17.4.15

neighbours

Like most people living in the city, our living situation renders us upstairs neighbours, also with upstairs neighbours. Naturally, I was crying with laughter at this hilarious video:


"their ceiling is our stage" Insert crying smiling emoji here :)

15.4.15

a case for traveling with young children

We've heard it so many times.

"Why would you waste your money on a trip they'll never remember?" 

"You're better off taking them on a trip they'll appreciate and enjoy"

"What a hassle! You couldn't pay me travel with my kids! Maybe a camping trip, but crossing time zones? air ports? never."

All fine opinions to hold, but not where we stand. Brad and I met at the Casablanca airport. We knew each other on foreign soil before becoming friends in Canada. Due largely to missionary work, we had both traveled to many countries and continents before getting married, and continued to do so afterwards. When we had kids, we had no desire to change the pattern.

France, 2012

There are lots of reasons why people avoid travel (specifically international travel) when they have little ones and many of them are legitimate. Financial reasons aside, there's the time zone change, long flights, interrupting potty training/sleep training/feeding issues, fear of being in a foreign place should an emergency occur (fears always heightened with kids), etc. But those are probably what already come to mind when you think about traveling with littles, so let me give you some positives to consider.

Copenhagen, 2014

1. Starting young is always beneficial.

Travel requires a lot of flexibility from children. If you ever hope to travel with your kids before age 18, why not get them started young? Now our kids know how fun a trip will be so they can more easily look past the challenges (especially the boring, confining, long flights). Our kids are very scheduled and structured at home, but they've learned to be extremely flexible on long car rides and flights because it's become somewhat common. We saw Lily on the tiny ultrasound monitor when I was 28 weeks along with her, in an African clinic with a doctor who only spoke Arabic and French. We've been at it since the beginning and have no regrets!

2. Free Flights!

Even though my husband has figured out a way for us to fly overseas nearly every year as a family for free (see his blog), there are additional costs aside from the flight. But for anyone considering an international flight with kids, you can't look past the best news ever - KIDS FLY FREE UNDER AGE 2. Hello! This is huge. We flew to Vancouver (work related) with our kids when Oli was 8 weeks old and Lily was 16 months old and we also went to France (for Brad's paternity leave) when Oli was 8 months old and Lily was almost two. Chloe was also free on our family trip to Copenhagen and Amsterdam last summer. In every instance, we didn't pay more than a small surcharge for the kids. Don't miss that opportunity! This summer we are planning a trip as well, to take advantage of Chloe's last few months as a free flyer. Many airlines try to entice families to fly by offering discounts on kids over age two as well. Look into it!

3. Further cost savings

On top of the free or reduced flights, we have found kids to be very affordable abroad. When we went to France with two under two, we ate out often but the kids just filled up on the bread bowl and some fruit we brought along. Mom and dad could enjoy the best of French cuisine and not spend a euro on the kiddos (I did write about tips for fine dining with kids after that trip, if you're interested!). Little ones also allow for smaller accommodations. Many Airbnb locations offer cribs and you can fit young children in one room much more easily than you can teenagers. On our trip to Vancouver our then-family-of-four shared a small bedroom all together. It was cozy, but worth it to be able to travel together! Lastly, most touristy things (think museums, castles, zoos) are free for young children and reduced rates for older children.

4. Child care challenges

It's not always easy finding childcare for your children for extended periods of time. While many people assume this means they'll be home bound for the next 5-10 years, we just couldn't imagine it. Wanderlust is just too strong. And while I strongly believe in parents having time away from their children (will blog on this soon!), bringing them along is a good solution.

5. Your memories [for them]

It's true, the kids likely won't remember their travels in the long term. But we will. Traveling with our children has provided precious memories for us, and we are remembering for them. Our kids love looking through family photo books we've made from each of our trips. At age 4, Lily remembers a great deal from last year's trip - sometimes the most random things, like how we called the National Gallery of Denmark "The Museum Of 1,000 Strollers". Wine tasting in France with a baby on each of our chests is one of Brad and I's fondest memories from these crazy years raising little ones, and we wouldn't trade it.

Vancouver, 2011

13.4.15

growing spiritually

For a lot of my Christian life, I've depended on others for my spiritual growth. Becoming a Christian at a Christian camp embedded that in me early on. I'd spend a summer sitting under great Bible teaching and encouragement, come home fired up, and be almost the same old girl by October. I'm not denying my salvation in those early years. God's spirit was within me, convicting me of sin, causing me to love His word, but I was utterly alone. I didn't have a single Christian friend, and these were the days before Facebook, and texting (believe it). My church was a nice place of refuge but I quickly began to realize as I was vigorously reading the Bible, that they weren't teaching it.  So I depended heavily on summers at camp to boost me spiritually. Fast forward to the years when I was attending an amazing Bible-teaching church. Sundays were incredible, but I didn't know how to grow apart from the pastor's messages or re-reading my sermon notes.


Now, don't hear what I'm not saying. I'm not saying that the Christian life can thrive without the church. I'm not saying that a Christian can function perfectly, so long as they know how to grow spiritually, outside of Christian community. But I am saying that it's easy to be a lazy Christian, depending on X campus ministry or X famous preacher's podcasts or even your local church, for your entire spiritual growth.

Now that I worship in a language that I'm not fluent in, I can't solely depend on the local church for my spiritual growth. As profound and convicting as the messages and worship are, there is always something I'm missing, not understanding. A lot of Christian anglophones come to Quebec and experience the same predicament. The Christian community is smaller, the language can be an obstacle, and so they say they aren't growing.

Spiritual growth is the pursuit of every Christian. Sanctification, our life's work. Notice the words pursuit and work. AKA not easy or natural. But worth it.

Here are some things I've learned about spiritual growth:

  1. It won't happen alone. God uses community, God uses mentors, God uses friendships. Relationships reveal our sin nature way quicker than a day alone in the woods. A Godly community will encourage you to pursue Christ and help you identify idols you may be blind to. Membership in the local church puts you in the best position to grow spiritually, because older Christians are watching over your soul, you're sitting under consistent teaching, and you're within the safety net of church discipline should you wander.
  2. It won't happen without the Word. God's Word is living and active and God's chosen way of communicating with us. You can and should read books about the Bible, but you need to primarily read THE BIBLE. You can and should listen to sermons, but you need to primarily listen to God's words written in THE BIBLE.
  3. It takes discipline. You know what's easier than memorizing scripture, confessing your sins to an accountability partner, and praying and reading God's word daily? ALMOST ANYTHING. Good things take time and require commitment and discipline. It's not easy waking earlier than my kids to be in the word and I so often fail at this pursuit. But I know the more I do, the more I want to, and a healthy habit replaces a self-serving one. 
Apart from the local church, community, and God's word, I love reading theology and Christian blogs to spur me on, challenge me, and shepherd me. I highly recommend the resources available at The Gospel Coalition and the bible study series that you can listen to and study along with online at Jen Wilkin's wonderful blog.

This week I'm in Orlando at The Gospel Coalition National Conference while my wonderful husband cares for our kiddos. I'm so grateful to be here and soaking up the great teaching and encouraging atmosphere, but I know the last fruit is in the day in and day out pursuit of God. Press on, friends!

10.4.15

mélange [+ the giveaway winner!]

Happy Friday! Thought I'd share some posts I've appreciated around the Internets recently. Montreal is set to have +16 temperatures this weekend (along with rain, but who CARES at this point as it was snowing earlier this week!) so, hallelujah!

ps - the Scentsy giveaway winner is.....
Wattsupjen!

Email me to claim your prize!

6.4.15

on giving up candles + and a very rare thing: a giveaway (!!)

I love scented candles. I'm all about ambiance and scented candles provide that soft glow plus yummy smell for the win. Luring people into my home with the false hopes of baked goods is my fav. Are you baking a pie? Yes, come in! Jay kay, it's a candle. Sucker! Now stay so I can have adult conversation for thirty minutes because my kids won't stop telling me about Paw Patrol. Ahem. That's never happened.

I've been known to have a bit of a fetish when it comes to scented candles. Yankee Candle sales made me wild. Those organic soy lavender candles? I'm drooling. Overspending at Ikea every.single.time? Yes, but those candles are such a steal! But here's the thing. I haven't bought or burned a scented candle in my house for probably two years.

Why? A few reasons. Firstly, I have three little kiddos and flames and kids are not the best picture in my brain. I used to have scented candles on every side table and book shelf in my home before I had littles, and now there are exactly two surfaces they can not reach in our entire condo. And one is the top shelf of the closet. You get me.

Secondly, The soot. We have a lot of white in our house, and I started noticing black residue on certain surfaces after I'd been burning a candle. Our white eames-style chairs especially attracted soot, and it was super hard to get off! It was especially creepy seeing the soot on surfaces because it reminded me that HEY THAT SOOT AND WAX GOES SOMEWHERE. A candle doesn't just disappear when you've burned it for the maximum amount of hours. It's in the air and we're breathing it in.

So when Jamie introduced me to Scentsy I was intrigued. In the long run, it's far more affordable than buying scented candles + there's no flame or extremely hot wax, so it's safe for a home with children + the wax doesn't burn up into the air like candles. Here's the deal. You invest in a warmer ($24+) and then all you have to do is stock up on scented wax from time to time. One bar of scented wax is $6 and lasts about a month, which is how long my $20+ Yankee jar candles used to last me! Plus there's all sorts of combinations you can buy to lower the costs of warmers and wax. And? The warmers are cuuuuuuuuuuute! Here are a few of my favourites:

I'm hosting a party for Jamie at the end of the month and am definitely going to be stocking up on my favourite scents and getting a new warmer. I've already hosted one party for her and I was glad to introduce her to some new potential clients, but mostly it was a fun chance to get a bunch of friends from different social circles together for some wine, food, and girltime. If you're local to Montreal and want to come, e-mail me for details! It's always fun smelling all the available scents (there are like a bajillion). Right now I'm really into fresh scents, like herbal or citrus scents. Here are my top four, but it's always buy 5 get 1 free!

Coconut Lemongrass / Just Breathe / Lemon Verbena / Zen Garden
I was an easy sell to Scentsy and i'm not an easy sell to much. I use homemade or Costco-sold cleaning products, not Norwex. I use glass and plastic containers from Winners, not Tupperwear parties. And I buy my no-name essential oils from well.ca, not DoTerra. I'm convinced that most direct-marketed products are overpriced and unnecessary. Scentsy is absolutely the exception, which I was not expecting! But I've tried buying warmers from other retailers and they heat the wax too hot which changes the scents and the longevity of the wax. I bought a cute warmer from Target but after only a couple months the light bulb died and I couldn't find a replacement anywhere (it was a crazy specific wattage)! Meanwhile, my girl Jamie promises to replace any light bulbs that burn out, FOREVER, for warmers you've purchased from her. Nice, right?

Now, a quick word on plugging products on my blog. It's not something I do anymore. I used to do all sorts of giveaways on here, but that's not the heart of this blog anymore. I'm not writing because there's something in it for me, or because I want more followers. I chose to do a Scentsy giveaway for a few reasons: I want to support my dear friend who is just starting out in this business, I 100% love the product, and I think its worthwhile to share with you. You should know that I'm not receiving anything for doing this post - no free products or other incentives.

so blah blah blah, you want to know about THE GIVEAWAY. I hear you.

The winning reader will receive $24 towards the warmer of her choice + a bar of scented wax (which is 60 hours of warming time!)
This would totally cover a plugin/ nightlight warmer like the two below to the right, or you could put it towards a more expensive warmer (like that babe, Parlor). It's up to you!


Here's how to enter:
1st entry: go like Jamie's Scentsy facebook page  and come back here and comment, saying you've done so.
2nd entry: comment below a second time saying what you'd spend your $30 on.
3rd entry: share about this giveaway on Instagram or facebook, and comment back here a third time saying you've done so (including the link for proof, players)

I'll draw the winner on Friday! Good Luck!
ps - open to Canadian residents only