Thursday, June 30, 2011

20 Months

Happy 20 months to my little guy! Four more months to go until his second birthday. I can hardly believe it!

I only intend to do a quick update here. Oliver's still excelling at letters and play. He's also learning to love bath time, when he used to really hate it. He's constantly on the move and doesn't stay at one activity for long. He finally likes the outdoors, and we go out every day if only to explore (but we usually blow bubbles and practice playing catch, which he is getting pretty good at).

On the down side, his eating habits are getting much pickier. I leave food out for him regularly because he doesn't like to sit down and eat whole meals (we still insist he sits for dinner, although he usually freaks out during dinner time). Oliver also doesn't enjoy being in the car for more than 15 minutes or so (he never really has, but I think he's getting more upset about it now, like he used to). His sleep is also getting to be difficult again. He will scream and fight going to bed, even if he's been awake for 8 hours or more. He's also not patient enough to clean up after his messes anymore. Once he's done pulling out one toy/activity, he's on to the next! The house is scattered with toys. I can't keep up!

100 (Attempted) Ways to Entertain a Young Toddler, Day 2: Pretend Dog

Today, I decided that Oliver and I should pretend to be dogs. I got the idea when he was crawling around under the table. I asked, "Are you a dog?" He looked at me quizzically. I said, "Let's be dogs! Arf, arf!" Oliver loves barking at dogs. He kind of laughed at me and said, "Arf, arf." I licked his hand and told him that's how doggies kiss.

He said, "Arf, arf," a couple more times, and then I decided to add to the fun. I grabbed two shallow bowls. I put water in one, and I put Reese's Puffs cereal in the other (it looked like dog food). I showed Oliver how dogs eat and drink. At first, he thought he'd eat the cereal with his hands (pictured above), but when I showed him again how dogs do it, he ate a few bites on all fours (pictured below). He especially enjoyed lapping up the water. I was relieved he was able to figure out the water thing without breathing any into his nose!

As you can see, he also made a mess like a dog!

I give our pretend play a "B." Oliver seemed to like it, but only for about a minute. I'm also not sure he completely understood what we were doing. On the plus side, it was easy, fun and free. It also feels good to spark his imagination a bit!

Below: Oliver stood up (with his mouth full) to say, "Arf, arf," to me.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

100 (Attempted) Ways to Entertain a Young Toddler, Day 1: Ice Cubes

I decided to start a new mini-series on my blog because of Oliver's new stage. It's hard to entertain him for more than a couple minutes at a time. That's exhausting for me! I'll pull out the blocks, and he'll walk away after a few minutes and start something else. By the time I get the blocks put away, he's done with his second activity. He's a whirlwind, and the house is a mess at all times!

My goal is to find new and cheap ways to capture my son's attention and stimulate his growing mind. I plan on reading some idea books and websites, and then I'll test my favorite ones out on here! I'll try to keep up with this series daily.

Today, I started with something easy and nearly free. It's an idea from a book that my cousin gave me called The Toddler's Busy Book by Trish Kuffner.

I decided to freeze colored ice cubes for Oliver's bath!

If you already have an ice cube tray and food coloring (like I did), it's a very (very) simple way to throw something new and unusual and your little one. Just fill the tray with water as normal and then put a few drops of coloring in each square. Stir it up and freeze. Voila! As an added bonus, she says you can stick a few hard plastic toys in them for your kiddo to discover. Just be careful to keep an eye on your toddler because they can choke on the ice cubes if they shove them into their mouths.

The ice cubes melted almost immediately. That could have been my fault because I only gave them four hours to freeze. They felt completely firm, but maybe they would have lasted longer if they were in over night.

The melted cubes left the bathwater a gross, green color (although it didn't dye my son's skin or white-blonde hair). Oliver was a little curious about the cubes, but they lost his attention after a minute, which was good since they were almost gone by that point. They melted too quickly for Oliver to discover the Duplo Lego that I'd frozen in one of the ice cubes, so that part of the activity was a bust. However, because the activity was so simple (a big bonus!) and unique, I give it a grade: C-.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ray Ross Park, Take Two

Ray Ross Park, Take One

Ray Ross Park

I've been wanting to take Oliver to a semi-local playground that has a free splash park for a while. I've been nervous that it'd be too chaotic for me to participate (i.e., a bunch of big kids running into people), so I hadn't gone.

Early this morning, I asked Andrew if he'd want to go with me. We packed Oliver into the car and made the three mile drive to Ray Ross Park. As we got close, I started to have doubts. The neighborhood is a bit dilapidated, and there is a worn-out trailer park nearby (the moral of this story is: don't judge a book by its cover). I felt better as we got closer and saw some joggers out and about.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Twenty Week Ultrasound

Sometime this week, I turn 20 weeks. Conservatively, I don't hit 20 weeks until Friday, but according to the hospital, I'm 20 weeks and 3 days today. So, I had my 20 week ultrasound! It went very well.

According the ultrasound, our little one is about 19 weeks, 6 days along. She's about 11 ounces. Her brain, heart and spine look great, and I got to see images in 3D.

Also good: my bleed is mostly resolved. The tech told me there is a very small amount of blood left in the uterus. She said I might pass it or reabsorb it, but that there's not much left at all. Hurray!!!!

Here are some images from today:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Airplane Success!

Oliver (and Andrew and I) survived the round trip flights to Chicago! On the way there, we flew Frontier. There was one empty seat on the entire plane, and it was next to Andrew and me. So, Oliver was able to have his own seat! He relaxed, drank milk and ate cookies, and watched music videos. I'm pretty sure he thought flying was the greatest thing ever. It went so well that I was even able to do a few sudoku puzzles, and Andrew was able to play a game of Magic on the laptop.

The way back was a whole different can of worms. We flew American Airlines on the way back. Because we had to drop my parents off at a different airport for an earlier flight (they were flying Frontier back), we arrived really early--5:45pm for our 8:30pm flight. We checked our bags and made our way through security. We grabbed some dinner at the food court, and then we made our way to the gate. H12. It said H12 on our ticket, and we confirmed it by checking the monitors. We set up shop at H12.

Oliver had a lot of energy, and we decided it was best to let him run it off before boarding the plane. It's difficult to let a toddler run around in such a busy airport (O'Hare is one of the busiest in the world). There were no empty gates, so we'd let him run down the hallways while we followed him and prevented him from running into anyone's way. Andrew and I alternated so the other could rest. Well, I'm sitting at the gate with a stroller and a diaper bag. A man asks me if he could sit next to me. I said sure. A few minutes later, Oliver and Andrew came back. Oliver started playing with his toys. One is a Transformer that makes noise. The man next to me was shooting us evil looks the entire time. I was thinking, "What the heck?! Switch seats, then." It wasn't like he was there first and we came in making noise. And it's not like there weren't empty seats around the gate.

At 8:15pm, I started to wonder why there was no plane at our gate. For the nearly two hours we were at the gate, there was never a flight attendant. I realized our flight might be delayed. I went back to the monitors and saw that we were moved to gate H14, and our flight time was delayed to 8:45pm. So, we shuffled over past the bathrooms to our new gate. It was already boarding, but thankfully I was able to get the stroller gate-checked before it was too late.

We boarded the plane, and it was hot and miserable. It was at least 80 degrees inside. After waiting about 15 minutes after everyone boarded, the pilot announced that take-off would be delayed a little as we got new oil in an engine or something. So, we sat and waited in the heat. Thankfully, we had a sippy cup with a little water in it. We started to ration it because there were no flight attendants or anyone coming around with water. All around us, kids started crying and screaming. Oliver stayed strong. As time went by, all the adults were starting to complain. I was getting overheated, and so was Oliver We stripped him down to his diaper. Although there was almost no air coming out of the vents, Andrew aimed his at us to try to keep us cool. I wanted Oliver's water so badly but wanted him to have it more.

After about half an hour, they moved the plane away from the gate. Then, we sat there, not moving, for another hour with no explanation. I have no idea how Oliver managed to not cry. I was trying not to panic, but Oliver was phenomenal. At one point, I let him slide the shade to the window up and down for entertainment. Mind you, it was dark outside, so it wasn't like he was constantly cutting off light to the plane. Still, the teenager ahead of us had an attitude about it and kept glaring at me. I was pissed because I was hot and pissed at him for thinking that a window shade was noisy. Would he rather the child be screaming??

After an hour and a half sitting on the hot, hot plane with no water or explanation, we took off. The pilot announced that the weather was very poor going west, so our flight path was changed. We were going to go up north through Minnesota and head west through the Dakotas and then back south to Denver. The new flight was about 3 hours, so we were on the plane for about 4.5 hours, about twice as long as we'd expected. Oliver slept for much of the flight, but the turbulence was so bad that it was difficult to keep him asleep. He cried out a few times but never got hysterical. Meanwhile, I started crying from the turbulence and a woman across the aisle started praying aloud in Hebrew from her Torah. The turbulence was that bad.

We landed around midnight local time. My dad drove back to the airport to pick us up, since we were so delayed. He said they had minor turbulence on their Frontier flight, but it wasn't that bad like it was on our American Airlines flight. It was absolute misery.

Andrew made me swear that we'd never fly American again. We've never had good service with them. Even though this flight was free with our miles, it didn't matter. It was so terrible that I wished we'd just paid the rest of the ticket to fly round trip with Frontier.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Toddler in an Airplane

Oliver's going to be on a flight soon, and I've started to get really worried. He's traveled numerous times and has always done well, but now he's at an age where he likes to go, go, go!

I tried to look online for ideas to keep him entertained on the plane. It seemed odd that *none* of the ideas seemed to really suit Oliver. A lot of people mentioned crayons. Oliver thinks crayons are OK, and he'll play with them for about 30 seconds before dismissing them for something else. People also mentioned stickers, which Oliver hates so much. He literally screams if someone puts a sticker on him.

Finally, I decided to go to the Toys R Us website. I browsed pages and pages of toys, knowing Oliver wouldn't like any of them. The boy just doesn't like most toys. Oliver enjoys figuring out how real things work. Currently, he's obsessed with learning how to pour milk from the carton as well as pulling out and reinserting the pegs that hold our screen door together. He definitely needs something new, something that will pique his interest. I know if I can successfully find a toy that will perplex Oliver, he'll play with it nonstop until he masters how it works.

It took a lot of searching, but I finally found something that I think Oliver will like: a tool bench!

Success! I pick it up later today. My plan is to give it to the little man on the plane. As long as it's not too noisy, we'll bring it to the wedding ceremony, too, so he doesn't freak out there.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Quick Pregnancy Update

Sunday was the first day a stranger commented on my pregnancy, so I'm definitely showing enough for non-family and friends to notice!

Also, today is the fifth day of no bleeding. It's stopped! I hope it stays that way :) Now I'm really looking forward to the ultrasound, and I'm really, really hoping they'll say there's no more blood!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pregnancy Update

My pregnancy symptoms have been close to nil, which makes me both happy and worried. I feel like it's normal to not be very symptomatic during the second trimester, but I also worry that it means something is wrong. Also, I haven't had much of an appetite these last few weeks, and it's hard to make myself eat enough protein. When I do eat, I just want a bowl of cereal or an apple.

The only symptoms I seem to have are a bit of swelling and frequent urination. There are some parts of the day when my wedding rings start to feel tight from my swollen fingers. I'll probably have to remove them soon. As for peeing... it wasn't bad at all during the first trimester, but it's been terrible this whole trimester. There are frequent periods where I have to get up and pee every 20 minutes. Embarrassingly, I've also made sure to always wear a liner because a small amount urine seems to leak out a couple times a day. It's not enough to go through my clothes or anything, but I don't want to stink like pee! I know it's a fairly common side effect of pregnancy, but I don't like it one bit.

The good news is that I've gone two mornings in a row with absolutely no bleeding or spotting. This is the longest I've gone without bleeding in about three weeks.

I'm officially well into my 18th week of pregnancy and have started month five. I don't feel any kicks or movement, which makes me feel confident that the sensations I felt starting in week 12 were not kicks at all. I knew they were too strong, but I couldn't image what else they were. They felt exactly like strong baby kicks. Now, I wonder if they were strong muscle spasms from straining myself too much because I haven't had them at all since I was put on limited activity.

My next check-up is in a week and a half, and I'll get an ultrasound. I can't wait to see the ultrasound and know that everything is going OK. I really hope to see lots of movement, a healthy heartbeat, and no blood in the uterus!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Toddler Play

Oliver's always been clever and has always wanted to figure out how things work. He sees something done once and later has to mimic it. Last week, he saw me using a screw driver to remove the hand railing in our hallway. He took said screwdriver and started trying to stick it in anything that looked like a screw (sometimes, he put it to a screw, but other times, he put it to key holes on door knobs).

I feel like this intelligence is growing with leaps and bounds these days. He can understand nearly everything I tell him or ask him. If I have to get in the oven, he walks to the hallway and stands there, out of harm's way. He started saying some letters, like "F," that I'd never focused on trying to teach him. It makes me happy because it must mean he's listening when we read his ABC book.

Earlier today, he was holding two Lego men, and he announced to me, "Two!" I was floored and so excited. Oliver has understood the concept of one for a while, but I'd been trying to teach him what two means. Anytime he has two of something, I say, "You have two ducks!" or "You have two cookies!" I'll count them for him, "One, two!"

Anyway, I was so excited about the Legos. He got excited that I was excited, and he continued walking around his room, holding his Lego men, saying, "Two," over and over again. Then he grabbed a third and looked at me. I told him, "You have three." He repeated the word, "Two." I laid them out for him and counted, "One, two, three!" So he counted them and said, "Two, two, two." OK, so maybe he didn't completely get the concept of numbers for counting, but it was cute watching him mimic my counting.Oliver's pretend play is constantly growing and getting more extensive. He likes to pretend to sleep, which involves crawling into our bed, tucking himself in, and (with his eyes open) he snores, "Shhhhhh." He also tucks his animals into our bed sometimes. He puts Froggy, Monkey and Panda into his rocking chair and rocks them (usually, he wants me to sing to them, too). He kisses them and has us kiss them, and he has them kiss each other (he makes the kissing sounds for them). His favorite kissing game is playing with this jack-in-the-box (the one where the "Jack" is actually a bear). He has the bear pop out, and then he has his stuffed animals kiss the bear. Oliver also has his animals pretend to eat his Lego blocks.

His favorite thing to play these days is definitely Legos. Multiple times a day, he goes upstairs to build a Lego tower with me. We pour all the blocks onto the floor, and we piece them together. Oliver does an amazing job snapping Lego blocks together and putting them on the tower platform that I build. He sometimes needs my help, but he otherwise does it completely by himself. Usually, he builds straight up, but not always. When it gets too tall, he'll start another column, or he'll ask me to put his pieces on top. Recently, he's started insisting that we use every single piece on the tower, even the car pieces. When we're all done, we get in a pretend fight over who is going to knock the Lego tower over ("You do it!" "No, you!"). Usually, I end up knocking it over, and then we break apart all the pieces and put them away.

It's really exciting for me that Oliver's play is getting more intricate. I love that he's just starting to be able to play with us. This includes playing a rudimentary form of catch. He throws the kickball to us (kind of), and we toss it back lightly to him. He holds his arms out, and he occasionally catches it. Rinse and repeat.

He also enjoys bubbles and is able to blow bubbles himself. Unfortunately, he also really enjoys spilling and pouring these days, so bubbles usually end up all over our sidewalk. Inside, he takes his drinking glasses (since he doesn't typically use a sippy cup) and pours them into things and onto the floor. I have found milk poured into things a day later, after it's started stinking! Day-old milk smells so badly. All I'm saying is, if you come over to our house, and it stinks... blame Oliver!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Meatless Monday: Pizza

Happy Meatless Monday! Wow, I wish I was better at getting recipes posted every week.

Recently, I haven't been cooking as much. I'm on limited house work and activity due to pregnancy complications, so we've been eating a lot of easy meals (pasta and sauce, anyone?). My husband has also been grilling out a lot for us recently. Next week, I think I'll feature his portabollo burgers.
This week, I thought I'd cover pizza. I wanted to do this because, previously, I always bought premade crusts when I wanted to make my own pizza. It's amazing how expensive they are! Why pay $5 for a pizza crust when the grocery store sells frozen pizzas for $3?

A couple months ago, I decided to make my own crust. It is so much cheaper, and it's not that difficult! Then, I decided to start making my own sauce. The flavor is much (much) better than grocery store pizza sauce.

Toppings are your choice, of course. Some good vegetarian options are mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and garlic. I frequently use spinach to make sure my toddler gets his leafy greens. I learned that spinach should go over the sauce but under the cheese. My son started picking out the larger pieces, so now I puree some spinach into the sauce, and it works perfectly.

Here's how to make your own pizza pie. Start with the sauce, since it needs the most time to bake.

Pizza sauce:
4-5 large tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup spinach (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 250 F.

2. Chop your tomatoes, or pulse them in your food processor. They shouldn't be fully pureed yet--keep them as chunks of tomatoes. Mix them with the olive oil and garlic. Spread the mixture on two cookie sheets (it should be pretty thin) and bake for about an hour or until the edges just start to brown.

3. Puree the baked tomato mixture with the honey, salt, and spinach (if you're using). Taste the sauce, and feel free to adjust it by adding more olive oil or dried basil or dried oregano.

While tomatoes are baking, start your crust. Please read the directions on your yeast. I've noticed that the quick-rising yeast often needs hotter water. Some yeast calls for temps of 105 while others call for temps of 130.

Pizza crust:

1 cup warm water
1 package of yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
Chopped veggies (optional)
Sliced basil (optional)

1. Stir the water, sugar, and yeast together until dissolved. Allow mixture to sit for approximately five minutes until it foams a bit. Stir the olive oil and salt into the mixture.

2. Mix flours into the yeast mixture. Once it's too difficult to stir, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes, until it's smooth. If it's sticky as you knead, you'll need to add more flour (all-purpose). You might end up having to add up to a cup more.  Form it into a ball.

3. Take a clean bowl and drizzle the bottom with a touch of olive oil. Put your ball of dough in the bowl and turn it once to coat it. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set it up somewhere high to rise.

4. After about 20 minutes or so (once your tomatoes are done baking), take your dough and punch it down to release the air. Have fun trying to toss the dough, or set it on a pizza pan and use your fingers to push the dough flat and to the edges (you might need some oil on your fingers to do this).

5. Once your pizza dough is spread out on your pizza pan, prick it multiple times with a fork to let it vent. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cheese on the dough. Bake the crust without any other toppings at 400 degrees for about 7-8 minutes.

6. Pull the crust out of the oven and spread the sauce on the crust. Top the crust with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese, veggies, and basil (if using). Bake for another 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees, until the cheese begins to brown.

Per slice (8 slices): Approximately 330 calories and 9 grams of protein

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More Pregnancy Updates

I have yet to go a full day without any bleeding, but today and yesterday were fairly heavy again. I feel like it's my fault because I've had to do more since Andrew returned to work on Tuesday. I try not to pick up Oliver at all, but it's impossible. He had a doctor appointment yesterday, so I had to pick him up to get in and out of the car. I had to pick him up to bring him upstairs for his nap because he refused to go up himself. I also have to pick him up to get him into his high chair. My abdominal muscles felt sore on Tuesday from working for the first time in a week, and I knew that wasn't a good sign. It breaks my heart, but there is just no way to not lift him at all.

I saw my midwife today. My blood pressure is still good at 100/60. I got to hear the heart rate (140s). We went over my ultrasound some more. She told me my risk for a pre-term delivery is "slightly higher" than the 6% I'd been told. I just wanted to cry. I didn't ask her what she thought the chances were. At that moment, I felt emotionally defeated. I'll be 17 weeks tomorrow. I feel like I've gotten so far. I just wish I could know it's not all for nothing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Oliver Knows Some Letters

Oliver and Letters

Oliver's really coming along with his alphabet (or "letters," as we tell him). He officially can recognize and say the following letters: S, R, G, O and I. Oliver has also done pretty well with the letter C, but he calls it the same thing as S (sss). I think he knows they're two different letters, but I don't show him C very often because I don't want him to get confused. He recognizes them whether they're his magnetic letters, puzzle letters, or written on his chalk board. We only use capital letters, though.

Here's how he says each letter:
S - ssssss
R - UGH! (he grunts it out)
G - guh
O - oh
I - eh
C - sssss

I tried to get a video of him saying them a few minutes ago, but it's too close to his nap time, and he wasn't interested. I'll try again after his nap and lunch :)