lucy a whirl.


The decor was fun.  Full of that uniqueness large chain restaurants can not accomplish.  It oozed what I so enjoy from these sorts of one of a kind restaurants.


I could not get a good zoom in photo but at the back of this photo was the stone oven. 


Deep fried macaroni and cheese.  Heaven.


The pizza was amazing.       


I always thoroughly enjoy the times we can sneak away for us time.   I love it even more when we stumble across a new restaurant to try.  These little times rejuvenate me.....rejuvenate us.   


Friday, September 12, 2014

special hooks

Years ago when Shelby was just a baby we had a therapist named Stephanie that would come into our home to visit with Shelby and with us.  She was a wonderful person.  She had so may great ideas to help Shelby's progress.  She was there to listen and support us in all aspects of our lives.  When you are thrust into the world of special needs there is an element of isolation, Stephanie made that isolation more bearable.  

She said years later that she tried to step back from us when it was time for Shelby to move into the next program that would help bridge that gap that being premature can create and to help her make the most of her limitations, but she could not.  She said how because of the connection that took place between us it was impossible to not become friends.  She was plagued with many health issues over the years.  When I was pregnant with Amber she lost her only daughter.  Over the years as her health declined, I was often unable to see her but would send her regular notes and pictures in the mail. After she passed her husband told me that the days mail would arrive from me he knew she would have a moment that made her smile.  I often think that the reason I met her was to be that bit of sunshine during the days she needed it.  

Way back I read a book by Regina Brett called Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible.  So first you must make a point to read this book or really any of her books. This was my second book by her.  In the book, the one lesson...specifically # 10, is one that stuck in my head.... If you want to see a miracle, be the miracle.  It is such a simple thought.  When we think of what we think needs to happen to  be considered a miracle, we sometimes set ourselves up by thinking too darn big.  By assuming that the only way to be a part of a miracle is by it being monumental......well the way I see it, life...the good shit in life, is made up of a lot of small acts....small miracles.  Before I read this book I often felt like my life was not extraordinary.  That I was living a life that was mediocre.  I wasn't some famous artist whose work was touching people or some amazing author who was touching people through the words in their best seller books.  I wasn't a part of a charity that was doing amazing things for people on the other side of the world.  I felt I wasn't a part of the bigger picture, at the time, that "miracles" fell into in my mind.  I realize now and particularly after reading this book and generally with having a different way of looking at life, that I was a part of a miracle when I sent those small notes to Stephanie.  I made her smile during some of her toughest days...that is a sweet little miracle that I can hold in my heart always.  It is that sort of stuff that allows us to leave a lasting legacy.  Our little miracles will be told in a story to someone.

After Stephanie's daughter passed away she gave me many things she was saving for the day when she would have grandchildren.  I am so sad that she did not have an opportunity to have that while she was alive.  One thing she gave to me was a coat rack her father made for her when she was a child.  I used it in the girls room for years and years and finally after a few too many bumps by Shelby's wheelchair and being over loaded with this and that it became just too wobbly and so I parted with all of it but the hooks.  My plan was to one day take those hooks and make something special.   

When we gutted the living there was some old wood in the ceiling.  Wood that had sat untouched for many many years.  It had knots in all the right places.  It seemed like it might be just the perfect match for those hooks that have been waiting patiently for new life.


John cut a piece of the board for me to sand.


Once it was sanded I painted it with a clear varathane.


The outcome was just perfect.  We hung it behind our front door in our amazing new space.  


There is a rule I have implemented about it.  Only company can hang their coats on it.  This is my sisters coat and purse.

Now I realize how crazy that sounds.....a coat rack that no one in the house is allowed to use.  If I didn't set that rule in place this beautiful space would be cluttered with way too many coats and hoodies as well as stinky basketball bags....well no.  I have waited such a long time to have a nice entry into our home and I pretty much have no patients for the clutter that would without a doubt cover up such a beautiful project if I didn't make the rule.....so it is a company only coat rack!!!  I love it so very much!  

Monday, September 8, 2014

22

Well I fell into today grateful for the ease Mondays are now offering me.  I don't have to work on the Mondays anymore and what a huge relief this is.  After some weekends, like this one past, it is so needed.


The weekend saw us finishing up Amber's basketball tryouts.  She will be playing with John again his year. She was offered a spot on the triple A team but for a few reasons she declined.  First she wants playing time. Taking the spot on this team would have seen her lose playing time for sure.  Second, with how she was treated when the team was coached by a different person, her potential being completely over looked, her not being utilized properly and then she was cut from the team with no reason given what so ever.....well that sort of stuff stings.  It has taken her a full year of very hard work to get back to the player she was before that huge clusterfuck.  I will say that the coaches now in charge of that team showed her nothing but respect and understood 100% her reasons and essentially our reasons why taking that spot at this time is not a fit for her. They told her if she got sick of daddy to let them know.  I think had she chosen to play on that team it would have proven to be a far better experience then in the past because of different coaching dynamics.

John unfortunately could not breeze through the tryouts without an enormous amount of drama and ultimately stress he did not need, thrust onto him by one person and their general stupidity.   The sad thing is when you see someones true colors it is frustrating that others continue to drink the kool-aid said person is serving all around and the person with the integrity ends up being made to look like that bad guy.   I am a firm believer in karma. What comes around goes around.  People who do shitty things will have it come back at them.  John handled himself with such amazing grace and above all......integrity.  His girls are lucky to have him as a coach. I am hoping that the drama has ended and he can get to the task of teaching some really talented young ladies.

I found myself canning this weekend.  First time I have ever done this.  Our neighbor had given us a batch of tomatoes.  The first time I use them for chili.  This time there was so many....and more cucumbers.


He had given me cucumbers with the last batch too.  They end up in the green bin.  We just never ate them. This time around I did not want to waste any of it.  I found a good blog here with instructions on how to do the tomatoes and the pickle instructions came off the pickling spice container.


We ended up with quite a few jars of goodness.  It is definitely an all day task...which makes the Mondays
off nice too after a full day of canning.  I also got really crazy domesticated and made some lemon and vinegar cleaner out of the peels from the juice I used for the jars of tomatoes.  It has to sit for ten days. Hopefully it works.


Today was Shelby's birthday.  Twenty-two.  My how the time has flown by.  Sometimes I feel like my feet have not touch the ground in those twenty two years.


This is her very first photo.  I look at it with so many emotions.  Even so many years later the wounds of what should have been are raw.  They never really heal.  Every once and a while they break open and you have to tend to them.  Usually this happens in private and no one ever really knows that even 22 years later that pain is there, it is real and it hurts like it all happened yesterday.  Thankfully it gets hidden under so many other awesome things.


Her smile and successes.  Her humor and what she brings to the table each day...sheer determination and awesomeness.  I think there are times I have not been a great momma to her.  It wasn't an easy road for me. I was stretched to limits that others would have easily broken under.  I do my best to cut myself some slack because I am human.  Last night I washed her hair while she was in the tub and on purpose I took my time and really thought about the love that is in my hands and thought about it encircling her and keeping her safe and well always.


There was a banner showered with My Little Pony pictures.  (Another day soon I will share a My Little Pony costume I made her for Fan Expo)  She seemed very happy with the banner even though I felt it was a rush job.  She loved her Batman balloon as well.


Cake of course.  Peanut butter cups too.


She wants a new tattoo and has booked a consult.  She has some money in gift certificates to go toward it but we offered to pay the remaining.  I wanted her to have something to open.  A few weeks back she showed me a photo of a mug and said something to the effect of getting that for her birthday would be awesome.  So I decided to copy the mug for her.



Using Sharpie oil based markers I did up two of the design she showed me.

--shhhh

--almost

--now you may speak



So her!!!  Then I found two other ideas.  I bake them for 30 minutes.  I am not sure how they will wash so I think I will hand wash these.  I plan on doing them again and at that point I will maybe do one up and wash the heck out of it in the dishwasher and see what happens.

She was so happy with these.  She honestly had an amazing day.  I am tuckered out.  Far too much going on the last 72 hours.  I am heading to bed with my book!!!


Monday, August 25, 2014

a shift

After we finished camping we ended up staying at John's parents place for a few days. Shelby joined us for that. I had a night and a day there without her care before we had to come home and get Shelby. John was kind of chomping at the bit wanting to leave to come home and get her earlier then I had told the help we had for her. I didn't want to head home to get her early. I explained to him that I had care planned for her up until a certain time. It is a lot of work to plan her care for 6 days. It falls on me which I hate and so to not take full advantage of what I have spent time putting in place frustrates me. Going home early ends in a certain waste of money as well.  If I go home early the worker is not going to give me a refund but bigger then that is that no matter which way I cut it, my time...my very little time void of her care, abruptly ends. So I am so thankful that, even though I think he would have rather gone home early and did the drive there and back all in one day,  I ended up getting that extra 12 hours of me time.


There is a shift in my world when her care is added in.  Unfortunately her care there is far harder on my body.  We stayed for five days and that was more then enough for me.  I was ready to come home and was happy to see our trusty ceiling left that gets her to the toilet and into bed not to mention a bath.  The portable lift is okay but it requires pulling and pushing and the constant fear of scratching the floor.  It is a huge hassle and to boot I can't use it to bath her because it can't get close enough to the tub to lower her in so I have to move everything outside and give her a shower (a.k.a dumping buckets of water on her) on the deck.  I blogged about that here a few summers ago.  It is a lot of frigging work.  So you can understand maybe why I took every hour away I had because I knew that this shift was coming in my vacation.  A shift that does chip away a bit at the calm camping created for me. 

Now I am a versatile gal and so I take that shift and the times when I am not needed to help her and I do my best to enjoy stuff.  Like the day I wore a beach cover up all day.  I love those sorts of days.    


Although there is absolutely nothing that compares to cooking in my own kitchen....stealing someone else's apron and baking works for me.



I didn't get that many pictures this year while there.  I chilled an awful lot and knit.  I didn't have my camera beside me as much as I should I have.  We had cousins there and everything and I didn't get any new photos of them.  I guess in some ways I was really just worrying about the essentials.  Sometimes that is what I need to do.





I wondered what Amber was thinking about down on that dock.  I hope it wasn't anything too deep.  I hope she was just marveling in the calm over the water that day.


I didn't get any photos of Shelby outside.  I was slacking for sure this year.  I made sure she had breakfast in bed each morning.  I did this to make her time away special.  She enjoyed it.


Bed for her is patio furniture in the front hall.  It is cozy and really the only place the portable lift has room to be maneuvered.  Considering how out of her element visiting away from her predicable surroundings of home can be she does well and is such a trooper.  And she was wearing jammies.  A cool little romper type number I made her with just elastic and no straps.

I also let her sleep in everyday....late!!!  She has to be on a schedule so often that I know she really appreciates the days I don't have to wake her at a certain time.  She enjoyed sitting out on the deck as well.  It is a visit that takes her so far out of her comfort zones.  She has to do things differently and some stuff....like the simple act of bathing turns into a bit of an ordeal but she handles it with grace and humor.

I was happy when it was time to head home.  Grateful for the change in scenery but home is always a nice place to come back to.  I have so many great things to blog about over the next while.  Stuff that I have been sitting on just because I never had a chance to blog about it all before we left for holidays  I always have far too much to say and that takes time that I sometimes don't always have.  So if you are okay with old news then stay tuned!!  I look forward to sharing more slices of my life and I thank you for popping into this space I adore so much and spending time with me.  Cheers to you!



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

rekindling an old love

There is this wonderful pottery studio/shop with cappuccino in the sweet little town of Dorset. You can have a look at the website for the studio here.  And for all you instagrammers the owner has some fantastic photos on her instagram account.  Oh my.  Love her stuff!!!!

We stumbled across her shop last year and I bought a beautiful tea cup and saucer.  There is a photo of it at the end of this post.  I use them so often. They would be the equivalent to Gollum's precious.  Envision me hunched over them rubbing them cooing my precious over and over.....okay...well not really but you get the idea.  I really adore them.

I was so excited to know that this year while away we would probably have the opportunity to pop into her lovely space again.  It is just an amazing shop.  The outside is beautiful, rustic, vintage looking and welcoming.  It is inspiring too.  For me it just makes me want to create.  What would be amazing is to one year take one of her workshops.  This sort of space inspires the creative blood that runs through my veins and my head fills with ideas and thoughts of projects I want to tackle.  It is just an all around terrific space with a whole lot of positive vibes going on!  





The inside is just as lovely.  It has just all the right things going on.  Amazing eye candy hands down.




I bought some of that lovely eye candy.  These amazing earrings.  I have got out of the habit of cool, funky one of a kind types of earrings.  I use to own so many great earrings and over the years I have lost them, broke the odd one and have had my tastes change and before I knew it I was rarely wearing anything other then my black diamond studs John bought me one year...which are beautiful don't get me wrong....I wear them in my second piercing and usually nothing in my bottom one.  So I just saw these and felt such an huge urge to rekindle my love for earrings.  So they were bought and have been wore quite a few times.  


Porscha bought this beautiful necklace.  She has wore it quite a bit and even let me borrow it!


I bought this sweet little heart that I ended up using when I wrapped up some cookies for a friend.  A pile of these would be nice to have on hand just for batches of cookies for friends.



I also snagged this adorable serving cup.  With homemade pancakes it was christened.  It delivered the syrup!!!


I would love to be able to have a whole set of her dishes.  Maybe one day.  Each piece she makes is truly amazing.  I can not wait till my next visit there.

While we were in Algonquin we paid a visited to the Art Gallery.  They have so many wonderful paintings on display and a great gift shop were a good portion of the stuff being sold is handmade.



These earrings caught my eye.  The price was fantastic and so I bought them.  The trees are actual pictures place within the acrylic. You can see some other creations by the artist at her website.  She is located in British Columbia.

I love when you stumble across finds like these.  Unique, beautiful and handmade.  Such a perfect combination!!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

dorset scenic lookout tower

The day we headed into Dorset, our first order of business was to climb The Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower. Now years and years ago when Amber was a baby we came in for a visit but I never climbed it because I stayed with Shelby and Amber which was fine with me.  It is sort of high.  The original tower was built in 1922 and was 82 feet tall.  This one that replaced it was built in 1967 and is 100 feet tall.

The warning says:

Caution 
Persons climbing this 
tower do so at their 
own risk.  Children 
must be accompanied 
by an adult.


Okay so at this point both Porscha and I are not feeling the tower love.  John and Amber had already started up.  We slowly made our way up after them.  Porscha up ahead of me.  She was whining.  I was too.  We did not want to be on this thing but we had a point to prove...that we could totally do it!  I actually began to feel sick to my stomach around this point.


The view at the top was breath taking.




The down...not so breath taking.


Going down was a little harder.  Porscha had to sit a few times.  It was very freaky.



Of course my daredevil Amber literally ran up and down it.  She thought is was funny that Porscha and I were so slow.

This was more my speed.



Trying to get a nice picture and he sticks out his tongue.


Better shot here.


However the best shot was the "Ellen" inspired selfie Porscha took of us.  Absolutely perfect!!!


So the thing that I love that I have not been able to do over the years often is just stopping along the way. We have not really had the opportunity to do the whole stop along the way thing.  Well after the tower we were hungry and we stop at this fantastic little pizza place along the way.  Pizza on Earth.


Porscha and Amber are pointing to the far off distance...you can see the tower up on that ridge way in the background.....and actually if you scroll back to the pictures at the top of the tower you can see this road we are on.

There was this amazing little communal garden.  Go figure...that quaint little town of Dorset has a communal garden. 






There was a cute little patio to eat at but John had other plans.


The wood stove our pizza was in.




Waiting for the pizza.


I was so happy at this exact moment.  I just was having the best day ever.


Amber and Max off exploring the roadside and stretching legs.


Oh my.  Pizza on Earth indeed.


John took us down the road to a little picnic area.   The girls reminisced about the whole lock thing.  They said it reminded them of that....the whole eating by the water.


Miss Amber photo bombing again.


Don't blink Max....you might miss a treat!!!


Our view.....just so beautiful.  The pizza was amazing.


Max is up for anything anytime especially if it is a road trip that involves pizza by the water!!!