Friday, December 31, 2021

All that I learned in 2021, I take with me into tomorrow

In 2021, I learned that...

People we love can be on opposite sides of the fence, and all we can do is pray for their safety.

My friends are braver and more badass than they realize they are. And they inspire me daily.

Letting intuition inform choices can result in an abundance of sweetness and joy. 

When I stop feeling angry and sit with it, I'm mostly afraid things will never go back to before.

But I really don't want before.

I've learned too much to pretend I liked then, better.


I also learned that…

Some people love you so much they check in. And others don't. And you can't take that personally.

Sometimes change is a permanent state. And I have to embrace this reality.

Home is where my heart is. And changing the world starts with loving my kids through every bad mood, hard day and long week.

I prefer to be around people who think less from their ego, and more often from a place of collective well-being and humanity.

Listening means not always having a response right away. And that sitting and holding space is an act of great love.

Considering others' perspectives means that even if you don't agree, you seek to understand.

And this is harder than being right.

Finally, I learned that…

Lived experience informs risk tolerance during a pandemic.

And I don’t need to apologize for that.

I’m allowed to have personal boundaries, and people pleasing interferes with them.

If you find a job you love, not even a pandemic will stop you from enjoying going to work.

My husband is my rock, gives the best hugs and can find a joke suitable for even the worst days.

Dropping secret gifts on people's porches is pretty fun, and sponsoring a family at Christmas can light up the hearts of children who sometimes forget how lucky they are.


And that next year won't be 2020, too.

It will be 2022.

With fresh new eyes, enhanced gratitude and the promise that even the most menacing of storms passes, eventually.

Right now, I have more than enough to find joy.

That much like my very smart and special neighbour recently said, when aboard the boat during a storm, all one can do is hold the steering wheel and marvel at God's creation.

Happy New Year, lovelies.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

His hand in mine

He held my hand.
The finale of my trio of babies.

We walked.
Not too fast, not too slow. 

I mostly listened.
To his stories about life at school. 

I stayed curious.
Asking questions to understand his heart. 

I relished in the gift of time.
Being present with his words as we walked. 

Nothing else to do.
Nothing else on my mind. 

Just my baby.
His hand in mine. 

He let go, more than once.
Worried someone would see him.

But he always came back.
Hand in my hand, smiling broadly.
The classic twinkle in his eyes.
My son, eight years later.

Time has never moved so slowly,
Yet passed so fast,
As it did tonight.

Just my baby.
His hand in mine.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

A mindful moment at the window

There's something about the air, outside.

Opening the windows to let it all in.

It's freeing from the old.


Clearing out the dark spaces.

Vast places,

The thoughts that loomed in the air.


There's some about open windows that makes me lighter.

A lessening of the heaviness that fills a house closed from the world.

It's a new beginning, a welcoming sign of new life.


There's something about the way the breeze shifts my mind.

An opportunity to notice and remove the cobwebs.

Newness to appreciate.


Clearing out the negativity.

Pushing aside,

All that no longer served me.


There's something about the air, outside.

It fills my home with the day's perfection.

A positive energy I cannot replicate.


There's a reason windows should stay open,

They clear that which is not needed.

And remind me that life is all around my home.


So go and open your windows, if you can.

Feel the breeze.



Know that if you want,

A new beginning is behind each breath of air.

Each gust of life.

Your smile can return.

With the simple act of noticing.

The beautiful breeze from your window.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Fifteen things I want you to know about food allergy and celiac life

Food allergy awareness month and celiac awareness month, both in May, are now coming to a close. As many of you know, not only did our entire family move to a gluten free diet, but I also made a big mistake last week that led to a serious anaphylactic reaction. It’s been a very overwhelming four weeks and while I had hoped to share great educational articles and stories this month, I shifted into survival mode and never got it done. It happens, I know. I am trying to provide myself grace and patience as I continue to lead our family’s special diet life.

Many friends and family members alike have said they feel helpless and don’t know how to support our family. It got me to thinking, what would I really love for you to know about food allergy and celiac life? 

It didn't take long to come up with a list:

1.   Never question a child when he or she says they cannot eat something: Ethan, and now his siblings, are superheroes in training, learning how to stay safe and healthy. If they say no, it’s a wonderful moment of self-protection. Instead of questioning them or giving them a guilt trip, consider telling them how proud they should be of themselves.

2.     Teach your kids that inclusivity of allergy or any special diet is just as important as that of other disabilities: While not every country formally lists celiac and allergy as a registered disability, they can be both life threatening and debilitating at times. The best way to support my kids is to teach yours all about their conditions.

3.     When you see someone reading a label, don't get mad. They are doing it for a reason: I’ve heard people I love complain about ‘that person’ at the grocery store, standing in the aisle taking forever to look at products and read boxes, touching many items at a time. Trust me when I say, this is me. And this is how food allergy and celiac parents keep their kids safe. We aren’t trying to get in the way or be annoying, just literally trying to keep our kids safe.

4.     When a parent or caregiver requests more information about a party or gathering - be that food, art supplies, etc - know that they understand the burden this creates:  It’s honestly horrible to have to ask all the time. I know it may be A LOT for some people. But I appreciate you taking the time to do so, and I am full prepared to provide substitutions so my child can participate fully in all activities.

5.     Take the allergy aware training course! It could save a life: It’s free and it’s available for absolutely everyone to take –

6.      If you work in a restaurant or own a small food shop, listen to your guests when they ask questions, and be honest in your responses: People who ask these questions aren't trying to make your life hard. They just want to enjoy a meal safely. And they are probably more stressed about the meal than you are, so you already have something in common.

7.     Substitutions mean the world to food allergy and celiac families: When the school allowed me to provide my son a freezie on ice cream day at school, my son was happy, but embarrassed that he stood out and was ‘different’ than his friends. When my daughter saw a ‘free from top 8 allergens’ product in the school snack bin, available to ALL children, she felt normal and safe and included. Anytime you can include a safe substitution and offer it to the entire group, you’ve provided an inclusive environment for all.

8.     When people ask to read the labels even though you feel it's safe, please let them: Don’t take it personally when a food allergy or celiac family asks to peek. It's hard to trust others, most parents don’t even trust themselves. Sometimes people miss things, and allergens can be disclosed under many names. Have the labels ready and you’ll relieve so much stress.

9.     Consider asking a food allergy or celiac family, ‘what can I do to make you feel safe in our home/at our event?’: This will make them cry. I guarantee it. People who do this are angels in our books and make us feel included and safe.

10. An episode of anaphylaxis is a trauma: Please be patient as a family recovers from the very scary experience of sudden, severe illness. We might not want to talk about it, or overshare. We might be afraid to leave home, not want to try new things, or just seem quiet. It takes time to decompress, please don’t take it personally.

11.  Don't take offense if a food allergy or celiac child doesn't wish to touch the same thing as you: In my experience, my food allergy child is often worried about what you touched before that moment. He is on alert, 24/7. Right or wrong, he’s just trying to stay safe.

12.  Food allergy and celiac families may not wish to eat out: It is really hard, every time. While we don’t want to hurt your feelings, please know we may decline your offer because it’s too overwhelming.

13.  Normalize washing hands before AND after your child eats: This is such an easy way to help keep others safe! What seems like crumbs or greasy fingers to you, scares the pants off food allergy and celiac families. Hand washing goes a very long way in keeping others safe.

14.   Please don't bring snacks to public playgrounds and play centres: How long are you really there? Do you really need more than water for thirst? If so, please have them sit and eat, then wash up before play. Goldfish, trail mix, cookies and yogurt drinks can honestly make a child so, so sick, and if there is nowhere to properly wash hands with soap and water, you may leave residue and crumbs that lead to an ambulance ride for another family.

15.   Finally, sanitizer is not enough to remove allergens from your child’s hands: It’s good, especially during this crazy COVID time, but soap and water (and a long scrub) is the only guaranteed way to remove allergens from hands and face.

If you’ve stuck through this post, I am grateful <3 <3 <3 

I hope you’ve learned something new, and maybe one of these suggestions is something you are willing to implement moving forward. Food allergy and celiac life can be overwhelming for parents, but thanks to our amazing support network we know we can be safe and healthy.

Biggest hugs.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The good still lives here

The good still lives here

Even when the news isn't what we hoped.
When there's more appointments ahead.

Good still lives here.

Even when our bodies are weary, worn and aching for rest.

Good still lives here.

Even when it's hard.
When tears of frustration become a normal part of every day.

Good still lives here.

Even when we are low.
Defeated and frustrated and depleted.

Good still lives here.

Even when the only constant is change.
And nothing surprises us anymore.

Good still lives here.

It's the 'feel better' notes.
The long, steady hugs.
The dance parties we are 'forced' to take part in.
The puppy cuddles.
The sweet messages from friends.
The distanced help from ‘ride or die’ family.

Proof that the good still lives here.

It’s looking in the eyes of your partner and knowing that,
while we ask aloud,
what else could possibly go wrong,
we are grateful because we know it could be worse.

Now is the simultaneous existence of
present moment awareness,
complete exhaustion and anxious thought.

It’s life.

And the good still lives here.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Twelve months of twister

I've had a hard time finding the right words to share, over the last 12 months. What normally flows so naturally from my inner monologue has been somewhat silenced. I can't put my finger on why.

I feel like I’ve been playing an endless game of twister.

I spent the first few months of the pandemic feeling motivated and empowered to sustain positivity in my thoughts and words.

I was scared.
I mean, who wasn't?
It was all so new and outrageous. An actual pandemic? A lockdown? What?

But it was happening whether we liked it or not.

By the summer I was fatigued, but re-energized by the sunshine, slower days and time spent in nature. I read more, laughed more and even though I struggled to make decisions I was relatively calm and confident. The game was getting old, but I was still playing it and encouraging my kids to find fun as the spinner kept spinning away, beyond our control.

Fall came.

I felt 75% normal. I was worried about back to school and term but I felt like we could handle it. It was a relief to see the kids act like kids, again. I had the energy to greet them with a smile and hug away the worst parts of their day.

The continual pivots at work were slowing. Difficult, but manageable.
Twisting and turning, tired but focused.

Then holidays approached.

I meticulously planned ahead. Worried more than I should have about everyone else's feelings and complaints. Felt a new level of exhaustion and began dragging my butt out of bed. Noticed I needed the kids' hugs more than they needed mine.

It wasn’t the same, but we made the absolute most of it.

We celebrated.
Made new memories and found joy.
Rested. Relaxed. Read.

The moment the calendar flipped to 2021, I felt a renewed sense of optimism. I was hopeful for a better year. I felt more positive and ready to face whatever was coming next. I set goals!

That lasted a whopping two weeks.

The second lockdown drained my last reserves, and those of my kids. The game’s been going on too long. Too many twists, too many turns, too many things out of our control.

We are weary. Deflated.
Hypersensitive actually.

Each family member requests hugs, but are often too tired to give them.
We make ‘big’ plans, then struggle to accomplish them.
We cry a lot. All of us.

The game is not fun anymore.

I am burnt out.
Playing twister for a year.
Every move more exhausting than the last.
Intertwined with my kids' fluctuating emotional waves.
And my own.
The odd giggle and fit of laughter.
Trying so, so hard to keep it fun and positive.

Truth be told, I am absolutely sore, weak and tired of playing.
There's no time for parents to tend to their own needs.

Don't tell me to take care of myself!
(Lord knows I am trying)

I am busy pouring every ounce of myself into the act of holding my kids steady.
Cheering them on.
Holding it allllllll together.

Can we stop yet?

Throw the damn spinner in the garbage.
And don’t ever ask me to play, again.

I did not sign up for 12 months of twister.
No one did.

Yet the arrow keeps on spinning… and we are forced into our next move.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

The five-year finish line

Our sweet, beautiful warrior princess has crossed a finish line we've only dreamed about. Today Brookie is officially cancer-free five glorious years!

She was in agony.
She was so sick.
She fought PTSD post-treatment.
She still fights preverbal trauma related to her journey.
She has a very real phobia of stickers that creates panic, leaves her in tears and interrupts her daily life.
She has a long, deep bravery line covering her tummy.

But she survived.
She is thriving.
She is healthy.
She is beautiful.
She is brave.
She is stronger than she even realizes.

And while she is enduring a new journey of life with celiac disease, she continues to show all of us how life is meant to be lived.

She is so real and authentic.
She deeply loves her family and friends.
She enjoys her hobbies.
She provides herself and others grace.
She embraces creativity and laughter every, single, day.

It is not lost on Jay and I how fortunate we are. We remember the dark days wondering if Brooklyn would honestly live or die. We know many children do not make it to this milestone. We wish we could change that. It hurts our hearts. xo

So we humbly celebrate today with a giant dog on the lawn, Paris decorations in our dining room and gluten-free cupcakes and pizza after school.

We will keep crying, today.
Keep hugging.
All glory to God for our healthy, beautiful baby girl.
Thank you Lord Jesus.

#cancerfree #fiveyears #childhoodcancer #thankGod