Sparrow in the Tree Top

find your song and sing it

In Memory

Family, HEARTEmily KellyComment

Families are a beautiful, messy creation aren't they? Sometimes you can't picture life without them, and then other times you find yourself taking a trip across the ocean just to get away from them. Of course, the minute you meet someone in your travels, your stories circle back to where you come from: of the crazy things you have done with your sister or brother, of the trips you have taken with your mom and dad.... of the summers you spent running around the fields behind your cousin's house; about the time you had to be on the end of the chain of hands linked together conducting a current from the electric cattle fence. Ours is no different; held together by stories and ties so strong that my cousin and I have often shared similar dreams. Not the kind of dreams of "we-both-want-to-grow-up-to-be-doctors" type dreams (though we did), but actual non-lucid dreams, wayyyy past REM type dreams. 

A few years ago my cousin (one of my dad's brother's daughters) won a contest for "best smile" on her local radio station (and truly, I can attest, she does have the best smile).  We've always been more like best friends then cousins and I was SO excited when she took me as her "plus one" to Orlando Florida for the prize winning trip in which we were to compete in the Guinness Book of World Records smile competition for most people smiling in one place at one time. While we were there we both woke one morning on the "proverbial" wrong side of the bed. After tip-toeing around each other one of us confessed "I'm sorry I'm so grouchy; I had a bad dream about my dad last night." To which the other replied "no way. I had a bad dream about my dad too." That was in 2010. In 2013 my dad suffered a massive heart-attack and double-bi-pass surgery. A year later my Uncle Dave was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. Last night after two years of treatments and trying every avenue under the sun, Uncle Dave joined my Grandma and Grandpa and one of his older brothers in heaven.

I feel compelled to sit here and write today because my heart is broken. I ache for more time with our complete family together - to have it the way it once was, to relive all of our gatherings all over again. And because I need people to know what my uncle lived: life is best in the moments that strike you as ordinary; the sharing of a glass of wine, of catching up on a couch in a sun porch, a good steak dinner, a sing along at fake Christmastime in November because that's when we could get everyone together in the spirit of holiday. To him, family was everything and to his family, he was a pillar and a rock. I'm swept in my own grief which I know is only a portion of what my cousins and my aunt are staring down today. 

When we were 11, maybe 12, my cousin and I lay in bed together as we so often did when we got the chance to visit each other on March break or summer holidays, talking and chatting and sharing life stories. I remember saying to her, "Keelan, I think we can only feel real joy when there's pain in the world." I'm not sure if that was something I thought up on my own, or if I heard it somewhere, but all these years later, it has stuck with me. Something I've admittedly had a hard time buying into - but nevertheless it doesn't make it any less true: When life is very very joyful, it makes the pain of loss that much more unbearable. But we only get the joy because we've felt that pain; because we've had to let go of someone we love. 

I have to tell you what kind of man my Uncle was. 

When I was just finishing University I was living with my Cousin in Waterloo and working in a town about half-an-hour away, commuting in an awful K-car that should have been taken off the road years beforehand. The amount of times that my uncle came and rescued me off of a curb that summer are embarrassing to admit to. Showing up with coolant in one hand he took my keys off me and climbed into the tiny car and drove it with me following in his car to the nearest Canadian Tire to have the head gasket patched for ... the fourth, fifth time. Uncle Dave was tall and he looked ridiculous driving that thing but he dropped what he was doing to rescue me - and so many other people in his life so many times over. Because people were the most important to him. People, and then animals, and then much much later: material stuff. Need a garden planted for your back-yard wedding? Yep he and my aunt will be there. Your dad's in the hospital after having a heart attack? Guess who's first to show up and take you out to dinner to ease your worried minds? Uncle Dave and Aunt Muggs. There are too many examples to point to. The take-away here folks is that as Ernest Hemingway said best, we all perish, but it's how we live that separates us from one another. 

He was the life of the party which I'm happy to say, lives on in my cousins. As little kids, all of us cousins would pile into one bedroom with our sleeping bags, resting our heads on our pillows as we lay on the floor above the kitchen below. Do you know how happily we would drift off to sleep listening to the ruckus of our parent's laughter rising up through the floor boards?  As we got older and became adults ourselves, so many gatherings starting on a Friday night when the convoy of my cousins and aunt and uncle arrives on your doorstep, to the Sunday morning when, holding your head, you stand in the driveway and wave good-bye to their car beeping as it leaves town again.

One time our families were "making merry" and my Uncle and I decided to put some of those President's Choice hors d'oeuvres in the oven for a bit of a midnight snack for everyone. (Do you know the ones I'm talking about?) What we didn't realize at the time was that the oven was already on and in our hastiness, we turned it OFF. Of course the group of us forgot the snack anyway as the evening surged on, but when we were cleaning up in the morning, my uncle comes running out of my sister's kitchen with the tray of melted and gooey appetizers in hand laughing and giggling at our failed attempt the night before. Honestly to share a party with my Uncle Dave was a treasured experience because he truly embraced your company and loved you for the time you were spending together.

On Monday night my husband was shushing me as he read a text on his phone, and he spontaneously broke out into a daffy duck impression to quiet me down.

"That's weird," I said to him. "I've never heard you make a Daffy Duck impression before!"

"I know," he said. "I don't think I ever have!"

It took me aback because my Uncle did the best Daffy Duck. 

One summer when my cousins and Aunt and Uncle were visiting we were all startled from our positions in the house by a loud "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH." Coming from the back yard. We rushed outside to see Uncle Dave walking away from our pool with an empty jug of chlorine in hand. 

"What?" He said to us. "I just shocked the pool." Dad jokes abound.

These are some of the memories of my Uncle - the man who cleaned up my vomit from the back seat of his Astro Van when my motion sickness got the better of me, the man who reamed my cousin and I out for our "Cosmo" Magazines when we were much to young to be reading them, who cared about our eternal salvation and about our earthly well-being. Make you happy, make you rich in love; that's what my uncle set out to do and everyone around him knows this to be true. 

There is no doubt in my mind that my uncle is in heaven right now. Most likely joined by his beloved Irish setter Paddy, and his spaniels Riley and Finnegan. He has found God's grand piano, and he's playing the most beautiful piece of music that he wrote for all of us. And the next time we gather and laugh really hard, we'll be able to hear it. This isn't something I'm comforting myself by saying; this is my belief. And I know he felt it too. It's a scary process this life, but my Uncle lived by an example of Faith and has left so many people around him in awe of his courageous ability to put his Trust in things that are not of this world, in the one who breathes life into us.

Friends, if you put your kids to bed early every night and you shy away from staying over at your sibling's house for fear of wrecking your "routine" please don't: Please pack their pyjamas and stay up late and let your kids be together. Let them be silly and goofy and awake until midnight. Take turns going back into the room and give fake "warnings": "I said it's time to SLEEP." And then go back and join the other adults and know these are the nights they will cling to when they're older. If you used to visit with your brothers and sisters but you just don't have time any more, please reconsider. If there's distance, if you've got your own priorities, if it "seems like" money's too tight to make a trip to visit, just remember, the "good old days" are now. They are today, they were this past weekend. They can be this weekend, too. But don't stop and wait for that gathering one day- get together here and now, put your phone down, and visit and be present with one another. 

So hold a Christmas in November with your extended family, show up at your brother-in-law's house with a steak dinner in a cooler and ask to use the BBQ. Look your nieces and nephews in the eye and ask them how they're doing. Give humongous bear hugs when you say hello and when you leave someone's house, for crying out loud honk your horn and wave like that's the last time you'll ever see them. Life is busy and complicated but my Uncle showed us how families are made; not even necessarily by blood, but by the ties that you bind together, moment by moment, memory over memory. 

Life Lately

SnapshotsEmily KellyComment

Hello and welcome to my germ infested, messy, teething corner of the world. In today's episode, let's get up at 5 am and try to make it through the day! ;) We've been having just a grand old time over here; I think it started on Friday at about 7 pm when we got the call for a recalled, Hep. A infected package of Very Cherry Berry Blend from Costco (you know, the one I ate almost entirely on my own, with the exception of a smoothie or two for mike and a few strawberries for June.) I'm pretty sure we're in the clear since we finished the bag in the middle of February, but there's nothing like a food recall to plant some sort of worry in the back of your mind. The frustrating thing about food recalls and scares about contamination are they make you feel so powerless. Like, how do you every really know if something is safe? You're buying it (and it was organic too!) and hoping and trusting the source, but obviously situations like this are going to happen when food is produced on such a huge scale. It just goes to show you and reinforce how awesome it is to plant, grow and cook your own food.

And from there, the weekend spiralled more or less; June is getting two more teeth, making that a total of 8 teeth in 10 months. I consider that to be a lot (just me?!) and basically an inhumane amount to put on a little one. I guess at this rate we'll have them all done and over with soon enough, but seriously, in the meantime let's talk about coping strategies for both her and I please because baby girl is taking it out on me, which I guess from her perspective that probably makes sense, I just wish we could press a fast-forward button and skip through the painful parts of growing up. But I'm writing that and knowing it's ludicrous; of course growing is going to hurt. Of course there is going to be pain and messiness. Somedays I'm so aware that raising a baby is is one huge metaphor for the larger lessons in life like "you have to suffer through the painful moments to make the joyful ones count." Doesn't make it any easier at the time, but I'm sure you get where I'm coming from.

So, in addition, I'm fighting off a second sinus infection (the second in 3 months!) which to be honest I'm used to at this point I've had so many in my life (WHY?!) but when they happen in succession like this, it makes me feel like I'm never going to be sprightly and light on my toes ever again. I'm not trying to sound like a whiner, it's just a pattern I wish I could really break. (Also, I'll be rocking June to sleep (which because of the teething, is a lot easier then it sounds) and have to let out a massive series of sneezes. And I'm looking around wanting to use my best "THE BABY IS ALMOST ASLEEP" mother-stare on someone, but it's just me, only me.) We're trying to make the best of things, taking quick walks to the park and exploring the grass and sticks (and also random pieces of garbage that for some reason, my baby makes a bee-line towards ... please don't litter! ;) ) And since we were up with the birds this morning, we popped out for an extra early breakfast, as you do. Mike has also been cooking up a storm, on his own quest to eat better. Since he's been feeling better the past couple weeks he started a new gym routine and has been making us some delicious home-cooked meals. If I've said it once before, I'll say it again, how amazing is it to have a man who loves to cook?! We <3 you Mike!

I'm also trying to put together my first home party with Younique which is exciting for me!! (Pictured above, selfie with my favourite lip colour right now, BSI (before sinus infection) ;) And I've been finding some happy "well get through this week" moments with planning my garden. I drove by my plot the other day and it was a grey day but I'm seeing so many beautiful summer evenings plodding away between our rows of veggies. Ain't no Hep. A outbreak gonna start on my turf! ;)

This week we're taking it one day at a time until my nose is better and until those teeth pop through! I hope you all are less 

By the Sea!

TravelEmily KellyComment
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We got back from South Carolina at the end of last week and I've been sifting through all the photos and video Mike and I took collectively of our trip since. I think I went a little overboard in the name of "this is our first vacation together as a family." This is the dilemma of modern day parenting, am I right? So many digital files to save properly... and to remember that we'll probably regret it big time if we don't print them out and have memories saved in albums as well! So I've been methodically picking and choosing and trying to get our digital life in order... which is easier said then done at this point. But when I was making this video I re-watched the ones I had made of family gatherings last Fall and June is SO little. And I am so grateful I made them! 

As luck would have it, we picked an excellent time to travel down South. The whole week we were away, the weather turned absolutely miserable in Ontario - as in 15 cm of snow in one day type of miserable. And if you live in this part of the world, you'll understand what I mean when I say that the last few weeks of relentless "Spring is never coming" type of weather, can actually be the hardest of the winter. Mother nature really makes us work for it. So yes. It helped immensely to slip away into the land of ACTUAL Spring for a few days, even if we did come home to SNOW :|

We were staying with Mike's parent's who rented out a place in Surfside which is down the beach from Myrtle. Surfside is a gorgeous place to stay! It's a collection of beautiful beach houses - and from what I understand, the off-season is a great time to go in terms of rates and also weather that isn't scorching and doesn't make you melt. And who are we kidding, for us Ontarians, "off-season" was PLENTY warm (Side note: When you travel somewhere relatively warm, there is no "off-season" when you come from in Ottawa). It was us + the surfers who were brave enough to wade into the water because in our minds it was balmy. 

The beach in this area is just gorgeous. Honestly I don't know what I expected but I didn't think I'd fall in love with Myrtle Beach. But there you have it; the Sea is just as inviting as all the poets and great writers have said it is. We took a walk every morning with June in the backpack and she fell asleep so fast each time. It was pretty special because we haven't had "naps" like that in a long time and it also reminded me how great it is to carry your baby around :)

There are really too many highlights to pick just a few. But if I had to, I'd say I fell in love with seeing June look out the plane window (the travel part was really not as bad as I thought it would be by the way!), seeing her pick up the sand in her fingers, and just spending time with Mike and his parents was really so special. I love seeing them with June and it's great to just sit around and spend time talking and visiting with them. I seriously won the in-law lottery (And I'm not just saying that because I know they read this ;) 

OH. and the giant crab I found. That was pretty amazing too. He was all washed up on the shore so a lady from New Jersey and I helped him back into the sea! I'd like to think he wasn't caught by a local fisherman and made someone's dinner (though I don't dispute just how DELICIOUS.) 

All in all, so many great "first vacation memories" that we'll have to tell June about some day. I keep hearing her someday little voice asking me "about the first time she flew on an airplane." 

It's a lot of work to take a "vacation" with a baby - in fact, let's be honest, it's not really something you come home "refreshed" from - well you are happy for the change of pace and scenery so renewed in that sense, but refreshed as in not tired, no. BUT looking at our pictures and putting this video together reminded me that being tired is fleeting and that it's so worth it to put the time in together. We're not going to remember the fact that we stepped out of rhythm for her nap or bedtime schedule for a few days, or that she was cranky on the airplane on the way home, but we will remember the stuff in-between; the toes in the ocean, the conversations and the sound of the waves at night. I got home and I could still feel the pull of the surf on my feet. 

Anyway, I just wanted to say that - that sometimes being a mom with little sleep is grating, but that's really just a blip in the storyline of us (more for my own sense of recall the next time I resist change or breaking from routine!)

I hope everyone has a great weekend!! Having spent an entire paragraph complaining about the weather, I'll say for the record that it actually does look like it's going to be a good one so; cynical comments on Spring retracted!

Other family highlight videos on my youtube channel!

 

Getting Ready to Plant!

around the house and cityEmily KellyComment
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While we did just wake up to snow on Monday, I'm remaining optimistic that Spring WILL come at some point to our relentlessly winter corner of the world (I'm being dramatic because this year wasn't even that bad), if only for the fact that my seeds arrived in the mail last week! I love it when you get home from a vacation to a deluge of the good kind of mail! If you've been reading along for awhile you'll have heard me mention the fact that this summer we're embarking on a new adventure! We've rented out a garden plot a few kilometres from our home and really, it's been one of those strings of excitement I've been hanging on to all winter long! And I think I got sidetracked by the crumby start to April we've been having because the season is seriously SO close I can almost smell the dirt! 

^^^posing and she knows it ;)

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Finally getting outside!! ^^

It's a really, really awesome thing that some cities have started to flourish with community gardens (have started to or always have and now it's just becoming more trendy? I can't decide the difference nor do I care the reason; I'm just happy that gardening in a city is a "thing" right now!). I can't emphasize enough how great it is to be able to have the opportunity to plant even if you live in an urban centre. It's good for communities, it's good for your health, it's good for your family's health; there is seriously not one bad thing to say about staying connected to your food supply chain and growing food locally. Ottawa has a great urban food and sustainable farming movement called Just Food and I don't know why it's taken me so long to take the plunge myself and rent out a plot of my own. I mean, it's essentially one of the very first things I started this blog to write about! There are community gardens all over the city including smack dab in the middle of down-town, but since we basically already live on the outskirts, my plot is in a field in the middle of nowhere so I'm looking forward to having my "I need to be in the countryside" button scratched! ;) It's funny because I actually saw the sign for available space a year ago last Fall when we started driving to our midwife appointments while I was just pregnant with June! I really wanted to rent one out last summer but since I had my hands "pretty tied up" with a new baby, it was probably a rational decision to wait until this year (there you go Mike, you we're right; i said it for the record!!) Anyway, I've been talking about it for the better part of a year and a half now so, yay!! SO excited that planting season is creeping up on us! 

One day I really want some land of our own, but for now, this is a great exchange! The owner of the land includes tilling and turning of the soil in the Spring and in the Fall which is excellent because I don't have space for my rototiller in our semi-detached home ;) In my opinion, it's a great deal for the amount we are paying for the space (which even comes with some shed space to store your tools which will help me not drive Mike nuts leaving stray spades and hoes in the trunk of our car all summer long!) Plus it will be great to talk to other people who have been planting for years before. I have some experience but it's so great to get to know people and hear their tips and tricks to combatting things like potato bugs over plot lines. 

We ordered seeds from Vesseys Seeds, a Canadian company out of Prince Edward Island and I obviously went a bit overboard (when do I not?) and got basically enough for a small 3 acre farm. But no matter. This year is about experimenting and getting out hands dirty. We went with a full spectrum of veggies from the salsa basics (Roma tomatoes, green peppers and onions) to winter squash, potatoes and swiss chard to those tiny little pumpkins that I think June is just going to LOVE. 

Look our Garden! We're coming for ya!

If you are interested in reading about our previous adventures in the garden you can start with these posts here!

 

 

Charleston, South Carolina

TravelEmily KellyComment
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When we were in South Carolina last week, we took a day trip and drove down to Charleston where the flowers are in full on bloom and the sun shines all day long (at least it did for us!) and ok, it is such an incredibly beautiful city! The whole time we were there, I kept looking around and repeating like a broken record, "there is so much COLOUR here." The weather was perfect; warm enough for no sweaters, sunny enough that you wouldn't burn. And our entire walk around the old city streets was accented by the smell of the nearby sea. There are many dark things about the past in the South (and unfortunately some stuff in the news lately. What's up with that!?) but let's be honest, if someone gave me a one way ticket and said, go and make your home in Charleston, I would take it (and ok I'll take my family with me too :) ) In fact, as we were driving I turned to Mike and said to him honestly that if he got me a house with a big veranda in South Carolina, I would write my best selling novel. And I will remain true to that. ;)

After a long greuling car ride with our darling Juney who decided she hates the carseat again (we thought we had outgrown that but alas, we did not), we arrived in town a bit weathered - gold star goes to Mike's Dad who drove our caravan with nerves of steel (i can still hear the protesting!). We were thrown for a loop by the most bizarre parking metre system I've ever seen; you literally stuff money in a slot in a box on the lot, corresponding to the number on the curb in front of your car. We still have no clue how they know how long you are parked there for but scouts honour, we were trustworthy visitors and left the required amount!

We spent the day wandering the pretty little streets; down rainbow row to the ocean side, exploring the little alleyways along the way. We didn't wade into the Pineapple fountain but we did let Juney get a bit wet in another fountain closeby. I think my favourite part of the city is Rainbow Row - like I said I can't get enough of the colour everywhere!! 

Definitely so happy we had the chance to visit and hopefully we get to go back again someday! I feel like we only just scraped the surface. And really it's not fair that we only had room for one meal; I have a feeling the foodie scene is vast and I still haven't had my real "Southern BBQ."! It's important to have goals though ;) 

Some (ok a massive amount) of pictures below!

See what I mean about the blooms?! Not even just a little one here and there, but full on SPRING. And it made my heart so happy yes it did <3

We had lunch at Magnolia's; and I think it's a pretty novel place to go because I've talked to two other people since coming back and they both also ate at there when they visited. Amazing Southern style food with modern twists. I had the crab cakes on collard greens and it was delicious and we all had the crab bisque and without any hesitation Mike dubbed it the best soup he's ever had in his life. ever. He doesn't often make those sweeping sort of statements so if you're in Charleston, go and have the crab bisque at Magnolia's; you won't be disappointed ;)

Charleston you are picture perfect! Thank-you for your wonderful nooks and crannies! We'll be back again someday!

 

 

 

Let's talk about make-up

Virginia GlowEmily KellyComment
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Hi there! I'm still sitting by the sea but it's got me all dreamy about future creative plans and life so I thought I'd strike while the iron was hot (so to speak!) More on visiting Charleston and traveling with a wee babe who (s.t.i.l.l) hates the car seat when we get back- but first; make-up! 

Last Fall I began to notice that the whole no sleep thing was catching up with me. I've never been a huge make-up wearer and I tend to stick to lipsticks and eye make-up, but when you hit a certain age, AND you throw in 6-8 months of sleepless nights, I think that's when you start to notice it on your face. That, coupled with the fact that I spent most of my 20's outside working in the sun, helped lead me to one meltdown of a morning when last November when I was all of a sudden aware that I was looking my age... Or older 😭 aging isn't a big deal- i like that I'm older and wiser (in some respects ;) ) and I don't have to justify my decisions and let's be honest, my desire to sit on my couch on a Friday night, BUT, I also don't want to stop taking care of myself or give up on trying new things, just because I'm getting older. 

All this to say, I wanted to try something new, to put some effort into myself and to branch out of my comfort zone.  

Enter my friend at the right place and right time. She was having an online Younique make-up party and I thought since I was already planning on "project stop feeling sorry for yourself Emily", why not support her, instead of head to Sephora? I ended up buying a skin care package and I was in LOVE with the new routine I was working into my day. I'd never used toner or face wash, and I had been using Mike's neutrogena for men moisturizing cream! I'm not just saying this (honestly!) but after a month of using the skin care items, I noticed such a huge difference. The weird part was it wasn't just in how I thought I looked, it was in how I felt. I felt oddly more confident and excited about "getting ready for the day." After getting hooked on the skin care products, I really wanted to try out some of the lipsticks and other make-up, so I signed up with Younique as a presenter and launched my own Facebook group party (because why not earn free stuff if you are just going to buy it anyway!). I found myself having so much fun trying out new things and looks, and now, I really want to keep it going. 

So this is why all of a sudden I've been posting make-up-y type things. I know it's uncharacteristic of me - or it used to be - and I know, I know its direct sales and that can come across as all "what's the catch" ... But really, there is no catch! It's just like how they say, you have to try out a few different careers in your life - and while this isn't a career change, for me it's a COMPLETE change of outlook! So if you are interested in joining my VIP group, I'd love to have you! Let me know! And if you want to check out my business link you can go to www.virginiaglow.com (named it after June bug!)

This is advance warning of sorts that I'll be integrating some make-up stuff into this blog and rebranding things a bit over the coming weeks. I'm going to keep up with my writing and fitness stuff, but I'd like to add in a bit of Virginia Glow as well :) I hope you don't mind coming on this journey with me. I'm super pumped about where it can take me and just for new projects and life outlooks and to be honest I'm pretty grateful for the opportunity to find out these sorts of things about myself through Younique. 

here are some of the videos I've put together already for my VIP group. I know I already posted one of them here a few weeks ago, but I'll put it here now in case you missed it! If you like, you can subscribe to my YouTube channel! look at me being all "blogger" converted to multi-platform artist ;) finally putting all my journalism video editing classes to good use! Hey! If not now, when! 

Hello From South Carolina!

TravelEmily KellyComment
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We found the sun!! We're in South Carolina visiting mike's parents and I just talked to my sister who's back home where it's minus 19 (Celsius!) Since its plus nineteen here, we really know how to pick 'em! 

June was the best little traveller we could have asked for. She just jumped both feet first into "let's forget our nap schedule" and rocked out with us like a happy little clam until 9 pm last night. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous to travel with her. I know everyone does it, and lives to tell the story, but there are pieces of me deep in the recesses of my soul that are seriously scarred from our earlier car ride days; back when the crying didn't stop and the 3 hour ride felt more like... 6 hours. But! The plane ride was as smooth as you can expect with an almost 10 month old who's just itching to walk; she spent the entire two hour flight picking things up off the floor and then putting them in the seat between the two of us. We had a layover and delayed flight in Toronto and we even managed to score and illicit stroller nap! (What the what!) which has happened a total of two times before so this little lady gets an a plus plus for letting me have complimentary cookie and cappuccino in the Porter lounge. (Love that Porter!!) So all in all, i know it pays to step outside your comfort zone! Sometimes you just need a bit of encouragement to get there :) 

And man. So worth it. Right now I can hear the sea rolling up the shore outside my window. And the sun on my face is glorious. We're just so grateful for a little change of pace after what hasn't been "the longest winter ever" but one that we definitely needed a bit of a boost to put safely behind us. We stepped out of the airplane onto the warm and sunny tarmack and both of us looked at each other wondering; why do we live where we do again? Why do we consent to living somewhere where a deep freeze strikes at the beginning of April!? I know we'll be happy to get home but sometimes I'm reminded about how far a little sunshine goes in lifting your spirits <3 

Next up: copious amounts of seafood and more surf! I brought my running shoes and I'm eyeing up a beach run or two! 

I hope everyone back home is staying warm and keeping the faith! Spring (and summer!) are just around the corner!

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Pretty sure 95% ^^^ that this is Prince Edward County! Was watching for it our entire flight from Ottawa to Toronto - those beaches are kinda unmistakable!  

Pretty sure 95% ^^^ that this is Prince Edward County! Was watching for it our entire flight from Ottawa to Toronto - those beaches are kinda unmistakable!  

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Shoes off immediately.  

Shoes off immediately.  

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Best of March

FamilyEmily KellyComment
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This month, more than any other month we've spent together in the past year, has gone by at warp-neck speed. I sat down to go over some other house-keeping stuff and I was seriously floored that tomorrow is April 1 (ugggghhh tax season!). Where does time go? Why do I feel like we're in a barrel, rolling down an incline that just keeps getting steeper? 

This month has been snow melting, and then falling again (it never fails; we ALWAYS seem to get that last "GOT'CHYA" snowstorm in March!). It has been talking about our health, and how important it is to us. And on that note, it has been about prioritizing; in realizing and honing in on the things that are most important in life; in finding the sore-bruised spots in my personality that are cloaked in pride, and not knowing where to put them. In learning slowly how to push that stuff aside. I'm weakest when I'm looking far ahead to the future - always so desperate to have every single stepped laid out in front of me. Day-to-day, I second guess myself, thinking success or titles should be driving me, but then I sit back on my heels and hold my arms out to June as she is just starting to take those first steps, or I lay on the ground and have her immediately come over from where ever she is playing, and paw at me. And as she pulls my hair and looks at the strands in her fingers, or wavers and stumbles and falls face first into my chest, before pulling back and looking up at me with a sense of determination and pride in everything she's learning in that moment, and I'm reminded, no- convicted that life is in this fabric that is now. It's not in future plans, or past achievements; it's now, it's this. It's being a the best mother I can be, which on some days is only operating at 50%, and that's OK too. I am very certain, more in this month then ever before, that "Mother" is just the most awesome title. 

I've spent a lot of time looking at what I want for us as a family; on who I'm supposed to be in this super competitive world when sometimes it seems like we're supposed to be ALL things for ALL people. I don't want to spend the next 20 years of motherhood, driving myself into the ground trying to be everything.  I want to do a few things - the important things - really well. It's not a lot to ask, but I have to admit, I've found it hard to loosen my grip on prideful goals that can distract me. So that's been my March; narrowing it down, focusing in, prioritizing and trying to quiet all that extra noise that tends to get in the way of the things in life that can really make you happy. 

Which is to say, it's just been an awesome month. The sort of month a girl can really get some thinking done in :) Man I do love Spring. SO much to be thankful for at this time of year <3 Growth!

Here are some of my favourite moments we've had along the way! 

A Video Blog: Life With Cliff Vol. 1

Cliff the PuppyEmily KellyComment

If we're friends on Facebook, you might have caught this video I posted over the weekend on youtube. I don't usually do this VLOG sort of thing, but it stands to reason that if I'm going to really convey to you what goes down in our car with Cliff, as we approach the trail near our house, you need to witness it for yourself. 

Cliff is just an all around excellent dog; he's super gentle with June, he loves lounging with us on the weekends, he's just your top of the line, man's best friend sort of dog. We love him and he's a member of our family. But Cliff, he just can't keep his emotions in check when we get anywhere near the trail for a walk. It's hard to go there as a family because he gets so beside himself he scares June, but we decided to brave it anyway on the weekend. It was too nice out not to. Plus we just LOVE the look of joy on his face when he is running through the woods. 

Side note: there's also a dog park that Mike just refuses to take Cliff to any longer. He's showed up before, only to have the entire park of dog-owners with their dogs stare at him as he parks the car, because Cliff is barking like there's a bloody murder going down inside our Subaru. If there's no other dogs there, it's no big deal; likewise, he's able to meet other dogs when he's on the trail or in the park, no problems! It's the being confined in the car, not being allowed to immediately teleport himself into nature that gets him all kinds of anxious. 

In summation, this is our life with Cliff. (Vol. 1.)

Happy trails and thanks for watching!

ps. should I do more of this kind of thing? I actually had a lot of fun taking/making this video!  

Easter Weekend!

HEARTEmily KellyComment
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Well hello there! I hope everyone had an amazing Easter Weekend. We are (luckily) still enjoying another day off; it's raining here and it feels nice to not have to go anywhere or do anything in particular. And the weather was SO gorgeous here yesterday that I've got no objections to the rain today! Easter is quickly becoming my favourite holiday - I love the fact that little signs of SPRING are showing up everywhere. We wear sweaters instead of puffy jackets now (with the exception of that lovely Spring Storm we had late last week!), and yesterday June got to sit in the grass at the park for the first time since last Fall. She loved picking up sticks and turning them over in her hand, examining them and then having me pry them out of her mouth. We're heading to South Carolina to sit on the beach next week and I'm pretty sure this will translate into June eating sand and me trying to swipe her mouth for foreign objects. But hey! It will be sunny and warm and we'll be next to the sea which beats doing it in my living room or the park around the corner! 

I just love that this is a season of re-birth. Of all things new; of all the best that is yet to come. We haven't had a particularly bad season, just a few roadblocks here and there. Mike's been dealing with some health issues (nothing too serious, just nagging) and I feel like I've been using the past few months to percolate on where I go from here. What's my role as a mother? What kind of job am I looking for in the future? That kind of stuff. Nothing is crystal clear as of yet, but at the same time it doesn't feel as unsettling as it once did. I'm feeling a lot more content in my position. I'm starting to just roll with the punches, which, if you know me personally is not something I've always been able to do easily in life (my family gave me the nickname "worry wart" as a kid and I've never really been able to shake the title!) so these are great strides people! Me saying "I'm ready for change" is a huge accomplishment. Anyway, all this to say, we are ready for the next season in life. Ready to shake off the winter months and ready to jump into new things! 

We tried to get a few family photos when we were in our Sunday best on the weekend. Of course there was about 1.5 when we were all actually looking at the camera. We have no problem taking photos and capturing memories, but when it comes to a picture with the three (or four of us when you try to get Cliff in the mix!) of us, it's seriously a ridiculous undertaking. June doesn't sit still for much of anything these days (except for maybe the Elmo Song) but we bribed her and let her bite down on the hard plastic egg containers for the duration of this photo shoot. 

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Ironically there is a pile of dishes to do and laundry to tackle and yet we use our free time during nap to do this ^^ worthit. 

If you actually want to get Cliff in the picture he lays down; and then pops up if you aren't begging him to sit in position. 

A Whole New World

BabyEmily KellyComment
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I've started to learn that when we're on the brink of a really big change, things get a bit hairy around here. Case in point: Juney is days away from taking off on two feet and we've been pretty miserable in the process. There's a lot of not wanting to be put down and just general "I'm not happy with life at the moment" sort sounds coming from my little Boopty-boo (does anyone else's kid do this? The general moaning sound when they are just not pleased that you aren't holding them?) It's when I start double-checking her forehead for a temperature (because if she's this out of sorts she MUST be coming down with something) that it clicks somewhere in the back of my head, like, oh yea, we went through this already when she got all those teeth, when she started to crawl, when she started to sit up; every big milestone seems to be accompanied by fussiness (not pictured here). So it's been a bit of a week but I'm trying to keep in mind that there is a whole new world around the corner. I'm thinking this is probably something that never goes away, and will be good information to tuck into my mom-filing cabinet brain. I bet unsettled/fussy/moody behaviour will just be part and parcel of big changes. I'll get back to you in 20 years and let you know if my theory holds true ;)

Brooklyn Inspired St. Paddy's Day

SnapshotsEmily KellyComment

Ah. St. Patrick's Day. The years when you hit the pub at 11 am with your friends. When you had a bunch of strangers in your house drinking green beer and eating green pancakes (this actually happened in University). The days of that. Fast-forward about 5 or 6 (... ok 10) years and here we are! I'm doing make-up demos in my bathroom during nap time! ;) But with all honesty, I'm super happy to be where I am right now. I wouldn't have it any other way.... in fact, it's going to be hard to convince me to do it any other way! (Still trying to figure out if/when I'm going to go back to work!!) 

Anyway, I don't have much time left before the sleeping baby wakes (and if this crazy March 17th thunderstorm has anything to do with it, it's going to be much sooner then I've anticipated) but i wanted to share a little of what I've been up to! 

I honestly went into my closet this morning to find something green to wear but because I "Marie Kondo'ed" my wardrobe this past year, the picking is kind of slim... so I decided to improvise and threw together a little Brooklyn inspired look! This was seriously one of my favourite movies of the year (I can NOT believe it didn't win any Academy Awards! What was the Academy THINKING?!) Saoirse Ronan is basically the epitome of what I think an Irish girl should look like, so I tried to channel her in my make-up, hair and then I did the best I could in finding a dress that suited the look! 

What do you think? Does it work!? 

I hope everyone is enjoying their day and you feel the luck of the Irish, where ever you are <3

Sunny Days Ahead!

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Can I just say how much I'm looking forward to our trip down South? We're heading out at the end of the Month for a week and I cannot (CANNOT) wait for a little sun in my face and sea water in my hair. You know I need the sun when Mike is looking at a picture of me and exclaims "Gosh you are white!" - I'm not offended. And I probably should consider the fact that I'll be wearing shorts and you know, maybe shave my legs! I'm horrible at that during the winter :| Either way, it's all part of the process of welcoming the season ;) 

I love this time of year for feeling creative. I think it's the Spring weather that's starting to uncover the ground - and I love the smells of wetness and just the feeling that we've got the WHOLE spring and summer to look forward to. I get so giddy thinking about it! I bought a splash suit for Juney and I can't wait to see her toddle around in puddles while she's wearing it! Speaking of which - guess who took two steps on the weekend?! It's true. I am so so proud. Also so so scared. Life is about to get that much more hazardous I'm thinking. Right now we get a few minutes of reprieve after she wakes up in the morning because she'll sit and play happily in her play pen beside our bed. I'm wondering how much longer we'll be able to keep that up :) How many million times in life will I say "I want her to grow, but why does it have to happen so fast?!"

I'm sitting here typing this and I can actually hear birds chirping outside. I'm probably going to have to stop myself from running out the front door and running around in circles a la Maria Von Trap. We don't have beautiful rolling hills - just a muddy school yard so I'm pretty sure the effect wouldn't be as powerful anyway ;)

Out of Left Field

HEARTEmily KellyComment

Hi everyone!! It's been radio silence because, as per usual, I've gone and spread myself a little thin! For some crazy idea I decided I should become a rep for Younique so I've been running my launch party on the side! Why am I interested in make-up all of a sudden do you ask? Well that would be a very good question! I'm not entirely sure how it happened... there was some mascara, and then some face care products and then the next thing I new I was given a charm as a "White Status Presenter" (you work your way through the colour spectrum apparently...) and here we are. 

Anyway, all kidding aside, I'm having a great time with it! I made a little video to explain in all honesty why I think self-care, especially as we get older, is so so important. 

Anyway. Variety is the spice of life, yes?! And for those of you who have been reading for a long time, you'll be interested perhaps to see my first sort of "Vlog" ever!! 

Hope you guys are having an awesome week so far!


Our Playroom

around my houseEmily KellyComment
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When Mike and I decided to leave downtown and move out to Suburbia 4 years ago, it was a hard decision for us. We loved everything about our life in the faster-paced part of the city. I loved that we could walk to work, dinner, groceries or coffee. And I loved that our street had mature old trees on it. I did not however love the cost of living, the lack of parking situation and the fact that we didn't actually own our own space. Now that we've more or less adjusted to the harsh 360 of a move to the suburbs (although let me tell you, I still have my days!) I see many more benefits to being where we are. This isn't to say that if I won a million dollars I'd not up and change things tomorrow, but I do feel like we've found a happy place in the home we've made ours for the time being. 

I do have to say one of the false conceptions of life in the suburbs is "space." There are huge McMansions out here to be sure. Ours is not one of them. Before June arrived we made a bunch of changes to our house, including moving Mike's office (he works from home) to a corner in the basement (it's finished and pretty bright I promise!) and remodelled our guest bedroom and of course Juney's nursery. We also converted our mainfloor dining room into another sitting room because we found there wasn't enough living space in our main area. When we did this, we got a lot of flack from well-meaning family members who warned us that soon we would be over-run with toys and that June would need a place to keep them. 

I grew up in a house where my room was my kingdom. It's also where I kept my toys. I can honestly say it never occurred to me that we would need a whole extra room to keep toys in. I've awakened to the fact that kids come with toys. They just do. I don't know how they do, but they do. Despite this, I'm not budging on my principle to keep June's room her own. I feel like until that time, even if we had a toy room it wouldn't be used anyway. Don't kids just always find a way to figure out where you are, and then join you? (Like even if you are in the bathroom?) Even now, if I'm in the kitchen making a tea, June will crawl from the living area and find me. So realistically for the time being, it makes sense to me that we use our living room for all purposes. As she gets older and starts playing on her own more, I expect she will use her room more. Until then, I've got no problem breaking the mould and making it a space for all three of us.

We got these amazing interlocking foam tiles which have been one of the best "baby item" investments we've made! I love the fact that they're not toxic and don't stink like plastic! Also they fit in with the living room and if you squint they kinda look like a flat carpet ;) They've been so so great to have as June as learned to squat and pull herself up (resulting in a million and five head bonks... all unavoidable). Having them has allowed her to use the furniture to practice on and now she has learned how to cushion herself if she happens to take a tumble. 

We use some colourful bins from ikea to stash her toys in when were not using the space and I keep a big bin in the corner of our family room in the basement and rotate things out as she gets bored with them... because that happens pretty quickly with kids, yes? Or is it just my baby? :)  If I'm being perfectly honest, the best distraction for June these days is Cliff. He never really leaves her side and now they've started this hilarious game of "I'm gonna hold something up for you to grab (June) and then you take it (Cliff) and I'll chase you (June). It seems to tire both of them out so I'm ok with it :) 

Have a great weekend everyone!! 

Eight Months Old

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I took June's 8 month photos yesterday. We've been about 1/2 a month behind with months 6-8 but I figure if you can still say, "8 months old" then it counts ;) Mike put her on the chair for this picture and she seemed to know the drill, which is either a sign I take way too many pictures of my baby or also that she's getting the hang of being in this world. It's probably a bit early to do this but I couldn't help looking back at months 1-8. I am so so grateful I took these!! I know it's a bit of a cheesy eye roll activity for new moms to do but honestly in 20 years I'm not gonna remember the fear of being a cheesy mom, I'm just going to be thankful I got to see her grow and bloom.  That would be my advice; take all the pictures and all the video (especially get their little sounds on video. We love love love looking back at some early little clips we took of her cooing. You don't get those sounds back!) 

So hi eight months!! You've brought us four new teeth! We are in serious eye-teeth cutting territory these past few days. Poor little is all searching out my coffee table so she can gnaw on the edges - that or the play mat which she rips apart, sticks a piece in her mouth, and then proceeds to crawl around our main floor with. I think the poor kid is modelling herself after Cliff. Not a bad thing since he's such a stand-up canine citizen ;) 

We're also hovering around taking some first steps. I know everyone says "watch out because when they start walking..." but I'm so excited for her. She's been working so hard to get steady! Also if I'm being perfectly honest, it will be a relief not to have her crawling through the dog hair that is a never-ending battle on our floor ;)

Maybe my most favourite part of eight months has been hearing "mama." For the most part it's a random set of sounds that she uses when she's fussing, but last night we were looking in the mirror, brushing our teeth (we always sing the Elmo toothbrush song; she loves) and she looked at my reflection and directly said it. All of these things are amazing but that one tops the list!! 

I didn't get around to a seven month post but here's the picture we took in January:

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Snow Week

Around Ottawa, HEARTEmily KellyComment
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We've finally dug ourselves out of some record breaking snowfall here in Ottawa! On Tuesday we got the most snow in one day ever which was pretty exciting for me. I've been missing our winter weather this year!! Ottawa is typically a really snowy city, but we've had zero snow and so we basically got ALL of our snowfall for the winter in one day. It started around 10 ish in the morning and didn't end until 10 pm. We shovelled a total of four times because as soon as you cleared the driveway, another 2 cm had fallen! It really was crazy. And the funny thing is, after seeing the news of record breaking snow on the East Coast earlier this winter, where things were completely shut down, the only warning I heard here was "drive with extreme caution." (Which ended up being a huge problem because it took commuters HOURS to get home from work.) I was just happy to be stuck inside with my family. 

Juney caught my cold from last week so we've spent most of the week battling that. And then last night I peaked in her mouth and realized in addition to her two top middle teeth, her eye teeth are also coming in. So that makes four teeth in two weeks and now it all makes sense! That teething stuff is no joke. It's so hard to see them in discomfort like that. And it's so nice of nature to erase that period of our life from our own memories ;)

After being cooped up with teeth, a runny nose, and a massive snowstorm, we are basically chomping at the bit to be let out, so bring on the weekend!


When Family Comes

FamilyEmily KellyComment

Yesterday was the "Family Day" holiday and this year we coincidentally had some family from out of town here for the occasion! We're really lucky to live close to Mike's family and whenever I'm out driving around the city, I'm reminded about how I married a true Ottawa boy (his family has been here a couple generations) because all the stories I've learned through him flash through my mind when I see the landmarks. It's not often that you move somewhere and you get to feel like you have roots - but I'm part of all these amazing stories that are being passed down through the generations of Ottawa Kellys. It's pretty cool. Despite this, a part of my heart is stuck in my hometown (I don't think that ever goes away) and I get giddy when my sisters come to visit. 

This past weekend my sister Kelly and my brother-in-law and my niece Sophia made the trek from Toronto with my mom and it was so nice to have them here! Families come in all shapes and sizes and I was reminded how unique ours was this weekend. There's a lot of space between Kelly and I (13 years!) and she left home for University when I was only 6! (<<-- that still blows my mind to think about). They started their families a lot earlier, so my nieces are like sisters to me because we're so close in age; I was 12 when I first became an aunt and then again at 15 and 16! The age gap doesn't really matter so much once you hit 25 and your interests start to overlap, that's what I've found with my sisters anyway. I do feel kind of ancient though when I say "I have a niece who just started University" and "my other niece just started high school.. and the third is about to finish" ... so.... thanks for that sisters. Just remember.. I'll ALWAYS be the youngest ;)

It was SO cold here this weekend & also I was fighting off a sinus infection so I had a Rudolph nose/ zinc covered nose for most of it. I know I've been asking for winter weather (you're welcome everyone!) but I wasn't talking about the kind of weather that stalls cars (ours was stuck in the driveway all weekend because the battery wouldn't start) and burns your teeth. We ended up hibernating for most of it and playing games in our basement but we managed to venture out on Valentine's Day with face masks for a quick bite to eat and some shopping (there are some ridiculous sales going on a Nordstrom right now!) and I got a beautiful dress! Now I just need an occasion :) We took my sister and brother-in-law on a double date to Chez Lucien... our favourite old haunt! It was the first time we'd been back since before Juney was born & as good as I remembered it. All in all, an excellent Valentine's Day. 

Today it's a massive SNOWSTORM in Ottawa though not as cold so we're going a bit Zooey from being stuck in the house. Days like these when I remember how grateful I am to not be commuting! I hope you had a good one with yours <3 and that your Valentine's Day was full of love and just the right amount of winter weather :D

 

 

Four Confessions

FitnessEmily KellyComment
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Hey there! We're back after a long, long weekend on the road. We did four cities in five days and if you know us, you know that we don't exactly *love* travelling just yet (though progress because we did get a new "big girl" carseat and that seems to have appeased the travel beast a tiny little bit. Horary!)

While on the road I did some thinking and I realized I have some things to come clean about. In the interest of keeping this a true blog and not just... I dunno, pictures of my ridiculously cute baby, I have some confessions to make. In early November I started working out at a gym that just opened up around the corner from our place. I've been following the "BBG" (Bikini Body Guide... I know, I know) workout program since then. It's a 12 week High Intensity Interval Training program aimed at building muscle and burning fat through a bunch of short but ridiculous workouts and you can follow along on her APP which is really handy (it's called "Sweat with Kayla" in the APP store). So I'm on week 12 you guys! I made it!! I've seen some incredible improvement in terms of my strength and the way my clothes are fitting. Admittedly I did not follow the diet program because it just seemed too much for me to handle at the time, but now that I'm on Week 12, I'm actually attempting to tackle that part of my lifestyle as well (see below). Anyway, if you are looking to try something new this year, I highly recommend it. I didn't write about it at the time because I'm notorious for not following through on things and I didn't want to just be furious with myself if I didn't stick with it. Now that I'm chugging along ok, I figure why not? I'll try and post some more about the process from this point forward. Obviously 12 weeks is just a small portion of the fitness journey and I've got a long way to go. That's confession number one. 

Confession No. 2: Kayla Itsines, the woman who started and trademarked the programme is fabulous and has built this whole community of people up around each other through social media. I totally broke down and joined up with a fitness Instagram account. It feels silly to be so private about it but it's honestly unnerving to post your progress etc. on the internet, but it really has done wonders for making me stay motivated and keep me accountable. I also didn't really feel like my regular account was a good place to start posting stuff.... I somehow have this crisis of confidence in posting about things like food and fitness etc. even though the rest of the internet doesn't seem to have a problem with it. If you'd like to join my journey, I'm over at @heyfitlove - be warned; pictures of smoothies and selfies in mirrors abound! ;o

Confession No. 3: I started the Whole 30 lifestyle plan. I refuse to call it a diet because I'm pursuing it for a few reasons. First of all, I'm struggling with skin problems. I've had eczema my whole life (I'm so embarrassed of my red bumpy arms!) and now I think I've got the beginning stages of rosacea on my face. In addition to the skin stuff, I've always, always struggled with ear, nose and throat problems; sinus infection after sinus infection, constant stuffiness & gross clearing of my throat.. that kind of thing. I did some research and it seems like the Whole 30 plan offers a way to clear your system of anti-inflammatories and tries to reset the way your body uses sugar. I was a bit concerned it would mess with my milk production (I'm still breast-feeding June) but there's a whole section on that subject and it would appear that I have no excuses (apparently some women even see and INCREASE in production... also she's eating solids like a champ at this point and basically has started weaning herself off during the day).  

Confession No 4: I'm really trying to make an effort to clean myself and my approach to how I take care of myself up this year. At some point in the last 4 months I realized how much of a role model I'm going to be for June.... and she is already such a sponge. So taking care of myself is something I'm taking seriously this year. Eating healthier and taking time to exercise are only a part of it. I've talked about it a bit before as well, but I'm also trying to get out of the sweat pants and make more of an effort to get myself "put together" for the day - so I bit the bullet and ordered an awesome make-up set from my friend who's representing Younique Make-up right now. I had never heard of the product line before (I'm really not plugged in AT ALL so that's not saying much.. I'm sure everyone is much more up to speed then I am!) but in a nutshell it looks amazing and I'm super excited to receive my package. Obviously I can't speak to the product yet but the point is, self love people!

These are my confessions! Please wish me luck with this Whole 30 plan! 

 

Oh Hai!

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I'm not sure when this happened... but suddenly the "play area" is no longer just the play area. It's - let's move around anywhere and everywhere and get into anything that is not toys. Experienced mamas will be just shaking their heads at me thinking, well, of course. And I'm just siting here looking around at how NOT babyproof my house is. I mean, yesterday June climbed three stairs if that's any indication. Oh and the dog food. She almost ate three pieces before I pulled it out of her mouth (and I've been afraid to give her toast for fear of choking...) (In the process of writing this post I've been snap chatting everything she's gotten into if you'd like to see the world through our eyes: @heyemily.anne .)

It's such a strange winter because it honestly feels like Spring is just around the corner the way the snow is melting and the temperature rising. I realized if this is true and we are about to get early spring, that's great news for us because the sooner we can get outside playing, the better. My house is too small to cage this new stage!

I do have to say that I feel a bit renewed. I'm not about to talk about it like it's an honest pattern or anything in case I jinx it, but we've totally been sleeping through the night around here. Juney my little sleeper you are just helping mama out in all sorts of ways you didn't even know were possible. It's just done wonders for my outlook and ability to function around strangers in public (I had all but dropped the social small talk thing. Well not really, but you get what I mean.) Anyway, with sleep I'm starting to feel like a new person again so I really hope it continues. Maybe once it is a pattern and I've got a handle on things, I can sort my thoughts and write a post about baby sleep. It's one of those issues I usually don't want to touch with a 10-foot pole because it's so contentious but being a bit convicted on the issue myself I feel like I should own up to it. We'll see!