Monday, August 3, 2015

August goals

August is honestly my least favorite month. It's smack-dab in between my birthday and autumn (my favorite season), so by the time August rolls in, I'm already over it.  This year I'm trying to enjoy it and try to not rush through the whole month.

Here are some goals for this month:

1. Re-work our budget. We've been pretty good about sticking to a budget for the last couple of years now (this is what we do- and it works so well!). Trev just moved jobs though, so we figured some new number crunching is in order.  It's both exciting (I love it when the math matches up everywhere) and overwhelming...

2. Work out consistently through the whole month. In the spring I was really good about sticking to workouts, but since we don't have air conditioning, finding the motivation to workout in the heat of summer is hard. I'm doing this workout right now, and I'm excited to go through the calendar this month!

3.  Read! Since Oliver's been born, I haven't finished a single book. Yipe.  I love reading, so I want to be more consistent about it.

4.  Figure out canning and preserving. The past year or so, I've tried to tackle kitchen and cooking things that intimidate me (garlic use to scare me - how would I get it out of the husk-things?).  Canning food is something I haven't ever done and makes me nervous.  We have a pear tree in our backyard that is full of pears... I don't want them all to go to waste when they're ripe, so I figure now is as good a time as any to figure out this whole canning thing.

Friday, July 24, 2015

teething stinks

Teething stinks.  Oliver is cutting his second couple of teeth right now and it's rough. He's been fussy, clingy, and hasn't been sleeping like he normally does. A few days ago when I was playing with him, Oliver gave me a huge smile and I noticed them- two teeth just barely pushing through on either side of his bottom middle teeth. It was like a lightbulb went off above my head and the fussy, clingy stage suddenly made sense.

one.  two.  three.  four.  five.  six

Here are a few things that have helped us immensely as Oliver is teething:

1. Oliver is so clingy when he's teething. He often insists on being held- he's not happy even sitting in our laps.  The Ergo is helpful to have when he's like that because we can still make dinner or get things done around the house.

2. I got this teething bracelet as a shower present.  Although it feels too bulky to really wear as jewelry, Oliver loves to chew and gnaw on the beads.

3. Diaper is a tell-tale sign that teething is under way for us.  We use this as often as we can (cloth diapering does make diaper rash cream difficult), and it helps clear things right up.

4. My mom got Oliver a few of these books for his first Christmas, and they are perfect! They really are indestructible- they can't be torn or chewed apart. These books make story time easier with a drooling, biting, fiend of a baby.

5. All the hype about Sophie is right.  She's great not only for teething, but all the time. Right now, Oliver loves chewing on her legs and lights up whenever she squeaks. From the time Oliver was three(ish) months old, he's played with Sophie about every day.

6. I picked this pack up bibs up from Ikea before Oliver was born. They have striped cotton on one side and the flip side is soft fleece. They are so light weight and aren't stiff like other bibs, these are our go-to's when teething gets drooly.

Teething is definitely something that varies from baby to baby.  I've heard of giving a baby a wet washcloth to chew on or some cold fruit.  We tried that last time, and Oliver wasn't too big into those, even though our parent-friends swear by it.  I've seen breastmilk popsicles, which I might give a whirl here soon.  What teething remedies worked for you and what can you not live without during the process?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

essentials for an exclusively pumping mom

Right now I'm transitioning to pumping only 3 times a day.  Having that much non-pumping time is absolutely liberating and I have no clue what to do with all the free time on my hands. (Ha!)  Even though I'm almost done with pumping, here's some essentials I couldn't have made it this far without.

one.  two.  three.  four.  five.  six.

1. This bottle brush is great. We'd always get some fatty discharge stuff in the bottles from the milk, and this brush caught everything. and the nipple bristle is a life-saver too!

2. Keep those nips moisturized. Put it on prior to pumping instead of lanolin, which made my pump parts all sticky.

3. Get extra membranes. You don't want to run out during your middle of the night pump. And replace them often (I do every month or so), the suction with a new one is amazing.

4. This is the pump I used when I only had a single manual pump. Even though it wasn't an ideal situation using this instead of a double electric as an exclusive pumper, I love this little guy. I still carry it in the diaper bag if I know we're going to be away from home for a long time. Also, bonus! If I have a really stubborn clog, I'll use this after finishing with my electric pump. For some reason, this single pump pops the clog right out for me.

5. I've got a love/hate relationship with this. I call it my second baby. I love this Medela pump because it has definitely saved Ollie's and my breastfeeding journey, but get tired of logging so many hours with this thing.

6. This works so well with all the intricate pump parts and bottles. We have a little corner set apart on our counter next to the sink for all the baby stuff, and it helps so all the bottle parts are in one spot and ready to go when we're putting stuff together. It also helps that this drying lawn is adorable. 

My goal for breastfeeding was initially 6 months. Since I've made it past that, I'm taking it month by month now (although sometimes day by day). I had mastitis a few weeks ago, and that made me nervous to wean, but very, very ready to be done breastfeeding. 

And here's a picture of our family and the little pumpling, Oliver, for those who just come for baby pictures. ;)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

26 things for 26 years

26 things about me on my 26th birthday:

1. I keep thinking about trying the Whole30 diet, but I keep chickening out. 
2. I loved Oliver's birth.  I wouldn't change a thing about it.  Seriously, if you're pregnant, see if there is a baby friendly hospital near you- it was the best experience ever.
3. My favorite memory from our wedding day was driving to the ceremony with Trevor... we were both in our wedding clothes, but just talking and goofing around.
4. My Nana taught me to knit when I was around 7 years old and I still love doing it.
5. Trevor was my first kiss and I laughed through it.
6. I love chocolate. Chocolate ice cream to be exact. Chocolate Moosetracks ice cream...
7...But I'm trying not to eat ice cream- Trev and I are trying to avoid processed sugar as much as we can this month... oh my word, it's so hard. 
8. Jillian Michaels Yoga is one of my favorite things ever.
9. I love my job.  I work as an assistant at my church and do many of their videos (yay for using that college degree!)
10. I am in love with babywearing... we have 3 baby carriers- a Solly baby wrap, a Happy baby wrap, and an Ergo. I keep looking at ring slings now... Trevor thinks I'm crazy.
11. I totally wear leggings as pants.
12. I used to Irish dance. I took classed for years and use to teach little kids dance too. 
13. I love bright colors. We painted almost every room on the main level of our house, and none of its white. 
14. I had a kidney stone four years ago. It was horrible. Since then, I try to be really good about drinking a lot of water every day (my doctor recommended a gallon a day). I try, but I'm not very good at drinking all that in a day.
15. Running scares me. I would love to run a race one day (even a small 5k), but I'm nervous I don't have the endurance for it. Maybe I should try a couch to 5k program- those things slowly amp up the intensity, right? 
16. "Pretty Little Liars" is my guilty Netflix pleasure. 
17. I went to Morocco through my college's cross cultural program... as a result, I love super sweet mint tea. And I rode a camel through the Sahara desert.
18. When we moved into our house, I was so organized. Every single box was labeled and color-coded to show what room it went to. I also had a spread sheet that showed the contents of each box. Easiest move ever. 
19. When Trevor and myself were coming back to Michigan after the semester in L.A., we drove straight through. It was not fun. We left at 9pm L.A. time and got to the mitten a day and a half later. Neither one of us slept well while the other drove and the father north we got, the icier the roads got. The experience is right up there with kidney stones and mastitis as the worst time ever.
20. Sometimes I'm still frustrated that nursing didn't work out for Ollie and I.
21. I feel weird if I don't have my nails painted... like I'm walking around half naked or something.
22. I have an etsy shop, Joo Bee Petals, that I started with my sister. I realized that after I while, you can only make so many scarves and hats to give to friends and family, so I might as well knit them up for something.
23. My favorite movie is Amelie.
24. I could eat burritos
25. My favorite pair of shoes is a pair of leopard print ballet flats from Target. I've bought 3 or 4 new pairs over the years as they've worn out.
26. There are so many things I do with Oliver that I promised I'd never do as a parent. Like using television as a distraction... PBS is our friend and I have no clue how I would keep Ollie occupied half the time I'm pumping without it. 

Have a lovely weekend- we're trying to soak up as much family time as we can right now. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

being an exclusively pumping mom: part two- mistakes i made

A few days ago, Oliver turned seven months old (where did the time go?). This also marks seven months of breastfeeding for us and six and a half months of exclusively pumping for this sweet baby.  Exclusively pumping has been hard and frustrating, but it's also been so rewarding (click here to read our story on how we got here).

In this post, I'll be talking about about mistakes I made when first beginning to pump and a few things I've learned along the way.

When I registered for Ollie's baby shower, I put down a single, manual pump.  I figured nursing would work for us and I'd only have a minimal amount of pumping to do, if ever.  So when I began pumping exclusively, a single manual pump was all I had.  It was horrible.  The pump worked great (I still use it from time to time in fact), it was just a nightmare spending 20 minutes per side, every 2-3 hours with a screaming baby next to you.  I remember stepping into the shower every night for a few weeks and just breaking down crying from stress and exhaustion.  I called my insurance company as soon as I could to figure out a pump they would cover.  I was positively skipping when I got my double electric pump.

After I began pumping, there were so many things I didn't know.  For instance, I didn't know you were suppose to pump every 2-3 hours around the clock for the first month or two.  My first week of pumping, I pumped every 4 or 5 hours.  My supply was still up from frequent nursing, so when I would pump I would get enough everyday to feed Oliver.  Because of that, I didn't think of pumping more frequently.  A week after beginning, my supply tanked.  Breastfeeding is based on "supply-demand", and the spread out pumpings weren't giving my body enough "demand". We supplemented with formula and I began pumping every two hours while I was awake and every three hours through the night.  It stunk.  My supply slowly crept back up.  I tried a few things rumored to help milk supply, but water and oatmeal were the only things that really helped.  When I went back to work, I dropped to pumping every 3 hours and didn't have too much of a problem. 

Things I've learned:
1. Drink water like it is your job.  Nothing else helped nudge my daily numbers upward except oatmeal.
2. Keep track of the ounces your produce per day and figure out your weekly averages.  Chances are, you're doing better than you think you are.
3. Buy/make/jimmy-rig a hands-free pumping bra and multitask like a boss. Seriously saved my sanity.
4. Hand express after pumping- I've gotten an addition ounce sometimes when I hand express following a pump.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

being an exclusively pumping mom: part one

As Oliver comes up on five months old, I'm coming up on four months of exclusively pumping.  It's been a frustrating journey getting to this point, but I'm so happy that Ollie is primarily breastfed with a few supplemental formula bottles every once in a while.

Before Oliver was born, breastfeeding was the thing I was most nervous about.  I would wake up from a vivid pregnancy dream about our newborn baby starving because my body wouldn't make enough milk.  Trevor laughed at these dreams and our teacher in birthing class told us that as long as you fed your baby when they were hungry, your body would take care of the rest.  I was still nervous, but tried to relax.

Immediately after Oliver was born, we did skin-to-skin and got a bunch of cuddles in.  Before we even left the labor and delivery room, my nurse looked at me and asked, "Do you want to try and nurse him right now?"  "Yes!" I replied.  I figured the more practice we could get, the better.  He latched right away.  Through the rest of our stay in the hospital, Ollie latched like a champ and was nicknamed "barracuda" by the nurses.  Even so, I was still nervous as we headed home. 

However easy and quick my pregnancy and labor had been, I felt it was the opposite for breastfeeding. Because of his "barracuda" latch and suck, breastfeeding became uncomfortable at best.  I was told that if feeding was painful, unlatch your baby and try again.  I remember looking at Trevor through tears one night and saying "I can only unlatch him so many times before I give up and just let him eat." It got frustrating very quickly to keep un-latching and re-latching when a hungry baby was screaming.  

Due to latch issues, I developed a cracked nipple.  I decided to pump milk on that side and nurse on the other.  I took the milk I pumped and put it in the freezer, hoping to build a bit of a stash for when I went back to work.  

One night, Oliver latched on, took a few sucks and then started screaming while he was still latched.  This had been happening for a few days.  I was nervous that he had some type of allergy or aversion to something I ate.  Trevor suggested giving him a bottle of the pumped milk since he probably wasn't eating too much while he was screaming, not to mention how stressed and disheartened I was feeling.  We put the bottle in Ollie's mouth and he sucked down the entire thing.  No screaming a few sucks in, no fussing and fighting.  He drank the entire bottle without a problem.  That night, I decided to switch over to exclusively pumping.  Since I had already been pumping on one side, it wasn't too hard of a transition.  There was definitely a learning curve to exclusively pumping (which I'll talk about later) and I miss the sweet cuddles that come along with nursing, but exclusively pumping saved our breastfeeding relationship.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

nursery tour

After two months of Oliver's room being done, I'm finally getting around to posting a nursery tour! This is my favorite space in our house and we definitely spend quite a bit of time in there. 

This bookshelf wall is my favorite part of the room.  We found picture frame shelves at Ikea and attached them to the wall.  I got the idea from dozens and dozens of pins on Pinterest doing the same thing.  I really like the shelves because they're deep enough that thick board books can easily fit on the shelves.  We'll wait and see how they hold up once Oliver begins to climb on things... 

The wooden sign was the last project I finished for the nursery.  The large, blank space above the shelves made the corner look unfinished.  When browsing through nursery ideas, I came across this saying and I fell in love with it.  I wanted to create an art piece with the quote that would look a little bit rustic.  Trevor cut the wood and assembled the sign and I made a stencil and painted everything.  It turned out so much better than I thought it would and is something I know we'll keep for a long time.

Oliver's closet is becoming more and more empty as he's quickly outgrowing his clothes.

Here's that herringbone wall!  Trevor still has sworn off painting for a while due to this project.  

It certainly seems like we spend a lot of time at the changing table.  On the left, we have a basket where we keep all of Ollie's clean cloth diapers (which we love! We thought it would be so much harder than it is, but it's working out so well!).  We keep lavender baby lotion nearby so it's handy when we're getting ready for bed at night.  

When I was registering for a baby registry, I heard to skip the wipe warmer- but I still put it down regardless.  I am so so happy we got one.  Oliver doesn't cry or fuss through diaper changes at all and I really think warm wipes have helped with that.  Anything to make those middle of the night diapers easier!  In the fox basket, there's a stash of disposable diapers, diaper rash cream, and odds and ends.

When I was first nursing, I felt like I was glued to this rocking chair.  A few days after Oliver was born, we stocked the drawers of the little cabinet with tubes of lanolin and granola bars (I am so much hungrier nursing than I was when I was pregnant!).  I went out and bought a clock for the room once I realized how hard it was to track feedings without knowing the time. 

When the nursery was first set up, the green chair wasn't in there.  Trevor came to hang out so often when I was nursing that we wanted someplace for him to be able to sit. 

Oliver's been sleeping in his crib since he was about a week old.  We had initially put him in a rocker in our room, but he grunts and makes so much noise in his sleep that we were awake all night.  He didn't have a problem adjusting to his crib and sleeps like a champ right now.  (Ps- don't worry, the crib bumpers are the mesh kind, so Oliver's not going to suffocate against them...)

We loved decorating and getting the nursery ready before Oliver came along and it's such a cozy space to spend time in now!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

crockpot chicken pot pie stew

I can't believe it's already February.  Oliver's smiling all the time, is just about too big for his 0-3 month size clothes and looks adorable with his bulky cloth diaper bum.  My maternity leave ended a few weeks ago and it's bittersweet to return to work.  I love being back in my office, but I keep looking at pictures of Oliver on my phone... 

Today I'm sharing one of our favorite recipes in our house, crockpot chicken pot pie stew.  Growing up, my mom would always have homemade chicken pot pie in her dinner rotation.  I loved the flaky crust and the way the whole house would smell while it was cooking.  When I moved out on my own, I was so excited to make the chicken pot pie myself.  The first time I made it, it took me hours to prep and cut all the vegetables, make the pie crust and assemble everything.  Even though the pot pie tasted great, I wanted to figure out an easier way to make it.  I decided to change my mom's pot pie recipe into a crockpot stew, and haven't looked back.  The vegetables are still tender, and dumplings take the place of the pie crust.

Chicken pot pie stew-

4 chicken breast
16 oz of chicken broth
1 can of cream of chicken soup
3 carrots, sliced
2 potatoes, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup of frozen peas
half an onion, diced
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
1 can of biscuits

Put chicken breast, broth, soup and vegetables in a crockpot. Sprinkle rosemary, thyme and salt and pepper over top. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. An hour before cooking is finished, open the can of biscuits. Cut each biscuit into four pieces and put all the pieces into the crockpot. Stir into stew and try to make sure they don't just float on the top. Recover and continue cooking for 60 minutes. Shred chicken. Serve and enjoy. 

 I wrote here about freezer meals have been an essential in our house for the past two months.  This is an easy meal to prepare ahead of time, put everything in a freezer bag, and then just dump it in the crockpot in the morning.  This is one of Trevor's favorite meals and it's so wonderful and comforting on chilly winter days.

Friday, January 9, 2015

one month essentials

I can't believe Oliver is already a month old.  Time has flown by.  This past month has been tiring and exciting and we wouldn't change anything about it.  Here are some things that have been absolute lifesavers for us...

1. I bought this wrap before Ollie was born, and I'm so happy that I had it ready to use right away after he was born.  The first time I put him in it, he had been fussing for a while and as soon as he was snuggled up inside, he fell right to sleep.  I love that I'm able to get things done, whether it's browsing Pinterest or doing dishes, while he's cuddled up close.

2. Oliver was nicknamed "barracuda" by the nurses while we were figuring out breastfeeding in the hospital.  By the second night of his cluster feeding, this stuff was my best friend.  Oh, and ps- use this the first couple times you shower.

3. Trevor grabbed these breast therapy packs a few days after we had gotten out of the hospital.  You can freeze them to use them as an ice pack or heat them in the microwave to use as a heating pad.  Again, these were my best friend.

4.  I would use this dry shampoo every once in a while before Oliver came along, but I use it more often now.  It's hard to figure out a time to shower with a newborn around, especially that first week or two when they don't really have any type of feeding/sleeping schedule.

5.  Even though we plan on cloth diapering (soon!), we don't use these for diapers.  Instead, these make the best burp cloths in the whole world.

6.  When we first started registering for our baby registry, I was totally against having a bassinet or rocker for the baby.  I wondered why we would need one if we already had a crib.  Our Little Lounger has been one of my favorite purchases in these early weeks.  It folds and is easy to move from room to room and was so helpful the first couple of nights when we couldn't bear him sleeping in a separate room.

7.  When we were first in the hospital with Oliver, Trevor and I tried to swaddle him dozens of times and he would always break out.  Even when the nurses swaddled him, Oliver proved he was a swaddle ninja.  Trevor and I gave up swaddling until we got tired of him waking up in the middle of the night from hitting himself in the face.  We got a free swaddle sleep sack from our hospital, and the first night we tried that, Oliver slept soundly for hours.  He can't break out of this swaddle and he will often sleep for four to five hour stretches at night.

A few other things:

Netflix, Hulu, Modern Family marathon on TV... something mindless to keep you entertained while baby fusses, feeds and barely sleeps.

Freezer meals- I made over 30 meals and filled our freezer (and part of my parents) before Oliver was born.  One month later and we still have half the meals in the freezer.

I'm going back to baby cuddles and sweet little almost smiles. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

four weeks old

Our little man was four weeks old yesterday and is coming up on a month old in a few days.  I can't believe how much this little nugget has totally changed our lives already and I seriously don't know what I did with all my time before he came along.

Since I've been pretty quiet on here lately, here are some pictures from the past four weeks...

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Happy new year!  I love New Years... it makes me think of a brand new notebook- blank, empty lines ready to be filled in.  I remember talking with Trevor at the beginning of 2014 about what our wishes and hopes were for the year.  I remember telling him I was hoping I'd be able to write down an OB appointment or two in my 2014 planner... now I'm able to write down a first birthday in my 2015 planner.  It's crazy how much life can change in a year.

I love having goals.  When I was in college, I was encouraged to include action steps and finish dates for goals I had.  That made it so much easier for me, because action steps gave my goals a plan and dates gave me a deadline.  My goals for this upcoming year are pretty typical (be more organized, work out consistently, read more...), but in addition to resolutions I have a word I want to remember through the year.  

My word for 2015 is "intentional".  I want to be intentional and purposeful in my interactions in this new year.  I've realized over the past few weeks of having a newborn at home how easy it is to zone out or wish for a nap when I'm with people instead of being a good listener and investing in the conversations.  I want to be intentional with my time with Trevor, Oliver and other people close to me. 

What are your goals for 2015 or a word you want to define the new year?