in the field

Make a Hands Free Pumping Bra for About $10

September 4, 2017

Hello mamas and mamas to be! Today I’d love to share with you a simple DIY that has made pumping breastmilk at work a breeze…

Pumping Bra DIY

If you’ve pumped at work before, you already know some of the challenges that follow. And if you’re a breastfeeding mama preparing to go back, you’re probably wondering how in the heck you balance your professional responsibilities with what basically becomes an additional part-time job–pumping is time consuming!

I usually pump three times a day, all of which happen at work. My longest window of privacy is about 50 minutes, and my shortest is 22 minutes (that’s my lunch break!) There is absolutely NO flexibility in my schedule. I have to pump during my scheduled break times or I don’t pump at all.

Because my 50 minute pumping window is also my plan/prep hour, and my lunch break is so short, I cannot waste a smidgen of time preparing to pump. For me, that means I need to be wearing my hands free pumping bra all day, rather than having to take one bra off and put a new one on.

I tried this hands free pumping bra, and then this one, but knew immediately there was NO way I could wear them all day. They were like bear traps on my chest! In addition, the breast shields just never lined up correctly and pumping was becoming painful, especially if I let go of the bottles, which obviously defeats the purpose of the hands free design.

I ended up making my own and now pump at work happily, hands free, and without wasting any time wrestling myself into a bra that has four rows of hooks and front zipper!

All you need are two Fruit of the Loom cotton sports bras such as these–if you buy two three packs, you’ll end up with three hands free pumping bras. For this design, you will need valves that have detachable breast shields. Here’s how to do it…

Comfy hands free pumping bra

Pair up your bras by color. Put one on and mark where you want your breast shields to poke out. Take the bra off and make a little snip on the marks. Wear one bra as usual and wear the snipped one down around your waist. If you’re wearing a tighter blouse, a camisole helps smooth everything out.

attach the valve to the flange

When you’re ready to pump, swap your bras, pop the shields through the snips you made, and attach the valves and bottles. You can then pull the other bra up so it rests under the valves and put the shoulder straps on if you need extra support. Those bottles do start to get heavy as they fill up!

These bras have been through the wash several times and I’ve had no issues with fraying around the snips.

Hands Free Pumping

If you’re at work, type/conference call/organize your desk. If your at home, kick back and take a moment for yourself!

Pump on, mama! You’re doing great. Mega props for even attempting this demanding task day in and day out!

Do you have any “mom hacks” that you’d like to share?

in the library

if you loved Practical Magic

August 7, 2017

 

If you ever had the pleasure of picking up the book Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman, you’ll be happy to know that she has published a prequel to the story we first fell in love with. I don’t know too much about The Rules of Magic, except that it is the story of the Aunts as younger women and you know that a book about Jet and Fran is bound to be an adventure. It’s available for pre-order now on Amazon!

In the meantime, you should pick up these titles that have a similar feel about them that I think you’ll enjoy…

The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick

I finished this book on my kindle in one fell swoop on my day off and then promptly bought a physical copy of the book. The Sparrow Sisters was impossible to put down, not even for a bathroom break. It is about three sisters, and in this story Ellen Herrick has woven a magical piece about love, life, and sisterhood. The scenes are set off the coast of New England, and the words come to life as the author pulls you into the narrative, letting you coast along as you take in the sights, scents, and habits of these beloved characters. On the surface it is a tale of the possibility of witches; ultimately it is about loss and discovery, unlikely friendship, and the unstoppable force women can become in the face of injustice.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

I found this little gem quite by accident at a library book sale a few years back.  Garden Spells is written in the same vein as The Sparrow Sisters and Practical Magic. It’s the story of the Waverley Sisters, and a rather peculiar apple tree they have growing in the garden of their ancestral home in North Carolina. The eldest sister, Claire, a successful caterer,  weaves her magic in the kitchen by preparing special dishes made from her enchanted herbs and flowers, and whose existence and abilities are at once welcomed and shunned by the townspeople. Claire’s perfectly sculpted life is suddenly upended by the homecoming of her younger sister, Sydney, who brings with her a young daughter and a tumultuous secret, and who sets in motion a series of events that will leave the people in town questioning these women and their strange gifts, and the sisters struggling to make sense of their legacy.

Finding Yourself in the Kitchen by Dana Velden

Finding Yourself in the Kitchen is 2 parts story and 1 part recipe book. Woven in with the recipes is a narrative that becomes less about the mechanics of cooking and more about enjoying what you do in the kitchen. What this book taught me is that cooking, instead of becoming a chore that I have to do, can become a daily ritual that I want to do.  I believe the kitchen is the heart of the house, and I spend a lot of my time in mine, but I tend to rush through every step as I try to finish work as fast as possible. What results is soup that is too peppery because I didn’t bother to measure, vegetables that aren’t uniform in size and shape, or chicken that is dry because I left it too long in the oven.  I did all of these things and more before a good friend of mine recommended this to me. Nowadays, utilizing the wisdom in this book, I take more time in preparing food for myself and my husband. I put on some music, my apron, I sharpen my knives, and I fall into a rhythm.  Whether I’m making a recipe to the letter or adding my own spin and pizzazz, I no longer worry about how long it’s taking me. There is no need to rush from point A to point B anymore; I know I’ll get there eventually.  I now enjoy every little step necessary for me to take in order to create delicious food. I keep a bowl of lemons on my counter now, as per the author’s advice that there is always something you can use a lemon for (try it out, because it’s true!). This book isn’t about working over the stove, morning, noon, and night, but rather finding the intrinsic joy and tranquility that can be unveiled through simple acts of repetition.

-Becca

in the home

fall 2017 wellness contract

August 4, 2017

Wellness Contract

With the new school year right around the corner, it’s time for me to take a beat and start thinking more intentionally about my self care. Two years ago, I shared with you my first wellness contract, one that I developed right before starting my first year of teaching. With my third year about to begin, an intern (student teacher) on board, and a seven month old growing like the weeds, it’s time for a wellness refresh!

My previous wellness contract was very specific, with several specifics within several categories. This time around, I really need simplicity, so I’m keeping it to just one mantra for each area of my life.

FALL 2017 WELLNESS CONTRACT: WORKING MAMA EDITION

Personal: Act the Way I Want to Feel–a reminder from Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project that my attitude has a huge influence on my feelings about myself and the outcome of my day.

Professional: Don’t Let the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good–a reminder that most of the time, the things I do in my classroom or make for my classroom are good enough, even if they’re not perfectly organized or perfectly developed. (Another gem from Gretchen.)

Family: The Days are Long But the Years are Short–a reminder that our life is lived in the day-to-day tasks we often find mundane, but that when my family is grown, I’ll look back on this time longingly. (Yep, from The Happiness Project again. Literally my favorite book).

Creative: One Idea in Action is Worth a Hundred on Deck–a reminder from Elise Blaha Cripe to focus one idea, goal, or project at a time.

Fitness: Any Movement is Better than None–a reminder that swimming with Sonja at her swimming lessons, dancing with her before dinner, or taking her on a nightly walk are totally legit forms of exercise.

Friends: Friends Don’t Care…–a reminder that friends don’t care if your house is clean, if your hair is done, or if your baby is still in their pajamas. Just call them…they’ll still hang out with you.

I’m posting this on my bulletin board at work, and on my fridge at home.

What would be on your Wellness Contract for fall?

–Cat

photo from Death to the Stock Photo

in the library

four fantastic baby board books

July 29, 2017

I know that reading to your baby is essential for their development

…but what I didn’t know is that reading to an infant can sometimes be a little boring.

Ahh! I said it! You were all thinking it.

Don’t get me wrong! I love to read, I want Baby to love to read, and I read to her everyday. I love the opportunity for snuggles. I love when Baby babbles along with me. But it seems that most of the time, she is either trying to escape my lap or eat the book.

I get it, I get it. This is all developmentally appropriate behavior. But my GOODNESS I can’t wait until she’s a little older and gets super into the actual story, and has the attention span for longer tales. (Parents of toddlers who just asked to read Skippyjon Jones for the 32nd time, you’re laughing, I know.)

In the meantime, I find myself reading my faves over and over again, so while Baby is smooching everything within reach (my arm, the book, her toes), Mama can enjoy the story–all 47 seconds of it!


Toot had the honor of becoming Baby’s first Father’s Day gift to her daddy, and is literally the cutest story about farts. Who doesn’t love baby farts?

Anything by Sandra Boynton will make me laugh, but I especially love The Going to Bed Book because they exercise after they take a bath. Seems like a bit of a backwards bedtime routine, but hey, sometimes we bathe and then end up eating some more sweet taters afterwards.

Chris Ferrie’s scientific series speaks to my inner science nerd, plus, topics like General Relativity, Newtonian Physics, and Quantum Entanglement discussed in baby board book speak help me understand them better.

And finally, Black Cat & White Cat is my most favorite black and white book because it actually tells a lovely story about friendship…all of our other B&W books are wordless.

Do you have any titles that are must haves for your wee little babe?

in the home

wedding bells


It’s been nearly two months since Aaron and I said our “I do’s”, tucked away behind a yellow Victorian house on a rainy day in Arkansas. I was a bundle of nerves the night before, going to bed later than intended, and waking earlier than I wanted. The ceremony wouldn’t begin until four but our venue couldn’t be set up until the morning of so by 10AM we were all gathered to begin the tedious task of setting up chairs, folding napkins, and hanging decorations. I tried my best not to run into my groom but we ended up crossing paths and at that point I couldn’t resist sneaking a hug from him. I was so happy!



Getting ready felt like such a blur of activity that writing about it now is nearly impossible. I don’t remember much of the activities that happened or what was said, but rather what I felt as every hour passed. Having my sister, niece, and best friend with me that day was just how I’ve imagined my wedding day to be like. We hugged, we laughed, I cried…
By 3:45, an epic rain storm had rolled into town, causing us to postpone the ceremony until nearly five. I had been experiencing the tiny little stresses that happen at every wedding, but the deluge that was happening at that moment definitely topped everything. Everyone sprang into action and manged to invert all of our arrangements underneath the tent that we had the forethought to rent and in an instant (it felt like an age had passed, but I think my notion of time was skewed that day) we were ready to go!


I walked down with my brother to a little song called Valley of the Shadow, an instrumental piece that comes from my all-time favorite movie Little Women, and nearly lost it when I reached the end and finally looked at Aaron. I think he was about to lose it as well, but you’ll never get him to tell you that. The two of us had decided early on that instead of a modern ceremony, we wanted to do a traditional hand-fasting. My sister was the one to bind our hands together with the five cords I had made as our officiant recited our vows and about ten minutes later we were pronounced husband and wife. Tears were flowing freely by then!




The reception was great fun due to the live band we got to play for us. A folksy-blues band straight from our very own Springfield, MO was our cup of tea that night, and certainly everyone else, judging by how many people actually got up and boogied! At the end of it, even the rain couldn’t put a damper on things. I don’t think anything went according to plan that day, and looking back on it, I’m okay with that. Reflecting on our weekend makes me smile. There was so much love and support for us from both sides of the aisle and consider myself to be very fortunate for the family I’ve had since birth and the one I married into. My husband is the best man, one who is supportive, goofy, too smart for his own good, and above all, kind. That night we danced the night away, ate delicious cake, and caught fireflies with my little nieces. It doesn’t get any better than that.

 

 

Wedding photography by Hannah Faith Photography