Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, March 28, 2011

Raking Leaves in March (With a Snow Shovel)

Since spring is officially here, of course snow is expected later this week. That's what happens in this part of Illinois. We get teased with lovely weather for a few days, and then get slapped in the face with the remnants of winter. During one of our last "teaser" days of nice weather, Nick and I decided to go out and see what'd happened with the garden. Grandma Toni joined us, too.

Before you say anything, yes, I am indeed aware that my garden was covered with leaves and dead plants. I know that gardeners are supposed to do some work in the fall to clean up. My excuse? Last fall I was in the first trimester of this pregnancy, and I was more than a little nervous about overexerting myself. So we did nothing. We didn't even rake the leaves.

So that's why we were outside on a sunny day in March, raking leaves and turning over the soil. Nick was actually pretty good at helping with this. He loves digging in the dirt, and preparing the soil, at this point, involves nothing more than a bit of digging.

Nick even helped us gather the leaves and put them into the yard waste bags. Would you believe we filled two entire bags just with leaves and old plants from our small raised bed garden? Really.

Oh, and the snow shovel? I couldn't find the rake--later Greg told me he'd thrown it out because it was in bad shape. At first we tried picking up the leaves with our hands, but that was frustrating and not very successful. So I pulled out the snow shovel, and that did the trick fairly well. I also used my funky twisty tool (that green thing with the handle) to turn over the soil. I'll probably supplement the soil a bit with some compost, but it still looks decent. I like raised beds because the soil doesn't get packed down as much.

We already planted some seeds, and they're growing well indoors. Now the garden is mostly ready for planting. I'm thinking the spinach will go in first, sometime soon. This year we're going to put in some chicken wire, because the bunnies around here are ravenous, and they've eaten quite a bit of my produce in the last few years.

I am totally ready for spring to arrive, this time for good! If we get both nice weather and time this weekend, we'll be doing some planting. I ordered a whole bunch of new seeds from the Seed Saver's Exchange, and I can't wait to see how they'll do.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pregnancy Update: 28 Weeks

Yup, that's our boy. Can you see how he's got his legs squished over the top of his head? That's one flexible baby! I think he has Greg's nose. I'm not sure where he got the flexibility from, though. Certainly not from me. Here's my pregnancy update.

Weeks Pregnant: 28 weeks, 4 days. He's about the size of a large eggplant now. I went for this ultrasound on March 15th, and the doctor said that he weighed 2 lbs., 4 ounces at that point. Size-wise, he's doing great. The doctors haven't found any signs of vitamin or iron deficiencies (in me) or growth restriction (in him) at all yet. However, nothing came up with Nick until after 30 weeks, so they're going to watch me closely from this point forward.

Greg took this picture of me last night, when I'd just eaten a huge dinner of hibachi steak and scallops with sushi. I'm feeling kind of round, but I'm very happy that I'm not waddling yet. (At least I'm pretty sure I'm not waddling. I keep asking people and they tell me no.)
Weight: (From starting weight) +10 pounds. (I lost six pounds in the first trimester, then I gained that six back plus ten more.) I gained 8 pounds this month. Sigh. I think that's a lot for one month, but I barely gained at all until this month, so my doctor isn't worried.

I will say, though, that getting up and down from the floor is getting extremely difficult. I've spent a lot of time sitting either on the bathroom floor or on step stools, and every time I stand up my tailbone is on fire. I'm going for a pregnancy massage on Tuesday, and I'm really looking forward to that. (It was Greg's Valentine's Day gift to me.)

Movement: I was actually really worried about how little this guy was moving, but the fetal medicine specialist says that's because my placenta is in the front. He is moving more, but it's nothing like when I was pregnant with Nick, who was like a gymnast or a kick boxer when he was in utero.

Exercise: Well, not as much as I'd like. I did do pilates once and an elliptical trainer workout twice. I've kept up somewhat with my stretching, though, and I've done plenty of walking. I'm sure I'll do more this week, because I'm on my spring break. I want to do the pilates DVD again. Nick loved it! I feel like I've been generally more active with this pregnancy, probably because I spend much of my time chasing after a toddler. That sure counts as exercise. Or it should!

Coincidentally, I wore the same sweater for my 17 week picture and my 28 week picture. Hmm. I'm definitely bigger. I flipped the pic on the right and put them side by side so you could see the growth.

Cravings: Still with the coffee. I love my tall, skinny latte from Starbucks in the afternoons. Did you know they started carrying these teeny little desserts? My latest obsession is something called a red velvet whoopie pie. Trust me, they're good. Try one. If it's true that women crave things that their bodies are lacking during pregnancy, apparently I'm lacking in caffeine and red velvet.

On a healthier front, we recently switched to organic milk, so I've been drinking lots of that as well. Last week my family went through seven half gallons in seven days! We've also been having a ton of spinach salads, lots of fresh green beans and broccoli, and strawberries, apples, and bananas. My Costco grocery bill is intense, but our family eats well. I'm still making my own whole wheat bread in my bread maker, so I know that's healthy. Hurray for flax seed!

Sleep: Well, lately I'm waking up with back pain or limbs that have fallen asleep. I'm sleeping a little deeper, though, so that's good. Plus, since I just started the third trimester, the mind-numbing exhaustion hasn't hit me yet. I seem to be fine with 8 hours of sleep.

Medical: I'm still taking: 1 liquigel prenatal vitamin, 2 Flintstones Complete Chewables, 3 chewable calcium supplements, 1sublingual B12, and 1 baby aspirin each day. So far my labs are good, though, so the vitamins must be working. My blood sugar was better this week, but last week I was complaining of low readings (40s and 50s each day after eating) so of course the endocrinologist wants me to wear a continuous blood sugar monitor for a few days. Isn't it weird how as soon as you call the doctor to deal with a problem, the problem gets better? The day after I scheduled the test, my blood sugar readings went up and I haven't been below 60 in days.

Mood: I've been a little overwhelmed since we started potty training. I keep thinking about how hard it's going to be--not with the new baby, but lifting Nick and wrestling with him after I've had a c-section. I didn't think the recovery was bad at all last time, but I didn't have a 30-lb toddler to heave around all the time then, either. My mood regarding the new baby has been great, though. I am starting to get excited now as I look at teeny tiny sleepers and onesies.

Symptoms: Sometimes my belly jerks randomly and you can see it from the outside. With Nick, you could see arms and legs moving across, but with this pregnancy I just get sudden jumps. I was making popcorn (the old fashioned way, on the stove top) today, and the noise of the popping popcorn made him wake up and start dancing. My whole belly was jiggling.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Teaser Post

Greetings from pottyland. I've spent most of the last week sitting on the floor in the bathroom, singing silly songs and desperately listening for the joyful sound of success. The cord on my laptop doesn't stretch that far, so my posts have been somewhat sporadic.

I have a ton to post about, though, and thankfully, I'm on my spring break, so more updates are to come in the next week, including:

1. A pregnancy update. Yup. I'm 28 weeks now. It's getting harder to see my feet.

2. The extravaganza of raking leaves in March with the "help" of a two-year-old. Using a snow shovel.

3. A trip to downtown Chicago for the day, including The Hancock Building and a chocolate tour (Yes, such things exist).

4. An account of the coolest children's party (for a two-year-old) that I've ever seen.

5. Nick's trip to Naperville's Riverwalk.

Here are some of the pictures for you to peruse, in no particular order or context. More to come this week.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Please don't eat the seeds!

Last week, on one of those random warm days, Nick and I decided that it was time to plant some of our seeds. I'm obviously not going to be as gung ho about my planting as I was last year, but I'm still hoping for some decent produce. My weeding, however, might be significantly reduced, seeing as it takes me a sold minute to get down to the ground. Let's not talk about how long it takes my pregnant body to get up.

Our first step was hydrating the soil pellets in the little greenhouse. Nick enjoyed helping with that, although he spilled as much water on the floor as he got onto the soil pellets. Kids always love when the pellets start to grow--it looks like magic to them.  I bought one of the greenhouses that had 75 little pellets. That should be enough seeds to get me started. I still had plenty of seeds left over from last year, when I ordered from the Seed Saver's Exchange.

I think Nick is just excited to be outside again. I am too, to tell you the truth. It's interesting how we don't go outside at all for four or five months out of the year, and then suddenly it's nice enough to sit on the porch. We did notice something fishy on our front porch, though. . .

Yup, that "Welcome" pole with fall decorations and the scarecrow has been there since September. My mother-in-law got that for us a few years back, and this year we forgot to bring it in. At one point it was covered in snow. I guess it's time to bring it in, since it is now officially SPRING.

Here are the seeds tonight, about a week later. They've pretty much all sprouted and are doing well under the lights. I just bought another ten kinds of seeds from the Seed Saver's Exchange, so we'll see if I'm too late to plant those as well, once they arrive in the mail.

Oh, what did I plant? Is that the question? Sigh. Nick kept trying to eat the seeds. He called the bigger ones "beans" and it was all I could do to keep them away from him. I wasn't paying attention while I was planting, so I couldn't tell you what is what.

I'm never very good at remembering what I planted where. I remember I had the same problem last year. I know that I did 2 rows of tomatoes and peppers and at least 1 row of everything else, including lots of herbs. I think I planted broccoli, too. Nick was distracting me as I was planting, and I lost the paper where I had written down which seeds are which. Oh well. I'll figure it out eventually. I'm just proud of myself for remembering to plant the seeds!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Potty Training Update

Should I show this one to his girlfriend someday? I thought it was pretty cute, anyway. Warning: This post contains information about potty training. If this isn't your thing, no problem. You don't have to read it.  But I have enough people who wanted to know how it goes that I decided to just make this into a post.

So here's the potty training update:

Greg put Nick into his new, expensive man panties Saturday morning, and spent a few hours getting Nick to go on the potty. He sat and sat but nothing happened. Then, when Greg was in the shower, I put Nick on the potty and we started singing, "The Wheels on the Bus." For some reason, that seemed to do it, and Nick peed in the potty. He seemed so very surprised, but was thrilled with the toy he got (a wind-up helicopter).

I guess Greg didn't have any more success that day.  I left around noon and was downtown all day Saturday. Nick went through lots of 5 ply man panties, all to no avail. He woke up this morning completely soaked. Nick sat on the potty several times with no luck. You'll notice from the pictures that we have lots of interesting items in the bathroom: books, markers, paper, crayons, and a dry erase board. That's to keep him entertained enough to sit there for awhile without getting mad. Finally, Greg got him to pee on the potty, and gave him some silly putty as a prize. Nick was thrilled, but then immediately pooped in his pants.

By the way, we learned two important lessons here today. First of all, silly putty makes quite a mess when a toddler pulls it into strings and flings it all around the living room. Also, supposedly "waterproof" five-ply underwear doesn't hold a good sized toddler BM. Nick had two of those today, and one leaked so badly that it got up to his hair. He has had three baths this weekend.

Today we had to go to a birthday party, but we are stubborn and didn't want to go back to the diapers, even just for a few hours. It was a party for a two-year-old, so Nick was able to sit on the potty a few times, though he never had any success. Instead he wet through his pants very badly while sitting on Greg's lap, ruining both pairs of pants. I teased Greg because of the location of the wet spot on his jeans. It looked as though Greg was the one who'd wet his pants.

Late this afternoon, I took Nick to the Babies 'R Us to choose some new training paraphernalia. I let him pick out Elmo man panties, plastic pants, and a new Elmo potty seat. No luck since then, but Nick sat on the potty willingly at least four times this evening.

Here are the numbers:

Days: 2
Total Potty Trips: 14
Successful Potty Trips: 2
Toys Earned: Also 2
Random Items Thrown Into Potty: 4, not including tons of toilet paper (1 hair band, 1 orange crayon, and the tag from my new maternity shirt)
Number of Times Toilet Flushed (Empty): 23
Wet/Dirty Pairs of Man Panties: 10
Fits Thrown: 7
Outfits Worn: 5
Baths: 3
Amount Spent on Additional Potty Paraphernalia: $76
Additional Pairs of Man Panties Purchased: 9
Additional Pairs of Plastic Pants Purchased: 9
Loads of Laundry: 2

We are not giving up. Greg and I decided that being consistent is the most important thing, so we're keeping Nick in training pants until he's trained. At least we're going to try, especially since our babysitter and Nick's Grandma Toni are willing to help us with the process during the week.

The only compromise that we made was to keep Nick in diapers at night. I feel very hypocritical expecting Nick to make it through the night without peeing, because I get up at least three times a night lately. Also, since Nick started crawling out of his crib, we've child-locked his door from the inside.

From what I've read, this process can take a really long time if parents keep switching back and forth. I'd rather see it through and persevere, even if it takes more patience than either Greg or I have right now. I bought three different kinds of training pant options to try, but I'm not going to go with pull-ups. From my experience, I think that those don't allow kids to feel when they're wet. I want Nick to care when he's soaked. He's already becoming more aware of the feeling. Nick is 28 months old now, and its time.

Wish us luck. We're going to need it over the next few. . . weeks? months? 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cookies for St. Patrick's Day and the Need for a Lucky Charm

Nick and I decided to make cookies for St. Patrick's Day. We make cookies nearly every week, but these cookies were special. We made them green!

I didn't have any sort of shamrock cookie cutter, but I had plenty of green sprinkles left over from Christmastime. So we made sugar cookie dough and rolled little balls. Then we rolled them in green sprinkles. Nick loves sprinkles!

Nick's problem is that he likes to take big bites out of the cookies as he's making them. We lost a couple this way. Eventually he got the hang of rolling them around in the sprinkles, though. He loved flattening them as well.

By the way, yes, that's my belly in most of the pictures. It was awkward to take pictures at this particular angle, and my belly was always getting in every shot. Perhaps that's just Nick's younger brother trying to share the spotlight.  ;)

See Nick's shirt? It says "Mommy's Lucky Charm." I got it when Nick was just a tiny baby on the clearance rack at Gymboree. I figured he'd fit into it eventually, and I was right.

Greg's actually the one who could use a lucky charm this weekend, though. You see, he went to a seminar a few months back where the presenter explained the perfect method for potty training a toddler. Greg is an LCPC (a therapist, but also a supervisor for other therapists) and so he knows a lot about behavioral modification. Greg has been telling me that all he needed was some training pants and a giant bag full of cheap but exciting toys, and he could get Nick started on the road to potty independence, even though we haven't had a lot of success thus far.

The $8 apiece man panties have arrived in the mail, I bought out the $1 bin at Target the other day, and we've been hyping the potty to Nick all week. On Saturday, I'm going downtown with a friend to celebrate her birthday, so Nick and Greg will be all by themselves. . . except for the potty. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this method of Greg's works well. Otherwise, I'll be spending my spring break cleaning up puddles. Any positive vibes or lucky charms would be appreciated.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An $800 Weekend

So how, do you ask, can a weekend cost $800?  Let's see. . .

It all started with a big surprise Saturday morning. I was sleeping, because, you see, I have a wonderful husband who always gets up with our son and lets me sleep. Also, I sleep with earplugs (snoring husband) and it would take quite a lot of noise to wake me up. Anyhow, Greg woke up to find Nick wandering around the loft area upstairs. He had apparently figured out how to climb out of his crib. We waited with bated breath to see if it was a fluke. Nick did it twice more, once on Saturday and once on Sunday.

Transitioning from his crib was inevitable, I suppose. Nick is now 28 months old, and has a little brother on the way who will need to use the crib. We had hoped, however, to delay the transition a little longer. With the way Nick's crib is designed, though, it's really not safe for him to be flinging himself over the edge. So I began shopping for a toddler bed. I found one quickly, at JCPenney. A bonus is that I had a coupon good for 10% off furniture. Not too shabby, and I think it's pretty cute. Here's what I ordered.

Once I had added this toddler bed to my online shopping cart, I realized I probably needed a new crib mattress. Also, since we're just starting potty training, I bought a waterproof mattress cover. Good thing I had a coupon code for 30% off online at Kohl's. Oh, and a new bed requires sheets! I hopped over to ebay and found this handmade sheet/pillow/quilt set for less than any new bedding set I could find anywhere. It's neutral but goes with our green nursery theme.

Since Greg is going to try to potty train Nick this weekend, I did some price-comparisons and bought 5-ply Potty Scotty underpants for Nick at $8 per pair on eBay. We had to buy at least 5 pairs for home and 5 pairs for daycare. (Potty training is expensive, but not as expensive as diapers!)

I realized as I was being distracted by potty training paraphernalia that we have a space problem. You see, we have a two bedroom home with an open loft. The boys will have to share a room, which is no great tragedy. However, right now the bedroom is completely full. There's the crib, a nice cushy rocker and ottoman, a dresser/changing table, and a full-sized bed. The bed was Greg's from his bachelor days, and Grandma Toni has been sleeping on it when she stays with us. There is no room for a toddler bed unless we ditch the mattress. Grandma Toni will need a place to sleep. So I started futon shopping. Here's what I found:

We would've been fine buying a used futon on Craigslist or something, but we have no way to transport furniture. By the time you add in the cost of renting a truck, I might as well just buy a new futon and have it delivered. (Total cost for delivery of all items bought this weekend: $44. Not too shabby.)

However, a futon needs a mattress. And a cover for the mattress. This is how we ended up spending $800 in one weekend. All because of a little man who learned how to climb.

Do you notice how he's also chewed on the side of his crib? Most of that was done when Nick was at the teething stage. I hadn't realized how much had actually been chewed until I saw this photo. I guess the crib will be all worn-in for the new baby.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

All About Bikes. . . and Trikes

It all started with Nick reading a story about a bike at daycare. Nick was especially interested, and our babysitter, who believes in the Montessori approach, went with it and brought out activities having to do with bikes. The kids put together diagrams of a bicycle, colored them, and learned to name the parts. My boy was totally into it. See the picture he made?

Bikes are his latest obsession. He can point to and name the pedals, wheels, tires, handlebars, and even the horn.

When we went to Costco on Friday, of course they had out their display of bicycles--adult bicycles. "Mommy, I want to ride that bike." Then, later in our shopping trip, "Mommy, I want that bike!" I told Nick that he had his own bike at home in the basement. Actually it's a tricycle, but he got all excited. Greg brought it up into the living room and he's been sitting on it constantly. Greg brought it outside all three days this weekend and let him ride around the block, again and again. . . and again.

Nick mostly just sits on the trike or scoots a little with his feet, as you can see. Greg pushes him when they're outside. But he knows that this is a big kid bike, so he's excited everytime he sees it. I'm not sure how long it'll be before he's able to reach the pedals properly.

He also started climbing on the seat of his tricycle to get things. Last night, he used it to get onto the kitchen table, grab a handful of kitty food, and fling it across the floor. "Here kitty, you eat it!" So the trike started Nick on a pattern of climbing. He climbed a lot Friday night, and even sat on our cocktail table for awhile. We had to tell him, "No stand on bike!" repeatedly.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Trip to the Mall, Sans Stroller

Last week I had to go to the mall, but my husband had forgotten to put the stroller back in my trunk. It was in his car, where it served no useful purpose. I usually don't mind taking Nick to the mall, but I was very nervous to go without a stroller. It's getting harder to carry Nick now that he weighs nearly 30 pounds and I am 26 weeks pregnant!

As we walked through the mall, Nick was mesmerized by the carousel, the indoor playground, and especially by the cars that move and make noise. "Mommy, I go on cars?!" Nick asked excitedly. Now, I know all about the attention span of a two-year old, and his general ability to wait. I had no intention of leaving the mall without doing at least one fun thing for Nick. But first I had something important to do.

"Nick, first shopping, then cars. First shopping, then cars." Nick considered this thoughtfully for a moment, and then, miraculously, he said. "Okay mommy. First shopping, then cars." No tantrum, not even a whimper. I sighed in relief and headed off to the pinkest of stores. Pregnant women, you see, can indeed grow a cup size over the weekend, and this can be quite uncomfortable with ill-fitting undergarments.

Nick seemed mesmerized by all of the pinkness and lace. As the saleslady came up to help (and measure) me, Nick said to her, "First shopping, then I go cars!" She laughed, and Nick proceeded to tell every single person in the store that he would get to ride on a car when I was done shopping. In the meantime, Nick waited patiently while I spent time in the fitting room. Indeed, he even tried on some of the merchandise himself. If I hadn't been otherwise occupied, I'd have taken pictures, because what is cuter than a two-year-old boy modeling a pink lacy bra?

Anyway, I stopped to buy perfume on the way out, and I figured Nick would start getting impatient. But he just took all of the perfume boxes and stacked them like blocks on the shelf. Then, after I made my purchases, Nick asked, "Cars now, Mommy?"

I decided to push it. "One more store, Nick. One more store, then cars." It worked! Nick walked into the maternity store with me and held my hand for another ten minutes while I looked around. I was so proud of him. He can be so naughty sometimes, but on this day he behaved exceptionally well. He saw this fountain on the way out, and I let him watch the water for awhile.

Then, as promised, it was on to the cars. "All done shopping, now cars." This is what I told Nicholas, and his face lit up as he saw them. I let him pick two cars to ride on, and he would've stayed for hours if I'd have let him.

Nick was even understanding when I didn't have enough quarters for the car with the video screen. He just sighed and picked another vehicle. I guess he must've been in an accommodating mood that day.

When I'd run out of money, I told Nick he could play for a few minutes.  I gave him a five minute warning when I was ready to leave.

When it was time to go, Nick simply took my hand and we walked out the door. Simple as that. I am under no illusions that this is normal behavior, but I sure was grateful for it that day.

Let's hope I'm able to have more days out with Nick like this one. No temper tantrums, no drama. Just shopping, and then fun.

Friday, March 11, 2011

This Boy is Well-Loved

Here are the promised pictures from Nick's visit with my mom, stepdad, sister, and grandma. Nick had a ball and loved all of the attention. He knows all of his relatives by name and he even knows how they like to play. Auntie Mandy likes to tickle him, and Grandma Linda likes to read with him. Gigi likes to sing with him--in this case they sang "The wheels on the bus."

Nick knows that he can play pinball with his Grandpa Ray, and that Grandma Linda will let him make biscuits and eat "cookie bears" anytime he wants. (I'm talking about those chocolate graham cookies--my mom keeps them at her house just for him.) Nick sometimes chooses to eat them with a spoon.

Nick even knows how to play blocks with different people. With me, he wants to make houses for his little animals, but with Grandma, he likes to build with squishy blocks. Plus, also chew on them.

Grandma Linda also makes a delicious dark chocolate bundt cake. Nick really loved that. I'm going to have to get her recipe. Anything with dark chocolate is a craving of mine lately.

Grandma Linda also likes to play Wii with Nick. He loves the balance board, and even requests to stand on it when he visits. Chewing on the Wii mote is even more fun. I think he was playing a game where you're a penguin and try to catch fish and not fall off of your iceberg. Nick got to visit his grandma and grandpa again this week, and he exhausted them with all of his energy.

We don't have any sort of video gaming system at our house, so this is very special for Nick. Also tasty, apparently.