Shake Away....


My Sweet Pip...
Two years ago when you came into this world, according to the doctor you were what they call a "typical" delivery...But baby girl, let me tell you something, you are anything but typical...


You are changing the world. Plain & simple. Changing it. 


In two years, your little life has shined and what you have accomplished is unbelievable...The lives you've touched, the people you've helped, the perspectives you've changed - Not a lot of people can say they've done that in a life time, let alone two years..


So, you my darling are anything but typical...


And I can honestly say, I'm so very glad...Two years ago that wasn't the case. Two years ago when we found out you had Down syndrome, Congenital Cataracts & a Congenital Heart Defect, I would have done or given anything for a typical baby girl...I was so scared of what "different" would mean.


So while I'm extremely proud of the fact that you are changing other people, it's me, your own momma, who needed changing the most. It's me who needed a change in perspective and it's you, who has done that. 

Pip, I would not want you any other way, you are who you are and I fiercely love you because of it. You teach us that different is beautiful, challenges can be overcome, hard work leads to greater rewards, giggling is good for your soul and life is better when you learn to smile, really truly smile where it starts in your toes...


Before you were born when I was creating your room, I made you a little painting that read, "Life is beautiful because you are here"...That little painting means so much to me, as it is a sign that something greater has it's hand in all of this. When I was consumed with fear, anger and sadness the first few days of your life - I walked into your room, saw that sign and fell to my knees. The message was loud and clear from Fate-God-Whomever, you were chosen to be mine and my life, our lives, would be more beautiful because of it. And my sweet, sweet girl it is indeed...Way more so than I could have ever imagined.


You were meant to be in our family Reid Layne - You were meant to be our daughter, You were meant to be Noal's sister - You were meant to be our Pip - You were meant to take a hold of the world and shake it...


So don't be like the rest of them darling...Ever.

Shake away,




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P.S - Last year, I went all Pinterest crazy and did up a Fancy Tea Party for you - I honestly felt that we needed to celebrate after the year we had...This year I kept er sweet & simple - Literally planned it the day before, gave everyone Starbucks Cakepops and let you play at an indoor playground - This year I felt different in the sense that I've learn to celebrate you all the time. And you are at that insane toddler stage where you will touch-break-destroy any & everything - So germ-infested playground it was...









Great Big Home Town Hug....Thank you Windsor...


Every night before I go to bed, my mind spins & spins about what I need to blog about, wondering where in the world, I will find time to actually put what's in my heart to "paper", if you will...


My husband constantly tells me my mind is like confetti blowing up with ideas, thoughts & dreams all the time. And while I agree with him, it's at night laying there, that the confetti seems to go wild - I mean I have blogs brewing all the way back from September that I want to still share, words I want to get out, stories I want to tell and moments that are important...But it seems the last few months have blurred by in a whirl of trips, tears and talks...


The past few months were filled with numerous road trips to Windsor, one including my best friend's little boy's funeral, so you can just imagine the tears involved there...But the visit before that one was actually quite special because I got to see him outside of the hospital, we even got to hang out with him on Halloween...Oh Halloween, you special, magical night you...

On this same visit I got to experience what I can only describe as a city "hugging" you...For two days we held fundraisers for Happy Soul Project and to feel the love that follows Pip & what we are doing, was utterly, uplifting...And to be honest just what I seemed to need...

I will for once, take a rest and let the pictures and words of others tell the story...But huge thank you's first to: 

  • Denise Cassidy & the Belle River TD Bank who organized an amazing fundraiser, got over 100 Kick-It-Capes, sponsored an outrageously fun night at Mr. Biggs with the band SieraSlave and went above and beyond...
  • Andrew & Karen from Group Hug Apparel who I was overjoyed to finally meet after corresponding for over a year. What an inspiring duo...
  • Margaret and her staff at Sweetheart Baby Boutique who threw just about the sweetest day ever for us - Opening her doors so that others could come out and meet us was so very generous and I'm so very grateful...
  • Kerry Trepanier Photography for coming & capturing both events so candidly - I'm in love with your photos. 
  • My friends & family who helped out whether that was folding shirts, making sure I drank water or beer, face painted, helped take care of my hooligans or simply came out to give me a hug. 
  • And every person far & wide who came to meet and support us...You coming gave such validation to what we are trying to do at Happy Soul Project...It lifted me up, more than you'll ever know. 

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By Stephanie Renaud

On a cold Saturday afternoon at Sweetheart Diapers in Pillette Village, something beautiful happened.  Dozens of people from the community came out to support Tara McCallan and her radiant daughter, the beloved "Pip" as she is so affectionately known. 
Tara and Pip's journey started not even two years ago with the birth of this beautiful soul.  Like any of us, Tara was not prepared for the diagnosis of Down's Syndrome that would closely follow.  Initially devastated, Tara's bold, brave spirit has led her to rise to the occasion with grace and courage that has inspired and touched so many lives.   
Originally from WIndsor, Tara seized the moment and created Happy Soul Project to celebrate the message that "Different is Beautiful".  At first through her blog and then through Facebook she reached out to the world, courageously sharing her story so that people might understand, and so that others in her shoes might not feel so terribly alone.  Little did she know that it would resonate so strongly with so many people. 
Here in Windsor, that Saturday afternoon it was clear that the message had been received.  The small storefront of Sweetheart Diapers burst at the seems with all manner of people, men, women and children of all ages.  Everyone was there to celebrate Tara and Pip's message and maybe get a hug from the little dynamo herself.  
The Project has many facets, including Happy Soul Project Apparel, the "Different is Beautiful" Calendar, the "Kick it" capes to encourage children who are struggling, along with many other initiatives and projects already in motion.  It's not just about Down's Syndrome either.  This message resonates with all people, and families that recognize something in themselves that makes them different - diabetes, learning disabilities, cancer, glasses, autism, adhd, all manner of behavioural diagnoses, skin colour..... if it makes you different, this message is meant for you.  
After the event had finished, Tara said that she felt like it was "a great big hug from the community."  This is what she takes away.  Not the number of shirts she sold, not the number of people who came, but the energy of the whole experience.  To feel as though she has been put upon this path and that it continues to resonate with so many and gain momentum everyday.  This is what fuels her journey. 
It is worth noting here that since this event took place another beautiful miracle unfolded in the face the tragedy and suffering.  Upon the loss of her best friends son Maisyn to cancer, the community in Windsor again rose to the call and provided "Kick it" capes for an entire family, as well as the staff of the funeral home that housed the celebration of this little boys life.  On a days notice.  The heroism and selfless service that has arisen through this project is and continues to be deeply awe inspiring.  
Visit Kerry Trepanier Photographer HERE to see full albums of events
As Happy Soul moves into the future Tara envisions touching more lives in more ways through more initiatives including (but by no means limited to) work program for disabled individuals,  speaking engagements, and perhaps someday, writing a book. 

Celebrate the message. 

Different IS beautiful. 

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So, like I said, it felt like one big hug - Thank you Windsor - You are a good Home Town.

Till the next time Windsor....

Soar Maiysn Soar....


To My Best Friend,
I don't know what I can possibly write to make you feel better. I don't know what I can possibly say to make the hurt go away. And I don't know what I can even do, to try and make things whole again. I guess in all honestly, I can't do anything because nothing ever really will be the same again. 

But what I want you to know in all of this, is that I am in awe of you...


You've been beside me my entire life - Literally...I mean we made up a story, told it so many times and then honestly believed it was true. Who does that? Us, I guess...I love that we used to tell people that when I was born, my mom held me up to your mom's pregnant belly & they told us we'd be best friends. Remember how shocked we we're when our moms told us that never happened? We refused to believe them, because we believed it for so long. It was a story we based our friendship on & made last 30+ years...


It's a story that made me want to be there when your baby boy Maiysn was born...For real, we had just moved back from Europe and Craig had moved to our new little town and I stayed back and waited, and waited and waited for him to come...

And I'm so glad I did...It's so weird when I think back on everything in his life - Holding him those first few days, claiming him as my favourite right away despite the fact that you really shouldn't do that because you had other children. The super weird coincidence that my baby boy has the exact same birthday as Maiysn - All of it, none of it makes sense to me right now.


The fact that he is gone just doesn't make sense.


When you called 9 months ago and told me Maiysn had cancer, I thought that would be the hardest part in all this...When you called last week and told me he stopped breathing in your arms, I just couldn't comprehend it. I still can't.


I couldn't think straight, as evidence of my poorly packed suitcase with 2 sleepers for Pip, no socks for me or the one black shoe I brought for the funeral. All I could think about was getting to you.


And then watching you through the absolute sadness, the unbearable heartbreak, you shined my friend. Laurs, your strength, faith and love was so inspiring - In all of this, I will never forget that. You amaze me. 

Thank you for giving me the honour of giving Maiysn's eulogy - It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life, but also one of the things I will cherish most...


He will not be forgotten, I promise you...


He will soar...

I loved being his Auntie, I loved him and I love you. 







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Last Saturday my best friend buried her 8 year old little boy, this Saturday is her birthday and I can't even wrap my head, let alone my heart around how much pain she is in. To honour him & her, we decided to share with you friends, Maiysn's Eulogy...May he be remembered for changing the world. 

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There is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for this moment - This exact moment I am in right now...Having to write a eulogy for my best friend’s little boy is not something I ever thought I would be doing...Nor did I think I would ever get that fated phone call telling me Maiysn had cancer.

​Laura, Brad, Maddy and Mackennze what you all have endured the last 9 months is heartbreaking, it’s so very tragic but it’s also beyond inspiring...I can’t even tell you the amount of people who have told me what hope, strength and faith they have seen in all of you.

Laura, I am in awe of you as a person, your heart is so so good, but watching you sacrifice everything in your life to be beside your little boy and fight just as hard as he did, was just beautiful...You are such a good momma.


And Brad I’ve said this to you before, but thank you for being the exact person Laura needed in all of this, the way the two of you balanced each other to survive what you have is amazing. The way you loved your little boy and had such hope for a different outcome, I truly believe helped keep him here longer.


And Maddy and Kennze, as much as think Maiys is gonna miss his parents it’s you two I think he’s going to miss the most...Kennze just like you told me you are going to miss playing downstairs with just Maiys while everyone was still sleeping, and Maddy you are going to miss your very best friend - I bet you he’s making everyone in heaven jealous telling them what an awesome brother and sister he has.


Because that’s who Maiysn was, this unbelievably kind, generous, loving little soul.

He loved it when he had your full attention!  He would always say, watch this, watch this while watching a show - He never wanted his family  to miss a part! At 9pm every night while his parents were downstairs with a  monitor beside them, they would hear his sweet little voice sing out the Caillou song!  He would try to stay awake until that time every night because he knew they loved to hear him sing...Then he would sleep in his favourite spot in between his mom and dad. The same exact spot he took his last breath, in between the love they both had for him.


His spirit was always very giving and so kind....He honestly always thought of others - Anytime he got to choose a prize for getting poked at the hospital he would ask if he could pick something out for his brother and sister too.


He loved to swim & play hockey and he wanted to play defense like his dad...He adored  his dad,  he would always fight to sit on his lap and waited at the door for him to get home from work - He would get up early in the morning and listen fort his dad to honk as he was leaving for work and he wanted his dad to teach him how to shave.


He loved animals and wanted to be a vet when he grew up. He was extremely smart and he really loved to give people facts...He just absorbed and remembered every fact he was ever told.


He loved all of the nurses that came into his life...He loved to joke around, steal their pens, make them watch his videos, or show them pictures of what new adventure he had done in between hospital stays.


Maiysn was such a happy kid and the thing I loved the most about him was he loved with all his heart...Those he loved he let them know, whether it was with his little sweet grin, his funny eyebrow to make them laugh, or his unselfish desire to make others happy.


The last time I saw Maiysn a few weeks ago, I wanted nothing more than to just hold him...And that’s what I did - So tightly and for so long, just soaking in all I could of him. And later Maiysn told his mom, "Auntie Tara was holding me too tight, my spleen really hurt but I let her cause I knew she wanted to."


He just endured my snuggles, almost as if he knew I needed them and he let me do it simply because he loved me.



Maddy told me that he once said, “It was kinda good he got cancer, because the next person to get it, they’ll know how to treat it better.” And whenever he found out there was a benefit dinner for him he would always say, "I want this to be for all of the kids with cancer.”



He was 8 friends, 8 years old with that wisdom, that heart and that hope.


And that is why he is going to live on.


The Windsor Star wrote an article this week claiming Maiysn lost his fight...Maiysn didn’t lose his fight - Maiysn may not have beat cancer in the sense that most see it, but he did. 

He beat cancer because of how he handled living with cancer.  He was so, so brave and he faced sickness head on, with more courage than most people show in a lifetime. He use to always tell Laura, please don't cry mommy and in his own way he taught her how to be brave in life. He fought and he fought hard and just because he passed away doesn't mean the fight was lost, it simple means he was made for something greater.


A hero is someone who has given their life to something bigger than themselves and that is exactly what Maiysn is. A hero…


A hero that showed us how to love.
A hero that made us all laugh.
A hero that taught us how to fight.
And a hero that inspired a legacy that has soared.



Back when I first found out about Maiysn’s cancer, living so far away, feeling so helpless I needed a way for him to know I was thinking of him and sending all the love and strength I had...So I got a special cape made, a cape that he is wearing now...

And from that one cape, from this one little boy a whole movement started and because of him more than 500 children have capes too...Because of him thousands of children will now get capes all with a special message honouring Maiysn...


So, ya a hero is someone who has given their life to something bigger than themselves.


I truly belive Maiysn was here to change people. To open people's hearts to endless possibilities. He has touched so many people with his strength, spirit and smile…


And it’s that smile that his family will miss the most...He was always smiling...He went through more than anyone ever should and still on a daily basis he smiled, laughed, joke & he loved...


He would say to his mom all the time, “Mum I love you more than you love me." And she always replied, "That's not possible."


So Maiys, you will always be my fav and we will think of you everyday no matter how much it hurts. And just know sweet boy, that your family, and all of us love you so very much but now its time to soar…