I’ve been seeing a post that praises the customer service at US online retailer Zulily on my Facebook page. Their customer service sounds amazing. But I hate for people to think that it’s out of this world. I’ve encountered 5 brands with stand-out customer service over the past 6 months or so, and I’d love to spread some love to all of them.
Just over 3 short years ago, our second child was born. She was born small having suffered in-utero growth restriction and the first of many diagnoses she would receive was “Failure to Thrive”.
She wasn’t getting enough nutrition and wasn’t growing as she should. It was heartbreaking. From there, she was developmentally delayed, had hypotonia, was socially delayed, tongue tied, had mild pulmonary aortic stenosis, was found to be missing 28 genes on chromosome 7 consistent with a diagnosis of Williams Syndrome. She had high calcium, poor mouth control, vision issues, hearing issues, digestive issues, sleep issues, suspected neuro issues (never confirmed), more feeding issues, ear issues, gross motor delay, sensory issues, repetitive behaviours, speech delay and so on. It’s a lot.
Despite her Williams Syndrome, many of these challenges are resolving, most importantly her cardiac issues, and of course, she no longer has failure to thrive. In fact, she’s a wonderful little girl who steals hearts and sings with gusto.
It’s me that’s not thriving.
When I entered the NICU three years ago, I clicked into survival mode. I did everything I needed to do. I learned everything. I met with everyone and I faced every challenge with my eye on the prize. To ensure she will reach her full potential. To do this, I had no choice but to put some things on hold. But now…
But now I’m pretty sure “survival mode” isn’t something anyone can survive forever.
So this year I hope to open the door to some of the things that I left behind the day the small one was born.
Don’t worry, I’m realistic. Ensuring Alma reaches her full potential is no less important today than yesterday. And I know that you can’t actually “make time” or “find time”. There are only so many hours in a day. Still, the rest of us need to reach our full potential too.
So here are my personal hopes for 2016:
I want to read a book.
I want to spend time extra time exploring the wonder of the world with my boy.
I want to knit something. Sew something.
I want to go one place I’ve never been. Maybe it’s a corner of the city. Maybe it’s a country. Just somewhere.
I want to eat food that makes me feel well, and strong and that tastes really good. I hope to have seconds, maybe thirds.
I want to experience one of those amazing moments that you couldn’t describe, no matter how hard you try.
I want to do one thing that’s daring, one thing that’s scary and one thing that I probably shouldn’t.
I want to raise a little hell.
I want to get better at something.
I want to laugh till I snort.
I want to feel my body moving and my heart pumping and my mood lifting.
I want to get to know some people better. Sit down, make I contact and talk about them for a change.
I want to breathe. I want to see something that takes my breathe away.
Life is short so this year, I want to do more living.
I want to stop surviving and start thriving.
If you know me at all, you know that I am currently hounding people for silent auction donations and silent auction bids. I am a pain in the ASS. But I’m also committed to raising awareness for little Obi and that commitment requires funds. In this particular case, funds to help cover some of the costs for a 1-day educational day at Sick Kids in Toronto for WS families. A noble effort and a huge ton of work… but I see it like this: When you’re new to the neighbourhood – or in this case, a rare genetic syndrome – you’re not gonna meet people sitting in your house. You gotta throw an open house, invite them over and make some new friends. Or in this case, plan a work shop, raise a bunch of money, invite all the other people walking in your shoes and (hopefully) make some new friends.
I know, great idea right? But where is all this money going to come from? Enter “the village.” All the folks who are happy to step right up and help me raise my child. Not in a ‘change some diapers’ way, but in a “help me change the world” way.
People have been saying over and over again how amazing this is. I see myself as a Mum, perhaps a pretty proud of herself mum, doin’ what I gotta do for my little. But the rest of you…you’re not biologically programmed to help little Obi no matter what. And yet, you’ve stepped UP. Local stores where we shop regularly and businesses we interact with on a daily basis, big companies I have some kind of connection to (the whole 6 degrees thing), and random places I emailed out of the blue have been so very generous, and more than that, so gracious.
People have told me they are interested in her unique story, they are ‘taken’ by the video I shared with a number of kids, I’ve touched their hearts and it’s stories like ours that give them purpose. Wow, that is a whole lot of nice things to say. People I know have reached out to their contacts, pulled in favours, pulled strings, and donated out of their own pockets.
They have just helped. And of course I am grateful for the donations, but more than that, I’m grateful that this process is introducing me to a world that is embracing Obi. People are taking the time to ask questions, do research and learn more about Williams Syndrome. I could never have imagined the response I’m getting and it makes me feel good, deep in my Mom heart. I love that little chicken, and I want her to be able to find her way. But I almost feel that with so many people lighting the path, everything is going to be ok.
That is, above all, what I am most thankful for. Thank you to the village that is not just helping my child, but helping me in the process.
There are now too many sponsors to mention – some of which haven’t even been added yet. So if you want to see who all the great people and brands who are participating in Obi’s silent auction, head over here.
Maybe you’ll even find something that makes you smile.
The Mommydo post hiatus you recently experienced brought to you by a stomach bug which crashed our long weekend by taking down the kids one after another then lying in wait 4 days before knocking me out for almost 4 more.
Conveniently, said bug left me a whole 8.5 lbs lighter which is perfect timing for the fundraising gala husband and I have been invited to.
Normally I would be shaking in my boots about finding something to wear to said “Black Tie Optional” function. Husband and I haven’t been out to anything I’ve had to dress up for since I was pregs with the boy in 2009. And I have ZERO clothes that fit the season. My few dresses are either super summery, were worn as I gleefully marched friends down the aisle or, well, I have my own wedding dress…
Thankfully, no one will be forced to see me in any of those, as I tagged my trusty friends at Girl Friday in a facebook post today and they promptly responded on their wall with some of the options they have in store! Amazeballs.
Like this little number from fever London…
And this little number from Darling UK…
I have no idea what I’ll wear on my feet – my bad back rules heels out, but pretty pumped to go and get a new frock for the festivities. And lets be honest, the fact that I’m going out to some festivities is, in it’s self pretty exciting. I’ll let you know what I pick
Don’t you love having a go to place?
I totally got personally styled and it was Ah-mazing.
Wah? You heard right. I’m starting a work contract that happens in an actual office. In case you didn’t know, I’ve been working from home for 2 years – the first year I did a few contracts but also managed clients on my own and last year, on ‘mat leave’ I continued to work on my clients when projects came up.
It was a very short lead time for this gig but I realized I needed to get out of the house and gain some perspective (staring at the baby wasn’t helping her or me). I also LOVE what I do, and given the chance to do it on a larger scale in an office for a bit is healthy for me, (our household finances) and for the kids – I believe a happy Mommy is a better Mommy. (And I know that happy comes in all forms – stay at home, work at home, work in the world.) I need a little more world right now.
So I said yes to the contract but then quickly realized I haven’t been shopping for spring clothes (unless you count capri yoga pants and t-shirts) for a great number of years. Trying to get pregnant-pregnant-mat leave-pregnant-pregnant-mat leave. Now. Styles have changed and I’ve changed. My taste. My body. Crap.
So I made the best decision I’ve made in a LOOONG time. I heard from a friend about an experience she had with a personal stylist and it sounded AMAZING. Then, it turned out – I knew the stylist! I got in touch with this wonderful designer, stylist and boutique owner, and we spent a couple of hours together at her store on Saturday.
Rebecca Nixon, designer and Owner of Girl Friday in Toronto and I messaged back and forth a little bit about what I was looking for (clothes for working in a creative environment), what size I am, what kind of things I like and my budget. I was already planning to head to the store to get a ‘first day with the grownups’ outfit – it’s one of my favourite shops in Toronto.
But she was free and we agreed we could start ‘the big shop’ there. Rebecca mentioned that they also offer a ‘Closet Cleanup’ service (which the friend I mentioned above loved) where their stylist comes to your home, goes through your clothes and helps you find the clothes in your wardrobe that are working well on you, breathe new life into things you thought were maybe out of style by suggesting new ways to wear your existing pieces. And, shows a little tough love to the things you really need to say goodbye to. They will even bring those clothes to donate so you aren’t tempted to rummage through later. Given that I don’t really have any suitable clothes, I figured I’d just get new and save what’s lumped in my closet now for when I’m back to working at home. The shopping takes place at their boutique and at the mall if necessary.
We made plans to meet at the store. I got myself ‘shop ready’ because I wanted to feel amazing as I ventured into a dressing room. No idea how long it had been… I wore good undies, a supportive b.ra, a white tank so I’d know what things would look like with a little coverage under and I brought flats just in case.
Then all the wonderfulness began. Rebecca pulled tons of stuff for me to try on – in my comfort zone, on the edge and out of my comfort zone. I brought an open mind and tried on everything she pulled for me. Some things just weren’t me, others I would never have picked and totally loved and the rest was exactly me.
She showed me how to mix and match the pieces to get lots of wear from winter into spring and made outfits I would never have thought of. The best part was she made me look very stylish and still look like me. The clothes are age appropriate, flattering, interesting and really wearable.
I was amazed that I could get fashion (not just clothes) for about the same as I would spend for regular priced items at the mall. And I feel so FANCY.
You’re asking yourself “where are the damned clothes?”
In total, I got 8 tops, 3 bottoms and 2 necklaces. Including tax we were $23 over my $1000 budget. In the end there were more pieces I liked that I didn’t choose due to budget and time of year. They will work better in warmer months and can be part of my ‘oh crap, I also don’t have summer clothes’ shop later in the year.
I’ll be instagramming outfits all week (forgive me, I’m new) so if you want to follow, checkout mommydoCA.
Girl Friday has more than one stylist on staff, they have great taste, they are so friendly and def not ‘judgy’ (as I sometimes worry people who dress better than me might be) and the whole thing was FUN. If you’re interested, call the store at (416) 364-2511, check out their blog or visit them online or on Facebook to learn more.
Not surprisingly, I’m a worse clothing photographer than I am food photographer, so I’m pulling photos from the internet. Tried where ever possible to pull photos from Girl Friday. Some are from second clothing (that’s the yoga jeans people). For the rest, I apologize random internet photos. If you see a pic you didn’t get credit for, please let me know and I’ll amend.
UPDATE: Here’s day 2: Shirt By Everly, Second Yoga Jeans (With an Elastic Waist!!!), I’ll have to check the credit for the necklace.
Day 3 Outfit: John & Jenn Sweater, Dish Jeans
That’s what happened to me last week. Just wanted to eat simple homemade cookies.
So, I grabbed my go-to recipe that I’ve been making since I first learned how to make cookies (which isn’t hard ’cause I use the one on the back of the Chippits bag).
Then I baked them. Then we ate them. Now I’m craving more classic chocolate chip cookies. Sigh.
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Have you given thought to the change in how the people see ability? When I was growing up, people who had differences, physical and developmental were kept away. They went through school in different classes. They weren’t playing sports at the same venues or in the same dance classes I took. Every one who was with me was like me, and everyone who was not like me was somewhere else. This magnified the all the ways we were different.
When I learned about Obi’s condition and every day since I’ve fretted about all the ways she’ll be different. From her peers. From her brother. From us. All they ways we won’t really be able to understand what she’s going though. All the ways other people will see how she is not the same.
This week I had an epiphany. It was Facebook’s doing. You know how everyone is sharing those Facebook Anniversary movies. Well, watching mine I had the first real moment of realizing how much Obi looks like her brother. Not just in features, but expressions as well.
I’ve spent months and months noting how much she looks like a ‘Williams’ kid. I was so blinded by this ‘difference’ caused by the deletion of 28 genes on chromosome 7, that I was completely blinded by what was happening on the other 22 chromosomes.
Despite the people at genetics telling me over and over that she is more than the diagnosis, despite loving her absolutely in spite of her diagnosis, I have been completely and utterly guilty of allowing it to overshadow other parts of her.
As soon as the light bulb went off, I was reminded of the time after my dad died.
I had this long stretch in which I could only remember him in that moment. My whole experience of him was whittled down to that brief fleck of time that was his death. At some point, (quite some time later), the shadow that had fallen over the rest of my memories of the time we had spent together lifted, and I was able to see that instant as such a small part him and me. Just a blink. Although his death was so present, so looming, I realized I needed to remember all the days he lived to put the one day he died into perspective. After I did that, joy started to seep back into my life.
Once again, I can now clearly see the magnitude of the shadow that has fallen. It’s been a f$#%ing hard year.
Those differences – they take up a lot of time. Appointments, therapies, exercises, explaining her delays, little pity parties – all about the different.
But sweet Obi looks a lot like her brother. She lights up when she sees him the same way he lights up when he sees me. She likes to ‘dance’ with this crazy wiggle then stop and wait for you to do the same. She has my hands. She has so much in common with her dad, her brother and me. We’re more alike than we are different.
I’m gonna make an effort to me more present for those – the alikes. I need to. And more importantly, I think she needs me to.
Do you plan your meals for the week? There was a time when I shopped almost daily, made what I felt like, ate out on a whim and watched groceries wither and die in the fridge.
Nowadays, I find having one less thing to worry about each day is really worth the time spent on Sundays making a plan for the week and shopping all at once. It very much helps to ensure have healthy, hot food on the table each night.
I generally plan for each meal to last two nights – either as the same meal or using the same base – so I’m only doing a ‘full cook’ every second night.
Like this delicious soup I made tonight. Mommydo’s Made Up Hamburger Tortellini Soup.
It was delicious and easy. Take a look down below to see how to make some of your own.
We’ll have more tomorrow. Then Tuesday, I’m planning to make Chicken Tacos using this recipe except I’m gonna use boneless chicken breasts. Thursday, I’m making this shepherd’s pie. Saturday, I’m gunning for takeout!
The next step in my meal planning for me is to post the list and make the recipes available for my DH who claims he would cook more if he knew what to make and how to make it. I’m doubtful, but hey, it’s worth a shot.
What’s on the menu at your house this week?
RECIPE: Mommydo’s Made Up Hamburger Tortellini Soup.
Tortellini (I use beef because of the lactose intolerant thing, but cheese would be delicious)
Brown the meat with about 1/2 an onion. Put it in the pot with a large can of diced tomatoes, a small tin of tomato paste, about 3 cups of beef broth, 1 chopped celery stalk and 1 chopped carrot. Include about 1/4 teaspoon of all the dried herbs and spices listed.
Simmer for about an hour. Add extra water as needed to ensure it stays soupy and not like spagetti sauce.
Toss in a couple of handfuls of Tortellini (I used the ‘fresh’ kind)
Increase the heat so the soup is boiling gently and cook until the Tortellini is nice and soft.
Is delicious served with parmesan cheese on top.
I have a confession to make. I seem to have a large foot stuffed in my mouth over and over again. I keep saying the wrong thing -particularly to one parent who has an older boy with significant physical disabilities and a second, a typical child Obi’s age. See, even that, is that the right way to say that?
The most recent foot-in-mouth incident arose when I was piping up in a conversation between said woman, another woman with a boy about Obi’s age who has similar developmental delays and myself.
The woman with the boy close to Obi’s age was asking the other about making the decision to have a second child when the first one has special needs. My addition to the conversation was that you’re making the decision knowing what lies ahead and what it means for your family. I found that when I had one typical child already then learned that Obi had special needs, I worried for the first. How would this change his life? What does it mean for him? We knew that we were pushing pretty hard to have #2 – (you can read all about that here) I wondered if we should have…
Now woman with older special needs boy and typical girl said “well it will only make him a better person” and walked away.
Hmmm. Didn’t mean for that to happen. Also didn’t mean to say that he wouldn’t be better for the experience of having Obi. Just meant to say that you have all the same doubts and feelings of guilt whether you plan to have a second after you have an extraordinary child or you find out that your family has grown by one and it’s taken you in an unexpected direction.
Just meant to say that when you’re in the throws of the ‘poor me’s’ a lot of things go through your head. For me, I wondered if it was my fault? (It wasn’t). If I had just been happy with one child would we have been better off? (We wouldn’t have.) Will Big Brother resent us and his sister later? (Perhaps, but if she was an Olympic Gymnast, one of those crazy med-school-at-15 kids, a kid who’s allergies keep peanut butter out of the house, outgoing while he’s shy…he might resent us/her too. Siblings resent all kinds of things.) If we, our family, our marriage, if I would survive this. (Well I will, our family likely will and our marriage? Well the statistics say no but I’m choosing to remain optimistic)
I was trying to say, there’s no right answer. You just have to do what feels right for you.
Instead she walked away and appeared appalled that I could ever thing my sweet baby was ‘less than’ and by association her boy was ‘less than’. (maybe I’m reading too much into that. maybe her baby girl, who wandered off, needed her).
Regardless, the moral of the story is We, us parents of special needs kids, we get it wrong too. When you’re talking about a child with an unfamiliar diagnosis we ask stupid questions we regret later. When we’re in a group with a child that exhibits behaviour that’s different or unexpected, we look ‘too’ long.
But we still ask. We still look rather than looking away. And that’s what we want you to do. Sure, you may stuff your foot in your mouth time to time. Been there. Done that! But please, ask questions. Make positive comments. Choose to learn rather than look away. When I say things that come out all wrong, I hope the parent knows I have the best intentions even if I don’t have the best expression of them. Just as I know you have the best intentions too.
If we get it wrong, you’re bound to get it wrong sometimes too. We’re all human. All just doin’ the best we can. So I urge you to keep trying to connect – foot be damned. It’s the only way any of us is ever gonna get it right.
PS: Mom at group, I’m sorry if I made you feel bad. It was certainly not my intention and I think my words just didn’t accurately express the emotion I was describing. People say stupid and inappropriate things to me all the time. But as long as they are trying to get it right, I keep listening. I hope you can understand this apology though my foot.
Have a few things hanging around after your holiday baking? Chocolate wafers? Maybe a few sprinkles? Some Skor bits, mini chocolate toppings? Nuts?
No need to let them go to waste! These dipped Mommydo Holiday Hang Over Pretzel Sticks are a fabulous way to use up some of the odds and ends left over from the holiday baking frenzy.
They take practically no time. And, your friends and co-workers have had just about enough of their New Years resolutions at this point and will be only too happy to take a few off your hands.
Mommydo’s Holiday Hang Overs Dipped Pretzels
Chocolate melting wafers, chocolate chips or baking chocolate
White chocolate candy coating or bakers chocolate
Whatever little bits you have hanging around that you can use for toppings.
Prepare a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.
Melt chocolate in the micro at 30sec intervals, stirring between until all the chocolate is melted.
Dip 3/4 of the stick into the chocolate and slowly spin the stick to allow as much chocolate as possible to adhere to the stick.
Place the stick on the parchment.
If you are adding a second kind of chocolate, now’s the time to melt that.
To drizzle the chocolate, use a fork. Gently swing the fork back and forth over the area you want to cover.
I did 2 or three sticks then topped them with extra chocolate and toppings. Then dipped two or three more and topped those.
Be sure to place them about an inch or more apart on the parchment as the chocolate will spread.
You might want to put then into the fridge to allow them to harden.
You can do nuts, but as I was feeding these to the boy, I kept them nut free.
Store in an airtight container to keep the pretzels fresh.