Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year End Review

Wow, 2013 has been one heck of a year. I can't believe how much has happened, and how quickly it has all flown by.

My husband came home on emergency leave from Afghanistan for two weeks while our daughter had a major lung surgery. She also turned six months old. We made our first trip to Jacksonville Florida and Miss A went to the zoo for the first time.

Jimmy returned to finish his deployment. A whopping three days later, Miss A started crawling! Having a mobile baby changed my life for sure. No more setting her down and actually finding her in the same place. I loved watching her explore new places for the first time, and listening to her small giggles when she hid from me. 

Miss A went to the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. We had some friends down from Michigan and did lots of sight seeing in Savannah. She'd been to the Gulf when she was only a few days old, but hadn't been to the Atlantic until this trip. I'm sad it was too cold for her to actually go in the ocean, but we still had fun. 

My husband's family came down for Spring break and we went to Jacksonville Beach for the first time. It was a lot of fun, despite the long drive. I haven't been back since, but maybe we'll make that a once-a-year trip with them. I also got my first prime lens for my camera, which completely changed the game for me. This is when I decided I was going to get serious about photography.

My mommy came down to visit and watch Adalin while I shot my first labor and delivery for one of my best friends. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I've only ever seen two babies be born, mine and hers. Miss A also started using her pool in the front yard and became quite a little fish. I also got to welcome home more soldiers in one month than I ever had before. So many homecomings, it was amazing.

One of the best months of my life. Miss A started walking, my husband came home from Afghanistan. She walked to her daddy for the first time. Our family was reunited again. I can't believe that was almost six months ago now. 

Jimmy and I celebrated our second anniversary. We went home on block leave (for four whole weeks!), and were able to spend lots of times with friends and family. Jimmy turned twenty-one, and Miss A celebrated her first birthday. July was jam-packed with celebrating Hubby's safe return, birthday, and Miss A's first year of life. We also got a great dane puppy, Gunner.

I celebrated my twentieth birthday. We returned to Georgia from block leave, and Hubby's schedule slowly returned to normal.  We made the adjustment to having two dogs in our house, as well as trying to figure out how our new schedule would work with Miss A having both of her parents back in the same timezone. We got our first set of family photos done since Jimmy came home by Carmen Garza Strong Photography at Driftwood Beach. They turned out amazing. 

I returned to Michigan with Miss A to be a part of one of my best friend's wedding. Miss A had her first plane ride, which went better than I had expected. I also got my Ergobaby Carrier (that I still love and try to use almost every day). This was only the second wedding I'd ever been a part of (including mine!)

We kicked Halloween's behind. Since Jimmy wasn't here for Miss A's first Halloween, I decided to go all out this year. I made our costumes by hand, and they were a huge hit. We set the bar pretty high, so I'm excited to see what we'll come up with for next year. 

We celebrated our first Thanksgiving as a family. Dinner turned out great. It was nice celebrating with just the three of us, even though we missed our Michigan family dearly. I also had a record number of photo shoots in one month, over 25 of them. I hope that this kind of productivity is a trend for next year. We also started cloth diapering Miss A. I wish we would have made that decision a lot sooner. 

I experienced my first close friend PCSing. It was harder than expected, but we're still in touch almost every single day. It hasn't been a month yet, but I'm hopeful that we won't ever lose touch. Our friendship is one that I'd love to keep strong for the rest of my life. Miss A had been fighting ear infections since May, so we opted to have ear tubes put in. So far, we've noticed her speech has improved, she can understand us better, and she seems like a happier child overall. It also made traveling easier too. We traveled back to Michigan to celebrate Christmas with family. It has been a great visit so far. Though we haven't got to see everyone as much as we would have liked, we're definitely enjoying our visit. Another big exciting thing that happened, I got my camera upgrade. Between saving for six months, and using all but $12 of my Christmas money, I was able to upgrade to the Canon 6D. I'm already completely impressed. I can't wait to get even more used to it. 

Overall, it's been an amazing year. Even though my husband spent half of it in a war zone thousands of miles from home, we've grown closer than ever and are enjoying every minute of life. I'm so excited to see what next year will bring for us. 

Happy new year and God Bless ♥ Victoria

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

'Tis the Season

Our visit to Michigan has been going great so far. We arrived just in time before a really nasty ice storm hit our area. If we would have left even 5 hours later, we would have ran into some major issues on the roads.

Poor Mister Gunner's feet are completely chapped from the cold and dry Michigan air. The ice isn't helping him either. Every time he comes inside, his feet are bleeding. I feel seven kinds of bad for him, but I think frequent applications of Bag Balm are helping. Miss Mia seems to like the snow fine. This isn't her first rodeo with the cold though. They're both getting along with my parents' dogs well too. Four dogs is still a lot for one house, but we're making it work. 

Miss A is loving all the attention she's getting. We had two family Christmases today and it's completely safe to say that she's spoiled rotten. She got lots of Little People toys to go with the farm she got for her birthday, tons of books, another toy phone that's a complete hit, a glow baby, and some art toys (markers and a cool "my first Crayola" thing that is mess free). She's so loved, it makes me feel extremely blessed. 

Last night, Jimmy and I had our first date night since Miss A was born. We had intentions of going to the movies, then dinner, then staying at a hotel (my first time away from Miss A overnight). Well, the theater we planned on going to didn't have power from the ice storm, so we drove to the other side of town. We found a theater that was open but the movie we wanted to see didn't play for another hour, so we ended up seeing Catching Fire. It was really good, but I hate cliff hanger endings. We then went to Max & Erma's for desert. While Jimmy had a few drinks, I tried to make a hotel reservation for us... no luck. Out of the ten hotels I checked, four were out of power, and the others had no open rooms. We ended up wandering around Kohl's for an hour and coming home. We still had a great time, but I'm sad I didn't get to muster up the courage to stay away from Miss A for the night. 

Overall, our visit has been fantastic so far. I'm excited for tomorrow. We will have 2-3 family Christmases with lots of great food and amazing company. I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season as much as we are.

God Bless ♥ V

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Baby Fever

Tonight, while browsing Pinterest as I'm waiting for my diaper laundry to finish up... I saw this:

Three words: Instant. Baby. Fever. 

Holy crap. I want pictures like this of Adalin and a baby. Does anyone have one I can borrow for an hour or two? Seriously. Baby #2 will not be in the works for a good while, but I want this. I have to constantly remind myself that the fact that I want photos of Adalin with her future someday sibling, does not trump our life plan. We're not wanting another baby yet. As much as I'd love for Miss A to be a big sister, that's not what we have planned. I know that plans go out the window all the time, but this is one plan that I'd really like to stick with. 

I'm excited to have two babies. I want to teach Adalin to love her brother or sister as much as we will. I want to teach her how to care, and be gentle with a little human. I want her to teach him/her about life. I'm excited for those things. 

Those things still don't quite outweigh that I don't want two babies in diapers. Those things don't outweigh that our house is just not big enough for another baby. They don't outweigh that I don't want two babies who can't get snacks on their own, or tell me what they want. We're just not quite to the point of being ready yet. 

But then, I see another photo like this: 

Then I think, maybe we are. But no. Not yet. My camera is, but I'm not. I love being able to completely focus on Miss A. She's the center of our life right now, and I'm not ready to make her share. 

In time, we'll be ready. I'm excited for that day to come, but right now I'm enjoying every moment of having only one baby. ♥ 

God Bless ♥ V

Monday, December 16, 2013

Saying Yes

We get in the habit of always saying, "no," "not now," and "maybe later" to a lot of things in life. Lately, I've been trying desperately to remove the n-word from my vocabulary. Obviously certain things still require a no, but when there's the chance to say yes, I'm doing my best to take it.

I'm trying to make the most of my last few weeks before starting school again. Instead of not letting Adalin do whatever she wants, I've been trying to encourage her to explore, learn, and grow. Today, for example, she climbed up into my desk chair and started beating on the computer. Rather than yell at her and make her get down, I wheeled her into the living room and spun her around until she got a big belly laugh going. Later, she climbed on top of the dining room table. Though that's normally a huge no-no, I let her get the pretzels she wanted and helped her down safely. I let her stay up until she told me she wanted to go to bed even though it was 15 minutes later than we usually like. If it means she's happy and gets to spend extra time with us, why not?

Saying "yes" can bring lots of different opportunities to you. Today, while shooting a homecoming, I saw a family taking photos with their smartphones and offered to take a few shots and send them to the family at no charge. Now they're contacting me about booking family photos in the spring. I love gaining new clients, especially from homecomings. I just love homecomings.

I'm off for the night. It's been a long day and I still have lots to do! I challenge all of you to try to say "yes" tomorrow. Give it a little thought, you never know what kind of opportunity might pop up.

God Bless ♥ V

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Knowledge after Two Weeks in Cloth

This post is a few days late, but here's the two week update on our cloth diapering journey.

As of Friday evening, Miss A has been exclusively in cloth for two full weeks. So far I've learned a ton, but there's still so much I don't know. Here's some general info:

Our Stash
Our stash consists of 12 FuzzinBunz One Size Elite Pockets, 2 BumGenius 4.0s, 3 BumGenius Freetimes, 1 BumGenius Elemental AIO, and 6 BottomBumpers sized AIOs. We also have a Charlie Banana Pocket that we have as back up, but I don't like it as much as the others. 

bottombumpers sized AIO
When we Use What we Use
We use the BG 4.0s at night, or a FuzziBunz if we used the BGs during the day. We always use two inserts at night, and have only had a couple minor leaks. I love the BG Freetimes. They dry much faster than the Elemental, and are soft on her bum. It's a close call between the Freetimes and the BottomBumpers for my favorites. The BottomBumpers fit slimmer than than the BGs so I like them better under jeans, or when I don't want her butt to be ginormous. The BGs seem to be a bit more absorbent though. You win some, you loose some. As long as we change her regularly, we don't have leakage issues. If she fell asleep in the car, and I don't want to wake her before putting her in the crib, sometimes she'll leak. If she drinks a ton before she naps, she might leak... but we really haven't had many issues at all. 

Storage and Changing Routine
We store our diapers already assembled. After they're washed, I put all the inserts back in, and store them folded in a tub in her room. When it's time to change her, they're ready to go. We use OsoCozy flushable liners most of the time to guard the diapers from poop. Sometimes I'm lazy and forget, but it's not difficult to get her poo off the diapers if we don't use them. I lay the liner inside the diaper and put it on like a disposable. If the previous diaper is just wet, I take out the insert and put both parts in the wet bag in her room. If it's soiled, I still take out the insert (if it's a pocket) before heading to the bathroom. I shake off what I can and then dunk the poopy part of the diaper in the water for a flush. Sometimes you have to swish and scrub a little to get it all, but we have only had one diaper that I felt the need to hose off (literally, out in the front yard... like I was washing a car). I opted to not buy a diaper sprayer because we started so late in the game. I may buy one for the next baby because baby poo is much different than toddler poo. Once I get the majority of the poo off, I throw it in the wet bag. It's easy peasy. 

BumGenius Freetime AIO
Wash Routine
I have been doing laundry every night, but since I just added five more diapers to our stash this weekend, I may attempt to hold of and wash every other night. Typically, I start a load when Miss A goes to bed around 8:00pm. All the diapers are separated (pockets pulled out, inserts unsnapped, etc) when they go in the wet bag, so I don't have to do anything except dump them in the washer. I do a cold rinse with no soap, a hot/cold wash with Rockin Green Hard Rock, and then a second cold rinse. The biggest problem I have is forgetting to start the wash cycle. Sometimes an hour or two will go by before I realize that I didn't do it. Then I get to stay up extra late to wait for them to be done. Depending on how long it takes me to start it, I either hang dry the covers and put the inserts in the dryer, or put everything in the dryer on low heat. The AIOs take a really long time to hang dry, so if I'm not really on it with starting the wash cycle, they aren't completely dry by morning. I wash the wet bag every other day, unless there's something really nasty in there. The wet bag that goes in the diaper bag gets washed every 2-3 times we use it (again, unless something really nasty goes in there), which averages out to 1-2 times per week. 

So far, we're still loving it. If I can get a little better with remembering to start my wash cycle, we will have no kinks in the system. I'm nervous to put her back in disposables for our trip to and from Michigan. She might end up staying in cloth on the way up since we aren't planning on stopping, but I believe she'll be back in Pampers for a few days on our way home. We'll see... maybe I'll surprise myself and stick with it both ways. I'll keep you all updated. I do have a Pinterest Board dedicated to cloth as well. If you have other questions about my experience, please post them in the comments! I'd love to help others who are starting out with cloth, especially those who switched later in their baby's life. 

God Bless ♥ V

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Surgery Number Two

Adalin's surgery went great today. We were at the doctors for less than an hour, including waiting in the lobby, prep, surgery, and aftercare. The doctor did a great job easing all of our fears. Here's how everything went down.

We left home at 5:50am to give us time to stop for an energy drink for hubs, and a water for me. After traveling through post during PT traffic, we still arrived up in Statesboro about 30 minutes early. We drove around for a little bit to explore town a little more. Once we killed a little time, we headed to Dr. Crews' office.

We waited in the waiting room for 10 or 15 minutes, but we really were pretty early... Adalin loves the fish tank they have there. I think we know what she's getting for her next birthday.

The allowed us to come in with her until after the anesthesia knocked her out. That was a weird experience. I felt good knowing that I was the last thing she saw before she knocked out, but it was somewhat terrifying watching my baby girl drift off into space. I freaked out a little when she let go of my hand and started wheezing, but the doctor and anesthesiologist quickly assured me that it's completely normal. In fact, those sounds are expected. 

We walked out and talked with a nurse for a minute or two, Jimmy and I both peed, and then sat in the waiting room for no more than two minutes. The doctor walked out and said she was done and we could come see her. I walked in to Miss A peacefully knocked out in a nurses arms, not yet awake from the anesthesia. I was able to hold her immediately, until she woke up. Then she wanted daddy. She was only under for a total of about 10 minutes, start to finish. We were able to leave the doctors office less than 20 minutes after she was out of surgery.

She cried for a good bit of the ride home, more because she was still groggy from the medicine. Once she was asleep, she was out. She woke up when we got home, ate some lunch, and hung out with me for a few hours. Jimmy had to return to work, which I was sad about... but that's part of this life. She then knocked out for a four hour nap. That never happens. I know the medicine was still wearing off, and that she was exhausted. Once she woke up, she was much more herself. 

Jimmy got home about an hour and a half after she woke up. By then, she was almost completely her normal self. She went to sleep tonight without a fight, which is normal. Bathtime didn't seem to bother her ears at all. She's such a trooper. 

I'm relieved that everything went smoothly. We have a check up in a little over three weeks to make sure everything heals properly. I'm already feeling confident that this was the right choice for her. 

Thank you for all the prayers and love surrounding our little girl. We're lucky to have so many people who care for us. 

God Bless ♥ V

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Twelve Hours

In twelve short hours, Miss A will be going in for her second surgery, under the age of two. I'm feeling so many conflicted emotions right now. Tonight, I'm having flashbacks from the night before her other surgery. I was so scared for my precious little baby. I'm not feeling the same as I did for that surgery, since I know it's far less invasive and she'll only be under for a matter of minutes, rather than hours. I feel extremely confident in the doctor's skills, as I did for her last surgery. Trusting someone with the future of your child is never easy, but it's something we have to do.

Tonight I'm feeling both anxiety and relief. I'm anxious to have her go under anesthesia again. I'm anxious about the after care of ear tubes. I'm anxious about not being able to give her a sippy of milk on the drive to the doctor tomorrow morning. I'm feeling seven kinds of relief knowing that if all goes as planned, my sweet babe will have far less ear troubles after tomorrow. I'm feeling relief knowing that these ear tubes will also make traveling through the mountains and flying easier on her.

I'm ready to have it done with. I'm sure I won't be sleeping much tonight, but a girl can hope. I'll keep everyone posted. Prayers and positive wishes are always appreciated. Thank you for all your support.

God Bless ♥ V

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I'm Impressed

Adalin seems to be doing much better today. Her rash is almost completely cleared up. She's acting much more herself, but she still won't drink milk. Other than that, she's pretty much back to normal.

Today Adalin visited Dr. Crews at the Statesboro ENT clinic. I was extremely impressed. The only complaint I have was that we waited about 10 minutes past her appointment time to be seen, but that's far better than the 30 or 40 that I'm used to at Winn's ENT.

Dr. Crews was great. I've never been able to get Adalin to be comfortable around a doctor, especially one who is messing with her ears. He gave her a sucker when he walked in, and was able to look in her ears without any issues whatsoever. I was shocked! She's never been that calm around a doctor.

He agreed that tubes would be the best treatment for Miss A right now, and we're scheduled to go in bright and early Thursday morning. I'm excited that we're doing the surgery here, rather than at Winn. We'll be with her until after she's under, and the surgery will only take 4-10 minutes, rather than 15-20 like at Winn. Winn wasn't going to let us be with her when she went under, or when she woke up. At Dr. Crews, we'll be with her for both. His practice is much more personable than any other office we've been too.

I'm so glad that we found him. Hopefully I'll have even more good things to say after the procedure. I'm still anxious, since surgery is surgery... but I feel confident in Dr. Crews's skill set. He is a pediatric ENT, so he knows how to work well with children.

I'm off for the night! I'm exhausted from a rather long day.

God Bless ♥ V

Sunday, December 08, 2013

What a Week

My daughter is such a trooper. Her strength completely amazes me. Especially with what has gone on this week, I am so proud of my little girl. Here's a recap of the past few days:

Thursday: She woke up with a fever of around 100°F but Tylenol seemed to help. She was rather grouchy all day. She slept quite a bit, and got a fever again shortly before bed time. She fell asleep in the middle of the floor for the second time, which rarely ever happens. I figured something was going on. She knocked out okay after we monitored her fever for an hour and got it down to 99°F.

Friday: Around 2:30 in the morning, she woke up with the worst fever she's ever had. The thermometer wouldn't even read it for a few tries. Eventually we got a reading of 104°F and took her to the emergency room. They diagnosed her with yet another ear infection, gave her antibiotics, and sent us home with an appointment at pediatrics later that day. Later in peds, they confirmed that she had an ear infection, had me fill the prescription for antibiotics, and urged us to go to ENT to try to move her tube surgery up to before Christmas leave. The ENT was no help. After a very long fight with them, a request to be transferred out through patient advocate, and several phone calls to different clinics, we were able to schedule her (hopefully) for surgery this coming Thursday.

Saturday: She still seemed exhausted. We attempted to go to Savannah to take pictures with Santa. That didn't happen. She does not like Santa. She slept the whole afternoon away... She had a slight rash on her hips and belly, but I assumed that it was from having such a high fever and my stupid move of putting her in flannel jammies. I didn't think any thing of it until....

Sunday: Her rash was getting worse. I let her run around in only her diaper all morning. She actually stayed up for two whole hours after she woke up, which hasn't happened in a few days. I figured that was a good sign. She still had no appetite (hasn't since this whole thing started), and didn't drink much... but at least she was awake. Then she woke up from her nap, and this is what we found:

We took her to urgent care and they determined that she is having an allergic reaction to the antibiotics she's on. He said there's a slim chance that it's Roseola, but he'd rather treat it as a reaction than that since there's no treatment for roseola. She's on steroids now, so hopefully tomorrow she'll be feeling better.

The poor kid is traumatized from all this medical attention lately. I swear she's had more doctor visits this month that most kids have in a year. She's definitely a trooper. We're going to the new ENT either tomorrow or Tuesday to see exactly what's going to happen with her ears. I appreciate all those who are praying for us so much. It truly means the world to our family. 

I'm exhausted for her. Mamma is off for the night. I'll keep everyone posted with what's to come this week.

God Bless ♥ V

Friday, December 06, 2013

Friday Update

It's been one week since we started cloth diapering. So far, I'm loving it. I've kept up with laundry, gained a little more confidence, and am completely satisfied with what it's done for Miss A. Her bottom looks a million times better than this time last week. She's diaper rash free. It makes me so happy. One thing that I've figured out that works nicely is this:

Rather than buying a drying rack and trying to find a place to put it, I came up with this system. I hang up the diapers to dry in Adalin's bathroom by using the clip coat hangers. I attach them to the corner of the diaper, with as little fabric as possible. It works great, and is a nice alternative to having to buy and store a drying rack in a house that just doesn't have room. 

On another note, Miss A woke us up at 2AM with a fever of 104+ degrees. We took her to the emergency room, and as suspected... another ear infection. My heart completely sank. They put her on yet another round of antibiotics and sent us to pediatrics later in the morning. Peds couldn't do anything for us to bump up her tubes surgery, so I went to ENT. After an hour of waiting, I was informed that they declined my request to be sent off post so we could get it done sooner. After filing a request with Patient Advocate, and an long afternoon, the commander of Winn ACH approved our request. We will be going off post to a pediatric ENT specialist about an hour away, and she will be having surgery next week as long as all goes as planned. She was originally scheduled for January 21st at Winn, so I'm thrilled to have it bumped up sooner. I'm ready to get my poor babe some relief. We won't find out what's going on for sure until Monday or Tuesday, but hopefully we'll get this all squared away before we go to MI for Christmas. 

I'm off to go process some photos now. I've got another busy weekend ahead of me. 

God Bless ♥ V

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Knocked Out

It's 7:00 in the evening, and everyone in the house except me is passed out. Jimmy has had a few long days at work, the dogs have played hard today, and Adalin is teething hard core. She never falls asleep anywhere except her crib, car seat, or extremely rarely in the carrier. However, the last two nights, this is what we've found around 6:30 each night:

Last night, she was in front of the front door. Tonight she's next to the couch. This is really weird for me. She's never been one to sleep just anywhere. Not since she was an infant. Wow! Just two seconds ago, as I've been writing this, she woke up crying, climbed up on the couch, and did this: 

She's never done this before. I feel so bad for my poor little teething girl. She cut the second top canine tooth this week, and the bottom ones are not far behind. She's had a fever all day and been quite a grouch. I'm glad she's giving me snuggles. 

I had a pretty great day today. I got all my errands ran this morning, and got to go shopping with a fellow photographer and friend of mine this afternoon. We went to Target to spend some gift cards we won in a giveaway. I got some shelves for my vintage camera collection. I'll be posting photos later this week, or over the weekend. They are perfect.

Well, I'm off to go do some more diaper laundry. A quick update on that: it's going great! Miss A's bottom is completely clear of diaper rash now. The only part I'm not super fond of is the extra loads of laundry. I don't mind doing them at all, I just don't like staying up late at night do to them. I started an hour earlier tonight, so I'll get to go to bed before 10:30. Woo! I feel old.

God Bless ♥ V

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

What Sucks About the Army

Today, I'm experiencing something new, but something that is very much a part of military life. One of my absolute closest friends is moving to Texas today. It's crazy for me to think that she won't be 12 houses down anymore. She won't be able to come over and teach me how to cook more new foods that won't kill my husband (thanks for chicken parm and salmon!). She won't be booking any more photo shoots for a good long time. And selfishly, she won't be able to watch Miss A for me anymore. Even though we haven't hung out nearly as much since deployment ended, she's still been one of my best friends for so long. Even though we've only known each other for a year and a half, I truly hope that we will remain this close once she leaves.

It's a funny thing, really, how friendships are different in the military world. Being 1,000 miles away from everything that you've known (or almost 3,000 in her case) makes you bond with people differently. Deployment makes you bond differently. Nobody who hasn't gone through a loved one's deployment can understand what it's like to be waiting and worried. People always say, "I can only imagine," and it's true... they can only imagine. I can't believe how quickly this lovely lady and I grew close.

I know that we'll see each other again. We'll make it happen. Whether it's for photos' sake, or just a friendly visit, I know that we'll be together again someday. I am excited for her family's new journey. Moving to a new state is always exciting and scary. I can't wait to see the life that they make for themselves there. I know that we'll talk, Skype, and Facebook, but it's just not the same as living 12 houses apart. I'm gonna miss you, woman.

I know I'll be feeling sulky tonight, so Hubby... be ready for chick flicks and cookie dough.

God Bless ♥ V

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Three Days in Cloth

We've made it through three full days in cloth diapers! I am beyond impressed. For those who are just now tuning in, we switched Adalin to cloth diapers because she's been fighting some wicked diaper rash for a while. Rather than trying yet another ointment or diaper rash cream, we switched her. Within 12 hours, the rash was already easing up. Three days later, I'm elated to say that it's almost completely gone. There are two small spots left that were the worst from the beginning.

I'm telling you, anyone who wants to do cloth can do it. I never thought I'd be as into cloth as I am, especially only being three days in, but I love it. The worst part for me is the laundry. I hate doing laundry, but it's really not too bad. My current wash routine starts when Adalin gets into the bath. I take the last diaper of the day, along with everything else she's worn from the day and stick it all in the washer. I do a cold rinse cycle, then hot wash with Rockin Green detergent, followed by another cold rinse (I just add the second rinse cycle on my washer). That part takes about two hours, depending on how quickly I realize the first rinse is done. Once they're done, I hang up the shells in the guest bathroom, and put the inserts in the dryer on low heat. The last two days, the dryer hasn't completely dried them, so I run it twice.

I store the diapers in her room, with inserts in place so I don't have to do anything extra when I'm changing her. I still love using the liners on her diapers. It makes it way easier to get the poo off.

I'm still pretty insecure in my skills. There are tons of acronyms that I don't understand. I'm constantly googling, and calling the friend who got me started on this to get advice. I know that the longer I do this, the more comfortable I'll get.

I encourage anyone who is interested in cloth diapering to research a little bit. I'm so glad I finally dove in. It's been far easier than I was expecting.

God Bless ♥ V

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The First 24 Hours in Cloth

We successfully made it through our first day of cloth diapering. Adalin's bum is clearing up faster than I imagined it would, which makes me extremely happy. Her butt looks so cute in cloth!

This morning she woke up much happier than yesterday. Her butt looked about 60% better after just 12 hours. I was thoroughly impressed. There wasn't any leakage from the diaper, which I was nervous about. She pooed a little, but nothing major. It was nice of her to grace me with an easy first change.

Later in the morning, we got "fluff mail," as cloth mamas call it. Adalin was more excited about the box than the diapers, but hey... you win some, you lose some.

I now have 12 FuzziBunz, 2 bottombumpers, two BumGeniuses, and a Charlie Banana. So far, the BGs and bottombumpers are my favorite. I ordered three (two BGs and one bottombumper) more tonight, so they should be here by the end of next week. 

She has had a few major poops today, but I take the liner and all that goes with it, and stick that in the toilet. Then I dunk the poopy part of the diaper in the water to get off as much as I can before I put it in the wetbag to wait to be washed. I plan on washing every day to every other day, depending on my schedule. 

I'm excited to see how she does all day tomorrow. She has on her first FuzziBunz tonight, so we'll see how that goes. I think my biggest fear was the poop explosions. Even though she hasn't had a huge one yet, she had a pretty decent one and I handled it okay. I'll be washing the first soiled load tomorrow, so I'm sure that will just be quite a treat. 

Well, I'm off for the night. I'm exhausted, and need to catch up on sleep. I'm going to keep blogging about my experience with this. It should be interesting to see what I'm thinking next week.

God Bless ♥ V

Friday, November 29, 2013

Eventful Black Friday

Well, after two long weeks of battling with a nasty diaper rash on Miss A's little bum... yesterday Jimmy and I got fed up. We switched her to cloth diapers!

It hasn't been a cheap switch, I've spent about $370 in the last 12 hours. It was rather painful, but I'm excited about it. I'm convinced that the chemicals in disposable diapers are adding to Miss A's pain, so we are only going to use them while we're traveling from now on. I ordered 12 diapers off of Amazon today that will be here tomorrow, and bought five more from a local natural mamma store today. We have two Bum Genius diapers (one pocket, one AIO), two Bottom Bumpers, and a Charlie Banana in the house tonight. Twelve FuzziBuns are coming tomorrow thanks to Amazon's overnight shipping. I'm still prepping the Bottom Bumpers and one of the Bum Genius diapers since they're organic and bamboo. I'm excited to keep these on her butt now. I'm hoping that we'll love these as much as I'm expecting to. I wish we would have switched sooner. 

When I first put this diaper on Miss A, she wasn't quite sure what to think. I did double the liners tonight, since I'm still not 100% sure what I'm doing and I don't want her leaking in her sleep. Once I get the hang of this more, I'm sure she'll be much more comfortable with them. It only took me like five minutes to put this on her. I know I'll get faster in time though. I'm still figuring out how I want the snaps to be. I love that they're so adjustable.

On another exciting note for Miss A, she's been three days without a bottle now. My goal was to have her on solely sippy cups by 18 months. It looks as though we beat that goal by two months. I'm going to keep one around for a few more days, but as long as she continues to drink her milk from the sippy, the bottle is getting pitched. I'm so proud of our little girl. 

We also took our family Christmas photos today. I've decided I'm not posting them until I mail out our Christmas cards. I'm excited for those too.

I'm off to go do another load of laundry. I have one more cycle left before these diapers will hit the dryer! So excited for a full day of cloth tomorrow! I will definitely continue to post my experiences with starting cloth at a later stage. 

God Bless ♥ V

Thursday, November 28, 2013

What I'm Thankful For (Part Three)

This is part three of my 2013 What I'm Thankful For series. See part one here and part two here

Today was an awesome day overall. This morning, my husband was thrilled to see frost on the ground. That's as close as we get to snow down here, so it was welcomed with open arms. He and Adalin played outside with the dogs while I whipped up cinnamon rolls and an apple pie (which turned out delicious, I might add).

Thanksgiving dinner turned out great, we had ham, mashed potatoes, corn, and biscuits. Though it wasn't as hardy of a feast as many, it was perfect for the three of us. We finished off the evening with a walk down the road to some friends of ours to watch a little football and enjoy good company. Now that Miss A is knocked out from an exhausting day, here we go!

21. I'm thankful for my ErgoBaby carrier. I didn't baby-wear enough to say so when Adalin was actually a baby. I had a cheap Evenflo carrier that didn't fit properly, and made my little girl's legs turn purple, so I never used it. I have a close friend who baby-wears almost constantly, and we got to talking about the Ergo. I'd seen it around a few other times, and thought I might like it better than a wrap or another type of carrier. Dang, are they expensive though. Anyway... on my trip to Michigan in September, trying to navigate the Charlotte NC airport with a one year old, stroller, carry on, and diaper bag was no easy task. I decided it would be easier if I could have another free hand to manage all this stuff. I found a great deal on Amazon and my loving, wonderful grandparents bought it for me (thank you times a million, again). It's amazing. When Miss A is not feeling well, in the Ergo she goes. When we're out doing something and I need both my hands, in the Ergo she goes. She rides when we go for walks, and even around the house when she's feeling needy. It's amazing. I can wear my 24.5 pound chunker on my front or my back, with no issues whatsoever. I'm still kicking myself for not getting one sooner.

From before our walk this evening
22. I'm thankful for awesome neighbors. Even though we don't know the people who live right next to us very well, we've got some great friends in the neighborhood. There are actually three families that we know pretty well here, one of which is moving several states away in a matter of days. I'm so sad to be losing them. I know we'll stay in touch, but I'm still a little torn up. Another one of the families have a daughter who is only eight days younger than Adalin. They get along great. I love hanging out with them, watching football, letting the girls play, and eating some pretty tasty food. They're great. The last family, we don't know too well. He worked with my husband when Jimmy first got to Fort Stewart. We've hung out with them a few times since, but not as frequently as I would have liked. It's still nice knowing another family in our little subdivision though.

23. I'm thankful for hair color. Anyone who knows me knows that I change my hair color like the wind changes direction. It's nice to be able to change things up once in a while. Who knows which color I'll go next?!

24. I'm thankful for non-stick spray. I can count how many pans I would have ruined if it weren't for good ole Pam. That stuff is like magic.

25. I'm thankful for online shopping. This year, I'm really not feeling like fighting the crowds on Black Friday. Instead, I'll sit here on my comfy couch, browsing different websites to see where I'm going to get the best deal. All this saving money, without having to threaten someone within an an inch of their life over a pair of shoes. I'll admit, I may have a slight addiction, but it's one I can control (most days). I have already saved $50 on one of Adalin's Christmas presents!

26. I'm thankful for leftovers. Guess who isn't cooking the rest of the weekend? This girl! We have leftover pizza from last night. There's also ham, potatoes, corn, and biscuits from today. I'm sure I'll probably cook a little bit on Sunday, if my husband is lucky.

27. I'm thankful for stretchy pants. Come on, it's Thanksgiving. We're all thankful for them. For real though, Victoria's Secret yoga pants are pretty much my favorite thing ever. So comfy!

28. I'm thankful for my daughter being an easy sleeper. As much as I loved rocking her to sleep when she went through a short phase that allowed me to, I adore being able to tell her "Let's go to bed baby!" and have her run into her room, only to knock out without a fight after only a few moments. She's been a great sleeper for a long time, which makes life much easier for this momma.

29. I'm thankful for Downy Unstoppables. I can't use scented detergent since I have super sensitive skin, but the Unstoppables don't bother me so I love them. We use the purple kind and they work great. 

30. I'm thankful for my blog. This is post number 100 for this year. It's been great being able to share my experiences with motherhood, Adalin's surgery, deployment, and life in general. I'm thankful for all my readers who care enough to read these long and rambling posts. I'm thankful to be able to speak my mind without a crazy backlash for a controversial opinion. I'm just very thankful.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I know this one will be one we remember for years to come. I'm off to go online shopping to snatch up some good deals! 

God Bless ♥ V

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What I'm Thankful For (Part Two)

This is part two of my 2013 What I'm Thankful For series. See part one here.

Wow, it's been a busy day, but I think I can finish this up before midnight hits. Here we go!

11. I'm thankful for modern medicine. Twice now, modern medicine has helped out my lovey bug. When I was 20 weeks pregnant, they found a CCAM on her right lung. Through the wonders of present day ultrasounds, they were able to closely monitor her. They determined that it would be best to deliver her at a hospital with a NICU, as a safety precaution. Luckily we didn't need it, though she did have surgery six months later. The second modern medicine benefit my little girl is experiencing is ear tubes. She's been suffering for months with ear infection after ear infection. Today, we made the decision that tubes are the best option for her at this stage in the game. So, a day shy of the one year anniversary of her lung surgery, she will be getting ear tubes. I'm terrified for her to have two surgeries under the age of two, but the doctor eased many of my fears today by reminding me that ear tubes are far less extensive than removing a third of her lung.

12. I'm thankful for faith. These last few days have been rough for quite a few people I know. I sat 1,000 miles away, as a great friend of mine said goodbye to his mother who had been fighting cancer. Today I found out that yet another woman from our church is dealing with a serious medical condition, and is also in the end of the second trimester of her pregnancy. It can be hard to keep faith when bad things happen, but through prayer I've felt a stronger connection with God in the past couple days than ever.

13. I'm thankful for college. Even though I'm absolutely terrified to return to school in January, I'm excited to get my degree. I like learning new things, challenging my brain, and push myself to try something new. I've met some great friends at college. It has been a great experience.

14. I'm thankful for the commissary. I've saved tons by shopping there. I don't realize how much extra I spend on groceries by going to Kroger or Food Lion until I have an entire cart full of food for less than $120 at the commissary. That would easily run me over $150, or even $200 at another grocery store. I'm all about saving money.

15. I'm thankful for Pinterest. I get so many ideas from there. Between home decor, food, DIY projects, and photography ideas, I credit a lot of my creativity to Pinterest.

16. I'm thankful for I won't lie, I just spent the last 10 minutes browsing their website for Black Friday deals. I'm stocking up on healthy snacks for our trip home, as well as some other toddler essentials.

17. I'm thankful for Direct TV. Even though it's a huge distraction, I sure do enjoy it. Big Bang Theory every night? Yes please!

18. I'm thankful for Subway. It's pretty much the only fast food I eat. I guess I do eat Hardee's too, but Subway definitely takes the cake.

19. I'm thankful for my tattoos. I like to think of them as self expression, in the most permanent form. I don't have any more planned for the immediate future, but who knows. Maybe I'll surprise myself.

20. I'm thankful for cookie dough. Nothing more needs to be added to that one.

I made it with a whole hour to spare. Happy Thanksgiving Eve! I'll do my best to post part three tomorrow.

God Bless ♥ V

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What I'm Thankful For (Part One)

Rather than doing a daily post this month with something that I'm thankful for, I decided to three posts with 10 things each day. So here goes nothing!

1. I'm thankful for family. Between the family that raised me, and the little family I have of my own... Family is something that I cherish greatly. Having my family whole again for five months now has been such a blessing. I can't believe that my husband has been back from deployment for that long already, but wow has it been great. Watching him bond with our daughter is been the greatest gift. Watching her grow up and learn something new every day has been more than I could ever ask for. I'm really missing my Michigan family lately, the holidays are meant to be spent with family. I know we'll be back for Christmas, but I'm still missing them a little bit extra this week.

2. I'm thankful for our dogs. Even though they're a pain in the butt some times, they add so much to our family. Between putting up with Adalin and always being ready to cuddle, we couldn't ask for better pups.

3. I'm thankful for the Internet. This year, I've seen it do amazing things. It allowed me to stay connected with my husband through deployment. It allowed him to watch our daughter grow from thousands of miles away. It lets me stay in touch with my Michigan family and friends, as well as others around the globe. I was so privileged to watch a soldier see his daughter be born through Skype. I know this may seem like a silly, or even superficial thing to be thankful for, but I really am. It has given me connections that I thought I would have lost when we moved to Georgia. It has also allowed me to grow my business to something I never thought it could be.

4. I'm thankful for stability. I feel like this is extremely general, but it's true. I'm thankful for my husband's job stability, providing us with financial stability. I'm thankful for stability in my marriage and family. I'm thankful for the stability in Adalin's growth and development. I don't like unexpected change, so stability is definitely a blessing.

5. I'm thankful for photography. Not only does it provide a career for me, but it allows me to keep memories that might be lost otherwise. It allows me to express myself, to challenge myself, and to educate myself. It allows me to grow and learn more every day.

6. I'm thankful for heat. Today is a nasty day. It's raining and cold, but I'm cuddled up in a nice warm blanket in my heated home, enjoying myself. I can't imagine living without heat. I know that we're extremely spoiled with how much we have. I'm thankful for that.

7. I'm thankful for working vehicles. There is rarely a day that I don't drive somewhere. Driving around town, to sessions, to the store.... we do a lot of driving. Going home for the holidays or in the summer would be much more difficult if we didn't have nice vehicles. I love my little car, though it's not the most family-practical car for us now. The dogs can't fit in there with Adalin in the back seat. Thankfully, the truck has plenty of room for all of us.

8. I'm thankful for smart phones. Though they really are a modern convenience, they definitely have become a necessity in my life. I know that I could live without it, but I'm glad I don't have to. It makes staying in touch with everyone so much easier, and also helps my business. I can accept credit cards as a payment method on site. It's amazing.

9. I'm thankful for our yard. I can't imagine not being able to let the dogs out to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I would probably die if we lived in an apartment where we had to walk them out for potty breaks and play time. I love not worrying about them when they're outside. I love having bonfires, relaxing in the hammock, and letting Adalin run free in the yard without worrying about her getting ran over, or kidnapped.

10. I'm thankful for Amazon's free two day shipping. Seriously, the best invention ever... just saying. I depend on two day shipping like it's nobody's business. Those days when I realize Adalin only has 20 diapers left, or those days when I realize that we need to do our family photos ASAP and we don't have everything we need... Amazon is there.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this list :)

God Bless ♥ V

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Amy's Cute Creations Review

*This is a sponsored review. I received a discount in product price in exchange for an honest review and photos of the product. These opinions are my own and are not censored by the sponsor.

Recently I had the privilege of working with Amy's Cute Creations. I'll start by saying that Amy is awesome. Those of you who know me personally know that my daughter is slightly extremely obsessed with Curious George. She has too many monkeys to count. Last year, we had a crocheted giraffe hat for her, since Mommy was a tad obsessed. This year, it only seemed fitting that we get a monkey one. I found Amy's page  through a friend of mine on Facebook. I sent her a message showing her the kind of hat that I was hoping to get, and she went to work!

A mere eight days later, she had it ready to go! She sent me these photos:

It really is as amazing as it looks. Not only did she match the flower to Miss A's coat, but it also fits her perfectly. It's warm, and my little hat-hater actually keeps it on! I was worried about keeping her ears warm while we went back to Michigan for Christmas this year, but my fears have completely vanished since she has started wearing this hat around the house pretty frequently. To be completely honest, sometimes I hide it from her because I don't want her to hide it from me.

Here are some of the photos I took for Amy: 

Overall, I give Amy's Cute Creations an A in my book!