1.26.2012

It will be worth it


The last few days have been seriously busy. In fact, I’m not sure how it’s even Wednesday because I didn’t have time to stop and recognize that it was Monday or Tuesday. I’m seriously five days away from starting my new job (and if you want to count the conference I’m about to attend then we’re actually talking like 12 hours) and I can’t seem to tame my feelings of anxiousness, excitement, extreme nervousness and all the other emotions that go along with change.

Change, my friends, is not my friend.

Despite this new chapter of my life being an incredibly welcomed and awesome one, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I walked away from a career I was already accustomed to and onto a different one. It doesn’t even matter that I’m going to spend my days critiquing the written word and upping the social media game, two things that I’m totally comfortable doing (and frequently do without thinking), it’s still change.

While there’s nothing that can appease all of those “what if” scenarios that are currently running through my mind (in slow motion, on replay), there are a few major life changes I’ve underwent that resulted in incredibly wonderful alterations.

For starters, becoming a mother. I’m not talking about the whole making a baby and feeling it grow inside me change, I’m talking about the pushing said baby out (after 18 hours of vomit-filled labor and uncontrollable body shakes), trying to get this slimy, crying, completely stressed-out little thing to attach to one of my boobs so she’ll stop crying and being stressed out and all the other changes that completely disrupt your life as just a wife, just a woman.

Becoming a mother was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, but it took some adjustments. Man was I used to my full nights of sleep and giving into all my selfish needs. Having a tiny infant rely on your day in and day out has a way of unhinging everything in your life. The upheaval that occurs when you have a new baby (and can only be described as catastrophic), is one of the best examples of feeling way-too-in-over-your-head at first, but graduating to full, happy, baby-poop-covered motherdom. The first few months are rough, there’s no denying that. But what other change in life results in the creation of a completely new, beautiful breathing creature?

And what about going off to college? This huge move took a na├»ve, irresponsible brat from her comfy home and threw her into a dorm with hundreds (that’s being generous to the small, small college I went to) of other “young adults” and letting them go at it (both literally AND figuratively).

 Sure, there’s an RA and a few other “responsible” college students in charge to make sure you don’t set the place on fire, but for the most part, you’re free to come and go as you please (if at all). You can go out to the bar until 2 a.m., an after party until 5 a.m. and then stumble back into the dorm for your famous “walk of shame” before crashing in your bed (which will forever be the MOST comfortable bed you’ve ever slept in – partially because you were always passing out into it) and skipping four classes the next day. You think mom and dad would except being “hungover’ as an excuse to skip out on something? Doubtful.

And not to mention, you get to become an adult and meet some of your best friends there. You learn a little more about the person you’re working to become and if you’re lucky, the people who are going to be with you when you get there.

Did I cry my eyes out the first night I spent away from my parents? Yes, what can I say, I liked my parents a lot. Did it get better six hours later when I met my first college boyfriend? Heck yes.

Change comes with its own set of rewards … spouses, babies, that job you’ve wanted your whole life.

I’m not saying it won’t be a little messy along the way.

I’m not saying there won’t be stumbles or failures.

But I am saying it will be worth it.

In the end, it will be exactly where you are meant to be.

And really, what more could you ask for?

1.23.2012

Stupidity and the Universe

Ever read something that just makes your head start spinning?

Like in that "How on earth does someone actually rationalize that," I'm going to projectile vomit a green, pea-soup-like substance out of my mouth at the same time, type of way?

Or, more simply put, have you ever wondered just how damn backwards some of the things people say really are?

In high school, I was an insanely jealous girlfriend, I admit it. I had been dating the same guy for three years and despite being an incredibly devoted, caring and all-around-good-guy, I was still that nutcase girlfriend. It didn't help that he worked at a pool all summer, with girls, of all varieties - skinny, tall, tan, pretty, slutty, all of the above - meanwhile I sat around being pissy with my fat-girl complex.

One of the girls, I really, really couldn't stand. Whenever I'd visit him she'd be hanging all over, either literally or, well, just literally. Arms around his neck, begging for a piggy back ride, taking off all her clothes and trying to have sex with him (OK, maybe my insanely jealous mind made that last part up), you get the picture. She wasn't even a girl I found remotely attractive, in fact, I didn't even find her remotely interesting. . She dedicated the majority of her summer to throwing herself at my boyfriend and then spent 45 minutes of a high school class acting like my best friend.

And then one day she said something that just pushed my B.S. meter over the limit. She was telling a story about a "scandalous" girl they worked with that had been sleeping around with someone else's boyfriend. Apparently, this was bad, but the attention said skeezy girl tried to rally from my boyfriend was A-OK. In fact, it was actually not her fault (no really, it wasn't her fault that she had to constantly touch my boyfriend, it was just 'how she was.") Seriously girlfriend had the nerve to look me in the face and say "I'm a naturally flirty person, I can't help it if I flirt with your boyfriend."

How do you respond to that? While I tried not to fall out of my chair I was laughing so hard, I managed to respond with a simple (half-psycho), extremely poignant "Well, I'm naturally violent person, I can't help it if I slap that smug smile off your face."

Moral of that story? Sometimes, the crap that comes out of our mouths is just so absolutely, mind-blowingly asinine, that it deserves a slap to the face. (Well, that, and apparently girls are just really, really dumb when we're teenagers).

And then I started thinking, what other kinds of garbage are we uttering on a daily basis?

Turns out, a lot.

Take for example one of the 26-year-old female Facebook friends I have. She's got a job, a boyfriend and at 26, you'd hope that she was at least a semi-adult, right? I know that age is only a number, but with her inching closer to 30 everyday, you'd hope she was maturing, right? Right?

If you guessed "no" you'd be right. I actually resorted to deleting her from my friends list because I just couldn't take all the "biatch, get ur skank-ass off mah man, he dont want anything to do wit u and ur skank ass immature games anymore" rhetoric.

Anyone else think it's funny that someone talking in half-gangsta, half-just-plain-stupid (honey, have you heard of the word doesn't?) can't even type out the word "you" is calling someone else immature? Oh sweetie, sweetie, sweetie ... can you say "Delete?"

I wish it was that easy to delete everything.

What did someone say to you recently that made you feel certified slaptastic?

1.20.2012

Just enough to get me out of bed

In case you're not up to date with life here at the Chubby Vegan Household, let me give you a quick rundown of events. Chubby Vegan Mom got a new awesome job. A new awesome job that's going to allow her to work from home full time, but also means she's got to get her butt out of bed A LOT earlier if she wants to have enough quality time with Chubby Vegan Dad and Pearyn the rest of the day.

(OK, enough with the third person already!)

So the gist of it is this; I've got two weeks (well, one now) to shape up and get my butt out of bed - not just because I have to (although I do) - but because I want to! I've always been secretly envious of all my friends who actually welcome the sun and not just groan at it like I do. Now, one week later and armed with loads of go-to-sleep and wake-the-heck-up tips, I'm slowly (SLOWLY) seeing some improvements in my attitude toward mornings.

Yesterday I touched base on what was working for me when it came to getting some shut eye, so today I'm going to clue you in on which wake-up tips have proven beneficial to me.

For starters, the whole scent thing might work when I'm turning over the covers, but when it comes to getting out of them I have yet to see any positive results. I will say however, that I've been adding a few squeezes of lemon juice to my water after I exercise and that seems to be providing a serious perk to my morning pep.

Through comments and emails I've learned that the snooze button is near and dear to many of your hearts. Well folks, it's time to break up with your snooze button, because it really is bad for your early morning mojo. In my sleep trial run, I've found the only day I've been dragging this week also happened to be the day I hit the snooze button, disregarded my "wake up" curfew (and got too much sleep) and didn't exercise. I also spent the rest of the day making poor choices when it came to snacks and dessert. I can't prove that all of this is connected, but after four days of following a pretty simple morning routine the only thing that changed was my wake up time (or lack of one).

Waking up earlier in 20-minute increments has proven pretty successful, mainly because I'm getting the rest I need the night before. The best part? I have yet to have the terrible headache and grouchiness that is associated with trying to change your wake-up time!

And how about that tip regarding where you place your phone? Well, it's been really, really successful. In fact, I think it might be the only thing that has stopped me from crawling back into my bed and snoozing under the covers for another two hours. I can't recommend this strategy enough - particularly in the winter. If you set your phone up far enough away, you have to figure you're already cold, so why not just stay awake then? Seriously. It's kept me awake four out of five mornings.

Have I mentioned that you should be moving too? I know, what a bummer. I cannot stress enough how important getting up and getting your butt in gear is for enjoying the rest of your day (and having the energy to)! Just a brief 20 minute walk or 30 minute workout is enough to get your blood flowing and your mind perked up. I've been doing a combination of yoga and aerobics for four mornings and have seen seriously positive results. Not only does it give my body and mind a boost I need in those wee morning hours, it actually keeps me going a little longer the rest of the day.

You don't have to run marathons, just 20-30 minutes of some physical activity will do and can you really argue with physical activity? It's good for you!

And while I've been struggling to shove something in my face this early in the day (and I'm the Chubby Vegan Mom herself!), try to nibble on something - a piece of fruit, a cereal bar, some oatmeal - just get something semi-healthy into your body to fuel it. And no, coffee DOESN'T count.

A gift from the Valentine's Day (and Mother's Day AND Father's Day) Fair just arrived this afternoon. It's going to be providing this Chubby Vegan household with A LOT of healthy breakfasts, snacks and sometimes even dinner (yup, this bad boy cooks soup!) Seriously though, the Vitamix is not a purchase for the light-hearted. It is not your everyday blender and it  REALLY doesn't cost what your everyday blender does, so enter this relationship wisely. We got it for a steal and since I blend so much already, we figured we could finally consider ourselves real, live vegans AND adults now that we own one. Tune into a blog later this month to find out exactly what we think of our Vitamix!

Now, back to where I was ... waking up! The last thing I've really found helpful when trying to wake up on the the right side of the bed would have to be "rewarding" myself. Now that I'm missing out on some serious me time by going to bed so early, I've been "rewarding" my early morning routine and workouts with an episode of whatever pitiful teenage tv drama I DVR'd the night before. It sounds silly, but it gives me something to look forward to in the morning. It's a lot easier to get out of bed and get my workout done when I know that McDreamy, McSteamy and all the hot McDoctors on "Grey's Anatomy" are waiting for me.

Have any of you been successful making the switch from nights to mornings or heck, even mornings to night? What things did you find helpful?

1.19.2012

Day four of "Chubby Vegan Mom" does mornings

If you do a quick Google search on how long it takes for something to become a habit, you'll probably be a bit bummed to realize the response is 21 days. It takes three weeks of doing something for it to become almost second nature to you.

Except, it doesn't.

If you do a more in-depth search of the subject matter (one that still needs far, far more research on), you'll find that experts are now saying it could take anywhere from 18-254 days for something to truly become automatic for you. Most people see a plateau around day 66, but for the most part, it really depends on what you're trying to accomplish.

If your goal was say, to drink a glass of water with breakfast every morning, you'll probably be more successful at making this a habit in a shorter amount of time than trying to enforce a two-mile jog four times a week.

This statistic isn't meant to depress or discourage you, trying to change something (especially into a healthy habit) is a very worthy and honorable feat. I've only been attempting to change my owlish ways for four days now and I find myself wondering "when the hell is this going to feel normal?" Yeah, four days, I'm really impatient, what can I say?

This should stat should actually empower and encourage us all - don't give up on whatever you're trying! It's going to take some time for something to become a habit, change is hard and now we've got science to prove it! Seriously, if it doesn't feel right in a few weeks, stay with it, it WILL get easier!

I find a certain kind of solace now in knowing that it could take anywhere from two and a half weeks to nine months for me to successfully become a morning person. Sure, it's a bit overwhelming to think it could take almost an entire year to change this behavior, but after 26 years of staying up all night and sleeping all morning, what did I expect?

That being said, I'm VERY happy to report I'm seeing some awesome results so far in the four days I've been working towards my lark goal. Some of you have been curious about how the different techniques I've discussed for snoozing have been working for me, I figured I'd do a quick week-one update. Honestly, there's something to be said for this whole hot shower/bath and candle thing. On the nights I let myself soak in the tub with dim lights and a sandalwood candle lit, I was much more in the mood to turn in than when I was up staring at the boob tube or working on my laptop.

Don't have time for a hot soak? No worries, I saw the same drowsy-inducing effects when I lit a few candles (sandalwood has done more for me than lavender) and recorded a few thoughts in my worry journal. I'm not convinced it's the smells quite yet, but the dim, flickering light certainly puts me in the mood to sleep soundly.

I'm also a firm, firm believer that my pretty, cozy bed is helping me snooze better. I love curling up in my girly, flower covers with a soft, oversized throw on top of my dainty comforter. The downside of this being that I don't want to get OUT of bed in the morning. Also, a tip I didn't include in my original post, make your bed your sleep sanctuary and ONLY your sleep sanctuary. Our bodies rely on muscle memory for a lot of things. If you've been doing bills, eating lunch and playing on the computer in your bed, you're confusing the heck out of your body! Bed is for sleep only (and maybe a little adult fun once you're well rested!), don't train your body otherwise!

I haven't quit my terrible television habit just yet, but I have been setting the timer to turn the television off about 30 minutes into my sleep session. So far, I have noticed my dreams aren't quite as vivid and when I wake up in the middle of the night I'm much quicker to fall back to sleep than I was when my "Friends" reruns were playing in the background.

And to answer the biggest question I've received in emails ... I am still sneaking some me time in. One of my biggest concerns about making the night-day switch was that I would lose my time to catch up on my DVR shows, blog or just read a book if I felt like it. This week I've been turning in around 11:30 and waking up around 7:20. This gives me about an hour of solid me time at night and about two hours in the mornings. So far I've been able to keep up with my shows (I don't watch THAT many but am very dedicated to the ones I do watch), work out for 45 minutes AND blog here and there.

How's that for a successful four days? Tune in tomorrow to find out if any of these wake-up tips have really helped me wake up on the right side of the bed!

1.18.2012

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ... lentil balls?

Well tweeps, you spoke and I heard you loud and clear.

Not in the Twitter loop? I may or may not have posted a tweet regarding my wish to have a personal sub shop in my own home (if I were rich), so that I could have these fabulous lentil ball sub sandwiches whenever my heart desired.

Apparently, what your hearts all desire, is my lentil ball recipe. FYI, I'm a serious advocate of lentils. If you haven't tried them yet, this recipe is a must. Lentils are magic in my book, interchangeable in basically any recipe that calls for "ground beef," from sloppy joes and meat balls, to meatloaf and stuffed peppers.

I've had these photos on my phone for months ... like, before we moved into the new house months. These lentil balls are crazy delicious, but kind of tedious, so make a big ole' batch and freeze away!

Lentil Balls (just like your vegan grandma used to make em')
(Serves: A lot. Depends on how big you prefer your balls, no pun intended)
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups lentils (some people swear by red or green or a particular variety, I swear by whatever is on sale!)
5 cups water
5 shallots, diced up (or a medium onion will suffice, I swear by shallots when it comes to cooking them)
1/4 cup minced garlic (it's good)
2 TBS olive oil
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1 TBS Italian seasoning
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
Flaxseed "eggs" (2 TBS ground flaxseed, 3 TBS warm water, let it sit for 10 minutes)
2 TBS vegan "steak" sauce

Directions:
Cook 2 1/2 cups lentils in 5 cups of water for 20-30 minutes (or until lentils are tender and smooshy).
Preheat oven to 375.
Using a mashed potato masher (or your hand if you want a good workout) smash the lentils into a stick almost paste consistency. Stir in cooked brown rice, olive oil, garlic, shallots, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, nutritional yeast, flaxseed "eggs" and steak sauce. Mash and mix until well blended.
On a greased cookie sheet, roll lentil-rice mixture into golf-ball size balls (you can go a little bigger if you want).
Drizzle olive oil over the top and pop into the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning balls halfway.
Balls are done once the outsides become slightly crispy and light brown.
Enjoy in barbecue sauce as an appetizer, in a sub sandwich with pizza sauce or with your favorite pasta.
These bad boys are a hit with parents and kids alike!

1.16.2012

Do you know how to wake up on the right side of the bed?

I'm sure you've all been sitting at the edge of your beds waiting for my next post about sleep. How can you be expected to get any shut eye knowing I'm about to write a post dedicated to just that?

I know, it's all so thrilling.

In case you've missed out, I'm putting my body through some new training - sleep training. I'm a self-proclaimed night owl-fiend, you know, the kind that stays up until the wee morning hours doodling in her journal and watching old television reruns. Then, while the rest of you are off greeting the morning (actually at morning time), I'm sleeping away hitting snooze button after snooze button. (OK, not really, I actually just set three alarms about 15 minutes apart, mainly because the snooze button makes me all sorts of delirious and confused in my zombie sleep state). 

I bet you're wondering what the point of all this sleep nonsense is. You get your seven hours of Z's a night, why on earth do you need any tips? You just close your eyes and bam, you're sleeping. You're thinking, "that Chubby Vegan Mom is just crazy. Sleep is the easiest thing in the world."

Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But judging by some of the other human beings I've come into contact with the past few mornings, I think we could all do ourselves a favor (and our bodies) and just review this cute little list I've put together on some waking-up-on-the-right-side-of-the-bed pointers. 

And fear not faithful followers, I'm testing out all these crazy theories, so if any of them are must-do's or must-don'ts you'll be the first to know (er, well, second, since technically I'll be the first to know). 

Think you're ready to become a morning person? Then get ready to greet that sunrise with some serious zest folks.

1. No, seriously, get some zest. Or maybe a little bit of peppermint, whichever you prefer. Did you know studies show that people who kick start their day with a little lemon water, tea, peppermint tea or gum are more productive the rest of the morning? The effects are said to double when you pair a lemon or peppermint beverage with a scented candle, lotion or fragrance. I don't know about you, but if a little peppermint candy and lemon candle are all it takes to get my butt in gear, I'm going to give this little gem a whirl. And heck, even if it doesn't work, all I'm stuck with is a yummy candle and some hot water!

2. OK, now for the hard part. If you're trying to train your body to wake up earlier, take baby snoozes, I mean steps. If you're used to waking up at 9 a.m. everyday but now you need a consistent 6 a.m. wake up call, don't shock your body into it. You might think "oh one day of pain and no sleep will mean I'll rest easier the following night." WRONG. All sleep shocking your system will do is make you a big grouchy pants all day, cause you to seriously zonk out at night and wake up feeling even more tired when you try to get up at 6 a.m. again. Trying to make up for your five hours of sleep the night before with a 12-hour sleep session is not going to reset your body's clock.

Instead, work your way to an earlier wake by using the T rule. Decrease your wake up time by 20 minutes every two days (but make sure you're accounting for this at bedtime folks! Going to bed at midnight and expecting to feel refreshed at 5 a.m. is just silly). Take for example my week. My absolute latest curfew for this week is midnight. Today I woke up at 7:40. Tomorrow and Wednesday I'll wake up at 7:20. Then Thursday and Friday I'll wake up at 7 a.m. This means by Thursday and Friday I should be turning in no later than 11:30 if I want to allow myself time to journal in my stress book and catch a few minutes of "Friends" reruns (I'm setting the sleep timer on the TV and trying really, really hard to break this habit!). 

3. Just say no ... to snooze buttons. Not only do they annoy the crap out of your significant other, they're actually MAKING you tired. No, they're not giving you a few precious minutes like you might think, they're actually tricking your body into trying to get more rest and making it MORE tired. Sleeping is seriously tough work on your body. It's got to go through a whole big spiel before it can really shut down and relax (hello melatonin production, muscle relaxing, body temperature cooling off, brain shutting down). 

When you constantly hit the snooze button and only allow yourself 5-10 extra minutes of sleep at a time, it's basically like restarting your computer, reading one email and then rebooting it again using that back switch on the tower. (AKA not shutting it down properly). Each time you do it, it's going to take longer for your computer (AND your body) to load back up. 

Some sleep experts even believe that by hitting the snooze button more than three times, you're actually making your body do so much work to go back to sleep that it forgets about all that REM (super deep, super awesome sleep) that you've already gotten and just makes you MORE tired. AKA, a big, fat grouchy pants.

4. So you're a serial snooze button-er, what now? It's simple really, just set your alarm clock somewhere you can't reach it. By the time you crawl out of bed and finally turn the darn thing off, it'll be MUCH easier to get your body moving for the day. Resist the urge to cozy back into bed. I'm really, really terrible about this. Even if I don't want to go back to sleep, I love, love, love laying in my bed wrapped in my blanket cocoon. I'll spend 20, 30 minutes just laying in my bed being warm. It's nice, but it's a waste of the morning. 

If you're tempted to crawl back into bed, reward yourself for getting out of it. Now that I don't have time late at night to watch all that bad television programming I'll let myself catch up with my DVR while I'm enjoying my morning coffee or oatmeal. Give yourself a reason to get out of bed, even if it's to catch up with everything you missed on Facebook while you were going to bed at 11. Make it a morning ritual to catch up with a friend or work buddy before you start your day. Part of programming yourself to be a morning person means setting up new routines to follow, new routines to give you a reason to get out of bed.

5. You're going to hate this one, but get your butt out of bed and DO something. Sleep experts advise anywhere from 15-30 minutes of light exercise to get the juices flowing. Head outside with your faithful dog Spot and go for a 20 minute walk around the block. Pop in your favorite exercise video and catch up with that annoying, dancing, perky trainer. Grab a dedicated friend and meet at the gym for a quick run around the track. Just get up and DO something. It doesn't have to be a marathon, it's just got to be physical activity that gets you moving, your blood pumping and those wonderful, awesome endorphins flowing through your body.

Trust me, I'm the Chubby Vegan Mom herself, I'm not a fan of working out, but I can't stress how much this really, really helped me this morning. I got my butt out of bed at 7:40, brushed my teeth, brewed my coffee (because even though it's 12 degrees outside I LOVE iced coffee and have to let it cool off so the ice doesn't get all melty and water my drink down) and then did some yoga. I did 15 minutes of yoga and 15 minutes of light aerobics and you know what? By noon I was still going strong. By 5 p.m. I still felt great and it wasn't until about 7:45 p.m. tonight that I started to feel a little sluggish. 

It's hard to make yourself do it, hard while you're actually doing it and you're body might be a tiny bit sore when you're done, but trust me, 30 minutes to an hour later you're going to have this awesome surge of energy and unlike your caffeine buzz, it won't cause a crash later.

6. Eat something for goodness sake! I know, I know, you don't have time to or you're not hungry. Too bad. I didn't say you had to eat a seven-course meal in the morning, I just said to eat something. Scarf down a banana, smear some preserves on an English muffin or blend up your favorite smoothie (say, with your Vitamix blender that you JUST ordered and are impatiently awaiting it's arrival). Just get something into your body. You're getting up earlier now and you're doing some physical activity, this means not only are you going to be hungrier, you're going to be hungrier A LOT earlier, like 10 a.m. earlier. I curbed my crazy lunch craving with a banana and peanut butter this morning and was good until I got off work in the early afternoon. 

Shove something little in your belly, your body will thank you later.

7. Don't forget to reward yourself. Add a little more curl to your hair (that you normally NEVER have time to do), catch up with your crappy DVR'd television or read your favorite blog before you go in the office. You're not just getting up early, you're restructuring your day and your life, so make sure to give yourself a pat on the back for all your hard work.

Because when you're a serious night owl like me, waking up on the RIGHT side of bed at the RIGHT time, is A LOT of work.

Stay tuned, this week is going to feature some of my epic fails when it comes to new morning routines and maybe, just maybe, a few successes! 

Do you have any sleep-sound tips? Don't hold out on a sleepy, chubby vegan mom, share already! 


1.15.2012

What sleep faux pas are you committing?

You might have read my confession yesterday to being an owl, a serious, serious, SERIOUS night owl.

You might also have read that I've got a sweet new gig that let's me work from home; but it's full-time which means I'm going to be getting my butt in gear a whole lot earlier than normal. Essentially, I need to become a lark (a fancy bird term for a morning person) in about two weeks.

But fear not friends (and any future employers that might be tuning in!), this Chubby Vegan Mom has got a plan in place. With the help of soothing scents, hot showers, blacked-out windows, a new schedule and an updated way of thinking, this transformation promises to be a success. It's not going to be easy, but it's going to be worth it and it's going to work. I might even train myself to work out next!

In order to start snoozing soundly, I got a few tips from the pros (of the medical variety). Before I started making a bunch of crazy changes to my body, they suggested I take a look at my current sleep cycle and nip those bad habits in the butt first.

So here it is faithful readers, a compilation of all the sleep faux pas I make on a daily (or nightly) basis.

1. Turn OFF the TV! You might think I'm crazy, heck, maybe I am, but since I was a small child I've almost always needed the busy noise and dull glow of the television to lull me to sleep. I've heard before that it wasn't good to try and catch Z's while the boob tube was running, but I always figured that since I successfully slept through the night despite the television being on that I was in the clear.

Turns out I was wrong - shocking, I know.

Even though my body might technically be snoozing through my beloved "Friends" reruns, my brain definitely is not. Did you know that while the rest of your body is shutting down for the night, your brain will still spend the wee hours of the morning trying to figure out what the hell all that racket is? Seriously. You might think you're sleeping soundly, but your brain is working overtime to transmit all that noise. So turn it off already!

Absolutely can't sleep without the television? Try setting a timer to go off in 30-60 minutes. While some sleep studies show falling asleep to the television can cause a delay in your REM cycle (you know, that super-deep, super-awesome sleep time), as long as you program the boob tube to shut down within 60 minutes your body and brain will be able to as well.

2. Set the mood (no, not like THAT). For at least two hours preceding bedtime, get yourself in the mood to unwind and relax. Take a hot shower, read a good book or watch a short (key word SHORT) television program. The point is to get your body (and your brain) mentally ready to sleep. But before you pick that E-reader up or sink into a two-hour Lifetime movie, think again. Devices such as televisions, laptops, tablets and cell phones emit a certain type of light that has been shown to reduce the amount of melatonin (a key chemical in the sleep-wake cycle) and should be avoided 30 minutes prior to your bedtime. And for the love of sleep, do NOT try to workout within two hours of going to bed. You don't even want to try to get a little shut eye with all those endorphins running through your body!

3. Make your bed a sleep sanctuary! If you have the opportunity to, spend a few extra bucks on making your bed your sanctuary. Buy that super cozy comforter, curl up with squishy, cool pillows and take in your gorgeous bedding. It sounds silly, but studies show that people (particularly women!) get more Z's in a bed they find "pretty." I know, it's funny right? So girl up your bed and slide into those dainty covers. But be warned! Avoid all those throw pillows - not only do they not have a place on the bed, some people will lose sleep over knowing those pillows are just carelessly tossed on the floor! Make sure your bedding has a place and purpose of its own!

Also, don't skimp on the candles! Scents like lavender, sandalwood, jasmine and chamomile have been shown to help the body unwind and can be a catalyst to the production of that oh-so-important melatonin. And do your air and the world a favor and buy soy candles! They're cleaner, burn longer and no animals have to be harmed in the making of them! That's what I call a win-win!

Buy blackout curtains! True night owls need to eliminate any outside stimuli, this includes traffic lights, neighbor happenings or any other things lighting up the sky outside your windows. Can't afford blackout curtains? Try this simple tip! Cover your windows with black poster board and pair with dark curtains, not only do you get a dark retreat on the cheap, it keeps pesky neighbors from peeking in!

4. Pick a time and stick to it. If you know you have to get up at 6 a.m., quit going to bed at 1 a.m. and expecting any kind of peaceful shut eye! Most adults need an average of seven-eight hours of rest each night to be a semi-decent human being the next day, so set your schedule according to your body's needs.

Not sure what your body needs? Try this fun test (but don't do it too much because you need to keep a schedule for goodness sake). Take advantage of a long weekend or a regular one by getting to know your sleep cycle. Go to bed at the same time for two-three nights in a row. Don't set an alarm and see when your body naturally wakes you up (not your bladder or the whining dog). By the second or third day, your body will be waking you after a certain amount of time (for me it's a little over seven hours). This week my goal is to get up between 7-7:40 a.m., so I've put myself on a strict midnight curfew. (I'll go over how to adjust your wake-up time tomorrow!) Next week my goal is between 5:30-6:30 a.m., so I'll up my curfew to 11 p.m. at the latest!

5. Last but definitely not least, keep a stress journal. Not one for words? No worries (literally)! A stress (or worry) journal doesn't have to be a recap of your day or a big block of text. Simply get a notebook and dedicate it solely to your stresses and worries. Before you go to bed at night just jot a few things down in your notebook that you're worried about (or heck, that keeps running through your mind). Whether it's "don't forget to take my vitamin in the morning" or "dentist appointment in three days I know I have 15 cavities," there are therapeutic benefits to writing your worries out. Not only do you feel better getting it out, seeing it on paper often makes us realize how silly or frivolous this worry is.

Still not doing the trick?

Delve a little further (but not a lot!). Instead of just writing a list of worries, get to the root of the issue. If you're worried about your dentist appointment because you think you have 15 cavities, branch out and solve what's stressing you so much about this.

For example: "I have a dentist appointment and I just know I'm going to have 15 cavities."
  • If I DO have 15 cavities, I MIGHT get lectured. Then, I'll schedule a time to get them filled and that will be it. I'll be more careful about brushing from then on.
  • In reality I only have three cavities and they'll take a few minutes to fix, it'll be OK.
  • I don't have any cavities and I've been worried for nothing.
It might sound silly, but sometimes working out a problem on paper so that all outcomes are right in front of us can help us get over whatever it is that's eating away at us. 

Have fun with your journal. Mine is filled with colorful swirls, magazine cutouts and anything else that I feel like including in there. It's my stress journal, the point of it is to get everything off my chest, so sometimes that means sketchy drawings, crappy cartoons and lots of color. I promise over the next week to upload a few shots of the work I do, just to give you a few ideas for your own. (I'd do it now but I'm nearing curfew!)

Most importantly though, don't be too hard on yourself. Resetting your sleep schedule is tough work, but someone has to do it. Stick with this new routine for at least two weeks before reevaluating it.If you miss your new night "curfew" don't mess with the rest of your schedule too much or you'll be doing more damage than good. You just might find yourself waking up on the right side of the bed a little bit earlier each morning! 


Now that you know how to cozy up to sleep, tune in tomorrow for the right way to greet the day (when it's actually daylight)!

Are you a lark or an owl?

My name is Amanda and I have a confession.

I'm a serious owl.

Like, a serious, serious owl.

And while there are studies which link owlness to genetics, mostly, I'm an owl because I'm a little bit selfish and a lot a bit lazy.

Are you privy to the owl and lark sleep metaphors? While I'm a recent-declared owl, it's something I've known for a while. These terms are used to assess your sleep patterns, like, as an owl, I usually don't crawl into bed until midnight (at the earliest) and my head doesn't even hit the pillow until at least 1 a.m. Larks (aka, that annoying bird variety) on the other hand, greet the sunrise with the same zest I have for the moon and usually turn in when most of us owls are just warming up.

All your life you've probably been a morning or night person, well now, you're a bird of some sort. Jump on the bandwagon, it's fun.

I've been pretty comfortable in my owl status for most of my life. I went to PM kindergarten, made sure to take easy morning classes in high school so I wouldn't have to pay attention (except that year I had calculus first period, yeah, that was a big old fat C-) and didn't bother signing up for a college class unless it started after 9 a.m. This worked for most of my life.

There was the occasional 5:30 a.m. softball conditioning during the winter (I naively thought there was some kind of rule or law that would protect me from such torture, alas, I was wrong), not to mention my best friend Lauren trying to wake me up for a 7 a.m. jog after a long night of partying (she is a SERIOUS lark), but for the most part, my owlness has never been a cause of concern.

This photo depicts one of the last times
 I was successfully a lark. I was a person 
with good sleeping habits. I also think I
 look thinner as a lark. This could just
 be wishful thinking, however. 

The only time in my life I've been a successful lark was during my first year as a copy editor with the Troy Daily News. On Mondays we had to get our butts in the office at 5 a.m., coupled with a 30+ minute commute meant a wake-up call before 4 a.m. Don't worry though, I got to sleep in the rest of the week, a whole extra hour. It took some adjusting, but I was a full-fledged lark for almost an entire year of life, until our deadline changed and required shifts of the owl variety, the 1-2 a.m. kind.

Even after becoming a mommy, I've enjoyed my late nights. With Pear turning in sometime between 8-9 p.m. (and my husband following soon after her), I get a good three hours to myself at night to defrazzle from the day, destress, blog, bake, watch all my terrible television and just enjoy some me time. I love my me time. I need my me time. I've just always thought I had to have my me time at night, because any kind of time before 7 a.m. would just be torture.

Well, friends, things are about to change around here.

I've accepted a new, kick-ass editing opportunity that while allowing me to work from home, will be full-time again, which means this momma is going to start as early as she's allowed in order to allot plenty of family time in the early evening. This coupled with my goal to get my butt into at least some kind of shape (even if that shape is only five pounds less and still curvy), means my owlish ways are going to have to come to a halt.

It's going to be bad, folks.

Really, really bad.

I've got two weeks to whip my owl behind into lark shape, but don't worry, I won't be doing this cold turkey. Not only have I consulted with several larkish friends, I've gotten tips and pointers from a few pros of the medical variety, so I'm going to kick my owl habit one step at a time.

Tune in tomorrow for a look at all the ways I've been setting my body up for lark-failure and how I plan on beating them. (Not to mention some super simple ways to help you get some more sound Z's, I know all you mommas out there need that -- chubby, vegan or none of the above).

1.12.2012

Butterfly kisses and Eskimo smooches

Sometimes things move way too fast.

Sometimes WE move way too fast. 

I'm completely guilty of this, of moving too fast, of not savoring the moments. 

I'm always focused on the mistakes of my yesterday and the plans of my tomorrow, that I rarely find time to enjoy the now, the present, the small things. 

Like rocking my beautiful, healthy little girl to sleep.

I've noticed a trend when it comes to our society; there are very, very few stages in our lives in which we truly allow ourselves time to just be. Time to live in the moment, not worry about what you've done or what you're about to do. When we're really, really little (like, Pearyn little), we don't know any better than to live in the now. We don't have much of a concept when it comes to time, so who really knows if one week actually feels like one week or if it only feels like a day. 

And then we start to grow up a little bit at a time, and once we get a taste of that growing up, we spend the next 18 years of our adolescence trying to hurry up and get there. When we're five we want to be 10, when we're 10 we want to be 13 and when we're 13 we want to be 25.

Something happens when we're little and we stop wanting to be truly little. Which, is really, really sad in a way, because what is better than being young, naive and believing in all things magic? There are days I'd give anything to go back to that time. (Although, I guess that'd just be me living in the past again ...)

And then we get to college (or, if not college, our late teens and early 20s), otherwise known as the selfish, deprived years. This might be the last time in our lives that we truly, TRULY live in the now. Most of us party way too hard, drink far too much and sleep far, far, FAR too little. The most we bother to look ahead in our schedule is to the time after classes, when the sun goes down and we can start our abusive cycle of partying too hard and not sleeping enough, again. 

We're mostly selfish and defiant, the fact that our bodies don't rebel against us and completely shut down is beyond me. Some of us graduate, some of us find another path. But in the end, we all walk away wondering what exactly we did with those four years and what the hell we're supposed to do next.

And now, enter adulthood. We panic. After spending nearly half a decade procrastinating and denying that we were growing up, we're officially adults. We get big people jobs, marry the loves of our lives and make babies. We save up for houses, for cars, for "rainy days." We take family vacations, we have conversations with our parents just because and we lose our grandparents. 

We don't realize it, but we're about to spend the next 30 years of our lives planning for a future, for a future most of us don't realize we're living right then and there. What's the point in saving up money for family vacations if you don't stop and find the time to make the family to go on it with. Why start a college fund for your child if you miss every birthday working to earn it? Why do we work so hard to achieve all these things, when we rarely have the time or the sense to stop and enjoy it?

Let's slow our lives down a bit. Let's walk through the daisy fields a little longer. Let's watch the snow fall. Spend time with each other. Laugh with each other. Love on each other. Watch bad movies with each other. I want to get to know the family I've worked so hard to make and raise. Soak in every last minute of my baby being a baby. Be selfish with our time as a family of three (who knows if and when a larger family is in store). Be selfish with my time as a mother, as a daughter, wife, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, friend, best friend. Appreciate the chance to comfort Pearyn's bad dreams, because one day, she won't want me to. 

Instead of planning this amazing future and family for my husband, myself and Pearyn, I think I'll take a break, sit back and watch it get made. 

Enjoy each other.

And butterfly kisses.

And Eskimo smooches.

And my family. My beautiful, beautiful family.



1.09.2012

Do you know what you're giving your children?

Pearyn loves bath time.

She absolutely adores any and all things involving the tubby.

You don't dare even utter the words "bath," "tubby" or "splashy" unless you're ready to commit a good 45 minutes to an hour camping out in the bathroom while Pearyn reenacts the sinking of the Titanic, the drowning and rescuing of her beloved Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck Seahorses and doodling all over the side of the tub and walls with her bath crayons.

She is seriously obsessed.

So for Christmas this year, there were two things we were definitely getting our little girl: Bathtub crayons (check, these are seriously awesome folks) and a bathtub finger paint soap set (check, this is trashed, for good, forever, until she's like, 40). They seemed like two awesome gifts we could get our little water bug.

Sweet, sick baby
Key word: Seemed.

I say "seemed" because while the tub crayons are an absolute hit, the finger paints were quite possibly the biggest fail on our part ever. We're talking EPIC failure. Like, gargantuan, moronic, biggest catastrophe of the year fail.

Remember how Pearyn has been sick for the last week? Like, crazy high fever (100-103), vomiting, chills and lethargy? And remember how we all assumed she just had a strain of the flu? Remember how she had an even crazier, higher temperature (102-104) three days LATER, not to mention more chills and more lethargy?  Remember how we took her to the doctor and they ran test and four days into the scary fever, chills, vomiting, lethargy epidemic we found out that Pearyn in fact didn't have the flu, but a bladder infection? (I know, a 20 month old with a bladder infection, wtf, right?)

Well, remember those bathtub finger paint soaps, again?

Are you catching my drift yet?

In case you haven't put two and two together, our doctor is nearly 100% certain that those super fun, super awesome (NOT) finger paint soaps are to blame for our little girls current state of distress.

That's right, fun, designed-for-little-kids, finger paint soap has absolutely ravaged my little girl's urinary tract system.

Are you aware of bladder infection symptoms? I was shocked to find that many of them (when the infection ranges from mild to severe) fall in line with the common flu bug. From high fevers, chills, vomiting and extreme lethargy, the only signs that generally set it apart from the flu is the burning and frequent urination. But how on earth is my 20-month-old daughter (who is just learning to tell me when she's going to the bathroom) going to communicate that it's burning when she pees?

What's a mother to do?

A week of sleep can cure anything.
We picked a natural brand. It said kid safe. It was non-animal tested for Pete's sake. It was soap. Like the five other kinds of soap Pearyn has had in her bath at one time or another. It had little characters on the bottle and a cute little dish to hold the colors in.

I realize there's a rumor going around that bubble baths should be avoided for itty bitty children, because it can reek havoc on their urinary systems. I thought we were in the clear. I thought natural, non-animal tested and environmentally friendly finger paint soap would be the last thing I had to worry about. Pearyn has been in the bath with bubbles before. Granted, it wasn't a big, poofy bubble bath, but there was some definite foam. Her body has never acted negatively to bubbles, so how could I have known it would this time?

After Pearyn's doctor and nurse assessed the situation and came up with the most-likely cause for her infection, I began to do some research of my own (aka Googling). I was absolutely blown away to discover hoards of reviews and parent comments with children who had the same reaction Pearyn did to the soap. From 10 and 20 month old sisters, to a three-year-old little girl, to a two-year-old boy, there were dozens of accounts of urinary infections after using these soaps dubbed "kid-friendly" and "natural."

The worst part? The manufacturer gets away with this crap because of the half-assed disclaimer on the back of the box of paint soap that says "Warning, prolonged use may cause irritation of the skin or urinary tract."

Prolonged use? What qualifies as prolonged use? 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, or until your hands become all pruney? How can a product designed for a small child be so incredibly vague about something so incredibly important?

I'm not blaming the company here. I will completely own up to the part I played in this. I recognize that for every child who did develop a UTI from these finger paint soaps, a good 10-20 kids did not. I'm not trying to play the "I spilled my hot coffee on myself and burned my leg, so YOU owe me money for not telling me it was hot" card here.

I am, however, asking for parents to be more careful with what they're giving their child on a daily basis. I bought an all natural, kid friendly product, I didn't even bother to read the small print on the back, the disclaimer, the directions. Would I have changed my mind about giving her these paints had I read the flimsy warning on the back?

Probably not.

But had I read the plethora of reviews citing all of these sorts of problems before hand, would I have changed my mind?

Probably.

We're in this together, parents. Let's help each other out.

1.08.2012

Is it 2013 yet?

Seriously, this Chubby Vegan Clan is getting hit hard in 2012.

Remember a few posts ago I commented about how 2012 just wasn't playing fair, well it just couldn't get enough and decided to go below the belt.

Literally.

Pearyn's "flu bug" turned out to be a bladder infection. Yup, my 20-month-old baby girl has a urinary tract infection. The worst part about this whole ordeal? She suffered for three whole days (while we were "waiting out the flu bug") before even getting diagnosed. So by the time we got the antibiotics into her system and they've actually started doing their job, it's been seven whole days of infection.

While it's hard to track the exact cause of a UTI, because they're pretty rare in children, Pear's nurse who happened to work for a urologist has a pretty good idea where it came from. I'm going to save this whole scenario for my next post, as I'm absolutely drained after dealing with a poor, bladder infection-ridden child for the last week.

And to make matters worse, I'm getting sick too. Like scratchy throat, want to claw it out and shove a bazillion tissues up my nose at the same time, sick. And alike Pearyn's bladder infection, I'm pretty sure where my sickness came from -- the weather -- and my lack of sleep. Seriously, it's January in Ohio. If we have another 50-degree day this month I might scream. Or pop, literally, because my sinuses are all sorts of backed up and wigged out thanks to the 20 degrees and snow one day, spring showers and 50s the next. FYI Ohio, it's winter, in case you forgot.

So we're all on the mend her in the Chubby Vegan house. Big things are on the way though, friends, including a new giveaway, my "you'll never believe THIS gave my daughter a bladder infection post," an in-depth look at disciplining children and a few more posts investigating exactly where we draw the line with veganism and the rest of our life, or if we do.

So fear not friends, you won't have to wait on the edge of your seats much longer, just until 2012 starts to play nice or one of us in this household recovers.

I wouldn't hold out for 2012, though.

I hope everyone else is having a much more stellar start to the new year, I'm looking forward to restarting mine once our entire clan is back in the swing of things.

1.05.2012

Why do I feel like I'm failing at motherhood?





















Do you see my poor, sick baby? She looks absolutely desolate, doesn't she? There's something both heart wrenching and sweet about a tiny little girl in a big ole' bed. Despite her being a bit of a bed hog AND a human boiler (she's been running really high fevers), I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy what a cuddle bug she's become - I just wish she didn't have to be deliriously overheated and exhausted to be one!

Tomorrow will be four days of poor, sick baby, but hopefully we'll have an answer. After a few glimpses of "maybe our baby is on the mend" the last two days, they were each followed by chills on top of chills and higher and higher fevers. After having a temperature of 103 at 8 a.m. this morning, we decided she either has the worst strain of flu ever or something else is going on.

That's when it all started - the guilt.

Normally, I'm probably what you'd call a feminist. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an extreme, anti-bra, armpit hair growing, caustic woman (although I fully respect any of you that choose that lifestyle!), but I'm definitely more vocal about gender equality than others might be. I'm one of those women who think wives and mothers shouldn't just cook the bacon, they should be able to bring it home if they want too (or just order out the bacon for that matter). I don't think we're any better or worse than men and I don't want special attention because I have a vagina.

But then that damn guilt got to me.

My husband and I woke up this morning, throwing on our work attire and gulping our cups of coffee. We were fumbling for extra diapers, extra clothes, extra medicine and a thermometer, you know, the mountain of things you need to care for a sick child. My mom was due to watch Pearyn today and because it's basically a second home to her, I wasn't worried about shipping my sick child off, she loves, LOVES my parent's house. But then she wouldn't get out of bed and when she did, she cried, a lot. And then she shook. And cried. And her skin felt hot enough to cook tofu on.

And then it hit me.

Shit, we weren't going to be able to drop her off with mom in that condition, I couldn't ask that of my parents, so now one of us had to stay at home with her, and naturally, it was going to be me.

Wait, say what? Naturally it was going to be me? Naturally I was going to call off work to stay at home with Pearyn? What's so natural about any of that? Does my having a vagina make me more equipped to calling off work and staying at home with the child? Is it the fact that she literally came from MY body? Or, is it some sort of societal brainwashing I've experienced my entire life that I never knew I was absorbing?

Why did I feel like it was MY duty to stay at home? I had three calls with clients today to set up new projects, data and text coming in from others, not to mention I'm wrapping up eight projects alone in the next four weeks. Why do I have this nauseating urge, this unsung responsibility, to be the one to call off?

Before I had time to ponder gender stereotypes, my husband took one for the team and called off. Pearyn was running an abnormally high fever and the doctor shipped us off to have tests on her respiratory and urinary system run.There was no doubt about it, our little girl is sick.

We're still waiting on results to find out whether it's a bladder infection. We've ruled out most other common causes, so now it's simply a case of a really, really terrible strain of flu or an infection. At any rate, we're hoping to get to the bottom of it by tomorrow.

I cried half the way to work. Partially because I'm just way too sensitive and partially because I felt like I had let my baby girl down. What kind of mother gets in her car and goes to work when her baby feels like crap? I'll tell you what kind, a crappy one. I know it sounds dramatic; I know there's nothing wrong with leaving my little girl at home with her daddy, logically, I know I'm not a crappy mom because I went to work. But in my heart and in my warped, 1950s housewife mind, I felt like I let her down.

I can't help but wonder what other things I've programmed myself to be "dutiful" to. The kitchen? Dinner? My muffin pan?

1.03.2012

2012 isn't playing very nice

Remember all that spiel I said yesterday about embracing 2012 starting today? Well, apparently I embraced it a little too tightly because it puked all over me - literally.

My usually healthy child has spent the first three days of 2012 with the flu. The poor thing has had a fever ranging from 101-103 (of course, only at night time), with a bout of projectile vomiting for two days. The worst part? She's only thrown up twice - in the morning - and she's seemingly fine throughout the day. But then the night falls and she's sprawled out on my chest fighting both a fever and the chills.

See? 2012 isn't playing very nice.

We've been alternating fever relievers round the clock to keep her temperature in check (as in check as it can be), but I feel utterly helpless. Are there any more holistic approaches (or hell, anything that gets results) that you mommas can recommend when fighting the flu bug?

Because she's been so utterly clingy the last two days, she's been snoozing in the big bed with mom and dad. I know, I know, terrible habit to break, but it's the only way we can stay sane, get rest and medicate her. This wouldn't be an issue if our little girl would use even a slightly average amount of space, but this simply isn't the case.


We're dealing with a serious bed hog here people. At 19 months old, our daughter manages to leave both my husband and I dangling off the edge of the bed, quite an accomplishment for her 25-lb frame.

So we end up with a maze of arms, legs and torsos, tangled in masses of covers, Mickey Mouse stuffed animals and other essentials our daughter just can't do without.


You seriously can't tell where one body begins and the other ends.

So I'll concede this time, 2012, you win.

This week, anyway.

1.02.2012

Out with the old and in with ... more old?

I'm sorry folks, I just can't accept it.

I can't accept that it's 2012.

I am just not willing to accept that it's been 12 years since I rang the millennium with old high school best friends.

Yeah, I bet you feel old now, don't you?

In honor of new beginnings and fresh starts (not to mention a fresh coating of the white stuff early this morning -- symbolism much?), I'm going to start my first post of 2012 by looking back at my favorite 11 posts from 2011. Take that, fresh start.

In order from awesome to most awesome, I present you with my list of the 11 Chubby Vegan Mom blogs from 2011 that you just have to read.

No. 11: In July I got in touch with my religious side (or my not much of one) in A journey of faith. Religions is a constant battle for some people as it is, let alone when you start to add the vegan variation into it. Is there a religion suitable for vegetarians and vegans? Should veganism even play a role when it comes to faith? My family is on a continuous search to find a faith that not only supports our lifestyle, but one that we support as well.

No. 10: July also saw an in-depth look at the roles veganism and sexism play in play things, namely a toy kitchen. In Part one of When is a Kitchen just a Kitchen, I explored the genitalia-based manufacturing behind a seemingly non-confrontational toy kitchen. Were they really designed to be boy-friendly or were toy makers just throwing a grill on the side of one and saying it was? Part two of the kitchen series focused on the meat-eating, dairy-drinking side of toys. Instead of being chock full of veggies, fruits and everything else healthy, we were faced with toy canisters of whole milk, hot dogs and burgers. What's a vegan to do with all that plastic meat?

No. 9: In March we introduced nuts, legumes and all sorts of wonderful plant-based protein into our daughter's life. With her nearing her first birthday and her liquid-based diet tapering off, we slowly worked magical things like almonds, lentils and beans into mealtime (with the doctor's seal of approval that is). Unfortunately, I was faced with someone (a know-it-all shopper who, last time I checked, didn't have a medical degree) who decided my decision to feed Pearyn almonds wasn't a good one. This led to Pardon me while I hope up on my soapbox, a what-I'd-like-to-say-to-all-you-naysayers response to those of you who scoff at our vegan baby raising habbits.

No. 8: My eighth pick for 2011 blogs was one of hot debate. In This blog is brought to you by an angry chubby vegan mom, I begged and pleaded (and maybe barked a little) with people to just fix their damn pets already. And I still mean every.word.of.this.

No. 7: In July I also admitted to one of my biggest flaws ever: I'm not a super mom. I came to the realization that when you become a wife, mother and all sorts of other "labels," it's easy to lose yourself behind them. Somewhere along the way I lost the Amanda I was and I've been on a quest to find her since. If you happen to come across her (she's the carefree, creative, not ready to pull her hair out version of myself), please, let me know.

No. 6: In February I faced my first encounter with the bitchy kind. After introducing tofu to our little girl's diet (again, with doctor recommendation), I was harassed by two women in the grocery store when they overheard exactly what I was planning on doing with that block of tofu (feeding it to my daughter -- GASP)! In Go home, we don't like people like you, go to a doctor to be normal, you get this, I expressed my frustration with feeling like less of a mother because two women thought I was.

No. 5: Just this past year (like a month ago in December), I made a Not New Year's Resolution with myself to quit giving myself such a hard time. In When reducing my stress increases it, I detailed my plight at trying to be the perfect daughter, wife, friend and mother, and how hard it can be trying to be perfect all the time. I decided my goal of 2012 would be to cut myself some slack.

No. 4: A year ago this month, I came to the realization that I am, in fact, the chubby vegan. As a girl growing up I constantly didn't feel thin enough for anyone's standards. But after joining the vegan lifestyle, I really, really didn't feel thin enough. It's already hard enough to be a woman in today's stick-skeletor society, but when you have to explain to people that you don't eat meat or dairy and you STILL manage to not skinny, it's a real blow to the self esteem.

No. 3: In September I held my fellow vegans accountable for once. I detailed the inner-vegan-circle struggle to be "vegan enough" in a sometimes judgmental society in the blog Aren't we all on the same team. For the most part, we're a welcoming, friendly bunch who will give another vegan the last cookbook on our shelf to help them out, but as with every group, there are extremists, the quintessential "mean girls." I took a stab at addressing all those vegans out there who are just "so much better" than the rest of us.

No. 2: In September I made the shocking discovery that My daughter is a trend. They say that any press is good press (even bad one), but is this the case when an article claims that more and more parents are hopping on the vegetarian and vegan bandwagon? It may sound like a good thing, but it's frustrating to have to convince every single person you come into contact with that you are in fact, serious about your vegan lifestyle, and that you're pretty sure having been one for five years now doesn't count as a "phase" anymore.

No. 1: While it was tough decision, my all-time favorite post of 2011 was What kind of parent are you. In this post I called for not just vegan ones, but parents of all kinds, to start paying attention to what they're putting in their child's mouth. I'm willing to concede that it's possible to raise a child with meat and dairy in their diet responsibly (morally I still find it conflicting), but it's going to take some work. I encouraged parents not to adopt a vegan diet (although that would be fabulous), but to start educating themselves about the world around them and the food in it.

These are my top 11 of 2011, did you have any Chubby Vegan Mom posts you found particularly entertaining? Did you have any posts of your own from 2011 that you found noteworthy?

And now my promise, tomorrow, I will accept that it's 2012 (but today, I will mourn all my year's past).