Back when I was doing my Whole 30, I stumbled into a delicious "dessert" - whole dates with unsweetened coconut. I'd just put a bit of coconut in a bowl, add some dates and...that's it! It was simple, delicious, and while not exactly healthy, it wasn't that bad for you. (That's still a lot of sugar, yo, and the powers-that-be would probably frown on me having any sort of "dessert" at all. But anyway...)
A few days after that, I discovered Larabars. I know, where have I been? Well, to be quite truthful, Larabars are a little out of my normal price range. But, I had a coupon and they are almost all made with Whole 30 compliant ingredients, so I bought a few to take with us on a road trip to Connecticut in case we needed a quick snack in the car. One of the flavors I grabbed was the coconut cream pie flavor and oh my heavens, it was delicious. Very reminiscent of my dates-with-coconut dessert and I knew I needed to figure out how to make it.
Turns out if you Google "homemade larabars" there are a LOT of options out there... Mine isn't groundbreaking in any way, I'm just sharing because I can! The ingredients are simple - dates, unsweetened coconut, almonds, cashews and coconut oil. I formed mine into balls, just because that seemed the easiest. This recipe consistently makes 17 slightly-bigger-than-a-tablespoon balls for me.
coconut cream pie laraballs
Oh, little buddy... You arrived with a bang a year ago today. You've always been a chill little guy, ever since that day! Your sweet nature charmed our whole family. Your papa and I adore you and your sister does too - unless you're stealing her toys and then she's not such a fan.
You were a big guy at birth (9lbs 13 oz!) and you haven't slowed down one bit. We'll find out for sure in a few days at your one year checkup, but you're somewhere around 26-27 lbs and TALL. You're officially bigger than several 3-year-olds we know. You've always been a pretty good sleeper, even falling asleep at the Common Ground Fair in your little lumberjack shirt. Nowadays I give you a little bounce on the yoga ball and a pat on the back and you toss and turn until you finally enter dreamland. I have mixed feelings about this. It's great that you can sleep on your own, but I know I will never again have a tiny baby that needs to sleep on me! Bittersweet...
You are seriously the happiest baby I know. Everything brings you such joy. All I have to do to get you grinning is just look in your direction. Make a funny face or silly smile and forget it...you might explode with glee! You love to bang on things - blocks, toy pots, pretty much anything that makes a noise. You wave toys around with wild abandon and love to pull everything out of a bin and toss it behind you with utter happiness. You can chew a book to bits in moments and have destroyed more toys in your short life than I ever thought possible! Which is not to say you're malicious in any way, the destruction comes from a place of glee and excitement and, despite the wreckage, is pretty funny to watch.
You love your older sister and think that everything she does is pretty much the best thing ever. You're home a lot with papa and you two have the best times! Mama is definitely a favorite though. You love to cuddle and flop your head down on my shoulder, especially when we meet new people. You love to flirt, as long as you feel secure in mama's or papa's arms. Everybody loves you!
You're a great eater and, in typical male fashion, meat is your favorite. Bring on the chicken! I'm loving watching you learn and grow every day. You've taken a few halting steps but exuberant crawling is still definitely your preferred method of locomotion. You love to make sounds and noises but I've yet to hear a distinguishable word...although it sounds like "mama" might be close! Happy birthday buddy, we love you!
...the whole set...
I'm certain someone, somewhere, will want to vilify me for this post. I know this because that's exactly why I'm writing it. I know this because I've already seen people get jumped on for expressing similar, if not identical, stories.
So what am I going on about? Car seats, people, car seats. Specifically, rear-facing. See, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain rear-facing until age 2. The law, at least here, hasn't quite caught up with that recommendation and only requires that children remain rear-facing until age 1 and 20 lbs. I've seen a lot of people sharing this information lately, which is great. Get the word out! Safer kids!
See, though, this isn't a pro-rear-facing car seat post. Not exactly...
I am all for the recommendation. I believe that kids should be rear-facing as long as they can. I'm all for sharing the information and getting the word out about the new(ish) recommendations. Who wants to knowingly endanger their child's life more than they already have to by simply getting them in a car in the first place?
I am decidedly against shaming people and making them feel terrible about their (possibly quite difficult) decision to not follow the recommendation.
In all fairness, the great majority of friends and random internet strangers I've seen sharing this info have been perfectly civil about it. The few who haven't...well, they've been downright brutal toward those that choose to put their kids forward-facing before age 2, for whatever reason. Yes, there is ignorance out there and I know they think they're helping by pointing out the information, but getting angry at someone [that they don't even know] and telling them they are a terrible parent who is endangering their child's life? That is uncalled for. And extremely unlikely to change any minds or save any lives.
I wish I was making this up.
The particular example that prompted me to write this was a woman whose child screamed and screamed while rear-facing and they finally turned him around because the distraction and stress of having a constantly-screaming child in a car seat was making them feel unsafe driving. And you know what? I GET THAT. To everybody who shouted at her that they'd rather have an unhappy and/or uncomfortable child than a dead one - shame on you. You clearly don't know what it's like.
I could have been that mother. I fully intended to rear-face E as long as possible...until age 2 and beyond! But she had other plans. She hated rear-facing. HATED IT. She hated it with the passion of a million fiery suns. She would scream and scream whenever we went anywhere. We never did figure out what exactly she hated about it, though I think it may have had something to do with the sun. She would get in the car seat just fine, there was no struggle there. But once in the seat...screaming. And I'm not talking about regular ol' crying. I'm talking full-blown, screaming, omg-what-are-you-doing-to-that-child, getting-stared-at-by-the-neighbors, shrieking like she's being tortured. And here's the thing - when E gets worked up, she pukes. So, imagine driving anywhere while trying to keep your child (relatively) calm, only having no idea how to do that because you can't actually figure out why they're screaming their head off in the first place. Because if you can't keep them calm (and you can't) they're going to puke all over themselves, their car seat, possibly the car. We tried everything we could think of. I asked for suggestions from friends, our pediatrician, anyone I could. We tried to keep her distracted. We tried snacks, water, no snacks, no water. Sunhats and sunglasses to keep the sun out of her eyes. Singing. Books, activities, special "car toys" to play with. Bribery. Rewards. Treats. Whatever. Everything. I took to keeping paper towels and lots of tissues in the car. Extra clothes. It sucked. Taking her anywhere was torture for everybody involved. We stopped going anywhere that wasn't absolutely necessary. If we were lucky, she would scream herself to sleep before she puked all over. Of course, if she did puke, then she screamed even harder because OMG PUKE.
We did this for months. Finally, shortly before her 2nd birthday, I turned her car seat around so she was forward facing. It was like magic. A switch flipped. She didn't scream anymore! At all! We could go places again! I didn't have to worry about vomiting in the car!
Is she less safe now? Probably, yes. It was still worth it. The person shaming the other woman pooh-poohed her concerns about feeling less safe driving with a constantly screaming child. I completely understand. It was very easy to imagine getting into an accident because I was trying to deal with E's shenanigans.
The small chance that we were going to get into an accident where rear-facing vs. forward-facing would have made the difference for my child...versus the every single day screaming, vomiting, stress-inducing, distracted driving... Well, I weighed my options and you see which way I went. I understand not everybody would make the same decision. But I stand by it.
Over a year later, E is a great car traveler. She literally stopped screaming in the car the instant she was facing forward. Our car rides since then have all been fantastic. And H? He's about to be one year old in two weeks and he weighs a whopping 26 lbs. Legally, I could turn him around. Will I? Nope. He's perfectly happy to be rear-facing. He does not cause nearly the same amount of incredible stress and frustration in the car as E did at his age.
So, please. Before you judge, remember that you don't know everybody's story.