I commonly catch myself referring to the first few months with both Nolan and then Max + Maeve as the TRENCHES. I actually do adore so many aspects of the small baby phase (i.e. cuddles, cruising around with a sleeping babe in an infant seat, watching the rapid development, etc!) BUT the two things that tend to outshine the amazingness of a fresh baby head for me are 1. SLEEP DEPRIVATION and 2. FEEDING ANXIETY. Honestly, you could almost lump these two into one overarching issue because the lack of sleep only heightens the already natural anxiety moms have about ensuring this new tiny human is thriving in the feeding department. For me, when the overtired fog starts to clear, I feel so much less stressed about production/nursing/formula/pumping/gas/reflux/spit up/latching… OMG the worry list goes on for DAYS… and I am able to gain perspective that the ONLY thing that matters is that I am feeding my children to the best of my ability in a way that is keeping us as happy and healthy (mentally and physically) as possible.
I will save my own baby feeding story for another day because my sorority sister, Kayla, (see above picture of us from 2009) has written hers and it covers all the bases fully! Kayla and I lived in the ADPi house together with 8 other girls during my junior and senior year at Charleston. Fast forward 9 years and we have 7 children between the two of us! WILD. Its been fun keeping up with the chaos of one another’s lives across states through social media and we definitely compare mom notes and war stories 😉 Kayla just started a blog called Hallelujah + Amen which you should definitely pop over to check out. In the meantime, she is guest posting on one of the most talked about new mom topics: Boob, bottle or both?! Without further ado…
Boob, bottle, or both?
I have had 4 kids in 4 years. Yes, you read that right. This means I have 4 children under 4. So, pause right now, take some time, and say a prayer for my sanity and me. Thank you, now let’s proceed.
I am a mom to a 3 year old, Parker, an 18 month old, Gray, and 4 month old boy/girl twins, Charlee & Crew. And while I’m not pro at this mom thing, I would say I’m pretty seasoned in my experience. From singleton pregnancies to multiples, I’ve been around the pregnancy block if ya know what I mean. Having kids does a lot to your body and mental state, and mine is no exception. These little munchkins have left me with extra weight I’m desperately trying to lose, postpartum hair loss which I wish would stop, some stretch marks which will stay with me forever, and a lot of weight on my shoulders as I stay at home with them and I’m responsible for their well being day in and day out. Would I change it for the world? No, not one bit, but as you can imagine, it’s hectic around these parts.
With every pregnancy, I’ve learned a little bit more about motherhood. As a first time mom with Parker, I was an anxious helicopter mom, with Gray, I let back a little but still didn’t ask for help or leave him until he was 8 months old, and now with the twins, I have someone over at least once a week if not more so I can get out of the house BY MYSELF (self care y’all, so important) and I left them to go out of town when they were 3 months old.
So, each pregnancy has been different and each way I have raised them has been different … and this includes how I have fed them. CUE DRAMATIC DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN.
YES, that’s right. I’m talking about feeding babies. Let’s preface this by saying I absolutely believe FED IS BEST. And what I mean by that is that I could care less how you feed your babies as long as they are being fed. You can nurse them, you can supplement, or you could never let them take one suckle from your boob. Just feed your baby.
I do believe there are extreme benefits to being breastfed of course, I’ve seen it first hand as I nursed Parker until she was a year old and then was able to provide pumped milk for her until she was 15 months old. I was proud that I nurtured my 6lb 14oz baby girl for a whole year and I was all she needed. I watched as my milk changed colors as she got sick and how breastmilk literally became the answer for anything and everything. Baby sick? Breastmilk changes to give them the antibodies they need. Baby acne? Put some breastmilk on it. Weird rash? Breastmilk. Don’t have creamer? Just squirt some breastmilk in your coffee.
Okay, okay. Totally kidding about the last one, but hey, if you’ve done it, I’m only kind of judging you.
While I do believe that breastfeeding helped me bond with Parker, it’s not the only way I bonded with her. I mean, Parker has always been a daddy’s girl. Her bond with her dad is STRONG and his nipples are absolutely useless. Again, while there were crazy benefits of breastfeeding, like never being able to forget your boobs at home, there were also some things that were hard. Trying to keep your milk supply constant, especially while working, and pumping are stressful. Feeding in public was SO stressful to me. And I’m not saying this is everyone’s experience, but it’s mine and there were definitely things that were difficult for me. I suffered from postpartum anxiety after Parker was born and that meant that I was anxious all the time when she was around others or without me. She rarely was watched by other people and I was home, EVERY NIGHT, at 8pm so I could nurse her to sleep, because I didn’t think anyone else could put her to bed like I could. When I look back on that year, did I really miss anything SUPER important to be home every night? No, but it was taxing on my mental state. But, we made it to a year, and thankfully it wasn’t too hard, except for the time I got mastitis and I was very close to cutting my nipples off.
So, fast forward to January of 2018 when Gray was born and there was no doubt in my mind I was going to breastfeed him. I was a total pro, right? Wrong! With Gray, I could never fully correct his latch and when he fed it hurt up until the time I stopped nursing him. In the beginning he was feeding for 30 minutes at a time and seemed to be doing good. He was happy and sleeping well, so I thought everything was going just peachy. I went in for his 4 month check up and he was off the charts in height, but in weight, he was super low. Like so low that he hadn’t gained any weight from his last check up. Now, that was concerning. So, I had to go back in for weight checks and he still was not gaining any weight by 6 months. That’s when the doctor talked about supplementing.
Give my baby formula? What? But I breastfed my first born for a year? I know how to do this, I’ve done this before. I felt like a failure. And when I look back, I know I shouldn’t have, but I did. After a long discussion with my husband, I decided if I was going to give him formula, it would be all or nothing. I didn’t want to sit and nurse Gray for 30 min. and then have to give him a bottle on top of that. It wasn’t fair to Parker who had to just sit there and watch me or TV while I was doing that, and also, my mental state just could not handle it anymore. I was also getting clogged ducts all the time and still at 6 months my nips were raw and blistered. I know TMI, but nursing him was so hard on my body and that is NOT normal. If I was a first time mom, maybe I would think that it was, but this was my second baby and I knew in my gut, something was not right. I was also in the midst of postpartum depression and I just needed help, and in this case, it was help feeding my baby. So, I did it, I gave him a bottle of formula, and ya know what? He took it like a champ and guzzled that sucker down. He started gaining weight, got some cute baby rolls, and was still the happy little guy he always was. Formula did what my body wasn’t doing for him and the world didn’t stop. Imagine that?
And then boom, fast forward again to April 2019 when my sweet little surprise twins were born. Finding out I was pregnant with twins was CRAZY to say the least and I knew I was going to have to surrender all my pride and ask for help. And thank heavens I got over that, because I needed help and still do. Two babies plus two other ones to take care of is a lot. Right off the bat, I decided for the well being of my exploding brain that breastfeeding was just not going to be an option. Now, I know plenty of twin moms who have nursed their babies whether it was for the first month or first year, and man oh man, do I give them MAJOR props. But for me, breastfeeding just wasn’t going to happen. I remember them putting Crew and Charlee on my chest after they were born and they started the “crawl” toward my boobs and I was like NOPE, someone grab me a bottle STAT. I felt like a new mom all over again because this was so new to me. How do I know if they’ve eaten enough or too much? Do I feed them every 2-3 hours like breast fed babies? Is this formula the right one for them? And while all those questions worried me, you know what I realized? You just figure it out. You do. Just like when I had Parker or navigated switching with Gray. You just figure it out. You trust your mama gut and you go with it. The twins are now 4 months old and they are they sweetest babies. They are happy and healthy and don’t care that they never got the boob. And do I think they’ll grow up crying to me about how they were never breastfed and tell me I’m the worst mom ever? No, they’ll probably use it as ammunition against the other two and make fun of them for one time being attached to my boob.
So, my point is, no matter how you feed your baby, do what feels right to you. Whether you breastfeed for 1 day, a week, or a year, or you stick a bottle in their mouth the first sign of sucking, IT WILL BE JUST FINE. The way you feed your baby does not make you a good or bad mom, remember that. All my babies have been fed different ways, all 4 are happy and healthy, and all 4 have unique and wonderful personalities, and that’s not because of what they eat, that’s because of a little DNA and a whole lot of love.
Its about time someone who actually knows how to cook steps in with a recipe guest post! For all who know my friends, it should not come as a surprise that this delicious recipe is coming to the KittyMills fam from our fabulous foodie friend, Jamie. Not only is she great with what/where to eat, but she is also smart AF and has a great job at McCormick & Company (for non-Baltimoreans, McCormick was started and is headquartered in Baltimore County 🙂 :)). One of the many perks of the job is having the inside track on new and popular seasonings and spices. This is one of Jamie’s go to recipes and she preps it on a Sunday night and she and her husband can reheat for breakfast throughout the week. Without further ado…
Jalapeno chicken sausage (3 links) – Trader Joes (could use any protein here)
1 bag of baby spinach
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Prep all the veggies and sausage- I normally slice into small pieces.
Put the spinach on the stove top – I usually use a little coconut oil but you could use PAM or olive oil – and add in ALL veggies.
Cook over medium heat and continue stirring until onions and peppers soften.
Spray a casserole or pie dish with non-stick spray.
Pour the cooked veggies into the dish and spread evenly along the bottom.
Sprinkle the sausage pieces across the veggies evenly.
Pour in 2 cartons of egg whites.
Layer the top of the frittata with McCormick’s all purpose seasoning blend (I have a heavy hand and love for salt, so go as big or small as you want).
Cook for 20 minutes and check to see if center is cooked (you will be able to tell if it isn’t firm).
This entire recipe cooks enough for Brian and I to enjoy for breakfast during the work week and is a healthy (waist line and wallet) alternative to a daily Starbucks run. We slice it up and heat in the microwave for 30-45 seconds every morning- it is delicious! Enjoy!
As previously mentioned, I have several shopping addictions BUT for whatever reason I am pretty controlled in my spending and impulses when it comes to face products. Boring, right? LUCKY FOR US, I have lots of friends (and family) in high places, and my sister-in-law, KC, offered to share the latest and greatest in skincare for those who struggle with acne and blemishes. KC is the definition of a straight shooter – so you completely trust her recommendations and insight. AND a few of our friend Catie’s (a rockstar mama/blogger/skincare guru) faves are referenced, so its a double-whammy of amazingness. Without further ado…
Anyone who knows me knows I STRUGGLE with acne. I’ve tried everything under the sun, even fake sun, (PSA: don’t use tanning beds).
For the past 30-something years I have thought that drying out blemishes with get rid of them. Everything I ever used had glycolic or salicylic acid. ACID FOLKS, ACID!!! I just recently discovered the perfect combo for my skin centers around hydration. The more moisture my skin gets, the clearer it becomes. It may not work for everyone, but can’t hurt to try.
I follow the face wash with my FAVORITE face lotion ever. My friend Catie is a consultant for Maskcara Beauty (more on that later), and they have an amazing lotion called Milk Moisturizing Cream. I use it mornings and evening and sometimes throughout the day if my face feels dry.
Then, everything I need for my face is combined in one palette – I have 4 colors: foundation, highlight, contour, lip/cheek. Those are the only ones that I use, but you can build a bigger palette with more colors!
How does earning cash back on your online shopping purchases sound to you? Sounds PRETTY DANG GOOD to me – but, of course, I would have to see it to believe it. Enter one of my BEST and OLDEST friends, Eddie, to give us all the 4-1-1 on the very legitimate Rakuten. Eddie (aka EEJ to many who have known him since the days of his AIM screen name EJMoye33 which we used as his nickname which morphed into EEJ) is basically the gay, male version of me. The evolution of our relationship is far too hilarious/extensive for the intro to this post, but more to come on that at a later date. Without further ado…
Why Rakuten Made me Excited to be a Shopper Mom*
I’m not really a shopper, more of a conspiracy theorist– even Kitty Mills’ easier-than-pie shopping deals and simple lists give me anxiety. Why? Surely there’s a catch when the product you’re lusting over drops its value for just a day. Having lived in New York City for the better part of a decade and working just above Canal Street, I know too well that many deals today are good to be true.
But just over a year ago, I discovered a shopping tool that is truly a mirage in the mom-eat-mom desert of bargain-hunting, called Rakuten Deals.
“They Give Me Checkssss…”
I laughed when I saw the extremely cheesy, low-budget commercial for Ebates years ago. The mousey, midwestern housewife with the bad perm saying “They send me checks! Just for shopping at my favorite stores!” Peak Cringe Alert. Someone call the Fab 5 stat.
Checks? What am I going to do with a check? Is this the 90s?
I had to find the catch. I dug a bit deeper, started a trial account, and clicked around. After some time, I took off my cynical millennial hat and realized that only a fool would turn down a chance at free money. Therein begins my obsession.
Your Rainy-Day Fund Made Easy
Rakuten, formerly called Ebates, is a Cash Back, deals and shopping rewards portal for almost every store you could ever imagine. It’s super easy to sign up. Stores pay the site a commission for sending its members to their websites, and that’s where the cash comes in!
It’s a simple as clicking a deal, and then being re-directed to that store’s site.
Here’s how it works:
Once you have an account, you must start your online shopping trip with Rakuten and find your store. You can do this by clicking through to your store on the site – or I prefer to have a button on my browser. The button flashes every time I visit a website that offers cash back and will direct me to unlock the deal. It even applies coupons automatically at checkout, so you’ll always get the best deals.
Cash Back deals go up and down all the time. There are double and triple cash back days, and most align with the store’s sales. The discounts are ON TOP of what you save with regular seasonal sales.
You can also link your account/credit cards to get cash back IN-STORE at the same places.
The Big Payoff
Rakuten sends a check to your house quarterly for the sum of all your cash back purchases.
So far, in a little more than one year, I’ve made more than $630.00 using the service. I can apply it to my weekly meal services, Amazon, almost everything.
So, moms, dads, Mary El’s and Maeves – anyone who shops online. Do yourself a favor and harness the power of this awesome shopping hack! SIGN UP HERE!!!
*Eddie Moye is not really a mom, but a surrogate gay uncle to many babies of his BFFs.
I am #blessed to have several BOSS BABES in my inner circle, but my sister, Anne, is the cream of the crop! I have been trying to convince her to become a Business Communications professor (in all of her extra spare time 😹) because she really has such an extensive knowledge on the topic. There will be more content to come from her that so many working women can benefit from, but she’s kicking it off with her business travel essentials! Without further ado… ENJOY!!!!
Hi All! Just popping in to share a quick guest post on a topic on something I have become quite acquainted with: Business Travel! Truly these tips/tricks could be useful for anyone traveling away from home!
Like my sister Kitty, I am a full-time working mama, one less child aka no TWINS! But I have my hands full with two boys, Jackson is 5, James is 2! No one juggles it all like Kitty for the record! Anyway, my day job as an HR Manager is 50+ hours weekly and often requires travel between multiple locations. I try and make as many meetings as possible to get the best return on investment on my time away from the home front. I have gotten pretty darn close to mastering exactly what I need to bring with me on these trips to make getting ready as easy as possible. How I prepare everyone in my family for the departure is a story for another day! In all seriousness, I am blessed with a capable and supportive husband and network to help hold it down when I am away for long stretches.
Anyways, onto my list of MUST HAVES FOR WORK TRAVEL:
***Food & Drink***
RX Bars — These are amazing! I put a few in my purse and a few in my carry-on and know I have a quick snack if I need it. I really like the size and the texture of the KidsRX bars over the full size.
Water bottle — I am a tap water kind of girl, but no matter where you go the water just tastes different! I love this for traveling between desks or having water on hand in my hotel room for the night.
Body wash — This is a game changer overall for me! I love the smell and truly helps reduce overall body odor! 5 stars! I put it in a little travel size and never leave home without it.
Hair-holders — These are not only adorable but durable! I have a lot of hair, again not Kitty status, but a massive amount! These last through workouts with very minimal hair creasing.
Color theme is KEY. I usually try and pack in one or two color theme’s (usually blue or pink) and minimal and comfortable shoes. Nobody got time for blisters on road!
I always bring this blazer. Here is a similar option. My companies are VERY casual but you never know when a certain guest might attend your meetings or the office is freezing (often!) and this way I am ready for anything. Plus they both hold up well in transit.
Travel Steamer — One of my top amazon purchases of all-time! This makes getting wrinkly clothes from a suitcase to presentable a breeze! It gets hot and cools down quickly.
Wireless mouse — I may have been the only person in 2019 without one of these but it has been a productivity game changer when I am away from my regular office. Worth the $$ 10 times over!
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about traveling with toddlers: DRINK TICKETS. Unfortunately, sipping your way through what tends to be a high stress situation isn’t even an options because the number of hands you will have available is -6. In this exact moment I am remembering a flight to Florida with a 1 year old Nolan where the flight attendant brought me white wine with a lid and straw – she was a HERO! I wonder what kind of service I could get flying solo with all three kids?! Not sure I will EVER find out. Nolan has been on several flights and I used to bop around with him relatively freely… and then we had twins and we have yet to attempt flying with all three, BUT when that time comes, Marianne would certainly be a go to resource on how to make it happen with as few tears and sweat pellets as possible. Trust me when I tell you that this girl does her research and knows her sh*t! Without further ado… ENJOY!!!!
While I am by no means an expert, after almost 15 round trip flights with my 3 year old, and now with two in tow, I have figured out enough about how to fly with toddlers so that it can be enjoyable… or at least manageable enough that you just might be able to enjoy an in-flight beverage. Traveling with babies and toddlers seems completely overwhelming, but preparation is key to feeling like the traveling parent superman.
***Before the Flight***
Babies under 2 fly free, so capitalize on that and take your baby and travel!!! Make friends with the flight attendants and often if there’s an extra seat on the plane, they’ll find a way to make sure it’s yours. If you’re flying international, look in to booking the bassinets when you’re buying your ticket. On some airlines you can reserve it free of charge if you book early enough. Long flights and fewer layovers are always preferable.
***At the Airport***
On the day of, build time into your schedule because you’ll need to actually go to the counter to check-in. You will need a copy of baby’s birth certificate or a vaccination record in order to obtain a ticket for a baby/child. Check EVERYTHING-car seat (if lap child), travel crib, all the suitcases, all of it so that you have as little as possible. We walk away with the diaper bag and a backpack. Bonus points if it’s a backpack diaper bag so you can truly have all hands free. When it was just my daughter I even preferred to check the stroller and pop her in the Ergo. If you’re flying solo, babywearing is essential.
Pack any pureed food/pouches, milk, formula, etc. in a bag within the diaper bag. Blue gel ice packs are typically accepted. Security will most likely ask they to be pulled out and scanned separately. TSA is notoriously awful at efficiency, so set the bar low, stay friendly and you’ll typically be pleasantly surprised.
***On the Flight***
Wipe down everything. I get building up your immune system, but planes are gross.
Ask your flight attendant not just which bathroom has the changing table, but where exactly it is in there. They’re often disguised.
Try to hold off nursing or giving a bottle until actual take-off. If baby won’t take a bottle/nurse, make sure you have a pacifier, sippy cup, or pouch to suck on to help with the pressure. They won’t let you wear the baby carrier during take-over, but usually you just take off the straps, hold baby and put the straps back on once you’re in the air.
Pack LOTS of outfits. My three month old had two blow outs on a 2.5 hour flight. How. Don’t forget a fresh shirt for mom too. A handful of burp clothes can be helpful for a multitude of fouls, especially if the carrier is a victim of the blow out and you need something between baby and a dity carrier. An oversized muslin blanket makes for an easy floor cover in a quiet corner of the airport to allow baby to stretch out and play before the flight.
Babies under 6 months really don’t need much in the way of activities. Here are some of my favorite activities for older babies and toddlers.
“Busy” food — Cheerios, puffs, raisins etc. that they need to work to pick up
Masking/painters tape/mini Post-It notes/stickers/sticker books — Tape things to the tray table or window. Toddlers love picking and sticking.
Water bottle and pom poms — put in, take out. Repeat.
WaterWow “coloring” books – if you don’t already know about these, purchase NOW for everyday use but also pack for your flight.
A few additional activity recommendations:
Do NOT take the special lovie, blanket, etc. unless you have a backup in your suitcase. The risk of losing something is too high.
Wait 30 minutes between each toy being given, if possible, so they don’t burn through everything in the first hour.
Hold off on letting your toddler run the aisles as long as possible. Once they nkow its an option, there’s no looking back.
***Travel Equipment Recommendations***
**Carseat** Taking a car seat is an absolute non-negotiable. Rental car companies rent seats that are often expired, wrong for height/weight/age, improperly cleaned (and therefore compromised), or not available despite being reserved. As someone that flew four hours, only to be stuck with my luggage and a four month old baby for another two hours while my husband fought with the rental car company over the joke of a car seat and then drove to Target to buy us a car seat, I can tell you- it’s. not. worth. it. The car seat is the only item you pack that has the potential to save your child’s life. It’s worth taking your own. This (Cosco Scenera NEXT) is the absolute best for travel as it’s really well rated, easy to install and very light (plus under $50!). Whichever you decide, make sure it’s certified for use in aircraft. You can buy a cheap carry bag from the counter at Southwest or online. You can also stow some larger, lightweight, oversized items in there too (blankets, etc.).
**High Chair** Depending on where you’re going, this (Mountain Buggy Clip On Seat) may or may not be necessary. But if you don’t want to worry about your hosts having an extra high chair or want to have a place to stick your baby so you can enjoy your rose while sitting at a picnic table at an outdoor winery, this should be in your suitcase. Bonus points for it laying completely flat and weighing only two pounds.
Toddlers- Too big for a travel crib. Too squirmy to put in your bed. Enter the toddler blow up bed. Including the pump, it becomes compact enough to fit in a suitcase!
Secret weapon is the SlumberPod — Yes, it’s expensive, but after the first time when you’re not stuck hanging out in the hotel bathroom because it’s the only place you can turn the light on after you put the baby to bed, you too will understand why it’s worth every penny.
If the baby is going to sleep in a pack n’ play – think about ordering a topper for the mattress so that its more comfortable and less crinkly.