To All Little Sisters…

Little Sister

I know life seems dark and overwhelming right now. It seems lonely and like you’re trying so hard with so little results. It’s not fun, I get it. Hang in there.
 
You are in a season. Seasons last only so long and before you know it, the next one is upon you.
 
It’s ok. Take a deep breath.
 
When we fight against the seasons, we will never find a true rhythm and rest in life. That joy and peace that is present in the wrinkles of the wise who have lived through many seasons and embrace them in their fullness.
 
Seasons are not just in the passing of months and days on the calendar. They are in seasons of life. You will have seasons in relationships, in spiritual growth, in your career, in a greater calling, in parenting and in personal growth and maturity. Sometimes, when you are in one season in one part of life, you are also in a different season in another area, sometimes they converge… the point is to embrace them. To  live through each taking the good and the uncomfortable of each, knowing they produce one thing. A Life. YOUR LIFE.
 
So, look around you. What season are you in? Is it dry, is it barren and maybe even cold? Does everything and everyone seem to be buried? Out of reach?
 
 
Welcome to WINTER.
 
What a beautiful season!
 
It’s a much needed one. It is a season of rest, of SLOW, of quiet and separation and preparation. It is a season of peace and calm.
 
Winter is the season for reflection and introspection. It is one where on the outside, not much growth is visible, but underneath the surface, the roots are going deeper and getting stronger.
 
In winter, you can hear better. There is not as much fighting for your attention.
 
In winter, the skies are clearer and the air crisper. Unless there is a storm. There will be storms.
 
The snows and winds, the winter storms come to cover the earth. To blanket her, and provide a means for cleansing in the spring thaw. In winter, the fat is burned. The excess gets used up, or frozen and discarded. This is good. In winter, things die off. These things need to die, to make room for the new growth to come.
 
There is such beauty in the winter season of life. Sometimes it seems like relationships are hard, maybe it’s time to back off and rest for a bit. Everything is harder to do in winter. That’s why animals hibernate or migrate. We could learn from them if we watch them. Sometimes we hit those dry patches, we feel like we’re not learning anything, nothing seems to “catch us”…that’s ok. The ground is hard, impenetrable. The creator is at work in the ground of our hearts. In winter, we reflect back on what we’ve learned in the past “year”, and we plan…knowing the energy and excitement of a new season will come, it always comes. The warmth of the sun will touch our skin again. But then winter will be over.
 
Or perhaps you are in a SPRING.
 
Spring usually comes slowly. If we have truly embraced winter, and loved it. We will see the signs of spring and not grow impatient. They will encourage us. In spring, the thaw comes as slowly the position of the sun changes and the warmth and light extend into longer and longer stretches. The ground opens up. The waters wash away the debris. There is work to be done. Time for reflection and planning has passed. Hopefully, you used your winter well. It’s time to plant, to raise up seedlings, to turn the soil, to open the windows and sweep away the dust.
 
In spring, everyone seems to begin to tentatively venture outdoors again. They open up their lives and hearts again. Spring is dirty. It is wet. Sometimes it is uncertain. We aren’t sure if we need a jacket or a tshirt. So we wear both. We hear lovely birdsongs again. We see green sprouting and flowers bursting through the dirt and patches of snow. Spring is full of new life, rebirth. Ideas abound, hope is high. Love is easy, new life is celebrated and welcomed with great joy. Summer is on its way.
 
SUMMER
 
Oh the days of summer. Summer arrives in glory! The joy of days of fullness. Some harvesting, some playing, long days. Fruitful days. Food is abundant. Summer is noisy, full of song, laughter, shouting and greetings. Getting together with others is easy. Connecting with ideas and being productive is second nature. Celebration is common. Even work is fun.
 
As summer passes, the calendar fills up. The days become so full, they pass quickly, and thus summer seems to be short. It’s no shorter, just busier. Not as busy as fall mind you, but a different kind of busy. Everything is growing, until it isn’t. Then it gets hot. And DRY. Uncomfortably so. Enough to make us look forward to the cool winds of autumn. But not yet. Despite the heat and dryness, there is much work to be done, and the last of the summer fun to be had.
 
AUTUMN
In the midst of the busyness (and often the longing for more summer) people don’t even notice the early changeover of fall. Often, because of regrets in not living well in the preceding seasons…
 
But autumn is MAGNIFICENT! Many times, people lose the full benefits of the fall. It becomes rushed and harried…they lose their joy.  But regardless, it comes and speeds by with the harvesting and the people, everywhere people. Too many to be able to really take care of, but many hands make light work.
 
Thanksgiving. The reasons for a heart full of gratitude and praise are everywhere. There is beauty and abundance everywhere. While harvesting, the preserving and the setting aside the seed for the next spring. 
 
The cleanup, so much clean up. There is anticipation of a joyous celebration at the end of the autumn in the holidays. 
 
The autumn has shorter days though, and the weather and circumstances are always uncertain. It is windy, and the beauty can be blown away quickly. The Harvest rains come, to prepare the earth for the rest of Winter…but by then we are usually already inside, preparing for the celebrations that ease us from one season into another and mark the passing of the circle of time bound in a growing year.
 
Little sister… look up. Behold the season. Behold the passing of time. The ONE who has quietly observed the passing of the times and seasons through the ages, HE is with you. HE holds your days. Your moments in the sun and moments covered in the snow. Your moments caught in the storms. He is HERE. HE is HERE. In your heartbeat, In the breath of heaven that created us, that we use to walk on the earth.  In the still small voice. In the rising and setting of the sun. Calm your heart, still your mind. REST.

 

 
He is HERE. HE IS HERE.
 
 

My Sisters Baby Shower

In my last post I mentioned one of the many things I did in June was host a baby shower for my sister Stephanie. It’s her first baby, it’s a boy, and the shower was a big one 


At one time I fancied being an event planner so when I’m hosting… I like to really throw a party when I do showers, especially for my sisters, but Steph had quite the guest list, it grew from 40 to 60 to over 80 within a few weeks…. and I was also pregnant with my 4th pregnancy myself, so couldn’t afford to overdo it…

So…I suggested a garden “open house” style shower on a Sunday afternoon. People could come and go as they please, no shower games or prizes to organize, and a light menu since it’s not lunch or dinner. Steph is having a boy, and they really love travelling and she likes vintage decor so my bff Jodi and I brainstormed some ideas for a vintage-baby boy-travel theme.

We planned on serving finger foods, desserts and cold drinks (cheaper than feeding over 60 people lunch for sure) – and I begged recruited the rest of the family and some good friends to help with the decorations and food – which they did because between the 2 of us, we have some pretty awesome, amazing, wonderful and irrecplaceable friends.

Thankfully, the weather co-operated with us beautifully, early that morning we started trickling in an setting up. Here’s a few before pics courtesy of our good friend Chantie who also did the favours and a bunch of stuff the day of… she is awesome, and if I ever do decide to go into event planning, I would ask her to join my team
Chantie and I (after I had “cleaned up” and put on a dress)

The Gift Table

Rather than have one time of opening all the gifts, we directed the guests directly to Steph who opened the gifts as they arrived, and then we displayed them on the table. 
This way, the flow of the afternoon kept moving along. 

We stationed one of my other sisters beside her to write down who the gifts
 were from to send thank you’s out later. 
   

The Sign In and Favour Table

The favours were provided by our friend Chantie – “B-shaped cookes in the cellophane) and in the bags were bath bombs in a couple of gorgeous scents. (I used mine at the end of this long day for my aching back – AWESOME!)
We had this book for people to sign and add their advice, etc.
Its also a photo album that Steph can add pics of the shower to later.
Flowers

 

 
Almost all the flowers were pulled either from my garden or “harvested” from the plants growing at my husbands work (with permission of course – Thanks Honey!) Then they were arranged by one of the may helpers who showed up early. We collected a variety of small vases and canning jars, and then I asked for as many bouquets as possible to be made. Steph and her husband Cam also used the opportunity to finish off the barrels on their porch with plants from my hubby’s work too.

The Refreshment Table

On the Menu:  Fresh veggies and dips, crackers with a variety of cheeses, nuts and spreads. my fav. was the brie with maple butter and pecans. Various fruits and sweets.

 

 

  

To me, presentation is everything. We did up fruit skewers so we wouldn’t need to use forks and it was an interesting way to display it. (The fruit was all brought in already chopped and washed by friends)

The Beverage Station
We offered iced coffee, iced tea and 3 variations of lemonade. Originally we were going to use mason jars for the drinks, but a friend brought disposables and we opted for the ease in clean up.
We also served champagne to celebrate thanks to the daddy-to-be.
Many guests commented on this lovely piece for serving the lemonade.
It was borrowed and kept stocked by our good friend Julie.
The Cupcake Station
I am very blessed to have a good friend who runs her own very successful cupcake business. She gave me a great deal on the cupcakes which were enjoyed by all! Thanks Vanessa – check out her site here or her Facebook page here. Tell her where you heard about her too please 

Misc Details 
  
For the vintage travel theme we collected and borrowed globes, 
small luggage pieces, atlases, maps, binoculars and books. 
We also borrowed white vintage table clothes, serving dishes, quilts, and anything else.
These are small pics, but I love the mobile of trains and planes above the food table. The banner was done up by Julie with burlap, twine and fabric. She’s amazing!
she also made this vintage framed chalkboard, just for the shower 
This is the closest to a game we got – no prizes, just something to look at and talk about. 

The Sistas (well 4 out of 5…sorry Jennette)

How We Enjoyed the Day

Guests enjoying the refreshments


  

Guests enjoying the company.
  
 

 

  

Special Thanks to…
Jodi – Invites & Planning                      
Sisters: Food, Set Up, Clean Up, Decor
Chantie – Favours, Set Up, Food, Decor        
Christine: Favour Labels, Set Up
Sarah W: Food, Set Up, Clean Up
Julie: Decor, Food, Set Up, Clean Up
Lisa: Food, Decor   
Laura: Food, Set Up, Clean up 
Christina, Charmaine: Food, Clean Up
Food: Mom, Mom Marconi, Sheri, Laura, 
Charmaine, Christina, Estelle, Amanda, Rebecca W
Cupcakes: Vanessa’s Cupcakery



*A side note here – we decided that the most viable location would in fact be Steph and her husband Cam’s large country property. They have a giant deck and are located beside a vineyard. Lovely natural decor and since it’s their first baby, and Steph has run a cleaning business for several years – their house is ALWAYS clean. So it was not a big hassle for them to physically “host” the event and we didn’t have the funds to rent a hall. Plus we felt it was the least stressful for her as she could take it easy while the rest of us did the work…and all the gifts were easily transported to the new nursery afterwards. So it was most easy on the new parents to be overall.


Another positive note, most everyone on the list RSVP’d, which I was happy about. If you don’t remember my rant on this, click here


Overall, we had a lovely day and Steph and Cam and the soon to arrive baby were very blessed. Thanks again to everyone! This mama is going to relax before coming up with dinner for 4 hungry men before daddy’s ballgame tonight! 


Why I haven’t Posted much in June…

I know this.

Several times this past month, I would sit down to write a post, and nothing, absolutely nothing would come to mind.

Now here we are at the end of this month, and I uploaded the June pics from my camera. I figured out why nothing came to mind….

I was pooped.  Just plain pooped!

There were 250 pics of things we did, from just the month of June. Whew!

Here’s the gist of it…

We finished our first year of home schooling! Yay!
To see more details on what that included, check out my blog at the Heaslip Homestead.

Here’s a pic of the flowers in one of the boxes on my balcony. 
I will post more about our gardens soon.
On Father’s Day, daddy took Lucas to his first MLB game. The Toronto Blue Jays. He was especially excited since they took the go train to get to Toronto. The younger two boys cannot wait until they turn 8 to go to their first game!
 

While they were there, the younger two boys and I celebrated Father’s Day with their grandpa Jim by going to Safari Niagara and getting ice cream at the Dairy Bar. 

 

They were pretty pumped about trying out the bungee-trampoline ride.
 
We were all excited to spend a whole weekend with grandpa to ourselves.

Then  we had a bunch of random outings…


 Here’s a pic of Carter and his best bud at Port Dalhousie.

 We went to a couple BBQ’s at my sisters – where of course we had water balloon fights.

 
We hosted a bonfire for a bunch of friends.
 


mmm, smores!
 

Christy, our student from China had her prom. Jodi took the pics, and then her family stayed for a yummy Paella Dinner and we laughed well into the night!

We went to the Drive In with friends to see Madagascar 3 and Snow White and the Huntsman.



I hosted a giant baby shower with my other sisters for my sister Stephanie. A post all about that will be coming soon too.

 I took the boys to Niagara-on-the-Lake, where they enjoyed the giant fountain.

We watched Nick Wallenda’s historic walk over the falls on TV, it was way too crowded to brave going the 15 minutes up the road. But my BFF Jodi however had a press pass and got these amazing shots!

Then, Christy had her graduation from highschool. We are trying to work up our courage to say goodbye to her after having her live with us for 10 months. Our gift to her was a memory album of our year. She cried. I cried. That was 2 days ago. She leaves tomorrow… I feel waterworks a coming.

 

Add to that:
+ a bunch of swims and visits with friends 
+ a funeral
+ birthday, poker and summer parties
+ a charity event called Raid my Closet
+ Midwives appointments 
+ veterinarian appointments
+ pickups at the Organic Farm
+ fruit picking 
+ home renos
+ hosting a dinner for Christy’s parents visiting from Macau
+ maintaining the homestead


=  ONE TIRED MAMA!!! (no wonder my feet are swollen)


If you don’t see another post for awhile…. now you know why 


Lot’s of love,


Tammara 

Jennette’s post

Maybe dedicating birthday posts was a bit of a reach for me this year, well, just for the month of May I guess, anyways,  Jennette’s post is in the works because Yesterday, the actual birthday, I got a nasty case of morning sickness that essentially put me out of commission for the day. I’m using today to catch up on what didn’t happen yesterday, so hopefully the post will be up within the next few days.  Happy Birthday Jen xoxo!

Andrea

So today’s post is tiny bit overdue. It is dedicated to my younger sister Andrea as it was her birthday last week. We’ll blame it on the fact that I had the flu, then it rip-roared through the house, so though I had intended on posting it last week, I didn’t. So here we go. Happy Birthday little sister!
  

Here’s the sisters before the youngest showed up. In this pic Andrea was the youngest. Her tenure as the baby of the family was very short lived. I was in grade 6 when she was born, So I actually remember quite a bit of her early years first hand. (aside – Yes I have sacrificed my pride with showing this hideous picture of me in a black velvet pin-striped jumpsuit to show you how cute she was – very) She was all dimply, and happy and quiet and the easiest baby….EVER. She would rock herself happily in her playpen to music only she heard, ALL DAY, with her mouth open – not talking, just open. I barely remember her crying, always smiling and always quiet and gentle.

She’s still pretty much like that…
Well, except for the rocking thing, I think.
As she got older, she got sneaky. I think that it was her quiet form of payback to my parents for having my youngest sister just months past her first birthday.  She was very good at being sneaky… and good at lying, and blaming older siblings. 
She has these huge brown eyes that you have to trust, and my parents did. But she was a liar.
Thankfully she grew out of that… I think.
After she adjusted to the presence of the youngest sibling (which didn’t take much), they were fast friends. Becca made up for Andrea’s lack of talking. When she finally did start talking she couldn’t say my name, so she called me Mimi. Dad loved it. It stuck. She also couldn’t say Jenny’s name – she got Gigi, and Rebecca got Becca or for awhile I think kaka. She couldn’t say her own name either, so she named herself Aya. She never had a problem with Steph’s name…funny. All the nicknames have pretty much stuck too.
She was the best snuggler, and the had the best baby fat roles to pinch and tickle. They were luscious. My son Carter reminds me of toddler-her a little bit – so kissable.
She developed a maternal streak very early. She loved to take care of our pet cats and dogs. She would dress them up, and “torture” them, but they fell victim to her gentle ways and those brown eyes…
My
Andrea was and is very kind. Soft hearted and loyal. Almost to a fault, if that can be faulted.
People trust her, and they should, her heart is a vault. She’s also probably the easiest to get along with of all of us girls. That’s the honest truth.
Some of the things people outside of the family may not know about her are some of her favourite past times.
Probably her number one favourite is SLEEPING. If you are trying to call and there’s no answer, she’s probably sleeping…it doesn’t matter the time. She’s probably sleeping. She’s impossible to wake up too. Here’s a pic of her son doing the same thing. She’s passed the hobby on. Apparently he even prefers sleeping over eating.

She also loves dressing up. She’s very pretty, so who can blame her. It’s probably all the sleep.

 
People may not realize She’s goofy. We pretty much all are, it comes from my parents. 
Of all of us, Andrea is probably the most legitimately funny. She’s very subtle and quiet about it, so you don’t realize you are laughing hard enough to pee your pants, until you actually are. It’s embarrassing, but she’s that funny…sometimes.
 
I have a matching pic. of my dad in these bunny ears to illustrate, but of course, 
I can’t find it right now.
She’s really tall too, all of my sisters are, just not me. I’m cool with that. She could have been a model I think, look at her in her wedding gown. Need I say more?
She’s a really great friend. Some of her best friends are her sisters. This is a pic of her with the youngest  of the 5 sisters. I have a matching one of them on a bed like this from about 20 years ago, but of course I also can’t find that one. These three have been inseparable forever.

These are pics of Andrea with her two boys. She’s a great mom. All those qualities mentioned before are her strengths, yes even the sneakiness I think, it makes her more suspicious of her boys, and successful. The only time they get away with stuff is when she’s sleeping.  J

So, that’s an ode to my lovely, gentle, kind, tender-hearted, beautiful sister who I love like crazy. Happy Birthday again! It’s only a week and a bit late, 
but at least I got it done before Jenny’s Birthday! 
♥♥♥ Mimi

Stephanie

Today’s post is dedicated to my sister Stephanie. Happy 29th Birthday little middle sister!

I love so much about my Sneffelupagus…
She is loving, thoughtful, kind and generous.
She can be silly.
She is organized. I love that.
She is gorgeous but not arrogant.
She is fearless. She will share her pain and sorrows if she thinks it can help someone else.
She is not materialistic and I love that.
She values people for who they are, not for what they have or do.
She insists on her own transparency in an unyielding quest for authenticity, and cares not if other people are uncomfortable with it, because to her own self she must be true.
She is one of the most passionate people I know, including myself. She is all in, or all out.
She is an amazing friend, and one of the things that frustrates me to no end is when I see people in her life who do not understand how lucky they are to have her for a friend. The other frustration is people who do not let her know how valuable and irreplaceable she is.
She is extremely smart and just a bit little crafty – not in the “let’s do paper mache” type of crafty but in the wily way. The planning, organizing and sometimes conniving sort of way. There is always so much going on in that mind of hers, you can never be sure what is up her sleeve. I love that. If you need something to do, talk to Stephy.
She does not wait for other people to start things, if she sees a need, she takes care of it.
When she was born, I wanted my mom to name her Simone – some exotic french name from a book I read… I was very upset she called her Stephanie because I had 2 Stephanie’s in my class at school and they were not the nicest girls…I still call her Simone in my head sometimes…
She was the CUTEST toddler. She had these chubby cheeks that did not stick around long enough.
She grew at an alarming rate (to my young mind anyway). In the earliest years I remember the only complaint I had was her whiny high pitched voice, especially when she was fighting with someone.
She also would SING, all. the. time. Seasame street songs mostly. Annoying.
Singing is something we had in common. I didn’t excel in any sports though, and she did.
Among many other things that she excelled in.
She had that confusing and difficult struggle in life – The “being good at so many things – what do I commit to?” struggle. tough huh?
She was fun, kind of goofy and easy to please… I’m not sure what happened…lol – just kidding! What happened was our youngest 2 sisters came along.
She is a survivor.
Her comfy world got jostled up. Not quite old enough to hang with the older 2 sisters, and not young enough to cut into the younger 2 – smack in the middle, she did what she had to do…
She got bossy.
But the all or nothing girl wasnt just bossy with her sisters and the dog and cat, she bossed all the neighbourhood kids around too. I remember seeing Stephanie at the head of a line of about 15 various kids, barking orders… walking to the “clubhouse” – a cluster of trees…those kids rarely revolted against her. Though to this day, I don’t know why they listened to her. It must have been fun. She would write plays and musicals and they’d act them out for us and any grown ups she could wrangle into lawn chairs. I think she may even have charged admission…

This is how I remember her after her cute cheeks thinned out. She was a whirling dirvish. Always on the move. So much so that her clothes often looked like they were about to fall off…of course she was so thin, they probably were. Her hair was never in place, but she was ready with a smile, and a twinkle in her eye.
In some ways, Stephanie is a lot like me. She thinks (and acts) like an oldest child, with the younger ones. But she never gave me a hard time…well not too much that I remember. Perhaps I’ve blocked that out.
Anyways, when I left home for school, she was 11. When I got married, she was 13…and she almost missed my wedding, for which she was the soloist…because she had a track meet. I think she won something that day, so I forgave her.
A few years passed, she grew up and I pretty much only saw her during the holidays and sporadic visits. During that time she developed her bossiness into “leadership” qualities. Love her. She also kept singing, and followed me to Niagara – she went to the school I worked in and lived with us. With only a few bumps of adjustment, we shared a short couple of years together before she met her husband and I had my boys.
She is extremely creative – it puts me to shame. She is a writer, a song writer, performer, actress, program developer, publisher, team creator and entrepreneur – having started her own business, she’s basically done her best with what she had since leaving home, and done pretty darn good.
She reminds me of our dad…a lot.
She is stubborn, or tenacious. I guess it’s all in how you look at it.
She has very high expectations of herself, but not of others as much.
She is loyal, but if you cross her, good luck.
She married a strong man who challenges her – just like dad picked our mom.
She is proud to be Greek. She is extremely committed to family.
She is a fun aunt, who always has a plan for the kids at family gatherings at her house.

She works hard and inspires many.
She will be an incredible mom.
She is my sister, but she is one of my best friends.
I am lucky to have her in my life.
My birthday blessing to my little sister is to enjoy this next season of life fully.
To have peace and contentment, fulfilment and joy in the smallest things, because they are the best things really.
I hope to spend many more hours doing life together with you in the years to come, because you make my life better simply by being in it.



I love you!!!
Happiest of Birthdays!

Mimi