Monday, January 31, 2011

Brooding Over a Snowy Future, or Roti Bread to the Rescue!

I like this picture of Nick and me, because we both have such brooding looks on our faces. It's because we had just learned about Snowpocolypse 2011, and we were perturbed about the potential for a three-hour car ride home tomorrow. Seriously, though, Greg and I took Nick to Flat Top Grill in downtown Naperville on Sunday. Nothing like a choose-your-own vegetables lunch to make you feel good about eating healthy.

See how happy Nick is to be eating broccoli? Next time I need to get him way more broccoli in his bowl, because it is his absolute favorite. He's even trying to eat with chopsticks, though he stabs more than anything. While we were there, Nick ate broccoli, brown rice, pork, edamame, green beans, mushrooms, carrots, and tofu. Not sure how the tofu got in there, but Nick ate even that. We were really surprised that his meal was free, so we let him pick whatever he wanted to put on top of the rice. We've never done that before--we always just let him pick from our plates. But we figured this was a good time to let him choose his own toppings, and he really liked pointing to the things he wanted. My boy chose nearly everything.

I had been craving their roti bread for quite awhile, and I had two pieces with my lunch. I wish now that I would've requested more. Even reheated, it is delicious. Aren't pregnancy cravings weird? I guess it's a good thing that I was craving roti bread and stir fry; there are far worse things this baby could've been demanding.

Do you want to know the best part? Dessert. It was just perfect, not too sweet, just the right mix of crunch and melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

Here's the description of the dessert, from their website:

"Cinnamon Fresh Fruit Roti:

Our very own roti prata bread rolled in cinnamon sugar, stuffed with seasonal fresh fruit in a crème anglaise sauce. Topped with cherry orange glaze and mint leaves paired with french vanilla ice cream and house made whipped cream."

I do believe that I think about food way, way more when I'm pregnant. (Yes, I did indeed notice that I did two posts in a row about food. It's my blog. I can write about what I want. Lately, I want to write about food.)

I've even been awake in the middle of the night (after one of my many trips to the bathroom), fantasizing about the food I could eat the next day. The positive side is that I crave many healthy things, in addition to the naughty comfort foods.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lunchtime Date at Houlihan's

I was bored this morning. Greg had to work, and I didn't feel like doing anything around the house. Nick tends to get a little stir-crazy if we just hang out around the house all day. Also, I was having a craving. . . for fried calamari. One of those cravings that just won't let up until you've quenched it. So I decided to go on a date with a very handsome fellow. He held my hand and shared my drink.

You know, one of the things I really like about being a mom (most of the time) is that I'm seldom alone. I feel weird going to sit-down restaurants when I'm by myself, but that feeling disappears when I have a pint-sized date along with me. Most of the parents I know tend to take their kids to more casual places over sit-down restaurants. I have a hard time doing this. Think about it: pregnant lady juggling a (nearly) 30-lb. toddler, a big purse, winter coats, a tray, and drinks. I'd much rather go somewhere where a waitress takes care of all the hard stuff. I know that toddlers are notoriously naughty in restaurants, but I figure that the only way to teach Nick to behave in public is to keep taking him out in public. I like to eat out, and I don't want to give that up just because I am a mommy. We went to the new Houlihan's on 95th Street on the south side of Naperville.

Our waitress saw how antsy Nick was and offered to bring us some baby carrots and ranch dressing right away. This was perfect, and Nick thought the ranch dressing was some kind of miracle. He loved it. I usually stay away from chain restaurants. But I'd heard good things about Houlihan's so we decided to give it a shot. I was floored by their great new menu. They have a whole "small plates" section that includes casual stuff like burgers and fries as well as more highbrow items like calamari and scallops. We ordered calamari (of course!), a spinach salad, fancy parmesan french fries with three different sauces, and chicken tortilla soup. Check it out:

For me, small plates are just perfect because I can't eat a ton of food in one sitting. (I had Roux-en-Y bariatric surgery back in 2003.) I love the idea of trying lots of different foods, but my favorite part was that they had the item I had been craving so much--calamari!

I also don't have Nick order from the children's menus, because I want him to grow up eating things other than chicken nuggets, pizza, and hamburgers. So we shared. Nick was adventurous enough to try everything but the soup. (The only reason he didn't eat that is because I'd forgotten a bib!) He especially liked the calamari dipped in chipotle ketchup. I ended up eating my whole salad, most of the calamari, some fries, and a few bites of soup. I took enough home to make another small meal.

I couldn't turn down the "small" dessert, either. We ended up with the white chocolate banana cream pie, and Nick would've eaten the whole thing himself if I'd let him.

Nick isn't always an angel in restaurants, but he was very good today. He ate a ton, didn't throw any food, kept his voice down (for the most part), and chatted with me the entire time. He was a very good date.  :)  Nick even earned a check on his hand for listening. You see, he usually sits in a high chair, but this time I let him try a booster seat. It didn't work because he couldn't reach the table, so he just kneeled and it worked fine. At one point, he tried to stand in the booth, and I told him, "No, sit down." He did, right away, so I gave him a check for being a good listener.

I think the checks are working pretty well, so far. We just have to keep pens away from him. As for Houlihan's, I think we've found a new spot to go regularly. I checked out their webpage, and supposedly they make all of their food fresh every day. I don't know about that, but it was sure tasty to me. Next time I want to try the mini-burgers and the goat cheese bread. Oh, and our whole meal? It was a little over $20. Not bad for such fancy fare.

Friday, January 28, 2011

With a Little Glint in His Eye. . .

Isn't this glint just a little naughty? Nick makes this face right before he's going to try something clever or destructive. I'm not usually one who finds the naughty boys cute, but this one steals my heart every time I see that little glint in his eye. I believe right after this picture was taken, Nick climbed up our bookshelf to try to get to the markers. For obvious reasons, we keep the markers out of reach nowadays.

As a side note, I should point out the excellent pencil grip my little man is demonstrating. We're thinking he's going to be right-handed, because he almost always colors with his right hand. He sometimes throws a ball with his left hand, though.

Oh, and reason his hair looks sticky and gloppy? My babysitter told me that he smeared the syrup from his pancakes through his hair, intentionally. I'm not sure what would possess someone to do this. Then again, my husband puts goopy gel in his hair everyday with Nick watching. Perhaps he was trying to copy his daddy's hairstyle.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pregnancy Update: 20 Weeks

Weeks Pregnant: Exactly 20 weeks today. I'm halfway through this pregnancy, and apparently the baby is now the size of a banana. I'm not sure why they always use fruit when telling you the size of your baby.

I had my 2nd trimester growth ultrasound about a week ago, and all was well. He's measuring a little ahead, which is very good. Here's a picture of our little guy. I think he's pretty cute so far.  :)

Squiggling around and rolling, this guy kept pretty active during the ultrasound. I'm never positive that what I'm feeling is the baby moving until I get an ultrasound. Seeing him move on the screen at the same time as I feel him makes me certain. This ultrasound was at the Fetal Medicine Specialist's office, so you can see everything pretty well on a nice-size flat screen tv they put on the wall. When you're high-risk, they do a very extensive check, so he was up there on the screen for a good 30 minutes. We even got to see the four chambers of his heart, and all of his organs. Everything seems to growing well, so far.

Pregnancy Update:

Weight: (From starting weight) -6 pounds, still no change. I can tell that my hips are wider now, though. I had a pair of pre-pregnancy pants with an elastic waist, and they won't go over my hips now, even though I weigh less. I'll never be one of those women who only gets big in front. I just hope the waddling holds off for awhile longer, because that's not attractive on anyone.

Movement: I sometimes feel movement, but it isn't regular or very strong yet. This morning, though, I had my cell phone on my belly after snoozing the alarm, and when it went off (while still resting on my belly), the baby jumped at the same time I did. So I know he's in there, and that his little ears work. (Yes, I use my cell phone as an alarm clock. I can't be the only person who does that, I'm sure.)

Exercise: Still only physical therapy, 3 times per week. Isn't that enough? I come home every time walking like an old lady, so I know I'm getting a workout.

Cravings: Now I get a wild craving for Panera Macaroni and Cheese every day around 4 p.m. I only indulge occasionally. This baby also loves skim lattes. How do I know? He kicks like crazy if whenever I have one. That is really the only time I feel real, true kicks. I only order a tall latte, though. Don't judge.

Sleep: I seem to need more in the last week. Nick even let me nap on the couch Monday while he watched Sesame Street. He's been a very well-behaved little boy this week. Although he did unscrew one of the knobs from our kitchen cabinets and then forget where he put it.

Symptoms: Lots of low blood sugar issues this week, plus dizziness. But I generally feel pretty good, other than that. I've had a little more energy to play with Nick. I've had runny nose issues the last few weeks, but the problem is manageable and my humidifier is helping.

Mood: Less weepy, but perhaps more "out of it." I think I get upset more quickly when little things go wrong at work, too. My co-workers are pretty understanding, though.

Medical: I'm supposed to go to the Fetal Medicine Specialists over at Edward Hospital once a month now. I also go to my regular obstetrician once a month, so they had me arrange it so I'm seeing a doctor every two weeks. They're watching for growth restriction, among other things. It was a problem with Nick in the third trimester, and they suspect it may happen with this one, too. Just in case, (per doctor's orders) I've been taking a prenatal liquigel vitamin in the morning with breakfast, and then two Flintstones vitamins throughout the day.

Between Fetal Medicine, the regular obstetrician, the podiatrist, the physical therapist, and the endocrinologist, I'm up to my ears in medical appointments. But I'm doing everything they say, and I feel healthier this pregnancy than I did with Nick. Then, they kept telling me to eat more and more protein, and it never did get through to the baby. Instead, it just made me gain 40 pounds. This time, I'm only going to eat when I'm hungry or low.

I saw my endocrinologist today, and she commented that she though I looked much thinner in my face and neck than the last time she saw me, in the early fall. I've noticed that my wedding rings have been loose lately, as well. She checked the little book I use sometimes to write down what I eat, and said that I was doing a great job. I have to say that it felt really good to have a doctor look at my diet and compliment me on eating so well. Let's hope this healthy trend continues. I'm indulging every craving I have, but in small amounts, on top of a reasonably healthy diet.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Tallest Tower EVER!

Lately Nick and I build a tower nearly every evening. A few nights ago, we built one that was especially tall. I think my son has a future career in middle management, because he sure likes to order us around. He was all, "Put the blue one there!" and "No, not that one. The red one!" Nick added quite a few pieces himself, but he was particular about what went where. This particular tower took at least a half hour to build, because my perfectionist son kept unbuilding it and then building again.

This tower was so big that Nick put his stuffed mouse in it. "Mouse goes in there!" he said. "Mouse house."

I like nights like this, where we can just sit around in our pajamas and play for a good hour. It's these simple moments that I hope to remember with this blog. Nick is growing so fast, and he's very different now even than he was just a few months ago.

Here is Nick's version of "ta-dah!"  Molly the cat was duly impressed with our hard work.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Little Entertainment on a Monday

We could all use a smile today, I think. Here's some entertainment from my aspiring pianist, Nicholas.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Redecorating Our Living Room: Color Choices

We need a change! It is time for us to redecorate our whole downstairs. We could actually use some input, so please comment on which colors you think would work best. Greg and I are very new to this whole homeowner thing, and we're afraid of screwing up such a big space.

Greg, Nick, and I made a trip to Lowe's last week to choose paint colors and get a head start. Nick absolutely loved the racecar carts, and was happy to sit and steer the whole time we debated colors.

My inspiration for colors came from this rug  and this rug at JCPenney. Not sure if I'll use one of these rugs or a different one (more about that in another post), but the green and chocolate go well together with the blue as an accent, I think.

We brought home four colors to choose from, and Greg painted the sample colors on the walls to see how they'd look. You can see two of them on the wall behind the couch in the pictures below. We're thinking of putting a chocolate brown color on the wall behind our couch, and then doing a shade of green everywhere else. The darker color is called Pine Bark, and the lighter color is Rolling Stone.

And here's a close up. . . (Sorry, it's hard not to get the flash in the wrong spot.)

When we moved into our house back at the end of 2006, the whole downstairs was decorated largely in country blue, with floral wallpaper (an older lady lived by herself here before us). While the color and wallpaper are not hideous, the whole downstairs certainly isn't our style. We always intended to redecorate, but life kind of got in the way. This year, though, we are determined. Once you put up the paint samples, I think, you have to be pretty committed to actually painting.  ;) 

Here are some more pictures of our current living room. Basically, all of the walls except for the dark blue one behind the couch will be some shade of green. The trim and the ceiling will stay white. The only question is which shade of green to go with. I should add that this space gets a lot of light during the day, so we're afraid if we go too light with color, it will look washed out. (That's what the paint specialist at Lowe's said, anyway.) We'll be looking for another way to make the room brighter at night. (Recessed lighting, perhaps, or track lighting?)

Here are the two shades of green we're thinking about. We love the darker green, called California Roll, but we're worried that it may be too dark. The other green, Shade Green, is pretty but might not have enough green in it for us.

Greg's job in the next few weeks is going to involve lots of time on a ladder, getting intimate with the subject of wallpaper removal. Oh, and yes, we are aware that our blinds need to be replaced. We were thinking two layers of drapes, see-through white ones and some thicker ones that could be closed in the winter.

Part of the challenge of this space is that our living and dining rooms are completely connected. So the whole space has to be done in the same color scheme. Our couches will stay, since they're brand new. They look a little funny in these pictures because they have covers on them to cut down on the cat hair. Under the covers, they're all a slightly darker shade of tan.

So, what do you think? Should we go with the brighter colors or the more washed out colors? Or is this color scheme not going to work in our space? Is it crazy to want a dark accent wall the color of chocolate, Or will it make the room really pop? Sigh. Decisions like this are hard.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Baking Cookies With Mommy

Last Monday, Nick and I decided to make peanut butter cookies. Perhaps I should amend that. On Monday, I decided that Nick needed something constructive to do, so I asked him if he wanted to help me make peanut butter cookies. (Also, I had a raging craving for some chewy cookies.) Nick's answer, of course, was a resounding "Yes!"

I got the recipe from here, but I omitted the peanuts, used white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose,  and added a little extra vanilla. My mother-in-law brought me some gourmet vanilla from her cruise, and I decided an extra couple of drops would add flavor to these yummy cookies.

When I say that Nick helped me, you're probably wondering how much help a two-year-old can actually provide. First, let me say that having Nick help made the cookie-baking process take twice as long. It also created twice as much mess. But it was easily five times as fun!

Nick actually helped for real. I measured, but I let him add in each scoop of flour and many of the other ingredients. Then, he got to turn the dial on my mixer, and use the spatula to help scrape the sides. He also managed to get quite a bit of flour all over himself. Nick's favorite part? Licking the dough off of everything.*  Honestly, that's my favorite part, too.  :)

I even let Nick try to help me roll the cookies into balls. He loved it, since he's done this with Play Doh before. He wasn't terribly successful, though. But Nick is at this stage where he wants to help with literally everything. So I've been trying to let him, even though it is far messier and more time consuming to let him help.

Nick was very good at helping press the fork into the cookies. I do a crisscross pattern with a fork, in the traditional way.

The cookies turned out exactly right, chewy and delicious, but not too sweet. I've been pretty good lately about only having one or two cookies. Nick always prefers at least two cookies.
*Please don't worry. I know it is bad to eat uncooked dough if it has egg in it, but we just can't give up this yummy habit. So my solution is to add everything but the egg, then taste the dough on the spinny things. (What are those called anyway? The metal spinny things on a mixer. Nick is licking one in the picture above. I can't think of the name. Pregnancy brain rears its ugly head.) Finally, I add the egg and mix with a spoon that I, unfortunately, just put in the sink. It's a waste of yummy cookie dough, but we're not taking any chances.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Tale of Two (Pairs of) Shoes

Nick recently got some new shoes. They are from Stride Rite, and they're absolutely adorable. Right after Christmas, I felt guilty because I'd never had Nick's feet sized. I was just guessing his shoe size and buying used (or squeaky) shoes online. So Grandma Toni and I took Nick to the Aurora Outlet Mall in search of shoes, among other things. I was very impressed when I went into the Stride Rite store and they fitted Nick, told me what size to buy, and happily directed me to the clearance shoes. We found these for $14.95.

These are suede velcro boots with red fire trucks on the side. Nick's favorite part is that these shoes light up when he walks. Little red lights flash, and Nick flashes a grin at the same time. Can't beat the price. Plus, it makes my mommy guilt feel better to know that I had his feet "fitted" and that these shoes don't hurt his little piggies.

Shall we compare Nick's new shoes with mine? Well, this is my blog, so the answer is obviously yes.

I've always loved buying shoes. I tend toward round-toed, low or medium-heeled, generally comfortable shoes, and I have at least 100 pairs. My feet are rather large and wide (9D), and I have a hard time finding shoes that fit. Recently my podiatrist told me that I'd have to wear professionally molded metal orthotics in my shoes. This was depressing for many reasons, but the most distressing is that I can (or should) no longer be wearing the majority of my shoes. They do not fit once the orthotics are placed inside. These orthotics have a lift in the heel, and they take up a lot of space in the shoe.

My podiatrist wrote me a prescription to get shoes from the New Balance shoe store, and he gave me very specific guidelines as to what I needed. A nice salesman helped me, and he seemed to know a great deal about shoes. After over an hour of trying on shoes while Nick destroyed his store bit by bit, I finally found a pair that I could live with and maybe even get away with wearing to work. Here they are:

I know, they're not very feminine. Actually, they're totally not my style, but they were the only shoes I could find that fit my doctor's specifications and fit my feet. Oh, and the cost? A lot more than Nick's new shoes! $140. Sigh. That's the most I've ever spent on shoes, and the only reason I bought them was because my doctor told me I needed them. I'm trying to do everything possible to avoid having to have surgery, which I'm sure would cost way more than $140. Also, after an hour of my son destroying his store, I couldn't leave without buying something from the poor, long-suffering salesman at New Balance. But I wish that my splurge of spending $140 on shoes could've been on really cute shoes that I fell in love with and couldn't resist.

These are some super-fancy shoes, though. They are waterproof and will not let my feet roll to either side (pronation), which my feet are prone to doing. (Heck, they should make me able to levitate for $140!) I don't think they look terrible with long dress pants, either. I've been wearing them to work, and hopefully they look professional enough. For walking on ice and snow, they're pretty stable, which is nice since I've had outdoor duty at school.
Check out the two of us showing off our new shoes together.

My shoes look gigantic in comparison to Nick's.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Captions, Please!

"Hmm, I wonder what I'll be when I get to high school. Will I be the Jock, the Brain, the Criminal, the Princess, or the Kook?"  (Nick's internal monologue)

Personally, Nick's mommy is voting for the brain. But that's not surprising, since Nick's mommy is a teacher.

Am I allowed to submit my own captions, or is that cheating?

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Pregnant Woman Walks into a Chocolate Festival. . .

. . . and spends way too much money on delicious chocolate treats. I believe I bought three cupcakes, a giant dark chocolate covered strawberry, a bunch of chocolate covered pretzels, and a turtle. Now, some of this was for my sister-in-law's birthday, but let's just say that I indulged my cravings as well. In the picture below, he was pointing to the giant candies hanging from the ceiling. The whole school was decorated for the occasion.

Nick got to try chocolate milk for the first time, because they were handing out free samples. He liked it. (Are you surprised? I wasn't.)

Note the glazed look on his face. That's probably due to all of the nice samples he got to eat. My favorite sample was a piece of dark chocolate that just melted in my mouth. It was really, really expensive, or I would have bought some. Yum. Greg and I decided that we need to take Nick to more events like this one. It truly made his weekend. (I'm not going to lie. The chocolate samples kinda made my weekend, too.)

The DuPage Children's Museum was there and they had giant tinker toys for kids to play with. Nick liked building with them for a little while, then he saw the bouncy house, and off he ran.

I'm pretty sure we'll be taking Nick to this festival again next year.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Famous Little Chef

Yesterday, we took Nick to the Chocolate Festival in Naperville, and he had an awesome time. Honestly, we all had a fantastic time. Think about it: a man who loves chocolate, his pregnant wife who's been craving chocolate, and a two-year-old who can't get enough chocolate, all at a festival dedicated to chocolate. It was a dream come true.

One of the reasons I wanted to go was the Kids in the Kitchen classes, where kids get to do some food preparation of their own, all on a chocolate theme, of course. This festival was held in the home economics room of the Neuqua High School Freshman Center. We rushed to get seats, and Nick immediately discovered that the kitchen cabinets in this place are not child locked. He started pulling out all kinds of cool gadgets.

We sat down and got to work. Nick got to make a "Death By Chocolate" dessert. I asked the organizer if it was okay if he made one, and she said, "Sure, if an adult helps him." I laughed and said, "Of course!" This dessert was a delicious layered concoction of chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, cool whip, and toffee chips. I think Nick is going to inherit his daddy's love of cooking, because he really got into this project. He really tried to follow the steps, and one of the ladies running the event said that he did a great job for such a little guy. I think so, too.

Nick made his dessert mostly by himself, although he made quite a mess. Notice the chocolate all over my arm in the picture below. He needed a total outfit change later that day, due to all of the chocolate.

At the end of the session, the kids got to eat their creations, and everyone clapped. Nick clapped the loudest and shouted, "Yay!" A photographer from the Naperville Sun snapped his picture and asked me if it was okay to put it in the paper. I agreed, and Nick was actually in one of the photo galleries on their website today. He's famous! Here's the link. I think he's the second photo in the gallery. You know, the kid munching happily on his "Death by Chocolate."

That's my famous little chef.  :)  All he needs is one of those tall white hats.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bouncy House

Today Nick visited his first bouncy house. Needless to say, he was extremely thrilled.

Notice the slightly crazed gleam in his eye, and the chocolate smeared on his cheek. That's because we were at the Chocolate Festival in Naperville, and Nick had plenty of samples before bouncing.  Pardon the poor picture quality, but it's hard to get a good shot while a two-year-old is bouncing.

Poor kid was also losing his pants. His little belly is too big for the 18-24 month pants, but he's too short for the 2T pants. With his shoes off, those jeans just kept sliding farther and farther off his little butt. It made it hard for him to get his balance.

We're going to have to remember how much he loved the bouncy house, and try to take him to another one. Honestly, it was the highlight of his day, and the only way we got him out of there was to get one of the attendants to crawl in and drag him out after almost an hour. I think he would have stayed in there all day!