Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2016: Snacking Around the World

I love going to Epcot. Even though it is the most "whitewashed" way to experience different countries, I still love being able to experience so many different things in such a small area. I've never been to the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot every fall, but I was super excited when I found out the Star Wars Half was during the Flower & Festival Festival! What a great way to celebrate finishing another half marathon and hang out with my sister.
I love that part of the maps for Epcot included this cute little Garden Passport with the menu for each of the fresh garden pavilions, a place to get stamps from each country, and info about all of the adorable topiaries. We didn't have nearly enough time to collect all of the stamps, but it does make for a cute souvenir!

After coming in to Epcot, Lilly was sleeping, but I decided to start with a photo with Daisy Duck!
We got there around 11, just after the World Showcase opened, and I was STARVING! The first country we hit was Mexico, and I got the tacos de camaron and elderflower watermelon sangria, while my sister got the rose margarita.

Next up was China! We got a picture with Mulan, and took a seat to try to gaoli beef bun and some "school bread" from Norway next door, which was  delicious bready roll topped with pastry cream.

We breezed through Germany, and made our way to Italy for a bellini, one of my favorite cocktails! Up next was the good ol' U.S. of A. with a great smokehouse. I took a pit stop to change Lilly, reapply sunscreen, and get some water while K got the beef brisket burnt ends and a grapefruit pale ale.

I usually love spending time in the Japan pavilion because it always feels so peaceful, no matter how crowded it is. I got some frushi, a sweet fruit sushi roll, and yuzu plum wine slushy.
Next door was Morocco. While my sister got pictures with Jasmine and Aladdin, K and I split a HUGE quick service meal that came with naan, hummus, a cilantro salad, chicken, and more. I really wanted to try the Desert Rose, a champagne cocktail with pomegranate, but by this point the heat and early morning were really getting me. I enjoyed sitting in the shade for a good 45 minutes, drinking ice water, but I was just exhausted.

Next up was France! I would have loved to explore more, but I was feeling really bad by this point and just wanted to take a nap. I ordered the La Vie En Rose, a Grey Goose slush with St. Germain and cranberry juice. The flavor was amazing, but the cold gave me a headache, which I know is a sign that I'm more dehydrated than I was willing to admit.

Instead of looping around to finish Canada and the UK, we snuck out the back of Epcot and headed back to our resort for an afternoon nap before dinner.

After spending some of the next day at Hollywood Studios, K and I decided to finish our our Epcot run and headed back to the UK pavilion. They had a DELICIOUS scone with raspberry preserves and clotted cream.

At the pineapple promenade we also indulged in some pineapple soft serve of Dole Whip fame, this time with a splash of rum! We also split a spicy hot dog.

Perhaps "drinking around the world" isn't the best idea after a half marathon, but it's still a great event and I would definitely go back to spend a long day exploring everything! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bundles: Saving time and money when you have a baby

Bundle it all! I'm a big fan of automating anything that I can, to reduce the stress that comes with wondering if I remembered to do X or Y. Seriously: after I found, I put shampoo and body wash on auto-order for about three years and never thought about it twice.

Between a new baby and law school, I knew I wouldn't have enough time to worry about little things like running out of diapers or dish soap, so I did a little research over the summer and decided to invest in some bundles. That way I could budget exactly what I would spend every month on essentials, get them delivered without having to buy ten packs of diapers to efficiently use a coupon, and, hopefully, stay ahead of the curve. Here's my top three options for baby bundle options:
  • Honest Co.: Since I am allergic to pretty much everything that can touch my skin, I have used Honest Co. dish soap, detergent, and body wash for a while, and used their essentials bundle after buying a discounted voucher on Zulily. I knew they would be my safest option for diapers and wipes, so I decided to just go with their diaper bundle. It's 6 packs of diapers, which lasts us about 6 weeks, plus 4 packs of wipes, which I use for literally everything and somehow still have a pile of back up packs under the dresser. Bundles are $79.95, and since I had a 25% off code for the first one as well as a number of gift cards, I probably didn't pay for diapers until December. I love the cute prints they have year round, and the seasonal prints are absolutely adorable. (referral link if you want to try them out) I especially love that I can still add on cleaning or extra items for 25% off, so I can easily order dish soap or diaper cream and have it all come at once. 
  • I got a ton of Target gift cards for my baby shower, and used them to fill out everything I needed from my baby registry. While I was browsing online, I also noticed that lets you subscribe and save about 5% off whatever you order, plus free shipping. You can use this for anything from diapers and wipes (but not Honest Co. diapers) to formula to the Kiinde Twist milk storage bags I used.
    Right now I use it for formula, since we're switching from breast milk to formula and "grown up" food. Instead of getting a 40 oz box of up&up brand formula for $23.49 every time I go to Target, I just ordered six boxes for $133.89, and can adjust the shipping date as needed. You might save more than 5% if coupons come up on the Cartwheel app, though, so this is entirely more for peace of mind than actual money saving. I do try to make my own purees when I have time, but I do love the up&up brand food pouches, which are usually about $0.89, while Plum Organics pouches are about $1.39; ordering these in bulk definitely saves time, as does ordering a shipment of formula and pouches to ship to my in laws when we are there for a week.
  • Amazon also has Amazon Family, which is basically a version of Amazon Prime which gives you a 15% completion discount for any registry items, plus 20% off diaper and wipe subscriptions. I currently have a Student prime account, so I wasn't eligible for this, but it will work basically the same as either the Honest Co. or Target subscriptions (except you can't get Honest Co. diapers through the subscription program). 
    I do use Amazon for literally everything but diapers and food though. Prior to going into labor, I made an Amazon list called "Coming Home" and included stuff like dermaplast, ibuprofen, bamboobies pads, and extra pads; while we were still in the hospital, I just adjusted what I needed and hit "order," and everything was waiting when I got home. Whenever I think of things I need, like extra pacifiers, outlet covers, or even just a nice pair of fleece baby pants, Amazon is my go-to for ordering. 
Almost eight months into this baby thing, I am so glad that online ordering is an option. While I love browsing through Target every once in a while, ordering stuff online definitely helps me stick to a budget, makes sure I get what I need when I need it, and saves a little bit of money too. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

runDisney Racecation: Staying at Pop Century Resort

During the Star Wars Half -The Dark Side race weekend, we decided to stay at the Pop Century Resort, in the ESPN Wide World of Sports area of Walt Disney World. There are three major reasons we decided to stay here:
1) Price: This is one of the budget Disney resorts, and it was probably cheaper than many of the nicer off-site hotels. We knew it wouldn't be super luxe or spacious, but if you're on a budget, this is a great option.
2) Location: Being in the ESPN WWS area, the bus from the race finish line to the resort was all of about five minutes. It's also very close to Hollywood Studios (one time our bus driver made the trip in 7 minutes) and Epcot, the two parks we spent the most time in. It is a bit of a hike to Magic Kingdom, though.
3) Transportation: I think one of the biggest perks of staying on site at Disney is definitely the Disney Magical Express from and to the airport. It easily saves $100+ on taxi fares, if you had to taxi, or more, if you need a rental car.

Things to know about Pop Century (and Disney resorts in general):

  • Luggage and the Disney Magical Express
Once we got to the airport in Orlando, it was a breeze getting on the Disney Magical Express and heading to the resort. You just have to follow all of the many signs straight to DME checkin, tap your MagicBand, and get your bus assignment. My sister arrived around 11am and stood in line for about thirty minutes before scanning in, but when we arrived at 1, it was pretty much empty and we actually had to wait about 15 minutes for our bus to fill up before we were off.

When you schedule the DME and provide your flight information, you also get the option of adding yellow tags to your checked luggage. For any tagged bags, the ground crew diverts them straight to DME and they are delivered to your room later in the day, which can save a lot of hassle! We decided to tag our bigger bag and not tag my smaller checked bag; this means I had to run over to pick it up before getting on the DME bus. Our second bag was delivered to our room sometimes after 5pm. If you can pack everything you need in a carryon, you won't need to worry about this, but if you have a lot of stuff to carry (like, if you're traveling with a baby) I would recommend checking a bag with all the essentials for the first day, like extra clothes, food, diapers, etc, and tagging/checking any bulky bags you won't need until later in the day.

  • Preferred Room/Pool View
Because the resort is SO HUGE, we didn't think twice about paying a few extra dollars for a preferred room, which guarantees a room in one of the buildings closest to Classic Hall and the park shuttles. We also requested a first floor room, since we would have a stroller, but there wasn't one available when we checked in, so we had the extra hassle of using the elevator a lot.

We also got a pool view room, just because it was the most available. I think for some families this might be fun, especailly on the first floor, to be able to walk right out of your room and be at the pool, or see the float up movies at night. However, if you have a baby or want to nap in the afternoon, pool view is not for you. It's definitely the louder side of the buildings, even if they are closer to the main entrance.

The room itself was definitely on the smaller size. It included a small table, two double beds, a TV stand/dresser with a few drawers and a mini fridge, and a curtained-off bathroom area with a sink, hanging rack, and the tiny bathroom. It was definitely a little tight, since the only space for the pack n play for the baby was right next to the bathroom area; we couldn't keep any of the main lights on, and there was only a thin curain between the baby and where we were trying to get ready for bed or get dressed in the morning. I think the rooms in the moderate resorts are a few feet wider, and have a double sink, which makes a huge difference.
  • Classic Hall and Pools
The Classic Hall has everything you need outside of your room: check in, concierge, a huge arcade, a children's play room, gift shop, and food hall. There's also the main pool and splash deck right outside, plus Petals pool bar. 

Since this is a budget resort without villas or DVC suites, the gift shop doesn't quite have as many long-stay essentials, as some of the other shops might have. This means they didn't have gallons of bottled water (which I was looking for, for formula) or "normal" food like peanut butter or bread. If you're out and about, though, it's a short ride to Hollywood Studios and a quick boat ride to the Boardwalk, where there is a gift shop with more things if you want to make snacks in your room (OK, not that quick and easy, but I don't know the alternative). 

The food hall had lots of options, though, and smelled like waffles in the morning (Pop Century waffles, not mickey waffles)! They also had some grab and go options starting at 3am on race day, in case you need an early breakfast. We got the Disney Dining Plan, so we also got refillable resort mugs which we could refill with pop, coffee, or hot chocolate in any resort food hall. 

I think there are several pools throughout the property, and all have very watchful life guards. I did take Lilly out to the splash deck for a few minutes one afternoon, and she loved playing in the shallow water, as well as watching some of the older toddlers play. There are lots of deck chairs around the pool, but I can see it getting pretty crowded.
  • Race transportation
Pop Century did share a race bus with Art of Animation, which is right next door, and was super easy! For the expo, shuttles came about every 15 minutes, and it was about a five minute drive straight to ESPN. On race morning, there was a little bit of a line at 3:30, and about a 15 minute drive to Epcot. My sister took the shuttle later straight to the finish area, and she barely waited for a shuttle; the driver also helped her out with the stroller. I can imagine any race that ends at Epcot might have a longer drive back to the resort, but the short ride back was great!
  • Park transportation
As with all resorts, there are bus shuttles to each of the parks, as well as Downtown Disney Disney Springs. As I've said, Epcot and Hollywood Studios were a short 10 minute drive away, and 15 minutes or more to Magic Kingdom. The buses aren't particularly regular, so plan on waiting up to 20 minutes for a shuttle, and probably seeing at least one bus for every other park you don't want to go to while you wait. 
Also, if you have a reservation at another resort, you're going to have to take a shuttle to another park, then get from there to your final destination. We had reservations at the Beach Club, which is outside of Epcot, but it was faster for us to take the bus to HS, then the water taxi from there straight to the Beach Club. If you're going to the Magic Kingdom hotels, you can take the monorail. 

Overall, I think Pop Century is a great option for families on a budget - picking a cheaper hotel is definitely one way to keep expenses down. If you don't mind being a little bit on top of each other, Pop Century is really close to the "adult" parks and a great option for race weekends.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Race Recap: runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon: The Dark Side - April 17, 2016

Since K and I did the inaugural Rebel Challenge at Disneyland, when runDisney announced the Dark Side half at Disney World, of course we had to sign up for it. When they also announced the Kessel Run Challenge, after registration for the Light Side at DL was already full, K was pretty distraught - he loves medals, has been chasing the Coast to Coast but our schedules never quite work, AND he LOVES the Millenium Falcon. So, we resisted the urge to do the Dark Side challenge, and planned on doing the half with a focus on park fun. My younger sister joined us to watch Lilly so we both could run.


I kind of forgot about the expo during the planning process. Well, not exactly - I knew we would have to go pick up our bibs and such, even though they are charging now for "VIP bib pick up" on race day. I just forgot that the expo closes at 4 on Saturday. Our flight landed around 1, we took the Magical Express to our hotel, Pop Century, and put our things in our room before heading to the expo. We got there at 3:45, realized it was about to close, and then ran to bib pickup. Once we had our bibs, we then ran next door to expo floor to pick up our t shirts. Most of the booths were already shut down, and even the runDisney shop had taken most of their stuff off the shelves by the time we got there. I did manage to pick up a new charm from Endure jewelry - I see her things at various expos, and always love them! 

Race day

After flipping through the race guide, I also realized that race start was 5AM, not 5:30 like the Princess half. WHY?! It's so early! The maps for the start area weren't very detailed, so I assumed there would be a long walk to the start corrals, since the start was near Epcot, even though the finish was at ESPN. We got up super early, and waited in line for a bus for maybe ten minutes. Because there aren't coffee makers in the rooms at budget resorts, I ended up buying coffee at the Classic Hall; they also had grab n go stuff out, and some race power packs. I ate a banana and clif bar while we were on the bus, as well as my coffee. 

Traffic seemed worse than I remember from other races as we drove to the starting area, so what would normally be about 12 minutes was almost a 20 minute drive. We got there shortly after 4, though, with plenty of time to use the portojohns, and walk down the VERY CROWDED street towards the corrals. The walk was much shorter than for other races, but for some reason, much slower and much more crowded. The labelled path actually went past all of the corrals, we could see them through trees, and ten had two exits which looped you around to the corral entrances, so you ended up basically u-turning and walking back towards your corral. I got to Corral C around 4:35am, and it wasn't very full at all. There were about 20,000 registered runners, I think, in 12 corrals, but the first few didn't seem overcrowded. 

The first wave of wheelchairs went off right on time, and then corrals were pushed through about three or four minutes apart, with red fireworks and lasers for each wave. I was half asleep, had my music turned up, and was focused on my garmin, so I honestly don't remember too much about the first few miles. I appreciated the pace, though, since I was constantly running into walkers during my last Disney race. Corral C kept a pretty good 9:30-ish pace, right where I wanted to be.

 At some point after the first mile, the course dumped right into the middle of Epcot, and ran around the world showcase, one of my favorite parts of Disney races! It then looped around in front of the Beach and Yacht Club resorts, and down the little canal towards Hollywood Studios. It then looped around HS, and past the main stage, where Kylo Ren and a bunch of stormtroopers were posing for photos. It went past the Hollywood Tower Hotel, and back out of the park. 

Miles 5 to 7 were great for running, but went right past runners on the other side of the road, and I didn't know what mile they were on, but the fast people, aka the winners, and a few wheelchairs were over there while I was running towards Animal Kingdom. Turns out they were just past mile 10. We were nowhere near the turnaround point to get to that side of the road. Mile 8 was mostly inside of Animal Kingdom; I have never been to this park before, because it just doesn't seem like much of a priority for me, but I'm glad to finally get to run through it! There were a few photos stops inside, a couple of "hills," but overall, I wasn't that impressed. The biggest thing I remember here was stopping to switch my music to a new playlist. 
Also, around mile 9, I felt a blister coming up on my foot, and made the mental decision to really push through it; up to that point, I was running around 9:30-9:45 miles, which isn't fast and didn't feel hard, but I was exhausted. It would have been easy to just walk a good portion of the last 4 miles, especially with a blister already, but I knew the "fun" parts were behind me, and I didn't want to prolong the inevitable. I stopped twice to get vaseline at the medical points to lessen the impact, which definitely cut into my finish time. 
On my way back, coming up on mile 11, I was back to the side by side portion of the race, and could see the masses of runners who were only on mile 6. I also caught sight of K, who started in corral E and was taking it easy on his ankle, which he sprained a few weeks ago. He apparently stopped for almost every photo stop, and finished almost an hour behind me. Just after the last med stop, right before mile 12, the race went onto a gravel road through an access road towards the ESPN area, which really lent itself well to the endor-y photo stops they put up. We rolled into the well-manicured field areas just as the sun was fully up, and I was so glad I had carried my sunglasses the entire race, because it was blinding. Even though my knees were starting to hurt a little too, and my foot had a huge blister, I pulled myself up and ran along, all the way to the finish! 


I finished in 2:16:20, less than a minute off my runDisney PR (Princess Half 2014, 2:15:40), which made me pretty happy! It's not breaking 2:00 yet, but that will come (with perfect weather, etc). I'm definitely gad I wasn't doing the full challenge! 

The finish chute looped around and fed out into the family reunion area, which was huge and had little shade. My sister brought Lilly out after getting my 10K finish alert on her phone, and she had plenty of time to get photos with all the awesome characters waiting there: Darth Maul, Captain Phasma, Darth Vader, BB-8, and more. Lilly slept in her stroller the entire time! I was a little disappointed that more of these  characters weren't out on the course, and once the main body of finisher's came in, the lines were HUGE. I also wish I had seen Jedi Mickey and Princess Leia Minnie :( I did get some photos with some stormtroopers on the course, and after meeting Captain Phasma, I can pretty solidly say I am definitely too short for a stormtrooper:

The medals, as usual, were pretty awesome. The half medal had a spinner in the middle, and the Dark Side theme, with lots of Empire symbols on everything, was apparent throughout the entire event.

Since Disney loves adding on expensive little perks, I was expecting more to be available with this race. A race breakfast would have been GREAT, especially with some of the characters (or Jedi Mickey), especially since they don't have Star Wars Weekends in the parks anymore. A VIP Chear Squad tent at the finish line, like they do with other races at Epcot and even at DisneyLand, would have been nice to get for my sister. The event did seem a little bit thrown together, like many of the new Star Wars things in the parks now, which is disappointing. 

One HUGE perk, though, that started with this race, was adding race photos to PhotoPass! Instead of buying photos through MarathonFoto or some other third party, all race photos were taken by Disney photogs, and could be included in any other PhotoPass packages you buy; photos were still tagged by bib, so you do have to go in and input your bib number to add them to your PhotoPass account, but that way a runner doesn't need to have their magicband or photo card on the course with them. This was definitely a big plus, since we pre-purchased the memory maker package for the weekend. 

I'll finish with a runDisney problem: getting back to your resort after a race, trying to get breakfast,,and trying to scan your garmin to pay for it.....(my magicband was on my other arm)

Friday, April 15, 2016

5 Things Friday: runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon - The Dark Side

It's Friday, and I'm getting ready for another runDisney weekend!! This was initially supposed to be a celebration of my LAST WEEK OF CLASSES IN LAW SCHOOL, but thanks to several snow days and various other factors, I'll be bringing a binder of work with me and have a few more classes next week...but it's ok, I'm going to celebrate anyway!!

Here are FIVE THINGS I'm super excited for this weekend:

1) Star Wars Half Marathon - The Dark Side. 

Of course I'm excited about this - it's at least 60% of why we're going! I'm pretty bummed we aren't doing the Kessel Run Challenge this year, aka the Star Wars Coast to Coast, but it's really runDisney's fault and their poor planning. I hope they feel the wrath of many.
I'm also excited because it won't be just through EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom - I'll get to run through parts of Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios too! Here's the course:

2) EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival

I've never been to a festival at EPCOT, and my instagram has been blowing up with photos from this year's Flower and Garden Festival, so I'm pretty super pumped to get to attend! The topiaries look gorgeous, the butterflies, the tea garden....and on top of all that, they even have a passport to help you drink around the world (which I will totally be doing post-race)! 

3) Photo Pass for race photos

Even though runDisney majorly screwed up with the late announcement of the Kessel Run Challenge, they finally did something right and are adding race photos to the Photo Pass system! This means you don't have to pay for both race photos AND vacation photos - it's all included now! You just have to link your bib number to your Disney account and voila!

4) POP! Century Resort

This weekend we will be staying at the Pop! Century resort, a budget resort near the ESPN Wide Worl of Sports zone. Hopefully that means a short bus ride after the race. I usually avoid the budget hotels, preferring to stay at someplace nicer off-property, but we are traveling with my cheapskate sister, so this was the one thing we planned to coerce her into indulging in the dining plan, photo pass, and buying us drinks at EPCOT. 

5) 1900 Park Fare Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner

I love Cinderella. A lot. And I love the Grand Floridian. So when Cinderella's Table was all booked (of course), the obvious next step is to make reservations for Cinderella's Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare. Because who doesn't love strawberry soup. I'm just hoping for Prince Charming. 

Check out my instagram to follow me this weekend for drinks around the world and some magical dining!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Pumping for a Baby + Law School

When the "baby discussion" started, my husband felt much stronger about breastfeeding than I was; since I was adopted, formula feeding seemed just fine to me. He cited all of the studies that said babies would be healthier and smarter and fatter and more bonded, plus mentioned how much cheaper it would be. He obviously would never be the one pumping at 3 am, but I agreed to see how it goes.

After Lilly was born, I knew I would still be in school full time. While this did give me a good bit of flexibility, it also meant long hours in the library, plus at least one full, 8-hour day every week at a legal clinic that was about an hour away, not to mention conference days. Exclusively pumping (EPing) seemed to be my best option for feeding her while also being able to keep up all my other commitments.

Even though it is the "easier" option, in the sense that you can schedule pumping vs. feeding whenever baby is hungry, IT IS NOT EASY. It definitely takes commitment, scheduling, and getting up when your alarm goes off at 4am, even if the baby just fell asleep. I will add that Lilly made it VERY EASY for me to start pumping immediately, as soon as we got home from the hospital. Even though I tried breastfeeding in the hospital, she pretty much refused to latch, and once we did start her on bottles, she was taking down 2-3oz a time, in about 2 minutes (yes, at 3 days old). I really don't thin she'd have the patience to try breastfeeding, since she can now finish 6 oz in under a minute.
For the first two weeks or so, Lilly was eating every two hours; even though my husband or someone else could bottle feed her, I tried pumping every two hours for at least 10 minutes, which is a total of two hours a day, plus the setup and clean up. Do you know how much that would cost someone in billable hours?! (Don't worry, I did the math; at the Maryland student rate, it would be about $325 a day.)
By the end of the first month, though, I was down to six or seven pumps a day, and by the end of the semester, I was pumping only five times a day for about 20 minutes. I became a pro at pumping in the car or in my office at school or in the bathroom at a restaurant or airport.

Initially, my goal was to pump for the first six months, and then see how it goes. I can gladly say that I have met that goal, and, looking at a summer full of bar prep and marathon training, I am enjoying the process of dropping pumps, with a plan to be DONE by the start of my last finals week. Based on my own personal experience, here's my tips and necessities for pumping while in law school:    

Top Tips

  • Make a schedule. Even if you don't stick to it precisely, knowing that you need to pump every four hours helps you plan your day around that. I had an alarm on my phone that went off every four hours, and on busy days would put 15 minute blocks of time on my google calendar. Pinterest has a lot of great links for suggested schedules as your baby gets older, but at the end of the day, do what is best for you!
  • Hydrate. You will feel like you are drowning, but the alternative is feeling parched. I think at one point I tracked my water intake and was drinking about 140+ ounces of water a day. Now I'm "only" drinking about 100 ounces, but with two pumps a day plus marathon training, I still feel dry. Stock up on some lemonade powder or Nuun tablets to make it better.
  • Change your wardrobe. Dresses are pretty much out, unless they are very stretchy and low cut. Button downs and v-necks are your friend. Whatever makes it easier so you don't have to do a wardrobe change every four hours. Also, ALWAYS have a cardi or scarf with you; you never know when you might start leaking. 
  • Pumping and working out: plan on working out right after you pump, when your boobs are at their smallest. Also, get some new sports bras; I was used to wearing a small pullover from Target, but had to upgrade to some nicer ones when my chest got bigger. Also, see above note about hydrating; even if I was just going to the gym for a quick lift, I'd bring two water bottles. Also, check with your doctor about any supplements you want to keep using, and check for some third-party reviews of them. A lot of protein powders have high levels of stuff that may not be good for babies. I know I stopped using any preworkout because it just made me too dehydrated.  
  • Freeze what you can. After my milk came in, I was pumping at least 30 ounces a day, and increased my supply to over 40 ounces a day at one point. Anything I had leftover, I froze for later. You never know when you might need to switch over to frozen milk for a little bit! Over Christmas we ended up bringing a few days' worth of frozen milk with us while we traveled, which turned out to be a good idea: the day before Christmas Eve I ended up getting some serious food poisoning and spent a few hours in the emergency room. Meanwhile, my mom tossed all of the milk I had pumped throughout the trip, "just in case food poisoning gets in the milk." A week later, while we were out in California, my husband and I left the baby with his family for a night while we spent a night in Las Vegas. Lots of judgy eyes as I pumped in the bathroom at Caesar's Palace (what, like I was supposed to be breastfeeding on the casino floor instead?). In both instances I was glad to have an easily-defrosted backup.
  • Don't be afraid to go out and travel! It might take a little extra preparation, but don't avoid a long brunch just because you'll have to pump halfway through. Also, you will eventually get to sleep more than four hours at a time. I promise. 

Must haves

  • Medela Pump in Style Advanced with accessories: About halfway through my pregnancy, Tricare finally decided they would provide breast pumps to beneficiaries. Hurray! It was actually a pretty easy system to get a script from my doctor and order a Medela Pump in Style through an approved provider. I did add some extra accessories, such as a battery pack with rechargeable batteries for when I was traveling, and made sure to have flanges fitted. I also kept a little baggie of extras on hand, such as cleaning wipes, Honest Co. nipple balm, and a Clif bar and water bottle. I also used steam clean bags every night to clean the parts and pieces. 

I did not order the special bag that you can get for this, and instead just carried it around in whatever I was carrying that day, or an extra tote bag. Not a much structure, but I didn't have many problems (except on the occasional days I forgot some random piece).

  • Hand pump: I started keeping a handpump in my car for whenever I got stuck in traffic or just had to stay out longer than I planned to and didn't happen to bring my pump. Just as a backup. I got a Lansinoh manual pump, and thought it was just fine. 

  • Kiinde Twist direct pump system: I cannot say enough good things about this system. I am a klutz, and I knew the milk transfer thing was probably going to end up being a disaster. I came across this system on Pinterest, and for any working moms, IT IS A LIFE SAVER! The bottom line: it comes with adapters for pretty much any pump system, so you can attach storage pouches directly to the pump, while you're pumping, then screw a lid on and put thepouches in the fridge. As if that itself weren't easy enough, you can then slide the pouch into a bottle contraption, and pop a nipple right onto the pouch, and feed the baby. No transfers at all, and minimal exposure to outside contaminants! AS IF THAT WEREN'T ENOUGH, they also make the best bottle warmer ever. AAAAND, the same pouches can then be used for baby food, and a spoon can be attached to the pouch. THIS IS BRILLIANT! I can't tell you how many moms I have made jealous when I whip out a pouch to warm up, and explain how easy the whole system is. 
  • Bamboobies: I didn't leak too too much, but enough that I was glad I had these! I think once I did leak enough to soak through them, but that was just one time (and very inopportune). 
  • Feed Baby app: I love this app because it has a timer, lets you input how much you have pumped and when, lets you set alarms for your next pump time, as well as lets you track a bajillion other baby things (naps, diaper changes, feedings, medicines, dirty diapers, etc). And, once you create a profile, you can share it, so my husband and I can both see exactly when the last time the baby ate. 

  • Nursing tops: I don't mean this in the, you must wear nursing tanks all the time, way. I mean this in a, you need to find some clothes that let you pump without getting cold, way. And anything that let's you go hands-free is a huge plus. Now, I am not that well-endowed, so many of my old run tanks with a built in bra worked just fine for me; I wore them under all my t shirts or sweaters, and just pulled that up, balanced the breast shields, and continued playing on my phone. However, I would highly recommend getting something a little more secure like the Dairy Fairy hands-free nursing and pumping tank; I also had two belly bandit mother tucker tanks. 

I also started wearing more flowy tops when I was out somewhere that I might have to make a pumping stop. My favorites were actually the biggie tops from SOAS; I wore this to many client interviews as well as on long plane rides. It's loose enough that you can discretely pump while in an airplane seat without looking like an apron.

  • Snacks: Unless you have your own chef, you're probably going to be snacking a lot, and eating real meals less often. My favorite snack was actually a variation on powerballs I like to bring with me on long bike rides; I tweaked them just a little bit to include more galactogogues, which are great for increasing your milk supply. 
  • 1 cup of old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup of ground flaxseed
  • 1 scoop of brewer's yeast
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • dash of vanilla
  • dash of cinnamon
  • extras: chopped nuts, coconut flakes, whatever else you like
  • Just combine all ingredients in a bowl, form into 1 oz balls, and store in the fridge. I'd eat one or two during a mid morning or afternoon pump as an energy boost. 
Life will never be the same it was before; you'll never be able to just run out of the door and go somewhere. For me, exclusively pumping was the best way to feed my baby and still have the flexibility to get things done. It's a choice and a commitment I made, and I made the conscious decision to accept the good and the bad. Quitting simply wasn't an option, so the maybe tomorrow wouldn't be so tough. 

At the end of the day, everyone should do what is best for them and their family. If pumping is the route you choose, best of luck, I know you can do it!