His First Birthday

Happy birthday to our sweet, happy boy!

Happy first birthday to our boy

This past year flew by so fast.

Newborn baby's first weeks at home

Wasn’t he just born?

Happy first birthday to our boy

At one year old he’s an adventurous climber and explorer, yet coordinated and steady on his feet…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Loves music and dancing…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Crazy about carrying, dropping, and throwing (!!!) balls…

Happy first birthday to our boy

He loves playing outside and exploring the natural world (i.e. picking up rocks, trying to eat acorns, and carrying around little sticks or leaves)…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Curious about food preparation and cooking, which means he’s always near our side (and wanting us to hold him) when we’re working in the kitchen…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Loves to eat everything, although he’s particularly partial to braised meats, fresh fruits, and greens sautéed with garlic…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Skilled at drinking from a straw and enjoys blowing bubbles in between sips…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Chats all day long (no surprise there!), though we’re just starting to understand snippets of what he’s saying. He now clearly enunciates the words mom-mom, dad, big sister’s name, up, ba (for, you guessed it, ball), more, and done…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Loving and cuddly, he adores running towards us with his arms outstretched, ready to give us hugs. (He also gets terribly affronted if Daddy doesn’t pick him up the moment he walks in the door after work. How dare Daddy try to put down his bag first!)

Happy first birthday to our boy

His world revolves around observing and playing with big sister, and he wants to do everything she finds interesting…

Happy first birthday to our boy

Happy birthday, sweet boy! We so love you.

Love,
Mama

A Smoother Postpartum Recovery: Six Essential Steps For Postnatal Self-Care

Six years ago after the birth of our daughter I found the postpartum recovery to be rather ass-kicking. (Talk about the one thing that no one adequately prepares you for when you’re pregnant!) Last year when I gave birth to our son, we resolved to do things differently. Here are some things we incorporated right away after giving birth. I’m happy to report that it made a HUGE difference.

A Smoother Postpartum Recovery: Six Essential Steps For Postnatal Self-Care

1. Apply Lanolin — for the first few weeks after each time we breastfed, I covered my nipples and areola in lanolin. Even having breastfed previously for two and a half years didn’t prepare me for having sore nipples this time around. People say that breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt initially. That may be true for some women, but for me I found breastfeeding to be extremely uncomfortable for the first two weeks or so (at times being excruciating since I had a cracked nipple due to a poor latch one night). After each and every session I put lanolin on my nipples and suddenly one day breastfeeding stopped hurting. My nipples got used to it, my son mastered latching, and ta-da! Breastfeeding success. He put on six pounds in the first six weeks and after three months weighed more than his sister did at one year. Phew!

2. Dry Off With a Hair Dryer — who would imagine a hair dryer to be essential after giving birth?! Well, it is. During the first few weeks when you’re using your peri bottle to rinse your you-know-what after each time you pee, dry your bottom with a hair dryer set on the lowest setting. It’s even more fun if you leave the door open to the bathroom and do a little dance while you’re drying to crack up your five year old and husband. True story. (Don’t judge me.)

A Smoother Postpartum Recovery: Six Essential Steps For Postnatal Self-Care

3. Use Comfrey Salve — our midwife made this so I don’t know the exact recipe, but a quick Google search turned up a number of diy recipes. I slathered this on my you-know-what after drying off with the hair dryer after peeing. Magical healing herbs moisturizing that area works wonders. (You can also purchase comfrey tea to drink or add to sitz baths.)

4. Get Sunlight/Adequate Vitamin D — after giving birth, get yourself outside. Even if you haven’t showered in days and are wearing pajamas, you’ll feel better with the sun on your face and taking a breath of fresh air.

5. Use Ultra Soft Toilet Paper — when you’re done using your peri bottle, you’ll want to be gentle down there. We forego our usual recycled toilet paper in favor of the softest toilet paper available for a few weeks. (Bonus: your visitors and house guests will love it too.)

6. Take Pain Medications – No, really. I may have given birth without medication (twice), but recovery is not the time to be stoic! Taking ibuprofen afterwards made a freaking huge difference. After labor I was sore, swollen, and cramping (as my stitches healed and uterus shrunk). Taking away even some of that discomfort is essential. It’s so much easier to focus on and enjoy your new baby when you’re not hurting so badly. So talk to your doctor or midwife about what dose they’d recommended and medicate away.

A Smoother Postpartum Recovery: Six Essential Steps For Postnatal Self-Care

Taking these steps dramatically reduced my postpartum recovery time between my first and second births. Instead of taking around six weeks to feel like myself (as it did with my first baby), this time the recovery took a matter of days. What an incredible difference!

(By the way, I wrote this post last spring and am finally publishing it now, eleven months later. I’m just a tad bit behind with my to-do list. Welcome to life with kids!)

Those of you who have given birth, what else would you recommend? I’d love more tips for the next time. ;)

Yep, I’m Still (Reluctantly) Eating Meat, Plus 4 Yummy Vegetarian Salad Recipes to Try

After ten long months of mama torture (ha!), our breastfeeding boy appears to finally tolerate my eating dairy! Hooray!

Hip Hip Hooray! Well, Maybe. / Snuggling Siblings

Here’s what I learned though: I feel soooo much better NOT eating dairy. Except for during several ass-kicking colds this fall, I didn’t blow my nose once over the past ten months, and I was a blow-my-nose-every-half-hour kind of gal before.

Sigh.

So right now I am basically a meat-eating vegan. Oh, the irony.

Hip Hip Hooray! Well, Maybe. / Happy boy

It’s been two years since I said goodbye to twenty five years of vegetarianism in an attempt to stay pregnant. I still eat meat every day. I continue to feel so much more energized now than when I was a vegetarian, despite getting so much less sleep. I’ve had to completely rewire my idea of what constitutes healthy eating and how I personally need to eat to feel my best. At this point in my life, breastfeeding a rapidly growing toddler 24-7, I basically eat hearty, gluten-free vegetarian meals with a side of meat.

Here are four dairy-free, vegetarian, and gluten-free salad recipes that recently caught my eye:
4 Healthy Salads Recipes to Try
1. Orange, Avocado & Arugula Salad (pin) / 2. Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad (pin) / 3. Kale Citrus Salad with Orange Tahini Dressing (pin) / 4. Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Garlicky Orange Tahini Dressing (pin)

For other simple, healthy, gluten-free meal ideas check out my Recipes & Kitchen Tips To Try / Whole30 boards on Pinterest.

What sorts of yummy dishes have you enjoyed recently?

The Mama Guide to Making Chubby Babies

This post is in honor of World Breastfeeding Week and part of Mothering’s “Blog about Breastfeeding” event.

The Mama Guide to Making Chubby Babies

Is there anything cuter than a chubby baby? I don’t think so. Here are my tips to fattening up your baby.

1. Breastfeed on Demand
In other words, BREASTFEED ALL THE TIME. Whenever they want it, they get it. Plus encourage snacking. Feeling sad? Have some milk. Thirsty after your nap? Take a sip. Bored and pulling my hair? Why don’t I distract you with this instead?

I can’t help myself. It’s lazy easy parenting.

The Mama Guide to Making Chubby Babies

2. Nurse Them While They’re Sleeping
Grab a good book (or your mobile), latch that baby on, let them fall asleep and nurse away. (Sleeping babies usually keep on sucking.) While you read (or Pin), your baby is getting that fatty hind milk. Eventually they’ll drop your nipple, or you can unlatch them, and in the meantime you’ve gotten thirty or forty minutes to read (or surf).

Plus your baby is looking bigger already.

3. Milk is Liquid Gold
If your baby is spitting up, try eliminating foods from your diet that might be upsetting their tummy. (I found that chocolate and dairy made my son fussy, burpy, and more likely to vomit. Our daughter spit up a ton before I cut out the usual culprits for a few months and she never spit up again. Really.)

You don’t want to waste any milk. You worked hard to make it and your baby needs those calories. ;)

The Mama Guide to Making Chubby Babies

4. Embrace Night Feedings
Try to sleep with your baby in such a way that you both can sleep while the baby eats. I sleep lying on my side, facing the baby, with my boob out and ready. Sleeping like this allowed both of our kids to settle into a routine from just a few weeks old whereby the don’t need to open their eyes or fully wake up at night. They learned that in their sleep they could reach out and usually smack me awake, I’d quickly latch them on, and then try to fall back asleep myself before I’d fully wake up. The sleeping baby would then continue to nurse in their sleep while I slept. (See point 2.) When babies get older they can even latch themselves on and then you can sleep through the whole thing, only waking occasionally to switch sides.

(I found taking magnesium before bed and exercising daily also help me fall back to sleep much more quickly. I try to go to sleep early too so I can take advantage of any longer stretches of sleep the baby might have. I don’t want to be downstairs doing the dishes when I could be sleeping four or five hours in a row. More sleep makes for a better mama. Either way, the baby is getting fatter.)

The Mama Guide to Making Chubby Babies

5. Stay Hydrated
I personally find staying well hydrated to be one of the biggest struggles while breastfeeding. I drink a tremendous amount of water, coconut water, and unsweetened herbal tea in an attempt to quench this constant and overwhelming thirst. At home I drink from a large mason jar with a reusable stainless steel straw. Out and about I bring my Klean Kanteen water bottle (with a BPA-free sport top) with me everywhere. I use my pee color as a guide to my hydration. If there’s any color to it, I need to drink more water to stay healthy, feel energized, and to keep that bountiful milk supply going.

The Mama Guide to Making Chubby Babies

6. Genetic Wild Card
I know there’s nothing you can do about this, but it helps if your breasts are bigger than your baby’s head. As much as I complain about my freakingly huge boobs, they hold a lot of milk. THANK YOU, GENETICS.

That being said, the more your baby breastfeeds, the more milk you’ll make. So latch that baby on, paruse my blog, and let them suck away.

Photos shown throughout this post are a mix of my daughter breastfeeding several years ago (see more in my breastfeeding retrospective post) and our son partaking right now. (Literally. He’s suckling as I write this post. Mama has to multitask these days and I’m trying to fatten him up.)

Weekend Moment

Little boy sitting at the table in his Tripp Trapp chair
Little boy sitting at the table in his Tripp Trapp chair
Little boy sitting at the table in his Tripp Trapp chair

The baby can sit on his own, so he now has a place at the table. (Those Tripp Trapp chairs are such brilliant inventions.) How empowering to be able to sit at the table next to big sister.