Thursday, August 19, 2010

views of hatteras

Now that I am back at work and am staring the start of a new school year down, I thought I'd post some more pics from our vacation a few weeks ago.

My tan is fading, but the cold I caught while in the Outer Banks still lingers on.

Seriously, we had a great vacation with wonderful people in North Carolina and I wish we could afford to go for 2 weeks! You would think that with 13 "kids" (a few of them aren't really kids anymore) and 10 adults that it would be hectic and full of drama. So far from the truth. We get along better with Pat's cousin's and their families than we do with some of his brother's and their famlies. It is such an easy vacation, I wish they could all be this easy.

Sarah on the beach

Megan digging a big hole in the sand.

Emma enjoying the beach

All the "kids"

Our last evening at the beach

Sunday, August 15, 2010

performance art

When we were at the beach house, Emma routinely asked to be put "on the wall". It wasn't until I was in the room one time that I understood what she was talking about.

hardwood snowball

After the debacle that was the mysterious leak in June, we have almost finished the restoration projects. The fans and dehumidifiers were gone after a week, along with a 4x2 section of the kitchen ceiling. The house was declared to be dry and the insurance adjuster determined how much it should cost us to fix the place and issued a check. The carpet in the dining room was deemed a loss, so we began the process of determining what to put in it's place. I have never been a big fan of carpet in the dining room, and we had be thinking about eventually replacing it with hardwood, so we figured this was the time!

The more we thought about it, the more we realized that if we lay the floor, we need to paint the walls. Then we got to thinking if we're painting, we need to finally put up curtains. So, the home improvement project snowballed, just a little, and we finally ended up with a completed dining room. Eventually, I'll get a bigger table and chairs that match, but that can wait.

Here is a partial picture of what the dining room looked like before. We are notorious for NOT taking before pictures, and this is no exception.

And here is the after! The pictures aren't on the wall yet, but everything else is.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the apple of her eye

The video capabilities of my little digital camera is not that great. So the footage I've posted and am about to post it a lot grainy and a little hard to hear.

While we were on vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina Emma got a chance to really get to know her extended family. For the past two summers we've vacationed with Pat's cousins, Dee & Dennis and their families, as well as Pat's aunt and uncle. Add another couple, a girlfriend, and a best friend, and you've got a big awesome house filled with 24 great people.

This year, the weather was perfect and the kids were so well behaved. For many people, getting along with family can be difficult. I'll be the first to admit that there are some members of our large family that I don't think I could spend a week in the same house with. But, not so with this crowd. All of our personalities seem to mesh together well. The kids all get along great, and we even had a few built in babysitters.

Shortly after we arrived, Emma attached herself to one of her second cousins and didn't let go. She was all over him all week. Poor Piz, I felt bad for him by the end of the week. Here is a really bad video of her attachment to Chad, whose nickname is Piz.

Monday, August 9, 2010

maiden voyage

Yesterday, Megan learned to ride a 2-wheel bike without training wheels! Earlier in the summer, our neighbor, and her main playmate, learned to ride his bike in one day. She was so motivated to learn to, so we tried and tried. And she was so frustrated, she just couldn't get the balance down right. Then, we put it aside and she didn't ask for the longest time.

Last night, Megan asked her father to get her bike down and take the training wheels off so she could practice. He got her up on the bike and in no time she figured out the balance. I told them to stop so I could run and get a camera. Of course, the video camera had no charge. My small digital camera was not where it was supposed to be. My new DSLR (Nikon D5000) had video capabilities, but I haven't figured that out yet. I yelled for Sarah to come in and find my camera (since I knew she had been messing with it last). She tells me, in a very matter-of-fact voice, "It's in the little couch". We finally got the camera and I ran out to get the following shot. The camera ran out of power just as she stopped, but at least I got her maiden voyage on tape! If you listen carefully, you can hear a group of neighbors a few houses up the street cheer her on, it was so sweet.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

world breastfeeding week: the end

Here is a post from when I stopped breastfeeding Emma. It was a very bittersweet time in my life, one that still gives me mixed feelings.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The End

[Disclaimer: I am truly a breastfeeding advocate, but do realize that it is not ideal for everyone. I pass no judgement on those who chose not to, or could not breastfeed. This is just my experience. One for which I am grateful for choosing.]

I've been formulating this post in my mind for months. It has been almost two full weeks since Emma nursed. Seeing that she is 19 months old, many would consider it well past due. There is a large part of me that weeps inside knowing that I will never get the opportunity to enjoy that wonderful bonding experience again. A few weeks ago, I read a wonderful post about another mother's experience with breastfeeding. Anymommy is most definitely a gifted writer and I am sure that my post will pale in comparison.

When I began the journey of breastfeeding almost 9 years ago with my first child, I had hoped that I would be able to nurse her for a while, but was so unsure of what that really would mean. I had no preconceived ideas of how long was the right amount and what I would do if I needed to formula feed. I just fed her and it worked. She had no difficulty latching on and even with a slight bout of jaundice, we were able to nurse with little fanfare. As she was born in February, it was so nice to just snuggle in and get cozy in bed or on the couch and spend uninterrupted time providing for my baby the way nature intended.

When I returned to work, I pumped. I felt like a cow and struggled mightily with supply problems. I took pills and drank teas and tried all I could do. It got to the point where I had no "freezer stash" and was living day to day hoping that nothing would happen. I can't tell you how painful it was to discover that I had forgotten to put my milk in the fridge one day and found it the next morning still in the cooler compartment of the breast pump. I'm sure I violated some tenet of breastfeeding when I poured that precious liquid gold right into a bottle and NOT down the drain. It smelled and tasted fine to me, so I just banked on the magical properties of breast milk to keep it safe. Thankfully, Sarah came out of that just fine and we were able to make it 12 months of nursing and pumping. She finally weaned herself around 15 months and I was fine with it. Part of me missed it as we snuggled at bedtime, but I also enjoyed having my body back.

When Sarah's younger sister Megan was born, we (my ta-ta's and I) were able to fall right back into the rhythm they learned a few years earlier. The time spent actually nursing her was wonderful, the time spent hooked up to a breast pump-not so much! The same supply issues I had with Sarah were still there. Megan always seemed to enjoy the nursing more than her sister and that was painfully evident in the almost 20 months we spent joined at the mouth/breast. I had to force Megan to wean and it was not a pretty sight. But, again part of me was a little sad to be done with it.

When Emma was born, my job situation had changed some and I knew I wasn't going to be able to nurse her in the morning when she woke. Which meant she was going to drink one more bottle a day than the other girls had, and knowing how my supply was with the other girls, I had a sinking suspicion that I would have some real problems keeping up. Emma was definitely a bigger eater than her sister, it didn't hurt she was born 1.5 lbs heavier. Nursing was not an issue, but of course, supply while pumping was. I posted last fall about my meltdown and my realization that Emma was going to be my first child to have formula. At the time, I felt like a failure. Thank God for friends and family who kept me from losing my mind and helped me to realize it was far more healthier for my child to have me sane, than to insist upon breast milk only.

Emma and I both made it to 12 months and lived to tell about it. When one of her first words was "nurse", I knew I had another addict on my hands. (It was adorable when she would walk up to me at bedtime saying "Nurse? Nurse? Peas, peas, nurse?") I knew it was time, but I couldn't bring myself to wean her. Over the past few months I had gotten her nursing down to just at bedtime and then the last few weeks, I've been slowly using other means of getting her to sleep. I would nurse her for a little and then take her up to her room to read Goodnight Moon and then down she would go. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving I decided this would be a good time to try to wean. Her bedtime routine that night consisted of just the book and nothing else and no complaints. Thanksgiving night, the same. And now we are going on almost two full weeks. Now that doesn't mean she still doesn't ask, but after I tell her a few times that its "all gone" she seems to give up. That also doesn't mean that I don't miss it.

I miss the feel of a baby nestled in my arms and rooting for a familiar smell. I miss the tell-tale feel of the good latch of a hungry baby. I miss the sight of a sleeping baby drunk on mother's milk. I miss the warmth and bonding of skin on skin contact. I miss the sweet sweet smell of baby breath. I miss the joy of knowing that I was the sole source of food for my child. I miss the feeling of total contentment and an indescribable emotion when I would look into the eyes of my nursing child; a feeling only another nursing mother can fully understand.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

world breastfeeding week

I breastfed all three of my children, some would say for too long, others would say not long enough. However, I never wrote about my experiences until Emma came along. I am a HUGE breastfeeding proponent, while I do understand when others aren't able to do it. I try not to judge another's personal decision, while encouraging as many to do it as possible. My friends and co-workers have come to me for advice over the years and I am happy to pass along any information that I can.

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I though I'd re-post a few of my own breastfeeding centered posts.

This post was in the height of my frustration with pumping breast milk at work:

Monday, January 26, 2009
Here Comes Bessie

I feel like a cow.

No this is not a post about my weight loss attempts. This is a post about being have been warned.

I absolutely love breastfeeding my little one. I always have. There is nothing more special than the bond you form with your baby while feeding them the way nature intended. I love to watch her nurse and see her little jaw quiver as she suckles. The look in her eyes as she gazes up at me just melts my heart. Her little hand reaching out to touch my face as she snuggles in for the long haul. She fits perfectly in my arms and knows how to find her way with her eyes closed. It is a comfortable routine. It is home for both of us.

I have many friends who were not successful at breastfeeding and a few who never tried it. I respect their choices, but part of me feels as though they've missed such a wonderful part of motherhood that cannot be replaced. When I see another nursing mother, I am always reminded of my own experiences (past and present) and often feel as if I am a member of a special club. I was sad when Sarah weaned herself at 15 months. I wasn't as sad when I had to help Megan wean at 20 months, but I missed it none-the-less.

While I love nursing, I CANNOT STAND PUMPING! As a working mother, I need to pump at work so that little Emma can reap the benefits of breast milk while at daycare. I dread pulling out that pump and hooking myself up to it. It is time consuming, uncomfortable, an inconvenience, and a total source of stress for me. I struggle with supply and often am not able to pump enough to cover the next day. I use the weekends to "catch-up", but usually have to thaw a bottle's worth from my freezer stash once a week.

Since Emma is now 9 months old, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As it is she is eating more and more "food" and slowly dropping off on how much milk she gets. I just keep counting the months and hope that April gets here soon!