Heirlooms – Mom’s China

A few weeks ago, I had some rare time without my little boys. I ran several glorious, kid free errands. Truly, the amount of things I was able to do in just a few hours without kids was amazing.

In addition to running some practical errands, I also popped in a few shops on King Street just for fun. I brought a plate of my mother’s china with me, and I decided to see how I could mix it up. You know my penchant for heirlooms, for keeping them fresh and current in particular, and this is just another post in that series.

I had so much fun pairing mom’s classic Barclay 5103 china – brought back from Japan by her dad – with newer, contemporary dishes. Below are a couple of my favorite looks. I only had my iPhone with me that day, and I’m no photographer, so bear with me on the pictures.

Heirlooms: Mom's China meets Pottery Barn Zebra stripe and dark chargers | the Maypop

 

Stop one of two was at Pottery Barn. I started with these Black Inlay Chargers. I loved the masculine dark, inky contrast against the white, dainty floral plates. I layered my mom’s china on top of the charger, and I topped that with a Pottery Barn Zebra Plate.

I personally think that animal prints are classic patterns, but there is something about them that also always seems to feel very contemporary at the same time. Don’t you agree?

Heirlooms: Mom's China meets Pottery Barn Zebra stripe and dark chargers | the Maypop

After Pottery Barn, I still had some time before I had to pick up the boys. So, I walked a little farther down the street to C. Wonder.

I’m going to apologize again for the pictures. The store lighting was great, but it created severe shadows and glares. You’ll have to trust me that this combination was even better in person.

Here I mixed my mom’s china with a fabulous chevron-patterned plate in orange and deep pink melon shades.

Heirlooms: Mom's china paired with C Wonder plates | the Maypop

In person, the orange in the plates really brought out the orange details in my mom’s china – in the center of the flowers and around the band.

The plates were on clearance and are no longer available online, but C. Wonder does have several other sale items still in stock that would freshen up a classic table setting like this Navy Ikat Dinnerware or these Zebra Stampede Napkins.

C Wonder Navy Ikat Dinnerware | featured on the MaypopC Wonder Zebra Stampede Napkins | featured on the Maypop

Side note, if I ever have to pick just one store to shop in, it would be C. Wonder. They have a perfect mix of things that feel classic yet fresh. The store is eclectic, yet still well-edited. It’s not so large that I feel overwhelmed or paralyzed by options. I can buy shoes, clothes, and dishes under the same roof. And, they monogram! (See this post for my favorite monogrammed tote bags).

I only wish I’d had more time to shop a few other stores. Anthropologie – I’m coming for you next. I’m dying to see the Old Havana Side Plate and Doma Flatware in person, and I think both would pair well with vintage china.

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Tell me, how are you mixing old with new?



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More Classic Monogrammed Bags

Remember this post with a list of monogrammed handbags and totes?

Well, I’ve found a couple more that I wanted to share with you.

First up, the C Wonder Signature Tote which is monogrammed on the reverse side of their fabulous “C” logo.

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Everything in the store is 30% off right now; so these bags are really well-priced and would be $55 – $69 (without monogram)! Such a great deal. I’m trying to decide which one to order…I have a great, tan Michael Kors tote that I’ve been carrying for a couple of years. It’s the perfect neutral tan and goes with everything, so I’m leaning in the opposite direction, towards one of the fun C Wonder patterns.

And, here they are on several fashionable ladies.

C Wonder Signature Totes

Clockwise from upper left: Eleventh & Sixteenth / The Average Girl’s Guide

Melanie Knopke / The Southern Perfectionist

The other classic tote is from Madewell, their Transport Tote.

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This humble picture does not do this classic tote justice. Check out the #totewell gallery on Instagram to see this gorgeous bag in action; that’s how I came across this classic bag.

PS – the Transport tote is not the only thing Madewell will monogram. See a full list of items here.

 



National Bow Tie Day – My Favorite Bow Ties

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Did you know today is National Bow Tie Day?

I love a Beau in a bow tie! Here are a few of my favorite bow tie brands.

Let’s start with a bow tie for the smallest beau. I’m so smitten with the sweet Bow Swaddles from The Beaufort Bonnet Company. In fact, I’ve already bought one to wrap around my newest baby, monogrammed, of course.

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And, once they’ve outgrown the sweet bow swaddle, your beaux can wear the Baylor Bow Tie, also from The Beaufort Bonnet Company.

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Next up are the rich plaids and paisley prints in the Fall collection from High Cotton Ties, in both Boys’ and Mens’ sizes.

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High Cotton has great options for Saturday game days too.

High Cotton Red and Old Blue Tattersall Bow Tie_Small High-Cotton-Purple-and-Gold-Oxford-Bow-Tie-Small High Cotton Red and Black Tattersall Bow Tie_Small High Cotton Orange and Purple Oxford Bow Tie Small High Cotton Orange and Navy Tattersall Bow Tie_Small High Cotton Black Houndstooth Bow Tie_Small

Another favorite of mine is Mo’s Bows. More than anything, I love Mo’s story (he had me at Granny’s scrap fabric). I love his vintage suitcase. And, I love supporting a young entrepreneur.

Mo's Bows

Mo Bridges via Memphis Parent

And, his bow ties are super stylish.

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For a classic, All-American look, check out Collared Greens, also available in Boys’ and Mens’ sizes. (how could I not love a company named for my beloved collard greens?).

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And finally, the stunning collection of feathered (yes, feathered!) bow ties from local Charlestonians, Brackish. I spotted these luxe bow ties in a window display on King Street, and they stopped me dead in my tracks.

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PS: Not sure how to tie a bow tie? Here’s a Gentleman’s Guide:

How to Tie a Bow Tie



Bow or Beau – A Gender Neutral Baby Shower

If you’ve been following me on Instagram (@mrsmaypop), then you’ve probably seen a few snippets of the adorable Bow or Beau themed baby shower I hosted for a friend this past weekend.

Bow or Beau Baby Shower | Gender neutral baby shower inspiration | the Maypop

 

My friend, Ashlee, is having her first baby and is due in early October (just a couple weeks before me). She’s decided not to learn the baby’s gender and to instead be surprised at delivery. How I wish I had been able to hold out and be surprised myself for at least one of my babies, but the planner in me just can’t bear the thought of not having everything ready in advance.

Ashlee is a relationship builder of the most genuine sort. She makes a point to keep in touch with everyone she meets, no matter how rarely she may see them or how far away they may live. I admire her ability to nurture her friendships, and she inspires me to make stronger, deeper connections and to be a better friend.

It really was a treat to return Ashlee’s kindness and spoil her for once. I had such a wonderful time planning her party. To be fair, I can’t take credit for this little event; there were five hostesses in addition to myself, each with impeccable style and taste. We decided to divide and conquer – one handled food, another a group gift, another beverages and dessert, and so on. This made hosting the shower so easy! I offered to tackle the theme, invitations, favors, and decor.

Since she’s not finding out if the baby is a boy or girl, I settled on this precious Tiny Prints “Bow or Beau” invitation. I loved that it was gender-neutral but still pink and blue. Plus, I’m a sucker for brown craft paper. I didn’t pull my calligraphy pen out, but I did have fun hand-addressing the invitations on craft paper tags I found at Michael’s. It was a nice change from the labels I usually print to coordinate with my invitations.

 

Bow or Beau Baby Shower Invitation | Hand Addressed envelope | the Maypop

After the theme was decided, everything else quickly came together. My amazingly talented friend and interior decorator, Joy, hosted the shower at her house, and she pulled most of the decor together based on the inspiration board I created for the group. We agreed to keep everything chic and simple – lots of bows and bow ties, pink and white flowers in her enviable collection of blue and white vessels, and tassel garland for the balloons and entry.

Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop

 

 

 

Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop

 

Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop

 

Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop

 

Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop

 

Bow or Beau Baby Shower | the Maypop

 

Bow or Beau Baby Shower | Skittles Bow and Bow Tie Favors | the Maypop

Taste the RainBOW – Skittles Favors

 

Ashlee – I know I am speaking for everyone when I say it was truly a pleasure hosting this shower for you. Love you!



New Kilim Throw Pillow and a Giveaway

Lovely watercolor available at A Pair of Pears

Lovely watercolor available at A Pair of Pears

I’ve always wanted the things in my home to be beautiful. Even as a little girl, I would study magazines and try to arrange my bedroom like the rooms in the JC Penney catalog. In particular, I remember saving my money, and I was only in elementary school, to purchase one of those round top decorator tables with the particle board tops and screw in legs. Then, I ordered (with mom’s help) a dusty pink tablecloth with a ruffle bottom.

Ever practical, I also believe things should be useful. I’m not a fan of clutter, and I tend to be an over-purger. So, I don’t have a problem getting rid of items that are not useful.

Beautiful, useful things…it is an almost perfect guide to decorating.

Almost, but not quite.

You see, the older I get, and the more I grow my family, the more I want the things that surround us to be beautiful, useful, and also meaningful.

I want to be able to look at the things in our house, big and small, and connect them with a memory or a story. I want my boys to know those stories, and I want the items to be tangible ways for them to cherish our family stories.

For months, I’ve been on the hunt for new throw pillows. I wanted something classic and timeless, but I didn’t want Greek key trimmed pillows (even though I love them). I wanted something casual, but I didn’t want chevron or Ikat or trellis prints either.

I needed something that would work with the colors in my favorite rug, which are a bit unusual and not the trendiest of colors right now. And, I needed a pattern that would complement the rug design but not compete with it.

Turkish Rug | the Maypop

 

Finally, I stumbled across this lovely pillow cover on the Beautiwool Etsy shop.

Beautiwool Pillow, vintage Turkish Kilim, giveaway | the Maypop

The pattern was casual and unique, and the colors would complement my rug. I loved the kilim design on this pillow. And, I especially loved that it was handmade in Turkey.

You see, my parents were in the Air Force, and we were stationed in Turkey when I was a little girl. The rug in my living room was purchased thirty years ago while we were there, so this Turkish kilim pillow seemed like the perfect nod to the rug and to that era in our life.

Turkish kilim pillow, giveaway | the Maypop

 

Turkish kilim pillow, giveaway | the Maypop

I look forward to telling our family stories with this pillow. I look forward to pointing out Turkey on a map to my boys and to telling them that mommy lived there when she was their age. I want them to know that their grandparents served our country overseas, and that my mom almost had to do it by herself, leaving her two young children and husband behind until my dad was able to also get orders in the eleventh hour. I want to tell them about the few things I remember – wearing my hair in a scarf like the local women, Turkish tea, cigarette burek, and about the pair of camel saddles that my brother and I sat on in our living room.

The pillow cover arrived quickly, even from Turkey. It was packaged beautifully but simply, tucked in a blue fabric pouch and sealed with a protective hand-painted Nazar boncuk eye bead. (I loved this detail; my mom has several small pieces of jewelry and amulets from Turkey with the protective eye).

The quality is wonderful; the backcloth is heavy, the kilim is in perfect condition, and it has a hidden zipper.

Turkish kilim pillow, giveaway | the Maypop

Here is a wider view of it on my couch. The linen covers are 20×20 and on clearance at Pottery Barn, but the kilim is only a 16×16, so I still need a couple more 18×18 pillows to round things out.

Turkish kilim pillow, giveaway | the Maypop

 

Below are a few more of my favorites from their shop. They have thousands (not an exaggeration) of beautiful things to choose from. And, Beautiwool was generous enough to send a second lovely pillow cover (16 x 16) for one of you dear readers!

 

Beautwool Turkish Kilim Pillows, giveaway | the Maypop

 

Register below to win. Giveaway ends Friday, August 29 at midnight. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



The Kissing Hand: the Perfect First Day of School Book

The Kissing Hand | First day of school book, easing transitions | the Maypop

When I was working full time, before I had my second baby, Harrison went to school every day. And, Harrison cried every single morning when we dropped him off. Daddy normally did drop offs, mostly to spare me from this agony. I loved his school, and I know Harrison did too, but he hated leaving Mommy and Daddy. He also hated any sort of transition – picking him up from school was just as difficult.

To ease his transitions, I looked to my friend and Conscious Discipline certified expert, Jessica Flowers.

Jessica spent some time teaching me how to prepare him for what we were going to do next. He still struggles with any sort of transition, and I still make a point to try to talk about what we will be doing next. Right now, I start off by singing When we do something new, let’s talk about what we’ll do. Does anyone else think Daniel Tiger is an amazing parenting resource?

And, Jessica introduced me to the sweetest little story, The Kissing Hand.

If you’re not familiar with it, The Kissing Hand tells the story of Chester Raccoon and his first day of school. It tells of Chester’s fears about leaving his mommy and all that is familiar to him. And, in this story, Chester’s mother reveals a secret family tradition, passed to her from her mother, who learned it from hers: The Kissing Hand. (A tradition passed from her grandmother to her mother to her? Of course, sappy, sentimental, lives-for-tradition, memory-maker me adores this book!)

The Kissing Hand | First day of school book, easing transitions | the Maypop

Harrison didn’t just love listening to this story. It resonated with him. He got it. He understood it. It comforted him. He could relate to Chester Raccoon.

So after reading it together, when I would drop Harrison off at school, I would kiss his sweet, chubby, open hand, press his palm to his cheek, and remind him to think, “Mommy loves you.”

My niece is starting kindergarten this year. When they were visiting with us a couple of weeks ago, I selected The Kissing Hand from our growing  library to read to to the cousins at bedtime, in honor of Chloe’s first day of school.

The Kissing Hand | First day of school book, easing transitions, gutter bookshelves | the Maypop

She had never heard the story, and she and her little brother both loved it as much as Harrison. So, I couldn’t resist sending them a copy of their own.

I loved passing along another tradition. I know my sister in law will kiss Chloe’s palm and press it to her cheek on her first day next week, and I hope this sweet gesture provides both of them a little comfort on this big day and on hard days in the future.

What are your favorite back to school stories and traditions? I hope you’ll share in the comments.

PS – Mrs. Raccoon is full of wisdom. I also often quote her when I remind Harrison (and myself), that “Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do.”

 



Love the place you live: A Very Little Bookstore

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend! I guest-posted on Shara’s blog, Palmettos and Pigtails, a couple weeks ago. Just popping in on Sunday to share this post, in case you missed it. 

 

Lately, I’ve written a few posts about loving the place we live, which, to be fair, is not hard to do when you live in Charleston. So today, I thought we’d venture a little farther out of town, to quaint, downtown Summerville. On picturesque Main Street sits one of my own favorite places to go with my boys, and I’d love to share it with you.

But first, indulge me in a little reminiscing. I’m the sappy, sentimental type.

My mom read to my brother and me when we were younger, and she really encouraged us to read too. She would let me check out piles of books at the library, and she took me to the bookstore, no matter how tight our budget must have been, especially back then. I can even remember visiting a bookstore as early as 3, maybe 4. We lived in Turkey at the time, and were only there for a couple of years, so I can be confident that I was that young. I remember that this bookstore carried the Mr. Men & Little Miss books, a personal favorite. And, I loved Dr. Seuss at this age.

Naturally, reading is one of my most favorite things to do with my own boys. I want them to remember reading with me, just as I remember doing with my own mother.

So, just as my mother did with my brother and me, I take my boys to the library and let them check out the 25 book maximum. I try to select a few books while we’re here, but for the most part, I let Harrison pick the books that he wants. Sometimes, that means that I have to settle for a series of character books I’d rather pass on, but lately, it’s meant that I’m learning new things about dinosaurs. Did you know that the Brontosaurus is now called Apatosaurus? Or, that there is no such thing as a Pterodactyl? There is a Pterodactylus, but technically, it’s a Pterosaur and not a Dinosaur.

And, again as my mom did with us, we go to the bookstore. Here, I do make an effort to guide their selections, but I always let Harrison make the final decision. I’ve enjoyed slowly curating the boys’ library. Right now, we’re in a wonderful stage of picture story books, of books I loved from Reading Rainbow and books I remember my own librarian reading to us from her rocking chair each week in the school library. In the past, and out of convenience, I’ve picked up books at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon. More recently, though, I’ve discovered a little gem in an independent children’s bookshop.

A few weeks ago, Harrison and I made a trip to A Very Little Bookstore. We’ve been several times before, but always with baby Whitt, who has more fun pulling books off the shelf and making a general ruckus than he enjoys reading. I think it’s important to take my little one, but I wanted some one on one time with my oldest.

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The owner, Natalie, is  passionate about children’s literature and about children, and her enthusiasm is apparent in every aspect of her shop. She’s incredibly knowledgeable about the various authors and illustrators. So, her recommendations are always exactly what we need. She doesn’t recommend books in a “one size fits all” manner either, meaning she doesn’t simply recommend her own favorites and assume your child will love them too. She gets to know you and your child, and then she suggests books you’ll like. For example, her suggestions for my little boy are always very different than her recommendations for his bestie, Farris, even though they are both four. The more often you venture in, the better her recommendations. And, she hosts a children’s book club for older children. So cool, right?

A Very Little Bookstore | the Maypop

Not only is Natalie wonderful, but the shop itself is a special, magical place too. The walls are lined with individual and unique book shelves that look collected, rather than matching book cases you typically see in chain stores or libraries. And, her own children are often at the shop, which I love. It feels cozy and homey and very family-friendly. It’s the kind of place one can comfortably grab a book of the shelf and read on the carpet or at one of the low kids tables. It’s truly a place a mom can feel comfortable letting her kids be kids and dive into books (sometimes literally). And, that’s what makes this store so unique. It is truly a children’s bookstore – designed for children.

A Very Little Bookstore | the Maypop

This store may be little, but it is the gateway to a big, wide world. If you’re local to Summerville and haven’t been, it’s a must. And, if you’re in Charleston or Mt. Pleasant, it’s worth the drive. I promise. While you’re downtown, I suggest you finish your bookish afternoon off with a root beer float from Guerin’s Pharmacy or a hot cocoa from Single Smile Cafe.

Root beer float at Guerin's Pharmacy, Summerville, SC | the Maypop

 

Hot Cocoa from Single Smile Cafe, Summerville, SC | the Maypop

 

Photos by Gray Benko taken at the quaint A Very Little Bookstore (with the exception of the last two).

PS – Be sure to pop over to Palmettos and Pigtails if you haven’t already. You’ll find lots of craft ideas, great posts on meal planning (freezer meals for Baby G3!), and ideas for things to do with children from Disney World to the Lowcountry Children’s Museum.



August Goals

Aug Goals, Goal Setting | the Maypop

I love this vintage storybook cover for Mary Ware’s Promised Land. Find it on Etsy, at ReVintageLannie’s shop.

July recap and August goals

I know that some of you love summer, but I’m not one of those people. Call me crazy (or just 7 + months pregnant), but I am ready for shorter days, cooler nights, and for football season. Fall can’t get here soon enough for me. It’s so hot and humid here in Charleston, that I feel stifled physically and mentally too. With the exception of a few successes, July was a bust for me, and I’m going to chalk it up to the summer blues.

Successes –

1.We had a fun visit from Seymour, our Elf on the Shelf. And, I took advantage of this “Christmas in July” sale.

2. I checked off two items on my home to do list: I hung my plates and the fireplace is painted. You can see the plates here, and I promise to share the fireplace soon.

3. The boys’ room is coming together too: cornices are hung, sconces are up, existing artwork is up, and I found a dresser this week (technically August, I know). I’m working on a post about the boys’ room, but I did share a couple of sneak peeks on Instagram (@mrsmaypop).

For August, I’m not planning to set any new goals. My goal is to simply tackle the remaining July goals. My parents are keeping the boys for me for a few days, so I’m hoping to tackle several things while they’re gone. Wish me luck!

 

Here’s to getting back up on that horse and to trying again!

 

What are you working on this month? I’m linking up with The Tiny Twig and look forward to checking out the other bloggers who’ve shared their goals too. Let’s keep each other motivated!

 



Extended Breastfeeding and My Top Ten Breastfeeding Tips

 

I’m guest posting at Palmettos and Pigtails today. If you have a few minutes, I hope you’ll stop by Shara’s blog to see one of my favorite places to go with my boys.

 

I'm watching him wiggle his chubby little foot. Sweet, squirmy baby.

I’m watching him wiggle his chubby little foot. Sweet, squirmy baby.

Before World Breastfeeding Week ends, I want to share a few thoughts with you. I’m currently nursing a 20 month old, while pregnant at 30 weeks, and I nursed my first child until past his 3rd birthday. I suppose that places me squarely in the “extended breastfeeding” category.

I never thought I’d breastfeed for so long. I can remember thinking with my first baby that my goal would simply be to make it to the six month mark. It wasn’t until just recently that I even felt comfortable admitting to nursing a toddler, so writing about it very publicly on the internet is a big deal for me. I am not sure how to describe how I felt. I was confident that my decision was the right thing for me and for my boys, yet publicly I was still somewhat…I don’t know…insecure? I was not embarrassed or ashamed, per say, but I certainly didn’t volunteer the information. I would also often omit or gloss over details, even with close friends or family.

I think partly it was a fear of being either misunderstood, or worse, judged. (The backlash this mother received is enough to scare anyone into silence). When others realized I was still nursing, I would receive “wean him before kindergarten” comments, usually surprisingly from family, and even those were early on, maybe just past the one-year mark. Of course, these comments only made me more hesitant to share my experience.

I also didn’t often share my extended breastfeeding experience because I didn’t want my friends who didn’t or don’t breastfeed to feel that my nursing, especially for so long, was in any way a feeling of superiority. If you’re thinking that contradicts my earlier thoughts on feeling misunderstood or judged, then in a way, you’re right. You see, breastfeeding is a funny thing. As a new mom, I personally felt that I “should” breastfeed. Pro-breastfeeding propaganda met me at every doctor’s visit, in every baby book, and on every baby website. Before having children, I felt that I had to at least attempt to breastfeed, and I think that’s partly where my six month goal originated. I felt society pushed me, as a new mother, to breastfeed. It seemed there were statistics and research everywhere, scaring me further into thinking that if I didn’t breastfeed then my baby would be less intelligent, less secure, that we wouldn’t share a strong bond, and that his immunity would be forever weakened.

However, the same society and propaganda that pushed me to nurse as a new mom made me feel weird as I passed the one year mark and like a complete freak once I was nursing a toddler.

I only know one brave friend who said she didn’t want to breastfeed. Period. Didn’t want to. I admire her so much for knowing what she wanted and for doing what was best for herself, which in turn, is also what’s best for her baby. Every single other one of my mommy friends has said “I tried but didn’t produce enough milk,” or “I did until I had to go back to work, and then I couldn’t pump enough”. I’m sure some of these things are very true, and I know that nursing is a very challenging road for many of us. I know that we work through issue after issue, and that many times, these issues keep us from being able to nurse as long as we had hoped. I am also positive, however, that some of these mothers just did not enjoy breastfeeding but felt guilty or ashamed to admit it because society had made them feel that “breast is best”.

So, I continued to be relatively private about my extended nursing. Since I knew how much it hurt to feel judged, I certainly didn’t want to make my friends, and particularly vulnerable new mommies, feel that I was judging them for not breastfeeding. The truth is I still often wonder at how I ended up doing it for so long myself.

Yet, here I am, almost five years in. The longer I’ve nursed, the more I’ve come across other contradictions in nursing too. For example, everything I initially read made breastfeeding seem like the best diet plan ever. Most of my breastfeeding friends quickly dropped the baby weight and many were even slimmer than before baby; they all chalked it up to the extra calories they were burning while breastfeeding. Me? I can’t seem to shake about ten extra pounds. The baby weight comes off slowly after the first twenty pounds, and I don’t have the same muscle tone I had before, despite being consistent in the gym and eating relatively healthy. Luckily, I was able to read other women’s stories online and learn that I was not alone, that some women hang onto a little bit of “cushion” while breastfeeding.

Another contradiction is this whole idea of breastfeeding being such a sweet time with your baby. I find these stories especially unhelpful when I am asking for help. For example, I mention on Facebook that I am so, so, so tired because my one-year old has regressed and is again waking up almost every hour. In response, another mother, often years removed from breastfeeding, will advise me to just enjoy this sweet and fleeting time.

I realize this is meant to be helpful and to provide perspective in the moment. However, and while she is right – this time is sweet and it is fleeting – I already know that. That thought is what sustains me; it is what keeps me nursing until my babies are ready to wean, but it does not help me with the challenge at hand. I can recognize the truth, and there are moments like one earlier this week – Whitt was nursing and rubbing my very pregnant belly with one hand while his other hand was curled around my finger – that are sweet and incredibly tender. There are moments I want to remember always, wishing I could somehow seer them into my mind. But, I also have many moments of wishing he would nurse faster or being irritated that I am the only one that can comfort him sometimes, or just feeling like I don’t want to be touched right now. I remember one friend telling me she nursed her first baby but not her second because she “wanted her body back”. I was pregnant with my first at the time, and I can remember thinking that she meant she wanted to diet and get back in shape and felt that breastfeeding would limit her ability to do so. I’m sure that was partly what she meant, but after nursing two babies, I now know that she probably more meant that she “wanted her body back TO HERSELF”. She did not want to share her body or be physically at the beck and call of another person, no matter how incredibly adorable that little person may be. I understand her feelings, and there are days when I want my body both back in shape and back to myself.

Haley wrote about being “touched out” this week too; again, it is the stories of other mothers that have been so helpful in making me feel like I’m not alone on this breastfeeding journey. After seeing the #normalizeit hashtag on Instagram this week in conjunction with the beautiful #worldbreastfeeding pictures, I realized that I wanted to feel that breastfeeding is “normal”, despite it’s contradictions. So, I asked Eric to snap a (modest; can’t completely change who I am) picture of myself nursing Whitt and started on this post. And, then I sat on it. I was (and still am) nervous about sharing the picture on Instagram or telling my story here on the blog.

Despite my fears, I’m hitting “publish” today. I’m going to share my best tips for breastfeeding here. My hope is that these tips will help another mother who will help another and that, together, we can #normalizeit. I am intentionally not citing any research or statistics. My goal is not to convince you that breastfeeding is best. I’m not convinced myself. Breastfeeding is hard. Breastfeeding is not glamorous.

But, for me, it has been so worth all of the ups and downs and bends in the road. My goal is to support you if it’s the path that you to find yourself on.

One more thing, I’m not a lactation consultant, and I have no medical training. This is simply my advice, based on my nearly five years of breastfeeding.

Top Ten Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms | the Maypop

 1. Seek professional help. My husband and I met with a doula/lactation consultant/infant nurse (she was all of the three) in our home before and after we had our first baby. What I learned from her was incredibly valuable. So, seek out a lactation consultant and ask her a million questions. Let her touch you and show you how to get the baby to latch properly. The touching thing, the stranger-grabbing-your-engorged-breast thing is awkward, I know, so awkward, but I promise it will be helpful.

2. Get the proper latch. I’m not sure why it is difficult to get the right latch, but it is, especially at first. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that this is natural or instinctual for babies. Trust me, they need help. What’s worked best for me is to grab my breast behind the nipple with my hand. I place my thumb on top and fingers on the bottom, with my thumb and index finger facing outward, and then I place my nipple into the baby’s mouth. (Terrible visual, but picture yourself giving someone else a bite of a thick sandwich.) It’s hard to explain, but I  use my breast to gently push the baby’s lower jaw down, before placing my nipple in his mouth. I do this to make sure the baby has a wide open-mouth latch and that my nipple and areola are fully in the baby’s mouth.  My boys have a tendency to fold their lips under while latching. So, once latched, I use my finger to gently pull the baby’s lips open/up. In my experience, a proper latch is important for a couple of reasons; it will help prevent some discomfort for you, and it will help the baby eat more efficiently.

3. Be prepared to nurse often; a baby’s tummy is tiny. One of the most helpful things that our doula did was to bring a baggie of various-sized balls (marble, ping pong ball, etc) with her to show us how large a baby’s stomach is at different ages. Seeing how tiny a baby’s stomach actually is/was helped me through so many sleepless days and nights. When my newborn would want to nurse every hour, I would remind myself visually of those balls. I would imagine how small his tummy was and how little he was able to ingest, in contrast to how many calories he needed to grow and develop. I googled and found a similar image at Babies First Lactation blog; I hope it’s as helpful to you as the baggie of balls was to me in those early weeks.

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4. Have a glass of water and a snack on hand at all times. I am never hungrier or thirstier than I am during my first few weeks postpartum. And, I swear, I get the worst cotton mouth the minute I sit down to nurse. Make sure you have a glass of water or something to drink before you sit down to nurse.

5. Only offer one breast/side per feeding. I got conflicting advice here, even from the lactation consultants at the hospital. But, the doula/lactation consultant I trusted most told me to offer one side, so this is the advice I went with. Again, I’m not a medical professional and have no training, I am only sharing what works for me. And, what works for me is to only offer one side at a time. Once I started pumping, I could understand why this was true for my own body. I have a second let-down around the 18-20 minute mark of pumping. This second let-down is the rich, nutrient-dense hindmilk, as opposed to the more watery thirst-quenching foremilk. If I switch sides, then my babies are not satisfied because they’ve not received the rich hindmilk. I also think, for me personally, that the longer I let them nurse on a side, the more I was able to produce on each side. Again I received conflicting advice, but after doing more research, I think the general consensus is to offer one side per feeding.

6. Trust your own body and let it be your guide. I know one friend who had one breast that produced more milk than the other breast; my advice to not switch sides would not be best for her. In her case, it may make sense to always start with the less productive breast and then switch to the more productive one. I have another friend who always switches sides and has nursed two babies successfully. So, listen and learn from other mothers, but in the end, do what works best for you and your body.

6.5 Trust your baby’s body too. Pay attention to your baby’s bowel movements and general comfort when you’re nursing. There is conflicting information regarding the extent to which a mother’s diet affects the baby, but in my experience, my diet affected their comfort. Both of my boys reacted when I ate/drank dairy. Harrison’s stools changed in consistency and became almost like silly string, and Whitt was very gassy. If I didn’t eat dairy, they immediately seemed better. Neither of my boys was “allergic” to dairy, and they both outgrew these symptoms after a while, but they were clearly sensitive to dairy early on. Again, I’m glad I trusted my gut (no pun intended) and eliminated dairy despite the conflicting medical information. (This was torture when my friends lovingly brought over the most decadent lasagnas and cheesy casseroles.)

7. Record feedings (and bowel movements and nap times). In the early days and weeks (and often months, if we’re being honest), I am too tired to remember when I fed the baby last or on which side. So, I recommend that you write this stuff down at first. It is helpful if your husband/mother/friend is helping with some bottle feedings too. And, it is great to take this record to the pediatrician visits as a reference too. I tried to “wing it” with my second baby, to go with the flow, but I’m buying a notebook specifically to record this stuff with baby number three. I’m old fashioned and prefer paper and pen, but you could use a phone app, or something like an Itzbeen too.

8. Learn to nurse lying down. It took me several attempts and another visit from the doula to master nursing while lying down, but what a lifesaver it was. Seriously, there were times I felt too tired to hold the baby or times I would catch myself falling asleep while nursing in the chair. Nursing while lying down meant that, if I did fall asleep, at least the baby would not fall from my arms to the ground. (If you’re reading this, please don’t share any thoughts on co-sleeping. I’m simply saying this is what worked for us. We can debate the safety and merits of cosleeping in another post.)

This is how I do it: Place the baby in the center of the bed. Lie down so that the front of your body faces the middle of the bed. Put a pillow behind your back. This will allow you to lean slightly back, to relax a little, and to slightly elevate your bottom breast. When my babies are super tiny, I need to elevate my breast even further, so I tuck a hand towel, burp cloth, or clean diaper under it. As my babies get larger, I find I don’t need to do this. Use the “sandwich” method I described in step 2 to latch the baby. Finally, find a comfortable spot for your bottom arm. I tend to extend my arm straight out, and I find that this stabilizes me even further and keeps me from feeling like I will roll towards the baby.

9. Don’t supplement with formula. As a general rule, if your baby is healthy and is growing at each doctor’s visit and is peeing and pooping regularly, then I would personally not supplement. I don’t think formula is bad. I’ve given both of my boys formula (this is my favorite), and I think the formula/breastmilk balance is something that’s helped me nurse for so long. I’ll talk more about this in another post, but in those early weeks of trying to establish a solid supply, do not supplement with formula. (If formula is medically necessary for the baby to grow and thrive, then of course I don’t recommend against supplementing.)

This was challenging for me, especially with my first baby. He was very jaundiced, and one of the pediatricians in our group pressured me to supplement with formula to help speed the elimination of bilirubin from this system. But, I trusted my gut, and I knew that the baby was nursing frequently and that he was peeing and pooping often too. I spent some time on reputable breastfeeding and medical sites doing research (not WebMD or babycenter, thankyouverymuch). So, I disregarded what the doctor said and kept nursing exclusively. Instead, I made a few follow up appointments so that we could monitor the baby and immediately catch any issues. And, with each pediatrician visit, the baby and the jaundice improved. Another pediatrician in that same group said that because breastfed babies are often more jaundiced than non-breastfeed babies, he can’t help but wonder if bilirubin has some sort of protective prophylactic property that is not yet understood.

 10. Find a support system. I suppose nursing comes easily and naturally to some of us. But for the rest of us, breastfeeding is hard. Breastfeeding is not convenient. Breastfeeding is hardly instinctive. I used to wonder why it was so hard for me, yet mothers in third world countries were able to do it without the help of doulas or lactation consultants or books or kellymom.com. Then, I realized it’s because they have a “tribe” (I don’t necessarily mean this literally, although it is in some cases). What I’m saying is that in other cultures, more so than in America, women are surrounded and supported by the help and wisdom of other mothers. They watch and learn from each other. They help each other. Breastfeeding (and breasts for that matter) are not socially taboo. Before I had children, I don’t remember seeing another woman breastfeed. That’s right, I don’t think I had even seen anyone breastfeed in person. Never. Ever. So, find someone you can ask questions. I had a friend from work that I knew I could ask a million random questions, and I am so thankful for her friendship and support and wisdom (Bonnie, thank you). It was such a relief to know she was just a quick text or email away when I needed something.

Fellow mothers – How can we encourage each other? How can we make sure that new moms feel empowered and educated to make the right feeding decisions for their babies, whether that be bottle or breast? What bottle feeding tips do you have? What breastfeeding tips would you share? Please add them in the comments below. And, please let me know if you have any questions. I will try to address them in the comments or in a follow up post. Also, I’m working on a follow up post for tips on pumping and extended breastfeeding. What questions do you have regarding pumping or for nursing toddlers?

 



Family Recipe Box: Creamy Red Skinned Potato Salad

Red Skinned Potato Salad Recipe | the Maypop

While enjoying the visit with our family this weekend, we had a classic summer supper of hamburgers and potato salad. My mom makes a traditional potato salad; it’s yummy, but I wanted to make something closer to the “baked potato” style recipes that I’ve had other places. Red skinned potatoes are my favorite, and I knew I wanted to use those too. So, I Googled a few recipes, read lots of comments and reviews, made some tweaks, added a few of my own favorite ingredients, and I think I came up with a winner on the first try. Normally, I have a to make a recipe a few times to perfect it, but I honestly would not change a thing about this creamy, red skinned potato salad.

It was good enough, in fact, that I think I’ll add it to my own family recipe box; you know, for posterity’s sake.

On an episode of The Pioneer Woman a couple weeks ago, Ree mentioned that, on the day she married her husband, Ladd, her mother-in-law handed her a stack of recipes cards with a wink. Ever the sentimentalist, this bolstered my own desire to continue to collect, perfect, and save our own favorite family recipes. Now, I’m also looking forward to passing down my boys’ favorites to daughters-in-law one day. I hope this one makes my boys think of summer, of grilled suppers, of late nights, and of fun with their cousins.

Creamy Red Skinned Potato Salad

  • 3 lb bag petite red potatoes; I’d used a couple of potatoes from this bag for another recipe, so I was actually just shy of 3 lbs.
  • 6 boiled eggs. Remove and discard yolks and dice whites. I cheated and bought pre-boiled eggs for the first time.
  • 1 lb cooked, chopped bacon. I cheated again here and used a 3 oz package of real bacon pieces.
  • 1 c mayo
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 stalk celery, diced finely
  • Few handfuls of shredded sharp cheddar cheese; I just eyeballed this; I didn’t want it to be too cheesy, but I did want that little bite of sharp cheddar. I added about 3 small handfuls.
  • Green onions. I used 4 green onions, and I would say they were on the medium to small side.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash and dice potatoes, but do not peel them. I like a chunky potato salad, so I left my pieces fairly large. Boil potatoes, making sure not to let them get too soft. You want the potatoes to still be firm enough to stab with a fork and stand up to the other ingredients.

2. If the bacon or eggs were not already cooked, prepare those now too.

3. Drain potatoes and cool in the refrigerator. If you had to boil the eggs, then drain and cool while the potatoes are also cooling.

4. Once everything is cool, it’s time to mix the ingredients together in a large bowl.

5. Start by mixing the sour cream and mayonnaise together first.

6. Then, add the potatoes, eggs, bacon, celery, and green onions.

7. Finally, add the cheddar cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

8. Toss everything well, making sure not to smash the potatoes in the process. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

PS – Did you know you can “Pin It” to save a post directly to Pinterest from any of my pictures? Hover over the picture and try it on this recipe.