Sunday, April 3, 2016


This is not a throw-back post about my wild days of college. No, this is about growth. And celebration.

I stopped nursing Otis on March 4th. Approximately 2,003 days before that I found out I was pregnant with Matilda. Given that Nate and I wanted our kids to be close in age, this meant lots of pregnancy in a condensed amount of time. We were lucky enough to actually be able to make that happen. What that also meant, is that as a Mama who breastfed for the full year plus some, I have been pregnant or nursing a baby for 2,003 days.

My body has been growing babies inside my body. And outside. for TWO THOUSAND DAYS.

 And what started out with a “I’ll see how it goes and if I don’t like it I will quit” approach to nursing with Matilda, turned into an absolute labor of love. My milk didn’t come in. My nipples were bloody. She had reflux. And allergies and I cut everything I loved out of my diet (except for candy since it has nothing but sugar in it—FTW!).

I felt like nursing was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, but it felt so far from that. I had to work at it. And work some more. People encouraged me to quit—to try formula to give myself a break, but there was something about it that made me keep going. Perhaps it was that I felt like I was failing in every other way as a new mom, and THIS was something tangible I could succeed at. Or, because as I struggled with post-partum anxiety I felt like this was the way to keep me connected to my baby even when my emotions were getting the best of me. Days of crying from pain gave way to weeks of milk supply crashing—but then.

We figured it out, and we made it. All the way until she was 14 months old and I learned that we had baby #2 on the way.

With Baby #2, I was ready. Started pumping in the hospital and had all of the milk supplements on-hand and ready to go. No WAY was I having milk supply issues this go-round. And we didn’t. But you know what we did have? Mastitis. And thrush. 

And little “One Boob Bea” who would only nurse on one side and call it good and leave her Mama to either pump and continue the increased supply or in pain—with mastitis and clogged ducts. I think we passed thrush back and forth for a solid 8 months. I got to learn new drugs like Nystatin and praise good health insurance that covered them.

 Bea made nursing such a quick job that I didn’t really even have time to snuggle in to do it before she was done. That ended up paying in spades for the feedings in the wee morning hours.

 And then Baby #3 came around, and I just assumed that my body would know what to do. Which I should know better by know—it is the first rule of parenting: never assume you know what will happen. 

Two days after coming home from the hospital I called my good friend Allison in tears because Otis wouldn’t sleep. He was up all night crying, inconsolable, but would sleep all day. She gently suggested that perhaps he was hungry and was I sure that my milk had come in. No. No it hadn’t. I knew it in my mind, but at the hospital they said all was looking good so I didn’t even think about it (because I was chasing two other kids around). 

But the third-time Mama kicked in. I made haste getting the supplement regime started, and we were off and running. And Otis was back to sleeping—very long chunks of time at a very young age.

I had a really hard time deciding ‘when’ to cut the cord with Otis. It is saying goodbye to a stage that we have been in for almost  six years. An acknowledgement that our family is complete and there will be no more babies to grow. Nurse. Snuggle. Console. Watch become amazing human-beings. But the opportunity presented itself one weekend where I would be gone for the nighttime nurse for two nights in a row. Just like that we were done. Otis no longer connected to me in that way. Me no longer to him. I felt sad. And then…I felt free.

My body is back to being mine. I can eat what I want without thinking about how it will affect another tiny person. I can exercise and not worry about if I have enough calories to keep my supply up. Nursing isn’t for everyone. Some people can’t do it. Some don’t want to. And you know what? That is why there are very smart scientists that develop formula that can feed and nourish those kids. But for me, it was something I wanted to do and was lucky enough that my body worked with me to make it happen. And I am really proud of that.  Yes, this body is CERTAINLY not the same as it was before all of this. But it brought me these three and that is quite a feat.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Styled By Nate

Don’t ask me why (I blame my Facebook newsfeed) but I decided it would be fun to have Nate dress me for a week. Call me bored. Call me crazy. But I thought it would be fun and Nate was (barely) game.

When I cornered asked him if he would be interested in partaking in this fun social experiment he was quick to say no. But nothing a little ‘don’t you want the blog to live on’ guilt-trip couldn’t handle and he was in. He spent the first 10 minutes pacing back and forth in our closet just pointing at all of my clothes saying things like: “I don’t even know what these things are” (they were shirts)´or “How am I supposed to know what to do with all of this stuff (meaning pants)” and finally pulled out this:

Sure, it was the pair of jeans from the top of the pile. And yes it was literally the first sweater he touched. BUT—generally speaking--These two things go together. And are relatively appropriate for work. SCORE! (Editors note: I DID have to add a camisole under the sweater because MN Winter and a girl cannot sit in her office all day freezing because her husband “does not know about these things” even though he himself puts an undershirt on every day).

Day Two

I gave Nate direction--I have a couple of big meetings and I 'want to look nice'. Most men would shudder at the pressure of that ambiguous statement. But not Nate. He confidently strode to the closet and busted out the Blazer. And that is where the confidence stopped.

He then spent the next 10 minutes asking me the same question over and over again: "Where are all of your sweaters without buttons?" (also known as a cardigan by fashionistas everywhere). I pretty much just sat there giggling at him. And finally had to tell him that I don't really own any sweaters without buttons that would FIT under my blazer because women's blazers fit a little different than mens.

So he changed his course, and pulled this ensemble together. I took my first deep breath of "am I actually going to wear this to work" because I really dislike that button down under the blazer which led me to my first eureka, why do I have clothes I would feel bad about wearing in my closet?

Day 3:
Nate gets home before me and as I walk in the door, he proudly tells me my outfit for tomorrow is already laid out. As we head upstairs to check it out, he shows it to me all put together and says: "I think this is something!". I have to say I was semi-impressed. We have some meaningful layering going on. Point Nate!

Day 4:
This is when it all starts to fall apart.Nate pretty much sent me to work on Friday in pajamas. No seriously, I think I sleep in this shirt more than I wear it in public. And yet---here I am. Dressed in it to go to work for the day. (sans slippers of course).

Another important lesson I learned: Either I wear pajamas around the house WAY to much and Nate thinks they are real clothes OR he just isn't paying attention and i can wear pajamas more often.

But Day 4 did not want to be out done by Day 5:

The most embarassing day of them all. So much wrong with this. These gray pants had to have been pulled out of the darkest corner of my closet as they are from my sophomore year of college and only hung around because they are really stretchy and perfect for being pregnant. Great for the last 4 years. Bad for me now. 

And then he pairs it with more gray and..purple?? Yup, purple. So I put it on and come downstairs and Nate says: "That looked better than I pictured it". Luckily it was a Saturday but I got dressed to go out in public. I was quite thankful for the cold MN weather as I pretty  much let my coat cover the worst of this up.

The grand finale of this experiment was the evening of Day 5--we were headed out on a rare date and I told Nate to dress me 'nice for a nice event'...and he did GOOD! Sweater dress and tights.

My favorite highlights of this process:
  • Nate starting at two dresses--one CLEARLY a winter dress and one CLEARLY a summer dress and not being able to make the he had forgotten the weather was currently 2 degrees with a -15 windchill.
  • Nate opened my drawer of leggings and tights and promptly shut it saying: "I assume you can just pick these out..but I want credit for knowing you need them."

So now I am back to dressing myself and I have to say if I had to do it all over again I probably wouldn't do it right as I start a  new job as the way to impress your new boss is definitely NOT by wearing pajamas to work, but I seem to have come through it.

I have some serious purging of my closet to do because there were palpable moments of cringing as he considered options.

Also, men don't understand accessories. Or shoes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Winter Escape!

Last weekend was our annual trek to the Wisconsin Dells and this year did not disappoint. I have such vivid visions of these four crazy kids running the halls and chasing each other just like I did with my cousins when we went to Midway Motor Lodge each winter. Look at these faces--don't the just scream: "we are going to own this place someday"?

And then there is this one and his partner-in crime. The two beefiest beefcakes there ever was. Otis reminded me a lot of Finn the first time we all went (except of course that Finn had 6 adults falling over themselves to take care of 1 child and Otis was just lucky to not drown). But I digress--Otis and Finn, alike because all they cared about in life was having a basketball from the big kid pool.

Cash got in on that action too.

 And then there is Miss Bea. Queen of the Littles, or the littlest Big. She can't quite hang with the big kids yet, but doesn't have too much interest in just being with the babies. So she does her own thing. Like riding this beaver....
And swimming like a fish. I was quite annoyed that the Wilderness makes kids wear life jackets now. They are bulky and uncomfortable and after the 2nd day Bea was done with them. I spent a solid chunk of time chasing her around and trying to force her into a life jacket and then she just plunged into the pool and laughed at me (as she sank to the bottom). This girl....

And this one too... never ending adoration for her cousins.

 This is one of my favorite family traditions and I look forward to it so much every year. I can't wait until they all want to take on the big slides and hang in the hot tub all day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, Otis!

It's hard to believe that it has been a full year since I was debating when to allow the doctors to break my water and then a few moments later gathering a little boy into my arms. I will be the first to admit that I was in shock to see that you didn't quite look like your sisters, and the questions of ' will I know how to be a Mom to a little boy' played in my head.

But it didn't take long for Otis to put those questions at ease. He found his way into our hearts immediately. It's ironic to me that it took until 'the final baby' for me to love and appreciate the newborn stage. For it's quiet. It's snuggles. It's ooey-gooey baby squishiness.

Of course, it should go without saying that Otis was a good eater. A good sleeper. Generally amenable to life in our crazy home. All of these things definitely contributed to said 'love of the baby stage.'

I remember the first few weeks when the sleep had not yet come, and the darkness under our eyes was darker than we care to admit--telling each other we just had to make it through the first 2 years and then it would get 'easier'.I know that isn't true. Everyone tells me it actually gets harder. Or the challenges are just different.

And I get that.

And honestly, looking at my tank-of-an-almost Toddler I know we have tantrums and whining and bumps and bruises still to come. But I will take all of it. Because our family just would not be complete with out this little man.

Crying and everything. After all--it was his party so....

If you want to see more amazing firsts of my little Odie Boy check out the video we made for him here: The Year of Otis

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Don't Call This a Comeback

After not blogging for almost 6 full months, and hemming and hawing about how/when/what the first post back would look like, I decided to just throw-down this post to break the seal and start to get my groove back.

I could blame it on three kids being 'so crazy', but the reality is that is only a half-truth. I am a 'heart-on-your-sleeve' kinda gal, and I really struggle blogging when there is a big piece of my life and current state that I cannot share. And there was a LOT of that this fall. Stuff that I won't bore you with the details on.

But what I have learned from all of that quiet baggage is that sometimes you have to focus on something right in front of you to see the bigger picture. And right now this is my bigger picture:

This guy is almost a year old, and it is blowing my mind. And I am truly sorry you guys (if anyone is still out there) have missed out on all the amazingness that is one Mr. Otis Hanson. But I promise to make it up to you on Tuesday.

One of my goals of 2016 (because I don't really do resolutions) was to start blogging more. I am not sure it will be up to my 16 times a month like the pre-kid days, but it will be more than once every six months. How's that for a super achievable goal?