Fed is Best!

Note: I started writing this awhile ago and honestly forgot about it, but in light of the recent story about the new mom who ended her life because of the pressure she felt to breastfeed, I decided I should actually finish and publish this one. Remember, if you are feeling the stress as a new mom to do what society dictates, that at the end of the day, FED IS BEST! Whether breast, formula, pump, however you can nourish your child without causing stress is the best way for you! I’m always here to talk too. Just send me a message if you feel there’s nowhere else to turn! I’ve done it all! 

~K


My take on the ‘normalize breastfeeding’ viral photo trend comes with a bottle. Why, you ask? Read on! 
 I’m sure I’ve already written it somewhere in a previous post, but in case I haven’t, I am an exclusive pumper (‘EP’er). This means that to nourish my child, my handy dandy breast pumps and I set to work to prep bottles for a ravenous little mouth.  Double, triple (quadruple?) the work…remove milk, put into bottles, sterilize pump parts, feed baby, sterilize bottles, repeat. Crazy as it sounds, this is what has decidedly works best in our house.

This crazy notion was certainly never my first choice (for any of the three kiddos). I was able to breastfeed our first for a few months until he refused…so I pumped and supplemented with formula when needed. Baby Bird was the laziest feeder ever so I pumped…up to 60oz a day and we donated unused milk to 9 other babies in need. Sprout started out so well but refused since she constantly choked due to crazy flow, so I pumped…this time maxing out at 120 oz every day. I donated to 5 other littles this time too and our freezer is full! This amounts to a collective 30+ months of being attached to my pump at the….well.


Baby bird  and ‘her pump’. She and her siblings have learned great patience with my pumping. Up to 4 hours a day is devoted to pumping activities.

It is  very real part of motherhood (at least in Canada) to feel the pressure to breastfeed. And rightfully so with all of the research hailing the benefits. I looked into everything before Moose was born, planning to EBF. There are supports in place, workshops, support groups, meetings, books, blogs, websites all hailing the importance of breastfeeding. But all of these groups focus on the au naturale version. I’ve tried to fit in with these groups, often greeted with looks of pity or or confusion.  Why wouldn’t I just naturally breastfeed my child? Wow, I must be crazy to pump for that long! Which formula do you supplement with? Maybe I should just try again, that I did a…b…c…. wrong the first thousand times I tried. No thanks. I don’t need to be greeted with the pity party. I’ll just lock myself away and pump over here, thanks. 

On that note, the HUGE normalize breastfeeding campaign that has taken the world and my social media feeds by storm, while well-intended, is a constant reminder to ‘other’ feeders, that they are considered second-rate. Or, it really comes off that way anyway. Formula feeders are generally accepted in public (aside from the similar pity looks). There are super cool gadgets for formula now and if you are out in public and you have to mix a bottle of formula? No problem. If you have to breastfeed in public? There is some backlash but that becoming less and less. No problem.  Is it considered normal or natural or acceptable for me to whip out my pump at the park? At a restaurant? Not on your life. Guess what? The lonely pumper is still sitting in a bathroom stall with a bag of sterilized gear if stuck out in public for an extended period of time. We are left sitting in vehicles while the rest of the family enjoys their time at the park. We are forced to excuse ourselves from events to take care of business Does anyone make a fuss or create positive memes about pumpers? Nope!  Not that I’m saying I really want to be all strapped in while at a formal event, but still. As well, workplaces are required to provide a place for breastfeeding moms to pump at work. Cool. I’m an elementary school teacher. Extra places to do such activities are pretty darned hard to come by, so I hide in my vehicle at recess. Good times. Glamorous even! 


If you are looking for a great on-the-go, supplemental pump, this little jobbie is fantastic! Wish I’d have found it years ago!

There are support groups, mail-in coupon programs, websites, even programs where special gifts are given for baby age milestones for formula feeders as well. It’s been tempting, especially this time with three littles needing my attention, to jump on the formula bandwagon, but since my body is still working to create ‘liquid gold’, and frankly, I’d rather not add the expense of formula to our budget, I’ve continued on.  Even my husband has asked why I don’t just quit. Anyone who has been down this road knows that cold turkey quitting isn’t really a good option, unless mastitis and blocked ducts sounds fun to you! No? I agree.


Fed is best, folks. Fed. Is. Best. 

I am supportive of every type of feeding. Feed your kids! That’s all! Do whatever is best for your family with no judgement! You don’t need to pity someone else for their feeding situation. Perhaps it was a choice they’ve made primarily without it being a last resort! Perhaps not! We are feeding our kids. Babies are growing and developing. Breastfed and bottle fed kids will grow up to be friends, do the same activities and reach milestones. You are doing what’s best for you! Take care of yourself! If you need support, whether breast, pump, formula feeding, I’m here in this venue! I will not judge, won’t give advice if you don’t want it, but I promise to listen! We all need support! I’m here for you!

~K

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Elf on the Shelf Inspiration!

A couple years ago, our two oldest were gifted an elf on the shelf. For those who are unfamiliar, the elf (aka creepy, dead-eyed, stick-thin plastic and fabric doll) comes to keep tabs on the members on the house by day and travels to the North Pole at night to report to Santa. Nobody can touch the elf or (s)he loses its magic and needs to recuperate in the North Pole for a few days. (Oh, am I hoping for someone to touch him this year!!).  Every day, the elf is watching from a new vantage point…at least this was the initial idea. Cute, right? Well…..

Somewhere along the way, Elf on the Shelf went berserk and started doing crazy things, sometimes naughty, and/or providing things for excited-for-Christmas kids to do. Every. Single. Day. For 24 days. 

I’m sorry to say we fell into the trap of doing fun things with our elf (which Moose named Chunky) the first year. Now we are on year 3, and to be honest, it’s getting a wee bit daunting to come up with things for this stuffed toy to do. Our space is VERY limited so many of the ideas I’ve seen can’t really work with us, so we’ve had to get pretty creative. I thought I’d put some of the shenanigans Chunky has done in the last 3 years here in case someone is looking for yet another exciting idea for their own elf to do. Please, PLEASE add any outside the box ideas in the comments…its only the sixth day and I’m grasping this year. I have a few more things planned (including the Christmas Eve box that Chunky always brings before leaving until next year, and the letter with a map of a route to take to look for Christmas lights in our jammies after bathtime one night), but more ideas are more than welcome! 

Anyway, here are some of the silly things our elf has gotten into! Hope it can inspire any elf owners out there! 

Chunky somehow managed to get new pairs of mittens inside of a balloons! How delightful (this is what they are waking up to. I’m waking up to horrendously sore fingers from messing with these balloons)

He braved the chilly night air to surprise the kiddos with some outdoor decorations! Wow, that elf is selfless!

Felt scraps cut into geometric shapes make for fun creative play! Ahhh, what a fun way to use up scraps.

Chunky has some sick obsession with underpants. Here is an underpants swing/hammock. Moose had a chat with the elf about the fact that there was a shortage of underpants pranks thus far this year.

We don’t typically have sugary cereal so 2 years ago, they were totally convinced that these were ‘elf cheerios’. #momwin

Baking adventures are always a great hit! If you’re going to bake with them anyway, have the elf bring the ingredients. Everyone wins!

Slap some food colouring in the milk for a crazy morning surprise! Frankly, it looks disgusting but they LOVE it. We did green Year 1 and purple Year 2…

This one I have seen before…turning everyone into Rudolph (this was year 1. For year 2, we added moustaches)

Another year 1 online find: candy cane zip line! This one was done in haste when the whole family had a stomach virus and sick-as-a-dog Mum had to do something last minute.

Always include an elf in the bathroom day!

Because clearly I’m not busy enough, I helped Chunky write a book for Moose and tiny Baby Bird during Year 1. We still read it often.

Styrofoam balls in the living room. This was an all-out riot! Nobody was injured, they practiced their hand-eye coordination?? Maybe??

Oh yay. Something for Mum to scrub off the mirror. 😐

Teeny tiny pancakes for breakfast. Cute but time consuming!! They ate every bite though.

This one I’ve seen a hundred times. Year 2 excitement when Moose and Bird were in love with the Minions.

If you feel like wasting lots and lots of wrapping paper…have at ‘er!

Yes, Chunky got all crafty and crocheted them dolls last year. Year 1, he made them hats.

Again with the undies…flying from the ceiling fan.

Decorating with Post-it notes…not just for office pranks anymore! (Although lots fell off the wall)

Snap, Crackle, Chunky? Took them ages to find him!

Cans of stuff they won’t eat make a cool drum set!

Oh Chunky, it’s called ROCK climbing, not SOCK climbing! A good way to replace socks, mitts, etc…let the blasted elf bring them!

Itty bitty doughnuts (aka Cheerios in icing sugar, cinnamon, chocolate and sprinkles)


Store-bought gingerbread house/family/train/whatever kits! Easy, they love it. 
Some other things we’ve done and o can’t find the pics:

-Scavenger hunt for Christmas ornaments that have been hidden

-Various craft kits

– elf colours (or if mum/dad is too lazy or strapped for time, scribbles) in Christmas colouring book and puts completed pages all over the house

-crayons and blow dryer on canvas craft

-string lights in the kids’ bedrooms

-writing letters to Santa: paper, crayons, stickers, etc put into mailbox to use 

-elf takes selfies with sleeping family members and prints off pics (or just sets wallpaper on tablet/phone)

-elf goes onto the ‘elf yourself’ app and makes a video of the whole family dressed as elves. 

There are so many more! As I get time, I’ll add more! Please let me know your awesome ideas! I need more!!

Alright, time to sleep before they come charging out of bed, searching for Chunky!
-K.

I will always read to you.


We are a household of readers. We enjoy books; in fact, we have a pretty impressive collection of many genres that adorn shelves, baskets, magazine holders, totes and boxes around our house. I married a reader whose collection of series of novels would rival some of the local smaller libraries. We read to our kids before they were born. Storytime is a pivotal part of their bedtime routine and has been since our oldest came home from the hospital.

We visit bookstores, book sales, libraries (let’s end our local library strike!!!) as a family, and we always are able to find something new to enjoy. And we ALWAYS make time for reading.


Sharing one of his favourites with his little sister.

We’ve made an outdoor reading nook, Baby Bird has a little castle tent in her room that she’s converted to her ‘reading area’ (she’s 2), we make pillow forts for sharing books inside. And we never say no to reading to our kids. Never.


Outdoor reading nook.

It doesn’t matter what’s happening, (save for mealtimes and the middle of the night) if someone asks to be read to, we will oblige. We make sure that one of us is available at all times from after school until bedtime. Nothing connects us as a family more than sharing in a good book with each other. I’m already dreading the day that they will want to read their own books to themselves, by themselves. 

I’ve been asked so many times how we incorporate reading into everyday life with kids, outside of a formal story/reading time. I initially didn’t have a response since it’s just kind of how we live but once I actually thought about it, we kind of do reading things all the time! Here are but a few!

When we go out, we are reading. We play word games to pass the time at restaurants with menus (who can find the word ‘eggs’ first? Who can see an uppercase J? Et cetera). We spell words using Cheerios, sugar packets, crayons on the backs of kids menus, whatever we can get our hands on.

We compare prices on signs in stores, we read street signs, we have scavenger hunts during walks or shopping trips. We make reading a game, almost always.

While waiting at the dentist or doctor’s office, we write messages to each other on paper or the iPad. We search for sight words in magazines. We do MadLibs. We LOVE MadLibs! 


MadLibs on the iPad. Ridiculous reading fun!

When we go grocery shopping with the kids, the asking for frivolous things is brought to a minimum by only allowing things on the list we make to be purchased. If they want something, they need to put it on the list before we leave the house. 

We read books with silly words, books that use words like ‘fart’ and ‘stupid’. Always a big hit!

 

Little boys love their potty humour! Haha!

Now that our oldest is 5, he’s a pretty great reader. He loves reading to his sisters and will drop everything if they ask for a story. It’s one of those things that make a Momma swoon. I can only hope this continues. He’s already asked if he can be the one to read his sisters their bedtime stories now. Absolutely, buddy! 


Bedtime reading that makes this Mum’s heart skip a beat.

Reading is, quite literally, everywhere. It is engrained in our world. For some, reading is a daunting task but if you turn anything into a game, even struggling readers will be more interested! We have tested out some amazing apps that showcase reading at different levels and they can be an incredible tool also! The Endless Reader app, for example, taught our oldest, then 2, to read all of his basic sight words! We were amazed! You never know what you might find!

Let me know in the comments how you use simple fun activities to incorporate reading into your lives. I love to hear new fun ideas to try with our troupe! 

K.

Fall Leaf ‘RE-LEAF’

I love fall. I mean, I LOVE, LOVE it. Every condescending meme related to fall calls to me. I AM that person. There is just something inherently cozy about the autumn. Sweaters, scarves, pumpkins, chrysanthemums, corn stalks, hay rides and the leaves. Oh, the leaves! Pretty sure I can’t put into words my love of the sensational colours, the brisk walks while  crunching through fresh falls, that intoxicating smell and the crafting.

Crafting with leaves is always fun with kids. There’s so much you can do with leaves, from just sorting games by colour, shape, size to making collections, to photography, leaf rubbings to wreaths and so much more!

Today was the first real day our two big maples gifted us with some coloured jewels on the grass so we jumped at the chance to get our crafty pants on.

I decided to start simple this year and do an old-school basic relief picture (re-LEAF picture if you will). I know that many bloggers have done their own takes of this craft that are more involved (cassiestephens.blogspot.com has a nice post about this) but for my little posse of artists, we kept it very simple.  They still turned out pretty cute so I’ll take it!


This one doesn’t take too much. You could probably grab what you need right now in your house and do this craft! We used tiny canvas from the dollar store (in comes in packs of three which works perfectly for us) or you can easily use cardboard or card stock.

If memory serves correctly, the common practice for this craft is to use spray adhesive but we just used some masking tape on the backs of the leaves.

Lastly we used regular old aluminum foil. Sorry baked potatoes, you had to share today!

We headed out to get a good collection of leaves to choose from. The kids had a blast comparing all the ones they found (nerdy mum helped them identify all the species).  Sprout did a little taste testing of most of them too (and got pretty miffed when I went fishing for leafy bits in her mouth).


Wha? I definitely am NOT eating this leaf. 

After a little leafy manhandling and fun with the tiny rakes (they are in for a REAL treat when all the leaves make their mass exodus), the kiddos picked out their favourites to make their pictures.

The premise is very easy. Slap little rolls of masking tape on each leaf’s pretty side and stick it to the canvas.

Not glamorous but it does the trick. You can use spray adhesive on the canvas then just stick the leaves on but I didn’t have any and felt safer using tape. 


Press firmly to get that tapey goodness on there.

Now grab a strip of aluminum foil and carefully lay it over top of the leaves. Wrap the edges around the back to stick it in place. You can tape it on there but we didn’t bother (though I’ll probably go back and tape it now I’m thinking about it).  Then, GENTLY rub or press all over the foil to press in the print of the leaves.

He’s a pro at this, even though he came home not feeling well today. Fresh air usually helps! 

She was ever so careful! (Slightly atypical). Well done, kiddo! 


See? So easy, even a baby can do it!

Make sure all areas are pressed so you can see the leaves (and the pattern of the canvas too if you use that). Then you’re done! Slap that beauty in a frame and you’re golden! They’d make awesome teacher/grandparent/whoever gifts.

NOTE: you can also cover the whole thing in cheap black spray paint then blot off parts to enhance the shadowing.

Looks great!


My reluctant crafter loved this activity too! 

Hope you are able to make this one with your littles (or on your own) too! Let me know if you do!

Love those leaves while they are pretty and not crusty and brown!

K.

A Crunchy Traditional Helicopter? Insert Label Here.


I’m not really into labels. I’ve never been one to fit into one particular group. In school, I was never popular, a jock, a nerd (ok I was but in my own way so I still didn’t fit into that group), part of the artsy crowd, a brown-noser, or whatever other crowds we were lumped into. I’ve always liked being my own group and I’m starting to see the same traits forming in my own kids, which (in a way) is kinda great.

But who was to know that when I had my first child, I needed to become a member of one of the coveted Mamma labels…was  I going to be a traditional Mum? Perhaps a crunchy Mum? A (heaven forbid) helicopter or tiger Mum? Attachment Mum? Free-range Mum? I didn’t realize this was the expectation and once again, I find myself a outsider, dabbling in each group, dipping a toe into the World of one group with one child, disregarding that same group with the next child. Parenting is crazy.

Do we cloth diaper? Yes. Do we use disposables? Yes. Do I breastfeed? Kind of. (Exclusive Pumping Insanity over he-ere!) Do I formula feed? I’m not against it. Do I follow my kids at the playground? When they go through scary-walk-off-the-top-of-the-giant-playstructure phases, absolutely (ahem, looking at you, Baby Bird)! Do I let them solve their own problems? Yes. Do I step in to help when I see frustration levels escalating and I know we won’t make it out the door, like ever, otherwise? For sure. Do I cook homemade from-scratch meals and snacks? Yes. Do we indulge in the occasional pizza or fish sticks? Yup! Am I a Pinterest/Bento Box Mum? Yes. Have I had my fair share of Pinterest fails? Unfortunately 😜. Do I love my children unconditionally and will I do everything in my power to prepare them for the real world and mold them into decent human beings? Ummm, rhetorical much?

Do I do everything in my power to ensure my family is as well-rounded and happy as I can make it? Of course. And I’m pretty positive every other parent does too in the best way they see fit. Do other parents adhere to one specific label? Maybe, but I’d like to bet that most parents are a little bit of different groups, because unlike those clique-y highschool groups, parenting is an ever-changing adventure. 

Know that just because you may not ‘fit’ into one group or another, I’m sure you are still doing a bang-up job. Even though you may have to adapt your strategies many times along the way, through ‘phases’, between kids (again, looking your way, Baby Bird!), and as your kids grow, it’ll all work out. Parents do everything they feel they can for their kids. I know I do, I know YOU do. 

Let’s all enjoy a pat on the back and an indulgence of your choice for the stellar job we are all doing. Our kids will be raised in different ways, will belong to different groups, will carry different labels, or perhaps they won’t. Some will get along and others will not. Some will be leaders, some followers. Keep on doing what you’re doing. You know what’s best for your family. I’m rooting for you! I’m hoping you’re rooting for me too. Every one will be a shining light in the world in their own way. That’s life. It’s a beautiful thing. 

K.

A Bit About Us

So, before I write about some deep, meaningful topics (or rather about crafts, recipes, other things that tickle my fancy), I figured I’d introduce our little crew, since this blog will pretty much centre around them. 

Like I mentioned in the first installment of this extravaganza, I’m happily married to my best friend. We’ve been married for over 7 years now and have made three really cool kids in the process. Since we are both teachers and self-proclaimed nature nerds, we focus on being outside as much as possible, learning about our natural world. My husband is a camping/canoeing/becoming-grizzly-Adams sorta guy, which complements my searching, identifying, exploring nature pretty well. Our kids are all happier and more at ease outdoors as well which is how we like it! (More on that some other time).


In 2011, we welcomed our firstborn, a calm, quiet, polite kid who never likes to ‘rock the boat’ or see anyone else try to either. Our Moose is such a gentle soul who loves trucks, soccer, karate and Pokemon Go (oy). He’s honestly the best big brother and friend to his sisters I’ve ever seen. He loves his family fiercely, has a very special bond with his Memaw and Puppa and can’t wait to go to school every day. He’s the calm in our sometimes crazy existence. 


In 2014, our Baby Bird was born. Instantly a firecracker, she doesn’t let anyone push her around. Her sweet and caring soul shines through, even past her wild child ways. She is very much sunshine with a little bit of hurricane! She’s the instigator, the tease and the adventurer of our posse.  As trying as she sometimes can prove to be, I’m so glad we are raising a girl who is strong, opinionated and who knows what she wants! 

In 2016 we introduced our third bundle to the bunch. Sprout is a happy-go-lucky, calm blue ocean type, much like her brother (but dare I say with a little more spunk). She’s quick to giggle and grin at everyone she meets, along with a squeaky, ‘HI!’ and doesn’t shy away from things easily. She’s a cuddly, sweet, kid who eats like a champ and sleeps all night (can’t ask for more from a 7-month-old!) 


I already introduced myself in an earlier post and frankly, I don’t like to be redundant with such things. I’m sure I’ll be easy to figure out as we go along. I’m a little bit crunchy, tiny bit helicopter-y, and insist that my kiddos grow up to be respectful, caring, considerate and polite human beings. After that, I couldn’t care less! Again, the whole parenting philosophy thing will come out along the way…another post for another time. As for now, I’m looking at a pile of laundry to fold and a sink full of dishes to be washed. Oh the joys! 
K.

Here we go!

Well, after much thought, encouragement, poking, prodding (and possibly a little kicking) it looks like I’m going to take the plunge into this crazy world of blogging. 

Will I be very good at this? Probably not! Will I write here often? Probably not! Will everything I toss on here be meaningful? Probably to me! That’s all I can promise.

So here’s a little about me. I am a proud Mum of three delightful kidlets…one boy (‘Moose’) and two girls (‘Baby Bird’ and ‘Sprout’). They are rays of sunshine on even the bleakest days for me (even through the bickering and uneaten meals and countless diapers and loads of laundry). I’m happily married to my best bud and we are happy and proud Canadians! We try to spend most of our time outdoors, exploring our natural world and teaching our kids to be global environmental citizens. Stay tuned to see how that pans out!


I am also a teacher. Getting an actual teaching job isn’t exactly easy where we live (Oh, Canada), but I’m fortunate to have been given a full time job after 11 long years! I’ve pretty much always wanted to teach (except for a strange time in second grade where I REALLY wanted to be a professional clown). I truly love teaching and although we tend to get the raw end of the stick and are hated by so many, it is still such a rewarding job! 

So what on Earth is this blog all about? Why am I here? Why are YOU here? Ha! Great question. It’ll honestly probably end up being a hodgepodge of things…fun crafts and art, recipes, teaching stuff, parenting stuff, with a few commentaries tossed in. And photos. Lots of photos. Did I mention that I’m moderately obsessed with taking pictures of everything? There will definitely be photos. I’ll try never to be preachy or political (mostly because I’m not exactly a preachy or political person). If you are here searching for deep and meaningful answers to the quandaries of life, keep searching because it likely won’t happen here! So if you’re looking for some light reading and to maybe learn something or laugh along with us, you’re in the right place! Come aboard and take a peek into our crazy life!
K.