How Long Should I Breastfeed?

This post is about something I feel very strongly about.  Breastfeeding.  I will begin by saying (proudly) that I tandem nurse my 15 month old and my 3 year old.  The journey for every mom is different but I am writing today mainly for those moms who are on the fence because of the pressures and views of our society.

Many people are familiar with the recommendation to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months of life for optimal growth.  What many people don’t realize is that there are many benefits to nursing a child beyond 6 months.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least a year. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) recommends nursing for a minimum of two years.

Even after 12 months, babies continue to benefit from human milk. At one year of age, a baby’s immune system is functioning at only 60 percent of adult level.  A child’s immune system isn’t functioning at adult level until age six.  Your milk continues to provide immunities and vitamins, and can help protect your toddler from illness and allergies. If your toddler gets sick, nursing will help comfort him/her and sometimes an upset stomach may be able to tolerate nothing but human milk.

There are tons of studies out there that touch on breastfeeding and cognitive achievement.  Research has also found that meeting a child’s dependency needs is key to helping that child achieve independence.

Personally, I think many moms are fearful to breastfeed past a certain age because of how our society views it.  Perhaps the one time that stands out most to me is when my son was 2 years old we were riding in the car, he was tired and started whining and asking for “boob.”  We were riding with someone that’s very close to me and their reply was, “Come on, we’ll get you home and give you some good old cows milk.”  I immediately lashed out and said, “because cow’s milk is so much better than his mom’s milk?”  I have withstood the awkward glances, the “when are you going to wean him” and every question in between.  At first, I must admit, it bothered me and that made me think about so many other moms out there who probably feel the same way.  I have thought long and hard about why I nurse personally (it’s different for everyone and it’s not for everyone).  Eventually it got to the point where it simply doesn’t bother me what other people think.  They are my children, it is my body and my decision.  We shouldn’t have to feel judged for doing something amazing for our children but unfortunately sometimes we are.

In closing I found the following information interesting.  Especially the fact that the natural weaning age for humans is between 2 and 7 years.

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that breastfeeding continue throughout the first year of life and that “As recommended by the WHO, breastfeeding should ideally continue beyond infancy, but this is not the cultural norm in the United States and requires ongoing support and encouragement. It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. Family physicians should be knowledgeable regarding the ongoing benefits to the child of extended breastfeeding, including continued immune protection, better social adjustment, and having a sustainable food source in times of emergency. The longer women breastfeed, the greater the decrease in their risk of breast cancer.” They also note that “If the child is younger than two years of age, the child is at increased risk of illness if weaned.” (AAFP 2008)

So all you Mamas out there. Do what’s right for you, believe in it and know that if someone is judging you for breastfeeding your toddler they are probably just not educated about it.  You have a couple choices…politely educate them or when they ask “So how long are you going to nurse?” Respond with, “Well, probably a few more minutes.”   Happy nursing my friends!

Another article you may enjoy is something written in USA today.  Here is the link.

USA Today: Breastfeeding a 3-year old is normal

My prAna Clothing Review!

hahaha! flexibility testing for prAna.
hahaha! flexibility testing for prAna clothing.

prAna is an ancient Sanskrit word for breath, life and vitality of the spirit. It is also an incredible clothing line with a mission to inspire healthy, active and free-spirited living.

I was thrilled when I was selected to try and review a prAna outfit on my blog.  I have to be honest, at first glance of the price tag I was like “NO WAY!”  Those that know me know that I am a thrift store shopper and absolutely love 50-cent clothing day.  So my outfit arrived and when I first put on my Devan Henley I decided I might just live in it.  It was so soft!  None of my clothes are that soft.  It’s made of an organic cotton jersey blend and is 52% Organic Cotton 48% Poly.  I chose the Mineral Green and it is also available in Black, Vintage Cobalt and Winter.

I love a piece of clothing that feels like “me” and when I reach in my closet I want to put something on that reflects who I am and also makes me feel confident and comfortable.  I am a mover! I am an on the go mom with two very spirited toddlers.  We play hard, we hike, we dance and we live in the mountains.  Everyone knows when you live in the mountains of Montana you always need an extra layer in your backpack (even on a beautiful blue sky sunny day!) This shirt is absolutely my new favorite layer for any adventure.  It is versatile, super cute and comfy.  I read that we only wear about 30% of what’s in our closet.  This would definitely be an essential for me.

devan-henley
Devan Henley

 

 

I also got to try out a pair of Kara jeans.  They are a versatile soft stretch denim made of 79% Organic Cotton / 19% Polyester / 2% Spandex.  They are low rise, fitted with a tapered leg.  When I first looked at them I thought they were really cute (and soft) but there was no way I was going to fit in them.  I was wrong.  I put them on and it was like a second skin.  They were stretchy, super comfortable and flattering.  Again, a versatile product that I can see myself wearing while out adventuring or for everyday.  Sometimes at the end of the day jeans will be sagging in all the wrong places.  Not these! The material is great and they come in a variety of fun printed and solid patterns. As you can see above they allow you to do trampoline v-jumps which is an added bonus 🙂

kara-jean
Kara Jeans

I absolutely loved the prAna clothes and decided to do a little company research to see what they’re all about.  They were a small company that started in a garage in California. They sewed the first pieces themselves, the tags were made from homemade recycled paper and local grocery store fruit boxes were used to ship the orders.  Obviously they have grown but their core belief is that companies (like theirs) should give much more than they take from the world.  YES!  I try to practice mindfulness every day and I teach it to my children.  Mindfulness is at the core of everything we do and it’s where change happens (big and small).

I love shopping local and buying from companies that are dedicated to community, sustainability and mindfulness.  So in the end I wouldn’t think twice about purchasing prAna products.  I am thinking about going upstairs right now and donating 60% of my clothes 😉  When you think about any purchase I’ve learned to look beyond the sticker price and instead find the value of that item.  For example, you might be able to buy a shirt from Wal-Mart (don’t get me started on Wal-Mart!) for $5 that will last you a season OR you can spend more for a quality product that will last for years. I agree, prAna is pretty spendy but like any good piece of gear, it will last much longer if it’s made of quality material and comes from a trusted company that will stand behind their products.

We are indeed a society of “more is better” but if everyone stops to really think about that then we know it isn’t true.  So while I was simply supposed to write this clothing review I’ve found that it’s more than just clothing, it’s about mindfulness and even the smallest things can make a big difference.

If you want to give prAna a try you can use the discount code below:

Discount code: MMLPLLMA

Discount code details: 

  • Valid for 15% off at prAna.com
  • One-time use per customer
  • Not valid for Influencers, on Gift Certificates or with any other offers
  • Valid thru October 31, 2016

AND DON’T FORGET TO USE EBATES FOR AN EXTRA 2.5% CASH BACK!! 

another beautiful day with these two characters

*I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com), May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.

Life Without Walls

My heart is full. A 3,000 mile tent camping road trip with a 3 year old and a 1 year old may sound like hell to some, but it put me back in my happy place.  For the hubby and I it felt like we had been on a hamster wheel for a year.  New baby, new town, work, school, apartment living.  This is extremely difficult for two people that have hiked across the country a couple times and tasted freedom in every sense of the word.  We knew something had to give and we had to find a way to get back out there and do the things that make us happy.  We seriously considered selling everything, buying a cargo van and hitting the road for good!  We decided to first pack up the truck and immerse ourselves and our kids in the outdoors for a bit.

So for one month we have lived out of our truck, traveling 3,000 miles through Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.  A destination wedding took us to Colorado, we just decided to take a long time to get there and a long time to return to our box of an apartment.

I am still processing it all.  We’ve been asked numerous times, “So have you found a place in your travels that you want to land next?”  I stumble over words for a “correct” response.  No. All this trip has done for us is open a million doors and has been completely freeing!  It makes us want to live a life without walls.  We just spent a month watching our kids adjust to living outside 24-7 and they thrived.  We went to bed when we were tired and woke when rested.  Eric taught Lukas (almost 3) to gather wood and built and tend to a fire and he was amazing at it!  We saw the Strawberry Moon come up over the horizon as we sat in awe and roasted marshmallows.   Lukas fed ants to antlions, we watched a spider tend to her eggs, went fishing, watched storms roll in, ate ice that fell from the sky as tiny hail balls bounced off of us, identified flowers, made mud pies…the list goes on.

Our days were full, some were completely exhausting, there were toddler meltdowns, teething, a few sick days and a times when we all ended up sleeping on a queens size air mattress.  There was a lot of laughter.  Mostly there was this feeling that we were nailing it as parents! haha.  Our kids weren’t cozy and comfortable 100% of the time.  There was weather and mosquitoes and elements that we all had to adjust to.  Lukas learned to dig his own hole to poop in and Lilah ate her fair share of mud and rocks.

I would wake in the morning to the sounds of the woods and for the first time in what feels like forever my soul was completely alive.  I felt a new appreciation for all of it and we got to experience even the most basic things through the curious eyes of our children.

We are back in our apartment now.  I wouldn’t say it feels like home.  We felt at home when we were “out there”.  So what now?  I don’t know.  We’ve always lived a little differently than most.  Sometimes we need roots and sometimes wings.  Right now the wings seem to be taking over.  Stay tuned.

 

Coolest Easter Bunny EVER

Not to brag but growing up I had the absolute BEST Easter bunny in the world.  She was so incredibly creative. Now that I think about it, where in the heck did she even find the time?  Oh yes…Easter bunnies don’t think of it that way I suppose.  I mean, when you are doing special things for the little ones in your world you do it with great love and somehow you always find the time.  And I quote Mother Teresa, “do small things with great love.”  Well anyhow, my Easter bunny went above and beyond.

From the time I can remember I would wake up on Easter morning with my sister and brother and there would be a giant basket full of chocolate, a handwritten note from the bunny herself and a plastic egg.  Inside that plastic egg was a clue on where to find the next egg which held the next clue and so on.  These clues took us all over the house.  They were clever and thoughtful and sometimes rhymed.  As the years passed the egg hunt grew.  It went from the house to outside in the yard and the next thing I knew we were on the four wheeler riding around on the farm and down to my grandma’s house looking for clues.  It didn’t stop there!  When my sister could drive that Easter bunny decided to step it up a notch and hid clues all around town. Now mind you, we lived 5 miles outside of town at the end of a dirt road on the farm.  My awesome, coolest, most clever Easter bunny hid these clues all around town so we could go on this giant Easter egg hunt in my sisters car!  It would take all morning and those clues weren’t easy but eventually we would make our way to the last clue and waiting there was a gift for each of us.  Not just any gift but a thoughtful gift.  My Easter bunny always put a lot of thought into what we would like and I loved that (and still love that) about her.  It was never about the gift though.  Don’t get me wrong, I always loved a special present at the end and after that a big family breakfast, but the best part was the hunt!  It was thrilling and different and made me eager with anticipation.

I realize Easter egg hunts for most people end when you are 9 or 10 or something but not for this girl.  I believe they stopped when I went to college and lived 90 minutes away. My point is, here I sit in my 30’s and my heart is so full remembering our big Easter egg hunts growing up.  Times have changed, technology has changed and I do think children are different these days…but…children are children and the effort and love that we put into things both big and small spills over into their lives in a very big way.

I’m encouraging all you Easter bunnies out there to think outside the box this year.  Maybe it isn’t a huge all over town egg hunt but perhaps start a new fun tradition that pulls in even your oldest children.  I know my sister did a lot of eye rolling perhaps when she drove us around town looking for plastic eggs with clues but I guarantee if you ask her today it would be one of her greatest memories. Many times as parents we think we are too busy and just don’t have the time…but we do have the time.  Just remind yourself that it’s not just an Easter egg hunt but it’s a memory, it’s time well spent, it’s all that matters in the end.  Someday down the road you’ll probably wish for just one more chance to stuff plastic Easter eggs with tiny handwritten clues in anticipation of seeing your child’s beautiful, wide, excited eyes sparkle from something so…simple.  Sending creative thoughts to my fellow Easter bunnies!

 

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I had a request from a friend for my homemade dishwasher detergent so here it is! I sometimes use a website called iHerb.com to get my ingredients but you can find them easily at other stores  and online at Amazon.

Ingredients:

2 cups washing soda

2 cups oxygen bleach (I use Country Save, I do not use OxyClean as it is full of fillers which defeats the purpose of having a detergent that is void of harmful chemicals)

20 drops of lavender essential oil (optional but boosts cleaning power and smells good!)

20 drops of lemon essential oil (optional but again boosts cleaning power and scent!)

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Transfer to a storage container.

Use 2 tablespoons per load of dishes

NOTE:  I fill my rinse aid compartment with vinegar and it helps immensely!

* If you still have mineral deposits on your glasses you can add a tsp of citric acid to each load and that should take care of it.

 

Mystery Shopping is REAL!

I am a mystery shopper for a company called BestMark…shhhh! I get paid to go to stores and ask about products and then write a review on the service I receive.  There are restaurant shops where you get paid to have dinner (in addition to getting reimbursed for your meal).  Probably the best opportunities I’ve seen as of late are the oil change and tire rotation shops.  You get a free oil change/rotation in addition to getting paid for your time (this is typically $20-$25 PLUS reimbursement for your service). Who doesn’t want free oil changes?  Shops vary by location.  In my area there are a lot of automobile and department store shops.  Sometimes I am paid to ask about purchasing a new vehicle by going to a dealership and there are also shops that pay just for making a phone call or an inquiry on a website.  In the department store shops I typically have 2 areas of the store to visit.  I will ask about laptops or cameras, for example, and then take note on my experience and the help I received from the associates.  I also provide feedback on the store itself (cleanliness, items in stock, etc.)  It’s actually a lot of fun and easy money.

If you’re interested in Mystery Shopping for some extra cash just go through this link and sign up!  I would really appreciate it if you put my shopper ID WA9756 on your application when asked who referred you.  I know there are other programs out there for mystery shopping but this is the only one that I am a part of.  If I find more then I will pass on the good word!  Go earn some extra cash!

Free Products for Moms!

 

I became a Mom Ambassador over a year ago for a website called Moms Meet.  I just got selected to test NeilMed Nasal Oral Aspirator with a group of moms.  I will test and write a review in late March so stay tuned!  This is a really awesome program for anyone who has a group of mom friends that want to get free products to test in exchange for honest feedback.

You can apply to be a Mom Ambassador through this link.  You fill out a profile and they match you with product samples that fit your group of moms.  You will receive emails to apply to test products.  If selected you get a BIG box of samples to share with your group.  The sample box typically contains samples of the product and coupons for free items to be distributed.  In return you fill out a survey to provide valuable feedback about the product.  If you send photos of your testing party you can earn more “coins” that can be cashed in for rewards.  Moms Meet allows you to meet other moms, try natural, organic and eco products and win prizes and rewards.

So far I have tested Ology Laundry Detergent, Horizon Super Squeeze Pouches, Annie’s Snacks and a variety of other products.  I always see these “free product websites” where you never actually get products or you have to sign up for free trials.  This isn’t one of those!  I am amazed at all the samples they provide for my groups.  In the Annie’s Snack box I got several full boxes of fruit snacks, graham crackers, regular crackers and coupons for free pizza poppers and bagel bites and coupons for all the things we tested at the party.  The coupons are for free items too, not just a certain amount off! As a mom ambassador you also get extra product samples to keep and use for yourself which is a fun perk.  So if you’re a green mama with a group of friends that want to test some products then sign up!

Two Thumbs Up For Thrive Market!

I am not a “couponer”.  The #1 reason for this is because MOST coupons are for processed foods that we try to steer clear of in my household.  Yes, you can get free groceries but that means nothing to me if I’m putting things in my body that aren’t good for me.  I actually stumbled upon Thrive Market when I was looking to purchase a probiotic.  I signed up for a free trial and was able to get 15% off my first order.  Essentially I got 1 bottle of probiotic free PLUS a free jar of organic coconut oil (they offer different freebies when you order a certain amount).  I was intrigued!  I started looking at the different products on the website and the prices for healthy products were much cheaper than you can find in any other store (believe me, I did my research!)

I encourage everyone to check it out, at least for the free trial period.  If you click on the banner at the top of this post you will receive 15% off of your first order.  You then register for free and start shopping.  There is food, health and beauty, baby, home and even items for your pets!  When you register you will be signing up for a 30 day trial which means you won’t pay a membership fee if you cancel before that trial period ends.  If you decide to continue to receive the discounted products you can pay a yearly membership fee and with your paid membership Thrive will sponsor a low income family. How awesome is that?!  If you decide to cancel you simply email or call (and shhhh….they will offer you a discounted membership fee to get you to stay!)

Do I think it’s worth it? Yes! Not only are you getting healthy food delivered to your door at wholesale prices but Thrive gives a membership to a family in need!  The mission of Thrive is to make healthy living affordable.  I LOVE THIS!

As a healthy mama I encourage everyone to give it a try at least for your trial period and first order.  With the 15% discount and free shipping over $49 you can’t go wrong.  You can try out some products you might not see at your regular supermarket and if you love it and decide to keep your membership then you can continue getting your orders shipped directly to you.  That is a perk in itself for this mama!  I mean, I do love taking my 2 children to the grocery store with me.  It is extremely relaxing (insert sarcasm here.)

One last tip…if you are gluten free, paleo, vegan or have other special dietary restrictions you can use the shop by filter to find products that fit your needs. Happy healthy shopping, friends!

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

cleaning-the-house-funny-quotes

I read an article a long time ago about your “to do list” getting longer and longer but never finding the time to check things off.  I am actually one of those people that add things to my list AFTER I’ve done them so I can check them off.  shhhh….

  1. Eat breakfast
  2. Make coffee
  3. Write a to do list

No seriously, there are things that nobody likes to do, like clean the bathroom.  Side note…when I had Lukas and my mom was visiting she asked, “Is there anything you need me to do? Do you want me to clean your bathroom?”  I was like, “No, you don’t need to do that.” and in my head I’m thinking, is my bathroom dirty?  A couple years later…Hey Mom, come clean my bathroom anytime you want! 

So anyways, this article was about a group of friends who would get together one time per month at a different persons house.  Each friend kept a running “to do” list.  When it was your turn to have friends over everyone worked together to knock out the list!  What a great idea! The lists included cleaning, freezer meal prep…you get the idea.

So I’m thinking, make some (Irish?) coffee, turn on some music and start a friend/mom/co-worker group.  The goal isn’t to sit and socialize but to knock out projects that you can’t seem to get around to WHILE enjoying some good company.  You set aside a few hours a month and when it’s your turn you get a clean bathroom!