Monday, April 30, 2012

I would walk 500 miles (April Recap)

I managed to eek out 11.56 miles this month... ran, walked and hiked. This challenge has continued to be a hard commitment for me to devote time to.

This past Saturday was the Music City Marathon in Nashville. I thought about all of the training I committed to last year and how I ran the half marathon last year while 12 weeks pregnant. In that single day I accumulated more mileage than I have been able to squeeze out of a single month this year. It is kind of depressing.

Right now exercising and finding time for myself have fallen to the very bottom of my list of priorities. That is the season of my life. I think the important thing is that I am still trying. Will I make it to 500 this year? It is looking doubtful. If I can make exercise a priority again, I am hoping to make it to 250. Only time will tell.

4.38 miles in January >> 6.66 miles in February >> 11.66 in March >> 11.56 in April >> 34.36 ytd

Saturday, April 28, 2012

2012 Book 14: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Book 14 for the year was a difficult read. You know how when you read a book like Uncle Tom's Cabin you get caught up in the drama of escape. You kind of forget {or ignore} that the people this story is talking about were property. Human property, who were treated in terrible ways.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself by Harriet Ann Jacobs offers none of the romanticism of a novel. It is a gritty {though still probably toned down} account of one woman's experience as a piece of property. She does manage to escape, but she provides incite into what it was really like. Even then, her experience was probably mild compared to those of many others who were truly brutalized {or killed}. Especially compared to those who couldn't escape and those who were never able to obtain an education.

Yes slavery is in the past, but after reading this book I truly believe that we continue to experience the repercussions that slavery has had on the American family. 

Slavery and oppression are evil. 
Keeping humans as property is evil. 
Treating women like sex toys is evil. 

It is not a pretty story. Sadly this type of evil still happens in our world today. It may take a different form, but women around the world still experience this type of oppression. Read Half the Sky if you are curious about the treatment of women throughout the world today...

Excerpts from the book:
...liberty is more valuable than life.
I admit that the black man is inferior. But what is it that makes him so? It is the ignorance in which white men compel him to live; it is the torturing whip that lashes manhood out of him...

...what mockery it is for a slave mother to try to pray back her dying child to life! Death is better than slavery. the burying-ground of the slaves. "There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor; the servant is free from his master."
...the laws allowed him to be out in the free air, while I, guiltless of crime, was pent up here, as the only means of avoiding the cruelties the laws allowed him to inflict upon me! 

Sometimes I thought God was a compassionate Father, who would forgive my sins for the sake of my sufferings. At other times, it seemed to me there was no justice or mercy in the divine government. I asked why the curse of slavery was permitted to exist, and why I had been so persecuted and wronged from youth upward. These things took the shape of mystery, which is to this day not so clear to my soul as I trust it will be hereafter. 

I was naturally of a confiding disposition, but slavery had made me suspicious of every body.
There are no bonds so strong as those which are formed by suffering together.

...finding I was resolved to stand up for my rights, they concluded to treat me well. Let every colored man and woman do this, and eventually we shall cease to be trampled under foot by our oppressors.

Friend! It is a common word, often lightly used. Like other good and beautiful things, it may be tarnished by careless handling; but when I speak of Mrs. Bruce as my friend, the word is sacred.

...the idea of having been bought was always galling to a spirit that could never acknowledge itself to be a chattel.

"I thank you for your kind expressions in regard to my freedom; but the freedom I had before the money was paid was dearer to me. God gave me that freedom; but man put God's image in the scales with the paltry sum of three hundred dollars. I served for my liberty as faithfully as Jacob served for Rachel. At the end, he had large possessions; but I was robbed of my victory; I was obliged to resign my crown, to rid myself of a tyrant."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thursday Things (Random, April 2012)

1. It crossed my mind that working mom's must live crazy, busy lives.* Then it dawned on me... most working moms use daycare or babysitters to supplement the care of their children. No wonder I have been so exhausted lately. 30+hr work {at home} work week's plus simultaneously taking care of a 5-month-old is tough. I am so glad that this is not my normal. If it was, I would definitely have to look into child care.

*I totally respect moms that are making the whole working thing work.

2. I was finally able to catch my breath this week. That means I actually cooked meals and went for a run. It helps that the little sickness I picked up last week has finally passed.

Grilled Sesame Ginger Salmon with Sauteed Asparagus, Rice and a Strawberry Spinach Salad

3. On my run yesterday, a family of geese hissed at me. The parents didn't want me near their little goslings. I shouted and clapped my hands back at them. The thought of geese attacking me or worse, attacking the stroller with Jack in it, did not give me warm, fuzzy feelings.

4. Jack has been sleeping through the night this week. Then last nigh he woke up at 2am, starving. After a week of uninterrupted sleep, it was tough... I hope he doesn't do that again.

5. Since Jack is sleeping through the night, we are on the hunt for good cloth diapers that won't leak when left unchanged for 8-12 hours. If you use CD, feel free to weigh in with your personal faves.

Monday, April 23, 2012

2012 Book 13: The Pig in the Pantry

I have no idea what our plans will be regarding schooling for Jack. That is several years away. But that doesn't mean that I don't think about our options from time to time. I believe that the school system in America is failing, even while there are amazing teachers out there, politics get in the way.

My overall belief in schooling is that parents have much influence in how much their children learn. If it is important to parents, it will become important to their children. What kids learn in schools should be augmented by their parents. Learning should be fostered regardless of where your child "goes" to learn. 

Education is important to Daniel and I, but we also see the value of hands-on, non-book learning as well as sitting in a classroom learning...

My most recent book choice was The Pig in the Pantry: and Other Homeschool Tales by Rose Godfrey. It was an interestingly look into a very large family that has chosen to homeschool and farm. It brings humor into the everyday life and provides an intriguing glimpse into the possibilities when choosing to homeschool.

I have no idea if we will choose to go this route. I do know that we will always encourage all types of learning styles with Jack and any other children we may have.

Excerpts from the book:
With government money comes government strings.
...institutionalized, mass-market education cannot meet the unique needs of each child. 

"...mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent." – Erich Fromm

"...never let my schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain 

I like to use cooking as a sneaky way to teach math. Teaching measurement and fractions just seems easier when there is a cookie at the end of the lesson.

We hope to expose our children to a variety of physical activities, and we hope to cultivate in them a love of fitness. We can’t inspire them if we are sitting on the couch ourselves. If nothing else, my efforts should teach them about persistence. And I keep moving now, slowly, with joints creaking and muscles screaming. I keep after my goal. I run now because my children are watching.
Kids learn things when they want to know the answers. 

...socialization with all age groups reduces the peer pressure and the crushing need for conformity so many children feel. Expecting a child to benefit from social skills modeled only by children is setting them up for failure.
The family dinner that used to be a part of American society has largely fallen by the wayside in favor of careers, activities and screen time. People strive to save every minute and every penny in order to rush home to heavily-mortgaged houses, heat up microwave dinners and use what was saved to pay for more channels than anyone can watch. The time for a family dinner is spent in front of a computer screen, communicating via social networking sites with people they don’t care enough about to invite over for a real dinner.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Our First Day Hike... post having a child

Daniel and I have been meaning to go on a day hike with Jack for some time now. However, life keeps getting in the way. We recently had a conversation where we came to the conclusion that since we became homeowners {Fall 2005} we have had little time to do the things we truly love.

When we were first married, we had all the time in the world, but little funds. Our mutual love of the outdoors and proximity to many hiking trails paved the way for many fun weekends hiking and sleeping under the stars.

Then we grew up a little. We bought our first home and spent five long years renovating it. In hindsight, it was a great experience, but we {temporarily} gave up many of our hobbies so that we could coax our little fixer upper into a home that we loved {which we then sold so we could move due to a lay off}. Now we have more funds, but seemingly less and less time to devote to our hobbies.

All of that to say: we have decided that we need to start being intentional about using our precious time to do the things we love. There will always be a new thing that needs to be done around the house. The lawn will always feel like it needs to be mowed. The dishes and laundry won't ever do themselves. But for now, we have agreed to make a concerted effort to do something fun together at least once a month. 

We want to enjoy our lives now. Not wait until we retire. Also we want to pass along our passion for the outdoors to our son. I guess it is fitting that we kicked off our "day of outdoor fun" on Earth Day...

Last night we checked the weather and decided Sunday would be perfect for a hike in Huntsville. This morning we packed all of our gear, our son and our dog into the Subaru. Somehow we made it out the door by 8:05am and to church by 9am. Thankfully it was cool enough to leave Sophie in the car during church.

After church, we made a pit stop at Five Guys to fuel up on burgers and fries – the perfect diet for hiking??? At least we didn't have to feel guilty eating it since we were going to be burning extra calories.

Once lunch was finished, we drove to Monte Sano for a little adventure. It was supposed to be fun. The weather was perfect. We had our favorite dog and our favorite little boy with us and we were going to do something we both loved.

Here's the reality: 
Sophie whined all day about being stuck in a car. 
Jack fussed once we got to the trailhead and needed to be fed and changed. 
Daniel and I both had to change clothes in the car. 
We couldn't find our trailhead.
Sophie continued to whine on the trail because we weren't going fast enough and we kept stopping to check the {unhelpful} map.
We couldn't seem to find the trail we wanted to be on. All of the connector trails we came across were on the "wrong side of the map." {We are actually very good at orienteering, but the map was so so and we were both growing impatient with Sophie which clouded our judgement}.
We never did get on the right trail. 
The wind picked up and Jack got cold and fussy...
I sang The Wheels on the Bus and Daniel threatened to not hike beside me.
So many things {seemingly} conspired against us that we found ourselves snapping at each other and at Sophie when we should have been exuberant to be out hiking.

Life is never going to be perfect. We did a 3-mile hike with our little one. It wasn't exactly what we hoped for and we spent part of the time being snippy. But the thing is, we got out and did something we both really love. Deep down anyways. I think we just need to keep doing it. Sophie is not always going to whine. We will have good days and bad. But we need to be out on the trails and breathing in the fresh air of God's creation. We plan to go back. 

Especially now that we know where the right trailhead is!

We also can't wait to bring our bikes here. The trails for biking will be so much fun – some are even kid {baby} friendly.

On a separate note, here is a quick overview of the Deuter Kid Comfort Carrier II:
We borrowed this from my sister who used it to take their 2-year-old to Ireland.
Overall I really liked it. The shoulder straps and hip belt are really cushy. Deuter does a good job in designing their packs so they don't rest right up against your back – great air flow, so you back isn't completely soaked in sweat.

There are a ton of pockets, which will be great for longer hikes {especially as Jack gets bigger and needs snacks and toys}.

It was a little big for Jack, but he rode in it comfortably. We really should have tested/adjusted the straps at home. Trying to fit it to Jack in the parking lot was a mistake on our end.

Jack fell asleep while we hiked and we never worried about him falling out or his head bobbing around.

The only negative is that when you adjust the torso to the longest setting, it was still too short for Daniel. That means I get the joy of carrying Jack. {This was actually not too bad of a deal for me since Daniel carried a Deuter day pack with our water and extras... it probably weighed at least as much as Jack}.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

something gave...

 Daniel and I always joke that I just sit around and eat bon bons all day. 
I tease him that he just sits around and eats bon bons on the weekends.
Last week I wrote about being so busy that something was going to have to give {at the time, the give was housekeeping, groceries, exercise, etc.}. Well then something really did give.

I got sick.

After two nights of sleep training my little one and one night of staying up until 3am to finish a project for a client, I woke up with a sore throat. I could barely swallow. At least I wasn't achy. But I definitely didn't feel well.

By day two with a sore throat, I happened to look in the mirror and noticed a white spot on my uvula. I texted my sister to see if she would advise seeing a doctor {I HATE going to the doctor}. Since I have a baby at home, she suggested I go to the doctor, especially since white spots could indicate strep.

I heeded her advice and scheduled an appointment with my doctor. One great thing about living in a small town is that I got in right away. 

Getting your throat swabbed has to be one of the worst experiences ever. It makes me gag and is almost impossible for me to relax enough to let them do it {my dad told me he once had to get a shot in his uvula!!! I don't think I would be capable of sitting still long enough for someone to stick a needle down my throat}.

The doctor was very friendly and told me I didn't have strep, but I did have an ulcer on my uvula. He said my body was probably just stressed and this was it's way of showing it. He went ahead and prescribed me antibiotics to prevent it from becoming strep. 

When I left the doctors, I noticed that the sheet with my prognosis said "acute pharyngitis." I went home and googled pharyngitis. Basically it is doctor's speak for "sore throat." 

In addition to the meds, I have been trying various home remedies. 
  • I leaned my head back and shook salt into my throat...
  • I licked a spoon covered in honey with 1/4 tsp of tumeric mixed in {this just turned my toothbrush yellow later that day}...
  • I drank broth that I made by simmering an onion and a whole garlic...
  • Several times a day I make hot tea with honey and lemon...
  • I eat popsicles and ice cream at regular intervals {these are the only things that soothe the pain}...

I will be thankful when this sore throat goes away. In the meantime I am enjoying ice cream and popsicles with every meal and am extremely thankful that Jack has taken to the sleep training and is sleeping through the night now. It is allowing me to catch up on some much needed rest.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Smoke House

On our way home from Nashville on Sunday, we decided to check out The Smoke House in Monteagle, Tennessee. We always see the signs and I believe Daniel's dad had even recommended it once.

On the way up the mountain, Daniel got in an argument with Siri that went something like this:
Daniel: I need directions to the Smoke House Restaurant in Monteagle.
Siri: I do not have information about Belaruse.
Daniel: The Smoke House Restaurant in MONT.EA.GLE. Tennessee.
Siri: There are 23 restaurants in Tennessee.
Daniel: The SMOKE.HOUSE. You sorry piece of crap!!!
Siri: I would blush if I could Daniel.
Daniel: You're not very smart.
Siri: I'm sorry you feel that way, Daniel.
Daniel: What's my name?
Siri: Daniel.
Cheree: What's my name? {for reference, it is my phone}
Siri: Daniel. ?!?!?
Daniel: Where were you made?
Siri: That is confidential.
Daniel: You are a useless technology.
Siri: I am sorry you feel that way.
Daniel: Who made you?
Siri: I was developed by Apple. In California.
Daniel: Were you manufactured by under aged children in deplorable working conditions?
Siri: I cannot answer that question.
They went on and on. The good news is that Siri kept us entertained and we were still able to find the Smoke House.

Thoughts on the restaurant... it was like a really big Cracker Barrel. But more rustic. 

The best part was that we were able to sit outside and it wasn't busy since it was a Sunday, early evening. On the Fridays and Saturdays they have live music and draw quite the crowd.

The food wasn't that good. We split a breakfast platter. The meats were really salty. The eggs were so so. The pancakes and biscuits were pretty good though.

Since we were splitting, I ordered a deep-fried pie with ice cream for dessert. We were hoping for the Chocolate pie, but they ended up being out :( I settled for the Apple Caramel. It was pretty good. But gave me a stomach ache {too much sugar??}.

I think Daniel and I need to stick with not going to touristy places. We do better finding local dives with really great food. In this case, I would have rather have just stopped at Cracker Barrel... maybe we would have felt differently if we went when there was music, but then we would have to deal with the crowds.

Bw Smokehouse Lodge on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2012 Book 12: Deedee Divine's Totally Skewed Guide to Life

Getting my weekly reads in is getting hard and harder. As evidenced by the fact that it is mid April and I am just at #12 for the year. Without Kindle, I would barely be reading onebook a month, so I am thankful for that little device. 

Deedee Divine's Totally Skewed Guide to Life by Diana Estill was my most recent book. Some compare her to Erma Bombeck. While amusing, I didn't make that connection. I found her experiences hard to relate to, probably because I come from a younger generation (though I find Erma Bombeck highly entertaining and she is from an even older generation).

Anyways, if you have some time to kill and want a light read about the nuances of life, you might want to give this book a go. It's kind of like watching a sitcom with a laugh track. Sure there are funny moments, but definitely not as funny as watching a true comedian. Besides, there are many blogs about day-to-day life that are much funnier to read...
Excerpts from the book:
Those who aren’t furious when they enter a supermarket often turn surly before they leave. And let’s face it, there’s nothing more dangerous than driving on streets occupied by disgruntled consumers armed with cantaloupes.
In accordance with the American Disabilities Act for Chronic Clippers, a special lane shall be made available for anyone who has five or more coupons.

Who was I to hold out myself as an expert? That is, on anything other than avoiding housework, taxes, and responsible journalism.
If consumers are the support beam of our economy, then shoddy merchandise must be the core foundation. Faulty products are, quite possibly, the top factor contributing to U.S. consumerism...
The laundry room, that last bastion of simplicity, had been mucked up by someone who thought consumers needed more cleaning options.
...when appliances start demanding to be accessorized, innovation has gone way too far.
I didn’t bother to point out that the most energy-saving clothes dryer wasn’t even in his department. It was on the rope aisle, and it sold for less than $20. In my parents’ day, it was called a clothesline.

Something's Got To Give

I have been missing from the land of blogging lately. Actually I have been MIA from a lot of things. Being a {new-ish} mom who also works as a freelance designer from home means that some weeks are crazy busy. Last week was one of those weeks. 

While I worked to meet tight deadlines to help a new client get ready for an upcoming trade show, groceries were not bought; dinners were not made; workouts were skipped; the house was not cleaned; books were not read; sleep was in short supply; and Daniel was left to fend for himself.

Somehow I managed to take care of my boy, but that is not a lifestyle I would want to maintain for any appreciable amount of time. 

I feel so blessed to be able to work from home with the flexibility to take on new work or turn down projects if my plate gets too full. I am still learning how to balance this new life of mine. I don't always get it right, but hope that I will get better at the balance part as I continue to navigate this new world of work-at-home-mom.


Up until recently we have not bothered to buckle Jack into any of his stationary seats {baby rocker, rock 'n play, high chair, etc.}. Last week I set Jack in his baby rocker while I got caught up on my emails. 

After a few distracted minutes, I looked up to see that Jack was no longer in the rocker.

He was on the floor.

Little guy had figured out how to thrust his little body until he wormed his way out of the chair! Thankfully it was only a four-inch drop to the floor and little guy was not bothered by the experience.

In the future, we will be sure to buckle our little one in.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jack is Five Months

Only one more month to go and Jack will be half a year old. Time is an interesting thing... it seems like it has been both forever and a blink of an eye.

At 4 months, 2 weeks Jack was 15 lbs (50th percentile), 25.5 inches (50th percentile) and his head still measured in the 95th percentile! His immunization shots seemed to go better this time around. 

His big noggin means he is in size 6-9 month clothes {at least for any type of onesie or shirt that has to be pulled over his head}. Also his 3-6 month footed jammies no longer fit. Our little guy is growing like a chubby weed.

He can hold his head up really well and during tummy time you can see him rocking side to side, like he is trying to turn over. However, I have a feeling he may stand up before he crawls, because of his continued dislike of tummy time.

Jack has a thing about wanting something covering his face when he sleeps. I let him do this and then as soon as he is asleep I make sure his air passages aren't covered. I'm thankful for baby monitors that monitor movement. It makes me feel better about this development.

Jack is grabbing things with more purpose. He loves to wave his toys around or bat at things that we have hung from his car seat or play gym.

Our little guy continues to drool like crazy and has taken to gnawing on teething toys, our fingers, or anything he can get his chubby little hands on (even cold cucumbers). Still no signs of teeth yet.

He continues to babble up a storm but refuses to talk on demand. He is most likely to chat away in the early mornings or late at night.

When we go out to eat, he wants to sit in one of our laps and he will try to reach out and grab our plates – he did manage to pull a basket of fries and burger to him when we were eating at Red Robin. He also watches our drinks with great curiosity. He looks like he is ready for food and cups, but we will wait to until 6 months to introduce any of that.

A new development during nursing sessions is that Jack wants my undivided attention. No more browsing the internet on my phone or reading a book on my Kindle or typing an email on my laptop. Little boy will stop eating, look straight at me with a very annoyed look on his face and wait until it is perfectly quiet to start nursing again. 

Jack loves people and will let anyone hold him. We put him in the nursery class at church (during Bible class time). He loved it. He did really well sitting up for 50 minutes, which we are excited about.

Easter was a few days before Jack turned 5 months. We were visiting some of Daniel's family to celebrate spring birthdays, and his Aunt Emily spoiled him with all sorts of goodies: super cute outfits and lots of books. His Nana and Great Grandmother also brought outfits and stuffed animals. This was all good since Daniel and I did not buy a single thing for our boy. I am sure there will come a time when we get him fun stuff, but he has plenty of other people to spoil him. We just enjoy loving on him as much as possible and feel very blessed to have him in our lives.

*I will be writing monthly updates of Jack with pictures of Jack and the Tonka truck on the 11th of each month. One Month Old. Two Months Old. Three Months Old. Four Months Old.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Pet Peeve

Me at a drive through: I would like a number four with a Dr. Pepper. That is all.
Person taking order: Was that a number four?
Me: Yes.
Them: What kind of drink?
Me: Dr. Pepper. ?!?!?!
Them: Will that be all?
Me (exasperated): Yes.

This happens all the time. I am going to just pretend that the economy is improving since people who don't pay attention (or just plain incompetent) are taking my fast food orders.

Thursday Things (Random, April 2012)

I like my electronic devices set to the brightest setting... Daniel likes his on the dimmest. 


Bangs are not for me. I like having a short hair cut, but bangs, not so much.


Are there rules about taking a baby out in a canoe? According to Outside Magazine, you can do it as soon as they can ride in a car... We have Jack's life vest. I think once he can sit on his own we may have to take him out.


Current shows we are watching via Netflix: Burn Notice, Top Gear (UK) and HIMYM. I was watching Downton Abbey (love) but Netflix only has season one (boo).

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

I would walk 500 miles (March Recap)

Third verse... same as the first... Trying to get the mileage in continues to be difficult. At this rate I think I can at least get to 250 miles by the end of the year. Hopefully I will pick up the pace soon.

It is easy to get side tracked though. Some days I would rather just hold my little boy than go running. However, I know that it is my best interest to exercise and it will be good for Jack to see his parents living out a healthy lifestyle.

Hopefully I can make up some of the mileage with biking in the near future.

4.38 miles in January >> 6.66 miles in February >> 11.66 in March >> 22.7 ytd

Monday, April 02, 2012

Menu Monday

Several years ago, I purchased a 3x4' chalkboard to hang in my kitchen. Thank you TJ Maxx HomeGoods Store. I always make a weekly meal plan, but having it displayed on the wall keeps me on track. Not to mention that it is an excellent conversation piece... mostly I get asked if I really cook what is on the menu/or is it just for show?

Monday: I had planned on Mediterranean Orzo Mac & Cheese, but Daniel's dad is coming for a quick, overnight visit and we are going to go out instead.

Tuesday: Texas Cheese Fries {recipe via Gina's Skinny Recipes}.

Wednesday: Vegetarian Cheese Tortellini Soup {recipe via Savor the Thyme}.

Thursday: Dijon Crusted Chicken with green beans and sweet potato straws {recipe via Clean Eating, Iron Mamas Style}.

Friday: Date Night

Saturday: We will be in Nashville to celebrate several birthday's in Daniel's family.

Sunday: Easter/still in Nashville.

Family Hike at Fiery Gizzard

On Saturday we had originally planned to go on a group hike on the Fiery Gizzard Trail , but it was cancelled at the last minutes. So...