My Breastfeeding Journey So Far

To the handful of guys who read my blog…  Well…  You might want to skip over this one.  HA, HA!)  Also, just to warn all of you, this is a long post.  🙂  


 

 

Breastfeeding…  For something that’s supposed to be so normal and natural, it sure isn’t easy.  At least not for me.  And knowing that, I faced breastfeeding Kaitlyn with a much different goal in mind than I had when I fed Brady.

Approaching my second breastfeeding journey, I decided that I would nurse for six weeks only.  This would provide Kaitlyn with the extremely important colostrum, as well as additional weeks of high-nutrient, germ fighting liquid gold.  (It’d also help me lose some of the baby weight, which was a win-win scenario).  After that point, I’d begin purchasing an organic formula, since I knew that nursing would prove to be even harder this time around.  And I didn’t want to take on more than I could chew.

HAHA, so accurate. #breastfeeding

Like her brother had, Kaitlyn latched on beautifully once I was in the C-section recovery room.  Also like her brother, she made finding a comfortable position for nursing difficult, since she was so large.  😉  Being almost 10 pounds herself, I struggled with being able to support her body and head while guiding her to feed.  My arms weren’t long or strong enough to hold that much newborn.  Ha, ha.  I knew from before that lying down would be the easiest position, so – after a few days of struggling to support her – we stuck to that position.

Because it was my second time around, my milk came in fast, which was a good thing because Kaitlyn was always hungry.  Her scrawny legs and arms filled in REALLY fast and continued to do so during the following weeks.  (My babies tend to eat a lot, but my breastmilk also has a high-fat content.  Sooooo, my big babies only get bigger).

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For two weeks, nursing was honestly the sweetest, easiest of experiences.  I told one friend that I now understood why some women love it, because it was the most precious of times.  I still had to lie down to feed her, but Kaitlyn was nursing well (although with each passing day, more and more milk was dribbling out of her mouth and onto the towel beneath us).  Still, I had a great milk supply.  She seemed happy.  And the moments that she nursed were just incredibly sweet and priceless.

Then week 2 hit.

Kaitlyn started to get fussier and fussier, crying a lot and refusing to be soothed no matter what we tried.  Nate and I started to talk about getting her checked by the specialist who had diagnosed (and treated) Brady for a lip and tongue tie.  By this point, I had pumped and introduced her to a bottle, and her latch wasn’t very strong at all. She also would easily fall off my nipple if I so much as moved.

The night after we called to make an appointment with the specialist, we ended up bringing her to the emergency room.  She had been screaming all afternoon, and Nate had placed her down onto the changing table when she suddenly stopped breathing.  She went from screaming to silent.  (Now we know that she was choking on reflux, but – in the moment – we had no idea what was going on).  It was terrifying!  We called my parents who rushed over within 8 minutes to watch Brady, so that we could rush her to the ER.

The next day, she was put on the same medication that Brady had once been on for acid reflux.  I also was encouraged to go on an allergy restricted diet; so I decided to give up all the main allergens:  Dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, and fish.  (I slowly brought back foods to test her reactions, and she was fine with fish.  But I ended up having to give up Dairy, soy, and nuts for months.  I now can eat nuts and eggs, but she still won’t tolerate dairy and soy).

Jumping on a restricted diet was a bit easier this time around, since I knew what to expect.  (Also, it had been particularly tough last time, because the diet started on Christmas Eve.  That was a rough day, realizing that I wouldn’t get to eat any of my favorite foods.  AND we missed out on the family party, because Brady was screaming so badly).  So needless to say, the jump to a restrictive diet was much less traumatic with Kaitlyn.

That being said, I had a few days of what felt like near-starvation before my sister helped me come up with a bunch of food ideas!  When you’re a nursing mom, you’re hungry all the time.  So having to avoid so many food options is not only hard… it’s can be an emotional blow.  (I never would have thought I’d cry over cheese, but I seriously missed pizza SO badly in the beginning).

A week after our trip to the ER, the dentist did confirm that Kaitlyn had a lip and tongue tie; so she had a procedure done to fix both.  Her nursing improved almost immediately!  That fix, along with the reflux medicine and my restricted diet, resulted in incredible changes.  I’ve honestly never met a happier, more giggly baby.

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Now you might be wondering where along the way my six week goal turned to six months.  😉  And the answer is an easy one…  My baby girl is thriving on breastmilk. On the other hand, she has a diary intolerance that has been confirmed by testing at the doctor’s office.  When Kaitlyn was four months old, our pediatrician warned me that special, dairy-free formulas can be very expensive and rather gross tasting for the babies. She encouraged me to push forward as long as I possibly can for the best of my child.

I honestly couldn’t care less about the cost of the formula.  But being told that my baby might not do as well on prescription formula?  That’s all I needed to hear.

Over the past month or so, Kaitlyn’s dairy intolerance has been lessening, I believe.  I’ve had one or two foods (very randomly) with dairy in them with no reaction from her.  I also occasionally supplement a couple of ounces of formula here or there when I need to.  (I read that formulas with hydrolyzed dairy proteins tend to be more easily digested by babies with intolerances, and – so far – Kaitlyn has done fine on a bit of Earth’s Best sensitive formula).

The reason for my needing to supplement at times is that pumping every 3-4 hours (in order to keep my milk supply up) wasn’t fitting into my lifestyle.  I have a almost three year old who is constantly on the move.  He was struggling with my always needing to nurse the baby or pump, and I decided that enough was enough.  Brady needed attention and time too.

I now breastfeed only at night and bottle feed during the day.  I pump only three times a day at 8am, 1pm, and 6pm.  I honestly pump just about enough for her bottles anyway, because – well – she doesn’t eat much during the day.  Ha, ha.  My baby girl is very clever and realized that mommy will nurse her at night (as apposed to feed her the bottle, which she isn’t a fan of).  Sooooo, she wakes up to eat almost every 2 hours (9pm, midnight, 2am, 4am, and 6am)… and then picks at her bottles during the day.

Haha! #somuchtruth I used to get so scared that I was going to pass out and drop our baby!

Yes, I am very much sleep-deprived, as I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in 6 months now.  (Because on top of waking up almost every two hours at night, I also have a toddler who usually wakes up once and needs to be put back to bed).  But I keep reminding myself that she is my last baby and that I will miss these breastfeeding moments.  (Don’t I sound so positive and upbeat here?  Trust me, I’m not always!  Sleep deprivation is no joke and is seriously a special form of torture).  🙂

We have added food into Kaitlyn’s diet now though, so she’ll automatically begin to drink less.  And maybe once she’s in her own room, she’ll automatically wake up less too.  But for now, these are the moments that will be too quickly gone.  So I really am doing my best to treasure them.

I’m continuing to take it one day at a time.  And honestly, there are good days and bad days.  I’m excited about how it has helped me lose weight (despite how much I’m eating ALL day).  I LOVE how chunky, beautiful, and healthy she is from her mama’s milk.  I treasure the way she peaks up into my eyes and then smiles while she’s drinking.  On the other hand, I wasn’t such a fan – at all – of mastitis (which is every bit as painful as they say it is).  There are days during which it’s hard to be on a restricted diet.  And pumping, even only three times a day, can be a lot of work when I’m also trying to care for a baby and a toddler.

Still, we’re marching forward!

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That’s my journey so far…  Stay tuned for the conclusion in the upcoming months.  🙂  I too am excited to see how it all ends!

 

 

 

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Sweater Weather

My family hosted its first ugly sweater contest last Christmas, and I have to say that the festive competition was a hilarious success.  We all got a good laugh out of it…  Someone won a prize.  It was all in good fun!

But now that I’m the mom to a toddler and a six month old, I’m not so eager to dive into the world of ugly sweater competitions.  Because here’s the thing…  I live in ugly sweaters!  I live in sweaters that have been pulled and tugged in ways they’ll never recover from.  In sweaters that have been puked on, pooped on, peed on, and stained with a variety of foods ranging from macaroni and cheese to ketchup.

I try my best to put time, energy, and thought into a couple of outfits a week for the sake of my poor husband.  (Although I draw the line at shaving my legs these days, because who has time for that)?  But most days I throw on whatever is clean and unwrinkled, which oftentimes results in a look that is less than attractive.  (Unless the Mombie Look is your thing, in which case I’m the runner up for Miss America).

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To be honest, sometimes I walk past a mirror and gasp in horror, realizing that I had stepped out in public like that.  So I decide to put effort into my outfit the following day and at least take the time to put on a hat so as to tame the runaway curls.  At least then I look a bit more like a frazzled mom than a homeless person.

Want to know what’s hilarious?  I actually get ‘hit on’ looking like this.  My wedding rings almost fit again, but they are still painfully tight.  So I haven’t been wearing them on my fingers quite yet.  And the crazies in the grocery store take notice apparently.  (One man even gave me his business card last week and told me to come see him at his restaurant, and he’d cook up a special meal just for me.  I must have been sporting the homeless look that day…).  Obviously these men don’t realize that I come with a baby…a toddler…two cats….and a husband.

Still though, I wonder if I’d still get a free meal if I walked into that chef’s restaurant with my entire family in tow?  Worth trying, right?!?

Anyway, ugly sweater contests.  I used to be a fan, but now I’m all like, “PLEASE!  Please let me have my excuse to dress up!”  I know that I’ll just be going to my parent’s house, conveniently located two miles up the street from my own home.  And the cozy kitchen and dining room will be filled with close aunts, uncles, and cousins; so there’s really no need for overly dressy attire.

But the holidays?  They’re like this wonderful excuse for moms to don sparkly tops, red lipstick, and dangly earrings.  Sure, the outfit will come with accessories like bouncing toddlers, squirmy babies, and a sprinkle of spitup here and there.  But we’re getting out of the house!  We’re having adult conversation (amidst helping little ones guide food into their mouths).

It’s fuel for a tired mommy who needs a little break from the usual routine.  And it’s exciting!

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Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner are the biggest events of the year.  Please, PLEASE, don’t take that away from me and ask me to wear an ugly outfit… for FUN.  I might not be dressed fancy or in anything new, but I am going to try my absolute best to look put together and pretty.  (And then if I do pull that off, please, someone take a ton of pictures).  HA!

Want to know what is fun though?  Trying on those larger-than-life outfits in the store that – when you walk by – you can’t help but ask, “For what event could you possibly need a feathery jacket that looks like an ostrich?”

Because as much as I love the excuse to get dressed up for the holidays, I also love an excuse to not be too serious and to laugh at myself a little.  We all need that, but we moms especially need that reminder to have fun.  We spend so much time keeping everyone alive that sometimes we forget to live a little.

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A favorite tradition that my friend Liz and I have is to try on a few over-the-top (or ridiculous) outfits to see if we (or anyone) could pull them off.  We usually only do it once a year, because – well – that’s the way it happens.  But we’ve decided that it should be a seasonal thing, so expect a fashion blog in January that captures all the hot (and crazy) fashions of the upcoming season.  😉

I might not be sporting an ugly sweater this upcoming Christmas.  But man, it was sure fun trying some on with my best friend last night.  We laughed, we shared, and we tried on clothes that we’ll absolutely never have any excuse to buy or wear.

It was that refueling that I so desperately needed.

And it doesn’t get much better than that.  🙂

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Oh but don’t worry, we didn’t leave the store empty handed.  We raided the clearance rack, and I found a $7 sundress!  (Liz found something too).  So yes, the evening was a success!  🙂

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Six Month Postpartum Update

It’s only been about five months since my last postpartum blog post…  So, you know, I guess I’m due!  🙂

 

Months Postpartum –    I am now 6 months postpartum, which is kind of hard for me to accept, to be honest.  Baby girl Kaitlyn is officially half a year old!!   Time has flown by at speeds that I can’t even fathom, and I kind of want them to slow down.
Honestly, Kaitlyn is just now reaching the MOST adorable, fun stage though.  She has the sweetest of giggles and a smile that can brighten any room.  And she loves sitting and playing with her toys (something her rough-and-tumble brother never paused long enough to do).
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Exercise –   I don’t yet have a specific exercise routine that I follow.  I honestly haven’t touched my treadmill or laced up my running shoes.  I feel as though my body is still, in many ways, recovering.  And while I’ll know when I’m ready, I feel that I need to be much less exhausted before I put myself through anything too high-impact.  (Kaitlyn still wakes up every 2 1/2 hours overnight to nurse for a good 15 minutes each time.  And on top of that, Brady usually wakes up once… and then wakes up early).  So for now, I’ve been going on a lot of walks around town with the kiddo’s.  I haven’t been really consistent about it, but I do go a few times a week.

And let’s face it, just being a mom is a workout!

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Exercise Goals –  I do need to work on toning my body, so I would like to start a specific walking routine(which will eventually lead up to a jogging routine again). So maybe my upcoming goal will be to walk 2 miles, 4 times a week. That seems manageable!

Food Goals –  I’m still nursing (although I pump during the day and only breastfeed at night), so basically:  EAT ALL THE FOOD!  I still eat all day, every day.  I try to reach for healthy options whenever possible, but coconut icecream still finds its way into my mouth at least three times a week. Ha, ha.  And I love chocolate and bread too much.  But there will be time later on to lose the last ten pounds.  Right now, I’m basically still eating for two, so I’m eating whenever I feel hungry… and that’s a LOT!

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Weight Loss – I can’t remember exactly when I reached the goal, BUT I am happily at my postpartum weight for this pregnancy.  I honestly haven’t been this confident about my body in a long time.  My clothes fit wayyyyy better than they have in awhile!

I still have about ten pounds left to lose if I’m to reach my pre-pregnancy weight from Brady’s pregnancy, but I’m not worried about it. I’m not dieting.  If my body decides to get there, then great!  But if not, I’m honestly pretty happy where I am.  I just really need to work on toning.

Body Changes – So like I said, I’m lighter than I’ve been in awhile, and I feel great.  That being said, pregnancy did change my body in ways that I’m still learning to embrace.  I mean, with clothes on, I feel great.  Ha, ha!  But I’m 34 years old…  I’ve had two C-sections…  I carried two VERY large babies (10 1/2 pounds and 9 1/2 pounds)…  I had too much amniotic fluid both pregnancies…

Basically my stomach was stretched in ways that my mid-thirties body doesn’t want to recover from.  I can tell that I’m going to have extra, wrinkly skin on my stomach forever (unless my body decides to suddenly bounce back once I begin working out more diligently).  So we’ll see how that goes, although I’m not holding my breath.  😉

BUT I have decided that if this is the body I’m left with, that I will learn to love it.  And that I will learn to be proud of it.  I will NOT make excuses for it, feel embarrassed about it, or demean myself over it.  My stretch marks and wrinkled, stretched skin exists; because I brought two beautiful babies into this world.  And so I will carry these marks and scars like trophies!

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My most frustrating struggle is my hair!  Thanks to postpartum hormones, my hair is falling out in CHUNKS, just like it did after Brady was born.  And it feels as though I’m going bald.  Ha, ha.  I know that it’ll grow back though, so I’m hanging in there and wearing a lot of hats and ponytales.  😉

Final Thoughts – I am sooooo excited for the holidays.  🙂

 

Hearth and Hand comes to Target!

I say it all the time…  Nate is sure lucky that I refuse to spend money we don’t have and that it is a top priority for me to live within our means.  I say it to my sister when we’re out shopping together.  I say it to myself.

I even remind Nate of it sometimes.  😉

Because thanks to the arrival of Target and the creation of Pinterest, I often ache to transform my home into a wonderland of beautiful, cozy, warm, whimsical things.  Oh and clothes.  Wouldn’t it be fun to see my walk-in closet filled with an updated wardrobe every season?

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But you want to know what’s even nicer than that?  Not having credit card debt.  Watching our savings account grow (even if it is slowly).  Saving my pennies and handing over cash when buying the occasional, splurge purchase.  Budgeting carefully, because my true dream-come-true is only having to work part-time right now while my kiddo’s are little.

Still, as important as saving money is to me, I definitely feel the pull to spend money on things I don’t need sometimes.  More than once, I’ve let my arms fill up with things… only to bring my head out of the clouds and put everything back in its place.  But then, I have to tell Nate just how lucky he is!  Because putting that stuff back wasn’t easy, and I had been tempted to by it ALL.  So if I couldn’t buy those treasures, then I might as well get a pat on the back over it.  Ha, ha!!

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Sometimes I also remind myself of just how rich I really am.  I have a lovely home that’s warm and filled with love.  I have an incredible husband and two beautiful children who are healthy and happy.  And quite frankly, we all have it pretty good these days.  I mean, think back to those pioneer women who had dirt floors, washboards, and one good dress reserved for Sundays or weddings.  As a society, we really have let ourselves get a bit carried away when it comes to ‘things’.

We’ve let ourselves get swept away by a current that’s pulling us deeper and deeper into a lifestyle focused on outward appearance.  And stuff.  And the more stuff we have, the more stuff we need.

Balance.  That’s what it really comes down to, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with pretty things.  It’s just that we shouldn’t let ourselves get pulled into the lie that we need the latest designs and styles in order to achieve happiness or comfort.

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Oftentimes, less is more!  (It sure is cheaper).  🙂  And frankly, all that stuff can’t buy happiness.

That being said, I love Target just as much as the next woman.  😉  These days, getting out of the house without kids for a mom’s night out usually leads me there, because browsing the pretty things makes me feel happy.  And browsing doesn’t cost a penny!

I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was to find out that Joanna Gaines from the hit HGTV show Fixer Upper was bringing a line there.  Like it’s kind of sad just how excited I was.  But then again, I don’t get out much these days.  And I am obsessed with all things Joanna!

I actually never even knew about the show until this past May when I was in the hospital recovering from my C-section.  Fixer Upper was playing on repeat, and – while I cuddled my newborn and rested in the hospital bed – I watched Joanna transform houses into the most beautiful, cozy homes.  Her designing style is soooooo MY style (modern country), and I love her fun personality (and how she interacts with her husband).

The show just feels so warm and happy that I’ve been a huge fan of Joanna ever since.

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Her line opened this past Sunday, and you’d better believe that my sister and I were there to check it out!  🙂  The display itself was pretty impressive, contained in the outline of a house.  And upon stepping inside, we were met with all things cozy, warm, and Christmas.

Christmas ornaments.  Simple pottery.  Stockings.  Centerpieces.  Place settings.  Linen.  Cookie cutters.  Doll houses.  Chalkboards.

There was so much to see and to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over!

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One of the things I love most about her products are that they’re simple yet elegant.  You won’t feel as though you need to redo your entire kitchen just because you bought a new mug.  The pieces can be sprinkled into an existing space and effortlessly belong there.

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I had promised myself that I wouldn’t buy anything, but I was ‘let off the hook’ so-to-speak when I saw that the stockings were only $13 each!  🙂  I needed to get one for Brady and Kaitlyn, but I’d yet to find the perfect ones.  I like that they have matching stockings now, although they each have their own color.  And how cute are those pom poms?

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These days, I’m all about focusing on what really matters in life and not obsessing about having a perfectly decorated house or gorgeous wardrobe.  Because let’s face it, I’m the mom to two…  It’s going to be a long time before I have that in my life.  Ha, ha.

But I still love my trips to Target.  AND I’m definitely in love with Joanna Gaine’s new Hearth and Hand line.  I can’t wait to see what she designs next.  🙂

 

 

 

 

Our First Date in Months!

I’d be the first to shout from the rooftops that it is soooooo important for married couples to make date night a priority once babies arrive.  Let’s face it, children are very good at five things.  Eating, pooping, crying, sleeping… and devouring every single spare moment of your day.

 

Of course, I honestly wouldn’t want them to devour anyone else’s day, because I love my babies more than anything else.

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Despite the rough start we had, I feel as though I’m getting the hang of being the mom to two; and I’m starting to have fun again.  (It took all of six months, but we’re getting there).  🙂  Kaitlyn is probably one of the  happiest babies I have ever met.  She laughs herself to sleep almost every night and dutifully takes her two naps every day (something that Brady never did).  And Brady is learning to entertain himself a bit better, although I’m also learning how to incorporate him into helping me with the chores, cooking, and cleaning.

And oh my goodness, he is going to be SO much fun this holiday season,; and I just can’t wait for it all to begin.

I also realized, just yesterday, that even though my day had been slightly chaotic, it had fallen into a pattern that we’re creating for ourselves.  We’re slowly building a routine that I can count on.  (Granted, when kids are involved, you have to allow yourself to change things up at a moments notice.  After all, it’s not as though meltdowns, blow-outs, or skinned knees are planned in advance).  My Type-A personality is relieved that there is a bit of a routine forming now though.

Yes, it’s just a bit.  But, hey, I’ll take it!!

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But I’d say that every single day has at least one rough patch or two…  (Some days have more than others).  I mean, there’s a teething and colicky baby involved, after all.  And Brady is incredibly strong-willed and energetic, which always keeps things interesting to say the least.  😉  (Case in point, earlier in the month, Brady got ahold of a pair of scissors and decided to attempt cutting our cat’s tale off.  The kid isn’t even three and – in his innocence – was merely trying to give our poor feline a hair cut.  He had no idea that the cut would be dangerous and painful to an animal.  To him, the tale was nothing more than a fuzzy string in need of trimming.  But the end result was our cat nearly losing his tale, almost bleeding to death, having to spend the night in an animal hospital, and also needing to wear a cone of shame for weeks).

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I can’t make this stuff up, my friends.  My life is anything but boring.  And sometimes, it’s the furthest thing from fun.

At the end of every day, after waking up so often during the night and waking up so early in the morning (or after surviving such moments of insanity), it can be ridiculously difficult to invest in one’s marriage.     To make sure that our relationship comes first.

Nate had very little time off after my C-section…  And only two months into my postpartum life, he had to work as many charter shifts as possible to help us financially.  Him leaving around 6am a few days a week and not getting home until 10pm was hard.  Like really hard.  And when I added a long workday myself and then a church Bible study once a week, we were becoming strangers passing in the night.  We had only two nights a week where we actually sat down to eat dinner as a family.

And by the time bedtime arrived, we fell into bed exhausted to do it all again tomorrow.

It’s during those stretched times (especially when the kids are acting up and maybe struggling with adjustments themselves) that it’s easy to close up a bit.  It’s easy to fight or to – maybe even most dangerously – fall into a pattern that leaves you just going through the motions.

When exhaustion and frustration and even moments of “I don’t have an ounce of patience left” hits, it’s hard to remember that you’re best friends.  And soulmates.  And lovers.  Really, sometimes it feels like you’re roommates trying to survive the loud, ever-demanding occupants who share your home.

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Spoiler note…  It DOES get easier!  🙂  The rough patches are just phases as long as you remain dedicated and are committed to loving each other through it all.  You need to make time for each other as much as you can.  You need to make sure your relationship is nurtured and cherished.  But I promise you that it does get easier as everyone adjusts (and as the kids get a bit older).

It’s just really tough in the beginning, especially when you don’t get out much.

I was beyond excited to finally go on a date with Nate after four weeks of cancellations.  Goodness, it had been over 6 months since our last date.  Six months, you guys.  That’s half of a year!!!   (It’s a really good thing that Nate and I don’t need dates in order to feel strong and loved in our marriage).  🙂

Still, we were in desperate need of some alone time, for sure; and the date was just what we needed.  My mom watched the kiddos, so that he and I could enjoy a movie and dinner.

You want to know what else was amazing?  Eating a delicious dinner that I didn’t have to prep, cook, or clean up after.  Ha, ha.  Breastfeeding mom struggles…  I totally ate the entire burger and basket of fries and yet still was hungry just a couple of hours later.  It was soooooo good!

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Saturday was refreshing.  And I can’t wait for our next afternoon out together (hopefully before another six months goes by)!  🙂  But that being said, I’m blessed to be with a man who stands by me and loves me, even when our date nights are few and far between right now.

Getting out on a date can be hard, especially when there’s a baby in the picture.  What’s one way that you make spending time with your spouse a priority amidst your busy life?  

 

Favorite Dairy-and-Soy- Free Food Options!

I’m hitting ‘publish blog’ right now, even though it’s technically still Sunday.  But I thought this would make for a good Mommy Monday post!  🙂   I’ve been on a dairy, egg, soy, and nut free diet for months now (although I recently was able to add back eggs and nuts), because of my baby girl’s food intolerances.  This is my second rodeo, as I also had to do it while breastfeeding Brady.  So it was much easier this time around!  And I thought I’d share some of my favorite dairy free and soy free food options with all of you, in case it might help another mom out.

Some of these foods I find at my local grocery store, which honestly has a GREAT selection.  But I also stock up from Target, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s.  (Or sometimes I’ll order options online).


 

Dairy Options – 

So Delicious makes a delicious creamer, so I’m always stocked with this.

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For my cereal, I originally tried coconut milk, but I honestly gagged at the thicker texture and the flavor too.  I just wasn’t a fan.  And I have a husband with a severe nut allergy, so I don’t buy almond milk (not to mention the fact that nuts bothered baby girl’s stomach in the beginning).

So for my cereal, I use rice milk.  It is the texture of water, and the flavor takes a bit of getting used to.  😉  But I usually buy the vanilla flavor, and – after a few weeks – I forget that it was a bit strange at first.  It’s an option worth trying if you’re stuck!

Rice Dream Organic Rice Drink Enriched Original, 64.0 FL OZ

I do like chocolate coconut milk though.

So Delicious Dairy Free Chocolate Coconut Milk Beverage, 32 oz  (Pack of 12)



 

Mayonnaise –   Just Mayo makes THE best vegan mayonnaise, in my opinion.  It’s so good that even the hubby and toddler will eat it without any complaints.

I also love the garlic and chipotle flavors!  The garlic mayo is awesome for making chicken salad sandwiches.  And the chipotle mayo is absolutely delicious to create a chicken, bacon, and avocado sandwich.

(I believe Amazon sells them even if your grocery store doesn’t).   🙂

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Dressing – Litehouse Thousand Island Dressing uses canola oil instead of soybean like most dressings, so it’s soy free.  AND there’s no dairy!  So it’s been my go-to dressing these days, as its delicious.


 

Enjoy Life – I am a huge fan of Enjoy Life foods, because I have a huge chocolate addiction.  Ha, ha.

Their baking chocolate is a staple at my house, but I also love their candy bars too.  Soooooo good!


 


 

Sweets –   (Because a nursing mom needs her sweets!)

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Butter –   Earth Balance butter has a delicious soy AND dairy free option.  It’s great for everything from buttering toast, to frying eggs, to baking.  I highly recommend it!

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Bread – Honestly, I use my bread machine ALL the time, and it has saved me so many times.  I use this recipe (and I substitute rice milk for the powdered milk and vegan butter for the butter).  It’s chewy, crusty, and delicious!

I also love Trader Joe’s Tuscan Pane bread for a sandwich or toast option.

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Snacks – 

Pretzels with peanut butter

 

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Coconut yogurt takes awhile to get used to; but until your taste buds are accustomed to the new flavor, it does make for delicious smoothies.  I also love it topped with granola!

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These fig and raspberry bars are soooooooo GOOD!

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Boom Chicka Pop - Whole Grain Snack Idea

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Quick Dinner Items – 

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Image result for amy's cheeseless pizza

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Favorite Recipes and Substitutions – 

  •   You can use crushed wheat thins in place of bread crumbs when making meat loaf or meatballs.  (Most bread crumbs contain dairy and soy).
  • If you’re craving a homemade chicken pot pie, you can use this recipe from Pilsbury.  Just substitute vegan butter and coconut creamer for the milk.  Top it off with homemade biscuits made with crisco and coconut creamer.  It’s SO good that no one will know it’s dairy free!
  • Place chicken drumsticks in the crockpot and smother with BBQ sauce.  Cook on High for 3 hours, and you’ll have easy-peasy BBQ chicken.  This is great for BBQ chicken sandwiches, BBQ chicken salads, or BBQ chicken to be served with potatoes and veggies.
  • Taco’s served in butter lettuce.  Lettuce wraps are soooo delicious… and naturally dairy and soy free, of course.  🙂
  • Top burgers with guacamole.  It’s a great replacement for cheese!   I’ve yet to find a dairy and soy free hamburger bun option though, so I use bread for my burgers and call it a burger melt.

 

Roasted Veggies and Sausage

Paleo Chop & Drop Roasted Veggies & Sausage Recipe

Baked Pork Chops

Snobby Joes (a vegetarian take on Sloppy Joes.  I serve on toasted bread, since I can’t do hamburger buns right now).

 

Avocado Toast

Avocado Toast: 5 Ways - Vegan + Gluten-Free #healthy #avocado #recipes

 

Pumpkin Ginger Cookies

pumpkin-cookies



 

Well, these are a few of my faves.  If you have any questions or want any specific suggestions, let me know; and I’d be happy to help if I can!  🙂

 

 

October Ipsy Bag Review

This Ipsy bag was one of my favorites!

The crimson lace bag was oh-so-pretty and perfect for October.

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Urban Decay
24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion – (Retail – $20)

This eyeliner is supposed to be perfect for blending and a smoky eye affect, but – to be honest – the only blending I did was when I accidentally fell asleep one night without taking off my makeup.  Ha!!  That being said, I loved how crisp the lines were when applied.  (I personally don’t use the cat-eye affect, but I have a feeling that this pencil would be perfect for it).  It applied smoothly and easily, lasted all day, and it was bold.  (Perfect for a date night out or the holidays).

I’m really picky about eyeliner pencils, and this one passed the Nicole test.  I loved it!


 

Sol de Janeiro
Brazilian Bum Bum Cream –  (Retail – $45)

I may have laughed when I saw this product, because I’m a mom.  Was Ispy seriously sending me butt paste… for moms?  Ha, ha!  To be honest, I haven’t tried it yet.  Again, I’m a mom.  Applying lotion hasn’t been high on my priorities list.

But Ipsy.com makes it sound worth trying…

  • It’s packed with Amazonian berry guaraná extract, whose fruit happens to contain one of the most potent forms of caffeine in the world. (Like, 5 times more caffeine than coffee. #nbd.) The buzz-factor makes it seriously awesome for helping with skin-tightening and cellulite-reducing.
  • It smells SO good. The amazing pistachio caramel scent is fragrant enough to make people ask “OMG what perfume are you wearing?” without being overpowering.



MEECH AND MIA
Loose Eyeshadow in Purple or Beige –   (Retail – $11.50)

loved this eyeshadow in purple!  It’s a beautiful color for this time of year (shimmery and slightly metallic) and when applied to the eyelid, creates a simple – yet elegant – smoky eye affect.  Very pretty!


Pretty Woman
Nail Polish in Wine With Ice, Garçon –   (Retail – $8)

I love, love, LOVE it when Ipsy sends me nail polish to try!!  Although I haven’t had the chance to try this one yet (oh, mom life), I can’t wait to. The purple shade is sooooo perfect for October!

According to Ipsy.com…

  • Fast drying, long-wearing, crack and chip-resistant. It’s literally everything we ask for in a nail polish.

 


IT Cosmetics
Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder –  (Retail – $29)

I really enjoyed this powder sample!  I used it to set my makeup, and it kept me shine free for most of the day.  It also seemed to smooth my skin and provide an air-brushed affect, as it claims to do.  It’s definitely a product that I’d try again in the future, as I loved how breathable and light it felt.

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Have you tried any of these products?  🙂