Monthly Archives: May 2013

Our Beloved Oklahoma

Okie PK

We are official Tennesseans for almost a year now, but My Girl is an Okie by birth.  Oklahoma is where I became a mom.  It’s the place where I learned to love NBA basketball and appreciate a sunset that goes on for miles.

There are so many wonderful things in Oklahoma, and it’s a shame that the weather overshadows them far too often.  Such a thing happened when a massive EF-5 tornado ripped through southern Oklahoma City and its suburb of Moore this week.  While all of our friends and their families are thankfully ok, so many are not.  And so many need our help now, next week and for the months to come.

If you can, please donate $10 to the American Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999 or the regional food bank by texting FOOD to 32333.

You’ll never miss the money, but collectively it will make an incredible impact.

Oklahoma heart

Home Spun Fun: Fence Finger Painting

finger painting on the fence

I did it. I took the finger painting plunge.

I initially didn’t know where to take this activity and still maintain a grey-colored couch, but then a friend said she was thinking about trying it out with paper taped to the fence. Bingo!

My Girl was more interested in taking the lids of the finger paint on and off, but she eventually warmed up to actually painting. And to me taking pictures without her trying to grab the camera. Progress on all fronts!
Fence Finger Painting
Fence Finger Painting

Man, I love this face.
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Awesome Blog Alert!

My friendship with Natalie began with a stalking situation.  You see, I had just moved to Oklahoma City and was in desperate need of some friendship.  While at the mall, I thought I saw a girl who looked familiar from college (who was in a rival sorority – so we didn’t chat much).  So I tracked her down on MySpace (remember that?), asked if she was in the area and then basically asked her if she wanted to be friends.  And so our friendship was born!

She has a sweet boy with an awesome middle name (some secrets will never be revealed), and she has been tracking their fun times on an awesome blog called 365 Days of Toddler Play.  Natalie also happens to be quite the photog, so the pictures are pretty sweet too.  Example below…

365 days of toddler play

If you’re looking for some inspiration for toddler time, it’s a must to check out!  You won’t be disappointed.

Sometimes, Breast Feeding Just Doesn’t Work

Sometimes Breast Feeding Just Doesn't WorkExpecting mothers are told a lot of things about breast feeding: “It is such a beautiful bonding experience.” “It will take two weeks to adjust, but it will get easier after that.” “Breast is best!”

But most are not told what I found out the hard way: “No matter how hard you try, sometimes breast feeding just doesn’t work.”

I was determined to breast feed. Nutrition and healthful living are important to me, so of course I planned to provide the utmost nutrition to my child. I took the nursing class offered through my hospital and discussed it at length with my friends who flawlessly breast fed their little ones.

So out popped My Girl and she was considered a champion nurser from the get-go. It wasn’t always comfortable and we had some awkward moments, but the lactation consultant making the rounds at the hospital said we were great. I was so excited my plan was panning out.

But then My Girl’s weight dropped too low within the first week of her little life. And she was severely jaundiced. And she wasn’t having enough wet and dirty diapers (new moms tirelessly keep track of these things). Next came the words I feared: “You need to supplement with formula.” I refused. Formula was poison, after all, and I would have a breast fed child.

Two days after this conversation, a home nurse came to check on My Girl in her bilibed, and her weight had dropped dramatically. The pediatrician’s office called in a panic and asked that I bring her in as soon as possible. My pediatrician simply said, “I know you want to breast feed. But my objective is a healthy child, and this child needs fat on her body.” She explained that her body was in starvation mode – she was impossible to wake for nursing sessions because her body was hibernating in order to store as many calories as possible to keep herself breathing.

But how was that possible? She was called a champion nurser and latched wonderfully and seemed to be drinking to her heart’s content. But she wasn’t. So I swallowed my pride and tearfully bought a can of formula. We supplemented with formula and pumped breast milk while I continued to nurse as often as possible. I wasn’t giving up.

At one of my countless lactation consultations, it was determined My Girl was an “ineffective suckler.” Born near-term at 36 weeks, she arrived before her suck-swallow-breath reflex had. But it was thought that she could mature her reflex by two weeks after her expected due date.

So for the first six weeks of My Girl’s life, I adhered to a ridiculous, breast milk-crazed schedule: 45 minutes of nursing, 20 minutes of bottle feeding, 25 minutes of pumping, 10 minutes of washing pump parts & labeling/rotating/freezing pumped bottles. This hour-and-forty minute routine was done every two to three hours. Best case scenario, I would have an hour and 20 minutes, but usually I had 20 minutes to brush my teeth, eat, bond with my baby, and – oh yeah – sleep and attempt to recover from bringing life into the world.

But I kept at it. “Formula is not an option. Formula means failure,” I kept chanting to myself. So I saw the entire lactation department at my hospital on a weekly basis, I called my sister’s lactation consultant several hours away, I sought out the La Leche League, I scoured the internet for tips and tricks, I used the dreaded SS system, I tried the nipple shield, I had friends offering advice and even positioning my kid at my boob in an attempt to get things going. But at our six week deadline, My Girl was only taking in an 18th of one ounce after a 45 minute nursing session. She was burning more calories attempting to nurse than she was actually taking in.

Then the focus turned from breast feeding to giving breast milk. So I ventured into the world of Exclusive Pumping – or EPing, as those in the know call it. I pumped 8-10 times every day. I woke up every day between 1am-4am to pump, even if my sweet baby didn’t, because that is the most productive milk window. I pumped in airport restrooms, during cocktail parties, in friends’ bathrooms, in the car – while driving. It was exhausting and incredibly inconvenient. But I was so head strong on avoiding formula, I did it without hesitation.

And from week two to month four and a half, my daughter didn’t have an ounce of formula. I was so proud of that. And then my pedestal was knocked from underneath me, and my body stopped producing as much milk. And then my frozen stash soured. And one evening I was at home with a hungry child, unable to produce any milk and without any pumped milk in storage. So we made a mad dash to the grocery store for a can of formula so I had something to give my screaming baby.

Then the focus turned from giving 100% breast milk to giving as little formula as possible. I tried everything to increase my supply: renting a medical-grade breast pump, popping fenugreek pills, eating oatmeal for eight straight meals, drinking Mother’s Milk tea and hoppy beer, power pumping for an hour straight, adding additional pumping sessions, looking at pictures of my baby while I pumped, taking perscription medication (that made My Girl projectile vomit).  Seriously, I tried everything.

Then at the five and half month mark, despite all of my efforts, my body just stopped making milk. And I started buying formula. And I became a completely less stressed mom. And I had so much more time to enjoy my baby. It felt like I had a new life.

Adding up all of the time I spent pumping, it comes to 26 straight days at that damn breast pump in less than a six month period. Essentially, I spent February attached to a machine. While I am so very grateful I was able to give my daughter breast milk while unable to breast feed, I can’t help but wonder how I would have approached the situation had I known that sometimes breast feeding just isn’t in the cards. And that formula is available for a reason. And that both ways of feeding result in happy, healthy babies. My Girl is proof of that.

Easy Peasy Mother’s Day Cards

My husband and I both come from blended families, so we’ve got a lot of mommas & grandmommas to recognize come Mother’s Day.  It’s awesome that My Girl is surrounded with so much love, but it can be a bit tricky to get nine cards together to send for the big day.  And pricey – nice cards these days are $4 a pop!

A few months ago I bought a massive pack of blank notecards & envelopes for $12 from Target.  It’s been awesome to have around for occasions such as this.  And since My Girl can now “color” (at least that’s what we’ll call it), she got in on the action this year.
note cards

I simply wrote “Happy Mother’s Day” on the note cards, let My Girl go to town, signed, sealed & delivered.  Simple and sweet – just the way we like it!
homemade cards

Good Read: The Happiness Project

happiness-projectEarlier this year, I joined a fun book club. When asked to join, my first response was “I’m not really a book club kind of girl.” And my friend’s response was, “Oh – we just get together and drink wine.” Now that I could get into.

The first book on the docket was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I was totally intrigued because I’m always into real life stories, I like the self-help genre, and it seemed relatable. And it totally was. One of the first lines that really grabbed me was this: “How can I discipline myself to feel grateful for my ordinary day?” Who wouldn’t want to accomplish that?? Another good one: “Aim for a higher standard of behavior.”

I won’t give away any spoilers, but a couple of things in that book have totally impacted my life. That seems extreme to say, but it’s true. The first “Happiness” take away that I literally use everyday is…

“Don’t postpone any task that can be done in less than one minute.”

I adhere to this advice (sometimes actually saying it out loud) and it makes a big difference in my day. Once I put My Girl to bed, I don’t have a dozen small projects to get to; I’ve completed them as the day progressed. Which obviously means I have an extra 15 minutes of Real Housewives watching. Whoop!

My other big take away is to make a list of nagging projects that you always think, “Oh – I should really do that” but you actually never do and you totally forget about it until you have another fleeting reminder to get it done. I made a list of about 20 constantly-neglected things and placed it prominently on my refrigerator – and a month later, everything had been completed. I felt so accomplished and, honestly, less stressed. Having the list constantly right in front of my nose kept me motivated to be productive when I had an extra 20 minutes in my day. And a lot of those things could be accomplished while watching Real Housewives. Double whoop!

I haven’t made a full-on Happiness Project for myself, but I may. And I really do intend to incorporate some other ideas of hers into my life – like raiding my closet, treating my husband to a full week of nothing but niceness, becoming a recorder of my family’s memories.

If you’re interested in The Happiness Project, give her website a good look.

And since I love a good quote, so I’ll leave you with one last one from Ms. Rubin: “I have a healthy, affectionate little girl, and I want my actions as a parent to rise to the level of that good fortune.”

Home Spun Fun: Pasta & Foil

This activity completely happened by accident. My Girl found an opened box of macaroni noodles & found a tin foil bread pan & went to town.
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She was so captivated by this, we relocated to the living room once I had cleaned up the kitchen after breakfast. These good times continued for 30 minutes! And this kid is rarely occupied for more than 5-10. Maybe it was something about the noise created from the dry pasta & the foil? Who knows. But My Girl sure thought it was a hit.
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Disclaimer: this activity is not for the faint of heart! I’m not stressed out by play messes, but this one even got me a little skiddish – especially once the dog started chomping on the fallen dry pasta, and I became paranoid he’d get a case of worms. Was anyone else told as a kid that eating dry pasta gives you worms? Or did I totally make this up?

Anywhoo, My Girl was happy and my dog seems healthy. Win, win.