Saturday, September 28, 2013


What's old is new again to Anna in the form of Charlotte's toys.  We've had to start having discussions about sharing as well as not putting Charlotte's toys in Anna's mouth.

She's clearly taking our talks to heart : )

Friday, September 27, 2013

Remote controlling

Who needs toys when you have a remote control?  Something about those buttons and bright colors has mesmerized both of our girls at this age.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Selfies, take two

Mike was mowing the grass a few weeks ago, so the girls and I decided to try our hand at selfies.  Smashing success.  Just smashing.  Please note the sarcasm : )

The test picture ... please note the "helping" hand : )

Maybe the best one of the bunch?  Still not a framer, though.

And, that's a wrap ...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mommy Moments: Milk Drunk

I've written before about the journey of breastfeeding here and here.  It’s a roller coaster and I’m currently in a very low valley, desperately wishing I could get back on top.  To date Charlotte has only had breast milk as her liquid nourishment, but that’s likely to change this week.  I was able to build up a decent (180 ounces) of frozen milk during maternity leave, but due to a regular shortfall in production, it’s nearly gone and it’s inevitable that I start to supplement with formula. 

As I write today, I have six frozen ounces of milk available to make up my daily four-ounce-shortfall.  You can do the math to know this means that something’s got to give and I’ll likely have to start supplementing Charlotte’s bottles by Wednesday.  It’s not like I live under a rock or didn't know this day was coming; since returning to work in July, and as I reached into the freezer almost daily to thaw a bag or two, I knew it was only a matter of time.  But I thought I’d come to terms with it.  I tried to mentally prepare myself.  To pre-mourn the end of this wonderful era.  But, to be totally honest, it breaks my heart.  Two times this past weekend I walked down the aisle of a store to purchase formula and couldn't handle the surge of emotions.  I got so far as to look at a few of the name brands and the prices before I literally ran away.  And by the time I made it to my car I was in full meltdown mode. 

I spoke with my lactation consultant last week and she “diagnosed” me as being incompatible with a pump.  You name a trick or a tip and I've tried it; including relaxation techniques, looking at pictures of Charlotte, reading magazines and books, smelling the scent of my baby on a piece of her clothing, compressing and massaging.  I drink water like it’s my job, ensure I don’t miss meals, and eat lactation-inducing foods, like oatmeal, often.  I've experimented with times and lengths of the pumping sessions.  I’ve done it all and I never get more than seven ounces total in a day, sometimes much less.  I need twelve ounces and even with the two ounces I get before I go to bed each night, I’m still at least three ounces short each day.  Yet I still do it.  And I’ll still do it until the end of this journey when Charlotte is weaned. 

I've suffered through eight clogged ducts and three bouts of mastitis with Charlotte alone.  Breastfeeding means that no matter what, I’m the one that gets up with her in the middle of the night and first thing in the morning.  It means I've had to breastfeed in public places, pump in a car (both parked and moving), have to plan our outings around feeding schedules, have often times had milk stains on my clothing, and it means missing some time with Anna.  But it’s SO worth it to me.  It’s what my body was made to do and a gift I want to give my daughter. 

This all may seem trivial, but it’s heartbreaking to me.  I feel like my body is failing me, but really it’s not.  When we’re together I’m all Charlotte needs, she nurses and is happy and content afterwards.  It’s extracting the milk from my body when she’s away from me that’s the challenge.  Every woman is different and I've sat next to friends and heard stories of women that can fill two 8-ounce bottles in 10 minutes, while it can take me up to 20 minutes to pump four ounces, on a good day.  I’m currently taking a supplement that may help, but will make me smell like maple syrup and requires taking 3-4 capsules 3 times a day.  Because I pump at work and am committed to seeing my girls for a few hours in the evenings, it means I have to make up the time spent away from my desk and pumping by working most evenings and some weekends.  It means I have to endure the awkward glances and stares as I use our Mother’s Room in the office or occasionally rinse pump parts out in the bathroom sink.  You’d be surprised, but I've even been “heckled” for my choice by other working mothers in the office.  But I wouldn't trade it for anything.  And I’ll keep doing it all until Charlotte is weaned.  It’s a promise I made to both of us.  Even if I sit there and pump one lone ounce. 

I saw this article online a few weeks after I returned to work; I've kept it up in my iPhone web browser and have read it several times.  Each time I end up a bawling mess because it rings so true.  SO TRUE.  If you make it to the end, you’ll read my favorite paragraph:  “I am a formula mom. I am a breastfeeding mom. I know what it feels like when your breasts "let-down," and I know what it feels like when your heart "lets-down." The beauty of our stories is that we are all feeding with love. I've been to the jagged edge of each feeding choice. I have nourished both of my children in the best way that I could, pleading each week with the scale in the doctor's office, praying for just a few more ounces. My superpower isn't my milk, it's my steadfast love for both of my boys. It's my determination to heal them, to grow them, to go to the ends of the earth for them. That is my superpower. That is my strength.”  Insert girls for boys and these are my sentiments exactly. 

It's as simple as that.  No matter where the milk comes from.  I feed with love.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What's Cookin': Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

I haven't posted a new recipe in a looooonngggg time, but that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking, it's just that our meals have been a little more utilitarian lately and less post-worthy.  We have a healthy, usually homemade, meal on the table and we eat as a family each evening, but when catering to the taste buds of a toddler, combined with a total of 20 minutes to prepare your meal, you tend to go with what's tried and true. That doesn't mean I haven't stopped looking and bookmarking, though.  I coworker turned me onto Iowa Girl Eats some time ago and I've come to love her recipes and tips.  Most of her recipes are straightforward and healthy and her Friday Favorites will make your mouth water.  With the farmer's market brimming with zucchini and before pumpkin baking season is in full swing, I got the hankering to try these muffins the day she posted.  Enter Monday Night Football and a house that was relatively in order, and I got my baking on ... and boy did it feel good!  Yoga, cleaning and baking/cooking are my therapy these days : )

These muffins were a hit with everyone in the family, husbands, Mommies and toddlers alike ... and chocked full of zucchini to boot!  If you haven't tried the good 'ol substitution of unsweetened applesauce for oil in your baking recipes, then you're missing out.  I've been doing it for years and no one is the wiser, except my waistline; the results are moist and delicious without the fat.  So, If you've got zucchini handy, or have a farmers market close by, give these muffins a try!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
From Iowa Girl Eats

Makes 22 muffins, 5 Weight Watcher points plus per muffin
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk *
2-1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a muffin tin with liners then lightly spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
Beat butter, unsweetened applesauce, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mixture will look curdled. Add eggs then mix to combine. Add vanilla and buttermilk then mix to combine.

In a separate bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 3 batches, mixing until just combined before adding the next batch. Add zucchini and chocolate chips then mix until just combined.

Scoop batter into liners filling 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Mine took closer to 22 - 25 minutes) Let cool in muffin tin for 3 minutes then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

* I never seem to have buttermilk on hand when needed, so I usually make sour milk by following these steps: Use the same amount of sour milk as buttermilk. For each 1 cup of sour milk, place 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar in a glass measuring cup.  Add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid; stir. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes  and stir before using.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Four eyes

In case you thought I was joking about her crazy hair ...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

First bites

As soon as we returned from vacation, this big 6-month-old girl was ready to start solids! If the pictures below and the smiles of delight are any indication, I think she liked it : ) We started with a little rice and oatmeal cereal, but are quickly moving along to purees including sweet potatoes and squash, yummm! Because it's easy and economical, I'm hoping to make most of her purees the same as I did with Anna; it's time to get mushy all over again.

PS - I am IN LOVE with her eyes and those lashes!  She has the same long beauties as her sister and they are to die for!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Letter to Anna: Month twenty-eight

Dear Anna,

Another month down and I still can’t believe how fast time is flying.  You’re literally growing before our eyes and turning into the sweetest little lady I've ever met.  In a world where technology changes by the minute and we’re trending away from human interaction, it’s refreshing to have a little girl that loves nothing more than to be by my side. 

I love to hear you talk!  You have the sweetest little voice that rings of innocence.  You’re talking in full sentences and it’s rare that we can’t decipher what you’re saying.  Everything you say is something that could go down on my list of favorites, but the most memorable include, “How are you doing this day?”, “Both guirlss” (as you insist I carry both you and Charlotte down the stairs each morning), “Yzeahhh”, “No, I don’t-y want to” (not my fave, but you sound so cute forming the sentence), “Like a baaaabbbyyyy” (in this southern accent that’s absolutely hilarious), “Hi everybody, what you doing in here?”  (as you enter a room), and “I’m a gonna want ...” (when you want something).  With the good comes the bad and you can be fairly adamant, and you've been known to throw a tantrum when you don’t get what you want, but I think that’s all part of being two years old.  And, let’s be honest, I’m not sure girls ever grow out of needing to have a good cry every now and again. 

You sing all.the.time.  And I mean all the time.  Your notes from school for 2 weeks straight were focused on your singing.  You sing with others, alone, during appropriate times, and whenever the mood strikes.  Your favorites are Twinkle Twinkle, ABCs (which you sing VERY accurately), Wheels on the Bus, Old McDonald, and Itsy Bitsy Spider.  You've recently gotten even more creative and have started doing mash-ups of two or more song; I guess the Glee episodes we watched when you were in the womb and nursing as a baby paid off.  You mostly sing the correct words and know the motions, but more importantly, you can carry a tune.  You’re very opinionated as to who can sing along, if anyone, very often hushing me, or insisting I sing along.  As much as you love to sing, you also love to dance.  We can often divert the start of a tantrum or bust the blues with an impromptu dance party, at home or in the car.  You totally have white-girl dance moves, but you've definitely got rhythm and we can always work on style. 

You’re physically growing so fast and learning more every day.  Seeing you with your group of friends at school when I pick you up never ceases to amaze me.  Just last week I arrived during potty time, you were just wrapping up on the toilet and you showed me how you can wipe, flush, and then you marched right over to the sink and washed your hands by yourself.  It was like I didn't even need to be there and I’m pretty sure I stood there with my jaw on the floor.  The next minute you were showing me your cubby, grabbing your bag and we were on our way to Charlotte’s room. 

I’m learning that I rarely give you the credit you’re due and you proved this to me big time this past month.  Last fall we considered a large wooden swing set for the yard, but determined you were just too small to manage it on your own, so we put it on hold.  We take you to the park fairly regularly and you do well, but still need some assistance.  So, when we went to a cookout a few weeks ago and our friends had a large swing set, I was worried it would spell disaster as I tried to hold Charlotte and help you out at the same time.  No sooner had I walked outside to see what you were doing than I saw you fly down the slide.  You’d climbed the ladder, scooted yourself across the platform and were the happiest girl around as you slid on down.  It was more the act of doing it on your own without fear that amazed me, the not needing me to coach you or hold your hand, or wait at the bottom with an encouraging word.  I was SO proud of you that night.  You played with friends you’d only met a handful of times, led games, were polite, and tried so many new things.  My heart swelled knowing you were in your element and having a blast. 

You’re still a great sleeper and love a good nap.  On vacation this past month you slept in a big girl bed with a rail and did great.  You got out of bed twice at the end of a long nap, just after we’d heard you start to talk, and opened the door ever-so-quietly and peeked out.  I was worried you wouldn't want to go back to your crib when we got home, but you had no problems.  Your Dad and I always check on you before we head to bed and routinely send the other one in to admire how you’re sleeping.  I can’t even begin to describe the crazy potions you get yourself into, but I wish I had half of your flexibility.  And then there’s your hair when you get up; I’m pretty sure you channel Don King and it cracks us up. 

You had a great time at the beach this year.  It took you a few days, but by the end of the week you were in love with the ocean and asking to head in with your Daddy over and over.  We’d usually head down mid-morning and would pack your lunch and snacks with us; regardless of what time we got there, you wanted to eat your PB&J in a beach chair while listening to waves.  In your two-year old mind, that was the neatest thing ever, and you’re wise beyond your years because life really doesn't get much better than that.  You had a blast at the pool as well and loved using your puddle jumper to help you swim in both pools. 

You're still the apple of your sister’s eye and I can’t get enough of watching you two interact.  You can make her belly-laugh like no one else, are worried if you can’t pin point her location, and know just the right toy to bring to her if she’s upset.  You watch me like a hawk and are an expert at mimicking comforting behavior.  On vacation you had a baby doll that you treated as your own and were playing in your room when I walked in one afternoon.  You politely explained to me that your baby was hungry and you proceeded to lift your shirt and nurse her on one side, burp her, and the feed her on the other side.  Afterwards, you put her to bed with a gentle touch and told me to “shhhhh, be quiet, baby is sleeping, Mommy.”  My heart swelled with pride.  As much as my job is to help you find your independence, it’s also to teach you respect, manners, and how to care and love for your fellow humans.  Some of that you’re clearly picking up on your own, but a lot of it also comes from your sweet, gentle, and cautious nature.  As you grow, I want to encourage you to do things that are a little scary, to run with the wind, but to always remember who you are at heart.  In life there are things that stick with you, things are engrained in your head you’ll never forget; and for me, your sweet little two-year old voice, words and actions will stick with me always.  I never want to forget your innocence, the sweetness in your voice and gentleness of your touch.  And I never want you to forget what an amazing little girl you are and how much a difference you’ve already made in so many lives. 


Friday, September 13, 2013

Growin' like a weed (again!): Month six

Not sure if it's possible to get sweeter than this girl.  Seriously!  She's slowed down a bit, but is still a growin' girl and if her pediatrician isn't concerned, neither are we; it's agreed that smiles, giggles and overall happiness are just as important as the numbers on a scale!  She's meeting all of her milestones and is on the move, rolling all around and working very hard to sit up on her own, where did my little baby go?

- 13lbs 6oz, 10 %, and a little less than a pound gain in two months
- 24 1/2 inches, 10%, and just a 1/4 inch grown in two months, which I've double checked because I swear she's gotten longer

Happy happy happy!

At 6 months, Charlotte is just 4 ounces heavier than Anna, but Anna was almost 2 inches longer!

Love my helpful bigger girl! No one gets Charlotte to laugh and smile like Anna!
Sweet, happy girls!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Splish splash (part 4 in a series)

I can't decide if she's gotten more used to bathtime or if I've just gotten better at capturing her personality on film.  Click here to see what a difference a few months makes.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Letter to Charlotte: Month six

Dear Charlotte,

You’re half a year old today!  Insane!  Where has the time gone?  You’ll come to realize soon enough about my love for everything related to birthdays, including half birthdays; when it comes to living another year, or half year as the case may be, I believe in celebrating.  So, let’s party, little lady, maybe stay up until 7:30pm?  Maybe try a little rice cereal?  Perhaps get really cooky and sleep in your clothes?  The possibilities are endless. 

You've had a big month in more ways than one.  You're well down the road to mobility and are a roly poly girl, now rolling from your back to your stomach, back again, and then all across any flat surface.  It’s adorable to see you rolling along and you are SO happy with yourself when you finally reach your destination, usually only to roll back to where you started.  In the rare instances that you stay on your back for more than a few minutes, you quickly find your tootsies so that you can chew on those cute little piggies. 

You've also started to grasp and grab toys and can fairly well entertain yourself on an activity mat or blanket.  You love to look at yourself in the mirror and bat at Mr. Snail, just like your sister, but you also have a few new toys that are all your own.  Well, until Anna realizes you’re playing with them.  She means well, and does her best to share and ensure you are entertained, but she also likes to make sure she knows exactly what you’re playing with at any given time, by inspecting and observing the toys herself.  Your favorite toys include a ball from your Gigi that’s just perfect for little fingers, your chewies, and your paci.  You’ll occasionally find your thumb, but you’re turning into more of a paci girl, using it traditionally about half the time, and using it as a teether the other half; you clearly like to think outside the box. 

We brought out the high chair a couple of weeks ago so that you could “join us” at the dinner table and you love the new view of your world.  Your little head barely clears the tray and your feet get lost somewhere below, but you love to sit and “play” with your toys and smile at your sister across the table while we eat.  It won’t be long until you’re starting to enjoy some fine cereal of your own; we’re just waiting (selfishly) until we’re home from vacation.  You’re still a champion nurser and although I’m not producing quite enough to fill your bottles each day, we’re still working through my frozen stash and you've yet to have anything other than breastmilk.  The days you’re home we nurse exclusively, and I've gotten pretty creative with managing to get work done during my mid-day pumping sessions. 

You made it to your sixth state this month and to the beach for the first time.  As expected, you were an excellent traveller, had no issues sleeping in many new places, and loved putting your feet in the sand and ocean.   You were able to enjoy an entire week with your Grandma and Pap Pap, and although I know you love their snuggles, you were also pretty excited about an uninterrupted week with your sister.  You rarely fussed when we were out and about, endured four legs of road travel with a very limited view of a monkey mirror and what you could catch of your sister out of the corner of your eye.  On the second to last leg, you did express your disdain via a blowout at a Cracker Barrel in Maryland, but after a change and some attention from the sweet old ladies in the restroom, you were back at it with big smiles and giggles. 

You’re a great eater, great sleeper and are overall one of the happiest babies I’ve ever met.  It’s not until we’re around a baby that’s not quite as happy as you that I realize what a sweet soul you are and how much joy you bring to each interaction.  You rarely fuss, and when you do, you’re usually hungry, tired, or just need a quick change of scenery.  You nurse to sleep at night, but more often than not are awake when we lay you down, happy to lie there and lull yourself to sleep.  It’s a bit of guessing game as to when you wake up in the mornings or from a nap because you never cry, rather you are content to kick your legs and coo to yourself.  And, nothing is cuter than burping you with your Dad or Anna across the room and watching your head turn as fast as possible after hearing your name being called; the excitement on your face is priceless. 

I’ll be honest when I say that having two young girls could make a person crazy.  There are times when I see other families out to eat or at church with older children who are a bit more self-sufficient, and I start to fantasize about a day when you’ll be potty-trained, able to feed yourself, or have just a tiny bit more independence about you.  But then I remember just how quickly time is fleeting.  I’m amazed at how much you seem to be growing each day, how much less like a baby you seem, and sadness pours over me.  I cannot express in words or pictures just how pleasant, happy, and content you are almost every minute of every day.  You can’t help but smile in your presence, and I do just that – you have a true gift that you give to the world.  I love to touch your tiny hands, your tiny toes, feel your chubby little arms and legs, and see that big, slobbery, toothless smile stare back at me; there’s nothing better in the whole wide world.  And, during those minutes I wish I could freeze time because I’m so happy.  Thank you for making my world a better place, one smile at a time.  


Monday, September 2, 2013

Tea party interrupted

Anna's pretty excited about her new sunglasses ... and Charlotte will take a refill on her tea, please.