Words, Words, Words

Morgan is just shy of 18 months old, and she’s picking up new words every day. So far, identifiable words include:

  • Mama
  • Dada
  • D’in (Dillon)
  • Pupa (puppy)
  • Daw (dog)
  • Baba (bottle)
  • Baby
  • Book
  • Min (Minnie Mouse)
  • Mow (more)
  • Door
  • Deedee (Dillon’s blanket)
  • Bow (bowl)
  • Ear
  • Mouth
  • Hair
  • Eye (eye)
  • I (ice)
  • Nose
  • No
  • Nurz (nurse)
  • Bird
  • Bear
  • Hi
  • Bye
  • Tickle

Best School Ever

Sweet Boy is in kindergarten!

It doesn’t seem like a huge change to me. He’s been at the same school for the past two years doing full-day preschool with before- and after-care, so he’s felt like a school-kid for quite a while now.

But this year does mean a new teacher, a new classroom, and a new level of learning — full-day kindergarten just became mandatory this year, so I guess this is the “real thing.”

The afternoon before classes began, we dropped by the school to check out his room, meet the teacher and otherwise prep for a new year. And I got yet another reason to brag about the amazing learning environment we enjoy in the Pacific University Early Learning Community.

First, we were greeted by his teacher: This is her first full-time teaching position, though she ran the kinder class last year after the primary teacher went on maternity leave. I’d never met her, and she’d only interacted with Sweet Boy in passing.

Still, she greeted him on sight, by name.

She introduced herself to me and my husband, but her focus was on her student.

“I heard you really like numbers and you’re really good at math,” she said.

She knew our son’s interests and abilities already. The teachers had collaborated before school began, and she’d already learned a little about her students.

“Yeah,” he said. “I heard we’re going to learn to read this year. I don’t like that so much.”

(I’m not thrilled with this attitude, but not surprised. As much as he likes writing, reading takes work and he’s resisted trying.)

“Oh, but did you know that you can use numbers to read?” the teacher asked.

“What?!” His mind was blown.

And the conversation continued a bit, as she set him up to be more excited about the coming year.

So let’s recap:

  • First-time teacher.
  • Incredibly decorated/prepared classroom.
  • Already knows her students on sight, by name.
  • Has collaborated with previous teachers to learn about students’ strengths and interests.
  • Before classes begin, has strategies in place to differentiate learning for those students.

I am in awe.

Add that to everything else we love about the ELC:

  • Incredibly caring staff.
  • Small class sizes and high adult-to-student ratio.
  • Play-based learning.
  • Natural materials.
  • Outside time every day.
  • Respect for children’s natural development (including rough-housing, etc.)

I never intended to seek out private education for my children; I’ve always believed in public education. But as we transitioned from preschool to kindergarten, we knew we wanted to stay at the ELC because of the amazing environment and people. And that decision is reinforced by experiences like this. Every. Single. Day.

Sleeping Through Second Pregnancy

Hahahahaha! You’re pregnant, and you have a child at home? And you think you’re going to sleep? Again, I say, ha!

See, just like the first time around, this pregnancy is probably causing all sorts of not-so-fun midnight “experiences.” Heartburn and indigestion, the constant need to pee, shriek-inducing charley horses, tingly limbs, and crazy dreams are just a few of my favorites. I think it’s nature’s very confused way of preparing you for the sleeplessness that comes with a newborn (though I would argue that a few months of really good sleep would be better preparation).

If, like me, you’ve also probably got a little one at home with his own sleep issues, you’re really in for a treat. Sure, we’d love to think that somewhere in their first year of life our children learn to “sleep through the night,” but that’s not really true. There are calls for water, middle of the night accidents, nightmares and the untimely energy that seems to come standard with a preschool-aged body.

Some of you might be thinking, “That’s what your husband is for,” and you’d be right. Mine definitely does his share of midnight duties. But I have yet to master the trick of sleeping through the nighttime crisis. It’s not that I don’t trust my husband to handle it — I really do — but my body will not drift off to dreamland while my kiddo is crying in another room.

And so, we get last night:

7:40 p.m. Started bedtime routine. We read stories in the big bed, went potty, put on jammies, ate vitamins, brushed teeth, put all the “friends” to bed, took of Monster Baby’s jammies (for reasons that only a 4-year-old can understand), rocked, and read some more.

8:45 p.m. Sweet Boy is in his own bed, clutching Monster Baby and Deedee (his beloved tag blanket), almost asleep. The fact that he doesn’t want his star nightlight on is a good sign. Perhaps he’ll pass out soon. Husband and I creep downstairs.

10:30 p.m. Grown-up bedtime. We were talking a bit too much on the way upstairs and heard a moan from Sweet Boy’s room, but everything stayed still. Phew. Kiss goodnight, and I put in my earplugs (because Darling Husband’s snoring is a whole different issue).

1:15 a.m. I have to pee. Then drink more water. I know this is a vicious cycle, but I can’t help it. I head back to bed and realize baby is awake and kicking me in the ribs. This will last a while.

2 a.m. Sweet Boy marches into our bedroom demanding jammies for Monster Baby. The same jammies he wanted to take off the doll at bedtime. I refuse. Sure, it would have been easier to give in, but I have principles, dang it. Daddy gets up to put screaming boy back to bed. I unwillingly listen and force myself not to intervene when I hear, “I just want my mommy!”

2:20 a.m. Daddy’s back and Boy is quiet. Re-insert earplugs, try to sleep.

2:45 a.m. Kick Darling Husband repeatedly to make him turnover and drop the snore-decibel level a bit. Baby turns over a few times, too.

3 a.m. Sweet Boy is back. He doesn’t want to be alone. “I want to be with someone I love.” This is his favorite line, because he knows it breaks my heart. I pick him up, take him back to his room, and we rock until he’s calmer.

3:30 a.m. Pee again.

5:30 a.m. Sweet Boy has wet the bed. He’s 4, but this is still a periodic issue. This time is a big accident. Monster Baby and Deedee are both soaked. Daddy and I both get up — he changes sheets and jammies while I start the laundry, pee (again) and try to assure Sweet Boy that his beloveds will be okay in the washing machine. He climbs into our bed and wants to cuddle.

5:45 a.m. Daddy is snoring. Sweet Boy is “cuddling” by laying on half my body and squirming. When I tell him to calm down, he whispers, “Is this why you put me in my own bed.” Yes, yes it is. Baby Girl is kicking Sweet Boy’s back through my tummy.

6:40 a.m. Sweet Boy is done “cuddling.” He moves to the center of the bed and suddenly is still.

6:44 a.m. Soft, steady breathing from my left indicates Sweet Boy is finally asleep.

6:45 a.m. Alarm goes off. Time for Mommy to get up. Oh well, I had to pee anyway.

8 a.m. Wake the boys to get ready for school.

8:15 a.m. I’m at work, ready for a full day, followed by one of Sweet Boy’s friends’ birthday parties. Pregnant or not, I crack open the first shot of caffeine. Happy Friday!

DIY Family Recipe Towel

If you’ve never tasted aebleskiver, you’re missing out more than I can say.

A traditional Danish dish served around the holidays, these little buttermilk pancake balls are dipped in butter and sugar, then enjoyed until your stomach is ready to burst. You might even add in some really good sausage, served, of course, with homemade applesauce, to round out your meal — but in my opinion, that’s always been optional.

Is that my helping?

The aebleskiver tradition in my family comes from my maternal grandmother’s family. Both her parents were first-generation Americans whose own parents immigrated from Denmark in the late 1800s. We, sadly, have lost the language and probably a whole lot of our heritage, but aebleskiver is a piece that remains.

Many years ago, there was a picture in our small town newspaper of me, my mother, my grandmother and my great-grandmother making aebleskiver together. My mom’s now-laminated recipe was typed by my great-grandmother and contains a couple of hand-written notes, and the distinctive cast-iron pans used to make the breakfast treats are special gifts among my cousins.

Megleskiver — Sister Meghann whips up a batch of batter for a New Year's morning feast.
Megleskiver — Sister Meghann whips up a batch of batter for a New Year’s morning feast.
Mom's got her hands full with two aebleskiver pans.
Mom’s got her hands full with two aebleskiver pans.

For Christmas this year, I decided to capitalize on a bit of the tradition by making hand-stamped towels featuring the recipe. (My first idea had been to have custom fabric made out of a picture of the original recipe, but since the recipe card isn’t handwritten, I didn’t think it would be that cool.)

I started by designing a simple version of the recipe in Illustrator.

Then, I sent it off to this company to have a stencil created. (In retrospect, I should have had a stamp made instead — it would have held up longer and bled less — but a stencil is what came to mind when I was planning.)

While waiting for the stencil to arrive in the mail, I searched for some simple flour-sack towels. It took a bit of research to find what I had in mind, but I ended up with some from Fred Meyer. (Had I more time and money, I may have gone for higher-quality fabric and made them myself, but you have to set boundaries somewhere.)

Flour sack towels
Flour sack towels

I pre-washed and then ironed the towels, then spent a couple of evenings stenciling the recipe onto each towel with fabric paint.

Fabric paint
Fabric paint
Aebleskiver stencil
Aebleskiver stencil

Like I said, the stencil did start to bleed, but I figured no one would be using their towel as the actual recipe. It’s decorative!

Then had to dry for three days for the paint to set (bye-bye dining room table), but then they were ready for another wash.

A full table of drying towels
A full table of drying towels

I found from my first ironing experience that these towels would never be crisp, so I didn’t both with a second attempt. I just folded them as best I could and wrapped each pair with some baker’s twine and a gift tag.

I didn’t bother with wrapping, either. I just handed them all out simultaneously at our family Christmas gathering. Definitely a big hit!

Benefit of the Doubt

Lately, Sweet Boy has been saying “fine” — a lot. As in, “Eat your breakfast.” “Fine.” “Get dressed, please.” “Fine.”

Out of his mouth, the single syllable alternately drips with venom or whistles out on a breath of exasperation.

I joke that this is a preview of his 15-year-old self … but in reality, I had been giving him the benefit of the doubt. I figured that he had picked up the word and tone from a friend or TV (or, OK, maybe a parent), but that he really thought it was just another way of saying “OK” or “yes.”

Foolish, foolish Mommy.

Daddy finally got a little tired of the early adolescent attitude and told Sweet Boy that “fine” wasn’t really a nice answer.

“Well,” Sweet Boy explained logically, “‘fine’ is just a word for when you don’t really want to do what your parents want.”


Vocabulary and self-expression is well-developed. Attitude, um, advanced.

My Gestational Diabetes Meal Plan

I may have eaten out more in the past two weeks than the last year combined, but for the most part, I’m a homebody when it comes to mealtime. Planning and preparing my own food has been key in maintaining a healthy gestational diabetes diet. A friend recently asked for a peek at what my diet looks like, so I thought I’d share a few of my go-to items for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks with their estimated carbohydrate totals. These are some of my favorites, based both on my personal tastes and what I’ve learned works for my body. Everyone’s different, though, so learning what works for you may take some trial and error. (Talk to your doctor or dietician, too, about your carb goals for each meal — this is what was recommended for me but may not be what’s right for you!)


Fruit is, unfortunately, a morning no-no for me — and I can’t tell you how much I’m craving gallons of orange juice after the baby is born. In the meantime, breakfast is a high-protein affair.

Option 1:

  • One slice of whole wheat toast (11 grams) with natural peanut butter (3 grams)
  • One container light Yoplait yogurt, any flavor (16 grams)

Option 2:

  • Egg sandwich: 1-2 eggs, scrambled or pre-baked as scrambled egg “muffins” (2 carbs), 1 slice of whole wheat toast (11 grams), 1 slice cheddar cheese (0 gram), 1 tablespoon ketchup (4 grams)
  • ½ cup skim milk (11 grams)


I pack a couple of snack options to take to work and choose whichever I’m in the mood for at my morning snack time. I try to eat the snack right after my post-breakfast blood sugar test, whether I’m super hungry or not, so that I don’t give into office-snack temptation (those M&Ms!).

Option 1:

  • String cheese (0 grams)
  • Satsuma orange (11 grams)

Option 2:

  • Apple (19 grams)
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter (6 grams)

Option 3:

  • Light Yoplait yogurt (16 grams)

Option 4:

  • 2 oz dry roasted peanuts (12 carbs)
  • String cheese


My blood sugar tends to peak after lunch, so it’s important for me to try to plan my meals ahead of time instead of grabbing leftovers or takeout. Lunch meat is somewhat frowned upon for pregnant women, so I have been roasting a turkey breast in the oven every week or so to make just-like-the-day-after-Thanksgiving sandwiches. They’re a big hit with Hubby, too.

Option 1:

  • 2 cups green salad with ranch dressing (4 grams)
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese (1 gram)
  • ½ cup grapes (15 grams)
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast with peanut butter (14 grams)

Option 2:

  • Roast turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo (24 grams)
  • Satsuma orange or other fruit (11-19 grams)


A different option from the morning snack list. Again, I try to eat my snack shortly after my after-lunch blood sugar test, so that I don’t get the munchies and face the temptation of less healthy snacks.


Really, if I watch my portion sizes, just about anything goes for dinner. Carbs, though, definitely need to be the side dish, not the entree. I’ve found I can have a bit of couscous or rice alongside a heartier meal. My body, however, doesn’t seem to process pasta well (even the whole wheat version), so I’ve found it very inefficient as a meal or side. We’re big on burritos, carnitas and quesadillas in my home, but tortillas also spike my blood sugar, despite their relatively acceptable carb content. If dinner has a Mexican theme, I’ll have one tortilla at most or just skip it and put the filling on a salad.

Option 1:

  • 1 baked or grilled chicken breast (0 carbs) or fish (2 carbs)
  • Steamed broccoli (7 carbs)
  • ¼ cup whole wheat couscous (33 carbs)

Option 2:

  • Tuna melt on whole wheat bread (23 grams)
  • ½ cup tomato soup (17 grams)

Option 3:

  • Beef roast (0 grams) with ¼ red potato (8 grams) and baby carrots (3 grams)
  • ½ cup peas (10 grams)
  • 4 Ak-Mak crackers (16 grams) with spreadable Laughing Cow cheese (1 gram)

Option 4:

  • Homemade chicken soup with gnocchi (29-40 grams)
  • Green salad (4 grams)


This tends to be where I splurge, depending on how much I’ve eaten throughout the day. For me, nighttime is the best time for a sweet snack, like a bit of ice cream or even a cookie (I’m really luck that I can handle a modest amount of processed sugar). However, it’s important to get something a little healthier in before bed, too, because if your sugar drops during the night, you’re body will over-compensate, likely reading to a high fasting level in the morning.

Option 1:

  • Anything from the morning/afternoon snack list

Option 2:

  • 1 slice whole wheat toast with peanut butter and/or homemade jam (14-30 grams)

Option 3:

  • ¼ pkg sugar-free pudding made with skim milk (16 grams) with or without 6 Nilla Wafers (18 grams)

Option 4:

  • 8 oz homemade smoothie with frozen berries, Greek yogurt, banana, skim milk (33 grams)
    This recipe makes more than 8 oz. That’s important, because a whole banana in 8 oz of smoothie would be way too many carbs!

Option 5:

  • ½ cup ice cream (19 grams) with or without diet rootbeer (0 grams)

Option 6:

  • 2 oz (before popping) air-popped popcorn (18 grams)

5 Tips for Eating Out with Gestational Diabetes

When I was a child, the Old Spaghetti Factory in Portland was my favorite birthday party location. Only now do I realize what a pain this must have been for my family. Located on the banks of the Willamette River, the highly popular restaurant features a ideal view of the Portland Christmas Ships Parade and does not take reservations. Sure, I remember the long waits as a kid, but now that I have a child myself, I understand that the waits had to have been a struggle with my sister and I, and often our cousins as well.

But, that’s where I always wanted to go for my week-before-Christmas birthday, so that’s where we went.

When my husband, son and I returned to Oregon a couple years ago, we reinstated the tradition. We time it to make sure we see the ships (which wasn’t a part of the childhood practice), and it becomes a double-celebration: pre-Christmas and birthday.

So I wasn’t about to let gestational diabetes get in the way this year — even if restaurants tend to be a struggle for the strict diet and the words “spaghetti factory” don’t exactly go hand-in-hand with low-carb fare.

I took the same approach I now do for any evening out, and it worked, for the most part (I was just a little high on my glucose reading two hours after the meal, and I learned that my body has become a bit unaccustomed to the richness of restaurant Italian food, but we had a great time).

Here are a few tips that I have found successful for eating out with gestational diabetes:

Consider Chains

As wonderful as local, independent restaurants can be, chain restaurants tend to be required to provide nutritional information about their food. Many even post the nutrition guide online for easy review prior to dinner or right at the table.

My favorite so far is Red Robin, whose nutrition guide isn’t a PDF document but a complete mobile app. In addition to finding the details on standard menu offerings, you can customize each item to your own specifications and review how your changes affect the nutrition. There’s a “bunless” option right on the menu, so the staff doesn’t look at you like you’re crazy for asking for a messy burger sans bread.

That said, I have the pleasure of living in the Portland area, known for its foodies, so many local restaurants also are highly accommodating of dietary needs. One pub in my hometown not only immediately accommodated the “bunless” option, but the waitress immediately knew to ask if I’d like to omit croutons on my salad and other sources of carbs in the meal.

Plan Ahead

I don’t particularly enjoy ordering like Meg Ryan’s character from When Harry Met Sally, so I try to look at menus well before we go out to decide just what I want to eat. This has a couple of benefits: One, I don’t take hours studying the menu at the table while everyone else is uber-hungry, and two, I don’t get tempted by treats at the last minute. If I plan what I’m going to eat a couple days ahead of time, I can enjoy the anticipation of a meal I don’t have to cook instead of getting caught up in wishing for what I can’t have.

Ask for a Box

At the Old Spaghetti Factory, there were no entrees on the menu that fell within my carb guidelines, but I chose a lower-carb option and planned to eat only half. I asked for my go-box right at the beginning of the meal and split the portion in half before I ever took a bite. That way, I couldn’t get carried away.

Plus, after several months of eating on a gestational diabetes meal plan, I’ve discovered my stomach just can’t handle as much food in a single sitting. A restaurant portion (which we all know is absurdly large) is way too much food. In fact, I wasn’t feeling so hot after eating half.

Watch the Little Bits

I eat salad at almost every meal these days, but restaurant salads can come with extra junk. Salad dressings aren’t usually too bad, in terms of carbs (and at this point, I’ve given up worrying too much about fat or calories, as I’m actually still losing weight inadvertently), but they can come with surprises. I always order my dressing on the side and dip my bites in it instead of spreading it over the top of the salad. I also order without the croutons, or at least pick them out. It may not seem like much bread, but at the OSF, salad with croutons was 13 grams of carbs and 5 carbs without. Sides and freebies are also problematic. The bread — oh the bread — is just a no-no. That highly processed white dinner roll at the restaurant is far more carbs than you might imagine … closer to an entire meal than a side dish.


I’m lucky to have a husband who isn’t above letting me pick a bit off his plate. At Red Robin, I never get my own fries (don’t even look at the carbs … it will hurt to realize what you’ve been eating all these years), but I’m not above a bite or two from Hubby’s plate. Likewise, when dessert arrives, a single bite does usually hurt. And, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find that you’ve had plenty to eat without stuffing yourself sick.

Commercial-Free Kid

The first lesson came from Jack in the Box.

On an extremely rare trip through the drive-through, Sweet Boy noticed the clown-like figure on a poster and asked who he was. Soon, he was noticing the same face on car antennae in local parking lots.

My explanation was blunt and honest: Jack in the Box is a restaurant. They use a clown in their ads to make kids think the food is yummy and fun, but it’s really just junk food that we eat every once in a while.

Only 3, he actually grasped the concept immediately — and repeats it every time we see a Jack in the Box image.

My husband and I both have college degrees in communications, so we like to think we’re pretty media savvy.

You won’t catch us tuning into the nightly news to learn about the latest “danger” to our family. (“Why your child is likely to be sucked into a black hole. Tonight at 11!)

I’m not going to fall for the cultural assertion that my kids are unsafe every moment they’re out of my line of sight. (For more on this, see one of my favorite blogs over at FreeRangeKids.com.)

I’m quite likely to critically pick apart (on a good day) or scream at (bad day) any marketing ploy designed to play on my emotions as a parent. (In my world, choosy moms don’t choose sugar-laden peanut butter by Jif, and, Lysol, spraying chemicals over every square inch of your house is not “healthing.”)

Still, it can be difficult to pass on that same savvy to a small child.

We’re lucky to be raising a child in an age of DVRs, YouTube and cable TV. Sweet Boy almost never sees ads on TV. He doesn’t know what the newest “must-have” toys are. His opinion of high-culture children’s programming includes classic Donald Duck and Chip N Dale cartoons. I don’t think he knows that sugary breakfast cereals exist, much less that they are associated with fun-loving cartoon characters.

But still, it’s impossible to avoid the onslaught entirely.

Recently, Sweet Boy and I were shopping in the rarely visited snack aisle when he noticed fruit snacks at his eye level.

“Are those Scooby snacks? They have Scooby Doo on them!”

Actually, I explained, those are just normal fruit snacks, but that company put Scooby Doo on the box to trick kids into thinking they’re special.

“Oh,” he said, without a hint of disappointment. “Like that clown at that restaurant.”

Exactly, smart kid.

Um, I Forgot

This is not the post I planned to write today.

Unfortunately, there’s no way I can focus enough to write on the topic I had planned.

Baby Brain has me completely defeated this week.

This is a real thing. I’m not 100 percent certain what causes it (I’m not a medical professional, after all, and even if I were, I wouldn’t be able to stand by my expertise in this condition anyway). I think it has to do with blood flow being diverted from the brain, both to supply the baby and because she and my uterus are teaming up to squish my blood vessels. Regardless, I’m enjoying frequent head rushes and a complete inability to remember the simplest things.

A few (somewhat embarrassing) examples:

* A few days ago, I ran outside to start my car and let it warm up before work. I came back inside and spent the next five minutes desperately searching for my keys — the ones I’d just put in the ignition.

* Today, I headed to the building next door to my office for a meeting. I was in the elevator before I realized I’d left the cookies for the holiday exchange in my office, so I ran back to get them. When I returned, I got back in the elevator, only to go to the wrong floor. After walking back downstairs to the meeting, I dropped off my stuff and promptly remembered that I’d needed to use the restroom for the past 15 minutes. So, I did my business and again headed into the meeting — only to realize that my BeBand was bunched around my waist under my dress. Back to the restroom, back to the meeting. Yes, people did watch me do this to-and-fro dance a half-dozen times. Yes, I did feel like an idiot.

* With the end of the meeting came the end of the work day. As I gathered my belongings to head home and started thinking about my family’s dinner, it occurred to me that I planned to heat up a freezer meal tonight. Only the meal is still frozen solid, in the freezer, because I completely forgot to thaw it this morning.

I know my brain is trying to function. This morning, when I woke up, I had this extreme desire to go back to bed, not because I was tired, but because I had been in the middle of the dream. Though I couldn’t remember any details of the dream, I knew it wasn’t finished and I really, really wanted to go back and see it to the end. I’m pretty sure that was my subconscious trying to get my thoughts in order … and again failing.

I don’t know how I’m supposed to get through three more months of this blatant idiocy … but I guess it doesn’t matter too much. By the time it’s over, I’ll probably have forgotten it ever happened.

Wombat in the Fridge

A few days ago, I opened my refrigerator and found a plastic bag marked “wombat” on the middle shelf.

Now, I live in the United States, and even if wombat was a local creature, it’s probably not one I’d prepare for dinner.

No, this is just an example of my husband’s sense of humor: I had roasted a turkey breast and left it to him to carve. He cut it up and labeled it for the fridge.

Other recent discoveries: dodo in the deep freeze and a “cat food” recipe in the mobile app he’s designing.

It’s no secret to my friends and family that I tend to be a little too serious. Oh, I have a sense of humor, but it tends toward the sarcastic or satirical. Slapstick and bathroom humor have never struck my funny bone.

But my husband can make me laugh like no one else — with the silliest and most inane jokes and actions. He has an amazing gift for turning mundane activities into games and finding fun in the simplest moments. It’s a huge part of what makes him such a wonderful father (he wears his Silly Dad label with pride), and what makes him such a perfect balance for me.

Sure, there are moments when “fun dad” needs to get a little serious. Just as there are moments when I forget to laugh at the puns and antics.

But for reasons that I can’t even explain, wombat in the fridge will get me every time.