Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Two Years, Ten Months.

Whoa. Such a long time has passed, I don't know where to start! How about with a picture of Luka, who will be three years old in February.

Our life with Luka is fun, challenging, interesting and overall awesome. With every language spurt, he becomes less of a baby and more of a little boy. His favorite activities are singing, dancing, playing his toy guitar, watching Yo Gabba Gabba, helping us "do dishes" at the kitchen counter, and generally wreaking havoc. For toys, Lu seems to naturally gravitate towards anything you can push, like cars, trains, etc.

We took Luka on his first vacation this summer, to Destin, Florida. The five hour car trip went much smoother than expected thanks to heaps of snacks (travel size packs of hummus and peanut butter, bread, bananas, soy milk, and some breakfast biscuits to-go from our favorite vegan bakery), toddler books, and for the last whiny leg of the drive, some toddler shows on our touch pad. Lu handled the trip like a champ. The ocean was pretty scary to Luka at first, but as long as we held him he was thrilled to be in the water. He would laugh like a crazy person every time a wave crashed on us. He loved being in a hotel, and slept amazingly well in a Pack-n-Play we placed in the room adjacent to the bedroom of our suite. The kid was so exhausted from beach activities that he crashed and slept 12 hours straight both nights we were there. For eating vegan on vacation, we booked a hotel with a refrigerator so we could bring our own groceries. This was a lifesaver in a town that wasn't particularly vegan-friendly. Both nights though, Ken went out for dinner and brought it back. Moe's burritos to the rescue on night one, and Mellow Mushroom pizza with Daiya cheese and veggies the second night. Lu loved eating on the floor of the suite like a picnic. 

Ken and I took our first overnight trip away from Luka this summer, too. Ken's company sent us to the Virgin Islands for four days, and my amazing and generous sister-in-law took care of Luka while we were away. We would try to video chat with him each night, but he was too busy running around playing with his cousins, aunts, uncles, and nana and pop-pop to care about his parents calling him! It was a welcome break to reconnect with some quiet time, but we missed that kid tremendously. My heart hurt every time I thought of him. But we knew he was in good hands, and he had a lot of quality time with his extended family. I feel very lucky to have had that option, as I never really knew my extended family growing up. 

Luka's eating habits ebb and flow like the tide. One week he will shove anything into his face that he can, and the next week he will barely nibble. So goes toddler life. As of his 30 month well-visit, he is still very small at only 21.5 pounds. But he gained over an inch in height in six months and has no developmental issues whatsoever, so his pediatrician is going with him simply being small because of his premature start and also his genetics playing a role in his size. 

The kid loves kale chips!

Other favorite foods right now are: any and all FRUIT, especially grapes, clementines, peaches, plums, pineapple, and blueberries. For vegetables, he loves roasted broccoli, asparagus, corn, kale (in chip form), carrots, and cauliflower. He also really digs brown rice, lentils, hummus, pasta, oatmeal, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, tortillas, any kind of bread, tofu, coconut yogurt, veggie "bacon" and Gardein sausage-style patties. Luka still doesn't like most beans or raw leafy vegetables, unfortunately. But we keep trying them with him anyway. Blending up butternut squash or sweet potatoes with cashews and olive oil into a pasta sauce is still a good trick and Luka loves to eat them that way. Same goes for spinach, collards, and kale. And our kid who used to down big healthy green smoothies has recently decided he doesn't like them anymore! The horror!!! Hopefully he's just temporarily sick of them, and will come back around to smoothie soon. They were the best way to get a bunch of nutrition in. 

Vegan breakfast at Dough Bakery. Luka loves their biscuits and tofu scramble, and of course the cinnamon rolls. 

Another big thing that happened this year is I went back to work full time. I really wanted to be home with Luka until he began kindergarten, but unfortunately our funds couldn't hold out that long.  It nearly broke my heart to put him in school so young, seriously. I cried every day for months over the decision. I never thought it would be so difficult to be separated from this child. After a lengthy search, we found a school that we are happy with and that Luka enjoys. Full time care for Luka presented a whole new set of issues with him being vegan, but we have adjusted to that, and the school works well with us on the matter. My next post will be how we deal with a vegan kid in a non-vegan daycare, for those of you who are interested. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

21 months.

Yikes! I skipped a few months there, didn't I? My self-imposed, semi-part time (volunteer) job turned into an almost full time job for a month or two, but things are settling down now. Luka will be 21 months tomorrow, and he is busy as ever.

                     Some of the best toys aren't toys.

Halloween happened! We decided to not do trick or treating this year, because Lu doesn't eat candy yet and we have no need for a bunch of mostly non-vegan candy in our house anyway. He still had several chances to wear his Halloween costume, a cute dragon suit I bought at a kid's consignment shop for $6.

We played at the park with some of Luka's toddler buddies in costume.

 Having a serious discussion with his pal Mickey Mouse. Probably about the election.

Then the weekend before Halloween we went to the all vegan Dough Bakery for a Halloween Spooktacular day. Here's Luka hanging out at Dough with his cute monster cousin Liam.

                          Liam + Luka = Lilu

A vegan friend of mine recently told me how much she enjoys reading about the food Luka eats on this blog. I love talking about food, so that works out! Lu's eating habits have gotten better lately. He still has some picky moments like most toddlers, but overall he likes most of the food we offer him. His weight is still a little low, but is getting better. I'm tired of having to lace all of his food with extra oils, so I will be glad when he's back on his chart.

We don't take Luka out to restaurants very often, but when we do, he eats what we eat. Here he was sharing my all vegan breakfast biscuit at Dough.

             Mommy, don't bogart that biscuit!

Some of Lu's recent favorites include:

Breakfasts- Oatmeal with coconut milk and cinnamon, bagel with peanut butter or vegan cream cheese, tofu scramble, multigrain waffle with agave/maple syrup and fruit, smoothies, smoothies, and more smoothies, soy or almond milk yogurt

Lunches and dinners- almost anything wrapped in a tortilla like Spinach pecan dip, hummus, pb&j or tofu, quinoa and cubed cooked vegetables like zucchini and carrots, pasta with  tomato sauce,  I will also coat pasta with other things like hummus, olive oil & garlic, spinach walnut pesto or cooked butternut squash blended with olive oil and seasoning. Lentils and rice, mashed garbanzos with vegenaise, couscous- which of course is just semolina pasta but he loves the shape and texture of the bigger Israeli couscous, rice noodles with pretty much any kind of sauce, soba noodles in ramen style broth, vegan meatballs, tofurkey slices, fruit of all kinds, and bread of any kind.

Snacks- organic fruit pouches, crackers, cereal o's, fruit, smoothies, vegan fig newtons (Barbara's brand has vegan ones that aren't too junky), other organic fruit bar type of things.

This kid loves smoothies. He often points to the blender and yells, "swee!" Which is Luka for smoothie. A typical smoothie I make for him includes a banana, frozen berries, frozen kale or spinach, flax oil, a scoop of rice protein, and some plant milk. If I have coconut cream or coconut milk on hand I will use that to fatten up the smoothie a bit, too.

Not food related, we recently adopted a new cat named Twyla. She is a sweetheart, and Luka is kind of obsessed with her. Here he is being gentle with petting.

  I guess I can put up with this loud drooling creature the humans call Luka.

The kid's vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds, too. I am not worried about the potential language delays we were warned about with his early NICU days. He communicates very well! His most recognizable and used words right now are- mommy, daddy, ball, tree, leaves, sky, yogurt, strawberry, blueberry, shoes, keys, bye bye (about 100 times daily. ha.), swing, play, car, driveway, doggie, chair, this, that, and so many others. Surprisingly, he doesn't say "no". Kinda glad about that one.

       looking for sticks and burrs to play with at the park.

I am looking forward to the holidays with Lu this year. I think we are going to put up a little tree for the first time!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

18 months.

always in motion

Whew, three months just flew by without a blink! Luka is now 18 months old, and his baby features are dissolving into a more mature little boy. It's exciting to witness, but still makes me a little wistful. He is doing great though, and learning something new every day.

he has a new guitar with strings like daddy's

His 18 month well visit went well, and his head circumference did finally grow since the last visit. So no follow up MRI for that! His numbers are still quite small though, so it looks like we still need to work hard at bulking up our preemie. As of last week Lu is 18 Lbs 10 oz and 29.5" tall. In addition to making sure he eats a good variety of healthy vegan foods, I am also adding as much fat as I can to his food. Flax oil in his sippy cup of soy milk, a drizzle of olive oil on just about everything he eats, nut butters, avocado... same old story. Some days his appetite is amazing, other days he barely wants to eat. But overall, I would say he isn't terribly picky. Luka is a fruit monster, too. The kid can devour a cup of watermelon chunks in mere seconds! Pretty much all fruit is on his love list. When we are in the produce section of the store, if he sees the peaches, he insists on holding one while he's riding in the cart. Then when we get home and he sees the peach, he begs to eat it. Who am I to argue? Ha.

 He tries real hard to put on his own shoes, but he isn't there just yet

Luka has a very independent nature.  He wants to do absolutely everything on his own. So of course when we don't allow him to do whatever he wants, say for example- plummet off a jungle gym to certain death, then the tantrums happen. Oh my, the tantrums. They are nature's reminder that we aren't in infant-land anymore. Overall, Lu is still a very happy kid.



Luka's sleep has gotten way crazy lately, with waking up 2-3 times a night and refusing naps. It's the classic 18 month sleep regression, I guess. That, or just being uncomfortable from the huge crop of new teeth pushing through his gums all at once. That's enough to make anyone cranky. We are hoping for a turn around back to good sleep very soon.

 I feel like I was just starting to get used to all this baby stuff, now the rules have changed. But that's okay. I will figure it out all over again. I am a vegan snack-toting, nose-wiping, sleep deprived momma. And that's how I like it. (...I need a nap, please)

 18 months

Thursday, June 21, 2012

15 months.

As of yesterday, Luka is actually 16 months old! So far his summer has been all about new skills. He finally got the hang of walking right at 15 months, and now he runs around like it's effortless. New words can be heard through the almost constant babbling, "three", "green", "blue", "this", "that", "baaa" (like a sheep in one of his books), and "get" (trying to say guitar) are his latest words. When his dad walks in from work in the evenings, Lu gives him a hardy round of applause. I admit I'm a tad jealous over that one.


Lu went swimming for the first time, with his cousins. He was apprehensive at first, but he soon took to it really well. Lots of splashing and pool toy munching ensued.

Untitled Munching a pool mushroom

At his 15 month well visit, we discovered that Lu is now 18 pounds and 29" long. So he's grown two inches since his last visit! His weight still isn't very high, but for a preemie with his own chart to go by, his doctor is okay with his weight. One issue he has is his head circumference did not grow at all, and has only grown very little since his 9 month visit. His doc said that some kids just have smaller heads, and since he is meeting his developmental milestones, we probably don't have much to worry about. She wants to check him again in another month just in case, and if his head still hasn't grown then he may need an MRI (or was it a CT scan? A scan of some sort...)to make sure his head is okay. We are trying not to worry. And he is developing so well, it's easy to forget about the head thing for now.


Luka has had several colds and even the flu in the past year, but a few weeks ago he was so terribly sick that we just didn't know what to do. He had a super high fever for five days, and was so pitiful he didn't want to play, walk, or even move at all. He pretty much laid in our arms moaning for almost five days straight. It turned out to be roseola, a common childhood illness. He was diagnosed with an unnamed virus until the telltale roseola rash appeared at the end of the sickness. Before the rash appeared we had him at the doctor four times in one week. It was so sad. I know we have his whole life to be worried about various illnesses, and whoa am I not looking forward to that. My heart was hurting so much not being able to help him feel better. Poor little guy. But he's all healed up for now.


Luka's appetite has increased lately, and he is enjoying feeding himself more and more. Some of his common foods as of late:

-oatmeal with flax oil and fruit mixed in
-toast with almond butter or peanut butter
-bagel with vegan cream cheese
-fruit and veggie protein smoothie
-pasta with olive oil and nutritional yeast
-tofu scramble
-peas coated in coconut oil
-bananas, bananas, bananas
-veggie burger patty
-still lovin' the avocados
-anything we are eating
Smoothies are a real life saver when Lu isn't feeling up to eating a lot. I can blend together just about anything and serve it to him with a straw, and he will drink it up. A typical smoothie- banana, frozen berries, rice protein, flax oil, soy yogurt, handful of spinach or kale, almond milk. Blended until smooth, a super meal!

Life with Lu continues to challenge and amuse us. He is fun, he is frustrating, he is adorable, he is smart, he is our kid.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

14 months and Mother's Day

So much has happened in Luka's world over the past six weeks! Ken and I decided to close our business, so Lu and I have been together at home every day, rather than together at work everyday. The entire household seems less stressed now. It really is so nice to be able to give the kid my full attention all day, instead of being torn between he and work related projects. I get to wake up to his smiling face and ridiculous hair and not worry about how to find the time to answer emails, pack orders, and order inventory in between baby duty.

 hair fire.
"Mama, why is my hair so ridiculous?" You were just born that way, sweetie.

Speaking of hair, we did get Luka's hair cut a few weeks ago. But not too much! Just enough to get it out of his eyes. I kept a curl in a little plastic baggie for safe keeping.

first haircut
Unimpressed with the whole experience

When I say that I stay at home with Luka, it's not completely accurate. We are out doing things all the time. I try to keep him busy and active with kid related things, so I joined a play group with kids his age.  We go to baby music class, park play and stroller walks, meetups at parent's homes, and more. It's so nice to have something to keep Luka engaged so we aren't just sitting at home playing with the same toys all the time. Plus, I enjoy talking to adults! A win/win for all involved. Luka loves baby swings, so we find ourselves at the park whenever the weather is nice.

He couldn't possibly be happier

Dramatic swinging

Lu just started walking a little bit as of last week. He isn't adept at it quite yet, but it's fun watching him try.

Our little baby is turning into a toddler! *sniffle*

Eric the teddy.
Snacking with Eric the Teddy

This weekend will be my second Mother's Day as a mom. This time last year I was so exhausted and nearly brain dead from lack of sleep, and completely unsure of myself as a parent. This year I feel much more confident (most days), and I sleep a bit more, too. One thing hasn't changed, and that's my deep, pure love for this little goofball.


waiting for daddy

Friday, March 30, 2012

13 months: Feeding the baby, part II

Puffs in the cup holder
Sorting puffs.

Luka's eating habits changed pretty rapidly by 12 months. I knew it would happen around that time, but I have to be honest; the idea of him gaining most of his nutrition from solid foods rather than from his usual formula scared the pee outta me. Solid food? As in, the stuff he wears and smears on things? But it was a relief to learn at his 12 month well visit that his doc didn't recommend yanking his bottle away completely, just reducing the amount of formula and increasing his "real" food. So now he gets 16-20 oz. of formula, plus breakfast lunch and dinner. 12 months is also where whole cow's milk is typically introduced, but of course Lu gets a variety of plant milks instead. So far his favorite is almond milk.

The kid has a great palette! He will eat most anything that he can self feed. Since he's still so preemie teeny, his volume isn't that large. We just let him eat until he doesn't want to anymore, and it's working out fine.

Soy yogurt
wearing soy yogurt

I'm still working in a larger variety of foods for him. Here are some examples of what Lu eats for meals so far. He will usually have more than one food listed per meal, to keep things square.


Oatmeal or multi grain cereal with pureed fruit add-ins, like apple sauce, mango, berries, etc.
Banana chunks (his absolute favorite food)
wheat bread pieces with a very light coating of nut butter (peanut or almond)
Oatmeal with peanut butter
non-dairy yogurt, any flavor (another big favorite)
Fruit smoothie with rice protein

Lunch and Dinner:

crumbled baked tofu
pasta pieces with tomato sauce or nutritional yeast sauce
veggie burger pieces (for store bought, we like ones made of actual vegetables, like Dr. Praegers and Sunshine Burgers)
broccoli tops coated in flax oil
spinach, peas, carrots, all mashed or pureed
mashed potatoes (sweet or white)
edamame, cooked soft
rice cooked in veggie broth or a vegan cheesy sauce
falafel balls, crumbled
lentils, white beans, black beans, pinto beans, corn

Here's his general eating schedule:

6 oz. bottle upon waking between 7-8am
breakfast with plant milk from a cup around 8:30am
5-6 oz. bottle for snack before nap between 11am-12pm
Lunch and 5 oz. bottle between 2pm-3pm
5 oz. bottle for snack around 4pm
Dinner with plant milk from a cup around 5pm
6 oz. bottle before bed, between 7-8pm

 I feel like I'm stuffing him all day long! But he doesn't eat huge portions at all. We also let Luka taste almost anything we are eating, if he shows interest. He loves to share smoothies with us.  Especially if there's a straw involved! For the sake of convenience and also for a larger variety of food, we still keep some organic baby food in jars around. And the organic ones in pouches are really easy for feeding Lu away from home.

What are your favorite toddler foods?

a toddler?! when did we get a toddler?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

one year.

birthday 033

Luka John Joseph turned one this week! Amazing. If you would have asked me a year ago if Lu would make it to his first birthday healthy, happy and "normal", I would have said, "enough with the questions- we're on our way to the NICU to gaze longingly at our new baby".

luka day one

Luka is a really cool little baby if I do say so myself. We had a birthday party for him at Gymboree, and he had a blast crawling around and playing with his guests.

birthday 066

birthday 057

birthday 055

birthday 046

birthday 036

While I'm not normally keen on Lu having sugar at all, I did want to make him a smash cake. I made him a single layer banana cake with vanilla buttercream (all vegan, of course), and his hands were in it the second the cake was placed in front of him. And as I suspected, he didn't really eat any of it. He smashed some frosting into his mouth, made a sour face, then seemed irritated by the stickiness of it all. Ha.

birthday 097

birthday 106

Since the boy is 12 months now, we have been introducing more chunky foods. So far he has liked most everything as long as he gets to feed himself. Even chunks of avocado! Recent favorites are pasta rings (both semolina and brown rice) covered in pureed tomatoes and spinach or nutritional yeast sauce, smooshed blueberries, broccoli tops, tofu, white beans, wheat bread, and more. He also likes self feeding chunks of coconut oil. That's really messy, but makes for a nice smelling baby. Oh, the messes he makes.


Lu enjoys helping out at work. and by "helping", I mean crawling all over the place, making messes and trying to hurt himself on everything. Time to pad him up with packing material!


not helping

I have to admit, this year has been one of the most challenging of my life. Raising a little human is no joke, man. But getting to know our beautiful kid is completely worth the stress.

eleven months

I can't imagine my life without you in it. Thanks Lu.