Monday’s Mama is Extra AF.

This Monday I would like to introduce another of my real life blogging friends.

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Heather of Lez B Vegan Moms is many things. Her blog name kind of clues us all in to the fact that she is a lesbian, a vegan, and a mom. But I bet you didn’t know that she knows ALL THE WORDS to Ice Ice Baby. Or that her idea of ‘Saturday morning cartoons’ is a mini-marathon of Gilmore Girls. Or that she brings themed toddler cups to playdates.

Like, no joke.

See that one on the right? She brought those along when we went to Dinosaur Land. SO. EXTRA.

Heather answered some of my nosy questions.

1. Vegan AND lesbian? Which of those gets more raised eyebrows in 2017? And why don’t you have a cat? Are you allergic or something?  

Yes, that’s right. Vegan AND lesbian. I also drive a Subaru (actually we’re a two Subaru family) so I am a walking cliché. Veganism definitely raises more eyebrows, especially when your kid is also vegan. We do not have a cat because I am allergic. Plus I am what you would call a dog person. I gush at dogs like I am looking at the cutest baby in the world.

2. Is there anything difficult about having a vegan toddler? Anything easy? What are you going to do if she wants to eat pepperoni pizza (or whatever non-vegan food seems appealing) someday?

 Raising a vegan toddler has been easy. Our household has been vegan for about six years so we are completely comfortable and informed. Our daughter eats what we eat; she is not a picky eater at all. We talk about what we choose not to eat in very simple terms. Right now she accepts our explanation without argument. When I have to say no to something she wants to try, I always find a substitute for her or make it at home. She talks about herbivores and knows we don’t buy things with cow’s milk.
(Y’all, Darlene here. This is so true. I brought donuts to Nook one day that she and her toddler were there. The very next day, Babystar and I went to her house and Heather had made Rice Krispie treats BUT SHAPED LIKE DONUTS. So. EXTRA.)

I know she will be curious one day about the things she has never tasted. By that time she will know and understand the whys of veganism. But she will probably still have that bite one day. What I hope is that she does not keep it a secret or feel she can not talk about it with her vegan moms.

3. What is your favorite family holiday tradition? What is something that you skip?

Our favorite family holiday tradition is making holiday themed art to hang around the house while wearing matching pajamas, watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and drinking hot chocolate with a peppermint stick accent. From October 1st to January 1st, I am a decorating, crafting, baking, Christmas song listening nightmare.  Yes, I was listening to Christmas music this week…It was Kelly Clarkson too. We skip a big Christmas Day dinner because we don’t want to spend all Christmas Day cooking and cleaning in the kitchen.

4. It’s the PTA Bakesale. Handmade, store-bought, or nope?

Handmade. I am a pretty good vegan baker. I always wondered how my grandmother always had the items in her pantry to whip up a cake but it was because she did so often. I have reached Master Level Pantry Status and I couldn’t be prouder.
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Heather tweets and blogs and posts THE CUTEST pictures on Instagram. You should totally follow her. You don’t have to be a vegan. Or a lesbian. It’s totally fine if you drink heterosexual cow’s milk. But. She will teach you how to make your own rice milk if you prefer because SO EXTRA.

I Took the Munchkin to Oz.

You guys, Emerald City is in Maryland.

Oz Emerald City

I made up a fun new game called Let’s Find a New Playground. Just kidding. It’s not fun or new and I didn’t make it up. But it is a HIT among my target audience of one specific ToddlerMonster.

We might live in the best area on earth for this particular game. I cannot be sure. I have only had a toddler in one other place. The D.C. area beats Jacksonville, Florida quite soundly at this game. Sorry, Jacksonville. It’s not personal. But, um, get more and better parks. (I know; you have the beach. Let’s call it a tie.)

OMG LOOK AT THIS AWESOME PLAYGROUND.

Not only is it pretty because it is FREAKING OZ, it is a really FUN playground. There are so many cool climbing structures and slides and swings and fun for big kids and fun for little kids and we love it. (You saw the Ruby Slipper slides, right? Look. There are totally Ruby Slipper slides right there.)

Babystar and her friend had snacks in Dorothy’s house. So cute. Thanks Auntie Em!

I totally saw one kid dressed as Dorothy and a set of twins dressed as Emerald City munchkins. Because obviously. (I might have to buy a Dorothy costume if I can find one on sale after Halloween. Does anyone have a 3T Dorothy dress? Please forward; thank you.)

This amazing Wizard of Oz playground is at Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. If you get bored of the playground — you won’t, but just in case — you can take a short walk through the woods and visit a nature center. The nature center is pretty cool, and we met birds and turtles and snakes and a hedgehog. But I forgot to take pictures because OZ WAS RIGHT OUTSIDE. It was a lovely break, though. I highly recommend you take the short trek through the woods. If you see the Tin Man, say hello. (He’s not in the woods. He totally should be. Missed opportunity, Maryland.)

There are also cool little spinny toys (poppy flowers) or riding toys (farm animals) and this cool running track/slash/treadmill/slash/toddler hamster wheel. I have been to a lot of playgrounds and I have never seen any playground equipment like this. The toddlers LOVED it. And if I’m being one hundred percent here, the adults loved it too.

Oz spinny toy

This park also has tons of clean restrooms both in the parking lot and right next to Dorothy’s house at the playground. Parking is really easy and you get to FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD to the park. (Ok, technically the Yellow Brick Road starts in the playground at the spiral and goes out to the parking lot which I just realized is a GENIUS way to get your kid to leave if your kid doesn’t want to leave.)

Five stars. Out of four. Seriously — go here.

Oh, and it’s FREE!!

Oz Sign

 

 

Forty.

I never thought I would be chasing a toddler at forty years old.

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I was a teen mom before Instagram and Facebook and the MTV show. I mostly just hoped I wouldn’t have GRANDCHILDREN by age forty. (I don’t. I somehow have two amazing college students with practical knowledge of birth control.)

My Teen Marriage didn’t last (surprise!) but I have been married to my current husband for over ten years. We tried for a baby almost right away, but then got sucked into the dark depths of Secondary Infertility. As anyone who has been through any type of infertility knows, it was HELL. After six years of charting and procedures and hoping and crying and crumbling, I gave up.

I had to give up. For my sanity and for my marriage, I needed to stop the monthly devastation. I had two unbelievably amazing children and my husband had two wonderful step-children. We were both very lucky, actually. And our family was complete.

My two wonderful children lived in Florida with their dad during the school year (another long story for another time), and I missed them so much all the time. I luckily had a job that allowed me to work from home, wherever that home might be. We made a hard decision to rent an apartment for me in Florida during the 2014-2015 school year. It was my son’s senior year of high school and my daughter’s sophomore year of high school. I found a three-bedroom apartment across the street from the high school for less than $900 per month. At that point, I was spending about $1500 each month on hotels and AirBnBs and airplane tickets and car rentals and dinners out with the kids in Florida. The finances sucked but it kind of made sense. So I moved there without my husband.

But of course we visited one another.

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Imagine my surprise when three months into the school year (and three months into my Florida lease), my period was late. Holy crap. I could hardly believe it. I didn’t believe it. And then I couldn’t deny it. I took a pregnancy test and called my husband 700 miles away with the news.

I WAS PREGNANT! OMFG.

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But. I was living in Florida for the school year. The school year that ended in May. My daughter was turning sixteen in May. My son was graduating in June. Babystar was due on June 19.

That was a hell of a ride.

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I went to doctor’s appointments and ultrasounds without my husband. I heard the baby’s heartbeat for the first time all by myself. I sat alone to take the gestational diabetes test. I drove myself to the hospital when I started bleeding early in the third trimester and sat in that hospital bed texting my husband five states away while he checked the airline schedules. (I was ok. The baby didn’t come until June.)

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I fetched my own ice cream. I spent too much money on pedicures just for the frequent foot massages. I ripped my cartilage and had to bind my ribs myself because the doctors I was seeing were not my own and were pretty horrible and I was not invested enough to find a new temporary doctor in Florida. I had strong faux contractions from about Week 22 and I laid awake night after night trying to get comfortable. I complained to no one. (Ok, those two wonderful college students might disagree.)

I didn’t set up a nursery, because I wasn’t home. I didn’t shop for the baby because I was too busy with my teenagers. (And we were too broke from supporting two households.) I basically tried to ignore the pregnancy. Not because I wasn’t excited — I was! I was that wary but ecstatic sort of excited experienced by parents that gave everything trying for a baby. But. But still, I didn’t want anything to take away from being in Florida with my teenagers.

Who were not at all amused, by the way. Well, my son thought it was hilarious. My daughter just rolled her eyes.

I threw a Sweet Sixteen birthday party for my daughter at 36 weeks pregnant. And I danced — in heels! I sat on backless bleachers for hours at 37 weeks pregnant to watch my son graduate high school. At 38 weeks pregnant, I sold as much as I could and packed up the rest of that Florida apartment and moved back home.

I went into labor two weeks later, on my due date. I was out running last minute errands for the baby. Everything was last minute with this baby. My son was driving but I wouldn’t let him take me home until we finished everything on my list.

I was right.

Babystar was born the next day.

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And all of a sudden I was paying attention. I didn’t put her down for months. You can’t spoil a baby, right?

Babystar has been the best little surprise. She definitely changed all of our lives. My daughter chose a close-ish state school and I am certain the main reason is her two-year-old BFF. My husband was Mr. Live Music and Football Games and I can count on my fingers the concerts he has been to in the last two years. My plan was ALWAYS to spend my fortieth birthday in Cape Town, finally reaching my dream vacation destination. Instead, I am having a movie night that will probably be a Moana double feature. First Moana, and then Moana again.

And I fucking love it.

My birthday blog post was going to be a story about me and how I felt about turning forty. And just like my life, this post was taken over by this tiny human that I never expected to meet. What’s forty? I’m too busy building block towers and pushing swings and reading picture books and blowing bubbles to care.

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Airplane + Food.

We went out to dinner last month and did not order a single thing for Babystar. She shared with everyone, and basically got the Teenager’s extra side (fries which is all Babystar really wanted anyway).

But. Whoops. We forgot to bring any toys. WHAT ARE WE, ROOKIES?!?

Luckily, we were at Longhorn Steakhouse which is in the parking lot of a strip mall. One of my favorite strip malls. It has a Home Goods (cue that ahhh ahhh shhhhhh music). And luckily (luckily?), there was a 40 minute wait so the girls and I walked over to Home Goods just to browse.

When my darling husband texted us to say that the table was ready, the Teenager had to text back: we’ll be there in a min. mom is buying an airplane. emoji emoji emoji.

Babystar LOVES this Melissa and Doug airplane. She played with it at dinner. She plays with it all the time at home. She has decided that certain two passengers are ‘mommy and daddy’ and she even eats lunch with the mommy and daddy at her little table and feeds them and shows them her toys. She uses the luggage as cell phones. I saw her take a selfie with one. Best. Toy. Ever. Plus it was only $13.77 because Home Goods is the bomb diggity. (Am I allowed to type bomb and airplane in the same blog paragraph? I can’t keep up with the TSA rules.)

 

We did buy some food for Babystar in February. I’m still only counting food that I buy specifically for her. I eat a lot of it, but I buy it for HER. She eats a lot of my food, too. She’s lately loving salmon, but we don’t cook any more than usual. I just eat a little less. She also shares our veggies, but we would always cook the entire bag. Again, I just eat a little less. A toddler serving is like a couple of bites for me.

We buy a LOT more fruit than we used to. A whole lot more. I try to buy in season and whatever is on sale but DUDE FRUIT IS EXPENSIVE. I never noticed before this fun, terrifying project called babycostsmoney.

  • graham crackers 2.99
  • clementines 14.47
  • strawberries 13.97
  • blueberries 4.98
  • tater tots (1 of 3 bags for the month but she eats a lot of the Teenager’s tots) 3.09
  • apples 12.54
  • pears 5.71
  • watermelon 11.36
  • shrimp platter 11.99 (she didn’t eat a single one of course but we bought them for her)
  • granola bars 5.19
  • grapes 3.05
  • organic carrots .99
  • cucumbers 1.69
  • chia seed waffles 5.98

Plus some fast food meals out. Shhh, don’t talk about it.

  • Chick-fil-A 1 strip meal 3.39
  • Chick-fil-A 1 strip meal 3.39
  • Chick-Fil-A 2 strip meal 4.69
  • Elevation Burger fries 2.95 and orange slices 1.95
  • Costco pizza 2.19
  • Costco pizza 2.19
  • Costco pizza 2.19
  • Pizza Hut pizza via Target 4.29
  • Pepperoni at Sbarro (Yes, just extra pepperoni. She shared our stromboli.) 1.49

 

RAISING BABYSTAR: $15,232.37