Babywearing: Cave Edition

25 Aug

I have an overwhelming fear of tight spaces where I can’t see the way out. I even get a little spazzy if I am wrapped too tightly in a blanket, so being 9 stories under the earth is terrifying to say the least. My husband wanted me to face my fears and go on a guided tour of Laurel Caverns, Pennsylvania’s largest cave. I wasn’t convinced that this was an acceptable idea until he showed me that Boy Scouts and little kids on school field trips go there. If a 6 year old can handle it, I should be able to put my big girl undies on and do it.

Like everything else we do, Noah was along for the ride. Literally. I strapped him on my back in my beloved Ergo for the journey.

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The only downside was another mom that was with her, probably, 16 year old daughter and she made a very loud comment that she can barely hear the tour guide. Noah was….laughing, not crying, laughing. Ohhh I’m so sorry you can’t hear the tour guide go off on some random tangent about having an appendicitis because my 10 month old is giggling at another little girl. Insert eye roll. It baffles me when mothers forget what it’s like to have a young child. Ok, rant over.

Laurel Caverns was pretty beautiful and Noah was mesmerized by all the lights. It was definitely one of our best baby wearing adventures.

What are some of the craziest places you have worn your babe?

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The Day It All Hit Me…

23 Aug

I had my first dose of reality this week. My baby is growing up, like really growing up. I’ve slowly started coming to terms with the fact that Noah’s birthday is right around the corner, whether I want it to or not. I’ve done a few things to plan for the party, but honestly I have been putting it off for months because I don’t want it to be true!

Birthday or not, Noah showed me that he is becoming a big boy this week. The last two months has been fast and furious in the milestone department. It was like Noah went from scooting to crawling to pulling up to cruising in about five minutes. He is getting so much more daring and even taking steps to the next piece of furniture.

With all the new independence, Noah is getting into EVERYTHING. We baby proofed, but things that seem harmless are now death traps. I put corner protectors on the coffee table in the living room, thinking that I had addressed the problem. Little did I know that the shelf on the bottom of the table was actually what I should be concerned about. That shelf is the perfect perch for tiny toes to scale the table while mommy goes into the kitchen, and oh so lovingly, makes lunch!

I literally had no idea he could stand on that shelf and reach the middle of the table. I also didn’t realize that I had put a pair of earrings there the night before. Why didn’t I know? Because there was a book and IPad on top of them. Apparently nothing stands in the way of Noah.

I leave the living room for 35.8 seconds, long enough to peel a clementine and Noah saw his window. Up he went and threw the IPad and book on the ground to find his shiny surprise. I ran into the living room and horror set in, I found ONE earring. It was like the old knock knock joke. What’s worse than finding a baby clutching two earrings? Clutching only one.

Of course he was smacking his lips so I instantly ‘fish hooked’ in his mouth and nada. I frantically searched the ground and also, nothing. Obviously he swallowed it. Panic mode! I call David, I call the pediatrician, and I contemplated calling 911. The ped told me to bring him in to get a x-ray of his belly.

 

A couple of hours later, we found out that there was no earring in there! And that he looked really cute in a hospital gown.

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I think every mother has that story, when they first realized their baby was becoming a toddler. While it makes me incredibly sad, I also look forward to this FUN (and mischievous) age. Each new milestone we met, I always thought, “This is the one that makes me feel like he is a big boy”. This incident really made me feel like he isn’t a baby anymore. At this rate, I’m going to be a basket case when he takes his first real unassisted steps.

I vow to never again laugh at my own mother when she tells the story of my brother eating rocks in the driveway. It isn’t as funny when you are that mom! But, like she said, this is just the beginning!

Sample Menus for Baby

21 Aug

Since my last post about starting our BLW journey, Noah has really become quite the chow hound! He still has no teeth, not even a little bit, but he has had a wide variety of foods. I mean he has basically eaten everything we have and then some. The only thing I have avoided is honey, cow’s milk, and shellfish (David is allergic to shellfish and the other two are not recommended before a year). The topic of what I feed Noah comes up often and many people are surprised to see a toothless little boy attacking lasagne. I had also endlessly googled food ideas for whatever age Noah was currently. So, I thought I would make up some sample menus of our normal everyday meals. These are intended for 8ish-12 months, before 8 months I was much more cautious and gave softer foods, that was the month that it all seemed to click. Now at 10 months I give all his liquids during the day in a sippy (except bottle before nap and bed), so if your babe is younger adjust accordingly to your schedule.

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Our normal lineup. The iced coffee is momma’s breakfast 🙂

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Breastmilk/formula Breastmilk/formula Breastmilk/formula
Oatmeal with prune puree Pita Spaghetti
Cheerios Hummus Meatballs
Melon

Breastmilk/formula Breastmilk/formula Breastmilk/formula
Yobaby yogurt Turkey & avocado quesdilla Chicken
Whole wheat toast Kiwi Green Beans
Potatoes

Breastmilk/formula Breastmilk/formula Breastmilk/formula
Blueberry pancakes Buttered noodles Eggplant & zucchini
Pears Cottage cheese Baked fish (tilapia, cod, etc)
Gerber yogurt melts Peaches

Missin the Mitten

16 Aug

Just a short little post about what has been on my mind lately….Michigan. We haven’t been home since March and it is really starting to take a toll on me. We are making the trip for Noah’s birthday in two months, thank goodness!

There are SO many things I miss about the mitten-
The lake
Meijer
Pronto pups
Cereal smelling air
Bike rides on the pier
Coast Guard and Tulip Time (although tourist traffic was super annoying when I actually lived there)
Being able to buy wine at a grocery store
The dunes
No crazy yinzer drivers
Bacon grilled cheese from Dee Lite
Being able to show someone where you live on the back of your hand
Downtown holland
The LAKE
When something is a mile away and it only takes you two minutes to get there
Captain Sundae
Bonfires
Lighthouses
The “normal” accent

I think I need to do some shopping at The Mitten State

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I literally miss everything. The distance I am from the lake has a direct link to my happiness level. As soon as I see those beloved Grand Haven road signs, I’m as happy as a clam.

No matter where we move, nothing will feel quite like home like Michigan. For now, I will have to settle for weekend visits until I can actually call it home again.

Link: http://themittenstate.com/Womens-Love-Michigan-T-Shirts.html

What’s Cookin, Good Lookin?

14 Aug

David recently bragged over social media that I had delicious dinners waiting for him every night and that I was just the best wife ever. Then, he attributed it all to Pinterest. I mean, it is partially true. When I went to college, I actually remember calling home to ask how to make Kraft mac and cheese. I could pretty much boil water and that’s it. After a couple of years of living on my own, I had a few dishes mastered. Then, I discovered Pinterest and I instantly became a chef. Unless it had more than 6 ingredients and 4 steps…ain’t nobody got time for that.

After the trial and error of pinning (every avid pinner knows the dreaded pin fail, I once had a whole crock pot full of mushy goo that I tired to pass as chicken and noodles), I have some favorites in my normal rotation of meals. Here is my list as of today:

Pesto Ranch Chicken- David said it tastes like a restaurant food. I served with mashed parmesan red potatoes and random veggie. http://pinterest.com/pin/124341639684888047/

Pulled Pork- I think David would marry this if I died and it is insanely easy. I always use chops instead of riblets. http://pinterest.com/pin/124341639684740134/

Cheese Potato Sausage Casserole- A winter night fave. http://pinterest.com/pin/124341639683473884/

Sour Cream Enchiladas- I use red sauce instead of green, why? Just because I like red sauce. http://pinterest.com/pin/124341639683560099/

Meatballs- I made these the first time for Super Bowl Sunday, they were perfect. http://pinterest.com/pin/124341639683989475/

Two Timin’ Pasta Bake- I LOVE Olive Garden’s five cheese baked ziti and this is an excellent copycat version. http://pinterest.com/pin/124341639683814334/

Italian Chicken- I have made this plenty of times and it has never worked adding raw potatoes, they always are undercooked. I just cook them first and toss them in. http://pinterest.com/pin/124341639683060770/

Baked ‘Fried’ Chicken- So so so yummy! http://pinterest.com/pin/124341639684655628/

This week on my meal planning menu I have two new Pinterest recipes to try so I hope they turn out well. I’m always on the hunt for new ideas! What are some of your favorite pins?

Note: none of these are my original pins

Weekend Recap

13 Aug

We had a very low-key typical railroader weekend. David was on call, so of course he had to go in Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. This was the first weekend that I had a true glimpse of what life will be like once he gets placed. It’s stressful and will definitely teach me how to roll with the punches much better than I do now.

We planned on meeting to shop for convertible car seats, but David got called out as soon as he pulled into the parking lot. Needless to say, Noah will have to wait another week to get his big boy seat.

In between call outs, we all went to Clever park in Robinson. Another Pittsburgh blog, Curious Little Kid, has great posts about cheap things to do around the city! It has been my go-to list for weekend ideas lately. Noah had a ton of fun crawling through the tunnels, sliding, and swinging!

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Noah decided to play in Daddy’s truck before going home.

On Sunday we had one of our favorite meals, brinner. Breakfast for dinner! Noah is a pancake addict. I served his with some yummy summer peaches in place of syrup.

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After that we just had some good ol’ quality family time, which really is my favorite weekend activity!

Curious Little Kid link: http://curiouslittlekid.com/healthy-living/places-to-swim-in-pittsburgh/
Be sure to check it out!

 

 

Nine Month Favorites

8 Aug

My little man will be 10 months old in 3 days so I have put together a list of all of our 9 month faves!

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source: babiesrus.com

Baby proofing kit. Noah really started getting into everything this month! I mean pulling cords out of the wall and pulling books down from the shelf. EVERYTHING.

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source: babiesrus.com

Auto-close baby gate. Again, getting into everything and we have stairs. If you buy both the gate and the baby proofing kit at Babies ‘R Us (must be these exact ones) , there’s a coupon book in the kit for 5 bucks off the gate. Win!

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source: babiesrus.com

Playskool elephant ball popper. This is by far his favorite toy right now. Noah is OBSESSED with pushing the button every time it turns off!

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source: babiesrus.com

Laugh and Learn puppy. He likes playing patty cake and hugging this cute puppy.

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source: babiesrus.com

Laugh and Learn table. This month he really mastered pulling up and standing to play. He’s a fan of the little computer and mouse part!

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source: babiesrus.com

Nosefrida. Noah got his first cold this month. I bought this little gem late in the game, but I wish I had this from the beginning! It came highly recommended by mommy friends and it’s awesome. I was amazed at how much snot I could get out with this thing.

His other obsession this month has unfortunately been the dog’s rawhide bone. Every time I turn my back he zooms over to the dog bed to try and suck on that disgusting thing!

What are some of your favorites for your little one?

Product links-

Baby proofing Kit: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12934508

Gate: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4322419

Elephant Ball Popper: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11514413

Laugh and Learn Puppy: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2265219

Laugh and Learn Table: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3109734&prodFindSrc=search

Nosefrida: http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=22402086

Family Vacation

7 Aug

Our first real family vacation was a big success! We planned two days at the parks (Universal Studios Orlando and Sea World) so that it wouldn’t seem overwhelming because I honestly had no idea how it would go. I pictured a constant meltdown from hotness and no napping. Noah surprised me and did amazingly well!

The resort we stayed at was very baby friendly. There was a playground, duck pond, and a baby wading pool. Noah loved his mornings of feeding the ducks and swinging.

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We discovered that Noah is a complete water baby. He had fun in the wading pool with his bucket, but he liked the big pool with us even more. We have a canopy baby float which he liked to spin in. At the end of the week he was confident enough to put his face in the water with David (Momma wasn’t brave enough with him to go under or anything). I think he is ready for swimming lessons!

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We put a pop up tent under that shaded area you can see in the picture above and it was perfect for napping or taking a break from the sun.

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Our first park day was Universal and honestly, we went so the adults could go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m the biggest HP nerd ever, I squealed and jumped 99% of the time. I feel like if you are the most excited person in WWoHP then you probably have an issue, but I totally was. I regret nothing.

Suessville at Universal was also super adorable! Noah went on his first carousel. He was more interested in the strap than the ride and I had a mini meltdown because I’m too short to hold onto him when the ride goes all the way up. My baby was slowly getting out of my reach and I freaked out! Thankfully David was right there and Noah didn’t even notice.

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(This was at the end of a hot and sweaty day…don’t judge)

Overall the day went really well, Noah napped in the Ergo on my back for a good 45 minutes while I swayed in front of one of those huge mist fans. It definitely prepared me for Sea World and made me confident that I can take Noah anywhere.

Once we got to Sea World we went straight to the One World show. Noah ate and passed out, the music from the show put him right to sleep! He was not so much in love with the seal show because the performer kept asking the audience to make more noise and everyone started screaming and my child started bawling hysterically. The biggest challenge there was the fact that all the exhibits are more like rides and no strollers are allowed. I wish that I had known that before we went because it was a hassle taking him in and out and leaving it at the entrance, then finding it later. I wore him in the Ergo almost all day and it made it 100% easier. Other than that the park was awesome, Noah loved looking at the animals and I loved the belugas!

Seeing him get excited about things made me even more excited about when he gets older and all of the fun vacations our future holds! Next up is a trip to Michigan for his big birthday bash!

My Exclusively Pumping Story

31 Jul

I’m back from vacation and working on posts about the trip and amusement parks but I had this one ready to go so I thought I would share while I’m finishing the others!

This one is a toughie, full of mommy guilt. Why? I have provided my child with nothing but breast milk for nine months, what is there to feel guilty about? Regardless every time a mommy whips out a boob and pops it in her baby’s mouth which then baby just happily goes to town, a little part of me dies. I so so wanted that mommy to be me. I didn’t look into or even consider another option because I knew breastfeeding was right for me. What no one can completely prepare you for is how hard it actually is, especially if babe isn’t going along with the plan. After I started my EP journey, I looked for resources and stories but had a hard time finding many. Hopefully is will help another mommy out.

I thought, “Well, Noah will just be hungry and I’ll put him right on and he will eat”. Not true. Noah was three weeks early and deemed ‘lazy’. A lazy eater and a lazy liver apparently because he developed pretty severe jaundice soon after birth (his bilirubin levels were in the 20s). We had to go back into the hospital because he refused to eat. I’m talking six hours where I tried to nurse him constantly and he refused to take more than a couple sucks. He wasn’t taking in enough to break up the bili and had to hang out under the lights for awhile. This was without a doubt the scariest time of my entire life. One minute I had a healthy brand new baby and the next he was in an isolette with eye patches on. The doctors wanted to minimize the time he spent out from under the lights and wanted to monitor the fluid he was taking in to avoid an IV so they suggested pumping to get him started. This is where is all started.

My milk had came in early and at just five days postpartum, I was so engorged that I produced over twenty ounces in one sitting. The lactation consultant had set me up with 1 and 2.7 oz Medela bottles (I was using the Medela Symphony they had for rent which I LOVED and wanted to keep forever) because she said there wouldn’t be much milk yet. Well she sat there and just kept switching out bottles, getting milk everywhere. She came back fully prepared with the big bottles!

The first time I fed him from a bottle and he chugged it right down, I swear it was a weight lifted off of me. I don’t think I have ever felt more panic than when he was refusing to eat. I left with a slightly less tan, healthier baby and a rental pump with all the fixins. Now I had this whole other thing to learn and balance. I had to somehow pump and feed Noah every 3 hours. Then I had to figure out where to pump, what to store it in, how long it stays fresh, am I supposed to freeze it, oh wait I can’t shake it, now I need a bottle warmer, I have to pump at what hour….2 am, what am I supposed to do when I leave the house?! Needless to say I had a lot to research.

Now, 9 months later I consider myself a seasoned pump expert. These are the tips I picked up along the way:

1. Rent a hospital grade double electric pump or buy the most expensive one in the store. It really does matter in terms of milk production. After I returned the Symphony I bought a Medela Pump In Style Advanced.

2. Go hands free. I actually never bought one of those pump bras, I wore cotton nursing bras from Target that held the horns in place nicely.

3. Pump while you feed babe in a Boppy or similar pillow. The older Noah is the harder it is to pump while he’s awake and not eating because he demands my attention.

4. Pump in front of the tv or wherever is the most comfortable. Nothing is worse than having to sit in a room alone with nothing to do because you have to pump.

5. Have an extra pump set. For about 3 months I had one set and would wash it after every use. AWFUL. After you are done pumping, stick it in a Tupperware container in the fridge and at the end of the day wash it in the dishwasher then switch out the next day. The “fridge trick” literally saved my life.

6. Set a good pump schedule. I stopped pumping around the clock when Noah started sleeping through the night at about 8 weeks. By that time I had established a good supply and was pumping at 8 am, 11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm and 8 pm. A few months later I cut out the 5 pm pump and a few more months later I cut out the 11 am pump (naturally you produce more in the morning so my 5 pm pump was always my ‘skimpy’ one). At six months I was down to the 3 pumps a day which is so much more manageable and I still was producing more than Noah ate. That’s the key with EPing, you have to keep at least 2 bottles ahead of when baby eats.

7. Buy a quick bottle warmer. So many times I have heard how useless they are so I initially didn’t buy one. About the second day of letting the bottle sit in hot water forever while Noah screamed, I had enough. Ain’t nobody got time for that. At the daycare I used to work at they kept a crock pot of hot water going, it worked well but really, if I’m going to buy a second crock pot for water why not buy a bottle warmer?

8. Set a freezing schedule as well. I would freeze one pump each day and quickly had a stash of over 300 oz. It’s a lifesaver when you are running low or those days you just don’t produce as much. I also used the Medela bags because they attach right to the pump. They are a pain to pour though, I flip over one of my horns and use it like a funnel.

9. Massage those boobs while pumping to get every little bit out!

10. Invest in multiple size bottles up front, 5 oz and 8 oz. I went without 8 oz bottles for a long time because I thought I could never fill them. Once I stopped pumping at night, I would get about 8-9 oz on each side in the morning.

11. When you go out and need to take a bottle, I would heat it up and actually use a beer koozie to keep it warm. I’m sure there are actual bottle insulators but that’s what I had, sorry Noah! When we were going out for a long time, I took it cold and would hunt down a glass of hot water (coffee places are the best).

12. Don’t beat yourself up over how much you pump and how ‘well’ you are doing. I’m super guilty of this but I wish I had taken this advice earlier.

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(Expressed) Breast milk guidelines:

Stays fresh 4-6 hours at room temp, a week in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.

You can reuse a bottle that has been heated, but only for the next feeding. Use it right away.

I have always mixed warm milk right into cold milk in the fridge to make full bottles. The La Leche League recently said this was fine.

Thawed milk must be used within 24 hrs and can not be reused. Thawed milk is different that fresh and some babies don’t like the taste.

Swirling only, I actually had no idea and shook my milk up the first couple weeks. Whoops. It breaks down the proteins.

All that being said, exclusively pumping is the more difficult route. If you breast feed, babe latches on wherever and if you formula feed you can mix a bottle on the go. Even though it has been a bumpy road, it has been SO worth it. I have been dedicated to my pump to provide Noah with the best nutrition possible and I am quite proud of my accomplishment. There were days I felt like giving up, especially when I had to opt out of things because I had to be home in time to pump, but I am glad I stuck to it. Hopefully I can help other EP mommas on their journeys!

Travel Tips

19 Jul

My little man is fairly well-traveled. We took the first road trip to Michigan when Noah was 2 1/2 months old and it was a piece of cake. Mostly because David drove through the night and baby, the pup, and I snoozed in the back seat. Then 2 months later David had a NS training in Georgia and we (meaning me) decided to go with him! So I packed up and took our 4 month old on a plane. Two reasons why this was bad timing:

1. Because it was two days after he had his well baby check and had shots

2. Because he was 4 months old. I’m not saying 4 months is too young to fly, take them at 3 1/2 months or 5 months but for the love of all things holy, stay home with your new 4 month old. The 4 month old sleep regression, the grumpiness, the clinginess, the growth spurt-ness!

That is a whole different story, we went anyway! He was actually fabulous on the plane. It was just all the in between that made me want to bang my head against the wall. After our “vacation” to Georgia, David had another training the following month and I decided to take Noah and the dog to Michigan alone. I drove through the night, per usual, and it wasn’t terrible. I was pretty much a travel pro at that point.

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Noah on the plane

So when the opportunity arose to go to Florida, I jumped on it. By opportunity I mean, I saw that my in-laws had a week saved up on their time share! I thought, “15 hour car ride? Totally doable!” For me of course because I will be sleeping peacefully in the back. Or jumping out of my seat watching Harry Potter the whole way down. Either or.

We leave tonight on our big trip so I will be sure to update when we get back but these are my travel tips to date!

1. If you haven’t guessed my number one tip, it is drive through the night! If you have to drive (which I prefer just because I like to not have to worry about what I pack), drive when the baby is sleeping. Easy peasy.

2. Try not to over pack, even though I usually fail at this. It’s a biggie when flying. The hardest part about our flight was being complete pack mules through the Atlanta airport. Of course we go to one of the biggest airports ever loaded down with so much stuff we could barely move. The image of David walking to our gate carrying the stroller, car seat, diaper bag and his laptop bag is forever burned into my brain.

3. Gate check stroller and car seat and use waterproof bags! We have the J.L. Childress stroller and car seat bags that we bought from Babies ‘R Us. You never know when your stuff is going to get wet

4. Skip the car seat base when flying. Just make sure to look up how to properly install the car seat without it before you go.

5. If you are traveling with a baby younger than 5 months, take a Rock ‘N Play. If you know me, I think babies should sleep in those magically devices until they try to throw themselves out. It was great when traveling. We took the cover off and put it in our luggage and covered the frame with a huge free plastic bag at the airport. It got slightly scuffed but it was one of my many Craigslist deals so no biggie. You do have to go to over-sized luggage for it when you get to your destination so be sure to know where it is.

6. Carry on your pump! Do not let it out of your sight. I took this and the diaper bag as my carry on and personal item.

7. If you are taking breast milk with you, tell security before you even start the whole production. They take care of you right away and you get to skip ahead.

8. Try to feed/nurse baby on take off and/or landing. I timed it so that Noah ate on the way down but our flight got delayed on the way home and he wasn’t hungry and he still fell right to sleep. I made sure to offer a paci just in case his ears hurt.

9. Wear your baby. I thought it would be better to keep Noah in the travel system but they make you fold up the stroller and put it through X-ray so, it’s easier to wear baby and load up that stroller with luggage.

10. Relax and have fun! Easier said than done right?!