Adoption and Family,  FASD,  parenting,  special needs

Walmart Canada and Mother of the Year Contest #MOTY

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This is a photo taken at our Easter egg hunt this April. These are a few members of our adoptive parent’s support group. All of these wonderful ladies (LeeAnn, Annie and Dana) could be my Mom of the Year candidates, but I want to send a really special shout out to the one in the middle. My girl Annie. @anniecannie of


You know that kind of kindred spirit thing that happens when you meet someone living a life that has so many parallels to yours? Well that’s me and Annie. My honorary sister.

How do you choose just one Mom? Out of the legions of amazing people I know there are many I could nominate for Mother of the Year. My own Mom qualifies almost every year. But, outside my family, one stands out for me this year. She was a reader of my blog first and foremost, an avid commenter on my posts. We chatted at length on line before we ever even met and then sparks! You know that kind of kindred spirit thing that happens when you meet someone whose life seems to run almost parallel to yours. Well, that’s what Annie and I had from the start. Friends through my blog. She even won a couple of prizes I think. I knew she lived in St. Thomas and then we met. I loved her immediately. Annie has been through significant hardship, some of which is her story to tell and not mine. She is a cancer survivor and more. She stays positive. She stays true and faithful and continues even in mid-life to reinvent herself and go with the flow. And she maintains a great sense of humour. Her favorite saying is Oh My Lands! It is her hallmark and, it is indicative of her unique nature.

She is a mother of four. She parented a trio of kids, some great biological kids who had a few challenges as well throughout life, one with a learning disability and another with some mental health issues. Then came the opportunity to adopt a baby through a kinship arrangement. She had raised kids that were mostly grown and yet naturally she said Yes, to a medically fragile baby. Her beautiful girl Shaylin is always smiling when I see her and that to me speaks of Annie’s skill as a Mom. Her little one is exactly like my youngest girl. They have the same special needs, born with addictions, prenatally exposed to alcohol and other substances. They struggle with the same things, gaps, tangles and holes in their memory, emotional regulation issues and physical ailments resulting from FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder ) and we commiserate, share our war stories and our special moments with them. It is a constant challenge and a joy, and always a financial hardship. It is also magical and rewarding and an amazing gift. My friend Annie knows all this and she accepts it and does her best every day. She reaches out to support others and she is supported by us when she needs it too, because she is an amazing person.

Annie has been married many years to Rob who lost his job in the devastating economic downturn that wrung St. Thomas dry. And, just after I found her in person, she is moving away to Toronto. Oh, I know it’s not that far, but I am sad that our area has lost a great family. A great Mom and a great asset. But I am also happy and hopeful for my Annie, who is also a great do it yourself – er and a homeschool maven to her little one Shaylin.

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She parents intuitively and calmly. She has a lovely style and is clearly responsive to her child’s needs. It’s why she homeschools with an unschooling type of bent, because she knew our schools would never be able to meet the needs of her child. Because she adopted through a kinship arrangement, meaning, she and her husband knew the biological mother who agreed to place the baby with them, she had even fewer supports than typical adoptive parents do (And I can tell you even typical adoption isn’t well supported in Ontario yet.). This is a never-ending mystery to me. Annie never complains, but she could do, easily. And it would be warranted.

She is a talented lady, a mom several times over, both by biology and by choice. I will miss having her close by, but will enjoy having a couch to crash on when I travel to Toronto blogging conferences. Ann Marie Brown is my nomination for Mother of the Year Award. I am blessed to know her and I hope Toronto treats her well.

Visit the Walmart Canada Facebook page for more about the award.

Disclosure: I’m part of the Walmart program by Mom Central. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation.The opinions on this blog are my own. Mom of the Year Award. No purchase necessary. Internet access and valid email account required. Nominations open May 10, 2012 to July 8, 2012 for legal residents of Canada over the age of majority. Entrants cannot nominate themselves. One (1) grand prize available to be won consisting of $10,000 cash, a $100,000 donation by Wal-mart Canada corp to charity/cause and a trip to Toronto (ARV $22,000). Seven runner up prizes to be won consisting of $10,000 cash, a $10,000 donation to charity/cause and a trip to Toronto. (ARV $22,000). Charity/cause subject to approval by Wal-Mart Canada Corp. at its sole discretion. Odds of winning depends on how the judging panel evaluates each entry according to the criteria. For official contest rules and to nominate an entrant visit

MOM OF THE YEAR AWARD: No purchase necessary.

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • The Zoo

    What a beautiful write-up about a beautiful person.

    I think that you are both worthy of “awards of acceptance, compassion, empathy, awareness”, the list goes on.

    Thank you for sharing such a special story.

    The quote on my son’s baptism certificate reads; The Life and Death of Each of us has an Influence on Others. 4:17 ROM

    You have had an influence.

    Regards, Sarah
    Zookeeper at Journeysof TheZoo
    Fellow CBNer

  • Annie Brown

    Oh Paula… I love you girlie and beyond blessed to know such a wonderful person such as yourself.

    You have touched my life more than you will ever know and 2 hours will not keep me from you girl. We definitely are honorary sisters. You love and support for me and my family is unmeasured and it is a privilege to call you my dear friend.

  • Margarita Ibbott

    My goodness… what a wonderful post. It was so much fun to finally spend some quality time with Annie last week and I too am very sad that she is moving away. I know you will miss her as she is a kindred spirit to you Paula.

    Don’t worry…I will get you to Toronto to see her!