☠️ Inktober

So I have not been posting like I should. I started a new job and between it and the kiddos I have just not been making the effort I should. I have even programmed an alarm to go off weekly for a blog post and yet here I am for the first time in months and months. So I’m going to show off my very crappy to mediocre artwork as I try to participate in Inktober where you are encouraged to draw daily. I am still making my polymer clay jewelry as well in the evenings when I have time so I will try my best to stick to this.

We have also traveled recently and both Little Bit and Lilo were so well behaved. I’m feeling very Disney homesick atm so when the first prompt was poison my mind went straight to the bottle of “poison” which was actually extract of llama. lol.

Told you I was not talented but there you have it. I was not being modest lol.

I’ll write about our little four day trip soon. I hope. Maybe.

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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).

Tralee & County Kerry

Let me just say that I have been fortunate to be in some beautiful places in my life. I even live near a few, but little prepared me for the tug on my heart strings of County Kerry and the town of Tralee. It wasn’t just the sights—even the beautiful pictures can’t exactly do justice to it; the entire vibe and atmosphere just felt like home to me. There are very few places I feel connected to in the way I felt connected to County Kerry, I tend to be more connected with people rather than places; however I could have just stayed there and become an expat—at least until winter.

Tralee is a fairly small coastal city/town? with one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever visited. The playground was also just fantastic and I wish we had something half as nice near our home. We just so happened to be fortunate enough to be there when the 200th festival was going on and the day after we arrived so did festival stalls, music, and giant semi-scary puppets for the kids.

Down the road a bit further from the park is a museum which was definitely worth a visit. The adults enjoyed the history and scenes set up while the kids enjoyed the dress-up and mini-excavation pits set up inside the museum. Because of the festival, the museum was free I believe but we gave a donation and had the OPK card from Dublin.

We stayed at an absolutely BEAUTIFUL bed and breakfast, The Park Georgian Guest House, owned by a lovely and accommodating couple, Joe being the one who primarly took care of us. Breakfast was insanely delicious and freshly prepared every morning. The few mornings we left early Joe got up early to cook for us. He and my husband bonded over StarWars filming stories and Joe and his wife also own an inn in Dingle which is where a good bit of the crew and cast stayed when filming in Dingle and on Skellig Michael. We also went to Great Blasket Island which is deserving of its own post later and we could see Skellig Michael on the boat trip. Very steep. Not for small children. Joe had recommended for our leisure day (a.k.a. Explore town day/take it easy day) to try Mucross House.

It was worth it. The estate itself is so postcard-perfect but there were more than enough activities to keep my little one entertained who is happy so long as she can roam around outside. We did the “farm tour” and were VERY glad to have brought rain gear and to have worn comfortable hiking style shoes. Some of the pathway was fairly steep but as you can see, totally worth it…

The farm tour was lovely and we would have enjoyed it more had my sister and I not been separated from the Moose and Lil Bit. Apparently they had gone into the first little house which was off to the side of the road which we thought might be a place we weren’t supposed to go. Turns out we missed out on fresh, hand-churns butter and stone ground wheat bread hot out of the wood-burning stove. I also had no idea how large Irish Wolfhounds were, wow!
Overall the getting separated bit was one of the few stressful downsides to the whole trip. Rain in Ireland was far less torrential than what we were expecting as even when it was “heavy” per the locals it was mild compared to GA/FL summer downpours we are accustomed to here. (Sometimes I feel we need an arc)

We ended the beautiful day by driving partially around the Ring. It really is worth it folks although I’d hate to be on a tour bus and the drive seems somewhat treacherous because of them. We saw beautiful Irish Countryside, met some sheep (my Lil Bits happy place), loved the free-spirited Irish cows (they were running y’all, running–no wonder all of the beef there was to die for) and saw some ancient architecture along the way.
If I hadn’t already been in love that day sealed it for me. And we hadn’t even gotten to probably my favorite/soul-moving experience yet…

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.

Travelbug

We have been packed as I said but I’ve been trying to compile a nice amount of activities for the little one. We are also bringing snacks! I know I showed you my carry-on before but little ones is ready to go.

We got this porter series from REI on sale after not being able to find something we liked. 


It folds down nearly flat when there is nothing in it which is necessary for storage let me tell you. It also has multiple carry handles and backpack straps. Again I’m in love with these at this stage but I’ll let you know how it goes.

Our carry-on for her is the comet from them as well. Again I promise you Osprey had not given me anything! But we do love these.


The sticker/coloring books are where a laptop would actually go nicely. 

Her carry-on will include:

  • Snacks
  • 1 coloring book
  • 1 activity book+another sticker interactive book
  • Crayons/colored pencils
  • Nintendo DS we got used at our local gaming store + charger
  • iPad + charger
  • Highlights High Five magazine x 2
  • A few small books
  • A double-sided toy story book


I’ll add a few pics of the snacks when they are ready tomorrow. We are also bringing an empty water bottle for spill saftey.

Countdown

As I write this we are 8 days out from our very first trip “across the pond” I have had some serious education on travel packing and I hope it’s worth its salt. 
The Moose is the researcher and vacation is the one aspect of my life I try not to be a control freak over. I’m not sure if my hubby is that awesome at vacation planning or if I’m in that much of need of a vacation by the time I get one…

I’ll  tell you what we bought and will put the links in only if it ends up working well because no one is paying me anything or giving me anything for free so I don’t want to advertise for something if I don’t love it and find it worthwhile. Something I am totally in love with however that the Moose bought are these backpacks by Osprey and unless they disintegrate (they have a warranty if they do) I can only foresee us using them regularly for trips. 


I also packed a rather large and softish purse full of fun things and my makeup. I love that I can carry the backpack with the shoulder strap, the side handle or as a backpack. We did the whole packing cube thing and I’m glad because I like them for OCD and squeezing purposes if for nothing else.

 


I’m most nervous about flying with Lil Bit because she’s 4 and the international flight is overnight. If I can get her to sleep then I will sleep otherwise this mama bear will be exactly that by the time we land.

We are loading the tablets up with games and a couple of Disney movies that we love, taking a Nintendo and coloring books and as many snacks as they will let me bring. 

I’ll post more once I find out if any of this is worth it! Lol. 

Gym time…or not

Conversation with the Hubs today:

Me: I think I may have to rethink my gym days, Thursday’s are just so late and it’s too damn cold outside to drag Lil Bit out.

Moose: Well what day do you think would be better?

Me: A day where I don’t have to go to the gym and can just play tennis or get skinny watching TV.

Moose: Well I can help with the tennis part on Sunday when it warms up….