I have always loved participating in Halloween activities. Watching horror films, eating candy, and dressing up, was always something I looked forward to as a child. As an adult, not much has changed lol. Although I definitely don’t eat candy like I used to and rarely have an opportunity to dress up, I still enjoy getting into the”spirit” of Halloween. Checking out haunted houses, playing scary laser tag, and zombie paint balling is totally up my alley. Having a child though, who isn’t necessarily old enough to go trick or treating, (or participate in some of the aforementioned activities) led me to seek out some alternatives to my more traditional Halloween rituals.
Below are a few ideas for family friendly fall and Halloween activities
Go to a Pumpkin Patch-there are often many other activities beyond seeing or picking a pumpkin. Hay rides, games corn maze etc.
Go apple picking- Fall is the perfect season for it. I’ve never been but I hear it’s awesome. I definitely plan on visiting am or hard in the future.
Attend a Fall Festival -Popcorn, cotton candy, rides, caramel apples.. Do you need more convincing ?
Visit a local church -They may host family friendly activities, especially for families who do not celebrate Halloween. A church near me hosts a “Trunk or Treat”, where people decorate the trucks of their cars, park on the church grounds and hand out candy to kids
Dress up at home and take pictures for memories your child will cherish
Go to the Library -check with your local branch to see if they do any storytelling or have any special activities planned for the season
Do a DIY art project. -Try Painting or carving pumpkins! Just be sure to do it outside or in a properly covered/prepared area, in anticipation of a lot of splatter.. Things could definitely get messy.
Hopefully these ideas are helpful to you and you have an awesome fall and Halloween!!!
During the month of October, eSalon, an online custom hair color brand delivering custom color to your doorstep, is donating a portion of their proceeds to CancerCare. CancerCare is a national organization that provides professional support services and information at no cost to individuals and families affected by cancer. They help 180,000 people each year by providing services such as counseling, support groups, financial assistance, and educational workshops. When I saw that eSalon was making such a great commitment to #SpreadHope by supporting CancerCare and their cause, I knew I wanted to share my own story to help #SpreadHope as well.
I’m Tenille. Over the years I’ve held many titles and had many roles: visual artist, singer, sister, friend, flight attendant, songwriter, and social worker, just to name a few. My newest role is “mom” to a beautiful 1 year old girl. My oldest role is daughter, to an amazing woman named Neva. Although she is no longer living, her love, strength, and guidance has made the greatest impact on me and molded me into who I am today.
In 2013, I was in a studio session recording music, when my mother called me and asked me to come home because she wasn’t feeling well. I left that session and found my mother writhing in pain in her bed and holding her stomach. I stayed with her that night, rubbing her back, and doing whatever I could to ease her pain. Fast forward to June 2014, my mother called me, this time after I had gotten to my new home in another state from my job as a flight attendant. She told me that she had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer).
Cholangiocarcinoma or Bile duct cancer is an aggressive form of cancer with only about 2,500 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. It is a slow-growing cancer that is often diagnosed late in the disease process, after the bile ducts become blocked and symptoms resulting from the blockage arise.
I flew to visit her almost immediately. When I arrived, she greeted me at the door at least 20lbs lighter than she was 2 months prior and with neon yellow eyes. She was jaundiced and losing weight because she could not keep food down. We sat down at the kitchen table and she asked me, “Do I look different?” I said “yes” and cried. I knew then that life as I knew it would change. But I didn’t know how quickly or how drastically it would.
My mother, younger sister, and I went to doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment waiting to hear news that would give us hope. My mother received a stent procedure to alleviate some of her symptoms. We were told that the tumor surrounding her bile ducts was inoperable. She was given medication for nausea, pills to increase her potassium levels, and pain pills (none of which she could keep down), and treated for dehydration…Sick of this cycle, we sought out a specialty cancer hospital.
At this time, my mother was severely dehydrated, in and out of consciousness, and going into septic shock. The first day we brought her to the specialty cancer hospital, she was immediately admitted to their inpatient facility. There, she received an emergency surgical repair of a hole in her stomach. She was also treated for sepsis, put on tpn (total parenteral nutrition), and given time to recover. She eventually received a jejunostomy which improved her ability to eat and drink by mouth. After months in the hospital, she was eventually able to come home. I had already taken leave from my job as a flight attendant to care for her, and eventually resigned.
As a songwriter, I often wrote about love, but I truly learned about real love in caring for my mother. She started taking chemo treatments after she had recovered from her surgeries and gained most of her weight back. We saw glimmers of hope when receiving updates from the results of her chemo treatments. Those glimmers were fought back with new infections, and new hospital admissions…then all of her hair came out. Soon we were told that the chemo was too dangerous to give her and that she was no longer a candidate for treatment. We eventually chose to provide hospice care at home. With much support from friends and family, she was able to thrive at home until she passed away on January 29, 2016.
Beauty in the Battle
My mother was a beautiful person inside and out. She could make you laugh, give you great advice, and she made friends wherever she went. At the hospital, she made friends with most of the nurses and staff. Although she was battling bile duct cancer, she kept a positive attitude and shared plenty doses of her humor. She was a devoted Christian and found hope in reading and hearing scriptures from the Bible.
When her hair fell out, she didn’t want to look at herself in the mirror. What was happening to her was not her. She still put on lipstick and a scarf or cap and kept pushing. Somehow, she often seemed at peace amidst the storm raging about her. When I really think about it, aside from her religious/spiritual foundation, I believe she found peace in knowing that she had equipped her daughters with everything she could to ensure that we were able to survive and thrive in life.
I believe my mother found comfort in knowing what she was leaving behind: Her legacy. She had given her all, poured into us her unconditional love, her gifts and talents, her love for music, her skillful cooking, her resourcefulness, her wit, humor, and charm. She was confident that we would be able to take everything she left behind and use it to better navigate this world.
The Importance of What We Leave Behind
Death is inevitable, for everyone. There is no hiding and no running from it. We will all go, somehow, someway. But what I believe is more important is how we live and what we leave behind when we go. What is your legacy? What parts of you will people hold onto when you’re gone and why? Did you inspire them? Did you teach them something valuable? Were you kind? Did you help them to have hope?
I urge you to pack up hate, fear, pridefulness, anger, unforgiveness, selfishness, and stubbornness. Don’t take it with you, but send it far, far away. I encourage you to leave behind all your love,… shower people with it, leave it in little notes or in the things you do. Give out hugs, leave behind a history of kindness and being good to people. Leave behind your knowledge, your wisdom and all the lessons so that someone can learn from them. Leave behind your smile so someone will remember it and do the same. I encourage you to #SpreadHope
Being a caregiver is hard. It requires time and patience, selflessness, physical strength, mental strength, and more. Having experienced being a caregiver for my mother, who battled Bile Duct Cancer, I thought I’d share just a few tips I learned during our journey. Hopefully, these tips will be useful if you are or ever will be someone’s caregiver.
12 Ways to be an Awesome Caregiver
Keep them encouraged.
If u can imagine, having a diagnosis of a terminal illness can be incredibly depressing. So can coping with aging, as well as battling any illness. Be a light, offer scripture, or words of encouragement. Outlook is everything. Promoting a positive outlook can truly benefit everyone involved.
Spend Quality Time
Spend quality time with the person you are caring for, not just time caring for them. Participate in activities that are “normal” and that don’t keep the focus on their illness. Enjoy a movie, a stroll outside if possible, or a simple conversation. My mom wanted to go to a baseball game and try to eat a hot dog. Now, I wish we would’ve tried that.
Listen to, and try to really be supportive of what they want to do. Talk with them about their wishes and do your best to honor them. Sometimes, people really just need to feel heard and respected and want their opinions and feelings to be considered.
Use Your Best Judgement
When you are a caregiver, understand that sometimes you may have to consider whether or not the person you are caring for has the ability to make certain decisions for themselves. You may not always have the answer for every situation or solution to every problem, but trust yourself to make the best decision possible.
Understand and Help with Pain Management
Help them to manage their pain and discuss their goals for pain management. Inquire about level of pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Use an alarm as a reminder to administer meds. A caregiver should consult patient’s/loved one’s doctor or medical team for specific instructions.
If they are able, Promote their ability to control certain aspects of their lives. Choosing what to wear, choosing activities to participate in, reading their own cards, sorting their own mail, etc.
Don’t Take Things Personally
Sometimes, when people are ill, on certain medications, are under stress, they may say and or do things that could hurt your feelings if you allow them to. Remain compassionate, empathetic, and forgiving. Ex. They may not have an appetite or refuse food, this doesn’t mean that your cooking is bad.
Be Considerate and Kind
Some things you will see/ have to do/ experience as a caregiver may be less than pleasant. Consider the fact that it is also embarrassing/unpleasant for the person you are caring for. Try to make the situation as easy as possible for them by trying to smile or by being unbothered by the situation.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Personal Maintenance
Keeping hair, skin, nails, teeth, etc. maintained can be very important to your loved ones self confidence. Doing your best to maintain a neat, personal appearance sets the tone for how others may care for your loved one as well.
Sometimes conventional approaches will not work. Practice thinking around obstacles to problems you may face and consider alternative methods to achieving specific goals. Ex. My mom couldn’t hold down solid food well, so we tried homemade smoothies, which she was able to tolerate and actually enjoyed.
As a caregiver, you handle so much. If the person you are caring for has expenses, bills, etc. make a list/spreadsheet of each bill, amount,due dates, how they have been paying, and if possible, try to start paying bills online.
Write everything down, preferably in one place.
If you are the primary person who handles decisions regarding the person you are a caregiver for, consider obtaining power of attorney. (You can download a form online, buy one at an office supplies store, and will need witnesses and a notary to sign)
Take Time to Constantly Take Care of Yourself.
To give the best care, you must be strong mentally, physically, and emotionally. Ask a few trusted friends, family members, church members, etc. to watch over your loved one while you do something for you. Below are two tips that can also promote self care:
Use Available Resources
Seek out available community, state, or government/federal resources which may offer respite care (for caregiver), financial assistance, additional personal care options, prepared meals, light cleaning and home maintenance, transportation, etc.
If you hire out help, take time to interview candidates. Watch their interaction with your loved one and your loved one’s response to them.
Other Practical Tips
Keep absorbency pads handy or around floor
Remove barriers to mobility or clutter in their space
Get a baby monitor so that you can hear if you’re in another room.
Keep them hydrated, consider keeping a table near with water
If you have trusted people coming in to help, consider getting a lock box where you can place spare keys and a code is required to open. Give 2 or 3 trusted people who are helping, the code.
When caring for the elderly or someone with a terminal illness, preparing for that person’s transition can be very difficult, for additional tips visit my post Death of a Loved One .
If there is anything you would add to this list, please comment below!
Healthy Habits| My Simple Self-Care Rituals with Kiwami Greens
Mommin’ ain’t easy and sometimes I look and feel more like the walking dead than my ideal upbeat self. Long days and long nights sometimes get the best of me, but I’m usually able kick myself back into gear with a little self care.
Whether that’s taking a walk, sitting in the bath, taking time out for me before my daughter wakes up in the morning, or after she goes to sleep… it’s something I do to make sure I’m the best version of myself.
Self care for me, also means staying on top of my diet and making sure I am getting the proper nutrition. I used to skip meals and eat whatever I could find, but since becoming a mom and becoming more health conscious, I make better choices when it comes to my diet. I usually eat 3 meals a day and have incorporated green juices into my daily diet. Whether I make them myself or purchase them bottled, I really do my best to make consuming them a daily practice.
Their juice blend is inspired by a traditional Japanese greens blend called Aojiru, which has amazing nutritional benefits. Using young barley leaves, ashitaba (a plant with vitamins B1, B2, and B6, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin E, used in traditional Japanese medicine), matcha, and sencha in a convenient pouch that you open and simply pour into a glass of water or milk, Kiwami Greens is making it easier than ever to add nutritious greens into your diet. It’s also an awesome way to get calcium, vitamins B, C, and E, iron, fiber, and folic and amino acids in your diet. Click here to learn about all the ingredients in Kiwami Greens.
I personally love the fact that this blend includes matcha and sencha leaves. As a part of my time for self care in the morning, I enjoy having a quiet cup of green tea for the mental boost it provides. Sencha and matcha green teas are some of the best to do the trick. Having all that in one blend would certainly give me more time for me. Check out all the benefits Kiwami Greens offers and while you’re at it, sign up for their monthly subscription box. (Sign up with one-time use promo code SUMMER10 for 10% off your first purchase) They will ship directly to your door, saving you time and money. Why not spend that time doing something good for you?
Here are some of my favorite things to do for me:
I usually take a walk at a nearby trail, park, or lake. Moving my body and breathing all that fresh air makes me feel alive.
See a great movie
When I get the opportunity, I like to cozy up in the recliners at my local theatre with a bag of (maybe not so good for me) popcorn. Hey! Don’t judge…
Read a good book
I’m really overdue for this one! Reading a good book is an escape like no other.
Take a warm bath
For me, this does an awesome job of melting away stress. A drop or two of an essential oil and I’m in heaven.
Oh how I miss the days where I could sleep without being jolted by the beautiful sound of a crying baby lol. When I do get the opportunity, sometimes I will take a good restorative nap.
These are just a few of the activities I enjoy as a form of self care. I’d love to hear what you do to take care of you!
Remember to check out Kiwami Greens and see how you can make a new healthy habit by incorporating them in your daily self care rituals.
Want a nourishing, moisturizing and strengthening hair mask all in one? An avocado hair mask will give you all these benefits and more. Sure you could find a prepackaged, one on the shelf but why not try a DIY avocado hair mask? Sure it’s a bit more mess, but it’s fresh, unprocessed, and you get the full benefit of each raw ingredient rather than a refined final product.
Avocado Hair Mask Ingredients (medium to long hair) (consider using less if your hair is shorter):
1 whole Avocado (mashed)
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Coconut Oil ( If you have fine/thin hair coconut oil may help strengthen it. But if your hair is thicker/coarse, coconut oil may make your hair more brittle and loead to damage. ) If coconut oil does more harm than good for your hair, leave it out completely or replace with another oil of your choice.
1 tablespoon Honey ( I use raw honey)
Stir all ingredients avocado hair mask until they are smooth. Apply to washed (towel/t-shirt dried hair) then cover with a shower cap for 30 minutes to an hour. I like to wrap a towel around my shower capped head for added heat/ penetration of the treatment into my hair.
The egg in this DIY avocado hair mask provides protein. The avocado also provides some protein, smoothes, moisturizes and coats hair with its natural oils. The honey in the recipe acts as a humectant, sealing in moisture. Coconut oil has vitamins and fatty acids that can be good for your hair, depending on your hair type.
I like to do a protein treatment for my hair about once a month …especially before and after a protective style that I may leave in for weeks at a time. This avocado hair mask combines the benefit of added strength and deep conditioning. Its a perfect combo for stronger, more moisturized hair.
For a brightening and firming face mask that delivers moisture and helps control acne, click here.
As a new mom, figuring out what/ how to feed my baby, as soon as I think I’ve found my groove, there’s a new milestone around the corner. Crawling is now turning into walking and it’ll be a whole new ballgame. Like graduating from crawling to walking, my daughter’s nutritional needs are becoming more complex. When she was younger, and exclusively breastfeeding, I only had to whip out a boob to meet her nutritional needs. Now I am buying organic fruit and vegetables, cooking some, mashing some, and puréeing others to make homemade vegan baby food. As I am adding a bit more complexity to her diet, and not yet wanting to introduce meat, I want to introduce more protein rich foods. I’ve done some research to find out how to add vegan protein in my baby’s diet.
Below are5 Vegan Protein options that work well for making homemade vegan baby food.
Green Peas – 8 grams of vegan protein per cup
Aside from packing a plentiful, protein punch, peas are rich in zinc, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C .
*Green peas can be steamed until tender, then mashed or puréed.
Black Beans – 15 grams of vegan protein per cup (can also use white or kidney beans)
Black beans can help build and maintain strong bones. Because they are high in fiber, they can prevent constipation. Selenium, saponins, and folate found in black beans can help prevent cancerous cell formation and tumor growth.
*To prepare beans, I soak in a bowl of water overnight then cook for about 40 min. Afterwards, with either the cooking water or fresh water, into the blender they go!
Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)- 13 grams of vegan protein per cup
These beans lower bad cholesterol, and are rich in folate, iron, calcium,and potassium. Contains selenium which helps ward off cancer. They are usually the main ingredient in hummus.
*Cook until tender then add to food processor or blender along with a bit of cooking water. I usually add some type of fruit purée ( mango, banana, nectarine) alongside a dish like this.
Quinoa – 8 grams per cup of vegan protein when cooked.
Quinoa is a “complete protein”, boasting all 9 essential amino acids. It’s gluten-free, high in antioxidants and fiber, and contains iron.
*To prepare, I rinse the quinoa first in a pot and strained water with a paper towel, boil then let simmer about 15 minutes till fluffy. This cooks similarly to rice. For Aven, I’ve been adding quinoa to mashed avocado with a hint of lime, lemon, or mango purée. This vegan baby food recipe is the most well liked so far.
Edamame (immature soy bean)- 16 grams of vegan protein per cup
Edamame is a good source of calcium, iron, and potassium. Is also a “complete protein” featuring all nine essential amino acids.
*Cook until tender then blend with a bit of cooking water.
If introducing soy, watch for signs of allergy, as some people are allergic to it. It has also been suggested that children should have no more than 2 servings of soy products a day.
I like to give my baby water after feeding her solids to help “move things along”.
*It is important to remember to either follow the instructions of your child’s doctor or do your own research on appropriate ages/stages to introduce vegan baby food and other foods to your baby.
Recently, Aven has been pulling herself up on various household items (the couch and her toys) to stand. She has taken her hands off whatever she was holding onto and stood unassisted for a few seconds. I know these are the first steps toward her learning to walk. I posted the featured photo for this post on Instagram along with the following caption. “You’re learning to stand and find your balance, which is definitely a set of skills you will need as you evolve and enter into the fullness of your divine destiny. Learning to stand, and finding balance always seems to prepare you for your next steps.” Reading it back to myself, I thought about how true that is in life, not just in childhood.
When a child is first learning to walk, they take a stand. Afterwards, they find that right balance that keeps them standing, and eventually they walk.
This process and milestone in childhood, is similar, in my opinion, to what we experience in adulthood. In life, especially when embarking on a new journey, (starting a business or new job, entering a marriage, pursuing academic goals or creative interests) we all need to first stand, then find balance, which prepares us to walk. Embracing, understanding, and knowing where we are in the completion of these steps is so important on the way to our ideal destination.
Standing (or Starting)
A child learns to stand by holding on to their parents, pulling up on furniture or other objects. In adulthood, we may have to rely on others, a temporary job, or some other form of support before we are fully equipped to stand on our own two feet.
Standing provides a brand new perspective and point of reference, for children and adults. It’s a starting point, and oftentimes, once you start , you will be well on your way toward achieving your goals. Standing in adulthood, for me, also means consistency, staying power, and the ability to stay focused and not be swayed by factors outside of your primary area of focus.
Finding Balance ( or Figuring it Out)
I like to think of this as getting in your groove. Not much beats the way you feel when you are doing what you are meant to do. It just feels right. Everything starts to line up beautifully. Stopping to really check in with yourself, removing distractions, and things/people/activities that are toxic to your wellbeing, all play a vital role in achieving balance. Finding balance, to me, also means becoming competent and confident with where you are and what you are doing, and also ready to accept new challenges. Not overwhelmed, not wobbling, but at peace and patiently awaiting the next move.
Walking (Doing )
Walking comes naturally, once you’re up on your own two feet and have found your balance. You can see clearly and execute the tasks at hand that are vital to your success.
Learning to walk is a freeing thing. Through practice, you deny limitations physically and figuratively.
After starting, and figuring things out, we are able to “Do” on a level that exhibits skill and mastery.
It is amazing seeing my daughter’s strength, consistency, and tenacity as she is learning to walk. Watching her inspires me, as I take on new challenges. Sometimes the student is the teacher. I will remember this lesson as I move forward : to stand, and find balance, as I myself, am learning to walk.
Once one has mastered learning to walk, they can run….even fly.
My Breastfeeding Journey:I can’t begin to count the hours I’ve spent breastfeeding my little one. I set a loose goal of wanting to breastfeed for at least a year, and we are only 3 months away from that milestone! Breastfeeding, for us, is truly a bonding experience. Seeing my baby look up at me with her big brown eyes, and watching her fall asleep being nourished through my body, is the greatest feeling. I knew from the beginning that breastfeeding was something I wanted to do and I prayed that I would be able to.
Although we both have gotten the hang of breastfeeding, the road has by no means, been without its bumps and bruises. (I’ve literally been, kicked, scratched, pinched, pulled, slapped, and bitten.) Our breastfeeding journey has been challenging but well worth it.
My Breastfeeding Journey: The Beginning
I started breastfeeding Aven in the hospital, after she was born, with help and guidance from lactation specialists. They kindly and respectfully stepped in the role I wished my mother was alive to participate in. I had previously attended a breastfeeding class, but still didn’t understand completely how to breastfeed successfully. The lactation specialists taught me how to burp my baby, explained how often I needed to feed her, and taught me different feeding positions.
Getting support from the lactation specialists gave me much-needed confidence and assurance in establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship. I believe every mother should have access to this type of support, whether in the hospital, in their community, or even online through resources such as the Happy Family Infant Feeding Platform, which offers live chat support from a team of certified lactation specialists, or, “Happy Mama Milk Mentors”. Their platform also provides products and support for supplementing and formula feeding. I would have loved additional support through a program like Happy Family’s, especially at the beginning of my breastfeeding journey.
The feeling of nursing took a lot of getting used to. Aven’s strong suckling triggered contractions in my uterus, which, for me was the most painful. I felt strong waves of cramps each time I nursed her. This was my uterus’ process of shrinking back to its normal size. I endured the pain of nursing and held on to the hope that after the first few weeks the pain would subside. And it did, eventually.
Once we were home from the hospital, I fed her as much as possible to drain milk from my breast and keep my supply up. I eventually learned to allow her to drain one breast then switch to the other side. My body became synced with her need to feed, and my breasts would fill with more milk at the two-hour mark, just before each feeding. Talk about mother instinct….
My Breastfeeding Journey: The Struggle
Most nights I sat up in the bed to feed my daughter and didn’t get any real sleep. Round the clock feedings every two hours were so tiring, I was a legit zombie. I remember wanting to lie down to feed her but I worried that it could be dangerous for her if I fell asleep with her in the bed.
Eventually, I tried feeding her lying down and haven’t looked back since. It was the first step in restoring my sanity that was chipping away from sleep deprivation. I kept the sheets, pillows, and comforter away from her to keep her as safe as possible. Also, I didn’t beat myself up with guilt if I fell asleep. When I did fall asleep, once I woke up, I’d put her back in her bassinet. I was previously terrified to co-sleep (until I realized it was more dangerous for me to keep trying to function with no sleep) but it honestly helped to support my breastfeeding goals.
Also, I had trouble understanding pumping and wanted to avoid it because of all I heard about “nipple confusion”. I really didn’t want anything to negatively affect my being able to breastfeed. One night, I decided to pump out milk so that Aven’s father would be able to feed her. I pumped everything out. I was happy with myself until shortly after, it was time for Aven to eat. She refused to drink from a bottle. She cried at my breast as nothing was coming out and I felt so defeated.
This was definitely one of those moments where I would have loved to talk to a lactation specialist. Eventually, Aven fell asleep and when my partner came home I broke down. Fatigue, frustration, and the feeling of failure got the best of me. His reassurance that my milk supply would replenish, was a simple truth that I was in too much of a fog to realize on my own.
I was terrified that I’d have to give my baby formula and blur the ideal picture I had in my head of what I wanted feeding to look like for my family. Thankfully, I didn’t have to supplement with formula, and my milk supply was replenished. I think it is important to have some flexibility in your ideals. Things happen that are out of our control. A lot of the anxiety and frustration we experience may be due to holding too tightly to fixed ideals and wanting things to play out the way we see them in our heads versus how they may present in reality.
Each family has its own, unique dynamic, and faces its own unique set of challenges and victories. The same is true for each family’s approach to child rearing. Feeding looks different in many different family units and each family deserves as much support as they can get. Happy Family seems to understand that need for support and offers valuable resources to meet the needs of every family figuring out feeding, all while celebrating the uniqueness of each families’ approach.
My Breastfeeding Journey: The Victory
So far, we’ve been on our breastfeeding journey for 9 months. My daughter has been breastfed at home, while walking, at festivals, in church, in the car (countless times), in front of family, in fancy restaurants, covered, uncovered, really anywhere we have been and feeding time was upon us. I’ve been blessed to be able to stay home with my daughter since she was born. This has helped tremendously in making breastfeeding my little one this long, a possibility. I salute all moms who make it work differently. The struggle is real and I can only imagine having to do it and balance a traditional work schedule. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come and excited to see all that the future will bring.
My Breastfeeding Journey: Moving Forward
Aven is now using a spoutless sippy cup with assistance and is eating solids in addition to breastmilk. She’s tried homemade mashed or pureed avocado, banana, mango (pictured below), blueberries, carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes, and broccoli (pictured below). Feeding can definitely get a little messy, but it’s working just fine for us right now.
Despite its challenges, breastfeeding has been the most natural course for us. I have peace of mind knowing that I am doing what is best for my baby. She hasn’t been sick, she’s gaining weight appropriately and thriving overall.
Our breastfeeding journey has undoubtedly strengthened our bond and helped me connect with her. It has also has given her and I the reassurance that I can meet her needs at the most basic level and beyond.
TIPS and Truths from my Breastfeeding Journey
Baby’s mouth should be wide over the areola versus just suckling at nipple.
If baby falls asleep immediately at feedings, gently rub baby’s cheek with your knuckle to stimulate the sucking reflex and encourage baby to stay somewhat awake, long enough to continue eating.
Once baby finishes drinking, try to pump remainder out into bottle to store.
Breastfed babies often eat every 2-3 hours, it may help to use an app on your phone to keep track (baby’s doctor will ask about feedings and waste output at check ups).
Check with your insurance, which should cover a breast pump (also check with your local WIC office about obtaining a breast pump if your qualify for their services)
When pumping, many women get more milk in the morning, after baby’s first feeding.
After frozen milk is thawed, it may have a soapy, sour, taste and smell …..(I hear you can avoid this by boiling milk prior to freezing, which reduces some nutritional value but may be more palatable for baby )
Around 3 months my daughter became easily distracted while feeding, making it difficult to breastfeed successfully. It helped to keep the room dark and eliminate as much noise as possible.
Aven wouldn’t take a bottle, so we tried spoon-feeding her. To my surprise, this worked! I’d pump then feed her the milk with a baby spoon.
Drinking teas that support nursing helps my milk supply, as well as eating greens, like spinach. I keep the tea bags in my purse and get hot water, lemon, and sometimes honey, from local restaurants or drive throughs or keep hot water in my canteen from home.
To combat nipple cracking and soreness, I used Shea butter and/or coconut oil, as well as my own breastmilk.
Since I’ve continued breastfeeding, I haven’t had a menstrual cycle.
Breastfeeding can help shrink mom’s uterus back to its normal size and help with weight loss.
Having patience is very important in order to succeed at breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is a sacrifice, of your body, time, and energy.
Every woman’s breastfeeding journey will be different.
The first cut is the deepest….. that song is playing over and over in my head and it actually applies to today’s message. Like the first cut may be the hardest to bear, the first step is usually the hardest to take. If you have a dream, which I know you do, why not go for it, and make it a reality? Sounds easier than it is, right?
While your dream may not come true in a day, week, month or even a few years, it is imperative that you remember this: Each small step in the direction of your dream counts. Think of it like building a pyramid. We are excited to get to the top but can easily become discouraged looking at how far the top is from the ground. If you start now, laying your foundation, brick by brick, you’ll be at least halfway done before you know it.
Think about the fact that tomorrow is not promised.
If you acknowledged the possibility that you could be on the other side tomorrow, what would you do with your time? What is important to you? Is there a legacy you would like to leave?
Acknowledge the urge to be overwhelmed by the big picture, then move past it, by focusing on a small action or step.
Choosing one thing to do today will get things into motion. Choosing at least one thing every day and Starting Now, will help you build momentum and habits that will support your end goal. Get focused (at least on one task even if it’s small) today.
There is beauty in knowing that each day you wake up, you have a new opportunity to do things differently.
If you got distracted or failed to accomplish a task the day before, don’t beat yourself up or use that as an excuse to not push forward. If you struggle with procrastination, check out these quick tips to get you on the right track. Make each day and each step count. You can achieve the goals you have in your heart, focus on completing them one step at a time and START NOW.
Let go of the thought that you have to have a hard plan figured out to the ‘T’.
You don’t have to have a hard plan. The world around us is changing every day. Allow your plan to be flexible and leave room for modifications. Make a loose plan for the big picture, save the specifics for smaller goals and tasks you can complete in the days, weeks, or months ahead.
Much love and many blessings to you! May your dreams manifest into your reality😘
Ever wonder about your friends? Are they really, for real-for real, your friends? I have a small circle of true friends. I am selective about who I allow in that circle. The awesome guys and chicas I call my true friends have some really important qualities in common. How do yours stack up? See below.
They are genuinely happy for you
Some people can’t be. Call it jealousy, envy, insecurity, hate, or mental illness….there are some people who see your successes/growth/failures only as it relates to them and only from their perspective. If you told them about a bowling match you won, they’d think you only won because they weren’t there to compete. If you told them about a new restaurant you love they’d tell you that they’ve never been but the one they like is better. True friends can really be happy for you and are genuinely excited to see you progress and grow. I feel comfortable sharing my ideas, hopes, dreams, and successes with them.
They help you focus on the positive
I don’t thrive off gossip. Nor do I wallow in negativity. When I find myself sinking, I do all I can to fight my way out. I yearn for positivity, light, and joy. My true friends help bring positivity to my life and I can usually count on them for good, deep down, gut jiggling laughs and good times.
They help bring out your best
Iron sharpens iron I enjoy being around people who challenge me to better and who I can learn from. I appreciate friendships that help to bring the best out of me. Stretching me the be able to obtain my goals and see for myself the reality of my wildest dreams. Blessing me with knowledge and experience that I didn’t have to go out and learn myself.
They aren’t afraid to confront you
It is important to have a friend who you trust to confront you when you are wrong, need to hear the truth, or need guidance. They have to have courage and care enough to do it and not sit back and watch your demise. A true friend will let you know when you’re slacking on you “goal pimpin’ ” and refer you to this post.
They will make sacrifices
A true friend will allow you to be celebrated, take a back seat sometimes, and make sacrifices in your favor. They will sacrifice their time, to listen, their money, if you needed it, their emotions, and experiences in order to help you grow.
They are Consistent
A true friend doesn’t have to call you every day to be there for you. Some friends I don’t even talk to once a month, but I know they would be there if I needed them. More than being constant, which refers more to frequency, I appreciate consistency, which I relate more to quality.
They are Trustworthy
Worthy of trust. You can count on your true friends to be honest and truthful. They prove time and time again that they have strong character. You can trust their opinion and their intent. A true friend can keep your deepest secrets and will not throw your failures back in your face with the intent to hurt you. They will lift you when you are low. You can rest assured that your personal business won’t be spread around like peanut butter on someone else’s toast….
They are Transparent
No bone collectors over here! As an extension of dealing in honesty and truth, true friends are transparent. They are not hiding in plain sight. One of my friends defines it as “being willing to not just receive information but also share information with the same zeal”. As you divulge your truth, they offer up theirs as well, for connectivity, healing, and greater understanding of each other’s paths and purpose.
They give an Unconditional Love
A true friend will be understanding, forgiving, and love you unconditionally. Their love has no strings and isn’t contingent upon your performance from week A to week B. Not one of us is perfect, a true friend knows this and has compassion. Loving you at your best and worst.
From chasing my desired career, attending school, and being a working adult to being a caregiver, now a new mom, and daughter who lost hers, I haven’t always been accessible physically or emotionally. I have given what I could where I could and I’m blessed to have friends who still rock with me….They have helped keep me sane and not lose my mane. (Shout out to every kernel of corn in this post..I was on it today lol )
Remember to do your best to be the friend you want to have ❤️
What qualities do you look for or appreciate most in your friends?