Saturday, April 13

Newborn "Must-haves" and "Don't-bothers"

When I was pregnant I studied up so much on what I need, what I really needed, for baby! With so many products out there it's hard to know which ones are going to make life with a newborn easier, and which ones will just give your self-deprived self a bigger headache!

In the end I still ended up with some things that I just didn't like or hardly used and other things which were truly life savers. Having come out on the other side (my son is now 5 months old) I'd like to pass on which products I'd most recommend you get and which ones I'd most recommend you pass on.

So without further ado, here are my newborn must-haves and don't-bothers!

Must-have: Swaddle Sacks

Wearable sleep sacks, aka swaddle sacks like this Halo SleepSack, are my number one must-have item for newborns! These bad boys will help keep baby's startle reflex under control and they stay on! By about 3 months my boy was able to Houdini one arm out but he never fully busted out of his sleep sacks!

Don't-bother: Swaddle Blankets

On the other hand, he was busting out of traditional swaddle blankets by the time we brought him home from the hospital! Didn't matter how tightly or masterfully we swaddled him, he could get out. And we found no other uses for them (although you may come up with some creative ones yourself). We were given a bunch as baby shower gifts and they've all hardly been used.

Must-have: Nose Frida

Its a new age for booger sucking thanks to the Nose Frida! This handy device allows you to suck boogers and snot right out of baby's nose. Which you'll probably need to do often during the first couple of months. And don't worry, you won't suck any snot into your mouth! The hygiene filter prevents that. You won't get their germs either.

Don't-bother: Bulb Syringe

These are the old school product used before Nose Frida came around. You'll probably get one from the hospital, no harm in keeping it just in case. But don't bother buying another one. They're a total waste as they hardly work for sucking out snot. The Nose Frida does a far better job! I even know a mom who used the Nose Frida to suck mucus out of her baby's throat when they couldn't breathe and a bulb syringe didn't help!

Must-have: Prefold Diapers

Prefold diapers are a fantastic multi-purpose item to have on hand! These quickly became my go-to burp cloths as they are thicker than regular burp cloths and super absorbent. They are also great to have on hand as backup diapers in case all your pocket diapers are dirty or you run out of disposables It happens!

Don't-bother: Receiving Blankets

Seriously, what are these even for? We have never used the ones we were given!

Must-have: Sleepers

Sleepers, especially ones that zip-up, will likely be your go-to outfit during the newborn months! You can get them thin for warm weather or thick for cold weather. They're a one-piece outfit that is easy to put on and easy for diaper changes! And no worries about tiny sock falling off.

Don't-bother: Fancy, multi-piece outfits

Save the 3-piece suit for when baby is a few months older. Dressing a tired, fussy newborn is never easy. Don't make it harder on yourself by selecting outfits with lots of different pieces and layers (unless of course, weather dictates it).

Must-have: A stockpile of wipes

Babies go through a lot of wipes! You'll use them for diaper changes, to clean their hands, to clean their faces, to clean up all kinds of messes. The great thing about wipes is they don't come in sizes and if you get a brand with minimal ingredients, like Water Wipes, then it is very unlikely that baby will have a bad reaction to them. My boy is now 5 months old and we're still going through the stockpile I squirreled away while pregnant. Its nice to not have to worry about running out.

Don't-bother: A stockpile of diapers

I know there are people who will disagree with me on this but I don't recommend stockpiling diapers. First of all, you don't know how your baby will react to them or which diapers you'll even like. Secondly, you don't know how many of each size you'll need. My boy was in newborn for two months! Your baby may be in size 1 from birth! You won't know until baby is here. So get a little bit in a few different sizes to have on hand but don't overdue it just yet.

And that's all! I wanted to keep this list brief because the truth is, you don't need a whole lot for a baby! They need clothing, shelther, food, love. Most everything else is extra.

Best of luck with your new bundle of joy!

Wednesday, February 6

January Book Report

Oh my goodness! It's been a full year since my last "book report". That's not to say I haven't read any books in a year. I read about 30 books last year. However, most were pregnancy and parenting related so I talked about them in other blog posts and thus didn't have many other books to talk about. I'm still ready my fair share of parenting books these days but I'm diversifying a lot more! And I've found that I have a LOT of time to read with a breastfeeding baby. I try to read when he nurses, when he naps (in my arms), and when he's sleeping at night before I turn in myself.

All that reading time added up to six books read last month. Which is the most I've read in one month in quite a long time! And I'm pleased to say they were all pretty good picks! So without further ado, here are the books that I read in January 2019 and what I thought of them.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay

The first book I read this year was Fantastic Beasts! I was lucky enough to have my mom babysit for us while she was in town so we were able to go out and see the movie last November. I am a huge Harry Potter fan so I had to read the screenplay as well. If you've seen the movie then you already know what the book is about so I won't bother with a recap. But I will say that if you are a die-hard fan like I am then it's well worth reading even if you already saw the movie. I find that I pick up small details that I missed in the movie. For example, did you know it was Credence's aunt who was with him on the boat and not his mother? The screenplay makes that clear, whereas the movie does not!

Rating: 10 out of 10! I cannot rate a Harry Potter book anything less.

Thug Kitchen 101: Fast as F*ck

If you loved the original Thug Kitchen cookbook then you'll love this one as well! It has tons of delicious recipes that, like those in the original, are easy to cook but this time they're even quicker to make. All the recipes are vegan/plant-based and all the ones that I tried were successful and yummy. I made the One-Pot Chickpea Biryani, Quinoa Taco Mix (which has since become a staple in our house!), Shredded Brussel Sprouts and Quinoa Pilaf, and Tofu Ricotta which I used in my own lasagna recipe. And there are still many more recipes which I intend to try.

Rating: 10 out of 10 would recommend these delicious recipes to a friend!

Wow! All I can really say is I learned so much from this book about the human body. The whole premise of The Obesity Code is to delve into the science behind WHY people gain weight and how they can make changes to lose it. Spoiler alert: Sugar makes you fat. Fung's basic argument is that its increased insulin caused by eating the wrong foods and eating them too often which causes the body to react in such a way that it stores excess fat. He then talks about how foods high in fat spike insulin the least and thus contrary to popular belief, fat does not make you fat. Since reading that I've been eating copious amounts of avocados (I'm not joking! haha). Fung also recommends intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight as when fasting your resting blood sugar levels, and thus the amount of insulin in your body, reduce the most and thus you will lose weight. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to test his theory since I'm breastfeeding. I did try giving up snacks for a few days as he recommends and I noticed a dip in my milk supply so I'm back to eating all the snacks my face can handle for now!

Rating: 8 out of 10. I found the book and the science behind it facinating. I only wish he had gotten to the point a bit faster. I felt like I was 75% of the way through the book before I actually got to learn what actually causes weight gain!

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day

The title really says it all. This book is dedicated to cheap recipes that will allow you to eat good, healthy food for just $4 a day or less. Why $4? Because this is the amount that people on SNAP benefits receive to eat off of each day. This is not a vegan cookbook but there were plenty of vegan or easily converted to vegan recipes in it!

Rating: 6 out of 10. I loved the premise of the book but most of the recipes were very basic ones which I already make or know how to make. But for someone who doesn't cook much and is on a budget, it could definitely be a worthwhile read!

The Registry

The Registry is a dystopian young adult novel set in a new America where all men must serve four years in the service upon turning 19 and all women are added to the registry upon turning 18. The "registry" is basically a catalog of brides which men may choose from to pay for a bride. Young women are given a price tag based on their looks and intelligence (book smarts anyways). The prettier and less educated a woman is, the more she costs and the highest bidder gets to marry her. At the start of the novel, we meet Mia as she is going through the process of being added to the registry, meeting a potential husband, and realizing that this is not at all the life she wants to live.

Rating: 9 out of 10. I really enjoyed this book! The concept is great. I only didn't give it 10 stars because I would have preferred a cleaner ending and it being a stand-alone book versus a series. Because now I have to read two more books to find out what ultimately happens to Mia!

One Dinosaur One Bullet

This book was a very quick and interesting read! In it, a group of game hunters travel back in time to hunt dinosaurs. It's supposed to be a safe, routine trip. Their guides have taken hunters back to the exact same spot at the exact same time dozens of times before to hunt. But when their return trip doesn't happen on time things start to go downhill and fast. 

Rating: 7 out of 10. It started to get a bit cheesy towards the end, things were working out a little too conveniently for certain characters to have their plotlines move forward. But overall it was a really fun and easy read and I do enjoy a good dinosaur and/or time travel book.

Into the Forest

This book was liking the longest I read in January but it was well worth the extra time. It is set in the near future as American society slowly crumbles and two sisters work together in their house in the forests, far from any town or city. What I loved most was that there wasn't any panic about the electricity no longer working or people losing their jobs. It all happened so slowly over the course of weeks and months and years that it just became a part of their new lives and in the end, no one could really say just when the change happened.

Rating: 8 out of 10. I would have given this book a 10 except for two things. One, [SPOILER ALERT] there was incest. Unnecessary incent at that. It did not further the plot at all, in my opinion, and could have easily been left out. Two, some things just worked out a little too conveniently, a little to well for the sisters. Sure they went through a lot of terrible things but it just felt like they were able to survive a little too easily and obtain knowledge and skills in order to survive with too much ease. If it were me, I'd have died eating a poisonous mushroom. haha

Bird Box: A Novel

You've seen the memes. You've, hopefully, seen the movie. Now it's time to read the book! I won't rehash the plot as I'm sure most are familiar with it. I will say, however, that there are enough differences between the movie and the book to keep things fresh and interesting! Some of the characters have different paths than what the movie showed and even Mallorie is a bit different (younger, less jaded). I read this book in the evenings in my dark bedroom while my baby slept. It was very creepy to read in the dark!

Rating: 10 out of 10. I really enjoyed the movie and I enjoyed the book just as much!

Tuesday, January 29

My Birth Story

When I was pregnant I loved reading other women's birth stories! It made me feel like I would be more prepared for my own birth experience. In the end though no about of videos, blog posts, or books could actually prepare me for what it was actually like! That being said I thought I'd still share my own birth story for those moms who are currently pregnant and curious about what it may be like for them. Best of luck to you!

I started getting cramps at 3pm Halloween, I was 38 weeks and 6 days pregnant. Nothing new there as I'd been experiencing cramping on and off for weeks. By 7pm they turned into contractions 20 minutes apart, again nothing new there. I'd experienced prodromal labor the week before so I didn't want to get my hopes up and went to bed like normal. Fast forward to 1:30am and I woke up because my contractions had gotten more intense. I started timing them and they were 5 minutes apart! At 3am I called the midwife, she told me to labor at home until they became closer together. By 5am they were 3 to 4 minutes apart so we headed up to Madison (an hour away). We got there at 6am and I was 3cm dilated. We hung out for a while, walking down the halls, bouncing on the birth ball, waiting to get to 5cm to be admitted. But 5 hours later I was still sitting at 3cm so they sent me home! They gave me Ambien before I left to help me relax and sleep between contractions. So I slept most of the hour ride home, waking whenever a contraction came and then napped at home for a few hours in between contractions until the Ambien wore off. By then the contractions had gotten even more intense but I was scared to make the trip back to Madison only to be sent home again so we ordered pizza and waited. By 5pm the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and I just couldn't stand the idea of staying home anymore or making the trip back to Madison so we decided to go to the hospital here in Beloit, knowing they didn't have the amenities I wanted to encourage a natural birth.

When we got to the hospital my OB was on staff for the evening! And he was definitely surprised to see me there (since I'd made my intentions clear that I'd be going to Madison!). He checked me and declared that I was 5cm. Thank God!! BUT he then said he had actually stretched my cervix to a 5 so I could be admitted. So actually I was very likely STILL at 3cm, after 15 1/2 hours of laboring (counting from 1:30am). After that and realizing I still had a long way go and no nitrous oxide to help me cope, I decided to get an epidural. But it took 2 hours to get it because they had to run bloodwork first and give me at least half an IV bag of fluids! Once I finally got the epidural it didn't work fully on my left side so for the rest of the time I labored I was propped up slightly on my right side to help the drugs get to my left side more (which luckily worked!). Half an hour after I got the epidural my OB checked me again and I was 9cm!!! So it took 15 1/2 hours plus some help to get to 5cm and then just 2 1/2 hours to get to 9cm, go figure. It took a few more hours to get to 10cm but once there I got wheeled into a bigger room. They were very busy that night so I was in a small overflow room the whole time until I reached 10cm and they had a big room empty (they wanted me in the big room to give the nurses and doctor more space, I was lying in a bed so I didn't care!).

Then it was time to push!! It took 1 hour and 45 minutes - I know because there was a clock directly in front of me and I watched every slow minute tick by. Rowen's head couldn't get past my pelvic bone so we basically had to wait for his skull to mold around it. Then once he was crowning my doctor announced that was going to tear and needed an episiotomy, literally the one thing (besides a c-section) that I wanted to avoid!! But in the moment I was so ready for it to be over that I didn't say no. After the episiotomy, he came right out!!!

I honestly don't remember much of his first two hours. They immediately put him on my chest and I just cried for a while. Then he latched on like a pro (and tricked me into thinking we'd have an easy time at breastfeeding haha). Aside from that, it's all a blur. But those 23 1/2 hours of misery and hard work vanished and I felt nothing but elation and love. He was 6lbs 12oz and 19 inches long, smaller than expected!

After that my postpartum recovery sucked. My arms were sore for days from pulling myself up to push, my back hurt for days from the epidural, my stitches still hurt 9 days later, and that's not the half of it. (I'll be making a post soon about postpartum life!) But despite all that and despite the fact that my birth plan went to total shit (the only part that went as plan was our golden hour, which really was the most important part!) I'm at peace with it. In the end, I have my healthy little boy and I'll recover and be just fine in a few more weeks. It was all worth it. And I won't be doing it again! haha

Sunday, January 27

Third Trimester Survival Guide

I'm almost done with my fourth trimester (the first three months postpartum) and the past 12 weeks have truly been a blur! I've been so busy taking care of my newborn that I never got a chance to write about how my third trimester went and how I coped with the new, and some old, symptoms and the tricks I learned and used to help ease them. But better late than never!

So without further ado and without any further delay...

Here is my Third Trimester Survival Guide!

Back Pain

This was probably the most uncomfortable symptom I experienced during the third trimester and the one I worked hardest to alleviate. Some of the things which helped me most were the following:

  1. Lumbar Support Pillow - This was a godsend! I didn't sit anywhere without it.
  2. Warm baths - Enjoy as many as you can! Not only are they relaxing and help relieve back and pelvic pain but you probably won't get to enjoy them much for a while once the baby is born.
  3. Maternity Belt - A supportive maternity belt can help relieve the extra weight caused by your growing bump which can help relieve your back.

Frequent Need To Urinate

As your bump grows bigger it will place increasing pressure on your bladder! Here is how I avoided having any "wardrobe malfunctions".

  1. Frequent bathroom breaks - A frequent need to urinate means frequent trips to the bathroom! I planned ahead and tried to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes in order to head off any mishaps,
  2. Pantyliners - In case I couldn't make it to the bathroom in a timely manner, I wore pantyliners 24/7! In my opinion, these are a must-have during the final two weeks or so of pregnancy. They're also great to have on hand for postpartum spotting later on!


By far the least glamorous symptom of late pregnancy, in my opinion. These puppies got considerably worse postpartum. So if you already have them, stock up on supplies now!

  1. Hemorrhoid cream - Preparation-H is a must-have! It will help to reduce the swelling of the hemorrhoids/
  2. Epsom salts baths and sitz baths - Not only are these relaxing but they too will help to reduce the swelling of the hemorrhoids.
  3. Tucks Pads - These can be used to help clean yourself in the bathroom or in more serious cases to line your pantyliner. The cooling pad and astringent witch hazel help to relieve discomfort.


As your pregnancy progresses its normal to feel more and more tired (up until that much desired "nesting" period). The best thing you can do is to take things easy and rest up. Here is how I tried to manage the exhaustion.

  1. Get more rest - Naps! If you can, aim for at least one nap a day. Also, try to head to bed earlier. In my final trimester I was going to sleep at 9pm every night, much earlier than I previously had.
  2. Lower expectations - At a certain point in my pregnancy I came to terms with the fact that I just wasn't going to keep up with everything around the house at the same standards as before and just had to let some things go. Luckily, once that nesting urge and energy struck (which is did several days before I went into labor) I was able to catch up on all the things I had let slack for several weeks.
  3. Reduced hours at work - I all but quit my job in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Throughout my pregnancy, I switched from full-time to part-time to on-call to "don't call". I had fast-paced and highly demanding job and luckily was able to take a step back from it. If at all possible for you, consider reducing your work hours or workload load, if needed.

These were far from my only symptoms during the third trimester. I also experienced heartburn, pelvic pain, sciatica, and more which I covered in previous articles on the First and Second trimesters of pregnancy. Click the links to there how I coped with those and other symptoms of pregnancy as they cropped up.

Although all of these symptoms were unpleasant, and I certainly do not miss them, the great thing about them is they are all temporary!! And almost all of them disappeared immediately upon the birth of my son. So if you're in the thick of it, hang in there. The end is very near and it will all become so worth it once your little bundle of joy arrives.

Thursday, August 30

15 Delicious Vegan Breakfast Recipes Roundup

It's the most important meal of the day! And perhaps the most delicious. It's breakfast! The typical American breakfast isn't particularly vegan-friendly (bacon and eggs? No, thanks!). But with a few tweaks, you can have even the most traditional fare with a vegan twist. Whether you're into savory or sweet, these recipes are great any time of the day, brinner anyone?

Perfectly Fluffy Vegan Biscuits

Try these with vegan butter, jam, or even gravy!

Bean, Potato, & Veggie Breakfast Skillet

This delicious skillet meal is a whole breakfast in just one pan.

Tofu Scramble

My personal favorite thing to eat for breakfast! Add a bit of black salt for that classic sulphuric, eggy taste.

Vegan Rice Paper Bacon

They don't call it "life-changing" for nothing!

Light & Fluffy Vegan Pancakes

My go-to breakfast for lazy Sunday mornings or for dinner when I don't know what else to eat! I can't get enough of pancakes during this pregnancy. haha

Easy Vegan French Toast

Thought you couldn't have French Toast as a vegan? Think again!

Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

This yummy bowl is packed with protein and a fun texture change from traditional oatmeal.

Protein-Packed Vegan Breakfast Burrito

Upgrade your tofu scramble by turning it into a burrito!

The Perfect Vegan Banana Bread

When those bananas are too ripe to be eaten, it's time for banana bread.

Chickpea Flour Omelette Muffins (Vegan Egg Cups)

Chickpea flour is well known for making vegan omelets. In this fun recipe its used for vegan egg cups!

Vegan Pecan Pie Poptarts

A must-try!

Amazing Blueberry Muffins

The perfect recipe for when blueberries are on sale!

Vegan Apple Cider Donuts

Everyone local to me is freaking out about the local apple orchards opening up because it means apple cider donut season is starting! This vegan version will allow you to join in on the fun too.

Vegan Breakfast Bagel Sandwich

McDonald's who?

Overnight Chia Pudding

Prep the night before and run out the door with this easy overnight pudding!

Which recipes will you be trying for breakfast this week?!

*This collection of recipes is meant to serve as a resource to help you find vegan breakfast recipes from many talented bloggers around the web. The photos used in this post belong to bloggers who are linked in the corresponding recipes.

Thursday, August 23

Pregnancy Reading List

I am a planner. A researcher. Maybe a little bit of a control freak. In my mind knowledge truly is power. The more knowledge I feel I have the more in control and I feel and the better I can plan, at least in theory. Pregnancy is definitely a whole new life chapter and one which I knew very little about going into it. Which meant I had to hit the books and acquire some knowledge! The following is a list of the pregnancy-related books that I have read so far (I've also read several parenting and childbirth books which I will list in separate posts in the future) along with what I thought of them.

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!

If you read only one pregnancy book then let it be this one! This was actually the first pregnancy book I read and I really felt like most of the ones I read after where just rehashing what I'd already learned, maybe with a different spin on it.

The Mayo Clinic guide gives you a full run-down, from preconception through birth, of what's going on inside your body and with your baby, month by month and week by week. It tells you about all the symptoms you can expect to experience and well as any potential complications.

One thing I appreciated about this book was that it covered pregnancy loss. I actually started reading this book during my last pregnancy and I was grateful for that section when I did experience a miscarriage as it's not something that many books cover.

Another book which I definitely would recommend is 'The Kind Mama' by Alicia Silverstone. Alicia is a fellow vegan and in this book, she explains how a vegan lifestyle can improve your chances of conception and your health during pregnancy. She also discusses many of the medical procedures which you will be offered during your pregnancy and immediately after your baby's birth and offers a different opinion than what you are likely to hear from other books which may be more medical based or choose to take an unbiased approach. Alicia is definitely biased towards a natural approach and while I didn't agree with her opinions on many things, it did prompt me to do my own research about several different topics and thus I was able to come to a truly informed decision for myself and my baby. And if for no other reason than that, I would definitely recommend this book. She also offers some interesting recipes for you to try!

Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-to-Be

Not a must-read but definitely a fun read if you were a drinker, like me, prior to pregnancy. This book offers cocktails inspired recipes for pregnant mamas so you can still feel like you're having a fancy drink after a hard day of making a baby! There are also recommendations for how to make the drinks alcoholic for dad or for yourself once you're able to drink again!

The Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide

This short book is a great primer for how to have a healthy vegan pregnancy. It doesn't go into what's going on with you and your baby so much like many other pregnancy books, instead focusing mainly on nutrition. Unfortunately, there's still a very common mistaken belief that you cannot have a healthy pregnancy or baby while living a vegan lifestyle. That is simply untrue and this book will help you to be the healthiest mama you can be so you can have the healthiest baby possible, and you might just learn the knowledge you need to shut down the naysayers too, a win-win!

What to Expect When You're Expecting

The classic! No pregnancy book list would be complete without 'What To Expect When You're Expecting'! After reading 'The Mayo Clinic's Guide' I didn't really feel like I needed to read this book as it similarly went over what happens with your body and baby week by week and month by month. However, I did like the question and answer layout of this book. It made it a bit more conversational and personal to read. This book really leaves just about nothing out and at some point or another will likely cover just about all of your pregnancy-related questions! I still would recommend 'The Mayo Clinic's Guide' first but this one definitely gets a high recommendation from me as well.

While this book could definitely be considered more of a parenting book than a pregnancy book, I'm choosing to include it in this list because it includes advice about many of the items that'll you'll be buying for baby while pregnant! Therefore, if you're wanting to purchase environmentally friendly and safe products for your baby I'd recommend reading this book while pregnant, before you already have a nursery stocked with non-green things. 'Green Baby' covers everything from diapers to toys to baby food and is a very good primer for green living with a baby. I'm no purist so I definitely haven't followed all of the advice in the book but it did open my eyes to many of the things to look out for when making choices about what to buy for my baby.

I'm going to be honest, I didn't actually finish this book - which is a given considering I haven't been pregnant/had my baby for a year yet! But still, I wanted to recommend this book anyways for anyone who feels like there's just so much to do and so little time to do it. This book breaks down the steps you need to take each week and each month during your pregnancy and the first few months with baby to help make sure everything gets done and that your life isn't in total chaos. Some weeks the tasks are easy, some weeks they're a bit more work, and some weeks they're fun (like going shopping!). So if you're feeling overwhelmed with preparing for baby, consider giving this book a read.

So that covers it! Those are the pregnancy-related books that I've read to give me an idea of what the heck is going on with my body during this pregnancy and how my baby is developing. Now that I'm in my third trimester I've switched over to reading natural childbirth books, which I will most definitely do a list on in the future.

What pregnancy books have you read that you'd recommend to a friend? Comment below and let us know!