Breastfeeding Awareness Month + Lansinoh SmartPump, Bessie’s Best Lactation Cookies, & Mason Bottle GIVEAWAY!

AUgust 2016 (1)

With a second baby on the way, nursing is going to be making a comeback in my day-to-day life! This time around, I am working full-time and pumping will be a big part of my routine. I always get excited when National Breastfeeding Awareness Month rolls around because I know how many moms truly struggle with this aspect of motherhood and it is HARD. And mamas who don’t nurse, I still love you, too, and, support you on your journey of motherhood! You’re all amazing.

From my pictures and stories, it may seem like breastfeeding came so easily to me and my daughter. It sure started out easily in the hospital – perfect latch, ate like a monster, plenty of wet diapers. I was convinced something had to be wrong… it can’t be THIS easy can it? The answer? NOPE. It cannot be that easy. When we got home from the hospital, it was like my daughter totally forgot what the heck she was doing. Her latch hurt, she cried, I cried. It was a mess. I was exhausted and convinced I was doing something so wrong. Some days, I lost my determination to keep going and bottles looked SO appealing. My husband was and is my rock. His encouragement is literally one of the biggest blessings in my life. He saw me struggle and he knew I was struggling. I’m sure he thought it would be easier to just give bottles instead. But, he also knew how badly I wanted to breastfeed and he encouraged me to keep fighting for that. So I did. We did. My daughter did. And we succeeded. We finally got back into a groove and a routine. We had some hiccups along the way, but, we did it. We nursed until she was 2 years old and I am so proud! I think if I hadn’t gone back to work, she probably would have still nursed at least a couple times during the day and night for a bit longer. I have such a special place in my heart for my nursing mamas, whether you’ve nursed for 2 minutes or 2 years.

So, with National Breastfeeding Week wrapping up and it being Breastfeeding Awareness Month , I am so excited to show you some of my favorite products for nursing mamas and there’s an AMAZING giveaway thrown in here too ;) Woo hoo!

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Packing the Hospital Bag!

 

Hospital Bag

Packing the hospital bag.

I’d say this task was even more daunting than packing the diaper bag after the kiddo had arrived earth-side, and now, we’re going to be doing it all over again! I had no idea what my experience was going to be like, what things I’d need the most, what would comfort me the most, and add in “end of pregnancy” hormones… yikes.

Once we got to the hospital, I didn’t even use a ¼ of the things I had packed. When people tell you to only pack the essentials, they’re right. But, what ARE the essentials?! Obviously, the essentials are different for every person, but, I’d like to think that us mamas can agree on some things :)

So, if you are seriously stressing about what to toss in your hospital bag before that buddle of joy (or bundles of joy!) arrive, read on!

Plus,  I’ll be adding a list of top suggestions that all of you wonderful mamas submitted to me!

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Top Essentials from Mamas Like You!

CrunchyOnTheWeekend.com

 

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Keeping Your Sanity in Chaos

Keeping Your

Being a parent is TOUGH. Go ahead, you can admit it. There are days when you let your kiddo eat puffs and grapes for every meal (I promise I won’t tell…my little one does it at least once a week). There are days when you AND the kids don’t make it out of pajamas (guilty again)! There are days when you realize you’ve been wearing the same yoga pants for 3 days (I’ll admit I lose track when I resort to dry shampoo and think my hair is cleaner than it really is). There are days when you have an enormous “to-do” list and you’re lucky if you can get 1/2 of one task accomplished. There are days when you have the entire house to clean and your little one decides you will be her slave and nurse all day, forcing you to be stationary on the couch ALL.DAY.

I get it, because, I know those days all too well. And to top it off, that’s just a REGULAR, NORMAL day. 

Lately, our house has been ranking in the upper levels of chaos with no mercy.

When we suddenly decided to think about putting our house up for sale, we realized we had a hefty “to-do” list before that would be possible. We’re not talking painting a few rooms and cleaning the carpets. Nope. We’re talking full-on construction and renovation project over weeks and weeks. On top of that, we decided to do most of the work ourselves, thanks to the amazing handyman skills of my Dad. 

We were pretty prepared for the timeline and work that would be ahead of us. 

BIG SURPRISE when I ended up breaking my ankle and having to be in a cast for 4+ weeks and being unable to bear any weight AT ALL. I’m finally in a walking boot, but, this was a major setback since my Mom and Gramma had to help with our daughter EVERY DAY while I was in my cast. Without that help, we would have been in a pretty bad place all around! So, instead of being done with our renovation project at the end of August, we’re now looking at being done at the end of September. 

Even better is the undeniable lack of routine in our household right now. Nap times? Ha! If we’re lucky.  Our good eater enjoying a plethora of nutrient-dense foods? Popcorn, tortilla chips, and grapes count, right? Bedtime routine? Now you’re really being hilarious! Kiddo going to sleep in her own bed at night before snuggling up with us later on? You have to be delusional! 

If I thought our day-to-day was hectic already, a renovation and broken ankle made me laugh at my previous daily mom “struggles”. Compared to lately, my days of having a fully functional ankle were a dream world! 

So, when your daily routine gets COMPLETELY thrown off a cliff by a broken bone, illness, or other major event, how do you deal?

Sh*! happens. REAL life happens. Bad days happen. Illness happens. Broken bones happen. Day-to-day life with a family is never ideal. Never flawless. Real life is how you handle those things when you really don’t want to or hadn’t planned to.

ADAPT AND OVERCOME, MAMAS. 

1.) Ask for help. 

When I broke my ankle (at a workout in the park- thanks for throwing me off track on my first day, ankle!), I was so freaked out about how I was going to care for my child and household. I expressed this fear to one of my fellow MOPS moms and she immediately asked if we could use some meals. This amazing mama (you’re seriously an angel, Ashleigh!) organized a meal train for the first 2 weeks. I am eternally grateful to all of the mamas who jumped in, regardless of their OWN daily demands and struggles, to help us adjust to our new “normal” for the next 6+ weeks. We not only had meals, we got fruit, cookies, and sides to go along! Huge help when our fridge was bare.

2.) Accept the help.

As moms, it’s hard to put your pride aside sometimes and admit that, yes- you, supermom, need some help. It’s okay, and believe me, no one will think less of you for it. I not only have my Mom and Gramma helping with my day-to-day stuff, they’re also helping with packing our belongings, scheduling appointments, cleaning our house, doing our laundry, cooking us meals, staging our house for moving, and the list goes on. I would have never been able to do even a fraction of that stuff with this broken ankle. Just graciously accept the help when someone offers, and when you’re feeling better, pay it forward!

3.) Try to get organized.

One of our biggest struggles with me being down right now is our household, well, EVERYTHING. I’m always the one in charge of our household binder including bills, checking account register, grocery lists, food prep/meal prep, cleaning (for the most part), and miscellaneous things here and there. With our routine being so out of whack, our household binder went downhill, FAST. We were forgetting due dates for bills because our routine was simply gone and my typical routine of seeing our calendar on the fridge with the bills written down (on a daily basis) was long gone. Grocery trips were done by my husband (with baby in tow) or by my mom. We were constantly forgetting things because I wasn’t able to make a quick notes throughout the week like usual. So, if something catastrophic happens to your day-to-day routine, carve out some time to get organized. Designate duties to your husband, kids, whoever. Make notes on how you usually do things so people can just take charge. Ask for help!

4.) Let it go.

Whatever it is that has forced its way into your normal daily life, accept it. It’s happened, and as frustrating as it can be, it can’t be changed (in most cases at least). We all have our way of doing things and it’s hard to forfeit that and let others take control of our usual daily tasks. I like to fold laundry completely different than my mom does, but, she’s doing me a GINORMOUS favor by doing MY laundry so I deal with it, thank her, and just tell her where things belong! The alternative is me trying to hobble down a flight of stairs to our construction zone of a lower level while trying to figure out how to get the laundry baskets down there on crutches…not a good idea and a recipe for more broken bones. Don’t dwell on the fact that some things may not be done the way you’d normally do them. Just let it go and know that eventually, you’ll be back to doing those things YOUR way!

5.) ENJOY IT.

Yep. I said it. And no, I’m not being delusional or facetious! This will obviously not apply to all derailed routines, but, you can try it regardless.
As I’ve been stuck on the couch for the last 4+ weeks with minimal movement besides the necessities, I’ve come to realize that this happened for a reason. I know, I know- overly cliche, right? Bare with me.
As a mama who has struggled (and still is struggling) with PPD and postpartum induced anxiety, this broken ankle has allowed me to take a break. It has allowed me to open up to some of the closest people to me and allow them to see my daily struggles as a mom. It’s allowed me to focus on my blog, freelance work, networking, and in some ways, myself. I was so stressed out by so many things, and then, I break my ankle. Am I glad it happened? Not one bit. It added to my stress at that moment. However, it happened and I know it happened for a reason. As much as I don’t want to admit it, it was nice to not have to clean the house, cook meals, and change diapers. I was essentially good for boobs to nurse my daughter, and, arms to snuggle her. It wasn’t an ideal “vacation”, but, it was a little break and I know things will return to normal, eventually. You’re not less of a mom for wanting a break once in a while.

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Your kids will survive a not-so-perfect bedtime routine. Your spouse will manage to figure out your side of this parenting thing. Your family will realize how insane your kids can be on a daily basis when they’re seeing them for more than an hour or two at a time. Your spouse and kids will realize how much you do for them and see that they’d be screwed without you :) Your family will understand why you’re exhausted half the time when they see you. Your kids will realize that they can’t and don’t want to survive on popcorn for the rest of their lives.

We forget how specific our routines are and how they impact our daily life. We stress out at the first sign of change and think about all the negatives. We overwhelm ourselves with schedules and routines. We rarely stop and think about the positives in our daily life and why the craziness makes it worth it.

We all want a break, and when we get it, we want our craziness back. We must be INSANE, right!? Yes. Yes we are. And that, is what makes us moms. 

The Vulnerable Mom

Vulnerable Mom

This is a much more personal piece for me. Being vulnerable is difficult for so many people. I think vulnerability when you’re a mom is even harder to give in to.

As a mom, you are naturally programmed to be a strong pillar for your kids and family. If something happens, your kids look to you as the calming force surrounding and protecting them. Your children’s needs and wants are placed before your own- always. You may have only nibbled on a cracker the entire day and feel like you could gnaw your arm off in hunger, but, you always make sure your kids are fed. You may have used dry shampoo and perfume a few days too long (guilty!), but, your kids are always clean and bathed, moisturized, and snuggled in their jammies. You may be wearing the same yoga pants from a week ago (including the crusty food, boogers, and whatever else- you don’t wanna know!), but, your kids are always in clean clothes (even if they need 10 outfit changes a day).

As a mother, the things above are no brainers to us. It’s just what we do. I’m not saying we don’t complain about it sometimes. I know I’ve grumbled about how hungry I am and how much I just want to wash my grungy feeling hair. Even with our grumbles, our children’s needs are never sacrificed in place of ours. This is part of what we signed up for right?! We knew there’d be sleepless nights, late and missed meals, no time to shower or brush our teeth, but, that isn’t all that motherhood is! So, why do moms have such a hard time being vulnerable? Why do we battle so hard with asking for help or for a little time to ourselves? I know for myself, I wanted to be able to handle it all myself and I was able to do that (at least pretend! Ha!) for awhile. I hated asking for help with anything. I wanted to be like those moms who appear to “have it together” and can wake up, shower, do their hair, do their makeup, and get dressed in a cute, color coordinated outfit while their sweet baby plays contently the entire time. As the months went on, I was wearing myself down. Cue 10/11 months postpartum- I was seriously struggling with myself and my mindset. I was stressed, tired, frustrated, and sad. I didn’t feel normal.

To be honest, at 14 months postpartum, I STILL don’t feel “normal”. My thyroid is a little off and I have slight late PPD. I take homeopathic sepia to help with my moods and use essential oils that another awesome mama gave me who understood what I was going through (thanks Jennica! :]). I have ‘off’ days where I just can’t handle my emotions and would rather sit in bed and cry than face the day. I’m slowly starting to realize that having time for ME is just as important as making sure my girl is taken care of. I’m getting back into working out and eating better and the grandparents watch our girl while we go work out with some other people from church 3-4x a week. I have a spa day scheduled for next weekend (1.5 hours alllll to myself with no distractions!). I have a supportive husband who snuggles me closer on the days I’m struggling and gives me a little time to myself to recoup. And, even on the days that my girl is driving me up a wall, I am so thankful and blessed for her and her funny personality. 

As hard as it is, ask for help, fellow mamas. No one will look at you as less of a mother or a bad mom. It may be hard at first, but, you deserve to feel good and to be happy. If you need an hour or two to yourself so you can take a shower and take a breather, ask someone you trust to help with baby. You can’t give your baby the best if you aren’t at your best. It won’t be better overnight but over time, you’ll get there. You know yourself the best so treat yourself the best. 

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The dreaded “T” word…

The Dreaded T Word

TEETHING.

SomeEcards- Teething

I think it is the most despised, feared, and exhausting part of raising a kiddo. Did I mention despised? I did? Well I will say it again- DESPISED.

You know, starting out after labor and delivery, I was CONVINCED I was going to die of exhaustion with this new, tiny, adorable, and needy little human screaming at me every few minutes (okay…every couple hours) until I pulled a boob out. I was CONVINCED I would die of starvation because I was constantly feeding the new, tiny, adorable, and needy little human while rarely finding a grape or peanut for myself. I was CONVINCED I would die of being smelly because I felt like I never got a free second to shower.

Looking back, those days were a piece of cake. Delicious, yummy, cake.

Fast forward to about 4 months old…early teething sets in. Okay, we can handle this. We have PLENTY of things for this not-so-new, still tiny, even more adorable, and still needy little human to chew on. My finger? Sure! The dog’s rubber ball? Sure! (Oh wait..that wasn’t the best choice you say? Give me your address and I’ll send this little human to your house!) My toe? Um…sure…wait, no..this is weird…stop little human!

Fast forward to 8 months…STILL NO TEETH! What the heck!? Is this a joke? Is our kid normal? Are there even teeth in there!?!?! It seriously had to be a joke when the pediatrician said some babies don’t get a tooth until 12 months or more…so NOT funny. I’m running out of things for this not-new-anymore, much bigger, still super adorable, but SO GROUCHY little human to chew on. I swear these teeth will just pop up in the next day or so….they have to. All I can say is THANK YOU for teething necklaces and teething toys.

Fast forward to now…10.5 months. FINALLY the 1st tooth has appeared and punctured those tiny little gums. Now, this one tiny little tooth…was the cause of so much misery in this household that I seriously thought we had fallen to the depths of hell and we would never find our way back to earth. Yes, it WAS that bad. And side note, this was all while using a Baltic amber necklace…I have had nightmares about if we hadn’t ordered it…terrifying.

We are now working on pushing that second, tiny, demonic white thing through the gummy surface of our 10.5 month old girl’s mouth. Have I mentioned how much I have PRAYED for teeth? Yes, I pray for teeth- that makes me sound insane, I hear it now…no need to mention it…

If our girl wasn’t so cute when she isn’t screaming, throwing her entire body back in a temper, throwing toys, gnawing her toys down to nubs, or refusing to sleep for any length of time…I may have sent her to Shawnee Acres already (this isn’t a real place- I promise…it is a long told story in my family about good girls and boys who are naughty…they get sent to live at Shawnee Acres!)

So fellow parents, know you are not alone in this fight with tiny teeth. One day, we will come out victorious….once all the teeth come in. Until then, call me for a margarita date…I need it and you probably do too. :)