Monday, January 30, 2012

The Status of Things

It seems like no matter what I do, blogging gets bumped down to the bottom of my to-do list. I need to make it more of a priority because it's something I enjoy and an important outlet for me. My sanity was borderline to begin with, so I need to work extra hard to keep what little I do have ;) In that spirit, let's do this blog post in old-school-LiveJournal-ramble-on-about-everything style.

I'm surprised at how busy things have been. I'm hesitant to say that because I know the stigma that is attached to being a stay-at-home mom. But screw it, it's true.  And it's not a complaint, because my life is great and filled with wonderful things. I just wish I could slow down the clock a little.

Caleb is quite mobile at almost 9 months. He has completely mastered crawling and he's damn fast. He's also pulling up on everything, and is getting better and better at standing on his own and "cruising." Truth be told, we've done a half-ass job baby-proofing so I'm constantly chasing him to keep him out of something. But wasn't he just born? I remember thinking we had all the time in the world to babyproof. That whole, "Blink and they'll be crawling" thing is apparently true.

Getting Caleb to eat anything besides formula and breast milk is still a challenge. I've been having moderate success with pureed sweet potatoes, but only because I tricked him by dipping a pacifier in it first. He will also munch on Mum Mums and Little Munchies from time to time. I'm hoping he kicks it up a notch in the next three months, when he has to get his nutrition from real food.

I'm a better Mom when I get out of the house. It takes work and military-like coordination sometimes to schedule playdates and meetups that work with his schedule, but I make it happen once or twice a week. I'm so lucky to have a large support system of other Moms with little ones Caleb's age. And Caleb gets tons of social interaction and the stimulation of new environments, so it's a win-win.

I am still struggling, emotionally and physically, with my breastfeeding issues. I realize that probably sounds strange to some, but it was my dream to exclusively breastfeed. I'm proud that we are still breastfeeding at 9 months, but I'm sometimes still sad - and angry - that my body has failed me in this very important way. I'm part of the most wonderful Facebook support group for IGT (insufficient glandular tissue) where other women understand the unique challenges that I face with IGT, and that has really helped tremendously. Most days I focus on the positive. Caleb has gotten at least a little breast milk every day of his life so far. That's nothing to sneeze at!

I'm still working part-time from home, with the same PR firm I've been working with for almost 5 years now. I'm so lucky to have managers that allow me to work such a light and flexible schedule right now so I can be with Caleb while he's little. I know many mommies wish for such an opportunity, and I am grateful. I am mostly focusing on social media for clients, which is something I truly enjoy. Sometimes it's hard to find time to get it all done, but I make it a priority and thankfully John will help with other things so I can focus more on work if needed.

I'm not taking a class this semester at UCF. I enrolled in an online course for the Fall so that I could buy student health insurance for the year, which was almost the only way I could get coverage without working full-time. I was so relieved to learn that I didn't need to take any more classes to keep my coverage. I started working part-time when Caleb was 9 weeks old, then started an online grad class on top of that when he was 3 months. It was too much but somehow I survived. I just realized I still haven't checked my official grade. Oh, how times have changed. I remember the days when I obsessed over grades and made damn sure I got that A.

This whole baby weight thing is a challenge. I lost almost all of the weight fairly easily, then started putting it back on! Come to find out, the medicine I take for breastfeeding makes you gain weight. Isn't that a kick in the pants? At this point, I figure I'm so far into it that I may as well keep going to a year or until this last batch of meds run out. But I'm still constantly frustrated by it.

My best friend is getting married in two months, and I'm the matron of honor (along with her sister, the maid of honor). John is a groomsman and Caleb is a little ring bearer, so we are all involved! I have been planning her bridal shower and searching for a dress, among other secret preparations I'm probably not allowed to disclose here! We're all wondering if Caleb will be walking by then. I'm so excited for her, and she is the anti-Bridezilla which is quite impressive.

I'm starting to plan Caleb's first birthday party, which is just a few short months away. Don't worry, I'm not planning anything extravagant. I think we're going to do a party at a nearby park with friends and family. I'm thinking we'll do a zoo theme but haven't really decided yet.

We have planned a trip to Rhode Island and Boston in late May - everything is already booked! We will get to see a lot of John's family, including a nephew and niece I have never met before. I am nervous about airline travel and how Caleb will do being away from home for so long, but really looking forward to quality time with family, and of course the awesome food, too! In Boston, we are going to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, exploring Quincy Market and visiting Plymouth Rock. John and I traveled all the time before we had Caleb, and we have been missing it. As Caleb gets older, we hope to get back into exploring new places as a family.

I'm off to pump. Cheers!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Struggling with Low Supply

I'm part of an amazing support group for women with insufficient glandular tissue and low supply, and one Mom recently posted something that captures all of our struggles. I'm posting it below with her permission:

I know we just spent 173 posts re-hashing the craptivists point of view, but I just read something that really struck me. On Birth Nerds they just posted a story about a woman who called a nurse line because her 23 month old (who still nursed) kept emptying the contents of his stomach. Appearntly the nurse on the phone was very supportive and said some wonderful things to the mother about her extended nursing. At the end the mod said congrats to the mother as well and told her to keep up the good work. 

I realize now why I get so upset when I see people belittling those of us who physically can not breast feed or who struggle long term with it. I want someone to say to me "good job, mamma, you put your best feet forward and worked extremely hard to overcome insurmountable odds and were able to breastfeed for 4 long months. You did what you had to make sure your child was happy and fed and you worked soo hard to give them the best, whatever source that may be." Instead, after countless crying, sleepless nights and loads and loads of drugs and messy, annoying contraptions, we get told that we hate our kids, that we just gave up, that we use the flimsy excuse of "low supply". As if feeling like a failure where our kids health is concerned isn't enough of a heartbreak, everyone else has to stockpile more guilt and feelings of inadequacy upon us. And then we are defensive and ignorant when we get upset and just don't want to listen to their extensive knowledge and proficiency at breastfeeding. I am sick of being made to feel inferior.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

$10 Enfamil Coupon

Coupons.com has a $10 coupon off any Enfamil tub 22 oz. or larger. This is the first time I've seen an Enfamil coupon for this much, so print yours before they're all gone! Remember you can print two copies.

Click here  to clip!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

An Afternoon at the Central Florida Zoo

I have been thinking about taking Caleb (now 8 months) to the Central Florida Zoo for a while, partially because he LOVES our cats. As in, excessively. He sees one of the cats and squeals and shrieks in excitement (then the cats run away traumatized).


I decided this would be a great weekend to go and opted to get the family annual membership, which was $84.00. If you're just going for the day, it's $12.95 for each adult. Meaning, you'll need at least 7 adult admissions in a year to make the membership worthwhile. Since it's relatively close to our house, I'm expecting we'll make that pretty easily. After spending the afternoon at the zoo, I'm so glad we got the membership because I definitely want to go back already! Here's a review of our day with some insider Mommy tips.

Entering the Park

You'll see a few things at the entrance to the zoo: A carousel, a little train (The Little Florida Coastline) and the ZOOm Air Adventure Park, which looks like a big obstacle course in the trees. Note that these things are all extras and not included in the cost of admission to the zoo. I thought the "air adventure park" is a smart addition; I feel like it will keep the older kids occupied while the zoo is perfect for the younger crowd. Moms with kids of all ages can come here and keep everyone entertained!

Make sure you pick up a map!


For Moms: Food and Bathrooms
Odds are you'll want to eat at some point while you're there. There are signs everywhere that say you can't bring food or drinks into the zoo (though no one checked). I'm assuming there are obvious exceptions, like formula for babies. There are no restaurants inside the zoo, but there are two snack bars with basic options like cheeseburgers and salads. My husband and I got two cheeseburger meals and the total was $16.50. It was about what you'd expect from a snack bar.

Snack Bar
Before you enter the zoo, there is a woodsy area filled with picnic tables. The next time we go, I am going to bring packed lunches and have lunch before going into the zoo. It saves money and gives you more lunch options. I do wish there was an actual restaurant inside.

There are bathrooms near the snack bars. The one we went to also had "changing rooms" and one of them had a changing table. I liked that it wasn't in a women's bathroom because it meant my husband could do the diaper change!


The Exhibits
There were plenty of animals to see. Our favorites were the Amur Leopards (Caleb really liked this one, he just watched one leopard pace back and forth and giggled like crazy), Sir Gus the Camel and the Black Howler Monkeys. And, I don't usually get excited about birds but there were some amazing birds to see. I kept saying, "What is THAT?" Heck, I even thought the snakes were awesome!

Sir Gus the Camel came over to say hello
Black Howler Monkeys
Timber Rattlesnake...eek!

By the Amur Leopards
We also came across a couple ladies holding the cutest little creature, a kikachu. I had never heard of such a thing before, but this little guy was adorable. It looks like a cross between a teddy bear, a monkey and a raccoon. I think I was more interested in this than Caleb was, but the older kids were all about it.

Meet a kikachu!

Petting Zoo
This petting zoo is a little different than your typical petting zoo, so I wasn't sure about it at first but it wound up being our favorite part of the afternoon. Now when I hear "petting zoo," I think of an open and supervised area that you can enter and walk around with the animals. At the Central Florida Zoo, the animals are in pens that you can't enter but they are very easy to touch and feed. There were llamas, goats, turkeys, zebus and sheep. I had never heard of a zebu before, but they were a favorite for the way that slurped up the food pellets with their big tongues (see video below)! There is a little shop in the petting zoo, the ZOOFARI Outpost, where you can buy a tray of food pellets for a dollar. It was well worth a buck to watch my little guy smile and giggle at the animals coming close to eat.






Extras
In addition to the usual zoo-like stuff, the Central Florida Zoo had plenty of "extras" that I thought were worth mentioning. There is a playground in one area, and also a splash ground that looked like a lot of fun. With an eight month old, we didn't use either of these but I'm sure that will change in just a year from now. I do wish the playground had baby swings, though. There was also a life-sized chess set near the butterfly garden that is great for older kids. You can even play outdoor laser tag! I am looking forward to trying out story time soon, and will have to check out the reading programs they have when Caleb gets a little older.

Coming Soon
While we walked around, we saw construction for a river otter exhibit that is in the works. A recent press releases states that there will soon be rhinos, too!


Review Summary
Overall, I highly recommend this zoo for Central Florida families, especially for those with babies and young children. We are fortunate in the Orlando area to have so many theme parks and entertainment venues to choose from, but right now I think the zoo is a welcome alternative to Disney. It's more low-key, less hassle (especially with parking), less crowds, less cost and it has educational components. 

I will say I wish that the zoo had more of the "traditional" zoo animals, like lions, elephants and giraffes. Still, there was plenty to see and I can't wait until we can go back again!