Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Photo Dump Wednesday: 2015 Family Vacation - Aruba part 1

Happy Hump Day! I can't believe September is over and we are about to start the month of October! I need to start planning for my baby's 3rd birthday party!!! I can't even believe I just said that but yes, she is turning 3. WOW!!!

We had our first vacation as a family of 4 in mid September. It was our first time traveling Internationally as a family of 4. We not only survived it, we also had a great time and here are pictures to prove it! :-)

On the day we left, JAE turned 5-months. I still can't believe how quickly time is FLYING by! She is just such a happy baby and J and I feel so grateful to have her as a member of our family. 

Here she is at the airport before we boarded our flight.

Ready for a much needed vacation. By the way, I took this picture because I was pumping! 

All of us. Yes, that's a nursing apron :-P. Check out my last post about my pumping experience so far. J and I are now pros at traveling with 2 kids! We had the entertainment ready for JOE. We got a DVD player and borrowed some of her favorite DVDs from the library to ensure that she was able to still watch it even when the pilot says all signal transmitting devices should be turned off. 
The great thing about this is that it is portable and pretty much goes with us for most trips. 

Once I was done pumping, I gave JAE a bottle and she went promptly to sleep. So grateful to have a baby who isn't bothered by the take off and touch down cabin pressure. She did great!

All of us. 

We had a short layover in NC and this was what we saw while heading to our connecting gate. I had to snap a picture because it was just too funny. Unfortunately, there was no time to stay and eat since we had a very short layover.

Finally! As Nene Leakes of the Real Houswives of Atlanta would say, "we have arrived!" We made sure to request a room with a view and we certainly got it. This was the best view to wake up to 6-mornings in a row. 

Our days were spent at the pool for the most part. I am so glad we got these floats for the girls. JAE absolutely loved hers because she got some water in her float and she was able to play with it. JOE had mixed feelings about it. She sometimes wanted to be in it and other times, she just wanted to be carried around the pool. J for the most part played with JOE in the pool while I took care of JAE. Definitely a team effort but we were both also able to relax and enjoy ourselves as well. 

One thing to remember when traveling, get a portable pump! We forgot ours at home but thankfully, the resort had one. The other option is to call ahead to see if the resort has one. 

JAE and I chillaxing.

These two...

OK. These Iguanas were EVERYWHERE!!! Wait till you see the one from my next post! It was the size of a mini crocodile! Homeboy must have eaten its young to be that size!

JOE loves the book Brown Bear. How funny was it that we actually saw blue horses? 

The awesome thing about our resort is that we had a lot of choices for food. Because the resort we stayed at had a family side and an adult only side, we stayed on the family side BUT we had access to all the amenities in the adult only side with the exception of the pool. We had lunch and dinner a few times at the restaurant there. The staff was always so helpful and pleasant!

One night, we had dinner at this lovely restaurant. We also met a very lovely couple. The guy happened to be from Massachusetts. He grew up not too far from where I grew up. Small world!

The meal was delicious!

We even had live music!

JOE clearly enjoyed her food. 

After we got back to our room, JAE passed out. She was so tired! It was our first full day at the resort and it was a very relaxing one. 

More on the rest of our trip next week Wednesday! Enjoy the rest of your week!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Chronicles of a pumping mom

So its been a few months since I posted about being an exclusively pumping mom. My original plan was to pump until I went back to work full time @ 12-weeks. 3-months came and went and I figured I'll push for 6-months. But then as the 6-month mark draws closer and I see JAE thriving, I have decided to go until 10-months which is next February. I currently have enough milk to sustain her for a month in our deep freezer and I'm hoping to have 2-month's worth by the time I finish pumping. That way, she'll be able to get a full year of breastmilk. Same as JOE. Note: I pumped for almost 11-months for JOE and had enough to get her through her first birthday. 

I have started the "weaning" process though and I have been dropping one pump each month. Until JAE turned 12-weeks, I was pumping 8-times every 24-hours. Around the 12-week mark, my milk supply was established so I dropped a pump and went down to 7-pumps every 24-hours. I have been dropping one pump each month since and am now down to 5-pumps. I plan on dropping one more pump in October to go down to 4-pumps but  my plan is to stay at 4-pumps per day for 2 to 3-months before dropping another pump to ensure I maintain my supply. I'm still pumping between 38 & 42 oz per day and I'm hoping to keep that supply level for another 3 months.
If you're interested, here is my pump schedule.

I went back to my regular work commute the first week of July and it has been a bit of a challenge keeping up with my pumping schedule, dealing with a very busy and demanding job and also being there for my family. I'd be lying if I said it was easy. Its been very stressful and sometimes, I just want to throw in the towel and say "I'm done!" But I know this is a temporary sacrifice that will benefit JAE in the years to come and I am willing to make that sacrifice for her. 

Waking up at night to pump has been quite a challenge but thanks to Amazon Prime membership and browsing on Instagram, I am able to stay entertained while pumping.

I often have to pump when J is at work and I have the kids on my own. I get home earlier than J and sometimes have to pump before he gets one. One of those days, JOE had to go pee. I didn't want to disconnect so I kept it connected and took her to the restroom. She often knows what to do as long as I lift her. 
Well, one day, I did and my pump which was clipped to me fell. I almost started crying! I don't know if it affected my pump but that pump has never been the same again. Since then, I have been using the less mobile but more efficient Ameda Purely Yours pump which I got through my health insurance.

Like I said, I have to pump while at work. I have had to pump in some rather interesting places. From pumping while driving to pumping in the car while J drove. I started taking selfies and have decided to call them my "fun selfies."

My darling JAE refused to nurse BUT she loves to gnaw on my pump parts!

Another "fun selfie."I am so thankful that my job provides an area where I can express milk during the day.

So now when you see me smiling in one of these "fun selfies," you know what's up.

When I went back to work, I had to pump 3 times at work. To stay at 7 pumps per day, I had to pump on my way home. NOTE: The below picture was taken while the car was stopped and as you can see, even though I was hooked up to the pump, my seat belt was on!

Speaking of fun selfies. We recently went to Aruba on vacation. I had to pump on all 4 legs of our flight. It was rather interesting. I am so thankful for the nursing apron I got when I had JOE. 

While I pumped, J attended to JOE and JAE. 

It gets even better. I had to pump in the lady's room at the airport in Aruba. Oh and to make it even more interesting, there were men at work in the lady's room so I had to stand in a stall for part of my pumping session. 

I was not happy about pumping in a stall but I had no choice. I was not going to be able to carry JAE in the baby carrier if I didn't get some relief.

Finally, they left and I was able to finish my pump session.

And while I pump, she often keeps me company. A reminder of why I make the sacrifice I do.

I often talk about "labor of love" and breastfeeding, pumping or even formula feeding a baby is a labor of love. I am thankful to have the privilege to provide sustenance for this little blessing of mine. 

Have you overcome any pumping/nursing/formula feeding challenges? If so, please share your story. I'd like to read about it. 

Until then, have a fabulous weekend and remember to be kind to strangers!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Photo Dump Wednesday: E3 Hair Update

I have been trying to come up with a catchy hashtag to use on Instagram for my hair updates. I finally settled on one. "3Ehairupdate". Since our family name starts with E and I'm planning on doing updates on all 3 of our hair, I figured it works.

I started taking manetabolism in June when I saw the first signs of postpartum shedding and I'm happy to report that I have seen a huge difference in my hair.

First a quick recap of my journey so far. I have also posted about my hair routine here.

So far, I have seen more fullness in my hair but not as much growth. It could also be that I'm not seeing the significant growth because my hair is very coily. I have a combination of different textures on my head. 
Overall though, I feel like I have made a ton of progress since June. My edges are growing in nicely and my shedding has been SIGNIFICANTLY reduced. Since those were the primary reasons I started taking manetabolism again, I count it as a success. I have one more bottle to take and unless they do another 30% off sale or offer me a free sample, that will be my last purchase of the vitamin for now. I'm not going to say never though :-).

Anyways, here's the progress I have made from June through September.

I noticed the biggest growth in the front of my hair. That's an area that didn't grow as fast but I am pleasantly surprised with the growth. 

I've been trying different things with my hair. The great thing about being natural is that I can experiment a bit with different hair styles. 
I've decided to take pictures of new "ventures" and post them. I'll record them as hits or misses. I forgot to add numbers to each one so you too can chime in but will do so for next time. For now, below are the styles I consider hits and those considered misses. What do you think? The misses are more because I don't think the style fits the shape of my face.

I put in spiral rods in my hair yesterday. Prior to last Sunday, I hadn't combed my hair since my last wash and go 2-weeks ago. Don't shudder. A good friend of mine (let's call her D) can tell you stories about my "hair adventures"!

Anyways, I spent a good 90-minutes giving my hair some TLC last Sunday. I pre-conditioned it and detangled it completely with the conditioner in it. Then I co-washed it and then thoroughly massaged  my scalp and combed it out. 
I didn't want to do another wash and go so I decided to try using these rods. I've had them since my relaxer/texlaxer days but never really used them. They aren't the most comfortable to sleep on but they aren't the worse either. 
I'll post a picture of the final results on my Instagram account tomorrow when I take it out so be sure to follow me for results. 

Now on to the kids. JOE's hair is VERY long. It is now past her behind when wet and is also quite curly and thick. 

I've had a lot of trial and errors with her hair but we've now settled on hair products and routines that work for her. Her hair used to always be a tangled mess and Saturdays were always a very stressful day for me because detangling her hair while she screams like she is being tortured was just not fun for either of us. 
A really good friend of mine (we'll call her C) sent me some products to try on her hair. This was a very selfless act. She paid for a ton of these products that were not cheap and had them shipped to me. I love her! One of them took and we haven't looked back since. 

JOE's hair routine is simpleI wash her hair with the baby no-tear shampoo once a month. While this isn't necessarily the best product for her hair, I like the no-tear option because my daughter is NOT a fan of water on her face. I figured this way, if it does make it on to her face, it won't sting her eyes. 

I then follow it with a conditioner. I often leave it on there then give her a bath and then let her play. Once she says she's ready to get out, I detangle quickly and rinse it out. I use the same conditioner for co-washing her hair on a weekly basis. 

Once done, I towel dry her hair by lightly squeezing the excess water out of it. I never rub her hair with a towel cause I don't want it getting even more tangled. 

Then I apply my oil mix to her scalp and massage it in sections. Then add some leave in conditioner and then follow it with extra virgin olive oil. I concentrate the leave in conditioner and extra virgin olive oil on the ends of her hair when doing this since that's the oldest part of her hair. 
I do any additional detangling that might be necessary, comb it and then put it in 2, 3 or 4 braids. JOE participates by telling me how many braids she wants and what colors she wants to use on her hair. 
This sounds rather simple but let me tell you, Oreo cookies, ginger chews, the iPAD and promises of ice cream and/or other treats or toys is often involved. 

So far, her hair is thriving. I am trying to decide on when she should get her first good trim. Perhaps next Spring. We'll see. 

JAE's hair routine: 
Now on to JAE. JAE's hair is fairly easy and takes a lot less time to do. I wash her hair with the same shampoo I use for JOE's hair. But I don't leave the conditioner in there while she plays in her tub. I think she's still too young to get any concentrated amount of product in her hair and since she can't tell me if something is bothering her, I choose to err on the side of caution. 
Once she's done with her bath. I towel dry her hair by patting it gently with the towel. I then apply the same leave in conditioner I use for JOE and then use the extra virgin olive oil. I do not use my oil mix on her because it contains peppermint essential oil which can be dangerous for babies. Even though it only contains a few drops. I don't want to risk her having a reaction to it. 
I massage (very mildly) her head with the extra virgin olive oil and then comb it out. She's not yet at the stage where I have to do anything to her hair but I know we'll be getting there soon enough. 

I didn't realize how much her hair was growing until I took this picture last Saturday! Since the routine appears to be working quite nicely for her, I won't be changing it anytime soon. 

There you have it. That's our hair so far. I'll post more updates if/when we try anything different on our hair so stay tuned. I'll be sure to use to "3Ehairupdate" hashtag on Instagram as well.