Hampton Roads VegFest 2018

When I heard about Veg Fest, I knew immediately that I wanted to go and eat everything. Literally... one of everything. You see, when you don't eat meat, there is usually one or two things on a menu that you can pick from. But this was a place where every single thing was an option. So I quietly clicked "interested" in this festival early in 2018, and patiently waited for it to come. But on Sunday morning, there was no taming the excitement.
There were so many more vendors and people than I expected. There was live music, cooking demonstrations, lectures, a yoga zone, an adoptable avenue, a kid zone, a creator's corner, a beer garden, and so many food vendors.
The kid zone had all kinds of games and arts and crafts, but also had a different contest every thirty minutes. From banana bingo, to hot potato, and fake food fights, it rotated and stayed busy.

We spent most of our time over by the food. Tamarind had my favorite dish of the day, but we also had tacos, mac and cheese, bbq sandwiches, plantain salad, shrimp and grits, potato salad, a jerk chicken bowl and a cinnamon roll. (Split between three adults and two kids- haha!) The lines were long and there seemed to be a delay at the start, but I'm chalking that up as a win and taking it to mean that so many people are interested in vegan food that there were back ups! I would say next year, I'm not getting there right when it opens though. Several vendors were not ready, so I'll wait an hour before coming.
R was happiest running around in the sunshine with his buddy, listening to the music, and watching the trains go by between bites of food. We sat in the beer garden watched the band Static Collector from Norfolk, who were really good, and reminded me of an old school indie Death Cab.

Nice to be needed, even as just a chair. 

I love these kinds of events. Supporting local vendors, local restaurants, and listening to local music. An awesome way to spend a Sunday.
If you're looking to try vegan food, check out these places in Hampton Roads (as copied from the paperwork today, but I've tried several of these!)

  • Yorgo's Bageldashery 
  • Pelon's Baja Grill (best salsa ever, tacos are great, guac is awesome!)
  • Pasha Mezze
  • My Vegan Sweet Tooth 
  • Kahiau's
  • Tap House Grill
  • Hell's Kitchen (bbq pizza is super good)
  • Cogan's Pizza (AND they have my favorite Ace Perry cider)
  • Ynot Italian 
  • Le Bella
  • Your Pie
  • Mellow Mushroom 
  • Bangkock Garden (a favorite of mine)
  • Kajput Indian Cuisine (monthly vegan buffet!)
  • Kotobuki (so many choices!)
  • Mr. Shawarma (falafal is one of my favorite foods!)
  • Fruitive
  • The Green Cat 
  • Although not on their list... Orapax, Tortilla West, Yard House, Sugar Shack, Pie-o-neer Pizza, Jikonia Cafe, Bodacious Bakehouse, Charlie's Cafe, California Burrito, Cilantro Bangladeshi Bistro, Brixx Pizza, just to name a few! 

Far Away Friday: Raleigh, NC

My long time friend Jessica recently moved to Raleigh, NC. When I say long time, I mean we were best friends at six months old. We went to the same babysitter, preschool, middle, and high school, attended the same summer camps, and spent many, many, mannnny nights at sleepovers together. The ride to Raleigh should have only taken three hours, but my advice is to leave earlier than 5:00 and don't take the Portsmouth tunnel. We knew we wanted to check out the Raleigh Children's Museum, Marbles. Unlike the Richmond Children's Museum, this one is FREE if you're a member of the Virginia Children's Museum, and they let all five of us in.

Marbles is two floors, and huge. Downstairs exhibits include:
  • Toddler's Hollow: Ages 3 and under 
  • Around Town: Firetruck, ambulance, helicopter, bus, and R's favorite huge train tables
  • Splash!: Water play, jellyfish cove, the science sub, and a big pirate ship to climb on, there were even real fish 
  • Tree Tunes: outdoor area with a large sand pit and things to dig with plus musical instruments all around 
  • Seedlings: pretend gardens 
  • Sun Sprouts: also outdoors, tractors, things to climb on, and shady areas
  • Campout room: This was a traveling exhibit 
The stairs to get from the first floor to the second are a large light up piano. 

Upstairs Exhibits: 
  • Art Loft: All kinds of art, so much art, R wanted no art. 
  • Idea Works:  Kids can make cars and race them down a track 
  • Money Palooza: Indoor play area and lots to climb on 
  • Power2Play: Indoor hockey rink, gymnastics, dance, basketball, balance boards 
  • Stemosphere: Huge legos (to make towers and knock them over)
  • Kid Grid: electricity exhibit 

We happened to come on Operation Pumpkin day, where local doctors came to help kids carve their pumpkins. What this meant for us was that Jessica and I carved a pumpkin while R ignored us and went back to the train table.
The museum offers several ongoing weekly classes for toddlers and preschool aged children and has regular events for kids of all ages. (Even mamas apparently as we carved the pumpkins!) They have an Imax theatre. They are open every day from 9-5, even Sunday, and on the first Thursday and Friday of the month stay open until 7. Mondays are group free, which I love. We parked on the street a block away for free.

Special thanks to the kids around us for letting us sit at the table and carve our pumpkin with them, and the staff for not giving us the side eye while we did it. I think it came out pretty good!

This is part one of this series. Check back for parts 2 and 3!

Lakewood Park

The struggle to get out of the house and burn some of the energy continues, and so we took our first visit to an old favorite of mine, Lakewood Park. This park is one that my grandma took me to tons of times as a kid. What I remember most is that is had these two huge bugs that kids would climb up and down and usually fell off. The park was one of those old school types with monkey bars and stand alone slides that everyone broke their arms at. Exactly the type of thing that isn't allowed anymore.

The older parts have mostly been taken out, but the park still has tons of huge old trees which give it lots of shade. The park is well maintained, has parking, basketball courts, picnic shelters and grills, bathrooms, baseball fields, football fields, a small dance studio where they have classes, and a tennis court. As a kid I played soccer on one of the fields for several years, and Neil and I took a ballroom dance class together at the studio. ODU has its rowing center in the back of the park too.

The playground is made up of a few different sections. The first are these American Ninja Warrior looking structures where older kids are challenged with getting from point A to point B.  The next is your typical play structure with bridges and slides which is the best for toddlers. The third is made up of some of the old school climbing structures. There are also toddler and regular swings around the outside.
We found this little guy too, who kept popping up to say hello! 

Fall Adoption Event

I've posted about one of Care A Lot's events before, and last weekend we attended another one. They really have been including kids more in their events, which is great. The main Care A Lot store is located on Diamond Springs Road in Virginia Beach. They have their events across the street in the parking lot of their warehouse. Every event that I've been to has had vendors offering free samples of dog food and dog treats.
Once you arrive you set up your "passport" and spin the prize wheel. Then you travel to each booth to get it punched. Once you're done you put it in the raffle of your choice. This particular event was an adoption event, so lots of local pet adoption agencies were there. Most brought adoptable pets. All had places for you to make donations.
They had costume contests, look alike contests, and other events going on. There is usually a kid zone at their events where kids can do different art projects for a dollar donation. There is also a "Puppy Picasso" station where dogs can participate in the art too! There are kiddie pools set up with balls for dogs too! 

We were even able to catch the end of the ODU game after a nap! They lost, it wasn't pretty, but we had a good time!

Toddler Lunch Time Solution

c/o Mira
Toddler lunches are hard. There are a million things to consider. They have to be able to eat it on their own. They usually can't microwave it. They have to store it until lunch. Some schools (like R's) don't allow nuts. There are more "can't eat's" than "eats" in this world. So when R started school this year I knew I wanted to up his lunch game. I reached out to Mira to partner with high hopes.
I did my research before I ordered, and I picked them because they are BPA free and the perfect toddler lunch size. I ordered the 13 ounce size for R's lunch, but honestly I have used it for mine too. The walls are double vacuum insulated and they have a condensation blocker. They are leak proof and stainless steel.  I also love that they support the Community Water Center which provides clean drinking water to those in need. I love buying things from companies that give back.
So here's the run down. With most thermoses, you preheat them by pouring in boiling water, microwaving whatever you want inside, and then putting them together. But I don't want R's food steaming hot, so I am able to skip the first step. I simply microwave whatever food I plan on sending, put it in the thermos in the morning, and pack it in his lunch. Easy. I've checked with his teacher, who says that it's hot and ready for him when he has lunch. The claim on them is that they keep items cold for 10 hours and hot for 5 hours, but the reviews online say that the food stays hot/cold even longer. Food doesn't usually last that long in our house- so we haven't tried that test out yet!
My ONLY thing I don't love about it is that you can't put it in the dishwasher. Which, is because it's a quality stainless steel product and I get it. It's worth the trade off, and it's pretty easy to clean.

Here's some awesome toddler things to put in it:


  • pastas (R's mac and cheese for tomorrow is cooking while I write this!) 
  • quesadilla slices 
  • pizza slices (just cut it smaller and lay it sideways) 
  • quiche 
  • scrambled eggs
  • baked/refried beans 
  • chili 
  • oatmeal 
  • nuggets
  • fried rice
  • pizza rolls
  • meatballs (in our case veggie ones- they work too!) 
  • asian noodles- any kind 
  • enchiladas, burritos, soft tacos 

Pretty much anything cold works too, but I love these in there. 
  • milk, and then pack cereal 
  • smoothies 
Order it here, it comes in a few different colors: 

And R's lunchbox, which he LOVES can be found here. It looks like they are out of the dump truck now, but check out the taco truck! I love it.

She Works Hard for the Mommy v2

Hi Mama's! My name is Tina Bein, and I am a DONA Certified Postpartum Doula. A lot of people may have heard of what a Birth Doula is, but many don't know what a Postpartum Doula is. And my basic simple answer is-I come to a mom after the baby is born to help her recover, establish breastfeeding, or simply balance motherhood. But the down and dirty part of my job is to watch over mom and even dads for Postpartum Mood Disorders. It can range from anxiety, OCD and the biggest one...depression. 
I started my journey about 12yrs ago, long before I discovered that a Postpartum Doula was a job with my sister. She was a single mom of twins. Everyone thought she just had the baby blues and shrugged her moods off, but It was more obvious  to me that it was more than the normal blues. I knew something else was happening because there were signs that she was struggling, even though she was a great mother. The subject of depression in mothers wasn't openly talked about in her circle of people, so she didn't have support. I urged her to talk to someone because I knew something was wrong. Part of the reason she struggled was because after two weeks, she was on her own. There wasn't support in place for her. 

Ten years ago after having my own baby I felt the weight of this lack of support too. After a week people stopped calling, bringing food, and helping us out.  I never struggled with the depression side, but I did have OCD. Everything needed to be cleaned and perfect. When I noticed there is literally almost no support for new moms, I started to reach out to them. I offered help, brought meals, offered to hold baby while people sat to eat a meal as a couple or family with older siblings. I'd do anything the mom needed to feel that 10-20 minutes of normalcy. When my friend had her baby almost three years ago, my husband told me that I should make this a job. It was something I enjoyed, I felt useful and was helping people. That moment I started to research Postpartum Doula's and everything fell into place. I was so excited. Things took off from that one single moment.
With things taking off like they did the balance of family scheduling and homeschooling became a bit of a challenge, but we figured it out, step by step. First we found reliable child care and someone who could teach them or over see their independent work. I feel like I was able to overcome so many unusual obsticles because of my supportive husband and the amazing Birth Professionals I surrounded myself with. Life gets crazy, and sometimes we take our clients emotions home with us. What I like to do is blast music for my drive home and use "Stress Relief" or "Grounding" essential oils. This helps me come home calm and ready to see my family. Being a Postpartum Doula is the most amazing field I have been in. And I love it, it just radiates out of me when I meet moms! If you'd like more info, see my website here, like my facebook page, or email me at tinathedoula@gmail.com.

If you'd like to be featured on "She Works Hard for the Mommy" please send me an email! 

Explore Virginia State Parks One Step At A Time

Another under-used feature of Norfolk Public Libraries:  If you are interested in the outdoors, you can use your library card to check out a back pack with lots of great stuff for taking your little ones hiking. First, there's a pass that will get you in FREE to all the state parks in Virginia. Then, there are suggested activities with some cool tools that kids will love: a bug catcher, a butterfly net, and a magnifying glass.
There are lots of help included for the parents too. There's a sheet that tells you where to find the parks online and how you and your family can participate in a state-wide Trail quest. You get a pin for each one you visit.  There's a sheet on how to get the most out of your visit, along with activities and suggestions on things to do while there. There's a bunch of guides about bugs, slugs, birds, and mammals, as well as trees and wildflowers. (Although I often try to forget that there are bugs there...) 

Not all libraries have these so check with your favorite one to see if they have them. You can check these out for two weeks so there's plenty of time to go on a trip across the state! If you live in another Tidewater city, call your library and see if they have this! Happy hiking!