Fall Festivals: All The Fall Things

It is time for all things fall like festivals. The D.C. area is full of great spots to get out of the city. In less than an hour, you can be on a farm in the middle of what feels like nowhere petting baby goats and sipping homemade cider.

Montpelier Farms – Upper Marlboro, MD

1508936378663Sometimes I do not want to drive to what feels like the far ends of Virginia even though in reality it’s only like 43 miles. Lucky for us there is a great spot less than 20 miles away in Upper Marlboro, MD. We found Montpelier Farms last year when our desire to visit a pumpkin patch was great but our fear of driving an hour with a screaming 1 1/2 year old was MUCH greater.

This fantastic little farm is filled with activities for the whole family. Kids can play games, pan for jewels, get lost in a corn maze, jump on a giant pumpkin air mat, make a scarecrow, go on a hayride and feed farm animals. The alpacas and the horse will nibble the food right from your hand. It tickles, it’s wet and slightly frightening – IT IS THE BEST. We spent a lot of time watching LADC climb up and slide down an old truck bed converted into three slides. After you’re finished with your afternoon of fun, you can pick your own pumpkin.

Admission: $12.00 (2 and under free) – Most events are included with the price but there are some ticketed games as well.

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2016 Montpelier Farms Visit – It was hot hot hot!!!

 

Winterbrook Farms – Thurmont, MD

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Our friends invited us along to this fantastic farm way out in Maryland. This was about an hour and half drive for us but it was well worth it. This beautiful farm has a huge barn with kids activities, animals to feed and shaded tables for eating. There are apple cannons, a cow train (highly recommended), zip lines, corn maze, hayrides to a pumpkin patch. So many things to climb – bails of hay, tire stacks, and even a hill with a bell at the top. We even engaged in a friendly sack race which made me laugh so hard. We spent a lot of time in the giant corn box…a sandbox filled with corn kernels. You’ll want one for your own! The corn box was conveniently located next to a duck race using water pumps which was a hit with the adults. LADC loved the tube slides so much that she insisted on doing them alone. They were not too fast for a tiny two year old so we let her go for it…OVER…AND…OVER…again.

Admission: $10 Regular, $7 for children under 4′ tall – All events included expect Apple cannon and pumpkins

Ticonderoga Farms – Chantilly, VA

This was our (mine and LADC’s) third trip to Ticonderoga Farms. LADC and I have  in the past attended my former employer’s corporate picnic with friends so this year was our first time being able to do all of the farm activities. Ticonderoga has a huge pillow jump, a mountain of slides, several playgrounds, goats and chickens to feed, hay rides, a bamboo maze, pedal carts, pumpkin patches, and live music. We spent a lot of time playing hide and seek in the pumpkin patch and on the slides. WE enjoyed the slides over and over again! Climbing that slide hill like 50 times is an exhausting good time!

Oh and everyone gets their own pumpkin to take home!

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Admission: $16.95 for everyone 2 and up (slightly pricey)

As the fall festival season winds down, I come away with one final thought.  – Turns out all that is important to us is a good slide and apple cider!

Come Out, Come Out…

Where ever you are…how ever you want…when ever you want. It’s really up to you.

Yes, it can be scary.

Yes, the words are hard to find sometimes.

Yes, it feels too hard.

Sometimes it will go well.

Sometimes you will cry….tears of joy, relief, and even pain.

Some people will cry with you.

Some people will hug you.

Some one will be shocked. BUT

Some one will say, “I knew.”

You may lose a friend.

You may lose a family member.

You will feel free.

You will sleep better at night.

You will move forward.

You will know so much love.

It was hard, scary and a very long process for me. BUT I DO NOT REGRET IT! The truth is I still come out all of the time. It is the nature of things still. People assume straight. Sometimes when I meet a new adult especially in a professional setting or another parent, I get to come out. I usually get to come out when I am asked about my daughter’s father. It is often in polite conversation or in reaction to my daughter’s very light blond hair in contrast to my very dark hair. I always feels slightly embarrassed on behalf of the asker as I say, “she has two moms.”

Once you’re out to the people who matter most, the other times will just become a thing you say.

So come out. We are all here waiting for you with open arms.

Vegan Pumpkin Cake

Fall is my favorite season and not because the PSL latte is back. Growing up in the South it meant a reprieve from the hellish temperatures of summer. We always seemed to get a fall weather tease around my birthday even though summer was apt to rear it’s blazing hot head at any time before January. Like Punxsutawney Phil, I would emerge from my air-conditioned lair on October 1st to see if fall was arriving. Sweat before exiting the front porch meant there would indeed be 6-12 more weeks of summer.

Fall also meant Halloween! I lived for making a graveyard in front of our house complete with pine straw stuffed bodies then smearing them with fake blood. Of course, I was way to chicken to watch horror movies but I was down with the macabre of it all. As an adult, I anxiously await an appropriate date to retrieve my Halloween bins from the attic. I like to wait until the end of each season to add to my decorating collection so by the time the holiday rolls around the next year, I have forgotten what I bought. When I finally get to open my bins, it is like Christmas only spookier.

img_1670Our 2 1/2 year old has gotten the memo that pumpkin flavored items are a thing in the fall. She suddenly started talking about pumpkin cake. To my knowledge I’ve never eaten or made a pumpkin cake in her lifetime. We do not even partake in like 90% of pumpkin flavored items because for some reason dairy is always included. Plus she is usually busy going on and on about chocolate chip cookies. So when she brought it up again, I decided it was time to make that pumpkin cake dream come true. I found an amazingly easy delicious vegan recipe from Averie Cooks. The best thing about the recipe is that I had everything except pumpkin already on hand. Anytime I don’t have to buy a ton of specialty items for a recipe, I feel good about it.

Any changes or notes are noted below in Bold Italics.

INGREDIENTS:

Cake
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed (I make my own brown sugar, it’s easy to do if you already have sugar and molasses)
1/3 cup coconut oil, in melted state (vegetable or canola oil may be substituted)
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (other milks may be substituted including coconut, soy, rice, cow), preferably at room temp (Used Cashew milk)
2 tablespoons mild or medium molasses (Used blackstrap molasses and it was fine)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2  teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Frosting
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (half of 1 stick; use vegan butter to keep recipe vegan)
about 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons Pumpkin Spice Latte non-dairy creamer, or as needed (use vegan milk to keep vegan)
pumpkin pie spice, for sprinkling

Directions can be found using the link to the recipe. The cake turned out moist and super flavorful. It was a huge hit with the toddler and the wife. I will be making this one again!

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Birthday Parties and Being the Vegan Kid: Age 2

When you are the vegan person in the room people seem to be hyper aware of their food offerings. Hosts like to say sorry for not offering more vegan friendly options. Sorry really isn’t necessary AT ALL. We go to parties for the company, the friendship, the camaraderie not to be fed all the food. Although we may completely devour your humus tray after a few cocktails. Plus when WE have a party…it’s all vegan.

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LADC only went to two birthday parties at the age of one. One was hers. What she knew both times was that we took her to a room full strange people (big and small). But there were toys for when and if the initial shock wore off. We did the responsible thing for the friend party. We brought her snacks and some ice cream. I do not even remember her eating either.

She is two now and her social circle is slightly larger. We have attended a few birthday parties inthe last few weeks. We, as her parents, will try our best to make sure she has what she needs to feel included and not different during parties. Our methods will, no doubt, evolve over time. Right now, she is only two so she mostly just eats what we give her with no question. She just wants to play. She does not yet get the concept of birthday cake so that has been a non issue.

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We will keep adjusting our plan as she gets older. For now…she just wants to jump in the bouncy house, eat all your blueberries, and pet your dogs and babies.

To Party Parents: You have a lot to think about when planning a party these days. So many dietary restrictions to plan for…from nut allergies, to gluten issues, to vegan friends. I would say let’s worry about those nut free kids first. That’s life and death. We know that you can not please everyone. As party planners, just be open to questions about your food options, the other parent is just trying to plan ahead for their kid. Also, don’t be offended when someone walks in with their own snacks. When possible let the guest parent take the lead in offering their child food. Some children will not know exactly what is the safe choice without a little parental guidance.

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To Pour or Not to Pour…The Toddler Decides

During a rather idyllic breakfast on Wednesday morning, LADC asked to pour her water onto her grits. My gut reaction was to shut that mess down but instead I simply said, I don’t think that’s a great decision but go for it. It may not taste very good. 

Sounded gross. But totally harmless.

She poured.

She stared.

She tasted.

She gagged.

She waved her hand over it and muttered some toddler-ese which I interpreted as…”You were right, mom, that was a POOR decision.”

When I asked her if it tasted badly she said, “Yea,” connected to this half laugh half sigh that she does when she know something was so ridiculously silly. (seriously, it is the cutest)

We can call it a culinary experiment so it sounds really brave and smart. We do encourage exploring and learning at home. Making messes and doing the silly thing is kind of part of our every day life. Some of us shoot water cannons at others while they mow the grass just because it makes the toddler insanely happy. We will be cleaning up glitter for the rest of our lives.

If I had said no to pouring water on the grits, there would have been tears and frustration. I do not like to say NO all the time. Sometimes our instinct is to say no because of inconvenience, a bad mood, laziness…those times I have to stop myself and remember I am trying to raise a tiny human. I have to stop to remember that pouring water on the grits might just turn into a moment that I can tell her about when she asks about when she was a small. Saying yes to the silly odd random thing might just be the best decision I make all day.

I read an article once about parents who never said no. They discussed the good and bad consequences of decisions with their kids and gave them the choice. Keeping an open dialogue for when the tough subjects come up. I mean some things are inherently dangerous and require a strong NO. We have some non-neogtiables like brushing teeth. Has to be done even if there are tears and ear piercing screams. BUT Some things are just things that can be turned into a teaching moment. Some things are just silly so you do them anyway.

LADC thinks grits are the best breakfast ever. As most parents know, getting a toddler to eat can be challenging so having their favorites on had is essential. I have had to permanently add grits to the grocery list. I remember not liking grits as a kid but I also remember them being white and bland unless you put a slice of cheese in it. (We use Bob’s Red Mill Polenta following the suggested directions and also adding some nutritional yeast and flax meal to make it extra nutritious.)

Guess Who’s Back!?

Hello all (if you’re still out there)! I haven’t read a blog or written a blog in like 6 months. I have been momming, working and wifing hard…not always in that order but always doing all the things. If you follow us on Instagram, you’re fully up to date on her growth and what we’re doing now.

Working from home was hard. I made it work. I did some office management work for a about 6 months which demanded a lot of computer time. However, I am now back working in the real world…and by real world…I mean I play for a living and I love it. I was presented with an opportunity this past February and I seized it. My little one goes to work with me every day!

I finally have some room to give updating, writing and musing some attention.

I mostly want to hold on to memories that I know my brain can not possibly hold on to forever.

Like would I always remember that she laughed in her sleep the other morning. Then Lisa and I giggled back and forth. I wonder what she was dreaming about?

I want to remember the pee-pee in the potty dance she did for hours last night EVEN before she actually peed in the potty.

Or those moments when we have one big group hug and there are so many giggles, kisses and love is just oozing out of us.

Maybe moms always remember this stuff…Maybe I will remember it but just in case my brain gets so full of wonderful memories that some start falling out…I’ll write them out just in case.

Worry, Fear, Panic…

I woke up opened Facebook and burst into tears this morning. My wife held me while I cried and tried to come to grips with what I am feeling. I’m crying because we have a new President. They are not tears of joy or elation. They are tears of a broken heart, a battered soul and a head wringing with worry. (I’m not a crier so this is kind of a big deal).

I grew up thinking I was Republican. I wanted to be involved with the Republican party. I immersed myself in South Carolina’s political atmosphere. As I moved about the world my feelings on social issues changed but I could comfortably call myself a fiscal conservative. Then I met three attorneys who changed my heart and mind for good. They lived and conducted themselves professionally with such compassion and such pure hearts. I watched them tirelessly answer the call to protect the most vulnerable of our state. Working with people from every walk of life in our state with no hesitation. You see, I could no longer think only fiscally because there were lives hanging in the balance. Lives that have no voice of their own. Lives that time and time again get lost in the fray. When I came out, all of the sudden I became one of those lives. A person who suddenly had to fight for equality. I was a socially marginalized individual.

An election cycle that perpetrated worry, fear and panic, now has me waking on the day after the election filled with worry, fear and panic. Seems as if that platform was successful on all fronts.  I respect that people want change, to buck the establishment, to find a better way for their families and their businesses. Those are ideals I can get behind. Those are things we all want out of this life. If that is why you voted for Trump, I get it. Some things aren’t working and maybe he has a better plan. I can’t see it…though.

I can’t see past…

  • The people who can see that my family (LGBT community) is at risk but think that it’s OK, inconsequential or a great fucking idea,
  • The people who can’t see that my family (LGBT community) is at risk and don’t care,
  • The people who can see that women’s rights are at risk but think that it’s OK, inconsequential or a great fucking idea,
  • The people who can’t see that women’s rights are at risk and don’t care.
  • The people who can see that latinos are at risk but think that it’s OK, inconsequential or a great fucking idea,
  • The people who can’t see that latinos are at risk and don’t care,
  • The people who can see that muslims are at risk but think that it’s OK, inconsequential or a great fucking idea,
  • The people who can’t see that muslims are at risk and don’t care,
  • The person who commented on a photo saying to someone go back to Africa,
  • The people who think everyone in a hijab is a terrorist,
  • A Vice President who believes in conversion therapy for gays,
  • A President who spoke of Roe v. Wade as if it offers carte blanche abortion,
  • The Trump supporter in my news feed who posted a picture of a black man’s face superimposed on a white woman’s body that I’m pretty sure is racist even though I have no idea what it supposed to be,
  • The people who started yelling, “Lock her up,” during election night at the Trump rally,
  • The people who still think my marriage shouldn’t be legal,
  • The people who want to build a wall to keep out those escaping countries to be in the land of the free,
  • The people who are just plain and outwardly scared of the color brown,
  • The people who are scared of brown and don’t have the balls to admit it,
  • The people who think the political parties are Christian or heathens (or more accurately heaven bound or hell bound),
  • A President-elect who disrespected a sitting President over and over by challenging his citizenship,
  • A President-elect who speaks so callously of women, minorities, immigrants and the LGBT community,
  • The people who called Hillary Clinton, Killary and thought it was just in good ol’ fashion political mudslinging, and
  • The people who think they put God back in control of our country. You put a man in control of this country. Please remember that. (Quite frankly, the only person who actually personified what that means to me was Tim Kaine so I guess it’s subjective.)

I can’t see past those people. Those people do not represent an angry, disenfranchised and frustrated electorate who want change. They represent xenophobia, racism and general deplorable behavior. Yea, I used the word deplorable. It’s appropriate here. I am worried, I am scared…but I don’t have time to be past this moment. I have a wife, a daughter and the rest of the world to show who I am. It’s not someone who mocks or belittles or even the person who wallows in defeat. I have to be the wife, mom and person I need to be to show the people above what true compassion and love look like.

The beacon of hope is those who sent messages of love this morning and last night. Thank you.

Goodbye for now…

I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m not blogging…I haven’t posted in months but I’m not closing the account or deleting the content…I fully intend to return when I have the time and energy to devote.

Being a stay at home working mom is a 24/7 job that requires my full attention. Some things had to take a backseat like random musings.

You can find me constantly posting pictures on Instagram (LezBVeganMoms) and even some SnapChat filter fun with LA (H3ath3rD978).

Before She Turns One…

I am such a bad blogger mom…I skipped her 9 month update and her 10 month and now I’ve let 11 months slip through my typing fingers…but don’t worry there were photo shoots.

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This first year has passed by so quickly. She went from fragile baby we held firmly in our arms like she would break at the slightest movement to indestructible toddler who constantly falls on her butt and bumps into everything forever keeping a little bruise on her forehead. She busted her lip for the first time a few days ago which about gave this novice mommy a heart attack.  She cried for a minute and then was over it. Her little lip is healing nicely and she doesn’t even seem to notice. She was still giving kissing and sucking on her bottle like a champ.

The other morning when she woke up instead of pulling her out of bed to get breakfast and start our day, I just climbed in with her to snuggle. We laughed, made noises and said, “Hey”, with different inflections. It’s amazing all that can be said in a three letter word. She put her head on my chest several times just being still something you don’t get much of from a girl on the go. For those 15 minutes or so time stopped. We were just in the moment and it was perfect. I did it again yesterday morning because we have no where to be. We do not have to live by the alarm clock at the moment. The lighting was in just such a way that when I looked at her face I could see that baby from the sonogram picture. Being home with her has been the best decision we have made in a long time. I feel like it maximizes everyone’s time together. There is a financial cost to the time but the benefits are amazing.

So expect some happy birthday gushes later in the week!

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Momming So Hard – SAHWM

I am thirteen days in to my new path as a Stay at Home Working Mom and boooooy am I tired. As you know or may not know, I left my full-time position a little over two weeks ago to stay at home with our little #LADC. For the first ten months she had the best childcare a little baby could have – her grammy. But grammy needed to get back to doing what a grammy does when not being a grammy extraordinaire. So we made the difficult, easy, logical, scary, wonderful, cost efficient decision for me to stay at home.

So far I am rocking this stay at home mom thing.  We are working on our daily routine making sure to carve out time for play, learning, exploring, me to do some work, to clean up the house, and MAYBE carve out some time to write. I will be working from home. I have a few P/T gigs that I’ll be doing so I can pay back those evil minions at Navient.

So what do I think about my new role?  I LOVE IT! I think it is where I am meant to be right now. I GET to be with an awesome little human every single day. Plus with her as my office assistant it means nap and snack times are totally a work day must.

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