Why cloth diapering doesn’t disgust the hell out of me ~ Chubby Vegan Mom

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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When you cant solve life’s problems, stuff a mushroom ~ Chubby Vegan Mom

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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Witch doctors, yeast and back-bending magic ~ Chubby Vegan Mom

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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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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How I survived my first night alone (and other nightmares) ~ Chubby Vegan Mom

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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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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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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