Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I have been exclusively pumping breast milk for my son since he was about 3 months old, and I exclusively breastfed him up till that time. For some reason he went on a nursing strike at about 2 ½ months and never started nursing again no matter what I tried. I had the help of a lactation specialist. I read every blog and article I could find about breastfeeding and nursing strikes. They all told me to just be patient and usually after a week or so my baby should go back to nursing normally. Well I waited, and was as patient with him as I could be, and after 3 weeks of every nursing session ending with both of us in tears, I gave up! I realized that he was never going to nurse happily again. We both were miserable, my husband and daughter were unhappy because my son and I were always stressed and crying. It just wasn’t going to work anymore.

I was really upset about it for a while. I had wanted it to work out so bad. I felt like I had failed him and myself. I cried almost every day for a week. I missed my time with him. That was the one thing that only I could give him. When everything was going good, it was my favorite time of the day. I did not want to give it up, but I also didn’t want to keep stressing about it.

 I was only able to nurse my daughter for 6 weeks before I had to give it up with her. I was so determined that I would make it work no matter what. But that apparently was not the plan.

I thought long and hard about what I was going to do now. I knew we couldn’t really afford formula, and I just didn’t want him to have it. I didn’t have any problems producing milk at all! I had way more than he needed.
I had read an article about a woman who was pumping exclusively for her baby. At that point she had been doing it well over a year! So after reading up on it some more, I decided that I would give it a try. If it became too much or too stressful, I told myself I would stop.

Then I became determined to make this work. I had failed at being able to nurse my son for his first year, so I had to make this work! I was a stay at home mom now, I didn’t need to deal with pumping at work. I could totally do it, right?!

Well it definitely wasn’t easy, but I am proud to say that I did it! On June 4th my baby boy will be turning a year old and I am still pumping!

In the beginning, when I was pumping every 2 hours, I felt like it was taking over my life. I had to plan everything around when I could pump. Then I would remind myself that I would have to do the same even if I was still nursing, so what’s the big deal!

I couldn’t think about how much longer I had to this for or I would get so discouraged. I took it day by day, and learned new tricks as I went. I am very proud of myself for sticking with it and not giving up! But I can honestly say I won’t miss it at all!

I hate pumping. There is really nothing to like about it. The only good thing is that my son is getting my milk, that is made for him, instead of formula and it has saved us a ton of money! But that is about it. And as the last pumping day nears, I can’t help thinking about all of the things I will get to do and enjoy again without the burden of pumping numerous times a day.

  • I get to wear a normal bra. The word hate does not accurately describe how I feel about nursing bras! They are so expensive and yet they are still so uncomfortable and as unflattering as a cheap sports bra. And you even have to wear a “sleep bra” at night! The first thing I am going to do is go buy me a couple new, comfortable bras and throw away my nursing bra. Because if for some reason I decide I want to have another child in a few years, I can guarantee I won’t be able to fit into that one again!

  • No more leaking. I can’t wait until I no longer have to wear those dumb nursing pads. No more waking up in the morning with a big wet circle on my shirt because I forgot to put the pads back in the terrible sleep bra.

  • I won’t have to plan my entire day around when I have to pump. My days will be mine again! The only thing I’ll be scheduling around will be my son’s nap times. If I want to be gone all day long, I can be.

  • I can go to bed earlier and sleep later. I always have to pump before I go to bed. And now that I am only pumping three times a day, I have to pump for 35-45 minutes or even longer sometimes. Now I’ll be able to go to bed an hour earlier, and sleep in as long as the kids let me.

  • I can take any medication I want. No more having to worry about whether it’s bad for my son. I can take all the decongestants, pain pills, and cough syrups I want.

  • I’ll have more time to exercise. Unfortunately, for me, it has not been easy losing weight. The milk making has not been enough for me to keep the weight off. But all of my free time has been dedicated to pumping. Now I won’t have an excuse not to exercise.

  • I’ll never have to look at my pump stuff again! I think the day I can put all of my pumping stuff away and not have to look at it every day will be cause for a celebration!

If you’re a pumping momma and need some tips, you can read my post about how to make pumping work for you here. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Bucket List

Everyone has one. Even if you've never actually written it down, you most likely have a list of things you want to try or do and places you would like to visit. 

So, today I have finally decided to put mine down on paper and hopefully one day be able to cross them off! I am going to share with you all my top 5 on my bucket list.

1.    Visit Ireland- I have always been fascinated with the beautiful, mystical castles in Ireland. Ever since I found out that most of my name comes from the Irish, I have wanted to take a trip there. The beautiful colors, and waters. It seems it would be such a magical place to visit. 


photo from google images

2.     Alaskan Cruise- I have always wanted to go on a cruise and I want to visit Alaska, so why not kill two birds with one stone! I love the beauty of Alaska. It’s, for the most part, untouched by humans. And it is also pretty isolated, which suits me well since I’m not a big fan of crowds. And I mostly just want to go on a cruise to say that I have!

photo-google images

3.    The Northern Lights- Okay, really, who doesn’t want to see the Northern Lights? This has been my dream since I first heard about it when I was a kid. I don’t think I need to explain much why this is on my top 5!

photo-google images

4.     Whale Migration- Seeing the Humpback Whale Migration in Hawaii would be amazing. There is nothing more awe-inspiring than watching nature at its finest. It would be so awesome to be able to witness that first hand!

photo-google images

5.    Yellowstone- In case you couldn’t tell, I love nature! Being able to see the Earth like this and see the animals in their real habitat would be so great! I know that many people have visited Yellowstone many times, but this would be a huge deal if my family could go here!

photo-google images

Well, there you have it! My top 5 on my bucket list. This is the first time I have ever put it in writing and it has definitely made me want to make sure that someday I can say I have seen all of them! 

What are some of the things on your bucket lists? Anyone have the same as mine?

I would love to hear everyone else’s lists, and maybe any you have been able to cross off! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Family Craft Day-DIY Sharpie Mugs

Our family has started a new tradition where all of the women get together and do something crafty once a month. We each take turns hosting and coming up with a craft to do. It has been a lot of fun and we have done many different crafts!

Well March was my month to host a craft, and after searching for something cheap and easy to do, my friend and fellow blogger Daniela at Put a Bird On It posted about an awesome DIY sharpie mug! I loved this idea and thought it would be perfect for my craft day! It's super cheap and so easy even my four year old could do it!!!

I told everyone to bring a mug and I provided some sharpies in many colors. I also made sure to have some paper available for everyone to practice what they wanted to draw first. 

It was super easy and everyone had a lot of fun personalizing their own mugs. It only cost me about $10 for two packs of sharpies and some alcohol wipes. (The alcohol wipes worked great for cleaning before hand since there were quite a few of us, and for erasing mistakes or smudges!) 

After everyone drew on their mugs we put them all together and took some pictures. Then I told them all the instructions for baking their mugs at home. (It would have taken a little too long for them to stay and do it at my house.)

I love the way they all turned out! We have some very talented women in our family! I am so glad that I found this craft idea at Put a Bird On It!

My daughter had a lot of fun doing this craft! I bet you can't pick out which one belongs to her!

 For the full tutorial on how to make your own sharpie mug visit Daniela's post here!

Monday, March 31, 2014

My Life Changing Decision!

It's been a little while since I have posted anything. For the last month I have been focusing primarily and me and my family. We have had a lot going on and I felt that my mind and attention needed to be with them. Although the changes are not quite over yet!

The biggest, and probably the best, thing that has happened is that I got baptized in the LDS Church! This was a big step for me. I have always had a more agnostic view when it came to religion. My parents allowed me believe whatever I chose to. But I never really seriously thought about it much. 

My family is a mix a religious and non-religious people but have been supportive in my decision. My husband's family are mostly all active members, but have never pressured me. Although they have offered to bring me along to church if I ever decided to go. 

One day my Sister-in-law gave our info to the missionaries after having them over for dinner one evening. She told me she thought, after giving them our info, she would just leave it at that and whatever happens, happens. So, of course they showed up at our house one afternoon, and told us some members in the Magna ward sent them.So we immediately knew who that was! At this point my husband was considered "inactive" because it had been awhile since he had gone to church. They asked if they could set a time to come back and just talk and get to know us. Jake reluctantly agreed, since we were, at first, a little irritated. We knew now that they knew where we lived there would be no way they would leave us alone again! 

We had a couple meetings and I agreed to continue and at least listen to their teachings. I figured the best way to really decide for myself was to learn and make an educated decision. So we continued meeting with the Sister Missionaries once a week, and every time they would bring over someone from the ward for us to meet. 

I think it was after the third meeting that they came and told me they wanted to set a goal date to work towards me getting baptized. I was kind of shocked that they were talking about me getting baptized already! I had only been to church once and I was a little uncertain. And the date they picked was only about 6 weeks away! But I agreed to set the day as a goal, and if I didn't feel okay with it when that day came I could always push it back or just say no. 

However, as it came closer to that day, I had decided that I was okay with it. I had finally decided that this was what I needed. I finally felt like I belonged somewhere and that I had a purpose. I have always felt like I didn't belong and recently I had been feeling like I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing with my life. Like I was just kind of coasting along. But after going to church a few times and meeting the wonderful people in our ward, I finally felt that I was in the right place.

So I was baptized on Saturday, March 15th, 2014 by my wonderful and supportive Husband! Almost the whole ward showed up, as well as a few of my family and friends that I invited. It was a wonderful experience, and I am so happy that I was able to share it with my Husband. 

We have been to church every Sunday since, and I can definitely tell the difference in my family. I feel that we are all happier and my Husband and I have become closer. I am so thankful for all of the support and encouragement I have received from all of my family and friends. And I am so thankful for all of my new friends and my ward family!  

Friday, February 28, 2014

Peanut Butter Lover's Day

Peanut Butter Lovers Day is  Saturday, March 1st!
This is definitely a day to celebrate! I love peanut butter! Reese’s peanut butter cups are my absolute favorite candy!

So I’m going to share my favorite ways to eat peanut butter. First is my favorite dessert centered around the delicious staple.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Trifle

I think the name says it all. This is the most delectable dessert dish I have ever made. It combines peanut butter, brownies, whipped cream and pudding. You really can’t get any better than that. But, boy is it rich. Just a small serving and you feel like you've eaten a whole carton of ice cream or something.
The first time I made this for a family function everyone went crazy for it! I made it for our July 4th party and have been asked to make it every year since. There is rarely anything left by the end of the night.
I am going to share with you all, this delicious, heavenly recipe!

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Trifle
1 Fudge Brownie mix (13x9 pan size)
1 pkg. (10 oz.) Peanut Butter Chips
2 pkgs (13 oz. each) Miniature peanut butter cups

4 cups cold 2% milk
2 pkgs (5.1 oz. each) instant vanilla pudding
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tsp vanilla extract
3 cartons (8 oz. each) frozen whipped topping, thawed.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare brownie batter according to package directions; stir in peanut butter chips. Bake in greased 13x9 baking pan 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out with moist crumbs (do not over bake). Cool on wire rack; cut into ¾ inch pieces.
Cut peanut butter cups in half; set aside 1/3 cup for garnish. In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes (mixture will be thick). Add peanut butter and vanilla, mix well. Fold in 1-1/2 cartons of whipped topping.
Place 1/3 of brownies on bottom of a 5qt glass trifle dish, top with 1/3 remaining peanut butter cups. Spoon 1/3 pudding mixture over the top. Repeat layers twice. Cover with remaining whipped topping and; garnish with reserved peanut butter cups. Refrigerate until chilled.

Next up are my top 5 snack ideas using Peanut Butter.
         *Warning: Many of these would not be considered “healthy” snacks, but more of a treat to be eaten occasionally!

1              Peanut butter/chocolate chip dip: Just take a spoonful (or two) of peanut butter and put it in a bowl with a handful of chocolate chips. Then heat in the microwave until the peanut butter is melted but the chips are still semi solid (30-40 sec.). This can be eaten with just about anything, Apples (I like the green apples for a sweet and sour effect), Graham Crackers, Strawberries, etc. My daughter loves it when she sees me mixing this up.

2              Celery and Peanut Butter. This is an all-time favorite. My daughter and husband love these. Super easy to just spread some peanut butter on the celery and snack away. Great for a kids after school snack or I like to serve them when I make chicken salad sandwiches since I usually have some celery left over.

3              Peanut Butter and Honey sandwiches. My husband made fun of me the first time I made these. He had never heard of anyone making a sandwich out of just those two ingredients. But guess what? Now he is hooked! And since my daughter doesn’t like any jelly or jam, she requests this instead of PB&J. Peanut butter and honey make an awesome combination. You could even throw in bananas to make it a bit healthier!

4              Peanut butter on waffles/pancakes! Peanut butter tastes so good on pancakes and waffles. Especially if you make chocolate chip pancakes! This is our favorite breakfast!

5              Just a plain old spoonful of peanut butter! Who seriously has not done this? I have eaten just plain peanut butter off a spoon since I was a kid, and my daughter loves it, too. She often asks for a spoonful of peanut butter to snack on.

Well those are my favorite peanut butter recipes and snacks. They may not all be super healthy, but it’s nice to have a treat every once in a while. We are definitely going to have at least one of these to celebrate this awesome day!
What are your favorite recipes/snacks using peanut butter, healthy or indulgent?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

5 Goals Update

So it has been one month since I posted about my “5 Goals to a Happier Life in 2014”, and I wanted to give an update on my progress with those.
Some things I have done pretty well on and others, not so much. But it’s only been one month and I think any progress is good!

So I posted that I wanted to lose 30lbs by the end of June and I had set a goal to lose about 5 pounds a month. Well I FAILED! In January I didn’t lose a single pound. I was lazy and didn’t even really try. So to give myself a little more motivation I decided to try a reward and penalty. For every month that I meet my goal, I get to reward myself with a new outfit. And every time I don’t reach my goal I then have to divide my remaining weight for the month to the remaining months. So since I didn’t lose any weight last month, I now have to lose either 10 pounds this month or more realistically 6 pounds a month for the next 5 months. I have also changed my mindset of why I want to lose weight. I’m not just doing this for me. I’m also doing this for my wonderful husband, because he deserves to have a beautiful, healthy, happy and confident wife. Not that he doesn’t tell me I’m still beautiful, but I definitely don’t feel it!

Now, I have done much better when comes to my goal of paying our bills on time and sticking to a budget. I have gotten on a schedule of paying the next month’s bills ahead of time to avoid them being late. Since we literally live payday to payday (more like payday to 5 days before payday!) it has been difficult to get all of our bills paid on time. But anytime we have some extra money I make sure to pay some bills ahead of time. That way we aren’t so short on money at other times.

I had set a goal to work on my relationship with my husband, and this has definitely not been easy! Mainly due to the fact that we live on completely opposite schedules. You see, he works the graveyard shift. So he goes in to work @ 9 pm and doesn’t usually get home until after 8 am and he works 5-6 days a week. So that leaves a 1-2 days a week where we get to be together after the kids go to bed. And usually by that time we are both so tired we don’t have to energy to even stay up and watch a movie! We ended up not having our monthly date night in January, but we are going to try to have at least two this month. We had a spontaneous date last Saturday. We were deciding what to have for dinner and decided to ask my MIL to babysit for a couple hours. We went to Costa Vida for the first time and loved it!! It was so nice to have some adult alone time!! Hopefully we will be able to go on another date next payday.

For my cleaning goal, I started a weekly schedule. I’m not super great at following it every day, but it has definitely helped me keep the cleaning manageable. I have one main cleaning chore that I do each day, then I make sure to do the dishes and de-clutter the front room every night. I have gotten better at making the Princess pick up her toys every night to help. I also made sure to leave the weekends free of specific chores and one day during the week to use as a sort of “make-up” day so that if for some reason I didn’t get one or more of the chores done I have time to get them done before the weekend. But I can also use that day as a “day off” if I need it, too. It has also helped with my motivation that the missionaries come over every Saturday. So I have to at least clean on Saturday if not any other day.

I have been able to spend more one on one time with my daughter. We have played her games like, Hungry Hippos, Candy Land, and Cupcake Party. As well as computer games on I have some folder games that she loves to play and we started going to the library. The games have turned into a lesson for both of us about patience. She has very little of it if she has any difficulty at all, and it drives me insane when she just gives up the first time she gets something wrong.

So all in all, I think I have done pretty well at keeping up with my goals. There is still plenty of room for improvement and I plan to continue working hard on it! I think my main focus for February is going to have to be my weight loss. I really don’t want to have to add on more pounds to the next few months again!!!

I will continue to give monthly updates about my progress. Hopefully this will help keep me motivated so I can have something good to report!!!

Did you make any goals for yourself or even your family?

How did your first month go?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ice Castles-Midway, Utah

Last Saturday our family took a trip up to Midway to see the Ice Castles! We all bundled up in our hats, scarves and gloves, and coats, then headed out. I brought a snow suit for our baby and he stayed nice and warm!

I cannot believe the amount of work it must have taken to make that! It was really pretty! They had lights placed in some of the ice structures to make it glow, and they had carved out little mazes and tunnels. I guess there was one tunnel that ended in a slide, but we didn't go in it because the line was pretty long. But my daughter found a little mini tunnel for the kids and she had fun sliding through it.

When we arrived my daughter went to see the Princesses that we there. I guess they were singing a song from “Frozen”. And inside the Castle they had made “Olaf” the snowman. The slot canyons were pretty fun to walk through. But it was pretty crowded so it tended to get a little jammed up. There was also a piano in the middle that was covered in ice and looked really pretty.

My daughter had a lot of fun and my son was even intrigued by it all. He didn't fuss at all the whole time we were there. He just kept looking all around while being cuddled into Daddy’s chest. Unfortunately strollers don’t really fit due to the small spaces and the mushy and slippery ground, so we had to just carry him. I don’t think he minded and my husband definitely didn't mind. He said he was kept pretty warm by holding him!

When we left, the Princesses were gone but there were fire dancers out front. The parking was not super great. You had to just find a spot on the street on one of the neighborhood streets around it. So be prepared for a little bit of a walk to and from it!

All in all it was a really fun family outing and could be fun to start doing as maybe a yearly tradition.
Here are some of the pictures I took…..

Princess with her Auntie Annie

Slot Canyon

Slot Canyon

She found a little cave

Grandma & Grandpa with the Princess

Here is the piano

This is a one of my favorite pics

The kiddie tunnel

Grandma's phone flash was super bright!

Fire Dancers

Friday, January 24, 2014

We are all Moms- Can't we all just get along

I have had to opportunity to experience the best (and the worst) of both worlds when it comes to working or staying home with children. With my first child I had to work. At first just part-time then I went to full-time later on. Then with my second child, I couldn’t afford to work. I know that sounds silly, but when childcare for two children costs as much as I was bringing home, it didn’t make sense for me to work just to pay for childcare. So here I am now as a stay-at-home mom.

But until you have experienced firsthand both worlds, you cannot possibly and reasonably understand the challenges that they each bring.

Have you heard about the “Mommy Wars”? Well if not, it’s basically that other Moms have been outwardly judgmental towards others moms because they chose to do things differently. Working moms judge stay-at-home moms and vice versa. Both do it without fully understanding what the other life is like.
I have had enough of this crap. So I am taking a stand and I am going to explain some of the Pros and Cons of each lifestyle. My goal is to hopefully enlighten someone about moms who have made the decision to either stay home with their kids or return to work. As I said, I have done both. I have experienced them both firsthand.



You get more adult social interaction without having to join a group or go out searching for friends. You probably have at least one person at work that you can talk to and gossip with. Believe it or not, it’s good for your health! And it doesn’t take much effort. You both are already there and you already have something in common, your work.
You will hopefully have a little more income to work with. Having two incomes can make things a lot easier, even if it’s just a little bit. It makes it easier to stretch your money until the next payday. Especially if you get paid on alternating weeks as your husband.
Your child/children will learn important social lessons if they go to daycare or even family member’s house. Children need to interact with people other than their parents and siblings. They need to learn how to take directions from other adults to prepare them for school. And they need to learn how to deal with kids as well.
Your life may be a little more organized. You make not always think it is. But just having an actual routine and schedule you have to follow helps so much. It makes you prioritize your time so that you can make sure that everything gets done.


You will have to find someone you trust to take care of your child while you are at work. And not only to they have to watch your child, but also feed them, and hopefully teach them things, too. That can be so hard to do. Especially with all of the stories you hear of babysitters or even family members causing harm to the children.
 Childcare can be so expensive, too. If you don’t have parents or a family member willing to do it for free or cheap, you could be spending a few hundred dollars a month on childcare. For my two kids to go to daycare full-time it was going to cost me over $900/month! And that wasn’t even the high end fancy daycare. That was a day care that many lower income families used.
Children will also learn things from daycare and other kids that you may not want them to know. They will learn words and behaviors that force you to have a “lesson” with your child about why it’s not ok to say that or act that way. They also get sick ALL THE TIME! People don’t want to stay home with their kids when they are sick, so then your kid gets sick. And if you’re like me, you actually take the time off and stay home with them.
You may feel like you’re always in a hurry and that you don’t have time for anything. You may feel like you never get to rest. You go to work and then you may have to come home and cook and clean and then get everyone fed and in bed. Sometimes you want to pull your hair or runaway for a couple days.



You don’t have to go to work and deal with a boss, co-workers and all of the drama and crap that comes with having a job. You don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn (hopefully) and get ready. You don’t have to deal with all of the idiots of the world if you don’t want to leave your house!
You get to spend every day with your kids. You get to watch first hand when they learn something new or reach a new milestone. You can also be able to be the one to teach your child like a daycare would.
You learn to be creative with kids, money, and everyday life. You learn how to make crafts with the random items you have around your house. You figure out ways to make household items last longer and not waste anything or you may learn how to make some things yourself.
You get to wear whatever you want! No lame uniforms or dress codes to follow. Hello, yoga pants! And if you’re having a “blah” day or you’re not feeling well, you can stay in your pajamas all day if you want to.


You don’t have someone telling you what needs to be done and when, so it is very easy to procrastinate and not get anything done. You have to be a self-motivator if you want anything to get done. Otherwise you will end up on the couch all day and you and your kids won’t get dressed until 4 PM or not at all. You have to be the one create a schedule and force yourself to stick to it.
You don’t get any time off unless you make time for yourself. There are no breaks or lunches and your shift literally never ends. You don’t get to leave and just forget about work until the next day. You are always there and you always have to take care of the kids. So if you don’t schedule out time for yourself away from home and the kids you will go insane!

You may feel very disconnected from the world. Unless you make an effort to get out and connect with other people, you can become very lonely. That is why you hear about and see all of those mommy groups. You won’t get much time away from family so it is important to find other moms with similar interests and ones in a similar life stage.

Because you are a stay-at-home mom, everything related to the kids and the house becomes your job. All cleaning is your responsibility. You are in charge of feeding, dressing, bathing and getting the kids to bed. Making sure they have enough mental stimulation other than the T.V. all day long. And believe it or not it is actually quite difficult to keep a house clean when you and the kids are home all day every day.   

These are just a few things about each life style. I could go on and on about how each one is just as good but also just as hard as the other. But the point is, that no matter how you do it, being a MOM is HARD WORK, PERIOD!!!
As moms, it is our responsibility to do whatever works for our own families. What works for my family will not be the same as another family, and I am OK with that. It’s never alright to judge another mother for how she has to support her family. Whether that means going to work and putting her kids in daycare or staying home with them. You never know if it was really a personal choice or one forced on them by circumstances. As I said earlier, I did not have a choice with either of my kids. 
I hope this helps at least one woman realize that we all work hard for our families and that we need to support each other instead of demean and criticize each other.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to Successfully Exclusively Pump for Your Baby

It is definitely true that “breast is best”, but it’s not always the easiest. In fact, it is rarely ever easy. But if Mom and Baby are able to succeed, the benefits make it all worthwhile. Baby gets milk made just for him. It’s always warm and ready to go! Mom and Baby get to experience a bond that only they can share. And Mom gets the benefits of having her uterus shrink faster, burn more calories (so an excuse to eat a little more) and no monthly visits from Mother Nature until you stop, if you’re lucky!

However, not all women and babies are able to nurse. Whether Mom is unable to make any milk, or baby cannot or will not latch on properly, sometimes it just won’t work.

And that is alright.

You have not failed!!!

Trust me, I know. I have experienced it firsthand myself. I had to start my first baby on formula after 6 weeks. I couldn't keep up with the demand after going back to work. But I promised myself I would do everything I could to make it work with the second baby. Formula was a last resort for us after going from living off of two full-time incomes to just one income. We simply couldn't afford for it not to work.

Unfortunately our Big Boy decided he was not going to go along with our plans.

After almost three months of constant struggling with latching, then a nursing strike that kept getting worse and lasted about 2 weeks, I gave up. The stress was making me dread nursing and I knew at that point is was not good for either of us.

However, we still could not afford to put him on formula. So, after thinking about it, and I mean really thinking about it, I decided to Exclusively Pump (EP) for my baby.
Now, I did not come to this decision lightly. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, either. And I know that if I had been working, I most certainly would not have been able to do it. I was already pumping more than he was nursing so the transition wasn't super difficult. But, I knew there was a lot I still needed to know. So I started searching for tips online and came across this website that had everything you would need to know about every problem you could possibly face while either breastfeeding or pumping. This website became like my bible in the first couple months. That website was Seriously, if you are nursing or are planning to nurse, take a look at this website!!! 
So thanks to some tips and tricks I learned from there I am happy to say that I am still EPing for my Big Boy.

I will share some of my tips and how I have made it work for me.

First off are the supplies you will need. Now this goes for Moms who are pumping and nursing or just pumping. Either way you will need these things!!!
     Double Electric Breast Pump
This one needs to be a good high quality and reliable. If you are EPing or even going to be pumping every day at work, you’ll need a pump that can not only handle that much use, but also do it efficiently. They can be a bit pricey, but compared to formula, it will pay itself off within just a month or two. I think a lot of insurance plans will pay for you to get one, too. Some may require a RX, but if you just call and ask, you could save money on that as well!!! I lucked out and received this Medela one from a family member

Storage Bottles and Bags
You will obviously need something to store the milk in, right? I use the Medela bottles to pump in to and I store it in the fridge until I’m ready to either use or freeze. Then when I want to freeze the milk I just dump it in a Lansinoh storage bag, write the ounces and date, and lay it flat in the freezer. Once frozen I put them in a large gallon freezer bag and write the date range of milk and put it in the basement freezer. I used to use the Medela bags but they just don’t hold enough. They were only marked for 5 oz but I have had issues with them leaking after I thawed them. The Lansinoh ones are bigger and cheaper! And I have never had one leak on me yet. I have bought both of them on Amazon and with my prime membership I get a discount and free two-day shipping!
     Nursing Cover
You will still need this if plan to leave the house at all, or even have guests over. I usually try to time my pumping times around my outings but sometimes we are out all day and that is not possible. So a nursing cover makes it easy for you to pump outside of your home without showing anything.

Hands-Free Pumping Bra
I started out my pumping adventure without one of these and it was a pain to hold both bottles. Especially when you need to massage the milk down occasionally. I found this one for a great price on Amazon and I cannot live without it now. It makes things so much easier. I can type my blog posts while pumping, or sit on the floor and play with my kids. If you happen to get a more portable pump you could even do some cleaning or something as well. I have read some women cook dinner or even drive while pumping if you have a portable pump. It could also be great at work. If you work at a desk, just slip this baby on over your bra (I also recommend having a nursing bra for convenience) in the bathroom then put your cover on and hook everything up. You can pump while you work!!!

Manual Hand Pump
This has been the best thing I have bought. It’s a cheaper portable pump that works just as well as an electric pump. The only drawback is you can only do one breast at a time. I use this one a lot in the car when someone else can drive. Also a great option to take to work if you don’t want to haul your big loud electric one to work.

Extra Pump Parts
If you can, purchase extra pump parts so that you can always have one set clean. I have not had the extra money to do this but I really wish I could. It would make things a lot easier, especially if you will be pumping at work. To make it so that you don’t have to wash the parts every time you use them, you can just rinse them with hot water after every use and then store in a plastic baggy in the fridge. It will keep whatever milk is still on the parts good until the next pump. I am able to wash my parts two to three times a day, instead five or six. This is especially helpful at work where you may not have the time to wash them. You could also wipe them down with some pacifier wipes and then store in fridge if you cannot rinse them.
     Lanolin Nipple Ointment
Your nipples will be sore in the beginning until you get used to that much pump use! But if you use it before and after pumping, it will not be as bad. I now only have to use it maybe once a week if that. I actually had to use it more when I was nursing! But this stuff is a life saver in the beginning.

Here is a list of tips to make Pumping as easy as possible

     Make sure you are comfortable- If you are not comfortable, it will affect how much milk you will be able to get. Sitting straight with support for you back, feet down in front of you is the best position. I have a spot on the couch that works great for me. But a rocking chair would great too. Whatever works for you that is near an outlet.
     Drink plenty of water- This makes such a difference. If you are not drinking plenty of water, you will get dehydrated quickly. And, if you are dehydrated, your baby will be too! If I ever notice that my milk production is going down, I can usually just drink a couple extra cups of water and that will fix it most of the time. Plus, I get so thirsty I have to drink water while I’m pumping!

     Relax and think about your baby- To activate a let-down, I have found taking a deep relaxing breath and picturing my baby helps. For some women, looking at a picture or smelling something of their baby’s helps when they are not at home. Do whatever works for you but relaxing is definitely the key.
     Massage and gently squeeze the milk out- As you are pumping, gently massage your breasts with your fingers in a downward circular motion (like when doing self breast exams) all the way around the breast. Also gently squeezing for a couple seconds at a time will help get all of the milk out of your breasts. It can also help encourage more let-downs.
     Pump as often as possible- When first starting out and building up you milk supply you will need to pump at least every two hours for 20-30 minutes. I know that seems like a lot but it will set you up for long term success. Once you have done that and have built up your production enough and you feel comfortable with it you can go to every two to four hours. But try to aim for 6-8 pumping sessions in a 24 hour period for the first couple of months. I am now on month four of EPing and have been able to reduce it to every 6-8 hours for 30-40 minutes. The fewer times you pump the longer you need to pump for to get it all out! But if you try it and notice a decrease in milk supply, go back to every 4 hours for a couple days and then slowly extend the amount of time until you are comfortable with the amount you are getting.

        Don’t expect to fill the bottle every time- Even after I go 8 hours I won’t always be able to fill both bottles. That is completely normal. I have been lucky and have been over producing milk from the day it came in, but not everyone is like that. I wasn’t with my first baby. So if you only get a couple ounces, just know that is normal. Don’t give up. The best thing is to keep going. The more you pump the more milk your body will make. Supply and demand. It may take a couple days to notice an increase so just give it time. I always try to freeze any extra milk so that if I ever start to lose some I can have a backup until it comes back. That leads me to the next tip.

         Freeze any extra milk- If you have four or more full bottles and you know your baby will not need all of them before your next pumping session, freeze some. That way you can start building up a freezer supply just in case. My goal is to have enough in the freezer by the time he gets to be 9 months that I can decrease my pumping to about 2-4 times a day. So far I have about 5-6 gallon bags full.
     Support from family and friends- If your family and friends don’t support you, it will make things difficult. Especially your husband. You need him to be on the same page when it comes to breastfeeding and pumping. Luckily that has not been a problem for me. But I have heard of mothers or friends or even husbands telling women that it’s disgusting or annoying. It doesn’t matter what they think. You are Mom and it is your decision, so do not let anyone tell you anything different.

As you can see, deciding to Exclusively Pump is not easy. It takes a lot of and dedication. But once you get the hang of it, it becomes like second nature to you and your family. I have a four year old daughter, and she knows that when mommy is pumping she can’t do certain things that need me to help her. I also try to time my pumping so that it’s done while the baby is asleep. He rolls all around now and is learning to crawl so I have a hard time being connected to a machine with him awake. But do whatever works for you. Some like to time it around feeding their baby so it is done at the same time.

If you decide to try it, but find it is too stressful for you and your family, then just do what you feel is best. If you think you and your family would be happier using formula, go for it! It’s OK if that is what will make everyone happy. And it is alright to feel sad about it at first. I felt horrible when I decided I couldn't continue trying to nurse. I felt like a total failure as a mother and like I had let everyone including myself down. I allowed myself to feel sad about not being able to have that special bond with him anymore. Then I started to remind myself that at least he is still getting my milk and everyone is happier. Because it is so true when they say “If Mamma isn't happy, nobody’s happy!”

Good luck to you in your breastfeeding and pumping adventures. If anyone has any other tips or encouragement please share! And if you have any questions I would be happy to do my best to answer them if I can, or lead you to a source that can help. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

8 Years Ago....Our Family's Nightmare

It's been 8 years.

8 years, but I can still remember that day like it was yesterday.

The knock on the door that woke me up at 7 am on Saturday, January 14th 2006.
Walking down the stairs while hearing crying and screaming.
I saw my parents holding each other. That was where crying was coming from.
I remember the two police officers standing by the door. They noticed me first before my parents did.
I sat down on the steps, just watching. I think deep down I knew, but my mind refused to acknowledge it.
Until they told me.
Until my Dad told me, my brother was gone. He was never coming home again. He would never walk through that door with his contagious smile and a smart ass remark at the ready.

I remember my Dad hugging me, and then I asked how it happened. A car accident, someone said.
Then the next thing I remember is sitting on the stairs by myself, watching my parents sobbing. Hearing the words, "Not my baby, no not my baby" over and over again.

Everything after that is now a blur. But one thing remains clear. The pain. I can still feel it when I allow myself to think about it.

It was like someone punched a whole in my heart. I couldn't breath, I couldn't think. I just sat there with my arms around around myself, and cried.

My parents made me go to school that following Monday. At the time I thought it was the cruelest thing they could have done, but now I know it was the best thing for me.
It was so hard though. I had to go through my normal daily routine, except that he wasn't there to take me to school anymore, like he had been doing every day for the last few weeks.

I only told a couple of my teachers what had happened. I tried my best to just be normal, but I know they knew something was wrong. I didn't learn a thing that week. If I wasn't staring off trying not to burst into tears, I had my head down on the desk either sleeping or crying quietly.
My friends were so great. I would not have made it through that week without them. They kept me going, tried to make me smile and think about other things.

I remember the funeral service was so crowded with people they were lined up all along the sides of the room standing. Even out into the hall.
He had touched so many lives in his short 23 years here. Everyone loved him. He was the life of the party and the one who brought our family together.

He is missed by so many and will always remain in our hearts and minds.

R.I.P Brian Jack Jones

I love you and miss you so much.