August 22, 2018

What To Do When You’re An Introvert And A Mom

I am an introvert. However, I’m one of those sneaky ones that has the capabilities of being an extrovert when the situation calls for it—a gathering for work, hosting a party, meeting a new person where it’s very important that I make a personable impression— so not everyone is aware how much of an introvert I really am if they’ve mostly seen me in those situations. It’s not that I’m being fake in the instances above, it just that it’s taking every once of “people strength” I have to make it until that moment when I can be alone again and just be quiet and recharge from all that energy that it took to be personable for more than .3 seconds. When I was a kid, I would have friends over to play but my older sister would end up entertaining them because I was up in my room reading while my playmates wandered around downstairs. When my now sister-in-law Sarah met me in person for the first time after only interacting with me online for a year or so, she just kept saying she was surprised at how “quiet” I actually was in person. Even though I know that’s probably true it still surprises me to hear that from other people for some reason. And girls, any of you other naturally quiet or keep-to-yourself-in-public kind of personalities know that most of the time you will be typecast as a “bitch” by most people if you don’t immediately smile and offer every stranger you see a glass of homemade sweet tea, am I right?? Anyways, I digress, but this is my normal world as an introvert.

Then I had a baby! And guess what?

I’m still an introvert.

Want to know the cruelest thing you can do a person that tries their absolute hardest to not make eye contact or engage in conversations with strangers in public? Give them a baby. Send them out everywhere they go with a cute baby because who wants to talk to or about a cute baby?? Everyone. Literally everyone now wants to talk to you. I always prayed Lola would fall asleep when I took her out in her stroller partially because that makes shopping easier but mostly because I could put the cover over her stroller and no one could see how beautiful and cute she was and then I didn’t have to tell the lady behind me in line at Starbucks everything about her from her birth weight to her middle name.

And now that she’s an adorable toddler not only do I have the cutest baby on the planet, but I have one that loves to wave at everyone and walk right up to people allowing the conversations to start before I can even get over to where she is. People, who are not within talking distance of us, will frequently shout their assessments of how adorable she is, yell questions about her, or just bellow out how much she looks just like her Daddy (which she does). My beautiful baby is a riptide of social interactions and no life jacket can save me now…

All that to say, I don’t think there’s much I can do about the new “in public” part of my Motherhood. Babies are a magnet so if you don’t want to interact with strangers, you should probably just stay home. There are however, some observations I’ve made about my introvert Motherhood here at home:

1. I’m not the “fun” parent—before you say “Aww, no! Of course you’re just as fun as Todd, don’t even say that” it’s OK. I promise. I’ve given up feeling bad that I’m not as fun as Todd is because Todd IS very fun! He’s naturally over-the-top silly, carefree, and makes a game out of everything. He’s great! He’s being himself. I know that I have my silly/fun/carefree moments with Lola too, but I don’t have to keep them coming one after the other just to try and keep up with Dad. Let him do his thing and I’ll do “fun Mom” in my own way.

2. I make space for (some) silence—I know all the baby experts go on and on about how babies should hear a billion words a day to help their brains grow and you should narrate everything you do throughout the day to them and while I tried to do that, I just couldn’t keep up. It felt so unnatural to speak constantly, whether that’s to a tiny baby or a full grown adult, that I felt like I could never meet whatever goal they had set for me. Reading books aloud was good (grown-up books too, not just kid books) since that helped take the pressure off me a bit to think of interesting conversation topics. Who worries about running out of things to talk to their baby about? Me. And I want to talk to Lola and explain things to her, tell her what we are doing and teach her things as play, but also, sometimes we just go on a walk and say nothing—just listening to some pretty music or what birds are singing—and that’s ok with me. Or I’ll sit nearby and read while she plays with lots of smiles, kisses, and glances thrown in throughout—but it’s mostly rather quiet. Just both of us doing our own thing while having the pleasure of doing it together. Besides, maybe she’s an introvert as well and needs that quiet time for herself to recharge too.

3. I’m “Morning Mommy” for a bit each day—I know it’s not true for every extrovert, but I’ll just say that the biggest extroverts I’ve known over the years were all morning people. I’ve had some of them literally leaping into my room in the morning singing some loud and cheerful song like a dopy lunatic and I’ve wanted to punch them in the face. I need some time to wake up in the morning before I’m ready for songs and games but Lola is one of those babies that wakes up at 100% percent and is ready to go so doesn’t quite need that time for herself. I know some Moms will wake up before the kids get up to have that time to themselves, but lately Lola’s been a 6:15ish morning girl and I just can’t fathom getting up before her for any reason that trumps a few more minutes of sleep. Anyways, I’m a bit more subdued each morning until my coffee cup is getting low and at times I’ve felt bad about that (shouldn’t I be singing and opening her curtains in the morning with Disney songbirds to hold back the panels?) but you know what? It’s fine. I try not to be grumpy and I figure if I can at least be sleepy and slow, but sweet, then I think we’ll both be able to greet the day happily.

4. It’s ok to keep social interactions short—Sometimes I feel bad pulling her away from a stranger that’s talking to her or going the opposite direction from someone that I’m pretty sure will want to gush all over her, but it’s really not something I need to worry much about. There will always be more people for her to meet around the corner and we don’t have to so the Seinfeld stop-and-chat with every person we pass by. Usually when you are out with a toddler you are on a mission anyways so it’s ok to be more focused and throw smiles and toddler waves as you go past people in a flash so they’ll say, “I think that was a really cute baby, but they went by too fast to be sure…”

Anyways, these are a few of the things that I think about in connection to Motherhood and my introvert status. If you’ve had any of the same experiences, leave an anonymous comment below after you recharge from your last social interaction, or, just give a silent nod of solidarity from the comfort of your own personal space and I’ll feel that too…

INTROVERTS UNITE! (Quietly and separately of course)

xo. Laura

P.S. If you neeeeed that shirt, you can get it here. Also, here’s a similar skirt, and I loove those boots (especially after I painted some gold stars on them).

P.P.S. All the above aside, if you do ever see me out and want to say hello, please do! I promise I’m nice (usually!) and not as cranky as I sound—ha!

July 30, 2018

Summer Beach Day!

Who is that teenager above that we took to the beach!? What a big girl! We visited my Pittsburgh family last weekend for a rare summer time visit (usually we are there in winter for Christmas) and while we had a classic Pittsburgh weather pattern of at least some rain everyday, we still got in some fun activities before (and during!) the showers. We took Lola to Lake Erie so that she could have some beach time and it was pretty clear rather quickly that she was having the time of her life! The sand, the waves, the seagulls, the endless supply of crackers and fruit my Mom brought—happy girl!! Lola’s sweet suit is so adorable! I just wish I had known that the darker colored lake sand would get intertwined with the suit fabric and create small spots all over her suit that make it look perpetually dirty—anyone know how to get that out?? It’s probably good that I didn’t see this suit before the trip or I don’t think I could have stopped myself—and it has a matching cap? Too cute.

Aaaaand you guys I know have seen me a ton in those heart sunnies this summer. I actually tried to order the tan/nude color to take with me on the trip before I left but I didn’t quite get the order in in time so they were waiting for me when I got back—oh well! Definitely my piece of the summer. That’s my brother Joel in the pink trunks (I love that he reps pink—his blogger wife has taught him well). It’s ok, you can say it, we look nothing alike and we know it! People have thought my sister and I were twins at certain ages, but no one has every thought Joel was related to me—ha!! Aren’t those high-waisted striped bottoms so cute on Aunt Sarah? (similar here) They also had matching sunnies as well to catapult them into the cuteness hall of fame.We ordered this beach tent for the trip and it was totally worth it! It pops up in a snap and closes again quickly (although you may want to rinse the sand out and dry before storing for the off season). We played cards in it for a while while we had some lighter pop up showers on the beach while everyone else scurried for the tree line or their cars and at one point we had 5 adults and one toddler in it (although we were sitting very close together, but, hey, we’re family!).

I also took this coverup tee for the swim sessions (super comfy! I’ll wear it around the house for sure too). I ordered this palm one but if felt a little too fancy for the lake so I left it at home but I’ve been wearing it around our pool at home and as a flowy kimono to go out in.

I will say that the flights getting to Pittsburgh were a bit tough since 14 months is such a rough age to fly with. She just wanted to be down and walking and didn’t understand why she couldn’t at times and she’s not at the age where she will watch videos with headphones (especially on a small phone screen). We let her stand on the floor between our legs when we could and tried to get her to transfer things from the seat pockets (which worked for a bit) but she was basically only happy if she was eating so we tried to feed her one puff at a time for 90 minutes to keep her from screaming and flailing—fun!! I’ve heard good suggestions since then about giving kids that age post-it notes to stick on everything or putting small snacks in those milti-window pill boxes so it takes them forever to eat all them…totally trying that next time! All in all, still better than driving 18 hours with a toddler that hates her carseat for sure!

It’s always so good to see my family and soak in their love and watch them love on Lola now too. We have a family vacation planned with everyone in my immediate family in October in Ashville, NC so I can’t wait to do that with the whole gang this time!

xo. Laura

July 16, 2018

Whatever Lola Wants

Look at that stylish Baby Elton John—what a cutie! She’s got every color of the Oui Fresh toddler sunnies, so she’s quite the spoiled baby these days! And that gold swimsuit?? Girlfriend is killing it (according to her Mom anyways!). Here’s what else I’ve been loving for her:

-We’ve been making lots of popsicles for Lola in these this summer (so nice to find some non-plastic ones too) out of green smoothies and it’s a great way to get her to have some greens since she’s not a huge fan of just eating them alone. They are also a great thing to give a teething baby so I think that’s another reason she likes them so much as they help soothe her irritated molars.

-I’m not always a huge lace person, but I think Lola would be so cute in this look

-Trying to find some non-plastic sippy cup options since we weaned off the baby bottle/bottle nipple and I’m looking at giving these a try. I did get one of these tops to fit their corresponding glass baby bottle, and while I do like that you can put an insert in the bottle to restrict the flow if they drink liquid too fast, the first top broke within a few moments of her having it since she has to hurl everything to the floor (especially if she’s upset because she’d rather have a regular bottle). They come two in a pack, but I was still hoping they’d be a little less fragile.

This is definitely in my cart for cooler summer nights.

-I’ve been thinking about getting her something like this to play with in our den. She may be a little small for it now, but she loves opening doors and moving items from one spot to another, so I think she would at least like to unpack all the play food items in it even if she doesn’t quite know what cooking is yet!

-I wish this fit her for a pool coverup! And she can wear this underneath to swim…I thought I had found the cutest rashguard ever last episode, but I think this may have topped it!

-Speaking of swimsuits, this site has so many Mom/Baby swimsuits and I LOVE IT! This is my top contender so far for sure…

-I don’t think they have summer disco parties for babies, but if they did I would definitely dress her in this and take her to one!

-This little embroidered top would be so cute with a striped diaper cover underneath.

We are taking Lola to the “beach” this week with my family. It’s actually Lake Erie in Pennsylvania, not quite the Caribbean, but it’s close enough! We used to go there all the time as kids and I haven’t been back since so it will be fun to share that memory with Miss Lola in tow. Now, I just need to fit a sand bucket and pail into my carry on…

xo. Laura

July 10, 2018

Plant-Based and Vegan Meal Ideas for Baby-Led Weaning

I’ve been saying for months that I was going to write this post and I finally did! It can feel really challenging to figure out what to feed a baby if it’s your first time being a parent (or first time doing Baby-Led weaning) and it seems even more challenging if you like to eat vegan or plant-based like we do most of the time. After we realized that we wanted to try Baby-Led weaning and started our journey with that this fall, it helped me a lot to read what meal ideas others made for their babies so here are a few of our mealtime staples that we gathered over our first 6 months of baby-led weaning in case it’s helpful to you!

Baked Oatmeal fingers:

1 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ripe mashed banana
2 tablespoon ground flax seed
2 tablespoon chia seed
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

Cook 1 cup of rolled oats according to package directions until they are a little on the dry side (you don’t want them to still appear really wet). Mix in all the other ingredients and press and smooth into an oiled 8″ x 8″ baking pan. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes, flip the oatmeal square over in the pan with a spatula and then bake for at least 10 minutes more. Cut info fingers and store in a container in the fridge.

Tofu Scramble: Just go easy on the spices until you know what they can handle and I don’t use salt and skip the vegan cheese on her portion

Chickpea patties
: these are great to make in batches for meals for the rest of the week.

Whole Grain Pancakes: also great to make in batches, skip topping with butter and syrup and add blueberries to the mix.

Red sauce with whole grain fusilli noodles: Still Lola’s favorite meal! This is our favorite red sauce to make by far and the fusilli noodles are easier for them to grasp.

Quinoa Poblano Corn Cakes: recipe from this book (they also have a Southwest Veggie Burger recipe I make for her too)

Rice and bean bowl: mix brown rice with any beans (try and get unsalted beans) in a pot with a little dash of water, heat with some seasonings like cumin, paprika, and chili powder and add some other veggies like tomato, avocado, and cilantro on top when warm.

Baked sweet potato and steamed veggie of choice: cut sweet potatoes longways into 4 big wedges so they bake faster in oven, cover lightly in avocado or olive oil  or coconut oil and bake at 375° for 30 min or until soft. You can add spices or a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg before baking. I like to steam veggies in this with about 1″ of water in the pan under it. Once the water boils, I turn it down to a simmer, add the basket with cut veggies, and then simmer with the lid on for 10-15 min until soft. I add some spices onto the veggies in the basket as well (dill is great on steamed veggies).

Avocado or hummus toast: it’s best to toast bread a little bit when first introducing it (although some wait until 1 year of age to add any gluten) since lightly toasted bread is a little easier to eat and won’t stick to the roof of their mouth. Lola like’s to scrape off all the toppings and then eat the bread, but as long as she eats it, I don’t care what order it’s in. Also, make the hummus at home without salt if you can or try and find a low sodium version as there can be a lot of hidden salt in hummus.

Quinoa falafel patties: I do this recipe with flax eggs instead of real eggs and I make them into patties instead of balls so you only have to use a little oil for frying.

Green smoothies: This one I don’t really have a recipe for because there are already a million and one green smoothie recipes on the internet you can find so just choose one you like! If baby can drink through a straw already, then you can just put it in a cup for them to drink (we used this cup to straw-train her recently but you’d probably need to move to more this type of thing for a thicker smoothie) but if they aren’t ready or interested in a straw yet, you can pop your smoothie mixture into these and make popsicles! Lola finishes a popsicle that’s too packed with greens for my taste in a matter of minutes so it’s been a great trick for us.

The “I-Have-No-Idea-What-To-Make” meal: This is basically when you are out of ideas or brain power to create something clever and you just open some beans, add spices, and pair it with steamed/baked/raw veggies. It feels like a total cheat meal since it takes such little effort but it’s still good for her so no guilt here! I always keep some type of bean (black and chic peas are good ones for Lola) in the pantry and veggies so that this is always an option.

Just a few general tips! Go slow with spices, add a little at first and then more and more as you see they can handle it. We pretty much do a fruit desert at every meal and try to do different things each time so she gets a variety of fruit throughout the week. If she’s ever not interested in eating a new food or a food I know she likes, if we take a few bite of her food and show that we really enjoy it, she almost always starts eating it immediately so that trick usually works on her. The overall end goal of Baby-Led Weaning is that they are eating the same meal that you are so they have a wide range of tastes and you don’t have to cook two things each meal, so sometimes the above meals were things we were all eating (with the salt and spice level adjusted on her portion) and other times we wanted to eat something she couldn’t handle yet so we would make her a different thing.

If you are new to Baby-Led-Weaning, you can read more about how we started our journey but I would definitely recommend reading this book before you start so that you feel familiar with all the age appropriate food-guidelines and what foods to avoid until they are older. Hope this was helpful for you!

xo. Laura

June 28, 2018

Cloth Diaper Problem Solving

*This post was sponsored by Tide purclean and all opinions are my own—thanks for helping to support this blog and our family!

Most of you probably know by now that we use cloth diapers with Lola and have since she was about 2 months old. While it took a bit for us to figure out our favorite kinds of diapers and our wash routine we hit a pretty good stride where we really didn’t have any problems at all with our diapers until just a few months ago. All of the sudden Lola kept getting persistent rashes and we couldn’t figure out where they were coming from. We tried experiments with avoiding certain foods (especially more acidic ones) and switched to disposables for a bit and we finally concluded that it was something with the diapers (most likely our wash routine) that was bothering her all of the sudden. We never had any smell in our diapers, but we decided to strip them and start over with a different detergent (we were using a free-and-clear conventional brand at that point) to see if that would help—which it did! But only for a short amount of time. We started having stink issues with the new all-natural detergent and even though we tried to tweak more things like the temperatures we washed on or adding in towels to the load as well to trick the HE washer into adding more water (thinking that maybe all the detergent wasn’t rinsing out) but we are still having the ammonia smell issue.

Anyways, we’ve been in the thick of trying to figure our next move when Tide contacted me and asked if I wanted to partner with them to try their new Tide purclean detergent that is a 65% USDA certified plant-based detergent that still has the cleaning power of Tide even in cold water (you can purchase the detergent here). They have an unscented version (which is good since we try to avoid added fragrance whenever we can) that also is free of dyes, chlorine, and phosphates, and as an added bonus the purclean is made with 100% renewable wind power electricity at a site that sends zero manufacturing waste to a landfill. Needless to say, I love all those points about the product and we obviously need to find a solution to our problem in order to keep continuing the duration of diapering with cloth, so we’ve decided to give it a try!

We’ve only had the chance to do one full wash routine with the new detergent but so far the diapers look and smell clean so I think we are off to a good start (they have some tips for using purclean in your wash routine here)! It really can take a bit to know when you try a new detergent how well it’s working (and sometimes you have to tweak a few things before your wash routine clicks into place) so I’ll update my main post on diapering after we give the purclean a proper try but I’m hopeful this we’ll be a solution to our diaper problems!

I’m really happy to see large companies start to respond to consumers desires for more green and natural choices (with less waste in the process as well) so I hope that this is something that we will continue to see more of across the board in all areas. If you haven’t cloth diapered before, I promise that it’s not as scary as it sounds and it’s a great way to save lots of money and keep a pile of disposables out of landfills as well. Give it a try!

xo. Laura