Watch this (please!)

I’ve got some homework for you guys, in case you’re up for it and have a lot of spare tissues lying around.

Watch this documentary.

There are 4 parts to it, this is just the first one, so yes – it is a time commitment. The rest are here.

Unfortunately I can guarantee you that if you put in the time – it will not go to waste. The way our lives are headed right now – one in two men and one in three women is going to develop cancer at some point of their lives. To me it was always the most terrifying thing in the world, and now it has become our everyday. And it is just going to keep becoming more and more common place.

And this way – if you watch it – it will save me so much explaining, and it will definitely help you understand better what kinds of thoughts I’m going to bed with every night.




Tomorrow we find out which arm of the clinical trial Niko will he assigned to.

Yesterday, maybe it was a mistake, but we read about each one of the treatment combinations and the side effects there of.

And oh man…  Now I don’t even know what to hope for, besides the general hope that he gets better.

The clinical trial that we are looking at is for radiation therapy specific to neuroblastoma. There is a type of radiation that they can deliver directly to cancer cells via a radioactively labeled molecule that the neuroblastoma cells take up. It’s administered via IV and involves a 6 or so day hospital stay and 50 days of follow up monitoring.
The study is to see if the radiation is more effective in combination with certain chemotherapy drugs. And there is two different combinations of the  drugs, so a total of 3 arms to the study with the 3rd being a control that gets no additional chemotherapy.

The parent in me is freaked out enough by a potential side effect of death due to liver/lung damage from just the radiation, and I have no desire to add on additional nausea, mouth sores, and potentially serious and long term complications.
But the researcher in me clings on to the thought that – if these people didn’t believe there was sufficient promise in this working and helping – then they wouldn’t do it. But then – no one knows what could happen… Is the risk worth it.. I’ve felt like I always had good luck in things that matter, let’s hope it hasn’t run out.

Once we find out, we will have a small window of time to decide if we want to proceed or not, and either way – next week we are sending Niko, papa and grandma on a “space expedition” and I will hopefully get to see them by the weekend.
That’s another fine line of difficult decision making – do I stay away from the radiation to keep L as safe as possible, or do I go to try and make Niko as comfortable as possible and somehow figure out some arrangements for L…  At least it’s only 6 days.


As you can see – I’m struggling to keep up this blog because – I don’t want to use it for negative thoughts and feelings, I don’t even want to voice my fears out loud to an empty room because I don’t want to give them life outside of my head, much less put them out on the internet.

And talking about anything else – like reviewing baby products and sharing stories of parenting and what not – just seems so… trivial.

And to boot – I knew life with two kids would be different and hard, but seriously – what was I thinking?! I have even considered grocery delivery and hiring people so I can sleep…

But I have been playing around with an idea. As you may know – September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and I was hoping to have launched the idea by the beginning of the month, but now I’m hoping to at least get it in before the end.

We already have a pretty solid group going for Niko. I was thinking of making it a little more official. There are a lot of kids out there with really amazing support groups, and they all have some kind of main theme – obviously the goal is to support the child in their fight with cancer. But all these groups have the “kick cancer’s ass” approach.

I feel a bit conflicted since these cancer cells were made by his own body, and even though it is definitely a bad thing, I’m not sure it needs to be so negative and aggressive. I would rather let the medicine be aggressive and have our attitudes be positive. I have, of course, been thinking a lot about this, and about cancer in general and how it fits into our lives in particular, and I feel like I’ve come to terms with it all and accepted things for what they are. It helps to know the science side of things too – that makes me feel like I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on and helps me have a grasp on reality. And of course I’ve been angry about this situation, but I don’t want Niko to be angry. There’s no one to be angry at. It’s not like I can get it my car, drive down the street to whomever is at fault, punch them in the face and make them fix it. He doesn’t even know what’s wrong with him, or that there is something wrong with him, and I’m not sure we need to tell him that. Yes, obviously he has tubes coming out of his chest, and we’re in the hospital often, but – he doesn’t know that other kids are not doing the same thing. He hasn’t wondered yet why none of us have tubes, so perhaps it’s not a big deal to him.

From the second I found out I was pregnant with him – the one thing that I wanted was for him to be happy. So – however long his life happens to be – I want him to be happy. And you can’t be angry and happy at the same time. I think it is most supportive from all of us that can’t actually fight this fight for him – to distract him and remind him of all the wonderful and fun things in this world. And there are SO many!! And my second hope for Niko and for myself is that we somehow change the world, make people’s lives a little bit better. So if looking for something fun to share with Niko – you are forced to stop, and look at your life, and appreciate the things you have and refocus on what’s important and enjoy it more – then our purpose is being fulfilled!

That is what I want #nikolikes to be. A campaign, a movement, a group, whatever you want to call it. A collective attitude, life philosophy, etc. I bet there is some beautiful foreign language word for exactly what I’m trying to say here.

Please continue to share your favorite fun pictures, videos and moments with Niko on instagram – I have set him up with his own account! We’ll start taking a couple minutes a day to regularly check it out!

And you know – just spread the word and smile. We all don’t know how much time we have left, what’s the point of wasting it by not being happy?


P.S. If only I had one graphic design bone in my body, but I don’t so – t-shirts coming soon, but not yet. Sorry!


Sleep scams

Can we all please just cut the bologna and admit that – there is just no easy way of getting a child to sleep until they’re old enough to appreciate bribery?

All those books – LIES!! They’re praying on the weak and sleep deprived parents! Sound machines, music boxes, etc etc – they make you sleepy more than they affect the child! Oh and – mobiles for babies? By the time their vision is good enough to see the thing – it’s considered a hazard and you have to remove it! My 3 week old slept through the fire alarm! You seriously think that Mozart tune is doing something?

I thought – it shouldn’t be this hard! Modern society is imposing non-biological standards of making kids sleep separately, creating extra stress, anxiety, yada yada… I figured – if I go back to basics, I’ll be smarter. Pre-literate societies had to put their babies to sleep, so there must be a way that doesn’t require reading all those books (which I have read, by the way, and tried, and don’t feel like trying anymore!)

So with my second one – we co-sleep and I have no problem nursing him to sleep, because yes – his bed time lines up with when I’m exhausted and don’t mind having to lie with him for a while. I had no problem until he got top and bottom sets of teeth! And now he’s looking for a more substantial snack, and my screams from pain apparently don’t help him fall asleep… So I’ve hit a wall with my super clever tactics.

Even before this experience I felt like the whole sleep training business was a scam – because you’re basically just going from one “crisis” to another, and they have all these proper behavioral science terms for them – you see, they’re these developmental stages that prevent them from sleeping well..

Basically – it is expected that your child will be difficult to put to sleep anytime they have a developmental leap – learning to roll over, learning to sit, crawl, stand up, and walk. That usually happens in the first year. That’s 5 times, let’s say it takes you about a week to get back on your sleeping track. That’s 5 weeks out of 52.

Teething. Some babies make it to their 1st birthday with no teeth, but usually you’ll have at least 12 by their first birthday. Lets say each tooth is a 3 day ordeal, that’s about right? so – that’s over a month of sleep lost just to teething.

Heaven forbid you travel with your baby, because that’s going to throw off all your sleep training as well, any time zone change, seeing family overseas… Daylight savings will affect your baby too. So – that’s almost 2 weeks out of the year (as it happens twice) just for daylight savings time. You will have holidays and trips, let’s just throw another 2 weeks for good measure.

So that’s now 3 months out of 12 of guaranteed bad sleep. Also – any time your baby gets shots, which is like 2 or 3 times I think? Let’s round that up to just one week total. When your baby has physical growth spurts their sleep gets affected too, they have two or three of those within the first year, so – that’s another week.

The average child gets around 10 colds a year. Let’s say you’re a super careful parent, your kid doesn’t go to daycare and you make everyone wash their hands and your kid gets sick only 5 times. Maybe you’ll have 2-3 sleepless nights each time due to stuffy noses, etc, which amounts to 2 weeks in that first year.

4 months, best case scenario. That’s one third of their first year of life that they have some kind of stuff going on when they will not be sleeping well. And no matter what kind of magic voodoo stuff you do, unless it consists of rocking, nursing/feeding and holding – it ain’t gonna work! That baby will be crying his or her little head off!

And any sleep training method that you do, aside from crying-it-out which we will not consider here and don’t need to talk about any further at this point – will tell you that after each of the events mentioned above it is normal for the baby to have a sleep regression and for you to have to do the training AGAIN. That’s about one to two weeks of active sleep training for you to get back to “normal”. But – how is it normal if over half of the year your baby isn’t sleeping well?!?!? Am I missing something here????

So, we know that infants sleep best next to mom for a multitude of reasons, it is also the more natural configuration. Can we get some research about 6-12 month olds? 1 year olds? Toddlers? What’s more natural there? What did our ancestors used to do? Considering that in some countries maternity leave lasts for 3 years – I’m gonna guess they used to prioritize the child and not their own sleep.. So I guess I’ve got some rocking, and holding and sitting coming up for the next year and a half.

And yes – I totally regret every bit of sleep training that we did with Niko. If I could take it all back, and instead I would have to lay next to him for 1-2 hours every night for him to go to sleep, and keep him in our bed – I would. Absolutely. Not even a question. Wish I had…

Niko’s birthday

Before we get too far down the road, let me share with you some of the details from Niko’s party!


Dear friend, thank you for sharing this photo!

All decorations – I got on amazon, of course. I used evite for the guest list, you can send a link directly to people, doesn’t have to be just through the site, and you’ll still be able to receive their reply. Also – you can link it to the amazon wishlist, but apparently it will not be set to ship to your address by default – which I didn’t know right away.

And as for the cupcakes:

As you can see – I’m not a pro and I learned the piping stuff as I went.

I used this recipe from a blog that I found: (copying the text so I can find it later too =)

Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

yield: 18 CUPCAKES

prep time: 30 MINUTES



The ultimate trio of your favorite flavors! Super-moist banana chocolate chip cupcakes topped with milk chocolate and peanut butter swirled frosting.



  • ½ cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • ½ cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 and ½ cups mashed banana (about 3 large very ripe bananas)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (careful not to overmeasure)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (120ml) buttermilk1
  • 1 cup (180g) mini or regular semi-sweet chocolate chips


  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) heavy cream or half-and-half2
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste


  • 3/4 cup (185g) creamy peanut butter
  • 4 Tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (90g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or half-and-half2


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two 12-count muffin pans with 18 cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. Make the cupcakes: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a large bowl on medium speed until creamed. About 2-3 minutes. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the mashed bananas and vanilla, beating on low speed for about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 additions, stirring by hand after each addition.  Add the milk and stir until combined.  The batter will be lumpy.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon the batter evenly into 18 cupcake liners. Fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping. Bake each batch for 17-19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Make the chocolate frosting: sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder to assure there are no lumps. Set aside. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sifted sugar/cocoa powder alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla. Beat on low speed after each addition. Once all added, beat on high speed until creamy and combined for at least 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  6. Make the peanut butter frosting: With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the peanut butter and butter on medium speed until creamy and completely smooth – about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Mix on medium until combined. Add the cream and mix on high until creamy, at least 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.
  7. Frost cooled cupcakes with a knife or with a piping bag/tip. If you’d like to just make 1 kind of frosting and not both, make sure you double the frosting recipe of your choice to make sure there is enough for all cupcakes. To swirl the two frostings like I did, here is how I made the swirl frosting. There may be leftover frosting depending how much you use on each cupcake. Decorate with banana slices and/or more chocolate chips if desired. Store cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days and in the refrigerator up to 5.
  8. Make ahead tip: Prepare cupcakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cupcakes covered tightly at room temperature and the frosting covered tightly in the refrigerator. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before frosting and serving.

And I also made a batch of non-chocolate cupcakes because apparently there are people in this world that don’t like chocolate, and they turned out to be a bigger hit than the banana chocolate ones!

I tried to shortcut to the max, and I used this recipe for the actual cake part adding in some extra lemon juice because it didn’t seem like it had enough to me, and this recipe for the frosting.  They were eaten too fast for me to get a picture!

Oh, and I bet you didn’t know – you can order a pinata and the candy to fill it with – on Amazon as well!