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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Breastfeeding Must Haves

I want to share what I felt were Must Haves for Breastfeeding. Definitely utilize the lactation consultant in the hospital while you are there to help you hands-on and see if your pediatrician office also has a LC, mine does and it was helpful to go see them after being home a week or so. Especially go if you are having any supply issues as there are many things that can help with that. I hope this is helpful to those of you wanting to breastfeed!

1. Nursing Bra - I have 4 or 5 of these Bravado Nursing Bras and they are wonderful and very comfortable even to sleep in. They are the only nursing bra I wear. They must be worn by lots of mamas with all the reviews/stars they have. My SIL uses this brand too.

2. Nursing Pads - you can go with Disposable Nursing Pads or Reusable Nursing Pads that you wash. It is nice to have the disposable ones early on when you go through multiple pairs a day but I've liked the reusable ones now that I'm down to just one pair a day. And they can just go in with whatever laundry you are doing.

3. Nursing Pillow - People usually either go with the My Brest Friend Pillow or the Boppy and I like the former because it felt more secure around me and supported the baby easier with 2 humps for baby's head (one for each nursing side). If you get a boppy too don't get rid of it though because it can be great for tummy time or for support when visitors are holding the baby...we have one for those reasons.

4. Gel soothies - In the midst of delivering early, I forgot all about these Gel soothies and about 1 week postpartum my SIL reminded me about them and had an extra unopened pair. They were amazing. You keep them in the fridge in between uses. I had 3 pairs of these and used them for about a month or so. You can use them for longer than it says if you wash them and take good care of them.

5. Vitamin D drops - If you are breastfeeding your baby needs vitamin D which is already present in formula as recommended by my lactation consultant and pediatrician. We use these and it is just one drop a day and there is enough in the dropper for a year.

6. Nipple cream - Breastfeeding causes sore nipples mostly in the beginning when you are trying to get a good latch and may have to unlatch/relatch several times, etc. I didn't like the smell of the lanolin they had in the hospital and I was so glad I had some Motherlove nipple cream once we got home. Plus it is all natural! You can also use coconut oil, which is what I use on my pump flanges.

7. Nursing cover - My mom made me two nursing covers as a gift but if you don't want to DIY, here's one with great reviews. It was nice in the beginning when I was in public and it was hard to get him to latch quickly etc. Nowadays I don't use one much and because he gets hot under there and doesn't seem to like it. I've learned how to be fairly discreet and if people don't want to see it they don't have to look :) The cover is still great if I need to pump in a public place.

8. Nursing wear - I don't think you have to go crazy with nursing wear but having this Undercover Mama tank was nice because I could use it under any shirt and not expose my stomach and back while nursing.. especially nice if it is cool where you are nursing. It's one layer so you don't have another bra in it like a lot of nursing tanks. I have a couple of Target ones but I don't love them... the bra part is tight compared to the rest of the tank. I have a few shirts and a dress from Milk Nursingwear also which make it easy to breastfeed with secretly placed openings. This is really the only way to breastfeed in a dress unless you have a very low v-neck dress and even then you would risk stretching it out. I do wish they had a bigger selection and colors of dresses since a dress used to be such a go-to outfit for me.

9.* Hands free pumping bra - If you are pumping at all you will want this bra. I wish I had brought it to the hospital with me. When you are exhausted and having to pump round the clock, it is nice to not have to hold the pump parts in place. And it really does adjust for difference sizes.

10.* Milk storage bags - Again if you are pumping, you will need a way to store the pumped milk in the freezer. We have not had any issues with these bags and store them in cardboard soda boxes (a pinterest idea). They have a double ziplock seal at the top.

A a few things that you do not need to purchase but are must haves: Water, snacks and above all PATIENCE!

It was frustrating and exhausting the first 3 or 4 weeks when our son didn't have the sucking reflex down due to his early arrival but we kept trying and trying and I kept pumping and we would give him pumped milk. And then he learned what to do and it was SO much easier to just nurse... it felt like forever at the time but looking back now it really wasn't. That being said, there are cases where breastfeeding can't happen, just doesn't work out or the stress is doing more harm that good. While I'm a strong believer in breastfeeding, there is no judgment of other moms that are not. Don't beat yourself up about it if it isn't what is best for your family or circumstances. Everyone has to do what is best for their family.

*I didn't go into must haves regarding what breast pump or bottles are best because that can really depend on what is available from your insurance (yes, you get a free pump through insurance) and if you want your bottles to also go with the pump and which bottles/nipples your baby prefers. It may be best to get a couple of types of bottles to see what works. I personally have the PISA by Medela and their bottles have worked out for us well so far but I do also have a couple other bottle types to try in the future. I like the option to use the same bottles for pumping and for whenever we feed pumped milk. Even if you are an exclusively nursing, I highly encourage pumping even just a little once a day so you have a freezer stash when you want to have a date night or in case of an emergency. Eric and I have been able to go on a few dates or I can go do something for a few hours and pump in the car when necessary and there is freezer milk for the baby.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Weekly Pregnancy Photos

In honor of this day last year when we found out we were pregnant, I wanted to share all my weekly pregnancy photos. It seriously does not feel like that was a whole year ago... time just flew by!

One week after finding out I started doing these weekly (so that's why it starts with 5 weeks pregnant) in the same spot in the room we made into the nursery. Part way through you can see that the wall got some samples on it and changed colors when we painted the nursery aqua in week 27. The aqua even looks totally different in different lighting. You might notice the last two photos are a little different... well I had planned on taking my traditional weekly photo at 35+1 day but I went into labor that day and never got the planned photo so that one will have to do. I had no clue when we took my photo with the Are You My Mother book that I'd have a baby in my arms a week and 2 days later. Also I wanted to at least round it out to an even 36 since I missed some weekly photos with my little boy coming early so I decided I could take a final one at the would-be 36 weeks mark and he could join me! He was just 5 days old then!

Big thanks to Eric for putting up with taking photos every single week! We just took them all with the phone since that was the easiest. I also had weekly photos taken wearing the same white shirt and black leggings which are neat to look at the difference but I like these since I'm wearing different outfits like some of my cute pregnancy dresses!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken and Vegetables

These days anything really easy for dinner gets extra points but when it is this delicious and easy, it's going to become a LaForce home staple. Like I've already made it twice in a 3 week time frame and we were out of town for almost one of those weeks haha. Just don't forget to put the potatoes in like I did the last time I made this... what can I say... mom brain is real.

Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken and Vegetables
serves 4, from Damn Delicious


8 chicken thighs - bone in skin on or boneless skinless
16 oz red potatoes, halved or quartered
16 oz baby carrots
16 oz green beans,stems snapped
Note: these don't have to be exact, if you want to throw in a few more green beans or whatever go for it. this recipe is very flexible I've found. 

1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup ketchup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Mix together all ingredients below the Note starting with the soy sauce. Pour a little bit of the mixture on the bottom of your crock pot. Add chicken, potatoes, carrots and green beans. Pour rest of sauce mixture over top. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

If you use bone-in skin on chicken thighs you can take them out and broil them in the oven for 3-4 minutes skin side up right before serving to crisp up the skin but this is optional. I've used both kinds of chicken thighs and they are both delicious but the crisping up the bone-in skin on chicken is nice if you have the extra time.

You could add heat to this by upping the amount of crushed red pepper in the sauce.

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, September 11, 2015

My Nautical Baby Shower

I didn't get a chance to post about the awesome family baby shower my sister in law threw in April before munchkin arrived but am so excited to share it with you now! It was nautical themed and the invitations were so adorable with Ahoy It's a Boy on them.

The decor was top notch! If anyone is throwing a nautical shower, I know some of these things came from etsy. There were fun banners, various ships, a sailor hat and lighthouses that both of us and my mom happened to have for decorating the table that contained the Wishes for Baby cards and the Advice for the Parents-to-be cards. There were also thank you cards that matched the theme where the attendees went ahead and filled in their address - this is something Megan had done for her at one of her showers and it is a real time saver when you have so much going on with a new baby.

My mom gave Megan the Little People Marina to put out which I played with as a kid. Love all the old Little People stuff.

This diaper wreath was amazing! It said Baby Munchkin in the center and is from etsy.

With the wonderful host! She was so sweet to host a baby shower with a 2 month old.

Now let's talk about the amazing food. First the diaper cake on the food table was adorable. We cloth diaper but I haven't really had to buy any disposables for when we travel, etc. due to diapers from my showers.  It was the perfect centerpiece.

The food was catered by someone that catered one of Megan's showers and it was delicious! Chicken salad, veggies and dip, fruit, spinach artichoke dip and some sort of cheese dip in the hollowed pineapple that was to die for! I could totally go for some of that right now.

The cookies are from Blue Flour Bakery in Columbia and they are so so good! I first had their cookies at the shower I threw for Megan when her mom brought them. They are a great shower dessert and I prefer cookies over cake.

With Miss Abby right before we all ate.

After eating, everyone filled out the Baby Wish cards that I cannot wait to share with Munchkin one day and the Advice for the Parents-to-be. 

Then I opened the gifts. My chair even had a Mom-to-be sign and the mantle was all decorated too with BABY letters Megan made and some onesies and burp cloths y mom made.

With Eric's mom and my mom

One of our close family friends was really sweet to come up from FL for the shower.

As well as my aunt from FL and cousin from Charleston.

And my sweet niece. She was the flower girl in our wedding and is so grown up now.

There were cute cookie favors for the guests to take as they left also from Blue Flour. I actually froze two of these for us to enjoy post baby and ate them a couple weeks ago and they were still just as delicious.

Eric helped out with clean up and packing up the baby loot.

And of course this little guy dressed up for the party in his nautical wear too at a little over 2 months old!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pregnancy Must Haves Part 2

After my Pregnancy Must Haves post, my friend Katie who had a very different pregnancy (morning sickness with "morning" being all day every day) offered to write a part 2 guest post with her pregnancy must haves. She has 8 great pregnancy must haves and tips below.

Emily and I had a blast being pregnant at the same time (and it’s even more fun now having babies so close in age!). Pregnancies come in all shapes and sizes; let’s just say mine was quite round and lacked the proverbial “glow”. As Emily mentioned in her post, the list of essentials is different for each situation so I asked her if I could write up a different perspective for all you mommas out there that aren’t even considering turning on a prenatal workout DVD. So here we go…

Trader Joe’s Organic Ginger Pear White Tea
At the first sign of morning sickness I raided my local CVS and bought every Sea-band and ginger product available. Little did I know those very products would make me just as sick as fried chicken. I found some comfort in an afternoon cup of hot tea and this one from Trader Joe’s has a little hint of ginger without the overpowering ginger flavor that sent me straight to the toilet.  I don’t think it truly solved any morning sickness problems but it made me feel like I was at least trying and it replaced my typical 3pm coffee break. 

Kleenex box
I typically keep a box somewhere in the house but during pregnancy this is a must.  Hormones are out of whack and the tears related to fear, fatigue and pure joy need something soft and gentle to soak them up.  It also came in quite handy post-birth when I had those precious moments in the middle of the night of staring at my perfect creation and realizing “This baby is mine!?!?” (uncontrolled sobbing to ensue).

Bagels/ Any other form of carb-loaded food
Clean eating? Fruits and veggies? Say what?  I ate a bagel almost every day and was once found eating a mound of mashed potatoes straight from the kitchen aid mixer bowl.  I’m not saying I didn’t gain extra weight, but it was survival and if it stayed down then I was down with it!

Saline nasal spray
Allergies and colds are tough to fight when pregnant because of medication restrictions but saline nasal spray is the bomb! I am practically addicted to this non-habit forming over-the-counter “medicine”.  I kept it on hand to help irrigate my dry nose and clear out stuffed up nasal passages.  It also helped prevent those pesky nosebleeds.

Full-sized toothbrush and toothpaste
I quickly learned the small travel sized tube of toothpaste wasn’t going to cut it. If you are beyond just nausea and not able to hold in your most recent snack, you will need to freshen your breath multiple times a day so you can smile and interact with co-workers and the pharmacy tech that you will get to know well during this time. I picked up a regular sized toothbrush and toothpaste for my work bag and I don’t think my teeth have ever been so clean.

Stool softener
Lots of anti-nausea medicine and remedies equals lots of slowed down intestines.  Ain’t nobody got time for that! Pop a couple stool softeners each night and the problem is solved.

Favorite Bible Verse
In those moments of doubt and exhaustion, cling to the promises of God’s protection and presence.  This verse became one of my favorites and was my focus during the drawn out hours of labor (notice my half-smile as I try to walk in between contractions).
2 Timothy 1:7- For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and of a sound mind.  

Modified Expectations
Like many, I dreamed of a glamorous pregnancy full of nesting, prenatal exercise and floating around with an attractive baby-baking aura.  When the morning sickness didn’t let up and my energy was put into just making to work each day I had to come to grips with the realization that my previous expectations were not only silly but truly not necessary. In the end, both baby and I remained completely healthy throughout the pregnancy and now I have more joy and love than I could have ever imagined.  Postnatal amnesia is a real thing and I would seriously do it all again.  Look at this cutie- how could I think otherwise?

Thanks for the guest post Katie! You are so right that favorite bible verses are so essential in such a changing time in your life. My favorite verse throughout pregnancy (and a verse I lean on often) was Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. And that baby is just adorable!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Avocado Mango Salsa

I love anything with Avocado in it so I was excited to try this recipe by Skinnytaste. I made it when we had friends over for dinner and with a little one it was nice to chop up everything except the avocado and mango ahead of time. I doubled the recipe since we had 6 people and leftovers also tasted great the next day as a snack. When I doubled it, I only used 1.5 jalapenos instead of 2 and it was plenty of heat. I also use more avocado than the original recipe and I was really happy with how it turned out!

Avocado Mango Salsa
from Skinnytaste, serves 5


- 1 mango peeled and diced
- 2 avocados, peeled and diced
- 1 plum tomato, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and ground pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Serve with chips or use as a topping to a dish.

The creaminess of the avocado and mango balance the heat from the jalapeno and the flavor of the red onion nicely! I would definitely make this again. I love all the fresh ingredients it uses!

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