Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Big Girl, 2 Going on 5

"I never get to go in this cabinet, don't make me close the door"

Happy girl

First time pushing the kid's cart at Trader Joe's
Ava is getting more independent each day. It's so fun to see how much she can do by herself now like put on her shoes, take off her clothes, or brush her hair. I'm amazed by how much she can carry while going up or down the stairs! Whenever we go around the house, she wants to bring her toys with her. She'll say "stroller coming?" Or mostly "stroller coming, mama" in a very determined voice. This morning she carried a big box with her crayons up the stairs by herself. The conversations that we have are so different than just a few months ago. Sometimes when she's looking for a specific toy she'll say "baby doll, where go?" Then I'll tell her that it's in her bedroom and she'll go upstairs to get her.

A couple weeks ago, we shopped at Trader Joe's, which is her favorite store! She saw a couple kids pushing the kids carts and asked me if she could use it too. We shopped through the store and she enjoyed picking out things at her level and things on our list. On our shopping trips,  Ava searches for the green monkey hidden in the store. She asks to give the plush monkey a hug and then she gets a treat from the bowl. The workers stock it with suckers, fresh fruit, and cereal bars. She loves to pick a cereal bar to snack on in the store!
Little girl pig tails

The morning we shopped, I asked her to pick from the different dresses to wear. She also likes to pick out her shoes. And I put pigtails in her hair then she picked out the yellow flower barrette for her hair. I like to offer her a couple of choices to empower her to make decisions. Aaron gives her less choices, but his parenting style is more "go with the flow" so that works too.

I'm also amazed by how much Ava understands about how the world works. Tonight, she noticed the sun was setting and she knew that meant that the moon would come out since it was turning into nighttime. We talk about things all the time as she's trying to figure it all out.

My mother-in-law reminded us last weekend that the parenting you do at age 2 is going to pay off when our children turn into teenagers. I loved hearing that because my greatest fear in parenting wasn't babyhood, it was the teen years! I think it's because of how my brothers were in their teen years. I want Ava to be a confident lady! But for right now, I'm going to love mothering a two-year old!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day Trip Mama

Hooray for Nursing Room! Then I realized it was a bathroom too.

My coworkers think it's hilarious, but I'm known for my day trips for work travel. I get up very early and head to a city to meet with clients and then head home that night. The longest I've flown for the day is Phoenix and it was about 21 hours away from home! I had to transfer in Memphis on the way out, but I got home on a direct flight.

I love day trips because it's easier on my family being a mother to a young kiddo. My work requires me to travel and when I do, I try for a day trip. I just had my first overnight trip away from Ava since she was born, only a few weeks ago for a work event in Toronto. I'm really glad that I waited until Ava was old enough to understand that I was leaving. When you're a mother it's so darn hard on the kids when you're away. Aaron told me that Ava missed me so much. My day trips have forced Aaron to to creatively figure a different bedtime routine without nursing. They've developed their own routine for when I'm gone. And some nights, he'll take her to dinner out at a restaurant and send me a picture of their special bonding time. It's really sweet!

I believe that a mother and baby should be together as much as possible in these early formative years. Research also shows that a baby needs their mother present as much as possible. In fact, the trusted bond with a mother and baby, results in a more independent child and adult. Our nursing relationship has always reinforced this belief.

When I travel for long day trips or my overnight, I have to bring my breast pump and creatively find places to pump in airports, hotels, client's offices and search for places to freeze my cooler bags and store my milk. The TSA requires cooler packs to be frozen so I'm always looking for places to store my packs in a freezer. When I've been at my client's offices or hotels, people have been really accommodating to me. Airports are the worst for a nursing mother who needs a place to pump. Apart from the Indy airport, no other airports that I've been in have a dedicated lactation room that isn't in a bathroom. The Indy airport is new and they took the time to put in two mother's room (inside and outside of security) for mothers to nurse or pump. But since it's my home airport, I've only used it once.

With day trips, I spend my time on the ground in a city looking from a window of a cab or building. But I enjoy it!
The Toronto and Dallas airports call their family bathrooms "nursing rooms." I took the picture above of a sign that was outside of the room. It shows the international breastfeeding symbol on the front. I waited for over 10 minutes for the room, then a guy struts out after "doing his business." I was really disappointed to learn it was also a bathroom. I told him that I had to pump milk in there and showed him the sign. He was clueless!

A few TSA agents have tried to bully me into putting my expressed milk through the x-ray machines. Most of the times, that's a rare occasion and the agents are really nice. If you ask for alternative screening, they will open the bottle of milk and wave a paper over the opening, then place the paper in a machine or just use a paper on the outside of the bottles and bag. I've tried to find information if it's safe to put breastmilk in the x-ray machine and found very little about it. So, I go on the safer side.

I travel with a heavy pump and gear all over airports and cabs while hauling my work computer. I'm happy to do it because it protects my nursing relationship.

A month ago, I got an email to our La Leche League group from a mother traveling to Indy for work who decided it was easier to donate her milk locally, than to carry it home to her baby. I met her just before she went to the airport and picked up her milk in a cooler. That night, I met up with two families who gratefully received the donation. I was happy to see that loving act from one family to others for babies in need.

In my breastfeeding support group, we have lots of moms that ask how they can travel while maintaining their breastfeeding relationship. My suggestion is try to see if you can (1) travel with your nursling or (2) minimize your travel away. For my first trip, I traveled with my mother-in-law and she was the "Granny Nanny" while I was working. It was awesome. Then, I traveled with Ava and found childcare by asking a client or using a personal connection when we arrived. That worked  for trip home to the Bay Area, Portland, and even Chicago just last week. Here's my blog post on toddler travel tips when we went to San Francisco last summer. If you travel without your nursling, minimizing your time away is key. That means a day trip or prioritizing the days that you must attend the events. The truth is that it's really hard to be away from your baby and kids. Aaron has to leave work earlier to do daycare pick-up and then we have to prep for when I'm gone. I make sure the cloth diapers are clean and Ava's bag is packed for daycare.

Pumping on the road can be a challenge, but you can do it! I can't tell you how many times, I've had to pump in a public restroom out in the open. I use a Simple Wishes pumping bra and a Bravado nursing tank so I have very little skin exposed. The bustier covers my breasts and my tank covers my midsection. It's really uncomfortable when you're hand expressing when there are small children and people gawking at you. I know other moms have pumped using a nursing cover even on a plane or at a gate. I'm not that brave, I guess. 

Finding places to pump at hotels and offices isn't bad. You can usually ask for an empty office or if you have a colleague who has a hotel room, you can pump in there. I have pumped in server rooms at offices. That works! Hotels usually give you a refrigerator when you ask for them and they are usually free of charge for storing milk. When I was in Toronto, I had to give up my hotel room at noon. I asked my coworker if I could pump in her room since she was busy at the conference. She got a second key for me to access her room and I asked the hotel staff to bring the refrigerator from my room to hers. I really needed the freezer for my cooler packs for the TSA rules.

Bring your pump and cooler bag on your carry-on bag. I store my flanges in a Ziploc bag in the cooler. If you're gone multiple days and coming home with a lot of milk, try to store them in a larger cooler bag with large bottles to store it something sturdy. When I traveled overnight, I brought a bottle brush and dish wash liquid to clean the pump parts and bottles at the hotel.

The bottom line is that you have to be creative, use your resources, and be upfront with people to set expectations while you're traveling that you'll need to pump since you're away from your baby. It may take more planning ahead, but you can make it work! I'd love to hear other tips and advice from moms that have done it before!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Grilled Pizza

Homemade Pizza and Caesar Salad our Friday night tradition!

We started a family tradition just before Ava was born to make homemade pizza on Friday night. I have perfected our favorite pizza using a whole wheat crust recipe that I make in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I usually make the pizza crust on Thursday night before bed and let the dough rise overnight. Then in the morning, I'll split the dough and wrap them in plastic wrap and store the dough balls in the refrigerator. We use a Pampered Chef pizza stone in the oven for the nights that we bake the pizza in the oven. We love it!

This summer has been unbelievably hot! It's been regularly 90 and even 100 degrees and we just can't justify using the oven for much these days. We are doing lots of cooking on our new grill and crockpot with these hot temperatures. Last summer, we went to the Pierce's house for dinner and they made a delcious grilled pizza. They were inspired by our pizza making tradition too! They made a BBQ chicken pizza on the grill and it was so tasty and didn't require heating an oven.

So last weekend, we tried grilled pizza after consulting with Shawn and his technique. Well, it got pretty charred because we tried to put the toppings on the crust after it flipped, while on the grill. Maybe we should have asked him for an in-person cooking class! I made two smaller pizzas and they both got pretty burned on the bottom. But this inspired Aaron to think of another way to grill it. Last night, I'm happy to report that we've perfected our method for cooking the pizza on the grill! It was delicious and not burned. The way we cooked it was similar to the oven, in fact, with the par-baking of the crust before you put the toppings on it.
Shape your pizza into a large rectangle so it fits easily on the grill or cookie sheet or serving platter to transfer easily.

Grilled Pizza:
Make ahead Whole wheat pizza crust - recipe makes 2 large pizzas or six 8-inch pizzas.
Non-stick cooking spray
Pizza sauce, toppings, and cheese

Thanks to Aaron for figuring this out!

  • Preheat grill.
  • Shape pizza crust into smaller rounds or one large rectangle with half the dough from the recipe above.
  • Get toppings ready. 
  • Par-baking: Spray crust with non-stick cooking spray and place on the grill. Close the lid and then grill for about 3 minutes.
  • Turn off the grill. Take the crust off the grill and bring inside or off the heat. On the opposite side that you grilled, add sauce, toppings and cheese. TIP: If you use a rectangular shape, you can place the pizza crust on a cookie sheet to transfer.
  • After the toppings are on the pizza, place it on the grill with indirect heat (other burner) for about 7 minutes. Then put the direct flame on low to cook for another 5 minutes or so. 
  • When the pizza is done, cut and serve immediately. 
We enjoy our homemade pizza with tomato sauce and fresh spinach, pepperoni (sparingly), and olives. 

I'm so excited to have grilled pizza this summer!