Ultimate DIY bundle – 2 day sale

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase this product,  I will receive a small commission for the sale at no additional cost to you.

Are you addicted to watching HGTV like me? If so, you might be interested in checking out this DIY bundle of e-books, packaged together in this awesome Ultimate DIY Bundle. This is the perfect time to work on those 2015 goals you made to learn a new skill. Check out all the great books included in the bundle!

Overnight Oatmeal – With Lactation Goodness

I recently learned that you can make oatmeal overnight in the fridge. I’ve been struggling with making oatmeal in the morning – you know, the non-instant kind, to boost my breastmilk supply. I don’t have the time to stir it on the stove and it just explodes to death when I try to cook it in the microwave. Overnight oatmeal to the rescue! Rather than baking lactation cookies with all the calories, this is an alternative with similar ingredients. I like to make it in a Mason jar and make more than one serving at a time.

Overnight Oatmeal for Lactation

Ingredients (one serving):

  • 1/3 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp brewer’s yeast
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup Craisins

Directions:

Mix the oats, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast, and brown sugar thoroughly. Add the milk, stirring to ensure an even mixture (you don’t want the brewer’s yeast to clump). Place in a sealed container overnight in the refrigerator.

You can add other ingredients to give it more flavor, like cinnamon, vanilla, etc. Mix it up and make it your own. So if lactation cookies have worked for you, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t. Also, let’s not forget that oatmeal is just really good for you overall. So even if you’re not trying to maintain your breastmilk supply, this is a good option for breakfast.

A Day In The Life

Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up I noticed I was late
– A Day In The Life – The Beatles

The awesome Trish at Love Laughter Insanity came up with a fun blogger event: share a day in the life. I picked March 13th (which happens to be Friday the 13th – and a month before my birthday) to keep track of my daily happenings. Why that day? Well, it was the day after Trish’s post, so the topic was fresh in my mind. Also, I wanted to pick a working day to think about how my “working Mom” title is working out.

Ok so maybe I’m not creative enough to make a song about my day – I teased you there for a moment with the Beatles song lyrics, didn’t I? So here’s a day in my life.

Starting with the clock turning over to the new day, I guess it makes sense to include the nightly baby time. Baby H woke up around 1 am, which means guess who (me) woke up too. He wasn’t really hungry, barely ate anything, but took a while to settle down back to sleep. My little hippo is a lot of trouble. Then he woke up again around 4, this time he ate about 6 oz before going back to sleep.

I was so tired that I snoozed my pumping alarm and my regular alarm at 6am, but then Baby H woke up so I took him out of the bedroom with me while I pumped at the table, still in my pajamas, and he sat next to me in the bouncy chair, still in his pajamas. Maybe that would have been a good time to nurse him rather than pump, but then we’d still be sitting there lol. So I pumped into the same bottles from work the previous day and just gave him one of those since it was warming up anyway. He’s making attempts at holding his own bottle, so I let him sit in the bouncy chair and attempt to drink while I got ready quickly. Friday is my no makeup day so at least I saved a little time there. (Meanwhile hubby is still sleeping, since he has Fridays off.) Then, finally dressed, I went and changed him, let the dogs out and fed them, and prepared my breakfast (oatmeal with the lactation goodness of brewer’s yeast and flax, not that it really works for me). I like to hold Baby H in the mornings while I eat, so we sat on the couch and snuggled a bit. I then put him back in his bed and fed him the rest of his bottle and he fell back asleep. I figured he could use a nap anyway before his appointments that my husband was taking him to later that morning. Then I refilled his diaper bag and got myself ready for work.

I drove for about an hour, which is quite nice since Fridays see less traffic. Yes, it takes me about an hour and a half to go 30 miles, thank you Houston. I listened to my audio book on the drive and I finished the chapter and my coffee in the garage at work since I didn’t want to get out just yet. I spent the day responding to project-related emails, testing changes in the environmental management system in preparation of the Greenhouse Gas reporting, and providing comments on a word document having to do with the Discharge Monitoring Report custom report also created in the environmental management system. I also took two pumping breaks and did some blog stuff on my breaks. Gotta find time to squeeze in all of the to-do list somewhere.

Woot then I called it a weekend and drove home. I finished my audiobook on the drive and made a mental note to write a review for the book blog. Hubby had been trying to get some work done on his truck but Baby H was having none of that so as soon as I got home I took over and he went out to use what daylight was left. I put Baby H in his stroller and went for a walk with him until it got dark and hubby was done and it was dinner time. I’m so happy the days are longer finally so I can start walking after work. So hubby and I cooked ourselves a yummy dinner (we had tilapia with veggies), fed dogs, nursed the hippo. Then it was bath time, which is a family effort. Hubby got the water ready in his little tub and I undressed him and got his stuff together. Then I bathed Baby H and dried him and snuggled with him because he is seriously the cutest thing in those hooded towels while hubby emptied the heavy baby tub. Then I read Baby H Goodnight Moon as I got him ready for bedtime and fed him a bottle. Finally when Baby H was asleep I could go change and get myself ready for sleepy time. This was around 11pm so that was my day. Phew, I’m tired just thinking about it.

Day-in-the-Life-Event

Spring Cleaning Your Home Office – Tips and To Do List

One of my goals for 2015 is to organize my home, to include our home office. We have a room with a big lovely desk and yet everything is still in boxes in the closet from our move (which was over a year ago). Since spring is finally upon us, and the baby is no longer a newborn, it might be time to get going on those goals and work some organization and spring cleaning into my life. Below is my plan aka to-do list aka wishlist (because let’s be honest, I need a wife to help me get all this done).

Tips to Spring Clean you Home Office

Spring Clean the Home Office Files

I haven’t filed a thing since moving into this house, so my filing cabinets have piles next to them of all the paperwork that has come in. There’s a lot of house sale/purchase documents and medical documents from when baby was born as well as anything else that has come up over the year. And it just sits there, in piles. So my immediate to-do item in the home office is to find a home for those papers or shred them and dispose of them.

Tips for organizing filing cabinets:

  • Make use of file folders and labels. Make a folder for each type of document (i.e. Home Mortgage documents, Insurance documents, etc.) I typically  make a folder by business name, so if I have two home mortgages, each one gets their own folder. I have streamlined our bill payments so everything is electronic, but we still have original contracts in print, and any initial documents with our account number that need to go in the filing cabinets.
  • Have a plan for each drawer. Some people like to alphabetize the entire cabinet. Me, I like to go by type of file. I have a separate drawer for house paperwork and related bills, a separate folder for all our medical documents, a separate drawer for car purchases, sales, and repair, a separate drawer for taxes, and so forth. I have one short cabinet and one tall cabinet and so far that system has worked well.
  • Place files in their appropriate locations immediately. Do not do what I did and have a year worth of documents staring you down and making you put off the task even longer.

Spring Clean the Computer(s)

I have been using various laptops in various locations for blogging, banking, etc. I have one old (slow) laptop that has all our financial documents and photographs, a newer laptop without much on it yet, but I mostly use my work laptop in the kitchen since it is faster and more convenient sometimes. I need to back up everything on my older laptop and start organizing it on the newer one.  I have a large external hard drive where I plan to backup everything new since the last time, and then I only plan to copy the files I use on a semi-regular basis and the photos to the newer laptop.

Tips for organizing the computer files:

The lovely folks at SingleHop have come up with this 3-week plan to clean up our computers. I like how the plan breaks the daunting task into something more manageable by having one item to do each day. SingleHop_Calendar

I’m happy to say the files on the older laptop are already organized like described in “week 1″ so I’m already ahead of the game! I have folders inside folders and just about everything has a place. I’ve already started making use of a cloud system since I’m not always on the same device. My day-to-day personal spreadsheets are kept on Google Drive so I can access them on any browser at work or at home.

Spring Clean and Declutter the Home Office in General

When we moved the lovely office furniture in the room, we stuck all the boxes from our move into the closet of the bedroom we’re using as the home office. So now I unable to get to most of them since they are piled on top of each other. These items had a place where they belonged in our previous house, so they need the same here. Some of the items will remain in boxes since they came from my work office when we moved, and I don’t plan on carrying them back into my work’s new office. These reference binders can stay stored until they are needed. But what about everything else?  I have boxes of photos that need to go on the wall, knick-knacks that used to sit on shelves, photo albums, and I don’t even remember what else. They all need a place where they belong.

Tips for organizing the home office.

  • Utilize shelving and cabinets to organize binders, photo albums, etc.
  • Utilize bins and containers for miscellaneous items that do not otherwise stack well (such as office supplies).
  • Use areas of the room for specific tasks, and keep all related items together. For example, store check books where you pay bills.
  • Create an “inbox” for items that need to be processed but keep important action items separate from things that only need to be dealt with eventually.
  • Allow yourself to get rid of papers you don’t need (shred items with sensitive information).

Well, there we have it, my to-do list/wishlist with tips and ideas for how to accomplish said to-do list. Do you have any suggestions to share?

Our method to be up less at night with baby

Be Up Less With Baby at Night

While I was on maternity leave, I got up with Baby H every night since hubby had to get up for work in the morning and I got to “stay home and take naps”. Since my little hippo is always hungry hungry, we would be up all the time. At the time, he was eating every 2.5-3 hours and hadn’t really started any longer stretches at night. But being up took seriously over an hour to an hour and a half sometimes. Changing a diaper, nursing (with him passing out super hard and then waking back up when I tried to put him down and screaming for more), then being given his formula chaser to finally fill him up, and rocking him so he would relax and go to sleep. I’ve mentioned before about my struggle breastfeeding him, even when I tried all the lovely tips people had to boost lactation, I didn’t see much of an increase. I was able to weigh him before and after nursing at breastfeeding support group, and it was clear that he got an average of 2 oz, sometimes 3 on a really good day. Well since he was eating 4-5 oz per feeding, he always got what I call a formula chaser after nursing.

When my maternity leave ended and I returned to work, I immediately got sick from the lack of sleep. I just couldn’t do it so I started skipping the nightly nursing to save time (since that usually takes the longest time, at least 45 minutes). I would then get up early and pump while Baby H was still asleep. When hubby started picking up a few nightly shifts and understood just how difficult our nights were and how little sleep I got, he came up with a great method that dropped us from over an hour to under 30 minutes.

The plan to be up less at night with baby

His idea was to give Baby H the full feeding amount formula in a bottle while he is still laying in his cradle, and let him fall back asleep. Rather than picking the baby up to feed him elsewhere and waking him up even more by changing his diaper, we would just let him remain laying down and he would fall asleep much faster. And it works!

Baby H sleeps in a cradle in our bedroom and we start put him down for “the night” when we finish dinner and start getting ready to go to bed. With me getting home around 7 and hubby getting home around 8, dinner ends late for us. We start with a bath around 9 or so, then a bedtime story, a final feeding, and usually we get him asleep by 10:30 or 11pm. Then I get to make the decision: shower or sleep? Now when he wakes up around 1am and 4am, or sometimes just once at 3 am, one of us (well, usually me since my husband seems to be able to sleep through all that screaming) gives Baby H his bottle and gets him back to sleep. Then we (I) go back to bed to catch a few more precious winks until I get up around 5:45 am to pump.

This may not be quite what Baby H wants, since he loves to be held and snuggled, but it gets us through the night with as much sleep as we can possibly get. Sure, Baby H’s diaper is huge in the morning, and I bet that isn’t too comfortable, but he doesn’t seem to mind it since he goes back to sleep fairly easily after eating, and he only seems to wake from hunger. The few random (and a bit scary) occasions when he slept through from 11-5 on his own, his diaper was just as full. My hope is he will soon start skipping the early morning feedings and will eventually sleep through the night for real. I mean, it has to happen right? He’s getting older and eventually infants can be weaned from night feedings. He gets plenty of food during the day so his 17 pound 4-month hippo body doesn’t need the extra food at night. He wants it, but he doesn’t need it, and I hope he learns that soon. Has anyone done a similar nightly plan?

Does anyone have any tips for “nights with baby” to share? Has anyone done a similar nightly plan?

March is #ReadAloud Month

PulseMessagesMarch

 

You know I’m a reader (right? I even have a separate book blog) and I would love to raise Baby H to be a reader as well. I love this campaign going on during the month of March. If you’re following me on Twitter, you’ll see I’ve been tweeting these lovely cards daily.

Read aloud 15 minutes, every child, every parent, every day. #readaloud

We try to read with Baby H every night before putting him to bed. One of my lovely book clubs gave me this basket full of books and we’ve been cycling through them.
IMG_20140914_165021149

I’ve also been downloading some freebie children’s books on my Kindle app on my cellphone to try out and Baby H enjoys those too because they are colorful and bright. Hubby also has found some YouTube animated books for them to watch together.  Baby H is enjoying story time so far so I hope he’ll be as addicted to books as I am.
PulseMessagesMarch

 

#DearMe: Advice to my younger self

March 8th = International Women’s Day. We don’t really acknowledge this holiday in the US as much as we should, but hopefully with time and more social media it will become more mainstream. My Mom and I like to wish each other a happy Women’s Day :)

This year’s theme is Make It Happen, “encouraging effective action for advancing and recognizing women.” I came across this lovely social media campaign called #DearMe from 2JustByou and thought it would be fun to participate. The prompt is:

If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be? What kind of support would you give yourself in just a sentence or two?

I previously listed 10 things I would love to tell my 16-year-old self, so I have selected one of those to highlight today.

#DearMe Empower Younger Self

 

If you want to create your own #DearMe post (blog or on social media) link it up at 2JustByou.

8 Things My 4-Month-Old and I Have In Common

8 Things My 4-Month-Old and I Have In Common

Who knew that I’d have so much in common with my little baby?

  1. We both have the “Russian chin” that we inherited from my Daddy. (Fond nickname by my sister in law.)
  2. We both have cold feet and hands. (Sorry for passing on the bad circulation.)
  3. We are both cranky when we’re hungry (aka Hangry – and we both eat about every 3-4 hours).
  4. We are both cranky when we’re tired. (And sometimes have a hard time getting to sleep. Unless someone’s holding us, then we pass right out.)
  5. Neither of us have good control of our bladders. (Seriously, when does that part of postpartum go away?)
  6. We both enjoy sweets. (As obvious by my pregnancy cravings and his enjoyment and preference of my breast milk  over formula.)
  7. We are fascinated by the shiny devices with screens. (He really stares at my phone when I’m on it. He’ll start his own blog any day now.)
  8. We enjoy reading (at least, he seems to enjoy story time).

Gotta have a fun/silly post every now and again right? That’s how we Moms keep our sanity. Anyone else have some cute observations of how they are like their kidlet?

Quiz: Are you a Grammar Nerd? Celebrate Grammar Day

Did you know there’s a day called Grammar Day? Of course, there’s a day to celebrate everything these days. March 4th is National Grammar Day in the United States.

The attractiveness of correct grammar cannot be overstated. Grammar matters.

I thought it would be fun to share this quiz from Grammarly.com.

Grammarly Grammar Nerd Quiz Feature Image

I got The Enlightened Grammarian:

You know your stuff when it comes to proper English grammar and writing, but you’re not overly traditional. Language does evolve, after all! Chances are high that you’re fascinated, rather than put off by, the verbing of nouns or the disappearing “whom.” You have balanced the standardization of language with the practical usage.

Let me know what results you get :)

Pumping Tricks and Shortcuts for the New Mom

Pumping Tricks for the new mom

Now that I’ve been pumping at work for over a month, I’ve learned a couple of shortcuts that I thought I’d share.

1. When I pump at work, I store my pump parts in the fridge between pumping sessions. It really saves time not having to wash all the parts every time if I’m just going to use them again in a few hours.

2. Did you know that the Medela breast milk storage bottles can attach to the pumping flanges? I didn’t, not until recently (yep, I’m such a rookie). I was using the 2 oz measuring cylinders and washing extra parts for no good reason! So now I attach the bottle to the bottom of the breast shield and flange set to collect the milk and store it.

Attach Medela pump pieces directly to breast milk storage bottles.

The example on the left shows the Medela pump pieces attached directly to a breast milk storage bottle while the example on the right shows the collection cylinder attached to the pump pieces.

3. I combine breast milk from several pumping sessions into the same storage bottle. When I used the collection cylinders, I would combine the milk into one storage bottle after a pumping session, and again after the next pumping session if there was still room in the storage bottle. Now I reuse the storage bottle and pump attachments (see #2) from the earlier pumping session again in the afternoon and just continue to collect breast milk there.

These are the shortcuts I’ve learned for pumping. I’d love to hear more if anyone has any tricks to share.