Breastfeeding is hard: treat yourself with nursing apparel

You would have thought that with all the years of breast-feeding experience I now have under my belt from having breast-fed the first three of my children until they self weaned, that breast-feeding Darling F would’ve been a breeze.

So it may come as a surprise, or to those who have been there and get it then it won’t, that I struggled.

I cried in those first few days. Sore nipples. Engorged breasts. Soaked clothes.

I asked myself repeatedly while I was doing this to myself.

Of course, when you’re not in the moment, the answer is clear. For me anyway. It’s what we want for our family and our kiddos (and our pocket books!).

For us, it works. But, oh man. The struggles. It’s real.

One thing I have allowed myself as a luxury for being the sole feeder of our children for the first year of their lives, is apparel that is easy to breast-feed in.

Sure, sure. All clothing is breast-feeding possible. I’ve worn a lot of tanks under T-shirts. I’ve won a lot of T-shirts without tanks under them and let the whole world see my post-pregnant belly while I’m out and about feeding. And I have no shame. None at all. I earned every single one of these marks and every extra inch, and all the wiggle and jiggle and pounds. And I’m totally cool with that. But it’s also nice to not always have to show it all to the world just to feed my kid.

One of my favorite breast-feeding friendly dresses comes from Milk and Baby. It’s super cute, it’s short enough that it’s fantastic in this Hawaiian climate but still covers my booty, and it makes breast-feeding on the go super discrete.

I love dresses. Other than maybe leggings, if I never had to wear pants again that’d be glorious. Glorious. But they’re also not easy for breastfeeding. I mean, I’m not a prude, but I also don’t want to hike a whole dress up and nurse my baby. I have a wee bit of modesty. And although some V-neck dresses get the job done, and I have some, they often get pulled out of shape if it’s not what they’re meant for.

So when all I have to do is pull this cute little Milk and Baby dress to the side to reveal a secret flap that lets me whip a boob out and feed my baby without anyone knowing, and the dress is ridiculously cute and comfortable to boot, I’m sold!

And I get it. Breastfeeding specific clothing is a luxury. You may only wear it for a year. Or if you’re like me and Miss H, you’ll get four whole years out of it, ha ha.

But you know what, mommas? You deserve it! You’re keeping your babies alive. Everywhere and anywhere that you go, every single day. You have the right to feel comfortable and look good doing it. So go treat yourself!

***This post is sponsored by Milk and Baby but all thoughts and opinions are genuine and mine alone.

Last week, as I drove Mr. B to kempo practice down our long winding mountain, the roads were empty and desolate as usual at that time of day, and suddenly, and in less time than it would take you to say “hippopotamus” there was a little boy running in front of my car after his ball.

As I put my brakes to the test, and swerved to the right to avoid him, I clipped the telephone pole hard with my mirror.

That little boy was just as oblivious as my own little boy to what had just occurred. They had no idea that in those split seconds all of our lives could’ve been altered irreparably. And maybe, lost.

It was one of those moments, that in retrospect, I’m thankful for. It was eye-opening and a good refresher of what is valuable and important in life, and what isn’t. Life is precious. And in a split second that happy ending can be gone forever.

I don’t blame that little boy’s parents. I don’t begrudge them for not watching him close enough, or for not teaching him better. Because I’m a parent. I get it. My kids play outside by themselves all the time. Even the two-year-old has free reign of our yard. He knows the boundaries, I keep an eye on him up in the window, but that doesn’t mean something couldn’t happen. And just because a kid, of any age, knows what is and is not allowed, or even what is right and wrong, doesn’t mean they’ll always follow it. Adults don’t. Children at least have the excuse of not having impulse control. Their brains are genuinely not capable of it. It’s hard to fault child for simply being a child.

Life happens. Mistakes are made. And I don’t think children should be helicoptered in order to keep them safe. You hope for the best, but at the end of the day, that’s really all you can do. Our children deserve the freedom to learn, play, grow, and even make mistakes all on their own. And the majority of the time those mistakes will be small in the grand scheme of things. They will be learning opportunities, teaching moments, ways for them to better grow as humans. If you’re too busy protecting them at all moments, they don’t get those moments that benefit them in the long run.

So yes, a little boy ran in front of my car. It could’ve been tragic. Instead I have a shattered mirror from swiftly averting my vehicle that I bear the brunt of replacing. And isn’t that how it should be? As adults, shouldn’t we be the ones looking out for our children, not the other way around? We teach them and we teach them, and we model for them, and we pray. And in their moments of unhindered childhood, we hope we have a village that is willing to take on a shattered mirror so that our kids can be kids and we can allow them the freedom of childhood that they so well deserve.

Okay

There is this moment in This Is Us where Jack is talking to the car salesman in reference to his children and what he wants for them in life, and he says, “I want them to be okay.” (This may not be the exact wording, but you get the gist.)

Basically everything Jack says or does gets me because he is so much like J as a husband and father that’s it eery (I’ve cried way too many times and told him if he dies before I’m ready, I will kill him. It speaks volumes that he still watches this show with me each week even though I become an emotional mess and often a bit irrationally upset at him for a fictional character’s death). And I looked over at him in this moment, tears all ready running down my face, and I just lost it.

8 years of parenting. Of reading and researching and trying and trying again. Of failing. Miserably sometimes. Of questioning everything. Of finding answers that actually only lead to more questions. Of failing again. Of trying harder

Okay.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this word.

Ki with a two year old and infant loathed this word.

What kind of person – of parent – only aims for okay? Why set the bar so low when you want so much for you children?

But now?

Now okay is good enough and good enough is more than acceptable.

I’ve gotten calmer and more laid back with each kiddo.

There are still things that are non-negotiable for me, but that’s not for this post. But in general?

I’m right there. I’m learning and surviving and most days even thriving, and you know what? So are my kids.

And their momma and papa aren’t perfect. Not by a long shot. Even though most days I feel J is about as close to it as humanly possible.

I strive to be more patient every single day. I battle my type A personality that wants everything to be perfect and I try so hard to get that evil little word out of my head and vocabulary all together.

Perfect isn’t attainable. It’s isn’t real.

But okay?

I can do that. And I can do it without beating myself up every time I fail.

Sometimes I will have the patience to let my two year old do his own car seat buckles even though it adds ten minutes to our adventure.

Sometimes I will have the empathy to hold my near tween when she’s crying over spilled nail polish.

Sometimes I will just sing to and rock the fussy, teething infant who hasn’t slept in twelve hours.

Sometimes I will be able to just grin and let my 6 year old continue belting out music at the top of his lungs when I deeply desire quiet.

Sometimes.

Most of the times, even.

But sometimes I will buckle his car seat clips and tell her that I can’t sit with her for an hour while she cries and I will put the fussy baby down for five minutes and walk away and I will insist on peace and quiet.

Sometimes.

And it’s okay.

Because although I will always strive to be more patient and more gentle and more respectful, I am human. And I will fail.

And that’s okay.

Because regardless, my kiddos will be okay.

Deeply loved, and okay.

Bo is 2!

I don’t even know how it happened, but my sweet baby boy is T W O!

It’s weird how life plays out. We went from being done with kids for good at two, a vasectomy reversal, a miscarriage, and the sound conclusion that God’s plan differed from our desires and that two kiddos was it for us. And then literally finding out we were pregnant with Sweet M a month after that.

It’s been a whirlwind. And he came 12 days “late” and was my most intense birth, as well. Holy cow, that darling was hard. But so worth it.

Oh, he’s so worth it all.

He’s so much fun. He’s silly and mischievous and loving and ornery all at the same time. He’s so lucky he’s got a pretty laid back momma who can take all his shenanigans in stride, ha.

I don’t know how time flew by so quickly. And not only is he this amazing 2 year old, but he’s also a big brother – and such a good one at that!

I hope he continues to grow to the be the kind, loving, compassionate little boy that I know he is (let’s just say those moments don’t always shine through when he’s with friends, but I know he’ll get there!).

He’s all ready very opinionated. He has clothing preferences and color preferences. He eats me out of house and home – he’s definitely trying to rival his Momma’s appetite.

He’s also ridiculously cute and looks just like a little Who from Whoville. I want to constantly eat him up.

He talks non stop. And sings.

He loves Beat Bugs and PJ Masks and any video from his Grandpa Shawn. He’s also pretty obsessed with his cousin “Baby Harlow.” He might lose his cool when he meets her in person.

I am so thankful, every single day, that God made me his momma.

Our Disconnected Reality

In a world where the majority of people are so connected, it’s disconcerting how disconnected we really are.

I’ve been silently observing for the past few months the phenomenon of people being so disconnected from the present. From their immediate surroundings.

And don’t get me wrong, this is not a judgment on anyone. I am definitely guilty of this. I’m part of the problem. Which is why it piqued my interest and made me curious at what is really going on.

I try to not use my phone unless I’m sitting down and nursing the baby. But I’m guilty obviously of using it at other times too.

So guilty, in fact, that if my toddler discovers my phone laying on the changing table or on the kitchen counter, he immediately retrieves it and comes running to me, shrieking, “Here, momma! Here!” He’s been conditioned to believe that it’s something I must always have with my person. And I don’t want that. I don’t want him to think my phone is something that I can’t leave in another room, even though I can leave him in another room.

My kids go crazy when someone lets them use their smart phone. I have to bite my tongue, because I don’t want to ruin their fun, and make it so that someday they get smart phone crazy too; but at the same time, I don’t like the people they become when suddenly they get lost in a world of Snapchat or Pokémon go, etc. Suddenly my fun, sweet kids are quarreling over whose turn it is and just looking for their next device fix. And as kids who will not own a smart phone while still children (and likely, whenever we decide a cell phone is applicable for one reason or another, it still won’t be smart), I don’t want them fixated and crazy with something that research proves does more harm than good. (And let’s be honest, their behavior with smart phones and technology is really a reflection of ours, even though it hurts to admit it).

I’ve watched friends more focused on creating a good Instagram story then truly enjoying the surroundings here. Right here. In paradise. Social media moments rate higher.

I find myself sometimes wanting to create the perfect social media family, and then feeling a bit defeated when I realize that my family, albeit everything I could ever want, will simply never be social media perfect. Sorry, guys. They’re real kids who pick out their own clothes and don’t always brush their hair and are often barefoot and dirty. I still have the little ones to doll up, but even Sweet M is starting to be opinionated. And we don’t do crafts worthy of entire blog posts or even Pinterest. You don’t want to know my cleaning hacks, because basically it’s “try to keep livable.”

Someone recently told me that they wouldn’t be returning to the mainland for several years due to time and cost, unless it was for a funeral. And I get it. We won’t be visiting our mainland friends and family until we are done living in Hawaii either because we have created a small tribe that is super costly to fly. But what really struck me is that we would be more likely to make the effort for a funeral than for memories and moments with real life people.

And I am blaming that on our disconnection.

Sure, you can say the funeral isn’t for the dead, it’s for the living , etc. But really, I think we’ve spent so much time creating Insta-worthy lives, and creating relationships by texting and Facebooking, that why bother enjoying real life people when your life can be glamorous without them? And of course, once they pass we need to put on this big show for the smart phone lives that we’ve created. Plus, funerals don’t require deep connection. It’s easy to keep on being disconnected and bury your head in your phone.

As someone who really, and always has, struggled with social interactions, it’s hard for me to reach out and not be reciprocated over and over again. I’m still trying to sort out what felt like rejections in childhood by people, and the realities of just some hard situations that had unfortunate outcomes. Sometimes it’s easier to bury myself deeper into the family and world I created for myself than to reach out and open up with others.

So I get it.

I get the desire by so many to be so instantly connected and the gratification of having people like your moments.

I get it.

I’m not perfect. I never will be. But I am going to keep on trying to disconnect with all the connection.

It’s pretty obvious this blog has slowed down tremendously these past few months. Partly because of visitors and illness, partly because I’m trying to find a new groove where I’m less connected with the world, but more connected with the people who I have or am currently forging real relationships with. (And by the way, if you feel like you are not someone I talk to with enough, feel free to say so. I keep a steady stream of kid photos and updates coming to those who ask. ☺️)

I want to sit on the beach with my babies and enjoy the moment. Not stage the moment for the rest of the world’s enjoyment. That doesn’t mean I won’t photograph my kids or even share those moments when I feel the desire, but they’ll take the back burner. If I happen to share it, cool. If not, that’s okay.

I liked the moment enough for all of us.

I don’t know what the future holds for me. For this blog. For my smart phone.

But I am stepping away from being so connected so that I can stop feeling so disconnected from my life.

No Picky Eaters

You hear it all the time. No matter where you are, who you know. If you know even just one kid, you’ve heard the horrors of having a picky eater.

People are always a little surprised to discover that none of my kids are picky eaters. Some of their favorite foods include fish, shrimp, asparagus, and salad (okay, Miss H loves salad, the boys are still working on learning to love it).

Now don’t get me wrong, they don’t necessarily love every single thing they are offered. They for sure have their preferences. And Mr. B will take something full of sugar over broccoli any day. But getting them to eat healthy and nutritious food is never a challenge. I don’t have to sneak vegetables into cheese sauces, and they have no idea that macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets are considered the norm for “kid” foods. Actually, the older two don’t really like macaroni and cheese at all. But we all love a good chicken nugget now and then.

The truth is, I don’t think we did anything special. We just kept offering, and offering, and often. I kept them involved in the kitchen, and then kept offering a little more.

Until about the age of 2 1/2, Mr. B thought that he only liked bananas, granola bars, and cheddar bunny crackers. But he wasn’t offered those foods at every meal, and he didn’t get to eat them to his hearts desire. The granola bars and cheddar bunnies were a snack food only, and only offered at snack times. I put itsy-bitsy portions of food on his plate each day, knowing he likely wouldn’t eat much of it, and I could always add more if needed. This helped me to not be frustrated with wasted food or for him to feel overwhelmed by the quantity.

He is by far my most particular child, and still, there is not very much he will not eat.

We didn’t discuss with him whether he ate it or not. We didn’t make a big deal of him not eating it. We didn’t make a big deal of him trying it. We just put it on the plate, and let him be.

It took time, for sure, but eventually he got it. Food is tasty.

When he weaned right at age three, he became a more adventurous eater. Suddenly things he’d always claimed he didn’t like, such as tomatoes, became his favorite foods. And, of course, we kept offering.

We’ve never made our kids separate meals. There is no such thing as grown-up food and kid food in our house.

You don’t have to like everything you eat, but you also can’t say it’s gross or disgusting. You can smile, thank whomever prepared the meal, and not eat whatever you’ve decided you don’t currently care for. Though honestly, very rarely do they decide they don’t like it.

He is enjoying stuffed zucchini and a salad. Yep, at 20 months he ate it!

They are offered three square meals a day. Unless Miss H makes breakfast. Then it’s typically just pancakes, which isn’t a very square meal, ha ha, but trust me, they certainly don’t complain nor do I, because it’s nice to have a break. Plus they have free reign access to fresh cut veggies, nuts, and fruits. They can eat as much or as little as they please. I will never tell a child that they’re hungry and are required to eat more. Nor will I insist that there’s no way they could possibly still be shoveling food in their tummy. I have full confidence that they know how hungry or not they are, at all times. And I want them to learn from an early age how to satiate themselves without under or over eating. I want food to be something that nourishes them and makes them strong. I even want them to enjoy the things they eat. But I don’t want them to eat mindlessly, or avoid foods when they’re hungry.

In general, after toddlerhood, we insist they eat at the table (we certainly aren’t militant and make exceptions such as movie night or if they’re in the middle of a board game and want to munch an apple, etc.). When you have to stop what you’re doing and put thought into what you’re doing in terms of eating, you often tend to be mindful and intentional. At least I know I am.


I suppose Bean could be the one to break this method. She could be the one who this no-frills normalcy of healthy food just doesn’t work with. But withstanding any legitimate food issues, I’m assuming probably not. Since it’s the only thing she will know.

We want our kids to have a love of food, the way we do. We want them to enjoy healthy and nutritious food in its organic state. We want them to enjoy exotic foods, fine foods, foods from street vendors, and chocolate chip cookies. Because at the end of the day, we don’t want them to be picky eaters.

Matching

I love matching my kids.

I will probably match them until they leave the house if I get a say.

I always hoped I’d have two of the same gender close together to make matching easier, but let’s be honest, I wouldn’t change any one of these nuggets.

And it turns out it’s not so hard matching them as I envisioned it to be. Sure, there could be more options. And I super love rompers on the babies and those might not really work for the big kids, but we are making out options work.

I wonder how old Miss H will be when she no longer finds it amusing to match her baby sister?

And most days Mr. B and Sweet M are butting heads; I imagine my days are numbered there. Although B gets very excited about matching his baby brother still.

M is getting very particular about his clothing though. Mostly, he just likes his birthday suit if we are being honest. Eep.

Regardless, until someone begs me not, I will be matching these kids for life.

Baltic Essentials Necklaces

All my babes have worn amber necklaces essentially from birth. Frequently they’re referred to as amber “teething” necklaces as they are often associated with helping to ease the pain that infants and toddlers endure from teething as they release natural, pain relieving oils onto the skin.

Really, though, they can help with all kinds of aches and pains, not just the pain of teething, which is really pretty awesome and beneficial at all ages and stages of life.

But amber isn’t the only stone associated with bringing relief to little ones and adults alike. There are all sorts of stones that helps with many different issues and ailments.

Miss H and Sweet M each wear a necklace from Baltic Essentials that has seven other stones included with the Baltic amber (pink rose quartz, amethyst, lapis lazuli, turquoise, aventurine, chrysocolla, and red agate).

Why?

These stones are used to help ease stress, calm big emotions, dispel anxiety, and quell anger. And for my amazing, high needs, big feelings duo, it’s just the help they need in their big moments. Miss H even will say “I need to stop and focus on my necklace helping me for a minute while I get calm.”

Bean wears your typical amber necklace, but in addition she also uses a Baltic Essentials hazelwood necklace, as does Mr. B.

These two sweet loves got their Momma’s tummy troubles: reflux, eczema – those fun things. Hazelwood helps to alleviate those issues and soothe the tummy. Mr. B happily wears his 24/7, so that should say a lot.

My kiddos love their healing and soothing Baltic Essentials necklaces as one, and a super cute one at that, tool to helping with their daily well being!

***This post was sponsored by Baltic Essentials but as always, I only work with companies I genuinely love and believe in, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Waikiki Brewing Co.

Now that Bean is past the newborn age, we are getting out and exploring more these days. Especially food for dinner. (Because did I mention that every one of my kids have had crazy fussy periods as newborns that lasted all evening and really made any evening activity or event impossible? No bueno.)

We are food people. J and I have literally planned trips around places we will stop to eat. We like food.

Today we made it over to the Waikiki Brewing Company.

We’ve driven passed it a thousand times and have commented we should go, but it took us this long to actually make it.

I will tell you, the parking is not exceptional. It’s very limited, which could make things pretty tricky during peak times. But literally right next door to it is a small garage with extra parking, though it does cost $5. In fairness, parking pretty much anywhere in Oahu, especially in Honolulu, is often less than ideal.

The waitstaff was fantastic and crazy friendly. They engaged my kiddos and were very attentive of our needs, happily moving some tables around to accommodate us since their large tables were all all ready occupied.

It was a kid-friendly place, which is pretty imperative for us as we typically have small people in tow. It was loud with music, lots of space to get their crazies out if needed (they actually didn’t this time!), and they had a Mrs. Pac Man arcade game available to play; and if I’d needed to send the big kids over with a stack of quarters I would have, but they were amazingly content the whole time.

Sweet M was particularly fond of checking out the brewery section where the giant bats were hard at working creating beer.

I will be honest, I am not a beer person. A few ales in England struck my fancy, and a warm cider in Belgium, but that’s it thus far. So while J and his cousin tried out beer samplers, I treated myself to a Maui Mai Tai. It was delicious, and apparently the beer wasn’t half bad either.

Also, the food was great. I didn’t get to taste a proper dinner as I’d had a large lunch, but I had the arugula and goat cheese salad and I ate ever last morsel. No joke. And some lovely older auntie came over and swooped my baby out of my arms and danced and loved on her so that I could eat said salad. Have I mentioned how much I adore the people in Hawaii? They’re all so loving and helpful and friendly. The way the world should be.

It was a fantastic dining experience and we will be returning customers for sure! We were so impressed with the Waikiki Brewing Company!

Hawaiian Plantation Village

We have a list of things we must see and do while in Oahu.

And then we have a list of things that seems to randomly find us and we didn’t even realize that we needed to see and do it until we are there.

That’s what the Hawaiian Plantation Village was for us. “A happy little accident.”

The place was so interesting and fun that I will even ignore that the employees were wearing stickers that had “HPV” on them. I mean, I get it. But the 12 year old in me was just rolling.

We stopped in because they were having a rice fest, which included “make your own musubi.” And I get that musubi is probably one of the easiest things in the world to make, but I hadn’t yet attempted it and wanted to see it done before I gave it a whirl. So getting to have someone walk is all through it was fantastic and the kids loved it!

Then we walked about the grounds where the real museum/village is.

They had a plethora of dwellings and structures created to be replicates authentic to the time period of the mid 1800s-early 1900s when the plantations were pretty much the biggest industry on the island. That was the time when so many people from other countries began migrating to Hawaii.

The kids all indulged me while I read to them about each dwelling and the purpose it served and the histories of the people who it represented. So many people. It was beautiful and a little daunting to think of people leaving their homes to come Hawaii 150+ years ago.

If I ever feel like it’s hard to stay in touch with friends and family while hear, I will just remind myself of all those people left their homes, knowing full well they’d likely never see any of the loved ones they were leaving ever again.

Sweet M kept me on my toes as he picked all the foliage and vegetation and I kept reading all the little signs to be sure he wouldn’t die from something poisonous.

It was a such a beautiful historical plantation village and I am so glad we happened upon it.

What a lovely Hawaiian day!