Baby Led Weaning….Take 2!

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How is our second fat and happy vegan baby eating solid foods already??? Time flies!  Let me tell you, this baby can EAT.  He loves food and I generally feed him 3 meals per day, and sometimes snacks!  FVB took much longer to get into foods, so this is a fun experience for me.  Here is how I knew he was really ready:

  • He was 6 months old,
  • He had TWO teeth
  • He was able to sit up on his own (for a little bit, anyway)
  • He was showing a lot of interest in eating/drinking- staring at me when I ate and reaching for food items and cups. His new favorite thing is glass beer bottles (which he sees on a daily basis in our house)!

I’ve learned a few things about starting solid foods, both through my research and my experiences, so I’d like to share just a little bit of what I’ve learned.

This thing is delicious!

Based on my research, I decided that baby led weaning was the way that we were going to approach introducing solid foods to our kids.  Before I write more, I just want to state the obvious:  I am NOT a doctor, nutritionist, or any other type of health professional.  I am just a mom who likes to read things on the internet and make informed decisions based on what the science says. There is research on the topic of introducing solid foods, as well as some research on baby led weaning, though not a significant amount as this is a relatively “new” approach to feeding.  I love this article on starting solids from the website KellyMom, which is awesome because it provides “evidenced based information,” which means it’s based on science- yay!  If you want to read other articles and research on BLW, it’s out there.  Here are a few links if you are interested: Science Daily studyResearch Roundtable DiscussionScience News ArticleBaby Led Weaning Evidence Report.

*Caution, it is hard to stop reading once you get started.  I did go down a rabbit hole on the internet researching the quote “food before one is just for fun.” Apparently people really want it to be “food before one is MAINLY for fun,” because…IRON! People get very panicky about iron. I won’t go into a long boring side rant about this, but a good article to read is here.

It’s important to note that HVB’s main source of nutrition is breastmilk, and will be for at least one year, and possibly longer depending on how picky he is! He is growing like crazy- at 6 months he was 20 pounds and 26 inches! (That is roughly the 93rd percentile for weight and the 24th percentile for height, if you are into comparing.) Since I am the one MAKING the milk, I try to eat as healthy as possible! I certainly don’t track calories or anything like that, and I do indulge in sweets, coffee, and alcohol.  Mainly though I try to eat lots of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts/seeds, and whole grains. And I try to drink a lot of water. Click here to read more about how I eat while pregnant and/or nursing.

I view food as a fun exploration and not much more than that for now.  I trust that HVB will eat exactly what he needs and nurse as much as he needs.  I think following that baby’s lead is one of the most important things about introducing solids.  So….what does this baby led weaning thing actually look like in action???  Well, it mainly looks like a giant mess of food everywhere.

I’ve got this whole spoon thing down!

To start, I’m sticking mostly with fruits and vegetables. His first food was an apple that I was eating, which he mostly just sucked the juice off of and aggressively gummed. Others we have tried include:  banana, avocado, peach, tomato, sweet potato, red pepper, corn on the cob, cucumber, blueberry, and strawberry.  I’ve also offered rice, beans, oatmeal, quinoa, and some hummus.  He’s also tried toast and a veggie burger.  This is not to say that all of these food items made it into his stomach, but they were presented to him on his tray and most everything was in his mouth at some point.  I like to put one or two things on the tray, in addition to a spoon, and then try really hard to just sit and watch without helping too much.  At this stage I do pick things up when they fall, otherwise meal time would last approximately 3-4 seconds because the first thing he does is slide everything off the tray in an attempt to pick it up.  I will also try to put things directly in his hands.  He definitely grabs for the food and moves his hand immediately to his mouth.  So I know that he is excited about eating!  It’s fun watching him learn how to eat, especially when he tries to use utensils.  FVB started solid foods this way, and he mastered using utensils pretty early on, so hopefully his brother follows in his footsteps.

I’m seeing a lot of growth already, even over the course of just a few weeks.  The beginning stages of BLW can feel confusing– like, what do I actually put on his tray??? My advice is to just do it.  Put food on there and see what happens.  The only real thing you have to worry about is choking, so educate yourself on how to cut food appropriately.  This guide is amazing!  At the beginning it really is just about pushing food around and trying to get things into their mouths.  It’s messy and not a lot of eating actually happens.  But, they really learn pretty quickly, and you get more confident as time goes on and you watch them attempt to eat. HVB has really improved his ability to pick foods up in just the short few weeks that he’s been eating.  And I’m telling you, he REALLY eats.  A lot.  Food before one really is FUN!

 

Yummmmmmmm!

 

 

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Veganism Through A Child’s Eyes

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I have spent much of my life in the company of children, as a babysitter, teacher, and now as a mom.  Staying at home affords me the opportunity to see the world through a child’s eyes, since I am in the company of one or both of my boys nearly every moment of the day/night (except those rare times when they are both sleeping and I am not)!  While it is admittedly sometimes exhausting, I love being with them.  HVB doesn’t have too much to share just yet, but FVB amazes me every day.  He is smart, funny, and so kind.  (Disclaimer:  sometimes he hits his brother, and he has, on occasion, kicked the dog).
 

This is my kissy face!

Obviously as a vegan kid, FVB loves animals.  I actually think that most kids do naturally love animals because they are living creatures, and kids are curious about living creatures.  FVB really delights in observing them and attempting to interact with them.  He loves watching the birds in our backyard and often yells “HI BIRDIES!” (which effectively scares them away,  but he loves running after them as they fly, so it works for him).  Recently a cat had been hanging around our house and FVB named her Buddha.  Even though she scratched him, he still loved trying to “play” with her, and worried about her when she wasn’t hanging around. (Cat has since found her home). When we visited Lake George last fall, we spent some time on a beach and a duck took a liking to us.  FVB was enamored with this duck and worried that he was lonely.  He was also genuinely sad when I told him that birds eat worms, and said “well, but that’s bad for the worms.” He then became obsessed with finding out what animals eat and definitely struggles with the idea that some animals eat other other animals. The circle of life is a bit of a high level concept for age 3!

I love pigs!

Given the discussions on what animals eat, we figured it was a good time to start talking more about how we eat. It has been surprisingly easy to explain the way that we eat, because it doesn’t go against his natural inclination towards not hurting animals. After meeting chickens at Farm Sanctuary, it would be bizarre to him if I told him that we also paid someone to kill those chickens so that we could eat them. Same with milk, since he is so familiar with the concept of mothers making milk for their babies. If I told him that we drank milk from cows, he would think I was crazy!  The other day we found a bird’s egg on the ground in our yard, and he was very concerned about what would happen to it. I explained that it had probably fallen out of the nest and that most likely an animal would come along and eat it. He thought that was bizarre! Who eats eggs that are supposed to form into baby birds? (Also, eggs that come from a chickens butt. Gross).

People eat birds’ eggs?!?

I find it odd that people think that vegans “brainwash” their kids or that we are “forcing” our lifestyle on them.  I think that veganism is actually the easiest lifestyle to explain and understand!  Imagine talking to a child about what you eat and drink, and explaining it in a way that they would understand. Which of these scenarios would you rather discuss:

Scenario A:  We eat fruits and vegetables and other things that grow from the ground.  We also eat foods that are made using things that grow from the ground.  Babies and small children drink milk from their mothers.  Big kids and adults drink things like water, tea, and juice.  Or milks made from things like almonds, cashews, or soy beans. (FVB would also be able to tell you that grown ups drink coffee, wine, and beer. He is very observant of this. A few weeks ago he told us: “when I’m a grown up I’m going to not clean up and sit in a chair and drink coffee.” He also offered me a beer the other morning at 9:30. When I told him it was too early to drink beer he said, “well, you could have a morning beer?”)

Scenario B:  We eat the bodies of dead animals.  We also eat things that are made with cow’s milk.  We steal baby cows from their mothers, then hook up the cows to milking machines so that we can take their milk. We either drink it, or eat it in products like butter, cheese, and ice cream. We also take eggs that chickens lay and eat them. 

How many follow up questions do you think you’d have to answer in each scenario? I’m sure many people who have raised kids will tell you that they have a lot of questions.  Kids raised eating meat and animal products would certainly wonder why we drink cows’ milk but not pigs’ milk, and why we regularly eat chickens’ eggs but not robins’ eggs. Valid questions, and the answers are a bit more in depth than just “because that’s what we’ve always done.” There is this amazing video that I would love all of you to watch, done by psychologist Dr. Melanie Joy. She discusses the pyschology behind eating meat.  It’s 18 minutes long and very thought provoking. 

I’ll leave you with a final thought: Which scenario makes more sense: eating things that grow from the earth, or killing living creatures and eating their bodies?  

I’m a friend…not food!

 

 

 

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Schedule

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In honor of Mother’s Day, here’s a bit of sarcasm/humor for you, just to balance out all the sappy junk that is so prevalent on Hallmark holidays. 

I am subscribed to this newsletter type thing on Babycenter.com, which sends updates every month telling you what your baby should be doing at each developmental stage. With FVB I read these religiously. With HVB I barely skim them. This month, the newsletter had ever so helpfully shared a “sample schedule” for a stay at home breastfeeding mom with a 4 month old and toddler. I couldn’t resist just checking it out to see how other people were doing things. Big mistake.  Just in case you don’t already feel like you are doing things all wrong, this schedule will help you feel like the most disorganized and frazzled mom on the planet, and leave you wondering why your baby doesn’t sleep. So, I edited it to reflect my reality to share with you! Original post can be viewed here.  Article text is written in italics, my text is not. 

*Disclaimer: I love my babies. I love staying home with them, I love sleeping with them, and I love attachment parenting. This is just a way for me to inject a little bit of humor into it because even though I love it, it’s also hard and exhausting, and humor helps. 

7 a.m.: Wake up, nurse, get dressed. Amaya plays with Mom while her older brother watches Sesame Street.

I’m sorry, get dressed?!? It’s 7am!! Have some damn coffee. 7am found me half asleep in the rocker with the baby because he woke up at 5am. He was awakened around 7am by a crying FVB who had accidentally picked off the scab under his nose because he thought it was a dried booger. OK, everyone’s up! And we aren’t getting dressed. And I certainly am not cashing in my screen time card this early. I save that precious time until I am desperate!


8:30 a.m.: Down for her morning nap except when her brother has preschool.

I imagine in this fantasy world sweet baby Amaya is placed peacefully in her crib, drowsy but awake, and she dozes off on her own. In my reality, first baby nurses for 30 minutes. Then, baby falls asleep in moby wrap after fighting it for at least 15 minutes. Sleeps for 25 minutes before realizing that he’s actually hungry. Wakes ups and nurses/sleeps for 45 minutes. 

10 a.m.: Wake from nap, nurse, and we leave for some activity. 

OK, sounds reasonable. Better get dressed first. And get the kids dressed. Wait, FVB needs a snack. Did I brush my teeth yet? Oh well, we are already half way to the car. 


12 p.m.: Come home. Amaya has tummy time while her brother eats lunch.

Perfect baby Amaya just loves her tummy time! She happily chills out on her tummy for ONE HOUR?!? Doubt it.  In reality, we get home from said activity, everyone is hungry and it’s a mad dash to get food into everyone before melt downs occur (myself included). HVB does tummy time for 1-3 minutes and then cries.  


1 p.m.: Get her brother ready for nap, read lots of stories.

What is a nap? 


1:30 p.m.: Amaya nurses, then naps.
4 p.m.: Everyone is up, although Amaya typically wakes up earlier. She nurses and we either go to the gym or to the playground
.

Cool! Sounds a lot like my afternoon.  Two kids sleeping for 2.5 hours. Oh wait, reality check. Take kids upstairs after lunch for “quiet time.” Attempt to nurse HVB in the bed so as to have better luck getting him to sleep and stay asleep alone. FVB watches a show on the iPad. HVB nurses for 10 minutes and then is ready to play and obviously NOT tired. FVB melts down over episode ending. HVB cries because FVB is crying.  

Everyone downstairs to attempt outside play. Watch FVB struggle for several minutes to put his own shoes on while HVB cries in the wrap and rubs his eyes because he is obviously tired. Finally get outside, attempt to get HVB to sleep in the wrap while watching FVB get his hand stuck in the outdoor water feature. Rescue FVB. Nurse HVB because obviously he’s hungry but NOT tired. FVB needs help climbing into hammock immediately upon HVB beginning to nurse. 

Attempt to fill afternoon with a variety of activities to keep FVB engaged while also nursing and/or wearing HVB, who nurses approximately 7 times during this 2.5 hour period. And maybe sleeps for 30-60 minutes. While nursing. Or being held/worn. 

Also attempt to start something for dinner. 

6 p.m.: Daddy comes home. He plays with our son or Amaya so each child has some one-on-one time with a parent.

OK, I win the prize here because hubs works from home and is done with work before 6. And we often see him throughout the afternoon. He gets plenty of one on one time with both boys! 

HVB generally naps at some point in  the late afternoon. Also, we always enjoy happy hour sometime between 4-6. Alcohol is as necessary as coffee. 



6:30 p.m.: Family dinner. (I do most of the prep work during nap time, so it’s easy to make.)

Family dinner. (I scramble to get things together when hubs is done working). 


7 p.m.: Bath time, stories, bed. Amaya nurses.

Hubs takes on bath time with FVB while I get HVB ready for bed. Nurse HVB to sleep while also reading to FVB. Hope that FVB will fall asleep while listening to stories. Sneak out of bed once both boys are sleeping for 1-2 glorious child free hours with hubs. 


She still wakes up somewhere between 2 and 4 a.m. to nurse. Also, if she takes a short afternoon nap, she may close her eyes for an hour sometime in the late afternoon.

Aw, sweet baby Amaya sleeps from 7PM until 2AM. Her mommy is really living the dream.  HVB on the other hand still wakes up regularly throughout the night to nurse and/or flail and kick and expel gas (loudly). His sleep patterns during the day have no impact on his night sleep patterns.  I sometimes get 4-5 hours of solid sleep but mostly not. At some point in the night FVB joins us and I am stuck sleeping in a 4 inch space between the two of them.  


And as the Jackson Brown song goes.…”when the morning light comes streaming in, you’ll get up and do it again.”  Or before the morning light. Rising before sunrise is good, too! 

Happy Mother’s Day! 

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Sleep…?

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I’m writing this while sitting up in bed, nursing the baby and eating Oreos dipped in peanut butter. The baby has been nursing off and on for approximately 2 hours. FVB fell asleep with his arm snaked around my neck and his hand in my shirt while I was laying down nursing the baby, so I had to gently extract myself to get downstairs to get the aforementioned Oreos. Needless to say this was not my ideal bed time scenario. (Ideal scenario: I put the children in bed, kiss them goodnight and they fall asleep peacefully on their own while I eat chocolate and binge watch something on Netflix downstairs, where no one is touching me or breathing loudly directly into my ear). 

Hubs calls this my RBF (resting bitch face)

Hubs is out of town for a few days, so I am tackling the challenge of putting both children bed by myself. He is a huge part of our bedtime routine, so it has been a bit challenging to do it on my own, but so far I’ve done it two nights in a row with minimal crying! The first night after I had to take FVB out of the bath before he was ready, because HVB needed to nurse. When we got into bed he was still crying and I suggested that he might feel better once he calmed down. He replied “I won’t feel better when I calm down. I will always be crying.” Dramatic much? And then he was asleep two minutes later. (Side story: he was crying about something the other day and said that he couldn’t walk up the stairs because “the tears are coming out of my eyes and pouring down my cheeks and dripping down.” Pouring down his cheeks?!? It was seriously 3 tears. If that). Anyway, he has a bit of a flair for dramatics, as most three year olds do. It must be exhausting! 

For anyone wondering, they are never left alone like this! I just can’t resist taking a picture before I move FVB into his own bed!

In the grand scheme of things, I’ll be dealing with this level of neediness for such a short time, so I’m trying to enjoy the closeness while I have it. Oreos will always be there (unless some horrible thing happens where they are discontinued or they start putting animal parts or secretions in them), but my boys will not always want me to snuggle them. It can be super overwhelming at times and I definitely have moments where I envy the parents who have “trained” their kids to sleep alone, but overall I am happy to have them in our bed knowing that they will one day be gone. First across the hall, and then out of the house entirely. And it will probably go a lot faster than I want it to! This season is just one of many seasons of their lives and I am trying to enjoy it for all that it is. Sometimes I even smile! 

OK, I’ve made it until almost 10pm which is way later than I need to be awake. Sweet dreams! 

 

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Pantry: Part II

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(If you haven’t already, please read the first installment of this post here!) Quick random notes before we begin the pantry talk: 1. FVB turned 3! How is that possible??? 2. We are traveling by plane with both kids for the first time tomorrow morning…eek! Wish us lots of luck. 3. HVB gets cuter and heftier with each passing day. FVB declares almost daily “I love my brother, he’s my best friend.” I sure hope that stays true into adolescence and beyond! 

Well hello there world!
OK, on to the pantry! 

Now that you know HOW we got our pantry organized, I’ll share what we actually keep in there! Our basic layout is:

Top shelf:

  • Storage bins for overflow
  • Coconut oil, Olive oil, vegetable oil, and agave nectar 

Two Middle shelves:

  • Canned goods
  • Pasta
  • Jarred goods
  • Dry Goods

Back of door:

  • Spices, alphabetized (loosely). This saves time when cooking and also saves us from buying double spices because we can’t find something. *note: this is not fool proof. Double buying has happened!

Floor:

  • Dog food

Out of pantry: 

  • Three staple flours (whole wheat, bread, and AP)
  • Vinegars (balsamic, apple cider, rice, red wine) and other liquids (sesame oil, vanilla)

We also have what we call our “auxiliary pantry,” where we store bulk items that we get from BJ’s (like Costco), or extra canned/jarred items.

I won’t take you through each and every jar, but I’ll give you a good idea of our staple items so that you can get a sense of what we rely on to get dinner on the table!

We look at our diet as consisting mainly of:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Beans

Our favorite pantry grains are brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and quinoa (not actually a grain…but close enough). We keep other types of rice on hand, and sometimes have random things like barley, but mostly we stick to the basic rice, pasta, quinoa.  FVB is not a huge fan of any of these at the moment! Our favorite way to cook rice is in the rice cooker, and we LOVE this recipe. It calls for basmati rice, but I’ve made it successfully with brown rice. 

Just enjoying this delicious wrap!

We love all kinds of nuts and seeds! We keep walnuts, almonds, cashews, and peanuts on hand at all times. FVB LOVES cashews!  We use nuts in various things: trail mix, eating plain, putting in muffins, making pesto, or topping oatmeal. We use cashews for creamy sauces as well. 
We also keep sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds on hand for various uses. I hear that hemp seeds are super nutritious, so they may be added to the mix soon!  I like sunflower seeds on top of salads, chia seeds are great in smoothies or to use for overnight oats, and flax seed is our go-to for egg replacement in baking.  We also have raisins, chocolate chips, and popcorn kernels on this shelf. 

And of course we love beans! We have a lot of dried beans, but I’m not as consistent about cooking them as I used to be.  I buy a lot more canned these days, but hope to get back into cooking my own more regularly soon. We have: black, red, white and garbanzo, plus various colored lentils.  And we always have refried beans around for when we need a quick dinner- tacos to the rescue! My favorite way to cook black beans is in the slow cooker, after soaking overnight.  These Cuban black beans are SO GOOD and really easy. 

We keep a variety of canned/jarred goods, including:

  • coconut milk (light and full fat, for use in curries and our favorite coconut lime rice)
  • Lots of tomato things, including marinara sauce, pizza sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salsa and sun dried tomatoes 
  • diced green chilies (fun for taco night!)
  • olives (all kinds, great for snacking, pizza topping, or in a sauce)
  • peanut butter (toast, crackers, or mixed with chocolate chips for a yummy dessert)

We also have basic baking supplies, like sugar (cane, brown, confectioners, and coconut), baking soda and powder, corn starch, cocoa powder, cacao powder, and a few different types of flour. We like having tapioca starch or arrowroot powder for thickening as well. We don’t do a ton of baking, but it’s nice to have the supplies on hand when the mood strikes…or when there’s a birthday in the house! 

I love this mini cake!
OK, must get some rest to prepare for the long day of travel tomorrow. Cheers to the (almost) weekend! 

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Pantry: Part One

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I am NOT the most organized person, but sometimes I have really amazing ideas (stolen from Pinterest) and completely impress myself  with the fact that I carry them out!  Most recently, I redid our pantry and also my craft room closet.  I’m so happy with the results of both.  Today, I bring you Part One of my special two part series about our pantry make over!  Part One will cover our system and what containers we use, and Part Two will cover what is actually IN the containers.  Also, I will sneak in pictures of the boys just to keep my mom happy.

A few months ago, when I was 8 months pregnant (read: huge, uncomfortable, and miserable) we had a mouse infestation. This was discovered when I moved the toaster oven on top of our counter and found mouse poop.  Upon further investigation, it was determined that they had been eating out of our pantry.

After reading about ways to keep mice OUT of your pantry, we realized that we had basically just been attracting them with our mishmash of opened packages. So, we decided to do a complete over haul and reorganize everything. (I had only been pinning pantry organization plans for 2 years, so I guess it was about time!)  I was not necessarily excited about the task of redoing our entire pantry while pregnant and entertaining a toddler, however now that I have two of them, I’m realizing how easy I had it back when it was just FVB!

The first step to getting organized (and in our case, sanitized) was to empty the entire pantry. Our pantry is basically a deep closet with shelves. It’s not ideal, because the shelves are deep, making it hard to see what you have in there.  The sliding racks do help!  During the clean out, we discovered that the mice had clearly been enjoying our pantry as a “dine in” restaurant for quite some time WITHOUT US KNOWING. This meant that mice had been in and out of our pantry, climbing over our food containers, and peeing/pooping as they pleased.  We discovered two small peanut butter packs had been chewed through, licked clean, and left behind.

THIS. IS. HORRIFYING.

After completely emptying everything out, cleaning with bleach, throwing out roughly 50% of the items, and crying a little bit, it was time to get organized. We probably went about a week with everything out of the pantry while we measured, figured out a good system, shopped for and purchased the containers, and created/printed the labels. OK, fine, 2 weeks.

Important details to know:

Containers: We use all glass or plastic storage containers. I love mason jars and I also repurposed glass jars from things like salsa, peanut butter, and jam. Hubs HATES how many glass jars that I save and reuse, but he was very thankful that we had them around when it came time to organize the pantry! His main concern has having things look alike. My main concern was cost. In addition to repurposing what we already had, we also bought containers from Target, Walmart, and Dollar Tree.  My favorite repurposed ones are the little jam ones with red and white tops. The jam is called Bonne Maman and it’s delicious- FVB approved!- so it’s a win/win.  FVB enjoys the jam and I enjoy repurposing the jars.

From Target:  Oxo Flip Top containers , Room Essentials Tall Canister (not shown), Sterilite Storage Container, Sterilite Storage Tote

From Walmart: Canning Jars

From Dollar Tree: Small Glass Containers 

Labels: We bought these really awesome labels made by Avery at Walmart. You go online to their site and choose your design, then create your labels and print. I was able to do this project and my craft room project using one pack of these.

Set up: The basic system is that everything goes into (labeled) containers. No opened packages allowed, because this attracts the pests into your pantry!  (I made an exception for coffee beans, because I just don’t think the mice will be attracted to them). We use the two bins on the top shelf to store opened items, (it can be labeled on the outside with dry erase markers). When we get something from the store, we fill the glass jars first, then store the extra, refilling the jars until the extra is gone and it’s time to buy more! I love this system because it’s easy to see what we have and saves us from trying to store a bunch of opened bags.  The only trouble that I sometimes have is getting the storage boxes down off of the top shelf, getting what I need, and putting them back. Especially while baby wearing. I wish I could store the containers side by side, or at the bottom, but until we no longer have dog food to store, top shelf it is!

Stayed tuned for next week’s installment to find out what we always have on hand in our pantry.  Hint: much of it is food that is NOT on FVB’s list of favorite things, which currently is: Toast, jelly, fruit, hummus, and crackers. Oh, and Tofutti sour cream.  I can’t wait until he grows out of this picky stage!  Luckily he’s cute.

 

Have a great rest of the week!

 

 

 

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There are TWO of them?!?

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It’s hard to believe HVB is already 2 months old!  Time is going quickly in some ways and very slowly in others.  We are getting into the rhythm of daily life with two kids and figuring out how to manage everyone’s needs.  It’s a steep learning curve, that’s for sure!  FVB has continued to love on his brother and really has adjusted amazingly well to this huge change in his life. I think I am having the most trouble adjusting out of all of us!  A wise person once told me that when you go from 1 kid to 2 kids your work doesn’t just double, it increases tenfold.  I have definitely found that to be the case.

HVB is just beginning to show a bit of a personality, smiling and cooing and spending more and more time awake.  In addition to smiling, there are a few tears.  Overall though, he’s been a pretty happy baby.  I can’t wait to see how much fun the two boys will have once HVB is big enough to play!

HVB: OK, Seriously?! What is happening to me?!

My time for writing (OK, my time for everything outside of keeping two kids alive and entertained) has suffered immensely, but I’m trying to keep my ideas flowing and get some new posts up!  In order to have a little bit of time to myself to write/pay bills/research things/ etc, I have been attempting “quiet time” with FVB (since he gave up napping).  This has been met with mixed results. Some days I have a blissful 30 minutes where HVB is sleeping and FVB is playing happily by himself, and other days I am nursing HVB and FVB is crawling all over me whining.  Or sometimes a mixture of both. I know a lot of stay at home parents use the evenings as their alone time, but by the time FVB is bathed and put to bed, HVB is ready to nurse again and I’m ready to collapse on the couch with hubs and watch TV for an hour before passing out from exhaustion. Not exactly the time of day to do my best work! I’m hoping to eventually get to a point where I can have an hour or more of FVB quietly playing mid day while HVB naps, but I don’t see that happening anytime in the near future.

The space between them is where I sleep. Spacious, huh?

As far as our eating goes, we have suffered greatly since my in laws left.  They spoiled us by grocery shopping AND cooking delicious gourmet meals every night (oh, and entertaining FVB, cleaning, and doing laundry), and then they left us to fend for ourselves.  How could they!  Luckily, Hubs has been doing the grocery shopping, so I haven’t even attempted to take both boys out together on my own.  He’s also done a lot of the cooking, but I’m starting to get back into it. Mainly by looking at Pinterest and pinning recipe ideas for some day way in the distant future when I can plan and cook a meal that requires more than two or three steps.  In the meantime, we’ve been relying on quick and easy meals these days. Lots of soups, tacos/burritos, and rice/veggies.  I recently discovered a new site that I really like called The Vegan 8.  I can’t wait to try out some of the recipes!  There is a whole section dedicated to kid-friendly recipes and everything looks super yummy.

We are also busying day dreaming about summer and planting our garden.  Our grocery store produce leaves a lot to be desired and I am always so happy when gardening season comes!  Hopefully this winter weather breaks soon and we start getting some sunshine and warmth.

What kind of adventures will we have outside this summer, big brother?

Well, Happy Hour is now upon us and a nice cold Blue Moon is calling my name.  Let’s hope it’s not another two months before I can manage to post again.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

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Welcome HVB!

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I did it!  I survived pregnancy and managed to deliver a healthy almost 8 pound baby (7 lbs 14 oz).  I’d like to introduce you to the newest member of our family, Sullivan, who shall hence force be known as:  HVB (Husky Vegan Baby).

So very tired!
So very tired!

I won’t go into the gory details, but I will say that the VERY first words I spoke to hubs after HVB arrived were “I am NEVER doing that again.”  Now, to be fair, my mom also informed me that when my older sister was born she proclaimed “You’re looking at an only child.”  So you never know….but I’d say that these two boys will be enough for me!  Also, if I do have any more, I think I’m just going to go ahead and get the pain meds.  Two med-free births was plenty.  HVB arrived both heavier AND longer than his big brother was at birth.  He had the good fortune to also be born to a mama who was already producing milk, so he has bulked right back after after losing a few ounces after birth.  As of Friday, he was almost back up to his birth weight, just a few days after arriving!  I’m so happy that he is nursing so well and packing on those ounces.

Those cheeks!
Those cheeks!

We are all just getting used to being a family of four.  Luckily I have a great support system and have been able to take it easy the last week and just enjoy time resting and bonding with HVB.  FVB is an amazing big brother…he’s obviously still adjusting and there are some struggles, but overall it is going really well.  The first time he witnessed HVB nursing, the look on his face was priceless.  It was sort of a combination of horror and despair.  However, I’m happy to report that he is much more comfortable with HVB nursing these days, and we have been able to maintain our previously established nursing boundaries (he only nurses once per day, at night before he falls asleep). HVB, on the other hand, is nursing mostly every hour and a half!   So naturally, I am starving most of the time. I’ve been eating and drinking like crazy to keep up my calories, and when I’m not eating I am on Pinterest pinning recipes (with key words like fast, easy, one pot, etc).  I’m taking my prenatals a bit more religiously and of course drinking copious amounts of water.  Now that you know how we all are doing, I will go on a small rant about the food situation in the hospital.

Being vegan as a hospital patient was….. interesting.  We had asked ahead of time if they would be able to accommodate our dietary restrictions, and they assured us that they had a separate “chef prepared” vegan menu.  Sounds great, right?  Turns out, it was basically a few things that they pulled off of their “regular” menu that were vegan. I also don’t totally believe that they knew what vegan meant, because they had a Gardenburger on their vegan menu, and I’m pretty sure Gardenburgers are vegetarian, not vegan.  I was able to eat oatmeal, fruit, and potatoes for breakfast, which they served with chocolate soy milk both times (hey, I won’t say no to a little chocolate in my oatmeal!)  I tried ordering a salad once, which was described as “mixed field greens topped with a medley of roasted vegetables and served with a side of citrus vinaigrette.” Well, when it arrived it was ice burg lettuce topped with shredded carrots and chicken.  So naturally I sent it back and re-requested my original salad order.  It came back a second time EXACTLY the same.  I clarified yet again that I wanted a vegan salad.  When she brought it back the third time, it was ice burg lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and raw mushrooms.  As she handed it to me, she said “I just made it, the kitchen was confused about what was supposed to go on it.  I don’t really know what vegan even means so I hope this is OK.”  So much for the “chef prepared” aspect of the menu.  I also ordered pasta with red sauce for dinner, which was OK but sadly wasn’t whole wheat pasta and didn’t come with any veggies (I was hesitant to try ordering a salad again!)  Hubs had kindly done a grocery store run and stocked us up with a few healthier and tastier options, so I did have a delicious container of roasted veggies that I added in with the pasta.  I also tried ordering an iced tea with lemon wedges, and they sent up a can of Fuze Lemon Iced Tea, which is basically water and high fructose corn syrup.  The maternity floor had a fridge with a selection of free drinks that included:  coke, diet coke, and ginger ale.  Lucky for me, hubs had packed sparkling water and cranberry juice for me. I say all this not to be snotty and stick my nose up at the hospital cafeteria, but just to draw attention to a few things.  This is a hospital, a place where sick people go to get well, or where healthy people like me stay to recover, and I’m shocked that what I described was the BEST they could do to nourish me.  Ice burg lettuce, white pasta, and high fructose corn syrup.  It’s maddening.  When I was being discharged, they were giving me instructions on boosting my iron levels and listed leafy greens as a good source of iron…..as they serve me ice burg lettuce for my salad.  C’MON people, we can do better than this!!!  Our hospitals should be stocked with the absolute HEALTHIEST food and drink you can find.  Or at the very least a few leafy greens mixed in with that ice burg!  I will say that the hummus and veggie plate was quite good.  That’s about the only positive remark I can make about the whole thing.

Needless to say, I am thrilled to be home and eating my own food (or, more accurately, my mom’s food).  Hubs and FVB are off on a grocery store run now, and I am enjoying listening to the newborn sounds coming from the baby swing next to me. Soon enough I’ll be writing with the background noise of two little boys playing, so I’ll enjoy the relative silence that I have now!  Hope to be back on writing again soon.  Please enjoy this very sweet photo of FVB and HVB together.  So much love!

Hey brother!
Hey brother!
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Toddler Entertainment

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FVB, as he has gotten older, has become A LOT more independent.  This is a really great thing, especially considering that his brother is going to be here soon and will require the majority of my attention.  Also, he has recently started dropping naps (GAHHHHHHHH, not ready for this milestone!!) so letting him play independently while I do other things is necessary for my sanity. I love that he can play and that I can (mostly) trust that he will be safe and keep himself entertained.  He has a huge imagination and comes up with all sorts of scenarios using his toys.  I love listening to him narrate his games from the other room (the kitchen, it’s always the kitchen…. seriously, how do I spend SO MUCH TIME in there?!)  So far, he has been quite happy to keep himself occupied while I do other things, and we’ve only had a few “incidences” to speak of.  I will share briefly, knowing that you won’t judge me.  Before I share, just look at the picture below to understand the weather we’ve been having lately.  Seriously.  3 feet of snow is magical to both a toddler AND an elderly dog.

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I don’t know who’s having more fun!

OK, on to our incidences:

#1:  I had a bunch of stuff out in the upstairs hallway that I was putting away, and he was playing nearby with a key that he had found.  Next thing I know he’s sobbing, saying his hand hurts.  I asked him what happened and he pointed to the electrical outlet and said “that thing hurt me.”  UM…..DID YOU STICK THE KEY INTO IT?!?  Yes, yes he did.  Thankfully he wasn’t seriously injured.  I sort of thought we were past the outlet cover stage.  Guess not!  Outlets were all quickly covered again and we had a very serious talk about how dangerous outlets can be.  Fast forward to a week or so later.  FVB is downstairs, Hubs is downstairs, I am upstairs.  Hubs and I are both doing other things but are both “monitoring” him.  I come downstairs and find him with a screw driver, just inches away from the electrical outlet.  Guess that lesson didn’t really sink in!

#2: I’m in the kitchen, FVB is in the living room playing.  It’s quiet for awhile, so I yell out “Hey, buddy, how’s it going?” to which he replies, “Fine, I peed in the dollhouse so I’m just cleaning it up!”  I go in to investigate, and sure enough he has a large wad of toilet paper soaking up the puddle of pee that is INSIDE of the dollhouse.  Hey, at least he was being resourceful and cleaning up after himself! In other news, potty training is really going well.

#3:  FVB is outside, I am inside.  Hubs and I are both periodically checking on him.  I poke my head out of the door and ask him how it’s going and he replies, “Well, I’m pretty lonely out here…. and I fell down and cried and Mommy didn’t come…..and I have poop in my underwear.”  In FVB’s words, this can be summed up as “pretty not good.”  (And, again, potty training is going AWESOME!)

#4:  I leave FVB downstairs BRIEFLY, just so that I can get dressed.  Maybe 2 minutes later I hear a far away voice yelling “MOMMY! HELP!”  I run downstairs and frantically start searching, but can’t find him.  I realize that the sound is coming from behind the bathroom door, which I discover is locked.  Awesome!  I immediately panic, but keep my calm voice as I ask him if he can unlock the door.  He replies that he can’t.  So I spend a few minutes talking him through unlocking it, while in my head I am trying to figure out if my 8-month pregnant stomach can climb a ladder in the snow AND fit through the tiny bathroom window.  Thankfully he was able to get it unlocked.  Once open, he tells me that he fell into the big potty.  I discover the seat up on the toilet, and he is, sure enough, a little bit wet.  (So…..potty training?!?)

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Me, cause trouble? No way!

If it seems as though we spend a lot of time at home, it’s true.  FVB loves being at home and can literally go DAYS without wanting to leave the house/yard.  This is fine sometimes, especially during this cold/snow snap that we are having (is it technically a “snap” when it will last until spring?) but other times I get a little stir crazy and need to get out and enjoy the world.  We live in a small town, and winter is setting in, so our options are limited.  Also, we have found that many events in our area involve animal exploitation on SOME level, whether it be through the food they serve (pancake/sausage/bacon breakfast with Santa), or the entertainment that they provide (petting zoo for the kids at the pumpkin patch).  It’s frustrating to not be able to participate in things, or to participate in things while having to witness the exploitation AND explain it to your toddler.  Once you are attuned to animal exploitation, you start to see it everywhere, but it is much easier to avoid the zoo, aquarium, rodeo, etc when you don’t have a kid.  Now that FVB is getting older, I know that this will become harder to avoid; in fact we have already experienced a few things that I would have rather avoided!

One example:  we went to a pumpkin patch back in October, and of course they had animals penned up in various places throughout so that the kids could look at them/ pet them.  They also only served non-vegan food (which I have come to expect from everywhere we go!).  It was a really cool place, and FVB enjoyed jumping on the bounce house, riding the train, and looking for pumpkins.  Would we have made the decision to go had we known about the animals that would be penned up there?  I don’t know.  I struggle with this because on one hand, I do want FVB to see these things and know that this type of use/abuse of animals is all around us.  And I want him to be able to enjoy cool places that have train rides and bounce houses and giant pumpkins.  On the other hand, I don’t like supporting places that use/abuse animals by giving them my money.  It’s a struggle, and one that I know we will face regularly as FVB gets older.

While at the pumpkin patch, I took a bunch of pictures to illustrate the difference between their set up for the animals and the set up at our favorite rescue organization, Farm Sanctuary.

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A horse, a pig, and some chickens penned up so that patrons to the pumpkin patch can look at them, or feed them food purchased at the patch.  

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If you follow us on Facebook, you’ve probably seen our many posts from our various visits to the sanctuary throughout the year.  It is only a 2 hour drive from us, and we are huge supporters of the work they do, so we love going as often as we can while they are open. Most recently we went to their event celebrating the turkeys, held the weekend before Thanksgiving.

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A pig and a pumpkin, it’s a beautiful thing!
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The turkeys enjoy their very own Thanksgiving feast!
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FVB enjoys watching the pigs eat pumpkins!

 

The difference is, in one scenario, the animals are there FOR US.  In the other scenario, we are there FOR THE ANIMALS.  Did we enjoy watching the turkeys eat their feast, and the pigs eating the pumpkins?  Of course!  It was very entertaining.  However, we were in a mutually beneficial scenario.  The turkeys were in their comfortable, familiar environment and were enjoying delicious food.  The staff was very good about maintaining distance between the turkeys and the guests, and brought people a few at a time to help feed the animals.  And we were in and out of their area in under 30 minutes. Farm Sanctuary encourages interactions between people and animals, but with respect for the animals’ wants and needs, not the humans.’  THAT is what makes all of the difference.

Obviously it can be frustrating for us to miss out on things, and to feel like “that weird family” that doesn’t participate in many activities.  It can also be frustrating to make a decision to go somewhere, and to be faced with animal use/abuse that you didn’t even know would be there.  Over the winter we went to visit a maple syrup operation and were faced with baby cow and a baby lamb, penned up inside tiny veal crates and tied up.  Supposedly they were “rejected” by their mothers and were being taken care of by the farm.  Doubtful.  Go here to see my original Facebook post about it, in case you missed it.  We will continue to do our best to find cruelty-free entertainment around us, and to expose FVB to as little animal use/abuse as possible, but we know that it is everywhere.  One thing that we will definitely keep doing is visiting sanctuaries so that FVB can see how animals SHOULD be treated.  Since we do travel quite a bit, I like to check out this website, just in case there’s a sanctuary near where we will be visiting.  It is organized by state, so it’s easy to find a sanctuary near you!  One place we enjoyed visiting while traveling in Canada was Happily Ever Esther sanctuary. Definitely do some research and find places near you to visit; it’s a great chance to interact with farm animals and support the people who are working day in and day out to rescue and rehabilitate abused animals. If you live close enough to a sanctuary, you can also volunteer!

OK, that about wraps it up for me!  Must go see what my toddler has been doing for the last half hour.  Hmmm…… where is he, anyway?

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I’m exhausted from all of the trouble I’ve been stirring up lately!

 

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Vegan Pregnancy

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It is not a secret if you know me that I do not like being pregnant.  It doesn’t agree with me:  I feel nauseous a lot, I get heart burn, and I do not like the feeling of being large.  You can read more about my pregnancy with FVB here.  I’m currently pregnant with FVB2 (still figuring out a good blog name for him) and nothing is better; in fact it may be a little bit worse!  Pregnancy this time around is a little different in other ways, too.  I’m not teaching anymore, so I don’t have the stress of work to contend with. It was pretty challenging to manage my sickness while teaching; I threw up in my classroom more than once and I really struggled with not being able to eat or go to the bathroom whenever I needed/wanted to. (If you have ever tried eating in front of children without sharing with them, you know the struggle is real.  I had twelve 5-year-olds.  You best believe I wasn’t just snacking openly. Also, you do NOT want to leave a room of 5-year-olds unattended while you pee. Trust me).   So, this time around I don’t have an outside job, but I do have a 2.5 year old. This comes with some pros and cons.

PROS:

  • I can stay in my PJs for the entire day if I feel like it
  • I can participate in many activities while laying down (reading books, playing trains, etc)
  • I can nap in the middle of the day (providing FVB naps)
  • I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want

CONS:

  • FVB is not the most empathetic companion to hang out with all day when I’m feeling nauseous or tired
  • FVB doesn’t fully grasp my limited physical capacity (he wants to sit on my lap, be carried, etc with no mind for my large stomach)
  • My “job” of mommy doesn’t end at 3:30pm like my teaching job did.  There is no checking out and heading home to lay down and watch TV.

I’m doing my best though, and trying to keep a positive attitude on crappier days.  I am so excited to welcome FVB#2 into our family, and that joy is helpful to keep in the back of my mind when I’m struggling. (Side note: please help me with a name for this little guy….FVB2 is just not flowing off of my tongue/fingertips).

I am always sweet, kind, and patient with my very pregnant mommy.
I am always sweet, kind, and patient with my very pregnant mommy.

Despite the struggles with pregnancy, I am NOT concerned about having a vegan pregnancy.  At the beginning of my pregnancy with FVB, I was just making my transition to veganism (in fact I did eat a bit of dairy here and there at the very beginning), so I wasn’t fully confident.  I spent a long time researching veganism while pregnant. This in part was to appease hubs (who was not even vegetarian at this point), but also to make sure that I was fully knowledgeable about what I needed. I bought The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book by Reed Mangels and Your Vegetarian Pregnancy by Holly Roberts. A quick search on Amazon results in many others, so there are many options out there! I definitely recommend buying a few (or borrowing from the library). I learned a lot and felt more confident discussing my diet with my OBGYN after spending time reading.

At first, I charted my meals, calculated my protein/calcium/vitamin/mineral intake, and was a tiny bit obsessive about tracking my food. I wasn’t super keen on the idea of taking prenatal vitamins, and I really wanted to try to meet my needs through whole foods. When I visited my doctor, I shared my food notebook with her. She was shocked. She actually said: “If you can promise me that this is how you eat ALL OF THE TIME, then you are OK without the vitamins.” Of course, this was in my super early pregnancy days, when I was eating like a normal person, before I started feeling like absolute crap and gagging at the sight of leafy greens. I did take a vitamin sporadically during that time because I wasn’t eating much besides potatoes and bread (and chocolate).  With this second pregnancy, I am trying to be better about taking my vitamins, just because it’s an easy way to make sure I’m getting what I need. I have felt just as sick with this one, and it’s lasting longer, plus I’m also nursing a toddler, so this feels like the best way to stay as healthy as possible. I take the Deva Prenatals. You can find them here. There are a number of options for vegan prenatals, but this was the most economical so I went with that!

Also interesting to note, I am slightly anemic. I always have been, as has my mom. It has never really affected my life and I don’t have symptoms. In pregnancy, it’s fairly common for women to experience slight anemia anyway, and it generally is not a problem. I’m certainly not dramatically anemic, and my mid-wife is not concerned. She actually never even mentioned it, I only found out because I asked!   During my first pregnancy, my doctor was really pushy about me taking iron supplements, and they obsessively tracked my iron levels.  I did try taking the supplements, but they didn’t do much to boost my levels. I’ve read more about it now, and it seems that you have to take them for MONTHS before seeing any noticeable difference. Fortunately, my mid-wife is not pushy about me supplementing; she suggested a brand of supplement that I could try if I wanted to and gave me a few ideas of iron-rich foods.  Good sources of iron for vegans include: tofu, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, spinach and other leafy greens, dried apricots, and blackstrap molasses.

I have found, with both of my pregnancies, that I try to listen to my body as much as possible. I eat when I’m hungry, and I eat what I’m craving (to an extent). With FVB, I gained just shy of 32 pounds, and with baby #2 I am on track to gain about the same. I think that if you have a healthy relationship with food, and you listen to your body, you will naturally eat the necessary amount of calories.  In the first trimester, when I was especially nauseous, my weight gain was slow, and I did have one month where I didn’t gain at all, but it all evened out and I have been gaining steadily as I should.

We do this every four weeks and it's soooooo boring!
We do this every four weeks and it’s soooooo boring!

I am seriously looking forward to feeling and eating like a normal (well, as “normal” as I am) person again!  It will be a relief to be over the nausea, heart burn, and general discomfort of pregnancy.  Can’t wait to meet this sweet baby boy!

 

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