My breastfeeding story

August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week. I’m teaming up with Mom Bloggers Club to share my breastfeeding story and help spread awareness about breastfeeding.

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Before I ever got pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. This was based more on a gut feeling than anything else. It just seemed like a natural, easy, logical choice. I didn’t really give it much thought.

Then I became pregnant with Ian, and like many first time moms, I started to read and research just about everything I could about all things babies and parenting. For a topic that is hardly ever discussed (not even in movies or TV- all those newborn babies are fed off screen magically, I guess), there certainly is a lot out there to read. And the wide range of thoughts, opinions, and experiences is just astounding. Everything from what a beautiful, effortless, harmonious experience it is in which mother and baby really bond and instantly connect to horror stories of pain, engorgement, and mastitis. Once you got past the personal accounts, there were endless recommendations of the best positions/holds, whether to demand feed or schedule feed, and of course the cautionary tales of the oh so dreaded and feared nipple confusion. There was so much to digest that it made my head spin. This thing that I had decided to do was suddenly becoming intimidating and overwhelming.

After taking a deep breath, I pushed everything aside. I read up on the proven benefits of breastfeeding, talked to some family and friends to get their experiences, and made my decision.

Yes, I would breastfeed.

Even with the uncertainty and information overload, my gut still told me this was the path I wanted to take (it also didn’t hurt that breastfeeding is free while formula is not). I set my ultimate goal at that magical 12 month mark, but also told myself it would be OK if we didn’t make it that far. This permission to stop (not give up) if necessary helped lower the stress and pressure.

Then Ian was born, and I finally got to give this breastfeeding thing a try. I’m not going to lie- it wasn’t instantly easy and it wasn’t painless. But it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had feared. And the pain was temporary and short-lived.
The lactation consultant in the hospital was fantastic, so I’m sure that helped significantly. She answered my questions and helped me get the latch right. She also introduced me to the wonders of Lanolin (for that, she is a goddess!!). I left the hospital feeling mostly confident that I had breastfeeding under control. It took probably a solid week before I considered myself proficient and closer to a month before I was a self-proclaimed pro. But I got there. And looking back, it was a journey I’m glad I took.

Ian breastfed for 9 months. When we nightweaned (which, by the way, took one night- but that’s a topic for a different post), he decided to stop daytime feeds too…kid went cold turkey on me. I thought it was one of those fabled “nursing strikes”, but it lasted a month and nothing I tried worked. So, finally, after a full month of pumping and no nursing, I called it quits. The decision was bittersweet. Breastfeeding had its challenges (our biggest hurdle was biting), but it also had huge rewards. I wouldn’t change that experience and time for anything.

And now that my baby is a rambunctious toddler, I often find myself reminiscing about those early days when it was just me, him, a pillow, and a rocking chair.

Have questions about breastfeeding? The World Health Organization has tons of great information! Struggling to get the hang of things? Reach out to a lactation consultant- the La Leche League is a great place to start and a fantastic resource. And of course, you can always ask me questions about my own breastfeeding experience- I’d love to share!

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What’s for Dinner?

When I went grocery shopping last week, I went without a list. This is normally pretty risky behavior and leads to extra purchases and sometimes not enough dinners. For these reasons, I try to ALWAYS make a list before hitting the grocery store. But we missed our regular grocery shopping day, and we had exhausted our food supply, and it was a weekday, and I figured I could just grab a few things and then go back a few days later after I had a chance to make a list.

Good theory…but it didn’t exactly happen that way. I got to the store, and it was not very crowded. And I realized I didn’t really want to go back to the store later in the week. So I decided to go ahead and just buy the normal allotment of groceries. But without my list, I hadn’t planned dinners for the week, so I kind of had to wing it. Fortunately, we have some old favorites that are in our regular rotation (such as tacos) that made it a little easier on me. For the other dinners, I selected easy items like brats/hotdogs and versatile things like chicken breast. And then I stumbled upon the Land O’ Lakes Sauté Express flavor cubes…and since I was already shopping on impulse, I bought them. I decided on the teriyaki flavor and bought some rice and beef to go with it.

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Well tonight I finally got around to making this teriyaki meal…and I have to say- it was delicious!  And oh so simple. I wish I had taken a picture of the finished meal, but we gobbled it up (even the toddler) so quickly that by the time I thought of it the plates were empty. But here’s how I made our scrumptious meal.

– I had 1.2 lbs of beef, so I used 3 cubes of the Sauté Express (the package recommends 1 cube per half pound of meat).
– I added the three cubes to my pan and turned the heat to medium-high.
– I waited for the cubes to melt complelety (they turned into a thick, bubbly sauce) and then added my beef (which I had cut into small strips).
– After a few minutes, I added half a package of frozen stir-fry vegetables.
– Then I just stirred constantly to make sure everything was coated and cooked.
– Meanwhile, the rice was cooking. I’m awful at rice (seriously, it’s sad), so I use the boil in a bag variety.

Everything was done cooking at about the same time…and I had a meal on our plates in less than 30 minutes. How can you beat that?!

No, I’m not a Land O’ Lakes employee. Nor is anyone in my family. And I did not get compensated in ANY way for this post. I just thought this product was really neat and wanted to share, in case anyone else has seen these in stores and wondered if they are any good (which, yes, they are).

What have you made for dinner that’s quick and tasty? I’m always on the lookout for new meals!

{Honest Review} SWEET DREAMS with BEDTIME BLISS Sleep Mask, Ear Plugs & Carry Case

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. I received a free sample of the product in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated in any other way. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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I have never slept with a sleep mask but have always wanted to just to see if it would really make a difference. I’m not overly sensitive to light at night, but we do have a fair amount of items that glow (alarm clock, baby monitor, TV box) and they sometimes get annoying. We also have windows right next to our bed, and at night the moon has a tendency to shine brightly through the sheer curtains. Worse is when the sun comes up early in the summer…on the rare occasions when Ian lets us sleep in, the sun gets me. So when I got the opportunity to try out this sleep mask, I jumped at the chance. Here was (hopefully) the solution to my problems!

Here are the details:
– Contoured design allows for complete eye movement
– Ideal for men, women and children
– Won’t smudge makeup
– Adjustable straps to fit all head sizes & won’t put pressure on your eyes
– Won’t interfere with REM sleep
– Perfect for shift workers or a nap during the day
– Easily fits into your bag
– Lightweight and easily washable
– Oeko-Tex certified
– Includes Free Earplugs & Carry Case
– Backed by a RISK FREE, 90 day ‘Blissful Sleep’ 100% Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee.

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Now on to my opinions.
1. I really like that the mask (and ear plugs) come with a little carry case/pouch. Super convenient and keeps things from getting lost or damaged.
2. The mask is extremely lightweight…to the point that it really doesn’t feel like you are wearing anything.
3. I didn’t try the ear plugs because I just don’t like ear plugs…but they seem fine. They don’t appear to be anything any more special than your normal foam ear plugs that go in your ear and expand a bit to help block sound. But, again, I didn’t try them so I can’t make many judgments here.
4. The mask blocks out ALL light. It’s fantastic! There is absolutely no light the creeps through.
5. The mask stays put, even when side-sleeping. I have a tendency to move a lot at night, and the mask stayed on and in place without any issues.
6. The mask goes around your head with elastic, but it also has velcro in the back so you can really adjust it. It’s a nice little feature that helps ensure a snug and comfortable fit.

If you are looking for a new sleep mask, I recommend you give this one a try. It might just be the solution you’ve been wanting! You can buy it from Amazon here.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

A 21 Month Checkup

Ian went to the doctor for his 21 month checkup this weekend. He did really well! His 18 month appointment was fraught with toddler angst (yes, it’s a thing). He didn’t trust the doctor;  he didn’t like the nurse; he just didn’t want to be there. Period.

But this time around, once he got past his initial trepidation, he was great. So here are his stats:
Weight- 25 lbs (25th percentile)
Height- 34 in (70th percentile)

He’s still our stretch string bean!

During this checkup they also did a brief autisum questionnare/screening, and he passed…no indicators of autism.  It’s basically a list of questions with yes/no answers and you self evaluate your child.  I have no doubt that our results are correct (he hasn’t given us any indicator at home that would make me question it), but I wonder how well these self screenings really work.  I wonder if as parents we tend to overestimate (or maybe even overstress?) and see things that are or aren’t there?  I’m sure there’s been some type of study or analysis done on this, but it is something that popped into my mind as we were filling it out.

Anyway, after all that, there was a quick developmental screening.  Basically, they interacted with Ian and asked him to perform various tasks so they could make sure he was on track.  And he did great!  He even surprised us with some of the things he was able to do. For instance, they gave him a baby doll and a toy bottle and asked him to feed the baby. Jon and I looked at each other skeptically, but Ian didn’t even hesitate He put that bottle right up to the baby’s mouth- who knew he could do that!?  Another one of the tasks was throwing and kicking a ball. I think he took the nurse off guard with his throwing skills because he about knocked her out with the tennis ball.  She laughed, but I don’t know that she was really all that amused…

Afterwards he had to get one shot. He laid down fine and watched the nurse put on her gloves, no problem.  But then she pulled out the needle and stuck him, and he was (understandably) NOT happy.  And you know it is going to happen- the cry, scream, freakout, whatever- but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch.  Or to handle.  He was writhing pretty well when she was trying to apply the bandaid- that also took her back a bit (“Wow! He is really strong! Dad, I need some help here- hold him still”). Even with the three of us holding him as still as possible, she still had a miserable time getting the bandaid on and eventually just gave up. Then I scooped him up and gave him a hug and a kiss… and he was over it.  As quickly as it came on, it was done.  He had recovered enough to even tell the nurse “bye bye!” as she left the room.  Wish I still bounced back that quickly!

After checking out and getting the coveted doctor office sticker (this time he picked out a train sticker), we headed home.  One more successful pediatrician visit behind us…a million more to go.  But I’ll worry about that in 3 months (or the next time he gets sick). For now we’re just happy our boy is healthy and doing well: a parents dream.

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“All Done” and other favorites

Ian’s speech is rapidly expanding with each passing day. Where just 6 months ago we were slightly concerned about his lack of desire to speak, he is talking constantly now. Granted, not all of it is intelligible, but a good chunk of it is. It is so amazing to me that he can put together thoughts and words and actions and actually attempt to have a conversation with us! 

He has been cracking us up with the things he’s been saying recently.  Here are some of his most used words and phrases so far.

1. “All done???” This is stated/asked multiple times a day. Done with eating? Done with a bath? Want to go back inside after playing outside? All are apparently appropriate times to use this.

2. “Where’d it go???” (Can substitute other pronouns here) The best thing about this phrase is the accompanying gesture- palms up, arms outstretched, with a shoulder strug. Absolutely adorable. This is used during peekaboo; when someone leaves the room; when a toy is missing; when he kicks/throws the ball out of sight; when the pets run away…

3. “Uh oh!” This, too, is ridiculously adorable. Used when we pause, fast forward, or rewind the TV. And when something is dropped or knocked over. Coincidentally, also used when Ian decides to drop something “by accident”.

4. “Itchy!” Somehow I inadvertently taught Ian this word. He has eczema so often has itchy flare up areas, and we use itch cream and lotion to help keep it in check. But he still gets itchy, and when he does, he walks around pointing to whatever area itches and whines “itchy, itchy!” until we apply some type of cream/lotion.

5. “No.” Apparently an acceptable response to any and every question. Even when the answer is really yes. 

Do you have a new talker? What are some adorable things your little one likes to utter?

A long trip, fun with family, and a wonderful wedding

This past weekend was a whirlwind, but man was it fun! My oldest brother got married on Sunday, so we treked back to Virginia to celebrate with him and his bride (and to see family). A whole post about that adventure would be just way too long, so here are 5 things about our trip.

1. Driving at night is tiring but so much nicer when you have a toddler!
We left our house at 5pm, stopped around 6pm for dinner, got back on the road by 7pm, and (after stopping once for fuel) finally arrived at my in-laws at 3:30am. We were beat but Ian was able to sleep through most of the trip and passed right back out as soon as we got him into the bed. It was lovely not having to stop multiple times or attempt to keep him happy and occupied the whole journey.

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2. “The Wheels on the Bus” is a fine song…but is best in moderation
This is Ian’s new favorite song, so we sang it a million times this weekend. Most of those times were while we were in the car…because what else is there to do when you’re stuck in a seat but sing a children’s song? The only plus is that he is so incredibly cute when he sings along and does the hand motions.

3. A ball is really the only toy you need
We knew we didn’t want to bring a bunch of Ian’s toys with us this trip because we didn’t want the hassle and didn’t want to forget or lose them. I was a little hesitant to do this because we normally take a horde of toys and I wasn’t sure how Ian would react to not having them. But we found that as long as he had a ball, he was happy as a clam.

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4. Weddings are a different kind of fun with a toddler in tow
Before Ian was born, we had a lot of friends getting married and went to a fair amount of weddings. They were a blast. An opportunity to get a little silly, reminisce with friends, and stay up really late. After Ian was born, we still had friends getting married. So we were attending as new-ish parents (he was 7 or 8 months for his first wedding). This was a different kind of fun and it took some adjusting. Instead of getting too crazy, we were showing off our son to our friends and worrying over whether he would interrupt the ceremony or have a meltdown during the reception (fortunately we were blessed with a pretty amiable baby, so we normally worried needlessly). With a fully mobile, excitable, little person on our hands, this wedding was yet again a new experience. We spent a lot of time dancing to the music and sampling the food (and desserts!). We had a lovely time, even if it was somewhat exhausting!

5. Making time to visit family is so important
Living 10 hours away from family, it can be hard to justify the time, expense, etc involved in making the trip. But it is always SO worth it. Seeing Ian interact with his grandparents, aunts, and uncles is the best. And of course I love getting to connect in person with our families. It’s always a little sad on the day we head home, but we truly cherish these moments and memories.

Oldies But Goodies link party at Crafty State of Mind

oldies but goodies blog posts

Last week I added my DIY Ring Holder post to Crafty State of Mind’s “Oldies but Goodies” link party.  This is such a neat idea for a link up because it gives you an opportunity to dust off some older posts and introduce them to a new audience. I’m sure almost everyone has an old post that they love that they’d like to bring to the attention of new (and existing) readers. I certainly did!
Jen, from Crafty State of Mind, picks a few posts from the previous week’s link up  and features the on the current link party… and my post was chosen!!! I was so excited and surprised to hear that she picked mine among so many outstanding submissions.  Hop on over to her blog to check out all the great submissions and to add your own post to the link up!