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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out With the Old

I used to get seriously nostalgic at the change from the old year to the new. I was strangely superstitious; I thought whatever I was doing at the time the clock struck midnight would kind of forecast the next year. I was usually sleeping. I still am usually sleeping.

But the past few years, I've looked excitedly toward the future and put the past in a special little pocket in my heart. Although picturing my boys as 16-year-olds who are taller than me still brings me to hysterics, picturing the next year brings me giddy excitement.

But before I get to the exciting things awaiting Tmuffin in the next year, let's look back on the past year. I started the year working full time in an office, hugely pregnant and excited for my baby to be born while nervously and guiltily wondering what would become of my relationship with Baby T. After Little M was born in January, February and March were ridiculously hard. And then things slowly started getting better. I had a few low moments where I questioned everything about motherhood, but I'm ending the year feeling like I have learned a lot. I have learned to go with the flow a little better. I have learned how to manage my ever-changing time a little better. I have learned that I am completely self-motivated as long as I'm following my passions. And I have learned that this is truly the path on which I belong. This crazy, meandering, sometimes unpredictable path has led me to a really meaningful place in my life.

Looking back on this blog, which started out haphazardly in 2009 and has grown to be a place where I can consistently share how I have fallen into the all-encompassing title that is motherhood, it's interesting to see what posts attracted the most attention.

It seems like my readers are really looking for something to keep their kids occupied while they are dealing with nursing challenges and battling their sweet tooth, doesn't it?


2. The Pros and Cons of Weaning a Toddler

3. Preventing Tantrums Through Play

4. Oreo Bon Bon Halloween Eyeballs

5. The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

6. The Tandem Nursing Rollercoaster

7. Upcycled Contest- Cloth Quiet Books

8. A Breastfeeding Challenge: Excess Lipase in Breastmilk

9. Making a Quiet Book

10. Homemade Granola Recipe with Clusters

In this next year, I'm really going to be fine-tuning what Tmuffin is and connecting with the local community of parents as well as moms all over the internet. If you haven't already, sign up for my newsletter so you can stay abreast (had to use that word, seeing as how popular breasts are on my blog) of everything going on with Tmuffin!

Subscribe to Tidbits by Tmuffin below. We're going to get into a groove together in 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Dry Erase To Do List Tutorial

I'm getting ready for the new year, and one of my resolutions is to be more organized. One of the conclusions I've come to in 2011 is that although my mind is all over the place, I can rein it in by keeping a to do list. For the past several months, I've kept a list on extra sheets of used paper hung under my kitchen cabinets. But my newfound addiction to Pinterest gave me a better idea.

One of my friends had pinned a to-do chart made from sticky notes and a picture frame that she found on the blog Modern Parents Messy Kids. Cute and simple.

Of course, I had to take it one step further because I like to make things hard on myself. I made a dry-erase to do list from a picture frame, scrapbook paper, and sheets from a grocery list pad. It's super cute (even Big T swears he likes it as long as it gets used), it's attractive enough to hang in a busy part of the house where it will actually see some action, and it's big enough to fit all the stuff I have to do.

I created it from an extra 18" x 24" frame that was taking up space in the closet. Below is a tutorial in case you want to make one to get yourself organized in 2012.

Making a Dry Erase To Do List (A Tutorial)

Get your supplies: A frame of any size (mine has plexiglass in it, but glass would work even better); pretty paper, such as scrapbook paper, and post-it notes or pages from a grocery list pad. You'll also need some kind of adhesive. I used double-sided tape.
Dry Erase To Do List

Decide how many categories you want. I wanted three different categories, plus an area for days of the week at the bottom. I laid it out in my head and cut three pieces of coordinating scrapbook paper to size for the categories at the top. You'll have to measure based on the size of your frame and the number of categories you have. I wanted two separate sub-categories within my categories: a list with the heading "soon" and a list with the heading "someday." I tore off pages from the grocery list notepad, then I cut plain beige scrapbook paper to put behind it as a background. (This is going on patterned paper, so I need something to break up the busy-ness.)

Write your headers on the "list" pages and adhere them to the background pages.

Now I had to figure out how to incorporate space for the separate days of the week across the bottom. I wanted to use Post-It notes, but I couldn't find them, so I cut pieces of bright orange paper to fit across the space. I also cut beige paper to create a neutral background. I used double-sided tape to stick the paper onto the background.
Dry Erase To Do List

Now I just needed some blank space to write in the days of the week. I tore off strips of sage green paper and stuck them across the tops of the orange papers I had cut for the days of the week.

I decided not to write the To-Do List categories or the days of the week on the paper itself. Instead, I wrote them in dry-erase marker on the plexiglass after I assembled the frame. The categories may change, and I might change my mind about days of the week and change it to something else down the road. Now I can quickly add tasks I have to do to my to-do list, and Big T can join in when he has a project going on. This is what the final To-Do List frame looks like:

And it fits well with my decor. You can choose whatever colors and patterns you want and make it as complex or as simple as you need. It's really easy to make and totally flexible.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Breastfeeding Year in Review

This post is part of the Breastfeeding Blog Hop hosted by Life with Levi, and co-hosted by The Slacker Mom, and Diary of a Devil Dog Wife. Visit the links below and link up your own story or leave a comment!

Last week's theme was about passing the torch. I wrote about my wish that mothers really embrace motherhood and breastfeeding and realize that they can truly accomplish anything in life. This week's theme is about milestones.

So many moms set breastfeeding milestones: They will breastfeed for six months, one year, two years... Like most things in life, I didn't have any plans when it came to breastfeeding. I just knew I was going to do it. Because of that, I didn't really have any expectations, either. I guess I expected it to feel natural and be easy. I expected my kids to nurse for about two years. I didn't expect to ever nurse two kids at a time or for breastfeeding to be such an emotional experience.

Nursing and working full time with Baby T was challenging at times. I had an oversupply and a forceful letdown. Baby T had terrible gas. He woke up every 20 minutes to nurse sometimes, and he went through a few nursing strikes when he was sick and teething.I had excess lipase in my breastmilk, and I had to scald all of the milk I pumped before storing it.

But this post isn't about my first year breastfeeding; it's about this past year.

In 2011, I:
  • Nursed a brand-new baby--Little M was born!
  • Coslept comfortably while nursing, getting much more sleep than I had with Baby T. (Even in the hospital, not cosleeping was never an option. I was just too tired to consider anything else. The nurses kept asking to put him back into his bassinet. They never asked me not to cosleep, but they acted as though it was strange for me not to want him in his bassinet.)
  • Tandem nursed a toddler and a newborn.
  • Nursed a toddler as much as if he was a newborn.
  • Went through weaning my toddler. It was a roller coaster. I often questioned the decision to wean. I never thought that I would want to initiate the weaning process, but nursing a toddler and a newborn was challenging. Not nursing a toddler and nursing a newborn was challenging too.
  • Dealt with a forceful letdown but no oversupply issues.
  • Worked on improving Little M's poor latch for the first three months of his life. His mouth was small and he had a severe overbite, so he often lost suction when nursing unless I was holding my breast with my hand and squeezing it into a flat shape so it would fit in his mouth better.
  • Dealt with (and am still dealing with) a baby biting while nursing. Little M is a little more precocious than Baby T was in that area, and he often bites when he doesn't feel like nursing or when he just wants to be playful. He usually only does it once, because my surprised reaction tends to startle him into stopping.
  • Had a few moments when I questioned my supply. I trust my body to make the right amount of milk, and I know it does, but compared with the oversupply I had with Baby T, sometimes I felt like I barely had any milk for Little M. And Little M is much smaller than Baby T was... it's hard not to compare. Whenever I questioned my supply, I would nurse Little M more often.
  • Spent a lot of time nursing in a wrap or sling.
  • Nursed at a breastfeeding cafe put on by the Port City Breastfeeding Project every month.
  • Became a childbirth educator and guided moms through the process of breastfeeding.
Little M will turn one next month, and his nursing is still going strong. He nurses at least five times a day and at least twice during the night. Some nights he latches on for an hour while we both sleep. I don't expect him to stop nursing any time soon, but he is a much more distracted nurser than Baby T ever was, and he eats a lot of solid food, so I am afraid that he will stop nursing sometime during this next year. Maybe I'll be ready for him to stop. I don't think so, but I really don't know.

That's the beauty of breastfeeding--because I never had any expectations, it's the one time in parenting that I'm more or less comfortable going with the flow. If only the coming years of parenting could be so easy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: Playing with Christmas Presents

Christmas was wonderful this year. Baby T really understood what was going on, and he loved opening both his and his brother's presents, as I described in my own version of Twas the Night Before Christmas. Once he realized that Santa wasn't going to come into his room and say hi to him (which he was deathly afraid of), he was cool. And once he saw the presents Santa had left, he was even cooler. He loved handing out presents to everyone else, and he didn't get overwhelmed. Little M, as usual, went with the flow and had fun playing with his presents too.

Here are some pictures of my boys playing with their Christmas presents.

Ok, well, actually he's playing with my present.

Charlie Brown?

The Mad Hatter

Mad, indeed.

Captain America!

Shake, shake, shake!

Trying to grab a book

Playing with the magna doodle

And the best part: Playing with garbage.

Sitting at their new kid-sized table and chairs.


Roar again.
Sleepy after all the holiday fun.

 I want to see how you spent your holidays! Feel free to leave a link in the comments so I can give you some bloggy love!

Check out other wonderful Wordless Wednesday posts and link up at:
I Thought I Knew Mama: A window into the adventures of stay at home mamahood, natural parenting, & green and healthy livingHobo Mama: A Natural Parenting BlogThe Paper MamaStacy uncorkedVisit Natural Parents Network

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Elderberry Syrup Recipe Ideas

A few years ago I posted about making elderberry syrup and elderberry tea in an attempt to stave off winter colds. This year, after having a cold last week and a new cold this week, I’m back in elderberry mode. Elderberry has been used for centuries to help fight viruses. Elderberry contains vitamin C and flavonoids, which have immune-boosting properties. If you get the flu, taking elderberry syrup can shorten the duration of the illness to just three or four days.

Here's the really cool part: elderberry increases the body's production of cytokines, proteins that help regulate the immune system by communicating when it needs to attack and when it needs to chill out. Even if you're not sick, taking elderberry syrup can strengthen your immune system so it's ready to respond if you're subjected to a rogue germ or virus.

Elderberry syrup can be purchased at the drug store, grocery store, or health food store, but it’s cheaper to make your own, and it’s simple to make.

½ cup dried elderberries (I get mine at Mountain Rose Herbs)
4 cups water

Start by putting ½ cup of dried elderberries with 2 cups of water in a pot on the stove. Bring to a boil, then continue to simmer at medium heat for about 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on it and stir it every once in a while. You don’t want the water to completely boil out, causing the elderberries to burn. The water will reduce a lot. Strain it out into a jar, pressing on the elderberries with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Put the elderberries back into the pot, add 2 more cups of water, and boil for another 20 minutes or so. Add that syrup to the syrup already in the jar by straining it out and pressing on the berries.

When the elderberry liquid in the jar cools to lukewarm, add ½ cup of honey and stir well. Store covered in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

You can take the syrup a tablespoon at a time to boost your immune system during the winter months (I take up to 4 tablespoons a day if I feel an illness coming on.) The best way to take it is to use it in a recipe.

Below are my favorite ways to eat elderberry syrup.
Drizzled on pancakes
In a parfait with homemade yogurt and granola

Swirled with yogurt for Baby T

Mixed with club soda for a natural, sweet drink

Drizzled over vanilla ice cream and club soda: an elderberry float!

*I'm not a doctor. This is not medical advice, it's just what I do in the winter to try to stay healthy.

For more delicious recipes, check out:
Mandy’s Recipe BoxTasty TuesdaysDelicious Dishes Blog PartyNap-Time Creations
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