Breastfeeding: The Perks

If you’ve followed my breastfeeding journey, you know I’ve bitched and complained along the way. And if you’ve hung on every word I’ve written, you’re probably rolling your eyes because – in comparison- I’ve had an easy time. Neither of my babies had any trouble latching. I’ve heard horror stories from other moms who had to battle latching issues all while walking around in the zombie state that is the first few months of life with a newborn. I’ve heard about dry and cracked nipples, though I’ve never even had to use that nipple cream stuff. Oversupply was never an issue either, so engorgement never occurred and the leaking subsided after the first few weeks or so. I work part time, so pumping isn’t a huge ordeal. I know, I know, I have it good. I’m grateful, I am. What I’m trying to say is that breastfeeding is like having a newborn in that even under the best circumstances, it ain’t easy.
But, as I get closer to reaching my goal of one year (and then some, perhaps), I’m already starting to grieve the loss. That’s because, believe it or not, there is some good to go with the bad. Quite honestly, if it were all bad, I wouldn’t do it. This post is about the perks of breastfeeding. And I’m not talking about the lower rates of cancer in women who breastfeed or the better immune systems of the children who were breastfed, I’m talking about the real perks. And by the “real” perks, I’m talking about the less important, but lets-be-truthful, really important perks. Like having big juicy tits. Here we go:
-Yes, I will have a milkshake for dessert, thank you. It’s all for the sake of milk production. I know everyone is different, but I’ve lost all my pregnancy weight via breastfeeding. I have not done any extra exercising and have not been conscious about what I eat. There are plenty of other postpartum things I hate about my body, which I can bitch about in a separate post, but the fact that breastfeeding is like going to the gym without leaving the house and without breaking a sweat is a win in my book. I’ve thought about making a bumper sticker for my car that says, “I don’t workout, I breastfeed”.
-Sorry honey, looks like he wants Mama. The bond through breastfeeding is beyond a simple preference for the mother; it’s so innate and natural and tied to a babies quest to survive and that’s all pretty magnificent. I know Van prefers me over anyone else because I am his source of food and I don’t try to play it off any other way (though I do tease that I must smell better or hold him better, etc, and lets face it, I do smell fantastic). I’ve never felt so needed and loved and, well, important. There ought to be an infomercial that goes like this: Have any insecurities? Ever feel helpless or small? Feel like you aren’t contributing in life? Breastfeed. Sure, it’s easy to joke about but the reality is that there is nothing more beautiful – in my opinion- than feeding your child straight from the tap.
-Every time I shop at Whole Foods, I leave with two bags and over a hundred bucks missing from my wallet. You know why? Because buying organic shit is expensive. Want to get the most organic milk around for free? High jack a lactating mother’s bosom. Seriously though, there is nothing more pure and, perhaps best of all, it’s free. The price of formula alone is reason enough to breastfeed. And the fact that the alternative to formula is free and gazillion times better, the breastfeeding versus formula discussion seems like a silly debate (granted, I know plenty of moms that are not able to breastfeed for whatever reason and I feel the pain in their loss and am thankful that formula exists for these special situations).
-Do we have all that we need? We have a diaper bag we rarely use. More times than not, we bank on the fact that there are a few diapers somewhere in the car and some wipes buried under a seat. I usually have some snacks and small toys in my purse and a blanket, always, in the back of my car. But my ta-tas? I never forget them. They’re always there when I need them. In the event that I didn’t anticipate having to feed him and am not wearing something breastfeeding friendly, I can go to the car or an empty room (depending on where I am). Sure is nice never to have to bring a bottle or a bottle warmer. Being that milk is perishable and not something I can keep in my car or purse at all times, chances are I’d leave it behind anyway. But the ta-tas? They’re always there. I’ve even thought about weird scenarios, like us being trapped in the desert as a family and how we’d survive… and, well, you know where I’m going with that.
-Wanna get away? As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that everyone has some degree of social anxiety. I’m not tormented by it by any means, but it’s always nice to get a break and sneak away with my littlest love during social functions. I enjoy the peace and quiet when we’re in a room with the door closed; chatter and laughter spilling through the crack under the door from the party on the other side. To be honest, these are my favorite times to breastfeed and reconnect; a reminder than no matter where we are, I will always be there for him.
-Is Aunt Flo gonna be there? I haven’t had a real period for (::scratches head::) almost three years now. THREE YEARS. That’s one thousand, ninety five days. My period returned briefly when Hooper was 9 or 10 months old and then the next month, I was pregnant again. My period has yet to return and given the fact I’m not ready for a third, I don’t miss Aunt Flo one bit. She was always the kind of Aunt that smelled funny anyway.
What has your breastfeeding journey been like? What were the perks for you?
You can read my other posts on breastfeeding by clicking here.

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Van @ 10 Months

Growth & Appearance: You resemble me most in the morning, when your eyes are still sleepy. The rest of the time, I think, you look more like your Papa. Others who hold you say you are strong and sturdy. You’ve been called a bruiser. People are now referring to your hair as strawberry blond.
You have three teeth on top and toe on the bottom. 
Eating: You eat anything and everything. You cry when it’s all gone. You’ll refuse, at times, what we give you to eat if you see that we’re eating something else. Other times you could care less so long as you have food in front of you. Baby led weaning has been miraculous for us and I’m so thankful that we went this route.
You eat a lot. The other evening you ate an entire sweet potato and a whole kiwi. I’d list the things you like versus dislike but it’s as simple as this: you like everything, you dislike nothing.
We’ve handled your obsession with your brother’s bottle by giving you a sippy cup with water and this will keep you busy for a while. You’re able to use the cup on your own, but water goes everywhere.
You’re still breastfeeding a lot, as in 9 times per day. You eat nearly every hour that you are awake. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but it’s normal for us and it works, so I go with it. Your schedule is similar to last months and looks like this: breastfeed first thing in the morning, before breakfast, before your morning nap, after your morning nap, before lunch, before your afternoon nap, after your afternoon nap, before dinner, and before bed. More simply, twice before each meal and once after each meal.  
Sleeping: You and I, we’re so in sync. I can sense just moments before you’re about to wake and despite my desire to stay in bed, I’m always awake just before your first peep. You’re welcome.
We added a blanket to your crib. Not because it’s cold; it’s been in the triple digits, actually. But we spied on you sleeping at your Nina’s house and were won over when we came in on you holding your blanket against your sleeping face like a mother holds her baby to her chest. It makes me smile every morning when I lift you out of your crib and discover that your blanket is warm, meaning it’s been against your little body. In general, you’ve become quite the little nuzzler. You were fixing to fall asleep on top of a warm pile of laundry I had just taken out of the dryer before I put you down in your crib for a proper nap.
You sleep through the night with ease. Your schedule looks like this: Wake up between 7 and 8, nap around 10:30 for two hours, nap again around 4:30 for an hour or two, then bed around 9ish. 
Development: You’re able to crawl with a toy in your hand. You appear to be right handed, as you use your right to carry a toy and feed yourself.
You’re a standing machine. You’re able to pull to stand on just about anything, including the oven, my pant leg, and the dog. You’re able to transfer to something close by and although you aren’t incredibly sturdy, you’re more than willing to throw yourself in whatever direction and hope for the best results.
In general, you have a gotta go gotta go aura about you. You’re in constant motion. As soon as I lay you on the changing table, you’re turning to your stomach to see what you can grab. As soon as I put you on the ground, you’re bolting off after a toy. You’re busy and eager to do more than you can.
Your mind seems to go a million miles an hour and if I had to guess what your thought process was like, it’d go something like this: gotta get to that water bottle – gotta put that water bottle in my mouth – oh look, there’s Sarah – God dammit, Hooper just took my water bottle – wah wah – oh sheet, there’s some fuzz on the ground – gotta get to the fuzz on the ground – yum, this fuzz is tasty… and on and on it goes. You’re constantly looking toward the next thing, moving toward the next thing. You’re rarely still and you’re quite back breaking these days.
You love to laugh and look for reasons to laugh. Most anytime your brother pays you any sort of attention, even if it’s him batting his hand in your face, you laugh.
You love to shake your head back and forth and mimic us whenever we do this in front of you. You also rock back and forth anytime music is on.
You’ve taught me that it must be in the name of survival that babies aren’t born mobile. If you had the ability to get to half of the things I see you eyeing, you’d probably no longer be with us. You’re always wanting to get to something you shouldn’t have, stand on something that isn’t sturdy, or eat something that’s not edible.
You don’t like dragging your knee when you crawl on grass or concrete so you opt to push all the way on your feet and do a bear crawl instead. It’s pretty cute watching you mcguiever around with your little bum sticking straight up in the air.
You understand the meaning of “no”. You love to crawl over to the TV equipment and pull everything off the shelf. You know you aren’t supposed to do this, so every time you make your way over there you scan the room until you meet my eyes and wait for me to say “no”.
You get shy when others come up to say hello when I’m holding you and you like to rest your head on my chest as a coy way of saying, “please don’t take me away from this lady”. You’re still my little parasite.
You can furniture walk, making your way from one end of the sofa to the other. You’ve transferred to another piece of furniture once or twice and, so long as your belly is resting against the surface, you’re able to free your hands to hold a toy. I’ve put you down in the standing position and let go for a few seconds and, so long as you’re not on your way somewhere, you can balance. Each time this happens, however, it feels like a fluke as you have yet to commit to balancing like this on your own. Regardless, you’re capable and walking seems to be right around the corner.
Favorites: You’ll do anything for one of the remote controls. You’ll even stop breastfeeding if there is one in site. We’ve resorted to pulling out some of the older ones we don’t use anymore but you definitely know the ones we use and the ones we don’t. I even pretend to use the old ones so they become more appealing. It’s not that I’m crazy, it’s that your obsession runs that deep. You also love standing up against the sofa alongside your brother and playing with his toys with him. Sometimes this gets you purposely knocked over.

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Style de Van

I picked up this souvenir t-shirt when we were in Palm Springs. I love it. I bought one for Hoop too and even a much larger one for when they’re bigger. I would pair this outfit with these but, truth be told, I don’t invest in shoes until they’re actually walking. He’s lucky
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if he gets some socks thrown on those little feet. The leggings are from Old Navy (girls section, but whatevs), and for 8 bucks, they’re a steal. Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Hooper Eats.

This is a part II, you can read the first post on bringing in the help of a professional here.
Here are our goals:
-Willy and I need to be on the same page. I need to be a better role model (I’m as picky as they come. I ate cheese pizza and fries everyday Monday-Friday during my four years of high school. I live by the anthem that I eat to live, not live to eat. I was that kid who didn’t like her food touching. I was also that kid that sucked her salad dressing off her salad but left the lettuce. What? You didn’t know that kid? Welp, now ya do). Willy needs to not let his excessive worry over Hooper’s overall health allow him to revert to impulsive strategies that we’ve used in the past that got us to where we are now.
-We want to feel confident about our game plan. We need to believe it will work for us to stay true to it. It can’t just be rules to follow, the rules need to make sense and fit into our lifestyle.
-We’d love to shorten the time that meals are taking. Because still chewing a bite of food thirty minutes after it entered the mouth is as painful as watching a man with no fingers tie a shoe.
-We’d be stoked if he could add some more variety to his diet, but really we’d be grinning ear to ear if he just ate what we gave him now with some degree of ease.
Kary asked us to brainstorm our thoughts on the following statements (see items in bold). Here are our responses:
 Unless there is an undiagnosed medical issue, children will eat the amount that their body’s need and they will not starve. 
Both Willy and I agree this is probably true but neither of us can commit to this 100%. When Willy and I talked further, we both agreed that our issues stem from Hooper’s weight dropping consistently over his first year of life. We both adopted this notion that he was not healthy and that we needed to be more proactive in feeding him. In reality, while his pediatrician did monitor is weight more than the usual baby, he never declared him unhealthy and never suggested I supplement my breastfeeding with formula. We need help trusting that he will remain healthy even if he chooses skips a meal here or there.
Missing a meal will not hurt a child and in fact kids often have fluctuations in the amount they eat- sometimes they will eat a ton for one meal or even for several meals in a row, then they will eat very little for the next meal or meals. When a meal or two are skipped, a child will be more hungry at the next meal. 
I’ve read that you should not look at what a toddler eats over the course of a day, but instead over the course of a week. Nevertheless, it’s hard for me to trust fully.
-If your son has been gaining weight along a consistent growth curve, this is good proof that he is not starving and he is in fact getting “enough” to eat.
As of his last appointment, at 2 yrs old, Hooper was in the 50th percentile for weight, which is perfect. We don’t credit this to the fact he is not starving… instead we pat ourselves on the back for getting him to this point… one painful spoonful at a time. I know, we’re twisted. We need to have our thought process reversed, right?
– Kids have preferences for certain foods and they will hold out until they get those foods if they know from experience that this is a likely option. 
Willy and I both agree. We’ve gone wrong here one too many times, resorting to giving chicken nuggets when he refuses whatever meal we’ve tirelessly tried to get him to eat. We’d love to work toward undoing the damage and having a healthy alternative plan in place for when he does refuse meals — even if it means accepting that he’ll simply eat more the next morning for breakfast.
– Some kids eat slowly and/or graze on small meals through the day rather than eating a few large meals. Lots of adults eat this way too!
We both laughed at this one because he’s such a slow eater. He’ll scarf down certain meals (chicken nuggets, pizza), but the healthier stuff takes forever. I’d love to give him smaller more frequent meals, but the problem lies with his slowness at each meal in conjunction with his nap schedule. I’m not sure where I could fit in smaller meals. Some days it feels like I’m spending his entire waking hours trying to get the one meal in him. It’s so draining.
– Kids do what their parents do and they want to be just like their parents. Modeling the behavior you want to see is so important. 
Willy and I both agree. And I know I need to work on eating healthier so I can be a better example. It’s a work in progress for me too.
What are your responses to the bold statements above? 

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A Trinket, A Tasket

My days of trinketing and tasketing are so limited these days. To drag the kids into a Salvation Army is more work than it’s worth. If we go to the Rose Bowl Flea Market, we have to arrange for someone to watch Hooper since it’s during his nap time and then we bring Van since he never strays too far away from my tits. What I’m trying to say is that thrifting, or even going to the grocery store for that matter, can be a production.
We went to the Rose Bowl last month anyway and even dragged Hoop along. He did well bypassing his nap, which is always a gamble. He started to lose his cool toward the end but by then our feet are hurting anyway and we’re usually looking for an excuse to skip a few rows. Here’s what we came away with: A. I’m in love with this sweater for the boys. I think it will look stellar with some black leggings and little moccasins + B. Lions and tigers and bears, Oh My! Hooper loves these little animal figurines. For a buck, how can I say no? We washed them when we got home, because, gross + C. Grateful Dead Record. I must have played this 4x yesterday. It makes doing the dishes and cleaning up discarded food that Van threw off the table and Sarah rejected more fun + D & E. That cute peter pan collared dress and adorable frog counting book came from the Sweet Threads booth. I can’t leave the Rose Bowl without buying something there, they always have the best kiddo stuff. The dress is for Carla + F. Holy fu$k, something for me?! My cheeks are blushing. It’s a little woven purse and I like it. I like it a lot.
Feel free to share a link to your recent thrifted finds. Always fun to see what treasures others find!

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Bits + Pieces, Underwood Family Farm

If you live in the area, you must check out Underwood Family Farms. Tractor rides, petting zoo, pony rides, pick your own produce… this farm has it all. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend a day together as a
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family.

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Hooper @ 30 Months

Growth & Appearance: Your knees are always scabbed, your shins always bruised, and your feet are always dirty. You’re a true toddler. You’re tall and thin, but your belly is almost always sticking out (despite the fact we rag on you for being such a terrible eater). Your hair is blond on top, brown underneath. More and more, I think you look like your Papa, but with my eyes.
You’re wearing size 3T clothing, with some room to grow. Size 8 shoes. You’re tall enough to ride the kiddo rides at the carnival. 
Eating: We’re all doing better with your eating. Your Papa has made a huge effort to make the table more of an inviting place and the tension has lessened considerably. We’re giving you more independence over what you eat and how much you eat, with the occasional boundary here and there; because you can’t eat chicken nuggets for every meal. There was a girl that did that, I believe, and she died or something. True story.
You’ve gotten better at trying new things and I’m doing my best to keep offering you new foods to try. We’ve also started making smoothies that consist mostly of frozen berries and boat load of spinach. You like them, so that’s a win.
You drink with a cup now on a regular basis. You feed yourself, using mostly your left hand. 
Sleeping: You like to be “cozy”. Some times, after putting you down for a nap, I hear you stirring about and will go in and check on you. You request to be made “cozy”, upset that the blanket has become loose around you. I tuck you back in as best I can and you wave you little palm up to the sky and say “by-yee!”.
You’ve picked up on the fact that asking for “more cuddles” will prolong nap and/or bed time. Every time we tell you it’s time to go to sleep, you raise your little index finger in the air and say, “cuddle, minute” (aka, let’s cuddle for a minute). We’re suckers for your manipulating loving ways and we pull you close and hold you tight for as long as you’ll let us.
The other morning, I heard you whining at 6:30am, which is way earlier than your normal waking hour. I went in your room and it became clear that you were still tired but perhaps had a bad dream. I laid down with you and I spent the next hour watching you twitch in your sleep; your arm laying flaccid across my face, your little body next to mine. It happened again about a week later. Not gonna lie, kinda hope these nightmares stick around.
We’re still forgoing the second nap. Some days we are home and you appear ready for another nap and I need a break, so I put you down. More times than not, you’ll nap in the morning and stay awake until it’s time to go to sleep for the night. Your schedule looks like this: Wake up between 8 and 9am, nap around 11 until 1 or 3 (it varies greatly), and go to bed around 8:30pm. As I type this, you are supposed to be napping but I can here you tickling your stuffed animals.
You woke up the other morning and the first words out of your mouth were, “peanut butter”. Then we cuddled in silence. Talking: Those that aren’t around you on an everyday basis note there has been a word explosion. At times it feels like the world is one big game of pictionary.
You dropped your guitar and said, “Oh shit”, clear as day, over and over again. We ignored it, but apparently we need to start watching our mouths. That will be a challenge for your Papa and I.
You’re starting to put two adjectives together, like “big blue truck”.
When I say, “thank you”, you say, “nell come” (aka “welcome”). When we give you something, you say “shanks” (thanks).
You speak in first person; The ball got away from Van and you said, “I’ll get it”.
You know that frogs go “wibbit”, snakes go “ssssss”, and alligators go “chomp”.
You can tell others that your brother’s name is Van but you’re unsure what to say when people ask you “how are you?”.
Things you like to say with your index finger pointed toward the sky: “cuddle minute”, “back minute” (aka, I’ll be back in a minute), “one show”. 
Development: Where has all this energy come from? It seems like overnight you’re moving faster, sleeping less, and into everything. I was beginning to wonder what was wrong when your Nina pointed out that you are a full blown toddler now. You’re wild and rambunctious and always wanting to get into more than you’re supposed to. You push boundaries; you climb, grab, and take. Some days it feels like I’m following you around telling you constantly what you cannot do. You used to sneak by with a bath every other day if time didn’t permit, but now you require at least one bath a day.
You love playing outside, shoveling dirt from the plant to your wagon. You refer to it as “cleaning”. I refer to it as “more work for mama”. But I let you do it, as it keeps you occupied for a nice chunk of time.
I pointed out your shadow and, ever since, you’re quite fond of it. I tell you to give your shadow a hug and you chase after it endlessly. You like to watch your shadow on the wall as you jump up and down on your bed, then you proclaim, “shadow go boom!” when you jump to your butt.
You’re getting better at riding your scooter. More times than not, you ride with your left foot forward and push with your right. You use your spoon with the left hand as well, but occasionally use your right as well.
You’re beginning the transition out of parallel play, where you simply play alongside another child. Whenever you see a group of kids playing, you want to join them. You approach them with only the slightest hint of uncertainty and always greet them with a big “Hi-yee”.  
Favorites: You love Curious George and insisted on “the man in the yellow hat” when I tried to change it up and put Cat in the Hat on the other day. When you’re overly rambunctious, Curious George is my saving grace. As soon as it comes on, you start air kissing that silly little monkey. You’re also still into your cars, a long time favorite. And playing outside. Thank god. You love gardeners and insist on being outside to watch the trash trucks go by. Oh yes, and keys. You love fitting keys into locks whether they were made for the hole you’re sticking them in or not.
Some of my favorite posts, featuring you, from this past month:
Hooper Eats (about your shitty eating)
They come in all shapes and sizes (your size, compared to your brothers at the same age)
Hooper & Van (you and your brother)
The Roosevelt Hotel (photos of mostly you, while your brother napped in the closet)
Shits & Giggles (on potty training)

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Guest Post: From the ladies at MINe

How ’bout a little blog hoppin’ to get everyone over hump day. Dammit Sarah, get off my leg. I kid. Please pop on over to the MINe blog, I’m sharing a tour of Van’s room there today. I’m also guest posting over on Love Joleen, so you can find me over there today too. Take a peek under your bed and I might be there as well.
And taking over my blog today are the ladies from the MINe Style Blog. If you haven’t checked MINe out, then you’re missing out. These girls feature some of the best kiddo stuff. I love this DIY they put together for making your own family board book and I love these rompers they featured from Wolfechild. The buck doesn’t stop there, however. These ladies also have their own online store with rotating must-haves-at-great-prices merchandise. I was pretty to stoked to see these earrings for the big girls and by big girls I mean for the mamas and by mamas I mean for me; I’m kinda obsessed. I want. I need. Oh Willllllly…

one // two // three // four // five // six // seven // eight // nine
And here’s some of the fabulous leggings they currently have available in their online shop:

And thank you all who keep voting over on Top Baby Blogs. I’m in second place now, which puts the biggest smile on my face. Cheers!

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Shits & Giggles

That moment when your mom tells you you can have candy if you poop on the potty but you just finished pooping in your pants before your mom sat you on the toilet? Ya, it looks like
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With that said, I’m done being a lazy ass; I’ve committed to potty training. What does this mean, you ask? It means that I travel with extra toddler clothing in my car. It means that when we went to the beach the other day I brought a portable toilet. It means I say, “Do you have to use the potty?” more times than I say “no”. And I say “no” a lot. It means that outside the bathroom door is a bag of M&Ms. It means I sit him on every public toilet regardless if he says he doesn’t have to go. It means that before leaving the house, in addition to putting shoes on, gathering snacks, changing Van’s diaper, getting dressed, and so on and so forth, we also sit on the toilet. It means that he wears underwear during his nap, which also means I run the risk of a nap time interruption to use the potty.
And you know what? It’s not as bad as I thought. He still refers to the public toilet scene as “scary”, but he goes when I sit him on the seat. Nap times have not suffered in the least. He’s had a few accidents, but they are few and far between and he’s able to hold his pee overnight most nights. We use a mix of underwear, training pants, and pull ups. At night we still use diapers but plan on transitioning him to pull-ups as he’s gone several nights in a row without wetting his diaper. The only box left to check was the poop box, but he’s doing that without a problem now too. I think he was holding out on us for fear of having a ghost turd… Not familiar with ghost turd?
Per Urban Dictionary:
Ghost Turd:
When you sit on the can and you can swear you’re droppin a load, but when you turn around to admire your work there’s no sign of it
Example: Oh, man, i just laid a ghost turd.
Side note: Can you spare a few seconds? You can vote daily by clicking the link below. Thank you to all who voted yesterday; I’m in third place… highest standing I’ve ever been. Woot.

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Mama's Corner

-Van started pulling to stand a few weeks back. It started in the bath, which is like watching a puppy run on an ice rink.
-Willy and I have started Breaking Bad on Netflix. We’re mid-way through season 2 and we’re addicted.
-I came across this photo series, featured on Apartment Therapy, and love it.
-I sent my first email to my travel to Cuba dealer. It’s illegal to travel to Cuba from the US, but we did manage to find a legal way to go the first time we went. I refer to our helper as our dealer, cuz traveling is like a drug to me. It’s the first email in what I hope will be many.
-Got a free moment? I’d love your vote for The Dairy Queen award. I know, it makes me seem like either a frozen yogurt guru or a cow. I am neither. The lovely mom of Elliot that I donate my extra milk to nominated me for the award.
-When I was a young girl, I wanted so badly to be a mom. Well, really, I just wanted a baby. There was an old man that lived next door to us with his own children and grandchildren. He happened to have twin grandchildren. He’d walk them everyday and when he’d see me playing in the front yard, he’d proposition me in his heavy accent, “dollar for baby?”, and I’d run inside begging my mom for a dollar. I would have not brought this story up except for the fact some lady tried selling her 3 year old on Craigslist. You can read the story here. You have to admire her ingenuity. I mean if you buy can anything from a prostitute to a lamp on Craigslist, why not a baby? Or better yet, a toddler? There’s one way to combat the terrible twos/threes. Craigslist, for the win. And because you can’t win them all, she’s pregnant again.
-Listening to this record by Paul Simon over and over and over again. It’s one of my favorite records. It has some of my most favorite versions of some of my most favorite Paul Simon songs.
-When I googled “Why do moms”, the top three search results today are: 1. kill their children, 2. get postpartum depression, 3. eat the placenta. Yesterday, the top three were 1. yell, 2. do everything, 3. hate video games. It’s my new daily search. Perhaps “sell their children on craigslist” will creep up the ladder soon.
-I know, I know, I’m sharing a lot of trailer renovations. I’ve already alluded to my itchy feet, so what’s new? Check out this renovation. I wish I could smell that cedar through my computer screen. You better believe it made me pop on over to craigslist to find a baby for sale for a little hunt of my own. I may or may not have made a phone call and sent a couple emails.
-I received the sweetest gift in the mail, including a onesie similar to this, a shirt similar to this, and this cutie patootie badge similar to this, from Fritha. You can check out her etsy store here.
-Please welcome my two new sponsors: I’ve worked with Truly Sanctuary in the past and, though I know I shouldn’t be biased, Ron and Beth are two of my favorites. I have a girl crush on Beth. Homegirl is so funny. You must follow along on her instagram feed. I smell a Truly Sanctuary giveaway in the not-so-distant future. Also jumping on board is Melissa from Fawn Over Baby, a beautiful blog for all things baby. I love this nursery that she featured, especially the books in that vintage crate next to that little yellow chair… so cute. She also does fun style boards, like this one for tribal girl finds and this one for the little fellas. Her DIYs are also super sweet. Please help me in showing my sponsors some love. Stop by give em’ a virtual high five.
-Van’s teething. He’s got at least three teeth coming in. It hasn’t affected his sleep at night, but he wakes up crying and has been skipping some naps. Ho hum.
-Oh yes, and lastly, a plea. Votes over on Top Baby Blog have been reset. Care to take a second and click on the link below? I know, I know, broken record over here. Thank you all for your support. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.
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Why Don't You Just Blerg About It?

A Few blog-related things:
-Votes over on Top Baby Blogs have been reset. I finished this last quarter in fourth place. Much love for all the support thus far. If you vote daily, let me know; I’d love to say thank you in a more personal way… but not in a creepy reach out and touch you creepy way. (You can vote by clicking on the link, then on the brown box above the owl on the left, and that’s it, you’re done. Easy peasy).
-It’s been a long time coming, but you may notice the blog makeover that occurred a while back. Both of my page designs have been done by Janet Lurssen Design. She’s a master of her craft, the packaging queen, a design whore.
-Grab a button, share the love. Simply copy the code to ad my button to your site.
-I updated my Links.
-I added Bloglovin’ a while ago. If you use Bloglovin’ and want to follow me there, just click here. You can also follow along on instagram, facebook, or pinterest.
-Want to find out about sponsorship opportunities? Email me: ashley {at} thestorkandthebeanstalk {dot} com.
And, once again, thank you all for the continued support. Every time I read your comments, my heart is warmed. I enjoy this community so much and feel privileged to be able to share bits and pieces of our life with you.

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20/52

A portrait of my husband, once a week, every week, in 2013.
True story: Willy used to have a tramp stamp. And by tramp stamp, I mean he used to have a tattoo on his low back of a
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palm tree and wave. I suppose it was something the Arizona-born kid got when he decided he’d like to call California home. He threw around ideas of what he wanted to cover it up with years later when he decided he no longer liked his little stamp. We were at my parents home when I directed him to this painting of a ship. It’s a painting my parents have had for years and I’ve always loved it. Next thing you know, he comes home with a ship on his back.

I other news, I loved this series or portraits from last weeks entries. A portrait of a portrait? Love it.
Side note: The standings over on Top Baby Blogs have been reset. I finished this last quarter in 4th place, which blows my mind. Thanks to everyone who continues voting. I’d love your vote to maintain my standing. You can vote daily. Thank you for all of your continued support.
You can check out other posts in the series here.

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Hooper Eats.

I guess I should start off by apologizing for not posting anything about Hooper’s eating for a while. I had to take a break from bitching about how awful it is. I was sparing ya’ll from my incessant whining and complaining. It’s bad enough to live it, worse to write about it, and probably annoying to read about. So, I’m excited to have something positive to say.
We’ve called in help.
As in professional help.
Sound extreme? I initially thought so too. Surprised there are professionals that specialize in feeding difficult children? Me too. Best decision I’ve made as a mom thus far? Perhaps. I’d put it right on up there with hiring a cleaning crew
Wondering why we called in the troops? Sit down, grab some coffee, this could take a while.
We made a ton of mistakes; We tried distractions. We tried ultimatums. We tried time outs. Every bite was becoming a battle. Our strategies to get Hooper to eat were always changing and the inconsistency was making us look like babbling idiots. One of the main things I requested from the occupational therapist was a game plan; something Willy and I could both agree on with some sort of, dare I say, evidence based research behind it; because I’m pretty sure duct taping your kid to the chair and force feeding them is not a proven method. And trust me, we were two shakes of a lamb’s tail away from investing in some duct tape. Or super glue. 
Tension at the table. I can’t remember the last time Willy and I had a “Hey, how was your day” conversation at the table. Making sure Hooper ate his food became an obsession on both of our parts and all of our attention and energy was centered on him. It led to arguments between Willy and I as we fought over ways to deal with it. If he ate his dinner, we’d go on with our evenings in good moods. If he didn’t eat his dinner, we’d linger around the table overcome with frustration and anger. The fact that what he ate, or didn’t eat, had any affect on our moods at all was clearly a problem in itself.
Spoon feeding. Having Van around has shed light on just how ridiculous things with Hooper have become. Van happily sits in the highchair and goes about his business feeding himself. We pay little attention to how much he eats. Truthfully, I have no idea how much gets into his mouth and how much is gobbled up by Sarah as it hits the floor. And really, I don’t care. I’ve accepted my role in Hooper’s poor eating and want to take myself out the equation as much as possible now that I have the chance to with Van. I’m confident that he gets what he really needs at the breast anyway, so whatever he grabs off the table is his business. He cries when he wants more and, most of the time, I give him a little more. And that’s the extent of my involvement. It seems odd that he’s totally self-sufficient while I’m on the other side of the table dangling a spoon full of food in front of a child that’s totally capable feeding himself. Again, my problem. Like I said, we’ve made mistakes. 
Organizing our day. We all know Hooper is a fantastic sleeper. So much so that it began to feel that his entire waking hours were spent feeding him. Meals were taking forever. There was one time, for example, that I had to go to Costco. I tried to give him lunch as fast as I could and we left when he was still finishing his last bite. We got in the car, drove to Costco, parked the car, made our way into the store, and as we walked down Aisle 9, he still had the bite of food in his mouth. True story. Are you still questioning my decision to bring in professional help?
I knew it was all wrong, I just didn’t know how to make it right. 
Then came Kary.
I remember, long ago, when I was in a why is hindsight 20/20 kinda relationship. It was one of those relationships that was just not right. Deep down, I knew it wasn’t a good fit because I was reluctant to share much of it with even those closest to me. But, when I did start sharing, I couldn’t believe the words coming out of my very own mouth. Listening to my own words had me shaking my head before I could even get to the end of the story. 
In emailing and talking with Kary, I had a sense of deja vu. That feeling of what the hell have I been doing? came over me. I admitted to Kary that he is totally capable of feeding himself but that we have gotten in the habit on not trusting him to do so. And, at that moment, I wanted to eat my own words.
My best friend is beautiful. I know, off topic, but stay with me. When she got married, she hired this ridiculous guy to come do her makeup. I label him ridiculous because we’re talking about a girl that wears no makeup, does not need to wear makeup, and does not want to wear makeup. And she hired a guy who does makeup for drag queens. Literally. I’m not joking. When I questioned her about it, she said this: I’ll feel more beautiful walking down the isle knowing that a profession helped me get ready. So despite the fact she had him remove the eye liner and that the rejected lash extensions stayed in his makeup box, she walked down the aisle feeling more confident, more beautiful.
Same same, but different. I have an idea of what needs to be done to make things better. I know I need to trust Hooper more and I can see that in my very own telling of the story. But, I also think partnering with a professional will help me become more confident and will help me stay on track. Plus, there’s two of us that needs help; Willy needs to be on board too and the ship were sailing on needs to be driven with both of us, working in concert.
This will be a continuing series because there’s a lot to be said. Please share anything that has worked for you or that you have learned along the way. Have a difficult-to-feed toddler? I feel ya.
Side note: Thanks to everyone who commented on the They come in all shapes and sizes  post. There was some good dialogue and I just finished responding to each comment.
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Bits + Pieces, Mother's Day Weekend

Mother’s Day was more about what I didn’t do than what I did. I didn’t change a diaper. I didn’t cook a meal or clean any dishes. I didn’t feel guilty about taking a nap, which leads me to what I did do: I took a nap, I ate two donuts for breakfast, I got a homemade card (my favorite) and flowers picked from our front yard, I had great cuddle time with Hooper, I wore the same romper two days in a row (I bought it for a buck at Joy’s estate sale), I had my favorite lunch delivered to me while I stayed home in the air conditioned house (it was over 100 degrees here), and had an afternoon pedicure where they served champagne with strawberries. The rest of our time was spent in the water, cuz it feels like summer over here (warning, with summer comes more of my kid’s asses all over your computer screens). By the end of the day, I felt so zapped and it made me a bit weary of our upcoming plans to drive to Arizona where it’s 90 degrees after the sun goes down.
In any event, it was a lovely weekend.
Hope all you Mama’s had a nice time celebrating as well. Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

They come in all shapes and sizes.

I had a conversation with a dear friend who is also breastfeeding. Like me, it’s a love hate relationship. Much like my breastfeeding relationship with Hooper, she expressed concern over how much milk she was giving her baby and if it was enough. I remember these concerns all too well and I probably sound like a broken record talking about it yet again.
I still have the same concerns that I did with Hooper, with Van. The only difference is that all I need for reassurance is to grab Van’s chunky leg. I encouraged my friend to feel good about her decision to breastfeed and reminded her that her baby looks perfectly happy and healthy.
Then the conversation turned to percentiles and I found myself reassuring her that the 50th percentile is a wonderful place to be and found myself diminishing her fears and justifying mine by reminding her that Hooper was, at one time, in the 10th percentile. As we talked, I got on the computer and began searching for a picture of what I remember to be a very scrawny Hooper. And the conclusion I came to was this: He wasn’t ever that scrawny. I think hearing “the 10th percentile” scarred me more than any image of him during that time.
So the take home message is this: They come in all shapes and sizes. Percentiles, smerpentiles. If I had to do it again- because living in hindsight is one of my requests for when that genie pops up- I’d ask our pediatrician not to even share the percentiles with me. In the end, the percentiles did nothing other than cause me unnecessary turmoil.
The first photo above is of Hooper when he was 36 weeks old and in the 10th percentile for weight. The one below that is of Van, in the same week of life, and I believe in the 60th percentile (though, to be honest, I’m not even sure what percentile he is anymore) for weight. I can’t even tell that much of a difference. I know, based on the clothes Van’s wearing, that Van is much larger than Hooper was at his age. But the picture of Hooper certainly doesn’t scream TENTH PERCENTILE out at me.
How do you feel about percentiles? Did hearing your child’s percentiles cause you any unnecessary worry?
Side note: Same house, different kitchen. A reminder that I still need to share our kitchen renovation…

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A Day for the Mama's

Click on each photo above to be taken back to it’s place of origin. 
No image touches me more than a mother with her child. Wishing all the Mama’s out there a Happy Mother’s Day.
Special love going out to my own mom, who has led me more by example than with advice. Mom, it may be true that you spent camping trips washing the dirty dishes under a shitty spicket but, because of it, I love the smell of the mountains.
Special love also going out to Willy’s mom, you raised one fine man. And to my sister-in-law and dearest friend, who are both celebrating their first Mother’s Day.

Dear Hooper & Van, there is nothing I am more proud of than being your mom.
As a side note, my Mother’s Day was made last night when I learned Kelly nominated me for The Dairy Queen award. I had received a mysterious email a while back and had honestly forgotten all about until last night, when another mysterious email appeared with a link. Kelly is the mom I have been donating my extra breast milk to. Well, I haven’t donated it to her, but rather to her son who is just a few months younger than Van. Kelly, my heart is all kinds of warm. Thank you.

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19/52

A portrait of my husband, once a week, every week, in 2013.
I always support things like bachelor parties in theory because, in theory, everyone deserves a break. But the reality is that it’s hard being a single parent and I’m always reminded of this when Willy is gone for more than a day. I get it when it’s work related, but when he’s away for a bachelor party, I always want to greet him with a punch in the face. Not because I’m mad, but because it’s hard when he’s away. In any event, I battled a mean mom funk in the two days he was gone. Nothing seemed to go right; it was one of those weekends where you sit down to pee only to realize no one restocked the toilet paper.
He returned home with what he refers to as his “party glasses” and they are, uh, reflective, to say the least. I thought they were joke glasses; something to be tucked away in his suitcase that’s filled with elephant thong underwear, size 22 tennis shoes, and various wigs (ya, he’s that guy). But no, he wore them to dinner the next night. And he’s quite proud of them too. I mean just look at that smirk on his face. I married a big kid and I love him for it.
In other news, I really enjoyed Haus of Soul’s capture last week. I have fond memories of road trippin’ through White Sands and it’s one place, among many, that I’d really like to return to.
You can check out other posts in the series here.

 

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Hooper & Van

Dear Hooper & Van,
Van, you’re experimenting with new sounds. Oftentimes this means it sounds like there is an Indian in the back of our car. Hooper, you like to copy him by cupping your hand over your mouth and making whatever noise he is making back at him. It’s pretty cute and it’s, truly, the first conversation you two have had.
Hooper, for the most part you’re pretty good at sharing (and by pretty good, I mean that you’re pretty good on your terms. If I ask you to share, you’re not so good). The other day we were at the beach and Van started playing with one of the buckets you were not using. You came over, took the bucket from Van, and moved it about 6 feet away from him. Then you went back to playing with the bucket you were using beforehand.
Van, you long to be a part of Hooper’s world. Hooper, you had the portable vacuum and were pretending to clean up. Van followed you all. over. the. house. while you “cleaned up”. It’s amazing how much interaction can take place in the absence of conversation.
Love,
Mama
Have a funny sibling story? Do share.

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