Blue October

Family Time

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More often than not, she writes in the third person; it makes her feel anonymous yet powerful. When the word I  becomes she, honesty grows wings. 

She thought that seeing her sister drenched in her own blood and her future husband in a hospital bed crying in pain would be enough turmoil for one month. Unfortunately everything comes in threes.

As she walked into yet another hospital room she held her breath. Her eyes focussed on her father, who lay asleep in a blue gown. The tube in his mouth sat quietly, steadily, allowing him to breathe. He looked like a different version of her father, his toes weren’t twitching and he was far too still. From the corner of her eye she glimpsed the rest of her family wading tears. This would be the trillionth time she cried this month. Instead of allowing them to take over she pressed them back into her head. She could be strong.

Over the next few days she’d come to understand that the saddest sound she’d ever hear would be her mother crying. She’d realize that it would take a long time for her own heart to stop hurting.

She went through the motions and did her best to help out wherever she was needed. She did her best to keep it together. She went to work, she focussed, she repeated.

Yes, she crumbled.

Yes, she felt agitated, angry, and guilty (for what she didn’t know).

Yes, she cried streams that turned into rivers that bled into oceans.

But she was humbled and aware of the fragility of life. Spending the better part of a month in and out of hospitals will do that.

The best way out is always through.

She went through it all but with luck and silver linings around every corner. Her  father’s quintuple bypass saved his life. Because of her fiancé’s liver donation, his mother would live. And her sister, who hemrroaged for hours, at this very moment, is chasing around her toddler with an infant in her arms.

xoxo,

Vanessa

Giving Thanks 

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

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On October 5th, my fiancé became an organ donor. 70% of his liver was cut out and placed inside his mother so that she could live. In the world of live donors it is very difficult to find a match; everything has to be absolutely perfect in order for the recipient’s body to accept this new organ. By some miracle my future husband, his mother’s only son, was that match.

As such, I spent the second week of October in Toronto General Hospital. Although the day of the surgery was emotionally draining; the aftermath is the most taxing. My body, mind, soul, and senses were ahnialted by various sounds, smells, and sights in the days following the procedure. Seeing the love of your life weak, uncomfortable, and in pain is difficult but I had no idea the strength that I would find the moment he was at his weakest.

Words cannot express how profoundly proud I am of my fiancé; my love for him has deepened and multiplied. Yes I am immensely thankful for the success of the procedure but I am also thankful for all that I’ve learned, experienced, and have taught myself over the last week or so. I am thankful for the family and friends I have beside me, for the strength I found within myself, and for love. Now more than ever I cannot wait to walk down the aisle with my best friend, to celebrate our love with his healthy mother by our side.

I’ve never cared much for things and now more than ever I have to admit that everything is nothing unless you’re surrounded by great people.

xoxo,

Vanessa

Karmic Moments

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews

On Thursday, Alex and I decided to head to the newest sports bar in Bolton (Brooks) to have a little date night before his surgery. It’s amazing how comforting an evening out with your fiancé, a turkey club sandwich, and a delicious brownie can be.

When we got our bill I realized that our waitress hadn’t included the dessert on our bill. “Babe, this is a karmic moment – what if the outcome of your surgery depends on what we do in this moment!?” I nearly shouted. After almost seven years of being together, he’s used to my dramatic nature, so with a smile and a laugh he agreed.

We not only paid our bill but we made sure that we covered the cost of the dessert. When we let our waitress know about it she became flustered and confused, as they use iPads to take orders she had no idea where she had entered the desert. After a seemingly brief conversation with her manager, she walked back to our table with wet eyes and said that dessert was on them. We thanked her but didn’t change the amount of money we put in the bill folder (is that what it’s called?).

The next day at work, I decided that I needed a coffee break and went to Tim’s for a French Vanilla. Every time the weather gets cold I crave a French Vanilla. I paid for my drink and had to wait nearly fifteen minutes for it (which I didn’t really mind to be honest). Either I had my resting bitch-face on or the woman who served me is super nice because she gave me a few Tim Bits for free.

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NOW THAT IS A KARMIC MOMENT GOING FULL CIRCLE.

xoxo,

Vanessa 

love is everything; period

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

unnamedMy September held intense moments of laughter followed by streams of tears. I experienced beautifully tender days and evenings painted with fear. There were warm weekends in the country and star-filled nights in the city. There were cuddles with my nieces and sleepovers with my siblings. There was magic, hard work, and a million curiosities.

This September paved the way for sincere reflection and necessary prioritizing. It put everything into perspective and forced me to do things I never thought I’d have to do. To see things I never thought I’d have to see. To prepare for things I never thought I’d have to prepare for. As such, this September I learned an extensive amount:

  • There are few constants in life; you can’t even count on regular bowel 
  • Life is fragile; even when you’re careful 
  • To be brave you must first feel fear 
  • Things can change at the drop of a hat; for better or worse
  • Moments are meant to be experienced; not Instagrammed 
  • You can be both blissfully happy and terribly sad at the same time; embracing both emotions is important
  • Love is everything; period 

xoxo,

Vanessa 

Welcome to the World, Baby Mia

Family Time

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When my niece Isabelle was born, my heart filled with so much love I thought it was going to explode. Every time I saw my niece I’d fall even more in love — from her first smile, to her first giggle, to her first step, to her first word, I got to see it all. Izzy and I have a special bond one that I hope continues to grow as she gets older. To be honest, with Izzy in my life things seemed complete, I wasn’t sure I had enough room in my heart to love anyone else. But two years and twenty days later I was proved wrong.

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This is Mia, my second niece. One look at her and it turns out that my heart can love even more. I’m excited to watch Mia grow up and see how similar or different she is from her big sister Izzy. Although I’d be just as happy with a nephew, I’m happy that Isabelle has a sister. Having an older sister is a gift, you have an automatic best friend, mentor, and protector. I’m two years and two months younger than my sister and without her in my life I don’t know who or what I would’ve become.

“Sister. She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she’s the reason you wish you were an only child.”
― Barbara Alpert

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo 

The Bride’s Diary – Getting Married on A Friday

Family Time, Just for Fun

The Bride's Diary

People who get married on major holidays, Fridays, or Sundays are the freaking worst! Or at least they were until I became one of them. Here’s the thing, in order to book a Saturday night at the hall we fell in love with, w need a minimum of 200 confirmed guests. You already know that our guest list is at a firm 150 people so a Friday or Sunday would be our only options. We chose a Friday that way our guests would at least have the Saturday off to recuperate.

The only issues I have with not getting married on a Saturday is the obvious fact that not everyone we invite will be able to make it. First of all, people WORK and I would never expect anyone to take the day off. Secondly even if they decided to come to dinner (which will begin promptly at 6:30) and skip the ceremony, it might be one heck of a hassle to try to make it on time. I know that I want an intimate wedding but with such a tight guest list I am still hoping that many of them will be able to celebrate our day.

In the end,  we knew that getting married on a Friday wouldn’t be convenient for many people but for us, it works. If you’re planning your wedding and for financial/emotional/logistical reasons you decide to wed on an “unconventional” day, be prepared for a lot of eye-rolling, questions, comments, or RSVP’s with the unable to attend box checked off.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Long Weekend Loving

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal
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Long weekends in the summer are perfect for spending time in the sunshine, reading, and partying. This weekend we celebrated Isabelle’s second birthday and attended my aunt’s wedding. Both were lovely affairs filled with laughter, love, and drinks. I cannot believe that my niece is already two-years-old. She has such and incredibly demanding personality that oozes with charisma. She’s funny and loves to make people laugh. She obsesses over music, dancing, and movies. She enjoys my stories about Princess Isabelle and her best friend Waffles. Her smile is infectious, her memory incredible.

As I watched her interact with her cousins I saw how shy she really is, how much fun she has on her own and with others. I held her hand as we stepped into the the kiddy pool and wondered when she’d get to old (or too cool) to hold her Tia’s hand. I thought about how much she’s grown in a mere two years and couldn’t help but wonder who she will become. Then I snapped myself back to the present because she’s only two and time goes by too fast to keep thinking about the future.

“Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape…”
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

My First Pan Am Game, Blog to Book, and MORE

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

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Last Saturday I found myself melting in the stands of a stadium in Hamilton to watch the bronze metal men’s soccer game. It was my first work-outing and even though I didn’t entirely understand what was happening, I cheered when everyone else did and had a great time. The sweltering heat made me wonder why I decided to put on jeans that day but the fiancé’s mellow attitude and constant water/ice purchases got me through it. Side note: definitely nowhere hot for our honeymoon!!! We cannot take the heat!!

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I received some feedback on my blog-to-book manuscript from a wonderful publishing company in the U.K. There’s loads of work to do to polish my manuscript but their kind words and useful criticism has me roaring with excitement to get it done! There’s no guarantee that they’ll publish it, in fact it’s insanely rare for publishing companies to take on new authors who don’t have an agent. BUT that doesn’t mean that it’ll never happen and if I want it to happen I MUST keep trying. According to Alex all I need is a real break, someone to take a chance on me. The hardest part about that is not giving up. My goal is to have it finished by the first week of September and send it back to them then. Might need some extra motivational words my friends!

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

This weekend is going to be a busy one between Izzy’s second birthday, my aunt’s wedding, and an adventure with Alex on Monday, but I cannot wait!! Remind me to get some blogging, manuscript editing, and reading in too 😉

Wishing you sunshine, love, and uninhibited dance-parties this long weekend!

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Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

The Bride’s Diary – The Guest List

Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

The Bride's Diary

I’ve dreaded the guest list from the moment I said yes. I never fantasized much about my wedding but I was always under the impression that I wanted a very intimate wedding (let’s say 50 or so people). The only major problem with that is not that I’m European and as such a big wedding is expected, it is that I have a huge family. My mother’s side is fifty-three people and that’s just immediate family; aunts. uncles, and cousins.

With my intimate wedding idea out the window, Alex and I had to pick a number that would work for us both financially and mentally (he wants a small wedding too). 50 people is far too little, 100 people isn’t quite enough, and 200 is more than we could imagine. 150. That would have to be the magic number.

Thankfully our parents are supportive of this and understand why we don’t feel the need to have a huge wedding. We want to be able to enjoy our wedding and to know the person behind every hand that we shake and every cheek that we kiss.

The trouble with any guest list is that there are always people who are going to be left out or offended. Alex and I had one golden rule for the guest list: do not invite anyone we don’t see at least once a year. This means that only family and the closest friends we have are going to be invited. As of right now we have 149 people on the list and we’re pretty happy about it. We refuse to budge on the number and although the names on the list might change slightly, the number will not. Who wants strangers at their wedding anyway? I don’t.

If there’s one thing I recommend when writing up your guest list, do it with your fiancé and then have your parents put in their opinion. At the end of the day it is your wedding.

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

The Brady Bunch

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

My very pregnant sister, brother-in-law, and nearly two-year-old niece moved in this past weekend while their house is undergoing some renovations. My sister moved out three years ago after she got married. Even though it was an adjustment, we all seemed to get used to a quieter house and one less person at the dinner table.

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Fast-forward three years and instead of four people and a dog in one house we’re eight and a half people (including Alex) and a dog. It’s a little hectic and slightly crazy to say the least. Izzy is a handful, a delightful ball of energy just wanting to play with me or workout with me or simply watch her Big Hero 6. As someone who appreciates her me time, it’s going to take a while to get used to.

All in all I’m insanely happy about them all moving in. Izzy brings a smile to my face every time I wake up and I missed having my sister in the same house as me. Yes, my wardrobe has doubled because of it but it’s more than that. When my sister is close by I feel calm, relaxed, and safe. She exerts that kind of energy, that everything will be okay kind of energy. With all of us under the same roof once again the house feels like even more of a home; something I didn’t think was possible.

It’s wonderful to have conversations with both my siblings as adults while still being able to make each other pee with laughter. It’s cathartic knowing that we can all hang out in the basement, one of us blogging, the other on their phone, and the other paying bills and still have so much to talk and laugh about. It’s crazy seeing the way our relationship with each other has changed over the years, how much stronger its gotten.

We might be the Brady Bunch at the end of the court for the next few months but I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. 

“One day you will do things for me that you hate. That is what it means to be family.”
― Jonathan Safran FoerEverything Is Illuminated

Love Always

Vanessa Xo