Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pregnancy Update: 24 Weeks

It's been awhile since I posted a pregnancy update, so here we go. I'm at the end of the 2nd trimester now, past the age of viability. My sister took this picture of me last week. I feel huge, but I know this is nothing compared to what's coming.

Weeks Pregnant: 24 weeks, 4 days. He's about the size of a large papaya or a football, depending on the website you ask. I had another ultrasound on the 15th, and you can definitely tell he's gotten bigger. The ultrasound technician said he weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces, though I'm sure he's bigger by now. He's been really hungry lately.

If you can't tell, his heat is to the right side of the picture, in profile, looking up. He's big enough now that you can't see his whole body, just the head and torso. I go every four weeks for growth ultrasounds, just to make sure he's growing right. Nick had borderline growth restriction due to my RNY surgery, and they want to make sure that doesn't happen with this little boy. So far, so good. . . he's measuring 5 days ahead.
Weight: (From starting weight) +2 pounds, which actually means I gained back the six pounds I lost, plus I gained two more. That may or may not have something to do with all the girl scout cookies my husband ordered. My weight really varies quite a bit from day to day, so I try not to worry about it too much. I think the variance is because I drink so much water, 100 ounces or more a day.

Movement: Yup, though not nearly as much as I had with Nick. The doctor said that my placenta is in the front, and that's probably why I feel less movement. I do feel him squiggling around in there more each week. His head is up by my ribs, and his feet are pointing down and kicking my bladder. I think that's why my belly looks smaller now than it did just a few weeks ago--he was sideways and now he's vertical.

Exercise: I had my final physical therapy appointment (hopefully) last Wednesday, so I'm responsible for my own exercise now. I started out today with 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer, then topped it off with some heavy duty grocery shopping. We'll see how I do tomorrow. I hope I made up for the girl scout cookies I ate.

Cravings: Coffee. When we were up in Wisconsin over the weekend, we seriously considered driving the 30 mile round trip each morning to the nearest Starbucks. We decided against it, but I almost wept for joy when we finally stopped at a Starbucks on our way back home. That latte tasted so good! I was craving the girl scout cookies my husband bought (tagalongs) until they were all gone. Oh, and I've been drinking glasses of milk everyday. I usually have it in my cereal, oatmeal, and coffee, but the last month or so I crave straight glasses of milk.

Sleep: It is becoming more and more difficult to sleep. Being away from home didn't help, and my four pillow system of sleeping isn't working too well. I've been waking up with carpal tunnel pain from sleeping sideways on one or the other of my arms. Also, I keep rolling over on my belly in my sleep, and then it wakes me up because that is not comfortable.

Symptoms: The last few weeks I've had lots of lower back pain and headaches. The good news? My feet and legs are feeling much better. I'm not sure how I'd be if I had that to deal with, as well. Plus, I've had a runny nose and sore throat for the last week or so, and I'm not sure if I have a cold or if it's allergies. If it doesn't go away soon, I'm going to talk to my doctor, because it may be turning into a sinus infection. When I can't breathe through my nose at night, I wake up with a horrible sore throat and headache.

Mood: I think I've been doing okay. . . the second trimester is better in terms of horomones. I can't read anything bad in the newspaper about kids, though, or I get weepy.

Medical: I'm taking crazy amounts of vitamins: 1 liquigel prenatal vitamin, 2 Flintstones Complete Chewables, 3 chewable calcium supplements, 1sublingual B12, and 1 baby asprin. We'll see if all this prevents anemia and growth restriction. Not sure if this is medical, but my belly is itching like crazy as it grows.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty good, and we're getting more excited about the baby coming. I've started looking on Ebay for deals on cute summer baby clothes. Nick was born in the winter, so all of the clothes I have from him are long-sleeved or have polar bears or reindeers on them. I have some sleepers I can reuse, but tons of fleece stuff that'll probably be too warm for this little guy.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

An Unexpected Trip to Northern Wisconsin

On Thursday morning, we set out on a journey that we hadn't planned on taking. Greg's grandmother passed away, and we went to Merrill, Wisconsin, for the funeral. The drive up there takes at least 5 hours, more if you stop for food and bathroom breaks. We left around noon and didn't arrive at our hotel until nearly 7 p.m.  Crabby two-year-old plus mourning driver plus pregnant lady equals a challenging ride.

When we arrived at our hotel, it only took Nick about three seconds to find the phone and figure out how to dial it. I have no idea where he learned this; we only have cell-phones and I haven't had a corded landline since. . . well, since I was in college. But he somehow knew what to do, so we had to unplug the phone so that he wouldn't randomly start dialing people.

All of our previous trips have been for fun, but this one was (obviously) tinged with sadness. At the service, the minister talked about Grandma Marie's four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, with one on the way. It occurred to me then that she would never meet her great-grandson, and that was tough to think about, especially with all of the pregnancy horomones running through my body. Greg and I walked around and looked at all of the pictures from her life, and I think that helped him with the grieving process.  Living 96 years is quite an accomplishment, and it was impressive to see all of the things she was able to accomplish in her life.

I didn't take many pictures, because it somehow seemed inappropriate to snap pictures of Nick and his cousins running around and playing at the visitation. Plus, Nick decided to perform like a typical two-year-old during our trip. He barely slept at night, refused to nap, would only eat junk food, and threw countless fits. So pulling out my camera was not even on my mind. Thank goodness for Grandma Toni, who, along with Nick's Aunt Sarah, helped me distract Nick. When Nick started having constant tantrums right before the service, Grandma Toni offered to take him back to the hotel room. I think I have the best mother-in-law in the whole world! I don't know what we would've done otherwise.

One bright spot in a sad trip was the hot tub at the hotel. There was a pool, too, but only Greg was brave (and cold-tolerant enough) to take Nick there.

The rest of us opted to stay in the hot tub. I would like constant access to a hot tub. I think Nick agrees, because through our whole trip, he would randomly start asking, "I go in the hot tub?! I go in hot water!"

You would think that would've tired him out, but no. Even though he never had a nap and is usually asleep by 8:15, Nick was still screaming at the top of his lungs, refusing to sleep, at 11:30. Nothing would stop his screaming. Lately, he does this thing where he'll throw his blanket, his Elmo, or his stuffed dog out of the crib, then scream for it back. The exchange goes something like this:

Nick (throwing his Elmo out of the crib): I no like Elmo. Elmo out!
Mommy: Okay, honey. Elmo can sleep with me.
Nick: Want Elmo! Elmo! I want Elmo!
Mommy (handing him Elmo): Here you go.
Nick (throwing Elmo out again): No want Elmo! Elmo out!

The situation repeated itself for several hours, with Nick's pillow, blanket, book, and stuffed dog. I could not find anything that would stop his screaming. I know better than to play the throwing game with him, but it's hard not to give in when I would've done anything to get the yelling to stop. When he screamed for a straight hour, I was really afraid someone in the hotel was going to complain and we'd be kicked out. No one ever complained, but I feel really, really bad for anyone with rooms near ours.

Nick's incessant screaming plus my severe allergies made for a very long night, with an all-day car ride today to top it off. He did sleep in the car, though, and today he was better overall. Hopefully being back in his bed tonight and back to his regular schedule (and diet) will put him back on track.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Some Sad News

On Tuesday morning, Greg and I received some sad news: his paternal grandmother passed away. Nick's Great-Grandma Marie lived to be 96 and was a sweet, wonderful lady who will be missed. This picture is from September 2009, when we brought Nick up to see her for her birthday.

This picture is from our trip up to the farm to see her last September. Great-Grandma Marie really enjoyed coloring with Nick, and even drew him some pictures that they talked about together.

Greg was close to his grandmother, but he's taking it very well, at least so far. While her passing wasn't unexpected, I think it's still a blow for him. Grandma Marie was his last living grandparent. Here they are in 2006, the first time he took me up to the farm to meet her. The first time I met Grandma Marie, I was struck by how spry she seemed for a lady of her age. Until just last year, she worked as a volunteer at a juvenile facility for troubled boys. I've never heard of someone working until the age of 95!

I think the fact that she lived such a long, full life helps. It's also wonderful that she was able to live long enough to see Nick and interact with him. Here she is with Nick (and Aunt Sarah) right after he was born.

Grandma Marie will definitely be missed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Visit from Auntie Mandy

I got a call from my sister last week, saying that she hadn't seen Nick since Christmas, and that this travesty must be corrected, and soon. So we invited her over for dinner Saturday. Nick was over the moon. Finally, there was someone new to play blocks with. . . someone worthy.

Indeed, my sister is the master of playing blocks.

Aunt Mandy kept Nick focused until they had used every single block in the whole house. The final product was taller than Nick! Check out their creation.

They also played with Nick's Little People animal collection, and Aunt Mandy was surprised that Nick knew the names of practically every animal--even the rhino and the penguin. That's because when Nick and I build houses with his Mega Blox, he chooses a different animal to make a house for every time. So he's had lots of practice.

There was also lots of coloring. . .

and the reading of stories. 

I think Nick had a great time. Such a great time, in fact, that he's been asking for his Auntie Mandy ever since she left.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Belated Recap: Valentine's Day

I just realized I forgot to finish blogging about how Greg and I celebrated our Valentine's Day. It was a pretty good one, too. We went back to Barolo Ristorante in Joliet, because we remembered how good the food was when we went there in December. It was just as good this time. It is possible that it was even better, because we were able to truly enjoy our meal this time.

You see, Nick's Grandma Toni and Aunt Sarah came over last Sunday so that Greg and I could go out. Eating a meal without worrying about anyone throwing noodles at us is an amazing thing. The table stayed relatively clean, and not once did I have to wrestle anyone onto the changing table in the ladies room. Lately, Nick has been finishing his food more quickly than us lately. Then he tends to yell, "I all done!" until we let him get down. There was no rushing over this meal.

Instead, we lingered and concentrated on the food. We started with calamari, which is always one of my favorites. Greg actually ordered the same dish I had last time, while I decided to try something new: I ordered the free range lamb chops with bok choi and whipped sweet potatoes. I do think this was the best darned lamb I have ever tasted. . .

or perhaps it was just the peace and quiet that we enjoyed. Nah, it was the lamb. It was so tender and just perfectly seasoned. It was a lovely meal, but my favorite part was the dessert. I always want to order tiramisu at Italian restaurants. I adore it because it is creamy and flavorful, but not too sweet. This tiramisu was excellent. I wish I had some tonight.

Oh, and the presents? I think Greg and I both did a super job. I got him a gift certificate for us to take a couples cooking class at Flavour Cooking School in Forest Park. Sometime in the next month or two, we'll take a three hour class where we'll learn special techniques and learn to cook a very fancy dinner. The evening ends with a romantic meal where we'll get to eat what we made. Since Greg and I both love to cook, I figured it'd be nice to actually do something together. He's sure excited about going. Plus, it'll be another kid-free night out where we can enjoy our meal.

His present wasn't too shabby, either. I got a gift certificate for a 60 minute pregnancy massage at the Herrington Inn and Spa in Geneva. I'm torn as to when I should cash this one in. It would be so nice now, because I've been having some back pain, especially in my tailbone. But I know that if I wait a month or two, it'll be that much worse and I'll be glad I waited to get this massage. We'll see what I finally decide. Either way, I love this Valentine's Day gift!

Greg is usually pretty good at the romantic gifts, but this one was just perfect. I guess it proves he really was listening to me when I've been complaining about my aching back. That means a lot.  :)

I hope your Valentine's Day was as good as mine.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dancing with Daddy (and Grover, too)!

Good times, good times. Nick gets wound up sometimes and loves to dance around. For some reason, he spins a lot when he dances. It makes me dizzy just to watch him.

Oh, and yes, I do have permission from my husband to post this video.  :) 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine's Day Cookies for Daddy!

Last Saturday, Greg had to go to a conference for work. He was gone all day, so Nick and I decided to bake him a Valentine's Day surprise: chocolate crinkle cookies. Greg is an absolute chocolate nut--he loves any kind of chocolate.

I've been meaning to make these for awhile, but I was always out of either vegetable oil or unsweetened chocolate squares. According to Kristen at That's What She Said, both of those ingredients are critical and should not be substituted. (She's the one who gave me the recipe.) I was still out of vegetable oil, but I figured I'd be brave and try canola oil anyway. Yup, I'm a rebel. Oh, and Kristen? It was the chocolate that was important. Canola worked just fine.  : )

A few weeks ago, I bought Nick a present he likes better than any toy I've ever got for him: a step stool that allows him to reach the counters. Once or twice a week since then, Nick and I have made something together in the kitchen. I love these times because instead of pretending interest in some of Nick's toys, we're doing something that we both enjoy. "I stand on that!" Nick will insist all week. "I stand on that. Make cookies! I help!" He tells me this nearly every day, pointing next to the refrigerator where I keep our step stool.

On Saturday Nick kept sneaking into the pantry and grabbing random ingredients. It's a good thing he couldn't figure out how to operate a can opener, otherwise we'd have had cannelloni beans in our chocolate cookies.

Nick actually pours in every ingredient while we're baking. I usually have to measure, but he does all the adding and turns on the mixer. I made sure he did most of the work this time, because these cookies were Nick's Valentine present to his daddy. Sometimes, though, this resulted in spills. Like, for instance, when Nick tried adding the baking powder.

He missed.

Notice the pile of baking powder on the floor. Anyway, the dough worked out great, and it kind of had the consistency of thick brownie batter. It tasted just divine, too. I love brownie batter.

Nick got really mad, though, when I had to put the dough in the fridge for an hour and then in the oven.

He doesn't understand the concept of waiting for cookies. He wanted them right now. Nick was, um, a little perturbed when I put away the step stool.

The cookies, by the way, were delightful and enough to kill any chocolate craving. Though I think I actually prefer just eating the dough. I would call that "chocolate balls of joy."

Here's the recipe for "Chocolate Crinkle Cookies" if you're interested. The only thing I changed was that I used canola oil instead of vegetable oil. Oh, and I decreased the granulated sugar just a bit, added an extra 1/2 of an unsweetened chocolate square, and used white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. I guess I changed it a lot. They were delightful, though. Nick loved them.

Greg definitely liked his Valentine's Day present from Nick . . .

Monday, February 14, 2011

A little man with a rose and a stinky, who got himself stuck in a precarious place. . .

Happy Valentine's Day! Doesn't my little man look oh-so-serious and brooding in this picture? He's holding the rose that Greg brought home for me. Check out Nick's t-shirt. I found it on e-bay. It has a skunk on the front that says, "Love Stinks." Then, on the back, it has a big number 14 for Valentine's Day. I know, this picture below looks like a mug shot. Guess what Nick had just done right before I took the picture? I'll give you a hint: it stinks and it's not love. 

The last two appointments in a row, Nick has waited until the middle of my physical therapy appointment to, um, stink. PT is going pretty well, by the way. My foot pain has decreased enough that days go by where I don't even think about my feet. There are still times I'm really sore, but my feet feel so much better than I did just a few months before. The combination of my amazing physical therapist, some truly expensive shoes, and my weird orthotics means that I can now walk without wincing. Hopefully they'll be able to conclude that I've made enough progress to not need surgery, at least not imminently.

Oh, and guess what else Nick did during physical therapy? While I was on the table getting heat applied to my legs, this is where Nick crawled. Then, he couldn't get out.

He's actually in a little box-like place under the table--totally stuck! He was like that for awhile, because I wasn't able to move and I didn't think he was in trouble. Nick kept saying, "Mommy, I no like under table." I'd reply, "Well honey, come out then." Finally he shouted, "Stuck! I stuck!" Yes, I grabbed my camera before we figured out how to get him out from under there.

Besides tables with secret places to hide, the PT office also has fun exercise equipment to play on. Today they had me working on standing on one leg on a destabalizing pad that moved a bit. Nick thought it was the coolest thing ever and wanted a turn. He is far more coordinated and balanced than I am. Sigh. A pregnant lady wearing orthotic shoes standing on one foot on a destabalizing pad must've been a hilarious sight. Nick thought it was easy. He was even dancing on it.

The present in his diaper isn't all Nick gave us for Valentine's Day. He also made us these at daycare. They made me smile in a way that only artwork by a two-year-old can. I need to remember to take pictures of his artwork more often. I've been saving some stuff he's done, but it's easy to lose.


Greg and I celebrated our Valentine's Day on Sunday, and I'll talk more about that tomorrow. Lots to tell!  :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I just realized. . .

That I never once got my child dressed this weekend. He did, however, wear four different pairs of pajamas.

He also trashed the entire house. Twice. . . no, thrice. I love the picture below because it shows the destruction in progress. I wonder if this is cabin fever?

Nick also decided to call his daddy on the phone. He probably would have succeeded in calling someone for real, if my phone didn't have a lock function. So if you ever get a weird call from me, it might just be that Nick figured out how to unlock my cell phone. He's already figured out how to pull my purse down from the counter, unscrew my lip gloss, apply it, and smear it on the floor. That's also how he got my phone.

Yes, I know he has chocolate on his face. I wiped it after I took this video. He'd snuck a cookie from the counter without me noticing, and it'd smeared everywhere. I only noticed when he turned around while I was taking videos. Nicholas has a thing for chocolate. I think his little brother must, too, because I've been craving on the chocolate really hard lately.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Apples Go in Your Belly!

This morning, Nick insisted that he wanted an apple. He was indecisive about which kind of apple he wanted. "Want red apple!," he said. Then, when I showed him the red apple, he changed his mind. "No! Want GREEN apple please!" I handed it to him, but this apple was pretty hard to bite. "Cut it! Mommy cut it?" he asked. So, of course, I sliced the apple into pieces. Then he wanted to put the apple into this empty box that once held granola bars. I'm not sure why. "Apples go in box," he told me definitively.

"No, Nick." I replied. "Apples go in your belly." That's where the fun started. Check out what Nick did next:

Yup. This kid is very literal. I, of all people, should know this, seeing as I work with kids learning language for a living. My students especially struggle with figurative language and the many English sayings we have in this country. Of course my two-year-old wouldn't get it. His reaction made me laugh out loud, which made Nick think he'd done something spectacular.  I had to explain that when you eat, the food goes in your mouth and then down to your tummy. He was still a little confounded. Nick even tried to put the apple in my (larger than normal) belly by lifting up my shirt. Nope, I don't have a picture of that.  Ah, well. He'll get the concept soon enough.

Nick did eventually eat most of the apple, though it had some fleece fuzzies on it by that point.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Best Bathroom EVER!

Last Saturday Greg and I went out to dinner with his dad and stepmom. They live in Rockton, and got us a babysitter so we could actually enjoy our food, rather than dodging flying crayons and "Shh"ing constantly. We went to a restaurant called Brio in Rockton, and had a delightful time.

We had what's called a chef's tasting. That means that the chef picked all 5 courses for our dinner, plus wines to go with them. Alas, I had to pass on the wine, though I did try a sip or two of the whites. I wish I'd have taken pictures of our courses, but I didn't, for some reason. I can say that this was the best food I've ever had this side of the Atlantic. (Only Paris and Barcelona can beat this place!) The decor was pretty cool, too. Check out this mirror they have in the hallway:

I think my favorite courses were the scallops, the cauliflower soup, and, of course, the dessert--some sort of crepe with homemade vanilla bean ice cream and pears. I loved the eating experience as well. . . sitting around chatting and eating small portions of very delicious food for hours is exactly the perfect way to spend an evening. Oh, and the bathrooms. . .

Apparently, they are award-winning. Did you know that there's a hall of fame for cool bathrooms? I didn't, either. But there is, and the women's bathroom at Brio was the coolest I've ever seen. I guess the women's bathroom is supposed to be heaven, and the men's bathroom is supposed to be hell. There's even blue lighting in the women's bathroom and red lighting in the men's bathroom. I was especially impressed with the mirror and sinks (see above). I also loved the clouds on the wall. . .

and the grey tile on the floor. I did not, however, take pictures in the men's room, for obvious reasons. I just took plenty of photos in the ladies room.

I want to see if Greg and I can try a chef's tasting at some restaurants by us. I feel like this was an experience rather than just a meal, and the chef was clearly trying to impress. (He did!) Greg said he felt like we were judges on Iron Chef. The whole experience was very decadent (and delicious).

Plus, since I've been spending a lot of time in bathrooms as of late (baby sitting on my bladder), Brio certainly made that experience more interesting.