Autumn Traditions

“Ah, September! You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul.” – Anonymous

Long before I became a mother, I dreamed of what it would be like to have a house full of children to care for and raise. I’d imagine how fun it would be to build blanket forts on rainy days, make special homemade meals on the weekends, and make holidays special with arts and crafts and decorations.

I must admit that after becoming a mother its sometimes hard for me to hold onto those dreamy ideals. Maybe it’s just the age he’s at, but Ellis doesn’t seem to want to focus on one thing long enough to try and make a blanket fort or even entertain the idea of doing some fun afternoon craft project. However, he loved decorating for his birthday party and still talks about it and I know that what really matters is spending time with him and making memories together.

I’m starting a new tradition with Ellis where we pull out all of our fall and Halloween decor on September 10th. This gives us time to get past birthday celebrations because both Ellis and my birthday are in September. I also like the idea of having something fun to look forward to after the birthday excitement has worn off.

I love the changing seasons and autumn has always been a special time of year for me. I love the magic and coziness that autumn brings and the symbolism of slowing down and turning inward. In years past I have waited until the first day of fall to dust off the felt pumpkins and decorate our home, but I want a little more time to enjoy the warmth and cheer this year.

On Thursday Ellis and I enjoyed going through my big black box of halloween and fall decor. Unlike last year, Ellis was very excited to pull out all of the pumpkins and see what kind of goodies were in the box. We put on some jazz music while we decorated and then later in the day I made some Autumn Squash soup to have for dinner that night.

I want to know, does your family have any special autumn traditions? Do you decorate for fall or Halloween? I’ll have to give you guys a look at all of our decor once we get things in place!

Cozy Labor Day

Happy Labor Day! I woke up this morning a little tired and sore, but overall I felt motivated to start a new week.

The mornings have been a lot cooler recently with temperatures hanging around in the mid 60s. I can definitely feel that Autumn isn’t far off when I walk out on the deck in the mornings now.

Brendan was off work for Labor Day toady and Ellis and I were happy to have him around for what felt like another Saturday. Around Breakfast time Brendan went out to do some birthday shopping for me and while he was out I had breakfast and got to hang out with Ellis.

Ellis turned 2 years-old on Thursday and I’m still trying to process how my baby is such a big boy now. Everyone always uses the term “Terrible Twos”, which I absolutely hate. I say “Terrific Twos” instead because I refuse to speak negatively over my child.

That being said, we’ve definitely had some trying moments over the past few days. It’s as if somebody flipped a switch the day after Ellis’ birthday and as a result he’s been quite emotional. Poor buddy has been having meltdowns regularly several times a day and he’s been acting very independent and gets extremely frustrated when he doesn’t get exactly what he wants. The past few days haven’t been easy, but I’m hoping that he’s just going through a wonder week.

Anyway…

Today was one of those days where I felt quite productive around the house and I felt happy and motivated to do chores. I had several baskets of laundry that needed to be folded and put away and I hoped to get some tidying up done around the house during the morning. My intention was to pull out all of our fall/halloween decor and start decorating, but we didn’t quite get that far. That may be on the agenda for tomorrow though.

By the time Brendan got back home around noon Ellis was asking to go out on a ride and get out of the house. So Brendan decided to take Ellis out for a bit while I got some more chores done around the house.

I put some Jazz music on and got busy in the kitchen! Does anyone else love Jazz music? It puts me in the coziest fall mood and lifts my spirits if I’m feeling down.

First off I decided to make some juices. I’ve been trying to have us eat all of the leftover fruits and veggies from Ellis’ party last week, but we still had a decent amount that really needed to go. So, I grabbed carrots, celery, and cucumbers that have been chilling in the fridge for a week and paired them with some ginger, lemon, and grapefruit. A very tasty juice if I do say so myself!

Next up I made my go-to ginger shots. I’ve been making these regularly since Brendan and I got married and I try to fix them for us once a week during cold and flu season. To make them simply juice 2 lemons, 1 green apple, a 1-inch piece of ginger, and then mix in some turmeric powder and a bit of black pepper.

I was feeling quite domesticated and resourceful today, so I took the citrus rinds that were leftover from juicing and decided to place them in a mason jar and cover them with some white vinegar. Hopefully within a couple of weeks I’ll have some nice all-purpose cleaner to use. This was my first time making a citrus vinegar cleaner so I’ll have to let you guys know how it turns out.

Once the boys got home I fixed Ellis some leftovers for lunch and finally took myself upstairs to shower and get dressed. By the time I was done with that I knew that Ellis was tired and ready to go down for his nap. So while Brendan went to go mow the yard I nursed Ellis and got him to fall asleep.

I spent the rest of the afternoon taking it easy doing a little bit of reading and writing. One of the books I’m currently reading is Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth. I actually watched the tv series on Netflix a couple of years ago before I realized it was a book. But my mom found this copy at Goodwill and let me borrow it to read. I’m not quite halfway through it yet, but I’m really enjoying it so far.

For dinner this evening I wanted to fix a warm filling meal that would leave us with some leftovers for lunches tomorrow, so I decided to make some spinach lasagna rolls. I’ve been eating fully plant-based on and off again this year (I can talk more about that in another post sometime), and I can definitely say that when I eat dairy like I did tonight, my body really doesn’t feel well afterwards. I’ve had this lasagna recipe since Brendan and I first started dating, but I don’t make it very often.

After dinner I tidied up the kitchen and Brendan’s office and then spent some time reading to Ellis before we finally got him to go to bed. Now I’m going to work on some more blog content while watching “Sister Sister” on Netflix.

I hope you guys had a wonderful Labor Day!

Breastfeeding Journey

I have been breastfeeding Ellis for 14 months now. Its been a beautiful journey! We still enjoy snuggling up together to breastfeed morning, afternoon, and night. And honestly, I don’t see us slowing down anytime soon.

From the very beginning of my pregnancy I knew that I wanted to breastfeed my baby. My mom had breastfed me and my four siblings and other women in my immediate family had done the same. It was familiar to me and I knew I had a good support team of other mamas surrounding me.

Liquid Gold â€” The First Drops of Colostrum 

I started producing colostrum the day before I entered my third trimester. It took me by surprise! But I was so grateful that my body had already started producing food for my son.

I wondered if I would have a good milk supply since I started producing colostrum so early, but I tried not to place any expectations on myself and my body. I had started reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding per my midwife’s suggestion, so I felt like I knew a decent amount about breastfeeding. Still, I don’t think a book fully prepared me for just what to expect.

The First Latch 

I gave birth in the comfort of my own bedroom and was blessed to have skin-to-skin for the first few hours with Ellis before his newborn exam.

Sadly, I don’t clearly remember the first time Ellis latched on. I know it was within the first couple of hours after he was born, but that’s about all I can recollect. Both my midwife and doula helped me with getting Ellis to latch and showing me which positions I could try for nursing.

The next day when my midwife came back to do our 24 hour check, she asked how many times Ellis had eaten the day before. I don’t remember the number of times he fed, but I remember my midwife encouraging me to try and get him to eat more often. I felt so guilty when I heard her say that â€” I was worried that I was failing my baby and not feeding him enough.

The Early Weeks 

Right from the start, Ellis was a cluster feeder and loved to be held. And I chose to feed him on demand â€” no measuring or fretting about the time on the clock. When he was hungry, I nursed him. When he needed to be consoled, I nursed him. When he just wanted to be held close, I nursed him.

This worked really well for us and I enjoyed it.  The thought of measuring and feeding on a scheduled time stressed me out. It was much more convenient for me to just nurse him whenever he wanted and not worry about pumping or feeding him at a specific time.

That’s not to say that breastfeeding was a breeze.

The first few weeks were actually pretty uncomfortable and painful for me. My nipples were so raw and sore that it hurt when Ellis latched on. And since he was feeding so often, I felt like I never got a break to let my nipples heal. Both my midwife and my mom tried to help me work on getting Ellis to latch properly, but it just took us awhile to find our rhythm.

I was a little discouraged at first because the books I had read about breastfeeding basically said that if it hurt you were doing it wrong or baby wasn’t latching properly. But honestly, I just think my body needed time to get used to this new uncharted territory. I was hopeful after talking to my mom about it and seeing a few posts on social media where other mamas said to just give it a few months.

For me quitting wasn’t an option. Yes it was a bit painful those first few weeks, but I knew that there was a light at the end of that tunnel. And sure enough, around the 3 month mark breastfeeding became a lot easier and more enjoyable for the both of us. And at that point I was so grateful that I had pushed through and stuck with it.

Long Days and Late Nights

I think the hardest part of breastfeeding for me has been being needed so much. For the first couple months, I felt like I lived on the couch in the living room nursing Ellis and holding him while he napped. I watched so much Netflix that I became sick of looking at the TV.

The late night feedings were especially lonely for me. Even with Brendan asleep in bed right beside me, there was nothing to keep me company besides silly puzzle games on my phone and the low hum of the radio in the background. I would try telling myself that I would miss these moments with my baby once he was grown, but that brought me little to no comfort. All I wanted was somebody there with me, somebody to talk to.

Those lonely nights broke me. I would hold Ellis close and sob from shear exhaustion. There were times when I really thought I couldn’t carry on feeling the way I did (this was because of postpartum depression and anxiety, not just breastfeeding. But that’s a story for another time). But in those weary times, God was there with me and I grew closer to Him than I had in years.

While those nights were extremely difficult for me physically and emotionally, we eventually found our rhythm. And then I learned to nurse Ellis while lying down (game changer) and we all got a little bit more sleep at night. Those first few months were challenging, but we made it and I absolutely love breastfeeding now.

Breastfeeding Today

Breastfeeding for us has changed quite a bit over the past several months. What started out as being a time to cuddle close and nourish Ellis with my milk, has turned into times of playful giggles and acrobatics while he nurses. Even though Ellis still nurses throughout the day and nurses to fall asleep just about every night, its nice to have shorter feedings and longer stretches of time between feedings.

Now that I have been nursing Ellis for 14 months, I can say that all of the time, effort, and tears have been a million times worth it. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything and I am so grateful that I have been able to nourish my baby this way.

However, I understand that breastfeeding is difficult for many women. Mamas, I want you to know that no matter what your journey looks like, you are not alone and you are no less of a mother for feeding your baby differently than I have done with my baby.

Support is one of the most helpful things we can give breastfeeding mamas! So if you have friends, family, or know of new mamas in your community that are starting out on their breastfeeding journey, reach out to them and offer them your love, support, and encouragement.

I will touch on breastfeeding tips, advice, and resources in another post soon. But for now I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite breastfeeding photos from the past year!