that time we went to europe

I'm breaking my blogging silence, if only for a quick photo dump. True, my baby is sleeping through the night (all three of them share a room now!) and I am less exhausted than I was six months ago. But fitting blogging into my current schedule/life will continue to prove difficult. But I have missed having a place to share things from time to time. Back when I was a blogging lady, I'd post 3-5 A WEEK. Wild. And never happening again. But here, enjoy some pictures!

 We're smiling here because the 16 hour day of travel was just starting.

This is about 1/3 of the way through the day...

people always say, "oh hey! you guys are incredible for traveling with kids! I'd never do that!" to which I say yes. I hear you. At this point I had my doubts too.

But then we arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark. Land of milk and honey.

 And by milk I mean modern Danish design, and by honey I mean cleanest city ever.

Scandinavian people are seriously the least pretentious lot you could come across. Even the palace guards smiled at our kids!

Yes, I said palace. How did I not know Denmark was a monarchy? Unbridled. Joy.

Scandinavia was also INSANELY family/child-friendly. All of the museums and airports had strollers just there. For people to use. For free. Also incredibly modern. elevators were literally everywhere, probably to accommodate said strollers.

It was so wonderful to have Brad to ourselves for three whole weeks! 
Thank you Quebec, for his paternity leave!

We took the kids everywhere. Museums, castles, you name it. Everything was so easy with the free strollers and elevators and there was so much to see.

One day we rented a car and drove to a small town outside of Copenhagen. It was beautiful but we missed the city. Go figure.

European playgrounds. I can't even. 

Castle touring. Side note: I came home slightly obsessed with the Danish royal family.

And with Danish china. Royal Copenhagen tea cups, normally over $100 in Canada found for $20 at a vintage store in Copenhagen. #souvenir

Every day we had lunch, dinner, or both outside. Picnic style.

Copenhagen was our favourite of the two cities we stayed in. Nothing compared.

Family Selfies!

After Copenhagen we flew to Amsterdam, Holland. For free. More on that later.

Amsterdam was essentially the immature rebellious brother of Copenhagen. Absolutely gorgeous, rich history, but really scummy. I'll let the hash tags do the talking.  
#legalizedprostitution #legalizedmarijuana #sextourism #drugtourism 


Such quality time with the kids though. The kind that you have to be away from your job and your home and your distractions and basically your life to achieve.

Yes, I carried Lily in the carrier! And then we forgot it in Amsterdam. Boo.

Another day trip, this time, ironically, to FLEE the city. We needed some fresh air. Literally, everywhere in Amsterdam smells like pot.

What a priceless way to spend Brad's paternity leave.

Now, if you're thinking, "gee, must be nice to travel the world, but I'm not made of money or patience" I have two things to say:

1) Our trip was *almost* free because my husband is a budgeting/air miles collecting/saving fiend with many a trick up his sleeve and yes I'll be sharing all about how you can do the same sometime soon


2) Our mentality during the hard times (i.e. THE FLIGHTS) was that whatever difficulties we came across, they were worth it to see the world and experience it with our kids. And there were major difficulties, make no mistake. Jet lag and 8 hour long flights and insanely long layovers in inhospitable airports and delayed flights and ill-equipped rental apartments made for some funny memories and also, lets be honest, hard times. But oh, the good times! What an incredible experience.


taking a blogging break

Many of you have probably already assumed that I'm taking a break from the blogosphere since I haven't written in weeks. If not, I'm logging onto Blogger (for the first time in ages!) to let you all know that I'm stepping down from my dear blog indefinitely.

I always wondered if a day would come where I no longer had the capacity to blog, the desire to do so, or the words to type. For four years I've maintained two blogs (the other being one where I recorded my pregnancies and our on-going journey to one day adopt) and it's never felt like "work". Never ever ever. Until now. In reality, it was as soon as Chloé was born. For a short time I felt like I had a handle on things enough to keep up with blogging (and felt I still had so much to say and share), but then the older two stopped napping and it all just became too much.

I've loved having a place to share my ideas, experiences, and creations, and the feedback and relationships I've gained through my readers. I'll miss that and I'm eager to blog again some day in the future to have it again. But right now, I simply can't maintain a blog and keep up with everything else in my life that I desire to put first.

With three kids, three and under, and one awake at all times until evening, my only time to blog is 8-11pm. And since Chloé has joined our family, those few hours have become practically sacred. They're my only waking hours to myself, and even then are easily filled with highly important things - serving our church, keeping a home, maintaining friendships and relationships with extended family, and loving my husband. Nurturing my mind and soul (and let's be honest, simply putting my feet up!) is something I've neglected and blogging is a very practical thing taking up "me time". Cutting blogging out has freed me up to better serve the top priorities in my life, and still have time to build into myself. It's been a good thing.

I still have so many things to blog about that at one time felt "pressing" - finishing Chloé's birth story, sharing our recent family pictures, writing about our massive DIY dining room projects, and even some giveaways. But they all can wait. Indeed, they have to wait.

Soon Chloé will be sleeping through the night, and I'll be a different person. Maybe then I'll pick up with blogging again? In a couple short years Lily will be off to full-day kindergarten. Maybe then I'll pick up with blogging again? It's hard to know when exactly I'll have the time and mind space to blog again. I tend to assume it'll either be when I'm not waking up at 4:30am every morning with our baby, or when I don't have all three kids at home with me, but in the end I really don't know.

I still find inspiration, encouragement, and creativity in other blogs, but it's time for me to step back from this one for a while. My new favourite (and way easier!) way to document my ideas and days is Instagram so feel free to follow me there (@emmorrice).

Thank you all for reading along these past four years! I promise, I'll be back some day :-)


2013 Christmas Card

Every year I waffle over whether or not to send a Christmas card. It's a lot of work to send them, not to mention getting a half decent picture of the whole famjam together. This year since we added a new member, sending out a Christmas card was a definite. Especially since we stopped sending out birth announcements after our first child. Thankfully my friend Morgan was willing to take some pictures of us there other day at one of our favourite nearby cafes. I have a whole other post set aside for describing the stresses, appearing idols, and utter chaos of that day, don't worry. But the important thing is we have a generous and lovely friend and finally, we have family pictures that are worthy of a holiday card.

I played around at picmonkey.com and made these three potentials. We decided on the final one :)

Are you sending out holiday cards? I totally considered sending HAPPY NEW YEAR cards just because I was running late on Christmas. Ha! Such is my life these days :-)


make your own s'mores!

In keeping with my call to love winter, I thought I'd share some of my favourite hibernation treats with you. S'mores are traditionally a wummer, make-by-the-campfire treat, but that's why they're so great in the dead of winter! They're warm and googy and sweet and packed with calories (all a must for winter treats, no?), plus they're ironic.

I made my own marshmallows (no corn syrup!) following this recipe and home-made graham crackers following this recipe, then bought some chocolate.

I made my s'mores open-faced, so one huge graham cracker makes the base of the s'more and there's no top. Assemble your s'more graham cracker, then chocolate, then marshmallow, and then broil in the oven for 1-3 minutes. KEEP AN EYE ON THEM! The broiler is crazy powerful and hearts up really quickly. Toast them however you like your s'mores :)


three to a room [sleeping]

I recently wrote about our plan for our three kids, aged three and under, to share a room. Our first obstacle was finding room for them all, which we conquered with a $100 trundle bed from Kijiji. The second obstacle has been by far the greatest challenge and truthfully, we're still in it - getting them all to SLEEP.

Chloé still sleeps in a pack-n-play in our room for now and will until she can sleep through the night (right now she's sleeping 5-6 hours straight at night). Once she can go down at 11pm and sleep until 7am, she'll be in with the big kids, but I don't predict that happening for a couple months still, best case scenario. Provided Lily and Oli are asleep at 11pm and also sleeping through the night (which is the case most nights), it shouldn't be too bad. The real problem is getting them to sleep, now that Oli is free as a bird...

Lily transitioned to her big girl bed quite seamlessly for the main reason that there was no one else in her room to distract her. Within a couple days she was golden. Oli has been a whole other story! I have a couple theories:
  1. It's his personality - he loves to party! Boundless energy has he.
  2. It's his sleep habits - he has more energy and gets tired less often than Lily. He's not tired when she is, meaning he isn't going to stay in bed quietly. 
  3. But the most obvious reason for the challenge is that there are now two of them in a room, without the confines of a crib. It's FUN to be free to roam around their room, together, all night long if they like.

We recently cut out Oli's nap and only now is he tired at the same hour as Lily, who still naps for 2 hours a day. Initially we tried putting them to bed at the normal time - 7pm - and just letting them work it out. This is what we did with Lily and it worked really quickly and well. The first few nights they played until 9pm or later and eventually passed out wherever they were. Spoiler alert: it was almost never in their respective beds.

Then we tried time outs every time they got out of bed. This was exhausting for Brad and I and took up our entire evenings. And each night it was the same story. That form of discipline didn't seem to be effective with this type of "crime". We also tried putting Oli back in the crib after he got out of his bed as a more severe punishment, but there was such a long time between being relegated to the crib and the next night to try again, that I think the punishment was lost on him. 24 hours is a long time for a toddler to connect the dots.

Finally we tried staggered bedtimes and cutting Oli's nap. Eureka! Staggered bedtimes without cutting his nap didn't work because he would take SO long to get tired. We'd either lose our evenings (putting him to bed second) or have Lily, our sleepy girl, up incredibly late (putting him to bed first and waiting for him to fall asleep). Now we cut his nap altogether and put him to bed as early as 6pm (HELLO!), wait for him to fall asleep which usually doesn't take more than 30 minutes, and Lily, who has napped that day, follows afterwards.

So now that we have two kids, out of cribs, sharing a room, in a trundle bed, our three to a room challenge continues with adding the baby.

When Chloé starts sleeping 11pm-7am we'll sneak her into the crib at 11pm since the older two will be fast asleep. Right now she goes to bed at 11pm but wakes around 4am for a feed and I'm not willing to have them all in the same room with the possibility of waking the older two every night.

I'll keep y'all posted :)


let's get cozy.

November has been lovely so far. Usually October is my hands down favourite month, but this past October I had a two week old baby, so I didn't enjoy it as I usually do because I wasn't able to do the things that make October so amazing (being outside in the PERFECT weather, wearing my favourite Fall clothes, baking my favourite foods, pumpkin carving and seed roasting, apple picking, yada yada yada). It's crazy how many things you're unable to do with a newborn, nursing baby. Alas, November is so the new black. Er, October. Er, both.

Favourites of the month so far have been all things COZY. Hot drinks, warm baked goods, comfort food, slippers 24/7, sweaters, cuddling, blankets, fire, candles. November, I'm in love.

1. We have our fireplace on most days, but never for more than 15 minutes because it gets toasty super fast. A gas fireplace is officially on our non-negotiable list for our next house. Montreal winters are no joke and this baby is so dreamy.

2. Lily and Oli are decked out in parkas every day (except today, which was oddly +10!) and they're SO cute. I bought their coats this year at Gap Kids when they had a deal going that if you bought 4 items or more, you got 40% off. I bought Oli's coat, Lily's coat, and Lily's snow pants (plus a few other sizes in each item). I love Lily's coat so much I'm buying it in the next two sizes up for the next two winters (next time it goes on sale)! If you didn't know already, The Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic all have free shipping and returns when you spend over $50! So you can order $51 of stuff and send everything back if nothing works for you. Free of charge. And if your order doesn't equal $50, just throw some extra stuff in there and send it back for free, just to make sure you get free shipping ;)

3. Speaking of Old Navy, that store is my jam lately. Mainly because I'm in that in-between postpartum stage where only some of my old clothes fit and none of my maternity things do. Plus I've been pregnant for 3 of the last 4 years so my wardrobe needs an update stat, except I don't want to spend a lot of money since I don't know what size I'll be next month (and I'm cheap forever!). This heart and soul sweater is so cozy and I'm obsessed with it. It was $8.99 plus 30% off! I think it came to under $8 with taxes and everything. I got it in a large (I'm usually a medium and even sometimes a small) because it was the only size they had but I'm glad I did. I love how it fits, all slouchy and snugly. Besides, Lily has the same one in navy blue so I just had to buy it, no matter the size. Twinsies!

4. I made marshmallows! Home made! And then I put them in my coffee because I don't have enough cavities. But they were the best in s'mores form. That's a whole 'nother post though :)

How's your November so far?


loving the church + our families

from Rachel Jankovich, author of Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches:
If you are a Christian woman who loves the Lord, the gospel is important to you. It is easy to become discouraged, thinking that the work you are doing does not matter much. If you were really doing something for Christ you would be out there, somewhere else, doing it. Even if you have a great perspective on your role in the kingdom, it is easy to lose sight of it in the mismatched socks, in the morning sickness, in the dirty dishes. It is easy to confuse intrigue with value, and begin viewing yourself as the least valuable part of the Church.
 This book stays on my night stand. I've read it four or five times and I have no plans of putting it back on a shelf any time soon - because shelves mean you've read it and don't need it often. And besides the Bible, this book has been my greatest literary comfort as a mother. Seriously. I buy it for all my pregnant friends and recommend it to anyone with young kids.

And that quote, it's so me right now. I love that the author gets it! Gets me! Especially that last sentence, because technically, I'm a church planter. Ha! One year ago this month, Brad and I planted a church. We were the only two "members" and the first tithers and Lily and Oli were the only children. It was just us and so exciting and so thrilling and hard work and long exhausting nights in my second language but so so worth it. We now have many members and are outgrowing the dance studio we meet in (after we outgrew our living room) and have baptized a few new believers and it's all awesome.

But with three kids, especially a newborn, it's easy to feel like I'm not much a part of the BIG stuff anymore. I can't go to the conferences for church planters (that are always during the week, several days long, and no-kids-allowed), I often miss large chunks of Festin Agape or Caucus or Groupe de Quartier (did I mention, it's a French church?) to care for my toddlers or baby, and I rarely know whats going on in the church that we dreamed of planting together.

But recently, God has been so kind and I've not felt the least bit insecure about it. My heart for the local church beats hard and strong. I am passionate about missiology, ecclesiology, reformed baptist theology, the city in general, and our neighbourhood (The Plateau) specifically, learning French, Quebec politics, community, the gospel, and discipleship. All things important for a church plant in our setting. But I'm also passionate about my kids, and Jesus wants that. First.

Aside from my relationship with God, my relationship with my family is foremost.
My role as a church planter is crucial and important, but my role as child-rearer and shepherd is chief.

I write this to remind myself and to encourage other women in the same situation. I don't write to free us from all responsibility elsewhere. Having a child isn't a get-out-of-serving card for the next 18 years. Women with children need to prioritize their family but also not neglect the church. So what does that look like? I think right now it means serving when we can and even when it hurts (sometimes with a baby on our laps! sometimes getting a babysitter. sometimes from home).

For each woman it will look differently of course. I don't know how many children you have or what the needs of your church are or what your capacity is. For me it means hosting group de quartier (small group) though I'm often in my kid's room wrangling them into bed. It means missing out on some church social events but to the best of my ability, never missing festin agape (Sunday worship). It means staying home with three kids under three but encouraging the girls from my church through texts and e-mails throughout the week when I can't hang out with them.

But it is so easy to fall into the thinking that I should be doing more and that raising my kids isn't ministry enough. Let us flee from that thinking, cling to the gospel, and always seek to serve, both of our families (nuclear and church) in Jesus' strength.

I'm curious, how do you maintain your service with small kids at home?
What does it look like for you?



So it seems I went well over a week before posting my recent mélange post and now I'm ready for another one already. The Interwebs are funny that way. Some weeks I can't stop from bookmarking posts, sometimes ten at a time, and others not much catches my eye. Isn't it great that all of this education/entertainment/resource is at our finger tips FOR FREE? I love the internet! I love blogs and sometimes can't believe I don't pay a cent for all that I take in. Sweet, sweet 21st century fun :)
  • one mom's view on changing the birth order of her children through adoption. love her and her heart and her enormous family! 
  • I've talked before about limiting screen time for babies and early toddlers, but some day screens will play a larger role in the lives of our kids. I enjoyed this post on negotiating screen time with kids. Clean before screen? Gold. 
  • a collection of pictures of the best part of every wedding ceremony (which is of course watching the groom behold his bride for the first time). My groom shared this with me this week. Tear. City.

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