Kate: The Shopping Mama - View from a multi-tasking mama
Kate Marsh Lord is the mom of three young and very energetic kids: a 5 year old son, a 3 year old daughter and a “surprise” bonus baby boy born in March of 2012. She is the proud wife of an Air Force pilot, which means her family relocates often, and currently calls Montgomery, Alabama home. In 2009 Kate started The Shopping Mama blog to share the latest and greatest in gadgets and gear for kids and families.
A friend of mine has the quote “We don’t remember days, we remember moments.” on a magnet on her refrigerator. The quote by Cesare Pavese pretty much sums up my approach to the holidays with our kids. Between a mix of tradition from my childhood and creating new memories, I hope we’re helping our kids to experience some really special and memorable moments.12:09pm on Tuesday December 18
While I am completely certain that my family is complete, I admit that lately I’ve been feeling a little baby belly envy. For the most part, I really loved being pregnant. It’s wonderful and powerful but it’s also a time filled with many unknowns. I loved the excitement and anticipation about what was to come – and I think that’s what I truly miss. The idea that when baby arrives you get to start over and experience something new, from the beginning.9:30am on Wednesday December 12
I can’t believe it’s already Thanksgiving. A year ago, I was pregnant. We were living in Alabama. A family of four.
So much has changed in only one year. Max is here. We live in Germany. A family of five.
Because our life changes with such fervor – and, as a military family, it literally changes year to year – I think it’s important to build traditions and other ways to maintain a sense of normalcy no matter where we are.12:14am on Tuesday November 20
No matter how you look at it, November and December are incredibly busy months for many families. And, whether warranted or not, the holidays are often stressful – no surprise given the preparation and travel this time of year. This year we’ll be spending both Thanksgiving and Christmas here in Germany with only our family of five. It’s the first time in, oh forever, that we haven’t spent one of these holidays with extended family.
One of the nice things about breastfeeding is that it’s a pretty low-maintenance operation so you don’t have to worry about bringing or preparing food if you are traveling. However, it can be a little awkward to sit down and feed your baby in front of extended family. I can’t be the only one who finds it more nerve-wracking to breastfeed in front of my father-in-lawthan in front of strangers?12:30pm on Thursday November 15
Teething. The word is enough to strike fear in even the bravest mama’s heart. Beyond the usual pain of baby cutting teeth (namely your little one hurting with little relief), breastfeeding mamas have to worry about how the little chompers will impact breastfeeding.
You know how people say you forget the pain of childbirth so that you will willingly get pregnant again? Well, I’m starting to think the same may be true of the pain of nursing a baby with teeth because I honestly do not remember what this is like. All I can seem to remember is that it hurts. I honestly can’t recall how I taught my first two babies not to. (And it’s not because it wasn’t an issue, because, despite my lack of sleep, I do remember that it was a bit of an issue.)10:00am on Friday October 12
With three kids, a busy schedule, work obligations and a home to maintain I often feel like I have more on my plate than I can handle. As a result, I know that I don’t put enough effort into my relationship with my husband. I’ll be honest, after nearly 8 years of marriage, I sometimes take him for granted.
So. Let me take this opportunity to write a letter to my husband and get a little “romantical.” (What? That’s not a word? We use it all the time in my house…)4:00pm on Thursday October 4
There is no doubt that having a child changes a person’s perspective on, well, just about everything. For example, I think a lot of parents, myself included, become more passionate about things we believe will improve our children’s lives from the environment to social issues. In many instances, we learn from our experiences and want better for our kids. For me, I have learned first hand the pain of losing someone to leukemia and I don’t want my children – or anyone – to experience it.
My father was diagnosed with leukemia in February of last year. I was shocked to hear of his diagnosis. Actually, shocked doesn’t begin to cover it. One reason is that I had always associated the blood cancer with children when, in fact, most leukemia cases are diagnosed in older adults like my father. It was horrible to see my father going through treatment. Horrible. But every day I got to go home from the hospital to my healthy children. I know there were parents in the cancer hospital who were not so lucky. I think the only thing worse than a parent with leukemia is a child with the disease. I honestly can’t imagine.
My dad passed away 3.5 months after he was diagnosed. He died six weeks before I learned I was pregnant with Max. I hate that they’ll never meet, but am comforted by some similarities between Max and my dad.
After being personally affected by leukemia, it’s impossible NOT to work to find a cure. Last year my kids (and Max baby bump) walked in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk. I begged (and begged) friends to donate and it was incredibly rewarding to raise money for such a worthy cause. I know in the scheme of things my time and money are just a drop in the bucket, but every bit helps and I am doing my part to make sure my children grow up with a cure to leukemia and other forms of cancer.
9:00am on Friday September 21
As I’ve mentioned before, nursing is a family affair around our house. Before Max was born I was worried about how the older kids would react to me breastfeeding the baby. Would they be jealous? Would they remember nursing? And, um, would they want to taste the milk? My husband and I did our best to prepare the kids for me breastfeeding because it’s a commitment that requires time and effort and as silly as it sounds I wanted everyone on board.9:00am on Friday September 14
Well, the subject of this week’s post is the ever-elusive sleep routine. (Excuse me while I yawn, I was up three times last night.) If you read last week’s post about spending time with each of my kids, then you know Max and I haven’t exactly achieved a desirable sleep routine. He does fairly well during the day, but the night is an entirely different story.9:00am on Friday September 7
Some days it feels like the most frequently used phrase is, “I’m sorry you’re going to have to wait a minute. I’m feeding Max.” It’s one of those horrible mommy moments where I have to, out of necessity, put one child’s needs over another. (Well, “need” is a strong word because it’s usually one of the older two asking me to prepare a snack!) But the truth is that the addition of one little body means dividing your time among more people. And it’s hard.9:02am on Friday August 31
I’ll be the first to admit there are several things I do not like about summer (lack of routine, moving, extreme heat and humidity). However, for the most part, the good things about summer far outweigh the bad, and the vast majority of goodness has to do with the ability to enjoy the outdoors. And, frankly, taking family walks, playing with the kids and just hanging outside is about all the exercise I get these days.10:00pm on Friday July 27
Despite the fact that it’s the middle of July, I am not contending with summer fatigue and summer heat. Instead, three weeks post move to Germany, I’m in the midst of moving fatigue and a summer chill. The weather here is less than ideal for many traditional summer activities (like, say, anything that involves wearing less than jeans and a long sleeved shirt), but it is actually perfect for trying to get out and about to explore our new home.10:00am on Saturday July 21
One of the most convenient aspects of breastfeeding is that you can do it anywhere and at any time, no preparation needed. This has never been more true for me than for the past couple weeks when Max and I have traveled from Alabama to New York City to Atlanta to Columbus and finally to Germany. Yes, Max and I were on no fewer than 7 airplanes over the course of 10 days. Luckily for him, his food source was always nearby.9:02am on Friday June 29
The past couple weeks have been full of ups and downs for baby Max and me. We’re in the midst of a move from Alabama to Germany. Yes, Germany. It’s emotional and stressful and overwhelming and exciting all at the same time. But, the bottom line is it’s A LOT of everything.9:00am on Friday June 22
I’m not going to lie: breastfeeding can sometimes feel demanding. Not surprisingly, breastfeeding often soothes the baby when he’s crying so the first instinct of many people (including my husband) is to hand Max to me for comfort. In fact, one of my closest friends (who happens to be breastfeeding 8 month old twin boys!) and I often joke that if a baby cries, our husbands automatically say, “I think he’s hungry” while handing him over. Never mind if he’s nursed minutes prior. Despite my teasing him about this habit, my husband is truly a partner in my breastfeeding success.4:40pm on Friday June 15
I Have a Big Baby. Finally!
Having an infant can feel like a constant exercise is anxiety management. Even while parenting my third child, it seems like there’s often something to wonder and worry about. With my first son, my ongoing concern was his size: was he big enough? Why wasn’t he growing more? It felt like every other baby was growing in leaps and bounds and he was just limping along on his own growth curve. I, of course, worried he wasn’t eating enough. (Even though looking back, he was totally fine and a perfectly healthy weight.)9:00am on Friday June 8
As a military spouse for more than seven years, I’ve spent my fair share of time around men and women in uniform. But until I saw the lovely photo of two active duty Air Force mothers breastfeeding, I’d never seen a woman nursing in uniform. The photo has sparked a lot of discussion on a twist of the ever present nursing in public discussion, which, I believe, is a good thing.
You see, there’s no official regulation which governs whether it is or is not acceptable for a mother to breastfeed her child while wearing her uniform. Discussion will hopefully lead to awareness, and awareness of a mother’s right to feed her child will hopefully lead to official support for women to breastfeed in uniform.
Clearly my position as a non-active duty person associated with the military is completely different from that of someone who wears the uniform but I have been pleasantly surprised by the breastfeeding support I’ve received on base. With my first son, I specifically remember the “team effort” to help my baby learn to latch correctly. I was holding my breast as a young (male) Airman Nurse’s Aide held my infant’s head in the correct position. I will always remember that young man in uniform helping me learn to feed my baby. With my daughter, I visited a Lactation Consultant several times on base at no cost. At our current duty station, there’s even a LC who will make a home visit to help new moms, again at no cost.
I have so much respect for everyone who serves our country through military service and can’t imagine the sacrifices that active duty mothers make. Feeding their children how, when and where they choose should not be one of those sacrifices.10:30am on Friday June 1
Max just turned 3 months old and it’s proving to be a fun age that the whole family is enjoying. Max is growing more responsive to our stimulation every day. My favorite, of course, is his big smiles. It’s amazing how one little face can absolutely turn my day around.
I think that Max recognizes me as he often smiles simply when he sees me. This makes sense since I spent the most time with him and am his food source. And at nearly 15 pounds, I don’t think Max enjoys anything more than eating! But, there’s also no question that he simply adores his big brother and big sister.9:00am on Friday June 1
I think I glided through the vast majority of my pregnancy happily ignoring the real concerns and fears that go hand-in-hand with welcoming a new baby. In some ways, I figured “Been there, done that” so I didn’t spend too much time mentally preparing for baby’s arrival. It was a nice change compared to my first angst-ridden pregnancy when I was alarmed at every odd twinge or sensation and I obsessed about things over which I had no control. Nonetheless, after baby arrived and the reality of my life as a mom of 3 set in, I had some very real new mom / post pregnancy concerns.9:00am on Friday May 25
We didn’t have a baby shower to celebrate the arrival of baby Max because he was my third child. Truth be told, it would have made me feel uncomfortable so our friends showered us with meals and support after he arrived. But the lack of a baby shower didn’t stop me from creating a baby registry. I made one to organize my list of baby things I wanted, needed and purchased.
The needs of every family are different and every baby is different so my five must haves likely won’t be the same as someone else’s but here are the things we couldn’t live without.9:00am on Friday May 18
As I cuddle with my two month old and admire his beautiful little face I’m reminded that Mother’s Day isn’t really about me. It’s about them, my kids. It’s a celebration of the fact that my most important job is to be their mom. And there’s no arguing that it is a difficult job.
Mother’s Day is a yearly reminder to thank us moms and all the hard work we do every.single.day, but it feels odd to celebrate this year because I know that I have not been at my best. As it turns out, I’m not so good at having 3 kids under 5. I lose my temper and yell, we eat take out and fast food too often, our house always messy, my oldest spends too much time on the iPad, my daughter doesn’t listen to a word I say and my infant only sleeps when I hold him.9:00am on Thursday May 10
Pregnancy will no doubt change your body and forever change your life. But, the nine ten months of pregnancy can also cause some seriously odd habits or practices. Here are a few quirks that started during pregnancy but I’ve grown to love and appreciate.9:00am on Friday May 4
There is no shortage of advice for expecting and new moms out there. Between the internet, Facebook, relatives and complete strangers, it seems everyone is ready, wiling and able to provide mothering advice. This is both the best and worst thing ever. (Because, really? Crazy lady at the supermarket? I didn’t ask about your crazy method for getting your 3 week old to sleep through the night.) With all the well-meaning folks offering their two cents and the genuinely brilliant advice you’ll receive, the best thing you can do when baby arrives is trust your instincts.
“Go with your gut” or “You really do have a maternal instinct, so listen to it” may sound like a total cop out when it comes to advice, but it’s honestly the best thing you can do as a mom for both your baby and yourself. Besides, crazy lady from the supermarket won’t be at your house at 3 AM when you’re actually living motherhood. No, it’s up to you to make the call so you may as well go with what feels the most natural and instinctual.
I’ll go ahead and admit that my gut has ruled my parenting since my first son was born over 5 years ago. Before he arrived I read a stack of parenting books, had plans in place and thought I knew what would be best for us. And then I actually had a baby and all those plans went out the window. Instead, I followed my instincts. When my instinct told me my son was hungry, I nursed him. If he fell asleep in my bed, we co-slept. Indeed, my parenting style quickly became “Do all the things I said I would never do.” Because that is often what feels right for me and my baby. Of course, what’s best for me and my baby might not be what’s best for someone else, which is exactly why you need to do what your instincts tell you is right.
Now, I’m certainly not suggesting you sail a one-woman ship because, in many ways, it really does take a village to raise a child. And it certainly takes a village to support a new mom. Whether it’s family nearby or a parenting forum online or friends on Twitter, find people who support you and your parenting decisions. This is never more true than when it comes to breastfeeding. Learning to breastfeed your baby can be frustrating and exhausting at first and having a supportive partner, family or community is vital. I needed and cherished support as a brand new mom when my first son arrived and I have needed it from the moment baby number three, Max, arrived.10:30am on Tuesday April 24
A day or two after Max was born I realized I was famished. Starving. And very, very thirsty. I felt as if I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink in days when in reality I had a full meal an hour before. The sensation was nothing new; after all, I’d just finished growing a baby. But, this was different. I think I even wrote something on my Facebook wall about how I was far more thirsty and hungry during the initial weeks of breastfeeding than I was when I was while pregnant.9:19pm on Monday April 23
As the mom of three, there are times I wish the world would just stop. Stop so that I can “smell the roses”, if you will. But, in reality I mean stop so that I can smell the newborn. Take in every single moment nursing and feeding and bonding with my baby.
Over five years ago, when I had my first son he was my only child. He was the focus of all of my attention all the time. Naturally, when we sat down to breastfeed it was all about him. All about us, really, as there was nothing else fighting for my attention.9:00am on Friday April 13
I discovered I was pregnant with Max 3 days after moving into our temporary new home. Our belongings were delivered about a week later and we had to decide on how to make our house a home and plan ahead for baby’s arrival. Complicating matters was the fact that we would reside in the house for one year. My husband's in the military and we're moving overseas so who knows where we'll be living next. We decided to move in, use all of our space and make room for baby in our master bedroom. I haven’t regretted the decision at all because I love our combined master bedroom and nursery.3:23pm on Thursday April 5
I can hardly believe my son Max was born more than 3 weeks ago. He is my third child and he is the perfect little person to complete our family. Each of my children arrived in their own unique way in different parts of the world. My first son arrived after an induction in Germany and my daughter was born after a quick but medicated labor in Florida. Max? He was born March 1 after a rather long and frustrating labor, but I accomplished my goal of a natural, un-medicated delivery in a small hospital in Alabama. (You can read the whole birth story here.)
My family, doctor and the hospital staff were incredibly supportive of my desire to have a natural birth and I was even more impressed by a hospital policy to encourage immediate mom and baby bonding. When I was admitted to the hospital, a nurse gave my husband, mom and I a flyer that said after the delivery of a healthy baby, the baby would be immediately placed on my chest for at least an hour. The flyer made it clear that time was meant strictly for mother-baby bonding and that just as the hospital staff recognizes its importance so should family. This is probably the most progressive thing I’ve encountered in our time in Alabama and I absolutely loved every moment I had with Max before he was measured, cleaned and examined.9:00am on Friday March 30