March 31, 2014

Raising your child with pets

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Litter Genie, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #petparents http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

 
If you know me, you know that I am a huge animal lover. Growing up, we always had at least two cats and one dog...often more. (10 cats and 3 dogs total over my childhood!) Having pets was just a normal part of my life...and I wouldn't have it any other way. Here I am at about 4 years old with our cat Tramp....he was the sweetest and always let me put my bracelets and necklaces on him.

 And me at about 3 years old with our dog Lady. Can you tell what my favorite movie was??? My pets were a source of comfort, fun, and unconditional love. So many of my childhood memories involve my pets and I can't imagine not having them.

My hope is that Hudson develops a love and respect for animals...just like I did. He already LOVES our two cats and dog...but they don't love him as much...yet. They prefer to watch his crazy antics from a distance. But I know that in a few years they will be inseparable...and that brings so much joy to my heart.

Raising your child with pets helps them to learn to care for and love something other than themselves. Animals teach your children how to have compassion and treat all living things with kindness and respect. Caring for pets, cleaning up after them, exercising them, and taking them to the vet for regular check-ups helps kids learn responsibility. When I was little I was in charge of feeding our pets dinner every night and walking, brushing, and bathing our dogs. I'm sure I complained at times about the level of responsibility, but I wouldn't change my experiences for anything. Having lots of pets was a highlight of my childhood, hands down.

There have even been studies that show dogs and cats help make babies healthier by building their immune system! Score!

Every morning Hudson greets our kitties with a big smile and is always excited to see him. Sophie is constantly watching what Hudson is doing...and often joins in on his game! She is fearless and only runs away when Hudson pulls her tail...we are still working on "gentle"...ha!

Our cats have a kitty door to our basement where they can escape (and use the litter box) Hudson loves to point and meow at them through the door....love! I can't wait for them to become best friends one day. Our home is more complete with our pets in it. We love them just like they were members of our family.

 We recently started using the Litter Genie from Target to make litter box clean-ups a breeze. It's been so helpful for keeping our home fresh and clean...which is a must when you have pets AND little ones! It functions just like a diaper genie...dump the poo in to it and it seals out the smell until it's time to throw out the bag. Cleaning up after our kitties is no longer such a dreaded chore because this makes it super fast...and I don't have to constantly lug poo to the trash bin. Even Hudson thinks it's fun! I can't wait for him to actually be able to help out! (he's just playing with the (clean) Litter Genie in this photo) Click here for a $3 off coupon to use on a Litter Genie at Target!

You can learn more about Litter Genie on Facebook and Twitter.


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March 28, 2014

5 on Friday

Three cheers for Friday! I'm so glad it's finally almost the weekend! As usual I'm linking up with the lovely ladies of The Good LifeA. Liz AdventuresCarolina Charm, and Hello Happiness for 5 on Friday...and you should too!
{one} I featured this jacket in my spring wish list yesterday, but here it is on! I am obsessed and want to wear it all the time! For size reference I'm wearing a medium and it's a little roomy in the body but perfect in the arms. It is adjustable but I kind of like it with the extra room. And the hood scrunches up too if you want and it is adorable! I'm so happy with my purchase!

p.s. love the laundry on the floor behind me? #keepingitreal

{two} I bought this wooden paddle brush from Aveda this week and it is like the best hair brush I've EVER had! It doesn't pull your hair and it is super easy to use when blow drying. I didn't think it could be possible to love a hair brush so much!

{three} This news story about self magazine making fun of a cancer survivor running in a tutu was blowing up my facebook feed yesterday. It's sad that a magazine promoting women's health would make fun of anyone who is trying to lead a healthy lifestyle...let alone a women who runs in a tutu and also makes them, sells them on her website, and donates the proceeds to charity. Shame on you self mag. I won't be buying you anymore.

 {four} I had an amazing chat with a soon to be mom about breastfeeding this week. When I think back about how it was often stressful to pump at work and keep my supply up I sometimes can't believe I actual did it all. But at the same time, I can't imagine not doing it. I miss those quiet moments that belonged to just me and Hudson. If you want to learn more about my Breastfeeding Diaries series please check it out here...and email me if you have any questions. I love being able to encourage other moms...breastfeeding or not.

 {five} On that note.....amen. Isn't it awesome when women encourage one another?


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March 27, 2014

Think Spring

Spring wish list
jacket / necklace / hat
Hunter boots / plaid shirt / necklace / shirt
converse / t-shirt / shorts / wedges

If I "think spring" that means it will start to BE spring right? We woke up to a fresh dusting of snow this week and I am SO OVER IT. This is the longest winter EVER. I grew up in California where it was basically spring and summer all year round...so I will NEVER get used to this weather. Ever.

But it hasn't stopped me from picking out a few little lovelies to add to my spring wardrobe wish list! I've been wanting a military jacket for forever so I already picked up this exact one and it is perfect for spring! I love it so much! It's the perfect length for us tall girls and looks so much cuter on than it does on the model!

And I'm drooling big time over both of those necklaces. And rumor has it those wedges are super comfy and easy to walk in.

What's on your spring wish list?


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March 26, 2014

The Breastfeeding Diaries: Amanda from The Digital Dutchess

Hi everyone!  I’m Amanda from The Digital Dutchess.  I’m a work-at-home-momma and wife to Steve, an avid Instagrammer, and a huge fan of Julie’s Breastfeeding Diaries series.  Just over a year and a half ago, I gave birth to an awesome little guy named Luke.  It was always my intention to try and nurse him, but I was also well aware of the fact that it might not happen for me since hardly anyone I knew was able to make it work.


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UntitledI can picture the exact moment my breastfeeding high was completely crushed.  It was 4AM, just one night after Luke was born.  We were sitting on the hospital bed, Steve holding our brand new baby’s head so I could nurse him at a better angle.  A nurse came in for our regular postpartum checkup, took one look at the baby while nursing, and instantly declared that he wasn’t actually nursing at all.  “No, this isn’t right. Look at his cheeks – they’re indenting when he sucks.  His latch is too shallow.  He’s not getting anything from you.”  She attempted to take him off and shove him back on me a few times before she announced that it “wasn’t working” and that we should consider giving him formula because he was “obviously starving.”  A few hours later, she returned saying that he had already lost 9% of his body weight and we would definitely need to start feeding him formula.  I was absolutely crushed.

Up until that point, I was pretty sure that we were on the easy path to nursing success – immediate latch after he was born, periodic nursing afterwards, and no pain on my part.  I remember texting my sister saying, “I think he’s getting the hang of this nursing thing!  I’m so happy!”

Apparently not.
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The next few months…yes, months…were the hardest months of my life.  I had quite a few issues that came up pretty quickly into our nursing relationship that took me by surprise.  I spent countless hours scouring the Internet trying to find success stories of women who had issues similar to mine, but I came up with nothing.  Here are 10 things that I wish I would have known before the first time I even attempted nursing.

1.  Have the doctor check for a tongue-tie once the baby is born.

Luke wasn’t diagnosed with a tongue-tie until his 2 week appointment, and by then, our pediatrician was hesitant to clip it since we were occasionally able to have him latch on.  I should have insisted on having it clipped, because it caused me A LOT of pain that probably could have been avoided.

2. Insist on seeing a Lactation Consultant as soon as possible…but be aware that each of them will probably have a different opinion on everything.

Luke was born late at night on the Friday of Labor Day weekend during a blue moon.  Needless to say, the hospital was slammed and somehow, we weren’t able to see a Lactation Consultant until Sunday, so we just stumbled our way through.  I had been asking each nurse for help positioning and latching since I knew it would probably not be easy.  When I finally was able to see one, they were too busy to spend much time with me.  If I would have insisted on seeing one as soon as he was born, I could have identified a few issues that caused me a lot of problems right off the bat.

I was also surprised by the fact that each LC we saw had a different story for us about our latching issues (which included a “vice grip” latch that was turning my nipples flat and white, inability to get any colostrum/milk, and extreme pain).  Some said there would be nipple confusion if we used a bottle and/or pacifier, some said there wouldn’t.  Some said I shouldn’t bother trying to nurse more than a few minutes on each side until my milk came in, some said I definitely should.  It was for this reason alone that I was extremely impatient to go home.  I was feeling frustrated, alone, tired, and terrified that I couldn’t make it work.  Not a good combination for someone who is already extremely hormonal.

3.  Have the Lactation Consultant check the flange size on your pumping equipment the first time you pump

Most women will probably fall into the standard size that comes with the pump, but I did not.  In fact, when I first started pumping, I needed a different size flange for each breast.  Not having the correct size can cause lots of problems, like pain while pumping, or even decreased milk supply.  I didn’t know this, and went 2 weeks before getting the proper sizes.

4. Start pumping as soon as possible.


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Weeks of pumping after every nursing session = freezer stash
Again, the hospital was slammed, and by the time Saturday night rolled around, I hadn’t pumped a single time.  The big yellow pump just sat in our room like an expensive decorative element.  My milk also showed no signs of coming in (and not pumping at all DEFINITELY didn’t help matters).  My milk might have come in sooner if I had started pumping every 2-3 hours immediately.  Which brings me to the next item…

5.  Your milk might not come in right away.  Or even in a few days. 

…Or in my case, until the afternoon of day 5.  Up until then, I kid you not, I only got out 3-4 drops of colostrum.  I was barely able to pump enough to take it out with my finger and spread it on Luke’s gums.  It was frustrating to say the least.  You read all these stories about how important it is for the baby to at least get the colostrum, and I couldn’t even give him that!  But, in talking with my mom, my sister, and even my sister-in-law, I knew that it might take awhile for my milk to come in…their average was 4 days.  Try not to be upset when the nurses come in asking where the colostrum you pumped is, and you have nothing to show for the last 20 minutes after almost 3 days.

Untitled6.  If your milk takes longer than a few days to come in, formula might be your only option for a while…and that’s okay!

As a new mom, giving formula felt like a slippery slope.  The first time the nurse gave Luke formula, he gulped down an ounce (!!!) at lightning speed.  Which, of course, made me feel like I was starving my baby.  Which brings me to my biggest and most important point…

7.  Just because your baby is taking lots of formula from a bottle while you struggle with nursing, that does not mean that you will never be successful at breastfeeding.

I cannot stress this enough.  I just needed someone to tell me that I could still make it work.  By the time Luke was 1 week old, he was already taking 4 ounces of formula at each feeding, along with a measly 15ml from me (again, slow/low milk supply initially).  He had also figured out that he could get milk a lot more quickly through a bottle than through nursing, so he was refusing to nurse entirely.  If I even tried to latch him, he would scream and thrash all around until I gave him a bottle.  Our pediatrician said it was doubtful that I would be able to nurse him at that point, and sent me home with tubs of formula. I tearfully called multiple Lactation Consultants trying to get in as soon as possible because I was so scared that he would never be able to go back to the breast.  I didn’t think I had a day to spare. (Note:  make a lactation appointment BEFORE you leave the hospital!)  In reality, it took 6 weeks before I was able to have Luke latch for longer than 2 minutes.  By 8 weeks, he was exclusively breastfed.  And we haven’t looked back since.

8.  It hurts.


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As countless others have mentioned, nursing is painful.  But I also noticed more pain on my left side, and the milk from that side was lumpy (gross, I know).  Turns out I had a plugged duct as my milk came in.  The best remedy?  Have the baby nurse as often as possible on that side.  Which didn’t do me any good considering my baby wasn’t even latching on in the first place. 

As far as the “regular” pain goes, that lasted until almost month 3 for me.  And then it finally started feeling normal (thank. goodness.).

9.  You will become fiercely protective of your nursing relationship.

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This might not be the case for everyone, but it was definitely the case for me.  I think because I fought so. hard. to make nursing work, I was just that much more determined to not let anything get in the way of it.  And even after 18 months, I still am.  I nurse him every single morning when I could easily have my husband give him a sippy of milk so I could (finally, truly) sleep in for once.  It bothers me if I miss a nighttime feeding.  He barely nurses for a minute or two anymore, but even those precious drops are worth it to me.

10.  You might never get the happy coos and amazing mutual bonding time you hear about, but it will still be an amazing experience.

Luke has never been a baby who “loves” nursing – I’ve always felt like he just does it out of necessity, and has always been extremely fussy at the breast.  I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve gotten those milky smiles and giggles you always seem to hear about.  But even without those “bonding” elements, I am in complete awe of the fact that my body has been able to nourish him for this long…but best of all, it helps me to feel closer to him.





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Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done, but it’s also my proudest accomplishment.  I remember walking in the hallway of the hospital crying because I couldn’t believe I couldn’t provide the one thing my baby needed most from me…the one thing that should have come “naturally.”  Well, natural doesn’t mean easy.  There are so many times that I came *thisclose* to giving up, and if it weren’t for my support system, I probably would have.  I’m SO glad that I stuck it out and was able to make it work, but I’m also well aware of the fact that he would have been just fine whether breast or formula fed.  You have to make the decision on what is best for you and your family given your circumstances…and don’t look back.  A happy baby and momma are more important than anything else.

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Be sure to catch up with the rest of the series at the top of my navigation bar! And if you would like to contribute your story to The Breastfeeding Diaries please email me at thegirlintheredshoes @ gmail

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March 25, 2014

Gettin' it done....

As a full time working mom (with my blog on the side) I get a TON of questions about how I get stuff done. And to be honest, I have no clue how to answer this question. Because I don't always get it all done...but sometimes I do. Luckily a good friend of mine has some amazing tips for getting things done...but first let's talk about how I make dinner.

Now, I'm no chef, that's for sure, but I manage to make dinner most nights. Except Fridays...because they don't count....and by them I am D-O-N-E and need a break!

So, here are a few of my "how to stay sane and make dinner" strategies:
(brought to you by my iphone and kitchen floor)
1. Distract, distract, distract. Utensils, straws, bowls, plastic baggies, you name it....they are all great distractions when you really need your hands free. 

 2. Make it a game. Hudson loves to play lobster with our kitchen mitts. The more I sing and dance and make it fun, the less complaining I hear from him!

3. Get them involved. This is rare in my house...but if it's something simple I let Hudson "help" out. Usually he just makes a mess and eats everything...but who could blame him? I want to eat ALL THE THINGS too!

4. Let it go. Sometimes there are tears. And sometimes there is a 27 pound child pulling on your leg. It happens. Hopefully daddy is home soon and can distract the little monster.

5. Give up. Some nights making dinner isn't going to happen. Those are called eat-pizza-and-salad-on-the-kitchen-counter nights. 

Thankfully, my real life friend, Jenny, has some amazing tips for staying sane when you sometimes have to parent solo. Fun fact: Jenny was the very first person I met when I moved to Michigan. She moved away to Colorado but now she's back! I see some Callie and Hudson play dates in our future!

Hello Red Shoe readers! I’m Jenny and I blog over at The Chronicles of We. I blog mostly about my almost two year old daughter, Callie, but also about my running and weight-loss journey, the process of building a house and our family’s little adventures. I know Julie from our time at Michigan State so naturally her blog was the first blog I started reading when I dabbled into the blogging world. Since then she’s been so helpful and supportive answering my questions as a newbie! I’ve been so appreciative for her guidance in blogging I’m thrilled for her to be my first blog I sponsor!


One of the reasons I love blogging is the chance to get and share ideas. My SAHM situation is unique in that my husband’s job is 100% travel. Jake is literally gone every week Monday-Thursday/Friday. I’m always trying to find ways to make parenting “solo” during the week more manageable. Here are some things that have helped me over the last two years that I think can help almost any mom:

 1. Prep for your morning the night before. I always program my coffee pot! If we have a play date the next morning I pack my bag the night before and pack snacks. If we’re going to the grocery store I make sure my list and coupons are already in the bag.

2. Get extra of things you use often so if the dishwasher doesn’t get run you aren’t out. My thing is sippy cups! We have a ridiculous amount of them but I always have a clean one (or twenty)! There have been times it’s been a life savor to soothe a screaming toddler with her favorite cup of milk!

3. Food pouches are not just for babies! I’ve eaten applesauce on the go with Callie. I have also used her reusable food pouches for smoothies for us both on the road too. We eat snacks/lunch on the road a lot and pouches are convenient and mess free!

4. I cook to have left overs so I don’t have to cook every night. Trying to cook dinner with a toddler, two cats and a dog alone is hard. I try to only twice a week while my husband is traveling. Cooking larger portions to intentionally have leftovers has been a game changer for me.

5. I give myself a pass – meaning I don’t pick up every night. Some days I’m just exhausted after Callie’s bedtime. Those days the toys stay out and the only thing I do before bed is make my pot of coffee.

6. Freezer meals. I have a couple of go-to meals that freeze really well, like these meatballs, and I always have them in the freezer. This way if when life gets crazy I know there is an easy healthy meal waiting for us. 

Because she's awesome, Jenny is giving away a $10 gift card to Starbucks! Enter below!

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