Monday, February 27, 2012

Aren, a.k.a. "Tom Thumb"

Aren had his 9 month check up last week.  Some of you may recall a couple of weeks back I posted what he weighed when I put him onto the baby scales at Alex's 4 year check up.  He was 12lb 3oz then and, as of last Tuesday, he was 11lb 15oz.  He was 25.5 in long.

To figure out why he wasn't gaining weight (in fact, losing it) we ended up drawing more blood.  The doctor wanted to run a few of the tests that we ran a couple of months back again plus a few new ones.  We learned that he has low protein, iron and vitamin D.  There were some other numbers that weren't in the normal range but these are the three we're working on.  We've got some Vitamin D drops and an Iron supplement, too. 

In addition to running the blood tests our doc wanted us to do a sweat test.  That was to check for Cystic Fibrosis.  It seems that children with CF, while they don't sweat more than anyone else, they do excrete more salt than others when they do sweat. 

Friday morning we dropped Ajay off at school, took Alex over to play at my sister's house, then Aren and I went to one of the hospitals in town.  The guy working with us cleansed Aren's left arm with alcohol, then water, then put two gauze pads soaked with a solution onto his arm.  He then took two little metal bands and placed them on the gauze pads.  He was hooked up to a box and there was a slight charge administered to stimulate his sweat glands.  We sat there for five minutes while the charge ran and I had to keep Aren's arm extended so the gauze pads didn't touch each other.  

When the 5 minutes were up the guy took the metal bands and gauze pads off.  He then took a special round pad and placed it on Aren's forearm.  He took some special tape and taped the round pad into place in such a way that any sweat that came out could only go into that pad.  Once the left arm was finished the same thing was done to his right arm.  The guy then left and Aren and I had a little nursing session where I covered him with a blanket and tried to keep him hot enough to sweat. 

After 30 minutes our guy returned and collected the little circlular pads.  One was dripping with sweat, the other one didn't look like it had that much - it was damp, but not dripping.  The guy told us we would know the results later in the day.  After doing some research I knew that we wanted Aren's numbers to be 39 or below.  When we got the call that afternoon we learned that one arm's reading was a 10, one was 9.  Whew!!  Not anywhere near the maximum number so we can rest easy knowing that Aren does not have Cystic Fibrosis!

So, smallness aside, Aren is doing great.  He finds the army crawl to be quite sufficient at getting him around so doesn't feel the need to "technically" crawl.  He is pulling himself up on low objects, which means more bumps and bruises.  (The measuring cup was what he was after since that was his toy for the moment.)

He likes to look at the cat.  If she's in a tolorant mood she doesn't even mind him experimenting with her fur.  But, as he found out earlier this morning, she isn't always in a giving mood. 

He loves to eat.  It took him awhile to figure out how to eat from a spoon but once he did he discovered he really digs food.   We still grind up or puree some foods but we're also letting him feed himself.  Bananas are slippery and so hard to get ahold of so he lets me feed him those chunks.

A few of his favorites:  bananas blended with plain yogurt, pancakes smothered in coconut oil, and an egg omelette, cooked in coconut oil. 

I just finished a hat for him.  He doesn't like it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crochet Swap, part 2

Last week (I guess it was more like two weeks ago) I showed you the projects I made up to send to my swap partner.  Here are the goodies that were sent to me:

A headband - which will be perfect for St. Patty's Day!

A little bag.

A big bag.

And this fun and funky scarf!
I also thought that while we're on the subject of crocheting I would share my latest obsession with you.  Tunisian Crochet.  I love it!  It is so super easy but has more of a knit look.  There are different stitches so there are many different looks.  I'm still learning, of course, but I love that YouTube is making it so easy for me to figure out. 

When I first started practicing, all I had was a regular crochet hook.  This is fine for small projects but I went out and bought myself a tunisian crochet hook.  (Tunisian crochet is also known as the afghan stitch.)  And for the life of me I cannot find a picture of it online, so I'll have to take a picture of it myself.  Hmph!

In the meantime, here are my prcactice stitches:

The bottom section - Tunisian Simple Stitch.  The middle section - Tunisian Purl Stitch.  The top section - Tunisian Knit Stitch.

The next three sections are very pretty stitches!  I love all of them.  The 4th section - Gobelin Stitch.  The 5th section - Honeycomb Stitch.  The 6th - Rib Stitch.

 These are horrible pictures and don't do justice to what the stitches really look like.  I'd like to get some better pictures.  So here's what I'll do.   I'll find some space on one of the cameras and I'll take a picture of the Tunisian Crochet Hook and some better shots of the stitches so you can see how pretty they really are.  Deal?  Deal.

Saturday, February 18, 2012 Mom

I took the plunge today.  I went ahead and cut the boys' hair. 

I've tried this one other time awhile back and only did a very small amount.  Just a small trim.  Enough to get us between "real" haircuts.  But we just had the boys hair cut at a salon at the beginning of January and as you will see in the "before" shot they were clearly ready for another cut long before today.  But we don't want to fork over $16- $20 a month just to keep the boys decent looking. 

At the Super Bowl party we went to a few weeks back, another party-goer described how he cuts his boys hair.  He explained how he uses his one hand as a guide while the scissor hand does the work, then he comes in w/ the clippers and buzzes the back.  We didn't use the clippers but I am hoping to find the charger for Biju's beard trimmer so I can clean up their sideburns and neck. 

I'm proud to say that Alex's turned out quite nice.  I'm embarassed to say Ajay's .... did not.  It isn't horrible but this was definitely a learning experience.  I should've known better than to keep cutting.  When we go to have his hair cut, we ask them to leave it just a tad long so it lays nicely.  They do.  Then Biju and I think "hmm, still looks too long" so they trim it a bit more.  And that's when it all goes south. 

There is a specific length that you cannot cut past with Ajay's hair.  Once you go past that length, the hair starts standing out.  Biju says as a child he was sometimes called "porcupine" because of the way his hair stood out after a cut.  It seems as though his firstborn got some of that same hair trait. 

Oh well.  It'll grow back.  Right? 


Alex making some sort of face, Ajay holding onto the (uncharged) beard trimmer.

They can't wait for summer - they've requested mohawks!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Recipe Wednesday - Steel Cut Oats

I almost named this "Apple Crisp...Breakfast Style" - this is deeeelish :)

I've been reading about how good Steel Cut Oats are for a couple of years now but I have just never bit the bullet and tried them.  Finally, I was chatting with my friend, Angie, a couple of weeks ago and she mentioned that now that she's tried them, she'll never go back.  Fine.  If they really are that good it's time to take the plunge. 

I went to a local health food store and found some in the bulk bins.  I bought a half of a pound - just enough to try out.  Funny enough, I went down another aisle and found steel cut oats, prepackaged, in a one pound bag for about $1.40 MORE than the price I paid out of the bulk bins.  I think we need to explore the bulk bins a bit more and see what else we can buy from there in the future!

I found some info online about how it is best to soak your oats (and all grains, actually) overnight (or up to 24 hours) for best digestibility.  After looking over a few different methods and recipes, this is what I came up with. 

(You can do some research about phytic acid if you like - I saw something out there about oats not being able to break down the phytic acid on their own but if you throw in some whole wheat flour, that'll help do the trick.  I haven't done enough research to really know what phytic acid is and why we don't want it but I'm adding that to my "To Do" list.  And here is a great place to start, it seems.)

On to the recipe....

1c. lukewarm water
2T. of my homemade yogurt (you can use yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, kefir, or whey here, just some sort of acid)
1c. steel cut oats
Whole Wheat Flour - maybe a Tbs, probably a bit less.

I mixed it together Sat. afternoon in a Pyrex dish and let it sit on my counter top w/ a Corelle plate serving as a lid.  Sunday morning I made up the rest. 

*I peeled and cut up some apples and boiled them.  Half of these I pureed for Aren, the rest I used in the oats.  I then used the apple-boiling water to cook the oats.  This worked out okay but next time I make it I will try it with regular (filtered) water.

I boiled:
1c. water (from boiling the apples) (didn't take long to come to a boil since I had just made up the apples)
dash of salt

Then I added in...

The rest of the chunked/boiled apples
The oats w/ their soaking liquid

....and put a lid on it and let it simmer for 5-10 min.

After the oats were done cooking I added in:

A dash or two of cinnamon
A dash of nutmeg
A teaspoon or so of butter (next time I'll try coconut oil - prob. a Tbs. or so.  It is so tasty and healthy for you)
Honey (I didn't measure, just squirted it in) (You can use brown sugar if you prefer.)

Stir it up and serve it up. 

It tasted like Apple Crisp for breakfast.

Biju and I loved it.  Alex and Ajay didn't.  Ajay barely tasted it, went into hysterics and went to spit it out into the trash.  Alex at least tried - thought he liked it then changed his mind.  He asked for raisins, and  then I even put a bit of brown sugar in for him.  He still didn't want it.  It might have been the texture, as these are chewier than rolled oats.  So I made up our regular "quick oats" for them since I knew they would eat those.  Once the "quick oats" are gone I'll switch the boys over to rolled oats - a bit healthier for you but still more "normal" for them.  But as for me and Biju, we'll make the switch to steel cut.  So handy to make up a batch and have leftovers for breakfast for a few days.

While looking up steel cut oats I saw that people were using them in savory dishes!  I'd actually love to try the oats that way.  If I find a yummy recipe, I'll be sure to share!  (Oh, and if YOU have a great way to make up oats, please, leave the recipe in the comments section.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pumpkins ... hopefully

I'm hoping for pumpkins next fall.  It's not that I'm actually planting pumpkin seeds come springtime in order to grow them, I'm just hoping they show up.  Here's why.

Last summer Mom ended up with a yard full of pumpkins.  The previous fall she had pumpkins on her porch and when they started to look shrunken and what not, she didn't throw them away.  Instead, someone kicked them off the porch and they became part of the earth again.  Nature - leaves, snow, rain, etc - did its part and *presto* she ended up with pumpkin plants growing. 

Back in October the boys got a couple of pumpkins when we went to a pumpkin patch.  They decorated them and we put them on our porch.  When they started to look shrunken and what not we dumped them in our side-yard.  I took some leaves and covered up the pumpkins so animals wouldn't come and eat them.  I'm hoping they're becoming part of the earth again and I'm hoping leaves, snow, rain, etc will all work together and we'll *presto* end up with pumpkin plants this spring/summer and nice fat, orange pumpkins to decorate and cook up in the fall. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Crochet Swap Projects

I recently particpated in a crochet swap.  We were randomly assigned partners and then we were to crochet them something(s) to do with Spring, Valentine's Day or St. Patrick's Day.  The woman for whom I crocheted the goodies requested Valentine items, preferably in pink and/or purple.  I found out she loves to read so I made up this quick and cute little bookmark:

After that, I didn't know what to make up.  I thought I wanted to make up a picture frame of sorts and found this fun circular project.  I actually turned it into a wall/door hanging.  I had an old bracelet I never wore and it had a charm on it that I figured would look nice.  The only part I'm not happy with is that the charm ended up a little off center.  I have a few more  bracelets with different charms and I hope to make more - perhaps my own Valentine hanging, a St. Paddy's Day hanging, Easter, etc, etc. 

In case you're wondering, as I know you all are, this is what is currently hanging on my door:

And for the final project, I ended up doing something that my mom usually makes up for holidays and baby showers.  At first I thought I might do a scarf, or a cowl, or something else that I just didn't get excited about.  Then I remembered these customizable hangings and actually got excited to make it.  I called Mom to ask for the pattern but she said it was in her head and we were never able to find a good time for her to talk me through it over the phone.  I ended up getting a few quick hints from her and then I studied over a Thanksgiving hanging I had to figure out the details.  It worked up so quick and I enjoyed finding things to attach to it.   I originally wanted to put the flower on top but when I decided to use the frame (with doves on it) I figured that should go at the top, what with the weight of the frame. 

I had fun making these and I can't wait to hear what my recipient thinks of everything.  I am also looking forward to getting my goodies in the mail! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Playtime + Stats

Last week, when the weather was warmer, Alex played outside for awhile.  Aren discovered where his brother had gone to and watched him play.  This is actually a favorite spot of Aren's. 

Then he heard the camera shutter clicking and turned around to see me on the floor.  He had to come see me and find out what the big black thing was that I was holding.
Getting closer....and closer....
I kept scooting back but he just kept a'comin'.

For this next shot - I saw Alex helping Aren play with this musical caterpillar.  I went to get the camera but by the time I got back, it was too late.  Aren had seen me and then saw that I disappeared and he got mad. 

Oh, and while I'm here, Alex had his 4 year check up today.  He gained over 8lbs and grew 4 inches since his 3rd birthday.  Doc was thrilled and asked for more of the same stats next year.  He loves Alex's energy and strength and always tells us what a great athlete he will be.  The downside to today's appointment was that he needed a couple of vaccinations.  Boy, was Alex mad about that!  He was also up late because of a Super Bowl party we went to, so tired guy + shots = Grumplestiltskin.  I think somebody might be getting a nap today!

While we were waiting for doc to come in I got the tiny one nekkid and put him on the baby scales.  He's still 12lb 3oz, which means he hasn't gained an ounce in the last month despite nursing all day, eating two solid foods a day and waking up to nurse 2-3x every night.  BUT, he is still on track with all of his other developments, seems to be growing taller and the doc isn't too worried so we'll just not worry, either.  We'll just keep feeding him whenever he wants fed so we can keep up with his high metabolism.  We go in for his 9mo. check up in a couple of weeks - I told doc we'd try to put at least one more ounce on him before then.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Birthday Celebration

Alex turned the big F-O-U-R yesterday so we did a few things over the weekend to celebrate.

First off, Alex and I went on a little date Friday night.  Biju won two tickets to Disney Live through a contest at work - and he even got a parking pass with it.  We were able to park right outside the entrance doors - a luxury that was completely lost on an almost 4 year old but something I truly appreciated.  Alex's face lit up when he saw Goofy come on stage.  Then came Donald, Minnie, and with great fanfare, Mickey.  There were three shows presented in abreviated form - Snow White, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.  With those titles the audience was mostly made up of little girls all dressed up in their princess costumes.  Alex let me know on the way home that he didn't like all of the girl costumes. 

On Saturday evening we went to my sister's house and met up with  my parents and niece.  Sis and her hubby were going on a date so we fed the kids pizza and let them play the Wii.  After we got her kids down to bed I left my parents at Shelly's place and I took Jenna and my boys back home for bed.  As we left we reminded the boys that they would be seeing the girls again when they came over to our place on Sunday to have birthday cake!

Last week as Mom was preparing to come down to visit she asked what Alex wanted/needed for his birthday.  I asked him and he told me "cupcakes."  I then asked what he wanted for a present and he thought for a moment and replied "a square."  I told Mom what he had said and we bought fell into a fit of giggles.  Saturday evening after dinner I asked Alex to tell Nana about what we did on Friday night.  We asked him a few questions about the show and Mom asked "What did the characters do?" and Alex answered "They showed up."  How literal.  Again, we giggled until tears came.  This kid is certainly funny, although it isn't always on purpose.

Sunday was the big celebration.  We had waffles for breakfast (partly because I needed a waffle for part of the cake) then headed to church.  We then all went out to have Chinese for lunch - Alex enjoys a good Chinese buffet!  Back at the house Mom and Shelly helped me to make up Alex's cupcakes and cake while Dad watched something on Netflix, the kids played outside and Biju took a nap with Aren.

Amazing - playing outside without jackets in January!
We went with a Perry the Platypus cake.  Shelly did the decorating of the cake while Mom and I worked on the cupcakes. 

There is Perry the cake and Perry in cupcake form.  I also did a Perry in Twinkie form.   It was a practice - I was going to make them for Alex to take to his class on Tuesday night.  Unfortunately, his teacher broke her toes over the weekend and his class got cancelled. 

The little Perries have "circus peanuts" smashed and cut into "beaks" and the Twinkie Perry has an Orange Cream Wafer cookie (dont' know the real name) cut in half as his tail.

We sang to Alex (the kids sang to him 4 or 5 times, actually) and let him open his gifts.  Mom and Dad really did get him a "square" used in construction work!  It is a bright orange plastic thing that he will be able to use when drawing.  Fun!  He got a few other things he's been enjoying, as well.

Taking a breath to blow out the candle.

Alex told me he wanted a cake smashed in his face.  I couldn't bring myself to smash his cupcake into his face but I did put a blob of frosting on a plate and smash it.  He loved it!

Thrilled to get a nerf gun similar to Ajay's.  However, Ajay seems to think it was HIS birthday present and has a hard time letting Alex play.

Yesterday was his actual birthday.  Ajay was up at 6:30, a half hour early, climbing into my bed and telling me how excited he was to tell Alex happy birthday!  We had breakfast and I blew up a balloon that said "Happy Birthday."  He carried the balloon through the halls of Ajay's school and got a big grin whenever anyone asked "Is it your birthday?"

After we dropped Ajay off I "splurged" and got Alex his favorite breakfast - the dollar sausage and biscuit from Burger King.   We also spent some time talking on the phone to Amachee and Echachan in India.  In the evening we had dinner at home, let him open another gift (a mug with his name on it) and then went out for ice cream.  Yum yum!  (He got raspberry ice cream with gummy bears, in case you were wondering.  And Ajay got red velvet ice cream with white chocolate chips.)

Hard to believe he's already a 4 year old!