July 30, 2014

My Breastfeeding "Failure"

Tomorrow kicks off World Breastfeeding Week.
I am passionate about being a mother. I want my kids to be safe and healthy. I believe that moms should do everything reasonable to breastfeed their babies. I believe that breastfeeding is the best thing for an infant, however I know from experience that it doesn't always work out.

I'm hoping that by sharing my story today I might lend encouragement and understanding.

My first son was 8lbs 12oz at birth.
At his one week check he'd lost weight, which is normal, and it was within the normal range.
At his two week check, when he should've been back up to birth weight, he had lost more weight (16%), he now weighed 7lbs 6oz. At this point you could tell by looking at him that something was wrong.
His Dr immediately had me begin pumping and bottle feeding to track how much he was eating so we would know how to proceed.

These photos were taken the day before his 2 week appt. I knew he was too skinny, but I had no idea just how severe his weight loss was so I waited through the holiday weekend to take him into the Dr.
I will forever treasure these pictures as a reminder of everything we went through, and of how this boy of mine is strong and amazing.

I was scared and heartbroken. Luckily we had amazing medical professionals who were caring and supportive throughout the ordeal. However, I also experienced people who were just the opposite. It goes with the territory I suppose.
I worked with his Dr and two lactation consultants, we began supplementing with formula and trying to boost my supply. He quickly regained the weight he had lost and caught back up to his normal growth curve. However, he never breastfed well, and I had to continue supplementing and eventually he quit breastfeeding altogether.
I pumped and bottle fed, and supplemented with formula for 9 months.
In the beginning I pumped 8-10 times a day, I would spend 30 minutes pumping, 20 minutes feeding him his bottle, wash all the pump supplies, and start all over again 30 minutes later all day long, and at night too.
It was physically and emotionally draining. My house was a wreck, my emotions were a wreck (oh and did I mention that my baby didn't sleep much, cried constantly, and fought eating and that my husband was working, going to school and student teaching among other responsibilities).
When my son was 8 weeks old I went to visit my parents and my mom told me "it's more important for him to have you than to have breastmilk", but I worked in a medical office where I was constantly exposed to influenza, RSV, etc and I knew he needed my immunity which I could give him through breastmilk, plus I couldn't afford to just feed him formula. Off brand formula made his reflux worse and he ate SOO MUCH. I did however cut back to pumping 5 times a day, it was much easier when I wasn't pumping at night and I also learned that I didn't have to clean all the parts after every pumping, I began storing them in the fridge and cleaning them once a day, that was a huge time-saver.
At nine months my son was walking and climbing on things. I was worried about him falling and getting hurt while I was pumping. It became more important for me to keep him safe than to feed him breastmilk, and luckily at the same time he grew out of the reflux and I was able to feed him the less expensive store brand formula so there was no increased cost.

My second son lost weight that first week, but by 1 1/2 weeks (I took him in for extra weight checks) he was almost up to birthweight. He is exclusively breastfed. I have had no issues with supply. He will not take a bottle.
Pumping with this child the way I did with my first would not be an option, just imagine the things my toddler would be doing.

Barriers to Breastfeeding with my first child:
 High Palette: Difficult for him, Painful for me.
 Bilirubin Lights: Emotionally Awful. He was jaundiced and spent six days on bili lights, this created a cycle: Jaundice tends to make babies very sleepy, my sleepy baby struggled to eat, not eating enough made it harder for his body to rid itself of the excess bilirubin, not eating enough hurt my supply, not producing enough milk made it difficult for him to eat.
 Personality: Looking back I know that my first child is NOT patient. As a baby he always hated eating, but breastfeeding was especially hard for him because he couldn't see everything that was going on and because breastfeeding is more difficult than bottle feeding.

The bottom line:
Don't take for granted the ability to breastfeed.
Formula is a wonderful blessing. I'm grateful to scientists who study breast-milk and infant development and continue to improve formula so that I have a healthy substitute to feed my baby(s).
Just because it doesn't work once, doesn't mean it will never work, and just because it worked once doesn't mean it will always work.
Babies are resilient.
The human body is amazing, we see infants as tiny, weak, dependent little things, and they are, but look at what they can overcome!

As a side note:
When I needed help and answers related to exclusively pumping I received wonderful help online through the La Leche League.
The two pumps they recommended were the Ameda Purely Yours Electric Breast Pump
 (I decided to go with the Purely Yours Ultra
 because it came with so many extras, I think it saved me money in the long run.) and the Medela Pump In Style
Most insurance companies will now cover the cost of a breast pump, typically the Ameda

Use Promotion Code bbfac1 TODAY!

July 16, 2014

Soft and Fluffy 100% Whole Wheat Rolls

However, I'm terrified of yeast.
I have failed at frozen roll dough more times than I've succeeded. Yep.
But, I LOVE BREAD, and I LOVE Saving Money, and I enjoy cooking. Therefore, I set out on a mission a year ago to conquer 100% whole wheat sandwich bread. I made two attempts and failed at both, so I gave up that mission and decided to just work on conquering something that involves yeast.
I succeeded at breadsticks for the first time in my life, and then I started trying to make rolls. The problem is, most recipes were a blend of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour, or involved honey and butter, which gets EXPENSIVE. I'm not knocking honey or butter, but I just didn't really want to fork out that kind of money for my ingredients and then have to do all the work.

Yep, I'm that cheap.

So after a few failed attempts I combined elements I liked from a few different recipes and came up with my own using whole wheat flour, oil and sugar.
It's simple, cost-effective, and delicious.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.

24 Rolls:

4 Tbsp.  Yeast
1/2 c. Sugar
2 1/4 c. Warm Water

Combine. Let sit for 15 min.

1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 c. vital wheat gluten (improves texture)
                     This can be found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores by the flour and yeast or Amazon carries it in bulk: Vital Wheat Gluten - 3.5 Pound Can


5-6 c. whole wheat flour

Add flour 1 cup at a time, until dough just pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl and dough is moist but not sticky.

Knead about 5 min. in a stand mixer.

Form dough into 24 balls and place in 2 9x13 pans.

Let Raise until approx. double in size.

Bake 15 min at 400*F

July 10, 2014

Saving $$$ on Back to School

I know it's only midway through summer, and no one wants to think about going back to school yet, but the best deals come from planning ahead, and I found a good one!

Smith's and Kroger stores have digital coupons you can load onto your shopper card for:
$5 off a $25 Old Navy gift card
$15 off two $25 Gap Options gift cards (Gap, Old Navy, etc.)
$10 off a $50 Children's Place gift Card
$10 off two $25 Aeropostale gift cards
$10 off a $50 Guess gift card
If you plan to purchase items from ANY of these stores, buy the gift cards now and it will essentially give you an extra 20-30% off your purchase on top of any other great deals or discounts.
If you purchase the gift cards this weekend there's also a digital coupon to give you 4x fuel reward points on your gift card purchases (instead of the normal 2x). 
If you don't need these gift cards for Back-to-School Shopping, they can also be given as Christmas gifts, or used to purchase Christmas gifts

Plan ahead and SAVE

Then use
 Ebates Coupons and Cash Back!!!
Before you shop online you go to Ebates and search for the store you plan to shop at, then click on the link to the store and start earning cash back.
So, purchase that Children's Place gift card then go to Ebates and shop online to earn an extra 2.5% cash back on your purchases, you'll have spent $40 to buy $50 worth of merchandise and then you'll get an extra 2.5% cash back, and every few months Ebates will send you a check for the cash back you've accrued. EASY!

Amazon's Deal of the Day today is 50%or more off Backpacks!
 There's something for everyone

Product DetailsProduct Details 
Product Details Product Details

Amazon is a great way to save money on renting and buying textbooks, or even selling ones that are no longer eligible for buyback at your school. Use the list of ISBN's from the bookstore to check prices and compare deals.

Plus you may be eligible to sign up for a free trial of Amazon Student and get free two day shipping on all orders. This is so helpful when setting up an apartment and getting ready for the first days of class.

July 7, 2014

The Day I Became A Victim of Credit Card Fraud

(And Why I Prefer Credit Cards Over Debit Cards)


Credit Card fraud is something I've read about, I've studied the laws, I've heard about it in the news, Target anyone? Heartbleed bug? I know there are laws to protect consumers, like me, against credit card fraud. Credit and Debit card companies like to advertise as if these low/zero liability laws are a benefit specific to their card. 

However, I don't think I really believed that I could actually be a victim until it happened.

I logged on to Mint.com to do some budgeting. I login about once a week to categorize transactions and see where I'm at budget-wise. That night I logged in, waited for my accounts to update and then went in to categorize, the first thing I saw was a pending transaction from two days before in the amount of $402 at PetSmart. I haven't set foot in a PetSmart in at least a year, and I'm not sure I've ever made a purchase there. My stomach dropped. I know there are laws protecting me from unauthorized charges to my card, I also know that these type of things can be a big hassle, hours of phone calls, paperwork, waiting for charges to be reversed, I was devastated.

All in all the ordeal went quite smoothly, within 5 minutes I was on the phone with my credit card company informing them of the unauthorized charge (and texting my husband to make sure he hadn't just purchased a bird, two fish, and adopted a puppy), I was told I couldn't dispute a pending transaction. When I explained that I absolutely hadn't been inside ANY pet store within the last year, that I do not even OWN a pet, and that I was positive my info had been stolen somehow, but that my card was still inside my wallet, they quickly filed the dispute and cancelled my card. That phone call took about 10 minutes.
All the legitimate charges from my previous card were transferred to the new one, and less than 48 hrs later I had the new card in hand. Then I checked my account online about every 2 days until two LONG weeks later, I saw that the charge had been removed.


What I did WRONG...
I didn't put it in writing.
I should have written a follow-up letter(sent by certified mail) or e-mail(with a read-receipt) to document that I had notified them so that if for some reason they tried to hold me responsible for those charges I would have a legal case against them. Every time money is involved keep a paper trail.

Why I Prefer Credit Cards Over Debit Cards:
If the charge had been made on a debit card the money would have been gone. Instead of just waiting for the charge to be dropped, I would have been waiting for the money to be put back into my checking account. Depending on the day, that missing money could have made me late in paying bills, short on my house payment, or without enough money to buy groceries. Those situations could have resulted in expensive late fees, high interest loans, or overdraft fees. 
Now, hopefully I have an emergency fund that would have saved me, but what if I hadn't noticed immediately and they had maxed out my card; or with a debit card, drained my checking account and even sent me into overdraft? 
This does NOT mean that every person should use a credit card. If credit cards are a temptation for you to go into debt, STAY AWAY. The expenses incurred from a one-time incident like mine would still be smaller than racking up credit card debt and paying interest every month. Every situation is different. 
If you stick to a budget and are good at exercising self-control so that you don't end up carrying a balance on your credit card, then a credit card can be a great tool and a protection against financial damage from fraud.

For more information about Lost or Stolen Cards and the laws that protect YOU, visit the Federal Trade Commission Website here.