Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bryn's Book of AWESOME - A Brain Tumour Journey

My oldest son is a non-malignant brain tumour survivour.  

The tumour was found and removed all on one day  nearly 3 years ago.  He was 6 at the time.  
Now he is a healthy nearly-nine-year-old.  

I took many pictures throughout Bryn's journey in hopes that one day I would be able to put together a book of memories for him.  Because he was so young, he couldn't really understand the scope of his health issues and I knew, eventually, he would have many questions about what he had been through.

Hopefully this book of "Awesome" will shed some light on his story and help him understand.  

I have worked on it for almost 6 months, journalling the events of his diagnosis, surgery and recovery.

To help tell the story, I have gathered photos and memorabilia.
As well, I have used a line of scrapbook papers from Simple Stories called "Awesome." Perfect, I thought!

I've inserted some excerpts from my journalling to go with these pictures of the finished book.

"Kevin had spoken to the emergency pediatric doctor, and he let Kevin know that Bryn would have an MRI sometime after 4pm.  All we could really do was wait. Both of us were thinking horrible thoughts, but never really spoke of it.  I guess deep down we were preparing for the worst and hoping for the best."

Bryn gets an IV inserted and has his first MRI

"Kevin and I kept our brave faces on as we hugged and kissed our son.  We reminded him we would be RIGHT THERE when he woke up and we would do anything to help him get better after his surgery.  
“ I think I want a purple popsicle, Mommy.  Don’t forget.” 
And with one more kiss on each cheek, they rolled our boy away.
We prayed to God that this wasn’t the last time we would kiss our little boy’s warm little cheek. " 

Bryn is rolled into his 7 hour surgery and we say our "See You Laters"

"Oh Bryn.  You are so brave."
" And your lump - it's gone!"
"Do you hurt?"
"Mommy and Daddy are here."

"My head hurts."
"So does my throat. Can I have some water?"
"Where is my popsicle?"
"I'm really tired.  Sleep."

Bryn post-surgery covered in monitors and tubes

"Kevin left to grab us some breakfast and it hit me - how are we going to get through this?  A nurse named Katrin put her arm around me and asked how I was.  I guess the look on my face gave it all away.  We have this darling boy, straight out of surgery, with weeks of recovery ahead.  But we also have 2 other kids, jobs, a home - how will we ever get through this?  Katrin simply said, "You have to and you will!"  From what she had seen already, she knew that Bryn had a wonderful "team" for parents and anyone could see that this family was going to be all right.  It was at that moment I knew what my job was - to keep strong, keep smiling and press on, no matter how hard things seemed to be.  After all, nothing we were dealing with would ever be as horrible as the possibility of losing our first-born boy."

This is a photo of Bryn's 7-inch incision, stitched up with numerous stitches.  I covered it with love because the sight of it would make many of you quite queasy!

"Bryn's CT scan came back clear. There was no swelling of the meninges. However, the pediatric doctor recommended he stay for several days for strong anti-biotics and further monitoring.  Alright.  Time to get the hospital game face on again.  How many days?  We were told that it would take a few days for the blood testing to be completed so at least til then.  Maybe Monday if the infection passed.  Okay – 4 days over the weekend.  We can do this....."

After a few days at home, Bryn is re-admitted with possible meningitis.  He spends 4 more days in the hospital and the infection turns out to be only an ear infection!

"Within minutes, Dr. Izaza confirmed the diagnosis.  Bryn was blind in his left eye.  The optic nerves were damaged and there was nothing we could do.    Instead her recommendation was simply “protect the other eye!”  Glasses with safety lenses would keep his sighted eye safer from everyday issues.  She let us know that she would send us to another specialist whose expertise was in optic nerves in hopes that he might be able to figure out the cause of Bryn’s vision loss.  We hoped he would be able to give us some idea about possible surgeries or therapies that could help our son.  After all, he had been through enough!!"

Bryn is found to be blind in his left eye as a result of the tumour. We see a slew more specialists to find out whether the loss could be corrected.

Luckily, Bryn's  MRIs have been clear since the removal of his tumour.  We still spend lots of time at his hospital seeing a variety of specialists and Bryn handles all of these necessary tests and assessments wonderfully.  

At the back of the book, I included  three plastic pockets that hold bits and pieces from his hospital stays and events that we attend that are run by the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.  

When I completed the book this past weekend, my husband asked if it was REALLY finished.
I suppose that Bryn's story could continue.
After all, he will be on "tumour watch" for the rest of his life.

Really, we can't know the future of Bryn's brain, but our hope is that these hospital stays are a thing of the past. 

Hopefully Bryn can look back at this time in his life and know that he can meet and beat any challenge set before him.

He has the strength and courage to get through anything!

He is truly AWESOME!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Life is Good" Sign

We've recently redecorated the whole main floor of our home. Basically, we made 4 small spaces into 2 big ones.  Our kitchen prep area, eating area and TV room became just the kitchen - prep space and eating space.  The living/dining areas became the TV room.   We now have 2 well used spaces instead of one large unused  room being left as a super-size hallway that lead to the food and the TV.  

I'm not ready to show you the finished rooms yet, but I will give you some sneak peeks here today.  

We painted the whole main floor a lovely silvery grey.  I ADORE it.  It is the perfect colour to show-off all of the colourful things I have made and collected.  

There was one large expanse of space that needed a large piece of art and I didn't want to pay too much for it.
Enter DIY!

I made this large sign using an old canvas art piece that had seen better days.  I simply painted over the original art with a few coats of paint and I was off to the races!!

I then cut some large text out of white cardstock on my Cricut paper cutting machine.  

 I simply attached it with home made Mod Podge  (white glue and water!)

Once the text was secure and dry, I added a bit of age to my sign using a dry-brushing technique that adds an antique-y look.  

And here is the finished product:

I love how striking the white and red is.

It is very eye-catching and most people comment on it as soon as they enter our home.  

Here is a little peek at one corner of our new family room.  
We bought a new sofa and several new white slipcovers.  

I really like how it is all coming together . . .

I'd like to find something to hang above my sign - perhaps an architectural salvage piece . . . 
It just seems to be missing something up above.

What do you think?

Before I go, I'd love to share a few photos of the kids on a recent visit to a local fun farm.  

 We went shopping for pumpkins - and a yummy snack.  We found both!

Happy Fall, Y'all!!

Thanks for the visit,

Love, Bronwyn

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Paper Flower Wreath for Autumn

While visiting Michaels this past weekend, I noticed that Cricut cartridges were on sale for less that half price! I had been eyeing up one particular one and was glad to scoop one up for such a great price.

I came home right away and put it to use.  I made a few trial cuts, then got to work on some cut-outs for my newest fall decorating project - a wreath for our front door.

This new Cricut cartridge gave me the ability to cut leaves and flowers of all shapes and sizes.  Several of the die-cuts could also be strategically glued together to make layered, 3D flowers, perfect for my wreath.

I used several shades of card stock to make each flower and I attempted to use as many of the cartridge's shapes as I could.  
Buttons make the simplest (and prettiest!) of flower centres and my three little floral creations matched perfectly with some silk leaves I had in my collection.  

I also added in some bronze-coloured ribbon to link together my home's brick colour and the wreath. 
 I think it turned out perfectly!

And by the response I received when I posted a picture of my wreath on Facebook, I am guessing a lot  of my loved ones ALSO  like how it turned out

Before I go, I'd love to share some pictures from our recent outing to a local apple orchard where we picked 2 big bushels of the finest Golden Delicious, Mutsu and Cortlands this side of the Great Lakes.

Little lady did some wild flower picking, too.
And big brother took over photography duties and snapped a few of her and her bouquet.

Camden taste-tested fruit  from pretty much every tree.
He gave ALL the apples a "thumbs-up!"

Wishing you all a fabulous week!

Much love,


Sunday, September 29, 2013

The One Where I Make a Circle Granny Square Blanket

Start a new crochet project?  Oh yes. 
 How about on the long, 5 hour train ride to visit my sister?

Collect several balls of colourful, leftover yarn:

Select pattern.

Do a quick run-through at home to ensure that it will all work out.

(Wouldn't that be a bummer to have all this yarn on the train, but the pattern stunk? You know - like wrong stitch numbers or missing rounds in the instructions?)

Pattern is A-OK!

Begin train ride.
Begin crocheting, around and around...
(The tray table in front of my seat was the perfect place to lay out all my little balls of yarn so that I could  mix and match colours!)

By the time I had completed my weekend away at my sister's, and after 10 hours of almost constant crocheting on the train, I had stitched 38 colourful centres for the squares in my afghan.
(That's about half of what I needed - but it was a good start!)

Over the next few weeks, I begin adding the white edging to the rainbow circles.
The two rows of white are a nice foil to the mix of leftovers I used to create the centres.

Before long - IT WAS TIME!!

I'm crocheting all these squares into a blanket!

I always get very excited at this point. The end is so near.  I can feel the cozi-ness of this afghan already.  It is going to be fabulous during the autumn and right into the frigidness of winter here in Canada.  

The only thing standing in my way??
10 000 ends to sew in.
It's wonderful to make a colourful blanket using 56 shades of one's favourite colours - but in the end, every beginning and end of each colour has to be sewn in by hand.  Ugh.

But I did it.  
It took a whole week of evenings, but I sewed in every last one of them.
 Darn, I'm good.

So close to completion now. 

Just the edging to go.  
I kept it simple - 2 rows of white granny stitch around the whole thing.

And here it is!!



And it's already got a home on the corner of our new sofa in our living room.  

 The kids love it.
My husband loves it.

I think this blanket is going to be well loved and well used!

Thanks for popping by!

Love you all,


Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Personal Realization . . . and A Red and Teal Autumn Mantel

Hi all.
Haven't been blogging much lately. In fact after a long talk with my dear, sweet hubby, I have come to the realization that I needed to cut back on a lot of things in my life. 
Of course my plan is to continue trying the be the best wife and mother I can be, while at the same time doing the most I can for my class of 30 kindergarten students. 
On top of that . . .
I still want time for me (I LOVE my Zumba classes!)
And blogging - I love it! But sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming - high pressure even, when I want to complete a project, photograph it and put it online. 
Recently, while reading a favourite blogs, Lemonade Makin' Mama
I came across this statement made by Sasha, the Mama herself (she had recently spent a ton of time decorating her house for fall, making it "perfect" for her hubby, son and daughter (and blog!):

"Later, I stood there gazing adoringly at our pretty fall-itized house and it was like God very gently and lovingly whispered some correction to my heart, "If you put out a pumpkin bedecked in liquid gilding but have not love... and if you carefully arrange your son's collected feathers in a crock but then yell at him because he's up on a chair messing it up, you become a noisy gong or a clanging symbol... and if you fluff pretty pillows and throws but have not are nothing."
This really struck a chord with me. 
Who do I do all these creative things for? 
Blog readers, worldwide?
But really - who gets to enjoy what I do everyday in REAL LIFE? Taste my baked goods? Keep cozy under my crocheted afghans?
Find their favourite books in the handy book basket that I arranged in the corner of the living room?
 The answer is my HUSBAND and my CHILDREN!!
And if I am stressed about completing the perfect project and have no energy or patience for my family, what's the point?
So on these realizations, I decided to tone my blogging down, and gear the time with my family, UP!!
I'll still continue with all of my projects, but I'll complete them in a relaxed fashion, when I really FEEL like it.  Not according to some crazy blogging schedule I have set up for myself. 
So on that note . . . here is my latest project.
I hope you enjoy it because it might be several more days before I share another!!
A Teal and Red Autumn Mantel

I recently fell in love with these branches at Michaels. Luckily they went on sale the other day and I got them for half price!!

The apples are vintage Christmas tree decorations and the flowers are from Michaels. 

I used my newest Cricut cartridge to cut these elaborate leaf shapes out of scrapbook paper.  I glue-gunned them to a length of twine and now they add a line of colour along the front of the fireplace. 

I'll share a bit more about this home-made piece of autumn art on another day.  The scrapbook paper served as the colour inspiration for the whole mantel.

I am really pleased with how this turned out.  With my recent decision to simplify my life, I think this mantel d├ęcor will do quite nicely until I decide to switch it up for Halloween!
Happy first few days of autumn!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Polar Bear Sweater

It's that time of year again! Time for woolly sweaters and corduroy pants!
Every year I try to knit the kids each a new, cozy piece of warm clothing  and when I saw this pattern in a older knitting magazine of my mother's, I knew I needed to make it for Camden.

Isn't that polar bear face adorable?? 
"That's not a mean polar  bear, Mommy.  He looks like a friendly one!"
I agree, Camden.  Definitely friendly!

My mother is a yarn fanatic and has the equivalent of 3 yarn shops stored in her basement. So, when I asked, she was able to pull out enough cream coloured yarn to start the sweater immediately.

To speed up the knitting time, she suggested that she whip up the plain back and sleeves of the sweater on her trusty knitting machine.
With her expertise, she would have three-quarters of the sweater done in less than an hour!

So with a few measurements and a handful of calculations, she was off to the races!!

Vroom! Vroom! Vroom! went the carriage on the knitting machine and literally, within minutes, the back of the sweater came off of the machine.
The sleeves went just as quickly and she was done!

Look how perfectly even the stitches all are!
Can't complain about the speed either!

Within a few days, I had handknit the front of the sweater and added all of the facial details.  Another evening of stitching the parts together completed the whole she-bang.

This is how it turned out:

Pretty darn cute, eh??
Mine you - I am not sure which is sweeter - the sweater or the boy!!

Now onto my next knitting project - a charcoal grey cardigan for my daughter to go with a new pink and grey dress. No machine knitting here - only the good old-fashioned knitting needles!
I'll show you that soon!

Keep warm, stay cozy,