9.01.2014

Chubby Vegan Family: the vacation edition

"Want a towel on a chair in the sand by the sea, want to look through my shades and see you there with me. Want to soak up life for a while in laid back mode ... no boss, no clock, no stress, no dress code."

OK. So maybe my work dress code is pajamas. And I actually really like my boss. But the no clock? The no stress? The towel and the sea? Sign me up. 

You might have noticed things have been a little quiet on the Chubby Vegan front for the last few weeks. We went away on a fabulous vacation with our friends. It was exactly what we needed to end our summer of fun. Things didn't go according to plan, but when do they? At the end of our trip, it was one we'll look back on with laughs, smiles and ultimately no regrets. 

We rented a beach house on Seacrest Beach. It was located a few miles shy of Panama City Beach on the panhandle. If you haven't had the chance to visit this side of Florida, I highly, highly recommend it. We've been to a few different parts now and the beaches are simply magic. I know, I know, that's a really loaded statement, but I absolutely adore this area. There's always a breeze, even when its a jillion degrees out. The sand on the beach is like white. Like, so white and pretty that Pear made the comment "I didn't know the sand could look like snow!" And the water is flawless. It's that perfect hue of crystally teal, deep blue and clear. It should be known that I'm actually NOT a huge fan of the beach (give me some mountains and snows any day), so when I say I could retire to a place like this, you know it's totally legit. 

And when we weren't at the beach, we were chilling by one of the four massive pools we had at the community our beach house was located in. It was a picture perfect set up. There was a large 'L-shaped' pool that two smaller kid-size pools attached to and at the bend of the "L" there was a massive round pool with a fountain. Every day we had somewhere new to explore and we shared the pool with maybe four or five families. While we were there we got into a nice routine. We'd go to the beach in the late mornings, the men would retire to the beach house and watch golf or football while the babies napped and the ladies (Pearyn included) sat poolside. I walked away with a pretty nice tan, but we basically discovered I birthed a bronze goddess. Seriously, Pearyn had the most impecable tan when we left the beach, and she had no desire to even get one! Not to mention the platinum blonde streaks she got from all her fun in the sun.

We got to explore while we were there too. We went shopping on the strip, ate at an amazing restaurant on the beach with the kind of view you'd see in a movie and went on an ocean "cruise." We got to see sea gulls, dolphins, jelly fish, starfish, all the awesome things you should see when you go to a beach! We were lucky to see a family of dolphins (I don't know what that's called) playing and swimming with each other. They did back flips and blew water out of their blowhole. All of this - from a boat - in the middle of the ocean. We picked sea shells from the shore, we built sand castles and we were able to decompress and just "be." The men went golfing and the ladies had a spa day, complete with a girl's night. 


We were even able to find plenty of vegan options to eat. If you're ever in the area, I have to name drop Runaway Island. It was the restaurant on the beach. While it had virtually nothing "vegan" on the menu, we were able to explain our lifestyle to the chef and waiter and they pieced together a ridiculously delicious mean. Fresh veggie tacos with crunchy sweet soy green beans. They were mouthwatering.

A lot of people are always surprised to find out the other family with us wasn't vegan - contrary to popular opinion, we're perfectly cool with nonvegan families. We don't go all "RAWR" and red paint on people who don't follow our lifestyle, that's silly. And we don't expect them to eat like us "out of respect" for us. We CHOSE to be vegan, it's not something we were forced to do. And it's something we realize not everyone wants to do either. It's silly, and quite frankly, it sends a terrible message out to nonvegans if they think we're keeping tabs on them and what they are or are not eating. On the nights we stayed at home and cooked, we made meals that were customizable depending on what everyone wanted. We grilled out, the nonvegan made potato soyrizo hash - not because it was vegan - but because it's what we had on hand for breakfast and it was DELICIOUS. 


All and all, it was a vacation I couldn't have planned if I wanted to. We were blessed to do so many wonderful things - from laying in the sand (sometimes even with a cold beer!), to swimming in the pool, to hanging out with sea creatures in their habitat. And while Pear wasn't the most enthralled with the ocean, Braeburn got to see it for the first time. And seriously, his reaction, made it worth the 12-hour drive and then some. If you don't believe, watch for yourself!

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8.11.2014

Load up your lunch with this AWESOME (Beanfields!) giveaway

Last month you may or may not have seen my review on the vegan chip brand "Beanfields." (AKA the most magical vegan chip in the Universe). If you didn't see it yet, you should go read it, but whatevs, I'll give you a quick low down on the company again!

Beanfields is a family-owned snack company that wants to make good food for good people! They want to leave a lighter foot print, all while making a delicious VEGAN chip. They have seven ridiculously amazing varieties: unsalted, sea salt, salt and pepper, barbecue, pico de gallo, RANCH and NACHO!!!!!  Yeah, you'll basically never think about Doritos again, they're that good.

In addition to be utterly delicious, they're also way more stacked than your run-of-the-mill chip. They're also a complete protein (hello beans and rice in chip form), they've got more protein and fiber in one ounce than a tortilla chip, potato chip or egg, and they're FREE of the eight most common allergens. Oh, and did I mention they're CERTIFIED gluten free too? Yeah, so you basically have no reason not to run out and by these in hoards. For reals, HOARDS.

They also come in two tasty sizes: the "shareable" 6oz bag and the pack-in-your-lunch 1.5 oz bag. We sent Pearyn off to preschool with a small bag and they were more than enough for her to snack on and have a little leftover for an afterschool tidbit.

And because Beanfields is such an awesome company AND you're getting ready to send your kiddo (or yourself!) back to school, they have generously and graciously offered to let me host a giveaway for one lucky reader to receive their very own CASE (yes, you read that right, 24 1.5 oz bags of these awesome chips) for FREE!

Seriously, you have no excuse to not blow up social media with this killer giveaway, because if you haven't tried these chips yet, you need to. And if you have tried them, then you know you want more.

To enter, simply follow the instructions through the Rafflecopter widget! You can earn more entries by liking Chubby Vegan Mom on Facebook, Twitter, leaving a comment on the blog about what YOUR favorite school lunch was and by tweeting it out!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

8.08.2014

Let's stop the parent bashing already

I've said this before and I will more than likely say it again (and again and again): You are the absolute BEST parent you will ever be, BEFORE you have children.

There's a growing trend on my Facebook friends list. An imaginary, but very evident and very clear line is starting to be drawn.

It's the non-parents vs the parents.

And folks, let me tell ya, one of us is being really, really unfair to the other.

I get it, as non-parents, you probably get really tired of seeing 95 pictures of my baby's first bite of carrots. Or maybe you didn't like reading the gory details of by 18-hour labor, I can understand that. I remember seeing those posts before I had children and sure, I'd roll my eyes and scroll on. But you know what? All those pictures, the videos of my babies' first steps, the TMI-posts, those are things I write because I'm proud or excited. They're not designed to offend, tear-down or hurt YOU or any non-parent in any way.

But your posts, the ones about how "no good parent would let XXXXXX happen to their child," those, they're critical, they're mean and they're rude. Sure, maybe you think they're funny, and sometimes, they might be. But they're also funny, because they're picking at all us parents out here who, guess what, don't ALWAYS know what we're doing.

Newsflash, parenting, it doesn't come with a handy guide, and kids, they're not like purchasing a car where you just let them know the make and model and everything make sense. No, kids are much, much more complex than that. And just when you think you have them figured out, they change the game on you again.

So you post something maybe you think is harmless. Like a picture of a warning label that appears on a giant tub. It warns you not to let your child play in the giant tub with the lid because they might become trapped in there. And then, well, you know, something really, really awful might happen. Sure enough I had a friend post something on her Facebook about this. And then all the others joined in on the fun: "I hope if you can't keep your kid out of a big storage tub that you don't have kids." Or, "wow, they really need a warning label on that? How smart are parents today." My favorite would have to be "I don't know whether to find this label hysterical or be completely scared that it's needed."

Hardy har har. Aren't y'all sooooooooooooooooo funny? Having a kid is sooooooooooo easy. No good parent would let their kid play in a storage bin, duh. Don't they know it's dangerous? DUH.

Guess what? When you actually take time to BECOME a parent, which I can only hope you'll lose the judgmental attitude by then (for the sake of your child, who, like you, will be imperfect), you'll find that nearly everything in your day-to-day life should come with a warning label. And even if it shouldn't, you'll be able to come up with about 1,000 ways it should. Because that's what happens when you become a parent. You love this tiny little creature so much, that you start to see all the dangers in the world.

Take for example my son's predilection to jam his chubby baby thighs in his crib slats. Even knowing he only had them stuck in there for oh, three minutes, made me delirious with thoughts of him losing all the blood in his leg and needing it amputated. Or me breaking his tiny little knees trying to get his legs out. Are those things likely to happen in three minutes? Probably not. But when you become a parent, this is the kind of crap that runs through your brain, 24/7.

And you know what? It's exhausting. EXHAUSTING. In fact, it's so exhausting, we should invent a different word for it to truly encompass how DAMN exhausting it is, but we can't, because we're way too tired.

Guess what else happens when you have a child? All those responsibilities you had before having a child? Yeah, they're still there. Birthing a child doesn't automatically include a nanny, a maid or a personal chef. So eventually, you have to start cleaning your house again. And a lot of us go back to work again. And have seemingly normal lives again. Except now, we don't just have to remember that trash day is Friday and the mortgage is due on the first of the month, we have to remember that little Jimmy has a checkup on Wednesday, Suzie has gymnastics on Tuesday, soccer on Friday and a playdate on Saturday with little Jimmy down the road who can't have nuts. And let's not forget when the preschool money is due. Or that the cat needs fed. Or the pile of dishes in the sink. Or that you have a meeting on Wednesday. Or which store your husband is working out of in case you need to call him to pick something up from the grocery store, which you inevitably forgot because you were trying to deal with little Suzie's meltdown because you won't let her have a king-size candy bar. And most importantly, don't forget to schedule time for yourself. Because you wouldn't want to have a nervous breakdown when all these people are relying on you.

See what I mean? It's kind of overwhelming to think about all the things we have to think about in a day. And that's just scraping the surface.

And on top of all this, guess what? Becoming a parent, doesn't make us immortal super heroes. In fact, it makes us a little more human and a little more imperfect. So have I let my kids play in a storage bin? Probably. If it granted me three minutes of peace and stopped them from screaming, I probably giggled as I watched my four-year-old push around my son in a laundry basket.

And all those dangers you think "I should know about or I shouldn't even bother becoming a parent," they sneak up on you out of nowhere. And then they haunt you forever. When Pearyn was still a baby, probably six months old or so, I locked myself out of the house with her in it. Alone. On the loose. With no spare key. That's probably not something a "good" or "prepared" parent would do, right? So I probably shouldn't have had kids, right? Because if I could make such a dangerous mistake, surely I'm an unfit mother.

In the 60 seconds it took me to realize what I had done, my instincts took over. I grabbed the ice scraper from my car and broke the basement window. I put a blanket down to hopefully keep the shards of glass from cutting me and I went, with reckless abandon into that broken window and creepy basement, because in the moment I made such an awful mistake, that's the fastest way I could see to rectify it. I ended up with a small gash on my hand and butterfly stitches. And Pearyn was none the wiser. But I still remember what happened. I still check my purse for my keys 19 times before I leave the house.

It's easy to think you know everything before you have a tiny human of your own. It's easy to laugh and point at our mistakes. But just know that while you might be sitting high and mighty now on all your knowledge of "how to raise your non-even-born-yet child," we parents will be over here waiting for you. We'll be waiting for you to lock yourself out of the house on accident, we'll be waiting for your child to fall from a high chair that you swear you tightened as much as you could. And when that happens, most of us, the ones who've been where you are, we'll welcome you with open arms and maybe a really, really stiff drink. Because even though it's your first time, we've been there. And we know how hard it is.

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8.01.2014

Give yourself a HighFive (Naturals!)

You probably know this about me, but I have an extreme love of cupcakes. I mean a super, over-the-top, try to translate every dessert under the sun into a cupcake kind of love.

However, I have been lacking one thing SERIOUSLY when it comes to baking.

Pot holders. Oven mits. Trivets, all that crazy stuff. I own those items, but I never really like them enough to keep them handy for when I'm actually baking. So I'm usually stuck grabbing a kitchen towel and pulling my baked goods out, meanwhile trying not to burn whatever part of my hand I accidentally didn't double up on the towel layers.

Yeah, I get it, it's my fault, but seriously, who really has enough space for pot holders to just be hanging around. Ain't nobody got time for that. And am I the only one who seems to find a way to burn myself with those, too?

So one lucky days I was sorting through some emails, when I came across a ridiculously timely one from the HighFive Naturals. They wanted to know if I would give their silicone cooking gloves a go! And since I've been busy burning myself in the kitchen, I figured, what the heck, it was worth a shot!

We've had these babies for two weeks now and I'm happy to report they have not been tossed aside or hidden in some drawer. In fact, they've been in our sink, on the oven, on the counter, basically any and everywhere my baked goods go. They've even traveled outside to help us grill some veggie burgers and a pizza!

Want to know another secret? I've used these to open a jar of pickles (because we all know that's basically impossible unless you're like, a man, or maybe they're just Chubby Vegan Mom, proof), rendering my husband ALMOST useless. ( I keep him around because he's pretty, not just because I can't open a jar by myself!)

So the details on these gloves? They're heat-resistant to 446 degrees, 10-fingers, super duper easy to clean (I just rinsed them off in the sink), sure-grip and odor and mildew resistant. We've used these to turn things in the oven, to pull steamy vegetable bags out of the microwave and to carry in that ridiculously scorching pizza pan from our grill.

Other suggestions for these can be easier handling for a campfire, in a smoker, a wood stove or even to handle those super frigid items before they give you frostbite!

I haven't tried these suggestions yet, but I can't wait to pop these on the next time we have a campfire. I'm always the first person to burn my hand on the vegan marshmallow stick holder, not to mention the fire pit thing itself, so I have a feeling these will come in handy.

These silicone gloves are eco-friendly, cruelty-free and a super bright, awesome orange color. You can snatch up your own pair at amazon for only $20, and if you decide you HAVE to have them right now, you can save 20% through August 14 by simpling entering the code "SGLOVES1" at checkout!

Stay tuned to my next blog for a recipe with my absolute favorite cupcake in the WHOLE world!

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7.31.2014

How we got our baby's leg out of the crib slat (again and again and again)

OK, so I guess he's technically not my "baby" anymore. Judging by his full-blown tantrums, insatiable appetite and the current "18-month-old sleep regression" we've entered, I've got a toddler on my hands.

Another fun thing he's been doing for the last month and a half? Oh you know, just shoving his chunky thighs through his crib slat EVERY chance he gets. Yeah, we're not talking about "oh, he accidentally rolled over in his deep sleep and got tangled," no, we're dealing with a "purposely shoving his leg through there and then wailing when, SURPRISE, his sweet toddler thunder thighs won't come back out." 

Sigh. I think this boy is going to give me grey hair. 

You'll be even more amused to know that crib slats are not the only things he tries to stick his body parts through. He also does is with the kitchen chairs backs and his arms, floor vents and his fingers and the occasional head-through-the-porch railing. Yeah, is there a milestone for sticking his limbs in inappropriate places? Because check and check, we've totally surpassed that bad boy.

And then a little over a week ago, Braeburn jammed his leg REAL good. So good that I couldn't get it out. And when I tried to, he cried and writhed in pain. And I panicked. Every other time this happened my husband was home. He would pry the slats apart and I'd slide Brae's leg out. But now, this particular morning, I was home alone. I was by myself with Braeburn screaming, reaching up for me, wanting me to stop his pain and I had no idea how to. 

Thousands of things ran through my mind, from getting a hand saw to just breaking the damn thing with a hammer. But I worried about the impact those would have on his little knee. Chubby Vegan Dad was a good 30 minutes away and I couldn't wait that long. So I did it. 

I called the fire department. Yep. I was that mom. 

And sure enough, three burly dudes show up at my door, in their big ole' truck and gear. I've got giant raccoon eyes from bawling and apologize OVER AND OVER to them. (Why do the stupidest things happen to me?) They reassure me about a jillion times and ask me for some dish soap. They were able to grease up Braeburns leg, and each one pulled on a slat while the third lefted him up and out of it. It took about three minutes total and I felt like a moron.

They were kind enough to inform me that he had really jammed it in there, this wasn't the only call like these that they've gotten and one of them was even going through this with his baby at home.

His advice? Keep a block of wood nearby that can fit in between the slats and help "separate them" so I can get his leg out if I'm home alone. Bless these men. Seriously, bless them. For three seconds I didn't feel like the worst mother in the world. And Braeburn got a plastic fire hat out of the deal, so that's a win.

This was the last straw. After the embarrassment of having to call the fire department and weeks of waking to a pain-addled, leg-jammed-all-the-way-to-his-hip, screaming-bloody-murder little boy at two or three in the morning, I did what any overly protective and sleep-deprived mother would do: I googled "how in the hell do I stop my baby from getting leg stuck in his crib slat."

We tried your run-of-the-mill breathable bumper - no such luck (and I'm not starting a bumper war here, so please don't incite one). He simply put his leg over the bumper, shoved it down and jammed it up a bit higher. We tried readjusting it so he couldn't force it down, he just tried to hit a ride on the bumper and climb out of the crib. Yeah. Super fun. 

Eventually, we surrendered ourselves to the idea that we'd just have to put him in a toddler bed, although, I was more worried about all the other stuff he could get into that way and the lack of sleep he'd be getting because this boy is not ready for a toddler bed. We started Braeburn-proofing everything, which, is almost an impossible feat for this curious little boy.

And then, I came across a few reviews for Go Mama Go Designs Wonder Bumpers. These bumpers zip on each crib slat individually and have a layer of foam with cloth surrounding it. You can buy them in a 2, 24 or 38 packs.So there's still a small space between each slat (helping them be breathable and so you can still see in), but not enough that babies can jam limbs through them. They're super soft and I imagine it probably feels better to bash your head on these than the bare crib slats, so bonus points for that. 

Plus, we put the zippers on the outside and at the bottom, so Braeburn hasn't been able to take them apart or get his little hands on them! 

And they're long, so they can't use them to hitch up on and get out the crib. Seriously, they've solved like every problem we've run into. 

Let me tell you parents, these babies worked. I mean really, really worked.  (And side note, this is not a product I was asked to review. This is something I found doing my own googling and absolutely LOVE). 

There's one downside to them, they are not the cheapest things in the entire world. We purchasaed a 38-pack on Amazon for $120, which I get it, probably sounds pretty extreme for "bumpers." 

But please trust me on this, they have been a lifesaver. An absolute lifesaver. Our little boy no longer wakes angry in the night because he can't free his leg. In fact, the most he's been able to get his leg through is just to the ankle. And that was when he was really, really trying to force it in there. 

They're soft, they're cute and are worth every.last.penny. It is the one thing I have now recommended to my parent friends. I don't have a tiny newborn of course, so while the company promotes this as a "safe alternative" to bumpers for newborns and what not, I can't validate that statement. However, I would certainly talk about it with our child's doctor if we had another baby, because it seems like a viable option. But once your out of the SIDS risk and you don't want tangled limbs or bumps and bruises because of those hard slats, Go Mama Go Designs Wonder Bumpers ARE THE ANSWER.

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