Instant Pot – <3

The one thing that I’ve decided to do more of in 2017 is to cook!  Now that Toddler M is eating table food full force, I want to make sure she has age appropriate healthy meals.  She loves watching/helping me cook, clean up & goodness does the child love to eat!

Toddler M has a rather diverse pallet at this point.  The only fruit she has turned down is bananas – loved them as a baby, hates them in her toddlerhood.  And so far she hasn’t turned down any veggies.  She’s a huge fan of meat (she is her mother’s child) – any kind of meat or what she perceives as meat. On New Years Eve she had her first taste of ahi tuna and was absolutely in love….so in love that she ate 3 servings.  I tell her all the time she’s got expensive taste. 😉

I had been hearing all these great things about instant pot – it’s quick, easy, you can make a meal in no time, frozen meats are done in 10-15 minutes.  All these things sounded like wins for me, something that would make my life easier so I purchased an instant pot.  I’ve been using it for two months now and I can honestly say I’m IMPRESSED!

Here are some of my favorite Instant Pot recipes AND these are approved by Toddler M:

What’s in your Instant Pot?!

2016 In Review

What was awesome:

  • Baby M grew into Toddler M, she learned to walk, talk & has such a fantastic personality
  • We traveled and traveled and traveled
    • January – Phoenix
    • February – Philadelphia and New Orleans
    • March – Vegas & London
    • April – Hartford & Newport Coast
    • May – Destin
    • June – New York City, London, Cologne, Nerja
    • July – Nerja
    • August – Punta Cana & London
    • September – London & Philadelphia
    • October – Hartford & Ft. Lauderdale
    • November – London
    • December – Cologne, Antwerp, Bruges
  • We found an AWESOME unicorn Austrian au pair
  • We watched our daughter take her first steps
  • We heard our daughter say her first words
  • We welcomed and nurtured new friendships as a couple
  • Toddler M & I successfully made it to 1 full year of breastfeeding!
  • We maxed out our 401K contributions
  • We saved for Toddler M’s future
  • We helped several families in need

Not so awesome:

  • We unfortunately said our final goodbyes to several family members
  • We had an au pair mishap, our second au pair that we thought we screened really well didn’t work out at all. She was an absolute dud, created so much chaos in our family.  Thankfully for us, we landed a rematch au pair who is the unicorn I described above.
  • We didn’t make a decision on baby #2 – saved that for 2017
  • I didn’t run as much as I would have liked

All in all 2016 was a great year.  2017 has started out a little rough, but will hopefully improve.  We’re 2 months in to 2017 and I’m really looking forward to see what 2017 has in store for us.  Hoping that there’s a baby #2 on the way in the next few months.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Working, Pumping & Traveling!

Yep! It’s all possible & you can totally do this!

I spent the first few months of my daughter’s life feeling like I couldn’t get a break. I returned to work when she was 13 weeks old and after that immediately started balancing working, pumping and traveling (both domestically and internationally). It wasn’t so bad once I established my routine; I was basically pumping based on her at home feeding schedule.

I had my moments where I thought to myself why in the world am I doing this?  Number 1 why did I go back to a job and take on a new role that required me to travel upwards of 30%, why did I take on a new job where I had way too many direct reports for one person to manage with the promise that things would get better & most importantly why did I do this to myself knowing that I had a new baby at home?!  I guess I must like challenges! LOL!  I figured out a way to make it work & honestly by 2 weeks in I had my routine down & was a pro.  Here’s how I made it work for me & quite frankly how you can make it work for you:

On a regular work day:

  • Prepare yourself the night before for a workday with scheduled pump breaks – C was responsible for washing all pump parts and putting my pump bag together.  The key things I took to work were my Medela Freestyle pump bag with breast pump, 2 sets of flanges, 4 – 8oz bottles, Munchkin bottle storage bag, 4 Medela cleaning wipes, zip loc bags and an ice brix to keep the milk cold while I was at work.
  • When I returned to work I scheduled meetings in my calendar that corresponded with my daughter’s nursing times at home.  Basically when our au pair was giving her a bottle, I was a busy little bee pumping milk for her at work. If I felt stressed by work I would look at pictures of her while I pumped instead of focusing on work.  Thankfully my job had a separate room for pumping, but when that room was occupied I booked a conference room & pumped there.
  • After each pumping session I would put my flanges inside the zip loc bag, stick the milk back into the little carrying case & put the milk in our shared refrigerator.  Everyone knew I was pumping at that point so no one touched my milk.
  • At the end of my day, I’d take everything home, clean up the parts, transfer milk into bottles for the next day, freeze the extra & then start all over again.

Traveling for the first time was a challenge.  I followed the same process as above once I was at whatever location I was working from; however, I carried quite a few extras with me.

When traveling:

  • Polartech Insulated Cooler – I always carried an insulated cooler to #1 keep my milk contained, but to also have dedicated space for my milk to be carried onto an aircraft.  I have used these insulated coolers from Amazon on 50+ flights domestically and internationally – trust me they are tried and true. I have them in two sizes – small and medium.  Small for short trips (usually domestic 2-3 days) and large for longer trips (usually international 5-7 days).
  • Ice brix – I LOVE these things…they’re basically dry ice replacements.  I traveled for over 12 hours with my icebrix and insulated cooler, milk stayed cold the entire flight and car ride home.
  • Nuk Milk Storage Bags – I switched between brands, first use Kiinde which I loved for when I was at home, then used Avent for traveling, but my favorite for travel was Nuk.  I was able to get all the air out quickly & arrange these pretty close together in the cooler to ensure there was no leakage.

I had no problems during all of my domestic travel.  I carried the TSA regulations with me related to breast milk. There were a few airports that I had to undergo additional screening, but I was upfront about my situation.  Because I carried breast milk on the plane with me, I would check my luggage even though it was carry on size.  When going through security screening, I always notified the TSA officer that I was carrying breast milk and understood if they needed to do additional screening for me or the milk.  In so many cases this was much appreciated and I was thanked more than once for being open about my “situation.”  Generally speaking, the milk went through the security scanner and in some airports (Vegas, Hartford, Miami, San Francisco, and LA) I had to have an additional pat down & a couple of bags had to be put into the screening machine.  There were no issues, no leaking of milk & everything was handled quite delicately.  Most of the time women screened me so they had lots of questions.  When I was screened by men, they were either silent or very talkative explaining that they would share these tips with their wives.

Traveling internationally came with its own set of challenges.  My international travels were countries in Europe & the rule(s) seemed to be the same.  No more than a certain amount if baby was not traveling with you.  On majority of my trips I was traveling alone, so I had to figure out a way to transport milk safely back home to my very hungry M-pillar!  I was generally gone 5-7 days internationally and didn’t have access to a freezer, only to a refrigerator.  So I would post in Human Milk for Human Babies about donating milk for the first few days of my trip & then take home the milk from like Wednesday onwards.  I met/helped several wonderful women whose babies thrived well on donated breast milk.  The night before I was scheduled to fly home, I’d ask my hotel to store the ice brix in their freezer so that they could be frozen by the morning (they would not store milk for health reasons so they say).  In the morning before leaving for the airport I would request my ice brix from the hotel & then ensure all of the milk was flat and sealed.  I’d line them up in a row and then put bubble wrap around them to ensure the milk bags didn’t move around a ton during transport.  After that I’d line the bottom of the cooler with ice brix, put the rows of milk in, put ice brix on top and then put the lid on.  I’d then tape the cooler shut so the top wouldn’t come off.  Last thing I’d do is pack the cooler in my suitcase and secure it with clothes and shoes wedged in to make sure the cooler itself didn’t move around much.  I realize that airlines are not super friendly with luggage, so I took extra care to ensure my milk’s safety! THOU SHALL NOT WASTE LIQUID GOLD! 😉

Some of my trips were longer/harder than others, but I made this all work for me & you can too!

I now know what to expect is baby #2 ever comes along & I’m (still) working, pumping and traveling!

 

 

Baby number 2? 

C and I have been discussing the possibility of a second child. I love M with all of my being. My pregnancy with her was easy(ish) – 1-2 days of nausea in the beginning, but thankfully no vomiting. I was exhausted the first 12 weeks…I’d come home from work and sleep from like 7 PM until 6 AM the next day. Then in the last 6 weeks I was absolutely miserable. Horrible pelvic pain, lightning crotch, baby in weird positions and just very uncomfortable. To think I’d have to do this all over again, but with a toddler and husband who travels – that sounds like pure torture. 

All that said, I really do not want M to be an only child. She deserves the gift of a sibling (maybe birthed by someone else) lol. The questions that come to mind when I think of #2…

  1. Is it possible for me to love another little human as much as I love M?
  2. Am I ready to give up my body again for a whole year or longer if you consider breastfeeding, sleepless nights, night waking etc. 
  3. C & I already have limited time together. I split my love & attention between him and M. Adding another person to that mix scares me to death. 
  4. We love our house and neighborhood…since we have the au pair in our guest room we wouldn’t have a ton of extra space for a second child. 
  5. We both have decent paying jobs, definitely part of the “1%,” but I can see some of the things that I love slowly slipping away from me. Money would be refocused on #2 and less focused on us doing some on the fun things that we enjoy. 

No question..C is sold on #2. This weekend he told me he’s ready to start trying again whenever I am. I don’t know if I’m going to get there. I just feel like I got my body back after 1 full year of breastfeeding. I’d be starting all over…I have no idea if I can handle it. 

What would you do?

Run Life…Fit Mom…Getting My Life Together

Tonight as I sit on my couch with my legs propped up, watching the first episode of Secrets and Lies, I think about how in the world I’m going to be prepared for this half marathon (13.1) that I’m supposed to run in February.  My love for running (and working out) is slowly being rekindled.

My current workout schedule is has me doing some sort of physical activity nearly everyday.  Monday & Wednesday – cardio & strength training, Tuesday & Thursday – short runs and finally Saturday a longer run…generally 5+ miles.  I haven’t really started to look at or think about a training plan, but I guess we’re getting close to the time that I should consider it.  I’m planning to run the Rock-n-Roll 1/2 marathon in New Orleans, LA in February.  I’m super excited, but super nervous.  I haven’t run this distance since way before Baby M was born.  Sadly I still have quite a bit of extra weight on me from Baby M even though it’s been 14 months.  I’m hoping that I’ll be able to drop a pound or 20 when I get serious about my training.

So here’s my commitment to getting my run life together, my commitment to successfully executing a training plan & following a clean diet.  I need yall to keep me honest, keep me motivated & help me reach my goals!

 

 

 

London Calling

I’m in London this week for work. Sadly I have been doing a lot more eating and drinking that I normally would, but I’ve also been doing a ton of walking. 

Check out my steps for the last three days. I guess this happens when you walk everywhere. 

Monday: 

Tuesday:


Wednesday:
I’m feeling pretty good about meeting my step goals this week. It’s actually been nice. Tomorrow I plan to hit the gym before going into the office. 

London is absolutely beautiful. Every time I come here, I am in absolute fan of being outside and taking in different parts of the city. Tower Bridge, not to be confused with London Bridge, is by far one of my favorite sites. I’ll never get tired of that area. Last night we watched the sunset over the River Thames while we enjoyed a nice bottle of wine. 


Enjoy the views! I have a ton of people to meet with tomorrow and I’m dead tired. 

1 Year Postpartum: Work it Out!

I was really hoping to “bounce back” after I had Mia.  It didn’t happen so easily or even the way I would have liked.  Yes, I tried to workout during the first few months that she was born, but I was exhausted.  I was on the verge of tears every time I thought about the fact that I had gained so much weight. I only gained 25 lbs during pregnancy, but my body was holding on to about 15 extra lbs for what I thought was no reason.  Looking back, I’m guessing my body was holding on to that weight to ensure I was able to adequately nourish my baby.

Fast forward, Mia is now 13.5 months old, just yesterday finished up her last package of breastmilk and has been drinking whole milk since around 11.5 months.  We started out mixing breastmilk and whole milk ounce by ounce.  Then one day I said let’s see what happens if I just give her whole milk & she slurped it down like a champ.  She’s easy that way.

Anyways! After we started sleep training, (thank you GOD for all the advice I received from the Precious Little Sleep blog & FB group) I started to get back into my workout routine.  Before Mia (now known as BM), I ran every Tuesday/Thursday & Saturday.  Tuesday/Thursday runs were short – generally 3-4 miles and Saturday was a long run – generally 5-6 or more depending on if was training for a race or just running for exercise.  I find it easier for me to get up in the morning before she wakes up and either hit the treadmill in the basement or run outside with one of the many running groups I’m associated with.  I am still working on establishing a good workout routine, but I must say I’m almost there.  Here’s what it looks like currently:

13.5 months postpartum – my current workout schedule
Monday – 30 minute kettle bell workout
Tuesday – 3 mile run (currently doing 1:30 Run / 1:00 Walk) intervals
Wednesday – Elliptical
Thursday – 3 mile run (currently doing 1:30 Run / 1:00 Walk) intervals
Friday – REEEEEEST which actually equates to run around with toddler
Saturday – 5 mile run (currently doing 1:30 Run / 1:00 Walk) intervals
Sunday – REEEEEST which actually equates to run around with toddler

While I’m sad that it took me almost a year to get back to my fitness routine, I’m happy that I’m getting started.  I’m happy to be back on the pavement with my group.  I’m happy that our jogging stroller has actually been used.  It’s been so hot in Atlanta lately that we’ve not taken Mia out for many runs, but as it cools off she’ll probably become one of my favorite running buddies!

What are you doing to get in shape after baby?

Pumping at Work

Warning!! Long post!

When I returned to work I was so apprehensive about whether or not I would be able to maintain my breastfeeding relationship with my then 3 month old daughter. I had read up on pumping while away, researched the best pumps and supplements to maintain milk production. Turns out my body knew exactly what it was doing to make the right amount of milk to keep my little bundle of joy nourished!

Here are my top 10 tips and links to products that I found so incredibly useful during the 12.5 months that I pumped (both at home and at work).

  1. First and most importantly, talk to your employer upon your return work about pumping and having a dedicated space to pump.  The bathroom should not be suggested as an option, it is a sanitary space to express milk.
  2. “Schedule” your pumping times!  This worked really well for me.  I would pump according to the times that my daughter took a bottle at home.  At three months, I was pumping every 3 hours which meant throughout my workday I had 30 minute recurring meetings scheduled at 9 AM, 12 PM and 3 PM.  We had a reserved room & I would use that room to express milk.
  3. Find milk storage bags that work for you.  I was a big fan of two kinds – first Kiinde mile storage bags and second was Lansinoh. I used Kiinde when I knew that I would be taking the milk home directly and adding it to my “freezer stash” and I used Lansinoh when I was traveling and needed to save space in my carry on milk container.
  4. Hands free pumping is awesome!  I was a huge fan of hands free pumping because sometimes I either had to work or take calls while I was pumping.  It wasn’t often, but often enough for me to know that I needed in some cases to have both of my hands free.  Other times I wanted my hands free to do massage to increase my milk production for that pump.  I love all of Dairy Fairy’s hands free pumping bras.  They have a wide variety, but my favorite (and the most comfortable) was the Arden All-In-One Nursing Bra.
  5. Massage, massage, massage! Looking to maximize milk production during your pump.  Try ‘hands on pumping!’ I was, in some cases, able to produce 1-2 oz more than my normal pump with hands on pumping.  This video helped me tremendously!
  6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  The more fluids you get into your body, the easier it is for you to maintain your milk supply.  I found that on days that I was drinking less water, my milk supply was meh, but on days that I drank lots of water I was a milk machine.  I found that electrolytes did wonders for my milk production so I started out my morning with a large gatorade.  I then sadly realized the error of my ways.  Gatorade had so much sugar and calories, I was sabotaging any potential for postpartum weight loss with the amount of Gatorade I was consuming.  I then switched to drink 2 liters of Smartwater while I was in the office – worked like a charm.  If you’re a member of Costco, they have Smartwater (both sparkling & still) by the case.
  7. Keeping milk cold was a big deal for me, specifically because a few times during my pumping months I had to travel & I didn’t want my milk to spoil while I was away from my daughter.  I could probably dedicate a whole post to traveling while nursing/pumping.  Long story short, I found that I needed a few things to help make traveling with breast milk easier.  I used an insulated styrofoam cooler and dry ice replacement.  All things that can be purchased from Amazon & boy were they lifesavers.
  8. Lactation bites were my BFF.  I loved making myself lactation bites, they were so tasty & gave me the extra little boost that I sometimes needed (especially around month 10 when I started to have my period again).
  9. Keep an extra set of pump parts at work – this will save you the headache of always having to remember to bring pump parts with you.
  10. Clean pump parts with pump cleaning wipes in between pumps.  Typically I pumped, stuck my parts into a large zip lock bag & put them in the refrigerator.  Keeping them cold means not having to sterilize until end of day.

The one thing that is incredibly important is that you don’t stress yourself too much.  Trust your body, I promise you that it knows what to do once you get a nursing / pumping routine established!  If you see a drop in your supply, don’t immediately assume that your nursing relationship is ending.  Make sure you stay hydrated and try not to stress!

Pump on mamas!

I’m baaaaack!

So life got in the way and I didn’t take care of my blog. It’s amazing how the first year of motherhood can really turn your world upside down. 

I’m back though! I have lots of topics I want to cover over the next few weeks so stay tuned! 

Here’s a sweet baby pic of the little bookworm to keep you going! 

6 Months Old

Boy has time flown by and so it seems that I’ve taken a blogging hiatus. 4 months have gone by and I’ve not written one post. So what has happened?!

Well Baby M has started rolling from front to back and back to front. She is fully sitting on her own now. She still enjoys mommy’s milk, but is starting on solids! Baby M is not yet crawling, but she’s definitely trying and scooting!

We have spent the last two weeks in Arizona for my job. Thankfully Baby M and our au pair traveled with me and we were able to score a 2 bedroom apartment for our 2 week stay! Baby M did so well on the 4 hour flights back and forth. I was quite proud and other passengers commented on how well she did. Guess she got the traveling bug honestly! 

During our two week stay in Arizona, the au pair and Baby M got to enjoy the awesome weather, visit the zoo, teach several German classes & hike in the desert. 

What have you been up to??