December 30, 2012

Overheard: before bed convo

Me: Do you know who Jenna Dewan-Tatum is?

J: (dead serious) Is that a facebook friend or a famous person?

{Sigh. Guess I should be glad the hubby has no clue who she is. Does he not read US weekly??}


And on Christmas Eve, it snowed. Sienna's first snowfall as we walked in from church. Perfection.

PS sparkly skirt with tulle overlay hiding under my jacket is from TARGET! Can you believe it?

December 29, 2012


I spent the first Christmas of my little girl sick in bed. Stomach flu hit me so hard and kept me down a few days.

Just as I got back on my feet, J took a leap to the sick side.

S is also under the weather.

So we packed up our gear, and hightailed it out of family time to save the others from our fate.

Two days of hibernation in our (completely lysol cleaned) home and we are finally getting back to normal.

Chicken and rice in this house for dinner. Plain Jane but safe. That's our style right now.

Christmas updates and photos of S soon!


December 18, 2012

New Life

Today in facebook/blog world three of my friends posted that they had their babies (you know, of the 17, or 18, or however many I know who are pregnant).

After a terribly somber week and feeling like my heart was constantly heavy, I felt pure joy in seeing those sweet newborn pictures and knowing that some of my friends are getting the best gift of all this christmas. I felt a bittersweet wave of emotion sweep over me, knowing they will be in the thick of the indescribable love and of course fatigue that comes with a sweet little bundle. There is so much love in the world and new babies are the best reminder of all.

Welcome to parenthood, friends!

PS An especially big congrats to one of my fav fellow bloggers, Sarah (+Lee). Baby Morgan is gorgeous... and we know I'm quite partial to the name too!

December 16, 2012

For Connecticut, you have my heart.

{In honor of Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, Alliso}

My heart hurts this Sunday evening. We were ironically en route to Connecticut this weekend when we heard the horrible news. I am glad we weren't near a computer when tragedy struck on Friday. I fear I would have been too quick with my words, not careful enough with my thoughts. I write this post not as a professional, not as a political activist (though I can't fight the thoughts that come with those identities of mine- I'll save them for another time), but as a mom. And as the daughter of a teacher.

The cheeks of the nation are tear stained and I know I am not alone in being a parent who envisioned what it was like to get the news that your sweet child has been killed. I know I am not alone in my sheer horror, sadness, anger, and fear. I know I am not alone in my wishes that this was just a bad dream.  I know I am not alone in grasping to whatever I can that allows me to continue to believe I can protect my child in this world. And I know for sure, with most certainty, I am not alone in thanking God for my baby, for letting me have another day to hug her, another day to watch her grow.

This is not fair, not ever. No six year old should know the terror that accompanies that kind of death; no six year old survivor should have to carry this scary memory with them for their entire life. It's too young. They were just babies. Beautiful innocent babies. No teacher should have to throw themselves in the line of fire to protect their young and eager students, knowing it was their last moment but willing to do it to save their kids. But they do, they did.

So with that, I say...  My heart is broken and hurting and my soul is crying the tears of every parent across the country. I'm sending every thought and on my knees prayers and small pieces of hope to those families, to the parents and siblings who are suffering a loss that is unbearable and unthinkable. I am holding my sweet, sweet baby girl a little tighter this weekend and breathing in her babyness, with the extra reminder to be patient and kind as a parent- to treasure our moments.

Sending our love to you, Newtown, Connecticut. We surely cannot totally understand your pain, but you are not alone. We grieve with you.

Read more here:

December 13, 2012

Overheard: on our couch

Les Mis commercial comes on.

Me: have you ever seen les Mis?
J: No- what's it about anyway?
Me: Well it takes place... (insert 3 minute rambling explanation).
J: it means the miserable right?
Me: yeah.
J: Yep not interested.

We need a little christmas....

Christmas season is one of my favorite times. There's nothing like walking into my parents house and seeing the direct line to their freshly cut specifically chosen real Christmas tree, complete this year with only bells and felt ornaments on the bottom so the babies can touch them.

Of course, during our trip to visit my parents this weekend/beginning of this week while the hubs traveled, much time was spent picking pine needles off her hands. That's the thing about real trees- they shed. I am not fast enough or observant enough to do that 24.7.

So we decided that for this year, while S is on the move for REAL with her crawling, standing, cruising, we needed a plan. We put up our 4 foot tree in our bay window- and instead of letting her pull it down (which I am 99.9% would have happened- this baby is STRONG), we just hold her up to it and sit with her to see the ornaments and the lights. Good solution. We also nixed most of the low laying decor this year for the hanging and top of shelving items.

Our house is just so warm at Christmas. Even with a faux tree, the yankee candle white christmas smell fills the house and it feels perfect. S is mesmerized by it all and that's really the best part.  Here's a look at what we threw together this year.

Outside I went with simple. Red ornament wreath, greens, and gold bows.

Oh yes, the burlap-ish ribbon is my fav this year. Gold and greens are our "general theme" but there are reds and other Christmasy things included. These wreathes were $3 at AC Moore. Sold.

Note to self: put on the lights before taking photos next year! Womp Womp....

Speaking of burlap and twine, and other such things... these are our presents this year. A spin off of a pinterest project I saw... but all the presents have different wrapping paper, tied with some string I had in my craft supplies, and a big initial tag. I sort of love them.  Sienna has unwrapped (tore pieces of paper and threw them in the air) any gift I leave on the ground, so these are all placed up high as well now.

In sticking with our theme, here is our card holder this year. I had some of these mini clothes pins in the craft box, so I put them to use. I actually found them in the same bag as the paper for the gift tags. I love them! Props to those first few Christmas cards- we got them in early December. This is actually totally full now and another one is going to be placed on the other side of the doorway.

This is S' handprint at 9 months old. I mean, come on... Don't you just melt? But here's my advice for these things- don't do it yourself. Don't let your husband do it by himself. It seems simple but is a joint effort. S kept digging her fingers into this, creating more of a "I am destroying the city of ornament town" look instead of a cute first Christmas handprint. Thanks to my fantastic girlfriends Jen & Beth- this was a shower gift, you two were so on top of it!

So there we have it, Christmas simplicity in the Walls house this year.
Can't wait to see Sienna's face light up Christmas morning when tearing up wrapping paper and playing with boxes is not only allowed but enouraged.

Merry Merry!

December 12, 2012

true religion... and i'm not talking about God or Church.

This morning, I could put my designer jeans back on my body. Yes, it's been nine months. Yes, they are the stretchiest ones. But I'll take it. Hallelujah, Merry Christmas to me.

December 8, 2012

Pump It Up. The working BF Mama.

[If you're not a mom, mom to be, thinking about becoming a mom one day, or a person who likes knowing and learning really bizarre things, you can stop reading. For real. But if you are any of those people, this is for you. You may want this one day]

We are almost 10 months in over here. Into mamahood and into breastfeeding. And when you're a working mom, that comes with pumping...I am now confident that I know what I'm doing, that I can get enough milk to feed S, that I can stop being a milk nazi because our freezer is stashed. Now, if no one tells you about the difficulty of the early days of breastfeeding, then no one MINUS one person told you about pumping and the trials and tribulations. I've worked my ass off to make this work for S and for me, and not miss a beat at work. So far, so good. This post is long, beware, but if it helps one new mama know what to expect, it's worth it.

When S was 6 weeks old (SIX WEEKS- WAS I AN INSANE PERSON?!) I went back to work. Prior to that, around 3 weeks old, me and my trusty pump became friends. I got the Medela Pump in Style Advanced.

So here's a few things to start with. First of all, the settings are confusing. It says turn on and it will switch to "let down" mode after a few minutes unless you know you let down already and then just flip it. WHAT THE?! As a three week mom I had no clue what this meant. I had not been "feeling a let down". Just let the pump do it's thing is what I learned. But but but (!!!) unlike breastfeeding where you push through the pain in the first days, just turn the pump's setting down a bit if it hurts. Also, this bag looks infinitely cleaner than mine, which despite BEING cleaned weekly has milk spots on it now. A sign of it being very well loved.  But let's talk about how this working mom thing works, okay?
Pre-1. Before you go out on maternity leave, figure out where you will pump when you return and see if you can block some time to do so, about 20 minutes 3x/day if at all possible. After awhile I dropped to twice a day for 10 minutes.
1. Practice. I prepared before I went back to work. I practiced. I stashed milk. I had enough to get through three entire days of work before I went back. Let this be heard: As long as you stay about two days ahead (for the days you get stuck at work late and need extra), you will probably be fine. Also, practice giving baby a bottle. The world of BF pros will tell you not to give baby a bottle early in life as to not give babe nipple confusion, but I had six weeks- seriously I was nuts- so I had to introduce sooner than later. One of my SAHM friends actually gave a bottle by two weeks and her little dude is a nursing champ. Listen to your gut- and your baby.
2. Don't expect the first days to go well. The first day you go back to work and you are crying in your car on the way there, don't expect pumping to go easy or well. I got less milk than usual the first week back. I was stressed, I was tired. I learned quickly though, and settling into the routine took about two weeks or so. I did what people said too. I brought pictures of S (and my awesome work hung a framed one of her in the room along with the other babies of new mamas), I listened to music, I browsed the internet. I did not "concentrate" on pumping enough. Oh also, I felt horrible nausea the first month or so when I pumped. I think it was a mix of dehydration and hormones. It passed eventually. [Oh, by the way, some people swear by the hands free pumping bras but I just figured out a way to rig my own... so not worth the $$ to me]
3. But do arm yourself! Mother's milk tea (I downed this!), TONS of waterade (half water, half gatorade), granola bars. Fenugreek pills-6 per day if you do it right. Make sure to eat. Especially early on when I was pumping 3x/day, I had to majorly up my calories. I know ladies, sad face when you want to lose those baby lbs, but worth it if you are commited to bf (and I was/am). I have a huge cup at work and a CASE of granola bars in my car so I can grab one on my way in each morning.
4.  Have the supplies you need. I thought I'd use those medela tubes to freeze milk, but they are bulky and harder to fit in the freezer. I quickly switched to milk freezer bags. I've used Medela, Nuk, and Lansinoh. To be honest, I don't think it matters and now buy what's on sale. Anything we've defrosted has been good, so I assume they all do their double duty (two ziplocks) job.

What else? Let's see I usually just pump directly into the medela bottles with the screw on caps. I carry a small cooler (that came with my pump), a freezer pack, and throw the bottles in there once I'm finished.  Oh also I combine the two bottles from each pump. Easier to carry. And, I have two sets of pump parts as well. Totally helps for washing each every night and having a second set ready to go! I suggest just getting this Medela accessory kit, which gives you the extras you need PLUS the quick clean microwave bags I'll mention in my cleaning routine.
I have extra medela bottle caps, too.
There are a lot more "things" I have, but for actually taking to the office with me, the medela bottles and caps, the bags in case you need extra storage, and the little medela freezer bag are all I really stash in my pumping bag (oh and the food and water too).

5. Have an easy routine. In the early days, exhaustion followed me into the house. And usually the number one thing I did was nurse. But after that, I put away my milk. If I was going to use it the next day, I just popped the bottles into the fridge. Our nanny/mymom/Jamie was able to just take it out, and put the whole bottle in warm water to heat it. They just had to pour into the bottles when S was ready to eat.
If it was a Friday (or these days when I work part time) and the milk wouldn't be used for a few days, into the Lansinoh Freezer Milk Storage Bags it goes. I date the bags and put the number of ounces first. Then I open the bags and put the entire top of the medela bottle into it to pour so I don't lose any. Because let's be honest, this stuff is LIQUID GOLD. J and my mom can attest to the fact that if you spill it I become a fire breathing dragon with spikes on it that could take out a whole town. IT'S THAT IMPORTANT to me.
Bags go in the freezer, oldest in the front, newest in the back.

Once I store the milk, I clean my pump parts and the bottles. Like I said before, I highly recommend two sets of pump parts (besides the tubing, just one set of those). It makes life easier. So right after I put my milk away, I rinse my pump parts and bottles with water and dish soap (just rinse, not wash well).

Then I toss all the parts into a medela steam clean bag. Add two ounces of water, microwave 90 seconds. Pour out extra water. Done. On days when our dishwasher is about to be run, I chose the "heavy" cycle and throw the bottles in there on santize.

After they are done, I toss them onto our Boon Grass drying rack. I suggest getting the lawn actually, it's a lot bigger. But ours works for this age since we are doing less bottles than in the newborn days.

Since I have two sets of pump parts (this is the third time I'm saying this... totally worth it) I just leave these to try and grab the other set from the cabinet. I throw them,medela bottles,and caps in my pumping bag the night before.
In the morning, all I do is throw the ice pack and freezer pack into my bag. Voila. Sounds like a ton of work, but total this routine takes under 10 minutes (I can usually put S in her high chair while doing this. When she was younger I asked my mom or the nanny to stick around for "just 5 minutes" allll the time so I could do this).
6. Organization. We have an entire shelf in our cabinet for my breastfeeding/pumping stuff. It is now a little out of control that we have so many bottles, caps, pump parts, etc. But it makes life easy because I know where to find things and am never searching for them.

There's the bowl of caps. Next to it is a mini tupperware container that holds pacifiers. We barely ever give them to S anymore, but in the first few months, these were a total key player, so they got their own home. I reach up, grab what I need, and we are good to go.
7. A word on freezer storage. First of all, print this out. It's Kelly Mom's guidelines on breastmilk storage and is super helpful. I was given a magnet of this at thehospital too. So... we do a few things to ensure my milk stays frozen and good. Our freezer goes below zero- and I often set it below zero. Sure, it takes longer to defrost other foods-but my milk is solid. We have lost our power for 24 hours and not had a single bit of milk start to melt. So you can store at that temp for up to a year- but we've tried to stick to the 6 month rule since technically we do open and close the freezer for other things. We keep it in the back of the freezer and in a separate area from everything else.
That being said, last week I think J gave S some milk from May (oh hello, 7 month old milk) and it smelled fine, she ate it, and she is totally fine. I guess you can be flexible.  I mean, at this point, it's either use it or lose it anyway I think.
I lost count awhile ago of how many ounces are in there, but as you can see there is some from dates like May 9. Oops. I may have been to stringent on milk collection in thebeginning,but I am quite confident now we will make it to a year of breastfeeding, which has always been my goal for little S.

8. Extra things- bottles and manual pumps.  We see tommee tippee bottles. They are the only ones that S really likes. But our niece loved the Comotomo natural bottle. And a lot of our friends also like the Playtex Drop Ins. It's worth it to try a few if baby doesn't seem to like one.

Also, I highly recommend getting a manual pump. I bought this Medela Harmony. It saved my life many days at 2 am after nursing S and still being full. I'd pump a few more ounces and throw in the fridge quickly in order to bulk up my stash. It was also great for things like pumping while playing with the baby post work, or on days when we were in the car and I didn't want to lug my big pump but knew S may nap through nursing time on a drive and we could give her a bottle when she woke up. I even pumped at three weddings with my manual pump. 

So here we are, two point five months away from the one-year goal we set for breastfeeding. To be honest, I love nursing S now. She cuddles and is sweet and wonderful. But if I could stop pumping tomorrow, I'd be the happiest woman on earth. So who knows what lies ahead for our nursing relationship, but for pumping...the countdown is on. 

P.S. Thus far, if I estimate how much time I have spent pumping over the past year it adds up to about 6,000-7,000 minutes, or 100 hours. That's just pumping and not breastfeeding! That is about two and a half weeks of full time work to get to where we are. I'll give myself a pat on the back for that.

Difficult, stressful and challenging? Yes. Time consuming? YES. But did it get easier everyday? Also a big resounding yes. Did I sometimes enjoy a 10 minute quiet break in my day to check facebook? Yes. And all this to say, it was worth every.single.second for my little one. And some days, some days I think... it is possible to work and be a mom and breastfeed. Go me.

December 3, 2012

adventures in mamahood

It's 9:02 pm.

I think I smell poop.

I'm having a brief moment where I'm hoping it was the cat and not the baby. The cat won't wake up at 1am crying to have a new diaper.


December 1, 2012

saturday night memoirs.

I was making Christmas presents this evening, going through the photos from this year... and oh my goodness...

I already forgot how tiny she was already.

I forgot how tired we looked.

I forgot how emotional it all was.

Oh Sienna, I love you more each day, and I gotta tell you, I totally love this whole sleeping 11-13 hour stretches.  But your littleness in these photos has me swooning. Sigh. New babies. Can't wait to get my hands on some of my friends' little ones on their way this winter/spring.

Happy Weekend Evening (on my couch, blogging, Christmas shopping, wouldn't have it any other way.... I'

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