BAM Family

BAM Family

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Happy 9 months, Silas!

Happy 9 months, Silas! You are growing up so fast!!
photo by S. Carter Studios
You are such a happy boy! You continue to be the light and joy of our family!

You have developed my leaps and bounds in the past 3 months. You got to go to the beach for the first time over Memorial day. On this trip, we saw that you getting ready to start crawling. I said, "He'll be crawling by the end of the summer!" HA! You were crawling by the end of the next week!! You have been on the move since the first week in June when you were 7 months old! 
Of course, you do get into some tight places with your exploring these days. I joked on Facebook that I need to tie a bell around your neck to  know where you are in the house. 
Right after you learned to crawl, you did THIS. Yep. You love to pull up all by yourself! Now you can let go for a few seconds and stand up. You can even cruise a little bit (1-2 steps) on the couch. Slow down, little man!
But I know. I know there is no slowing down for you, not when the two people you admire most in the world are running circles around you! You adore Micah and Benji. They make you laugh every day with tickles and fake burps (oy vey!). You think they are hilarious! Every time they come in the room you shriek with joy! 
They really love you (though Mommy still has to remind them to keep an eye out for you at times)
Besides visiting the bathroom, your favorite place to crawl is their bedroom. That place is like TOY HEAVEN! Your favorite toys to chew on are their little plastic pirates as well as blocks from their castle set. 
You love to put toys in your mouth. Daddy and I amazed with how big your mouth is! You discovered that you can travel with your toys if you stick them in your mouth when you want to crawl. 
Photo by S. Carter Studios
You don't have ANY teeth yet but you are a great eater. You love to try new foods. Your current favs are string cheese, broccoli, and quartered grapes. You eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the table with the family every day. You also love to drink water out of a bottle. You figured how to tip it up to drink all by yourself. 
You made a big sleeping transition in the past 3 months. You moved from the rock sleeper to your crib. It was a rocky start but once we moved the crib to Mommy and Daddy's room, you've done really well. You take two good naps during the day but at night you still wake up several times. As soon as the sun comes up, you are wide awake too! Mommy is tired but knows that night snuggles and nursing will be over all too soon. 
Photo by S. Carter Studios
You are such a big boy! You weigh 20 lbs! That's more than your brothers weighed when they turned TWO! 
You are also starting to communicate. When you are excited you shriek really loudly! You say "Ma-ma" and "Da-da" (though not always to the right people). You do consistently sign and SAY "all done!" when you are done eating. (more like "AH-DA!")  You are so smart! 
You also learned how to wave and you give an adorable dimpled smile whenever you do so. 

Photo by S. Carter Studios
You've grown so much since you were three months and six months! When I post about your growth next, you will be ONE! This year has flown by, sweet Silas. 
We adore you, little one. Keep growing, baby! We love getting to know you more every day. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Meng Menu


Sunday: Grilled chicken, smashed potatoes, corn on the cob
Monday: Sloppy joes, baked fries, green beans
Tuesday: Chicken bacon broccoli alfredo, salad
Wednesday: Grilled Tandori Chicken, Indian rice, broccoli
Thursday: Hot dogs, baked beans, fruit
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Baked fish, rice, green beans

Here's our menu this week. My sister Chelsea gave me a cookbook for Christmas from the cooking blog "Our Best Bites." I am trying out three recipes this week: Grilled Tandori Chicken, Indian Rice and the Baked fish. Always fun to try out new recipes!

And since my husband is big on the "ol' fav's" we are having Sloppy Joes and Hot dogs this week too (his most frequently requested meals. Easy to please, that man). 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

When I grow up...Living my childhood dreams

I have a distinct memory of my grandmother asking me, "What do you want to be when you grow up, Brittany?"

"A writer," I promptly stated, at 5 years old. "I love stories."

(My grandmother then told me that it is very hard to make a living as a writer so I should consider being an English teacher. Wise woman, that one, as I have yet to make any money from my writing).

As a little girl, I always had a story (or three) stirring up inside of me, pushing against my brain, making my fingers itch for a pencil (my writing utensil of choice). 
(Apparently my favorite word was "little" as I used it 14 times in this story)
I even wrote stories before I knew how to write. The picture above is from my very first story, "Bunny is Mine." I dictated the story to my mother and then illustrated my masterpiece. 

My mom utilized my love of writing in our homeschool and had me write short stories with  my spelling words every week.  The moment I saw those spelling words, my mind starting forming a story. Words were magical. I could make them do things, say things, create worlds. 
I wrote my first "book" when I was 11: Snow Children. I didn't have very nice handwriting so my older sister Amberley copied the story in her pretty penmanship for my parents. I gave them Snow Children for Christmas in 1995. 
I couldn't wait to start my next novel. I was extremely disciplined. I wrote every day for 4 months, spending hours crafting my historical-fiction-time-travel novel about four best friends. I called it True Friends. It was awesome. Here is page 105, complete with misspellings. I was (still am) a horrible speller. So much for those spelling word stories, huh? 
See the date in the picture? In 1997 I was 12 years old. 
I was determined to make my dreams come true. I needed to know more, do more. I found out about local writing workshops. I tucked my favorite purple notebook under my arm, put a pencil and Chapstick in my purse and rode my bike to workshop after workshop. 

Looking back, what I did was horribly embarrassing. The workshops weren't for kids. They were held over the lunch hour so budding writers could attend during their work day, but as a homeschool student I could attend during regular school hours. No one said anything to me but I got some funny looks. 
I didn't care. I was serious, completely dedicated. 
In high school I dabbled in writing radio drama as I was a huge fan of "Adventures in Odyssey" (a Christian radio drama series.) I wrote a melodrama called "What's Brewing in Percolator?" for me and my friends to perform. Yep. That happened. It was hilarious.... and horrible. 

I also taught acting classes at the local community theater and wrote a fairy tale spoof for my 5-6th grade students to perform. The picture above is from my first draft, complete with (more) misspelled words and scribbled editing. When the kids performed it, everyone laughed (like "Percolator" it was  hilarious and horrible as well). I was so proud. 
I have notebooks and binders filled with stories, plans for stories, character sketches. I would frequently lie awake at night with my latest story playing behind my closed eyes like a movie. There was way too much imagination going on to sleep. 
 I think my illustrations for "Bunny is Mine" were probably better than the ones in "Libby's Wish."
I participated in the "Written and Illustrated by" program as an early teen and wrote "Libby's Wish." The plot line of "Libby's Wish" was pretty lame but at the time, I was so proud! 

My creative writing slowed down in my later teen years. My dream of becoming a writer seemed kind of like all my stories: childish. I needed to be more practical. I threw myself into my school work, first my undergraduate and then my masters degree. I became an English teacher. 

In the middle of all that I got married and had three kids. 

But that little childhood dream kept tickling a tiny place in my heart. So I tried again. 
I started my blog. 
I wrote articles. 
I entered writing contests.
I wrote short stories for kids. 
I went to more writing workshops (this time I wasn't 30 years younger than everyone else) 
I studied how to write query letters. 
I sent out story after story, article after article to publishers. 
And my writing was rejected. 
Again. And again. And again. 

I would still lay awake at night, but now I would dream about the day I would get the letter or the phone call. The person on the other end would say "We are pleased to inform you..." and I would scream with joy! My joy would be so big that I wouldn't be able to hold it all inside. I would shout it to the world, "I AM A WRITER!"

That moment has yet to happen. 

I've been blogging for almost 6 years. I've had 3 or 4 articles and/or short stories published. I was intensely happy when I finally saw my work in print (or online) (you can read about these amazing experiences here, here, and here) but there was no screaming-into-the-phone or sudden epiphany that I had suddenly "arrived." 

I realized that, as cliche as it sounds, becoming a writer, for me, has been a journey not a destination. It was about writing lots (and lots and lots) of crappy stories, articles, and blog posts. It's been about reading, reading, reading, and more reading. And becoming a writer, for me, has been about time and growing up. 

I recently finished writing a play that I started 8 months + 7 years ago. I actually started writing the play in college and never finished it. Last August I got an email from a guy at Liberty. He said that he was a part of a radio drama group and found my old version of my play in a file from one of my old professors and asked if I would be interested in finishing it. I said, yes! 

Then I looked at the old play and was like "Uh…this is horrible." So, I started from scratch. 

Writing this play was a huge accomplishment for me as it brought me back to a place of intense dedication to creative writing that I hadn't experienced since I was a little girl. If all goes well, hopefully, sometime in the next year, my play will be produced on the radio! 

I wanted to be a writer as a little girl because I loved stories and more importantly, I had stories inside of me. I had tiny voice inside that wanted to be a big voice, a voice that would speak to others in beauty and humortruth and love. And now that I am almost 30 years old, my voice is just starting to speak to others. It's quiet; it's small. But it's there. 
My two act play I finished in June
I still have yet to make one dollar as a writer--my grandmother gave me good advice when I was five years old. But as all writers know, what we really want, more than money, fame, recognition, is readers. And in my writing journey I've gathered a few readers along the way, just a handful. But they're enough to keep me going. 

Because do you know what I want to be when I grow up? 

A writer. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review of Four Nursing Bras

When I breastfed my twins over 5 years ago, I suffered through bad nursing bras. I just couldn't get a good fit and the bras were either uncomfortable and/or gave me no support and/or delivered the dreaded "uniboob." Despite nursing them for 17 months, I was never able to find a bra that I really liked in stores or online.

When I was pregnant with my youngest son (currently 8.5 months), I was determined to get nursing bras that I really liked.

This task has been harder than I thought it would be.

My hometown is woefully deficient in the nursing bra department, at least in the size, support, shape, and style I wanted.

Size: I needed a small band size but large cup size (apparently 34 DD is a "rare" size in nursing bras? Really?)
Support: great support without underwire
Shape: Padded cups are a must for me. And I'd also like to have two boobs, not one
Style: Pretty would be nice. I am a woman, not just a milk-machine.

I went from store to store in town trying on dozens of bras. Nothing worked.

So I went online. Bravado bras from bravadodesigns.com has great quality bras in several styles. I have tried 4 of them and here are my thoughts about the Body Silk, Bliss, Allure Underwire, and Essential Embrace nursing bras.

(disclaimer: I have not been paid by bravado for these reviews. I just hope this info will help another mama out. All images are from bravadodesigns.com)

Note: All Bravado bras have easy to use clips that can be opened with one hand. All of the cups fall away from the breast for skin-to-skin contact too. All of the bras come in several colors (white, nude, and black). Each bra reviewed is around $50 (kind of expensive but the price matches the quality).

Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra
This is the first bra I tried from Bravado. It comes in LOTS of colors but I bought the nude (in fact, I bought the nude color for all my bras as it is the most convent for my wardrobe). I bought this bra when I was about 3-4 months into nursing and my milk supply was still regulating.

Pros: This bra is SO comfortable. It doesn't have padded cups but it does have a pockets in each cup for removable foam pads (or breast pads) that help give a nice shape and modesty coverage. Wearing this bra feels like you aren't wearing a bra at all. 

Cons: While the model looks awesome in this bra, I must admit that the bra did not give me much in the "lift and separate" department. Yep...uniboob. Sigh. Also, it is not a sexy bra. At all. However, it is SO comfortable that it makes up for the lack of sexy. And lift. And separate. Almost. I bought a large (this one comes in S, M, L, etc) but I think I would buy a medium if I were to buy again. 

Recommend? YES! Especially for those early months of breastfeeding. Great around the house bra, sleep bra, and, if you really don't care (I didn't!), around town bra. 

Bravado Bliss Nursing Bra
Well, my vanity was getting a little tired of saggy uniboob so I decided to branch out of the oh-so-comfortable Body Silk and try another type of bra: The Bliss. 

Pros: It has padded cups and no underwire. Plus it looked pretty in the picture. 

Cons: When it came in the mail, I did not like it at all. It looked like a 90 year old grandma bra. Plus it gave me cone boobs. UG! I don't know what is worse: uniboob or cone boobs. I read some reviews online that said that the cone boob look goes away after a few washings but after trying the bra on, it seemed to squish rather than lift and separate. Overall, it was a weird fit for me. 

Recommend? I sent this bra back. It may be a good fit for other women but I just couldn't get over the squished yet cone boob look. 

The Allure Underwire Nursing Bra 
 After I sent the Bliss back I fell into nursing bra despair. I felt like finding a nursing bra with my 4S criteria (see above) was impossible! After a few weeks of looking around town again (no luck), I ordered the Allure Underwire bra. 

Pros: This bra should play two songs when tried on: "I Feel Like A Woman" and "I Feel Pretty." Seriously, this bra looks amazing! Lift! Separate! Beautiful lace (that's not scratchy!)! Probably the best assessment came from my husband: "Wow! That does NOT look like a nursing bra." 
(Thanks, honey. I think). 
But this bra does look great and made me feel great too. Major confidence booster (in every way possible)!

Cons: While the underwire does offer amazing lift and shape, it is not 100% whisper-dream comfortable. When I got it I had not worn underwire for over a year (since my pregnancy) and it took a bit of getting used to. While I am more used to it now, I still "think" about the bra while I have it on. However, I kept it because it looks so darn good and I am vain. :)
Recommend? Yes, I would recommend it especially for women who are going back to work (as I will be when the school year starts) but with the note that it isn't 100% comfortable. However, for me, the looks make up for the lack of comfort. (yes...vanity...).

UPDATE (OCT 2013): After wearing this bra for a few months, I now love it. It has molded to my body and is really comfortable. I just had to get used to underwire again. I actually ordered another one so now I have two in this style.

A note about underwire: I waited until my breast feeding was fulling established before buying an underwire bra. Wearing underwire during the first few months of breastfeeding can cause blocked milk ducts and all kinds of uncomfortableness. 

The Essential Embrace Nursing Bra

So, while I liked the Allure, I still prefer non-underwire bras. Bravado just came out with the Essential Embrace so I decided to get it a try! It promised amazing support without underwire and great shape too (plus all the other nursing essentials all Bravado bras have. See Note). So I ordered it and I like it!

Pros: It does have great support without underwire (amazing!). If the Allure Underwire is a 10 in support (no sagging at all!), I would say that the Embrace would be an 8 (the Body Silk would be a 5 or 6). Not bad for a non-underwire bra! The cups are smooth and very soft too. 

Cons: I didn't realize this bra was didn't have padded cups until I got it. Bummer. I personally like/need padded cups for modesty-sake. But, I worked it out. Around the house it is great without cups and still gives a nice shape. Out of the house, I just tuck in the padded cups that I got with the Body Silk bra. Perfect coverage. 

Recommend? Yes, definitely. Overall, I really like the Embrace for comfort, shape, and support. It isn't  "sexy" per se, but it does look nice. If it had lightly padded cups, it would probably be perfect. 

So,  I have three nursing bras that I like. Right now I am switching between the Allure Underwire and the Embrace most days. While none of the bras have all of my 4S essentials, I am a definitely more happy with my nursing bras this time around that when I nursed five years ago. My recommendation to other nursing (or pregnant) moms would be to try lots of nursing bras and don't just settle for a bra that "kind of" works during this special time in your life. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Meng Menu


Sunday: Spaghetti w/ sausage, salad
Monday: Grilled cod with lemon and green onions, roasted red potatoes, green beans
Tuesday:  Hellman’s chicken, parmesan rice, broccoli
Wednesday: Cookout at the park: Chicken, baked beans, chips
Thursday: BBQ country ribs, baked beans, jello salad, banana pudding
Friday: Out to eat
Saturday: Sliders, baked fries, carrots and broccoli 

Our menu this week! I love summer food--looking forward to some great grilling this week. I'm learning my way around the grill..definitely not an expert yet though. ;) 

I was pretty happy with my grocery bill this week too. We have been averaging $150 a week (groceries + household items + personal care items) but this week I was $101! Helps that I didn't have to buy any toilet paper, shampoo, etc. etc. 

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