Fall - my favorite time of the year! I love the colors, the smells, the apple cider, playing in the leaves, the pictures... :D
I adore these two. I got to meet little Teagan and her sweet mama earlier this year, and it's amazed me how much she's grown in the short months that I've known her.
Big brother Brolin is a super fun bundle of pure energy!
I mean, just how cute are these two?!
Mama sent me the following picture from last year and asked me if there was anything similar during our shoot.
And, indeed, there was. I guess some things never change ;)
I got my start in professional photography working in a studio where I mostly photographed children. When I received my first DSLR, I started doing band photography, because that was what I was into at the time. When I got a little older, I started doing engagement photography, because I was surrounded by college student love. I eventually started doing wedding photography.
Now that I've had a baby myself, I feel like I'm going back to my roots by going back to children/family photography. I've been blessed by the opportunity to work with 3 families in the past 2 weeks, including the Kiser boys.
These two kept me on my toes! It was amazing!
Love these boys! Thank you for bringing them out, Kristin!
So, this isn't a Pinterest recipe. Things have been a little crazy, so I've been slacking on trying new things. BUT! I still have an awesome recipe for you.
This is a potnasty creation. You read that right: potnasty. Basically, that's when you throw a bunch of stuff in a pot a hope for the best. In this case, we got what we hoped for.
The only thing with potnasty is there's no specific measurements, so you kinda have to eye it.
For this, I wanted enough to last me and Bear a few days, so I threw 4 chicken breasts in the bottom of the crock pot with about 4 tbs of olive oil, just enough to keep it from sticking. I added some pepper, a good coat of paprika, a few dashes of chili powder, and a decent amount of cumin. I told you, potnasty. If I had to guess, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tbs paprika, 1/2 tbs chili powder, and 1 tbs cumin. I then added about half a box (2 cups) of chicken broth and set the crock pot to high.
After about 4 hours, the chicken falls apart! So I shredded it with a couple forks. I diced up a large onion and a couple of bell peppers, minced several cloves of garlic, and threw all of that in the crock pot. I added about a cup of sliced mushrooms, 1 can of navy beans, 1 can of black beans, and a drained can of corn (I did not drain the beans). I topped it off with the remaining chicken broth. Popped the lid back on and waited. Which was hard, because it smelled AWESOME.
And it was. Even more so the next day. In fact, we both almost ate it for breakfast.
I guess it could technically be called soup, because it wasn't very thick. However, you could easily add a few tablespoons of corn starch to thicken it when you add all of the veggies.
Try it out and tell me what you think! Also, does your family have any potnasty recipes? Share them in the comments!
Our Bean is 4 months old now! Where does the time go?! *ugly cries*
He's growing and developing in so many ways, physically and mentally, that it's blowing my mind. He's grown another half inch in 2 weeks, and is officially double his birth weight! Hurray for mama milk! He had his 4 month appointment last week, and his pediatrician was thoroughly impressed at his head control and general awareness. She says he's growing beautifully!
Bean has become even more aware of colors and designs, he loves to reach out at mine and Bear's tattoos, always with a look of extreme interest and concentration. He will point at and pat our tattoos for several minutes. He also loves the brightly colored mural at the pediatrician's office, and apparently loves my bright pink bathrobe. Haha!
He's become increasingly independent in play, enjoying his doorway bouncer and activity mat. He even enjoys tummy time now! He is holding his head up SO well and loves to "talk" and laugh at mama and papa while on his tummy. Bean also loves sitting up, though he still needs a little support.
This guy is going to be Bear's adrenaline junkie buddy!! He loves being spun around and falling backward from a sitting position on the bed, and being "tossed" up in the air.
He's also starting to get a better grasp on things, quite literally. He is more aware than ever of his hands, and loves to grab at his toys, try to hold a cup during bath time (which he LOVES), and even his feet!
It makes me sad to see him getting so big so quickly, but I'm so proud of his accomplishments already, and can't wait to see what comes next.
EDITED TO ADD: So yeah, I'm totally in denial. Bean has been watching us eat with great interest. Just last week, he reached for Bear's chicken chili. Not once, not twice, but three times. I am so not ready for this!
Losing the baby weight. Baby wearing. Strollers. Baby food. Baby cereal. Exclusively breast-fed. Pumping a freezer full. Vaccinating. No-vax. Delayed/selective vax. Cloth diapering. Disposable diapers. Co-sleeping. Living crunchy. All-natural. Formula-fed. Home birth. Hospital birth. Natural. Unmedicated. Epidural. Scheduled cesarean section.
Did any of these make you cringe, just a little? If you're a mama, then you most likely answered yes. Maybe you cringed because it was something you're entirely against; but, if you're like me, you cringed because you feel guilty about doing/not doing one or more of the aforementioned things.
Why? What makes us feel guilty? Sure, the media can be blamed some, with tabloids blaring how so-and-so has her pre-baby body back just weeks after birth. But I think it's much closer to home. In fact, it's in our homes. It's you, and it's me.
Yes, us. We do this to ourselves and each other. Every time we judge another mom for doing something differently than we would, we're bringing her down. I once read a comment that said, "Motherhood is the nastiest competitive sport I've ever played." Ouch.
Just because another mother chooses differently for herself and/or her child doesn't mean she's wrong. Maybe she's spent hours agonizing over the decision. Maybe she's shed tears over the overwhelming amount of information. Maybe she hasn't done any research at all; she may not even realize there's research she could do. Maybe she has complete trust in her caregivers and simply gone with their suggestions.
Who knows, besides these women themselves? And unless they offer their reasoning unsolicited to us, it's none of our business. Does that mean if we see a need, we shouldn't offer to help? Absolutely not! But, I'm begging you, do it in a loving, gentle, kind way. Chewing out another mom for doing things differently only serves to take her down and destroy our solidarity as mothers.
The worst, I think, is ourselves, though. We scroll through Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards and BCC chat rooms and Facebook groups, and see all the happy, all if the good stuff, all the moms that have "got this down." Nothing ever seems to go wrong in their perfectly organized and chevronned homes. The perfect hair and makeup selfies with their babies adds to the disillusionment. We begin to feel inadequate. Less-than. Simply not enough.
Let me tell you... There are dishes in my sink. Dirty clothes piled up in front of the washer, and clean clothes in baskets and on top of (rather than in) the dresser. I cloth diaper, MOST of the time. I use disposable wipes. We chose to selectively delay vaccinations. We co-sleep. Bean has had less than 5 bottles in his 4 month existence earthside, and all of them were breast milk. I tried to pump a freezer stash in case of emergency, and I have MAYBE ten ounces, because I don't respond well to a pump, and Bean gets upset that something else is taking his milk, and it makes my boobs hurt. I use essential oils and prefer natural remedies, but I'll take Tylenol if I have to. We bath Bean nightly with organic castile soap. Bean and I do baby yoga sometimes, and other times we dance around to Rob Zombie. I deferred the circumcision decision to Bear, and he chose no circumcision for Bean. We planned a home birth, but ended up with a c-section. We plan to have a home birth with our next, should we be blessed with another child.
Some things, like the dishes and laundry, are just a part of life. The other things are personal decisions. NONE OF THESE THINGS REQUIRE EXPLANATION OR JUSTIFICATION, TO MYSELF OR TO ANYONE ELSE. None of these make me better or worse than anyone else, just different. None of these things make me a bad mom, either; they just mean I'm human.
We need each other, and that means we need to stop beating each other up. And we need to get past the rose-colored screens, and realize that the Facebook and Pinterest moms are just as human as we are, and stop beating ourselves up. Let's work on building up our community of moms.
I guess what I'm driving at is this: You are not in this alone, you are doing the best that you can for yourself and your family, and you are more than enough. <3
These two. Oh, my heart.
Every time I pick up my camera now, I realize more and more how much I missed it. Children are such a joy to capture, and these sisters are no exception!
I mean, seriously. How can you not want to join them?
Little Miss Sassypants <3
Her "cheese" face :P So adorable!
If this doesn't reduce your heart to a puddle of mush, I don't know what would. *squeeee*
I am so in love with how these turned out! Angie, it was so wonderful getting to work with your girls <3 Thank you for allowing me this opportunity! I love you guys!
I still have a few slots open for Saturday, October 25th for some more Fall Minis! Message me for more info!!
I've been meaning to talk about this one for a while now. But before I go any further, I'd like to preface this post. I think breastfeeding is awesome, natural, and the best thing for baby. I also think that formula is awesome, full of nutrients, and the best thing for baby. If you feed your baby the best thing that YOU can, I think you're an awesome mom who's made the best choice for her child, regardless of whether it's breast milk or formula. With that being said...
This is my breastfeeding journey, and I'd like to share in hopes of encouraging other mamas.
I don't know when I made the decision, but I kind of always knew I'd breastfeed. It might be because I saw my mom do it, but I honestly don't remember it. I was 7 years old when my youngest bio sibling was weaned, so maybe it's in my subconscious somewhere. Anyway, it was just a given that I'd nurse my children.
I did my research while pregnant. I read Dr. Sears' breastfeeding book (okay, I skimmed), I took the classes, I learned about the rainbow of poops colors to expect and how many poop and pee diapers to make sure my child was getting enough. I practiced the cradle hold, the cross-cradle hold, the football hold. I learned about nose-to-nipple and how important it is to have a deep latch. I bragged to friends about how one of my birth team members was a Lactation Consultant, so we'd be nursing pros from the get-go.
I had some fear that I would not be able to breastfeed, because my sister had been unable to, and I saw how much that broke her heart. I was super grateful for all of the support I had, and super excited when I started leaking colostrum at the end of my second trimester.
I'm not sure if the unexpected transfer to the hospital was the wrench that got thrown in the cogs of breastfeeding, or if it would have been just as difficult if we'd had our planned homebirth, but I wanted to give up SO. MANY. TIMES.
Either from the trauma of an unexpected c-section, or from the medication, or maybe both, I no longer remember the first time I held my son. I do know that I was asking for him, because even in my anesthetized brain I knew that the sooner he latched, the better. I remember having the bed propped and being surrounded by a fortress of pillows, with a nurse and my midwife on either side, trying to help Bean latched on. I also remember thinking, how the hell am I supposed to fit all of this in that tiny mouth?! (TMI - I'm a Bologna Barb, and the references always say to get the latch completely around the areola. My child would have to have the jaws of a snake to get around these dinner plates! *boob grab*)
My first big frustration was the second night after his birth. My milk had not yet come in (it generally takes 3-5 days, sometimes longer with a c-section), so Bean was cluster nursing (read: constantly attached to a boob) all. night. long. I was exhausted and still half out of it on pain pills, and his little cries broke my heart, so I let him nurse however he wanted rather than making sure he had a good latch. Unfortunately, he was shallow, as newborns often are, and I woke up with nipples red and purple from blood blisters. A nurse brought me some lanolin, and I asked for the Lactation Consultant on staff, as well as a breast pump. I knew I was not going to be able to allow him nurse from my left breast, it was so badly blistered. My right breast had plenty of blisters, too, but not quite as many, and I didn't quite feel the urge to scream as much thinking about Bean latching onto that side.
They say they brought me a breast pump, what it looked like was a machine from the age of the iron lung. I was afraid to touch it, much less attach it to my boobs! While Bean was in the nursery having antibiotics, Bear and I took a walk, and I called my friend to give her an update on Bean and to ask her help on breastfeeding. When I told her what the nurses had been telling me, her reply was, "Oh, honey..." She proceeded to provide me with a good deal of great information, including how to block feed, warnings about engorgement and ways to help relieve it, and a few other tidbits.
When we returned to our room, we discovered that my milk was coming in! I was thankful that I had labored as long as I had before being transferred, I'm convinced that's why it came in so quickly after my c-section. I texted my midwife to let her know, and she gave me some advice, reiterating several of the things that my friend had told me earlier.
While I was grateful that my milk came in slowly and I didn't become suddenly engorged as I had been warned, feeding Bean still felt like an issue, a challenge. Because I was so terrified of the ancient machine standing next to my bed, I hand expressed, using a syringe to collect the droplets of milk. It took me a good 20+ minutes to get 1/2 mL and a matter of seconds for Bean to eat it from the syringe. We continued this practice through the rest of the day. By the next morning, I was able to have him latch again, but only with clenched teeth. I was in agony every time he nursed, from either side, but he was giving us the allotted number of poop and pee diapers, and they looked just like the pictures and graphs all said they should, so I pressed on.
The worst day in the history of ever was that following Monday, when he was a mere 9 days old. We both had follow up appointments, him with his pediatrician and me with the OB who had preformed our c-section. His was first, and he did well, despite the fact it was way too early for any of us to be up. Thankfully, the OB was right upstairs from the pediatrician, so we were there minutes after his appointment was over. Admittedly, we were a few minutes late, but the office was packed and the receptionist assured me it was no big deal. I filled out my paperwork, and we waited.
And nursed while we waited some more.
Side note: While I am not ashamed to nurse in public, I am ashamed to say that I felt quite smug at the fact I was the only one nursing in a room full of mothers with babies. I have no clue of the reasons why they formula-fed, and it's honestly none of my business. So I am sending my apology into the universe, hoping it restores some balance.
When I finally got called back for my appointment (2 hours after my scheduled time), the OB got called out for a birth as a nurse was getting my vitals. I was told to come back in about 3 hours. Bear had to go to work to fill out paperwork, so we rode out with him. We had just enough time to go back to the house and feed Bean again before I had to go back to the OB.
By the time we got home, all three of us were stressed out. Bean kept crying and wouldn’t latch, but was obviously hungry. I felt like I was starving him. After hours of fighting to get him to nurse, I broke down, sobbing hysterically right along with Bean. I told Bear that I had failed, that I couldn’t do this, that I was starving him. Bear held us both and told me that it was okay, that if I needed to, we could supplement or switch to formula. In a way, that made me feel worse, like I had for sure failed, but it was a relief at the same time.
Thankfully, one of the women on my birth team was still nursing her youngest, and had left us some of her milk in the freezer. I finally remembered the donor milk, and we fed him by syringe again. We were using the syringe to avoid nipple confusion, and I figured it would be better to avoid bottles until I knew for sure whether or not we would keep breastfeeding. Once his tummy was full, he finally calmed down and we all got some much-needed sleep.
The next day, Bean was latching again, and I talked to my LC. She reminded me that stress can inhibit milk production, and the day that we had was enough to really hinder me. I took a deep breath and told Bear that I had decided to keep going. I had started out with the goal of at least 1 year, but I knew at this point that I would have to have smaller goals, too, in case we didn’t make it to a year. I set my next goal to 3 weeks, then 3 months.
I still cringed every time he latched for the next several weeks, but his latch got deeper as he got bigger, and so became less painful. This video was a HUGE help to us. We are now 4 months strong, and I am so proud of us. Bear tells me all the time that he is proud of us, too. We would not have made it without his support, without him getting me food and water and anything else I needed when I was tied to the couch during growth spurts.
We have had been through so many challenges and trials in such a short time, but now I know that my little family can get through anything, as long as we do it together.
For anyone who doesn’t know much about cloth diapers, one of the best things for a CDing mama is FLUFF MAIL! You heard that right, FLUFF mail. This is what we call packages containing cloth diapers and/or CDing accessories. Because the packages are fluffy *giggles*. In the past couple of weeks, I got not one, but two deliveries of fluff mail.
I nearly died from happiness.
You may remember a few months ago when I talked about the beginning of my CD Journey, and how it took a major turn for the better when I started using GroVia Cloth Diapers Hybrid AI2 (All In 2) shells. AI2 means a complete diaper in 2 pieces. The GroVia diaper shell is the waterproof outer layer, or what most people think of when they think “diaper”. The second piece is a snap-in absorbent insert, or soaker pads.
Until recently, we were using pre-folds in place of inserts. Prefolds are the old-school cloth diaper, the kind my mom used on my sisters and me when we were babies, and that we used as dust rags when we got older. This system was working pretty well for us, until recently when Bean became a heavy wetter in the morning. Bear and I could change him 2-3 times in the morning, and he’d STILL soak through every poor little prefold.
My first fluff mail contained a preview of two of GroVia’s newest items: a Hybrid shell in Topaz – seriously the prettiest blue ever – and no-prep soaker pads. This shell snaps around the waist, which is what I prefer, although Bear prefers the Hook and Loop (a.k.a. Velcro) waist. The soaker pads are suuuuuper thick, so I couldn’t wait to try them out, especially for the early morning hours. I threw them in the wash the day I got them, and tried them out that night. What I love most about the soaker pads is that they snap right in the shell and you put the diaper on just like you would a disposable. There’s no thinking to it, which is really good when you’re changing a kicking baby at 3am.
The microfiber and microfleece of the no-prep soaker held up pretty well against our morning heavy wetter, but not quite as well as I had hoped. However, it was still much better than prefolds and allowed me a little more sleep than before. I still love the no-prep soaker for the day, especially for if we’re going out somewhere, since changing a baby in a public bathroom is hard enough without having to wrestle with snappis and prefolds. I can have the soaker snapped into a shell and ready to go as soon as I grab it! See, CDing doesn’t have to be difficult :)
I had the opportunity to order some more GroVia (yay!!), so I decided to get another shell and both of the remaining style of soaker pads. Since Bear prefers the hook and loop closure, I picked Drift in H&L. One thing I love about H&L is that once your baby is old enough to start pulling away at the tabs, you can send your diaper to GroVia and they will convert it to snaps for a super minimal fee. Somehow, Drift ended up even cuter in person!
So now we have 3 snapping shells, 3 H&L shells, 2 no-prep soakers, 2 organic cotton soakers, and 2 stay dry soakers, along with an ever growing pile of prefolds (seriously, these things keep coming to us out of nowhere). This is referred to as a “stash”. I love my stash.
Holy. Hemp. Soakers.
So, after discussing our issue of multiple morning diaper changes for Sir Peesalot with my all-cloth-diaper-knowing friend, she suggested using hemp inserts, as hemp is more absorbent than cotton. The stay dry soakers are made up of just that. Hallelujah! When we use the stay dry soaker, I sleep all morning with little man and wake up to dry sheets!
Some “issues” that we have with prefolds have been easily solved with the GroVia soaker pads. First, all of the soakers have a water-proof backing, which saves the shells from getting wet, allowing you to use shells multiple times before washing. With prefolds, a pee diaper means you have to let the shell dry between uses, and you can only use it a few times before it needs to be washed. The used soaker can be snapped out and a fresh soaker then snapped into place quite easily, all while the shell stays dry and clean, which means fewer loads of laundry.
Another problem with prefolds (especially if you use them the easy way like we do: trifold and stick ‘em in the shell) is that a poopy explosion can leak its way into the shell. The soakers all have leg gussets, which are like ruffles of extra material that give extra protection against the poopy explosions. We have still had a few that leak into the shells, but not near as many as when prefolds are used.
You may be wondering what the deal with the no-prep soakers is. Here’s the deal: when you get new cloth diapers or soakers, you have to run them through the washing machine at least 5-6 times before you can use them, in order to “strip” them of all processing residue and make them as absorbent as possible. Which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t a big deal, but seems like it when you get your fluff mail and want to use them RIGHT NOW. The no-prep soakers only have to be run through the wash once before they can be used. Sa-weet.
SO! Now that you know how much I love GroVia’s awesome Hybrid cloth diapers, how would you like to get some of your own? Great! Because GroVia is sponsoring a giveaway for my readers! One lucky reader will win their choice of a Hybrid shell AND a set of soaker pads! Get clicking!
***Disclaimer: The author was provided product at no cost; however, all opinions stated herein are solely the author's.
I am so excited to be getting behind my camera again!
For those of you who may not know, I moved to Eastern Kentucky a little less than a year ago. Due to my impregnated state, I did very little exploring. Of course, I haven't been exploring much since I became un-impregnated, either, since Bean pretty much hates his car seat with a fiery burning passion. So when a request came up for Fall Minis, I was happy to oblige, but had no idea where to do it at!
Thankfully, a mama friend, Katie Miller, happily offered use of her land. So, last week, Bean and I packed up the car and headed down to Pikeville to visit our friends and test out the shoot site. Using Katie's sweet (and extremely photogenic) daughter Madeline as my test subject, I took a few shots. They turned out GORGEOUS, pretty much because Madeline is such a cutie!
I hope you all are as excited as I am about the Fall Minis! Only 6 spots are still available as I'm writing this. Reserve your spot now!
This is not a Pinterest dinner, but it should be. At least, I think it should be.
I came up with this in college, when I was super broke. I needed something more filling than tuna and crackers, but I needed it to be cheap. Like, super cheap.
This is how it started, and it hasn't evolved much.
I never came up with a name for it, so if you can, tell me in the comments!
I still love it, for it's ease. But don't let it fool you, this is suuuuuper delish!
You really probably only need 2-3 cloves of garlic, but in this house we tend to go overboard.
Did I mention we like garlic?
So this is how easy: Heat some olive oil in the pan. Chop up your garlic and onions and toss them in. While those are cooking, chop up your chicken into small pieces. Once your onions are nice and clear, toss in the chicken.
Cook the chicken through, then add the rice and water. You can use chicken broth in place of water, and it will just add that much more flavor. Cover the pan, and let it cook for about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse the beans, add those to the pan, and cover again until the beans are heated through. Salt and pepper to taste. Bear likes to add soy sauce to his instead of salt.
Rice and beans together are a good source of protein, or so I've been told.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Chicken Dinner on a Dime
Mama Bear of one Baby Bear, Bean, who both love Papa Bear, and live in a crafty, gluten-free cozy den.