Friday, October 30, 2009

Moving Up

I know this may seem like a no-brainer, but I'm not sure I ever realized how much having kids would impact the process of buying a new house. Until now, we hadn't really been serious about it, at least not anytime soon. We've been in our house now for a little over four years. I guess I didn't anticipate us staying any longer than five years or so, but I think I figured by then that we'd have found some excuse to move back to Buffalo, or that we'd both have fantastically high paying jobs that would afford us a dream house...not huge, mind you, just newer, bigger, and nicer. As much as I didn't want to start with a starter house (because I didn't want to be in this exact position of having to move, whenever), we didn't have much of a choice. We were both making peanuts at the time and only thanks to my generous grandparents and high savings account interest rates could we afford what we ended up with. Fast forward four years and we both make considerably more money...but it's still not what we'd like to be pulling in, and day care swallows up a bunch of the extra anyway. Knowing how much money we've put into the house, we probably could have gotten a better one to begin with...but we just didn't know at the time. Unfortunately, there's still a lot more we should do. Forty-five year old houses sometimes come cheap, but they come at a price all their own.

When we bought our house, the goal was to have at least one child while we were there, and then figure out how the space fit our needs beyond that. I spent the first five-plus years of my life in a house that size and our family of four was fine. But times have changed, I guess, with the need for a computer and just more "stuff". Craig and I had more than enough room when it was just the two of us, and were fine when Jacob was a newborn. Once he started getting bigger toys and started to get more mobile, it started to feel a little cramped. And when I think of adding another baby to the mix in the next couple years, I immediately start feeling claustrophobic. We'd have to move everything out of our office--computer, bed, dirty laundry, Craig's extra dresser, a bookshelf--and find other places for it all. And really, there's nothing convenient available in our living space. We're pretty full. Sure, we could reorganize our storage and move at least the computer to the basement, but I'm not sure any of it would make a great difference or be particularly convenient.

Ultimately I think we'd run out of room no matter what, and I decided a while back that there was no way that I wanted to pack or move while pregnant or with a new baby. I don't need the stress (mental or physical) on me or the baby. Moving is incredibly stressful and exhausting when you're 100% healthy, let alone when you're pregnant or sleep-deprived. I find it hard to slow down when pregnant (hence my bathroom border installation and frequent furniture assembly last time around), so I can only imagine the damage I could do mid-move. So...since my ideal timeline is to be freshly pregnant about this time next year, we'd have to move sometime between now and then. It's still a relatively decent window, but it could close fast when you take into consideration the time it could take to sell our house and go through closings on both. Just the thought of it gives me serious anxiety, and I haven't even added packing into the mix...ugh.

I've always kept my eye on the real estate world, probably more out of curiosity than anything, but a while back I set up a recurring search on our local real estate site within the bounds of what I thought we'd want. Every week I check to see if anything new has popped up. There had been a couple that intrigued me, but nothing to the point of going to see any. One neighborhood in particular had caught my interest a couple times because it had newer houses that were moderately sized and priced. They were also a bit more contemporary looking than your average house of that size, so that was neat. It's a series of three cul-de-sacs, making for a quiet neighborhood. Houses have gone up for sale periodically there, but either we weren't serious enough about it or I never bothered to try to see one before it sold. Well, last week I noticed that one of the houses up for sale in that neighborhood was having an open house. So last Sunday while Craig was at work, Jacob and I headed off to see it. I really figured that it would just be a means to an end--that I would see that the house wasn't that great, that the bedrooms were too small, that it just wouldn't work for us--so I could stop staring at listings for houses like that one. Well...that's not exactly what happened. The house was pretty stinkin' great. The last time we looked at houses, there were only a couple out of maybe eight or so that we walked out of thinking, "Yeah, we could live here." The rest were good, solid no's. So imagine my surprise when the first house I look at is really decent. The kitchen is large, the dining room is comfortable, the living has a cathedral ceiling and open stairway, the basement is partially finished with lots of storage, the laundry room is on the first floor, the bedrooms and full bath are nicely sized, there's a nice deck and backyard, and the house itself looks well-built and well-maintained. I liked it enough that we set up a meeting yesterday with the realtor so Craig could see it too. He liked it as well. Now our biggest concern is deciding how serious we are and what we have to do to get ours ready for the market.

But for all the times I've complained about our house and dreamed of moving on to bigger and better things, I still find myself hesitating. When you get settled into a house it becomes a part of who you are. And in the time we've been there, we've had a baby and watched him grow for the last 16 months. And he factors in so greatly to this whole process, in so many ways. As it was we had pretty much decided to stay in Greece so Jacob didn't have to change daycares. I do wonder what a house change will do to him...will he stop sleeping well because he misses his old room? I'd be a little sad to leave our house because we have so many good memories there now with all of Jacob's firsts. It's in a nice neighborhood with a school and a playground right around the corner. I always imagined walking there day after day in the summer to play with Jacob, and maybe even walking him to school there one day. Speaking of schools, is that elementary school any better or worse than the one we'd be moving to? Right now we have a great tree for his swing, but I'm not sure there is one at this other house...though I suppose we could put up a swing set there instead. Our neighborhood has sidewalks perfect for wagon rides, while the other one doesn't really get enough traffic to necessitate sidewalks (but still...it'd be nice to have them). What kind of friends would he have in each neighborhood as he grows older? We have great neighbors now that have been really thoughtful toward us and Jacob, and I would definitely miss knowing that they're there.

Even just having to consider how our routines will change over the years with a growing boy, and someday another baby, is mind-boggling. For example, one of the drawbacks for me with this new house is the laundry room. The good news is that it's on the ground floor. The bad news is that the stationary tub is in the basement and there's probably not much room for an ironing board, drying rack, or a place to hang clothes on hangers in the laundry room itself. Jacob is entering the muddy knees phase and will be getting even more into self-feeding over the coming months. I already spend a bit of time each week scrubbing in our (new) stationary tub. Will it be inconvenient if I have to do that in one place and bring it to another spot for washing? I don't know. I'd definitely appreciate the bigger kitchen with plenty of room for sippy cups and Jacob-specific foods (it's all crammed in one little cabinet right now), not to mention enough cabinets to have a "fun" 0ne for Jacob to dig through. Right now my cabinet space is too scarce to have one like that. It will be nice to have more space for him to run, and I'm sure he'd find endless fun climbing the stairs. But will stairs become more of a pain than they're worth? In particular I think about that for when we have another baby and we're climbing up and down stairs every time we need to go to the baby's room from anywhere other than our room or the bathroom. That said, I think we'll have a tough time finding a ranch that's large enough and in our budget, since most large ranches cost a ton.

We know that at some point we'll have to move because we're just going to outgrow our space. We could potentially spend a lot of money on upgrades for our current house, and there are still things that concern me about it (aluminum wiring being at the top of that list), so it may not be a bad thing to do. I don't know if we'll find many houses this new, this large, and this nice within our budget, but what if we jump the gun and miss out on something better or find out that this house isn't all it's cracked up to be? At the end of the day we just want what's best for our family...be it comfort, convenience, health, or anything else. And when you don't know exactly what that entails, it's a tough decision. Stay tuned...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween!

For the past few weeks I have agonized a bit over Jacob's Halloween costume. I just wasn't moved by anything I was seeing in the stores. We pretty much figured he'd end up being a dog since that's one of his favorite things, but I hadn't gotten around to buying a costume yet. I figured that if that didn't work out, he could always be Linus. I figured he could wear a red striped shirt and carry around a blue blanket. He doesn't have to dress up for daycare (they do pajama day instead) so it was really just for a minimal amount of trick or treating, plus maybe a trip to the Amerks' Halloween game and potentially one other party. But really, he's one and I didn't expect him to be comfortable enough in any costume to wear it for a lengthy period of time no matter what.

I kept meaning to go costume shopping all last week, and various things just got in the way. Over the weekend we headed to N.T. for the annual Binkley family Oktoberfest, and my mom had pulled out a costume from our infamous Halloween box--a mouse. She made it and I wore it when I was two. And judging by the pictures, I was a darn cute little mouse. Jacob fit in the costume very well and made a pretty cute mouse himself! He wasn't too sure about the costume at first, and was hesitant to smile for pictures, but he did pretty well in it after a while. Here he is showing off his cheese :)



And then there's this picture that looks like he's being a little angel boy and forcing a smile for the camera....cute in its own way!


On Sunday afternoon we headed out to the Amerks game for their "Sweets in the Suites" night, which involves trick-or-treating through the luxury suites. I figured it might be a fun little test run and a good excuse to go to the game and wear his costume. It ended up being pretty chaotic, but Jacob did pretty well. He didn't like getting his mouse nose or whiskers (I used lip and eye pencil, for lack of anything better on short notice--they seemed less harsh than that waxy makeup, and they were a lot harder to wipe off, too!), but he settled in after a bit. He did a good job walking between suites (when he could--holding my hand, of course), and I tried to get him to take the candy and drop it into his bag. He did ok, but the chaos of all the big kids and lots of crowds made it a little extra tough. At least he kept his cool amidst the chaos. Here he is in full whisker :)

And hanging out with Daddy...
And for now I will leave you with the "tail end" of this post... :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

The one thing I can't get off my mind lately...

...is my fear of the flu. Of course, I'm trying not to get caught up in the swine flu hype, but at the same time I'm trying to not ignore it because it's a serious issue. Jacob got his flu shot last week when we went to the pulmonary specialist (which, in case I didn't mention it, went ok. He's down another dose of his Reglan, to two a day. I think at this point it's mostly preventative, since we haven't hit cold and flu season yet and that's when his cough really seemed to take hold last year. I'm still not particularly happy he's still on it, but how do you argue with a doctor at a really good hospital?). He got one last year (actually two...the first time they get one there's a booster), so I really didn't hesitate when it came up this year. I'm still sort of torn on the H1N1 vaccine. There's lots of stuff that makes me nervous...particularly talk of the amount of mercury in the shot and what the potential side effects could be on something that hasn't been rigorously tested over a number of years. Half of the stuff you read makes you think you're an idiot for not getting one, and the other half makes you think you're an idiot if you do. It's hard to figure out what's hysteria and what's the truth, and where the risk exceeds the reward.

On one hand, I would do anything do keep Jacob safe. The thought of losing him to anything, let alone something so seemingly treatable, makes me crazy. Absolutely out of my mind. The flu makes me nervous because it's pretty easy for kids to get seriously ill. And when you've got a kid that's too young to really communicate what's wrong with them, it's extra scary. I have a feeling that a lot of damage could get done before you really figure out what the problem is. To make matters worse, they say that H1N1 preys on the lungs more than the regular flu. And thanks to all of his issues last year, I'd have to think Jacob would be particularly susceptible. He's been healthy for a while now, but I'd have to think that his previous illnesses would either contribute to his potential to have problems or are indicative that he could be at risk for problems. And that is just scary...because on the other hand, the vaccine is scary in and of itself. When you hear what side effects there can be or think about the mercury that you're putting into your innocent little child, that, too, can stop you in your tracks. Just the other day I saw something online about a Washington Redskins cheerleader who was the picture of health and fitness who ended up with a debilitating illness as a result of a regular flu shot. Nothing is wrong with the batch of the vaccine she got, but for some reason it really screwed up her brain. She ended up with dystonia, which involves seizures and general difficulty doing much of anything. It's horrible. And sure, it's a one in a million thing. Then again, it's also rare (but more common) for someone to die of the flu. But when you think that the flu is usually treatable and something like dystonia is not, it creates quite a dilemma. Either way you'd end up kicking yourself, whether you got the vaccine and it caused problems or you didn't get the vaccine and the flu created problems of its own. It's sort of like the difference between riding in a car and riding in a plane. If you ride in a car the chances of an accident are higher than in a plane. But if the plane has an accident, the chance that you're going to die is probably higher than your average car accident. And no, neither option is good...in either scenario.

Neither Craig or I have gotten the regular flu vaccine yet. Flu shot clinics here are getting canceled and/or swamped, and neither of us have called our doctors yet. Craig sometimes can get his through the Amerks, but apparently healthy hockey players aren't on the priority list right now so that's not an option at this point either. Assuming Jacob's vaccine takes okay, he'd be protected in the event either of us did get a regular case of the flu. But H1N1 seems to be cropping up more and more lately, so I have a feeling it's only a matter of time before it starts hitting this area and the people we know...whether at work, daycare, or elsewhere. And I won't lie...it scares the crap out of me. But so does the vaccine. And is it bad if Jacob gets it and we don't? I just don't know. You can never be too careful with your health or your child's, and in this case there's no clear answer.

Regardless, have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blast from the Past

In the past couple weeks I've been trying to salvage what's left of value from my once-beloved webpage. I started it back in college sometime during my freshman year. It was basically a nice, creative setting for a bunch of links that I thought were cool...from stuff in my hometown and profiles of my good friends to hockey sites and other random links. Eventually much of the site took a turn toward webcams, generally those of the scenic variety. I also had quite a few pages with pictures of my life--friends, vacations, and other fun shots. I think I stopped updating most of the site (save for one section) about three years ago. And even then, it was maybe a couple times a year. I'd been sort of torn since then about what to do with it. It was outdated to the point that I'd never want to put the time or effort into updating it, but I didn't want to delete it either. Well, Geocities made up my mind for me. The site is closing down next Monday, taking my site with it. I obviously have it saved on disk from way back, but there were certain things that I still referenced on the site or wanted to keep handy once the site went away. A lot of it is ending up on Facebook. So far I have just transfered over my old pictures. In the next couple weeks I'm hoping to add dozens of cool webcam pictures (beautiful sunsets, random moments, cool places) that I've saved over the years. I also need to somehow keep around my insane dissertation on my memories of the Aud and my fantastic list of holiday webcams--mostly German Christmas markets--which was the one page I kept updating all these years later, but I haven't quite figured out if I can just copy and paste it (links and all) into Facebook, or if I'm going to have to recreate it completely. Ugh. Anyway....

The reason I bring this up is because looking back into that site has been a funny trip into my past, to an era before Facebook, before Jacob, and in some cases even before Craig. It's a window into my interests over the years. And I guess I find that particularly interesting these days because I feel like my interests have become quite limited. In fact, at a wedding we were at a couple months ago, a nice woman sitting next to me asked about my interests, and I came up blank. Even the "Interests" section of my Facebook profile is a little lacking. Ever since Jacob was born, my world has revolved around him, and that's about where things sit to this day. Sure, I watch TV, I mess around on the internet, I listen to mostly Christian music, and I still watch sports (albeit not as actively). But no matter how hard I try, I struggle to get much beyond those things. The point is, if I have interests, exploring them further has generally taken a backseat to Jacob. And the time that Jacob and any Jacob-related tasks take up generally pushes back other necessary household tasks, and by the time I get those done, there's very little time to do much for myself. And I know I've mentioned it before, but that's the same nasty slippery slope that ends up putting women on "What Not to Wear", because they just stop worrying about themselves and lose their individual identity. Appearance-wise I've done my best to maintain some self-respect, but I think I've failed myself a bit on the personality/interests side of things. And don't get me wrong, I think it's for the best reason possible. But it's a tough sacrifice, and perhaps not a smart one. What happens when you finally do have time to explore other interests and there's nothing left that relates to who you have become? Forgetting yourself is a good way to end up both bored and boring down the road. I'll definitely have to do a better job with that, but I'll admit, it's tough.

Another thing that struck me as I looked through dozens of old webcam pictures was the sense of adventure I once had, imagining myself jetting off to any one of these amazing places. Nowadays I feel fortunate if I get out of Rochester, and I'm even having some anxiety about going somewhere for a long weekend without Jacob in the coming months. I still want to get out and see new things, but I suppose it's not as necessary now that I have such a precious thing right here in my midst. But I know that Craig and I do need time away to relax and reconnect. Just as I sometimes lose myself, it's easy to lose sight of how important the husband-wife relationship is once it has shifted to daddy-mommy. But seeing pictures of places I'd forgotten about, places that I've long dreamed of traveling to, really made me realize how my focus has shifted. I've noticed that elsewhere since I've become a parent, how some things that seemed so important are so trivial now. I used to spend hours during my weekends alone shopping, watching TV, or doing whatever else I pleased. Now...well, I hardly ever make it to the mall unless I have to, I can't remember the last time I watched an episode of "What Not To Wear", and I haven't worked out on a weekend in ages. One of Jacob's book orders (yep, they get them at daycare, too...oh, how I loved them!) had the computer game "Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 Platinum" in it. I wanted that game so badly for so long a couple years back, and they had it at a great price. But I didn't get it, for the same reason I never got a Nintendo DS, which I really wanted for a while too...because I don't have enough time for the important things in my life, let alone for video games. So while all these things, my website included, were so important to me a few years ago, now things are so much different. I still value this blog and Facebook when it comes to online stuff, and I do still enjoy looking at webcams...but I would say that things are much more streamlined and purposeful. This blog is a great communication tool and a nice creative outlet. Facebook is also nice for communication and sharing things with the world in general, albeit in a more focused manner than the web as a whole. My webcams are still fun here and there because I like to see beautiful things and I like the idea of looking at places in the world that I may never see in person. But none of them completely take over anymore....I have better things to occupy my time. Would I like to be able to explore new things again sometime? Of course. But for now I guess I'll just have to dabble and look back at the remains of my little online world to remember what once was.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pumpkin Farm Video!

Nothing too exciting, but figured I might as well share! Here are a couple videos of Jacob's exploits in the pumpkin patch! He sort of walks in the first one, but I think there were too many pumpkin vines!

video

And as you can see from this one, he can't get enough of the throwing. He's so excited to throw he doesn't even allow himself a proper wind-up!

video

We really had a lot of fun and I can't wait to do it again...so much so that I'm pondering looking for another one this weekend!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Farm!

Last year we never got around to taking Jacob to a pumpkin patch. Actually, I don't know if we even really aspired to it because I figured that it wasn't worth paying a bunch of money for a dozen activities Jacob couldn't do...and I never got around to researching free ones. So in the end I just wanted to go to my childhood farmer's market back in NT and find one there. Which we did. Unfortunately it was a rainy day so it wasn't all too pleasant, but we did find a cool jack o' lantern pumpkin and a Jacob-sized pumpkin, which was really all I wanted. This year we wanted to take him somewhere fun, hearkening back to two years ago when we went to Stokoe Farms here in Rochester. I may have just been pregnant when we went...like maybe a week in. Of course, I had no clue for another month or so. But even without kids we had a blast. And all I could think about as we walked past a crowd of kids around baby chicks and got to pet some farm animals was how cool it would be to bring our kids there someday. I did some research this year to see what nearby farms might be most appropriate for Jacob, and I decided we'd either go back to Stokoe or we'd try out one of two other farms--one that was right near us, and one that was a good 40 minute drive northwest. Stokoe is about 35 minutes south, so either way it could be a drive. The one near us looked ok, but we finally decided we'd check out the big one 40 minutes away and fully educate ourselves to make the decision next year. So, off to Brown's Berry Patch we went.

Thanks to Jacob's odd weekend napping schedule and other general issues, we didn't get on the road until later than we wanted, and we didn't get to the farm until about 4pm. Little did we know it closed at 5. Before we found that out, we headed into the store to check it out and get a snack. I was craving some apple pie (ideally as part of a sundae), and they did not disappoint. Apple pie, apple cinnamon ice cream, whipped cream, caramel...oooh, so good. Jacob loved it as well! He just kept signing "More!" We also picked up a couple apple cider donuts, which I had wanted to try as well. Knowing we didn't have much time once we actually saw their hours (doh!) we headed out to do whatever we could, most likely all the free stuff. We visited with some animals--goats, a cow and an alpaca--and Jacob liked that a lot...

Then we headed out to the pumpkin patch. There wasn't much left there, but we still had a good time once I got over the fact that Jacob would indeed get muddy. Jacob mostly liked picking up random gourds and throwing them. He thinks they're balls. Surprise, surprise! Here he is with one...

And another...but this one was a little too heavy to pick up and throw, apparently!


Aha! Got this one! It comes with a handle!

Apparently this one became a baseball bat instead of a ball!

He did manage to throw this one, though I'm not sure if I caught it or not. Looks like I'm making it levitate, though!
Craig offering up more ammunition, presumably to try to get Jacob to walk...
LOVE this picture...
There was a little train-themed play area, and we tried our darndest to get a good shot of both of us, but I think this was the best one!
Look at the big boy going off to explore...
At least the crawling is still handy for some things!
Looking back at Mommy :)
They had some crafters there for their fall festival and I got a couple cheap, cute little things, and we also fed the goats high up on these crazy goat walkways. They know how to pull the food up to themselves...so crazy! Eventually we made our way back to the front and got one gourd for Jacob and one uniquely shaped medium-sized pumpkin. I think we still have to get a slightly bigger one for our real pumpkin, though. Perhaps another (better timed) farm visit should be in our plans? We shall see! All in all, we had a good time. I wish we could have stayed longer and done more things, but it was a fun time for all of us and I'm looking forward to Jacob being able to do even more next year. While I know I should enjoy the present (and I do--how cute are these pictures?), I can't help but look at everything with an eye toward the future, thinking about its potential as Jacob gets older and more able. We have so many exciting things to come!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Doctor's Visit #1

We're bookending the weekend with doctor visits, first to Jacob's pediatrician this morning, and then back to the pulmonary specialist on Tuesday afternoon. This morning's visit actually went quite well, all things considered. We got there and were immediately surrounded by babies in baby carriers. There were four of them and one of us, all on the well side. I think the babies ranged in age from about a month or less to about six months, but I've lost all means of comparison on that so I'm not sure. But it was amazing to contrast them to Jacob now that he's such a big boy. I mean...no carrier, he was walking and climbing, he was pointing at the fan and the TV (playing Peter Pan...and seriously, how is that movie still around? It looked like something the Indian rights people would be all over...ahhh, adulthood.), and was just so lively compared to the babies. How far we've come!

Once we got in to the room, I was happy to see that I could answer "yes" to most (if not all) of the "Can Jacob do..." questions. I think there were a couple last time that were pretty solid no's, so it was nice to say a lot of emphatic yes's this time around, in spite of all my worrying. The doctor was thrilled with Jacob's progress, and despite his iffy eating, he's moved up to the 25th percentile for weight (22 lbs., 2 oz.). As for height, he's 32 inches tall, which is now more than half my height! That puts him in the 75th percentile, which is great. Even his head size, which I obsessed about a while back, is in the 15th percentile. So, it looks like we have a tall, thin kid...just like his Daddy was. All of his talking and signing put him right on target. And the fact that he puts signs together ("milk, please") is a good indicator. The doctor wasn't concerned about his walking. Eighteen months appears to be the danger zone, and I have no doubt he'll be running circles around me by then.

It was also nice to finally have all good reports on his breathing. He sounded great and he hasn't had his cough in months. Even through two colds, it hasn't come back...and that's a huge relief. Let's hope that Monday's appointment helps him get off of a couple of his meds. That would be such a great feeling for all of us...daycare included!

As a whole he was a very good boy for the entire time we were there, and he enjoyed playing with tongue depressors (even figured out he could stick them in my mouth) so he'd keep his hands occupied while the doctor checked him out. The downside of the appointment came at shot time, as he was due to get two immunizations. He totally freaked out when he got stuck, and cried for quite a while. Poor baby. He actually exhausted himself and he fell asleep on the five minute drive to daycare.

The one thing he didn't get today was flu shot. Apparently with all of the effort that's been made to produce the H1N1 shot, they stopped producing the normal flu vaccine for babies. Lovely. So, they're out for now but she suggested we ask when we go to the specialist on Tuesday, because hospitals get it first so they may have it. They might even have the H1N1 vaccine. Because it's so new it's a little worrisome, but it's made just like the normal flu vaccine so it shouldn't react any differently. We'll see, I guess. Maybe we'll just get the normal one first and wait on H1N1 to see if anything crops up.

So, yeah, it was an interesting morning. Oh, and last night we figured out that Jacob can now drink from a straw! We'd been trying to teach him for a while, and all of a sudden he did it...a lot! That was cool, but boy did he have a full diaper (wet) when we got home from dinner! We're hoping to take him to a pumpkin patch tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have some fun to report this weekend. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Walking Update

Well, I think we can finally say Jacob is walking! Not well, not far, but he's finally starting to do it on his own. Up until the last couple days, he'd ony go a couple steps at a time, aside from a few isolated incidents where he wasn't thinking about it and took a bunch in a row. And he'd only do it if we were standing at his destination, cheering him on. But any other time, without our encouragement, he'd immediately drop into a crawl. Over the last couple days, however, he's started taking steps on his own. They're pretty shaky and slow, but they are steps nonetheless. He's gradually getting better at walking while holding a hand, too. And his increased ability to stand up sturdily is coming in quite handy when we're coming to and leaving daycare and I need to take off my shoes to go in his room or put his jacket on him. It's nice to have free hands for a change!

I find it funny that crawling was almost instantaneous....that once he got it, he very quickly integrated it into his daily life. But walking has been much different. It's been a much slower process with a lot of little steps (no pun intended) in between. It's taken a lot of practice and a lot of encouragement to get where we are now. I think he'll get really good at it really quickly, because he's older and should have some additional balance and dexterity that younger walkers might not have yet. So with any luck, he'll be running around within a week or two! In the meantime, I am totally freaked out about him getting hurt (like, seriously hurt...not just bumps and scratches) because he doesn't have great balance yet and tends to get ahead of himself, so it's already led to some fantastic falls. I'm just worried about him falling on a hard floor or landing on the edges of furniture. Scary stuff.

Interestingly, I've gained a new perspective on the walking thing a bit in the last couple days. I realized that we as adults don't often have to struggle to learn something. Our lives are pretty well set once we're out of school, and only when we tackle a new hobby or, as in my case, a new task at work, do we really get back to that struggle we all had as kids to learn things. Whether it was crawling, walking, reading, long division, or sports, I think at one point or another we probably spent some time on the verge of tears just trying to figure something out for the first time. And I really think that as adults there are few things in the learning realm that really bring us to that point. So while sometimes I can't understand why Jacob isn't more motivated to walk like the kids at daycare, I guess to some degree I do get it. It's hard, and while we want to tackle the challenge head-on, it's not easy and sometimes it takes a lot of small steps to get us to a point where we're comfortable enough to jump in head-first. The last couple days I've been struggling with a project at work. I've had to do a lot of things in Microsoft Excel that I've never done before. The project I'm doing is actually far beyond my current Excel abilities, but with a little help and lots of trips to the help menu, I'm slowly getting there. It's been neat to learn new things, but there have been moments where I'm overwhelmed by the complexity of it all and am sure I'll never figure it out. And while I want to just dive in and make it work, I'm too afraid of getting ahead of myself, spending an hour trying to do something, and find out that it was wrong and I just wasted a lot of time and energy on nothing. So I've chipped away at it, bit by bit, for two days. And I think I've almost cracked it, finally. It's been a mental challenge, and that's just not something I'm used to these days. Work is hard, and being a mom is hard, but actually having to learn something completely new all at once? Yikes. And so, I suppose, that's how it goes with Jacob as well. While I'm sure he'd like to walk, it's probably a scary and difficult prospect. It's something totally new and very difficult. And I'm sure that's why it's taken so long for him to get to this point--lots of fear and not a lot of motivation, and as a result, lots of little baby steps to get him to a point where he's comfortable enough to really jump in and do it all the time. And soon I'm sure he will. It's fun to watch and cheer in the meantime, though :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Best Parts of My Day

You know the saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy?" Bad grammar aside, I can definitely see how that can be the case. Though I tend to wonder when exactly that happens, because right now we're still at the point of, "If Jacob ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." I suppose that's because he's not quite tuned into my moods yet, so if I'm in a bad mood, he doesn't really notice. Craig, on the other hand....well, my apologies to him for when that happens. Anyway, it's really amazing how Jacob's moods can impact everything. And lately I've been noticing the good stuff a lot....thank goodness. Dinner is the one negative usually, and I guess I'm used to that by now. There are certain times of my day that Jacob makes so much better now that he's getting to be more of a little boy. Here's a quick rundown...

1) Getting him up - Usually Jacob wakes up on his own, generally happy and at a decent time. Usually he's up by about 7:45 or 8am on weekdays, and sometimes even lets us sleep as late as 8:30 on weekends. Any of that beats my 6am alarm clock, so that's cool to begin with. But once I get in there, usually Jacob is in such a good mood that any resentment I had from getting out of bed disappears instantly. He will stand up at the crib rail and give me a hug (did I mention that we finally lowered his crib to the lowest mattress setting? He wasn't jumping or anything, but I figured all it would take was one cranky night or a little ingenuity for him to figure it out), or play peek-a-boo through the bars as I open his curtains. He'll hand me his teddy bear or little stuffed Snoopy (thanks cousin Lynn!) for me to hug, and then take them back and dive back on his mattress face first into the animals, or throw them out for me to retrieve. He's usually so smiley and playful...right until I have to take him out and start the less fun portion of our morning, which includes medicines, vitamins, and toothbrushing.

2) Leaving in the morning - While most of this task is a bit on the stressful side--making sure we have everything, getting it all in the car, rushing to daycare so I can get to work on time--Jacob has begun to make it so much fun. His new ability to pucker up for kisses is still so darn cute, and it definitely gets a workout on our way out of the house. This morning I kissed Craig goodbye and Jacob got in on the action with a kiss on my cheek at the same time. That is the best kind of love triangle ;-) And then for the last week or so, every time I put him in his car seat, he'll give me a kiss on the cheek, I give him one back, and then I make faces at him through the window once I close the door. It's so funny and it gets him smiling and laughing, which I love! We have a similar amount of fun when I go to get him out of the seat once we get to day care. I just can't get enough of that smile! Just this morning we had a funny little moment. As I went to unstrap him, he put his hands on his head and said, "Ball!" Yes, Jacob, your head is round like a ball. I don't know if that thought just occurred to him or what, but it was so stinkin' cute.

3) Day care pickup - I generally despise the half hour that preceeds the pickup, because I'm trying to get out of work, battle the traffic, and get to Jacob before 6pm. And even worse, the battleground that is dinnertime follows it. But the little window of time when I walk into the room and see Jacob's face light up is so great. He'll usually crawl right over to me, and in his excitement give me one of his old-fashioned sloppy kisses. Sometimes the fun will carry over to the ride home, and he'll giggle and do other funny things in the backseat. Thank goodness for those mirrors that let you watch your child in your rear view mirror!

4) After dinner - It's always a relief the moment I put Jacob down on the floor after dinner. Many times it's tinged with a feeling of defeat rather than joy, but it's relief nonetheless.

5) When the monitor goes quiet - After a long day with a full evening to do list running through my head, it's always a nice feeling when Jacob finally falls asleep. We thoroughly enjoy listening to some of the funny babbling he does when he's alone in his crib, but knowing he's peacefully asleep is a great feeling. Not only is he getting his rest, but Craig and I have some time to ourselves to use as we please, whether it's getting things done around the house, checking in online, or chatting uninterrupted, or catching up on our TV shows. It's a little throwback to the days before Jacob. And while sometimes I feel guilty enjoying that feeling, I have to remind myself that life was pretty good pre-Jacob, and I'm probably allowed to miss that life just a little bit.

Of course, that's not to say that I don't enjoy every other minute with Jacob. I obviously enjoy my time playing with him and seeing his reactions to things out in the world. Just yesterday we went outside for a few minutes (I had to pick the one and only healthy green pepper I managed to grow this summer) and it was fun watching him in his swing. The other day we met Lori at the mall and while I was finishing up paying at one store, she took Jacob to Dick's, knowing that he'd have a field day pointing out all the balls. At one point I put him down and encouraged him to walk toward me, knowing that I had an entire wall of footballs behind me. And sure enough, he walked 10 steps in a row! Saturday night we went to the Amerks game, and although he was thrown off again when we first got there (he was even weird when we saw his day care teacher), by the end he was loving it! Just seeing him respond to those things is amazing, but when it comes to these five things specifically, I think what makes them so great is how they perk up the most mundane tasks. They're things that I do each day, and in the past they weren't that exciting (and in some cases were downright unpleasant). But now that Jacob is getting so interactive and fun, they're practically a pleasure!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Videos! Finally!

I finally had a chance to get a new card for my camera and I finally remembered to grab the camera at times when Jacob was happy and active. Thank goodness. Below are a couple fun videos of his latest exploits. The first is him zooming around the house with his little walking toy. Seeing him do stuff like this makes me think he's more than ready to walk, but then I see that he still doesn't trust his balance and we may have a long way to go. We shall see.

video

I mentioned recently that Jacob loves ice cream cones...even without the ice cream. Here he is enjoying one without the ice cream. Notice how he sticks the whole top in his mouth. I would have taken more but this is when my data card filled up. We had a busy summer with a lot of picture taking, apparently, and I'm always hesitant to delete pics off my camera before I've printed them, or at least burned them to a CD. Anyway, enjoy what little I did get. The smile near the end is priceless :)

video

Hopefully more to come soon. We're venturing to the Amerks' home opener tonight, and hopefully out for some shopping before that. It's a beautiful day so I'm hoping we have time for a wagon ride, too. We'll see how things go post-nap. He was cranky and sleepy when we were trying to eat lunch (same time as at daycare, go figure) so he's down now and will have to finish lunch later. I love weekends but sometimes I wonder if he's in too good of a schedule during the week and we get the worst of him when he's off that schedule on the weekend. Ugh. I try to keep it the same, but obviously it still has to be at least a little different. Apparently at this age, peer pressure can be a wonderful thing. Oh well. Happy Saturday!