Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year in Review

See 2013 here

What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
I traveled to Arizona and California! We saw the Grand Canyon and lots of sights in San Diego! I became a stay-at-home Mom and I love it!  I also recently served as a Bridesmaid in my little brothers wedding!

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions? Will you make more in 2015?
I didn't make any, I usually make some version of a goal list on my birthday which is just 4 days after new years.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Last year (2013) was the year of the babies! I have lots of pregnant friends and acquaintances but no births that I can think of.

Did anyone close to you die?
We lost my Great Aunt Betty. She was my Grandfathers oldest sister, the Matriarch of my Dad's family.
A couple of weeks ago we also had to put down our dog Clyde. He was John's dog for several years before we got married, so he's been a part of my life as long as John has. A true fur baby. We will miss him very much.

What countries did you visit?
I did not leave the country (but we're planning a cruise for 2016!), but I visited New Mexico, Arizona and California. I know some people that consider Cali a foreign country, does that count? ;) 

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
To be debt free (again)!

What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory?
July 25, my brother Joshua's graduation from Marine Basic Training
November 12 - It's a secret... more on that later! ;)
December 27, my brother Jacob's wedding

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Having kept my daughter alive to see her first birthday? ;) Really I'm very proud of the various transitions I've gone through this year. At the very beginning of January I left my "professional" "big girl" job and took a part time less prominent role at another company (aka less days, hours and most importantly less stress!). Then after being with that company for 6 months I was laid-off which transitioned me beautifully to being a stay-at-home mom! I was also much better at trusting that God is in control and that He has a plan for my life! After losing my job with no notice, I was very calm and sure that God had a plan, we just had to wait. Sure enough Husband got a job promotion about a month later!

What was your biggest failure?
We went back into debt. Part of it was my job transitions, the change in money flow was a big part of that. Also the fact that from Cora's birth and subsequent NICU stay, we pay quite a hefty sum of medical debt each month that eats up pretty much all of our income that isn't assigned to other bills, so some months things like our gas or grocery bills simply had to be charged on credit. :(

Did you suffer illness or injury?
I can't think of any illness outside the usually sniffles and sneezes of allergy season (Praise the Lord!)!

What was the best thing you bought?
We didn't do much buying this year. Thinking back, I can only even recall two or three simple clothes shopping trips. I purchased jeans in a size I haven't been in since college! I would also consider our trip to California as a pretty big purchase, it was so worth it to see all of our Cali family and to watch Joshua graduate from MCRD! (it also took a year of saving to afford the trip!)

Whose behavior merited celebration?
I'm incredibly proud of Joshua and his service in the Marines. I'm constantly amazed and in awe of John as I watch him be a great father to Coralie! 

Where did most of your money go?
Medical debt, baby stuff, road trip to California. 

What did you get really excited about?
Stephanie (my sister-in-love) joining our family! It was fun celebrating all the associated wedding events and parties.
I really enjoyed celebrating Coralie's first birthday party!
Seeing Joshua in person after not seeing him for 13 long, hard weeks! 

What song will always remind you of 2014?
??? I can't even think of a song that came out this year. I'll look forward to reading everyone else's answer on this though!

Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder?
I'd like to think I'm happier! I fall even more in love with my little family every day! 

Thinner or fatter?
About the same, maybe a little thinner. 

Richer or poorer?
Poorer for sure, but richer in blessings!

What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I had been more intentional with seeing friends. I keep coming back to this year after year. I love my family, but it's hard to see friends sometimes and then when stuff is scheduled with friends sometimes family issues jump up and muddy that up.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Eating out! We didn't do a lot of this, but boy it is my least favorite way to spend money and it adds up quickly! 

How will you be spending Christmas?
Preparing for Jacob's wedding... just kidding... but really I'm sure there will be a fair amount of wedding that falls over into Christmas. My dad is hosting Christmas this year which really means I'm hosting at his house.

Did you fall in love in 2014?
One new love in particular, part of my secret that you'll have to wait for. I also grew deeper in love with Heavenly Father, my husband and my precious daughter!

How many one-night stands?
I looked back to last year to see how I answered it then (no, no adultery here...)
So to quote last year, the same answer applies this year "bahaha... no"

Who were your best friends?
Lauren, Tiffany, Kimmi, Kim and Angela

What thing did you do that was meaningful to others?
I honestly hope that I do many things throughout the year that are meaningful to others, we pass along hand-me-down clothes to several families as a pass-it-forward gesture because we received so many hand-me-downs for Cora. I serve at church with my time and talents. My dear friend Kimmi got married this past April, I hosted many events for her and her now husband, I hope that they blessed them in many ways.  

What were your favorite TV shows?
Well, we haven't had TV service since May so I haven't watched much network television. I have watched lots of Netflix and Amazon Prime though. Some of the shows I've binge watched through our streaming services - 19 Kids and Counting, The Unit, Lie To Me, Covert Affairs, The Good Wife, Blacklist, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, Call the Midwife, and Greys Anatomy. I've been hit or miss on trying to keep up with streaming some of my favorite network television shows by streaming after they're released, Greys Anatomy, Scandal, The Good Wife, Nashville, How to Get Away with Murder. I'm several episodes behind on all of these though.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is such a strong word, but yes, I strongly dislike a new couple of people. It's okay though, I don't have to deal with them often and I don't give them much thought.

What was the best book you read in 2014?
I have read woefully little this year. In April I went on a reading binge of sorts and read the rest of the Princess Diaries series that I hadn't read when I was a teenager. I kind of can't believe that those are the only books I've read this year, but I just double checked my Kindle and that's all I've read this year. I'll have to make that a point to do better in the future. 

What was your greatest musical discovery?
I think I've listened to less new music than I've read this year if that tells you anything...

What did you want and get?
To stay home with my daughter! It didn't come about as I would have liked, but God had a plan all along!

What did you want but did not get?
I can't think of anything... really I'm very happy and content with our life. I attempted to pull myself together to go back to graduate school but that didn't go as planned. It's still in the plans but won't be coming together in time for the spring semester either. I wish we had pulled it together to get moved into our "new" house sooner, but that was far more complicated than we envisioned. Really, all in all, none of those things are of much lasting consequence and nothing that can't be done in the future. 

What were your favorite films this year?
White House Down. If you've seen this movie (or even if you haven't...) you're probably thinking she liked that movie? because it's pretty awful. It was the funniest thing I've seen in forever! I've watched it three times this year and I laugh every time! I went to see a couple of movies in theaters, but nothing was so memorable or amazing that I can recall the specific movie right now, so that in and of itself really tells ya what you need to know about my movie watching this year. 

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 25 this past year. I honestly don't recall doing anything in particular. If I remember right, I think my Dad and brother Joshua joined John and I at On The Boarder for dinner. John got me flowers and dressed Coralie up in a cute homemade Birthday onesie.
 (The birthday onesie on the left, flowers on the right)

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I think I would be much more at ease about having become a stay-at-home mom if we had made the transition more gracefully without having gone back into debt. But, while renting the house we were living beyond our means once we added more than our car payment per month in medical bills to our financial really debt would have probably been a reality regardless of my working position (by me not working we were able to negotiate lower payments over more time). The stinking debt is really the only thing I look back over this year with remorse about.

What kept you sane?
God. Seriously, without Him I wouldn't have managed this year. Loosing my job, family stuff, renovating and moving into the old house, general parenting challenges. I relied on Him more than I have in a long time and I'm really wishing I had been better at this in the past, because I could have really used that extra dose of faith in years past!

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I kind of have a new obsession with the Duggar family (19 kids and Counting).

What political issue stirred you the most?
Well I'm very excited that the Republicans took majority in the November elections! If you didn't know, the majority with which they took the House and Senate is historic!
I don't really like how Obama handled the Immigration Executive Order, but there was precedent for him having signed it into law like that as it had been done before (by Republicans), I just think this is far more reaching. He also signed some environmental actions I'm less than pleased about.
I guess my biggest grievance is the military spending cuts. Overall though, it hasn't been a political year I look back on and just fume over an issue.

Who do you miss?
I miss my friends. Ironic considering I certainly had friends to list as my closest friends etc but we didn't see our friends nearly as much as we did last year or the years before. Having a kiddo really does limit our free time (but I'll still take the kiddo any day!).
I also really miss Joshua being home! I never knew how much I appreciated having him around all the time until he was off doing the Marine thing. 

Who are the best new persons you met this year?
My new friend Angela has been a blessing! We met through blogging and she lives close enough that we're able to have play date walks at the park and we go to MOMs group at church together! My MOMs group has also been a great blessing! It's so nice to have these Godly women to connect with on a regular basis that are in similar walks of life!

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Trust God. No matter what. He's got this! 

Quote that sums up the year:
See above, really it should be my theme for 2014!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Bah Hum Bug

I have to confess that I am quite the Grinch this Christmas season. 

We've been living life since October 1 with one foot in our house and the other in my Dads.
This. Is. Exhausting.
I'm so appreciative of my Father for letting us stay with him but I can't tell you how happy I am that this weekend was for sure the last weekend we are staying at his house and that we'll be a fully functioning family in our own home again! 

I put up my Dad's Christmas tree just before Thanksgiving and then decorated it just after Turkey Day. And by decorated it I mean that I put beaded garland and poinsettias on it plus a hand full of ornaments. That's it, and that's all it's getting. It would take a ton of digging in the attic to find the child-proof ornaments and I just don't have it in me to do the digging through countless boxes while performing acrobatics on beams while I can't stand up more than half way. We haven't needed them in over 10 years, there's no telling where they are!

 That's as good as it's getting this year for my Dad's tree!

I really aught to pull my act together and do something, anything more towards decorating his house as he will be hosting Christmas this year. I just can't seem to bring myself to doing it. I'll just settle for having the house clean & ready for guests. I might even manage to cook a nice meal. You know one day before we're cooking for an army for a Rehearsal Dinner.

Our house looks like my bad attitude feels. We're 12 days out from Christmas as I write this and I simply refuse to drag all the Christmas Crap... yes Crap... out of storage to put it up just to take it down after we're exhausted from my brothers wedding just after Christmas. I bought this years Christmas ornaments (we buy one or two to represent each year or the things we did that year) and I proceeded to find the box of ornaments in storage only to put the new ornaments away for next year.
IF I do anything for our house it will be a Nativity set.

Our Christmas shopping was super simplified this year! This was more for the sake of our sanity as a family rather than my Grinch-like demeanor. The adults in my Dad's family haven't exchanged gifts in about 3 years. We just buy for the kids! We just spend Christmas enjoying each others company. This is the first year we're following suite with John's grandparents and parents. I'm so not complaining! 
This is the first year we've simplified shopping for our immediate family too. We usually buy for everyone in my family (Dad and 3 brothers) but this year we drew names. Our Christmas shopping list had 5 people on it. FIVE! This is awesome in my book!!

As far as friends go, I put the word out that we're doing handmade treats for gifts this year. I figured by telling people this is what we're doing I won't feel badly not exchanging store bought gifts. Last year with a new baby I really fell down on the job of shopping for gifts (particularly for friends) so I decided that this is just the way we're going to handle friend gifts from now on.

Normally I'm frenzied at this time of year with insane holiday to-do lists. I honestly don't have a single thing on my holiday to do list! I do however have a mile long list of stuff that has to be completed for my brothers wedding that is in 14 days.

With the final countdown to Christmas here I have a few things, really events, that I am looking forward to despite my bah hum bug attitude.
A Holiday Girls night with my Moms Group friends!
A scarf exchange party hosted by Lauren!
My soon-to-be sister-in-love bachelorette party!

I figure this is the last year I'm really going to get away with not putting up a tree or expressing Christmas Spirit with much enthusiasm so I'll take my opportunity & run with it. After this year Cora will start to be old enough to remember, or at least recognize that Mommy is a Grinch. 

I'm not really sure what's wrong with my Christmas Spirit. Maybe it was Josh leaving for Japan? All the wedding frenzy consuming the holiday? Our weird home situation? Regardless of the reason, my heart just isn't in the festive Christmas Spirit this year.

I'll leave you with a peek at the one festive thing I have managed this year - I took Cora to see Santa!
She was even in her Christmas shirt! This counts as a win in my book!
Although I will say my Grinch attitude shined through when I was far too happy with her wails in Santas lap! There's just something so classic about a crying child being held by Santa ;)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Our Weekend & Randoms

We had a great Thanksgiving and have been blessed with a lot of family time this past week!

John went to work Monday, was home sick Tuesday. I was afraid he had the flu, and he might have, but he had the flu shot so if it was the flu it was a lesser strain and he got over it quickly. Wednesday he knew not much would be going on in the office so he took off and we went and did some shopping for Christmas before heading home to start cooking for Thanksgiving. Part of what we were hunting for was a Thanksgiving outfit for Cora. I'd been hunting previously but I put it off too long so all we could find was a bib (that we paid too much for).
We kicked off Wednesday morning with a Thanksgiving Story Time at the library where Cora Mommy made an adorable paper turkey puppet.

Thanksgiving Day we went and celebrated with my Dad's family about an hour from home. It's always so nice to gather everyone together! We of course forgot the bib at home so once we got back home and had Cora Bug in her PJs I tried to snap a picture of her in the bib but she resisted (just way too tired to cooperate!).

Black Friday we slept in! Then we started the hunt for Cora's trampoline for Christmas, after three stores we finally found it. We headed home for John to do some house work/repairs and I got ready and headed off to Ennis for my soon to be sister-in-love's shower. John kept Cora and they had a Daddy-Daughter shopping trip to buy his Christmas gift for me (I think he may have gotten her ice cream while they were out too!).

The drive to Ennis was a bit of an epic disaster. I was driving Joshua's old standard truck, Jacob needed me to transport 4 huge pillars for wedding decorations to Ennis and it's the only vehicle we have they'd fit in. So it's already difficult enough driving a standard truck through Dallas traffic (I can do it, it just requires way more thought!) but to add to the trouble Robert had been driving the truck a couple of weeks ago and somehow managed to knock the passenger side mirror off the truck! So I had a load in the back giving me only partial use of my rear-view mirror and no right side mirror. Changing lanes was awful! I was already running late because I'd had a major brain fart and I totally forgot that the drive to their house is almost 2 hours, not 1. For some reason I had it in my head that it was a 1 hour 15 minute drive. I just didn't give myself enough drive time, like at all... Then in the middle of a series of exits to get from I35 to 45 my stupid phone decided to screw up and it just shut off! I exited and pulled off to mess with figuring out what the phones problem was because I couldn't drive, shift and mess with the stupid thing. I got it to come back on but couldn't get my GPS to pull back up at all or come up with a signal to make a call for directions. I literally drove around downtown Dallas until I saw a sign for 45, got on praying it was the right direction, took a small detour off onto I20 (no clue how I managed that...), but 2 hours and 30 minutes after I left Sanger I was so pleased to finally pull up at Stephanie's sisters house! I got there by memory after only having been there once! 

Saturday was a day of housework. John and Jacob spent all morning and the better part of the afternoon working at our house while I kept Cora at Dad's and worked on decorating his house for Christmas when I wasn't playing with Coralie.
Trying to decorate a kid proof tree has proven to be difficult. We aren't putting anything glass up this year, so I'm having to dig in the attic for our childhood ornaments and other child appropriate decorations. So far Cora has been very good about leaving the tree alone, probably the only thing she leaves alone at my Dad's house!

I intentionally cut the top of the tree off in the picture because our Angel is currently sideways on the tree and refuses to stand up!
Sunday was a regular Sunday for us. Church, lunch, a little shopping followed by a nap and family time.

What was eventful was that we got our first dirty looks in a store over what Cora was doing. She has recently learned that she can express her displeasure in something by being loud. She'll just say "Ahhhhhhh" loudly - like yelling. It's not shrill like a scream but it's plenty loud and obnoxious. She unfortunately does not understand "shhhh" or "inside voices" though we're actively trying to teach her. So, in the Target Christmas section when she was upset that I wouldn't let her drink from my cup from lunch she looked at us both and yelled at us. We were both working to shush her and deal with the situation (and honestly it could have been so much louder!) and this grumpy man and woman across from us stopped what they were doing to stare at us disapprovingly. I noticed them and continued working to shush her, but when I glanced up again to see that they were still glaring I stopped working with Cora (John continued shushing etc) and proceeded to glare them down. I mean seriously?!? She wasn't screaming and she's a baby! We were obviously trying to deal with the situation (and I refuse to spank for anything that she's learning or isn't willful disobedience) so my thought is if you can't help then back off! Ignore us and move on! It was our first incident of being a public nuisance in a store in 13 months so I consider that to be a win! And as for that couple, I really don't care, I know I was doing my job as a mom - I just get so frustrated with people sticking their noses where they don't belong. :)

How was your Thanksgiving?

How do you handle "incidents" in the store with kiddos?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Finish This! {Thanksgiving Edition}

Join us in the weekly link up! Also, it's just a few weeks until the Year In Review link up (Dec 31)! I participated last year and am already working on my post this year! You can get more info on this on Nicole's blog! 

My favorite Thanksgiving tradition`
My little family doesn't have any Thanksgiving traditions of our own yet, but I'm hoping to start one this year. I'm going to put something in the crock pot to have for breakfast (so it's easy!) and we're going to eat breakfast as a family while watching the Thanksgiving Day Parade! We've started making the effort that for the big holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) that we are home to start the day, we may travel to visit family later in the day but we begin in our own home. I think this will be a nice family centered way to start a day of Thanksgiving!
As far as existing traditions, really my family doesn't have any "traditions" per say, but I've always loved all the women in the family gathering in the kitchen preparing the meal for that day. One of my favorite pictures is my Mom, Aunt, Me and my Great Aunt all standing in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. (It's not handy or I would share it with you all!) I have so many memories of times in the kitchen with these strong women and good cooks dating back to when I had to be as young as 4 or 5 years old!

My most memorable Thanksgiving was
As a child we would (usually) gather at my Grandparents (Dad's parents) house for Thanksgiving. When my Grandparents were living there would be as many as 15 to 20 gathered for dinner. My Grandparents house was a big Turn of the Century house complete with old lead pipes for plumbing. Well, this particular Thanksgiving the sewage pipes under the house decided to break. As in break in half at several joints. Of course no stores were open (closed like they should be!) for us to go buy the necessary parts to repair these pipes. So, we all spent that Thanksgiving with the men under the house repairing pipes with duct tape and what odd pipes and parts my Granda and his friend Gene had around the house while the women prepared the meal. Then, the men went to Gene's house (just around the corner) to clean up and return to eat. We sat down, had a nice meal and then they went back at it, this time with the assistance of my Mom. It wasn't the most glamorous Thanksgiving, but you know what - it sure was memorable!

My favorite Thanksgiving food or dish
I don't just love turkey, infact I just tolerate it. This is the only time of year I eat it. I enjoy ham but don't just love it. I do love making my Granny's dressing, it tastes good, but honestly not any better or different than doctored up boxed stuffing. There's just something traditional and wonderful about preparing her dressing. I also prepare for tradition sake only a cranberry relish jello thing. I honestly despise the thing. The rest of my family likes it but it was my Granny's recipe and my mom took over preparing it years ago so it sticks around.
I’m so thankful
For my little family. For my larger extended family. For a roof over my head, it may be a leaky roof with problems but I really do get that we are very, very blessed compared to so many families. I'm so grateful for my brothers who are helpful and always willing to lend a hand, to family, friends and strangers the same. I'm thankful and so incredibly grateful for the men and women serving our great nation at home and abroad who are unable to be home with their families for this holiday. We will have an empty seat for Joshua, but it's just our first holiday without him. So many have an empty seat for so much longer than we do. 

Join us! LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Coralie's Christmas List

Last Christmas I really struggled with what to get Cora for Christmas because she was only 2 months old. I couldn't imagine getting her nothing, because it was her first Christmas but everything that Mommy & Daddy got her were essentials. 

This Christmas I'm so excited to shop for my girl, she's old enough to (sort of) open the gifts herself and participate in the holiday fun! We follow a modified version of Want, Need, Wear, Read. We add in Stocking because of course Santa will bring her wonderful stocking stuffers. Santa, we choose to do Santa with our family so he will bring her something fun! Pajamas, a family tradition from when I was growing up that we want to continue is that on Christmas Eve after Chruch and Dinner you get to open a gift and it will have cute winter/holiday pajamas that you wear that night. Homemade - this one is hit or miss. If during the year I have pulled myself together to make everyone a handmade something then great, they'll get a handmade gift, but I don't put too much pressure on myself for this one.
Without further ado,Coralie's Christmas List - 

Want - 
I have several things on this list so that when family asks for inspiration, I have ideas ready to go.

1. Cell Phone! Hopefully Coralie having her own will keep her paws off mine and Johns! :) 
2. Foam Floor Mats - She isn't quite old enough to use these yet, but I thought it would be nice to have them for when she is ready. It would also be a nice soft place for her to play in her play corner.
3. Trampoline - we've gone back and forth on this one. I'm nervous about her getting hurt but she loves jumping! She's about to outgrow her jumparoo so we thought this would be a nice transitional toy. I like that it's small enough it can be inside when it's cold or outdoors for nice weather!
4. Mega Blocks! She enjoys playing with her traditional blocks but also likes putting things together and taking them apart. I like the classic colors so they aren't so girly if she has a brother one day down the road. 

Need - 
Of course all of her needs are fully met, so this is more of a Mommy & Daddy want list right now - the Ergo! We borrowed a friends for the State Fair and loved it! John felt much more comfortable wearing her in it than in a wrap. I love that you can back wear with it (I don't feel comfortable back wrapping yet) and she's about to out-grow the Moby Wrap.
We purchased one from a friend, but it's this style

Wear - 
I saw this one day when I was buying wipes at Walmart. We usually don't buy any new clothing for Cora, she just can't get enough wear out of it to justify the price difference but this is just so cute and it's Christmas so we made an exception!

Read/Homemade - 
I don't have any pictures here - we have picked up a few fun board books for her recently. I also picked up the pannels of fabric at Hobby Lobby recently to make her a cloth Christmas book. I haven't made it yet, and it's not looking promising so that may get packed away to make next year. 

Santa Clause will be bringing little Miss a baby doll this year! We had a playdate at a friends house and she loved playing with the dolly. She picked it up and held it like a baby and patted it on the back. I knew then that she'd be getting a doll for Christmas. 
I like this particular doll because it's designed to go in the bathtub with her. I figure if it's okay for a bath, then it will be more durable and stand up to the gross that it will be exposed to by a toddler!

 I want to stay away from sugary foods, so we will keep with my Mom's tradition of fruit and nuts in the stocking along with a few fun toys. This year I want to start collecting some movies for Cora and I couldn't think of a cuter movie than Frozen. She doesn't sit and watch TV yet, but she will before too very long. I thought the bathtub crayons would be a new fun thing for her since she just recently starting "coloring".

What are you all getting for the children in your family?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Coralie - 13 months old

Weight/Height - Just the other day she was sitting on the bathroom scales while I was in the shower, I peeked out and she was coming in at just over 26 pounds!

Health - She's healthy as a horse! (where did this saying come from!?!)

Nicknames - "Pumpkin", "Cor-Cor", "Cora Bear", "Cora Bora" and most recently "Bulldog" because she scrunches her face and snorts through her nose when she isn't happy with what you're doing (like putting her in the car seat). John has also recently called her "Cora-lizzy" short for Cora Elizabeth.

A last minute Halloween trip to the Deli!

Teething - On the day of her birthday party she cut a 4th tooth (top). She hasn't had any more come in yet but she's certainly teething. She and my Dad have this system worked out, she takes his finger and puts it on the part of her gums that hurt, he rubs the gums and she babbles in appreciation (and doesn't bite him!). I think it's so funny that she goes to different people for different things, she knows who meets what need. She also loves chewing on her little gummy toothbrush to alleviate teething pain. This is great because she doesn't like teething rings/toys other than the occasional cube of ice in a mesh feeder. 

Clothing - She has a few 12 month outfits that fit (as in I can squeeze her in them, but probably aught to pack them away). Everything else is 12-18 months or 18 month clothes. Some of these are even tight! I was just tugging an 18 month shirt down that had ridden up on her belly and was thinking that I might have some 24 month winter shirts packed away we got in hand-me-downs that I need to pull out. I'm pretty sure that if she'll ever start walking for real (opposed to the occasional 3 steps to Mommy or Daddy) she'll loose some of her chunk and these clothes will fit properly again.

Diapers - She's about out of size 3 disposables but I'm making them last because we still have another box of them from a diaper shower! We haven't done cloth since we've been staying with my Dad, but we will absolutely be going back to that as soon as we're settled in. At this rate though, it'll probably be New Years before I break out the cloth diapers again. Her dirty diapers are also getting to be a bit much to handle (#nasty) so I won't lie, I don't look forward to dealing with that in cloth.

Eating - Nursing - Still nursing in the morning at night. She's hit or miss on nursing to go down for naps. Occasionally she wakes in the night and I nurse her back down but I'm really trying to stop that habit (because that's exactly what that is, a habit that needs to be broken!). She doesn't really nurse during the day and if she asks (and isn't sick, or teething etc to warrant needed additional nursing) I offer her sippy cup to her and really encourage that. Usually she's just misplaced it or I haven't gotten it back out of the refrigerator and she's just using me as a walking, talking beverage dispenser. Sometimes she's just really insistent on nursing and I don't ever turn her down if she repeatedly asks after I've offered alternatives.  

Beverages - she loves drinking from her straw sippy cup! She'll drink milk (cow milk and almond milk), water and occasionally watered down juice. This past month she has really learned how to use sippy cups other than the straw type and has gotten the coordination down to turn the cup up with her hands as she sucks! I'm excited because now she's using the collection of cups we bought and tried before finding that she would only drink from straw cups before! (On the way to Branson I also learned that cups with handles out to the side, she can turn enough to get the lid just enough off that she will spill milk everywhere!)
Solids - She eats everything we do! Meat has been her biggest area of growth this month! She loves chicken and tolerates hotdogs chopped up. She has recently started using a fork! She would grab mine off my plate after eating and was really fascinated with it, we kept finding where she was hiding forks for playing with later! She has figured out how to feed me with a fork and is working on the wrist movement to scoop/stab and get it to her own mouth. I will be picking up toddler forks for her tomorrow (but I doubt she will use it, she prefers what we use).

ZZzzzzZZZ Sleeping - This is the one area in parenting I feel like I'm really struggling. With getting ready to move, then moving and all the craziness there for a solid month (September) she would be at my Dad's house until really late 11 pm - 1 am.  A few nights even up until 2 or 3 am (the nights we were moving). Bedtime fell apart for us and she wasn't consistently going down to sleep for the night (though she'd napped quite a bit through the evening/night) until 1 am. I'm still paying for this... through October we progressively worked on backing up her bedtime but our lives were still pretty chaotic and she wasn't accustomed to sleeping at my dad's house. By the end of October, I got bedtime backed up to 9:30 - 10:00. Daylight Savings was a God-Send! Without much work on my part at all she's consistently going to sleep between 9 and 9:30 and sleeping until 8:30 or 9 in the mornings. I still want to back it up 30 minutes to an hour (bedtime routine starting at 8, in bed asleep by 8:30) but we've made huge progress! I worry that the holidays are going to mess things up, but I'm just going to have to be really strict about routine and consistency.
I also really dread getting sleep established in her own crib again, since October 1 she has been sleeping in bed with us, so we might start with the pack and play in our room, then transition back to the crib in her room. Ugh. I don't know. Where's the parenting manual on this???

Our Little Socialite - Play dates are more fun with Cora now that she is more interactive & alert. We go (almost) weekly to story time in our hometown and the neighboring Denton libraries. Twice a month to MOMs where she plays in nursery & she loves going to "Sunday School" at church.

Likes- Playing peek-a-boo with whatever she can find, has started enjoying being read to (as long as they're short books), playing with the Christmas decorations I have out, particularly the beaded garlands. 

Dislikes -Getting dressed... or undressed for that matter. Blowing her nose (which is still a work in progress) or me wiping her face.

New - She has some new words! "DID IT" she will exclaim after even the smallest acts of whatever she was trying to do; put a sock on her head, roll the ball, stand up on a difficult surface, get the lid off her sippy cup etc. She had been saying it for a while but she says it so quickly and without much ennunciation that we had trouble understanding here. She runs it together and you mostly recognize the 'D' and the 'T' and the middle is pretty smushed. She still says "Momma" and "Daddy", she has several other words and mini phrases like 'Did It' that we just haven't figured out yet what they are. She speaks Cora-ese very well! ;)

Fun things we did - 
~Coralie's First Birthday Party!
~Cora's first Trunk or Treat, ~Fall Festival and Halloween with Trick or Treating!
~Last minute trip to Branson, MO to visit Uncle Josh on special liberty 
~Uncle Joshua being home for a few days before leaving for Japan (he'll be gone for 2 years)
~Uncle Jacob's Senior Recital (trip to Marshall, TX)
Her shirt says "My Uncle is a Big Bad Marine"

Uncle Robert discovering the issues...
Goings on with Mommy & Daddy - We are still working on the house. We have managed to spend one whole night out there (before it got very unseasonably cold and we came back to my Dad's house... more because of water issues than cold). Speaking of those water issues... we needed to re-do one of the exterior walls siding. When we took the siding off we found a whole heap of plumbing problems. Water leaking into sheet rock, insulation etc. What was supposed to be a 3 or 4 hour project turned into gutting the wall, re-plumbing the entire kitchen (including washer/dryer), redoing sheet rock and insulation. It's not something I can do alone and everyone else works (and of course I have Cora and I can't really do that kind of work when I'm watching her...) so the project has been squeezed in where we can in addition to other on-going projects out there. It's literally taken the better part of 3 weeks for this to be completed.

Exciting Future- We're going this weekend to Georgetown to visit John's Grandparents for Thanksgiving. Of course Thanksgiving Day back home, I'm looking forward to starting some new traditions with our family. We'll spend Thanksgiving with my family, immediate and extended at my Aunt & Uncles house. Lots of fun Christmas preparations & events!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Finish This (week 46)

Join us in the weekly link up! Also, it's just a few weeks until the Year In Review link up (Dec 31)! I participated last year and am already working on my post this year! You can get more info on this on Nicole's blog!

If I could fly to any destination tomorrow, I’d go to
Hawaii. That's just off the top of my head, but it sounds nice, warm and inviting right about now! Besides I think that will always be the destination that got away. I don't know if we'll ever go but I'll probably always want to!

My best advice for travelling is
Well, I don't know that I have any generic travel advice, but traveling with kids - that I have advice for. Plan to make plenty of stops! Don't be in a hurry! If you are driving (or even if you're flying and are taking the car seat) get a Piddle Pad! This has saved my life many times and there have been several times I was kicking myself for not having it in the seat! It's a waterproof liner that the kiddo sits on to protect the seat from moisture, be it well... piddle... or milk, lemonade, poop, water, more milk just to name a few that it has saved me from and a few that I didn't have the liner in place to spare me.
Also take lots of toys and change them out. Cora doesn't have a singular favorite toy but loves many different ones. We would always take all the favorites plus a few that didn't get much use so she had a selection and we would rotate them out every little while to prevent boredom.

I (like / dislike) to travel because
I both like and dislike traveling. To a great degree I'm a homebody. Traveling can be a little anxiety inducing for me. I like seeing new places but by that very same token, I don't like being somewhere I haven't been before. An Oxymoron, I know. When we went to Galveston spur of the moment several years ago, it ended up being one of my favorite trips. When we first got there though I was all kinds of anxious and upset because I hadn't packed properly. I just kept dwelling on all the things I had at home that we could be using. When we were in New Orleans, we left right after having moved. We literally hadn't unpacked a thing except the clothes we packed for the trip. I had a big battle with anxiety over what was going on at home and whether or not the house, the dogs, the cat, the goats etc were all okay.

Planning seems to be key for me. I haven't had one of my panics while out of town in a long time (both of those incidents were back in 2011). I've been the one to pick out specific places and things to do while there. When we have down time, it's planned down time. I also do everything to make sure that stuff at home is in order before we go. Overall, I enjoy traveling and exploring new places, as long as my type A personality can control the situation!

Join us! LISA (COASTLINED), JEN (The Arizona Russums), BECKY (The Java Mama) and NICOLE (Three 31)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Branson, Vetrans Day Weekend

Last week my brother Joshua called (he's stationed in Missouri for school with the Marines) and he was trying to figure out how to get home for his 10 day leave. They haven't told them what time his graduation is (he's ask, they haven't scheduled it??), so he doesn't know what time he can leave base to be able to catch a flight. Not to mention that the cheapest flight (with military discount) we could come up with for him is over $300 and he wouldn't be able to buy the ticket until that day or maybe the day before with the crazy lack of information. (And he'll have to fly back to Missouri to catch a flight to Japan the week of Thanksgiving and Heaven knows how much that flight will cost!)

We looked at all our options and my Dad and I decided to drive to Missouri and take him a vehicle (that his kind Staff Sergent gave him special permission for) so he can drive home after graduation and give a few of his fellow Texans a lift home. I called Lauren and told her I couldn't make it to craft day :( and we packed our stuff and headed to see bubba!

I was in Saint Louis when I was in high school but that was really my only experience with Missouri. I loved Branson! We didn't go to any shows because Little Miss Coralie can't sit still and be quiet to save her life... but we enjoyed our time together and taking in the area! Which, if you haven't ever been - is beautiful!!

On Saturday after picking Joshua up from base, we checked out the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield. This Bass Pro is huge! We quickly discovered we didn't have the time the store deserved to dedicate to the stop that evening and made plans to return the next day.

Sunday we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast we headed off to a resort in Branson that was hosting the Vietnam War Wall Monument that travels all over the country. When I was really young I vaguely remember my mom taking us to see this on a rainy day in a neighboring town. I knew it wouldn't be a long stop, none of us knew any names to look for on the wall but we wanted to see the Monument.

After visiting the Monument we headed back to Springfield to spend the better part of the day at the Bass Pro Shop. We had a good time! We were there for about an hour before Cora and I went inside, she had fallen asleep and I didn't dare wake her up to just go inside, so we both took a nap in the van for a little bit.

After Bass Pro it was dinner time and we were hungry! We'd heard great things about Lamberts in Ozark (between Springfield and Branson) so we braved the line (we waited 40 minutes, a short wait by all accounts) and we're so glad we did! Their food was delicious and it was a fun experience for all of us. Lamberts is the home of the "throwed rolls" they throw rolls across the restraunt to serve them and there are rotating servers who bring around delicous sides to serve on paper towels at the table in addition to your meal and it's sides (fried okra, macaroni and tomatoes, potatoes and onions...). It was all so good! We took more than half our food home and worked on finishing it the next day.

Monday was the last day of warm weather and our last full day in Branson. We kicked off the day with a visit to the Fish Hatchery in Branson. I think Joshua got a bigger kick out of feeding the trout than Cora did! I learned more about spawning trout than I ever cared to know... it doesn't work like you breed catfish if you're wondering. :)
My father also got a lot of giggles out of telling people who were asking about Josh, Cora and I that both Josh and I are his children. They of course assumed we were married. *eye roll*

After the hatchery we went over to College of the Ozarks. This College doesn't charge tuition to it's students, they are dubbed "Hard work U" because they require all their students to earn their education working on campus. We'd heard there was a tour of a working mill and that they had a delicious restaurant that the students served farm to table food produced on campus. We didn't eat on campus, we weren't hungry and knew we had a ton of food back at the hotel. We poked around at the restraunt/gift shop/lodge and then went to see the Mill. The students weren't working it when we were there, but it was still fun to look around.

We enjoyed lunch back at the hotel of our Lamberts leftovers and then Cora and I took another nap while Dad & Josh went to see a Car Museum (that they were disappointed in ): ).

That night we went to dinner at Cantina Loradeo in Branson Landing, a nice outlet mall shopping center in town. We were seated next to a nice couple with a little boy a few weeks older than Cora. We started talking about the kids and then it was revealed that the husband served as a Marine years ago. Well, it just so happened to be the Marine Corps Birthday & it's a big deal for Marines. The guys continued to visit throughout the meal and really hit it off, as they were leaving the kind gentlemen mentioned something about enjoying our dessert. I just figured he was assuming we would have dessert? Nope, he ordered Joshua a delicious Mexican Brownie for the Corps Birthday and picked up our dinner ticket. It was such a nice gesture from one Marine to another, and of course he and Josh exchanged information & I believe they've been in contact since then.

After dinner we were watching the water fountain (in the cold...) and heard that a big water/fire show should be starting shortly. We were so pleased we stayed to see it! Cora loved watching the display and it was a great ending to such a wonderful trip!

Tuesday (Veterans Day) we headed home, via a 4 hour detour taking Josh back on base. It was a loonnnggg drive home, particularly with a one year old in tow. It helped that my Dad and I could take turns driving back since we'd left one car with Joshua on base. It did not help that throughout the whole trip and on the way home too, I had a bad bit of motion sickness.

I'm so glad we made the trip! It was a fun time for all of us and in a year or two while Josh is serving overseas I'm sure we'll look back on this time fondly!

To see reviews of all the places we went in Branson (and our other trips too), check out my Trip Advisor profile! Trip Advisor is my favorite go to travel site for reviews and suggestions!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Food & My love/hate With Pies

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and all I can think about is the food! 
I am really not a turkey fan, but I'll eat a piece (yes, one) just to say I did. Ham is my preference regardless of the holiday meal. 

Really my love is for all the sides! My Granny's Dressing Recipe, that is the definition of Thanksgiving dressing for me! Every year I make my Mom's cranberry relish and I never eat any of it. It's just not my thing but it's tradition and everyone else enjoys it and there's never any left over.
This year, I'm looking forward to using the leftovers from Thanksgiving to make "Fried Thanksgiving".
Last year after Thanksgiving my father-in-law (who is an amazing cook!) made these and I fell in love! 
I was going to work up a recipe to post, since he just flies by the seat of his pants in the kitchen most of the time. Then, after a quick google, pfft who uses google anymore? Pinterest search I found plenty of great existing tutorials, so why reinvent the wheel? Check it out here.
About the only thing we do differently is we include just about everything into our balls, they're not just stuffing. Mashed potatoes, green beans, maybe (sometimes) a little corn, left over turkey chopped up... the options are endless! And, make sure you make the cranberry sauce or some version of it - it's worth it!!

Really the reason I'm posting this is because of my pie dellima this year. 
Hi, My name is Rebekah and I (generally) don't like pie.
Hiiiii Rebekah.
Now that I've admitted that... I'll scarf down a small piece of pumpkin pie every Turkey Day because, when in Rome? It's also usually pretty lathered up in whipped cream.
I do love a good key lime pie, but that's not very festive for the holiday.
I'm honestly not sure what it is that I don't like, maybe I need to revisit this... but back on point - 
Pecan Pie In-a-Jar #williamssonoma

Pecan Pie - last Thanksgiving our plans changed last minute because our Cousin had strep throat and I had a 1 month old, so we all stayed home and far away from his germs (love ya kiddo)! When frantically running through Kroger the day before getting everything we needed to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal (I had originally only been responsible for a few things when it was going to be a multi-family shared meal) I came across "Pecan Pie in a Jar" I don't recall the brand but it was life changing! (It wasn't this one I found a picture of, you can find at Williams & Sonoma but it looked just like this!)
When I say life changing, I mean it... I don't like pecans and I loved this! 
It was sooo sweet (my kind of dessert) and it was surypy but not runny.
I'll watch for it again this year, but wouldn't life just be better if I just had the recipe to make it?

So please, share your pecan pie recipes! Are they similar to the deliciousness I speak of? I'm craving this pie as I write this! We scarfed it! If I find it, I'll by several jars this year so I can bake them and compare to other recipes I come across!

Friday, November 14, 2014

2014 Fall Bucket List & November Goals

This is going to be a busy month! I'm looking forward to lots of Thanksgiving Holiday festivities as well as accomplishing lots of work at our house.

The fun stuff first - 

November is going to end up being just as busy if not more so than October was. In November we're looking Forward to:
Jacob's senior recital
Joshua being home for his 10 day leave
Family Thank-mas with Josh home
Stephanie's lingerie shower (for me to attend...)
Jacob's bachelor party (for John of course)
Thanksgiving celebrations with all the family

Some of the not so fun things that I have to attend to are - 

Getting settled in at our house. For a various sundry of reasons we're still camping out at my Dad's house. It's been so great that we've had his spare room available to us, but we're ready to be in our own home and back on a better routine. 

I need to go to the dentist. :( I've been putting it off for a while. I went while I was pregnant with Cora because I hadn't been in a long time and that's one of the things that everyone says you should do while pregnant. They didn't want to do x-rays while I was there because of the baby but they suspected some cavities. I'm *really* dreading going back, I know that it will be at least 3 more visits, one for the cleaning and x-rays another for fillings on half my mouth and another for fillings on the other half. I don't wanna! :(  Really my only motivation is I don't want to put it off so long that I'm pregnant again and even though none of the cavities are bothering me (they said they all looked very minor - likely a result of fabulous pregnancy hormones) I really don't want to be pregnant, miserable with a cavity and there not be much they can do for me.

And lastly, I have got to give up cokes! I have just never been able to kick this habit completely! I'll get so close to going a while without them and then pick them up because of a "special event"or party and then can't drop them again. They're truly my addiction. Coffee, I like it but I can take it or leave it, sweets same thing I can live without them but Cokes are so hard for me to not to just grab. When we're at our house it'll be easier in the sense that we just won't have them around. God give me will power!!

What are your November/Fall plans?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A year of Breastfeeding

Cora's first birthday marked a whole year of firsts. Our first child, a year of parenting, of being a mom and putting someone ahead of me 100% of the time. It was also a whole year of breastfeeding. 

When Cora was born, I knew that we were going to make breastfeeding work for us! I was not naive of potential problems and challenges with breastfeeding, but I choose to not focus on that. I was going to power through and if I was going to stop breastfeeding, it would not be for a lack of trying every other option to make breastfeeding work first.
nursing at 8 months old

I was initially so determined for breastfeeding to work that I wouldn't allow formula in the house before Cora was born. I told everyone that if I was going to give a bottle of formula, I didn't want it to be easy or a rash decision. I wanted the whole drive to the store to get formula to think about whether or not I was going to quit.

Originally we planned to breast feed until 6 months. When we were first starting out that seemed like such a daunting goal! I would give myself pep talks late at night when I was so weary with it all that we could quit at 3 months if I wanted to. 3 months became 4, 4 became 5 and before I knew it we made it to the 6 month mark and introduced solids (making my job a lot easier)! The second half of the year has been much easier than the first. 

Our breastfeeding journey has been a huge blessing. We have been fortunate that many problems that so many breastfeeding mothers face we have managed to avoid (so far). 

Although by many standards our breastfeeding experience has been without complication, there have been ups and downs. Even without extra difficulties, breastfeeding has been one of the very hardest things I've ever done emotionally. When we started out my concerns were clogged ducts, mastitis, cracked & bleeding nipples. I had no idea that the ideal situation would still be hard...
...For 365 days, one day did not pass that I was not solely responsible for providing my child with nutrition.
... breastfeeding meant that I did every. single. bed time. 
(except the two times my Dad kept her overnight and once that we had a babysitter = 362 bedtimes) 
... there were so many times where Dad wouldn't do the trick, Grandpa wouldn't do the trick, the only person who could soothe or calm the crying baby is Momma. Meaning Momma has to drop everything to sit down and nurse (at least 30 minutes when she was younger).

We got off to a rocky start. When Cora was born there were some issues. For the first day of her life, I only got to hold my child for less than one minute (heartbreaking). We weren't able to try breastfeeding until after she was 24 hours old and even then I was only allowed to hold her for a few minutes at a time, a few times a day. Even with a Lactation Consultant and great, helpful nurses standing right there to help, getting her to latch and suck was hard and time consuming.They only allowed 30 minutes of contact & stimulation for her so in that small amount of time we had to try nursing on both sides then do a syringe feeding with whatever colostrum/milk I was able to pump and then formula as a doctor-ordered supplemental feeding.

When we were in the hospital I wanted to quit so badly. I was exhausted. Each feeding we'd walk down to NICU (which took about all the energy I had), use the 30 minutes we had allotted to us to handle our daughter to get in a diaper change, attempt nursing, do a syringe feeding and get her back in her isolation bassinet. Walk back to the room (moaning, nearly in tears from pain/exhaustion) and then spend at least another 30 minutes of a pump session, then clean the pump parts, send John down to NICU with the milk I was able to pump for the refrigerator. I might get a 30 minute nap or entertain guests that stopped by the hospital or scarf down a quick meal and then it was time to start the cycle all over again. 

Nursing was finally clicking for us until the first night we got to have Cora room-in with us out of NICU. I couldn't get her to latch at all. She was screaming, I was an emotional wreck. There wasn't an LC at the hospital at night to help. It was a long night until we were the first stop on the LC's rounds the next morning. Turns out she'd been getting too much passifier time in NICU (never mind my no-artificial nipple request). The LC taught us how to do some suck training and got her latched for the first time in hours. Now suddenly the latching hurt, it hurt toe-curling bad! Poor Cora had lost that instinctual suck she was born with and we were working so hard to reteach it to her.

Poor Cora was also crying constantly. I'd nurse her and then do a syringe feeding of whatever I'd pumped and then do the required formula syringe supplemental feeding and it just didn't ever seem to be enough. So I'd do it all again just to have her cry some more. Finally at my whits end I called the nursery nurse that I had clicked with in NICU. I explained what was happening, that she just couldn't seem to get full so she pulled Cora's feeding log from the night before (when the passi had been administered and all these problems started). The feeding that I had been encouraged to skip trying to nurse (because I was "over stimulating" my daughter with failed attempts at nursing/latching) she had been syringe fed 4 ounces of formula. 4 ounces! Her stomach should only have a capacity of about 1 ounce at her age!! Her poor tummy was stretched and she just couldn't feel full with breast milk that digested so much quicker than that formula.

The next day the LC stopped by to check on us again. We had gotten the all clear to go home from everyone else, we were just hanging out waiting to see our amazing Lactation Consultant. She watched Cora nurse, we were still struggling pretty badly. She recommended a nipple guard to help with the latch pain & to help Cora to latch properly. She warned not to use it for long and to always try to latch without it first. She also worked out an increased formula supplement schedule to wean her back down to the prescribed amount of formula. She explained that in a day or so Cora would have forgotten the "full" feeling that formula provided with it's slow digestion and that she would go back to being satisfied with breast milk. She encouraged on demand feeding until a schedule naturally emerged and dismissed the silly idea of only 30 minutes of "stimulation" at a time that I was being pushed into. The reassurance and nipple guard helped enough for us to feel confident to pack up and go ahead and head home.

We planned to only use the guard for a week or so, then wean off of it but that was a failed idea. We used the nipple guard for the better part of six months! In fact, Cora basically weaned herself from it because she didn't like how it affected the flow of my milk. It was cumbersome and a pain to always know where a guard was, but I'm so thankful for them. I have little doubt that without a nipple guard we would have not been successful at nursing outside the hospital.

We ended up having formula around the house after her NICU stay while we were still under doctors orders to supplement her feedings. At a 1 week we were given the okay by her pediatrician to suspend the supplemental formula syringe feedings. The formula sat in my pantry for months without being used. Finally we broke down and had to use some to mix with breast milk after a quick growth spurt that depleted my milk store in the freezer and I just wasn't able to pump enough to keep up with her demands. All-in-all I believe she had five or less bottles of half milk/half formula before I discovered the wonder that is Fenrugreek! I can't believe we waited until she was seven months old to try it!

I stopped pumping at the end of July (9 months old) when I started staying home with Cora. I can't tell you how much I do not miss pumping. I am so thankful and love being home with Cora if for no other reason, certainly because I don't have to pump anymore! Pumping at work from March through mid-July wasn't awful because her demand had dropped. I could go seven hours between pump sessions (my employer during this time didn't have a place or allow time for me to pump). At the job I left a few weeks after coming back from Maternity Leave pumping was a full time job in and of itself. I had to pump every three hours for at least 30 minutes and I still wasn't keeping up with what she was consuming while I was away. I pretty much kept my office door shut all day and worked away with the pump whurring in the background (and in a month and a half of doing this my boss only walked in on me once!)

With this year behind us we've started looking to the future and the natural question of how long do we want to continue breast feeding. It seems like that's what everyone is asking me "how long do you plan to do this?". Well the truth is I don't know. It doesn't seem fair to Cora to stop just because we passed some arbitrary time marker. 365 days doesn't mean boo to my baby girl. She knows she wants to nurse and doesn't care that she is a year old. For now, just to make my life easier I primarily feed her first thing in the morning and last thing at night. During the middle of the day I offer her other beverages and will only nurse when she "asks" to by patting my chest or pulling on my shirt. Middle of the day feedings get more frequent when she's not feeling well be it an illness, allergies or teething; some days we may nurse up to three additional times during the day. For now, my plan is to just see how it goes and play it by ear!

This year I learned that breastfeeding, even the most idea situation still isn't easy, but I would do it again without giving it a second thought. Some tips I picked up this year -
  • Babywearing = WIN! You can nurse while wearing your baby, you can get things done & you aren't stuck sitting in a corner trapped there for half an hour or more. 
  • When you're first starting out and you feel like you're juggling 6 balls just trying to master the basics of nursing, it's okay to sit around topless! Trust me, it's just easier to ditch the shirt. Plus this gives you and baby that oh-so-important skin-to-skin contact!
  • Nipple Guards are not of the devil. I know that they don't work for everyone and can cause new problems but if you need them, use them!
  • When you're first starting out, when the baby latches on giving you that toe-curling pain. Count slowly to five before you take the baby off. Usually by the time I got to five the pain had subsided. If the pain was still bad chances were she wasn't latched correctly & I should re-latch her anyway.
  • If you even think you might be getting a clogged duct, pump, pump, pump! Get all that milk out of there! Also, when pumping, let the pump run as close as you can stand to 5 minutes past the end of your milk production to ensure empty ducts (this will also stimulate production)!
  • In the hospital, regardless of if your child is in the NICU or not, be your baby's advocate! Check those feeding logs! Push for breast milk supplementation rather than formula if necessary! You're the parent, don't second guess yourself!!