when the plague hits

Well I was going to just mention Hudson’s first tummy bug in this 13 month update post but it kind of took on a life of it’s own so I decided it deserved a post all to itself.  So here you go…a post all about puke.  Enjoy.

Saturday:

Michael, Hudson, and I go to a meeting at church about summer church camp.  Michael has to leave early and Hudson starts to get fussy so I throw him up (pun totally intended) on my back in the Ergo to calm him down and finish out the meeting.  As things are winding down I lean over to take some notes on my paper, hear a gag, and when I straighten up Hudson hurls all down my back.

All over the carrier.  All over the back of my shirt.  All over the floor.  All over himself.

It.Was.Awful.

Fortunately there were plenty of people who stepped in to help me out and cleaned up Hudson, changed his clothes, cleaned up the floor, bagged up the soiled clothes, etc.  And thankfully I had on a sweater over my shirt so I was able to take my vomit covered sweater off for the drive home.

We drive home and honestly at that point I thought it was no big deal.  He had eaten a huge lunch and I figured that when I bent over and it squished his stomach against my back it just forced all that food back up.  He’s quiet on the way home just watching Daniel Tiger.

I suspect nothing.

Until I open the door to get him out and there is vomit everywhere on him and the carseat.  I call Michael, who is almost home, so Hudson and I just sit there and wait for him to get there and help us.

Commence clean up.

And yet I still didn’t think it was that big of a deal.  I thought maybe he had some bad food or something.

I shower.  We bathe Hudson.  Michael heroically cleans up the carseat and disassembles it to put the cover in the wash.  That way it’ll be dry before church tomorrow.  Because this is just a fluke and we’ll totally be going to church tomorrow. 

Right?

A little bit later the three of us are playing in the living room floor and all of the sudden Hudson makes a face or a sound or a gesture or something and we just know.  I grab Hudson and Michael cups his hands and catches the puke so that only a tiny speck hits the carpet.

That’s a good man, I tell you.

Now I’m thinking food poisoning and that obviously things aren’t as they should be (uh…duh Caitlin) but he’s acting fine other than throwing up.

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We (mistakenly) feed him supper.  Michael goes to change his diaper and he barfs all over the changing table.  Cleanup number (what number are we even on?) and bath #2 for Hudson.

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We put him to bed and hope the worst is over.  He wakes up fussing so I go pick him up to rock him back to sleep.  I have finally wised up and get a bath towel to wrap around him and good thing because as I’m holding him he coughs, sits straight, throws up all over us, lays his head back down, and immediately goes back to sleep.  Poor thing.  We had to wake him up to change his pajamas and get him cleaned up again.

(no wonder he didn’t want to smile in the family pictures we had taken that morning, huh?)

Sunday:

The vomiting has stopped!  We made it through the night without incident.  All is well!

Then we go to change his diaper before church and all is NOT well.  We’ve just switched from one end to the other.  Michael goes on to church, Hudson and I stay home.  We contact our friends and cancel the Super Bowl party that we had planned for that night.

But thankfully other than some diarrhea he acts like he feels fine.  We just try to stay hydrated and relax.

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Monday: 

Other than some yucky diapers little man seems fine.

Monday evening though I start to feel nauseous.  For some reason though we think it’s a good idea to order a pizza for dinner.  Easy, you know?  No cooking.  Never mind the total grease factor.

My nausea gets worse and worse through the evening and by the time we go to bed I just want to throw up so badly because I just know I’ll feel better.  But that doesn’t happen so we go on to bed.

At 3:30 in the morning I wake up, bolt out of bed, run to the bathroom, and empty the contents of my stomach and probably every other organ I possess into the toilet.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve thrown since I was a child so this is not a common occurrence for me.  And it was bad.  And apparently loud because Hudson wakes up and starts crying.  Michael can’t get him calmed back down so after the worst is over I climb back in bed to rock Hudson to sleep.  Once he’s back asleep I get up again to clean up the bathroom and figure out how to get the stench of puke out of my nose before going to sleep.

Tuesday:

We wake up and I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.  I’m so weak I can hardly carry Hudson upstairs to change his diaper.  Michael has gone out of town for work so he can’t come home and take care of us.  I call the only other person who you want when you’re sick…mom.

She says she’ll be there in about two hours so I turn on Daniel Tiger to distract Hudson and we pitifully share a piece of dry toast.

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Mom arrives armed with saltine crackers and soup and other mommy magical sickness goodies and takes care of Hudson for the day so I can rest.  By the end of the day I’m feeling much, much better.

Whew.

The worst was finally over.  I still have no idea what hit us.  Hudson threw up five times that first day then had nearly a week of diarrhea.  I only threw up once and then had a day of feeling weak and nauseous then I was fine.  And Michael just had a very mildly upset stomach (which is so crazy because usually he’s the one with the ultra-sensitive stomach).

But we survived our first (and what I wish would be our last, but I’m sure I won’t be that lucky) family plague.

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whole30 here we go

I’m taking us on a new journey, dear readers.  A journey through my Whole30 challenge.  If you follow my Facebook page then you’ve seen my #whole30 posts recently and maybe you were curious (or maybe you don’t give a rip but too bad ’cause I’m going to tell you anyway).

I’m not going to go on and on trying to explain the program.  You can check out the official Whole30 website or Google (or search Pinterest) and you’ll find tons of info.  Also, It Starts With Food is the book that goes along with Whole30 and would be a good thing to read if you’re seriously considering.

it starts with food #whole30

Basically it comes down to this:  for 30 days (starting Sunday, March 1) I’ll be eating meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, fruit, and healthy fats.  And that’s about it.  No dairy.  No grains.  No beans.  No peanut butter (!!) (because peanuts are technically legumes).  No processed foods.  And definitely no added sugar.  It’s like Paleo but stricter.

(see the Whole30 rules here)

Why?  WHY? Why would you want to do that?

Several reasons, really.

At first it was just because I wanted to lose weight.  I’ve really struggled since Hudson was born and after researching Whole30 it sounded like something that could help but not drop my milk supply as long as I make sure to eat enough.  “Traditional” dieting has not worked for me while nursing (contrary to the common idea that breastfeeding makes the weight just fall off).  If you’ve been around a while you know about my weight loss journey in college so I know *how* to lose weight, I just can’t use my old techniques while nursing.

But as I researched I realized I want to do this for so much more.  Hudson doesn’t eat nearly as healthy as I’d like since he eats what we eat and that isn’t very many vegetables these days.  I’m also hoping it’ll help with other things too such as changing my mindset about food, fixing digestion issues, and re-training my body to enjoy real food over processed.

So are you never eating cheese or bread again?

No.  I mean yes.  I mean…I do plan to introduce those foods back into my diet.  I do not feel like Whole30 is a long term way that I’d like to eat.

Part of the thing with Whole30 is that after you finish your 30 days (or longer if you want to keep going longer) you start slowly adding in the foods that could be trigger foods for health issues (gluten, soy, dairy, etc.).  You see how that makes you feel and evaluate whether you think you should eat them or not (read It Starts With Food if you want to know more specifically why they don’t want you to eat those foods).  I personally don’t feel like any of those foods are big issues for me but I want to try going without them just to see (what if they *do* make me feel bad and I’m so used to it that I don’t realize?).  But unless I find that I really need to avoid one of those foods then yes, I will add them back in.

My plan after Whole30 is to go back to eating the way we did during our 100 days of real food challenge – lots of whole, real, minimally-processed foods (including dairy, grains, and beans).

Why am I telling you this?

I fully intended not to say anything because what if I fail?  I was just planning to pop on here in a month and be all “let me tell you about this great lifestyle change I made this month – I’m so much healthier and I lost weight and it’s great!”  Unless it didn’t make a difference and then I wouldn’t say anything.  But then I realized that I’d rather share my journey with you and have that accountability so here I am.

It’s going to be hard.  I don’t eat a lot of meat and I don’t eat a lot of vegetables so it will be a challenge for those to make up the majority of my diet.  But is it impossible?  No.

My meal plan is made.  My grocery list is made.  I’m going shopping this afternoon.  I’ll start prepping what I can this evening.  I’m celebrating my birthday with family tomorrow and will probably overindulge on junk.  And then Sunday it begins.

whole30 meal plan

So here we go.  30 days.  No cheats.  No junk.

Who wants to join me?  We can do this together!

family photos with GingerSnap Photography {and a giveaway}

{this giveaway is now closed}

You know, I’m pretty good about taking pictures of Hudson (oh who am I kidding…I take tons of pictures of him!) and I’ve had professional pictures done of him every three months since he was born but I’m not so good about getting family pictures done so when we had the opportunity to get those done recently I jumped on it!

A friend of mine from church and has a photography businesses and I am constantly blown away by how good her pictures are (and I’m not just saying that because she’s my friend…they are really good – check out her website to see for yourself!).  I was thrilled when Cassie offered to take our pictures and I was double thrilled when she also offered to give away a session to one of my lucky readers!

Unfortunately Hudson was not in the mood for pictures and didn’t want to smile (when The Plague of 2015 hit later that afternoon accompanied with much vomiting I then realized *why* he didn’t feel like smiling) and Michael apparently can’t keep his eyes open in pictures. (sorry Cassie, we’re just giving you practice in having difficult models…)  But we still got some cute shots.  And even if Hudson is Mr. Stone Face he’s still pretty stinkin’ adorable, yes?  
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gingersnaps photography 4gingersnaps photography 7gingersnaps photography 10gingersnaps photography 1gingersnaps photography 6gingersnaps photography 3gingersnaps photography 8gingersnaps photography 9gingersnaps photography 12gingersnaps photography 5I am so, SO glad we got these made and I’m going to make it a priority to get family pictures done from now on!

Cassie also does babies/kids, maternity, weddings, and engagement.  Check out GingerSnap Photography on Facebook here and the website here to find out more.  And fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter to win a session of your own!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will be announced on Monday, March 2.

{Update: Congratulations Amber E. on winning!}

Hudson’s 12 month and smash cake pictures

Ahhh I’m so excited!  Hudson’s 12 month pictures are here!  I am so SO thrilled with how they turned out.  He was in a super smiley mood so we got some great shots.6 8 10 20 21I love that our photographer leaves in some of the not-so-perfect pictures too.  This one of his very concerned face cracks me up.
22I love a naked baby bottom and really wanted a few pictures to capture Hudson’s (and, you know, for future blackmail…).  I usually stick to the color pictures (we get copies of very shot in color and in black and white on our disc of pictures) but this one was so striking in B&W that I liked it better.

24BW 28 37 39 44 49And then…smash cake pictures!  So fun!  Shelley (our photographer) made the banner and the “ONE” letters to match Hudson’s diaper and bow tie.  They turned out perfect!

oneI knew colored icing would be messy so I left that off and used multicolored sprinkles instead.  FYI those are still kinda messy!  I learned my lesson and did a super plain white cake for his party smash cake.66What’s this?
67First taste…
68Oooo good!69Too sweet!!7071He was just eating tiny bites of icing so I finally dug into the cake for him to make it easier to pick up some cake chunks and he went to town.737580Sprinkles, sprinkles, everywhere
87Yay!  Cake!
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I am so glad that we’ve gotten pictures taken of him every three months.  Seeing the difference three months makes is amazing!  I didn’t realize how much his hair had changed since his 9 month pictures but looking back he didn’t even have his curls then!

Looking at these pictures the day we got them (a little less than a month after they were taken) we realized how much Hudson has slimmed down too.  Since these were taken he has had a stomach bug and started walking and I think both things have contributed to him losing weight but he is definitely not the chunky monkey he was in these pictures.

As always, thank you, thank you, a million times thank you! to our wonderful photographer Shelley at Sweet Dreams Photography.  She is so good with Hudson and always does a great job.

Hudson’s adorable bowtie came from here.

(P.S. Does anyone know why the pictures look so odd?  Like kind of wavy or digitized or something?  They look crystal clear and perfect in iphoto but then they don’t look very good when I upload them to my blog.  Something about when I resize them maybe?  Let me know if you have an idea!)

How to remove soured laundry smell

Not that you would ever forget that you had laundry in your washing machine of course, but let’s say that maybe you washed a blanket.  And maybe you forgot about the blanket in your washing machine for TWO WHOLE DAYS.  And then when you realized the blanket was in there and you opened the washer you gagged because the smell was so bad.  And your husband could smell it as soon as he walked up the stairs, not even having to come into the laundry room.  And you were sure it was ruined.

Clearly this did NOT happen to me or anything.  It’s all just hypothetical.

Okay.  Lies.

All lies.

This totally happened. *hangs head in shame*

The smell was SO BAD y’all and I thought for sure that blanket was a goner.

But no worries!  I got the smell out in just ONE washing.  Hooray!  And it was super easy.

I used my normal laundry detergent (I’ve been making my own with this recipe for several years) and added three drops of Thieves and three drops of Purification essential oil.

how to get rid of soured laundry stink

I’ll be honest that I was a little (ok, a lot) skeptical because I’ve dealt with soured laundry in the past and in my experience the smell lingers through many washings.  I love my essential oils but I was sure that it would take more than one “treatment” to get rid of the stink.  But when I pulled the blanket out of the washer the sour smell was completely gone!  I keep picking it up and sniffing it just to make sure and yep, still nothing!

I’m excited to use this next to wash the clothes that were in the washing machine when it broke.  That was four weeks ago and the clothes from that load (which have been washed several times since then) still have a faint sour smell.

(Interested in essential oils?  Contact me to learn more or get started here.)

Hudson’s 12 month update

And here we are…Hudson’s 12 month update!  My tiny baby has grown into a big one year old!  Here’s what he has been up to this month.

growth

At his one year check up he was 23 pounds 9 ounces and 29 1/4 inches long.

Fun fact: he was 6 pounds 14 oz and 19 1/4 when he was born so he has gained almost 17 pounds and grown 10 inches in the last year!

He is mostly in 18 months clothes plus a few of his larger 12 month clothes.  Size 5 disposable diaper.  In his cloth diapers he is on the largest rise setting and the third snap in on each side.

Here’s our fun doctor visit comparison.  It is amazing to see the difference from when he was four days old to now!

12 month dr comparison

It is much harder to recreate this picture with a wiggly one year old!  This is just a sampling of what Michael captured while trying to get a “good” shot for the comparison.

outtakes

food

Hudson eats it all!  He can be picky – some days he’ll like a food and then the next day refuse to eat it, but there isn’t one thing consistently that he won’t eat.  Some favorite foods are currently egg yolks (he doesn’t really like the whites when we fry eggs but he’ll gobble up the yolk!), cheese, vegetables from vegetable soup, chicken, sweet potatoes, avocado, Greek yogurt, applesauce, pita bread, toast, and bananas.

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A new exciting food for him this month was his first taste of sugar.  We had smash cake pictures done when we did his one year old pictures and then he also had a smash cake at his birthday party.  I did white cake with white buttercream icing both times.  He liked it and ate some but I think it was just too sugary for him so he didn’t eat much and mostly just played with it.  We won’t make it a habit to give him junk food but it was a special treat for his birthday.

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We also gave him peanut butter, just a tiny bit on some bread.  He liked it but wasn’t just super in love with it like I thought he might be.  He had his first bites of bacon (along with biscuits and gravy) on Christmas morning.  Yum yum!

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Our nursing pattern is still pretty much the same – four times during the day and once or twice during the night, however he’s getting to where he can easily go more than four hours between feedings so it may be time to stretch out his feedings a little more.

sleep

What’s that?

Actually, things got better…and then they got worse.  After the craziness of the holidays passed we put more focus on working on Hudson’s sleep.  He had gotten to where he would nurse but not fall asleep at night like he used to and then rocking him to sleep was a multi-hour (yes, really) nightmare.  So instead I would feed him and set him in his cosleeper.  I (or Michael) would lay or sit on our bed right there where he could see us and touch us and we could put his paci in if he dropped it, talk to him if he got upset, etc.

He did really well at first.  The first night it took an hour and a half for him to fall asleep but he did eventually go to sleep.  He just talked to himself and played and then laid and rolled around before he finally fell asleep.  The next night it only took an hour and 15 minutes.  Then an hour.  Then 45 minutes.  Things were looking up!  This seemed like the perfect solution.

And then.  It stopped.

If he falls asleep while he’s nursing (which he has done a few times recently) and I try to lay him down he screams.  If he’s still awake and we put him in his bed he screams.  We’ve have several nights where it has taken until midnight to get him to fall asleep.

IMG_7561This was one night at about 11pm after we had fought and fought to get him to sleep.  We finally plopped him down in his play pen in the living room so we could have a break.

He wants to be held, all the time and preferably by me.  I can’t remember the last time he actually slept in his bed past midnight.  Also when he’s sleeping (and being held by me) he now wants to touch, touch, touch.  He likes to put his hand in the collar of my shirt and rub my chest or shoulder.  I feel like a horrible mom to say this but it drives me batty!  I am just so touched out some days!

Naps are still pretty good….as long as I hold him.  Two naps a day, at 10 and 2 (ish).

So this is what life is like right:  Wake up whenever Hudson wakes up.  I’d love to wake up early to do my Bible study and exercise, but as soon as I get up and leave the bed he wakes up.  Diaper, nurse, breakfast, clean up.  Time for morning nap.  Hold him.  Nurse.  Lunch. Try to run one errand or do one thing around the house.  Hold him for afternoon nap. Nurse.  Michael comes home – hooray!  He can watch Hudson for a while so I can get a few things done.  Supper.  Bath.  Nurse.  Bedtime.  Try to get him to sleep for forever.  Get him back to sleep the whole eight million times he wakes up between when we lay him down and when we go to sleep.  Try to get a few things done in between the many wake-ups.  Go to sleep.

Rinse and repeat.

I’m exhausted.  I can’t get anything done and I feel so frustrated.  I have almost no time away from Hudson.  I adore my child and love to hold him but not all day every day!

Well.

That got away from me a little bit.  Sorry to go into a long rant about his sleeping, today has just been one of the more frustrating days.

We are trying some other things to help him sleep and I know eventually this too shall pass, I just feel overwhelmed sometimes.

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Also, for the record (because anytime I mention our sleep issues I have some well meaning person tell me I need to let him cry) we do not use the cry it out method.  We just personally feel for this particular child and this particular situation it is not the right thing to do.  I won’t go into details here and I’m also not saying you’re a bad person if you cry it out.  Just so we’re on the same page.

Ok moving on.

mobility

Hudson is so, SO close to walking!  He easily cruises around the furniture and walks behind his push toy walker thingy.  He can stand independently for a few seconds but then drops to the floor and crawls.

On his birthday he learned how to climb the stairs.  I ran upstairs for a minute to switch some laundry and when I came back down the stairs I found he had climbed halfway up!  I nearly had a heart attack.  Time for a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs in addition to the one at the top.

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He has also learned how to open cabinets.  Cabinet locks coming soon!

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communication

Hudson says one word and one sign.  He says “bye” or “bye bye” when prompted (or when he hears someone else say “bye”) and he can sign the word “milk”.  However, he uses the sign for milk to mean a lot more than just milk!  He uses it when he’s about to nurse, he uses it when he’s eating table food and wants more (we’re working on the sign for “more” but he doesn’t use it yet), and he uses it to indicate that he wants mommy (even if he doesn’t actually want to eat milk).

There are tons of other things that he understands but doesn’t say or sign yet.  For example, if you say “no” he shakes his head back and forth.

firsts

Previously Hudson would laugh when we tickled him but that was it.  Now he laughs when he thinks something is funny.  It’s adorable!

We went and played at the indoor play place at the mall.  He hated it at first and wouldn’t leave my side but after we had been there a while he started to crawl around and play.

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Hudson finally got to meet his African rafikis (Swahili for “friends”)!  Our friends, the Gaineses, moved to Africa while I was pregnant with Hudson; they came home for furlough and we were super excited for our kiddos to get to meet!  So special to have all my babies together.

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adventures

Christmas!  (It’s actually hard to believe that I’m talking about Christmas in this update, it feels like it was so long ago!)  Hudson had a big Christmas!  He went to Knoxville for Christmas with my dad’s family, Springfield several times for Christmas with my family, Michael’s family, and Michael’s dad’s family, and then Mayfield for Christmas with my mom’s family.  Lots of traveling!  He did pretty well with all the traveling thanks to Daniel Tiger and our discovery that watching tv in the car helped.  He would get a little fussy when we had to drive a long way (especially if it was during nap time) but overall (compared to how he used to be) he did great!

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Christmas Eve day at Mamie’s.IMG_7351 IMG_7352

Eating off a silver spoon at Grandmama’s Christmas Eve.IMG_7411

Christmas morning, getting ready to open presents.

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Hudson did such a good job pulling things out of his stocking!IMG_7363

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What do you get for Christmas when you’re a baby and don’t know any different?  A practical gift like diapers of course!IMG_7378

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IMG_7380 My boys reading their new books.IMG_7383 Taking a nap Christmas afternoon at Joe Daddy and Gran’s.

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Playing the piano at Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Squatty’s Christmas night.IMG_7397

other stuff

Baths are fine again; he got over whatever fear he had of them and now he’s back to splashing and playing.  Which is good because between the mess he makes eating and how much he sweats when he sleeps he definitely needs a bath!

Hudson got some hats and gloves for Christmas.  The first time I put them on he was not sure about the gloves – he just kept turning his hands looking at them!

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Helping me fold towels the day after our washer broke.

IMG_7477 I love how he sits and looks at books.  It’s so cute!  IMG_7500 IMG_7501

Playing with Mommy’s calculator.  Future math genius in the making!IMG_7510
Trying on ties to find one for his smash cake pictures.  He looks like a little professor here.

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Kisses!  We needed a picture for the K in our ABC book…I wanted to use a picture of kisses but I realized that didn’t have any (how sad is that?) so we snapped a few real quick.IMG_7591 IMG_7604

Trying to take some pictures of my big boy.IMG_9857 This is what happens 75% of the time that I try to take pictures…he immediately starts crawling toward me and trying to get the camera!  Silly boy.IMG_9861 He likes to pooch up his lips and say Ooooooo.IMG_9872 IMG_9927 This boy is ONE!IMG_9931 IMG_9941 Family picture at 7:55pm on January 23 (his exact birthday)IMG_9948 The day after his birthday we woke up to a beautiful snow!  This was the first time Hudson had really seen snow (the last time it snowed he was only two months old)IMG_9950 Hudson didn’t care too much for it.  He played with it on his glove a little but screamed when we try to set him down in it.IMG_9952

And that wraps up Hudson’s first year of life!  It’s amazing how much he’s changed physically and in his abilities to do things over the course of the year!

12 month collageOnward and upward to year two, my sweet boy!

 

A personalized ABC book

personalized Shutterfly ABC book

Have you ever made a photo book?  I’m a “traditional” scrapbooker and prefer to print off my pictures and create my layouts (although I would like to try to dabble in digital scrapbooking someday).  I have made a few photo books through the years, mostly as gifts for other people, but they were very basic and I’ve never really looked into the templates and options out there.

personalized Shutterfly ABC book A and B

At a playdate recently my friend Amber showed me a photo book that her friend had made for her son’s first birthday and I thought it was the cutest thing ever!  She said that Shutterfly has an ABC photo book template – you just put your pictures in and you can change the wording if you want.  Convenient!

personalized Shutterfly ABC book G and H

Michael and I brainstormed words that would go along with each letter of the alphabet.  Then I started going through our pictures of Hudson from this last year to find some that would work.  It took some time but it was fun!

personalized Shutterfly ABC book I, J, and K

In case you need some inspiration, here’s our list.

A – adorable
B – bath time and bed head
C – church
D – daddy
E – enjoying play
F – feet and fingers
G – giraffe
H – hiking, hats, and Hudson
I – iPhone
J – jack ‘o lantern
K – kisses
L – laughing
M – mommy
N – necklace
O – overalls
P – pianos and pouts
Q – quilt
R – reading
S – swimming and sunglasses
T – teeth and towels
U – unwrapping
V – vest
W – wearing
X – xoxo
Y – yum and yay
Z – zzzzzzzz

(we had to get a little creative with some of them, can you tell?)

personalized Shutterfly ABC book R, S, and T

I had a code for a free 8×8 Shutterfly photo book so I used that (I get them all the time – always check before you pay full price!) and all I had to pay was shipping ($7 or $8 I think).  The pages are regular paper pages (not hard like a board book) but for that price I’m not complaining.

personalized Shutterfly ABC book spine

This was a perfect, easy, inexpensive birthday gift!  Not only is it fun for Hudson to look at and help him learn his ABCs but it also serves as a little scrapbook of his first year.

personalized Shutterfly ABC book back

mama cloth 101

Pink Lemonade Shop mama cloth pads

Something funny happens once you start cloth diapering…you begin to look at other items that you throw away and wonder if you can find a reusable option.  Like baby wipes.  Or paper towels.  Or cloth napkins.

Or *gasp* menstrual pads.

Yep.  I know it’s kind of weird.  It took me a while to get used to the idea too.

So.  Let’s talk mama cloth.  Cloth menstrual pads.  They are seriously awesome.

At some point along the way of my crunchy mommy journey I started to hear about mama cloth.  It kept coming up in the mommy groups I belong to and in conversation with other moms so I got curious and I began to look a little further.  They are super popular for postpartum (in lieu of those humongous diapers pads you probably used) but I didn’t learn about them until after I was past that point.  But by the time my first postpartum period arrived when Hudson was almost 10 months old I knew I wanted to give them a try.

I did my research and Pink Lemonade Shop seemed to be the #1 recommended brand of mama cloth.  I waited until they ran a sale after Thanksgiving and then bought an assortment of pads to try.

Pink Lemonade Shop mama cloth stash

I LOVE them!

They are so, SO soft and much more comfortable than the disposable ones.  The wings snap around your underwear so no sticky papers that get folded up under themselves or stick to your skin.  And they are super easy, much easier than I expected.

Here’s the run down:

Why might you want to use mama cloth?  Like with cloth diapers, getting a stash of mama cloth is expensive up front but will likely save you money on your feminine products since they are reusable.  I have not run the numbers on that though so feel free to do some number crunching on your own and report back.  For me it wasn’t the money savings this time (although that is a nice perk), it was for comfort.  Conventional menstrual pads are so uncomfortable.  I think I’m sensitive to the chemicals in those products and I just feel really yucky and almost diaper rash-y when I use them.

Minimizing waste and being environmentally friendly might be another big reason why you’d choose mama cloth.

I have not yet experienced this myself (I think it’s too soon to tell) or looked for any scientific evidence but I have heard many people say that after switching to mama cloth their periods became much lighter and their cramping decreased significantly.  I’m probably not explaining this correctly but the theory I’ve heard about this is that the chemicals in disposable pads and tampons pull the blood from your body (since absorbing liquid is what it is designed to do) and that actually makes your period worse.  Letting the body bleed at it’s own pace (by not using those chemicals) results in an easier period.

Like I said, that’s just what I’ve heard.  But it’s worth a try!

What about the gross factor?  Just about every time I used regular pads I would end up with some blood on my panties that I had to rinse and stain treat, so honestly I wasn’t concerned about that…I figured if I’m already dealing with blood it wouldn’t really matter.  And so far I’ve had no issues with it.  It’s much less gross than dealing with baby poop!

How do I wash them?  I include them with my diapers.  I run the diapers through a rinse cycle first on their own, and then add the mama cloth in for the wash cycle.  If you don’t have cloth diapers then you could just add them to a regular load of laundry that you will be washing with hot water.  Your mama cloth will come with more specific instructions, I’m sure, but it’s really not difficult at all.

What all do I need?  A stash of mama cloth, of course.  Plus a few wet bags.

mama cloth 101

Like I said, I chose to buy my mama cloth from Pink Lemonade Shop.  The prints are adorable (which is certainly not necessary but is a nice perk) and they were by far the most recommended brand.  She has some starter kits already put together and if you are unsure of what you want that’s a good way to try several sizes out.

PInk Lemonade Shop mama cloth setPink Lemonade Shop sets are usually coordinating colors like this one that came with a 9, 10, and 11 inch pad

Because it had been over a year and a half since I’d had a period (pregnancy and then breastfeeding) I really couldn’t remember how heavy my cycles were plus I wasn’t sure if that would change after having a baby.  Since I wasn’t totally sure what all I needed I got out some of my old disposable pads and panty liners, measured them and bought pads that were about that size.

What I started with:

– one 11 inch overnight pad
– two 10 inch heavy pads
– four 9 inch day pads
– two 7.5 inch pantyliners

pink lemonade mama cloth stash

This was a good amount to try but was not enough for what I would consider a full stash.  I was having to wash every day or day and a half and while it’s only for a week that is still a lot to keep up with.  I’d much prefer to be able to make it about two days so I’ll continue adding to my stash in the future.

There are different fabrics and materials.  I chose the ones that have a minky top with a windpro fleece back.  The minky is incredibly soft and the best part is that it does not stain.  I know!  So great!  In fact all the pictures that go along with this post are of my mama cloth that has been used several times – no blood stains!  You can read about the other fabric options here.  One of the other options is raw silk; I haven’t tried it but it’s supposed to be wonderful for anyone who deals with yeast infections because it is anti-fungal.

windro fleece backs of pink lemonade shop mama clothbacks of some of my mama cloth – all are fleece; the brown has pilled just a little but is still totally functional of course

You’ll also need a wetbag to use to store your used mama cloth in until you wash them.  My favorite wetbags are these Bummis bags.  The small one is the perfect size and has a little loop with a snap that you could hang over a door handle or even on a hook on the side of the toilet.

bummis small wet bag for mama cloth

What about on the go?  I use a Planetwise travel wet/dry bag for on the go.  I put a pad or two in the “dry” side (the dry side is for clean items) and then I’m out I put the dirty one in the “wet” side of the wet bag.  It’s no more difficult then with a disposable pad and actually it’s easier because you don’t have to hunt down a trash can.

9 inch day pad from pink lemonade shop fits perfectly in a planetwise wet dry bagone 9 inch pink lemonade shop day pad in a planetwise wet dry baga 9 inch day pad laid flat fits perfectly in the dry pocket

two 9 inch pink lemonade shop day pads rolled up in a planetwise wet dry bagtwo 9 inch day pads rolled up can also fit in the dry pocket

So what do you think?  Are you intrigued?  Totally disgusted?  Planning to try one or two?  Ready to make the switch completely?

P.S. If you are more of a tampon user then you might want to look into a reusable menstrual cup like the Diva Cup or Lunette.  I have not tried these and to be honest, while mama cloth doesn’t gross me out this kinda does, but I know tons of women who adore theirs so it’s definitely worth a look!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this review.  I bought all these items with my very own hard earned dollars and these are my honest thoughts.  Some links are affiliate links.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday party

We celebrated Hudson’s first birthday with a Very Hungry Caterpillar themed party.  I picked it because I love that book but also because it was a super easy one to plan for – there were tons of ideas to steal inspire me on Pinterest and since the book is all about food I was just able to use that as my meal plan rather than having to figure out what to serve everyone.

My goal was a simple but fun party and I think we achieved that!  I did a few decorations but nothing crazy, a simple meal, and we just tried to relax and enjoy everything.  I’m sure Hudson had no clue what was going on but I think he had fun playing with his friends.

Here are some pictures from the party.

The invitation:

Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday invitation

(invitation template here; I used Picmonkey to personalize it and then used Shutterfly to order them)

The decorations:

An easy and cute door decoration made with paper plates and some scrapbooking paper.

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Balloons and more scrapbooking paper for the caterpillar on the wall.

very hungry caterpillar birthday party balloon caterpillar

Balloon and streamer backdrop for pictures

very hungry caterpillar birthday party backdrop

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I love, love, LOVE this caterpillar with monthly pictures over the gift table.  It was so easy to make – I used my Silhouette to cut the circles and numbers out of scrapbooking paper and slapped two of my favorite pictures from each month of his life on it.

I won’t be taking this down any time soon because I love looking at it.

very hungry caterpillar birthday party present tablevery hungry caterpillar birthday party montly pictures

Fun pennant (banner? bunting? not sure what these are called) over the food table

very hungry caterpillar birthday party banner(free download here)

very hungry caterpillar birthday party banner and food table

The menu (mostly inspired by the book):

- sandwiches (peanut butter sandwiches cut into circles and placed with a tomato “head” to look like a caterpillar and then bread and fixings to build your own cold cut sandwiches)
– chips
– oranges (Halo clementines, actually)
– strawberries
– apples
– watermelon
– cheese cubes
– pigs in blankets (to represent the sausages)
– pickles
– grape caterpillars (grapes on a skewer to look like caterpillars)
– chocolate cake
– ice cream

very hungry caterpillar birthday party food table very hungry caterpillar birthday party fruit very hungry caterpillar birthday party sandwiches

very hungry caterpillar birthday party sausagesvery hungry caterpillar birthday party grapes

very hungry caterpillar birthday party cakes

Hudson’s smash cake – wise friends told us not to use colored icing and after I used colored sprinkles on his smash cake for his one year pictures I decided that was a messy bad idea too, so we just kept it very simple for the cake for his party and used a removable topper for color!

very hungry caterpillar birthday party smash cake

The cake for the rest of us.  Not my best decorating job and I wasn’t happy with the way it turned out but I also wasn’t willing to spend hours on it this time so I’m ok with a less-than-perfect cake (becoming a parent has really helped me relax and refocus my priorities!)very hungry caterpillar birthday party cake(printable food labels here)

A sweet friend of ours embroidered (appliquéd? not sure of the correct term here) this shirt for Hudson to wear at the party.  So adorable!!

very hungry caterpillar birthday party shirt

Cake time!

IMG_0028IMG_0029IMG_0031IMG_0042IMG_0048IMG_0057IMG_0061He loved his cake!  He dove in and chowed down.  And then he stayed up until midnight that night so I’m thinking all that sugar might have been a bad idea!

We had some extra balloons blown up that we didn’t get around for using as decorations.  We had put them all in Hudson’s pack n play in our living room to keep them corralled; the kids found them and had a blast!

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Time for presents!

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IMG_0141Please note that after opening all those toys, Hudson is still playing with balloons while his friends enjoy the toys!  Hilarious!  It’s like they say – boxes and paper (and balloons) are all kids really care about…not the actual presents.IMG_0143IMG_0166IMG_0170

We had so much fun!  Visiting with friends, watching the kids play, and celebrating my big boy’s birthday.  It was perfect!

I tried to give credit to the inspirations for all my decorations but I realized that I had seen the same ideas show up in many blogs so it’s hard to credit just one person.  Check out my Pinterest board instead if you want to see where I got my ideas.

Also a huge thanks to my friend Tiffany who grabbed my camera and took a ton of pictures during the party for me!

3,000 feedings, give or take

With Hudson’s birthday Friday we hit a huge milestone: one year of breastfeeding.   I did a little math and that comes out to roughly 3,000 nursing sessions (with a wide margin in either direction of course).

THREE THOUSAND.  3,000 times my body has nourished and fed Hudson.  Isn’t that amazing?

If you’ve read my breastfeeding story then you know that I was very unsure if I would be able to breastfeed at all but my ultimate goal if I were able to breastfeed was to do so for a year.

WE DID IT!

It was NOT easy.  I shared about our many issues here and how incredibly difficult of a time we had at the beginning.  When I posted that we were eight weeks in and had gotten over the very worst.  My last paragraph of that post said:

“Breastfeeding was my Mount Everest.  My marathon.  It was something that I felt so very passionate about and was going to do absolutely everything I could to make it happen.  It turned out being much harder than I anticipated but I persevered on and we did it.  I couldn’t be more proud.”

Rereading that entire post, and that quote in particular, makes me cry.  Eight weeks compared to the 52 I’ve now nursed is such a small percentage, but it was so trying and so discouraging, and that paragraph just sums up everything I was feeling.

The worst of the breastfeeding issues had thankfully passed by the time I wrote that post.  I still had pain every time he latched, although not nearly as bad, for the first five months.  Months five to eleven were great – super easy.  As he gained more mobility and head control nursing at night became easier because he could lay next to me in bed and I could doze some.  Latching was basically painless.  Feedings were much quicker.

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Pain unfortunately came back in month ten or eleven as he got his top teeth.  He has only bitten me once, but many times when he latched it hurt and he would leave teeth marks just from the pressure of his teeth.  Thankfully that has now passed for the most part.

There have been several plugged ducts but have never gotten bad enough to turn into mastitis.  I’ve had supply dips only twice since the original issues, both times when I tried to diet and apparently didn’t eat enough.  Both times were easily resolved with some of my tincture.  Hudson is a very active nurser who likes to kick and pinch while he eats.  That’s very frustrating.

For six months he was exclusively breastfed.  At six months we introduced solids but still kept breastmilk as his main food source.  At a year he still nurses several times a day but also eats rather large meals.  He won’t drink from a bottle, only from the breast.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses but compared to the beginning it’s been a cake walk.  Feedings are so quick, less than 15 minutes!  The frequency has gone down.  He no longer spits up tons after every feeding.  We both are experienced nursers now and know what we’re doing.  Compared to the poor fumbling pair we were a year ago we are total pros now!

Reflecting back on the year it amazes me how far we’ve come.  Being able to breastfeed my baby was so important to me and it means the world that we were able to do so.  Yes, it can be challenging and yes it can be painful but the bond we have is indescribable.

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So where do we go from here?

I actually don’t have a plan.  Like I said, getting to a year was my goal and I didn’t think much past that.  I do not intend to wean him now just because he’s one and that’s some magic cut off.  I don’t have any problems with extended breastfeeding (breastfeeding past a year old) and think it’s very natural (contrary to what many people think) so I’m sure we’ll keep going but I have no idea how long.  I hope to let him go until he decides to self-wean but I guess we’ll have to see because I may get tired of it and be ready to speed up the process before he is.  Hudson is not a comfort nurser so he may easily quit nursing one day.  Who knows?

I’ll be honest, there are many times that I want to be DONE.  I’m the only one who can feed him.  I can’t leave him for more than a few hours.  I get tired of the kicking and pinching and slapping and rubbing.  Some days I’m just touched out.

I want my body back.  I have lost almost no weight in the year since he was born.  I’ve tried.  I’ve exercised and tried to eat healthy and yet, nada.  From what I’ve read some women don’t lose the weight until after they quit breastfeeding (a total opposite from what I’ve always heard about how breastfeeding helps you lose the weight quickly) especially if they experienced supply issues.  Well that sounds familiar, huh?  Selfishly, I want to be able to exercise and diet and lose the weight and not have to worry about my milk suffering.  I’m 40 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight and 60 pounds over a good healthy weight.  We aren’t ready for baby #2 yet but when we do get ready for that I’d rather not be packing baby #2 pregnancy pounds on top of the ones still hanging around from baby #1.  Plus my chest is huge.  Like, way bigger than it ever was before the reduction.  I have so few clothes that fit it isn’t funny…even my maternity shirts are too small in the bust.

But then I think of how convenient it is to be able to feed him.  And how breastmilk is so good for him.  And the bond that we have.  And then it makes me sad to think about quitting.  So I guess only time will tell.

But no matter what happens I am so, SO thankful that I was able to reach my goal of a year of breastfeeding.  Being able to breastfeed my baby was important to me and I’m glad it we made it.

Photo Jan 14, 3 06 13 PM

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And now a few fun facts because there may be a few of you sitting there thinking “ewww breastfeeding past a year is weird and it’s so super creepy to see a toddler breastfeeding and if they do that then that mom clearly has some issues going on”.

Yes, in the U.S. it is not the norm to breastfeed past a year.  In fact, only 26.7% of babies are still breastfeeding at all at a year old (source) (<— That’s actually the national average, some states are much less.  I think Mississippi is only 10%.  You can see how your state ranks in the CDC’s 2014 breastfeeding report card)  However, worldwide the average weaning age is 4.2 years old (source).

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers should breastfeed “at least until one year of age and then as long as baby and mother mutually want to.” (source)  The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends mothers breastfeed until two years of age or beyond (source).

Kellymom.com, the go-to website for all things breastfeeding related, lists a ton of benefits to extended breastfeeding (aka breastfeeding past a year) with studies cited for all listed benefits.  I encourage you to check it out.

Now, please don’t get all worked up because “Caitlin is saying that I’m a bad mom if I don’t breastfeed and that she is awesome because she breastfeeds and if you don’t breastfeed past a year then you’re awful!!!“.  That is NOT why I included the last few paragraphs.  It’s not to condemn anyone.  It’s not to make anyone feel guilty.  It’s not even to say that I’ll necessarily nurse for another year or two or three.  It is strictly to try to shed some light on the cultural misconception that we (most Americans) have that breastfeeding past a year is weird or crazy or gross and has no benefits.

And before I hop on my soap box about our twisted perception of how breasts are fine to be flashed around if they’re used sexually but don’t even think about discussing breastfeeding because then breasts are just wrong, ’cause we don’t want to go chasing that rabbit, let me leave you with a personal thought:

I used to think extended breastfeeding was weird too.  I didn’t have a specific cut off age in my mind, but I certainly thought breastfeeding a toddler was strange.  And then I had a baby.  A baby who is on the verge of toddlerhood as he cruises around furniture and walks behind his push toys.  An almost-toddler who is still very much a baby who needs his mommy.  A baby who can sign “milk” and gets so, so excited when he knows it’s time for milk because he loves it.  A baby who unlatches and gives me the biggest, milkiest grin ever after he’s full.  So now it seems a lot more natural and a lot less weird.

Like I said, I don’t know what the next year will look like for us breastfeeding-wise but I’m going to keep on nursing and we’ll just take it a little at a time.