Monday, April 13, 2015

Kitchen Before and After

Here we are selling our house and I'm just now getting around to posting these before and after photos.  But, if I'm being totally honest, it's because the kitchen has had a 'projects to finish' list for like 5 years. It's funny looking back on it now.  Most of the projects we wanted to get finished only took a couple of hours to get done and a few bucks here and there but when life gets crazy busy all the to-do lists get pushed aside.  Good thing we got these done before putting our house on the market though. 

So, when we bought this house the kitchen was one of the worst rooms of the house.  It was the only room that had a sink in working order, but the floors had barely any covering (seriously just subflooring) and the cabinets were super old and flimsy.  Honestly, there really wasn't anything in this kitchen we could salvage.  It was a total tear down.  And so, that's what we did.  We gutted the entire kitchen and started all over again.  We rearranged the set up a bit by moving the oven and fridge and all the gas plumping and electrical to go with it.  We also got rid of all the windows and got new ones in a better arrangement.  It brings in so much more light now. The whole reno was insane!  But worked out so well. 

Here are all the before pictures!!


Here are all the after pictures!!
 







 
I really went with an earthy look in the kitchen.  With slate subway tiles and a butcher block countertop it brought in a lot of natural textures and colors. I kept the cabinets white to brighten the kitchen but to also allow for easy spot cleaning.  The color on the walls is from Valspar and is called Brown Buzz...which is weird because it's green. The red accents were for a little pop of bold color, and I always make sure to add living plants to the mix.  They not only clean the air but bring in a bit of the outside in.  The kitchen is always a congregating space, so I always make sure to have things for the kids to do at the table while I make dinner or clean up.  I keep a rug and basket by the door for easy shoe removal (although I am always having to remind the kids) and some coat hooks to collect all jackets, bags, and whatnots that need to be off the floor. 
 
Though this kitchen is a bit tucked away from the center of our house, its inviting and spacious.  We spend a lot of time in this area of our home...as I'm sure you all do in your kitchens.  Hope you enjoyed!  More to come soon.  If you're wanting to see of few of the other areas click here, here, and here!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Friendship as an adult

Months ago I found myself in search of 'new friends'.  Not saying that the friends I have are horrible or anything but the truth of the matter is this...we need friends in our lives.  It's been a fundamental truth since we were little.  You make friends and all is right in the world.  Well, as an adult friendship seems to change.  And it's that fact right there that I feel the need to wright about what I think friendship is and why it's so freakin' hard to make friends as an adult. 

So, here I am jotting down my thoughts while my kids take a nap and I intermittently shove leftover spaghetti in my mouth.  Honestly, I was up most of the night being a total mope about not being able to make new friends.  It's like I was having flashbacks of Jr. High and eating lunch alone in the bathroom stall.  Which is so sad and so unsanitary...it's just nasty. I feel as though I've tried every option as to set up girls night out evenings with friends that, for the most part, everyone is too busy to make room for in their schedule. So, I've done my best to talk with those around me, get involved in social occasions, and I just feel out of place.  Like, am I not cool enough?  What's wrong with ME?  It got me to thinking...why is it so hard to make friends as an adult?  Now I'll admit, I don't think it has anything to do with being an adult at all.  I think it has everything to do with our hook on social media.  Yes, we are all connecting to each other in some way or another.  We know this person who knows this person and so on. We are able to freely look into people's lives and get to know their personalities.  But, because of the fact that we aren't personally talking to these people (even though we think it's totally fine to write random strangers advice and congratulatory messages) the makeup of what a friendship really is, is lost.  Our minds are starting to think that when we 'follow' someone we are in return connected to them somehow.  That when they respond to a comment we wrote we are, in return, buddies. 

What ever happened to book club and quilting nights?  Why have pot lucks been lost and visiting on ones couch become a foreign thing?  I'm starting to think that friendship means 'you do something for me and I'll do something for you'. I sincerely miss the days of getting together for no reason but to talk and enjoy one anothers' company.   So many of us feel so alone.  Whether it be in motherhood, or a specific life altering event, and yet why do we feel that way?  It's because we are reaching for strangers rather than the people near us.  Who's to say the gal behind you in the grocery store is struggling with the exact same thing you are.  What a perfect friendship and bond that would make.  Or how about the woman at the park who has 3 more kids than you do...but don't you want to pick her brain at how she does all that she does. 

Let start making friendship personal people!!  Let's make time to get together, to meet new people, and to exchange PHONE NUMBERS NOT INSTAGRAM NAMES!!!  Lets invite each other over for lunches or, for hells sake, to binge watch The Blacklist with someone.  It's these small and simple acts that build lasting friendships.  Showing someone that you care. 

So...I guess all I'm saying is let's be friends.  I'm really good at it...I promise!!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Disneyland tips from an obsessed mom

It's the truth...I really LOVE Disneyland.  Since I was a child, Disneyland has always been a special place for me.  Some of my fondest and most dear memories involve trips to Disneyland.  I've been going since the People Mover was still up and running.  I still remember when the parking lot was where California Adventure now stands.  I can remember the first time Indiana Jones opened and the long lines and hours of waiting it took to finally enjoy the 2 minute ride.  I can still recall the first year Fast Passes were invented and how long it took to finally figure out how they worked...and how they totally ROCK!  But beyond that, Disneyland always involves my family. This is me and my Grandpa on the People Mover in 1989!!!


Before I had kids, we ran from ride to ride and asked to sit in the front or the back (because I guess the middle of the ride totally sucks?).  We saved our precious pennies to be able to buy churros.  The kiddie rides were so not cool to be seen on, and we avoided the Characters like they were the plague.  Now, Disneyland isn't so much about the rides but the magic.  I look at my kids faces as they look up at Mickey Mouse and nothing beats the joy that shines from their tiny little eyes.  I'm more excited to see their reaction than I am to feel the jolts, twirls, and tickle hills on a ride. And, even though we still went on most of the rides, we made it a point this year to take in ALL the entertainment.  We watched the parades, saw all the shows, and made sure to stand in line to see the characters.  So, I feel like I've truly seen it all at Disneyland. 

With that said, I've decided to share a few tips that can really make your trip more enjoyable.  Whether its 'where to sit' in a show, or what's my favorite ride, or the yummiest food, I'm dishing all the dirt on Disney.

 Shows:

My absolute favorite show to see at Disneyland is Aladdin.  It's like seeing a mini Broadway play!  The music is fantastic, the acting is great, and the set...I mean...WOW!  They really went all out on this one.  The great thing about it too is that it plays multiple times a day so you can plan ahead as to what show to see when you're over in that area.  Thanks to my awesome step-mom, we found the best place to sit!  It's my opinion that you should get there at least 45 minutes before the start time of the show.  That seems like a lot of time to wait, but it's worth it to get into the Orchestra seating section.  When the doors open to the show you'll be guided up some stairs on your left and into some doors.  DON'T go all the way down to the ground floor!!!!!  Instead, sit on the front row of the top part of the Orchestra seating.  You'll be able to see what's happening all around, and the kids will get close up visitors in the play!  Just trust me on this one!

In that same area is Turtle Talk with Crush.  This show is interactive and totally hilarious.  Kids are allowed to sit on the floor in front of the 'underwater' screen and interact with Crush from Finding Nemo.  He asks questions to audience members (adults and kids) and teaches the kids how to speak turtle.  It plays a lot during the day, so if you're over there...it's a must see.

I also loved The Frozen play in the Royal Theater.  Last year was Rapunzel and it had great music, was really funny, and was interactive.  This year was Frozen and it was equally just as great!  This play does require a Fast Pass!  It plays multiple times during the day so if you miss one just hurry over and get a Fast Pass for the next showing.  The kids are allowed to sit in the front on the floor and you get to hang out on the benches behind and rest.  I personally like finding a seat in the very back so I actually have a backrest. Ha ha...I'm like totally an old lady!

The parades are another must see with little kids, but really I quite enjoy them myself.  There's so much detail in the costumes and floats that I'm always blown away!  My kids just sit there in awe and wave at everyone!  It's adorable!!  I would suggest sitting with the sun behind you.  There are a few places I always try and sit and are always taken, so if you really want a great seat, you need to get there early.  For me, the best place are the benches on the right of Sleeping Beauty's Castle (if you're looking at it).  The benches are actually built into the wall so they have a backrest and no one can sit or stand in front of you because they are right up next to the street. 

The Tikki Room is one I used to hate!  Now that I have kids, it's one of my favorites.  Here's why... it has it's own separate bathroom, you can eat in there, the long line to get dole whips can be skipped if you get them on the opposite side where the Tikki Room lounge is, and it's nice and cool in there.  On really hot or rainy days...it's like the best thing ever!!!   Any seat is a good seat, and if your kid is really feeling brave, they can ask the cast member to wake up Jose.

Lastly is Fantasmic!  I also really love Word of Color...but there's something about Fantasmic.  Mostly I think it's because it's the same it's been since I was young.  There's fire and water and fireworks and, or course, there's Mickey!  Now that Disneyland has gotten all Fast Pass crazy, it's really the only way to see it...unless you know the inside scoop.  Eat dinner at Café Orleans!!!!  You get a delicious meal that's not too crazy in price and they will let you stick around and watch Fantasmic from their outdoor seating section.  Make sure to get reservations ahead of time and make sure that your dinner time is as close to Fantamic as possible! 



 Meeting The Characters:

For the most part you can wait in lines all around the park to meet the characters...which is what we always do but for Mickey...we visit his house in Toontown.  Here's my tip...go to his house about a half hour before the park closes.  He's still there, usually, and no one else will be in line.  This means two things, one, no line...totally awesome, and two, Mickey will actually interact with your child.  A few years ago we took my oldest daughter to go see Mickey at his house.  We waited in line for about 30 minutes and when we got in there we were hurried and rushed to take a picture and get out.  I totally get it...long lines call for desperate measures, but this time was so much better!!!  After visiting Mickey, go snoop around all of Toontown without all the crowds.  It's a ton of fun!





Food:

I know it sounds crazy to even put food as a category but Disneyland has some of the best food!  Yes you'll find some of the basics like burgers and fries and mac and cheese, but some of the best food I've ever had has been at Disneyland!  Here's a list of things I can't go without eating while at Disneyland.

Pickle
Churro
Rice Krispie Treat
Corn Dog
Dole Whip
Mint Julep
Fried Pickles (I just really love pickles) They are only served at Carnation Café on Main Street
Clam Chowder Bread Bowl
 and that's just to name a few...

A must for me and Mike, though, is eating at Blue Bayou. It's the restaurant inside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. We ate there on our Honeymoon (yes we went to Disneyland...I told you I love this place) and we have eaten there almost every visit since.  We usually ask our family to watch the kids for us for an hour while we have alone time, but if are aren't able to have someone watch your kids then I'd just skip it.  It's more of a romantic place.  It's pricey for sure, but the food and ambiance is totally worth it!  You HAVE to make reservations in advance...and I'm talking weeks, especially if you want dinner. 

So there you have it.  Just a few tips and things about Disneyland.  I'm full of them, so if you have questions just leave a comment.  If you've never been...lets go together!!! I'm always down for a Disney trip!


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Why the wait?

I realize it's been a long time since I've written on this here blog.  I'm also pretty sure I've said that about a thousand times on this blog, but whatever.  I really can only think of one reason I haven't updated for a while and that's this...is anyone even reading this thing? 

Years ago I started this blog as a way of staying in touch with my family.  I updated with photos and goings on with the family.  I never intended for this blog to be a big hit or anything...it was just meant to be within the close knit people in my life.  Now, I feel as though it's more of a journal (which I'm a horrible journal writer...so what am I thinking?).  I love that I'm able to write about whatever I feel like and not get backlash from anyone. 

With that said, though, I'm starting to feel like what's the point?  Maybe I WANT people to actually comment and give a crap about what I'm sharing and pouring out.  Maybe I do want to write about things I love and awesome recipes and great advice.  Let's be honest we all want people to care about what we are doing. Ha Ha!! Ok seriously, I just don't want this blog to go to waste.  I feel like I've spent years making this blog feel authentic(because it is) and hopefully feeling connected to what it is that I'm writing.  But, I need to just be better about it. 

One of my favorite movies is Julie and Julia.  In the movie, Julie's friend has a successful blog, and Julie (who's a writer) is talking to her husband about her frustration with feeling unsuccessful as a writer and replies to this blog mumbo jumbo with "I HAVE THOUGHTS!"  Well, I'm feeling just like Julie!  I have things to say, things to review, and of course loads of pictures of my adorable children.  So it's time to get real.  I'm revving' up the blogging juices...get ready...whoever you are that read this!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Being a Mom-Me

It's the honest truth, motherhood is a hard job.  It's also a very rewarding job.  With that said, I want to share a bit about my experience, so far, with being a mother. 

I constantly feel like I give, give, give all day long.  You get up in the morning to your sweet little kids who are hungry, so you feed them.  Then they need to get dressed, so you strip them down and then clothe them again.  Then come the daily chores and tasks.  You do the laundry, clean the kitchen after breakfast, make the bed, all the while still entertaining the little ones.  Before you know it, it's lunch time!  Off you go to the kitchen to make lunch.  Then you clean it all up a bit later and then nap time.  And instead of sitting down, sipping some Diet Coke and watching Grey's Anatomy, you pick up the toys, dust the furniture, clean the bathroom, and tidy up the house just in time for the kids to wake up and it starts all over again.  Here's what I'm getting at...where's the ME time? 

After I had my first child, my life felt a bit like that.  I was exhausted constantly.  I never got ready for the day until a few minutes before my husband got home.  My house was always clean but I was always a wreck.  It wasn't until I had my second baby that I finally realized things had to change.  I was doing everything for my kids that I never made time for myself.  I came last in taking care of everyone and everything else.  Well, I'm here to tell you that it's possible to be a great mom and still be a great YOU!!! 

I was having a bad day.  You know the days when the kids are misbehaving, you have a headache, the house is a mess, and well so are you.  When nap time hit I gave up.  I'm pretty sure I even texted my husband that I was done.  I had thrown in the towel.  I was bitter towards my kids and I was spent...in every way!  So I sat on my bed in tears and scrolled through Instagram.  Ha...I know pathetic.  But, I came across some wonderful people's feeds that day that really changed my perspective. 

Alison Faulkner (@thealisonshow) is a hoot.  She is through and through 100% herself, and I admire that.  In a day when everyone is comparing themselves to the person next to them or to a complete stranger on social media, she's been able to keep it real.  It's so refreshing to see someone embrace their uniqueness for everyone to see. And it wasn't until I came across her feed that I realized that I had truly lost who I was.  I used to be silly, fun, outgoing, and project oriented and I had turned into a hermit crab!  Why had I let myself go?  Oh yeah, I remember, I thought that because I was a mom...that was who I was.  I was now depicted as the unfashionable, 'stay-at-home-mom', who makes paper crafts all day and never puts on makeup.  Well, that wasn't me.  Don't get me wrong...I like to think that I'm pretty domestic, but did I really want that to completely define me?  Did I want people to introduce me as, 'This is Allie, she's boring as hell'...um NO!!!!  So, I got with it!  It's not like I changed overnight, but I did make a conciouse effort to get ready, put on makeup, make plans with my girlfriends, and take time for myself.

Then I came across Meg Conley (@meg_in_progress)!  Seriously, she needs to write a book.  Her words paint pictures.  But anyway, as I scrolled through her feed I noticed something.  She's honest about motherhood.  She's not sugar coating anything.  She'll tell you when it's been a hard day as a mom, and she'll tell you when it's been a joyous day.  We need more people like that.  More people who are okay with saying that kids throw tantrums, but then give kisses after and that's it's not out of the norm to want to hide in your bathroom and eat ice cream.  We've all been there...amiright?  She's and inspiration to me to not be afraid to be honest with others and with myself.  I'm doing a good job as a mom!  My kids are alive, thye love me, and most of the time they are happy happy happy! 

Lastly, Haley Kjar (@haleykjar).  This girl knows how to take some amazing pictures.  It also helps that her kids are adorable, but her feed is about her family.  I sat on my bed with tears running down my cheeks looking at her perspective on motherhood.  She's got a gift of seeing the GOOD in being a mother.  Because of her outlook, I find myself more often than not, looking at moments with my kids differently.  I more easily can see how they're feeling.  I try and pick out the special moments with them I know I'll never have again.  I recognize more that they are growing up, and before I know it they'll be married and have their own little ones. 

These three ladies, and many others, have helped me to realize something...I can balance it all.  There's a way to still be yourself and be a great mom.  By loving who I am I can more easily love my little ones.  I love the quote, 'Taking care of yourself is part of taking care of your kids'.  It sounds selfish to say that we must first take care of ourselves but when you really think about it if we fade away, if we are unhappy and don't love who we are, how on Earth are we supposed to love those little ones who are a piece of us?   I can tell you that since taking more time for myself I put more effort into my kids.  I take more time to snuggle and kiss them, and I enjoy their company so much more.

All in all, I LOVE being a mother!  Sometimes it takes time to find peace and patients in the chaos that's brought on by the gift of motherhood, but it's just that...it's a gift.  I feel so thankful to wonderful ladies who share their honesty, pictures inside their daily lives, and their thoughts and words on motherhood.  You may not feel like you're making a difference, but trust me you are.  I'm working everyday to find balance in being a great mother and being a great me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Remee's 3 Year Photobook

As many of you know, I make a photo book for my kids every year using Shutterfly.  I've fallen a bit behind on making them so when I saw a free photo book code on Facebook, I jumped on the bandwagon and got going on Remee's 3 year book.  Take a look and get on the bandwagon too.  Get a free 20 page photo book from Shutterfly using code BOOK4FREE!
Shutterfly photo books are the new way to preserve your memories. Create your own today.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Diy Shark T-shirt

Shark Week continues!!!  Here's a really simple way to get festive.  Make yourself a shark t-shirt that's stylish enough to wear throughout the year!  Here's what you'll need to start...
A plain colored t-shirt (I got mine from Forever 21 cause they are only $3.90!!)
A bleach pen
a square piece of cardboard
a rag to dab your bleach pen on if needed
First things first, find an image of a shark you'd like to replicate.  If you're feeling really artsy, go for one that's a bit more intricate.  I chose something simple!
Next you'll want to place the piece of cardboard inside the shirt so that when you're painting with your bleach pen it won't bleed through the back of your shirt. 

Using the small side of the bleach pen, draw your design.  Remember this doesn't have to be perfect!!  After it's washed the lines will look a bit tie-dyed so imperfections are A-Okay!

Now that your image has been drawn, go back over the lines with your bleach pen as to rub in the bleach a bit.  No bleach should be coming out of the bleach pen at this point, this is just to make sure that the bleach is penetrating the fabric.  Let the design sit on your fabric for 10 minutes(or longer if you want it lighter) and then rinse with water thoroughly.  I put mine through the wash. 
If you are using a shirt from Forever 21 please keep in mind that their shirts shrink A LOT if dried.  I never put mine in the dryer.  Let it air dry completely... and... voila!  You've got yourself a sharky shirt for under $5.00!!!  Winning!!!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

DIY Shrink Shark Necklace

I realize I'm a bit of a weirdo in that fact that I just made a shark necklace in honor of Shark Week, but any excuse for me to craft is a good excuse.  Just this past Father's Day I got into Shrink Film to make some adorable tie clips for my hubby from the girls.  They turned out way too cute for words, so I thought, why not use this stuff to make some necklaces?  Well, it's been a few months and the thought came to me to make a shark necklace out of it.  Genius right?  I loved how it turned out, and I really love how festive it makes me feel during Shark Week!! Here's what you'll need to make one.
 
Shrink Film (I used matte, but clear or colored would work too)
A free clip art image of a shark (you will only be using the outline, so when choosing one, look for the outline that you like)  The one I used is here.
A hole punch of some kind.  Use a normal sized hole punch!
Sharpie
Scissors
Spray paint
Necklace chain (these come in so many different colors and sizes.  I bought mine at JoAnns and it was only $2.99 for a 42" long chain)
Necklace Clasp (you'll need one)
Jump rings (you'll need three total)
parchment paper

 Let's get started shark fans!  After you've found the shark image you want to outline, copy and paste it into a Word document.  This will not only allow you to print out your image but also to size it.  Adjust your image to the size you want keeping in mind that you're image will shrink to about 1/3 it's original size.  The image I used I made a tiny bit smaller.  Print out your image and then trace it onto your Shrink Film by placing the Shrink Film on top of the image. 
 Once your image is traced onto the Shrink Film, cut out your shark.  Don't forget to punch a hole in the shark BEFORE putting it in the oven!  I punched my hole near the center of my shark, but you can make a hole anywhere.  Place your shark on a parchment lined baking sheet and top it with another piece of parchment paper.  This will prevent the shark from curling up in the oven.  Place your baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 2 minutes.  Remove from the oven and the baking sheet and allow to cool.  This will only take a few seconds.
 Once your shark is cooled, it's ready to be painted.  Aw... look how cute he is!!!
 Spray paint your shark in a well ventilated area spraying about 6 inches away from your cut out. Allow to dry completely before handling it!
 Now it's time to make your necklace.  First decide how long you want it.  I made mine about 24" long (that's the length of the entire chain).  Then cut it into two equal pieces.  I was able to use regular scissors, but you might want to try wire cutters.
 Place a jump ring through the last hoop on one side of the chain.  Place your clasp on whichever side you want through the jump ring and close.  On the other chain, place another jump ring and close. 
 Make sure everything is closed securely.
 Lastly, once your shark has dried, put a jump ring through the hole you've made in your shark.  Keeping the jump ring open, slide each side of the chain through the jump ring and close tightly.  All done!!!!!  Put on that awesome necklace and rock it!!!  This would be super cute for a kids pirate or sea themed party.  You can totally use string or baker's twine to save a buck!  Hope you enjoy!!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Breastfeeding...my story

There was never a question for me when it came to breastfeeding my babies. I knew I was going to breastfeed even before my kids were conceived.  I would see mothers covering up to breastfeed out in public and thought, "rock on stranger!"  Everyone always made it look so easy, and truly, if it's what we are made to do it can't be that hard right?  Boy was that a lie. 
 Here's the thing...when I was pregnant with my first baby, all I ever heard about was childbirth.  Everyone would go on and on about how painful it was, how tiring it is, and how they HATED it.  But no one EVER talked about breastfeeding! So, when it came time to breastfeed my first thought was how wonderful it will be.  And to be honest, the FIRST time is nothing compared to what happens next!

So here I am, on National Breastfeeding Week, to talk about the ins and outs of breastfeeding. It's the natural thing to do and yet so many women out there know nothing about it! 

My story starts with, of course, my first child.  I was prepared beyond what any first time mother should be when it came to child birth.  I had taken Hypnobirthing classes months before I needed to so that I could practice all the techniques.  Little did I know I would need to get induced after being a week late and in labor with contractions 4 minutes a part and not dilating.  Labor didn't go how I wanted it to go, but it was perfect in the end.  My little baby girl was born a whopping 8 pounds 5 ounces and was so perfect!  They placed her up on my chest while they cleaned her up and the first thing I did was stick her on my boob.  I was on such a natural high that I didn't feel anything!  I was just so in love with my little girl.  

 A few hours later, it was feeding time again.  My baby was fussy for the first time since being born and I pulled open my gown and stuck her on.  OUCH!!!!  What the heck was going on?  I pulled her off and repositioned her.  OUCH!!!!  Am I doing something wrong?  My mom came to my side to try and help.  It's amazing to me that when you're trying to feed your baby, all modesty goes out the window.  There I was on my hospital bed with my gown down to my waist, both boobs exposed, trying to get my nipple in my baby's mouth the right way.  Motherhood is so glamorous!  My sweet little baby was hungry and all I wanted to do was give her what she wanted, but keep myself from hurting.  I had heard over and over from book to book I had read before my baby was born that, 'nursing shouldn't hurt, and if it is hurting, your doing something wrong.' Well, I was in pain, and no matter what I did, nursing hurt!  The next day I had the lactation specialist come in and watch how I was nursing.  With her help I was able to get my baby to nurse correctly...but it still hurt.  So, she stuck her finger in my baby's mouth and came to a conclusion.  Baby girl was a chomper.  Instead of sucking like a normal baby, she chewed when she ate, therefore, hacking away at my nipple.  Devastating news for a new mommy in pain, but she reassured me that if I stuck with it, my little girl would get the hang of it and start to suck instead of chew.  Sure enough, she was right!  A few days after my little one was born my milk finally came in and thus began the sucking!!! Yay!!! 

Now, I'm not saying that once my milk came in that the pain went away.  Oh no, the pain lasted a good 3-4 weeks before I was able to nurse without my toes curling in pain.  Nursing became a wonderful experience for me.  I looked forward to holding my little girl and having one on one time with her.  I loved how she looked up at me and would smile.  I was able to take a crying, hungry baby and make her happy.  Then, around 4 months old, my little girl went on strike. 

My husband and I decided to go on a vacation to Washington DC and then to New York City.  With our baby in tow, all was good.  She was fine on the plane, and did well traveling, but she wanted NOTHING to do with nursing!  I tried everything from distracting her with the TV to getting my milk to come in before I began to nurse her.  She just wasn't having it, and with the fact that we were traveling, I didn't bring my pump!  So, I had no other choice than to wean her.  I was devastated!!!!  I honestly would cry about not being able to nurse her.  Of course I was still able to hold her while I fed her but the bonding that I so enjoyed while nursing was done.  The switch to the bottle was easy and I never really had pain with weaning because it was gradually done. 

When my second little girl was born, I figured since I was a pro at nursing that it should be no problem to remember the drill.  Again, I was wrong.  She was a tiny little girl, and with that came a tiny little mouth.  She couldn't open her mouth big enough to suck on anything but my nipple, and for those of you who don't know about nursing, that's a BIG no no!!  The baby should be sucking on part of your areola too, and my poor little tiny girl just couldn't do it.  Even the nipple shields were too big, so, I stuck through it and dealt with the pain.  Once again it took 3-4 weeks to nurse comfortably, and was well worth the wait.  I nursed my second baby for 6 months and we lasted through a nursing strike too.  Luckily I was home and was able to pump while she was on strike.  It's sounds silly, but those few days she wanted nothing to do with me were some of the hardest days.  I debated stopping breastfeeding and then would come to my senses and stick it out.  Her nursing strike only lasted 3 days and then like a fly to light she was nursing again. 
All in all my nursing experiences were very different from each other.  I would never say I'm a pro but from what I went through, I learned a lot.  Not just about nursing, but about my self and my babies.  So, here are a few tips and tricks that I learned about breastfeeding that really helped me!  Feel free to ask any questions you might have and I'll do my best to answer!
  • ALWAYS have the lactation specialist in your hospital come help you!  Even with my second child I had the specialist visit my room.  Sometimes it costs extra, as some insurances don't cover it, but it's worth every penny to have someone there who's an expert.
  • Your own milk is your best friend.  After my second baby, my nipples scabbed like crazy and I had tried over and over again to heal them with lanolin.  That never worked!!!  What did work was air and breast milk!  After nursing I would express a little bit of milk and dab it all around my nipple and areola and then let it dry.  With in a few days my ouchies were healed and nursing became more comfortable.
  • When your milk first comes in you'll get engorged!  Seriously my boobs were gigantic!  They were also as hard as rocks and I was so uncomfortable.  Massage your breasts while your baby is nursing to loosen your milk ducts and to prevent clogged ducts from happening.  If you are still uncomfortable after your baby is done nursing, continue to express your milk, either by hand or pump, until it's comfortable.  Do not empty your breasts completely.  This will only send your body the message to continue to make that much milk the next time. 
  • Invest in a good pump.  I first began using the Medela brand breast pump and I hated it.  I felt like it sucked my nipples way to much to the point where the were raw.  I really loved the Dr. Brown's Electric Breast Pump.  It felt like I was nursing when I used it.  It never caused any discomfort!!  It did take a little bit longer to pump, but that's the only pump I recommend.  It's amazing!
  • Lansinoh Breast Pads are the best ones out there!  They are a bit more expensive, but I've tried almost every brand and this one never failed! 
  • The best breastfeeding book is The Nursing Mother's Companion-6th addition.  Any question I ever had about nursing was in that book.  It helped me feel at ease anytime I was stressing about something not going right. 
I hope this was helpful to anyone out there struggling with nursing.  You are not alone!!  Nursing is hard, but it's also one of the most rewarding experiences.  To those of you who are reading who weren't able to nurse or chose not to nurse.  I hope none of you feel as though I have criticized you.  Nursing is a personal decision and no one should judge you because of  the that.  Our babies don't love their mother's more or less depending on whether we nursed them or not.  They love us because we love them!!  Happy Breastfeeding Week!!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Squash and Sausage Rigatoni

It's on rainy days, like today, that my need for comfort food dominates my stomach.  I also had no desire to go out and shop, so I came up with this recipe using things I already had in my fridge and pantry. It filled the comfort food void, for sure!!! I'll be sure to make it again soon!

  Summer Squash and Sausage Rigatoni

30 minute meal
Serves 6

16 oz. box of Rigatoni
1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbs. butter
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 Garlic clove, minced
1/2 lb. mild Italian Sausage
2-3 small yellow summer squash
1 tsp. fresh basil, minced
S&P to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)




Boil a large pot of water for your pasta.  In the meantime, add the olive oil and butter to a sauté pan heated to a medium heat and allow butter to melt.  Add your onion to the sauté pan and stir occasionally until the onions just start to turn translucent.  Add your sausage to the onions and brown.  Next, add in garlic, summer squash, and basil and stir occasionally. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Once your water is boiling, add in your pasta and cook until preferred doneness (follow the box directions).  Drain your pasta and combine the squash and pasta mixture being sure the noodles get coated.  Again, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.  Garnish with more basil (if desired) and/or Parmesan cheese.