Finding Online Inspiration {5 New-to-Me Blogs}

It seems like blogging is both a dying art and yet complete alive in many areas. Most people (myself included) will just write a longer instagram post and call it a mini-blog. I can easily scroll through my instagram feed while feeding Kieran and it is by far my favourite form of social media but I do love words and reading a little more then just a paragraph. For me, it’s also about surrounding myself with wise woman in my village, we may not all live next door to each other but we can share life online. It’s certainly not perfect and is only ever a small picture of the everyday reality.

This year some of our big changes were starting to homeschool and having a third baby, both of which are huge and important  yet they can also be lonely. I reached out to my real life tribe, exchanging many texts with my sister (who lives across the country) and we spent hours talking through our crazy homeschool while pregnant and then newborn life. I went on weekly nature walks with a local friend partly so that our five kidlets could run wild and free in the woods, observing the changes of the seasons, but also so that she and I could have adult conversation in the middle of our school week.

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And I added several new accounts to my Instagram feed and clicked over to their blogs whenever I had a few more quiet minutes to read.

Here are the five new-to-me blogs that I’ve been reading lately when I have a need of some inspiration in our homeschool life and some solidarity in the adjustment to three children.

Erstwhile Dear by Rachel 

Rachel lives in Boston with her three daughters, her baby is just a few weeks older then Kieran, and she shares snippets of their life through words and pictures. I love Boston so much and have always wondered what it would be like to live there, with young children. Rachel makes it seem magical and do-able. I also feel a sense of companionship as she shares what life with three little kidlets is like.

Investing Love by Alicia 

Back in January when I was healing from Kieran’s birth and wondered how on earth I was going to homeschool with a newborn, I read copious amounts of Alicia’s blog. She is the mother of four children, homeschooling and making a home in Minnesota. Her instagram feed is realistic yet visionary and her blog is just an expanded version of that. Her children are older then mine and I feel comfort in reading someone else’s story, just further down the path.

Learning Well Community – Inspiration for Homeschooling Parents 

This is a community started by Alicia, it is just the sort of site that makes me happy as we finish out our homeschool year and plan for next year. Homeschooling can be hard and yet the absolute best choice, that’s what I’ve found this past year and I’m grateful to soak up good words from those who’ve been doing it a little longer then I have.

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Lindsey Kubly – A Stylish and Simple Life 

Lindsey’s third child was born just a few weeks before Kieran and I have loved reading along as she’s shared snippets of their adjustment to three kidlets, the books she’s reading (herself and to her children) and simple self care. She’s just ahead of me in the postpartum stage and though our personal style is different, I love reading how she’s finding her style again after pregnancy. Her blog is simple and always inspiring.

Cloistered Away by Bethany 

Bethany is a homeschooler, photographer and mother to four children. I want to live in basically all of her photos and always come away feeling filled up and ready to love my family with food, simplicity and good books. She doesn’t candy coat life and speaks to the hard places as well. Whether you’re a homeschooler or not, her blog breathes refreshment.

 

I’d love to hear what blogs you’re reading these days!

 

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3 kidlets, 3 months in

In this moment, there’s a sense of busy calm. My big girls are outside playing, hunting for signs of spring and finding sticks they can carve. My little man is finally asleep after two outfit changes and a whole lot of snuggle time.

The house shows evidences of life everywhere from the papers and pencil crayons leftover from this morning’s homeschooling time to the books on almost every surface and a half-empty cold cup of tea.

My baby is three months old and I feel the newborn fog lifting with just a few wisps around that will probably always stay because I still have young children.

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One of the books I read early after Kieran’s birth has deeply impacted my last three months and the months to come as I try to figure out just where and what to focus on. Three children with three different needs from me, a commitment to homeschool, meals to prep and a house that won’t clean itself plus all the super fun opportunities that come up on a weekly basis. There’s just not that much of me to go around and I’ve flirted with burn out too many times in the past to know I don’t want to go there.

This book is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less and though the author didn’t intend it to be a manifesto for motherhood, its become that for me. Learning a graceful no and setting boundaries (for myself and others). Identifying the slowest hiker in our little group (hello newborn baby!) and then adapting my pace have been life-giving realizations.

This is an intense season, absolutely exhausting and yet exhilarating often in the same moment. My big girl reads to my baby while my middle and I prep supper. It’s a lightning fast pace yet our days are slow and often feel small and unglamorous. I’ve had to become a much better time manager then ever before fitting homeschool and meal prep and conversations in around feedings and naps. My girls have become adept helpers in rocking the chair, running upstairs for yet another onsie or blanket and learning to be flexible during read aloud time.

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I need my focus to be sharp and my purpose clear for the days when I feel two steps behind before I even wake up fully and for the days when everything flows well when Kieran’s naps are long and I sit with the girls and we finally do our butterfly  art project together.

3 months in, I’m finding my groove, readjusting my expectations and quieting my internal crazy, it feels good and I’m grateful.

 

 

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What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Sharing short reviews of what I’ve been reading lately and linking up with Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy, let me know what you’re reading lately and then head there for many more titles! This month’s highlights include some fun fiction and one stellar non-fiction.

(this post contains affiliate links to Amazon)

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

I took this book along for a recent weekend away and it was a great relaxing read. The book follows the lives of three woman as they each have big changes in their personal lives which intersect at a weekly viewing of Downton Abbey in their apartment building. The book is set in Atlanta with many references to places around the city which makes it fun for anyone who is familiar with the city (I was there in October and loved all the references!). The book isn’t a great read but what made it enjoyable for me is the underlying truth that we each have something to offer in friendships even when it seems like others are totally pulled together and those friendships can start over something as simple as a weekly viewing of a British period drama.What I've Been Reading Lately || this vintage moment

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

After reading All the Light We Cannot See, every book set in Paris during World War II seems to pale in comparison. This book seemed to drag in the first half of the book and I wasn’t sure what the author’s point. I stuck with it because the author is an architect by day, author by night and those kind of books fascinate me. An architect is hired to build an impossible to find hiding place for a prominent Jewish business man. He accepts the challenge and then finds himself doing multiple projects as well as forging an unlikely friendship with a fellow architect who happens to be a Nazi. This book raises a lot of interesting ethical ideas about relationships between the Jews, Parisians and Germans and goes to show that just like in real life, wartime isn’t all black and white.

If You Could See Me Now by Cecelia Ahern

Written by the same author of P.S. I love You, this story is also set in Ireland with a very stoic, organized interior designer, her delightful nephew, her grieving father and flighty sister. The older sister watched her mother leave the family time and time again and as a result had to raise her baby sister. She promised herself that she would leave Ireland and her dysfunctional family but she was compelled to stay. An imaginary friend of her nephew becomes her friend and draws her out of her all black wardrobe and all work life. It’s a bit of a far stretch but it’s also a delightful story about learning to be free and embrace all the messy parts of life and relationship. Plus the descriptions of Ireland are great.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

This is the food version of You’ve Got Mail, Lou has opened the restaurant she’s always dreamed but without the complete support of her fiancé. In another attempt to win him over, she bakes him her signature coconut cake only to find another woman in his apartment. That night her emotions come out in her cooking which also happens to be the night that an influential food critic eats at her restaurant and is not impressed. She ends up in a relationship with the food critic and he attempts to win her over despite his guilt at causing her restaurant to fail. It’s a delightful read with a British food critic and a solidly mid-western chef and fabulous descriptions of the food they enjoy. Warning: you will want to eat coconut cake at the end.

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When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

This was a pick for an online family reading book club  and I’m so glad I was introduced to it. Based on the author’s parents’ experiences, it is the story of Korea during World War II from the perspective of a brother and a sister. It’s a fascinating window on an area and time I knew nothing about. Japanese forces took over Korea and forced much of the Korean culture out but the subtle ways the Korean people fought back and retained their heritage was both inspiring and heartbreaking to read. It’s a YA novel and one I’ll be introducing to my girls when they want to read more about this time period.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg MeKeown

This book has been on my radar since my sister reviewed it on her blog a year ago but it took moving and having a newborn for me to actually read it. And without being too gushy, it’s been the most useful book I’ve read in months. The book’s tagline is ‘the disciplined pursuit of less’ and it is the book to read if you’ve ever felt stretched too thin, like you’re keeping too many balls in the air and you often feel burnt out. This book helps to weed out the non-essentials and to hone your focus on what is truly essential for you and your life. It’s a short, easy read but one that I will be returning to on an annual basis.

 

I’d love to hear what you’re reading lately or what books you think I should add to my to read list, let’s chat in the comments!

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Purple Houses, Lost Soothers and Ocean Views

I rocked my baby to sleep, admiring the sunset reflecting off the quiet harbour and bring the already vibrant house colours to life. I wished I could capture it but my hands were full of an almost sleeping baby and there was no way I could capture what I wanted without leaving our hotel suite.

Purple Houses, Lost Soothers and Ocean Views || this vintage moment

Purple Houses, Lost Soothers and Ocean Views || this vintage moment

I was rocking my baby to sleep because on one of our earlier walks, he had lost his soother and I failed to realized that until hours later when we were cozied up in our hotel room. His sisters were asleep in another room, they fell asleep quickly because the previous night they were wide awake for hours past their usual bedtime.

But despite the lost soother (and travel on Easter weekend in a seasonal town meant no stores were open to buy another), a sick child and the bedtime that didn’t really happen, it was still worth it.

Purple Houses, Lost Soothers and Ocean Views || this vintage moment

We’ve done this sort of travel for years whether it’s been an escape to the mountains on a long weekend or tagging along when Jared has a work-related trip in another city. It’s a little bit crazy sometimes to get five people out the door for two nights, get everyone settled the first night when there’s so much excitement of a hotel room with view (and a TV) and of course the challenge of finding a place that serves good coffee.

This past weekend we traveled to Lunenburg, a UNESCO heritage town just under a hour from we live. It’s filled with old houses, most with their building dates and original resident noted. The oldest house is from 1760 and was home to a German family. Every street is sea of colour- bright reds, blues, yellows, pinks and purple. There is always something interesting to see- lobster traps and fishing boats, four colours of paint on one house and a life-size mural of a blue whale.

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Early Saturday morning we sauntered out to the only cafe open, The Savvy Sailor, and throughly enjoyed Lunenburg bennys- poached eggs on fish cakes with hollandaise. With a view of the ocean and a baby who slept the whole time, it was practically perfect. We headed out to find the bookstores, two out of the three were open, and we browsed happily. I found the missing book to complete my Emily trilogy and a lovely book for an upcoming baby shower. We were all smitten with Lunenburg Bound, a used book and paper store with huge windows, floor to ceiling bookshelves and short descriptive notes on the one shelf of new books. Not to mention the four vintage typewriters that I wanted to bring home.

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We always choose to spend money on one meal out and hit up the local grocery store for food to eat in our room. It makes it more manageable with small children- no paying for a meal that they hardly eat plus no stress of constant restaurant behaviour. Plenty of walks along the colourful streets and waterfront, fun snacks to accompany cozy afternoons of colouring and movies- it was a slow, relaxing weekend away from our normal routines and we returned home rejuvenated and ready to go on a slightly longer trip.

Purple Houses, Lost Soothers and Ocean Views || this vintage moment

Travel, it’s one of those things that makes all of us feel alive and adventurous. And something that we’ve found totally doable with small children as long as there’s plenty of snacks and coffee. Is it easier to stay at home sometimes? Always but the shakeup of our regular routine and spending time together as a family in another place is more then worth it.

What are your favourite places to go and things to do while traveling?

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How I Find Time to Read with Three Small Children

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about what I’ve been reading lately, and posted it to my personal Facebook because I love hearing what my friends are reading as well. One of my friends asked how I read so much and I gave her a quick, off the cuff answer. Here is my long answer for her, and for anyone else who wants to fit more reading in their life or who wonders how I read so much.

I try to always have several books on the go – on my night table to read a few chapters before bed, downstairs by the couch and one in my purse. Several books and several different topics means that it’s easier to reach for a book than my phone and keep me from getting bored with one author. I’m finding new ways to read a few chapters since my arms are almost always full of the most adorable baby. My old habits of reading while the girls played at the park or beach or bath have had to be revamped.

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I don’t do a lot of anything else right now. I don’t sew or knit or craft. I’m not hosting multiple gatherings in a month. Reading is my thing. It has always been my go-to activity ever since I could read but right now it’s my only one besides taking care of my beloved little family, date nights and homeschooling. I will read over doing anything else and especially if I happen to co-ordinate my baby’s nap with my big girls quiet time.

I’m always requesting books from the library and getting titles from blog round ups like this one or following bookish people on Pinterest. And I love asking people what they’re reading lately, sometimes we can nerd out on a favourite one we’ve both read or get new titles to add to my list.

I make fairly quick decisions about books, I don’t have any time to waste on a bad book or a topic that is not for me right now. I will abandon books within a few pages or even after reading the back cover. And I’m trying to be a little more realistic with my book goals- reading some of the super long classics may not happen this year and I’m okay with that. I’m looking at you Les Miserables and Gone With the Wind.

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Read aloud time has become a backbone of our homeschooling day and it has motivated me to read more personally. I want to reach for my book more then my phone and I want to model reading for my children. Through reading I can enter many different worlds and learn many new things all from the comfort of my couch or my back porch.

There’s always something I could do when I have a few quiet moments but I will almost choose to read.

How do you make time to read or do your go-to hobby? I’d love to hear what fills your cup!

 

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A Notebook of Happy// Vol 2

I used to say that I write in the crannies of the day and now that’s more true then ever before. I don’t write during quiet time anymore, I grab a nap or read while holding a baby. Nor do I write after the girls are in bed, I watch an episode of something (right now Gilmore Girls has my full attention) while I feed Kieran and then go to bed at a very early hour.

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But lists of the things that make me happy? I can always write those. And especially in this season of more intensive mothering (all three children were up several times last night, pass the coffee) I need to write down the happy. Because there is so much of it, right along with the overwhelm.

  1. Conversations with my girls are so fun right now, they have many, many questions and observations about the world around them. They help me remember to make it fun like using jelly beans as math manipulatives on days when I would rather hire a math tutor.
  2. A good book. I’ve been reading some really enjoyable reads lately, nothing too deep or fluffy or emotional. I love having a few good books on the go!A notebook of happy || this vintage moment
  3. Bird-watching. I realize that mentioning my early bedtime and now bird-watching takes me into a whole other category but I’m okay with that. We’ve set up a couple feeders in our front yard tree and I take such delight in seeing the many chickadees gleefully perch on the suet. I’m hopeful for a nest to be built among the branches, the epitome of spring.
  4. Time out with friends- baby showers, phone conversations, coffee dates and playdates where the children play long enough for good conversation to happen- these are filling my cup right now. The last month of pregnancy and first couple months of newborn life I tended to hibernate but now that the fog is clearing, I am enjoying and needing these times.A notebook of happy || this vintage moment
  5. Using Pinterest and my library system to work for me and give me inspiration to make learning fun for my girls. This month we focused on Ireland and Saint Patrick, our library bin was full of all sorts of great books and my girls can’t wait to visit Ireland to hunt for leprechauns. Homeschooling with a newborn (after moving 6 months ago) is a post for another day but being intentional about having good books for those days when we do a lot of read aloud and art is making me happy.A notebook of happy || this vintage moment
  6. Seeing friends dream big and then getting to be an observer as they take big leaps to move their families into places they’ve dreamed of gets me so excited every single time. Even when they move away from us, there’s just something so beautiful about big dreams, pursuing them and seeing the reality of them lived out.

 

That’s my list on this grey March day, tell me what big and small things are on your list of happy?

 

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Hey Self, These are the Good Days

These are the days that you will look back upon and remember. These days of hand-written signs with all the words spelled phonetically inviting you to an after-dinner dance performance. When your library basket is brimming full of picture books and just a few books for yourself to read in the evenings, chapter by chapter before bed.

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These days when you have done three amazing things before breakfast, after getting up with your baby a few times during the night. You’ve sat and watched the sun rise while you cuddled your baby and drank your coffee hot before the demands of the day call to you.

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These are the days when you and your husband high five over small victories and smile over seeing your children reach an accomplishment. These days of saying no to more outside activities so you can yes to more family days and slow weekend breakfasts and long drives by the water. These days when you go through more coffee then ever before and yet order decaf if it’s after 3 because you also need to sleep at night. These are good, good days. Even those days when everyone cries and there are tantrums and words and it’s all a mess. There are apologies and forgiveness and fresh mercies tomorrow.

These are the days of date night ins, of Friday night pizza and movie night, and porridge for breakfast. Of letting the dishes pile up in the sink while you homeschool and feed the baby and send the girls outside. Of painting pictures and telling the girls that they each have their own magic and that’s what makes their pictures unique and beautiful.

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It’s the same for you.

These exhausting, beautiful days when you have to choose between reading stories and sweeping floors, between doing the dishes and soothing the baby.

These days of letting the sweet old lady before you at the checkout peek in at your sleeping baby, knowing that she is not that far from the end of her life and he is just beginning his story.

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You are savouring the moments. You are seeing the extraordinary in your everyday. You know you will remember  these days.

These days when sometimes you have no idea what you did or what you accomplished. You’re deep in your race of motherhood, it’s not a sprint-its more like an ironman. You’re accomplishing far more then any check mark on a list can convey. You’re building a lifetime of stories, starting with today. Because even if you don’t feel like you did anything, you did more then you know and today was a really good day.

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What I’ve Been Reading Lately

I’m republishing this post since I first published it a week early for the linkup.  Sorry for the extra post in your inbox. Newborn fog is real, friends. 

Linking up with Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy to share quick snippets of what I’ve been reading lately.

I’ve gotten back into my reading habits and it’s like re-discovering an old friend. I don’t often read while feeding my little guy, there’s too many other distractions but if I’m rocking him to sleep or I have a few moments, I will always read. My to-read list is super long at the moment and I can only read a certain type of book right now, anything too dark or too emotional gets returned to the library with just a chapter or two read. These ones were fantastic and I’d love to hear what you are reading during these winter months.

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My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Riechel

When the magazine, Gourmet, was abruptly closed down Ruth was out of her job of editor in chief. The future was uncertain and so she headed to the kitchen of their country home to figure out what the next chapter held. It’s a very personal read, laid out by the seasons and puncuatated by her discovery of twitter and her take on life in 140 characters. It is chock full of recipes, tells the back story of when she wrote her first novel (Delicious!) and is the story of one woman making slow peace to a whole new way of  life. It’s been on my radar for a long time and I’m so glad I finally read it. The kitchen is often where I disappear to make sense of life’s events and I enjoyed Ruth’s telling of her journey.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

This book was such a fun read! In Willy Wonka fashion, 12 twelve year olds are chosen by their essays to spend the night in a town’s brand new library funded by a brilliant millionaire. Mr. Lemoncello made his money designing board games and the over night stay turns out to be the most epic game of the kids’ lives. It’s a more peaceful version of the Hunger Games complete with holograms of librarians past to help with the game’s clues, full of references to great books and library trivia. It’s a great YA read.

The Knockoff: A Novel by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Fashion, New York City, social media- this book covers it all in a fast-paced, hilarious (sometimes snarky) manner. I loved this story of a magazine editor in her early forties coming back to work as editor in chief only to find her role seemingly taken over by a brash, ambitious 20 something who turned the magazine into an app. It’s the complete opposite of my daily life and I loved this peek into a different world. If you liked The Devil Wears Prada or the film,The Intern , this book is right up your alley.

 

Jane of Lantern Hill by Lucy M. Montgomery

I chose this book for ‘the book you can read in a day’ from Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge and I could read it in a day, before I had a newborn. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed this story of Jane who finds out that she has a father after 11 years of living in Toronto with her mother, grandmother and great aunt. The only problem is her father now wants her to spend the summer with her on Prince Edward Island. She goes and falls deeply in love with the ocean, red roads and Island living. It’s delightful and spunky and Jane is one of my favourite LMM heroines.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Another title that has been on my list for way too long, I finally picked this one up after hearing about on the What Should I Read Next podcast. It’s quirky and beautiful, set in a South American country where a group of wealthy men and their wives have gathered to celebrate a Japanese man’s birthday with an American opera singer as the feature of the evening. It all goes amuck when terrorists take the house hostage and what follows is a study in human nature, relationships and love with many musical references. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the book is set almost entirely over the course of a few weeks and only in the house of the vice president.

Tell me what you’ve been reading lately and what books I should add to my TBR list!

 

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A Notebook of Happy // Vol 1

One of my favourite questions right now is ‘what is making you happy?’. I’m a fan of this question because it focuses on the little (or big) things in our lives that bring a little extra sparkle. And in these early weeks of roller coaster hormones and emotions, I need a little extra sparkle.

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Here’s my short list of what’s making me happy during these marathon nursing sessions and cozy winter days:

  •   a new podcast by one of my favourite bloggers, What Should I Read Next. It answers the questions that every reader asks, introduces new titles and thoughts about old favourites and I always head to my library’s website after finishing an episode. I love it.
  •  a new cookbook called Date Night In. We’ve already declared this the year of date nights at home (hello new baby!) and this book is tailored made for that purpose. Ashley has done all the work of planning out menus, timelines and shopping lists because as a mother of three she knows the reality of making date nights work. It’s a beautiful book with essays about their marriage that made me tear up, more then just post partum emotions. She’s from Seattle and for the personality geeks, Ashley shares the same Ennegram as me which was super fun. I can’t wait to start cooking from this book.
  • a new (to me) Netflix show, I have become enamoured with Gilmore Girls. It hits the sweet spot of an engaging story without too much of anything and is the perfect companion to evening nursing sessions. I also want coffee every time I hear the opening music.

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  • a family book club– I love the idea of focused reading as an addition to our homeschool and was delighted when Jessica approached me about joining in this endeavour. Each month has a theme and three books to read along for various age groups. The titles are great and I’m excited to explore along with my girls through reading. Join in on discussions, reviews and activities with our Facebook group . I’ll be posting more about this in the months to come
  • hoodies, leggings and top knots, I would never leave the house in this uniform but for cozy days around home, comfy clothes that fit my post baby body and make me feel somewhat pulled together make me happy.
  • coffee and chocolate – coffee always makes any short list of happiness but right now I’m especially enjoying a hot mug of husband made coffee. I had gestational diabetes during my pregnancy and it was challenging. I’m enjoying being able to eat sweets again and not think about every morsel of food I put in my mouth.

I’d love to hear what things are adding a little extra sparkle to your days!

 

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Hello. From the Other Side

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Hello. It’s me. I hope you’re doing well. When I started my blogging hiatus in November, I didn’t think I’d be gone this long and even now, I’m just taking a break from snuggling my littlest one to share our news here.

Kieran Donovan Piper joined our family on January 7, just before midnight. He’s healthy and my happiest baby yet. We’re all so in love and delighting in everything newborn and tiny. The girls can’t stop kissing him and saying how adorable he is. My heart is healing in little newborn kisses and tiny fingers wrapped around mine. I’m so grateful.

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We’re finding our way as a family of five and so thankful for the tremendous support from our families and friends. Both of our moms have flown across the country to love on us through stocking our freezer and pedicures and schooling the girls and hot cups of teas. The winter’s storms haven’t seemed so hard this year but rather an invitation to slow down and savour this fleeting season.

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Someday, sooner then later, I’ll write more and share more of our everyday extraordinary stories on the blog but for now I’ll be soaking up these first weeks with my little man.

Thanks for sharing in all our news, friends, and being part of this lovely community!

XO, Breanne

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