Learning To Log-off & Liv On Life – Going To The Park – Book Review And Giveaway!

LOL_Going_To_The_Park_-_Live_Front_CoverI recently had the opportunity to review the beautifully illustrated and cleverly written book Going To The Park from the Liv On Life children’s book series.  This modern story written by Elizabeth Grocery and based on life with her daughter Olivia is wonderfully written, simple and definitely hit home for me.  I was immediately captured by the stunning illustrations and Kajiah Jacobs’ clever use of colour in this book.  Jacobs’ attention to detail, soft lines and playful characters transport you into Liv’s world.

Going To The Park is a book about a little girl named Liv and her dog Bowie.  Liv desperately wants her parents to log off and unplug from work at home so that they can spend un-inturrupted time with Liv and Bowie including taking them to park.  In the end Liv finally gets through to her parents and they take a family trip to the park free of any electronic distractions.


The timing of me reading this book couldn’t be more in sync with my life right now. As Nesting Story has grown exponentially over the past month, the demand it has taken on my time has grown as well. Although I am home with my kids instead of away for hours on end like I used to be when I’d have to leave our home to work on design and mural projects, I am much more distracted and divided. Nesting Story has been my fifth baby for a few years now and to finally see it flourish excites me to no end. Although I am there for snuggles, bath times and play time with our four kids, its those moments when it’s typically the child that is driving you bananas that needs me the most and I’d rather bury myself in my laptop blogging.IMG_3036The main character of this story has an uncanny resemblance to my almost four year old daughter Beau.  From the wild long curls to Liv’s imaginative and wild spirit, the similarities are frightening!  I chuckled to myself when in the book, Liv paints her dolly’s hair with strawberry scented lip gloss.  See my previous post The Destructive Child and you will understand.

Liv_and_doll_PRMy biggest takeaway from Going To The Park is to unplug and put your phone away.  I am learning to compartmentalize and be more present.  One little trick I have learned that works well for myself and my kids is to set a timer.  I will set a timer multiple times throughout the day to divide it into mommy’s work time, snack time, lunch time, playtime, screen time, workbook time and so on….  This defines when I am and am not working.

IMG_3284Going To The Park has quickly become one of Beau’s favourite books.  Here’s the exciting part, I am having a Going To The Park book giveaway!  Just head to Nesting Story’s Facebook page for details on how you can win!!!Giveaway Image 2 Instagram

For more information on the Liv ON Life series or to purchase Going To The Park, head to www.livonlife.com.

-Sponsored post-

2015 Family Nutrition, Health and Well-being Overhaul – Weeks 1 & 2

We made it through our first couple weeks of our overhaul!  The lesson: focus on celebrating the small victories, chosing to be flexible in certain situations and when we fall short one day to get back on track the next… don’t give up!

We started our overhaul off strong and full of determination.  The T.V. stayed off, everyone got creative and fresh meals were being made. TV offWhile everyone was still home for the holidays I decided to serve lunches basically consisting of a healthy snack variety plate. It was so easy and the kids loved it so much. No elaborate cooking involved and barely any cleanup after.  Dinnertimes were also going very well. I gave the kids VERY small quantities so that I wasn’t setting them up to fail.  The rule: eat your dinner in front of you if you want a snack after dinner.  Simple.kids food

Then real life hit!  Bitterly cold winter weather arrived, I came down with a terrible head cold, we were attending a lot of birthday celebrations that included the present shopping before and typical birthday foods during.  While out shopping with the whole family one day Mike and I decided to stop for lunch at a chain restaurant.  Before entering we made a game plan already knowing their menu.  We decided to let the kids have typical “kid food” as long as they incorporated a vegetable instead of fries.  Beau chose cucumbers and chicken fingers and Holden chose a hamburger and steamed carrots.  Mike was a little nervous about finding something healthy on the menu.  Once we had been seated things started going down hill fast!  The babies were cranky, Mike couldn’t find a thing on the menu and decided to skip lunch and we were told that they had raw carrots but it would take too long to steam them… what!!???  I made the decision to give Holden raw carrots which he and Mike quickly protested to.  Mike kept giving me these looks across the table like “this is not working”.  I was enjoying a delicious salad complete with beets, peaches and grilled salmon and Beau starting digging into her cucumbers which I have never seen her eat before.  We started to make a little progress.  Holden ate his mini hamburger and then panic started to set in about trying raw carrots.  The poor kid was starting into a full blown anxiety attack.  That’s when I switched gears.

I decided to turn this into a teaching moment.  For anyone who has a child who suffers from sensory issues, you know that texture, temperature, colour and smell can all contribute to childhood anxiety.  “Okay”, I said to Holden,”Forget eating the carrots.  Please do something else for me.  Pick it up. Hold it in your hand.  What colour is it?  Is it soft or hard?  Why is is not soft?”  This began a discussion about the carrot.  Holden immediately relaxed and became very engaged in explaining that it hadn’t been cooked and it would probably crunch if he bit it.  We demystified the raw carrot.  Mike and I accepted this discussion as a win and we hope that the next time a raw carrot crosses his path he may not become so overwhelmed by it.

We tried a few new recipes this week and the biggest winner was from the Oh She Glows cookbook; Luxurious Tomato Basil Pasta.  Drool-worthy!  This easy vegan dish has cashew “cream” sauce.  I couldn’t believe how quickly this meal was gobbled up.  It was incredible and Holden has been begging me to make it every week.  This one will for sure be a future staple in our home!Luxurious pastaAlthough my energy was low due to my cold I pulled together enough energy to cook up a big pot of soup also from The Oh She Glows cookbook.  I chose the Eat Your Greens Detox Soup to help us recover from our holiday food hangover and so Mike would have something easy to bring to work with him for lunch the following week.  This nutrient packed soup was perfect to help kick my stubborn cold’s butt and as Mike put it, even the after-taste is delicious!Eat Your Greens Detox SoupEven I got a little creative in the kitchen!  Here are two lunches I made for myself that were quick, healthy and very tasty!

BBQ Chicken, Kale and Apple Sandwich: BBQ chicken breast, kale, sliced apple and whole grain dijon mustard with a dab of mayo on a thin multigrain bun.  I added a side of greek yogurt topped with fresh blueberries and raspberries.


Sweet and Salty Walnut Whole Wheat Pasta: Whole wheat bow tie pasta with sautéed spinach, red peppers, tomatoes and red onions mixed with olive oil, sea salt and brown sugar topped with walnut pieces.

IMG_2924I know, I even surprised myself!

I didn’t get too creative with my breakfasts yet, I stuck to my good old quick, healthy and simple staple this week: soft boiled egg, quinoa bread with almond butter, water and coffee (nope not giving up my coffee).  I did however trade out my skim milk for unsweetened almond milk in my coffee.breakfastAnother note-worthy meal was fajitas.  To make a healthier version we used whole wheat wraps, swapped out sour cream for avocados and sautéed portobello mushrooms along with many other delicious veggies.  This meal was a great option for Holden and Beau to be able to pick and choose what they want and try new vegetables.  Fajitas will for sure be added to our weekly rotation and in a couple of weeks Mia and Everly will be able to enjoy it along with us when we start Baby Lead Weaning.fajitasThen there was the exercise… there was a lot of discussion about working out, planning on it, staring at our home gym but we didn’t finally start until the end of these two weeks.  This will be priority starting next week!  I also had to start getting creative with the kid’s exercise since we were in a deep freeze.  I had been wracking my brain and didn’t feel well enough to drag everyone out to an indoor playground (the way Canadian parents survive winter).  Then it hit me!  I grabbed some sidewalk chalk from our garage and raced to our unfinished basement.  May I present to you “people town” as my kids call it.  Complete with a hardware store and market.

people townHere are some take-away tips: 

Take the time to cook some quinoa and barbecue chicken breasts at the beginning of the week and have them ready in the fridge for wraps, sandwiches etc…  Yes, we are those neighbours that dig a path in the snow to our BBQ!

Make your food pretty.  Because I knew I was going to be photographing my food I took the time to create a nice looking meal.  I even took quick on-the-go snacks out of the wrapper and sat and enjoyed them.  I found myself slowing down and eating when I did this resulting in being more satisfied after.  My new favourite healthy on the go snack: the Kashi granola bars with chia seeds.  Mmmmm…IMG_2901

Our goals for next week:

Master some new recipes including breakfast recipes.

Find some healthy boxed and frozen options I can buy at the grocery store since santa didn’t seem to get my request for a black hole of extra time each day!

EXERCISE!!! I don’t know how, I don’t know when but this needs to happen!

Don’t forget to subscribe, follow and like Nesting Story!!!




Our Family’s 2015 Nutrition, Health and Well-being Overhaul – Tailored for a Busy Family of Six

2014When I look back at 2014 I am filled with feelings of shock (twins are on the way), lows (depression during my painful pregnancy), highs (the arrival of Mia and Everly), exhaustion (parenting four children) and triumph (parenting four children). In fact, out of all 32 years of my life, this past year has been the biggest roller coaster ride.  My heart is so full with love, responsibility and pride.  I am so proud that our family took our surprise of a lifetime head-on and conquered the pregnancy, birth and adjustment to life as a family of six so well.  I know that every member of this family has been tested and has stepped up to the plate in 2014.  Although we have had to put ourselves into “survival mode” for a lot of it, I believe we have come out a stronger and closer unit.

Often when talking to other parents one of the first questions they ask me is “how do you do it?”  “It” meaning parenting all four, managing our home, nurturing my relationship with my husband and all the other things.  Well, to be honest, there is one area that has truly taken a hit.  Our family’s nutrition and health.  In this past year especially, we have started to turn to more fast food, processed and easy but not nutritious meals than ever before.  I had stopped cooking very early on in my pregnancy due to nausea and constant braxton hicks contractions whenever on my feet and had to make due with substitutes.  Our family has not come out unscathed.  My husband Mike had to have his gallbladder removed in February and he also put on some sympathy weight with me while I was pregnant.  Holden and Beau grabbed every opportunity of getting special treats from visitors and family looking after them, resulting in the beginning stages of cavities and very picky eating habits.  Although I have made a lot of progress with losing my twin weight I am still not quite near my goal: to fit into my pre-pregnancy wardrobe.  I have also found myself becoming more and more sensitive to certain foods, especially sugar, triggering migraines and my IBS.

There is part of me that feels like I have been letting our family down.  As most other moms would agree, as much as your partner can help with meal prep there tends to be this ripple effect that starts with mom.  Meaning if I indulge, everyone else in our home hops onto the junk band wagon before I can chew and swallow down that instant regret!

Recently there has been a shift in our home.  Yes, we have started to eat a bit better and the kitchen is actually being used again.  I have also noticed a new awakening from each member of this family (who has the ability to vocalize this).  We are each longing for change.  Eating better foods, foods that provide fuel and leave you feeling energized instead of wanting to lay down for an hour!  I know that for Mike and I this spark has come from a special new friendship.

I believe that every once in a while you cross paths with people on this earth that you are meant to build a relationship with.  I have a handful of the most incredible mommy friends and luckily for us our husbands are also close friends.  Well, a couple years ago I joined the most incredible group, consisting of entrepreneurial women.  In that Group was Angela Liddon.  We hit it off immediately.  Then we each found out we were expecting girls within weeks of each other.  By the time our girls were born we were getting together regularly, and soon after our husbands Mike and Eric met and became fast friends.

Angela is the very well known vegan blogger and author of the wildly popular book  and blog Oh She Glows.  Angela creates the most delicious healthy plant based recipes.  Over the last few months Mike and I have been treated to tasting many of these recipes over meals and get togethers.  We were instantly sold!  We cannot believe how delicious plant based meals can taste.  I have even witnessed Mike branching out and trying foods I never thought he would go near.  There is also something about watching someone cook with so much joy that makes you want to whip something up yourself!  officialcover

I approached Mike about doing this life change and he was on board immediately!  Here are some of the areas that we are planning on overhauling:

Nutrition and Meals  We plan on approaching this area with a practical and realistic approach.  We want to focus on eating clean.  We will be incorporating some plant based meals into our diet. There will be no deception when it comes to feeding our kids healthier foods.  I have tried the whole puree the veggies and hide it and A. they taste the difference and B. I want Holden and Beau to build a positive relationship with healthy food and to do so they need to know what they are eating.  I will be using some recipes from Oh She Glows among other healthy recipes sources as well.  We will also be including Mia and Everly during meal time in a few weeks when we start Baby Lead Weaning.  Here are some of the ways we will be adapting healthier meals to our busy lifestyle:

-cooking large quantities and freezing extra portions to have on hand on hectic days

-creating a one or two week meal rotation to create predictability for our kids and make grocery shopping easier

creating healthier copy cat versions of our boxed staple foods

-having some fast ten minute meals on hand as a backup when an unexpected wrench is thrown into the day

Exercise – We want to move away from the couch potato screen-time loving family that we are and start moving more and get fresh air.  It can sometimes be tricky getting outside with babies but here are some ways that we plan on getting active.

-dusting off our home gym and working out inside

-getting Holden and Beau involved in more sports and activities

-going on active dates with Mike (we used to go indoor rock climbing, skiing and horseback riding)

-getting outdoors as a family: hiking, sledding, walking Holden to and from school

Creating a Stress Free Sanctuary – Mike and I have spent our first two years in our current home creating beautiful spaces for our children and have neglected the spaces that impact our own well-being.  Here are some of the areas in our home that we plan to makeover:

-kitchen cupboard ingredient storage, purging, replacing chipped dishes and dull knives etc…

-our master suite will be getting a big re-design to feel like a sanctuary we can retreat to at the end of the day

-home gym makeover

General Well-being – Remember when you were a kid and your parents didn’t let you watch TV or play video games all day?  Do you remember when they didn’t spend every hour of the day being your playmate?  You went outside in your backyard to play with your siblings.  You used your imagination.  When did we get into the habit of feeling the need to entertain our kids every second?  Over the years Mike has gotten into the habit that when he is home he has to be playing with the kids all of the time.  Often to kill time he will take them out shopping, get drive through for lunch and basically drift around.  This has become expensive and unhealthy.  I know he does this to help get them out of my hair but I watch as Mike falls by the wayside and doesn’t take care of himself.  We can kill two birds with one stone, nurture independence and open up more time for Mike and I to cook and exercise.  Here are some ways we plan to foster independent play and creative thinking with our kids:

-set limits on screen time and stick to it… even on weekends

-give choices of activities they can do and rooms they can play in.  Instead of letting them wander aimlessly around our house with fights erupting every five minutes

-encourage them to get creative.  Instead of spending a ton of time setting up an intricate craft that creates a huge mess and only occupies them for ten minutes, hand our kids paper and crayons and have them use their imagination

I am excited and a little nervous about this endeavour.  I plan to document our journey on my blog including the the days when I fall short, the kids throw temper tantrums and when my cooking bombs.  Hopefully I will stumble upon some practical approaches that can be applied to other busy families.  I hope you follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest as well!


Our Christmas Album From 1 – 4 Kids, the Memories Despite the Stress

IMG_2655Merry Christmas from the family behind Nesting Story!  I thought it would be fun to create an album of each Christmas from 1 – 4 kids.  Wow, have we grown and have such full hearts!  Looking back I think out of all six Christmases we have been parents,
2014 has been the least stressful.  Shouldn’t it be the opposite?  Maybe we are seasoned veterans at this point!

Our very first Christmas as parents was both exciting and stressful.  Although it was so much fun to move the focus of giving from one another to our son Holden who was six months old at the time, it was also difficult navigating the busy family get togethers with a child who was suffering form major separation anxiety!  On Christmas eve we raced Holden over to the emergency room because he woke up from a deep sleep after a busy family dinner screaming hysterically for no reason.  Once we pulled up to the entrance, Holden had fallen fast asleep so we decided to head home.  We quickly came to the conclusion that Holden had a night terror.  The following two years of Holden’s life he would suffer a night terror about once a month, often after a busy social day.

collage 2009 2

Christmas 2010 We drove for the first time as a family to Sanibel Island, Florida.  My parents have a time share on Sanibel so I grew up spending Christmases in Florida.  To me, that is truly Christmas.  We would make the long, stressful but exciting drive from Ontario to Florida competing to see who can spot the first palm tree.  Crossing the bridge from Fort Myers to Sanibel at sunset and arriving on this magical island void of streetlights but sparkling from all of the twinkly Christmas lights.

That Christmas, although we were surrounded by my family in Florida, Holden was still very nervous around anyone other than Mike and I.  Our favourite memory from that holiday was taking early morning strolls on the sandbar just the four of us (I was 33 weeks pregnant with Beau).
collage 2010Christmas 2011 welcomed a new member to our family who was filled with smiles.  at ten months Beau was on the verge of walking.  This was her pre Beau the Destructor phase.  Mike and I were going through a lot at this time.  We had spent the last year working very hard with Holden on his language delay and his sensory processing disorder.  To say we were stressed is an understatement.  The stress on us as parents as well as our marriage was huge, but with lots of perseverance and the most incredible support from Holden’s speech therapist and our families, Holden’s speech caught up and he started to truly enjoy life.collage 2011Christmas 2012 we once again drove to Florida with intentions of a sunny fun filled holiday.  At the end of driving day one Beau became violently ill and by the time we arrived on Sanibel the next day she had been sick multiple times each hour and was living on orange Gatorade.  Thank goodness my dad and family friends who were in Florida with us were doctors.  This stomach flu which made the rounds to almost every family member transformed into a brutal chest cold which took hold of Mike and Beau.

Because Mike and Beau were stuck inside, Holden and I were out and about making the best of our holiday.  My favourite memory was after the sun went down each night Holden and I would head out together to explore, popsicles in hand.  We would watch the snails that would emerge after dark  and then head to the club house watching the older kids play ping pong, all while having long uninterrupted conversations… something we weren’t able to do a year before.

collage 2012Last year was a bit of of a write off.  Ontario had just been hammered with a massive ice storm a couple days before Christmas and we were still cleaning up from that.  I was so nauseous and we were still wrapping our heads around the news that we received on December 23rd… twins were on the way!!!  Looking back I am disappointed at how little photos I took.  Beau was so cranky on Christmas morning, probably from her over-excited brother waking her up too early!
collage 2013I’m not sure if it was the absence of pregnancy nausea, being forced to always be two steps ahead now that we have four kids or that our stress threshold is much higher now but despite Mia and Everly having colds (once again) we had a wonderful Christmas!  We had our moments of all four kids being over tired and screaming the whole drive home from family gatherings and  babies having bouts of stranger anxiety, but I found myself taking everything in stride.

We didn’t hide our litter of children under a rock either!  We actually packed everyone up (despite the mess it always creates) and crammed into our van to watch our local Christmas lights show where the elaborate lights on a home co-ordinate with the radio station we tune into.  This has become an annual tradition for us.  The older kids were full of enthusiasm Christmas morning and were patient while we each took turns opening presents.  The first thing our sweet Holden did when he arrived at the tree full of presents was start helping Beau find one with her name on it… heart officially melted!

collage 2014

What I can take away from looking at all the past Christmases of us being parents?  There will always be stress.  A lot of parents have commented to me that their favourite thing about my blog is reading about the chaos and stress that happens behind the scenes.  It makes them feel like what they are experiencing as a family is normal.  I am always happy to share the very real side of our family; I think it is so important for parents to stick together and share their war stories.  When the stress hits, especially during the holidays, just breathe and remember that it is completely worth it with the incredible memories you are left with!

Happy Holidays from Nesting Story!

Nesting Story… The Blog

Sarah Martin Photography024 2

I have made a big decision that feels really good, so it must be the right one. After a lot of discussion with Mike and a lot of thought on my end I have decided that Nesting Story will no longer be offering any services. Moving forward Nesting Story will solely be a design and parenting blog. Although many projects have been coming my way over the last six months and after pondering if I could take any one of them on I am finally being truthful to myself that my place right now is at home. Making that definitive decision has not only lifted a massive weight off my shoulders of trying to figure out childcare for our twins but I have a new found excitement about parenting and blogging. The ideas have been absolutely flowing and I have found myself putting more effort into our kids and our home.

I am such a busy body. I get that from my Dad. After retiring from physical medicine and being the chief of emergency for many years he is now a psychotherapist. When he is not busy working he is painting or gardening in his vegetable garden and then cooking up a storm making fancy soups and stews for my mom, skiing, cycling… you get the idea! I am the same way. I am constantly decorating and moving décor from room to room, entertaining, complete with elaborate table settings, crafting, gardening, painting etc… all on top of parenting four kids. Mike just watches me whirr around our home and knows to just let me do my thing. My mom came over a couple of days ago to hold babies and instead of taking a nap, my way to unwind was pull out everything from our china cabinet and rearrange it and incorporate our festive red and green vintage goblets. I know… crazy.

Ever since making the big blog decision a couple weeks ago I have been writing like crazy and while Mike has been observing my usual crazy crafty lady tangents he has started to comment; “you should blog about that”. Nesting Story will now not only be about children’s room décor but also family life, twins, design around our home, a little about me and some lifestyle blog posts here and there.  Have I said how excited I am?  As mentioned before, my posts may have obvious signs of sleep deprivation but that will just be proof of it’s authenticity.  My goal is to blog twice a week like I used to, and please feel free to share.

You will also notice that Nesting Story has undergone a bit of a facelift thanks to my web design genie from Brick Whale Creative.  One big change is the addition of headings and sub headings for my previous blog posts.  Have a look around, they are much easier to find now.

I’d also love to hear feedback from you in the comments section.  Let me know if there is anything specific you would like me to blog about.  HERE WE GOOOOO!!!!!!!