My little sister got married yesterday. It was such a beautiful day, and throughout the ceremony and reception I kept feeling like my heart would just burst. I gave a speech at the wedding which I thought I’d share here,too. 

Lizzie,  I meant every word, and I couldn’t be happier for you. 

Photo by Brent Calis Photography

I was two and a half years old the first time I met Lizzie. I imagine I was enjoying my glorious, if short-lived, reign as the youngest and cutest of the Somerville kids, when my older brother Liam and I were brought to the hospital to meet our new sibling. Liam had been through this once before, I however, had no idea what to expect

I don’t remember the first time I saw her, but I am certain that I didn’t know, looking at that tiny pink bundle, that I was meeting my very first little sister, my soon-to-be best friend, and eventually, many years down the road, the second mother to my daughter. 

I had no idea how lucky I was, that beautiful day in April, but I’ve known it every day since.
Since that day, many others have come to know Lizzie like I do. One of her childhood nicknames was Little Bit,  but everyone who’s met her knows what I do, that her heart is just huge.

She was always an eager apprentice in the kitchen, learning from both our mom and our grandmother, Annie, and she now creates incredible feasts that put my mediocre efforts to shame on a daily basis. (seriously Lizzie, you make even organic mac and cheese look really bad.)

Growing up in a house of six kids is not always easy, but no matter what squabble arose between us, Lizzie inevitably emerged as the peacemaker. She was -and is – so gentle, kind, patient, and understanding, that she was always  determined to have us make up, whether we wanted to or not. Discord of any sort really bothered her, and it still does. Lizzie always seeks to fill the lives of those around her with love.

Being the oldest girl,  I often found myself taking care of my younger sisters as we grew up, but when Olive and I moved to Calgary last year, the tables turned and Lizzie was my rock. She helped me, and continues to help me, more than I can say, and Olive absolutely loves her “Aunt Loulie”.  After Lizzie looked after her one night when I went out with friends, Olive told me she wished I would go out more so Loulie could always take care of her – I’ll try Olive! I’ll try.

Over the years, I often wondered who Lizzie would find to match her ginormous heart, her gentle nature, and her seemingly endless capacity for love.

Enter Eric.

For a big guy he’s sometimes easy to miss, because it can be tough to get a word in edgewise around the Somerville sibling chaos, but Eric’s presence is so steady – at family gatherings he is always there, with a big grin, usually right beside Lizzie, playing cribbage and just filled with adoration. He just adores her, and as her big sister, there’s nothing that makes me happier than that.

I offered to look over Eric’s vows for him last night, and after I complimented him on what he’d written he said very simply, “It’s easy, when what you’re writing is true.” Eric, I have always felt lucky to have Lizzie in my life, and I know that she is incredibly lucky to have you. We are so excited to formally welcome you to our family.

Of course, after meeting Eric’s family, Eric made total sense. They are so warm so welcoming and so fun it’s been an absolute delight getting to know them better, and we couldn’t have hoped for a more wonderful extended family to join this motley crew of ours.

So, I’d like to offer a toast to my very first little sister, on her wedding day. Please join me in raising your glasses to Lizzie, to Little Bit, and to Aunt Loulie, and also to Eric, the man for whom loving is easy, because it is true.


The Artful Dodger

The Artful Dodger - Makeup as message//

The other day I found myself watching a makeup tutorial. And let me tell you, this was nothing at all like the horrifically amateur tutorial I posted a year ago, where half of my explanations involved phrases like, “Just mash it into your face” and “you have to blend, I hear…” and “draw heinous circles, like, legit stripes ..then rub it in until you look less crazy.”

No, this tutorial was snapchatted by none other than Kylie Jenner, sister to the fabled Kardashian women and known for her super-big lips.

I have no explanation for how I came to be watching this video. I don’t follow any of the Kardashians (or Jenners for that matter) although I am definitely aware of them in the periphery sense that most of us in our celeb-obsessed culture are. I don’t share the disdain for them that many feel; the whole family evokes a pretty neutral response from me.

Nor am I particularly interested in makeup- doing it, acquiring it, experimenting with it etc. It’s as much a part of my life as getting dressed is – I take care in the process, I try to put enough effort in that it ends up working for me, I use it to accentuate the positive and diminish the negative, but it’s an aspect of my life that takes about five minutes a day and requires minimal cost and attention.

But this is different. This isn’t just makeup, it’s art. Jenner has perfected her skills and utilises her tools and materials  to the point where she artfully constructs her face basically from scratch each and every day. She draws and conceals and contours and highlights, and in doing so, dictates what you see. What you perceive. It’s kind of fascinating. Just watch it.

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The Deep End

The Deep End -

I told you the pool was cold.

One of the most interesting aspects of parenthood is seeing your best and worst qualities reflected back to you in the unnecessarily loud mannerisms of a small, angry, socially inept human being.

Yesterday, you see, was Olive’s first day of swimming lessons.

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Work and writing

Work and Writing, SweetMadeleine,ca

It is lovely; it is intolerable; it is both.

This was the succinct, brutal description of motherhood written by Rufi Thorpe in her recent essay for Vela Mag, titled Writer, Mother, Monster, Maid (and my god, even if you’re a mother who’s never written anything more than a grocery list in your lifetime, go read it.)

I devoured the piece in minutes, stunned that a woman I’d never met could so accurately sum up my experience of both writing and motherhood. She took the aimless, itchy, angry frustration I so often feel and put it into words so finely chosen that I found myself wanting to cry or cheer, or both.

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Has the world gone mad? Or is it me?

(Title taken from the lyrics of this song. It’s a relevant soundtrack for the following post.)

On Friday morning, we got up bright and early and set off for the Calgary Stampede Parade. My mom has several incredible friends who always wake up at 2am the night before the parade and go to the parade route to set up chairs. You simply drop your chairs off at the house of these saints and then the morning of the parade you swan in fifteen minutes before it begins and claim a prime spot in the shade. It’s absolutely unreal – how do such lovely, kind people like this exist?

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