Construction Zone

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ahhhh life in a new neighborhood... At our house, we have a bit of a love/hate relationship with construction zones. There are currently six separate homes being built within a stones throw of our house, a couple of which are directly next door and across the street, and a total of 16 new homes...18 if you count homes waiting on landscaping...within about a mile and a half radius that are in some state of construction. We live in a newer neighborhood, so this is to be somewhat expected, but lately it certainly seems like there is an overwhelming number of construction vehicles rumbling by our house! Dump trucks, excavators, cement mixers, skid loaders, and cranes...oh my! You name it, it's probably gone by our house within the last 24 hours. C, being a young boy who is fascinated by big diggers, has been loving watching all of the commotion from his bedroom window and off our back deck. These diggers come at a price though, and nap time has been touchy at best with all of the banging around right outside of C's bedroom. Not exactly what you want when you have a one year old with a broken leg and doctor's orders to get lots of rest!

Earlier this week when one of the construction sites directly near our home decided it would be a great idea to work well past dark moving dirt around and dumping rocks with a skid loader, I'd had enough. T was on call, C had already missed nap time due to all of the construction work, and with all of the continued banging around outside his bedroom window was having a terrible time getting to sleep. Keep in mind that C also has a broken leg, and is supposed to be getting plenty of rest. Letting his nighttime sleep be so obnoxiously interrupted was just more than I was willing to deal with. So, with no end in sight...I called the officials to see what our options were. I was hoping there would be some city ordinance about residential construction work hours that could be enforced. Unfortunately, it seems that our town allows construction work in residential neighborhoods until around 10 p.m. (UNREAL!), so with all other options exhausted, I ended up having to file a noise complaint to get some peace and quiet so C could get the quality rest he needed. Add that to a list of things I never thought I'd do. Welcome to the neighborhood! Things we do for our kids...

On a brighter note, with all of the construction work lately, here's a few things that have been on high rotation in our house. Also great gift ideas if you've got a little digger in your life!

Construction Zone

Adventures in the Emergency Room

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

This past Saturday, August 15th, should have been a happy day filled with family, celebrations, and time spent outside in the sunshine. Grandpa T turned 59, and we had planned to spend the day boating, building sandcastles, splashing in the kiddie pool, and generally just getting up to all sorts of fun. Instead...we found ourselves making an unscheduled trip to the emergency room after a certain little someone had a BIG ouch.

C was practicing learning how to go down the stairs with T when he plopped down a single stair and landed with his leg beneath him in a funny position. T was right with C during the entire event, and even had his hands around C's little waist to make sure he wouldn't fall down. He said he heard a click sound when C plopped down, but thought maybe he just popped his hip out and that he would feel better after taking some Tylenol and catching a nap. And that was the end of the story...I tried to calm C down and get him ready for nap time, and T rushed out the door to meet some out-of-town friends he had arranged to have lunch with. 

Except it wasn't the end of the story... Fast forward about an hour or so. C never did take nap. He would be calm for five minutes or so, but then would cry and whimper before settling down again. When T got home from lunch, we gave up on the nap idea, and got C up. He wouldn't put any weight on his left leg, and was so scared when he thought we were going to make him move it that he began shaking. We checked his joints...hip checked out fine, knee checked out fine, but when we moved his ankle...screams. He calmed down while being held stationary in his rocking chair and reading story books (his all time favorite pastime), but these were just distractions from the pain he was in.

So, without further delay, we packed into the car and headed to the emergency room. Luckily, it was a slow day in the ER, and we were able to get right in without having to wait. After being checked into the room, the doctor came in to check C's leg and take him for an X-ray. Many screams later (they had to move his leg to get a couple different angles for the x-ray) it was back to the room to wait for results. A few minutes later, the doctor came in to let us know that C's tibia was indeed broken, and we wouldn't be leaving without a cast. He called the on-call orthopedic surgeon, and in a matter of half and hour, C was all fixed up. Of course when it came to color options for his new accessory, we were thinking practically and opted for black so that C would be ready for the first Iowa football game. Now we just need to find some yellow tiger hawk stickers to really get in game day mode!

Joking aside, breaking his leg was a pretty devastating blow to little C who was just finally starting to make some serious strides on his gross motor skills and learning to pull himself up, crawl, and walk. The orthopedic surgeon who put the cast on assured us that after about five days, his bone will have healed enough that C should be back to his usual ways, and it shouldn't slow him down too much. In the meantime, the first day, we did an altering schedule of infant Tylenol and Advil, iced his leg every few hours with a cold pack to keep the swelling down (I'm not convinced of the effectiveness of this through the cast), read lots of storybooks, kept his leg elevated as much as possible, and spent lots of time snuggling. 

Cousin J was in town to help celebrate Grandpa T's birthday, and for the most part was super mindful of C's broken leg. Right before I snapped this pic, the two boys were laying together so nicely and cousin J was sharing his books with C. The minute I took a picture, J stepped right on C's broken leg, and that was the end of that. In happier news, C absolutely fell in love with cousin J's adorable Tractors and Farm Trucks book and all of the miniatures inside, and I may or may not have ordered it and the companion Rescue and Emergency Vehicles to surprise him with later this week. Little boys with a broken legs should be spoiled just a little bit right?!

C has been such a little champ, and slept the first night after breaking his leg until around 3 a.m. when his medicine wore off. He didn't need any additional daytime medicine the following day, and only took medicine at night. Day two he was able to tolerate sitting up, and last night he started to crawl around a little, even sleeping through the night with no meds at all! His cast will stay on for the next three weeks, then he'll go back for a checkup and another x-ray. If everything looks good, he should be able to have it removed then. Here's hoping that the rest of his recovery will go smoothly!

Breastfeeding Awareness Month

Thursday, August 13, 2015

August is the official National Breastfeeding Awareness Month in the U.S., so I thought I'd share some of my personal observations, tips, and tricks on the topic.

I knew pretty early on that I wanted to give nursing a try. I had the full support of T, who liked the idea not only for the many health benefits for baby (read about them here or here), but also for cost-saving reasons (baby formula is EXPENSIVE with a capital E!). In addition, my wonderful Mama J, who nursed my three younger brothers and I when we were babies, was a great source of knowledge for any questions I had, particularly when it came to keeping up milk supply, attainable expectations for how long it may be possible to nurse, and shooing people out of the hospital room those first couple of days when C needed to nurse, and I wasn't yet comfortable doing so in front of visitors. Another excellent source of information came in the form of a lactation consultant who worked in the hospital where C was born, and was available to help from the very first day. Lactation consultants can teach you about correct latch positions, how often and how long to feed, milk supply issues, how to use a breast pump, how to store expressed milk, painful nursing solutions, etc. Many hospitals, clinics, and private practice offices offer lactation consultant services. You can search for one in your area here.

Nursing Favorites

Breast Pump & Breastmilk Storage Bags // DO NOT....I REPEAT...DO NOT buy a breast pump. Most health insurance companies will 100% cover the purchase price of one breast pump during your lifetime. The catch is that many times you have to get it from a store of their choosing...usually a medical supply store, or maybe even directly from your hospital. Call your insurance company ahead of time and check to see what your policy says.

Nursing Pads & Lanolin Nipple Cream // I talked a little about these products on my new mama favorites post, and think they are worthy of another mention. To prevent any unwanted leaks, nursing pads are a great invention. I tried both Medela brand, and Lansinoh, and can say that the Lansinoh brand tends to stay in place better based on where the stickers are located on the pad. If you want something less disposable and more environmentally friendly, these washable nursing pads from Bamboobies have great reviews. Talking brand wars, I personally liked the Medela lanolin nipple cream far better than the Lansinoh brand as it was less sticky, and felt more natural overall. This cream from Motherlove is a great organic alternative, and this cream from Earth Mama Angel Baby also has great reviews, and is an all natural lanolin-free and non-GMO alternative.

Nursing Bras // There are many different options to choose from out there depending on what you are looking for. Mine mostly came from Target, and weren't the highest quality. A few other places to check out are Motherhood MaternityA Pea In The Pod, and Nordstrom. At the very least, I would recommend picking up a couple of seamless styles before baby's favorite was the Jessica Simpson seamless clip-down nursing bra available at Motherhood Maternity. I've read great things about this seamless nursing bra from Cake, and this seamless nursing bra from Bravado. Keep in mind that your cup size will likely fluctuate throughout your time spent nursing, so don't get too carried away with filling up that lingerie drawer with a single cup size.

Nursing Cover // Most of the time, C & I were by ourselves during feedings and I didn't have to worry about having a nursing cover. When we did have visitors, were traveling, or were away from home during a feeding, a nursing cover comes in very handy. Another thing I underestimated before C's arrival was how nursing-friendly my pre-baby wardrobe would be. The answer was...not very. Good options to have on hand: flyaway cardigans, full-panel maternity leggings (great coverage when you are always pulling up your shirt!), clip-down nursing tank tops, nursing PJs, and sundresses with straps that you can slip off your shoulder.

Book // The American Academy of Pediatrics New Mother's Guide to Breastfeeding has a wealth of information about all things nursing. I talked a little about it here, and stand by my word. I told T that he should start recommending it to all of his OB patients. Highly recommend!

Boppy & Burp Cloths // The essentials. Yes, you could just use a regular pillow. However, the Boppy is a definite worthwhile investment, and you will not regret the purchase. It is much firmer than a regular pillow, and offers excellent support while nursing a little one. There are about a thousand options for covers (check Etsy), which is great if you are wanting to get something that will match your nursery. Burpy bibs from Aden & Anais were, and continue to be, our far and away favorite for catching milk spills. They have a snap that turns them into a bib (multi-tasking at it's best!), are reversible, super absorbent, wash up well, and last a long time. Seriously...I'm still using the original ones from when we first brought C home. Can't recommend enough! They are available at pretty much any store with baby gear, or if you are more of an online shopper, Amazon offers a ton of options.

Milkscreen // I was not aware of this product while I was nursing, and I rarely pumped, but I've heard from friends that have used it that it helped with their peace of mind when they decided to have an occasional drink.

Nutrition // More to the point, getting enough water and food. While nursing, nutrition and staying hydrated are key. If you are worried about your milk supply, Mother's Milk organic herbal tea has great reviews and promotes lactation, or you could also try fenugreek capsules which are linked to increased milk supply. Now is not the time to implement a strict new diet - eating healthy is a good idea if you aren't already, but restricting calories is not a great plan. Nursing will help to shed some of that post-baby weight, so don't let yourself get discouraged about getting back into your skinny jeans right away! Everyone is different, for some it may only take a few weeks, while others it may take a few months. In order to make sure your body can produce a sufficient amount of milk to meet your baby's needs, taking care of your own nutrition first is very important. A tip: round up some easy slow-cooker recipes (Pesto Ranch Chicken and Hot Italian Drip Beef are a couple of our favorites) and freezer meals (Pinterest has great ideas), stock up on healthy snack food, line up some family or friends who are willing to help out with meals your first week back home, and start a collection of take-out menus for nights that a home cooked meal is just not going to happen. Best of luck!

By Maurice Asselin

 From the small amount of reading I had done on the topic prior to C's arrival, I knew that nursing doesn't work for everyone, and it may even be difficult or painful at first. I later stumbled across this book which had AMAZING information about all things nursing. It covers a plethora of topics ranging from correct latch position, how to increase supply, nursing with teeth, and even options for nursing with an adopted child! HIGHLY RECOMMEND to any first time mama's out there, or anyone who needs a refresher!

I had it in my head that if we were successful at nursing, I'd like to try to make it a year, or until C was ready to be weaned off. In reality, I ended up exclusively breastfeeding until C was about five months old and we started introducing small portions of solid foods along with breast milk. Breast milk continued to be C's main source of nutrition until he was just over eight months old and he decided he was ready to be done with nursing (my guess is that this was partly due to the fact that he was no longer getting enough milk to sustain his growth rate). At eight months, we switched over to 100% formula (in addition to solid food), and at just over one year, we introduced whole milk, and haven't looked back since. 

I should mention that C never took a bottle, and went straight from nursing to a sippy cup. If you're reading between the lines here, you'll realize that this meant never leaving him for more than a three hour time period until he was over 8 months old. This was not necessarily intentional. It really boiled down to the fact that I had zero success whatsoever with a breast pump, so I could never store up enough milk to have a full feedings worth (about 8 oz) on hand to try giving him a bottle. Based on his well-child checkups, I knew he was getting enough milk from nursing, so I didn't want to introduce formula since that would lower the rate at which my body would produce milk. This pretty much meant that C & I were best little buddies for the first eight months of his life. Since I stay home to raise him, so this wasn't really a huge deal, but I will say that it was certainly nice to be able to have a glass of wine or two without having to worry about his next meal after he switched over to formula!

On that note, it's OK to have an occasional glass of beer or wine and nurse at the same time. I won't go into too much detail here as it is a very personal decision, and there are a million resources online, but the gist of it is you can have a glass of wine or beer as long as you leave around two hours between when you have the drink and the next time you plan to nurse. Pumping and dumping is an outdated idea, and it does not help to speed the process whatsoever. There are even convenient little breastmilk test strips to test the alcohol level in breast milk making sure it's safe for baby. Chances are, you won't be out at the bars partying like it's 1999 after baby arrives, but if you do decide to have the occasional drink, these strips may be just the thing for your peace of mind. There are also alcohol free beers and wines available if that makes you feel better. Cheers to that!

Another great thing about current times? There has been a huge push lately for businesses to be more accepting of nursing mothers. Target recently came out with this policy for nursing mothers, while many malls, department stores, and events venues offer rooms dedicated to nursing mothers. While I was nursing C, we had the pleasure of using some of these spaces...Nordstrom at The Mall of America has an excellent nursing room, the Coralville Mall has a private nursing room, and even The Clay County Fair offered nursing stations for new mamas. Don't let nursing stop you from living your life and getting out of the house!

Everyone has a different story on how to feed their baby, many times based on the time period when their children arrived, if they are juggling a career along with raising a child, or other personal reasons. For me, this amazing video pretty much sums it up. No matter what our beliefs, we are parents first.

Thai Pineapple Peanut Chicken Satay

Friday, August 7, 2015

So...I realize I haven't done a recipe post in quite some time, but the other night I tried something new, and it was sooooo amazing, I just had to share. northwest Iowa, any type of Thai food is nearly nonexistent, so the flavors in this particular dish were outside the norm for our rural America setting.

I've cooked with peanut butter a handful of times before, and always found the flavors to be unique, interesting, and delicious, so when I spotted this recipe, I knew I had to give it a go. SO. GOOD. I'm not going to lie, there was very little speaking during this meal...a sure sign of an out-of-the-park win! C, who has recently started to enjoy peanut butter, could barely contain his enthusiasm while eating this dish, and was wolfing it down as fast as I could cut it up to bite sized pieces! I think it's safe to say this recipe will be making an appearance again in our weeknight meal plan!

Recipe from Carlsbad Cravings

THAI PINEAPPLE PEANUT CHICKEN SATAY | Yield: 10 skewers | Marinating Time: 1 hr-overnight | Prep & Grill Time: 30min


2 lbs chicken (4-6 breasts) chopped into bite sized pieces
1 fresh pineapple, chopped into 1" pieces
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 C lite coconut milk
1/4 tsp cornstarch
1/3 C crunchy peanut butter

1/3 C pineapple juice
1/4 C soy sauce
1/4 C brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp lime juice
1-2 tsp sriracha
1 tsp dry basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper

Garnish (optional):
Crushed peanuts
Green onions
Lime Juice


MARINADE: In a medium bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients. Add 1/4 C of this marinade and 3 Tbsp olive oil to a large freezer bag along with chopped chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator 1 hr up to overnight.

TO GRILL: Soak wooden skewers at least 30 minutes in water before grilling. Drain marinade from chicken, and thread chicken and pineapple onto skewers. Grill over medium-high heat for 5 minutes on one side, or until slightly charred, then flip and grill until chicken is cooked through and slightly charred.

TO OVEN BROIL: Soak wooden skewers at least 30 minutes in water before broiling. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the skewers in a single layer and broil, turning every five minutes until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.

THAI PEANUT SAUCE: Add reserved Thai Peanut Pineapple Sauce to a small saucepan and whisk in cornstarch and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter. Sauce should be thick and spreadable. If too thick, whisk in some more coconut milk to reach desired consistency. Add Sriracha, lime, or brown sugar to taste.

Brush grilled kebabs with sauce, top with crushed peanuts or other garnishes, or use as dip. 

Serving suggestion: Cilantro Lime Rice
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