January 24, 2015

Hello Fresh, Helllllo laziness!

One of the things I continually say I'm going to do is to meal plan. It's something I continually suck at, and am always impressed when people actually stick to it (ahem Jenny/Brandy). There are lots of companies popping up that are great for people like me, where fresh food is delivered to your door with recipes and pre measured ingredients. I think these things are especially brilliant for couples who both work, but realistically it's cheaper for me to grocery shop myself and make our own meals. However, several months ago my friend Brooke was generous enough to share a Blue Apron referral allowing me to get three free meals with no strings attached. Well, the strings are that you have to create an account, but you can cancel at any time. If you forget to cancel, you will be charged for the next weeks food delivery like I was, but for the price I paid it was like getting six meals for half the cost and totally worth it. But then I got cheap and canceled my account.

When we moved I heard about a deal Blue Apron was having and signed up again (new address this time - it's like I was a new customer!) and then I cancelled my account after the discount ended. Companies probably hate people like me. But oh well, it's the risk they take offering these deals. My friend Michelle is living with me right now while she house hunts and we thought it would be great to sign up for a few of these deals, enjoy a few meals, and then either cancel or suspend our accounts. We tried Plated, also really enjoyed it, and most recently Hello Fresh. Some recipes are better than others, and while it doesn't take away the task of actually making the meal, I must say it's a lot more fun to do when everything is all measured out and packaged so nicely. Not to mention I don't have to take the kids to the grocery store!

Hello Fresh offers $40 off for anyone I refer with the code: 6YDUFL so I figured I would share it here, in case anyone is interested in trying it out (and promptly canceling your account should you not want to pay full price the following week). The meals are about $10 per person (for most of these sites that seems to be the average cost), so you're looking at paying around $60 for three 2-person meals. Which is certainly not a bad deal, but not as cheap as grocery shopping yourself. but with the $40 off - it was worth it to me to get that first week of three meals. I've found the meals from all companies to be more than enough for two adults, Finn, and sometimes even enough for left overs. Mary also eats off my plate, so you get a lot for your money.

I'm not getting compensated by Hello Fresh for this blog. Well, that's kind of a lie - I mean, I do get a $10 credit for people who use that referral code, but I've suspended future deliveries on my account for now anyway and just shared on here because it's something I've enjoyed and have been impressed by. Plus, I've been just as impressed with Hello Fresh as I have with Plated and Blue Apron, so I really don't have any loyalties to one over the other (I think Blue Apron has the best packaging, but the meals have all been fairly equal and delicious). They all have vegetarian options as well as different menu options for each week's delivery.

So feel free to give it a try (referral link here and above), but if you forget to cancel your account before the next delivery, don't blame me! I barely remember myself!


January 22, 2015

The TMI Post on Breastfeeding

Disclaimer: This is just a post on my experiences with breastfeeding. I'm pro breastfeeding and pro formula feeding and pro give-your-kid-whatever-is-best-for-you-guys-feeding.

When I was pregnant with Cale I had planned to breastfeed. I honestly hadn't done much research on the topic, but just knew it was something I wanted to at least try to do initially. When I was still laboring with him, a nurse told me that my milk would come in and I started to cry (again/more) as it just seemed so unfair. Shouldn't my body know that there would be no baby to feed? And sure enough a few days after giving birth my milk came in and I dealt with the very painful and emotional task of stopping it. But getting a glimpse of what my body was capable of helped solidify my desire to breastfeed when/if we had another baby.

Fast forward to Finley's arrival - breastfeeding proved not to be as natural as I had hoped. He struggled to latch, which stressed me out. Having half a dozen different people in the hospital squeezing and grabbing my boobs and trying to adjust the baby didn't help either. When we got home I ended up using a nipple shield for a couple weeks to get him to latch, then would take it away until he gradually didn't need it. It was a life saver, but I remember before leaving the hospital the lactation consultation who recommended it, also told me not to use it too much as the baby might not get enough milk. It was conflicting advice and caused further worry, when in the end it ended up being a great help. It took about two weeks for us to get the hang of it and in that time there were a lot of tears (mostly from me). It was painful and very emotional time for me. I would read things like, "if you're doing it right, it shouldn't be painful" and that's just a bunch of crap. Breastfeeding IS painful. At least initially. Like nipple cracking, toes curling, agonizing pain. And then it gets better which thank God it does, otherwise no one would do it!

When I went back to work Finn was two month's old, I was able to pump enough for the bottles he needed at daycare, but eventually he started drinking more and I was unable to produce more milk despite nursing him before and after daycare and on weekends. I had a freezer supply built up, but around 4 months I was gradually dipping in to it more and more and knew it wouldn't last long. So I started taking fenugreek and did see a small increase in my supply, but eventually that wasn't enough. I started drinking even more water, upping my calorie intake, eating more protein and consuming foods considered supply boosters (like oatmeal), pumping more (to include in the middle of the night if Finn was sleeping), drinking tea made for nursing moms, etc.  I even downloaded an app of a crying baby and looked at pictures of Finn while pumping as that is said to help trigger let down. I would try my best to relax and visualize my body making enough milk, but even with all that, it was still was really had to keep my supply up. I was really happy when we made it to six months of Finn being exclusively breastfeed, but new that I would most likely have to start supplementing.

I had contacted the local La Leche League (via phone and email) and sadly never heard back, but read about a prescription, Reglan, that helps produce more milk, so got a prescription filled and while it did help, the side effect (at least for me) was that it made me SO tired. Not really the greatest thing when you are working full time! But I was grateful for the increased supply and we were able to reach seven months until I had to start supplementing with formula.

Formula is not a bad thing, but this was really hard for me. I wanted to have enough milk for my baby and just didn't. While it was far less extreme or devastating than losing Cale, it was another way my body had failed me and it felt so defeating. Even when I would nurse Finn, he would cry and get antsy waiting for let down and when it did occur he would try to get more milk and there simply wasn't enough and he would cry some more. He became far more satisfied after a full bottle than he would after nursing. His bottles were a mixture of breastmilk and formula, but more and more formula as time went on. When I would pump, I would produce less and less and by ten months I, very reluctantly, threw in the towel. By eleven months he drank the last of my freezer supply and was solely on formula (and table food) until switching to whole milk shortly after he turned one.

When Mary came along my goal for breastfeeding was not necessarily to go longer than I had with Finn, but to stress less about it and to stop breastfeeding on our terms - not because I had no choice. It's been a little over thirteen months and I'm so happy to still be nursing her.

And while it has gone immensely better this time around, and I'm sure a large part of that is because I am not working, I still have had to take efforts to keep my supply up - extra pumping, fenugreek, and lots and lots of water. I started building a freezer supply early on and at its' peak I had 240 ounces frozen, something that gave me a sense of security should my milk supply dry up as it did with Finn.

I do feel my supply is dwindling a bit, but I have introduced milk, so don't stress about Mary's calorie intake the way I did with Finn. The only thing I stress about at this point is that I won't reach my goal and I'll have to stop breastfeeding because I run out of milk, not because Mary or I lose interest. Only time will tell, but for now I'm taking it day by day and grateful we've gotten to this point.

I miss the sweet hand clasps during nursing. Now there's usually a leg in my face.


January 15, 2015

Cheesy Church Pictures

A couple months ago our church had a sign up for directory pictures. Miles would not be home when the pictures were taken (something very low on the list of things he's bummed to miss out on I'm sure), but I decided I would take them with the kids as at the very least, it's a free picture (you get a free 8x11 copy of the picture they use for the directory).

Growing up we had the annual Olan Mills Church pictures that were sometimes nice, sometimes cheesy, so I didn't go in to this expecting much. In fact, I was running late and threw the kids in some random clothes that were picked out minutes before we had to leave. Mary had nothing to match Finn - the monogrammed shirt she wore had pink stitching, but I put her in orange leggings for some strange reason (probably because I was running late), Finn needed a haircut, or at the very least a comb through his hair, so WHATEVER, we were all a little bit of a hot mess, but that really only contributed to the overall comical result that ensued.

So this is the picture they are using for the directory. Which isn't horrible, but it's certainly not going up in the house (we don't need my forehead vein on display). There were two ladies taking the pictures. One who was pretending to scare Finn (as seen in his expression) the other who was clearly not doing a good job amusing Meatball. I love her expression because I suspect it's similar to what Miles' would have been - one of, "I am not partaking in this nonsense."

Then they took this picture which is borderline cute, but the kids are looking one place, I'm looking the other, and again - why couldn't Finn's mom comb his hair!?

Then they started to get a little corny. They wanted me to lay on the ground and put the kids on my back! I didn't have the heart to say, "there's no way I'll buy this picture" and fortunately Mary started crying anyway, so they gave up on that, but eventually tried putting Mary on Finn's back. I think this picture BEGS to be recreated in 30 years. So really, you're welcome Finn and Mary for the opportunity.

They somehow managed to talk me in to purchasing the two with black backgrounds and I even put the above one up in the house as it just cracks me up. And they aren't old enough to be embarrassed yet.

January 9, 2015

More Monthly Mary!

Ok, so I went a little overboard with the monthly pictures. But people always say you don't take as many pictures of the second baby, and I had to prove that wrong since Mary isn't my second baby. It just always rubs me the wrong way when I hear that since numbering babies is complicated. I know what they mean though - with a subsequent child, you don't take as many pictures or document as much. I know this to be true as I'm the third child and when I was home last my sister and I looked through our baby books. Or should I say we looked through my brother and sister's baby book and read the one sentence in mine! And there definitely are areas I have slacked for Mary and didn't for Finn, so I don't give my mom too much of a hard time over it all. But nonetheless, these little monthly pictures were just really important to me.

Aside for the rainbow leggings, I wanted to take pictures on a quilt Mary was given as I plan to frame the collage of her monthly pictures and hang in her nursery since the quilt matches her decor. Putting this together makes me wish I took them all at the same time of day, or knew how to take good pictures in manual mode. but it was tricky because not all the walls are the same - these pictures are from three different houses, so I had to match the backdrop as best I could.

I also went overboard on ordering different baby legs, so had to take those monthly pictures as well. Some of her leggings coordinated with holidays that month, otherwise I just put her in a pair I thought was cute. That's it - I cut myself off at three monthly pictures as that was hard enough to keep up with!


January 4, 2015

Things I'm Going to (try to) Do in 2015

In no particular order:

1. Read more. I did great with this was a goal on my 30 before 30 list. Then read one book since then. So, one book in nearly a year. ONE. I'm totally embarrassed and ashamed of this fact. But I've already started one this year, The Language of Flowers, I got a library card at a new library close by, and am motivated to read at least a couple books a month.

2. Run a marathon. So my first, and only, marathon was in 2005. I said I would never do another, but in November when I ran the Savannah Rock n Roll half marathon, I accidentally signed up for the full in November 2015. But then I'm really never running another again. Truth be told, this was going to be a goal of mine anyway - to run a marathon after having kids and beat my first time. Which will be doable if I train.

3. Train for my races.

4. Get to sleep earlier. 

5. Finish the kids' baby books.

6. Order Cale's birth certificate (CBRS). I tried doing this in 2010. But they sent me back the fetal death certificate which I already have. But Georgia does produce a "Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth" and I want one.

7. Spend less time on my phone.

8. Be intentional - Do what I say I'm going to do. One of my favorite qualities about Miles (and arguably an obnoxious one too) is that he always does what he says he's going to do. Like if he says he's going to workout over the weekend - he actually does it! If there's something, big or small that I plan on doing, I want to put my money where my mouth is and actually do it.

9. Speaking of money, partake in a Financial Fast like I did last year, thanks to the suggestion of my friend Brooke. I think I can be more financially savvy/frugal so I also plan to give up Target for Lent. There's some irony in there about giving up my sanctuary in order to get closer to God. 

10. Be more timely. Which means I should stop blogging and go to bed (see #4) so that we can be on time to school in the morning. 

11. Speaking of school - start a prerequisite for nursing school. Much more about this one later.

Anyone have any good ones that are unique resolutions you haven't had before? Twenty bucks says half of these make it on next year's list.