So we started rice cereal with Wyatt last Saturday (July 23rd).

We've tried giving it to him once or twice for the next few days, but he'd only eat two or three bites at a time. And it's questionable how much of those bites actually ended up in his stomach.

For the first two days he got pretty fussy afterward, and spit up most of what he managed to swallow.

I just kept telling him that the sooner he got the rice cereal down, the sooner he could have something good. Like sweet potatoes.

I fed him on Tuesday (the 26th) and it started out the same way. I'd scoop some of the mush into his mouth, he'd spit it back out. I'd scoop it back in. Repeat.

But then he started gumming the spoon. He had done this before (the poor boy is teething), but he really went at it this time, and I think he inadvertently swallowed some of the cereal in the process.

It was like a switch flipped. With the next bite he gummed the spoon again and swallowed again. And then with the next bite, he actually opened his mouth for more!

I just couldn't help but giggle as his little mouth opened like a baby bird waiting for food, and I chuckled as he'd grab the spoon and chew on it like there was no tomorrow. He got such a cute look on his face while he was eating, like he was concentrating. Eating is serious business, you know.

But he did give me a happy smile when I pulled out the camera a minute later! My boy has a killer smile, no?

We've had a breakthrough! Granted, as of writing this I haven't changed the resulting diaper yet, but it was so adorable watching him figure out how this whole eating thing works for the first time.

I think it's worth it (*ahem*), just to watch him learn something new.

Moms And Babies - Ashley

This week I'm featuring Ashley from Stealing Baby Kisses! I found Ashley's blog last year shortly before I found out I was pregnant - our due dates were a little over a month apart! I've loved reading about Ashley and her sweet boy through pregnancy and everything that comes after! Check out her interview to learn more about her!

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi! My name is Ashley. I am happily married to my husband of almost 3 years and am a stay at home mom to our miracle baby.

What's your baby's name and how old is he?

Brayden, 7 months old.

Give us an idea of what a typical day looks like for you.

Hmm... Brayden normally wakes up around 9:00 am. I nurse him and then he plays for a bit. Around 10:00-10:30 he eats breakfast and then he naps. We are still working on his naps, but he typically sleeps for about an hour. Then he's up to nurse with lunch around an hour later. Play time. I then try to tidy up the house, get dinner ready, or we go out to run errands. And then around 4:00 he's ready for another nap (about an hour). Nurse. Dinner for him around 6:00. Bath around 7:30. And he's in bed by 9:30. Most days he only naps 2x. Around 11:00 and then around 3-4. Some days he will take a 3rd one around 1:00, but it's rare.

If you had to choose three words to describe your baby's personality, what would they be?

Loveable, Animated, Determined.

What's your favorite part about being a mom?

Oh gosh, this is a hard one. There are many things that I love about being a mom. But I love that I will be able to teach him about the Lord and be the one to see him experience new things every day. Even simple things such as what sand feels like and what the ocean looks like. I don't take any of that lightly. It's a huge responsibility to be your baby's first teacher.

Do you have any tips on losing the baby weight?

Well for me, nursing did not help! Bummer. :) But I would say what really helped me was to watch my snacking. Being home all day it was so easy to just mindlessly snack. As much as I could, I would force myself to sit down and eat. That right there cut out almost all of the snacking!

What have you and your husband done since your baby's arrival to keep your relationship strong?

Make time before we go to bed to talk, sometimes watch a movie before we go to bed, etc. And not letting the excuse "I'm too tired" work all the time. You will always be tired as a parent.

Are there any must-have products that you would recommend to other moms?

A sound machine that also projects light on the ceiling. We practically lived to the sound of our vacuum running for the first couple of weeks until we bought a sound machine. It worked great! And even if you don't use cloth diapers I would recommend a planet wise bag. It works great if you have dirty clothes to store while out and about.

What has been your favorite moment or outing as a family so far?

The other day I came home from meeting a friend for coffee and as soon as he saw me he stretched out his arms, started waving them and kicking his feet and laughing. He had never done that before. It was so precious!

Any advice for first-time mothers?

Have confidence in yourself. What worked for so and so, may not work for you and your baby, and that's ok! That doesn't make you a bad mom, and it doesn't make them a bad mom. Someone once told me "God gave you Brayden. You are the best mother in the whole world for Brayden." We pray every day for wisdom on how to raise our son, and so I absolutely believe that. I am the best mother for Brayden. And you are the best mother for your child(ren). So it's ok to have confidence in yourself. :)

Thank you, Ashley! Check out Ashley's blog to read more!

Little 'Ole Me? Featured?

Today I'm being featured by Maegan for her Summer Essentials Series! Hop on over to read my interview, and leave me a comment if you want to!

Actually please do leave me a comment. We all know that bloggers thrive on comments.


To Be Perfectly Honest Book Review

Well, it's been a while since I posted a review for the Blogging for Books program! The last couple of months have been so busy that I just never got around to requesting my next book, so a few weeks ago I logged back on and picked my next book.

When I was looking for my next book to read, "To Be Perfectly Honest" by Phil Callaway caught my eye. The description sounded very interesting to me - a guy decides to tell the honest truth for an entire year. As one of Callaway's friends says in the opening chapter, for a Christian "Isn't that a bit like giving up arson for Lent?"

His friend makes a point, since we should all work to live honestly anyway - but as Callaway began his "truth vow", it's apparent that there are many small ways where we may not be acting in an honest way without really realizing it.

The book is written in a journal format, with Callaway telling relevant stories from each day of his truth vow (sometimes he succeeds in being honest, and sometimes he doesn't). Callaway is a "humorist" and the stories are told in a funny (and honest) way. He pokes fun at different people he encounters in day-to-day life throughout the year - not in a mean way, but you should be aware that no one is safe.

There were a couple points where I wasn't sure I agreed with something Callaway said, but I could appreciate the humor in his observations. It takes alot for me to laugh out loud at something I read, and I found myself chuckling many times while reading this book.

The value in the book lies mostly in entertainment, but there were many lessons woven into his stories as well. I was especially struck by some of the creative ways he found to witness to others.

I also really appreciated how honest he was in writing about his thought life - those secret sins that aren't really put on display, such as pride, envy, critical thoughts, being judgemental, etc. I saw my own struggles in alot of the situations he described. He sums up the lessons he learned personally in the epilogue, and extends the truth vow deadline for another fifty years.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was humorous and light-hearted, even while dealing with some heavy subjects. I came away from the book feeling cheerful, and that's always a bonus to me!

Note: I was given a copy of this book for free by Waterbrook Multonomah Publishing Group for this review. This is my honest opinion of the book.

By the way, you should all go over and rank my review on the Blogging For Books website - mostly so they can see I'm doing my job and give me more options for books to review. And if you blog and want to recieve free books, take a look around their site while you're there!

Protecting Your Pictures

So for some reason I decided to google my blog name under Google Images.

Probably not a good idea, unless you want to totally freak yourself out.

A bunch of pictures from my blog showed up on Google Images. Now, I've never been overly concerned with this before, but it concerned me that pictures of my baby also showed up on Google.

So, being the obsessive rational person that I am, I decided to do what I can to protect my pictures.

Now, for me, this does not mean that I'm no longer going to post photos on here. I like posting photos - I think they make the blog more interesting, and part of the reason I blog is for my own documentation, which includes pictures.

There are a few things I've decided to do though. . .

1. Watermark my pictures. 

I use Photoshop Elements to watermark my pictures, using a custom watermark brush that I created using this tutorial.  

If you want to adjust the opacity of your watermark while editing in Photoshop, just click SHIFT-CNTRL-N (or SHIFT-CMMD-N on a Mac) to create a new layer, and then apply the brush to that layer.  Then you can adjust the opacity using the slider, or select a different style from the dropdown menu (I like to use "Overlay").

If you don't have Photoshop, PicMonkey.com is a great (free) photo editing site, and you can add a watermark using the text tool.

I used to transfer the images to Photobucket and copy the html code to put them in my posts. I liked using Photobucket, because you can make the pictures whatever size you want in your posts, and you don't have the data storage limits that Blogger has.

Then I started using Windows Live Writer (and later MarsEdit when I switched to a Mac), and I love it - these programs make it very easy to adjust the size of your pictures and move them around in your post, and then you can upload them all in one batch.  Though it uploads to Picasa, which may be a problem if I ever run out of photo storage, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Sidenote: If you are not familiar with html, and you compose your posts with the "compose" tab in Blogger, I highly recommend that you start practicing using the html tab. You can do so much with html once you figure it out, and the only way to do that is to practice! If you have any questions, please e-mail me, and I'll do my best to help (though I'm not an expert)!

2. Set all my albums in Photobucket and Picasa to private. 

 I just feel safer this way, and it shouldn't affect the pictures from showing up in your posts (though use caution, because I had trouble switching the privacy settings on one album and had to re-add all my photos to my posts after I had set it to private in order for it to work- yuck). By the way, Photobucket allows others to copy your photos to their albums unless you adjust your privacy settings so they can't.

3. Disable right click on the blog. 

 I read a post on Kelly's Korner, and she gave a link to disable right-click.  Can people still save my images to their computer if they want to? Yes, but I feel like it helps discourage that. Plus my pictures have the watermark, so people would still know they are mine.

Here is the link to the code for disabling right click - but don't go edit the html for your whole blog like the site says. Not only is it scary if you don't know html code that well (you could mess up your whole blog!), but it doesn't work that way - I tried it.  Just add a gadget under "Design->Page Elements" in Blogger, select an html gadget, and add the code into that and save. It'll do the same thing.

4. Disable left-click on my pictures. 

 I never realized it before, but Blogger and Photobucket add a link to your pictures when you upload them so that people can click on them and open them in a different window or see your Photobucket album when they click. I hate that.

To remove the part of the image code that makes it a link, you have to delete a section of the code. It's not as complicated as it sounds. I found a great tutorial on how to disable left-click on pictures in Blogger - check it out. You can always preview your post to make sure you did it right.

I so wish I had known that you can do this when I first started blogging, because of all the time involved in de-linking every picture on the blog. So if you're just starting out, I'd suggest doing this now if you're concerned with protecting your pictures.

5. Finally, you can edit your robot.txt file to tell Google not to file your images.  

This is easier than it sounds.  Take the following bit of code . . .

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow: /

And then go to "Settings" on your Dashboard:

Then "Search Preferences":

Then click the "edit" button next to the words Custom robot.txt, select "Enable", and then paste the code into the box.  Don't forget to save your changes!

And wolla!  Your images won't show up in Google searches anymore (though a couple might sneak through here and there).  I decided to go this route because while I love sharing pictures of my family on my blog, I don't love it when my family pictures show up in image searches.  Now they won't!  You can read more about how to block specific images from searches here.

And that's what I've got! Any other things you all do to protect your pictures?

Bored With Dinner And Poll

I need your help!

We are stuck in a serious dinner rut. We've probably eaten the same four meals for the past two months, because they are quick and they are made of inexpensive ingredients that I have on hand. But I'm getting bored of those meals, and even though my hubby doesn't complain, I'm sure he'd appreciate a little bit more meal excitement.

Our four meals are spaghetti, burritos, honey mustard chicken, and chicken alfredo. They're good, don't get me wrong - but when you have them as often as we do, it gets old.

What do you ladies make often for your families? Any quick and easy meal suggestions (I don't do well with long prep times right now), that aren't too expensive?

I think I'm going to have to get into the whole meal-planning thing. I'd probably do better if I planned things out, instead of flying by the seat of my pants.


It's been a while since I asked a new poll question! I think my dinner-making difficulties call for a new one. Here are the stats for the last question on location (which was "Where do you live? Draw an imaginary vertical line on the map for the first three options.")

There were 53 votes split up as follows.

-Even with or East of Illinois: 21 (39%)
-Between the Western border of Illinois and the Western border of Wyoming: 16 (30%)
-Even with or West of Utah: 8 (15%)
-Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Peurto Rico: 1 (1%)
-Canada: 4 (7%)
-Europe: 2 (3%)
-Other: 1 (1%)

I expected that the majority would be out East, but there are more in the middle than I thought! And I think it's pretty cool that there is someone representing each region. I want to know who lives in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or Guam (you don't have to tell me)! And "Other" - I'm dying to know where "Other" is. Thanks to everyone who voted!

Okay new question: How often do you cook dinner for you family? Vote to the right!


And one last bit of business - if you missed the post on Friday, I had to re-do the code for my blog buttons. Long story. So if you have grabbed a button in the past, please see the post below and update the code! Thank you!

Pesky Buttons - Update Please

So I'm having button issues.

If you want to know the truth, I accidentally deleted my Photobucket account. It's a long story.

Anyway, this means I had to re-upload my blog button images to Photobucket, and they have a new url. So the old button html's don't work.

Confusing, much? I know. Why do I go and fiddle with something that's working fine in the first place?

If you have grabbed my blog button or the Moms and Babies button in the past, kindly grab the new codes and update those buttons? Por favore? Thank you.

Just highlight the text and hit CTRL-C to copy.

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