Thursday, April 17, 2014

Back in town

So, as expected, our trip to California was amazing.
While we missed our baby girl (a lot), we had a ball exploring northern California, tasting wine and beer all over, and eating some incredible meals.

M may have had an even better time with my parents while we were gone.
She was spoiled rotten and didn't seem to miss us nearly as much as we missed her! Every time my mom would send me a picture of her, she had on a new dress or new shoes, or had a new toy in her hands. Also, she got to eat a lot of pie with them!

And she got to visit the zoo (where she shared her water with the monkeys).

Hoping to get my trip recap posts up soon! We had the best time!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rachel the Scrapbooker

When I first started blogging in 2008 (have I really been blogging for 6+ years?!), I started because there was a handful of scrapbooking bloggers I followed who really inspired me. If we back track a little further, to my high school days, you'd learn that I worked at a local scrapbook store for 3 years. I have about 6 VERY detailed scrapbooks that tell the story of my high school years. I scrapbooked here and there through out college, and then got into again in 2007 when I finished grad school, but then quickly fell out of it somewhere around 2009.

Since then, I have continued following a few scrapbook blogs, in fact they're some of my favorites (Ali Edwards, Stephanie Howell, Elise Blaha Cripe), and I've seen the trend of scrapbooking traditional layouts phase out as Project Life has become the new "thing" in the scrapbook world. Project Life, if you've never heard of it, is a simpler version of documenting your life from Becky Higgins. This page on her blog does a GREAT job discussing it and what it really is. 

Now that we have a daughter, I knew I wanted to get back into scrapbooking. I missed the creation aspect of it, but I also knew I didn't have the time to commit to it like I once did. So, at the end of January, I thought, what the heck...let's give this a try. And here I am now, on week 10 of my album, and y'all....I LOVE it. I spend maybe an hour each week putting together my weekly page and I love that hour. I love my instagram account, but let's be honest, will those pictures and captures be around one day for my daughter if I never get them put in a book? In my project life album, I combine pictures from my phone, instagram, and my DSLR and I try hard to journal some each week to tell the story of our week.

I do all my printing at Walgreens (upload from computer and through their app on my phone).
Supplies I've bought:

Photo Pocket Pages - J (GREAT for instagram pics)

Here are my first 10 weeks!

If you have questions, leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Munchkin Meals - 17 Months

When M was 10 months old I linked up with Brittany for her Munchkin Meals link up, and here we are 7 months later and SO much has changed with M's eating habits and preferences, so I thought it'd be a good time to update.

Here's what meal time is like these days with a rowdy 17 month old...

Most days she eats a scrambled egg with cheese, followed by a demand for fruit of some kind (usually banana, strawberries, clementines, or grapes). We occasionally do a whole grain waffle (we really like Nature's Path Maple Cinnamon with or without peanut butter) or oatmeal. I actually just bought her some cereal to try with milk soon as she's really been into eating out of my cereal bowl in the mornings.

I try hard to give M a variety in her diet, but she definitely has her favorite meals. She loves a good ol' pb&j sandwich on whole wheat bread and Annie's White Cheddar and Shells mixed with peas. I usually serve these with a side/mix of fruit, cherry tomatoes, string cheese, deli ham, or yogurt. I would love to find more veggies to serve her as a side, but right now, tomatoes and peas seem to be the only ones she'll regularly eat for me. She also loves green smoothies, so a few times a week I'll make one to go with her lunch and we'll share it. However, I think half the reason she likes this is because she likes imitating the sound the blender makes!

We love to cook and try new recipes, and M is usually willing to try whatever I make, and I'd say about 50% of the time she ends up liking it and eating most of the dish. Just last night I made a quinoa dish with shrimp and grilled veggies. She tried a little bit of everything, but only liked the quinoa. Last weekend my husband made a succotash over rice, and she ate EVERY bite (lima beans, okra, ham, sausage, corn, tomatoes, rice...she was obsessed!). I often prepare a few extra sides for her if I'm worried if she's not going to like what I make. This can be fruit, roasted sweet potatoes, fruit, all depends what we're eating and how I think she's going to do with the meal. I'd love for her to eat exactly what we're having, but some nights I just know that won't happen and I don't want to put her to bed hungry at this age because I know it'll just mean a poor night's sleep. I'd love to know how other families handle this at this young of an age.

This actually one of M's new words..."NAKS!". I hear it ALL. DAY. LONG. She loves Cheerios, Inner Peas from TJ's, raisins, (again) fruit, peanut butter crackers from TJ's, and whole wheat goldfish. If it were up to my child, she'd have "naks" by her side all day, but I'm trying to limit them. Not so easy though now that she knows how to ask for them!

Small Disclaimer: 
I feel like I also need to note, that we have days and weeks where M won't eat anything I prepare for her. I don't know if it's teeth, lack of hunger, or just a strong opinion, but I try not to let it get me down. It's certainly frustrating, but within a few days, she's usually back to her normal eating habits.

What has your toddler been eating lately? 
Be sure to check out Brittany's link up today for more great munchkin meal ideas!

Previous Munchkin Meals and BLW Posts...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Have a seat...

This progression of photos captures M so well right now.
Independent, determined, and yet still so needy as you can see from the last picture as she taps her finger on the seat beside her as a signal for me to come sit with her.
17 months old is a slightly frustrating but absolutely fabulous age!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Seventeen Months of Breastfeeding

For 517 days, I nursed my baby. That's 17 months. 17 months of never being away from her for more than 2 days (and pumping every 3-4 hours during the 35 hours I was away). I don't even know how many exact feedings, but I am pretty darn sure it would add up to a lot. And after last Tuesday morning, we have come to the end of our journey. And while my emotions are surely getting the best of me, I also know that there are so many mamas out there who have been down this road, and there's no better place to share my feelings than here.

When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I read up on it. I went to LLL meetings. I talked to so many new and older moms. And I tried to prepare myself for the worst. But I also told myself that if I was miserable, I would quit. I wasn't going to make life with a newborn harder than it needed to be.

And then after an unexpected birth story that ended in a c-section, my 8lb. 4 oz. baby girl came out and I wasn't able to have immediate skin to skin like I had hoped for, but when I finally got my hands on her, that sweet babe went to town and the beginning of our nursing journey together began. 

I'd be lying if I said it was always easy and painless. I had a great deal of pain in the beginning, but as others encouraged me, I pushed through it, and by seven or eight weeks, I quickly noticed that the pain had begun to go away and I wasn't curling my toes and yelping each time she latched on. We dealt with an oversupply issue for the first 2.5 months, but we powered through it, got advice from experienced moms and the lactation consultant, and by three months, I was fortunate enough to feel like breastfeeding was the most natural thing about being a new mom. 

Grabbing my shirt while she ate at just two weeks old. This little hand! It still melts me.

As the time went on, we really fell into our rhythm. We went from hours and hours of nursing on the couch in front of the television, to a pretty good routine of five feedings during the day in the glider, and occasionally a night time or early morning feeding. Our glider became my best friend, and many a mornings I spent watching the sun come up out her window while she nursed and we rocked, and many a nights I read books and blogs on my phone or Nook as I fed her for 30-45 minutes before bed. I thought about this day (the "end") and even when she was just a few months old, the thought of it made me want to cry. I have always loved our nursing times together. 

After a 4am I crazy for sort of missing this?

Taking a break to nurse was a break from the other busy demands, and it never felt like a burden to me. When we'd be traveling, it was the one thing that seemed easy. I didn't need to bring a hundred things to feed her (although I did bring a million things to bathe, clothe, and soothe her!). Around 4 months, I remember nursing her and her pulling off and grinning at me for just a second before latching back on, and those were the moments that will stick with me forever.

3ish months...

Once she became mobile and got teeth, well, it changed a bit and there was a learning curve for both of us. I had to work a little harder to keep her there and to break the biting habit, but again, we survived. And as she became more and more mobile, those few minutes in our glider through out the day became a time to just stop and hold  her. I wouldn't trade them for the world. 

A conked out baby (14ish months) one evening after a bed time nursing session

When M turned a year, I knew we were no where stopping, but I also knew I wanted to be done around 18 months. We slowly dropped feedings. One at a time. First the middle of the day. Then the one after her morning nap, and then the one after her afternoon nap. And by February, she was only nursing twice a day, morning and night. On February 27, J was out for the evening so I was doing her bedtime routine all on my own. I read her her nightly books, and got ready to nurse her, but realized she wasn't asking for it. So, I stopped. Instead we rocked some more, I sang to her. She rubbed her lovey on her face like she did every other night while I fed her, and then I put her to bed. And that was that. She was done with her bed time feeding. And while it made me super sad, it also felt good knowing that she was dropping it on her own. It wasn't going to be a battle that upset her.

And then that takes us to last week. She turned 17 months old last Tuesday, and I had decided ahead of time that this would be it. So like every other day, I went in when she woke. She gave me her big grin from her crib and yelled, "HI!," we opened her blinds and snuggled into the glider, and we had our last nursing session. And while it was sad in the moment, I'm glad I knew it was our last time. I soaked it in. I gave her a big kiss. And that was that. Since that morning, J has gone in when she woken up with a cup of milk and "naks" (cheerios), and she's been happy as a lark.  She hasn't skipped a beat, and well, I couldn't be happier or more proud to see how big and independent she has become. 

I think every mom, no matter how she feeds her babies, has those moments where she feels so proud to see her baby growing and changing, but it's still so tough to have them grow so fast! I am so so thankful for such a successful breastfeeding journey. (And on the flip side, I am so glad I can take Excedrin and Mucinex again, plus I get to go shopping for new bras now!) The end of this road has me feeling a little sad but super grateful. Breastfeeding was a surprisingly sweet benefit to the first 17 months of motherhood for me. It has left me with so many moments with my baby girl that I will treasure forever.

Last Tuesday with my big girl