It’s been a while since I’ve updated but life in the Rivers’ household has been extremely busy. We spent a few month apart due to Koryn attending a school for the Army. We made a surprise trip out to Texas to see Koryn for the first time in almost 4 months. We got to spend a little family time in Texas before driving back to Tennessee. Finally, we went home to Florida for Christmas break! That’s just a little of what we’ve been up to these few months.
Yesterday, we had a nice surprise and had a snow day! We woke up Friday morning to the news school was closed and we would get to stay home and play in the snow! Friday morning the ice was getting worse then by mid afternoon the snow was falling! We spent hours outside in the snow. We tried, and failed, to build a snowman, we ran up and down the street taking turns pulling Mackenzie around in her sled, and we dug our car out of the snow.
Mackenzie LOVED playing in the snow and did not want to come in when we were done! She had so much fun running around the yard, trying to throw snowballs at us, and jumping into piles of snow.
I’m so glad we were able to enjoy this snow day as a family and have fun relaxing and playing outside. One of my new year’s resolutions is to be more active on this blog. We have a lot of big changes coming to our family over these next few months and blogging in just one way to help our family get through everything. If there are any topics you want us to write about, please let me know below!
It has been a while since I posted anything here so I have a little bit of updating to do! First off, I’m so excited to say for the past few months I have been working! I got a job teaching at a local Montessori school and I am so excited about this. Since I am now working full-time, Mackenzie has also had the opportunity to go to the same school where I work. She has grown so much since starting school and this has been such a great opportunity for both of us. Secondly, Koryn has been away for a little while now and our family will not be together again for a few more weeks/months.
We have faced so many adjustments and changes in the past few months but it has been better for our family in the long run. With all of that being said, today’s post is all about our back-to-school/work survival kit and favorites. Adjusting to working again and have a toddler in school full time all while being alone is so new to us and we learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work for our family.
The first thing we could not live without for school is essential oils! We use Plant Therapy oils and LOVE the roll-on bottles. The ones we keep on hand and use almost daily are lavender, nighty night, germ fighter, germ destroyer, and sniffle stopper! I get mine from Amazon but we also get coupons all the time from their site! Ebates is offering a 3.75% cash back right now and you can sign up using my link and get $10! Our nighty night and lavender are used nightly in our household.
The second product we LOVE are the planet wise reuseable ziplock bags. We have them in several pattern and sizes. These are perfect for school snacks and snacks on the go. We use their sandwich bags and snack size bags almost daily. Personally, we use the zipper bag versus the velcro ones but we do have some of each!
Our third must have is the Squeasy pouch! Mackenzie loves to eat applesauce and smoothies and this is the perfect item for this! These are so easy to wash and even easier to fill up! I was so tired of buying the applesauce pouches that you throw away so these made our lives so much easier and I can’t wait to get more!
These past two months have been have huge change for us but it has been so great. We have loved being able to get out of the house and Mackenzie is learning so much. I cannot wait until Koryn comes home and we can spend the holidays together as a family.
Today is an open topic and I’ll be touching base on something I’ll expand on in a later post. At first, I had no idea what i wanted to write about for today until I woke up and dreaded washing diapers today. It wasn’t because it’s time consuming, because it’s actually pretty quick. It wasn’t because drying takes forever, because it really doesn’t take long at all. But it was because I miss my old diapers and miss the convince for throwing them in the washing machine and dryer and letting the machines do all the work.
That’s when it hit me, this is what the challenge is really about. Many families struggle to provide diapers for their children and for some hand washing is the only way to provide diapers for their children. One of the purposes of this challenge was to show using cloth diapers can be easily done without a washing machine or dryer and that it could be done on a budget. As much as I love this challenge and what I am learning, I can’t wait for next week when we can get back to our other diapers and wash routine! If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below.
You have grown up so much in the past month and I can’t believe that you are almost one years old. In the past month, you have become a pro at walking and running and every time we go somewhere you want to be put down to run and play. We have made so much improvement in your sign language! Right now you love to sign ‘more’, ‘milk’, and ‘all done’. You have become quite the adventurous little girl and give me a heart attack every time I see you climbing something new.
Some days you’ll sit by yourself with all your toys around you playing and exploring while other days you just want to snuggle with me and eat your milkies. We are still breastfeeding and have no plans to stop anytime soon. You love to eat everything we give you and can clear a plate i no time at all! We have finally found a sippy cup that you can use and you love carrying it around with you! You have a new found love for music and love to dance and sing to any song that comes on the radio. Right now, you love the songs from Moana and the Pretty Little Liars theme song. Your sleeping habits still haven’t changed and you love to sleep just as much as I do. Currently, you have two more bottom front teeth, two molers, and at least two top teeth coming in but they don’t seem to bother you at all.
Planning for your first birthday party is in full swing and I am looking forward to celebrating your first birthday with all our friends and family. It’s no surprise that our little mermaid is have a mermaid theme pool party for her first birthday.
Everyday when your Baba and I look at you we see how smart and beautiful you are and how you are turning into a toddler right before our eyes. You have been our greatest adventure and we are so lucky to be your parents. We cannot wait to see what this next month brings.
For months now, I have been going back and forth on this blog post. I would type out what I wanted to say or what I was feeling only to delete it. I would read other blogs about mothers struggling with postpartum depression (PPD) and think they are so strong to be able to write about what they are feeling. It has been 9 months of fighting my PPD/PPA and I’m still extremely nervous to make this post public and talk about my struggle with PPD.
When Mackenzie was born, it was the most amazing feeling ever. We were finally parents. Everything we hoped, wished, and prayed for finally came true as we held this little girl in our arms. The next few weeks were a blur but I could feel myself getting more and more agitated and upset with every little thing. I spent most of my days crying for no reason and wondering what was wrong with me. I would stay in bed all day just nursing Mackenzie and only getting up to change her diaper. Every day I was falling deeper and deeper into a hole and I was so unsure of how to dig my way out of it. I heard about baby blues and thought “Okay that’s what I have and this will just pass.” But that wasn’t the case, at least not for me. I went to my 6 week postpartum check up and filled out the questionnaire about how I was feeling and even before this I just knew what I was going through wasn’t normal. I could have lied and said everything was great but I knew it wasn’t and I knew I needed help. I was finally admitting to myself and other that I had postpartum depression. I was diagnosed with PPD and given a few options on ways to help treat it. One of those options was medication and with my midwife we agreed this would be the best start for me. I have since been off the medication for many months now but some days are still extremely difficult for me.
Looking back at pictures and videos from when Mackenzie was first born or those first few weeks is still hard for me. There are some things I just don’t remember about her birth and coming home. There are things my mind has blocked out. Many of those early days were a blur. Sometimes I can look at the picture and remember what was going on that day but other times it’s a blank.
If you know someone who has recently had a baby, please reach out to them. Even if you are just checking to see how they are doing. I struggle with my PPD alone and it was very hard. My support system was very limited and not having anyone to talk to or relate to made it more difficult for me to find my village. I am so lucky I had my wife there by my side every step of the way. She was and will always be my number one supporter and without her by my side I don’t know how I would have made it through everything. I am very lucky I was able to get the help I needed and can enjoy Mackenzie was enjoy her growing up. She is my entire world and I would do anything for her which makes writing this post even more important to me. I want others to know they are not alone, they do not have to go through motherhood or parenthood alone, asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Sometimes asking for help will be the strongest thing you will ever do. I plan on writing more about PPD in the future but in the meantime I will leave some resources below but I am always available to talk.
We decided that we would NOT do baby food or baby cereal with Mackenzie when she was finally ready to start solids. We always knew we would never do baby cereal but finding out about baby led weaning just made it more clear to skip all baby food. We found out about a method called baby led weaning (BLW) and it was perfect for us! BLW is not a new concept but you could imagine the looks we got when people found out our 6 month old was eating whatever we were eating. Her first meal was chicken, rice, and peas. Here are other great ideas for BLW meals. No baby mush just straight table food. The first few weeks were hard since she wasn’t really interested in eating. She did a lot of playing (aka throwing food all over the floor) and lots and lots of gagging, which is completely normal.
BLW is done when the baby is around 6 months old, they can sit up unassisted, they have lost their tongue-thrust reflex, they developed a pincher grasp, they are ready and willing to chew, and eager to participate in mealtime. Teeth are not a requirement for BLW. Mackenzie just got her first two teeth a few weeks ago and has been able to eat everything we have given her without any issues. Recommendations say these should all be meet in order to start BLW but each child is different so some of these ‘requirements’ might not appear until the baby is older. Looking back on it we could have held off a little bit on giving Mackenzie food but now at almost 9 months old she eats any and everything you give her.
With BLW, babies feed themselves instead of being spoon fed. But what about foods that need spoons? Well that’s easy, you preload the spoon and give it to your baby and they feed themselves. With BLW, babies learn to chew their food than swallow and they control how much food they eat. It’s pretty awesome watching a 6 or 7 month old eating table food. The only foods to avoid are honey and foods that are choking hazards such as nuts. New studies now say the earlier you introduce foods the less likely of food allergies.
BLW is messy, but that’s to be expected. We bought this highchair from IKEA and it is very easy to clean. We just take it to the shower and hose it off. Mealtime is usually just done in a diaper so if she does get messy we just bathe her. Learning the difference between choking and gagging was hard at first but after the first few times it was clear she did a ton of gagging. After reading and talking to many parents who do BLW, I think the biggest piece of advice I have seen is to learn the difference between the two. I love that we are able to give Mackenzie what we are eating and learn about what she likes and dislikes. We have only had one slight allergic reaction since we started but I’m hoping when we try again it will go a little better!
From the time I became pregnant, not breastfeeding was never an option for me as long as I was able to breastfeed. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed and always planned on doing so for at least the first year. That all changed once I had Mackenzie. The first two weeks were horrible when it came to breastfeeding. They were full of tears from both me and Mackenzie, full of cracked and bleeding nipples, full of dealing with my oversupply and overactive letdown, and full of love. I remember there were nights when I was so upset with how painful nursing was that I told my wife to just get formula for Mackenzie. She said no way and together we all figured out how to fix our issues. Through it all I was able to push through with the support from my amazing wife and make it past those first two weeks.
From then on, breastfeeding became more and more natural and easier for both of us. I still was figuring out how to handle my oversupply and worked on building a freezer stash since I was so worried something would happen and I would not be able to nurse anymore. This is when the pumping started. I had thousands of ounces of milk stored up and eventually our deep freezer became my milk freezer. The fear of not being able to breastfeed was always in my mind so pumping became more and more regular. The downside to all of this was the Mackenzie does not use bottles so I had a freezer full of milk that was just sitting there. Then I found out about two awesome facebook groups, Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets. Each state has their own page and you can make a post looking for milk to donate or milk for your little one.
I have been able to donate to 8 or 9 families/babies in the past few months. All of the moms I have donated to have been found on those facebook pages. I have been so lucky to be able to help other moms and babies. Yes, I could have easier signed up through a milk bank to sell my milk but there was no way I could do that when there are so many moms who need the milk for their babies for so many reasons.
It has been over 8 months now and we are still breastfeeding. Mackenzie still does not take bottles and my freezer stash is now smaller than it has been for months. My pump has been put away since Thanksgiving and now we just spend our days side nursing. Our breastfeeding journey has been fairly easy with no major hurdles to overcome. I am so glad I have been able to nurse for this long and hope for many, many more months of nursing our sweet little girl.