Thursday, July 29, 2010

I Didn't Want to Breastfeed. And I Didn't.

I didn't want to breast feed.

I had heard stories about it.

I am related to women who had had significant struggles with it and, while they never told me I shouldn't attempt it myself, I was filled with terror at the prospect.

No one actually told me any "good" stories. I became a mommy before most of my friends. The one "mommy friend" I had who had breastfed told me bluntly, "I'm not so sure I'd do it again..."

I was convinced that my husband would never bond with the baby and that I would get no sleep should I choose to breastfeed. The "What to Expect..." Book advised me to get up every two hours and never, ever, even for a moment consider giving the baby anything from a bottle- even expressed breast milk- for a minimum of three weeks. Oh, dear.

I had modesty issues. To be truthful, I was horribly, miserably uncomfortable around women who were breastfeeding their babies, even when they were discreet. I had no problem with it- I would, even then, have defended a woman's right to nurse her baby any and everywhere. But it made me feel awkward. The thought of ever having to *gulp* feed my baby in front of anyone other than my husband made me feel sick and nervous.

I did NOT want to breast feed.

And I didn't.

When nightmares plagued me and I honestly lost sleep over how much I feared breastfeeding, I finally confessed to my obstetrician what I was feeling. She said to me, "Perhaps it's time to forgive yourself and just bottle feed your baby."

It was all I needed to hear.

Bottle-feed I did. I fed my baby boy formula for the first year of his life. He never had a drop of my milk.

And, oh, do I regret it...

What is important, however, is why I regret it.

I do not think my son suffered any ill-effects because of the formula. He was a healthy, thriving baby who was very rarely ill and bonded gloriously with both mommy and daddy. He is incredibly bright and, while exceptionally tall, right where he needs to be on the growth charts.

I regret my reasons for not nursing. I regret that I wasn't better-informed. I wish that I'd done more research and found more people with positive stories to talk to...

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me...

  • ...that nursing is easy for some women? When I decided to nurse my second child, a preemie born at 24 wks, I didn't know what to expect. I was prepared for great challenges. Imagine my surprise when my milk came in fully and plentifully within 24 hours. The same thing happened when my third child was born and I decided to breastfeed exclusively.
  • ...that pumping breast milk and feeding it through a bottle can be an option? For my 4-month early baby, it was critical that she be able to get my milk through alternative means (a tube, in the beginning), but even full-term babies can (if so desired) get their breast milk from a bottle. In addition, there is not a good consensus on how much of an issue "nipple confusion" can be. I will say this much... my preemie daughter- who was tube fed for two months and then bottle fed for a month- successfully latched on and nursed at the breast. (We later had to stop because of micro-aspiration issues, but that had nothing to do with nipple confusion.) Some experts insist you must avoid anything but the breast for at least three weeks. Others are more lenient. Like so many things in life, there is no perfect answer. I will only say that I don't believe anyone should let fear of "nipple confusion" prevent them from breastfeeding.
  • ...that breastfed babies can be good sleepers? My preemie baby had to be tube-fed every four hours, so I can't accurately gauge what kind of sleeper she was. But my third baby? She slept 5- and 6-hour stretches from the get-go and, since she was growing and thriving, that was considered just fine. By twelve weeks, she consistently slept through the night.
  • ...that Daddy can still bond with baby? I will not lie to you all. My husband will tell you that he felt like he missed out a bit with our (breastfed) daughters vs. our (bottle-fed) son. He enjoyed doing all those late-night feedings and snuggling with his boy. BUT... he still cuddled our girls. He still got up and changed their diapers in the night while I used the bathroom and got some water. He was still vitally important and incredibly supportive. He even got up with me when I had to pump through the night in those early preemie days. Trust me... your husband has a vital role even if you choose to breastfeed!
  • ...that I would find my own "comfort level" modesty-wise? I have nursed my daughter in public. I don't do it often... not because anyone has told me not to, but because I still feel a little uneasy with it. In the end, though, I've found that- if the need arose- people were amazingly supportive of me feeding my child. Or at least they pretended to be.
  • ...that breastfeeding can be infinitely easier? It seems like a no-brainer, but I never considered how much time I was "wasting" stumbling down to the kitchen and preparing a bottle for a hungry-in-the-night infant. Simply sitting up in bed and nursing her was so very sweet and simple. Neither one of us had to be "fully" wake.
  • ...that just because others had very real, very legitimate struggles with breastfeeding that didn't mean I would? When you haven't heard the "good side", it's hard to feel encouraged. I wish I had spoken more to my sisters-in-law who had successfully breastfed. I may have felt more confident about giving it a shot then.
  • ...that, quite simply, breastfeeding can be the easy choice for some moms and babies.

I have exclusively formula-fed a baby. I have exclusively pumped for a baby. I have exclusively breastfed a baby. I feel like I can pretty confidently discuss feeding options with a decent bit of experience. I do not, in any way, feel that women who feed their babies formula are bad mommies. How we feed our babies is just one of many, many choices we need to make and there is not one perfect answer for every circumstance. That being said, I want to encourage any of you women who have yet to have a baby to not be scared to try. I want to encourage those of you who have only formula fed to give breastfeeding a try (or another try) should you have another baby. Surround yourself with positive influences and supportive people. Realize that those people won't necessarily be the most vocal breastfeeding advocates... sometimes "lactivists" can be a little too intimidating for people who are scared or struggling. I love women who are passionate about nursing... but I have now successfully nursed and my story "meets their approval"- that makes it easier for me.

It is my wish that you find the perfect feeding situation for you and your baby... I truly believe that, for most (but not all), that can be a happy, nursing relationship.

Most of all, I want you to know all the things that I, in my ignorance, did not.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Three Things You Should Not Say to a Preemie Parent

Last week, I shared three great things you can do to help the parents of a very premature baby. This week, I'd like to clue you in to three things you should avoid saying. For some of you, these may seem obvious. But- please believe me- they have been said. More than once.

  1. "Your baby was born two (three, four, etc) months early? You're SO lucky! All of mine were LATE... it was awful!!"
  2. "Do you ever wish you had made a different choice about, you know, keeping her alive?"
  3. "Well, I guess it was just God's will..."

Now, listen... I believe in God's will as much as the next guy. And, yes, I do believe that there was a reason and purpose for my daughter's early birth. But, here's the thing... when your child is struggling to live and her very survival is a giant question mark each day, well, it's hard to figure out how exactly that is God's plan when you're in the trenches. All preemie parents may not agree with me on that one but, for me, it felt almost accusatory... like, "God's plan for ME was to have four healthy, full-term births. God's plan for YOU was to suffer the near-death of your tiny baby." I'm just saying...

Lest you think you should just avoid speaking to the hyper-sensitive preemie parent, let me leave you with a bonus three things that we love to hear from you:

  1. "He's (she's) beautiful."
  2. "Let me know if you need anything."
  3. "I'll be praying for you."
It's really that simple.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vacation Cereal

I completely and totally stole this idea from my big sister. What can I tell you? She's very wise. And she doesn't have a blog. ;)

Not long ago, I had some 80-cent off coupons for, of all things, Froot Loops. We really don't buy Froot Loops around here. So what did I do with them? Passed them off to my sister.

I did this, not because she makes a habit of feeding her kids sugar-laced breakfast cereal, but because she was about to head off on vacation to stay in a cabin where they'd be buying groceries. And, for my nephews, that meant...

Vacation cereal.

See, two years ago (when I first started this blog, as a matter of fact), we went on a big family trip to Niagara Falls. The hotel where we stayed stocked Froot Loops as one of their breakfast buffet options. Our kids were all unfamiliar with these things! Of course, we let them try them. Unfortunately (ha!), they liked them.

Does this mean they should get sugary cereal all the time? Nope. But my brilliant sister dubbed it "vacation cereal" and that was that. When they go away? They get to eat Froot Loops. At home? They know it's not an option.

Super-sweet cereals are not the end of the world. Neither should they really be everyday fare.

Vacation cereal makes everyone happy. And that works for me.*

*For the record, it also works for her super-organic-healthy-food-loving-pediatrician. He thought it was a wonderful compromise!

Monday, July 26, 2010


These totally didn't come about just because I was bored... or because I had a package of pudding nearing its "best used by" date and, well, I hate to waste... nah, I would never do such a thing. Okay, so maybe I would. But, trust me, my quirkiness is your gain in this case! These "snickerdoodle" type cookies are rich in vanilla flavor and golden color... sure to please young and old alike!


1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package instant vanilla pudding
1 tablespoon milk
1 1/2 cups flour
cinnamon-sugar (just enough for dipping your dough balls)

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla, mixing on low. Add remaining ingredients (except for cinnamon-sugar) in order listed. You should be left with a stiff, golden dough. Roll teaspoonfuls into balls. Dip each ball in cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on greased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with two fingers. Bake for 6 minutes- 3 on lower rack, 3 on upper rack. Remove to racks or brown paper (<-- my method... I got it from my mama!) to cool.

(My batch yielded 39 cookies. I tend to make my cookies on the smallish side so, if you roll bigger balls, expect fewer cookies and a slightly longer bake time!)

This post is linked to:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Menu Plan: 7/25- How Do You Like YOUR Pizza?

That "souped-up tomato soup" was a real hit last week-- I ended up going with option #9. Even my not-a-tomato-fan hubby liked it! This week, there are definitely family faves showing up on the table... Hot & Sour Peanut Noodles, Penne w/ Homemade Queso, and Chicken Marsala, especially! Here's how it looks:


B-Cereal, Yogurt, Juice
L-Blueberry Muffins, Hard-Boiled Eggs
D-Sunday Supper at Bama & Papa's house


B-Oatmeal, Grapes, Milk
L-P, B, & J (made with fresh homemade black raspberry jam), Applesauce, Crackers, Milk
D-Chicken Nuggets, Oven Fries, Green Beans from the garden


B-Blueberry Muffins, Yogurt, Milk
L-Potatoes w/ Broccoli & Cheese, Water
D-Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Corn


B-Cereal, Apples, Milk
L-Hot Dogs, Corn, Water
D-Hot & Sour Peanut Noodles w/ Chicken, Broccoli, & Mushrooms


B-Blueberry Muffins, Cheese, Juice
D-Penne w/ Homemade Queso


B-Smoothies, Fruit
L-Grilled Cheese, Green Beans (from the garden), Milk
D-Pizza w/ Chicken, Tomato, & Onion (one MY very favorite combos!!)


B-Pancakes, Sausage Patties

I told you a couple weeks ago that my "peeps" love bacon and mushroom on a pizza-- this week, we're having one of my faves! What's your favorite way to top a pizza?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, July 23, 2010


One week ago, I drove a feverish, in-pain baby girl to the pediatrician's office. I felt a little foolish. I had just been there two days prior (to diagnose a dairy sensitivity) and I am NOT one to rush off to the doctor's office for "any little thing".

But the fever wasn't going away. And she was doubling over and screaming throughout the day and night. I knew something was wrong with my baby.

Suspecting a urinary tract infection (UTI), they catheterized my sweet girl. Given a choice, I hope never to have to witness such a thing again. But we both survived that.

Early results indicated... no infection.

I was sent back home and told to monitor the fever. The doctor was glad I'd brought her in and never implied I was foolish, but I felt a little silly. I really, really am not even close to a hypochondriac; multiple ped visits are not my M.O. Still, I was relieved.

The fever climbed. The pain continued. Soothing a glassy-eyed baby girl with a fever of 103 at 3 in the morning early Sunday, my husband and I knew... there WAS something wrong. No cold symptoms. No signs of a tummy bug. No pulling at the ears. Something was going on...

Back to the doctor we went on Monday morning...

And learned that the lab cultures had grown: it IS a UTI.

What does that mean? Antibiotics and some further tests. I'm a little nervous about those, but I have faith that it will all work out, no matter what the results. The doctor had told us to pray it was NOT a UTI since they can be more serious in babies...

But you know what?

The biggest thing I felt when the diagnosis was made was... RELIEF. Because not knowing was killing us. Not knowing wasn't getting our baby better. Not knowing meant she would continue to sob and writhe with pain even while nursing.

KNOWING means we can act. It means we can figure it out. It means we can help her feel better.

KNOWING is a finer thing.

This post is linked to Finer Things Friday.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Three Things You Should Know A Micropreemie Parent Needs From You

One of the questions I'm most frequently asked is this:

What can I do for my friend/neighbor/sister/co-worker who just had a baby born at 24-/25-/26- weeks?

Here are a few things:

  1. Acknowledge the birth. Do whatever you would have done had the baby been born full-term. If you planned to give a card, do so. If you would have felt the occasion merited a gift, give one. As micropreemie parents, we are well aware that our babies may not make it. But, for now, we are just the parents of a newborn and would appreciate the same joy and excitement that other parents get.
  2. Offer clear and specific help. Do you know how bleary-eyed and foggy-minded people sometimes get with a new baby? Take that times ten or so. Micropreemie parents are sometimes so overwhelmed it's hard to even think of what needs to be done when people ask us, kindly, "What can I do?" Offer to babysit older siblings, feed pets, watch the house, drive a post-c-section mom to the hospital. If you think they could use it, offer it.
  3. Provide snacks. The full meals we love to deliver- complete with reheating instructions- to new moms just don't work so well for micropreemie parents. But snacks are a blesssing! It's so easy to forget to eat when you're caught up in the madness of the NICU, but it's still so important for mom and dad to keep their energy up... especially a new mom who's nursing/pumping. Need ideas? Here are a few.

So there you go. What can you do? Any of the above are most welcome! Help me out, fellow micropreemie 'rents... what things can others do to help?

And what can you teach me this week? Despite the fact that absolutely no one participated last week, I am pushing forward! I am convinced I have readers with oodles of knowledge to share...

My Fave Commercials EVER: #1

As those of you who follow me on Twitter already know, my youngest child- my 13mo baby girl- has been rather sick. She's finally fever-free, but things are still a little unsettled around here. I've decided that, for days like this when I just don't have the energy or clarity to craft a decent post, I will share some of my very favorite commercials with you. Maybe you've seen them, maybe you haven't... either way, let me know what you think!

For today...

My favorite diaper ad. Ever. Marketing genius, people...

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Ten Favorite Things to Add to Tomato Soup

Fact: I don't like plain tomato soup.

Guess what? I LOVE tomato soup that's been "souped up"!

Here are my ten favorite ways to "soup up" simple tomato soup. (I start with very basic canned soup here... I have no doubt the soup would be tastier if it were all from scratch. But let me keep it real for you. Open the can of Campbell's and proceed...)

  1. Pasta- I love cooking up a handful of macaroni, rotini, or penne and tossing that in. Soup tastes so much more filling when there's something to bite!
  2. More Tomatoes- If I have a partial can of diced tomatoes left over, I love to toss them in tomato soup. Somehow it tastes more "authentic" with those 'maters in there!
  3. Gorgonzola Cheese- Ooh, boy, is this ever tasty melted into tomato soup. It's a strong flavor, but the tomato mellows it out. Your soup tastes much fancier with gorgonzola in it!
  4. Fresh Basil- Fresh herbs add so much flavor and brightness to a dish. A simple cup of soup is, well, elevated by a few sprigs of basil!
  5. Goldfish Crackers- What's better than a little crunch? Saltines get soggy too fast. Oyster crackers can be boring. And you know what? Goldfish come in Cheddar, Pizza, Parmesan... lots of yummy options!
  6. Crumbled Bacon & Cheddar- How do you get boys to think of tomato soup as reasonable food? Add meat. And cheese.
  7. Monterey Jack & Jalapeno slices- I love a good kick in the pants from my lunch!
  8. Sauteed Mushrooms & Brie- This here is froufy, French-y, girly yumminess. I like it in a fluted, flowered bowl.
  9. Plain Ol' Cream Cheese- Have you tried this? Melt in some cream cheese. Add some dried Italian seasoning if you're feeling ambitious. So rich and delicious... much creamier than just making the soup with milk.
  10. Cubed Mozzarella & Diced Pepperoni- Toss those in with some dried oregano and you wind up with pizza in a bowl. Great flavor and very kid friendly!
I didn't even get to mention all the lovely ways beans can liven up a bowl of tomato soup! But you get the picture. Think outside the can...

This post is linked to:

Menu Plan: 7/18- College Fast Food Throw-Back!

This week is easy on my oven... because it's steamy in these here parts! But, since "Connecticut summers are so mild you don't need central air" (*ahem*... really?), we only have a couple window units. If ever I talk about moving... please tell me you all will remind me that, yes, I do need central air!


B-Cereal, Applesauce, Milk
L-Migas, Fruit
D-We got "free kids' meal" coupons from our local grocery story and took the kids to Friendly's... it is a very rare event around here to go out for supper. We had fun! And C. was utterly fascinated by the "pink" (strawberry) milk. (Blech!)


B-Oatmeal, Yogurt, Juice
L-P, B, & J (made with fresh homemade black raspberry jam), Applesauce, Pretzels, Water
D-Seafood Crepes


B-PB Toast, Applesauce, Milk
L-Corn Tortilla & Egg Roll-Up, Berries, Water
D-Ground Turkey, Red Onion & Bleu Cheese Burgers on Homemade Pitas


B-Oatmeal, Watermelon, Milk
L-Pitas w/ Melted Cheese (I used to order these from the fast-food place "Miami Subs" all the time back in my college days... they were cheap and yummy!), Raisins, Water
D-Breakfast Pizza (new to me!)


B-Cinnamon Toast, Yogurt, Juice
L-Noodles, Grapes, Milk
D-"Souped-Up" Tomato Soup, Italian Cheese Bread


B-Smoothies, Toast
L-Cheese Bread, Green Beans (from the garden), Milk


B-Scrambled Eggs w/ Bacon, Toast, Cantaloupe (from the store... but I should have cantaloupe starting fairly soon in the garden!)
D-Chicken & Rice Tostadas

I'll let you know some of my favorite ways to "soup up" my tomato soup tomorrow. What fun things are you making or trying this week?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where to Find Replacement Balls for the Playskool Busy Ball Popper

Long ago, I wrote about how much our family loves the Playskool Busy Ball Popper. Three babies have played with it so far and it is- by far- a favorite around here.

Readers agreed! They didn't much like chasing the balls down for their children (that's what older siblings are for! ;)), but they loved theirs too.

Months later, I laughingly shared with you all how "Playskool Busy Ball Popper replacement balls" is one of the top search terms that lands on my site. What a disappointment for all those people... I definitely didn't answer that question in my post!

I'm here to answer it now, folks.

Should you be in possession of a Busy Ball Popper with missing balls, you can go here , fill out the form and, for $4.00, get a set of five replacement balls in a bag. Much cheaper than buying a whole new toy (at $24.99).

There. Don't say I never helped you out. ;)

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

(Incidentally, whenever you find yourself in this situation, the easiest first step is to go to the manufacturer's website and find the link for customer service. Sometimes they'll have a section for "missing parts". Otherwise, fill out the contact form and someone will email you back!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Three Things You Should Know About Ronald McDonald House

When our little girl was born almost four months early, we were blessed to be at one of the top NICUs in the country. We were also two hours from home. Would it have been feasible to drive four hours each day to visit her? No. Would it have been possible to afford a hotel for, as it turned out, exactly ONE HUNDRED nights? Not really. Where did we turn? The Ronald McDonald House.

At the Indianapolis RMH (the one where we stayed):

  1. The average stay is 13.8 nights. Blessedly, many families only need a couple nights there while their children heal. Families like ours, with stays in the triple digits, push the average up. Once you have a room, you are guaranteed a room until your child is discharged. There's amazing comfort in that.
  2. In one calendar year (2009), 1,777 families from Indiana were served. An additional 118 families from 21 other states and 7 families from 6 other countries also called the RMH home.
  3. The estimated cost per night to provide a room is $74. Families are asked to contribute $10/night. The average family is able to pay $3.62/night. We were happy to pay the $10/night but, when they learned just how long we were staying, the managers reduced our "bill" to $5/night. We were so, so blessed to have a place to live that cost us $500 for 3 1/2 months.

I simply cannot tell you all the amazing things about the Ronald McDonald House in one short article. If you're interested in knowing more, you may want to check out these posts:

What questions do you have about Ronald McDonald House Charities? I'll do my best to answer them in the comments!

What can you teach us all about this week? What 3 Things do you think we should know? Link up below! Please be sure your link goes directly to your post and that you include a link back here so everyone else can find us and share the knowledge!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Letting Corn Syrup Have Its Place

This whole "corn syrup debate" has gotten to be too much for me.

I've pondered. I've considered. I've wavered. And here's what I've realized...

I am neither ready to sign on to the whole "corn syrup is the devil" movement or to agree with the "it's natural, it's fine, it's no problem" campaign.

Here are my thoughts on corn syrup...

It's not good for you. This much is obvious to me. It's not good for you because it has no nutritional value. But neither does refined white sugar... and I don't mind saying that I'm not personally ready to give that up.

It's trendy to boycott "HFCS". I'm not trying to insult any of you who are truly adopting all natural, healthy diets-- I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about all the hoards of people who consume all manner of processed, unnatural, unhealthy foods but who have decided that high fructose corn syrup is the root of all evil.

Sometimes science is wrong. I do not in any way expect to find out that corn syrup holds some unknown health benefits... but I would not be surprised to learn in the future that it ends up being healthier than some alternative. It was not all that long ago that people slapped a nasty label on eggs and warned against eating them... or that "experts" told us margarine was so much better for us than butter.

Corn syrup is in too many foods. And this is what it comes down to for me... I have decided that I am just not ready to get all bent out of shape over the corn syrup in the marshmallows on my children's s'mores. Or in my husband's glass of Coke. Or in the homemade candy my mother makes. Quite honestly, corn syrup makes sense in those things. Doesn't make it good for us, but it's not unexpected to find it in super-sweet candy-type things. That works fine for me. We limit consumption of those things anyhow.

But corn syrup in my salad dressing? In my taco seasoning pouch? In a marinade? These things make no sense to me. These things irritate me. THIS is why I believe HFCS has become a problem in our diets... because it shows up in "non-sweet" foods. I'm making a conscious effort to try to avoid having my family consume excessive corn syrup in "hidden" places.

Corn syrup in a popsicle? Ok. Fine. That actually works for me. Corn syrup in a tortilla? Not so much.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Death By Chocolate

... because, really, what better way is there to go? ;)

1/2 chocolate cake, baked according to 9x13" directions, cut into strips (It is easiest to use a cake mix for this recipe, but "from scratch" would taste awesome too. It's good to freeze the other half a cake... this makes your "second batch" of Death By Chocolate a real breeze!!)
1 package chocolate pudding, prepared
3 cups Cool Whip (or equivalent whipped cream- Cool Whip is easier... it's also not really cream. Use whatever your little heart desires!)
4 full-size (or about a dozen mini) candy bars of your choice (our faves are Heath, Butterfinger, or York peppermint patties!), chopped or crushed

Layer ingredients in glass bowl in order listed to form 2-3 full layers (number of layers will just depend on the dimensions of your bowl- some are wider, some are deeper), ending with crushed candy. Store chilled until serving. :)

This is such a fun summertime dessert! So many times, "warm weather sweets" are all fruity... and there's nothing wrong with fruit. But when you're ready for something a little more decadent and still refreshing on a hot day? This is a good one to try!

photo credit (This is NOT my picture- because my memory card is still in, ahem, INDIANA- but it looks very similar to how my recipe turns out!)

This post is linked to:

Menu Plan: 7/11- The Heat is On!

I was tempted to just call this "Amy week" as I typed out the first couple days, but some other great bloggers are represented too. :) Enjoy the yumminess!

B-Cereal, Yogurt, Juice
D-No idea... we may (gasp) get take-out...


B-Oatmeal, Berries, Milk
L-P, B, & J (made with fresh homemade black raspberry jam), Yogurt, Water
D-Tater Tot Casserole (I add usually add corn to this, but I think I'll do peas this time since my garden is producing a second round of them!)


B-PB Baked Oatmeal, Apples, Milk
L-Ham Sandwiches, Crackers, Juice
D-Pizza Omelets w/ Pepperoni, Black Olives, Tomatoes, Onion, etc.


B-Cereal, Yogurt, Juice
L-Cheese Quesadillas, Berries, Water
D-Corn Dog Muffins, Baked Beans, Pickles


B-Oatmeal, Raisins, Milk
L-Ham Sandwiches, Apples, Water
D-Italian Burgers w/ Pasta, Broccoli (a twist on "spaghetti & meatballs"... I'll let you know how it goes!)


B-Smoothies, Fruit
L-Ramen Noodles, Apples, Milk
D-Broccoli & Garlic White Pizza on an Herb-Seasoned Crust


B-French Toast, Fruit

What fun things are you making or trying this week?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Make a List, Check it Twice

Those of you who know me in real life know that I completely defy the Connecticut norm... I spend less on one month's groceries for my family of five than many spend on one week's. There are a lot of reasons for this. One of them is my commitment to try to use coupons and still buy things that we actually use. Another is the fact that I do almost all of my shopping in one bulk monthly trip. But one of the biggest reasons I can stay right around $200/month despite living in one of the highest cost of living states in the union?

I make lists.

And that's my frugal tip of the day for you all.

Make lists. Detailed lists. Know exactly what you need and what you plan to get and do not waver. If you find that you forgot something, try to live without it. If you're not used to making lists, if you're one of those people who likes to "go to the store and see what looks good", this can be hard at first. You'll find, though, over time, it gets super easy. Your eyes don't even wander. You develop tunnel vision for the items on your list.

And, that, my friends, can save you a whole lot of money.

(Note: Someone is bound to point out that you need to keep your eyes open for amazing markdowns and discounts that may not have been adverstised- this is true. However, I will go so far as to recommend that- until you get "list shopping" down pat- you even let those deals go for a little while. Just my opinion.)

This post is linked to Frugal Friday where you can find tons of good tips!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Three Things You Should Know About Breastfeeding A Preemie

  1. Premature labor triggers the same shift in hormones that full-term labor does, thus cueing mom's body to start producing milk. It was shocking and amazing to me that, despite never even really looking pregnant, I was able to pump colostrum and, within 24 hours, measurable ounces of milk. (Note: I am a woman whose milk fully comes in within that first day- this is neither usual nor necessary.)
  2. The breast milk produced by preemie moms differs fairly significantly from that of full-term moms. Some neonatologists theorize that the breast milk of preemie moms contains higher levels of white blood cells, antibodies, and other valuable immune properties that may help a premature baby resist infection.
  3. For moms of very premature babies, "breastfeeding" really means "pumping". It takes a huge commitment to decide to pump every 2 to 3 hours for weeks, perhaps months, before there's even a chance your baby can attempt to nurse at the breast. For moms whose premature labor was caused by issues with their own health, this can be even more challenging.

What would you like more people to know about? What can you teach me? Link up with your own "Three Things You Should Know..." post so we can all be a little more informed!

(I've just opened up "Three Things You Should Know Thursday" as a meme, but I've actually been writing them for a long time! To see some of my "Three Things..." archives, just head here.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Three Things You Should Know Thursdays

There are a few of you who have been with me since way back in the day... way back when I used to do a piece every week entitled "Three Things You Should Know Thursday". It was a good feature for me to do because it enabled me to teach you all a little bit about micropreemies in a nice, brief format.

Well... guess what???

As of this Thursday... IT'S BACK!

But it's going to be better than ever now.

Because I want YOU to teach me some things. Share "Three Things" we should know about any topic at all that is near and dear to you! "Three Things You Should Know About Embroidery"? Perfect! "Three Things You Should Know About Homeschooling a Kindergartener"? Bring it on! Whatever you've got- I'm game. As long as there are three things, it's Thursday, you link to your post and not the main page, and you link back over here, you're right on track!

A linky will go live with my "Three Things" post on Wednesday night. Won't you come join me and teach me a few things? Spread the word, if you're so inclined... the more the merrier!

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

I'm trying something new tonight... and I'm kind of nervous about it. Here's what's cooking in my crockpot at the moment:

4 skinless chicken thighs
1 cup cola
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic

Apparently, I'm to leave that in there on low for 8 hours and then shred it and toss with barbecue sauce. We plan to eat it on sandwiches along with fresh lettuce from the garden. We'll see how it turns out!

Have any of you done your barbecue with soda before? (I've heard Dr. Pepper works too but, truth? I think Dr. Pepper tastes like fizzy cough syrup...)

This post is linked to:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Menu Plan: 7/4- Happy 4th of July!

Happy Independence Day! I'm declaring independence from hot, rich foods and trying out a few new recipes in the process! To those of you who scoff at my soup on the menu ("It's July, JessieLeigh, what is wrong with you???"), I say this- Italian Wedding Soup is delightfully light and perfectly appropriate this time of year... especially when made with fresh garden spinach.

B-Cereal, Applesauce, Milk
L-Cocoa Rolls, Sausage Links
D-Burgers on the grill w/ Buffalo Sauce- bleu or mozzerella, depending on individual taste (mine will be BLEU, no doubt!), Oven Fries


B-Bagels w/ cream cheese, Organic orange juice (given to me for free at a local grocer when I stopped by to pick up two bottles of ketchup for 19 cents... nice deal!)
L-P, B, & J (made with fresh homemade black raspberry jam), Applesauce, Pretzels, Milk
D-Cookout at Bama & Papa's (I think ribs are on the menu? Everyone (else) will be thrilled! ;))


B-PB Toast, Berries (from my yard), Milk
L-Chili Dog Baked Potatoes, Water
D-BBQ Chicken Sandwiches topped with lettuce from the garden


B-Oatmeal, Grapes, Milk
L-BBQ Chicken & Noodles, Corn, Water
D-Lynn's Taco Pasta


B-Cinnamon/Sugar Toast, Yogurt, Juice
L-Cheesy Beans & Rice, Milk
D-Pigs in Blankets, Corn


B-Smoothies, Toast
L-Scrambled Eggs, Crackers, Fruit, Milk
D-Bacon & Mushroom Pizza (the fave pizza of all my peeps... my fave will be coming up later in the month!)


B-Bacon, Egg, & Cheese English Muffin Sandwiches
D-Italian Wedding Soup, Grilled Cheese

I realized that, since we'll be out of town all weekend, I won't be able to do my usual "every 4 week" Aldi trip. As a result, next week's menu plan will be strictly "eating out of the pantry". Since my pantry is not exactly stuffed right now, it could get interesting. Be sure to come back to see what I come up with!

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

America the Beautiful

Something I'm pondering and praying on today...

"O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law"
-America the Beautiful

I struggle, on an almost-daily basis, with much of what's happening, politically, in our great country right now. While I look to the future and have hopes of great change through different leadership, I must also remember...

God mend thine every flaw.

More than anything, I must trust in my true leader.

God Bless you all on this Independence Day!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sleep-Training, NICU-Style

My youngest, Baby G, is going through a phase. A "bad-sleeper" kind of a phase. For whatever reason (teeth? sunburn? growth spurt? random development shift?), she is not the super sleeper she once was. I'm not writing this to rant about that. Truthfully, it hasn't been that bad for me. She still naps and she'll sleep like a rock at night... so long as it's right next to her mama's side. While I'm not a "co-sleeper" by nature, we'll make it through this stage...

When I think back, my first-born was a super sleeper too. But he, like G, had a couple of phases that required some extra "mama attention". I remember them as being tough times. I even remember a stretch where I feared he would never sleep more than six hours a night ever again. But he did. We made it through.

She had no such phases as a baby.

We never had to even have a real "routine" to get C to sleep (though we did)... we could simply place her in her bed and she'd go to sleep. This was kind of a blessing since she was hooked up to so many tubes and machines... pacing, going for a drive, or even rocking would have been complicated.

Was it just her temperament? No... I don't think so. She's arguably the feistiest of my children. She can be demanding, defiant, and is sometimes prone to crying fits.

But she'd just go to sleep.

Why? Because she'd been inadvertently "sleep-trained" by three and a half months in the NICU.

And that makes me sad if I think about it too much.

I should probably point out before I go on that I am NOT a cry-it-out kind of a mama. I'm not judging (and I realize that it works well for some), but I cannot do it. I don't have the strength to hear my babies sob and not go to them. I also don't really like the idea of my baby eventually stopping crying not so much because she's not sad anymore but because she has learned that, even if she cries, I will not come. I'm sorry if that view offends any of you, but I cannot help the fact that that is how I perceive it.

At my home, a crying baby is a priority. Can I always get there immediately? No. Sometimes it takes me a moment. But that crying baby is near, if not at, the top of my list.

But at the NICU? Understandably, a crying baby often has to wait... sometimes long enough to just give in and fall asleep. This is because the nurses are doing their JOBS... they are attending to babies whose health hangs in the balance... babies who are sometimes in great distress and truly, truly need immediate attention. The NICU nurses I know are amazing people who enjoy snuggling and soothing the babies... I have no doubt they would try to comfort each crying baby if they could. They just can't all the time.

And so, those babies who spend a long stint in the NICU often come out "sleep-trained".

Was it nice to have a baby who self-soothed so easily?

I guess so.

I just wish I didn't have to wonder if she just didn't trust that I'd come...