Breastfeeding Gear that I Love!

In my previous post I gave tips on breastfeeding for working moms, stay at home moms, and work at home moms.  I have recently nursed two babies in all 3 situations and have a lot of opinions about what works and what doesn’t.

breastfeeding gear

You might think it’s strange that a woman needs gear to breastfeed.  Duh, don’t I have all the gear I need?  Short answer is no, especially if I’m a working pumping mom, which takes me to my first item:

  1. Medela Pump in Style was my pump, still is, although I hardly use it anymore (I work at home now).  Now it’s not a hospital grade pump, but I still managed to feed two babies and work using this.  It comes with a black tote bag that has plenty of room for bottles, bottle wipes, and a nursing cover.  It has out pocket for your cell and keys.  It’s awesome for discreetly pumping at work. It’s also affordable- I found one on Amazon for only $204.
  2. Medela Quick Clean Pump Wipes were awesome for quickly cleaning up my pump parts at work.  When I got home I would hand wash or dishwasher clean (top rack only) my bottles, but at work I wiped down everything with these.  On Amazon you can order different quantities, I used to buy a 6 pack and it would last me 2 months.
  3. Milkmaid Goods Ponchos are my go to nursing covers.  They’re stylish enough to wear out and about, but stretchy and light enough to wear over my baby in the Las Vegas summer while nursing out and about.  I really love their products.  I cannot say enough.  Milkmaid Goods has their own site, but if you’re an Etsy addict they also have a shop on Etsy.
  4. Dr. Brown’s Bottles are the only bottles I used.  Yes, bottles for breastfeeding my pumped milk in.  They have these ventilator straws that keep extra air from entering your baby as he or she suckles.  This way they get far less gas.  I used to buy mine at Babies R’Us, but you can also pick them up at Wamart and Target.
  5. Jessica Simpson Clip Down Shelf Bra Nursing Camis are the best nursing cami.  Very well made and attractive.  They give great support and are convenient for a nursing mom to wear to bed, with sweats, under a cardigan, or a wrap dress.  I still wear them all the time.  Definitely worth the extra couple bucks.  I purchased mine at Motherhood Maternity.

If you’re a new mom an unsure what to buy for nursing or pumping these items will definitely assist you.  I’ll be writing more about my experiences as a working mom, stay at home mom, and work at home mom in the future.  I realize my experience is unique as I have been all three and I would like to pass on any wisdom I have on the topic to my readers and moms.

Breast-feeding Tips for the Working Mom and the Stay at Home Mom 

This is a linked post.  Beautifully Imperfect Mama is writing a whole series of posts on breastfeeding-you can check them out at https://beautifullyimperfectmama.wordpress.com.  I think it’s really important for moms to get different perspectives on breastfeeding since there are so many experiences.  I have had two very different experiences with breastfeeding my sons and I’m sharing them here in this post.  Since becoming a mom two and a half years ago I have been a full-time working mom, a stay at home mom, and now I am at work at home mom. I have nursed my sons through all of these situations. If you are planning on nursing my tips might be helpful for you.  This is mom to mom advice, I am not a lactation consultant or a doctor. I’m just speaking from my personal experience.

breastfeeding
Breast-feeding while working I found to be much more challenging than being a stay at home mom and nursing. However, with that being said,  I was successful enough to breast-feed until Ben was a year old and I was already three months pregnant with Adam.  So do not despair!  You can work and have an excellent breast-feeding relationship with your baby.   My biggest challenges were finding a place to pump, having to pump frequently, keeping up my milk supply, and the amount of time I spent pumping.  According to the current legislation women are supposed to have a place to pump and be able to pump at their job.  I was able to pump at my job, and have some privacy.   I recommend if you’re going to go back to work that you speak with one of your supervisors about a time and place to pump.  I did via email.  I stated the time of day, the length of time I would be unavailable for, and where I would be pumping.  I also let the office staff know.  Full disclosure, despite all of this communication that I sent out, I did have the occasional time when somebody would disregard the note on the door and allowed themselves in.  I used a nursing poncho over the pump just in case of this.  I took a cooler with me every single day to put all of my bottles.  I hated cleaning all the bottles every single night so  if you’re going to be pumping two sessions within just a couple hours of each other you can leave your small bottles of milk covered in your desk and then take them out and finish pumping in to them if they’re only half full.   I also recommend having a lot of bottles with covers on them. You’ll need larger bottles the longer you pump. The little tubes that they give you in hospital are not going to suffice when your baby is six months old and nursing. So make sure that you purchased lots of bottles with caps.  To keep up my supply I had to pump frequently. I pumped on my lunch breaks, I pumped in the morning when I first got to work before my meetings, and I pumped during my preparatory time.  I pumped 3 to 4 times a day at my job site, and I also pumped four times at home.  That was my schedule when I was pumping 8 ounce bottles for a seven-month-old. When I returned to work after having Adam, he was my second baby, so I had a stronger supply.  My strategy was to pump at work during the times that I would normally be feeding him, that worked for about three weeks. Since I was separated from Adam my supply went down. So I started to pump at home in the morning and on the weekends to increase my supply for the week.  What helped me the most with keeping up my supply was:

  1. Every morning I ate oatmeal with flax seeds for breakfast. Oatmeal and flax seeds are a galactagogue.  That means they are proven to increase milk production in nursing moms.  Other foods I found helpful for nursing mothers’tea,  full fat dairy products, and organic eggs that I purchased from a farm.  Unprocessed eggs are much creamier, and richer.
  2. I drank a gallon of water a day.
  3. I nursed frequently at home and held my baby a lot when I was home. Being close to your baby increases your milk supply.  I recommend safely co sleeping with your baby while you are nursing and working. Safe co sleeping means that the baby has their own enclosed space that they sleep in separate from you but near you. There are sidecar co sleepers (I used one with boys my boys) and co sleepers that go in the bed with you.
  4. Baby wearing when you’re home. I would wear my children and go for a walk in the evening or as I ran my errands on the weekend I would put them in my Ergo.
  5. I pumped every opportunity I had. If I woke up in the middle of the night to go get a glass of water I would take 15 minutes and pump. If you’re somebody who wakes up in the night I would recommend keeping a cooler with some ice inside of it so you can pump during the night and put your milk in the cooler and not have to leave your bed.

A working, nursing mom has to be able to multitask. I would answer emails and get all my computer work done while I was pumping. I would have projects laid out on my desk that I would  be working on while I was pumping.  Pumping does not have to slow down your productivity it will just simply tie you to your desk for 15 to 20 minutes.

Breast-feeding as a stay at home mom was much easier.  I was the bottle, I could nurse with Adam anywhere I went, also I had fewer supply issues. As a stay at home mom I never pump. The pump is especially helpful though if you are having supply issues, you can pump after you nurse if you times in the day and increase your milk supply. Also, if dad wants to get involved with feeding the baby, you can pump a bottle or two during the day and have that available to dad. As a second time mom I had no problem to nurse in public. With my older son I would pump and take a bottle with me, take baby food with me, even take formula sometimes. I was shy to nurse in public with him.  I learned that you have to practice with your nursing cover right away so your baby gets used to being under a poncho or cover. My first son I did not do this with, he would fight the cover and that left me feeling very shy.  I also exclusively breast-fed longer with my second child, up until nine months. My decision to do that was twofold: on one hand we had an excellent nursing relationship and on the other hand I knew we were going to take a month in Israel.  I figured the easiest thing would be for me to feed him via nursing rather than lugging around baby food.  I cannot say that my decision to stay at home rather than work is a main contributing factor as to the length of time I’m spending nursing each son. I would say that pregnancy was the main factor as to why I weaned Ben when I did.  During pregnancy it becomes more uncomfortable to nurse, your milk changes, and I have a tough time in my first trimester so adding in my discomfort nursing him was not helpful. Luckily for me it was a mutual choice to end the nursing relationship when we did.

I mentioned that I use a poncho to cover myself when I am nursing in public.  I also recommend if you’re going to nurse for at least a year to have plenty of nursing tops and pajama tops that pull or clip down.  Are used these both at work and as a stay at home mom. I could throw a cardigan or blazer over them at work. It makes pumping and nursing so much easier if you have something that is comfortable. Also nursing in public is more easily facilitated and manageable when you were in a nursing top and a cover. My favorite cover is a stretchy nursing poncho because it covers also my back if I do have to lift up my shirt. A swaddling blanket is also a great way to cover yourself.

A piece of advice and another mom gave me is to wean slowly. She weaned one of her sons quickly and the hormones that help with breast-feeding caused her to go into a depression for several months.  Now that I’m starting to work part time from home with the intent that I will work more in the following months I am planning in my mind how to cut back with Adam so I don’t have any depression and he will be ready for part time preschool.

Hump-Day Hype!

Ben Does Burning Man (Not Quite…)

Scott Cohen the founder of The Lifecube Experience has brought his Burning Man installation to Downtown Las Vegas twice. The Lifecube is a wooden cube that Cohen invites locals to decorate with art expressing their goals and dreams.  It combines installation, architecture, sculpture, graffiti, murals, and performance art.  It is more than just art, it is an experience to behold!

I have been lucky enough to participate in this experience twice -as an artist, mother, and art teacher. Four years ago my art club students made canvas paintings depicting their future goals.  I created a painting of Ben’s ultrasound with Hebrew prayers and wishes written by my husband on the back in Sharpie.  Ben was my dream come true as he was an IVF baby that we had long been praying for.

As the cube began to take form and artists and musicians took up camp in the space the cube became a hub for locals.  Yoga was being taught on the weekends in front of the cube, parents brought their children to do chalk drawing on the lot, and a fire pit for locals to socialize around emerged.  After the cube was completed and was full of dreams painted, drawn, and written all over it Cohen set the cube on fire to a large crowd.  This event was televised live.  There were live dancers and musicians performing to the crowd bringing a taste of Burning Man to downtown urban Las Vegas.

 


Last spring the Lifecube returned to Las Vegas while I was on maternity leave after having Adam.  The boys created a painting for the Lifecube and we visited it twice.  Ben played with hula hoops and chalk the first time on a quiet weekday afternoon as some neighborhood locals warmed themselves around the fire pit.   The second time we went the day of the burning.  There was a live DJ and Ben danced while drawing on the cube with oil pastel.  We dropped off our painting-Ben painted an abstract background and Adam made black footprints across the canvas.  Around the edge of the painting I wrote “Parents don’t dream their children will follow in their footsteps.  They dream they will go further.”

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Tips for the Mommy on the Go

mommy-on-the-goWhen I chose to stay home part of that was so I could create experiences and take classes with my kiddos.  I’m very used to running around with my toddler and baby, for a new mom or a mom just getting used to two the idea of getting out of the house can be daunting.  Trust me I’ve been there.

I remember the first time I went out with both boys on my own.  It was supposed for a doctor’s appointment. I packed the double stroller and the diaper bag and picked out the boys clothes the night before. I made sure my toddler had plenty of snacks and I had my nursing poncho with me. We got up early in the morning and draft the doctors office only to find out that they had a second location and I was supposed to be there. I was crushed!

1. Have a really organized diaper bag.  I use gallon sized Ziploc bags for this.  They’re inexpensive and clear.  I use one for diapers, one for extra clothes, one for snacks, and one for additional items like wipes or Tylenol.

2. Pack your car and diaper bag the night before so you’re ready in the morning.  Put the stroller, baby carrier, a book or toy to occupy the kiddos, etc.

3. Keep an extra stash in your car.  I keep a grocery bag with extra diapers, clothes, wipes, and diaper cream in the backseat under my seat.

4. Buy a lightweight stroller.  I’ve had heavy, clunky strollers and truthfully my single umbrella stroller from Chico and my double City Mini GT are my go twos.  Seriously, I sold 3 strollers this past fall and kept just these strollers because they take up the least amount room in my car and they are so light and easy.  The Chico even has a strap to carry it over my shoulder!

5.  Pick a diaper bag that has stroller hooks.  A backpack style is great for the mom on the go!

6. Pack a snack and drink for yourself.  Especially if you’re nursing you need the hydration and nutrition.

7. Be home for nap time. There’s nothing worse than coming home in the car and seeing my toddler falling asleep in the back. I know that when we get home getting him out of the car will wake him up and that nap that he would’ve had is gone. So I try to schedule any classes or errands in the morning and be home before noon so he can get a good nap.

These are my tips for getting out and about with littles.  I’ll be sharing the contents of my diaper bag and how I pack it in a future post, also on Instagram. Be sure to follow me on Instagram. I look forward to reading in the comments any ideas you guys have for making going out easier with littles.

Hump-Day Hype!

Chchchanges!!!

Yes I’m a huge David Bowie fan!  So when I started blogging after we returned from our trip to Israel it came as a welcomed opportunity to express myself -I haven’t had much time to do that since Adam was born.  As I’ve started blogging and built my small, yet loyal following, I also started working from home part time.  ALL WHILE being a full time mom.  SO -yeah, my schedule is packed!  It can be overwhelming at times.  My work is growing which is great because it’s also flexible, but it’s taking a lot of time.  As such, I will need to switch back to two posts per week for the meantime on the blog.  I will be posting on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting next week.  If you’re not already following me on Instagram-I highly recommend it.  I post on Instagram almost daily.  Some posts to look forward to this month are about a Las Vegas art installation I participated in as both a mom and a teacher, DIY Mickey Mouse bedroom decorations and furniture I made for Ben’s room, and how to talk to a toddler about art.  So please keep subscribing and sharing and pinning away!  L’Chaim!  Liza.

Rocking Motherhood Challenge

rockingmotherhood-1_fotorFirst of all I’d like to thank Elizabeth from http://www.worthwritingfor.com for including me in this challenge.  The challenge is to write around 10 or more ways in which I’m rocking motherhood.  That’s a funny thing to ask mom because most of the time I hear moms sounding concerned that they’re not doing enough! I’m definitely guilty of this, so to take account of my accomplishments might be a good thing to do.  We’ll see…

1.  I simultaneously potty trained and sleep trained the boys.  That was super challenging, but in the back of my mind was the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew the tough times would only last so long and they did.  By night 3 Adam wasn’t crying as I put him in his crib and after day 5 Ben started to use the potty.  No-it wasn’t like the YouTube videos where moms teach their youngest child to potty in an afternoon and the child was potty trained for life.  Ben had to warm up to the idea and be encouraged.  It took two attempts to train him, so if you’re struggling don’t worry-there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for you too.

2.  Ben and Adam are bilingual.  I wrote about this in a previous post.  My boys speak English and Hebrew.  While Adam is just starting to speak he speaks words in both languages and that is how Ben started.  For sure, their Aba (father) can take most of the credit as he is the fluent Hebrew speaker in the family, but I support any way I can and it has improved my Hebrew.

3.  I’m still nursing.  Nursing my boys has been such a huge bonding experience for us.  I was very I’ll after having Ben and I couldn’t nurse him until he was 6 weeks old.  I pumped and kept up my supply nevertheless and the persistence paid off!  I nursed him until he self-weaned at 12 months.  Adam is still going strong and that’s ok with both of us right now.

4.  I survived two under two.  Trust me any mom with two under two is not sleeping, not sitting, and not eating.  It’s tough-but awesome.  Cuddling up with both of them in the bed after work and reading before bed or tandem wearing on a hike.  Those are memories I will treasure of this time.

5. I’ve been a stay at home mom, a work at home mom, and a working mom.  I’ve balanced, juggled, and scheduled my heart out around my kids and work.  What I learned from these experiences is that the grass is always greener on the other side and no matter if you’re working or staying home the struggle is real.  Sure when I was working I had a nanny and cleaning service to take care of a lot at home, but I missed my boys like crazy.  Staying home is WORK too.  I have a busy day every day between keeping the boys busy, engaged, growing,  and learning.  When one has a nap the other is wake and I’m feeding and entertaining him.  I’m cleaning the house every chance I get.  I NEVER chill and watch daytime TV while eating bonbons!

6. I’m finding my SELF again. I’m writing this in a hair salon for crying out loud!  Every person needs a moment to take care of his or herself.  When I worked it was before makeup and hair work and these days it’s just a quick shower.  I joined a gym, though, and I go frequently to improve my physique after two babies and it also helps me have more energy to be with my kids all day.

7.  I have an amazing supportive group of mom friends.  In the stay at home mommy, Gymboree, toddler swim class, playgroup world there are a lot of cliques.  I’ve been embraced, included, left out, and in plenty of awkward situations.  It’s not easy.  A year ago  I had a totally different group of mom friends and it was a tough journey to find the group I have today.  What I learned along the way is don’t make friends just based on the ages of your kids, but really look for moms with common interests as you.  I have vegan friends, friends from Israel, and hiking friends.  Some of these women are teachers and some are entrepreneurs, but as people we’re friends before being mom friends.

8.  Introducing my boys to nature has been really fantastic for all of us.  I really relax when I get away from the city.  We hike, picnic, and take strolls.  We are part of a mommy group that babywears and hikes-its been really fun joining them.  I’ve made some new friends through this group.

9.  My husband asked me to include that I do it all for the home and my family.  I find time to take my boys to classes and teach them, cook meals, clean and do laundry, run all the errands with my two in tow, have a play group and a blog, and help him with his business. This is why I chose to stay home this year, to be present for my family.

10.  I have given my children memorable experiences that they may not remember as they’re too young but I have the photographic proof of and the stories to tell.  They’ve experienced the High Holidays in Israel surrounded by family members, Ben visited the original FAO Shwartz in New York City, I cooked my first Thanksgiving meal, we flew to San Francisco to see my relatives and have a surprise 70th birthday party for my uncle, but the best was taking Ben at 4 months old to meet my grandmothers at his first Thanksgiving.  They both passed while I was pregnant with Adam, but they both got to see Ben and see me fill their shoes as a mom.

 

 

How I Hike with Two Littles

Upon my quitting my job as a full time as a full time art educator and staying home I searched for local Facebook mommy groups that had similar interests to me.  I stumbled upon a baby wearing hiking group and joined.  I was concerned that I couldn’t hike with both my boys-Ben had just turned 2 and Adam 6 months, but I have hiked a lot with them and here are my tips for success.

1. Either get a durable baby carrier or take paved/packed gravel trails. You do not want to take a wrap carrier on a hike!  I have an Ergo 360 which works great and a Beco Butterfly I use on my back when Ben needs a boost (I tandem carry if need be).  A lot of moms in the group have a Tula-and Tula makes a great toddler carrier!

2.  Take water for everyone.  I am nursing so water isn’t super necessary for Adam-but I still bring an extra water bottle for him. Camelback does make a toddler water bottle pack and if you’re hiking with a baby in front, you could have your Camelback on your back and be hands free!

3. If you’re taking a little who you expect to walk do a hike with little to no incline and consider the safety of the area.  You want to be careful about run ins with wildlife, falling on branches that can poke a little guy, and weather can play a role in safety too.  Out here we have to wear and take sunscreen, hats, glasses, and tons of water with the dry desert heat.  Wind, humidity, rain, and snow are all tough for a little on a long walk.  Also, keep in mind your little walker may get tired so bring a carrier in case.  Ben is two and a half and can do about a mile before getting tired.

4.  Do not go hiking with a little in an area that is s remote you won’t see other hikers, stay on well known trails that are also well maintained.

5.  Second hour of a long stroller ride and your kiddo is getting bored?  Snacks, water, and songs will help a lot.

6.  Take a small first aid kit with you.  Ben fell once on a trail and I was able to treat the cut and finish the hike with no worries.

7.  Hike with a friend or two who can help with your littles if you have multiples.  I’ve had friends carry Ben down Mt. Charleston when he got tired and I really appreciated it.

8.  Be sure to talk with your kids about the natural elements they are witnessing such as big mountains, blue sky, green grass, etc.  Use the hike as a chance to build vocabulary by describing the scenery.

9.  Take photos.  I love the photos of my boys exploring and being free in the wilderness.  These are some of my favorite memories of my time as a stay at home mom.

10.  Snacks that travel well: crackers, sandwiches, granola bars that don’t have chocolate, fruit, nuts, and dried fruit.  Bring a lot of snacks.  The kids will want them and it’s important if you’re nursing to stay hydrated and nourished too!

Have fun, be safe, and create great family memories!

Art Teacher Tips for When the Kiln is a Disaster!

kiln

What do you do so when you open the kiln it doesn’t look like a grenade went off and destroyed all of your projects?

1. Do not hollow a closed ceramic object, that’s just asking for it.

2. If something is very thick create a hollow area that comes through one end of the clay object.

3. Let your green ware dry at least five, if not a week before firing.

4. Teach your students how to properly wedge, that means not pounding it into oblivion!

5. Set the first firing for one-two hours so to let the moisture out, the second for an hour, then let it run for the final firing.

 

What if you do have an explosion?

1. Get all the large pieces of pottery shards out with your hands and throw them out.

2. Have a custodian come in and vacuum out the remaining small pieces and dust. The dust is highly toxic.

Art History Gameboards

art-history-games2

I am truly an art nerd.  Who couldn’t be when artists have such interesting lives?  From Frida Kahlo’s bus accident and tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera to Leonardo Da Vinci’s flying experiments kids are fascinated by the lives of famous artists.

One year I broke my art club into teams of 4 kids (I had 40 art clubbers).  Each team would research an artist in the library, come up with a timeline of that artist’s life, and create a game board game based on their research.  The school librarian helped the kids research the artists they chose and write their timelines.  When I approved their timeline they began building their game boards using cardboard boxes, duct tape and white butcher paper.  Then they had to design their game board in pencil using facts from the artist’s life, a portrait of him/her, and motifs found in works of art by that artist.  They used Crayola Model Magic to model the pieces that would move across the board and tempera paint with glue to paint the pieces. Once all the game boards were finished we had a party and the kids played the games while they munched on chips and drank soda.  We hung the game boards around the art room for years to come as they were full of factual information I wanted my students to learn.  This is a lesson I loved and would definitely do again!

art-history-games

Modigliani Self-Portraits

Amadeo Modigliani was an Italian Modernist painter during the 20th century.  He is best known for his minimalist portraits of women with strange almond shaped eyes that are completely colored in.  The faces are nearly alien and the bodies are linear.  The backgrounds are non-descriptive and surreal.    Upon looking at his art kids will often remark about how alien the women appear and how strange the portraits are.  This lesson  is an excellent introduction into basic facial proportions as the students don’t have to worry so much about the realistic shapes of the face, just the correct placement of simplified facial features.
I posted before about DBAE (Discipline Based Art Education) and this particular lesson plan has a strong art critical component that leads into an understanding of Modigliani’s aesthetic.  The students will go through with the teacher all of the Elements of Art and Principals of Design and how they relate to Modigliani’s paintings.
modigliani
Art Lesson Plan

Modigliani Self-Portrait

Grade: 3rd-6th

# of 50 minute sessions: 4

Art Resources: visuals from the Girl series by Amadeo Modigliani and teacher exemplar
Art Materials: one 11”x14” sheet of white paper per student, pencils, erasers, and oil pastels.
Objectives-
Student will:
– create a self-portrait in the style of Amadeo Modigliani.
– create a drawing using pencils and oil pastels.
– learn about the art of Modigliani.
– discuss the artwork of Modigliani according to the Principals of Design and Elements of Art.
Vocabulary: Amadeo Modigliani, Modern Art, Principals of Design, Elements of Art, and Self-Portrait.
Procedure:
Day 1: Teacher will introduce visuals from the Girl series by Amadeo Modigliani. Teacher will discuss the art criticism part of the lesson with the student and go over vocabulary. Student will view the visuals and begin discussing with students the work of art according to the Elements of Art and Principals of Design. The teacher will demonstrate how to draw a self-portrait in Modigliani’s style. Student will draw his/her self-portrait using pencil (lightly).
Day 2: Student will review vocabulary, the art critical component from the prior week, and teacher product/visual aide.Student will begin coloring in self-portrait.
Days 3-4: Student will review vocabulary and teacher product/visual aide. Student will finish coloring his self-portrait and present his artwork to the class.  Student will share with the class using the Elements of Art and Principals of Design how his self-portrait is similar in style to Modigliani’s portraits.