Nora turns two and a half today! Our tradition is to celebrate half birthdays with a somewhat ugly half birthday cake, and this year is no different.

Okay, so it’s a little different since we decided this would be the perfect opportunity to try out Dr. Fuhrman’s famous Healthy Chocolate Cake recipe. We kind of expected the worst (knowing that Nora wouldn’t mind either way, because this kid’s favorite snacks right now are seaweed and dried beets), but you guys, this cake is good. I’ve never been a fan of healthified baked goods, so my endorsement actually means something here.

Half birthday = half a birthday cake 1.5! 2.5!

Anyway, back to what really matters today – our big little girl!

Recipe for 2.5:

2 tbs infuriating boundary testing
1 quart hilarious chatting
2 cups heartwarming displays of affection towards other family members
a sprinkle of adorably mispronounced words
a good dash of all manner of emotions, adjusted to taste based on the day (or minute)
omit all naps because apparently someone is allergic to them (eye roll)

Bake at 98.6 degrees for nine months, let rise for 2.5 years, and enjoy.

Layouts, Scrapbooking

Bond (James Bond)

This month’s Story Kit theme is Bond, which meant I obviously had to scrapbook about JK and Nora – in my completely non-biased opinon, they are the cutest daddy/daughter combo around, and their bond has grown even stronger this past year. JK helped me out so much with childcare when I was sick and down in the dumps during pregnancy, and now that he’s on his epic parental leave from work, he’s pretty much in charge of all things Nora while I nurse and nurse and nurse and do the little baby things.

J-K + Nora (Ali Edwards Bond Story Kit)

Now I have a whole list of other relationships I want to scrapbook with this too – Nora and Wellie! Wellie and Basil! And, of course, Nora and Lily. Aaaw.

Challenge, Health, Nutritarian

Setting goals

I’m trying to get back into posting regularly because now, thanks to me sleeping a little better (let the huzzahs be heard around the world!) and Lily being a total dream baby who has given herself a 6-7 PM bedtime most days, I totally have time to write here. Except I usually end up watching TV instead.

Mentally, I’m doing so much better! Getting more sleep (unfortunately it’s thanks to Unisom, but I hope to be able to wean off it soon) has removed all signs of depression. Sleep, man. It’s so important. Still, I know how important running, hiking, and goal setting is to my mental health, so I went ahead and signed up for the Sun Mountain 25K in May!

While I feel no shame in talking (at length, over and over and over) about my struggle with depression – it’s something so many of us go through and I don’t think we should feel ashamed of that – I’ve felt too awkward to write much about weightloss here before. It seems like such an embarrassing thing to go into, but whatever. It’s on my mind right now and it’s important for my health, so here goes.

35 Weeks

After my first pregnancy, I didn’t care about losing weight at all. I had lost weight during the pregnancy anyway, thanks to getting gestational diabetes and having to really clean up my diet, and I was too overwhelmed by the huge life change to even think about nixing the chocolate. But I gained twice as much during pregnancy this time, and our life just feels…normal again already. So I want my body to feel back to normal too. Having lost a bunch of weight just prior to pregnancy, I now know just how much better I felt without those extra pounds on me. Running was so much easier, hiking uphill was so much easier. More importantly, my everyday life was affected as well – I have never had more energy in my life than I did in the final weeks before morning sickness hit. I am now one of those “I want to lose weight so I can keep up with my kids”-people.

(Oh heeey, look at me finally fitting into the way-too-small-but-I-thought-they-would-fit-soon hiking pants I bought in 2010 which was SEVEN YEARS AGO.)

I’ve been a vegetarian since 2004 (after handling a skinless human leg in anatomy class and realizing that human muscle looks and feels exactly like pork tenderloin), but obviously not a very healthy one. There was a lot of pizza involved. And chocolate. And potato chips. And chocolate chip cookies. Over the years, I’ve eaten healthier and healthier, especially once I got over the newborn stage last time and I realized that I had to start taking care of my health. The gestational diabetes diagnosis was a real wake-up call, since it means I have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. There’s just no way I am going to do that to myself.

I eventually got to the point where almost all my actual meals were stellar, but then I went and snacked on, like, literally thousands of calories’ worth of chocolate on top of that. Since we finally stopped eating chocolate (and using oil to cook with) at the beginning of February, I’ve consistently lost around .5 lbs a day, which currently puts me at 4 lbs above my prepregnancy weight. (It’s been coming off so quickly that I’m a little worried that it’s eventually going to affect my milk supply, so I think I’m going to add even more nuts and avocado than I am already eating, just in case. I don’t need to be losing weight quite this fast, but it seems strange to add more food because I’m definitely not going hungry when I eat like this!) I’m sure some of the weightloss was water weight, but removing chocolate and oil are the only two changes we made to our diet, which should tell you how much chocolate we would eat. Ahem:

These Days
(Why yes, they did actually come home with that thing, and why yes, we did finish it in, like, three days. Insert horrified emoji here.)

Anyway, so this is what we’re eating now – we’re following nutritarian guidelines since that’s what I was doing when I felt so good last year, and we love it. In fact, I’ve entered the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study!

Every morning we all (except for Lily, because, in Nora’s words, “Lily only drinks milk! Lily drinks milk ALL THE TIME.”) eat an oatmeal bowl with blueberries, strawberries, banana, cinnamon, walnuts, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds (for a quadruple ALA-punch). Neither of us used to be oatmeal fans, but now we really look forward to that warm bowl in the morning. Taste buds really do adjust, even when you’re old and gray like us.

These Days Food

For lunch, I like to eat a gigantic salad (served in a full-sized serving bowl) topped with roasted vegetables and beans or whatever random dinner leftovers I have from the night before. My favorite dressing is the enchilada sauce from Veganomicon (minus the salt, sugar, and oil). I also add shredded red cabbage and some raw onion to heed Dr. Fuhrman’s words of wisdom, plus some pumpkin seeds or avocado.

Nora obviously doesn’t eat a giant salad for lunch, so she’ll either have leftovers from the night before, or whole grain bread with hummus or nut butter, or a tamale with beans, salsa, and avocado. Or roasted chickpeas, which is her most favorite thing ever.

Fud Autumn 2016

As for dinner, we’ve been making our current favorite meals over and over and over and somehow we’re not sick of them yet. These include:

  • Glowing Spiced Lentil Soup (Nora had three bowls of this for dinner the other night)
  • Soul-Soothing African Peanut Stew from the first Oh She Glows book (I put tons of frozen spinach or kale in these soups, which is a great way to get greens into a toddler)
  • These Days Food

  • We’ve only had this once so far but it’s definitely going into our rotation: Hunky Heartbeet Cabbage Soup from, you guessed it, Oh She Glows! That girl knows her soups. I topped it with pistachios and shaved raw brussels sprouts, and it was extremely comforting on a cold day. A new favorite, even though it made Nora look like a teeny tiny vampire.
  • Fud Fud

  • polenta pizza piled sky-high with roasted vegetables and walnuts, served with arugula and tomato sauce with a bunch of kale cooked in (this has become our new savory comfort food)
  • Food Food

  • tacos with spicy beans, salsa, shredded red cabbage, sauteed onions and peppers and guacamole (JK makes excellent corn tortillas)
  • These Days Food

  • lentil/pecan cabbage rolls from Vegan Bowl Attack, served with the same kale tomato sauce we use for the polenta plus some shredded raw cabbage on top
  • Food Autumn 2016

To avoid the worst of the withdrawals when we quit the ol’ chocolate cold turkey, I used dates as a sort of methadone. I can’t sleep in the morning anyway, so I like to sneak out of bed while everyone else is still sleeping and snuggle with Wellie on the couch while drinking a cup of coffee, checking the internets, and eating a date. It totally satisfies my sweets-with-coffee craving. The harder thing is when I have a bad day and immediately start thinking ‘I deserve to treat myself, damnit’. That’s usually my downfall.

Now the problem is how do I reintroduce chocolate again as a very occasional treat without going overboard? I did manage to do it last spring and maintained a once-in-a-very-long-while relationship with chocolate until morning sickness hit, so I know it’s possible, even for me. I’m definitely going to reintroduce it in some way at some point, because the second words like ‘forever’ or ‘never’ get thrown around, I immediately turn into a petulant child who may as well start liquefying chocolate in order to receive a constant intravenous flow.

Sun Mountain 2012
(Photo from Sun Mountain the year JK ran it. Look! Pretty! *pictures self running through the wildflowers*)

Speaking of things that feel somewhat awkward to write about, but apparently a lot of women struggle with, so what the hell, I’ll say it – I have a bladder prolapse. I think a coughing fit I had the day after giving birth did a number on my pelvic floor, and now my bladder has migrated to where it shouldn’t be (as if it wasn’t bad enough that one of those coughing fits broke my water).

Of course I freaked out when I found out, imagining a future of never getting to run again (or even just not getting to run this winter/spring, which is the basis of my mental health plan during the postpartum period), but luckily my physical therapist is a fellow “mental health runner” who is very understanding. She says I can run again after another couple of weeks or so of training my pelvic floor muscles, and I can hike in the meantime! I had grand plans of taking advantage of JK’s long, luxurious parental leave to go on, well, long, luxurious runs, but now I obviously can’t do that, which means I won’t have much time to train for Sun Mountain. That brings me back to food – right now, eating healthy and becoming lighter is the easiest way for me to help my future running.

Hiking, Hiking with baby, Mount Rainier, Top Trips

Lily Meets The Mountain

Lily has been on a whole bunch of little treks around the Watershed and Tiger Mountain, but our first “big” hike as a family of four – snowshoeing on Mount Rainier – was…interesting. Okay, so it was complete chaos from beginning to end.

Paradise Paradise

We were too tired the night before to start packing in advance, and we don’t yet have a routine down for what we need to bring on a toddler + newborn hike, especially in snow. Then Lily woke up too early from her nap and was cranky and overtired, our grocery/nursing stop along the way took far too long, and we pulled into the Paradise parking lot much later than we had anticipated.



As if we weren’t late enough already, everything takes sooo. damn. long. when there’s one small child for each adult, especially when one child is a totally helpless newborn and the other is a toddler, intent on creating mayhem wherever she goes.


When we finally got our snowshoes on and the kids strapped to our bodies, it was so late that we realized we just wouldn’t have time to have the fancy picnic we had planned and still make it back down the mountain before they closed the gate at Longmire at 5pm. Gaah! So we just hiked up to a spot that was relatively sheltered from the wind, dropped our packs, and decided that we were going to have fun no matter what, damnit! And we did.


Nora dug into the carrots and hummus with gusto (and refused to wear her sunglasses most of the time, because toddler) and chatted up a storm about how she wants her own crampons and snowshoes and that she’s going to climb Rainier one day just like pappa.

Paradise Paradise
Paradise Paradise

She also rediscovered the joy of glissading!


Lily was still overtired and had her crankypants on until I gave her a pacifier in her wrap, and then she melted into my body like butter. It’s pretty much the greatest feeling in the world.


Throughout the whole thing, I had Jason Mraz’s Life is Wonderful stuck in my head, and you know what, it really is. I’m so glad we have these girls and each other and these mountains and this life. And I’m so glad I’m in a mental place again where I can look around at the chaos and say, in total honesty, that even a trip like this is worth it. (I could do without the backseat screaming in stereo, though.)


So, lessons learned for next time: (1) Write a pack list. (2) Get everything ready the night before. (3) Enjoy the madness. (4) Bring earplugs for the car.


Baby, Layouts

Lily’s Birth Story

The theme for Ali’s February product release is, unsurprisingly, all about luuurve! I used the opportunity to finally get Lily’s birth story down on paper for her baby album. I’m glad I had jotted down some notes a couple days after the big event, otherwise the story would have read something like “I coughed and then this amazing baby came out”.

I loved the gradient LOVE YOU journaling card, so I used this Photoshop trick to turn the background transparent, then just erased the part that went over my shoulder. Ta-da!


I spent the day before Thanksgiving in bed with what was either bronchitis or pneumonia – whatever it was, I felt sicker than I have in years and years. I had just coughed so hard that I sprained an intercostal muscle and had to get help just to go to the bathroom, so I hoped that my body would know to not go into labor just then. But nope. Another coughing fit (while watching Shameless on my laptop in bed – sorry I don’t have a more romantic story for you, kid) broke my water and I knew there was no turning back now – I was going to have a Thanksgiving baby. I called the midwives and just tried to get some sleep.

I woke up at 2am with contractions, and stayed awake the rest of the night. They were spaced pretty far apart until they suddenly, out of nowhere, started coming every 2-3 minutes. I freaked out, picturing a baby-born-in-car scenario, and woke JK up so we could rush off to the hospital at 5am. Bessefar stayed home to wait for Nora to wake up (I’m so glad she didn’t see me in that state).

I vividly remember thinking that I would give birth within an hour and that I could make it that long, but the second I laid down in the hospital bed, the adrenaline wore off and my contractions became very spaced out and erratic. On top of that, I had to get intravenous fluids and nutrition since I hadn’t been able to eat or drink much the last couple of days. There was a contagious disease warning sign outside our room and almost everyone who came in wore a mask, which didn’t help the whole I-feel-like-death thing.

I knew my contractions would come faster if I were standing, but I didn’t even have the energy to get out of bed…and eventually realized I didn’t have the energy to get through the contractions much longer at all. I talked it over with Kim, my midwife, and decided to go for the epidural.

It felt bizarre being so numb during labor, but this time it was definitely better than the alternative. I was even able to rest for a couple of hours while JK watched a Manchester United match. I really didn’t like that I wasn’t getting any natural cues from my body anymore and I was worried about having to do coached pushing this time, but it was fine – I let Kim know that I was starting to feel some pressure, pushed for about 15 minutes, and then little Lily was born.

I immediately gave Lily a big hug, but she wasn’t crying and she was this awful grey/blue color that really scared me. The nurse started rubbing her until she finally cried, but she was a gurgling mess (not unlike her mamma) and suddenly a bunch of people were there to help suction a ton of fluid out of her. They considered whisking her off to the nursery for extra observation, but once we did some skin to skin and nursing, she perked up.

All throughout the pregnancy, I was worried about how I could possibly love another little baby as much as I love Nora, but the second I hugged Lily, all those concerns were gone. I know it was Thanksgiving, not Christmas, but my heart grew three sizes that day.