It's almost 9pm on a Friday night and while my kids are sleeping and Jeff is tinkering in the garage, I can be found sprawled across my bed with my laptop. There is a tray set up for tea service here on the bed beside me.The cream coloured teapot has a french, lacy feel to it, a wedding gift I have always loved, never used and likely never will use, and the cups and saucers that seem to match it perfectly are actually one of those fantastic second hand finds I live for. The heavy, white two handled tray is mine too, a reward from the Pampered Chef party I hosted last year. The only thing that isn't mine is the pewter coloured fabric with silver detailing between the tray and the teapot. It came from Lynn. As did the various candles in here, the bookends and the fabulous jewellery holders she has set up on my dresser.
Tomorrow is the first day of the Goderich IODE Christmas Home Tour, and this year, our home is one of the five stops.
Lynn (and Heather) from Homescapes by Lynn "fancied up" our upstairs bathroom with some great green accents, which seem to really pop with the brown and cream colour scheme I created, Makenna's bedroom with just a few special touches that Makenna is going to have a hard time parting with, and our entire main floor too. There's lots of modern pieces, but they mix beautifully with the traditional touches she was sure to include. There are wine glasses, wine bottles, cookbooks and fun serving ware. There's a Christmas Tree on the main floor as well as in the basement. lots of red, white and pewter.
Did I mention the 16 poinsettias? There are 16 poinsettia plants in this house right now.
Fincher's has set up shop in our basement, which made coming up with Christmas ideas for my children very easy. While tempted, Makenna and Jack were so good about looking and not touching, and I too found lots of neat games, toys, books and other gift ideas I hadn't seen before.
But before you see any of that, you see the front porch. Big, full winter planters, a family of geese, a lamp post, a small decorated evergreen tree and more. Everygreen garland acalloped along the top of the porch and big red bows down beneath. Out back are more planters, a bistro set and even all the makings for a cozy winter campfire. Joanne Turner and her team from Art's Landscaping has done a wonderful job.
I am told there could be 600-800 people come through my house in the next two days. Just to see. To look. To get ideas and to no doubt fufill fufill their curiosity about our rebuild.
People ask me how I could do it. Allow so many people into our home to see how we live. Grant them such up close and personal access. Why would I want to do it?
First of all, let me just say, the way this house is set up at this exact moment, is not how we live. We have an 8 year old and a 4 year old and right now this house is full of beautiful, breakable things. It's also spotless. Two dead giveaways right there that this is not how we live.
For this occasion it has also been somewhat de personalized. Some of the family photos and other personal touches have been taken down. The valuables have been put away. The things I have out on a day to day basis have been replaced by beautiful, shiny bits and baubles...much more pleasing to the eye than my stuff.
So why go through this? Is it so I can get some more attention on my house?
While I'm sure some believe that to be the reason, fitting in with all the other assumptions made about our story throughout this journey...no. That is not the reason. .
The IODE are "a proud Canadian women's charitable organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children, youth and those in need through educational, social service and citizenship programs...We strive to inspire confidence in the growth of children into self-assured, kind and capable human beings. IODE supports students and schools with awards, bursaries, scholarships and educational supplies" You can learn more about the IODE here.
I have worked in Social Services for a number of years now and the organization I am currently employed with has been the recipient of donations from the IODE in the past. With that money we were able to improve the inventory of our travelling toy library, the program within our organization that I am most closely attached to. My employer is a not for profit organization which depends on donations from others in order to survive and thanks to the generosity of organizations such as the IODE, I have a job. I have benefitted from the IODE directly as a professional, and am now able to return the favour. By agreeing to having our home showcased on their home tour, the funds raised from the ticket sales go towards helping other organizations in the community, including the very one I am employed by.
Another professional relationship I have developed is with Finchers. Our travelling toy library has made many purchases from Finchers over the years, we have referred our families to Finchers countless times when they are looking for a specific item, and we have had nothing but positive experiences when dealing with Tom and his staff. Finchers can always be found at the Goderich Children's Festival, can be counted on to host and support local literary talent and is a strong local business. As a child I remember visiting the Kincardine store every weekend in the summer with my grandparents, devouring my newest "Babysitter's Club" purchase in just hours after settling in with it. Now, as an adult I visit the Goderich store often and can always find at least one gift idea that will not disappoint. They encourage my children to stay and play with the train table or the calico critters while I look around, and are fantastic about ordering in products that aren't on the shelves. Someday, maybe my book will be on those shelves.
So yes, I am happy to open up my basement to them and let them show off what they have to offer because both personally and professionally, I have gained from my relationship with this store.
And then there's Lynn. This is Lynn's first year as a decorator for the Goderich Home Tour and I am so pleased that our home was the inaugural one for her. Lynn has a gift. She truly does. And even better than that, Lynn has become a friend. Our sons are friends. They met in daycare last year, played baseball together last summer, have spent time in eachother's homes and now are in the same JK class. The tornado affected both of our families deeply. Lynn's home and business was damaged and her mother had to completely rebuild. Throw a third pregnancy into that year (hers, not mine) and she was a busy lady. The owner of Homescaped by Lynn, she is a young professional mother in this town who is working hard to establish a strong reputation in her field. She helped us in so many ways after the tornado, as a businesswoman but also as a fellow mother and friend who really did understand what it was like and what we were going through. She listened to me and knew me well enough to come through with results that were exactly what I would have wanted.
I am so glad that I can offer my home this weekend to her and her business, to showcase what she does and how good at it she is, as a way of saying "thanks" for all she has done for us.
Luann's Flowers and Gifts has provided a beautiful centerpiece for the homes as well. Luann and I go way back...almost 10 years now when she did the flowers for our wedding. After that we were able to keep in touch while I worked in the Dining Room at Benmiller Inn, a venue she was often supplying flowers to for various weddings. She has a florist and gift shop just off the square in Goderich that was also hit by the tornado, and even while dealing with that, she always found time to check in with me and brighten up my day on various occasions. Luann is a very special woman who knows trauma and tragedy intimately and I am always ready to support her anyway I can. Whether that means shortbread cookies or a place to display they beautiful work she does, I'm in.
Whether it's by providing the perfect gift, helping to find the perfect paint colour, designing your dream kitchen, adding the perfect touch to your most important days, or donating to local charities, these are all local businesses, local organizations, local people, working hard to improve the lives of others.
Why did I agree to be a part of the Goderich IODE Christmas Home Tour 2012?
This will be our first Christmas in this house. I am keenly aware of the help we had in getting here. I am keenly aware of how important it is to support local businesses and projects. I embrace that and believe in that and want to see these businesses continue to flourish and do well.
I support and believe in the work the IODE does in our community and want them to continue to provide the supports that they do.
**The Goderich IODE Christmas Home Tour runs tomorrow, Nov 10 2012 from 11-4 and Sunday, November 11 from 12-4. Stop by Fincher's on the Square to get your tickets.**
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