Happy Anniversary to me (plus, vegan sausage recipe)

Last week, I celebrated my 8th wedding anniversary to my wonderful husband. It’s incredible to think I’ve been married for almost a decade! It sure isn’t all sunshine and rainbows but all and all, he is my cheese to my macaroni and I couldn’t imagine my life with some other person by my side. He loves me for who I am with all my baggage and flaws and he supports me whenever I have a new idea about nutrition or parenting or anything, really. I couldn’t have been more blessed when it comes to my spouse!

Typically, we rotate taking on the responsibility of planning the annual events for our anniversary. This year was my turn. I struggled to decide what to do. I really wanted to go into the hills for a romantic getaway, either the family cabin or a bed and breakfast, but being at the end of my pregnancy I decided we probably should keep it in town and on a low budget since I have no paid time off after the baby is born and am still planning on taking 12 weeks off work.

I Googled some ideas on the internet and looked on Pinterest, but nothing in particular stood out. So day of, I came up with some ideas and here is rough idea of what our lovely 24 hours looked like.

Breakfast: My husband made some gluten-free, vegan cinnamon rolls for the family, which turned out more like doughnuts, but we really liked them.
9ish: He drove our little one to his parents for the night, while I got some groceries for the week.
10ish: Met back up with my hubby and gave him my gift, which was 6 pieces of paper. On each, I wrote out two choices he had to pick from to decide what our day would look like. Example: Going Frolfing or Geocaching
11ish: We walked downtown and he found a geocache and then he decided he’d rather wander downtown and window shop. We ended up buying a birthday present for my little one who will turn 4 soon… CRAZY how time flies!
12ish: We ate a peaceful lunch at a Mexican spot and met a friendly crow who was very interested in our food.
1ish: We played video games for a little bit and then watched a movie on our couch.
5ish: One game of Phase 10… I won by the way…
6ish: My husband started dinner for us
7ish: Ate a delicious dinner of homemade sweet potato fries and veggie burgers with a fresh garden salad
8ish: We ran over on dinner, so instead of following the plan of going to improve, we watched Nick Offerman’s Standup on Netflix… hilarious!
10ish: Went to bed
I woke up early the next morning and made some awesome vegan sausage and whipped up some pancakes for breakfast!
Around 10, my mother in law met us at a park to take some family pictures and then some play time in the park for our little one.

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It was such a great time being able to focus on my husband and me. We don’t get this often, but when we do it is cherished and very appreciated. It’s so important to make alone time with your spouse, especially when you have kids. Just having an uninterrupted conversation was nice, but we were able to reconnect again, which is so important. So here’s to the beginning of another beautiful year with my love!

 

Move, baby, move! Recipe for Mouthwatering Vegan Lassagna

When I was pregnant with my first baby, my midwife made me make sure baby’s head was down by 30 weeks. With the help of Spinning babies, she moved into position by 28 weeks. This time around little ones head was down during this same time and then, like babies do, he moved into an uncomfortable transverse position (head to my right with the butt on the left) at 33 weeks! My new midwife didn’t seem concerned but had me start the spinning babies exercises and recommended chiropractic adjustments (has success rate of 82%) to help baby move down. Lucky for me, I have an amazing chiropractor, Dr. Sheila Schielke! After a few weeks of spinning babies, YL peppermint essential oil on the top of my belly, and two adjustments baby has moved down! Not only am I excited that he is in a great position for birth, since amniotic fluid tends to decrease in production leaving less room for a big movement, but I am a lot more comfortable!!

If baby didn’t move down soon there were some other options that have great success, which I was about to do and would highly prefer over a version. A version is a procedure done in an OB clinic and a baby is moved into position outside of the belly, but has an only 58% success rate. I’ve heard they are very painful and sometimes don’t work. However, there are some more gentle ways of turning baby, like I mentioned above along with acupuncture (81% success rate), daily activities recommended by spinning babies, massage (therapeutic or maya), homeopathy, moxibustion, and hypnosis.

The great thing about these techniques, is that you can continue to do them to ensure that baby stays in the optimal position for birth, without fear of baby flipping back to breech. It’s recommended to do so to make a more comfortable birth for both you and baby. I have been keeping up with walking and will restart the forward inversion exercise and keep on top of my chiropractic adjustments.

My family went crazy for this Vegan Lasagna I made a week back. Hope you enjoy!

 

Don’t give in when it comes to your baby or your body

In my community, it is difficult to find a pediatrician that is on the same page with my parenting philosophies and beliefs, so getting pregnant again, I knew I would need to start looking for someone who would be open to the decisions that I believe are best for my family.

When my toddler was a newborn, we took her to a facility that I had heard was relatively open so we gave it a shot. We only went a few times before we decided to stop taking her there. Every time we went in the physician tried to guilt trip us into doing something we weren’t comfortable with. I don’t know about how many of you are parents, but I feel like I get enough guilt about other parenting aspects, I don’t need to hear false information from someone who obviously hasn’t done the research on both spectrums of what they preach.

My midwife, urged me to find a new pediatrician before I reached 36 weeks into my pregnancy and gave me a few recommendations. Both are out of town between 40-50 miles away, but if they are going to support me and my family as best as possible with our beliefs in mind, then I will go the distance!

I met with a doctor on Monday and right out of the gate… LOVE her! She is on board with all of the big decisions and also very caring and honest! Not only am excited that my newborn will be in safe hands, I can confidently start taking my daughter to her, as well.

Being that I work at a hospital, I know how important it is to do your own research and to not be bullied into something that you don’t feel comfortable with about your own body or those you love. It’s sooo important to be your own advocate, or one for a loved one, especially in a medical setting. Never okay something you haven’t done the research on, on both sides before making a decision. You’re the one who will have to take care of the baby if something goes wrong in either decision that you make so make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Have you ever had a hard time with a doctor and not giving you choices?

Here is a link to provide you with questions to ask a potential pediatrician for your family.

Going vegan is delicious and nutritious! With our favorite 7 amazing recipes so far

It’s been almost 3 weeks since I gave up meat again and have been really impressed with all of the amazing food my husband and I have been making. I’m super proud of his commitment and a little shocked every time I hear him say that he doesn’t miss meat. My little one is having a harder time adjusting to our faux meat meals. She loves beans, but like here mama, she is very sensitive to the texture of her foods. My mom, who is living with us, is mostly on board with going vegan, but she isn’t home for dinners most nights because of her work schedule and she gets all of our leftovers. Even she, a carnivore at heart, has been impressed with our meals as well and said it’s not difficult going vegan when we are the ones cooking. To make it easy on anyone else who might be interested in either eating less meat or going all out vegan, here are our top 6 favorite meat to vegan recipes that we have really enjoyed. I hope you do too!

From Meat to Vegan Meals:
1. Pulled BBQ Tacos

2. “Fish” Sticks

3.  7 Layer Taco Dip

4. Breakfast Skillet with “Bacon”

5. Chickpea Nuggets

6. Burgers

By far, the Pulled BBQ tacos have been the most favorite recipe in my family so far. For the BBQ “pork” the recipe calls for jackfruit. This looks and tastes just like it’s fleshy counterpart! I’ll be using jackfruit more in other recipes to come, for sure! Not only does the taste and texture match up to pulled pork, jackfruit is jam packed with vitamins and minerals, fiber, and even has some protein!

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/jackfruit.html

Combat the heat and get creative

It has been a crazy hot summer where I live. I know being 30+ weeks pregnant doesn’t help. The heater that I have growing in my belly seems to make it even more intolerable. Not to complain, but summer is usually filled with lots of lake trips and camping and hiking and is typically my favorite time of the year because of all of the outdoors I get to enjoy. Well that really hasn’t been happening since it’s been almost 90 and above days on end for weeks. (Global warming doesn’t exist though… *thick sarcasm*)

With an almost 4 year old and two parents who all get cabin fever, especially after a tantrum, we have been getting creative to challenge our little one and keep everyone sane during these hot days when we aren’t able to handle the heat. Thanks to good ol’ Pinterest, we have found some cool ideas (no pun intended… maybe) and have implemented some of our old traditions, as well.

There’s a great link here that will show you some great kid friendly ideas! Here are a list of our favorites and some that we have tried already:

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Keep Cool Ideas for the Hot Summer Days:
1. Caving: When I was little my dad took us to caves to beat the heat. We took our little one to a cave a couple of weeks ago and stuck to a short 30 minute tour, which was the perfect amount of time for her and allowed us to get out of the house for a bit.

2. Toy Store: My little G, came up with this idea last weekend. We warned her, that we wouldn’t be buying anything, but we could go peruse the toy store to keep cool in their air conditioned shop. We did end up getting a few things, which we ended up using for other ideas like…

3. Water balloons: We bought these to have some fun in the sun, but still allowing us to keep cool. They were a pretty big mess and a little too wasteful to buy again as it only lasted about 5-10 minutes for us to all pop them on each other and sometimes ourselves, but it was worth it and it inspired us to find a more eco-friendly version, which we did here, using sponges and iced water. We will place these sponges in my little ones pool with water and ice and we can reuse them as much a possible.

4. Pool time: We don’t go to the pool much, just because of the chemical exposure but we decided to purchase a life jacket for my little one during these rare outings, plus we will be going to the lake next summer or tubing and its definitely a necessary purchase for her safety. We did end up going to the pool yesterday and she wore it almost the whole time which she LOVED! She bounced around the pool and felt secure with the little jacket on and of course I was by her side the whole time. Now if we could get a pool that doesn’t use nasty chemicals in the area.

5. Indoor Fishing: This was an idea I got on Pinterest. You grab a laundry basket, a blanket, a set of tongs, and any toys that would be easy enough to grab with the tongs. We did this last week with my little one and she loved it! The laundry basket wasn’t really sturdy enough, so be careful with really little ones. I think a bigger box may work better, but it kept her busy and challenged her. Then when she got bored, she decided to give the kitty a ride with her catch.FullSizeRender

These are just a few of the ideas we have used recently to keep everyone happy in the house during our heat waves. For more ideas, I recommend checking out this website here or you can Google more ideas as well.

Every good parents worst fear

For me, one of my biggest fears is that one or both of my children will be sexually abused in some way or another. Too many children, and even people in my family and circle of friends have encountered this tragedy. It isn’t surprising when sexual abuse occurs in so many children. (see below)

MAMA Bear

Picture courtesy of Mama Bear Effect

As you can see from the image above, those numbers are alarming! What’s even scarier, is that only 90% of the abuse is actually reported! So the number of abuse may be higher!

Healthy body talk and education about this topic has been a part of my daughters life since she was born. Learning more about this with research verifies that I should have started the conversation before she was even born, though, by educating my family and friends about this topic.

No child should have to endure this scary reality and the best way to avoid them from becoming another statistic is to learn as much as possible and to teach others, as well. I highly recommend visiting the Mama Bear Effect website to increase your knowledge and then spreading this information with others. They also have really cool educational materials and bumper stickers to spread awareness.

Some of our biggest rules in our house are:

  1. We don’t keep secrets from mommy and daddy. If someone is telling you to keep something a secret you tell us right away.
  2. When ever we changed our daughters diaper we let her know what we were doing and we continue to explain when wiping her off after she goes to the bathroom
  3. We always use the correct names of private parts and voice that thos pares are only to be touched if someone is helping her wipe off or if its an emergency with a doctor
  4. We never force family hugs or kisses. We tell her it’s her body, so she has the right to choose who she wants to hug or kiss “My body, my choice”
  5. We tell her if anyone makes her feel scared, sad, or confused, to tell us right away.
  6. One that I learned, was to teach your child that instead of saying bad people hurt you, this may back fire since the majority of abusers are people these children trust and hence, don’t believe they’re bad people and that some of the abuse doesn’t hurt and it feels good when private parts are touched.

These are just some of the main things that we have started to talk with my little one. The website has so much more helpful information that I really hope you look into to help prevent more children being abused. Spread the word for the children!

https://mamabeareffect.ecwid.com/#

It’s a sad world when those who profit from others pain are winning

Last weekend, I got back from my husbands family cabin and noticed a text from one of my best friends. She was asking if I’d watched a documentary called, “What the Health.” I am all about health docs so I was happy to hear about a new one to watch that she recommended. Later that day, my husband and I sat in the TV room and watched the hour and a half long movie. A lot of the information didn’t surprise me, however, there was some new information that I found quite disturbing. Unfortunately, there are some things from this documentary that I don’t buy, like carbs and sugar have only a small impact to diabetes and weight gain and so forth. High carb diets and sugars (especially processed sugars) can be directly transformed into fat if you’re not burning it up by expending a lot of energy or if you’re eating too much of it.

First, I know that in our environment, we are exposed to toxins on a daily basis, but I didn’t realize the dangers of one that was brought up called dioxin. This toxic chemical builds up in the fat of animals from the environment they live and food they ingest. This means that anytime you eat animal protein, especially the most fatty meats/dairy/eggs/fish, you are ingesting a toxin that sticks around in your body for about 11 years. Most disturbing, is the fact that fetuses are at an even greater risk from what their mother is eating and then later when the baby is breastfed or even with formula with an alarming 77 times more exposure than what is supposedly deemed safe. I have been eating a lot of meat and eggs during this pregnancy, albeit they are organic and locally raised, which unfortunately doesn’t matter because they still contain dioxins. Research has found that animal proteins account for 90% of the exposure to this lingering toxin. Others come from paper and feminine product bleaching, smoking, manufacturing of pesticides and herbicides, burning garbage, and forest fires.

Second, I was disgusted that factory farms or conventional farming was a large contributor to the destruction to our environment by poisoning low income families and the land and animals from waste bi-products from their large farming practices. It didn’t surprise me learning this, but I still was very upset that someone could get away with this type of pollution and found it disgusting that this is happening A LOT!

Third, the fact that animal protein contributed to the main causes of death in the world (cancer, heart disease, and even more surprising- diabetes, plus more) yet, each of these nationally recognized support groups for these diseases supported, not warned, their followers to implement these foods in their diet for optimal health. Later, it was discovered that the sponsors for these groups were large companies which sell and process meat, dairy, eggs, etc. These companies were lining the pockets of these groups who are supposed to be helping people get healthier, but instead are contributing to people continuing to get more sick. What a sad and disturbing vicious cycle.

After watching the documentary, my husband and I decided to follow a vegan diet for 30 days. Originally, we were going to start this Saturday due to meal planning, but after learning of the dangers of dioxins and babies, we haven’t eaten any animal proteins since. My husband suffers from horrible and debilitating migraines and we are curious if these will go away when following this diet. Being pregnant, I freaked out a little when I learned of the toxins in utero and while breastfeeding, so I researched a little more and found that spirulina, chlorella, and chlorophyll help to detox, not only dioxins but other built up toxins in the body. Other natural remedies include lemon, Epsom salt baths, green tea, and more. I will be implementing these as well as the diet change. I have eaten a vegan diet in the past and it worked for me for a while, that is why we are going to try this for 30 days and see how we feel. If it comes down to it not working, I will eat small amounts of lean meat again from a trusted source. That is the key whenever you change your diet, to listen to your body. Everyone is different and certain things work and others don’t. I think the main thing to remember with any diet is that it focuses on whole foods, lots of vegetables, and as local, in season, chemical free as possible and to limit or eliminate junk food.

How to fight against this horrible system:
1. Stop supporting factory/conventional farmers by only buying from small, local, and trusted farms- voting with our dollar has a huge impact!!
2. Stop eating out at fast food restaurants and cook together as a family
3. Watch documentaries with your loved ones regarding food like What the Health, Forks to Knives, Vegucated, etc. and share them with others
4. Speak out to our government officials and other leaders in the community
5. Try the free 21 day Vegan kickstart (starts every 1st of the month)

Resources:
http://www.ewg.org/release/dioxin/analysis

http://www.getwellstaywellathome.com/detox.aspx?recid=127

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/

Why sugar is worse than fat

http://www.natures-balance.com/Catalog/Chlorella_Home/Chlorella_Detoxifies_Dioxin_/chlorella_detoxifies_dioxin_.html

http://theheartysoul.com/natural-detox/

Such a proud mama I am, plus, collard wrap recipe

My little one has always been the type to jump around and do tricks on the bed and couch as soon as she was able. Before we moved some furniture downstairs, our house rule was jumping on the couch is okay, as long as the couches are pushed together so she had plenty of room if she did an elaborate trick, which required a lot of space. Now that the couches are separated by a whole floor, she is no longer allowed to jump on the couch for her safety. Yet, we still let her jump on our king sized bed, which is not on a frame it’s just laying on the floor.

I don’t like inhibiting her play, so about a month ago, we decided to see if she would be interested in joining gymnastics. Not only does she love doing tricks and jumping around, I felt it would be good to get her in a group that allows her to have some scheduled interaction with other kids. I feel like this is especially important now since she only hangs out with adults, other than Mondays for her 50 minute gymnastics class.

The first day, my mom and I hauled her off to the gym and were able to view her and her other classmates through a tinted glass toddler area. This area has mats, a trampoline, bars, and more. My mom and I watched with enthusiasm as she was doing each task instructed by the teacher. She was very patient and waited her turn, while the other kids cut their turns and so on. I was beaming the whole 50 minutes, so proud of what she could do, but most of all, because she found pride in herself with each task she was able to complete or attempt. (Not trying to toot her horn, because no she isn’t a child prodigy gymnastics star, but she does really well for her age and for having no prior instruction but mostly, because she’s having fun!) Every day, she is excited to go to gymnastics and more recently, she’s been asking when she gets to go again, even if it’s right after her class. Right now, we are taking it week by week. Before, we had her in swimming lessons last summer, and she didn’t like it. I wish I would have listened to her and took her out right after she expressed her disdain, but I thought it was necessary to keep her in. Now I know, that I should trust her and know not to force anything. I learned that I need to know that at certain times in a child’s life, they will want to learn a task and if they loose interest, move on to the next thing. This will allow them to gain trust in themselves and you. And no matter how long they are engaged in an activity, they got whatever they needed to.

So for now, my little one will attend gymnastics and once she has learned what she wanted from it, we will find something else that she is interested in. This will boost her self confidence and will allow her to thrive.

Summer Meal:
Hummus Collard Wraps – I like to steam my cruciferous veggies (cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower) and wraps (collard greens, kale or Swiss chard) before I load them up. You can follow these ingredients listed in the recipe link to fill the wrap, but the possibilities are endless!

The power of oils… Plus, No sugar Paleo Chocolate chip cookies recipe

When I was younger, I got a gross wart on the top of my dominant hand thumb. It was embarrassing and I wanted it gone ASAP! My mom took me to a dermatologist and had it “frozen off.” Well it didn’t work the greatest because it came back. Again, back to the dermatologist. This time, the area blistered up the width of my thumb and at the time, I played volleyball and it ended up getting in the way and oozed and it was just a nasty happening. Finally, I heard about using non-coated aspirin to clear away warts. I wet down the aspirin, placed it on the wart and covered it with a band-aide at night and after a couple nights of doing that the pestery wart was out of my life.

I never really thought about it again until a few days ago. I have a history of eczema ever since the birth of my daughter in the winters so when I started noticing bumps on my dominant middle finger, I thought maybe it was just that. I was wrong… shortly after their appearance they started getting more obvious and I realized that I have a cluster of warts on my finger! Yuck! I have been putting Thieves and oregano essential oils on them to kill them and it seems to be working slowly. I will continue to do this through out the day for a week, which seemed to be the normal time for natural remedies to completely work. After I recognized these bumps to be warts, I decided to research them and didn’t realize that warts are actually a virus, similar to HPV. Double yuck!

Along with learning this, I found some other natural remedies to try, which I will if the essential oils don’t work. These include topical vitamin C, vinegar compress at night using a band-aide, and castor oil. I’m going to still use my Thieves oil in the mornings since it’s antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. Important to note: If you have warts on your body- DO NOT PICK them, it will allow this virus to be spread to other people. Virus’s aren’t something we want to share with others… leave the sharing for delicious food, great company, and love!

Have you ever suffered from warts? How did you treat them?

No sugar Paleo Chocolate chip cookie recipe

Another new sitter? Ehhh… (Plus, sugar-free maple fudge recipe)

I can’t believe we are facing this again… the dreaded search for a sitter! Throughout my daughters short 3 years, she has been in the care of 8 different babysitters starting at 3 months of age. The first few were people who moved away, others were friends who helped out when needed, a few were unable to continue care due to finances and there was one questionable experience in which my daughter never returned as soon as I had a bad feeling.

This is something that parents shouldn’t have to worry about… trusting that their vulnerable children will be taken well cared for when we need to work to provide for our family. It’s a shame that in 30 or so years, our country went from one working parent in the house to a now standard two working parents in the home too soon after a baby is born. In various countries around the world, not only are mothers granted paid maternity leave along with job protected leave, but the father is allowed paternity leave as well. Could you imagine how strong the child(ren)/parent bond would be if we were allowed this same necessary time with our children? There’s an article that states some specific family leave information, click here, and at the bottom, the USA is one of few countries which have no mandated paid maternity leave. Instead, we are forced to either sacrifice our time with our babies, which leads to the daycare/nanny search or struggle financially.

I decided that money would be something I sacrificed more of, although I do work, I decided to cut my hours back from 32-40 down to 24-28 hours a week. My wage could definitely help us more if I worked full-time, but I knew that being with my children more is too important. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay home full-time, but I am not regretting any time that I am away from my job. Your babies don’t stay little for very long and that is not time that I am willing to sacrifice. Thankfully, with my mom moving in, we are being more supported but we still need to find care for 6 hours a week, when she can’t be there. So here we look again…

…while I wait to find our next caregiver for my little one, I am going to try a recipe for sugar free fudge, which was inspired by my husband. I’m going to experiment with the flavor from maple to oranges and cream, which is one of his favorite flavors, to gift him for father’s day.