Wednesday, May 30, 2012

2012 Book 17: Baby Led Weaning

As we approached Jack turning six months old, we began to think more about introducing food. I had read a couple of things online about Baby Led Weaning and my interest was peaked. Then a friend from high school wrote a blog post detailing her experience with this process and I was even more interested {it helps to come across people you know verses random strangers on the internet}.

Armed with some basic knowledge, I decided to order the book, Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby to Love Good Food by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett. This book is an easy read and it really made sense to me. Daniel and I have a very laid back approach to parenting and the thought of skipping baby purees and special baby food sounded very much like something we would be interested in. 

I finished reading the book right before we had Jack's six month baby well check up. I was pretty sure that our doctor would have no idea about this approach {we live in rural Alabama} and I was right. Thankfully she wasn't totally against it, though she did say her biggest concern {and ours} is the possibility of choking and the need for iron.

Anyway, we decided to move forward with the process and so far so good. I will be writing a follow-up post in a few months once we have been doing this for awhile.

Basically Baby-Led Weaning is a process that allows your baby to explore food and learn about textures and tastes in lieu of spoon feeding or starting with purees or mush. You give your child finger foods {that are soft} and you let them explore the food while you observe.

We had a couple of moments of not being sure if Jack was gagging {normal response} or choking, but so far he is really taking to it. We have tried avocado and oatmeal. Next up is bananas or sweet potatoes.

Excerpts from the book:
Babies who are allowed to feed themselves learn about the look, smell, taste and texture of different foods, and how different flavors work together; with spoon-feeding all the tastes are pureed into one.

Being in control of how much and how quickly he eats not only makes the meal more enjoyable for him, but means that the baby is able to recognize more easily when he is full. 

...coughing and sputtering that look and sound alarming are actually signs that the baby is dealing with the problem. By contrast, a baby who is truly choking is usually silent – because no air can get past the blockage.

When a baby puts a piece of food into his mouth himself, he is in control of it. If he is able to chew it, he will. If he is able to get it to the back of his throat, he'll swallow it. If he isn't able to do these things then, as long as he is upright, the food will simply fall out. Allowing a baby to feed himself means that he in control – and having control helps to keep him safe.

Early self-feeding is about exploration and learning.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Milkshake, please?!?!?

Jack was bound and determined to share our Cookies and Cream Milkshake at Red Robin today.

Unfortunately for him, milkshakes are not on his list of approved foods.

We did let him share some ice water though.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Menu Monday

To kick off the week, I plan on making my favorite peach cobbler – there aren't many recipes I repeat, but this is one of them. It is that good. I picked up some fresh peaches from our local Farmer Market {it drives me crazy that this is not possessive, i.e. Farmer's Market}. They smell so good and I can't wait to have them in cobbler tonight. Recipe from Pink Parsley.

On the menu for this week...


Grocery Night... this is kind of becoming our new norm.
We will be eating leftover Baked Chicken Parmesan with some kind of veggie.

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Cilantro Slaw
{recipe adapted from Centsational Girl}

Meat Loaf Minis with Roasted Potatoes
{recipe from Tracey's Culinary Adventures}

Crispy SouthWest Chicken Wraps
{recipes from Mel's Kitchen Cafe via Pinterest}

Date Night

White Pizza with Chicken and Fresh Herbs
{recipe from Pink Parsley}

Black Bean and Corn Baked Potatoes
{recipes from via Pinterest}

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Monte Sano, Part II

Back in April we tried our first day hike with Jack and it was a failure success, depending on how you looked at it. Today we went back to Monte Sano and had a much better experience.

First off we decided to skip out on taking Sophie. As much as we love our dog, she tends to add an extra layer of difficulty. Any day other than Sunday, we can take her with us, but our Sunday's are just not dog friendly.

Second, we tried to do a better job of adjusting our kid carrier in the parking lot. We also continued to adjust it on the trail since Jack seems to lean to the left. Unfortunately this gives me terrible sciatic nerve pain in my right hip. We will have to keep working on this. I think once he is bigger he will sit more naturally centered in the pack.

Third, we had no trouble finding our trailhead. We were just dummies in April. Bad moods made us stupid. The hike was lovely – all in the woods. Actually perfect for mountain biking {though we won't be doing that any time soon with an infant}. I love views, and since it is early summer, the views are minimal thanks to all of the full, green trees. I am sure the views are amazing in winter, but for now I will have to be content with a walk in the woods.

Fourth, Jack did pretty well. He got fussy about halfway into our 3-mile hike. Then he conked out and slept all of the way back to the car. My hip was hurting pretty badly towards the end of the hike {see above}. Also, I have come to the conclusion that after ten years I believe it is time to retire my beloved hiking boots and get a new pair. Those things have seen a lot of miles on many different trails in many states. I will be sad to say goodbye to them.

Finally, Daniel and I were in much better spirits on this hike. It was a bit warm, but the shade kept us cool. It is nice to be hiking again. Not sure how many hikes we can squeeze in before it is too hot for Jack. But today was nice.

Trail Stats:
Monte Sano State Park
Huntsville, Alabama
South Plateau Trail to Fire Tower Connector Trail
3 miles
Flat hiking, some rocks and roots. Well maintained trail. Nice and wide. Would be perfect for mountain biking with kids in the future. Views would be much better in the winter.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Shriner's Fish Fry

I mentioned before that we are trying to be more active in participating in community events. Sometimes our "community" is Chattanooga {my recent 5K} and sometimes it is Huntsville {where we attend church}. But most of our time is spent in Hollywood or Scottsboro and when we see a sign advertising a local event, we are making efforts to go {like attending the Horse Whisperer back in March}.

This month's cultural local event was the annual Jackson County Shriner's Fish Fry and Car Show. We had intended to go last year, but I think that we were out of town. The event was at City Park in Scottsboro and free to attend. 

There were various booths – mostly local artists/crafters. The cars were a main attraction, though it was a small show. Our favorite was an old red Ford Bronco in pristine condition. There was a '93 Toyota Tacoma that was Daniel's dream car when he was 13 {note the year}. 

Our favorite were the little motorcyles... 

and a corvette that was hauling a small trailer.

We decided that we should set up our own booth because Jack was an attraction on his own... While we were stopped to get shaved ice, everyone that walked by stopped to say hi to our little one. It helps that he grins at ANYONE.

For kids they had the big jumpy things {I am such a great parent that I don't even know what they are called!}. The best part is they are free. You could also fish for free – the city even provided fishing poles for a kid's fishing tournament. We thought that was pretty cool. 

Finally we made it over to the fish fry. For $14 we received two plates of food and cokes and were able to support a good cause. The food was tasty and the people were friendly. One of the volunteers told us that while the Shriner's are known for helping children who have suffered burns, they also help with orthopedic problems and things like cleft palate.

We enjoyed our Saturday morning/afternoon. Thankfully we went earlier in the day because a storm with really heavy rain moved through this afternoon and it would have been miserable to get caught in that kind of downpour with Jack in tow!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

See Jack {early May 2012}

This is an ongoing series of videos that I am sharing so that our extended family can keep up with how Jack is growing and changing in these early years.

Jack is still working on rolling over. 
He can do it, but it is hard to catch him in the act... 
especially if Sophie is around to distract him.
{early May}

See Jack in the tub. Bath time is becoming more fun these days.
{early May}

See Jack as he becomes more fascinated with our cups and trying to drink out of them. When he manages to get liquid in his mouth I think he is a bit shocked at the coldness and taste of water.
{early May}

Thursday Things (Things I Have Learned Since Graduating from College)

Things I Have Learned Since Graduating from College

Ten years ago, I graduated from college. The path my life has taken is not one I would have ever expected. Here are a few things that I have learned along the way...

1. You can plan all you want but your life probably isn't going to turn out how you envisioned.

2. Getting a degree an education matters more than your actual field of study. Case in point: I have a B.S. in Fine Art {I don't think I have met anyone with this particular degree} but I have managed to work as a graphic designer and a teacher and now I am a mom who freelances from home.

3. You will spend the majority of your life doing your "job." If you happen to be one of the select few who gets to do what they absolutely love every day, awesome. For the rest of us, figure out what you are passionate about and make sure you spend some of your free time pursuing that passion. This will go a long way towards making your life more fulfilling.

4. Make sure you have someone in your life who will encourage you – your spouse, a close family member or friend. Everyone needs a cheerleader for when the going gets tough.

5. At some point, it's going to get tough. Bad things happen... People will mistreat you... you may lose your job... or have to move... you may experience a divorce in your family... sickness... death... All of these things are a part of life. These experiences will probably be very painful. Accept them and keep moving forward.

6. Don't dwell in the past. Live your life today. Don't hold grudges or be bitter. That kind of attitude is toxic. Along these same lines, recognize when you make mistakes. Don't keep reliving those mistakes. Make a change in yourself and do the best you can to be a better person. Try to treat everyone you meet with love and respect.

7. Figure out your finances. Get out of debt asap. As the Dave Ramsey mantra states: “If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” 

8. Never stop learning. 

9. Develop a hobby. Volunteer. Learn how to cook or paint or cross stitch. Go take a hike. Start running or train for a triathlon. Develop a love of books or movies. Do something that is just for you. You need at least one thing that is yours alone. Your happiness should not be wrapped up solely in another person or another person's hobbies. Along with this, don't compare yourself to those around you. Blogs, Facebook and Pinterest make it look like everyone else lives amazing lives and has it together. Believe me, they don't.

10. Be thankful every day. There are no guarantees of tomorrow. Don't waste your life wishing you had someone else' life. The grass is always greener where it is watered... get out there and water your own grass.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2012 Book 16: Handle with Prayer

I never thought I would like e-Readers, but I don't think I would get any reading accomplished without mine.

I just finished Handle with Prayer by Charles Stanley. I will be the first to admit that at times my prayers seem stale. Often my prayers become mundane and I find myself drifting in my thoughts. I make it a point to be thankful every day, but I don't think I do a good job of praying purposefully. I thought this book provided some useful instruction on how to pray and how to think about prayer. 

Excerpts from the book:

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. —Jeremiah 33:1–3

...not one shred of scriptural evidence shows that God will say yes to all of our prayers just because we’re living right. God is sovereign. He has the right to say no according to His infinite wisdom, regardless of our goodness.

...attempts to manipulate God defeat the whole purpose of Christianity..

God is more interested in our character, our future, and our sanctification than He is in our momentary satisfaction. His answers are always an act of grace, motivated by His love. 
...we often pray burdenless prayers. We repeat the same old requests over and over, but with no heart or sense of urgency.
Only when we stop everything and become quiet do we give God the chance to tell us what He is burdening us about.

People who are hurting need to know they are being prayed for. is foolish for us to complain when God doesn’t answer certain prayers. Since His decisions are in our best interests, we should never try to talk Him into giving us what He has already said we cannot have.

Feelings and circumstances change, but God never changes.

If we are not careful, God becomes a means to an end. But God desires to be the end; it is His desire that we seek Him and Him alone.  

God will allow certain difficulties to surround us, but always with our best interests at heart. When we become critical of our circumstances, we become critical of God. And when we become critical of Him, we are putting more faith in our wisdom than in His.  

None of these prayers are to be based on personal likes or dislikes, but rather on our desire for peace and godliness for all mankind.

We pray vague prayers with no specific blessings in mind.

...too often, people will give us advice for our spiritual battles, but they won’t give of their time in prayer.

When the church of Jesus Christ was born, it was born in the midst of the heathen empire of Rome. Two thousand years later in America, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is again in the midst of a heathen empire. It is a capitalistic empire that is anti-God; it is a system whose god is humanism. Its philosophy declares that man is sufficient within himself to meet his own needs. The church is surrounded by a system that denies there is a God. Man is his own god. 

...if we don’t enter into the warfare of prayer, we will never fulfill God’s plan for our lives. If we don’t pray, we serve no purpose in God’s framework of eternity.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Menu Monday

Hamburger Quessadillas with Spinach and Fruit Salad that we had last week.  
{recipe adapted from Gina's Skinny Taste}

Spinach and Fruit Salad is my new fave. Which is odd since the thought 
of a green smoothie totally grosses me out... 
I guess I need to convince myself that it would be the same thing as this salad, just colder.

On the menu for this week...

 Grocery Night... this is kind of becoming our new norm, which = eat out.

 Grilled BBQ Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

 Orange Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs with Rice and Asparagus 
 Sweet Potato Burger with Zucchini Chips 
{recipes from and Vittles and Bits via Pinterest}

Date Night

 Smoky Spice Rubbed Grilled Salmon with Black Beans and Corn 
{recipe from Gina's Skinny Taste}

 Chicken Parmesan Baked Pasta with Roasted Vegetables 
{recipe from Pink Parsley}

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

For my first Mother's Day I told Daniel that I wanted to go hiking. Since it rained all day that was a no go. Instead we went to Cantino Laredo for lunch where we shared Fajitas.

After lunch I treated myself to a little shopping at Old Navy before meeting up with Daniel at Barnes and Noble where we shared a Venti Vanilla Latte and Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake.

I feel so blessed to be Jack's mom. I can't believe it has been six months since he entered our lives!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Round the Rim – 5K

I have discovered that the best way for me to get motivated to run is to sign up for a race. I use the term "race" loosely as I don't really consider myself to be racing, more like I am attending an organized running event. I am just thankful for the ability to run, albeit at my tortoise-like pace.

About two weeks ago I noticed on Facebook that a friend had signed up for the Round the Rim 5K at Raccoon Mountain and I thought, "I should totally sign up for that."

In true Cheree fashion, I didn't have make time to train and before I knew it, I only had a week to get in a few runs. Not wanting to show up completely unprepared, I somehow managed to squeeze in four runs last week and then rested yesterday.

Logistically speaking, getting to this race was a bit of a challenge.

1) We live in Central time. The race was located in Eastern.
2) You have to show up 30 minutes early for this race because they close access to the rim for the safety of the runners.
3) I have a 6-month old baby. Did I mention that he is still nursing full time {i.e. I have never pumped or given him a bottle}?

Here is an overview of how we dealt with the logistics and how my run went. 

1) Daniel graciously agreed to get up at 4:50 am Central with me in order to drive me to the race. There were several reasons for him to go: He is used to getting up early for work. He could drive when I was exhausted {before and after}. He could watch Jack so I wouldn't have to push Jack in the stroller. *I actually train with Jack in the stroller, but the thought of pushing Jack up a hill that lasted for 0.4 miles was a daunting one.

2) Getting to the course by the cutoff time meant that we had to leave our house by 5:15am CST. I'm not gonna lie, this was tough.

3) Since we left so early we woke Jack up for a quick diaper change and stuck him in the car. We hoped that he could wait until Chattanooga to eat. We arrived at the starting point of the race by 7:20am EST and I nursed Jack in the car while Daniel went to find my running packet. This actually worked out really well. Jack hung out in the stroller with Daniel while I ran and then he napped when we went to eat breakfast at Cracker Barrel, post race. I had to feed him in the car one last time before heading home, but it really wasn't too difficult to make work. By the time we got home we were all ready for naps.

As for the actual run... my main goals were to 1) not walk at all and 2) to finish before the first 10K person did. I met both of these goals.

Kicking off the race was a long hill that lasted for about a half a mile with 110 ft of elevation gain. Not fun. Once we reached the top of the hill, it was a full mile of flat running on the rim. And then you finish with a downhill. It was a truly beautiful run with views of the Tennessee Valley Gorge and the Raccoon Mountain Reservoir. To top it off, the weather was perfect: cool and no humidity.

Toward the end of my race, I was getting tired when the song, Another One Bites The Dust, came on my iPod. When you are tired, this is a terrible song to listen to. It would have been different if I was passing people, but for a few minutes I felt like I was going to be the one biting the dust.

As for finishing before the 10K. I did it. Just barely. The winner of the 10K came in right behind me. But I am cool with that. I know that am a slow runner and I am just thankful to be able to get out and run a 5K, six months after giving birth.

Thank you Daniel for making today possible! For being my personal cheerleader and giving up sleep on your only day to sleep in this week!

And for letting me indulge in breakfast at Cracker Barrel after my run!

When I got home, I checked MapMyRun to see the actual distance. According to MMR, it seemed to be more like 3.5 miles instead of 3.1. All I gotta say is that the middle mile seemed kind of long to me...

My race results: gun time was 38:18 and net {real} time was 37:58.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Jack is Six Months

Happy Half Year Birthday Jack!!!

At the beginning of this month, we had success with sleep training after two nights. By the last day of the month Jack actually slept for 11 hours straight – a new record for him.

In addition to good sleep, Jack has progressed to waking up happy. He plays quietly until I get him out of his crib, instead of crying and wanting to be fed. Stat.


He also started scooting around in his crib this month. He has managed to turn completely sideways on several occasions and even got his leg stuck through the slats once. We have officially installed the bumper to prevent any kind of injury {and the loss of pacifiers}. He has also started to scoot when we lay him on the floor on his tummy. I am sure he will be crawling before long {definitely before we are ready}.

He no longer needs the aid of a pacifier to fall asleep. Mostly he just takes it out of his mouth and amuses himself by waving it around and trying to stick it back in. He would much rather suck his thumb than the paci. Not sure if this is a good thing. 


I have learned that if I stick the paci in his hand instead of his mouth, he will play with it, putting it in and out of his mouth, until he falls asleep. He is pretty dexterous and I think that he will have no problem shoveling food into his mouth once we start down that path.

Thumb sucking is now an intentional thing. I don't know why, but this totally melts my heart.

Jack has been trying to roll over all month, but he didn't seem to be in a huge hurry to actually complete a roll. On 4/27/12 he finally managed to do it – Daniel and I were both there to watch :) As the days passed he has become more proficient at this and by the end of the month he was using his new prowess to sleep on his side/belly.

Jack loves to make spitting sounds - he seems to think it is greatest thing in the world. Screeching is another new sound he has discovered. It is really funny {unless you have a headache}. 


We have been nervous about him screeching during church, but he is more interested in watching everything around him than he is in making noise {at least for now}.

Almost every time we take him out in public, people ask us if he is always this good :) We are blessed to have a very laid back, happy baby.

This month marked his first time to go to Bible class...

his first time to attend a graduation...

his first time to visit a Rescue Mission to serve lunch...

and his first time to display signs of separation anxiety.

During this month Jack became very distracted while eating. This was a bit of a challenge for about two weeks... I wasn't sure if he was actually getting enough to eat. He is dying to get his hands on real food and loves to sit in our laps during dinner and try to touch our cups. He also enjoys hanging out in his high chair watching us cook and at the dinner table. I think meal time fascinates him.

Jack has been making a "ma-ma-ma" sound for some time now. I don't know that he is actually saying "mama" but when he is upset, it is what he repeats over and over. 

Our little guy figured out how to give us wet, slobbery kisses. He thinks it is great fun. We think it is really sweet {and funny}. 

Jack now recognizes Sophie and watches her every move. He is also very interested in touching her. Sophie is pretty tolerant of his petting {which is more like grabbing fist fulls of fur – we supervise this}. She has come a LONG way!!! Sophie also seems to be protective of Jack, always checking on him. Poor girl is torn about where to sleep since Jack is now sleeping in his nursery upstairs. She divides her time between sleeping on the futon beside his bedroom or downstairs with us.

Happy six months Jack! We love you and are so thankful to have you in our lives! It is going by so quickly.

*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. Five Months Old.

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...