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I forgot to tell you about our Labor Day weekend fun.

We took a drive east to meet Brooke & Scott at Brooke’s family’s cabin in Three Lakes. It’s ironic to me that we had to pass through Rhinelander to get there. My dad has been going up just north of Rhinelander to camp and fish for years and I went with him quite often and somewhat frequently when I was little. It’s around an hour away from Brooke’s cabin.

I like the area but it’s actually the north woods. So many people seem to have cabins “up north” that are simply lake homes with pine trees right around the lake but surrounded by slightly rolling corn fields. That’s not the north woods.

Here’s what we did:

(Sorry about the fof watermarks… not really fof stuff)

On our way. Olive’s first McDonald’s play place experience. Don’t worry.. she didn’t eat anything.

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We arrived at night. Olive ended up staying up fairly late. She also slept really poorly.

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Good morning Olive daze.

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Watching and waiting for Scott to cook breakfast.

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Scott made us crepes. It was nice of him.

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We opened the window from the kitchen to the deck for ease of serving. Also for taking photos because that’s what we do.

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This is Olive wondering why I keep taking photos of her. Especially when eating a crepe.

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My crepe, with cinnamon apple filling.

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drool.

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Tyler likes to make his crepes fancy.

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This is Scott being sad.

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This is Tyler and his Everything Crepe.

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This is Olive again wondering what’s with all the photos.

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Olive getting ready to hit the lake. You’re welcome.

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We got this swimsuit in a box of free stuff. It’s a 9 month size and she’s 17 months here. She’s thin but also no diaper wearing makes for smaller things on bottom.

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You’re still welcome.

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Olive broke her awesome sunglasses a few months prior. I found these for pretty cheap at Target. Not nearly as awesome but still awesome.

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Notice the drips under Honey? She was having the time of her life.

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Olive cam.

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Photos of photos of Olive being taken.

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Tyler and Scott being squinty.

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Olive being cooler than you.

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Tyler and Scott on their way to a little alone time on the lake.

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Honey tried to follow. She swam all the way out to them but couldn’t manage to jump in the paddle boat so she swam back. Mind you, this was her first time swimming.

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I pushed Olive around in the kayak. At this point there wasn’t a life jacket that fit her so I had to stay close.

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Cautiously watching Honey swim to the paddle boat.

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Tyler and Scott still being squinty.

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Honey being beautiful.

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She moved so I focused on her nose. But it’s a great nose.

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For all you city folk, this is a tree.

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These are mushrooms.

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You pull this with your bike, apparently.

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Tyler, Scott, and Olive went to buy Olive a lifejacket while Brooke and I took a paddle boat ride. Olive fell asleep in the car and was finally ready for an adventure after she woke.

First fishing boat ride.

We went to a small island for lunch.

Olive’s pickles.

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This is Olive being independent and running away.

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Breakfast the next morning – french toast using the leftover crepe batter. Clearly not gluten free but I’m not too picky when I’m a guest.

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Another sleepy morning.

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This next series are a few of the photos that Olive took after breakfast. There were about 30. I saved a few.

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Brooke’s dad took Brooke, Olive, and me out for a boat ride in the opposite direction we went the previous day. Olive fell asleep.

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I grabbed a lilly pad for and she held it while sleeping.

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Brooke’s dad was leaving the cabin later that day so it was time to put the boat away.

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Despite being put onto the trailer and being pulled out of the water by a loud bobcat thing Olive stayed asleep.

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Honey went for a dip while we stood around the boat waiting for Olive to wake up.

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Drink break.

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This is after fell off the dock into the water and got a bunch of sand in her hair. She was wearing her life jacket, at least. Oops.

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My most favorite kind of moss.

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Why so many photos? Also: sunscreen nose.

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She didn’t notice I was photographing her.

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She noticed.

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So she read my mind and rubbed sand into her hair.

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You can see Brooke and Scott’s perspective of our time in Three Lakes here and here.

photographing Sophie over the weekend I had some extra time to spend with Olive. I traded services with Sophie’s mom again so I was able to photograph Olive while Tyler was having his massage and while Sophie was warming up as it was a very cold day!

Unlike you’d expect, I don’t take great photos of Olive very often. My camera is large and not the easiest thing to take along with me when it’s just me and Olive off on adventures along with whatever else we may need – extra clothes, snacks, etc. I’m quick to take photos of her with my iPhone but taking “formal” photos of her isn’t nearly as common. I jumped at the chance to squeeze it in the this weekend. :)

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The pumpkin patch that we stopped at up the road from their house was extremely windy!

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At this age it’s getting more and more difficult to get Olive to look at me for a photo. She doesn’t respond to the same “tricks” anymore.

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Sometimes I can catch her looking at something for a while.

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Now she takes direction to do things that might provide some nice opportunities, like kissing a pumpkin.

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Most of the time she looks the other way though.

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It’s been neat to have Olive growing along with my photography business so my techniques and strategies can always be morphing and expanding.

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Back at their house it was a lot less windy so I took Olive’s coat off for a little while.

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I asked her to smile, which is generally a photographer “no no”. I immediately got this face.

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But then she showed me a genuine smile and I got this nice little series that follows.

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I plopped her in the middle of some tall lumpy grass and she carefully maneuvered her way back to me.

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This is a typical Olive expression.

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I asked her to smell a flower. Again, being able to give her some tasks or direction has been helpful.

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She was already a little tired and the day was definitely unusual so she zoned out every so often.

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And took a little break to lay down. :)

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Kind of looking like a big kid. Or a beaver. Or a big beaver.

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I had to keep this. Double chin beaver face. I think she has her two front teeth sticking out in 75% of her photos.

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This next series wasn’t set up by me. She started exploring the plants around her like it was her job.

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This one makes me laugh.

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We ended with Olive’s first hammock experience. After taking this photo I put my camera down and we snuggled next to each other and rocked back and forth before going inside for lunch.

I’m late. But in this case it’s better than never.

Last Saturday was National Car Seat Check Saturday. Ever hear of it? I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t until now. And maybe you have but it went in one ear and out the other. Maybe you don’t have kids so you really don’t care. Or you have kids and car seats and think you’ve got it all right. And maybe you do. But maybe you don’t.

I just thought I’d post a little diddy with some car seat tips. Lots of people appear to be miseducated or unaware of these things.

1. The chest clip is a CHEST clip. Not a neck clip. Not a tummy clip.
If the chest clip is too high and you’re in an accident you risk strangling your child.
If the chest clip is too low and you’re in an accident your child very well may be ejected through the straps upward into your vehicle. You also run the risk of doing abdominal damage if your child happens to stay contained in their car seat in an accident.

2. Coats. Coats are to be removed before strapping a child into a car seat.
Sounds a little crazy but it’s true. Lots of car seat manufacturers will tell you this in their manuals. Coats cause the straps to be more loose around the child’s body and because coats are often a slippery material, you, again, run the risk of having your child ejected upward from their car seat in an accident. Here in Minnesota I have a feeling this one gets overlooked quite often. If you’re able, warm up your car first and take the coat off. If you can’t warm the car up take the coat off, get your child in their seat, and put their coat on backwards on top of the straps. It’s also easier for a child to adjust their temperature when the extra layers on the outside. It probably gets pretty uncomfortable in warm being wedged into a car seat with a giant winter coat once the car has warmed up.

3. Extended rear facing is SIGNIFICANTLY safer than forward facing.
I see all kinds of reasons that parents want to turn their kids around as soon as possible. Easier to see them, the child prefers it that way, better view, easier to hand them snacks, etc. etc. But the facts are (rf vs ff): 50kg neck loads in a 30 mph crash vs 300kg neck loads. WOW. 8% risk of severe injury vs 40% risk. AH. 96% injury reducing effect vs 77% injury reducing effect. It is FIVE times safer for children under 4 year to be rear facing. FIVE TIMES.
Here is some super great info.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the manufacturer of their CSS.”
We purchased the Diono Radian which has one of the highest rear facing allowances. Sure, legs begin to get a little cramped in the back but there are very very very few instances of injured legs in a car crash. You know how when you stop quickly or are in an accident your neck sticks out in front of you and maybe even gets hurt? When rear facing the car seat absorbs that force, isn’t that great? Honestly I think all passengers should rear face.. why not?! High speed very damaging rear end accidents that are bad enough to injure a child’s legs when rear facing are rare – accidents involving the force stopping in front of the vehicle are extremely common.

4. Make sure the car seat is installed well.
Seems like a no brainer but wiggle the seat back and forth.. if it gives a lot it’ll give a heck of a lot more in a car crash. And check it every once in a while in case the belt loosens. People make a big stink about car seats being difficult to install.. we’ve had two different kinds and I could probably install them with my eyes closed. It’s kind of like putting on a seat belt. Or a belt. So give it a try and use some elbow grease to make sure it’s tight. Basically just make sure you do it super tight and if you’re not confident get a second opinion. Any fire station will be gladly to give you assistance.

5. The child’s straps should be tight.
If you can pinch the straps they are too loose. An accident with exert more force than you. You don’t want there to be any chance at all that your child will budge or be ejected from their seat. You also don’t want them to be able to wiggle and arm out.. this is a big red flag that they would like come out in an accident.

6. Children under 12 should be in the backseat.
No matter what kids under 12 should be in the backseat. It’s way safer. I saw a carseat for a kiddo Olive’s age in the front of a truck the other day. So scary.

7. Don’t forget the booster seat.
Booster seats are very important. If a child is under 4’9″ they are likely not big enough to use only the lap and shoulder belts without a booster. The booster helps put the belts into the correct location so they secure the child and do not cause major damage to their neck and abdominal organs in an accident. Lap belt should never be on the tummy and the shoulder belt should never be across the neck.

8. Don’t forget the expiration date.
This one stinks.. but car seats expire. The foam, strap material, and plastic all break done. This is especially true when in a hot/cold car every single day for years. You don’t want to risk that these things will not absorb impact or that something may actually come apart during a very bad accident. You’re also supposed to replace car seats after accidents. Check with your manufacturer for specific speed allowances. Some manufacturers will replace the seat for free if your vehicle is totalled. Helps a little..

9. Don’t submerge the straps.
Who knew?! Regardless of what terribly gross thing happens to the straps of your car seat DO NOT submerge the straps to clean them. This loosens the fibers thus severely impacting the integrity. You don’t want to risk that.

Well… those are 9 things I came up with off the top of my head. Hope it helps someone! :)

Olive’s friend, Ethan, just turned two and had a great party over the weekend. Unfortunately our lovely Minnesota summer suddenly ended and the feelings of late fall were in full swing. Despite the shivers it seemed like everyone had a great time! I thought I would bring my camera along because I’ve noticed that parents never seem to remember or to find the time to take as many photos as they want. I didn’t take as many as I wanted to since I was there to enjoy the party and hang out with Olive but I captured some great moments, especially with the cupcakes. :)

Olive was ready to paaaaaarty:

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As was Ethan:

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Ethan tried his hand at the spinning helicopter things:

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Amber made yummy gluten, dairy, and sugar free cupcakes:

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Naomi modeled the birthday boy’s cupcake:

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And threw in an Angry Bird’s tattoo:

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Ethan seemed intrigued by the candles being lit:

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TWO:

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I like this series… You can probably hear the “fffffffftttt”:

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Drooooool:

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Olive seemed intrigued:

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Yet cautious:

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Diego seemed to be inspecting the cupcake as well:

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And considered the flavors splashing across his palate:

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I asked Amber’s sister if she wanted a cupcake eating photo like the kids, she just laughed:

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Olive seemed interested in more:

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But was still thoughtful:

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Ethan was pretty darn excited:

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And opted for the handsfree approach as well:

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And then he did this super cute thing:

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Amber’s mom attended the party via Skype from the Philippines. Some of the guests were a little confused about the talking compter:

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I took a bunch of gift opening photos but I’ll spare you and post a few highlights.

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Most of my photos had a big Olive in the way:

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Oh hey girls..

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Ethan was gifted one of the same Bibles that Olive has. He said “Jesus!” right after he opened it. I have a feeling his will have fewer bite marks than Olive’s..

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Amber made Ethan a busy book. Which reminds me I need to keep working on Olive’s!

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Overall it was the best Angry Bird’s themed party I’ve ever been to!  hehehe.  It was a really good party.  Lots of fun!  And it was really neat to have been able to attend both his first and second birthday parties so far.  Actually it was neat to also visit him in the hospital just after he was born, too.  We go way back… ;)

Happy Birthday Ethan!!!

Honestly, I don’t love the fair.

I don’t think I went to state fairs much growing up – we lived in the “city” and they’re usually in the “country”. I grew up going to the summer festival in my downtown. Really fun, but really different. In college I went to a county fair. Yep, I did.

Since living in Minnesota I’ve been to the state fair three times. Why do I suddenly attend the fair? It’s a little different here because the fair is located right in St. Paul – in the “city”. So it doesn’t take much planning or extra work to attend. This also makes it really really really busy.

Busy. That is one of the reasons I don’t really like the fair. It is SO unbelievably FULL of PEOPLE. Oh my gosh. My first two times I attended on the weekend – obviously more people

Expensive. You have to pay to get into the fair and then pay to do just about anything once you’re inside. One of the big draws is food. Specifically food on a stick. Weird, right? I’m cheap frugal.. so expensive fair food is not really my thing.

There are many vendors selling all kinds of things. From trinkets to wine to soap to trucks and snow plows. Nothing I really need. Especially when it cost 25x more than it would not at the fair.

There is music at the fair. But I don’t really care. There are big buildings full of animals… I guess that’s pretty ok.

This year I thought Olive might enjoy going to the fair. We didn’t take her last year – I wasn’t interested in lugging baby and baby gear through seas of people. This year I thought she would probably be a bit more interested, we probably carry around fewer baby care items, and I thought going during the week would be a little less… stressful and overwhelming. For both of us.

Our friends Amber and Ethan came along. We met at a park and ride lot in Roseville and took a bus. For free. Instead of paying something like $15 closer to the fair. The bus ride was maybe 10 minutes long. I’m not really sure why would park closer and pay that much.

We wandered around. Ate some food. Had a malt (sugar – oh no!). Found some dogs – looked at them, pet them, got licked by them. Went potty a million times. Drank some water. And took the bus back to our cars when Ethan and Olive started acting a little too sleepy. We’re deathly afraid of car naps.

Here are some highlights of our morning:

Riding a big bus:

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Being cool (actually it was very hot):

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Olive and some plastic bottles. I guess only 25% of plastic bottles get recycled in Minnesota.  Come on folks…

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Sampling some kohlrabi soup, after having had some local popcorn, and some local drinkable yogurt:

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Checking out the dogs.  Specifically this one putting a child.

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After our third stop for potty we stumbled upon the “Lactation Station” and stopped inside for some “me me”:

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We waited in this line in the dairy building.  Fresh dairy.  From Minnesota farmers.  With pride!  You pay first – so I ordered a chocolate malt (sugar – oops!) and a blueberry yogurt.  Then you go up to the next counter where you get your things.  They handed me a low fat Land o Lakes blueberry yogurt.  Full of weird things included High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Local?  Fresh?  With pride?  I was bothered.

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Some butter ladies:

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Oh hi butter girl.

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Today marks the start of World Breastfeeding Week. I didn’t know much about breastfeeding until after I had Olive. I knew right away that I wanted to breastfeed her but even up until her birth I knew very little about why it’s so much better. To be honest I still probably have only scratched the surface. But in celebration of this wonderful week I wanted to share some reasons why I breastfeed Olive and why we’re still going strong.

I know some people can’t. I know some people think they can’t. Others lack support. Others are terribly miseducated. And others don’t just because they don’t want to. I’m not judging you or your choices but I do, wholeheartedly, believe that breastfeeding is, in fact, the best choice for mother and baby.

1. Breastfeeding is natural, the way it’s meant to be. Did you know that breast milk contains many many things that formula does not? Formula continues to try to match the benefits of breastmilk and their advertising makes it seem like its exactly the same but the truth is.. it’s not. Did you know that breastmilk grows along with baby to deliver exactly what baby needs at any given time? It’s amazing.

2. Breastfeeding is free. Maybe this seems silly to you but it’s true. As a work from home mom I don’t work that often. We live on a relatively strict budget. Canisters of formula are certainly not doable for us. It’s mind boggling to me how much is spent on formula. It’s also mind boggling to me that due to so much miseducation and completely absurd and overpowering advertising and coercion from formula companies many low income women formula feed. But just so I leave little to be argued there can be costs associated with breastfeeding – breast pads for the leaky mom, nursing bras, tanks, and/or shirts, a pump if you’re working or need one (I was luckily to be gifted a hand me down), bottles, breast milk storage bags, etc. But the cost of those things pails in comparison to formula. And formula needs bottles anyway.. many more than breastfeeding.

3. Breastfeeding allows for so much closeness between mom and baby. know some people can’t. I know some people think they can’t. Others lack support. Others are terribly miseducated. And others don’t just because they don’t want to. I’m not judging you or your choices. Do you have a wiggly baby? A little one who refuses to cuddle or lay down with you? Chances are if that’s the case and you breastfeed you can still enjoy relaxing cose time with your little one. It’s truly an amazing feeling.

4. Breastfeeding protects a baby from harmful things such as viruses and bacteria. Of course breastfed babies still get sick but they certainly get sick less often than formula fed babies. Olive has actually not really been sick yet. She’s had a night or two with a runny nose or minor fever but not a single full blow cold. I pass on my immunity to various things to her through my breast milk. It is recommended that babies who do not receive vaccinations be breastfed until at least the age of two. Why? Because breast milk protects them from so many things. Another reason that it so deeply saddens me to see low income mothers not breastfeeding as well as so many mothers in third world countries where diseases run rampant. Unfortunately things like witchcraft and absurd advertising strategies from companies like Nestle have screwed up the perception of breastfeeding in many places.

5. Breastfeeding is recommended until AT LEAST the age of two. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding until at least 6 months of age and breastfeeding along with eating healthy foods until at least the age of two. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends “extended” breastfeeding. So why do people think its so strange to breastfeed an “older” child. Why do we even call it “extended” breastfeeding?

6. Breast milk is all natural. You can probably call it local, too. Maybe even stretch it and call it organic? I suppose it depends on what mom consumes, but still, my point is that it is natural. Have you peeked at formula ingredients lately? You know what’s in there? Corn syrup, for one. I avoid that. I don’t let Olive eat that. Why would I have possibly let her consume that as a baby? In my opinion there is not a single positive thing to be said about corn syrup. Except that, I suppose, it’s an avenue for our country to use the extreme surplus of corn that we seem to have. It’s true, there are organic and more natural formulas out there, but that further complicates #2 from above.

7. Long term health benefits for baby. Breastfeeding has been proven to contribue to a lifetime of good health. Having been breastfed as a baby correlates directly to a lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower rates of obesity, and lower rates of type-2 diabetes in adulthood. It also seems that people who were breastfed have a higher IQ than those who were not.

8. Convenience. Save for the initial difficultly some women may face or simply getting use to it when starting to breastfeed your first baby, breastfeeding is pretty darn easy. No need to heat a bottle in the middle of the night, no need to pack bottles, and water, and formula for trips away from home or long vacations. Simply bring yourself and you’re set.

9. Peace of mind. Like most little ones Olive goes through ups and downs when it comes to food consumption. She is currently going through a phase of wanting to be fed by me (which is odd because we’ve never really spoon fed her… ever). That isn’t always easy or quite possible with what I’ve prepared for a meal. Or sometimes she doesn’t seem to like or be interested in anything I offer. Or I forgot to pack snacks for our day away from home. None of that matters because I know she is getting exactly what she needs via breast milk. I don’t need to be concerned about how much protein is on her plate, if she ate her vegetables, etc. Of course I like to see her eat a well rounded meal but I don’t have to be stressed about it. And I don’t have to be pushy or anxious about her food.. which contribues to a much better food relationship for her.

10. Breastfeeding is comforting. A fussy baby, a sick baby, a tired baby, a teething baby, an overstimulated baby… can all find comfort in breastfeeding. The close contact with mom, smelling her, touching her skin, feeling her warmth, is often exactly what a baby needs. Baby may fight it, it may not always be the answer, but often it is. In the very first hours of life baby’s body learns so much from mom’s during their first breastfeeding experiences. Baby’s body learns to regulated it’s temperature and breathing and begins building a close and trusting relationship with mom. It truly is beautiful.

I think I’ll stop there.. that’s 10 things. 10 reasons that I breastfeed Olive and plan to continue until she is done.

Again, I don’t mean to offend… I simply want to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and possibly share some information with you that maybe you didn’t already know. I think it’s perfectly capable for people to turn out just fine without breastfeeding – in fact I wasn’t breastfed.

If you’re a new mom or a mom to be do your research and find some support. Breastfeeding came easily to me but that isn’t the case for everyone. Seek out help if you need it and don’t be afraid. Find the right sources. Some doctors will push formula. It’s amazing and so discouraging but true. Others will make you feel like you’re failing because your baby is gaining weight slowly or your baby is taking a long time to learn to latch. Push through it – your body was meant to breastfeed.

If you’re already a mom and you feel like you failed in the past or didn’t have the right information or didn’t care to breastfeed.. don’t look back on the past and get discouraged. Breastfeed your next child. Done having children? Think about what you can do for your children today that will help them excel as amazing people today and tomorrow. And support other women in their choice to breastfeed.

Still don’t want to breastfeed? That’s okay, too.

I’ll leave you with a photo of Olive appearing to latch on to my leg.

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Why don’t you link up your story?  And go read some more!  :)

world breastfeeding week blog round-up

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