The Care and Feeding of a Nursing Mother

I’m realizing that the amount of milk I make for Greta seems really dependent on the amount of oatmeal I eat. I know that oatmeal is a galactogogue, and also one of my favorite breakfasts, but it’s funny to realize that when I don’t eat it for breakfast, I pump much less. I also take Fenugreek supplements, which provide a little boost as well, but not as much of a boost as I’d like. Fenugreek has the unexpected consequence of reducing my appetite for tasty treats.

Anyone else out there have ways of making more milk that don’t involve power pumping? I really only find the time in my workday to pump twice, and then I pump after Greta goes to sleep, but it’s barely enough to send with her to daycare.
If only chocolate chip cookies and decaf tea were also milk-stimulating. I’d be all set.

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Hunkering Down

Snow falling on...eastern white pine.

Snow beginning to fall - can you see it?

We are in the midst of a winter storm, although it seems not to be the snowpocalypse that was predicted – just swirling snow and howling winds.  I spent the morning preparing for a potential power outage anyhow – I baked fresh bread, made a big pot of stew, washed all our laundry, and cleaned up the house.  Now I’ve got nothing left to do but craft and read.  Jim spent the better part of the afternoon helping our neighbor fix our snowblower, and I’m so glad we will have the luxury of not shoveling our driveway tomorrow.  I have a feeling it was good for him to learn how to fix a small engine, and it was nice to have the house to myself.  My goal was not to leave the house, and while I did end up making two excursions off our property, I also spent the majority of the day in domestic pursuits.  Yay!

Welcome, New Year!

Merry Christmas from the Santa BananaIt’s a happy, snowy new year at the Flanagan household.  We rang in the new year last night with some friends at a low-key party with a pajama dress code,  a movie lineup that included Airplane and Blues Brothers, and a menu that inlcuded baked brie and eggplant parm.  If there is a better way to start a year, I don’t want to know about it, because I just had a wonderful time.

I think for many people, this past decade has not been their best, but for me, it’s been a pretty seminal decade – my entire adult life so far happened in the last 10 years.  I went to college and graduate school, I met the love of my life and got married, I found a career path and got a great job, I’ve made a lot of good friends and have divested myself of many unhealthy relationships, we bought a house and adopted two wonderful cats, and I’ve discovered many passions, including cooking, knitting, and homebrewing.  I’ve been very lucky this decade, and I have great expectations for the next.

View from my back door!This past year my parents bought the house right behind ours.  This photo is the view from my back door – it’s snowing out, so it’s not the crispest.  It’s nice to know they are up there.  This morning they came down to help us with our snowblower, and it’s nice to know we can help them out going forward, making sure they don’t work too hard mowing their lawn or shoveling their driveway.  Having a close support network is important to me, and I think the value to our family of close proximity is impossible to forecast, but I look forward to taking care of my parents as they age, having my children really know their grandparents as people, and being able to pool resources, among other benefits.

This next year holds a lot for me.  Most majorly, I’m chairing the committee to plan the Maine Library Association Annual Conference, which this year will be held in October at the Samoset.  That will be a major professional challenge, and I’m looking forward to devoting more and more time to it as the date approaches.  I think it’s going to feel very good to have that under my belt, and I hope to prove myself worthy of the trust that’s been placed in me.

One of my goals for the coming year is to articulate my opinions on books and beer.  I have been a member of goodreads for a couple of years, and have enjoyed rating books, keeping track of books I want to read, and seeing what my friends are reading.  In 2010, I want to start reviewing the books I read.  In 2009, I read 79 books – in 2010 I’d like to read 80 and review each one.  This evening should be a good one for reading.  I also joined Beer Advocate, and I reviewd my first beer this afternoon.  Jim and I seek out interesting and delicious beers, but I have made no effort to keep track of what we have.  Reviewing some of these great brews will not only help me remember what we try, but should go a long way toward refining my ability to describe beer and identify flavors.  Many of the other goals I have for this year are more personal, but if I keep up with the blog like I always mean to, I will share more as the year goes by.  I would like to start using this blog as a means of personal expression and as a way to keep in touch with friends who are near and far.  Reconnect and reflect are my among my blog goals.

Knitting Break (not in a good way)

I’ve had to give knitting a break for a couple of days – I overextended my right thumb, probably shelving books, and then knit for many many hours this weekend, which added to the pain.  When I started working as a librarian, my coworkers advised me to avoid picking up stacks of books with one hand.  Most of them have had a thumb injury at one time or another, and know from experience how easy it is to overextend.  Being a bit younger than everyone else I work with, and feeling myself invincible, I promptly overextended my thumb anyhow.  Lesson learned, I try to avoid picking up more than two books at a time.  Fast forward to late last week, I was trying to unload a book truck as quickly as possible, was picking up 4 or 5 hardcover books at a time, and overextended.  Nothing serious, just enough to keep me from knitting.  Good story, eh?

We picked up a bag of white whole wheat flour this week to experiment with.  It has more fiber than white flour, slightly less than regular whole wheat flour, and is pretty light in color.  I made our bread this week with half whole wheat / half white flour, and while there is a detectable difference in flavor, there is no difference in texture.  Yay!  Just as moist and delicious as regular white bread!  Whole wheat bread is less sweet, which is probably why most recipes call for honey instead of sugar, and more of it at that.  I’ll probably try honey this week, unless we decide to just eat bread that’s less sweet.  I’ll probably eat less as snacks.  It does taste fine made into a sandwich.

I’ve agreed to work this Saturday, which means 6 days of working in a row.  I’ve gotten old and grown soft, so it will probably be a long week for me, although I expect no sympathy – not only are there tons of people out there who regularly work 6 or 7 day weeks, but I’m lucky I even have a single job that pays all the bills.

Fresh Bread

For the last few months, Jim and I have not been purchasing bread to make sandwiches from.  Instead, once or twice a week, I bake bread.  I use Betty Crocker’s white bread recipe.  I also make other kinds of bread for occasions other than sandwiches.  I make focaccia, big artisanal-looking loaves, and once I made a raisin and walnut loaf.  I have been drooling over a sundried tomato and olive loaf recipe.

Making bread is a bit of work, but the resulting bread is so much tastier and more filling than the sliced bread we’d been buying.  It smells good while it’s cooking, it tastes amazing hot out of the oven, and it makes me feel connected to centuries of women who have baked bread using exactly the same techniques that I use.  It also takes up a big part of a day, makes a huge mess of my kitchen, and gets stale after a few days.

So worth it.