Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Time for another round of Friday favorites.

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I wrote earlier this week about our ongoing sleep challenges. I found this post at just the right time - it was exactly what I needed to hear and it encouraged me to continue to follow my instinct and let go of any guilt I was/am feeling about my daughter's sleep patterns.

These DIY Christmas ornaments

DIY {Glitter} Twine Ball Ornament.  Easy to follow step-by-step tutorial!

How to Fold Paper Stars 

I've done so much pinning over the last two or three Christmases and I don't think I've actually done anything that I've pinned. This year's going to be different. I already bought supplies to make both of these ornaments, so I'm committed! I'll be posting my results once they're done!

Nanaimo Cheesecake

This combines two amazing desserts...Nanaimo Bars (a Canadian delicacy, in my opinion) and cheesecake. Say no more.

This video

Who doesn't love Kid President? He's got some great advice in this video called "20 Things We Should Say More Often".

This moment


I did a bit of Christmas decorating this week, and it so fun watching Tessa chase ornaments around and gaze at the lights in the window. I'm so excited for her first Christmas!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013


I didn't do a "thankful" post for Canadian Thanksgiving back in October, so I thought I'd do one today, in honor of my American friends, many of whom I have been so blessed to get to know recently through blogging, as you celebrate Thanksgiving today.

I'm also feeling as though I spend a lot of time thinking and talking and writing about things that aren't going well or that frustrate me - which is ok, and sometimes necessary. I've said before that I want this blog to be honest and real and true. I don't want to sugarcoat things and make it sound like our lives are perfect all the time, because they're not. I want to be open and honest about my struggles and challenges, not to vent or complain or to get sympathy, but to let others know that it's ok to struggle, to not love every moment, and to encourage others in knowing that they're not alone.

The truth is that motherhood is hard, but it's also so, so, SO good. I want to make sure I'm giving as much (if not more) attention and space on the blog to the good things. Because there is just so much that I have to be thankful for. So without further ado, here's what I'm most thankful for today.

Grandparents, aunts, and uncles who love our little girl (almost) as much as we do.

Especially my mom friends who I've been so blessed to walk this road with.

The house that has become our home.

Jobs that provide all we need and then some.

This precious year to stay at home with my daughter and be there for moments like these.

  These family.

For a husband who changes diapers, reads stories, washes dishes, folds laundry, shovels snow, mows grass, goes to work every day for us, makes me laugh and think and be silly, and loves us so well.

For a precious daughter who has taught me so much about grace, patience, sacrifice, and unconditional love. Tessa, I am so thankful that I get to be your mom.

And most of all, for a loving Father God who has blessed me with all these.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Back to Square One...

Well, maybe not quite square one, but there have been moments over the past weeks that sure feel like it. About 2 months ago, I wrote about our struggles at night (read part 1, 2 & 3) and at that time we had decided to try some sleep training. It seemed to have worked because for the past 8 weeks or so, Tessa was consistently sleeping glorious 9-10 hour stretches. It was heavenly.

You'll notice I said was.

Over the last two weeks, things have been so up and down and completely unpredictable. Take this weekend, for example. Friday night was good, Saturday night was bad, and Sunday night was great. I think maybe I could handle the nights much better if there was at least some predictability to them. This feels like the newborn days all over again.

I guess I shouldn't really be surprised. She just got over the worst illness she's ever had and she's working on at least one new tooth. I was also recently introduced to the concept of "Wonder Weeks" by two fellow mommy bloggers (check out Hannah's post to learn more) and have discovered that she's very likely right smack dab in the middle of a major developmental leap.

So, I guess you could call this a "sleep regression", or maybe you could just call it "normal infant sleep".

And what have I learned through this latest challenge?

First of all, it's NORMAL. When things started to derail, sleepwise, the question my husband and I were constantly asking each other was "what's wrong?". I soon decided that the answer to that question is NOTHING. Nothing is wrong with either my baby or us as parents. My daughter (like all babies) is undergoing massive amounts of physical, mental, and emotional development through this first year of her life. Sometimes it seems like she just gets a skill mastered when she hits another milestone and has to work her way through the learning involved in perfecting yet another skill. In addition to the stress of all these huge cognitive leaps, she also has to deal with physical development like teething and growth spurts. She hardly gets a break. It shouldn't really come as a surprise when she has fussy, clingy moments and a few rough nights when she's in the middle of these rather large changes.

Second, all is NOT lost. I may have exaggerated when I titled this post. Ok, I definitely exaggerated when I titled this post. We are not back at square one, thankfully. But it's easy to begin to think this way when you're so frustrated and sleep deprived. Babies are hard work, and when you've put in the work and you finally begin to see progress only to have it come to a screeching halt at 1am and 2:30am and 4am, it's easy (for me, anyway) to feel defeated and hopeless. It's so important, though, to keep things in perspective. To remember that these are just minor bumps on the road that will eventually smooth themselves out.

Finally, my daughter's sleep (or lack thereof) is not necessarily a reflection of my ability as a mother. On one of the most recent really bad nights, as I got out of bed for the 100th 4th time, I actually said out loud to my husband, "I suck at this". As in, the reason my daughter is awake again is because I'm a terrible mom. Um, no. Not true (I realize that now, but exhaustion can make you think, say, and do some crazy stuff!). I love my daughter more than anything, and I know that I'm doing the very best that I can. I've read that sleeping through the night is a developmental milestone like any other that babies reach when they're ready. Sure, I'll give her all the help I can to get her there as soon as possible (for her sake as well as mine), but maybe what she needs most is unconditional love, grace, understanding, and a whole lot of patience from her parents when she's having a rough time. If that means I need to rock her or nurse her, so be it. I refuse to blame myself, put myself down, or feel guilty for comforting, loving, and feeding my daughter and doing what I need to do to get us through a night.

Why go around when you can go under?
This girl is really starting to love her books! Makes her mom & dad happy!

Have you gone through a "sleep regression" with your little ones? How did you deal with it?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

How is it Friday already??

This week was a blur. My parents came for a quick mid-week visit, and my mom brought some of her yummy goodies for us (thanks Mom), including these dangerous little cookies! Dangerous because you can't eat just one - you've been warned!

I wanted to share this recipe on the blog, but haven't had a chance to make them recently, so the ones in these pictures were made by my mom. They're easier than they look and absolutely delicious!!

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine all ingredients.
Roll dough into 1" balls and place in cups of a mini muffin pan.
Bake for 8 minutes - cookies should puff up in the center and fall when removed from oven, forming cups.
Let cool slightly, then press a small peanut butter cup into the middle.
Let cool a little longer before removing from pan (if removed too soon, cookies may be too soft and chocolate may seep through bottom of cookie).
Above recipe makes ~48 cookies.


*I just installed the Disqus commenting system on my blog and I apologize if I do not reply to your comment - I'm still trying to figure the system out! Past comments are currently being imported into Disqus so I may miss some in the meantime. Hopefully within the next 24 hours everything should be up and running! Thanks for your patience!  ~Nancy

Monday, November 18, 2013

CARA Box Reveal

    I participated in my first ever Cara Box Exchange this fall, and it was so much fun getting to know two new bloggers and sharing gifts with them. If you're not familiar with the Cara Box Exchange, it's a way to meet new people and share some love through gift giving. Each participant is matched with two other people - one to send a box to and one to receive a box from. I was paired up with Terri and Tawnya. Check out Terri's post to see what I sent her.

     I received a beautiful box from Tawnya and was spoiled by her generosity and great taste! Included in her box to me was a gorgeous scarf, a journal, a personalized mug and my favorite Starbucks drink (Peppermint Mocha - it's already almost gone!!), a Nutmeg & Spice scented candle (amazing!), silicone cupcake liners for my baking addiction (awesome!), and my favorite chocolate - Reese Peanut Butter cups (which are already completely gone!).

     The really cool thing about this particular match-up is that Tawnya and I live in the same city, have baby girls just a few months apart, and are both nurses! How crazy is that?

     The next Cara Box exchange starts in just a few weeks, so be sure to head over and sign up. It's a great way to build community and make a new friend or two. It's also an opportunity to be generous and give to someone else, while also receiving some lovely gifts handpicked just for you! Win win!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Faves

     This is my first time writing a "Friday Favorites" post and linking up with Jennie and Lindsey. Usually I don't have my act together enough to be paying attention to my favorite things from the week, never mind getting them all together in a post for Friday morning, but for some reason this week was different. I've also really enjoyed reading other people's Friday Favorites posts and have found some great recipes, articles, Etsy shops, and inspiration for all kinds of things through them, so I wanted to join the fun. So, in no particular order, here are my favorite things from this week:


She says it all so well! I was nodding along and probably saying "yes" out loud as I read it. Especially #1, #2, #3, #6...oh, just all of it! Mamas, go read it.

I was starting on some Christmas shopping this week (yes!) and was browsing through the children's section of Chapters when the title of this book caught my eye. I read through it right there in the store, dried my eyes and bought it for Tessa. It's exactly how I've felt so many times - wanting to keep my baby little, but at the same time wanting her to grow up and being excited to see who she'll become.

Starbucks Peppermint Mocha is my all-time favorite drink, but I only allow myself to buy it when it's actually on the menu at Starbucks - so from early November to the end of December. To me, it just tastes like Christmas and I think it would be a little weird ordering it in July. This year, they came out with Peppermint Mocha that you can make yourself at home! Um, yes please!! I got this in my Cara Box (more on that next week) and have already almost polished it off. Christmas in a cup!

This song

Yes, I've already started listening to Christmas tunes (and once I start there's no stopping until January!). We discovered Over The Rhine's Christmas album last year and I think it's all fabulous, but especially this song.

I stumbled upon FallCode on Etsy this week, completely by accident, and I'm so glad I did! I love it all...and bonus that they're a Canadian shop too! Everything looks so cozy and I just love the tree branch buttons on the hats. I might actually enjoy going out in the snow and cold with one of these gorgeous hats on! Now to decide what to buy....

These moments:

10 months old!!!
All recovered from her sickness and back to her silly self.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Just a Teeny, Tiny Bit

     We had a pretty crazy week over here. It started last Saturday when Tessa seemed to be coming down with a cold. By Sunday afternoon she had a fever that lasted until Tuesday night. On Thursday morning, she woke up with a rash on her belly which, by Friday morning, had spread to her back, neck and parts of her face. All this during the biggest measles outbreak in our area in 16 years! Talk about panic, paranoia, worry, anxiety, name it, I felt it last week.

My heart breaks a little every time I see this sad to see her so sick!
     I've always been a worrier, long before I was a mom. I remember as a kid and teenager sometimes laying awake for hours at night thinking about one of my parents dying or me getting some terrible illness. When we first brought Tessa home from the hospital I had many anxious moments, mostly at night, where I would imagine something terrible happening to her, my husband, or me. If I let it, my imagination can run pretty wild with all kinds of what-ifs and awful scenarios. I've lost a LOT of sleep over the years due to worry, and now that I'm a mom, I expect my worry to continue to be just as bad, if not worse.

     And as I thought about it last week while caring for my sick daughter with the constant worry of measles running through my mind, I think I came to the conclusion that maybe a teeny tiny bit of worry is ok. Just a teeny tiny bit. Here's why:

  • The reason I worry is because I care. I don't know if it's possible to be a parent without worrying, at least on occasion. We love our children more than anything and want only what's best for them. Obviously, we don't need worry to prove this to ourselves or anyone else, but I think worry (in small doses) is a good indicator that we deeply care about something.
  • It keeps me alert and attentive. I can't count how many times I checked Tessa's temperature or looked her over for a rash last week (ok, maybe I was bordering on obsessive). I was on high alert and nothing was going to get by me. I think a little bit of worry keeps us on our toes and makes us sit up and pay attention to what's going on with our kids.
  • It motivates us to action to control the things we CAN control. Why do we install locks on cupboards and put up baby gates at the top of the stairs? Because we worry about our kids getting hurt. When our kids get older, why do we teach them not to talk to weirdos at the park? Because we worry, so we do whatever we can to hopefully prevent bad things from happening.

     Of course, I know that God commands us not to worry (Matt. 6:25-34, Phil. 4:6-7), so I want to do my best to obey that and let go of my worry. But I think God also knows that, as humans, we're prone to worry. We're so quick to let the worries of life overshadow His love and goodness. That's why we're also told to give our worries to Him (Matt. 11:28-30, 1 Peter 5:7). Maybe He knows that, as humans, we're unable to fully let go of worry, all the time...that occasionally (or regularly, if you're me) it creeps back in, so He gives us a way out.

     What's the number one response I get when I tell someone I'm worried about something? "Don't worry". My husband has to tell me ALL.THE.TIME. to not worry about something or other. But, since I've never in my life been able to find the worry switch, much less turn it off, I think maybe a better response is "Don't over-worry". I think it's ok, and completely normal, to worry about things. Of course, if you're one of those people who can actually stop it, great. If you're like me and can't seem do that, it's important to learn how to manage your worry and keep it in check. Out-of-control, irrational, crippling worry is not healthy for anyone, but I think maybe, just maybe, a teeny, tiny bit of worry, kept under control and channeled in the right direction, can actually be helpful.

    I don't know, am I completely out to lunch on this? How do others deal with worry?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

When Life Comes to a Halt

     We had a sick little girl on our hands over the weekend (high fever, cough, stuffy nose, and just generally feeling icky) and it was not fun. I'm sure many of you can relate - having a sick baby sucks. Period. She had some minor sniffles about 6 weeks ago, but was still her usual happy self, so we thought having a sick baby wasn't too bad, but this time around, whatever she had/has was much worse.

     My husband said it best - when the baby's sick, life comes to a halt. I didn't leave the house all day Sunday and on Monday I only went out after Cam got home from work for a much-needed grocery run. I just didn't want to take Tessa anywhere, so she stayed in her pajamas and we had a quiet day at home with lots of cuddles, stories, and naps.

     If you know Tessa, you know that the above photo is not her AT ALL! She normally doesn't sit still for 5 seconds and definitely doesn't lay down anywhere but her crib and only when she's fast asleep. Yesterday, if I put her down on the floor, she either just sat there and cried, or just put her head down and laid there, totally ignoring her toys. Poor little girl!

     By afternoon nap time, her fever was quite high and she seemed very lethargic, like to the point of not being able to keep her eyes open. I was starting to get a little worried. I gave her a dose of Baby Tylenol and put her in her crib, then called our local Health Link number. I wasn't sure how high of a fever was too high (after reading conflicting information online), or how long a fever should be left (she had had a fever for almost 24 hours by that point). I'm a nurse, and I've been around some very, very sick people as part of my job, but when it's your own child, it's a completely different story. I'm Tessa's mom, not her nurse, and I just needed some reassurance that she was OK.

     To further complicate things, our area is in the middle of a measles outbreak, so of course, all I can think is that she has the measles. I keep checking everywhere for signs of a rash - so far, so good, but it's always in the back of my mind. I'd also be really hesitant to even take her in if things get worse. Given her symptoms, we likely wouldn't be allowed to enter a doctor's office and if we were to take her to the hospital and explain her symptoms, they would most likely send us directly to the isolation unit where all the suspected measles cases have to go right now. So, if she didn't already have the measles, she'd most likely come in contact with it by going in. And if we were to go in, all they'd probably do for her would be Tylenol and fluids, which we're already doing at home. So that was what was going through my head all day yesterday...hoping she didn't get worse so we wouldn't have to make the tough call of whether or not to take her in and knowingly expose her to something worse than she already had. Thankfully, I think she's on the mend today - still feverish, but more perky and active - I've even got a few smiles out of her today.

     It's so tough to be a mama to a sick baby. I now understand so much better the feeling of wishing you could take someone else's pain and suffering yourself. I felt so sad for her and so helpless yesterday - other than giving her Tylenol and trying to keep her hydrated and, of course, loving her, there was nothing else I could do. On top of that, it's so hard to know when she might need more help than I can give her at home, or how long to just wait it out. It's such a tough call, and hopefully one that we won't have to make any time soon.

     Here's to a (hopefully) healthy winter!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Peanut Butter & Jam Muffins

     I came across this recipe in a cookbook I've had for years while looking for a new muffin to make for a playdate I hosted this week. The original recipe calls for chocolate chips, but also gives the option to substitute jam in place of the chocolate. I love PB&J so I thought these sounded so yummy! And they were! I made them the night before the playdate, then warmed them up a bit in the microwave before serving so they were just a little warm and the jam was nice and gooey. I think next time, though, I'd use even more jam!

Preheat oven to 400.
Grease a 12-cup muffin pan (or line with paper liners).
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.
In the container of a blender or food processor, combine the peanut butter, milk, eggs and vanilla. Blend or process until smooth.
Add to the flour mixture, stirring just until everything is evenly moistened and combined.
Fill each muffin cup about half full with batter. Create a small crater in the center of each with a clean finger or spoon. Place approximately 1 tsp. of jam or jelly in the crater and cover completely with remaining batter.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

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