Halloween is Not My Thing

Halloween Is there a Halloween equivalent to Ebenezer Scrooge? If there is, that would describe me to a T.

I don’t get into buying or making costumes that will be worn once, maybe twice. I don’t like having all that candy in our house and haunted houses and scary movies aren’t my idea of entertainment.

You must thinking that I sound like a whole lot fun about now, right?

I’m probably not really but I’ll admit to being a party-pooper when it comes to Halloween. It’s just not for me and that’s okay…I don’t have to participate in it…..

Oh yeah – I have kids so yes, yes I do.

Que the costumes and decorations (they’re lucky Daddy is fun!) and the trick or treating…

Gabriella

One of my favorite costume creations – Gabriella from Sid the Science Kid

And because I have this irrational dislike for buying costumes and putting money into this, my least favorite of holidays, I’d made a good percentage of Brooke’s costumes in the past. Again until fun Daddy convinced Mommy that it’s okay to hit the party store and buy the dumb costume and be done with it.

So to all the other mommas out there who also feel less than jazzed when the jack-a-lanterns start popping up on porches everywhere and the kids get ideas for elaborate costumes, let’s remember it’s just one day (or 3 separate events for us!) and let the kiddos have their fun.

Then steal the good candy when they go to bed.

Why I Am Still Pumping After Leah’s First Birthday

Pumping After First Birthday
Pumping isn’t fun. But if you’re a working mom who wants to feed her baby breast milk, you just gotta suck it up and do it. (Pun intended a little) And if you’re an exclusively pumping mama, let me just say right now that I think you are a ROCK.STAR!!!! That level of commitment amazes me!!

For lots of pumping mamas, Baby’s first birthday is our ultimate goal. At that point, whole milk can enter the picture, solid food provides lot of the nutritional needs and we still have mornings, nights and weekends to provide breast milk straight from the tap.

A couple days ago, I was chatting with a coworker via IM and she was teasing me because it had taken me awhile to respond to her initial message. I had been in the Mother’s Room pumping and had told her so. Her response was “You’re still doing that?” and it got me to thinking the generally accepted idea that even if you keep nursing past one year, pumping always ends at the first birthday.

With Brooke, who was always fed a mix of formula and breast milk, I opted to stop pumping shortly after her first birthday. I replaced formula with whole milk and the amount of breast milk I was able to offer just didn’t make a big enough dent to be worth it.

However, when Leah turned 1 in June, I didn’t feel a need to stop pumping. And today, at 15 months and counting, I’m still pumping and don’t really have an ending time in mind. Here’s why:

uneven pumping output

Any guesses which side she’d nursed from that morning? LOL

If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It

This has always somewhat of a mantra for me when it comes to parenting and approaching milestones. Whether it is breastfeeding, potty training, moving out of rear-facing or harnessed car seats, I don’t feel a need to rush it. What we’ve got going right now is working so I don’t see the benefit to changing things.

I’m sure Keith would love to stop washing bottles at night and it would probably be slightly easier for daycare but other than that, there’s no real hardship associated with continued pumping that prompts me to stop.

If I Was Home, She Would Be Getting That Breast Milk

If I wasn’t working, I imagine we’d have one or two nursing sessions during the day in addition to the morning and nighttime ones we currently share. My view is that pumping and sending expressed milk to daycare was a substitute for nursing while we were apart during her first year and nothing fundamentally changed about that after her first birthday. Breast milk is still extremely beneficial for toddlers and I am happy to do what I can to get that nutrition to her every day.

I Kinda Like My Pumping Sessions

I recognize that I’m very blessed to have the pumping situation that I do. My company has designated “Mother’s Rooms” in every location I’ve ever been in. It is equipped with counter, sink, mini-fridge and chair. One of the Houston offices I worked in was super tricked out with a radio, table full of magazines and even a foot warmer/massager. My managers have never batted an eye at my need to be away from my desk to pump. So that time for me is an opportunity to step away from my computer and enjoy some Mama-Time. I read or watch Hulu on the Kindle, catch up on social media, jot down lists or even just close my eyes and mediate to the lovely hum of the pump.

pumping output

I’m at almost 11 gallons. Wonder what it will be when I’m all done!

I worked very hard to get to this point and still be nursing and pumping at 15 months. When my output rapidly decreased at around the 6 or 7 month mark, I tried everything – adding pumping sessions (up to 5x/day), fenugreek, blessed thistle, oatmeal, more water and when none of those worked, I eventually started taking domperidone which helped immensely. In fact, I am still taking the domperidone to maintain the supply I have now.

So I realize that it’s not always easy to “just keep going” and hope that any mamas who have the desire to keep going are able for as long as they wish.

Did you pump breast milk for your child(ren)? When did you stop? What was your experience like?

Weekly Meal Plan – Going For Two

Menu Plan Monday

This weekend Brooke had her first sleepover at our house and Keith was traveling with the football team so I’m impressed that I had time to get a meal plan together and grocery shop on Sunday. Not only that, I went ahead and planned for two weeks! Whoop!!

So here goes:

Meatball Subs
Chili – already made and in the fridge to be heated up!
Alton Brown’s Stove Top Mac n’ Cheese – Brooke’s suggestion for the meal plan
Where’s The Crust Pizza – I’be been wanting to try this for awhile. It should be perfect for Friday Pizza Night.
Creamy Broccoli Chicken Shells & Cheese – I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a copule weeks and its definitely happening this time!
Skinny Salisbury Steak with Mushrooms – I had lunch with Brooke at her school on her birthday and salisbury steak was on the menu. I’ve been craving it, but good, since then.
Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole – I have another one of these in the freezer if I need it!

In addition to these recipes, I also stocked up on a few quickies that I can throw together when needed:
Southern-Style Chicken Filets – Aldi carries these and they are like Chick-Fil-A chicken. We throw them on buns with the pickle and everything.
Hot Dogs
Hamburgers
Grilled Cheese & Popcorn – our regular Thursday night dinner

Throw in a leftover night or two and another night or two of eating out and we’ve got two weeks of meals planned and ready to get on the table. I’ll update next Monday and we’ll see how this two weeks at a time method is working for us.

How far in advance do you plan meals?

This menu plan is linked to Org Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday link up.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Guide to Calmer Back-to-School Mornings

Guide to Calmer Back to School Mornings
After the the more relaxed mornings of summer, back-to-school can bring a whole new level of chaos to our family. Here’s what works to keep things a little less hectic for my family.

The Night Before

One surefire way to have a calmer morning is to do as much preparation the night before. I find there to be two components of this that are equally important for me.

First, is the mental preparation aspect. Check your calendar and touch base with your husband. Does anyone have a special appointment tomorrow? Is it a special day at school that requires a special outfit or taking something to school. What are you going to have for dinner? Think through the whole day and have a grasp of what it’s going to look like.

It’s also not a bad idea to sit down with your kids and/or spouse and talk through the order in which you’ll do things. Do you want them to get dressed before or after breakfast? Does hair get brushed before or after teeth? Who will feed the pets? Which parent will change and dress the baby? Have those things figured out before you’re in the moment and things are chaotic.

Now it’s time to take action. This is when you make the lunches, pull anything that needs to thaw for dinner out of the freezer, and pick your outfit for tomorrow. I’m very blessed that Keith cleans up the kitchen while I’m putting Leah to bed but if he didn’t, I would do this every night. I think it starts the day of much better if the first thing you see when you go to make your coffee in the morning, isn’t a big ol’ mess in the kitchen. I try to also make sure backpacks and daycare bags are all packed up and ready too. I say try because I could be better at this. Even though I swear I won’t every morning, I tend to leave stuffing diapers for the morning and I lose too much time doing it. It’s not a terribly long task but better suited for the night before.

Don’t forget to get your coffee ready to brew too!! A great choice is the new Starbucks Fall Blend.

Crafted with Sumatran beans to provide the warmth of fresh spice notes, coffees from Kenya to add citrusy brightness as well as beans from Peru that offer balance and a subtle nuttiness. A layered and full-bodied blend reminiscent of fall season, this medium roast creates a cup that’s hearty and refined. Look for Starbucks Fall Blend where you buy groceries.

Get Up Early

Sorry mamas!! This is going to hurt you to hear just as much as it hurts me to say. Getting up before the rest of the house is a great way to calm the morning. Even if it’s only 15 minutes so you can have your coffee while it’s still warm.

For me, I get 45 minutes – 1 hour before Brooke gets up. I can grab a shower & slap on some makeup, put together my pump parts and throw them in my bag, pack my lunch and get started on our breakfast. When she finally rolls out of bed, I’ve already checked tasks off my list and my head is in a good place.

Create a ritual

Devotional Time with Brooke
I resisted getting up much before Brooke for a long time. But when we hit a rough patch with lots of outbursts and tantrums, I came up with a game plan for more one on one time. Since nights are crazy and Leah’s in a stage that still requires almost constant supervision, mornings would have to be it. So now, every weekday morning and quite often on the weekend too, Brooke and I have breakfast together, just the two of us. We work together to get breakfast around, eat, talk, read through a devotional. I treasure and look forward to that part of my day every day. Even though it means getting up earlier than I would otherwise need to.

Rituals don’t have to be that involved and don’t have to be with a kiddo. It could be as simple as time spent doing hair, putting shoes on, driving to school with your kids or a cup of coffee or prayer time with your spouse. Look at your morning and try to find a place where you can be intentional about your time spent with the others in your house and make it special.

Mornings can be a crazy time but I believe it’s so worth it to put some time and effort into making small changes that can start your day off on a much calmer note.

Do you struggle with chaotic mornings and need help calming them down? Feel free to ask for help in the comments.

Do you have a great tip for keeping mornings running smoothly? Share those in the comments too!!

This post was sponsored by Starbucks via the Modern Mom Insider Program. While I was compensated for this post, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Top 4 Reasons I Purchased the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle

4 Reasons I Bought the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle

As time is running out on this great deal, I wanted to take a minute and share with you the reasons that I think the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is such a great thing. So here are the Top 4 Reasons I Bought the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.

To Support Moms

One reason I make sure to purchase the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is to support other moms. The majority of the authors offering these books and resources (at a CRAZY discount to you) are women just like me who are offering their knowledge because they believe in the subject matter. But they are also supporting their families financially by writing and selling these books on their blogs. I’m happy to support that by buying an Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle.

It Saves Time

Next is something I think we can all relate to – saving TIME!! Can you imagine how long it would take to round up all this information and have it organized so it’s easy to use? Not only did the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle team gather up all these wonderful resources, they organized them too. When you download your files, they are already grouped in folders according to category. If your main interest is gardening and backyard homesteading, you don’t have to sift through the natural beauty or cleaning products books.

Variety of Formats

Another reason I’m totally in love with these bundles is the variety they offer. If you’re really into reading, there are 70+ eBooks to stick your nose in. Do you have a more interactive learning style, try out the eCourses. I’m excited about the Essential Oils course and the Grocery Savings Course. Maybe you’d like to try some of the products that are discussed in either of the above. If that’s the case, there are $200 worth of bonuses available to you. Some required a shipping fee but that is minimal in relation to the value that is being offered. My goal is to have requested all my freebies by the end of the week. Leah’s teething again so I think she’ll like the Baltic amber bracelet and I’m ready to get my stretch on with the 4-month membership to StayAtHomeYoga.com.

 

Healthy Family

Of course, the ultimate benefit of buying the bundle and using its resources is a healthier family. Making changes can be overwhelming but the items in this bundle make them more accessible. These eBook and courses are offered by real people who are sharing what they’ve learned through their own trial and error. Not every book will be for you but at this price, you can feel you’re getting a great value even if you don’t utilize every single piece. For me personally, my priorities will be real food recipes and green cleaning. When I get comfortable with those changes, I may add to that and look into natural beauty methods. I probably won’t ever open the homesteading books – and that’s okay!! The knowledge I’ve gained from the others will still greatly benefit my family.

I won’t take any more of your time talking about why I bought the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. Time is running out and I don’t want to keep you from getting your own bundle and starting your journey to a healthier family!

This post contains affiliate links. I may be compensated for any purchases made via links found in this post.

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