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?

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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.

Happy New Year/The 2014 Wrap Up

Every year has it’s ups and downs and while overall 2014 was a fairly good year I’m hoping for my family, and yours of course, that 2015 will be very good to everyone.

So far at the start of 2015 I have 5 pregnant friends, some with their first, others with their 3rd. I’ve already started knitting again to be able to send off baby blankets to the newbie parents and instead of donating some of Little Bit’s baby toys, I’ve set them aside in case some of them have girls.

Work seems to be going okay; I’ve always loved what I actually do but I’m not a fan of office politics and sometimes they make going into work difficult.

Little Bit is growing like a weed. Santa was exceptionally good to her and the Moose and I had to rearrange her room to fit the gigantic Barbie Dreamhouse in there. I think it’s hilarious that she’s also playing with my late1980s/early90s Barbie Camper and some actually Barbies (which are made of significantly higher quality than the newer ones and this bums me out as a mom). Also the old clothing is still in good shape and is also mainly cotton vs nylon hoochie disasters from Target.

The Moose is continuing his mission of fitness and wants 20 inch arms by July. He ended the new year with 18 1/2 inches. All looks the same to me….I am still on/off my fitness plan. I think the universe wishes me to remain short and fluffy as every time I get into a good routine I end up with bronchitis or injury some body part. I’m currently confined to yoga and upper body as I literally tore the medial aspect of my calf muscle playing tennis. Fan-damn-tastic right? Especially in the middle of the holidays where goodies are everywhere. I’ll get back on track though–my mother-in-law and sister-in-law want me to do a Disney Princess 1/2 marathon with them in 2016 so I’ll have to be able to jog/run part of the way to get to take pics with the characters.

Our family and my personal New Year’s Resolutions consist of the following: paying off some debts, saving money for our Eurotrip, and being happy!

I leave you with the pic of Little Bit picking oranges at her Aunt’s house…she ate nine, NINE! oranges on this particular day. 🙂

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Our first M ‘n’ M day

No not the candies….although that does sound pretty good at the moment…

Today was our first of what I hope to be many Mommy and “Lil Bit” days. The Empress here finally got the grande ok from all persons (including herself) to go from full-time “40 hours” (truly closer to 60 most weeks) down to “32 hours” (probably actual 40 hrs a week) thus allowing more time for things like the Lil Bit, grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, sanity……

My main issue when deciding to do this was really the perception of how things were supposed to be in my head versus what they really could and probably should be. I’m not loosing (that) much monetary or otherwise by dropping down to 4 days/week, but as today already has shown me, I’m gaining so much more.

My Lil Bit and I had planned since last Thursday to go to the Toddler Time gymnastics at our gym early this morning. She’s under-the-weather with the tail end of a cold but depending on how she was doing afterwards I’d take her to the Tot Drop (that she views as a treat) and go workout a bit myself. Well those plans came to a halt when the wicked witch lady at the front desk informed us, somewhat callously, that Toddler Time had been changed to Tuesdays and Thursdays….great, now I’ve built my darling up all weekend long and am now going to deal with her crushed hopes and dreams hurt feelings. To my surprise she was upset for all of two seconds and then excited to go play with the swarm of other children who just happened to be there when I needed them today.

The rest of the day was grocery shopping, cooking dinner and hanging with daddy….at a much less rushed pace. It’s hard to describe this almost “weight-lifted-off shoulders” sort of elation I’m enjoying at the moment (although some of that may be do to my full belly and half-a-beer warmness I’m enjoying post-consumption this evening.)

So tonight I cooked my famous (at our house anyway) version of Ina Garten’s engagement chicken, I always do variations of it but it’s a quick easy dinner with lots of leftovers that I use the pulled chicken from the bone for other recipes.

The Everyday Empress’ Roasted Chicken

1 whole roaster chicken (I prefer Springer Mountain brand) 4-5lbs

2 lemons

2 heads of garlic

kosher salt or coarse sea salt (approx 2 tsp)

1/2 to 1 cup low-no sodium chicken broth (White Wine and Herb this time)

1/2 cup white wine (if not using above White Wine and Herb)

2 tbs butter, melted and set aside to cool slightly

(optional small roaster potatoes, onion in chunks or carrots, we used rainbow carrots and sweet onion tonight from our local organic co-op)

  • Preheat oven to 425
  • Remove giblets if present from chicken, rinse chicken off and dry with paper towels, salt liberally inside and out
  • cut 1 lemons into 8ths and 1 head of garlic across the top leaving the cloves exposed, removing most of the husk either cut in half or place with 8ths of lemons into cavity until full. (You can tie the legs together but I don’t find the need)
  • Cut remaining lemon into quarters and peel remainder of garlic throw into large basting pan with chicken and veggies
  • place about half of chicken broth/white wine in the pan and if desired the veggies mentioned above
  • Coat chicken with butter using basting brush
  • Cook for about 1 hr then check internal temp with meat thermometer (if you don’t have one, get oneseriously!!! cooking meat to temperature leaves you with juicy, safe-to-eat meat)
  • If top of chicken browning too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil over it loosely to reflect heat
  • Once chicken to temperature pull it out to serving place to rest and cover with aluminum foil loosely
  • If remaining veggies not quite done, lower temp to 350’F and cook for a few more mins (5-10 usually does the trick)
  • Use drippings and veggies to pour on top of carved chicken and serve immediately
  • Remaining chicken is great to use in chicken salad, chicken tetrazzini or even to toss on top of a salad

Your Mama is not a Llama

So you know that point in your child’s life when they become a monkey? Mine has apparently reached this milestone. Not only is Lil Bit climbing all of the furniture but also all over me.

Llama

I know I’ve mentioned mother’s guilt before and how busy my schedule is but I think it may be beginning to get a little worse. This blog is my retreat from real life and journal to record Lil Bit’s moments and growth. I absolutely love my sweet girl. Until she was born I didn’t know it was possible to feel so incredibly proud and love someone so much who was able to spontaneously fill my heart with love and at the same time aggravate me to the point of pulling my hair out.

The llama above was in a petting portion of an animal safari thing we went to that Lil Bit loved. The whole weekend was one of the best we have had yet. Despite her driving me crazy at times, getting to watch her grow up and learning new things and experiencing things for the first time is truly my privilege. Christmas was one of those things this year.  Last year she was pretty new to this world but this year she toddled into the living room and her face lit up and her mouth formed that perfect little surprised “o” as she saw all of the presents Santa had left for her.  “Brrrmmmmmm” was her reaction to her pink princess quad that Santa left her as she climbed on and after we showed her where the button was she was off running her other presents over. It was both precious and hilarious as the poor cat ran away for dear life. There are so many things I can’t wait to do with her as she continues to grow. I hope I can continue to try to look on the positive and humorous side of things as this year moves forward. I think this is my new year’s resolution, to try to find the funny side of things this year.  I think last year’s was pretty well met as my simple resolution was to be happy, and I can surely say that snuggled up in the bed with the hubby and little one sleeping soundly THROUGH THE NIGHT in her crib, I ended my year happy and grateful.

What is your new year’s resolution?

This is not a sad post

I actually started working on this a couple of days ago before the tragedies today. So it is entirely unrelated and not devastating like the news right now.

So after the Sunday of Suck, little sister and I took Lil Bit shopping for the remainder of her Christmas (She’s only a year old so she didn’t much notice). It was such a great and busy day. Japanese food, Target and groceries where I spent $113 for $223 worth of food. And mind you, we try to feed Lil’ Bit mostly organic and whole foodstuff.  No unfortunately all that savings did not come from Whole Paycheck Whole Foods as I don’t have one near me (it’s an hr away).

I coupon, but I’m not one of those get-everything-for-free-rearrange-my-house-to-store-it kinda folks. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch an episode of the couponing show on TLC. One episode is enough though, unless you like that sort of thing. Anyway I can highly recommend this site if you are interested.

Life seems much better at the moment, except Elmo is creepy as hell sometimes. Just sayin’.