Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Seventeen Months Old!

Starting next month, I think non-mothers will get annoyed with me referring to Oliver's age by months. I'll have to start saying he's a year and a half! That blows my mind.

This month, Oliver continues to improve on his walking. He walks everywhere, all the time, and his stride is slowly becoming less of a toddle and more of a walk. He really doesn't lead with his head. Oliver walks quickly and occasionally crawls when he wants to get somewhere fast, but he doesn't run yet.

He's also started to get more bumps and bruises. In the last week, he's fallen off our bed (while I was in the shower) and fallen down half the stairs (while I was resting in the bedroom and doing a poor job watching him). He's also hit himself near the eye with the dust pan and closed his fingers in the washing machine. Oh, and part of his pinkie toe was mysteriously torn off! Thankfully, he hasn't gotten seriously hurt, and he gives me his fingers to kiss when he gets an owie.

In the land of potty training, we've gone stale. Things haven't picked up since January when we went to St Thomas. I occasionally try to pick it up again, and he'll even sit on the real toilet with a potty seat, but he doesn't stay for long and doesn't tinkle in it anymore. However, when he "boops," he goes and brings us the wipes. He also laughs when he farts (OK, I taught him that one).

His favorite foods are cheese, chocolate chips, peas, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. He also eats fish sticks, diced turkey dog, berries, diced bananas, Craisins, crackers, yogurt, eggs, and blueberry waffles regularly. He does OK with tomatoes and broccoli off and on. We always give him a serving of our dinner, and we have a rule that he stays at the dinner table until both Daddy and Mommy are done eating, but he usually doesn't eat much of dinner. I don't know if it's because he's not hungry at that time of day or if it's because he doesn't like eating foods he doesn't eat all the time.

Oliver understands so much of what we say. He understands me when I tell him we're going to the store. He understands if I ask him to put something in the garbage or close the door. He understands when I tell him it's time to do laundry or when I ask him if he would like to watch a video. He understands when I ask for Monkey. He understands when I tell him Daddy is home, and he understands when I tell him to put something back. He understands when I tell him not to eat something, and he understands when I tell him to take little bites. He also understands when I tell him he needs a new diaper, and he understands when I tell him I'm going to take a shower. He understands when I ask him for a kiss, and he understands if I ask him to kiss Daddy or Grandma or Monkey or the mouse in "Goodnight, Moon." He understands if I ask him to give me something or share, and he understands when I tell him, "one more" of something. He understands when I tell him it's time for a nap.

Oliver still has a bit of a temper. He gets frustrated and angry when he can't do something, like get his shoes off. He gets upset if I tell him to close the refrigerator door when he wants to look inside (he still does it, though). He whines when I tell him it's nap time in the afternoon (he's really fighting that afternoon nap these days but isn't quite ready to skip it altogether).

He still loves to help. When I'm changing a non-poopy diaper, I give him the wipe, and he wipes himself. He loves to throw garbage away for me, and he loves to close doors for us. His favorite thing is still to do the laundry. When I cook, he brings me lids for my pots and pans (and sometimes gets upset if I don't put them on, but he'll clap for me if I do).

He also gets busy with projects that he gives himself. Sometimes, he wants to put all his magnetic letters in the crib. Sometimes, he wants to put lids on all the pots and pans. There are times he wants to take the pile of clean laundry and put it all in the washing machine, or put all the clothes he can find in the hamper (and then demand that we do laundry). He also will pick up all his toys and put them in the dresser drawers. Other times, he takes all his toys and throws them over the gate that is usually up to block the stairs. When I'm in the shower, he frequently brings me his toys. He'll also decide what he wants to play. He often brings me his "Five Little Monkeys" book, and then he'll leave and bring back Monkey for me to make jump and fall off the bed.

He still kisses Froggy and Monkey, and at night, when we read "Goodnight, Moon," he kisses the mouse goodnight.

Oliver drinks almost exclusively with a regular cup. We have a sippy cup for the car or when he's drinking milk upstairs. As he has for months, he uses his fork and spoon, but he still prefers his hands.

He also has stopped brushing his teeth. Instead, he sucks the tiny dab of toothpaste off the brush. I have to brush his teeth for him, and that's not easy with a toddler!

Oliver still sleeps in his crib at night, but he sleeps on the mattress on the floor for his naps. I hope to have him sleep on his mattress at night in another five or six months.

He still doesn't take off his shirt or pants on his own, but he can (mostly) put a shirt on. I'll start it over his head, and he pulls it down. He can usually get one arm in, but I have to hold the shirt out for him to get the other arm in. He puts socks on his hands but not on his feet (although he can take socks off). He unbuckles shoes but can't figure out how to pull them off (I think he'll learn soon). He takes diapers off (but not on, of course). He doesn't put hats on his own head, but he likes putting them on everyone else.

Oliver can almost flawlessly point to the letter "O," and often can point to "Z." He understands the word "letters," and his favorite letters to play with are C, O and Q.

Here is a quick list of his likes:
*Music videos
*Daddy coming home
*Watching us flush the toilet
*Playing with his letters
*His gear toy
*Getting jobs to do (e.g. "Put your blocks away!")
*Naked time (We give him time before bed to avoid a diaper rash)
*The following books: Five Little Monkeys; All By Myself; Isn't Pig Won't Naughty?; Goodnight, Moon; Jamberry; Are You My Mother?; Go, Dog, Go; and The Littlest Mouse.
*Naming body parts
*Wood chips
*Going to the park

*Other kids
*The bath
*His afternoon nap
*Leaving the park
*Going inside after playing with rocks
*When Mommy stops reading Five Little Monkeys
*Turning off the music videos

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nap = Success

At 2pm, I looked at Oliver and asked, "Would you like to take a nap with Froggy and Monkey?"

Normally, when I ask this question, Oliver raises his arms up for me to pick him up and carry him upstairs. Today, however, he looked at me, and started climbing the stairs himself. I followed him. He walked over to his mattress and climbed in, laying his head down and looking at me. I turned on his sound machine and tucked him in.

I love that he put himself to bed!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meatless Monday: Penne Primavera

It's Meatless Monday again! I must be getting older because it just seems like time flies.

Today, I'm going to share one of my family's favorite recipes, Penne Primavera. I actually got the recipe from (direct link to the recipe: It's so flavorful, light, and healthy, and it's perfect for a warm day.
We make this dish a few times a month, and even my toddler son loves it. His favorite parts are the pasta and peas, but he eats a few pieces of broccoli and carrots (if he's acting picky, I shove little bits of broccoli in the pasta, and he eats them right up).

My husband and I both cook this dish, so it's definitely an easy one. We make a few changes from the original recipe. First, we use more garlic--a lot more garlic. I mince up about four cloves. I toss one minced clove in with the broth and pasta, and the rest cook with (and stay with) the veggies. Second, we use more broth--usually about three cups. When the original recipe is done, we add one more step and remove the lid and allow the broth to reduce down to a sauce, adding lots of extra flavor and even a creaminess to it. We increase the cheese and carrots, and, finally, we use a whole grain pasta for nutrition purposes.

Here's our version of Penne Primavera:

3 cups vegetable broth
8 oz package whole-grain penne pasta
4 minced cloves of garlic, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups broccoli florets
2 small carrots, julienned
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Pour the broth into a medium sauce pan. Add one clove of minced garlic and bring to a boil. Stir in penne and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, until almost al dente.

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil and remaining garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the broccoli and carrots and cook for approximately two minutes, until it's heated through and broccoli is green.

3. Transfer the partially cooked pasta and broth into the skillet. Mix in peas. Cover the skillet and continue cooking over medium heat or until pasta is al dente and vegetables are tender. Remove the cover and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, until the broth thickens into a sauce. Sprinkle each serving with a 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Here's a quick look at the nutrition and cost of our altered version of Penne Primavera:
Approximately 400 calories/serving
Approximately 18.5 grams of protein/serving
Costs approximately $2/serving

Oliver's 2nd Music Class

Oliver accompanied me to parent-tot music class this morning. He napped for about twenty minutes in the car before class, but then I had to wake him so we wouldn't be late. That made for a rough start. He just wanted to lay in my arms like a baby. We walked into the classroom, and he was overwhelmed with the sight of two other kids in the room and started crying. The teacher commented, "He cries like a little baby!" Thank you.

It took Oliver about twenty minutes to get over his clinginess to me. Again, the other kids ran around and played, and the smaller kids crawled around the room. Oliver really didn't leave my side until close to the end of class.

He liked the parts where I held him and danced; he hated the parts where the teacher talked. He finally started having a good time when he got to put away instruments and props. I gave him our scarves and asked him to put them in the teacher's bag. He left my side, walked across the room, and put the scarves in the bag. I told him what a good boy he is. The teacher set that bag down by the table and picked up another one full of maracas. She handed them out, and Oliver thought they were OK. When maraca time was over, I asked him to go put his back in the bag. Instead of walking up to the teacher, he went to the table where the bag of scarves were. It was pretty cute. There were only a few minutes left in the class, but Oliver felt brave enough to roam the room after that (always looking back for me to make sure I was still there).

The end of class made me feel more confident that he will eventually enjoy the class. Next week, there is no class, so his adjustment will probably start all over again in April, but I don't think it'll be too much longer before he starts to like music class.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Walking Like It's No Big Thing

Oliver has turned into a pro walker. He officially walks everywhere and almost never crawls. He doesn't stumble, and he's starting to "toddle" less and less. He walks straight ahead and with confidence. Since he's started walking, he almost never falls, and if he does, it's just on his butt.

In the end, I think it was a good thing Oliver took so long to start walking. It hasn't ended in mischief like every person in the world told me it would. Every time I'd tell someone that he still wasn't walking, they'd say, "Be glad! It changes everything." The only thing Oliver's walking has changed is that he walks instead of crawls, so he can wander places (like the store and the sidewalk) that he couldn't before. He's much happier, and he's showing a little more independence from us.
Hurray for walking!

Next up: running. Although he's been walking for weeks now, he still hasn't started running. A few times, he's picked up his pace, but no running yet. Soon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Whirlwind of Emotions

I'm afraid this pregnancy is already more symptomatic than my last. In addition to not being able to stand the smell of Andrew's chapstick (so happy it's gone!), I'm feeling temperature extremes all the time. I'm either literally shivering, or I'm so hot that I start to panic. My emotions are all over the place, too. I feel so, so sad today for absolutely no reason. I just keep feeling like I'm failing everyone, and I don't know why I'm feeling that way.

Oliver and I went to the park (it's in the high 70s today). I let him go down a slide, but it turned out to be hot! He started crying, and I felt so awful. I cuddled him and kissed him, and he was fine, but I was crying, too, and had to leave the crowded park.

I don't remember being this emotional with Oliver. I looked back on a blog entry from that pregnancy, and I guess I was: I'm glad I reread that entry because it's exactly how I feel right now. It makes it seem more temporary and a lot less crazy!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Meatless Monday: Mostaccioli

My Meatless Monday recipe this week is one of my favorites. It reminds me of my childhood in Chicago, when all my relatives would make "mostaccioli." When someone told me they were making mostaccioli, they meant they were making a mostaccioli bake. It always involved pasta sauce, cheese, and mostaccioli. Then, it would either have pieces of Italian sausage baked into it, or else it would have Italian sausage halves baked on top. I have memories of my grandfather (actually, my step-grandpa, a very proud South Side Irish man) making mostaccioli with Italian sausage on top for me (even after I became vegetarian), instructing me to just "pick off the meat."

A few months ago, I scoured the internet looking for a vegetarian version of this childhood favorite. I found a recipe from Kraft, altered it a bit, and found a new favorite. The best part about this recipe is that it's so simple, but it tastes incredible.

Like most pasta recipes, you can play with this one. I've made this bake with spinach and without. I've made it with fresh basil in it and on top when I've had extra in the fridge. If you're feeling saucy, you can sautee up some onions, garlic, and green pepper and mix it in. And, of course, you don't have to use the ground-meat substitute, but I encourage you to try it and see what you think! If you do try it, I recommend either BOCA brand ground crumbles or Morningstar Farms brand crumbles. What's nice about using the vegetarian substitute for ground beef is you don't have to worry if it's cooked through or not. In this easy bake, you pop it in the oven while it's still frozen! And, if you're a stay-at-home parent like me, you can make this ahead of time, when your little one is napping, and just keep it in the fridge until the evening when you're ready to pop it in the oven. Just give it an extra five minutes baking time.

Ladies and gentlemen, the recipe:

Mostaccioli, serves 8

1/2 of a one-pound box mostaccioli pasta
1 (12 oz) package BOCA or Morningstar Farms ground crumbles
1 (26 oz) jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
1 (7 oz) package part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded spinach (optional)
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil, divided (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cook pasta according to package instructions

3. Combine cooked pasta with the crumbles, sauce and half (1/4 cup) the parmesan cheese. Stir in the spinach and basil (reserve a small handful of the basil of the top) if using. Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 14 x 4 inch baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese and the reserved basil.

4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until heated through and cheese is bubbly. Cost per seving: Approximately $1.60
Calories per serving: Approximately 325
Protein per serving: Approximately 21 grams

Oliver's First Music Class

Oliver and I had our first parent-tot music class today, courtesy of my mother-in-law. I've been so excited for this class because Oliver loves songs and singing. He wants us to put on music videos for him all the time, and if we sing one song to him, we have to sing ten. He start his day with a song and end it with a song. So, yes, it seemed like a great idea.

The class starts at 9:45am, which is a difficult time because Oliver usually takes a short nap around 9am or 9:30am. We arrived at the class, and he was upset to see all the other kids. He clung to me and buried his head in my lap. The rest of the toddlers ran around, exploring the room, staring at other kids, and playing with the blinds. I was a little jealous of the other moms and kids. It was clear that the other moms all got little breaks while their kids played. With Oliver, we still don't get that. I figure that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, though. Maybe they were jealous that my son is a big snuggler.

The class was designed for ADD toddlers, I swear. Each activity lasted about two minutes. Oliver would just start to get interested in something and grab for the drum, maraca, or whatever was the toy of the minute, and then we'd have to put it away and start the next activity. One song/game involved the teacher playing music faster and faster, but every time she stopped, we'd have to stop moving/walking/dancing. Oliver didn't want to be put down the entire time, so I held him and would walk and bounce to the music. When it'd stop, I'd do an exaggerated freeze. Oliver started cracking up, and then that activity was over, too.

At one point, a boy who just turned one got upset about having to give up his maraca. He let out a scream. That did it for Oliver. He dissolved into a sobbing mess, and laid in my arms like an infant. The teacher thought he was sobbing because he had to give up his maracas. Nope.

To be fair, there was one other girl there who was pretty reserved. She'd turned two in December, and the class is supposed to be up to the age of two. However, because the next age bracket is much louder and rowdier, the instructor let her stay in the tot class for one more season. She was very quiet and didn't talk once. She was interested in the instruments, but she didn't play them. She was the only other kid besides Oliver who wouldn't shake a maraca.

The 45 minutes went by slowly. I felt awful for Oliver because it was clear he was miserable in the class, but I also felt confident that the class would end up being good for him. It's every week for a few months, and I think he'll slowly get used to having the other kids around. It'll help him come out of his shell a bit (I hope). Also, I know that, once he gets the routine of the class down, he'll enjoy it much more. Oliver is one of those children that really thrives on routine. The class was too new for him today, and maybe it will be next week, but I think it'll be a lot better after that.

I have a new plan for next week. I'll leave the house around 8:45am, get a Starbucks, and drive around the neighborhood so Oliver can doze before we head over to the rec center. I'll get some relaxation time, and he won't be so crabby in class!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Day in the Life

Here is a day in the life of a stay-at-home mom of one:

6am - Oliver wakes up. Today, he is in a good mood and wants to play with his stuffed animals. We play with them for about five minutes and then head downstairs. I chop up some blackberries and bananas and mix them in his yogurt for breakfast. I sit with him while he eats breakfast and drinks water, and I let him watch's Sesame Street video a few times (four times).

6:20am - Oliver and I do the dishes leftover from the night before. He loves doing the dishes! Then, he helps me brew the coffee.

6:45am - Oliver and I head upstairs. I clean him up from breakfast and get him dressed for the day. We set up his mattress for his nap later, and we play with his puzzles.

7:15am - I bring Oliver in to Andrew. Oliver wakes up his daddy. They play puzzles and read stories, and Oliver hangs out while Andrew gets ready for work. I get an hour to myself. I make breakfast (slice some bread, cheese, and a hard-boiled egg) and watch an old episode of Psych . I also read the news online and check Facebook and enjoy the coffee Oliver helped brew.

8:15am - I put a lunch together for Andrew (which just involves grabbing leftovers and snacks from the fridge) while he and Oliver share a bowl of cereal. Andrew heads out to work, and Oliver then sits on the potty for about five minutes (no pee-pee).

8:20am - I go upstairs to take a shower. Oliver brings me his toys and throws them into the tub. I name them for him and make his toy dog bark. Oliver plays fetch as I toss them out of the tub; he brings them back to me.

8:40am - After getting dressed (I put on fresh underwear but then just put back on my pajamas) and brushing my hair, Oliver and I head downstairs to start a load of laundry. He loves laundry and is so excited about this chore. We also unload the dish machine, and he enjoys putting away the spoons.

9am - Oliver's back on the potty. He still hasn't peed, so I think he'll pee soon! is playing his Sesame Street song on youtube, and I'm updating my log.

9:10am - I give up on Oliver peeing in the potty and reluctantly put him in his underpants and pants. I know I'll have a mess to clean up soon! Then, Oliver and I practice numbers. I show him the number 3, and we sing "One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians" over and over. He loves the song!

9:20am - Oliver walks up to his bike (tricycle) and shouts, "More!" This means he wants to ride his bike. I tell him he can ride it but needs to wear shoes first. So, I spend the next few minutes wrestling the shoes and tying them. Then, I sit Oliver up on the bike. He puts his feet on the pedals, and I walk backwards, in front of the bike, peddling his feet and making it go. We make three passes through the downstairs before I get too physically exhausted to continue (try hunching over, walking backwards, and pedaling a bike with your hands). Oliver gets upset and wants to keep riding his bike.

9:30am - I take Oliver upstairs to put away clothes that are left in the basket from yesterday. I put them away, and he pulls them out of the drawers, squealing with delight. It turns into a game of chase and peek-a-boo. It's fun for me, too, but as he "runs" away, I'm also trying to water and plants, dig out the shoes behind the bed, and put away his puzzles and books. Once we're done, I'm exhausted again.

9:45am - We go back downstairs, and Oliver sits on his potty for about two minutes and eats a few Goldfish crackers and drinks some water that I get for him. Still no pee-pee. The washer finishes and beeps. Oliver yes, "Siss!" which means, "It's done!" He stands up from the potty and walks to the washing machine. We switch out the load to the dryer. Oliver starts walking around the kitchen, grabbing random items like the kitchen towels, and brings them to the washing machine and shoves them in. It's a little break for me, so I run over to update this log before I forget what all has gone down since my last update on here. He still doesn't have pants on.

9:55am - I pour a small bowl of cereal with a cup of coffee for myself. I play peek-a-boo with Oliver (who hides behind the door of the washing machine and jumps out) as I quickly eat. Oliver comes over to steal a few bites here and there. We go to the washing machine and load all the breakfast dishes. Oliver puts a few dirty spoons in the drawer, and I have to sneak those back out when he's not looking.

10:05am - Oliver and I go upstairs. I get him in a disposable diaper (knowing he will likely poop in the next two hours, it'll save me a cloth one) and pants. I get him his tooth brush, and he brushes his teeth while I brush and floss. He opens and closes drawers and hides his toothbrush in one while I get dressed. I give him some lotion as I lotion up and tie my hair back.

10:15am - I bring down the laundry for Oliver to start loading into the washing machine. I run upstairs to open the windows and run back downstairs to turn off the furnace. He's mostly done already! I go and check the weather to see if it's warm enough to go to the park yet. It's 55 degrees and sunny, so I'm going to stick my head out back to see if it's park weather.

10:30am - Oliver and I arrive at the park, and it's lovely weather! He enjoys climbing the stairs, sliding down the big slide, playing in wood chips, and getting pushed on the swing.

11am - Oliver and I arrive back home. He checks on the laundry as I organize our shoes at the door and hang up our jackets. Then, I make him half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and get him a glass of milk. As he eats his lunch, I talk to him about the park as I fold the clothes from the dryer and hand-wash the spaghetti pot from last night. Oliver's still eating, so I start a video for him while I update this log. I also reheat the mug of coffee I never finished.

11:15am - Oliver's still hungry, so I separate out some Craisins for him and peel some string cheese. I also noticed he hasn't drank any of his milk, so I swap it out for some water, which he happily drinks. I then open up a few coupon sites (Safeway and to see what's on sale.

11:20am - I load a few coupons to my card, but there aren't any amazing deals to speak of this week. Oliver's done eating, so I'll have to do my meal planning for tomorrow and the weekend during his nap later this morning.

11:40am - Oliver's asleep. I'd gotten to meditate for about fifteen minutes while Oliver laid on his mattress. He fell asleep, and I quietly crept downstairs, reheated my coffee (again) and grabbed a yogurt and a pear. I'll eat while I browse recipes and work out a dinner plan for the next few days.

11:55am - Meal planning is done through Monday! My grocery list is ready for Oliver & I to go shopping today or tomorrow. Now, I'll quick clean his tray, and then it's time to relax, email my husband, check Facebook, read the news, and play on Pogo.

12:45pm - Oliver's up! He woke up in a good mood again. We made our way downstairs, where he was delighted to discover that the wash was done. I moved it up to the dryer. As he inspected the washer, I emptied the bathroom trash cans and took the garbage out to the shed. Then, Oliver and I brewed decaf (he expects to brew coffee every time he wakes up). I held him as I scrubbed the counters and then let him play with the coffee containers as I called to activate my new credit card. He was fascinated as I shredded the old cards.

1pm - Oliver "booped," so I got him clean and put him in a cloth diaper. Then I took him out front to make a slow walk to the mail box to mail a recipe card to my aunt for my cousin's wedding shower. We ran into a neighbor on the way, and I stopped to chat while Oliver played with rocks and hid behind my legs.

1:30pm - Listed Andrew's textbooks for sale on Amazon while Oliver sat on my lap. I also checked out prices of the new books he needs for this section on Amazon, Ebay and Barnes and Noble, but they're still too expensive. Oliver started to get mad, so I'll check more sites later.

1:45pm - Organize coupons and head to the store. Half way there, I realize that, although I remembered the reusable bags, I forgot the grocery list. I decide I can shop by memory. Oliver and I meander through the store and manage to get everything on our list, in spite of its absence.

2:30pm - Get home, unload groceries, and organize the fridge.

2:40pm - Sit Oliver down with a snack of blueberries (which he found in the fridge and was so excited about), sliced cheese, Goldish crackers, sliced olives and water. I also make myself a snack of sliced bread, cheese, and olives.

2:45pm - I check my email and see one of the textbooks have sold. $145! Of course, one of the books I need to buy for Andrew this section is in the $200 range. Anyway! I log into Amazon, print the packing slip, re-clean the prep counter, dig out the mailing wrap from our storage closet, cut Oliver more cheese to keep him happy, start him a video (, of course!) and wrap the book.

2:55pm - Oliver's starting to act out and be crabby. It's definitely time to play and have some one-on-one time without worrying about work. We play "cookie jar" (a shape-sorting toy) for ten minutes together, and then I get him set up to color. He was more interested in the tape holding up the paper! Oh, well, After that, we played with his mailbox toy for another ten minutes together.

3:20pm - I sit on the couch to call Andrew while Oliver plays with toys nearby. We talk for a few minutes, and, after we hang up, I have difficulty motivating myself to get up. I'm sleepy, and sitting and feeling the sun shining on me is very relaxing.

3:25pm - Oliver and I go upstairs. I change my shirt because I got olive juice (oil?) all over it, and I change Oliver's diaper and put him in some underpants. We put away the laundry, and then Oliver heads back downstairs. I follow.

3:35pm - Oliver wants to ride his bike again. I'm so tired. At first, I hear myself saying no. Then I look at him and decide to pedal him a bit. I go upstairs to get his shoes, put them on him, and sit him up on his bike. Then, I bend in half and walk backwards while pedaling his feet. We go across the house twice, but that's all I can do. I tell him, "All done!" He whimpers a bit and tries to push it around before admitting defeat. I take him to the computer chair to sit on my lap while I update my blog.

3:45pm - I let Oliver sit on the desk and play with the printer. I keep my hand on his back, spotting him, and relax.

4pm - Andrew calls, and we make plans for the weekend. Oliver continues feeling crabby and whines about everything (he wants me to turn on the videos or open drawers or hand him things). I'm starting to feel ready for the day to be over (count down to 6:15pm when Andrew gets home). I know he's probably tired from not napping much, but it's getting close to his 7-8pm bedtime, so I need to push him through these last few hours. I put him on the potty and hope we don't go 0 for 4. I let him snack on chocolate chips (his favorite) on the potty.

4:15pm - We're 0 for 4 on the potty today. He hasn't tinkled in his pants yet, either, but I wish we had a goal! Oh, well. Meanwhile, Oliver's crabbiness continues, and so does my exhaustion. Two more hours to go! Oliver would now like to play in the washing machine. Meanwhile, I'm going to scoop out a taste of the basil-lime sorbet I made yesterday and take a photo of it for the recipe site,

4:20pm - We go upstairs, read books, and play with his gear toy. I'm struggling to stay awake, and so is Oliver.

4:40pm - Oliver heads back downstairs. And then back upstairs. The game of stairs has begun.

4:45pm - Oliver tinkles on the floor. I wipe the floor and then take him up to get a cloth diaper and new pants.

4:50pm - I chop three roma tomatoes in half and de-seed them (we're having breakfast for dinner tonight, and English breakfast tomatoes will be our vegetable). I also chop some spinach and turkey dog very finely for Oliver's omelette. I chop extra turkey dog for him to snack on as I chop.

5pm - I slice some French bread on a whim to make some French toast. I hand Oliver a slice, and he runs off with it. I give him a glance every minute or so to make sure he's OK, and he starts playing peek-a-boo with me. Super cute.

5:05pm- Oliver grabs his bag of diapers and brings them to me. I smell boop. It's a stinky one, too. I take him upstairs to change his diaper (and put him into another cloth one).

5:10pm - I'm heading back upstairs to clean his toilet. I noticed it had a water ring when I was dumping his boop into it. After cleaning the upstairs toilet, I'll do the downstairs one, too. Then, I'd better wash my hands.

5:20pm - Oliver reaches up at the cereal cabinet and whines. I ask him if he would like some Cheerios, and he continues reaching. I put some in a little bowl on the floor for him, and he starts throwing them all around. I guess he wasn't hungry. In the midst of the throwing, he knocks over his glass of water, which spills everywhere. I wipe up the water, smear Cheerios, and feel even more pooped. I don't do a good enough job wiping up the water because Oliver slips when he stands up. He's OK, but he was upset for a minute.

5:25pm - Oliver's happily playing with Tupperware, so I get busy and clean the front of the washer and dryer as well as the back door windows. I put away the video games he'd pulled off the shelves, and I run the disposable diapers upstairs (we'd purchased a new back at the store today). I also quickly sweep the kitchen and dining area. In the midst of my work (5:30pm), Andrew calls and says he's heading home. Less than 45 minutes left!

5:45pm - I get out the pans I'll need for cooking and the bowls I'll need for mixing. Oliver comes up to be held and snuggled. He'll want to be held until dinner time which makes me feel loved every day but also makes cooking dinner a struggle. I put on some of my music. We're at the home stretch!

5:55pm - After snuggling Oliver for a bit, I put him down. I start cooking, hoping dinner only takes about 20 minutes to make. About fifteen minutes into cooking, Andrew calls to chat. Oliver's at my feet, sobbing from not being held, and I'm trying to flip Oliver's omelette so it doesn't burn while there's hot oil flying every which way from the tomatoes. I was a bit short with Andrew and told him I needed to go. Oops.

6:20pm - Andrew arrives home and dinner is almost done. I swear, no one has ever loved another person more than I love him. He came in and scooped up Oliver (in spite of Oliver's cries of protest) and took him upstairs for five minutes for me to finish dinner. It feels good to have a few minutes to myself!

6:45pm - Dinner is finished. I love spending time with my family! We talked and laughed, and Oliver snapped out of his foul mood for a short while. He delighted us with his babble and laughter. After dinner, I started the pans soaking, and I put all the sticky dishes in the dish machine. The rest, I'll take care of in the morning. Andrew has now taken Oliver upstairs to get him ready for his night time routine. I'm meeting them upstairs at 7:10pm with milk to read a few more stories and then to say goodnight to our little one.

7:30pm - Oliver is asleep. Andrew and I enjoy a quiet evening together, and I'm asleep by 9pm.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First Doctor's Visit

I went to my PCP today to get a doctor's note stating I'm pregnant for insurance purposes. It's nice having the official confirmation, and he also gave me my due date--November 14.

I'm so excited. I think it's finally hit me that I'm pregnant, and I'm so happy. There's a lot less confusion and uncertainty this time around. With Oliver, we had to come to grips with the fact that we were going to be parents. I had no idea how to care for a baby, and I was scared.

This time, I feel confident in Andrew and me. I'm excited to give parenthood another go. My concerns are different. Will the new baby wake Oliver? Will the new baby nurse as easily as Oliver? Will the new baby cry as much as Oliver or be an "easy" baby? Will delivery be even easier this time? Will this baby come after his/her due date, too?

Worrying about Insurance. Again.

Insurance is so stressful. I believe that it's important to be insured, and I've known a few people who haven't been insured and ended up in bankruptcy. That said, I've never had a lapse in my insurance.

Insurance is also expensive. At my husband's work, a family plan is $850. His take home pay is roughly $2,000/month, and when you factor in our mortgage, utilities, HOA and food, his family plan is literally unaffordable to us.

Currently, I'm enrolled in a $100/month individual health plan. It doesn't cover pregnancies at all. Also, it doesn't cover anything until I meet my annual deductible (which is a few thousand). I'm pregnant and under-insured. Judge me if you must, but I'm applying for state insurance (CHP+), which is what Oliver is enrolled in. We pay a small annual fee, but he gets free preventative care and nearly-free sick care.

It's stressful to apply for CHP+. For one, you can't be insured. So, I've cancelled my insurance policy effective next week.

Next, I need (of course) documentation that I'm pregnant. I went to my PCP today and took a test in the office to get that confirmation and letter. Unfortunately, the application also says that the letter from my doctor needs to say how many babies I'm expecting. Although I assume it's just one, there's no way for my doctor to know. I'd have to go to an OB and get an ultrasound and pay for that out of pocket. That seems a little ridiculous, so I'm hoping it's a part of the application that can be filled out later.

I'm worried, though, that when I go to the health department next week, they'll insist I have that information. If they do, I'll officially be uninsured until I see an OB. That makes me so nervous. Any delay in getting presumptive eligibility is a gap in insurance.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fun at the Children's Museum

Today was cold. Even though it's winter, we're not used to that this season. Anyway, we decided to join Shawna and Owen on a trip to the Children's Museum. Her friend Holly came and brought her two girls, Savannah and Briley.

I truly didn't expect Oliver to have as much fun as he had. He enjoyed the museum completely. Everything was fun and interesting to him. We could have stayed all day, and he would have had a blast.

He played with a train set a little bit with Owen. Then, I took him to a painting station where he rubbed paint in his hair. After that, I decided to take him to the baby/toddler area. Oliver was completely thrilled with the over-sized teddy bears. He dove into them, pet them, and pointed out their heads, ears, eyes, noses, and feet. Super cute!

He took to a toy ball that he found in the toy collection and carried it around with him for quite some time. I started hiding it under other toys and behind toy doors. He had a blast finding it. At one point, he left it on the floor for a few minutes. Owen came by and took it. Oliver walked up to him and snatched it away.

He also enjoyed the gears, which he put away, and the wooden eggs, which he also put away. He liked the steering wheel, and he liked the spinning, wooden animals. He had a great time!

Oliver Loves the Children's Museum

Healthy Immune Systems

It's sounds silly, but I try really hard to not worry about germs. Lots of people I know carry antibacterial sprays and lotions in their purses and disregard food if someone reached into a collective bowl or if it dropped on the floor. Of course, I hear the stories of germs on doorknobs and grocery cart handles and juke box buttons. They're gross, and I cringe as much as the next person.

Still, I also am familiar with the Hygiene Hypothesis, which seems to grow stronger with more support each and every month. Most recently, I read that boys seem to have lower asthma rates than girls because parents don't worry as much about boys getting dirty. They're allowed to be outside and get in muck, and their immune systems are, consequently, stronger. Girls are more likely to be kept clean and sanitary, and so their bodies are more likely overreact to dust and pollen and common allergens.

In my personal experience, it rings true. I try not to wash Oliver's hands all the time or keep him from touching public items. In fact, I only use water to wash his hands and face most days. I've expected him to get ill a lot in his younger years, hoping it will pay off for the rest of his life. However, even I'm surprised with how infrequently he gets sick. A couple weeks ago, I thought he and I were coming down with a cold. He woke up coughing for two mornings in a row, and I woke up with a sore throat for a few days. Nothing ever manifested. This means we've gone all winter without so much as a cold. Every time we go to a public place with kids, I'm convinced he's going to catch something. We go to the park whenever there is a nice day, and we've been to Chuck E Cheese and McDonald's playground. He's surrounded by coughing kids with runny noses, but he doesn't get sick.

Meanwhile, there are weeks when it seems that all my friends on Facebook are sick, and they complain that their children are sick, too.

Of course, I don't think bad parenting leads to sickly kids. I believe that almost every parent tries to do what they think is best for his/her children. In this case, letting my son get dirty and gross is what I truly believe is best, but I know that there are good, educated parents who disagree with me. Parents should do what they think is best, and if trying to sanitize their children's environment as much as possible sounds best to them, I think they should do it.

For us, though, it seems to be working out. So, let people stare when I let Oliver gnaw on the grocery cart handle and put his hands on the floor. It's what I think is best.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Walk in the Store

Andrew and I took Oliver with us to the grocery store this morning. He's been walking almost exclusively lately, so we decided to let him walk through the store with us. When we arrived, we grabbed a small cart and set him on the floor. Oliver had no idea what to do and just stood there for a couple minutes, looking around. We coaxed him into taking a step, and he broke out in a large smile.

Oliver toddled quickly through the produce area, excited about his new freedom. A few times, he tried to go down an aisle on his own, but we were able to quickly redirect him. He was so happy! Andrew would walk down an aisle and pop out at him, making him squeal in delight!

As long as I go during a slow time, maybe around 11am, I should be able to take Oliver and let him walk in the store. It'll teach him how to walk for longer periods and to stay with me.

Meatless Monday: Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

Another Meatless Monday is upon us, and it's time for me to give you another delicious recipe. I hope you're enjoying learning to cook without meat and learning it can be delicious (and is often cheaper and healthier).

This week's recipe is a comfort food. It is not the healthiest recipe in my collection, but it is cheap (about $2.25/serving) and easy. Everyone makes enchiladas differently; my sister, for example, adds black olives to hers. My friend uses kidney beans instead of pinto. This is a basic version. I've tried to substitute whole grain and even spinach tortillas for the flour tortillas, and it's ended up a disaster each time (they turn to goo). So, I recommend sticking with the plain, old flour tortillas.

Bean and Cheese Enchiladas

1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups shredded pepper jack (or a Mexican mix) cheese
2 (10 oz) cans enchilada sauce
8 flour tortillas

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix beans, chili powder, cumin and salt in a medium bowl. Slightly mash most of the beans. Stir to combine. Add in 1.5 cups of the cheese and mix. Stir in one can of enchilada sauce.

3. Open the second can of enchilada sauce and pour 1/4 cup evenly in the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 4" baking dish. Pour the rest of the can in a bowl.

4. Brush one side of a tortilla with enchilada sauce. Spoon one cup of the bean mixture in the center on the sauced side. Roll up (like a burrito) and place seam side down in baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and bean mixture.

5. Pour remaining enchilada sauce on top of the enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated throughout.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I just got back from the shortest trip ever to visit my good friend, Stasa, in Miami, Florida. I'd gotten one of those American Airlines credit cards, which gave me enough miles for two round-trip tickets. I took my friend Aminta, and, in return, she paid for our hotel room for a night. We did an overnight flight on Friday night into Saturday morning, and then we left back to Denver on Sunday evening. Two days and one night in Miami... short but fun! Besides, you can't beat free travel.

My Miami trip was blogged about here:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Stinky Smells!

When pregnant with Oliver, I noticed my sense of smell seemed stronger, but it wasn't really a big issue or a noticeable symptom of the pregnancy. This time around, I can't escape the smells, and I'm only four weeks in. Something about Andrew (and it smells artificial) stinks, and I can't bear to kiss him. It makes me gag! How awful is that? I keep taking partially full garbage bags out to the shed because I can't stand the smell of them, either. So far, it's the strongest symptom of the pregnancy, and I don't like it! Thankfully, I don't feel nauseated from the stinky smells. That would be the worst. I'm hoping that I won't have any issue with nausea whatsoever, just like I never had with my last pregnancy. I'd take stinky smells over an upset stomach any day of the week! However, these stinky smells are no fun, and I hope it's short-lived. The garbage can is empty and closed, and I still smell it, and it's gross. It smells like egg shells.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy Birthday, Phuong!

Tonight, I baked birthday cookies for my friend's birthday dinner.  This is how they looked before I left the house:

And this is how they looked after I arrived.  Oops.  It's the thought that counts, right?

Birthday cake:

The birthday girl with her brothers and Aminta and Cactus:

Awe!  Two of my favorite people:

Richard with the pups:

Happy Birthday, Phuong!


Last night, I drank about four cups of decaf and had to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes. On one of those occasions, I stared at the box of pregnancy tests in front of me. There were three in the pack, so I reasoned that using one wouldn't hurt anything. So, I did. As soon as I did, I cursed myself. Of course it wouldn't work because I was peeing nonstop. How could there be any hormone in my urine? Dang it.

Still, I wanted to look and just see what the test said. After all, the box claimed that 100% of pregnant women test positive four days before their missed period (I bought a new brand). I waited and waited and finally looked. Negative. I never thought I'd be so disappointed, but I just wanted to cry. How silly, I know, especially since I knew I'd retest in the morning.

I kept pathetically looking at my test to see if it would change when I decided I noticed a very faint, almost non-existent line. Seriously. If I held it at a normal angle, I couldn't see it at all. But, if I held it up to the light and turned it just so, I could see a faint line. It was so faint, I wasn't certain. I grabbed the box and looked at the illustration. Sure enough, the line in the illustration was exactly where I was seeing the kind-of line on my test. I ran to Andrew and asked him if he could see it. At first, he couldn't. Then, he took it to the kitchen where the light was bright and played with the angles. Finally, he agreed with me, "I do see it!"

Unlike the last test, the lines on this one were pink. The last test was blue, and the color of the faint line looked like a shadow. You can't mistake pink for a shadow! I was excited but also wondered if our eyes could be playing tricks on us. I mean, seriously, I'd look at it and not see the line at all, and then I'd turn it every which way and finally get a glimpse of a hint of a line. I knew we wouldn't be convinced until the morning.

So, this morning, after Oliver woke me up at 6am, we made our way downstairs. I took the test right away. The control line popped up, and I couldn't help but stare at the test to see if the "pregnant" line would pop. After about 30 seconds, Oliver got frustrated with me for not helping him make coffee, so I set the test down and got to work with Oliver. Two more minutes passed quickly, and I went back to the bathroom.


No confusion, no shadow of a line, 100% positive. I felt surprise, delight, anxiety, overwhelmed, wonderful. I looked at Oliver who was shoving Froggy and his music toys into the washing machine and I said aloud, "Two. We're going to have two."

I gave Andrew another half hour to sleep, and then Oliver and I went upstairs. He wandered off to play with his gears (a toy he loves), and I crawled into bed with Andrew. I cuddled him and announced, "You're going to be a father of two."

He rolled over, snuggled me, and asked, "Was it clear this time?" I told him it was, and he fell back asleep. Later that morning, he insisted he knew he'd be successful after the first try. I said, "Now the only thing I want to know is if you gave me a little X or a little Y!"

Andrew had joked previously that he can only make boys. His parents had two children, both boys, and his father has only one sibling, a brother. His paternal grandfather was orphaned after his family died from disease, so Oliver's whole paternal lineage has had only male children.

Obviously, I know that it's nearly 50/50 to have a boy or girl (actually, I think the statistic is 53% chance to have a girl), but it seems like some people really do seem more likely to have one sex over another. I have a first cousin, Dina, who has eight children, and they are all boys. All of them. Isn't that wild?

I really am dying to know if we'll have a boy or a girl (16 more weeks until we find out!). For me, I'd like a girl. I have a good relationship with my mother, and she was always close to her mother, who was always close to her mother. I see these relationships, and I want it to continue. I want a daughter. On the other hand, having a daughter means we'd have to move eventually (we live in a two bedroom townhome). I don't want to move. I love our townhome, and I could picture Andrew and I staying here our whole lives. Seriously. Plus, if we have two boys, they have the potential to be best friends, whereas a boy and a girl will be in separate activities (all sports and activities seem to be divided into boys and girls) and have separate friends. A girl would also involve buying a whole new wardrobe.

I know my personality, and I know I'm going to be happy with whichever we have. I know if the doctor says, "It's a boy," I'm going to be instantly relieved and happy that we won't have to change our lives much, that we won't have to worry about moving. However, I know if the doctor says, "It's a girl," I'm going to be delighted to know that I'll have a daughter to raise and know. I won't say our boy's name now, but I will say our girl's name. If we have a girl, her name will be Joanna Elizabeth, named after my grandmother.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pregnant? Maybe!

I bought a generic early-test pregnancy test. It was a two pack, and it said you can test as early as five days before your missed period (which, for me, was yesterday). Of course, the accuracy of testing that early is only 53% (only 53% of pregnant women will test positive that early). Yesterday morning, I took the test anyway, but I didn't even get the control line. I'm not sure what I did wrong, but it definitely did not work.

This morning (four days before my missed period), the accuracy is supposed to be 74%. I felt pretty comfortable with those odds, and so I used the second test. Thankfully, the control line popped up right away. At least the test worked! But, tragically, I couldn't read the test after two minutes. There was the faintest line I've ever seen in my life. A faint line is supposed to be positive, but this one was so faint that it could have been a shadow. I showed it to Andrew, who thought it was a real line. I read up on the test online, and, sure enough, it said that tests can get an evaporation line in the test window, which can resemble a shadow of a line. I read that if you see a line that is so faint it could be a shadow, that you should test again in 1-2 days.

And, so, with two tests under my belt, I'm still not sure if I'm pregnant. I have to say, I think I am. I've had sudden, random feelings of anger, which I experienced throughout my last pregnancy (the hormones must cause me to feel angry, lol!). I've also had a sweet tooth, which I don't usually have, and I never had with my pregnancy with Oliver. Finally, Andrew had on a new chap stick or something the other day that was so gross, I couldn't kiss him for about 24 hours. It really made me want to vomit. Also, I've experienced a bit of cramping throughout the week, and, although I haven't had any nausea, my stomach has done a few flip-flops. I also haven't been very hungry, which actually is one of the symptoms I had with my last pregnancy. When I was first pregnant with Oliver, I lost five pounds before I knew I was pregnant because I just wasn't hungry. Finally, I was so exhausted yesterday that I couldn't make dinner and had to lay down on the couch for half an hour instead (that's another symptom I had with my last pregnancy, and it lasted the first two trimesters). On the other hand, my breasts haven't been tender at all. I say that because breast tenderness was my first sign of pregnancy last time.

Like my last pregnancy post, I'm not going to publish this one until later. Once I've verified I'm pregnant (if I'm pregnant), we're going to hold off telling almost everyone. I think we'll tell Andrew's parents before my parents this time (as we told my parents first last time). Andrew and I discussed telling them when we celebrate his dad's birthday in early April. We'd probably then tell my parents later that same day. Most likely, I'll tell my good friends Aminta and Stasa this upcoming weekend because I'll be in Miami visiting Stasa (and it'd be nice to tell her in person).

As of now, the only people who know we've been trying are our friends, Dom and Corinne, and my childhood friend, Sam. Dom assures us that we'll get pregnant without any hassle, as Andrew and I got pregnant last time when I was on birth control. He thinks if we could do it without trying, surely we can get pregnant when we are trying! I'm inclined to agree, and I really think we were successful after our first try!