Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Great Wheel reactions

We went on Seattle's Great Wheel
when Nana & Papa visited this past week.



It's always interesting to see
how much each person likes it.

Some of these pictures courtesy my mama.


Happy boy …


… looking up at Papa.


Uncertain boy looking down as we go up.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

10 favorite products for starting to breastfeed

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about products that have helped you to breastfeed. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18-31!

I'm a big believer that to breastfeed a baby you need … a breast. Preferably two for your own comfort, but I'm not choosy.

I'm not here to tell you you need to buy a ton of essentials to survive or thrive, and you don't need to spend a bunch of money to manage what's actually a very frugal activity at heart. That said, there are some specific products that made a difference for me in making breastfeeding — particularly in the early weeks — more comfortable for both the baby and me, so I'll share those with you here.

Keep in mind that everyone will have different experiences and must-haves. If you have any medical concerns related to breastfeeding, please contact a certified lactation consultant for expert advice on what additional supplies and techniques might help your situation. I don't want to recommend specific troubleshooters for a general audience, since many are helpful only in certain circumstances. No recommendations in this post are intended as medical advice.

  • 1. Nursing bra

    10 favorite products for starting to breastfeed == Hobo Mama
    Elomi
    I speak from the perspective of the large-breasted here when I say that a supportive nursing bra is a wise investment. It's entirely possible that other shapes and sizes might be able to make do with a regular, particularly stretchy, bra or camisole (with shelf bra) that can be pulled down at will. For myself, underwire is a must, so I favor the comfort of something like an Anita nursing bra or an Elomi, which I got through a review with A Mother's Boutique — Judy there will do virtual bra fittings and recommendations for you, which is priceless. Let me assure you, nursing bras in my size are not sexy. They just … are not. But they keep my boobs contained and my back supported, they come in my bizarre combination of band and cup size, and it's easy to undo the cups fully to latch on a squirmy baby with no fabric springing back into the way — and then redo them while still holding said squirmy baby. (If you haven't breastfed before, the baby needs to take much more than just the nipple in the mouth — the recommendation I always hear is to aim for the entire areola, which might or might not be accurate for a given person, depending on areola size and shape. Anyway, a good nursing bra will let plenty of breast skin around the nipple be fabric-free, which is essential for a comfortable latch!)

  • 2. Nursing pads

    10 favorite products for starting to breastfeed == Hobo Mama
    Bamboobies
    In the first several months of breastfeeding, I would leak like a sieve when (a) it had been awhile since last breastfeeding, (b) there was any incentive for my breasts to have a milk letdown (e.g., crying baby, even if not mine), or (c) when one breast was being used to feed or pump and the other was free to just … drip. Or even squirt. I learned my lesson pretty quickly that big splotchy wet marks over my boobs were not the postpartum look I was going for. Nursing pads to the rescue! I find the reusable ones much more comfortable than the paper disposable kind, and they're obviously the more affordable and eco-friendly choice as well. I've had good experiences buying handmade ones from WAHMs off eBay or Etsy, and you can also make them yourself. Good materials are flannel on one side, microfleece on the other, or all wool. The contoured ones are nice for a smoother fit under clothing. I also really love the brand Bamboobies (no relationship, though that's an affiliate link to their product on Amazon), because they're super thin (no noticeable bulk under clothing), dry quickly, are machine washable, and are deceptively super absorbent (given how thin they are).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why it matters that we experience breastfeeding

breastfeedingcafecarnivalWelcome to The Breastfeeding Cafe Carnival!

This post was written as part of the Breastfeeding Cafe's Carnival. For more info on the Breastfeeding Cafe, go to breastfeedingcafe.wordpress.com. For more info on the Carnival or if you want to participate, contact Claire at clindstrom2 {at} gmail {dot} com. Today's post is about your breastfeeding (when you were a baby!) story. Please read the other blogs in today's carnival listed below and check back for more posts July 18-31!

Why it matters that we experience breastfeeding == Hobo MamaMy mother breastfed all three of us — two brothers and me — when we were babies. I obviously don't recall the experience of being breastfed myself or seeing it with my older brother, but I was nine when my younger brother was born and was fascinated by the act of breastfeeding, as discreet as my mom was about it. For awhile after my brother was born, I used to pretend to breastfeed my dolls — in secret, because I wasn't sure it wasn't just a little weird or dirty for me to do so at that age — in imitation.

My mom's also told me stories of breastfeeding my older brother and me. For instance, my older brother stopped within weeks, self-weaning as she maintains; with my current knowledge of breastfeeding behavior, I'd be more inclined to call it a nursing strike, but I see no reason to change her perception of the past at this distant point. She's described trying to nurse me in a bridesmaid's dress (in private) at an uncle's wedding, and missing out on a family party nursing me in a back bedroom, feeling isolated from all the fun.

From seeing her breastfeeding behavior with my little brother, I suspect she supplemented my older brother and me with bottles of formula the same way she did with him, and I know she weaned me by about nine months. But I feel really grateful and impressed that she breastfed us at all and for as long as she did.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Drifting along

I'm in Victoria, B.C., today with my parents,
so who's up for another round of cell-phone randomness?


Mikko made up a new game on the beach
called dragging driftwood into a big pile.


Someone needs more toys.
On top of him.


See that pirate dude in the corner? That's Mikko's contribution.


Alrik pointed at this pink Power Ranger and giggled.
"Nummies!"


I play Stuff on My Cat to keep from getting bored
when playing Power Rangers with Alrik.
All he ever has the Power Rangers say to me is, "Hi, Mama. I fightchu!"

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Super-deckers, jellies, & exploding nutcrackers

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

Who's up for another round of cell-phone randomness?


Posing with a passed-out Alrik like
Weekend of Bernie's




Rainbow looming! We made his cousin a fireworks bracelet for her birthday,
and then Mikko made up his own super intricate pattern.


Fun at the children's museum!




This is a dragon. Mikko made another for Alrik.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Traveling while pregnant: When to go & how to manage

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

Welcome to the July 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Vacation

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their family-travel tips, challenges, and delights. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.





Traveling while pregnant: When to go & how to manage == Hobo Mama
19 weeks at Buckingham Palace — 
don't let pregnancy keep you from traveling
like the royalty you so clearly are.
When you travel during pregnancy, there are some unique challenges. I've traveled by plane domestically and internationally during my first and second trimesters of previous pregnancies, went to London in May during my second trimester of this pregnancy, and will shortly be traveling by boat and car on two separate trips during my third trimester this summer, plus going on a camping trip. (Wait, I am? What was I thinking?)

Here's a breakdown of some of the downsides of travel in each trimester and why you might want to pick one over another if you have a choice of when to go. If you don't, I also have ideas for how to make travel more comfortable for you no matter when you leave town.

Obviously, trimesters are a rough guide, and your experiences at the start of a trimester versus the other end might be quite different. Plus, every pregnancy is individual, and people have different experiences and tolerances of common pregnancy discomforts. So I invite you to share your own stories and advice in the comments!

This post is not intended to serve as medical advice. You and your health care professionals know best about your particular pregnancy and whether travel is advisable for you at certain or any stages. Please check with someone knowledgeable about your condition if you're not sure what's best for you and your baby!

First trimester

The pluses of traveling in the first trimester is that you're not weighed down yet by much in the way of a belly. In fact, if you travel early enough, you might not realize you're pregnant at all! (That happened to my sister-in-law, who ended up at a theme park on a roller coaster before the positive test. Whoops! Don't worry, my twelve-year-old niece is totally fine — and still likes adventurous rides.)

Traveling while pregnant: When to go & how to manage == Hobo Mama
12 weeks during Alrik's pregnancy
& enjoying some outdoor time with the in-laws.
Plus, drinking lots of ginger ale & forgoing
my mother-in-law's amazing cooking (sob).
If you're not ready to tell people about the pregnancy, you'll be more able to keep it a delicious secret early on, particularly if it's a first pregnancy. On the other hand, you might have bloating and swelling right away that make all your clothes — both maternity and non — fit like total crap. I swear, with this pregnancy (for my third child), I started showing as soon as I peed on a stick. My abdominals were just like: "Phwoop." If you have more refined musculature, kudos to you! And on the other, other hand (you have three, too, right?), if you do want people to realize you're pregnant, it can be aggravating to think, "Oh, my gosh, I'm so huge and I feel so awful and everyone should know, already!" and have no one notice. Btdt.

But by far the biggest downside of travel during the first trimester is morning sickness. Or, as I think we all prefer to call it, all-day sickness. If you're anything like me, and part of the fun of travel is sampling local cuisines or enjoying home-cooked meals from talented loved ones, it's such a bummer to go on a trip when all you feel like eating is mashed potatoes, hold the gravy, thanks. Try some of these gentle, natural remedies: eating frequent snacks of protein (nuts are a popular and usually palatable go-to); choosing whatever caloric options you can stomach, as healthful as you can manage; sucking on hard candies such as peppermints; eating ginger or drinking ginger tea; and just plain waiting it out. If you have severe nausea and vomiting, you might (or you know you do) have hyperemesis gravidarum, which will need to be treated medically and will likely put any travel plans on the back burner.

Another element to consider, and this might just be because I'm gun-shy myself, is that the risk of miscarriage is highest early on in a pregnancy. It's not that travel would cause a miscarriage, but you want to consider if you're physically and emotionally prepared to handle such a potentially devastating outcome on the road. I started miscarrying my first pregnancy on our flight back from London at ten weeks, and it will forever color that trip for me. I guess I'm just glad we were able to enjoy London before it happened, since I was miserable and recovering physically for awhile afterward. I'm not trying to scare you — it's just another possibility to be aware of. (Want to hear something awesome? I started bleeding on my last day of our London trip this time around, too, eight years later. Déjà-oh-heck-no. I had my scheduled ultrasound just after I returned, the bleeding stopped by then, and all is well. But, seriously. Just…seriously. Don't do that to me, London.)

This part really belongs to any trimester, but remember when planning your vacay that there are certain things off-limits to pregnant folk. I actually did ok at Legoland UK hanging out with Alrik all day, because Alrik didn't want to go on any rides contraindicated for pregnant visitors, anyway, so we had a lovely time together while Sam and Mikko whooped it up on the park's roller coasters. But I did breathe a wistful sigh that I'd been to a theme park and hadn't been on anything at all adventurous. The same cautions go for water slides and other potentially dangerous high-impact activities. Now, every person gets to decide, with the help of any wise advisors, what precisely is too dangerous for her; I know of experienced horseback riders and rock climbers who continued on during pregnancy, for instance, but if you're a novice, probably now is not the time to begin. Scuba diving is not recommended, and hot tubs paste warnings, though I always pretty much ignore those (not saying you should…). There are even strict recommendations against risking listeria, such as not eating any food of questionable refrigeration or underheating, such as one might find at a family cookout. (I've always ignored that, too, but I live on the edge.) My point is, you might want to consider before planning a trip during pregnancy if you'll get to enjoy it the way you want to. Maybe now isn't the time for the weeklong once-in-a-lifetime Disney vacation that you'll be sitting on the sidelines for, or the Hawaiian adventure where you were going to bike a volcano but now feel too off-balance or weary to try.

Speaking of which, you might experience fatigue in your first trimester, so take it easy on your trip if you can. The other symptoms you might have in the first trimester are not deal-breakers for travel. Increased urination? You'd be peeing more at home, too. Insomnia? Yeah, that stinks. Tender breasts? Travel doesn't really do much more to them than staying home. Nasal congestion and runniness? Bring along some hankies. Bloody nose or gums? Adds excitement to your trip! Excess gas? (Was that just me?) Let someone else enjoy it for awhile. It's just too good to keep all to yourself.

For fatigue, try not to be too go-go-go with your itinerary, and allow for plenty of rest times and sleep. For that newly minuscule bladder of yours, keep on keeping hydrated, but insist on plenty of pit stops. Taking an aisle seat if you're on an airplane (or long-haul bus or train) can really help with getting to the lav, and taking along an empty bottle through security and filling it with water while you're waiting for your flight can help with the hydration.

For that in-between phase of being too big for your regular clothes and too small for maternity clothes, try some of these tips:
  • Unbutton the top button of too-tight jeans and pants and slip a rubber band around the button and through the buttonhole to allow extra room. Then, or instead, wear a belly band to keep your pants up and your modified waistband covered. A belly band can also help keep up maternity pants that are still roomy.
  • Take advantage of flowy, waistless, stretchy, and/or longer tops. Loose-fitting tunics can work well, as can anything with an Empire waist or an A-line shape.
  • Rock jersey knits. They stretch. Let the structured, fitted pieces take a break.
  • Enjoy maxi dresses and stretchy skirts. They were made for early pregnancy!
  • Try leggings (stretch! notice a trend here?) under a tunic or short dress instead of forcing your tender tummy into tight jeans.
  • If your belly or you are not yet in show-off mode, flowing tops and loose layers can help disguise the fact that your waist is slowly disappearing.
  • Beach vacation in the works? In the first trimester, your normal swimsuit might fit you just fine. If not, a tankini or bikini (assuming you like to work a bikini) might give your expanding stomach more play. Because swimsuit material is so stretchy, it's not silly to try on some maternity suits even if you don't yet have a sizable belly — you might find one that will fit you well all pregnancy long.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Happy 3rd & 7th!

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!


Hobo Mama == Happy 3rd & 7th!
In May, Alrik turned three years old, and two weeks later in June, Mikko turned seven.
We had fun celebrating our boys!

Hobo Mama == Happy 3rd & 7th! Hobo Mama == Happy 3rd & 7th!
Since we would be on our trip to London for Alrik's actual birthday,
we celebrated him early. He helped with his own cupcakes.

Hobo Mama == Happy 3rd & 7th!
Guess he was happy with how they turned out,
despite the extra eggshell!

Hobo Mama == Happy 3rd & 7th!
We gave him his gifts to start playing with
before we went on vacation.
These floating foam bath blocks were the biggest hit
— he spends every bath building towers and shapes!

Hobo Mama == Happy 3rd & 7th!
On his actual birthday, we headed to Hamleys Toy Store in London.

Hobo Mama == Happy 3rd & 7th!
Tasty!