Stardust

Writings from my little corner of modern domesticity.

Kon-Whatnow?

I know I’m about a year late to the party on this one, but in my Pinterest adventures, I recently stumbled upon the KonMari method of tidying up, and Oh. My. Gosh.

It’s a self-titled method by Marie Kondo, a Japanese decluttering expert (I think we call them professional organizers here, for the most part), and is detailed in her book- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Image credit: Leland Ave Studios

Image credit: Leland Ave Studios

After reading about people’s experiences and the gist of the method across the internet, I was inspired. And I don’t just mean the sort of inspired that causes a person to speed-clean the kitchen and re-sort a bookshelf or two; I mean the lightning strikes sort of inspired. What I’d read and what I’d seen just clicked with me on a deep level, like it’s what I’ve always believed and felt about cleaning and organizing and I just needed someone to point it out to me. I ordered the book for my birthday present and have been devouring the contents since it arrived Friday. The basic breakdown- discard everything, and decide what to keep by whether it brings you joy -is remarkably simple, but utterly unique in the organizing world.

Marie doesn’t want you to sort your stuff and hide its overabundance behind fancy storage systems and organizational gizmos- she wants you to, one object at a time, thoroughly examine your possessions and find what truly adds to your life and be rid of the rest of it. She prescribes an order to working through each and every thing a person owns and, after you have decided what you truly want in your life, methods for storing it.

There are two major things that this book and method have confirmed for me:

  1. We have enough space; just too much stuff.
  2. Most of our stuff is just weighing us down.

She says in her books that her clients she has worked through the KonMari method usually end up with a quarter to a third of the possessions they had at the beginning, and not one has ever regressed into their previously cluttered state afterwards. This sounds incredible, but it makes sense- especially, as she also points out, few people actually realize the scope of what they own. Part of her method is proceeding by category rather than space- all the clothes at once, followed by all the books -and taking everything in the category from every place it is found into one space for decision-making. This shows you how many of something you actually own, bringing the excess to your attention.

The part that I find truly unique (as I mentioned above) is the idea that, when you gather everything up, it is to discard all of it. Your base assumption is that you are throwing (or donating, or selling, if you will realistically take the time and effort to do so in a timely manner) away everything. Yes, everything. Your sorting through is not to decide what to toss, as is the usual prescription (as in, toss anything you haven’t worn/used in a year, anything that’s a duplicate, etc), but on what to keep. It seems trivial, but in changing the mindset of de-cluttering, it really changes the process and the outcome. Joy is your measuring stick- not “Oh, but I only wore it once” or “_____ gave this to me, I can’t get rid of it!” guilt or nostalgia, but true and honest enjoyment of the item in question.

I am excited to get started- I’ve already been doing some preliminary discarding and re-sorting (on clothes, where I am between my “regular” wardrobe and my maternity wear), and some of the areas in my 40 Days of Cleaning project, but I am raring to go on giving our things the full KonMari treatment! I really think this is something that is going to work for us, and that feels great!

Do you know how I know it’s going to work? Because I am excited about the books step. Yes- this dedicated, book-hoarding bibliophile is excited to get rid of books. You read that right. There’s zero trepidation involved here; only drive and excitement, and already I want to buy my hoarding family members copies of her book!

Wish me luck- I’m more than likely going to start in on it tomorrow!

Getting it Together

I’ve been mulling over the idea of a weekly cleaning schedule for a bit (thanks, Pinterest- you’re a bad influence :p ) and in a test run, I think this is what will work out best for us (me) right now.

Monday: vacuum and sweep
Tuesday: laundry
Wednesday: kitchen
Thursday: downstairs
Friday: upstairs
Saturday: laundry
Sunday: bathrooms

All of these will still get spot-checks, of course- like cleaning up after dinner in the kitchen and general toy/book pickup throughout the week, but the idea of giving a space a specific day is that it gives me focus to really get on that area- making sure my ducks are in a row, so to speak, and helping me avoid the ADD that plagues my cleaning. Well, not so much my ADD as the motherhood-induced ADD; you know, the start something –> toddler needs you –>somebody calls –> toddler fell and needs a hug –> it’s naptime already –> wait, I should eat something –> …what was I doing?. Yeah…that’s how I go up to bed at night, only to find that all the stuff I’d put on the bed in the midst of cleaning/reorganizing something is still on the bed- and then it ends up in its own pile that then makes something else that needs attention. Urgh.

Anyway…so this is what I was thinking with that list…
Laundry is pretty much already on Tuesday and Saturday, except for diaper laundry, which falls in wherever it’s needed, though I could probably schedule that, too.
I like the idea of vacuuming/sweeping on Monday to start the week off on a clean slate- since these activities include picking up the floors.
Sundays Ryan is home and I can get his help on the bathrooms (especially since my baby belly gets in the way of me doing the shower/tub these days, and the toilets are his job).
The rest are honestly kind of random picks- just an area to a day, keeping things in order and my focus from drifting.

Today, however, downstairs is sharing its spotlight with packing up and doing a quick tidy everywhere (except the kitchen, which I did yesterday. On schedule- heck yeah!), because at bedtime tonight, we will be on our way to Georgia for the wedding of the best man at ours. I love adventures- especially ones where I’m not driving!

Quality over Quantity in the Closet

Part of wanting to do with fewer clothes is making the ones you keep last. And, I have to admit- I’m not all that good at it. Sure, I can physically hold on to a shirt for a decade, but that doesn’t mean it’s still in good shape…

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What Day is it?

I’ll be honest- I’ve lost track of my 40 Days of Cleaning project…these first couple weeks back to school have been a little disorienting for us. Trying to establish a routine with a cranky toddler that misses her daddy is no joke.

It wouldn’t be hard to regather and take stock; it’s just counting, after all. But right now all I know is I’m behind by at least 2 days, so today (and probably the next few, too), I’ve got to try and knock out one bigger task and one 5-minute wonder. The pick so far is trash cans and the front closet…but I’m realizing as I type that the front closet is actually going to require the husband’s cooperation. He’s got coats up the wazoo, and I know he only wears like two of them. Admittedly, in this particular realm, I’m just as guilty- but my extras have been boxed up for more than a year now, so I have full confidence that I can and will live without them. So maybe that particular task will have to wait for the weekend.

The weekend, actually, is part of what’s put me behind. I’ve been too quick to say “yes” to running around town Saturday instead of staying home and taking advantage of an extra pair of hands with Moonbaby to get things accomplished. But not this week- this Saturday is mine!

But anyway…back to work! Have the trashcans done already- though this particular item on the list I’m going to dub “Least Likely to be Noticed,” since I’m probably the only one that was even slightly bothered by the spots and stickiness gathering on the kitchen trash can. That’s alright- it’s shiny and non-smelly now, so I’m happy, and I can cross it off the list!

Day 7/40: Ahead of the game!

Day 7 of my 40 Days of Cleaning and I’ve got 7 things done- and I haven’t even done one today yet. Maybe I put too many little things on there after all…we’ll see.

I’ll admit to a little cheating upstairs, though. See, I had the dresser, bookshelf, and dressing table (also known as the “crap collector” for that room) as separate items, but as I started working on the table, I realized that the three of them are really sort of part of the same system. To really clean one up, I had to at least putter around the other two. So I focused in on the dressing table and bookshelf and spread the work over the last two days. I’m pretty pleased with the result, there. I didn’t take any “before” photos because it was seriously just a mess and I was rather embarrassed about some of the stuff sitting around.
But here’s my afters:

20150907_141357 20150907_141253I know there’s a pile of clothes still hanging out on the lower shelf of the bookshelf- it’s temporary. Those are all my fall/winter maternity tops waiting for their chance in the closet. Once they move, I’ll have open space on that shelf that I’m sure I’ll relocate something to somewhere in the next 33 days. This particular bookshelf really just needed a dusting and tidying- I think I only relocated one item off of it, and that was to stash a pile of mostly sentimental papers (cards and the like) in my nightstand.

The dressing table, however, is really rather a fabulous transformation. That red/wicker basket you see on the bookshelf there used to occupy the space of the photo frame (which will be filled shortly), and it was just a crap magnet. It’s still kind of a miscellaneous bin; but it’s in a closed area and more manageable now- plus, 95% of the stuff in it is the husband’s, so…I kind of can’t purge it myself in good conscience. Between the existing bin of miscellany and the position right by the door, this table caught whatever sundry items needed depositing when we came upstairs, and it was driving me crazy. I’d much rather have the space clear, with minimal occupied surface area.
The thought behind keeping the table as clear as possible (the drawer’s even empty- the contents found a new, tidier, and more toddler-proof home in a bin on the dresser) is that it will give me a surface on which to work on sewing projects when I get the chance. I’ll still have to either keep Moonbaby clear or clean up after each session, but at least now I have a place to set up without hauling the machine downstairs and trying to find space on the dining room table. I’d like to find a small stool, or maybe a folding chair, for me to use there and tuck into the corner when it’s not needed.

I also went after the closet tubs on a previous day, and honestly, it was less satisfying than I’d hoped. I was really hoping to ditch a tub or two, but no such luck. If I could find a better storage solution for my few other purses (seriously, like 3- and I don’t change purses often enough to justify having them more easily accessible), I could definitely get rid of one. This is what the tub zone of our closet looks like- there’s only one photo because it didn’t change any (%*$@#!):

20150905_131956

It’s not necessarily a LOT of the closet- it just looks cluttered to me. Maybe if they all matched, I’d feel better about it. The top green one holds seasonal decorative items (Christmas, mostly) and some general decorative bits I don’t have anywhere safe to put right now but can’t bear to part with, like my collection of boxes, which I would LOVE to put on display. The red one underneath is blankets- extras for our bed or guests. One blue tote is extra purses (and formerly neckties, which I once needed for work but then ditched), and the other is stuffed animals of mine that I’m holding for the kids. To the far right you can somewhat see my crafting tote- all my little bits like beads and wire, ribbon, a few paints, some patterns, and my interchangeable needle sets. The back left corner has a couple boxes of household stuff we don’t need right now because it’s duplicates of what our roommate has.
I went through each of the tubs (but not the corner boxes) and ditched what I could from each and re-packed them in the hope I might be able to downsize something, but no dice. Ah well- you win some, you lose some. At least I did manage to part with some things from the green bin that, really, I wasn’t all that attached to anymore. So that’s a plus, right?

I am going to have to make a Goodwill run in the next few days- my “get out” stack is getting a bit out of hand now!

September Already?

An adorable little peachy Coreopsis. I'd never seen an orange one before. I know, I know- it’s 6 days in and I’m just catching on. It just hit me this morning that it’s September- as in, the first month of fall, the beginning of an undeniably scholastic time of year.

As long as I can remember, fall has felt very academic to me, even when I haven’t been headed to school myself. It’s a season that demands a slowing down to not only enjoy the changing colors and the cooling weather (and I can’t get enough of the smell of fall, personally), but to find new lessons.

Since I’ve been out of school, this has taken its form in the urge to learn something new or to deepen and expand my knowledge of something already familiar. I mean, that’s basically what you’re doing in a formal education anyway, but outside of a structured  educational system, it means I’m free to choose whatever I please- provided I have the means.

This time, I’m not really sure where I want to go. It would be a fantastic time to work on my photography; get more familiar with my camera. Or do more baking- maybe actually nail down a habit of bread-making and stop buying loaves at the store. Maybe take the opportunity of having pitched all (yes, ALL!) my previous stash of makeup and learn to apply it more skillfully. Or perhaps it’s really time to get friendly with my sewing machine- I do have the fantastic excuse of an incoming baby to sew tiny things for, and tiny things don’t need much material or time, right? So many good options.

Of course, whatever I choose is going to have to also fit around my in-progress 40 Days of Cleaning. I’m making progress and keeping up, but I don’t want to slow down or pause it for my new activity. So nothing I’d need to exclusively use naptime for.

Day 2/40: Checking In

Day 2 of my 40 Days of Cleaning adventure and we’re on track (and will even be a little ahead, but I’ll get to that). I knocked out the bathroom cabinets yesterday, and did the tea cupboard today, tossing more than I’d thought out of each and completely neglecting to take pictures of anything. Ah well…I’ll do better.

Just like I’m trying to do better about getting back to my original goal of 3 posts per week to this thing. I miss writing, and I notice a great difference in my overall mood, patience, and drive when I make time for it.

Since I noticed some of the things I tossed in these two days were kit essentials, so to speak, I’ve been making a shopping list as I go along. While some items I’d rather replace ASAP, like the children’s ibuprofen and Tums (which my pregnant bum has sorely missed since we ran out- swear to you, with all the heartburn, I’m having a Wookie!), some of it I know can wait and I’ve started watching ads and seeking coupons to make my replacements as inexpensive as possible.

One such place is my makeup stash, which will be meeting its doom as soon as I finish this post. (This is the part that puts me technically slightly ahead, as it’s part of the dresser cleanup!) Now, some of you reading this are probably saying “Makeup? She owns makeup?” Yes, yes I do- I just don’t use it often. Once in a while if I just want the fun of some eyeshadow and mascara, or if we’re going out, like to that wedding last August and the one we’re headed to Georgia for this October. It’s actually rather extensive in the eye and lip departments, mostly due to the fact that I was a mark. representative, which is like a junior branch of Avon.
The obvious side effect of not using much very often is that, well, most of it really needs to go. While I did have the sense to have a good collection of neutral, suitable for every-day wear colors, I think the last time I bought a lipstick or gloss was probably 2011. Well past the advised expiration date of about a year. Shoot, the newest piece of the stash is my mascara, and that I’m pretty sure I bought in 2014, but I’m not entirely sure.
Now, I’m not prepared to completely ditch having a stash- like I said, I do occasionally find use for it -but I definitely don’t need to replace the entire thing. That would be ridiculous, both in terms of cash output and storage. But I’ll want new foundation, maybe 2-3 eyeshadows, mascara, and a lipcolor or two. Maybe some pressed powder and concealer, but I really shouldn’t own more than 10 pieces, seeing how little I use anything. The options for all of that have seriously expanded even just in the 4 years since I bought lipstick, so I’m going to have to do some research and read some reviews before I commit to anything, especially since I’m looking at more of a drugstore price range than department store. I don’t want anything to cost me more than $10- especially if it’s a tiny container! I need bang for the buck here, as with everything else. Makeup can be very much like toilet paper- the cheap stuff just costs you more in the long run and you can totally tell the difference when you use it.

Anyway…enough chatter- off to do some cleaning and purging (and photo-taking!) before naptime gets away from me!

40 Days of Cleaning

I’ve been having the nesting urge lately, and since we don’t really need to acquire hardly anything for this baby, it’s expressing itself in a need to reorganize and take inventory. In my Pinterest wanderings, I came across a couple blogs along the lines of “40 Bags in 40 Days,” about making a list of 40 places in your nest that need some attention. The original post’s intent was to get rid of 40 bags of stuff, one from each area, but that’s not necessarily where this is headed. The posts inspired me to make my own list of places that need cleaning and/or reorganizing, and I’m pretty pleased with the result: 20150902_101438

It’s a decent list (though a terrible photo taken with my phone- I got lazy and didn’t want to type it), I think. I broke down some tasks into multiple points so that I’d have some things that clocked in at half an hour or less of work, since some of them will be larger projects (the closets and clothes, for example). The first 20-ish things were easy, I struggled getting to 30, and had to reach deep for the last three on the list.

I like the idea of this “X Days to Clean” list, because it’s not necessarily a chronological list- you just pick one thing every day to tackle, and if you want and have time, you can do another. Granted, some things on my list should be done in a certain order- I should do my clothes purge before reorganizing the dresser and closet, for example -but overall, I can take on what feels like a good fit for how I’m feeling that day and what sort of time I know I can squeeze out.

I haven’t decided what I’m doing today yet. Probably one of the quick n’ easy ones like the bathroom cabinets (they’re so small there’s not much chance to get over-stuffed or disorganized), since we have rather a lot going on this afternoon/evening. After that, though, I’m going to do my best to knock out the larger projects while Ryan is still off school. Just makes it more efficient and focused if I’m not also wrangling a toddler while trying to sort out a closet, you know?

And at the end of it, I hope to have several nice bags of things to go down to St. Vincent’s. Which, I suppose will be item #41: GET IT OUT! Some drop-offs will occur as I go, as collection zones for things supposed to leave the house are part of the problem- I have a big blue tub of clothes I don’t want in the trunk of the car that will go as part of the Pontiac item on the list, but in the name of saving gas and time, I’d rather make a couple larger drops than a grocery bag here and a stack of books there.

By the end of this list, if I keep to it, we’ll be at about 90 days to baby #2, so I’ll have time to get in another round if I’d like (or feel the need) to further indulge the nesting instinct!

Lemons…Lemons Everywhere!

Everyone’s heard it: “When life gives you lemons…” (and all its cheeky cousins). We seem to be in a lemon-flavored week here at the Starski house- two cars into the shop within a day of each other, one we’re still waiting to hear back on and one that was in such bad shape that the repair guy called back and told us he couldn’t, in good conscience, fix it, because the car was just not worth the sorts of repairs it needed.

Upside to that is that we’ve found a repair shop we know we can trust (thanks to the recommendation of Ryan’s Grand Knight on that one!). And, well, we rather disliked that vehicle anyway. Definite downside? We’re car-shopping again, less than a year since acquiring the other car that’s also in the shop, and we’re doing so without easy transportation.

But, as my aunt said, it is good timing in many ways. The weather is still warm, I’m only 21 weeks pregnant, and Ryan is still off school and work for the summer. We don’t live in the middle of nowhere- it is approximately a 20-minute walk to our nearest strip of stores, including Meijer, and while our particular bus stop may be inconvenient, we do still have an expansive bus system to use. Which is, thanks to his student status, free for Ryan to ride. It is much better that this happen now rather than, say, a month or two into the future, when the weather has turned cold and I’m much further along (and much larger), or even further into the winter when I may be in labor at any moment. Sure, we had to cancel a couple appointments, a family visit, and a long-awaited reunion with friends for me, and those things are all disappointing, but very much like this baby’s due date falling during the winter break for Western, it is well-timed, all things considered.

If nothing else, it gives us more motivation and fewer excuses against cleaning this place up. We still have boxes hanging out from when we moved in…last September…hrm…

From Day One: a Nursing Story

In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, I wanted to tell you a story.

This is the story of my own breastfeeding journey. If you are opposed to things such as nursing in public, nursing until two years old, or pumping at work, you may wish to turn around now.

It’s no amazing saga- really, we had it much easier than many mothers. I know women who nursed preemies, twins, even one mother of triplets (if you ever want to see a real juggling act…), and in my book, they are heroes for even giving it a go. But even when nursing goes well for mother and child, it isn’t ever something I’d call easy on the whole.

Our journey started while I was still pregnant with Moonbaby, I was doing the first-time-mom thing, reading and watching everything I could to learn about being pregnant, giving birth, and taking care of babies. Very early on I came across the breastmilk vs. formula world of feeding, and the more I learned, the more I knew I wanted to breastfeed our babies. Even though my PCOS may betray me with low supply, I wanted to try. The benefits are touted all over the internet, so I won’t go over them all again, but there were a few in particular that stood out to me:

  • Healthier babies. They get sick less often because the mother’s antibodies are passed along in her milk.
  • Quicker feedings. There’s no bottle to prep or formula to measure and mix.
  • Convenience and cost. Boobs are free and available wherever the mother is. There’s no running to the store at midnight because baby’s crying and you realize, in your new-parent coma, you forgot the formula was running low.

And one that was very, very important for me, with who I am as a person: forced downtime. Though I did eventually learn to nurse while wearing her in our Moby, I wasn’t any good at it for about 6 weeks or so, which meant if she needed to nurse, I had to sit my butt down and feed that baby. If we had formula fed, I know I would’ve handed the bottle and baby off to my husband and gone to clean something- not nap or shower, I would’ve gone off to reorganize a cupboard or fold laundry or some other task that, surely, could wait while I was still recovering from birth. But I’m getting ahead of myself now.

The months rolled along, and with them, I gathered information and resolve. I knew when she arrived, we would be ready- my husband was reading and learning right along with me, and he was 100% behind our breastfeeding every step of the way.
After what I’d consider a long, but easy labor, our little girl arrived, and was nursing within minutes. She had a great latch, though I was awkward at holding her, even with the assistance of the nursing pillow I’d brought along. She fit perfectly along my forearm, her tiny little butt just reaching my hand as I cradled her. The in-house IBCLC (certified lactation consultant) came to check in on us, and delivered some much-appreciated lanolin cream samples. She nursed about every hour, sometimes hour and a half, in the hospital, which they had me tracking on a little worksheet so we knew she was eating often enough and wetting enough diapers. And she refused to sleep longer than 5 minutes anywhere but my arms, which terrified me after all I’d read about the dangers of sleeping with your baby, but the nurses never said anything, which helped to reassure me.

When we went home, she continued to nurse frequently, all through the night and day, sometimes stretching to two hours, sometimes wanting to nurse again after only 30 minutes. And I’ll be honest- it hurt. My breasts just weren’t used to it, and were tender from all the hormone fluctuations that go with giving birth and bonding. But oh, man- those lanolin cream samples the IBCLC had given me were a godsend! After the first two weeks, it stopped hurting, and we started to establish a regular pattern of feeding.

I went back to work when she was just barely 2 months old, and began the glamorous world of pumping at work. I was a fast-food manager, and though I had warned my general manager and district manager both well before I’d left on leave, it was a battle from the get-go. For starters, the GM (and assistant/second-in-command) I’d had when I left had quit during my leave- and word hadn’t passed to his fill-in that I was going to need pump breaks about every 2 hours, so it hadn’t really been scheduled in, which made it awkward for some of the rush times when I needed to get off the line. To the GM-filler (Jeremy)’s credit, he didn’t mind- he knew I physically needed it and was legally guaranteed it, and offline I’d go. To one of the other managers and my DM, though, it was a shock- especially the time I had to walk off the line at noon in the middle of lunch rush.
I had made it very clear that I would need to pump an hour and a half after my shift started (I fed her before I left, and had about a half-hour drive) and every two hours after that, and that they should schedule me appropriately. So when I started a shift at 10am, that meant I was going to need to pump at 11:30. Now, if we were slammed, I could usually put it off for about 10 minutes before it started to hurt, which, that day, I did. At the point 12:00 rolled around, I was close to tears from the pain and I just had to go- so I told the opening manager I was going offline and she’d need to coordinate. She said “Alright,” and took over. The DM happened to be on sandwiches at that point, and she didn’t notice me leave the line, but DID notice me sitting in the office about 5 minutes later and started yelling. I ignored her- since she never would have heard my response anyway -and just continued pumping. I was done about 15 minutes later and returned to the line after putting my milk in the fridge. After the rush had passed, the DM pulled me back into the office for a conversation, where she proceeded to chastise me for leaving the line and tell me she “didn’t care that [I] needed to pump, there was a rush!” So I proceeded to educate her on the law, my rights, and the company’s legal requirements to comply- including the fact that I was already being nice about letting them slide on not having a specific, interruption-free, non-bathroom place for me to pump- and that if me leaving the line at noon was a problem, they should schedule me and other labor appropriately. She huffed for a while, but I wasn’t concerned- I was right, and federal law had my back. On a later pump break, I took the opportunity to print off two copies of the fact sheet on the law and highlight the parts we’d discussed- one copy to hang in the office, and one for me to keep in my pump bag. I never got hassled for my pump breaks again, even after we got yet another GM.

And that was my first lesson in standing up for myself and my child- at two months, a mother’s supply is still regulating, and it is absolutely crucial that she pump when she needs to- especially with a fed-on-demand baby at home. A single missed pump session can signal the body that she needs less milk, and a pattern of them surely will, leading to supply problems from which she may not recover. I was not about to let that company sabotage my child’s food supply.

Moving forward, Moonbaby nursed and nursed and grew and grew- from her daddy-fed bottles and my breasts, and she was a chunky baby, much to my relief. When I asked her pediatrician after her 4-month checkup how I could be sure she was getting enough (she’d hit a growth spurt and was seemingly feeding all the time again), he said “Well, you can always go back to charting feeding times and wet/dirty diapers- but she is happy and she has rolls for days; I’d say that’s a well-fed baby.” Which was very reassuring. I think if she had been a skinny baby, I would have had much more anxiety over my supply keeping up with her demand- as it was, I worried on and off if we were going to make it to a year- my goal for breastfeeding. But we carried on, even through a move and a new job (well, same job, different franchise) for me, where I’m happy to report I had nothing but support for my pumping needs, beside a couple crew members who grumbled and even sent in a “customer complaint” about it, but my fellow managers adjusted amicably as far as I could tell, and with their scheduling structure and business flow it worked out that I never (except in extreme and exceptional circumstances, for which usually had labor scheduled anyway) had to leave the line during a rush.

Punctuated through all this were various occasions of nursing in public. I had to leave the house, obviously, and for a long while, if I was leaving other than to go to work, she had to come with me. Which was great- I loved taking her out. She was the epitome of portable in the infant seat, and if I didn’t want to deal with that or the stroller, I could always wrap her up and wear her on my chest, which we both enjoyed. Now, I understand that this is a hot-button issue for many people- well, I should say, I understand that it is; I do not understand why it is. But that is a rant unto itself, really. I don’t nurse with a cover- I did, at the very beginning, solely for the comfort of specific people, and then Selenia decided she would NOT tolerate the cover any longer. She would sooner throw up crying and wailing and thrashing than she would nurse with anything over her head. So we saved the cover for my pumping at work, and I will say I did not miss it. I was only ever hassled for it once, in Meijer, when she was just about 2 months old. The lady hadn’t even noticed I was nursing her until she came up and put her hand on Moonbaby’s head- for which I would have smacked it away if she hadn’t pulled it back so quickly herself. Who does that- just touches a stranger’s baby?!  She chastised me for “being so bold” (really, baby-toucher, really?!) and quickly moved on.
I will add I have no problem with mothers who choose to and whose babies tolerate being covered while nursing- just as I have no problem with mothers who simply whip it out and feed their child. A mother and child should nurse however they are most comfortable. I have found, in my personal experience, that I’ve gotten fewer looks and gathered less notice uncovered than I have wearing a nursing cover. It’s like the cover is a giant flag that says “NURSING MOTHER HERE! I HAVE A BABY ON MY BOOB!” I’ve had people walk up and have entire conversations with me before realizing we were nursing- so obviously, it can’t be all that scandalous.

I am proud to say that we did make it all the way to a year- though I was pressured around 9 months by my aunt, Moonbaby’s primary caregiver while I was at work -to supplement. I took the question seriously, researching and polling my mother friends, and I decided not to. I pumped extra for her at home to get her through the spurt, as my supply caught up, rather than introduce formula and potentially end our breastfeeding. It was well worth the extra effort, in my opinion, especially because I didn’t really have the money for formula anyway.
Besides that, I found the thing I needed to emphasize most with her caregivers was that her bottle size would not change- she would always be drinking about the same quantity of milk, as opposed to formula which would increase as the child grew. Breastmilk adjusts to the needs of the child, so while the amount of milk will remain mostly unchanged, the caloric and nutritional content changes to fit the child.
I pumped for her just past a year- we moved again and I left that job last September.

It is worth noting, also, that for this entire span- all the way until she was about 14 months -she did not once sleep through the night. She, and thus I, was awake every two hours like clockwork, and so she would nurse. She was so regular I often used her as my alarm clock. I was amazed at how my body didn’t seem to care- I was no more tired than I had been before having her. I still got 8 hours of sleep; they were just a little punctuated. I think it was because she was so regular about it that it didn’t take a toll on me.

When I went back to work at a greenhouse in January of this year, I worked split shifts around my husband’s school and work schedule, working a couple hours in the morning, coming home for a couple hours, and going back for whatever remained of the evening. I was surprised to find that I didn’t need to pump- her nursing had spread out enough that it was unnecessary both for her nutrition and for my comfort. My body had, once again, adjusted to her needs and our relationship.

And we are still going, 16 days before her second birthday. Our nursing relationship has changed- as she got older and more busy, ate more food, she asked for it less and less. Around 14 months, she was only asking for “booby” before naps and bedtime, which meant only 3 times per day, and the next month, she went from two naps to one, and down to two nursing sessions per day. Occasionally, if she is ill or very upset by something, she will ask for extra sessions, but those are few and far between. And if she for whatever reason misses a session- if Daddy does bedtime, or she falls asleep in the car, she doesn’t usually mind.

One thing that does make me sad is that, despite our nursing journey being such a large part of our relationship and her growth and my growth as a mother, there are very, very few photos of us doing so. I couldn’t find a single one before she 101_0586was 9 months old- 9 months of nursing every 2 hours, and not a single photo! Part of this, I’m sure, is that I was usually the one to be taking pictures, and most of the family would probably be embarrassed to take a photo then. But really, folks- don’t be. I’d rather have those photos!
This one is the first one I found that someone besides me took- I asked Ryan to take this as I was nursing her to bed in late September, just after we’d moved. Remember how I said she once fit neck-to-rear along my forearm? Here, at 13 months, she hardly fits neck-to-waist!
It’s not a flattering photo for me- just look at that nose! -but it is a beautiful photo to me, a rare capture of one of the most amazing things I have ever done and will ever do. A moment in a bond between mother and daughter that I will cherish always.

Our relationship is evolving further, now, as well. I am 17 weeks into my pregnancy with her first sibling, and may end up tandem nursing my toddler and my newborn. A new challenge and a new adventure!