Being a young mom means we met a little early, but I get to love them longer.

Here are some links to helpful posts I have done in the past :)

Learn about car seat safety HERE!

Need breastfeeding advice? Click HERE for lots of helpful tips!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Well, I never want that again. (Possibly tmi).

So, I'm pretty sure I had mastitis, which is an infection you can get when breastfeeding.
Two days ago I started feeling really sore in one of my breasts. Yesterday, it was even worse, and it was hot to the touch and red.
Then, a couple hours later, I started having aches (like you get with the flu) all down my arms, hands, and fingers. The aches spread over the next couple of hours. Then I got a headache that seemed to be concentrated in my ears. I didn't want to eat anything either, so I started feeling really weak.
I haven't felt that bad since I literally had the flu a couple of weeks after I got pregnant with Brentley. The flu + pregnancy nausea and food aversion = nightmare! And this is what I felt like yesterday. I spent most of the day in the recliner. I managed to get up and cook dinner, but I was literally shaking the whole time.
I looked it up online, and if the symptoms persisted for more than 24 hours I was supposed to go to the hospital.
Luckily, this morning I woke up feeling like myself again.
It's crazy that I got that from breastfeeding. A clogged duct (when you milk doesn't fully drain) is what causes it. Which, that makes sense because I hadn't worked in two weeks, so I hadn't been away from Brentley, then I had to work Friday, so I overproduced while I was away from him, and he didn't drain it all, which led to the soreness Saturday, and full blown mastitis yesterday.
I'm just glad it's over with. The bad thing is, I read that once you've had it once, you are much more likely to get it again. I really hope I don't!

Side note: My mom gave my a pair of shorts a couple of months ago. At that time, I couldn't breathe if I buttoned them because they were too tight. I tried them on today, and they fit perfectly!! This tells me that you really can't judge your body by the number on the scale because according to the scale, I haven't lost any weight since then, but I have obviously toned up, or I wouldn't fit in those. Fitting in clothes you never thought you'd fit in is one of the best feelings in the world! Especially when fitting in those means that I am officially smaller than I was BEFORE I got pregnant with Grace. Now, if I could just lose the baby pudge and stretchmarks lol. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Brentley's birthday is coming together :)

It's hard for me to believe that his birthday is in less than a month!

Yesterday, we got him two of his birthday presents. We got a magna-doodle because he loves to scribble, and we ended up getting Little People Batman and Joker. They were just too cute! This makes three presents now because we got him some bath toys awhile back. We are going to get him a couple of outfits, then we will have all of his birthday gifts. 
We also go him some jeans to wear for his birthday outfit. 
And today, I ordered his invitations. They are supposed to be here by the 8th, and I will have them sent out by the 15th!
We don't have much left to do except get a few more decorations, and for me to finish his 1st year scrapbook.

We also decided that, in addition to taking the kids to the Discovery Museum a couple of days before his birthday, we are going to take them for ice cream on his actual birthday, and then to play at the playground if it's not too hot. 

August is going to be a busy month for us! 
We have a birthday party to go to on the 11th (Brentley's friend), I start my classes on the 14th, then another birthday party on the 19th (Grace's friend), my mom's birthday on the 20th, going to the Discovery Museum on the 22nd, my sister's birthday on the 24th (her party isn't until Sept. 8th, but I'm sure we'll have a birthday dinner or something), Brentley's party on the 25th, his actual birthday on the 26th, going to have his birthday pictures done on the 27th, then Chris' mom's birthday on the 31st. 
So, as you can all see, it's going to be a very busy month! I apologize in advance if I am absent from my blog more than normal throughout the upcoming month. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My scrapbook of my pregnancy with Brentley :)

I finished this one!! I'm going to have this one and his 1st year scrapbook at his birthday party, but I figured I would post some pictures here to show everyone who won't be able to come to his party.

*His 1st year one is almost done. I will post some pics of it once it is.

This is the front cover.

This is the side.

This is the first page in the book.

This is an example of what pages about my appointments look like.

This is a section about where Grace helped us make his Build-A-Bear.

His Build-A-Bear birth certificate and a page about his gender reveal party.

His 3D/4D ultrasound.

Pages about the baby shower.

Some of the cards he received at the shower.

Maternity pictures.

A page about Gracy. 

Some of the pictures of my growing belly (there are about six pages of these starting from when I was 9 weeks pregnant and going all the way to the day I had him).

These are the last two pages in the book, and they are his birth story.

This is only about half the book, but I only took pictures of my favorite pages. If I would have taken pics of them all, this post would have been very long because the book is at least twice as long as what is shown here. I am really pleased with the way it turned out :) Let me know what you guys think.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This is for my children.

May the angels protect you
Trouble neglect you
And heaven accept you when it's time to go home
May you always have plenty
Your glass never empty
Know in your belly
You're never alone

May your tears come from laughing
You find friends worth having
With every year passing
They mean more than gold
May you win but stay humble
Smile more than grumble
And know when you stumble
You're never alone

Never alone 
Never alone
I'll be in every beat of your heart
When you face the unknown
Wherever you fly
This isn't goodbye
My love will follow you stay with you
Baby you're never alone
[ Lyrics from: ]
Well, I have to be honest
As much as I want it
I'm not gonna promise the cold winds won't blow
So when hard times have found you
And your fear surround you
Wrap my love around you
You're never alone

Never alone 
Never alone
I'll be in every beat of your heart
When you face the unknown
Wherever you fly
This isn't goodbye
My love will follow you stay with you
Baby you're never alone

May the angels protect you
Trouble neglect you
And heaven accept you when it's time to go home
And when hard times have found you
And your fear surround you
Wrap my love around you
You're never alone

Never alone 
Never alone
I'll be in every beat of your heart
When you face the unknown
Wherever you fly
This isn't goodbye
My love will follow you stay with you
Baby you're never alone
My love will follow you stay with you
Baby you're never alone

- Never Alone, Lady Antebellum

I LOVE this song! This sums up so many things I want for my babies. 

Here's a link to the video --

Monday, July 23, 2012


With Brentley's birthday being next month, we are trying to figure out what to get him. We already got him a few bath toys, and I want to get him some Tonka trucks, but beyond that, I have no idea.

We already have a Toys R Us and a library in their bedroom. They have so many toys and books that they don't have room for any more, nor do they need anymore.

I guess we are just going to get him some fall/winter clothes. He actually needs that, and since he'll only be turning one I don't think he'll mind getting clothes as presents. He won't know the difference anyway.

For Grace's birthday, we decided that we are going to get her LeapPad 2. They are coming out in August, and I think she would really like it. She loves my iPod, but she is a destructive little thing, so I don't like letting her play with it. A LeapPad 2 is sort of an expensive birthday gift, but we decided to get it for her so that we could buy her some more apps and accessories for Christmas.
It comes with five apps, so she would still be able to use it until she got some new ones at Christmas.

Speaking of which, I plan on cleaning out their room before Christmas. I'm going to get rid of their Laugh and Learn kitchen and table (we want to get them a bigger play kitchen for Christmas), and a bunch of their toys that they never play with.
I'm also going to go through their clothes and get rid of everything that doesn't fit them. Grace has way too much clothes. So much so that we don't even have room to hang it all up or put it all in drawers. Some of it is just sitting in boxes in her closet. 

That way maybe we can make some extra money off that stuff and make room for new stuff. 

Hopefully by Christmas there will be a lot more room in their room and Brentley will have more interests.

I know this post is really random. I was just thinking about Brentley's birthday presents and it turned into this lol.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Now I'm just frustrated...

We told Chris' mom and step-dad that we had to talk to them this weekend, so that I could complete the loan process if we were going to go through with buying the SUV.

She told us to come to her house today so that we could "discuss it." Remember that she said discuss it.

Also remember that since the end of May, we have been trying to work out a plan for this. This plan has always consisted of us giving them a large down payment, then paying it off.

When we finally came up with a sure fire payment plan last week, they started acting shady... leading to the post I posted the other day. So, we told them we needed to meet with them because we came up with a new plan that would allow us to pay it off by January. They didn't even want to meet, but we insisted because I HAVE to finalize the loan on Monday.

So we go over there, and they ask us to explain. I'm the one who's good with numbers, so I started to trying to explain it, and his step-dad cut me off. He told me the issue was that he needs something to drive. I was completely confused. He has a truck and she has a car, so I had no idea what he was talking about.

He starts ranting about how he only has liability insurance on his truck, so if... IF... he were to wreck it, he wouldn't be able to afford a new vehicle, so he would need to drive the TrailBlazer.
After he explained a little further I realized that he was saying he wouldn't be able to get another loan on vehicle until they pay the TrailBlazer off. This makes sense, except for this...
The way he was talking, he sounded like he was certain that he was going to pull out of the driveway and drive straight into the neareat light pole. It was like he was certain that he was going to wreck and need to drive the TrailBlazer.
Not to mention... we only have liability insurance on my Cavalier. Our ONLY car. What happens if one of us wrecks? Then we have NO car. Not to mention my car has 23532463 problems, one of which is that in the last week the air has decided to not be cold anymore. Our kids bake if we take them out :( We have real issues here, whereas he is holding out because of a possibility.

I tried to tell them that we would take over insurance for the TrailBlazer, so he could get full coverage on his truck. He cut me off.

I tried to tell them that we could write a contract stating that if, for any reason, he needed the TrailBlazer while we were still paying on it, he could have it back. He cut me off.

Everything I tried to explain, he cut me off. This was no discussion. And he never had any intentions of letting me discuss anything. We have to pay them in full or we are not getting it.

So, because he COULD wreck and it COULD be his fault, the TrailBlazer is just going to sit there until January when the second half of my loan comes in.

Except now, I am terrified that I will take out this loan out then they are not going to sell it to us. I am pretty sure I have figured out what is going on. When Chris' mom bought a new car, his step-dad thought he would get the TrailBlazer, but Chris' mom had already told us we could have it. I think he is mad that he is not getting it (his truck is not as nice as the TrailBlazer), and he is trying to make this process so difficult that we just give up. Well, I've got news for him. I am one determined mommy! I want what is best for my children, and I KNOW that this is best. I am not giving up. That SUV better be parked right where it is waiting on us in January. I am sick of all this beating around the bush. I am not giving them one cent of my loan until January, at which time, we will hand them the full $5000 and drive off in OUR TrailBlazer.

It just sucks knowing that my babies have to suffer, and we have to drive an unreliable car until then. It was all I could do not to cry out of frustration and sadness. I was so sure that we would have a better vehicle for them next month :(

Please note, I understand that they are doing us a huge favor by selling it to us for as cheap as they are. I know I probably sound like I am taking it for granted, but I am just sick of feeling put through the ringer and bending over backwards, then being lied to and shut down. 

Car seat safety: All in one

In this post, I am going to sum up everything I have posted in my car seat safety posts.

  1. Read the manual that came with your child's car seat from cover to cover!
  2. The LATCH system and belting system should NOT be used at the same time (unless stated otherwise in the manual).
  3. Check your local health or fire departments for someone who will help your properly install your car seat for FREE.
  4. The base or seat should not be able to move more than an inch any direction! The seat must be strapped in as tight as you can get it.
  5. Follow the car seat's manual's instruction for how to properly install the seat because not all car seats are the same.
  6. Make sure that you have the seat belts or LATCH tethers positioned properly.
  7. A rear-facing seat should typically be installed at a 45 degree angle. 
  8. When using an infant carrier, the handle should be positioned down (unless stated otherwise in the manual).
  9. When a child is in a booster (whether high-back or backless) the child MUST have the shoulder and lap belts, not just the lap belt alone.
  10. A car seat should never be placed in the front seat of a car unless it is a two-seater vehicle (typically trucks) where the air bags can be turned off (consult your car's manual for how to properly do this).
  11. Children should remain rear-facing until 1 year old AND 20 lbs by law, but it is recommended that children now remain rear-facing until AT LEAST 2 years old, and even beyond if the car seat's weight/height limits allow it.
  12. Children should remain in a five-point harness until they are 4 years old AND 40 lbs, and they can remain beyond that point if the car seat's weight/height limits allow it .
  13. Children must remain in a booster until 4'9 and 40 lbs or 8 years old by law.
  14. Your child must move to a booster once the child's shoulders are higher than the highest slots for the straps and/or the child has outgrown the weight and height limits for the seat.
  15. If you child outgrows the weight and/or height limits for any seat (infant carrier or convertible), then your child either needs a new seat with higher weight/height limits or needs to graduate to the next type of seat.
  16. When your child is rear-facing, the straps should come out of the slots at or BELOW the child's shoulders.
  17. When your child is forward-facing, the straps should come out of the slots at or ABOVE the child's shoulders.
  18. In a five-point harness, the straps should not be twisted, they should be snug (you should not be able to pinch any slack or easily get your fingers under the chest clip), and the chest clip should be about even with the bottom of your child's armpits (no lower!).
  19. In a booster, the shoulder belt should not touch your child's neck, and the lap belt should not touch your child's stomach.
  20. Aftermarket attachments (head/body supports, strap covers, cup holders, toys, etc.) should NOT be used on your child's car seat. If it was not made for the car seat, it's not safe. Using these things actually voids the warranties of most car seats. 
  21. If your child has a winter coat on and you have to loosen the straps to buckle your child, the coat is too big, which makes the seat unsafe.
  22. Car seats expire! Check your car seat's expiration date. If it has expired, it's time for a new one!
  23. If the car seat is in a moderate to severe wreck (whether the child was in the seat or not) you must get a new car seat!
  24. If you need help purchasing a car seat, check with your local health department. Many of them have programs to help with just that!
  25. An infant carrier should NEVER be placed on top of a shopping cart! It is NOT safe.
Also, here is an image that will explain the age limits thoroughly.

It is our job as parents to keep our children safe! In today's world, that is no simple task, but there is one thing you have complete control over... car seat safety! Our children are not minimums, so lets take the time to insure their safety!

Here are my babies getting ready to ride safe and sound :)

      Friday, July 20, 2012

      Car seat safety: Infant carriers and shopping carts

      This... NOT safe!

      I know... I know. It clicks when you put it on there. I was deceived by this too when Grace was a baby. I thought the click meant that it wouldn't fall. Nothing ever happened with Grace, and I learned better before I had Brentley. 

      Yes, it does click, but that does not mean that it is secure. Car seats are not made for shopping carts. In fact, most user manuals say NOT to do this. 
      Not only is the seat not actually secure on there, but doing this can damage the mechanism, therefore making it not properly connect in the base, which could prove fatal in a crash. 

      I see people doing this all the time, everywhere I go. I have even seen people defending themselves even when faced with the facts.
      The facts are that:
      • Shopping carts are not made for car seats, so placing your baby up there in his/her car seat up there can make the cart top heavy, which can cause the cart to tip.
      • The metal of the shopping cart is too thin, so while you hear the click, the seat is not secure.
      • Any bump or sudden stop... someone bumping your cart with their's, a rowdy child running into it, hitting something in the floor, etc. could send your child tumbling to the floor.
      • If your baby is old enough to wiggle, baby might send herself tumbling to the floor. 
      It only takes a second. You reach up to the top shelf to grab that can of peas you need, and your pride and joy has fallen to the floor. 

      It does happen, and it is much more common than you think.
      Here is a link to one tragic story...

      Many more stories like this one can be found through a quick Google search. I have read three stories like this in the past couple of weeks. The other two babies survived, but one suffered a skull fracture. That is not something any parents want their child to go through!

      Simple solutions:
      1. Place the entire car seat in the basket where the groceries go. Yes, this limits space, but is that space worth risking injury or death to your child? Try getting hubby to go with you to the grocery store so you can each push a cart, or take a trip to the grocery store each week instead of every two weeks or once a month, that way you won't have to get as much.
      2. If you have a travel system, put the car seat in the stroller. It is designed for that. I would go to the store by myself, push Brentley's stroller with him in his car seat, and pull the cart behind me. It requires some effort, but it was worth it.
      3. Baby wear! I have done this too. Brentley loved to be worn. He just became to heavy for my back being the little chunker he is. Regardless of that, if your baby likes to be worn, wear that baby proudly! You free up your cart and your baby will be safe :)

      Thursday, July 19, 2012

      I am viable!

      I found the website through Pinterest, so I went to check it out.

      I ended up making this for my brother...

      For those of you who don't know, my brother, Cody, has Down Syndrome, Autism, and Legg Perthes Disease. We are only thirteen months apart (me being the oldest), so I have grown up with him. He has taught me patience, tolerance, strength, compassion, pride, unconditional love, and mostly how to treat everyone equally. He is my brother, and I am not ashamed of him in anyway. No one has a perfect life. He deserves just as much of a chance to be here as anyone else. He is viable!

      I love you, Cody!!

      Car seat safety: Wrecks and expiration dates

      There are two more things that mean your child's car seat can no longer be used... wrecks and expiration dates.

      Most people don't realize that car seats expire, but they do. Newer car seats have the expiration date listed on the shell, and you can always check your car seat's manual for the expiration date. Some seats expire in five years while others last as long as eight years. Each manufacturer is different. Regardless of that, once your child's car seat expires, it's time for a new one.
      Also, this is a direct quote from my reference at the bottom...

      "Parents should know that NHTSA instructs its techs and both Safe Kids and the Juvenile Product Manufacturers Association agree that no seat should be used for more than a period of 6 years from its date of manufacture"

      They expire for three reasons...
      1. Technology changes
      2. Materials where down
      3. The manufacturer may no longer manufacture replacement parts. 

      You can check the first reference for how to find your car seat's expiration date.

      Another reason that you have to get a new car seat is if it has been in a moderate to severe wreck. It does not matter if the child was in the seat at the time or not. You must get a new one if the seat was in the car when the car was involved in an accident. You do not have to get a new one if it was only a minor wreck...
      Minor crashes are those that meet ALL of the following criteria:
      • The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
      • The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged;
      • There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
      • The air bags (if present) did not deploy; AND
      • There is no visible damage to the safety seat.

      If ALL of these criteria are not met, then a new car seat is needed.

      For both of these reasons above (the expiration dates and wrecks), it is not recommended that you buy a used car seat. If you do not know for certain that the seat was never involved in a wreck, and/or you do not know the car seat's expiration date, then do NOT buy it. I know it's tempting because car seats are not cheap, but it's not worth it if the seat could jeopardize your baby's safety. 
      If you truly cannot afford a new car seat, call your local health department. Many of them have a program where you can receive a free car seat for your child. 

      Three children survived this wreck because their car seats were being used properly! Car seat safety IS IMPORTANT!


      Wednesday, July 18, 2012

      So awesome!!

      My mom read the books before me (she is the person who lent them to me to read), and she knows my obsession with them. She found a shop on Etsy, and bought these for me! She even asked me what my favorite quotes were to have the ones in the top picture made. It was so hard for me to narrow it down to just three, but I managed lol. I love all of this! A big thanks to my mama!!

      Tuesday, July 17, 2012

      I knew this was going to happen...

      Chris' mom is the person who is supposed to be selling us the SUV. Well, she won't be straight with us for anything. We have been trying to finalize a payment plan with her for over a month now, but she keeps putting it off. I refuse to take out a loan if we aren't going to get the SUV.

      She wants us to pay $290 a month over and above the $1500 we are planning on giving her next month. She says that she has to have enough to cover the payments (which are $290) each month. Well, plain and simple, we can't afford $290 over and above the insurance on the Trailblazer and the Cavalier.

      I have been trying and trying to explain to her that we could have the SUV paid off by August of next year, if not sooner.

      I just sent her a message in my last attempt to get her to understand that this can work.
      This is the message I sent...

      "If I take out the loan, I will be getting $1500 a month from now. We could give you that, which would be enough to cover at least 5 months of payments, plus we could give you $100 each month in addition to the $1500 we would have already given. By the time the original $1500 runs out, we will have the next installment of $1500 in January, which would cover 5 more months of payments. I will also receive money from my Pell Grant in January because I will be taking enough hours to draw from it, so we would be able to add another $500 installment.

      So, by the end of January, we will have paid $4000, which would be well more than enough to cover the $1740 worth of payments between now and January. There would still be $2260 left over, which would cover another 7 months worth of payments. 

      We would continue to pay the $100 during those 7 months, and one of those months we would pay $170, so at the end of the 7 months we would have the suv completely paid off.

      And this way, we would never be short on a payment. Plus, anytime we had extra money, we would put it toward the suv, so that we could try to pay it off even quicker."
      I hope that makes sense. I have gone over the numbers time and time again. I know they are right.

      Yet, she refuses to understand how this will work. She keeps saying it won't, and that she has to talk to her husband. I am certain that we could have this completely paid off in a year without missing or being short on a single payment. The numbers are right. But now she's saying that she's not sure she wants to sell it to us because she's not sure we can make the payments. I mean, really?? I have laid it all out, so I hope this breaks through to her.

      Again, I refuse to take out a loan if she's not going to actually let us buy the SUV. I have to finalize the loan by Monday. If she doesn't give us a definite yes or no by then, we won't be getting it :( I'm stressed beyond the max now!

      Monday, July 16, 2012

      Car seat safety: Puffy coats

      Around here, it doesn't get that cold during the winter, but it still gets cold enough to need a coat, so I see many people trying to cram their children in their car seats with big puffy coats on.

      There are several reasons why this is not a good idea.

      I'll start off with a couple of pictures...

      This is Farrah Abraham's daughter Sophia. The coat was so big that she decided she just wouldn't buckle the bottom buckle I suppose. She did the same thing with the bottom buckle in last week's Teen Mom episode. Farrah is terrible with car seat safety, but sadly, she is not the worst I've seen :(

      Here is another picture that I got off of a car seat safety Facebook page.

      Again, the coats prevent the straps from being properly placed.

      This is what happens when you try to squeeze your child in their car seat with the puffy coat. 

      Some parents are aware that this is obviously not safe, so instead, they loosen the straps. They straps would then be properly placed, and could even pass the pinch test, but the coat creates the "deceitful snugness" I talked about before. In a crash, the coat would compress, and the straps would no longer pass the pinch test, which leaves your child vulnerable to injury or even ejection from the seat during a crash. 

      Here is a link to a video that demonstrates everything I have just talked about...

      The basics of the video is showing you how to test if your child's coat is too puffy. Put your child's coat on, strap your child into her car seat, and make sure the straps are snug. Then, don't adjust the straps at all, remove you child and remove her coat, place her back in her car seat. If the straps are too lose now, the coat is too big. 

      Now, a lot of people complain that their child will be too cold without a coat. There are several solutions for this. 

      1. Let your car warm up before you leave. I'm not to fond of this one. I know someone who was doing this, and their car was stolen, so I don't typically do this, but it's an option. 

      2. A thin jacket like fleece. As long as it passes the test I just talked about, then your child can wear it. 

      3. Blankets. Keep a nice warm blanket in your car to cover your child with. This is my favorite method. I know that some kids won't keep a blanket on though, so that is why I listed the other methods. Also, make sure the blanket covers the child and the straps. Do not have the straps over the blanket.

      *** For taking your children to the car, either put them in the big coat and remove it when putting them in the seat or wrap them in a blanket. 

      Also, I would like to point out that keeping your child in a heavy coat in the car can cause them to become too hot once the car has warmed up. With a blanket, the child can throw it off or you can pull it off once the child has warmed up. 

      Saturday, July 14, 2012

      More on Brentley's birthday.

      A couple days before his birthday, we are going to take him and Grace to the Creative Discovery Museum. He has been once before, but he was only three months old, so he didn't really get to do much. I think he would really enjoy it now that he can explore, which he loves to do.

      His party is going to be the day before his actual birthday. I'm trying to figure out some sort of idea for the kids that are going to be there. We had a little jungle gym at Grace's 1st birthday party, and there were only like five kids there including Grace. I am expecting up to twelve little ones at Brentley's party, so there's going to have to be something for them to do. I was thinking about buying one of those little plastic pools and filling it with these foam balls we have, but I'm afraid that will cause fights because the pool is probably only big enough for two kids. So then I was thinking of having a bubble station with a bubble blower and individual bubbles, but then I'm afraid that it will get all wet and someone will end up falling and getting hurt. So then I was thinking of having coloring pages and crayons, but then I'm afraid that the little kids will try to eat the crayons... I don't know. Which sounds best? Or if anyone has any other ideas, please let me know!

      I already reserved the place for his party, and we have a good bit of the decorations and stuff like that. We just need a few more things.

      I am working on his baby scrapbooks. I'm doing one for him like I did for Grace. The pregnancy one is basically finished. I have to finish two more pages in it. Then his birth - 1 year one needs a good bit of work. I have everything typed up for it, but I need to get more sheet protectors before I can even begin to finish it. I ordered all the pictures I needed for it... almost 175 pictures! I'm waiting for those to come in, then I will be able to finish it completely. I still have a month to finish it, but I want to get it done before I go back to school, so that's my goal.

      I'm not sure what we are going to do on his actual birthday. If it's not 5 million degrees or raining, we'll probably take him to the park, and then have our own little celebration.

      The day after his birthday, we are going to go get his pictures made, then two days after his birthday, he has his one year check-up, so we are going to have a very busy week!

      I'm excited that he is turning one, but it is also incredibly bittersweet. I wasn't sad when Grace turned one because I knew I would have another baby someday, but with Brentley, this is the last first birthday I get to experience. It makes me so sad. Still, I'm incredibly thankful to have a happy healthy little man, so like I said, it's bittersweet. 

      Friday, July 13, 2012

      Brentley's invitations!

      I'm in official party mode now. We already bought a lot of the decorations and stuff for the cake for Brentley's party. It's just a little over a month away now. I can't believe that he will be a year old!

      This is the theme we are going to have...

      I was a little lost on the invitations. Ever since I started having the photo invitations done, I am in love with those. I was determined to find one that I liked for him. I finally found one last night. 

      Sorry for the crappy picture of the invite, but I don't have rights to the invite until I purchase it, so I just had to snap a pic with my iPod. 
      What does everyone think? I know it's not the best picture, him being unclothed and all, but ever since he has started walking, it has been close to impossible for me to get a good picture of him. I love the smile on his face in this picture. It shows his dimples. 
      I like the invite itself because it matches his decorations pretty well.

      Let me know what you think.
      I have to order them soon so that I can get them sent out about two weeks before his party.

      Thursday, July 12, 2012

      Breastfeeding: Positions

      There are four common breastfeeding positions.

      When my son, Brentley, was a newborn, we did the football hold during the day and the lying down at night. The taller he got, the harder it was to do the football hold. Now, we typically do the cradle hold, but it's more of a whatever pretzel shaped he twists himself into position, lol.

      I love the lying down position because it allows us both to be able to relax at night, even during night feedings. However, I tried the lying down position when I was breastfeeding my daughter, Grace, and for some reason, every time we tried that, she would throw up the entire contents of her stomach. Just one of the many reasons breastfeeding was a difficult journey with her, and why I was so determined to be successful in breastfeeding Brentley. 

      Any of these positions are great, especially for newborns. Now that my son is older, he typically finds his own (albeit crazy) position. As long as you find a position that works for you and baby, you're set. 

      If you're interested in some my other posts about breastfeeding, click the link below!

      Wednesday, July 11, 2012

      It's going to be ours!!

      It's official, next month we will have a new (to us) SUV!!

      This is a picture I got off Google, but it looks just like this.

      It's a 2005 Chevrolet Trailblazer LS.

      We are buying it for $5000 (it's worth $9000), but we are working out a payment plan, so we don't have to pay it all at once.

      I am going to take out a student loan worth $3000. It's a subsidized loan, so the interest doesn't start adding until 6 months after I graduate. It will be split into semesters, so I will get $1500 this coming semester, which starts a month from tomorrow. We are going to add the $500 we have saved up to that to give a $2000 down payment. At that time, we will get the SUV! Then, in January of next year, we will pay the other $1500. After that, we will pay payments on the remaining $1500 we owe.

      I'm nervous about taking out a loan. We have absolutely no debt at this point, so the thought of putting us in debt is scary, but I think it will be best in the long run. By taking the loan, we will be able to keep my car. I will drive it to school, and Chris will drive it to work, which will save us on gas, since it's a tiny 4 cylinder. Plus, we will finally have two vehicles!

      The Trailblazer will be our family car. It is perfect. It has the LATCH system, which I am dying to try out. Plenty of room to put a stroller plus still have room for other stuff. We can barely even fit the stroller alone in my car's trunk. It has rear air conditioning, so the kids will actually get air! It has a multidisc CD player. I have a lot of children's CD's and my car doesn't have a CD player, so the kids can't listen to them in the car :(
      Plus, there is nothing wrong with the SUV, and it only has 60,000 miles on it! We drove it to our family get together for Christmas last year, and I fell in love with it. I am so excited that it is actually going to be ours! I'm going to have to get used to driving a big vehicle though lol.

      As soon as the loan comes through, it will be ours, so just about about a month and a half now! I can't wait!! I'm hoping we will have it in time for Brentley's birthday party, which is going to be on August 25th. It would be so nice to have so much extra space to haul all the party stuff and presents! 

      Car seat safety: Rear-facing

      As I stated in a previous post, it is the law to have your child rear-facing until 1-year-old AND 20 lbs.
      While this is the law, it is outdated. The recommendation is now that you rear-face your child as long as your child's car seat allows it, or at least until 2-years-old. There are even movements in some states toward changing the laws to 2-years-old.

      I cannot tell you how many times I have been called a "rear-facing nazi" for this. People always say, "It's just a recommendation." Well, yes it is just a recommendation, but it is a recommendation for a reason!

      We need to remember that cars have really not even been around for a century, and car seats are a relatively new thing. When our parents were kids, car seats were non-existent. When we were kids the movement towards using car seats really began, and since then, more and more tests have been done on how they can be most efficient and safe.

      The more that is learned about car seats, the more the recommendations change.

      Unfortunately, many doctors are not up to date on the recommendations. I was told I could turn Grace around at one (she was already over 20 lbs) by her pediatrician. So, (hangs head in shame), I did it. I got pregnant with Brentley about a month after she turned one, and I started researching car seat safety then. It was actually an accident that I started and just kept reading more and more. It never occurred to me before that her doctors could be wrong. We eventually turned her back to rear-facing. I'm not sure what she weighs now, but if she is under 40 lbs, then we will be rear-facing her again in the SUV once we get it (next month!!). Her car seat is too tall to fit rear-facing in my car. I hate having her forward-facing even now that she is almost three :(

      Anyway, the reason that it is recommended to rear-face until at least two is because it has been found that children's necks muscles and bones are not yet strong enough to withstand the force of a crash. Thus, they can end up with a broken neck or even internal decapitation.

      Now, I am going to address the common reasons I see that people don't rear-face their children even when they know the risks...

      "My child doesn't want to watch the world pass him by."
      - For starters, if you have never forward-faced your child, then he or she is not going to know the difference. If this is your excuse for not turning your child back to rear-facing, then I guess when your child doesn't want to go to sleep you should just let him stay up all night. Or when he doesn't want to stop running after the ball when you tell him to that you should just let him run out into the street. You are the parent. Sometimes, you have to do things in the interest of your child's safety that your child doesn't want or like. That just comes with being a parent.

      "My child can't see as much."
      - The child can still see out of the side windows, and in my car, the kids can see more out of the rear-window than they can the windshield. Not to mention that how much they can see is not going to protect them in a crash.

      "My child is too tall."/"It's uncomfortable for my child."
      - Children are extremely flexible. Most actually prefer to sit "Indian style" or with their legs up rather than having their legs hang down. If children can fall asleep, then they are comfortable.

      "My child's legs will break in a crash."
      - I literally cannot find a documented case of a child's leg being broken in a crash due to the fact that the child was rear-facing. I have heard stories, but nothing proven. However, there are way too many documented cases of a child's neck being broken or a child being internally decapitated in a crash due to the fact that their muscles and bones were not yet strong enough to be forward-facing :( Now, would you rather your child have a broken leg(s), or be paralyzed/dead? I think that question answers itself.

      "I can't properly install the seat."
      - Now, I realize that I have said Grace can't rear-facing because her seat doesn't fit. In my case, this is not an excuse. Chris is 6'2. He has to have the driver's seat pushed all the way back to fit in our tiny car. This means that Grace's seat is too tall to fit at the right angle rear-facing. I realize that this is not always an excuse, but sometimes it is. If the seat is not too tall to fit, then have someone at the health department or fire department install it for you.

      "Forward-facing in a front end collision is the same thing as rear-facing in a rear-end collision."
      - Simply put... No, it's not. I'm going to copy and paste some info on this...

      • According to Crashtest.Com, frontal and frontal offset crashes combine for about 72% of severe crashes.   Side impacts are about 24%.   Rear and rear offset crashes only account for about 4%. The NHTSA FARS database shows similar numbers. The odds of being in a frontal crash with a fatality or very serious injury are many times greater than being in a severe rear-end crash. Rear-enders are more common at lower speeds, though most injuries in these crashes are not as severe - typically, whiplash injuries to adults, especially passengers lacking proper head restraint.
      • Vehicle speed is very important to the energy in a crash, even more important than vehicle weight.  Frontal and frontal offset crashes are the most severe because they often happen with both vehicles traveling at high speeds in opposite directions.  Rear and rear offset crashes, on the other hand, often happen at lower speeds.   In many cases, one vehicle is stopped or nearly stopped, and the other hits it from behind at a relatively low speed.   Other times both vehicles are traveling in the same direction at similar speeds when one is bumped from behind. Either way, the difference in the speed of the vehicles is usually much lower in rear end crashes, and so the energy in the crash will also be much lower.   Lower energy means less chance of injury.

      Bottom line, rear-facing is the safer option for as long as possible. And by as long as possible,I mean rear-facing to the maximum weight and height limits of your child's car seat.


      Tuesday, July 10, 2012

      Breastfeeding: Survival kit

      For me, I have five things that I feel are essential to successfully breastfeeding in general.

      1. A Boppy (or other breastfeeding pillow).

       - To save your back, you are going to need some sort of support under your baby. Notice how the Boppy keeps the lady in the picture from having to hunch over or hold the baby up on her own. I tried pillows with Grace. They would slip out of position. With a Boppy or other breastfeeding pillow, it will wrap around your body. This thing was a life saver when Brentley was tiny (well as tiny as he ever was lol).

      2. Water, water, water, water.
       - I cannot say this enough. Have lots of water ready for consumption.

      3. Lanolin cream (or other breastfeeding approved cream).

       - This was also a life saver. It definitely helped with the sore nipples. I don't have to use it any more, but in those first few painful weeks, I carried that stuff with me religiously.

      4. Nursing pads.

       - There will be leaking. You can get disposable ones or washable ones. I have some of both. I don't really have to use them anymore, but I did for a long time. Obviously, the washable ones will save money in the long run, and the disposable ones take less effort. I recommend having some of both on hand. The washable ones didn't hold as much, but the disposable ones sometimes begin to smell like milk, so it's really all about preference.

      5. Sports bras.

       - This is all about comfort. You will need a bra for support and to hold the pads in place, but a regular bra is so uncomfortable when you first start breastfeeding. Regular sports bras (no fancy ones) are amazing for this. They give you the support you need without being restricting and painful.


      If you are going to pump, I personally feel that an electric pump is essential. This is the one that I had, and I loved it! It's relatively cheap, too.

      If you plan to nurse in public, as nursing bra is an amazing thing to have.

      Also, if you are not comfortable with being exposed while breastfeeding in public, a cover is essential. I have forgotten my cover a few times and had to use a blanket or jacket. Those were not fun experiences.

      There are other things like latch assists, nipple shields, ice packs made to sooth breasts, etc. etc. Wal-Mart is not a very breastfeeding friendly store... at least not around here. The best place I have found to find anything and everything for breastfeeding is Babies-R-Us, but their stuff can be pricey.. If there is not a Babies-R-Us near you, try the baby section of a Toys-R-Us or Target. The Target near me has an amazing breastfeeding section. They have amazing nursing covers. I paid $10 for mine. It has lasted me ten months, and it has been run over by a car. Yes, you read that correctly lol. For the price and convenience, I recommend Target :)

      Monday, July 9, 2012

      Car Seat Safety: Aftermarket parts

      Aftermarket toys, head/body supports, strap covers, car seat covers. All of these things and more are sold at your nearest Wal-Mart, Babies-R-Us, etc. ect. Many people think that because these things are sold in stores, they are safe.
      The opposite is actually true. Unless it came with your car seat (many car seats come with head supports, and some come with things like cup holders or strap covers), or was made by your car seat’s manufacturer for that specific car seat, then it is not considered safe. This is because these aftermarket things are not tested with the car seat when it is crash tested.

      I will admit that Grace had toys on her car seat. I didn’t know that they could be dangerous in a crash. The toys can come lose and act as a projectile. Granted, soft toys probably wouldn’t do much damage, but many of these toys hang, and because of that, they could potentially strangle the child. Not to mention, most car seat toys connect to the handle of an infant carrier, which, as I stated in a past post, is typically supposed to be positioned back (unless stated otherwise in your manual), so they wouldn't be able to play with the toys anyway.

      Head/body supports:
      This was my most recent car seat blunder. Grace and Brentley both had one of these. I thought I was doing the right thing. It seemed like their heads weren’t supported well enough to me. However, these things can create what I call “deceitful snugness.” You may have you baby strapped in with one of these, and the straps pass the pinch test, so you think everything’s fine. Well, in a crash, that body support can compress, which means that the straps would then be lose.

      Strap covers:
      These can also create the “deceitful snugness,” and therefore, lose straps in a crash. Another thing they do is, in babies, they almost always make it impossible to have the chest clip on the chest. Babies have such short torsos that it is not possible to have strap covers and the chest clip properly placed.
      Fortunately, I have always used the chest clip properly. I was given a set of strap covers when I was pregnant with Grace. And I realized that they pushed the chest clip down, so I never used them.

      Car seat covers:
      By this, I mean something like this scenario...
      Your child does something like spill a drink, have a poo explosion, etc. that creates a massive stain on the car seat, so you buy a new cover. If the cover was not made for that car seat, by that car seat manufacturer, it is not safe. I typically see these on websites like Etsy with incredibly cute prints. It’s like they are drawing the unknowing parents in. These can cause the straps to not come out of their slots properly and can also cause the “deceitful snugness” as well.

      There are other things that are sold as well, but the four things I have mentioned are the most common ones that I see. Bottom line, aftermarket parts have not been crash tested, so there is no way to know if they are safe or not, and as the saying goes, it’s better safe than sorry. 

      Here are some examples...

      Aftermarket strap covers for sure, and it looks to be an aftermarket head support.

      Same baby... still has aftermarket strap covers, and now an aftermarket toy.

      As you can see in both pictures, the strap covers are pushing the chest clip way too far down. Even as the baby got bigger, they still pushed it down. It is basically touching the bottom buckle, and there is no room for it to move up. And that is a hard toy, so it would almost certainly be a hazard in a crash.

      If your child was injured in a crash due to an aftermarket part causing the car seat to not function properly, this typically voids the car seat's warranty.

      Now, as to back up my claims, here are some statements from different car seat manufacturers.

      "Dorel Juvenile Group does not recommend the use of any car seat accessories except those recommended by the car seat manufacturer." -- This is the company that made the car seats Grace and Brentley have.

      "The use of non-Britax Child Safety, Inc covers, inserts, toys,  accessories, or tightening devices is not approved by Britax.  Their use could cause this restraint to fail Federal Safety Standards or perform worse in a crash.  Their use automatically voids the Britax warranty." 

      "DO NOT use accessories or parts other than those provided by Graco.  Their use could alter the performance of the car seat." 

      "DO NOT attach additional padding, toys, or other devices not made by Evenflo to the child restraint. Items not tested with the child restraint could injure the child."

      More of these statements can be found at the link below...

      Sunday, July 8, 2012

      Breastfeeding: Pumping and storing facts

      In general, your body will not react the same way to a pump that it would a baby, but pumping is possible.
      Whether you are going to be pumping and feeding baby from the tap or exclusively pumping, try to set a schedule. As I have said before, your body will adjust to how much milk you produce. If you pump sporadically, this may cause you to over produce, which leads to leaking if you don’t pump. Or it could lead to not making enough to pump extra, which means you would barely get anything when you try to pump.
      When I pumped with Brentley, I would pump at night just before it was time for us to go to bed. My body became used to this, and I would consistently get the same amount every time I pumped. If I missed a pumping session for whatever reason, I would leak because my body was preparing to get rid of it.
      If I would have consistently skipped pumping, then my body would have started producing less to adjust to the lack of demand.
      So, as you can see, pumping can be done. I still have a good bit of breast milk in my freezer that I can’t bring myself to throw away because that stuff should be worth gold for the time and effort I put into it :p
      Just be consistent. You can increase your supply by consistently pumping more and decrease it by consistently pumping less (the same goes for feeding baby more or less).

      As for the actual act of pumping, I personally feel that electric pumps are less painful, less time consuming, and require less physical effort. Whether using electric or manual, make sure you have your nipple centered as close to perfect as you can in the suction cup. If you don't, it will be painful and you will not be able to produce much, if any, milk. I would always begin pumping on the lowest setting for about 30 seconds, then move up to the highest setting. This also reduced pain. 

      Electric pumps are more expensive, but well worth the money. Many hospitals and/or health departments will rent out electric pumps. In the end, I believe it's cheaper to just buy your own though. 

      With Grace, I pumped to feed. I never did store any of it in the freezer. I did store some extra in the fridge. I always stored it in bottles with flat caps because it was going to be used soon.  It can be stored in the fridge for five days before spoiling.
      With Brentley, I pumped to store. I used breast milk storage bags for this. I bought mine at Wal-Mart. I got them for about $8, and I stopped pumping before I ran out of bags. They last a long time. These are the ones I used, and they worked great!

      Breast milk can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months in a regular freezer, and up to 12 months in a deep freezer. Write the date that you expressed the milk on the bag, that way you can make sure that you don’t used expired milk.
      However, once you take it out and warm it up, you cannot refreeze it because it can already be contaminated with bacteria. It must be used within 24 hours after thawing. Because of this, it is better to store smaller amounts in one bag. Instead of storing 6 or 8 ounces in one bag, store 2 to 4 ounces, and use the oldest milk first. This will save the liquid gold from spoiling.
      Once the milk has frozen, it must stay at a constant temperature. Do not store milk in the freezer door, and do not pour fresh milk on top of frozen milk. Both of these things change the temperature of the milk.

      When warming your breast milk (or formula for that matter), it is best to run it under hot water, and continue testing it until it is warm. With formula or breast milk, when heating it in the microwave, it heats unevenly, so while it may feel only warm when you tested it, the baby may get a pocket of hot milk that could burn him or her. And with breast milk, heating it in the microwave can actually take away the nutrients in the breast milk.

      Breast milk stays good for 6 to 8 hours at room temperature. If you are going to need it out for longer than that, it can be stored in an insulated bag with frozen ice packs for up to 24 hours. After that, you must refrigerate it. 


      Saturday, July 7, 2012

      Linking post - Breastfeeding help!

      This post, and the last one, are linking posts. I am going to list every car seat post I do to the car seat linking post, and every breastfeeding post I do to the breastfeeding linking post, then I am going to create links back to these linking posts at the top of my blog. That way, if anyone ever wants to go back to any of these, you won't have to go searching through posts. I hope this is helpful :)

      All of these links are links to posts that I have done in the past :)

      Learn what things you need for your breastfeeding survival kit at this link...

      Learn about tips for beginning breastfeeding at this link...

      Learn about finding support for breastfeeding at this link...

      Learn about building and maintaining your milk supply at this link...

      Learn about pumping and storing breast milk at this link...

      Learn about different breastfeeding positions at this link...

      Linking post - Car seat safety!

      All of these links are links to posts that I have done in the past :)

      **These tips, laws, instructions, etc. are based on laws, vehicles, and car seats in the U.S.A If you are in a country other than U.S.A., your laws, vehicles, and car seats may be different.

      Here is a list of 25 things you need to know about car seat safety at this link...

      Learn about how you can know if you have the car seat properly installed at this link...

      Learn how to properly install rear-facing and forward-facing car seats at this link...

      Learn how to properly buckle your child into his or her car seat at this link...

      Learn why aftermarket attachments should not be used on your child's car seat at this link...

      Learn why children should continue rear-facing to the maximum weight and height limits of their car seats at this link...

      Learn why heavy coats shouldn't be used with car seats at this link...

      Learn about car seat expiration dates and what to do in the event of a wreck at this link...

      Learn why it's not safe to use infant carriers on top of shopping carts at this link...

      Friday, July 6, 2012

      Car seat safety: Proper restraining

      Now that we have covered how to install the car seat, I am going to move on to properly restraining your child.

      First off, know the weight limits on your car seat.
      For Brentley's infant carrier, the weight limit was 5 to 22 lbs. Since my little man is a chunk, he outgrew that at around 5 months old. Grace and Brentley have the same convertible car seat now. The weight limits on it are: rear-facing up to 40 lbs, forward-facing up to 60 lbs, and high-back booster up to 100 lbs.
      There are weight limits on a car seat for a reason. If the weight limit on your baby's infant carrier is 22 lbs, do not place your 25 lb baby in it.
      I am all for extended rear-facing, but if the rear-facing limit on your child's car seat is 40 lbs, then you cannot continue to rear-face your 45 lbs child. In the event of a crash, the seat would not function properly if the child was over the weight limit.
      Most, if not all, car seats have the weight limit listed somewhere on the car seat itself. And it will also be listed in the car seat's manual. If you haven't noticed by now, that is one instruction booklet you don't want to throw away.

      Now, let's move onto weight limits over-all. Most states have a law that requires children under the age of one year old AND 20 lbs to be rear-facing. THIS IS A LAW in most states. Not a choice.
      In Georgia, a child who is under 4'9 and 40 lbs OR under the age of eight MUST be in a car seat per the law. If your child reaches 4'9 and 40 lbs before the age of eight, then it is legal for them to ride in a regular seat. And children under the age of twelve must be in the back seat.
      If you live in another state, you can refer to this link to find out what your state's car seat laws are.
      Now, notice that these are the law, but research suggests that these are outdated. The recommendation for rear-facing is AT LEAST two-years-old. Further recommendations suggest rear-facing as long as possible.
      As for forward-facing, it is recommended that the child stays in a 5-point harness for as long as possible. I will cover how long a child should remain in a booster later in the post.

      As for the straps on a 5-point harness seat, the straps should NOT be twisted. 
      They MUST be tight. Not so tight that the child has indents from them, but they should be snug. The best way to test this is with the pinch test.
      If you can pinch any slack, then it is not tight enough.

      Now, the clip in the middle is called the CHEST clip. It goes on the child's chest, not stomach. 

      It should be positioned on the sternum, about even with the armpits. 

      Now, I feel that this shouldn't even have to be mentioned, but ALL clips should be fasted. 

      All of that is for rear and forward facing. The only difference in rear and forward facing with a 5-point harness is...
      If your child is rear-facing, then the straps should come out of the slots at or just BELOW the shoulders.
      If your child is forward-facing, then the straps should come out of the slots at or just ABOVE the shoulders.

      Do NOT wash the straps of a car seat. They are covered in fire retardant components. When they are submersed in water and soap, those components are stripped. To clean them, use a damp cloth (no soap).

      As for boostering, children are not supposed to be in a booster until 4 years old AND 40 lbs! You do NOT have to put your child in a booster at this point. However, if you continue to keep your child in a 5-point harness after that age and weight, watch your child's height. If your child's shoulders become higher than the highest slot for the straps on the car seat, and/or your child becomes heavier than the car seat's weight limit, then it's time for your little one to move to a booster. 

      High-back boosters are best to start with. They have a belt positioner on them. This positions the belt so that is not touching the child's neck. If you put your child in a regular booster, and the belt touches the child's neck, then you will need a high-back.
      In a booster of any sort, the belt should be across the child's lap, not stomach, and across the child's shoulder with no contact to the child's neck. 
      Do not use just a lap belt or place the shoulder belt behind your child. Neither of these things are safe.

      Your child should not be moved out of the booster until the belt fits your child that same way WITHOUT the booster.