Tuesday, November 27, 2012

- a little sleep update -

So, yes, you all know...we have some sleep issues going on in our house. It's nothing new...little Miss Ellie has not been sleeping well for over 6 months now. Yes, it's just about every night...yes, it stresses our entire house out, every.single.night. Some nights she cries and screams, some nights she persistently calls out for me and some nights, she just lays in bed singing and playing, or staring at the ceiling. Those are the "good" nights...the ones where Matt and I can actually roll over and fall back asleep while our 3 year old stays awake for hours. She wakes up at least 2-3 times a night...on a bad night, it's more like 4 times. And yes, she can stay awake for hours. A couple nights ago she woke up at 2:30 a.m...finally fell back asleep at 6:15 a.m....yup, that's right...hours!

She does at least stay in her bed. She is really good about that. So we don't have to worry about her wandering around the house in the dark, and we don't have to deal with locking her door, or putting up a gate to keep her in her room. And she doesn't ever come into our room and try to climb into our bed. She never has liked co-sleeping with us. She just wants us around...in her room keeping her company. She doesn't really want to sleep right next to us in the same bed.

About a month ago I was at my wit's end. Lack of sleep was finally getting to me and I was so stressed and tired. I decided the best solution was to just put a mattress in our room and let her sleep on the floor of our room. That way we could get some sleep, and she would know that she was close to us, and not alone. Of course, I figured that would take a couple of days to facilitate (turns out we don't have any spare mattress laying around our house!), and within those couple of days before I even got around to setting anything up in our room, she magically started sleeping perfectly fine. Whew, problem solved right?

Wrong! That only lasted 3 or 4 nights, and then she slowly started back into her normal waking routine. I decided instead of actually purchasing a mattress and opening up our room to her, I would call her pediatrician one more time about the issue to get some more advice. I have talked to her many times about this and she has given me many useful suggestions and advice, all which have failed to help us, unfortunately. However, after my latest conversation with her, she agreed that over 6 months of only getting 6-7 hours of sleep per night for a child her age is not healthy at all. She suggested melatonin, which I had already looked into, and was really hesitant about giving her. I know A LOT of people use it with success for their kids, and there is nothing wrong with that. I just have a hard time knowing that my child needs a sleep supplement at her young age. Plus, I don't ever want her to get dependent on anything, no matter how natural it is. Her Dr. knows my hesitations about giving her supplements, no matter how natural they are, and agreed that we shouldn't leave her on it long term. She told me to give her the lowest dose possible (an adult normally takes 3-5mg, we are giving her .25mg) and to only try it for 2 weeks, in hopes that it will just help her body "reset" it's sleep cycles. We are currently on day 3 of the melatonin...no difference in her sleep yet...sigh. I'll keep at it for the full 2 weeks, and will stop immediately after if it hasn't helped. I still don't love that I am giving her a sleep supplement, but I also know that a 3 year old should not be getting only 6 hours of sleep per night. That can't be good for her mind, her body, or her development. So as torn up as I am over the melatonin, I'm still hoping that if I keep at it just temporarily, it can help her get a good night's sleep.

I do have to say, I've had some amazing people reach out to me and offer advice, support, or just words of encouragement through out all this. And I am so grateful for that! It's amazing how stressed and upset you can get due to lack of sleep, and there have been a lot of people that have been so supportive over the past 6 months.

I will also say though, that I have had a handful of people criticize my decisions, or question the methods I am trying. I know it kind of comes with the territory of being a parent, and there is always someone out there that will judge you as a parent, but it certainly doesn't help an already frustrating situation. When I told some people I was going to try letting her sleep in our room, some people were aghast. "Why in the world would you start her on that "habit" at 3 years old. She's so good at staying in her own bed, why would you mess with that?" And when I mentioned melatonin to some people, I definitely got raised eyebrows from some people..."Melatonin, for a kid that young? That can't be good for her." Here's the thing...until they've spent one night in our house, most people just don't get it. I can tell people until I am blue in the face what happens around our house at night, but no one really gets it unless they've been to our house overnight, or, unless they also have a toddler/kid with sleep issues. It's not fun, people! I'm not doing some of these things just for the heck of it! I'm doing them because we are desperate to get her a good night's sleep, every night, because that's what a toddler needs!

As much as I have complained, and cried over this issue in the past 6 months, I am so grateful that we aren't having to deal with more serious health issues. We are so blessed that Ellie is healthy, and happy (even with her lack of sleep). And I've survived lack of sleep before when Ellie was younger (oh, have I mentioned that Ellie has always been a crappy sleeper...yeah, sleep issues are not a new thing around our house), and I know I will survive again. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other. We will make our way through this and soon, we won't even remember that it was ever such a big deal in our house. That's one thing I have learned back when I had a refluxy, colicky, high needs, difficult baby. There is a light at the end of the tunnel! This too shall pass and God will never gives us more than we can handle. It might just take a little more time for us to realize that!

Monday, November 26, 2012

- quick recipe of the week -

Sooooo, turns out I took an unintentional break from my blog this week. With the Thanksgiving holiday, and get togethers with friends and family, and Matt and I off of work for 5 days straight, I just found us so busy, and blogging was put on the back burner. We did have a wonderful break from work, and a wonderful Thanksgiving with both friends and family. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of either of our Thanksgiving dinners (yes, we had two). I took a break from my camera to really enjoy the festivities, so alas, you guys will just have to imagine how our Thanksgiving looked.

We actually leave later this week on a little vacation, and I am so.darn.excited! I won't be blogging (leaving my laptop at home!), but you can definitely find me on Instagram (user name, kynad) to follow us on our adventure!

Today I am sharing with you a super easy, kid friendly recipe that I found on Pinterest (well, adults like it too, but it's super kid friendly!) I don't know many kids who don't like it, except of course, my kiddo, who won't touch anything with sauce on it. She says sauce makes her food "dirty"...and she will only eat her food if it's "clean" (sans sauce). Yup, that's Ellie for you! Lol!

Crockpot Ravioli Casserole
1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef or turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt/pepper to taste
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed, or fresh spinach, washed
16 oz. bowtie pasta, cooked
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded

Brown ground beef/turkey with onion and garlic. Put in crock-pot and add sauce, tomatoes and seasonings. Cook for 6-7 hours on low. Add the last 4 ingredients during the last 30 minutes of cooking and turn crock-pot to high.

(Image credit and recipe credit http://becomingbetty.blogspot.com/)

It's seriously an easy week night dinner that will be a hit with both kids and adults alike! I hope everyone has a great week, and please come follow me on Instagram (user name, kynad) for pictures of our exciting upcoming vacation (have I mentioned how darn excited I am?) Now, I should probably get to packing! Have a wonderful week!

Monday, November 19, 2012

- quick recipe of the week -

Hello and happy turkey week to you! Hooray to short work weeks! We had a fairly uneventful weekend, but sometimes that's okay!

Today I am featuring an amazing and awesome blogger that I have known for quite some time now. Christine from, Apartment 46. I adore Christine! She's such a sweetheart, and such wonderful mom to her adorable boy named, Sam (that I promise you will just fall in love with). Christine is a wife-mama-nurse, residing in the soggy land of Portland, Oregon. She loves garage sales, sweaters large enough to double as throw blankets, and she likes my coffee off-white. Anything with sugar is her favorite food. And while she may be many things, she claims that ‘chef’ is not one of them. So today she is sharing a super easy, no bake recipe with us. Christine promises that if you whip this up, you will probably be nominated for the title of Best-Chef-Woman-in-the-Whole-Western-Hemisphere {or something of the like} when you serve it at your next dinner party.

(Image credit Christine)

No Bake Oreo & Cream Cheese Dessert
1 package regular Oreos
½ cup butter, melted
1 large box of instant chocolate pudding
16 oz cool whip
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

Crush the whole package of Oreos—I did this with a bag and a rolling pin, but you could also do this with a food processor. Set aside ½ cup of the cookie crumbs to sprinkle on top when you are done. Spread the remaining crumbs in the bottom of a 13x9 pan. Pour melted butter on top of
the cookie crumbs. Mix butter and cookie crumbs well, then press firmly into bottom of the pan,
forming your crust. Make the chocolate pudding as instructed on the package and allow it to set in the fridge. In a separate bowl, blend the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Then fold in 8
ounces of cool whip. Top the Oreo crust with the cream cheese mixture, then add the layer of pudding. On top of that, spread your last 8 ounces of cool whip and lastly sprinkle the top with the cup of Oreo crumbs. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

(Image credit Christine)

This would be the perfect dessert to serve this week at your Thanksgiving dinner if you are looking for a yummy alternative to pumpkin pie! (or, even better, serve it in addition to your pies! No one counts calories on Thanksgiving do they?)

Now, run over to Christine's blog and thank her for this delectable recipe! And while you're there, get to know her! I promise you will love her as much as I do! She's simply the best!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

- a letter to my three year old -

Dearest Ellie-

Today, my baby girl, you are three years old. You are growing up so fast, but we are enjoying every minute of it. 

Ellie, you bring so much sunshine and light into our lives, I can't even put it into words. Your smile absolutely lights up a room. Your laugh is like music to our ears. Your cries when you are sad or upset tear at our hearts. We love every single part of you. 

You are so smart, and quick witted. It's so much fun to watch you learn. You're shy and sensitive like your momma. Passionate, but dramatic like your daddy. You love music and dancing and anything and everything girly. You are absolutely perfect and I want you to always, always remember that.

You love your daddy so much, but right now you are a such a momma's girl. You're my little buddy...my sidekick. You tell me all the time that I'm your best friend. I know this will change as you get older, and you realize all the cool things that your daddy can do. But for now, I am loving how much you want to be with me.  

 Happy birthday my sweet baby girl. You are the light of my life, the joy in my heart. I love you to the moon and back again. You are my sunshine, my snuggily buggily, my perfect little girl. I love you so much!

(All image credits... the always amazing Nina S.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

- the third birthday party -

So this year, I promised my darling hubby I would keep Ellie's party small. We scaled down the guest list quite a bit compared to her first two parties, and it turned out it was a good thing we did. The forecast said rain all day, and while it didn't actually rain, it was very chilly, and most of the guests ended up inside our house instead of in our backyard. I can only imagine how chaotic it would have been if our guest list was doubled!

I also didn't hire my dear friend/photographer, Nina, to come take pictures during the party like I have done the past two years...I figured with a small party, I could handle the pictures myself. Big fail! I think I only got a total of four or five pictures with Ellie actually in them! Lesson learned...hire Nina for every party from here on out!

The extent of my craftiness this year pretty much was just a few decorations on the dessert table and few more things hanging around the backyard. Like I said, we kept it small this year, and that included the decorations! And of course, like every year, my wonderful and amazing mom helped me pull off all of the decorating. There's no way I could ever do all this crafting myself!

Cupcakes, cake pops, and an ice cream sundae bar...yummmm!

Love, love, love my girl!

This might be my favorite picture of the entire night...all the kids! The three older siblings holding their baby sisters/brother are hilarious! Please note that Ellie has ZERO friends her age that are girls...all of her friends are boys! And yes, most of the people we know with kids her age already have baby #2....(the little boy in the blue t-shirt is the only other only-child we know). But, hey, we are okay with that! We are doing this "adding to the family" thing at our own pace...(but that's another blog post for another time :-)

Monday, November 12, 2012

- quick recipe of the week -

Happy Monday everyone! We had an amazing birthday party for an almost three year old (T minus 4 days). It's crazy how much older Ellie seems already. She acted so grown up this weekend...it was fun to watch, but also sad for this momma.

Today I am sharing a super, super yummy and easy recipe. Say hello to these babies...

Taco Stuffed Shells
1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
1 package taco seasoning
1 four ounce package cream cheese
12 large pasta shells
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 cup Monterey jack cheese (shredded)
1 ½ cups tortilla chips (crushed)
3 green onions (chopped)
1 cup sour cream

Cook the ground beef/turkey and add taco seasoning. Prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and allow to fully cool. While burger is cooking cook the pasta shells, drain and toss well with butter. Pour salsa in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place the stuffed shells in the baking dish and cover the tops of the shells with taco sauce. Cover and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, uncover, and sprinkle crushed chips and shredded cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses on top. Cook for about 15 more minutes. Serve with sour cream, additional salsa, black olives or whatever you think goes good with tacos!

(Image credit http://blogchef.net/)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

- busy planning for three -

We will have a three year old in exactly one week! One week! She'll be three! Wow, where does time go? She's growing up before our eyes, and I just want to soak her in...every single moment with her.

We're having her party this weekend, and even thought I promised my hubby I wouldn't go overboard this year...it's almost impossible. I love, love, love planning parties, and I just can't go small, no matter how hard I try.

So, I'll busy for the rest of this week...planning a party, for an almost three year old. I'll be back next week!

Monday, November 5, 2012

- quick recipe of the week -

Happy Monday everyone!

We had a great weekend...but can I tell you how not excited I am about daylight savings?? Ugh! Let's face it...we really don't get an extra hour of sleep with a toddler in the house, and I hate how dark it gets so early. As much as I love all the holidays that winter brings, I'm not going to lie...I don't love the darkness, the cold weather, and everything else that comes along with this season. 

Today, I am super excited to introduce you to Leah, from Beautifully Molded. Leah has a pretty amazing blog...the thing I like best about her?...she's so real on her blog. I absolutely love reading blogs that are about real, every day life! Leah loves to cook, (although she may not ALWAYS have the energy to). It's where she can be creative to her heart's content. She really would love for her family to enjoy more healthy options, so she tries to sneak in veggies whenever she can. She has three children and a husband that keep her hands full, and are the loves of her life!

(Image credit Leah)
Lemon & Spinach Spaghetti Squash
1 medium spaghetti squash (a large one and will make about 4-6 servings)
2 handfuls of spinach
3 tbsps of lemon zest
olive oil
salt & pepper
Italian herbs seasoning
Parmesan cheese
chopped red bell pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash lenght wise. Scoop up threads and seeds and set aside. Drizzle olive oil on spaghetti squash and season with paprika, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste and rub into squash.Place halves face down on cookie sheet and heat for 55 minutes or until completely tender. Take out of oven and with a fork, fluff out the 'noodles' onto a large bowl.Chop spinach and toss with spaghetti squash. Zest lemon over spaghetti to your liking. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve with red bell peppers.

(Image credit Leah)

If you've never tried spaghetti squash before, you should know that's it's pretty darn tasty, so don't be scared of it just because it's squash. But you should also know, that as much as it looks just like pasta (it's uncanny really), don't expect it to taste just like pasta. After all, it is squash...(even though it has "spaghetti" in it's name).

Thank you so much Leah! This is definitely a great way to get our veggies in! Please go say hello to Leah and check out her blog. And try this recipe out...it looks so good!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

- we conquered halloween -

We came, we saw, we conquered...with a lot of blue...my little Cinderella princess...

She got a lot of loot...most of which we recycled and passed back out later that night...because Lord knows we do not need a bucketful of candy sitting around our house...tempting us...taunting us...

She had a blast...she smiled all night. It was a good Halloween!

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