Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't Rain on My Parade

A few weeks ago our hometown celebrated the annual Chili Cook-Off which is always accompanied with a parade down the main street. For the past two years we have missed it for one reason or another so I wasn't going to let that happen this year. Even though it was thundering out and the sky was the shade of an avocado we were determined to show our hometown support.

When we arrived street-side to the parade I noticed all the other children carrying plastic bags. Ya know, to catch the loot.

Crap. Should have thought of that one. Quick on my toes, I remembered that I had a plastic bag in the car and one of those nylon bags that folds up into a little ball (that I swore I would use all the time) stashed somewhere in my purse. Score! After two years, I finally have a use for the darn thing that I compulsively bought while waiting for my turn in line at Pier One. I am the model of consumerism.

Parades are fun for about 15 minutes. There's only so much waving and smiling you can do and still look like you care. Yeah, the fire trucks were cool although I think they got a little horn happy. All that mattered to Bella and Mia was the candy they were tossing from the floats.

Dude, look at this. My children are vultures.

Especially Mia. She almost body slammed that little boy over a tootsie roll! Check it out--they're in a candy standoff!

My favorite part was when my former high school's marching band came barreling through. I don't know why but I get so proud whenever my kids see a part of my past. Which, btw I am TOTALLY taking them to the homecoming game this friday.

After they passed, Bella tugged on my shirt and told me that she wanted to play the saxophone. Aww, isn't that sweet.

One time at band camp......

But sadly, it did rain on our parade. Which literally happened about thirty seconds after the band marched off. As people ran for cover, my genius children thought it would be a perfect time to gank the rest of the leftover candy. I actually had to BEG them to get out of the streets and drop the WET candy. Yes, we are that family.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Camping We Will Go

If you had to choose someone to be stuck with on a deserted island, you might consider me for comic relief purposes or perhaps a good ear for listening or for getting your ass handed to you in a game of speed. But for survival reasons? Nah, you'd be wise to pass me up! Growing up, we weren't an outdoorsy type of family. Sure, we'd spend the night in a HoJo with an indoor pool, but never outside. And certainly, not in a tent.

When I met Eugene he shared so many fun stories about his memories of his family camping trips. Stories about sharing sleeping bags and meeting new friends on the campgrounds and cooking your food outdoors.

He even convinced me, on several occasions, to go camping too. And you know what? I loved it. It was so much fun. There's something so exciting about sleeping outdoors, sitting around a campfire and being stripped of your comfort zone. Recently, he had an itch to go camping again. And apparently this itch was worse than poison ivy because I came home one day to a 6 person tent erected in my living room. The next day he surprised me with a propane stove, which thanks Eugene, it is exactly what I've always wanted.

Trying my best to add calamine to his itch I deflected the idea because we have a newborn, and because I need to nurse and pump and because I don't get enough sleep as it is and because it might be too cold and wah wah wah. So he told me that he'd take the girls himself. Hold up! Wait a minute! Suddenly thoughts of me missing out on key family memories took over and I grudgingly agreed to go camping. For one night only.

One night or not, we still had the van completely packed. The best part? We took our dog Rizzo with us which made it so complete.

After chosing our spot, Bella and Mia had a hoot exploring their new "home."

It felt spontaneous and adventurous. I remember watching the girls playing in the dirt and thinking how happy I was that I agreed to do this. That lasted about 20 minutes until I freaked out that they were tracking dirt and sand into the tent.....but yes, happy memories.

After lunch we went for a walk exploring the campgrounds

We happened upon the KOA general store and couldn't pass up $.25 ring pops. Edible bling? Huge hit!

Although in hindsight I wish someone would've tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that an 8 carat sugar high about 2 hours before bedtime IN A TENT might not be the best of ideas.

For dinner, my very rugged husband cooked pasta arribiatta. Pause for laughter. Forget canned beans--this dude packed some panchetta. Hilarious, huh?! Watching him cook looked like some sort of Top Chef outdoor challenge. It may have been pretty funny to watch but it was, as always, delicious to eat.

Following the stereotypical camping handbook, we built a bonfire of course. Well, Eugene did, I just watched and contributed with several oohs and aaahs.

Which also meant that we had to make some Smores. Knowing it would be difficult for a 4 and 2 year old to hold, we created a toddler friendly version. We added some chocolate chips and marshmallows to those teeny tiny graham cracker pie cups, wrapped it in foil and added it to the fire.

They loved it!

By this time, the sun was gone and our fire died out pretty quickly. So I dressed them in about four layers of clothing and put them to bed in their sleeping bags. I'll never forget the moment (after all 3 kids were sleeping) that Eugene and I stepped out of the tent and was greeted by a thousand twinkling stars overhead. The night sky was so beautiful. Stars were everywhere.
It was one of those moments you know you'll always remember.

We crawled back into the tent and Eugene fell asleep rather quickly. I on the other hand, slept with one eye open most of the night in fear of getting gruesomely attacked by a Michiana chubacabra. I'm an odd one, I know.

Everyone slept pretty well, considering. Even Chance endured the cold. I had so many layers on the little guy that he totally looked like the kid from A Christmas Story. He could barely move his arms but dammit, he was warm. I remember cursing under my breath about around 3AM when I was half asleep, shivering while nursing him in the tent. But before I knew it, the sun was up and I was being "tapped" on the forehead as both girls decided to shout "WAKE UP MOMMMMMYYYYYYYY" at 6AM--waking up EVERYONE in the entire campground. Yeah, proud moment.

Overall, it was a perfect little getaway. Even though it was just one night---it made an impression on all of us, one that will last a long time. I adore little adventures like this that bring us all closer together. I have a feeling we'll be doing more camping when spring comes along. Anyone want to join us?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Feeling like P-Diddy

This video will self destruct because of the following

1) I am mortified that she is singing Ke$ha and not The Wheels on the Bus
2) This is what happens when you let your daughter spend the day with her aunt
3) I had to explain that the singer brushed her teeth with a "Jack"-in-the-box.

Oh lord, I'm doomed. On a side note Bella, while Ke$ha has the mentality of a roly poly and her lyrics are horrific, your phonemics, my dear, are spot on!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Under One Roof

A couple of weeks ago my entire family rented out an adorable old farmhouse cottage about 90 miles north of Chicago in a little town on the Michigan shore. The 13 of us had such a fun weekend together. If you've ever spent any time with my family you know that there's bound to be good laughs and good food, both of which were in abundance.

In fact, we had so much fun that I barely even took any pictures. Although I did manage to snap a few while we were at the beach. In the upper 90's, it had to be one of the last really hot days of the summer! Also, this was the first time all summer that we took the girls to the beach. We had a blast although they could have easily played in the sand all day long! It's amazing how laid back I am when they play with beach sand--far different from the raging bitch I become when they play with their dirty little sandbox at home.

As for our accommodations? Well, I loved the style of the house. It was what I would call cottage chic. A good balance between the old and the new, which I've really been into lately. Like take for example this little sitting room

On it's own, I probably never would have taken a second glance at the leopard chair, but next to the plaid chair I think they make such an impact. Actually, looking closely, the bones of the leopard chair are pretty badass.

I'm sure they had it reupholstered from an antique.

And how cool is this dresser? So cool!

I'm dying to know if the piece came with the numbers or if it's something someone added? Either way it makes a simple looking dresser look like a piece of art. Amidst the five different layers of paint and unique drawer pulls--there's character. It's pieces like this that inspire me to refurbish old furniture. I love the history.

But I love my family more. And I realized how much we all needed this time together. We haven't had a family vacation since my brother got married 4 years ago. It felt great to be under one roof again--just like old times. All the siblings laughing, arguing, laughing some more. It was my childhood--just an older version of it.

Thanks for a memorable weekend! We loved every minute of it!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thank you!

I can't thank you all enough for your words of encouragement from my last post. And thank you for sharing your experiences. I'm relieved to know that I'm not alone in this struggle.

I swear, the power of gal pals always amazes me!

The truth is, had it been you writing that post I would have had the SAME exact advice to give. I know that formula is great. I know that in the grand scheme it doesn't matter. But knowing this and feeling the way I feel are two totally different things. I wish I could just hang up the emotions on a shelf and think logically but it's really hard to do as a mom, when all you want is the very best for your dependent little bundle. But I know that I'll continue to do whatever it takes. I think I always will. And right now it's a little bit of matter the cost. In fact, I thought of all of you as I nursed him in a freezing cold tent at 4AM last night! The things we'll do, huh?!

Thanks friends and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The F Word

Today, the 8th of September, marks the 55th day that I've held Chance in my arms and thanked God for giving me someone so precious. But friends, it also marks the 55th day that I have spent stressed, worried and emotional over the frustrations that I've experienced breastfeeding him.

Before I begin, let me note that I am a huge breastfeeding advocate, for all the reasons the experts say and mostly because of the closeness I feel to my child when I'm doing it. It is the most honest and most natural gift I could give him. I have had two very different journeys with my daughters. With Bella it sadly only lasted several months. Mia however, lasted 16 months being solely breast fed. The girl NEVER once took a bottle (believe me, I tried). There was something about the bottle that she didn't like so it meant that her and I were attached to each other like crazy and I loved every minute of it, as documented here.

I expected the same result with Chance and have had the HARDEST time accepting anything other than what I experienced with Mia. Here's my story....

From the moment I first nursed Chance (within hours of his delivery) he had trouble latching on to my left breast (SAME exact thing with Bella). The lactation consultant recommended that I use a nipple shield that helps to ensure a better latch. It worked for him but it was a pain in the ass for me. Seriously. It made nursing him a "production" where someone needs to hold him while I wrangle the shield in place and hope it stays on before I attach him and hope he doesn't move it out of place.....yadda, yadda, yadda. You get the picture. The problem is that using the shield sometimes slows production down.

But keep in mind I was willing to do whatever it took.

Every week I've attended a nursing group where you get your baby weighed so you can track progress. The first week was good---he gained the appropriate amount. The second week was not so good, he barely gained anything. But figured we'd give it another week. But again, he gained very little. At three weeks old he still wasn't at his birthweight! The lactation lady mentioned that I should supplement with formula. I shuddered at the F word. I just wasn't willing to do that. So I mentioned this to my OBYGYN and he wrote me a prescription for a 12 day run with--get this--an acid reflux medicine that just so happens to have a side-effect of increased milk supply. Funny, huh. Apparently this medicine increases the prolactin which creates the milk.

So, of course, I said yes--whatever it took.

The side effects of this medicine? EXTREME FATIGUE. I mean like in the middle of a conversation I would totally doze off. It was awful. (also, if taken longer than 12 days it could lead to depression. Which, um, no thanks....don't wan't that). So imagine being already exhausted from nursing 14 times a day---but add this medicine to the mix and I was a zombie! But, guess what? My milk supply was great and little boy Chance was gaining the weight he needed. After I finished the designated dosage, sadly, my supply went down again. So this time, instead of nursing him, they told me that I should nurse AND PUMP after each feeding. Do you have any idea what it takes to just nurse a child with two other kids running amok but now I have to pump as well?

One particular night, since Chance was sleeping, I decided that I would pump some milk and then give it to him in the bottle. I went to pump and got nothing. Not even an ounce! I waited an hour, drank some water and tried again. Still only an ounce. WTH? How is that possible? Sure I had a stressful weekend and I was barely sleeping----but to have no milk for your kid? I was devasted. And So I had no choice but to give him a bottle of formula. It killed me to do it---but i had to.

Whatever it took.

The next morning I called my gals at the hospital and they recommended an herbal remedy called More Milk, which is a combination of fenugreek and blessed thistle which helps production. I took that for a week while I pumped and supplemented. But still, I could only produce half of what he needed at each feeding. I pretty much stopped nursing and focused on pumping. Seeing only 2 oz. was so heartbreaking! I tried everything: eating more meats, drinking more water, having a daily beer but nothing seemed to be working.

But then I thought about Mia and how I never really knew how much she was getting because I always nursed. Maybe if I wasn't faced with "measurements," then I would feel more at ease. Maybe Chance gets more satisfaction from 30 minutes nursing than a 4 oz. three minute bottle? Or maybe he doesn't get enough from nursing? Maybe its too much of a comfort? Maybe he's tongue tied? I needed to know if it's me or if it's him. I needed to know, for real, if my milk supply was adequate. So I decided (this past week) that I would go back to nursing him for a week so that I could get an accurate reading on his weigh-in day. The good news? I got him off the shield. Yay! That made me so happy. I nursed him almost 12 times a day for 6 days. We became that perfect team. In fact, I was actually excited for the first time going to the weekly meeting. I walked in there with confidence--proud of getting him off the shield, proud of nursing him with no other supplements. Just plain proud!

Knowing that the ideal weekly weight gain is 7 ounces, I stripped him down, changed his diaper and put him on the scale.

He only gained 2 oz.

I just stared at him.

Then the lump in my throat started getting bigger and I felt every emotion that I've tried to hold back these past 55 days come rushing to me. I cried right there. Feeling exhausted, defeated, and broken I scooped him up. I heard the lactation consultant ramble off something about the F word but I wasn't paying attention. I just kept staring at him in my arms--my tears pouring down. Why is this happening? Why is the most natural thing on earth not working this time? What am I doing wrong? All of these thoughts came over me. Trying not to make a scene, I dressed him as fast as I could and left the meeting to cry more in my car.

Whatever it took.

The bottom line is this, I cannot produce enough for him. I've tried everything I can. But I can't seem to throw in the towel. I think I need to accept that getting some breast milk is better than not getting any at all. And if I need to pump and add formula, than so be it. The whole situation just leaves me so defeated.

So mom friends, and non-mom friends for that matter, am I being ridiculous? Should I continue to try? Should I willingly accept giving formula? Should I continue trying this hybrid of formula and breast milk? Should I wave the white flag and surrender to formula?

Got any magic potions to send my way?

Any advice would be appreciated......thanks!

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Secret?

My secret to being a patient, fun, energetic and all around good parent?

A Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino Lite!

I am in LOVE with this drink. And how could you blame me? With a mere 130 calories, 1g of fat (2 WW points) it is the perfect pick-me-up, perfect meal replacement and perfect dessert substitute, all in one. Those statistics are for a tall, but the grande is still only 2 WW points. Which is why I go for the grande!! It's great for someone like me who's not a coffee drinker but sincerely needs a daily wake up drink. You would be amazed at the before and after in my personality.

Just ask my kids!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Handsfree and a trip to Costco!

"Jack Nabbit, I'm not Octopus Mom!!!"

is a phrase I find myself howling at my daughters almost daily. They honestly want me to do seven things at once and proceed to give me a bewildered looking stare when I can't comply. And of course they always ask for these things when I'm either holding or nursing little Chance. It is beyond annoying. It's uber annoying.

But hang tight web friends, because guess who's big enough for my holy grail, errr I mean Baby Bjorn?

This little guy.....

Yes, that's right. My little squirt finally reached the 8 pound mark which means that I can "officially" carry him handsfree strapped to my rather large chest. Don't worry Chance, breathing is overrated.

At his one month check up he received a perfect bill of health! The doctor was pleasantly surprised to see that his fist pump rivals that of "The Situation."

She was also pretty amazed to see that he can bench press the weight of four fingers. Atta boy!

Me? Well, I'm just smitten over him. Could you blame me?

Though, I have to admit, I've been spending most of my energy these days making sure that the girls have as much fun as they can before we officially bring summer to a close. And I'm not sure about you, but what could be more fun than a trip to Costco?!!

Make no mistake about it, a successful Costco trip comes at a cost. Yeah, like the promise that they can try every single tester, split a hot dog and add some watered down lemonade to their "canteens."

And like any smart mom, I oblige.

And can I just point out that I want so badly to own one of the Costco TWO SEATER shopping carts!! Sure, it's the size of a small Hummer and can't turn for shit......but they keep my kids in one spot and about four feet off the ground, and for that, I love it! Dude, I'd bring it to church if I could.

And of course every Costco trip ends with the exit employee scanning our receipt and comparing it with our cart, while I simultaneously make the speech in my really annoying high pitched mom voice "the girls were so good today, mam."

Which really means

If you forget or simply decide not to draw your stupid little smiley face or bunny rabbit on the back of my receipt my girls will lose their effin' shit. So please, for the love of a stranger, draw something-ANYTHING- on the back of this receipt so that it will ensure two happy giddy little girls a pleasant ride home and an even better unloading experience for me.

And guess what? It works like a charm every time.

Parenting at it's finest!


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