Breastfeeding is Not a Magical Weight-loss Tool

At least not for me. Or half of my friends.

I feel lied to. And cheated. And just downright angry.

Three years ago, I thought all of my weight-loss struggles had to do with thyroid hormone levels. But postpartum take 2 has only proven that the breastfeeding is keeping me plump and unhappy with my body, as well–T3 and T4 levels are only part of the battle. . Fortunately, it isn’t enough to make me stop breastfeeding because, um: it’s free, it’s convenient, it’s free, and it’s portable (ask my husband about my new talent: breastfeeding while baby-wearing in public places), it’s free, and I don’t have to worry about product recalls, bad batches, expiration dates, ingredient lists, etc. I’m pretty much a fan.

But that doesn’t really help me feel better about myself every time I look in the mirror, every time I have to put on a pair of jeans 2-3 sizes bigger than my “normal,” or whenever I think about our summer plans.

Going to Virginia–finally!–is a dream come true (I hope we make it). I am excited to take the girls to a beach that doesn’t require them to dress warmly, to tour Colonial Williamsburg, to bum around Washington, D.C. But doing all of those things 25 lbs heavier than I would like to be and 50 lbs heavier than I want to be just seems like a total drag. Bathing suits? Yikes. Summer clothes? I look like a damn line backer. At least in Washington state summer only lasted 8 weeks, so I could suffer through the embarrassing state of my body in jeans and Georgia Tech sweatshirts most of the time.

The only consolation I have is: I am apparently not the only one! Last time, I felt like something was wrong with me (well, there was something wrong with me, but it didn’t turn out to be all that was wrong with me…), and just wanted to hide away in a dark corner forever. This time, I am learning that more and more people have a hard time letting go of the weight while breastfeeding. That women experience dips in supply if they exercise too much or cut out calories. That the harder they try to lose, the harder their body hangs onto the extra “insurance” their body accumulated while pregnant. That breastfeeding is not a diet, workout routine, or body sculpting program.

So right now, I am torn between two options: working out and pushing myself (remember the 15-20 mile walks/jogs I was taking everyday after I had E?) and just sitting it out until I am ready to wean in 6-9 months? One side of me just wants to jump on the exercise train and watch the pounds come off. The other side is trying desperately to remind the first that it just isn’t going to happen. Side two wants me to save up my energy until my boobs are once again my own.

Either way, I wish the rumor that breastfeeding automatically equals weight loss could disappear. It’s not automatic for everyone; it’s not automatic for me.

 

 
Has anyone else struggled with weight loss while breastfeeding? How did you cope? Was there anything that helped after a seemingly endless string of failed attempts to see the weight come off? Or was weaning your only option? What other breastfeeding myths have you encountered?

So Long, Washington!

We are officially no longer stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord!

I know, this is old news, at least for the girls and me. The three of us left exactly two weeks ago, today, and have been hanging out with my parents while S oversaw the HHG (household goods) getting packed, shipped, and out-processed from his unit and the base. My brother was kind enough to fly out to Seattle last week and drive back with S, the 3 dogs, and the cat.

It’s definitely been a learning experience, and we aren’t even done with the whole PCSing process. I consider this the half-way point, and it includes some much needed leave time for S. I have no idea what we’ll be doing the next several weeks before he heads up to Virginia to sign in for CLC3, but I imagine it’s going to include a whole lot of family time.

The girls and I are finally all settled in–I finally got all of our stuff put away and organized, yesterday (I am definitely my father’s daughter as that task was 90% done the first few days we were here). My mom flew out to Washington a few days before we flew out, and helped my make the flight back. It actually went very well–much better than I expected–and both girls slept the majority of the flight. E did manage to spill orange juice all over me, and F got a little restless, but that was the worst of it. We’ve had a few play dates with friends, attended an amazing birthday party (as seen on kimteresting.wordpress.com), and I’ve had some much-needed adult time.

We shipped our Prius to Atlanta the night before my mom came out to Washington, and it arrived 2 days after we got here–a fantastic turn-around! It has been amazing having a vehicle here, again, and we’ve enjoyed the freedom.

I’ll be sure to update again, soon, but with a whiney teething baby, these might be coming in short spurts. I definitely have a handful of tips for when it comes to PCSing.

The Final Days

The packing company sent someone out today to assess our household good situation. He arrived at 11 and spent an hour logging everything we own so they know what kind of boxes and how many to send next week. 

Next. Week.

Yup, they come and pack our stuff next week. It’ll be on truck and on its way to Virginia by the end of next week.

S also started clearing the base this afternoon. By the end of the day, he said he was about 80% of the way done–all he has left is to clear within his battalion and brigade.

Tomorrow will likely be E’s last hurrah with her BFFs. This makes me incredibly sad, even though I know she has no idea she won’t be seeing them again any time soon. She’s so pumped about my mom getting her, going to the airport, packing her Trunki, etc, that I’m having a hard time bringing up the sad part of military life: leaving your friends behind. We’re going to set up and email account for her so they can become “pen pals.” I know this means I will essentially be a transcriber for the next few years, but I think it could be fun for her. If nothing else, they can bond over their love for all things Frozen from afar.

The infamous Trunki is her favorite item in the whole, wide world. (Source: Amazon.com)

My mom will be arriving in less than 36 hours, and that’s pretty much the highlight of E’s life right now. I’m excited, but just typing “36 hours” has me realizing how much I haven’t done, yet (like made the bed in the guest room–I promise I will do it before you get here, Mom!), and that there is literally NO FOOD in my refrigerator (I know because I just cleaned out the freezer and moved something random down into the fridge. It. Is. Bare). But it’s all E can talk about. She would be perfectly happy to hop into the car right now and go wait at the airport for 36 hours for my mom to arrive.

And in less than 48, the transport company will be picking up the Prius. We were actually wanting to have it shipped out after the girls and I left so that E’s car seat would be in it when it arrived (don’t worry, my parents have an identical one waiting for her on the other end and she has an FAA-approved safety harness for the plane), but this way I’ll have a vehicle sooner, so I’m willing to look at it as a win. I love and appreciate that my parents have been willing and able to chauffeur us around when we go visit, but it is going to be so nice to decide to go meet some friends for play dates without having to check anyone else’s schedule, first. E will also be taking swim lessons, and now no one but I will have to sit through that madness.

I’ve been waiting to see the end of this duty station for so long, I didn’t think the day would actually come (I just hope I haven’t jinxed us into some random, horrific incident). I don’t know how to feel about it, really. It doesn’t seem real.

 

And Victory Shall Be Mine!

If you have a preschooler, you might know something about the chaos that surrounded the release of Frozen, today. People were reportedly standing in 2 hour long lines in order to pick up the copies of the movie they had pre-ordered and the ridiculousness that went along with the subsequent release of merchandise (or lack thereof).

I honestly considered not making the 40 minute drive up to the closest Disney store to pick up our own pre-ordered copy just to avoid the crazies. But, instead, we decided to wait for S to get off of work and all made the journey, together. I knew we weren’t going to come home with anything Frozen related, but that was okay because E pretty much loves Tangled, as well, and we needed some new pajamas for our journey into the land of springs and summers (most of her pajamas that aren’t getting too small are for cold weather). I came to terms with the fact that Baby Sven was not to be ours and my pre-order coupon would just have to go towards something less frivolous.

We got there a little after 5, made all of the necessary potty breaks, and then headed into the Disney Store. I zeroed in on the small display of Frozen merchandise. There, 2 Elsa nightgowns hung. I don’t remember how I got there, only that I checked the tags on both, saw that they were 5/6 (the size E is moving into) and snatched them both. S was occupying both girls, so I was free to shop. I dug my phone out of the diaper bag, dialed my friend’s number (she is the mother of E’s BFF– possibly the biggest Elsa fan we know), and asked if she wanted me to get the second one for her 3-year-old girl. She didn’t hesitate to say yes.

I was pretty much on cloud 9. Not only had I managed to secure one of the hottest commodities for my child, but also one for her best friend (and believe me, we have been trying to help them get anything Elsa-related for that child because they are just not having any luck!). I picked out the Rapunzel nightgown I thought E would like the best and got her some other light-weight, summer pajamas when one of the cast members stopped me. For a minute, I was afraid he was going to tell me I couldn’t buy both nightgowns. Instead, he told me what I already knew: I had pretty much just won the Disney Store lottery.

Those nightgowns? They were the only shipment of Frozen merchandise they had received today. A little after 1 pm, UPS brought them a single box, and all that was in it was 100 Elsa nightgowns in a 5/6. They put them out around 2 pm, and when I walked in just after 5, I had snatched the last of them. That’s right. 100 nightgowns of the same size gone in 3 hours. To make matters even more frustrating for some parents, he said, the website crashed and they were unable to order anything from the store to be shipped directly to people’s homes. I told him we came in not expecting to find anything Frozen, and how lucky we felt to have found them. Apparently, most parents were not as gracious.

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We got home, had some dinner, and did some PCS preparations. E was watching her new movie (her face lit up when it came on the tv) when I suggested we change into her new Elsa nightgown.

“No, thank you,” she told me.

I tried hyping it up. It’s like Elsa’s! You can wear it while you watch your movie!

“Um, I’ll wear the ‘Punzel nightgown.”

What?! No! We got you this magical item, why can’t you appreciate it?!

I tried calling it her “Anna and Elsa” nightgown.

She looked at my skeptically. “Where’s Anna?”

Dammit. She had me. I explained that they didn’t make an Anna nightgown, but that’s okay because she has some long-sleeved Anna pajamas with pants.

“Oh. Well, [her BFF's name] likes Elsa. And I like Anna.”

This, my friends, was news to me. Kind of. I mean, I knew she wasn’t into Elsa like every other girl on the face of the planet, but I just thought it was because she liked them equally. I ran out of steam, looked at S and said “well, at least I know I will be able to find someone who will buy it from me,” a little deflated.

He suggested we give it time and try again, tomorrow.

We put on the Rapunzel nightgown–it is adorable, by the way–she danced around, and just as I told her to put down the [washable] marker for the fifth time in 2 minutes, she ran it across the bodice. Of course, it was then “dirty,” she had to take it off immediately, and she figured she could try the Elsa nightgown on “for Daddy.”

It went on, and the magic happened. “Let it Go” was sung, there was much twirling and dancing, and I now don’t feel quite like one of those crazy people who pushes crap on her child (okay, maybe only a little).
She’s now “in bed,” and every few minutes she gets up and dances around in front of the monitor in her new nightgown while singing “Let it Go.”

Victory is mine.

elsa nightgown

Well Played, Disney Store.

I need a time-turner.

I have been checking the Disney Store site every day in hopes of getting an idea of what we might be available when it comes time to use our Frozen pre-order coupon when we pick up our Blu-ray copy. There has been [predictably] nothing, even though I have been thinking a set of summer pajamas would be the perfect way to go.

Astonishingly, when I “wandered” over there this afternoon, they had a whole slew of new merchandise! And, well, they had a plush baby Sven. He. Was. Adorable. I was on the phone with my mom when I saw him, and she said she would check her store if I wanted–I really wanted that little guy for the girls, but my coupon didn’t start for another 9 hours, so she was willing to get him for us. She hung up to call her Disney Store to see if they would hold 2 for her while she drove over there. Nope. They got theirs in on Friday and they were sold out before noon on Saturday. I had my husband call our Store. They said “we got in 2 Olafs today and nothing else.” I added those bad boys to my online cart, said “forget the coupon,” prepared to pay the shipping and horrible Washington taxes… And they were sold out. I was bummed, but what made it worse was E saw the picture on my screen and said “It’s Sven, Mommy! You’re going to get him for me and he’s going to be at my new house!” (she’s totally into this moving thing And a little demanding) and I died a thousand deaths.
She’s been talking about that damn baby “reender-reen” all night, now, and I want to cry a little. Because I have become one of those parents.

I want to give her all of the things she wants, and this is actually one of those things I can theoretically give her. I would also love to send her to Hogwarts–she’s convinced she is a wizard–but that I cannot do (this actually legitimately makes me sad). She wants to be a prince or princess (she doesn’t discriminate based on gender), and that, as I have explained, isn’t going to happen. She wants a red rocket ship that is powered by patting and clapping her legs. Sorry, kid. And she would love to drive a school bus and be a train like Thomas. I can’t really make any of those things happen for her. But, I can spend $15 on a stuffed animal that will make her incandescently happy (and I know it will because she is absolutely in love with stuffed animals).

Except Disney has a horrible supply and demand problem: Baby Sven, clearly, must be in their “winter department.”

I waited up until after midnight in hopes that they were staggering his release and he would magically be restocked. Nope. Every single item that was new today sold out with the exception of a few sizes of pajamas (2s and 3s, mostly). When the site refreshed, they did have the very much in-demand Elsa dress-up dress and accessories. I was momentarily tempted to get it because it’s such a hot item, but she isn’t really that into dress-up, I think the dress is actually kind of ugly, and I know there is someone out there who wants it way more than we do (besides, it’s $50. That’s $50 I could not be spending on a baby Sven). They did have some pajamas I would like to get her, but ordering them alone makes them not worth it when you factor in taxes and shipping, so now I just feel sad, frustrated, and deflated.

So, tomorrow we will head to the Disney Store when S gets home (he really wants to go with E) to pick up our Blu-ray (which is guaranteed to be there. I will be livid if they don’t have it) and wander around with my useless coupon.

Well-played, Disney. Well. Played.

Green and White Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Since I am desperately trying to lose the baby weight (hint: it isn’t working), rather than relying on take-out, drive-thrus, and restaurants for our final days here at Fort Lewis (I am sure my husband will be eating plenty of that once the girls and I leave), I have been trying to empty the refrigerator and freezers as best I can. This task has become doubly more difficult since I have cut gluten out of my diet.

Side-note: cutting out gluten seems to have been a good thing. I’ve been feeling more motivated, and if I questioned whether or not I should keep it out of my diet, my lack of will-power has proven I should avoid it. I decided to have a “cheat” day last weekend and make one of our favorite meals (chicken parmesan). I felt horrible the next morning, to include awful acid reflux. I chalked it up to the tomato sauce and went on my way. Well, Thursday night, S brought home leftover farewell cake and I caved. I felt like death all day Friday. Goodbye, gluten, ol buddy, ol pal. 

One of our favorite gluten-free meals over the last month or so has become what I call “green and white stuffed peppers.” It was inspired by a pinterest recipe for enchilladas that I would never in a million years make (think more cheese and dairy in one serving than any one person needs in a week). I really have no memory of that recipe, who made it, where it came from, etc, so I can’t point you in that direction. The following recipe has mutated from an enchilada dish I made to a stuffed pepper dish when I went gluten-free to a casserole because my husband hates cutting up peppers.

The best part? According to Myfitnesspal.com, the whole thing is less than 1100 calories.

(I decided too late to make this a recipe post, so I don’t have a full range of pictures, but bear with me.)

Green and White Stuffed Pepper Casserole

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ sweet onion, diced
½ bag raw spinach
3 large bell peppers,cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup dry quinoa
cilantro (about 4 tbsp)
1 can mild green chile sauce for enchiladas
2 tbsp light sour cream
2 tbsp cream cheese (I like onion and chive)
Taco seasoning (I make my own)
1 tbsp jarred, chopped jalapeno
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese

1. Place chicken in small pot and cover with water. Add seasoning, bring to a boil and let cook until chicken is done.
2. Remove chicken from water. Pour quinoa in water from chicken, cover, and turn off heat (I just let the quinoa cook down in that. I’m probably doing it wrong, but it works).
3. Preheat oven to 350.
4. While quinoa is cooking, shred chicken and mix it with onion, spinach, jalapenos, and half of the cilantro. Once quinoa is done, mix it in with the rest.
5. Lay green bell peppers out in a 13 x 9 greased pan. Cover the peppers with the mixture, smoothing out until it is evenly distributed.

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6. For Sauce: Whisk together remaining cilantro, chili sauce, sour cream, and cream cheese. Pour over peppers.

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7.  Bake for 20 minutes.
8. Sprinkle cheese over the whole thing and broil until cheese is starting to bubble.

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PCS Should Stand for “Piles of Crappy Stress”

I just want it over with.

If the packing and sorting and moving and shaking weren’t enough to make me want to throw all of my household goods into the yard and have a bonfire, the crap that goes with renting a house certainly has gotten me to that point. I should probably channel our last move and all of the stressing I did over leaving that rental house, and remember (hope, more like) that it all ends up much the same way.

Our house in Georgia was a nightmare. I mean, it was a great starter place for two of us, but otherwise, yeah. It was a mess. Sure, it was close to my parents, my job, and school for us both. Sure it had a pretty lax HOA and a neighborhood pool. And sure the rent was unbeatable. But that place had problems. Like the fact that we are 96% sure it was an afterthought and had a wonky driveway that wrapped around a storm drain. And that it had exactly zero curb appeal. Light switches were in really odd locations (for example, you would enter the house and have to walk across an entire room to turn on a light) and the laundry hook-ups were in the kitchen. It was tiny (less than 1200 square feet), the entire place was carpeted, and there was no bathroom downstairs (but two upstairs!). Anyway, when it came time to move out, we spent at least a week cleaning that place, and it still smelled like a dog. The bad peel-and-stick vinyl in the kitchen was easily replaced, except the new “tiles” wouldn’t stick, and… there was something else. The good news was, we got most of our deposit back, which surprised the hell out of me. I figured our landlady was going to keep all of it just so she could get it professionally cleaned.

So, when we started looking for a place to live nearby to JBLM, I had a lot of musts on my list.

We had hoped to get a house on post, but when S arrived, even the small houses that were built pre-Vietnam War era had a waitlist a couple of months long. They are actually smaller than the house we were moving out of, had no garage, and would cost us our entire BAH. And since S had 4+ years in service already, he pulls BAH that is essentially a full rank’s worth higher than his current rank (at least as long as he is a junior officer. Once he makes Major, that perk goes away). In other words, his housing allowance could get us much, much nicer off post. So, he put our names on the “new” housing (which has since seen some turn-around and is the “old” housing), and went looking out in the community.

It wasn’t as easy as one might think, especially when you have more than one pet. Or your pet is anything other than a potty-trained rock.

So, he was feeling pretty lucky when he found our current house. It’s almost twice the size of our last house (we don’t use most of it), it has mostly “hardwood” floors downstairs (wrong. It has laminate downstairs), has a fenced backyard (thanks to the neighbors), and was “partially furnished” (it came with a pool table we neither wanted nor used). But, most importantly, our landlord was open to our pets and didn’t ask for an additional deposit for the pets, just made part of the regular deposit non-refundable.

The house has… not been my favorite. The wonderful, large great-room? It’s too large, has no outlets, is poorly lit, and there is just no way to decorate around the gigantic pool table no one wants. Laminate is just a horrible idea–it wasn’t a very good install and it is impossible to keep clean-looking. Storage in the kitchen leaves much to be desired (by me, anyway), all of the carpets are white, and it’s built just about as well as everything else made in the 90s: not well.

And, just as I feared, the floors are turning out to be the issue as we are trying to leave.

There are three types of flooring in this house, and each and every one of them has a problem. Not even a big problem. A problem smaller than the palm of your damn hand.

1. The carpet. So, we plan/planned to have the carpet professionally cleaned. Despite my heavy-duty carpet cleaner having a go at it once a week for several months (thank you, nesting), it just refuses to come clean. I blame a combination of age (it was not new when we moved in) and it being the color white. Like any home to a cat, there are a few places that need to be patched because, despite providing him with a multitude of appropriate cat-scratching apparatuses, the damn feline still prefers the carpet.

Well, no problem. It’s an easy and common repair. You just cut out the old, patch it up with a small piece of new, and voila! Taken care of

Wrong. Why? Because no one stocks white carpet. Not Lowe’s, not Home Depot, not the flooring place down the road. White carpet is a special order. It will take weeks to get in because, irony of ironies it has to come in from Atlanta, and it requires a minimum purchase amount.

We could recarpet the entire house for ~$1400. Except one room absolutely doesn’t need it (it doesn’t even really need the professional cleaning). One room probably doesn’t need it (professional clean will do it good, but we could probably get on without it), and most of it will probably be fine with a nice steam cleaning. Except for the two spots the cat got to. This just raises a whole new host of issues–what gets replaced? What doesn’t? Matching? Do we still get it cleaned? What are we responsible for (financially)?

If my hair weren’t already falling out, I would be ripping it out right now. Because I am afraid that a $25 repair is going to end up costing us a lot of money just because the damn carpet is white.

2. The laminate. I hate the stuff with a burning passion, but I hate this particular flooring the most. There is a spot where the boards have warped and the “wood grain” has chipped off. Once again, there is an “easy” way to fix this which involves removing the affected board or boards and popping in new ones. It requires no more than a circular saw, a new board, and an exacto knife. 500 youtube videos attest to the ability of a DIYer being able to do this simple project in less than an hour.

And we have no spare boards to use. Not one. Our landlord doesn’t know who made it or what it’s called, so we can’t go pick up a box and fix the spot for (what I am guess) would amount to $50 worth of work, to include the rental of a saw if it came to that.

3. Linoleum/Vinyl. Whatever. I swear it’s what was laid down when the house was built 20+ years ago. It was all scratched up when we got here, and it’s definitely a product of the 90s. Well, in the laundry room, it was coming up around the door into the garage when we moved in. My husband’s photography skills leave much to be desired because, as you can guess, you really can’t tell from his pictures that that was the case. I could make the argument that you can see it in the pictures, but I think someone else could make the argument that you can’t. Either way, 3 years later, it’s only gotten worse, and they went it replaced. Except they want it replaced with something close to what’s in there, and no one makes anything close to what’s in there. Which leaves us, for the third time, with the following scenario: 1inx6in worth of wear-and-tear/damage = replacing an entire room’s worth of flooring. At least we can replace 5 ft x 9 ft of vinyl flooring for $45. If we can find anything that is “close.”

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Yes, the cat sucks. Yes, we just so happened to be the ones living in the house when the rest of the floors went to shit. But we also didn’t request repairs of random shit over the past 3 years. We fixed the closets when all of the racks fell out of the walls. And the curtain rods (one word: studs). My husband was crawling on the roof to remove moss. We lived with 3 toilets that probably need to be replaced (and, in fact, one of them we even suggested needed to be replaced, but it wasn’t). Not having to make any repairs to a house for more than three years should count for something, at least in my mind.

But no one cares what I think, now do they?

I don’t even know what to do. Other than to avoid living in a rental property ever again, because this is like a stress nightmare I can’t escape. I just want to be sure we are doing what’s right, but without being royally screwed, ourselves. We haven’t even talked money, so this is all just me worrying and speculating. It’s pretty much what I do best (I should get paid to do it), but it really is cutting into the enjoyment that should be me giving the finger to this place as I ride off into the sunrise.