Monday, June 30, 2014

The Question

"Are you breastfeeding?" I've come to hate that question. It's so personal, so intrusive I feel. Which is weird for me to say because I tend to over share with everything else in my life. My life is pretty much an open book. But not with that question, it's an issue so sensitive to me and it comes with a lot of baggage.

I particularly hate that question now with Cora because it's confusing. With E, the answer was easy, "No." You can read more about that HERE. But it didn't come out that easy. The "No" was said with shame and guilt. I can still remember answering that question when E was first born. Sometimes I would launch into the explanation of why. Mostly though I would just avoid eye contact while responding, then I'd quickly change the subject. See, lots of baggage.

With Cora, I don't know how to answer. I don't know what to call the way I feed her. I'm not breastfeeding her but she's not on formula either like E was. I pump and feed Cora breast milk in a bottle. Then I pump and pump some more. I've become very acquainted with my breast pump. Thankfully, my milk supply (so far) is plentiful this time and I'm able to provide Cora with just enough milk and don't need to supplement with formula. It seems my body is just not physically made for nursing a baby. Even with all the nipple shields, latch assists, and laction consultant visits, it just does not seem to work. This system is a good compromise for now. I'm feeding Cora my milk which I so desperately wanted to do for E, but I'm still missing out on the nursing experience which is something that will always pain me.

So that's where the confusion comes in when answering, "Are you breastfeeding?" I guess my answer is that I'm just feeding my baby in a way that works for us. I wish I could answer that question with more convction and confidence. Maybe someday when I'm done mourning over my breastfeeding experience, or lack there of, I'll be able to let go of the guilt and all the baggage the comes with the question,  "Are you breastfeeding?"

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Friday Five

Here's what I'm loving this week:

1. 10 Days in Iowa
Last Thursday, we packed up the car and kids and headed to Iowa for 10 days. We spent most of our time at my mom and dad's and will end the trip in Des Moines.

We've had a great time relaxing at the farm and spending time with family. We hit up the local pool and park and Mike talked me into Chuck E Cheese which I must admit, was pretty fun for E. I've also enjoyed eating at some of my favorite local restaurants; The OP, Sub City, and The Brown Bottle.
Our car packed up for the trip. 
Driving tractor.
Driving a bigger tractor.
Pool time.
Mornings on the porch. 
Beautiful sunset on the farm
Chuck E Cheese

2. A Wedding
My dear friend Kate got married this past Saturday.  She was a beautiful bride and the wedding was gorgeous.  I was so happy I could celebrate with her and see some of my favorite ladies. Congrats to Kate and her hubby Ryan!

The beautiful bride. 
The Simpson girls. They are all simply the best!
My handsome date.

3. Grandmas
I love seeing my mom with E and Cora. It's fun to see her in the Grandma role. Grandmas are so special and I'm fortunate my kids have two grandmas that love them so much just like I did growing up.

Unfortunately, my almost 97 year old grandma went in the hospital this week. Fortunately, I was in Iowa so I could spend time visiting her. I went almost everyday with my mom and Cora to see her. Mike and E came a few days too. At my grandma's age, the body just gets worn out but Grandma keeps bouncing back. She actually gets to go home today!

I'm glad I got to spend time this week visiting with her. I have so many fond memories from my childhood of Grandma. She was the one that let me play on my swing set instead of working in the garden.

I'm also happy she got to meet Cora and see more of E. Although E is only two, I hope he will have some memory of her because she is one special lady.

4. ReDuce Water Bottles
My mom got these reusable water bottles from Amazon and I just love them. I may have to steal one for the trip back to Minnesota. We'd fill them up each night and they'd be ready to grab as we headed out for the day. I usually have a Nalgene with me but it's so big.  These fit perfectly in the diaper bag and the car cup holders, plus they are super cute. I drink a lot of water so I do find myself refilling it quite frequently but I still find them very convenient.

5. "How to Win at Parenting"
I came across this blog post and it made me laugh because I totally get what the author is talking about. It's sad but true. I've mentally added up my parenting wins against my saintly husband and of course I think I win but in the big picture, I couldn't really win without Mike's help. We truly are a team when it comes to parenting. When I showed Mike this article, he just rolled his eyes. He's use to my little quirks.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Friday Five

Here's what I'm loving this week.

1. Story Time
The St. Louis Park library had a special story time this week. The theme was trucks so of course we had to go. After several truck themed stories and songs, the real fun began. In the parking lot was a snow plow, fire truck and police car. E waited in line for each vehicle to take his turn sitting in the driver's seat.

It's amazing at how much kids go crazy for these vehicles.  I don't remember being so enamored with dump trucks and fire trucks when I was a kid but they were all in heaven.

2. Minnehaha Falls
We spent a morning at Minnehaha Falls. I had never actually seen the falls before and they were gorgeous. We stopped at the park to play then we came across a wading pool. We read about the wading pool but didn't know what to expect.  It was great, zero depth entry and went about two feet deep and there was a huge fountain in the middle. Thank goodness we packed E's swim trunks and we always travel with a shovel and bucket, you never know what you'll find.  E  was a little fish, barely coming out to have a quick snack.  I eventually had to drag him out. His lips were turning blue.

The falls.
We found the wading pool!
Cora at the pool.

3. Mike cooked dinner
Yes he did! Cucumber tomato salad with cilantro, grilled peppers and mushrooms and steak. It was delicious. And he did the clean up as well.

4. Father's Day
Mike requested waffles for his Father's Day breakfast and then we went to church. Afterwards, we went to Snuffy's Malt shop for burgers and of course a malt. Mike even got some time with his buddies Sunday night watching the NBA game.

The extensive malt list.

E went for a strawberry sundae. 

Happy Father's Day.

5. Stone Arch Bridge Festival
This festival is right along St. Anthony Main which is a gorgeous area right on the Mississippi. There are great restaurants, walking trails, and of course the Stone Arch Bridge. It's probably one of my favorite areas in the city.

The festival is geared towards the arts with various booths set up along the river. There's the standard festival food vendors as well and a beer garden with live music. Unfortunately,  the weather did not corporate and it was cold and rainy. We waited until evening to go hoping it would clear up. No such luck, we still walked around and had a beer in the beer tent waiting for the live music.  That was canceled because of the weather so we threw in the towel and grabbed dinner at Pracna, one of the restaurants on St. Anthony Main.

View of downtown Minneapolis and Stone Arch Bridge 

Mom and Cora in the beer tent.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sandbox Art

I'm pretty proud of myself for thinking to do this project with E. I'm not good at coming up with art projects or even executing ones found on Pinterest. But I remember as a kid sitting at the picnic table in our yard making sand drawings and I thought this would be perfect for E. He loves his sandbox and always wants to use glue when he does crafts.

To make these awewome drawings, use glue to draw your picture.

Pour sand on the glue drawing.

Then dump the sand off, and hooray... a beautiful sand creation!

This kept E occupied for quite some time. We took turns drawing with the glue then eventually he told me what to draw and he became the official sand dumper.

Note, this blog will not be turning into a DIY/craft blog. Sandbox art is about as good as it gets!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Husband the Father

When my relationship with Mike began to get serious, I never thought about what type of father he would be. Having kids wasn't important to me, I was indifferent about having them. I knew Mike was a good person and I loved being with him. That's what mattered to me at the time.

When I was pregnant with E, I had no doubt Mike would be a good father. But I didn't realize he'd be this good. He's real good at this parenting thing, probably better than me. Don't get me wrong, we both have our strengths when it comes to parenting. I provide the structure and discipline for the kids.  I'm also the social coordinator for the family, planning out our week's activities. But Mike is the rock, he provides stability and is more patient than I can ever imagine being. Mike can easily play in the sanbox for as long as E wants, I get bored and try to encourage a new activity. He isn't always trying to do multiple things at once, he is able to put complete focus on E or Cora.

When I ask Mike if he ever thought he'd be a stay at home dad, he says, "No." But seeing him with our kids makes me believe it was in God's plan all along. Mike is so good at seeing our children as individual people, not just as kids. He talks to E and asks him his thoughts, they have regular conversations. It's no wonder E says, "Daddy Evan best friends."

I love seeing Mike with Cora, he's completely at ease with her. He doesn't hesitate to change a diaper or feed her. He's the definition of a hands on dad.

At times I feel jealous at how much time Mike gets with the kids because he stays at home, especially with how close he is with E. But mostly I'm grateful for the special bond those two have. I realize that Mike and I will have different relationships with both our children. Each relationship being meaningful in its own way, not one better than the other. 

So on this day we celebrate fathers, I wish my husband the happiest Father's Day because he truly deserves to be celebrated. Happy Father's Day to my husband the father.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Friday Five

Here's what I'm loving this week;

1. Sunday Funday
Sunday was a gorgeous day and we were ready to be out and about. After church we headed to the Linden Hills Farmer's Market. I love the Linden Hills neighborhood and wanted to check out their farmer's market. Unfortunately, it was disappointing, there was no produce there! It was only the second weekend the market was open for the season. I'm hoping it's still early and it will get better. There were free crafts for kids though and E made this awesome hippie necklace.

Since the farmer's market didn't take long to check out, we headed to Great Harvest Bread Co. to regroup and split a cookie. We decided to walk the few blocks to Lake Harriet and stroll around the lake. We haven't spent much time around Lake Harriet but it's known for it's live music and outdoor movies during the summer. We also discovered a pretty sweet playground. There's a water pump that pumps water into the sand area creating a nice little stream for kids to play in. Of course that's exactly where E wanted to be. As I watched E play, I couldn't help but notice that my kid was the dirtiest. He had wet sand everywhere and his shirt was pretty much soaked. None of the other kids looked like that, how does that happen? Oh well, E was having fun and everything is washable.

This is how Cora spends
her time at the park.

2. I Finished a Book
I love to read but haven't found much time to do so lately. Reading in bed at night is one of my favorite things to do. However, these days I crash as soon as my head hits the pillow. Now I usually read while I pump so it takes a while longer to finish a book. It took me about two months, but I finished Chelsea Handler's latest book, Uganda Be Kidding Me. I'm a Chelsea Lately fan and have read all of Chelsea Handler's books. I think she's hilarious. If you're not easily offended, Uganda Be Kidding Me is a pretty funny read.

3. Our Day at MOA
Mall of America is a pretty popular Midwest attraction right in our backyard. I never go there. In fact, I hated going there when I first moved to Minneapolis. It was always crowded and I don't think it's a good place to go for some serious shopping. However, my mind has changed since having children. I've been there more in the past year than I have in my 10 years living in Minnesota. There's plenty of space for kids to run around, fun unique stores to check out, and Lego Land. All these things are free! Of course there's the aquarium and the amusement park there too.

We spent a day at MOA this week and we had a blast. We did take the kids to the aquarium. E loved it and Cora slept through it. E got to go on one ride, the Big Rigs ride, we spent a good chunk of time in the Disney store and we finished the day off with ice cream.

4. My Daddy's Boy
E loves to mow but we don't let him outside when Mike mows, it's too dangerous. Mike pushes the mower around when he's done so E gets the chance to mow with Daddy. Love!

5. Cora Smiles
We're getting some true smiles from Miss Cora this week. I love trying to get her to smile, it's how I spend a good portion of my day.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Friday Five

Here's what I'm loving this week;

1."I've Got Your Lifestyle Blog Right Here"
Such an honest and hilarious piece by Kristen Howerton who blogs at the very popular Rage Against the Minivan. She's keeping it real by showing the lifestyle she knows and it's similar to mine. Here's what my real lifestyle photos look like.

Clothes basket has been there for almost a week,
at least they're clean, lots of random stuff that gets
thrown in our room when we have people over,
and yes, that's my 2 year old in my bed because
he prefers it there.

My living room is a constant obstacle course of toys.
The picnic table was meant to be for outside use but somehow
became a permanent fixture. 

2. Eating Outside
There's something about eating outside that makes mealtime so much better. Whether it's picnic lunches, dinner on our patio or a restaurant patio; it's the season for eating outside.

Picnic at Lamplighter Pond.
Cora eats dinner in her car seat,
she loves that thing.
Dinner at Tin Fish on Lake Calhoun. 

3. Exploring Our City
We spend a lot of time at parks in the summer. E was getting a little bored with the ones in our neighborhood so we decided to branch out. We headed to Theo Wirth Park which is just outside of downtown Minneapolis. What I love about this park is that once you enter, it almost feels like you're in one of Minnesota's state parks without leaving the city. I had been to Theo Wirth before to walk on the trails but never paid attention to the playground. There's a fantastic playground and beach area at the park. E loved it and wasn't the slightest bit bored.

After the park, Mike and I needed a coffee fix and instead of our standard Caribou, decided to continue our adventure and hit up a local place near by. We ended up in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood at Cuppa Java which was delightful.

We found this on our walk.
Mike and I both agreed we need to branch out more and take advantage of all our city has to offer.

4. Morning Coffee and Sandbox

Great way to start the day.

5. More Sibling Love
E is such a good big brother and my heart just bursts when I see him interact with Cora.

E helping put Cora's play mat together.