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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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.

Mommy and Me Day: Christmas cookie edition 

My little one had her first day of Christmas vacation today for which I happen to be off of work. She kept telling me all day how excited she was to have a “mommy and me play day” and it made my heart sing. We played and talked and went to the grocery store together but the best part was baking cookies. We made my “reindeer poop cookies” as my family and friends have gleefully named them. They are a chocolate crinkle cookie with crushed up peppermints (only the ones made with real peppermint oil do the trick) on top while still hot and they do resemble their name sake. I so loved that she is old enough for us to put on our Christmas aprons, sing Christmas songs into our spatulas, and make some love-filled goodies. 

Yummy products of our Mommy and Lil Bit Day


This tradition is especially important to me this year, my first year without my Nana. Nana baked for the holidays like it was her God-given job. My family on that side is very large with even more extended family and friends flocking to my Nana’s small but ever-welcoming home and arms. For as long as I can remember walking into my Nana’s house in the weeks approaching Christmas meant having your olfactory overloaded with the smell of sweets and treats in the oven. Just as many stayed in old-school Tupperware on a small fold out table, in the back of the dining room as were given out to family, friends, co-workers or someone who just looked a bit peckish. And there was my tiny, bespectacled-Nana, all 5 ft-even of her, with one of an assortment of Christmas aprons on and immediately stopping whatever she was feverishly working on to give you a hug and a kiss. 

She’d ask about your day in front of your momand then conspiratorially whisper to question if you wanted to help bake–and lick the spatula with a glimmer in her eye after making you wash your hands and pull your hair back. I always thought of her as one of Santa’s helpers as a child as she moved about the kitchen in a magic way. I know Lil Bit will never get these cherished memories with her “Nanny”, but I can give her as close to an experience as possible with all 5’1″ of me, finding some holiday spirit inside and patience which I do not normally have for a special day of cookie-making. I hope we get to do it every year and I hope she looks as forward to it as I did with Nana. And yes, I gave her the spatula to lick. 😉

Nana and I circa pregnant with Maddie so 2011?