To My Son Before You Are Born

To My Son {Before You Are Born},

In a few weeks {perhaps even days}, we’re going to meet for the very first time. You’re likely going to cause me an incredible amount of pain and then you’re going to make your grand entrance into the world and fill a section in my heart where I didn’t even realize there was a void.

Anyway, I wanted to take a moment to tell you what’s on my mind before you come. Of course I’m nervous about everything that’s inevitable {giving birth, keeping you alive during those first few months, how your sisters are going to adjust, etc.}, but truthfully, I’m more nervous about the bigger things, like the man you’re going to become.

I by no means have all the answers on how to make a mentally and emotionally strong man, so I hope you don’t expect that out of me. Shoot, I don’t even have things figured out for myself most of the time. But I promise to always give you my all, and listen to your thoughts and concerns with an open mind and heart. I hope in my heart for the type of relationship where you can talk to me and your daddy about anything and everything, even if it means seeing things differently.

In fact, here are more of my hopes for you:

  • I hope you find something in your life that gives you passion early on.
  • I hope you listen to and respect your big sisters. I already know they will be very protective of you, their baby brother.
  • I hope you always feel love from your daddy and I.
  • I hope you are never afraid to express your feelings — the good and bad.
  • I hope that you never give up. I want you to follow your dreams without fear, and never let worry hold you back from the man you will become.
  • I hope you turn out like your father. I want you to know there is no better man out there, and you are going to be very lucky to have him in your life. Nurture your relationship forever.
Whoever you are now as my youngest baby, and whatever man you become, I promise to always love you. I can’t promise to be perfect along the way, but I can promise to always do my best.
 
See you soon, sweetheart.

 
Kisses,
Mama

35 Weeks Pregnant

35 Weeks Pregnant When you’re a third time mom, it’s kind of hard to get those cute belly pics without a mini photo bomber. Related: I am too big and hot to do my hair, so waves and ponytails is likely what you will see from here on out ;)

35 weeks pregnant?! Oh man. My heart just skipped a beat just typing that. How has this pregnancy gone by SO fast? Just yesterday I found out I had another little bean in my belly! It’s officially go time.

Time to finish organizing, put together the nursery, pack my hospital bag and prepare several weeks worth of content for my job. And people say to sleep and relax in the final weeks…HA!

Speaking of relaxing…Ugh. Sleeping has not been fun lately. I am constantly hot and uncomfortable. Since nighttime is rough, I am exhausted by afternoon and have been trying to sneak in a cat nap for 20 minutes or so when Karina naps. Once in awhile, Kinley lets me get away with it. Other days she throws a ball at my head or shouts “mommy! mama! mom!” in my face until I move. This is the reality of my life. No rest for the weary.

When I do catch some shut-eye, I dream of baby boy. I have a great, speedy birth and he’s another big baby {9 pounds, 6 ounces in every dream, actually}. He latches, I cry, and another chapter begins. I’m hoping if I keep having this dream it will come true but I am realistic in knowing that births rarely go how we plan them.
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Letter To My Husband: Our Marriage, Six Years Later

Marriage, 6 Years Later

Photo by Lara Douglas Photography

My Love,

I can’t believe we have been married six years today. To many, this may not seem like much, but according to divorce statistics, I’d say it hopefully means we are in it for the long haul. {According to stats, 20 percent of marriages end in 5 years.}

Isn’t it insane to think about how much our marriage has changed in the past six years? We’ve moved several times, had two children {almost 3!}, changed careers, seen life/death happen before our eyes, and more.

What started out as hot and heavy with physical touch as our forte, scoring 100% in the sexuality category in our pre-marriage assessment, has blossomed into a more realistic view as we deal with the mundane things like a budget, housework, and of course, raising kiddos.

I have certainly learned there’s some things relationship books don’t tell you. They don’t give you a realistic expectation of what butterflies feel like six years in.

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Where I Hope To Grow In My 30s {Happy Birthday To Me!}

Today is my 30th birthday and despite a surprise pregnancy altering my view of how exactly I would celebrate, I am determined to live it up in the decade ahead!

I have grown SO much during the past 10 years and I look forward to continuing to refine myself more during the next 10 to create Lauren: Version 3.0.

With that said, I have some advice for myself on where I hope to grow in my 30s:

  • Stop working for free. You are worth it! With that said, know when to say yes because sometimes it pays in ways you’d never expect.
  • Don’t keep putting effort into dying relationships. If a friend isn’t going to meet you halfway, it’s not worth your time…You’re too busy to waste time with lame excuses.
  • With that said, always make time for those friends who have been there for you. Kids are an infinite source of joy, but they are not your only joy. Never lose sight of your girlfriends.
  • There are few things that make you cry harder than hearing about cruel people. Do less clicking on the morbid stories.
  • Don’t get your panties in a twist over ignorant things people post on Facebook or news stories that are meant to ruffle feathers. Learn better word vomit control in the next decade. It is not worth an argument where people can hide behind their computer screens.
  • Dishing out truth can be incredibly valuable, but don’t dish it out too harshly. It’s not worth hurting someone’s feelings. Especially remember this with your daughters. Be helpful; not critical.
  • Keep making an effort to know your neighbors. Have beers together and help each other where possible.
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A Pregnant Lady, Hudsonville Ice Cream and Detroit Tiger’s Baseball

I just ordered a Detroit Tiger’s maternity T-shirt because…

Tigers Paws

Me and my buddy Paws, the Detroit Tigers mascot a few years back.

I am throwing the first ceremonial pitch at the Detroit Tigers game next Friday, June 13th {versus the Minnesota Twins} on behalf of one of my favorite Michigan brands, Hudsonville Ice Cream!

When the company asked me to do it, my first instinct was to say no. First off, I am at a disadvantage since I will be 33 weeks pregnant. Second, I haven’t thrown a baseball since college, and before then, it had probably been since 5th grade softball {and I was not good}.

But, then I re-thought it. After all, this is like a major bucket list item. How many people get to do this in their lifetime? And how many people get to do something on behalf of their favorite brands and for one of their favorite sports teams? Plus, how cool will it be for my son to say he stood on the Detroit Tigers pitcher’s mound while in his mom’s belly?

All good reasons to say YES. So here I am, getting ready to ROCK next week. Maybe I will even let the boys rub my belly for a little luck ;)

The first thing the husband said when I told him was “You need to practice so you don’t end up on one of ESPN’s worst first pitch videos.”

I’ve thrown the ball a bit, and while I’d say my form isn’t pretty, I’ve done pretty decent at throwing it {somewhat} straight and making it just about the distance it is from the mound to home plate. Here’s hoping it all goes well and nerves don’t get the best of me!

Stay tuned as I will be sharing lots of photos and such on my Instagram of my experience with Hudsonville and the Detroit Tigers.

Take me {and my baby} out to the ballgame, indeed, and thank you Hudsonville for giving me the experience of a lifetime!

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When Your Child Is “Behind.” My Experience With Early On Michigan

A few months ago, I heard something that was a bit of a shock from our pediatrician. She was worried that Karina {then 18 months old} may be behind with her language development. She told us to wait until 20 months, and if there wasn’t a lot of improvement, to give Early On Michigan, a call to screen her for developmental delays.

Her language understanding is there — she can hear what we’re saying and react. She’s affectionate. She looks us in the eye. She giggles and has stranger danger — just like any kid at 20 months. But, her language is pretty limited. Sure, I get what she is saying most of the time, but outsiders do not. {For example, “apple” is “ba-bo” and “blankey” is just “b”}

Comparison is deadly, but no matter what you do — it’s there. Especially when you have more than one child.

Kinley was an early talker. She “babbled” starting at 6 weeks and hasn’t stopped talking since. She sings, makes up songs, plays pretend and talks to herself constantly…and those are all things she has done from a young age.

Karina has never been a big babbler, but she has skills Kinley did not have at her age — she can build with LEGOs for long periods of time, she has fed herself from day one, she is extremely affectionate {Kinley is just now starting to become more of a lover…and I think it’s because Karina inspires her!} and she is SO brave.

Early On Michigan

It’s astonishing to me how different siblings can be from each other — but really, it’s absolutely wonderful, too!

As we approached 20 months, the worrying started to creep in. I watched videos of Kinley at the same age saying “Happy Birthday,” and grew concerned since Karina still hasn’t mastered a single two-syllable word. I observed other kids in her age range and could see she wasn’t talking/attempting language like they were {without her sister helping!}. After stewing over the fact I might be over-reacting, I went with my gut and scheduled an appointment with Early On Michigan.

Early On is a FREE program through the State of Michigan that works with children from birth to age three, that specifically looks for developmental delays and/or disabilities.

Two women came to our house {one was a former special education teacher and one was a speech pathologist} for the evaluation. My girls HAMMED IT UP. Seriously. They must have thought these ladies were the coolest people ever the way they kept bringing out “toys” to play with and showering them with attention!

They asked me questions about Karina’s development and personality, and interacted with her with several games to test her fine/gross motor skills, language, memory, and more. The entire evaluation took a little less than an hour, and I felt that it was pretty thorough.

At the end, we discussed what I needed to do moving forward.

It was determined that she is behind in her language skills {she is speaking at a 16/17 month level versus where she should be at 20 months}. But we also learned she’s ahead for her age in adult interaction, social skills and concepts, so that helped some of my mommy guilt fall to the wayside.

Our plan of action is to just work with her more during the next few months {incorporating more sign language, working with flash cards, and soliciting Kinley for help — she truly is her best teacher}, and re-screen her in a few months if her language doesn’t improve. Additionally, I have scheduled a hearing test just to be sure that isn’t an issue, though that isn’t suspected.

I am SO thankful for this program to put my mind at ease, or if needed, help my child, in the future. Early intervention is absolutely key when it comes to little ones!

The reality is there is such a huge range of what’s “normal” for a child, especially during these early years, and reading things on the ‘net will only scare or confuse you. Only a parent can determine when something is just off with their child. Don’t hesitate to ask your pediatrician questions or get an evaluation to determine where your child stands if you’re worried. I am so happy I did!

If you think your infant or toddler may have a developmental delay, contact Early On at 1-800-Early-On or complete the online referral form.

This is not sponsored in any way by Early On. I just really appreciated this program and wanted to sure my experience in case there is a parent in my same boat!

Was your child a late talker? What helped them develop their language over time?

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My 2014 Springtime Favorites

IT’S SPRING! OK, while this phrase seems to be meaningless here in Michigan this year, it’s still fun to think about, right? I have to say, I am certainly digging all the pastels I’m seeing in stores…and I’m not one to typically be drawn to pastels. Clearly it has been a LONG winter. Today I’m sharing some of my current springtime favorites to get me in the mood for sunshine.

But what is the sun without a little rain? Which brings me to item #1:

Western Chief Rain Boots

Western Chief Rain Boots - Spring Favorites

These aren’t as “in” as the name brand boots, but they are affordable and most importantly — functional. I don’t know about you other mamas, but I have been a splashing fool already this year. My girls and I all have a pair! Mine {pictured above} were $25 at Tractor Supply Co. and worth their weight in gold for keeping my feet dry while walking with my minions through puddles. Note: I have VERY narrow feet. These are not made for wide feet. They have lots of fun patterns on Amazon, too! See here.

Reese’s Easter Peanut Butter Eggs Reese's Peanut Butter Easter Eggs These are my absolute favorite candy ever. Seriously. Move over fancy chocolate, this is the way to my heart! The Reese’s Easter Eggs pack a lot more peanut butter than Reese’s cups, therefore, they are my favorite. I usually sneak a few packs each year into my purse and try not to share with anyone ;) The hardest part this time of year is not buying them every time I see them! So.Good.

Asparagus

Asparagus - Spring Favorites

On the opposite end of the health spectrum, I present another spring favorite of mine: Asparagus. It’s in season in Michigan April through June and it is my absolute favorite green veggie. Check out my favorite recipe for maple glazed asparagus here.

Method Squirt & Mop Wood Floor Cleaner

Method Squirt & Mop - Spring Favorites

Spring = spring cleaning, right?! Uh-huh. I love Method products, but this one takes the cake for my favorite! I started using this when we lived in a house with all wood floors. I kick it old school and literally use a cheap mop plus this, and it does the trick for cleaning my floors in a jiffy. I love that it’s environmentally-friendly and does not leave streaks on my floors either. Plus, the smell {almond} is nice.

Lemon Essential Oil

doTerra Lemon Essential Oil - Spring Favorites

This is my absolute favorite essential oil. Just smelling it puts me in a good mood and totally has me thinking spring. I love how long it lasts me, it’s inexpensive, and pretty much can do anything! Four of my favorite uses:

  • As a chemical-free antibacterial hand sanitizer {I love it in the car with the kids if we go to eat}.
  • In homemade cleaning supplies {I use it on my laminate bathroom floors mixed with vinegar}.
  • In water to change-up the flavor. It’s the best energy booster for a preggo like myself!
  • To freshen that load of laundry I almost always forget to throw in the dryer before bed.

So there you have it, folks. A few of my springtime favorites.

What are you digging this spring?

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you purchase something through one of links, you support my family. I would be discussing these products no matter what though ;) post-signature

Karina’s Day at 18 Months Old

My dear Karina,

You’re 18 months old today and just as sassy and adorable as the day we met; the day you were born. You fill such a huge piece of my heart with your giggles, little teeth and dance moves and I simply can’t imagine life without you.

Although 18 months isn’t my favorite age {I’ll be honest with you…It’s downright exhausting}, you are learning at rapid speeds and just becoming your own little person. It has been an absolute blessing seeing you grow since your first birthday.

Can you believe you stopped nursing a few weeks ago? This has changed our day so much. Part of it was me pushing you to cool it a bit, part of it was you being OK with it. I am so sad in many respects, but you have adjusted beautifully, so I’m not going to complain. Thank you for being open to change — my body appreciates the break ;)

I thought I’d show you what a typical day at home is like for you these days. Of course, our days are ever-changing, but this is a good synopsis of what you do on a daily basis.

Karina’s Day At 18 Months

8 a.m. You’re up! Not in the best mood, but you settle for a few cuddles before begging for some food.

Karina1

I prep you a little plate of fruit to eat before we make breakfast when your sister wakes up. We play with your Little People while Curious George plays in the background.

9:30 a.m. Breakfast and free play while mama is on a conference call.

Karina2

I help you build with your LEGOs and you bring me all your doctor tools. The stethoscope {your favorite thing ever} goes on and stays on for the next few hours. You and your sister do great while I’m on my call…Thank you, girls!

Karina4

11 a.m. We head into town to register you for “school” next year. By school, I mean an educational playgroup you and I are going to do together next year one day a week. Before we get into the car, you and Kinley demand a snack and you get excited as I offer you an apple, your favorite!

Karina6

How you eat them always amazes me. For only having 5 teeth, you chow down like a champ!

Karina5

11:45 a.m. We’re back home and it’s time for lunch, which is bananas, a piece of cheese, some cucumber and half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, in which you proceed to take apart before eating. Can’t complain about your appetite. You eat just about anything I give you. Except raspberries!

Karina7

Noon. More free play, followed by reading books. You don’t have a lot of patience for them today, so we settle on a few quick ones where you laugh and point at doggies and kitties. You also enjoy flipping through the pages of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The page with all his food is your favorite!

1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. You fall asleep within a few minutes as a rock you into your nap. I cherish these moments with just you and I so much. You are seriously the best cuddler ever and I love kissing your head as you drift off to sleep. Sweet dreams, baby girl.

…A few hours later, Kinley barges in after she’s heard you stirring. She’s asked me about 5 times if you are up yet because she’s ready to play. You are so proud to show her how you pulled your socks off!

Karina8

3:30 – 5 p.m. More free play. This time you and Kinley play with stuffed animals in the crib for a bit and then we have a living room dance party to solid gold oldies!

This day daddy also surprised us with an early arrival home. You get so excited when he comes home at the end of the day and always run up to greet him. He entertains you while mama gets dinner ready.

Karina9

5 p.m. Crock pot dinner. Rice with salsa chicken, black beans, corn and avocado. You absolutely LOVE holding hands to pray beforehand. Melts our hearts on a daily basis.

Karina10

5:30 p.m. Daddy play time. He tickles you and tosses you into the air and gets you laughing hard. I love watching the bond grow between the two of you.

As I clean dishes, we sing songs. You adore “Wheels On The Bus,” and are so proud to have recently mastered moving your hands like the wheels. Of course your other favorite part is saying “shh shh shh” like the mama’s on the bus.

6:30 p.m. Bath time followed by some more play and a little TV. You and Kinley laugh a ton in the tub together. It’s adorable. Of course, she can’t let you get out without us making a spike in your hair with the soap!

Karina11

7:30 p.m. Books and bed time. Tonight’s favorite was your Thomas the Train book. You love trains and cars and almost always have one in your hands while you walk around.

After rocking you for awhile, I lay you down and you drift to sleep. Nighty-night, my precious little gal!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love you so much, peanut, and can’t wait to see you continue to learn and grow more in the months ahead. Keep being the happy, independent and stubborn girl you are and I have no doubt you will reach for the stars and beyond in your lifetime.

Kisses to the moon and back,

Mama

Karina's Favorites

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…And Then There Were 5

Pregnancy Announcement

My mom always told me the best blessings are unexpected…I think it was her way of justifying my surprise arrival into the world. I can officially now say I believe it.

Right before Thanksgiving, I found out I was pregnant. We had planned to have three children, but I was planning on waiting at least another year when Kinley was closer to going to school fulltime, Karina was fully weaned, and my 30th birthday was long past.

Well, God had other plans. I am pregnant with baby Weber #3, and after getting over the initial shock of three positive pregnancy tests {because truthfully, I was in denial}, I couldn’t be more excited. Babies are always a blessing, despite the chaos that is sure to ensue in our home during the next 18+ years. I am due August 1, just a few days after Karina’s 2nd birthday, so my kids will all be around 2 years apart. We just keep thinking about ages 13, 15 and 17. Say a prayer for us now ;)

I wish we could be one of those awesome couples that wait to find out what parts baby is hiding, but we just can’t. I am too excited and ready to plan. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t want a boy, because I do {hubby doesn’t mind either way}. I’ve always thought I’d have boys, so was shocked when I learned I was having girls both times {yet truly elated…girls rock}. Honestly though, any healthy baby will do. We have plenty of room in our hearts to love on whatever little nugget comes our way!

My pregnancies with both girls were similar — food aversions, similar cravings {clementines}, nausea and hyper sensitive to smells. I haven’t had any of those symptoms this time…I just felt flaky and tired at 8 p.m., and that I could eat a house! Seriously, I have never felt so hungry in my life. I am trying my best to stay healthy, but have had quite a few breakdowns of junk. Thankfully, I’ve tried to eat lots of fruits and veggies and take my prenatal vitamins daily to help balance it out a bit.

Due to my uterus being ready to rock, I already have quite a belly. So much so that I’ve been wearing maternity pants/my fat pants since 9 weeks. Pretty sure I didn’t need them until 12/13 weeks with both girls. I was convinced I was having twins at first due to how fast I popped…Turns out, there’s just one in there. When they say you really pop quick with #3, they aren’t lying!

As far as our family plan, this will be my last baby, so I am just trying to enjoy the amazingness of being pregnant. Stay tuned and I will be sure to bore update you all on my progress :D

Cheers to new, unexpected beginnings in 2014!

Were all of your pregnancies planned? Also, moms of three: How the heck do you manage? I’m nervous!

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Winter Favorites

This post contains affiliate links. That didn’t sway my decisions at all — promise!

I’ll admit it: Winter isn’t my favorite season, but it does have some charm to it, right? Like the way the snow sparkles in the sun. And kids look all cute bundled up with rosy cheeks. I admit, after that, I don’t have much. But for now, I’m trying to enjoy the slower pace of life that comes with being stuck inside due to icy roads and frigid temps. It’s kind of nice for a change!

I am excited to feature some of my winter favorites that get me through this season here in Michigan. This list is inspired by my friend Detroit Duchess, who features her seasonal favorites regularly. See her latest list here.

Carmex Cherry Lip Balm

Carmex Lip Balm

This is one of my favorite chapstick brands for cold weather lips. It’s hardcore and one of the only kinds that will treat my chapped lips super insanely quick. Plus, there’s SPF in it for summertime too!

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter

Atwater Brewery

I love a darker beer year-round, but winter just begs for it. This brew from Atwater Brewery in Detroit is one of my favorites! Very heavy in the coffee flavor makes it extra yummy to me. It’s 5.5% alcohol, so not too strong, but enough to pack a punch. So.Good. {Also, since Detroit is a bit of a drive for me, I am thankful I can purchase this at my local Meijer.} Drink local, friends!

Frozen Soundtrack

Frozen Soundtrack

OK, this is for the kids, right? Well, not really. I love this soundtrack! First, it’s perfect for winter given all the talk about snowmen and the land of Arendelle covered in deep deep deep deep snow. Second, it’s SO catchy that even my husband finds himself singing along. This truly is the Disney I feel we’ve been missing since The Lion King.

A Great Book – The Fault In Our Stars

The Fault In Our Stars

I’ve been spending a ton of time at the library lately, and a ton of time reading. This young adult book will warm your frozen heart…But be warned you will need tissues! P.S. Yes/No Films just informed me that this is going to be made into a film this year. Go read it first! Books always trump the movies, right? ;) Read more about the synopsis over here at one of my favorite websites — Goodreads.

Winter Headband

Erin's Headbandz

A knit headband is not only practical, but can be adorable! I love wearing hats, but since I’m a mom, I wear my hair up more often than not. A headband is the perfect solution during winter. My friend Erin makes these adorable and warm knit ones for just $15. I love the one she made for me and wear it almost daily!

On Guard Essential Oil by doTerra

doTerra On Guard Essential Oil

I’ll admit — I was a little skeptical about essential oils at first. Now that I’ve been using them for a while, I’m ready to tell you all that they ROCK. This “protective blend” oil is my favorite for winter because it can truly help to fight colds and sore throats…and has ingredients we’re all familiar with {cinnamon, clove bud, eucalyptus, rosemary and wild orange}. Simply put a couple drops in bath water, in a vaporizer, or use it directly on your feet. I also suffer from cankersores  a few times a year, and this oil instantly numbs it and helps it go away quickly — something I have never experienced from OTC meds. Bonus points: It smells good, tastes good, and lasts a long time {it’s a tad pricey, but you only use about 2 drops each time}.

So there you have it, a few of my favorite {wintertime} things!

What are your favorite products and things this winter?

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Breastfeeding At 17 Months

This post is about my breastfeeding journey. Please know I support you no matter how you choose to feed your child. This is just something that has been a huge part of my life lately and I need to write it out :)

Lately I’ve noticed a trend among family and friends, and heck — even strangers. When they find out I am still breastfeeding Karina, who is 17 months old, their eyes BUG out.

“You’ve got to get her weaned! Don’t you want your body back?” says a woman very close to me {*cough* my mother}.

Even a mom stranger made a comment one day at the library…”I can’t imagine breastfeeding when a child has teeth!” When I told her I was still nursing, she stopped in her tracks and eventually walked off. Guess I freaked her out. {For the record, I’ve only been bit once and after I screamed out, she hasn’t done it again.}

In some ways, I’ve never felt so judged in motherhood, not that I take it personally. Because like a lot of things in motherhood, unless you’ve been there, you don’t understand. Period.

In fact, I never understood how hard weaning is. And frankly, I don’t want to fight my child about it and deny her the ONE thing that makes her the happiest.

Penelope Cruz just came out saying “breastfeeding is addicting.” Yeah, I do not see it that way at all. I am NOT addicted. But my baby is. And it’s not crack, so how can I get mad at her for wanting something that is natural and is healthy for both of us? Most cultures recommend nursing for the first two years, though I do feel there’s a stigma around extended breastfeeding here in America.

Breastfeeding...17 Months Later

Nursing at the car dealership while buying a minivan. How very mom of me, eh? HA. Also, look at those eyes. Can you now understand why I can’t deny her?!

With Kinley, it was easy…She took a bottle of pumped milk pretty much from day one and just decided to quit nursing cold turkey at 10 months. I had quite a supply built up in the freezer, so she lasted awhile, but I did buy a few cans of formula to get her through the remainder of the year. I never had an ounce of guilt about it…It was just time. She was happy, and I was happy.

But my Karina has been SO different. She has NEVER taken a bottle. Not one. Going away for more than two hours at a time when she was young was incredibly hard for me knowing she was home screaming her head off for the boob. Eventually she got used to it and would just wait until I was home, but it was a long road. As a gal likes to be on the go, it was a healthy dose of the reality and sacrifices of motherhood for me. Thankfully, my husband is incredible and eventually found other ways to keep her occupied while I got out. Thank God she LOVED solids from the very first taste!

Even today, knowing I can’t leave her for more than one night is tough. I’d love to go on a relaxing mini vacay for a couple of nights with the hubby, but it’s just not in the cards. I can’t even plan ahead because right now I see no end in sight.

For now, I’ve employed the “don’t offer, don’t refuse” method. Some mornings she’s fine…She gets up and plays and doesn’t need to nurse until nighttime. Other days, when we’re home and she’s feeling needy {or teething}, she’ll nurse up to 5 times. She brings me her boppy and blankie, and will just stand there and cry until I cave. And I always do. I can’t say no when I know of a surefire method to make her happy again.

There are lots of positives to nursing into toddlerhood, but the big one for me is that it’s the only time during my day I truly get to relax. In fact, I wrote this entire post while nursing her. The only time it has been a challenge is when we were hardcore potty training Kinley. I literally sat on the floor nursing while encouraging Kinley to potty. I won’t sugarcoat it — those days were long and hard — but I survived.

The reality is I am ready to be done {and so is my husband}, but she simply is not. We all want what’s best for our kids, right? And right now, I guess that means I will be nursing her until she’s decided she’s done. I’m holding out hope that it naturally happens in the next few months, but we shall see.

{If you need some nursing encouragement, read my letter: Dear Newly Nursing Mother.}

When did your child(ren) naturally wean?

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12 Days of Happy

For the post below, I am linking up with fellow Michigan blogger Parsimonious Pash for her 12 Days of Happy! 

During the holiday season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the silly things: When you might find time to shop, or wrap gifts {does anyone want to wrap mine?}, how you can find time to squeeze in dinners and parties, and of course, the financial burdens that come with all of it.

For the days ahead, let’s all try our best to focus on the HAPPY part of the season: The random acts of kindness. Seeing how children light up with every little twinkling light. Lighting a menorah, or reading the story of Jesus’ birth. Wouldn’t we all be better off focusing on those things instead of what we want?

12-days-of-happy

Here are the 12 items I am choosing to focus on in the days ahead:

1. Decor imperfections. This is not a year of a beautifully decorated house for me. The bottom half of the tree is missing nearly all of its ornaments, my jingle bells are hiding in the couch cushions, and my sparkling decor balls I carefully placed in a glass jar are being tossed around like toys. Nothing is in the place it should be. But it’s a beautiful chaos. It shows how much my children are enjoying it all, and that brings me much joy.

2. Lights. I’ve always adored Christmas lights, and I love driving around and finding the most decked out houses. Sometimes, I literally want to write those people thank you notes to say how much I enjoyed the lights on their home. I think this year I will do just that! Hearing the joy in Kinley’s voice while we’re driving around — “Mom! Look! Christmas lights!!!!” — is excitement in its purest form. Thank you to all who take the time to decorate your home — we appreciate it.

3. Food. Need I say more?! Cookies, candies, and all the not-so-healthy appetizers, are one of my favorite ways to indulge during the holiday season.

4. Family. This time of year is the time we get to see our families the most. It brings me so much joy to see the smiles my kids can bring to all their loving aunts and uncles and grandparents. Also, awkward family photos are sure to happen. because lord knows we can’t get all the kiddos in my family to all smile at once. While it makes me crazy, it is pretty funny to look back at them!

Awkward Family Photo

5. Bundling up. OK, I hate the cold. But I hate being cooped up even more, so I will bundle up to play or walk so I can enjoy the great outdoors. And this is the one time of year I happen to love snow.

6. Music. I am the nerd that listens to Christmas music on Nov. 1. I try not to do anything else “Christmas-y” until after Thanksgiving, but I just love Christmas music. I have so many fond memories of it as a kid, so I think that’s what fuels my passion.

7. Seeing Santa. I find it fascinating to watch children meet Santa. So far, there has been NO interest from my girls, though the hype and excitement leading up to the actual meeting had me fooled. It’s just plain fun to see what your kiddos are going to do when they sit on the jolly old man’s lap.

Seeing Santa

Neither of them knew what to do. At least there weren’t any tears!

8. Holiday events. From parades, to holiday light tours, there are so many awesome events all around us! Do a little digging, and you can have so much fun at local and FREE events. See my list of SE Michigan December happenings.

9. Christmas outfits. There is nothing cuter than Christmas outfits on little people…fluffy dresses with big ribbons for little girls and bowties and suspenders on little men are my favorites! Best part is they are only worn for one/two days, so it’s the perfect item to trade with friends or purchase at a mom-to-mom sale so you don’t have to spend a lot.

10. Seasonal scents and flavors. Mmmm…for peppermint mocha anything! I also love my spruce candle and anything smelling like sugar cookies.

11. Books. We rent books from the library weekly and have had fun renting children’s books highlighting holiday traditions around the world. But of course, The Polar Express and The Night Before Christmas never get old.

12. Random acts of kindness. Nothing warms my heart quite like hearing about the wonderful acts of kindness shared between mankind during this time of year. Such a great testament to what the season should truly be about.

Weber Kiss

They fight one moment, then turn to kiss and make up. Sisters!

What are your favorite happy parts surrounding the holiday season?

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