Mother’s day “flowers” {last-minute gift idea}

Still looking for the perfect gift or card for your Mom this Mother’s day? Look no further!

Presenting a special bouquet of flowers:

Mother's day bouquet of hand print flowers

My Mother’s day bouquet

These are really easy to make:

  1. Squirt out your paint – we used Michael’s Crayola washable tempera paints
  2. Take subject’s hand
  3. Paint subject’s hand. Work quickly depending on age and patience level of subject.
  4. Press subject’s hand onto paper.
  5. Let dry.
  6. Add some foliage (stems and leaves) and cut out or back with additional paper.

And if you’re a visual learner:

Handprint flowers | Mother's Day

Prep your materials.

Handprint flowers | Mother's Day

Painting your subject.

Handprint flowers | Mother's Day

Stamp, stamp, stamp.

Handprint flowers | Mother's Day

Hand prints: complete!

Handprint flowers | Mother's Day

And then when the hand prints turn into painting…

Happy Mother’s day!

The BEST lactation cookies

Lactation cookies: a reason to eat cookies? Yes, please!

As a breastfeeding working mom I had a little help in keeping my supply up: COOKIES!

When I was pregnant with Michael my love of chocolate chip cookies greatly intensified and I had at least one a day. My obsession didn’t end with pregnancy and my sweet craving — especially for chocolate chip cookies — has stuck with me ever since.

When Michael was still nursing, I tried a million recipes for lactation cookies — cookies with a purpose! An excuse to eat even more! — and my favorite one came from Milkin’ Mamas, but the link doesn’t work anymore, so I’m re-typing it here.

You know a recipe is legit if it’s posted in the lactation room at work and dated almost two years prior! Enjoy!

The BEST lactation cookies (Makes a lot of cookies! Bake extras to share with your lactation room friends! Freeze what you don’t want to bake now!)

  • 2 T flax seed meal
  • 4 T water
  • 1 c butter, soften to room temperature
  • 1.5 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room teperature
  • 1 t vanilla (I usually use don’t measure and just add a steady pour…)
  • 2 c flour
  • 3-4 T brewer’s yeast
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 3 c rolled oats
  • 1 c chocolate chip (I prefer milk chocolate!)

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flax seed meal and water. Let stand for 5 minutes. (This simulates an egg in texture for baking.)
  3. In a large bowl or mixer, beat butter and brown sugar.
  4. Add eggs and beat well.
  5. Add flax seed mixture and vanilla, beat well.
  6. Add dry ingredients: flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  8. Scoop rounded tablespoons onto baking tray.
  9. Bake 12 minutes.
  10. Cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooking rack.

Some notes: 

  • Use whole oats, not quick oats. Extra thick oats are even better.
  • Do not substitute the brewer’s yeast with regular yeast. These are not the same thing. Brewer’s yeast is available on Amazon, as well as at natural food stores.
  • Flax seed meal is available at Trader Joe’s and natural food stores.

I would make a large batch of cookie dough, bake the cookies I needed for the week and then freeze the extras, so I could bake them whenever I needed cookies.

Need other ideas for keeping your supply high? Read this post!

 

Tips for breastfeeding working moms

Milk? Formula? Fed is best.

This post is over a year in the making. Life of a working mom, then-pumping mom, then mom, right?

Having a kid is a lot of fun, but it’s also hard work. (Like, the hardest job I’ve ever had!) One of the hardest/most annoying parts of motherhood is feeding your kid, specifically breastfeeding.

Michael was a good breastfeed-er and we hit our stride pretty early on. But, it was a task; not something I wanted to do, but something I had to do. You know, to feed my kid. Breastfeeding while you’re with the kid is pretty easy to get the hang of, but when you’re away from him and pumping? A whole ‘nother story.

Until recently, and while I was nursing Michael, I worked for the City of Seattle and while some of the city buildings only have adequate pumping facilities, my building’s “mother’s room” is amazing. In addition to a couple of mini fridges, a sink, and microwave (essentials for storing and cleaning your milk), we had plush chairs, private cubicles, and a bank of lockers to store our gear.

By themselves, these attributes made my pumping experience a bit better than some of my friends who didn’t have quite this nice of setup. But it isn’t a standalone thing. The City employs thousands of individuals, and some of them are lactating moms. This is a strong, close-knit community that I was honored to be a part of for close to a year.

It’s not easy going from months off of work, focusing solely on nurturing your new human to working 8+ hours a day, trying to pretend that you didn’t just give birth and don’t have biological needs that have to be addressed. Do you know what it’s like to push your pump break a few minutes only to have to rush to the Emergency Operations Center with your non-parent, mostly male colleagues to address citywide messaging for a huge power outage in downtown Seattle instead of “milking yourself”? I do. It’s not ideal.

I named the lactation/mother’s room the Pump Haus (or Microsoft, which is what it looks like you’re saying if your colleague mouths “milk yourself” after saying you need to leave a meeting urgently). I made some really great friendships there with moms with kids weeks or months older or younger than Michael. We talked about everything. It was a real, live chat board! The more experienced moms set many of our concerns to rest and I was thankful that I was able to pass along my knowledge to the newbies. We talked sleeping, eating, drinking not just for our babes, but also for ourselves; everything under the sun! We shared sale codes, recipes, and advice about decorating, first birthday parties, vacations, and jobs. I even took a meeting or two in the Pump Haus, with a new-mom colleague. Talk about multi-tasking!

I stopped pumping in September, after Michael’s first birthday. I didn’t realize how emotional it would be, but as I wrote a note to my fellow Pump Haus moms, I teared up. While I blame the hormones for the tears, the Pump Haus and my Pump Haus community were a huge part of last year. I count my blessings that I was able to have such a positive pumping experience, because I know that’s not always the case.

Just before the end of the year Michael nursed for the last time and seems to be doing just fine without breast milk. (YESSSSS!!!) It’s pretty freeing for me and for those of you who are struggling with breastfeeding and/or pumping, or heading back to work soon, I’m here to share my tips with you.

My daily haul of “milkies”

Lactation cookies: a reason to eat cookies? Yes, please!

For milk production: 

  1. Drink a lot of water. Like, a lot. Drink one ounce of water for every pound that you weigh. I know. That’s a lot of water, but I promise, it’ll keep your supply up!
  2. Don’t diet. Making milk burns about 500 calories a day, and you need those calories in order to make the milk, so don’t diet.
  3. Eat healthy, but… Don’t deny yourself either. I’m a pretty healthy eater, but my milk seemed to increase those days when I had a little bit shittier things to eat (licorice, Cheetos, cookies, etc).
  4. Drink this tea or take Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle supplements. It tastes gnarly, but it works.
  5. Eat lactation cookies! I tried a million recipes and my favorite one came from Milkin’ Mamas, but the link doesn’t work anymore, so I retyped it. (You know a recipe is legit if it’s posted in the lactation room at work and dated almost two years prior!) I would make a large batch of cookie dough, bake the cookies I needed for the week and then freeze the extras, so I could bake them whenever I needed cookies.
  6. Your supply operates on a supply and demand schedule. If there isn’t a demand, there won’t be a supply. So, if you want to keep your supply up, pump as many times as you would normally feed your wee one on the weekend. This also meant pumping before bed for me, which was pretty annoying, but it also meant Michael was a good nighttime sleeper, so a trade-off I was ok with.
  7. Supplement! Sometimes you just don’t make as much milk as others. It’s most important that your child eat. We used Similac for Supplementation throughout Michael’s first year and he continues to thrive!

Pumping at work: 

  1. Get this bra. It’s sizing is very forgiving (growing and shrinking with you, easy to wash) and you’ll have your hands free to properly search Pinterest. (I mean, respond to work emails.)
  2. Keeping a pump at work with clutch for me. If possible, keep one at work, so you won’t have to drag it back and forth.
  3. I can’t say enough about my steam sanitizer. I preferred to wash my pump supplies at home, but have the supplies (soap, brush, steamer) if you’re washing there.
  4. The jury is out on how long you can leave milk un-refrigerated. I usually kept it out no more than 4 hours.
  5. Have a waterproof bag for transporting your milk upright. As much as you want those Madela lids to work flawlessly, they don’t.
  6. I bought these 8 oz Madela bottles and kept my milk in them. It was a lot easier than lugging lots of small bottles around!

I think that’s it. Happy pumping!

Don’t let this happen to you! Pay attention to clean up!

ONE happy camper!

Our little man turned one in September and we celebrated in style: a rustic, outdoorsy, glamping style. Here are all of the details of our big party.

ONE happy camper!

We rented a picnic shelter space on Megan’s Island, in between two large fields and adjacent to a play structure. It was a pretty sweet spot. The only thing that would make it better would have been an infant swing, Michael’s favorite thing to do at the park.

The birthday boy

We opted for the Sunday before Michael’s birthday, which also ended up being the Seahawks home opener. We managed to squeeze the party in between Michael’s morning nap and 1 p.m. kickoff.

Food. We kept the food simple with 12 feet (FEET!) of Subway sandwiches, personal bags of chips, Aunt Nancy’s quinoa salad, and goldfish cracker packets and applesauce pouches for the little ones.

12 feet of sandwiches

Drinks. Since it was at a park, and 11 a.m., we decided to make Michael’s party nonalcoholic. We had a delicious hot cocoa bar and juice boxes for the kids. We offered toasted marshmallow syrup, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips to customize their ideal cocoa.

Drink station: hot cocoa bar!

Dessert. I made these s’more cookie bars but the real star of the show was the Costco cake. Thankfully Costco makes a cake that was perfect for our party. We got the “over the hill” design minus the over the hill language.

Cake!

We had such a wonderful time celebrating our little guy, ONE happy camper!

ONE happy camper!

A couple of other favorite photos from Michael’s big party:

Cake table & Michael’s weekly photos

52 weekly photos of Michael with the same bear in the same chair

Warming himself by the fire

Snuggles!

More snuggles! Also: the pants that inspired the party!

Post cake chocolate coma

Valentine, you’re out of this world! {2017}

I had the pleasure of turning my Pinterest board into reality last week to make Michael’s preschool valentines. I know I’m biased, but I’m pretty impressed with the final product. (I really liked last year’s valentines too!)

You're out of this world, Valentine!

You’re out of this world, Valentine!

Space ducks: unite!

Space ducks: unite!

These valentines are super easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and don’t include sugar, so they’re good for kids of all ages:

  1. Buy these astronaut and space alien rubber ducks from Amazon
  2. Print out this sheet of valentines on cardstock.
  3. Add your name on the bottom and cut them out.
  4. Poke a hole.
  5. Attach the tag to the duck.
  6. Tie a bow, trim the edges. Voila!

Here is Micheal working on his valentine “mailbox” at school. He’s a crafter in the making! (And, yes, they call him “Big Mike”!)

Michael working on his valentine mailbox

Michael working on his valentine mailbox

Michael turns one!

Last week we celebrated a very special holiday on the Island: our sweet baby Michael turned one!

Happy birthday Michael!

Happy birthday Michael!

It’s been a crazy, wonderful year. We’re so excited to watch our little one grow into a boy!

We celebrated with cake…

Baby's first cake: Praline Dream from Bakery Nouveau. Delicious.

Baby’s first cake: Praline Dream from Bakery Nouveau. Delicious.

Cake? Yes, please!

Cake? Yes, please!

"Oh yes, this is good."

“Oh yes, this is good.”

"How have I not had this before?! It's so good!"

“How have I not had this before?! It’s so good!”

"I. Love. Cake."

“I. Love. Cake.”

"Best day ever!"

“Best day ever!”

And a balloon wake up…

Balloons!

Balloons!

Channeling his inner Bill Clinton...

Channeling his inner Bill Clinton…

And birthday pancakes…

Best morning ever: pancakes, whip cream and sprinkles!

Best morning ever: pancakes, whip cream and sprinkles!

And a special cake from daycare. He loved it all. What a great week!

More birthday cake!

More birthday cake!

"Candle? I prefer the cake"

“Candle? I prefer the cake”

The happiest one year old that I know!

The happiest one year old that I know!

 

My new favorite thing: Chatbooks

Have you seen the app Chatbooks yet? It’s one of my new favorite things and I can’t stop singing their praises.

I discovered Chatbooks on Instagram through a sponsored post, while I was on maternity leave. I had nothing but time on my hands (at least when the kid was nursing, he wasn’t very good at sleeping reliably…) so I clicked on the ad and discovered a very reasonably-priced, creative, and super easy stocking stuffer idea. This would also make a great Father’s Day gift, which is coming up in a few short weeks!

Simply put, Chatbooks is an app that allows you to upload photos and create 8″ x 8″ softcover books.

My favorite option from Chatbooks: auto books. I’m rather prolific with posting of Michael photos on Instagram and I’ve set up my Chatbooks book by simply using a hashtag on the Instagram photos I want to include in my book.

IT’S THAT EASY!

Every 60 photos, Chatbooks emails me to review my book and three days later, it prints and ships! …And I’m working on volume nine. NINE. (That’s more than one per month!)

I’ll bet you’re glad I finally filled you in on my overuse of the #babymichael hashtag on Instagram, right? Now you know!

My Chatbooks. Book #8 should arrive soon!

My Chatbooks. Book #8 should arrive soon!