Teacher Appreciation Week

We don’t just celebrate teacher appreciation day, we do a whole week. I mean the two women who manage 21 5-6 year olds 5 days a week, all day, and still manage to teach them something—they deserve a whole week.

I consider myself a fairly successful adult and my penchant for learning (life-long) and for reading came from a beautiful, amazing tiny little woman who is now retired but with whom I still stay in touch. She was my first grade teacher and her name was “Miss” Judy. I still remember learning phonics lessons in her class. She made an impact. Many of the children in her class at that small little private school in South Carolina have gone on to become pretty successful adults. Even though I moved away after 2nd grade I still stay in touch with many of them and they are contributing to society in many ways. Let’s not pretend our time with Miss Judy didn’t play a roll in that.

My own baby sister (8 years age difference) is now a first grade teacher, at the school in the very classroom where she attended 1st grade. I could not be more proud. She is 3 years in to teaching and she already has former parents and students stopping her when we are shopping to hug her and thank her. She glows afterwards. She, my mom and I have spent many of our own dollars 💵 and lots of time giving her students special lessons and surprises each year. Having someone who I’m so close with as a teacher deepens my respect for them so much. Sweat, paper-cut blood, tears and a good chunk of her not-big-enough-in-my-opinion salary goes into teaching each of those 19-22 students she has for 8 hours 5 days a week 184days +\- each year so please know to all those teachers out there I appreciate you, I love you for caring, to the two currently teaching my little bit–thank you. Thank you.

Hug a teacher, buy her a bottle of wine or some chocolate or a gift card to get her toes done. She (or he) deserves it.

So here’s what we did–I made print outs on Silhouette studio for the bags (I will try to find a way to post the svg file if anybody is interested) the first day I made “Your the balm” and gave Burt’s Bees lip balm, today is donut day so I bought donuts and put them in pretty white boxes with the donut tags I found here.

Tomorrow I will be making or finding a “thank you for helping my bloom” and giving them each a rose ring that I make (I make jewelry with polymer clay, you can follow me on Instagram at ClayMagnolias or my Facebook page under the same name, I do not have Etsy yet but I do accept PayPal and ship). I have a Youtube channel with tutorials in the works you can find here.

Friday the last day we will be making a teacher supply “cake” and I will post an updated picture when it’s done!

What did you do for teachers appreciation? What impact have teachers made in your life? Your children’s?

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The rare cold day

We took Little Bit and Lilo on a hike at a state park on New Years Day. I️ haven’t always been an outdoors woman to say the least. I️ mean bugs, snakes (many poisonous around here) and the sun are not exactly in this pale girl’s friend list. I️ am trying to find it more enjoyable especially when the weather assists me in blocking my three aforementioned enemies as in Georgia “Swinter” or the extreme mixture of weather we have between late October and March. I️ mean, y’all, my idea of a great day is curled up in my pjs or yoga pants reading a good book and drinking some hot tea on a “cold” day.

We had decided if the Seattle-style weather subsided on New Year’s Day and the weather was above freezing we would #optoutside with the girls as my husband is very much an outdoor kind of guy and since Ireland I’ve found a bit more of an adventurous side to my soul.

With much difficulty we mustered enough layers to be somewhat warm in the just above freezing temps (it’s the South y’all, I️ didn’t even get to wear a sweater last “winter”) and threw some things in a daypack.

We were pretty much the only people in the park other than employees. I’ve already learned a lot about dressing warmly after this one trip lol. It was frigid. I didn’t have true mittens for the baby and vowed to crochet some as soon as possible. Especially, as I suspect, we will be doing this more often. We hiked down the pioneer trail until the temp started dropping and we decided to turn around. It was amazing but not entirely unsurprising how well Little Bit took to the hike. She found area where the wild boar in the area had been digging, saw hoof prints from deer and the boar along he way. The Moose was an Eagle Scout so had camped at the park before and took her to view the campsites which she thought was awesome. There are few benches along the trail and we stopped and let Little Bit assist Moose in using the campstove to boil water for one of those rehydrated meals to try. It was actually delicious for camping food and the warm slightly spicy meal was welcome to cut through the cold, almost wet chill.

We decided as we made our way back to the car to do this more often during the year as disconnecting from screen time and the more modern world felt good. The connection we made with the girls and with each other on this brief hike left me wanting more. The-not-so-outdoorsy girl in me finding very little room to complain about anything other than her desire for a warm bath.

So as we begin 2018 we start with true family time and have already done a little treasure hunting on Jekyll Island (see next post).

Pumping Schedule for the Working Momma Still Nursing at Home

So something I struggled with was finding someone who knew how to help me find a schedule that worked for me as a working mom who wanted to continue to primarily nurse but needed to pump for stash and sitter.

When I say stash I mean that precious treasure trove of liquid you build up to have extra in case of emergency.

I ended up piecing together some advice and trial and error to find what worked for me.

Lilo has not ever been a good sleeper and still, at 5.5 months, she is not. Couple this with reflux and apparently a cow milk protein intolerance through my breast milk and finding a schedule was extra difficult. I ended up feeding throughout the day, pumping IF I had time after a feed occasionally (I got very little out but figured the stimulation couldn’t hurt). And then after bedtime feed (7-9 pm). Then set my clock to pump at 2 am. She used to get up and eat at varying times throughout the night but now usually just once. I still always pump at two.

Now that my supply is somewhat regulated, although I still fight with that at times, I pump the following on weekdays when I work:

Last feed is usually around 5-6am. If I have time I will pump after for a few, otherwise I pump at 8:00 when I get to work before I start seeing patients for 15-20 mins.

I pump again between patients at 10-10:30 am for 20.

Pump at lunch 12:30 for 15-20.

Pump at 2:30 for 20.

Then I feed the baby again when I get home usually between 5:30-6pm. Then on demand until bedtime around 8-9. I pump after I bath/shower and then wake up at 2am to pump. I feed on demand throughout the night which can be none-2 times usually. I also feed on demand on weekends and days off.

I have not been able to space my pumps out at work or drop the middle of the night and I probably won’t be able to or else I won’t have enough for the sitter. It’s challenging but to me it’s worth it. Especially as she has issues already with dairy and soy, even organic has a whole different set of concerns.

How often do you pump? What schedule works for you?

A few of my favorite things—baby items

So for 6 months and under after two kids some of my favorite baby items include:

Sit Me Up chair—LP (little prisspot) is NOSEY yet clingy. She likes playing in this chair while I pumped, cleaned, folded laundry, took a break.

Knock-off or actual Hakka pump—I still like occasionally and this saves the boobie juice and my shirts/bras.

See my previous pump regarding my Spectra.

My BoB stroller. I’m a BoB-levier now and I should’ve just bought one with my Little Bit as we went through 3-4 strollers any darn way. It is a little bit heavy but it maneuvers like a dream. The almost 6 year old still fits in it if she gets exhausted (like when we were at Disney) and I can still wear the baby. We did but the cup holder thing with the pump and repair kit and it was worth it. The adjustable handles make it worth it as hubby and I are a foot and 1/3 height difference. Just so many little upgrades that are awesome and easy to use. They are expensive and hold their value well for buying used. We bought new because we had Amazon registry for baby and had the coupon at the end.

I had a c-section so baby bath and changing table did (and still) do get used by me. LP is 5 months and I still use her baby seat for the tub. It’s a simple one I got used for $5 though.

I also utilize a playmat a lot and we again bought a used one that could be washed and bleached and was totally worth it.

Medela steam bags for my pump/bottle parts

LP is just now getting big enough but I used lot these for Little Bit as well and saved them. Buggy/highchair cover—as a healthcare provider I worry a lot less about dirt germs than people germs even though I’ve seen people say they were a waste we used ours a lot. A lobster claw highchair—so easy to travel with and use!!! We take our girls with us most places that we go—how else do they know how to behave when they go somewhere new? And because I didn’t want the servers mean-glancing at us I used this and just washed it off in the sink, dried it off briefly and rolled it up into the diaper bag.

This is my favorite nursing cover because I’ve needed a nipple shield with both girls and the pockets are perfect, it folds up well and holds it color in the wash and is relatively comfortable. It’s hot and humid so we only use it when we have to. Mine is a pink peacock color which I can’t find anymore (6 years old)!

I realize a lot of these links are from Amazon but we are Prime members and there is such a thing as Amazon Priming while pumping. I may have ordered many of these things or at least put them on a list at 2-4am while trying to stay awake feeding/pumping.

Things I feel like you should save your money on—

  • bottle warmers
  • sterilizers
  • fancy swings (old school works fine)
  • bassinet (they outgrown them soon, buy simple)
  • baby shoes (we do socks)
  • Baby wipe warmers
  • Bath thermometers (God gave you the best—your hand)
  • Baby pulse ox/heart rate monitors (owlet), they are inaccurate, give too many false alarms and the American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends AGAINST them and they have not proven to reduce risk of SIDS so save yo’ money.
  • Baby specific blenders/baby food makers unless you don’t have a blender, food processor or magic bullet/nutribullet already. Those work just fine!!

What have your favorite baby items been so far? What do you feel like was a waste of space/money?

Back to Work: Post-Baby Advice

We were so fortunate to welcome a second little girl into our lives in early May. We were also fortunate enough that despite her spending her first week in the NICU she is a very healthy girl. Everything happens for a reason and it has made me a better provider as I now have more appreciation for parents who’ve been there (generally for much much longer than we were) and for exclusively pumping mommas.

While I’m not a first time mom, this is the first (and last) time returning to work post-baby in my current capacity. I’ve learned so much through both experience and from other moms with both children that I’d like to share in one place what has worked for me in hopes that some other working mom (or working stay at home momma!) may find it useful.

Routine—hahaha! That’s a joke right? Especially if you’re breastfeeding. You can get into a very loose routine but don’t fool yourself in to thinking baby is going to get into a set schedule for the first 3-4 months. Fellow type A mommas—this is ok, let it go or you’ll make yourself miserable by constantly failing to live up to impossible expectations. I pump around the same time everyday regardless of while I was on maternity leave or now that I’m back to work. I pump roughly 2xday at home. If you’re exclusively pumping don’t expect to hit that number for a long time. Just go with the flow, and for goodness sakes try not to go back at 6 weeks if you can manage longer. That’s really soon.

That being said, focus all that energy on trying to prep for the next day/challenge such as organizing your diapers, wipes, changing stations as well as your nest. Yes I used the word nest and I’m not referring to the whole house. The Moose coined this term with the first child in our house and he was referring to my seat that became my breastfeeding and pumping station. With the first I was less organized than with this baby. This time I set up a cheap dollar store basket for all of my pump parts and creams, etc on the end table near my nest.

I started my first week back to work as a “one-day” week where I worked Friday only then the next week went back to my 4 day schedule Tues-Friday. This let me “test the water” so to say on how much breastmilk I needed to leave for the sitter, anything I may need to bring to work the next week, and it was better for me emotionally. I had taken 10 weeks off but it still felt too soon and we certainly weren’t getting much sleep at night (night-time nursing is good for your supply however…).

I have my own office at work so I am fortunate to leave my station set up and ready to rock. Otherwise I would have probably got everything set up and ready sooner.

My work pump station:

I had used a Medela with Little Bit but tried a spectra that I got brand new from Amazon for like $112 or something along those lines. Oh My God! Saved the nips. I didn’t know how much the Medela was killing me! Lol.

I bought a new hands free bra that made it a little faster for me. Previously I just cut holes in Lycra sports bars (cheap from target) and those still work great for home. This portable drying rack that has been good for travel (Disney World trip!). I also find these helpful as we use tommy tippee bottles and I can pump into those with my Medela phlanges and can use those with the spectra with this.

Going back to work has not been easy of course but hopefully I’m learning how to make it work better and will be able to help other mommas as well as show my two little ladies how to rock it as a working mom.

I’ll post more as we go through this journey. I’ll also discuss a little about what I’ve learned about exclusively pumping (when I had to the first weeks) and what I do to save milk for my munchkin.

Update: bought a second spectraand you can check the hours using the above if you decide to as well. I paid $30 for a pump with 3 hours on it. 3 hours ladies. I’m not even an exclusive pumper but I had already put 91 hrs on the Spectra that I bought when she was almost 2 months old.

Cold Icky Day, Warm Full Belly

Cold weather has finally (and briefly) moved into the southeast. Moose is stuck at work but Lil Bit and I are busy working on things at home. Including a yummy and hearty soup that has become a family favorite. I was originally inspired by a recipe you can find here. However, none of us are fans of celery and Lil Bit has a tomato allergy so this Mommy had to creatively find a way to give the soup some flavor and acidity. You can absolutely pre-prep this and throw it in the freezer (minus broth) for a busy night and cook in either the slow cooker for about 4-6 hours or you can also cook in a Dutch oven the way I do for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. The last 5-10 mins I cook I take the lid off and let it reduce just a little.

Mushroom Barley Stew (E2 Tomato-free version)

8oz Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced

2 carrots sliced (I like rainbow carrots)

1 onion, diced

1 cup uncooked pearl barley

2 cloves of garlic, minced (I am having a strange pregnancy aversion to garlic at this time so I just used about 1 tsp garlic powder)

1/2 to 1 tablespoon of salt (I tend to like it less salty because I use unsalted beef broth that still has some sodium content)

1 tsp of dried basil

1 tsp of preferably fresh black pepper

1-2 tablespoons Marsala or similar wine

6 cups of unsalted Beef Broth (if needing tomato-free for allergy PLEASE watch the label as many, many brands include tomato. I use Pacific organic brand or Field Day organic brand as they have so far been safe for us)
This is a super hearty stew and probably makes between 6-8 servings depending on size/appetite. Moose is a big guy with a big appetite so closer to 6 servings for us.

I hope you my spin on this stew. 

Gender Reveal

IMG_5798.JPGMy little sister hosted an AWESOME gender reveal for Moose, Lil Bit and I. She is not always the best secret keeper but she was the only one who knew what the baby was and did a great job. We had about 30-35 people over at my parents house where she hosted and we did a live Facebook stream for my family out of town.  As it was just a few days before Christmas she did a Christmas themed party with red and green and gingerbread men.

We had a hot chocolate bar with cups, an Ugly sweater aspect that we voted on with the cutest ugly sweater ornaments and a sweater voting for boy/girl. Boys were 16 to girls 11. Tons of Christmas treats as well as hot food for guests.

My father-in-law has a side photography business including a photo booth that we had a ton of fun with!

My sister tricked us initially by having individual wrapped ornaments and having everyone open them with the stipulation that if you get gold, sorry you don’t have the winner, if you have red its a girl, green its a boy. Well they were ALL gold. Then she had a sack of balloons for us to open. They were also all gold.

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Opening balloons….wait a minute…

So we were taken outside for the real deal and we were literally in the dark about what was going to happen. She and her best friend had decided to be master engineers and create a light display for which Josh and I had the plugs

On the count of three we turned on the sign that said:

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Another sweet girl for our home!

We are very excited to welcome another girl to our family. I will have to come up with a good nickname to call her. Hmm…

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas.