Three 31


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Damn if you do. Damn if you don’t. #ExclusivePumping #EPing

In the last three days, I’ve gotten very little sleep thanks to an infant-toddler-Mini-Man-child who has taken our seemingly perfect, well-orchestrated, been working for 11 months schedule and tossed it into the garbage. I’m tired. I’m confused. I’m a little frustrated and a lot dumbfounded as to why Kamden’s schedule (specifically at night and in the wee hours of the morning) has gone to hell in a hand basket. To add insult to injury, as I’m scrolling through social media feeds at 4am, I read this gem of so-called science telling me I’m doing more harm than good by exclusively pumping instead of feeding my child directly from the breast. Awesome. Fan-freaking-tastic. Go ahead and erase my name off that Mom of The Year award because, obviously, I am harming my child by giving him pumped breast milk in a bottle.

Damn if you breastfeed. Damn if you formula feed. And damn if you pump too. I wish these “experts” would make up their damn minds!

So breast is best, I get it. I really do. When I discovered I was pregnant, something ‘just clicked’ and I knew I would breastfeed, or at least try. My initial goal was to breastfeed for a couple of months, but once I made it to six months, I pushed my goal out to one year. We are one month away from meeting that milestone. I was insistent upon skin-to-skin contact after Kamden’s birth to initiate proper feeding, latching, and milk production. My prayers were answered because Kamden began sucking, and inhaling that oh-so-precious colostrum, just moments after he was born. Our breastfeeding journey had a beautiful beginning. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I have a very abundant supply, a forceful let down,  and the desire for others to feed and bond with my child other than myself. If that makes me a selfish, how-dare-you mom, well, so be it. As much as I love my kid, I want others to have the opportunity to feed him – he needs it, I need it, and they need it too. Kamden’s always been an eager eater, consuming six ounces every few hours since he was two months old, but even my supply is too much for him to handle. In one pumping session, I can collect up to 18 ounces in less than a half-hour. As far as bonding with him, we’re pretty close when I’m feeding pumped breast milk with a bottle. There were a few times, when he was younger, smaller, and less mobile, that I would prop him on a pillow beside me and pump simultaneously. We’re not skin-to-skin like we would be if I were breastfeeding, but we’re still up in each other’s business. Last night, for example, while feeding him before bed, Kamden rubbed my arm, held my thumb, made eye contact, and even stuck his finger in my nose. If that’s not bonding, I don’t know what is.

Imitation is the highest form of flattery and as far as science and medicine advances, a mother’s breast milk will never be duplicated and manufactured in a can of formula. I honestly don’t give two shucks if you breastfeed, bottle feed, formula feed, or a mix thereof. Your baby, your choice. I’m choosing to feed my child my breast milk because it is as God intended, readily available and mass produced by my body, and considerably cheaper than formula. But there are 2,500 other reasons I choose to pump: the premature and sick babies in NICU departments across the country that are drinking my milk. To date, I’ve donated more than 2,500 ounces (that’s almost 20 GALLONS) to the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas. If you consider that most NICU babies consume about one ounce of milk per feeding, I’ve provided 2,500 high-fat, high-protein, high-carb, no dairy, natural meals. Now, I don’t know exactly how many babies have consumed my milk at which hospital or NICU department, but I am confident that those precious babies (and their families) are grateful that I (and other donor moms) am pumping. Sure, I could have worked more extensively with a lactation consultant or pumped less frequently to “train” my body to produce less milk. I could have worked with Kamden to find a more comfortable position for him to nurse and not get choked by my aggressive let down. I could have chosen to formula feed. In other words, I don’t have to pump. I don’t have to disrobe multiple times day and night and put on my hands-free pumping bra and strap myself to a Medela pump, but I do. Kamden’s grateful that I pump and those NICU babies are thankful I pump too.

So I have just two words for the so called “experts” who equate formula to pumped breast milk: screw you. I’d use another verb but my 86-year-old grandmother reads this blog. Screw you, for assuming I’m “jumping on the EPing bandwagon” for grins and giggles. Screw you, for implying my efforts to provide my baby the best my body has to offer is in vain. Screw you, for implying my nightly washing of bottles and pump parts is not clean enough and my milk is dirty, or worse, contaminated. I’d be willing to go toe to toe with anyone who argues my son is less healthy than breastfed babies. In fact, he is 11 months old and has never had a stomach bug, upper respiratory infection, or ear infection. Admittedly, I do not sterilize anything and everything he comes into contact because, well, I’m just now that concerned or paranoid about a little dirt. I see it as immune building. Screw you, for implying bottle-fed babies eat too much compared to their breastfed counterparts. If that were true, according to my regular pumping output, Kamden would consume 12-18 ounces per session instead of the six he gets from a bottle. Hey Jackwagon, in case you’re as illiterate in mathematics as you are lactation, that’s two or three times as much per feeding! Screw you, also, for indicating in your evidence-less research paper that breast milk from a bottle is not equivalent to milk directly from the breast. You insinuate this ridiculous statement based on nutrition, comfort, closeness, soothing, and security. As mentioned above, I’m pretty sure Kamden is in my arms and lap, or the arms and lap of another loved one, during his feedings. He’s not eating from a drip bottle found in hamster cages. And, finally, screw you, lactation experts, for implying that I, an exclusive pumper, am not enjoying the full range of benefits as a mother who breastfeeds her baby. While my progress might be slower than others, I am continuing to lose weight and I am  NOT suffering post-partum depression. Choosing to pump exclusively was not a decision I made lightly or on a whim or for mere convenience. I’m fortunate to stay home and incorporate pumping into my daily (and nightly) routine. While I am not bothered or inconvenienced by pumping, it is most certainly an integral part of my life and my family’s lives as well. I consider it one of my many ‘jobs’ to complete each day and I hold myself responsible to feed my son and collect as much milk as possible for the milk bank and NICU babies.

My success as a mother is not defined by whether I feed my child at he breast, pumped breast milk by bottle, or formula. My child is healthy, happy, content, and loved more than he will ever know or words could describe. As for those lactation “experts” writing ridiculous articles, they can go suck a lemon.


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Finish This #46

IT’S WEEK 46 OF FINISH THIS … If this is your first time here, welcome. If you’re a repeat participant, thanks for playing along and joining the shenanigans. Your co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31) and the instructions are simple: answer the prompts on your blog and add the post to the link up. Next week, we’ll do it all over again with a new set of prompts (located at the bottom of this post). Let’s get started!

FINISHTHIS.linkupbutton

The *YEAR IN REVIEW* link up is fast approaching, make sure you’ve completed the questionnaire by December 31 and participate!
If you are a blogger then you absolutely MUST complete the *YEAR IN REVIEW* questionnaire. If you’ve never completed a similar questionnaire, click HERE. This special event will take place during WEEK 52 of the Finish This link-up, beginning Wednesday, December 31. Please share this with other bloggers. In case you’re easily distracted or forgetful, I’ll periodically remind you of this awesome event!

1. If I could fly to any destination tomorrow, I’d go to
domestic // I’d go to Kentucky for an extra long Thanksgiving holiday. Or to New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I’ve always thought spending the holidays (Thanksgiving or Christmas) in NYC would be mucho-fun.

international // I’m not picky. I really want to return to Jerusalem. Now that I’ve been and I’ve studied more of the sites and places I saw last year, I want to go back with a fresh, better perspective. I also think I missed a lot of details because I was so overwhelmed by the WOW that is The Holy Land … and taking 3,000 pictures! I also want to see the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican. One of these days I’m going to enjoy one of those cabanas in Bora Bora that hover above the ocean too. Don’t mind me, I’ll just be floating with the fishies.

2. My best advice for travelling is
allow extra time in the airport or on the roads. Husband makes major fun of me because I want to get to the airport at least two hours prior to our departure time and I’m a nervous wreck if we’re cutting it too close. I hate – LOATHE – being late, and I sure as hell don’t want to miss a flight because that’s wasted money!!!!! Now that I’m a Mom and have travelled with Kamden, I think extra time and patience are even more important. Even though Kamden was a rock star on his first plane ride, and slept the majority of all the flights, I had plenty of patience packed.

3. I like to travel because
I love re-visiting places I’ve enjoyed in the past and new places I’ve never been. The sense of adventure is exciting to me, and not always having a specified schedule is nice too. If I want some time to rest and relax, I can. Or, if I want to explore and seek adventures, I can do that too. Wherever I go, I always eat a restaurants the locals recommend – I never eat at chain establishments. BORING! I wish Husband enjoyed travelling but he’s a homebody. (sigh.)

Prompts for WEEK 47– November 26
My favorite Thanksgiving tradition
My most memorable Thanksgiving was
My favorite Thanksgiving food or dish
I’m so thankful


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More Fun at The Little Gym

Once a week, Kamden and I visit The Little Gym for an hour-long class. We’ve been attending these classes since June, when Kamden was six months old. I have seen major progress in his social and physical development and, if I’m being completely transparent, it’s been nice (socially) for Mommy to be with other adults too!

Now that Kamden is mobile – crawling, standing, and walking with assistance – he is enjoying The Little Gym more than ever. As soon as we arrive, he’s anxious to get out of the car seat so he can explore. The activity room is lined with floor mats, balance beams, parallel bars, and tumble mats. Kamden loves standing and walking between the parallel bars. He’s also crawling on, over, and between tumble mats and using the padded steps to stand on his own.

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Kamden.TLGcollage1

This week, Miss Karen, Kamden’s  teacher, arranged one of the wider balance beams between a set of parallel bars. In addition to walking along the beam, Kamden and his classmates (who are called BUGS) did forward rolls with their parents’ assistance. Once we were done with that activity, Kamden stayed in the area to further explore the beam and bars. At one point, he wedged himself between the two and looked up at me like it was my fault that he was stuck … AS IF!!!!

Kamden.TLGcollage2

Kamden is 100% boy. He’s so inquisitive and loves to explore. Every time we enter the gym, he makes a mad dash to the bright red and yellow straps and floor anchors supporting the uneven bars. It’s quite the chore to keep him on the big red mat for group singing, floor exercises, and Mommy-and-Me time because he wants to be on his own exploring and investigating!

Kamden.TLGcollage3

Kamden.LittleGym.111114-43

“Hey Mom, can you not bother me while I try to figure out this apparatus?”

At the end of each class, before we sing goodbye songs, the BUGS sit on the big red mat while Miss Karen blows bubbles. It’s the cutest thing. Kamden’s infatuation with bubbles melts my heart. He’s so intrigued by them!

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I’m so glad this boy is mine. :)


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Finish This #45

IT’S WEEK 45 OF FINISH THIS … If this is your first time here, welcome. If you’re a repeat participant, thanks for playing along and joining the shenanigans. Your co-hosts are LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31) and the instructions are simple: answer the prompts on your blog and add the post to the link up. Next week, we’ll do it all over again with a new set of prompts (located at the bottom of this post). Let’s get started!

FINISHTHIS.linkupbutton

Have you heard about the *YEAR IN REVIEW* questionnaire and link up happening in December?
If you are a blogger then you absolutely MUST complete the *YEAR IN REVIEW* questionnaire. If you’ve never completed a similar questionnaire, click HERE. This special event will take place during WEEK 52 of the Finish This link-up, beginning Wednesday, December 31. Please share this with other bloggers. In case you’re easily distracted or forgetful, I’ll periodically remind you of this awesome event!

1. The best physical feature on my body is
I’d say it’s my smile but Kamden and the countless number of NICU babies eating my breast milk would say my boobs.

2. The best physical feature on my spouse’s body is
Husband’s hands. He’s got really big hands, long fingers, clean and trimmed nails (most of the time), and no calluses. His feet are the same way, except when his toenails scratch me when we’re in bed and I jump up immediately to grab the clippers. Ain’t nobody got time for shenanigans like toenails touching you while trying to sleep. Pffft.

Prompts for WEEK 46– November 19
If I could fly to any destination tomorrow, I’d go to
My best advice for travelling is
I (like / dislike) to travel because


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10 Things I’m Loving

I’m going to references this list of NON TOY gifts for kids for many, many years to come.

Attention Hunters: this is a monster buck! (Plus, the shooter and I graduated high school together!)

I have all the supplies needed to make this DIY growth chart, except I plan to use stencils and paint the numbers instead of using self-adhesive metal ones. I must get this done before Kamden’s birthday next month. Eeek!

Kamden has two of the top 10 toys of 2014: Sophie the Giraffe and the sit-to-stand learning walker. They’re both worth their weight in gold.

A great tutorial on taking really beautiful “backlit” photographs.

Dear Santa, I want this camera and this lens. Please and thank you.

The ultimate lists of gifts for every person on your shopping list, including DIYers, photographers, bakers, artists, bloggers, and more!

Do you have a vision statement? Me either.

Psychological warfare in the supermarket.

Because whiskey (bourbon) makes everything better, including pork chops.


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The Ultimate List of Non-Toy Gifts for Children

TheUltimateListofNonToyGiftsforChildren

With Christmas just six weeks away and family members asking about Kamden’s wishes, this list of *NON TOY* gifts for kids couldn’t have come at a better time. Plus, this list can be used for many years as there are ideas for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and even teenagers. There is truly something for every child at any age and any price point.

Technically speaking, this Christmas isn’t Kamden’s first. Last Christmas (2013), was overwhelming and crazy. Kamden was less than a week old and we spent Christmas Eve day in the pediatrician’s office and hospital waiting for his bilirubin (jaundice) tests results. It wasn’t exactly how I envisioned our son’s first Christmas. So, I’m declaring that Kamden will celebrate his first birthday and first Christmas in 2014. Besides, it makes much more sense this way and is easier to remember!

Kamden is (and will always be) an only child. I want to give him the world, but that doesn’t mean materialistic things. Husband and I aren’t anti-toy, quite the contrary actually. We want Kamden to have toys AND experiences that are educational and meaningful. More importantly, we want him to know the real reason we celebrate Christmas. We want Kamden to know Jesus as his Savior and have a personal relationship with God, his creator. We want him to realize Jesus is the best gift of all. We also want Kamden to be generous and have a kind heart. Scripture tells us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” When Kamden is older, we’ll adopt meaningful gifting practices. For example, before Kamden receives a new toy, he’ll pick some to donate or give to a child or family in need. Eventually, he can create his own NWWR list: something he needs, something he wants, something to wear, and something to read. It’s practical and manageable … and our house won’t become inundated with toys!

When buying gifts for children, consider their age, level of maturity, interests and hobbies. For example, at one year, Kamden is more suitable for alphabet letters and numbers rather than tickets to a drive-in movie. To help select gifts for your loved ones, consider these *NON TOY* options:

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Children’s magazine (i.e. Highlights, Ladybug, or National Geographic Kids)
Imaginative kits (i.e. Citrus Lane, Little Passports, SparkBox, or Kiwi Crate)
Book-of-the-Month club (i.e. GiftLit)

SPECIAL EXPERIENCES

Semester at The Little Gym or Kinder-Music
Membership to the zoo, amusement park, or local waterpark
Take child to the public library for stories or to check-out books
Tour the local fire station
Photography lesson with a professional or mentor
Portrait session in favorite costume, sports jersey, or with group of friends
One day pass to an aquarium, museum, festival, or county fair
Paint-your-own pottery or canvas class
Tickets to a concert, play, or sporting event
Cooking class
King/Queen for the day
Design a yearly calendar using custom artwork or photos
Bake and decorate your own birthday cake
Build the ultimate ice cream sundae
Watch a movie at the drive-in theater
Camp in the backyard
Carriage ride in the park
Ride a train

LEARNING AIDES

Puzzles
Books
Flash cards (alphabet, animals, colors, etc.)
Easel, a roll of butcher paper, paint brushes and water-based paint
Construction sets or building blocks
Animal or alphabet magnets
Train set
Activity cubes or boards
Foam letters and numbers
Bird house, bug catcher, or gardening tools
Crayons, markers, and coloring books
Point-and-shoot digital camera
Drinking cups
Personalized plate, bowl, and utensils
Powered toothbrush

PLAY

Kamden.RadioFlyer.XS

Tricycle or Bicycle (Kamden loves his Radio Flyer 4-in-1 trike)
Busy board with knobs, drawer pulls, locks, light switches, door stops, etc.
Bath crayons or water paint
Sports equipment
Sidewalk chalk
Inter-locking foam floor mats
Inflatable swimming pool
Inflatable ball pit
Bubbles, wands, or blowers
Sand or water table, buckets and shovels
Cooking utensils

 

ballpit{ source }

CLOTHING & WEARABLES

Uniform for school or extra-curricular activity
Sports jersey
Pajama set
Superhero cape or costume
Personalized backpack or luggage
Personalized chef’s coat and hat

FURNITURE & DECOR

chair{ source }

Growth chart
Outdoor swing or climbing gym
Picnic table or junior table and chairs
Personalized lounge chair
Book case or shelves
Toy chest
Sleeping bag with blanket and pillow
Framed portraits or artwork
Wood letters for an alphabet wall

 

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THE GIFT OF SERVICE

Monetary donation to favorite charity
Deliver canned goods to the local food pantry
Visit a retirement community or nursing home
Donate clothes, shoes, toys, or food to a homeless shelter or family in need
Bake cookies for neighbors
Write a thank-you note for each gift received
Send a care package to a soldier or college student

OTHER

Money for savings account, college fund, stocks or bonds
Gift card for big-ticket items such as a convertible car seat

What non-toy gifts would you add to this list?


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how to send the perfect card this Christmas

This post is sponsored by Minted.com, all opinions are my own.

Since 2005, sending Christmas cards to family and friends has been an annual tradition of mine. I truly enjoy sitting down with my favorite pen and handwriting names and addresses on envelopes! Every year, around the first of November, I start looking at designs and purchase a roll of stamps. In the past, I’ve selected a card design that supports a specific charity. Last year, I was too busy (and a little overwhelmed) with Kamden’s birth and did not send a single Christmas card. In January, however, I mailed his birth announcements to everyone who would have normally received our Christmas card. This year, I’m pulling out all the stops. For our first “official” Christmas as a family of three, I’ve hired a photographer and scheduled a portrait session. Let me just tell you, Husband is so excited. (Yeah right.) But we’re making memories and starting our own holiday traditions!

There are a few things to keep in mind when preparing to send Christmas cards:

one. // choose the right photographer

Finding a photographer is pretty easy, but choosing one that fits your style, budget, and personality can be a challenge. Fortunately, I have Becky (The Java Mama) in my life. She’s taken pictures for me in the past and does an incredible job. I met Becky through a local bloggers’ network and we instantly became friends. As a mother, she works well with children. As a wife, she is incredibly patient when someone (cough-Husband-cough) doesn’t like having their picture taken. Basically, Becky is a saint with a camera! It’s important to remember that photographers are really busy this time of year. It’s best to schedule your family’s portrait session well in advance to avoid the holiday rush.

two. // choose a color scheme 

I am NOT a fashion expert, but I know what I like when it comes to clothes. For portrait sessions, I tell my own subjects to coordinate their outfits but avoid matching. Gone are the days where everybody has to wear khaki pants and a white top or all denim. Thank goodness! It’s also important to dress comfortably. When you’re comfortable, you’re relaxed. And when you’re relaxed, your pictures are better. Comfortable for Husband means jeans and boots. Since he agreed to a portrait session, I agreed he could wear his jeans and boots. (Pick your battles, people!)

three. // choose a location

I don’t know about your significant other, but Husband is NOT looking forward to our portrait session but he’s doing it because he knows it’s important to me and family pictures are on my birthday and Christmas list. (Okay, fine, I might have bribed him with a little something later, but that’s beside the point.) To make Husband as comfortable as possible, and to ensure our pictures are natural-looking, our session will take place outdoors and near our home. Outdoor photography provides more options than a studio and, if you time your session properly, the light can be amazing. Choose a location that fits your family’s personality and style. If urban cityscapes are your thing, find a favorite spot (i.e. city park, favorite restaurant with outdoor patio, water garden, playground, train station, etc.) in your town. If you live near the ocean (lucky you!), take pictures on the beach. If rural landscapes are more your style, pick an open field, fence row, or tree-lined path. If you have specific props or personal items you want to include, discuss with your photographer and plan accordingly. If you have pets, include them in your family picture too. Make it fun but, most importantly, make it about you and your family!

four. // choose the perfect card

Thanks to Minted.com, designing Christmas and holiday greeting cards is easy. But, if you’re like me, choosing just one design is really difficult! There are hundreds (thousands!) of cards for every holiday, celebration, and life event imaginable. Every card option can be customized to fit your needs and budget. Whether you prefer a flat or folded card, one picture on the front or six, fancy paper or decorative edges, there are lots of options to choose from and you can add or edit most text on the card as well. Here are some of my favorite designs from the 2014 Christmas card collection:

bookofisaiahBook of Isaiah // source
This is one of my favorite Scriptures and it really incorporates the spirit and meaning of Christmas. This is also a wonderful pose idea for the kids, I love the use of a little red wagon!

aquarelleAquarelle No.2 // source
Sometimes, simplicity is best.

santaslittlehelpersSanta’s Little Helpers // source
What a fun and festive way to send holiday cheer to your friends and loved ones! This pose reminds me that pictures used on Christmas cards don’t necessarily have to be taken around the holidays. If your family goes on vacation every year and there is a spectacular photo where everyone looks great, use it on your Christmas or holiday card. This is also a cheaper alternative to hiring a photographer too!

brightchristmasBrightest Year Christmas // source
Awwww, what an adorable picture! I love the typography and bright colors too.

dottedborderDotted Border // source
Here is another example of using a photograph you already have and incorporating it on your Christmas or holiday card. By adding a greeting statement and decorative border, you have a unique card to send to family and friends. Small touches really add to the overall look and theme of your card.

silverliningSilver Linings // source
If you can’t decide which picture to put on the front of your holiday card, use them all! This is a great way to share multiple photos of your family, especially if you’ve invested in a portrait session with a professional photographer. You want to get your money’s worth!

FamilyYearInReviewFamily Year In Review // source
As a blogger, I love review-type posts and this card is perfect for sharing big (and small) events that have happened in the past year.

What are some of your family traditions during the holidays? Do you mail cards or have pictures taken as a family every year? Leave a comment below!

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