Sunday, February 26, 2012

Steppin' Out Saturday

This Saturday, I didn't feel like stepping out anywhere.  I woke up with the worst
cold: sneezing, congested, sore throat, achy muscles.  All I wanted to do was lie in bed
and sleep the miserable feeling day away.  Of course, that didn't happen.  Saturday was
my best friend's daughter's birthday, a special afternoon was planned to celebrate a
beautiful little girl.  I wouldn't have missed her party for a silly little cold, no matter how
bad I was feeling.  So I sulked around in my pajamas until the very last minute and then
got the girls and myself dressed, had a hot cup of tea and slipped some Kleenex into my
back pocket.  We put our best smiles on and headed over to the bouncy house, ready for
some princess birthday party action.
Here's what we wore on my not so sick day.  This is me in practical mom fashion mode,
the "I don't feel good and I'm about to chase my kids around an indoor playground"
look.  Dark wash jeans, comfy long sleeved tshirt, and clogs.  Add cute earrings from
husband and a scarf to make it look like I tried.  The scarf doubles as a great nursing
cover on the go, by the way.  It is also worth noting that this is the first time since Brees
was born that I did NOT step out with a diaper bag!!  As our baby girl is growing
and requiring less and less on our outings, I was able to fit both of our belongings in one 
of my favorite purses.  Getting to ditch the diaper bag for a purse is a monumental 
moment in the life of a mother.  It's one of those moments that makes you feel like you 
are getting a little piece of yourself back.  Until your baby smears chocolate cupcakes 
all over your purse and you remember why you've been carrying the durable, canvas, 
easy to clean diaper bag in the first place...

Mama: Top-PacSun, Jeans-The Buckle, Clogs-Hannah Anderson, Scarf-Old Navy
Belle: Top and jeans-Old Navy, Boots-Wizards of Waverly Place by Payless
Brees: Romper-Carters, Shoes-Keds

pleated poppy

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Mardi Gras Love

This week, we celebrated one of our very favorite holidays here in Louisiana: Mardi
Gras!! Mardi Gras, or "Fat Tuesday", is a time of celebration before we enter the
Lenten season. Mardi Gras is friends and family camping out to watch long parades, 
catching beads and doubloons, boiled crawfish and Abita Amber, feather boas and 
glittery floats.  Mardi Gras is yet another reason I am so completely in love with this 
amazing place I am so proud to call home: my precious Louisiana.  We had an amazing 
4 day weekend celebrating this holiday our culture claims so proudly.  At one point, 
watching a parade with Shawn, Belle, and my cousins, my neck weighed down with 
beads, a cold beer in my hand, clutching a bright pink parasol, I had one of those 
moments.  One of those moments where you just look around and think, "I would not 
want to be anywhere else in the whole world right now".  
Damn, that's a good feeling.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ask A Nurse About: Treating A Cold

I am not only a nurse to my patients, I am also a nurse to my family, friends, neighbors,
and random strangers in Target and our local grocery store.  On a daily basis, I
encounter numerous questions about health, medications, and random concerns such
as "What does it mean when my poop turns green?".  And so I begin a new feature here,
Ask A Nurse, where I will attempt to put into laymen terms the very confusing anatomy
and physiology of the human body.  Am I an expert?  Hardly.  But I am an
experienced, certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse and a mother of two.  I draw
from my experiences in my medical practice, my journey through motherhood, and
my endless collection of credible nursing textbooks and resources.  Remember: this is just
a blog.  Just as you should never base any serious decision on internet ramblings, so
should you not take anything you read here as concrete fact.  When in doubt, consult
your doctor/naturopathic/guru.
This week's topic: Natural remedies for the common cold

Unless you and your family live inside some magical protective bubble, chances are at
least one member of your household has been plagued by the common cold this winter:
stuffy nose, sinus pressure, coughing and fever.  Since the common cold is caused by a
virus, there is no antibiotic or cure available to kill this nasty bug.  Instead, you should
focus on treating your symptoms, hopefully shortening the duration of the illness.  There
are tons of over the counter medications that can be used according to the specific
symptoms involved: antihistamines for allergies, cough suppressants, fever reducers,
and nasal decongestants.  But, there are also a number of natural remedies you can try
to help soothe your stuffy nose and itchy throat.
Here are a few I've learned over the years.

Steam: Hot steam is a wonderful way to help loosen up sinus and chest congestion.
Turn your bathroom into a steam room by running the hot water in your tub or shower
and closing the door.  Sit in the steamy room for 10-15 minutes.  For older children
and adults, you can also sit over a bowl or pot of hot, steaming water as well as a
facial steamer.  Hot steam vaporizers, such as this one made by Vic's, can be placed in
your bedroom at night.  Eucalyptus oil can be added to vaporizers to clear nasal passages.
Be careful when using hot steam vaporizers if you have allergies: they can cause mold
growth if your room is not well ventilated, thus exacerbating your allergies even
further.  After using steam, attempt to cough and blow the loosened mucous out.  You
can loosen the mucous on the chest up by cupping your hand and clapping on the front
and back of the chest (where the lungs are).  The force of your clapping should be a
little harder than burping.
Salves: Use a vapor rub salve on the chest and directly under the nose to help clear 
nasal passages.  Vic's Vapo Rub is a staple in this house and has been since I was a little 
girl.  The old folks say that rubbing Vic's on the bottom of your feet will also help to suppress 
a bad cough.
Stay hydrated:  It is so important to stay hydrated with a cold.  Drinking ample
fluids will help thin the mucous, thus making it easier to extract and keeping you 
hydrated.  Hot tea with honey and lemon is soothing for your throat, orange juice is a 
great source of Vitamin C and a natural immune booster, chicken soup or broth to keep 
your nutrient needs intact.
Rest is best:  With a cold, it is so important to get plenty of rest so that your body can
focus all its energy on battling the germ war.  Cuddle up in bed with your favorite
book and/or reality TV show and sleep it off.  As much as your children will allow you,
of course.  Sleep upright as much as possible to prevent mucous from pooling up in your
inner ear and the back of your throat.
Herbs: When not contraindicated by medical conditions and medications you are
currently taking, herbs are nature's most perfect way to battle illness.  In terms of
the common cold, garlic, echinacea, astragalus, zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, ginger,
and elderberry are excellent herbs to combat symptoms and lessen the time of
infection.  These can be used in teas and are also available in pill and capsule form.

When to seek further attention:

If your cold lasts longer than two weeks or keeps coming back
If you develop shortness of breathe, wheezing, or difficulty breathing
Fever greater than 103 degrees or that lasts longer than 3 days
Bluish skin color
Earache or drainage from the ear
Severe pain in your chest, face, or forehead
Hoarseness, cough, or sore throat that lasts longer than 10 days
These symptoms can signal a sinus infection, severe allergies, or a respiratory infection
that needs further treatment.  Consult your family physician if any of these occur. 

Have a question you'd like to ask a nurse?  Leave me a comment and I will address it in a future post.  
Or, email me at  

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Adventures in Breastfeeding: Pumping Is Over

After 14 months of hard work and dedication, the pumping days are over, finished,
done.  Since Brees was only a few days old, I have faithfully used my breast pump, both
when I was home with her and when I was away at work.  In the beginning, when I was
on maternity leave, I pumped 1-2 times daily, helping to relieve my engorgement
and ensuring my baby girl would have an adequate supply of milk in the freezer when I
went back out into the workforce.  At work and on the few occasions I was away from her,
I pumped every 3 hours like clock work, never missing a beat.  I developed a system
and stuck to it even on days where I felt exhausted by the whole process.  I lugged that
big black bag and my ice cooler around like they were bonus extremities, bought an
extra freezer when my Mommy's Milk baggies took over the storage space.  I pumped in
my car, in public restrooms, at amusement parks, in hotels.  It was a part of my daily
routine, a necessity to achieve my goal of breastfeeding my daughter for at least the first
year of her life.
Brees and I did more than just achieve our goal: we extended it.  15 months old and we
are still going strong, still enjoying the bond we both hold so dear.  All of the hard
work involved with my pumping schedule has paid off because Brees has been able to
be exclusively breastfed despite the fact that she has a mama who works outside the
home.  That is something I am incredibly proud of, a fact I consider one of my greatest
mama achievements.  Many people assumed that since I work outside the home and
spend time away from my baby each day, breastfeeding would not be a long term
possibility.  But Brees and I are living proof that if you do your research, develop a plan
of action, and surround yourself with a support team, long term breastfeeding is not
just a possibility, it is a reality.
So why did I decide to stop pumping?  Well, my boobs actually decided for me.  At around
the one year mark, I started noticing a decrease in the amount I was pumping at each
session.  My routine was the same, I was adequately hydrated, but my body was
naturally producing less milk due to the decreased demands of my growing, solid food
eating child.  I started pumping more often and for longer periods of time, hoping to
stimulate my milk production and continue pumping the ample amount I was used to.  I
soon realized, however, that my body was simply reacting to the natural evolution of
Brees' appetite.  Brees and I are down to 4-5 feedings a day now that she is eating 3 full
meals of solid foods.  She is sleeping through the night and is no longer using me as a
snack source.  Her nursing sessions are shorter as her body now needs less milk.  And so
it was only natural that my body began reacting to the pump in very much the same
way: decreasing from 4 ounces a pump session to 2 oz, then 1 oz, until one day I was
barely able to get anything at all.
I had imagined that when this day came I would feel sad, upset with myself, worried
about our milk supply.  But I didn't.  I looked at my happy, healthy, well nourished baby
and knew that I had done my job.  We still have a pretty large surplus in the freezer to last
us a while and when that eventually runs out, Brees will move to whole milk.  She's
already stolen a few sips from her cousins' bottles so we know the transition will not be
as dramatic as we might think.  I packed up my pump and all my supplies, making
sure everything was clean and organized and ready if we are blessed with another little
And so another phase of the infant stage is over, another piece of our journey has come to
a close.  I am so thankful for the gift my pump gave me: the ability to breastfeed my
baby when I was not physically present to do so.  For all of the stories about
breastfeeding you've heard, let this one serve as a source of encouragement and hope:
you CAN do it, you can make it work.  And no matter what happens, the love you have
for your baby is all the nourishment they need.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Steppin' Out Saturday

Saturday night, Shawn and I stepped out for our first date night in months!!!  My cousin
came over and sat with the girls so that we could steal a few hours away for dinner and
grown up time.  I don't think I need to explain how nice it was to get dressed up and
steal a few moments away: most of us with children know how rare and special
these moments are.  But they are so important, so meaningful in a world where we
sometimes get caught up in work and responsibilities and take far too few nights
for ourselves.  Date nights are an investment in our marriage and our love for each
other, they leave us feeling closer and our souls rejuvenated, bringing us home to our
babies stronger and more united.  It was a wonderful night and I am so thankful for the
time I got to spend with my very best friend, my partner.  
Isabelle snapped a few photos for me before we left:

Blouse: Francesca's Collections, Jeans and heels: Target, Earrings: Midnight Riders

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Be Mine

We did Valentine's Day big this year, like REALLY big!!  Isabelle has been talking about
it since Christmas and I think we just all got caught up in the fever.  Our day started
with a special cinnamon roll breakfast, love notes in lunch boxes, and a few chocolates
before school.  I went to work and gave all my patients extra special hugs and kisses and
got lots of love right back.  I made it home early to prepare my Pinterest inspired
Valentine's Day dinner: Foil pack chicken broccoli, Caesar pasta salad, and
steamed asparagus.  Isabelle came home from school with a bag full of Valentine's 
from her classmates and a teddy bear from a secret admirer whom she deemed "very 
cute".  Brees had her very own baby Valentine party at the babysitter's house and got 
her first taste of Oreo cookies.  She was extremely impressed.  When Belle went upstairs 
to put her things away, she realized she had been "heart attacked" (yet another 
adorable Pinterest inspired idea)!!  She stood at her door for a really long time, reading 
all her love notes and smiling.  As dinner time approached, Shawn literally came 
bursting through the door looking like he had been attacked by the Valentine's Day aisle 
at the supermarket.  He was seriously loaded down with balloons, stuffed animals, 
candy, cards, and a sweet bunch of daisies and lilies.  Shawn has always been thoughtful 
and romantic by all accounts but I have NEVER seen him go all out like this.  Each girl 
got special gifts from Daddy and a Valentine book from Mama.  The rest of the night 
went pretty quick as we approached bedtime and the girls headed toward a possible 
sugar coma: we had dinner, a Whitney Houston tribute dance party that involved 
break dancing, bath time, and stories before bed.  Shawn and I ended the night 
in the living room: catching up on our DVR with chocolate in hand.  It was a very 
special, thoughtful, giggly little girl good night.  I think we'll all remember this 
Valentine's Day for a long time...

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