What's Better: Ergobaby 360 or Ergobaby Omni 360?

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I have been a huge fan of babywearing since Ransom was a newborn (why does it seem like that was forever ago?!), so I am incredibly excited to be partnering with Ergobaby to review their latest forward facing baby carrier, the Omni 360! Ergobaby gave me this product to try, but all opinions are my own. 

Like I said, I have been babywearing since Ransom was a teeny, tiny little thing. I was finishing up my last semester of grad school when he arrived and babywearing was one of the main reasons that I was able to balance graduate work and caring for a newborn... and managed to complete the semester with a 4.0! I simply snuggled Ransom up in a baby carrier and he would sleep peacefully on my chest for hours while I was in class or doing homework (ahhhh... that newborn stage when he slept for hours and hours). I could even mastered breastfeeding discretely in class without having to take him out of the carrier. He spent the majority of the first few months of his life in a baby carrier, both for the convenience of it and because I just couldn't bear to put my precious little babe down (and he liked the snuggles too).

We tried a few different types of baby carriers, including wraps and ring slings, but ultimately fell in love with our Ergobaby 360: it seemed to provide more stability, had a greater variety of possible carrying positions, and had a quicker learning curve, which was especially important for my husband who got frustrated trying to figure out a ring sling. And the Ergobaby holds up to approximately 33lbs, meaning that we can still carry Ransom (who will be turning 3 in January) in it! 

Some vintage Ransom, just because he's adorable. 

Some vintage Ransom, just because he's adorable. 

So, Ergobaby recently released the Ergobaby Omni 360 carrier. What's the difference between the original 360 and the Omni 360? Is it really worth upgrading to the Omni? After almost 3 years of being a loyal Ergo 360-er, I wondered the same things! Here are my thoughts after spending some time using the Omni.

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So here is the Ergobaby 360 in black with the Ergobaby Omni 360 below it in khaki green. They both come in multiple color options. I honestly wasn't too sure about the khaki green at first, but it's really grown on me: makes me feel like I'm ready for an adventure every time I strap my little guy on my back ;) Besides the obvious color difference, there doesn't initially appear to be that much that is different about the two carriers though, so I'll highlight a few of the changes that you see in the Omni. 

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One of the first differences is the adjustable waistband. With the original 360, the waistband (pictured in the top photo) was an adjustable velcro closure that could be tightened more with the adjustable strap. That system worked fine, but let me tell you: velcro is LOUD when you're trying to unstrap it to transfer a sleeping baby out of the carrier. The Omni has a wider, padded waistband (wider = better support) that clips instead of velcros and adjusts bilaterally. That might not seem like a huge deal, but when Ransom was tiny there were a lot of days that he would only fall asleep in the carrier only to then be awoken by the sound of the velcro. Not to mention that it's hard to keep velcro looking fresh and clean when you literally take your Ergobaby EVERYWHERE you go. The wider waistband does feel a little more supportive than the original 360, but it's a little difficult to judge that at the moment, since I'm wearing the carrier differently than I'm used to due to my pregnancy. 

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Here's a closer look at the new waistband. Wider, more supportive, and quiet ;) 

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Both of the carriers come with attached hoods to cover up baby's head when needed. This is a really useful feature, whether to protect your little one from the weather, give you a little extra privacy while breastfeeding, or to give them a little more peace while he/she is sleeping. I know Ransom would often prefer sleeping with the hood up. Bonus: it helps to keep germy stranger's hands away from your babe! 

Both of the hoods serve the same purpose, but the design does differ slightly between the original 360 and the Omni. The original 360 has a little zipper pouch that the hood can roll up into and then be closed, while the Omni has an open pocket to put the hood into. I personally found that the zipper on the original tended to get stuck on the hood. The Omni hood also looks a little sleeker. Small changes, but looks and functionality go a long way when you're using something as much as we use our Ergobaby.

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The Ergobaby Omni has a new feature with a removable pouch that attaches to the waistband. If fanny packs aren't really your thing, I get it, but let me just say how convenient it is when you can just throw your phone, wallet, and keys in there and complete your grocery store or target run with your hands completely free! I can only imagine how much this is going to come in handy when baby girl decides to arrive and I'm wearing her AND chasing a toddler. 

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Probably the biggest difference between the original 360 and the Omni is that there's no need for a newborn insert with the Omni. As you can see in the photo above, you can easily adjust the size of the carrier with the velcro at the base of the carrier. By adjusting them to the smallest setting, you can safely and snuggly carry your newborn. Or, you can adjust it to the widest setting (as shown above), to carry your toddler. This change alone makes the Omni a superior carrier, in my opinion, as it takes away the need to purchase a separate newborn insert and gives you a carrier that truly lasts from day 1 to year 3 with your baby. 

While many of the changes between the two carriers were small, they were all things that I had wished were different about the original 360. The more supportive and velcro-free waistband, the sleek and easy-to-use hood, the waist pouch, and the ability to use the carrier on it's own for a newborn make the Omni the best carrier for me, hands down. But if you're still not convinced, here are some action shots of me and my sister testing out the Omni while exploring downtown Cleveland.... with a 34 lbs toddler in tow. 

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Being in my third trimester, I figured my belly would be too big to comfortably wear a toddler, but the Omni turned out to be really comfortable for a back carry. I just had to secure the waistband above my bump and we were ready to go! If you're pregnant and you feel comfortable continuing to babywear, you can try a back carry with the waistband above or below your bump (of course, be sure to check with your doctor or healthcare provider first to make sure that this is safe for your body, your baby, and your unique pregnancy). 

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Ransom and I walked all over the city of Cleveland in the Omni. I think we logged almost 10 miles that day! The back carry was the only carry that I could comfortably try at this point in my pregnancy, but I'm very excited to try more carrying positions with Ransom AND baby girl when she arrives. Who knows, maybe I'll even experiment with tandem babywearing with the Ergobaby 360 and the Ergobaby Omni 360? If so, I'll be sure to let you know how it goes! 

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My sister, who doesn't have a big pregnant belly, was able to wear Ransom in a front carry, which he preferred over the back carry as nap time approached. She said that it was very comfortable and that she barely noticed that she was carrying a tall, heavy toddler! 

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Ransom and I were definitely impressed with the Ergobaby Omni 360 and have already recommended it to several expecting friends and family members! We genuinely love our newest baby carrier and I am so, SO excited to have the Omni for Ransom and our new baby. 

If you'd like to check out Ergobaby carriers, whether the original 360 or the Omni, make sure to use my special discount code jo8KbuYBBM to take 10% off of your purchase! 

Have you tried the new Omni carrier? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.  

The Ultimate Guide to Small Shop Christmas Gifts for Babies and Toddlers

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my full disclosure.

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As the New York weather gets chillier and the last leaves start to fall off of the trees, I’ve been finding myself thinking more and more about the Christmas season. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday and motherhood has only intensified that feeling. Sharing all of our holiday traditions with our children and creating new memories and traditions is something I look forward to all year.   

One thing that I really love about the holiday season is searching for special gifts for my children. I love showering them with gifts and have to watch myself so make sure that I don’t go overboard (can anyone relate?!). Some things I am conscious of when shopping for my babes is the quality of the toys that I am buying for them - I would much rather buy one well-made wooden toy that will last and will encourage them to play and use their imagination than buy them three or four cheaper toys that will break easily or will just end up getting forgotten about in the bottom of the toy bin. 

Since we’ll have a fresh new babe to celebrate Christmas with this year, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite small shops and they’re beautiful, handmade baby items. High quality items that will last for years to come and you get to support a family’s business - everyone wins!  

Classic Wooden Baby Gym

So, I adore this little wooden baby gym. I’m not a fan of the bright primary colors and patterns that are usually on baby gyms but boy, are those gyms useful. We didn’t get one for baby #2 and Ransom’s old baby gym has seen better days and is missing most of the hanging toys that originally came with it. I love, love, love the simple structure of this gym and wood instead of cheap plastic.  

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Wood and Silicone Teething Rings 

Baby girl will definitely be needing some teething toys in the next few months and these wood and silicone rings are not beautiful, but made out of high quality wood and food-grade silicone so I don't have to worry about what she's putting in her mouth. Bonus: these colors match her nursery theme perfectly, but this sweet little shop offers lots of different color options to fit your little's personality. 

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Bunny Ear Teething Toy

Another teething toy, because babes put everything in their mouths so why not give them a few options? I love the different colors and textures of these sweet little toys. And with their pricetag, I can get a few different patterns so we'll always have one handy! 

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Soft Sensory Blocks

I love blocks and toys that encourage littles to use their imagination. These soft sensory blocks are perfect for teeny tiny babes who aren't ready for wooden blocks quite yet, but could still benefit the from some sensory play (because who couldn't?). I plan on getting baby girl a set so that she and her big brother can play blocks together and bond during tummy time. 

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Round Boho Tummy Time Play Mat

Speaking of tummy time... this tummy time play mat is simply dreamy. The perfect addition to any little nursery, and would work beautifully with the wooden play gym listed above. The craft on this handmade item really makes it worth the price, not to mention that your babies will be able to play on it for years after they're past the tummy time stage. 

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Wooden Pacifier Clips

If you're anything like me, than you probably have 800 pacifiers scattered around your house but you can never find one when you need one. These sweet little pacifier clips solve that problem while also being super cute. I love that they're simple and gender neutral. A sweet and functional baby gift that will save you time when you're desperately searching for that binky at 2 am. 

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Ball Pit

Okay, so I'm kind of obsessed with this ball pit. All of the fun of a Chuck-E-Cheese right in my house but with the sweet, classic look I love as opposed to the obnoxious primary colors. This toy is a little on the pricey side, but we typically do one big present, so I'm thinking that this will be the big present this year. I love how it encourages movement and activity, and will provide my babes with hours of fun! I'm already imagining my babies playing in the ball pit together and it's seriously giving me all the heart eyes....  For more interactive toys for babies check out Thrifty Mama Life's Holiday Gift Guide.

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Soft Sole Baby Booties

I have a bit of an obsession with baby shoes, so I'll definitely be throwing a few pairs into little girl's Christmas stocking this year. I love the denim and lace on these ones, but the shop has lots of other patterns to choose from! 

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Rose Gold Shimmer Skinny Jeans

I love baby jeans and these rose gold shimmer ones are no exception. I love that the jeans from HarperJett Denim are made by hand and are such high quality. I'll be purchasing these rose gold ones for baby girl along with another pattern for big brother. 

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One thing that is, admittedly, missing from this list is books. I love baby books and reading to my babes, but I was not able to find many handmade/small shop baby books that were in my budget range. However, that certainly doesn't mean that we won't be buying lots of books for Christmas this year, just that they didn't make this list ;) Man-Cub Mamas has a wonderful list of the best books for toddlers that I'll be referring to while doing my Christmas shopping. 

Need more Christmas gift ideas? Check out Chocolate and Chaos for lots more holiday gift guides! 

20 Amazing Family Fall Activities to Try Right Now

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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my full disclosure

It's finally fall! This is one of my favorite times of the year. Now that I'm a mom to a toddler, I'm having such a great time introducing my son to lots of fun fall activities, so I thought I'd share my personal list of all the things that we've been up to this autumn as well as some of the things that we are planning to do. I hope that this list inspires you to get out and enjoy this beautiful season! 

  • Go apple picking

Few things scream fall to me like picking your own produce…. Snuggle up in your favorite plaid, scarves, and boots and hit up a local apple orchard. They typically have a variety of different apples and you can get a great deal on large quantities of produce. Make sure you take lots of pictures at the orchard! There are a ton of orchards where I live in New York but if you aren’t sure where to find one near you, check out this great site I found that includes a directory of apple orchards but country and state!

  • Make caramel apples 

Obviously you’re going to have to find something to do with all of those delicious apples that you’ve picked. Apple pies, apple crisp, apple butter, and apple muffins are all great options, but for an extra special treat why not make some gooey, delicious caramel apples? One Green Planet has an amazingly yummy recipe for VEGAN caramel apples! It’s definitely something to add to your fall bucket list.

  • Jump in a leaf pile

Something so simple, but some of my favorite fall memories from childhood are raking up big piles of leaves and jumping in them again, and again..... and again. You can bag up or compost the leaves eventually, but why not have some fun as a family first and create some sweet, sweet memories?

  • Go to a harvest festival

We’re really lucky to live in an area where there are lots of fun fall activities for families.... and a lot of them are free! We’ve already been to a couple of fall festivals and have plans to go to a few more. So far, we’ve had kettlecorn, painted (free!) pumpkins, gone on a hayride, ridden on a Halloween train, and gone trick-or-treating at these festivals, so you can see there’s usually a ride range of activities and it’s definitely worth taking a day out of your weekend to check one out.

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  • Visit a pumpkin patch

Going to the pumpkin patch is my favorite thing to do with my family in the fall. There’s a local farm that we love and visit every year. In addition to taking a hayride out to a pumpkin patch to let our son pick out a pumpkin, there are pony rides, a hay maze for kiddos, and hot apple cider and other yummy treats! We always pick one Saturday in October to spend the whole day at the farm and my son calls it “Fall day”.

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  • Make a creative Halloween costume

I’ve made a Halloween costume for Ransom every year of his life. For his first Halloween, I only made the costume because I couldn’t find a store-bought costume of what I wanted him to dress up at (Totoro). But I ended up having so much fun making the costume and realized that it is SO much cheaper to make a costume than buy one, that I made him a costume last year and this year as well. You can keep it fairly simple or go crazy and do something really creative. Either way, I think it adds to the fun of the season and makes your little one’s costume a little more special.

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  • Sip apple cider and munch on apple cider donuts

Yummmmmm! Nothing like hot apple cider and donuts to welcome in fall weather. You can make a special trip for apple cider and donuts (we always get them at the pumpkin patch), but I highly recommend keeping your house regularly stocked with them for the entirety of the fall season. You know, just to be safe ;)

  • Get lost in a corn maze

This is one i haven’t done in years but I’m really itching to do now that Ransom is a little bigger and super active. There just happens to be a big corn maze right down the road from our house, so I’m just waiting for the perfect fall day to grab a hot apple cider and get lost in a hay maze. But really, last time I did a hay maze I really did get lost, so keep your fingers crossed for me. If you see smoke signals, it’s probably me. 

  • Have a bonfire

Have family and friends over and get cozy! We just had a wonderful bonfire last night, complete with trick-or-treating for the kids, fireworks, and s’mores. These crisp, cool fall nights won’t last forever, so let’s enjoy them while we can!

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  • Make a homemade pie

Apple is my personal favorite, but it seems like most people I talk with prefer pumpkin pie during the fall. This Pumpkin-Spiced Apple Pie is the perfect compromise!

  • Watch a spooky movie

When I was a kid, we had a family tradition that we got a new movie every Halloween and watched it together while we ate all the candy that we had collected earlier in the evening. Ransom has been a little too young for that up until now, but this year I want to start doing the same thing for him. I love Ray Bradbury, so I’d really like to do The Halloween Tree, but I think that might be a bit scary for this year, so I think we’re going to snuggle up with some caramel corn and watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

  • Carve or paint pumpkins

My little man is still a bit too young to carve pumpkins himself and since I want him to be involved in the process, we choose to paint pumpkins instead of carving for the time being. Finger paints work really well with toddlers, and you can just let the kids go wild with the paints!

  • Roast pumpkin seeds

This is especially good if you choose to carve pumpkins instead of painting. These cinnamon sugar pumpkin seeds are delicious and really quick and easy to make.

  • Make a hearty chili

Paired with some homemade cornbread, this makes the perfect fall comfort food. This recipe is not only delicious, but vegan and chock full of fresh veggies and all the great nutrients that come along with them!

  • Go to a football game

Okay, this is coming from someone who does not follow sports AT ALL. I generally watch football once a year at our family’s super bowl party, and I really only go for the unlimited guacamole. But still, there is something that seems very fall about going to a football game.

  • Make a Halloween House

Why should we only make cookie houses for Christmas? Our family has started making haunted cookie houses every year in addition to our Christmas gingerbread houses. This year, my husband and I did most of the construction and decoration while Ransom supervised and taste-tested the candy. I think the finished product lasted a whole 20 minutes.....

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  • Cozy up your home for the winter

If you’re on social media, you’ve probably heard of Hygge by this point. Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is a Danish tradition that has been growing in popularity a lot lately and focuses on slowing down, embracing positivity, and enjoying the small simple things in life. Fall is a wonderful time to start to introduce Hygge into your home. Some easy ways to get started include:

o   Making your house as warm and cozy as possible – you’re going to be spending a lot more time indoors now that temperatures are getting cooler, so now is the time to invest in some cozy throws and pillows.

o   Curl up next to the fireplace with some warm socks and a good book.

o   Have some family and friends over for a warm meal.

o   Light candles and enjoy an evening as a family without any electronic devices.

  • Make leaf art together

Leaf art is so much fun with toddlers and kids because it’s two activities in one – going outside and collecting different leaves and then making a beautiful creation with them. It’s a great opportunity to talk about different kinds of trees and leaves and what they are often used for (my son loved learning about maple trees and how maple syrup is made), so take advantage of that conversational opportunity!

Some of my favorite leaf art ideas are:

o   A fall wreath to cozy up your entryway.

o   Make a leaf mobile using leaves that you preserve using this cool method. 

o   Make leaf critters with your little one and talk about the different animals, the sounds they make, the foods they eat, etc. 

  • Go to the library and check out books about fall

I’ll take just about any opportunity to squeeze in some reading time with my little guy. With all the wonderful things to do in fall, why not read about them?! Here are some great books about the changing seasons, apples, pumpkins, little animals in the fall, and celebrating fall traditions and holidays.

 

  • Make a homemade pinecone bird feeder

I love our backyard birds! As it gets colder and the bug population starts to die off, I like to give them a little encouragement to stick around. We’ve historically just put up standard bird feeders in the winter, but I’m really excited to try making a pinecone bird feeder with Ransom. The Outdoor Parent has a great tutorial over on their blog. Bonus: we can have a little scavenger hunt in our yard looking for pinecones to use!

 

What fall activities do you have planned for the season? Let me know in the comments below!!

 

Seven Reasons to Journal Everyday

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Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details. 

 

Since middle school, I have kept a written journal of my life, documenting my joys, sorrows, teenage angst, crushes, victories, and everything in between. As I have evolved, so has my journalling, and it now a place for deeper self-reflection. But hey, it also served well to practice writing my name in cursive with the last name of my middle school crush! There’s a season for everything, right?

Journaling has given me a place to process my thoughts on paper when I did not have the opportunity to process them out loud. It has given me a creative outlet to track my dreams and my goals, and the motivation to plan and take action to turn those goals into reality. In fact, it has been so beneficial to me, that I regularly recommend it to my therapy clients. Journaling has many potential psychological and emotional benefits, a few of which I have listed for you below.

If you need a great journal to get started with, I would recommend the Midori Traveler's Notebook . They're beautifully made and have lots of different inserts available so you can really customize your journal to suit your needs. 

Seven Reasons to Journal Everyday

A Journal Can Act Like a Personal Therapist

A journal gives you a safe, non-judgmental place to write down your thoughts and feelings. It’s a perfect place to vent your frustrations, air your deepest secrets, and brag about your accomplishments. All without having to worry about what others think about you (although you shouldn’t worry anyway, because you’re wonderful the way you are).

A Journal Provides an Easy Way to Track Moods

Maybe you are chronically cranky on Mondays, or maybe you get weepy around certain times of of the day, week, or month. Journaling can help you track patterns in your moods. Once you identify a pattern it is much easier to find the root cause(s) and address them

A Journal Provides an Easily Accessible Creative Outlet

A journal can provide you with a blank canvas to jot down your wildest ideas, write your own songs or poetry, create little doodles or glorious sketches. It doesn’t have to just be a log of your day! Let those creative juices flow and make it your own.

A Journal Creates an Attitude of Gratitude

It’s easy to get into a funk and forget about all the things that you have to be grateful for. Keeping a record of the good in your life helps you to look back when you’re in a rough patch and appreciate all the good that you have encountered.

A Journal Helps You to Remember Your Victories… and Learn From Your Defeats

In addition to adjusting our attitude, a journal can act as a learning tool. What might you learn from examining your past victories and defeats? Journalling provides the space to reflect on this question.

A Journal Can Bring Clarity to Difficult Situations

A journal can be used for problem-solving. Whether it is the traditional pros and cons list, or writing out your worries and challenging those beliefs, there is something about putting a pen to paper that can bring mental clarity.

A Journal is Inexpensive and Easily Managed

You can get a cheap journal just about anywhere - a notebook from the dollar store will do the trick, or you can pop for a more expensive, designer one. Anything with blank paper where you feel secure jotting down your thoughts. And you’re the boss of your journal. You decide what you write and when you write it. How awesome is that?

Do you journal? If so, what benefits have you gleaned from the practice? 

A Montessori Approach to Motherhood

Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details. 

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Since before Ransom was born, I have planned to send him to Montessori school. I have had a deep appreciation for the philosophy since I first learned about it, and it just felt right to me to let my child learn and develop in an environment that fosters exploration, play, and self-paced growth. In fact, Ransom was scheduled to start Montessori school this fall, but several life changes came up (including being due with baby #2 in a few months) and we decided that it would be best to keep Ransom home for another year - he would have been starting a year early and 5 days a week of school seems to be more than he is ready for at this point. While this was a little disappointing, I've been comforting myself by planning mini Montessori units that I can do at home with him.

But I am gradually learning that the units are not the most important component of a Montessori education (although they are wonderful and I plan to share some of ours as we work through them). Instead, it really comes down to the philosophy behind a Montessori education.

Maria Montessori said "We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being".

In other words, the whole process is child-led. Learning to trust that each child is fully capable of learning, and that the teacher (or parent) is there to gently guide the child's natural learning process rather than dictate how, when, and what the child learns. I'm a little ashamed to say that I'm just learning this with my own child, since I am a mental health therapist with training in child development, but sometimes it takes personal experiences for us to really apply textbook lessons to our everyday lives.

So, we are adopting a Montessori approach to parenthood. Yes, I have fun little units planned to learn about farm animals, numbers, and the alphabet, but more importantly I have been working on being more mindful of following Ransom's lead in his learning process. One area that I have had the opportunity to do this in recently has been with Ransom's love of horses. I know, not something that immediately jump to mind when you think of Montessori. But this has been something that has been relevant and of great importance to Ransom right now, so it has been my focus.

Horses

Ransom has developed a real passion for horses over the summer. There is a horse farm down the road from us that we frequently walk down to so Ransom can see the animals. We've been checking out books about horses from the library, playing with horse toys, and pretending to be horses almost non-stop. He's gotten quite good at identifying different breeds of horses and it's really cute (and impressive!) to hear my 2 year-old talk about thoroughbreds, Appaloosas, and Andalusian horses.

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But the thing he wants more than anything is to ride a horse.

So, of course I want to make my little man happy, so I go all out: I take a day off of work and I schedule a horseback riding lesson for him (well, a pony, but still). 

We were both super excited for the day. Ransom could barely sleep the night before and we talked about horsies and how he was going to ride the horse, pet the horse, and feed the horse, the entire 35-minute drive to the stable. We got there and he was happy as a lark, skipping to the barn. 

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And then he saw the pony all saddled up to ride. 

And he wanted nothing to do with it. Didn't even want to pet it. Nothing. 

Of course, my head started spinning. It wasn't so much that I wanted him to ride the pony for me, it was that I knew (or thought I knew) that the minute we left the stable he would realize that he had missed this opportunity and be upset about it, and that just wanted what I wanted for our special day together. Okay, and I really wanted cute pictures of his face lighting up while he was riding the pony. 

So there were a few different options. We could have just left the stable right then, of course. He was scared and didn't want to ride, so why stay? I also could have forced him to ride the pony, knowing that he probably would have enjoyed it once he took the plunge. But neither of these options felt right. Ransom was scared of riding the pony, yes, but he didn't show any signs that he was scared of being in the stable around the horses and ponies, so I felt that leaving would be interpreted as punitive even if that wasn't my intention. And while I knew that he would probably be fine after he got on the pony and started riding, there was also the chance that he would still be scared and feel that the situation was out of his control. I didn't want to do anything that would reinforce his fears. 

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So I asked him what he wanted to do. I chose to trust that he could make that choice on his own and I respected his answer. 

Ransom said that he wanted to walk around the stable and see the horses, so that's exactly what we did. We took our time and went at the pace that he set. We read all of the horses' names and we even pet a few (when Ransom initiated). We discussed riding the pony, but Ransom told me very clearly that he did not want to do that yet, so we just enjoyed the animals from more of a distance. 

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Eventually, Ransom warmed up enough that he asked the instructor if he could take the pony for a walk. She was really wonderful with him, and they walked the pony out to the grass together with Ransom holding her lead. And let me tell you, he thought that he was king of that stable walking that pony around. He was so stinkin' proud of himself. And I realized that he was conquering his fears and achieving personal victories at his own pace, which I trust is much better and more natural than any pace I could impose upon him. 

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We ended up having a wonderful day at the stable together. He was so proud of himself for walking that pony that he talked about it the rest of the day and you'd better believe that we celebrated that accomplishment. He did, in fact, bring up that he hadn't gotten to ride the pony, but he really wasn't upset about it once we talked about it in a respectful manner. He just acknowledged that he wasn't ready to ride yet but that he had done another very important job. We went to the local library and checked out some picture books about horses and continued to focus on all the positives of the day. 

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A few weeks later, we went to a Celtic festival that offered free pony rides. Again, we offered to let him ride a pony and he declined, asking to just look at them. After a few minutes, we walked away. He then asked if he could ride the pony with his papa (grandpa), So we went back over with Papa and he got on that pony without any fear and rode around with a huge smile on his face! By letting him set his own pace and work through his fears in his own way, he was able to successfully fulfill his wish to ride a horse, and that made me a super proud mama. :) 

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There are lots of fun, little (and big) ways that you can begin to incorporate a Montessori philosophy into your household. Here is a list of different ways to get started. Try one, a couple, or all of them! 

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40 Montessori Parenting Tips

1.   Read Montessori: a Modern approach

2.   Embrace the idea that Montessori is a lifestyle and not simply a curriculum preference.

3. Respect your child in each and every aspect of their life.

4. Give them room for freedom of movement and to explore their physical environment.

5. Always give them choices – these choices may be small and seem irrelevant to you, but giving them this freedom builds independence (and reduces power struggles).

6. Invest in stools so that children can reach cabinets, shelfs, and sinks.

7. Practice living simply. This includes trying to stick to simple, natural toys that encourage children to use their hands and their brains.

8. Teach independence and trust in your child’s innate abilities. They are not mini-adults who can do everything for themselves, but they are also not entirely helpless. Observe them and notice where they excel and where they struggle and let that guide how you help them help themselves through difficult situations.

9. Make it a habit to observe your child for 5-10 minutes a day. Do not intervene or give directions (except to keep the child safe, of course), simply observe what your child does and see what you can learn about them from this time.

10. Communicate with your child. Take the time to explain things, answer their questions, and have real conversations. Do not talk down to them or only talk when correcting them, but instead have real, respectful conversations with them that increase their communication skills and build their vocabularies.

11. Read up on positive discipline and respectful parenting.

12. When possible, teach by modeling an appropriate response rather than correcting an inappropriate one.

13. Hang coat racks at your child’s level.

14. Give your child space to hang up his/her own coat and put on and take off his/her own shoes.

15. Establish a daily routine with your child, while giving them freedom of choice within that routine.

16. Practice practical life activities and invest in child-sized objects so your child can work independently. Remember that these activities are about exploring the environment, completion of a work cycle, and developing independence.

17. Consider investing in a faucet extender.

18. Use real, concrete objects whenever possible to provide your child with a hands-on learning experience. When this is not feasible, try to use pictures of real objects (i.e. avoid cartoons).

19. Encourage a love of reading. Read to your child often and ask them to read to you. At two-years old, my son can’t really read on his own but he enjoys looking through his picture books and making up stories to tell me. Establish a family reading time and use any opportunities to point out sounds and words around you.

20. Go outside. Often. Take sensorial activities outside. Teach math outside. Allow your child the independence to explore the outdoors and feel comfortable in nature.

21. Cook with your child. Ransom has been cooking with me since he was able to sit up on the counter. He measures and pours everything into the bowls and loves mixing. We talk through each ingredient and the measurements and I trust that he absorbing this information at a pace appropriate for him.

22. Travel with your child. Give them opportunities to explore new environments and make new discoveries.

23. Focus on the sounds of letters rather than on memorization.

24. Get down to your child’s level when you talk to them.

25. Practice mindfulness. Give your child a chance to experience silence and enjoy it with them.

26. Remember that no two children are alike and accept that. Do not push your child to do something before their peers and do not hold them back from things that seem too advanced for their age, but instead accept exactly where they exist on the educational spectrum.

27. Incorporate yoga into your daily routine with your child. Try a fun yoga video geared towards children.

28. Garden with your child. If possible, give them their own plot of land that is their responsibility, in which they can experience how plants grow.

29. Sing together! Even if your singing voice isn’t the best, singing helps children develop a sense of rhythm, is a fun way to learn new things, and creates positive family routines and memories.

30. From as early an age as possible, assign age-appropriate chores for your child and use these as learning opportunities. Make sure that they have the appropriate tools for these tasks (child-sized broom, mop, dust pan, etc.). Count things while completing these tasks. Practice sorting. Engage in conversation and build their vocabulary.

31. Laugh with your child, but refrain from laughing at them.

32. Help your child to develop a sense of the time by keeping a calendar marking days of the week and month, along with special holidays. Discuss this regularly with them. Have conversations about upcoming events so they know what to expect and develop a sense of time passing (e.g. “In 5 minutes we are going to leave the playground”).

33. Allow your child to get dirty when exploring. Sometimes this is when the best discoveries happen!

34. Refrain from doing something for your child that they can do for themselves.

35. Allow your child to speak for themselves rather than answering for them. Remember that it is also okay if your child chooses not to speak for themselves.

36. Learn to be patient. This is a part of allowing your child to develop at their own pace – do not push a task when your child is showing signs that they are not ready to learn it quite yet.

37. Learn to apologize to your child when you make a mistake. This demonstrates to them that adults make mistakes too and that it is okay to admit to them and take steps to make things better. It also models the behavior that you want from your child.

38. Take the time to tell your child what you like about them and what you value in them. Help them to identify and voice what they like and value in others.

39. Teach your child about their emotions by giving names to them, discussing them, and modeling how to appropriately cope with them.

40. Enjoy life together, be playful, take every opportunity to teach them using things in your surroundings, and give them your unconditional love!

Easy and Inexpensive Nylon Headband Tutorial

Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details. 

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My nesting instinct has come in full force in the last month or so, and I've been using every spare minute I have to make preparations for baby girl to get here. In addition to climbing inside the kitchen trash can to deep clean it (yeah, that happened) I've been crafting like a lunatic. There are just so many cute little things to make for baby girls! 

One of my favorite things to make recently has been headbands. These little nylon headbands are super trendy right now (I see them every time I open up Facebook or Instagram) and are made out of soft, stretchy material, so they don't leave a mark on baby's head. However, they can be a tad expensive if you buy them and if you're anything like me, you'll want one in every color of the rainbow. That gets pricey. Fortunately, they're super easy and super inexpensive to make, so you can whip up one to coordinate every outfit in your little one's closet in no time! 

Here is how I made these darling little headbands:

Materials

  • Nylon headbands - $0.39 each from Ninth and Hazel (or see note below to make your own!)
  • Liquid Stitch - $6.38 from Amazon 
  • Flowers, bows, or ribbons of your choice - Amazon or your local craft store should have a good selection. 

Steps

Grab a nylon band and make sure that it is turned right side out. 

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Select a flower or bow for your headband. 

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Place a small dot of liquid stitch on your selected embellishment. 

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Place the embellishment on the nylon headband, holding securely in place between your thumb and pointer finger. Hold together for 15 seconds (or longer if the embellishment doesn't seem secure), before gently putting aside to dry. 

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Allow the headbands to dry for 30-60 minutes before attempting to stretch them or wear them. 

Repeat! Make a million of these little headbands and send me pictures of your creations! 

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That's it! As you can see, I've already made quite a few headbands for baby girl and I'm planning on making more! Looks like my next nesting project will be an organizer to hold all of her little accessories... 

For more cute baby creations, check out my Etsy shop! 

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Comment with a picture of your creations! 

Note: You can also make the nylon headbands by cutting up your old pantyhose. However, I didn't have any old pantyhose in a color I liked for headbands and therefore, have not tried this method. Let me know how it works for you if you try it! 

Juice and Smoothie Recipes for Kids

Even though we eat a primarily vegan diet in our house, I still sometimes struggle to get enough vegetables in Ransom. You know the Bible verse that says “man cannot live on bread alone”? Well Ransom took that as a challenge. The boy will ask for toast, bagels, crackers, pasta, etc. Carbs, carbs, and more carbs.

Enter the smoothie.

Smoothies are my current favorite way to sneak healthy servings of fruits and veggies into my little man. Usually I make a double batch first thing in the morning. He doesn’t always want it right away, but if he sees me drinking mine then he immediately wants his own. Mind games, you guys. And I’m not even a little ashamed if it makes my 2 year old consume raw kale.

Here are a few of Ransom’s favorite smoothie recipes. Please note: these taste best when drank directly from mom’s cup ;)

Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Smoothie

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From Chef Savvy. This smoothie is full of protein and the oatmeal keeps Ransom’s tummy nice and full all morning. Pro tip: add a tablespoon of flaxseed and a tablespoon of brewer’s yeast and you’ve got yourself a delicious lactation smoothie.

Pineapple Green Smoothie

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From Laura Fuentes. This is a really easy green smoothie recipe. I make this one      several times a week and sometimes I switch it up by adding in some frozen mango.

Almond Butter and Jelly Smoothie

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From In It 4 The Long Run. Because I have yet to meet a toddler that doesn’t like PB&J. This is a healthier version of the classic American sandwich.

Immune-Boosting Purple Smoothie

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From The Veggie Mama. This smoothie is especially good during cold and flu season, since I bring home all sorts of germs from work, or any other time that your little one needs an immune system boost!  

Blueberry Banana Kale Smoothie

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From Barefeet in the Kitchen. Lately we’ve been getting heaps and heaps of blueberries from our local farmer’s market and Ransom has been gobbling them up by the handful. If there are ever any left over, I like to make him this smoothie.

 

I hope that this gives you some ideas for new ways to get some fruits and veggies in your little one (or in you). Comment below and let me know what your favorite recipe was!

Essentials Items for Baby #2

 

 Note: This blog post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details. 

I've found that there are big differences between my first and second pregnancy. Not so much in terms of excitement and keeping track of how many weeks along I am like everyone told me, but in terms of preparation.

In some ways I feel like I'm more prepared for this baby. I mean, I've already kept one alive this long, right? I've figured out breastfeeding, introduced table foods, dealt with (read: still dealing with) sleep issues, been to the emergency room, and planned a first birthday party, so I feel like I have some sort of a grasp on how to get through the first year with a new baby.

But I haven't done any of those things with a toddler in tow. That's a whole other can of worms.

And what do I even really need to buy for a second baby?

Yes, I have lots of the baby items that I had from when Ransom was born, but some of them need to be replaced, there were some things we wanted but couldn't afford when he was born (thanks, grad school budget), and there are new baby products or products that would be helpful when trying to juggle two littles instead of just one.

So, I've been researching like a mad scientist and came up with this list of essentials (and some-so-essential-but-they're-really-cute) for a second baby. Take a look and let me know what you would add!

Britax B Safe 35 Elite Infant Seat

 

A new car seat. Did you know that car seats expire? Safety standards change over time and wear and tear on the car seat can reduce the protection it provides for your baby. Most car seats expire somewhere between five and nine years from the date that they were manufactured. While Ransom is only two and a half, we got his car seat from a cousin so the seat was a little older than that, and we have since passed it on to one of my siblings who had a baby. So, a new car seat for baby girl is definitely a must! This one has good safety ratings, a reasonable price tag, and fits the double stroller that I want...

Extra Car Seat Base

 

An extra car seat base. It was definitely worth spending a little extra money last time around to have an extra base for the hubby's car. Winters in Buffalo are cold and those extra minutes to switch the car seat base from car to car seem like an eternity.

Joovy Caboose Too Ultralight Tandem Stroller

 

I love that this stroller has the look of some of the more expensive, designer strollers, but for a fraction of the price! I tested it at a local baby store and it's lightweight and very easy to maneuver. And with the great reviews and the ability to turn it into a sit n' stand stroller on the days when Ransom wants to walk but just needs to grab a quick ride from time to time, I don't think I can go wrong with this stroller!

Britax Back Seat Mirror

 

I'll be honest, we definitely just lost the back seat mirrors that we had before. But still, they weren't super great in terms of the quality, and they didn't really stay put, so it's probably better to replace them. Britax gets a thumbs up from me for just about everything.

Citi Babies Diaper Bag Backpack

I loooooove this bag! It's cute and stylish, my husband will carry it without feeling like he's carrying a purse, and it's so practical! With all the pockets and compartments, it's bound to have plenty of space for baby items and toddler snacks. It even comes with a bonus car seat canopy to keep baby safe from germy hands.

Ergobaby 360 All Carry Positions Award-Winning Cool Mesh Ergonomic Baby Carrier, Carbon Grey

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Okay, so this one I actually already have from when Ransom was little, but I wouldn't feel right making a baby essentials list without including the Ergobaby! Ransom practically lived in the Ergobaby when he was tiny and I actually used it to carry him until I got pregnant with baby girl and couldn't manage the extra weight. I can only imagine how much I'll use my Ergobaby with this little one now that I've got a toddler to chase around!

Lalabu Soothe Shirt

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A baby-wearing shirt. This is one of those items that I really, really, really wanted when Ransom was born but it just wasn't in the budget. Perfect for skin-to-skin contact when big brother needs some attention too, and great for when baby girl is too tiny for the Ergobaby but I need to have my hands free.

Baby Milestone Blanket

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I'm just gonna go ahead and call this one an essential item. I have to track her age so why not do it with an adorable blanket?! Love the sweet pattern on this milestone blanket.

Wooden Baby Play Gym

 

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I love the simple design of this play gym. Perfect paired with a blanket or a Gathre mat and folds up easily, so you don't have a million baby toys monopolizing your living space.

Gathre Changing Mat

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Gathre changing mat. I still have my changing mat from when Ransom was itty bitty, but it's definitely reached the end of it's life and needs replacing. The Gathre mats are durable, beautiful, and easy to clean! Plus, they can double as a place for baby to play under the play gym listed above ;)

DockATot Deluxe+ Dock

 

I don't know how I missed these when Ransom was born, but I need one for this baby. They are supposedly the magic sleepy dust item for babies. They're made of breathable material for safety and they snuggle baby down just like they're being cradled in your arms. And most of the time she will actually be cradled in my arms, but I haven't had great luck with babies and sleep thus far so I could use a couple of extra tricks up my sleeve.

Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier

Because everyone stays healthier and happier when I keep my house feeling like a rain forest instead of the ice tundra that it actually is.

Burt's Bees Baby Burp Cloths - 100% Organic Cotton

 

I do still have burp cloths from when Ransom was little, but you really can't have too many of them. And I feel like baby girl deserves a couple of fresh ones to ruin herself.

Comotomo 5 oz and 8 oz Bottle Set

 

I'm planning on breastfeeding, but bottles are necessary for when I'm at work or the husband and I get to sneak out for a rare date night. These bottles are very similar to a human breast, making it easier for baby to switch back and forth between bottle and boob.

The UMMY: BPA-free 100% Natural Rubber Pacifier with Round Nipple, 0-3 Months

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Ransom never really took a pacifier, but he also never really slept, so.....
I'm going to give it another go with this girl, even if it's just at night. I like these pacifiers because they're made from 100% natural rubber and they're one solid piece so I don't have to worry about any bits breaking off in her mouth.

Loved By Sophia Claire Pacifier Clips

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To hold the aforementioned pacifiers. I love the sweet, simple design of these clips.

Loved By Sophia Claire Headbands

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One of the things I'm most excited about with having a little girl is all the cute little accessories! I can't get enough of these sweet little headbands by Loved By Sophia Claire. New mommies can get a free pacifier clip with their first order.

Some other items that you might need:

Crib - we'll be using the one that we got for Ransom, but if your first little is still occupying that you might need a second.

Changing Table - we found that we usually ended up changing Ransom on a changing mat on the floor so we're skipping this one.

New breast pump - I'm actually replacing mine as well, but having it covered through the insurance company.

Obviously tons of diapers and wipes. Unless you're a badass and you're cloth diapering, in which case more power to you and you probably already have all the old diapers from your last baby.

Baby clothes - there will probably be a lot of individual differences here depending on your personal style, gender of your babies, etc. I'm personally planning on reusing some of Ransom's clothes but spicing up baby girl's wardrobe with some frilly, girly stuff. Pairing Ransom's old Nirvana t-shirts with new frilly tutus and that sort of thing.

What would you add to this list?

I hope this list is helpful in your planning!

XO,
Rebecca 

Protein-Filled Vegan Snacks for Pregnancy

I’m just getting into my third trimester and the pregnancy hunger is really starting to hit full force. I go from my normal, nice(ish) self to snappy, headachey, and ready to eat your freaking face in a matter of about 5 seconds. And without any warning (my poor husband).
So what do you eat when you and your growing babe are suddenly famished?? Protein, of course! But where do you get your protein if you’re vegan? It’s actually really easy! Here are some quick and easy snacks that pack a punch of protein to keep you and baby satisfied and growing strong.

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Roasted Chickpeas

This recipe is from This Grandma is Fun. Chickpeas are loaded with protein (39 grams in a cup!). With just a little olive oil and seasonings, you can munch on these all day without a second thought!

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White Bean and Artichoke Basil Toasts

From A Pinch of Yum. I’m a total sucker for anything with spinach and artichoke. This recipe also calls for fresh basil, which happens to be growing in my garden right now. Yummmm!

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Chocolate Chia Protein Pudding

From Running on Real Food
Super easy, super healthy, super delicious.

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Black Bean Chocolate Protein Balls

From Emilie Eats. These protein balls have beans AND almond (or peanut) butter, so they are jam packed with protein! Eat up!

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Four Ingredient Flourless Brownies

From The Big Man’s World. These brownies are vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free.

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Healthy Baked Oatmeal Cups

From She Likes Food. There are six different variations on this recipes, so you won’t get bored. I’m planning on making a whole bunch of them and stashing them in the freezer so I have snacks for me and the little man when baby girl gets here.

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High Protein Black Bean and Lime Dip

From Hurry the Food Up. This dip is super quick to make (like, 10 minutes or less) and is deliciously good for you.

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Protein Breakfast Bars

From Wallflower Kitchen. Breakfast bars aren’t just for breakfast, guys. Grab one of these any time you’re feeling a little hangry.

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Salted Lime Popcorn

From My Sequined Life. Life a margarita but crunchy and you can have it while you’re preggers.

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Salt and Vinegar Roasted Edamame

From Emilie Eats. Because I’d be lying if I said that I don’t drool over salt and vinegar potato chips, and these satisfy that craving and are 1000xs better for you.

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Red Lentil Granola Bars

From FANNEtastic Food. In case you were getting tired of all the black beans on this list, this recipe switches it up and uses red lentils. These granola bars are yummy and packed with amazingly healthy ingredients.

Chocolate and Black Bean Smoothie
From (Never) Homemaker. No picture, but this smoothie is easy and delicious.

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Black Raspberry Chip Protein Nice Cream

From Beaming Banana. Ice Cream with protein?! Sign me up! This recipe calls for SunWarrior Protein Powder, but you could substitute with your favorite vegan protein powder. Switch up the frozen fruit to create lots of different flavors.

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Mashed Chickpea Salad


From the Glowing Fridge. Perfect for when you’re craving something fresh and fast.

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Avocado and Banana Smoothie

From PopSugar. This smoothie contains honey, so if you’re a strict vegan you can swap it out for a little agave nectar or maple syrup, or omit it entirely.

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Apple Oat Protein Muffins

Another from Running on Real Food because her stuff is delish. This little muffins are also gluten-free. I like to make a bunch and throw them in the freezer so I always have a quick snack on hand.

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Avocado Toast with White Beans

From Abbey’s Kitchen. No vegan snack list would be complete without an avocado toast, right? It's so trendy right now. This one combines avocado and white beans for extra protein and is topped with delicious homemade roasted tomatoes.

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Cauliflower Hashbrown Patties

From Healthier Steps. My son loves the Trader Joe’s hashbrown patties, but let’s be real - they’re basically french fries for breakfast. This recipe is a healthier, more protein-filled spin on the classic hashbrown patties.

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Endurance Crackers with Hummus

From Oh She Glows. These crackers are not only vegan, they’re gluten-free, nut-free, sugar-free, and oil-free. Oh, and guilt-free! Serve with hummus for a protein-filled snack for you and baby.

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Israeli-Style Extra-Smooth Hummus

From Serious Eats. Have you ever read the ingredients label on store bought hummus? They’re often filled with cheap oils, preservatives, and other nasties that your body doesn’t need. But hummus is a staple in our house, so what to do? Make your own! It’s cheap, fast, and reaaaaaaally easy!

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Edamame-Ginger Dip

From Eating Well. This dip is like hummus sprinkled with Asian flavors. So, so yummy, and so, so protein-packed. Try it with rice crackers or carrot sticks.

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Avocado Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

From A Cookie Named Desire. I know, another smoothie but this one seriously tastes like a milkshake and it’s soooo healthy for you.

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Baked Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower Dip

From Veggies Don’t Bite. Baby girl has been craving buffalo and ranch EVERYTHING this pregnancy. Or maybe it’s just me, but whatever…. I need all the buffalo and ranch. This recipe has the yummy buffalo flavor with none of the guilt and all of the protein. Everyone wins!

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Soft and Chewy Protein Granola Bars

From Running with Spoons. Nice and simple granola bars. These remind me of the store bought granola bars but so much healthier. This is another recipe that you can double or triple so you have extras on hand for when you need a quick snack.

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Rainbow Hummus Rolls

From Hello Nutritarian. These rolls make a perfect quick snack, or could be made into a meal by adding a side. Try it with the veggies in the original recipe or switch it up for different flavor combinations.

 

Eight Healthy Changes to Make Today

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Let me see a show of hands of everyone who’s ever made a new year’s resolution? A bunch of you, right? How many of you stuck with the resolution all year (you don’t have to raise your hand).

If your goals didn’t stick, turns out you’re not alone: only about 8% of people actually achieve their new year’s resolutions. So does that mean that you should just throw in the towel and break out a bag of doritos? Nope! By setting small, quickly attainable goals instead of major life-overhaul resolutions, you’re able to stick with your goals and see quick results. Keeping in mind that health is a continual process, not a final destination, here are eight small things that you can start doing TODAY to get yourself on track towards your health goals. What would you add to this list to personalize it to your goals?

  1. Drink More Water. I know, it’s super basic, but I know that I get busy and forget to drink enough water alllllll the time. Aim for 9 glasses a day if you’re a woman and 13 if you’re a man. Drinking enough water not only helps to keep you hydrated, it helps to flush out toxins from your body, boosts your immune system and your energy, and helps with your complexion. So chug!
  2. Walk more. Or just move more in general. Get a fitness tracker and set a step goal every day. I usually aim for 10-15,000 steps a day. Make a game of it! Challenge a friend to see who can get the most steps. Moving every day not only helps with weight loss and management, but hello? It puts you in a better mood too!
  3. Take the stairs. I work on the 7th floor of my office building a few days a week and I’ve created a ‘No Elevator’ rule for myself. That means I’m hauling my pregnant booty up 7 flights of stairs several times a day. And if I can do that, you can do it too. Tone those legs and buns!
  4. Eat a piece of fruit and a veggie with every meal. Fill up on the nutrient-dense good stuff! The more fruits and veggies you consume, the more your body will learn to crave them and when the munchies hit, you’ll be more likely to reach for veggies and hummus than chips and dip. Perfect practice makes perfect!
  5. Take Time to Reflect. Carve out some time each day for intentional reflection. That could mean journalling, reading something that manifests spiritual growth, or simply sitting in silence and doing breath work. Even 15 minutes a day creates the potential for great personal growth!
  6. Laugh Often. Laughter is good for your soul… and your heart, your blood pressure, your hormonal levels, and your abs. So find a reason to laugh every day. Surround yourself with people who make you smile and laugh as much as possible. Watch silly youtube videos. Go to a comedy show. Talk with a toddler (Ransom always makes me laugh with his crazy stories).
  7. Get Outside. Spending time outdoors is a natural antidepressant, plus you’ll probably be moving around and getting extra steps in while you’re out there. Take a walk on your lunch break, go kayaking, or run around the backyard or the park with your kiddos. The hubby and I love to load up Ransom in the Ergobaby and walk down the road to our neighbor’s horse farm so Ransom can see the animals. Have fun and try to be in the moment, recognizing whatever unique sights and smells strike you along the way.
  8. Get a Good Night’s Sleep. Your body needs around 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and without that your physical and mental health take a major downwards spiral. If sleep is a problem for you, start by practicing good sleep hygiene. That means going to bed at the same time every night, turning off screens an hour before you want to fall asleep (no scrolling through Facebook or Netflix binging), and creating a relaxing bedtime routine, like a warm shower and reading a book, or sipping on a hot cup of herbal tea.