Saturday, August 12, 2017

Baby Baby - You Drive Me Crazy (in a good way)!

Why, hello there! We're alive - pinky swear. We've been hiding under a rock due to a very busy summer schedule and lots of changes in our little lives. The biggest change of them all is that....Tot is now dairy-free. Insert all types of panic signals and buttons you can physically imagine because that's exactly what stabbed through my heart when we first realized it.

Now, I don't want to be dramatic. Children tackle health allergies all the time and we're actually blessed that this is the issue we're facing and not something far more serious. But, as you've read - keeping weight on Tot has been an obstacle since the day she was born. She's still in an incredibly low weight bracket and every meal, this Mama has to prepare for battle to make sure I trick my daughter into eating something other than Annie's fruit snacks. Up until we connected the dots, Tot's favorite food group was cheese. "Mama, more. More Mama.."

As you also know, I'm a neurotic healthy eater (most days) and don't eat any dairy so I immediately went into supermom mode in an attempt to reform her diet. She'll just eat what I eat, or so I thought. Wrong.

Little ones need far more nutrients than Mama's kale & avocado base, and it can be so difficult navigating that when half the ingredients will make her sick. But, just blessed are we in this day and age for...drumroll please....WHOLE FOODS! I don't know how Mama's past dealt with dairy allergies with toddlers without this saving grace.

I've strategically navigated the aisles back and forth, reading each and every ingredient desperate for some dairy alternatives and boy, have I found them. Veganism has taken such a hit in mainstream media, but it has been heaven-sent for our family. Now, Tot still eats fish and poultry - she's just not the biggest fan so we try not to solely focus on that for her main protein. With incorporating new treats like tofu and almonds, we're not having to painstakingly count every piece of chicken she eats to make sure she's getting every last nutrient and iron she needs.

Here are a few dairy-free staples we're currently obsessed with:

Coconut Milk

Obviously, Tot's formula that we were using to supplement her diet had to hasta la vista. And, with nuts being a strict no no at most daycares and schools (no go on the almond or cashew milk) - I did my research and found that coconut milk is a great alternative to whole milk once you've made the switch post-1 year check up (keep on the dairy-free formula until then). You can still purchase in large containers that you can keep in your fridge, and most restaurants and Starbucks have it in stock if you need some on the go while out & about.

The only caveat I'd add is that there are some versions filled with sugar for flavoring. Obviously, we try to avoid the mass amounts of sugar in something that is consumed so often throughout the day (I don't need Tot jumping off the wall from 7AM - 7PM). I typically pick-up the unsweetened version, but any version will do the trick!

Source: Whole Foods

Cheese, Please

I've gone back and forth searching for some vegan cheeses that will melt the same as normal every day cheese. Tot's favorite meals consist of quesadilla, cheese pizza, and grilled cheese. I panicked when I found out we couldn't supplement her diet with dairy any longer since it was such a big food group for us! Turns out - there are plenty of great vegan alternatives filled with wonderful plant-based substitutes that are equally plentiful and filling for Tot as the original. They come in slices, shredded or blocks - it really is up to you.

Source: Daiya Foods

Yo-Yo Yogurt

As I started to brainstorm all the normal dairy filled things Tot couldn't have, I realized how much I relied on yogurt as a simple and nutritious snack for her with fresh fruit throughout the day. Luckily, there are some amazing cashew and almond milk replacement that taste just as good, if not better than milk-based yogurt. Throw in some fresh blueberries and granola and you've got a snack the whole family can share!

Source: Cashewgurt

Butter Me Up!

You know from my posts that I'm a southern belle in disguise. I love to bake anything and everything. I didn't want to stop letting Tot indulge in my baked goods because that's such a big part of our weekends - Mama baking and little one taste testing. And, I didn't want to force this healthy'ish lifestyle on anyone, but we've found few simple baking tricks that have really helped include Tot in these mommy & me activities and they taste just as good.

Switch out butter for this equally tasty spread..

Source: Buttery Spread

Instead of eggs, throw in a couple teaspoons of this replacement with water and voila!

Source: Neat Egg

And, for those days you just don't feel like baking, Whole Foods has you covered Mama.

Focusing on plant-based goods isn't for everyone and I'm not going to preach to you wonderful Mama's that you should consider this for yourselves or your little ones. Certainly not! But, for those of you who are tackling allergies that you just can't seem to get a hold of or need a personal dietary refresh, it could be the alternative you're looking for. And, make it your own - pick and choose what of the vegan diet you want to engage in and what aspects don't fit your current needs. Little ones deserve to taste every little thing they set their sights on. I won't restrict Tot from anything - that's the beauty of being a kid. Well, as long as it's dairy free because this Mama can't handle that mess (TMI, I know).

Are any of you Mama's battling any allergies or tried a plant-based lifestyle before? Hit me up below with any words of wisdom!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Busy Bee Returns

Oh, hello again!

Apologies for the long absence. Our little family has some exciting new developments we'll be sharing with you soon (I just need to process everything myself in these clouds I call my headspace), but in the meantime - it has taken up every last ounce of my day racing around trying to get everything ready. And no, Mom...I'm not pregnant. Tot will not be a Big Sister any time soon.

With the Mr. traveling so much recently and being away from the nest, it's been a 2-woman show here in Northern California. Well, 3 if you count our sweet rescue pup Cosette (hi Cos)! But, Tot and I have taken some time to travel and spend as much time with the Mr as humanely possible. Working in Silicon Valley allows me the opportunity to sometimes work from home, the road, or any odd airport I seem to be delayed at. And being away from our sweet little apartment has reminded me of how difficult it is to pack for x number of days away without really knowing what you will have at your new location. I mean, HELLO - is there going to be a bottle sterilizer? Heck, even a microwave to use? Head shrug.

All these little questions floated through my head and I started to jot down a list of some really unique products and processes I've started using to assist with traveling with a little one. No, Tot isn't always predictable, but being prepared for any mood swing or request seems to keep me at ease when traveling alone with her. As you've seen from my Instagram account, Tot has also been diagnosed with a severe dairy allergy, which made this trip extra stressful as I couldn't just throw her formula or treats in the diaper bag and hope it would all be OK.

None the less, we survived and kept a smile on our face almost the entire time...almost.

Here are some fun-filled tips & tricks I wanted to share with each and every one of you on traveling either internationally or domestically with your little one (we did both this month - yikes):


Now, I don't pretend to be any type of airline guru like my husband. I mean, he is a master of all things airlines, miles, points etc. But, I have learned a few things in traveling alone with an infant. I'm always asked - how do you do it? Well, I've made it as simplistic as possible with her. So much in fact that we now have it down to a science.

The first thing we tackled was whether or not we purchased a second seat for Tot. As I mentioned, my husband has a special skill set for understanding mile usage and rivals even the Points Guy (check him out if you haven't yet). We typically travel on red eyes, which means it's less expensive to either purchase an extra seat outright or utilize miles for Tot's seat. But, regardless - getting her a seat to herself is SO key to traveling either as a family or alone. All US airlines allow you to utilize your FDA approved car seat on the flight, as long as it is sitting in the upright position. It provides a sense of stability and comfort to Tot, and honestly being hands free on the plane is priceless when you're traveling alone.

What we didn't know when we first started purchasing a seat for Tot is that while purchasing it online provides an ease of scheduling for parents and I mean - who doesn't buy airline tickets online? You do need to follow-up with a call to the airline to let them know that the occupant of the seat is in fact an infant under 2. Certain airlines have regulations in regards to where an infant can sit because of the placement of oxygen masks - so don't forget to give them a quick call to let them know your plans! We made that mistake once and NEVER AGAIN (you will get bumped from the plane if the seat you need to be in is occupied so beware).

+1 Carry-On's

When you're traveling alone with an infant, you have to be pretty strategic about what your carry-on's will be. Mama's, we all get the urge to bring everything and the kitchen sink, but I've learned over the past few months that it's important to remember anything you pack you NEED to carry...yourself.

Close your eyes and visualize this. You're traveling alone with your infant who will be sitting in her car seat on the plane. To get on the plane, you don't get to pre-board because you're flying say United (or American or Southwest...the list goes one, come on guys get your act together...) and you have to get yourself and your little one on the plane in the car seat with your purse, your work bag, diaper bag, and toy bag. I mean, I know most Mama's have extra hands and super human strength, but that is a feat for even the Hulk. The first few trips, I made the mistake of bringing a purse. I realized this was completely unnecessary for the flight. I started to pack my purse in my suitcase and instead, searched for a great knapsack that I could use to carry my essentials (i.e. wallet, iPhone), as well as a few things for Tot (i.e. diapers, extra clothes). Not only is it easy to throw on your back and doesn't take any hands, it helps you cut down on the things you need to put in the diaper bag which you will still have to carry on-board.

This is the current one I'm using and it's tough enough to withstand even the harshest of elements (aka the floor of a plane).

And, while a backpack and lighter diaper bag will help, don't ever be afraid to ask for extra assistance. You're a Mama traveling alone. You can't be everything to everyone so because holding your little one's hand to get on the plane is the priority, someone else can assist you with the car seat. Be sure to ask ahead! 

Toddler Bag

Now that Tot is 1, I thought she was old enough to start packing her own little toys, books, and snacks in her little bag. A very kind teacher of hers gifted her with this adorable carry-on bag and she uses it ALL the time now (thank you, Lisa)! In order to make travel a fun adventure for Tot, I now have her assist in gathering items she'd like to bring and putting together her snack packs for the trip. She gets the biggest kick out of feeling like a big girl and helping Mama, and I have one less thing to carry on the plane. Obviously, she can't carry this herself throughout the airport so until we gate check her Uppababy Cruz stroller, I use my handy dandy Mom Hook to hold it for her. She literally claps her hands every time she sees it and plays with only the things in the bag on the flight now. It's cut down on our toy and treat space in her diaper bag, plus gives her the little independence she loves. 

And, Mama's if you don't have a Mom Hook yet - definitely order one right away. From groceries to purses, it is the ultimate gadget for any stroller. 

Location, Location

Not every place you visit is going to be thrilling and filled with planned activities for your little one's. I mean, let's be real. Grandparent visits, work trips - you name it, things pop up and while you're excited to show a new locale to your tots, it's hard to find things to keep them occupied for 12 hours a day while you're away from your comfort zone. I've started to learn that Tot doesn't need some big theme park to feel like she is being entertained. Whether it's a green space with bubbles or an outdoor patio with space to roam - she just wants to explore and see new things and that's what's key to really making the most of your time away from home. 

Recently, we took a trip to visit the Mr. while he was away for work. Logistically, it sounded great in my head, but then I realized while he was at the office I had to find things to keep her busy. Cue panic attack...deep breaths, Mama. 

First things first, while it seems like an excessive cost - just rent a car. A small compact car that allows you the ability to be mobile quickly without relying on public transportation or relatives to pick you up. It's a small piece of independence that can be your getaway car when the little one refuses to cooperate. 

Once you have your car, explore your area. Within a day of our trip, I realized there were so many free activities for Tot to enjoy without worrying too much about planning and scheduling specific things for us to do to keep us occupied. From the play center at Chick-Fil-A to free water fountains at a shopping complex - we kept ourselves busy during the day and had a great opportunity exploring a new city! 

Don't be scared to spend extra time at Pottery Barn Kids because your little one loves sitting in their play sets or grabbing that extra cupcake from Sprinkles because they have a kids table that can keep the tots busy for an extra 30 mins. It's all about making the trip as enjoyable as possible without spending a ton of money on theme parks. The adventures I remember the most as a kid are the ones where I just got to be a kid and play with my loved ones. 

Be creative - do some searches ahead of time and always reach out to local Mom groups for any tips or tricks. Here in Northern California, we have Golden Gate Mom's and we're always willing to provide any fun things to keep visitors busy in the Bay Area. We're all parents and we get what it's like to be bored and stranded in a new city with absolutely nothing to do. A parents worst nightmare. Reach out and ask for guidance!

And, be prepared to spend a few extra dollars on toys you may not be able to take home. While purchasing a $10 bubble machine may seem extravagant considering you're only in town for a few days, it may in fact provide your little one with $100 worth of entertainment at a local park. Think outside the box and don't be afraid to leave things behind in a hotel or Air BnB if you're not able to pack them. Pay it forward! 

All in all, trips are about charting new adventures with your loved ones. It doesn't matter if you're taking them to Disney World or Iowa. To them, it's about extra morning cuddles and late night treats in bed. That's what matters the most. Don't let having a family keep you back from exploring this amazing world we live in. Pack up your bags and hit the road! 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Feed Me, Mama!

Like I've mentioned before, Tot is a picky eater. And, I mean, that's saying it lightly because I'm her Mama. Half the things she tries she either crumples in her hand or spits out. She's also fiercely independent and determined to feed herself from her Munchkin snack box. Currently, she's obsessed with mac n'cheese and grilled cheese - but, I can't have her eating that for forever.

I don't know about you Mama's, but baking is such a therapeutic exercise for me. With work stress at an all time high, I needed an escape this past weekend so I baked! I have to say the results were quite successful. For Tot, I made banana oat pancakes, and gluten-free banana cookies. For the Adults, I made chocolate chip cookies on our salt block from Williams Sonoma! I was that Mama that desperately wanted to make homemade organic baby food for her, but let's get real - I just never found the time. Instead, I've taken ownership of making her little homemade snacks I can pack for her lunch bag at school so she can mix up her grilled cheese with something a little more scrumptiously healthy. Tot does attend a nut-free school and I've found most of these recipes work for that peanut-less environment with just a touch of tweaking.

What kind of homemade snacks do you make your little ones? Do you have any recipes you'd like to share? Comment below - we'd love to hear from you all.

Banana Oat Pancakes (makes approx. 10)

4 ripe bananas
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup of quick oats
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. Mash bananas in a large bowl until smooth. Mix in eggs and vanilla until well combined, then mix in oats and cinnamon.
2. Heat a skillet to medium and add in a scoop* of the pancake batter. Smooth out to form an even layer. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes until you start to see bubbles releasing from the top of the batter. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown, about to 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Garnish your pancakes with your favorite toppings (we did sliced bananas)
4. Serve with light maple syrup or let cool and pack away in a ziploc container for a snack at school
5. Enjoy!

*Note: use 1/2 cup for scooping the batter to yield thicker pancakes; use 1/3 cup to yield smaller pancakes.

Link -

Banana Bites

1 medium banana
1/3 cup of peanut butter (we use nut-free butter from Whole Foods)
1/3 cup of organic apple juice
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cup dry oats
1 teaspoon baking soda

1. Mix first five (5) ingredients very well in a bowl
2. Add whole wheat flour, oats, and baking soda
3. Blend all of the remaining ingredients into the dry mixture
4. Spray cookie sheet with coconut oil
5. Drop by teaspoon full onto cookie sheet and flatten with the back of spoon
6. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes
7. Enjoy!

Link -

Strawberry Popsicles

I recently purchased (on Amazon) the Nuby Garden Fresh Fruitsicle Frozen Pop Tray from Amazon (link here: that I use with this recipe.

Makes 6 large popsicles (I cut portions in half to utilize the Nuby Tray)

3 cups fresh (or frozen, but thawed) strawberries hulled and halved
1/2 cup agave syrup (can substitute honey)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Combine all ingredients into a food processor (we use our Vitamin) to mix the strawberries, honey, and lemon juice
2. Process and pulse until smooth
3. Pour puree into molds and put in freezer. Freeze until solid (at least 4 hours)
4. Enjoy! 

If you find a different fresh fruit, feel free to throw it in. We like to mix pineapple and watermelon to give Tot a variety of fruit to slurp by the pool. If you're interested in our adult snacks we made (salt block chocolate chip cookies) - let me know and I'll share that fun recipe too! 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Always you, Mama...

Thank you's mean a lot, especially when they come from your little ones when the only words they know are "up" and "Mama." This Sunday, all across America - Mama's are getting a little extra love for all that they do, the hugs get a little bigger to say thank you. 

Personally, this day is so incredibly special for me and has been far before I become a Mama myself. This Sunday, I'm going to be celebrating not just those wonderful Mom's I know and love (like my own Mom and MIL), but women all around the world on the quest to be Mama's too. This year has been been filled with great love & lost for those around me on their journey to pregnancy and on Sunday, it will be especially hard for them to cope with the hardships they've had to face. Surrounding Mama's, Mama-to-be's, and Mama's in waiting (as I like to call them) with courage, strength, and love is so incredibly important. So if you know someone struggling to get pregnant or someone that needs a little extra support - make sure you remember them this weekend too. Let's spread the love & hugs far and wide. 

And how do we show people we love them? With endless celebrations and thank you's! Being on a tight budget doesn't mean you can't show your Mama's you love them - there are plenty of ways to say thank you without having to drain your bank account. 

Personally, Tot & the Mr. are taking me out to my favorite restaurant to be spoiled and making me extra special cards for Mother's Day. Instead of a gift, I'm just thankful for time alone with my favorites giggling and eating delicious avocado toast (a favorite of Tot & me). 

Photo Credit: Mayfield's Bakery 

But, if you still want to pick up that extra special gift for your Mama, Mama to be, or Mama in waiting - take a look at this great list of gifts under $50 to show them you care:

Mom Glass Tray: Toss Designs

Dee Earrings: Kendra Scott

Monogrammed Heathered Pullover Tunic: Marleylilly

Southern Belle Beach Tote: Francesca's

Soul Cycle or Pure Barre Class

In the Company of Women: Paper Source

Friday + Saturday Shirt: Riffraff

Horizontal Blackboard Crates: Magnolia Market

Make a donation to a cause your Mama is unequivocally passionate about. Mine is Autism Speaks

At the end of the day, spending time with the ones you love means the most. Gifts warm the heart for a moment, but quality memories last a lifetime. Take this weekend to really surround your Mama's with all the love in the world and remember to say two simple words: thank you. 

"Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles." 
- Sharon Jaynes

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tot Turns One!

A year ago, my whole world turned right side up when our little one was born. And boy, has it been an adventure ever since. Their first birthday is a rollercoaster of emotions - one second you're so proud of the little person they've become and the next you're wishing time would just stand still so you can soak up every ounce of joy you feel in this very moment.

With those never-ending surges comes the added pressure of incapsulating all of this into one elaborate first birthday party. I've seen all the Facebook pictures, all the Instagram posts - you Mama's go above and beyond for these little ones and their birthdays. I truly don't know how you do it. But, when did a birthday celebration turn into a circus of events that overwhelm even the calmest Mama's I know? Where did we go wrong as parents allowing our little ones to think they deserve a petting zoo every year at their birthday? I mean, I love pony rides as much as the next person - I just needed a more realistic balance of what Tot can expect from her birthday parties over the next 18 or so years...she's on her own after that..maybe.

After much soul-searching and a few Pinterest searches (I know - I caved and used Pinterest. I swear this never happens), I realized that all Tot needed was an atmosphere of love, adoration, and just overall fun. Enter - the Pizza/Pool Party! What better way to celebrate a birthday on a budget then with a simple homemade pizza party by our pool. And you know what? Tot had the TIME of her life and so did we.

I had to get creative - I mean, I was inviting a group of people to smoosh into our 1200 square foot apartment. It's not like we could have some elaborate theme with balloon animals and a goat to pet. I needed simple decorations, a flow of traffic to the patio and pool, and lots of fun trinkets for Tot to enjoy.

Decorations were my first obstacle. I've been having a ton of success with the $1 bin at Target and decided to hit up a few local stores to check out the selection. Don't get me wrong, just because I wasn't planning an elaborate bouncy castle in the shape of a heart didn't mean I wasn't planning ahead. I've been scoping out the local sales bins at Target for a few months now, collecting things as I go along. From the garland to the straws - every thing decoration related was picked up from Target. Here are a few of my favorite things:

Finished Product


This part was an easy solution for us as we are the proud owners of a Pronto Pizza Oven. For those of you not familiar, it is a portable pizza oven that can be placed on your patio or porch and make delicious pizzas for you and your family without having to pick up a phone! Developed in the Bay Area, it's been such a great thing for us to have year-round. Since we purchased it over a year ago, it's been a journey of pizza making for our little family - testing new dough and topping recipes all the time. For parties? It's such a fun, group activity where we ask our guests to bring a few fun ingredients to add to the dough and cheese we provide. You should see some of the combinations our guests come up with - deliciously scrumptious. I make the dough a few hours before and let it rise in time for your guests to jump in and make their own pizza'licious treats. 

For more information on the Pronto - click here:

Birthday Cake

Through all my Instagram creeping, I found that the most important part was the cake - DUH! I wanted Tot to have her own little cake to smash, as well as one we could share with our guests. But, I wasn't willing to spend $100 on a cake my little one was going smoosh into her face and let's be real...her Mama's face. One of my best friends (and amazing Mama herself) introduced me to Nothing Bundt Cakes a few years ago and my life has been forever changed. If you've ever had a bit of their red velvet treats, you know what I mean. For organized freaks (like myself) you can order online far in advance and even add any extra treats like balloons, cards, etc. They also have a variety of sizes and flavors that will fit all your guests needs - even tiered cakes SERIOUSLY. Tot had a white chocolate raspberry bundlet to devour, while our guests enjoyed a larger red velvet cake with a princess hat and sparklers attached. For Tot's classroom party at school, I ordered a dozen bundtinis for all her classmates to share. As you can see, we're a tad obsessed with Nothing Bundt Cakes! 

To see if there is a location near you, check out:

At the end of the day, Tot had the best day swimming and being the center of attention, and Mama spent less than $100. With all our friends capturing the party on their iPhones, we had plenty of pictures to share with our family and friends that couldn't join in on the fun without the added expense of a professional photographer. Parties don't need to be filled with extravagant or expensive things in order to be successful & fun. When you shower your little one with love and simple things they enjoy - that's truly all that matters. I hope Tot will learn over time that her birthday isn't about spending a lot of money on material things, but being surrounded by her favorite people doing some of her favorite things. 

From this new toddler Mama to each and every one of you - thank you for all the birthday love for our little one! 

Blog Design by Get Polished | Copyright © Bumble Bee & Tot