Thursday, December 11, 2014

Trying Dairy Again

Back in May, Miss A was very sick, which caused her to become lactose intolerant. After puking constantly for almost a month, her doctor explained that her body was stripped of all the bacteria and other things it needed to digest dairy, specifically lactose.

We've been extremely careful these past six months, giving her Lactaid and other substitutes we've found. We also found Lactaid pills that she can take when we wanted to spoil her with pizza or something else cheesy. We tried hard not to do this too often, as I really don't like giving her medicine when we can avoid it... but the poor kid loves pizza, and how can I say no to her big beautiful eyes?

She's been doing great with this routine. She knows "Chocolate makes me sick," and will tell everyone, all the time. She understands really well when we tell her she can't have something because it will make her sick, and usually doesn't throw too much of a fuss.

Last week, I was feeling seven kinds of sick. A head cold seriously got the best of me, and I fell asleep right after making dinner. I usually cook with Go Veggie cheese, but I didn't have any mozzarella on hand so I used regular cheese. I had planned to give Miss A a Lactaid pill, but was asleep when Jimmy fixed her plate. He'd assumed that I cooked with the Go Veggie like I usually do, and didn't give her medicine. She was fine!

We're still unsure of how much she ate, and I've read that heavily processed, and heavily cooked dairy is easier to process than just plain milk, which was good for this case. Either way, she ate it and didn't seem to have any repercussions. A few days later, we decided to test the waters again with some alfredo made with normal milk instead of Lactaid. She seemed to do just fine again. I know she didn't eat quite as much of this as she normally does, but again it was probably a good thing. Last night, we test the waters even farther: Little Caesar's pretzel pizza, with cheese sauce and cheese. If anything was going to do it over for her, this was it. She was a little gassy last night, but didn't seem to feel bad and didn't have any issues through the night.

I am going to take it easy with her over the weekend to make sure her system is keeping up. Next week she's got an appointment to discuss the "proper" way to reintroduce lactose after this long. I'm really excited that we might be closing this chapter. I'll probably still use veggie cheese when cooking just because a few extra veggies never hurt anyone, but it is so nice to know that I'm not going to hospitalize my child if she gets hold of a chocolate chip cookie.

God Bless ♥ V

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Our Baby through Toddler Sleeping Arrangements

I'm a firm believer that sleep is one of the most important things in the world. For real, it's more important than a lot of things in my life, definitely high on the list. That being said, since Miss A was a newborn, I've always made her quality of sleep a high priority. She's now creeping up on the 2 1/2 year old mark, and her sleep habits are still pretty fantastic.

I know that what has worked with us does not work with everyone, but it has worked great for our family. Here's a timeline of Miss A's sleeping arrangements from birth to now:

Birth-1 Week | We co-slept with Miss A propped up on a pillow between us for the first few nights at home, as well as when we were in the hospital. She was a pretty big baby (over 8 pounds) so she took up a decent amount of a normal sized pillow. After her sliding into us off the pillow a few times, we decided to put her in her bassinet right next to the bed.

For naps, I was sleeping every chance I could get so we would either sleep on the couch together or in the bed together. I would put her in her bassinet or on my husband's side of the bed if it was just the two of us.

1 Week- 3 Weeks| She stayed in her bassinet in our room for a few weeks. We would alternate whose lamp stayed on for a few hours during the night (Note to self, invest in a good night light for the next baby, this was a pain in the butt) so we could keep eyes on her. As I said before, she was a big and long baby, so she quickly outgrew the Moses basket we had. Around 3 weeks or so, we started putting her in her crib.

She would nap in her swing in the living room during the day, or in my arms on the couch.

3 Weeks- 6 Months | After the first few nights, this girl was a champ sleeping in her crib. I was a nervous wreck having her in her own room, but two monitors on each side of our bed, full volume, and the vibrating alert helped ease our fears. She would sleep longer and longer each week. Around three months she started waking only once at night, and around four months she was sleeping through the night (or at least until 5AM) consistently. By six months she was really solid with sleeping through the night until early in the morning.

She would nap either in her swing or in my lap for quite a while. The older she got, the less she liked to be held. She would sometimes fall asleep on her play mat on the floor too.

6 Months - 12 Months | Miss A was a sleeping queen. This child of mine would sleep for a solid 12 hours every night, 8:00-8:00 almost constantly. I always made our night time routine consistent. Oatmeal/food around 7:30, then a bath, then bottle and bed at 8:00. Very rarely would we break from this routine, and I definitely noticed when we did. She would put herself to sleep on her own. She'd let me rock her most nights if I wanted to, but didn't need it if I had school work or something else with a looming deadline.

For naps, she would nap 2-3 times per day, again putting herself to sleep each time. She started napping exclusively in her crib just after six months because her weight exceeded the swing (Yay! for chunky babies). I was able to put her in her room awake, and she'd fall asleep within minutes.

Around six months she also started standing in her crib. I wasn't worried about her actually climbing out, but I didn't want to take any chances so I lowered it to the lowest setting which allowed us to keep her in her crib until almost 18 months.

12 Months - 17 Months | Miss A cut down to 1 nap shortly after 12 months, but it was a long nap. On a normal day, she'd wake up around 8:00AM, then nap around 10:00 or so until 1:30 or 2:00. She'd stay up until 8:00PM as always, and repeat the next day. She continued to put herself to sleep regularly and sleep through the night.

At 16 months she had a really severe diaper rash that wouldn't give, causing her to wake several times in the night in pain. We switched to cloth diapers, and after working out some night time kinks, she was back to sleeping 12 hours again.

We also introduced more blankets and pillows shortly after 12 months. She slept with a pillow pet instead of a normal pillow for quite a while, close to a year actually, but we finally hid it and gave her a regular pillow shortly before her second birthday.

17 Months - 2 1/2 Years | At 17 months, Miss A became a climber. I was really hoping to be able to wait until she was 18 months to convert her crib to a toddler bed, but it just wasn't going to happen. I figured that switching her a few weeks early would be better than letting her fall from the top of her crib.

We have a convertible crib that goes from crib to toddler bed, to day bed, to full size bed. So converting it was a relatively easy process.
The initial few days were pretty rough, especially since she could  open doors. We ended up using one of the door handle guards inside her room so she couldn't let herself out in the night. Once we did that, the adjustment went really quickly. She would wake up in the middle of the night on occasion, but for the most part, it was smooth sailing.

We used the rail for about 7 months to let her get used to having an open side, and prevent her from rolling out. After she started hanging from the rail, and climbing and jumping off of it, we took it off and piled a stuffed animal or five next to her bed for cushion if she rolled off in the night.

She now sleeps just fine without the rail or stuffed animals. She sleeps about 11 hours per night, along with a 2-3 hour nap in the middle of the day. Just recently, she's started telling us that she's "too big" for her bed and that she needs "a bed like Mommy's" or "Nana's" (the guest room has a queen size bed as well). While we don't plan on getting her a queen size bed, we are planning on upgrading her after Christmas. She won't be 2 1/2 until the end of January, but I feel confident that she will do fine in a twin bed. We're in the process of finding one that doesn't sit too high off the ground so she can get up and down easily. She does wake sometimes in the night to go to the bathroom on her own, and we don't want her falling or not being able to get back up.

I'll be sure to keep all of you updated with how that process goes! I'm sure that she will adjust just as quickly as she did to her toddler bed. If you have any other questions about our sleep habits and routines, please feel free to ask! We have been so blessed with a great sleeper, I can only hope that our future children will be the same.

God Bless ♥ V

Monday, December 01, 2014

Emotions about Moving

Moving is, to say the least, stressful. Before our move, I was just anxious and ready to get it over with. As we're coming up on the month marker (Wednesday!) of being in our new house, I can't help but feel like we aren't done yet. I'm still completely exhausted, both physically and mentally. Between all of the moving chaos and the holidays, I'm just so tired.

I hate what this move has done to my communication with my friends and family. I used to talk to my closest friends every single day, I'd talk to my mom every day, and my mother in law almost every day. Now, it just doesn't happen. Before I know it, I've gone days, even a week or more, without talking to the most important people in my life, and I hate it.

I know that this is a busy time of year as it is, but I really truly hate it. This is the time of year when I hold family and friends closest. Not being able to talk to them, whether it be lack of time, lack of energy, or a combination of the two, has really been weighing on my heart heavily these last few weeks.

Another big downer for me is that I've not worked in over a month. I'm going crazy. This need for productivity is driving me insane. I need a photo shoot, a mentoring session, something. I'm praying that 2105 will bring big things for my business, because these last few months of 2014 are proving torturous.

Lastly, I'm dying for some sense of normalcy. Our weeks are still full of the random moving errands, introduction appointments, and trying to find our way around town. We're still getting those last bills from the old house, on top of the new ones for this house. There are still boxes in more places than I'd like to admit.

I'm just so ready to put this whole move behind us and get back to a regular schedule. Miss A has been such a little trooper through it all. I'm so thankful for such a resilient child. Sickness has struck me pretty good today, so Frozen and popsicles on the couch it is.

Here's to hoping that the next few weeks allow for some relaxation before the craziness of holiday travel begins!

God Bless ♥ V

Friday, November 21, 2014

Moving, Getting Settled, and the Holidays

I'm... blogging? What is this foreign screen on my computer? Hello everyone! I'm back from a crazy, crazy couple of months. Where to begin?

Dity move! Two words: never. again. Oh my goodness, we had a very interesting experience. First, we found out just a few days before we were set to leave, that our finance wasn't coming through in time. So, we ended up pulling a personal loan, which is something we didn't really want to do. That part worked out alright, but then... Our moving truck got lost. The Penske office closed at 2:00 the day we were supposed to pick it up. When we showed up, our truck was missing in action. They had no idea what happened to it. So we didn't end up with a truck til after 5:00, killing all of our productivity for packing that day. Then, we were fully convinced our stuff wasn't going to fit in the truck. My mom, Adalin, and I left a few hours before hubs, my dad, and brother did. When we left, the truck was packed to the brim, and there was still quite a lot left out. Somehow, the did manage to fit pretty much everything inside.

Our last family picture in front of our first family home ♥

The boys didn't get to leave until after noon, which set them for arriving to the new house quite a bit later than we would have liked. They got here with enough time to unpack our beds and the other important stuff we needed for the night, but then we were done. The following day, we unpacked the truck with a whopping hour to spare, and arrived at the rental return with just minutes left.

We're finally starting to get settled into our new home, and I must say, I'm completely in love. There's more space, I have an office, we have beautiful hard floors in the common areas, a huge master bathroom, a functional kitchen, Adalin has a playroom, and a backyard that makes me want to cry big ole tears of joy.

We're getting pictures on the walls, boxes thrown out, and just everything is coming together more and more. Life is feeling really good. The stresses of moving are finally becoming a memory rather than a crazy reality of the present. There are still a few loose ends (getting our deposit back, mailing some tech equipment back, etc), but all in all, the Fort Stewart chapter of our lives has really come to a close. 

I'm definitely missing the friends we made there, as are Jimmy and Miss A. But, I'm confident that Fort Benning will bring great new things to our lives. I'm excited to see what these next few years bring for us. 

Well, now I'm off. Hopefully it won't be too long before I blog again. I'm hoping to post a video walk through of the house sometime soon, but there are still a few too many boxes left for that ;) 

God Bless ♥ Victoria

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Our Potty Training Essentials

Summer Infant Step by Step Potty : We loved this potty for a few reasons. We actually first bought it when she was about 18 months, and just let her get comfortable with the idea of using the potty for quite a while. We had some issues when she was younger with her playing with it rather than using it (opening and closing the lid and storage area, taking the seat off, etc),so we ended up taking the lid off. Once we started actively perusing potty training, this was the gateway. We left this in the living room, so it was always accessible. We put it at the foot of her bed at night to encourage her to go when she woke up, which totally worked. We still take this places with us and leave it in the back of the car if a public restroom won't be easily accessible.

Dreambaby Soft Touch Potty Seat : I love this because it actually fits on our toilet. The seat that came with her little portable potty was very loose, didn't support her, and made me uneasy. It could fall in the toilet, or pinch her legs if she tried to move. This one is perfect. It doesn't move on the seat, supports her back, and encourages "proper" sitting since there are actual spaces for her legs to go. She's far more comfortable with this than with anything else we've tried.
Bumbo Step Stool : I love it because it's the perfect size, light weight, and doesn't slide on the bathroom floor. She can lean on it, stand on the edge, jump up and down, and I don't get (too) nervous. She can move it from in front of the potty to the sink by herself too. It's also easy to clean. The top has a nonslip finish that's great. She feels like such a grown up since she can do it all on her own now.

Ultimate Sticker Book : Miss A loves puppies, so puppy stickers were a sure-fire reward for her. I didn't want to use candy or food to reward her, but this worked perfectly. Originally, we tried a chart... but that didn't work as well as just letting her pick a sticker. When she peed, she got one sticker. When she pooped, she got two (and a popsicle if she was super awesome that day). She only needed rewards for the first week or so, but I still offer them when we're at home. I still always make a huge deal about her success. Her new favorite phrase? "I did it! I did it!" I adore seeing her so proud of herself.

Character Underwear : We used Sofia the First, Hello Kitty (even though she only knows that it's a kitty), and Disney Princesses, Ariel in particular to encourage her to stay dry. Whenever we put undies on her, we'd say "Don't pee on ____" or "_____doesn't like to get wet! Remember to use your potty." It worked pretty well. The only thing I didn't like about this is that Miss A would get extremely upset when they did get wet. Accidents happened a lot the first few days, but I tried to keep calm and remind her that it's okay and ____ just needs a bath now.  Overall, it worked great.

I hope this guide helps you as much as these products helped us!

Potty Training Success (She's done!)

I'm excited to say that Miss A has "officially" been potty trained for over a week now. In my last post, I'd mentioned that I didn't want to consider it official until she could successfully use public toilets without a problem. Just three days after I posted that, we attempted a trip to Savannah for the first time since she stopped regularly having accidents. Total success. I was completely shocked!

We went to the mall first, and I brought her little potty with us. Pretty much whenever we're going to be in the car for more than an hour, I bring it with us. If she needs to go when she gets out of the car, it's easier to open up the trunk than to run across the parking lot and try to find a bathroom before it's too late. She actually didn't need to go when we got to the mall, so we went in. After I ran a quick errand in the mall, she saw the carousel and desperately wanted to ride the horses. (Ding ding! Bribery!) So I told her if she went potty, she could ride one. Winner! We went into the public restroom, I plopped her up on the potty, and she went like it was no big deal. We let her ride the carousel (after running another errand too) and continued to praise her for her awesomeness.

After that, we went to dinner and I was a nervous wreck. My child, my sweet sweet child, can drink like it's nobody's business. She kept chugging juice and water, so as soon as we finished eating, I took her into the restaurant's bathroom. Success again. I offered her potty once more before we went home, though she didn't need it. When we got home, she came in the house and went again, with no accidents.

Up until that point, she hadn't been wearing anything on her bottom very often. We'd put her in dresses and leave her bum naked so the potty was easily accessible without restriction. After that day, we've started keeping undies on her as much as possible (she still hates clothes). She can wear shorts or pants, and not have accidents.

We've had no accidents in well over a week now. I don't stress too much about giving her tons of fluids, except after around 7:00 at night. We try to cut her off then, so she will sleep well. We always put her on the potty before bath, and again before bed just to double check.

She's extremely independent with it now. We got her a Bumbo Step Stool for the bathroom so she can get on the big potty by herself, and even wash her hands by herself. Though it's made my days quite a bit more interesting, I'm glad that she goes on her own. I'm so proud of how much she's learned in these past few weeks.

So, out potty training journey took almost exactly two weeks. We started August 18th and she used her first public potty on the 30th, a month after her second birthday. She continues to amaze me with her awareness and independence. I'm such a proud mama.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Potty Training Success (Part Two)

Miss A has been doing so fantastic with potty training. We're officially over a week in now, and I am just so amazing by how quickly she has taken to it. We've been 72 hours with no accidents now; not while she's sleeping, not when she first wakes up, not while we're out and about.

Saturday morning, we left the house before she did her morning "dirty." She's typically pretty predictable with that, an hour or two after she gets up. But Saturday, nope. We had a meet-up at 10:30, so I had to leave the house by 10: before she went. I already knew that we'd have a problem, but I bought the potty along with us to try anyway. Once we got to the park, I set up her potty next to my car. Nothing. She was far too excited to go play, she wasn't going to sit still. Sure enough, about half an hour after we got there... "dirty." I didn't get mad, since I knew it was going to happen, but I was still a bit sad.

We went to the pool in the afternoon, and she did great there too. Granted, I'm almost certain she probably peed in the pool... but even fully potty trained kids to that, so I wouldn't be surprised. We spent the rest of that day at home, and had no problems at all. We're still sticking with the naked method, no undies unless we're out of the house or if she's sleeping. That night, she surprised me. Up until this point, we'd still been having nightly wake-ups, and wet beds after nap time. But something must have clicked for her on night 5 of potty training, and she waited. She woke up dry. I always put her potty in her room at night, so she has the option to use it. She did! All by herself, she took off her undies, peed, put them back on, and went back to sleep.

Sunday, she woke up dry again.  We waited until she did her morning deed before we went anywhere. Immediately after she was finished, we went to the commissary and were gone for a whopping two hours. And guess what? No accidents. Undies on, sitting (half way) still, for two hours, and she had no accidents. She even fell asleep on the way home, which is usually a bad thing, since the first thing she does when she wakes up is pee... nope! Golden. I was one shocked mama.

The remainder of Sunday, we hung out at home. We did make a quick trip to the pool again, and had no problems again. She was a pinch grouchy, so we left earlier than I would have liked... but any time away from the potty has to be good.

Monday (another dry morning), we went to the store for two or so hours again (after her morning deed), and had no problems. We even managed to find The Little Mermaid underwear, her latest obsession. We came home, and she napped for a whopping three and a half hours. I'd forgotten to put her potty in her room (of course, the day she naps the longest), and was fully prepared for a mess. Nothing! Well, nothing potty related. She did feel the need to empty her laundry basket on her floor, and use it as a tent. But that's better than having an accident in my book ;)

We spent quite a bit of time outside in the evening too. All good. Last night, she did great again. She took her undies off by herself again and used her potty before I woke up this morning. And now, as I was writing this, she did her first deed on the "big girl potty." We'd been using the Summer Infant Step by Step Potty, which she wasn't a huge fan of in the very beginning. The first few times we tried, she was more interested in playing with the potty than actually using it. This time, it's been so different. She much preferred this to using the big girl potty. I'm trying to slowly open her up to more potties, so while we're out, we don't have to bring her potty with her. So this morning, I didn't keep her potty readily accessible, which I thought for sure would cause problems. Nope! As I was writing this, she told me potty, so I offered to use the "big big girl potty," and she obliged. (What the what?!) We use the Dreambaby Soft Touch Potty Seat on the full sized toilet since it supports her much better than the removable seat that came with her Summer Infant potty. I can see a huge difference with how comfortable she is up there with this seat. It even has a little raise that comes between her legs to encourage proper sitting, rather than having her legs flail all over. With no problems at all, she did her morning deed in the big potty. I figure that I'll give her a few days before I try to really push for a public toilet. I may even have her use the toilet in our master bath, without the Dreambaby seat, having me hold her up (since that's how it will be in public until she gets a little bigger).

Regardless, I am so proud of her accomplishments. Less than a month after she turned two, and she's doing fantastic. Until she's willing to use any potty that she comes to, I don't want to consider her "fully" potty trained, but she is well on her way. I'm so proud of this kid.

God Bless ♥ V

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Potty Training so Far

The last time that we tried potty training Miss A, we made it about 12 hours before she started absolutely hating it. The first trip or two, she'd go like it was no big deal. But after that, screams, cries, and full on tantrums. She'd hold her pee for hours, to the point of physical pain... so I'd put a diaper back on her, she'd pee, and the world would go round and round.

Since we did quite a bit of traveling in June and July, I decided to wait a while before trying again. If she asked, I'd sit her on the potty, but I never asked her to. I thought a break might do both of us some good. During our break, I read up a lot on different techniques, tips, and ways to encourage potty training.

The first thing I found super helpful was letting her watch me use the bathroom. She's become quite the little parrot with her mimicry. So what mommy does, she does. She was far more comfortable with the idea of the potty since mommy used one several times a day.

The next thing I read about, but hadn't really tried yet was the naked method. In her brain, she has to have a diaper on to pee/poo. It has to go somewhere, right? So take away that option, and growth will kick in. While we were in MI this month, she took an unplanned dip in my parents' pond. Since we weren't planning on swimming, I let her jump in naked rather than soak her clothes and diaper. Well, ten minutes later, she comes running out of the water, "Mommy! Diaper, peee! Gotta potty!" She ran over, grabbed her diaper off the beach, held it against her so she could pee, then went about her business. (hello flashing sign! she's read to potty train!) So I assumed that this method would probably work well with her.

Another thing that I found somewhat psychology related, was kind of trickery. I didn't really want to resort to lying to her, but if it works... it works. "Oh no, we left all the diapers at grandma's house. I am so sorry Sweet Pea, but you have to use the potty now. All the diapers are gone." She totally bought it.

The last thing I found helpful was keeping her options open. She wants to use the tot-pot? Go for it. She wants to use the seat on the big girl potty? Okay! She wants mommy to hold her on the big girl potty without her seat? Sure, why not. Whatever makes her happy, sitting on the toilet, that's what we'll do.

So now, we're three days in, and she's doing great. I've come to the conclusion that she is associating underwear with cloth diapers, because the only accidents we've had in the last 48 hours is while she's wearing them. If she's naked, I don't even have to ask her about the potty. She just goes and does her thing. Both pee and poo have been no issue this go around. Even though we have a naked toddler running around our house, and going in public with her right now is practically impossible, I am so proud of how well she's doing. We went to Savannah this morning, and she had a few accidents (all while in undies). But as soon as we got home, she ran inside, squatted and took a poo on the potty. Five minutes later, she peed. I can barely believe how quickly she's catching on to this. I'm hoping that a few more days of nakedness and habit forming will start to ease the association with undies and cloth. My fingers are crossed that she'll be "completely" trained before my husband gets home. She still pees in her bed as soon as she wakes up in the morning, but actually wakes up dry. I'm going to try two different things with her in the next few days: sleeping naked with the potty next to her bed, and waking her up before I go to bed (two or so hours after she goes to sleep) to see if she'll go then. I'm hoping one or the other will work for her until the habit is solid.

No matter what, I really believe that this time is a go for her and I'm so proud and excited. I can't believe my sweet girl is growing up this quickly.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Lactose Free

Back in May, Miss A became very sick. We ended up in the hospital for about a week, but the sickness lasted very close to a month. Though we never found the cause of the sickness, we do know one thing... an entire month of diarrhea and vomiting  wreaks havoc on your digestive system. It caused her to become highly lactose intolerant. Even with tiny tiny amounts of normal dairy, we're talking like three M&M's, she gets sick. So we've cut out all of it from her diet.

It's been hard, it really has. The girl loves cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and pretty much everything that she can't have. So when we eat things that she can't have (especially while dining out), I feel awful telling her she can't have it. We've had to find substitutions for lots of things, and I'm actually really surprised how much is out there. Here are some of the staples in her new diet:

Lactaid Whole Milk- Since she can't have regular milk, and is still under two, we've found this for her. We originally had her on soy milk, but I've been hearing lots of mixed things about whether or not soy is good or bad... we opted for Lactaid.

She really likes it, and is actually drinking more milk now than she was before she got sick. The only thing I don't like about it is that it only comes in half gallons from what we've found. So I usually have two in my fridge at once to avoid extra trips to the store.

Lactose Free Yoplait- We can only find one flavor at our local stores: vanilla. Luckily, she loves it. Shoot, I actually like it better than the normal vanilla Yoplait. I never knew this existed, but I'm so glad that we stumbled upon it. We use this and the Lactaid to make special smoothies that we can share with Miss A to keep her included. Even better? It's the same price as normal yoplait.

This is another yogurt we've found that she loves. In Georgia, we have only found blueberry, which is still her favorite fruit, so it works. We found strawberry and cherry in Michigan too.

I am glad that we can give her some variety, even with her limited diet. I don't buy this kind quite as often, because it is a bit pricier (over $1.00 per cup, compared to $0.60 for the Yoplait), but what's an extra few cents for some variety?
SO Delicious Soy Icecream- This stuff was pretty pricey, but Adalin does love it. I think it was about $6.00 for the tub at Kroger, which was far more than I was expecting. If I didn't love her so much, she would go without. ;) It really does taste good though. The texture is a lot more solid than other ice cream, but she can eat it just fine. The picture isn't exactly the one that we have, but this is the brand that we have. I do keep normal ice cream in the house for my husband and I so this is just hers.

Breyers Lactose Free Ice Cream- I am so proud of Breyers. This stuff is the same price as their normal ice cream, and it tastes great. I was really surprised to find it, especially at multiple stores. I've seen it at the commissary, Walmart, Meijer, and a locally owned market in Michigan.

They have vanilla chocolate, but we've only had vanilla. Since this one is not expensive ($2.49 today at the commissary, plus a $0.50 coupon too!), I don't feel so bad for eating it too. We will probably get her the chocolate next to see how she likes that.

There are a few other brands of ice cream that offer lactose free options, including Lactaid, but we haven't tried them yet. Lactaid offers quite a few different flavors, but I can only find them at one store and they're a bit more expensive than the Breyers.

Go Veggie Cheese- Miss A loves this stuff. I was kind of skeptical at first, but I tried it too, and it's great. Their website has coupons (can you tell that I'm back on that kick?) too, so it makes it even more affordable.

We've tried the American and Cheddar, and both are pretty yummy. My husband prefers normal cheese, but I don't mind this at all.

They also have shredded cheese, both just lactose free and completely dairy free. Though Adalin doesn't have a milk allergy, it's good to know that there are options out there in case it ever does develop.

Go Veggie Cream Cheese- This was a new find today. We don't have cream cheese that often, but I do make fruit pizzas quite a bit during the summer. The "sauce" for it calls for cream cheese, and Adalin loves it. I haven't made any yet this summer since I knew it'd make her sick, but this alternative is going to be perfect. I'm making one tomorrow.

Daiya Lactose Free Cheese- This was the first non-lactose cheese that we tried. It tastes really good, but it is kind of expensive. I went to a special "natural foods" store in town and found it for $5.79 for a relatively small bag. I've made it last quite a while, which makes me happy... but I plan on trying to stay with Go Veggie if we can.

Daiya does offer more flavors than Go Veggie does, from what I've found, so it is a good alternative if you can't find the flavor you want with Go Veggie.

I've cooked with this more than the Go Veggie, and it really does melt well. It doesn't get as "saucy" as normal cheese, but it works great for chicken cordon bleu, or other melts. I attempted to melt some as a sauce for Miss A's broccoli, but that failed. It just turned into a jiggly blob.

I've found quite a few recipes using coconut milk, but haven't tried them yet. I have been cooking with the Lactaid and it seems to work just fine. Butter doesn't appear to affect Miss A yet, or at least in moderation. As much of a pain as this transition has been, I really am pleased with how many options we've found.

Do you have a lactose intolerant toddler? What solutions have you found? I'd love to know about more awesome products on the market!

God Bless ♥ Victoria

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lil' Mama

It's about time I blogged again. I know a few of my readers will be especially excited. We have a month and two weeks until Miss A is two. I'm in complete disbelief. It honestly amazes me how quickly this year has flown by.

So, about the title. I've never really cared for the nickname "lil mama" for babies/toddlers, but lately... that's exactly what Miss A is. I'm so tickled by her obsession with her baby dolls. She got one for her birthday last year that gives kisses when you wave in front of it. She loves it, and always takes the hat on and off (photo from a few months ago).

Since her obsession with this baby has grown more and more lately, we decided to get her another baby to take on our trip to MI this weekend. I wanted to get her something without batteries (or sound) for the trip, since she knows how to turn this one on and off. Here's her reaction to getting a new baby: 

I'd say we have a winner. She's completely in love with this baby. We left Target around 3:00 yesterday, and she didn't put Baby down until she went to bed at 8:30. This baby has a bottle to feed, so Adalin makes sure she gets "milk" ever hour or two. She rocks Baby to sleep, burps her, and dances with her. It's just about the cutest thing ever.

I'm excited to be flying together as a family for the first time this weekend. Though Miss A and I will be flying back solo, the trip to Michigan will be one for the books. It's going to be so much different having someone else (who I've known for more than 2 minutes) to help with Miss A on the flight, and to help carry our things from gate to gate. I have no doubts that this travel experience will be one for the books. I plan on taking (and using) my camera throughout our flights. I'm so excited to have the Mister with us! 

Here's to hoping that I'll actually update again before week's end, or at least month's end ;)

God Bless ♥ V

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blogger Fail

I'm the world's worst blogger, I swear. April, where have you gone?

Okay! So, here's a quick recap of the month. We had an absolutely amazing visit with my in-laws. Miss A had so much fun with them. She loves her nana and uncle Wy so much, it kills me that they're so far away.

Hubs has been gone since shortly before my in-laws arrived, so Miss A has been having some rough days. I try really really hard not to complain about field time, since it's part of this life and I've known it's been coming... but dang is it hard to bite my tongue sometimes. It's been rough. Field time is 10x worse with a little one at home who constantly asks for daddy. At least 50 times every day, I get asked where daddy is. It's tough. 

We're finally closing in on the end of field time (thank God!), just in time for me to pack up to leave for Washington and Colorado. I can't believe we have less than two weeks until my trip. I'm so excited to see friends I haven't seen in months. This trip should be an amazing life experience.

Other than that, life is pretty normal. Miss A and I have been spending lots of mommy-daughter time together. I love spending quality time with her. 

Well, that's all! I'm off to finish up school work for the week. Only one week of classes, and finals left until I have a two week break before summer semester!

God Bless ♥ V

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Days the Army Sucks.

Today is one of those days that I really do wonder what life would be like if my husband wasn't in the Army. Hubs is out at Gunnery for the next couple weeks. Even though he's been gone for less than three days, Miss A is missing her daddy worse than ever before. It's honestly killing me.

She got to talk to him for a few brief minutes today, but the call quality was terrible. Other than that, she hasn't talked to him, hasn't skyped him, and hasn't seen him. Through all of that, she also hasn't stopped asking about him. All day long, I hear "Daddy? Where's daddy?" or "I want my daddy," or "No mom. Daddy."

Along with missing daddy, she's also extremely extremely attached to mom. Yesterday, I had full intentions of leaving Miss A at daycare for the first time since the beginning of February. We went in the morning to get her familiarized again. Well, that failed. As soon as we walked into her classroom she had a full meltdown. We're talking complete panic: huge sobs, panicked breathing, and shaking uncontrollably. It was horrible. We ended up staying about an hour and a half to get her comfortable again, but I didn't take her in to stay that afternoon. Once we got home, she didn't leave my side until she went to bed.

Today is even worse. As I type this, she's sitting on my lap, squirming ridiculously... but if I try to put her down, she panics. I hate that she's afraid to be away from me. I want her to be confident enough to venture.

It's days like today that I really realize that the life we live isn't normal. It's not "normal" to have your husband gone for weeks and weeks at a time. It's not "normal" to have to ask your husband to repeat himself seventeen times because you can't hear him over the gunfire in the background. It's not "normal" to see tanks rolling next to the road, and not look twice. It's not "normal" to be unable to call your husband whenever you need to. It's just odd.

Almost all of the time, I really don't mind this lifestyle. It's all my husband and I have known together. I am used to him being gone, to traveling alone, and to essentially raising our daughter by myself. That's not something foreign to me. He does as much as he can, when he can, but he is gone a lot. Adalin is not used to that. She wants her daddy to give her a bath like he does every night. She wants him to tuck her into bed and give her kisses. She wants him to tickle her and read her books. She can't understand why he's not here to do that right now, and that absolutely kills me.

At the end of the day, we make due with what we can. He calls as much as he is able to, and I distract her to the best of my ability. It's still hard, but it's doable. I think that once she gets older, and understands what "Daddy's working this week" means, it might be a bit easier. I know that the questions will still come, but at least the answers will make a little more sense.

God Bless ♥ V

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


I guess I feel like writing today. I'm not sure if it's coming off of my steroids from severe seasonal allergies, my husband leaving for the field tomorrow, or a combination of the two, but I'm about eighty kinds of emotional today.

I woke up this morning feeling all mushy. I just want to cuddle my sweet girl and my husband all day long. Miss A won't have that much snuggling, and hubs has to work, so I sit here on the couch snuggling with a cozy blanket and taking the time to ponder my thoughts.

Miss A was being a bit of a stinker this morning, so I turned off Curious George and threw on Pandora (this is a bigger deal than you'd think to a toddler). After a minor mental break down, Miss A started jamming out to the music. This was exactly what I needed today. Until...

A few songs in, Tim McGraw's My Little Girl came on. Shortly after the song started, Adalin picked up her purse, mirror, and toy phone. She grabbed her sweatshirt and came over for a kiss. She says, "Bye, mommy," and gives me a squeeze, then proceeds to walk over to the door like she's heading out for the day or something. All while this song is playing, I sit here in amazement at how big my little girl has gotten. Holy waterworks. To make things even better, as I sat here sobbing on the couch, she comes back over to me and says, "okay mommy." She just sat down next to me and rubbed my back like I do hers when she's upset. Oh man. It's been a morning.

Now, it's not even 10:00, and I'm just a blubbering mess. My kid is definitely not a baby anymore. When did this happen? She turned a whopping twenty months yesterday. I stopped counting at months at eighteen unless someone asks specifically. I've been saying she's one and a half for two months now, and it's weird to me. She's growing so quickly, it depresses me.

Time needs to slow down so I have time to take all this in. I only blogged once last months since I've been so on the go. I just want to sit back and relax for like a month. This month won't permit that though. Next week, while the hubs is gone, his family will be here visiting. I know that we're going to have a blast, even though he won't be with us. The following week, I don't have much going on but I know that things will pop up. Then I'll begin prepping for my trip to Washington and Colorado in May. I still have a lot to do for that, so I'm really hoping that this month will permit me to get everything done.

I'm also closing in on the end of the semester for school. I have stayed very on top of my school work this semester, until last week. Spring break was a bad choice for me. I didn't do enough school work to say so over that week, so I'm out of practice already. Fingers crossed that I'll get back on the ball this week so I can end the semester with a bang.

God Bless ♥ V

Being Scared of Your Kids

I saw a post on Facebook early this morning that really had my wheels turning. A parent in our area moved his teenage daughter's bedroom to their driveway since she refused to clean it. Funny, sure. Extreme, maybe a little. Yes, it definitely got his point across, but I feel like there may have been other ways.

One of the comments on this photo said something about how parents should do this more often and how they need to "stop being afraid of their kids." This is what got me thinking. I don't think that this was done out of fear of his daughter, but maybe frustration. Regardless, being afraid of your kids isn't okay. Why fear them?

Since I always seem to take an idea and run with it... I ended up on a completely different path: your kids fearing you. So many parents I see use scare tactics (even the man from the photo) to get their children to behave. What kind of relationship is that? Using fear to get what you want isn't healthy. 

I never what my children to fear my husband or me. Parenting is a journey of mutual respect. Can you imagine the conversation that happened in that house last night? This was reported on several news stations, and has nearly a thousand shares on Facebook in just 10 hours. Anyone in the area who knows this girl, knows it was her. Everyone in their subdivision knows it was her. I can't imagine. Even though she will probably never have a messy room again, what did this do to her relationship with her dad? She's never going to trust him again, at least not for a long time. This is something that's going to stick with her for a long time.

I want to have an open relationship with my kids. I want them to be able to come to me with everything, and not constantly be afraid for my reaction. I see all these comments on the post saying "Parenting done right," or "This is how it should be done." But really, what did that accomplish? 

A lot of you are probably thinking that I'm a softy now. Honestly, I might be. Keeping in mind that I don't have teenagers, and that I'm barely out of my teenage years myself... I just don't see the point in this. I guess my views may be extremely different in thirteen years when Miss A is fighting to clean her room, is talking to a boy we don't like, and is wearing clothes that may not be age appropriate. Maybe then I'll be more likely to want to resort to publicly shaming my child (note the sarcasm there). 

I suppose this is just some food for thought today. I was fortunate to never fear my parents. They did a pretty great job keeping trust between us. I can only hope that we will have that healthy of a relationship with our kids. 

God Bless ♥ V

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Let's Pretend I've Been Here

So... three weeks of no blogging, you'd think I'd have a lot to write about, right? Nope. Though the last three weeks have been great, they've been rather uneventful.

Our trip back to Georgia went smoothly. I had to mail about 20 pounds of stuff down because it wouldn't fit in my suitcase. I have been slowly catching up on everything since I've been back (laundry, cleaning, photo work, etc). I was more behind than I expected, but I'm almost caught up now.

I've been on spring break this week. It's been fantastic to not have school work to do every day. I'm definitely not looking forward to starting back up again on Sunday. I am excited to schedule my classes for the fall on Monday. I'll only have to do this one more time before I graduate! That's a good feeling.

We're still using cloth diapers. Miss A hasn't had a disposable one on since Thanksgiving. I'm really happy about that, but I'm terrified to use them again. If she's not potty trained by May, there's a chance that she'll be in them for a couple weeks. I'm going out to Washington State and Colorado to visit some friends of mine. We'll be gone just under three weeks, and I'm super excited (but super nervous) about traveling for that long. Fingers crossed, it will all go smoothly. I bought my ticket a couple days ago, so I am counting down the days now!

I've been pretty busy with photography. I'm currently reworking my entire website with some awesome ladies. I've got my contracts online now that will make my life 100x easier. So happy that it's all starting to come together.

Well, I'm off for the night. I'm exhausted and have lots of work left to do.

God Bless ♥ V

Friday, February 28, 2014

Slow down, time.

So last night, after I wrote our moving post, I realized that I've only blogged five times this month. I looked down to see that it was the 27th, so I figured I had plenty of time to crank out a few more posts this month... right? No, it's February.

Seriously, as we sit here on the last day of the month, I'm trying to figure out where the time has gone. I've noticed that since Jimmy returned from deployment (over eight months ago), time will not slow down. I feel like we completely blew through the end of the year last year, and now we're heading into March? How does that happen!?

February has been a busy month. Between getting my business legitimized and legal, buying a new vacuum, going on a marriage retreat, and traveling to Michigan, I've had little time to sit and update. It seems like I always have something going on.

Miss A has been continually impressing me with her growth. Not just physically, since we're on a bit of a plateau with that, but mentally and emotionally. She is so dang smart. Her vocabulary has increased so much in just the week that we've been in Michigan. Thanks to her Uncle Bubba, she now knows pepper as "Google" (thank you, Branden). She is also saying a lot more two and three word sentences. Whenever we're talking to her daddy on the phone, she says "Hi, daddy" and "Bye, daddy" about forty-seven times. She is also saying "I want ____" quite a bit more too. She says "monkey" very clearly now, and is learning more animal sounds. The thing I'm most excited about is that she's slowly but surely starting to sing her ABC's. Most of the letters aren't too clear yet, but she has the melody down solid. You can definitely understand "B" and "E F G." I'm confident that she'll have the whole alphabet ready to belt out whenever she wants by the time she's two. She will say "one, two, three" once in a while, but we're still working on that.

Well, I think I'm off for the day. My lazy little girl is still knocked out, so I'm going to enjoy my last few minutes of peace before the chaos of this Friday starts. 

God Bless ♥ V

Thursday, February 27, 2014

We're Moving

Anyone who knows me knows that I've had little to no hope of ever leaving Fort Stewart. Many have called it one of the "black holes" in the Army. Tons of people go there, and never get out. I was entirely convinced that we were going to be one of those people.

About a year ago, Hubs reenlisted for stability (at Fort Stewart). In my mind, that essentially meant that we would be there for all of eternity. Well, at least until his next contract was signed, or until he got out... Then I find out that there are ways to get orders, but it could be difficult.

Well... early this week, a few of the soldiers in Hub's unit received orders to Fort Benning. The two soldiers I knew that had received orders had also reenlisted around the same time as Hubs did, and also for stability. I instantly got kind of bubbly. I asked him to check his ERB to see if anything came up for him. He said it was doubtful, but he'd check in the morning (since it was already later in the evening and he was settled in at home).

Sure enough, the next day he goes to the library to check on everything and... bam. Fort Benning, here we come. I was completely shocked, even though I kind of thought it could happen. I have fourteen million kinds of emotions going on right now.

I'm excited to be seeing more of the country. Even though I've been out to Fort Benning once before, I was only there for three days. We'll be within a day-trip's distance from Atlanta, Montgomery (AL), Albany (GA), and a few other places that I'm interested in visiting.

I'm excited to see where my business goes from there. Starting over with a completely new clientele is going to be tough, but a fresh start is rarely a bad thing. I've had a great experience growing my business at Stewart, so I can only hope that I'll have the same success on the other side of the state.

We will also be two hours closer to Michigan than we are now. I always thought that Stewart was as close as we got, but I was wrong. This will mean driving through Atlanta every time we go home now, but I'm not too upset about that. Two hours, is two hours.

I'm sad to be leaving my friends and "roots" at Stewart. Even though quite a few of my closest friends will be leaving this summer (or have already left), I still have so many great people who have come into my life throughout our time at Fort Stewart. It sucks to be leaving all of them, but I know that good things will happen at Benning as well. We are also blessed that we'll only be five hours from Stewart, so we could make long-weekend trips out there if we want to.

Leaving Savannah and the beaches is going to be tough. I love that city. Downtown is so beautiful, and we will most definitely be checking of a ton of things on my Savannah/Coastal GA bucket list this summer. I want to visit all of the coastal islands that I can, spend lots of time at the beach, go on a carriage ride downtown, go on a haunted tour of Savannah, and a few other things I can't think of off the top of my head.

I'm sad to be leaving some great businesses behind us. We absolutely love Miss A's ENT. Dr. Crews has been so great with her, and her tubes probably won't quite be out when we leave. We've had a really crappy experience with Winn Army Community Hospital, so I'm not sad about leaving them, but I'm a little anxious to see what the healthcare is like at Fort Benning. I'm sad to be leaving Savannah Memorial Hospital behind. Knowing that my babies won't be born at the same hospital is very bittersweet for me. I loved the care I received there, and was looking forward to having baby #2 there some day. Now, that won't be happening. I'm also sad to be leaving our tattoo artist. Jimmy will be going to see her a lot in the next few months. I have full intentions of coming back once in a while to make trips to Savannah though. I also just recently found a cloth diaper store in Savannah that I've been  pretty fond of. I'm hoping I can find another one in Columbus, or even Atlanta (I know there are some there).

I'm absolutely elated to have a Target within thirty minutes of my house. A friend of mine and I had talked about this quite a bit a while ago... I've been miserable having to drive so far to get to Target. Knowing that Columbus has a Target, Kohl's, Carter's, and a natural baby store (I just Googled while writing this, there is one!) all in town... my checkbook is in trouble.

I'm excited to experience moving as a family. Even though I know it's going to be stressful, I'm excited about it. I feel so fortunate that our first PCS is only five hours from where we're at now. I think it will be a great "starter" move, so to speak. I have hopes that we won't be at Fort Benning forever, so maybe we'll keep making our way West in a few years. We'll see!

*Update* School... Since I go primarily online, I won't have to transfer out, take time off (again), or drop out because of our move. When we leave, I'll only have one semester left anyway. Since we'll "only" be five hours away, walking at commencement is still an option, but that would mean that Hubs would probably have to take time off. I know that the degree is the "important part," but I was still looking forward to the ceremony. Who knows where we'll be in life in a little over a year.

Overall, I'm feeling optimistic. I'm definitely going to miss parts of Fort Stewart (who would have though I'd ever say that?!), but I'm excited to see what the future holds for us. I can't wait to see.

God Bless ♥ V

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Traveling With an 18 Month Old

Yesterday Miss A and I took our second flight to Michigan. I was an anxious wreck, since I decided not to bring my stroller like I did last time. I had an extra bag with me too, so I was freaking out. Thanks to an awesome friend of mine, we made it to the airport with plenty of time to get through security and find our plane. Miss A even found a little friend to play with for a few minutes before we started boarding.

As soon as we got on the plane, she knocked out. She'd been up since around 6am, so I knew she'd be pretty tired by the time our flight took off at 9:30. She slept from take-off to landing. Never made a peep! 

Once we got to Charlotte, the pilot came over the speaker saying that they didn't have a gate for us. So, we stopped in the middle of the tarmac and exited the plane. We had to walk quite a ways to the terminal (two backpacks, carry-on, and toddler in tow). Of course, it was the complete opposite side of the terminal that I needed to catch my next flight on. Normally it wouldn't be a big deal, but since we had to walk so far to get inside, I had seven minutes before my next flight started boarding. 

Somehow I managed to get to the gate with a minute to spare, in tears, but I made it. I had to pee so badly it wasn't funny. Miss A needed a diaper change (badly). My entire body was shaking from pushing so hard to make it on time. To my extreme luck, one of the flight attendants was running late so I was able to leave all my bags at the desk and go to the bathroom. Even better, once we did board the plane, no one was in the seat next to us, so Miss A had plenty of room to stretch. 

We were delayed for take-off since the flight attendant was so late, so we missed our scheduled time. We ended up taking off about thirty minutes late. As soon as we were in the air, Miss A knocked out again. 

The views were gorgeous. Flying into all the snow got me so excited. I couldn't wait to get on the ground and go play in it. We landed in Detroit about 30 minutes late, but we did alright. Miss A remembered her Nana almost immediately and was very excited to get to her house. It's exciting for me to see that she's remembering people and places that she's not at frequently. She's such a smart girl.

This morning we played in the mountains of snow Michigan has right now. Miss A wasn't quite as excited as she was last time, but I think she's pretty jet lagged still. There's also about two feet more snow now than there was when we were here for Christmas. It's absolutely beautiful here. We're definitely going to enjoy our visit. 

God Bless ♥ V