Monday, July 30, 2012

Things boy moms say.

A while back, my friend, Gina, wrote this post about being a boy mom.  I noticed recently that some absolutely ridiculous things often come out of my mouth on any given day.  I am sure moms of girls say some of these things too, but most of them sure seem boyish to me.  MckMama also has this idea called out of the mouths of moms that she posts about sometimes, which also sounds a bit like what I'm writing.

Below are some of my favorites that have come out of my own mouth recently...

Please do not ninja kick the refrigerator.

We do not eat candy dinosaurs for breakfast.

Yes you must wash your hands. Even if you only peed.

The walls are not for climbing. Yes, even if you're spiderman.

One day your brother will be big. And he will remember all of this.

Ok, I'm Marvel Girl. What's my super power?

Yes, even ninjas have to take baths. Yes, even though you went swimming today.

Yes, I do think old school Voltron is cooler than the new school Voltron.

Please put your penis back into your pants. Yes I know it's just a penis but not everyone wants to see it. Thank you.

No, there's not another baby in mommy's tummy. (grrr)

Oh yes, that is by far the coolest Lego headquarters I have ever seen.

If you don't decide to listen, I'm going to start taking Legos away

If you think you need to poop you need to do it now while we are in the bathroom.  Because we are here already.  Because it's easy to pee on the side of the road and much harder to poop.  Because you can't stand up and poop.  Because you just can't.  Trust me, ok?

Oh my gosh, I just saved your life. Please don't climb up there again.

Because we're not allowed in there without our shirt and our shoes.

Because he hasn't learned how to share yet, we have to teach him.

That's awesome that your poop looked like a long snake.  Thanks so much for telling me.  During dinner.

No son, toots never stop being funny.

Because I'm your mommy and it's my job to keep you safe.

I love you so much, little man.

Just in case you wondered how loud one house can be on a Monday evening, the below video will illustrate it.  I know, for an absolute fact, that when these boys are grown and move away from us, the silence will leave a bit of our hearts empty for this noise.  Unless we are in tour with the newest jam band that is.

Is it too early to dream about retirement?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Tips for Working and Breastfeeding

I attended our local LLL meeting last week and was so happy to see 3 new mommies there! Our evening meeting had been poorly attended the last few months, so I was so happy to meet some new moms.

A question came up about returning to work and pumping and finding the balance. I shared some things I learned and as I laid in bed with BBZ the other night (for over an hour, but that's another post for another day) I began writing a post in my head about things I learned (and am still learning) during both of my returns to work.  They aren't in a particular order :)

It's going to suck, but it will get better.
It really will suck.  And it really will get better.  I promise.  A friend who returned to work recently said during our conversations before she came back that she was waiting for someone to tell her it's not that bad. Well, no one told her that because it's not true. Going back to work after a baby, especially while breastfeeding, sucks. Our bodies are designed to be with our infants, so it's no surprise that it is hard to be separated. But when this is our path, we have to do what we have to do. And it really does get better. It's still hard for me and my sons are older, but it is much better than at the beginning.

The second week back is harder than the first.
For me, the first week was like syllabus week. No one really expected me to do much work, all the other moms kept checking on me, and I spent most of the time sorting through emails. It was the second week that reality set in. I'm a working mom. This is my life. It will be spent being separated from my children. It was a harsh reality that hit me that second week, and it made me feel very sad. The third week was when things started to get better.

Your baby will likely cry when he/she sees you.
Some moms think that something is wrong when they pick their baby up from the sitter and they cry. I read in one of the LLL books that it is common for a baby to cry when he sees mom at the end of the day. It was said that the baby holds it together all day dealing with the stress of the day and being separated only to let it all down when they see their safest person, mama. This still holds true for LBZ at 10 months old. That's one reason why I nurse him immediately when I pick him up. It's a wonderful way to transition from being separated to being together. Plus, that rush of hormones and holding the baby so close is the best way to let the stress and busyness of the day fade away...for both of us.
Let your pump be part of your work day, not a distraction from it.
I learned this with my second baby. With BBZ, I stayed strict to my pumping schedule of 10am and 2pm and would rarely vary this pattern. I made sure I was in my office during these times and even left my pump at my office overnight.  By the time 11 months passed I was so sick of pumping that I couldn't wait to stop! But with LBZ, I have a much fuller schedule and have to often adjust my pumping times. I take my pump everywhere. I pump everywhere. In my car, in bathrooms, in lactation rooms as a visitor in various buildings...everywhere. My pump is always with me, just like my purse is. It is so much a part of me that now, at 10 months, I am sad to see things starting to slow down.

Always ask if a building has a place to pump.
Since I bring my pump everywhere, I often pump in a random building where I have a meeting or a conference, etc. I have been really surprised by how many places have a lactation room open to employees and visitors. Most places are happy to find a place for me to pump comfortably. I have had to pump in a few large bathroom stalls, but this was rare and not really that big of a deal (to me anyway).

Don't freak out by a day of less supply.
This is so much easier said than done. I have found that every breastfeeding mother's biggest worry is not having enough milk. I have also found that I could have one day where I hardly pump anything and the next day I overflow the bottles I'm pumping into. I try and take one session at a time and let it go if I don't get as much as I hope to. I will often pump every 2 hours to make up for what I didn't pump.

Formula is not poison.
At some point during my pumping journey, I realized that the absolute worst thing that could happen is that I might have to give my baby formula. And formula really isn't poison. Lots of my friends chose formula for their babies. N had only formula and is one of the healthiest people I know. And it's not like one day I'm feeding my baby breast milk and the next he is drinking 100% formula, there is a lot of in between. I can try lots of things to increase supply such as pumping at night, every 2 hours, trying tea or cookies, etc. and even then I might have to mix an ounce or two or give one bottle to get by. This is not the end of the world. I am happy that I didn't have to give either of my boys formula, but understanding that if I did it would be ok, helped me relax when faced with the worry of not pumping enough.

Start building a stash while on maternity leave.
6 weeks was the magic time for me to start pumping. Nursing was established. I felt better, I was in a groove, and they were both taking a predictable nap in the morning so I knew I had some extra time to add a pump session. I had about 10-15 bags of milk when I returned to work, and I felt good about that. The more the better!

Freeze the milk in small amounts.
When I say small I mean small. Like 2-4 ounces. Frozen milk has to be used within 24 hours of defrosting, so keep those bags small to reduce wasting. Also, send very small bottles at the beginning for the same reason.  Breastmilk doesn't have to be thrown away in the same way formula does, but there are still precautions to take to make sure the baby gets the freshest milk.  If you send 2-4 ounce bottles at the beginning, it will give you peace of mind as the caregiver learns what your baby's feeding schedule will be. It didn't take long for my boys to learn that with me they nursed and without me they get bottles. The first few days during separation they took only about 2-4 ounces in a bottles all day.  By the end of the first week, this greatly improved.  They figured this out very quickly.

Let go of the guilt.
This is probably the hardest thing for any mother to do, whether working or not.  Guilt is a completely useless emotion.  It does nothing good for anyone involved.  To me, it seems to stem from uneasiness with a decision.  When I feel good about a decision and at peace with it, I carry no guilt with me regarding it.  I say this like I have it all figured out, but I struggle with being ok with my decision to work.  It was the topic of a very emotional time for me not that long ago, in fact.  Having a baby is hard work.  Being separated from that baby whether by choice or by necessity is really, really hard.  And it really is, in a way, against what nature intends, so I think something biological happens that triggers our intense need to be with our babies.  On the other hand, I honestly feel that I am a better mom because I work.  It is what works for me.

My job is a part of who I am.  It has taken a lot of thought, tears, a few schedule changes, and a whole lot of soul searching to find my peace as a working mom.  I doubt it is over since my happiness at work and my desire to be with my boys pulls me in both directions sometimes.  But I do the best I can to get by, and try to take one day at a time.

I am not an expert in this and I'm not trying to pretend that I am.  I'm sharing this as my own experience, which is likely different than many others.  But it might also be similar and maybe help someone else on their journey as a mom.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dancin' in the Rain

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain."
Vivian Greene

It hasn't rained but a few drops in weeks at our house.  Today it rained really hard for at least 30 minutes straight.  BBZ seemed as happy as our many trees were to see so much rain.  I felt like a kid watching him run and play as it stormed.  Oh how I love him and his love of life!

Our Crazy June Part Two.

To see Part One, Click here.

So, here it was, Sunday afternoon on the day we were supposed to leave for vacation.  We got home and were faced with the decision of whether or not to pack our car and head on a 10-day, 1500 mile road trip. 

I started to feel lousy.  I had been having diarrhea while LBZ was in the hospital, but I think adrenaline and a need to care for him drowned out my own symptoms.  I had a low-grade fever and began to worry that I had salmonella too.

We decided that we would go on vacation after all.  I packed very quickly and reluctantly since I was feeling badly, but we decided to do this after all.  We packed a lot after the boys went to bed.  I woke up the next morning with a plan.  I'd head to the urgent care first thing in the morning to see a doctor before we left.

I did and he took a sample for the lab to test for salmonella.  He also gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and told me not to take it until we got the results back, just in case it is negative.  I dropped the prescription off and headed home.  We packed our final things, packed up the boys, and we were off!  We picked up the prescription on our way out of town and were Florida bound!

About 20 minutes into the trip, BBZ began to fall apart.  It suddenly hit me that we did not prepare him for this drive at all.  We kept talking about going to the beach, but at no point did we talk to him about what the car ride was like.  The "when do we get to the beach?" questions began, and didn't stop for days.

The only way to describe his behavior on this trip is absolutely terrible.  I'm going to save most of the details of that and how we have re-visited our philosophy on positive discipline for another day.  Just know that it was, and continues to be, a very tough journey.

So anyway, let's talk about the fun parts of our vaca!!

First of all, I don't know what I would do if I had girls.  Boys (and peeing) are so easy.  When you gotta go, you gotta go!  We did this about 5 times during our trip.  He waits until the last minute and says I have to go NOW NOW NOW!!!

Our first stop was in Metropolis, Illinois.  They built this huge Superman statue and have a museum and store with a bunch of over priced Superman stuff.  BBZ loved it!

We walked to a nearby Dippin' Dots for a snack.  We were only 2 hours into the trip, but stopping often became the best plan of attack for keeping both boys pretty happy.  This was the first place that I had to change LBZ's diaper on the floor of a bathroom.  I cannot believe how many times I had to do that during our trip.  My opinion is that if the restaurant has a child's menu, they should have a changing table in the bathroom.  End. Of. Story.

Our next stop was Nashville, TN.  We planned to stay here for the night, so we went for a nice walk around downtown to wind down from the car ride.  We ended up in front of the capitol building on the top of this hill.  The view was gorgeous.

I have such fond memories of my family vacations spent in hotels.  Me and my sister, acting silly, in a hotel in our jam jams.  This picture reminds me of those days.  I hope we are also creating fond memories for our boys.

The next morning we walked around Nashville and visited the original Grand Old Opry.  This was something N was really excited about.  He has such a love of music.  It was so cool to be in a place where huge stars played.

Next stop was the Nashville Zoo!  We are unbelievably spoiled in St. Louis by having a free zoo.  This trip was the most money we spend on the whole trip (besides the hotel in Florida).  It was worth it though.  What a fun day!
They had a dinosaur exhibit that BBZ was super excited about.

They also had a huge playground for kids.  BBZ was climbing across this net saying to himself "I can do it, I can do it" cute :)

I could just num on these cheeks all day long!  It was a pretty hot afternoon, but we had lunch and sat in the shade and enjoyed the surroundings.

Then we got in the car for our next stretch.  We had reservations at this cabin in Oak Mountain State Park, just outside of Birmingham, Alabama.  It was so peaceful and lovely.  It was a perfect place to stay.  I wish we could have spent more time here, but the night was all the time we had.

These geese must be used to people feeding them.  We had some crackers that BBZ fed them.  He stood on a perch so they wouldn't nip at him, and as he threw the crackers, the geese bit each other in the butt to try and get the crackers.  BBZ thought that was just about the funniest thing to ever happen.

I love this one of my rough-housing boys :)

It was Wednesday morning and we were on our last stretch to Florida.  It was the longest stretch, so we were in for a long day of driving with the boys.  LBZ did really well the whole time.  BBZ did...not so well.  But we made it. 
I got a call from the urgent care center that confirmed what I thought...I had salmonella, too.  Since it had now been 9 days, I decided to take the antibiotic.  Within a couple of days I felt 100 times better.
This is the view from our hotel in Florida.  Finally, the beach!!!!

BBZ was unbelievable in the water.  He faced those waves with an amount of gusto I have never seen in him.  As uncomfortable as he is in a pool sometimes, I was really surprised by how willingly he ran toward those waves and laughed hysterically as they knocked him down into the ocean.  It was so great to see him this happy.  The absolute best part of the trip for him was being in the ocean.  It was the happiest I had seen him since we left on Monday.

Oh and my sweet little Lu.  He was also quite happy on the beach.  He did tend to eat sand, and when he got so tired that he wanted to nap he was very unhappy that his little fingers were covered in sand so that when he put them into his mouth he tasted and felt that grainy sand.  But other than that, he loved the water and the beach.

BBZ was pretty crabby about a family photo, so this was the best we could do :)
We built a lovely sand castle.  It's hard to see because the sand is so white!

I love Instagram.  It helps someone like me, who is clueless about photo editing, add cool effects to my photos.  I love this one of me and BBZ :)

When BBZ was 16 months old, he got tubes in his ears.  At his 3-year doctor appointment the tubes were still in place.  In February of this year, the doctor said they had fallen out and were in his ear canal.  While we were sitting in the hotel in Florida, BBZ was watching TV and said something in his ear tickled.  I watched him pull this out.  I am so happy that I got to see it!  It's bigger than I imagined it would be.

So that's it for Florida.  The wedding was on Friday and I had both boys by myself since N was in the wedding.  A friend held LBZ during the ceremony so I could focus on keeping BBZ busy (and relatively quiet) during the ceremony.  It was right on the beach and it was beautiful.  There was a cocktail hour close to the ceremony before the reception that was held at another hotel.  BBZ did not do well while there.

I decided to take the boys to a restaurant where we saw a play place the day before.  It actually worked out perfectly.  It was right next to the hotel where the reception was and it gave BBZ a chance to be somewhere where he could really be a kid.

LBZ ended up falling asleep at the reception and I really wanted to stay.  BBZ was exhausted by 9:30pm, but we stretched him to about 9:45pm.  He fell asleep instantly when we hit the car.

The next day (Saturday) we got up and hit the road.  We planned to stay a couple of days in Jackson Mississippi, but we decided to change our reservations to just one night since we were all read to be home.

BBZ did 100 times better on the way home.  I think he was better prepared for the drive and was also ready to be home.

Jackson is not a very happy city.  In fact, where we stayed downtown it was a little scary.  N and BBZ wanted to go search for ice cream and the concierge was hesitant to send them walking through downtown.  It reinforced our decision to head home the next day.

N did find this nice cafe that had ice cream with their pie.  The place was packed and the woman tried to let them not pay, but he did, of course :)

Our last stop on our way home was where it all Memphis, Tennessee.  We first ate at The Flying Saucer, which is one of the places we went during that first trip to Memphis.  It was funny being there on a Sunday morning.  They had a huge bloody mary bar and had a hard time finding a kids menu.  I ended up ordering a pita sandwich with cucumber, tomatoes, hummus and all kinds of deliciousness, which was perfect to share with LBZ.

This is at one of my favorite junk stores, right on Beale Street.  It was fun having the boys in a place N and I have been to so many times.
We ended up buying the boys' first instruments there.  A slide flute for BBZ and a rhythm egg for LBZ.  Their first instruments are from Memphis.  That seems appropriate.

And no trip to Memphis is complete without a visit to the ducks at the Peabody hotel.  BBZ was impressed and tried to hypnotize the ducks with his new slide flute.

Finally a decent family photo!  It's not perfect, but I'll take what I can get.

I love this picture of N and LBZ on the streets of Memphis.

It reminds me of this one, which was taken nearly 9 years ago on the streets of Memphis :)

It was a whole lot of craziness that led up to our first official family of four vacation, but it was sure worth it!  We got home on Sunday evening and my sister and her family were at my house beginning their vacation.  They had an unfortunate turn too.  My sister tripped down the stairs at my house and broke her foot!  We went to my work on Monday and got a wheelchair, which helped her get around, but what a pain!

Since 4th of July was on a Wednesday, I took Tuesday off too and didn't have to go back to work or school until Thursday!  We had a nice few days off with my sister's family and they headed home on Wednesday.

I mentioned BBZ was a bit of a nightmare.  I think a lot of the reason for his behavior is that he just really likes his daily routine.  On Thursday I took the boys to school as usual.  I pulled into the lot and into the parking space.  As a put the car in park and began to shut it off, BBZ says to me "Oh mommy, I am so happy to be back here!

I love that he loves his school so much.  That's money well spent, friends!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Little Brother Z is 10 Months Old!

Dear LBZ,

Today, my littlest boy, you are 10 months old!  The time is just flying by.  We will soon have your first birthday, then you'll be 18 months old, then before we know it you will no longer be the baby we still see.  You will grow and change and walk and talk and become a little boy...just like your brother.

It is inevitable, my sweet baby Lu, but it is also so fun to watch!  You are growing and changing everyday.  I read your 9-month update and realized how much your personality changed.  It's now very clear to me why.  You were so sick, and we didn't yet know.

Being in the hospital with you was so scary.  It reminded me so much of your brother's hospitalization on the same floor at the same hospital almost exactly 3 years earlier.

This smiling face should have told me that you were going to be just fine.

This was probably the worst of it all.  You hated this IV.  It was probably better to be in your foot than in your hand, but as you gained your strength back you so wanted to stand and explore, but this would not let you.  You were so frustrated!  And quite pleased when it was finally time to take it out.

This sure doesn't look like a sick little boy!  You were already on the mend and ready to eat!  You are eating so much food.  I can really hardly believe the amount of solid food you eat.  There is nothing you won't try.  I was circling food on the school menu that you can have, and now I'm simply crossing out what you cannot have (which is really just oranges and cookies).

See how happy you were to have that IV out?  This was just a short time before we left the hospital.

Your brother has been picking on you, and you are quickly learning how to get him back.  You sometimes pull his hair and often yell really loudly when he takes your toys.  When I take your bath toys away when it is time to get out of the tub you get SO MAD!  I hate to make you so mad, but it's also fun to see you show so much personality and begin to show us your preferences.

Food, food and food!  You put on 1.5 pounds in 2 weeks after you healed from the salmonella poisoning.  You bounced back with a huge appetite and haven't let up yet!

You weren't sure about this car cart at the grocery store, but it didn't take long for you to decide that you liked it.  Having BBZ hanging all over you probably didn't help :)

And, of course, the obligatory spaghetti picture.  I made my dad's spaghetti sauce recipe for a friend's birthday dinner, and it definitely got your stamp of approval.  I just cannot believe how much you eat!  You still nurse just as much too.  I wonder if you'll actually break the 20 pound mark at your 1-year appointment!  We shall see...

You still say the same words...mama, dada, ball, bye and more.  You love to wave, to clap, to bang toys together and to dance!  You wiggle your body to the rhythm and it's so fun to watch.  You also pull up on everything and walk along any surface you can while holding on.  You fall a lot and have the bruises to prove it!  You also managed to pull a wine bottle off of your daddy's wine rack that landed right on your foot.  I knew that was going to happen :)

You wake at least 2 times each night, which has your mam exhausted.  I just feel luck that it isn't at the exact same time as the 2 times your brother wakes up every night.  Sleep is not an awesome subject at our house, but we manage.  Yawn.

Each day is an adventure.  Each day I learn something new about you and about who you are becoming.  Each day, I love you even more.