Friday, May 28, 2010

5 on Friday

As always, here are 5 special reasons I am loving my boy this week:

5. Over the weekend, Marino was eating a Ritz cracker. He bit it in half, looked at it, and said, "it's a boat!"

4. On Sunday, we visited with some of our favorite buddies: Pacey and Madelyn (no pics, sorry, I was fasting for a colonoscopy and not thinking clearly). As we were leaving, Marino told me "Pacey is best friend."

3. Marino is tattletale. When I picked him up from daycare the other day, he was busy telling on his friend Jared, who took one of his girlfriend Delaney's baby dolls. He was telling Jared, "Laney's baby! Not nice!"

2. He's finally learned how to blow bubbles in swim class without swallowing a mouthful of water. We're having lots of fun with that. He's loving swim class and is actually starting to practice really swimming by "scooping" with his hands/arms and kicking his legs simultaneously. You have to say "scoop scoop scoop" though, or he doesn't think it's as much fun!

1. Marino is very flattering. Yesterday at daycare, we saw the director, Sharon (aka Shi Shi) and he said "Shi Shi very pretty."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fish Fry!

As I mentioned last week, on Saturday Evan fried up the fish that everyone caught when they went deep sea fishing. If you never seen one, this is what a fried fish looks like.
Yep, too much like an actual live fish for me to be able to eat. But the consensus is the fried fish was delicious. We were lucky that lots of our friends came by to visit with us and take the fish off our hands, including Evan's good friend, Ahmad, who is just home from a looong deployment in Afghanistan.

Here's some of the couples: Gina and Brian, Donna and Ahmad, Evan and I, Rahsaan and Tara
All the kids...this is the reason I know Marino won't be lonely as an only child...

All these kids belong to 5 couples (and 2 are only children)! Check out the mirror -that's my favorite part of this picture!

The guys
More guys
The ladies
Jahvon...his mama does this little head tilt when she's posing for pictures, so this is what he does when he sees a camera.
Ahmad, Jahvon and Donna
Family head tilt pose
My tired boy and I...note the fist around my hair, a common sight when the boy is sleepy
Tara and Raiden
Love his hair!
More head tilting
Anthony - he's getting so big
He was cruising everywhere!
It was a great evening with great friends! Marino and I were so tired when we got home!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Special 1st Birthday Party

Preemie moms have a special bond, a sisterhood of sorts, based on our unique shared experiences. A year ago, my former boss, Chris, posted pictures on Facebook of his preemie daughter and I contacted him to let him know if he or his wife wanted to talk about preemies, the NICU, etc, I was here. His wife, Carol, and I formed a special friendship after that. They live about an hour away from us, so I hadn't gotten a chance to meet Carol or their daughter, Cassie, in person until this weekend. They were sweet enough to invite us to Cassie's first birthday party.

It was so great to finally meet Carol in person. We shared a great big hug - she's an amazing mom and it was so great to meet her on this joyful day, when her very happy, healthy and beautiful baby girl was turning 1. It was really great to see things come full circle.

The birthday party was at Gymboree and Marino LOVED it! He had so much fun and was a total ham at the party.

The happy birthday girl, Cassie.
Catching some bubbles

Chris and Cassie

Marino loved wearing this hat...he insisted on wearing it until we got in the car.
The birthday girl and her wonderful parents
Cake hands!
Happy family

Friday, May 21, 2010

5 on Friday

As always, here are 5 special reasons I am loving my boy this week:

5. Over the weekend, Marino stubbed his toe in the tub while kicking his legs like a maniac. He said "ow" and I kissed his toe, so then he said "ow" and "it hurts" about 20 more times because he wanted more kisses. It was cute. Even cuter was when he woke up overnight and wanted a bottle (yeah, I still give him a bottle at night, sue me). As he was falling back asleep, he lifted his foot towards me and said "ouch", wanting another kiss:)

4. At swim class on Sunday, I brought Marino into the bathroom with me. After I flushed the toilet, he said "Yay Mommy!!" and started clapping for me.

3.Marino's current obsession is "Finding Nemo". He likes to narrate the movie for us and gets VERY excited about it. He LOVES Dory and will go stand next to the tv and yell "Come on, Dory! Go, Dory!"

2. Evan went deep sea fishing over the weekend. When he came home, he showed me his cooler full of fish and I made a sad face and said I didn't want to see the fish anymore because they made me sad to see them like that (with their little faces). Marino looked at me and started to cry, saying "Mommy's face!!" I guess I have to reserve that sad face for important matters!!

1. My mom sent me an email Sunday afternoon that said:
This morning we cuddled with the blue striped blanket while he drank his bottle and I said it was cozy. He looked at me and said "what cozy?". I said it means comfortable and warm; he seemed to understand that. He's so smart!

That evening when I was giving him his bottle, he said "blanket" and when I covered him with it he said "aw...cozy":)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Visit with Gramma and Grampa Ray

This weekend, Evan went to North Carolina to go deep sea fishing with his friends and family. If you're wondering why I didn't go, then you must not have been on the sail boat we took on the day after our wedding. Or on the cruise we took in 2007. Or ever in any form of transportation with me that may induce motion sickness. My belly is not made for fishing boats. or planes. or trains. or the back seats of cars.

Evan had a great time and caught lots of adorable fish, who's cute little faces made me sad. Next weekend we will have a fish fry and (other people) will eat them. Poor fishies. Perhaps I have watched "Finding Nemo" one too many times this weekend.
Luckily, my mom and step father came to visit this weekend, so I had a hand with Marino so I could finish up my school work for the semester. He was sort of crabby this weekend so I was glad to have some help!

Saturday morning, we all went to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton. I'd only been there one time before and it was cold, so it was a treat to go in the Spring!

10 seconds after this picture was taken, Marino took off down the hill and fell on his face in the dirt (luckily not on the cement).
Brookside Gardens has a butterfly exhibit in the conservatory right now and it's really pretty. There are tons of beautiful butterflies and flowers in there (it's much nicer than the butterfly exhibit at the National Zoo). Marino was really into it at first.
Then I showed him a very large butterfly (let's just refer to it as Mothara). Once Marino saw Mothara, his joy in the butterflies waned. Suddenly, he was all "I'm scared." Then a poor butterfly had the misfortune of landing on him. He screamed "no no no no no" and started flailing around and trembling.
I mean, they are pretty terrifying, right?
I tell you, this boy is scared of the most random things. Clowns and butterflies. Anyway, we left after that, and as we were walking out, he shouted cheerfully, "bye bye butterfly"
Can you guess what happened 20 seconds after I snapped this picture?
Yep, Marino threw his snack trap in the water. With the frogs. And then whined because we wouldn't let him eat the rest of the goldfish in the snack trap.
Here he is in a calm moment with Gramma and Grandpa Ray. He LOVES to say "grampa ray" over and over again.

Luckily, Gramma and Grampa Ray love him so much they seem not to mind the bad behavior. He was very into hanging out with them this weekend and was very sad when they left. When Marino woke up from his nap today, the first person he called for was "Gramma". Next month we'll be going to New York to visit them!

Friday, May 14, 2010

5 on Friday

As always, here are 5 special reasons I am loving my boy this week:

5. Those of you who have been around Marino lately may have noticed that he is sort of obsessed with my hair. For one reason or another, stroking my hair is calming for him and he does it absent mindedly all the time. The other day he was playing with my hair (which is pretty long now) and he ended up pushing it across my face. At first he thought it was funny and then he got panicked and started pushing it away until he found my face again and said "Oh, there's Mommy!"

4. The boy has started calling basketball "catch-a-ball."

3. Thursday morning, Marino started thumping on his belly while I was changing his diaper. He said, "Mommy! It's a drum!"

2. Daycare bought some new pedal cars for the toddlers to play with (all toddlers love these, I think). Marino was super excited to see them! He got in and played for a while and then opened the door, pointed inside and said "Mommy, in!" Can you imagine me in this thing? They'd need the jaws of life to get me out!

1. Marino has a new best friend - his inflatable tiger we bought at the circus. Monday morning, he picked up tiger and said "Tiger, sit down in chair. Wait, wait. Sass" all while putting him in our glider and handing me the remote to turn on Yo Gabba Gabba. Apparently, tigers like "sass" as well as toddlers.

See evidence below of tiger love!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

FAQ: Going Gluten-Free

This is a question I am frequently asked and so, in recognition of food allergy awareness week, the post below relates to eating gluten-free.

I've been gluten-free for a little over 8 years now, when I noticed a correlation between eating gluten rich foods (mainly bread and pasta) and sudden abdominal pain. My uncle, Larry, was already gluten-free so I was lucky to have someone show me the ropes. When I first went gluten-free, it was late 2001 and the selection of available gluten-free foods was minimal. I was lucky to live half a mile from a Whole Foods, which had some gluten-free foods, although most of them were bordering on inedible. Let's just say I ate a lot of salads with chicken. and chocolate.

I think it is worth noting that I did not notice an immediate difference in my intestinal distress when I went gluten-free. It probably took a a good 2-3 months before I noticed a difference.

Lucky for people starting this journey now, the quality and availability of gluten-free foods has improved greatly. Here's a recent news article from the NY Daily News on this very topic. Our neighborhood Giant renovated the summer Marino was born and included an organic section with a huge stock of gluten-free foods. Prior to that renovation, I had to go to Giant AND Whole Foods every week. Ugh. Life is easier now and I only have to go to Whole Foods every 4-6 weeks to pick up a few things our grocery store doesn't carry (like red lentils and Ener-G egg replacement).

Where to buy gluten-free food? Check your local grocery store. Our Giant has an awesome gluten-free section, and even when Evan and I were in Iowa, the HyVee Food Store there had a lot of great, hard to find, gluten-free foods.

The following places always carry gluten-free products:

What to buy? If you can afford it, it's likely that you can find gluten-free replacements for all of the gluten-based foods you normally eat. Unfortunately, you are likely to pay 3 or 4 times as much for a gluten-free product than a regular product. A loaf of gluten-free bread, for example, is $7 or $8. Contrary to popular belief, these products are not necessarily any healthier than any other products out there. I highly recommend spending some time trying out foods that naturally do not require gluten. There are lots of yummy rice dishes out there that won't require a $7 loaf of bread of $9 bread crumbs. Here's a few of my favorites:

Roast chicken (I use soy butter)
Lemon chicken (use Tamari instead of soy sauce)

Below are some of my favorite gluten-free products. Some are treats, some are just gluten-free naturally, but I can attest that they all actually taste good!

Tinkyada Rice Pasta - even Evan likes this!

Kinnikinnick frozen pizza crusts and doughnuts

Taste of Thai rice noodles and pad thai sauce

Aleia's Cookies

Glutino Pretzels

Van's Waffles (these are very affordable)

Ian's gluten-free chicken nuggets and french bread pizza's

Hidden Gluten. When I was getting started with eating gluten-free, the hardest thing for me was all the products that contained gluten that you wouldn't think of as being "wheat" products. Distilled white vinegar is made from wheat, which means that many sauces, marinades, salsas, salad dressings, bbq sauces and ketchup have gluten. Heinz ketchup is gluten-free and their bbq sauces are gluten-free as well. Lots of medicines also contain gluten, as it is a binding agent. More information can be found here or talk to your doctor about what is safe for you to take.

There is a really good list of gluten-free products here.

Dining Out. This is a bit trickier for me because I am also lactose-intolerant. I found that when I was pregnant and able to tolerate lactose, there were significantly more restaurant menu items available to me than usual. Many restaurants have gluten-free menus now, although lots of the gluten-free menus are just a list of a handful "safe items" like salads and bun-less burgers - not really the kind of stuff you want to bother leaving the house and paying money for.

Here are my favorite places that have gluten-free menus that are worthwhile:
Austin Grill
PF Changs
Here's a list of restaurants with gluten-free menus (good, bad and ugly)
A safe bet is always a thai or Vietnamese restaurant. Both of these cuisines have menus that are naturally full of gluten-free items. Vietnamese is my new obsession - I could eat it every day!

If you want to read more on eating gluten-free, I suggest you check out these blogs:
Allergen-Free Please
A Year of Slow Cooking
Gluten-Free Girl
Gluten-Free Mommy
Baking Love

PS: I hope this will serve as a good starting point for people going or thinking of going gluten-free. As such, if you stumble across this and have more resources for me to add, please leave a comment and I will edit this post as I find new helpful resources.

Monday, May 10, 2010

2nd Mother's Day - Part II

My 2nd Mother's Day was great! I got to sleep in and when I woke up, there were cards, a drawing from Marino and a beautiful locket from Evan waiting for me.

Marino and I had our regular Sunday swim class, which went much better this week than last. Marino is a total daredevil and only wanted to leap from the side of the pool towards me without warning (repeatedly). He likes to scare his mommy, apparently. I definitely need to invest in some swimmies for summer!

After swim lessons, Marino very kindly took a 2.5 hour nap for probably the second time in his whole life (most naps are 60 minutes). Evan got me my favorite lunch, Vietnamese food, and I had lots of time to enjoy it and watch trashy reality tv on my DVR:)

After the nap, we went to the circus. We had fairly low expectations about how Marino would like the circus and it was close by and fairly inexpensive, so we thought it would be a good introduction to live shows for him.
We discovered at the show that Marino is completely terrified of clowns. Friends, Marino has undergone horrific medical procedures, 2nd degree burns, numerous hospital stays, etc. and I have never seen him afraid of anything the way he was afraid of those clowns. Everytime we saw one, he would start trembling and clutching Evan and I at the same time. At one point, he had one of our ears in each hand:( It was very sad to see. Evan's Aunt Ronnie gave us a bright side to this - at least we will never waste money on a clown for one of his birthday parties!
He enjoyed the rest of the show, especially the animals. Evan and I were really disturbed by the way the animals were treated during the show. To get them to do anything, whips were used. Honestly, if the animals just walked through the ring, it would have been exciting to me. I'm not sure why they have to do tricks. It was clear the animals were afraid and agitated, and Evan and I had a hard time enjoying the show because of it. I hope to raise Marino with a non-anthropocentric ethic (meaning that his moral community will include all living things, not just people). The circus is definately not in line with that and I wish I had considered that before (not that he will remember or even noticed that was happening).

I mean, would you be happy if someone made you do this for reasons you could not understand?

By the way, one of my friends said that the Big Apple Circus is animal-friendly. If that ever comes around, maybe we will try that (if he outgrows his fear of clowns).
After the circus, we headed over to my mother-in-law's house for a Mother's Day cookout.
Here's a picture of me and my precious boy on Mother's Day. That shirt he's wearing my friend Sarah gave him for his 1st birthday! I can't believe he can still wear clothes he's been wearing since the summer!
Our little family:)
Marino and Grammy Deb

Evan's family - Marino, Evan, Rianne (Aunt RiRi), Grammy Deb, Richelle (Aunt Chelle)

Sammy, Ronnie and Krissy - love them! I also love how close all the kids in Evan's family are...I hope Marino has lots and lots of cousins that are like siblings to him!