18 Months of Dan!

Do you guys want to hear a funny story?

So I was going to post a cute thing about Dan when he turned one, but then we were packing and moving and traveling and I was lazy. By the time things settled down, he was, like, fifteen months old. And that’s not a cute milestone. I mean, with Dan every day is cute, but that’s beside the point.

Okay, that wasn’t funny at all.

Anyway, Dan is 18 months old as of Saturday, and we celebrated by weaning him off his pacifier and sending him off to nursery. Poor little guy. He handled both really well.

What I really wanted to say in this post (and this hasn’t changed from his birthday) is that Dan is absolutely amazing. He is so full of love for his family, his toys, his books, and so many other things. He’s learning and developing at an incredible rate, and we’re just so lucky we get to be part of it all.

So, in honor of his 18-month-ness, I thought I would share…

18 Fun Facts About Dan!

1. Dan loves books!

img_20160504_094505371

As you may remember, Dan has always enjoyed reading. Now that he can understand some of what we’re reading him (and we’ve acquired some very nice lift-the-flap books), reading has become a really exciting experience. Dan will bring me book after book after book until I have tho get up and do something else. And then he’ll whine, because what could be more important than reading Where’s Spot? or Hoppity Frog for the 85th time?

I’m not complaining, though. In fact, I’m really proud that Dan loves books so much. That means we must be doing something right!

2. Dan LOVES wheels!

Big wheels, small wheels, plastic toy wheels, rubber tires…basically, if it rotates, Dan loves it. He will point out every wheel on every car in every book we read him. He’ll sit on our front porch and point to every car or truck or lawnmower on our street. He nearly destroyed his vocal cords a month ago when he learned to say “Vroom!” If we take Dan to a museum or the zoo, he’s much more interested in pushing his own stroller around (and running after other kids’ strollers) than in looking at the attractions. We actually took the wheels off our office chair, because leaving them on would be disastrous. Dan would be playing with them all the time and one of us would inevitably crush his fingers.

 

Tractorin it up with Aunt Natalie!

Tractorin’ it up with Aunt Natalie!

3. Dan LOVES buttons!

Similarly, Dan is fascinated by buttons.

This was the best experience of Dans life.

This was the best experience of Dan’s life.

4. Dan is weirdly into rap…?

Imagine you’re on a long car ride. Dan is crying in the back seat because he’s tired and needs a nap and wants to be out of the car. You want to put on some music to calm him down. You put on some relaxing classical music, like a nice Beethoven sonata. Dan ignores it completely. You turn on some Enya—everyone likes Enya, right? Not Dan. He screams so loud you can’t hear the music.

So what do you do?

Well, you use this nonsense:

He’ll calm down instantly, and be asleep within minutes. Just don’t turn it off, or he’ll start whimpering again.

We don’t know why he likes rap so much. Tom thinks it’s the steady beat. I really don’t know where I went wrong, because this is clearly evidence of severe parenting failure, but I’ll admit it was pretty funny watching him dance to the Kreb’s cycle rap the other day (warning: mild language):

Luckily, I’ve discovered that the Undertale soundtrack is just as effective at keeping Dan calm in the car, and I’m using it and Little Einsteins as gateway drugs into instrumental/jazz/classical music appreciation. It’s a work in progress, but we’re making some breakthroughs. And in case you’re wondering, this is his favorite Undertale song:

5. Dan is very helpful!

Dan loves to help me out around the house. Once after I changed his diaper, I saw him pick the wet diaper up and put it in the trash can, so that is now his official job. He’s good at it, too. Last week he went to throw the diaper away, realized the trash can didn’t have a liner, and went looking for a different trash can. Wow!

Dan is also good at helping me put clothes into laundry baskets and put toys and books away. He also likes to help me “load the dishwasher,” which really means playing with the brightly-colored knives—so he’s not actually allowed to do this. Yet.

Here are some pictures of Dan “helping.”

img_20160919_142031428

Climbing into the laundry basket is helping, right?

Climbing into the laundry basket is helping, right?

6. Dan loves to go outside!

img_20160811_094344354

img_20160914_122029349

In fact, “outside” is one of the handful of words he can say. Which brings us to number 6…

7. Dan can say words!

His vocabulary includes the words “outside,” “hi” (“Hieeeeeeeee!”), “dada,” “mama,” “shhhs” (shoes), “bah” (ball), “yeah,” “up,” “pat,” and “button.” He can also quack, moo, meow, and vroom with the best of them.

8. Dan is terrified of the garbage truck!

His room faces the street, and if we’re in there while the garbage truck is doing its thing, Dan will cling to me and stare at the window until it’s gone.

The only other thing that consistently freaks him out is when he’s holding my phone and it vibrates. He doesn’t get a lot of sympathy for this one, because he’s not supposed to touch my phone in the first place.

9. Dan is a major flirt!

img_20160718_151741754

Yeah, Dan. Flirt with the little girl AND her mom. That’ll get you places…

img_20160711_155334197

“Help me put this shoe on and my heart is yours, babe.”

img_20160523_102613558_hdr

He likes girls.

10. Dan knows some of his body parts!

Dan can correctly identify his nose, ears, head, tummy, arm, hand, leg, knee, and feet!

11. Dan is my green smoothie buddy!

12. Dan has a mild egg allergy!

We’ve had to learn to make substitutions in recipes, but that just means that raw cookie dough is 100% safe for consumption at our house!

Dan chowin down on his egg-free birthday cake

Dan chowin’ down on his egg-free birthday cake

13. Dan loves carbs!

Specifically, he loves bread. If he sees bread on the counter or on someone’s plate, he’ll beg until he gets some. I don’t want him to be internally obese like the ducks down at BYU (or externally obese, for that matter), so Dancakes continue to be useful.

IMG_20160505_091729969

14. Dan is a budding photographer!

Here are some pictures he took with my phone when I wasn’t looking (I spy a cute foot, a favorite book, moving boxes, and a tired mom):

 

img_20160413_123428235

15. Dan’s three fictional characters from that one meme are…

Yikes, that picture quality is bad. If you’re wondering, that’s Twitchy from Hoodwinked, one of the minions (Bob?) from Despicable Me, and Perry the Platypus from Phineas and Ferb.

16. Dan has an excellent sense of style!

We don’t call him “Dapper Dan” for nothing. Here are some of his fabulous outfits:

img_20160525_150725322_hdr

17. Dan wants to be just like his dad!

And who can blame him? He’s got an awesome dad!

 

18. Dan’s kidneys are doing great!

Looking good!

Looking good!

I posted about Dan’s hydronephrosis after he was born, and I’m happy to report that his kidneys are doing just fine. The swelling on both sides has slowly but surely improved, and both kidneys are functioning properly. Woohoo!

We sure love this Dan, and are so grateful to have him in our family. Thanks for being our little guy, Dapper Dan!

Pregnancy Food Battles

Tom insists that my first trimester was WAY worse than I remember. Right now, I can only think of a few days in which I was grumpy because I knew I had to eat food, but I didn’t want to. According to Tom, the magnitude of my suffering was only rivaled by my “trooper” attitude. I guess this is a good thing; my ability to conveniently forget things that suck will come in handy in April. I can see it now:

During labor: “GAH IT HURTS SO BAD I HATE YOU TOM I’M NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN NO MORE BABIES!”

Two weeks later: “Meh, that wasn’t so bad.”

…yeah, probably not. Anyway, it’s a good thing I started this blog post while in the throes of morning sickness; otherwise, I’d have no idea what the past three months were really like. I still think I was incredibly lucky.

***

My first trimester could be described succinctly by Strong Bad’s and Strong Sad’s comments from about 1:30 to 1:41 of this video:

This has got to be my only pregnancy complaint so far: eating food was really hard for a few weeks. I didn’t even want it anymore—the idea of food was about as appealing as cleaning a toilet or taking a chemistry exam. I had totally lost the ability to understand why food is a positive thing.  I was expecting to have those weird pregnancy cravings you always hear about, the kind that would send Tom on a midnight shopping adventure to get pickles and ice cream, or whatever. Instead, my personal definition of a “craving” was “anything that sounded remotely, hypothetically, temporarily edible.” Tom quickly learned not to trust me with buying the groceries, because I’d only buy things that seemed edible (read: not much).

I particularly had problems with anything sweet (including most fruits) and anything saltier than, say, bread. Soups and hot, heavily-sauced, salty dishes were off the menu. You guys, I have two big tubs of delicious Thai curry that are about to expire because I haven’t been able to eat curry in months.

I actually lost several pounds at one point, prompting Tom to start texting me almost every day, making sure I was actually eating.

For the most part, I tried to exercise self-discipline and eat as healthily as possible (yay hummus and smoothies!). However, there were times when this was much harder than it should have been, like that horrid week when I couldn’t make hummus because I was out of garlic, or when everything I would normally put in a smoothie was suddenly poisonous. Now that my stomach is behaving again, I’m trying hard to make up for lost nutrition (don’t ask me how many YAMS! I’ve eaten in the past week. I don’t even want to know).

Today, I’m going to share some of my more embarrassing “pregnancy recipes” from those early weeks. Hopefully you’ll find these as entertaining as I do.

Peaches

Ingredients:
~6 large peaches

Directions:
Peel peach. Eat. Repeat every two hours for as long as you are awake.

Minimal-Fruit Green Smoothie

This was the only smoothie I could stomach, and even it met with limited success.

Ingredients:
2 cups spinach
1 peach
Large handful of carrots
1 frozen strawberry
1 cup water

Directions:
Prepare smoothie according to standard procedure. Realize this would be revolting to many people. Drink 3/4 of the glass, and decide there’s no way you can force down any more. Wonder when your stomach got so small and dainty, and why it couldn’t have been like that when you were actively trying to lose weight. Store remaining smoothie in fridge indefinitely.

Apples With Peanut Butter

Ingredients:
1 apple
Peanut butter

Directions:
Decide you need an apple. Decide an apple is not enough calories to constitute a meal. Slice apple, and cover several slices with peanut butter. Retire to couch for resulting stomachache. Wonder whether the apple or the peanut butter was the culprit; shun both.

PB&J

Ingredients:
2 slices of bread
Peanut butter
Jam
Peach

Directions:
Make PB&J sandwich according to standard procedure. Start eating. Wonder who in his right mind decided that putting PEANUT BUTTER on BREAD was a good idea. Wonder if bread has gone bad. Decide bread has gone bad (it hasn’t). Discard half eaten sandwich. Eat peaches instead (see above).

“Bread”

It’s like a sandwich, without any sandwich fillings. Sandwich fillings are problematic.

Ingredients:
1 ciabatta roll (obtained while wandering around HEB like a pregnant zombie who’s lost her taste for human brains (or anything else, for that matter))

Directions:
Remove ciabatta roll from package. Eat morosely while contemplating your poor life choices.

Club Crackers and Jam

Ingredients:
Club crackers
Jam

Directions:
Decide club crackers are the only thing in the world that sounds good. Eat crackers plain until your mouth gets dry. Decide to risk a little bit of jam. Decide jam is okay. Eat almost an entire sleeve of club crackers in one sitting. Feel gross. Gag when Tom tries to force-feed you club crackers when he comes home.

Failure Pasta

I had a day when the only thing I wanted was a ton of pasta with alfredo sauce, eating-for-two style. Here’s my alternative.

Ingredients:
Pasta
Garlic salt
Parmesan cheese
Broccoli florets

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Toss some broccoli in pasta water toward the end of cooking to feel better about the fact that you’re about to ingest pure carbs and salt. Drain. Sprinkle with a little bit of garlic salt and cheese. Feel ashamed at how much better your stomach feels after eating this. Contemplate how something so right can feel so wrong (or is it the other way around?).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=st0obbFrWkM

Shrimp Pasta

This one has actually been a more-or-less weekly staple in our household since we’ve been married, but pregnancy’s made it weird.

Ingredients:
Canola oil
1 onion
1 red bell pepper
Pasta
Pasta sauce
Frozen shrimp

Directions:
Feel bad that you haven’t cooked an actual meal in days. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Sauté vegetables in oil. Add pasta and sauce. Simmer shrimp in sauce until fully cooked. Wake up at 3 A.M. with disgusting shrimp aftertaste. Swear off shrimp forever (or at least until you can forget this experience).

And, because David Sorensen insisted, here’s what I’ve eaten nearly every day since I’ve been able to eat again.

YAMS!

Ingredients:
1 YAM!, cut into small pieces
1 broccoli crown, cut into florets
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
~1.5 tbsp olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Rosemary
Thyme

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine YAM!, broccoli, and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil, mixing to combine. Add salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and any other toppings. Mix well, and dump onto foil-lined baking sheet. Try to achieve monolayer coverage (think Langmuir). Bake YAMS! and other things for 45 minutes.

Serves 1. Seriously, eat the whole thing. You really need to.

***

Man, those were good times.

And now, I’m going to text Tom and see if he can bring home some pickles and ice cream on the way home from work.

Green Smoothies?! Green Smoothies!

“Tom, what should my first real blog post be about?”

“Food. Talk about food.”

Who am I to ignore such great advice from my excellent husband? Today I’m going to unveil the food item I’ve been making more than any other the past few months:

Courtesy of: Kimberly Snyder. My smoothies never look like this.

Now wait a minute—don’t just brand me as some sort of hippy and leave, never to return. Hear me out.

Green smoothies have definitely improved my quality of life. This is the first time I’ve made it through an entire school year without getting sick, despite plenty of exposure and stress. I don’t crave chocolate as much, and I have more energy. I don’t have to worry about getting enough fruits and vegetables, because I can just drink them all in one fell swoop. Also, I may or may not have lost six pounds by replacing a meal or two a week with a smoothie, making no other changes to my lifestyle.

Now if I can just get Tom to join me, we’ll be all set.

In my opinion, the internet makes the whole smoothie experience way more complicated than it needs to be. “Use only organic produce.” “Make sure it’s a 70:30 vegetable:fruit ratio.” “Don’t eat anything less than 40 minutes before or after smoothie consumption.” “Sip it slowly through a straw and swish it around your mouth before you swallow it.” Ain’t nobody got time for that. Just play around with it until you’ve got something you’d look forward to drinking. You can hardly go wrong.

To start, here’s a simple smoothie recipe I’ve been enjoying lately. Be warned: the frozen berries will turn your “green” smoothie purple. It’s still awesome.

Citrus Berry Surprise [pronounced “soo-PREEZE”] Smoothie

2 cups spinach
1 cup water
1 apple
1 orange
0.5 cup frozen berries of choice

Place ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Happy smoothie-ing, friends!

 

P.S. On a writing-related note, I’m working on a 35,000-word novella for Brandon Sanderson’s creative writing class. Right now I’m at 27,522 words. Good times!