Breastfeeding Past 1 Year

I always knew that I was going to breastfeed. I was completely determined, which was a good thing because it's not always easy, but it's definitely worth it. When I was a baby, my mom breastfed me, and I self-weaned at 10 months. So, I figured that I would probably be breastfeeding my own daughter about that long...so that was my goal.

As it goes with parenting, though, best laid plans go awry, and goal posts are constantly being moved. This is how I found it with breastfeeding: the 10 month mark came and went and my gal was showing no signs of slowing down. Since I found breastfeeding to not only be quite convenient, but also bonding, I felt no reason to slow down, either.

This image of us breastfeeding was also shared on
Take Back Postpartum,
     which seeks to normalize a diversity of postpartum 
        experiences and help women love their bodies.   
And now here we are: my daughter is 15 months and we are still going strong!! I'm very proud. But there are lots of things about breastfeeding after 1 year that are different from newborns and infants, so I figured, hey, I'd share my experience so that others could relate, commiserate, or maybe even get some answers.

Let's talk facts
The worldwide average for weaning is 4 years old. I know lots of moms who breastfed as long. So there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding until you and/or your baby is ready to stop. It's a personal decision. But breastmilk continually changes to give your growing tike the nutrients and immunities they need. Don't EVER let someone tell you that "if they can ask for it, they are too old." First of all, it's no one's business, and secondly, it's just plain false. Breastfeeding is the gift that keeps on giving. I've continued to lose weight and feel amazing, and I know I am nourishing my daughter.

I also find it to be the best (most effective) comfort for upset feelings, boo-boos, nap time, and bedtime. While my daughter doesn't breastfeed as much during the day at this point, she does enjoy touching base with me throughout the day and leaning in for some quick milk. And, despite still breastfeeding like a champion, she's also quite a terrific eater. She eats three solid meals a day, and sometimes a snack.


Let's talk teeth & tweaking
Ugh. The biting. It happens. It's not quite as bad as it sounds (surprisingly), but requires swift intervention. The thing that I have found the most helpful is when she bites (which, I'm sorry to say can sometimes be on purpose), is that I put her down and say "I guess you're not hungry." And it upsets her, and so she stops. I have also found the biting thing waxes and wanes. I'll have a couple weeks where she gives me trouble with it, and then she stops for a couple months.

Another annoyance can be nipple tweaking. OUCH! I am slowly breaking my daughter of this habit. I was interested to learn that the tweaking thing actually serves a purpose; it stimulates letdown in the breast they are eating out of. Ah, nature, sometimes you are a devil! Haha. Of course, it's not comfortable, so I don't encourage the behavior. You can help break it by holding your baby's hand, or offering them a blanket to twist instead.

Jokes!
I was surprised to learn that my toddler JOKES with me while breastfeeding which is sooooo funny. She'll take my nipple and say "nom nom nom" like she's eating food. It's hilarious! These little moments between us are so sweet, and I know that someday they will gone. With her getting older, there is no telling when she'll be ready, so I just enjoy the little things while I can!

It eases worry 
There are times when my daughter doesn't want to eat table food because maybe she's sick or teething  or whatever. When this happens, I find that breastfeeding eases my worry because I know that her nutritional needs are being met--what a relief!

She's a pro and so am I 
At this point, we are both breastfeeding pros. I remember in the beginning, I had to think about what to wear for easy access, or I would cautiously look around in public. Now? I hardly think about what I wear, or how to nurse in public. We are both good on the go, at home, and just about anywhere in between! We've hit a sweet spot.




So what has your experience been like breastfeeding your older baby? Please feel free to share in the comments section below! 

Hello 30!

Today, I am 30 years old. While some people might be wallowing or lamenting, I'm super excited. I have always wanted to be 30. For me, it seems like an age that has experience behind it, and I suppose I always thought that when I got here, I would be considered an adult. I don't know if I particularly feel like an adult or not--in fact, sometimes I feel 16!--but nonetheless, I am really happy to be here.

I was going to write a post that 30 focused...something about things you should've done by 30, or thing you should be over by 30, or whatever. But the truth is, in my now 30 years of experience, the whole "shoulds" and "maturity" things can be highly overrated. And while I enjoy being my bossy self, I don't want to tell anyone what they should be doing.

So instead, I'd like to tell you about 30 things I've done in my 30 years. Maybe you can relate, and maybe you can't, but it's my blog and my birthday, and I'm in a sharing mood. So...here we gooooooo!

1. Traveled to Europe with my mom.
2. Breastfed my baby for over a year (WOOOO! Go us!)
3. Been with my husband for 12 years--married for five!
4. Had a natural childbirth experience.
5. Seen over 100 concerts in 3 countries (35 of which were Phish shows).
6. Auditioned for the local TV station....twice.
7. Not been given the job by the local TV station...twice.
8. Traveled to Europe with my best friend.
9. Failed...more than once. (Always a good learning experience!)
10. Been a massage therapist.
11. Been an office manager.
12. Worked for myself as a writer.
13. Been a stay at home mom (maybe my favorite job so far!)
14. Self published a novella. (Careful, it's awfully STEAMY!)
15. Made my own mayonnaise.
16. Developed a lactose intolerance later in life...boo!
17. Had shingles (I totally don't recommend this one!)
18. Given up dairy, and actually liked it.
19. Been in several stage productions, including my dream role as Juliet.
20. Owned chickens for the past couple of years.
21. Canned with my mother and mother-in-law, learning a ton about preserving food!
22. Learned how to let go, whether it's in friendships, or love, or family.
23. Had my own podcast--which was so fun, and something I hope to do again soon!
24. Learned new depths of love as I walk down the road of life, both in marriage and family.
25. Lived in the city, and in the country. (Country suits me best!)
26. Slept under the stars.
27. Stayed up all night so many times that I no longer feel the need.
28. Had a lot of great pet over the years, and fostered a healthy love of animals.
29. Lived with lots of interesting roommates! (Just typing that made me smile!)
30. Made lifelong friends, and formed a community of friends and family who make my life so incredibly rich, I know that I am lucky lucky LUCKY!

As I look at my list, I am so happy to have had all these experiences. I am so incredibly grateful for the things I have had, and the great things coming in my future. I love a quote I once heard--and you've probably seen it floating around the Internet-- "Do no regret getting older, it is a privilege denied to many." I like it because it helps keeps impermanence in perspective.

Also, one more thing...ever since I had my daughter, I understand the importance of my birthday for my own mother. So, I also want to say THANK YOU to my mom--for all her hard work bringing me earthside. I love being alive, and I love sharing this life's journey with her. So happy birthday TO ME and MY MOM. I hope you all have a great day today, and every day! 

BLT {Inspired} Flatbread Recipe

I like things that sound hard, but are really very easy. Like making your own flatbread from scratch. It sounds like it would be time consuming, but really, it's so simple. Like, you can make it when you are chasing after a one year old simple. I appreciate that kind of simple, don't you?

I have been positively obsessed with this flatbread for about four months. As in: I make this every week. I originally found the flatbread recipe on Pinterest, which you all should know by now is like my favorite place to get new recipes. So. Many. Pictures!

I've tweaked the recipe over time, and now it's all mine. It's my answer to pizza, which, since giving up dairy, I miss so very much. Now, I barely remember that I miss it because this flatbread is the best ever.


Also worth the mention, you can make the dough a couple of days ahead and let it hang out in the refrigerator. Isn't that awesome? In addition to that, this is also one of my 15-month-old daughter's favorite dinners. I make her a smaller, individual flatbread and she goes to town on it!

Now, obviously you can top your flatbread however you want to. My topping combo is mostly just a suggestion. So I'm mostly writing this post so that you can get in on this awesomely awesome flatbread recipe. Good anytime of the year with a variety of topping, your tastebuds and family will thank you for making this!

BLT {Inspired} Flatbread Recipe 

Time: Active: 15 minutes Inactive: 2 hrs | Makes 4 Flatbreads | Difficulty: Easy (ish) 

You Will Need: 

Flatbread: 
2 teaspoons sugar 
2 teaspoons yeast 
1 cup of hot water 
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour 

cornmeal for dusting

Toppings: 

4 (ish) tablespoons mayo 
2 cloves garlic 
8 slices of bacon, sliced up into pieces  
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half 
Fresh basil, chopped 
Blue cheese (optional)
Avocado, sliced 

Method

In a small bowl (or mason jar), mix your sugar and yeast. Add the hot water, and stir. Allow it to sit for five minutes until it forms a foamy "head." 

In a medium bowl (I like to use my glass bowl that has a lid) place your flour. Add the foamy yeast water to the flour and mix with your hands until a dough is formed. Knead the dough to come together, but don't over mix. When it's a good ball of dough, cover and allow it to rise for 1 hour. 

When it's risen for the hour, punch it down and knead a bit. At this point, you can divide it into four equal balls, or you can do that later, your choice. Cover again and allow it rise until you are ready to use it. If you are making this ahead, you can also put it in the refrigerator at this point for up to two days! 

When you are ready to bake it: 
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Flour your hands and surface. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin and place on a cornmeal dusted sheet pan. 

To top: 
I like to make a pseudo-garlic aioli by mixing the mayo and garlic. Divide it amongst the flatbreads, spreading evenly. Then go ahead and top your flatbreads however you like best; again, these are just suggestions and I like a variety of flatbread toppings (like bbq sauce, chicken and onions!).

Then, throw these suckers in the oven and bake about 15 minutes.

Serve with a salad, glass of wine, and eat in the company of those you love! 

When Being a SAHM is the Pits

I love being at home with my daughter. It's awesome watching her grow and learn new things, and I cherish the time we spend together....mostly. Like anything in life, it has it's downsides. Some very specific downsides. Here are a few times when it downright sucks to be at home with a kid.

On a rainy day
OH MY GAWD. Just let us out! Some days when it's just too rainy to go outside (but still warm) I find myself climbing the walls and searching Pinterest for "rainy ay activities." Thank god for nap time, or I might lose my mind, which brings me to...

The day they don't nap
Even the best of sleepers has their moments. And when those moments come, I find myself terribly stressed. Nap time is my only break time. Well, I should say for me they aren't even really breaks, they are the times when I am available for working. So when she doesn't sleep, I don't work, and then I am stressed. By afternoon, I am feeling all kinds of crazy.

The day they don't want to be put down, like, at all.
These days I just wish I could get a memo that went something like, "Today you will not be allowed to put me down, at all." I would be better able to cope in that case. But these days come without warning and it's most likely to be on the days when you least expect it. By the time my husband walks through the door, I am practically throwing my kid at him. Though I have to say that on these days, I sometimes am able to find a touch of grace and remember that someday she won't want me to pick her up, and I hold her extra close.

When you are sick
This is my number one hate hate HATE being at home moment. There are no sick days for mom. None. Even when I am sick enough that I have to call over help, I find it so difficult to take the rest I actually need. I don't know why, exactly, but I guess it's in my DNA. For this reason, it takes me so much longer to recover, making the cycle go on for longer than I would like. It's the freaking worst.

When your husband needs alone time 
They need it...because they work and do a host of other fatherly duties that are essential to the function of the family. So I understand the logic between "hey I need a day" or even a weekend, away from the family to recharge. But....BUT! That doesn't make it easier on mom. As if we don't already work overtime on the regular, now you want me to pull an extra day--alone?! Sometimes it can be a breeze, and other weeks? Oh man, look out!

All in all, I love being a stay at homer. It's great...except when it's not. I read this saying once "the days are long but the years are short." Ain't that the truth. But if you are having a day that finds you on the ropes, just know we all have them and, yes, it sucks donkey balls.


Chickpea Summer Salad Recipe

"Never complain, never explain" 

<<this quote has been attributed to Katherine Hepburn, Benjamin Disraeli and Henry Ford, but since [apparently] none of them explain, we don't know who actually said it>>


How can I explain the lack of cooking posts on my formerly VERY cooking-centric blog? Well, maybe I shouldn't even try....All I can tell you is that I have, in fact been cooking. I've been cooking quite a lot and every time I think to myself, "I should put this on my blog!" 

But I don't. Mostly because I never have a camera handy. Sometimes you just gotta grab your camera phone and snap one and say "to hell" with picture quality. I guess. It's hard for me because I am recovering perfectionist. 

However, the other day, I made this salad, and I thought, "OH YES! Gotta share this one." So grab my phone I did. 

This summer salad is my new favorite. 

As many of you know, I've been on a journey since my daughter was born: a nondairy journey. At first, she couldn't tolerate the presence of dairy in my breastmilk. Then, I just liked having a nondairy diet. Now, it seems that through cutting out dairy I've developed a lactose intolerance. I have not come to grips with this fact totally and sometimes I wade in the dairy water, only to be sorry about it later. Very sorry, in fact. 

Anyway, this recipe is dairy free. But fabulous. And healthy. And light. And summery. 

Chickpea Summer Salad Recipe 

Time: 10 minutes | Serves: 4 | Difficulty: Easy 

You Will Need:

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced 
2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained 
olive oil
balsamic vinegar 
salt and pepper to taste 

Method:

Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl. 

For adding the dressing ingredients: Circle the bowl once with the olive oil. Add a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (less or more to taste--remembering you can always add more, but you can't add less!) 

Add in your salt and pepper. 

I like to let mine sit in the fridge a couple hours to get nice and cold and marinate. You can make it up to a day ahead and it'll be delicious! 

Manga! 


Dear Parents: Don't Drink The Kool-Aid

Dear Parents of America,

Hi. I've joined your ranks-- been here just over a year. In my time, I've noticed a few things that have grown me for a loop, prompting this here letter. You see, in America, I've noticed that we tend to worship at the altar of children, and to be honest, it's starting to scare me a little bit.

When I was a child, things were different. It's not that they were necessarily better, but they were different. You used to be able to do things like get in playground fights without being considered a terrorist, and we weren't all expected to be prodigies who excelled upon exit from the womb. We didn't have antibiotics in our chicken, and when I got my report card in elementary school "O" was a grade (for "outstanding," and it was above an A). We couldn't talk on the telephone during a lightening storm because you could get electrocuted. Through the phone.

Today, things are a little different for children. They graduate from preschool, kindergarten, fifth and eighth grades as well as high school and possibly college. Everyone gets a trophy at field day, and they are all packing organic bento boxes for lunch at school. They have cell phones and FaceBook and whatever other social media crap is coming down the pike that we'll have to learn about next. My how the times have changed...

In many ways today's kids are going to grow up with a lot more than we had, for example, the Internet, the instant connection to global society, and to be sure, they are going to be a hell of a lot more technologically savvy than we ever were. I already see how children of today are less racist, more tolerant, and generally more accepting of all types of lifestyles than anyone I've ever met. And that's all very cool.

But in a world that is so rapidly becoming global, are they going to have the skills to participate in the ways that will be asked of them? And what I mean by this is: we've gone overboard, and we're staggeringly close to the brink of disaster.

My generation is the first of it's kind. Many of our households had two parents who worked with few exceptions. So when you think about it, we're a generation of children who were raised by nannies, teachers, coaches, and other care providers during the day while our parents worked to make ends meet. This seems to have stricken a nerve somewhere deep in our parenting psyches because today, I see many stay a home parents of both genders, and lots of parents who want to be highly involved in their children's lives. This is a good thing.

Until it isn't.

Helicopter parenting is a real thing. And the inclination to over parent seems to be taking the reigns. Reason be damned, we seem to simply be unable to stop ourselves. It starts slowly with things like video monitors for our children...we feel like it gives us peace of mind, being able to see them--to know precisely what they are doing and when--and the next thing you know, you're terrified to let them out of your sight. Afraid to let them fall. Afraid to let them learn that it's okay when they didn't get a trophy at field day. Afraid to tell them that, no, "graduating" from fifth grade is simply expected of them and a part of getting older.

The thing is, children don't need parents--even awesome stay at home parents-- to hoover over them. They don't need to be sheltered from every disappointment or hardship that comes their way. They need someone who is there to put the bandaid and neosporin on when the cut occurs. What they need is someone strong enough to be there and help them sort through those things and make good decisions. They need to know that they can do it, not someone to to do it for them.

Children are wonderful. They can bring us moments that take our breath away. But they also need space. They don't need to be worshiped and coddled to the point of incapacitation.

Parents: don't drink the Kool-Aid.

Don't believe that you have to do everything for you kid. Don't hoover. Let them be kids and make mistakes and learn through experience. It's not our job as parents to manufacture every moment for them...even if it is our evolving instinct. Keep in mind that you are doing something important: you're raising the future leaders of our world. Parenting isn't about being comfortable all the time, or keeping your kid happy. It's about getting in there and making tough decisions, and sometimes helping your child learn hard lessons.

Now get out there, and live your own life. Your child will thank you.

Most Sincerely Yours,



I'm Not Afraid Of An Unhappy Child

When my daughter was a tiny baby and she cried, I was very attentive. When infants cry, they need something, which was usually food or just being held close (at least for my daughter.) I was not a proponent of "cry it out"--not that there is anything wrong with it, it just wasn't for me.

But those days of having an infant are gone now. My daughter is over a year old and firmly planted in the "toddler" stage. She doesn't cry because she needs something (generally speaking), she cries because she wants something. And that's a whole other can of worms because "want" and "need" are two totally different things.

If you're a regular follower of my blog, then you know that I didn't read a lot of parenting books. To be exact, I've read exactly one, Bringing Up Bebe, which I totally loved. The author talks about how always soothing a child can basically lead to them suffering later on in life. They have to learn that things aren't always going to go their way, and it starts sooner than a parent might think.

For instance, here's a list of reasons why my daughter has cried in the last week...

I closed the refrigerator
I closed the dishwasher
I put up a baby gate
We got out of the pool (after 40 minutes--the nerve!)
She was done eating and we didn't immediately process her request to get out of her seat
I refused to let her chew on any number of inedible items
I put her in a carseat

...you beginning to see what I mean? Toddler cry because they are expressing themselves. Because they are downright pissed. And it's cool. But that doesn't mean I have to feed into the meltdown of the moment.

I'm just not afraid of having an unhappy child. This doesn't mean I'm cold, or unfeeling. I often say something like, "I'm sorry that you can't have what you want." I do try to redirect. But sometimes, I just let her sit there and cry over the refrigerator door being closed and allow her to feel out her upset. It rarely lasts long, and before you know it, she's doing the next crazy toddler thing.

I find that others are quick to try and soothe my daughter when they are around...but I often discourage it. Just because I'm social doesn't mean I need other people to parent for me. If she's gonna melt down, sometimes I am going to let her because it's a part of my parenting philosophy. She has to learn that sometimes there are disappointments, and she is fully capable of getting over them. And I find she truly IS capable of getting over it most of the time. Yes, there are always exceptions, even for me. I figure, I make the rules, so if I feel the need to break them, I will.

At the end of the day, I have to take a long view. I'm aiming for a highly functional adult here, not a momentarily soothed toddler. So a few tears are shed. I think it'll ultimately make her a better person. I find that helicopter parenting and over soothing are a real problem. And children today are so freaking coddled, it makes me sick.

Yes, kids are cute, and brilliant; none more so than your very own. But do the world a favor and stop acting like they need to constantly be happy because it's not realistic. Sometimes you gotta cry. Being a parent is not about always being liked. Sometimes you gotta do the dirty work of helping your child build character. At least that's my take on it.

And it's why I'm not afraid of having an unhappy child--at least a little bit.