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.


Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecakes

Winter is coming but my kitchen still knows it's autumn. Last week I bought 6 large cans of pure pumpkin, you know, just in case they're sold out of pumpkin next time I'm there. Not because we go through pumpkin that fast. That would be crazy. Ahem.

Anyway, I've been cooking and baking with pumpkin a lot lately. Pumpkin risotto, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pasta sauce/pizza sauce, pumpkin oat bars, pumpkin cookies, PSL coffee syrup (yes it has actual pumpkin in it!), oh and my kids eat plain old pumpkin from the jar. They think it's a treat! Weird Awesome.

The other night, I wanted to try pumpkin cheesecake, with some variations. The older two had bean absolutely maniacs for most of the afternoon and didn't fall asleep until 9pm after partying in their room. That's a post for another day, but the whole two toddlers in a room without the confines of a crib have proved difficult. Point being, I needed a treat when they were finally asleep to enjoy during the hockey game, so I made these. And treat they were!

I started with this recipe and then made some changes - I wanted individual sized cheesecakes, not one cheesecake, and I wanted it crust free because I didn't have the ingredients for a pumpkin pie crust (and really it's wasted calories, everyone knows the filling is where it's at when we're not talking puff pastry). To make this recipe gluten free, simply swap the 1 TB flour for cornstarch or a gluten free flour.

I used fairly large ramekins and it made 4, but this recipe would also work with smaller ramekins and make 6-8. But who are we kidding? Go big or go home.

Pumpkin Spiced Cheesecakes:

Take out 1 package (225g/8oz) of light cream cheese and let become room temperature. This is really important to avoid the white chunks of cream cheese that refuse to soften when mixed with other ingredients, like I  had in my cheesecakes. The cheesecakes will still taste delicious if you don't go this step, but they look prettier without the chunks).

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together pack of cream cheese and 3/4 C of sugar until soft.

Add 2 eggs, one at a time.

Add 1/4 C milk (any kind - almond, whole, 2%, cream, whatever) and 1 TB flour.

Season to taste with cinnamon and nutmeg (I didn't add much but if you love spiced flavours, go nuts).

Last, add 1 C pureed pure pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

Pour mixture into 4 large ramekins, then place ramekins in a lasagne dish with 2 inches of water (this step is supposed to avoid cracks in your finished cheesecake but spoiler alert: it doesn't work. It may contribute to the moistness of the cake though, which it was very, so I am not saying it's a wasted step).

Bake @ 350 for 35-45 minutes or until firm. Top with real whipped cream (which you should totally sweeten with maple syrup to get it tasting seasonal, and spike with bourbon just because) and a dash of cinnamon.

I am planning to make these again about a thousand times. You might say I recommend the recipe! Happy Fall, y'all!
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