How We Came to Celebrate Advent, What It Means to Us, and How to Get Started

Are you familiar with the Advent season? Are you wondering how early to begin with your small children, or how to engage your older ones? Are you wondering if it's too late to start Advent or that it would be too complicated? Friends, I'd love to help by sharing our experience. 

I was not raised celebrating the season of Advent. The chocolate Advent calendars which always began on December 1st were as close as I got to the season. Many years later when Brad and I both became Christians, and eventually became parents, we knew we wanted to mark Christmas with joyful celebration and profound reflection so we thought a lot about how we'd do that with a young family. Early on, we decided not to include Santa in our Christmas festivities (though we have always given presents and most years we've had a tree). It wasn't for many more years though, that we'd incorporate Advent into our Christmas Festivities. 

Advent is the season preceding Christmas and is marked by celebrating the four Sundays before December 25th. For this reason, the date of Advent is always changing (it's Sunday, November 29th this year). Most liturgical churches celebrate Advent (think Anglican, Catholic, etc) but few Evangelical churches do, though that's changing. I believe our generation's desire for deeper roots and the comfort of traditions is what's leading many Evangelical churches and Christians to begin celebrating Advent. It's certainly what has drawn me in these past few years, but I digress. Advent is leading up to Christmas and aims to awaken joy and anticipation for the day of days, Christmas! When Christians all over the world celebrate the dawn of Salvation. The beginning of the greatest story ever told. The birth of the King.

There are countless ways one can celebrate Advent. Some celebrate Advent only on the four Sundays before December 25th, others (like us) celebrate every day of Advent, or every few days when schedules allow (also us). We intend to gather around the table and celebrate Advent every evening, but some days we run out of time or someone is ill or we're too tired and we say without guilt, tomorrow! Advent is a reminder of God's grace to us, so please don't let it turn into an obligation or source of guilt. If you miss a night, pick it up the next. If you miss a week, pick it up the next. If you're missing many evenings, consider that you've over-complicated Advent and simplify. 


For my family, Advent always includes the lighting of candles, the singing of a Christmas carol 
(which truly are the best worship songs ever written!) and the reading of scripture and memorizing of scripture (one naturally leads to the other), and is generally 10 minutes per day.

The symbolism of lighting four candles progressively through Advent is beautiful and tactile and one of my favourite parts! Young children are always in awe of flames, made even more special if other lights are dimmed, so as long as they are seated a safe distance away, I suggest using candles even from a young age. You don't need to spend a lot of money on a candleholder either. I've owned three over the years - two were thrifted for a few dollars and another was a $10 Ikea bargain. Or use whatever candles you have on hand. The point is light - representing Christ, the light of the world. We light one candle the first week, then the second week we light the first week's candle and the second candle, and so on. When all four candles are blazing, our hearts are too! It's a beautiful way to anticipate Christmas. 

The singing of carols began as a desire to teach our kids the lyrics to all the classics, especially since our church is French so they weren't learning them there. As our kids have grown it's sweet to hear them sing every word of some of our most cherished carols, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World, O Come O Come Emmanuel, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Silent Night. I found an old Hymn book secondhand that has a whole Christmas section, so we sing from that but you could do any simple Google search to find the lyrics to your favourites. We choose a few each Advent and rotate through them until everyone knows the words. This is especially great for little ones who can't read but after repeated listening can memorize. 

Reading and memorizing scripture is the third aspect of Advent for us, and each year we change the passage. One year we read John 1:1-12 every day of Advent and by the second week my kids were finishing my sentences and eventually knew it all by heart. There were no drills or contests, simply the daily practice of reading the Bible. Other years we've read the Old Testament prophesies of the Messiah (which were all fulfilled by Jesus Christ) or Romans 5:1-11, which isn't particularly Christmas-sy but is focused completely on the gospel. You could choose any passage! For us, the importance was just being in the Word together, taking it to heart, and focusing on the eternal promises of God in a season that highlights such temporary joys. 

Our kids were 3, 5, and 6 when we celebrated Advent for the first time. Inspired by a thoughtful mom friend (hi Brit!), I found a candle holder at a thrift store for a few dollars and bought some secondhand children's books that focused on the nativity. We gathered around the candles, lighting one each week and read a story. Later we'd add Christmas hymns and scripture, and the story would be read during other times in the day. It was simple, even with young kids, and oh so meaningful. 

Christmas so often seems to sneak up on us, doesn't it? The week before we're often frantic, racing to bake and buy and decorate, and the truth is, in all of this activity our faith can often take a back seat. The aim of Advent is to delight our hearts in Christ, who came at Christmas to save us from our sins. Starting a full four weeks ahead of Christmas gives us ample time to linger with the Christmas story, meditate on scripture, and form new habits. I don't know about you, but I'm terrible at waiting. Advent turns my impatience into joyful reflection with these small acts of lighting a candle and singing a carol. Advent has become in itself something we look forward to, which makes Christmas seem much richer and longer a holiday. 

Advent teaches us to wait well; refocusing our hearts on the real meaning of Christmas, lessening the power that temporary treasures have on our hearts, and savour the saviour. This year is our forth year celebrating Advent and these last four Christmases have truly been the best ones. We arrive at the tree on Christmas morning not looking for the gifts to fill us, but with hearts already full of joy and worship. Jesus Christ is our greatest gift and Advent builds our affections so well.

 ps - Tomorrow I'll be sharing some of my favourite tools (devotionals, games, books) that I bring out at Advent each year and help enrich the season, if you'd like some more practical suggestions!


We've Never Done "Santa" and the Kids Are Alright!

We're that family that doesn't do Santa at Christmastime. The more I talk about this online, the more I realize there are actually many families like ours, and at the very least, there are many families out there with a bit of dissonance around the whole thing. If you'd like to read a detailed post on why we don't do Santa, see here, and if you'd like to read my most recent musings on why it's been a great decision for us, see here. I can now say, as a parent of kids who are past the Santa age (they're 7, 9, and 10) that it was the right decision for us and our kids are quite alright!

Today I wanted to tackle a few often asked questions. Especially with all three being school aged how did they handle the Santa secret with their peers, and how did we navigate the many Santa-themed activities they do at school, and aren't they feeling a bit left out?

Keeping The Secret 

We've always insisted that our kids don't spoil the secret for others. It's the choice of every individual family and we're not about to have our kids hurting feelings over a fun tradition. That said, last year two of our kids were asked head on from peers if they believed in Santa. This is where it gets awkward, because we don't want them to lie for obvious reasons. 

We've taught the kids to say, "I personally don't believe in Santa, but you can believe whatever you want!" 
They don't say why they don't believe (because we told them the truth!) as that would probably convince their peers and we have no interest in making other kids not believe in something that's special for them. I think it's so important for kids to learn from a young age that it's okay to have opposing beliefs and to communicate them respectfully. 

Santa Themed Activities

Our kids have all attended public school with the exception of Oli beginning homeschool this year. This means come December, every craft has a Santa theme and every song is about him. Honestly, I just let it go. Our kids know full well that he's not real but it's fun to participate in these songs and crafts at school. As with many things in life, they've learned that they won't always share the beliefs of their peers and that doesn't mean they need to break fellowship with them or be offended by everything.

Feeling Left Out? 

I'm often asked if our kids are left out by the lack of "magic" that Santa provides for the Holidays. I can say confidently that this has never been the case for our kids! As Christians, Christmas is magic because God became man and dwelt among us, and because that miracle means life everlasting for all who love him. There is nothing more magical than this beautiful news! We focus our hearts on the joys of the season beginning with Advent (this year it's November 29th, fyi!) and for the next four weeks we're constantly coming back to encouraging Bible verses and our favourite Christmas songs. The anticipation that Advent provides to Christmas is amazing and makes the Holiday last longer. I'll be writing about Advent this week for anyone interested!

This may go without saying, but our kids still receive gifts on Christmas morning like any other Santa-believing children. They're not missing out! The added benefit is that instead of them thinking the gifts came from a fictitious character, they understand that they came from their parents who love them, and they can practice gratitude practically. Our kids look forward to Advent and Christmas all year round and have the fondest memories of our Christmas traditions. 

To be honest I'm glad we're past the Santa years (generally by grade 2 kids no longer believe in him, from what I understand) so it's no longer a *thing*. We have no regrets in not including Santa in our Christmas festivities and we've been able to teach so many life lessons as a result. We've been able to magnify the importance of Christmas as Christians and not get distracted by competing narratives, our kids have learned to speak confidently about their beliefs in a respectful way, and they've learned that there will be many times in life that they don't see the world the same way as their friends - and they can be both bold and loving in those times and maintain fellowship despite differences. 


Oli is 9!

Our darling Oliboy is 9 today! His creativity, curiosity, and care never cease to amaze us. We couldn't have asked for (or even imagined!) a better fit to be the centre of our kid sandwich. He encourages and protects and teaches his sisters so much, and makes our job as parents sweet. No child is perfect, but gosh he's a good egg. 

For his birthday he cared most about the food - so his father's son! He asked for an English breakfast in the morning (sausage and bacon with his eggs), Schwartz smoked meat for lunch, and shrimp tacos tonight for supper. 

For gifts he asked the girls for secondhand books and pistachios with the shell on (he insisted on that as he likes the challenge, lol!), which they happily found and spent their own money on. Seriously, that was his wish list. Easily pleased, brimming with gratitude, always eager for new experiences  and clever beyond his years. So grateful for our boy, and just can't believe he's already 9! 

Big thank you to Boutique Mini-Cycle for the beautiful and durable Fluff Coat that he's wearing here!


Autumn Spice Cookies!

I was *so tempted* to call these pumpkin spice cookies, even though there's no pumpkin in them whatsoever, because most things that carry that monkier don't have any either, but I resisted the urge. 

Autumn spice seemed perfect, because though I find the flavours of cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon comforting and nostalgic, I don't want to taste them in April or July. They're cold weather flavours, those warming spices, and made for Autumn. These cookies too are made for Autumn. 

You don't need turtlenecks, sweaters, and squirrels, but goodness they are perfect for a Fall cookie! The essential is really the warming spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. The glaze is tasty but completely optional. Enjoying these cookies on a cold day with hot tea is a must!

Autumn Spice Cookies

Wet Ingredients
1 C butter, softened
1 C granulated sugar 
1 large egg
1.5 ts vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients
3 C flour
1.5 ts baking soda
1/2 ts cinnamon
1/2 ts nutmeg
1/2 ts cardamom
pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 350, line cookie sheets with parchment paper
2. Mix together the wet ingredients and in a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients
3. Combine wet and dry ingredients until a ball forms
4. Roll our in batches and using cookie cutters, make your shapes. Another option is to simply make small balls and press them flat
5. Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes

(optional) Glaze:
3 tb icing sugar
1 tb 35% cream
1/4 ts of combinced spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom)
- whisk all together and drizzle on cooled cookies

Happy Autumn, friends!


What I Love About Our Kitchen & What I'd Change

Anytime I'm in a home, the room I'm most eager to see and the one I'm likely to spend the most amount of time in is the same - the kitchen. It's truly the heart of the home in my opinion. I love standing around a kitchen, glass of wine in hand, chatting away while something delicious is cooking. That's my ideal way to spend an evening with friends (Remember when friends could come over for supper? In Montreal, that's still a distant memory with Covid restrictions, but at least they're fond memories).

One day I dream of designing my own kitchen and making all the choices. Perhaps when we move in a couple of years to a slightly larger flat in the same neighbourhood. Anything larger than our current house in this neighbourhood will be a big price jump so we'll probably have to go fixer-upper style. Meaning I might get to realize this dream! Thinking ahead, and just because I love kitchens, I'm always noting what I like and don't like in a kitchen. My own kitchen being my case study, here are the things I know I love and those I just don't. 


I love a white kitchen. Food and spices and grains and cookbooks bring the colour I want - keep the rest white, I say! White cabinets will probably always be my choice.

I love our subway backsplash. We had it done years ago and it made a huge difference! 

I love that our kitchen is open. There are only three walls with the other "side" left open to the rest of our open concept home. 

I love having an island with stools. It's a natural place for the kids to take most of their meals, for homeschooling Oli, and for meal prep overflow. Under the island is also where I store our compost bin, recycling, and garbage (not shown) and a huge tub of our all purpose flour (shown).

I love our magnetic knife strip.

I love how I display my cookbooks.

I love having clear canisters for grains and flours (buying in bulk saves packaging and money, plus it's pretty).

I love displaying my favourite tea pots and dishes (I'd love real open shelving, but since we aren't able to renovate this kitchen I removed the doors from our cabinets).

I love how there are a lot of drawers.

I love our appliances. We bought the stove and fridge secondhand off kijiji when we moved and have never had a problem. We won't move them though.

I love that we installed under cabinet lighting (cheap, from Ikea, provides a lot of light!)

I love our sink faucet - the head is extendable so the entire sink gets clean as well as large awkward things like big pots. Couldn't ever go back to a stiff faucet!

I love how we hang our pots and pans to save space and for ease.

I love our Montreal print (by Bess Callard)

Ahh, that felt good. I should do this more - listing all the things I love about something. Especially when that something is a kitchen I can find myself complaining about from time to time. Highly recommend! And definitely start with what you love, because next up is less peachy.


I'd change the corner sink - it's so depressing washing dishes in a literal corner! No view, no space, no light. Whyyy??

I'd change to a gas stove in a heartbeat.

I'd change the range hood, as ours works very poorly (or maybe we just have bad ventilation living on the second floor or a triplex?)

I'd change the countertops in a flash. White or pale grey quartz, please.

I'd change our corner cabinets. The foldable doors are wobbly and awkward and corner cabinets are never used to their potential as the far apex of the corner is just way too far back! 

I'd change our cabinet faces to shaker style - ours are more traditional with some moulding that isn't my jam.

I'd change our island from the Ikea unit we currently have to a built in, real deal, matching countertops to the kitchen, island. I'd also make the island a bit longer so we could fit three stools across the one side.

The most major change I'd make is natural light! I really really want my kitchen of dreams to have a window. Seems like not much to ask, but you must consider that we live in a classic Montreal triplex, which means windows on the front and back only. But a girl can dream...

I loved hearing from you on this Instagram post all the things you'd change and love about your kitchens. Keep the comments coming over there!


Autumnal Terracotta Vase DIY x Astilbe

My interest in the terracotta painting trend started small. One lamp, some simple black paint, and some baking powder. But all along I had my sights set on buying some autumnal hued paint and going to town on a collection of vases, which is exactly what I did with a couple of girlfriends last week. 

Mixing 1 tablespoon of baking powder with about 1/2 cup paint makes the paint thicker and more textured and gives a matte finish reminiscent of terracotta pottery. It's incredibly easy and transforms your old vases - such a gratifying project! 


I loved this project because it combined my three decorating loves: buying secondhand, DIY, and shopping small. All of our vases were bought for $0.99-$3.99 secondhand and then we filled the painted vessels with gorgeous dried florals from local florist dry bar Astilbe


It was hard to choose just two colours of paint from the many autumnal shades available, but we wanted to keep things simple, so finally I narrowed it down to one terracotta orange and one warm dusty rose. At most paint stores, you can buy a sample size of any paint colour for $5 and between three of us one small sample size in each colour was enough to paint a dozen vases of varying sizes. Since we were also splitting the cost between us, this project was incredibly affordable! I should add that I had white paint and paint brushes on hand.

I was so pleased with how my vases turned out! I filled each one with dried florals from Asilbe which I'd chosen earlier that day, and I have to say it was a very hard decision! Asilbe is typically an events florist, but in our Covid world, they've pivoted to focus more on their boutique, which has the widest array of dried florals I've ever seen! Their dry bar has all sizes and types of dried florals, and you can make your own bouquet with as much or as little. I was after some pampas grass and a few delicate florals to add to smaller vases. Astilbe did not disappoint! 


I love the pops of warm colour that these vases add to our mostly monochromatic home. A really fun project to do with girlfriends and a must for affordable Fall decor! 



A Warehouse Sale + a Dream Come True

You all know I love a bargain, which typically means I buy things secondhand but when I can't, I always look for a sale. Almost every store has a clearance section, and it's the first place I go. Today I struck gold at a warehouse sale, finding a long desired and special piece of furniture that makes me nostalgic beyond words and incredibly thankful. 

When I heard that Prunelle, a local Montreal small business with a wild selection of Scandinavian furniture was having a warehouse sale, I was there in minutes. Not kidding! Easy in this case since the sale is right in my neighbourhood, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal. What I found was a lovely little tulip based white marble end table, which we'll use as our coffee table in the living room. Since we have a cosy living area, we've always used an end table as a coffee table surrounded by our sectional sofa. Small space living tip: always buy furniture to scale and not what you think you ought to have. But I digress... 

It's been a dream of mine to have a white marble table somewhere in my home since I was newly engaged, so over a dozen years. I've seen white marble in every kind of home from traditional to modern, which tells me it's a classic. It will never go out of style or not fit in my home. I distinctly remember writing a speech for my grandmother's funeral in an Airbnb in Stockholm on a white marble table. I sat for hours with my memories as Brad took the kids out to explore (we received the terrible news as we were flying to Sweden). I sat on the floor at the coffee table and wrote my speech. Every morning of that trip I woke early and had my coffee and breakfast at the same table. A significant number of our pictures from that leg of the trip have the white marble table in them because I was so drawn to it's beauty. Yes, it's just a table and my life was full and complete before Stockholm and before today when I became the proud owner of my own. But these little bits of beauty are worth noting, so I hope you'll indulge me. 

I would have preferred a white base, but at warehouse sales one can't be picky. I will likely paint the base white or even just a matte black as the current tulip base is rather shiny. Buying a marble table at full price isn't an option for us however, so I'll gladly take my slightly chipped black tulip base and dream up ways to perfect what already feels too good to be true. 

The warehouse sale has all sorts of items, priced from $19 to $499. There are incredible savings to be had! I saw our beloved tulip base dining table for 1/3 of the regular price and our dining chairs for 80% off. Everything is either discontinued or with minor scratches. Given the quality of these pieces, a small scratch doesn't deter me at all. The furniture at Prunelle is designed and built to last, which often means it's also expensive (and rightfully so), but not at this sale!

The sale is at 1589 Ave Mont-Royal East and they're open every day. If you're interested in going, I encourage you to hurry as the sale ends on October 4! All the information can be found here


Wistful Thoughts on Fall & Apple Picking

Covid or not, you'll still find us paying to pick our own fruit in sweaters that are too hot to wear by noon, haha!

It's Fall and these constants are so refreshing. So much has changed. Insert heavy sigh here. The way our kids go to school and we go to work. The way we go to church and meet with friends. The way we travel, or don't. The way we unwind, or don't. It's exhausting reminiscing about the freedoms we enjoyed last Autumn compared to this one. Last year when we frolicked in and out of cafes for pumpkin spiced drinks unmasked. When I flew to Scotland with a friend and had a week kids-free (still pinching myself!). When our kids birthday parties were allowed to be indoors and no one had ever heard of Microsoft Teams or Zoom. It gets heavy remembering those pre-Covid Autumns, so maybe let's not.  Let's just glory in the small and silly pleasures that Fall affords, like apple picking outside the city and pulling out warmer clothes.

Covid or not, September is still hopeful. Fresh starts abound and new is always exciting (even if it's also scary). The weather is perfectly chilly in the mornings and fresh and sunny most afternoons. The leaves are slowly changing, but we haven't packed away our Birkenstock's just yet. And if you live in our part of the globe, you're going Apple Picking. Like always, we went to La Magie de La Pomme which is about 40 minutes from our home in the heart of the city. 

Speaking of the small pleasures of new fall clothes, Lily and I are wearing mainly thrifted pieces, but Oli and Chloe were treated by Boutique Mini-Cycle to some lovely new clothes recently. Oli is wearing a long sleeve tee, from the iconic Spanish kid's company Bobo Choses and thrifted jeans, and Clover is wearing top to bottom Phil and Phae, a ethically-sourced kid's company based in the Netherlands that I'm in love with! Both of these companies are sold at Boutique Mini-Cycle new and often appear in their re-cycle (used) section too. High quality clothes may cost more, but as I've witnessed working at Mini-Cycle's recycle program, they really do last and last, holding up in quality and style for years to come. 

Apple picking was just what the doctor ordered last week. We gloried in all things Fall, eating a picnic lunch and ordering super indulgent apple fritters before climbing apple trees, playing with goats and lambs, and picking enough apples for five apple crisps (my freezer is packed!) 

I think we'll be back to select some choice pumpkins and gourds in the weeks to come. Last Autumn and it's freedoms are a thing of the past, but there is still beauty and delight to be found this season. We're re-learning this every day.  


Terracotta Lamp DIY

Have you seen the hashtag sweeping Instagram DIY land, #trashtoterracotta? OK so first of all, I wish I invented that hashtag because it's hilarious. Secondly, I jumped on the bandwagon hard last week. 

The idea is to paint your old house wares with a mixture of baking powder and paint to get a terracotta clay look. It's insanely easy and quick (we're talking 5 minutes!) and so satisfying to see the transformation! 

I was intending to do a few vases in the actual terracotta hue (burnt orange) but could only find black paint at my Dollar Store so I figured it would be the perfect project for my thrifted brass lamp. Originally from Zara Home but found at Salvation Army, this lamp is lovely but I was a bit over the metallic look. I've shared before about how I love incorporating pops of black in my living room, so you can guess what happened. 


I mixed 1/2 cup of paint with about 2 tablespoons of baking powder. The paint was black and a tiny bit of turquoise to give it a blue hue, but really it just looks black and I'm ok with that! The baking powder puffs up the paint and gives it a great texture, just like real pottery. I love the result! Coming up next, those terracotta vases!


Back-to-School 2020

Like most other aspects of 2020, back-to-school has been full of firsts. As I alluded to in a previous post, we have chosen to homeschool Oli. I'll be writing a lot more about that choice, curriculum, and our experience in the future, so for now I'll just say it's proven to very much have be the right choice for his unique learning pace and our family. 

The girls began grades 2 and 5 last week at our regular local school, which is 100% French. I'm often asked how our kids read so well in French and how they became bilingual, and I assure you, I had very little to do with it. The teachers and fellow students did it all! We simply sent them to French school. In Quebec this is the de facto option for most families though Canadian Anglophone families have the right to send their children to English school if they choose. We had the choice between English and French and we chose French. Though English schools have some French, they don't produce bilingual graduates (though I'm sure there are exceptions), and being fluent in French was very important to us. Brad and I both learned French in our 20's and it's been an uphill (though worthy!) journey, so we wanted to give our kids the chance to learn young. By being fully immersed in French education, the kids were all fluent in French by the beginning of grade 2, if not sooner. That said, all three are bilingual and Oli is still receiving a French education, albeit at home. 

For the girls, going back to school after six months off was very exciting and even Chloe, who sometimes hesitates about school, was thrilled to be back. I know schools everywhere are handling Covid-19 very differently, so I can only speak to our unique experience in Montreal when I say we feel very safe sending our girls back to public school. The rules at the girls' school are as follows:

  • Students over 10 must wear a mask at all times, except in the classroom (during recess, when approaching and leaving school, in the hallways, in the bathrooms)
  • Students under 10 do not need to wear a mask at all, though it is recommended - Chloe wears one
  • Each classroom is considered a "bubble" meaning the group are exposed to one another's germs but no one else's. This means they're together in class, for gym, and at recess, and not exposed to other classes (the school yard is divided into separate areas for recess and classes don't do joint activities as they normally would)
  • Parents must wear a mask for pick up and drop off
  • Teachers wear masks everywhere except the classroom
  • Borrowed books from the classroom are put in a "quarantine" for several days before they're lent out again
  • Students no longer change for gym class, so on gym days they're asked to wear athletic clothing and shoes
  • Water fountains are no longer in use, so students bring water bottles (most already did)
  • Students must eat lunch at their desk, which is 2 metres away from every other desk. Our girls eat lunch at home every day, which is new this year.
I won't lie, sending them to school on the first day clad in masks felt surreal and a bit unnerving, but two weeks in and it's completely normal to us. I think as adults we find it more upsetting than kids because we have 30 or 40 years of experience without wearing a mask, but I've found our kids have been incredibly resilient and that seems to be the general vibe at school too. Masks have become a cute accessory. Every kid carries extras in their backpacks and it's become a fun activity to choose what mask the girls will wear each day (we have quite a collection now - some from small businesses, others from big box stores) If your child hasn't started school yet, you'll just have to trust me, it does begin to feel normal. Kids are highly adaptable and the teachers are doing an incredible job to make the classroom a comforting and calming environment despite the new rules. 

In all, it's felt very different this year, but that back-to-school excitement is still a real thing and the pandemic hasn't blunted it. Kids are still making friends, learning to read, and dividing fractions. Teachers are still connecting with students, working their magic, and establishing a classroom ethos. As parents, I think it's on us to carefully communicate our hesitations or frustrations in this season, because our kids really will be fine, though they're definitely shaped by our narrative. I'll admit I didn't do the best job of this during distance learning in the Spring, but I'm determined to do better this Autumn. Of course it's early days and the girls haven't even had any homework yet, but we're all feeling quite good about this school year :)