Lactation Cookie Baking Experiment

I was already struggling with supply before I went back to work, so when I had to switch from regular nursing to occasional pumping, my supply took a hit. I’ve been trying different methods to help boost my supply (taking Fenugreek supplements, taking Mother Love More Milk Plus supplements, eating oatmeal, drinking Gatorade, drinking Milkmaid tea, applying heat) but I either wasn’t eating/drinking enough of that to count, or it simply want working. I decided to give lactation cookies a try so hubby helped me make a batch after I procured all the magical ingredients (brewers yeast and milled flax isn’t easy to find).

The girls in my breastfeeding support group recommended the recipe from Peaceful Parenting: Major Milk Makin’ Lactation Cookies. It only calls for a 1/3 cup of water, but we found it turns very dry very fast, and we even broke a stirrer! So we added some more water to allow the batch to mix. We also had to cook a little longer since they came out too soft at first. Then I refrigerated overnight to harden the chocolate chips (because they were a melty gooey delicious mess). The rest of the cookie remained very soft and they were pretty good I guess. The chocolate chips really made them edible, but they did taste very “healthy” with all the oats and such. I made them pretty large so I could take one big cookie to work with me to eat with my lunch. I ended up with 20 large cookies.

Lactation Cookies

I ate a cookie a day for a couple of days without any changes and I asked the ladies how quickly they noticed an increase. The replies I received were that people noticed an increase the same day. One girl did say that she eats multiple cookies a day, so I went ahead and started bringing two with me to work. I mean, twist my arm, right? Still I didn’t notice any changes in the amount of breast milk I pumped. So I tried 3. Still no change.

I’m starting to think I may have a genetic issue (my Mom had problems with supply with me, and so did her Mom with her) that cannot be resolved with special magical foods. I’m disappointed that I can’t seem to increase my milk production, and yes it is frustrating to put in so much effort for a little result (I only pump 5 oz from both sessions combined). But, I still want to keep with it, at least until Baby H is 6 months old. After that I suppose I will re-evaluate this whole breastfeeding thing and see if I am able/willing to continue. I hate to say willing, especially since my current workplace has an amazing space for pumping mothers, but this is continuing to take a toll on me – body and mind. Stopping will be a difficult decision, though, whenever I end up making it.

A Call for Compassion #1000Speak

We hear too much about how horrible humans can be to each other. From social media shaming to the tragic murders all over the world, there are plenty of examples we can look at. Where is our humanity hiding? Where is our compassion?

Compassion is sympathy. It is our concern for other people and their well-being. It is giving someone a hug when they have had a bad day. It is donating to a cause to help someone. It is standing up for someone when they are being bullied. It can even be adopting a stray animal (animals are people too). Compassion is stepping outside ourselves to help another person, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually. It is the desire to alleviate someone’s suffering.

What compassion isn’t, is closing our eyes and turning away when someone needs our help. We need a call to action – a call for compassion. What can we do today to help another person out? Let’s all agree to do something, even if it is small, and the world will be a better place for it, collectively.

This post is part of the 1000 Voices Speaks For Compassion blogging initiative.

What does compassion mean to you?

Pollo Tropical review

A little while back, Pollo Tropical sent me some goodies to celebrate them opening more locations in my area. Since I had just had Baby H at the time, I didn’t get to attend their grand opening parties.


Now that Baby H is 3 months old and easier to go out with, Hubby and I decided to check out their new location near us on Valentines Day. They were having a 2 can dine for $9.99 deal, so we thought we’d stop in for a late lunch. The deal included picking two items from the TropiChops menu, plus plantains and a dessert! Hubby ordered the Calypso Beef dish and I ordered the Mojo Roast Pork. We tried each other’s meals and I have to say the beef one was better but both were awesome. I enjoy tropical flavors so this restaurant was right up my alley.

wpid-img_20150214_163600.jpg

 

I also am a fan of the building style and the fun colors. I think the only complaint I had was the bathroom didn’t have a changing station. I had to change Baby H on the sink counter. That’s a huge oversight people. I also noticed they have a drive-thru window so I have a feeling we might be coming back for a quick dinner pick up.

 

Working on Working Mom’s questions for the Liebster Award nomination

The lovely Angela at Working on Working Mom nominated me for the Liebster award. Thanks for considering me!:) I’m not big on these tag type posts, cause coming up with a new list of blogs to tag, plus questions – who has time for that? HA! You know I’m lazy, right?  But I really liked the questions she came up with, so I decided to answer them on this blog anyway :)

 

  1. What does your blog name mean to you? “Velvet Rose” is kind of a poetic blog name (back when I used to write poems for funsies, I used roses as my topic quite a bit). Roses  that looks like they are made of velvet are oh so pretty, so the name made sense at the time I bought the domain :) Does it still have meaning to me? yes. Is it the best name for my blogging experience currently? Maybe not, but I haven’t thought of anything that makes sense to me more at this time, and of course re-branding isn’t all that easy.
  2. What is your most comforting comfort food?  Chocolate chip cookies.  They inspired my nickname that is used in just about all of my online screen names: “JulieCookies”.
  3. What is the worst part of your day? Waking up. No really, it is SOOOO hard to have to wake up and have to get up from a warm bed when you’re a sleep deprived new mom.
  4. What positive thought do you use when you are feeling down? Currently, thinking of my baby’s smiles. His grins light up the whole room and can pull me out of any bad mood.
  5. What is your favorite food made with chocolate? Cookies. But we covered that already.
  6. Who is your favorite blogger and why? Um, I don’t really have a favorite blogger I don’t think. I like and follow a lot of bloggers, but to have one favorite? Nah.
  7. When was your happiest moment? This is such a hard one because I’ve had so many moments that were amazing and happy. I bet people are expecting me to say when I first held my baby in the hospital, but that was both a happy and stressful and painful and overwhelming and confusing moment. I think my happiest moments are when my baby smiles at me and melts my heart.
  8. Where have you gone that felt the most like paradise? Waikiki Beach/Honolulu, Hawaii. Just the most beautiful place.
  9. Why do you blog? To learn more about myself and my topics of interest. To make connections with others. For funsies.
  10. How much time do you spend doing the things you love? Not enough! Sometimes it feels like I can carve out a few hours here and there, usually when multi-tasking (example: I “read” audio books when I drive, since that is the only alone time I get!)
  11. What is one thing you want more than anything?  At the moment:  sleep. But in seriousness: a fulfilling and happy life.

 

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

I really enjoy using the WordPress blogging platform – one reason being all the amazing plugins we can use to enhance our blogging experience. I shared a post on the book blog and I thought I would mention that post here as well. Only two of the plugins I listed are book  blogging related, so the others are very helpful for any type of blogs. I’ll highlight the list here but the details and complete post can be found following the image linked below.

 

Favorite Commenting Plugins:

  • Comment Reply Notification.
  • Akismet.
  • Top Commentators Widget.

Favorite Blogging Plugins:

  • Easy Content Templates.
  • Shareholic.
  • Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.
  • Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.
  • WordPress Database Backup.

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

Pumping Bag Essentials for the Working Mom

Before returning to work I put a lot of thought into what I needed to continue on this breastfeeding journey. Pumping isn’t as pleasant as nursing, obviously, since you’re hooked up to what I like to call a Medieval torture device rather than your baby. But, it is a necessary activity to maintain supply (and avoid painful engorgement).

Breast Milk Pumping Bag Essentials when Returning to Work

Pumping Bag Essentials for the Working Mom

 

  • Breast pump and accessories. My workplace provides a hospital-grade pump, the Medela Symphony, so all I need are the attachments, breast shield flanges, and bottles. If this was not the case, I would have my Medela Pump In Style breast pump in the bag as well.
  • Hands-free pumping bra. That’s the black cotton thing pictured above. It zips down the front and has holes so you can put the shields through it and attach to the rest of the pumping gear.
  • Breast milk storage bottles. I take some home and bring some in the next day, but I also have a few extra on hand.
  • Cooler. Someplace to store the pumped milk bottles and for safe transport home.
  • Nipple butter. Because pumping isn’t gentle.
  • Drink and snacks. Because you gotta stay hydrated and fed, right?
  • Bottle brush and dish soap. You’ll need to clean your supplies.
  • Entertainment. I have my phone and my kindle. It helps not to focus on what I’m doing.
  • Connection to Baby. I can check in on Baby H on the cam app on my phone and that helps with pumping. some people suggest bringing a photo, or you can even record the sound of your baby crying, if that helps. I just find it distracting.

Milk Boost Lactation Cookies Review

The lovely ladies behind BoostOrganicFoods tweeted some support to me in response to my breastfeeding journey post. They are kicking off their lactation cookie company and are sending out some samples. I jumped at the opportunity to try the cookies out since I’ve been thinking of ways to increase my supply (or at least keep it from decreasing since I’ve returned to work now).

Milk Boost Lactation Cookies

I received a sample of Boost Organic cookies in the mail this past weekend. I went back to work last week and immediately got sick, so my supply just tanked. After a couple of days of eating the cookies this week I did notice my supply start to go back up. It is hard to tell after just a few days though, but it looks like if I kept this up daily I could see an improvement. The cookies are also quite tasty, the chocolate chips help! They do taste “healthy” since they are essentially an oatmeal cookie, so you can indulge in a cookie a day without really breaking any diet.

I forgot to take a photo of the cookies themselves before I devoured them (bad blogger that I am) so I just took a photo of the cute label. I’m looking forward to when they open for business and trying these out some lactation cookies long term. Or, if I’m brave and un-lazy, perhaps I will try to bake some myself. Yea that made me laugh too.

Below are links to their website and social media.

Boostorganicfoods.com
Facebook.com/boostorganics
Twitter.com/BoostOrganics

Thankful for the pumping arrangement at work.

I’ve been working directly out of my client’s office for about 3 years now. Being a contractor, most of the special benefits are reserved for employees – for example if an employee is sick, he/she can go down to the nurse’s office and get treatment, while a contractor can’t do that. Thankfully, the lactation rooms are available to both contractors and employees. I don’t even know what the set-up would be at my actual firm (we moved into a new office about a year ago and adopted a new “open concept” floor plan, where everyone is seated at desks, not cubes, and all the offices have glass walls. I don’t know what arrangement they would have to do for me, but for the time being I am happy to have the lactation rooms at my client’s office available to me.

The nurse’s office here has three lactation rooms, each equipped with a hospital-grade pump (the Medela Symphony). After birth my hospital gave me an attachment kit so I could use their pump while I was admitted, so thankfully I have all the supplies I need. The nurses’s office even has a cabinet where we can keep a bag of supplies! I just leave one set of accessories and the connector that goes to their hospital grade pump in my bag for me to use when I need to. I store the pumping supplies in the refrigerator between uses and wash them at the end of the day and store in my bag in their cabinet. They also provide bottled water in the refrigerator since we really need to stay hydrated.

I don’t have to carry my own pump that insurance sent me (the Medela pump-in-style advanced) back and forth, running the risk of forgetting it one day and ending up in a lot of pain. I keep my own pump at home so I can use it in the morning and on weekends if needed, and thankfully I have several sets of supplies so I can easily keep a set at home and a set at work.

While pumping isn’t as comfortable as nursing would be, this set up is helping me keep up my breastfeeding relationship with my child longer, as my goal is to go at least 6 months (but I would prefer the full first year). I’m thankful to be able to provide even some milk for Baby H and give him all the good immunities he wouldn’t otherwise be able to have.

On Returning to Work after Maternity Leave

Well my 12 weeks of maternity are over now and it is time to return to work. I have very mixed feelings about this. Yes, I enjoy my job and the people I work with, and yes I need the paycheck obviously. But, there are things about being home with my baby that I am definitely going to miss.

  • I’m going to miss our morning snuggles. After my husband (aka Elbows) left for work in the mornings, I would bring Baby H into bed and nurse nap with him. He is incredibly snuggly.
  • I’m going to miss going for walks when the sun is out. Unfortunately, business hours means I’m away while the sun is up. So now I’ll only be able to take him for walks in the stroller on weekends since it is pitch black by the time I come home (thank you winter, go away already). I am looking forward to the summer months when the sun will still be up when I get home, and maybe we can do a quick stroll around the neighborhood.
  • Our nursing relationship will change. Obviously it is so much more pleasant to nurse a sweet baby than to express breast milk via pump whenever I can get away at work. But, at least I’ll still be giving him some of the good stuff with all my immunities.
  • Missing out on firsts. Well, unless he saves his firsts for weekends or evenings, it is likely that our nanny will see many of his firsts. But, I guess that means he gets to practice them before showing them off to me.
  • I’m just going to miss being with him all day. Coming home in the evening hours means I only get a few hours with him before bedtime. But at least bath time is all mine (well, and hubby’s).

Even though this will be hard, I’m sure work will keep me busy and distracted enough so that I don’t constantly think about how much I miss the little guy. No mommy guilt allowed, as I mentioned in my goals for this year, so I’m keeping all the positives in mind.

I purchased a new car, this time for real

My Caddy has been giving me trouble, more and more lately. Being a 2005 and having 100K+ miles on it, it was just constantly needing maintenance. During 2014 I spent more on maintenance than I had left on the loan. The last needed maintenance in late 2014 was just the last straw. At 125K+ miles it was time to part with the Caddy and get something else.

My Daddy recently bought a new Nissan Rogue and has been saying all these great things about it. One of these is the fuel economy – which is so important since I was getting about 15 miles per gallon in my Caddy in Houston traffic. Another is the size – it is a smaller SUV, but still an SUV. It sits tall like I need, but is easier to park and fit in our garage. I had previously looked into the Muranos, but they were more pricey. The good thing about the Rogue is it was specifically made as a less expensive model.

So Daddy talked me into it, and I started shopping online. I found a bunch of cars that were sort of in my price range – what I wanted was my monthly payment to stay pretty much the same so my budget wasn’t impacted. I found several newer models, some certified pre-owned, some just used. Most were in the same price range. I decided to go to Baker Nissan first since their radio commercials always say how great the dealership is, and on their website for the same price range there were much newer models listed. My Mom stayed with the baby while hubby and I went to check out the dealership. We took his truck since he drove and we weren’t really expecting to finalize a purchase yet.

We looked at the Rogues they had available and I test drove a cute grey one with Bluetooth. This one is a 2014 model and had about 4K miles on it, and was certified pre-owned. We decided it was the best one we’d seen online so to go discuss numbers with the people and see how it went. As it turned out, not only was it certified pre-owned, but it wasn’t truly pre-owned. This was a dealership loaner vehicle, so it had no other owner. The manual was still in shrink wrap. So I ended up buying a new car! My parents gave me some money for a down payment to help keep the monthly payments down within our budget. So it ended up being a pretty awesome present – just days before Christmas.

The Baker Nissan sales rep was very personable and fun to chat with. He was professional and made us feel comfortable during the sales process, and it didn’t feel like we were haggling over auto prices. I didn’t even have my trade-in with me at the time, but the dealership gave us a very fair trade-in value based on the information we provided about the car, and since our credit scores are so high they were flexible with us on returning the next day with the trade-in. I definitely recommend Baker Nissan to others looking for a new or used Nissan.

Am I happy with the Rogue over the Caddy? Well, yes but there are a few things I miss. The Caddy was a luxury car, so I do miss the leather with heated seats, the driver 1/driver 2 seat and mirror settings, the 6 CD changer, you know, the little luxury items. The Rogue I bought is very simple without all the luxury add-ons since that wasn’t in my budget. But, I have Bluetooth where I did not before, and mp3 player/usb option, so that’s a win. I’m looking forward to better fuel economy when I return to work and need to sit in Houston traffic again.

The pic of my new car, taken in my driveway the evening we bought it. That’s why it is so dark.

 

My “bye bye Caddy” face, taken at Baker Nissan the next day when we returned to drop off the trade-in.