Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book a Spring Mini-Session with Anna Epp Photography

Anna Epp Photography, one of A Crafty Mom's sponsors, is hosting a Spring Mini-Session day on May 15th, 2010. This is a wonderful opportunity to get your family portraits done at a discount of 50% of her regular session fees in addition to 25% off your print purchase. The Mini-Sessions will be held at Andrew Hayden Park, with the opportunity to have the lovely park and the Ottawa River as your backdrop.

Head over to her blog for more information or contact Anna to book your session time. Don't delay, as there are only a limited number of spots and they are filling up fast!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Tribute to CHEO

I've been putting off writing this post for some time now.

A week, to be exact.

I'm not sure what's made it seem so difficult, but I just couldn't gather the energy to put together my thoughts and get them all out.

Some of you who follow me on Twitter will know that I spent much of last week at CHEO (the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario) with a very sick Thing 1. It was an experience that truly touched me, and left its mark on me. Often certain events and circumstances in our lives affect us in ways that we are not expecting - surprising us and taking us aback in an unprecedented manner - and we are left at the event's conclusion searching for answers to a plethora of questions.

On Easter weekend Thing 1 seemed a little "under the weather". He had no clear or strong symptoms, but he was extremely lethargic (so entirely unlike him, if you know him at all), run down, and not eating. Here and there he had a low grade fever, but in general I felt like the situation was not dire. His general malaise stuck with him for the next ten days, until finally we noticed a slight bit of redness near his left eye. Over the course of roughly 48 hours, the eye area became more red, swollen, and eventually painful to touch. He complained of light sensitivity. I marched him in to our family doctor immediately.

He was incredibly miserable by the time we arrived at our doctor's office. As a matter of fact, I carried him from the van up to her fifth floor office. When he failed to read his eye test perfectly in the infected eye, our doctor directed us straight to CHEO. She handed us a letter that would supposedly gain us quick entrance and short wait time.

Time is relative at a children's hospital.

Although we were immediately classified as "priority" at the Emergency Room, that didn't seem to solidify our one-way ticket to meet with one of the white-coated docs. After many hours, we did see a first year medical student, who suggested Thing 1 looked "fine" and felt that we would be okay to go home. His supervisor (thankfully an actual medical doctor) diagnosed him with orbital cellulitis. X-ray results showed that he did have sinusitis and an assortment of infected tissue around his eye. The poor kid's white blood cell counts were through the roof, and thus he was admitted immediately and given intravenous antibiotics and fluids (he was slightly dehydrated).

We were in the hospital for four days, and he was released a week ago today. He reacted well to the antibiotics, and the swelling started to improve within 24 hours. Extensive tests with ophthalmology showed no damage to his eye, the eye tissue, or any problems with his vision or optical mobility. We saw flocks of wonderful, dedicated, and talented young doctors who treated both my son and I with compassion, respect, and patience. And the nurses? Really deserve their own post. The nurses at CHEO are special, fantastic, and unique people. They took superb care of us - and I mean both Thing 1 and I.

I was unaware preceding this visit that parents are allowed to stay with their sick children 24/7. It was possible for me to never leave his side. A large chair beside each bed folds down into a cot for sleeping, meals are delivered to the rooms for parents at a fraction of the cost you would pay for decent food anywhere else, and there are showers and other amenities to make moms and dads alike comfortable. The nurses carefully explained every detail of what there were doing to both he and I - they were gentle, caring, patient, loving - and provided answers to every single one of our questions.

There are volunteers and staff on hand to entertain the children and provide activities for them. After chatting with Thing 1 for several minutes, a staff member returned with a box full of markers, stickers, glue, and paper, play-doh and cutting tools, books, and a Scooby-Doo movie and DVD player. These workers are clearly bringing their A game to work for every single shift. The thanks I'd like to extend to them is broad.

So Thing 1 got better. He was released. We came home. We are thankful. We are blessed. And so the story supposedly ends.

Except it doesn't.

One common theme from every conversation I have had with parents who have stayed at CHEO with a sick child is how difficult it is to recover from the "other" sick children.

The teeny tiny sick babies. Full of tubes, on intravenous, attached to machines to keep them alive. The children injured from car accidents or other horrifying events, in pain, disfigured, burned. The cancer patients. Children who have spent much of their short little lives inside the confining walls of this special little haven for small people. Some who will never leave.

I expected last weekend to be joyous. We celebrated Thing 1's return home from CHEO with a special dinner of his choosing. Things 2 and 3 were flabbergasted with excitement at seeing their older brother again. Yet for days I found it difficult to focus. I forced myself to smile on the outside and not show my healthy, vibrant children the darkness and pain I felt on the inside.

A week later I am still recovering. The best I can come up with is to find some way to give back to CHEO. Maybe I will make a donation. Perhaps I will volunteer my own time. I'd like to make some crafts and send them in. In the meantime, I'm overflowing with love for my children, and am thankful for their health and well-being.

I refuse to take it for granted.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Family Makes the World Go Round

When I was in my late teens, I moved from a small fishing village in Nova Scotia to the big, bustling city of Ottawa, the capital of Canada. I left home to go to Carleton University to follow my dream of becoming a journalist. (Yeah, and now I am a teacher, go figure.)

As I approached my graduation from Carleton, I met a boy who had grown up and still lived in Ottawa. We ended up getting married and the fact that we both found steady employment in the nation's capital seemed like a good reason for us to stay here.

Years later, I still find it hard to be so far away from my family. I can't see my relatives any time I like, I can't pop over for a coffee and chat, and I can't even hit them up for free babysitting. This means that the time we do spend together is appreciated that much more.

I was fortunate enough to have a visit last week from my sister, her husband, and their two bubbly and remarkably gorgeous children. All together their ages are 1 (although nearly two), 2, 3, 4 and 6. We had a fantastic visit and it was nice to see my sister and brother-in-law and hang out. The kids love playing together so much, we always wish their time together was longer.

Thing 3 with her older cousin. The two gals in the group.

Makin' pizza the old fashion way . . . from scratch. Was enjoyed by one and all.

And to finish the meal, my nephew polishing off an ice cream sundae we made.

After eating it's time to get washed up. Hmmmm. . .Thing 3 is noticeably paler than the others.

What says "cute" more than five cousins cuddled up in their PJs?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Honest Scrap Award

The lovely Lisa from the newly re-named "Forever In Mom Genes" awarded me the Honest Scrap Award. I should be upfront and come clean about the fact that I am horrible about gracefully accepting awards and participating in memes. Usually I nod and smile and then forget to post them and never pass them on to anyone else. I felt it was time I broke that bad habit.

You can read Lisa's blog at or find her blogging for the Yummy Mummy Club here. She is intelligent, witty, funny, and most importantly, honest and real. Hard to ask for better qualities than that, isn't it?

The Honest Scrap Award Rules say that I must:

1. Brag about the award.
2. Include the name of the blogger who gave you the award and link back to that blogger.
3. Choose a selection of blogs that you find brilliant in honest content.
4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with this award.
5. List at least ten honest things about yourself.

Hmmm, ten honest things about me?

1. I am related to Anne Murray.
2. I can touch my nose with my tongue.
3. I lie about my age all the time.
4. My dog Rudy is named after the football movie. If he had been a girl, however, he would have been Ruby.
5. I played touch football for a long time.
6. I went to a Green Day concert nine months pregnant. It was awesome.
7. I saw the Watchmen last concert when I was seven months pregnant.
8. I gave birth to all three of my children at home. They were the best experiences of my life.
9. I have caught my daughter eating dog food and stopped to go get my camera to take a picture before I took the dog food out of her mouth. It is ridiculously expensive, organic dog food - how bad can it be?
10. If it kills me, I am going to have a book published before I die.

And to continue on in the Honest Scrap tradition, I would like to pass this prestigious award onto the following bloggers:

Beach Mama from Life is Good at the Beach
Capital Mom from Capital Mom
Lynn from Diary of a TurtleHead
Julie from Thoughts of a Smother Mother

Monday, April 05, 2010

Well Worth Waiting For

In anticipation of my graduation from six years of carrying a diaper bag to, well, not carrying one anymore, I decided to splurge on a new bag. I finally established that for my birthday in February I would get the PERFECT bag.

You know the one I mean. Your favourite bag. The "go-to bag". The one you grab first, the one that makes you feel . . . whole again. And it holds everything and anything. It seems to fit exactly what you need, nothing more, and nothing less. I searched for months and months before I found the one I was looking for.

The bag needed to be big enough to stick a sippy cup or stuffed animal in, yet small enough that I could comfortably carry it anywhere. It needed to be fashionable (read: not ugly) yet not high fashion (because I am simply not that kind of girl).

The deal breaker? I hoped it could double as a shoulder bag *and* a backpack. But not a hideous one. I have a big MEC backpack that I carry with me on major outings, day trips, and hikes. The bag I was looking for would be for daily use, running around with the three Things, stopping for the afternoon at the museum, shlepping down the street and around the block. I yearned for the ability to quickly transform my bag into a backpack so that I could have my hands free immediately if the need arose.

And it arises. Frequently. If you have one, or two, or three Things you know exactly what I am talking about.

One afternoon in early February I finally found my dream bag on etsy. The crafter from whom I bought it is MimsMaine and her custom bags are absolutely phenomenal. I had no idea how much I would love this bag until I received it in the mail last week (each bag is custom made, so you need to allow 4-6 weeks for delivery). The detail and workmanship is beyond anything you would see on a runway in Paris - it is stunning and superb. And, no, I am not being compensated in any way for this post, I am legitimately just writing it because I am obsessively in love with this bag.

It is simple and easy to transform into a backpack, it literally takes about 15 seconds, and, voila, your hands are free.
I absolutely adored this patterned fabric, but she has dozens and dozens from which to choose.

I think this was the perfect graduation present . . . don't you?

Do you have the perfect bag? What do you love about it? Or are you still searching for the elusive "perfect bag"?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Holiday Weekend

We had an absolutely beautiful Easter weekend here in Ottawa. Temperatures reaching the upper 20s in the first few days of April. Sunscreen being deployed. Sunhats donned. Smiles and joy on the docket as the hustle and bustle of regular life took a back seat to just chilling out and enjoying each others company.

I find I have so little stress and anxiety on long holiday weekends, it makes me think that perhaps we should lobby to have a few more thrown in annually for good measure.

Since a couple of us were slightly under the weather this weekend, we decided to opt out of some of our bigger plans of heading downtown, fighting the line-ups at the Experimental Farm, or hitting one of the capital's national museums and just lay low around the 'hood.

It was the best decision we've made in a long time. Here's a quick glimpse.

If Thing 3 in her Easter dress can't plaster a smile on your face, I doubt anything will.

I plan on showing this photo of Things 1 and 2 together to anyone who gives me the stereotypical "what were you thinking having them 18 months apart?" third degree. And, yes, I get that a lot.

The three Things. United in their solidarity.

The beauty of a little sister who looks up to her oldest brother is unimaginable.

My three Things - filling my heart with a joy I never could have believed possible.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

April Fools

The following is a guest post from a very talented and inspiring blogger. Please read her insightful and very serious reflection on April Fools from years past.

April Fools

I have a deep distrust of April Fools Day. I worry that the joke is always going to be on me.

Maybe it isn't true. Maybe my memory is playing tricks of time on me. Maybe it was the day before or the day after or even the next week. What I remember was that it was April 1st.

April 1st

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror taking my time adjusting my side ponytail like only a girl in grade six can. When I was satisfied I went downstairs and joined my parents and sister at the kitchen table. I think we eating pancakes. It was breakfast. Or maybe brunch. Maybe there wasn't even any food at all.

But the four of us were sitting there. And then the earth titled.

There was crying and yelling and tears and sadness. One of us left. Three remained.

Two years later

My mother, sister and I were heading downtown on the bus. I was sent ahead to by bus tickets from the corner store. Coming out the door, I saw them waiting for me on the other side of the street. The light changed green and I tore across the intersection to meet them.

A car coming from my left decided to keep driving. It ran a red light and into me.

I hit the hood. I rolled up onto the car and then flew fifteen feet in the air, landing on my back. Somehow, most likely the puffy ski jacket I was wearing that day, I manged to walk away. I was fine. Except for some bruises and a broken spirit.

April fools

I am cautious on April 1st. Ready for the worst. Ready for it to be over.

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