Changing

Big CH-CH-CH-CHANGES are happening in our household!(Edited to add: I am NOT pregnant! 🙂 )

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And someone ^^^^^^ is pretty excited about it. Winking smile

I can’t say much for now, Craig and I still have a lot of thinking, talking and praying to do. But I just wanted to let you know what I may be stepping back from blogging for a bit.

Although, Gabriella is taking HUGE steps forward…

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She is using EVERYTHING as a walker. Including the box of our favorite beer. HA!

I can’t wait to share everything, once WE figure it out. I promise more details to come. For now, I’ll just say that I’m excited! Open-mouthed smile 

Have a WONDERFUL day!

Oh, and PS, look at this:

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My bad habits are rubbing off. Gabriella can’t get enough of Lululemon either. Uh oh!

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Agendas

I didn’t have a post planned for this morning, but then I did a devotion in my Bible Study book this morning & HAD to share. It really opened my eyes, and I think it may have an influence on some of you too.

The book we are using for Bible Study is ‘Tune In’ by Jen Hatmaker. It is a WONDERFUL book, and I highly recommend it. You can also do the study on your own, it doesn’t  have to be with a group. Either way I think you would really enjoy it. The book is written in a modern context and her writing style just really makes things clear. One minute she is making you laugh, and then the text she writes something so powerful that it really makes you think.

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(^picture from Amazon Winking smile )

In the chapter regarding ‘peace,’ I read this passage:

‘We must lose our pride to gain salvation. OUR AGENDAS MUST DIE IN FAVOR OF A LIFE OF SUBMISSION. We sacrifice selfishness for holiness, pleasure for righteousness. Those are HARD TO LAY DOWN.’

The words in caps REALLY hit me. How often do we try to plan out our lives? I mean everyday I have an ‘agenda’ for the day that I plan out in the morning. It could be something silly, like what I need to get from the grocery store, or how long I plan to run. But I also try to plan our my life’s agenda. And I think that is why this hit me so hard. OUR agendas MUST DIE in favor of a life of submission. WOW. Not going to lie, that is HARD to do.

That’s my goal though, to work on that. Let God guide me with what HE wants me to do in my life. The funny thing is that I think he is guiding me right now. Guiding me towards something new in my life. I was actually talking to some friends about it yesterday, and I really just feel like it’s something I should do. I plan to talk about it more in a little while, I am still praying about it to make sure that really is part of my ‘agenda’ that God has in mind for me. Smile

The main thing I need to remember though is to just take a step back and let God guide me. STOP trying to plan every detail. Let HIM guide me.

Are you a planner?
Do you lay out all of your plans for the day before starting?

Spicy Ranch BLT Braid

Well hello there!! I apologize for the lack of posts last week.

Gabriella and I went up to Jacksonville to visit my parents and Craig was actually out of town for the while week for a work conference. I figured while he was gone it would be a perfect time to visit my family & friends in my hometown.

It was such a nice time, and Gabriella did AWESOME! Remember how I was just talking about all of the attachment issues coming back? Well, much to my surprise she did GREAT with my parents and friends. My Mom watched her for me for a bit one day so that I could shower, and she was fine. The second she saw me though she started crying for me. But the whole ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is key for her.

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LOVE this little chick!

It truly is AMAZING how fast she is growing. My Dad kept commenting on how she would be walking in no time. A few times he would look at her and gasp and I was like what is going on??!?! He thought for sure she was about to start walking! Smile 

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She LOVES her walker, which is above. (please notice those chunky thighs. O.M.G. I just can’t get enough of them!) She constantly wants to walk walk walk. No more stationary toys- I actually packed up her jumperoo, exersaucer, and another walker that you actually put her in. She does not like anything that confines her, girlfriend likes her independence. Winking smile

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Seriously, HOW is that my LITTLE girl!?!?! She looks HUGE! Ahhh, slow down Gabriella, SLOW DOWN!!

Anyways, while I was home I got to thinking of some of my favorite meals that my Mom used to make when I was growing up. One of them happened to be this vegetable chicken braid. It was just a mix of vegetables, chicken & spices wrapped up in crescent rolls. It was delicious- just the mixture always tasted so good and I always loved learning that was what we were having for dinner.

I was craving that thee other night, but wanted to kind of mix things up. After looking on Pinterest for a bit, I got an idea and went from there.

With it I created….

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Spicy Ranch BLT Braid

(adapted from this recipe)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 slices

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped cooked chicken

1 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese

3/4 cup crumbled cooked turkey bacon

3/4 cup 2% Plain Chobani

1 package Spicy Ranch seasoning (1 oz. package)

1 package reduced fat refrigerated crescent rolls (Pillsbury 8 oz.)

shredded lettuce

diced tomatoes

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Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the chicken, cheese, turkey bacon, Greek yogurt and Ranch seasoning. Set aside.
  2. Open the crescent rolls. Lay out the dough on a non stick baking sheet. Press together all the seams. Cut small strips 1 1/2 inches apart along both sides. Leave about a 3 inch row in the center that is uncut. Spread the chicken mixture down the center evenly.

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    3.  Cross the strips over each other in a braid pattern. Press the end together. Bake at 375* for 20 minutes.

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    4. Top the braid with lettuce and tomato before serving. Cut into 8 pieces.

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Instead of using mayonnaise like the recipe my Mom has, I subbed in Greek yogurt. I used 2% Chobani, but I’m sure you could also use fat free. I just thought the extra milk fat may make it a bit creamer.

The recipe says it makes enough for four…well, I guess that depends on how hungry you are. Craig and I polished off everything but a tiny little slice. We both really enjoyed it, and it was one of those meals that doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed.

Quick, easy meal for the WIN!

Enjoy your Monday! Gabriella and I have some big plans this week, and we are very much looking forward to it! Open-mouthed smile

Learning to Relax

Isn’t it funny when you realize that you just had an ‘ah – ha’ moment?

I had one of those yesterday afternoon.

Craig is always telling me that I let Gabriella affect my mood too much. Sometimes I agree, but then other times I want to tell him to hush it…in the nicest possible way, of course. Winking smile 

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I honestly can tell you that I’m pretty sure I don’t give her enough credit. I am constantly thinking that ‘she’s not ok,’ or ‘she can’t do that, it’s too out of her routine.’ WRONG. Gabriella is SMART. And she is a PERSON, she can adapt. She is no longer an itty bitty baby (and yes, I know, itty bitty babies can definitely adapt too), she can get thrown out of her usual ways and she will BE OK.

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(She’s like I’m totally fine, Momma, DUH!)

It’s just hard for ME to remember that. I don’t know if it’s a first time Mom thing, or if it’s just a ME thing but I am constantly worried about making sure her environment is just right for her. Does that even make sense?

Let me explain.

Gabriella and I came up to visit my parents for a few days in Jacksonville, just to spend some time with them and to catch up. Yesterday, while she was napping in the afternoon, the power went out. The second it happened I went into panic mode.

I immediately went straight to her room to make sure that she was still sleeping since her sound machine went off. We keep it on white noise while she sleeps- both for naps and bedtime. Honestly if I could go back, I don’t think I would use a sound machine…BUT, like her pediatrician told me ‘If that’s her only crutch, then you are doing just fine.’ Anyways, she was still sleeping but because I went into the room to try to turn it back on (the power was out just for a bit), I woke her up.

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I was frustrated. I was frustrated with my self, but didn’t realize that in the moment. I was actually mad at the city of Jacksonville for making this power situation happen. I mean, really Holly, really?!!? LIFE HAPPENS, get over it! But at the time I didn’t see it that way.

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Since I ended up waking her up, she started crying, but I decided to wait it out a bit to see if she would fall back asleep. I went in the other room to see my parents and asked how long the power usually stays out when this happens. They said it could be anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours- no one knows. Of course they could tell something was wrong, and asked if everything was ok. I got all ‘huffy puffy’ and said, ‘well, no, Gabriella is now awake because her sound machine went off.’

First of all, that was only half of it, the real reason that she was up was because I just HAD to rush right into her room to make sure I had the sound machine ready to go in case it came back on. STUPID. She was FINE. I could have just let her be.

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(^how hilarious is that?! She is in the sink at my parent’s house Smile )

My parents then said, ‘well we don’t even hear her crying, are you sure she is still up or did she fall back asleep?’ I responded with ‘yes, she’s STILL up, I JUST walked past her room and she was crying.’ (I sound like a real FUN daughter, right!?!?!?! Winking smile God bless them.) So my Dad went to listen near her door & she didn’t make a peep. Little stink, she knew she was going to prove me wrong. Smile I really had just walked past her room & she WAS crying, but she had stopped at this point.

Guess what? She fell back asleep. She was ABSOLUTELY FINE. And she didn’t NEED the sound to sleep, I just MAKE it seem like she does. SILLY SILLY ME. Sometimes I just want to slap myself across the head and say WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!?!?!

There was NO NEED to freak out because of a power outage, or a silenced sound machine. LIFE GOES ON. GABRIELLA SLEEPS ON. CHILL OUT HOLLY, CHILL OUT. I’m capitalizing these things for myself- I swear it’s like a mantra I need to tattoo on my forehead.

The main thing is that I think it’s just a ‘live and you learn kind of thing.’ Babies don’t come with instruction manuals…although I swear that would be MUCH easier. You have to learn each other- you baby has to learn YOU, and YOU have to learn your baby. Nothing about being a parent is easy, but I PROMISE it’s all 100% worth it & I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, other than the fact that I need to learn to relax a bit. But, then again, I am just a work in progress. Smile

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(I just LOVE her in her bathing suits! Smile )

Every day is a new day, and every day I feel like I learn something new. It’s actually pretty neat to realize, even if it is a hard pill to swallow.

Banana Cream Bread

Good Morning!

Hard to believe the weekend has already come & gone. It went way too quickly. I actually had to work most of the weekend, to play ‘catch up,’ because I wasn’t able to do much during the week. This past week was pretty rough with Gabriella, and I tie it mainly to teething. I feel bad, I really wish I could help her because I know she has to be in pain.

One thing that kind of caught me off guard though is that she is kind of going through a regression. We got over the ‘only Mommy can hold me or be around me’ phase about a month or so ago….or so I thought. It’s baaaaaaaaaaack!

She only wants to be around me, or have me hold her. Most of the time she won’t even go to Craig, well I take that back, she will go to him, but only if she can see me. If I’m out of the room she has a break down. Just to further explain how much the attachment phase has come back, I can’t even take a shower or bath without her. She actually crawled into the shower with me while I had her playing on the floor. The second she saw me, she came right in (the door was open of course- I have my eye on her the entire time) WITH her clothes & diaper on. I just had to laugh! She looked up at me like, ‘oh hey Mom! I just wanted to get cleaned up too.’ Love that little girl & I love how much she makes me laugh.

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Sometimes it’s hard though, because I really can’t get any help. I just remind myself that she won’t be this little for long, and it’s actually pretty cute HOW much she wants to be with me. And one of my VERY FAVORITE things is that when she goes to look for me if I am out of the room, is that she heads straight to the kitchen! LOVE that!! She knows how much her Mommy likes to cook.

The other day I had a bunch of super ripe bananas. (YUCK!) I always buy a ton because Gabriella will eat them too- especially in her morning oatmeal. Her favorite breakfast right now is oatmeal with chia seeds, mashed banana and a little bit of YoBaby banana smoothie mixed in. It’s quite tasty, I must say. She has good taste! Smile

I also had one of my very favorite packages arrive in the same day.

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Makes my day when you see this arrive on your porch! Chobani is my very favorite yogurt company, not only for their delicious yogurt, but also because they have one of the VERY BEST customer service teams. I love how they instantly respond to comments on any social media and always want to make the consumers happy! You don’t see that too often these days.

When I opened up the box I happily found a TON of yogurt!

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0% Vanilla, 0% Plain & 2% Plain. I really like the new labeling for the vanilla! The plain varieties are PERFECT substitutions for so much like sour cream, heavy cream, oil, butter, mayonnaise, and cream cheese.

Once I saw that I had over ripe bananas and a new shipment of Chobani, my mind got to work & I decided to make quick bread, because that’s what over ripe bananas are best for. Smile

One of my favorite desserts is actually banana pudding, or banana cream pie. NOTHING is better than homemade banana pudding with fresh cream, bananas & vanilla wafers. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I wanted to re-create that same flavor, but in bread form. That is how this recipe came to be- Banana Cream Bread.

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Banana Cream Bread

(adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt (I used 0% Chobani)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour  
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed (the riper the better)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, divided

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, cream butter, and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add Greek yogurt and vanilla; mix well.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in mashed banana and 1/4 cup nuts.
  • Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf.

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The addition of the Greek yogurt gives the bread a nice flavor, and adds in the ‘cream’ flavor without the added calories & fat of REAL cream.

The house had such a nice smell while it was baking, and of course I could barely wait for it to cool before slicing it. So I had to cut a few slices since the first couple crumbled, which meant I had to eat them. Smile

I know that there are THOUSANDS of banana bread recipes, but I guarantee you this one will not leave you disappointed!

I know it’s hard to think about, but tell me your favorite part of Monday.
Mine is that it’s long run day!! I truly enjoy starting the week off with a long run- usually 12-13 miles, just depends on how my legs feel…and if my child will continue to nap Winking smile

If you eat Chobani, what’s your favorite flavor?

QUICK Dinner: Greek Tortellini Salad

Who doesn’t love a quick & easy meal? Being a Mom I LOVE them, but not just Moms’ need quick and easy meals. I know how much I valued an easy meal that I could throw together after a stressful, busy work day. We all have those CRAZY days where the thought of making dinner sounds like absolute torture.

I love those meals in which you usually have all of the ingredients in your kitchen. Can’t beat not having to run to the grocery store on your way home or in the middle of the day. Although I cannot tell a lie, I enjoy just browsing the aisles…at least I used to. Before Gabriella. Winking smile If she is being a good girl, sometimes she will sit in the cart with me for a while before getting to be little Miss Fussypants.

Oh gosh, yesterday she was TERRIBLE. I mean TERRIBLE with a capital T. But I blame myself, I wrote about how wonderful she was yesterday…and then CRAZY lady showed up. EEK! No more good talks about Gabriella for a while. I would like to save what little sanity I have left. Winking smile

Without further a do, I present you one of the quickest meals…EVER!

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Ingredients:

-1/2 package of frozen fully cooked tortellini (most frozen packages are 19oz. – that was the size I used)

-1 tsp minced garlic

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp black pepper

-3/4 cup feta (I used tomato & basil flavor)

-5-6 fresh basil leaves, diced (or 1/2 tsp dried)

-15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained & rinse

-1 cup diced tomato

-Fresh spinach (I used baby spinach)

Directions:

1. Cook tortellini according to package.

2. While you are waiting for the water to boil, and then the tortellini to cook, heat a skillet over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray & add garlic, salt, pepper, feta, basil & beans to pan.

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3. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until feta starts to melt. Then add diced tomatos.

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4. Cook for another two minutes & add cooked tortellini.

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5. Serve atop fresh spinach & ENJOY!!

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Did you notice that piece of bread in the first picture?? I MADE it!

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I am on a ROLL (pun intended Winking smile ) with making homemade bread. I actually really kind of love it. There is really nothing better than pulling out a nice big batch of fresh bread from your oven. I can’t even tell you how quickly the first loaf was devoured by Craig and I.

This time I decided to make ‘copycat’ Macaroni Grill bread. I don’t know if you have ever been to a Macaroni Grill, or if there is one near you, but it is some of the BEST bread! I think Panera may just have my #1 spot for favorite fresh bread.

But let’s be honest, one of the best parts of going to Macaroni Grill is eating plates & plates of their bread. By the time I get my entrée I’m stuff to the gills of bread…which I why I typically order a small salad. I’d rather fill up on bread. Carb-a-holic anyone?! Smile

So when I found a recipe for a knock off of Macaroni Grill’s bread, I was ALL OVER it.

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If you decide to try this recipe, I would just suggest increasing the amount of salt (to maybe 2 tsp- with more sprinkled on top) & the rosemary. (to about 3 tbsp)

Someone else, besides Craig & I, couldn’t keep her hands off of it either.

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We won’t mention any names though Winking smile

Have a wonderful Thursday! I’m hoping for a happier Gabriella today, especially since we are get to see our friends today. YAY for Thursdays- one of my favorite days of the week! Open-mouthed smile

Favorite quick dinner?? Feel free to link away, I could use some more quick meals in my rotation.

Favorite place to get fresh bread?? I think my top HAS to be Panera.

Big Step In Parenting

Last night I was so exhausted that the thought of writing a post was out of the question. We are all allowed those nights, right?? Smile I really have no idea why I was so tired, (well ok maybe it was the 13 miles I did…I’m insane- I know!) but it just hit me like a ton of bricks.

Anyways, back to regular posting today!

So I wanted to talk about HOW MUCH friends mean to me. I know it may sound silly, but I really can’t tell you enough how much my friends have been there for me. It’s been an interesting month- lots of both ups and downs. But what helped get through the not so good moments was the support from friends.

I know when I first had Gabriella my Mother in Law very much encouraged me to try to find some other Moms in the area. Not just so that we could have play dates & talk about our crazy kids but also for the support they offer. Also for the advice and relatable stories that they have- makes you feel like your child really isn’t all that crazy. Winking smile

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I have been loving that Gabriella is getting more socialized. Honestly the past two months she has changed SO MUCH! We have play dates every week, and she is friends with one of the neighbor’s kids as well- who she sees every day. (His Mom & I go walking in the afternoon with the kids) She used to really only let Craig or I hold her, and at one point (sometimes even now) she only lets me hold or play with her.

But since being around other children & babies, she is little miss social butterfly! Even my Mom made a comment while we were in Jacksonville as to how much she has changed. That she was completely fine with playing and I didn’t have to be right next to her all the time. My Mom & Dad were able to play with her and they enjoyed their time together. It was really sweet!

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This past weekend was a new step in our world as parents. Craig and I were invited to a cookout at a friend’s house. It started around 4pm, and we were planning to leave around 7/ 7:30pm in order to get Gabriella to bed. Well, while I was getting all of her stuff together (isn’t it AMAZING how such a little person requires SO.MUCH.STUFF?!) I threw in her PJ’s, so that we could get her all ready for bed before getting her in the car.

Well we decided to try something new. Our friends also have kids. So they had everything we needed. A pack n’ play, a sound machine, and a quiet room. Can you say perfect?!! Another reason you have to love friends with kids- they understand what you are going through and tell you NOT to apologize.

Craig & I wanted to stay for a bit to hang out with everyone, since we really don’t get to do that often and we were having a GREAT time.

ANYWAYS, to make a long story short, Gabriella did WONDERFUL!!! She was able to sleep in the pack n play until we were ready to leave. We actually stayed longer than expected (after midnight…OMG…who are we!?! Winking smile ), and I ended up just nursing her back to sleep when we got home.

It was SO nice to know that we can actually DO THINGS! We can go to other people’s houses, and enjoy ourselves. I know that sounds SO silly, but it really was a HUGE step. I was nervous to take her out of her element, but she did better than expected. That’s why half of the time I feel like I’m the one that has issues instead of Gabriella Winking smile I just need to trust in her, girlfriend knows how to impress her Momma!

And one way to win over all of your friends’ hearts, just in case your child is a crazy person is to make them Better than Crack Brownies! You gotta be prepared, people! Open-mouthed smile

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I have made these before for my family in Maryland, and they were a hit there. With the ingredients, you CANNOT go wrong!

Better-Than-Crack Brownies

(Copied DIRECTLY from How Sweet Eats)

1 batch brownies (boxed mix or oooey gooey brownies)

1/2 cup salted peanuts (if don’t have salted, add sea salt)

1 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups

1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal

Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Remove and top with peanuts and peanut butter cups, and bake for 4-6 minutes more.

While they are finishing baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir in cereal. Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top.

Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

DELICIOUS!!

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I know it sounds sad but I feel like it was a big step in our ‘parenting life.’ Smile The fact that we know she can sleep OTHER places, not just her crib, is HUGE.

Happy Hump Day Open-mouthed smile 

Have you tried these brownies??? PLEASE DO!!

Parents: Did you have this same issue? Was it a big deal when you realized you could actually ENJOY yourselves rather than adjusting to your child’s routine?