Beauty in Mommyhood: Elle is 8 months old

*Note: I am way behind on Elle’s updates. She’s actually almost 10 months. Eek! I’ll be cranking out another update in the next week.

Happy girl

Dear Elle,

You’re Muffin.
Your name is Muffin.
You’re sweet, brown and round – your name is Muffin.
You’re Muffin.
Yeah Muffin.
And everyone loves you ’cause you’re Muffin.

Daddy's girl

I make up the silliest songs for you. But singing them to you always makes you feel better when you’re fussy. I’m seriously going to put together an album of the songs that I’ve made up. Including the “Wipe your face and wipe your butt” jingle and your favorite…”Don’t You Cry, Elle Belle”. Your bring out the sillies in me.

Speaking of sillies, you are hilarious! My favorite game to play with you is getting us both under the covers and then pulling back the sheets and shouting “Weeee!” You have the cutest little laugh. One time Daddy had you giggling for like 10 minutes straight. My heart was bursting.

Elle

You are well on your way to toddlerhood because now and days, you get really upset when you don’t get what you want. You don’t understand NO yet but I’m trying to find ways to help you understand what you can and can’t do without always saying NO.

Mommy and me

Food

You still aren’t insanely in love with food but you’re definitely getting more and more interested. This month you had smoked turkey. You loved in. In fact, you really love turkey and I’m amazed at how well you feed yourself. Breast milk is about 80% of your diet. When you’re not gulping that down you’re eating peaches, scrambled eggs, gluten-free noodles, homemade spaghetti sauce, sweet potatoes and pretty much anything that we eat. You also like hummus and applesauce but only sometimes. You also drink water from a cup.

Silly baby

 

Sleeping

Mama soooooo wishes you would sleep through the night. I’m thinking one of the reasons why you don’t is because you’re still in our room. This month the plan is to move you into your own room. You never had a formal nursery because we didn’t intend on staying in this house long but things have changed and since we’re going to be here a bit longer, I think you’ll do better in your own space. We’ll see how it goes. 8 months of chronic sleep deprivation is crippling.

Your Firsts:

-You went to Disney!!! Not the parks but we explored the area.
-You stayed at your first Disney World Resort – The Grand Floridian. That makes 5 hotel rooms that you’ve crashed in. Wow!
-You said Mama!!!
-You have perfected the army crawl.
-You signed “milk”
-You went to your first makeup show.

Cool Things You Do:

-You have perfected your wave.
-You wave bye bye too!
-You know how to tap the iPad to make things change.
-You can high five on demand.

You’re getting heavier and that sometimes when I look at you I say that baby face of yours slowly start to disappear. I’m so not ready. But ready or not, huh?

 

Love,

Mama

Ma Mi Skincare: The Skincare Line For Mamas

A skincare brand for pregnant and nursing mamas? Holllllahhhh. I was sent some samples from the all natural Ma Mi skincare brand a while back and I am just now playin’ with them.

MaMi Skincare

No one tells who how much your skincare regimen has to change when you become pregnant. I’ve always had a pretty natural-centric skincare routine  and even after I found out I was pregnant, I found myself tweaking it some more. I so wish I had known about Ma Mi Skincare then. This Central Florida based skincare brand has such wonderful products!

MaMi Skincare cleanser

MaMiReawaken

-Hydrates skin
-Removes make-up and debris
-Prepares skin for exfoliation and moisturizer

Ingredients: Purified Water, Olive Oil Castile, Vegetable Glycerin, Rose Hip Seed Oil, Oil of Kumquat, Seaweed Extracts.

MaMiExfoilator

-Reduces appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
-Shed dead skin
-Improves oily and problematic skin

Ingredients: Purified Water, Glycolic Acid.

MaMiMoisturizer

-Moisturizes, hydrates and oxygenates
-Nourishes and slows the aging process
-Keeps skin smooth and flexible – Improves dry skin

Ingredients: Purified Water, Jojoba Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Squalane, Hyaluronic Acid, Polyacrylamide, Laureth-7, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

MaMiNightshift

-A 42% improvement in skin smoothness and texture
-An observable reduction of dark circles and puffiness
-Enhances skin smoothness and firmness around eyes
-Reduces dark circle and puffiness around eyes

Ingredients: Purified Water, Jojoba Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Squalane, Hyaluronic Acid, Polyacrylamide, Laureth-7, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin.

 

All of the ingredients are free of dyes and fragrances and  gentle to use throughout pregnancy (obvs) and while nursing. I’m lovin’  this line and I think it’ll make a perfect gift the new mama or mama-to-be in your life.

Beauty in Mommyhood: NUK’s Seal n’ Go Breast Milk Bags

Okay, so now that I’ve got more time on my hands, I am going to be doing more baby-focused reviews. I know. You’re excited, huh? Every time I turn around I’ve got another friend expecting a babeh and asking me something related to breastfeeding. I can never offer any advice because breastfeeding was a total FAIL for Elle and I but what I do know is pumping. I pump my life away yo. Nuk so graciously sent me some of their breast milk bags to review and I couldn’t be happier.

Breastmilk bags

While I was sent some of these to review, I have also purchased and been giving manyyyyyyyy breast milk storage bags from my moms who I donate milk to. In the 7 months that I have been exclusively pumping I have filled up thousands of breast milk storage bags. So I know a few things about ‘em.

Nuk breastmilk bags

About NUK’s Seal n’ Go Breast Milk Bags:
-100% leak-proof double zipper seal
-Superior oxygen barrier for freshness
-BPA free
-Leak proof double zipper seal protects against leaking

Nuk

I’ve tried 3 different brands of breast milk storage bags and Nuk’s get the job done, mamas. I do more filling up than I do defrosting them but both tasks require having sturdy breast milk bags. These are nice. They aren’t my absolute favorite because I find that the zipper seal can’t be easily sealed but I use them regularly and haven’t experienced any leaks. I like to fill my bags up to 7 oz  and these bags are completely stuffed at about 7 oz. I find that I can get more milk in other bags.

Breast Milk Storage bags

And like all breast milk bags, the measurements on the bag are all kinds of wrong. I usually measure my milk in a bottle and don’t refer to the bag.

And these bags aren’t just great for breast milk. We like storing Elle’s homemade baby food in them too.

Baby food

Esposo and I like to steam and purée fresh vegetables for Elle, put them in ice cube trays, freeze them, pop ‘em in breast milk bags and then take them out when we need them. These bags are fantastic for storing food! The food stays fresh and tasty.

Bottom line: If you’re a lactating mama or a mama who likes to freeze homemade breast milk, you’ll like these bags. Plus, they’re pretty affordable too at only $6.99 for 25 bags.

Beauty in Mommyhood – Elle is 6 months old

6 month old baby girl

Technically Elle is almost 7 months old but I’m mad late with getting this up. My bad!

Dear Elle,

You’ve been around for half of a year. Wow! I value each minute and each day with you because I know that I’ll blink and you’ll be a teenager trying to get your sticky fingers on my beauty stuffs. Please slow down. I love you just like this. You’re so perfect. You really are. How did we get such a cool and calm, baby? Everywhere we go people are amazed at how cool you are. You have never had a fit in public (not really at home either) and as long as you have access to your thumb and can snuggle against my chest, you’re good to go. I love this about you. You are far from a high maintenance baby.

Brown baby girl

Your bottle can be either hot or cold and you’ll drink it. You don’t have to be held 24/7. You enjoy playing by yourself. When you wake up, you sing and babble versus screaming your head off. On days when I’m just exhausted, you seem to notice and make things a little easier on me. You’re a dream baby.

Folx keep telling me that it’ll change and one day you’ll become this evil toddler but whatever – I’m enjoying the now. And speaking of the now, SCREAMING is your new thing. You love to scream and I’m almost positive that I heard you say “Mama”. The best thing about you? Everyone loves you. Everywhere you go people want to get a closer look at you because you’re just so sweet. You’ve got this kind and wonderful energy about you. It’s captivating and you never disappoint and always crack a smile or laugh.

Baby photography

You started you on solid foods this month. Your first food was sweet potatoes and even though you make these hilarious faces, you actually do a great job at putting the spoon to your mouth and eating your food. We only give you a good tablespoon a day but you seem to enjoy it. Daddy and I enjoy making fresh batches of food for you. We both think it’s great to provide you with fresh veggies over the canned baby food. We really want to give you a good start when it comes to nutrition. Mama is still pumping to give you breast milk and I won’t stop until you’re at least a year old.

Baby touches toes

And guess what? We are still using cloth diapers! People told me that I would give up on them by now but nope I love diapering you in your cute patterned cloth. And you’ve never had a diaper rash so hey…maybe this cloth stuff is right on!

Mama guilt struck me again and I was starting to think that you were still small but your pediatrician keeps telling me how perfect you are. You’re just petite. Just when I  started to doubt things, you began sitting up. And then getting on all fours with the attempts to crawl. Seriously? I’ve got a baby that is about to crawl? Ohmigoodness…please stop growing so quickly, baby.

Baby at 6 month old

Elle Bits:
-You’re a little under 14 lbs.
-You’ve tasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash and carrots.
-We sold your swing. You don’t use it anymore and it was taking up space.
-Your feet finally touch the bottom of your bouncer!
-You love your new highchair.
-Your skin has been super itchy so mama has gone gluten-free to see if that is the issue.
-If you see someone put it in their mouth, you want it too.
-Your appetite is through the roof…you’re eating a lot more.
-You can hold your bottle.
-You like putting your foot in your mouth. Literally.

Thank you so much for being the light of our lives. Love you, sweet girl.

XOXO,

Your Mama

Beauty in Mommyhood – Elle is 5 Months Old!

Brown Baby

Dear Elle Belle,

Yaaaaaaay!!! You crack up every time I say that. I mean, EVERY TIME. If if weren’t for your pictures, I would hardly remember you being a 5 lb little peanut. You are 13 lbs of chunk and I love it. I have gotten over feeling bad for your small weight. Mommy guilt is something else. I blamed myself for your being born early. I blamed myself for you being so little. And I blamed myself for you not breasteeding. I’ve let it all go. I am more focused on the now and making sure that you are happy and healthy.

My entire life is being blogged

And you’re both. You have the best personality, Muffin. I mean, seriously…I look forward to you waking up in the morning. You pop your head up and give me the biggest smile. And you laugh. A lot. You laugh, you talk, you babble, you sing…it is all so beautiful to me. You tend to be quieter around different surroundings and people but when you are at home and in your element, you can talk nonstop. You’ve started screaming too. Long gone is your sweet whimper. Now when there’s something you want, you SCREAM. And you growl too. Daddy and I think it’s hilarious. How can you be so cute by growling?

Easycare rainbow 1

And you want to touch everything. If it is anywhere near your reach, you’re grabbing it.

Baby hand

That includes Daddy’s beard and Mommy’s earrings. You know how to grab for your bottle to bring it to your mouth. You grab at any and everything. And the minute you get whatever it is you want, it’s going straight into your mouth. How your little mouth emits so much drool is beyond me. You go through at least 2-3 bibs a day.

Pretty baby

Eating

You are still eating nothing but breast milk. Mama’s milk supply has decreased significantly but I still have enough to feed you and to donate. I am going to start stashing away milk so that by the time you turn 1, you’ll have enough milk until you’re at least 14-16 months old. No solids yet. We’ll wait until you’re 6 months. You are definitely interested though. You stare at Daddy and I when we eat and you love grabbing at our plates.

Sleeping

You’ve got one wonky sleep schedule but I stopped complained about it. You HAVE to be in bed by 7pm. If we don’t get you there, you are beyond fussy. You’ll get up for a bottle around 10pm and then you get up again at 3am. Each time you wake up, you go back to sleep after having your bottle. You take nice long naps throughout the day (at least 2) and on the weekends when you don’t nap, you’re still in good spirits. When it’s time for night-night, you pop your thumb in your mouth and go right to sleep. It is usually that easy.

Clumps of Mascara baby

You got your ears pierced and I adore them! You look even sweeter and you handled the piercing like a champ. Your eczema is clearing up beautifully. You wear cloth diapers every night and if I can come across more affordably, I want to start clothing you when you go to your sitter. Cloth diapering is surprisingly easy and it feels great not having to buy diapers every week. Oh…and that stroller? We don’t touch it. Mama wears you everywhere!

Baby wearing

I never got why women were so passionate about baby wearing but I’ve seen the light. One day it was pouring down raining. I had to get you, groceries, my breast pump, your bottle bag and my purse out of the car. We waited for the rain to stop for 20 minutes. It didn’t stop. I popped you in a ring sling and grabbed the bags and an umbrella and made it to the door. I had never felt so powerful before. You? You just babbled the whole time mama dodged rain puddles.

Girasol Double Rainbow

Basically, you’re perfect. I know no one is perfect but you are, Muffin. You really are. You light up our lives and you give me purpose each and everyday. I work harder for you. I hate having to go to work and leave you but at the same time, I take pride in knowing that I am actively working hard to provide for our family. It’s not easy but I work long hours, come home to play and snuggle with you, clean the house, run a business and I do it everyday. It’s exhausting but so rewarding.

It is an honor being your mommy.

Elle Bits:
-You giggle uncontrollably when I try to clean your neck.
-You are now totally against your carseat. You cry every time we drive. You eventually soothe yourself.
-Your pediatrician says that you are healthy!
-You love nature.
-You are nosy. I mean, so nosy. You want to see EVERY thing.
-You love music. And you love being sung to.
-You smile. A lot! And at strangers too.

You rock. Thanks for being my baby.

Love,
Mommy

Got breast milk? Use Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump!

It’s about time I get started doing some reviews on baby products, uh? I get a lot of questions about what I use with Elle and I am finally going to start cranking out some reviews. First things first! Since pumping is my life I figured I’d start with a breast pump. I received this one for review and it has been such a great asset to my exclusively pumping life.

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump

I typically use an electric breast pump to express milk and I highly recommend that mamas who do more pumping than nursing do the same thing. However, a manual breast pump fits in my life well because I don’t always have time to connect myself to the electric breast pump. Sometimes I get caught up with working or I’m traveling or I just don’t feel like going through the whole “finding time to pump” routine. And that’s when the manual breast pump comes in handy.

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump box

I’ve been amazed at how much this baby can express in a good 5 minutes. I find it works best when I am slightly engorged. It does enough to relieve the pressure and cleanup is a breeze.

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump top

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump open

I actually have another manual breast pump that I’ve purchased and I prefer this one over the one I bought because this one seems to be 10x more comfortable. I attribute that to the silicone flange.

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump silicone cover

The pump is also effective without the flange and I find that my output is MORE when I don’t use it. However, if I’m going for comfort and to take the “edge off”, I use the silicone flange. Clean up is easy because there aren’t that many parts that I had to tinker with. The pump comes with a nice booklet of instructions. It looked easy to dissemble but I actually had to refer to the manual to find out how to do it.

PROs

-It’s affordable. It is only $30.
-Larger Nuk bottles can fit into the pump. Perfect for pumping and then feeding baby right away.
-Easy to find. You can get it Target, Walmart, etc..
-Parts are easy to clean.
-Comfortable and has a nice suction.
-A bottle nipple comes with the pump.

Nuk Expressive Manual Breast Pump additional nipple

 

CONs

-Dissembling the parts is tricky the first go round.
-Can be messy. But so are all manual hand pumps.
-There are several parts to clean.

I’m a fan and I’m actually going to purchase another one to keep in the car for an emergency expression situation. You laugh but there is nothing funny about engorgement and not being able to express it quickly. Remind me to tell you about that time I had to hand express milk for Elle when I accidentally left one of her bottles at home and she had gulped down the one I brought. :wink: Yah. The exclusively pumping life is somethin’ else, I tell ya…

Breastfeeding mamas, do you ever use manual breast pumps?

Beauty in Mommyhood – Elle is 4 Months Old!

Elle is 4 months old

Dear Elle,

Hey there, big girl! Technically you’re 20 weeks old which means you are almost 5 months old. I was all late with getting your doctor’s appointment squared away so you won’t be getting your 4 month checkup until like uh…this week. I am SO excited (and nervous) to see how much you weigh. I’m hoping that you’re at least 14 lbs or so. I see you getting bigger and you are officially in 6-9 months clothing but I always wonder if my breastmilk is enough for you. People keep telling me how small you are and it bugs me.

They don’t know how far you’ve come. Every baby isn’t super chubby and it’s a bit insensitive to say things like, “Wow…she’s so small.” to parents of preemies and small babies. But whatever. I’m learning how to let it go. We don’t plan on introducing food for awhile so you’ve still got some months being exclusively breastfed. You do have your own little raspberry shop though.

Blowing raspberries

You love blowing spit bubbles. It cracks your Grandma Clumps up. Speaking of her…she adores you. So so much. You’re so incredibly loved by so many people. Everyone is in love with your eyes. “They are so alert!” they say.

Pretty eyed girl

And it’s true. I’m not sure where you got your eyes from but I love looking in them. I’ll never forget the night I finished giving you a bottle and you stared right into my eyes. We looked eyes for a good 30 seconds and then you gave me the biggest smile ever. I love moments like that.

Traveling baby

Last night I asked your Daddy what if he thought you cried a lot. On a scale from 1-10 with 10 being A LOT, we both gave you a 3. You hardly ever cry. Your sitter says the same thing. I am so grateful we ended up with a cool and calm little girl. Your personality is so here and when you don’t have a constant smile on your face we know you’re sleepy or need some downtime. Your demeanor is so pleasant that this month we pushed it to the limits a bit by having adventures waaaay past your bedtime (success!) and taking a 4.5 hour road trip one day and returning the next (tragedy!). We’re trying to learn you and for the most part I think your Daddy and I  are becoming amazing parents. I’m so proud of your Daddy. He works a lot, yes, but when he’s here he wants a ton of Elle and Daddy time. He snuggles you and has you giggling up a storm when he kisses your tummy.

Baby and Daddy

You love when he does that. We both sing to you and we’re amazed at how you watch TV like a big girl. Doc McStuffins in your favorite. Every time you hear the theme song your face lights up. And when you’re fussy and nothing is helping soothe you, if I bust out in “Doe A Deer” from The Sound of Music, you calm down.

Baby and mommy

Cheesy, but it works. You’re a music lovin’ baby and we want nothing more than to keep you surrounded by tunes. We took our first family road trip this month and it was challenging but you were so sweet around dozens of new people. You flashed smiles and definitely played the part. And you are a drool machine. It’s hilarious. Looks like we’ll be seeing some teeth soon! Your ezcema is still around and mama is trying a new concoction every month. Nothing seems to work. While I have eliminated most dairy products I still eat a few items with milk in them and so maybe that’s the cause. I don’t know. I’m always blaming myself for something when it comes to you. I want you to have a perfect life. I want the best for you.

Happy baby

Because you deserve it. Don’t tell your Daddy but you’re my best friend. Yep, my almost 5 month old baby is my BFF.

I enjoy every moment with you. Even the 2am bottle feedings. I love our weekend cuddles and Saturday adventures. I love taking you out on walks and watching your face light up when you hear a dog bark. The world amazes you. I no longer feel Working Mommy Guilt. Our time apart isn’t horrible because it allows you to learn in a different environment with a qualified caretaker and it allows mommy to continually work on her craft. I never wanted to loose myself in Mommyhood and guess what? I haven’t! You are #1 in my life but I still have a social life and passions. I am in a great place. In the next month or so we’ll be moving and you’ll be getting your own room…officially. I don’t know though…I still think I want you sleeping in our room. I’m not ready to be so far away from you yet.

Yep, I’m an attached mama. But you…and this face…

Baby with thumb in mouth

It lights up my world.

Keep shinin’, baby. I love you,
Mommy

A Message On Mother’s Day 2013

Mom and daughter

People think that Mother’s Day is a day just for women who are are Mothers in the traditional sense of the word. I’ve never felt that way. I’ve grown up in a culture that truly believes in the “It takes a village” philosophy. Mamas can’t be everywhere all the time so that’s when other mama-figures step in. Who said you have to physically give birth to a child to help mother them? No. Motherhood is far more than conception and birth. Motherhood is being that safe place, having that nurturing spirit, the tear and boo boo wiper, the comic relief, the support system, the stickler, the teacher and the friend when needed. Motherhood is truly a verb.

It’a commercial holiday, yes, but this is one that I’ve always felt was okay. Why shouldn’t we shower our Mothers with love and affection? Shouldn’t we do so everyday? Absolutely. But we don’t. So if it takes one day to truly pamper, love on Moms and let them know how invaluable they are, well then…I’m all for it.

Mother’s Day is also a day for mourning. Some mourn the loss of their mothers, either in the physical sense or because a relationship wasn’t or isn’t in place. Some mourn the loss of their children on Mother’s Day. Or they feel inadequate because they aren’t Mothers in the traditional sense. Take solace in knowing that motherhood does not determine womanhood or a woman’s value. And if a mother touched our lives for even a short second or a short lifetime, she should be celebrated, even if she has gone on to glory.

So yes, I have always celebrated Mother’s Day by gifting my mothers and friends who are mothers with cards and treats. Being a mother is hard. The constant worrying, the wondering if you’re doing everything right, the sleepless nights, the critics who question your parenting choices but ooooh, motherhood is also a blessing. One of the biggest one’s in my life.

Baby Clumps

I thank God everyday for Elle. Yes, Alex and I did the work to bring her in this world (too much info? Ha!) but I truly believe she chose me. I could have never crafted such an amazing being on my own. I’ve babysat and been a nanny to dozens of children so I’ve always had an adoration for children but it skyrocketed when I gave birth to Elle in that small room at the birthing center 4 months ago. Elle is special. I’m sure all parents say that about their children but there is truly something dynamic about this 4-month old who has mastered smiling and stealing hearts. She has been a joy to our family during some tough times. She has given me more purpose and more of a reason to work hard each day. On my first Mother’s Day, I thank my daughter Elle. I thank her for choosing me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms. To all mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, mother-in-laws, stepmothers, older sisters, aunts, friends, teachers, caretakers and pet mommies.  Bless you all!