Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Trust me, if I had taken Jacob to Calgary we'd have a lot more than four pictures to share, but I'll take what I can get!  Jacob and Craig had a great time in Calgary.  Travel was smooth, and while Jacob didn't get to see his beloved Calgary Flames, getting to see their arena was a nice consolation prize.

Landing in Calgary

Big kid in his Knighthawk-colored tie, following the player dress code, it seems!
Jacob has liked the Calgary Flames for a year or so, and unfortunately, the timing didn't work out for catching a game or randomly running into players.  He did get to be near their locker room, though!

The highlight of his trip was apparently going to the team store.  Typical for him, I suppose, but I guess if I got to be in an entire store of merchandise for my favorite team for the first time, that would be pretty cool.  He came home with a shirt, last year's draft hat, and the fancy mini-stick he'd been eyeing up.  I'm sure he could have bought up the whole store and still wanted more, but I'm sure it was fun for him.

Being in the arena was pretty cool, too.  It's the Scotiabank Saddledome, home of the hockey and figure skating competitions in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.  Jacob didn't like the catwalk to get to the press box, though!

Unfortunately, they didn't bring home a win, but by all accounts it was a good trip.  There were a couple minor hiccups with food in working around Jacob's diet (like a place that had gluten-free buns but the burgers had gluten?!), but as a whole I think it went well.  There was a lot of build-up, and I hope in his mind it lived up to the hype.  He's a very lucky kid to get a trip like that, and I hope he realizes it!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Zoo Day!

While the big boys were gallivanting around Calgary, Carter and I needed to find ways to keep ourselves occupied.  It's been a long time since we'd been to the zoo, and since some big changes are afoot there, it seemed like a good time to go.  Fortunately, the weather cooperated.  It wasn't warm, but it was sunny and relatively pleasant--a little breezy, maybe--but generally nice enough to not feel like we had to be layered up.

I wanted to be sure to take pictures of the zoo's main building, which you see as you walk in the gates.  It's going to be demolished later this year.  On one hand it seems to be a shame, but the building is old and outdated compared to modern zoo habit standards.  It's time for it to go and be replaced by something better, but it's always sad to see history go.

This stained glass window is just inside the door.  I'm hoping this might be salvaged.

In one of the first display cases inside, there was this snake.  When we walked up, it came right over to the window.

I only managed to get this video as he started to move back toward the back...but look at that movement...

Our next main stop was the bird room.  My fondest memory in this room was the year after I graduated from college and came here with a group of college friends.  We walked across a bridge above the Genesee River to get to the zoo (my first time) and a multicolored parrot flew on my friend's head.  I'd post the pic here, but he might find that weird if he ever found it some day.  Anyway, the birds fly free so it's always a little harrowing in there.  I had to duck at least once when two of the larger birds flew across the room!
Ibis on a branch

I believe this is some sort of pigeon relative.  Fancy hairdo.

I tried to get a pic of this guy but he kept turning around.  This wasn't bad...

...but how 'bout that angry face when he went into the cage to eat?

Who's a pretty bird?
We then checked out some poison dart frogs and came out to a tamarin exhibit.  One ran right up to the glass, and while this picture isn't in focus, I had to post it!

He kept sticking out his tongue repeatedly (like moving it around weird), and while I wish I would have gotten video of it, this will have to do.

We moved into the main hall to see the orangutans, but took a detour at the golden lion tamarin cage, which was also home to a giant iguana.  It took a while to find him, but holy cow it was huge!
That suspended log was probably 6+ feet long, and that dude took up most of it.  Notice the tail hanging off the front!
This was also a farewell to the orangutans, as they're moving on to other zoos next month before the building goes.  I've loved the orangutans for years, but it went to a new level when their baby was born around the same time that Carter was.  Bella was the cutest!  Now she's a big girl, just like my big boy, and she was very active...

We checked out the spider monkey, who seemed to like chilling in the little doorway between cages, and then saw the new agoutis and the lemurs.
I still always think of King Julian from Madagascar.  But look at that tail!
Here's a view looking back toward the orangutans and the birds.  Bye-bye, main building.

I also took this picture of the rhino enclosure at the end of the building, which I believe was originally the elephant area.  Not too often I notice those skylights, but they're sort of pretty, right?  And while I'm being nostalgic, remember the time I saw the rhino with the tranquilizer dart in its butt?

Back outside, we walked past the eagles.  And man, was this one ever trying to fly.  As you can see, his left wing is damaged, hence why he's in the zoo in a cageless area.  Sorry, buddy.

We got to the otter building, and we actually saw an otter swimming for a change.  Once in a great while we see them here, but I still don't understand why ours are such duds when the ones in Buffalo are amazing every time.  Of course, I didn't even try to take a picture because they never come out clear, and this one was in and out of the pool constantly so I didn't even bother trying to catch it on video.

But the star of the show in this area was the snake.  I believe this is some sort of python.  It's HUGE.  Super long and very thick in the middle.  I noticed as we came in that he was moving off of the tree branch, but then he did this:

As you may have heard in the background, Carter had asked the other day about a snake being able to slither up into his bed.  This pretty much confirmed it was physically possible, but as I said at the end, I think he'd have a hard time getting into the house!

He did it again a while later in the middle of the enclosure, all the way up to the ceiling.  Creepy.

We wandered past the tiger and the wolves, who seemed to be enjoying the cold and snow.
Another intense look!
Ironically, the penguins weren't out, but this little one was!

As we moved on to the lions, we could see that one female was napping on top of the rocks, and the male was hanging out near the display windows.  He got up to start pacing just as we got there.

After a couple minutes of watching, he started to vocalize a bit.  His roars got progressively louder.  Did you know lion roars can be heard for five miles?  I feel bad for people that live near the zoo!  After his louder roars, he ended up doing this series of little ones...

The other female lion was resting on the front of the bus that's part of the theming in this exhibit, but it was hard to get a good shot of her.  We checked out the baboons, too, but they all ran away so we moved on to the elephants.  It's cool having four of them now after years of two.  This elephant was loving the snow.  She was digging in it and eating the snow!

One of the elephants appeared to be resting standing up, and I took the opportunity to focus in on its eye.  Look at those eyelashes!

We visited the baboons again on the walk back, and this time, they were also playing with the snow.  Who knew snow could be such a visit enhancer?  They also moved some snow into the lemur exhibit when we walked past later. 

It was a little sad heading to the Rocky Coast exhibit, since the last polar bear passed away a couple weeks ago.  Carter still posed with the photo op one...

The sea lions were really active, all swimming and coming up to the windows.
If you look in the upper left in the tunnel, there's a tiny sea lion snout poking down.  I guess it was supposedly Bob, the baby born last June, just hanging out there.  The docent said that he usually does something different than everyone else, and he just looked so goofy there.
Later Bob happened to be the one to jump up on the rocks.  What a cutie.

On the way back out we stopped at one of the activity centers (which was pretty lame since it's getting redone soon), saw the Canada lynx up close, and stopped back through to see the orangutans again.  They were eating this time, and Bella was so cute...again.

I'll miss this sweet face.

We went around to see the snow leopards before we left, because we just got a new one.  I have no idea if this one was the new one or old one, but it's just so pretty.  The paws are so perfectly soft and fuzzy.  Right after I took this it flipped on its back to take a snooze.  Perfectly fuzzy belly, too!

Overall it was a nice visit.  Carter was a little less patient at most of the exhibits than I would have liked, but it was a pleasant day and I'm so glad we went and saw all of these cool little moments.  The future is exciting with the new building, with soon-to-arrive giraffes and zebras, and in the further future, new orangutans and gorillas!  My kids might be a little old for the zoo by the time it's all done, but heck, I'm not too old for the zoo, so I'm in!

Coming up...the big boys' side of the weekend...

Saturday, March 17, 2018

News and Notes, Spring Hasn't Sprung Edition

Well, I guess it's been a while since we've had a general state of the household update on here.  Not much has changed, I suppose.  The boys still fight, we're still losing our minds trying to manage their moods, and at times Jacob is worse than ever.  I'm still convinced more is going on with him, but we can't quite seem to figure out what it is.  He hates his teacher, which in his mind is the source of most of his issues, but in general he's been shorter tempered and grumpier than usual.  We literally could not get him to school once this week.  He hasn't been sleeping well, and apparently that day it all came to a head.  He wasn't feeling well, he was tired, and no matter what Craig did (I had to leave for an allergy shot), he just couldn't get him out the door.  So I guess he had a mental health day.  And truth be told he was better for the rest of the week.  But it's been hard.  He desperately wants more playtime with Carter, but between Carter's preferences and the fact they fight almost immediately when they do play together, it doesn't go well.  But we do have glimpses, and I guess the last few weeks have had a few.  I think it's honestly the beginning of cabin fever and trying to find any way possible to deal with the snow and keep ourselves occupied until spring!

Shortly after Carter's birthday we got all of his Legos put together, and the pizza truck he got from Uncle John's family sparked the boys to get a street of food together.  Here we have my apartments (complete with a coffee shop), the pizza truck and pizza eaters, Scooby and Shaggy eating burgers, a guy with a baguette, a German dude with a pretzel, a gingerbread man with a fish and some other dude with a crab, and a smoothie cart.  Oh, and a checkpoint, dumpster, street musician, and some sort of armed guard.  Hmmm.

In the midst of the Olympics we got hit with a pretty significant snow storm.  We got a solid foot overnight.  Everyone else was off but I still needed to go into work--albeit late--and once we had shoveled a single path down the driveway, Jacob was hard at work with the chalk creating a curling setup...

He had some Olympic rings, too.  I don't know how much--if any--curling actually happened, but they definitely had fun playing outside.

Two weeks ago I walked into our kitchen and saw a bunch of robins in our tree out front.  I think I counted at least seven or eight.

I guess just prior to that, despite the snow on the ground, it started to feel like spring, and I had seen a bunch of robins in the days prior.  But why they were in the tree together, I have no idea.  I think it did have a few berries, though, so maybe that was one of the few food sources among the snow.  The zoom on my camera did pretty well, didn't it?

The living room has been in a nearly constant state of toy takeover for weeks.  The boys use almost every toy they have - Legos, army guys, Playmobil, Imaginext, Hot Wheels, magnetic tiles, you name it.  It makes for some pretty epic setups, and eventually when the playing has lessened and the mess is too big, we finally hit a clean-up breaking point and it starts all over again.  Last weekend we ended up with this fabulous Mega Bloks Sphinx...
That is Chase from Paw Patrol in the middle.

While the northeast was getting hit by three nor'easters in two weeks, we were getting just enough more snow to make it still feel like the pit of winter around here.  To be fair, most of the snow that falls doesn't last long on streets or the driveway because the sun is warmer and longer lasting these days, but the temps have mostly been hovering around freezing so while there's been plenty of snow melt, it's still pretty snowy out there.  While the daytime temps have been mostly tolerable, it's not nearly the springy weather you hope for this time of year.  February might even have been better!  The boys have done their share of snow play, including these front yard forts...

Last week Craig had a fundraiser going on at work where the Knighthawks players had to make animals at Build-a-Bear to auction off, and he spent a few days at our local Build-a-Bear (other side of town) helping the bears get built.  One day he took Carter to help, and of course they made a detour to the Lego Store...

Carter was lucky enough to build a bear of his own and chose a dark brown bear with a Captain America suit.  When I was tired later that night, he was sweet enough to offer me his bear to snuggle.  What a sweet boy.  So of course I did.

On Friday of that week, all four of us went to Build-a-Bear to finish building the last bears for guys who couldn't make it into town early enough to do it.  We had their preferences and just had to get the stuff.  We jammed up the store pretty good for a while, though luckily at first it wasn't that busy since it was a pretty cruddy night outside.  In the end we walked out of the mall with eight (!) of those house boxes in hand, which looked pretty funny.

The new magnetic tiles have been making some appearances lately, and the boys have even played with them together.

Other than building forts or jails or other things to go along with the stories in their heads, we had a build the tallest tower we could.  We had a couple unsuccessful attempts where it prematurely collapsed.  But this time we were very careful and got it to stay up long enough for a picture.  It was taller than me by a couple inches!
Pardon the mess and the purposely goofy face...I needed to take the picture before the tower gave out!
Other than Jacob's rough no-school day Tuesday, we had a relatively uneventful week.  Until Friday, at least, when Craig and Jacob left for their long-awaited weekend in Calgary with the Knighthawks.  They aren't coming home with a win, unfortunately, but other than pictures Craig's been sending periodically, I haven't talked to them much.  It looks like they've been having a good time.  Hopefully uneventful travel tomorrow then hopefully I can share soon about their adventure.  I'll admit I'm a little jealous that my kid gets a better trip than I've had in a long time, but I guess it's just more motivation to get a good 15th anniversary trip in the works later this year!  Carter and I have kept ourselves busy this weekend, too, so more on that soon!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Lessons from a Scanner, Part 2

Ahhh, my photo scanning project, round 2.  As you may recall, back in the fall I scanned all of my film photos, including a bunch of random shots that came from my grandparents' house when it got cleared out after my grandma passed away.  Pretty much all of those photos had something to do with me--either I was in them or they were taken from my perspective.  It was an educational experience, for sure.  Seeing my awkward kid-to-teenage self with grown-up eyes and looking back on all of the things I have done (even at a time where I'm discouraged by what I haven't) was really interesting.

Over Christmas I let the idea to start doing my parents' pictures marinate a bit.  I mean, we're talking about 30+ years of photos prior to them switching to digital, and I knew there was a sizable stack of albums in their closet.  But mine went more quickly than I expected, and honestly, the thought of anything ever happening to those photos--my main link to my childhood--was enough to push me forward.  So, when I was home for my uncle's funeral in January, I took home the first eight albums.  Each album had hundreds of photos.  Thankfully my mom was pretty well-organized, as it wasn't like I was rummaging through boxes or piecing things together, but it was still quite an undertaking.  I finished up all but one album before Carter and I visited a few weeks ago, and I exchanged the finished ones for a new stack.  This one had another eight albums, I think, covering the early 90s through around 2002.  Apparently after that my parents switched to digital, though I'm not sure where all of 2003 (the year I got married) ended up, as the folders on their computer don't show much from that time.  I'm currently somewhere after my freshman year of college.  We've entered into my parents' travel phase, and my brother had moved off on his own by that point, too, so as a whole the pictures from here on out will be more about my parents and less about the rest of us.  Not quite as entertaining, perhaps, but still good stuff in the long run.  But since I've made it through the majority of the stuff including me, I feel like I'm ready to reflect on the experience.

When I scanned my own photos and the old family ones that involved me, they made me reflect more on myself.  This set has been firmly entrenched in family--my immediate family and my extended family.  From little kid pictures of my oldest cousins to now-passed aunts and uncles back when they were new parents, each album brought so many smiles and a few brokenhearted moments, too.  Life goes on, as they say.  Sure, there are still moments where I've been able to look at myself a bit more, but mostly its within a context of my place within my family.  The journey has been very interesting, especially since I haven't looked at most of these in years (or in the case of the most recent photos, maybe ever?), and perspective definitely changes by the time you're pushing 40 with two kids of your own!  Here a just a few things that have made an impression:

1) Much like I found with my own photos, the photo taking was less frequent and probably not as great as hoped.  From large gaps in time (summer to Halloween was a frequent one early on) to a mere handful of pictures from significant events (and blurry ones at that), it sort of bummed me out yet again that we were all afraid to use too much film or didn't realize at the time that those moments were fleeting and needed to be captured.  My parents took barely a dozen pictures on their first trip to Vegas somewhere in the early 70s, though they had over 20 pictures of their adventures autograph seeking from the Buffalo Sabres in their early fandom days.  I think my baby pictures didn't start until I was two days old, and there were definitely fewer than I took of my kids!  There were certain milestones I was surprised weren't documented, like my departure for week-long sleepaway camp or a Ford Museum visit on a trip to Detroit when I was around 13.  I think I was also expecting something from a play we did for Mother's Day in first grade, but perhaps my mom didn't know what she was coming for!  Even the transition from our old house to our new one was pretty uneventful.  I'm sure they didn't realize it then, but it's interesting to see now.

2) Last summer at Jacob's birthday party, you may recall I was insistent on taking a picture of all of the cousins together.  

It was literally the first time all of the boys' cousins were in the same place at the same time, and it instantly reminded me of all of the pictures I have from my birthdays over the years (up through 13--once we were confirmed the parties were more just grandparents and godparents) with every cousin in attendance gathered around the birthday cake.  I had to have one of those for the next generation.

The first one...

...and the last one.
Similarly, the torture I put my kids through each Christmas with having to sit on the stairs has been validated each time I come across another year of stair pictures at my parents'.  
The first one...
The last least before John missed one.  There may have been more but I haven't gotten there yet!

3) Seeing everyone so young and full of life has been interesting.  Young parents, fresh-faced brides and grooms, sweet babies...and knowing where some of those stories go has been hard.  I think some of it is the "This Is Us" effect.  Seeing the past while knowing the future is conflicting...but like I said previously, there are reasons God doesn't tell us everything ahead of time.  Seeing my last two uncles who passed away look so young and fun, or my other aunt and uncle who were the first and second of that generation to pass, back when they were new parents...or seeing my cousin Kristi as a new baby, knowing that she only had 27 years on this earth, or even my cousin Lisa from the point of view of knowing that she'd one day lose her 13-year-old son (who would have turned 14 this week).  All of it hurts.  But those were good moments at the time and I guess it's wonderful that those moments existed in the first place, regardless of what happened later.  Watching my parents go from practically kids to new parents to around my current age and beyond has been a journey, too, as it's clear how quickly time passes.  Perhaps the hardest moment for me was coming across the photos of my Uncle Cliff and Aunt Lynne's 40th birthday party, which I still remember.  As you may recall, we celebrated their 70th birthdays last year, and a year later my uncle was gone.  When I realized that only 31 years separated those moments--well within my lifetime--and I'm hitting that same milestone myself in less than six months, it stopped me in my tracks.  That time period from then to now went pretty fast, and knowing I could be at the end of my life in that same short span of time was sobering.

4) I miss my grandparents and everything they represent.  One grandma's cluttered kitchen.  The other's old house.  Crazy Christmases with family all around.  In the early pictures they were younger than my parents are now.  Later it was weird getting through a set of pictures and knowing that somewhere in the middle of them, my grandfather passed away.  I guess that one can go in the "lack of documentation" category, too, though obviously I wouldn't have expected to see that one.  But seeing them all through baptisms and birthdays and anniversaries brought back so many memories and made me wish I was around for so many others. 

5) Random revelations:
     a) My dad could take a selfie before it was a thing...

   b) Artistic shots were few and far between, but I loved this one...
That's my brother with a kite

     c) Everyone eventually gains weight.
     d) Our trip to Washington DC was busier and even more epic than I remembered (and I thought it was cool already).
     e) I'm extra jealous of the support my parents had that enabled them to go on as many trips and weekend getaways as they did!

One other thing I'm discovering as I get deeper into the photos is that there are probably a bunch I haven't even seen, since I was less likely to look at photo albums as I got older.  The ones from my college years are probably full of things I never knew existed, which is sort of exciting!  I'm most grateful, though, that this is allowing me to save all of these memories forever.  I've always feared something happening to these photos, my main link to my childhood.  I have plenty of real memories, of course, but these solidify them and also give me the points of reference that I crave.  Now that I'm doing this, a significant portion of my past is on my computer and uploaded to the internet for extra safety.  There is so much peace of mind in that.  I'm so grateful for this opportunity--including the reminder to ask questions about the pictures while I still can.  Nothing on earth is more special than family, and I've been blessed with a good one.  Now I have the photo proof.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


In talking through our recent challenges with Jacob's therapist, it seems like lately he's been struggling with a lack of control. Not self-control (though of course that's an issue, too), but control.  From school to home, he feels like he has no opportunity to make choices about his own life.  I suppose we all feel a little like that most of the time, and as a kid I know that's usually the norm, but when you remember that Jacob doesn't really think of himself as a kid, I guess I understand why it could be extra frustrating for him.

Jacob legitimately doesn't see himself in the kid role.  He hasn't for a few years now.  He genuinely thinks he should have every opportunity to do what he wants because it's his life.  It simply doesn't compute that someone else should be able to make decisions for him.  But, of course, he IS a kid.  And while he doesn't understand this, adults are put into kids' lives to give them proper guidance and help them avoid a lot of the bad stuff--dangerous situations, foolish decisions, wasted opportunities.  But when you don't believe that adults actually are smarter, of course you don't want to listen to any of that wisdom.  Hence his frustration.

We are constantly on his back, about everything.  Clean up.  Take your medicine.  Leave your brother alone.  Turn off the game and eat dinner.  Go in your room.  Do your homework.  Go to bed.  Get up and get ready so you can eat breakfast before school. 

He feels like he's constantly under his teacher's thumb.  He can't do anything without her getting on his case.  He doesn't like being forced to read, and he'd much rather have more active play time.

He didn't like his camp counselor over break, as he seemed equally as domineering as Jacob's teacher.  He usually has fun at camp but this guy took all of the joy and flexibility out of it.

He wants Carter to play with him, but often Carter doesn't want to, and Jacob hates that he can't make him do it.  Carter is stubborn, and inevitably they get into a fight over everything.  That fighting makes Carter even less likely to want to play afterward, but Jacob can't help himself because he's upset about the rejection.

He wants to play outside all the time.  But we're just getting to a time of year where there's a little daylight in the evening, and most of the time it's cold and either the grown-ups are tired or busy and Carter doesn't want to go out in the cold.

He has all these big ideas like sharing a room with Carter (no, seriously...and not a chance), building some sort of mini hockey rink in our house, and whatever else pops into his head.  We had a giant argument the other night because we won't let him move the couch out of our office or all of the furniture out of his room to make room for the rink.  Apparently everyone in his class has a playroom in their house, and even though toys and Legos take over much of our living room and basement on a regular basis, and his room is very large, apparently that's not good enough.

I wish we could say yes more often, but we have a couple problems.  First, he takes everything to an extreme, and has very little flexibility on that.  I'm cool with clearing out some spaces so he has more room to play hockey.  I even bought him one of those collapsible faux leather bench ottomans for his room so we can clean up the rest of the prized stuffed animals in his room, and I'm considering some changes in our office because the desk is on its way out anyway and I wouldn't mind getting that room a little more usable--for anything.  But that stuff wasn't enough for him and his big ideas, so past a certain point it, too, ends up being a no.  He wants to play with Carter, but because he has such an extreme, specific view of how that should work, Carter gets ticked and they end up fighting.  Jacob gets madder because Carter won't play, and the vicious cycle goes on and on.

The second problem is that so much of what he does is unacceptable, unreasonable, or inappropriate.  From the potty talk to pestering his brother, from ignoring us to insisting on having his way, there are just things that we can't let go.  And most days lately, everything is a fight.  Coming to the dinner table, bedtime, getting his shoes on for school, doing his reading homework before bedtime, cleaning up his own name it, we've battled.  They're not unreasonable requests on our part, but you'd think we asked him to climb Mt. Everest.  The stuff we're fighting is simple, basics-of-life stuff that he just can't seem to grasp--politeness, flexibility, planning ahead, neatness.  This is all stuff we've worked on for years, hoping at some point it would just stick, and in many cases, it still hasn't.  I try to get into the natural consequences stuff as much as I can, but honestly, so little phases him--until it comes to a head, and then he just blames us anyway.  And the more we have to do it, the more agitated he gets.  The more agitated he gets, the more he battles.  It's awful.

We keep trying to tell him that if he wants to earn some leeway and freedom, he needs to show us some maturity and earn it.  Knowing now that this lack of control is an issue for him, I'm trying to find opportunities where he can have a say.  Like buying the ottoman or redoing the office, I'm trying to hand off an olive branch that might help him see we're not entirely against him.  I can't budge on needing to get him to school on time, and I shouldn't have to budge on him coming to the dinner table on time, but maybe there are other things we can work on.  The problem is that if you give him an inch, he'll take a mile.  How can we get him to be thankful for what we compromise on, and not try to take advantage?  It's like one giant chess game with him.

I guess we'll just have to keep looking for opportunities and hoping he cooperates enough to make them work.  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Getting Around...

This is more of a catch-up post, so please pardon the jumping around.  These all interweave into the last week and a half of posts, time-wise.  I came across some stuff--mostly from my phone--that I hadn't transferred over to my computer, and hence I had not posted them.  It's funny how time gets away from you sometimes!

Craig also sent me a couple more from Carter's birthday trip to Chuck E. Cheese.  Here we are on the motion simulator ride, going through a mine shaft roller coaster ride!
Carter loved it!
Craig liked this picture because you can see our reflections!
Two Sundays ago, when we came back from my parents' house, we went right to an event at church.  They had a giant inflatable, a bunch of crafts, and one station where you could decorate graham crackers with frosting, sprinkles, and a few different kinds of candy.  We got there with only about 45 minutes left, but it was enough to do the obstacle course inflatable a bunch of times, have a snack, and decorate the graham crackers.  I won't lie--his disinterest in the crafts was just fine with me!  Less for me to carry and/or dispose of later!  He loved the obstacle course, though!  The first picture is blurry, but it was fun walking around the side of the inflatable to catch him going through the obstacles.  There were walls to climb, barriers to dodge, and a big slide at the end.

Peeking at me before he hit the "rock wall"
This past Friday we went to an Amerks game.  We figure it's been at least a couple years since we've gone to one.  I got free tickets through work, and since Craig was home (and the Knighthawks were on the road the next night--meaning I didn't have to do back-to-back arena nights), we went.  It was definitely weird being back for the first time in so long.  The PA announcer was different, the in-game host was new, most of the promotions were different (but yet a couple were still the same!), and even the mascot has a new look.  It was the first time in the 12 years I've been gone that it all really felt completely foreign to me, almost like we could be at some other team's arena.  We still had a good time despite a last-few-minutes loss, but all in all I'll call it a win.  Even Carter seemed to enjoy it for most of the night.  It's so rare we get to watch a sporting event besides baseball together, so it made for a fun family evening!
We also sat on the other side of the rink where I've almost never sat for hockey.  I've mostly sat somewhere near the corner out of the picture to my right.
On Saturday, Craig and Jacob left first thing in the morning to go to Buffalo for a Knighthawks' game that night.  Jacob did his usual ball boy duties and Craig snapped this shot of him.  Such a big kid.

Meanwhile, Carter and I were back at home.  He was pretty patient with me all day as I did a ton of prep work for his party.  After a lazy enough morning, we headed out around 11:30 to pick up all the party food at Wegmans.  We hit up a bunch of samples, loaded up the cart, and headed home for lunch and lots of cleaning.  I got a good amount of work done before allowing myself to sit down and play for a while, but Carter did a great job keeping himself occupied.  Then we headed out for dinner, and his choice was Taco Bell.  He totally cracked me up as he ate his taco, because he folded it in half in a way where both ends could be upright and spillproof!  It was almost like a cone, with a point at the bottom.  I posted this photo with the hashtag #gamechanger because I seriously never thought of that, and it totally worked.

We made a quick stop at Payless on the way home--it was across the parking lot and I hadn't been there in ages, and I knew it was prime clearance time and I had a 20% coupon, so I had to look.  And before Carter complained he had to pee, I picked out two pairs of very basic, very useful shoes--patent black pointy toed heels and a beige patent wedge--that I got for a grand total of $15!  Score!  I don't even need the heels right now, but when I can get basic shoes I will definitely use when my current ones bite the dust, and can get them cheap, I do it!  It's the little things sometimes.

Back home, we watched the last night of Olympic competition and happened to catch bobsledding.  Carter remembered that he had a Hot Wheels bobsled vehicle, so he pulled out some track and started running it down.  Then I suggested we get more track and make a real run of it, and this was the result...

We had track going down the chaise end of the couch, down to the floor, and running into a barrier to stop it before it hit the bricks near the fireplace.  We had a blast sending it down over and over again!  He is such a fun little buddy most of the time!

After all of the fun Sunday, Monday night was a mess of presents all over the living room.  Two Lego creations to be built, and Imaginext and Lego guys everywhere!  I was doing more research on the new magnetic tiles, and while I'm still not thrilled with how some of them stick, I did find some ways to use them.  Consider it a work in progress, but I seriously love using them--maybe even more than him right now!  Our free idea book is coming soon, so hopefully that will give us cool things to do together!

We have a busy week ahead, and I can't believe March is nearly upon us!  Hurry up, spring!