Saturday, July 30, 2011

Babywearing & The Sleepy Wrap (Video)

"Wearing" Avery at 4 weeks old
Now it didn't take long after Avery was born for me to ask myself, "How am I going to get ______ done, now that I have a baby?" The blank being things like cooking dinner, vacuuming, doing laundry, and just plain getting ready to go out in public.  Avery doesn't mind sitting in something we call "The Rock N' Roller" for 10-15 minutes max while she's awake, so I try to get done what I can while she's in that but it's usually short-lived. This leaves me with completing all the tasks I mentioned above, while Avery is asleep or with a baby in one arm. Now this is fine for awhile, but then your arm gets tired and everything you do takes double the time because you have to do it one-handed (which is how I'm typing this post right now...with one hand, since I'm holding Avery with the other hand while she eats-lol).  This leads me to babywearing, or as I call it on some days, "my sanity"!  Babywearing is just that- you wear your baby! I first read about babywearing in The Baby Book by Dr. Sears, and countless other baby books, as it has benefits for both mom and baby, and is used by moms all over the world. 

Some of the benefits of babywearing for babies (according to Dr. Sears website and the Sleepy Wrap website):
  • cry less
  • learn more (are smarter)
  • are healthier (seen to gain weight faster and have better motor skills)
  • get a better view of the world
  • become independent faster since they feel loved and cared for
  • sleep better
  • are happier
Not to mention benefits for parents as well, such as:
  • Creates better communication between parent and baby.
  • Is convenient, since you don't have to lug them around everywhere in a car seat (boy is that thing heavy and awkward!)
  • Encourages parents to stay active since they can easily take the baby with them. I've been able to "wear" Avery here at home, to the grocery store, and even to the beach!
  • Not to mention you probably burn a few more calories when you're wearing them.
  • Builds confidence in parents since they know their baby's needs are met.
I guess this is how the "Sleepy Wrap" gets it's name!
Some of my favorite things about babywearing are:
  • Being able to get things done around the house...hands-free!
  • Bonding with Avery. This along with baby massage as I mentioned on this post, will be one of my favorite things to do with Avery once I get home from a long day of work.  It will be great to have her nice and close, and I doubt she'll mind!
  • It takes the pressure off my arms and back and distributes it evenly so I don't mind holding her for longer periods of time (see more about the special wrap I use below).
  • Knowing all of Avery's needs are met.  Sometimes I feel guilty just leaving her sitting in her Rock N' Roller or doing Tummy Time, what can I say, I'm a new mom! So to be able to get things done and keep her satisfied with me (not just laying around all alone) feels so much better. 
Getting some onions from Costco at 2 months old.
Now babywearing is all nice and dandy when you talk about the benefits, but when you start looking for the type of wrap or sling you want to use, things get a bit more confusing. There's slings (which go over one shoulder and create a pouch for the baby), wraps (a piece of fabric that can be tied and wrapped around for a variety of ages and positions...that's what I'm wearing in all of these pictures), as well as other soft structure carriers (Mei Tai) or probably the most commonly known, Baby Bjorn

So, being the little prepared, pregnant planner mama I research around and found this Seven Slings sling online and decided to give it a try.  But when Avery was born I tried putting her in it and it just didn't feel right.  She seemed so tiny and crunched up...maybe I had the wrong size I don't know, it just didn't feel right.  So I began looking online, and found the Balboa Sling, which Dr. Sears himself recommends.  After paying for next-day shipping (silly momma), it arrived and I tried it out on Avery and although it seemed to fit a bit better, it gave me one aching back after just 15-20 minutes of wearing it...darn it! It basically felt like I was carrying a heavy messenger bag that was only going to get bigger and heavier as the weeks went on, ouch! Slings were not for me. Let the online research and shopping continue!

That's when I came across The Sleepy Wrap.  Originally I was put off by all the wraps and ties, but once I learned how to put it on, it was all worth it.  I loved the quote on the front page of their website: "The baby wrap proven to calm and relax your baby from day one." Sign me up! So, once again I paid for next-day shipping, and when it arrived I tried it on and never looked back.  Does the format look similar to the Moby Wrap? Well, you're right, it's very similar to the Moby Wrap, the main difference is the fabric and how the Sleepy Wrap uses more spandex in it's fabric and it's a heavier, high quality knit.  What this means is that although the Moby Wrap may stretch out over time, the Sleepy Wrap always bounces back and stays nice and snug to your baby and your body. 

On the beach at 2 1/2 months.
Some of my favorite features of the Sleepy Wrap are:
  • No pressure on my back, shoulders, arms, etc. Love this feature! It makes me enjoy carrying her!
  • No special sizing involved, everyone who wears it can adjust it to fit them.  Brandon has even worn it from time to time here at the house.
  • They have organic fabric available.
  • Can be worn for many months (starting right at birth) and even into toddlerhood, without having to buy differnt models or changing sizes.
Need more convincing on the benefits of the Sleepy Wrap? Check their comparison page here, it's very informative.  Maybe you have some questions, so here's their FAQ's page that may help. 

Now one thing to note is that the creators of The Sleepy Wrap do not recommend wearing babies in a "facing out" position. Although this position is a great way for babies to look out and see the world, it
does not provide good head, neck or leg support.  Also, babies can not turn away if the outside environment becomes too overwhelming (something I see Avery do from time to time when we are at a busy grocery store). It also makes it difficult for parents to read their babies cues since they are facing out.  Read more about this forward-facing issue here.

Now just with everything on my blog, do what works for you!  Maybe the Seven Slings sling works great for you, or Baby Bjorn is your go-to carrier...that's great! We're all different and so are our babies, so try out a few and find the one that works perfect for you!

So now that you know the benefits of babywearing and my favorite type of wrap, let me show you how to put it on!  As I've mentioned many times before, I learn best through videos, so when my Sleepy Wrap arrived in the mail I watched YouTube videos over and over about how to correctly put it on, and they were a lifesaver.  So, for this post I figured I'd let you meet Avery (video-style) and show you my favorite way to put on the Sleepy Wrap.  Here we are in her room (Want to see all the work we put into it while I was pregnant? Check out this link!) and I'll show you one way you can put on the Sleepy Wrap:



Did you like Avery just chilling out in the chair waiting while I put on the wrap? He he! She cracks me up.  I have a feeling this won't be the last time she shows up in a video on my blog!

Well that's the Sleepy Wrap, my favorite type of wrap that helps Avery and I reap the many benefits that come from babywearing.  Have you ever done babywearing with your little one? If so, what carrier did you like best? I'd love to hear what worked for you. Happy Babywearing from Avery and I! ( :

Saturday, July 23, 2011

3 Months Old

So my little girl is not so little anymore as she celebrated her 3 month birthday this past week.  As you can see from the pictures she is growing more and more each day. 


She now weighs 15 lbs right on the dot! Raising a child is such an incredible experience because things are always changing.  One day it's a big deal that she smiled at us, and then a few weeks later those smiles are accompanied by some "coos" and "ahhs" and it just blows your mind!  I wonder what will be next?


Anyways, when the big b-day rolled around, I broke out the camera, stickers, and headband...which is getting fairly tight, and started the monthly photo shoot.  It's getting more fun now that her personality is starting to show, as you will see in the many expressions she has in this post.   And I love to see how much she has changed in just three short months. 

Now it's time for the close-up shot!


Seems like her legs are getting longer and that face sure is filling out! Now if you've read any of the last two "birthday posts" you know there's usually some type of blooper or funny moment that happens each time I try to take these pictures, and as expected we had one this month.  This time around she was determined to show off some of her standing skills.  So when we we taking a break from the pictures, I had her practice standing up on the chair and this made her very happy!  Here she is showing of her strong legs.
"Watch me stand up!"


Another highlight of the photo shoot was Avery chewing on her hands.  This has been her newest thing in the past month.  Sometimes it's a sign that she's hungry, and other times she seems to just do it as a way of exploring and satisfying her urge to chew.  And although it's a stretch, I suppose she may be teething...yikes! Let's just say it's her way of learning and exploring right now.  Mama is not ready for little teeth to start poking out! Anyone else remember their 3 month old doing this?


"These hands are fun to chew on!"
Onto other aspects of her development, she's been quite active this past month and I've hinted before in some of my posts that she doesn't seem to like doing "baby things" as I can imagine her calling them once she's grown up.  For example, she does not like to be held cradled, she wants to be sitting up and  facing out.  She doesn't like to be just laying on her back, she likes to be propped up or sitting/standing up with support.  Make way, Avery is one "grown up" girl!
Tummy Time with the "bonus support" of the Boppy.

"I like to sit up at the counter now!"

Sitting up in her Bumbo seat to look at a book

"Standing is my favorite!"

Boy do I love her legs!


Also, I've mentioned before how I have loved using this Fischer Price Rock N' Play Sleeper (or Rock N' Roller as we call it), but it seems as though Avery is about to grow out of it since she likes to stand in it now instead of laying in it.  Take a trip down memory lane with these two photos of her in the Rock N' Roller.  What a change!

3 months old
1 week old.

Farewell Rock N' Roller! We got a lot of use and memories out of you! Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks to see what gadget has replaced the Rock N' Roller! ( :

Now, to tag onto my "Body After Birth" post, one way that I manage to get my workouts done now that Avery is 3 months old is to utilize the MamaRoo gadget we got before she was born.  Now when we saw this thing online for the first time, we were sold.  We envisioned Avery crying and upset and then putting her in the Mama Roo and it instantly making her happy and content.  Let's just say it didn't quite go that way the first time we tried it.  We set her in it and she just looked at us like: "Okay guys, you can take me out now."

For the next 2 months or so, I didn't use it much, but it has made a comeback now during my workouts.  Basically I try to capitalize on Avery's first 30 minute nap of the day by giving her some time to play in the MamaRoo and then hopefully fall asleep in the MamaRoo.  So how do I do this? I make sure she has a clean diaper, been fed, and is relatively tired and then I put her in the MamaRoo and begin my workout.  I start the movement (it does 5) and turn on the ocean sounds.  She usually chills out, watching the colored balls that hang or looks at a fun book I've propped up for her to see.  Then about 25-30 minutes in, she konks out and sleeps for 30 more minutes. During this hour time period, I get my workout in for the day.  

By no means is this a fool-proof plan, because some days she'll fall asleep really quickly and then wakes up quickly and then cries to get out of there.  Other days she won't fall asleep for a long time, so I just adjust as we go.  Sometimes it helps when she holds her little Panda beanie baby to fall asleep.  Now I'm not a huge fan of putting her in gadgets all day, every day, but I feel okay about doing this for one hour a day so I can get my workout in as it helps me to stay healthy and take care of her. Just thought you might want to know what I'm doing now to get my workouts in each day at this stage in Avery's development. What other ways do you get your workouts done when you have a baby?

Here's how a typical workout session goes with the help of the Mama Roo...
1.  Chill time for the first half

2.  Sleepy time for the second half.


Now that you know the low-down on what things are like for Avery at 3 months, here are a few fun pictures to finish the post with.  Enjoy!

One of her many funny expressions.

Nothing quite catches her attention like a book...or her Dad!


Just some cuteness!


Well that wraps things up for her 3 month birthday! Anyone else remember fun milestones that accompanied that 3 month mark?  I can't wait to see what the next month has in store for us!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Baby Massage

So when I was pregnant,  all the baby books I read mentioned something about about infant massage, or "baby massage" as I like to call it.  The books described how baby massage can have a number of benefits for the baby and for bonding, so naturally I was sold.  The only problem I had was trying to learn how to do it based on the pictures or illustrations in the books.  I don't know about you, but I learn movement-type tasks better when they are in video form, as opposed to still pictures. So I knew if I was going to be any good at this baby massage business I'd have to get a video or something to teach me.
Baby massage with Avery at 2 months old.
 
Enter: Massage Practice for Infants by Michelle Kluck-Ebbin. I was hoping to embed the video preview here for you to watch, but I was unable to due to the format. I was able to find it on the Gaiam site though, so if you're interested in a preview, check it out here.  This DVD was excellent. It was very informative and easy to follow.  It taught me not only about do the movements in baby massage,  but also WHY you do the movements. 


When I first started doing baby massage on Avery, I set my laptop up right on our bed and watched the DVD on there, so I could follow right along with the instructor as I massaged Avery.  After a few times of this, I got the hang of it and felt confident enough to try it without the DVD, since I had pretty much memorized the routine.  As of now, I don't need the DVD, and I've kind of come up with my very own baby massage routine based on the one from the DVD.  Occasionally I will re-watch the DVD to refresh my memory though.  If you are considering baby massage, but don't know where to start, I highly recommend this DVD. Last, don't feel pressured to follow the DVD step by step.  I tweaked some of the movements and the amount of time I do them on Avery based on her interests and needs, so do the same for you and your baby. 


Wondering why baby massage is worth the time and effort? Here are some of the many benefits of baby massage (as cited by the DVD) :
  • helps promote faster weight gain
  • stimulates baby's neurological development
  • helps baby sleep better
  • relieves gas, colic, constipation, and the pain of teething
  • helps deepen communication between parent and infant
  • builds a solid foundation for your child's health and well-being
Not sold yet? Here are some of my favorite things about baby massage:
  • time for me to relax and bond with Avery-As a mom, I get busy with changing diapers, cleaning house, etc. this gives me a chance to slow down, take it easy and bond with my baby girl.
  • seems to increase her attention span-  In the beginning she would only last about 5 or 10 minutes, but now we can go for 10 to 15 and even some days 20 minutes! Of course she looks away from time to time, but for the most part she stays focused and happy with the activity at hand.  I think she likes all the hands on attention-lol!
  • you can do it anywhere- I had fun keeping this massage routine up even when we went on vacation and I'm sure Avery appreciated the consistency in our routine.
  • helps you get to know your baby's body- Sounds like a weird thing to say, but it wasn't until I did this DVD for the first time that I was like, "Oh my gosh look how tiny her little pinky toe is!" or "Her little ears are so cute!" It makes you appreciate all the fun features of your baby.   On a more preventive note, this could also be helpful in catching changes in baby's skin or body, such as: bumps, scratches, or rashes that might go unnoticed otherwise. 
  • it seems to help her just be happier- Sometimes if I go a few days without a massage I can tell a difference in her behavior and her digestion.  She seems more cranky and gassy.  By keeping up with the massage, I feel like I'm able to help her relax and stay more regular. 


When to start and how:
I started doing massage with Avery when she was about a month old, but I'm sure you could try it earlier if you'd like, and looking back I wish I would have.  I think I was just nervous that I would "get it wrong".  But then I realized that Avery is a baby and she has no idea about the "right" or "wrong" way to give a massage, so I put my perfectionism aside and just did it one day and I'm so glad I did. As of now I give Avery a massage once a day (it helps that I'm a teacher and I am home all day every day enjoying my summer break), but some days we get busy and I don't have time for it and that's okay. I try to catch it the next day.  Do what's comfortable for you and what works for your baby and your schedule.  My favorite time to do massage on Avery is a little after she's been fed and right before her longest morning nap.  The massage really relaxes her and prepares her for sleep.  Before bed would probably be a great time too!


Supplies needed for baby massage:
  • Your baby...obviously! Make sure he or she is fed (but not right after a feeding) usually I wait at least 15 minutes. Also, I find it easiest to massage Avery in just her diaper, sometimes I let her go naked if she needs some diaper-free air time. If I do this I make sure to put a cloth diaper under her, in case she decides to pee...which she usually does once at each massage session!
  • Soft place to sit . I like our bed because it's comfy for both of us.
  • Some type of oil, I use Aura Cacia Sweet Almond Natural Skin Care Oil.  It cost $5-6 and can be found at most health food stores or online.  I was worried at first about putting anything on Avery's skin, but the ingredients are so pure (just almond oil and natural vitamin E)  that I knew it would be safe for her. Now after nearly 2 1/2 months of using it, she has shown no irritation or problems from it.  In fact, it seems to be helpful in supporting her smooth, soft, supple baby skin.  I also keep a cloth napkin close by to wipe off my hands if I get too much oil on them.
  • iPod or stero to play relaxing music if you would like.  Here is one of my favorite relaxing songs that I put on repeat during our massage sessions, it's called, "Autumn Colors" by Denise Young.  I wonder if Avery will remember it as she gets older, since we listen to it nearly daily? Such an awesome relaxing song! Do you have any relaxing favorites?
  • Laptop or DVD player to play the infant massage DVD if you are still learning the ropes.
Time to start the massage! Here's some pictures of a typical baby massage session with Avery! Just a note these pictures were all taken when Avery had just turned 2 months old...in case you're wondering why she looks a bit smaller. Trust me, that girl is definitely not shrinking! Mommy is just a little behind in getting this post done!

First, apply some oil to your hand, about a quarter-size amount.

Getting the sweet almond oil ready.

Now start with the legs, (the least vulnerable part of the body and the one Avery seems to enjoy the most).   The DVD describes about five basic movements to do with each leg, such as: a milking type motion up to the hip, twisting, milking down to the feet, rolling the leg between your hands, and a few others with the feet and toes.

I do each of these movements for about a minute or so, depending on Avery's interest and attention span.  After completing each of these movements on the left leg, I get a little more oil and move to the right leg.
"Milking the leg" as the DVD describes

Time for the toes.

Now the ankle.


Following the legs, I move on to the stomach; a key area that will help relieve gas and help treat or prevent other digestive discomforts.  A key thing to note with the stomach is if you are doing circular-type movements, always make sure to go in a clockwise direction or from your left to right.  This helps move things along in their digestive tract...such as bowel movements or gas, which can help especially if you're baby is constipated.  Be sure you do not go counter-clockwise as that would cause your baby to become even more constipated...might be good if you're having diarrhea trouble though.  Okay enough with the poppy talk. When did my blog about green living become so poopy-lol?!

Time for that tummy! See all my supplies: iPod, massage oil,
cloth napkin, comfy bed, cute baby!


One of my favorite stomach movements is one called, "I Love You."  If you take any movement from this post, let it be this one.  It's easy to do and can be very helpful in preventing colic, relieving gas or other digestive issues.  Below is a cool graphic I found that explains the movement. Be sure your letter-tracing movement is going in a clockwise direction to get the full benefit and help move things along in your baby's belly!


As I do the movements, I also say the words. Now maybe it's because I say "I love you" to Avery a million times a day, but she always seems to perk up during this part and smile at me even more.

I always make sure to talk to her and try to keep her eye contact.
It makes it way more fun!

After the stomach is the chest, followed by the face...one of my favorites!

Doing circles on her cheeks.
Lately she's been liking a little scalp massage, where I rub my fingers in small circles all over her scalp as if I'm rubbing shampoo in her hair.  I started doing this to help exfoliate some of the dry skin she had on her scalp, but now I keep doing it because it makes her smile and coo every time!

Next are the arms, an area that is more vulnerable for babies, as they like to keep their arms close to their bodies.  The DVD describes how you just repeat the same basic motions you did on the legs, but now with the arms.  Be sure to get a bit more oil if needed, and start with one arm and then move on to the other arm.
Moving on to the arms and hands.
As you can see I made it to the other arm, but she's starting to get fussy...those arms do it to me every time! So I keep it short and sweet.
Is she trying to massage my arms? I don't like that!

Since she's reached her limit with the massage, I go ahead and move her onto my chest and attempt to massage her back, the last area shown on the DVD.  This is not her favorite area either, mainly because she tries to hold her head and neck up as if she is doing Tummy Time.  So I do a few strokes down her back while I can and then we call it good.

Getting a few strokes in on her back before she gets too fussy.


Is this Tummy Time or what Mom? I'm done with the massage!



Now as she's gotten older, I've been able to add a bit more onto the end of the massage, like in the "Stretching" section at the end of the DVD.  I also do a fun thing where I hold her hands and then pull her up to standing (her new favorite thing to do).  I then let her stand, with support, for about half a minute, then I lower her down to sitting, and then I lower her back down to laying flat.  We repeat this four or five times. Then the massage is complete!

All done!

Need more help remembering the motions? The creator of this DVD actually has a "baby massage shirt" which has illustrations and instructions printed on a onesie to remind you of the movements, check it out here. Pretty cool!

Now that's just one approach to baby massage. There are all kinds of other DVDs out there as well as books, and even classes you can attend if that's the way you learn best.  Personally I loved this DVD and how I could learn it in the comfort of my own home and now I have been able to create my own baby massage routine for Avery.  I plan on continuing massage Avery for as long as she will let me...or sit still to do so.  I especially look forward to doing this with her when I have to go back to work in a month, as I think it will be a great way for us to bond and connect after I've been gone all day.

Have you ever tried baby massage? If so, did you use a book, video or go to a class? What benefits did you notice in your baby? Please post below!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My "Green" Beach Vacation

Hey everyone, we just got back from a week-long trip with my husband's family to Melbourne Beach in Florida! While down there, we rented a beach house and pretty much lounged on the beach all week. It was a lot of fun and very relaxing.  Avery did a great job and really seemed to like the beach...darn it, one more vote for the beach (I love the mountains!). 

Melbourne Beach, FL
 Now although I am a mountain fan, the beach was great for our large family because there was lots to do right in our backyard, like: swimming, laying out, building sandcastles, going for walks, and even skateboarding (a must-have for Brandon!).  Here's some pictures of the fun we had on this trip...which was actually our first trip as a "family"!
All smiles on the drive down to FL.

Sunrise on the first morning. 

Time to hit the beach.

Trying the water for the first time.

Wah! Did not like the water much the
first time!

Went much better the second time around.

Our little beach family.
Enjoying the beach with Dad.

All smiles for Dad back at the beach house.

The view from the backyard of our house.
Her new favorite thing is to try standing up,
with some help obviously!


Back at the beach...she's starting to like this ocean stuff!

Better watch out for the wave!

Brandon did some surfing while at the beach.


Rockin her "Baby Banz Sunglasses"

The view from the beach house of the Atlantis Shuttle
 lifting off.

Sandy little toes.

This sun hat was our favorite accessory on this trip!

Just lounging on the beach

Now as you saw from the first picture above, we drove all the way to Florida from Missouri. It took about 2 days...8 hours of driving the first day and then 12 hours the second day. Surprisingly, Avery did an awesome job. We made sure to stop and take some breaks so she wasn't strapped in her car seat for really long periods of time. Also, I would take her out her car seat to nurse...I know that probably wasn't the safest thing to do, but it would have taken us a week to get to Florida if we stopped every time she was hungry. I think the drive also went so smooth because she sleeps quite a bit (as she's only 2 1/2 months old).  But I have a feeling a long drive like this may be a bit more difficult as she gets older and wants to be moving around!

Now if there is anyone out there planning a long drive with a baby, here are two things I learned from my time in the car with Avery:

1.  Learn how to change a diaper in your lap.  Whenever we would stop for gas or at a rest area, I would change Avery's diaper and I did it usually in my lap.  I barely wanted to use those not-so-clean and definitely not-so-green bathrooms, so there was no way I was changing her in there!  By the way, you might get ready for lots of bowel movements, as Avery had several.  I'm not sure if it was something about the movement of the car or just the new surroundings, but Avery had 3-4 BM diapers on our drive down and several more on the drive back.  Now this could have been frustrating considering I had to change all these diapers in my lap, but I chose to laugh about it and you can bet that by the end I was one backseat-diaper-changing rock star! I think her "trip nickname" should be "Lil' Poopie!"

A diaper change in mom's lap- good times!


2. If the baby gets fussy, roll down the window.  The only time Avery really fussed on the trip was when she was tired and needed to fall asleep...but didn't want to.  Our solution: roll down the windows.  There must be something about the sound of the air blowing and actually feeling it on her face/eyes that really helped to ease her to sleep.  Another thing I did was to gently shake her car seat, which created a vibrating kind of motion that seemed to help even more to get her to sleep.  Last, it  helped sometimes for me to undo the shoulder harness portion of her car seat seat belt, still leaving the lap band fastened.  Sometime those shoulder straps would just make her even more upset for some reason.  Now I know it's probably not the safest thing to do, but this blog is real life, so I'd be lying if I said I just let her sit all buckled up in her car seat for two days.  This is just one thing I did to help make the trip go much smoother for her and for us, and sometimes you just do what you have to do to get by. Anyone else have some tips that have worked for you in the past? Post below!

Oh no! She's not happy!

Let's roll down the window.

Ahh...much better.


As you can imagine, I still managed to maintain some "greenness" in my life while on this trip, so here's some things I did:

1. We drove to Florida. Aside from the fact that I had no desire to try and fly with my 2 1/2 month old, driving down to Florida was a great green option for us. Here is more about how driving (in a fuel efficient car) is more eco-friendly!  Instead we chose our car that gets the best gas mileage, a Dodge Caliber to take on our trek down to Florida.

Gotta love the view of palm trees out your windshield.

2.  We stayed at a house on the beach as opposed to a hotel.  Nothing against hotels, but it was much easier for me to do the "green things" I will list below since we were in a home-like setting.

The view from inside the beach house looking out onto the
 ocean...wouldn't mind waking up to that everyday!

3.  Keep up the recycling.  When you're the type that cringes if a plastic bottle gets thrown in the trash, recycling doesn't stop even when you're on vacation. So luckily the beach house we were staying at had a recycling pick up service that our big family of 18 took advantage of during our week stay. Yeah! That makes me one happy green girl!

Just one of our big loads of items to be recycled.


 4.  Keep up the green smoothies!  What was the first item I put on my list to pack for the trip? My Vitamix Blender of course! I don't know what I'd do without it for a day, let alone a week, so it made it's way onto the counter at the beach house pretty fast once we arrived.  During my stay I kept up my two green smoothies a day routine and I even made some tasty samples for my nieces and nephews...which you can see below.   These shot glasses worked great for handing out samples of all the "unique" food I make and eat- he he! ( :

How about a shot...of  green smoothie that is!


5.  Cook our own meals, as opposed to eating out.  This is an easy one for me since most restaurants do not have many gluten-free vegan options on their menus.  So what do I do since I can't eat out? Sit at home and eat celery sticks and Larabars all day? Heck no! I brought my always-growing recipe folder and made some of my favorite meals.  On our way down to Florida we stopped at Whole Foods and stocked up on snacks, produce, and pantry staples so we could cook and eat just like we do back home.  Only this time I had the help of my niece, who did a great job with prepping and cooking the food with me...thanks Olivia, you rock!

"Meat-less Meatloaf and Mashed Sweet Potatoes"


Our "Vegan Dining Club"

6.  Pack my own snacks and meals for the road.  Want to save some money while traveling and reduce unnecessary packaging and waste? Pack your own meals and snacks! One of my favorite ways to do this is to make something for dinner the night before we leave that makes a lot of leftovers that way we're all set for lunch the next day.  All we have to do is keep the leftovers in a cooler, and then warm them up at a gas station and there you have a cheap, green, delicious, and quick lunch! Love it! We also stock up on some yummy, healthy snacks for the road so we don't have to buy them at the gas station or stop at a grocery store along the way.  Here's one I found for this trip that was delicious: "Tres Bean Dip" by Eat Smart.  It tasted great with some organic corn tortilla chips. Aside from this, Larabars, fresh fruit and baby carrots were also a must for our two-day drive!

A yummy bean-salsa dip we enjoyed snacking
on during our drive.

7.  We enjoyed the wildlife in our own backyard, instead of going to animal amusement parks.  Now although most people associate being a vegan solely with food, for me, it also extends into other areas of animal rights...one of those being to avoid "animal amusement parks".  If you've ever seen the documentary The Cove or watched Whale Wars, you know that being trapped in a big pool and treated like a spectacle is no way for a wild animal to live it's life.  I can see the merit in those animal amusement parks because you can learn a lot about wild animals that you would never have the opportunity to see otherwise.  But I think we have to think twice about if that's really the best home for the animals.  Read more about the dangerous effect of captivity on animals such as dolphins here. 

So on our trip we saw fun critters like this lizard and crab below right in our driveway and backyard, and although I didn't get to touch them or watch them perform a show for me, I enjoyed watching them from a distance and letting them stay at peace in the their own surroundings. 





So that wraps up my recap of our first family vacation to Florida and how I tried to maintain some of my green-ness!  Do you have any favorite ways to stay green while vacationing? Post below!
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