Guys! I’m overdue. It’s cool though. I would have been sufficiently surprised if this kid came early or on time. I went to bed last night and didn’t even run the dishwasher because I knew I’d have time to do it tomorrow. I ALSO had time to watch the first two episodes of LOVE (which I kind of hate? But sometimes like. TV is complicated), and take a few pics of the bedrooms upstairs. All three of them have now, finally, after seven months of living in his house, ceased looking like this. As usual, both rooms are a combination of stuff I had, stuff I thrifted, and some mostly-on-sale new stuff.

Let’s have a look!


The New Nursery

I mentioned this on instagram a while back, but my biggest challenge with the nursery was making as many items from C’s nursery work in a different room. I adore the chalk-chevron mural wall the previous owners left in this room, and I also liked the cool baby blue colour, but none of those motifs gelled with the bright, primary vibe of C’s nursery.

The solution? A rug to tie together the bold reds from the old nursery, and the cool hues of the new one. It took me foreeeevvvvveeeeer to finally pick one, but I love the one we chose. It was on clearance from (though it’s still “on clearance” which makes me think it’s actually just always that price and I am sort of a sucker for thinking I got a deal… *Insert skeptical face emojij*). Anyways, deal or not, it totally bridged the two colour-stories together, and also introduced some new hues to play off.

One thing I like much better about this nursery as opposed to our first go at it is the more natural textures and colours. It adds some warmth to the room, and that moses basket that I thrifted for $8 from Value Village fits right in. I made it extra-cozy by adding a fluffy rug from IKEA. The little fox print was a gift from my mom for Christmas and also pulls a lot of the colours together.

Speaking of IKEA, we also bought a KALLAX shelf because they’re incredibly useful. The only other new purchase we made for room was upgrading our rocker. The one we had served us well but you spend so much time in that thing a comfier chair seemed a worthy investment.


C’s Room

Down the hall, C’s big-boy room is pretty much ready to go. I’d love a rug for this space too, but until I can be sure isn’t playing games with my heart, it’s good as is. My biggest victory with this room was finding sheets at Costco (that’s a place I both love and hate) that perfectly matched the wall colour and treatment. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES? When I showed them to Matt he did not match my enthusiasm, so only you, dear anonymous internet nobodies, can validate my joy.

The monster bedding came from some store in the mall I have already forgotten (sorry, Mall), and the bed frame was $50 from the Missions Thrift store.

It was really fun to work in these colours, and find as many dino-related items as possible. The little green guy on the floor is, literally, from the side of the road. So I guess that makes him a rescue dino! Which, for what it’s worth, is much easier than a rescue dog.

All that’s left to do now is bewitch this bed with enough magic to convince C to sleep in it all night. Witchcraft isn’t, like, hard, is it?


Master Bedroom

This room was a last minute addition to this post. Yesterday afternoon, my Simons order finally arrived, and in it was this cozy yellow blanket and gray carpet runner. Finally, I enjoy looking at my bed as much as I do sleeping in it. And since a newborn means the “sleep* portion of my life will soon be drastically reduced, I’ll comfort myself in the middle of the night by starring at that pleasing mustardy-hue on the throw blanket. That will not work, but I’ll lie to myself and say it might!

You may recognize the three prints above the bed. I’ve had them in every room in the house, but I think they’re finally in their forever-home. They served as the spring board for a lot of the colours I went with. As for everything else, the lamp on the right  and the yellow throw pillow are both from Sears, bought during their big closing/liquidation sale. And YES, I do feel guilty for shopping that sale when they were absolute jerks to their long-time employees about their pensions but I JUST REALLY LIKED THAT LAMP I’M SORRY PLEASE FORGIVE ME MIKE MYERS.

The table at the end of the bed is a great little mid-mod piece I scored off Kijiji last year for $15. I didn’t have room for it anywhere once we moved, and the few short months we used it at the old place left it with scratches and water stains galore. But I kept it around and realized a few weeks ago that it would work just fine as an end-of-the-bed bench, and the water stains could easily be covered up by a slathering of chalk paint. (Annie Sloan’s Amsterdam Green + a layer of the brown antique wax, if that stuff is your jam).

Another Kijiji purchase from the last few months is this beige dresser. The previous owners used some kind of mineral paint on it, I think, and I’m happy with how it works with the rest of the room. The print above it is just a piece of Cavallini wrapping paper, in a thrift store frame:

All in all, I really love the way this room finally came together. That’s often how it works when I decorate – I’ll slowly accumulate discordant items, with a vague hope in mind for how they might eventually work together, and then one day it finally comes together just the way you want.

And that right there is pretty much exactly what my body has been doing for nine months.  Now we just wait for the big reveal.

Until then!








I mean, sometimes you just have to name a post for what it is. Sure, you can buy a box of hair colour called “ICY COPENHAGEN” but sometimes it’s much easier to just buy the one that says “MEDIUM BLONDE” and be done with it.

And so! This post is called A Long Post About Breastfeeding because it is a long post about breastfeeding. And make no mistake about it: it’s going to take you 2-3 weeks to read. So buckle up.

But…why now? Why am I writing about nursing when my kiddo is three years old? Because just under three years ago, I made a promise to a former version of myself. It was the version that was up at 2am, timing her pumps on the “BOOBY TRACKER” app (that’s not what it was called but my memory is foggy), and reminding her husband to “CLEAN THE SUPPLEMENTAL FEEDING TUBE THING WITH BOILED WATER ONLY!”

I said to myself many times over back then: “This is nuts. I need to write about this someday.” And in those blurry, sleep-deprived days, I’d spend long hours scouring the internet for words of comfort from women in my position, so it’s only fair I pay it forward. With a new baby joining us in just under 6 weeks, the pressure finally did its job and “someday” has finally arrived.

Now where do we begin?


CHAPTER 1: The first week

Ah yes, here. The TL;DR version of that post is as follows: Traumatic birth story. C-section. Full anaesthesia. Obviously, I’ve spilled enough ink on that particular chapter already. But I bring it up again because it determined the beginning of my nursing story: mainly, that whole ish meant I was not able to even try nursing until 24 hours after my surgery and the anaesthetic was out of my system. I didn’t realize it at the time — which is probably for the best— but that set me behind right from the start. In an ideal world, a baby starts nursing almost instantly. That was, obviously, not the case for me and C.

And so, 24 hours after my c-section, we gave the whole nursing thing a shot, and it was…awkward! Very awkward. Not, like, embarrassing or anything (you lose all shame sometime around 5cm dilation). Just clumsy. My milk hadn’t really come in yet, so after a few half-assed attempts to get a latch going, the nurse brought in some formula and a supplemental nursing tube (more on that later). After fumbling with the tube and spilling formula all over my jammies, we gave C some formula via a bottle and vowed to try again soon. I wasn’t worried yet, but I knew it was not the cosmic connection some ladies get with their little ones the first time they nurse.

The next day, we went home.

Those first few days at home are just a blur. It was evident from the start I’d have to get well acquainted with a breast pump (and evident shortly thereafter that the single pump I bought was woefully insufficient – DOUBLE OR BUST, Y’ALL). I did all the things you do to get your supply going. I pumped. I had a Guinness in the bath. I took the fenugreek and blessed thistle pills in maximum amounts (that will never not sound like something from a witches’ brew to me). Really, I just tried to make some sense of this new reality, and feed my kiddo.

I wasn’t panicking yet. C was nursing – sort of. I had milk – sort of. I was pumping on schedule – sort of. But I knew it wasn’t where it needed to be.

Thankfully, my midwives were still visiting quite frequently, and I’m forever grateful for their measured and calming presence in a time that was neither measured nor calm. On one of our visits, I vented my frustration that no matter how long I let C nurse for, he’d always clean off a bottle of formula right after – I never seemed capable of giving him enough. At that point she said something that would turn out to be incredibly helpful in the months ahead:

“Well, that may just be what he likes.”

It was one of the first times I realized a *large* part of this breastfeeding business was totally out of my hands. I’d have to learn that lesson a few times over in the weeks and months ahead, but that was the first time: That may just be what he likes.

Anyways, at the same meeting, she recommended I schedule a visit with a lactation consultant, and wrote a prescription for domperidone (that will never not sound like a fancy champagne to me).


Chapter 2: The LC

Shortly thereafter, the lactation consultant came a ‘callin (one tiny benefit to having major surgery that re-arranges your organs: people come to you!). I liked her. She was no-nonsense. She almost immediately diagnosed C with a tongue tie (top and bottom), and I was grateful to have another thing to “fix.” We had that corrected within the week or so, and I booked a follow-up appointment at the lactation clinic.

Unfortunately, fixing C’s tongue tie wasn’t the magic switch I realized I wanted it to be. It seemed a little more comfortable for me, but his intake was about the same. The domperidone? Also not a magic switch. I never had that “big moment” where my milk just started to flow. It seemed it was always going to be a low supply. It was becoming ever-more apparent that a magic switch to fix all my nursing struggles may not actually exist (in hindsight: duh).

At my next meeting with the LC, she brought out the thing I had been avoiding for the past two weeks: The aforementioned tubey thing, a.k.a: a supplemental nursing system.

Really, it’s a very basic device with a fancy name. It’s just a super small, soft tube. It works like this: while your baby is nursing, you sneak one end of the the tube into its mouth. The other end of the tube is connected to a bottle of milk or formula. So, all the sudden the baby is getting a much better flow of goods. And the idea is they’ll be more enthusiastic eaters as a result. It also keeps the baby on the breast rather than the bottle. And I almost hated to admit it, but it totally worked for C in that appointment. After measuring him post-feed, we saw that he not only got the supplemental stuff from the tube, but drank much more from my breast in a shorter period of time.

So, I worked at it. And I actually got pretty darn good at it too.

And lo, the Days of the Tubey Thing began.


Chapter 3: The Tubey Thing

After mastering the tubey thing, this became my basic schedule: C would nurse for about a half hour minimum, with the aid of the tube. After he was done, I’d pump for 15-20 minutes, and we’d clean the tube (with sterilized water and a syringe) to get it ready for the next round. Three hours later, we’d do it all again: He’d nurse, while also taking in the milk I’d pumped previously via the tube, and so it went:

Nurse. Pump. Rinse. Repeat.

Nurse. Pump. Rinse. Repeat.

Nurse. Pump. Rinse. Repeat.

Nurse. Pump. Rinse. Repeat.

Nurse. Pump. Rinse. Repeat.

Nurse. Pump. Rinse. Repeat.

In those early weeks, I somehow managed to do this process 5-6 times a day. The LC recommended I try for 8 times a day. HAHAHA — NO. I did not take that recommendation on account of a desire to retain some sanity. I also stopped feeling bad about sneaking some formula into that tube when I didn’t get a good pump in. (Fun side story: it was during these weeks that I watched so much Netflix that we were slapped with a surprise $250 overage fee, and Matt miraculously got that charge dropped after playing on the sympathies of our internet provider. But I watched all 6 seasons of Parenthood and can you really put a price tag on quality time with the Bravermans?)

Reading this, I realize it sounds insane. And it was. But I had a new deadline on the horizon: I decided that at my 5-week LC appointment, we’d *officially* assess the progress, and determine if all of it was worth it. After that appointment,  I’d pick a lane: keep aiming for the elusive “exclusively breastfed” title, or become a formula mom.

That 5-week appointment came up surprisingly quickly, and it was totally anti-climactic. We did the usual routine: feed and weigh, but at the end of the appointment all she basically said was “Welp, keep at it!”

Uhhh…that’s it?  That’s all you got? Yep. That was it.

She didn’t offer the definitive diagnosis I assumed we were working towards. It’s silly, but I expected her to say “keep at this for X amount of time, and I’m sure he’ll be exclusively breastfed by X!” But LCs are not all-knowing geniuses. They don’t possess some secret ability to predict the future. They don’t know your baby. They’re helpful, knowledgeable women who offer positive encouragement and good advice, but they don’t have any magic answers, either. Though I think it might be time they retire the “make your boob a burger” line.

(This is a gif from Jane the Virgin, which, for what it’s worth, was the best depiction of breastfeeding stress I’ve seen on TV! It’s also a warm, clever, witty show with lots of hunky dudes so really, you need to be watching it.)


SO, what was next? I’d hyped up that 5-week mark so much in my head, I felt a little unmoored once it was over. What was the next milestone? What was the plan? How many more feeding tubes must I buy from the weird old people pharmacy that sells an insane amount of differently shaped toilet seats?

I had no idea.

So, I just…kept at it.

Not because I was working towards some specific goal, not because I had a guarantee it would all become easier, just because, well, the whole silly system – tube and all – was actually working for us.

For the next two months, I did the nurse/tube/pump dance. I relaxed the schedule slightly, and still had to top up with formula every day, but I planned my life around it. It was utterly baffling to me that I actually did very well on a super rigid schedule. I, Julie, Patron Saint of Perpetual Lateness and Forgotten Appointments, found myself thriving by adhering to strict plan. I could actually still do all of the coffee/thrifting/restaurant eating I was accustomed to, I just had to time it to the minute. So that’s what I did! It also helped that C himself was a super chill baby, and he became clock-work predictable in his eating times.

This period also revealed to me that I am, fo sho, an IN-TRO-VEEEEEERT. Sure, I like to make jokes at parties and I’ve done my share of high school drama, but at the end of the day, I was totally OK with hibernating for January, February, and most of March (I live in Canada – those months are all “freezing-this” and “windchill-that”). I was also able to go deep, deep into a cave of introversion because I had two sisters that lived down the street, and they made sure to check in on me and make sure I showered. Truly though: my personality, C’s personality and the time of year that he was born were huge factors in making this particular arrangement work. If any one of those things were different, I could not have pulled it off, of that I am sure.

All that said, please don’t think it was all tickety-boo. I’d cry when I felt overwhelmed. I panicked when my domperidone prescription ran out while I was out of town. I’d throw the tube across the room when C wouldn’t cooperate. I resented women who could just whip out their tatas at the mall and feed their baby like it was the easiest thing in the world. I wanted to hurl all “breast is best” internet comments into the sun (WE GET IT—IT RHYMES). Things like C’s baptism and lunch felt insanely more complicated to plot out than they would’ve otherwise.

But still, through all that, it was working for us.

And then we decided to take a trip. On a plane. Far, far away. And that brings us to our next chapter:


Chapter 4: Pump it!

In April of 2015, when C was approaching the 3 month mark, Matt said he’d really like to visit his brother in Alberta in May. Alberta, for my American friends, is another province that’s a 4 hour plane ride away. As soon as we decided we wanted to go, I decided it was time to say buh-bye to the tube. I’d become fairly adept at it, but there was no way I was going to fool around with that nonsense thousands of feet in the air. And we’d had a good run! A better run that most, from what the internet tells me. So, the tubey thing was out, and the bottle was back in. Although C hadn’t had a bottle in a few months, he figured out what to do with them again very quickly. (The trick to that? Using the ultra-cheap basic bottles they gave him in the hospital at the very beginning. Relatedly, if anyone is interested in an extensive collection of expensive, unused fancy bottles, drop me a line.)

So, C was back on the bottle a few weeks before our trip. And much to my relief and surprise, the tube-training must’ve done it’s job, because he still liked to nurse! Oh, he was still incredibly slow and lazy about it, but that worked in our favour on a 4 hour plane ride.

By the time the plane lifted off, I’d successfully changed up our schedule to: 1) pump all the damn time to keep up my supply  2) nurse occasionally 3) otherwise bottle feed. If you find yourself in a similar position, my best piece of advice for making this schedule work is to get comfortable with pumping eeeeeverywhere. I have pumped on a plane, in the air port, in the back seat (AND front seat) of the car. Basically, I have pumped in all the places where Dr. Suess refused to eat green eggs and ham.

Now, of course it’s a bit of a drag to take a pump with you everywhere. Of course it’s annoying to have to google how to clean bottles on a plane. But at this point I started to reap the benefits of having a baby on the bottle: Dad can help, you can feed your baby in the car, and you don’t need to whip out your tatas if you just don’t feel like it.

I should also mention that even with all the pumping I was doing, C was still topped up with formula every day. I had long since moved past my whole “EBF” (exclusively breastfed) goal — and found myself in a much better mental space because of it.

That trip was great, and set the tone for how I’d feed C for the next five months. I gradually starting slowing down my pump sessions, and when summer rolled around, I was only pumping two or three times a day. Before fall arrived, I made the decision to stop pumping all together. I was coming up on 9 months, and I had made peace with the reality that my supply might run dry without the constant pumps.

So I stopped.

…And C kept nursing. For almost two more years.


Chapter 5: The Other Side

Yep! When C was around 9 months, I entered into the chillest phase of our nursing story.

C nursed whenever he wanted, mostly before bedtime, but everything else was formula, and a few months later, homo milk. He still loved his bottles, and my supply stuck around.

This was also around the time that C started to find his voice. I noticed that whenever he’d want to nurse, he started saying “a-er side? a-er side?” It took me a little while to decipher what he was actually saying: Other side. AHAHA.  That was obviously picked up from me always announcing that I was switching him from one side to another halfway through our nursing sessions. A lesson drilled into me in the early days.

To this day, that’s still what C calls anything boob-related. Bras. Bathing suit tops. Just this summer, we walked into Victoria’s Secret, and he immediately started exclaiming “OTHER SIDE! OTHER SIDE” as he pointed out all the bras. SO SILLY.

Anyways, that turned out to be the perfect name for this particular chapter in our nursing story, because I was finally on the other side of rigid scheduling and additional equipment to make it all work. I do not take it for granted, even for a minute. I know the only reason I even got to experience nursing like this was because he wanted to keep doing it. As ye olde saying goes: You can take a baby to the boob, but you cannot make it drink.

Am I proud of all the work I did to get to that point? Yes. I am. But I would’ve been just as proud of myself for choosing a different path. I chose to do what was best for me, and best for babe. For some ladies that’s EBF, for others it’s formula or exclusive pumping, and in my scenario, it was a little bit of everything.


That’s it.

I  was going to write a little bit about weaning, but that was really truly just a gradual process. It sort of took care of itself. I am assuming potty training will do the same, right? RIGHT? No? Eeesh. That’s another post all together.

In any case, to the brave soldiers that have made it to the end of this post, WELL DONE! I  award you three lactation cookies and a pumping bra that is really just a sports bra with holes cut out.

I think the last thing I’ll do is just compile a list of posts and stories that I found helpful back when I was in the thick of it. You’ll notice they span a range of tones, because for me, I really needed it all: I needed posts that let me revel in my sadness and mourn the experience I wasn’t having, posts that made me feel like it actually wasn’t that big of deal, and posts that made me laugh (BREASTFEEDING IS A SCAM). That way, if nothing in the above 10,000 words (I assume that’s what we’re at at this point)  was helpful or comforting to you, perhaps you’ll find something below that does the trick!

Thanks for reading all. I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes with baby #2. I will probably get around to that post sometime in 2025.



Other articles that are helpful and shorter than Illiad:

From Nicole Cliffe at the Hairpin: On Being Unexpectedly Crummy at Breastfeeding

From Kaelah at This Charming Life: I Gave Up Breastfeeding…and We’re all Happier Because of It

From Kelsey at Snappy Casual: Why I Quit Breastfeeding

Esther at Her View From Home: Love is Best

And, practically speaking, Pumping on a Plane!









The One

September 29, 2017 — 6 Comments

Friends! Family! I’m here! Blogging! What a twist, what a rush, what a revelation.

Just the other day on instagram, I mentioned that we were finally feeling settled in our new place, and, for the sake of my own personal accountability, teased that I might even blog about it. Some of you padded my ego just enough to make sure I followed through with that, so here we are!

First, a little background: for most of last year, Matt and I were looking for a house. 7 offers, 20 + showings, and who knows how many open houses later, we finally landed The One. I feel that phrase is appropriate because, while I’ve never online dated, I’ve concluded that scouring for house listings and swiping left and right on a dating app are pretty much EXACTLY THE SAME.

“…This is the one, I can feel it!”
“Oy. This one looked a lot better in the pictures.”
“I liked it. I just didn’t get that feeeeeling, y’know?”

And then, after looking at way too many, and losing all hope: “SURE. FINE. WHATEVER.”

Thankfully, ladies, I did not have to settle for whoever offered to pay for my overpriced cocktail (this is where the metaphor stops working), because I really love my house. I loved it the moment I stepped into it, to be honest. As we walked through it at the open house, I felt like I had to suppress the goofy grin on my face growing bigger with every room. On the way home, I tried to play it cool and casually asked Matt “…So, what did you think?” He said something akin to “It was fine.” And then I was all “HOW DARE YOU TALK ABOUT OUR FUTURE HOUSE THAT WAY”.

The thing is, Matt has on a very different set of goggles when looking for a house. He needs to let it sit for a bit. He needs to run some numbers. He needs to make sure that it’s sound investment. That it makes sense. It’s actually a very good thing he’s so objective, since I am…not. And, thankfully, after doing his Matt-thing, this house ended up scoring high on both the “feels” and the “facts” charts.

So, we put in an offer.

And we got it.

And we freaked out a bit, because we never get it! And blah blah blah, long story short: we moved!

The thing I like the most about this house it that it’s old, but it’s been so smartly updated. The previous owners pretty much had my exact tastes, and they managed to blend the classic with the modern perfectly. So, it’s perfectly suited to my decor style – which is…whatever! No, seriously: I’ve never been able to fully embrace one dominant decor style. Mid-century modern is a little too cold, boho is too hippy for Matt. Minimalist? Oh yeah right. This house, on the other hand, is a blank canvas for a little bit of everything.

And for a thrifter like me, that’s a dream come true.

A few highlights:

-> That wardrobe directly up top was a Kijiji find. $230. I love it. It gives us extra storage and is probably one the only piece that’s as old as the house: 1930s ish.

-> The big gray couch was our biggest splurge. It’s a Gus* couch, from a furniture dealer in Hamilton: Chaise Musicale. He sells mostly MCM furniture, but also carries some great current lines. This couch is perfect because the colour hides many’a toddler stain, and the microfibre texture isn’t nearly as enticing to Maggie’s claws as our previous couches. I intend to keep it forever and ever. Even if you’re not on the market for any furniture at the moment, you should pop in there sometime, because the owner is just a really cool guy and it’s awesome to chat with him about what he does!

-> Now, since we were a little spendy on the couch, I wanted to complete the living room seating with a more stringent budget. That was proving VERY HARD. Both Matt and I agreed that two chairs opposite the couch would be the best thing for space and function, but ya’ll: chairs are $$$. I looked at kijiji so much I started to dream about it. I was about ready to just start tossing money at IKEA when I spotted these two beauties at a tiny little thrift shop in Collingwood. Actually, I spotted six of them. And, were I not just there on vacation with limited trunk space, I would’ve been tempted to take home all 6. These CHAIRS, you guys: they’re so good! Brass and wood. Vintage Hauser. Newly rehapolsterd. $40 each. So comfortable! And on wheels! That means that whenever I need to get some work done (*cough*download TV shows*cough*) at my desk, I can just wheel one right over. Speaking of that desk…

-> This was another perfect fit for our space. (See below). It’s beautifully refinished by my mother in-law, and the drawer actually opens up and flattens to reveal the keyboard and mouse. So smart!

As for the other bits and bobs around our place, most of it is from the old house or the thrift store, or the mom-store. If you’re curious about any of the items, just ask!


Oh! This dining set was also one of my better finds: $250. In perfect condition. 6 chairs with two extra leaves so we can host lots of happy meals 🙂


The other work in progress is our basement. I thought it would be the perfect place to gather up a lot of the vintage ads I already had, and we’ve got wall space to keep that collection going. Also, please enjoy the shaggy rug you see here, because Maggie has destroyed it with her all-powerful-cat-pee and it’s currently rolled up in storage because I don’t want to admit I for sure have to throw it out:

I think that will be it for now. I didn’t show you any of the upstairs rooms, because truth be told they are all in varying states of Hot-Mess-dom. But thankfully, there’s a pretty hard deadline on getting those rooms in order: March 2018. 😉


The Happy Tech

February 21, 2017 — 15 Comments

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Just over two years ago, I went for an ultrasound.

I was nearly 8 months pregnant with my son, Connor, and things were going exactly as they should. I was round, I was comfortable, I was excited. This ultrasound—a purely precautionary measure recommended by our midwives after a very slight fender bender—was to be done at the walk-in clinic just minutes from my house. The clinic was, as almost all walk-in clinics are, unremarkable. Beige and windowless, never without the pall illumination of fluorescent lights overhead.

But when I think back to that ultrasound, I don’t remember the beige or the bland. I remember the Happy Ultrasound Technician. He was a small man, with wirey hands and thinning hair, but his eyes were bright, and his smile was big. From the moment the ultrasound began, The Happy Tech beamed. While the whole process was old hat by then—brace for the cold gel on my stomach, place the pillow in the small of my back— the man beside made that beige room light up.

“A Christmas miracle!!” He said.

“…Oh gosh, I hope not!”  (I was, after all, a good month from my due date).

“Even better then! A New Year’s baby!”

“Haha, let’s hope.”

“Such a blessing, such a blessing.”

Looking back, he didn’t diagnose anything, of course. That’s not what ultrasound techs do. But his warm congratulations, the way he ushered me out of the office, and his parting smile as I went on my way, reassured me that all was well. And it was.

I remember telling Matt about The Happy Tech. Commenting on his sweet demeanour, grateful for his pleasant presence. But the cynic in me had to wonder, just a little, why he was so happy. Was it his first day on the job? Did he have a baby coming himself? Maybe he just got a raise! Or ate a really good breakfast?

Nearly two years to that day, that question got its answer.

On January 3, the Happy Tech conducted a very different ultrasound. He did not greet an 8 month-expectant mother. He did not see a soon-to-be-born baby summersault across the screen. And he did not talk of Christmas miracles.

Instead, he greeted an 8 week-expectant mother. And things went very differently. He had to look closer, and search longer than he expected for what he wanted to find. In the end, he could only note not where things were, but where they should have been. He offered no blessing. He gave no smiles. He only looked away, as the woman beside him barely disguised the panic in her voice.

“…but everything is OK, right?”

“I…well…you will have to discuss the results with your doctor.”

He could not wish her well. He could not smile. He could only go back to his office, and listen to the muffled sobs of a confused conversation between the woman and his receptionist.

“But…when will I know?

The Happy Tech was not happy that day, of course, because he already knew.


1in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. These are the statistics you never bother to learn until you join the ranks of the 1. And only once I had, did I realize that that technician must encounter anxious eyes and empty screens almost as often as he does the opposite. At first, this made me tremendously sad. Comparing our happy meeting with the one that confirmed our miscarriage only heightened the sense of loss.

But that is not what it does for The Happy Tech, and that’s not what it’s done for me since.

Because here is what I’ve realized: It is only because of the darkness he must encounter, and the heartbreak he must bear witness to, that he is able recognize the wonder when he sees it. On that day two years ago, as he caught a glimpse of Connor rolling around the screen, he knew, more than I did, that the ultrasound monitor was a window into something miraculous: a mystery, a marvel, a blessing.

Of course our miscarriage broke our hearts. Of course it altered the vision of our family. Of course we grieve it still. But as I do that, I will try, everyday, to be a little more like The Happy Ultrasound Technician. I will not be defined by the dark days, instead, I will freely talk of miracles when I see them. I will fervently thank the Lord for grace he’s already bestowed. I will recognize the blessings in my life and remind myself to not take them for granted, not for a minute.

I will try, as he did, to make even the beige rooms bright.



Wrapped in Courage

November 7, 2016 — 4 Comments


Hey guys!

I’m back. And this time with something legitimately important to write about. I don’t blame you for not immediately buying that, because I’ve been know to treat cheesy dips and Netflix binges as issues of EXTREME importance. Really, this blog is an extended version of “The Girl Who Cried IMPORTANT.”

But this time? I actually mean it. This is important.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be participating in the #WrapHerInCourage campaign, organized by Missions Services. What’s that mean? It’s simple: All November long, you can buy a purple scarf from me, just like the one I’m wearing here, and 100% of what you spend will go directly to Inasmuch House in Hamilton, Ontario.

Inasmuch House a part of the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses, and devoted to giving women who have experienced violence and abuse a safe place to stay while they rebuild their lives and return to the community. Their goal isn’t just to house women, but to help them regain the confidence and strength to live a healthy and independent life again. Through this campaign, you can participate in this truly-life changing work just by purchasing a $15 scarf.

If that alone isn’t enough to move you, here’s the context in which Inasmuch House operates every single day:

On average 20-30 women a year are murdered in the province of Ontario alone. It is the number two reason for calls to the emergency police services. Additionally, it overwhelmingly affects children in the areas of: focus at school; relationships with peers and adults; increased risk of participating in high risk behaviours such as substance abuse; and increased risk of anxiety and depression.

 During the month of November, everyone across Ontario is invited to participate in showing abused women across the province that they have our support. The United Nations has designated November 25th (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) as the first of 16 days of Action to eliminate Violence Against Women across the world. We are asking Ontarians to wear our purple scarf especially on these days to show your courage to abused women and their children that their community supports them and they are not alone.

The issue of women abuse beyond hard. It’s beyond complicated. But the Wrapped In Courage campaign gives you an easy and simple way to support these women, and seek justice for those whose lives have been marred by abuse.

If you’re local to the Hamilton area, and interested in purchasing a scarf, please get in touch with me! PM me on Instagram. Message me on Facebook, or even just write your email address as a comment on this entry, and I promise I’ll be in touch.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to hear from you soon!

– Julie


Why did I say I would do this every week! Why did I say that IN PUBLIC! I invented a deadline for myself and then made myself the professor. Foolishness. (Professor Julie docs Student Julie 5 points. Student Julie breaks out her laundry list of excuses, which is long and varied and includes a literal laundry list. Professor Julie says just get on with the post already.

TO BE FAIR, I was actually on track for post #2. Except then I decided to write about Gord Downie’s last concert with the Hip and I got really introspective and full of feelings and never finished. But if you ever want to talk feelings and listen to The Hip gimme a ring! In the meantime, I’m purposely going to keep it a little lighter this time around, if only for the sake of actually getting something done.

To break with convention (can it be “convention” if I’ve only done it one time?), I’ll hit each of the usual categories (can it be “usual” if I’ve only done it one time?), but not necessarily in the order you’re accustomed to (can you be accustomed to something if I’ve only done it one ti—OK you get it).

This week on the internet, Julie Van…


Can Meme

Truth be told, this is reason I made sure to blog this week. I had to share my #describeyourselfwiththreecharacters while the iron was still hot (I assume that expression means “while Robert Downey Jr. is still considered handsome”). These are so fun! Fun to see from others. Fun to compile for yourself. For me, the first two came easily. The last one took some family-sourcing but is, I think, the perfect person to complete the trio:


Let us break it down!

1) Liz Lemon. This one was a given. As Liz Lemon graced my screen wearing a snuggy cutting off slices of cheese while singing Working on My Night Cheese, it was the first time I truly experienced a pronouced  “IT ME” moment. It me, Liz Lemon. It me.

2) Britta Perry. I’d like to say Britta’s on the list because we can both achieve perfectly tousled waves with our flat irons, but that honour remains hers and hers alone. I see myself in Britta because we can both be painfully smug, self righteous and holier than thou when we think we’ve been wronged. But we just have a lot of FEELINGS ok? And we both like jackets make of denim or leather!

3) Kimmy Gibbler. This was texted to me, in capital letters, when I asked my sisters who else should round out this composite. I have to admit that it totally fits. But only the OG Gibbler! None of this “Fuller House” nonsense! We furrow our brows the same way, we both eat like garbage compactors (though I “compact” it less than I did when I was a gangly teen…) and we both can’t control ourselves around John Stamos.


Can Cook

Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole

I am now realizing I also posted a sweet potato recipe last time. I swear I can cook more than sweet potatoes! I can also cook…regular potatoes! For real though, I made this at a family reunion that weekend, and it was a hit. But that’s not the reason I’m sharing it. I’m sharing it because I feel a duty as a citizen of the world to tell you that you DO NOT NEED THE TWO TWO CUPS OF SUGAR.

This is already very rich recipe. There’s butter. There’s brown sugar. There’s sweetened condensed milk. Heck, the potatoes have “sweet” right there in the name. It is the closest thing to a dessert that you can make with a vegetable. So I cannot fathom why the author of this recipe would advise you add another additional two cups of white sugar to it. I left both of them out, and they were not missed. You can trust me on this because I love sugar and still put it in my coffee every morning even though I know grown-ups are supposed to to drink it black.


Can Buy

Leesa Mattress + NUME Curling Wand

These past few weeks have brought some MAJOR, LIFE-DEFINING internet purchases into my home. The first, a mattress. The second, a curling wand. Sadly, neither have delivered on the completely-rational expectations I placed upon them. However, both these purchases (A Leesa mattress, and a Nume curling wand) did send me down insane internet rabbit holes and I learned two important things 1) There are people that identify as mattress bloggers. That’s all they blog about! And BOY do they blog about it in-depth! Like, breaking down the composition of a mattress inch by inch. It’s involved. 2) There are more hair youtubers than I ever dreamed possible, and every one of them has a hundreds of  video of themselves poised in front of a camera, breaking down the way their hair cascades, inch-by-inch.

However, there are no mattress AND hair bloggers. Which feels like a real missed opportunity. Imagine if these hair bloggers did their hair, then slept on a mattress for 12 hours, and THEN reviewed said curling wand? Now that’s a recommendation I’d heed.


Can Read

The Politics of Pockets 

This was fascinating. If you like fashion or history or pockets (what kind of monster doesn’t like pockets?) you’ll love this. And that’s all I’m going to say about that, because the 1000 word count limit is looming.


Can Follow

Stacey May Fowles

This one will really only appeal to the fellow Jays fans among us, but if your heart beats for the boys in Blue, you really must follow Stacey May Fowles. During almost every game, she live-tweets corresponding gifs that only enhance the experience. It’s a treat when they’re ahead, and a comfort when they’re down. Examples!

You’ll never want to watch a game without her! She also gave us the term “Dirt Bag Boyfriend” to describe Josh Donaldson. Which is just perfection.

Alright. I’m tired. I’m calling it quits, two categories short. I didn’t tell you what to stream, or even give you something to laugh at, but all in all, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’ve been up to on the internet lately. As for tonight, follow me on snapchat while I watch the Presidential debate and I will laugh until I cry or cry until I laugh. Could go either way!

Until next time!*


Internet Exploring #1

August 18, 2016 — 6 Comments

Internet Exploring #1 // Julie Van Can

Huzzah! Here we are, the official inaugural issue of Internet Exploring. Fun! AND, it’s on time. That doesn’t happen often. Just ask any one of my college professors, or high school teachers, or grade school teachers, or sunday scho–ahh you get it. Since I talked more than I needed to in my first post explaining this whole deal, I’ll get right to the goods.

This week, Julie Van…

Can Read

Monstrous Births 
This essay. Man. It hit really close for me. I don’t consign on all of it, but if you’ve read or heard my birth story, you’ll get why some parts really jive with me. Even if you’re not a woman or a parent, this is just a really interesting read about the way we moralize experiences and attach narratives to certain life events. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, read the last few lines. You’ll want to put them on a bumper sticker, and then go back and read the rest.

Can Laugh At

1977 JC Penny Catalogue 
This needn’t an explanation. The clothing speaks for itself. It speaks for itself so loudly that if the clothing were sharing an apartment with you, it would wake you up in the middle of the night with its insane, maniacal cackle. And no matter how many times you politely ask them to keep it down, it would REFUSE to be silenced.

Can Follow

Mari Andrew

This week’s “I DEMAND YOU FOLLOW” comes from my sister Laura, who has started the not-at-all unwelcome practice of texting me screenshots of Mari Andrew’s Instagram on a near-daily basis. She’s funny and clever and draws things are the so so TRUE. Follow her.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 12.17.52 PM

Can Cook

Sweet Potato Hash

In case I didn’t make it clear in my intro, I am not culinarily inclined. I can follow a recipe, and I know what trendy foods to Instagram, but these recipes will best serve readers with a similar cooking ability – people just looking for simple, tasty weekday meals (because weekends are for delivery, and if you don’t believe that, we may not get along). And so! Here’s an easy favourite you can make tonight. It’s a hash. You literally just put everything together in a big messy pile, and it’s delicious. The real reason I like this one so much is because of the chorizo. A few years ago, I started making a cheesy onion dip with chorizo, and every time someone said “Yum! Is that bacon in there?” I’d get to smugly reply, “Oh no, that’s chorizo. It’s Mexican.” So, bring your messy-pile-game to a conceited new level with this recipe.

Can Stream

Reply All

Here’s another recommendation directly lifted from my Sisters’ K group text: Reply All. It’s a podcast about the Internet, but you’ll figure out pretty quickly that tagline does it no justice at all. It’s two very likable fellas talking through some seriously bizarre + interesting stories, and the common thread (or cable?) through every episode is technology. It’s insightful and engaging and sometimes a little silly. What more could you want! I’ve only listened to a small smattering of episodes, but I’ve got the On the Inside episodes queued up for tomorrow, and I can’t wait.

Can Buy

Eye Buy Direct

I bought glasses! Partly because I’ve finally accepted my eyes have aged out of the “contacts” bracket, and partly because of Kelly Oxford. It’s a little misleading to say I bought them this week, though. I bought them two weeks ago, and GOOFED UP MY PRESCRIPTION SO BADLY I LOOKED LIKE BUBBLES FROM TRAILER PARK BOYS. So, I returned them (for free!) and my proper frames + lenses arrived today  (if you wanna see what they actually look like, you’ll have to follow me on Snapchat, or see me in real life. Personally I think I’m funnier on Snapchat, but I’ll leave that up to YOU). So in conclusion, I made a really stupid mistake, and they footed the bill. All in all, an excellent experience in e-commerce and customer care.

Can Meme

Fav 7 Shows

Twitter is having a moment with these “Fave 7” lists. I love lists and I am OK with the number so this was obviously something I’d attempt. And I did attempt. And I failed. Because I simply watch TOO MUCH TV and love each show like its my child. I wrote an initial list, realized I forgot a bunch of favourites, revised it, revised it again, and gave up. But Coach Taylor wouldn’t be cool with that, and TV is the only sport I’ll ever play, so here is my FINAL TOP 7 LIST. With a bunch of honourable mentions because I cheat like that.

The Americans
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Mad Men
The Office
Parks and Recreation
Breaking Bad

Honourable mentions: Fargo, Friday Night Lights, Enlightened, Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex Girlfriend. I have AT LEAST five more but I’ve got to stop somewhere.


And that’s it for the inaugural edition of Internet Exploring! Please go ahead and share your comments on anything you read or watched here. Writing about pop culture is fun, but talking about it is even better. 🙂

One edition down, a LIFETIME to go (or maybe like…40?).


New Frontiers

August 16, 2016 — 1 Comment

Internet Exploring

Alright guys. I’m going to try something here. It’s bold. It’s brash. It’s!…not really any of those things, but should be a mighty good exercise. I’m going to post a weekly internet roundup. And call it Internet Exploring. (Get it? GET IT?) This really *is* exercise for me because I’m very bad at deadlines, and not much for routines, either.

Here’s the deal: every Wednesday, I’ll pop in here with a little summary post of some of my favourite things on the Internet. The world certainly doesn’t need another roundup post, but I really do want to get back into writing/blogging more regularly, and this seems an easy way to do just that. Plus, it means all the time I spend looking at my phone might just benefit somebody else! Every week, I’ll share links in the categories below.

So stop in once a week to see all the things Julie Van…

Can Read: This will usually be a long read of sorts. An article, essay, or reflection that was worth my time, and hopefully worth yours.

Can Laugh at: The internet is full of funnies! Who knew?

Can Follow: A person I think you should follow. Might be a snapchatter, might be a blogger, might be a writer (…is probably a snapchatter.)

Can Cook: I solemnly swear to share recipes I’ve actually made more than once. They will probably not be gluten free. They will probably involve cheese.

Can Stream: Really, this is when I’ll just pass along all the good podcast recommendations my sister Adele gives me.

Can Buy: I don’t online shop much, but when I do, I’ll blog about it!

Can Meme: This is where I will participate in whatever might be the internet fad of the week. Like when everyone made those dancing elf videos! Or posted no-makeup selfies! (Which, BTW, won’t ever happen here, because those high school acne scars are DEEP.)

Alright then! Heeeere we go! Well, not yet. But heeeeere we go tomorrrroooow!


OH AND ONE MORE THING: I think I’m going to make segment this a Tiny Letter too. I don’t know entirely how they work, but it seems like all the people I like best on the Internet are doing it. This has been, so far, very good advice to follow, with the exception of those weird three weeks when people said Ello would be a thing. It definitely was not a thing. Although, ack, I don’t know if people reuse their blog content for their Tiny Letters…whatever. Sign up here and we will figure it out together!

Greatest Hits, Volume 1

August 11, 2016 — 2 Comments

Vintage Handmade Dress // Julie Van Can

Summer Party // Julie Van Can

Vintage Handmade Dress // Julie Van Can

Vintage Handmade Dress // Julie Van Can

Whoa guys! How ARE you, old friends? How has your summer been? (Or is it, “how has been your summer?” I really don’t  know. If you could explain the preposition rule to me, and THEN tell me about your summer, that’d be great).

Let’s pretend it hasn’t been 5 months since we last met here, and instead pick up right where we left off. Although, there’s one small hiccup with that plan: when we left off, I was 29. And now I’m 30! MeeeeOOOOOW! (…I don’t know what that was. It’s really hot outside. I’m rusty. It’s been 5 months!)

Back to it: I celebrated that milestone about a month ago today, and it really was such a great time, I said to myself many times since “I should blog about that.” And lo! Here I am. Blogging about it. Or at least I will when I eventually stop rambling and get to the point.  And the point is this! I thought a recap of my 30th birthday party would be a good excuse to get back to blogging because the whole event really served as a Greatest Hits Compilation of (most) everything and everyone I hold dear.

Were I to retroactively apply a theme to my party, it would be Classic Julie, because if there were ever Julie-themed Bingo boards (*GREAT IDEA ALERT*), this party dabbed every box:

My weird, vintage, handmade dress was thrifted for a song just a few days before the party (CLASSIC JULIE); the decor was an random explosion of every fun thing we could trade or buy (CLASSIC JULIE); the food was, honestly, anything I deemed delicious + much much cheese (CLASSIC JULIE); and all of it was pulled together and brought to life by my wonderful mom, who has the unique ability to make any space look and feel groovy-yet-classy, without a whiff of pretension. Lastly, and most importantly, the guest list was full of friends and family that I’ve either know for 30 years, or will certainly treasure for 30 more (SAPPY JULIE).

I’m not too sure how many of those years I’ll document on this blog, but I just renewed my annual WordPress Premium plan, so you can count on at least one more. And with a Greatest Hits album out of the way, it’s the perfect time to start working on some new material.

Summer Party // Julie Van Can

Vintage Handmade Dress // Julie Van Can

Summer Party // Julie Van Can


Summer Party // Julie Van Can


Gray Gardens

March 16, 2016 — Leave a comment

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A few weeks ago, I finally made it to Florida.

I say finally because, growing up in cold cold Canada, Florida was like some mythical, magical utopia. The lucky kids in our class would take off a few days before March Break, and return with sunburns and t-shirts with neon boats on them. The really lucky ones would come back with burns, shirts, and stories about Disney World. Well, I never made it to Disney world. I didn’t even get close.

But on March 3, to Florida I went. And on March 9, I came home with a sunburn, a t-shirt, and something else: a whole bunch of gray hair.

That’s right: I went gray in Florida.


Alright. That’s not technically true – but it makes for a good intro doesn’t it!

Now here’s the real deal: Of course I didn’t go gray in Florida. Old people aren’t contagious! Well, some of them are. But not like that. More accurately, a few weeks ago, under the blinding fluorescent lights in our Florida condo bathroom, I realized that I am no longer going gray: I’m gone gray.

It wasn’t really a surprise. The surprise came almost a year earlier, only a few weeks after Connor was born. There were only a few strands back then, but they were each of them undeniably silver. A quick trip to the Googleator revealed that sprouting a few gray hairs was a common occurrence after rough labour. A more involved Google search suggested a link between trauma and silvery streaks. Regular readers will recall I had both. Two points for Gryffindor!

rogueI developed a slight affection toward those colourless curls. I came to view them like the shock of gray Rogue gets at the end of the first X-Men movie: Hers, a result from being hooked up to a bunch of machines while some guy basically sucks years off her life. Mine, the same! Har har. But really, they were almost like visible representations of the battle my body fought to bring Connor into the world. And that’s kind of cool, right?

Anyways, despite the pride in my mutant locks, I eventually made my way to a drug store and picked up a box of the same colour dye I’d used for years: (Loreal Preference Medium Ash Blonde – 02!).

And that (as it was every year since my second year of university) was my routine. Every couple of months, right around the time my hair started to enter unruly-triangle-head phase, I bought a box of dye then went to get a cut, hoping my hairdresser wouldn’t scold me for being too cheap to dye it at the salon.

But this winter, for whatever reason, I got a little lazy. I let my very mousy roots crawl a little further down my head.

stormAnd that brings us right back to that fluorescent Florida bathroom. While the dull deceptive Ontario clouds let me believe my hair was still mostly just a dun-blonde, the bright beating lights of The Sunshine State allowed for no such denial about my roots: I’m not Rogue any more. I’m Storm. Well, I’m Storm on a cloudy day. But still.

The fact remains, my gray hairs are no longer a contained postpartum fluke. They’re the new normal. And you know what? I don’t care. Like, at all! I’m sure going gray before 30 would freak out a few of us. But I’m surprisingly chill about it – and I owe some of that to Florida.


Here’s the thing about Florida: In Florida, everyone is gray. And yet, there is colour from corner to corner. There are blue skies and pink buildings, rainbow beach umbrellas and orange beach bods. There’s something kind of lovely about the idea of gray haired folk deciding that, while their hair is no longer polycromatic, there’s no reason their surroundings can’t be. They don’t need highlights in their hair anymore: the highlights that bounce off a shimmering ocean at sunset will do just fine.

Basically, looking over my photos from Florida: my conclusion is this: who the heck cares what colour is coming out of your head when you have a world that will always be bursting with rainbow brightness?

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Now, were I to give this post an equally …DRAMATIC… conclusion, I’d tell all of you that I’m fully embracing my lovely lacklustre locks, and will proudly hashtag all future selfies #grayhairdontcare! But that, too, wouldn’t be technically true. Technically, I’ve got gray hair. I know it, you know it. But as my Snapchat followers also know, (username is JulieVanCan. Follow me!) I’m still planning to ride the boxed blonde wave a little longer.

If, and when, I decide to go gray all the way, I’m sure I’ll have no problem finding colour somewhere else. Ideally, somewhere very near a heated pool.

Have a colourful day, friends!