Tuesday, December 21, 2010

11 Months Old

The little santa gnome scared Eli more than once while visiting Rob's Parents in South GA

The countdown to having a one year old begins.. I can't believe this time last year I was nesting, waddling and thinking it would be another 2 months before my little guy arrived.

It feels like I have a little boy now. He plays games, like yesterday when he picked 2 toys out of his basket and banged them together, smiled and then handed them to me to do the same. We passed them back and forth for quite some time. He LOVES to put things inside of other things and then take them out and then put them back. This amuses him for hours. Seriously, I think he does it all day. I found a box of dental floss, a tennis ball, and cheerio in my under the oven drawer last week.
lots of snow days here in East TN

He is way vocal and sings like a little chicken. He loves to "sing" along at church - so much so people stare :) He will finally repeat sounds that we make and babble along with me so that I no longer look like an idiot doing it by myself in the grocery. Peek-a-boo still rocks his world and is, in fact, the greatest thing ever. Although it should have a less-girlish name like, I'm-about-to-scare-your-face-off, as it involves hiding around corners and peeping out from behind doors. He's adventurous though cautious in his explorations. He loves to crawl through our legs and behind our backs when we're leaning up against the couch. He gives great hugs, snuggling in close and patting our backs.

He is pulling up and even walking along side the couch or his crib railing (while supposed to be napping). He'll take a step or two holding on to his walking toys, but I still feel like we're a couple months away from unassisted walking, which is fine with me! I am in no hurry for bi-ped baby. It's funny to see him try to sit from a standing position. He's learning to go down on knee then knee, but most of the time he just plops down on his bum from full standing. I fear he's going to give himself whiplash. Often times in the kitchen he'll pull up using my legs and then stand behind me holding onto my knees. This continues until someone falls; usually Eli.

Elijah has 4 teeth, weighs a little over 21 lbs and is very comfortable in 12-18 month clothes size. And the poor kid is ticklish everywhere; his giggles are so irresistible that I'm sure I tickle him way too much just to hear them. He just got another round of vaccines: DTAP and polio. We didn't have to do the 3rd round of HIB because it wasn't needed. I think we're all caught up with our vaccines as we won't start the MMR series until after his 1st birthday.

What's that? Cutest kid in the world you say? Yes, I agree.

House Hunt Ending

Yes, hopefully.

Early December we placed an offer on a little house in North Hills. We had a home inspection last Saturday and it looks like a lovely 4 bedroom/2 bath basement rancher could be ours in mid January. The process is quite yucky with Saturday searches, mortgages, inspections, counter offers, etc., but we have the best team known to man (great realtors, mortgage broker and inspector). We know all these people quite well because we have been trying to find our home since....summer. It's true... we've gotten our hearts broken a few times along the way, but I really feel like God stayed with us through this whole process and we're getting a great house, one we can really make our home.

We've gotten to know our realtors quite well (a retired oral surgeon and his wife) and they are by far some of Elijah's favorite people. If you're in the Knoxville area and need a house, seriously give Keith Allison a call. They have been wonderful sounding boards, given lots of advice and information, and on more than one occasion met us with little notice to look at houses on Saturday evenings. They will be some of our first house guests once we get settled in.

We absolutely LOVE the North Hills neighborhood. It's an established neighborhood with a hidden little park, walkable streets and friendly neighbors. I even already have a friend there, a mom who goes to the same baby bookworms at the library actually gave me a heads up that this house was available.

I have to admit that it was not love at first sight. This house is new construction (New construction in North Hills? Yes, a tree fell on the previous home and it had to be torn down to the floor joists!) and lacks the 'charm' of the older homes we were looking at. However, with the lack of charm comes the low maintenance of a new home and the benefit of a solid foundation of a 60s construction. And, I will be encouraged (forced) to cultivate my inner Martha to make this house warm and homey for us. I'm already dreaming about a Pergola on the large deck, front porch curtains, a mural in Eli's room and a leyland cyprus lined fence behind my veggie garden. I have so many little projects planned that I just can't wait to get started on. Craigslist is going to be my best friend. And I may have to start a regular blog post title--hundred dollar home makeovers.

Some things I love about our (hopeful) new house:
1. It has a large basement rec/family room I can use for my Bradley classes or on rainy days as a play area

2. We have a great place for our big IKEA dining room table

3. I can garden to my heart's content in the back yard, and once it's fenced in - let Eli run around while I lounge on the lower patio eating bon bons.

4. There is a utility sink in the laundry room
5. We have 3 bedrooms upstairs - ours, Eli's, and an office/sewing room.
6. The Kitchen, Living, and Dining areas are like one big open L-shaped space, so I can be with the family as I'm making breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks, snacks....

7. We can live energy/utility bill efficient and cozy in our small 1100 sqft upstairs while still being able to comfortably host using the downstairs 700 sqft master type suite and bonus room. So Welcome Guests!

The house is just a couple miles away from both prospective new church sites. It will be so nice to be so much closer to where are basically living - no longer having to drive 20 minutes to get...anywhere.

Right now we are still in the 10 - day inspection window and trying to decide between a 15 and 30 year mortgage. Our anticipated close date is the 21st of January, though it could be sooner if all our paper work goes through quickly during this holiday season.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Hartley Thanksgiving

Do you love when sitcoms begin at the end and work their way backwards? I do. So here goes. This is how our Thanksgiving weekend ended. Eli, completely pooped out in the back of the Tahoe. How did he get this way?

Well, we went carouseling at the Fantasy of Trees.

Attended the grand lighting of downtown Knoxville's Christmas Tree

Father and son did some serious bonding over fireworks.

Mom and baby picked out ornaments.

Saw the Holiday train exhibit at UT's garden. (It was awesome!)

Enjoyed some serious holiday family time.

Paused on Volunteer Landing for some family shots by the river.

And it all began with Thanksgiving Day lunch at Calhoun's on the River. Mmm. Nothing says Thanksgiving like some slow-roasted chicken, Spinach Maria and corn pudding. Yum. Here's the boy enjoying his first Turkey Day a la restaurant. We'll do a home for the holidays Thanksgiving when Eli's old enough to remember it ... maybe.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

we've reached double digits - 1 0

Eli is 10 months old! This pic is from the Fantasy of Trees at the Knoxville Convention Center. He's on the front end of a Polar Bear/Tennessee Train. Good thing I only have 2 more of the month by month pics to do because I get slower and slower getting these up each month.

Elijah is loads of fun! He's totally into Peek-a-Boo, chasing games, and riding along on his john deere tractor, patty cakish games, tickling and big open mouth kisses. He also likes to pull hair-but that is not so much fun.

Eli is pulling to standing and even takes wobbly steps along with his ride-along toys or holding onto chairs or the couch. I even peeked in on him during a non-nap to find him toddling around his crib holding onto the railing...awesome. In other breaking out news- he loves buckles, clasps and ties. He studies them intently and tries to put them together. I think he's just waiting for the day when his strength and dexterity are enough to break out of his car seat.

Eli also really enjoys "helping" mom. He helps me fold clothes by grabbing them and crawling around. He helps me cook by banging pots and crawling into the fridge. He even helps unload the dishwasher (spoon by spoon) and dryer (piece of lint by piece of lint).

He has 2 little tooth nubs barely poking through his gums. - Nights around our house have been loads of fun lately with these two shiny white chompers making their presence known. Though mommy is firmly night weaning - and by firm I mean I rock him back to sleep now instead of nursing. He's upper two teeth are also coming in strong, perhaps he'll get them for Christmas.... We sing for them daily.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Ideal Church

For the past couple months Rob and I have been part of a Church Planting Small Group at Crossings.

We were given this assignment a couple weeks ago:
"In 50-100 words describe your ideal church"

Of course I went over by a word or two, but here's what my dream church would be like:

My Ideal Church...

Is very welcoming. We have fun together and celebrate often. We share our joys together so well that they're enough to carry us through life's sorrows. We live close to one another and spend days intricately involved in each others' lives. We care about people around us in a non-do-gooder way. We care about the earth, the health of our families, and the world around us in uncool ways. We hold each other accountable. We do all this because we love Jesus and he is so good to us.

On Sunday mornings the songs are real, the teaching sound and moving. The love of God palpable. And...my baby can cry throughout.

Mark Nelson summed up my 102 word description in 1 word - Community. Yes, I think that's it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mama Worry, Go Away

Mama Worry and her sister Mama Guilt have been beating down my door.

Before Eli was ever born Rob and I decided that we were going to parent like Eli was our 4th kid. We weren't going to panic, we would let him eat off the floor, and the 5 second rule would be extended to, if he finds it he can have it - germs can be our friend. We'd play pass the baby at parties and church and everyone would be happy and relaxed.

This lasted until week 17 of Eli's life when he stopped breathing during the night. I woke from a bad dream, checked on Elijah and found him sleeping gray and breathless. I thank God for waking me from that nightmare and giving us the state of mind to do rescue breaths to bring our little boy back to us. For letting there be time.

Nothing was ever found to be wrong with him and Dr.s labeled it a "near miss SIDS". Needless to say, this rocked our world and a sleep monitor for Eli finally allowed Rob and I to sleep soundly through the night and stop taking shifts. But, oh did Mama Worry bend my ear. Does he have brain damage, are doctors missing something, will it happen again, can we save him again, did I cause it somehow?

I suffered some serious post-traumatic stress and felt the after-effects of adrenaline in my body for days. I totally know now how moms lift cars and do all manner of crazy feats to save their babies. Within a couple weeks we resumed a new normal; our reality changed based on what we'd experienced. We celebrated having Eli with us, but unlike ever before we realized that he was in God's hands for protection and provision. We got to love, care for and look after this little boy, but he wasn't ours alone. Life could be fragile.

I struggled to take back our relaxed parenting style. For the couple months following, I was on edge. Nervous and doubting most everything. But I adopted a 'fake it 'til you make it' strategy; remaining calm and nonchalant on the outside, while quietly resolving paranoid fears in my mind endlessly entertaining Mama Worry and Mama Guilt. However unhealthy, my 'fake it 'til you make it strategy actually did work. And our healthy little boy grew and grew unencumbered by psycho mom.

With few and normal new mom/baby health scares along the way we did great and Rob and I really were able to continue parenting in a non-stressful way. Remembering what happened week 17, allowing ourselves to be forever changed by week 17, but trying not to dwell on the what could have been and trying not to let week 17 unduly and negatively influence everyday normal parenting and health decisions. We always ended those remembering discussions with God is amazingly good to us. We are incredibly lucky to have experienced God's direct intervention. He is mighty to save.

And then came last weekend. I was at a Bradley Teacher Training in Atlanta and Eli got sick. He began running the first temperature he's ever had in all of his 9 months of life. Friday night the fever began and it continued over into Saturday. Fever and a runny nose were his only symptoms and Eli wasn't phased by either. I called both his pediatricians (one in PA, one in GA) and our pharmacist to get advice on what to do until his previously scheduled appt. on Monday am. We gave him Tylenol and Motrin (the first he'd ever had) and watched him. I continued with my training and Eli continued playing, eating and drinking like normal. We were assured we could easily ride out this illness until we got to the dr.s office on Monday am. Then on Sunday afternoon after waking from a nap you could tell he felt worse and his fever was higher, 103+. We took him to the ER, but before going in we checked his temp again. It was back to 101+, so our pediatrician said it would be okay to just take him home and bring him in first thing Monday. So we went home.

Then Sunday evening around 6 after waking up from another nap, Eli appeared to have a febrile (fever induced) absent seizure from a temperature spike. We got in the car to drive back to the hospital but decided to call an ambulance instead after he projectile vomited. Poor little sick boy. His underarm temp in the ambulance was 104.5 (so more like an oral 105.5) and his pulse was close to 200 bpm. He got a mega dose of Tylenol in the ambulance and a dose of Motrin once we got to the ER. His temp came down and we came home. It was just a plain virus.

At the peds office the next day, we got an antibiotic for a possible sinus infection and our kind nurse (my nurse when I was a baby) attempted to calm my fears concerning febrile seizures. But once again Mama Worry and Mama Guilt decided to stay for a visit. What would another mom have done, does a temp that high or seizures cause long-term damage, is he going to be okay, has he had enough of the meningitis vaccine to be protected, surely this bug came from the shopping cart at the grocery-why didn't I cover the handle bar?

We spent Monday night from 5pm to 11:30pm with Eli in and out of the bath and rotating hospital dosages of Motrin and Tylenol every 3 hours. We worked so hard to keep his temp below 103.5 which was the Drs' cut off for us having to go back to the ER. He got up to 103.4. Poor sick baby.

I come from a long line of fretters. Which is a big reason I tried so hard in the beginning to not start the pattern of worrying early- To tell Mama Worry and Mama Guilt to take a hike. But man, has it been hard I feel like I've been given this perfect baby boy where my one and only job is to not mess him up - but, it is unbelievably hard! And surely, he will not escape unscathed from our parenting. My mom and Rob's were notorious (though now reformed) worriers; and they are my best cheerleaders in my anti-worry campaign. Just last night my mom reminded me not to waste this time worrying, Elijah is growing up so fast.

Fear, stress and anxiety is a terrible and exhausting frame to parent your child from, though a great way to lose weight (picture wedding day skinny-friends from years ago). Our week 17 is what I go back to when my brain senses danger and it is a perpetual tug of war between rational calm mommy and Please-Don't-Let-Him-Die panic mode. Hopefully realizing this will help me lean toward the rational calm side of my mommy brain more and more often and that time will heal the trauma we faced when Eli was so small while still remembering our reality that God gives life and keeps our babies even when we can't.

Monday, November 1, 2010

9 month-er

Eli in his gaudy game day orange. Go Vols!

Elijah turned 9 months old a couple weeks ago! WooHoo!!

He is a crawling, laughing, clapping, waving, squealing bundle of non-stop action. Eli began 'real' crawling a couple weeks before turning 9 months. He eats most anything-even without any teeth, though I can now finally feel a tooth bud. Also, he's a little over 20 lbs. Weigh-to-grow kid.

He won't stay still for a second. Even the quickest diaper change involves chasing down his bare bum at least once from the other side of the room. I have now permanently set up the pack in play in our living room for when I have to leave the room. No longer do I return to find my baby exactly where I left him- He now is under the table, behind the TV or reaching under the couch....baby proofing supplies, yes please.

We take him to a lot of intramural games here at the college. Anytime the crowd gets excited we join in, too. Eli's cue to clap is when mom and dad yell "Yay!" He loves being in the know on how to act like a big kid.

Elijah began waving after his deliriously high fever on Monday at the pediatricians office. Rob was holding him and Eli waved "bye bye" to the Doctor. Nice kid, we get the picture. You're done being poked and prodded.

I know it's probably a little early for Elijah to begin talking, and maybe it's just my imagination, but I feel like Eli can say,

bye bye

and, my personal favorite, "Vrroom, Vvroom." In true little boy fashion.

Let's just hope, "No" is still a couple months away.

View that I have most often now that he crawls.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Boy and his Pumpkin

As a disclaimer- Maybe I'm a party pooper, but I don't like Halloween as a holiday at all. I do love, however, dressed up kids, handing out candy, and carving pumpkins. This is wonderful and so that is what we do.

Elijah was a dinosaur! We would roar at him- he loved it and would nuzzle us back!

Eli and his pumpkin - 2010

Eli and his pumpkin - 2009.

Thanks Rob, you do a great job carving our pumpkins!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


courtesy of Google earth and husband
It is a process, you know.

3 big moves in 3 years of marriage.
-East Point to Kigali, Rwanda
-Kigali to Lancaster, PA
-Lancaster to Knoxville, Tn

And none of these have been simple point A to point B moves. They've all involved some sort of limbo period anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. As you could guess, moving is not my favorite. In fact, I hate everything about it. Cardboard boxes and bubble paper do not excite me, not even pizza on the floor with friends who've just helped us move. I have an awful attitude about it from beginning to end. I have to work really really hard to be a loving wife and to not flip out at Uhaul offices and DOTs. Me and Jesus seem to talk a whole lot during the courses of our moves.

However, over time I have noticed an ever so slight improvement in my disposition. - I'll have to ask Rob what he thinks. Perhaps it's that I'm getting better at knowing what to expect, that Rob protects me from brunt of the move, or that I allow myself more graces of imperfection. But, I do notice that I don't shutter at Lowe's purchases, random taxes, and red tape AS MUCH as I used to. But yuck, recalling all of our moves and relocation anxieties really does make my chest hurt.

Regardless, we now find ourselves in Knoxville, TN where we will be for the next 5, 20, or 100 years. Who knows- I no longer plan. We currently reside on a college campus while we search for housing. Last week we placed an offer on a house, it was accepted and we moved full force ahead. Sadly, though it turns out that sometimes previous owners feel that foundations are optional. You know it's a no-go when your home inspector says, "basically, this exterior wall is just for aesthetics-the real support is in the basement on 2x4s and concrete blocks. " Yikes.

So the search continues.

Even though it stinks to leave places we've loved and be in transition and have SO many unknowns to work through, it has been great to get here and begin to get plugged in to the area. We've already made a ton of friends through church, campus, my mama groups and getting rooted in the local community. What adds the most peace to our journey here though is how awesome it feels to be where God wants us to be. I love seeing Rob in his new role as church planter - using gifts and talents that are uniquely designed to be used here and now. That part about moving has been great.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

Saturday we took Eli to a pumpkin patch in north Knox county. After driving an hour, I thought "oh no, this is one of those ideas that sounded way better in my head. Poor husband was exhausted and just wanted to rest - and Eli has no idea that a pumpkin patch is exciting stuff...what was I thinking." But, it turned out to be a great family outing. Eli started out a little unsure of why we were there- especially on the hayride out to the patch, but quickly warmed up to a field full of bright orange globes on which he could drum and beat to his heart's content.

Here are some of my favorite shots from the day

After much searching, Rob and I selected the perfect carving pumpkin- can't wait to see what Eli thinks of that fun event!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

37 in - 37 out

Last week we passed quite the milestone. 37 weeks in utero and 37 weeks out-ero. In 70 something weeks this little guy has gone from blob of cells to a clapping, crawling, independent person who can dig in his toy basket all by himself. Amazing.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

8 months of joy

This is Elijah at Baby Bookworms. An awesome program at our local library for infants to age 2. He LOVES it; his new favorite thing to do. The librarian reads some stories, we have a snack, have mom and baby sing along songs and puppet play. He loves watching the other babies crawl walk and babble around. He will soon be picking up all kinds of new tricks I'm sure.
8 month stats:

Eli's not doing what I would call an orchestrated crawl but he doesn't let that slow him down. He gets most anywhere he wants to eventually. We now hold crawling practice daily since we've been watching the other babies at Baby Bookworms do it. Poor guy had been having to figure it all out himself with no examples before our new social outing.

Baby Bookworms has also spurred a new love. Books of course. He wants to hold one all the time...nursing, strolling, eating, etc....

We just moved Eli to his own room. And, he is now sleeping 7 or 8 hrs a night at least and last night (closer to 8 1/2 months) he slept 11 hrs! Hallelujah! He also has a clear tell of when he's sleepy. He pulls his hair and give himself this mad scientist look. It's especially cute when he pulls the tuft of hair in the back and creates a rooster tail coif.

At his last dr.'s appt he weighed in at 18 lbs 11 oz and 28 inches long. Still no teeth! and no signs of any.

**8 month stories**
Eli has developed a new talent. He now knows how to gag himself. He discovered it by accident, but after my initial startled reaction to him, he continued to do it for days afterward. Even at the dr.'s office. The nurse (after seeing him do it) responded, "they all learn how to do that eventually." What?! It's so hard not to laugh.

After an especially tumultuous afternoon of fighting sleep. Mom and baby were at our wits ends and completely frustrated with the other. I offered Eli a bitter biscuit as a last resort thinking, perhaps this will help. Eli grabbed the graham cracker and gummed it with a slobbery mouth. He then looked up at me with red tear-streaked eyes, smiled his toothless grin and held the gummy cracker up to my mouth for a nibble. My heart melted and we enjoyed our snack together.

Quite the brilliant baby, understanding different properties of states of matter still elude him. Elijah was entertained endlessly during bath time not long ago trying to "catch" water from the faucet.

Oh, and a little product-find endorsement. Flour sacks (bought at wal-mart or the dollar store in 5 or 3 packs) make the PERFECT baby bibs. they are huge, cheap and cotton. I tie it around Eli's neck and let him go to town on his dinner. They cover his entire chest and lap during a meal and afterwards I wash it out in the sink and soak it in a pail of water. When I have a load of laundry I toss it in. For stubborn stains, I add some bleach. Hmm, wonderful.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fall in East Tennessee

So, We've moved physically and soon so will my blog. to something lame and predictable like hartleyhartley.blogspot, but I'll post that here of course when I decide. I've got like 8 blog post floating around in my head, but having to share a computer with husband until we get more settled I have virtually 5 minutes to check email at 10pm. Thus no new blog entries for a few more days.
But I had to squeeze in this picture of Eli enjoying the crisp fall air here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

First Bug

Eli has his first virus. We've dealt with runny noses- congestion and teething. But we're in the middle of a bout with the first stomach bug. Last night after going to bed at 8, he woke up crying at 9 and by 9:05, I was doused with vomit from head to toe. Eli seemed much better after the incident but projectile vomiting is enough to unsettle anyone. After vomiting on my shoulder, he looked up at me like, "what's happening" and projectile vomited all over the front of my shirt, then turned and got my lap and legs and the carpet. My mom heard all the commotion and my pleas for help which Eli met with more vomit. Grandma and dad arrived just in time to get the after throw-up, "I feel better" smiles and general cuddly malaise. I got a shower and Rob ran to Kroger to get some Pedialite. I had chocked up annoying clingy-ness and general crankiness to normal baby-ness, but I guess now I know.

Today we're resting and recovering. Eli seems to be doing much better. But it still feels like a PJ kinda day.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Eli's Eats and Chicken baby food recipe

We waited for most of the signs books will tell you to see before you begin solid food. Eli was sitting up, about 6 months, showing interest, chewing, moving food to the back of his mouth, etc. and I wanted to wait until after he had had at least a couple vaccines so I could provide him with as many antibodies as possible without worrying about him filling up on cereal. We began with a sippy cup of water and man did he think he was big stuff, but he ditched that in a few days when he realized the cups we drank out of flowed much more freely. He now drinks out of a regular cup unless we're traveling and need the amazing technology that is 'spill-proof'.

We tried rice cereal next which I think he liked at first because of the novelty. We tried a little every couple days, adding a little something to it until he finally convinced me he just didn't like any kind of cereal. Moving on - yellow veggies?...no, bananas. I'm a rule breaker I guess. Eli loved bananas. By the way he eyes them in the kitchen, I think he could more easily recognize a banana than me in a crowd.

Eli has steadily become a 'social eater' wanting just a little while in his highchair at the dinner table to be part of the activity. At first, he didn't eat everyday consistently or the same number of meals everyday. It still varies. I was never too concerned with that because nursing still meets all of his nutritional needs. Now, however, it's much more likely that he cries when he doesn't also get a little bite of food when he sees someone else munching.

(Eli helping picking out food at the grocery-sitting in the grocery cart is Eli's favorite thing. It's a great way to pass the time on a fussy day!)

We noticed from the get go that he loved picking up food and getting it to his mouth. Puffs, rice, banana bits, peaches, avocados are great for this. And anything that was on a spoon, he grabbed the handle and directed it to his mouth. So, we ditched the pureed foods and whatever he can get in his mouth he eats (basically). This has made life uber simple (except for the bigger mess to clean up - Eli and highchair and floor. I love for him to eat what we're eating and we'll take out an Eli helping before the family's food is seasoned. To supplement that, I've got carrots and peas and applesauce on hand. I didn't follow the recommended start with yellow, then this, then that. I read that if you've waited to 6 months and breastfed, it's really unlikely that your baby will react poorly to modified family table foods. That made sense to me and so if it's not on the "Do Not Feed to Baby Allergen List" (i.e. milk, peanuts, citrus), heavily seasoned, or take-out. I'll rip or mush a little bit of our food up for him.After doing some reading, I discovered that this approach is called Baby-led Weaning and people say it helps infants control how much they eat and encourages exploration of foods. I also think it's just simpler.

I got a ton of ideas of easy and nutritious baby friendly foods and how to prepare them from the website below. It also has pdf versions of what your baby may be ready to eat at different ages AND fruit, veggie, and other finger foods for the babyled weaning approach. The website also has a list of spices and menu ideas that are really baby friendly and 'spice' up bland food and recipes to make you own food items like teething biscuits and baby pancakes. It has been a great resource. Eli and I have enjoyed it immensely.

Babyled Weaning
Menu Ideas for Babyled Weaning
Age appropriate food chart - (sample 6-8 months)


Eli ADORES chicken, although he still has a bit of a hard time gumming shreds of it up enough (I've heard babies love to chew on chicken leg bones with morsels of chicken still on the bone- haven't tried this yet).

I decided to try to make my own chicken baby food since Eli loves it and at the grocery it costs about 95 cents a jar. I bought an all natural whole small chicken about 4.5 lbs for around 3 bucks. I cooked it in the crockpot along with a couple carrots and 1 onion for some light seasoning. While I waited for the broth to cool and separate, I pulled the meat from the bone. I filled muffin tins with part meat, part chicken broth (removing the fat that had risen to the top of the chicken broth) and froze them for about 2 hours. Once the were well frozen, I popped them out and into a big ziploc baggie. Voila. I got about 18 muffin cups from one chicken. And each muffin cup (once defrosted at meal time and pureed with my little hand-cranked baby food maker - And now that Eli's older, sometimes I just rip the chicken chunks up for him to grab) makes about a half jar of grocery store chicken.

Grand total - A little over 30 cents per jar! ca-ching, money in the bank.

Monday, August 23, 2010

7th Heaven

I can't believe I have such a big boy! 7 months, wow.

Eli is, as you can see, sitting up now all by himself. For a few weeks now, he's been sitting and playing independently; amusing himself for much longer than I expected possible. He loves to play. It's so fun to see him want a toy, work to get it, reach for it and explore. I told Rob that I thought Eli scooted a little today on his rear end to get closer to me and Rob said, "oh yeah, I've seen him do that a couple times". So, we're on our way to mobility!

He's been able to blow raspberries for awhile now, but we've hit a new level of preoccupation with this ability. Also, he rattles off all kinds of syllable combinations, including dada (though not yet directed at Rob).

We may soon be entering into the "separation anxiety" phase, as well. For the past few days, Eli's protested when I left the room. We'll have to watch to see if this continues. I guess it's just another realization that we are two separate people.

For about a month now, we've been dabbling with solid foods (more in a later post). Basically, he likes the new tastes and novelty of it, and especially the ability to pick up the food himself and get it to his mouth, but we're nowhere near getting more than just a smidgen of our calories from table food yet.

And sleeping. We're down to 2.5 naps a day. He normally naps a couple hours after he wakes in the morning (around 9 or 10) and if it's a good day sleeps for 2 hours. He'll then have another good nap (sometimes 1.5 or 2 hours) around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Undoubtedly, though, he'll catch a short 15 minute snooze mid afternoon. He's not quite ready to give up that 3rd nap of the day! We're by no means a schedule family (husband and baby would have none of the sort) yet. This is the closest we've ever came to having a semblance of a schedule- and any number of things can change our day to day (long car trips, etc) and Eli just rolls with it.

In the evenings, Eli will go down for the night now around 8pm. Hallelujah, it had been 10pm. Rob and I have switched night time roles, can I get another Hallelujah? Rob now gets up with him first and soothes him. If he's hungry, Rob will pass him too me, but if it's his gums, a stuffy nose, or the need for a midnight snuggle, Rob takes care of it. This new schedule began after Elijah slept for an 8 hour stretch for a couple nights. We decided to try switching roles because I began to feel like after the original cause for waking was remedied it was followed by a, "and now that I'm up I'd like a snack, mom". We seem to both be getting more sleep these days, and Eli seems to be fine with this arrangement, which makes me feel like he was ready for this transition.

I'm all for getting up with your babies at night (it encourages lighter sleep for baby reducing SIDS, night nursings provide important calories for tiny growing babies and too-busy-during-the-day infants, and provides comfort) and I know that through toddler hood, our night-time wakings will ebb and flow during teething, growth spurts, sickness, and random things like changes in his environment (can you say moving?). Night times are still an adventure because whenever Rob is away or we're traveling, our new system seems to falter. And 8 hour stretches are still, by far, the exception in our house. But for now, our nighttime fiestas are fine with me - feeding him and drifting back to sleep isn't that big of a deal.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eli's Vaccination Schedule

After much thought, prayer and worry. We finally settled on a vaccine schedule for Eli.

I used to not understand why parents hesitated to vaccinate their children; but after Rob and I were vaccinated for our travels to Africa and had mild reactions ourselves and the whole mercury-autism scare happened, I knew I would want to look into it before we choose what was best for our family. Once we found out we were having a boy, I also wanted to be very cautious as the rate of autism among boys is so much higher than that of girls- and so many people still point fingers at vaccines as a leading cause (more and more people believe that autism is due to heavy metal poisoning). I think it would be really interesting for someone to research if boys' blood-brain-barrier remains more penetrable and for longer than baby girls'.

Well, my lack of decision defaulted into a decision pro procrastination. Everything I read left me more conflicted. I knew I didn't feel right about vaccinating a 3 week early 2 month old and I asked to delay until 2 months after his due date. That day came and went and I still didn't feel his body was ready.

Because Rob was no longer traveling internationally, I was exclusively breastfeeding, and Eli wasn't in day care of any kind, I felt delaying a little longer while we worked out a selective, spaced out schedule was better than jumping right in. Still, the more I read the more conflicted I became.

Even after studies show that the thimersal (mercury) in infant vaccines did not cause autism (i'm still not sure I buy this), and it has been removed from most all infant vaccines (check your brands), there are still a lot of nasty ingredients that can make babies sick and some worry cause damage to young systems that aren't mature enough to handle them.

But after 5 months, the worry scale began to tip the other direction. I heard whooping cough everywhere and even made Rob leave a Hardee's after I heard a baby cough next to us that sounded especially juicy. I could see meningitis germs lurking anywhere, even on the purest of church bulletins. As Eli gained the skill to be able to grab and taste even things outside of his reach, I knew it was getting close to time to vaccinate. And a little shy of 6 months, we were at my old pediatrician's office getting our first shot.

We decided to space them out and pair ones with higher levels of aluminum with lower or no aluminum vaccines and higher reactive ones with milder vaccines. We're going to try our best to catch chicken pox naturally as it is amazingly better at providing lifelong immunity among other benefits over the vaccine. This is what we came up with:

Eli's vaccination schedule

6 m - DTaP, HIB (7-7-10)
7 m - Prevnar (8-4-10)
8 m - DTaP, HIB
9 m - Prevnar
10 m* - DTaP, HIB
11 m* - Prevnar
13 m - Polio**
16 m - Mumps, Polio**

19 m - Prevnar, HIB
22 m - DTaP

2y 4m - Rubella, Polio**
2y 10m - Hep A
3y 4m - Measles**
3y 9m - Hep A
4y 4m - DTaP, Polio**
5y 4m - MMR

* These shots may be unnecessary since we began the series so late, we don't quite know if this is the case yet. If they are unneeded, we'll bump the next shots up by a bit.
** We may still do some playing around with the placement of the polio, and M, M, R shots

We'll decided on flu shots as the season presents and our options available..

This schedule does lead to some visits in-between check-up visits. But, our office is so convenient and supportive. We just schedule an appt. with the nurse, pop in get a shot and in 10 minutes we're out.

So far, Eli has done AMAZING with all 3 shots he's received. He wasn't the first bit cranky, did not run a fever, and only had minor irritation at the injection site. And this with no Tylenol! Will we use the same schedule for any other little Hartleys? Maybe, but probably not. I'm sure each child's needs will be a little different. For instance, we won't start vaccinating at 2 months, but I can't imagine us delaying until 6 months with big brother Eli running around with his rat pack toddler friends, eating mud, etc...

Mothering Magazine and The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears were by far my favorite resources during this process.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Life in Limbo

Lately I feel as though I am just posting monthly updates which doesn't make for very interesting blogging, even if the world is able to witness Eli becoming more adorable by the month.

So what does our life look like in Limbo, GA preparing for Knoxville? Well, it's been great hanging with the fam and catching up with friends. After almost 2 years away (1 in Africa & 1 in PA) it's great to be close and refuel with family before we begin this church planting adventure. It's definitely a challenge though to mother and wife in a home not your own, but if making sure everyone is fed and clothed equals success then we're doing about average. I'm really looking forward to getting settled in Knoxville and exploring our new town. But with the good comes the bad...unpacking.

We've been doing a lot of house hunting. And with the clock ticking down until we must be in Knoxville, the search for a house has morphed into apartment search, teepee or dry barn quest. Anywhere will do. I actually did find the house of my dreams yesterday online and I'm counting on a lapse in judgment on the owners' part of accepting 50k less than their asking price. Positive thinking: It will be mine very shortly.

Our bio is up on the Crossings website. Please peruse the staffs bios to get an idea of all the great people Rob will be working with and our new friends. We get more excited by the day to be part of that community. I still have my moments when I worry that all these transitions, a young family, and the challenging task of beginning a church will get the best of me and leave me completely poured out. I ask Keight's question of "Are you trying to ruin my life?" daily to Rob and Jesus. But in all fairness, I wanted both of them to be part of my life and with that comes challenges and changes that I wouldn't have dared on my own. And at the end of the day (actually in the morning before 2pm exhaustion hits), I can't wait for TN and church CCF-style.

Rob sent out our support letters today, so if you wanna get a jump on donating and making sure this little guy gets to keep eating chicken and carrots visit Rob's website and pledge some big bucks.