1.31.2013

How I survived my first night alone (and other nightmares)

I'm starting to understand why some families decide to have 19 children.

It's for the extra back-up. When one parent has to travel for business there are still 19 sets of eyes there to watch over tattle on each other.

My better half is attending a work conference in Kentucky, which has left me with our one-month-old screamy-pants son and our mischievous (that's the nice way to put it) two-and-a-half-year-old daughter. I have been home alone for the last 24 hours and still have 12 more to go before he returns.

I don't know how single moms do it. I don't know how military wives do it. I don't know how women married to men who travel all the time do it. I don't know how women married to men who do absolutely nothing at home do it.

It wasn't an extraordinary day. Pearyn went to school for the morning, Braeburn had a chiropractor appointment and I made granola. The kids were really good for the most part. Braeburn even enjoyed the heck out of the new rain forest bouncy chair we got him (I've read that it can help soothe babies with gas/colic issues). We already have a swing which he will sleep in, but he doesn't really care for it when he's awake. Although, it's funny to watch him try to wake up in the swing, his eyes open and he wants so much to wake up, but the swinging motion just lulls him back to sleep (for a few minutes anyway).

Pearyn continued to test her boundaries some more, she really enjoys arguing with us about every little thing these days. I could tell her it would be absolutely awesome if the sky rained jellybeans (her favorite candy ever) and she would tell me "no" and that I'm a "bad mommy" for even suggesting such an asinine thought.

Luckily the day wasn't a total bust, as my best friend's fiance was attending the same conference as my husband. So we made a night out of it and made vegan "chicken" broccoli alfredo pizza and tried not to lose our minds between my two hellions and her seven-month-old daughter.

It was fabulous to be around another adult human being that isn't related to me, mainly because I've been so hesitant to have friends over with our bouncing bundle of colic screaming up the entire house. I know it's not his fault, deep down I know it's probably not my fault (although I come up with about 18 different scenarios a day detailing how I must have done SOMETHING to make my baby be this way), but it doesn't stop me from feeling guilty, frustrated and nervous when it comes to our less-than-bubbly baby boy.

The truth is I've been avoiding most of my friends (only three have seen our son and that wasn't until this past week, when he was a month old) because some days, I don't know how to deal with his colic, so how on Earth could they? The truth is I become instantly stressed when someone other than my husband is around Braeburn because I feel the need to explain why he's crying so much, why he's inconsolable. I feel like I have to convince others that he is a happy, healthy, loved child because his screaming could lead people to think otherwise.

Sometimes I go out-of-my-way to talk about what an easy day he had the day before, even if it wasn't all that easy. I say these things because partially, they make me feel better and partly, because I don't want everyone to think I have a bad baby.

I know there's no such thing as a "bad" baby, but I'm surrounded by all these women and mothers who have seemingly perfect babies. Babies who breastfeed easily, who take a bottle of anything and digest it, who fall asleep simply from the soft touch and coo of their parents. My son, albeit having more better days than he was, still shrieks in pain after some feedings, still screams at night during the "bewitching" hour (the same chunk of three hours where he cries every night for no apparent reason) and has to be practically jostled around to fall asleep.

It's nothing anyone has done. My friends are wonderful people, offering nothing but support and a shoulder to lean on. But in my head, as a mother and as a woman who can sometimes be her toughest critic, I start to wonder if my stress level in pregnancy made my baby stressed now. If my diet was too hard to digest so now he has digestive issues.

I know it's not that simple, if it were, doctors and parents everywhere would have the answer to colic, to "difficult" babies, but without my support system here, without my husband to remind me that this too is just a phase and will pass, it's hard not to get wrapped up in the overwhelming-ness of it now.

I have no idea how women without strong support systems, without a generous partner, without a selfless family, make it through the first three months of motherhood.

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1.30.2013

Why cloth diapering doesn't disgust the hell out of me

Despite being vegan, a little hippie (the 60's peace and love version, not the body variety, although I am that too) and kind of what you consider a "natural" momma, I never for a second considered cloth diapers while I was pregnant with Pearyn. It's not that I had anything against them, they were super cute and obviously a much better option for the environment, I just didn't think I had the time to bother with them (or the patience).

Then I went to a family gathering with my husband and his niece (who is the mother of four boys nearly under four) started showing me how absolutely awesome they were. Not just how cute or how environmental (although the good looks gets bonus points), but how much more economical, rewarding and honestly, better for SOME babies they could be. Plus, if a homeschooling, self-sustaining farm-living mother of four could manage to cloth diaper without losing her mind, I could do it too, right?

So I delved into the world of fuzzy buns, genius bums and thirsty diapers, trying to tread my way through the seriously saturated cloth market. Who had any idea there were so many options when it came to things your baby pees and poos in!?

A lot of friends ask me how we went about selecting our "favorite" diapers, how they know which ones are right for them. I usually direct them to one of the several online cloth diaper "trial" programs, that allow you to test out several of the most popular brands for a nominal fee. If they're nearby, I advise them to talk to the owner of a natural parenting store in town. Ultimately though, we didn't do too much of any of this.

I knew that if I was going to cloth diaper, stick with it and appreciate it, I would have to find the best diapers and method that worked for OUR family. So while a lot of women absolutely swear by all-in-one diapers (they're essentially like a disposable diaper in that every time the baby pees or poops, you change the ENTIRE diaper and put a whole new one on), I steered clear of them.

The idea of covers with inserts appealed to me, because as long as you were adamant about changing baby's diaper (and by adamant I mean you don't let your baby sit in their pee all day), you could use the same cover all day and just keep using new inserts or tri-folds.

Needless to say that narrowed down our options QUITE a bit. Again, I wish I could tell you that we had some definitive, responsible way of selecting what brand and style of covers we chose, but in reality, I picked the ones that had the cutest patterns. We use Thirsties Duo Wraps, which come in two different sizes:   6-18lbs and 18-40lbs. I can report that they grew perfectly with Pearyn, we rarely had leaks (and if we did it was more often than not my fault) and they're still in amazing enough shape that we'll be using them with Braeburn as well.

When we switched to cloth, Pearyn's diaper rash was reduced, the patterns were adorable, her little butt was padded and I really, really felt good about our decision. On top of that, we saved more than $2,000 in the two years we used them with her.

Some people think it's gross, I get it. Who wants to "handle" a bunch of cloths covered in pee or poop? Better yet, who wants to put them in their washer? The truth is, it's not much messier than disposables. My handy hubby constructed a diaper sprayer for our toilet (imagine a dish sprayer that you have on your sink, only on your toilet). So now, anytime we had a poopy diaper all we had to do was spray it off and toss it in the washer. Plus, my husband's best friend has found many other uses for it, but that's a story for another time. Not to mention, if the baby is just breastfed (and hasn't started on formula or solids), their poo is completely water-soluble and doesn't have to be sprayed or rinsed, just thrown in the washer!

I get it, you still think it's gross. Well, have you ever smelled a Diaper Genie in need of a serious changing? It's bad folks. Not to mention those plastic bags you wrap around the stinky disposable poo can only contain that smell for so long. And to be honest, it's just really, really nice to know we're not contributing a bunch of poop and magical absorbent chemicals to some landfill somewhere.

Did I mention they were cute?

At a month old we just started Braeburn in his cloth, he looks so handsome (after I may or may not have raided a recent cloth diaper sale event at the local store). Don't worry though, Pear didn't leave empty handed. She may be out of her cloth diapering stage, but now she's in her girly, dress me up in tutus, glittery shoes and bows phase. So she walked out of the store with a brand new pear headband, fit for a ... PEARyn?

Oh I'm so funny.

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1.28.2013

Witch doctors, yeast and back-bending magic

Week by week we're seeing new improvements with Braeburn's digestive issues, with his sleeping patterns and his mood swings (or lack thereof). Sure, for every two or three good days we have, we run into an absolutely disastrous 24 hours.

Yesterday was one of those days. We spent the afternoon at my parents house, Pear ran around tearing into all of my old toys (from a dollhouse to a puzzles), while Braeburn delighted everyone with his bloodcurdling shriek. And when I say delighted I mean that he drove four adults to the point of wanting to sit outside in the cold while he took over the house.

My mother actually hugged me and apologized and said that she would have dropped off a bottle of Jack Daniels had she known it was this bad. (She was partially kidding, but partially not, I imagine).

With that said, let's get something clear here, though. I'm not being dramatic. I know babies cry. I know babies have issues. I know they're helpless little creatures that can't even itch their own little buts which is probably half the reason he's crying, I don't know. Maybe he just doesn't like me and can't express it, maybe he doesn't like my hair, maybe he doesn't like his, who knows.

But when you have a baby with these sorts of digestive issues with what all the pediatricians deem "colic," there's no such thing as normal.

So let's leave the "babies cry, it's normal" pep talks, gas drops and Harvey Karp's "Five S's" at the door, because they didn't put a dent in whatever issues have been plaguing our little boy.

Here's the thing about being a mother, you're automatically part of this secret society; then when you're a mother of a child with colic, that society becomes far more elusive. And we have to band together because until you've experienced a child with colic, you all think we're just out of our minds. You think we're just not as "patient" as others.

I've been getting a lot of emails asking how Baby B is doing, how we're doing as a family and if we've found anything on this green Earth to help with his gas, cramps and all-around discomfort.

The answer is yes and no. We've been trying a number of treatments, but I can't guarantee you that these are the reasons for his improvements. It could be some of this, some of that or it could just be that every day he gets older, his system matures and heals itself. Who knows.

For starters, we haven't actually taken him to any witch doctors. Although, if someone said one of them had the cure, I can't tell you that I wouldn't jump on that bandwagon too. We have, however, been taking him to the chiropractor for weekly adjustments. Hello, he was 10lbs and 22 inches, how could he not be all sorts of kinked up after spending nine months cramped in my uterus?

Don't get your panties in a bunch, though, we found a chiropractor that was certified in pediatrics, so there's no crazy back-twisting or contorting going on. He ended up being out of alignment in three different spots, so we'll be seeing her for the next six weeks to get him back in shape. And honestly, he sleeps SO well after one of his adjustments.

In addition, we've started him on probiotics. Because of his battle with thrush (or his body not being able to  battle it), the thought is that he has an overgrowth of the yeast bacteria in his belly. He's had thrush off and on for the last three weeks almost, no medicine the doctor prescribed could even touch it. Between the probiotics (we found one that was free of all the common allergens, including dairy, AND highly recommended by a friend's friend) and swabbing his mouth just ONCE with a solution of grapefruit seed extract and water, the thrush is so on it's way out.

Awesome.

In addition to these things, we've been giving him baths at night (which he absolutely adores) and using one of those calming lotions on him. It's basically normal lotion with chamomile and lavender, but he really enjoys getting the mini-massage.

In other news, Pearyn has started dressing herself. Which results in two different things: some really fashion-forward outfits AND her clothes strewn all over her room. Oh well, this is what we signed up for when we decided to convert her bedroom into the montessori-style and gave her little hands access to every last thing in her room. Needless to say she's getting really good at organizing her clothing drawers!

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1.25.2013

Do vegan samoa bars earn me a girl scout badge?

I have a deep dark secret to share with you.

OK, it's not really that deep or dark. Or secret, really.

I was a girl scout growing up. I left the troop just before high school, when one of my friends did our entire group of girls the favor of letting us know how "uncool" it was to remain in girl scouts at that age.

Did I mention I was kind of a sheep back then? I didn't want to be deemed "uncool," so my four friends and I that had been in the same troop since forever dropped out.

It would have happened eventually. My life was slowly becoming taken over by softball at that age anyway.

I don't remember what badges I earned. I really don't remember selling cookies all that much either. I'm pretty sure my parents did all the work for that (thanks, btw). Now that I'm a mother I have a new appreciation for all those tedious little tasks they took on for me. Probably because even though I earned a black belt in martial arts at the age of 13 my mom still didn't want me selling anything door to door, particularly cookies.

At the time my favorite cookie was a trefoil (shortbread). I know, boring, right? It wasn't until college when I discovered my love of coconut and caramel together ... aka, the samoa. It was like cookie perfection.

Needless to say I haven't had one of those in six years. I finally worked up the courage to tackle a vegan version of my favorite girl scout cookie, however, I didn't want to deal with all those holes and pretty rings. So I made bars, instead.

They came out absolutely amazing. There was a vegan version of these in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, however, it excluded the caramel coating (my favorite part), so I had to piece together a recipe all on my lonesome.


Samoa bars, baking my way to a badge
(makes 12 bars)
Shortbread ingredients:
1 stick vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Caramel "topping" ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBS maple syrup
2 tsp water
1/8 cup coconut oil (melted down)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut milk (the full fat kind in a can)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp corn starch
1 1/2 cup shredded coconut (toasted, just spread the coconut on a baking sheet at bake for about 10 minutes on 300 degrees)

Chocolate drizzle:
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
1 TBS coconut oil (melted)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degress. In a medium bowl, mix melted butter, brown sugar, applesauce and vanilla extract. Stir in flour until cookie doughish texture is achieved. Pour into a greased 8X8 pan and spread dough evenly. Bake for 15 minutes. Pull out of the oven and sprinkle1/2 cup of chocolate chips evenly over the square cookie. Bake for about 2-3 minutes or until the chocolate chips are soft and easily spreadable. Spread the chocolate chips to form a chocolate layer. Stick in the fridge for 20 minutes.

In a sauce pan on medium heat mix sugar, maple syrup, water and coconut oil until well blended. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then add vanilla extract, coconut milk and salt. Bring back to a simmer. Stir the mixture for at least five minutes and then add corn starch. Turn the heat to low and stir until it thickens. Stir in  toasted coconut and pop into fridge for 5-10 minutes.

Take out your cookie from earlier and make sure to unstick the chocolate from any edges. Take a butter knife and loosen the sides of the cookie until you can turn the pan over and "pat" the dough out. (You want to flip the square cookie over in the pan so that the chocolate layer is on bottom. Next, spread your caramel coconut sauce on top of the cookie.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and 1 TBS coconut oil. Stir and then using a fork (not a piping bag like my moronic self tried, face palm!) drizzle or "flick" chocolate sauce on top of coconut caramel layer.

Cut up the bars and call it a day. Trust me, you won't want to do anything but eat these bad boys!

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1.24.2013

Fired up Friday

I've been on a roll in the kitchen lately. From making stuffed mushrooms and scones for the first time (and having them actually turn out!!!) to attempting a vegan bar version of my most favorite girl scout cookie in the entire world (samoa aka caramel delites, stay tuned tomorrow for that recipe), I've managed to successfully keep two children alive and feed all of us along the way. Amazing, right?

Unfortunately, however, I haven't really been on a roll in most of the other areas of my life.

It's been nearly a month since I've given birth (23 days, but who's counting) and I'm still not feeling quite like myself just yet. I realize I still need to give it some time, but I can tell I'm lashing out undeservedly at some of the people in my life (sorry mom and hubby). I'm not sure if I'm just moody because of the hormone high I'm coming down from or if it's the exhaustion of pretending to be happy and holding it together all the time.

Don't get me wrong, most days, I'm pulling off this whole mother-of-two thing, but the further I get from his birth day the more I can tell people are wanting me - expecting me - to be normal. More friends are texting now, not just to ask me how much sleep I've been getting, but to remind me about their big birthday plans or to vent about their latest work drama.

They need me to be normal, I need me to be normal.

Despite dropping most of the baby weight and slipping back into my pre-pregnancy jeans the day after coming home from the hospital, I've still got that icky doughy, stretchy post-baby stomach sticking around. And if that isn't bad enough, my face has decided to act like I'm 13 again and breakout, but just on my chin, so it looks like I've been coating my lower face in butter for the last week. Mhmm butter.

And don't get me started on the giant, just in the way, overly-comical boobs.

As if those things aren't enough to make a woman insecure, I've got my husband working with teeny-waisted, cutesy women and complete strangers commenting on how my vagina "just won't be the same" after giving birth to a 10lb baby.

I kid you not.

Just in case you're wondering, it's "good as new" after the amount of stitches I received. Who needs vaginal rejuvenation when you could have a second degree tear instead?

And just because I'm fired up and it's Friday, let me throw one more thing out there. I'm not the vegetarian or vegan police, but I'm getting a little tired of hearing about how so-and-so is a "dietary" vegan. There's no such thing as "dietary" vegan because being vegan means giving the boot to those leather boots, fauxing your fur and purchasing cleaning, personal and household objects that are cruelty-free (aka nail polish that wasn't shoved in cuddly bunny rabbit eyeballs). I'm proud to be vegan, NOT because all I eat are veggies, grains and other things that come from faceless objects, but because it's NOT just a diet, it's a lifestyle.

It's exciting to chronicle our journey as a vegan family not just to provide kick-ass, tasty recipes, but to show that there is so, so, so much more to our lifestyle than good food.

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1.23.2013

Feeling frumpy? Make some blueberry scones!

It's no secret that I'm an avid baker. Sure, my cupcakes may not be the prettiest on the block and they may not be published in VegNews anytime soon, but they taste great and no animals were harmed in their making.

When it comes to baking, I've had nearly six years to figure the ins and outs of eggless and dairy-free goods. Through trial and error, I've achieved a springy cupcake, a moist chocolate cake, a perfectly dense muffin and the balance between crunchy a chewy most good cookies require.

What I've never done in my six years of vegan baking, however, is make a scone.

Maybe it's because my sweet tooth is far too sweet to be bothered with baking something that I always viewed as a glorified biscuit. Maybe I was just scared of it, I don't know.

Last night though, I made scones. Blueberry lemon scones that turned out not just amazing on their first attempt, but absolutely dead-on perfect.

I was pretty smitten with myself after figuring out how to make the perfect vegan scone, until I found some of the leftover dough in my hair.

So I'm a little messy. That's endearing, right?

In case you're feeling frumpy or stuck in a baking rut, give these scones a whirl. With the combination of low sugar and lots of fruit, they're not all that terrible for you either (as far as baked goods are concerned anyway).

scones, vegan, breakfast

Get-out-of-your-frump lemonberry scones
(makes 24 mini scones)
Ingredients:
1 pint fresh blueberries
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of one lemon (and zest for later)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk (maybe an additional tablespoon if your dough is too dry)
1 stick butter (we used Earth Balance)

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350. In a blender or food processor, blend blueberries and juice of one lemon. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine all the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and sugar. Soften butter in the microwave (you want it soft, not all sorts of melted) and add to dry ingredients. Stir in blueberry mixture. Add milk. Stir the dough or knead with your hands; you want the dough to be a little more wet than bread dough, kind of like the consistency of pizza dough. If it's too dry add a tablespoon more of milk (I didn't have to, but sometimes between the blueberry mixture and vegan butter you choose you might need a little more moisture). Once it's combined, divide dough into four balls. Flatten each ball (about 1/2 inch thick) into a round circle. You'll cut this in half and then in threes, resulting in six "mini" scones per ball. Place 12 on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (or just greased) and bake for 10-15 minutes. (So you'll bake two batches).

After the scones are out of the oven, brush them with a little vanilla almond milk and sprinkle a little sugar and the lemon zest on top.

Brag about how good you are at making scones!

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1.22.2013

When you cant solve life's problems, stuff a mushroom

It's not really a secret that I've been struggling over the last few weeks. Between getting through all these creepy postpartum hormones, letting my body heal, adjusting to life as a family of four and dealing with our second colicky child, there have been a lot of ups and downs.

The important thing is that there are ups. That I know there are far more ups than downs ahead of us and that we make it through the downs together.

To combat all the things in my life that are now wildly out of my control, I've started cooking dinner nightly, in addition to a hoard of baked goods. Yes, I made dinner anyway when it was just Ryan, Pearyn and myself, but taking on meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking up a dinner (not from a box) is quite the task when you've got a toddler running around that would rather wear her underwear on her head than on her bottom (don't even get me started on the fact that she'll sit and sit on the potty and then ask for a diaper to pee in) and a three-week-old infant that does more yelling than farting (sometimes both, he's a man of many talents)!

The thing about cooking is that it's something you CAN control. Despite my dislike of following recipes, you can tell by the texture, smell and look of something whether or not it's cooked to perfection. I'm going to start naming my scones like they were my children, that way I can control whether or not they achieve that perfect crumbly, not too dry, not too sweet profile they're supposed to have. Speaking of scones, they're in the oven now, if they turn out, I'll post that recipe next.

Tonight's dinner was stuffed mushrooms with broccoli lemon rice. I've never stuffed a mushroom before, so if you haven't lost your stuffed mushroom virginity yet might I suggest you hop on this bandwagon now? They're so so so simple, yet you'd never be able to guess how easy they were - or that they're vegan!



Stuffed mushrooms (for when life is out of control)
(makes 12)
Ingredients:
16 large white mushrooms
1/4 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese
1 8-oz tub of vegan cream cheese
2 TBS nutritional yeast
1 TBS Italian seasoning
2 shallots, minced
1 TBS minced garlic
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Olive oil to cook with

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take the stems out of 12 mushrooms and set the caps aside (these are the caps you'll be stuffing). Grab the stems (throw away any overly hard or gnarly ones) and the four remaining whole mushrooms and throw them in your food processor (you can dice them up by hand, but it's annoying and you want to get them as tiny as possible). Dice two shallots. Cook the diced shallots, diced mushroom blend and minced garlic and cook in a saute pan with a drizzle of olive oil on medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until a golden brown. In a small bowl, mix the cooked mushroom, shallot and garlic blend with the remaining ingredients (cheese, cream cheese, yeast, seasoning and breadcrumbs). Using a small spoon, fill the 12 mushroom caps with the "stuffing." Place on a baking tray and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Serve to all your friends and let them rave about how magical you are.

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1.21.2013

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies because you can

I'm not really THAT into peanut butter. It's kind of funny actually. Everyone else in my family can't get enough peanut butter, from my mother and husband, right down to Pearyn.

Me though, I don't like it so much.

There are occasional mornings where I'll force myself to scarf down a banana with some peanut butter, but when it comes to baked goods and desserts, I usually steer clear of it.

Which is why it's so funny that my very first thing I made after having Braeburn (three days out of the hospital might I add), was peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

Funny, right?

What can I say? I guess my cravings didn't just wind down right after I had the baby.

These cookies came out so utterly perfect that we've made them three more times since then. And all three times they haven't lasted more than two days.

I'll warn you now. They're not super peanut buttery, they've just got enough to make the texture of the cookie absolutely stunning and to play salty to the butter and brown sugar's sweet.

Trust me, you won't be disappointed. (See, I couldn't even take a photo of a WHOLE cookie because they were gone that quickly!)



Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
(makes 18-24 cookies, depending how big you like em')
Ingredients: 
1 1/4 cups flour
1 stick vegan butter (we used Earth Balance)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup vegan chocolate chips (more or less to taste)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter and mix in a medium bowl with peanut butter. Add brown and white sugar, stir until thoroughly blended. Mix in cinnamon, vanilla extract, baking soda and applesauce. Stir in flour, batter will be slightly "sandy" and soft. Add chocolate chips.

Grease a cookie sheet and scoop slightly larger than inch-sized balls on it. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are light brown and the middles are golden and gooey. Let cool on rack for at least five minutes (if you can resist).

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1.20.2013

PB fish sandwiches and other keys to survival

We've made it through three weeks of life as a family of four. The weird part? We're already falling into a new routine, one that is coincidentally better than it was during the last few months of my pregnancy (when I was huge and guilt-ridden and let my toddler run around like a maniac).

Sure, we get up a lot earlier than I'd choose to, but I plan to get back on the 5:45 a.m. spinning bike again sometime soon, so I might as well get used to it now, right?

 Despite things drastically improving over the last week, most people still approach me with the carefulness a delicate, cracked piece of fancy china. When they ask how I'm doing and I respond with "We're slowly getting there, things are on the up," they don't seem to believe me.

 Trust me, we still have our rough patches. Braeburn turns into somewhat of a butthole every night between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. (it's like clockwork, for real). Pearyn is testing her limits with us now that our attention is distracted and has colored multiple smiley faces on our walls (an issue we've NEVER had) and thrown more items into the toilet than we'd like, but somehow, these things just aren't as problematic as they seemed before.

OK, so maybe our daughter lives on peanut butter, fish-shaped sandwiches, so what? She's going through her "I dislike anything not cut with a cookie cutter and covered in peanut butter" phase. Oh, but she'll also tear some edamame and corn up like it's her job.

It might take us four hours to watch a 90-minute movie, but we do it, damnit. And my meal plans have consisted of dishes which almost always provide leftovers (which then serve as the next night's dinner), but we're only three weeks out as a family of four and somehow we're slipping back into our (improved) routine.

Some of my expecting mom friends have asked me how we're surviving with the newborn, how Pearyn has adjusted, what our secret has been (apparently they didn't read the five blogs before this about my meltdowns, or, perhaps they did and they're going to do everything the opposite of how we did it).

The truth is, Pearyn is an AWESOME kiddo. She has handled becoming the big sister far better than we ever imagined she could. Part of this I credit to my husband (he always, always tries to put her first when he comes home from work), part of it I credit to her school. Our daughter goes to school three half days a week and despite the bad rep daycare and all those programs can get, it's been absolutely life-saving for her AND us.

When Braeburn came into the picture, we had to focus our efforts on him, a lot of times before her needs were met. It's not that we favor him, it's simply that he's a newborn and requires the most emergency attention. (That and he cries way, way louder). Pearyn's school was the one place she could go that had and has nothing to do with her brother. She has her own friends, her teachers are worried about HER needs (as opposed to her baby brother) and she gets to be the queen bee (even if there are four other queen bees in her class).

She adores it.

She loves packing her lunches with me the night before, where she picks out if she wants peanut butter sushi, green beanies (edamame) or a star-shaped hummus sandwich. She gets excited to see if she'll have grapes or strawberries and she knows that her (ridiculously expensive) almond milk boxes are reserved especially for school time.

School has been a saving grace. She's excited to talk about what songs they learned, what crafts they completed and who had to stand in the corner. It's 10 hours a week that she gets to be just Pearyn (not the daughter of Chubby Vegan Mom and Dad, not Braeburn's big sister, not the older sibling), JUST Pearyn.

And it wouldn't be possible to do any of this without our family. From my parents that live barely a mile away to my cousins, aunts and friends (that have become family), we have had so much support in the last three weeks that I'm not sure we would have survived without it.

Whether they dropped off food, came to visit (and relieve me of baby duty), helped do dishes, took our daughter to school (when I was unable to drive) or simply listened to me cry on the phone about what a terrible mother I was (and reassured me I wasn't), we're so utterly blessed to have the people in our lives that are. (And that includes all you internet strangers out there that have shared your own horror stories, words of kindness or any other pearls of wisdom that made us feel not so alone).

It's been hectic, but we're getting there. And we're going to keep getting there, with the help of PB fish-shaped sandwiches, school, family, friends and internet strangers.

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1.18.2013

2013: The year we finally do the crap we say we will


Don't worry, I'm not judging you. I'm utterly terrible about keeping my resolutions too.

Maybe I get too ahead of myself. Maybe the things I resolute to change really aren't all that important to me. Maybe I'm not focusing on the right things in my life, I don't know. What I do know is that I'm terrible at seeing these things through.

Here's the thing, though; starting 2013 off with a fresh, new baby and as a family of four has left my husband and I WANTING to make a few changes to our lives. We don't want to make resolutions just to make them, we genuinely want to set goals and achieve them. Be forewarned: having children makes you want to better yourself (that or drink an entire bottle of Vodka, you decide).

So this year my husband and I have decided to do our resolutions a little differently. We're going to set a personal, family and work goal. That way we won't overburden ourselves while trying to lose weight AND quit drinking entire bottles of Vodka at the same time (just kidding on that drinking part, who has time to drink when you don't sleep and are getting screamed at by the mini boss-man).

For my personal goal, I want to finally do the things I set out to do with this blog. It's not meant to just be an outlet for me (although it is a fabulous one), I want it to be a place to connect with other vegan parents, I want to tantalize you all with amazing recipes, reel you in with witty vlogs (who am I kidding, I just want to post a vlog where I don't have baby poop and toothpaste in my hair) and figure out this thing we call vegan parenting. I want to take my blog a little more seriously.

Here's where you can help! Some super awesome reader nominated my blog for one of those Circle of Mom Top 25 Vegan & Vegetarian Blog Lists. Someone did it last year as well, but I didn't really think much of it. While there's no stupendous prize at the end of the contest, it would be nice to know that I've got readers out there who want to hear more of what I have to say. All you have to do is click the link I've provided or the badge in the top right column that says "Vote for me." It'll take you to the webpage and you'll click the little thumbs up "vote" under Chubby Vegan Mom. You can vote once a day through February 7. In return you'll receive my undying love. (I swear).

For my family goal, I've decided to relax more and enjoy the small things. I realize this might seem like a silly goal to some of you. Who has to "try" to relax? Even before I was the mother of two incredibly precious (and precocious) I had a hard time "going with the flow." I'm one of those control freaks, basically when it comes to anything - from money to day-to-day plans.

Becoming a second-time mother has taught me one incredibly invaluable lesson. There is no such thing as control or plans when it comes to raising a toddler and a newborn. So instead of pulling my hair out because I can't micromanage my micropeople, I'm going to learn to embrace the chaos and enjoy the hell out of the small things. Like Pearyn reaching for my hand when she's falling asleep or Braeburn's goofy, toothless, gassy grin that I can't seem to get on camera. Those are the things that make my heart melt, so I'm going to let them melt it a little bit longer than normal.

And as for my work goal, it's been primarily the same thing for the last four or five months. I want to get promoted. I adore what I'm doing right now, but I'm totally ready for more responsibility and to essentially step up what I already do. I get to work with such an amazing team, I want to figure out how to be more of an asset to them.

Perhaps my goals are still too lofty; perhaps I'll achieve them in a matter of months, I don't know.

I do know this: I'm getting too damn old to keep saying I'm going to do things and change things. The last thing I want is to wake up one day and realize how much time I've wasted (especially when I wasted so much time trying to plan and control said wasted time).

Did you make a resolution this year?

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This Chubby Vegan Mom's Chubby Vegan Battle
Breastfeeding: Where dreams go to die

1.17.2013

Pee, chocolate poop and the things we do to remain sane

My baby boy will be three weeks old tomorrow. Where is the time going? (It's amazing how absolutely slow time feels like it's moving when it's midnight and you're listening to a screaming child, but how fast it zooms by when you're taking photos and picking out outfits).

Did I mention that our baby boy has been filling out (length and weight-wise) three month clothing already? I mean the idea of anything newborn was laughable when he came out at 10lbs, but I didn't expect him to be pushing out of three months before hitting one month.

While it may seem like we've been all colic and no fun over here, there have been some really fabulous moments along the way. I figured between the recipes and woe-is-me posts I should include some of the glimpses of family of four life we've seen that doesn't scare the crap out of us.

Actually, it does kind of scare me, but in a really funny, what am I going to do with these kids kind of way?

For starters, let me paint a fabulous picture for you. It was our second night home and we were getting ready to turn in for the night. Pearyn was wedged between my husband and I (we invited her into our bed in an attempt to make her feel not-so-alone or alienated during the baby's transition) and had a tiny bowl of vegan chocolate chips with her. (No, not my idea, that was a brilliant one Chubby Vegan Dad came up with). Just before cashing out, I took the empty bowl and set it on the side table, placing Braeburn in his rock-and-play and crashing into bed myself.

Let's fast forward a few hours later, it's the middle of the night and Braeburn wakes me up ever-so-gently (if by gentle I mean I almost jump out of bed he's shrieking so loudly) to let me know he's hungry. As I prop him up on the boppy pillow to feed him, I realize my hand has discovered something really smooshy, really brown and kind of warm. Keep in mind it's like 2 a.m. and I'm slightly sleep deprived (not to mention I just had a baby, that gets me a few delirious points).

How on earth could he have pooped through his onesie and on the outside of his blanket? How is his poop brown, it should be seedy and yellow. How did he poop this much, my milk hasn't even come in.

And then Pearyn rolls over and I see it all over her back, the sheets and my pillow.

How did the poop get all over everything? He had laid in the bed for .01 seconds while I situated the boppy. I sat there the whole time, shouldn't I have seen him have this giant blowout poo?

And then I realized something else about the mystery poop. It smelled alarmingly like chocolate.

The best part about all of this? By this time I had undressed him and during my frantic search to uncover how the mystery poo had gotten everywhere, I was getting peed on. That's right. I forgot that little boys had the ability to pee everywhere and ended up not only having to change him, but myself, the sheets and spray down the headboard.

I wish I could tell you that was the last time I got peed on, but unfortunately it just seemed to be the beginning of it.

I also wish I could tell you that I've since figured out how to change him without getting peed on, but alas, I'm not that skilled. Lucky for me, however, he seems to be playing nice and hasn't peed on me in a few days.

And to keep our sanity, my husband, daughter and I have spent the last three nights watching the movie Land of the Lost. Yes, it's the atrocious movie with Danny McBride and Will Ferrell that absolutely bombed. But guess what? It's our key to remaining sane. The movie is so over-the-top and cheesy that it's the perfect thing to watch when you haven't slept more than four hours, you've got a crying baby and frankly, you're ready to pull your hair out.

We watched it probably 79 times in the first month with our daughter, while she suffered through her bout of colic and we ate take out Chinese food and tried not to lose our minds. IT was our saving grace.

Not only do I recommend it to all the sleep-deprived parents out there, it's actually one of the first things we bought for our best friends when welcoming them to parenthood.

"Well what do you know? This is one of those days when pouring dinosaur piss on your head is a bad idea!"

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1.16.2013

Vegan key lime cheesecake bars ... hold the tofu!

My husband has pretty much been essential to my survival over the last two weeks (actually, over the last six years, but who's counting?)

So yesterday when I managed to get our rambunctious toddler and colicky newborn to sleep at the same time, I jumped at my chance to get in the kitchen and make something other than dinner (although I did that later too).

My husband's favorite things in this whole wide world are spicy foods (not to be mixed up with the time I made cupcakes that were way.too.spicy for even him), lime and cheesecake (of the vegan variety of course).

I'm a pretty big fan of cheesecake as well, however, most of the vegan versions I've found require tofu and while I can get past it, I'd rather not have to. (I don't mind tofu, but when it comes to something as delicate as cream cheese flavored items I'd prefer to not mix the two).

This time I decided to try a homemade lime curd in place of the tofu, basically because it's got a gooey texture like eggs and I wanted to flavor it lime anyway.

The results were outstanding. It still tastes like the cheesecake you used to remember and the texture is a little bit lighter, but still familiar. I apologize in advance for the crapola, in-the-pan close up photo, we've been using recycled paper plates for the last two weeks to lessen the dish load while we adjust to life with two. So this is the best I have to offer right now!



Key lime (hold the tofu) cheesecake bars
(makes 12 servings)
Ingredients:
Curd:
1 cup lime juice (you're looking at about 7-10 limes, you can use extract, but it won't be as delicious)
1 cup sugar
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup butter (we used Earth Balance)
3 TB corn starch dissolved in 3 TB cold water

Crust:
2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 stick butter
2 tsp cinnamon

Cheesecake:
2 8oz containers of vegan cream cheese, I used Trader Joes but you can make your own!)
1 cup white sugar
1/2-3/4 cup lime curd
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Curd: Cook the lime juice and butter in a saucepan and cook on medium heat. Add sugar until dissolved and bring to a boil. Stir in cornstarch/water mixture. Turn down to a simmer and whisk until the consistency begins to thicken (usually around 10-15 minutes). The texture will be pudding-like. Transfer mixture into heat-proof dish and place in the fridge to cool.

Crust: Take two cups of graham cracker crumbs and mix in sugar and flour. Add melted butter and stir until mixture is crumbly but smashes together. Scoop mixture into a greased 9X9 square pan and smoosh it down to form the crust. Set aside.

Cheesecake: Preheat the oven to 325. Soften cream cheese (I microwaved it for about 20 seconds) and then scoop into a medium bowl. Add lime curd (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup depending on how limey you want it) and vanilla extract. Stir in sugar and flour and whip with a hand mixer until smooth. Pour into your square pan (with the crust smooshed in) and bake for 45 minutes. Allow it to cool on the stove and then transfer to the fridge for at least one hour.

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1.14.2013

Dear pediatrician, 'colic' isn't going to cut it anymore

Dear every pediatrician,

Remember me? I'm the mother of the two week old you saw last week. It was the second time you'd seen us in three days, mainly because our newborn is battling a bout of RSV and then developed thrush because of a weakened immune system (yay winter babies!).

While I was there, I may or may not have broken down into tears when you asked me how I was doing. On top of trying to heal my own body (pushing a 10lb baby out is NOT the easiest thing on your lady parts) and gain control over all these damn postpartum emotions, I've also been busy trying to nourish my newborn, comfort him and keep him alive; all while he has a bad cold and white crap coating his mouth.

Did I mention that he screams? Like, a lot? Oh, I actually didn't have to mention that, because you witnessed it firsthand as you clutched my baby like he was your own, trying numerous positions to make not only him more comfortable, but this frazzled momma, your office and nurse staff and probably yourself as well.

Unfortunately it didn't work out too well. You had to pass him back to me after 10 minutes of trying, only for him to nuzzle into the crook of my neck and sleep peacefully for three minutes and then repeat the entire ordeal all over again. (Patient of the year award?)

You inform me it's probably colic. Before I bother to ask what that is (probably because I don't have to,  as you remembered, our daughter was extremely fussy as well), you tell me how it's got a really, really broad diagnosis and it basically constitutes a really, really crabby baby with digestive issues.

Let me just stop you right here. I appreciate you breaking it down for me, but on top of being the mother of a baby who already suffered from this, I was an English major. I took more than my fair share of history of the English language and Latin classes, I'm well aware that the early definitions and meanings of the word colic trace back to things like "suffering of the colon" and "affecting the colon." That, combined with the fact that I live in 2013 and Google every last ailment afflicting my child, basically means I have a pretty firm grasp of what colic is.

And do you know what this mother of a SECOND colicky baby thinks about this diagnosis? I think it's a load of garbage.

I know it's not your fault my baby has colic.

However, what is your fault, as my son's doctor, as any baby's doctor, is that while you certainly didn't cause my child's condition, you also can't tell me who or what did. There are thousands upon thousands of parents out there dealing with colicky children, this isn't something new, so why is it that you're still able to dole out this "we don't know what causes this, hell, we don't even really know what it is for sure or what organs it affects, but it's colic" bullshit diagnosis?

Don't you think maybe it's time for one of you pediatricians out there to figure it out? Isn't it YOUR life's work to help treat and heal growing babies? Trust me, I understand my child isn't going to die from having colic, but please try to understand yourself that as a mother of a child with colic, sometimes I feel like I might. After nights filled with bloodcurdling shrieks, I'm tempted to leave my baby on your doorstep for a few days and then I'll let you get back to me about how serious or not my colicky child is.

I spend my 40 hours a week generating, editing and managing content on a website. It's not nearly as glamorous or life-impacting as your work might be, but you can bet for damn sure when I come across an article about something I don't necessarily know a lot about, I don't get to just NOT edit it. You know what I have to do? I have to do some digging, some research, I have to figure out what the heck this article is talking about and then I have to edit it properly to that.

And the worst part of it all?

Not only do you have no idea what causes colic (or really, what it actually is other than a fussy baby and some tummy cramps), you also don't have the slightest idea in hell how to treat it. I sincerely appreciate the suggestions of gas drops and gripe water, but I think you and I both know that those aren't much more than glorified sugar tonics. That, or both of my children have been SO colicky that those "treatments" didn't even put a tiny dent in their digestive issues.

I'm not unreasonable though. I will give you credit for your suggestion of infant probiotic drops or a pediatric chiropractor While we're still trying to locate these "treatments" I appreciate you offering something on the table that hasn't been said before. I appreciate the sentiment, the thought.

I may sound like I'm nagging you, perhaps like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed (when in reality that's impossible because my husband and I never MADE it to bed).

Please don't take this letter the wrong way. I am genuinely grateful for the sympathy you've shown me through this ordeal, for the fact that you didn't look at me like I was nuts when I broke down in your office.

On a personal level, I think you're wonderful and I know your job is hard.

But coming from the standpoint of a parent with a colicky child, I'd love it if you, your office partners or one of your doctor friends would get off their ass already and figure out what the hell colic is.

Hugs and kisses,

Every parent of every colicky child out there.

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1.13.2013

Heat up your night ... with vegan jalapeno popper dip!

I promise that despite having a slightly fussy baby, we're actually all alive and pretty well in the Chubby Vegan household. Some of my posts might indicate otherwise, but that's really just because I need somewhere to vent. I imagine my close girlfriends, husband and mother are tired of hearing from me, so I figure I'll pollute the blogosphere with ramblings of a tired mother and colicky baby. (Lucky you guys!)

So as a break from my cranky pants whining, I decided to delight you all with a ridiculously delicious recipe inspired by my cousin - Micki. And when I say inspired, I mean she told me about it at our last Saturday coffee and I just had to figure out a way to veganize it. 

Jalapeno popper dip. 

Yes, it's as delicious and amazing as it sounds. 

I'm not really one for spicy foods, but Chubby Vegan Dad absolutely adores it, and since he's had to deal with his fair share of me being a hormonal nightmare, I decided to trick him into remaining in love with me through means of his stomach. 

In case you're wondering, it totally worked.

I served this with pita chips because they're easy to make and customize to your desired bakedness, but really any grain will work here, especially some crunch sliced baguette breads! This would be absolutely perfect for a football party or just to spice up your weekend routine!


Jala(you still love me)peno Popper Dip
(Serves 4-6)
Ingredients:
2 8-ounce tubs of vegan cream cheese (or if you're feeling fancy, make your own!)
1 package of Daiya havarti-style wedge cheese (omg so good)
1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (we used Trader Joe's brand because it melts so perfectly for a dip)
1/2 tub vegan sour cream (we used Tofutti)
2-3 jalapeno's diced up (or you can be lazy and use a four-ounce can or two, I won't judge you)
1 small onion diced up
Panko breadcrumbs for topping

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Soften the cream cheese in the microwave until it's smooth and easy to stir. In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream and half your shredded mozz cheese. Take your havarti wedge and cut it up into small cubes, mix this into your dip. Dice up your jalapeno peppers (or add the canned pickle variety), adding or taking away depending on how much heat you like, onions and add them to your mixture. Scoop into a small casserole dish (I used an 8X8) and top with the rest of your shredded cheese and enough panko breadcrumbs to make an even coating on top. 

Bake for 30 minutes (the mixture will be all bubbly and start to brown on the outside) and broil on high for an additional two-three minutes if your breadcrumbs haven't browned yet. 

If you want this dip to be pretty, let it sit for at least an hour. If you don't care and you just want to eat it, dig in! This is even better the next day after it's had time to sit, soak in the flavors and reset! 

You're welcome. :)

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1.10.2013

I've got the punch-yourself-in-the-face baby blues

Now that I'm two weeks postpartum (and the reality of life with two children has set in), people are starting to treat me a bit like a delicate flower. Kind of like one with a really broken, thin, tiny stem and wilted petals, ready to fall off at any moment.

And when I say "people" I mean basically any human being I come into contact with.

Which, in their defense, is kind of right on par.

It could be because I called my mom crying the other day.

Or maybe it's because I was teary-eyed while at Braeburn's doctor for the second time this week, explaining that we can rarely get him to stop wailing, that it feels like we're going through the stomach issues with his sister all over again.

Maybe it's because he wouldn't stop screaming and I was asked by three different nurses and a couple in the elevator how I dealt with said screaming.

Perhaps it's because I sent a text to one of my closest friends telling her that I should stop having babies because mine seem to come out in pain, screaming all the time and so I should just birth toddlers. Whining to her because despite being older, wiser and already a parent of one, I still couldn't prepare myself for another child with stomach issues, another child that is largely inconsolable, another child that I feel completely helpless to.

It could be because I called my best friend in the entire world (the one without any children) and left a message bawling my eyes out about how hard this was and how terrible of a mother I was.

Or the fact when my other friend texted me asking if I was surviving life with two I didn't even read the text message for 20 hours, probably because I was crying.

Not to mention the time my Braeburn burped up breastmilk all over our bedroom comforter and my husband replied with "well, that's why we got this bedspread anyway, it hides everything." Yup, I cried then too. Mainly because I was covered in burp juice, my hair was a wreck and I just wanted one thing in our house to not smell like yucky baby fluid.

I'm not in a full-blown depression, I have lots of moments of happiness still. I'm just feeling really, really stuck. I'm feeling like we're starting all over again and I feel guilty because if I let my mind really wander, I start to contemplate how another child was ever a good idea in the first place. Not because Braeburn isn't amazing (he's such a handsome, darling little man), but because I don't know if I'm strong enough, if I'm good enough.

I know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I know that his digestive system will mature and he will get through this bout of gas, tummy cramps or whatever else is making him a big ole cranky pants.

I suppose the hardest part is simply not knowing how much longer we have until we reach the end of the tunnel, until we're in the sunshine and until we're a happy family of four again.

But when it comes to the punch-yourself-in-the-face baby blues, (complete with babies, immature digestive systems, breastmilk and farts) the thing you have to remember is that there will be an end. He will get older, we will get used to this and until then, we just have to grin and bear it; and keep our eyes on the light at all times, whether it's three weeks away or three months away.

1.07.2013

Breastfeeding: Where dreams go to die

I probably sound like I'm being dramatic.

I probably am.

Breastfeeding is really, really hard - in case you missed that memo, which I did, each time I gave birth apparently.

All joking aside, my battle with breastfeeding has been a bitter rivalry over the years. It's something I avoid talking about with people at all cost because I feel like an absolute failure when it comes to being able to physically provide nourishment for my children.

Pearyn at one month old
Part of it is because I'm surrounded by these amazing women who seem to have very few struggles when it comes to breastfeeding. Their children latch with ease, digest like pros and the moms lactate enough to feed not only their child, but mine, yours and maybe a few other people's kids as well.

The other part is because I'm a perfectionist. I'm hard on myself, sometimes when there's not even a need to be. So when I made my mind up about breast being best (for my kids anyway) I didn't bother to think about the ups and downs we might come across on the way.

I didn't plan for what might happen if breastfeeding DIDN'T work out. (Thankfully, other moms do, which is why milk banks have become a much more viable option than simply switching to formula).

Disclaimer: It's true. There are very few reasons why breastfeeding doesn't truly work out (speaking in physical terms). Many women who blame it on a low milk supply or the child not latching right probably didn't investigate every last avenue they could to make breastfeeding a success. To some of the die-hard breastfeeding moms and lactation consultants out there it means these moms didn't try hard enough, didn't want to put forth the effort to make breastfeeding work.

To these people, I say "big whoopie."

Sometimes, it's not a positive experience. And while motherhood certainly isn't sunshine and rainbows all the time, feeding your baby shouldn't be a constant battle to not fall into a depression. Sometimes, it's 3 a.m. and you're nursing your monster baby for the third cluster feeding in a row, your nipples aren't just sore, but cracked and bleeding and your back aches from cradling a child and holding them to your breast (not to mention holding up said breasts).

Sometimes, breastfeeding just doesn't work.

Sometimes, it's the difference between baby blues and full-blown momma trauma.

That doesn't make them any less human, any less a mother or any less a woman.

In my eyes, it makes them rational.

To be honest, if it weren't for our vegan lifestyle, I can't say I would be as hard on myself about breastfeeding as I am. Because breastfeeding is the one real option for vegan moms it can make it more of a chore, more ominous than just an "option" for other mothers. (And don't even start arguing with me about humans being mammals and breastmilk not being vegan. Human breastmilk is designed for human babies like cows milk is designed for calves. Period. End story).

After months of watching our daughter struggle to poop, struggle to put on more weight, struggle to be even remotely happy, we learned she had an issue digesting the lactose my body produced. I put her through months of uncomfortable eating and feedings because I allowed myself to be so convinced "breast was best" that it overshadowed my motherly instincts.

It was one of the hardest things I occurred in early motherhood; knowing not only that I had been making my daughter sick, but that I continued to do so despite a nagging sensation in my gut that something wasn't right. Eventually we found a schedule and routine that worked for us, one that she flourished on. But it took us a longer time to get there because I refused to compromise my thoughts on what was supposed to be the best thing for our daughter.

It frustrates the hell out of me. How can something that is touted as being so natural, so wonderful, so good for baby and such a fabulous bonding session often leave me ready to pull my hair out? What are we supposed to bond over? Our desire to BOTH scream because he has to fart and I'm just a walking disaster? Not the kind of bonding I'm looking for this early on.

Does anyone else find it ironic that throughout all this evolution garbage we've basically grown out of the need for our appendix, wisdom teeth and extra ear muscles, but in 2013 we STILL can't give birth to a baby that can digest freaking milk from it's mom?

Face palm, face palm, face palm.

Braeburn is a nursing champ. His latch is strong and fast, like my friend Sharon said "he took to the boob like a man." He gains weight, he snuffed jaundice concerns in two days and in just a week is almost back to his birth weight (quite the accomplishment for a baby of his hefty size).

But he screams. He rives in pain some nights, wailing as he passes gas.

I'm assured that this is normal. That his system needs time to adjust and we shouldn't start panicking just yet. But I can't stop the worry. I can't stop the feeling that it's my fault he's in pain. I can't help but start to feel as lost and as helpless as I did when first going through this with Pearyn.

We're going to wait it out.

For now.

And until the day his system "matures," I'm going to be gritting my teeth along with my little guy. And in the event that day doesn't come and we have to explore other avenues, I'm not going to beat myself up this time. Instead, I'm going to recognize that I'm being the best mother I can, even if that means my breast isn't best.

1.04.2013

Zombies, feminists and breastmilk

Lack of sleep does something funny to a person.

It makes you a little silly, a lot grumpy and you basically start seeing connections and overlaps in places where there shouldn't be any.

Take for example my recent rant to my husband involving one of my favorite Virginia Woolf essays - A Room of One's Own. In the event you're not familiar with it, this was a lengthy essay Woolf wrote which not only commented on the bias and completely immoral education and opportunity gaps between men and women in her time, but ultimately painted a picture that perhaps women weren't simply equal to men, but that there were things we could do even better than men, simply because of our womanhood. She was a feminist without the pushiness of Gertrude Stein and I ate up any and every thing she wrote.

Fast forward to my current life, a mother of two children, a toddler who can run on little to no sleep and a one-week-old son that can't keep his mouth off of my boob while in a 10ft radius of me.

And let's not forget a husband that essentially sounds like a train or tractor while sleeping at night. I'm serious. His snoring has become so utterly terrible lately that I envision myself sticking at least 15 breathe-right strips to his face a night (even if they don't provide relief they will make me laugh).

If I'm not nudging my husband and pleading with him to roll over on his side (which, in his defense, I know he's not doing this on purpose, but in my defense, it doesn't make it any less distracting or rage-inducing), I've got a little fish-faced baby boy glued to my nipples every two hours or so.

During one of my late night meltdowns bonding sessions, I found myself thinking that maybe, just maybe, Virginia Woolf wasn't being abstract and artistic when penning her essay, but perhaps she simply wanted a room of her own - literally.

I mean it obviously wouldn't make for a very lengthy or meaningful essay, but I have a feeling if Woolf would have spent one minute in my bedroom this last week she'd feel pretty compelled to write A Room of One's Own. 

Feminist work or ramblings of a breastfeeding, sleep-deprived mother and wife of a human tractor? You be the judge.

And while we're talking about breastfeeding, it only seems natural to touch base on the topic of zombies. I'm not going to lie, part of me is enjoying every second of my experience with Braeburn because I had a drastically different one with Pearyn. My little girl had more than a few issues when it came to breastfeeding, from latching to pooping.

So the fact that it's going seemingly well with our son is super exciting to me. I can't help but feel like we're raising a little member of the undead. Only instead of wanting to eat my brains, he's constantly going after my boobs. I can barely hold the little big guy without him trying to desperately suck off some random piece of my body.

But all and all, it's magical. It's frustrating and confusing and it doesn't really allow for much sleep, rest or me time, but I can't help wondering what we did before we became a family of four.

Of course, I've had my husband home with me for an entire week now, it might be worth asking me how I feel about it all next week, once he's gone back to work.

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1.03.2013

Learning to love again

It's hard to believe that a week ago today I was still just the mother of one rambunctious little girl.

In the matter of one evening our lives went from a well-oiled family of three to a chaotic, scrambled family of four.

And despite the madness, it's absolutely beautiful.

My friends and family have slowly started reaching out, being careful to give me some space as I try to find my way through the murky territory of parenting more than one child. Slowly, but surely, they've been asking more questions, "how is it going," "how am I feeling," "how is Pearyn reacting to her brother," "do I want to pull my hair out yet?"

And I haven't been ignoring the questions, so much as I haven't been answering them really. To be honest, I'm not quite sure how it's going just yet.

Don't get me wrong. I'll be the first admit now that Braeburn is here, I don't have any idea how we ever lived as a family of less than four.

All those doubts I felt about loving two, loving my second equal to my first and how our decision to welcome one more into the family was essentially the death of our family as three, vanished as soon as they plopped the giant veggie baby up on my chest.

In fact, I left the hospital trying to figure out how to hide from Pearyn exactly how much I loved this new little boy. It isn't any more or any less than I love her, of course, but it isn't even remotely the same. I love Pearyn in a way a parent loves their first; almost bittersweet.

She was the first real experience I had of love at first sight and was unfortunately the battleground of Chubby Vegan Dad and I learning exactly how to be parents together for the first time. Her big heart, her constant expression of how much she loves us, her fear of disappointing us and her need to captivate our attention at all times are the scars she wears as an only child for nearly three years. Not only did we learn to become parents with her, she MADE us parents.

She bears the brunt of our exhaustion and our frustration in not knowing how to tread the waters of parenthood, but also the love and attention of two adults who fell utterly head over heels in love with this tiny little girl.

Regardless of how many come after her, she will always, always be our first child.

Of course, that doesn't make our love for Braeburn any less meaningful. If anything, being the first boy, the first "next" child, provides him with his own set of instructions on how to be loved. We love him more easily, because we've been there and done that before. We know that newborns cry. We know that newborns poop. We know that sometimes things don't work out the way we want them to, whether it's their inability to latch on when trying to breastfeed or their inability to fart without screaming bloody murder.

As parents of one going into this birth, there was an ease about his arrival. We knew what to expect. We didn't pack as many bags for the hospital, we didn't panic when we went into labor at 2 a.m. and overall, we knew that while we had no way of knowing what was headed for us baby wise, we had walked this road before and would make it out regardless.

Our daughter will always be our first first.

Our son will always be our first second.

But they'll always be each other's first.