The Lion Coat

January 26, 2016 — 1 Comment

Hand-made Coat from Tulip and Bunny // Julie Van Can

Hand-made Lion Coat from Tulip and Bunny // Julie Van Can

Hand-made Lion Coat from Tulip and Bunny // Julie Van Can

Ok guys. I promise, when I rebranded, it wasn’t to sleathily convert this blog into a mommy blog. I PROMISE. But, I do recognize that between this post and the one previous, I’m dancing dangerously close to that edge of mommy-blogdom. Much like Mufasa dangling over the edge of that fateful wildebeest-surrounded ridge. It’s just, THIS COAT. HOW CAN I NOT POST EXCESSIVE PICTURES OF THIS COAT? IT HAS EARS AND A TAIL. LIKE YOU WOULDN’T DO THE SAME.

Woof. Okay. I’m sorry. Coats with ears launch me into caps-lock mode. Anyways, about this coat: This is the coat that Aunt Robyn made from an old wool blanket. Robyn is my dear eldest sister, and she’s amazing. She makes things – beautiful things, and this coat is among them. Robyn is Chief Proprietor and Head Sewer in Charge over at the shop Tulip and Bunny. (Insta here, Etsy here). She’s currently testing some patterns for Big Little, a pattern shop, and this coat is the result. AND she’ll make you one if you want! I truly don’t know how she does it.*** Like, literally. I don’t understand. She has four kids at home.  One is still a tiny baby. Whaaaaaaaaaaa? (That is both the sound of me saying a prolonged “what?” AND the sound her tiny baby makes.)

Hand-made Lion Coat from Tulip and Bunny // Julie Van Can

Hand-made Lion Coat from Tulip and Bunny // Julie Van Can

Anyways, Connor turned 1 this past weekend, and the gift of this coat is just one of the many wonderful ways our family and friends showered this little man with love. I cannot believe I have a one year old. Like, he smoulders. How did that happen? One day he’s a little baby burrito and the next day he looks like he could be on the cover of Baby GQ. Geez! The circle of life! I could launch into caps-lock mode about it all over again but I think this post has enough of it. I’ll lay off the SHIFT key.

Happy birthday little lion man. WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH.

(…oops)

***When I texted Robyn to tell her I took some photos, she said she’ll look when she’s home from McDonald’s. So, that answers how she does it. That’s how we all do it, #amiright?

1.You will grab your lunch from the fridge, because you prepared it the night before. It will be delicious and well-balanced. It will hit every major food group. There will be a microwavable component. It will involve no less than three tupperware containers in varying sizes. It is the only lunch of this kind you will ever eat.

2. You will spent a long (too long) amount of time planning out your child’s outfit. He will, for the first time in his 11-month long life, be wearing matching socks.

3. You will wear a black blazer. It will be a black blazer you have scarcely worn before. It will make you feel very professional. You believe it will announce to all your colleagues that you are now very serious because you have a black blazer. If they have any questions, they should just ask the blazer. The blazer is in charge.

4. You will be early, so early, to drop your child off at daycare. You will smile too much at his caretakers to mask your intense panic and distress at the insane speed in which time passes. You will go to your car, and have a tiny cry.

5. You will get to work on time.

6. You will notice a run in your nylons. There will always be a run in your nylons.

7. You will walk right passed the coffee kiosk on the wall to your office. You will not buy a muffin because of your delicious, well-balanced lunch. You will notice, though, that they added new flavours since you’ve been gone. You will try to banish the words “Chocolate Raspberry” from your mind.

8. You will joke with all your colleagues about how your daycare has a webcam and WOULDN’T IT BE SO SILLY TO WATCH YOUR KID ON A WEBCAM ALL DAY WHO WOULD DO THAT NOT ME OBVIOUSLY.

9. You will try to login to the webcam.

10. You will unsuccessfully try login to the webcam.

11. You will demand that your husband, who has successfully logged into the webcam, text you screen shots of your child on the webcam.

12. You will do some work.

13. You will, at long last, log into the webcam.

14. You will see that your kiddo is smiling. You will smile, too.

15. You will log off the webcam.

16. You will do some more work.

17. You will reward yourself for all your hard work with a raspberry chocolate muffin.

18. You will do some more work.

19. You will pick up your child from daycare.

20. You will give him all the hugs. There is now a nation-wide hug shortage because of all the hugs that were given.

21. You will go home.

22. You will throw your nylons in the trash.

23. You will realize that you did it. That he did it. That we did it. And we’ll all be OK.

workbork

 

 

Honouring the Weird

January 13, 2016 — 1 Comment

My family liked weird kids movies growing up.

We liked some non-weird movies, too: the usual Disney fare, a J.T.T. joint, lots of good family fun. But also? Weird movies: The Last Unicorn, Never Ending Story, The Electric Grandmother. Just weird. Maybe it was because they were the only children’s movies available at the library. Maybe it was because they were never rented out at the convenience store downtown. Whatever the reason, the only things that may have spent more time in the VHS player were my dad’s reruns of Star Trek TNG and a pirated copy of Casper.

Other kids in my class didn’t really watch these movies. They liked, I dunno…Wishbone? And so, when my slumber-party birthday rolled around, I thought it might be fun to watch one these weird movies with my friends. I selected a personal family favourite: The Labyrinth.

…It wasn’t well received. They didn’t like it. They thought it was creepy (to be far: it is), but they laughed for the wrong reasons, and we didn’t finish it. And that was that, for a time. Not too long after, though, a friend who was at that party came over again. As we plotted out how to spend the rest of our day, she asked, almost sheepishly “…could we watch that goblin movie again?”

That moment was significant, and is, in some ways, the official start to a friendship that would go from grade school friends, to high school besties, to college roommates. It started there because that’s when I realized “this person likes weird stuff too.And you know what? That’s a big deal.

We watched The Labyrinth together that day, and many times after. We’d sing the songs, we’d recite the dialogue, we’d draw silly pictures of Jareth in the margins of our school notes. We fully embraced the wonderful weirdness of that movie—and in each other, really—for years to come.

As I read over the tributes to David Bowie on my Facebook timeline, so many things came through: his innovation, his artistry, his boundless creativity. But for me, it’s his legacy as a Conduit of Weirdness that I’ll forever treasure. Before the internet made it all-too-easy for other weirdos to find each other, David Bowie was there to light the way. And now that light has dimmed.

For a hot minute back in 2013, I did yoga. Like any good yoga class, most would end with a communal Namaste: “The light in me honours the light in you.” As the rest of the world bids goodbye to Bowie, something very similar is rattling around in my brain to sum it all up: The weirdness in me honours the weirdness in you, good Sir. Thank you. <3

 

Oh hey gang!

My cryptic notice from a few days ago heralded this announcement: I rebranded (INSIDER SECRET: Rebrand is a fancy word for “new name!”).

So, what gives?

For those of you that were fans of my old site, We So Thrifty, you’ll recall that I was once a fairly consistent second-hand style blogger. In fact, my blog was devoted solely to first-hand tales of second-hand style (I still like that tagline). Over this last year, however, I’ve had less of an desire to parade around in front a camera. That’s probably due to the child-rearing, but also just a general desire to expand the topics I tackle.

Don’t get me wrong, there will still be parading! I love a good parade! There will just be other things, too. There will be posts about thrifting, but there will also be posts about design, about parenthood, about what I’m reading (OK, fine: what I’m watching). Basically, if I can do it, I might just blog about it.

Also, since the internet is no place for shame, it would be so nice if you gave this blog a follow. I surprised myself by managing to import all my old blog content, and redirect people from the old site to the new one, but I did manage to lose all the followers I’d amassed at the old site. There weren’t many, but enough to feed my ego when I had a a bad hair day. Just re-enter your email on the sidebar to get e-mail updates, OR (and?) you could like my Facebook page. So many ways to cyber-stalk!

Alright. That takes care of most of the house-keeping around here. I’m off to try to create some content for this thing. Thanks, as always, for granting me some time in front of your eyeballs!

Van Can't

This is Not A Birth Story

December 19, 2015 — 13 Comments

blogj

I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a story about the day my son Connor was born. But this is not a birth story.

Oh, I wrote a birth story. 7 months ago, in fact. It’s 3500 words long – a good 500 words longer than most of the papers I wrote in my undergrad. But I’m not going to share that story. That story sits in my drafts folder, and may surface someday, perhaps as required reading in high school health classes everywhere, as the country’s most effective means of teenage birth control.

So, why did I write a Birth Story Novella if I didn’t want to share it? Well, originally, I thought I would share it. In the weeks leading up to Connor’s arrival, I read every birth story I could find in my internet universe. Blogger birth stories. Family birth stories. Friend birth stories. Friend-of-Friend birth stories. Home births, c-sections, water births. You name it. If you’re reading this, and wrote a birth story, I read it. And so, a few months after Connor was born, I figured I owed the internet our birth story. I mean, that’s what bloggers do, right? And writing a birth story is supposed to be healing! Cathartic! Magical, even!

So, I hunkered down, hospital charts in hand for reference, and wrote Connor’s birth story. I wrote about my 36 hours of labour. The tub labouring. The epidural. The oxytocin. The epidural failing. The saline injections. The 2.5 doses of lidocaine. The back labour. The midwives that began and ended their shifts during my labour. The 3 hours of pushing. The vaccuum. The moment when everyone in the room finally realized Connor wasn’t coming out on his own.

And, worst of all, I wrote about being strapped down to a table in the operating room, contractions still coming fast and furious, and realizing the spinal for my c-section wasn’t taking either.

“It’s not working. Oh God, Oh God, it’s not working.”

I wrote about the fear when I realized they’d have to put me completely under.

I wrote about the panic, the agony, the despair unlike anything I’ve experienced in my lifetime.

I wrote about how the first memory of my son is hardly a memory at all – a fleeting image – brief, and bleary. A hazy picture of Matt with a baby. “What is it? What is it?” I said, before drifting back to darkness.

I wrote about all of that, because that, technically, is Connor’s birth story. And that birth story sucks.

For a long time afterwards, I couldn’t think about it too much. It was too unfair that so many people held Connor before I did. That so many people heard his cries before I even awoke. That I wasn’t there for his first hours on this earth. That after all the work, all the suffering, I was robbed of the moment that was supposed to make it all worth while: A baby on my chest, my husband beside me, in on the world’s best little secret: that we were three.

Writing about those feelings wasn’t cathartic. It wasn’t healing and it wasn’t magical. It just made it all worse.

And so, after spilling 3500 + words on Connor’s birth story and feeling no better, I started thinking about the moments after that story ended. Because when Connor’s “official” birth story ended, this story began:

This story starts 36 hours after my first contraction. 12 hours after my epidural. 3 hours after Connor was delivered via c-section and 1 hour after I woke up and blacked out again. This is the moment I met my son. And it doesn’t matter who held him first or how he got here, because when my husband Matt put him on my chest for the first time, it felt like two pieces of a locket finally coming together.

This story continues when Matt handed me a phone, and I got to tell my mom, voice broken and cracked, that she and Dad had their first grandson. That his middle name was Thomas, after Dad.

This story gets even better when, after introducing Connor to a room full of people that will love him every minute of his life, the nurse turned of all the lights, wrapped Connor in a blanket, and tucked him right back into my chest. It was the complete reversal of the scene a few short hours earlier. Instead of blinding lights overhead, an operating room full of people I didn’t know, and a sleep that wasn’t natural at all, I had only the soft light lights of the city outside, an empty room, and four hours blissful sleep with my baby boy.

This is the story that matters, and one I’m privileged to live out, chapter by chapter, every new day I spend with Connor.

blogcj

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Birth stories can be beautiful, empowering, and full of memories to be cherished, but they can also be gruelling, disappointing, traumatic and awful. And I’ve finally realized that those stories are OK to forget.

I think I found it so hard to come to terms with with that last statement because we live in an age where people make playlists for their births. They bring in professional photographers to capture every minute. They pick out candles and hire doulas and plan a birth experience. And that’s not a bad thing! That’s good! But the undercurrent running beneath that sort of attitude—that a birth story is the most important moment in your life, and it will fulfill every expectation the internet puts out there—can make it incredibly crushing when you don’t get a story you want to remember. Thankfully, I’ve learned that there are always other stories worth remembering.

Those other stories everywhere. Like the story of a couple’s first glimpse of the sweet two year old they’ll soon bring home from an orphanage. The story a precious babe’s first night at home after months in the NICU.  The story of these three young foster children getting their adoption papers for Christmas. They’re not birth stories, but stories of beautiful beginnings all the same.

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Once the clouds around my labour finally lifted, I not only had a new appreciation for the stories like the ones above; I was also finally able to hear, and appreciate, one more very important story from that day – the one from my husband.

Matt didn’t get to see Connor being born. He didn’t get to hold my hand for the final push. He heard Connor’s first cries only as muffled wails through hospital walls. But none of that tempered the unbelievable joy and relief he felt when the doctor rushed out to tell him “It’s a boy!”

Connor didn’t get to spend his first hours on this earth with me, but he did get to spend them with his Dad: skin-to-skin, head on heart.

Now isn’t that a beautiful story?

 

 

What I’m Looking For

August 19, 2015 — 8 Comments

Vintage denim dress // We So Thrifty

Vintage denim dress // We So Thrifty

Vintage denim dress // We So Thrifty

Leather purse // We So Thrifty

A few weeks ago,Yen, Bekah and I hopped on the highway and headed to a city not too far down the 401. Value Village London was celebrating their grand-reopening, and we were lucky enough to be invited to do some damage in the new store, which was bright, clean, and packed to the brim with freshly-organized thrifted goods. (It was also ALL ABOUT the Halloween life, but I am so so not there yet, even though they had a stinkin’ cute selection of baby costumes. For the love of all that is good and sweaty, let’s not rush summer, okaaaaay?)

Anyhoo, what I loved about going with two serious thrifters was that we, without a parting word, immediately split up, and got to work. We’d occasionally meet in the skirt section, or pass like ships in the night by the change room, but these pros know that thrifting is a solo sport. After an hour or so, we all met up again by the housewares to regroup. We refined our loot, tossed the extras, and headed back to Hamilton.On the drive home, one thing we all remarked on was how attentive the staff were. Not that that’s unusual, but these guys were EXTRA helpful. Around every corner, someone would ask “can I help you find what you’re looking for?” While they certainly meant that question in a general sense, we joked that the thrift store is the only place in which that question almost doesn’t apply. The thrift store is the one place that, most of the time, you have only a vague idea of what you’re looking for. The thrill of the thrift is always in the surprise, and that’s the beauty of it.

I wasn’t looking for a spaghetti strapped medi denim dress, a cheetah print mug, a cozy sweater or a pair of Brazillian sandals, but I headed home with all that an more. So, to the extra-chipper staff at VV London: No, you can’t help me find what I’m looking for, but that’s just the way I like it.

Dress: $12.99 // Value Village
Purse: $3.99 // Value Village (straight-up stolen from Yen’s cart)
Huarache sandals: $30 // The Edit

Barbie Girl

July 20, 2015 — 4 Comments

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

80s Barbie Dress // We So Thrifty

When I shared this dress straight from the thrift store change room on Instagram, I said it made me feel like I “walked out of the Barbie colouring book I had when I was eight.” I’m happy to report that, upon wearing this dress in the wild, that is still 100% true. In fact, I’m now beginning to suspect this dress has magical Take On Me properties, and when I wear it, the world itself becomes a Barbie colouring book.

I wore this dress to a birthday dinner out on the Hamilton waterfront. While the food was only OK, the atmosphere was incredible—the sun setting on the choppy water, the boats bobbing like birds off in the distance, the warm summer breeze that we all dream about for 9 months out of the year—just the best. After dinner, we took a stroll along the bay, and with each step, a new page of Barbie’s California Dream Colouring Book came to life. There was a roller rink, an ice cream shop, an assortment of adorable dogs, an old-timey trolley giving tours, and if that’s not enough, seniors and hipsters alike chillin’ on the hillside, taking in a free jazz performance (I’d also wager that AT LEAST one of the dudes on the water from the nearby Hamilton Yacht Club is named Ken).

barbiecoloringbook02And because the internet is a blessed-wonderful-nostalgia-giving machine, YOU TOO can relive the joy of a Barbie Colouring Book. Just click on that happy quartet of waspy teens to the left to make all your California dreams come true. (h/t to this blog for the scan!)

Since I can’t wear this dress every day, I think I’ll dust off the ol’ Laurentian pencil crayons and give this page a whirl. Just hoping I’ve still got the crazy skills on display in this photo:

L to R: Adele, Me, Robyn, and Laura, who is too cool to colour, and would rather play with an actual Barbie.

Dress: Salvation Army | $6
Shoes: Payless | $25
Sunglasses: The Edit | $15

Committed

July 10, 2015 — 6 Comments

Black floral dress // We So Thrifty

Black floral dress // We So Thrifty

Black floral dress // We So Thrifty

Black floral dress // We So Thrifty

I’m here, guys! Still here! While I have no plans to let this blog die, I also have no plans to increase my sporadic post-per-month rate. So, it’s best if you just view this blog like a surprise Beyoncé album: There is no predicting its arrival, so just enjoy it once it’s here. (Did I just compare myself to Beyoncé?)

Hyperbolic comparisons aside, I had to post this dress because it’s my favourite thrifted thing in a long, long time. AND, I worked hard for it. Yes, thrifting can be hard work. Sometimes I find what I’m looking for without even trying, but other times, I have to visit every thrift store in town twice in the span of two weeks before I find it. “It,” this time around, was a dress for my dear friend’s wedding.  Not just any dear friend, either: I played a role in setting up this dear friend with her now-dearly-beloved husband (and don’t you think I didn’t brag about that all day: Matt had to tell me to scale it back when I boldly announced “LOOK at what I have CREATED!” upon entering the ceremony).

But back to the dress: I’m not exaggerating when I say I really, truely hit up every thrift/resale/consignment/vintage spot in town: Value Village, twice. Salvation Army, twice. The Edit, once, Bibles for Missions, once. I could go on! It was my second trip in as many weeks to Talize that finally yielded this winner. It hit every note: colourful, fun, comfortable, and, most importantly, wearable without the aid of any sort of special undergarment. The holy grail!

So there you go. I suppose the take away from this post is that you should never, ever give up on your dream*,  and that I am, more or less, Beyoncé.

_

Dress: Talize | $17
Clutch: Clothing Swap | $0.25
Shoes: Payless | $25

*You are allowed to give up on your dream if your dream is finding thrifted wedding shoes the day of the wedding, but there’s nothing in your size at Value Village, so you just have to go to Payless and be done with it, because your hair doesn’t curl itself.

 

 

The Simple Life

May 13, 2015 — 6 Comments

Vintage blue day dress // We So Thrifty  Vintage blue day dress // We So Thrifty

Vintage blue day dress // We So Thrifty

Friends! This is going to be brief, for several reasons. The first of which is tucked into my bosom courtesy of an ergo carrier and may wake up any second. But even if my baby wasn’t in that “ticking cry bomb” stage, I don’t think I’d have much to say about this dress – and that’s exactly why I like it. This $3.50 vintage beauty is as simple as getting dressed gets:

Step 1) button up;
Step 2) add belt;
Step 3) eat brunch;
Step 4) put leftovers in ample-sized pockets.

Yep. I think I like the simple life.

Dress: Salvation Army | $3.50
Belt: Salvation Army | $2
Huarache sandals (like the Beach Boy song!): The Edit| $30

Baby Blue

April 20, 2015 — 7 Comments

Denim jacket + white dress + slip on sneakers // We So Thrifty

Denim jacket + white dress + vintage back pack // We So Thrifty

Denim jacket + white dress + slip on sneakers // We So Thrifty

Denim jacket + white dress + vintage back pack // We So Thrifty

Denim jacket + white dress + slip on sneakers // We So Thrifty

Matching thrifted denim // We So Thrifty

babyjeans1

I know, I know. Connor and I entered a “Who Wore it Better?” contest and I LOST BY A WIDE MARGIN.

This post not only settles that score, but it also settles the “what is the world’s most versatile garment?” argument. You may say “what argument?” To which I say: “This is the internet. There are arguments wherever you choose to find them. What a time to be alive!”

And so, I’d like to publicly declare the jean jacket as the World’s Most Versatile-and-Consistently-Age-Appropriate Garment. I challenge you to find any other item that would look as good on a 28 year old and a 3-month old. I’m telling you right now, I have a pair of onesie pajamas, and the site of me as a giant teletubby would haunt your dreams forever.

Just last friday, when catching up with my sister Robyn, she mentioned that her eldest is now a total grown-up because she requested a jean jacket all on her own. She too ended up with a thrifted Gap jacket like mine – way to go, niece!

So there you have it. One argument settled on the internet, one bajillion to go.

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Banana Republic Dress: $14.99 | Value Village
Gap Jean Jacket: $29.95 | Second Chance Consignment
Shoes: $10 | Target
Backpack: Thrifted gift from Mom