Just Grin and BarrettBlog
A blog beginning with my wedding journey all the way to my pregnancy journey with a little bit of life sprinkled in.
Currently, my skin is a blend of different shades. My face is one color and my neck is a shade lighter with streaks running down the front. That is where I am right now, and I don’t care. It is the time to try new things. Get adventurous. Live life on the edge. The time to try that tanning lotion that has been sitting in your cart for months. The time to explore new trails.
I bought the tanning lotion a couple weeks into the quarantine. “Hey, why not? No one is going to see me,” I reasoned. It came in the mail, and I lathered that stuff all over me. My ankles and shins came out super tan. My feet remained ghostly pale, and my thighs and calves appeared to be mildly darker. I have always wanted to be multi shades of orange, so I went ahead and purchased the tanning face lotion for the cherry on the top.
Meanwhile, I began mapping out new trails to run and walk all over my city. Daily I would hit up these trails with my son in tow in his stroller. We would make sure we covered every inch of the trails no matter the terrain. Flat. Hilly. Paved. Unpaved. Smooth. Rough. Didn’t matter. My son and I would go bouncing on these trails, having the time of his life. He on the edge of his seat, and I running home to track where we went on the map and to find our next
A few days later my face lotion came in. No sooner had I mastered the art of making my legs and arms look evenly tan, I decided to mess around with my face. Sure enough, the next day I woke up looking like Trump with white circles around my eyes. I was that high school girl in the 2000s who couldn’t figure out how to blend her makeup so that her face and neck were not two starkly different colors. Well, except this time, I was the high school teacher with a
two-toned face to girls who have beautiful even skin. “I’ll blame it on the lighting in my house. No one will know over video chats,” I reasoned with myself again.
And no one did notice. My face is also looking quite bronzed and sun-kissed if I may feel so inclined to add. Not to mention, legs and arms are getting buff (my husband would probably laugh at this) from all the trails we have been exploring.
This time for me is all about trying new things. Things that I might have been fearful to do before. Things that I might have tacked on a million reasons why I didn’t have time to do. I’m writing those blogs that I have always wanted to write. I am making that killer website that’s always been on my to-do list. I’m reading those books that have been on my Want to Read lists. I’m taking on a pull-up challenge and then two weeks later quitting it. I’m lying on the floor with my son as we laugh and play games. I’m going into the unknown one tanning lotion and one trail at a time.
How We Transitioned from Room to Nursery
Step 1: Follow @takingcarababies on Instagram or check out her blog.
Cara is amazing! She is a sleep expert and a former nurse. Her tips have helped tremendously.
Step 2: From Birth-4 months we kept our son in our room in a bassinet next to my side of the bed.
This was easy for me to grab him whenever I had to breastfeed.
Step 3: Around 4 months, we got rid of the bassinet and switched to the pack n play portion.
Step 4: Around this same time, we moved our son further from away from me but still on the same side as me.
Step 5: Around 5 months, we moved the pack n play to the opposite side of the room, the farthest away from me.
Step 6: Around 5 months, we also moved the glider to the nursery. Most of the feedings and bedtime routine now took place in the nursery rather than our room.
Step 7: Around 6 months, we tried to do as many naps as possible in the crib in the nursery instead of our room. Make sure it's dark!
Step 8: Around 8 months, we transitioned to the nursery and sleeping in the crib no problem!
How to Survive the Quarantine
1. Get a few pairs of comfy yoga pants.
2. Cute scrunchies to pull back your hair.
3. Check out books from the library.
4. Find good podcasts and TV shows to watch.
Listening to: The Bobby Bones Show and The Office Ladies
Watching: Tiger King, Outer Banks, The Office again, Community, Dead to Me, Curb Your Enthusiasm
5. Going to parks
How to Get Your Toddler to Eat
Step 1: Turn on Calming Music
Step 2: Let him eat what you are eating
Step 3: Let him take control and feed himself
Step 4: When that doesn't work, sing "If You Are Happy and You Know It" over and over and over
Step 5: Shove food into his mouth when he giggles at the song. Do this until he is finished eating.
Step 6: Go insane! Your child will find this funny and then will eat on his own. You're welcome!
How to Shop for a Toddler's Birthday Without Buying Toys
1. Book Club Membership
2. Baby and Mommy/Daddy Yoga Class
3. Children's Museum Pass
4. Toddler Art Class or Art Kit
5. Baby's First Year Memory Keepsake
6. Swim Lessons
7. Baseball Tickets
8. Zoo Membership
9. Train Ride
10. Kids Cooking Class
How to Prepare for Breastfeeding
Step 1 Order a pump through your insurance
I ordered mine with Medela. Fill out a questionnaire and see if you are eligible.
Step 2 Clean and sanitize your pump parts
Follow the directions that come with the pump. I boiled and then washed the parts the first time before using. Subsequently, I only washed.
Step 3 Buy supplies
Step 4 Take a class
Sign up for classes at your local hospital and research La Leche League near you to join support groups and classes for after Baby is born.
Step 5 Practice relaxing techniques
It's important to practice relaxing techniques now, so when your baby comes you can learn to relax your mind and body for your let down to happen.
Step 6 Get excited for baby!
How to Calm a Baby 0-3 months: The 5 S's
Step 1: Swaddle
Wrap your baby in a swaddle. It is best to practice wrapping baby in a swaddle when she is calm to get her used to the swaddle. But if she is fussy continue wrapping in the swaddle even if she appears to not like it. Make sure arms and legs are wrapped snug in the swaddle.
Step 1a: Wrap or sling
During the day, wear your baby around in a wrap or sling. The snug, tight, close, swaying motion of a wrap reminds your little one of the uterus and makes him feel right at home and calm. A sling also teaches your baby the difference between night and day.
Step 1b: Sleep Sack
During the night, we would put our son in a sleep sack when he was ready for bed. He was the most secure in the sleep sack and had a harder time wriggling out of them.
Step 2: Side/Stomach Position
Once your baby is nicely swaddled, roll him onto his stomach or side in your lap. This position will relieve any pressure or gas that he may be feeling in his stomach. Never put a baby to sleep in this position.
Step 3: Shush
Next, add a loud shushing sound. Moms tend to do a quiet shushing sound but the louder the better. It was noisy in the uterus. Download some white noise, a high pitched hair dryer sound, or white noise and turn it up. Turn on a sound machine for the evening.
Step 4: Swing
Then add in swinging or gently rocking to replicate the movements of the womb. Whether you use your arms to jiggle your baby, a wrap, an exercise ball to bounce, or a swing/bouncer, the gentle motions will calm your child down in no time.
Step 5: Suck
Finally, plop a pacifier or teether into your baby's mouth to add the cherry on top!
What every happened to predictability? The Tanners and Fullers might still be wondering in 2020, but they must not have looked too hard to find it because it is sure living in my household. I love routines just as much as I love finding change on the ground, watching airplanes take off and land, and doing crosswords in the morning. They're a pretty big deal to me. I love reading other people's routines. I love watching stories on people's routines. There is something about that tantalizing taste of predictability that really gets me pumped. The satisfying smell of familiarity that tickles my fancy. And the pleasant performance of doing the same thing day in and day out.
With that said, it's important to keep in mind that routines are not rigid. They are flexible to deal with changes, to spice things up every now and then, and to keep you safe. Here are my routines for the weekdays and weekends.
My Weekday Routine
And that is our routine! It is isn't set in stone and varies from weekend to weekend. Remember routines are flexible. Sometimes do we have to postpone a nap or skip it entirely? Yes, that's life. Occasionally, do I have to "ignore" Henry, so I get get necessary work and household projects done? Yes, it happens. From time to time, do we stay inside all day because well we don't feel like leaving or changing from our pajamas. Yes, of course. A routine is what works best for you and is subject to change. Let me know your routines!
I’ll be honest. I thoroughly enjoyed breastfeeding, but I never expected to one day be sitting on the grimy floor of a supermarket bathroom squirting milk out of my overly full breasts. That would have been a hard pass for me in the Places To Pump Department, and I had already found myself pumping on the sweaty seats of a high school bus at a cross country meet as the bus driver blocked teenagers from climbing aboard a few weeks earlier. Nevertheless, that September day there I was crouched on the ground desperately squeezing the milk out.
I need to back up a bit before arriving to how I got in that situation on that particular day. By the time September rolled around I was in my 8th month of breastfeeding and pumping. It had been going well. Breastfeeding had been delightfully easy from the start (Cue eye roll and the chorus of, “Must be nice,” from all the cracked nipples and engorged women out there). That said, I wasn’t ready to relinquish the power my boobs had quite yet, but I wouldn’t have argued if given a break from the constant need to have someone suckling on me for nourishment, even for only a few days.
The opportunity presented itself when a friend of mine announced he was getting married near San Francisco in September. My husband and I didn’t debate long. We booked our flight. We were excited, but as the trip quickly approached, I began to get anxious about being away from my son and breastfeeding. With more and more research I gathered from the internet, I soon came to find out that pumping on a vacation was more like a full time job. You had to make sure you had all the right supplies: coolers, ice packs, cleaning brushes, breastmilk bags, portable battery pack, multiple flanges, bottles, and a side of determination and perseverance. Not to mention, you had to ensure that there was enough milk left at home to last your son the whole time you were away. It was a lot for only a few days.
Not too long later, there I was trekking through TSA with my Medela in hand and a forced smile plastered on my face, ready to force myself to have some fun. After getting through the plane ride and having to pump on the plane, I was starting to feel more relaxed and that this was a good idea. Later, we met up with our other friends at the hotel. The weather was beautiful. The backdrop gorgeous. The food delicious. We danced, ate, and drank our way through the wedding, having a ton of fun. The next day, we made our way to San Francisco and then spent the day walking throughout the city, taking in all the sights and tourist attractions. So far the day was going great!
Which leads me to why I was sitting on the floor of a grocery store bathroom. What I didn’t fully realize was that without my son sucking out every last drop of milk, my breasts filled up fuller and faster, which meant I had to pump more, which meant the more I pumped, the more my boobs thought I needed more milk. Supply and demand. Simple economics. Hence, a problem arose.
On our walk through the city, I had only brought along my handheld pump because I didn’t want to lug around all the supplies for the motor pump. As hour 4 quickly came and past, I knew I had to desperately get to a bathroom to relieve myself. I scrambled to a Starbucks bathroom, locked myself in a stall, and tried letting the milk flow naturally. Nothing happened. I was hyper aware that there was a line to use the bathroom, my friends and husband were patiently waiting, and I was super uncomfortable squished in this box. It was taking forever, and I began to panic. Soon, I abandoned my post and went to find my group. I would suck it up. I didn’t want them to spend their vacation confined to my boobs’ time and agenda. As we walked some more, my boobs started hurting a lot. I was getting engorged, and any woman who has breastfed before knows that this isn’t a pleasant experience. I dreaded mastitis. I needed to do something. And fast.
Then, there in the horizon I spotted an oasis in a desert, a Safeway. It was all in the name. My way to safety. Safeway = grocery store = private bathrooms = pump in peace. I darted to my refuge, throwing back a, “You guys don’t wait for me. We’ll meet up later.” I scoured the store for the bathrooms and found them tucked away in a hidden corner. Perfect. I nearly sprinted to the room. Finally, with the door locked behind me, I sighed a deep breath of relief. Then, I surveyed my surroundings.
It was the kind of bathroom that reeked of urine, had toilet paper scattered throughout the floor, and had a toilet that was filled to the brim with piles of toilet paper. Not the most ideal or sanitary place to squeeze milk out of your boobs, but it would have to do. At least, I was in peace and quiet. I settled on the floor on a toilet seat cover, relaxed, and let the handheld pump do its job.
What felt like only a minute later, I heard noises outside of the two bathrooms. Then, there was a knock. Was a line seriously forming for people to use the restroom? How many people had to suddenly pee in a grocery store, so much so that they would abandon their carts? I, for one, rarely used the facilities in a shopping market. What the H-----??? Well, this was San Francisco where everyone was probably perfectly hydrated. Curse you, West Coasters, and your need to be healthy. My “just a minute” wasn’t going to cut it anymore after the 4th minute. I texted my husband. He would save me.
And he did. He stood outside the bathrooms directing people to another stall, telling these poor people with weak bladders that his wife was pumping inside. I did the deed and felt my boobs sag with relief. Then, I had to pour that precious liquid down the drain since I didn’t have the means to safely store my milk. Oh, what we do for our children. I opened the door, walked out, and turned one last time to look at my safe haven that wrenched me from my struggles. A dingy bathroom floor where I had pumped.
Simply put. I don't make dinner. But let me preface: I can make dinner. I have made dinner. I just don't.
Let me back up. I grew up with my mom making homemade meals, and, despite her protests, she is a good cook. We sat around the dinner table practically every night and had meals. My grandma was the same way. She was really good. For years the whole family would gather EVERY Sunday at her house to have a home cooked meal. I wanted that for my future family. I envisioned coming home from work and prepping a gourmet dinner filled with all the food groups. We would sit around the table, talk about the day, and throw our heads back in laughter. I pictured making my husband's favorite meals. Meals he could brag about to his friends. You know, the quintessential things white people dream about.
Then, I met my husband. His mom is a good cook. His dad is a good cook. Naturally, he became a good cook as well. In the beginning of our marriage, I tried fixing meals, but my husband was just better. And I had an epiphany - I DON'T LIKE COOKING. I don't. I dread thinking of meals to have for the week. I despise chopping, dicing, or slicing anything. I dislike frying, sautéing, whisking, or mixing. So my husband took over. In fact, he was glad to. He enjoys cooking and thinking of meals. I threw in a feeble attempt every now and then, but in all I don't do it. And for a while I felt bad about it. I felt like I should be doing it more. I felt like it should be my role. Not the husband's. Those feelings lingered on, so once in a while I would half-heartedly suggest I take over the cooking for the week. I even made a New Year's Resolution to cook a meal once a week. That didn't last long. Then, this year I finally learned to let go after a year of having to let go.
My first encounter this year of letting go came two days after the New Year, and it hit me like a slap on the face. I was about 36 weeks pregnant when I learned that I had to have a c-section because of a brain aneurysm. The whole pregnancy my neurologist had said I would have a normal birth until on second thought she decided it would be safer if I did not. I pleaded. I didn't want a c-section. I wanted a birth the natural way. Like somehow having a c-section made me less of a woman or a mother. So not true. Finally, I let go. It felt better that way, succumbing to what is. And guess what? The c-section was fine. Actually, it was more than fine. It was my son's birth story. It was his perfect way into this world, and it was because I let go.
The letting go continued on that year when after spending nearly 6 1/2 months at home with my son, I had to let go of the routine and schedule I had carefully crafted for him and hand it over to my in-laws and mom. I had to let go that they wouldn't do everything the way I did it, and it would be ok. I had to let go of that guilty feeling that having a career made me less of a mom. I could balance both and be good at both.
When Henry spat up all over my outfit the moment we were about to leave, I let go.
When the mother-son photo shoot I had planned turned into Henry crying and then falling asleep, I told myself to grin and bear it and then let go.
When Henry woke up at the crack of dawn, and I had to drag myself out of bed, I let go. Sometimes.
When Henry had explosive diarrhea on his Breakfast with Santa outfit, so he had to wear his Christmas Morning outfit instead, I reluctantly let go.
When Henry would fling his food all around while I watched helplessly, I didn't want to, but through gritted teeth and clenched fists, I took a deep sigh and then let go.
And finally, later on in the year, I had to let go that my breastfeeding journey would have to end sooner than I had in mind. I found out that I had to have surgery on my brain aneurysm, and the medicine I would have to be on required me to stop breastfeeding. I cried. I didn't want it to have to end, but when I let go and let God, it became ok. I had no control over the matter, and finally letting go was like freedom from the bondages of worrying. The world didn't end when I stopped breastfeeding. We had some setbacks, but my son is still happy and healthy. Again, it's our story.
After a year of letting go, I can say that I don't make dinner. And I, Lauren, am now okay with that.