I made the switch to a menstrual cup and I couldn’t be happier!

I can’t remember the last time I was excited about getting my period. Probably not since getting it for the first time, and perhaps a few other times when I had a pregnancy “scare”.  I got my first period at 13 and in the beginning I used pads exclusively. It wasn’t until many years later that I dared to use tampons. I remember hearing a lot of negative things about tampon users. If you used a tampon that meant you’d had sex! It was the only way one of those would fit up there. Another myth was that using a tampon would “break” your hymen and thus you’d be losing your virginity to a cotton cylinder.

Periods always felt a little taboo and being on your period was a closely guarded secret. I remember keeping a pad in my skirt pocket for easy and discreet trips to the bathroom. Opening the crinkly suckers stealthily was almost impossible and I remember opening the packaging painstakingly slow in order to reduce the sound. It sounds so silly now as an adult but that was my experience as a teen. We need only look at advertising to know that we have a very warped view of periods. I am sure most of us remember ads depicting blue liquid being poured over a pad. Blue.

The first time I heard about a menstrual cup I was intrigued. The Diva cup seemed like such an amazing product to me but I was not ready to try it. For one thing the sizing guide made no sense to me and I wasn’t sure that being so hands on with my period was palatable. I continued using disposable pads and tampons with no ill effects. The one thing that weighed on my mind was all of the trash generated by these products.

Last year I had a baby and I nursed him for 14 months. I did not have a period for most of that time. I had my first post-partum period this past April. I used the same pads I had been using before getting pregnant but this time I developed some irritation on my vulva. It sort of burned off and on. As soon as I stopped using the pads the irritation ceased. The following month I had a very light 3 day period and I had the same experience when using pads. I was annoyed at this and started looking into cups again.

I found Bryony of Precious Star Pads on YouTube and I fell down a rabbit hole of videos. Her channel has a lot of information about cloth pads and cups, how to care for them, how to make your own pads and where to buy them. She has her own online shop where you can order pads, cups, and a variety of other period products. Her channel also features period vlogs which I think are wonderful showcases of her life while on her period. She’s a great advocate of period positivity and is not shy about showing real blood on the products she demonstrates. I have learned a lot from watching her channel.

Another great resource if you’re thinking about making the switch to menstrual cups is Put A Cup in It. I watched a lot of videos about inserting a cup, removing a cup, and what cup is best for who. After extensive research I decided on the Lena Cup. I ordered from Amazon for about $25. I also ordered some cloth pads for about $16 for a set of 6. Admittedly these are not the best choice as they are not topped with cotton but they do the job and have allowed me to try out and fall in love with cloth pads. I don’t see myself going back to disposables but I will keep some on hand as I live in Florida and we are currently in hurricane season. Disposable period products definitely have their place in the world and I am thankful they exist!

During the past week I have been talking to people about making the switch and one of the most common questions I get is what do you do with soiled pads. I keep mine in a wet bag and so far I have laundered them once mid cycle and will do so again tomorrow on what should be my last day. Because I have mostly used the cup I haven’t used a pad all the time so I was able to stretch out the 6 pads I have. When I’m ready to wash them I empty the bag into the washing machine and toss it in as well, add some oxygen bleach and unscented detergent and run the cycle. Once done I do an additional spin cycle before setting them out on a drying rack. So far I don’t have any stains on them. Oh, and the pads don’t really smell while in the bag. I’m sure if I put my nose to one I’d smell blood but they don’t have the odor that disposables develop.

The cup is probably the hardest sell for a lot of people because it requires you to reach inside your vagina. Some people can’t do this and that’s okay! If you’re comfortable with your body and aren’t squeamish about blood a cup might be for you. For me it was fascinating to see how much I bleed. Since the cup collects blood rather than absorbing it like a tampon you get to see the volume. I was surprised to learn that I did not bleed as much as I thought I did.

There is of course so much more to say about reusable menstrual products and I will write more about the Lena Cup in a separate post. For now I wanted to share my good tidings after my initial foray into the world of menstrual cups and cloth pads.

Wishing you good menstrual health and a happy period.





My baby weaned himself

It feel a little strange writing here again. I have been away for a long time but I missed writing posts. I wanted to come back and share what I am currently experiencing as I don’t see much about this aspect of nursing. When I had my first baby he spent more than a week in the NICU and as a result I mostly pumped even though I also tried nursing him for months. He preferred the bottle. Almost 5 years later I had my second baby and this time I was able to nurse him from the moment he was born. What a totally different experience! I cannot explain how amazing it was to get to experience everything I had wanted to do the first time around but couldn’t.

Nursing is hard. I want to reiterate that because it’s often glossed over. Choosing to nurse is a commitment. It is NOT easy, it is NOT something we are born knowing how to do. Sure, we know that we need to put our nipple in the baby’s mouth but really, the baby needs to have most of the areola in their mouth to effectively feed. Breastfeeding is a skill. My biggest struggle with nursing was lack of sleep. I was so incredibly tired the first few months. I considered giving up because the idea of having my husband take a few night feedings was very tempting. And you know what? That’s totally fair! Had I done that I would be no less of a mother for it. But I’m also lazy and cleaning bottles etc was not appealing. Plus, I really wanted to exclusively nurse.

Did I? Nope. I pumped for a few months and created a nice little stash for myself. This allowed me to do things like leave the house on my own during the day. I also kept formula on hand for when I didn’t have thawed milk at the ready. For me it wasn’t about supplementing, I produced plenty of milk, it was about convenience.

My goal was to nurse him for at least six months but my real goal was to make it to a year. After the first 3 months we were cruising along. At 4 months he was sleeping 8-10 hours a night and by 5 months he slept a solid 12 hours. I always nursed him on demand but he developed a schedule. Once he started solids he dropped a few nursing sessions and for a few months he was nursing 3-4 times a day. After he turned 1 he was nursing 2-3 times a day. I was planning to keep going until he decided he didn’t want to nurse any more.

I was ready for it to happen so soon. A few weeks ago re refused his bedtime nursing session. I was a little surprised and mildly concerned that he was starting to wean but the following morning he nursed. His nursing sessions had become shorter and he was easily distracted so I figured this could be it. That night he again refused the breast. I knew then that he was telling me that he was ready. I wasn’t but since the day he was born I have let him lead the way in our nursing relationship and I needed to listen to him  one last time.

The next morning I got him from his crib and instead of snuggling on our nursing chair we went straight to the kitchen. He did not complain. He ate his breakfast and never asked for milk.

I have cried a lot since that day. It has been a bittersweet transition. What a privilege and an honor I have had. It’s denied to so many. I am grateful for the 14 months of breastfeeding that we shared. I will treasure them always.

What I was not prepared for was the hormone crash of 2018. I have been on quite a ride. From hot flashes to an uptick in my anxiety and panic attacks. I am off kilter. I cry every day over nothing. I am constantly emotional. Some days are better than others and I am ready to go see my doctor if things don’t improve within the next month, but I am positive that I’m going to be okay. After 2 glorious years without a period I had one in April and I think those hormones are in the process of leveling out as well.

So, as my body recovers from two years of pregnancy, nursing and everything in between  I want to share my experience because I was not expecting this. Hormones are powerful and right now I am at their mercy. I take comfort in knowing that I was able to nourish my baby.

I don’t have any solutions to offer but I hope that if you’re struggling after weaning that you know you’re not alone and that it’s normal to feel sad. For more information about all things breastfeeding related including weaning visit KellyMom.

I can’t keep quiet

My head has been swimming with thoughts lately. I have usually taken a very mild mannered approach to what I share on Facebook. I try to stay away from controversy, I watch what I say and how I say it because I never want to be unkind to anybody I’m friends with. I know that I have friends who think very differently from me, whose life experiences inform a worldview that is very different than my own. I know I have friends for whom racism, homophobia and mysogyny are nothing more than social justice buzzwords that are used by the politically correct. I know this. It hurts me, on occasion makes me angry, but I know this.

I can’t stay silent in order to be more palatable to friends, or anybody really. Silence is violence and in the wake of so much horrible discourse I feel a moral responsibility to speak out against it. Donald Trump is a bigot. Nobody can tell me otherwise. His vitriol makes him ineligible for the highest office in our country and I am of the opinion that if you somehow still think he would make a good president despite all of the racist and sexist things he has consistently said then you’re a bigot, too. I don’t understand why it is not okay to call a duck a duck. People need to own the fact that we have many problems within our country and a lot of them start off as problems within ourselves.

People, individuals, make up our demography. Once upon a time I used to believe a lot of things. Things I was brought up with, things I had never questioned. Things that would probably have me acting like the Orlando shooting is a Kumbaya moment instead of a moment to reflect on our gun legislation (relevant) and the anti-lgbt rhetoric and legislation. We cultivate hate, we other people, and then we arm them.

I will not stand by in silence as the GOP candidate congratulates himself on “being right” and uses this tragedy to spread Islamophobia. I will not stay quiet when I see people spread misinformation simply because it fits in with their agenda. I take issue with the simplifying of issues, I take issue with the lack of research that people seem to accept as the new normal. Before saying anything on an issue can we please do our due diligence and make sure we actually know what we are talking about? It is so harmful to spout off at the mouth, as I’ve seen people do about the shooter in Orlando, rather than look at the actual facts: US citizen, born here, non-practicing Muslim.

I have seen people call for Muslims to apologize and do something about the “radicals” among them. I don’t see these same people say anything about the KKK or about the pastor who celebrated the Orlando shooting by saying they deserved it. Why do we hold all Muslims accountable for the actions of a few but we don’t demand the same of our Christian counterparts? I for one do not expect or believe it is the responsibility of my Muslims friends to respond to this tragedy (unless they want to and feel safe in doing so) firstly because they’re not responsible but also because I understand the fear that they must feel every time something like this happens. The hate that gets dispersed like dust particles when you slap a dusty cushion infects the air. It is dangerous for Muslims now.

I wish that being kind solved problems. I try to approach everyone with kindness, even when I disagree. I love people, I love my friends. I accept people as they are and for who they are. No strings attached. Love shouldn’t preclude us from calling out problems. I believe we can do better, collectively. I believe that I shouldn’t have to listen to racist remarks at work because people assume I will cosign their garbage, or because they mean to cause me discomfort. I don’t know which. If people knew about my black heritage (my grandfather was black) would they still tell me that “black people take all the welfare” or that the school they’re zoned into is 70% black and they don’t want their kids around black people? These are things said to me in the past few months. In 2016. We have work to do. I intend to be part of the solution and for me that solution does not involve pretending racism doesn’t exist or that calling it out is rude/inappropriate.

To my LGBT and Muslim friends, I hold you in my heart. You are loved. You are seen.




Dewey’s Readathon: A few thoughts

I first learned about Dewey’s two years ago. It was by pure chance (and luck) that I participated in my first readathon. I loved it. I found my people! My book people. I remember being amazed at the organization, and I was happily shocked at the different mini challenges and prizes. It made me feel grateful that a large group of people could convene online for 24 hours and give freely of their time and resources. The readathon isn’t free. Some of us spend real money on it. And that’s great! Last year I hosted a mini challenge and gave away two books. I loved it!

Since my first readathon I have sought to become more involved. Giving back to the community is something I find joy in and the readathon organizers (especially Andi) welcomed me with open arms. This year life threw me for a loop as I found myself on a surprise beach getaway during the readathon. I adjusted my sails and found ways to participate anyway. I wasn’t able to host a mini challenge because I missed the deadline to sign up and my attempt at a rogue challenge didn’t pan out, haha. But I did contribute a warm-up post and I did some #teamrogue cheering on Twitter. I even read a page or two. So for me the readathon was a success. I didn’t participate as much as I have in the past and I am sure I missed a ton of great posts but the hashtags are still there and I look forward to taking some time during the week to go through them.

Last night I was shocked to learn that there are people who come out of the readathon and complain about it. Not enough prizes, not enough cheering. Andi wrote a great post about this entitlement within our community. It’s not unique to the readathon but I want to discuss it as it pertains to this event. It is unfortunate that some people feel anything other than happiness post readathon. As I said on Twitter, you get what you put in. Engaging the community is fun and interactive. It’s a two way conversation. I get a lot out of the readathon because I engage, I respond to tweets, I comment on Instagram pics, and I read blog posts.

I love reading blog posts during the readathon but those are probably the most difficult to cheer for because often people forget to enable comments, or they forget to disable captcha code verification. It’s a lot easier to cheer on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. My suggestion is to share your link on social media and use the readathon hashtag. I totally read some blogs and responded to them through a tweet.

Cheerleading during the readathon might go the way of the dodo. A huge part of me hopes that it doesn’t as I LOVE doing it but regardless of how it is organized in the future I will be here cheering it on! I’ll also #teamrogue no matter what but that’s just me 😉 There were some great ideas being thrown around on Twitter last night but I think the most important suggestion is that we all take it upon ourselves to interact with the community. We cannot sit back and expect people to come to us. If you want to hear from fellow readers go out there and talk to them! 🙂

As the readathon continues to grow in size I think it’s important that participants keep in mind that there are real people behind the scenes. People who love the readathon, people who love Dewey and this is their way of honoring her memory and keeping it alive. Realistic expectations means that anything beyond reading during the readathon is the cherry on a sundae. If you participate for the prizes, or blog hits you will find that leveraging the community for selfish reasons is not the best use of your time.

Until next time Readathon, I will see you in October!




Readathon Kids: the rogue challenge 

So I totally dropped the ball on everything and didn’t submit my challenge in time. Boo. I figured there’s no reason I can’t put it out there anyway! 

I love the idea of including kids and childrens’ books so I invite you all to share your favorite childrens’ book, quote, illustration or picture. Basically share something related. Does your little have their own stack? Show me! Leave a comment below or link up. I’ll be looking out for the hashtag too. #readathonkids 

I’ll be choosing two winners and the prizes are mysteries for now but they’ll be similar to last years. I gave away a copy of A Wrinkle in Time so I’ll be doing something in the same vein. 

Okay. The sun is hot and the pool is calling. 

It’s the readathon!

I have been excited about this readathon since the last one was over and over the months as my life changed in huge ways I became even more excited. Today I planned to lay on the couch and read as much as I could while also cheering and hosting a mini challenge. Well, I don’t think I ever signed up for a mini challenge  and I’m nowhere near my couch. My husband surprised me with a getaway to a local resort. I’ll be poolside and beachside all day today. He did pack me my kindle so I will definitely read but my readathon activities will definitely be slightly different. I can’t complain. It’s the best surprise ever! 

Watch out for a rogue mini challenge from me. I will be giving away some books 🙂 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful readathon. I will be seeing you around!

Book Fridays: Change is coming

This isn’t a post about books but books are in my heart as I write it. That counts, right?

I accepted a job! After 4 years of staying home I am going back into an office. I am excited and nervous. How will I cope with so much change? I feel fortunate to have been able to spend as much time as I have with Diego but I feel that the time is right to move things along to the next step. We enrolled him in a wonderful preschool part-time at the beginning of the year. I was extremely anxious about it but a few months later I am now ready to hand him over full time. It is always a beneficial reminder that I am able to adapt and carry on. Routines change, as they must, and we find ways of making things work.

Child care is expensive. When we initially set out to find a preschool for Diego we were shocked at the cost. As I was searching for a job another horrifying question kept cropping up: how do people afford it? There are a lot of jobs down here that want to pay $10 or less. That is not enough to live off. After child care expenses it doesn’t leave much at all. And if you have more than one child you could see that entire paycheck go. My husband and I have no family nearby who could care for our son so we absolutely have to place him somewhere. When I started job hunting I was dismayed at the listings and how little they offered even as they required more than just a high school diploma. Don’t they know that we have student loans? It’s tough out there.

I was lucky to interview at several places and receive several offers. Some were not matches for me but yesterday I interviewed at a lovely company which I am very excited to work for. After a few weeks of endless scrolling, cover letter writing, and applying I am finally on the other side. I have a lot to do this weekend, plans to make, menus to plan, outfits to pick out. I have never worked and been a mom at the same time. I know this will challenge me and cause me to grow. Organization will be key in keeping me grounded and balanced but planning for all of that stresses me out. I’ve spent more time stating off into space pondering my list than actually getting things done. Tomorrow I hope to get my butt in gear.

As I wrote previously, my job search threw a wrench in my reading this month and I am not sure when I will get back into the groove again. I am going to return my two unread library books (as much as it pains me) and pick them up again at a later date when my mind is settled and I can enjoy them. I’m not sure when I will blog regularly again but I hope to not be away for too long (or at all!).

I wanted to take a moment to thank my neighbor who very kindly watched my son on two separate occasions so that I could go on interviews. I am indebted to her and so very grateful for her kindness and graciousness. Often it is when we feel most alone and overwhelmed that we discover people right next to us who make a difference and offer a helping hand. All we need to do is ask.

My friend Angela and fellow job hunter read over my resume and encouraged me to list all the things I do for my parents’ business on my resume. I had not thought to do this for some reason. Maybe because I do it from home and only for a couple of hours a week. Whatever the reason I was selling myself short. I believe that adding that to my resume is what got me the job. So thank you for being my cheerleader and partner in crime. Many a night we stayed up late sharing our job search woes and lifting each other up when one of us was down in the dumps.

My C-Queens and personal fan club, thank you for always being willing to listen and cheer me on. Thank you for celebrating every little thing with me. I love you guys so much.

And to my husband for being such a wonderful provider all these years.


Book Fridays: Falling behind

After taking part in BBAW I found myself inspired. I had a lot of good ideas for my blog  and I was excited to dive into writing. As it often happens life got hectic and in an unprecedented turn of events I am now looking at the very real possibility of going back to work full time. I have spent the past two weeks looking at job listings, applying for jobs and even going to a couple of interviews. I am distracted, excited and anxious about these changes I am about to make to my life. My reading has suffered and even though I have plenty of books to talk about I find myself unable to find the words.

Blogging is something that I love and so I try to keep it stress free. Sometimes it’s just not happening and this is one such time. My mind is running constantly, obsessing over jobs I’ve applied to and hope to hear back from. I cannot quiet it down enough so that reading is a possibility. In turn, this lack of reading stresses me out as well. I miss my books. I am in the middle of Six of Crows which I am loving so far. I hope to pick it up again this weekend and get the ball rolling.

The prospect of going back to work got me thinking about how I will balance work, home, and books once I find myself employed. Of course I know that having a job doesn’t mean you can’t read but it’s been so long since I didn’t have all the time in the world that it scares me a little to think that going back to work means I will no longer be spending Wednesday afternoons at the library. The established routines around my reading habits will change.

My prediction is that it will take me a couple of months to find my groove. Perhaps it will take longer. I did not know when I would go back to work. I knew that I wanted to, eventually, but the timeline was fluid. The time feels right and so I am going with that. There is a lot to figure out and extra expenses to consider (enrolling Diego full-time at his preschool and getting an additional car for me) but things are happening. I’ve actually been taking steps which means that this isn’t theoretical. This is happening. Change is coming!



BBAW Day 5: Keeping it fresh

One of the unfortunate side effects of reading and blogging like rockstars seems to be a tendency toward burnout. How do you keep things fresh on your blog and in your reading?

Blogging about books and reading is how I saved my blog. When I started blogging I did so as a way to share my experiences as a new mom. It was almost a diary that I shared with friends and family. Eventually I got bored and I started sharing recipes and food photos. Once I started doing that I still felt like I hadn’t found my blogging niche. I wanted to write and share on my blog and so I kept switching things up until I started Book Fridays. That really changed my blogging inspiration. I already loved to read and did a lot of it. Sharing seemed like the next logical step.

Sometimes life gets hectic and I take a break. Or sometimes I just don’t feel like fulfilling this self imposed commitment. When the muse strikes again I schedule as many posts as I can and go from there. For me blogging is about fun. I do it mostly for myself and honestly the biggest motivator has to be internal in order to blog long term. If your sole reason for blogging is to make money or receive external validation you will quickly learn that those are not enough to keep you going. Cultivating an audience takes time. For most bloggers it doesn’t happen overnight and once you do have an audience consistency is key.

I’ve mentioned several times how I often feel that I am blogging into the void. That has a tendency to come across as a sad thing but it really is not. Sure, some days I wish my posts encouraged lively discussion in the comments but like I said above I blog for me. I blog because I love to write and to challenge myself to keep up with something I started for myself. Many times I have been tempted to throw in the towel but then I take stock of all the things I’ve done and learned through blogging and I stay.

Keeping things fresh includes writing about more than just the books I’ve read. I like to throw in some posts about books I’ve picked up for my son as well as posts about bookish topics. When it comes to my blog I have only one rule: there are no rules. I will write about whatever strikes my fancy. Whatever inspires me, enrages me or simply causes me to feel inclined to write. I think it’s important that your blog be a space for YOU. I consider my blog a sort of living room where friends can sit awhile and get to know me.


BBAW Day 4: Community

 How do you stay connected to the community? 

Blogging can be a very lonely endeavor which is why Twitter is such a great place to keep up to date with what’s going on. I find it easier to interact on Twitter although I do enjoy commenting on blog posts (my goal this year is to do a lot more of it). When I first started writing about books I did not put myself out there beyond sharing the link on Facebook. I did not think to seek out fellow bloggers. That all changed when I heard about Dewey’s Readathon. Firstly, I had never heard of a readathon and I was blown away by the number of readers who took part. I was also taken in by the mini challenges, cheerleaders, and basically the entire production of it all. All these people came together and organized this amazing event that was free and did not require pants! It was instant love.

During my second readathon I cheered and that really exposed me to a lot of blogs. It was so much fun seeing what everybody was reading and how they were getting on that day. For my third readathon I also cheered but I also hosted a mini challenge. Taking part in the readathon really made me feel a part of a wonderful community. The book community has been nothing but welcoming and I will always be grateful for that. Books are not only my closest friends but they have introduced me to some pretty great humans along the way.

Participating in my first readathon has caused me to be more active on Twitter and it propelled me to continue my blog. It also changed the way I Instagram. Socializing and readathoning go hand in hand. I am only sorry I did not hear about it sooner!