Whole wheat vegan microwave cookies

cookie

I love the convenience of making cookie-in-a-mug type things because you can have a nice warm cookie after just microwaving it for a minute. I tweaked some recipes to make a slightly healthier version though, with whole wheat flour and I used cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips, although either would work. This recipe makes about 4 cookies the size of your hand, so you can keep it in the fridge and use some of it each time instead of having to mix the ingredients fresh each time.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup vegan butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

a capful of vanilla extract

a sprinkle of salt

2/3 cup almond milk

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup cacao nibs or chocolate chips

Directions:

Put the butter in a glass storage bowl and microwave for about 20 sec to soften it

Mix the rest of the ingredients in and store in the fridge, covered, until you want a cookie

To make a cookie, spread a few spoonfuls of dough on a plate and shape into a circle, and microwave for 1 minute

 

Dealing with tantrums using positive parenting

Jack at the park

Jack at the park

Jack is 19 months old now, and he is starting to have his own opinions about things more and more. Yesterday he had his second ever big tantrum, and I thought I would share how we deal with it in a positive parenting way. I got most of my ideas from The book Peaceful Parent and her web page ahaparenting.com that has a free email list you can sign up for which is great. I also joined a few facebook groups about gentle parenting which are nice to read other people’s suggestions.

So yesterday at night Jack was overtired which was my fault- I should have tried to get him to bed earlier. He wanted to play though and get really upset when I told him he couldn’t play with the water in his learning tower because it was bedtime. What I try to remember with discipline is LOVE and LIMITS. So I set limits and am firm with them (he did not get to play with the water) but I am empathic and supportive and loving. This looked like my husband coming over and us carrying Jack into the bedroom. I asked Jack if he wanted a hug but he pushed me away and was screaming. So I sat next to him and said that I would be there for him and love him. My husband tried to get closer too but Jack was too upset, so he also said that he was there if he needed him in a calm voice. I verbalized Jack’s feelings saying “it looks like you’re really sad and frustrated.” “I bet you wish you could play with the water, and we can play with it tomorrow.”  He screamed and cried for almost 30 minutes I think, and I would intermittently say things like “it’s ok to be sad,” or suggest something like “do you want to pet your fabric animals to see if that makes you feel better?”

For a long time he didn’t want to do anything or have anyone touch him and just cried, and my husband and I stayed nearby and calmly said something every few minutes. When Jack finally started to calm down we offered some ideas and he said he wanted a snack and water, so we brought it over. He independently came over to hug me while my husband got the snack which made me feel really good. It really reinforces that dealing with his big feelings in a supportive way lets him know that we love him no matter what. I’m so glad I read about positive parenting instead of thinking that punishment or ignoring is the best way to deal with tantrums. I can’t imagine how hard it would be for a toddler to get left alone or punished for there scary feelings he has which already feel overwhelming and make him feel out of control.  Going through this with my husband also made me fall in love with him even more- seeing how patient and gentle he could be with our son who was having such a hard time.

Review of Pedoodles shoes and age-by-age shoe guide

IMG_20140706_065146594

I recently bought Jack some pedoodle shoes because they are pretty eco friendly. They use recycled leather and rubber which is nice and are supposed to have flexible soles. They also have velcro which is really easy to use and are pretty wide which is good for baby feet.

I think that pedoodles are great for people who want a more structured shoe, and would be better for slightly older toddlers, maybe at least 2-3 years old. I think at 18 months Jack still needs shoes that are more flexible. The leather upper part is not very flexible, so I think shoes like the Soft Star ones with very soft leather are ideal for where Jack is now. He was also able to pull off the velcro tabs but I imagine that’s the case with most velcro shoes. From my shoe experience so far (we’ve tried a lot of brands!), this is what I think worked best for us and what I’d do with a future child:

0-12 months: no shoes until baby starts walking. We just used socks with the skid-proof bottoms.

12 months-15 months (starting to stand/walk until they are really confident walkers): very soft shoes with leather all around (no rubber which while it can be described as “flexible” is never as flexible as leather or cloth). For the very early walking months I love BabyPaws which is formaldehyde-free leather and has velcro to have an adjustable fit. Leather shoes that are mocassin style with elastic closure like Robeez or the more nontoxic version, Bobux are adorable but didn’t fit Jack’s feet and aren’t adjustable. We kept Jack in all leather shoes for about 4 months. The shoes got holes after about 2 months, and also aren’t waterproof, but they are amazing in the learning to walk stage.

15 months-24 months (confident walker to runner):  Soft star classic shoes (ideally with velcro closure). They have a rubber sole which is flexible (but not as much as leather) and have a very soft leather top. They last a lot longer than the all leather shoes and don’t get wet when walking through puddles. We used these sometimes around 12 months if it was wet out but Jack was clearly more comfortable in the soft shoes until he became a proficient walker. The soft star company is my all time favorite for shoes- they have formaldehyde-free leather and are hand made in the US.

24 months plus: Stick with soft star, or try other shoes with “flexible” rubber soles and a more structured leather upper like the Pedoodles. The pedoodles are eco friendly and use recycled materials but they don’t use formaldehyde-free leather. FYI neither does Livie and Luca whom I also emailed.

Some favorite food products

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*This post is not sponsored, it’s just my honest recommendations*

Since it’s summer, I’ve been really into eating sandwiches and burgers which are pretty quick to make. I recently discovered seitan, and I love the products from the Upton’s Naturals brand I got at whole foods. I bought some of their traditional strips and fried them in some olive oil for a few minutes until they browned, and then I stored them in the fridge. When I wanted to make a sandwich I put them on bread in the toaster oven to warm it all up, and added mayo, avocado, lettuce, and maybe some vegan cheese. It’s really delicious!

IMG_20140621_103800085 (1)

Another product I’ve been loving is the healthiest brand of veggie burgers ever- Hilary’s. They are sold in the whole foods freezer section in packs of 2. So far I tried the traditional flavor and root veggies and they are both good. I love that it’s vegan and gluten free, and isn’t made of weird ingredients I don’t use at home like textured soy protein. They also taste amazing even microwaved so that’s a plus for a busy mom!

I’ll admit that now that Jack is trying to climb all over the kitchen if I’m cooking, I’ve been relying a lot on frozen foods. We are on the lookout for a learning tower on craigslist so that he can safely stand at the counter with me, so maybe that will help. He loves playing in the sink even though he always ends up all wet. It seems like with toddlers you are always letting them make some kind of mess in order to buy time to get things done around the house!

Update at 18 months

6.24books

 

I can’t believe how fast time is passing and that Jack is already 18 months old! I remember when he was a tiny baby we’d always be the youngest ones at meetups and things, and now he is definitely a toddler! I try as much as possible to be present and enjoy each day because they really fly by, and even if we have another child it’ll never be the same as having all my time to enjoy just Jack. Some things that have been going on lately:

  • Talking: Jack is saying about 10 words or so now. It’s on the low end of normal, but hopefully he’s just a later talker like his dad was. I make sure to narrate what we are doing all day and wait for him to respond to questions so he has the opportunity to practice talking. While he says 10 words he says the same 3 most often- ball, mama, and car. So it really doesn’t feel like he’s that grown up yet, I think once he is using his words all the time it will really feel like he’s not a baby any more.
  • Eating: Jack has gradually been eating more solids. He likes most things that are breaded such as organic chicken nuggets or fish nuggets. He is also eating more fruits such as peaches. Our meals are still pretty random things at this point though, like raisins and peanut butter for breakfast.
  • Babywearing: I still wear Jack for usually either a nap or to get him to sleep for bedtime. I also use the Tula a lot for when we are walking to of from a store or part of the time we are walking our dog.
  • Breastfeeding: Jack still nurses a lot! If I’m gone for 4-5 hours for work I start feeling engorged. He also nurses every few hours at night. Once his teeth are in I’ll try to cut that down, but he keeps having teething pain at least a few weeks a month so it doesn’t seem worth it to deal with the crying and lack of sleep of night weaning just to go back on it a week later when he has horrible teething pain all night.
  • Clothes: we have still been able to stick with 100% organic clothes! I’ve been happy to find toddler clothes at H&M, Frugi, Burt’s Bees, and some random stuff on amazon.
  • Cloth diapers: Jack is wearing mostly Bumgenius 4.0 pockets now because they are easy to change while he’s standing or walking. He goes to the potty when he wakes up in the morning and usually after nap and we get almost all poops in the potty.
  • Movement: Jack is almost running now which is cute. He is also climbing nonstop! He can push a chair to the kitchen counter and climb up on it which is scary. We are looking for a used learning tower for him to make standing at the kitchen sink a little safer.
  • Playing: Jack still prefers playing with containers or laundry over mot of the toys he has! Some favorite toys that actually get used often are books, his wooden cart, and his pounding toy which he also likes to remove the pegs from and put them places.

Overall he can entertain himself for longer and longer now- sometimes 10-20 minutes, so it’s getting so much easier for me! I can now cook in the kitchen sometimes while he plays in the sink or with some containers, or I can clean while he “swiffers.” He also sits in his high chair long enough for me to eat an entire meal often, although sometimes I have to give him a little container with a lid for him to put raisins into to keep him busy at the end.

I love how he learns new things almost every day, like how to make a new animal noise. He is starting to get upset when we tell him he can’t do things, but luckily after reading a ton about positive parenting (I love the book Peaceful Parenting) I feel pretty well equipped to deal with it and help him learn to calm himself down so far. I’m sure it will get harder (but in some ways easier) as he gets older though!

Elimination communication on an airplane!

IMG_20140618_183701449We just got back from a 6 day trip to Philadelphia to visit family (and managed to take only carry-on bags again!) I had my mom buy some whole foods disposable diapers for us to use there because people didn’t want us to wash our cloth diapers at their houses, and Jack ended up with his first ever diaper rash by the end of the week. I had packed 3 pocket diapers just in case, so the day we were traveling home I put him in a pocket diaper and figured I would cloth diaper him until we ran out and then put him back in disposables. I definitely didn’t expect it, but I managed to have Jack use the toilet for our entire trip!

Jack is 18 months old now and at home he always poops in the potty but often does not want to pee in the potty if he’s in the middle of playing, so we still rely on diapers most of the day. I also admittedly get lazy about taking him to the bathroom, especially in public places. But after this trip I realized I’m 99% of the reason Jack isn’t totally out of diapers!

Here’s how we handled EC on the trip:

Before we left I had Jack pee in the toilet of my mom’s house. I hold him over the toilet facing backwards in the “EC” hold.

At the airport, I found a family bathroom which makes things much easier and had him pee right when we arrived (it was 1.5 hours since he last peed). He also went again right before we boarded the plane (about another hour or so had passed). If he was hesitant to go, I found that turning on the sink helped him.

On the plane, I took him to the bathroom about every 2 hours so that ended up being twice during the 5 hour trip. It was a super tight squeeze in the plane bathroom! I found it helpful to bring a plastic bag with an extra diaper (in case I needed to change him) and hang it on the hook on the door. Then I put his pants in the bag while I was holding him to pee.

I took him to the bathroom again in the airport once we arrived, and then he stayed dry on the hour-long drive home. I was so proud of us for making it work over such a long day! I’m excited for Jack to continue getting better at communicating and I’m sure when that happens he’ll be out of diapers soon. It will be nice to stop doing all that laundry :)

DIY organic fabric wall decals

organic fabric animals on jack's wall

organic fabric animals on jack’s wall

We transitioned Jack to his new room recently, and I have been excited to make the decor more child-friendly. The room used to be our office so it was pretty plain, and it has large sliding wooden doors for the closet so I decided to use wall decals on them. We live in an apartment so I didn’t want anything permanent, and of course I didn’t want any toxic vinyl decals, so I started looking up fabric ones. However, the ones I found online that were nontoxic like these were adorable but pretty expensive! Most of them also seem to be made of polyester (not the most natural) and use water-based glue which seems ok but didn’t have an ingredients list. So I looked into DIY options and was so excited to find a really natural alternative that is cheaper and still cute!

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the sheep and duckling

Materials:

  • cotton fabric
  • cornstarch
  • water
  • optional: some kind of brush or foam brush like these 

Directions:

  1. Look around online for inspiration of what you want to put on the wall. Once you decide, you can search for “silhouette” of the thing on google images and pick one you like to copy. For example I searched for “bird silhouette” to find some birds I liked that looked somewhat realistic.
  2. Find some fabric or use some that you already have. I used lightweight cotton which worked well. For the birds I used an old organic cotton pillowcase and for the animals I ordered organic cotton fabric online from here.
  3. Draw the designs onto your fabric and cut it out. I just used a pencil and looked at the picture and freehanded it onto the fabric. After I cut the design out I erased the visible lines with an eraser. You can try to cut slightly inside the lines to skip the erasing step. You could also print the image out and cut it out and trace it.
  4. Clean off your wall
  5. Get materials for cornstarch glue. The ratio of cornstarch to water I found worked best after trying several was 5 teaspoons cornstarch to 1/2 cup water. If your project is big, double the recipe. If you use too little cornstarch (I tried with 3 teaspoons first) the decal may come off when dry, but you can just try again with more). If you use too much it might look slightly white.
  6. Take your 1/2 cup of water and microwave it for about 1.5 minutes so it’s boiling or very hot
  7. Mix 5 teaspoons cornstarch with a little cold water just to dissolve it
  8. Add the cornstarch to the hot water and stir (if it’s really thick add a bit more water until it’s like dense water, but not like jello)
  9. For small fabric pieces pour the mixture onto a plate and dip both sides of the fabric in it, then place on the wall. For large ones paint the mixture on the wall, put fabric on top, and paint mixture over the fabric
  10. Smooth the fabric so there are no bubbles, and if there is fraying go around the edge and push it back into the fabric
  11. Clean up the drips with a rag or paper towel- don’t worry if it’s not perfect because it dries clear
  12. Let it dry overnight
  13. Watch your child get excited about his new art which is totally edible if he (like Jack) decides to lick his animal friends!
    the turtle and rabbit

    the turtle and rabbit

    Jack loves his new friends!

    Jack loves his new friends!

Review of baby paws soft soled shoes

Jack wearing his baby paws

Jack wearing his baby paws

When Jack started walking, I researched a lot of brands to find non-toxic soft soled shoes for babies. I previously reviewed SoftStar shoes which I liked for their leather shoes with rubber soles that work well in wet weather. However, for completely soft everyday shoes my favorite brand is Baby Paws. I didn’t get anything for writing this review, but I wanted to share information in case anyone else is looking.


Pros:

  • The shoes are made of formaldehyde-free nontoxic leather
  • They are also chromium-free and pass tests for  acetaldehyde and glutaraldehyde
  • They are hand made in Australia
  • Most of them have velcro which works well because you can customize the ankle opening size (Jack’s ankles were too chubby for moccasin style shoes!)
  • They are completely soft leather all around and are the closest things to socks I’ve tried
  • They are easy to put on (our soft stars with laces are a little more time consuming)

Cons:

  • Because they are so soft they wear out faster- ours got holes in about 2 months
  • The lighter colored shoes look dirty easily
  • They are a little pricey, but there are also often sales
  • The sizes only go up to 24 months (soft star goes up to adult)

Overall we have loved them and are on our 2nd pair already! Jack even brings me his shoes to put on when I say we are going for a walk.

Microwave miso soup

5.28miso

 

I love soup, and miso soup is really easy to make already, but this recipe is definitely the easiest ever! I can get it done in 5 minutes and have some nice fresh soup using only ingredients that store well.

I read recently that when you make miso soup it’s best not to heat the miso itself too much because it loses some of its health properties, so this recipe involves adding it in at the very end so it doesn’t boil or anything.

The ingredients are really flexible- you can add tofu, mushrooms, seaweed, scallions, or other veggies

The broth can also be fish broth, just water, or a little vegetable broth mixed with water

Ingredients:

2 cups of liquid (I did about 30% vegetable broth and the rest water). You can just fill waterver bowl you have mostly with liquid, it doesn’t have to be exact

1-2 tablespoons of miso depending how salty you like it

extras: a teaspoon of dried wakame flakes, rehydrated in water, a sliced mushroom, a few cubes of tofu etc

Directions:

1. Rehydrate the seaweed in some water if using

2. If you want to you can sautee some mushrooms or tofu and keep a bunch of it in the fridge so it’s ready to go, or just put it raw in the next step

3. Put everything but the miso in a bowl and microwave for 2-4 minutes, until it gets very hot

4. Meanwhile mix the miso with a little water in a separate small bowl to get rid of clumps

5. Add the miso watery paste to the soup and stir

Elimination communication update- staying dry at night!

IMG_2375 I have been doing elimination communication with Jack since he was a few weeks old, and now he is 17 months. Elimination communication involves following your baby’s cues for going to the bathroom and teaching them signals, but uses no external positive or negative reinforcement (no skittles for using the potty!). Babies are motivated to learn because no one naturally likes sitting in their own waste- we just train kids to be ok with it when using diapers.

Within the past month Jack really started understanding the sign language sign for “bathroom” and will do it if I ask him if he has to go! If he’s really involved in an activity he doesn’t like to stop for the bathroom (understandably!) but he uses the potty at least a few times per day. Yesterday he only had 2 wet diapers all day!

I was surprised to notice that in the last 4 days he has been waking up with his diaper totally dry, and then peeing in the potty. I never thought he could not pee at night at this age because he still breastfeeds often at night, and sleeps for about 11 hours. My husband and I were worried he was dehydrated initially, but he does breastfeed all the time, so I think he just naturally started staying dry at night. I’m excited about the diminishing laundry load!

I ordered Jack his first underwear yesterday which I’m excited about. I think we can try them around the house, but keep using diapers outside until he gets more consistent about communicating. I looked at several organic options, and chose these 100% organic cotton ones from Under The Nile. I heard they run big, so I hoe they fit! Hanna Andersson has some organic ones but they seemed too big based on reviews

under the nile trainers

under the nile trainers

Imse Vimse also had some I was thinking about because they had a layer of PUL which makes them more waterproof. I might order a pair and try them out as well

imse vimse organic trainers

 

I can’t believe how fast Jack is growing up! It really makes me want to savor every day with him (while he still wants to hang out with me!)