Tuesday, December 29, 2015


There are quit a few online rewards site on the internet, and prior to using Swagbucks I had exactly zero interest in using any of them. They all seemed very gimmicky and annoying. However, I was nursing Mary one afternoon and reading a blog post about a mom who uses the Swagbucks website to earn herself one $5 Starbucks a month. My tired-mother-of-two-children-ears really liked the sound of that. So I got a wild hair and decided to give it a try.

I'll cut right to the chase: I've been collecting rewards since the middle of August and am days away from cashing in on a $25 Starbucks card! You can choose from 100s of gift cards, but I only have eyes for free coffee right now.

There are many ways to earn points on Swagbucks, but I use only two: the search function, and online shopping. I've installed the Swagbucks search bar on my browser, so each time I search the internet I might be rewarded with varying amount of Swagbucks. Searching the internet is something I already do on the regular, thanks to having two small children and constantly needing to find answers to things I have no knowledge of. I shop online by visiting the Swagbucks site first and then traveling over to the site where I will do my shopping. I get rewarded with Swagbucks for spending money online that I was already planning on spending. And then sometimes if I'm on hold on the phone and super bored, I'll do the daily poll on the Swagbucks site and try to earn a few extra points while I wait.

That's it, though. Search and shop. And now I get to enjoy free money to Starbucks. It's a known fact that coffee tastes better when it's free.

I'm telling you about this because someone told me about it, and I'm glad they did. Because free coffee. 

This is my referral link: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/shansen212. If you sign up using that link, I'll earn 10% of any points you earn. Yay me, right? But also, yay you. Because you'll be well on your way to earning your own free coffee, and then you can boast to your friends about your free coffee and they can sign up and then you'll be busy earning free coffee and 10% of their points, too. Win-win!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Mary: 5 months

Mary has historically been a tough sleeper and while she did give us a reprieve for quite a few weeks, she back in another season of fussy naps and trouble going down and staying down at night. But - that's what these years with the little ones is full of and although we can do everything to set up her for good sleep, sometimes we just have to throw our hands up in the air and roll with what she's giving us. Sometimes that means bouts of crying, and other times that means someone is camped up in the nursery with her. I loveeeee when I randomly get the chance to snuggle her during one of her naps. We have a big cozy chair in her nursery and if she's having trouble sleeping during the nap she takes that coincides with Drew's afternoon nap, I quick scoot in there and scoop her up and just snuggle the daylights out of her. Although she has a true gift for picking the days I have mile-long to-do lists to tackle during their afternoon naps. Some days that makes me really frustrated at her, but the snuggles soon erase my bad mood because she is just so lovely and precious.

Mary is no longer swaddled for sleep. I'm really glad we stuck with transitioning her away from it, because it only took about a week and she was sleeping fine again without it. Our hope was that she would use the access to her hands to self-soothe, but it turns out she still just really likes her pacifier. She usually wakes once in the early night between 10pm-12am, and that when we go in and roll her over onto her tummy. We have a breathing pad set up under her mattress that would sound an alarm if she stopped breathing, so we feel comfortable rolling her over at this point. She clearly much prefers to sleep on her tummy, and she can roll over onto her back if she gets tired of her tummy. She's almost able to roll back to tummy, too, which will be really nice! We say that she "sleeps through the night" because she doesn't wake for feedings anymore; she only wakes if she's lost her paci and wants it back. The paci is a sleep prop we're okay with keeping around for right now because it works like magic to put her to sleep and that is really important to me during the day when I have Drew to look after too.

Her 4 month appointment went great. She's medium weight for her age, but super tall. Hello Hansen genes!

Nursing and bottle feeding before bedtime are going great. Right now she nurses every 4 hours during the day, and we just started adding in some oatmeal cereal at each mealtime with the family. The other night I unearthed all my materials for making and freezing baby food and got batches of sweet potato and butternut squash pureed and into the freezer for future use. Felt good to get that knocked out now before the holidays.

Mary is almost sitting up by herself; she can hold the position for a few seconds before tipping over. I know that once she can sit by herself that will unlock a whole new level of playtime abilities. Right now she does some independent play on a play mat on top of our bed every morning, and I plan to move that to a pack n play in our room once she can sit up and get better leverage with her toys.

This holiday season with her in our family is sure sweet. She's definitely more social than Drew; just today she skipped most of her naps (much to my dismay!) and hardly fussed at all until right before bedtime. She just wanted to be up and hanging out with us! I warned her that would not fly long-term - babies need their sleep!

We had a really fun little photo shoot this month - she's such a little muffin in front of the camera!

And here's one of Drew from 5 months old, just for fun :-)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Guest Post: The Myth of the Breastfeeding Diet


It's BFBN Guest Post Day and today I'm really excited about this guest post from Emily at The Journey of Parenthood. Below Emily shares about the myth that all women loose weight while breastfeeding. I couldn't wait to read this post, as I am currently breastfeeding my 5 month old and my body has clearly and un-apologetically decided it's done shedding weight for the time being. You might remember at the time of the last guest post, I shared that I wasn't really a fan of the breastfeeding experience but that I do it because I am able to. Well - the Lord has really changed my heart about that! Over the past two months I've grown to cherish breastfeeding my baby, and plan to continue doing so past my original goal of 6 months. That means, however, that I will be wearing my postpartum "transition" clothes a bit longer than I had planned. So Emily's post is very timely for me right now. Our bodies are meant to be used, not preserved. So to that end, I'm using mine to sustain my baby - and embracing this squishy season before it's gone too fast.

If you like Emily's post below, be sure to also check out her recent post about losing the baby weight once you're done breastfeeding.

Preparing to nurse for the first time? These are my favorite nursing products.

And PS: today I'm sharing over at Team Cartwright about what goals to focus when bringing baby home.


It is awesome to see how well supported breastfeeding mothers our in society today! Women nurse in public with less shame and more support. Women pump during office hours and aren't hassled as often about the time away from their desks. Breastfeeding is becoming more and more common (According to the CDC, 45% of all mothers in 2008 were still breastfeeding at 6 months).

It's wonderful that breastfeeding mothers are getting more support. Breastfeeding is not easy. Let's be real, even if you formula feed motherhood is not easy! Being a new mom is scary. There is so much pressure. You have this little baby in your arms that completely and fully relies on YOU for everything. It's all so new and it's such huge adjustment that literally affects every aspect of your life.

How about we quit adding extra pressure to new moms? I can't even count the number of times as a new mom that I heard "Breastfeeding is awesome! It'll make the baby weight just fall off!" I'm not saying people don't mean well. I know it's a common thing that is said by people as well as published in our media outlets. Breastfeeding = Natures Best Diet Plan.

Except. It isn't.

Check out this from the La Leche League Site:
The Subcommittee on Nutrition During Lactation reports "On average, lactating women who eat to appetite lose weight at the rate of 0.6 to 0.8 kg (1.3 to 1.6 pounds) per month in the first 4 to 6 months, but there is a wide variation in the weight loss experience of lactating women (some women gain weight during lactation). Those who continue breastfeeding beyond 4 to 6 months ordinarily continue to lose weight, but at a slower rate than during the first 4 to 6 months."

Shocking huh? Let's break that down:

1. "lactating women who eat to appetite" - Is that majority of lactating women? Because I know personally I tend to eat more while I'm nursing. I get cravings that are almost worse than pregnancy ones and you know none of them are for healthy things like salad. The secret to staying awake for those middle of the night nursing sessions? Cosmic Brownies. So let's be real, a lot of nursing moms are eating "above appetite.

2. "lose weight at the rate of 1.3 - 1.6 lbs per month in the first 4-5 months" - I'm not trying to speak for everyone but I know I had a LOT more weight to lose than just a couple pounds after I gave birth to my babies. And losing 1-2 lbs per month sure as heck isn't "the weight falling off" either!

3. "there is a wide variation in the weight loss experience of lactating women" - So sure. Some women may lose more than that average 1-2 lbs per month. Some.

4. "some women gain weight during lactation" - There is the kicker! Guys. Not everyone has the weight "fall off" and not everyone even loses weight at all while nursing. Some people, they gain weight during the time they are breastfeeding.

5. "those who continue breastfeeding beyond 4-6 months ordinarily continue to lose weight, but at a slower rate than during the first 4-6 months" - I nursed my last baby for 13 ½ months. IF I had followed the average weight loss for a nursing mom then I "should have" lost maybe 15 lbs. Which isn't bad but losing 15 lbs over a 13 ½ month span of time is FAR from the weight "falling off" due to breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is an amazing way to feed our babies. It's best for them, and an incredible experience for us as their mothers. The bond created during breastfeeding is something that nothing else can come close to comparing to. There are endless benefits to breastfeeding that benefit both mommy and baby. However, weight loss shouldn't be focused on so much in our culture. So often the "breastfeeding diet" is listed as one of the top motivations to breastfeed. Telling new moms that they will have their baby weight just disappear is unfair. It puts added pressure on a woman who already feels so much pressure. Let her enjoy the postpartum period. Let her figure out her path as a new mom. Let her accept that her body won't ever be the same and that that's okay. One day she will stop nursing that baby and when she does she can then figure out the best path to lose that baby weight.

For me personally, my body holds weight while nursing. I've come to learn that many women are like me! The more babies I have (I have 3) and the older I get (I'm now 31) and the longer I nurse (each baby I nurse longer than the one before) the more weight I hold onto and the more I struggle with losing it while breastfeeding. Every time I get pregnant I tell myself I'm not going to get wrapped up in the pressure of trying to lose the weight while I'm nursing but every time I find myself right back there. Looking in the mirror and hating what I see. Lacking the confidence I usually have. Feeling just straight icky about myself. When what I should be doing is enjoying my new baby. Savoring those nursing cuddles. And not letting the "breastfeeding diet" make me stress over what the scale says.

If you meet a new mom and find out she's breastfeeding please build her up. Give her words of encouragement. Remind her she's doing a great thing. And maybe even add a compliment in there about how great she looks. Because motherhood is beautiful and a few (or 10 or 20) extra pounds while breastfeeding our babies doesn't make us any less beautiful.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Family Blog

If you're a friend or family member - keep reading! If you're following along for the Babywise tips and resources, you'll want to skip this post.

Family and friends: I've moved all of the posts about our family life over to a new blog. The new blog is located here: hansenfamily.givingitgrace.com (if you click on that link and get an error site, try refreshing your browser page). This new family blog is where I'll be posting pictures from family events and updates on the kids. All of the existing family blog posts have already been moved over to the family blog, and I'll post any new family content on that blog moving forward.

So, to recap: Family blog is now at hansenfamily.givingitgrace.com

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Hansen life: November

I know this is predictable, but November flew by. I blinked and it was over. I think part of that happens when you are anticipating a holiday that falls toward the end of the month; the whole month leads up to that holiday and then the holiday happens and the month is over and it feels like it all happened with the span of a week.

Our month was smattered the usual variety of life with small children: doctor appointments, play dates, grocery shopping trips, visiting family, etc. Really the best part of the month was Thanksgiving weekend because we get to spend so much time together as a family!

Enjoying some garage/outside play while the weather still allowed for it. We've been having fun with boxes lately! 
Pretend airplane box
I took Drew on a mama + son day date to the Everett Children's Museum. Paid and arm and a leg to get in, and he wanted to spend the entire time at the train table which is just a larger version of what we have at home. Toddlers - ugh!

Finally pulled him away from the train table long enough to watch the motorized miniature train
The water room was fun!
These two are best buddies. Drew's new thing is dictating to papa what to draw and then he sits and watches.

I got to volunteer at the Night of Rest gala. Last year Kyle and I attended as guests, but this year I wanted to give my time and help out. They raised over $300K that night! Sadly, my night got cut short when I got a call from Kyle that Drew's arm was hurting and I needed to come home to take him to the ER (per the on-call doctor's orders).

Turns out Drew's elbow was partially dislocated from some roughhousing with papa earlier in the night. The ER doctor just popped it back into place and Drew was good as new!

The next weekend Kyle and I got to attend a fundraising gala for Hope for Life Ministries with some of Kyle's cousins. It was a fun night raising money with some really great people!

This month I started a new tradition of us making our own pizza on Saturday nights. Drew gets to help with the sauce and toppings and so far it's been a fun thing to do together as a family.

My view when I'm nursing sweet Mary.
Drew holding still and smiling for the camera - a rare sight!
Parenting hack - Mary transitioned perfectly from the car to inside the house in her car seat with her hat over her eyes. This was an accident, but it worked great!

This year we packed a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse. I hope to do this every year moving forward, and involve the kids in the process as they get older.

Mary's first pony tail!

I offered to watch my girlfriend's kiddos so she and her husband could have a date night. Our other friend came over with her own two kids to help me watch all the kids. We had four boys and two girls ages 3 years to 4 months. It was a chaotic but really fun night with all the kids! This is me reading all the boys some stories while my friend cleaned up some of the chaos.

We spent one Saturday up at Warm Beach visiting my grandparents. They love our kiddos and are so sweet with them. My gram is such a hostess, always having yummy food and desserts for everyone. We got to sit and listen to my grandparents reflect on some of the details of their lives, and it was really precious. My grandpa has served his God, his country, and his family well. My grandma is selfless on a level that is hard to match. They are really wonderful people and I cherish them both.

Drew likes scrumming around the property!

Drew's starting to get into playing dress up. First order of business is of course influencing him to pretend to be a cowboy!

Found Drew "playing" brushing his teeth. I love that his idea of "play" is good dental hygiene.

Mary at Thanksgiving with cousin Addie and Auntie Julie
Kyle and I stole away for a day date at the Apple Cup game!

The sun was shinning!

Hansen sibling crew!

Over Thanksgiving weekend, Edmonds does a great little tree lighting ceremony. We went down early and rode the Holiday Trolley around town.

Family pic!

Then we had a quick donut at the Edmonds Bakery.

Next we stopped by the bookstore.

Then we gathered to sing carols before the lighting of the tree.

Santa shows up on a real firetruck, so we didn't get to see the tree lighting because once the firetruck showed up that was all Drew cared about. Which was fine by me! His smile was so huge when he saw the firetruck! They leave the truck out and let the kids climb all over it. So fun!

Then we grabbed dinner at El Puerto and Mary kept us entertained with her cuteness.

And Drew...well, it's really hard for toddlers to sit still at restaurants so he did a lot of sitting on dad's lap!
Trying to get a good family photo for our Christmas card

Mary was not having it!

Classic siblings already - they love each other, really!
The afternoon we spent down in Edmonds is one of my favorite times of the year. I love our little town and my little family. There was a time in my life when I was worried I would never get married, let alone have children. Then there were more times in my life when I was married and we were struggling to get and stay pregnant. So these afternoons spent together as a family are really, really meaningful to me. I thank God for these people he has blessed me with every day!