Breastfeeding Round-Up Part I

Last week, I started my series on breastfeeding! If you missed the first three posts, you can find them here:

Breastfeeding/Pumping Essentials

My Breastfeeding Journey

Exclusively Pumping as a Stay At Home Mom

 

I have a few more posts on this subject coming up, but I also wanted to share advice and experiences from other mothers. I reached out to some other bloggers and the response was OVERWHELMING! I guess since all Mom’s need to feed their babies, breastfeeding/pumping/and formula feeding are hot topics! So without further ado, I wanted to share some of the amazing posts that I have come across from other bloggers! All posts are used with permission and the originals are linked. Because the response was so overwhelming, I have put all the posts into different categories!

 

Breastfeeding Journey’s/Experiences: 

Nursing is Not Easy, and Then you Add a Dash of Pyloric Stenosis  by Jacki at Tiny Tot Blog

Breastfeeding-Round-Two-533x800.png

Breastfeeding Round Two by Jess at Being Mrs. Beer  

tales-of-a-breastfeeding-mama1.jpg

My Breastfeeding Journey by Lisa at MNsota Mom 

Tales of a Breastfeeding Mama  by Sheila at Sheila Jane Blog 

Post Partum Depression and Breastfeeding by Brooke at Sholar Style 

Baby’s First Year of Breastfeeding by Ally at You Are More 

It’s Not As Easy As You Think by Jennifer at Lil Posies 

IMG_6128.png

My Failed Twin Breastfeeding Experience by Caitlin at Rogers Party of 5 

My Breastfeeding Journey by Brie at A Slice of Brie 

Fed is Best: A Mom’s Story of Feeding her Premie  by Jenna at Jenna Liesch 

 

Breastfeeding Essentials 

Top Breastfeeding Products by Brooke at Sholar Style 

7 Must-Haves for Breastfeeding Moms on Gugu Guru 

Nursing Essentials by Autumn at Our Blended Home 

 

Tips and Tricks 

breastfeeding-680x1024.jpg

5 Tips to Boost Your Supply: A Breastfeeding Plan by Jessica at Jessica Lynn Writes 

The Scoop on Nursing Bra’s by Naya at Lactivist in Louboutin’s 

What’s In My Breastfeeding Basket by Lauren at Bellows in the Berkshires 

Naturally-Boost-Breastmilk-supply.jpg

How to Naturally Boost Your Breastmilk Supply by Rebekah guest posting on Surviving Toddlerhood 

Breastfeeding and Beyond: Tips and Necessities by Shannan at Faithfully Beautiful 

10 Thing I Wish I Knew About Breastfeeding by Marla at Because I Said So Baby 

4 Ways to Cover Without a Nursing Cover by Lauren at Bellows in the Berkshires 

How to Boost Your Milk Supply within 24 Hours  by Clarissa at My Wifestyles

8892785_orig.jpg

Using a Nipple Shield and How to Wean Your Baby Off by Simone at Simone Plus 

Traveling Internationally….without Baby  by Melissa at Baby Castan On Board 

Breastfeeding Tips and Learning to Breastfeed Twins by Joanna at Motherhood and Merlot 

toddler-in-tow.jpg

Tips on Breastfeeding a Newborn with a Toddler in Tow  by Lisa at Redlocks and Shamrocks 

Tips on How to Return to Work while Breastfeeding by Gina at Gugu Guide

breastfeeding-1570695_1920.jpg

Is Breastfeeding OK While You Are Sick? by Jennifer at Lil Posies 

 

 

WOW! What a wealth of information! I actually have TWICE as many blog posts, but I have run out of room in this post…so stay tuned for a part II on Friday! I can’t wait!!!

 

Exclusively Pumping

Exclusively Pumping…what a journey it has been!

url.jpg

Let me tell you this…exclusively pumping is the best worst of both breastfeeding and bottle feeding. It’s challenging and (for me) it’s twice the amount of work, but it’s worth it to me.

So first of all…why would someone exclusively pump? I have friends who pump simply because they don’t want to breastfeed and find it easier to pump. I have friends who pump because they are working Mom’s and switching back and forth is just too much. I have friends who pump because of medical issues, either on the babies part or the Mom’s part.

Pumping is a personal decision and one that should not be taken lightly or disrespected. I have not always received support in my pumping journey and several people have commented to me, “well, just get him to latch back on…” in a duh tone of voice.

I am here to tell you that it is not that easy and I have tried, to no avail. I am at at total loss as to how to get my baby to breastfeed, so I’m going to do the next best thing: pump my milk and give it to him in a bottle.

The benefits of exclusively pumping are quite obvious: first and foremost, the baby is still getting breast milk, even while not technically breastfeeding. When EPing, Kiah doesn’t have any problems taking a bottle, so it can be easy to have someone else feed the baby or to just grab and go with the milk I have in the fridge. As an EPing Mom, I don’t always have to worry about breastfeeding friendly clothes or taking my breastfeeding gear with me wherever I go.

There are, however, several downsides to EPing. First…Kiah doesn’t get to breastfeed (duh). Breastfeeding in itself is so much more than feeding him necessary nutrients. It’s also a bonding time between him and I, and through the act of breastfeeding, some extremely beneficial postpartum hormones are released. Not only that, but by latching onto me, Kiah would transfer his saliva to the my body, and that in turn causes my milk to produce exactly what he needs at that time. All of this can be missed out while exclusively pumping (although it doesn’t have to be!). Another downside to EPing is the endless amounts of bottle and pump part washing I do. The pump parts and bottles are supposed to be washed after every single use. On top of all that, as an exclusively pumping stay at home Mom, every feeding takes twice as long. I have to pump, then feed the baby as opposed to just feeding the baby or just pumping while someone else feeds the baby. It takes me forrrrever to leave the house because pumping and then feeding Kiah is about an hour ordeal in and of itself (and that doesn’t include getting toddler tornado Tera ready!).

Getting into pumping was extremely confusing and exhausting. I didn’t even know where to begin or what I needed or how to go about it. I didn’t know how to keep up my supply or how to store the milk. So here are some tips and tricks that I have learned during my 5 months of exclusively pumping:

How often should I pump? 

I found this schedule to be spot-on for me so far:

Breastfeeding / exclusively pumping schedule:

Over the course of the day, I usually pump around 40 ounces. At the beginning, Kiah was only eating 20, so I was saving up a lot of milk! Now, he is eating closer to 35 ounces so I’m not storing quite as much.

When Should I Start Pumping? 

If you are pumping occasionally, it is recommended that you wait until 12 weeks when your supply is established.

However, if you are exclusively pumping that means the baby is not getting milk any other way, and it’s ok to start pumping straight away. I started at three weeks post partum.

What Is Your Pumping Routine? 

Since I am pumping 6-8 times a day, that means I am dirtying a lot of bottles! After pumping, I make a pile of dirty pump parts and when I am running out of bottles, I wash all the parts. Confession: I actually don’t wash the pump parts every time. Since breastmilk has natural antibodies, you can place the pump parts in a ziploc bag and put them in the fridge, then reuse them throughout the day!

How do you store your milk? 

After pumping, I put the bottle of expressed milk in the fridge, lined up a row from oldest to newest. When Kiah gets hungry, I pull out the “oldest” bottle from the fridge and warm up his bottle from that milk. When most of my bottles are in the fridge and I don’t have enough to pump into, I move the fridge milk into milk bags and put them in the freezer.

breast-milk-storage-guildlines.jpg

The only time I feed Kiah directly what I’ve pumped is in the middle of the night and when we are out and about.

What kind of equipment do you use? 

As with most things, I try to keep it simple when it comes to equipment. I have a Madela pump, which I like well enough, but I would really like to try out the Spectra pump. I have 8 Madela bottles to pump into and 3 Dr. Brown bottles that Kiah eats from (life hack: dr. browns bottles fit perfectly onto madela pumps!). Lots of people recommend a hands-free pumping bra, too!

What are your tips and tricks for exclusively pumping? 

As far as tips and tricks…it’s pretty challenging to be hooked up to a pump 6-10 times day while trying to keep the infant satisfied, the toddler entertained and me relaxed enough to have any milk output!

My best piece of advice is to just give it time and you will eventually settle into a new normal with pumping included. I’m usually sitting on my bed pumping with Kiah right next to me on one side while I read a book to Tera who is sitting on the other side.

Please remember…not everyone’s body responds to a pump, so pumping should not be the only indication of how much milk you are making. Pumping works for some, but not for others.

Exclusively pumping Moms…how are you doing? What were your favorite tricks to make it through?

Don’t forget to check out the other posts in this series:

Breastfeeding/Pumping Essentials 

My Breastfeeding Journey 

My Breastfeeding Journey

Ah, breastfeeding.

I have such a love/hate relationship with you.

If I knew then what I know now, I probably would have quit right off the bat. I wouldn’t have even tried. However, I did try and I have given it my all for both of my babies. I’m proud of that. But I’m not gonna lie…it has NOT been my favorite.

Let me start back at the beginning.

Tera Evelynne was born and I was shocked to find that all of my birth plan dreams came true. It was so perfect (as perfect as birth can be) and special. I figured the logical next step would be breastfeeding without any issues!

Womp. womp.

The nurse took one look at my nipples and told me those would never feed a child. She went on and on about how this would not work and that I needed a lactation consultant immediately. Theo eventually calmly asked her to leave the room, but we were both ready to throw her out of the room. A lactation consultant did come see me right away and agreed with the nurse that my nipples were inverted and latching would be very difficult. I almost burst into tears when she pulled out a clear, plastic thing and solved all my problems by showing me how to use a nipple shield. Tera latched no problem and we were good to go from there.

Unfortunately, Tera did use the nipple shield for all 10 months that I nursed her. It was pretty inconvenient out in public and at night when I had to get the thing on properly before she could nurse. There was no “popping out the boob” and just feeding her. It was a little bit more difficult, but it was worth it to me.

Looking back, I think that I struggled with a touch of post partum depression after Tera was born. One thing that I noticed was that this PPD disappeared almost IMMEDIATELY after I weaned Tera. Tera also slept through the night immediatly after I weaned her. Also immediately after I weaned Tera, the bedroom become a wonderful place for a married couple again, if you get what I’m saying. Oh, and I suddenly lost all 10 pounds of the baby weight that my body had been hanging onto.

Breastfeeding Tera was worth it, but I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we were done. My goal had been one year but I only made it to ten months.

 

When Tera was 13 months old, our foster daughter Abigail came to live with us. Obviously, Abi was formula fed and I cannot even explain to you how much of a relief this was to me. Despite the fact that Abi had a rough go of it for the first few months, I found myself so much more in control of my emotions during that time since I hadn’t just gone through a pregnancy/delivery. It was nice to be able to let Theo feed her and to not have to worry about having my nipple shield or my nursing cover while we were out. However, I truly do think that our bond suffered because of the nature of formula feeding (I’ll talk more about that in a post on Thursday!).

 

When I was pregnant with Kiah, I was hoping that I would be able to breastfeed him without the nipple shield. I knew what my problem was now and I hoped I would be able to solve it. I was pretty sure I could make breastfeeding a whole lot easier the second time around since I knew what to expect and I knew my body.

 

Nope.

At three weeks old when the doctor labeled him failure to thrive, Theo and I had a hard talk that ended in Theo firmly suggesting that I switch to exclusively pumping for a short period of time so that we could track exactly how much Kiah was consuming. It was the right call and I began a journey of exclusively pumping that has been so much harder than I ever realized it would be (I’ll also share an entire post on that tomorrow).

During this time of exclusively pumping, I greatly increased my supply and have become an “oversupplier”. Yes, tiny woman with tiny breasts can have an oversupply of milk. We began freezing my milk and a few weeks in we decided I should start using some of the frozen milk.

And that’s when I learned all about high lipase. Lipase is a nutrient in breastmilk that helps aid in digestion. Some women have very high amounts of lipase in their milk, and when frozen the lipase breaks down and emits a soapy taste into the milk. Imagine my horror when I found out that all 300+ ounces I had frozen had high lipase. Now, there is NOTHING wrong with my milk, it just tastes funny. Of course, Kiah won’t drink it so I have ended up donating over 700 ounces of breastmilk to babies who have no problem with the taste.

The short period of exclusively pumping turned into a long period of exclusively pumping, as Kiah refused to latch back onto me (nipple shield or not). The kid has been spoiled by the bottle and at this point I’m not sure that I’m even willing to put in the work to switch him back. I know I probably should exhaust all measures to get him back on the breast…but I already feel like I’m exhausted and don’t want to add another endeavor to my plate. 

So that is my breastfeeding journey so far. One baby exclusively breastfed with the nipple shield, one baby formula fed, and one baby I have exclusively pumped for. Add in latch issues, high lipase, over supply and crazy whacked-out hormones while breastfeeding, and I’d say I’ve been around the block a time or two. 

I have continued to breastfeed my children because it is what is best for them. Is it convenient? Um, no. Do I love it? Nope. Is it worth it for one short year? Yes, it is so worth it to me. 

What about you? Did you love it or not so much? Did you struggle with any of the issues that I have struggled with?

Don’t forget to check out my post on Breastfeeding and Pumping Essentials! 

Feature: Breastfeeding & Pumping Essentials

It’s Monday and I have a special type of feature today! In the next few days/weeks, I have a series of several posts all about breastfeeding/pumping here on the blog.

Today I’m featuring my favorite breastfeeding/pumping items!

Ok, technically…all you need is your breast and a baby to breastfeed.

…….If only it were that easy!

Instead, I have found that I have built a rather large arsenal of supplies to help me through the months of breastfeeding/pumping.

 

The Early Days 

  • Nipple shield. This thing saved my entire breastfeeding journey. I’m 99.9% positive I would not have been able to breastfeed either of my kids without it. For me, it helped them to latch on, but for many women it helps in the beginning with very sore nipples as it acts as a barrier between the tongue and the nipple.
  • Nipple balm. The first few months of breastfeeding are just downright painful. It’s hard to prevent, but having some nipple balm on hand helps to ease and soothe the pain.
  • Breast pads. This is a MUST for breastfeeding Moms, especially in the first few weeks when the supply has not quite been maintained yet. Breasts leak…all the time. There are both disposable and reusable breast pads, both of which I like and use.
  • Nursing bras and tanks. It is a challenge to find a good nursing bra, and everyone will have different opinions on the best place to find them. I personally use and love the ones I have found at Target, but I am not a very well endowed woman, and I have heard others say that it just doesn’t cut it for them A breastfeeding woman needs at least 3-4 nursing bras in her rotation, especially in the beginning when leaking is inevitable.

Out and About 

  • Nursing cover. I personally prefer to nurse with a cover. I have used several over the years, and my hands-down favorite has been this Covered Goods one. It has 365 coverage and it’s soft and flowy!
  • Nurselet. One of the hardest parts about breastfeeding is trying to get the baby to latch. This little gem helps so much by giving nursing Mom’s an extra hand to hold up their shirt. It also works as a pretty bracelet reminder of which side the baby fed on last.

  • Hand pump. A hand pump has been helpful to me whether or not I am exclusively pumping. I like to carry it around in the diaper bag and always have it on hand for when I get stuck out for longer than I planned, when I don’t have access to a power outlet or I just need to relieve some engorgement.

For the Pumping Mama 

  • Breast Pump. A good breast pump is an absolute MUST for anyone who plans on pumping more than just the occasional bottle. There are many brands out there, but the two I most highly recommend are Madela and Spectra. Also, don’t forget that you can get a free breast pump through your insurance!
  • Pump cushions. Remember earlier in the post when I was talking about soreness? Well, that happens when you pump, too. These pump cushions have been so helpful for provide a gentler tug on the breast while pumping. They are very soft and also how fun is the color?
  • Bottles. Bottles are another matter of great debate in the bottle-feeding world. I’m going to have to tell you the cold, hard truth: You are going to have to try out what seems like a billion bottles before you find the one that works for you! We have had great success with the Dr. Brown’s bottles…although there are SO MANY DANG PARTS TO WASH.
  • Bottle Brush & Tree. With the use of bottles comes the lovely chore of washing bottles. Many people wash their bottles in the dishwasher, but since I don’t have one of those, I just stick with the good ‘ol bottle brush and bottle tree!
  • Milk Bags. Many pumping Moms find that they have an excess of milk and need to store it somehow. The best and easiest way to do this is to put it in milk bags.

For the Milk Supply 

  • Lactation cookies. When my Mom was here, she made these lactation cookies and they were SO GOOD. Everyone else even wanted to eat some!
  • Mama’s Milk Tea. I’ve heard some say that they dislike the taste of this tea, but I don’t mind it at all! I have found it to work within 24 hours, and so when I feel like my supply is tanking, I just drink a mug of this stuff.
  • Brewers Yeast. This stuff is legit, ya’ll. It does the trick! It is pretty flavorless and tastes to me like I am eating dirt, but I will occasionally sprinkle it in my oatmeal or other foods so I am eating a little bit of it.
  • Lecithin. This is a vitamin that I recently discovered that is reported to help prevent clogs! Milk duct clogs are incredibly painful and absolutely no fun, so I’m all for anything that will help prevent them!
  • Water!!!!! This is probably the easiest way to boost milk supply. As an exclusively pumping Mama, there is a noticeable difference in the amount of ounces I pump on days I am staying hydrated and days that I forget to drink as much water. I need to drink, drink, drink to keep my supply up!

Support 

It is so, so hard to breastfeed a baby without the support of those around you. It is important to have someone to ask questions to and receive encouragement from when the going gets tough (because it will!) These are the places I have received the most support from those around me:

  • Family 
  • Friends 
  • Lactation Support (La Leche Legue and Lactation Consultants) 

***I don’t know if she is doing them anymore, but Julie at Girl in the Red Shoes has been publishing The Breastfeeding Diaries for a few years now. So many women have shared their stories of breastfeeding/pumping….it’s such a treasure trove of information and encouragement!!!

What about you? What are some of the essentials for you while you are breastfeeding/pumping? Did I miss anything? Did you learn anything new?

Throwback Thursday

 

Thanks to Facebook and Timehop, I always have a reminder of what was going on in my life several years ago. Sometimes it gives me the biggest smile, and sometimes I have to roll my eyes so hard. Like, why did I post that on Facebook? Haha!

After seeing my Timehops day after day, it got me to thinking about what I might have written in my journals on this day for the past several years. Did you know that I have kept a journal since 2006, when I was 15? I don’t write in it every day, but I write in it frequently! So I dug out my journals and took a trip down memory lane! I didn’t write down everything that I had written in my journals, but I did include bullet points of what was going on.

Here is my Throwback Thursday for March 16…

March 16, 2007 (The glory days of High School)

I am so stressed because we have a ridiculous amount of schoolwork. Mom and Dad are on their way to Thailand right now, which is crazy to think about.

I feel like all my “friends” hate me. Ok, maybe not hate…but they certainly don’t like me.

(16 year old me…#eyeroll. Those friends that “hated” me are still some of my best friends to this day…10 years later).

March 16, 2008

It’s Easter break. I’ve been dreading these weeks since we decided to move (from Tera to Niamey), and I just wish that I could skip this point and have it over and done with. I’ll miss Tera so much.

We just had our class camping trip. We went in the river on canoes, we climbed up a big hill in the dark and we played a lot of games (for some reason I have no memory of these things happening?)

March 16, 2009 (senior in high school)

I wrote out the 10 commandments

“These fast few weeks have been good. I have been overall happy. However, the one thing that is beginning to weigh on me a lot is goodbyes, going to college and leaving my family. I worry about my future. I was hardly thinking about it and now I know that I can’t deny thinking about the future and the reality of leaving Niger and all my friends + family.

March 16, 2010 (One month before we Theo and I started dating)

Theo invited me to his house for Easter!

I miss Niger so intensely.

“I have an intense desire to do missions overseas. So, teach me that I can serve here. Teach me that my mission field is wherever you have me. If I can’t serve here, in the little things, then I can’t serve over there in the huge things. Teach me, Lord!”

March 16, 2011 (Sophomore in college)

Exhausted and trying to manage schoolwork and friendships, stayed up until 2 am every night this week  (who was I?????)

Just got accepted onto DC-10 (a bible study leadership team) and I’m SO EXCITED!!

March 16, 2012 (2 months before we got married)

According to our couples report, Theo and I have a vitalized relationship, meaning that we are satisfied with our relationship, skilled in communication and conflict resolution. We seem to be ver stable and this was so encouraging to me. I realize that this means that we will still fight and we will have so much to work on, but we have a solid foundation.

It’s amazing how much our families have poured so much into us and taught both of us the roles of many and woman, how to communicate and how to resolve conflict.

(I mean…I still think this is pretty accurate, but I wish I could go back and tell little ‘ol me that I HAD NO CLUE. HAHA!)

March 16, 2013 (first year of marriage/student teaching semester)

I would love to feel like I actually have a life and get to spend time with my friends or my husband. Teach me contentment.

March 16, 2014 (pregnant with baby, just 10 days before we found out it was a girl…Tera Evelynne Hines)

Yesterday I took the day off work. I needed to just rest and be without the children. I think that the baby has been doing a lot of growing this week, as I have felt really exhausted the whole week. The baby has been kicking and rolling a lot, it’s an amazing feeling- so subtle I could easily miss it, yet so grand and monumental at the same time.

March 16, 2015 (Tera was 6 months old)

Tera crawled this week! We have a crawler!!!!

We are exhausted. We haven’t slept in 6 months and it’s really getting to us. We both need rest so badly. I wonder if it is possible for Tera to spend the night with someone else just so I can get one full night of sleep??? Or maybe just a morning to sleep in. Or maybe a day that I don’t have to cook dinner and it’s in the budget for us to eat out.

March 16, 2016 (Tera was 1.5, Abi was 6 months and I was 8 weeks pregnant with Kiah.)

Survival mode. I have no other words to describe these last 3 weeks. It’s been awful. I haven’t been able to cook or clean or eat or leave the house. I mostly lay on the couch all day and eat cinnamon toast. I’m almost 8 weeks along and don’t know how much longer I can take this. Theo has been shouldering ALL the work and I can tell that he is just exhausted from it all. We have no outside help and no one who is going to show up on the scene. So far this pregnancy has been a dark and lonely time and I find myself crying out to God everyday to just HELP ME.

 

And that is a walk down memory lane!! I wrote this post mostly for myself, and I learned a few things:

  • Continue journaling!
  • Write about real-life circumstances so I can look back and remember them as they happened in that moment
  • Complain less, be thankful more
  • I think I will add this type of post to my blog roundup every few months or so! I really, really enjoyed looking back and dusting those old journals off for once!

Follow-Through and Follow-Up

In the past few weeks, I have written two posts that have gotten a lot of feedback. I just wanted to address both those pasts with a little follow-up.

The first post that received a lot of traction was my post about how I am committing to Putting Down My Phone, and several ways that Theo and I have decided to do that.

Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m an epic failure and I hate that.

The first two weeks went really well, and I noticed such a huge difference in myself. The two biggest differences I noticed were in dealing with Tera’s tantrums and my afternoon slump. With Tera, I thought maybe her behavior would improve if I was more present and focused on her. Well, it didn’t….BUT I found myself more in control of my own emotions while dealing with her being difficult. I found that I had more patience and felt less like I was being interrupted, and therefore was able to handle the situation much better.

I also noticed a huge difference in my afternoon slump. Every afternoon around 4 I hit a wall. I’m a total morning person and by 4 all my energy has worn off and all I want to do is sit on my butt and scroll through my phone. However, when I was being more conscious to put my phone down and keep it down, I found myself not hitting that energy slump every day! It was really surprising to me! I was able to get more done in a day and be more present with my family.

It wasn’t easy, though, and I often felt like I was missing out on big things in the social media world. That’s so silly to say, but I felt like I lost followers and readers simply because I wasn’t as present as I had been in the past.

After we went on vacation, I started picking up my phone more and more and slowly the bad habits came back. I hate it, and I’m re-reading my original post and going back to my strict rules of keeping the phone down. I don’t care if I miss out on social media happenings or if I lose followers. It’s worth it to me to be present with my family and have more energy throughout the day instead of having it siphoned from me by my phone.

ALSO- I got a ton of comments on that post from people who said they would love to do the same, but ______. Most of the time it was, “but my job is online”. I just want to encourage you that even if your job is online, and in fact even more so, these boundaries are so necessary. Just like people clock out of their jobs that aren’t online, those of us who make money through an online method need to turn off the computer/phone/internet at set times. Boundaries. It’s totally necessary.

 

The other post that got so much feedback was my post on Breaking Up With Blogging. The funny thing about this post was that it gathered more page views and comments than any other post that I have ever published. Many of you said that you want me to stick around, and I fully intend to. I just don’t want to become someone whose entire life is build around this blog. Right now my entire life is built around what will glorify God the most: and that is raising my children and supporting my husband. I don’t want to promote any companies that I don’t fully back. I don’t want to have my blog cause so much stress and burnout just to keep up with all the other bloggers out there. I’ll still promote companies and work hard, but right now this blog is looking more like a hobby than a business, and I have made peace with that (although I still wrestle a lot with it). Thank you so much for ALL of you who read my blog and take the time to cheer me on. It means SO, SO much to me.

 

Anyways, sorry this is kind of a boring post with no pictures (totally broke the cardinal rule of blogging right there!!). I just wanted to take the time to publicly follow up and follow through on those two things.

Hezekiah James: 5 Months

Here we go…5 months old! It has gone by so fast! Kiah is getting to the age where it starts to get fun and I have to say I’m LOVING it!

Weight: 14.5 pounds!!

This kid just gained two pounds in the last month. Ha! I’m pretty sure that he now weighs more than Tera did at 5 months!

Eating: So, Kiah has always been a terrible eater. It would take HOURS to get him to drink a 3 oz bottle. Then, he got really sick this month and had no appetite. For a few days we were struggling to get him to eat anything and I stopped worrying about how much he was getting and instead started making sure he was just drinking SOMETHING. I know that he lost some weight during this time, but I’m so thankful that we were able to stay away from dehydration! Anyways, after he got better he started eating SO WELL. He made up for all the feedings he missed and then some! We also bought some nipples with a higher flow for his bottle and he will now suck down a four ounce bottle in 10 minutes flat. I am SO THANKFUL. Seriously…so, so thankful.

Sleeping: We are finally into a good routine during the day where he takes 3 naps. These naps are about 45 minutes each, although he has done a two hour stretch before. By 7, he is cranky as all get out and just wants to go to sleep, so he usually goes to bed around 7:30. We wake him around 10 for a dream feed and then he usually sleeps until 3-4 am, then right back to sleep until 6:30 when he is up for the day. Yes, I’m exhausted but honestly it could be worse. He has slept through the night once or twice so I’m hoping that will catch on soon!

Clothing/Diapers: 3-6 month now officially fits him, although some are a little big. Cloth diapers are still happening, although he cries AS SOON AS he pees in one…making it a lot more work for me to be changing him so often!

Personality: 

This kid is pretty easy to please, and I don’t mind one bit! He loves being around us, talking to us and listening to us talk. He loves to be held and is going through a little bit of separation anxiety. It’s challenging that he doesn’t want anyone else to hold him or feed him, but I’m not gonna lie…I love how much he loves me!! (Neither of my other two ever went through that stage!).

He’s super chill and just hangs out wherever we put him…as long as he can see either Tera or I. He loves people and is already smiling at anybody who looks his way!

Notable First This Month: 

  • First sickness (RSV)

Likes: 

  • Tera
  • Being held and talked to
  • Bath time
  • Car rides
  • Eating (for the first time in his life!!!)
  • His Mamaroo

Dislikes: 

  • Napping…meh.
  • Daddy feeding him (Momma’s boy).
  • Wet diapers

Milestones Reached: 

  • Last month I said he had rolled over, but I still have only seen him do it a couple times
  • Grasping toys in hand, bringing toys to mouth
  • LAUGHING!
  • Responding to Theo, Tera and I over strangers
  • Sitting up for long times in the bumbo seat, and a couple seconds unsupported by himself!

What we are Loving at this Stage: I personally LOVE this stage. He is smiling, interacting and starting to be his very own person. I love seeing him bounce his head around and smile at Daddy, Tera and myself. He is so, so sweet and likes to just talk to us whenever we glance his way.

What we are Struggling with at this Stage: The noise level that comes out of this tiny kid is INSANE. He screeches all day long and it’s seriously loud enough to give me a headache. I honestly don’t mind loud noises, laughing, yelling, playing…but the screeching really drives me bananas!

Feature: A Preschool Journey

Tera is 2 years old and I recently started doing a little homeschool routine with her.

Now, I know what you are thinking.

It’s way too early for that. That’s not necessary. She will learn through play. You are just creating more work for yourself.

Yeah, yeah. I know.

However, I learned soon after Kiah was born and Theo started his new job that Tera and I desperately needed a routine. Not only did we need a routine, but we needed structured time fillers.

I figured that since I have a degree in Early Childhood Education, it would be no biggie for me to plan out a daily activity with my Tera-girl. I began browsing Pinterest and soon realized that it was incredibly overwhelming. I had no idea where to start or what to do. I knew then that I needed a curriculum that was already written. I started doing some research and even polled my Facebook followers who gave some awesome feedback.

Then, I found The Teaching Mama. 

Angela is a Mom, wife and blogger whose philosophy of education is to make learning exciting and fun. After scrolling through her blog a little bit and still feeling overwhelmed by how to put together structured activities, I stumbled upon her Preschool Curriculum: The Preschool Journey.

After contacting Angela about this, she sent it to me for free to review here on this ol’ blog, but all opinions I write are my own.

This curriculum is FABULOUS. It is a hands-on preschool curriculum to get a child ready for Kindergarten. There are 26 weeks of lesson plans, each week focused on a different letter of the alphabet. Angela also explains her approach to preschool, dedicated several pages to explaining how to set up an at-home preschool, and then lists all the goals and standards that a child should know by age 5 (colors, shapes, numbers, alphabet recognition, etc). Angela then provides many idea for how to teach, such as singing, reading, repetition, etc. Basically, she gives a crash course in Early Childhood Education that covers what any homeschooling Mama (experienced in teaching or not!) needs to know to teach preschool at home.

Then it dives into the 26 week guide. Each week is a letter of the alphabet and includes a list of books to read, an animal craft to do, and four additional activities to go along with that letter of the alphabet. There are also several times where she provides printable to go along with the activities. These activities are always hands-on, and often cover many other subject areas such as math, arts, motor skills, etc.

After breakfast every morning, Tera and I sit down and go through one activity. First we do our devotions together, which includes reading the daily devotion from this book and the accompanying Bible passage. It also includes a short and simple prayer.

We then say the date and the weather, and then dive into the curriculum portion.

First, we read a book together that pertains to that letter of the alphabet.

Then we do the one daily activity. The activities vary in depth and comprehension, so I sometimes tweak it to fit Tera and I. But isn’t this the beauty of doing “schooling” at home? For example, one of the activities for the letter A was to go on a walk and pick up acorns. Instead, we went on a walk and I pointed out everything that I could find that started with an A. Here are some pictures of Tera and I working on her letter B animal: Bear.

Letter A (Alligator) and B (Bear). Tera is always so excited to point them out to Daddy when he gets home from work! I can’t wait to fill up the wall with all the letters!

The activity usually takes 15-20 minutes and so far it’s mostly me doing it while Tera watches. 😉

Tera LOVES this time together and looks forward to it every single day after breakfast. She is so excited to show Daddy what we did when he gets home everyday.

I will say that so far she is not comprehending much, HOWEVER, I am still teaching it to her because one day it will click. I always show her the alphabet letters, and so far she knows A, B and T. I always show her the numbers and so far she knows 5 (lol…so random). The rest of the time it’s just fun and even if she hasn’t grasped the concept I move onto the next letter. I know that she is still learning and enjoying spending structured time with Mommy, so for me it’s totally worth it!

I would recommend this curriculum for age 3-5, and trust me…any Mom (or Dad!) can use it!! It’s so comprehensive, yet easy to understand!

After all that explanation, I bet you are wondering how much this whole thing costs?

$9.99

Yep. You read that right. Less than $10. LESS THAN $10!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s incredible and I am so impressed with this hard working Mama for all the work that she has put into this curriculum so that Mom’s like me don’t have to do all the work.

Not only has she written this preschool curriculum, but she also has The Toddler Journey Book full of activities to keep toddlers busy (also for $9.99!!!). Her website is FULL of amazing activities for children of all ages, and it is organized so well, making it easy to find categories according to the ages of your children, the subject matter or any other category imaginable! Seriously…go check it out!

You can follow Angela on all kinds of social media outlets:

Website

Facebook

Pinterest 

 

SO…Mom’s like me who have a toddler or preschooler at home who just need  structure and a simple learning activity every day…I HIGHLY recommend The Preschool Journey by The Teaching Mama. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

Let me know if you are diving into teaching your preschooler at home and what you are doing to teach them. I’d love to hear if you use The Preschool Journey!