Wolfie: Month One

Highs:

  • Being able to put Wolfie in his crib and being able to pee without him crying. Super rewarding.
  • I am pretty sure I saw a smile late one night. Right towards the end of the month, but then again, it could of just been a very big smile twitch

Lows:

  • Crying, lots of crying. One night was exhausting, and Wolfie was just NOT tired. At one point I had to put him in the crib crying just so I could loose my shit and wail around on the ground. We pretty much looked the same- one baby and one adult crying on their backs, flailing their arms.
  • Desperation to get a baby go to sleep is real. The other night I was rocking Wolfie to sleep with one boob hanging out, soaked in breast milk, my shirt half on exposing my stomach stretch marks, and queefing each time I swayed my hips. Not a flattering picture, but he fell asleep so I don’t care too much in the end.

Let’s start with me. I am all healed up and for the most part my body feels pretty much back to normal. Except for my boobs. Breastfeeding has been a little bit of an emotional challenge. I had a hard time having to be the only source of food for the first week or two. Sadly, I am convinced that I am made for baby making. Fast delivery, very minimal tearing (for such a huge baby), and I am making lots and lots of milk. Breastfeeding wasn’t that hard to pick up, probably because I’ve been using nipple shield. Luckily I have been able to pump, and have successfully transitioned to a bottle, making it possible to share the feeding workload. But sometimes it is hard to find the time to pump, but I am sure it will get easier as Wolfie gets older.

In fact feeding was such a problem at first. It felt like I was nursing every hour, and when we went to the pediatrician Wolfie lost more than 10% of his body weight dropping from 8lb 13oz to 7lb 15oz, which is problematic. We scheduled another appointment to get reweighed. BAM- it really felt like I was nursing all the time, except it became obvious that my milk had come in. All I had in my head was Rufus is a Titman at every feeding. When we came back, he weight 8lb 9oz, gaining 3oz each day. He is still a little eating monster, growing out of some of the newborn clothing before week 2. By week 3 we have only one fleece onesie that still fits. 

Before we even reached week 4, we started Tummy Time. If anyone doesn’t know, pretty much to prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) you are suppose to put baby on their backs for sleeping. Because of this, babies can’t practice strengthening their necks, backs, and therefore can’t learn to crawl. So you are suppose to watch baby as you place them on their tummies for a few minutes. Well, Wolfie has such strong neck muscles I figured, why not? Naturally I am setting myself up for disaster as the second he can roll over, he has to stick with crib for sleeping, not the vibrating rocker that makes it easier to put him to sleep at night. But I welcome this new baby who can entertain himself.

As for me? Well, I think it is true what people say, you will never be prepared for what it is like to have kids. I had some idea of what it would be like, and the first two weeks weren’t as bad as what I thought it would be- but it is was still really damn hard. I think what I wasn’t prepared for was the healing I had to do. The first week or two involved lots of steps in the bathroom while everything healed. And since I was in labor during the night, I was just so exhausted and never was able to catch up on sleep. By week two I was just so tired of taking 10 minutes to have to pee, and waking up every 2-3 hours. It is particularly hard if you plan on breastfeeding. At first it didn’t dawn on me that it would be harder. It wasn’t until I realized there was no way Jon and I could take “turns” at night. It would always be me to feed him. Which meant I will always be the one to wake up in the middle of the night. Okay, that isn’t true. Now that we have reached 4 weeks, Wolfie isn’t feeding every 2 hours, that means finding time to pump is easier. I have also reached the point where I am being a little more relaxed to the idea of using formula. Overall, I am not sure if I will continue to breastfeed. It takes up so much time. Some days I think it isn’t so bad, and then other days I think all I want to do is just pass him off to someone else.

Luckily, Jon was able to take two weeks off from work, and since Wolfie was born during the holiday season, he had a few bonus days off. Sadly because of the holidays it made things crazy for the first two weeks. Yes, we got to play “pass the baby” during parties, but it meant a fussy baby. Then we would hear all our relatives saying “oh that’s just what babies do!” but in my mind I am just thinking “it isn’t that way at home, so no, it isn’t what MY baby does.” The worst was Christmas Eve to the day after Christmas. It was just shlepping Wolfie from house to house. By the third day, I just wanted to nap, and I was spending time with a relative that I don’t particularly get along with. 

I am also super thankful that my Mother in Law loves babies. I am not particularly fond of them. I know many people might scratch their heads at that idea, but I love kids. Hell, if I had the option, I would of spent more time pregnant if I could give birth to a toddler. It would totally have to be a c-section, but that is besides the point. It kind-of drove me nuts when people would say things like “cherish him now” or “how can you not love this face?” It made me happy when I listened to the podcast One Bad Mother, and the person they were interviewing said staying home with kids was boring. And she said how she loved it more when her kids got older. Anyways, since my Mother in Law loves babies so much, I have been able to get a few hours or days to myself. It is nice and refreshing to not have to lug a baby all over the place.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love my little nugget. Everyday I am growing a stronger bond with him. But I think it is more “fun” to see him grow. He hasn’t made that many advancements yet, except getting massive, being able to hold his head up more, and being more alert. He is starting to see better, and loves to just look at things. But again, that doesn’t really give me much to do with him. I see my Mother in Law dote on him, and I don’t see much of a difference between what she does and playing with a doll.

Oh and speaking of him getting massive…. dear lord is he starting to get hard to hold. I mean, it is fine until I stand trying to rock him asleep at night for 30 minutes. My muscles start to burn. My muscle endurance are really being tested in my arms, abs, and back. He is now grown out of all of his newborn clothing, and there are some other clothes that are too snug/a pain to put on him. The other day there was a day he just kept eating, and eating and eating. I was fed up, walked downstairs and mixed up 4 ounces of formula. I told Jon if he looked hungry to feed him that bottle. I was pretty convinced he was just sucking my boobs like a pacifier, because you really have no clue how much milk is going out when feeding. Wolfie ate the whole 4 ounces, and that was after feeding for 45 minutes an hour earlier, and eating another 45 minutes from me within the next hour or two. The kid clearly was going through a growth spurt, I just wasn’t prepared for it. 

Now I am moving to the second month, and I will be welcome it since he will be getting closer and closer to being able to entertain himself a little. I am also hoping he gets even better at holding his neck up. He loves to be held upwards, but his neck muscles get exhausted fast and he flops all around. 

A Little Wolfie Was Born

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Here I am, 2 weeks later and just getting around to writing this post. It isn’t that I haven’t had time, but the time has been spent going to various places to visit family for the holidays. And if anyone knows, going anywhere with a baby takes time. So I have been writing this post a little bit here and a little bit there, so I am sorry if it sounds chunky, and is filled with spelling and grammatical errors (I’ve already tried to write fulled and grammerical, so you know.. sleep deprivation)

So I reached week 40 without giving birth. As I mentioned in the past post, I had been getting lots of signs that labor was drawing near. In fact, my patience was getting thin. My back was killing me, which was more or less a new symptom. The worst part were the contractions. I was getting them almost every night but they weren’t consistent, and would go away after an hour or so. So when I went to the doctors for my 40th week visit, they checked me again, and said that I was 5cm dilated and pretty much ready to deliver. I was asked if I would be interested in scheduling an induction, and I said yes, thinking it would be towards the end of the week.

I get a phone call- I would be induced the next day- Tuesday. It suddenly seemed like a bad idea to get an induction. I had a feeling it I wouldn’t need it, that I would magically go into labor that afternoon. The contractions were starting to kind-of be regular. I tried to keep a level head, and go about my business. I told Jon about my suspicion that I might be in real labor, so he naturally starts worry about the mattress. “What if your water breaks? We should put some plastic under the sheets.” Even though we all have seen TV shows where the character has their water break in public and they sopping wet pants. Everything I’ve read reassured that doesn’t happen often so I brushed off Jon’s recommendations as silly. I tossed and turned all night with various pains, when all the sudden I felt something odd, and I knew exactly what it was. I bolted up from the bed scream “MY WATERS BREAKING” trying to make it to the bathroom so I wouldn’t ruin the bed or the carpet (just barely made it guys.) Yup, I had that over the top water breaking moment.

We rushed over to the hospital as soon as we could, and I was nervous about making it in time. Suddenly my contractions were 8-20 minutes apart to a short 3 minutes apart. When we finally make it to our delivery room, I find out that I am 7 cm. So I figured I was in great condition, I was pretty far along, and still handling the pain. What I didn’t take into consideration was how uncomfortable I was. My back pain was unbearable, and laying down on the bed was excruciating. It made breathing very problematic, and I wasn’t so nervous about the pain as I was about hyperventilating. So by the time I broke down and asked the epidural I was 9 cm, and luckily my Mother was around to explain to the nurses that it would be a good idea (the first thing I hear from people is that they are surprised they even gave me the epidural this late.) The only thing that made me sad was that I had to sit up to get the spinal tap and shifting positions completely took away most of the pain from the contractions. I was just in too much pain to even think about changing positions. 

I can say I am glad I got the epidural. I think I would of delivered the baby faster with one, but I think I would of had less control of my actions. Which would of been more wear and tear on my body. I do have to say it sucked to have completely numb legs that I had no control over. It did take awhile to figure out how to push when you have no feeling in your lower half of your body. The other aspects weren’t as big of a deal, though I might of been more embarrassed about it if I hadn’t experienced the pain of the contractions for so long. In fact, since we didn’t really look too much into deliveries with epidurals, Jon got wrangled into holding up my leg for the delivery, which he handled very well considering.

So after 8 hours of being in the hospital and 45 minutes of pushing, on Tuesday, December 13th at 8 am, I gave birth to a baby boy. He came out screaming and peed almost immediately on the nurses, so I am pretty sure he healthy but a trouble maker. Just like my sneaking suspicions, I had a big baby weighing in at 8 pounds and 13 ounces, and measured at 21 3/4 inches in length. 

I don’t think the gravity of being pregnant sank in until the plopped a piping hot wet baby on my chest after giving birth. They took him away shortly afterwards to weigh and clean him up (that’s when he peed on everyone.) When they brought him back for our hour skin to skin time, one of the first things I noticed was his very hairy back. It was in fact a full moon as well. Jon and I laughed because one of the names we liked was Wolfgang. We decided to not go for it since it was quite an unusual name, but since we have a unique last name, and for privacy reasons, I will choose to call him Wolfie on the blog. 

So what does this mean for the blog? Well, let’s be real, it might be awhile since I talk about food again. At one point I was so stressed that I was getting nauseous whenever I ate. I still do. I have to eat small amounts all day, and even still I worry if I am getting enough calories since I’ve lost roughly 17-20 pounds in two weeks, although most women do loose 10 pounds after delivery, and 17 pounds by week 6.

This blog is partly a journal for myself, and partly to give information to other people. So I will be talking about my kid, and tips for vegan parents and such. There are still some posts I want to write about vegan pregnancy. I also want to create a space for vegan parents to check out. It seems that a lot of vegan parenting blogs are a little “granola crunchy” and it can be hard for some people to relate to that. But I don’t want to exclusively talk about babies and kids, and maybe strike a balance like Bonzai Aphrodite.

So if the next few months I am babies all the time, sorry. It is a little hard when your time is so broken up. But we are already starting to get longer nap times, and things seems like they are getting a little more stable (keyword here is seems.) Hopefully in two weeks I will have an update with a rough outline of the first month of Wolfie’s life.

Vegan Mofo 2016 Day 28: Pregnancy – Weeks 38-39

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Nursery

Okay, still now official photos of the nursery yet! Maybe soon. I have a feeling technically it won’t be “finished” until the baby gets in there. Part of the reason was that painting the bookshelf took longer than what Jon anticipated. It has a lot of nooks and crannies and it really hurt his back, and as I sized it up with my eyes, I really wasn’t sure if my body was going to be flexible enough to paint it myself.

All there is left to do is still just to let the bookshelf cure, then put crap on it. Then hang a few things. Then that’s it. Part of the problem is that we kind-of don’t want to hang stuff up late at night and bother our neighbors. But who knows, maybe we will be impatient about it and I can share photos before going into labor.

Anytime Now

So I went in for my check up Monday morning. Almost al my visits are super fast and quick. I am low risk, I didn’t have too many symptoms that I found disruptive. Sleeping has been mostly awesome, heartburn is there but never persistent, I get decent exercise just by standing all day at work, and I never got sick to my stomach. Well, the nurse told me to undress from the waist down for the midwife. Sure enough when the midwife came in she went through the normal checks, and was about to finish up, then noticed you know, I had no pants on.

“Did you want me to check your cervix?”

“I was just listening to the nurse before hand… if you think it is unnecessary then we can skip it”

I guess she figured might as well, and I am a little glad she did. Apparently I am already starting to dilate. Naturally this is getting my butt into gear and getting some stuff done around the house, like finally putting together the hospital bag, buying newborn onsies (was waiting for a sale, but that isn’t happening), and writing some thank you notes. I told my Mom and family members, and they are convinced I will be going into labor this week.

I went to work on Tuesday and just felt EXHAUSTED. I was feeling so many early labor symptoms, braxon hicks contractions, crampiness, and sore back. Then Wednesday morning my mucus plug came out, which further prompted everyone to stress that I would be going into labor at any moment now. So here I am on Thursday, still not in labor, so I am starting to feel very anxious.

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The Belly

“Did they tell you if you dropped yet?” That’s the first question I always get from my husband when I go to the doctors. I don’t think they would ever know, because I’ve actually dropped and I don’t really look like it. I can feel the baby is lower, mostly because my belly rubs on my legs whenever I drive. There are other things, mostly that suddenly a lot of basic things have become MUCH more uncomfortable, like sitting on the floor or getting up. 

Other things I’ve noticed, my belly button is officially in the out position. For the longest time it was either an innie or outie if my core was engaged or not. Now it is out 24/7 and it is a little weird. XD I’ve also noticed a few stretch marks on my stomach. A little bit of a bummer since I was stretch mark free for so long, but whatever. Nothing that I could really do about it.

Boney Butt

One thing that doctors have been doing at my appointments is that they are feeling my stomach to get an idea where the baby is located. My last visit was with a midwife, who felt what I call “the knobby bit.” On the top of my tummy the baby keeps poking the top right corner, and often will be a visible bulge. I find it gross. Well it was kind-of nice to get some vindication when the midwife made a slightly horrified face saying “what is this hard bit?” After a pause she checked lower and felt around, and was reassured that the head was on the bottom. Apparently, her guess that “the knobby bit” is just a very boney butt. Great. Our child has Jon’s boney butt. Okay, his butt isn’t that boney, just compared to mine XD

Animals

These past few weeks have been a little weird- week 38 is a Pomeranian and week 39 is an American Shorthair Cat which can be misleading. I am fairly certain my cat is going to be MUCH larger than our baby. The Pomeranian is hard to imagine since they are so fluffy. Like is my baby fluffy Pomeranian sized? Or alopecia Pomeranian sized?

Exercise

I’ve been working out again! I’ve been trying to do a workout a day, but you know, some days get skipped. But I am trying to do one round of a 20 minute barre workout. I figure the endurance muscle exercises will be good for delivery day. But I only do one round because I am a little paranoid about exhausting my muscles for when I DO go to labor.

I also have been walking around a lot when doing errands. I try not to think of errands as working out, but with all these early labor symptoms, it really does feel like a workout. I never park my car close to the door, which is a little bit out of habit. I might also try and convince Jon to go for a walk around the neighborhood at night and look at the Christmas lights, to help speed things along. I am not sure that will ACTUALLY help, but it does feel like a little bit of a “no pain no gain” mentality. 

Sunday Reading 12-05-16 #78

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Vegan MOFO is over, and I feel like I can relax a little. This weekend was filled with fun as my husband and I got our Christmas tree. Then the next day I had Alexa and Justine over to decorate it and eat lots of vegan sushi. I thought today would be pretty laid back, which is has… but I am trying to tie up any loose ends since I am at week 39. In many ways this took forever and snuck up on me all at the same time. 

Since Vegan MOFO took up so many of the posts last month, I have a little bit of a back log of articles to share (and read.) So sorry if these articles are pretty old. And I am trying to catch up on blog posts, which I may or may not get done before I go into labor. Who knows. Anyways, enjoy these reads.

7 Stunning Places Travelers Can’t Visit Because Of Politics

This was just a little light reading for fun. This is a short list of interesting places that look like they would be amazing to visit. I do think it is funny that I can’t visit it because of politics, when realistically my bank account wouldn’t allow it anyways. XD

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Vegan Cheesemaking Guide – Vegan MoFo Day 6

Nichole from Vegan Nom Noms put together a vegan cheesemaking guide on her blog. I have to say, these new choices for fermented vegan cheeses have been amazing. For Thanksgiving Jon and I splurged and got a bit of Miyoko’s smoked cheese for an appetizer. We served it yesterday, and Alexa seemed to really like it as well (Justine can’t have cashews so she wasn’t able to taste it T__T) I would like to try making some, but right now isn’t too great.

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Of course PMS is “real.” The real question is why we don’t have a cure.

Another great article talking about how women’s health is ignored by the medical industry. Clearly PMS is real, and it is funny because I had less common symptoms and thought I might of been crazy. As gross as it is, every time I get my period I have major digestive issues and thought it was just in my head. Then sure enough one day my OBGYN asked if I get diarrhea as a symptom during my period it was a little bit of a sigh of relief. It wasn’t in my head and it wasn’t weird. Some symptoms might not be talked about in other cultures because they are simply taboo and not talked about.

I’ve heard some article posing that mood swings are not an actual symptom of PMS, and I can see that. I personally don’t get moodier but it makes sense that it would be a side effect from physical symptoms of PMS. If you cut your arm and it hurt, surely you would be irritable. So if you have cramping, why wouldn’t you be more emotional in the same way? I’ve talked about how some studies are showing that “pregnancy brain” might not be real, and honestly I think it is a way to play down any stress that a woman might have from a major life change. Same goes with saying mood swings are just part of PMS, whether real or not, it is used as way to ignore a person.

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Vegan Diets, As Long As They Are Well-Balanced, Are Good for Pregnant Women and Children

I was happy to see this article pop up on my news feed, especially because of the timing. I think many people forget how much of a omnivores diet is actually fortified with vitamins and nutrients. Think about mainstream cereals- lots of fortified vitamins. Milk has fortified vitamin D, and so on. 

Has Hypnosis Finally Been Vindicated by Neuroscience?

This SciShow episode and Science of Us articles both came out relatively close to each other. It is pretty interesting and actually is slightly making me regret dismissing hypnobirthing as bullshit. I guess it could very well work, which seems crazy to me. I would love to find more scientific research on hypnosis.

SciShow: 9 Scientific Cooking Techniques

SciShow has released a series of food/cooking related videos and this one was a lot of fun. There are various techniques (mostly unconventional) to make food fun. Most are vegan, though there is a fairly weird and gross “meat glue.” But otherwise I would love to try out many of the vegan techniques at some point. Some I’ve seen already on other blogs.

Vegan Mofo 2016 Day 25: Chickpea Curried Pot Pie

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Yes, I have gotten quite bad at keeping up with Vegan MOFO, and this will be the last prompt that I will make a post for. I technically will be posting a review of How It All Vegan, which was suppose to be my favorite vegan cookbook. But this post was for the prompt “What was your first vegan meal?” Truthfully I probably had some vegan meals before I went “vegan.” I had spaghetti and tomato sauce plenty of times. But, when I first started my vegan journey in college, I remember making many meals from How It All Vegan and The Garden of Vegan.

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So this dish is from The Garden of Vegan, and it has been altered a lot over the years. My culinary skills have gotten better, and my pantry has gotten larger. But this use to be my impress a person type of dish. Back in the day I use to live on 16th and Webster in Philadelphia. It is funny seeing how much it has changed, at the time we had a rowhome that had no neighboring buildings. It looks like there are now buildings sitting next to it. I was about a mile away from my classes, and even further from a lot of the grocery stores. I needed a bike pretty badly.

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My roommate’s boyfriend was really into biking culture, and had a spare bike to give her. She had no intent of actually biking around, and the bike was much too tall for her. So like any college student, I chimed in if he was interested in giving me the bike…. for free. We struck a deal, he would give me the bike if I made him a vegan dish. He really couldn’t think of anything that didn’t have meat, cheese, or eggs in it. Naturally he loved the meal.

I still have my bike, though it is reaching the end of it’s usefulness. I hate biking in the suburbs because no one treats you properly on the roads. Plus we have a storage issue with the bikes, and I need to fix the wheel, which I am putting off. 

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As mentioned before, there has been lots of alterations with this dish. For starters, the pie cuts best when it has time to sit. In fact, these photos were taken the next day when the pie was really cold. You can also play around with all the veggies you pick for the inside, use whatever you have kicking around in your fridge and adjust cooking times. 

I also have altered the pie crust quite a lot. I remember taking the dough and just squishing it around to fill in any holes in the past. But as I make more pie crusts for desserts, I’ve learned a few tricks. Mostly upping the fat and adding some besan instead of all flour. Sadly, I didn’t chill the dough long enough and didn’t flour the surface enough, so the pie crust is a little… funky looking.

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Vegan Mofo 2016 Day 28: Pregnancy – Weeks 36-37

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I had a hunch that Thanksgiving would kill my Vegan MOFO mojo. And it did! XD It is pretty typical, especially since Thanksgiving rings in my panic mode of trying to get things done. It is hard not to do this because I am so use to working retail and knowing that I will be working more hours. But I guess there isn’t too much of a difference since I will be panicing to get everything done around the house before delivery day. I guess the plan is to finished the planned Vegan MOFO posts. So they will be delayed but whatever.

Thanksgiving

I am not kidding when I say I woke up on Thanksgiving, drove to Wegman’s to get a new loaf of bread for stuffing (mine got too stale), got a treat of a latte, then cooked until 12. Then I got to take a “break” by driving an hour to my parents, then stood around to make appetizers. Sat down a little for the parade, then cooked until dinner time. And then I worked the next day. XD I told my boss what my Thanksgiving was like and he just looked at me, then my stomach, then my face again with a look of disgust. Oddly standing around all day didn’t occur to me as a bad thing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Then of coarse the next few days I’ve been all on my feet. I went into Philly for the V Marks the Spot Vegan Pop Up Shop, and Sunday was running around getting groceries and Christmas gifts. And today I had to go for my 38 week check up at the doctors.

Oh BTW- best part of the Thanksgiving Day parade was CLEARLY when Tony Bennet almost fell on top of Miss Piggy.

Nursery

It’s almost there. I swear next pregnancy update will have lots of photos of a nursery! We got my sister’s old rocking chair, and my Father brought it in. Now, I am not sure if I mentioned on the blog, but my Father is good at enthusiastically lifting things, but not so good at moving things in a controlled manner. This has involved many dents with the walls in our new home. And I knew that my husband spent FOREVER patching up spots in the nursery, so when my Father wheeled in the rocking chair I cleared out a path for him to put it in living room. Good old Dad had a clear path but managed to 1) ram into our old desk and 2) make a nice new dent in the living room walls. Eventually Jon’s Father came over to help carry it into the nursery, and my sisters helped bring over the old toy box.

So what is left? Still some artwork to hang and I need to put together a little mobile with messed up mat board clouds that I got from work. I am not sure fully how I will hang them together yet. Also Jon is painting our last piece of furniture- a small bookshelf for all the books to read at night and for our pretty night light. We are hoping it will be finished painting and curing by the end of the week.

Christmas

Yes, I am thinking ahead to Christmas. I already made plans with Alexa and Justine to come over and help decorate our Christmas tree. I love having the Christmas decorations up but this way we can enjoy the tree and know it is up before the baby comes…. which honestly could be any moment now. I keep hearing from people about how baby sometimes comes a week or two early, and truthfully I am slightly nervous, since my sister delievered her first daughter a month early (they were able to delay the labor, only to have her be delievered a week early still)

I also have been trying to get as much Christmas shopping done now. I got I think about half of it done, there is a few homemade gifts that I will be making, and I haven’t started that at all yet. So…. you know. 

Animal Size

For week 36 the baby is the size of a Chihuahua dog. Truthfully, I don’t like this breed. No it isn’t because they are small or “yippie” but because I think they are very aggressive dogs and since they are small and cute, people let them get really nasty. But I will admit- I do think Long Haired Chihuahuas are super cute- especially in Santa hats.

Supposedly at week 37 the baby is the size of a striped skunk…. which seems wrong. I mean I thought skunks were pretty big? But I guess maybe not? I do have to admit- baby skunks are really stinkin cute!

Waiting Game

Now it is all down to waiting I guess. I am still working, and trying to get as much done. We have SO many frame jobs, and I am only working a few more weeks. I am feeling a little stressed, even though it technically isn’t my problem. XD And to put in perspective how big a frame job we have coming up, let’s just say about 100+ frames need to be done by sometime in January. I have no plans of coming back until February. I am just assuming I will be super sleep deprived.

I should put together my hospital pack, and pretty much only put together what the baby can wear home from the hospital. XD I know I should be better about these things, but there is something in the back of my head that is just like “meh, I’ll pack it when I go into labor, whatever.” But I know I should get a few things in there- like magazines, snacks, slippers, you know stuff I don’t actually use while at home.

I am more interested in booze. Yes, I feel like I am always talking about it. I really wanted a drink during Thanksgiving since it is a time to have a special drink. I also can’t wait till I have some spiked egg nog. And today I bought a bottle of beer, sitting in the fridge, for when we get back from the hospital for celebratory drink.

Vegan Mofo 2016 Day 23: Pre-Thanksgiving

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I am finally feeling like I am starting to get my shit together. Sort of. I’ve been actually doing pretty well with Vegan MOFO, and one prompt Alexa was going to write up something but sadly she has been having computer problems. But even still, so far we got a post up everyday, except for one. Last year we missed 3 posts, so maybe this year we will only miss 1 (maybe 2.) Last night I was starting to wonder if my water broke (despite what you see on TV, it isn’t a huge splash) but by the next morning it was very clear it didn’t. At first I was freaking out that nothing was ready. So this weekend I might focus on making phone calls and getting things in order.

Well, I didn’t go into labor, which is good. I still have three weekends to get the nursery totally settled in (so close guys!) and I will be spending family bonding time before the big day.

I think I’ve mentioned in every single Thanksgiving Day themed post, that I don’t like the holiday. Frankly I don’t like the food much. Cranberry sauce? Why are we eating plain jam? Mashed Potatoes? What is this baby food? Pies? Meh, give me cake.  I mean it is all find an dandy but I think it marks the beginning of the a marathon of holiday foods that all taste the same. Lots of thyme, rosemary, umami, and root veggies. Meh. I think that is why family does Mexican Christmas Eve. But my husband LOVES the food and holiday. So that means I feed into his love of mashed potatoes and pie even though I would rather not.

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And even more luckily for him, his office has an office Thanksgiving lunch. He use to eat whatever they had before he went vegan. But this is the third celebration since he decided to go vegan. So we started a “pre-thanksgiving” tradition. Every year, before his office party we make a frozen “faux turkey” roast with one or two vegetable sides. We’ve tried tofurky, but so far my favorite has been the Gardein/Trader Joe’s holiday roast. Plus, the Trader Joe’s “brand” is cheaper, though it is really just Gardein with Trader Joe smacked on the outside. I’m cool with that.

This year we kept it pretty simple, we took some vegetables from our CSA and followed the instructions for a big roast. This gave us MUCH more veggies than we first anticipated. So we had some roasted turnips, parsnips, carrots, and celery (not from our CSA.) We then made a side of But I Could Never Go Vegan‘s sweet potato and brussel sprouts dish. The sprouts were from out CSA, which didn’t do too hot this year. Our stalk was more greens than sprouts, so we saved all of those and will probably do a little side with them another day.

This year Jon found out one of his co-workers is actually vegan (we thought he was just vegetarian.) So next year if they are both still working there, I will probably be making a bigger spread to bring in and share with his co-workers. Apparently other people at the office were commenting on how good the food looked.

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Usually we get by for the rest of the week not cooking anything, which is totally okay with me. Leftovers all week leading up to the big cooking holiday? Okay! Actually I do cook, just usually things we aren’t going to eat. Like I cooked a whole pound of chickpeas (to make two chickpea tarts, one for thanksgiving, one for post baby), bake an apple pie, bake a pumpkin pie, you know, prep work.

If anyone wants to know, I’ve made a few other Thanksgiving posts- you can check them out if you so please:

Our Thanksgiving 2015 Plan
Our Thanksgiving Dinner 2014
Recipe for Vegan Green Bean Casserole
How to Serve a Vegan Guest for Your Holiday Dinner
Tofurky or Not Tofurky? That is the Question.

Anyone else with a Pre-Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving tradition?

Vegan Mofo 2016 Day 22: American (maybe) Vegan Chalupa (not really)

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One of my family’s traditions makes my husband livid. I mentioned how I don’t like most holiday foods (just give me the booze plz!) but I love my family’s tradition of Mexican Christmas Eve. In my husband’s defense, our tradition is pretty weak. It started because my Aunt brought a piñata to Christmas Eve since she was in Mexico. Clearly if you are going to have a piñata you are going to serve Mexican food- or whatever American’s think is Mexican food. We were kids, so the tradition went for awhile, and as we got older we all decided we rather eat tacos over… whatever people eat the day before Christmas.

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One of our family staples is chalupa. Now I can safely point out- this is not authentic at all. Not even in the “it’s made with pork so a vegan version isn’t authentic” way. No apparently when my Mother and Father lived in Phoenix Arizona, she was given this recipe. It was slow roasted pork recipe with beans that she served over chips with lots of toppings. Turns out, REAL chalupa refers to the shell, not the pork like I always believed. I can say I was pretty sure that the originals weren’t being served on doritos, like we did.

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I have NO idea how wide spread this dish is. I assume it is largely known in the Southwest, and after some Googling, I do get some recipes that looks like the kind I grew up with. And hey I found one that even serves it over some fritos. Now that sounds American. The funny thing is that I grew up with almost EVERYTHING being made from scratch. Occasionally my Dad would make powdered boxed falafels, and we would use the boxes of couscous with the packets of seasoning, but we never had frozen tater tots, weird casseroles (okay maybe just tuna), not even green bean casserole. So it is a little bit of surprise that we have this family signature dish that revolves around doritos. Yes you heard me.

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The highlight of the dish is really just you get to eat doritos for dinner. As many people can guess- doritos aren’t really vegan. Almost all varieties have whey powder in them, except for Spicy Sweet Chili. Wanna know something funny? My Dad tends to turn his nose at all the food I make, but he LOVES the spicy sweet chili flavored doritos. I haven’t told him yet that they are vegan. But we have more options, and some that are more healthful. 

Late July has some great options out there. They have three vegan flavors- Bacon Habanero, Jalapeño Lime, and Sriracha Fresca (the photos are of the Jalapeño Lime BTW.) I think I remember reading that Beanfields have ALL vegan flavors. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. But they have nacho if that is what you are looking for. You could easily just use regular old chips and there are other brands out there that make flavored chips that are vegan.

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Aside from junk food, the other reason why this is such a staple in my family is that it makes so much. You can make a huge pot and it feeds an army. Even my vegan version makes a whole bunch. And they are a lot like tacos, everyone can top them in a way they like. Which pretty much means you want to serve this dish with other typical taco toppings. I am talking about salsa, chopped tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, daiya cheese, vegan sour cream, lettuce, and avocado. 

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There are a few methods to the madness. You can either pile your chips all on the bottom, and top it off with everything. But sometimes you get chips that are too soggy. Yuck. But I do like SOME soaking of the chips, like maybe a corner. So I like to put mine to the side, then a bed of lettuce. Pile the toppings on the lettuce, and usually the juices move over to the chips.

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You also need to decide on if you should put the toppings on the top or bottom. The bottom makes everything mix up together really well, but you get to pick a choose a little more if you put everything on top. I do recommend, if anything, to put your vegan cheese on the bottom so you get it all melty and yummy. Nothing is worse than cold daiya. Well, maybe cold cow’s cheese. 

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Sadly it is has been forever since I’ve celebrated it. See, Jon’s side of the family usually spends Christmas Eve with each other. But I’ve told Jon that if we ever host the get together, I am making all food south of the border. He knows the threat is real since I am armed with Viva Vegan. I’m going to throw everyone off who brings over some hummus and salad to contribute to dinner. “Oh, so we are having empanadas? Do cheesy potatoes go with that?” Answer- no, and that’s the point.

I hope everyone enjoyed this weird family tradition. I can’t really trace the cultural background for the dish, and there is no real logic to having a “Mexican” Christmas Eve.

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Vegan Mofo 2016 Day 21: Moo Shu

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I have something to confess- I hate holidays. I mean I LOVE Halloween, but I am not fond of the food traditions for American holidays. Unless I am making my own spread, I am not a fan of Thanksgiving. It usually involves me asking my husband what he wants, and then making it. My family on the other hand- seems to love it. But if you left it to me, I would rather be eating Chinese take out. I am pretty sure last year we had no Christmas dinner planned with family members and I told Jon all I wanted to Chinese take out. He thought I was kidding. I WAS NOT. We got home from his parents, and I sulked that it was too late to get general tso tofu, and he just stared at me in disbelief. He offered to get Chinese the next day, and it is never the same.

So my happy vegan memory was when I was able to get that Chinese take out. I can’t remember the exact year, but at some point in high school, I remember spending the 4th of July with my Mother. It was pretty un-American. We ordered Chinese food, watched Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, then watched the fireworks from our front yard (barely.) *sigh* Those days are over. Especially my favorite thing about the 4th of July, the fireworks display in Red Bank has been stopped, which is shame.

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I don’t know what I got that night, but there is a good chance it was spring rolls, various apps, and possibly moo shu. I don’t know when I first discovered this dish, but it is one of my take out favorites. For starters you get SO much of it. It is pretty much a veggie stir fry that you serve in little pancakes with hoisin sauce. Traditionally you use pork, but any Chinese take out place will make it vegan, or any meat of choice. 

I rarely get it anymore, mostly because I might get Chinese take out once or twice a year. But making it at home is super easy. In fact, it is much faster when you use a food processor to shred all the veggies. Make prep easy, and the clean up mostly just a food processor, wok, and cutting board. To make the recipe easier I used pre-baked tofu from a local tofu factory. But you can make your own 5-spice baked tofu.

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Most everything is cheap and easily accessible in an American super market. But there are two ingredients that might be hard. The American version of this dish is served with a thin Chinese pancake called a spring pancake. I’ve read reviews saying you can find these in the refridgerator section of Asian food markets. You can use a flour tortilla that you would use for a taco (that’s what I did) or you can serve it next to rice, which is the traditional Chinese way of serving the dish.

I used small oyster mushrooms for this dish, but you can use any type of mushrooms you like. I would try and stick to something like button mushrooms, shiitake, or baby bellas. Thinly slice the mushrooms so they are small and fit well in the wraps.

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Vegan Mofo 2016 Day 19: Most Metal Black Bean Stir-fry

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You might not be able to guess this- but I really like metal genre. Alexa and I have talked about music before (making best of lists for 2014, talking about our fav artists, or the concerts we’ve been to) and you would think we were all about mello music and pop-electronica. And you would be right. But I am still a sucker for some metal. In high school you would more likely be listening to Visual Kei bands and nerdy metal bands. If you are sitting here thinking what is nerd metal? And visual what?! Well come along friends and let me give you a small history.

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First off Visual Kei is a Japanese genre, that has less to do what the music sounds like and more about what the bands look like. The genre kind-of popped up in the 80s and was heavily influenced by 80s hair metal. The early music was influenced by glam rock, heavy metal, and punk music. I always thought the music was more pleasant than some of the “goth” bands in the states, leading to some of my favorites like Due Le Quartz, Vidoll, Dir en grey, MUCC, cali≠gari, and deadman. Hell, I have even been lucky enough to see some visual kei groups when they’ve toured the USA. I’ve seen +DéspairsRay+, MUCC, and L’arc~en~ciel (who were one of the early Visual Kei bands, who became more mainstream pop.) But like most genres they evolve and it became harder and harder to find groups that sounded different from one another. Then the genre branched off to Oshare Kei which sounded too much like the pop-punk movement in the states. I think I largely loved how feminine the genre was. I find lots of Americans/Westerns have the hardest time accepting the feminine aspects of the genre as men wear lots of make up, have tiny figures, and sometimes even wear dresses.

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Now what am I talking about with nerdy metal? Ever heard of the genre math rock? According to wikipedia it’s “Math rock is characterized by complex, atypical rhythmic structures (including irregular stopping and starting), counterpoint, odd time signatures, angular melodies, and extended, often dissonant, chords.” (If you want to check out Math Rock try listening to toe, Maps and Atlases, Zazen Boys, Q and Not U, and Acidman) Well, to me nerdy metal isn’t a real genre, just one that I use. But it is similar to math rock- it is characterized by the complexity of the music. Mostly it is for all the prog-alternative metal groups that were less goth and more about 20 minute guitar solos. I mean, just look at all these subgenres of metal on wikipedia. I can’t even begin! I mean give me Sonata Arctica, DragonForce, and Dream Theater any day.

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So what am I getting at? Well, when I saw the prompt of make the most Goth meal ever, it just made me think of my days in college and going to see Gwar. They have been listed at the third nerdiest metal groups, and you probably know them from the Beavis and Butthead video game where you go around town trying to get to the Gwar concert. I just remember freshman year, sitting around and news came out that Gwar was playing that night. My friend Kelli was super pumped but it was all sold out. So the next year we went, and it was awesome.

Truthfully, I am not a huge fan of Gwar’s music. I could take it or leave it, except some random songs here and there. But given the chance to see full grown men paint abs on their beer bellies, chop the head off of political figures and other crude jokes. What you should expect from a Gwar concert is a lot of multicolor liquids flying at you and mosh pits. I think people are usually surprised that I love going to Gwar concerts since I like dressing girly, but there is such stage performance that I can never say no. I’ve been to three concerts, every year in college since that missed Freshman year concert.

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One of the most notable concerts was when they paired Gwar with Cradle of Filth. I’ve dabbled with Cradle of Filth, and most people probably know them from the IT Crowd. I think “It sounds horrible but it’s actually quite beautiful” is a great way to describe them. It was an interesting mix of crowds. Gwar is a little more gritty and older crowd, while Cradle of Filth had younger goth kids wearing pleather. It was pretty easy to tell who came for which bands. Gwar goers wore white t-shirts, Cradle of Filthers wore black.

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Perhaps I am extra nostagic of my Gwar concert going days since I always went with my rad friends- Kelli and John. The two are now happily married and are expecting a cute little dude. Do you think they make Gwar onesies?

Okay so let’s talk about my most metal dark dish. Well, I love chinese fermented black beans. Douchi is pretty much the first fermented soy beans, and you’ve probably eaten it before with Chinese take out with any of their “black bean” dishes. I’ve written in detail about douchi, which can be called many different things depending on the country. I’ve made a recipe for Jajangmyeon, which is a Korean dish. I mean it is pretty dark, but I wanted to do something a little different for vegan mofo.

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So I’ve tried to make a stir-fry with these black bean paste, with some yummy results. I sautéed some vegan abalone, eggplant, and broccoli. Don’t worry guys, you can hardly see the broccoli in all that dark sauce. And I paired it all off with some black rice, which is so black it makes the rest of the dish look brown.

Funny thing is that after writing this post, I kind-of remembered why I’ve moved away from heavier music. One is that they can be misogynist, or super dude heavy (mean, there are lots of not so subtle phallic displays at a Gwar concert) but mostly it is because my husband HATES hard music. I was listening to Due Le Quartz while making dinner, and midway through he just asks “what the fuck are you listening to?!” Well, I left some videos below with some viewer warning when needed if you want to listen to some music of some the bands listed above.

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