29.9.20

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! 

                  

26.9.20

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

17.9.20

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.  

14.9.20

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!


2.9.20

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 :)

When Every Moment is Holy

Doing laundry, heading to work, changing diapers, doing house repairs... these are mundane, even grueling aspects of daily life. When you think of everyday tasks such as these, does your heart soar heavenward with brimming hope that God is present and has purpose in this moment? Mine doesn't either. 


I tend to keep my head down in the drudgery, and offer up only stocatto prayers if I run into need. I don't tend to consider the regular moments of life as holy moments, and that's why I have come to use the liturgies in Every Moment Holy daily. 

Part poem and part prayer, liturgies draw the heart in the direction it was made to go - heavenward. Every Moment Holy is a collection of modern liturgies for every imaginable daily moment and I've absolutely loved reading and praying them. ⠀
When I can't sleep, there's a liturgy for that. When you receive dreadful news, there's a liturgy for that. When my kids are off to school, there's a liturgy for that. Why liturgies for such mundane earthly tasks? Because in those Christ is present, which is the most important takeaway from this book for me. Christ is not more present at church, or when you're curled up with a hot tea (or toddy!) reading your Bible, or when you're singing hymns. He's there in the muck and mire of daily life in this fallen world, and that makes every moment beautiful and indeed holy. I can't recommend this book enough. Read it, memorize it, savour it. 

This post was in collaboration with Every Moment Holy,
however it's a book and principal I've loved for a long time.
I strongly recommend it with an unbound heart!
to book a collaboration, contact me.

30.7.20

Having a Newborn in the Pandemic

Perhaps some of you reading this are pregnant or hope to be pregnant, and the pandemic has brought about concerns greater than the typical pregnancy or conception worries. Maybe some of you are new moms, facing all of the firsts in a Covid-era seperated from the "village" that you assumed would be your help. I have many friends who have conceived and given birth since Covid-19 arrived on Canadian shores in early March, and one of them was brave enough to share her story for a video series my church has recently produced. 

Noemie was one of my first friends in Montreal, and was a key member of my "village" as I was pregnant with Oli and Chloe. She would take Lily for playdates when I needed to nap, often cooked meals for our family, and even showed up with a bottle of wine when all three of my kids contracted lice! I was delighted to hear that she was pregnant with her first baby and dreamed of the many ways I would support her as she supported me. Then Covid hit.  Visits, babysitting, and special deliveries brightened the hazy newborn days for me, and for first time moms during this pandemic, they've been lost. This is worthy of our grief. Noemie shares her experience in the French video below. I hope you'll watch it, and I hope it brings comfort to any who are in the same situation. Hugs to all the mamas. XO

29.7.20

The Kids' Shared Tween Room!

As always, our three kids, girls and a boy, happily share a room. I know this is scandalous to some, but it works for our fam! Over the years our kids have grown incredibly close and I think it's in large part thanks to them sharing their toys, books, and space constantly. Some day we do hope to move to a slightly larger apartment in the city and have three bedrooms, which would provide a bedroom for two of the kids to share, and one solo kid room, but that's not happening any time soon. Our kids understand this, and any of their friends who have siblings share a room too - it's city life! But as they get older we have made a few changes which culminated in this bedroom makeover with the goal to keep them as happy as possible in their shared space.


Decorating for a shared room with girls and a boy has it's challenges, but typically my style is quite neutral anyway, so it works for us. I've always aimed to keep their furniture and bedding white and let them add colour with their favourite objects, toys, and artwork. To see the kids' room before this makeover, see here. We used to have grey and white striped walls (which I painted nine years ago!) and mainly white bedding and furniture. It felt very personal and bright, but it was starting to feel a bit kidd-ish, especially since the kids' room hadn't seem any major changes since the kids were toddlers. Lily in particular, who is about to turn 10, has started wishing her bedroom was a bit more grown up. Oli, who's almost 9, is easygoing about their room, but he's starting homeschooling in the Fall so I was interested in making some sort of desk corner for his work during the day. Chloe, who is almost 7 didn't care what I did as long as I kept a place for her stuffed animals and her owl collection ♡


The biggest change was painting over the grey stripes with a warm white (Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace). I didn't realize what terrible shape the walls were in until I painted over the countless scuffs and stains. Nine years and three kids can do a lot of damage! Painting the trim was so gratifying! It's such an easy chore and makes a huge difference. 


Another big change was the kids' bedding. I teamed up with Maison Tess to try out their new kid's line of Muslin bedding. I'm usually kind of colour-phobic and keep things as neutral as possible, but their colours are so beautiful!! We chose the Amber Muslin Duvet Cover for Oli's bottom bunk and the Rose Muslin Duvet Cover for Lily's top bunk, both with a Whisper White Muslin pillowcases. Since the floor trundle bed isn't seen during the day, we've planned to keep our regular white duvet there. 



These duvet covers are incredibly soft and look even better with several washings. They're so soft we have no need for a flat sheet and even on hot nights the kids insist on using their duvets! You may remember that Brad and I also use Maison Tess linens so we already knew we'd love the product. They're handmade in Portugal and the quality is unmatched. I also love Maison Tess for being a women-led Montreal small business. Initially I wanted linen for the kids' room because it's what we have and we love it, but Muslin is truly the perfect kid's fabric. It feels like every kid's favourite blanket!



I also reorganized the kids' books and bought two new bookshelves to house their growing library. Tip: Making stacks of large book series saves a lot of space on the shelves and it's sometimes easier on the eyes than the rainbow coloured spines 😂


The large chest of drawers holds all of our Playmobil and some of our boardgames. Each child also has their own drawer for their personal treasures. Their closet keeps all of their clothing, costumes, and countless bins of Lego. The mirror on top is a new addition, something I found for $10 last summer while thrifting. It makes the room look larger and Lily especially loves it! The tall book shelf with two drawers is where the play food and doll clothes live. It may look like they have no toys, but they have a fair bit, just tucked away. I assure you, during the day it's never this clean, but we have a rule that around 3pm each day they need to pick up their room. With three kids in one room, it's impossible to keep it clean for long, but I also figure with three pairs of hands, the work to keep it clean should be light. 


This makeover took 12 hours and was a whirlwind (it's amazing what you can do when childcare is incredibly scarce and you find yourself with a few hours of it!) I painted the first coat of paint when a friend of ours offered to take the kids out for ice cream and some park time for a couple of hours. While the paint was drying, I fed the kids dinner, hung out with them, and tucked them in on our pull-out couch. With the help of Melatonin, they were all asleep very early (6:30pm) and far from their bedroom. I finished the second coat of paint at 8:30pm. I then painted the trim and did some touch-ups on their mid-century desk while the paint was drying. by 10:30pm the paint was fairly dry so I started moving the furniture around a bit and cleaned the floors where I'd dripped paint. Their new duvet covers were stuffed, beds were made, all furniture was placed and the room was cleaned by 1:00am. The next day I was literally limping! I didn't realize it at the time but painting is hard work!! I was in rough shape for the next 24 hours, but it was worth it to finish a burdensome project so quickly and surprise the kids in the morning. 

I'm thrilled with the end result and so are the kids! Their room feels more mature, organized, and fresh and at little cost of money or time. We still have another two or three years in this apartment before we'll be ready to leave and I think they'll be happy in this tween space until then. 

Sources:

Bunk beds, floating shelf, two bookcases, white lamp on desk, circle rug - Ikea

Oval couch (actually an ottoman covered with a spare linen sheet) - thrifted 

White chest of drawers - Goldtex Kids (see here for post)

Top and bottom bunk linens - Maison Tess kid's collection (coming Summer 2020!)

Bird wall art, mirror, accessories on dresser, Chloe's owls, most books - thrifted

Mid-century desk - roadside find (see here for the transformation!)

Desk chair - Prunelle (similar also on Amazon, Structube, etc)

Top bunk dress pillow - H&M Home

Bottom bunk dress pillow - Indigo

This post was in collaboration with Maison Tess
All opinions are 100% my own.
To book a collab, contact me!

26.6.20

Selah Paper

Today I wanted to share a small shop and dear friend that I know you'll love as much as I do - Selah Paper. Selah Paper is led by the creative genius Sarah Kim, who's soul is in every work of art she creates, and now she's selling scripture prints and compassion cards that I find not only beautiful but deeply moving. She was kind enough to send me a print of my choosing last week, along with some of her sympathy cards and I'm so grateful. 


Sarah is someone I met on Instagram (This may sound strange, but there are some true gems on there if you're willing to go beyond liking a picture and actually engage!) and she's been a constant encouragement to my faith these few years. She regularly creates calligraphy of what Bible verses she's studying at the moment and she very vulnerably shared the loss of her son earlier this year. This is a woman who isn't just making art, but sharing her soul and anyone who follows her is richer for it. 


Her prints make the perfect housewarming, wedding, or baby shower gift and the cards are a must for anyone who's ever found themselves at a loss of what to say to a grieving friend. We chose the Joshua 24:15 print in 8 x 10, which declares, "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" as a daily reminder of why we live and our deepest prayer for our children. 

G I V E A W A Y !

Today through Sunday I'm running a giveaway on Instagram that you'll want to check out. Selah Paper is giving away two scripture prints of your choice - one for you to keep and another for you to use to bless a friend. To enter you must be following me (@emmorrice) and @selahpaper on Instagram, and then tag a friend in the comments. That will give you one entry, but you can have additional entries by tagging more friends in additional comments (each comment = another entry). Sharing the original giveaway post in your Instagram stories will also give 10 additional entries! The winner will be announced on Sunday evening. 

The post was written in collaboration with Selah Paper.
All opinions are 100% my own. To book a collab, contact me!

21.6.20

Going Back to Work After 10 Years At Home

When I began my maternity leave with Lily I had no idea that I'd be home as the primary caregiver for my children for the next decade. And now, ten years after becoming a mom for the first time, I'm working outside the home again.

The kids and I out for ice cream with my work friends
(both girls are wearing shorts from Mini-Cycle and Oli's t-shirt is from them, too!)

We always took me being a stay-at-home-mom one year at a time, so all I knew at the start was that I'd be home for the next 12 months, thanks to the generous maternity leave offered by the Canadian government. I had a double university degree and a job I loved, plus, as an extrovert I enjoyed spending my days with dozens of people in a professional capacity. However, we'd always lived frugally and always wanted several kids in a small span of time, both of which led us to being a one income family and me as the primary caregiver. 

I learned I was pregnant with Oli when Lily was just four months old, so instead of going back to work after my maternity leave ended, I was preparing to give birth again. Without any nearby family to step in, we were raising two babies on our own. Both Brad and I working 40+ hours a week on top of caring for our babies would have been extremely chaotic. Totally possible (and I know it's done all the time), but not what we wanted if we had the choice. My income was missed, but Brad's increased a bit and we weren't spending anything on childcare on top of finding other ways to save money (cloth diapering, buying only used clothing, and living quite simply saved us thousands). 

While I wasn't making money, I was incredibly fulfilled with Motherhood. I loved our comforting routine, the flexibility we had without work or daycare, and being there for every little moment. I loved that I was the main influence in our children's lives and that they too were together all day, forging an incredible bond. And surprisingly, I didn't miss work at all. I've always been ambitious, so when I became a mother my ambition just pivoted to our kids and our home from my previous work.  

Chloe came along less than two years after Oli, completing our family, and for a couple of years we had all three children at home together. It was loud, chaotic, exhausting, and wonderful. Lily started kindergarten at age five and I began taking on writing work and growing this blog to the place where I was accepting sponsorships and collaborations when they felt right for me and my message. Writing and blog work continued for the next five years, as it does today, but that was all working from home and easy to fit in around naps and quiet times. Even when Chloe began kindergarten last year, our schedule was quite full and the kids still needed me a great deal. Adjusting to school in a new language, extra-curriculars, church involvement, volunteering, and keeping our home kept us all busy, and Brad was by then working quite long hours. 

For ten years Brad and I never once questioned our decision for me to pull back professionally and be a full-time homemaker. But as the kids grew and our life settled into a routine, we both began to see time that I could invest outward again. Over the past year we had many discussions about what it would look like for me to take on work outside the home. I wasn't looking to work full time and I wanted evenings and weekends off. Ideally, I'd find something that was precisely when the kids were in school (9-3) and that was a great fit for me personally, lining up with my values. This felt like a unicorn of a job posting and not one I'd likely find, but that's exactly what happened when I was offered a job with Boutique Mini-Cycle

You've read about Boutique Mini-Cycle on the blog, and know I love to shop secondhand and local. Their business model lines up perfectly with things I'm passionate about  - sustainability, thrifting, reusing, capsule wardrobes, and simple design. For those who don't know, Boutique Mini-Cycle is a Montreal-based children's clothing shop that sells sustainably made and high quality brands, as well as secondhand clothing. Their new and used clothes are all beautifully designed and well made (no fast fashion!) and they guarantee to buy back the clothes you buy from them when you're finished with them. The best past was that upon being hired I was given the choice to work as much or as little as I'd like when in the office, so I could coordinate with Brad and the kid's schedules. I now work every Monday (Brad's day off) from 9-4 at Boutique Mini-Cycle taking pictures, organizing and valuing secondhand pieces and then another ten hours from home creating content for their site.  

While it's just part-time, it's been a big shift for our family. I have less time with Brad, missing the whole day that he's off (he works the other six days a week), so we need to be more intentional about guarding our evenings together, but on the plus side, Brad gets more quality time with the kids. I enjoy my work so much that it often feels like a break from regular life (especially the past three months of homeschooling). My colleagues are lovely and the work environment is so positive and stress-free. The added income is a huge bonus too, as we look forward to paying for braces and semi-private highschool in the years to come.

I had initially thought that starting in September when the kids were back at school would be the best time to look for a job, but when I was offered employment during the Pandemic I jumped at the opportunity to be out of the house for a day each week (with social distancing measures in the office, to be sure). I am a homebody and love being with my kids, and for the past ten years I've had no regrets as a stay-at-home-mom, but this new season feels like the perfect fit for our family and I'm so ready to take the next steps.