We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a … CONCUSSION

I should preface a few things before diving into this post.

For starters, I’m not exactly squeamish. I’ve had my fair share of bloody lips, stitches, scraped knees, massive strawberries from sliding in softball, in addition to a collection of bruises, sprained ankles, bruised tailbones and even a broken arm. 

I should also note that I am usually a pro in tough or emergency situations. My senior year of college I came back to my dorm from a late shift at work to find a freshman guy who lived on the same floor as me standing in broken glass with a super bloody hand, cut so far deep you could actually see some muscle or tendon. While he and my friend were freaking out I grabbed him a towel, got him to my car and drove him to the emergency room. I sat there and held his other hand (slightly less bloody) at 3 a.m. while they stitched him back up, all while the doctor showed me the different things that make up your hand muscles. 

And I am seriously excellent when dealing with vomit. While I don’t prefer to hang around it, I can handle it and be the galpal holding your hair back while you toss your cookies. 

You’d think all of these things would qualify me for a mother-of-the-year award when it came to scary situations involving my kids. Unfortunately, something completely different happens. 

When something less than sugar and spice and everything nice impacts my kiddos, I turn into freakazoid, leaky-eye mom. Take for example Pearyn’s salmonella outbreak of 2012. When she started Exorcist-style throwing up we had her over to an ER faster than you can say Linda Blair. And for the weeks following that incident, I don’t think I slept more than 45 minutes at a time because I had to make sure she wasn’t throwing up and she wasn’t choking on said imaginary throw up. 

So it’s safe to say I’m great in a snafu, as long as I didn’t birth you from my body. 

Case and point last week. In a stroke of timing, coincidence and luck, my college roomie was in my very own town meeting with a client. Naturally, we decided to meet up for a bite to eat and I brought my kids in tow. The meal was going smoothly, we were ordering a cupcake and signing the bill when Braeburn stood up and took a tumble from his high chair. On the way down he hit the back of his head on a table. (Before you ask he WAS strapped in his seat, however, he did apparently find a way to wiggle himself out of it). He started crying instantly and got up to try and walk to me. I picked him up and consoled him for the next five minutes, until he was finally calmed down as I placed him in his car seat. He was a bit fuzzy and tired, but it was his nap time. Besides, he was smiling, so he had to be OK, right? 

So I called his doctor and asked if I should bring him in to be safe. They told me I could monitor him for the next day and if he started to go limp, act listless or throw up to run him straight to the ER. I felt a little more at ease and started the commute back home. 

Two minutes into said car ride and my poor baby boy started vomiting everywhere. And not like, «Oh I’ve been crying a bunch and am gagging myself» vomiting, but all-out, emptying the contents of his stomach, vomiting. 

Thankfully I was less than a half a mile from an emergency room, but it didn’t make the drive much easier. I debated the entire three-minute drive over whether I should pull over and help him vomit, if he could choke on it or if I did pull over and help him vomit would his brain like implode or bleed or blow up? 

Somehow I made it with my daughter and dazed son in tow, covered in the vegan pancakes my little man had just thrown up, trying to check him into the ER. They kept asking me all these pesky things and I remember thinking «I’m the worst mom in the world» because I can’t recall his social security number all while trying to keep my daughter calm, get my son checked in and not completely fall apart myself. 

The check-in nurses were a Godsend. They were both mommas themselves and understood exactly where I was coming from. They reassured me time and time again that it wasn’t my fault, things happened and I was still a good mom to my baby boy. 

Three hours, an exam and a set of x-rays later and Braeburn was awarded his first mild concussion ever. 

He’s doing fine now, he was actually on the mend as we were checking out of the hospital, but it doesn’t ease my worried mommy mind or make me feel any better. All I keep telling my husband is that I’ll probably lose it he ever wants to play football. 

What amazed me most, however, is how freely life went on while all of this was happening. There were people going through emergencies all around me and I couldn’t begin to tell you what it was or why they were there. 

I’d like to say it was at least a valuable lesson learned by Brae, but judging by the number of times he tried to climb his lawn chair this weekend I’m starting to think he didn’t. 

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Vegan pretzel dog bites and beer cheese (we’re knee deep in baseball season)

It’s the most magical time of the year again! No, I’m not crazy and stuck in a winter wonderland, it’s baseball season folks.

Every baseball season my husband and I try to celebrate it with some of our favorite ballpark foods — veganized of course. One year we did chili cheese fries, the next chili cheese dogs, heck, we even ate peanuts out of the shell once (we’re dedicated, what can I say).

So this year it was kind of challenging trying to come up with something to top all our other favorites. Instead of focusing on just traditional ballpark fare, why not try to go a little more upscale on our first-pitch favorites. (Bet you’re wondering how many cliche baseball references I can squeeze into this one recipe, aren’t ya?)

Well, lucky for you, I’ve got plenty more under my ole’ cap, and this is actually going to be TWO recipes in ONE blog post.

I know, right?

OK, all kidding aside, if you’re a fan of America’s favorite past time, if you just like hot dogs rolled up in pretzels or hell, maybe you like eating food made of beer, I don’t know; you should really, really, really give this recipe a try. Total moment of honesty here: I’ve never made my own pretzels before, let alone shoved a hot dog in the middle of one.

But this was much easier than I ever dreamt it could be and the result was SO so SO so good. I was seriously leery of even attempting my own pretzel dough because, well, sometimes I don’t have the best luck with dough. Crazy, right? And when I started reading more about pretzel dough and how you achieve it’s pretzelness, I was seriously confused. But I promise you. Just follow these directions and you will be so happy you have these little bites a shot!

Partner them with the ever-sophisticated beer cheese dip and you’ve got yourself the perfect pair to take you out to the ball game (you can even have some Cracker Jack after because they’re accidentally vegan)!

Vegan pretzel dogs and beer cheese dip
(serves 3-4)
Pretzel dog bites ingredients:
1 cup warm water
1/2 stick of vegan butter (we use Earth Balance)
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 TBS light brown sugar
2 tsps active dry yeast (or almost the entirety of one little package)
2 tsp salt
1 package vegan hot dogs (we used the Lightlife Smart dogs, the regular ones, with 8 in a package)
Oil to lightly coat bowl
Water to boil
1/2 cup baking soda
Coarse kosher salt to top pretzel dogs

Beer cheese ingredients:
1 bottle beer (I chose Eurotrash Pilz)
3 cups shredded vegan cheese (I used cheddar Daiya shreds)
8 ounces vegan cream cheese (we used the Trader Joes variety)
1 TBS garlic, minced

In a mixing bowl, stir together warm water, melted vegan butter, brown sugar and yeast. Mix in stand mixer or with hand mixer until fully combined (a couple of minutes usually). Add salt and flour (cup by cup), either stir by hand or on low with your stand mixer. Repeat until all the flour is added. Knead the dough until it pulls away slightly from the bowl. If the dough is too sticky and damp, add 1 TBS of flour until you achieve the stretchy, doughy consistency we want.

Set your dough aside in a ball-shape and lightly oil a clean bowl. (Just a thin coating). Place your dough ball in it, cover with a damp kitchen towel and place in a war spot for 45 minutes. The dough should double in size.

Once your dough is ready, boil a medium or large pot of water on high (I think I used around 8 cups of water). Stir in the baking soda until it’s dissolved.

While you’re waiting on your water to come to a boil, cut your hot dogs into thirds. Next, tear your dough ball into four different smaller dough balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll your dough into a large rope. You’ll cut this into six different pieces. Take one piece and wrap around a vegan hot dog third. Make sure to pinch the beginning and end of the pretzel dough together on the dog. Repeat with all the dough balls until all your hot dog bites are covered.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Next, drop your hot dog bites into the boiling water (I did about four at a time) and leave them in for about 30 seconds. You’ll notice they’ve puffed up some. Take them out and place on a greased baking sheet, sprinkling with coarse salt while they’re still damp. Bake them in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they achieve the brown-doneness you like in your soft pretzel! Take out and let cool.

The beer cheese is ridiculously simple. In a medium saucepan, bring the bottle of beer to a simmer. (Note, a full bottle of beer in this recipe WILL leave a strong beer taste. If you don’t like that I suggest halving it and adding a couple tablespoons of butter to substitute.) Next, stir in the vegan cream cheese until smooth. Add in the shredded vegan cheese and mix until creamy and silky.

Share and impress all your friends or fight with your loved one over the last dog!

Regardless of what you do, this recipe is sure to be a home-run! (Hey I had to sneak one more in there!)

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