Sunday, February 24, 2013


I love reading.  If you know me, you know I'm a total book addict and have been since I discovered A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle in the 3rd grade.  I remember escaping to her world of fantasy repeatedly those tough years we spent overseas in Germany and I was so lonely.  Books have saved me so many times.  They've always offered such a release and outlet for creativity and wonder.  Which, fortunately, hasn't left me after all these years.  

I have a new found love for my kindle and although I still love holding a bound book when I can, the convenience of having a book constantly ready to read anywhere on my iPad or phone, or the kindle itself when I remember to charge it, just cannot be any better for a book addict.  

But this isn't about that.  It's about how I am so very much looking forward to sharing books with Lloyd.  Already he loves to read, bringing you books all day and sitting patiently through his stories asking for more.  If he does, I'm constantly ready to grab another to read him.  I want so much for him to enjoy these stories and ideas.  I read him Marry Poppins, a book I had never read myself, a few months ago and he even liked me reading a long book although it didn't keep his interest as long.  Usually we'd read a shorter one before bed, then I would switch and read P.L. Travers and he'd fall asleep to Jane and Michael's crazy ways--which was just as lovely. 

But lately I've been itching to read him some of my favorite kids series and while I hate to watch him grow up so fast (SO fast), the day we can share these books is one I will really really enjoy.  In my head I already have the first few series I cannot wait to share together, so I though I'd list them here for you to check out. If you are like me and want to read, and one day share, with the kiddo's in your life.  Reading is truly a window into fantasy and creativity; I can't help but love it.
There are so many more, but these are the ones I'm most looking forward to. I love greek and roman mythology, the creative, and the totally wistful fiction of the above books.  Are there any you remember reading as a kid and loved?  I have so many I hope to share!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Truth: Dairy "free" Cheese

Man this has been a long journey.  Lloyd couldn't take any dairy in my breast milk for over a year because it caused such severe constipation, gas, projectile vomiting, and lack of sleep--so I went dairy free.  Which was enlightening.  Then we added some hard cheese into his diet and he stopped growing for almost 6 months. Took it out, sprouted almost 3" in 2 weeks immediately after it cleared his system and started sleeping better  My sister and mom had a history of dairy sensitivity but I never did.  

I finally went to see Lloyd's specialist last Tuesday and guess what he found? He literally looked at me and said "so you're telling me your mom couldn't drink milk or eat too much dairy, your sister didn't drink milk for almost 6 years, your son cannot have any dairy or dairy proteins, but you're mysteriously immune?" Insert ashamed face here.  Damn doctors and their knowledge.

Anywho I've learned a lot, even since breastfeeding.  Not all "dairy" free options are actually dairy free, they're just milk free.  Even goat cheese sometimes uses dairy enzymes which can mess you up.  Unless it says vegan it might (and probably does) still contain milk proteins and/or milk cultures.  Which I'd forgotten about since breastfeeding.  Spending $5 on a block of cheese that tastes like crap and isn't even dairy-free starts to piss you off after a while.  So here's what we've tried and is worth the ridiculous amount of money you have to pay to not have delicious moo-cow in your food. 

Daiya Cheeses (Mozzarella and Cheddar)
Vegan, Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Milk-Free (does not contain milk protein (Casein) or dairy-based enzymes), Soy-Free.  Decent. Melts really well, consistency is good. But has a strange, and powerful, smell--like cardboard to me or distant melting plastic baggies to my husband.  If its baked in something not so bad, and the cheddar is do-able on pizza. Not recommended if you have a sensitive preggo nose (if if your preggo nose never went away like moi).

Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, non-gmo (does not contain milk protein or dairy-based enzymes). Totally barfariffic. Bad texture, gag in your mouth flavor. And at $5 a block, a very very pricy mistake. Horrible crumbly spongy texture that gave it away without even tasting it. I threw up in the sink.  So... yeah.

Dairy-free (does not contain milk protein (Casein) or dairy-based enzymes), Gluten-Free. So far, the best option out there for sliced cheese.  It's somehow retained the slightly greasy flavor and texture of real cheese when melted. Only one to receive the husband's seal of approval.  So that, as you know, means more than just my "well I guess if I'm forced to eat it" resignation.

Contains milk proteins (casein), and says "no gluten" but does not say "gluten-free".  Pretty decent. But don't make the same mistake we did and buy it, feed it to your kid who has a severe dairy allergy and go "hmmm this tastes really good I guess I could deal with $5 a block" then look at the back more closely and notice that it's got Casein.  That was another fun 2 weeks of him crying and not sleeping and having horrible GI issues. Major mom fail.

Milk-Free (does not contain milk protein (Casein) or dairy-based enzymes).  The Tofutti brand seems to do a pretty good job at their products.  This was pretty good, we used it in a pasta dish with a lot of herbs and veggies.  Although something we've learned: to compensate for the fake cheese flavor is you need a bit more salt and we're a family who doesn't cook with salt, so that's been an adjustment that has helped significantly. Although general rule of thumb: do not use another fake cheese (say mozzarella  in combo with it) two fake cheeses do not combine well at all. One seems fine though.  

Milk-free (does not contain milk protein (Casein) or dairy-based enzymes), Gluten-Free.  Pretty decent in dips and recipes.  I am a freak and can eat real cream cheese by the spoon, so just remember to lower your expectations of any fake cheese/dairy product and cook/mix it in something with a lot of flavor.  Us dairy lovers just have to deal with not eating slices of cheese out of the fridge for snack.  Fail.  But it made tasty dip with extra herbs and a bit of salt (sensing a theme here?).

Milk-free (does not contain milk protein (Casein) or dairy-based enzymes), GMO-free. The cream cheese from this family was absolutely inedible, even for those of us who are used to the dairy-free cheese foods.  Totally went straight in the bin.   The sliced cheese is ok. Haven't seen or tried the shreds or "parmigiana" although I've been looking.  

Milk-free (does not contain milk protein (Casein) or dairy-based enzymes), GMO-free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free. These are decent but have a grainy texture. As long as they're hidden in a mountain of sandwich, you should be good. 

Galaxy Foods Veggie Cheeses (Cheese Slices and Shreds)
Lactose Free, Gluten-Free, Contains Milk Protein (Casein) and Milk enzymes. Pretty tasty.  Melts pretty well too.  Although please, if you are breast-feeding, do not make the mistake many of us have: this cheese contains Casein and milk enzymes.  You and your baby will be absolutely miserable and no one will sleep.  We had to figure it out the hard way that milk alternative cheeses do not mean that the major milk ingredient that causes diary intolerance sensitivity/allergy is not included in the ingredient.  It's also why they taste closer to real cheese; that milk enzyme really is yummy.  Easiest rule: look for vegan products and you know you will always be safe.  *Also, see product below.

Galaxy Foods Rice Cheeses (sandwich slices and shreds)
Contains Milk Protein (Casein), Lactose-Free, Soy-Free.  These are similar to the above ingredients.  The Jalapeno jack slices are really good, spicy and yummy.  But Lloyd paid the price for 2 weeks.  Two miserable, shamedful mommy, weeks since they contain Casein.  *Also, See Above.

I have one other brand in the fridge to try and a few goat cheese options, but these are the major brands you can find across the U.S. so I figured the most helpful.  Lloyd has always tollerated goat cheese but not all diary allergy kids and adults can eat goat cheese. It's an option for some, and we are lucky because it's pretty tasty.  I'll probably post a part two with the Trader Joe's brands since we just got one and they are popping up outside the east and west coast.  I'm hoping their shreds are edible.  

A few helpful hints for breast-feeders with diary intolerant babies:

  • Go straight vegan just for clarity when buying cheeses.  Otherwise you might, in your sleep-deprived and acid-reflux covered state, buy the wrong cheese and set yourself back another 2 weeks to get that little bit of milk protein out of your system.
  • The major brands you can even find at Kroger, are usually pretty decent.  The brands that are random at Sprouts/Whole Foods have a larger possibly of being truly inedible and making you mad you spent your money.
  • Don't give up, eventually you will stop craving so much cheese and get used to it.  The thing you usually are craving the most is something that your body usually has issues with too, studies are showing.  Plus eliminating diary will reduce your calorie content even more than you realize and your skinny pre-pregnancy jeans will be on (and probably baggy) in no time if you keep the breast-feeding up for any length of time.
  • Remember: it's two weeks out of your system and then two weeks out of your babies every time you slip up.  So a full month of acid-reflux, spit-up, crazy gas, diarrhea  and no sleep.  It's easier just to remove it and keep it removed for the duration.  Trust me.  Been there, kicked myself, cried myself to bed for the 30 minutes Lloyd would sleep at a time.  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent Sacrifice

I've been struggling so much with anxiety for the past few months. So much. If its not our plans for children (try again vs adopt), it is finances and horrible insurance (medical bills galore! Blue Cross SUCKS), or Coach finding a new job but not knowing where to look or what he'll qualify for since he's only ever been a teacher. So for lent I'm giving up something big. Huge.

For lent I'm going to do the hardest thing I can possibly do right now and hope it continues far past this small time period: loose my anxiety over our family, our finances, and our future. It doesn't seem to help anyway because His path is always unclear until we are living it. So here's to 40 days of true faith. This is going to be tough.

Feel free to hold me to it. Yeah, I'm already over my head.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

(Small) Tear

I would have been looking like this. And almost halfway.

Started treatment with a holistic doctor today.  Last try, last chance, all our cards on the table.  He would prefer we wait 6 months to get everything figured out and give my body rest after whatever he unearths.  But I feel trapped in this waiting game.  Waiting to try and get pregnant, waiting to get pregnant, waiting to loose a pregnancy, waiting to adopt.... I'm tired of waiting.

I want to DO. (No dirty jokes intended)

I want to feel like our family is going to be complete. Finally. Eventually.  And right now I have none of that in this crappy waiting period we are stuck in.

But he took me off dairy and gave me what I am referring to as my 'vagina supplements'. Gotta find a joke in there somewhere. Right?

And I really am in a pretty good place most days although I'm sure it doesn't come off as much here.  But things do set me back.  More than anything right now I'm dancing on my tippie-toes I'm so excited to be an Aunt in the coming weeks.  We fly out on the 26th and while I don't wish an induction on anyone, I not so secretly hope she's late and I get to be there. :) but either way, baby smooches soon! A new life is such a beautiful thing. A wondrous and beautiful thing. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

What We've Been Up To

In no particular order...

Dinosaur/Dragon Tails for Lloyd and and birthday boy Camden (who Lloyd is obsessed with and now likes to invade Mrs. Ashley's car so he can ride next to CamCam whenever possible. Including leaving church to meet them for lunch.  After which all we hear in our car on the way home is "ca cam ca cam ca cam...zzzzzzz" haha).  

Sewing up a car trash bag for both Caitlin and I.  I find it's so much easier to cut two sets of whatever I'm making then figure out what to do with the second.  
Making Curtains for the study/second child's room.  The window panels needed to be 9 feet in length to cover a top window in addition to the double window beneath it.  This fabric, you may remember, matches the quilt I made and finished a few months ago. Now I just have to slap some paint up there, put up the mounting hardware, and hang the suckers. Which requires a ladder. I also ironed and finished off the rest of the bias tape I needed to make the matching receiving blanket. It was a productive weekend for sure!

Lloyd's first trip to the zoo.  Three mommies with a total of eight kids.  The three youngest are all practically within days/weeks of each other and get along famously.  These are the women who have most recently saved my addled brain and made me definitely feel like less of a failure as a mom.  I met them through the Mothers of Ministry Sharing bible study at our church and am grateful every day that they are in my life.  They are such an amazing support system even though it's only been a few months that our friendships have existed.  So grateful.  (and yes, we do get a lot of looks with all those kids running around but they're all so amazing and well behaved)
 Date afternoons with my divine husband.  I love this man so much.
This "semester" of our bible study is following the teachings of Pope John Paul related to the "vocation of women".  It's incredibly hard to read but the teachings and his reverence of woman and our link to the bible is enlightening in today's society.  We've lost so much of what women, respect of women, wives, and mothers, are supposed to be.  It's nice (albeit hard to read if you're sleepy and/or distracted)
Home-made breads.  This challah recipe was really really good, and worth the time the 3 loafs took.  Yummie. Lloyd is a big fan of baking, he's great at measuring.  Really.
Wallpaper is coming down (almost finished after today).  Even these walls are down now.  Huge portions come off in full sheets, then others are adhered directly to the sheetrock and will have to be textured over because it damages the wall to remove it.  Gotta love it.  This is step 1.  Step 2: getting my Mom's dinning set here from Houston (found movers! yes!) so I can put our china in it, which is currently in the clothing armoire in the guest room and a kitchen cabinet taking up needed wall space. Step 3,: removing said ill-placed cabinet and midget desk that sits where the kitchen nook is (making it cramped and practically unusable).  Step 4: Texture walls and paint.  This is only 3 years past due.  *sigh* Hopefully, by Easter. That's my plan: walls finished and Seder dinner on mom's table.  Fingers crossed.
 Chevron Make-up bag for Lloyd's godmother/cousin/auntie Alexis.  Really easy and super cute!
Making home-made organic orange marmalade then using them to make Pioneer Woman's amazing sweet rolls.  6 pans of them.  I've got them in the freezer, gave some away, ate a whole bunch myself... man worth the time but next time... have something to bring them to! lol.

And of course, #1 job: making sure Lloyd gets enough cantaloupe. :)

Finally getting around to cross-stitching the outline for Coach's matching Christmas stocking.  This is, strangely, the most tedious part--copying one of ours and counting all those stitches so it looks identical but 20+ years newer.  Still deciding what to put on the stocking, but hey: progress!