Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Breastfeeding Must Haves

Because I have 6 kids I often get asked by pregnant women or new Moms what baby things that I just can't live without, and while I always have a hard time thinking of things that I have to have specifically for the baby, I can think of a handful of must-haves for nursing!

Breastfeeding is a lot of work, and it can get complicated if you have to work and add pumping to the mix. I don't feel like I was prepared for how much work it would be when I had my first couple kids which is why I didn't make it very long! I think I finally figured it out by #4, 5 and 6 :) I don't at all want to scare someone into not breastfeeding or to think that you have to have all these things to make it work for you, but for me these products were SO helpful in making it to at least a year of nursing. This is a long post but so worth reading if you are nursing or will be in the future. So here they are...

The Arden Bra

This bra has been pretty much life changing for me.. that's a lot to say about a bra!! I first saw someone pin it on pinterest as the dairy fairy and I thought "what the what??" but it seemed like it had something to do with nursing and since that consumes my life at the moment I was curious and checked it out. I was impressed by all it's features- #1- it's pretty! It's adjustable on the straps, the back closure and the front crossover straps to make it fit you just right as well as being able to be used for nursing, hands free pumping or both simultaneously. I took the plunge and bought one after reading reviews and watching the really informative videos on their site. It was an investment but I did have a $15 off code so that took the price down to $53 which I feel has been well worth it! I have the Arden Bra in ocean color- it fits so great and I LOVE it!! No jabbing or pinching anywhere, no cup-runneth-over, no uni-boob, saggy-boob or side-boob issues (I think that pretty much covers all bad bra issues) and it's really well made. It's so adjustable that I never feel like I could get too big or small for it (I mean, I would love for it to get too big at some point!!). By far my favorite feature is the hands free pumping, I call it my "work bra" because that's where I have to pump and I love that I can be doing something else like eating my lunch, doing paperwork or (more than likely) checking facebook and sending snapchats while pumping- true mommy multitasking! Because I am so in love with this bra and I keep preaching that all nursing Moms should have one, I reached out to the company and the awesome people at The Dairy Fairy have offered a $15 off code!! Use the code mealandmesses (make sure you don't add an "s" to meal) for $15 off on their website till June 30!! So go, go now and visit their site and get the Arden Bra...ooh and check out the Sadie Tank too- it looks way prettier and more functional than the ones I've been sporting and it's shipped for free!!

 The Milk-Saver

This is another thing that I've been babbling to my friends about.. well, I seriously babble a lot, but this has been coming up frequently! I'm not one of those Moms who is a major milk maker- I make just enough and when I have to pump it's usually is about an ounce less then what the babe eats from a bottle while I'm away. I was annoyed with wearing nursing pads when I nursed and just wasting milk that would leak from the opposite side I was feeding on... enter the Milk-Saver. It's kind of a weird looking thing but it basically goes in your bra (ok.. most likely nursing tank!) and catches the milk that would be wasted if you just had a nursing pad on. I know for some Moms this would never be an issue because they don't leak from the the side that they aren't feeding from, but for me I always do, and being able to catch that milk gets me that extra milk that I'm not able to pump. It's been awesome to have because now I don't stress about not pumping enough! This isn't something that you just wear around all day, it's just for when you are nursing the babe, unless you want to look funny and very rigidly-lopsided.. in that case, wear it all day.

The Boppy Pillow
This one is a pretty common nursing staple and it was something I did have from my very first baby. I love to use it for nursing to get the baby in a better position to make it easier and more comfortable for both Mom and baby but it's also awesome that you can use it for more and throw it in the washer (which I really need to do!!) or change the look with a cute cover.

Nursing Tanks

If I am at home you can pretty much bank on me being in a nursing tank and counting that as having a bra on! I will, for the sake of others, put a bra on and a shirt over top of the tank when I venture out :) Other than being super comfy and so convenient at home, they are great for having to nurse in public without having a lot of skin (i.e. post-baby-belly) hanging out for the world to see. I have them in a bunch of different colors and in a couple different sizes so I'll have some to fit as I change sizes, ya know because that baby weight fell off so quickly from breastfeeding,.. ahem, not so much- it's gone now, but it was hanging on for dear life!! I got mine from target and always picked them up on sale, I think for around $12 or so. It can get a bit much to have a nursing bra on and a nursing tank on all day, lots of buckles and more places to pinch me so if I know that I'm going to be out all day and have to nurse then I  might just wear a long tank that I can pull down from the neck with a shirt over and a nursing bra. FYI these are all big boob problems, it might not bother someone with smaller boobs to have a nursing tank and a nursing bra on all day.. but for me I feel like I'm suffocating by the end of the day when I'm all strapped in!

Medela Pump In Style

 I pretty much hate pumping, but I work a couple days a week and there is really no other way to make it work but this pump makes it suck a little less.. because it sucks so well- see what I did there lol! I have to admit that "Pump in Style" is so far from the truth... I put mine in a cute bigger bag, but its a pump- how stylish can we get here?!  I had no idea about pumping and how often I would be needing to with my first babies so I just had some dinky little hand pump.. seriously not an efficient use of time!! Then I borrowed a Medela pump from my sister in-law and my life became much, much easier.. well the part of my life that included pumping. I now have my very own which insurance covered awesome because I am *el cheapo*!! I encourage any new Moms to check with their insurance to see if they can get it covered. It was super easy- just get a prescription from your doc and take it to a medical supply company and they will hook you up, well they won't really hook you up.. that would be weird- but they'll give you the pump and then you can hook yourself up :) If insurance doesn't cover it you could borrow or buy used but I've seen some warning against that so do that at your own risk.. it was fine for me but I do like having my own brand new one too. You can get them on Amazon too, but not cheap!

Because the part of pumping that stinks the most is washing all the 50 million parts, I found these tiny brushes at Meijer in the baby section. They are made by Dr. Browns for their bottles but work perfect for what I needed and were CHEAP!

Another pump accessory that I use often is the car adapter. I'm hoping someday to get pulled over for a stupid reason when pumping either in the passenger or drivers seat (yes, I've done both!), I feel like I might get out of that one!! I don't enjoy pumping in the car but sometimes there just isn't a choice, so the car adapter is a way better choice than the battery pack- that takes about 37 AA batteries and they last not nearly as long as you think they should. The last thing you want is your batteries to go dead mid-pump session! You can get the actual Medela car adapter from Amazon, but I ended up getting a car adapter that you can plug regular plugs in.. I felt like I was getting more bang for my buck- what the hell else I'm going to plug into it is besides me but it made sense at the time!!

Nursing Cover

I don't have to nurse in public a whole lot and I used to be so afraid of it but I've pretty much gotten over that and a nursing cover has really helped! I got a super cute nursing cover that works great (for me at least, I have a cousin who doesn't like it!) from Udder Covers. I like it because it's light so the baby doesn't get too hot under there, there is an adjustable strap that goes around your neck and there is flexible boning that let's you see the baby without having to lift it off your chest with your hands that are usually tied up. The best part is that it's cheap!! When you use the code breastfeeding at checkout the nursing cover is FREE, you just pay shipping which is $11.95! They have lots of prints to chose from and lots of other products too from their sister companies like car seat canopies,  and  baby slings and the code breastfeeding works for all those products too, making them free but you pay shipping.. awesome!! I don't have the sling or car seat canopy so I can't say how well they work but the fabric prints are stinking adorable and I feel like even if it didn't work well I could re-purpose the cute fabric some how.. or most likely I'd say that was my plan but move it from one place to another in the house until I forget about it :)

So there's my fav things! I might get a little flack about making Mom's feel like they need more stuff to be able to breastfeed successfully but I get asked all the time about stuff I would recommend so I thought this would be helpful to at least some :) In reality these things have made it possible to breastfeed longer, with 5 other small kids and working part time, which makes me and my baby happy! I have friends who don't use any of these things but everyone's circumstances are different; some work, some stay home, some are professional milk makers, some struggle to make enough (like me!), some have big boobs and some can get away with a nursing tank as a bra (Jealous!!). I hope that this post helps some and at the very least gives you a little honest glimpse into my life as a nursing Mom :) If you have any questions about any of this stuff just leave it in the comments and I'll try to get back to ya soon!!

Oh and just FYI.. I didn't get paid anything or any free stuff for this post.. these are just my honest opinions that I thought would help- however I'm not opposed to getting money or free stuff (I think I mentioned that I can be a little cheap.. I'm dutch!!), but you'll still get my very blunt, honest opinion :)


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza- Gluten Free, THM

In September I bought a ton of fresh chicken breast from zaycon foods (I'm talking 120#). Best decision ever! It was a great price ($1.89/lb) and all natural, free of hormones, additives and artificial ingredients. We froze family size servings into gallon freezer bags and with about 10# I popped into a couple crockpots for half a day and then diced and froze that. It has been so nice to have already cooked, diced chicken breast right in the freezer for quick meals and that's what I used for this pizza!

I tweaked the homemade ranch dressing recipe from here and changed a couple things from the grain/gluten free crust recipe here. I also doubled the crust recipe so we could have some yummy garlic bread sticks too!!

If you didn't want to mess with the homemade ranch (It's super good though!) you could just use your favorite ranch dressing. Also we always buy  hormel uncured bacon, it's free of nitrates and nitrites and is a little pricey but oh so yummy- I stock up when it's on sale and always have some in the freezer (ok, unless my husband knows it's in there.. then he wants it every single day!!)


Ranch Dressing
1T Dried Minced Onion
1T Parsley
1 T Garlic Powder
1 1/2 t Onion Powder
1 1/2 t Salt
1/2 t Pepper
1/2 t Sugar or a sprinkle of Stevia
1 C Mayo
1C Low fat Sour cream
1/4 C Heavy Cream

3 eggs, beaten
1/2 C Coconut Flour
1/4 C Ground Flax Meal
1C Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1t each of parsley, oregano, onion powder, 
garlic powder & salt. 
1/2 t Pepper

Ranch Dressing
2 C Cooked Chicken Breast, Cubed
2 C Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
12 oz Bacon, cooked & crumbled

 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix together all ingredients for ranch dressing, feel free to add more mayo, sour cream and heavy cream if you feel like its too strong tasting. Set dressing aside. Combine together coconut flour,  flax meal and seasonings, whisk to get out any clumps of flour. Add eggs and cheese and mix until its all incorporated. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (don't skip this step!) Transfer the crust dough to the cookie sheet and using your hands, start from the middle and work the dough out to the edges. Try to keep the thickness as uniform as possible. Bake crust for 20-25 minutes until it's just browning. Take crust out of the oven and let cool slightly. Add dressing ( I had leftover, about 3/4 C), cheese, chicken and bacon and return to the oven for 8-10 minutes. I put mine underneath the broiler for a couple minutes to brown even further but that's optional. Enjoy!

This is an S style pizza for those of you following THM.

I doubled the crust recipe and made some yummy garlic bread sticks too and they were super easy! Follow the same directions for the crust and when it's done add melted butter, garlic salt and cheese. Pop it back in the oven for 8-10 minutes and your done :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why being a Mom makes me cry...

That title sounds sad huh! It's not meant to be but it's so true, I've cried more in my years as a Mother than any other time in my life. I'm sure most people would tell me it's my hormones.. I have had 6 babies in 8 years, kind of a roller coaster for this body of mine but I think it's more than that. I don't cry all the time or every day but being a Mom seems to amplify all my emotions; I love harder, I hurt harder and my frustrations are stronger... my tears flow from joy, from laughter, from heartache and frustration.

Being a Mom makes me cry....

because I can't protect my kids from the suffering I know they have to go through

because some days I have nothing left to give them

because I can't fight their battles for them

because my heart aches for those women who want to but can't be Mothers

because these kids make me laugh so hard I cry

because I hear their little prayers and watch their relationships with Christ grow

because they love me so unconditionally

because sometimes it just feels good to cry.. for no apparent reason

because my body has not belonged to me in years, and it shows

because my "season" of baby growing in my belly  looks to be turning into just baby raising (tears well up just typing that.. I'm such a sap!!)

because God has trusted me with so many little lives and that responsibility can weigh heavily

because I can't grab up all the little babies that are hurting and bring them into my home

because my kids are growing, growing, growing too fast

I cry because these precious children of mine deserve the best of me and they don't get the best everyday but they show me grace and love me so much anyway. So yeah, being a Mom means that I shed more tears but I can't think of 6 better reasons to be crying :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Energy Bites- THM

For the longest time I've been making these Energy Bites. Our whole family likes them and they are so nice to have in the freezer to quick grab for snacks and lunches. So since I started following Trim Healthy Mama I've been thinking about how I could modify them make them work. Finally I think I got something kinda close.. or at least equally as yummy!

I just got my order from which included oat fiber and I got right to trying it out! These energy bites should be kept in the freezer because the coconut oil melt fast and they will turn into a gooey mess at room temp... a yummy gooey mess though :) These are perfect little bites to have with coffee, they melt in your mouth and satisfy a sweet craving after an S meal or even for, gasp.. breakfast!


Chocolate Chunks
1/4 C Virgin Coconut Oil
2 heaping T Cocoa Powder
2t Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
2t Heavy Whipping Cream
1t Erythritol/Stevia Extract Blend
Dash of Pure Stevia Extract
Sprinkle of Salt

Energy Bites
1C Oat Fiber
1C Flax Meal
1 Scoop Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
1 1/2 C Sugar Free Peanut Butter
1/4 C Virgin Coconut Oil
1 1/2 t Erythritol/Stevia Extract Blend
Dash of Pure Stevia Extract
Dash of Salt
Chocolate Chunks

To make the chocolate chunks; heat coconut oil just until its get to liquid form, mix all ingredients except salt till blended together, pour into a shallow dish, sprinkle salt on top (optional) and freeze till firm.You can adjust the sweetener to your taste. Wait to break into chunks until all the energy bite ingredients are mixed to avoid melting.

For the Energy Bites; Mix oat fiber, flax meal, protein powder, sweetener and salt together then add peanut butter and coconut oil (heated to liquid) and mix well till dough comes together, refrigerate dough for 30 minutes, cut chocolate into chunks and mix into dough. Roll into balls about walnut size bites, I got 30. Freeze on a cookie sheet then transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer.

A couple tips... I had to use a small metal spatula to keep them in one piece coming off the cookie sheet, I also used my hands some to mix the wet ingredients into the dry.

I think next time I might add some sesame seeds and coconut because I like that crunch but this is a good basic recipe to start and then add different things to suit your taste.

Dry ingredients mixed together
Dough Mixed together and chocolate waiting to be "chunked" and added to dough
Grabby little hands couldn't wait :)

I'm linking up to Trim Healthy Tuesdays at Gwen's Nest, check out her site-
 she has loads of info in THM and lots if yummy recipes too!

Just call me stingy

I'm Dutch, so I guess that makes me a little cheap on the money side but I wonder if it has anything to do with the type of stingy I'm talking about.. I'm stingy with my compliments!!

I work with some of most wonderful people who daily and almost as soon as I walk in the door compliment me in some way, my hair, outfit, bag.. someone always likes something. What a way to start the day huh! I also have some awesome friends who tell me I'm a great Mom and laugh at me constantly (the greatest compliment in my opinion) and I know people who just give compliments out so freely and effortlessly to the store clerk, a stranger, or a waitress without even thinking about it.. it just happens! And then there is my husband, who compliments me all the time and thinks I look great in my sweats.. thanks babe :)

Its not that way for me, I'm much more likely to tell my husband that his feet smell terrible than to tell him his butt looks good even if I think it does.. I do by the way :) I've always just been more critical than complimentary. There are so many times that I see opportunities to compliment someone and I think nice thoughts, but just rarely say it! I didn't really realize this about myself until my adult life when I very much started to appreciate compliments that I got from others, it's amazing what kind words can do for you.

I want to make other people feel good about themselves, the way that they do for me. I don't want it to be all about me and how I feel! If that means telling one of my patients that I like their cat sweater even if its not something I would ever, ever wear or giving a thankful hug to my child for coloring me the 16th my little pony picture for the day then I need to do that. I don't want to become a fake person but I don't think a couple extra compliments given would hurt me at all! The extra effort is worth it to put a smile in someones face, compliments are good for the soul.

In addition to not being so great at giving compliments, I'm not the best at graciously accepting them either! If I get a compliment about my hair I usually blabber on about how it needs to be cut or colored and that I need a new style and if someone likes my shirt I'll blurt out that it was super cheap on sale and there is a small stain in the sleeve and its starting to pill.... seriously- a simple thank you and a smile would be sufficient!!

 So I guess when it comes to compliments I need to work on dishing them out and taking them! Do others struggle with this as well?

Ooohh.. I LOOOVE your cat sweater ma'am :)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I don't want to be "that" Mom.

As a Mom there are so many unrealistic expectations that society sets for me from what I should look like to what I should be feeding my kids, but the more unrealistic expectations that are set are the ones we set for ourselves. The notion that we can be 15 places at once, looking like we just stepped out of the salon, have supper on the table at the same time each night after coming home from working or volunteering at school- it's pretty much ridiculous.

I don't want to be "that" Mom.

I want to be the Mom that squeezes the life out of each day with as much energy as she has, however much that might be. I want to bake and cook with my kids without worrying about the mess, I want to sit and stare at my new baby's eyes for hours trying to decide what color they will be, I want to sing crazy made up songs with my girls and do some crazy dancing along with it, I want to play legos and chase and trucks with my boys, I want to listen- really listen to my kids.. not just nod my head and hurry them through a story or an extra long dinner prayer, I want to be a person that gives best to the people I work with even though I may prefer to be home, and I want to be a good spiritual influence for my kids and husband . But most importantly- I want to do this all without the guilt of what my head is telling me I should be doing like laundry, dishes, cleaning, showering (seriously!), working out, writing thank you's, meal planning, or plucking my eyebrows lol!

It kinda sounds like I just want to sit around and play all day! It's so much more than that. I get that dishes laundry, cleaning, showering and plucking my eyebrows are all necessary activities in my day to day life but I want them to come second.. or 7th in our house. I want my kids to come before all the monotony of the day sucks me into what I should be doing to be "that" Mom. I want to be the Mom and am in public at home too!

People will often say to me "You are supermom" or "I don't know how you do it!" and honestly most times I either think or say... "if you only knew". I think most people think that because we have a lot of kids that that means I have it all together.. uh, not so much. I yell, I'm impatient, I stay in pj's all day, I forget to move the stupid elf 3 nights in a row, I forget snack day, I dont read the bible nearly enough with my kids or husband, I roll my eyes, I'm rude to waitresses, I disappoint my kids, I'm ungrateful.. I could go on and on here. I am anything but super but I am a Mom and that label I will take and wear proudly.

I know that the expectations of being the type of Mom that I want to be may too seem unrealistic but I would much rather be working towards being this Mom than "that" Mom :)


** I dont at all want to make other people feel bad for trying to do it all, every family is different and we're all doing our best to try and make it work! Keep on keeping on Mama's!**

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fudgey Cheesecake Shake

I am on a roll today with the shakes.. the yummy, rich, filling and oh so yummy shakes! I love, love, love cheesecake.. it's my "thing". I get asked to bring cheesecake for pretty much all family gatherings and not only do I love the taste but it's fun to make too!!

After I made my Brownie Batter Shake my head was filled with new ideas for shakes that were THM friendly and since I already had some Rich Chocolate Fudge (pg 386 in the book) in the freezer I knew that would be the perfect addition to a cheesecake flavored shake. You could use whatever fudge that you have or want to make or even some skinny chocolate (pg 371). This is an S dessert or snack of you split it but a meal if you eat it on your own- it's very rich and filling and was hard for me to finish alone for lunch!!

Fudgey Cheesecake Shake
1C Almond Milk
3oz Cream Cheese
2T Heavy Cream
1T Vanilla
1 1/2 t Truvia or sweetener of choice
1/4t Glucomannan
2oz fudge
6 ice cubes

Add all ingredients to blender except fudge and ice and blend till combined.
Add 6 ice cubes and blend till you get a nice smooth consistency, 
you may need more of less ice depending on the size of you cubes.  
Add fudge and pulse until fudge chunks are as small as you'd like. 
Pour into large cup and enjoy!