Wednesday, February 22, 2012

cold stone &a bear

One of my favorite parts of living in Tuscaloosa this time of year is the "Super Saver Pocket Pak." It has a coupon for a buy one get one free COLD STONE LOVE IT SIGNATURE CREATION. Does it get any better than that?! I think not. Cookie dough-nut ya want some with a sample spoon to make it last longer? Yes, please!

Last night Dan so casually mentioned, "I feel like ice cream..." When he says this I have to try to act non-nonchalant and say, "Yeah, that does really good right now..." When in reality I am screaming and jumping up and down on the inside (&usually the outside, too) and then I throw around a few ideas for getting ice cream. So we remembered the coupon, I wailed and jumped out of bed to get ready. Then we realized it was 8:52. Then we realized it closed at 9:00. I was crushed.

So last night, Dan felt like ice cream again! Yes! It revolves around when he feels like ice cream because I literally always feel like ice cream. So we went. And Jude kept Dan warm in the ergo. And we listened to a live band play on top of the roof top. And even danced a little. And life was good.

Afterwards, back at the house...

Mom, why are you sticking your tongue out at me?

Oh well, I can do it too!

He is probably the sweetest baby ever. We will find him just laying in his little crib and he will just lay in there for like, twenty minutes and hardly makes a peep. He just looks around, usually in the dark. He is such a sweetie. So I just strolled him out and brought him into the front room and pulled him out of his crib and he was all wet... so I unswaddled him and he was all wet under his armpits! I must have forgotten we had a record high of 82 degrees today and he doesn't need a long-sleeved onesie, a tight swaddle, and a furry blanket. At least we know his temperature control mechanisms are working. I think winter in Alabama is officially over! So I layed him down and unswaddled him and we were just looking at each other and he just started smiling and laughing at me so much and so happily. We just gazed into each others eyes and laughed for about five minutes. It was one of those moments. We tried not to wake Daddy. :)

We are one happy family. Jude helped Dad study for Genetics tonight. They were discussing metaphase and DNA polymerase and such things. We decided that's Jude's language because he was so helpful and talkative. They always have conversations. Oh, the love. :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

oh, life lately

My two month old baby is precious. He is the young love of my life. The first month was so completely magical, yes, but it was also a whirlwind- very overwhelming, sleepless, and intense. The waters have calmed this second month. He is sleeping so well, usually six to seven hours a night. The days of rocking him endlessly are few and far between. He even likes his swing. He almost always falls asleep in his bassinet on his own. He is breastfeeding like the champion of all champions. We are really getting the hang of it. It's not such an all-encompassing-stop-everything-else-you-are-doing-prepare-for-at-least-an-hour-affair now, it is just kind of a sweet, enjoyable little experience I get to share with my baby eight times a day (at least, Mary says). He loves his little Occy (pacifier dragon). His personality has quadrupled within the past month. He is smiling, laughing, grinning, playing, kissing, talking (baby talk, ya know), and cuddling. My heart belongs to that 11 pound 11.5 ounce babe.

nothing like kisses from mama

I am also feeling so much more like myself. I feel like I am getting my body back and am not just the most awkward, pained, subcutaneous creature on earth anymore. I have been exercising, getting dolled up, getting out of the house, oh it's divine. I even wore my cigarette jeans last night! The joy that filled my bosom when they fit was insurmountable.

We just had the best weekend ever. I finally got Dan to myself so we brought the aero bed into the living room and watched movies, had dance parties, made homemade pizza, talked, cuddled, all the good stuff. I'm pretty sure Dan did not get off that bed for approximately six hours on Friday. He needed some R&R. :)

Now that he is two months old we are do have to avoid crowds like the plague anymore. We still avoid them, but boy is it nice to be able to take him to the store! We celebrated Valentine's Day again last night and went out dinner, compliments of Grandma and Grandpa James and Jude. (They got together and decided we needed a night out and arranged it.) We put in our name at Longhorn Steakhouse and since it was supposed to be an hour wait we walked all around the shops at Midtown Village and pushed Jude around in his little pram. It was freezing cold and raining. We didn't mind. Jude was a trooper as he was harshly exposed to the elements between stores. Whenever he is suddenly cold he takes a huge gasp  like he is catching his breath. It is hilarious. Dinner was the most fun ever. We were starving, so bread, water, chicken tortillas roll-ups (our free entree), and two delicious steaks complete with mashed potatoes (of course), sweet potatoes, and salads was the most delicious meal we could have ever dreamed of. Although I wouldn't have minded a little taste of my neighbor's Chocolate Stampede (AMAZING). I was a little nervous when Jude got hungry but I donned my nursing cover and all was well. Our very flamboyant waiter and other father-of-two server were very sweet and made me feel at ease.

We also went to church today. Jude's first time. It was so nice to be there together as a family. I'm a proud mama. He was awake for the first two hours laying contently in his pram, slept for almost one, and then got hungry about ten minutes before church got out. What a good boy.

In sacrament meeting Dan looked over at me and with a sweet smile said, "I've waited for this for so long... sitting in church with my little boy." I will say, looking over seeing my gorgeous husband sweetly cradling our swaddled up sleeping baby was one of those moments where everything makes sense, life is perfect, and nothing matters but the love we have in our little family. The love we have, centered on Christ, is all we need in life. With that we are strong enough to venture our way through the world and be stronger in the end.

Life has been a little crazy. Dan has hardly had five minutes to relax up until yesterday. He has been out of town for the past two weekends, leaving me a lone woman in the wilderness. My shotgun skills are now up-to-date (just in case), I learned that I may not leave the lights on in the car for ten measly minutes while I feed my unhappy, bawling baby or it will die twenty minutes out of town in the back corner of a dark parking lot where the semi drivers sleep and I must trek into the gas station to ask a complete stranger to help me (don't ward a family from the ward just happened to be there), I got caught up on the Bachelor (my guilty pleasure), and ate instant mashed potatoes for every meal. Dan was at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) in Montgomery. Yes, for the Navy. The Navy?! The Navy. We are pursuing the Health Professions Scholarship in the Navy and the Air Force (shh, don't tell our recruiters). Dan was put up in the fanciest hotel (potential Officer treatment), woken up at a sunshiney 4:00 AM, and had to waddle on his knees in his underwear for a crowd, obtain a urine sample with his five closest strangers while standing on a line of tape and being carefully watched, and other fun things. Oh, the things we do. We also sent in our official acceptance to VCOM!

Life is the biggest adventure. We love it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Happy 35th Anniversary 
to the sweetest, most wonderful parents!! I grew up with a perfect example of what love is and how marriage should be. As I have grown up, I've realized this and also how truly rare it is. They compliment each other perfectly. They put the Lord first and are wonderful examples of how the Lord has guided their lives and made so much of them through their consecration. They are content just being together. They don't need anything big or fancy to make them happy. I am so thankful I have this example to pattern my own life and marriage after. It is obvious to everyone they know how happy they are. People respect and look up to them because they really just "get it." Nothing makes me feel better than to hear my parents say Dan and I remind us of how they were at that age. I can only hope our lives and our marriage will be as eternally successful as theirs has been so far.

35 years may seem like a lot, but in the eternal scheme of things they are still as newly-wedded as this precious little couple above. I am thankful they have been sealed together in the holy temple and have been faithful to those covenants that they may be able to be together for ever and ever!

Their hairs may be graying but they are just as young and vibrant on the inside as they have ever been, probably more. Life has not brought them down and made them tired and weary like it does to so many. It has invigorated them with a love for life and those around them. They truly live a full and happy life. They have all they need in each other.

So perfect together. 
Two peas in a pod. 
A power couple by every definition of the phrase.

They make me laugh and smile and feel warm inside every day of my life. They are just simply the best. I have so many times wondered how I am one of the lucky two who have them as my very own mother and father. So many look to them as mother and father figures in their own lives. I know how I lucky I am and am so very thankful to call them my own.

Happy Anniversary Mama and Daddy!!! We love you sooo much and are so glad we could make you grandparents!!!! <3 Thank you for loving and supporting us endlessly in all that we do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

have mercy, valentine...

We met for some tuna on crackers and heart-shaped sugar cookies at our favorite park and had a little photo shoot with our babe. We just can't get enough of those blue eyes and ever-reddening executive hair.

Oh. My. Goodness... I'm in love.

Really, couldn't be any more in love.

We own no water bottles so I had to get creative. Baby bottles! It was so great. Who needs goblets?! At least they were glass and very toast-able.

I really just couldn't get enough, so we had another little Valentine's Day shoot. He was giving me some new faces. :)

Ohhh, those eyes are irresistible!

And those arm rolls...

We celebrated extra high class with some shepards pie and of course, Martinelli's. We even used real goblets. So fancy. Valentine's Day was just wonderful. Lots of love in this house. Let's celebrate again this weekend. Okay?! Okay!

happy valentine's day! <3

Monday, February 13, 2012

Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk Part 1 // Jude's shots

In my researching on breastfeeding, I found an awesome article on breastfeeding by the American Association of Pediatrics. It should be required reading for every mother! I had done a lot of research before the baby was born, but I wish soo bad I would have read this before I had Jude. I will be going through the article one section at a time and discussing it so we can be well-informed and backed up by a reliable source when we go in the hospital. Go here for the full text.


Extensive research using improved epidemiologic methods and modern laboratory techniques documents diverse and compelling advantages for infants, mothers, families, and society from breastfeeding and use of human milk for infant feeding.

These advantages include health, nutritional, immunologic, developmental, psychologic, social, economic, and environmental benefits. In 1997, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published the policy statement Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk.

Since then, significant advances in science and clinical medicine have occurred. This revision cites substantial new research on the importance of breastfeeding and sets forth principles to guide pediatricians and other health care professionals in assisting women and children in the initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding."

"Child Health Benefits

Human milk is species-specific, and all substitute feeding preparations differ markedly from it, making human milk uniquely superior for infant feeding. Exclusive breastfeeding is the reference or normative model against which all alternative feeding methods must be measured with regard to growth, health, development, and all other short- and long-term outcomes. In addition, human milk-fed premature infants receive significant benefits with respect to host protection and improved developmental outcomes compared with formula-fed premature infants. From studies in preterm and term infants, the following outcomes have been documented.

Infectious Diseases

Research in developed and developing countries of the world, including middle-class populations in developed countries, provides strong evidence that human milk feeding decreases the incidence and/or severity of a wide range of infectious diseases including bacterial meningitis, bacteremia, diarrhea, respiratory tract infection, necrotizing enterocolitis, otitis media, urinary tract infection, and late-onset sepsis in preterm infants. In addition, postneonatal infant mortality rates in the United States are reduced by 21% in breastfed infants.

Other Health Outcomes

Some studies suggest decreased rates of sudden infant death syndrome in the first year of life and reduction in incidence of insulin-dependent (type 1) and non–insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes mellitus, lymphoma, leukemia, and Hodgkin disease, overweight and obesity, hypercholesterolemia, and asthma in older children and adults who were breastfed, compared with individuals who were not breastfed. Additional research in this area is warranted.


Breastfeeding has been associated with slightly enhanced performance on tests of cognitive development. Breastfeeding during a painful procedure such as a heel-stick for newborn screening provides analgesia to infants."

Analgesia = pain relief! How amazing is that? After reading that I was just even more in love with breastfeeding. This article is written for pediatricians and I'm sure most all pediatricians have read it. Then why do they not encourage mothers to breastfeed while their babies are getting their heel pricks and other painful procedures in the hospital? Probably out of inconvenience. That's bothersome. If we, as mothers, are informed we can request, and demand, this if necessary. Maybe it will be commonplace and more accepted in health care.

Jude has his two-month appointment last week. Which means.... shots. Ugh. Many mothers dread this because it's so hard to see our babies so distraught. After reading this article, I knew that I wanted to breastfeed while he was getting his shots. I wasn't sure how that would be accepted by the staff, but I was already prepared to do it and defend my rights if necessary.

The doctor left and said the nurse would be in soon to give him his shots. I decided to just start breastfeeding and that way I would already be doing it when she came in. She came in and was totally understanding. She had no opposition to it and was willing to do whatever I thought would help Jude. He was contently eating when she started her first of the five shots. FIVE. Separate. Shots. He let out a blood-curdling scream and was so red in the face I thought he might burst. I had to pat him a little bit to get him to breathe again and he was pretty worked up for a couple minutes. Once he calmed down, I was right there to breastfeed him and any mother knows nothing makes a baby happier or more content than that. I know he certainly still felt pain but I think it was, if nothing else, comforting for him to be able to nurse as soon as he was calm enough too and feel that safety in mother's arms.

Five shots. Five bandaids. Yuck.
The article clearly states that breastfeeding is superior to formula. Many may think that because we live in a such a modern world and science has come such a long way, they have made formula to be just as good as breast milk. The commercials make it seem like formula might even be healthier for our babies development. We must know that breast milk truly is best, and nothing else can come close to it when it comes to the healthiest nutrition for our babies.

I know sometimes mothers can not breastfeed or try their hardest and have to stop. My point in this is for us to be informed and to try our hardest to breastfeed as long as possible and not stop for convenience purposes, lack of knowledge, or just because we have reached our year mark.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I have the best coolest little friend in the whole world. He is my buddy. I am his number one and I'm so glad. He likes to cuddle with me. He likes it when I pat his back. He likes it when I wash him and keep him clean. He likes it when I feed him. He likes it when I change his diaper. He likes it when I hold him. He likes it when I look at him and make faces and giggle and kiss him. He likes it when I kiss his feet and eat his little toe. He likes it when I swaddle him up. He likes it when I take him on walks. He likes it when I five S him. I decided today that I'm his number one best friend. It's just the most indescribably out-of-this-world feeling to be loved and needed by something this perfect. I want to bask in it as much as possible before the boy next door becomes his best friend, or maybe his super cool Dad. For right now, it's all me. I'm claiming it and loving it.

I love him so much it hurts. Like, your heart just hurts because you can't even express or get out the love that's bursting inside. His squishy upper arms are soo soft and nice. His cheeks are like 44 million thread count satin. And there is nothing better than when his juicy, wet lips plant on my cheek and try to eat me. 

Best. Feeling. Ever.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

love &lots of it.

I'm realizing that having a baby is magical. Everything they do is magical. It's just... magic. Jude is smiling all the time now and recognizing us and being playful; it is just blissful. Something so seemingly small creates some of the most precious, priceless moments that Dan and I have shared together. I can only imagine how fun it will be when he starts to talk, roll-over, eat real food, crawl, walk, run (Dan has had two dreams of Jude sprinting in the past couple weeks, funniest. Picture a little infant sprinting so quickly and efficiently. Big dreams for this kid...), go to school... this list goes on. We're proud parents.

He loves it when his Daddy plays with him...


I read online of a way to help your baby be smart- stick your tongue out at him and he will start to realize that he can do it back. So we've been sticking our tongue out at him all the time. He loves it. It makes him giggle and smile so big. AND...  he does it back now. Pretty much a genius baby, we've known all along. He always sticks his tongue out or opens his mouth wide when we give him kisses. It's the best. There's nothing better than a sloppy wet kiss from the cutest baby in the whole world. He's getting so much more personality and so much more fun... And he is laughing now! It is just to die for. Oh, and he slept 8 hours two nights ago (maybe because we gave him Tylenol because he got his shots) and he slept 7 hours last night! Thank you, baby!

D&R <3 JUDE!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


After a careful analysis of our budget, we realized... we weren't. Budgeting. At all. So we decided to start again, considering we currently have no income. We revamped our budget and our finances and thanks to our trusty bank USAA, did so on a spiffy chart online that keeps track of what we spend where. We are loving it and made two Family Home Evening's out of it. (I love to read approximately ten talks on budgeting/finances for at least an hour and a half... sorry Dan!)

We decided to get our new financial outlook started off on the right foot, we would kick it off with something a little extreme to get our heads in the right place. That's where FROZEN FEBRUARY came into mind (Finanical Freeze February, shortened to Frozen Feb). We are challenging ourselves to see how little we can spend this month. It's actually pretty fun. It's a challenge.

I was checking our budget a few days into the month and noticed we had a charge from our credit card company. Dan reminded me that I had paid last months credit card bill a few days late (oops). Not the best way to start frozen Feb. So I waited until I was in the right mood, called up Chase, and explained to them that we just switched to paperless statements and I wasn't used to it yet and that I just had a baby and I've been a little overwhelmed and out of my funk (sighh...) and was wondering if there was any way he could waive the fee. He replied, "Well, Rachael, I see you have been one of our loyal card-holding customers since 2010 (woah), so I would love to waive that fee for you."

Learned that from my mama.

We had to completely replace our tires in November so we were surprised when our tire light kept coming on and Dan would have to refill them almost every day. We went to Sam's Club and they told us there was a huge hole in our tire and they would have to order a totally new tire. Since they were so new, they would prorate the price, but it would still cost us quite a bit. They called us yesterday to let us know the tire was in. We went over there tonight to have it replaced and another man helped us. He told us he checked our tire and we might not need a new one after all. We wandered around the store for about half an hour, then he found us, handed us the keys and it was fixed- no charge!

Had to pick something us from Target and happened to find a bag with a sweater to return on the way there... so we made $15.00 on that trip.

Jude had his two month appointment yesterday... no copay or anything!

It's like everyone else knows we are having Frozen February and they all want to contribute.

I will be keeping you posted.... wish us luck!

Monday, February 6, 2012


Just in case you missed it...
my parents were supporting Mitt and standing behind him... literally....
at the Nevada Caucus.

It was the greatest! They were so cute and fun to watch. :)

Mitt is great. He is a good person. His beliefs and convictions are founded upon principles of righteousness, which is what our country needs. Soo bad. 

Here is John Roberts of FOX News interviewing my dad the morning of the Nevada Caucus.

Go Mitt!

Here is a link to the entire speech on YouTube.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

breastfeeding what?!

I knew very little about breastfeeding before I had Jude. I just knew I wanted to do it because I had heard it is the best for the baby. I knew a little bit about the colostrum and that it gave them good nutrients and antibodies. I knew I wanted to breastfeed to decrease the chances that Jude would have allergies/asthma. I knew that you breastfeed exclusively for six months and with other food for a year, ideally. And I had had some mothers tell me that it is hard and doesn't always come naturally so not to expect it to.

I have learned so much since then and I am so glad. I feel like the average person is underinformed about breastfeeding, maybe I feel that way just because I was. I have so much more to learn, but have found it so interesting and have been doing a lot of research. I have been eternally grateful to the mothers who have helped me and I would love to help someone else. Even if only one mother-baby pair benefits from all this, I know it is worth it! I am going to do several posts on different aspects of breastfeeding in my attempt to increase awareness in my small circle.

After I had the baby at the hospital, the nurses kept asking me... "Has you milk come in yet?" I would reply, "No.. not that I know of..." They would then just simply say "okay" or "have you felt any tingling in your breasts?" I just told them I hadn't and that was the end of the conversation. I really had no idea what to expect. The colostrum was no big deal. It really didn't have any side effects or anything funky or unexpected so I really didn't know what was coming.

The day I got home from the hospital, a Saturday, "my milk came in." And there was no way I could not know it! My breasts were completely engorged. I didn't know it at the time, but Jude had jaundice and he was hardly eating anything so they just stayed engorged. I did not understand the supply/demand system at that time so didn't know I should have been pumping. I also didn't realize he wasn't eating enough (see previous post). I had no idea what was normal and what wasn't.. My mom and dad had ordered me a breast pump but it wouldn't get here for another week. By Sunday, I was completely desperate and had Dan run to Target to get me one of those hand pumps. That was painful. And unbearable. I probably only did it twice.

We had an appointment with the lactation specialist on Monday... by then I was completely desperate and beaten. I was worried about Jude because he would either be in hysterics or totally lethargic every time I tried to feed him and I was just so confused. I walked into her office with a page full of scribbled notes of questions and worries and things to ask her. Mary McAteer, IBCLC (Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant), saved my life. I call her my angel and hugged her and cried out of love and am eternally indebted to her and I let her know it! She told me Jude had jaundice at that's why he wasn't eating (I felt horrible). She showed me one of their breast pumps and how to use it (finally... relief!). We had to bottle feed Jude for the next couple weeks until the jaundice cleared up. So I rented the breast pump and pumped all his milk for him every two to three hours so he could still be breastfed.

It has all worked out since then! It was not easy, but we got him back to nursing. (He was too used to that high-flowing bottle buffet) and he is doing well. For a while, I thought he would never breastfeed again.

Moral of the story...

After I got home and my milk came in, I could not believe no one had warned me. The nurses so carelessly asked if my milk had come in yet but did not explain what to expect or what would happen or how to regulate it or anything. (In their defense, they might have told me all this and I was just so overwhelmed and sleep deprived I don't remember it). I felt so unprepared and underinformed and had no idea how to handle the engorgement or the milk dripping and leaking out all the time or the pain or awkwardness of it all or just what to do at all! I did not know that milk is on a supply and demand system. The more that is used, the more your body makes. If it is not used, your body will stop producing it. (It's really amazing, isn't it?!)

Not everyone needs a breast pump, but I sure have. I wish someone would have told me that I might really need a breast pump. If for whatever reason your baby cannot nurse (like jaundice, which many babies have), then you need to pump or you will lose your milk supply. I did not really understand why I needed a pump so I figured I would just buy one whenever I ended up needing it. But when I needed it, I needed it, and I didn't have it. Since they are pricey and some people don't end up needing one of their own, I would recommend to rent one from the hospital and have it on hand for when you get home just in case you need it. If you end up needing one, you can purchase one.

I need one because I will be going back to work at the end of this month and I need to pump to keep my milk supply up. I have been pumping quite frequently so I can make plenty of extra milk for Jude to have. When I go back to work, he will have a plenty of breast milk that Dan can feed him with a bottle. I want to there to always be enough for him so he can have breast milk exclusively. (I will do another post about that later.)

So, women... do your research and be prepared! The more educated you are, the greater the chance that you will breastfeed longer because you will prepared for how hard it may be, you will know what to expect a little bit more, and you will have a better understanding of how important it is! Breastfeeding is such a huge part of having a baby. Newborns breastfeed 8-12x/day all throughout the day and night. It has been one of the hardest things I have ever done but also the best and most rewarding.

I love for this to be a place for us to share experiences and encourage each other! :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012


He likes to hold his ear, usually completely folded over, while he's eating. Or stick out his pinky. Or hold the burp cloth for me. Or play with his hair and mess it up. Or thrash around like crazy. Or let me hold his hand. Or smile.

He likes to smile. When he's falling asleep. When he's sleeping. When he's waking up. When he's just lying in his crib. When he's laying on the ottoman looking up at the ceiling. When he sees Mommy. When Daddy comes over to play with him. Or when Mommy takes out the camera... perfect!


He melts our hearts. He's just getting cuter and more fun every day! Not to mention he is soundly and happily falling asleep in his pram all the time now. That makes me smile!