Happy Mother’s Day!

Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day…that I knew about. One year ago today we found out about our sweet little Cupcake.

May 15th will always be a special day for our family.

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We bought a house in 2015.

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We became godparents in 2016.

We actually became godparents on the same day we realized we were parents. That is so special.

Looking at that picture above was what made me take a pregnancy test, actually. Was I just bloated, or could it possibly be…?

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I posted this picture on social media as a “one year later” happy homeowner pic. Truthfully, this is the first photo of us as parents. After that first positive pregnancy test. After going to the store to get another one to make sure it wasn’t a fluke.

I wish we could find out about our babies the moment they’re conceived, but we are not that advanced yet. To find out the real exact moment we become parents. Those lines on a home pregnancy test (or 3) will have to do.

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From the moment the strip turned pink I was a different person. A mother.

I was carrying my child. My parents’ and in-laws’ grandchild. My siblings’ & siblings-in-laws’ niece. My friends’ godchild. So loved by everyone well before she came out of my body.

Not a ‘potential’; no longer just a hope & prayer. A real, living human being. 46 chromosomes. Irreplaceable & unrepeatable.

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Today, I’ve been a mom for a whole year.

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Why Having A Freezer Stash Of Milk Before Returning To Work Is Important

My maternity leave was 12 weeks long – which isn’t very long at all! I started thinking about it being over even before it started. I knew that I wanted to breastfeed Cupcake for as long as possible & therefore would need to pump milk for her to eat while I was away from her.

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Having a freezer stash before returning to work is important for two reasons: baby needs to eat (duh!), & mama needs peace of mind.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a lactation expert or health professional. The views expressed here are only my personal opinion & what worked for me. Nursing & parenting are not one-size-fits-all, so please do what is best for you & your family!

The first day back to work is stressful enough without having to worry about how your baby is going to eat on your second day back to work. If you have at least a week’s amount of food in the freezer you will feel a lot better. I know I did.

Some of the blogs/articles I read prior to returning to work say that you only really have to have a couple days’ worth of milk in the fridge/freezer before you go back to work. That’s technically true, since you will be pumping at work to replace the milk your baby drinks.

I personally wasn’t totally comfortable with that idea. I just kept thinking my baby would run out of milk or be hungry. Or that pumping wouldn’t work out well. My first day back at work was the first time I was away from my daughter for 10+ hours (8 hours of work, 1 hour of lunch, plus the commute). Sure I had left her with her grandparents a few time while I was on maternity leave, but never for more than like 4-5 hours. They’d ask me how often she eats & when she had to eat next & I would just say, “I don’t know, when she seems hungry just go ahead & feed her 4 oz.”

I wasn’t even totally sure about the 4 oz part – I only said that because I freeze milk in 4oz increments. When she’s with me she eats as much as she wants, whenever she wants, & it’s nearly impossible to tell how much she’s really eating. Only that she’s eating enough.

My first day at work I had no idea how much or how often she’d really eat. Every 3 hours? 4? While I didn’t love the uncertainty, I didn’t see it as a total negative. When I’m with her I 100% nurse on demand & never look to the clock before offering the boob. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now that I’ve been back to work for a while, I know that Cupcake usually eats three 4oz bottles while she’s away from me. So 1 week’s worth of milk is 60oz. I had about 80oz of milk in the freezer before I returned to work, which I knew would be enough.

There are lots of ways to go about building a freezer stash, but here’s what worked for me: I pumped at least once a day.

That’s it.

Now, I started pumping when Cupcake was 1 week old due to engorgement issues. Many moms do wait until nursing is well established, 3-4 weeks, before pumping & bottle feeding. My milk came in all at once on day 3. Cupcake actually lost too much weight her first week because I was so engorged she couldn’t latch properly. I met with a lactation nurse & we got pumping and feeding down pat. Thankfully Cupcake did not experience any nipple confusion, considering I started pumping & bottle feeding earlier than most. I’ve been very blessed that our breastfeeding relationship has gone smoothly after those first rocky weeks.

To build my stash, I didn’t try to pump 3-4 times a day or get on any kind of schedule or anything. Once Cupcake was feeding properly, I just made sure I pumped 1-3 ounces a day during my maternity leave. Some days I pumped more than others (whether it was more ounces, or more times), but not with the intention of purposely growing my stash. What I mean is that while I do think it’s important to build a stash, I didn’t stress about it. I built it slowly over my entire leave, only dipping in to it a handful of times before returning to work. Hey, date nights are important!

Having that much breastmilk in the freezer did wonders for my mental health returning back to work. Pumping is very different from nursing, especially when you’re at work. You have to get into a nursing mindset while being far away from your baby & using a loud mechanical device. If you’re too anxious about how many ounces you need to pump, this works against your body & you may pump less. Since I knew this before I returned to work, I tried to set myself up for success by having a nice freezer stash. That way if pumping took a little while to get the hang of, I could still give my baby breastmilk exclusively.

To this day I pump once a day, in the morning, & add that milk to my freezer stash (which now that we are using it to feed Cupcake while I’m at work is no where near 80oz!).

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The hard work of pumping is totally worth it!

Nursing Mommy’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

Cupcake is 2+ months old & growing like a weed! It’s very satisfying to look at her double chin & chunky legs & know that I did that.

Thankfully breastfeeding is going very well with little intervention from me, but every now & then I’ll drink some Mother’s Milk tea or malta to ‘help’ my supply. I haven’t actually had any supply issues, but eating yummy galactagogues can’t hurt.

What’s a galactagogue, you ask?

Milk

Do galactagogues really work? It’s debatable. I am not a doctor or a lactation expert, so please consult a professional if you are having any issues breastfeeding. The list of foods classified as galactagogues is long & includes lots of healthy & delicious foods. A lot of very common foods are on it, so there’s a good chance any breastfeeding mom is already consuming at least some.

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I’ve also been drinking this shake from time to time. It’s a nice treat between meals. This shake has ground flax seed & puffed wheat, two of the aforementioned galactagogues. Ground flax is not just good for lactation – it’s full of omega 3 & fiber. I’ve been putting it into all sorts of things from drinks to baked goods & even pizza. The shake also has peanut butter for protein & a packet of chocolate Carnation Breakfast Essentials. I’ve made similar shake recipes with cocoa powder instead, but the Carnation stuff is much tastier & full of vitamins. Now, this isn’t exactly a health food. I called it a shake instead of a smoothie for a reason! I used sweetened puffed wheat & regular Carnation stuff, but you can use unsweetened puffed wheat & no-sugar-added Carnation to cut down on the sugar.

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One packet of the breakfast powder makes 2 servings of this shake, so I either share with my husband or blend everything but the ice together & save half in the fridge to blend later.

Is this shake going to help with breastfeeding? I can’t say for sure, but I can tell you it is tasty & fun!

Nursing Mommy’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

Makes 2 servings
  • 2 Tb Peanut Butter
  • 2 Tb Flax Seed
  • 1 cup Puffed Wheat
  • 1 packet Chocolate Carnation Breakfast Essentials
  • 1 cup milk
  • ice
  1. Blend all ingredients except ice together for a few minutes.
  2. Add ice, blend until desired consistency.

 


Even though I’m posting more intermittently than ever, I was touched to see this:

100 followers

Thank you for all the follows ❤

Meet Our Little Cupcake

I have a really good reason for being M.I.A. lately.

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Our little Cupcake was born in January.

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We are head over heels in love with this little girl.

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She has taught me so much about life in the few weeks she’s been here.

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God is so good ❤


Pictures by  Love Photography by Cara, Inc.

Check them out if you’re in the South Florida area!

International Bacon Day, part 2!

Today is the OTHER International Bacon Day! I’m enjoying some bacon & eggs with my hubby, but check out some more bacon recipes below!

Mrs. Dessert Monster

Today is International Bacon Day!

Or at least, one of them, anyway.

To celebrate both bacon day & the start of college football this weekend, I’m making these delicious sweet & cheesy bacon tots.

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I first made these for New Year’s Eve last year & they were such a hit!

Just a little prep & 25 minutes later you’ll be in sweet, crunchy heaven! There’s just something about the combination of brown sugar & bacon that’s hard not to love. Then this recipe adds 2 of my other favorite things – cheese & potatoes.

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YUM.

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I better not make these until our friends come over, otherwise there will be none left for them!

Sweet & Cheesy Bacon Tots

Adapted from Damn Delicious 
  • 2 cups frozen tater tots, room temperature
  • 1 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4-inch squares
  • 4 slices bacon, cut in 4
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to…

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Pregnant Tiramisu

I have been pretty good this pregnancy about following the guidelines of what not to eat. Not too paranoid, but definitely avoiding the basics.

No alcohol. No cold cuts. No sushi. Limited caffeine. Nothing with raw eggs.

Raw eggs is one that seems straight forward, but isn’t. Meringue frosting? Raw egg whites. Homemade mayonnaise dressings? Probably has raw eggs. Tiramisu? RAW EGGS.

I had never made tiramisu before, but earlier in my pregnancy I had a hankering for it & looked up some recipes to see if I could substitute the obvious non-pregnancy friendly ingredients out. I was surprised when nearly every recipe called for raw egg yolks, & some also use the raw egg whites!

I figured tiramisu was just one more thing I’d have to add to my  ‘No’ list. Until I came across this post by Lily from Little Sweet Baker. She did it! An amazing egg-free tiramisu recipe! With a few substitutions, baby & I could enjoy tiramisu after all!

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Not only is this recipe safe for pregnancy, it’s also amazingly simple – which is great since pregnancy brain is in full swing around here. To make the tiramisu truly pregnancy friendly I used decaf espresso & omitted the liquor. My husband & I switched to decaf espresso when we found out about the baby, so that was no issue. I also increased the amount of vanilla extract a little to ‘make up’ for the liquor taste.

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I ended up making this recipe several weeks ago when we had some friends over to watch a football game & it was a big hit! One of my friends is really sensitive to caffeine & was grateful for a decaf tiramisu recipe. So it’s not just pregnancy friendly!

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Serve with a decaf cappuccino & have yourself an (almost) authentic Italian night!

Pregnant Tiramisu

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup mascarpone, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups decaf espresso, cooled
  • lady fingers
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla extract.. Add mixture to whipped cream and beat again until smooth.
  3. Dip each lady finger into the cooled espresso. Do not soak too long or they will get soggy. Line a 9×9 square baking dish with a layer of dipped lady fingers.
  4. Spread half of the cream mixture over the lady fingers. Repeat another layer of lady fingers & cream. Chill for a minimum of 4 hours, best if overnight.
  5. Dust with cocoa powder before serving. (If you do this before chilling the tiramisu, like I accidentally did, it will still be delicious! Just a little less pretty.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I have more to be thankful for than ever!

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I’m so thankful for my family, especially my baby girl!

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Less than 9 weeks left to go!

I thank God for all these blessings & hope everyone has a wonderful holiday filled with love. ❤

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child!

It’s National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child! This year it’s from Nov 14 – Nov 21. Check out our shoe box packing from last year below!

Mrs. Dessert Monster

Today kicks off National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child!

National Collection Week is November 16-23

6 years ago the church I was a member of while in college introduced me to Operation Christmas Child.

What is the mission of Operation Christmas Child?

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

This ministry collects shoeboxes – or really, shoebox sized containers – filled with gifts & essential items for needy kids around the world. Once the boxes are packed, shipped, & distributed, teams from Samaritan’s Purse get with local churches to distribute the boxes to the kids. During that time, the Gospel is presented to the kids in their own language in a fun way. Aside from providing presents & necessities such as toiletries, these kids get to…

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National Dessert Day!

October 14th is National Dessert Day!

It’d be wrong if I let the day go by without sharing something with y’all.

Here are some recipes to inspire you to celebrate!

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Cinnamon Gingerbread Ice Cream

S’mores Cake

Chocolate Mousse

Blueberry Cake with Lemon Buttercream

Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

Strawberry Lemon Cheesecake Icebox Cake (or, Cheesecake Lasagna)

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Custard-style Vanilla Ice Cream

The Best Banana Pudding Ever

Ricotta Honey Sesame Ice Cream

Caramel Apple Cake


How are you celebrating?

Celebration Week!

This week is full of celebrations!

So many birthdays this week. Several of my friends have birthdays around this time.

My cat turned 11!

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My niece turned 4!

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& I’m 28!

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However, these are not the biggest celebrations of the week.

The biggest celebration is on Friday, the 40th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment!

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For almost a year now I’ve been working with Secular Pro Life on a special project, #HelloHyde.

Enacted in 1976, the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding of abortion through Medicaid. It has received BIPARTISAN support every year since. This election year, it is under attack.

We are putting faces to the statistics thrown around by both sides. The abortion lobby says that the Hyde amendment oppresses poor women.

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We say that 1 in 9 of these people would not be alive if it weren’t for the Hyde amendment.

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So what the abortion lobby really mean is that 2.13 million people would have been killed if it weren’t for the Hyde Amendment.

My parents immigrated to the US from Communist Cuba while my mom was pregnant with me. My mom was never going to abort me, but if Medicaid did cover abortions, how many women in similar low income/limited resources situations would feel pressured to ‘take the easy way out’? Would someone have tried to talk my parents, poor immigrants without a penny to their name, into aborting me for free?

Abortion affects many generations. My niece & I are both Medicaid Kids, & I am currently pregnant, though not using Medicaid. Just because our parents were experiencing hardship around the time we were born, doesn’t mean we didn’t deserve the right to life.

How is repealing the Hyde Amendment NOT socioeconomic discrimination?

The Hyde Amendment shows women that might be facing less-than-desirable pregnancies that they CAN do it, & there are programs that can help.

Thank you to the Charlotte Lozier Institute  & Dr. Michael New for their study. The data was also broken up by state. Here’s Florida’s number:

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Find your state meme on Facebook.

We also have a YouTube video to share.

On Friday, September 30, we will be having a tweet fest. We encourage Medicaid kids to share their picture with the name tag found on hellohyde.org. We encourage anyone who’s not a Medicaid kid to retweet as much as they can & share the graphics.

See you at the party on Twitter! Happy 40th birthday, Hyde!


What’s next now that the anniversary has passed? Read here for the next phase of our mission!