Baby Led Weaning….Take 2!


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!






Picky Eating

Sometimes I love broccoli!

There are over 1,500 books on Amazon about picky eating.  1500.  This is obviously an issue that a lot of parents struggle with.  In many of the groups that I’m in on Facebook, there are constantly questions, concerns, and comments about picky eating.  Here are just a few:

“Is my toddler really not hungry, or just picky?”

“My 22 month old is VERY picky.”

“I don’t know what to do, my toddler has been extremely picky the last few months.”

“My toddler is super picky.”

“My 2 year old is suddenly very picky.”

“How do you get your toddler to eat veggies?”

“My child has become increasingly picky.”

“My picky toddler wants to eat nothing but ___.”

“My kid used to eat everything, now he’ll only eat ____.”

“I’m getting worried about my toddler’s extreme pickiness.”

Now, I am not a nutritionist.  Nor am I a child development expert.  Nor am I a doctor.  I’m just another parent, trying to feed my kid!  I’m going to offer you my perspective, which you are welcome to agree or disagree with.  Maybe you’ll find it helpful.  Maybe you’ll think I’m a dud.  Either way, you’ll at least know that you aren’t alone in having a picky toddler!

Toddlers are notoriously picky when it comes to food everything.  FVB is no exception.  If you follow us on Facebook, you probably notice that he often eats the same things over and over again.  Favorites include:

  • Hummus and crackers
  • Melted Chao cheese on crackers with mustard
  • Grapes
  • Toast
  • Pancakes
  • Cereal
  • Pasta
  • Ketchup
  • Pizza

Do you notice that there are no vegetables on this list?  And only one fruit?  And that it’s basically made up of carbs?  Well, this is life with a toddler.  Vegan or not, toddlers/kids are just picky.  According to Dr. Sears, “We have since learned that there are developmental reasons why kids between one and three years of age peck and poke at their food. After a year of rapid growth (the average one-year-old has tripled her birth weight), toddlers gain weight more slowly. So, of course, they need less food.”  True….. but how much less?  And should I be worried on days that FVB literally only eats toast with jelly and chex mix???  In short, I’ve concluded that no, I shouldn’t be worried.  I’ve heard from countless sources that toddler nutrition should be looked at over the course of a week, not a day.  Once I started thinking of FVB’s eating in terms of a week, I felt much better about what he actually is getting.  (Also, FVB still nurses twice per day, so I always have breastmilk as a base line!  Thank goodness for that!)

I may or may not eat this.
I may or may not eat any of this.

My (and hubs’) basic philosophy on food is that our job is to offer healthy food the majority of the time, and leave it up to FVB whether he eats it or not, and how much he chooses to eat.  We never force or bribe him to eat, and we don’t reward eating with treats.  We offer food roughly 5 times per day (three meals and two snacks), and we also rely on FVB to tell us when he is hungry, and what he wants to eat.  We aren’t super strict, nor are we super permissive.  He does eat unhealthy things now and then (hello Oreos), and I try not to freak out about it.  Do I wish he ate more vegetables?  Sure.  Do I think that he will outgrow the eating habits he has now?  Sure do!

Here are two examples of meal time that illustrate how we manage food.

  1.  We sit down to dinner.  I made lasagna roll ups.  On FVB’s plate he has bread, a lasagna roll up, and pears.  Upon seeing his plate, he shrieks “I DON’T LIKE THIS!  I WANT DIFFERENT NOODLES!”  To which I reply, “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.”  Then we sat down and started eating. He grumbled a little bit about the noodles, and decided to eat his pears and bread.  After a few minutes he tried the lasagna.  And proclaimed that he liked it.  So there you go.  No fight, no power struggle.  Now, I COULD have gone into the kitchen and made him plain noodles with red sauce.  But I had a sneaking suspicion that he would really like the lasagna once he tried it.  I mean, it’s still pasta after all!  And I was right.  There are some situations where I DON’T force the issue, like the next scenario.
  2. We sit down to dinner.  FVB has coconut rice, cashew-ginger tofu, broccoli, and grapes.  FVB is luke warm about tofu, and broccoli is a hit or miss.  Same with rice.  This was definitely a “riskier” meal in terms of going outside of his comfort zone.  There are days where he’s eaten 1 full cup of broccoli (dipped in sweet ‘n sour sauce), and many other days where he flat out refuses it.  This is VERY typical toddler eating behavior.  So, this meal was one that I was not going to push too much.  He eats the grapes, then says “I don’t like this, I want hummus and crackers.”  I debate in my head a while over whether or not to get him what he’s asked for, or push him to eat the meal that I made.  In the end I decided to give him the crackers and hummus, after asking him if he’d like to try the meal on his plate.

    Well the sour cream is good....
    Well the sour cream is good….

I think it’s also important to note that, for every meal and snack BESIDES dinner, FVB is given choices.  I typically ask him what he wants to eat for breakfast and lunch, and for snacks.  I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to have one meal where the rules change and he has no choice but to eat what’s in front of him.  Two, I think crackers, hummus, and fruit is a healthy meal.  We eat multi grain crackers, hummus contains protein and fat (important for a growing toddler), and fruits are filled with essential nutrients.  Also important to note, we are vegan, and I consider us to be pretty healthy in our food choices, but we aren’t as strict as many.  We try to focus on whole foods as much as possible.  We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans/nuts.  But we also eat processed stuff, like crackers, vegan cheeses, sour cream, and meat substitutes, and we use oil and sugar in our cooking and baking.

FVB is only 2.5.  I imagine that as he gets older, we will start at least insisting that he try foods before proclaiming that he doesn’t like them, and will be a little more pushy about eating the meal that is served.  But at this stage, I think that it’s important to meet kids where they are and to offer them choices that you are comfortable with.  I’d rather focus on having him build a healthy relationship with food than on forcing him to eat something he doesn’t like (or doesn’t THINK that he likes).  Also, 95% of the time he either tries what’s on his plate, or just eats what he wants off of it and then asks to get down and play.  He RARELY asks for something different.  So overall I feel certain that he’s getting what he needs through food and breastmilk combined, and that he is developing a healthy relationship with food and knows that he has a good amount of autonomy over what he eats.

OK, smells like my brownies are done baking, so I’m off to sneak a few bites before FVB wakes up!  Hey, vegan mamas like treats, too =)

Yup, this is an OREO.
Yup, this is an OREO.



Reflections on Vegan Parenting


I’ve posted at least one other post in which I sort of rant about what it’s like to be out in the world as a vegan, interacting with other people who are definitely NOT vegan (my poor grandma almost had a heart attack reading it due to language, so reader beware).  I feel moved to post something similar now, after finding a piece that I had started writing last year, right after the killing of Cecil the Lion.  This is not an angry rant (and there are no swear words, Grandma), but rather my reflections on the ways in which we view animals as a society, and how this affects me on a daily basis, both as an individual and as a parent.  I took my original piece of writing, cleaned it up, and then continued it where I had abruptly left off (probably to deal with some toddler related emergency). It is a break from my usual sarcasm and self-deprecating humor, but I hope that you will read it anyway and think about my perspective.

Before we get too deep, how about a cute picture?

Being a toddler is EXHAUSTING.
Being a toddler is EXHAUSTING.

And now, for the deep stuff!

There is outrage everywhere over the killing of Cecil the lion.  I could not agree more with the anger and heartbreak that people are expressing  over this murder.  It is cruel and unjust, and Cecil did not deserve this horrible death.

I urge you, however, to consider this:  what if Cecil were a pig?  Would that make a difference?  What if Cecil were a dolphin?  What about an ostrich? Are any of these animals less deserving than Cecil of living their lives in peace? I don’t think so. But many do, because many people simply believe that some animals we kill and eat and some we don’t. Why? Because that’s the way it’s always been.  That’s what we have always done.  We love dogs, but we eat pigs.   We pay to swim with dolphins, but we eat salmon.  We exclaim over a cute duck family at the park, but eat chickens and chicken eggs. And worse, we allow these animals to be tortured, raped, and abused before we shock them and slit their throats, then “process” them so we can eat their bodies and drink the milk meant for their babies.  It is cruel and unjust, yet we pretend that this doesn’t matter because they are “food.”  Or we say that we buy only meat where the animals lived a “good” life and were treated humanely.  Do not kid yourself; slaughter houses don’t care how happy the animal was that comes in to be murdered. The end is the same.
I’ve read statistics that state that the majority (upwards of 90%) of people who eat and purchase meat care about how the animals were raised.  There seems to be a rise in the popularity of meat marketed as “humanely raised,” “grass-fed,” “free range,” or “raised with no antibiotics.” I urge anyone who is buying these products to do some research and reading about what you are buying.  The “humanely raised” label on your meat means next to nothing.  There is no generally accepted definition of this term, nor is there any governmental regulation in using this term (please see this article or this article for more information on this). From what I can gather through the extensive reading that I have done on this subject, these labels are, for the most part, used for marketing.  Companies who are raising, slaughtering, and selling animals for profit cannot have the welfare of these animals at the forefront of their business.  They are in business to make money, as the majority of businesses are!  If these companies know that consumers care about animal welfare, they will sell them a product designed to help them feel good about where their meat came from.  Slapping a “humanely raised” label on it seems to do the trick for many consumers out there.  It’s unfortunate that this term means so little, and that consumers are deceived into believing that it means more that it does.  I won’t go into this subject any more deeply, because the bottom line for me is that animals are not here for us to eat (or use).  When you look at it from that perspective, none of what I have just written matters a bit.
So how does all of this affect my parenting?  As a life-long vegetarian turned vegan, I never really wanted to know about how animals were raised in the meat industry.  I grew up with the understanding that we didn’t eat meat because we didn’t believe in killing animals for food (you can read more about my journey from vegetarian to vegan here).  That fact was certainly enough for me.  As an adult, though, I have spent a significant amount of time reading and researching about our food systems, the way we as a society view and interact with animals, and ways in which meat and dairy are aggressively marketed to consumers.  This is something that I care deeply about, not only as an individual, but as a parent who is teaching her child.  At this point, being only 2, FVB is only vaguely aware that there are many things that other people eat that we don’t.  His minimal exposure to this is limited to him seeing other people eat things, asking for those things, and being told that we don’t eat them.  We always travel prepared though, so we haven’t had any issues yet.  He has no idea of the why behind it, though we are nearing the point when we will need to explain it, because we want him to know the WHY behind our veganism, so that he can fully embrace this life style that we are so passionate about.  Maybe veganism won’t be his passion, but never the less, I want him to understand it. I don’t want him to just BE vegan, in the way that most children just eat the way that their parents eat without giving it much thought; I want him to be able to speak intelligently and compassionately about why he is vegan.  In order to prepare him for this, I keep myself informed, and I try to stay mindful of how I write and speak about veganism.  I read a lot.  I pay attention to how meat and dairy is marketed to the public. When we are driving, I look at the many, many farms that we pass and try to imagine the lives of the animals being raised there, and I notice that even the sweet looking dairy farm with a family name has a large enclosure that is filled with veal crates. I take all of this knowledge, and these experiences, and I hold on to them.  I keep them in my head while I listen to people share their reasons for consuming animal products, and I try not to judge them too harshly.  I try to share what I know, and where I am coming from, in the least aggressive way that I know how.  Those that know me quite well will know that it is often VERY hard for me not to be judgmental and aggressive when it comes to things that I am passionate about. But I know that some day, FVB will be listening a little bit more closely, and he will be taking his cues from me (and hubs) about how to talk to people about veganism.  I can only hope that we will have prepared him well!
Oh, and I also hope that you enjoyed this post =)  Until next time!



FVB recently learned the phrase “NO WAY, JOSE!” This is an awesome phrase for a two year old, because they basically say no to everything, so it might as well rhyme and sound cute.  FVB, being the individual that he is, made the phrase his own by saying “NO WAY HOSEY.”  He also likes to add the person’s name to the phrase, just to truly get his point across.  So, I often here the phrase “NO WAY HOSEY MOMMY” as a response to my requests. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?


Some days, parenting a two year old is just simply too exhausting, and I tell FVB that I’m tired of parenting for the day and that I’m going to lay down and read my book for awhile.  Then he sees my iPad (where I read all of my books) and starts chanting “Look at no-plows, mommy iPad” over and over and over and over again until I either give in or muster the energy to come up with a diversion.  Our most successful diversion these days is going outside.  Thankfully, spring is in the air and most days we have nice weather. We frequent the playground (that’s walkable!) and we also love spending time in our own backyard.  We moved in late last summer, so this is our first spring and we are discovering a lot of flowers!  We have 7+ garden beds filled with mystery flowers and/or weeds, so I have a lot to do to keep me busy out there while FVB plays!  We (hubs) also tilled a large area in the yard to create a garden, so we have high hopes for produce this year.  We are planning on: lettuce, spinach, kale, cucumbers, peas, broccoli, squash, zucchini, pumpkins, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, and some herbs. I painted some adorable garden markers (Pinterest WIN!) that I’m eager to get outside.  We are still waiting to be in the clear for outdoor planting– believe it or not we may still get a frost! In our true fashion, we jumped head first into seed starting, paying no attention to when certain plants can be planted outside.  So we wound up having to plant some squash, zucchini, and pumpkin outside a few weeks before we should have.  They are doing quite poorly…..but hubs is still holding out hope for them.  We are chalking this up as our “learning year,” so we may or may not have a high yield garden. Hey, learn as you go, right?

I love sunshine!
I love sunshine!
I completely a craft project successfully!
I completely a craft project successfully!

Although FVB has the typical struggles of a two-year-old, he also has shown tremendous growth, especially with separating from me.  We have lived here almost a year, and he can now happily go with my mom (his KK) with no tears.  Up until this point, we would have to talk about what we were going to do for several hours beforehand, and he’d often cry just thinking about it.  More often than not, I wouldn’t bother having KK take him, because I hated to get him so upset.  I held on to the idea that he’d go happily once he was ready. So much of what you read these days really pushes independence and “forcing” your child to separate from you so that they’ll learn how to be comfortable without you.  That never felt right to me, and since I’m home with him, and can pretty much do everything I need to do with him in tow, I have mostly just kept him.  KK would take him to the library here and there, or to Lowe’s, or to play at her house, and it was (mostly) successful. (I only got the call once to come and get him when he wasn’t able to settle down).  These days, though, he barely looks my way when we say goodbye, just says over his shoulder “see ya soon mommy!” as he heads off with KK on a fun adventure.  It is a great reminder to me that children grow in their own time and reach milestones when they are good and ready.  I’m hoping this will be the case with nursing, because MY GOODNESS am I tired of nursing!! We are down to only a few times a day (waking up, before nap, usually early evening, and before bed).  Nights are a different story, but I feel like we are making (slow) progress.  I often tell him “not now,” and distract him with something else.  I struggle some days and desperately want to be done nursing, but other days I feel really good about continuing to nurse him.  It’s hard to find support with extending nursing, as the majority of moms are NOT nursing toddlers, and most people just assume that I should wean him if I’m not loving every minute of nursing him.  As with anything, everyone has an opinion on this topic.  Luckily, there are only two people who get a say in this particular matter– me and FVB!  I’m trusting that it’ll work out as it should.  In the meantime, FVB is eating a good amount of food in addition to his “milky.”  Like all toddlers, he loves fruit, bread, and pasta.  He tries most things though, and even enjoys eating salad (sometimes).  We aim for three meals and two snacks, but follow the philosophy of “eat when you’re hungry.”


That is our update!  We have over 500 “likes” on Facebook and I have been updating our page much more regularly than I have been writing a full post.  Today I was lucky enough to have both a sleeping toddler and a sleeping husband, so naturally I slipped into the office to write =)

Have a fantastic weekend!


Toddler Travel!



FVB is a frequent flier, no doubt.  Having family all over the country, we need to travel often in order to see everyone!  We first flew with him when he was approximately 3 months old, and have taken him on approximately 8 other trips requiring at least 1, most times 2 flights.  We’ve learned a few things along the way about traveling with a baby/toddler.  The #1 lesson is that you literally never know how it’s going to go…. it could be super smooth, in which case you arrive at your destination, high five each other, and declare yourselves super competent parents who have this traveling thing DOWN.  It was not just luck.  Or, it could go quite poorly, in which case you arrive at your destination, give each other hugs, and blame any mishaps on any number of factors that are COMPLETELY OUT OF YOUR CONTROL!  I.e., baby/toddler’s poor sleep the night before/at nap time, plane conditions (too hot, too cold, too crowded, etc), flight times and/or delays, or airport amenities (no play area, not enough vegan options, etc).  It was just bad luck.

Since hubs and I are super competent parents who are ALWAYS prepared and can think on our feet, we obviously have tons of good tips to share.  The fact that these tips have worked for us is NOT due to the fact that we were lucky to be blessed with a child who travels by air very well.  It’s not luck, people!  It’s just good parenting!*

(*OK, please take all of what you read and throw it out the window.  We seriously are just lucky that FVB is a good flier.  He is NOT good in the car, so we figure this is our repayment. However, I will share our tips and pretend like they are the reason things have gone smoothly.)

FVB Travel Must Haves

Would you look at that gorgeous backpack??
  1. Backpack.  I went through several bag options before figuring out that the best possible travel bag for carrying on is a backpack.  When we moved in with my mom, I found that she had saved my awesome LL Bean bag from 7th grade (among many, many other treasures) .  In addition to being ULTRA stylish, this bag can hold a lot and wearing it on your back makes it easy somewhat manageable to hold a toddler AND your carry on. I stuff the backpack full of entertainment**, then clip my lunchbox on the top, and snap the portable changing pad on the top as well.  So not only do I have an awesome 90’s backpack on, it’s always fashionably sporting a lunchbox and a changing pad  (I usually try to dress a little bit cute to distract from the backpack/lunch box/ changing pad look). **Entertainment includes:  A gallon size zip lock bag filled with mini ziplock bags of stuff.  This makes it easy to grab on bag at a time.  In addition to the bags, I also bring a notebook and crayons, a few small books, and a dry erase board/marker.  Also, the iPad and toddler headphones.  I try to do a few new things that FVB has never seen before to hold his interest longer.  I hit up either the dollar store, Walmart, or the Target dollar section to find new treasures.  Things that have worked for us include: toy animals, toy cars/trains, small set of building blocks, mini wind up toys, small/simple puzzles, stamps and a stamp pad, stickers, Legos, Post It notes (seriously), a set of gel window clings, and any action figures/dolls/small people (FVB always asks for “a man” while we are traveling).

    Found this mini block set at Walmart!
    Found this mini block set at Walmart!
  2. Travel wallet.  So, FVB has his essentials covered in the giant backpack.  My essentials are:  photo I.D., FVB’s birth certificate, credit card, cash, and phone.  I went online and bought this cross body travel “purse” to hold my things.  Obviously not going for style here, this thing is super functional.  It’s little, holds the essentials, and I don’t have to dig around in a big purse to find anything.  For ultimate coolness, wear it around your neck!
  3. Food. This is where my passion for veganism meets my passion for frugalness.  Airport food is typically overpriced and not super vegan friendly, depending on the airport.  Before we travel, hubs and I research the airports that we are traveling through and see if they have any vegan friendly places.  If we have a long-ish layover and want to plan on eating a meal in the airport (even though I grumble a little bit about the cost), we plan ahead and pick out one or two places that will have options for us.  I use the Yelp app for this and it’s worked out well so far.  Even if we do plan on this, I obviously still fill the lunchbox with stuff– you never know!  I have a few travel nightmares, and one of them is being stuck in an airport or on a plane with no food options.  My typical travel food is: sandwiches, fruit, veggies, nuts, raisins, hummus/guacamole, crackers, and lemons (for squeezing into water.  I know, I’m rolling my eyes, too).  Oh, and if I remember or have room, I throw in an empty portable water bottle.  And one for FVB, too. That way we can fill them at the airport and save ourselves the $4 for a bottle of Fiji water.
  4. Umbrella stroller. These are those really light weight, easy to break down, no frills type of strollers.  We bought one at the Salvation Army for $2, but sadly left in the North Carolina.  On the eve of our next trip, I had to make an emergency trip to Walmart to buy another one.  The most affordable option was $15 (!).  FVB enjoys riding around in his pink/purple stroller and hubs and I enjoy breaking down stereo types every time we use it!  We have FVB ride in it until we get to the gate, then gate check it as we board the plane.

Quick Tips

Loving the window seat!
Loving the window seat!
  1. Sit by the window!  This provides a TON of entertainment.  FVB loves to look out the window and watch the bags being loaded/unloaded and the various people and vehicles moving around before we take off.  He also loves watching out as we taxi down the runway, take off, and as we are climbing up to cruising altitude.  Landing is also interesting.  He loves looking for cars, trucks, trains, water, boats, etc.
  2. If you fly Southwest, and are traveling with a lap child, always ask if the flight is full while you are boarding.  If it isn’t, plop your toddler in the seat next to you and pretend like he has his own seat.  That way you are guaranteed that extra seat and you aren’t paying for it!  I have gotten lucky doing this several times.  Hey, if there are going to be empty seats on the flight anyway, you may as well claim one!
  3. Only use the plane changing “table” if you have to.  Aim for a fresh diaper in the airport bathroom right before boarding the plane.  Unless you have a blow out (or if you have to pee and are traveling solo with baby), stay away from the bathroom. It’s tiny and the changing table is a JOKE.
  4. Look for the “Family” bathrooms in the airports, they are great for when you are traveling alone since you can push the whole stroller into the bathroom with you.  They are big, have their own sink, and most have changing tables.
  5. If you can, have one drink sometime on your trip… either on the plane if you think you can manage without spilling, or during a layover.  So necessary for sanity!
  6. Take as many trips as you can while you have a lap child (under 2) since you don’t have to pay!
Super cool play area in the Chicago Airport!
Super cool play area in the Chicago Airport!

Our philosophy, even before had FVB, was to travel as much as we could afford.  We are so glad that we did as many trips as we did before FVB, and are just as glad to have been able to include him on so many trips during his first two years of life!


No Rules-ies!


Hubs has a cousin who once enthusiastically told the family that he liked going to his grandparents house because there were “no rules-ies.”  I love this quote.  It happened long before I was in the family, but I heard the story and the quote and added it to my list of quotes. (*Side note: There is actually a document that exists in my family with our “famous quotes.” My family is INSANE about quotes/stories.  We have a ridiculous amount of family stories with quotes to match and we use them all of the time in our day to day conversations.  When hubs first started hanging around us, he was so confused- there were too many quotes and catch phrases and he just couldn’t keep up.  Now, of course, he knows all of them, backstories included). I’m always glad to add another to my list and I find that I can use “no rules-ies” in a lot of situations!

While vacationing with hubs’ grandmother (the very same grandmother referenced above), we followed the no rules-ies philosophy pretty strictly!  Case in point:

What happens at Great Grandmas, stays at Great Grandmas!
What happens at Great Grandmas, stays at Great Grandmas!

But really, if I’m being honest, hubs and I sort of follow a no rules-ies philosophy at home, too.  Obviously we have some guidelines around health and safety, and general well being, but for the most part we try to say yes as often as possible, and not have too many arbitrary “rules” that we have to enforce/follow. Being flexible comes with a lot of great rewards and this style of parenting has worked well for us so far (21+months in).  Will things change as FVB gets older?  Of course!  Will we still say yes as often as possible?  Of course!  Will people judge us and think we are too permissive and are raising a self-centered, entitled child?  Absolutely!  Will we care how others view our parenting choices?  Not a bit.

When I was teaching Pre-K, I followed a similar philosophy and gave the kids a lot of autonomy to make their own decisions by encouraging them to ask themselves this question:  “Is what I want to do going to cause a problem for anyone else?”  If the answer was no, I would say nine times out of ten, they could do what they wanted. If the answer was yes, you didn’t have to totally give up, you just had to think about creative ways to still do what you wanted, WITHOUT causing a problem for others.  I loved watching 4 and 5 year olds puzzle this out for themselves, and I look forward to trying this one day with FVB.  For now, though, I try it with myself when FVB is choosing activities.  It requires a little tweaking when using it as a adult with regards to a 21 month old.  Here’s how it might play out:

Activity:  Running on a low, narrow-ish wall, with little regard to balance or ability to navigate such wall, with minimal fear of falling

Analysis:  Will this cause a problem for anyone else?  Hmmm…..well, it could cause a fall, which may or may not result in a cracked skull, broken bones, or concussion.  I’d say that would be a problem for FVB AND me.  Is there a creative solution to make this a possible activity?  Why yes!  I could run around the wall NEXT to FVB in order to either catch him when/if he falls, or to be the closest person near him so that when asked later in the hospital about the incident, I would be able to truthfully say “I was watching him THE WHOLE TIME!”

Can I say yes?:  Yes!  (*this turned out fine, as most things do)

Running on a wall, like a boss.
Running on a wall, like a boss.

Activity:  Getting into Great-Grandma’s pool for the fourth time in one day

Analysis:  Will this cause a problem for anyone else?  Hmmm…..well, depends on how you define “problem.”  Is a big problem for me/hubs to get him (and ourselves) in and out of swim suits?  Not really. Is it a big problem to get into a cold pool after your body has JUST warmed up in the sun?  I mean….not really.  Not on the top of my list of favorite activities, and does cause a bit of discomfort, but not really a problem.  Is going through several swim diapers per day a big problem?  Not when they need to be used up before vacation ends!

Can I say yes?:  Yes! (also turned out fine, hubs did most of the submerging and I stayed in the sun- WIN/WIN)

Now that Dad's fully in the pool..... I think I'd like to get out.
Now that Dad’s fully in the pool….. I think I’d like to get out.

Often times I find that the actives that FVB wants to do aren’t necessarily a problem for him, or me, or anyone really, so much as they are repetitive and (just being honest) boring.  Ask any parent who stays at home with their child, and they will most certainly tell you the same.  Things can get a little monotonous.  FVB’s new favorite winter activity, for example, is shoveling.  He has a small sized shovel and loves taking off his mittens and pushing snow around.  I try to take him outside most days, and it’s cold.  So that borders on causing a problem for me; standing outside in the snowy cold is not my idea of a good time.  And after awhile of not wearing his mittens, it can definitely be a problem for him.  But, we manage to find a happy medium on the amount of time spent outside and I think we are both (mostly) satisfied with the arrangement (there are times when I do have to carry him in sobbing “shovel,” but that’s not typical).

C'mon daddy, the snow won't clear itself!
C’mon daddy, the snow won’t clear itself!

And I’ll leave you with one last picture, one that perfectly sums up (for me) the experience of breastfeeding a toddler.  This is me, on a piece of playground equipment in Texas where we recently visited my sister.  FVB had a pretty difficult time managing his emotions during this trip (separation from Daddy for a week, figuring out how to play with his older/bigger/rougher cousin, and being in a new environment), so he wanted “milky” a lot.  When in doubt, whip it out!

Anytime, anywhere!
Anytime, anywhere!

Late night rants


“You will never influence the world by trying to be like it.”

See my spray painted file cabinet in the background??
See my spray painted file cabinet in the background?? I love spray painting things.  I pulled a lamp out of someone’s trash and carried it home the other day and I can’t WAIT to spray paint it and prove to hubs that trash CAN be treasure.  Either that or it’ll sit in our garage for 6 months and he’ll sneak it into the garbage one day….

My mother-in-law recently visited and gave me a beautiful print with this quote written on it.  I love it, not only because it perfectly matches my peacock inspired craft room/office, but because I love the message behind it.  (Side note: my peacock themed craft/office space is not quite ready to be photographed, but soon!)  I love the concept of not “being like the world” and going against the mainstream.  Being vegan feels like that pretty much every day, since the world is so meat-centered and there is animal exploitation at every turn. Over the weekend, during a quick trip to a nearby town for shopping, we encountered a horse drawn carriage pulling people around and a super sad little reindeer in the tiniest little pen.  Most people don’t give much thought to these things, but stuff like this really gets to me.  People have various ways of arguing about this and wondering why I seem to care so much about animals and their rights.  A lot of people are also pretty dismissive of these things in general (“Oh, the horses are fine and it’s a fun tradition,” or “The reindeer is so sweet and quiet, I’m sure he loves the attention”).  To me these things are not easily dismissed and they stick with me.  Not because I think these animals are necessarily being abused (hey, the reindeer could live a pretty nice little life outside of his tiny little pen on most other days of the year), but because humans are so quick to just assume that we can and should do whatever we want with animals, just because we can.  I don’t like that attitude and encountering it really bugs me.  So I suppose being vegan, and writing about/talking about what I see wrong with the way we view animals is my small way of trying to influence the world (or just one person.  I’d be happy with that).  Just some things to think about…

In other fun news, I’m sitting here typing while hubs is entertaining FVB at his little craft table in our peacock room because I’m a little bit at the end of my rope with bed time tonight.  FVB has recently decided that he doesn’t really like the whole bedtime thing, and he’s not going to stick with the usual routine of bath, stories, milk, sleep.  Now our routine looks more like:  bath, stories, milk, truck video, milk, story, crying for truck video, story with daddy, crying to get down from the bed, milk, story, drawing, and on and on.  I looked at hubs tonight and said “Do you have any ideas?”  and he didn’t.  Neither did I, so here we are.  Another fun new habit that FVB has developed is biting.  My cousin was visiting with his (4!) children and so far FVB has bitten 50% of them.  Hubs and I also had the same unenlightened conversation referenced above about this.  Is every other parent this clueless?!?

He took 35 other similar images in less than 2 minutes. See the smile? It's like he KNOWS what a little imp he is!
Sorry for the blurry image, it was taken on the iPad. He took 35 other similar images in less than 2 minutes. See the smile? It’s like he KNOWS what a little imp he is!

FVB has developed quite a vocabulary and loves to command the people around him with his one word directives.  His favorites are: “UP,” “SIT,” “DOWN,” “COME,” and “HELP.”  If you can’t follow a verbal command, he also likes to utilize a little push to encourage you to get up and sit where he wants you to.  He’s like a tiny dictator.  Just to be clear, we aren’t TOTAL pushovers when it comes to our mini commander in chief.  Just yesterday I told him he would have to wait until I was done with dinner before I would come and play trucks with him. I had a stomach ache all night from scarfing my food down so fast, but dammit he WAITED. To keep us from dropping him at the nearest safe haven, he does ridiculously cute and sweet things, like spontaneous dancing and kissing his baby cousin (with tongue, but without teeth).  I worry about the upcoming stages, which are, according to my friend raising THREE boys: Terrible Two’s, Three-nager (instead of teenager), and (cover your eyes, Gramma) Little F*#cker Fours. And almost every single moment of my day I think: Imagine if I also had a newborn! and quiver in fear.  This sh*t is not for the faint of heart, or for people who like hot coffee and personal space.

But then.... the sweetness.
But then…. the sweetness. The baby looks terrified. 

There are my rants for the night people.  Time to go stare at the clock and wonder if bedtime will ever come.




*Thanks to hubs, I am publishing right on schedule this week!*

Hey, am I not the cutest?!

Our little sweet man is talking up a storm, some jibberish and some real words.  He is a little parrot and repeats EVERYTHING. Luckily I’ve kicked my swearing habit (mostly), so when he starts swearing I can blame it directly on KK.  He has a few favorite words and most recently he discovered the power of “no.”  I talk to him all day long, narrate what we are doing, tell him what’s coming next, and usually ask him if he wants to do things.  Up until now, he’d typically go along with most things and I must admit that I often didn’t ask him with the intention of taking his opinion into account. Because, you know, he’s a baby.  And babies do what adults are doing. Example: I’m ready for coffee, so I say “want to go downstairs and get some coffee?” as I’m carrying him downstairs. Sometimes he’d be slightly disagreeable, but mostly he’d get over it once we got to our new destination. Then came the head shake.  He experimented with shaking his head no in response to (literally) any question you’d ask him, then moved into shaking only when he really meant no.  And now here we are with the verbal no and OH BOY does he mean it.  It’s funny, sad, and frustrating all at once to try to have a conversation with him.

Me: Want to put your jammies on?

FVB: (sweetly) No.

Me: OK, but we have to soon because it’s almost time for bed.

FVB: (Less sweetly, this time with a head shake). No.

Me: (after a few minutes) OK, it’s really time for jammies now.

FVB: (full scale sob/moan with head and/or body shake) NOOOOOOOOO!

Lesson learned: don’t ask, just tell.


Do these fit OK? I seem to be having trouble walking.

He also has some very strong opinions about what he likes.  His new found obsession is the bath.  For probably two straight months I could not get him to take a bath.  He was scared of the faucet, cried when I suggested a bath, and truly would not get in unless I got in with him.  Even then, he would not sit down.  He was slowly turning into a little grunge baby and neither hubs nor I could say when he had a bath last.  So hubs suggested bubbles to make it more enticing.  My crunchy hippy mama self was horrified (chemicals!!!) and I balked.  Hubs, being the smart man that he is, knew that I wouldn’t budge on this myself, so he did some research and ordered bubble bath without my opinion. And, much to his immense joy, it worked! FVB went crazy for the bubbles and they started doing nightly baths while I laid on the bed and drank wine. Everyone was happy.  Until nightly wasn’t enough.  Suddenly FVB wanted bubbles multiple times per day.  He even resorted to getting in Daddy’s shower in the morning, hoping to get bubbles in there (or settling for soap lather). The other night when I took him out of his bath he sobbed and stretched his little arms back towards the tub crying “bubbles!” I might have teared up just writing that sentence.  It is so sad to watch his tiny heart break over such simple things.  How will my heart bear it as his own heart breaks get bigger?  These are the times that I am thankful that all of his sorrows can be soothed by milk, hugs, or a new activity. If only it stayed that simple!

I love my big doggy!

Next time I hope to share some food!  See you in two weeks!