Monday, December 29, 2014

Revamp, Incoming!

Hi, Mamas! What with all my new changes underway in life, (that I will talk about more soon) I felt as if my blog was also in need of a long overdue overhaul, too. A little tweak here, a polish there, and by the time I'm done, it'll be wonderful!
Thanks to someecards, I can finally express my snark properly!

Love to all my Mamas out there, and I hope you're having a great holiday!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Adventures in Breastfeeding #10 :Boobie Time During the Holidays

Hello again, Mamas! I've just come back from 'vacation', and had a wonderful time visiting with my extended family. While I was there, I noticed something that caused little bumps in the visit. My breastfeeding, while voices sang approval, quirked a few eyebrows because of my daughter's age. The following comments rolled from the peanut gallery:
 "Why don't you just give her the bottle?"
"Are you going to breastfeed after she gets teeth?"
And, my personal favorite: "You're going to have a Game of Thrones thing going, aren't you?"

While visiting with my mother and step-father, they didn't bat an eyelash every time I pulled out my breast and let Baby Girl latch on, even if it was for a few minutes. She was, after all, in an unfamiliar place and surrounded by unfamiliar people who wanted to hold her! Isabel can be very shy, and isn't persuaded by strange arms easily. Well, unless you're holding a bottle. Then she loved you! But, back to my point. I let her latch as much as she needed for comfort and nourishment, and my mother's only words were, "Maybe she's big enough for you to put her strictly on the bottle. You pump enough, right?" She had no idea about my supply struggle, so I just nodded and said, "If she'll take one from me seriously, I will consider it."

 Overall, the running theme for my family holiday visit was one of scrutiny and 'helpful' suggestions on weaning. I finally took a stand, and said that I would wean Isabel when -she- wanted, not the other way around. Well, you'd have thought I grew a second head, or something. No one said another word about the topic, but you could tell there was tension in the air. I was glad when the trip was over, after all was said and done. How did you cope with Family Peer Pressure? Were they supportive in the beginning? This situation isn't singular for most Mamas, I'm sure. And, if you came from a breastfeeding family, was the pressure still there to wean after baby was a certain age?
Visions of Milky Sugar Plums...

Hopefully, you all had low-stress holidays, Mamas. New posts coming soon. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Love to all my Mamas out there!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

FINALS WEEK!

I promise, I will be writing more after this week. The semester will be over, and I will be able to write about all the things YOU love reading about! See you soon, Mamas!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

One Pump, Two Pump, I Pump, You Pump

Hello out there to all my Mamas! I wanted to have a talk with you all about something near and dear to my heart. Literally! At least once a day, a plastic appliance is attached to my breasts, and I spend about 20 minutes getting intimate with these things. I'm talking about breast pumps, in all of their annoying glory.

I wanted to go a little more in-depth about breast pumps in this post because I got to talk about them a lot today! It gave me some time to reflect, and admit that pumping has grown on me. In fact, there are days when I'm glad to hook up to that machine, sit down, and let the pump do all the work! It's easier than a wriggling 9 month old, that's for sure. Pumps are also life savers when a newborn has nipple confusion, or nipple aversion! We dealt with the latter; once we came home, Isabel WOULD NOT latch. She cried and pushed away from me any time I tried.

First of all, I want to reiterate what I've said. Pump breaks at work are mandatory; the Department of Labor has a nice little page setup for this. FAQs about the Federal Law. Don't ever feel intimidated! You have to stick to your guns, Mamas. Hard, full boobs make it hard to concentrate at work, too. If anyone starts to complain, show them a milk-soaked shirt because you waited too long, and see what they say. (That usually works)

Second of all, I want to talk about types of pumps. The type can make the difference between frustration and elation!
Once the milk came in, we were overflowing!

That pump in the above picture is an AVENT manual pump. It's pretty nice, considering it has the attachment screw right onto the bottle. No transferring, no baggies! However, I had never pumped before, so I was struggling with getting any milk for a good week. This was one of the happiest days I had after giving birth to Baby Girl. But why was it so hard?

www.breastfeedingbasics.com !

A lot has to do with the fit. When my milk came in, I was engorged, as so many Mamas are. Unknowingly, I was pumping with a flange that didn't fit! I was left with only an ounce of milk after trying to pump for an hour, sore nipples, and aching breasts. I was bawling on skype with a good friend of mine who had a young daughter, 9 months old, at the time. She was my go-to for pumping because she started it once she went back, and was still going. She ordered a single electric pump from First Years. The silicone flange gave me some much needed comfort while pumping, and the electronic suction seemed more effective at drawing out that stubborn milk. Of course, a few days later, Baby Girl decided she LOVES boobies, and latched perfectly.
My Salvation!!
 I had to go back to work after six weeks, sadly, but I had already made my manager aware that I was going to pump because I was breastfeeding. We would make arrangements as needed, but I would need at least 20 minute breaks every four hours to pump. The electric pump made this transition easier, but I needed to empty both breasts during this break, so I pulled out the good ol' manual, and suffered through. It wasn't until I got a rash on my areola that I realized something was seriously wrong. 

After two visits with a lactation consultant, we found out that my nipples were WAY too big for the flange I was determined to use. So, to prevent any further damage to my poor, poor nipples, she suggested we go to the Health Department that afternoon, and get a rent-for-free Medela pump. I found a flange that worked for me.
This monster was HUGE! It was a double electric, which meant I could empty both easily. I bought a handmade pump holder, which the Breastfeeding Coalition made for the Health Department, for $5, and the pump was free! I lugged that thing to work for months. The only downside is the care and cleanup part of my pump break made the 15-20 minutes turn into 30-35 minutes. 

After steadily breastfeeding and pumping at work, my breasts, while still huge, became softer. Because of this, I believe, my manual pump finally fit me. I started taking the manual and miPump with me to work, and stuck to 20-25 minute breaks, which gave me plenty of time to clean up and pump enough for a decent bottle. 
I did the research for you, now all you have to do is click a link below for more information. And remember, Mamas: WE CAN DO IT!
Follow Emyle's board Breastfeeding on Pinterest.










Monday, October 13, 2014

Adventures in Breastfeeding #9 : Feeding Frenzy!

As we pass the  nine month matkwr,  I've decided that Baby Girl is actually a baby bear, filling up for hibernation. How else do you explain a sudden increase in feeding times, as well as my milk supply? Oh yeah, a growth spurt.
With Baby Girl's teething issues (still no teeth but SUPER sore gums), her latch has changed drastically. My previous post was one that described my frustrations with nipple blisters and bleeding cracks, and these changes have also driven her to latch on like in the pictures below.
Her continued curiosity of how can I stay latched today causes some very interesting nursing sessions. That is, at least until she falls asleep! Any other Mamas ever had a roaming nurser?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Day Off

I'm a Hot Mess. We've already had this discussion. On my single day off each week, I'm even more ridiculous. And you wanna know why? 'Cause I'm a workin' mama that doesn't give a damn about pleasing anyone but the baby at my boob, and the six year old snuggled next to us. And let me tell you, Dumbo goes a long way.
Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios


When it's my day off, I treat it like it's the single-most important day by being the laziest slob of a mom. Sort of.

I am more likely to wear my nursing bra than wear pants.
I run my errands in my nursing tank and shoes with no socks, or my Birkenstock slide-on clogs.
Take a nap? More like do school work, play a video game, and do a load of laundry all at once. Dishes? HA! Dishes make a noise that's like an alarm clock for babies. No, thank you.
I blatantly refused to look for the hairbrush.
My husband is afraid to ask 'what's for dinner?', because I might chew his head off.
I go between huge bursts of CLEAN ALL THE THINGS and Oh, god, I just want to sit and crochet in silence.
Nothing really gets done.
After hours are spent doing absolutely nothing but listening to music and playing with Baby Girl (See as: "Doing nothing"), guilt creeps in.
Lunch consists of soup and PB&J sandwiches, pureed veggies for Baby Girl, and my Cherry Limeade tea. Because calories.
Baby Girl takes a 2 hour nap, miraculously!
I moan and gripe about schoolwork between Raid queues in World of Warcraft.
Spaghetti night! Beans helps me serve, and tells us stories at the dinner table, using funny voices.
Baby Girl makes squealy noises; there's a competition on who gets louder.
I win.
Put girls down to bed. Breathe a sigh of relief.
Actually brush & floss teeth; also tweeze eyebrows.
Shower? Maybe. Maybe in the morning.

I go to bed just as tired as when I woke up, but I'm thoroughly satisfied that I spent time with my girls.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Adventures in Breastfeeding #8: When The Well Runs Dry

Baby Girl is fast asleep after a nursing session.
At eight months old, I can proudly say that my little one is still breastfeeding. She also takes a bottle at daycare, with one formula supplement bottle, while I'm at work. But that is slowly changing. My stress levels are higher, and her nursing demands are lower. Despite best efforts, and her ability to draw forth an incredible amount of milk from me at night, I can see the end coming soon.

I don't want it to end. I know that I wasn't going to breastfeed after she turned 1; I'm only protected by law for pump breaks until the child is a year old, and assisted living homes are so on demand and hands-on that I only get 15 minutes as it is. There are days when I have to choke back tears because, despite my teas and water chugging, I can only bring out 4 ounces total. The challenge is real, my friends.

I'm satisfied, slightly, by the fact that she eats three meals a day. Fruits and veggies, with some baby yogurt to help with the protein, on top of what I am able to give her through nursing. But I still feel like I am letting her down, because my supply is just not there.

For the past few nights, we've done our cuddle/nursing sessions, this time with their ending on a sour note. She always pulls away and cries, then roots around for the other breast. I know that two breast feedings are a good thing. To me, they feel like I'm not making enough.

When the well starts running dry, and stress runs high, things can get rough. I try to freeze what I can, so that when I'm not able to make anymore milk, I'll still have some for her. I will do the best I can, and she'll love me no matter what.


We just might have some issues with trying to latch-on through my shirts, instead of taking a bottle from Mommy.



Friday, September 19, 2014

Pinterest = Panic Attacks?

Hi, my name is Em.
I am addicted to Pinterest.

Facebook may come and go, but give me an electronic way to be a hoarder, and I'm all for it. I mean, where else could I keep all these awesome things I want to do, where they would be safe from children?
When I was first introduced to Pinterest, it was before Baby Girl got here. I hadn't even thought of being pregnant, actually. It was just an app that a friend suggested I download to 'keep my ideas in order' as they came to me, because while you're desperate to keep awake on third shift bed watch, you're willing to do anything.
So, I started off simple: Things I want in my closet, things about gardening, things about homesteading, and cute things for Beans.

After I became full-on pregnant, my board themes changed from gardening and homesteading (which are still a deep seeded desire) to healthy pregnancy tips and losing the baby weight. I'd like to think that Pinterest helped me with my desperate need to nest, and the overwhelming fact that I had been out of a job for two months before my due date arrived.

Now, I'm on Pinterest when it's 6:30 at night, and Baby Girl is nursing herself to sleep while we cuddle in my bed. Delilah is already in her PJs, and watching her shows/playing her video game until the area wide curfew alarm sounds at 8:30 p.m. (Otherwise, she doesn't have any say in what's on T.V., and I usually make her play with Baby Girl or outside)
I scroll through my 'Pin Feed', and feel odd pangs at certain images of what mommy and baby/kid are doing. 'Great ideas for things to do when the weather sucks and your kids are driving you nuts'. AWESOME! I'll keep that for the one day a week I have off of work, and there's four feet of snow outside.
Or, I'll do what I always do, and run errands until I'm exhausted, and keep appointments until dinner time.

The other day, I ran across an article about why Pinterest is awful if you're a mommy. I was intrigued, because pinning was my way of relaxing. It was my escape! I could read articles, look at pretty clothes, and oogle pictures of far off destinations that I will never reach, and I could do it all silently, as to not disturb anyone. But then I read the article, and those weird pangs came back.

"Pinterest has one simple message for mothers: You’re not doing nearly as much as you should. It snuck into our lives masquerading as a useful resource. It hypnotized us with images of brownies baked on top of Reeses cups and then blindsided us with a list of crafts we will never complete. We need to destroy it. With fire."

I may scramble for my Pinterest to get ideas about what to do with my kids, or fix for dinner, or organize my budget...

Ah, crap. It's still convincing me it's useful, and all some of the articles do is make me feel like a piss poor parent; there's always some DIY project or cute outfit that I could get my hands on if I just had the time to learn to sew!

That gal's right. Let's kill it. With fire.
In fact, I think I'll pin the article for my followers.

#addictiontwitch
#PINNER4LYFE
#almostDIYmommy
#DON'TSTOPBELIEVIN'!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Keyboard Confessional: I Don't Want To Be Wonder Woman

Lately, I've been busy. Like,  near-exhaustion, no time to eat, what is a shower,  busy. Then again,  September is usually my busiest month. School starts for Beans, work usually picks up for me,  and things just generally seem to pile up quickly, until October, when we've had time to readjust our schedules.
This time is no different,  with a tiny exception. Make that a 17 lbs, 26 inch long exception. Baby Girl doesn't necessarily throw a wrench into my plans and habits,  but it's more like things pile up faster. Let me lay it out,  for better understanding.
My job is physically demanding, and high stress,  but gratifying.  I love what I do, truly. It's very difficult to decompress after hours,  especially when you only have the 20 minute drive home as 'alone' time. I try and sing along with the radio, or call my brothers (yay bluetooth!) and talk to them. But it doesn't feel like it's enough; as soon as I hit the bridge that goes into town, my focus is on the clock. Will I have time to swing by The Cave and give hubby a smooch? Am I going to find a parking space in front of the school so Beans will see me, and not go back inside and wander the school hallways? Can I hit the baby-sitter's in time to not get charged another hour? (She's pretty lenient on this anyway, but I still worry) OH MY GOD I HAVE SCHOOL WORK DUE TONIGHT BECAUSE IT'S WEDNESDAY/FRIDAY/SATURDAY AND THE GIRLS WON'T BE IN BED TIL 7 AND I HAVE TO BE IN BED BY 9 WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?! #studentmommypanic
And I forgot to set out my dinner to thaw/The crock pot wasn't even plugged in. Guess it's spaghetti night again.

Crap.


It's come to my attention that most of us Working Mamas, whether it's from home or away, put too much on our plates. And it's not like we don't -try- to delegate! On the days my husband watches the girls, absolutely nothing gets done around the house. Nothing. And he says it's because he was so preoccupied with them that he couldn't do anything else. And nap time? That was his reward for giving them all his attention, so he played video games during downtime. I can get mad,  but that gets me nowhere. 

So, why do we feel like we have to do it all?

Seriously. Will the world fall apart if we just let things go? All I know is I just took about 30 minutes of time away to write this, instead of one more list, or cleaning one more dish, or folding one more pair of underpants. And now I feel better! Not really.

#waytootiredforthiscrap
#Mommyisalwaysmyfavoritejob


Saturday, August 23, 2014

#RealMamaTalk: Baby Blues

Hello again to all my Mamas out there! I know I've touched on some things lately that have been borderline soul-bearing, but there's one more thing I want to talk about that...Well, it just doesn't get talked about.

I'm talkin' 'bout those Baby Blues. I'm talking about Post-Partum Depression. I'm talking about what is being called 'Perinatal Mental Health Disorders', or PMADs.
A huge factor in this is Breastfeeding Pressure. This link shares a study on factors for PMADs. I'm seeing a pattern as I dive deeper into this fun world of Breastfeeding Support, and Fearless Feeding Phenomenon: Moms are stressed all to hell. Perfection, the pressure of breastfeeding, and the guilt trips of formula feeding (along with the stigma), and overall lack of sleep makes us Mamas prime targets for our wacky hormones to get even more out of whack.

I'm not talking about this from the other side of the fence, either. It was hard to admit at first, but looking back on things, I realize that I experienced Post-Partum Depression with my first child until she was nearly two years old. One thing stuck with me, when I tried to confide in someone about the hopelessness and the nightmares. They said, "Don't tell anyone! They'll take away your daughter." So I sucked it up, and buried my feelings, and grew even more and more distant from my Beans. I don't think she really noticed; I lived with my mother for most of those two years, and she helped with the comforting parent issues. But when I wasn't with her, I remember things that make me want to smack my past self really hard. Like staring at my baby girl when she fell down for the first time and cried. I didn't know what to do with her; she was too young to understand 'you're ok, keep going'. Then again, it was my first baby, and I had no idea the options that were available to me. No clue. I also felt like a complete failure because my daughter was formula fed, had digestion issues (which supposedly came from my being on an anti-depressant during the first trimester, but nothing could be proven), and I still couldn't see myself as more than just a baby-sitter to her.
After two years, something just clicked with me, and she became my whole world. 

Here I am with my second child, and at seven months old, I've come to see that I've been dancing on that Baby Blues/Post-Partum line.
Was I stressed out and worried that I'd let Bel down because I couldn't breastfeed?
Incredibly.
Did I ever feel like I couldn't touch her, or no one else was allowed to touch her?
Not as much.
Detachment issues weren't something that troubled me this time, but exhaustion and the stress to be perfect is! And you know what? I still talk to my husband, and my friends, and my own Mama. I even talk to my Memaw, now that I'm older, and I realize she's got some of that old reliable, soul-soothing wisdom. (Even if I don't always follow it)

I'd like to raise awareness about how the pressures of things like breastfeeding, child-carrying, shorter maternity leaves because you can't afford to be out of work, unsupportive/misunderstanding partners can drive us Mamas over the edge. It's not fair to put us in the ring with our own minds, and leave us to our personal demise. It's not healthy for the baby, it's not healthy for the family, and it's not healthy for YOU!

Just remember, Mamas. There's always someone to talk to.
Talk to a:
Lactation Consultant (because post-partum stress can affect milk supply!)
OB/GYN or Midwife
Doula
WIC counselor
Pastor or their spouse, if you're close enough
Best Friend
Partner
Family Member you're close to

If you still feel like no one else will listen, start pouring your heart out in a journal, or on a blog. It's better to let it out than keep it bottled up to just eat away at you.
There are people out there who love you, and will listen when you need them to.

Be Strong, Mamas!


Friday, August 15, 2014

BOOK REVIEW! BOOK REVIEW!

Finding the time to read is one of life's simple little pleasures that I truly revel in, should the opportunity arise. And not too long ago, it did! A very sweet member of the Mommy Blogger community had thrown up the option of doing a book review. Well, this Mama definitely wanted to do just that. Without further ado, I give you the very first book review of this blog!

Moms: As Elite as the CIA...Well Almost: Part I written by Andrea Keeney


I want to start off by saying that I absolutely cannot wait to see the next installment of these stories.
Though the characters are fictional, their viewpoint is very real. I feel as if every Mama could identify with the situations, and the 'pick your battles' mentality. I'd say that, if we have survived one of the incidents described (such as a tag-team candy snatch tantrum), then the rest of us Mamas definitely belong in the 'CIA' group. And, let's face it, most of us have.

I think Andrea Keeney has done a fantastic job of putting our lives out there, in a hilarious, poignant, and efficient. I was able to read the first installment between my own kid battles, and could easily pick up where I left off. Any title that can do that deserves five stars in my book! Hats off to you, Andrea!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mommy Reality Challenge #5

Getting back on track with the Mommy Reality Challenge, we pick up with week #5: THE LAUNDRY ROOM.

I don't have a Laundry Room.

I have a washer and dryer in my basement, but I don't keep anything down there. I used to want a laundry chute built into the floor of my bathroom, but now I realize I would forget the dirty laundry existed if it wasn't in my face all the time.

I manage to do two loads of laundry a week, and I stay on top of it fairly well. This week was truly a challenge for me, so I went with another side of the story.

'What Happens Once The Dryer Is Done?'


So, here we see my two big laundry baskets full of CLEAN, FOLDED CLOTHES. Once they're out of the dryer, it's fair to assume that my clothes, and the baby's clothes, are going to be stuffed into one of these baskets for later use.


And here we see the collection of 'I need to take these things to the consignment shop' bag, with overflow!...And my orthotic insoles. Hey, there they are!
My clothes are always clean!! They're just usually wrinkled. 
I can live with that. 


This is my infamous Un-mated Socks Basket. While there are a couple pairings in there, they've been lost to the bottom of the basket for so long, we've probably outgrown them! Meanwhile, Baby Girl loves to kick at the side of the basket, or pull out singles and giggle with glee! In the above, she has found one of her newborn sockies that I never found the mate to.


#MommyRealityChallenge
#LisforLaundry
#WrinkledFashions

Monday, August 11, 2014

Keyboard Confessional: Feeding My Baby Like You Feed Yours

Now that World Breastfeeding Week is over, I feel like I can talk a little more about something that's been bothering me for a while. It can be summed up easily in one simple question:

Why does it matter how I feed my child?

I see Formula Awareness campaigns, Public Breastfeeding campaigns, and all I can think is, why is there a line in the sand here?
Being a Mommy is hard work, and when you get that new bundle of joy, it doesn't matter if it's your first or your fifth, you're going to run into some snags. Why? Because every baby is different.

Baby Isabel was born during the Polar Vortex week in January. You know, when it was -50 degrees outside, before the wind chill. I wanted to breastfeed, and was adamant about nursing every two hours. So was Isabel. She latched on wonderfully, and painfully, after three attempts. Things went downhill from there.
After coming home from the hospital, and my milk came in, I was so engorged that she wouldn't, and couldn't, nurse. The pain was agonizing, and I spent my first day home going back and forth between bouts of hormonal and anxious sobbing fits, and putting bags of frozen corn on my breasts. Anytime I tried to pump, I got an ounce. That's a good bit! But my boobs were still so sore and aching! My anxiety didn't make for an inviting nursing experience.
First night home from the hospital- champion latcher refused breast; pumping begins, with Daddy feedings.


Two months later: Not gaining enough weight. 1 bottle of formula is supplemented. Sissy bonding time :)

After a month, Breastfeeding got easier. Much easier. On-demand nursing was awesome, and it brought Isabel and I closer together. I spent six weeks on maternity leave, and I felt confident that what I had been pumping between feedings would be enough for the few hours of daycare my Little One needed when I went back to work. Not only was that an underestimation, it was another blow to my Mommy ego. Back at work, my supply dropped significantly. I went back to pumping only an ounce or two during my break. My freezer supply was gone before I knew it, and I had to start supplementing. The truth hit even harder after our two month check up: Isabel wasn't gaining enough weight. She was a petite baby to begin with, compared to the 14 lbs some two-month-olds weighed. But she was healthy. The pediatrician suggested one bottle of formula a day, in addition to the breastmilk. So, after a couple days of trial and error, my childcare provider and I found a formula that Isabel liked, and went with the 'one bottle' rule. I would continue to Exclusively Breastfeed on my days off, otherwise. I knew it was the only way to keep the milk flowing.

To this day, she still takes one bottle of formula at daycare because I do not pump enough to keep up with her feedings.
 

Seven Months Old: Happiest when she can play with her toes AND breastfeed. 


There is a line drawn in the sand between Formula Feeding Mamas, and Breastfeeding Mamas, and it needs to be wiped out.

We need to be supportive of ALL Mamas out there, regardless of how we each feed our baby. Because every baby is different. Every need is different. And no way is 'more superior' than the other, because the baby's needs are being met.




There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not connected to a pump at some point or another. Even if it means I'm only able to give her a 2 oz snack before dinner.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Random Recipes!

So, in the past week, I started a part-time/flex job, got bumped up to Resident Assistant, and now have a huge mess of a house!
I'm really trying to keep my sanity,  and this recipe is helping at dinner time.  Talk about easy leftovers! !


Bubble Up Enchilada:

You will need-
2 cans biscuits, regular NOT buttermilk
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 green bell pepper
1 14 oz can Black Beans or Red Kidney Beans,  drained
8oz mozarella cheese,  shredded
Enchilada sauce (I prefer the kind made with a packet,  in which case you will need tomato sauce), packet or 8oz can
Medium bowl
9x13 baking dish

Here's what you gotta do-
*Preheat your oven to 350
*brown your meat,  drain off any fats
*Open your biscuits, and cut them into quarters. Toss these into the bowl.
*Make your enchilada sauce according to the package, and add to bowl of biscuits  OR  open up that can and dump it over the biscuits.
*Add meat to mixture
*Chop up that bell pepper, and add it in there, too
*Empty out the can of beans while you're at it!
*Throw a handful of cheese into mixture
*Mix gently with a spoon, preferably the large plastic kind
*Pour into baking pan; it's up to you if you wanna spray it with non-stick something. Make sure it's relatively even in the pan
*BAKE FOR 25 MINUTES!!
*Pull out and add cheese. I usually coat the top with cheese, because my family likes it really cheesy.
*BAKE AN ADDITIONAL 10 MINUTES!

Pull out of oven, and you're done.

Here is the end result!! I didn't have my phone on me beforehand to take the 'during cooking' photos. 

FOR REHEATING PURPOSES:

Pour about 1/8c of water on it, cover it with foil, and put your leftovers in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
The water will keep it from getting too dry, with the foil helping out with the condensation.

This will feed a family of four, with a single serving a piece, for two meals. 
Add whatever you want to it for sides. We usually have salad.




Sunday, August 3, 2014

SUNDAY EDITION: Trouble with the Grocery Store

It's that time of month again.

Grocery time.

Usually, I hate grocery time. I know it has to be done, but I drag my feet the day before, carelessly writing down things on scraps of paper, and forgetting where I placed them. Groceries (and shopping in general) is a huge anxiety pressure point, and it's something I've only just been able to do without a friend or loved one with me.

In the past, when shopping alone, it was a nightmare that lasted for hours. I was anxious on what needed to be in my buggy, despite having a list. (Would it be the right type? What about preservatives? What about GMOs?) I panicked when I saw a buggy full of groceries. I panicked when I got to the checkout line. AND GOD FORBID MY KID STARTS CRYING because they're hungry, or bored, or tired. That would be my breaking point. Many times, I've left whole buggies mid-aisle, bawling as I left the store.

I feel like a failure when I throw junk food in with the 'good' food. The things I've seen on Facebook and Huffpost about how poverty = junk food have just blown my mind, and left me with a burden of guilt that I'll never be able to unyoke. Because I live in poverty.
I've said before that I receive WIC to help out with things like eggs, milk, and baby food (since Isabel turned 6 months old, those vouchers were supplied). But, having the history of sh*t hitting the fan, I also took the plunge, and got Food Stamps. I don't flaunt the little bit that I do get. But it's enough that I, when I first got my card, thought I could handle $120 a month for food.
But then I was ridiculed for having a 12 pack of soda in my cart, or a box of popsicles for Delilah. Even a box of hot pockets was blasphemy! People would sneer or roll their eyes as I put the same food on the conveyor belt as everyone else: frozen dinners, pizzas, bags of chicken nuggets, pop tarts, chips, soda...
It wore me down, and then completely burned me out.
I was desperate to find anything that would get people off my case. And, as the scare tactic reports of GMO foods and childhood obesity spammed my Facebook feed, my anxiety in the grocery store turned into full blown paranoia. I lived this way for months, tiptoeing between dread and utter humiliation every time I pulled out that green card. Why couldn't I go full organic like some moms? This wasn't about price, this was about making that allotment stretch; and most coupons were for items that came prepackaged.



So, Friday Night, I saw the link to an article that took the wind out of my self-deprecating sails. Clean eating is a myth? What? Well, it can be, if taken to extremes. So is any other diet that claims this one or that one is the best for you. It dawned on me that I was trying too hard. Way, way too hard. I had to ask myself these questions:

*Did we have fruits & veggies with every meal? 
-Yes! Yes, we did. Sometimes, it was a glass of orange or cranberry juice with our eggs and toast, but I make sure we have a helping of everything.
*Are you overfilling the plates? Giving out seconds of meat instead of veggies?
-No. Unless we're eating Spaghetti, which has the homemade meat sauce already mixed in. Our plates and bowls aren't made for big portions.
*Are we eating snacks mindlessly? Grazing all day?
-Not to my knowledge. We have snacks, yes, but they're like..handful of pretzles and a spoonful of peanut butter. (Or, as my husband calls it, poor people food. He's the reason I had Doritos and Dr. Pepper in my buggy to begin with)

Hey, guess what? My family eats a healthy diet.

OH MY GOD, MY FAMILY EATS HEALTHY.

I want to show you a few pictures I have of my August grocery trip. This was done yesterday, and the only thing I had to put back was half of the Dr. Pepper I grabbed. Because my husband refuses to bend on certain things. (Allotment for the month has increased to $200 due to baby's age)

 The above is my first stop: Aldi's. I spend most of my allotment here, because I get the best deals on my food. What do you see?
Canned goods: Veggies, Fruit, Beans. Tortillas. Bottled Water. Things any normal family would get,  right? 
My entire haul: the WalMart bags are barely filled. Just one bag of Doritos for Mister spoiled brat. (Not shown are the cases of Dr. Pepper or sets of baby food)

 My first CNA job here in Wisconsin gave me my first look into reasonable stockpiling. My old boss was a blessing, and in shopping for the house's needs, she taught me how to make a proper grocery list. 

Here is the replenished stockpile, which I usually have to do every 3 or 4 months.

 Here, I separated the $10 worth of hamburger meat into 6 sections, and put them in ziploc sandwich bags.  That's a huge savings,  and space saver for my tiny freezer.

Aforementioned FRESHLY GROUND BEEF 80/20 mix. I can't stand to go lower because of the smell of all the grease as it's cooking.  Can't do it. 

A little something extra that I picked up from Wal-Mart, because I do want to make my own breads and canned goods.


I want to put this out there: 

I may suck at coupons, at menu planning, and even at converting to a strict diet. But you know what I don't stuck at? Feeding my family a wholesome dinner, with all the food groups,  and usually leftovers. We don't have to buy boxed dinners for convenience because a handmade dinner is the same price! Raise a glass of wine and say Amen!

You can let go of the stress, Mamas, because it doesn't have to be perfect. And you know what? 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Adventures in Breastfeeding: Infant Style!

Happy Tuesday, Mamas!!

I know, I know, I've been slacking. For shame, Em! Depriving these people! Truth is, with school starting for me in a couple weeks, and work starting to pick back up, I chose my house and my girls over blogging. (Boo, hiss! I'd rather blog than work)

I had quite the experience yesterday evening at an Infant Massage course offered by our WIC office. (It was free! Another reason to inquire about your local office)
It was the first, all EBF group. There was a 6 week old and a 3 month old who were champion latchers, and their Mamas were just as nonchalant about feeding them in front of everyone. I was bursting with pride and happy as could be! Good for them!

...And then Isabel decided that she wanted to try to nurse sitting up. Yes, my darling little angel was no longer content with the snuggle hold. She refused to lie in my arms, screaming and pushing away whenever I moved her into position. But she would snuggle up against me, standing on my leg, and suck at my chest because she (thought she) was starving. This was not working out. At all.

I call these the 'Four Pointers of Breastfeeding'. 
Both of my girls were 'Across the breast' feeders, which was nice. But, for some reason, things just changed. And it happened on vacation. 
While nursing Isabel the first afternoon we were up there, I was so tired that I just curled right up with her on the bed. We nursed and co-slept for about an hour. After that, it was like she refused to go back to her tried and true feeding ways. Even today, she constantly pulls away from her old latch to look at something, or stare at me and try to wiggle out of my hold. 
Or she tries the 'I'm going to sit up and nurse despite the fact that you have to hold me AND your boob up so I can reach the nipple'. This is exhausting. I was not blessed with the ability to deft gravity, and while my nipples don't point straight down, they are well on their way. No normal bra or ace bandage can keep these (borderline F cup size) puppies up! So, while I'm excited that she wants to nurse and still claim independence, I have no idea how to do that with the position she wants.

I, being a big-breasted woman, am a little uncomfortable with the co-sleeping and nursing arrangement. After she falls asleep, I pick her up and put her back in her bed. Give her fifteen minutes or so, and she is howling. Sure, she's probably confused as to how she got to her bed in the first place, but the minute I get to her bedside, she's in play mode. Rocking doesn't help, and nursing turns into a wrestling match until I give up and just bring her to my bed and snuggle down.

So, my breastfeedin' Mamas... 

What do you do?

#breastfeedinghasgottenharder




Friday, July 18, 2014

Mommy Reality Challenge #4

Hi everyone! Sorry I've been so quiet this week, but work has started to pick back up just a wee bit. I've been writing bits and pieces, but haven't finished an article yet! Well, until now. Today's blog post is another gem for the #Mommy Reality Challenge: SHOW US YOUR SINK!

Ah, the dishes; my most hated chore in the entire world. I wish we ate off of paper plates and used plastic flatware all the time, because I dread the idea of having to do dishes. My husband, on the other hand, thinks the kitchen should be cleaned every day. (He doesn't clean it, though, so it falls to me) I let the counters be for about 2 days, which is average. This is what we have:

 Empty sink? What? I hate having dishes in my sink, getting in the way of things. That's what counters are for!


And because I took these pictures, when I did my dishes that evening, I decided to do a little extra:


Almost completely reorganized, and tidy! I'm actually doing a pretty good job keeping it that way, since the coffee pot/ microwave area has even -less- space now. See what I did there? Eh? Eh? Haha.

#MommyRealityChallenge4
#Istillhatethedishes
#Whitecountertopsareevil



Friday, July 11, 2014

Mommy Reality Challenge #3

This challenge is all about capturing a 'Moment of Trouble'. I just might have a couple of those snapped on my old phone...

"Mommy I need your FACE!!" I still have claw marks in my cheeks. This wasn't kissing. This was chomping on my cheekbones.

I hear from behind me, "Mommy, these shoes make me want to pose for magazines!" She started her own version of The Vogue, so I had to grab a shot.


Ah, the baby has started to move around the living room more and more. A mix of rolling and side pulling finally got her to her goal: Bright Puzzle Pieces. Omnomnom, Mommy. They're mine now! (*Puzzles bought specifically for their large piece sizes, which cannot easily be swallow, or even really grasped, by the baby)

Ok, so it might not be super awful trouble moments, but they're mischievous for sure! (After this post, I've tried to keep my phone away from me as much as possible during the day)
#mommyreality
#cutelildevils
#Iwantlikefivemore



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAL!!!!!! (AiB #6)

(14 lbs 10 oz, 26 inches worth of precious)

I'm so excited!! Baby girl and I have made it to our original goal: Six Months of Breastfeeding!!
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

It's not going to stop here, though! My tune has changed ("No way am I going to have a teething baby chomping on my nipples!" Me, January 2014) and I'm more confident in The Latch. I bet you're wondering why, though. Why would someone who had their heart set on going for only six months suddenly change their tune?

Answer: I'm lazy.
Oh yeah, you heard me. I'm lazy, and I'm cheap. What's that? You want a list? Wish granted, Mamas!


Awesome Pros:
#1- I don't have to stumble around the kitchen with a sobbing baby at 3a.m.
#2- Said baby is soothed easier at night by simply snuggling up and placing on boob. 
Ok, fine. Night time is a good time to nurse. But what about the rest of the day?
#3- Nursing On-Demand gives me excuses to not do my boring chores. "Sorry, she's just been a piggy all day! I could hardly get anything done!" (Teehee)
#4- I don't have to clean bottles every day!! :D
#5- After about twenty rounds of peek-a-boo, we can take a break with nursing! (And I get to regain my sanity, little by little)
#6- I don't have expensive cans of formula cluttering my already cluttered counter tops. 
#7- I am guaranteed a break at work to pump, even if I have to eat at the same time.


Pesky Cons:
#1- I don't get to sleep through the night. Ever. I really want to kill Daddy in the morning when he says he's tired.
#2- Continually watching my diet has made me paranoid of malnurtrition. I have a running list of what I MUST eat every day. This doesn't count the gallon of water I somehow end up consuming on a daily basis.
#3- A lot more preparation goes into my day if I have to work than if I don't. (Pack the pump, tubes, containers/baggies, marker, cooler bag. Oh, and that's not even counting the diaper bag full of frozen milk)
#4- On Demand Nursing gives me little time to do anything else, including boring chores. (Read as, 'Honey, why are we always out of forks and towels?')
#5- I have a nosy baby, so during the day, she is constantly P-U-L-L-I-N-G my nipples and trying to turn her head at the same time. This is regardless of music or t.v. being on/off.
#6- I feel like I'm more of a pacifier some times, especially before a nap.
#7- ATTACHMENT ISSUES. (Read as, "Please take the baby for five seconds so I can poop." -child begins screaming at the top of her lungs and doesn't stop until you re-enter the room)


As you can see, the list is pretty even. And, while it is a personal preference to breastfeed with every mom, this one has decided to go at it for the long haul!
Thank you for going on this journey with me, and be sure to stay tuned for more nursing adventures!

~Love, Em





Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4th, 2014


HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY EVERYONE!





With this wonderful holiday, let's remember to practice safety around our kiddos and furbabies. Hope everyone has a great weekend!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mommy Reality Blogging Challenge #2



Hello everyone! This week's Mommy Reality Challenge is all about Mommy's Meals! 
Now, I wasn't sure how to go about this, simply because I have a 5 month old that's only just started eating solids, and a 6 year old that can (and does, much to my chagrin) make...toast. Waking up at 6a.m. to make toast so mommy doesn't see how much jelly she uses. Yup. Hasn't happened in a while, but you can bet the smell of toast will wake me out of a sound sleep, because I'll think she's trying to burn down the house.
But the challenge is about the not so pretty side of mommy meals, and what we give our kids . Click for more adorable examples!
Anyway, the pictures I've put in today are two of my biggest snack culprits: 


#1: Cheese Curds. Can we say Dairy State? I live 15 minutes from a dairy factory, and these little guys are always there, and available in a few flavor varieties. They come in my favorite flavor, too: Calories. Haha!


#2: These are my go-to 'procrastination' snacks for Beans. After lunch, we have 'quiet time'. Baby Bel goes down for a nap, usually, and Lala and I will read a book, or color, or I'll nap on the couch and she'll watch a Disney movie, curled up at my feet. The granola bar, or 'Chewy' bars, are the most important food group to my 6 year old. Her day is not complete unless she eats like 4 of these. 
The snack packs are an added bonus. They're like a delicious reward for eating all of her nasty green beans at dinner. Or, usually, just a way for me to make her stop talking about the invisible rabbit she has living in her closet (for the millionth time) so I can clean up in peace.

#Mommyrealitychallenge

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Adventures in Breastfeeding!! #5

                              THE DREADED BREAST PUMP
That's right! I said it! I hate pumping milk. I loathe it, honestly. It feels like a ridiculous inconvenience to me. I have to stop whatever project I'm doing at work to take 30 minutes (which is usually when I have to eat, too) . At home, and the baby is asleep? She's gonna be hungry when she wakes up in an hour. Why pump?
Manual, Single, Double...I hate 'em all! I know they have their purpose, but I'm not a fan.
But, let me tell you that I am so thankful to have a pump that fits my needs.
Since introducing my little Bel to oatmeal (or peas, because that's her favorite) for dinner, I've had to pump a little extra through the day to make sure it was mixed with breastmilk. Sure,  I get super confused when my left side gives me nothing after  15 minutes,  but turns into a super soaker as soon as Isabel latches on. I'm usually pumping my right,  and managing (while secretly judging and loathing myself) about 3oz worth of milk. That's enough for 1 oz in cereal,  with 2 as a nightcap after her bath. But still, there are times that I soak through my shirt, but when I put the tatas on the pump, I'm drier than the Sahara. Talk about mind-boggling.  
#endofrant

So! I went digging through my bookmarks, back when I first went back to work, and found the sites below. Happy reading!


When my supply first seemed to drop off, I scrambled for answers on the internet. The website above not only gave me information about pumping at work, but also about my freezer supply, and how to help my supply work its way back up!
(Don't check the message boards. The last active post was in 2006)


Bookmark this page. Do it. Do it now. It's going to help you while you're cursing yourself under your breath because you have to drag out the stupid pump YET again. Read the articles while you pump. :) 


Friday, June 27, 2014

Mommy Reality Blogging Challenge #1

Transitioning from one area of our country to another can take some time..and some Alka-Seltzer. While recovering from tummy troubles, I found myself on my phone, scrolling through Pinterest. ( Mostly, because it doesn't make noise and I can be half awake, and still use it.) I happened across a pin from a Mommy Blogger that talked about the snacks we feed our kids, because we're not perfect. I was instantly intrigued! After about 5 minutes of playing the 'click that link' game, I found the main site that started the Mom Reality Challenge.
So, at around 3a.m., not only did I find a few good blogs (So I can follow them on Bloglovin, like mine ), but I found something fun to do!

I'm a little behind, but I figured I'd start with week one's challenge: Show off your car! 


YUP! That's the back of my  '97 Dodge Neon. My homage to Aldi's bag collecting is crammed behind the driver's seat. Not doing too bad, though, considering I cleaned it out in March.
#mommyreality

A HUGE 'Thank You!' to A Lavender LifeJENerally Informed, and Leapfrogs and Lipgloss for starting this challenge, to show everyone the gritty, gross, and ugly side of Mommyhood. :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Breastfeeding Adventures 4! NOW WITH PICTURES!

I got to experience, first hand, the ugly side of breastfeeding during my vacation. The trip itself was fine, but the issues seemed more prevalent in the airport between destination and home.

Four separate women*, all who had children, made snarky comments or snide faces while I desperately tried to nurse my 5 month old daughter in peace. I kept myself tucked away in the back row of the terminal each time, calmly waiting to board my flight. I shrugged off most of these things, until a woman, very loudly, proclaimed, " Someone should just ask her to do that in the ladies' room, that's disgraceful!"
(Image used in the When Nurture Calls campaign, and completely correct)

Let me tell you, Mamas, I was every color red. Not from embarrassment, but anger.
I quickly shouted back, "You don't eat on the toilet,  so why should she!?"
The woman stomped off, dragging her children and husband to the completely opposite side of the terminal.  Other families followed.

The gate stewards ignored the verbal scuffle. After all, part of the Obamacare act was to give nursing mothers more rights: Rights at work (to pump), and rights outside of the home (to freely nurse in any facility). They didn't want to waste their time with a nursing mother who was allowed, BY LAW, to feed her child there. 

It wasn't until afterwards, when Isabel was burped and handed off to Daddy, that I excused myself to the bathroom. 
I locked myself into a stall and cried for a solid ten minutes. The only thought that came to mind was How Dare They?!

It's an awful feeling to be singled out by the people who should stick together in such a stressful environment. We Mamas need to support each other! How can we embrace a healthy lifestyle if all we can do is discriminate and ridicule? Maybe I'm just preaching to the choir, but if I saw another mom nursing like that, I'd whip out my cover,  and go sit nearby, offering a smile and silent support. Because it's a grim outlook with all the ignorance of the general public.

The picture below is what I posted publicly on Instagram and Facebook. It's so lewd, right? Completely inappropriate.  #sarcasm




*It did not seem to ruffle any of the nearby male patrons when I had to nurse my daughter. Most were under headphones or half awake. Only one looked at me, and that was because he was looking for a phone charger on the wall.

Friday, June 20, 2014

MIA

Sorry for not updating, but my vacation has been so awesome, I just haven't had time to sit and write.
Updating next week!!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pinterest Test #1


HEALTHY KALE CUBES!

So, SOMEWHERE in that wide world of Pinterest, I found a neat and easy way to freeze Kale. I've probably put it on this Pinterest board to explore later, but the recipe was so simple, I memorized it without trying.

You will need:
*Clean Ice Cube Trays
*Kale, washed (Chopped if you don't have a food processor)
*1 Whole Lemon
*Water
*Sandwich Ziploc Bags


Step 1:
Put your chopped Kale into a blender. (Trust me, it's the easier than fighting with a food processor to get it to a creamy consistency.)
Step 2:
Squeeze your lemon juice over the Kale.
*Normally, I roll my lemons around on the counter to make sure I get as much juice as I can. I don't have a traditional juicer, so I just chop the lemon in half and squeeze each half into a bowl, then spoon out any seeds.*
Step 3:
Add about 1/3 C of water, then Blend. Watch the mixture, and YOU decide when to go to Liquefy. 
**Warning: Your kitchen is going to smell like someone has mowed the lawn on your counters. **
Step 4:
Pour weird green grass concoction from blender into ice cube trays, as shown. 





Step 5:
Freeze overnight.
In the morning, pop those bad boys out and put them into your ziploc bags. 

YIELD: About 1 1/2 trays of cubes




I use these in my smoothies!


Any other recipes or DIY things on Pinterest you think would be fun to try, but don't have much time or resources? Leave a comment, and maybe you'll see it in a future post!
Happy Blending! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pancakes!!

Pancakes are a rare delicacy around my house. I never seem to find the time in my busy morning before work to make them. But when I do? Oooh, it's a doozy of a batch!
I don't make just any ol' pancake. Oh, no. I make 'homemade' apple cinnamon pancakes that you can eat with our without syrup!

Ingredients:
*pancake mix ( just add water)
*ground cinnamon
*apple sauce (sweetened or unsweetened)



Directions:
I'm very much a measure by sight gal.  I never follow directions on the pancake box because the consistency with the apple sauce just doesn't work with the measurements given. This can be fun for you and the kids to play with!
-In a mixing bowl, mix together pancake mix, a glop of applesauce, and a fair bit of cinnamon. Mix together. It'll look dry.


-Add water, little by little, while stirring the mix. This gives you the chance to make your own thick or thin pancakes. 

-A spoonful of batter is what we use. Grease up a griddle or skillet and lay 'em out. Don't set the heat very high.  The natural sugars in applesauce means these bad boys will scorch easy if the heat is too high or you don't watch them. 

-Turn every few minutes.  Yeah, they're gonna look burned.  I promise that they aren't.  You'll smell it if they are.


Once they're off the griddle, serve 'em up! If your middles feel a tiny bit moist, that's ok. If they're super gloppy, that just means your heat was too high. There's a low learning curve for these, so you can experiment however you want. 

FREEZER FRIENDLY!
Yeah, that's right! I make more than what I expect to eat, and pop these babies in the freezer for mornings I don't feel like cooking. 

*You can fit 2-4 in sandwich ziploc bags
*They thaw fairly quickly, and can be reheated frozen if needed
*Put 'em in the toaster (temp depends on frozen/thawed) and they pop out delicious!


One less thing to worry about in the mornings! 
Do you have any special recipes you like to make ahead for breakfast?