Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weaning Woes

Disclaimer- this blog post is about breastfeeding. If it makes you uncomfortable or you are grossed out by this natural feeding process you can stop reading. 

If you want to hear my journey, then read on!

So Teach Academy is on our Christmas vacation so I thought my posts might be few and far between, but I decided I really wanted to write about a big change in Ellison and I's life: weaning.

I realized that I have spent the majority of the last almost 10 years either pregnant or breastfeeding! That is about 4 years of breastfeeding and 3 total years (9 months x 4 babies) actually being pregnant so I'm owning my feelings and writing them out.

Ellison is 17 months old. She just weaned, like literally just weaned, like as in yesterday. I have been so ready for her to wean (I thought). She has nursed the longest of any of my babies. Cian was the next longest at 13 months, but the only feeding he did that last month after turning 1 was at 4 a.m. so I was ready to let that go, LOL!

Each kid is different and each experience is different. If you didn't breastfeed, I know you can sympathize with weaning, but it's not the same. Grace was on formula from age 5 months on due to bad back-to-work transition advice that left her only wanting a bottle of breastmilk and I personally wasn't going to be able to pump for 7 months while working. I didn't know I could do both; I wish someone had told me. It sounds stupid, but I thought they were mutually exclusive. I wish I had done formula during daycare and breast at night, but I didn't know I could do both and breastfeeding her ended then. So with that child, I did both breast and formula. So I feel I can make the statement having done both, and say they are not the same. I don't judge anyone for choosing formula, this post is not that debate at all. I'm talking about weaning from breastfeeding and that overwhelming joy and sadness that comes with it. When you stop formula it is easy. The pediatrician says they can have cows milk and you rejoice over not having to mess with that powder crap and measuring it and carrying it everywhere. I know I did with Grace when she turned 1. Breastfeeding is so different! There is no right or wrong time to stop and it is so different with each baby and each mother. Plus we pay our dues for the bond we get. I can't count how many times my formula feeding mom friends would get their little ones to sleep through the night so early. Mine were all in the double digit months before they slept through the night. And the mid-night feedings and lack of sleep... Ellie began not waking for a feeding only last month- at 16 months! Plus the leaking, the clogged ducts, the discomfort at first, etc, etc... So why do it you ask? Well, for me, it was the closest bond to my child imaginable. Knowing that you and only you sustained them. Hearing at the first doctor's visit they gained their birth weight back (or more) and knowing you did that! Knowing that you are giving them the best food there is for them. Ellison never had a bottle once in her life so I'm not sure where she heard the word, but she called breastfeeding "ba-ba" or "ma-ma ba-ba." Knowing she was comforted by me and nursing her, her eyes and mine locked, while her little hand wrapped around my index finger, it's not explainable.
It's worth it.

I am overwhelmed with emotion. I was ready, but not. My 3rd child, who is headstrong to this day!, decided at 10 months she was DONE! Well, it was a horrible end for me and I tried everything to get her to nurse the last two months to age one and she refused. She loved breast milk, but from a bottle. So, I did what she wanted and pumped for two months. Not the beautiful, child-led weaning I had wanted. So when we were pregnant with Ellie I had big expectations for it ending better this time. And it did, I waited until she was ready. Not forced her at 12 months to the day because my pediatrician said "this is the time most people wean." Not forced her earlier so I could go out for an amaretto sour with my gal pals (although that does sound good!). And DEFINITELY not for those Nosy Nellie's in my life (and everyone's life) that ask questions they shouldn't and dare to ask "Haven't you weaned that baby yet?" with all their judgment. I've done it our way. My baby's and mine. I've been patient and it's been worth it.

I guess I'm realizing that no matter when it happens there is that element of bittersweet. I am so proud of my sweet little toddler switching to her "Dora juice" because she is "SO BIG!"


But at the same time, as every parent knows, it is so hard to put a chapter of their childhood behind you. They grow too darn fast. My baby is no longer a baby. As I type, and tear, and leak, I decide I am thankful for these darn hormones going wacko. They are the same hormones that made the milk for her in the first place. I reached out to friends who have been "in the same boat" on facebook and hearing kind words really touched me. I am not alone. It is a journey many moms who nursed feel. I also found a great article last night. I was looking for the physical process on weaning and it actually talked about the mental and emotional impact of weaning which really touched me. I recommend it to anyone also going through the weaning process:

Here is one thing it said:
 "Even for mothers who feel ready for weaning and wean gradually, there may still be some sense of loss and sadness. Weaning marks the end of a physical oneness with your child, the close of a very special period in your lives. Remember that your child’s strong need for your presence continues, even if it is now expressed in other ways."

Just now, as I told Ellie, "Let's get you in your highchair to eat lunch." She took her little fingers and wrapped them around my index finger. She looked up and me with love and that big huge grin of hers and I knew.
I knew I will always be her mom and she will ALWAYS be my baby.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Things I like this week

 I like smiles. I like that I finally caught one of Ellie's on my camera and it's only semi-blurry.

I like mid-week field trips! This was such a fun field trip! We went bowling! They gave a tour of the back of the bowling alley and how the pins and ball return work. Physics lesson anyone ;-)

I did not like my bowling score. Talk about rusty! Yikes! I think I got a 54? LOL!

I like that I found the older kids' Leap Frog Farm and Car wash  magnets! Ellie LOVED them! 
I like that yesterday she played with them on her own for almost 30 MINUTES!! 
It doesn't really sound like a big deal, but since I normally end up teaching a good bit of the day holding a cute little 20 lb. arm weight named Ellie, it was a nice chance to get some more one-on-one in with the other kids.

It's blurry because she was dancing!
She moved all the pieces out to the floor to dance with her. I think?!?
She pushed the music button and danced away!

 I like that we have moved in the country. Our new house is kind of an oxymoron, we live in a small subdivision in the country. I like that we see deer all the time now. This picture was from my car window so it looks like a dog, but it was actually 5 deer crossing the road into the woods.

I like that the kids are doing so great with homeschooling.
I like this new app we use called Stack the States. They learn about the states and geography.
We have been learning about a state each week and even Zoe is interested in them. This week we learned about Indiana. I picked it because they have a town called Santa Claus, which the kids thought was pretty cool.
I don't like that Cian and Grace can beat me on the Map It! part. Perhaps even worse is Zoe is about to pass my score too! Ugg! I know back in the day I aced the fill in the state names, but apparently I am incapable of doing it without their border outlines. Yikes! Give it a try for a great laugh. Until your kids beat you, not so funny then. :-)

I like that the only thing I had break in our move was the original Leap Frog Letter Phonics! (So far that is... I still have more boxes!) I replaced it yesterday and Ellie is enjoying it too. She likes to "sing" along with it as it sings the alphabet song.
This one cracks me up! She's in motion dancing so it's blurry but it was so funny I had to add it. 
Flash back to the 80's boom box anyone??

Ellie has recruited Zoe to her dance party. They merged the alphabet song and Ring Around the Rosey. After the ABC song ends they "all fall down."

I like that Ellie likes books!
She FINALLY will sit still and hear a book now.
She also has started to "read to herself" which is SOO adorable. (meaning she will turn the pages and babble about them)

I like Dora the Explorer. For the moment anyway. She gets a bit annoying. Ellie is such a fan of her though. She loves her books and gets to watch her show when she wakes at the crack of dawn so Brian or I can drift back to sleep on the couch while she watches Dora in her playpen.

 I like this photo.
I like that she looks so small next to the basketball.
My baby is growing too fast :-(

I like this photo my aunt took of my grandparents.
It is bittersweet in that my grandma has started hospice care.
However, this photo is so beautiful.
They have been married for over 60 years and that is also beautiful.

I like that we are getting closer and closer to Christmas. 
I also like that today is our last school day before Christmas break!
(Ellie was sleeping when we took this, that's why she's not in it.)
This was the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas when the kids hung their stockings.

Speaking of Ellie sleeping, I also like that she still takes a nap! (so I can post all these pictures to my blog!)

Monday, December 3, 2012


Our Advent Activities

I love Advent! It is a time of waiting, a time of anticipation, and a time of preparation. We prepare our houses and most importantly, our hearts, for the coming of Christ. 

The world today is in such a rush. It seems like in years past the Christmas items would hit stores right before Thanksgiving. This year at one super chain store one aisle had Halloween candy and the next aisle over they were putting out Christmas stuff!

This Saturday past (one day BEFORE the first Sunday of Advent), in another store, the entire Christmas section was on 60% off and many items were already on clearance.

Every year we have tried to incorporate family traditions for Advent and Christmas. Some have been more successful than others... Since we keep our tree until the end of the Christmas season (which is not December 26th!), we tried to go and buy our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Well, the lot was abandoned and closed down, oops! A sign said free by some pre-cut trees laying on the ground, so we put some money in the donation box and got a tree, but missed on the tradition of cutting one down that year. Now we put our tree up the first Sunday of Advent, but don't fully decorate it. Each Sunday of Advent we add a part of the tree such as lights one week, ornaments another, gifts below it one week, you get the idea.

Here are some of the other Advent traditions our family is doing this year:

I got this little tree on clearance THIS WEEKEND and it is our Jesse Tree for Advent

Here is one of our Jesse Tree ornaments we are using (from

Another thing we do: set up the animals only in our Little People manger

Mary and Joseph get to journey around our house during Advent! The kids love moving them around!

They started their journey this year on our printer, LOL! 

We celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas on December 6th - more to come then!

Our Advent calendar

Cian's turn to open a window

Add caption

This little guy is a fun addition to our Advent. He does arrive here on the first Sunday of Advent. Lol!

This is also new this year! A Charlie Brown tree!

I love this line and think it is a great reflection for Advent: 
“I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It's not bad at all, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.” – Linus Van Pelt, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

Who or what do I know is like this little tree?
Who or what in my life just needs a little love?
How can I give of myself this Advent to those in need?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Super SIX Birthday Boy!

Today is Cian's 6th Birthday!

My little boy is not so little anymore! He is 6 years old and all 6 years have been such a blessing in our lives. That "little" 9 lbs 13 oz baby has brought endless smiles, laughter and love. He is this great mix of an "all-boy" boy (which is a good when he has 3 sisters!), yet is such a kind, sensitive soul. He is my one who will tear up during movies such as Up! or Toy Story. He is smart as whip and keeps me on my toes! The compassion in this tiny little guy moves me to tears. I am truly blessed to be his mother!

Some fun activities for Cian's birthday:

We were excited my brother and mother joined us for Thanksgiving last weekend and we had a great feast. (Since we celebrate his birthday near Thanksgiving every year I always wonder if he thinks the meal is for him! Next year when his birthday is ON Thanksgiving, I'm sure that will be really confusing, lol!)

After we were as stuffed as a turkey, he opened some presents:
Posing with a present
Pillow Pet T Rex!

(Note to self: Get Ellie a box for Chirstmas, lol!)

Today, on his actual birthday, we attend a homeschool field trip to a vet's office. It was very fun! 

X-ray of a pregnant dog!

Kitty Ultrasound!
Operating Room

Then after the field trip, some of the families were able to come to McDonald's with us to play in the kids' area and enjoy some Cars cupcakes!

Yep, I think he had a fun birthday!

Friday, November 9, 2012

To Space! Then: bubbles, water, air, and more!

We had a BLAST at our field trips this week!!

This week the kids and I attended a homeschooling group field trip to the Planetarium! It was out of this world! (sorry, couldn't resist!)  The kids had so much fun!! They had been to a star lab earlier in the month and we had borrowed the DK Children's Night Sky Atlas from the library so they were super excited to go!!  Even Zoe was a huge fan!! The kids got binoculars as souvenirs and have been examining everything since!

Today, we went on another field trip to a Children's Museum! They played in the bubbles, loved the water table, went shopping in the grocery store, flew an airplane, made Italian ice cream, fixed a car, were on the news, and more! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE children's museums!! 

This was also Ellie's 1st time to actually get down and RUN and PLAY!

Puppet show
Watching the squirrel outdoors
They had a blast with the pin board

Each of their hands in the pin board
Racing to beat the game

Grocery shopping

Wonder if she's suggesting I'm behind on the laundry?!

Bubble Table

Water table

Growing a garden

Fixing the car

Zoe the EMT


Aren't you a little young to drive??

Ellie's favorite part- the babies. She only dropped the baby once... he's still smiling.

Cian on the crutches in the hospital area

Jumbo Operation Board Game!

"It's electric, do do, doo do do doo do"

Cian and Grace as the news anchors

Cian and Ronald
Zoe and Ronald

Ellie to Cian, "Look out Cian, it's a creepy clown!!"