Wednesday, September 28, 2011

5 Months Old

So my little girl is 5 months now! Wow, almost half-a-year old! This past month has been quite a whirlwind now that I'm back in the routine of working, and on top of that, little Missy here has been growing like crazy! 

Aside from growing out of all of her clothes, she's been rolling over, cutting teeth, and starting to crawl...all of which you'll see later in this post.  When the photo shoot rolled around this month, Avery was ready.  As you can see in the photo below, I placed that sticker on her onesie, sat her in her chair and it then the smiles started coming out! 

"Welcome to my crib!"
As you can see from her stats, she's gained two pounds in the last month, but hasn't gotten any taller.  This puts her at about 95th percentile for weight and still above 100th percentile for her height.  Let's just say the girl still loves to eat.


Her 5 Month Stats 


Want to see her 95th percentile chunk? Check out these legs sticking out of the Bumbo seat! Love love love! ( :



Aside from lots of physical changes this past month, Avery has gotten very vocal in the last few weeks and as you can see from the photos below, and we got quite a talking to during the photo shoot.  Another favorite vocal thing to do....scream (in excitement usually)! Here are some of the vocal shout outs we got this time around...
"Oh ga ga ga ga ga!"

"Ahhh da da da da da da!"
As well as a few more highlights from the photo shoot:

Dad offering some photo shoot entertainment between
shots.
Is that five fingers she's holding up? Let's pretend it is- he he!

Teething: Now as I mentioned above, one of the changes we've seen this past month is that two little pearly whites have started poking up and through Avery's gums. I can't believe it! I was letting her chew on my knuckle one day and I felt something sharp and sure enough it was the beginnings of a tooth! A few days later I felt another little sharp bump, which was a second tooth, also on the bottom row.  Since Avery's my first, I was kind of clueless as to how this whole tooth thing would work.  Do they start tiny one day and then all the sudden you can see the whole tooth? Or do they just gradually start to come in? Well, it's been about 2-3 weeks since I felt the "razor beginnings" of the teeth and here is where they're at right now.
Look close for those two little bottom teeth!


For the most part, teething hasn't been too horribly bad (despite what the picture may look like! The only way I could get a pic of the teeth was when she was crying during a diaper change one day...sorry girl!).  There have been days where she seems a bit fussier than usual, but I think the amber teething necklaces that I blogged about here have been helping.  Granted it's hard for me to know because I don't have much to compare it to, but it sure doesn't hurt to wear them.  In some of my research about these necklaces, I read that the lighter colors of amber can sometimes be more helpful with the inflammation, so as an alternate, I bought a second amber teething necklace, which you can find here. I haven't really noticed a difference between the two mainly because her mood varies each day, so it's hard to know if it's the necklace is having an effect.  We'll see as more teeth continue to come in.

Sporting her lighter color amber teething necklace.

Crawling: One of the most exciting thing Avery's been doing this past month is starting to crawl...which I can't believe is already here!  Gone are the days where I can just leave her to just sit and stay in one place. Leave her for just a second and she'll be rolled over and try to move somewhere! It all began when she got really good at rolling over at the beginning of the month, and once she mastered this skill, she started lifting up her back and bottom, almost like she was planking-lol!

From here came backwards crawling. Look below for a play-by-play of a backwards crawling session that took place earlier this month.  Boy was she determined to go somewhere...even if it was in reverse!



"Are you ready?"

"Get set..."

"Go!"

"This crawling business is hard work!"

Following backwards crawling came forward crawling. I say "crawling" loosely because she isn't literally crawling, but she is propelling herself in a forward motion on a consistent basis...so we'll call it crawling for now.  Actually, since she's still building strength in her arms and back, her crawl looks more like she's doing "the worm"! Now after the past few months of encouraging her to get her head up, then her shoulders up while on her tummy, it's so cool to see her get her tummy and knees up off the ground. I wonder what that feels like for her? Talk about building some core muscles. 

Lifting everything off the ground.

Crawling is always more fun when Daddy is around.
A front view of the "pre-crawl plank".

Now to really see her forwards crawl in motion, we usually set up a book or toy a few feet a way from her and see if she can crawl towards it.  Here's the "worm/crawl" in motion...

After "plank pose" propel forward...
even if it means body slamming
into the floor!

Now try to get some balance and push up.

Repeat...fall forward.

Push up!

Keep going!




Don't forget to use "the sweeper arm" to check and see where
you are and if you're close to your target.

Yipee! You made it! Celebrate...and read!  Here she is looking
at a fun board book I made Brandon for Father's Day  from this website.
  Both he and Avery love it!

Also this month, we've enjoyed a little break in the weather and as a result, spent some more time outside soaking up some nature...as well as spending some quality time with our silly dogs.

Taking "tummy time" outside.


Saying "Hello" to Jackson.

Exploring the grass...and still being watched by Jackson!


Another funny thing she's been doing this month is gaining more control of her hands and arms, which has led to her using them to explore the world around her.  Sometimes this works out great because she can reach and learn about things like the grass above or the leaves on a tree in the pic below. 



Unfortunately her aim and strength aren't quite on the same page yet, so I often get whacked in the nose, poked in the eye, or my personal favorite...my hair pulled by my little wrestler. I jokingly call her"Avery the Avenger" and the "claw move" you see below is just one of her many wrestling moves...he he! 

Taking a "claw" to the face from "Avery the Avenger!"

Watching our silly dogs.

Now for some more fun pictures from the month....

I don't think someone is sleeping...

Bumbo Seat fun!

At her first cross country meet to cheer on Coach/Grandpa
Frank's team.

We had to break out this bear hat (from Etsy) for the
 cooler days we've been experiencing lately.

Working on her standing.

And now for one of my favorite and final pics of the month.  I've posted before, about how my mom tags along with Avery and I as we go to the grocery store each weekend and since they are "backseat buddies" she will sometimes have her stand up and lean on the backseat (obviously with support) to watch me while I load and unload the groceries in between stores.  Here she is this past weekend, rocking her Baby Banz sunglasses and just hanging out watching me unload the groceries.

"I love grocery shopping with my mom!"

Who knows what month 6 will have in store for us? Let the fun continue!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How I Go Green With My Pumping & Baby Bottle Routine

So in preparation to go back to work there were two things on my mind: 1- how I was going to stand being away from my baby girl for longer than 30 minutes and 2-figuring out the best bottle/pump/storage method for my breast milk.  And although number one sure was though, number two gave me quite a run for my money.  Up until then I had been exclusively breastfeeding Avery on demand...or in other words, she's hungry I feed her,  no bottles, no pumping, no nothing.  So about a month away from when Avery would be starting daycare I began my research as to find: a pump, a way to store breast milk, and a bottle that Avery would take.  Now you can probably tell from my blog that I love to research things, it's just something I've done for years and now that I'm into the green scene, I've taken my research to a whole new level.   But researching these things was different for me.  Looking into bottles, and pumping was just a reminder to me that soon I'd be away from Avery and I didn't really like that.  It was almost like it left a bad taste in my mouth.  It didn't help that the bottle market is seriously insane.  I can remember saying several profane words when I walked into that section of Babies R'Us one day. 

"Ha ha ha! This bottle thing is a joke, right?"

I put on a happy face in this picture with Avery, but inside I was screaming! There was seriously so much to choose from and to make maters worse it was nearly all PLASTIC! Cue the theme song to Jaws " du-du, du-du, du-du-du-du-du-du-DU-DU-DU!"  I'm a little plastic-phobic which you can see in this post, this post, or this post. And although most plastic on the market nowadays is BPA-free (which a great thing) I still didn't feel comfortable using it..what can I say, I'm a glass-girl! To make a long story short, I did some more  researching and was able to find what I think is a "green alternative" to the whole pumping, storage, and bottle routine and I'm excited to tell you about it. 

So here's what I use and then I'll show you how I make it all work...

First up is pumping! Great times I know. But seriously if you're a working mom and breastfeeding is a goal of yours, a high-quality electric pump is a must. When I was pregnant I got a manual pump, because I thought I would like the "natural-ness" of it...talk about greenness too! But, once Avery was born, I realized that I love to do lots of different things while breastfeeding like make calls, get some creative inspiration from Pinterest, and even blog. So to think about having to use both hands to pump while I'm at work did not sit well with me, and that's when I realized I needed a pump that was "hands free". I ended up going with this pump by Hygeia (thanks to this post by Julia), which is one of the greenest pumps around because after I'm done using it, I can return the mechanical portion of it to the company and they will reuse it with another mom or recycle it for you.. No worries, all the parts that touched or were even remotely near my milk stay with me. The pump's offical name is: Hygiea Enjoye LBI Rechargeable Battery Pump (I got the Deluxe Tote Set for $319).  Another benefit is that all parts that come in contact with the milk are BPA/DEHP free.  Sounds like it might be a good fit for you? Read more here.

Okay so that now you know which pump I use, let me break it down for you and explain the parts...because a few months ago I had no clue either! Here goes:

Here's the pump, flanges, and tubing.
Here's where you turn it on and you can control
the speed and strength as well as where the tubing connects to the pump.

The tubing connects here in the back and it is what controls
the suction...the milk does not go through these!

These are the flanges...you can probably figure out where
these bad boys go!


Now although this pump is not hands-free, I purchased an Organic PumpEase Nursing Bra ($42) that can make my pump hands free and it's been awesome. Here's a PG-rated view of it in action...

It hooks around in the front like a strapless bra...with
little slits in it.
The slits hold the flanges, then BAM!
Hands-free pumping fun!

After purchasing my pump, I wondered what was I going to do with all this milk I was pumping? Once again I was confronted with my arch nemesis....plastic! Plastic bags, plastic containers, plastic pots all for storing breast milk. Seriously, what's with all this plastic? Normally I wouldn't stress so much about something like this, but because it's my breast milk and it would be undergoing extreme temperature changes (being frozen, then thawed out, then warmed up) I was so not comfortable with plastic being in the equation. In to save the day once again was glass. This time I got creative with my storage and called on a good friend...glass mason jars. Anyone else have a slight obsession with these? I know I do! Inspired by some "breast milk storage pots" I'd seen at Babies R'Us I figured why not just use some little glass mason jars? They are about the same size, and could be used in exactly the same way? So I got some from the store...a whopping $7 for 12 jars and they have really been great! I also use large mason jars for my day-to-day breast milk storage, which you'll see later.

Little 8 oz. mason jars for storing and freezing breast milk.

My little mason jars in action...holding some frozen milk in
freezer.

Last on the research list was bottles and as you guessed it the only thing I felt comfortable with was glass.  I use glass for so many things because although it is a bit heavier and the risking of breakage is higher  than plastic, I feel like it's safer.  I can trust that no pesky chemical is going to come leaking out or I don't have to worry about the properties changing of the food inside of it if the temperature changes.  Plus, after months and even years of using it, it can still come out looking sparkly clean; not cloudy and scratched like plastic.

My favorite glass baby bottle.
Now if you look on the "green market" of bottles there are some pretty fancy, schmancy glass bottles out there, some of which cost $15-20 per bottle! Ouch. I love being green, but not that much! That's when I began to research again and I came upon some bottles that I always kept seeing on my bottle shopping expeditions, but I always brushed aside...Evenflo Classic Glass bottles.  These little bottles are simple enough, they don't have any fancy claims about mimicking the breast, or more preferred by new moms, but they are called "classic" for a reason, they've been around for 60 years! Also, I found some rocking reviews of them on Amazon.com that really encouraged me to give them a try.  Now although the company has come under fire recently in the blog world for a video they posted, I still enjoy using their affordable, simple, glass baby bottles (3 bottles for $7!). After trying these once, they worked for Avery and I loved being able to breathe easy and know that I could freeze them, warm them up, or just refrigerate them without having to worry about any chemicals leaking into the milk. 

Okay so now that you know the big players, let me tell you how I make it all work.  Sorry if this is TMI for you, but if you've read this far you must be cool with it-he he!

1.  Before I leave in the morning for work I always feed Avery one last time.  Then about an hour later after I've dropped her off at daycare, commuted to work, and got all my things put away, it's time for my first pump.

Let me welcome you to my pumping station, which is located in the bathroom in my classroom.  I feel so lucky to be able to have the convenience and privacy of this room, and although it's not all roses and butterflies...since it's a bathroom for preschoolers, I still love that I'm able to close the door and pump in privacy. 

My pumping station...in the kid
bathroom of my classroom!

Now since the door doesn't have a lock, I made this lovely little sign to hopefully give people a head's up as to what I'm doing in there. 
It reads: "STOP.  It's Avery Time! (aka...I'm pumping!)
Come back in a few minutes." Avery's quote reads: "Yep, that
milk is for me!"

2.  When it's time for this first pump, I bring in my laptop and set it all on a TV tray while I pump.  Now it's time to put on the hands-free bra, hook up the flanges, and connect it to the pump. Sometimes I'm in a rush to do this and I feel like the pit crew of a NASCAR race...how fast can I do it?
Time to check emails, pump, and get ready for the day!
The view from above during a pump.

3.  I usually set the timer on my watch so I know how long I'm pumping, and for the first pump I go for about 10 minutes.



4.  When I'm done, I pack up the pump and hands-free bra in the pumping bag that came with my pump and stow it away until I need it again.

The pumping bag.

Usually once a week I try to remember and charge up the pump, otherwise the battery will die in the middle of the pump, which has happened way too many times already!

My charging station behind the bathroom
door.

Here's the goods from my morning pump. Now it's time to transfer and store.




5.  Here I am transferring the pumped milk into my favorite thing...you guessed it a mason jar!

6.  Next I break out this handy dandy little drawstring bag my aunt sewed for me (not for this purpose, but I've found it works great!) and I put the flanges and bottles in it.


My drawstring storage bag.
Makes a great hiding place for pump parts.

I keep these parts in this bag so that everyone doesn't have to see my breast pump parts every time they open the fridge in my room.  Another note, I do not wash the flanges or bottles from the pumping after each pump.  I read that by refrigerating them, you don't have to worry about bacteria growth, which works out great because I do not have time to wash them after each pump. Instead I just wash them when I get home.
I don't see any pump parts, do you?

7.  Then it's time to teach! Fast forward 4 hours later and it's time to pump again, this time during my lunch break.  So off I go to my pumping station with my laptop and lunch. Let the multitasking begin!


Today's lunch...one of my favorites: "Cheese" Stuffed Bean Burgers" from one of my favorite bloggers, Mama Pea. These burgers rock! Alongside a baked sweet potato, some good ol' organic ketchup, and of course, a cloth napkin.

Lunch for today...yum!

8.  During this second pump at lunch, I pump for about 15-20 minutes.  It's kind of funny if you look close at the bottles because you can see one side pumped more than the other side, this is pretty typical for me.  But it doesn't really matter in the long run. It all goes to the same jar!

Milk from the lunch pumping session.

9.  Then I teach, teach, and teach some more.  If Avery was younger, I probably would pump one more time, but now that she's 4-5 months old these two pumps give me just the right amount of milk to get her through the next day.  When it's time to go home for the day, I pack up my milk and put it in the insulated bag that came with my pump that way it stays nice and cool on my drive home.

10.  Next, I drive home, pick up Avery and then head home.  I unpack all my food/dishes from the day and transfer the pumped milk from the day to the fridge

The milk has made it's way home.

11. Then it's time for my least favorite part of the day...cleaning up all the dishes, bottles, and pumping parts from the day.  But somebody's got to do it.  At least I get to put them to dry on my favorite "grass drying rack"...I love it! So green and cute.  It's official name is: Boon Inc. Grass Countertop Drying Rack in Spring Green and White ($15) which you can find here.

Least favorite part about pumping...cleaning the pump parts.

My fun, green drying rack.

12.  The next morning, I stick the jar of pumped milk from the day before in Avery's diaper bag along with one glass bottle that milk will be put in throughout the day.  So every day she gets milk from the day before (on Tuesday, she gets Monday's milk, on Wednesday, she gets Tuesday's milk, etc.), except for Monday...for this day she gets the milk I pumped Friday and kept in the fridge over the weekend.  If it's a 3-day weekend, I'll freeze the milk, otherwise it's fine in the fridge for the 2 days off.  
Can't forget to pack the milk in the diaper bag.

One glass bottle makes it's way to the diaper bag as well.

13. Then the routine repeats!

Curious how long pumped milk stays fresh? Here's the guide that taught me, and here's the cliff notes:
Room temperature: 3-6 hours
Refrigerated milk: 8 days
Just thawed refrigerator milk: 24 hours
Frozen milk: 3-6 months

One last thing about milk...how do you thaw it? This part baffled me for awhile.  I obviously knew never to microwave the breast milk, but I was confused as to how I (or Avery's sitters) would warm it up quickly and safely? I thought for sure I needed a bottle warmer, but after talking with others and experimenting, I learned that you so do not! Well, if you have a plastic bottle maybe you could try one, but here's an easy, green, and cheap way that I warm up Avery's bottle.
My easy, green "bottle warming method".
Just warm up a 1/2 cup of water in the microwave in a glass measuring cup.  Then place the milk (mine is usually always at fridge temp when it's being warmed up) in the warm water and allow it to warm to desired temperature, making sure it's not too hot or too cold.  One last thing, if I ever need to use some frozen breast milk, I thaw it out by placing it in the fridge the night before.  Usually it's thawed and ready to go the next day.

Wow...what a post. I think that wraps up everything about how I try to go green with my pumping, breast milk storage, and baby bottles.  I probably went on and on with lots of details, but when I was entering the vast world of bottles and pumps my head was literally spinning and I wanted nothing more than to find mama who was going through the same thing who I could learn from.  So I hope this helps someone out there.  Got any other pumping tricks or favorite green bottles? Post them below, we're all still learning in this...

Update: Now you know about my pumping and bottle routine for Avery when she was a baby...check out my latest post about how I continue to breastfeed and pump for her now as a toddler... "Nursing & Pumping for a Toddler"...

Nursing a 17-month-old= a whole new ball game! ( :
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