Simple Kids: An honest feeding story

I can't believe it has taken me over four years to write this post. Every time I would sit down to type it, I would hesitate as self-doubt entered my mind as I'm not the first mother out there, feeding a newborn baby or two.

We have all heard the "Breast is the best" mantra, seen the shaking of heads behind the backs of bottle feeding mothers, and then watched the scolding looks of others when a new mom would nurse in public. Without a doubt, my thoughts continued, do we really need another post on this? Then I realized, no matter which road we as moms take, there will always be an opinion about it. And even though I sought all the advice possible, reading as much about this topic as I could before my daughter arrived, I found that each experience is unique and we may always benefit from having one more to read about.  And I'm not posting this to persuade you that what you are doing is anything but fine, rather, I'm sharing this because I hope that you will find some encouragement here. So here I am, typing away.

Before my oldest was born, I already decided I was going to nurse. To me, the decision was a natural one, brought on by tradition and watching my own mother nurse my younger siblings. In the first days of breastfeeding, the physical and emotional transformation was mind-blowing. My breasts were so engorged and burning hot - nothing could have prepared me for this. My nipples were sore, my throat ever so thirsty. E wouldn't latch on right, and only suckled lightly. She was less than a day old, and already the afternoon nurse suggested supplementing. Here I was, a first-time mother, who somehow imagined that nursing was so ingrained in a mother-child bond that we would magically find our way to it the minute my daughter was born. I was in tears.

I sought advice from experienced friends. I called the lactation consultant, a very straight forward Eastern European lady, who walked up briskly to my bedside, reaching for my burning breast with her ice-cold hands, Just to find out, she still wouldn't latch on right. Finally, though, with the help of a plastic shield, I was able to feed my daughter as best as I could.

During the next few weeks at home, we continued our shield nursing regiment. There were days when I still tried to wrap my head around the fact that my ever so small boobs could produce enough liquid gold to feed and nourish a tiny human being. And every time the milk would flow while nursing her and later my son, a wave of calm washed over me. Those were the days I thought of nursing as my secret weapon, my own personal drug.

I cherished the moments when both my babies would reach up and play with my hair while nursing, feeling my face as if ingraining my features with their hands. My son was also very particular about where he wanted my free hand to be placed. These are the moments I love and will always be carefully stored in my imaginary Mommy files.

And then there were days when I felt that breastfeeding was more of a burden. My impending return back to work hung over my head like a dark cloud. I had to begin pumping and build my freezer supply. Those were the days I cried, strapped to this humanless machine, feeling more like a cow being milked than a mother to a human baby. I cried when I barely filled a bottle. I feared I was failing my daughter before giving us a chance. I cried because leaving her with a sitter required planning, more pumping and returning home to her with aching breasts leaking milk. But I continued to take my prenatal vitamins (like these), drank my liquids and faithfully pumped as much as my body would produce for the next months.

Eventually, I introduced formula to her. In a combination of weaning and drying up, we stopped nursing altogether at ten months. And you know what? As much as a blessing it was to nurse her, it turned out just fine once we transitioned to formula. If I could give my first-time-mom-self any advice, I would tell her to relax and know that it is going to be okay. Whichever way works out, my child and yours will receive the nourishment they need to grow and flourish.

With my son, I was very blessed to nourish him full time until six months, and then continue until we weaned just last month at 17 months. His experience seemed like an all around easier one, but maybe, just maybe I had already learned the little tidbit of information that if for whatever reason I couldn't nurse, I knew I had a good formula, like the Honest company's Organic Premium Infant Formula to fall back on, providing premium organic nutrition while also being gentle on the tummy. If you want to learn more or read some touching stories, go to the Honest Facebook page.

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This post was encouraged but not sponsored by the Honest Company. 


Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

It is no secret that I like to do things the simple and natural way. A couple from church keeps chickens that produce eggs in the most beautiful natural shades and shapes, and every so often they bring us a dozen or two as a thank you when JC helps out with their cars (thanks, y'all). 

To celebrate the season of eggs, I decided to dye some today, naturally. So, in case you're on the hunt for a last minute and easy easter egg activity, here is an idea that is about as easy as chopping up some vegetables. 

Begin with the fruits, vegetables or spices of your choice - mine were blueberries, red onion skins, yellow onion skins, turmeric, and paprika. But I've also used red cabbage before with beautiful results. About one cup of fruits and vegetables per one cup of water, 2 TBSP of spices per one cup of water.

Mash the blueberries and skin the onions, place each in a pot and simmer roughly 15 minutes. If using cabbage, chop the cabbage. For the spices, boil the water and pour over the spices. 

While the dye is simmering, go ahead and hard boil your eggs. I used a dozen plus two for our project today.

Strain the fruits and vegetables, and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled down, add 3 TBSP of vinegar to the dye (2 for the spices) to help set the color. 

Submerge the eggs and let them sit in the dye until the desired color is reached. Roughly 10 minutes, but some might take up to 3 hours or longer. I highly recommend using white eggs. Brown eggs work, but your colors will turn out different. 

The beautiful thing about this project is it's almost completely waste-free. Just keep your vegetable peels from dinner, hunt down the spices in your cabinet and you're all set to go. 

Live loved!


Simple Foods: Sweet Potato, Red Lentil and Coconut Soup Recipe

After spending most of this winter snuggled up inside in front of the fireplace, book in one hand, hot chocolate in the other, we are two weeks into Spring now and ready to face the warmer season of the year.

And what a season it will be.

Some of you already know, but I've kept it pretty quiet overall - we are adding on to our family, god-willing,  this summer.

And where long and cold days beg for warming winter soups, they are also a fine way to help cope with those early miserable days and weeks of baby growing. So we ate them, lots of them. Taco soup, chicken noodle soup, roasted red pepper soup, butternut squash and carrot soup, you name it we had it.

So if you're a soup person like me, here's an easy recipe for you adapted from here:

Red Lentil, Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

2-3 medium sized sweet potatoes
2 red onions
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 fresh red chili
1/2 bunch fresh coriander (optional - our family is not a big Coriander fan)
125g red lentils
1 L vegetable stock, heated
1 can light coconut milk (400ml)
1 lemon

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2.Peel and dice sweet potato in 1 inch thick chunks, peel and cut onions into 1 inch thick wedges. (I had baked sweet potato left over from a previous dinner and used them instead of roasting fresh ones)
3. Place vegetables on a roasting tray in one layer, sprinkle with cumin seeds, coriander, salt and fresh pepper. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes - since I had already cooked sweet potatoes, I just peeled them and roasted the onion in a pan.
4. Peel and finely slice garlic, followed by finely slicing the chili. If using, pick coriander leaves and set aside, finely slice the stalks.
5. In a large saucepan, on medium-low, heat about a tablespoon or two of oil. Saute the garlic, chili, and coriander stalks until lightly golden.
6. Add the red lentils to the pan, stir to coat well. Stir in the heated vegetable stock and coconut milk.
7. Increase the heat and gently boil, reduce to a simmer and cook lentils for about 20 minutes.
8. Once the vegetables are ready, carefully add to the saucepan, together with most of the coriander leaves.

If you have a submersion blender, blend the soup to desired thickness. I recently minimized ours, thus I transferred most of the soup to the blender and (carefully!) blended until smooth. A few pieces were left un-blended for some chewiness.
Another option is to just mash your vegetables with a wood spoon as desired. It's your soup, prepare it the way you like it :)

9. Lastly, squeeze in some fresh lemon juice and season to taste.


This soup is also on my list for nursing friendly soups. More on that topic very soon y'all!

Live Loved!

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