Beach Days

As a Clevelander, I’m fortunate enough to live in close proximity to Lake Erie. Is it the best place to swim, lay out, or hang out? Probably not. But, for a toddler who hasn’t seen the beaches of the Caribbean or walked in the sand of Mexico, it’s pretty incredible.

This weekend we had a little bit of down time, so we decided to head to the lakefront. What a beautiful weekend of sunshine, warm weather, and the lightheartedness of summer.

CLEcitymom Beach Days

The awe and wonder of waves hitting your child’s feet for the first time is one of the most magical things I’ve experienced.

Watching J-bird grab the sand in her hands, draw little shapes with her fingers, and discover the not-so-pleasant feeling of wiping your face after you’ve been digging in the sand was so incredible.

CLEcitymom Beach Babe

It’s so easy to take these experiences for granted, especially when you’ve traveled a decent amount and seen many amazing things. But, wow… watching a toddler discover the world really puts it all back into perspective!

So here’s to a new week. May the beauty of this world remind us of how big and amazing our God is.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. — Psalm 19

Cheers,

Anna

Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

We recently took a fabulous trip to NYC…with a toddler. To my surprise, she handled all the traveling like a champ and seemed to have a wonderful time, as well.

Being raised in the city, J-bird is in love with tall buildings, people watching, and riding the “big train.”

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

Our trip was somewhat Hamilton themed. We visited his home “The Grange”, the dueling grounds where he was shot, the Morris Jumel mansion where President Washington had meetings, Fraunces Tavern, where Washington gave his farewell address, Trinity Church where Hamilton is buried, and of course, we saw the Hamilton musical on Broadway.

It was magical.

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

There were definitely some key things we did or brought that helped make this trip a success.

For the car, an almost 8 hour drive, we had some fun activities and a very enjoyable ride. Here’s a list of a few tips that helped make it work for us:

  • Bring a few “new” items in a special bag. Our new items were:
    • Play dough
    • Magna Doodle
    • A new coloring book
  • Bring lots of snacks.
  • Bring a few dolls or staple toys you know your child loves
    • J-bird spent a decent amount of time in her own imaginary world with her stuffed animals and her purse…she LOVES having a purse

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

Navigating the city required a few more staples…

  • Purell gel and hand wipes
  • Snack containers with plastic rings that you can attach to the stroller
  • A very very very lightweight and easy to open/close umbrella stroller with a cover
  • Snacks on hand at all times
  • Water bottles with good lids to keep the tops clean and leak free

I cannot even explain how much I loved traveling to NYC. The city is electric. I love seeing so many people pursuing their dreams. 

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

Oh…and the food is amazing. We eat vegan and had absolutely no problem finding food. Our favorite spots included Superiority Burger and By CHLOE’S.

CLEcitymom Traveling to NYC with a Toddler

Cheers,

Anna

City Gardening with a Toddler

Gardening with a toddler is a memorable, sensory filled experience that I am so glad I did with J-Bird (aka my kid).

Watching her touch the seeds and the soil was so fascinating. We live in the city, and she’s spent the majority of her life in the concrete jungle known as Cleveland, so grassy plains and earthy adventures are not really childhood memories for her.

Raised Bed Garden

CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

You may be wondering why our garden is in a giant plastic bin.

Cleveland has a lead problem. We have lead in our paint and lead in the city soil. So, the best option for gardening is a raised bed that doesn’t have access to this lead-filled soil. As a working mom who is also in school, I just don’t have time to build a beautiful raised bed. This bin situation is quick, easy, and still loads of fun.

So we took one of our large plastic bins (you can get one for about $5 at Target, Walmart, etc…), drilled large holes in the bottom for drainage,  and filled it with organic raised bed soil from Home Depot. The bin was filled with 2 bags. (Don’t mind the grass the fell into our bin. Totally unintentional!)

Soil

CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

We then planted our seeds according to the directions on the seed packs, watered the soil, and let the fun begin. It’s been a few weeks and we are starting to see results!!!

I love going out and checking on our garden with J. She loves touching the dirt and gets so excited to see the plants growing.

Seeds

CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

It’s not a big garden, but with a small child, it is very manageable and a fun experience that doesn’t cost much. You even get to enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labor!

We planted peas, spinach, and kale!

I’m sure a super mom out there could take this to the next level and have fun painting the bin. I’m far from a super mom- more like a fly by the seat of my pants kind of mom, so our bin is just blue. But you know what, it works.

Plants

CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

We had so much fun with this little spring adventure.

Here’s a rundown of the supplies:

  • 1 large plastic bin
  • A drill or any kind of sharp object you can make holes in the bottom with
  • 2 bags of organic raised bed soil
  • Seeds
  • A watering can (you can always use a plain old cup if needed)
CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

CLEcitymom Raised Bed Garden

I hope you try this with your littles! It was so fun!

Cheers,

Anna

Toddler Muffin Essentials

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What makes up a great, nutritional muffin for your toddler? Here are some of the essential ingredients and a recipe!

I am in love with muffins. Muffins are so unassuming yet can sneakily provide great nutrients to your little one. They can also be full of a ton of junk, so let’s figure out what makes a great baby/toddler muffin and try out a recipe or two!

Let’s start with some of the basic foods that are essential for babies and toddlers before age 2. Fats, carbohydrates, fruits/vegetables, and protein. Let’s delve into how you can use these basic food groups to make amazing muffins for your kiddos.

Fat: Dietary fat is crucial to development, especially brain development. Fat should make up 40-50% of the baby/toddler’s diet. Different fats provide different types of nutrients, so it’s good to rotate between a few different fat sources. Some of my favorite include organic olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil, canola oil, ground flax seed, and avocado. Load your muffins up with fat!

Carbohydrates: Probably a given in a muffin recipe, but good carbs are essential for energy for your little one. I like to use whole wheat pastry flour in my muffins to add some fiber. You could also use other whole grain flours.

Fruits and Vegetables: Consuming enough fruits and vegetables in a day is key to providing your little one with the nutrients he or she needs. We aim for around 3 vegetables and 1-2 fruits a day for our toddler. (More on serving sizes here). I love to make muffins full of pureed, chopped, or shredded fruits and veggies. Some of my favorites are pumpkin, apple, carrot, spinach, banana, squash, zucchini, and blueberry.

Protein: This nutrient is key for building up the body. Protein can easily be added to muffins to add some substance and ooomph to your kiddo’s meal. Some of my favorite proteins in muffins are chia seeds and nut butters.

So now that we are on the same page about what we want IN a muffin, let’s make sure we know what we DON’T want in a muffin.

First of all, try to limit sugar. I like to take muffin recipes and adjust them to be healthy for my toddler. I always cut the sugar at least in half, if not more. I just made muffins with 1/8 c. sugar. They came out great and I didn’t even miss the sugar!

Second, watch out for recipes with nuts. While I am all about adding nut butters, nuts are a choking hazard, so don’t go feeding your baby or toddler muffins with whole/cut up nuts…stick to nut butters.

Last, try to limit the salt. I scale the salt way down. Salt’s not a huge deal, but if your toddler is eating processed foods, he or she is probably getting plenty.

My challenge to you is to take any old muffin recipe you like, and alter it to be a nutrient jackpot for your little one. Here’s an example of what you can do:

For a vegan option, replace eggs: replace each egg with a flax or chia seed egg. (Mix one tablespoon of ground flaxseed or chia seeds with 3T water. Let sit for 5 mins in the fridge. Viola! Egg replacer that’s full of protein and essential fatty acids!)

Instead of sugar: try using 1/2 to 3/4 LESS sugar. You can also replace white sugar with coconut sugar for bonus points. Remember- no honey before age one if you go that route with the sweetener.

Remember… Load up on the fats!

Feeling good about this?

I try to make muffins every week or so and throw them in the freezer for BGs breakfast throughout the week. This week’s muffins were banana muffins!

Here’s the recipe for Toddler Banana Muffins:

INGREDIENTS

Makes 12 muffins

  • 3 ripe mashed bananas
  • 1/8 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ cup organic coconut oil
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk (I like flax + protein milk)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1¾ cups whole wheat pastry flour

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350°. Place muffin liners in your muffin pan.
  2. Put all ingredients into your mixer in the order listed above. Make sure the bananas get nice and pureed. Once the flour is added, only mix until combined.
  3. Fill your muffin tins about ¾ of the way full and place in the oven. Bake for 21-22 minutes or until toothpick comes out dry.
  4. Let the muffins sit in the pan for a few mins and then transfer to a cooling rack.
  5. Once they are cool enough, enjoy!

 

If you try out the recipe let me know what you think!

Happy baking!

xo

CLEcitymom

 

PS…The info on this blog is informational/opinion and not medical advice. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice.

the one year birthday party

My child is one! I had so much fun throwing her a birthday party (with lots of help from my parents) and wanted to share some of the memories with you.

Her day of course started with birthday waffles. How could it not?

After breakfast we got ready and headed out to my parent’s house for the festivities. Birthday Girl had 3 outfits to wear that day…her “I’m cute so let’s take a picture” outfit, her “smash cake tutu” outfit, and the “okay people, leave me alone now” outfit.

I’m sure I had more fun with the outfit changes than she did.

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Our festivities included lunch, with lots of her favorite vegan foods, a little photo booth session, the smash cake, and presents.

What was on the menu at a 1 year old’s vegan birthday party?

Appetizer: Squash and Carrot Soup
Salad: Big green salad with lots of fresh veggies
Main: Lentil Bolognese over pasta
Dessert: Fruit
Drinks: Sparkling Wine
Dessert: Vegan Cupcakes

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Birthday Girl was hilarious with the photos. She’s such a squirmy active girl, so it took a lot of effort to get her to smile at the camera.

And then came the smash cake. Holy. Cow. This cake was delicious. (and yes, I totally ate some of her cake) #MinimalistBaker, you know what you’re doing. It was really fun making the cake. I couldn’t really justify spending money on a cake that would most likely end up on the ground, so I made it myself. It turned out delicious!

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Our last activity, opening presents, was a lot of fun. Birthday Girl did it all by herself! She knew exactly what to do with the bags and tissue paper. She was really cracking us up though with the cards. She was super into a pink cat card from my grandma, and the other cards that were big. The cards that were smaller she would just toss to the side. Picky little girl! As the presents kept going she would periodically return to playing with the cat card. Sorry Birthday Girl, you are not about to get a cat.

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I think the other highlight of the party was BG showing off her newly acquired skill of responding “baaa” to the question, “What does the sheep say?” How could you not love that?

This girl has stolen our hearts. She’s loves to laugh and be with people. She just started walking this week, so the adventure is definitely going to continue to get interesting! Up next…climbing!

xo

CLEcitymom

 

the day it all started

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February 25th… One year ago today, I woke up with the anticipation of Baby Girl arriving at any moment. It was my due date, so get it together kid…it’s time to come out.

I went to work hoping to make it through the day without my water breaking all over my cubicle, or something horrifically embarrassing like that. Thankfully that didn’t happen. Instead, I started feeling the tiniest contractions every 30 minutes in the late afternoon. “This is it,” I thought.

Little did I know that it would be 48 more hours of contractions, 3 visits to the delivery unit, and a heck of a lot of pain and screaming before I would get to meet Baby Girl.

One year later, I’m planning a birthday party, sipping my coffee, and enjoying the giggles of my little girl.

In one year so much has changed in our lives. Date nights require babysitters, the apartment gets really quiet after the 7:00 pm bedtime commences, and getting out the door is no small task.

Our vocabulary has changed to include baby babble, our Amazon cart is full of diapers and wipes, and our apartment looks like Toys R’ Us’ vomited all over the place.

Despite the chronic sleep deprivation and busy schedules, this has been the best year of my life. Baby Girl is full of personality, loves to laugh, and is a social butterfly. She will literally stare you down until engage in conversation with her. She thinks it’s hilarious to jump on Daddy’s pillow in the morning while he sleeps. She gives very open mouth kisses and puts the phone up to her ear when you say “hello.” She is incredibly active and basically never stops moving. Her favorite thing to say (and then giggle) is “ba-di-gum.” Maybe one day we’ll figure out what she means.

This is my girl.

I’m treasuring up the last two days before Baby Girl turns one. The countdown to the smash cake has begun!

Xo

CLEcitymom

 

sleeper sacks we love

I have no idea how to swaddle a baby. I’ve watched the YouTube videos and seen other people do it, but for some reason, the blanket and I don’t work well together.

It’s fine, though. Honestly, I see no reason why this skill is needed when there are amazing sleeper sacks that will swaddle your child in about 2 seconds with a little Velcro.

I’ve fallen in love with our sleeper sacks over the past 11+ months and wanted to share the ones we’ve used and enjoyed. We’ve transitioned from the types that swaddle to a simple wearable blanket that’s easy to use, and keeps my little sugar plum nice and cozy.

I should probably mention that we use sleeper sacks for two reasons:

  1. Swaddling was a lifesaver the first few months. Like I mentioned before, I can’t swaddle to save my life. But, swaddling is like magic. To be more precise, the 5S‘ are magic. So when I saw blankets that swaddle my child with a zip and a piece of Velcro, I was sold.
  2. I’m not into putting blankets in the crib. Maybe it’s “first child” syndrome. Maybe I’m just super cautious. If there’s a safer option for my baby than a blanket, let’s do it.

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The Newborn Days of Swaddling

Sooo. Our favorite sleeper sack that swaddles is the HALO SleepSack Micro-Fleece Swaddle. This was so incredibly easy to use, and held Baby Girl snug and safe. I also like how it comes in different fabrics, depending on the season.

One night as we were checking on Baby Girl we saw her arms escape the swaddle sack and then sneak back under the fabric…sneaky little girl! We decided that she might be ready to have her arms free at that point, so we started wrapping her body in the swaddle wings and leaving her arms out. This was after she was about 3-4 months old.

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Freeedoooom, Freeeedom! Let my arms out!

When she outgrew the Halo SleepSack we transitioned to Carter’s Sleepbag 0-9 Months
with fleece arms. This was perfect for the summer, as it’s not too thick but keeps the chill of the air conditioning away.

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Stop Growing Up! 

And then it happened. She outgrew the 9 month sleeper sack. How was this possible? It was so huge when I got it at my baby shower. This can’t be right.

But it was…

I’m a few weeks shy of having a toddler. Over the last few months we transitioned into the Baby Deedee Sleep Nest .This is an amazing sleep sack. When it came I was a little skeptical. The arm holes seemed big, so we waited another month before trying it out. Once we did, we were hooked. BG stayed nice and warm and had plenty of room inside the sack to move her legs. She sleeps so well in this!

We love our sleeper sacks!

What about you? Do you have a favorite sleeper sack?

Hope you are staying warm! Happy Friday!

xo

CLEcitymom