Happy Father’s Day

My apologies for taking so long to post. This isn’t going to be your typical post from me. While I certainly had a good time celebrating my wonderful husband and about how fantastic of a father he is. There’s this grey cloud that hangs over this holiday for me.

So first the good stuff. I made Mike a truly adorable card. I am not usually one to make one-layer cards. Honestly that is because I tend to stink at coloring, and it’s easier for me to watercolor so then I tend to use watercolor paper for the images I want to color and then use the coordinating dies to cut them out. But I am not a fan of the white border around the die cut (I can find the cartoon-like look cute from time to time) but if I am creating a scene I am not a fan. But I had found a one-layer card design on Pinterest that I really liked, and a sentiment from another card, and decided to just give it a whirl.


I used the “Dad + Me” set from Lawn Fawn again this year. Stamping the image of the bear, a fish, the pond, and his little fishing hat. I had to do some masking to get all of the layering right, which is one of those concepts that I just could not grasp in art class in High School. So I am pretty proud of myself for making it work. I used Koh-I-Noor Bristol Smooth card stock, stamped the solid images with Ranger Archive Inks, and colored the other images with Arteza Real Brush Pens. The sentiment I had to piece together using the Lawn Fawn Harold’s ABCs letter stamps.

For Father’s Day, Mike got up early and slow smoked some ribs that we took over to his dad’s place on the lake. We were able to go out on Lake St Clair in Grandpa’s boat and go for a swim. Colt and Mike also got the chance to take the kayaks for a ride too. It was great weather, and a long, but fun day.

For Mike’s dad and mine, I made different cards. This year opting for something different


than using the Dad + Me set like I did last year. This card was again inspired by another that I saw on Pinterest. Using washi tape in blues and greens I created a fun pattern on a 3.25 x 3.25 piece of white card stock. It was nothing fancy as I didn’t want the weight from a heavier piece. I adhered that piece to a blue piece of card stock, and then to a green piece, again, nothing fancy just something I had from a multi-pack. Using the same blue and green paper, I cut out a banner, and rectangle. I stamped “Happy Father’s Day” using Lawn Fawn’s “Happy Happy Happy” set in Ranger Archive Ink, Forget Me Not. I added clear embossing over the ink to give it a nice professional look. I secured it to the card using some blue brads and some foam tape.

Unfortunately, only one of the cards made it to their final destination. I had attempted to blog about it before but didn’t feel it was necessary to be public about it, but it is my life and it is a part of who I am, and I felt that if at least anything, I needed to tell my side of the story.

I do not have a great relationship with my dad. A nice way of putting it, is that my dad made some bad decisions and unfortunately those decisions usually meant that it did not work out in my favor. Without going into too much detail, there was no physical abuse, but there were stupid things. Like driving the family home Christmas Eve after a few too many beers. Or using the money my mom saved to buy me a camera for an upcoming school trip to buy a bus ticket to Florida randomly. He is bipolar and has a substance abuse problem. Those things just make for bad decisions.

Albeit, I haven’t cut my dad off yet. I have never turned him away when he wanted to visit his grandson. I still send him gifts and cards. However, in April, when he showed up at my door, with no money, no job and no place to live, I had to draw a line. I didn’t fully know his story, and I wanted to give him at least a chance. Unfortunately, I knew my dad’s behavior and I knew that it could be a long time before he had some sort of foundation under him. So yes, I did ask him to leave. It was hard, and uncomfortable, but necessary. I knew that it may end up with him no longer speaking to me, even if he did say that there were no hurt feelings, no grudges. And as it turned out, I found out that when he went “home” to Tennessee, his brother had also decided it was time for him to find a new foundation. My Father’s Day card was marked ‘Return to Sender’ in today’s mail. (To clarify, it was because my uncle sent it back, not that my dad refused it).

Now I could go into all the details, the lies, the extortion. But in all honesty I don’t think it will do anyone any good. Maybe one day I will write a humorous stand-up act and tell all of the stories that people can’t believe happened. I am so lucky to have found Mike and that he gives me a reason to celebrate Father’s day each year. He is a fantastic dad to Colt and I love being his partner in this adventure.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


Pitzy Crafts: Mother’s Day

I was up at 6am today, yes on Mother’s Day. Only so that I could help Mike wake up Colt and get him ready. Mike was taking Colt and his Mother, to the flea market first thing this morning. There was a time that Mike could get Colt up without a screaming fit, but I decided today would be better to not tempt it.

Since I was up any way, I thought I would take this time to make some cards. But those will be for another post. I have actually made a handful of crafty things that I think are perfect for this post. First, gifts. I have spent quite a bit of time on Pinterest and saw these adorable handprint keychains and wanted to make them for Colt’s Grandmothers.


I got Colt set up at the table with his paint smock on. Used a foam brush to paint glossy green acrylic paint on his hand and then pressed it on to some Shrink-Dink plastic. It took a few tries to get the handprint just right, but we managed to get 2 good ones. Of course as I was setting them aside and trying to start cleaning up, Colt dumped the rest of the paint out and started painting his left hand. So I had a little more clean up to do. But he had fun at least. Once the paint was dry, I cut them out, wrote his name and year on the opposite side with sharpie, punched a hole, and then put them in the oven per the directions on the package. And once they cooled, I attached them to the keychains.

Earlier this month, I was able to steal a few kid free minutes to put together the treat


boxes I made using the Lawn Fawn Spring House Add-on for the Scalloped Treat Box. I love all of the detail that Lawn Fawn puts into these boxes. There are tiny window boxes for the windows, with green leaves and little flowers, butterflies, a picket fence, and a cute little tree. Each one has a keychain and a gift card to Joanne’s. Both of my mom’s are crafty and I can definitely see where I get my crafty side from.

Of course I couldn’t resist making them cards too. I wasn’t going to originally but I felt I needed something more. I found some inspiration on Pinterest yesterday, and after checking through my stamps I found a cheap stamp set that I thought might work. I have been so spoiled by how well my Lawn Fawn stamps work, decided to do a test run to make sure they wouldn’t be all splotchy. Well, with really nice paper (Bristol Smooth Koh-I-Noor) and really good ink (Ranger Archival Ink) I was so impressed with how well my test was turning out that I kept going and created two cards.


Cheap Stamps from Joanne’s. Ranger Inks in Forget Me Not, Chrome Yellow, Bright Tangelo, Vivid Chartreuse, Vibrant Fuchsia, and Cactus Flower. The Scripty Sayings ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ stamp, and the ‘Grandma’ stamp from the Mom + Me stamp set, both from Lawn Fawn. I trimmed them down and put it on black cardstock, and then on a white card base. Inside is stamped, “From all of us” from the Lawn Fawn Simply Sentiments set.

And last but not least, I have two friends that have had, or will be having babies soon. I bought the Lawn Fawn Little Bundle set last year not sure when I was going to be able to use it, and I am going to get some good use out of it this year! I stamped the images onto Tim Holtz Distress Watercolor paper (my absolute favorite watercolor paper). I painted them with Distress Inks in Spun Sugar, Worn Lipstick, and Abandoned Coral. The hardest part was lining up and stamping out the laundry line so that it could be cut with my Cuttlebug. I even went a little more professional then I usually do, and used clear embossing powder over all of the black stamping. I loved how these came out and I hope the recipients loved them too!


I am truly grateful to have two great mom’s in my life. I never take that for granted because I know so many who no-longer have their moms or never had a good mom. And I am can say that I feel more complete now as a mom and I only hope that everyone can feel that joy. And if for some reason you can’t, please know that you are no less of a person because of it. My heart goes out to so many on this day.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Pitzy Crafts: Another Birthday Card

I have a list of different cards I need to make currently. It seems May is quite a busy month. Birthdays, new babies, Mother’s day, and Teacher Appreciation day… And of course I have been pretty busy lately.

Last night I worked on two cards I needed for this weekend. One of those I’ll have to post about later, I try to wait until the recipient gets it. The other was a birthday card for a friend of Colt’s. We’re going to his birthday party today.

The other day I had started making a card on a whim. I used different blue toned washi tape. I adhered small strips on a diagonal. I didn’t ha time to do much else with it but last night I took another look at it and though it would be cute for a background behind a cutout word.

I used my Cuttlebug to cut a large stitched rectangle from heavy white cardstock. I then spelled out “birthday” along the bottom with my lowercase letter dies. After that was cut out, I stamped the word “happy” using the Happy Happy Happy stamp set from Lawn Fawn. I used Ranger Archival Ink in Manganese Blue.

It looked a little too plain still, so I used some birthday images from the Party Animal stamp set and stamped the background in a Shadow Grey ink.

I was initially going to put it on a white card base but decided to change it up and use a blue cardstock. On the inside, I stamped the “let’s party” sentiment from Party Animal and a balloon. To finish up the card I added a little Wink of Stella glitter pen on the front images.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Pitzy Crafts: A Thank You Card

A little back story on this one.

When I was first discovering YouTube videos on card making, I saw that so many crafter would stamp images and then color them with Copic markers. Well, that’s great and all but I don’t know how to shade and coloring seemed unlikely for me. Not too mention, way to expensive to invest in, no matter how easy these people made it look.

But then I came across videos of people using just die-cut images to build scenes. This seemed easy enough. Maybe a little expensive to invest in a few die sets but still, I could probably do a few scenes with a reasonable amount of dies. And I was even seeing some people do paper piecing; stamping the images onto a few different patterned papers and then cutting the pieces out and pasting them together.

Incidentally, some of the first cards I made, I actually tried watercoloring with Distress inks and that has been my go to coloring option. I have hardly paper pieced at all. And outside of the cute Christmas and Halloween treat box houses, I haven’t done much straight die-cut only projects.

I have the Lawn Fawn Rainbow, Simply Puffy Clouds and Stitched Hillside dies and when I needed to make a card for Colt’s former teacher, I reached to these for inspiration. I decided that I wanted to make a cute rainbow scene and not use much if any stamping.

I started with a Stitched Rectangle on some light blue cardstock. And the cut two more Stitched Rectangles in different shades of green. From those, I cut two different hillsides using the Stitched Hillside Boarders. It was then that I realized there is a right way and a wrong way to position them and ended up without stitching on my one hillside. Ah well.

From 7 different card stocks I cut out the rainbow. My only issue with this die is that the rainbow segments are connected. So you cut 7 of each color and if you are going to do a standard rainbow you can’t really make more than one. Still, I save the extra segments in my scrap bin and I am sure I can find an alternative use for them.

I also cut the Simply Puffy Clouds out of some white cardstock.

I arranged the pieces together and mounted them all using some tape runner. The rainbow I pieced together using the negative space of one of the cutouts, that way I could position them evenly. I also used Ranger Multi Medium Matte to glue them down since I would need a little extra time to wiggle them in place.

I mounted the whole scene to a piece of silver glitter cardstock. And attached it to a 4.25 by 5.5 inch card base.

I was having a hard time figuring out what sentiment to use. Colt’s teacher, Ms. Emily is leaving The Learning Experience for another job closer to her home. I’m sad to see her go, even though she hasn’t been Colt’s teacher in some time, she’s still fun to see around. And I’m glad she’s doing well and has another opportunity. However, I think the feeling I have the most is grateful. I decided to use my Scripty Thank You die and silver embossing powder to make it appear like metal.

I finished the card off with a little Wink Of Stella shimmer (it looks a lot more shimmery in this picture!).

I am truly grateful for all that Ms. Emily was able to provide for Colt when she was his teacher. I loved how she’d meet me at the door each day and provide an update on what Colt had done during the day. And she always had a fun outlook despite a day with a dozen 1 year olds. She will be missed around school for sure.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Pitzy Crafts: A Sympathy Card


My colleague’s mother passed away recently so I wanted to make him a sympathy card. Unfortunately, I’ve been sick and dealing with some family issues of my own, so I haven’t had a lot of time to work on cards. I missed out completely on making and sending out Easter cards.

I stuck with a pretty simple image that I have done for a few sympathy cards lately. First, I used a punch to cut the tree out of brown card stock three times. I stacked and glued them together with some Ranger Multi Medium Matte liquid glue.

I cut two stitched circles; one out of craft card stock and another out of white. On the white circle, I used “Gathered Twig” Distress Ink to give it a little more texture. I stacked the tree and circles for my center design.

I die cut the largest stitched rectangle from more of the white card stock. I positioned it in my stamp platform and measured out where to stamp my sentiment using the stacked circles as reference. I dusted it with my powder tool and then stamped my sentiment in VersaMark ink. I sprinkled on some Gold embossing powder from Ranger and heat set it. The sentiment was from an Avery Elle stamp and die set.

Using the score tool on my paper cutter I added a few lines for texture just above the sentiment. I used a tape runner to adhere it to my card base after stamping a sentiment inside.

Pitzy Crafts: Valentines

As I have mentioned before I started making cards out of a sort of need to fill some time. I have gotten a pretty good system down now and have a pretty decent set of supplies so I decided that going into this year I wanted to start documenting my process. I am not quite good enough with a camera to film it and load it to YouTube, but I figured I could at least write about it here.

Last year, I set out making enough small valentines for Colt to take to daycare for his class party. I really had a blast making little sushi themed cards I wanted to do it again this year. Trying to think of another gender neutral idea, and something that was sort of cheeky and cute, I decided to use Lawn Fawn’s “Pizza my Heart” stamps and dies.

I previously used this set to create a Thank You card for Colt’s teachers a little while ago, when he was first starting potty training. I wanted a cute way to thank them for being patient while I sent him to school commando for a week or so. I included a gift card for the pizza place across the street so that they could get lunch on me.

Included in this adorable set are two different shaped pizzas; round and heart, a slice, a pizza box, a pizza cutter and a number of toppings. Along with that are some punny phrases such as, “No matter how you SLICE it…”, “…we’re an awesome combination”, “…Olive You”, “…you’re the greatest”. And the one I decided to use for Colt’s valentines this year, “You have a PIZZA my heart.”

Again this year I opted to keep them small, and used a 4 inch stitched square die from Simon Says Stamp. I have a large polka dotted background stamp, that unfortunately I cannot remember where I got it. I used it along with some Hero Arts Pink to Red Ombre Die Ink to add a background.

For the pizzas, I used the heart shape, and stamped them onto some Koh-I-Noor Bristol Smooth Cardstock. I had seen Jennifer McGuire use this Cardstock recently and I really wanted to try it myself. This was my first time and I was pretty ambitious stamping out 30 pizza shapes in the first run. I used my go to black ink, Versafine Onyx Black pigment ink as well as Ranger Clear Embossing Powder to give myself extra protection when coloring. Another reason I used the Bristol Cardstock was because I wanted to try out my new Arteza Real Brush Pens. I got a set of them for Christmas, and again Jennifer McGuire had reviewed them on her YouTube channel and they seemed like a nice investment. The price point on these markers is pretty good and they have some pretty good reviews. I’ll admit, it took me a little bit of time to figure out how to blend them on this paper without using too much water and causing the paper to pill. But once I got that figured out it was smooth sailing from there.

Once all of the pizzas had their crusts and cheeses colored, I went back in with my Ranger Archival Mini Ink Pads and stamped the toppings in their respective colors. I also stamped on little smiling faces. I got my mini ink pads from Simon Says Stamp about a year ago during a late night impromptu shopping spree. I was trying to figure out how to get the most out of my supplies and these inks have not let me down. The mini size are great for storage and the ink is of pretty great quality. Many other companies are following suit with the mini ink cubes. If you want a lot of colors without having to spend a lot, I highly recommend them. Especially if you are only stamping small images in color.

I cut out the pizzas using the coordinating die with my Circuit Cuttlebug. Once I had an idea of how much space the pizza was going to take up on my square, I went ahead and (gasp!) cut apart my sentiment stamp to make it fit nicely. Yes, I cut it to fit. Lawn Fawn, I have noticed these days, seem to make their sentiments more in pieces than in big long strips. This is so you have a little more freedom to place them on your card, and so that you can come up with more sentiments when you piece them together yourself. Since this was an older stamp set, I had to cut my sentiment into segments. It might be scary at first to cut your expensive stamps, but if you do it carefully enough, you will just be opening yourself up for more options.

I stamped the sentiment using the black Versifine ink as well as the Carnation Red Archival Ink. And then used Ranger Clear Embossing Powder to raise it up and give it a nice bold shine. I personally think using embossing powder helps give a nice professional look to any card. I popped the pizza up on the card with a little foam tape, and signed Colt’s name. A couple other finishing touches included using a black glaze pen on the eyes of the pizza, and a white gel pen to make some speckles on the pepperoni. I also added a couple of self adhesive gem stones for fun. Overall, the process took a bit amount of time, maybe 3 hours. I think I did the majority of the work over 3 different days. I am pretty pleased with the final results and will be happy to hand them out along with some scented stickers I found at Michaels.


Valentines I made for Colt’s Class


3 Years Old!

I can hardly believe that my little guy is already 3 years old. When I think about 3 years of my life it doesn’t seem like much. But to think about how much he’s grown up in these 3 years, it’s really amazing.

At Colt’s last check up, he was weighing in at 31 lbs (50th percentile) and just over 38 inches tall (75th percentile). He’s a fit, healthy, active little boy.

Colt talks quite a bit now. He has full conversations, he’ll make up stories, and there are always the questions of “why?”. He also seems to have a lot of opinions about things. Generally telling me which way to go when we’re in the car, or telling me things he likes, and loves. And he will tell me he doesn’t want to do something by saying, “not today”.

And you can still catch him singing. Colt’s favorite songs include Jingle Bells, Old MacDonald, the Alphabet song, and Frosty the Snowman. Though he still doesn’t show much interest in the radio.

Fireman Sam is his favorite show to watch. And when we’re not watching, we’re making up new adventures. Playing dress-up as a firefighter, playing with our fire trucks, and generally running around the house to put out fires or rescue cats from trees. His teacher, Ms. Kat says he definitely has an active imagination.

Speaking of school Colt has been meeting expectations. I rarely hear of him having bad days. Though recently Ms. Tonya did warn me that that he needed a little more help identifying his letters on his own. During circle time he does fine, but individually he struggles. Some time that same week as we were driving home from school, Colt seemed upset and proclaimed, “I don’t like Circle Time! I can count by myself!”. Needless to say, I’ve busted out his alphabet puzzles and flash cards.

This year has seen a few firsts and milestones. Colt took his first vacation and traveled to Boston with his grandma, Aunt Jerri, and I. And once we were home, we got serious about potty training. I can happily state that we are officially done with diapers. Another way I can tell he’s not my little baby any more is that he also spent a few weekends up north with his Dada and Grandpa, and without me!

I love what an independent, creative, kind boy Colt has become. I’m excited to see him start 3 year old preschool and really start developing the skills he’s learned over the past year. I love that with every day that passes there are more fun things that we can do together. And while I will miss the tiny, dependant, snuggler that he used to be. I’m looking forward to all the new adventures!

2018 Health Check 

The healthiest I have ever felt was when I was pregnant with Colt. Mike and I were eating well, my pregnancy was going well and overall I had only gained a bit more than 10 pounds.

I quickly lost the weight I had gained, plus some, by breastfeeding/pumping over the first year after Colt was born. Again, Mike and I maintained a pretty good diet. And as Colt began to eat solid food, I would spend my weekends steaming and blending all sorts of foods for him to eat.

Once Colt became a toddler, things got a little more tricky. Always a good eater at school, by the time it was time to eat dinner he was no longer hungry and therefore quite picky. We got used to convenience foods. Still not a lot of processed foods, I would still agree he gets pretty good meals, but still not awesome.

I found myself not eating great over especially the last year. But since all my clothes still fit, I assumed it was balancing out. Somehow. I did start noticing that occasionally my stomach would just feel like crap after dinner. I assumed it was due to drinking too much pop again. For a good while, I gave up soda, and I was trying to eat better. And I did feel better.

Go figure, I let that slip during the holidays. Eating too much Halloween candy, snacking on too much Thanksgiving pie, and indulging too much at Christmas. I didn’t think much of it. Again, my clothes still fit.

Last Thursday, I was at work on back-to-back conference calls when I heard the boys talking about going to Buffalo Wild Wings. Having just missed a lunch date there earlier, I was interested in going but couldn’t get off the phone. Brad offered to bring some back for me.

About 2pm a pain started behind my shoulder blades. By the time I was driving to get Colt at 4:30, it was worse. And by the time we got home, it was almost unbearable. The pain had moved around and was now in my right abdomen just under my rib cage. I kept trying to lay down but I just couldn’t get comfortable. Unlike labor, the pain was constant, and I knew I wasn’t coming home with a baby. I had to laugh about it.

I laughed and joked pretty much all night. From the trip into the ER, with the nurses and other medical staff, even with the pharmacist after getting released. It is such a common ailment, and a routine procedure, I really couldn’t feel scared.

I had my follow up appointment with the surgeon the next day. He reviewed my ultrasound, and agreed, there were stones so he wanted to go ahead and remove it. Sooner rather than later. We went ahead and scheduled it for the following Friday.

I spent the week watching what I eat, or more like fearing every food that could possibly cause another gallstone attack. Which basically meant that I ate saltines for 3 days and then started to be a little more brave. I have felt pretty good up until today, Thursday, but I think I am just being overly cautious.

Tomorrow morning I am due to have the surgery. I will take Colt to school and then my mom will bring me to the hospital. Mike will be available to pick Colt back up. And then over the weekend I think Colt will spend some time at my mom’s.

I am hoping that this will be a needed change in my diet going forward, and that it can be a reminder to encourage Colt to eat healthy. Go figure this is how I get to spend the start of 2018.

Happy New Year! 

As 2017 comes to a close, the house is quiet. Mike has had a bug keeping him in bed all day. Colt has been in bed asleep for a few hours now.

I look back at photos and videos of Colt from this time last year and I see so much growth. It’s not many of the big documented achievements, but more he’s grown into his personality. Every day we have new conversations. He tells me stories; both about his experiences and from his imagination. He sings songs. He reads his books along with me. And I think he even tells jokes (in the way that an almost 3 year old does).

Playing with Colt is still very much on his terms. He dictates what he wants to play. Right now, he’s obsessed with the show, Fireman Sam, and so we do a lot of pretending to put out fires and rescue people from mountains. He also loves to pretend he’s an engineer on a train. He frequently pretends hooks the couches together like cars and drive them. More recently, his Aunt Jessie got him a train costume, so he pulls a laundry basket of toys around the house.

I guess you can say we had one big achievement. Colt was potty trained and we have had a nice 6 months diaper free. It’s even been a while since he’s had an accident. If I can just get him to go on his own more often without me…

Colt and I got to do some traveling. He got to ride in a plane, a train and a bus. Mike also took him out on Grandpa’s boat a few times, letting him stear. Colt loves all kinds of transportation. And farms! I’m glad we were able to get out to Cook’s Farm Dairy a few times. 

Colt is doing really well at school. Sometimes I worry about him not sitting still long enough to do his lessons, but pictures from daycare seem to prove otherwise. He’s learning his letters and numbers. Starting to learn how to trace shapes, circle pictures and “draw”. He’s got a really good memory. It still makes me laugh how he’s come up with a name for the street that leads into our sub, “Bumpy Trees”. 

Oh, and we’ve entered the world of “Why?”. I enjoy, so far, answering his inquiries. I usually try to do the best I can to answer him correctly, completely, and honestly. Though, occasionally, he stumps me at the end of a long line of whys.

Mike and I are still doing pretty well with parenting in a similar way. We’ve had a bit of a hard time lately with Colt wanting me to do things and not Dada. Mike was gone for quite a few evenings taking care of his dad and so I was the only one tucking Colt in at night. Add in that I generally get him up, fed, dressed and to school. And picked up. And I bathe him and brush his teeth. Mike says he feels like he has to be the bad guy. I feel like I am the “bad guy” five days a week. On the weekends I try not to pick fights with Colt if I don’t have to.

I’m grateful this year that I have really come to be better friends with Brian and Jessica. I am forever indebted to Brian for all the nights spent at Doons talking about everything and nothing. He explained it perfectly last year, to paraphrase, he said he liked my (and Matt’s) friendship because it’s easy and drama free. I appreciate that so much. And in Jessica I have a friend who is passionate and free-spirited. She inspires me to let down my guard and speak up.

I am also very grateful for another year spent close to family. Another year of grandmas and aunts who can take care of Colt when I need an extra hand or a break. I got a few good visits in with J and Ronnie and hope to continue to have many more. I hope this year can be a year I spend more time with my cousin Kelly and her sisters. I have also been digging further into my family tree and hope to add many more stories. 

My wish for 2018, is to continue to be a good wife, partner, mother, friend, sister,  daughter and colleague. I have heard a few people say that 2017 was a year for women and I agree that it was only the beginning. I will continue to raise my son as a feminist. I will continue to educate my family on ways to be more inclusive. I will find a more productive use for my voice at work.

I raise my glass to 2018! 

Charles Rowland Jackson 

The below is an oral history that was written by an unknown grandson of Charles Rowland Jackson [Sr.] and copied and sent to various family members.

Above the hearth, centered on the mantelpiece, was a model sailing ship with masts and full rigging, mysteriously inside its bottle showcase.

Grandfather Jackson told how it was carved and rigged to lift the masts once inside its container. So simple to explain the mystery, but it took skill to make it and mast it inside its perfect enclosure.

Then he picked up a piece of darkened metal, a copper cube less than an inch to a side, fingered it, and said “I could draw a mile of wire from that – – the finest wire in Canada”.

When he sat back in his rocking chair and I asked for stories of the past, he said simply, “I’m sorry, but my memory has failed and I cannot recall what happened yesterday”…

And so, let me tell you what he did say, in bits and pieces conversation that I have treasured for nearly sixty years.

He was a little man sitting there, not quite 5 feet tall when he stood. his face was somewhat long, find featured, a heavy mustache, and a noticeably high forehead. There was an air of tranquillity about him. Peace and quiet prevailed in all he said and did.

“Least said, easily mended” was one of his mottos. Clear-voiced, his words bore traces of a good Lancashire background. But he could speak with perception, sympathy, and intelligence on man a matter, and well he knew Canada (Ontario and Quebec), the USA, east and west, and Britain.

What was his story?

We went for a walk from his #8 Humberside Avenue home, over to Keele Street and the houses beyond the tracks.

“I know I’m slowing up. A young couple passed me the other day, and I’ve always been a good walker”. “In the plant (Canada Wire and Cable Company) I went to pick up a roll of wire which was out of place and I could not lift it”.

I’ve lived to see five men doing my work”. His work had been foreman (and wire drawing expert), and when the plant moved to its Leaside site he went every morning early by street-car across the city, into his 80th year. How could such a quiet little man be a boss in so big a factory?

We passed some freight cars on the siding known as “the junction”, a busy industrial area made famous in J.E.H. MacDonald’s painting by that name. “We started here”, he said, “in a freight car – – materials at one end and a bench and tools at the other. One day the owners came to me and said to lay the men off as there were no more orders.”

Charles Jackson said “No”. “We’ll keep them on, and I’ll keep them busy, if it’s only sweeping the floor. Then when you get orders we’ll turn out quality products, and your business will grow. This will be best for you, and for the men, and for myself. I’ve trained them, and we need them.”

(A plant manager of RCA Victor once commented on this, “We don’t get that type of person nowadays”). What then went into the making of this man?

Born in Kentucky, September 5th, 1857 at Newport, Kentucky, USA., Charles’ family was apparently engaged in raising horses. Young Charlie was tiny, agile, and bright, and it was thought what a great jockey he might be. (In later years he went to the Woodbine Rate Track in east Toronto to enjoy the horses and racing).

Kentucky must have been a good place to live as a child. The name has been said to mean ‘Land of Tomorrow’ — (Iroquois). Kentucky’s motto is “United We Stand — Divided We Fall”.

‘Kentucky thoroughbreds’ were raised on its ‘Blue Grass’. In the east and west of the state, coal was mined for new industries. Agriculture flourished and in particular tobacco was grown extensively on plantations.

Kentucky was therefore a “slave” state, but did not secede in the Civil War. In 1861 it was occupied by both Federals (north) and Confederates (south).

The story is that when the shooting began from both sides of the valley, the Jackson family packed and moved back to the safety of England. As a southern Virginia friend said, “The best place to be then”.

The more generally accepted meaning of Kentucky is ‘dark and bloody ground’, from conflicts of Indian tribes.

The Civil War was to far exceed anything in the past, a symbol indeed of modern war’s long , drawn-out stalemate and great loss of life.

As he fingered gently the little copper ingot, one noticed two fingers missing. “Lost in a planer in early days in California — could not play the piano well after that”. But he could sing with a good tenor voice, happy with the old songs, popular in their day. ‘Juanita’ was a favorite. “Nita, Juanita, ask my soul if we should part, Nita Juanita, lean thou on my heart”. Southern songs often had lyrics to appeal to the tender and best sentiments.

But we should review the years in Manchester, growing into England’s second major city.

My mother would say how well he did in school, finishing the curriculum of those days before legal quitting age, and that he had to repeat three times before graduating. One can imagine a gifted child perhaps helpful to the teacher, perhaps a problem.

Adolescence then was an invisible line passed over as one went to work, and into the family business of wire-drawing.

The family included brothers and sisters, all to be looked after, and striving to fill an adult’s role in the great industrial society of Lancashire in the later 19th century.

From a friend of the family I’ve been told that Charles married, wanted to return to America, but his young wife was afraid, dreading the sea and ocean voyage.

The ship then on the mantelpiece was a symbol of journeys, family ventures of earlier days, and others to come.

When his wife died, Charles was free to go at last, at 28, in 1885.

His goal was adventure — to reach the Golden Gate, San Francisco, California.

The log of his sea and rail journey gives interesting views of the immigration and travel — some beauty, some distress, friends, strangers, and newcomers all a-mix, seen though the eyes of a young man eager and hopeful.

(see attached ‘The Log of Journey from Liverpool, England to San Francisco, California, US’ Liverpool March 14th, 1885)

How long he stayed in California we know not. But it always remained a part of him, and at the end of the Golden Gate Bridge, mighty cable strong, seemed to symbolize the best in progress, across the bay and great harbor, linking San Francisco to the more northern parts of the west coast.

He had missed the California earthquake and Great Fire in San Francisco, but more particularly he spoke of escaping (missing? surviving?) the Johnstown (Penn.) Flood, a natural disaster in 1890.

(By this time he was back in the eastern states).

It was only on reading of that tragedy (the Johnstown Flood) that the connection seems relevant. A broken dam, (clay based), let a man-made mountain lake (20 million tons of water) tear through the valley.

Woodvale got it next, and got no warning. It was prosperous, new, and the pride of the Cambria Iron Company, a sort of model town. It was connected to Johnstown by a horsecar line that ran along its main thoroughfare, Maple Avenue. At the western end of town, the end almost touching Johnstown, sood the huge Gautier Wireworks, A terrific geyser of soot and steam when tup when the water hit the factory’s boilers, and then everything simply slid off with the wave. The streetcar shed went, with eight-nine horses and thirty tons of hay. When the water had passed, there was not a tree, not a telegraph pole, not a house, not a sign of the railroad. About a thousand people lived in Woodvale. The figure for its dead would be set at 314.

The wireworks contributed miles and miles of barbed wire to the mountain of wreckage and water that had only a few hundred yards to go until it struck Johnstown. it was now not quite an hour since the dam had given way.

Most people in Johnstown never saw the water coming; they only heard it. It began as a deep, steady rumble, then grew louder and louder until it became an avalanche of sound. Those who did see it seem to have been most impressed by the cloud of black smoke from the Gautier works that now hung over the front of the wave. It was talked of as “the death mist” and would be remembered always.

Charles Rowland Jackson was married in New Haven, Conn. USA on May 11th, 1887, at Grace Church by the Rev. Elihu Sanford, to Alice Dyson, born June 15th (?) at Biswick, Manchester, England.

In the Family Bible their children were recorded as follows:

  1. William Thomas, born Sept. 18, 1888, New York, D. Nov 18, 1899, Astoria, Long Island.
  2. Charles Rowland, b.Nov.22, 1890 New York
  3. Margaret Emma, b.Sept.10, 1892, Lachine (Montreal), Quebec.
  4. Elizabeth Alice, b.Aug16, 1895, Turcot, Quebec, d.Aug.1, 1897 Montreal
  5. Albert Yarwood Dyson, b.June 14, 1899, Motreal
  6. Robert Wilson, b. July 30, 1902, Montreal, d.Oct.5.1910, Toronto, Sick Children’s Hospital.

—–The family story continues with the move to Montreal and work at the Northern Electric Company.

Margaret Emma (my mother) was born September 10th, 1892 at Lachine, Montreal, Quebec.

Elizabeth Alice born 1895, died at Montreal 1897.

Albert Yarwood Dyson was born 1899 in Montreal. He grew up there and Toronto, and went to Detroit in the automobile industry, and was active in labor relations.

Robert Wilson, born 1902, died in Toronto 1910 after a long illness with a ‘rheumatic heart’ condition.

Charles Rowland Jr. joined the Toronto 48th Highlanders. His name is entered in the Honor Roll in the Edinburgh Castle, died June 17th, 1917 after serving in the trenches of France and Belguim.

A book at Grandpa’s was “On the Side of the Angels” (I beleive) which told of soldiers’ experiences, and the spontaneous truce and carol singing in “No-Man’s Land” the first Christmas of the war.

Grandpa, C.R. Jackson served in the Home Guard, and factory work. All others who could went overseas.

Mother married (April 1915), and went with my father, returning to England. he was R.S.M. in the 1st Canadian Contingent, and was back on recruiting business.

Mother’s diary of 1916 tells of family in Manchester, and many friends from home in the services mostly station, or in hospital, or on leave in the south of England.

In their family days mother recalled how her father took the children to Church and she would practise her short-hand recording the sermon. Her mother would be preparing dinner at home.

Grandmother Alice (Dyson) Jackson died February 10th, 1920, after a kidney stone operation.

—-Let us now continue our last long walk, begun on such a lovely day.

We looked in on an Orthodox Chapel, a small sanctuary near Keele Street. It was candle lit and icon bright. Then we went over to the parish Church of St. Martin in the Fields. In the garden-like surroundings was a life-size Calvary. Grandpa recalled the ritual riots when the first surpliced choir appeared back in Manchester.

—-Then one final day, when he grew weaker, I was called.

For some time he had been unable to go to the plant to see the men and lend a hand or give word of encouragement.

This now was his final hour, and the Rector administered Holy Communion. Grandpa seemed so still, until the “Our Gather” of thanksgiving. Then his lips moved in cadence with the Lord’s Prayer.

Peacefully, he went to his Rest in Christ.

O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life. Until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in thy mercy, grant us safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The writing is well, not the greatest, and the facts a little vaug, but all in all a little part of the Jackson Family history.