Monday, October 31, 2011

C is for Candy (sorry Cookie Monster)

Happy Halloween!

While I'm not keen on taking my 2 year old trick-or-treating, I do enjoy passing out candy to other little kids for their parents to deal with at 10pm while they still run in circles from a sugar high...  But I digress.  My kid eats candy on occasion, and specifically will eat candy tonight.  She also eats enough fruit leather to constitute candy- that stuff is SUGAR.  Again, I digress.

Last month we went to an event held here in Anchorage called Trick or Treat in the Heat.  It's for Alaska kids to get a chance to go trick or treating before it snows (cue snow yesterday morning- bummer).  They can wear their costumes without the snow suits, and it's fun.  Basically an entire subdivision pretends it's Halloween.  They decorate their houses, pass out candy, and there's music and fun.  You buy tickets ahead of time and the proceeds all go to children's charities, and it's done in honor of a boy who lived on the street  years ago.  I can't go into more detail without sobbing, so here's the link if you want to learn more:

Anyway, when we went to this event, we needed to know which candies were vegan friendly, and which are not.  I found two handy lists from PeTA kids and Veg News.  I just kept both lists pulled up on my phone, and we would help our daughter pick the vegan option if there was one.  Otherwise, she had one of those plastic pumpkin buckets, and since she's a little young to discuss not having certain candies, we would steal her chocolates while she wasn't looking and trade them with her friends for hard candies and taffys.  It worked suprisingly well, and I'm impressed with my husband's stealth.  If we ever fall on hard times, he may have a future as a pick pocket.

Since we founds these lists, I've been happily enjoying chick-o-sticks like crazy.  If you haven't had them, they are like a Butterfinger without the chocolate.  They would be easy to dip in chocolate for your own vegan Bart Simpson experience.  I've also recently discovered that my local health food store is carrying Go Max Go candy bars, and that has changed my waistline for the worse.  I won't lie.  We were also lucky to find a combo pack of Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids for passing out to the little goblins that come to our door.

From PeTA Kids :
Airheads taffy
Brach's Cinnamon Hard Candy
Brach's Root Beer Barrels
Brach's Star Brites
Chocolove Dark Chocolate bar
Chocolove Cherries and Almonds Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Crystallized Ginger Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Orange Peel Dark Chocolate Bar
Chocolove Raspberry Dark Chocolate bar
Cry Babies
Hubba Bubba bubblegum
Jolly Ranchers (lollipops and hard candy)
Laffy Taffy (some varieties)
Mary Janes (regular and peanut butter kisses) 
Mike and Ike
Now and Later
Panda Licorice
Smarties (U.S. Brand)
Sour Patch Kids
Super Bubble
Swedish Fish
Sweet Tarts

From VegNews:

  • Airheads Taffy (website)
  • Allison's Gourmet vegan caramels (website)
  • Annie's Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks (website)
  • Azure Chocolat Beauty Bark (website)
  • Biona Organic Wine Gums (link)
  • BoomChocoBoom! Ricemilk Bar (website)
  • Brachs Fruit Slices (website)
  • Charms Blow Pops (website)
  • Charms Pumpkin Flat Pops (website)
  • Chick-o-Sticks (website)
  • Chuao Chocolatier Spicy Maya (website)
  • Clif Kid Organic Twisted Fruit (website)
  • Crispy Cat Candy Bars (website)
  • Crows (website)
  • Cracker Jack (website)
  • Cry Baby Candy (website)
  • Diivies Super Stars (website)
  • Dots (website)
  • Dum-Dums (website)
  • Endangered Species dark chocolate (website)
  • Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Halloween Bug Bites (website)
  • Ginger People Ginger Chews (website)
  • Go Max Go candy bars (website)
  • Goody Good Stuff Sours (website)
  • Hot Tamales (website)
  • The Humphrey Company Original Popcorn Balls (website)
  • Jolly Ranchers hard candy (website)
  • Let's Do Organic Gummy Bears (website)
  • Mamba Sour Fruit Chews (link)
  • Mary Janes, regular and peanut butter kisses (website)
  • Newman's Own Licorice Twists (website)
  • Now and Later (website)
  • NuGo Organic Chocolate Bar (website)
  • Panda Soft Licorice (website)
  • Peanut Chews, Original Dark (website)
  • Pez (website)
  • Q.Bel Double Dark Wafer Bars (website)
  • Saf-T-Pops (website)
  • Seitenbacher Gummy Candies (website)
  • Sjaak's Organic Chocolates (website)
  • Smarties (website)
  • Sour Patch Kids (original variety) (website)
  • Stockley's Cinder Toffee Candy (link)
  • Super Bubble (website)
  • Surf Sweets Fruity Bears, Gummy Swirls, Sour Worms, and Super Sour Bears (website)
  • Swedish Fish (website)
  • Sweet & Sara Marshmallow ghosts and bats (website)
  • VerMints (website)
  • Whizzers Chocolate Beans (website)
  • YummyEarth lollipops (website)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

B is for Beans: A Sweet Surprise

Beans Two Ways

Here I go again trying making the Vitamix recipe for black bean brownies.  The first time I followed the recipe and overblended my dough into something so gross and glutenous that it was inedible.  This time I only mixed my wet ingredients in the blender and then added them to the dry ingredients in a bowl.  I think they would be better with a little oil and more sugar.  Either way, I really think the Vitamix recipe just isn't great.
There are lots of black bean brownie recipes out there though, so if you have a tried and true one that works, post it in the comments.

What is great, and easy, is that I had made a huge crock pot of black beans and stored them in 2 cup servings in Ziplock bags and froze them.   This has worked so well and is so cheap!  What a great way to save money and have beans on hand.  I freeze them flat too, and that enables you to defrost quickly and easily.  On Thursday we had to take Violet to gymnastics in the evening, so I was able to throw a frozen block of beans, some water, taco seasoning, frozen corn, and frozen roasted peppers in the crock pot before we left for easy burritos when we got home.  I love my frozen beans!

From found via Pinterest

I also had leftover garbanzo beans this morning and made what my husband and I are calling "Desert Hummus," but is called "Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip."  I made this this morning for breakfast for my daughter, and she loved it.  I didn't even tell her it was supposed to be cookie dough, but as soon as she tasted it she said, "Cookie!"  I left out the chocolate chips and it was yummy breakfast.  Violet oddly wanted to pour a little milk over her bowl of it and ate it with a spoon.  She thought she was eating a treat, I thought she was getting a great amount of protein from both the garbanzos and almond butter.  Win win with beans.

So those are our beany sweets today.  Strange but true.  I think I'll dip my black bean brownies in my garbanzo dip and feel weird but healthy...  Really weird.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A is for Alphabet

Since I have a degree in English Education, and the emphasis of my degree was on how people learn language, I thought I would write about how I'm teaching Violet her letters.  I don't claim to have the best way,  but I can offer my method and reasoning.

First of all, it's been child-lead.  We have the alphabet strung up in her room in the form of cute flash cards and a giant stuffed catapillar with the alphabet on it.  Of course, we also read with her lots and have since before she was born.  We got her a foam alphabet for the bath when she was about 18 months old, and she has wooden flash cards that she has played with on and off.  The point is, her environment is "text-rich." The idea is to pique her interest in reading and writting without explicitly teaching it.

I introduced letters with what they spelled.  So A was "A for apple" and B is "B for baby."  We began this when she got her foam letters just playing in the bathtub.  She would pick up a letter and we'd tell her what it was for, or we'd ask her to find that letter.  She learned about half her letters that way, but only as what they stood for.  As we read alphabet-themed books, we'd say introduce the idea that A is for apple, but the book also has an airplane, because A is for airplane too.  This took a while to really sink in, and is still mulling around in her mind.  She asks us to write her favorite words out for her.  She'll say a word and then we write it and she loves that.

When her textual literacy increased, I noticed a marked increase in her image literacy as well.  She began pointing to airplanes in a book and saying airplane, etc.  She was "reading" the pictures, which in my mind is just as valid and important of a step.  She even has a Curious George book that combines pictures with the text to tell the story.

Once she was recognizing letters, she started trying to sing the alphabet song more.  So now we sing the alphabet fairly often, and she calls it "ABC."  As she's taken more interest in the song, we've noticed that she notices "ABC" out in the world.  We went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond yesterday and she kept saying, "ABC ABC ABC, up there!"  She was pointing to the B,B, and B sign.  She also points to the words in her books with only a few words and more pictures and specifically wants to know what they say.  Other times, we just look through and name the things we see in the pictures.  I got her a book that is like I Spy that has a key on one side of the things to look for  and then the big picture.  She can "read" that herself, and it gives her confidence.

I've always felt that the key to success in school is risk-taking, which stems from confidence.  The most important tool we can give our children is the confidence to ask questions, try new things, and explore their world.  Then it's just a matter of presenting opportunity as often as possible.

My goal at some point is to make a book in a binder or something with each letter and then for that page have pictures to reflect the words that begin with that letter.  Some day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trying to Get Blogging Again: The Alphabet

The alphabet is big in my house right now.  My two year old is trying so hard to learn the song, and she's learning her letters, and I thought it's a cute way to keep me blogging and give me topics to write on.

For 26 days (or 26 posts if I lag and can't keep up every day), I'll focus a post around the next letter in the alphabet.  If you have ideas for something you'd like me to write about on a certain day, feel free to put those ideas in the comments here (X is for???).

I'll try to post later today with the letter A.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

He's Here! Another Vegan Born

Well any concerns from family and friends (and strangers) about the health of my vegan pregnancy can vanish.  On September 23rd I gave birth to a NINE POUND two ounce little boy who is healthy as can be.

This birth was definitely different from the last.  With Violet's birth, we spent a long time in early labor and a long time in active labor.  We were probably in the tub for 6-8 hours with Violet, and I was fully dilated when I got in the tub...   It had also been over 12 hours since I had realized I was in labor when we got in the tub.  Now this may sound horrific to some, but in many ways we really enjoyed our slow labor.  Even in the final stages, Gordon and I were sleeping in between contractions and things moved slowly and easily.  This was a drawback too, though, because by the end of it I was exhausted and depleted.  I passed out the first time I went to the bathroom after giving birth to Violet, but I was so tired I honestly thought I had just fallen asleep on the toilet.

Anyway, this time was not the slow and mild process of last time.  On Thursday evening, Gordon and Violet took the dogs the lake by our house for a walk.  I stayed home to rest.  I went to the bathroom and while I had been passing bits and pieces of my mucus plug for weeks, what came out that night was the largest "chunk" yet.  I texted Gordon and said that I must love him because I opted not to save or photograph the mucus plug.  I was having semi-strong contractions here and there, but I had been for weeks.  We had had so many false starts, I tried not to let this big signal give me too much false hope that Dez would be here soon.Thursday night I felt crampy, and woke several times in discomfort.  At 3am I had to really focus on my breathing and relaxation in order to get back to sleep.  I was excited the next morning to find pink-tinged mucus when I went to the bathroom.  I told Gordon that it wasn't an exact rule, but that I had had my "bloody/birth show" and I thought I would be having the baby that day.

Unfortunately, because of the several false starts we'd had, this wasn't the first time I had said this, and we both took it with a grain of salt.

We went to Arctic Playgroundz so Violet could run off some energy, and I noticed that the surges were stronger.  I didn't try to time them at this point because I didn't think they were coming regularly, and again I didn't want to falsely get my hopes up.  A woman at the playground asked how far along I was, and I told her 40 weeks and 2 days.  She and the woman next to her looked shocked, and she exclaimed, "And they aren't inducing you?!"  As if treating my healthy pregnancy as such was cruel and unusual torture...  I just smiled and said, "Well, I think I'm having him today, so it's not really an issue."  They both looked at me like I was crazy for thinking a full-term baby was normal and for crawling around on the floor with my toddler on the day I was going to have a baby.  Oh well.  I was still smiling.

When we got home, Violet went right down for a nap and I made a big hearty lunch.  I made kobocha squash soup from scratch and tempeh BLT's with avocado.  I had a feeling it might be my last meal for a while, and I wanted to fill up.  My labor with Violet was so long that I didn't eat or drink for far too long, and I ended up passing out after labor.  I really didn't want that to happen again.  

I started timing my surges, and from around 1:30-2:30 they were between 7-4 minutes apart.  I decided the best thing to do would be to take a bath and see if they stopped.  With my false starts, changing my activity had stopped what I thougth was labor.  I got in the tub and continued to track it.  The surges continued at about 4.5 minutes apart.  I had a scheduled appointment at the birth center for 3:30, so I called at 3 and asked if I could skip it as I felt I was in labor.  My midwife called me back and said she would come by and set up, and if I felt like I needed more time, she could leave for dinner or something.  I was still trying not to get my hopes up, but that sounded like a good plan.

My midwife and her two apprentices got here around 4, and we were just getting done setting up the birth tub.  At that point I was pacing, swaying, sitting, or otherwise working through strong surges.  They were coming frequently enough that I wasn't able to help much and needed to focus on my breathing and visualization.  We put my HypnoBirthing affirmations on in the background, and that helped me focus.  My friend Natalie came to entertain Violet, and that made it so much easier.  They went in Violet's room to read, and I continued to pace as things picked up speed.  I realized then that this was the real deal, and that things were happening much quicker than Violet's birth.  I started to wonder if I was going to get a break.  I felt the urge to get in the tub, and it was finally full around 5pm.  

The tub soothed a lot of the discomfort of the surges, but they were still very strong.  I felt a lot of pressure, and this time I noticed a radiating warmth like when you hold a stretch for an extended period.  I knew my uterus was doing it's job as a strong muscle, and I knew my baby was getting closer.  Unlike Violet's birth, I really felt my uterus pushing downward and moving my baby.  About this time, Gordon finished cooking dinner for Violet and he got in the tub with me.

I used my surge breathing, a long breath in followed by a quick breath out, and low groans through each surge.  At some point, my body felt different, and I felt the need to breath OUT and DOWN.  I couldn't imagine that I could already be in the "pushing" phase, but my body was telling me to breath that baby down, and I could feel my natural expulsive reflex moving Dez down.  My groaning became an all out woman warrior scream at points.  I tried to keep my vocals low and always focused on keeping my mouth open as a reflection of my cervix and vagina.  At this point, I had a funny sensation.  I felt unbearably tired, like I just COULDN'T stay awake for another minute.  I wanted to tell my midwife that I just needed to get out of the tub and take a nap really quickly, then I could finish this later.  I knew how ridiculous that was, and I didn't say anything, but the urge was incredible at the time.   

As my vocals and surges got louder and more intense, I couldn't really respond to anyone around me.  Gordon suggested I lean over the edge of the tub, and I liked the sound of that.  I had just been thinking the same thing.  This position felt productive, and as Desmond moved down strongly, my bowls took the pressure and released.  That's what the fish net is for.  Natalie had put Violet to bed, and was standing in the hallway keeping watch.  I couldn't believe that Violet was sleeping through all the noise I was making!

I reached down and felt what was in fact the head, but I couldn't believe he was that close already.  When the midwife asked if I felt the head I said I didn't think so.  Of course, when that same head crowned just minutes later, it was obvious that it was in fact his head.  I crowned three times, the final time getting so close that the midwives seemed a bit startled that it went back in.  Gordon said, "No, it went back," and I knew he was remembering the hour (at least) that we spent with Violet's head emerging and retracting.  On the fourth surge though, it came out completely, and my yell that time was as much of shock as the sensation of stretching.  "Is his hair red?"  No, he's a brunette, but we love him just the same.  We quickly yelled to Natalie to get Violet, we wanted her there.  So Violet got in the tub with us, and after 3 minutes the final surge arrived and Desmond made his full entrance.  Gordon's hands were on him and he was put right on my chest at 7:30pm.

Violet kissed his head and patted him right away, and Gordon and I just basked in our children.  I believe I said something like, "He's here!" and I know Gordon understood how much that simple statement meant.  Violet was so excited that she started jumping in the tub and trying to swim in between petting her new brother.  After she submerged a few times, we asked Natalie to take her out of the tub, and she went right back to sleep without protest.  We bonded in the tub for probably close to an hour, and then the midwives offered to let me birth the placenta in my bed so I could lay down.  That sounded perfect, so we made the somewhat awkward trek down the hall to the bed.  Eventually, I was assisted in birthing the placenta and I felt a surge of relief and the remaining soreness and cramping I was feeling subsided.  I said that I didn't think I was torn, but was checked anyway.  There was a slight tearing not worth a single stitch.  I lost very little blood this time, and have continued to lose very little blood.  

Desmond had his first medical check-up right on our bed, and shocked us with his weight and length.  He's a big boy!  He's also "fully cooked" and just wonderfully developed.  Those extra days and weeks beyond when we thought he would come really paid off.   He's already proven to be very calm, but with a strong set of lungs when he has something to say.  He's an equinox baby and full of balance.  He not only has a good latch, but a great strong suck as well. 

We couldn't be happier with another fabulous homebirth, and the wonderful support from friends and care providers.  We are so lucky and grateful.