Monday, March 25, 2013

Guest Post: Breastfeeding Is Hard

I haven't talked much about my experience with breastfeeding on my blog because I know some of my students (hi girls!) visit here and well... that's just awkward.  BUT, it is an important part of my journey in my first year of motherhood.  It was simultaneously one of the hardest things I've ever done and the most accomplished I've ever felt about anything before.  When new-mom Laura first emailed to say she wanted to post, she wasn't sure what to write about... BUT, I found this great series on her blog called "The Feeding Chronicles" and knew that was the angle she should take.  Thanks Laura for saying so many things I haven't been able to say here before! :)

Why I'm Breaking

Hi everyone! I'm Laura and I blog over at Stories from Austin. I met my husband on nearly 5 years ago, and we just had a baby girl (who I refer to as "M") in late November. I'm a huge college football fan and a lover of all things wine and cheese. I'm a stay at home/work from home mom trying to figure out how to balance love, life, and a baby! 

  photo PicMonkeyCollage1_zpscd60695f.jpg 

One question that people without kids have most often asked me is "what is the hardest part of being a new parent?" My answer? Feeding this child. My husband would likely agree with me. For me, breastfeeding was harder than labor. 

While I was pregnant, I read a lot about breastfeeding and I have a background in public health so it was very important to me to do everything I could to make sure I could breastfeed my daughter. I knew the mechanics of how breastfeeding worked and about the importance of a good latch. I knew about thrush, mastitis, and nipple confusion. I felt like I had a good working knowledge of the information and, while it would be challenging, we would catch on quickly. Well, that's not always the case. 

The first 2 weeks were absolute hell. My daughter was eating 12-14 times a day, and every time she latched I felt excruciating pain. I was recovering from (a fairly easy) delivery and learning to care for an infant at the same time. Things did get easier, and I'm happy to say that my daughter has been exclusively breastfed since birth, and we have no problems breastfeeding now---I can pop her on in seconds, and little piggy is gaining weight perfectly! BUT, if I had to it over again, there are a lot of things I would have done differently that would have helped us establish a solid nursing relationship quicker. I wanted to share some of those things with y'all...

Within 2 minutes of M's birth, she was thrown on my chest. She didn't seem interested in breastfeeding, so we didn't push it. She wanted to stare at us, and we wanted to stare at her. It was an overwhelming time and I was not thinking that clearly. With the next kiddo, I'll likely encourage it immediately, but I'm glad I didn't with M since it was so painful. We tried again about 2 hours after she was born, with help from a lactation consultant. Holy hell, it hurt! I winced in pain so we delatched her. Tried again, and more pain. Again and again, pain, pain, PAIN. This didn't seem right. The LC tool a closer look at her latch, she said she was perfectly latched and wasn't sure why I was in so much pain. She said it may hurt a little bit, but I shouldn't be in excruciating pain. At this point, I honestly assumed that I was a wimp and wasn't dealing with the pain well (doesn't matter that just a few hours earlier, I had back labor, and almost dropped a baby out in the elevator and didn't get an epidural until I was a "good 7 cm"). The first day was painful, but I was on a lot of pain medication and she was only feeding every 3 hours so it wasn't awful. The second day was a different story. On day 2, I was still in a lot of pain, so her latch was checked again and again and AGAIN and I was told it was fine. I worked through the second day, but it was a struggle and getting more and more painful. Starting at around 6pm the second night, the cluster feeding started. Holy geez---M wanted to feed every 45 minutes, not even kidding. At 11pm, the nurse took her to check her jaundice levels (they check 36 hours after birth at our hospital). She was gone for about 90 minutes and that's the longest stretch of sleep that I got that night. They brought her back to my room and she was screaming her head off because she was hungry. We fed, and fed, and fed. I struggled getting her latched, and many times that night my husband would help, but I tried to let him get some sleep since he was exhausted. The nurse came to check my vitals around 3am and asked about her feeding frequency and I told her the truth--every 45 minutes! She was surprised since most babies apparently don't cluster feed like this that early, and offered to take M to the nursery so I could sleep. I said no, I knew she was trying to make my milk come in sooner, and doing that would delay the process. She would be screaming in the nursery, and she's our kiddo so we felt we needed to be the ones to take care of her. 

On day 3, the pain was intense. I lowered my dose of pain meds, and I was developing sores, and every article of clothing hurt the girls. My milk was clearly coming in (helllllllo engorgement!) and I crossed my fingers that I would see some improvement in the next day or so. On day 4, the pain was even worse. If I had it to do over again, this is where I would have called a lactation consultant. Instead, I suffered through, caked on lanolin, took pain meds, and hoped it would get better. On day 7, I had a complete meltdown. I was in so much pain and it wasn't getting better. M was nursing 12 times a day, and I was exhausted. My husband and I discussed giving up and feeding M formula or having me exclusively pump (we hadn't even bought my pump yet) for awhile. I decided to call every lactation consultant in Austin to see who could see me first. We would do this and then reevaluate in a few days whether to pump, give formula, or continue breastfeeding. After calling 12 Lactation Consultants, I finally found one who could come out the next day. She was wonderful! She spent nearly 2 hours with us and observed M and I through 2 feedings as well as examined her mouth and my girls. Turns out our biggest issue was that M was a tiny baby and therefore has a tiny mouth. She had a great latch, but it was shallow since she was small. I also had a lot of damage to the nips, which made it even worse. She gave me some techniques to help deepen the latch and said I'd see the biggest change once M grew a little bigger. I know it doesn't seem like the LC did much, but knowing everything was ok and it would likely improve once M grew a little bit made me feel much better. She also told me that most of the time, 80% of a successful breastfeeding relationship is dependent on the stubbornness of the mother. Well, I'm very stubborn. This comment made a lasting impression on me. 

I powered onward, and the 2 week mark was our next challenge because M cluster fed for 3 days; but, somehow, we made it through. I ended up taking ibuprofen for 4 weeks to help with the pain (and for 3 days, I continued to take the Vicodin due to breastfeeding pain NOT the delivery pain. Then I ran out of the good stuff). I went through almost a whole jar of Motherlove Nipple Butter (lanolin hurt too much). Slowly, things started to improve. 

At 4.5 weeks, the left side had zero pain--I couldn't believe it! At 6.5 weeks, the right side finally had no pain. We are now going on 3 months and I can see us hitting the 12 month mark down the road. Establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship has been one of the most frustrating and rewarding things I have ever done. It was such a struggle early on and I hope to be a source of support and encouragement to all of my friends who wish to breastfeed when they become parents.

I hope you all enjoyed this post! Please stop by my blog, Stories from Austin, I love new readers!

Stories from Austin

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Guest Post: Humility 101

Humility 101

Photos by Delve Photography

Reading a book with both my boys has been a nightly ritual since they were born. My oldest gets to choose the title, I get to choose a cozy spot, and the baby gets to choose which way he will arrange his body on the book so that it's nearly impossible to read. I've actually become quite good at ad-libbing the words that are covered by a diaper, hand, or occasional total body sprawl. I've made it a point to read to my kids each evening to help increase their knowledge and vocabulary, but I was caught off guard during a story the other night by one of my 5 year old's profound statements.

He chose the Disney book, Brave, and part of the story is about a prince that constantly quarreled with his brothers and split off from the family to pursue his own selfish interests, causing their kingdom to fall. He came upon a witch's house in the forest and traded his family's heirloom ring for a spell to give him the strength of ten men. The witch took the ring and turned him into a giant gruesome bear. He became the target of the village huntsmen, and devoured all who stepped foot near the ruins of his kingdom.

When we finished, he put the book in his lap and flipped back through the pictures like he so often does. He stopped at the page with the picture of the towering, ferocious bear with saliva dripping from his sharp teeth and thick claws ready to lunge on his next victim. He looked up from his book and said to me, "I know why the bear was so mad. He was angry at other people because he was not happy about who he was." Wow, that spoke to me in more ways than I could count! I often think about my role as their teacher, but I hadn't given much thought to how much my children teach me. I just might be learning more from the mouths of babes than I learned in 4 years of college.

God has entrusted us as parents with the lives of our tiny geniuses. 

The saying that, "Our children are our future" is completely true and accurate. Pondering these overwhelming educational responsibilities as a parent, brought me back to an analogy in a book I read by Michael Pearl a few years ago. He states, "If God is the Potter and your child the clay, you are the wheel on which the clay is to be turned." The more control we give to the Potter, the better the wheel will turn. We must allow the Master Artist to complete his work in us and in our children.

Maybe you're like me and it's hard for you to let the Potter guide your direction and you end up spinning the wrong way. Or maybe you’ve become off-balanced and are wobbling, causing the clay to slide off. Or, maybe there are pieces of your wheel that are broken off or chipped from past experiences that have never been repaired. All of these can be fixed by the Potter if we allow him. My children teach me in so many ways, and sometimes expose my own sin. I am humbled when the clay I am spinning begins instructing me on which way I should turn the wheel!

This post spoke to my heart because it is a lesson I have had to learn over and over and over again in the last year and a half.  Thanks Rachel for sharing!!  (And, how about those pictures?!?)

Dreams of Perfect Design

Monday, March 18, 2013

Guest Post: A Third Baby?

Jeff and I have always known that we want to have a sibling for Sam (Lord willing) when the time is right.  But, both coming from a family with two kids, we are often torn when it comes to deciding about a third (or fourth) child.  Luckily, we don't have to make any choices on that one any time soon; but, my guest poster today - Meghan - is in the throes of that discussion with her husband NOW.  Are you and your husband 100% on the same page about the number of kids you want to have, or do you - like Meghan - have some convincing to do? :)

Why I'm Breaking
Hi, I'm Meghan. I'm a former first grade teacher now at home full time with a much smaller class size - two little girls. :) I've been reading Elizabeth's blog for a few years, and I love her sense of humor. Her writing always makes me laugh. I think her little guy is a real cutie, and I can't believe how quickly he has grown - right here on the Internet! :)

I imagine Sam's parents are starting to think about having another baby at some point in the future. It's only natural to do so. And right around that baby's first birthday, people seem to start asking about the next. I remember that with my oldest, and I was totally surprised...maybe a little offended even. You've finally made it to that first birthday. You've made it through the first year - with your FIRST child. And you're still alive...and still married. The first year with the first is the hardest in my opinion. I wasn't really ready to plan for that second baby at the time. We knew we wanted one. We hoped we'd have one, but we were still trying to figure out the whole parenting thing, and it was only starting to become a little bit easier at that point.

Fast forward to my oldest's second birthday, and we were ready and waiting. It seemed like the perfect timing. Emily was born just three months shy of Julia's third birthday. She is completely different from her big sister in every way, and this second time around thing have been so much easier. I mean, as easy as having two kiddos can be. :)

So much easier, in fact, that lately I've been finding myself looking at that sweet ten month old and thinking about a third. Baby number three. I've always imagined a bigger family. Not that three is that many, but it's bigger than two. And then instead of people asking when a third will be joining our group, we're asked if we're done with two. Or if we're going to go for a boy. Which I again find slightly offensive, because I'd be just as happy to have a third girl. Isn't it funny - the things people presume? :)

Before we had kids, my husband and I always talked about two or three. I look at both girls, and I can pretty much imagine our life with just them. But I can also picture us with one more. But one more means a lot of things, which make my husband super nervous. One more means a few more years before I will go back to teaching. One more means another round of sleepless nights, breastfeeding schedules, and pumping before bed (the worst!). One more means a car big enough to hold three car seats. One more means another college education to save for. And the older the second baby gets, the easier it is to imagine being done. At two. Because they just keep getting easier. (Said the mom who hasn't had teenagers yet...)

So when I talk to my husband about maybe one more, I can tell he gets a little stressed. He's not fully on board. In fact, he has called me a baby hoarder on more than one occasion. I quickly remind him that two children is not considered hoarding. Is three? :) I don't think it is. But I just don't have that feeling of being done yet. Going from one to two was a no brainer, but two to three seems like such a struggle. I am getting older. If I don't make a decision in the next year or so, a third will put me into the 35 and older geriatric pregnancy category. (Can you believe they call it that?)

Meanwhile my husband is moving exersaucers out to the garage and going through closets asking about donating tiny tubs of clothing. I want to yell, "Wait! We might need those." Ugh. I'm sweaty just thinking about it.

Thoughts about three? Be honest. Am I being a hoarder? :)
Baby Makes 3

Friday, March 15, 2013

Guest Post: 2 Under 2

Well, since Sam will be two before I know it, and there is no bun in this oven, it doesn't look like I will be one of the lucky/crazy mamas with two kiddos under two this go-around.  BUT, I have met SO many moms recently who are doing it (and even making it look easy)! They are my heroes.  Seriously.  Are you a mom of 2 under 2?  Would you consider having two kids that close together?  Did you survive that wild time and live to tell about it?  If so, you'll love Catie's post today...

Why I'm Breaking

Hello! I'm excited to be guest blogging today here at E, Myself, and I.

A little about me..... My name is Catie, and I blog over at Tales of a Real Housewife. I am a pharmacist, but now I stay at home with my two kids. I've been married for 3 years to my husband Josh, also a pharmacist. 

We have two kids- Gus who is almost 2 and Maddie who is 2 and 1/2 months

2 kids under 2- some may think we are crazy! We wanted our kids to be close in age so they could play together. I am still new at mothering two but I wanted to share a few tips for those who might find yourself in the same shoes:


1. Let others help! During the first month, we had lots of help. My husband was able to be off a long time, and my mom was able to stay for a while too. Many of our friends brought us dinner. Because of this, I was able to just focus on the kids. Gus had his daddy and "MiMi" to play with during those first weeks when I needed to be holding Maddie. It helped so much. And not worrying about cooking was HUGE!

2. It's ok to let things go. I already can't believe how much Maddie has grown. Babies are newborns for such a short time. Hold them!!!! And when you have other kids, they need you when you aren't holding the newborn. Laundry, a clean and organized house..... it can wait. You have the rest of your life to clean.

3. Don't forget your first-born. I couldn't believe how different Gus looked when we came home from the hospital with Maddie. He looked so big. He wasn't my little baby anymore. He still needs me, and sometimes I need to put Maddie down and give him attention. I also let Gus help me. He can give Maddie her pacifier, get her blanket, or get something for me. He likes to help.

4. Who needs me most?? There will be times when both kids are crying. Assess the situation to know who needs you most at that moment. Take a deep breath. :)

5. Remember, this time may be hard- but it is short. There are times I want to pull out my hair or am just counting down until Josh gets home. But there are also so many moments that are priceless. A smile from Maddie, a new word for Gus, Gus learning to pretend, Maddie watching Gus's every move. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I would love to hear tips from you on how you deal with 2 under 2! I'd also love for you to visit my blog! Thanks for letting me share!

Tales of a Real Housewife

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Guest Post: Mom-treprenuer

Can I be honest for a minute? When I first found out we were having a little boy, I had to mourn the loss of hairbows and headbands for a bit.  God willing, I'll have the chance one day to adorn a little (err... big, as the case may be) head with some of the ADORABLE accessories out there for little girls.  Today, I'm happy to have Carrie Ann of Little Beauty Bows Shop on Etsy posting about the reality of being a "Mom-treprenuer" and managing little ones and a business out of her home.

Why I'm Breaking

There is no greater blessing in the world than that of being a mother.  I wake up every morning so incredibly thankful to spend each day as a stay-at-home mom with my beautiful 17 month old daughter, Caylee.  I have always felt like I was put on this earth to be a mommy, and now that sweet Caylee is here with me, I know that is true.  My life and world absolutely revolves around her, from picking out her outfits in the morning to tucking her adorable chubby cheeks into her crib at night.  Everything I do, I do for Caylee.  Even after she is asleep at night I have spent evenings not doing anything for myself, but instead with my hot glue gun and satin making beautiful hair bows to match all of the outfits in Caylee's extensive wardrobe.  Not that I mind one bit - Caylee is certainly the princess in our house, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

However, she won't be the ONLY princess in the house for long.  Just when our little angel was starting to blossom from a needy infant into a much more independent toddler, my husband and I discovered Baby #2 would be arriving in just 9 short months!! We were beyond thrilled with this second blessing.  At the same time, I realized that any few minutes of free time I have after Caylee goes to bed now will quickly be replaced by frequent nursing and cuddling sessions with the new baby.  While I am so looking forward to the joy that comes from snuggles and love of a newborn, I know that having two-under-two will eliminate any time I have left to pursue any of my own individual dreams and aspirations aside from being a mommy.

One dream of mine that has always been on my "bucket list" is opening a shop on Etsy to sell hair bows like the ones I make for Caylee.  Strangers in the grocery store have always stopped me to remark how adorable her bows are, and my friends and family constantly comment, "Caylee's bows are adorable! Have you thought about selling them?"  In the past, I had brushed them off, laughing, "Like I have time to open a hair bow shop with a baby!" But, at the same time, I would smile wistfully, thinking, "But... that is definitely something I would love to do."

And, finally... I did.

With the new baby coming in less than two months, I realized opening an Etsy shop was a "now or never" endeavor.  While I still had the time (and energy) to pursue my dream of selling my beautiful bows, on January 24, 2013, the Little Beauty Bows Shop was born.

A few trips to JoAnn Fabric later and with Caylee as my little model, I clipped my precious bow creations in her hair and snapped some pictures. My dear husband, who supports the opening of my shop 100%, has stayed up with me until midnight (a ridiculously late hour for us now) editing pictures, posting listings for bows, figuring out the cost of supplies to make them, and even helping to pick out their fabrics and charms.  A few nights after opening, 35 hair bows were listed and 20 sales soon followed.  It feels great to be able to pursue a dream of mine and feel the success of customers complimenting their bow purchases.

While I will always be Caylee's mommy first and foremost (and the new baby's too), I feel such a deep satisfaction in myself as an individual in doing something for me.  I think that becoming a mom made me feel like I needed to devote 100% of my time, even when she is sleeping, to activities surrounding my daughter and family.  While I still spend... probably 95% of the time devoted to family/Caylee activities and chores, that 5% of my day I spend working on hair bows has become such a surprisingly fulfilling time for me.  I know my hair bow business may slow down in a couple months with the arrival of baby #2, but I will absolutely renew the stock in my shop when things settle down and I get back those few free minutes at night to myself.

Between diaper changes and feedings, I think that every mom needs to find some time, even if just a short while each day, to devote to her dreams as an individual and not feel guilty about it.  With equal importance, this will set a great example to our children about working hard to achieve our own individual goals.

I hope someday when Caylee is a mommy, she follows suit and still pursues her own individual aspirations.  And, if she ever has a daughter of her own, my future granddaughter will have the best hair accessories in town!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Guest Post: Tips for Starting Your Own Online Business

I LOVE Katie's Etsy shop One Delightful Button.  Even more, in the little work we have done together, I have been incredibly impressed with her knack for business.  As a full-time mommy, I am amazed at the beautiful work she does AND the professional way she runs her business. Seriously, she has thought of everything and takes such good care of her customers! When I decided to take a break, I asked Katie to post for me and share some of the lessons she has learned from owning her own shop and managing the responsibilities of home and a very successful business.  If you have ever thought about starting a business (or, if, like me, you just think all of it is fascinating), this is a must read...

Why I'm Breaking
Hello E readers! (Not as in the kindle or nook...) Thanks for letting me share with you all while Elizabeth is away. I'm Katie from One Delightful Button and my little family is pictured below. I occasionally blog about us here

I am a wife and mother to a crazy little toddler, a few months younger than Sam living north of Boston.  I spend my time as a stay-at-home-mom and volunteering with Young Life (the organization my husband works for), but I also have been running a side business since 2009 selling my handmade crafts, which is what I am going to share about with you today...

I got started with my business in the fall of 2009 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, which sounds a lot longer than it feels! I had recently heard of etsy and thought I love crafts and had always wanted to have a little cottage industry. I did not know exactly what I would do. I sort of knew how to sew, but did not have a sewing machine. I sort of knew some thing about photography and graphic design, but not a lot. I knew I loved vintage things so I went to this fun antique shop in Norfolk, Virginia called Country Boy. Country boy was a low-end antique store, which is the best kind if you ask me. Country Boy Antiques collects things from house that were going to be demolished like old windows and glass door knobs. I found an awesome jar of old buttons and thought, what could I make with these? I quickly thought of earrings and experimented with making a few pairs and opened my etsy shop. I did not have a name yet, but was calling it "KBowling Designs" at the time. Within a few weeks I had my first sale, despite my terrible pictures. Here is a screen shot of my first sale. I still am not sure why this person bought these earrings, but am grateful because it was encouraging to me at the time. 

I spent a lot of time tracking how many views I had on an item and obsessing over the details of my shop. At the time, there were chat rooms on etsy where you could promote your items. I spent a lot of unnecessary time in etsy chatrooms and was quickly becoming obsessed because I thought this was important to starting my business. Sales picked up some over Christmas, which was exciting, and I tried a few craft shows with a friend. Sometime shortly after Christmas I settled on the name One Delightful Button. My mother-in-law mentioned to me that a fabric button would be a nice addition to the shop and I began making things with fabric buttons too. 

I've continued to expand in others way with some elbow grease. I continued to do craft shows, advertise online (mostly on blogs), started to approach shops about selling locally, made crafty like-minded friends to help with advise and started to really define who I was as a business woman. It has been a great side-income for our family as our son was born in September 2011. It was my dream to be a stay home mom once our son was born and my business made it so I could do that. However, doing both is not always easy. I wish I had been able to "give it a go" more before our son was born because although I am completely home now, most of my time is not my own anymore. This was a lot easier when my son was little and immobile. If you are a momma or have been a toddler for a few minutes, I am sure you know what I mean. 

In the past few months, we have moved to the beautiful North Shore of Boston. It has been a little tricky maintaining our business while moving. Each summer my family goes to a Young Life camp for a month and I normally continue to ship from wherever we are. My husband really loves all the extra boxes in the car, but we make it work. He by the way is incredibly supportive and lets me bounce ideas off of him all the time. Some people have business mentors and that is great, but my husband is so supportive, I feel like with us being able to talk things out, having crafty friends, and reading blogs that have share small business advice, that I do not need a mentor (at least for now!). Running my own handmade business has been challenging at times, but also very rewarding and exciting to think I have built this company on my own and that it allows me to do something I love while still having time to care for me sweet boy (and pay for my Starbucks habit.) I am certainly no expert, but here are a few of my words of wisdom if you are considering selling online that I have learned in my past few years...
  • Stay true to yourself. Frequently, people will suggest new ideas to me. Sometimes they are wonderfully clever ideas, however, I will only make things that I feel like are true to me and things I want to represent myself.
  • Take calculated risks. I invested around $200 initially. I no longer use my family's own money my on my business, but I do use money I have made to continue to propel the business forward. Some great risks that I have taken have been new products, approaching shops, and advertising for a few examples. 
  • If you are selling online, take time to take great pictures. The picture is all people have to go by unless they have seen your product in person so make it a good one. You can use if you do not have photoshop. 
  • Package it pretty. Just because the item may be handmade, does not mean you should look like it. Great packaging kicks up your item up a notch. 
  • Set up boundaries..but know there are seasons were things may be busier, where you may have to have babysitter or order out dinner, etc, but decide how much you are willing to let the business encroach on family time. Some nights it's okay if I spend the evening stamping tags while we watch a tv show on netflix, but this cannot be every night - you get the idea? 
  • You have never arrived. Ouch. This is not meant to be harsh, but I think its just the nature of business if you want to stay in it. Steve Jobs said it better like this: "If you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what's next."

If you are a small business gal too (mmm, person? do men read this blog??), do you have any tips you would share? Also, feel free to contact me with questions or check out my shop (coupon code// emyselfandi for 10% off). thanks for reading!
you can also connect with me around the web...

One Delightful Button

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Guest Post: On Having a Daughter

Finding out I was having a boy was a bit of an "adjustment" to me two years ago; but, today, I can hardly imagine not being a "boy mom."  Today's guest, Emily, felt the same way when she found out her second child would be a little girl... Read on for her honest thoughts about having a daughter and how her heart has changed and grown over the past year. (Little Pearl turns one next week!!)

Why I'm Breaking
I always saw myself as the mother that would end up with all boys.

Coming from a house of all girls (three to be exact), it just seemed like it would be a better "fit" for me ...  Something that I'd be able to keep up with and wholly enjoy.

I guess it all stems from the fact that I've never been very girly ...

Ponytails were always my hairstyle of choice.

Powdering my face with dust from the softball field was more appealing than powdering it with actual make-up.

Skirts and dresses were for church (or funerals).

Batman was way cooler than My Little Pony.

Boys were better left as friends ... And nothing more (a stance I held until I was seventeen).

Being a mother to all boys just made sense, and, after having one of my own, I quickly found that it was very comfortable for me ...

In some ways, even easy.

So, on March 15th of last year, when the doctor announced "it's a little girl!" and placed the newborn baby in my waiting arms, my world was thrown off of its axis.

So much for "all boys!"

But, in retrospect, it hasn't been all that bad (or scary) so far ...

It's sort of funny, but now that I have a daughter, I am seeing myself in a whole different light.  I may have been a tomboy for most of my life, but I truly do have a lot to offer a girl of my own.

Lots of important lessons that I can teach ...

There is strength in "being your own person" and never really following the crowd (even if the crowd consists of a bunch of teenage girls).

A brain and some confidence are so much sexier than a trendy outfit.

It is possible to fulfill multiple obligations (to be mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, working woman, etc.) ...  And to fulfill them well!

Truly, the longer I am greeted by Pearl's smiling face each morning, the more I realize how silly I was to think that raising a girl would be inherently harder than raising a boy.  While I am well aware that the challenges (she's going to be a teenaged girl one day ...) are spread out before me, the most important things remain the same.

Any child of mine will have esteem and self-worth, to know that they are valuable exactly as they are.

Any child of mine will know unconditional love, no matter what trouble (or lack of trouble) they may find themselves in.

Boy or girl, I will be the best mother that I can be.

So, although I didn't expect this life (I wholeheartedly expected Pearl to be a boy), I am so happy that it is mine.

When Pearl arrived, my entire mindset changed (it had to!).  Our family changed, and with it, so did my attitude about "daughters being difficult."

Because she is not just a daughter.

She is my daughter.

And, as we approach her first birthday, I can honestly say that I am proud to be the mother of a little girl.

I am so excited to see where this journey will take us!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guest Post: Midweek Confessions

I love that Katie decided to run with my standard "Confessions" format...  She is adorable, and I always appreciate a healthy dose of REAL.  *I like the last confession best.

Why I'm Breaking

I am Katie and I blog over at Unwritten where I talk about my life, my guy, the amazing things I find on Pinterest, my love for coffee, and lots of other random things.

Since Miss Elizabeth is taking time off from blogging, I thought I would help her out:

Now you all know that E loves doing her Midweek Confessions where she shares with us all the glamorous and not so glamorous parts of her life, so I figured I would do the same.

-I love coffee mugs and want to buy all the cute ones I see.  A few years ago, I found some at Ross that I loved and bought them every time I saw them.  I have even spent a whole Friday night looking at Starbucks mugs on eBay.

-I am obsessed with Bath and Body Works candles.  Every season, I want to buy all the new ones I love.  Especially when they are on sale for 2 for $20.

-I am Twitter challenged.  I catch up on everyone else's tweets but often forget about posting my own.  One of these days I will get the hang of it.

-Baking is my favorite hobby and if I do say so myself, I am pretty good.  However, last weekend I made some coffee cupcakes.  Not only did the frosting not turn out well, the cupcakes came out of the oven looking good, but became HARD once they cooled.  Definitely hurt my ego a little.

- I really didn't know what EVOO was in a recipe until today.  I seriously thought it was a special ingredient.  Alas, I now know it is Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Well I think those are all the confessions I have for today. Head on over to hang out sometime and who knows what other silly/embarrassing stuff may happen :) Thanks for letting me come hang out today!

Do you have anything worth confessing today?  If so, share them below and get to know each other!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Guest Post: On Dressing Boys

OK, I admit it, I kind-of love Sam in his adorable little Baby Gap jeans these days.  BUT, he wore his first pair of jeans after he was a year old, and in the early months, it was quite the challenge to find sweet BABY boy clothes for him. I actually met Sandy, the owner and designer of Room to Romp, after posting this and we became fast friends - she has been the source of MANY cute outfits for Sam and she lives in Clemson!!  I was so excited when she offered to write a guest post for me on dressing boys because I totally consider her an expert in the field.  Hope you boy-moms can appreciate this as much as I do!

Why I'm Breaking

Thanks E for letting me share in this spot while you are away.  Sometimes I feel like I could write a whole blog about dressing little boys, but I know I would not be very good at blogging, so I'm happy for this opportunity to share my thoughts.

I am a mom to tweens, one boy and one girl.  They are very close in age -- like 6 months apart.  I'll just say that adoption is part of the history.  I waited a long time to have children, and I dreamed of everything about it -- hearing those sweet baby sounds, smelling them in the morning, their first taste of rice cereal, rocking them at night, and of course dressing them was something I looked forward to.

My son came first.  I loved those baby blue bubble outfits with smocking that came in newborn through six month sizes, and I bought up all I could find.  When he closed in on the one year mark though, the choices suddenly dwindled to jeans, khakis, and plaid collared shirts.  I still had a BABY who wasn't even walking yet and was still taking a bottle at night.  I just couldn't bring myself to dress him in clothing that my husband might wear.

I scoured very retail source available to me -- online shopping, thrift stores, upscale boutiques, and consignment shops.  I was able to keep him in the clothes I thought were appropriate for a baby/toddler until about four years of age.  No, he wasn't wearing bubbles at this age, but he was wearing gingham shorts and t-shirts with zoo animals.  When both of my children reached about age four, they started telling me what they wanted to wear, and I was fine with that.  I had dressed them as I had wanted while I could.

My son James as a toddler.
I have heard the same story over and over from moms, "I just can't find cute clothes for my son." You know - something without skulls and crossbones, electric guitars, or footballs.  He can't even hold his sippy cup yet.

I think the clothing market has failed little boys in more than just the style it offers.  I think the needs of little boys are overlooked too.  While some may think it is cute to dress little boys just like Dad, there are a few notable differences between dads and toddler boys -- one being that babies/toddlers wear diapers.  Sure, Dad is very capable of unsnapping, unzipping, and dropping his pants to go potty, but I'm not sure Mom finds it that easy during to a diaper change - not to mention how frustrating this can be for the toddler learning to go potty.

Dads can be active, but it's not quite the same as babies learning to crawl, walk, run, and climb.  They need clothes that are as unrestrictive as possible.  Loose fitting, elastic waist pants and rompers meet that need.

After my children were well into their elementary school years, I started sewing exclusively for little boys in 2009 and joined the Etsy world to sell my items.  I'm still full of ideas and motivation for creating clothes for little boys.

When designing clothes, I keep a few things in mind.  The clothing should be comfortable.  I don't want anything too binding around those soft, full bellies, and I think it should allow room to move - as in, "Room to Romp."  I also choose soft, all cotton fabrics that are gentle on a baby's skin.  And, I like clothes that reflect the interests of little boys: traffic signs, vehicles, and animals are often used in my appliques.  Isn't it a wonderful thought that dressing in the morning might be easy because your son is putting on something he actually wants to wear?

By the way, I make appliques the old fashioned way.  They are hand drawn, hand cut, and applied using a basic sewing machine.  I don't use an embroidery machine which is programmed to do the applique for you. I don't think this type of clothing is bad, but it does have a more commercial look to it.

Other good things to know about RtR: I am happy to exchange if sizing is incorrect, I'm available to answer any questions you may have, and if you'd like something in a different color or with a different applique, just ask.  I've done many custom orders for clients.

I hope you'll have a look at the clothes and decorative items I have available just for boys.  If you do find something you'd like to order, I'll pay the shipping.  Use coupon code EMIFREESHIP during checkout.

Thanks for listening, and I would love to hear your thought on dressing boys in the comments.

Room to Romp

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