February 28, 2013

The Work at Home Mama

Did you all hear the news about Yahoo ending it's work from home policy? It just makes me so sad to think about it. I understand that CEO Marissa Mayer wants to shake things up a bit....and that there might not be enough accountability from those who work from home at Yahoo...but still. I'm worried that this could have repercussions with other employers, and that the hard work of so many moms who work from home will come in to question. It also saddens me because the CEO is a mom herself. I would think that she would be more sympathetic towards working moms....it's tough enough to raise a baby, let alone have to work too! And I expect more from Yahoo...they are a technology company after all.

 photo DSC_0499.jpg
Can you blame me for wanting to stare at this face all day?

As a new mom, working from home has been a lifesaver. I think it's the only thing that has allowed me to keep it all together. It has helped me create more work-life balance and because of it I am a happier, more productive employee. Now, I only work from home one day a week...but I cherish that day. I love that day. For me, working from home makes me a more diligent and loyal employee. I am the first person at my work to be allowed this option....and it was tough getting them to say yes. But now that I do get to work from home I am super motivated to make things work and prove myself. Some of the arguments for not allowing people to work from home are that less work gets done. Which I totally understand...but that is SO not the case for me! I frequently get more things accomplished from home than I do in the office. I have fewer distractions at home. When I'm in the office I chat with my co-workers or get interrupted constantly by walk in appointments and my phone ringing. But at home it's much easier to concentrate. Now that Hudson is a little bit older and starting to be able to play on his own I can devote more time to working. As long as I'm sitting next to him with my laptop he's happy as can be to play with his toys or bounce in his jumper. Plus, I don't have to "get ready" for work and pack all of our bags up for the day and instead can work during that time. 

I think that companies who offer a work from home option not only prove to their employees that they trust them, value their work, and value their personal life, but also they have a competitive edge. What do you think? Does your company allow employees to work from home? Are you a work at home mama? How do you find work-life balance?

February 27, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Emily from Simple Suburbia

Thank you for all of your sweet emails about the breastfeeding diaries series! The support everyone has shown each other has been amazing....and we are helping people too! I am honored today to introduce you all to Emily, this week's guest writer for the breastfeeding diaries. She is a working mama and has been breastfeeding her sweet little boy for 9 months and is still going strong! 
Hi everyone! I'm Emily from Simple Suburbia. I'm Mommy to Carson and wife to Nick. I was super excited when Julie asked me to do a guest post as part of her breastfeeding series! When I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to try to breastfeed, but I told myself (and everyone else) that I wouldn't be disappointed if it didn't work out. Now? Carson is 9 months and I would be pretty bummed if we had to supplement! I see nothing wrong with formula (I was a formula baby), but I figure if I've made it this far, I can't quit now!

I've been lucky to have a fairly smooth breastfeeding journey but my one struggle was with my supply. I went back to work when Carson was just about 3 months. At work I was only able to pump once each day. I knew this wasn't enough but there was no way around it. Unfortunately the less frequent nursing/pumping caused my supply to go down drastically. At first, I panicked. I could have quit and started dipping into my freezer stash, but I was determined to try a few things first. I researched online (and asked friends) about boosting your supply. I found out about things like Fenugreek, Mother's Milk tea, and Reglan. I don't like tea so that would be a last resort. I definitely didn't want to take a prescription that wasn't necessary. I decided to try Fenugreek. I picked it up at my local grocery for about $5 and took 3 pills 3 times a day. It seems like a lot, but I had read that less than that didn't work well. Please be warned, you WILL smell like maple syrup. I'm pretty sure it was coming out of my pores. I did this for about a week and also really started chugging water. Staying hydrated is essential for your supply! After a week my supply was back to where I wanted it to be and I was able to quit taking the Fenugreek!

I would say the most important thing you can do when breastfeeding is find some support! Whether it be a friend, a lactation consultant, a fellow blogger, your child's pediatrician, or someone else...you need someone to go to! I am lucky enough to belong to a birth month group with over 200 members and believe it or not, we're all very close. We have an entire breastfeeding support group where I can go to ask questions, vent, get advice, etc. My local hospital also has a free breastfeeding support group every week led by a lactation consultant. Make sure to see what's available in your area! KellyMom.com is also a great online resource for breastfeeding.

Come visit my blog to find Carson updates, recipes, craft ideas, and lots of randomness in between! :)
Isn't he the cutest? Thanks Emily!

Interested in guest posting as a part of the breastfeeding diaries series or have a question about breastfeeding? Send me an email (located under "contact" at the top).

February 25, 2013

It's not just what you say, it's how you say it

 Now that I'm a mom, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to raise this special little boy that has brought so much joy to my life. I want him to be gracious, thankful, kind, and sincere....and an important part of that means being able to say thank you. I want Hudson to learn the importance of the thank you note from an early age. It's such a simple gesture but it can really mean a lot.

 Do you know what makes writing a thank you note more fun? When the notes you use are cute and personalized! I received these beautiful thank you notes for Hudson from Tiny Prints. And let me just say this....I LOVE THEM! 

 I knew the notes would be perfect because Hudson's birth announcements from Tiny Prints were beyond adorable. You can read about them here....they are still one of my favorite things. Was he ever that small? Time is flying!

 Tiny Prints has an amazing selection of thank you notes....I seriously had the hardest time picking just one! Hudson thought long and hard about what he would write in his thank you note.

I'm excited to start teaching him the importance of saying thank you and being grateful.

As a kid I remember the thrill of receiving something in the mail addressed to me....actually it still brings me joy! I love getting mail, don't you?

I love these sweet notes with Hudson's name on them. You can find them here. Do you love getting a note in the mail? Do you have a go-to personalized stationary?

February 21, 2013

Married....With a Pup

I am so thankful for the relationships I've been able to make through blogging. I think that relationship building is the key to growing your blog and your readership....so when I find a blog I love I want to share it with everyone! I don't even remember how Katie and I found each other's blogs but I'm SO glad we did! Katie's blog is called Married....With a Pup. Cutest blog name ever? I think so! I can always count on Katie to brighten my day and I'm so excited to share her with you! Trust me....you'll love this girl!

Hi! I'm Katie from Married...With a Pup. I'm going to take a second and thank Julie for letting me take over her amazing blog for a second. Seriously, don't you just love her blog and her DIY projects? And now with her little baby boy, this place is overwhelmed with cuteness!

So, as you can probably tell from my blog name, I'm married with a pup! Crazy, right? Well, let's take a look at these two men before we go any further:
Ribbet collage
Yup, basically these two guys are my life. So, besides Derek and Brutus, my blog captures about everything in between.

Our travels...


We recently made our second trip to Nashville and fell even more in love with this city. We are huge travel people and try to get somewhere every couple of months.


Our all time favorite place in the world is Bellagio, Italy. We were there last fall and I cannot wait to start planning another trip abroad. Did I mention I like to plan...and organize?

Ribbet collage2
So, this is a major case of organization in our house. I try to do projects like this on the weekends that Derek works. But sometimes, it can be a bit overwhelming to tackle a project every other weekend. So, I end up finding a printable on Pinterest and calling it day. See?

IMG_0414e
You will definitely see DIY projects around our house as well. In fact I'll be sharing one on my blog at the end of this week, so make sure you stop by and check it out!

And by no means am I a fashion blogger, but sometimes I'll post my looks on my Instagram (find me at Marriedwithapup)

photoe
Love shopping and putting together outfits.

Lastly, you will see recipes that revolve around party-food, entrees, desserts, and maybe even some adult beverages!

DSC_1260e

Seriously, how fun would these be for St. Patrick's day?

Feel free to stop by and say hi.  Thanks again, Julie!

February 20, 2013

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Holly from Oregon Mama

Hi friends! Welcome to the first guest post for the Breastfeeding Diaries! I am SO excited to share several mom's stories with you....each entry I've read so far has been wonderful, touching, and inspiring. Today I'd like to introduce you to Holly from Oregon Mama. Holly and I are real life friends and have known each other since we were 15! She is one of the kindest, sweetest, most genuine girls I have had the pleasure of calling a friend. Not only is Holly a breastfeeding rockstar to her 8 month old baby Abigail, she is also the mama of triplets! Yes....that's right! Girlfriend has four adorable kiddos. 
Take it away Holly.....
Whether by pumping or nursing, the decision to provide breast milk for a baby takes commitment. And while pumping can be an effective (even sometimes necessary) way to provide nourishment to your baby, there is just nothing that compares with the experience of breastfeeding. I have done both. I’ve exclusively pumped for and breastfed…four babies. My first three came all at once, as triplets. They were born 13 weeks prematurely and were unbelievably small (our littlest weighed just 1 pound 9 ounces). They were unable to take food by mouth for the first few months of life, so I pumped. And pumped. And pumped. And pumped. Every three hours, on the hour, for six…long…months. It was a lot of work. It was, at times, very sad. It wasn't what I had dreamed of, and it definitely wasn't super-comfortable or attractive (two plastic flanges turning your nipples purple from milking you like a cow isn’t quite as picturesque as a sweet baby at your breast). But pumping served a purpose: my babies got the perfectly-made-for-them breast milk they so desperately needed and it provided me with a tangible way to mother them at a time when there wasn’t much else I could do. At the time, I imagined pumping to be “easier” than breastfeeding: I could do it whenever I needed to just by sitting down with my pumping parts and clicking on the pump motor (I used the Medela Pump in Style Advanced, like Julie). When we came home from the hospital with all three babies, 110 days after their birth, I continued to pump. I tried several times to see if I could get the triplets to nurse, but they had gotten so accustomed to bottle feeding in the NICU that they considered nursing more of a time to play around than to actually eat – and with three babies eating every three hours around the clock and trying to pump in between – I felt too exhausted to keep trying. 

My husband and my lactation consultant super excited about some of the first milk I had pumped for the triplets

Two years later, we found ourselves happily expecting our fourth child. And although breastfeeding her was something I desperately wanted to do, as a former “pumping junkie”, the concept of breastfeeding exclusively seemed foreign and kind of overwhelming to me.  Having grown up as an only child and not really ever seeing women nursing their babies in front of me, I had a lot of unanswered questions about the process. I knew it was best for baby nutritionally and there was a bonding element involved, but there was a lot I didn’t know about it that made me feel kind of anxious that I somehow wasn’t “prepared” or “qualified” to do it right, especially since my attempts with the triplets hadn’t been successful.  My best friend (a Bradley Method Instructor for natural birthing) lent me her favorite breastfeeding guide, Breastfeeding Made Simple, by Mohrbacher, and Kendall-Tackett) which alleviated oh so many of my anxieties. In a nutshell, it encouraged me to stop worrying and to stop trying to overcomplicate the process. Feeding at the breast is instinctual for baby and something baby is “hardwired” to do, just so long as that instinct isn’t interrupted and baby is given every opportunity to nurse – especially during those first 40 days while mama’s milk supply is being established. It taught me things I’d never heard before about milk production, like how milk levels actually rise and fall throughout the day and how baby might want to feed several times close together in a short period of time when those levels are high, also known as “cluster feeding”.  Had I not known these things ahead of time, I might have wrongly concluded that baby wasn’t getting enough milk or that I was doing something wrong! The book gave me confidence that I really was prepared (and perfectly designed) to breastfeed. So when Abigail was born (naturally, and on her due date!) she was immediately placed on my chest to nurse, and now, eight months later, it’s still her favorite place to be.
Abigail breastfeeding shortly after her birth

I still practice “responsive breastfeeding” (letting baby eat whenever she’s hungry) because I find it makes for a very happy, contented baby and a really good milk supply. Baby knows best when to eat…and how much! And words cannot express the joy and intense bond I feel with this sweet babe as she takes her warm little hand and gently rubs my arm while she nurses, or slowly pats my other breast as she sighs happily, half-asleep, rhythmically swallowing in big, satisfied gulps. After the trauma we went through with the triplets, nursing Abigail has been a healing balm. I do most of her feedings lying down, both of us on our sides with our tummies touching. It is a welcome time of rest and reprieve throughout the day (not to mention a super convenient position at night); no sitting up, no tired arms from holding a heavy, growing baby, just pure breastfeeding bliss. Her chubby little legs and feet tucked just beneath my bellybutton is seriously just about too much adorableness to handle. But it’s taken time and practice and perseverance to get here. Those first few weeks of sore nipples and engorgement were not easy. I saw a lactation consultant and had help from my doula to get me through it. I also recommend the My Brest Friend nursing pillow for at least the first month or two. It’s really firm and clips around you to create a perfect little “shelf” right under your breasts to help support baby, because believe me - it can get pretty darn tiresome trying to hold baby’s body and head with one hand and your breast with the other as you try to get a good latch in those early weeks! But that all gets easier day by day, and now if my nipple is anywhere near her mouth that girl will find a way to perfectly latch herself on to that thing like a puppy hanging from a new leather shoe…without any help from me at all! 

My lovely view

Breastfeeding in public was a little tricky during the first few months. Newborns don’t make it very easy to breastfeed discreetly, and Abigail refused to eat under a cover. A few of my friends recommended that I invest in a couple of nursing tanks – which has turned out to be the best investment ever! I bought a black one and a white one and I wear one every single day under my clothes (instead of a nursing bra) and I’m now able to nurse in public discreetly and with confidence because it provides quick, easy access for baby while still keeping my belly and back totally covered and her head covers the rest! I like the Basics brand from Target: they’re stretchy and thin and super supportive. Like Julie, I’ve nursed a LOT in my car, but being able to nurse in public, wherever I am, has made feeding her so easy and convenient! Since I feel the most “exposed” during the initial lifting of my shirt and positioning her on my breast, I’ll often go to a less crowded place or a restroom to get her latched on and then once she’s feeding well and I’ve had a chance to arrange my shirt so I’m mostly covered up, I’ll carry her back to wherever I was…while she eats, and with a nursing tank on it basically just looks like she’s fallen asleep in my arms!  I’ve found many people to be openly supportive and encouraging (lots of smiles and nods of approval and such), but on those days when I’m feeling a little timid or even “guilty” about nursing in public, well then I almost feel like it’s my duty to be bold and to help normalize breastfeeding in our culture by doing it wherever I am when she needs to eat, with a confident smile on my face and a big, happy baby on my breast. And as a wise breastfeeding friend of mine likes to say: “If they see a nip, they see a nip. If they don’t like it they can stick their head under a blanket or go eat their lunch in the bathroom!”

Breastfeeding my 8 month old baby in public…at Starbucks

Breastfeeding has become truly effortless these days. I can nurse Abigail lying down, sitting up, even walking around the house and holding her with one arm while I get stuff done! Her food is always available, it’s always the perfect temperature, it’s the perfect nutrition for her little growing body, and nothing feels as good as watching baby satisfied at the breast. Knowing what I know now after these first 8 months of breastfeeding Abigail, I really wish I hadn’t given up on it with the triplets. Even if I hadn’t been able to breastfeed them exclusively, I wish I wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to at least “nuzzle nurse” them (breastfeed for comfort and bonding rather than strictly for nutrition) and enjoy that special bond that only breastfeeding provides. At the time I was in survival mode and very stressed about pumping enough milk for them. Now I see I was overcomplicating it all, and that truly, breastfeeding is just as easy as any other method of feeding (if not easier)…and the most rewarding, too. Shortly after Abigail was born I met an elderly woman, in passing, while I was out with my new baby. With tears in her eyes as she gently touched Abigail’s tiny, pink, wrinkled newborn foot she said: “I breastfed every single one of my babies. It was the sweetest time of my life.”  I know many years from now I’ll feel the very same way about breastfeeding. Actually, I already do. 

If you have any questions for me or Holly, please email me (under "contact" at the top).
Catch up with the Breastfeeding Diaries here:
 Part 1: Getting Started
Part 2: First Days
Part 3: Getting Established
Part 4: Pumping and Working 

Part 5: Moving Forward

February 19, 2013

I'm the Kinda Girl Who....

I'm the kinda girl who.....
Washes her hair twice a week...it's not always pretty my friends. 

Always has gummy bears stashed somewhere in my house....well, except when my husband eats them first.
 Takes pictures of my kid's poop explosions and posts them to instagram. (you can find me at girlintheredshoes)

Eats the exact same thing for lunch every day. Spinach salad and turkey sandwich, in case you were wondering.
Pretends our pets speak in different accents. Wrigley and Henry are French (aka Monsieur and Henri) and Sophie is a Southern belle. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this.

Is obsessed with baby pajammas....or just "jammas" as we call them in our house.

Wore red shoes on my wedding day and named my blog accordingly.

Will do just about anything to get my baby to smile. Including talk in the annoying baby voice I swore I would never use.

Links up with awesome bloggers...and you should too!

February 18, 2013

You're Gonna Miss This...

 You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back

You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast

These are some good times 
So take a good look around

 You may not know it now...

But you're gonna miss this.

Song (and tears in my eyes) courtesy of Trace Adkins.

p.s.....the winner of the Crystal Faye necklace and bangle is Amy from A Glimpse of the Gouglers! Congrats Amy! And stay tuned for more fun goodies from Crystal Faye!

February 14, 2013

Owl Be Your Valentine....Saw it, Pinned it, Did it

Happy Valentine's Day! Or should I say happy Vowlentine's Day?

I'm linking up with Katie and Stephanie for Saw it, Pinned it, Did it, so that I can show off the super cute and super easy owl Valentine's Day cards that Hudson is giving to his daycare buddies!
 Hudson is so excited to eat pass these out today.


Here is the original pin, via artsy-fartsy mama.

She made a girl version and a boy version....obviously I selected the boy ones....but man, the girl ones were super sweet. Then I simply downloaded the free printable and sent them electronically to Fedex to print. Easy peasy. And it only cost a few dollars!
Then I cut them out....and totally could have attached candy to them by cutting a space around the owl's feet...except that most 5 month-olds I know don't eat candy.

I thought they needed a little extra pop, so I backed them on different colored paper...and I LOVE how they turned out!

And of course I have to include a photo of my little valentine! I could just eat him up, he's so dang cute!

Lovin' his little Valentine's Day outfit! The personalized onesie is from Leah's shop Simply Made with Love. Thanks Leah!

p.s. don't forget to enter my Crystal Faye bracelet and bangle giveaway here

Blogging tips