Saturday, August 16, 2014

Paperless Thank Yous: Environmentally Friendly or Rude?

The app that I use for sending
thank you notes

Ethan's birthday party was in June and I'm just getting around to sending the thank you cards. Which is pretty typical for me, hopefully my family members realize I'm not inconsiderate, just very absent minded.  A year ago I started using an app called Thank YouPro, which lets you create digital thank you cards that you can e-mail or text.  I loved this idea because I have literally read a thank you card that was sent to me, thought "Awww how nice", and then thrown it in the trash.  It's a really nice sentiment, and I like knowing that the recipient liked my gift, but I'm not going to be one of those hoarders with a room full of thank you cards. Am I supposed to save it for a few months and then throw it away? I just don't understand what one is supposed to do with such things.

I try as hard as I can to do my part and not create too much waste.  I use cloth diapers, reusable wipes, and with the implementation of one to one ipads in my district, I almost went paperless in my classroom last year.  So when it came to writing thank you notes the logical thing for me to do was also to go paperless.  I'm letting my guests know that I appreciate their gift, they don't have to feel bad about deleting it, and we're not using precious resources and creating more waste.

This is what the app looks like
as you work through it.  From top
to bottom: choose a card, write
your note, then choose how you want
to send it, super easy to use.

When I asked a few of my friends and family what they thought about this new method for sending thank you cards I got mixed reviews.  Some said it was wonderful and asked me for the name of the app; others said it was impersonal and that people may take offense upon receiving it.  I figured you can't please everyone, so I have continued to use my e-thank you cards because I have never been one to do things the traditional way.

What are your thoughts? Would you use e-thank you cards, and would you mind receiving them?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Top Picks for a Baby Registry

There must have been something in the water earlier this year because it seems as if half the people I know are pregnant.  A couple of my friends have already asked me for baby registry tips and I figured I might as well write a post about it, that way I can just refer people here.

Below I am going to list the items that I received with Ethan, or items that I have bought, that I absolutely love.  As I have said before though, we are all different and so are our babies so just because Ethan and I loved these products doesn't mean it will work for you and your baby.  Take a look at the list and if you find some or all of it helpful, great! If not it may just guide you to another product that does work for you, which is also awesome.

Jeff and I had decided that neither one of us felt comfortable co-sleeping with the baby, we're both really heavy sleepers and I have rolled over our cat and our dog numerous times while sleeping with them.  This bassinet allowed a great alternative though, we were able to attach it to the bed with the wall down so that the baby was arms reach away but in his own space.  I absolutely loved using the co-sleeper, and it was very handy during all of those late night nursing sessions.

These muslin receiving blankets are part of my top 5 favorite gifts I received.  You may look at the price and think, wow that's a lot for a blanket, but I had 6 of these and they were the only receiving blankets I needed and used.  They're light weight, large, come in gorgeous prints, and are very sturdy.  I had a summer baby so the muslin was perfect for swaddling during those hot summer nights.  

This handy little device does exactly what it sounds like, it sucks snot out of your babies nose (the picture on the box is a great depiction).  I know it sounds gross but something I had never thought about before having a baby is that when babies get sick they don't know how to blow their noses.  I'm sure you've seen those snotsuckers that look like a green ball, but I tried using that and I realized that there is no way to clean it (so the snot just accumulates in the ball), and they're not very powerful.  The snot sucker is really strong and you can take it apart and wash it after each use.

I always joke that they sprinkle crack on Sophie because I have no idea what it is about this giraffe but babies absolutely love her.  At first I thought she was overpriced but at one point we were on vacation and realized we had forgotten Sophie and I was ready to go to the store and buy another one, that's how crucial she was to keeping Ethan satisfied.  As soon as he was able to grasp toys this was the first one we introduced to him.  He's used her so much that almost all of her spots are gone!

When I first registered I registered for the SwaddleMe wraps. They worked when Ethan was a newborn but by the time he was 2 weeks he would break out of them, and then his nap time would be completely thrown off.  I found the miracle blanket and figured it was worth a try.  It's really snug and he was never able to break out of it, after a few weeks when I'd go to put it on him he'd even smile.  I found this to be the best swaddling option for us.
  • Babywearing Carrier
This is the Kinderpack, my favorite Soft
Structure Carrier.

As I'm sure you've realized from my Babywearing posts (Ring SlingSoft Structure Carrier, and Wrap Conversion Mei Tai) I'm a big fan of babywearing.  There are so many options out there that it's hard for me to pick a favorite.  If you're registering at Babies 'R' Us or Target I recommend you register for the Ergo and Infant Insert.  Although I don't love the Ergo I've talked to a lot of moms that absolutely love it.  If you are doing one of those registries where you can pick from any store on the web though I recommend you visit  It's owned by a local Ventura County mom who's a certified babywearing expert, and she's amazing.  All of her products are top of the line and she is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful (she's the one that's taught me about babywearing).  I also recommend visiting the makers of the soft structure carrier pictured above.  This is definitely my go to carrier and anyone who's ever tried mine is always sold because of how comfortable it is not just for baby but for the wearer also.

This is the Downtown Tote, my newest purchase and
 ultimate obsession.  PPB has so many styles to choose from
though, you're sure to find something that fits your style and needs.

If you would have asked me before I had a baby, I would have said that I would never buy a designer diaper bag, that it was ridiculous, and a waste of money.  So when I registered, I registered for whatever brand they had at Target.  Three months into using it it started to fall apart.  For my birthday my brother gave me a Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag (his girlfriend was the one that told him about it).  The quality of my Target bag to that of the Petunia Pickle Bottom bag was so noticeable I couldn't believe I had ever thought it wouldn't make a difference to buy a cheap bag over something of higher price.  What's even cooler is that Petunia Pickle Bottom is a local company.  It is located in Ventura, California (just half an hour from where I live).  For moms not in my area you can either buy from their online store: or search to see if any stores near you carry the bag.

We have a Dutailier glider and although I like
that it reclines a few months into using it it started
to squeak.  Bottom line, it's very comfortable,
but it squeaks.

I had a few friends opt for a rocking chair or a regular chair in their nurseries because gliders are so expensive.  After sitting in mine they always end up telling me it would have been worth the money.  I love how comfortable the gliders are, especially when nursing.  Jeff and I have also spent many hours rocking a teething, sick, or upset baby in our glider.  FYI, all the research I have done on gliders says that you get what you pay for.  So if you buy an inexpensive glider you're probably going to get a low quality glider.

I won't say too much on the pump, you can read all about my pumping experiences through my Pumping Journey Part 1, but I found the Medela Pump in Style to be a great option for a busy working mom, and I used it for an entire year without any problems (I did have to replace the hose and valves once but that is to be expected).  I also know of a few friends whose insurance covered the purchase of their Medela pump so make sure to check with your insurance before purchasing.

If you will be pumping and warming your breastmilk the AVENT bottle warmer is a great option. Breast milk cannot be warmed in the microwave or directly over the stove.  I found this bottle warmer easy to use and very reliable.  It is also a bit larger than some of the other ones and fits the Tommee Tippee bottles great (not all bottle warmers are large enough to accommodate the Tommee Tippee bottles).

I know this post is super long already but for any mom's that need help finding some extra things to put on their registry I'll list things I had, or wish I had registered for that were really useful without commentary.
  • Temporal Thermometer
  • Video Baby Monitor
  • B.O.B stroller (with infant car seat adapter), or at least some brand of jogging stroller.  We bought 3 different types of strollers and they were all really bulky and hard to maneuver.  The B.O.B is the only one that's withstood the test of time and I really wish it would have been the only one we would have purchased.  They're also a dime a dozen on Craigslist so don't even bother buying one in store (we got ours for $90 on Craigslist!)
  • Nursing Cover
  • Cool Mist Humidifier

*No goods,services, or payment was rendered for my recommendations.  These are all products that I purchased or received at my baby-shower from friends and family.  They are products that I have found to be of great quality.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bittersweet Transition

This is Ethan's one year photo-shoot, shot
by Andmade Photography

I celebrated a big milestone 2 months ago; I breastfed Ethan for an entire year! I know this may not seem like a huge accomplishment, but believe me, there were days where I didn't think we'd make it to the end of the week let alone the end of the year.  Even though I worked full-time I was able to breastfeed or give Ethan breastmilk in a bottle (without supplementing with formula) for an entire year.

As I got to the end of the year I slowly stopped pumping at work.  I had been pumping twice a day (at 9 AM and 12 PM).  I first stopped the 9 AM pumping for a week, and then I stopped the 12 PM pumping the next week.  Unfortunately, stopping the pumping also meant not nursing Ethan anymore during the day.  That's the problem with pumping, since I do it 5 days a week and only nurse Ethan during the day, 2 days a week, once I stopped the pumping I was also stopping the daytime nursing.  

This was a very hard decision for me to make but I got to the point where I felt that I needed to listen to my body and it was telling me that it was time to stop.  My hair had started to fall out again, and I was taking a lot of fenugreek supplement in order to pump a measly 8 oz. a day. Ethan also began to show signs that he was done.  On many occasions when I would go to nurse him he would push me away and want to go play instead.  He has also become a very good eater and would often sign for food instead of milk.  If I would try to nurse him before feeding he would become angry and sometimes even bite me!  I realized that both my body and my son were letting me know that we had had a good run, but it was time for us to stop nursing.  

Ethan let go of the daytime nursing just fine, since he usually drinks his milk from a sippy cup it wasn't a big change for him anyway.  I held onto the evening and before bedtime nursing for a few more weeks but quickly noticed that my supply was almost non-existent, and that Ethan was getting frustrated with the lack of milk.  He would often push me away at night and prefer to be placed in his crib and would go to sleep on his own.

So on the night that was his last nursing I looked down at him and as he nursed I thought about the wonderful journey we had embarked on this last year.  Although it was incredibly difficult to pump it was also the most beautiful experience I could have shared with Ethan.  The bonding that occurred and the gift that I gave to him through our nursing relationship is something that I will treasure forever.  I also said a prayer thanking God for giving me the tenacity to continue on this journey even when things were difficult, and for just making the whole thing possible.  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Truly "Wonder"ful

The book "Wonder" is a must read
Since I am a Middle School Language Arts teacher I spend a lot of my free time reading YA (young adult) fiction.  I like to stay current on what the kids are reading, and I also like to find out which books are well-written, and of what genre, so that I know what to recommend to my students.  Last year a teacher that I worked with told me that I had to read "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio.  I read the entire thing in 2 days; once I started reading I couldn't put it down.  It's a book that has truly made an impact on my life.

The book "Wonder" is about a 5th grade boy who is born with a facial anomaly.  He has undergone numerous surgeries to try and make him look and function as normally as he can, but still lives with a face that adults and children alike are scared to look at.  R.J. Palacio does an amazing job of guiding us through August's (the main character's) journey.  She also writes sections of the book from the point of view of the supporting characters so that you can get their reaction to August.

I did a donors choose project (teachers if you haven't tried donors choose I highly recommend it), where the donations went towards purchasing a class set of "Wonder" books.  I was able to read this story with all 100 of my students and the reaction to the book was phenomenal.  I had students who asked their parents to buy them the book for their birthday because they just wanted to have their own copy.

If you are looking for a good book to read with your kids I highly recommend "Wonder", it is not only well written and entertaining, it also sparks great discussions about acceptance and kindness.  Although I read this with 7th and 8th graders I believe that children as young as 4th grade can independently read it.  Or make a family night out of it and read a few pages a night as a family (Jeff and I did this with "The Hunger Games" series and it was really fun).

For those of you that don't have kids this book has caused a sensation among adults as well.  I highly encourage kids and adults of all ages to read the book "Wonder"!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ethan's Baseball Themed Birthday Party

Jeff made the invitations on photoshop and printed them
on brown card-stock.

I'm sorry I've been neglecting the blog for a few weeks.  With the end of the school year and Ethan's first birthday, I didn't know if I was coming or going.  Now that that's all over with, I can start posting again. I know my 10 followers must be super excited.

For those of you who don't personally know me, my husband is a huge Dodger fan.  So when we were planning Ethan's first birthday party, of course Jeff wanted it to be baseball themed.  We decided to keep it broad and make it baseball instead of Dodger themed because it would be easier to make decorations that way. I also love the vintage look and I wanted it to have an old timey feel.

We started planning, and there were two things at the top of our list: it needs to be in our budget (which is always small), and the menu needs to be plentiful and delicious.  I have a huge family so accomplishing these two tasks is not an easy one.  Luckily, the baseball theme lends itself to delicious (incredibly unhealthy) cheap food, but hey it's once a year lets indulge a little.

The menu consisted of Frito boats (they are like nachos but with Fritos instead), chili cheese hot dogs, potato salad, and green salad.  For snacking purposes we had a popcorn machine, and the centerpieces were full of peanuts, sunflower seeds, and licorice.
My mom was the popcorn vendor for this venue. FYI
she's wearing her favorite Dodger player's number (Adrian
Gonzales, 23).  So if Adrian enjoys reading mom blogs
and is reading this right now, my mom would love
an autograph.
Whenever I come up with centerpieces I try to make it something
that's functional, or edible so that I'm not stuck with a bunch
of centerpieces that I have to throw away.  That is what inspired
the snack filled paper bags that were on every table.

We decorated with red, white, and blue decor.  The reason we did this was that a lot of the original teams (the Dodgers included) use red, white, and blue as their team colors.  I also liked the fact that I could re-use all of the decorations for our annual 4th of July party. Although I love planning parties, I also hate waste, and anytime I can re-purpose something I jump at the chance.

The pennant flag banners were made by my mom.

My sister who is an amazing microbiologist by day, and baker by night, made the birthday cake and cupcakes.  She made a chocolate cake from scratch with homemade chocolate ganache filling.  She was really nervous about the decorating aspect, but all in all the cakes turned out how I pictured them, and they tasted amazing!

This pennant banner with Ethan's name was made for Ethan
by my friend Hilda.  The baseball cake was his
smash cake.

For the cupcakes my sister cut out and made small flags.
She cut out a baseball hat, bat, and glove to go on each
of the flags (my family is so awesome).

I had the bright idea to make "grass" on top of the cupcakes.
Turns out making frosting look like grass is a lot harder
than pinterest makes it look.
Finally the cake.  My mom made the pennant banners.  This
cake fed 80 people and we had more than half
of the bottom layer left over!

 As if we hadn't stuffed the kids with enough junk food I made special goodie bags for the little ones, and the older kids.  Jeff made the "Ethan's Snackbar" tags in photoshop and printed them on the same card-stock as the invitations.

The little ones got Goldfish Crackers,
an organic fruit pouch, and a baseball
with a mustache inside.
The older kids got Big League Chew, Cracker
Jack, and a small baseball with a mustache

 We ended the day with a gigantic baseball pinata that my brother bought in L.A.  It was HUGE, and had so much candy Jeff was having a hard time keeping it away from the kids.

It was so much fun to get to see all of our family and friends, so that we could celebrate Ethan's first birthday; we ended the day feeling truly blessed and grateful to have this wonderful little boy in our lives.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Babywearing: Wrap Conversion Mei Tai (Didytai)

Didytai by Didymos

The third baby wearing product I'm going to talk about is a Wrap Conversion Mei Tai (WCMT).  I know that's a mouthful and it sounds intimidating, so let me break it down.  Like I've said before there are tons and tons of babywearing options out there, I'll only be writing about the ones I have, and love.  The brand of WCMT that I have is the Didytai.  A WCMT is a mei tai that is made from a woven wrap.

When I first had Ethan I was sleep deprived, my hair was falling out, I didn't fit into any of my clothes, and had to deal with colic until he was 3 months old.  On top of that Ethan refused to sleep unless he was on me.  I was going crazy, and had no idea what to do.  I had received a Moby but I couldn't figure out how to use it, and an Ergo, but Ethan was still too small for it.  I heard about a babywearing 101 class that Ivonne Gonz was teaching in Ventura, CA and I said to myself, "What do I have to lose?"  I went to the class and the whole time Ethan was having a fit.  I couldn't even hear what Ivonne was saying, and I was mortified that the other parents probably couldn't hear over Ethan's screams either.  Halfway through the class Ethan had a diaper blow out, but he was so upset I only had time to wipe all of the poo off, and change his diaper.  I wrapped him in a blanket because he wouldn't let me put his clothes on, and just held him to my chest.  Later on Ivonne told me that she thought it was sweet that I was doing skin to skin in order to calm him down (which I had not even thought of in my frazzled state), and we both had a good laugh.

The reason I go into this lengthy story about the beginning of my babywearing journey is that at the end of the class I went up to Ivonne and told her about the difficulties I had faced with babywearing.  Throughout the class she had shown us numerous babywearing options like soft structure carriers, ring slings, wraps, and mei tais.  For some reason the mei tai caught my attention and looked like something I could easily use.  Up to this point anytime I would try to wrap Ethan in the Moby he would scream his head off, I would rip it off, throw it on the ground, and kick it.  Ivonne showed me how to put on the Wrap Conversion Mei Tai; it was as if the angels sang, and the heavens opened up.  Ethan was more comfortable than I had ever seen him, he may have even dozed off while in it.  At that point I thought I don't care what it costs I'm wearing it out! This is the only product I have bought at full price, but let me tell you, at that time it was worth every penny.  From the moment I bought it I used it everywhere, at the grocery store, church, home, parties.  Any time Ethan became upset I would wrap him and he'd calm down and usually go to sleep.  My experience taught me that everyone's babywearing preferences are very different, I know people that absolutely love the Moby and hate Soft Structure carriers, or babies that love soft structure carriers and hate to be wrapped.  For this reason I highly recommend trying a bunch of products before you commit to one, so that you can find one that works for you and your baby.
This is what the Didytai looks like when
layed out.  As you can see it has more of
a structure than a wrap but there is still
some wrapping involved due to the
long straps.

Didytai Pros:

  1. It has an adjustable seat that allows you to use it with your newborn, but it also fits much older children.  Ethan is 1 year old and still fits in it, and there's even room for him to grow.
  2. It is easier to use than a woven wrap or Moby because it has somewhat of a structure already, instead of being a long piece of cloth.
  3. Comes in beautiful colors and patters
This is the widest the seat goes.  Ethan is 1 and the widest
setting is still too big for him, so this will fit your child
well into their toddler years.

This is the smallest the seat will go once you pull the
drawstring.  This would be the size you would use with a
newborn baby.

Didytai Cons:
  1. As Ethan got older I found that it was not as comfortable for me to wear him in it.  The straps are not as supportive as when I use my woven wrap.  I now keep it in the car in case I need my hands free when I'm out, but it's a backup product because my back can't take the strain for too long.
  2. It is more difficult to use than the ring sling, another newborn friendly option because it does involve some wrapping.
  3. It is one of the more expensive options, but there are many affordable mei tais out there the didytai brand is just pricier than some of the others.
I was trying to include the video for a Didytai tutorial on here but it wouldn't load, so click on the link below to view the video.

*Since I'm new to babywearing, each of my babywearing posts will be a short intro to the products I use and really like. I'm a beginner in all of this myself and therefore don't feel comfortable giving long tutorials; I highly recommend you continue to research any products you might be interested in, and try to find babywearing groups in your area that can offer support.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pumping Journey Part 2: Pumping at Work

These are the 5 oz. bottles I would pump ino

*I am not a lactation consultant or medical expert; everything that I share about breastfeeding comes from my experience, and personal research.  Please feel free to pick and choose what you think will work best for you and your baby, and good luck mama!

You may be asking yourself, if Luanita's such a breastfeeding advocate why is she writing a series on pumping and not breastfeeding?  The main reason is that when I was breastfeeding I had an overwhelming amount of support, from my mom to lactation consultants, and endless amounts of articles online.  When I went back to work and started pumping it was a very different story.  I didn't know anyone who had worked full-time and given their baby breastmilk only.  Everyone I knew had ended up supplementing with formula, worked part-time, or was a stay at home mom. Like with anything there's a lot of information online, but I still felt very alone on my journey. Although this is also online I would like to invite anyone that needs encouragement or wants to ask questions to send me a message, and I'm happy to help, and I also feel as if it's encouraging for moms to know that there are moms out there working full-time and breastfeeding, and that it is possible.

Top Tips for Pumping at Work 

  1. Drink A LOT of water.  When my pumping was at it's highest I was drinking a gallon of water a day.  I am not exaggerating, I actually added up all of the ounces of water that I was drinking and it was a gallon.
  2. Do not go more than 3 hours without pumping.  When I first started I was pumping every 4 hours, to save time at work, and I ended up with clogged milk ducts (which are incredibly painful).  By the time I went to the doctor I was on the verge of an infection and she said that I could not go more than 3 hours without pumping.  Every woman's body is different so yours may not be as susceptible to the clogged ducts, but consult with your physician on this matter.  If you do not pump often enough, you not only risk infection, you also risk lowering your milk supply.  Remember that milk production is all about supply and demand.  So if you go from nursing your baby every 2 hours, to only pumping every 4 hours your body will think that the baby doesn't need as much milk anymore, and will stop producing the amount that you need for your baby's bottle feedings.  Just in case you are worried about your employer, know that there are laws that protect working mothers who wish to pump.  Follow this link: for further information.
  3. Have a set schedule for your pumping.  When you are away from your baby your body will not respond the same way, and it may have difficulty letting milk down.  You need to train your body to respond to the pump just as it does your child, and one way to do this is to set a very strict schedule.  When I was at work I would pump at 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 3:00 PM (I also pumped at home but I will mention that in a later post).  If for some reason there was a schedule change and my break was moved, I would talk to my principal to get someone to cover my class. This way I could stay on my schedule because if I did not do this I would develop the clogged milk ducts I discussed earlier.
  4. Stay calm; it is very difficult to pump at work.  You may be worried that someone will walk in on you.  If you become nervous your body will have difficulty letting milk down.  I made a sign that I would put on my door that said DO NOT DISTURB, please return in 15 minutes. 
  5. Look at pictures and videos of your baby.  Especially in the beginning when everything inside of me was telling me that I NEEDED to be with Ethan this was very helpful.
  6. Have a nursing cover with your pump supplies.  I co-teach and therefore share my room with another teacher a few periods a day.  One of those periods is my prep when I would pump.  I told my co-teacher the situation and asked her if she was comfortable with me pumping with a cover on during our prep.  She was very understanding and supportive.  So while we planned and discussed our students I would put my cover on and pump.  It allowed me to get work done with a co-worker, and it still gave me privacy.  Of course it is part of the law that your employer will give you a private space to pump, but because I needed to get work done, if my co-teacher was O.K. with it I preferred being able to pump and plan with her at the same time. 
  7. Have an extra set of tubing, breastshield, valve, membrane, and 2 bottles that you keep at
    breastshield, valve, and membrane
    work at all times.  When I first started pumping I kept reading to do this and I thought to myself, please, without that I can't pump, of course I'm not going to forget it.  Well, the first time I opened my pump and realized i'd forgotten to pack my pump supplies because I was in a hurry I felt my heart drop.  Poor Jeff had to drive 40 minutes to my work to bring me the stuff.  So then I thought, OK, I've done it once, I won't do it again, WRONG! So after the second time I bought an extra set of everything and I always leave it in my classroom. This extra set is also good in case any of your parts get damaged and you don't realize it until you get to work (this actually happened to me today, and my extra set saved the day).
  8. Eat well balanced hearty meals.  On the days that I would eat meals packed with protein, carbohydrates, and a good serving of vegetables I definitely noticed a huge increase in my milk production.  After having a baby it's tempting to eat small amounts or diet to loose that baby weight, but your body needs all of the nutrition and callories it can get to make milk.  I've read that a woman's body can burn 600-700 calories a day by breastfeeding, so eat up mama!

There is so much information out there it can be overwhelming.  I've listed the things that really worked for me but if these things haven't worked for you, or you just want to know everything you can so that you can try as many things as possible try visiting the link below.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

We're Painting the Roses...

Otto and Sons is located in Fillmore, CA
Since I was little I have loved roses.  I can't really pinpoint where the love came from; it could be because both of my grandmothers grew the most beautiful roses in their gardens, and having them in my garden reminds me of spending time in my grandmothers' gardens with them.  It could also be because the images of roses are connected to Our Lady of Guadalupe, an image of the Virgin Mary that is very dear to my heart as well.  Either way, since I was little I have loved the look and smell of roses.  My perfume smells like roses, and whenever Jeff asks me what I want to plant in our garden my answer is always, ROSES.  To top it all off I kind of hit the jackpot when I married Jeff, his family owns the premiere rose nursery in the West Coast!

Otto & Sons was started by Jeff's grandfather Otto, is now owned and operated by Jeff's uncle Scott, and Jeff's dad Bob recently returned to work in the family business.  Although this ownership has been music to my ears, it has also burned a huge hole in my pocket.  Whenever we go to the nursery I have to either tell myself that I will not buy any roses, no matter how pretty they are, or I set a limit.  Although, like today proved, I usually say, "I swear I'm only going to buy one rose," and then I leave with 3.  Luckily, although Jeff gives me a hard time over my rose addiction, every time we come home with new roses he gets his shovel out and starts brainstorming where in the garden we'll be able to fit the new additions to our rose family.

This weekend Otto & Sons held their annual Rose Days.  They hold this special event once a year and they open up the lower level of their nursery (the area where they grow all of their roses) to the public.  All of the roses are also on sale, which is why I said I would only get one and ended up leaving with three, it was such a good deal I couldn't pass them up.

If you're in the area Rose Days doesn't end until tomorrow, April 26th.  A rose bush makes an amazing Mother's Day gift, and with the incredible selection that Otto & Sons offers, you're sure to find a rose that suits your style.  If you can't make it down to Otto and Sons this weekend, but live in Ventura County, it's a great trip to take with the family.  Even if you're not in the market for roses the scenery is gorgeous, and on those occasions where I've sworn I wont buy any roses I like to go from row to row just to smell the flowers.

*Although my husband's family owns Otto & Sons I never recommend anything that I don't truly love.  I actually used to buy roses here with my mom before I even knew the Klittich family.  Just in case you're wondering, Jeff and I still pay for all of the roses that we purchase.

Ethan and his Grandpa Bob stopping to smell the roses.

The gorgeous Fillmore mountains, and the rows and rows
of roses made this outing truly breathtaking.

This is one of the beauties I added to my collection.  This is
Double Delight, gorgeous bloom and one of the most
fragrant roses I've ever smelled.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pumping Journey Part 1: Before Returning to Work

An image and slogan I constantly
 repeat to myself as my pumping
 journey continues.

*I am not a lactation consultant or medical expert; everything that I share about breastfeeding comes from my experience, and personal research.  Please feel free to pick and choose what you think will work best for you and your baby, and good luck mama!

My Nursing Journey
There was one big reason that I wanted to start writing this blog.  When I first found out I was pregnant there were two things I wanted to do with fidelity, exclusively feed my baby breastmilk (no formula supplementing), and use cloth diapers (that's a story for another post).  Everyone has their own philosophy about breastmilk vs. formula but that's not what my posts are going to be about.  Aside from my philosophy, I knew that I wanted my child to be raised on breastmilk, and I was willing to do whatever it took for that to happen.

When I was pregnant I took a lactation class that taught baby led latching.  If you're an expecting mom that plans on breastfeeding, I highly recommend taking a lactation class while pregnant.  I really felt as if this class gave me some key tips, and I loved the baby led latching method.

Then Ethan was born and my nursing story was one of pure bliss, yes I had the cracked nipples, clogged milk ducts, engorgement, and stress before my milk came in, but with the knowledge from my lactation class and a lot of support from Jeff, my mom, Ethan's pediatrician, and the hospital's lactation nurses, mine and Ethan's nursing relationship got off to a great start, and has been wonderful ever since.  I felt as if I was on cloud nine, I had heard all of these horror stories about nursing, and I felt truly blessed to not have experienced anything out of the ordinary.

Preparing to go Back to Work
If you are planning on going back to work and pumping there are some very important things you must do while at home to prepare.

Tommee Tippee Bottles

  1. Introducing a bottle
  • There is a very small window for introducing a bottle to a breastfed baby, they say that the ideal time is between 4 weeks to a month (I told you it was small).  I had heard horror stories from friends who had waited too long and their baby had rejected the bottle, but they still had to go back to work.  This scenario completely terrified me.
  • When doing further research, everything I saw said that as long as your baby was latching properly, you were producing plenty of milk, and yours and your babies nursing relationship had been fully established, you could introduce a bottle as early as 3 weeks.  Since our nursing relationship was very well established, as well as my milk supply, I began giving Ethan a bottle towards the end of 3 weeks.
  • We used the Tommee Tippee slow flow bottles and have loved them.
  • I would only give him a bottle 2 times a week with 2 ounces of milk.  He would usually drink the most at night, so that's when Jeff would give him the bottle. We would always leave him hungry so that he would nurse afterward.  I didn't use the bottle to fill him up because I didn't want to affect my milk supply; I just continually used the bottle so that he would be used to getting his milk from my breast and the bottle.
  • I continued to use this schedule until I returned to work.
The Medela Pump in Style Kit

   2. Pumping

In order to start giving Ethan a bottle I needed to start using my pump so that I would have breastmilk to give him.  Previous to pumping I had watched a show where a mom was going back to work.  The morning before she went back to work she pumped all the milk her baby would need for the day, and proudly left the house.  With this image in my mind I thought, cool, no big deal.  Imagine my horror when I started pumping and it was incredibly painful, and after 15 minutes of pumping I had gathered 1/2 oz. of milk. Just to put things into perspective, once I was back at work I would leave Ethan about 25 oz. of milk a day (I've heard this amount is very high, but my little guy is an eater).  I was horrified, and had no idea what was wrong with me.  How on earth was I ever going to pump enough milk for my baby?  Every time I would pump, my session would end in tears. I finally reached out to my good friend Katie, who was a doula and is very knowledgeable when it comes to nursing.  With her help I was able to figure out what was wrong, and what was normal, and I got my pumping on track.
  • My first problem was that I was using the wrong size breastshield.  I was using the one that came with the pump but I was a size smaller.  This is why pumping had been so painful.
  • The second issue wasn't even an issue at all, when you first start pumping it is completely normal to only pump 1/2 an ounce because your baby is taking a lot of the milk, and your body isn't used to letting your milk down for the pump.  This is also why you should start pumping before you return to work, so that your body is used to the pump.  Once I realized this I relaxed and would pump a couple of times a day.  As soon as I had gathered 2 oz. (it would usually take me 2 days), I would give them to Ethan and continue pumping for the next bottle feeding.
  • One thing that is very important to take note of is to only pump when you know your baby is taking a long break from nursing.  I would pump during his long midday nap, and at night, after he had gone to sleep.  You do this for two reasons: first you don't want the pump taking the milk that your baby will be needing, and second you want to wait a little while after your baby nurses so that your body makes more milk.
  • Once my milk supply was established I began to pump about 4 ounces per pumping session.  This allowed me to give Ethan his 2 ounces twice a week and to freeze the extra milk.
  • I love the Lansinoh breastmilk
    freezer storage bags
  • It is very important that once you have extra milk you begin to freeze the milk in increments of at least 5 oz.  When I went back to work I had frozen about 30 bags of breastmilk which was approximately 180 oz. of milk.  This is a crucial step in the pumping and working scenario.  At times your milk supply will drop for various reasons, and the only way you will have enough milk for your baby is to dip into your freezer stash.  On days where I also had to work late and would have to leave more milk than usual I would use a frozen bag.  This freezer supply has been one of the big reasons why I believe I have not needed to supplement with formula.

I'm sorry this post has been so long, there is so much information that goes along with my journey that it's difficult to condense it.  Although Ethan is 11 months and I've been doing this since he was 3 weeks old the idea of having to write all of this down is the main reason why I've held off for so long.  Writing this series is really special to me because although this has been one of the most difficult things I've ever done, it has also been the most rewarding accomplishment.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Babywearing: Soft Structure Carrier (Ergo)

Carrying Ethan in the Ergo

Always make sure the babywearing product
you use provides knee to knee support.
The second babywearing product I'll be talking about is the Ergo.  It is a Soft Structure Carrier (SSC).  There are countless brands that are SSC's, Ergo is just one of those brands.  In my babywearing group all of the moms rave about the Tula SSC, I tried it on at a class that Ivonne Gonz gave and I didn't find it to be any more comfortable than the Ergo.  I also tried on the Kinderpack and I have to say I'm in LOVE! I will be writing a blog post about the differences between the Ergo and Kinderpack and why I prefer the Kinderpack, so stay tuned. You also have the Beco, Boba, Lillebaby, and the list just goes on and on.  A SSC that became very popular was the baby Bjorn (you probably saw it in The Hangover).  What I learned in the babywearing 101 class, taught by Ivonne Gonz, is that the Bjorn is not recommended by babywearing educators for two reasons: it does not provide the full seat support that is always recommended when babywearing, and it allows for outward facing carrying which does not provide a growing child's spine the proper support either.

Like with any product there are things that I love about the Ergo and things that I'm not as fond of.

Ergo Pros:
  1. It is very easy to put on.
  2. Provides more support than some of the other babywearing products out there (it feels as if you're wearing a large backpack).
  3. Since it provides more support it's a great option if you're planning on wearing your baby for long periods of time.  This is what I would use when going to Disneyland or other full day events.
  4. You can back carry with the Ergo, but not until your baby is out of the infant insert and they are able to fully support the weight of their head on their own.

Ergo Cons:
  1. If you are planning on using it with a newborn you must use an infant insert.  
  2. Some babies do not like the infant insert (Ethan was one of those), the insert is also very hot if you plan on wearing your baby during the summer.
  3. You cannot use the Ergo without the insert until both of your babies knees come out of the carrier.  A lot of the directions give you a weight or age at which you can put the baby in the Ergo, without an insert, but since all babies are different those guidelines aren't always accurate.  Ethan's knees did not fully come out of the Ergo until he was around 5 months.
  4. It doesn't come in as many colors or patterns as some of the other carriers out there.
  5. The Ergo does not fit all body types.  This was one of the products that fits me really well but does not fit Jeff.
  6. For me the Ergo has been the most uncomfortable SSC carrier that I've tried on.  Every person is different so it's very important that you try on the carrier that you're thinking of getting before you buy it; I know plenty of moms that absolutely love the Ergo and then others that feel the same way I do, so you never know how your body and your baby will respond to each carrier.

When you first start looking at babywearing you'll be alarmed by the prices of all of these products.  I am incredibly frugal and can't afford to pay retail on any of them.  Rest assured knowing that there are always used babywearing products for sale, and a lot of vendors also have sales throughout the year, so just keep your eyes open.  When I was pregnant I bought this black Ergo with the infant insert used.  I also had an amazing teacher at work give me her Ergo.  I now keep one at home, and one at Ethan's daycare because his babysitter loves to wear him, which is awesome!

The ergo comes with a little hood that you can use to shield
your baby from the sun, I always use it when Ethan falls
asleep in the Ergo.

Back view of a front carry.

Back Carry 
Below are 3 you tube videos on the Ergo, unfortunately you can only play them on devices that have Adobe Flash Player.

Video tutorial using an infant insert and putting a young infant in the Ergo.

Video tutorial for back carry.

Video tutorial for front carry without the infant insert.

*Since I'm new to babywearing, each of my babywearing posts will be a short intro to the products I use and really like. I'm a beginner in all of this myself and therefore don't feel comfortable giving long tutorials; I highly recommend you continue to research any products you might be interested in, and try to find babywearing groups in your area that can offer support.

Design by: The Blog Decorator