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.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Baby Lu's Book Themed Birthday

Ethan wearing glasses that were in his goody bag.  These glasses
were the perfect party favor, and have become one of Ethan's
favorite play things.  Ethan is also wearing his "Very Hungry
Caterpillar" onesie to match the book theme.

My friend Ambar is one of those people that plans the most creative parties.  She makes everything herself, and always pays very close attention to detail.  A week ago her son Lu celebrated his 1st birthday, and we were lucky enough to get an invite.  It was book themed and as soon as I saw the invitation I got little hearts in my eyes, just like those emojicons.  I have my bachelors in English, and am a Language Arts teacher, so this party's theme had my brain drooling.  I couldn't wait to see what creative party decor Ambar had up her sleeve.
This was the invitation, which was handmade.  The lining of the
envelope is a hand-cut comic, and hand glued.  The part of the invitation
that has the party information is a library checkout card that is hand stamped
 with the party info.  When I said she pays attention to detail I was not

When we got to the party we were greeted by table settings that were made from real apples.  They were each sitting on a stack of books, had a picture of Lu, and a Dr. Seuss quote.


The party bags were tote bags with the word READ stamped on them.  Each one included a book, candy, and the thick rimmed glasses that Ethan was wearing.  When I saw we, I mean Ethan, was getting a tote bag I was ecstatic.  I'm addicted to collecting tote bags, and although I forget them 60% of the time that I go to the store, when I do remember them I feel like I'm saving the world!

There was also a craft/reading tent set up for the kids.  Although there wasn't much reading happening, there sure was a lot of crafting.  There were coloring books, colored pencils, fabric markers, and stencils.  The kids were using the stencils and markers to decorate their tote bags.  I then got the bright idea to let Ethan decorate his bag using a marker.  I soon realized the error of my ways and he became very upset when I wouldn't let him eat the fabric marker.  I quickly looked around and gave everyone the look that says, "Don't worry I'm not abusing my child, just a first time parent that doesn't always think things through."

Finally, we got to the food.  Ambar had an adorable book themed dessert and snack table set up.  Each of the snacks is related to a specific book.

It was such a beautiful way to celebrate the first year of a very special little guy.  Kuddos to Ambar one of the most creative and awesome hostesses that I know!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Babywearing: Ring Sling

Maya Ring Sling
One thing that a lot of family and friends ask me about is babywearing.  I was introduced to babywearing by my good friend Katie, she told me to try an Ergo and a Moby once the baby came.  The Moby and I had a hate hate relationship, but the Ergo has been great (I'll be writing about it later).  You may be asking yourself, what is babywearing?  It is literally the act of wearing your baby.  Using different products you can wrap your baby to you.  It then allows you to have your arms free while your little one comes along for the ride, and gives you more support whenever you have to carry your baby for long periods of time.

When babywearing the most important thing to take note of is that whatever product you use allows your baby to sit as if he/she were in a seat.  The fabric of the product should support them from one knee to the other.  You should also always wear your baby facing inward or on your back (once your little one is able to support their head on their own).

This is an example of how the baby's legs should be supported when babywearing (knee to knee support).

When Ethan was around 3 months old and I was completely exhausted, the house was filthy, and Ethan didn't want me to ever put him down, I went to a Babywearing 101 class taught by Ivonne Gonz.  A whole new world was opened to me, I never knew there were so many options when babywearing.

The first product I'll be talking about is the Ring Sling (RS).  The Ring Sling is one large rectangular piece of fabric that has two large rings at the end of it.  When you put it on it looks as if the baby is sitting in a small hammock.  The Ring Sling I have has a padding on the part that rests on your shoulder, which I like, but some people prefer Ring Slings without the padding.  I was able to buy a used Maya Ring Sling for $30.00 from a mom in my facebook babywearing group (which has been an awesome support).  If you want to get into babywearing and are feeling as lost as I did, then I highly recommend joining a babywearing group in your area.  Another amazing resource has been Ivonne Gonz, she is a certified babywearing educator and she runs the online shop Hip Mommy.  If you live in Ventura County, Ivonne constantly has babywearing classes, and she rents out different babywearing options that you can try out before you buy anything.  Her shop also carries all of the different baby wearing products that are out there.

Sorry, I keep trying to tell you about the Ring Sling, and then going off on tangents.  The Ring Sling is a great babywearing option for new moms.

Ring Sling Pros:
  1. Can use with a newborn.
  2. It's easy to put on.
  3. Works for people of different sizes; this is a problem Jeff and I ran into when trying to babywear.  I'm 5'1 and Jeff's 5'11; since there is such a huge difference in size between us the products that fit me are too small for him, and vice versa, but the Ring Sling fits us both perfectly.  If you have a husband who is much larger than you this is a great option. 
  4. Comes in endless colors and patters.  
Ring Sling Cons:
  1. The baby is only supported by a strap on one shoulder, so it doesn't give mom as much support as some of the other babywearing options out there.  I have always had back and posture problems, so for me the Ring Sling is actually the least comfortable option.  I only use it when making a quick trip to the store or a few hands free minutes at home.
  2. Can become tiring very quickly (if you have an older, heavier child).  
Below i'm going to include some pictures of me using the Ring Sling with Ethan.  I put this on very quickly so it isn't put on as well as I usually do, the rings are too low, so don't use my pictures as a guide for how yours should look.  I have included a good YouTube video of how to put the Ring Sling on and adjust it.

Ring Sling Video Tutorial

Ring Sling Video Tutorial with a Newborn

*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.
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