Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ahhh... June in review

Yes I am aware that today is the last day in July... but guess what I never shared how I did with my June goals and I never even MADE July goals. SLACKER!

Here is how I did... Worst month ever. I underestimated how long my projects would take and well we had a lot of family fun projects and in my book that ranks above my to-do list!

and guess what... the items that are not check off are STILL undone. haha

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top 10 Nursing Items

I wanted to share the items that I have found most helpful while breastfeeding.

1. Medela Pump In Style. I LOVE my Medela Pump In Style. At work I use a Medela Hospital Grade pump that it located in our lactation rooms but for home and travel I would not have lasted this long without this WONDERFUL pump! Thank you Virginia! I was lucky enough not to have to purchase the pump myself as I'm currently able to borrow it from a great friend. All I needed to do was purchase my own hoses, shields, and bottles and I've been set. The pump retails for 299.99 and I was able to purchase attachments for under $50.00 at Amazon. (your milk does not actually flow into the machine... nothing goes though the valves) I would also recommend investing in a 9 volt power adapter for the pump so that you do not BLOW through batteries. (Suction is also more powerful when plugged into the wall). Medela makes an adapter but save your money and just get one from Amazon... they are no different. ANOTHER, thing that I have loved about this pump is that there is a SMALL black pouch that can be easily removed from the backpack... because it just isn't my style. When I've needed to travel with my pump I remove the pouch and take that in a cute bag with all of my gear.

2. Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads. These were great to have on hand especially in the beginning as I would start leaking the second Hunter would start to cry... or even when I would think about him. Well worth the $12.99 to save yourself the embarrassment of leaking through your top!

3. Lansinoh Breastmilk storage bags. I absolutely love these storage bags! I've tried out ALL of the milk storage bags and these are top on my list with Medela bags being a far second. I pump into the Medela bottles and once I have 5 oz I pour the milk into these bags and lay flat in the freezer. I like that they are longer, lay flat, and have a very convenient location to write info on.
4. Lansinoh HPA Lanolin. This is a MUST buy for the first few weeks of breastfeeding. It gets VERY uncomfortable to the point that you might want to cry (just being honest) but this really does help and it is safe for baby.

5. Burp Clothes. I'm a huge fan of making your own burp cloths. But in case you don't have the time or don't like to DIY the Swaddle Designs brand makes a GREAT burp cloth. We have a few and I feel like they are a great quality and they come in SUPER CUTE designs! Highly recommend.

6. aden+anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets. These are the ultimate item that EVERYONE needs to have on hand. Not only are they great as swaddle blankets but I use them all the time as a cover when I am feeding Hunter in public! I'm not a fan of the whole "nursing cover" it makes me feel like I'm wearing a smock! I like that these blankets are large so they provide great coverage AND they are lightweight and provide great ventilation for baby! Another plus is that they come in such cute designs!

7. AVENT Thermal Gel packs. Another necessity for those sore nipples when you first start feeding. I love that you can both warm and cool these gel packs. Warm use to stimulate milk flow before feeding and cold use to soothe sore or engorged breasts. In fact I would recommend purchasing two (packs of 2) so that you can keep one set in the freezer at all times.

8. Medela Breastpump Accessory Set. Always good to have additional shields and bottles for use when others are in the dishwasher! I've also enjoyed having the microwave Cleaning bags. Steam cleaning eliminates germs on breast pump, accessories, bottles, nipples, and more. I use them in my office frequently because the water at the pumping room doesn't get warm enough to really sanitize my equipment. I also like that they have 20 uses per bag!

9. Fenugreek. As my supply has decreased I started taking these Fenugreek tablets to assist with my milk production. I also took Mothers Milk Tea and MotherLove - More Milk Plus from Whole Foods. The MotherLove Drops taste HORRIBLE but I was willing to do anything to get my milk supply back up.

10. My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow. Now for full disclosure I do not actually own one of these pillows but I have heard GREAT things about them and plan to get one for the next child that we have. I just have to say that I HATE the boppy! Do not buy one.

Why I breastfeed??

I'm going to answer the questions I am asked most often about breastfeeding. Then, I'm going to tell you why I choose to breastfeed. My honest reasons. If you do not want to know about my boobs... Well skip this post!

Does it hurt?
Yes. But only at first. With both of my kids it took roughly two weeks before breastfeeding was totally comfortable for me. The second child was harder than the first. At points it was so bad that I would cry out each time Hunter would latch on. Matt would even have a pained look on his face when he would bring the baby to me to nurse because he understood that I was in pain... There are many products available to soothe your breasts if you are experiencing discomfort and I promise, it goes away.

How long do you have to breastfeed?
It's recommended that you breastfeed your infant for at least six months but most pediatricians and organizations stress that a year or longer is better. Honestly, it is up to you. I breastfed Emma exclusively for 6 months and did a mixture of formula/breast milk until 12 months. With Hunter at 10 months (just last week) we had to add 2 oz of formula to his bottles while I'm at work. My production is failing me. (more about that later)

Are my boobs going to sag afterward?
Most likely. Your breasts become larger with pregnancy and engorged with milk after delivery. When they return to their normal size when your milk dries up, you lose all that glorious fullness and breast tissue is lost. 

What does it feel like to breastfeed?
Honestly? It feels like relief. When your milk comes in, your breasts get swollen and can actually ache. It isn't necessarily painful but it can be uncomfortable. After you get used to your baby nursing, it feels really good. It's soothing and there really is an amazing bonding moment.

Will it make me lose the baby weight?
It depends on your body. You burn a lot of calories when you breastfeed but I honestly think it varies woman to woman. I've seen women breastfeed and pounds just melt off of them. But there are many who say it didn't help them at all.

Do they really leak?
Yep. If you are able to feed on demand and aren't having to pump a lot, you may leak less. I leaked more the first time around than the second. I have no idea why. Perhaps I wasn't completely emptying my breasts at each feeding. I liked using washable breast pads. Here is a tip: If you start to leak and the baby isn't awake or around to breastfeed either pump or self express. I've self expressed plenty of times into bathroom sinks, toilets, and cups. Yep, I said it.

What if my baby bites me?
It will hurt. You just have to be firm with him or her and take your breast away at each bite. Tell the baby "no." Babies understand more than we give them credit for. They aren't biting to be mean. They are exploring and maybe they aren't hungry.

What if I'm doing it wrong?
If your baby is growing according to his/her pediatrician's liking, you are doing it right. If you have any questions about pain, see a lactation consultant. Actually, make SURE you see one in the hospital and find out if there is one on staff at the pediatrician's office. That's the best advice I can give you about the whole subject.

How do I increase my milk supply?
This is a BIG one for me because my milk supply recently plummeted... So I have done a LOT of research onto this. 

A good diet is key to a good milk supply. There are also herbs such as fenugreek that can help. Try Mother's Milk tea or I used Mother's Milk Plus drops. You can buy them at Whole Foods Market. Drink PLENTY of water. That's one of the main culprits of a low milk supply. Avoid antibiotics and antihistamines when possible, they can dry up your milk quickly. Note: if you are pregnant and nursing you should NOT use the fenugreek or Mother's Milk supplements. At that point you should continue with a healthy diet and drink lots of water.
How do I dry up my milk?
So your boobs don't know you are done breastfeeding. You can dry up your milk naturally by slowly weaning your baby or slowly backing off of pumping. With Emma it took about 3 weeks for me to dry up completely after I had finished breastfeeding her. You can also try an antihistamine or ask your doctor for something stronger. If you decided to forgo breastfeeding, I've heard cabbage leaves are great. Just be careful not to get a clogged duct which can lead to mastitis. Try to dry up your milk slowly.
Do I have to breastfeed?
Nope. Whether or not you breastfeed is completely up to you. Try it out for three weeks and if you find you just can't do it, try pumping. If you try pumping and still hate it, just stop. Don't do something that will make you unhappy and stress you out. The baby feels your tension.


Alright, you have my answers to the questions that I get asked most. Now I'm going to let you in on the simply and honest reasons as to why I choose to do it.

Health. It's amazingly good for the baby. There are more nutrients in breast milk than formula. It's easier on your baby's tummy, it's bonding, it's been proven to be more beneficial than formula alone. It's like taking a daily multi vitamin on top of an already balanced, healthy diet. It gives the baby more and does wonders for his/her health. Just google the facts.

Cost. Formula can be very expensive. You could easily spend $100 per month on formula, especially when the baby starts taking up to 8 oz per feeding. Also, Emma would only drink the liquid formula which was SUPER expensive. Mom's milk is free. Even buying an expensive pump is going to cost less in the long run.

Convenience. I love having the ability to breastfeed whenever the baby needs me. I'm also comfortable breastfeeding in public at the drop of a hat. No bottles, no measuring, no mixing, no clean up. All I have to include in my diaper bag for feedings is a nursing cover and a burp cloth.

Boobs. Boobs look great with milk in them. Just ask Matt. If you are a small chested woman who desires a larger rack, then breastfeed. I went from a B to a D with Hunter in the beginning. Too bad it doesn't stay that way forever!!

Bonding. I actually LOVE the moments when I feed in the middle of the night. Just rocking back an forth in the dark with your little one. I also love the way that my kiddos had looked up at me while feeding or how they hold my finger sometimes. ehhh the list goes on and on! 


Later today I will post my breastfeeding favorite things!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hunter Park 9 Months

So I'm a Slacker lately when it comes to posting and I hope to get back on a role this week....

Here are some VERY belated 9 month photos of Hunter. Yes he is already 10 months old... Again I'm a slacker!

These photos are getting more difficult to take as Hunter is getting older and moving around non-stop.

We are NOT a fan of  getting into our bed when it is not bedtime/naptime. I guess he thought that I was going to have him take a nap...

But he calmed down long enough to show off his two bottom teeth

Sometimes Hunter tried to hold on to too many toys at one time!

Hunter LOVES to be tossed up in the air by his Daddy!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Porch Reveal

So I still need to share the details on the rugs used and a full posting on the daybed... but I figured I would go ahead and do the screened in porch reveal.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Porch Pillows

It is Pillow time!

I have to admit that this is one porch project that is not completely done but at least we currently have a good base when it comes to pillows on our daybed. 

The current mixture is 50% store bought and 50% homemade. 

The store bought pillows are from IKEA. I purchased 4 of the great 20x20 Gurli Covers in Green. I mean at $3.00 each you cannot beat that price!!! (Additional Colors: Beige, Black, Blue, Gray, Pink, Red, White, Yellow)

On the inside I did the IKEA Inner cushion which is 20x20 and only $2.99 each

 One of these great cushions went on each of our black chairs 

The other two are on the daybed. But I also needed some larger custom pillows for the daybed and decided to make them on my own.

I ended up making three pillows using my extra package of window panels!

I used the 26x26 Gosa Aster pillows from IKEA (only $7.99 each) to make three larger pillows that now line the back of the daybed. To keep the pillows looking uniform I also sewed a 1/2" double border around the edges of the pillow to match the smaller green ones from IKEA.

They were extremely easy to whip up and I have some plans to sew some additional pillows for the daybed.. but this is what we are currently looking at...

I LOVE IT! I like that everything is really coming together and that the space has just the right amount of pattern and color.

Our current "pillow" total for the room is  $47.93 (didn't count the window panel that I used to create the larger pillows because that was already accounted for in window treatments)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A hairy update...

So we have been BUSY!!! so busy that I completely failed on my screened in porch week! I'll be back tomorrow to start it up again...
But first I wanted to show you one of the biggest changes in the park household...

Yup Emma got a haircut! and guess what... I DID IT.
We wanted to have shorter hair that would be easier to manage for camp. The original plan was to get it cut the weekend before last but we ran out of time so on Sunday I took matters into my own hands.
 We were left with 9-10 inches and we are donating the hair to Pantene Pro-V Beautiful Lengths.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Porch: Coffee Table

For about a month I had been debating what to do for a coffee table in our screened in porch. 

I originally wanted to make a table myself like this one

But after creating a daybed for the space I decided that was enough building for me... also when all is said and done the DIY wooden coffee table would cost a little under $150... which I was not all that excited about.

So I had been looking for other options. I was about to just cut off the legs on a NASTY table that we use to have and refinish but I was NOT looking forward to that project and as a result I had been stalling. AND I'M HAPPY I DID

On 4th of July I headed over to my favorite thrift shop, B-Thrifty, in Woodbridge, Virginia. On major holidays they frequently run a 50% off sale on all of their merchandise (to include furniture).

And look what I found! 

The wicker chest was not in the best shape. The wicker was torn off in a few areas and the paint had seen better days!

But just look at the price!!!

and remember  they had a 50% off sale that day so I took it home for just under $20.00!!! 

Once we got home I promptly removed all of the hardware and got my spray paint on! 

Much nicer... As you can see I did a white coat on the base and I did lime green (that I already had on-hand) on the hardware! 

Here she is all finished!

LOVE HER and I love the $20 price!