MamaMia, Author at MOMcircle

One Day at a Time

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Why is it so much easier to cry in the shower? I guess it’s because nobody can tell that you are crying. Seclusion with your emotions. When I was planning on breastfeeding my baby before she was born, I was going to “try” to breastfeed for a year. Little did I know my little girl would love to nurse and go even longer. Nobody ever talked to me about breastfeeding longer than a year. My emotions would soon be turned from I hope I can do this, to when and how do you stop. My emotional attachment has a big role in this, making me want to keep going even longer. Something that has become a part of our everyday life multiple times a day has become a very gradual change for us in the weaning process. I don’t think my heart could take a sudden change of that caliber. So when my almost-2-year-old wants to nurse one part of me says, “Let’s do this” and the other part of me says “Really? You just play.” The whirlwind of emotions usually leads to me giving in. I know, distract her, change the routine, but of course this is easier said than done. In a way it’s like mourning the loss of breastfeeding because I know this wonderful thing will come to an end. I never would have thought in a million years this experience would have been so wonderful. That the most simple thing I could offer my baby would come from me alone and impact me and my baby the way that it has. Until the last day of nursing I will simply take it one day at a time.

Create New Memories This Holiday Season

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Fall is such a fun time of the year! The weather is cooler, the leaves are brilliantly colored and the holidays are on their way. Thanksgiving in our family means time with family, food, fun, and games. It’s one of the few times each year we are able to visit with our extended family, so we do our best to make many great memories.

In the kitchen, the adults busily prepare the meal amidst laughter and good-natured teasing while the children run around with cousins and try to stay out of trouble. When 1 p.m. pm arrives, we all gather around the table, or multiple tables, to eat. Someone, usually my dad, prays over the meal. It gives us all a moment to pause and realize that no matter what we have faced throughout the year, and we are truly grateful to be together this day to count our blessings.

Our food is not always the traditional turkey and dressing, but it’s special nonetheless. I love that we eat food we do not normally get to eat. This gives us all — especially my kids — a chance to try something new and different. We often discover a new ingredient or recipe I can incorporate into our own family meals during the week. It also gives us a chance to discover new things about our family members as the conversation flows around the room. Some of my favorite moments have come from the memories, jokes, and funny stories shared around the Thanksgiving table.

When dinner is finished and the food is put away, it’s game time! Sometimes we play cards or board games. If it’s warm enough outside, we play kickball or volleyball. Everyone gets involved, and there are bound to be hilarious moments and lots of laughter. No matter what games we play, it gives us an opportunity to forget the cares of life and just be kids again for one day. When the day is done, we are filled with good food and wonderful new memories.

What traditions will you keep, or maybe begin, with your family this year?

A New Mealtime Mentality

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The dinner table subject has always been challenging for me. My husband and I have different opinions, or I should say: used to have different opinions about portion sizes and how to go about having our kids eat the food they are given. Our household has changed from, “eat everything on your plate” to “eat until you are full”.

I’m not going lie; it has not been an easy transition. We are still working on focusing on eating instead of focusing on playing. I will say, though, one thing that has helped my family at the dinner table is the Mealtime Blessings conversation starter cards. They have been amazing. Chickasaw Nation WIC offers these cards to families in their office. The cards have different conversation starters that you can have with your kids whenever you are eating meals with your family. Focusing on the things that really matter makes my children not so focused on their food, but they still eat.

Another thing we have done is having us pick the different foods they can eat, and they pick how much they eat. In reality, not everybody wants a lot of food at every meal, and not everybody wants less at every meal. Everyone is different, and only you can tell how much you really need to eat to be full.

Relieving the stress of “eat everything on your plate” and changing it to “eat until you are full” has really helped. I don’t know about you but as a mom, less stress is always best!

A (Somewhat) Healthy Halloween

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It’s officially fall, and with fall comes Halloween. For many moms and our kids, this means that our efforts for a healthy family diet disappear for a couple of nights while we splurge on trick-or-treat candy. I’m okay with this because Halloween just isn’t the same without the thrill my kids get when they come home from trick-or-treating, spread out on the living room floor, and sort through all of their candy. I remember how exciting this was for me when I was young, and it just isn’t the same with healthy substitutes for candy (no matter how much us moms would love to watch our kids excitedly sorting through fruits and vegetables!).

So, in order to keep the Halloween candy high from getting out of control, I let my kids have their fun on Halloween night, then I take the candy the next day and hand it out to them sparingly each day after for as long as it lasts. I balance this with healthy, low-sugar and low-salt meals, and only give them a couple of pieces a night after they’ve eaten all the healthy stuff. This way, my kids have all the fun on Halloween night, but it’s enjoyed in small, manageable doses afterward.

Going Back to Work and Breastfeeding: Your Rights

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When I was pregnant, I remember being reluctant to commit to long-term breastfeeding. I didn’t understand pumping and had quite a bit of anxiety about having to do it at work, not to mention explaining to my employer. During my maternity leave, I absolutely loved breastfeeding my daughter, so I read up on the benefits and challenges of being a working, breastfeeding mom. I found that the federal government has made provisions just for moms like me!

The Fair Labor Standards Act (a mouthful, I know!) outlines what your employer is required to provide for you as a breastfeeding momma, including “a reasonable break time for an employee to express breastmilk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk; and a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” A quick chat with my supportive HR representative led to the arrangement of a private pumping room. Ok, so it was a storage closet with a chair, lamp, table, and an extension cord, but it worked! And after the first couple of weeks, it was just like second nature.

Formula can cost hundreds per month, and even WIC is only supplemental, which means it is just a part of what baby will need, so you’ll still be paying out of pocket for some of it. Breastfeeding costs nothing, plus it supplies your baby with perfect nutrition. Another great piece of legislation for breastfeeding moms inside the Affordable Care Act says “health insurance plans must provide breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding.” That means your insurance should cover the cost of a pump and lactation consultations. More savings!

So, there you have it. It can be done. Any amount of breastmilk our babies get is a blessing, and everyone likes to save money! So whether you are fully or partially breastfeeding, don’t feel like going back to work means you have to stop.

#breastfeeding #breastfeedingworkingmom #breastfeedingsavesmoney

Breastfeeding – The Gift of A Lifetime

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As a young, naïve, soon-to-be mom of my firstborn, I didn’t like it when people asked if I was going to breastfeed. I never really understood or knew much about it.  Quite honestly, I didn’t really care. I felt the same way with my second child.  If anybody ever said anything to me about breastfeeding, I would always shut them off. The way I look at my body now is totally different than I did at that point in my life. Looking back on my first two kids, I sit here and think – how could I have been so selfish to have taken away one of the best, most priceless things I could have given my babies? I would often think about this before my third child was born. I always said if I was to have another baby, I was absolutely going to breastfeed, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  If the good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, it will happen.

We welcomed to the world our third little girl a few years after our second. I was never really one to put myself out there, especially when it was something that I was uncomfortable with in the first place. But, I remember like it was yesterday the lactation consultant coming into my room after I had my little girl and asking if I wanted help getting her latched.  Normally I am very shy, especially when it comes to my body.  That particular day, however, I wanted to breastfeed so badly I didn’t care if she looked, held, touched or did anything of the sort with my breast as long as my child was getting fed my breastmilk. It was a moment I will never forget.

I still have regrets to this day about not feeding my first two babies breastmilk. I was very naïve about everything and, in a sense, selfish.  Being a mom changes you in ways that you could never imagine, and being selfish is not in the mom dictionary. Selfishness is turned into selfless. The amazing gift that I gave my third baby will not only be looked at as a way for me to feed her, but also as a life lesson for me.  Knowledge is power, and power can change the world. It is an amazing feeling to give the gift of a lifetime, for a lifetime.

Fall is for Making Memories

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Fall is my favorite time of year. The temperatures cool down and the trees show off their spectacular colors. For us, fall also means the traditional family camping trips. I did not go camping as a kid — this is something my husband and I wanted to do in order to start our own family tradition. We load up the camper and find a nice spot by a lake (it’s way too cold to go into the water, but the scenery is very nice!) and start up the campfire.

We love to sit around and share “fun” food like roasted marshmallows and laugh together. I use my WIC foods to make delicious soups in the crockpot that fill the camper with tantalizing aromas. The warm soup tastes and feels so good in the brisk fall air. We trade the sturdy wooden dinner table at home for a rough concrete picnic table that somehow, magically, makes the food taste better than ever.

We take long walks together under the brilliant fall leaves and talk about whatever comes to mind – forming bonds that will last a lifetime. We also bring along our bicycles and ride adventurous backwoods trails or simple campground roads. We stay low-key all weekend having no agenda but being together and being fully present with each other. For us, camping is a nice way to come back together as a family after the hustle and bustle of everyday life and make memories we will all treasure forever.

What traditions have you/will you start with your family to build memories that will last a lifetime?

The Crockpot: A Busy Mom’s Secret Weapon

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When I’m short on time or don’t have the patience to cook a full meal from start to finish, I bring out my trusty crockpot. A busy mom’s secret weapon, a delicious pot roast or stew is just around the corner, and all I have to do is put in all of the ingredients, add a bit of water, and turn it on before I leave for work. By the time my kids and I get home, it’s ready to be served and tastes absolutely delicious. A word to the wise: buy some liners to help with clean up!

Fall Farmers Market Veggies

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When I used to think of a farmers market, I thought of the many fruits and veggies sold during the summer months, but that’s it. However, I took my kids to the market last weekend, and there were so many delicious veggies that are harvested in the late summer/early fall! I was so surprised! I talked to the vendor and he said that pumpkins, squash, green beans, and eggplant are just a few of the vegetables that are best harvested during this time of year. Even better, I could use my farmers market WIC checks to buy them! I can’t believe I just figured this out! I’ve missed so many chances to make healthy, delicious meals for my kids because I didn’t know this. Don’t make the same mistake I did! Use your WIC checks at your local farmers market this weekend!

Free to Breastfeed

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Breastfeeding isn’t always a cake walk, but after the initial teething stage – I really thought I had hit expert status. The Universe has ways to make us learn, though, am I right? Nobody prepared me for some of the more colorful moments that come with nursing a toddler like breastfeeding acrobatics, teething (again), or my early talker to spark comments from the old-schoolers about being “old enough to ask for it”.

I learned not to care if my girl was doing gymnastics besides me on the couch while latched. That high kick is on point, baby girl. I learned that I, too, can roll my eyes at things (or comments) I find absurd. Yes, my 18-month-old very clearly asked for ni-ni while pulling my shirt up. Throw that judgment elsewhere, folks. I’m just trying to feed my child over here. I also learned that a one minute time out from nursing can help with a toddler bent on chewing through a feeding. Best of all, these moments really make for hilariously sweet stories eventually.

In the heat of the stress, it can be easy to panic. Just try to remember that you’ll get through it, and likely laugh about it later. They’re infants for a year, toddlers for few more, then you realize your sweet, tiny baby is a full blown kid. You’re going to miss these days, savor them while you can.