Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Ho, Ho, Ho!
Here I am with Nanny and Papaw on Christmas Eve (with baby Santa!)

First Christmas Present

Since my brother and his wife aren't going to be able to join us for Christmas, they came into town early to visit. And with them came Laurel's first Christmas present. She's never opened a gift before, so we weren't sure how she'd react. As the pictures show, she knew exactly what to do with that shiny paper!



Thanks Uncle Daniel and Aunt Amy for some great presents!!

Baby, It's Cold Outside

This weekend we received almost 10 inches of snow in our corner of Northeast Tennessee, which is very rare, so we took full advantage of it by introducing Laurel. She wasn't too big a fan of getting all bundled up, but did pretty well once we were actually outside.
Here she is in her pretty white bunting, which we didn't think we'd have a chance to use.
We were really blessed that my brother Daniel and his wife, Amy, could make the trek from Charlotte, so we met them at my parents' house. Considering that they're both engineers, a construction project soon developed in the wonderfully packable snowfall.
Here's dad, Daniel, Amy and Tim inside the boat, fort, thing... Talks are resuming about possibly making it a full-fledged igloo soon.
And here's our home fully decked out for a White Christmas.

Christmas Fluff

Tim, Laurel and I are tucked in here at the house on a very snowy night. There's already more than eight inches of snow on the ground and more is expected through tomorrow. Laurel has been saying "dada," "mom" and "nana" and now she says "tree." She loves our Christmas tree, along with all of the lights and decorations in our house. She has also started pointing at everything.

Now, without further adieu, her highness:

Miss Laurel and the Christmas Tree

The house is now fully decorated for Christmas, including a completely kid-friendly tree (at least we hope!) Laurel loves the lights and the ornaments. I probably tell Tim at least ten times a day how much I love our house at Christmas. And it's true. The soft glow of the Christmas tree, the sparkle from the the ornaments and the stockings on the fireplace put me in the Christmas spirit. (And that's our cat Shelby watching from the back.)

video

The Sweetest Word

Laurel is definitely in the babbling stage. Her highness prefers an audience, but if one is not to be found, she is quite content to chat up her toys, the cats, the walls...you get the point. For about a month now she has been saying "Dada" (or some variation of it). A couple weeks ago she started with "Nana." Through all of this I've cheered and grinned and encouraged, patiently waiting for my own time in the spotlight.

And finally last night she walked up to the couch I was sitting on, looked up at me, and very clearly said, "Mom."

It was worth the wait.

Walk This Way

We've been absolutely amazed at how quickly Laurel has seemed to improve with walking. Now she's all but running!

video

We had a great Thanksgiving and hope you did, too!

Hopefully on the Mend

Laurel hasn't felt very good since Saturday. She just cut a top tooth, so we thought that was it. Sleep has been elusive for all of us, and she started running a low grade fever and resisting nursing. When we took her to the pediatrician today we got our answer - a sore throat. She's taking antibiotics and will hopefully be able to join in the Thanksgiving festivities tomorrow.

Steps (and bruises)

This week Laurel took her first steps. Considering that she only started crawling ten days before that, we were a little surprised. However, she's loved standing since she was about three months old.

In addition to her first steps, she's also gotten her first bruises (and even a little bump on her forehead). I think our sweet baby girl is going to be quite the daredevil, we're already telling her "Slow down! Walk, don't run!"

video

Edited to add - No babies were hurt during the filming of this video. (And yes, it does look like she took quite a spill, but she just went down on her hands.)

A Gnome, I am

For Laurel's first Halloween, she dressed up as a Garden Gnome. After a battle at first, she even kept her hat on for awhile. The weather was cold and drizzly, so we didn't get to do much Trick-or-Treating, but she did visit the grandparents and some friends.
This past week she turned nine months. She had her doctors appointment and was 27 1/2 inches long and 18 pounds, 14 ounces (in the 50th percentile for both).

Developmentally she's doing great. She's crawling a lot now and pulling up on everything. She is getting really good at mimicking sounds and actions (like clapping and waving bye-bye). Here are some shots of her demonstrating those new-found skills.


The Great Laundry Experiment

When Tim and I decided to do cloth diapers, we also chose to start making our own laundry soap to clean them with because we knew we would be doing a lot more laundry. The cost of making your own soap is just a fraction of the cost of buying detergent, and we’ve found that it works just as well. Soon after we started using our cloth diaper soap recipe, we tried making liquid laundry detergent for the rest of our clothes. So far, so good.

A few of our friends have asked for our tips and recipes, so here they are:

Cloth diaper soap recipe:
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda
1 cup Oxyclean (original)

Cloth diaper laundering:
-Store soiled diapers in a dry pail (shaking out any solids if necessary)
-Wash every 2 – 3 days
-Run diapers on a rinse cycle on large load setting
-Wash diapers on hot cycle with 1 tablespoon laundry soap
-Add ½ - 1 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle
-Dry diapers

Liquid laundry soap recipe:
4 cups hot water
1 bar Fels Naptha soap (finely grated)
1 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda
½ cup Borax
-Add grated soap to saucepan with 4 cups water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted (will take awhile).
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken (will look kind of like snot).
-OPTIONAL - you can add 10-15 drops of an essential oil per 2 gallons to scent the soap (I've not tried this yet because I'm still trying to figure out what I want our clothes to smell like).
-When you’re ready to use the soap, fill a laundry detergent container half with laundry soap and half with water. Shake before each use. Use a half cup to 5/8 cup of soap for each load. Use ½ - 1 cup vinegar in rinse cycle.

Making your own laundry soap sounds like a huge hassle, but it has really not been a big deal. You make such a big batch at a time that it lasts for months. I would recommend it to anyone looking to trim their household budget a little or trying to be a little greener (we use the same laundry detergent container over and over).

Fun in the Sun

We just got back from a great trip to Florida for our good friend Tommy's wedding. Laurel got to experience her first plane ride, and she did fantastic! She once again amazed us with her great behavior all weekend. Here's her outfit for the wedding rehearsal and dinner.

We also spent a lot of time at the pool and in the ocean. She's such a water baby.
Tim was one of Tommy's groomsmen. Doesn't he look handsome?

And despite the fact that she'd had a really long weekend and was exhausted, Laurel saved enough energy to party it up at the reception!
Towards the end of the reception I put her back in the sling so that we could start saying bye to everyone. Within minutes she was out like a light.

Best wishes to Tommy and Alli for a wonderful future together!

Eight is great!

Laurel is eight months old today. Her favorite things right now are pulling up and walking around. She is around 27 inches long and probably about 19 pounds. She's got one tooth and is still really resistant to eating solids. We are breastfeeding and that's where 99% of her nutrition comes from. She is a sweet, silly girl, and my life is so much fuller because of her.

Here she is getting a massage from mommy. Ahh, to be a baby...

Toothy

Laurel has her first tooth. She was a little cranky last night, but I didn't really think about it. And now she has a little tooth that has popped through (her bottom right tooth). Yay Laurel!

Check out my crib

Laurel's newest trick is pulling up in her crib and walking around the inside of it. She likes to stand up, but she is pretty cautious when she's on the floor. She seems to know that it won't hurt as much if she falls on her crib mattress, so she's a lot more daring there.

Garage Baby

Now that Laurel is so much more aware of her surroundings and so much stronger (pulling up on everything!) she is really enjoying spending more time with Daddy. He loves to walk her around the house and yard. Tonight they took a trip out to his garage. He was showing Laurel all of his projects. He even let her "drive."

This is her fire truck pedal car that Daddy ordered for her from Ebay. (All I can think is tetanus, but I'm trying not to be too overprotective.)
Here's Laurel in the MG (a '72 Midget). Love the serious expression.
So far, she loves visiting the garage with daddy.

Surprise 3.0

Yesterday was Tim's 30th birthday. I threw him a surprise party. The shocking part is that he didn't find out beforehand. We were joined by lots of friends and family. It was a blast! Thanks to everyone who helped pull it off.
While we are still proceeding with solids, it's mostly just playing rather than eating. The other day I tried avocado. Laurel seemed to have fun sticking her hands in it and chewing on her spoon. She did get a few bites in her mouth!

Pray for Peas

Laurel has continued to pretty flat out refuse solids. We've done bananas, rice cereal, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and now peas. She will occasionally accept a bite, but for the most part she gets lock jaw and gags.

Tonight we tried peas for the first time. She is really into grabbing at everything right now, so she kept trying to get the spoon. After about five minutes of trying to put peas into a slammed-shut mouth, I suggested letting her hold the spoon. So Tim would get a little bit on the end of the spoon and then let her grab a hold of it. He would keep ahold of the end of the spoon, but let her guide it into her mouth. We were both shocked when she opened up and just put the spoon right in. She still made a few faces, but she ate much more than she's ever eaten before.

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it a million more times before Laurel is grown, but parenting demands improvisation. Before she was born, I thought I could learn everything I needed to know about parenting from books. Believe me, parenting is the ultimate on-the-job-training.

While Laurel's not too crazy about eating solids, she LOVES bathtime. Tim and I usually switch off giving her a bath (she usually takes 3 a week). She loves to splash and squirm. Lately, she's been standing up and holding onto the side (usually so she can talk to one of our cats.)


And daddy styled her hair a la Bozo.

First Walk in the Ergo

We finally got an Ergo baby carrier, so tonight we took our first walk. Laurel started on my back and fell asleep within ten minutes. She napped for about 45 minutes and then woke up when we stopped to visit a neighbor. She did really well both in the back and front carry.

Beach Babe

Tim and I love visiting the ocean, and we hope that it is a love that we can share with Laurel. So on Monday, we took her to Folly Beach, SC. She did amazingly well (even when she got splashed in the face with a pretty big wave). However, after eating, she was too distracted by the wind and other people to settle down and take a nap, so we didn't get to stay very long.
Today (August 12th), Laurel had her six month checkup and shots. She did pretty well with the shots and has been only moderately fussy today. She weighed 17 pounds, 10 ounces, which put her in the 75th percentile for girls her age, and she was 26 inches long, which is the 50th percentile. Her head measurement was in the 80th percentile, so I'm glad to know that her brain is getting nice and big!

She did quite well on the trip back from Charleston, but I think we're all glad to be back home for awhile.

I have a sister!

My little brother Daniel got married Saturday. It was a gorgeous wedding with a gorgeous couple. Tim and I were in the wedding party and had a wonderful time. Laurel had a blast and was the second prettiest girl there (next to the beautiful bride, of course). It was one of the most fun weddings I've been to, and I'm so glad to get a sister out of the deal.

Daddy picked out the hair accessory for our sweet girl.
Aren't they adorable?
C-L-E-M-S-O-N
Look at the white girl jump!
Yes, I was crying a little.

Wedding, and then the Beach!

Laurel will be getting a new aunt on Saturday when my brother Daniel marries his college sweetheart, Amy. We are so excited to welcome her into the family, and I know this weekend will be lots of fun. We're heading to Greenville, South Carolina, where they will be getting married downtown by the riverside.

Sunday is mine and Tim's sixth wedding anniversary, so we are going to stay with a friend in Charleston for a few days. (Plus, we visited Charleston while on our honeymoon). It seems unbelievable that we've been married that long. It has been a very happy six years and has gone by so quickly. It will be so special seeing my little brother get married, and I know it will bring back so many wonderful memories of my own wedding more than half a decade ago.

I cannot wait to see what Laurel thinks of the ocean and the sand. She loves water in a bath or pool, but this will be such a new experience. I hope she loves it as much as her parents do.

My baby brother Aaron came back from Florida a few days ago and will be staying at mom and dad's until he returns to school in September. Here's a shot of him and Laurel getting reacquainted.

And here's Laurel sitting up (her new favorite skill) and playing with Pink Poodle, one of her favorite toys. Couldn't you just eat up those chubby little arms?

Happy Half Birthday!

Today is Laurel's half birthday! It is unbelievable to me how much she has changed in the past six months. She is sitting up now and grabbing everything in sight. She is growing and learning new things each day!

We are still breastfeeding, and it is going great. Not with a little reluctance, I agreed with Tim to start slowly introducing solid food this week. With suggestions and articles from http://www.kellymom.com/, we decided to start with banana mixed with breastmilk, hoping it might be an easier transition since it would be sweet, like the milk she was used to.

This is the face we saw both Sunday and Monday when we attempted it. She seemed pretty confused by the whole eating thing. She would open her mouth for the spoon, but then when the food touched her tongue, she would spit it all out. I think she did swallow a little, but not much. We will give bananas one more try tonight and then probably move on to avocado in a few days.

Good News

At the election commission meeting tonight they voted to keep me in my current position. Thank God and thanks to all of you who prayed for Tim and me.

And for fun, here are some new pictures of Laurel (which I know is the real reason people look at this blog!)



So is she eating "real food" yet?

People ask this question fairly often now, and while I know it is asked with good intentions, I can't help but grimace on the inside. Laurel is still exclusively breastfed and will be until she is at least six months old. This is a decision based on recommendations from the following organizations:

  • World Health Organization
  • UNICEF
  • US Department of Health & Human Services
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Dietetic Association

Yet, most people seem to think that breastmilk isn't "real food" and that it won't sustain a baby past three or four months. Every family has to look at the research and do what works for their family, but here are the reasons that we are delaying solids. (Most of this information comes from http://www.kellymom.com/ and http://www.askdrsears.com/)

Delaying solids gives baby greater protection from illness.

Although babies continue to receive many immunities from breastmilk for as long as they nurse, the greatest immunity occurs while a baby is exclusively breastfed. Breastmilk contains 50+ known immune factors, and probably many more that are still unknown.

Delaying solids gives baby's digestive system time to mature.

If solids are started before a baby's system is ready to handle them, they are poorly digested and may cause unpleasant reactions (digestive upset, gas, constipation, etc.). Protein digestion is incomplete in infancy.

Delaying solids decreases the risk of food allergies. (particularly important to us because both Tim and I have some food allergies)

It is well documented that prolonged exclusive breastfeeding results in a lower incidence of food allergies. From birth until somewhere between four and six months of age, babies possess what is often referred to as an "open gut." This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream. This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby's bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too. During baby's first 4-6 months, while the gut is still "open," antibodies (sIgA) from breastmilk coat baby's digestive tract and provide passive immunity, reducing the likelihood of illness and allergic reactions before gut closure occurs. Baby starts producing these antibodies on his own at around 6 months, and gut closure should have occurred by this time also.

Delaying solids helps to protect baby from future obesity.

The early introduction of solids is associated with increased body fat and weight in childhood.

Delaying solids helps mom to maintain her milk supply.

Studies have shown that for a young baby solids replace milk in a baby's diet - they do not add to baby's total intake. The more solids that baby eats, the less milk he takes from mom, and less milk taken from mom means less milk production. Babies who eat lots of solids or who start solids early tend to wean prematurely.

Delaying solids allow babies to lose the tongue-thrust reflex.

In the first four months the tongue thrust reflex protects the infant against choking. When any unusual substance is placed on the tongue, it automatically protrudes outward rather than back. Between four and six months this reflex gradually diminishes, giving the glob of cereal a fighting chance of making it from the tongue to the tummy.

These are some of the reasons that we will be waiting until Laurel is at least six months old to try solid foods.

First trip out of state

Considering that we live 15 minutes from North Carolina and 45 minutes from Virginia, you'd think one of those would be the first state that Laurel would get to visit. But no. After two days of driving and 500 miles, yesterday we drove across the Mississippi River into Arkansas. I'm at a work conference here in Memphis so she has been spending lots of quality time with her daddy! They have taken several trips along Beale Street, visited Graceland and I joined them in visiting the National Civil Rights Museum and the Lorraine Motel.

Here are some pictures:




Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Ho, Ho, Ho!
Here I am with Nanny and Papaw on Christmas Eve (with baby Santa!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

First Christmas Present

Since my brother and his wife aren't going to be able to join us for Christmas, they came into town early to visit. And with them came Laurel's first Christmas present. She's never opened a gift before, so we weren't sure how she'd react. As the pictures show, she knew exactly what to do with that shiny paper!



Thanks Uncle Daniel and Aunt Amy for some great presents!!

Baby, It's Cold Outside

This weekend we received almost 10 inches of snow in our corner of Northeast Tennessee, which is very rare, so we took full advantage of it by introducing Laurel. She wasn't too big a fan of getting all bundled up, but did pretty well once we were actually outside.
Here she is in her pretty white bunting, which we didn't think we'd have a chance to use.
We were really blessed that my brother Daniel and his wife, Amy, could make the trek from Charlotte, so we met them at my parents' house. Considering that they're both engineers, a construction project soon developed in the wonderfully packable snowfall.
Here's dad, Daniel, Amy and Tim inside the boat, fort, thing... Talks are resuming about possibly making it a full-fledged igloo soon.
And here's our home fully decked out for a White Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Fluff

Tim, Laurel and I are tucked in here at the house on a very snowy night. There's already more than eight inches of snow on the ground and more is expected through tomorrow. Laurel has been saying "dada," "mom" and "nana" and now she says "tree." She loves our Christmas tree, along with all of the lights and decorations in our house. She has also started pointing at everything.

Now, without further adieu, her highness:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Miss Laurel and the Christmas Tree

The house is now fully decorated for Christmas, including a completely kid-friendly tree (at least we hope!) Laurel loves the lights and the ornaments. I probably tell Tim at least ten times a day how much I love our house at Christmas. And it's true. The soft glow of the Christmas tree, the sparkle from the the ornaments and the stockings on the fireplace put me in the Christmas spirit. (And that's our cat Shelby watching from the back.)

video

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Sweetest Word

Laurel is definitely in the babbling stage. Her highness prefers an audience, but if one is not to be found, she is quite content to chat up her toys, the cats, the walls...you get the point. For about a month now she has been saying "Dada" (or some variation of it). A couple weeks ago she started with "Nana." Through all of this I've cheered and grinned and encouraged, patiently waiting for my own time in the spotlight.

And finally last night she walked up to the couch I was sitting on, looked up at me, and very clearly said, "Mom."

It was worth the wait.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Walk This Way

We've been absolutely amazed at how quickly Laurel has seemed to improve with walking. Now she's all but running!

video

We had a great Thanksgiving and hope you did, too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hopefully on the Mend

Laurel hasn't felt very good since Saturday. She just cut a top tooth, so we thought that was it. Sleep has been elusive for all of us, and she started running a low grade fever and resisting nursing. When we took her to the pediatrician today we got our answer - a sore throat. She's taking antibiotics and will hopefully be able to join in the Thanksgiving festivities tomorrow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Steps (and bruises)

This week Laurel took her first steps. Considering that she only started crawling ten days before that, we were a little surprised. However, she's loved standing since she was about three months old.

In addition to her first steps, she's also gotten her first bruises (and even a little bump on her forehead). I think our sweet baby girl is going to be quite the daredevil, we're already telling her "Slow down! Walk, don't run!"

video

Edited to add - No babies were hurt during the filming of this video. (And yes, it does look like she took quite a spill, but she just went down on her hands.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Gnome, I am

For Laurel's first Halloween, she dressed up as a Garden Gnome. After a battle at first, she even kept her hat on for awhile. The weather was cold and drizzly, so we didn't get to do much Trick-or-Treating, but she did visit the grandparents and some friends.
This past week she turned nine months. She had her doctors appointment and was 27 1/2 inches long and 18 pounds, 14 ounces (in the 50th percentile for both).

Developmentally she's doing great. She's crawling a lot now and pulling up on everything. She is getting really good at mimicking sounds and actions (like clapping and waving bye-bye). Here are some shots of her demonstrating those new-found skills.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Great Laundry Experiment

When Tim and I decided to do cloth diapers, we also chose to start making our own laundry soap to clean them with because we knew we would be doing a lot more laundry. The cost of making your own soap is just a fraction of the cost of buying detergent, and we’ve found that it works just as well. Soon after we started using our cloth diaper soap recipe, we tried making liquid laundry detergent for the rest of our clothes. So far, so good.

A few of our friends have asked for our tips and recipes, so here they are:

Cloth diaper soap recipe:
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda
1 cup Oxyclean (original)

Cloth diaper laundering:
-Store soiled diapers in a dry pail (shaking out any solids if necessary)
-Wash every 2 – 3 days
-Run diapers on a rinse cycle on large load setting
-Wash diapers on hot cycle with 1 tablespoon laundry soap
-Add ½ - 1 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle
-Dry diapers

Liquid laundry soap recipe:
4 cups hot water
1 bar Fels Naptha soap (finely grated)
1 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda
½ cup Borax
-Add grated soap to saucepan with 4 cups water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted (will take awhile).
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken (will look kind of like snot).
-OPTIONAL - you can add 10-15 drops of an essential oil per 2 gallons to scent the soap (I've not tried this yet because I'm still trying to figure out what I want our clothes to smell like).
-When you’re ready to use the soap, fill a laundry detergent container half with laundry soap and half with water. Shake before each use. Use a half cup to 5/8 cup of soap for each load. Use ½ - 1 cup vinegar in rinse cycle.

Making your own laundry soap sounds like a huge hassle, but it has really not been a big deal. You make such a big batch at a time that it lasts for months. I would recommend it to anyone looking to trim their household budget a little or trying to be a little greener (we use the same laundry detergent container over and over).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fun in the Sun

We just got back from a great trip to Florida for our good friend Tommy's wedding. Laurel got to experience her first plane ride, and she did fantastic! She once again amazed us with her great behavior all weekend. Here's her outfit for the wedding rehearsal and dinner.

We also spent a lot of time at the pool and in the ocean. She's such a water baby.
Tim was one of Tommy's groomsmen. Doesn't he look handsome?

And despite the fact that she'd had a really long weekend and was exhausted, Laurel saved enough energy to party it up at the reception!
Towards the end of the reception I put her back in the sling so that we could start saying bye to everyone. Within minutes she was out like a light.

Best wishes to Tommy and Alli for a wonderful future together!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eight is great!

Laurel is eight months old today. Her favorite things right now are pulling up and walking around. She is around 27 inches long and probably about 19 pounds. She's got one tooth and is still really resistant to eating solids. We are breastfeeding and that's where 99% of her nutrition comes from. She is a sweet, silly girl, and my life is so much fuller because of her.

Here she is getting a massage from mommy. Ahh, to be a baby...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Toothy

Laurel has her first tooth. She was a little cranky last night, but I didn't really think about it. And now she has a little tooth that has popped through (her bottom right tooth). Yay Laurel!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Check out my crib

Laurel's newest trick is pulling up in her crib and walking around the inside of it. She likes to stand up, but she is pretty cautious when she's on the floor. She seems to know that it won't hurt as much if she falls on her crib mattress, so she's a lot more daring there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Garage Baby

Now that Laurel is so much more aware of her surroundings and so much stronger (pulling up on everything!) she is really enjoying spending more time with Daddy. He loves to walk her around the house and yard. Tonight they took a trip out to his garage. He was showing Laurel all of his projects. He even let her "drive."

This is her fire truck pedal car that Daddy ordered for her from Ebay. (All I can think is tetanus, but I'm trying not to be too overprotective.)
Here's Laurel in the MG (a '72 Midget). Love the serious expression.
So far, she loves visiting the garage with daddy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Surprise 3.0

Yesterday was Tim's 30th birthday. I threw him a surprise party. The shocking part is that he didn't find out beforehand. We were joined by lots of friends and family. It was a blast! Thanks to everyone who helped pull it off.
While we are still proceeding with solids, it's mostly just playing rather than eating. The other day I tried avocado. Laurel seemed to have fun sticking her hands in it and chewing on her spoon. She did get a few bites in her mouth!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pray for Peas

Laurel has continued to pretty flat out refuse solids. We've done bananas, rice cereal, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots and now peas. She will occasionally accept a bite, but for the most part she gets lock jaw and gags.

Tonight we tried peas for the first time. She is really into grabbing at everything right now, so she kept trying to get the spoon. After about five minutes of trying to put peas into a slammed-shut mouth, I suggested letting her hold the spoon. So Tim would get a little bit on the end of the spoon and then let her grab a hold of it. He would keep ahold of the end of the spoon, but let her guide it into her mouth. We were both shocked when she opened up and just put the spoon right in. She still made a few faces, but she ate much more than she's ever eaten before.

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it a million more times before Laurel is grown, but parenting demands improvisation. Before she was born, I thought I could learn everything I needed to know about parenting from books. Believe me, parenting is the ultimate on-the-job-training.

While Laurel's not too crazy about eating solids, she LOVES bathtime. Tim and I usually switch off giving her a bath (she usually takes 3 a week). She loves to splash and squirm. Lately, she's been standing up and holding onto the side (usually so she can talk to one of our cats.)


And daddy styled her hair a la Bozo.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

First Walk in the Ergo

We finally got an Ergo baby carrier, so tonight we took our first walk. Laurel started on my back and fell asleep within ten minutes. She napped for about 45 minutes and then woke up when we stopped to visit a neighbor. She did really well both in the back and front carry.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beach Babe

Tim and I love visiting the ocean, and we hope that it is a love that we can share with Laurel. So on Monday, we took her to Folly Beach, SC. She did amazingly well (even when she got splashed in the face with a pretty big wave). However, after eating, she was too distracted by the wind and other people to settle down and take a nap, so we didn't get to stay very long.
Today (August 12th), Laurel had her six month checkup and shots. She did pretty well with the shots and has been only moderately fussy today. She weighed 17 pounds, 10 ounces, which put her in the 75th percentile for girls her age, and she was 26 inches long, which is the 50th percentile. Her head measurement was in the 80th percentile, so I'm glad to know that her brain is getting nice and big!

She did quite well on the trip back from Charleston, but I think we're all glad to be back home for awhile.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I have a sister!

My little brother Daniel got married Saturday. It was a gorgeous wedding with a gorgeous couple. Tim and I were in the wedding party and had a wonderful time. Laurel had a blast and was the second prettiest girl there (next to the beautiful bride, of course). It was one of the most fun weddings I've been to, and I'm so glad to get a sister out of the deal.

Daddy picked out the hair accessory for our sweet girl.
Aren't they adorable?
C-L-E-M-S-O-N
Look at the white girl jump!
Yes, I was crying a little.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wedding, and then the Beach!

Laurel will be getting a new aunt on Saturday when my brother Daniel marries his college sweetheart, Amy. We are so excited to welcome her into the family, and I know this weekend will be lots of fun. We're heading to Greenville, South Carolina, where they will be getting married downtown by the riverside.

Sunday is mine and Tim's sixth wedding anniversary, so we are going to stay with a friend in Charleston for a few days. (Plus, we visited Charleston while on our honeymoon). It seems unbelievable that we've been married that long. It has been a very happy six years and has gone by so quickly. It will be so special seeing my little brother get married, and I know it will bring back so many wonderful memories of my own wedding more than half a decade ago.

I cannot wait to see what Laurel thinks of the ocean and the sand. She loves water in a bath or pool, but this will be such a new experience. I hope she loves it as much as her parents do.

My baby brother Aaron came back from Florida a few days ago and will be staying at mom and dad's until he returns to school in September. Here's a shot of him and Laurel getting reacquainted.

And here's Laurel sitting up (her new favorite skill) and playing with Pink Poodle, one of her favorite toys. Couldn't you just eat up those chubby little arms?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy Half Birthday!

Today is Laurel's half birthday! It is unbelievable to me how much she has changed in the past six months. She is sitting up now and grabbing everything in sight. She is growing and learning new things each day!

We are still breastfeeding, and it is going great. Not with a little reluctance, I agreed with Tim to start slowly introducing solid food this week. With suggestions and articles from http://www.kellymom.com/, we decided to start with banana mixed with breastmilk, hoping it might be an easier transition since it would be sweet, like the milk she was used to.

This is the face we saw both Sunday and Monday when we attempted it. She seemed pretty confused by the whole eating thing. She would open her mouth for the spoon, but then when the food touched her tongue, she would spit it all out. I think she did swallow a little, but not much. We will give bananas one more try tonight and then probably move on to avocado in a few days.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Good News

At the election commission meeting tonight they voted to keep me in my current position. Thank God and thanks to all of you who prayed for Tim and me.

And for fun, here are some new pictures of Laurel (which I know is the real reason people look at this blog!)



Thursday, July 9, 2009

So is she eating "real food" yet?

People ask this question fairly often now, and while I know it is asked with good intentions, I can't help but grimace on the inside. Laurel is still exclusively breastfed and will be until she is at least six months old. This is a decision based on recommendations from the following organizations:

  • World Health Organization
  • UNICEF
  • US Department of Health & Human Services
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Dietetic Association

Yet, most people seem to think that breastmilk isn't "real food" and that it won't sustain a baby past three or four months. Every family has to look at the research and do what works for their family, but here are the reasons that we are delaying solids. (Most of this information comes from http://www.kellymom.com/ and http://www.askdrsears.com/)

Delaying solids gives baby greater protection from illness.

Although babies continue to receive many immunities from breastmilk for as long as they nurse, the greatest immunity occurs while a baby is exclusively breastfed. Breastmilk contains 50+ known immune factors, and probably many more that are still unknown.

Delaying solids gives baby's digestive system time to mature.

If solids are started before a baby's system is ready to handle them, they are poorly digested and may cause unpleasant reactions (digestive upset, gas, constipation, etc.). Protein digestion is incomplete in infancy.

Delaying solids decreases the risk of food allergies. (particularly important to us because both Tim and I have some food allergies)

It is well documented that prolonged exclusive breastfeeding results in a lower incidence of food allergies. From birth until somewhere between four and six months of age, babies possess what is often referred to as an "open gut." This means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream. This is great for your breastfed baby as it allows beneficial antibodies in breastmilk to pass more directly into baby's bloodstream, but it also means that large proteins from other foods (which may predispose baby to allergies) and disease-causing pathogens can pass right through, too. During baby's first 4-6 months, while the gut is still "open," antibodies (sIgA) from breastmilk coat baby's digestive tract and provide passive immunity, reducing the likelihood of illness and allergic reactions before gut closure occurs. Baby starts producing these antibodies on his own at around 6 months, and gut closure should have occurred by this time also.

Delaying solids helps to protect baby from future obesity.

The early introduction of solids is associated with increased body fat and weight in childhood.

Delaying solids helps mom to maintain her milk supply.

Studies have shown that for a young baby solids replace milk in a baby's diet - they do not add to baby's total intake. The more solids that baby eats, the less milk he takes from mom, and less milk taken from mom means less milk production. Babies who eat lots of solids or who start solids early tend to wean prematurely.

Delaying solids allow babies to lose the tongue-thrust reflex.

In the first four months the tongue thrust reflex protects the infant against choking. When any unusual substance is placed on the tongue, it automatically protrudes outward rather than back. Between four and six months this reflex gradually diminishes, giving the glob of cereal a fighting chance of making it from the tongue to the tummy.

These are some of the reasons that we will be waiting until Laurel is at least six months old to try solid foods.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

First trip out of state

Considering that we live 15 minutes from North Carolina and 45 minutes from Virginia, you'd think one of those would be the first state that Laurel would get to visit. But no. After two days of driving and 500 miles, yesterday we drove across the Mississippi River into Arkansas. I'm at a work conference here in Memphis so she has been spending lots of quality time with her daddy! They have taken several trips along Beale Street, visited Graceland and I joined them in visiting the National Civil Rights Museum and the Lorraine Motel.

Here are some pictures:




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