Sunday, October 19, 2014

Inside and Outside

Another weekend is in the books.  Carter has yet another cold, which was an unpleasant surprise when he woke up Saturday morning.  The weather was cool and rainy all day, and we spent most of the morning inside deciding how long of a trip we were going to make to NT to visit my parents.  We had a few things to accomplish this weekend and I wasn't sure how much of our chaos my dad would be up for since he still can't really participate in it for a couple months.  As much as I hate same-day trips up and down the Thruway, we decided just to make it a day trip.  It saved on packing and gave us flexibility for Sunday.  On the way out of town we stopped at Goodwill so I could scout out some things for Halloween (interesting, but ultimately didn't get anything), and then headed to Buffalo.

My parents keep talking about downsizing sometime soon and moving to Rochester--I am torn, since I'd love to have them here but I worry that if something ever happened to our jobs, we'd consider moving back to Buffalo--and my mom was investigating things in the attic, where most of our old, special toys live.  She had brought down a couple boxes, one with some classic old Fisher-Price toys that I remember spending a lot of quality time with, even though they were primarily John's.  Jacob loved checking them out...
The fire truck, plane, and Jeep (with sleeping bags) were so fun!
Carter took a liking to my personal favorite, the Little People camper.  It came complete with a toilet and sink, boat for the top, and a vehicle for the camper to sit on.  I remember playing with that a lot, and he spent a lot of time just pulling it around the house by its string...

There was also this little kitchen set that I'd forgotten about until a couple months ago when some internet thing did a list of toys all 80s kids owned.  This was one of them:
The burners got red when the knobs turned, the timer bell dinged, there was a pot, pan, pitcher, two place settings, and salt and pepper.  The green gingham tablecloth was actually a bag to store all of the pieces.
Being inside all day was tough for the kids, but the "new" toys helped.  Still, Carter in particular was all over the place.  He drove cars and liked to climb...
Proud but guilty face!
I brought home my old record player and all of my records in case Jacob thinks it's cool.  I still need to hook it up.  I think I practically learned to read with those records with books, and while he's got the iPad for that now, he might find it fun.  I also raided the box of little kid books and snagged all of the ones I have the fondest memories of.  I'm getting bored with Carter's bookshelf (Jacob kept some of the ones we read with him, like his Brady Brady series) so my old favorites will be fun.  Some of them are full of new words and lots of stuff for him to look at, and those couldn't come at a better time.  He's really starting to try some new words--"baby" was a new one this weekend--and I think the more he sees and hears things, the more he's going to pick up.

Sunday was dreary early in the day, and Carter's cold was bad enough that we stayed home from church.  No need to pass it on to the other kids in the family room during church.  I know one of us could have taken Jacob, but quite frankly I was not in the mood to explain to Jacob why he couldn't stay home too.  He's really argumentative right now and I knew that would be a major point of contention.  Sometimes I wonder if the amount of yelling that goes on to get out of the house on Sunday mornings negates the good we get out of going to church.  Some days it's just not good for anyone.  Anyway...the boys played Lego and Carter and I hung out and read some of the new books.  I snuck out to Wegmans during naptime and came back to an awake little boy that really wanted to go outside, runny nose and all!  Luckily the weather was decent by then, though still cold, so we headed out.  I actually snuck out for a couple minutes ahead of time with my camera.  The tree in our neighbor's yard that I can see from our kitchen is so pretty!

Since no one lives there right now, I headed over to snap a few closer shots of the tree. 

 
With that one tree in the background, our house looks extra pretty from this angle...

Carter's favorite toy right now is still the lawnmower, and every time he looks toward the front door, he says his version of "lawnmower", in hopes we can go out to play.  Yesterday he grabbed his jacket and put on a hat, then stood by the door and whined.  At least he got a lot of mowing time today!


I took Carter into the neighbor's yard to see if he wanted to play in the leaves, since we don't have enough in our yard (thank goodness...I had enough of that at our old house to last me forever).
He mowed through them but didn't really want to play :(

Little boy, BIG trees!
Eventually the big boys came out, too.  On a side note, Jacob's tooth is still hanging in there, though it is pretty loose!  The permanent tooth is growing in behind it already! 
The front left tooth is the loose one, loose enough to be slightly out of alignment.  You can see the new one right behind it!

The boys played lacrosse and Carter wanted to get in on the action...

Jacob switched to hockey after that and he liked that I caught him mid-shot!

I'm not ready for this colder weather, but the sun helps!  We've got one more shot to get to a pumpkin patch, so fingers crossed the weather is decent next weekend!

Friday, October 17, 2014

News & Notes, I Hate Halloween Edition

Tonight was frustrating.  I had to pick up the kids and thought it would be good to check Jacob's Halloween costume off the list.  We had picked one out online and went to the Halloween store to try it on and get it.  As a side note, that store makes me CRAZY.  It has gone way beyond Halloween "fun".  I mean, the oversexed costumes and overly creepy costumes are one thing, but all of those crazy decorations are just over the top.  They scared the crap out of Carter and I was actually offended by the zombie babies, for crying out loud. 

Anyway, the costume fit perfectly and as we were walking up to the register, I realized it was marked $10 higher than it was online.  Seriously?  The kids were driving me nuts and rather than deal with a meltdown if we didn't get it, I bought it--only to find out that tonight was the last night to return anything.  So...we came home and I jumped online and found that Party City had it for $10 cheaper.  I called, it was in stock, and I just had to hope that Craig got home from his golf tournament in time for me to return the darn thing.  We survived dinner, barely survived bedtime, and Craig came home in time for me to return the $30 one and buy the $20 one.  Thank God...because paying that much for a crappy piece of spandex was really getting to me.

Luckily, Carter's costume is taking care of itself.  He fits perfectly in the same mouse costume that I wore as a little girl, and that Jacob wore five years ago.  He's going to look absurdly cute.  I still need to figure out what I'm going to do.  My office seems to have a renewed interest in Halloween this year, so I'd really like to dress up, but my one idea seems challenging and I'm out of ideas after that.  I just need the time to run to a couple places and see how feasible my idea is.  Beyond that, we still need to get to a pumpkin patch, buy pumpkins, and do a Celiac refresher on Halloween candy.  Oh, and I still need to figure out the Celiac fix for Jacob's school party.  So much to do.

The boys have a really odd, really challenging relationship these days.  I liked it better when Jacob ignored Carter.  Now they have moments where they're almost really playing together, but then it all turns into one giant wrestling match where someone gets hurt.  Carter keeps after Jacob, thinking they're playing, and Jacob can't seem to pull himself out of it when it's getting too intense.  Carter can't understand that it's going too far, or that he might get hurt.  And Jacob doesn't really care if Carter gets hurt...and if Jacob gets hurt, he gets angry.  It's just a bad combo.  I like that they're able to interact, that they can laugh at each other now, and that Jacob is starting to see the light...but they both need to survive this stage before I'm going to be celebrating!

Carter is still making me absolutely nuts at the dinner table, throwing his food and cup on the floor every single time.  WHY?!  No matter how stern we are about it, it happens again and again.  And Jacob's no easier much of the time.  He ignores us when we ask him to do something.  We have to threaten him with major punishment to get him to do even the simplest stuff.  I also find it infuriating when he doesn't try when he's reading.  He can read, and a lot of the time he does well.  But then he gets frustrated by the littlest thing and stops trying.  He guesses at words and skips over things, to the point that I'm ready to get his eyes checked.  He's so smart and it kills me when he has moments like that.

Jacob really wants to play basketball this fall, but with lacrosse officially starting up in a couple weeks, there's just no way that I want him doing sports two evenings a week plus Saturday.  With school, that's too much.  We'll have to look into it and see if we can find something for after lacrosse is over, but I know how much he wants it and it stinks that we can't make it work right now.  On the bright side, he got some great feedback from his lacrosse coach at practice last night.  He's really improving and I'm so proud of him.  I'm really looking forward to his games, though I'm actually going to have to watch this year because he might actually score!

Carter is slowly but surely trying new words, but I compared teaching him to talk to the "Friends" episode where Joey tries to speak French.  He hears one thing and it sounds totally different coming out of his mouth!  I don't think it's a hearing issue because he seems to hear fine, but some of it isn't calculating yet.  He'll get there, I'm sure, but it's definitely a switch from Jacob, who picked up words fast and at least seemed to pick up the right sounds relatively well. 

This week I finally got new photos up at my desk.  I have a few pictures of the kids, one of Craig and me, a few family photos, and a few of my favorite artsy shots, most of which are Chihuly pieces.  It's nice to have more recent pictures and look at my cute kids all day. 

I guess that's what's up this week.  Hopefully more to come soon...

Monday, October 13, 2014

Now THAT was a weekend...

I figured heading into this weekend that even though we didn't have a ton planned, we'd probably have no issues filling three days.  Craig and the kids all had off today and I took a vacation day so we'd have a full three-day weekend.  Today ended up being our "down" day, but the past couple days ended up being very busy!

Friday afternoon Craig called and asked if I was interested in going to the Amerks' home opener.  We could get tickets in the Knighthawks' suite, and since we don't go to many hockey games anymore, I thought it would probably be fun, especially since it's been a while since Carter saw real hockey in person.  He's still not much better about sitting and watching, but he did seem to enjoy the experience.  But mostly he just wanted to run around, up and down the suite level hallway!  Jacob enjoyed playing knee hockey in the suite, and when Carter joined in near the end of the night, this is pretty much what it ended up looking like...

We had a lazy Saturday morning as usual, and then I ended up going out to the mall during Carter's nap so I could buy Jacob a new winter coat and do some shopping for myself (woohoo, $8 worth of clearance finds at JCPenney.  I apparently have no idea what my style should be, particularly right now as I'm carrying around five extra pounds that don't want to go away).  I made a pretty long afternoon of it, adding a stop at Walmart, because once I'm out on my own, it's so much quicker to get things done without my little companions!

That night we ate an early dinner and bundled up to head out to Sahlen's Stadium, the same stadium we were at two weeks earlier for a wedding, but this time it was for high school football.  Craig's cousin, who plays for a school in Buffalo, was playing against a team from Rochester.  We were happy to go see him play and spend some time with Craig's aunt, uncle, and a couple other cousins.  It was a chilly night, and Little Mr. Stubborn (not to be confused with Big Mr. Stubborn) refused to wear a hat or mittens.  I finally got Carter to put on a hood, but his little fingers were awfully chilly.  All his running around probably kept the rest of him warm, though! 

Jacob kept warm with some hot chocolate, and I couldn't resist this picture of him with his legs crossed looking oh-so-grown up with beverage in hand! 

Despite the cold, we had a lot of fun catching up with family and enjoying our first high school game ever as a family.  We decided, by the way, that we need to groom Jacob as a kicker, as apparently all high school kickers are terrible (they go for two-point conversions all the time) and someone has to get those college scholarships and make it to the NFL.

Sunday we went to church, stopped at Wegmans, had lunch, and got Carter down for his nap.  We watched the Bills game and spent some time outside in the lovely weather.  Carter really loves going outside now, and we often catch him saying his own version of "lawn mower" because he loves Jacob's old bubble mower...

The big boys were playing lacrosse...


...and Carter decided he wanted a wagon ride, so we took a short one of those...
Oh, that tiny little smirk...
And then he wanted to push around the big wheel for a while.  Hopefully next year he'll reach the pedals....and unlike Jacob, figure out how to actually pedal.

Craig has been trying to get the pool closed, one step at a time, so that's kept him occupied on these pleasant days.  At one point the boys brought balls into the backyard to play, but eventually it turned into both of them digging in the dirt under the swing set...
A rare moment of closeness where they're not battling...ahhhhh.
We had big plans for the night, so we went out for a quick dinner and headed back into the city (again) to go to the Strong National Museum of Play!  A church-based investment company that I have an investment through (thanks to my grandma) was having a night there for only $5 per family.  That was amazing since it's normally about a $40 visit.  Even better, the butterfly garden was free for the night, when that's normally an extra charge.  It was only 2-1/2 hours, though, so we had to prioritize. 

Interestingly, this was Carter's first visit, at nearly the same age as Jacob was for his first visit. You can see that post here.  We had quite a challenge that day, and while this visit just had a different setup, I can tell that we'd have similar results if we tried the same kind of exhaustive visit that we did with Jacob that first time.  For all the things that are different between our boys, the mind of their own is quite the same! 

Another funny coincidence is that the special exhibit that was there that day was back...the Lego Castle exhibit!  I have a picture of Craig and Jacob that looks a lot like this...
 
Seeing all of the cool castle builds took on new meaning now that we have Lego Central in our basement...
 
This is quite impressive for Duplo!  Ironically, I think this is the castle that Jacob was fascinated with during our last visit to this exhibit, and I was so beyond annoyed with him that I don't think I even noticed that it was Duplo!
 
 Jacob loved the jousting...

I tried to get a picture of the boys on this fancy bench, but this was the best I got...

But the big boys cooperated...
That "stained glass" window behind them is one of my favorite macro photography subjects ever.  I took a couple more shots this time while I had the chance.  The close-up view is really cool.
The boys built for a bit, and I tried to get Carter on the little castle slide, but he wasn't quite ready to do it alone when I couldn't be at both the top and bottom of the slide.  It's really a cool exhibit.  The one bummer is that all of the cool artsy builds that were part of the exhibit last time didn't make it this time.  At least we got to see them once, though.

The next item on the priority list was the arcade section, where Jacob loves to play bubble hockey, air hockey, and old-school video game basketball and football.  The boys settled in with some tokens while Carter and I wandered around.  We checked out this mini-pinball game...

And then stumbled upon his favorite thing ever...the car racing game.  Who knew?  He could have spent the whole night here, I swear, no money needed.

I had a heck of a time getting him away from it, twice.  We tried to check out some other things, like this lighted game floor, but nothing excited him quite like the racing game!

We met up with the big boys by the bubble hockey game, which Carter decided he wanted to get in on...

And eventually made our way back down to get in the line for the butterfly garden.  I must add here that I do not like butterfly gardens.  I almost had a panic attack the first time I went in one in Niagara Falls, and I've definitely had to control myself the one time I went in the one here.  They're pretty, yes, but when they start flying or you look too close, they're just another bug.  I don't like worrying about stepping on one or having one land on me.  It's weird.  But since it was free, Jacob didn't remember the first time he went, and I was armed with a camera, I figured I should really brave it.

I did shriek a little when they flew too close to me, but they were really majestic...




By the time we finished up there, we only had a few minutes left to catch the last couple priorities.  Good thing we were just there not too long ago and this night only cost us $5, because it made only hitting up a few things not as guilt-inducing as usual.  Jacob really wanted to go to the mini-Wegmans, and after he did his quick shopping, he really wanted to use the feature he discovered the last time, the store intercom!

On our way out, we snapped one last picture with one of the Lego knights...

...and we headed home.  What a crazy, fun night. 

Like I said, today was much more relaxing.  I did promise to make Jacob real cinnamon rolls for breakfast, which was clearly more complicated than cereal, but not too crazy.  They fell apart a bit, and they're not really flaky like the ones out of the pop-open can, but they were good!  I didn't feel great for part of the day--just tired, I think--and I struggled with coming up with meals.  Jacob was a challenge, mostly with his homework, and Carter was his usual self, tearing apart the house and tormenting his brother.  I took a nap this afternoon and Craig and Jacob built Legos and played outside.  Carter took his turn outside after his nap, and then it was back in for dinner, playing, and bed.  I love time at home, but truthfully, I'm looking forward to getting back to our usual routine and not having to manage multiple meals and wrangle two energetic kids all day.  Jacob was actually upset that it was a long weekend, as he really likes school right now, so perhaps we'll all be happy to get back in our groove.

But what a weekend it was....

Friday, October 10, 2014

Open House

Last night was Jacob's open house at school.  It's usually a bit chaotic, but it's a nice chance to see how things are going after a month.  Last year it was a little more interesting since it was our first one and we really hadn't seen much of the school.  This year we already knew all of that, so it was mostly just a chance to go see what Jacob's been up to in the past few weeks.  And this year, I wasn't bracing myself for the worst!  Many prayers were answered when Jacob got matched with this teacher.

Jacob LOVES his teacher.  Maybe too much.  He told me the other night that he wants to live with her, to which I replied that that would be illegal.  He's been making her drawings and wanting to buy her stuff.  On one hand it's cute and on the other it's a little awkward.  He's always loved so many of his teachers that I should have known that his dislike of last year's teacher was a red flag that things were really bad.  I still don't know what to chalk that one up to--a bad match, something she did, the worst period of his behavior issues, boredom--but all I know is that this year feels downright miraculous in comparison.  I'm sure his teacher has a lot to do with it, but I also think that he's simply more comfortable this year.  He's used to the school, he's used to the schedule, and he's used to the process of getting to know the other kids.  Whether or not he makes "friends", it's still hard to tell, but at least he's not completely out of his element when meeting new kids.  I also think that last year's work was hard on him...not because it was hard, but because it went between terribly repetitive and boring to a bit above his ability level.  I remember being confused last year at our parent-teacher conference when the teacher was talking about writing in journals.  Jacob could barely read, let alone spell words and put them into a sentence.  I can only imagine that he totally disconnected from the project because he couldn't do it up to his standards.  As the year went on and he learned more, it did get better, but it just struck me funny initially.  Then, at the beginning of this school year, as I was sorting through all of last year's stuff, I realized how many of these weird little photocopied books they did.  I know they were for reading and identifying sight words, but they were supposed to color them, too.  There were SO many of them.  They must have done a couple a week, and I can see how that would get repetitive.  Don't get me wrong, I know learning takes repetition, but it just seemed like a cop-out or something when there are so many other ways to learn that stuff.

Anyway...this year has been blissful.  He loves his teacher, seems content with his friends, and is managing the work.  He still complains about homework, but at least we can do it at his pace.  He usually whizzes through the math worksheet, does his flashcards without an issue, and then begrudgingly does his 10-15 minutes of reading five nights each week.  The books are pretty basic and he does well with most of them, but Craig and I have noticed that he guesses very randomly at words he doesn't know and skips over easy stuff, almost like he's assuming what it should say.  It's little stuff, like changing a pronoun or switching out "the" for "a".  Part of me wonders if he's just tired, being lazy, or needs his eyes checked.  But all things considered, this has been much better.

Last night we had a list of things to check out--little books he's written, a miniature paper creation of himself (with lacrosse stick in hand), and some of the books he's been reading.  We chatted a bit with his teacher (who's running the Chicago Marathon this weekend, believe it or not!), and while she didn't gush over his skills or anything, she did talk about his love of sports without sounding like he drives her nuts.  There were no mentions of trouble with his attention span or any other frustrating behaviors that we heard on repeat last year.  Maybe we'll get some of that in December at the parent-teacher conference, but as of now, everything has been peachy.  And trust me, if she had an issue, I think she'd be fine to open up that dialogue, so I really think that's okay right now.  I was happy to see that Jacob's reading books were a higher level than any other kids at his table that I could see.  Knowing that at least one other kid I know who's his age is reading chapter books, I took some comfort in that. 

He said hi to a few friends, though he's shy about it when we're around.  He gleefully showed us the art and music rooms and was bummed that the gym wasn't open.  The only other significant thing was that we had to sign up for party supplies.  I braced myself, signed up for doable items, then started taking notes on all of the gluten-free replacements I need to work on between now and February.  Pumpkin cookies for Halloween, Oreos for a Thanksgiving craft, gluten free graham crackers for Christmas (for a gingerbread house, and some gluten free candies, just in case), and a crapload of items for the 100 Day celebration (again, after our last minute scramble last year).  I'm actually not even going to worry about the 100 Day thing yet because it's a long way away, but ugh...I'm starting to hate that made up school celebration.  We celebrated at the end of the year when we'd actually accomplished something, darn it.  But I digress...

I can't even describe the amazingness of not having to worry about Jacob at school.  He's even doing a great job behaving at the afterschool program, which if you recall, was not the case last year.  It may not last as the newness of the new year wears off, but it just seems like he's found himself a good spot and I can only pray it continues.  He's a super goofy, super unique kid, and I know that he's always going to be a little different than everyone else.  He just sees the world differently, to the extent that sometimes it's hard to see it with him.  But I know there's something special in there and if we can just get past some of the hard stuff I know we'll get to see what's really there.  There's so much running through his head at any given moment, and if he ever learns how to filter it a bit and direct all of that energy into the most important stuff....man, he could really do amazing things.

Oh, and the other night he was actually trying to teach Carter how to play sports.  He was trying to teach him hockey while I was making dinner, and then at one point when I tried to take Carter out of his room (because he usually hates having him in there), he told me to leave him because he was teaching him how to play soccer.  Who knew he had it in him?  That's not to say that they don't still beat each other up and drive each other nuts, but at least there are flashes of what could be.  For now, I'll take it.  It's funny what a year in the depths will do to your perception of things.

I feel like I jinx myself when I blog about the good stuff here, but I do think it's important to celebrate those moments when we have them.  So there you go...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Looking Back...

I was looking back in the blog last night because I was curious about what I wrote about Jacob at the age Carter is now.  I don't really want to compare the kids, because clearly they are individuals, but it's always interesting to see what issues we were dealing with and what the latest milestones were when Jacob was at a certain age. 

Jacob was approaching the 20-month mark in mid-February 2010.  We were a month or so into a new daycare and a month or so away from moving into our new house.  We were dealing with a lot of tantrums (sounds familiar) and working through some eating and sleeping issues.  I discovered that he was saying some rather fancy words, including "hockey" and "Knighthawks".  Based on what I was reading, he was able to use quite a few words, in fact.  Carter has words, but they're not all clear...and I'm not sure some of them are the most useful ones.  He has said "tree" and "shoes" lately, among other things, and we're pretty sure he's trying to say "lawnmower", because he loves the bubble mower so much. 

Back when he was Carter's age now, Jacob's interests were quite clear based on the words he was using.  In addition to "hockey" and "Knighthawks", he was also able to say "touchdown".  I found this post in particular to be very interesting 4-1/2 years later.  It went over Jacob's apparent sports obsession, and I wondered how much was too much.  Was it okay to let him be so into sports?  What should we do about him always carrying around a hockey or lacrosse stick?  Was it bad that so much of his world had to do with sports, when there were so many other things he should be focusing on and learning?

All these years later I know that while he did diversify, sports is still a major part of his world.  His interests still tend to be a bit all-encompassing, as well.  For a while he loved superheroes, and Legos climbed the ranks sometime after that.  He's always loved his giant collection of stuffed animals and still sleeps with most of them.  But through all that, he still loves sports most.  He's decidedly less obsessed, but he does go through spurts of focus, like when baseball season starts and he wants to play baseball every night, or around his last birthday when everything was all about basketball.  Now he's totally into lacrosse and wants to play every chance he gets.  But even still...he's really into a few games on the iPad and loves playing with his Legos and Playmobil guys, so it's not all sports. 

I just found it interesting to see that while some things have changed, the sports thing really did stick.  I guess it's a lesson to us as parents to never discount our kids' interests.  Even though Carter's still just a baby, if there's something he truly loves, perhaps that's not going to change as much as we think.  He definitely isn't as focused on anything as Jacob was on sports, but he's still passionate about things and will definitely be interesting to watch as he grows up.  We've only just begun..

Monday, October 6, 2014

News & Notes - The "It's October already?!" Edition

So...October is upon us.  That means I need to start worrying about Halloween costumes, finding a weekend for the pumpkin patch, and pondering what backups I need to ensure that Jacob's second gluten-free Halloween goes smoothly.  I can't quite fathom that it's already almost the end of the year, that the nice weather is winding down, and that it could snow pretty much anytime now since the nights have been downright frigid already.  I just can't figure out how October got here so darn quickly.  And while I love all of the fall stuff--the foods, the colors, the celebrations--I detest what comes after (well, the early cold and snow, and then all of winter after Christmas).  I like my flip flops, I like daylight, I like not having to deal with coats and boots, and I like walking out into beautiful weather at the end of the work day.  And this year I don't even have the gorgeous view of the colors from my window at work, nor do I have a convenient view to spot the glorious sunsets we used to love so much.  Those things usually got me through this time of year a little more easily, so that's a bummer.

Just a quick update on my dad...he's doing pretty well, all things considered.  It's still a long haul, and keeping both him and my mom sane while they're more or less homebound most of the time is going to be a challenge, so keep praying for that.  He's got an appointment with the surgeon tomorrow, but aside from getting a lot of questions answered, they're thinking it should be pretty routine.  If you're interested in siphoning off any prayers to other causes these days, just send up a prayer for babies in general.  I've had some pretty crappy news all around since late last week involving babies (one from a terrible local news story, one from the sister of one of my favorite singers, and another today involving the health of the three-week-old baby of a friend of mine), so please just send up some prayers for those folks, for comfort for the first two families, and for answers and healing for the third.  All of them have been heavy on my mom heart, for sure.

We had a pretty good weekend.  Friday night Jacob had his first lacrosse practice of the year, and despite some nasty rain, I guess he did really well.  He pulled off at least one really great move, and because he's now one of the older kids (and the previous older kids have mostly moved up), he should have a much more involved season.  We grabbed a quick dinner out afterward, and Carter finally got the bloody (though not fat) lip I've been waiting for him to get when he tripped running on the tile floor after we ate.  That kid falls flat on his face multiple times a day and generally avoids injury, but he did get a bloody lip that time!  He handled it really well, though.

Saturday morning I headed out early to help my cousin Lori move into her own apartment.  She lived in a townhouse with a friend after college, then moved back with her parents when that friend got married.  She just felt it was time to get out on her own, officially, and a small army of us moved the big stuff from her basement setup to her new place in a nice little complex.  Craig and the boys played back at home and I came back to a napping Carter and Craig, at which point I took Jacob out for some shopping.  He needed more pants and I had a coupon expiring at Kohl's.  I also had a little list that had built up for Walmart, and while it wasn't the most fun trip ever, he was a trooper for most of it.  We had dinner out that night (again, expiring coupon) and I think that's when both kids started to drive me a little nuts.  Jacob was complaining about his dinner (which he normally loves) and Carter's little temper and tendency to throw food and his sippy cup as hard as possible were driving me batty.  That pretty much continued into Sunday, as Carter dumped every bin in the house at least once and Jacob spent the day begging for new songs for his iPad.  They were part of his latest behavior reward, but I had to research them a bit first.  But as the night went on and things kept going wrong (i.e., one of my favorite shirts apparently got caught in the dryer door and started a major corkscrew that twisted most of the clothes really badly and eventually ripped my shirt), I gave up on that for the night.  I organized seven months' worth of photos instead, putting winter and spring into an album and pulling out a few dozen photos I printed for Carter's baby book (sorry second child...I am woefully behind...thank goodness for this blog) and a couple frames I want to bring into work.  That felt good...even if I still have summer to sort through!

Have I mentioned, by the way, that Carter is totally into Daddy now?  I think it started while I was gone for my dad's surgery.  Ever since, he's always saying, "Dada" and seems interested in where he is.  He really wants to be one of the boys now, and doesn't like when the big boys are outside and he's stuck inside, or they're downstairs playing Legos and he's not allowed to join in.  He still loves his mama, though--he ran to me when we both came to pick him up tonight, for example.  His temper and tendency to destroy the house are a little disconcerting at this point, though.  Tonight he was so frustrated when I had to bring him in from outside that he had a total meltdown, complete with a new feature, crazy screaming that was totally for shock value.  Not sure which one of us he learned that from, because God knows around he we have plenty of that--be it Jacob losing his temper or us trying to get either one of the kids to instantly stop what they're doing and listen to us.  It's so hard when they don't have the language or logic to listen to what you're saying.  I can sit Carter on the step in a timeout, but does he really get it?  When he dumps out yet another bin of toys, I can't physically force him to help me pick up.  I hate you, early-onset terrible twos.

Now here are a few pictures from the weekend.  It's been a while since I randomly took out my camera and took pictures while Carter was just playing.  It took a couple tries, but I got a doozy...
Oh, that face.  Pure sweetness right there. 

How did my tiny little baby turn into this big kid?
As any parent of an elementary school kid knows, this is Fire Prevention Week, and our local firehouses had open houses yesterday.  Every year I'd intend on taking Jacob, and it just never happened.  Usually one naptime or another got in the way.  This year I was determined.  Of course, I was then helped along by a crappy first half of the Bills game and Carter waking up an hour into his nap (I think because he had to poop).  So, we all shuffled off to the fire house.  When we got there, the trucks were out but no one was out there to talk to us.  We did get a look at the fire boat... 

A couple minutes later, we heard all these noises.  Suddenly four firefighters came out and started loading onto the truck.  Three left with the big truck and one guy was left behind to talk to us.  So, unfortunately, that meant we didn't get the full lowdown on the big truck, but we did get to see how quickly they loaded up and took off, which was cool.  We also got to see the guts of the remaining fire rescue truck, and Jacob got to sit in the driver's seat...

We got a tour of the firehouse--living room, kitchen, gym, offices--and got to ask some questions.  Mine were mostly about the additional smoke detector I need to install, as well as the task of testing them (I've heard that sometimes you should test the full mechanism to make sure it can detect smoke, not just sound an alarm, but the firefighter said we're fine testing the alarm and replacing them after 5-7 years).  We didn't stay long, but it was still pretty cool...and by the time we got back in the car, the Bills had tied it up en route to a major comeback win!

Once we were home, I made it my mission to take a picture of Carter with his new fire helmet.  It took a few tries, but finally I got one!

Got him mid-chase!
And now another week starts and I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to start chipping away at my to do list!  Here goes nothing...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Confessions of a Crazy Daughter

I know this blog is supposed to be primarily about my kids and my experience as their parent, but the events of the past couple weeks in regards to my dad have been eye-opening in many ways, including in my role as a parent.  Thank God all is well with him and he's now got the task of taking it one day at a time to heal up and get back to normal life.  It'll be a good three month process full of many limitations and new challenges, but when it's all said and done, he should have a good, full life ahead of him.  But it was a very eye-opening week, with a little too much sobering reality for my tastes.  I'm just so grateful that things went so smoothly, considering the seriousness of it all.

One of the things I realized is how much I wish I would have had a chance to know my other grandpa, my mom's dad.  He had open heart surgery when I was around the age that Carter is now, and while he made it through that surgery, his severely damaged heart gave out less than a year later, right before my second birthday.  I'm sad that I don't have any memories of him.  I'm not sure I realized how much of a hole it was until I realized that if something happened to my dad, Carter would be in the same position that I have been all these years.  I didn't want that for him.  I have such wonderful memories of my dad's parents, as well as my mom's mom, but to not even have a concept of my grandma as a married woman, or to have real insight into half of my mom's genes, is a bit of a bummer.  And knowing now what a great grandpa my dad is, the thought of Carter not remembering that was absolutely heartbreaking. 

I'd obviously have been at a loss without him, as well.  Surprisingly, I didn't really panic or let myself get too caught up in everything, but I won't lie--in the quiet solitude of my car on the way to Buffalo when I thought the surgery was imminent, I had a couple moments.  Perhaps it was the first time I had to really be alone with my thoughts, or where I felt safe enough to let myself think.  There were a couple songs, too, that didn't help...but in a way, did.  One was from Sanctus Real, from an album that was written just prior to the lead singer finding out that his unborn son would be born with a serious heart defect.  The album was unintentionally sprinkled with heart references, and I'll admit I pulled it into my car just before I left, because I thought it might be therapeutic or something.  But when I heard this song, I pretty much lost it for a few minutes.



And then there's this one, which is my go-to, "I can't handle this" song.  It's been a comfort through all of Jacob's issues, too, but when I heard it that day, everything became pretty real.


But I felt so much better once I got to the hospital and saw how he was doing.  Granted, the moments before the postponed surgery were pretty dicey, but I was surprised at how at ease he seemed considering the circumstances.  He did say that he was spiritually prepared in the event that something went very wrong, but I know how nervous he can be (trust me, I am my father's daughter), and I was pleased to see that he seemed okay.  Even when the surgery was postponed for a day and he had a whole extra day to think about it, he still remained calm.  It was actually nice to have that extra time to hang out, too, since I barely had a chance to say hi before he went off to the eventually-postponed surgery.  He called himself a wimp in the middle of it all, and I told him he was stronger than he thought.  And you know what?  He was so brave.  Sounds weird to be saying that about your parent, but I'm so proud of how he did with it all.  And while I know this recovery is going to be tough, I'm confident he will get through it. 

After the surgery the surgeon explained to us that in cases like my dad's, sometimes the only sign of a problem is when someone literally drops dead from a sudden heart attack.  I thought about how awful that would have been, for so many reasons.  The last thing my dad's family needed was another one of those, given what happened to my uncle 17 years ago.  If it would have happened on their trip it would have been horrible--both because of the shock and the logistics.  He's still so young with so many trips to take, so many friends and family members to enjoy and make memories with, and so many more drives to have in his little red sports car.  He may have been fine with going, but the rest of would have felt such a loss.  When we were back at my parents' house after everything was over, I looked at a set of pictures from my parents' Mediterranean cruise and thought about how sad it would have been if that was the last of the fun, adventurous pictures of both my parents together.  It would have been the end of a long love story, too, far too early for a couple that both seem so young. 

Like I said, while a lot of my emotions surrounding this had to do with the kids, I definitely would have felt a huge loss as well.  I've mentioned before how our relationship has improved considerably in the past ten years, and it would have been such a shame for that to end.  What if the conversations in the hospital would have been our last?  What advice would I have missed?  What stories might I have never known?  What skills might my kids have never learned?  Heck, my grandpa was well into his 70s when he taught me a card trick I still use to impress people when there's a deck of cards handy!  And of course, this has all reminded me that Craig and I both need to be mindful of our bodies and do what we can to avoid ;putting our own loved ones through this same experience (or worse).  Our diets are already challenged a bit by the limitations of the gluten-free diet we're on (at dinner time, at least), but it never hurts to keep it in mind with our lunch choices and when we eat out.  I, for one, need to get my butt to the doctor for a full physical.  It's been far too long and I need to check my high cholesterol, among other things. 

In general I suppose right now I'm more of a worry-wart than ever.  I know how quickly things can change, and how serious of a twist they can take.  I worry that so many tests don't show the full story.  Now that we've dodged this bullet I do think about which one we might not dodge.  I know God's got it covered regardless, but it's hard to think about sometimes.  But I know I'm grateful for the many blessings we have, and count my dad's survival at the top of that list.  I'm not sure it's all sunk in even now, but what a crazy couple weeks it has been.  All I can do is pull the positives out of it and try to keep those lessons in mind each and every day.  We're only promised today, so we need to make the most of it while we have it.