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Sunday, September 8th, 2013
2 years, 9 months.
*TMI Warning: Contains “too much informantion,” which may be deemed as innappropriate, controversial, and/or offensive to some readers.
It was 6 months ago I took that funny picture of you chowing down a messy, vegan chocolate cookie from Whole Foods, as I officially publicly identified myself as a vegan.
I have learned a lot since then about this growing alternative lifestyle; which now represents about 2.5% of the American population.
For one, I learned to stop using the word “vegan.” It’s not as marketable and has a bit of a negative, stereotypical connotation.
So instead, I refer to myself as “living a plant-based lifestyle.” It doesn’t offend people like the other word tends to do.
That’s a cue I took from several influential documentaries currently available for streaming on Netflix: Food Inc., Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Hungry For Change.
I also learned that I am no longer allergic to cats. Seriously, I can rub my hands and arms and face on a cat… and nothing happens- no itching, no sneezing, no headache. That has never been the case for me, until now. (Was I ever allergic to cats, or just eggs and dairy instead?)
Plus, and I apologize in advance for being so open about this, but since this is just between you and me, my sinuses are completely cleared out now. (In other words, I only produce a very small amount of clear, thin mucus. I see now that dairy products were the source of the thick, white and yellow stuff that led to my chronic sinus infections and non-stop sinus pressure which had plagued me since I was a kid.)
And while I’m being gross… I don’t really wear deoderant anymore. It’s not actually disgusting, though, considering that I don’t have body odor under my arms anymore. If you ask me, it’s only gross to not wear deoderant if you need it: No problem means no solution. I guess plants don’t produce as much odor when processed by the human body?
Another bizarre side-effect of removing eggs, dairy, and even honey, from my diet is that now, the thought of alcohol (I considered myself quite the expert of knowing a good craft beer or bottle of wine) sort of makes me nauseous.
It’s like the health benefits of drinking a responsible amount of beer or wine became irrelevant when I began only consuming plant-based foods. My body started getting enough of all the nutrients it always always wanted and needed. I have learned that for me, alcohol now messes up the natural good vibes that the plant-based lifestyle gives me on a daily basis.
I’ve traded in my Blue Moon for coconut water, which is about the same price, but enhances my sense of well-being, instead of knocking it down. Plus, I’m getting into Yogi Tea, too.
After 6 months of living this way, I can honestly say I’ve never been happier, more energetic, or as clear-minded as I am now.
And I have seen how even though you and Mommy have remained vegetarians, like I was up until 6 months ago, my switch to eating only plant-based foods has influenced our family’s lifestyle as a whole.
Now more than ever, we try to buy as much organic and non-GMO foods as possible. What’s the difference between those two? I’ll be covering that more in my next letter to you…
I can see that my conversion to the “plant-based life” has caused our family, by default, to incorporate more fresh fruits and veggies into our meals and snacks.
Plus, some of my plant-based food alternatives have replaced some of the normal food options in our fridge.
We use Earth Balance butter (made from olives) instead of dairy butter. When Mommy makes cookies, she uses almond milk and/or applesauce instead of eggs.
After 6 months of this alternative lifestyle, I am convinced this is how I want to live the rest of my life. It’s not for everybody, but it is for me. And since you have me as a daddy, you sort of have no choice but to know about all this weird stuff.
Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.
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Monday, September 2nd, 2013
2 years, 9 months.
These “before and after” pictures actually pretty well illustrate the cure for Mommy and I not being able to get home improvement projects finished, in the little amount of time we have together as a family.
By the way, it’s completely unintentional that this letter to you has by default become the 3rd consecutive one to talk about my parents, who you know as Nonna and Papa. (And there might even be a 4th after this.)
But just as our 2 and a half hour trips to their house serve as a sort of “time out” for us, it’s their trips to our house that serve as the perfect time for Mommy and I to complete “major” projects; just the opposite. Instead of relaxing while they are here in town… we are productive!
Exactly 3 months ago, it was a backsplash.
As for Labor Day weekend, we painted our living room and installed brand new curtains; taking down the blinds. And because we made such good time, we decided to paint the downstairs bathroom, too.
During all the labor, there was always one adult to entertain and play with you, while the other three worked on the project.
In case you’re wondering why I’m not featuring any pictures of our home’s new makeover, it’s because I know in the upcoming months, the pictures I daily take of you playing downstairs will be featuring the changes.
There will be more than enough… too many, probably…
So instead, I wanted to point out a notable milestone in your life. As a reward for completing our projects early, we decided to do something we never do as a family.
We went to “the city” and dined out.
It’s funny how the last time I remember being in the heart of Nashville, not just on the outskirts of the city limits where we live, was at last June when we went to that random drum circle.
Our family never goes to the city and we never go out to eat.
But this weekend, we did. And it went well!
I was telling Mommy, how a year ago, if we were to have done this, we wouldn’t have made it through the entire meal without me having to escort you outside and distract you from being restless.
However, at 2 years and 9 months, you are able to handle dining out.
Hashtag, “I didn’t see that one coming.”
Admittedly, the fact that Mommy and I let you have a vegan chocolate cupcake certainly helped the situation.
Seriously, this is epic for me, as your Daddy.
I feel so accomplished after this Labor Day weekend!
We painted the living room and the bathroom, put up a new curtain rod and curtains, and you proved you can handle going to the city and dining at a restaurant… way past your bedtime.
The plan was to officially potty train you this weekend, too. Oh well…
With the grandparents in town, we were able to be very productive in other ways.
Actually though, I think we might need a completely separate trip where they come up and the only project is just to potty train you. Not a bad idea.
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Saturday, August 10th, 2013
2 years, 8 months.
Mommy made some more awesome vegan chocolate cupcakes this weekend, from that recipe on the blog Oh She Glows. She had told you that you could have one after lunch today.
However, you hadn’t eaten much of your quesadilla before you were asking for your cupcake.
“I’m full. I want my cupcake. I want to hold it,” you told us.
(I like the fact that you were somewhat implying that you just wanted to hold the cupcake, not eat it.)
Mommy and I explained to you that if you were too full to eat the rest of your actual lunch, then you were definitely too full for a treat.
You’re a clever kid. Let me just say that.
We heard you grunting and straining. We were confused as to what you were doing.
“Jack, are you trying to make room for dessert?” Mommy asked.
The sly look on your face gave it away. Yes. That’s exactly what you were trying to do!
Nicely done. It worked.
Mommy and I decided to let you have a very small bite of your cupcake before your noontime nap.
You’ll get the rest of it later.
But honestly, it was as simple as us not wanting you to strain yourself too hard. After all, Mommy had already changed a dirty diaper of yours this morning while we were at the shoe store.
So we weren’t sure that you had much more to… push out.
I’ve heard of saving room for dessert, but never making room for dessert.
Well, at least not until today.
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Wednesday, August 7th, 2013
2 years, 8 months.
There’s no question that you love your GoGo Squeez applesauce pouches. (As do I.)
It’s just that you’ve begun to associate finishing your applesauce with finishing dinner, and therefore, having to get ready for bed.
So you take your time eating dinner, essentially trying to make it never ending.
But a few nights ago, you were really putting up a fight… Mommy and I never let you finish dinner without eating some kind of fruit.
So half jokingly, Mommy asked you if we needed to call Papa (my dad) to tell you to finish your applesauce.
You hesitantly agreed.
I quickly briefed Papa on what was going on before putting him on speakerphone and handing the phone to you.
“Jack, you need to eat your applesauce. It’s good for you,” Papa advised.
You didn’t say a word. You just listened, nearly in disbelief that I actually called Papa about this.
He did his best, but ultimately, after the phone call, you still stood your ground.
We gave you a choice: Either eat your applesauce and have some playtime afterwards, or go straight upstairs to get ready for bed.
You chose to go straight upstairs. (Granted, Mommy still forced you to eat a spoon of applesauce before taking you upstairs.)
So sort of like the time you put yourself in time-out so you wouldn’t have to get dressed, you chose not eating applesauce over getting extra playtime.
Just in case you missed it, here’s the irony:
You didn’t want to eat your applesauce because it signified going upstairs to get ready for bed, meaning your fun time would come to an end.
So you refused your applesauce, meaning you went straight upstairs, forgoing the option of playing with your toys in the living room for a few minutes before going upstairs.
Even Papa tried to help. But sometimes you’re just so set in your ways.
P.S. I have to brag on GoGo Squeez. Their products are free of high fructose corn syrup or any added colors or flavors. I’m not waiting or hoping for the government to mandate food labeling. Instead, I’m taking control of the situation myself by purposely buying food from brands I can trust. Brands that aren’t dependent on Monsanto for their livelihood or that are shady about their ingredients. Any food brand that can claim to be kosher certified, as well as vegan friendly, has my attention:
(Plus, all GoGo Squeez products are produced free of common allergens, including milk, egg, wheat, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish and shellfish.)
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Sunday, July 7th, 2013
2 years, 7 months.
I can barely remember it, but for the first five months of our marriage, Mommy and I didn’t have any dietary restrictions.
Whenever we took a road trip, we didn’t have to consider where or what we could eat; just where and what we didn’t want to eat.
Then we went kosher in November 2008, and vegetarian in December 2011, then I went vegan in March 2013; as you and Mommy are pretty much there with me too by now.
With that being said, gone are the days of not having to carefully plan out in advance every single meal and snack over the course of a road trip.
As you know, this past weekend for our 5 year wedding anniversary, Mommy and I decided to take you along for a mini-road trip; a 2 and a half hour drive to Louisville, Kentucky.
Using hotel points we had earned last year, we made it an overnight trip and visited the magnificent Louisville Zoo.
Just as we had to plan out in advance which hotel we’d be staying in, making sure we could not only redeem our points there but also that it was closest to the zoo, we additionally had to find out its proximity to the nearest Whole Foods Market.
Basically, we packed half the food we would need, including plenty of water and snacks; then bought the other half of the food at Whole Foods the next morning.
We dined on veggie wraps, fruit snacks, and bottled water in the parking lot. It was like a picnic in our car; fortunately, it was the perfect weather for it… not too hot or wet.
Plus, I knew from previous visits to Loiusville that the city is laced with 14 different Heine Brothers’ Coffee shops. Not only is their coffee perfect, which Mommy and I could definitely appreciate as a fun way to start the day, but they also have plenty of vegan options for snacks.
So was it difficult to make our road trip a health-conscious one? No, because we carefully planned for it.
But was the actual driving part of the road trip difficult because it threw off your sleep schedule? Absolutely!
(That’s a whole different story and I plan to tell it in the near future.)
Our mini-road trip served as necessary practice for the big one up ahead in a few weeks, when we will be taking our annual family vacation in Sacramento to see Mommy’s family.
It’s one thing to avoid eating at restaurants for 23 hours, but another thing when we’re staying at someone else’s house for over a week and trying not to become a burden because of our alternative lifestyle.
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