Friday, July 30, 2010

Vacation?

Yesterday when I was writing up my post I was looking back in the archives to reference a couple things I blogged about last year. I couldn't help but smile a bit reading back on our summer vacation last year. It was just a "staycation", other than our short trips to Buffalo and Pittsburgh. We crammed a lot into that week, from visits to the Corning Museum of Glass and Bills' training camp, to time with family and lots of wagon rides. We had a great time in Pittsburgh and did our best to make the most of the time off of work that we could spend together as a family.

It's almost that time of year again, and I have yet to lock in my vacation days. Craig's calf injury sort of put things on hold, since we were hoping our vacation time would include another trip to Pittsburgh for another ball game and a couple activities we missed out on last year. However, with him unable to walk comfortably, it didn't really make sense to do the full 5+ hour drive to Pittsburgh when we would be limited in our activities. Time is ticking down, though, and we both need a break. We're determined to try to get to Pittsburgh in a few weeks for a cool giveaway at the Pirates game, and now that Craig's going to therapy for his calf, hopefully he'll be a bit more mobile by then. No guarantees, but I think we can somehow make it work, even if it means a lot of breaks on benches or leaving Craig in one spot while Jacob and I explore a little more deeply. He'll have his Blackberry to keep him company, if nothing else. Call me insensitive, but I refuse to watch an entire summer go by without having a little adventure here and there. I like going places and seeing new things and finding cool photo ops. It's nice to get a little break from the day-to-day busyness and have the choice to rest or spice things up with a little trip or some other unusual outing.

Last year as we were gearing up for vacation, I had a long list of "to dos" prepared for the week. I looked at that week as our one shot to give Jacob the full summer experience. When I was a kid I had plenty of opportunities to do fun things, mostly because my mom stayed home until I was eight (and part time after that), and beyond that I had an active group of family members (namely two aunts, an uncle and a grandmother) that liked to go out and do things, be it visiting a place like Artpark (cool spot in Lewiston, NY that always had crafty things going on), hitting up a summer food/ice cream joint, or just going out shopping. Doing that stuff during the summer really seemed special because it was a rarity during the school year. As a very little kid, I spent a lot of time outside on the swing set or in the sandbox or kiddie pool, and I feel like Jacob's time doing those things is so limited. He gets a completely different experience at daycare, of course, and it has its own merits, I'm sure, but having a week to spend with Mommy and Daddy doing different things has to be special. But the thing is, this year I'm feeling a little stumped. Pittsburgh could take up 2-3 days, but beyond that, I'm not sure what we should be doing.

The one thing I do have on the list at the moment is mini golf. Jacob plays hockey much like he would putt, and for some reason he's been mentioning golf a bit lately. He sees Craig's clubs in the garage and knows what golf is, and we've actually been wanting to take him mini-golfing for a while. However, as a life-long serious mini-golfer (seriously--I hate when people cheat or screw around...chalk it up to being the child of golfers who took a trip to Putt-Putt more seriously than most), the last thing I want to do is be one of "those people" that lets their too-young child terrorize the course. That means that busy Fridays and weekends are out. So, when we're off during the day, I think we'll have a better shot at a less busy course. There's one a few minutes from our house, and there's one classic one that I'd love to try that could potentially be less busy (but I'm not sure--good excuse to try it, though). It could either be really fun(ny) or really frustrating, but I think Jacob will enjoy it either way.

But beyond that, I'm just not sure. We could hit up Bills training camp again, go to the zoo (or even the Buffalo Zoo), swim in our pool (assuming it's ever not green again), make a return visit to the spray park, or make our first visit to Chuck E. Cheese. I'd like to hit up Seabreeze, our local amusement park, but I think it will be better next year when Jacob is taller and can ride more rides. He's got about 2-4 inches to go before he's tall enough to ride more of the kiddie rides. If Craig has his way, he'll want to go to the drive-in one night. As much as I love the one drive-in we visit periodically, it's a long haul and I'm not sure I want to do the drive-in thing with Jacob again for a while. Part of me thinks we should do a "date day" with just Craig and me, but again, I'm not feeling particularly drawn to any specific activities to make it a priority (though after last year's vacation, I swore we'd have to do it this year). I'm sure there are things to do, but right now I'm just sort of stumped. Maybe finally head to the public market? Seek out the best playgrounds in town? Finally let Jacob try bounce houses and inflatable slides at one of those places? Finally get my bike back in riding shape and ride by myself? I suppose the possibilities are endless and I'll just have to throw a bunch against the wall and see what sticks. Vacation can't be a bad thing, no matter what!

In other news, in light of Jacob's recent bumps and bruises, I'm finding myself hesitating as I stare at the permission slip from daycare asking if Jacob can use the "moon bounce" at this carnival next Friday. It's a carnival that's open to the public, I think put on by the church whose building the daycare uses. Daycare is visiting it, and for $3 Jacob can have fun in the moon bounce. The money isn't really an issue as it's all for a good cause. I'd like Jacob to be able to do something fun with his friends, but after the playground incident on Tuesday and my realization that maybe he's just extra clumsy, I'm just not sure what to do. Do I give in and risk another incident? Or do I hold off since I won't be there to supervise and I know he's accident-prone? Hmmm. I did find out this morning that Jacob is officially "moving up" at daycare on Monday. He'll finally, officially be in the two-year-old room. He'll be reunited with some old friends and lose out on a few current ones (for a while--I assume some will move up soon, if not at the same time), though the two rooms tend to do a lot together so he'll still see everyone. The big change is that the two-year-olds go on field trips. That will be cool, though scary for me since I won't always be there to keep an eye on him. Hard to believe he'll be in his fifth level of daycare since he started. Crazy. My little boy is growing up!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Photo Wednesday, a.k.a. Weekend Wrapup

So I'm a little late on my usual weekend update, but it's been an odd week. I was off work on Monday because I was feeling very under the weather on Sunday night. We had two parties to attend on Sunday, which meant two parties' worth of yummy food, and I think the sheer volume and general combination of it all was not a good thing. I was feeling very full and just blah by bedtime (after a LONG day and a late drive home), at which point my body decided to get rid of a lot of it in a hurry. I was feeling gross enough that I actually sped up the process a little more. Maybe I didn't have a choice in that matter--hard to tell--but I certainly didn't do anything to prevent it. While all of this was going on, Jacob was wide awake and determined to sleep in our bed. While I was bedridden and taking frequent trips to the bathroom, Craig was hobbling down the hallway to calm Jacob. Eventually Jacob did end up in our bed, but he was awake and restless until 2am (nothing like a kick to the stomach when you're already feeling gross) and eventually he did have to go back to his crib so all of us could sleep. I stayed home in the morning, both because I was tired and also because I wanted to regain my strength and make sure that the digestive evacuation wasn't something more. I felt fine stomach-wise, just tired, and kept myself busy most of the day running errands. Yesterday I worked a half day before our office closed for our annual picnic, which I blogged about last night. So, it's been a weird week.

Just a few pictures to share from the last week or so. We went to Craig's softball game last Tuesday. We went to watch, of course, since Craig can't play and misses the camaraderie. Jacob is always up for a baseball game, too, and it was a nice night and the game was at a good time. Jacob didn't watch much of the game but he and Craig did play ball a bit. I played, too, when Craig's leg got tired. Here's Jacob doing his thing, before he ran the bases and ended up quite dusty...

On Friday we braved the rain and went to the Red Wings game because there was a celebrity softball game pregame to support a former Amerk, our friend and former co-worker, Craig Charron, in his battle against stomach cancer. Craig would have played in the game if not for his injury, so that was a bit of a bummer, but we had a good time. This is the second event we've gone to for the cause (the first being a celebrity bartending event a month ago), and it's been cool to see real NHL players (Rochester natives Brian Gionta and Ryan Callahan, along with Rochester resident and former Amerk Scott Nichol) taking part in these events. Anyway, we ended up not staying too long because we had to pack for the weekend and it was ridiculously, disgustingly humid that night. But we did stay long enough to venture up to the suite where some of the celebrity softball players were hanging out--mostly media and 80s-era Amerks. I captured a couple cute shots of Jacob while we were in the seats outside the suite.

How's this for intensity? This is his game face when we go to sporting events...


Showing me his glove...

Big smiles!

I was so exhausted by the end of the evening--between the heat and whatever else--that I decided we should leave that night, no matter how late it was. It just seemed easier to pack everything at once and get on the road, rather than packing anything we wouldn't need for the morning, then having to pack the rest the next morning in the middle of our usual morning routine AND packing the big stuff. Friday night just seemed easier. Of course, after a rough night of sleep once we got to NT, I'm not sure it was, but at the time it just seemed necessary. Oh, well. Saturday Jacob spent a good chunk of the day with Craig and my dad so my mom and I could go, uninterrupted, to the Canal Fest Craft Show, an annual summer highlight. We had a nice long walk, ran into plenty of people we knew, and had a good time. After dinner, we headed out to Hamburg. Jacob and I were going to my family reunion the next day, which is just about 20 minutes from Craig's parents' house, and later Sunday was our nephew's birthday party.

Sunday started out rainy, but it cleared up in time for the reunion festivities. It's held every year at Camp Pioneer, a Lutheran camp on the shores of Lake Erie. I have many fond memories of playing on the beach there every year, getting countless sunburns (yeah, I know, but it was my best shot at color each year), and walking the beach picking up beach glass (you know, broken glass fragments smoothed by sand and water). I even went there for a week of camp when I was 13, and to a few weekend retreats in college. Mostly good memories, and I'm trying to make it a point to bring Jacob there each year so he gets to have the same fun I did. We went last year, but the weather didn't cooperate. This year I was so relieved when the rain stopped and it turned into a beautiful day. The beach even dried out nicely. While we waited for lunch, Jacob kept all hands on deck with his own mini-baseball game. Here he is pitching to my dad. He was cracking everyone up with his pitching style. I have video of it but I think I forgot to download it this time. Someday soon...


We headed down to the beach after lunch and ended up having a good time. It's a horribly rocky beach--in fact, I have some random memory of getting a stone embedded in my foot there, possibly on a field trip in, like, kindergarten--and even though I forgot Jacob's beach shoes, we had fun playing in the sand and surf. Here's Jacob throwing a rock (surprise)...

...And preparing to throw a rock...
Jacob and I actually sat right on the shore with the waves lapping up around us for a long time. He threw rocks, put them in a bucket, and giggled when the big waves rolled in. It took me back to my childhood a bit, and I loved that I could share that with him. We had a good time. Of course, like any parent, I was more than relieved to pack up our stuff, survive the changing and cleanup to get out of our bathing suits and back into dry clothes, and head out. Of course, instead of an hour drive home like when I was a kid (and I was riding back then!), we had a short drive, a birthday party, and then an hour and a half drive home. Ugh. And little did I know, but I had a long night of illness and sleeplessness to contend with too!

As usual, Jacob was all over the place at the birthday party, but he seemed to play independently or with the other kids a little better than before. He could have gone on the big inflatable slip-n-slide outside, too, but quite frankly, he was content and it didn't seem worth it to go through the hassle of doing the bathing suit thing again. Once in a day is enough :) The party was nice, but it was good to get on the road and head for home. I was beat. The ride was a little torturous--I was tired and it felt long--but thankfully (?) I had my sick day to recover a bit from it all.

It was a fun weekend, and just another blip in a very busy stretch of weekends for us. This weekend we have a reunion in NT on Saturday and a charity hockey game on Sunday. We're still trying to plan the following weekend, and finalizing plans for the weekends after that, but we know they're going to be busy. We have to work on vacation time in there, too. More on that to come...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Helicopter Parenting

I hear this phrase a lot nowadays, though it's mostly associated with older kids whose parents integrate themselves into every facet of their kids' lives, to the point that their kids never take any initiative to do things for themselves because their parents are always there to do it for them. Parents should be advocates for their kids, of course, but not to the degree that they discourage their kids from doing the tough stuff or where they support their kids in a situation where they shouldn't be supported (like when they have a showdown with a teacher and the kid is truly the problem). It's definitely a fine line, or at least, I'm sure it's finer when you're in the midst of a situation. But does the term apply to little kids? Toddlers? I'm sure to some degree it does. It may manifest itself in managing your kids' interactions with other people or what they eat or how they play. I tend to feel like I'm on the border of helicoptering, but I'm just not sure where the line is between helping Jacob along and doing too much.

Today was one of those days when I felt defeated by parenthood. My office picnic was today, and it all started out innocently enough. I headed to Jacob's daycare a little before 1pm to pick him up and take him to the picnic. Craig had to work, so it was just me and the little man. I knew the pickup time was right in the middle of his nap. I even considered letting him stay at daycare today, because he's got a cold and I hated the thought of disrupting his sleep yet again. It's been a rough week or two of sleeping, between late weekend nights, odd naptimes, sickness, and an apparently developing fear of the dark. He finally got a good night's sleep last night despite a nasty cold, and I half-considered just leaving him at daycare so he could have a normal day and a full nap. However, peer pressure did me in and I figured having a nice day with mommy was just as good as a good nap. And at first, it all seemed to be going well. I got to daycare and he was asleep, and I managed to get him up, in the car, and strapped in without waking him up. He slept the whole trip across town (probably 25 min.), and only woke up once we got there. He was in a good mood once he woke up, but the second he started looking around, I knew I was in trouble. The park we were at had sports fields surrounding it, and Jacob noticed the soccer nets immediately. He wouldn't stop talking about it, in fact, and it only got worse. Jacob squirmed all over the place, trying to get out of my arms and run for the exits so he could go play baseball or soccer or whatever. Shortly after we got there it was time to eat, but I knew he already had lunch at daycare so I figured he wouldn't be very interested. He snacked, but his attention span was short. I spent most of the day fighting him, actually. He wanted to play baseball, but there was no ball to be found so I tried to direct him to the bouncy house (a little one). While he was fighting me on that, some bigger kids started playing in the inflatable. Just then he decided he wanted to, too, but the kids were playing pretty rough so I tried directing him elsewhere. Ugh. Eventually he got to play in that, but then it was off to other things. We finally ended up on the playground. It was like every other playground out there, with a big apparatus full of various slides and climbing areas. He liked playing on the bridge (though he was very tentative on it) and did go down one slide (with me--he was afraid the slide was hot), but he lost interest in that soon enough. He carried around a baseball bat (not his) most of the time we were there. And you know, I consciously didn't bring his full assortment of equipment because I figured 1) I'm only one person and I didn't want to carry that much stuff) and 2) I figured there'd be enough other stuff going on that he wouldn't need it. But no, he was as focused on sports as ever. He was constantly running away from me, too. Needless to say, it was exhausting and frustrating. And I hardly got a chance to talk to anyone from my office, because I was constantly running after him and making sure he wasn't getting into any trouble.

After dessert, we headed back to the playground. A lot of kids were playing on it by then, and Jacob joined in. Most kids were a little bigger than him, but there was one that was smaller. Jacob insisted on taking the baseball bat with him, and while he was up on one of the platforms at the end of the bridge, the littler kid tried to take it from him. Jacob pulled it back and happened to step back in the process. Well, this happened to be one of the areas that didn't have anything penning him in--one side was just an open spot from which to jump from, I guess, about four feet up. Why they make those things like that, I don't know. I understand that these things are generally for older kids, but this one had a couple little slides and some other things that would appeal to younger kids, so why they make some of them so easy for kids to walk off of, I don't know. I was a couple feet away when it happened and couldn't get to him in time. He fell off the platform in a heap. I can't remember quite how he landed, but I think it was mostly on his back and side, with most of his body hitting the ground at the same time. It was a big drop and I pretty much had a mini-heart attack when it happened. Worst. Feeling. Ever. I rushed over to him and scooped him up. The way he fell it didn't appear he would have broken any bones, but you never know. He was crying hysterically (and believe me, I wanted to be, too) and I rushed him over to a shady area to assess the situation. I could see one little bloody spot on his cheek, and then took off his sunglasses to find a slightly worse one where they dug into his face a bit. But that was all I could find. He was crying too hard to find out if anything else hurt, so eventually I just took him into the lodge to clean him up, change his diaper and give him a good once-over. I figured a cold drink and some air conditioning might help, too. He cried for quite a while, but as usual, once he stopped, he was almost immediately back to normal. He was a little whinier for the rest of the time there, and the running and battling continued. At least it was good evidence that he wasn't hurt badly, since he seemed completely back to normal. We tried to keep things low key for the rest of the time, though. I was pretty relieved to get out of there and get home.

So, now, let's examine the situation. I know that I tend to helicopter a bit under normal circumstances. I'd rather help feed Jacob something messy, rather than have to deal with clothing changes and stain removal. I know he can feed himself with varying degrees of success, but in certain circumstances (like away from home or with foods that can be tough to chew), I tend to be a little more hands-on. I tend to spend a lot of time running after Jacob, because he gets into trouble far too easily and tends to be a little clumsy. Sometimes I see other parents letting their little kids run amok, and I feel like I'm one of "those parents" that never lets their kid do anything on their own. I'm totally the parent that's up on the playground equipment and sliding down the slide with him, or holding his hand down every flight of stairs, or hovering when he climbs on something. When we were at the spray park, I was never more than a couple feet away because things were wet and Jacob doesn't know his own limits. But other people were letting their little kids run free and I totally felt like an overprotective hoverer. Kids fall, kids get hurt, and kids heal. I get it. And if I don't let him run and fall, he'll never learn. But what if he runs and falls and REALLY gets hurt? Today was immensely scary. And it happened to be one of the few moments I was letting him run and play on his own. And look what happened. Part of me feels validated, that this proved that I have a reason to constantly hover, and the other part of me feels like a schmuck because I didn't follow my instincts and protect my child. He could have broken bones or gotten a concussion, and I should have been there to stop it. I suppose every kid is different, and I'm well aware that Jacob is clumsy. As athletic as he is when he's swinging a bat or lacrosse stick, or kicking or throwing a ball, he can't walk through obstacles at all. He never watches where he's walking or stepping. He'll look one way and walk another, or step on every toy in his path, or walk into opening doors or get thrown off balance by a crack in the sidewalk. And inevitably, he crashes into something. I must have kissed at least five boo-boos on Sunday alone, and I don't think that's counting the nasty brushburn he got on his chin when he fell while running. We were at a family reunion (weekend update to come soon) and I was retrieving stuff from the car while my mom was playing with him. When I got back he had a nasty scrape on his chin but was already happily running around again. When I got to daycare yesterday, he was getting iced down after losing his balance in the hallway and bumping his head. Then today happened. So maybe I should just accept that I know my kid best and his clumsiness dictates that I stick close by. We don't exactly have playdates with kids his own age very often, so I'm not even sure at what age it's normal to let your kid go a bit. And I swear that in almost every scenario we're in, there's never a kid his age. There's always ones just a little older or a little younger, and at this age even a few months makes a big difference. The big ones are just a little more coordinated and daring, and the younger ones worry me because Jacob can be a little hardcore with his sports and those kids would never know what hit them if Jacob's baseball swing went a little off-target. The whole thing just makes me uncomfortable.

So, yeah, today sorta sucked. I constantly felt like I was chasing down and trying to direct Jacob out of trouble (or at least, prevent him from bothering other people), and then the one time I tried to lay off, he fell and could have seriously hurt himself. It was an exhausting day and I didn't get to hang out with my co-workers at all. Oh, and then Craig had to work late. Any other day would have been one thing, but I was so mentally exhausted from all of this that I was desperately in need of some me-time to decompress (i.e., blog about it). Fortunately, Jacob ate his dinner pretty well and I filled the evening with a wagon ride and some low key outdoor play. He hasn't been wanting to take wagon rides lately, but I managed to convince him tonight. I found it sad that it was the first time all summer (actually, first time since we moved) that I had been able to take him on a wagon ride or walk of any kind. It's only almost August. Ugh. Where has this summer gone? Anyway, Jacob's face looks like he's gone a couple rounds with a baby Mike Tyson, and I'm still not feeling any better about the events of today. I keep hearing how boys are so much harder at this age, how girls just sit and play and boys never stop moving. It's no wonder I keep longing for baby #2 in hopes that it's a girl. Dolls and tea parties I can do...but this boy stuff? I'm not so sure I'm cut out for it. Not much choice, of course, but right now, it's really, really hard.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why?

All of a sudden, we've entered the "Why?" phase. Ugh. Jacob will literally ask "Why?" five times in a row. And yes, we indulge him by trying to give a reasonable answer each time. I generally don't mind giving him an answer each time because I figure it will only help his language development and will help him understand cause and effect with a lot of things, but there's a point at which it gets ridiculous. And truly, I'm not sure he understands what he's doing. I don't know if he picked it up somewhere and thought it was funny, or if he really gets that there's a reason for things and he wants to understand why. But some of the things he asks about aren't really things you can answer "why" about, so I'm not sure if he's just doing it to be funny, or if he just doesn't comprehend that not everything has a specific cause and effect. A typical interaction is as follows:

Jacob: "Daddy play baseball?"
Us: "No, Daddy can't play baseball."
Jacob: "Why?"
Us: "Because it will hurt Daddy's leg"
Jacob: "Why?"
Us: "Because Daddy has a boo-boo."
Jacob: "Why?"
Us: "Because he hurt himself playing softball."
Jacob: "Why?"
Us: "Because Daddy's getting old."
Jacob: "Why?"
Us: [Perplexed silence] "Ummm, because he is?"

So, yeah, eventually it gets to a point where you don't have an answer. Usually we get there more quickly than that, but that's generally how it goes. I try to be patient because I know it's all just a process of learning, but sometimes it's not easy! I knew this phase was coming, but hoped we'd avoid it. Oh, well.

Let's see...what else is new? Jacob is growing up so much these days. He talks non-stop sometimes, even if it isn't about anything in particular. He repeats himself a lot, which I hope is normal. Sometimes he's just downright obsessive, talking about things long after I figure other kids would have moved on to something else. Unfortunately, that trait also holds true for many tantrums, and he will cry and carry on about the same thing for quite a while. We're definitely finding it challenging to hold our ground on some things when the tantrum has gone on for so long, but it's a fine line between giving in and restoring sanity. We've been having some trouble at bedtime lately, which is partly due to our weekends being off schedule and partly due to having some evening activities that led to Jacob falling asleep on the way home, just before or right around bedtime. He'll sleep through getting his PJs on and then suddenly wake up, and then he'll be awake for an hour or more beyond that. It's led to some awfully late nights for him, and quite a bit of frustration for us. We'll be up in his room numerous times--and that's probably about half as often as we could be in there based on how he'll carry on sometimes. Craig wants to give in more than me. I'm constantly thinking about how I don't want him to get used to having us come in whenever he calls (he's already figured out the drink of water trick and apparently keeps very good track of the dozen stuffed animals that normally live in his crib, asking for whoever's missing), but I think Craig sees visits to his room as another opportunity to calm him down for good and get us some peace for the night. Sometimes I win, sometimes he does. Jacob usually sleeps through pretty well, though periodically will call out in the middle of the night. But it's rare that we're up for long, if at all. But evenings have been tough. I guess it just points to the importance of a schedule.

He's doing a little better with his eating these days, as long as he likes what he's been given. He ate a big bowl of mac and cheese for lunch the other day, the piece and a half of pizza last Friday, and a good sized bowl of spaghetti on Monday. I don't know if it's anything near what his peers might be eating, but I know our sense of portion sizes are warped these days so I'm guessing it's not as bad as it seems. He's growing, so he's eating somewhere! He loves fruit and will generally eat all of what I give him--grapes, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries--so it's nice to know he's at least getting something healthy with meals. He's still a little timid with anything he doesn't recognize, but we'll get there. I'm trying to make sure I'm not doing the "short order cook" thing, but sometimes it's a tough call when you want to make sure your kid eats. There's always bread, cheese and fruit!

He's a challenge sometimes, that's for sure, but who can resist that sweet smile?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thinking Back...and Ahead...

A friend of mine had a baby today. It's an old friend, one I don't see often. A former co-worker, actually. Thinking of her as a mom is admittedly a bit of a switch for me, since the last time I hung out with her at length was back in her prime party days. But we all grow up and many of us take this route in life--marriage, house, kids--and where we were before doesn't generally matter anymore as long as we're happy and comfortable with our choices. I'm sure there are people from previous eras of my life that have a hard time thinking of me as a wife and mother, either because they still think of me as a little girl or because some interaction with me made me seem particularly un-mother-like. I couldn't be happier for her, that she's happily married, no longer in sports (and as a parent, that's truly a good thing, regardless of passion!), and now, a mother. As hard as this job is, it's one of the best. Recently Jacob's been really willing to hug and give kisses (if you catch him at the right moment), and just this morning I got a fantastic hug that just made my day.

Anyway, following her in the last few weeks on Facebook has been interesting, and in many ways it has mirrored what I experience following pregnancy bloggers, primarily the ones featured on parenting.com. I've mentioned these blogs before, and they're really quite enjoyable as a parent. One of the pregnancy bloggers recently had her baby, and she was over a week overdue so there was a LOT of buildup to her delivery. All of that buildup left a time of time for pre-delivery ponderings, with many of the same thoughts I remember having. Although, my early delivery didn't leave a lot of time for serious wistful ponderings, but even if I never blogged about them or got a good "last _fill-in-the-blank-non-parenthood-activity-here_", I probably thought about them at one point or another. I've blogged about it before, that sweet time pre-delivery where you have all of the excitement and anticipation, but none of the responsibility and stress and sleep deprivation. I suppose it's good that we all go into first-time parenthood relatively clueless. I mean, we all know it's going to be hard and stressful and exhausting, but you don't truly know until you're in the midst of it. And even then you're too preoccupied and tired to really think about it. You just forge ahead, doing what you can. And once you've finally emerged from it (or at least from the deepest depths), it's an interesting exercise to look back. I look at other people's baby experiences and at Jacob's early baby pictures and know I missed opportunities or didn't savor the little moments nearly enough. We all look at new parents and think of what an exciting time it is for them. And truly, it is. It's immensely special and unique. But due to the reasons I listed above, I almost don't think it's possible to step outside of the situation and take the time in the moment to truly savor it and realize just how significant it is. Maybe I'm just a unique case because I didn't have the normal first week with my baby. We were separated more than most parents and babies are, and the stress of Jacob's illness probably took some of the joy out of it. Those special early weeks home were spent playing catch-up and figuring things out and worrying far too much about screwing up, rather than just being able to sit and enjoy. Such is life for new parents, I suppose, but I guess it takes looking at other new parents to realize what you may have missed out on. But then again, as outsiders you're not having to survive sleep deprivation and its related mentally taxing symptoms, nor do you have to coordinate a baby's feeding and sleeping schedules, so it's easy to see just the simple moments...and having been there, know how fleeting they really are.

Another blogger on the Parenting site had a great point today. She's preparing for baby #2 and has realized how she needs to enjoy her time with her two-year-old daughter before her son arrives. She likens the current period to the time before she had her first, where she should have been making more of a conscious effort to savor the freedom she had. Instead of spending all of her time and energy thinking about the baby she was about to have, she forgot to enjoy her time without the baby, getting in last bits of what she referred to as "irresponsible" behavior like going on a long vacation, going to more movies, going to bed late to sleep late, just because she could. So, this time around, she's trying to focus on this time with her little girl while it's just her as the center of attention. She's trying to move at her daughter's pace, and savor the time that they have left of exclusive mommy-daughter time. I think she says it beautifully here:

"I don’t know if I’d have been as mindful or as grateful of this last summer
together if I weren’t aware, all the time, of a very different future we’re
travelling toward. It’s nice to see the joy ahead and appreciate the joy behind,
but for right now it’s even better to spend these lazy summer days living
absolutely in the present—and loving every minute."


She makes a very good point, and as we're debating the timing of baby #2, I keep trying to remind myself of all of the things I should be doing right now before that's even a reality--spending more time with Jacob, figuring out the logistics of potentially working part time, taking down the border in Jacob's future bedroom and pondering new carpet, etc. There's no rush, I guess, but before I get all caught up in what could be, I suppose there's plenty to take care of in the present. So many things will change, and I suppose if I think of them all right now, we might never get to baby #2. Sometimes you just have to go with it, and figure it out along the way. I do hope to enjoy things more the second time around--both before and after--but I think, much like the blogger above, I should start by living more in the present now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Full House

We had a pretty darn good weekend. Well, maybe yesterday could have used a boost, but Friday and Saturday were pretty fantastic. We were playing host to a bunch of family, finally putting to the test our claim that our house could hold a lot of people. My uncle's school (he's a principal) was holding a golf tournament on Saturday, and lots of NT-based family was coming in for it.

My cousin Todd's family hadn't been able to come to Jacob's birthday party, so they hadn't yet seen the house. They wanted to come see it and I offered to let them stay overnight, knowing that if they came we'd probably have a few pops and hang out late-ish (considering how early they'd have to get up). My parents were also coming in, meaning that the guest room was booked and Todd's family (including his wife, Cathy, and their kids, Jaxon (8) and Jordan (6) would be able to set up shop throughout the basement, with an air mattress and two couches at their disposal. So, Friday night everyone came in around dinner time. The kids got right to work in the pool (which, at the time was cloudy and in a precarious state considering the amount of algae I had scrubbed off the bottom earlier in the week--it is now firmly green and we're not sure what to do...back to the pool store, I guess) and I set about ordering pizza for dinner before I, too, joined in for a swim. Cloudy or not, the water was warm and relatively pleasant. The levels were fine (slightly low alkalinity & pH, for you pool folks), so I wasn't too worried about everyone swimming. After all, as Cathy said, the kids swim in the Erie Canal and they're fine. And I grew up swimming in dirty Lake Erie and I'm okay too. As long as nothing along the chemical burn-line was possible, I wasn't concerned. Now, of course, it's really green so I think we're taking a pool break. Anyway...We had a lovely dinner on the patio. Jacob ate like a champ (a piece and a half of pizza and lots of salt and vinegar chips!), the weather was hot but perfect, and the kids played happily for quite a while.

All was well until Jacob ventured back to his swingset for some "alone time" and came back with a giant wet mark on his overalls. Sure enough, he had some serious diarrhea in there. It was one of the nastiest cleanups I've had to do in a long time. I even gave him a bath. It was a bizarre throwback to the days of the daily diaper blowouts, but a much larger, stinkier proposition! Once clean, we headed back downstairs for s'mores! A few years ago my mom bought me a s'mores set from the "Attic Treasures" (read: garage sale) section of the church bazaar. It was practically new (if not brand new) and is actually pretty nifty. It comes with a little metal canister that holds a sterno can (you know, like you put under a chafing dish). It's got a little grate on top. It sits on a wooden turntable with spots for graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmellows, and comes with half a dozen skewers to hold your roasting marshmellow. It's neat because it's not quite as potent as a campfire (and not nearly as dangerous or smelly) so you can customize your marshmellow a little more easily. We all enjoyed some s'mores and finally the kids headed off to bed--first Jacob, and then the other two. The six of us remaining (Craig and me, Todd and Cathy, and my parents) all enjoyed the lovely evening.

Might I just interject here about how much I love our house? There are just so many things that I love about it, and I'm convinced over and over that we were meant to have this house. Sometimes I still pinch myself that it's ours. I finally have a kitchen I love, we have plenty of space in the living room for Jacob to play, we have a lovely dining room, three good-sized bedrooms, a non-purple bathroom, a dedicated office, and an extra family room downstairs that I have a feeling will get more use as our family grows and changes. The pool and general outdoors space can be a bit of a handful, but assuming we figure out how to get it under control, it is a lovely and amazing space. We remarked while we were sitting out that night that we probably have officially used our backyard more in these past few months than we did during the entire 4-1/2 years at the other house. When I sat in that backyard I mostly just got depressed about how much crap needed to be done to it--patchy grass, lumpy ground, cracked patio, horrific shed, little attractive landscaping, out of control weeds, some bent siding, and a crumbling outer shell of our foundation (nothing structural--just decorative). I just didn't like it. I think the only bright spots of that yard were my vegetable garden box (which stunk last year) and Jacob's swing. Our yard now is full of attractive landscaping, has a beautiful patio area, the pool (which, when it's not green and when the weather is 90, is a great thing), a full swing set, and plenty of yard to play in. It has a blackberry plant hidden in the back (yum!) and tons of gorgeous flowers for me to admire. This one's a lot of work, but has a great payback. It was total bliss sitting in that backyard, looking up at the stars and the wooded atmosphere, feeling like we were in the country but knowing we were within walking distance of one of the busiest streets in Rochester. Kinda cool. And it was nice just chatting with adults and having a couple beverages, knowing that my bed was directly upstairs waiting for me, no drive needed. Definitely makes me wish this house was located closer to family, but you can't have it all, I guess.

The funniest thing about having all of these people over is that they were all gone (except one) by the time I got out of bed the next morning. Everyone except Jordan was up and out before 7am, and I woke up shortly thereafter to scope out her status. Lori had come over some time in between and was waiting patiently for her niece to wake up so she could take her back to her grandparents' house. Since all was well, I went back to bed and Jacob let us sleep in until about 9am. Woohoo! Once we were up and about, I checked back in with Lori because I knew the girls (my Aunt Lynne, Lori, Jordan and Anna, my cousin three-year-old--Chris was also golfing) were going to a spray park nearby. They were already there so Jacob and I hustled to get ready and meet them. It's practically around the corner from us (well, ok, a couple towns and about 10 minutes--but seriously, I only had to take a handful of roads to get there) but we had never been there. I think I knew it existed, but had no idea it was so close and so cool! And seeing as how it was well over 80 degrees by 11am, it was the perfect day for it!

Here's Jacob and Jordan in Jacob's favorite spot--playing with the whale's blowhole!
Here's a view of the other section. The rainbow misted, the flower rained down water, the blue thing on the left dropped streams and bucketfuls, and various spots in the concrete had streams and sprays in all different patterns. Very cool!
Back on the whale!

Playground break! This playground was awesome, and it was nice having Jacob in watershoes, because he could seamlessly go from the water to the playground and back. Much easier than a pool, where you're drenched every time you get out.

Best picture of the day, when Jacob was climbing in this rock wall section of the playground. The rock wall was tough, but there were holes to crawl through and ladders to climb!
Back to the whale, climbing up his back this time. He did this a lot. I think it's sort of supposed to be a slide, too, but it's not very slippery despite the stream of water running down it. It's this rocky concrete sort of surface. Not exactly smooth. And thank goodness, since Jacob liked doing this!

On to the seal!

As a whole, Jacob seemed to like the animal section a lot better than the other section. I think the big sprays and streams of water freaked him out a bit. Not surprising, since I've never been a big fan of getting water dumped on my head either. I think he'll get braver, though. He did like sticking his hands in it, and it's only a matter of time before he thinks the rest of his body might like it too! We were there for over an hour, and he had a blast! We finished up with a change of clothes and a drink and snack...

I struggled to keep him awake on the way home, but we made it. We had lunch and he headed off (begrudgingly, believe it or not) to a nap. By the time he woke up, my parents were back from golf and shortly after Lori arrived with Jax and Jordan, ready for another swim. It was another lovely afternoon! It was sad to see everyone go, but we went out for a nice dinner and a visit to the pet store (just to see the fish and kitties, mostly, though the bored employee let Jacob pet a turtle and two kitties!).
Sunday was a little blah in general. We stayed in bed late enough that we had to go to late church. Jacob was pretty good for the third straight week in the actual church (not the family room--though thank goodness we've had very nice people next to us every time), but that schedule never works out as well for us as the earlier service. My entire life I always bemoaned getting up for 8am church. My parents insisted it was better than the 10:30 service, though, because by the time 10:30 is over, your day is half over. I sort of get it now. Don't get me wrong, I will never go to church at 8am ever again, because I like sleeping and I like having time to sleep AND get ready, but 11:15 is just too late now that we have a kid, because by the time you go to church and do lunch and naptime, you only have like, two or three hours until the world shuts down at 6pm on Sunday. We did manage to cram grocery shopping, Walmart, dinner and playtime into the rest of our Sunday post-nap, and capped it off with some Big Brother on TV (ahh, my summer guilty pleasure) and a relatively early bedtime. A good, full weekend in all, considering we originally thought we'd be out of town for most of it! Alas, the party was moved to next weekend, so instead of a partial weekend in Buffalo, we've got a full set of plans. Should be fun!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Working Motherhood

I've talked about this subject numerous times before, but it keeps coming up in my mind more and more recently now that we're counting down to the time when we figured we'd be trying for #2. I thought this would be such an easy decision, and I still think ultimately that we'll have another baby, but I'm just not sure about the timing at this point, I guess. There's so much more to consider than I thought there would be.

Money is probably first and foremost, shallow as that may seem. But the reality of spending $20,000 in child care is staggering. That's more than a quarter of our total income, more than we spend on our house, and maybe even our cars on top of that. I just don't trust (cheaper) home daycares enough to downgrade. All along I've been hoping that our situation would be different by the time we approached #2, and I still hold out hope for that. I think Craig has a lot of upside and could snag a fantastic job somewhere along the line. It's just a matter of finding the right one. I've gone over a million scenarios in my mind about what would happen if I stopped working, or worked part time. Stopping working really isn't an option. My job is a heck of a lot more stable than Craig's at the moment (not his fault--just based on how management has been faring lately) and provides nearly half of our income. We lose a lot of money no matter what if that goes away, no matter how much we'd save on daycare. I've pondered the part time thing a lot. I've long felt that I wouldn't be a good stay-at-home mom just because I know how I am--low on patience, stir crazy at times--so I think I'd be better off having some sort of adult world to escape to a few times a week. And I like being an Excel whiz and doing lots of crazy computer stuff. I also like wearing something nicer than jeans and a t-shirt every day. But I also like spending time with Jacob (moreso when he's well-behaved) and blogging and having opportunities to do fun things. I experience serious envy when I see other moms on Facebook or blogs talking about their playdates at playgrounds or their other miscellanous get-togethers. I don't have many close mom friends at all, and would relish the opportunity to participate in some of that stuff, reestablish old college friendships, and have some mommy talk time. I think that stuff would go a long way toward keeping me sane.

I've decided that one of my biggest issues with working motherhood is that it compresses the weekends and evenings terribly. We want to relax AND fit in various chores and activities, and considering most of our family lives out of town and we spend half of our summer weekends traveling, that doesn't leave much time for other fun activities. I read about fun things to do with your kids in emails and magazines, and I'm like, sure, in what spare time am I going to make homemade playdough or gather up objects for Jacob to sort by type and color or to set up a cooking activity? If we don't have anything planned for the weekend I might fit in one of those things here or there, but we usually have so many things going on (not to mention working around meals and naps) that homespun activities like that never seem to pan out. We have errands to run, a zoo to visit, baseball to play...and yes, family gatherings to travel to. As I mentioned the other day, we have family activities out of town for at least parts of four of the next five weekends, and we were originally planning on doing something out of town ourselves on that weekend in between. I think Craig's calf injury will postpone that, but there's an off-chance I could be off on my own that weekend. So, yeah, busy. So as if weekends weren't busy enough, in the evenings at home there's dinner to cook and other things to do around the house (last night it was brushing algae off the bottom of the pool--lovely) and sad as this sounds, it doesn't leave a lot of time for Jacob. Or, at most, it doesn't leave a lot of time to do creative, fun things with Jacob. He's perfectly content playing baseball, basketball, lacrosse, riding his big wheel or pushing his bubble mower, but sometimes I think that he'd have more well-rounded interests if we had more time to cultivate them or if his home time wasn't so limited that he's determined to spend all of it playing the sports he can't play (for real, anyway--though he does insist that maracas are a baseball bat and toy fruit is a ball) all day at daycare. And as it is I know I don't give him the full opportunity to enjoy certain things, like how I usually rush him out of the kitchen after dinner even though I know he'd happily play with water in the sink for at least a little while. But I have to do dishes and clean up, and he gets in the way. How horrible does that sound? I WANT to have the time to do things like that and not worry about my schedule all the time. His is really what's most important, but I guess mine is more rooted in reality, a busy reality that just can't take the time to smell the roses. Ugh.

And that's what bugs me. I get that if I were to be home more often I'd have to spend more time disciplining than I do now, and a lot of the time that I'd be home I'd still be working on non-Jacob things--cleaning the house, preparing food, working outside--but I'd still physically be with him and would have more opportunities to interact with him in different ways, take a little extra time to involve him, and make it a point to get out of the house and do fun things to keep things interesting. But I'd have more opportunities in general for quality time, whenever they happened to occur, rather than hoping we have a good moment in the evening or can carve out some fun time on the weekends.

All in all, it's just not enough. And the thing I haven't even talked about yet? Where would baby #2 fit in this scenario? If I have this much guilt and angst about one child, what about two? Particularly when that second one is a tiny, helpless baby? If I find it hard to make time for Jacob now, what on earth will happen with a baby, who, from experience, I know will take over every facet of our lives? How can we give enough love and attention to two kids, when we barely have the time or energy to give one what he deserves? Part of me can't imagine it right now.

But part of me just keeps wanting to ignore these difficult realities and just forge ahead. I keep thinking, "Well, it would probably be a couple tough years, lots of stress, being very tired...but in the end we'll be so happy we did it." And to some degree, I think that's true. I do want Jacob to have a sibling, and I would like another child. I'd like to experience another child's life--go through the milestones, watch them grow, experience things a little differently--and have two kids to enjoy for the rest of our lives. I'm fascinated by the passage of time and how families grow and change. To look back at photos in my parents' albums and see them as a young married couple, then young parents, then to see us kids grow up, and now have families of our own...it's simply amazing. And part of me thinks a couple rough years (financially, emotionally, physically, you name it) might be worth it. But what if it doesn't go as planned? What if Jacob resents his new sibling because he/she gets all the attention and Mommy and Daddy didn't have enough to go around before? What if we can't take the stress? There's so many things to consider. Maybe we wait another year when Jacob's that much closer to school age. Maybe we hold off so he'll be that much easier to deal with. Or maybe in that year he'll get so used to being an only child that he'll resent the situation even more.

So....yeah. Lots to consider. I just wish I could snap my fingers, have a ton of money in the bank, have a part time job I love (and a great job for Craig, too), and jump right into baby #2 knowing that it's no problem. Instead, I guess it will have to be a lot of prayer, a lot of talking, and a lot of hoping. ::Deep breath::

Monday, July 12, 2010

Busy weekend!

I'm trying to savor our weekends these days because summer goes all too quickly and we only have a handful of uncommitted weekends left. Coming up in the next few weeks we have tons of stuff going on, much of it in Buffalo, so I'm trying to enjoy what time we have here while we have it. Unfortunately, I'm still a little frustrated by Craig's calf injury, because as quickly as I think of something to do, it's shot down just as fast when I remember that Craig can't really be on his feet a lot. It makes most "fun" things a little tough, especially when we have a little two year old child who likes to run and doesn't really want to sit still very often. It leaves it all up to me and my good legs, and my energy wanes after a while, particularly in heat like we've been having. Still, we try. We can only take Jacob running around the house and yard so much.

As usual, I was hoping to do something fun on Friday evening but it just didn't work out. I made pizza at home and it ended up being a quiet night in. Saturday morning was much the same. After lunch, Jacob ended up going down for a marathon nap, affording Craig and I some pool time, and even some bonus nap time (for Craig) and miscellaneous time (for me). I finally went in to wake Jacob up after over three hours, because dinner time was coming and I didn't want Jacob to be too awake for bedtime. It must have been a great nap, because he woke up with quite the case of bed-head...

We went out to dinner at Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que down the road (thanks to a BOGO coupon from Facebook!) and had a pretty good time, starting with the happy bear on the way in...
Interestingly, the place was crawling with kids and families--no less than three big tables in our section alone. It was yet another reminder that we really need to get some friends with kids. But after years of working too much when everyone else goes out, I think we're finding it hard to be social. Anyway, there was one table near us that fed my pregnancy obsession because there were these two cute couples. Both women were pregnant, and each couple had one kid about Jacob's age--one boy and one girl. The moms were talking about how they were hoping not to go at the same time so they could visit each other. Man, was I jealous. I mean, not only do they have this cute setup of two couples with kids about the same age, but now they're having babies together. I knew a bunch of pregnant people before I was pregnant and a bunch after, and even had a bunch of pregnant coworkers when I was pregnant, but I've never been close enough to another pregnant woman like that. I hope to next time, maybe thanks to Facebook or something, but yeah, I'll admit I was jealous.
Anyway, dinner was great and Jacob was relatively well-behaved for most of it. After that we decided to head to the lake to enjoy the nice evening. Jacob and I took another ride on the carousel to see if he'd do better than he did last time. As you may recall, his last ride involved some tears, but this one went much better. He got a little nervous when it started turning, but he slowly came around once we got talking about the horsies. By the end he was admitting it was fun, but you'd never know it by the picture...

After the ride we headed down to the beach. I wanted to let Jacob walk in the sand a bit. He wasn't so sure at first but eventually he seemed to enjoy it. Of course, then he started throwing sand, so that wasn't so cool. I tried to distract him by walking down to the water, but when we got there the water was disgusting--dark brown and thicker than water should be--so we skipped dipping our toes in. We opted for ice cream instead. Craig was a trooper, walking around quite a bit.
More walking was on deck for Sunday. We planned to go to the Red Wings-Bisons game Sunday afternoon. Originally we were aiming for Saturday night, but Sunday had a giveaway and postgame running the bases, so we decided to hold out. The weather was hot, but more tolerable than many games we've sat through before. We had great seats (ah, connections...) and had a really good time. We ended up doing a lot of walking around later on to get out of the sun and satisfy Jacob's restlessness, but we somehow made it through the whole game. I give much of the credit to the little Little-Tikes-esque play area in the concourse. A little playhouse and slide kept Jacob occupied for at least 20-30 minutes. Oh, and did I mention Jacob only managed a half hour nap beforehand? Yeah. Here's our happy boy showing off his swing...

Look at that view!
Postgame we headed down to the field so Jacob could run the bases. He'd run them once at Craig's softball game, but this was a big field! He didn't quite get the concept and I had to keep encouraging him along since he'd stop every few feet. I have no idea why. I finally got him running enough to snap a picture coming up the third baseline, just before his high five with Mittsy.
Here's my proud little boy after reaching home plate!
He was practically asleep the second he was in his car seat and took a good nap when we got home, good enough that I had to wake him up for dinner. As with Saturday's nap, it still managed to impede a decent bedtime (though both nights he was relatively well-behaved in bed--just a couple minor outbursts) so we're getting back on track yet again on a weeknight.
All in all it was a nice weekend. An allergy attack most of the day Sunday wiped me out, and Craig was pretty spent from all that walking. We didn't get the pool time we would have liked, but hopefully another hot week will give us some evening swim opportunities. We should have a fun weekend coming up, with visits from family and visits to family. And it's non-stop from there for a while...deep breaths... :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

One more picture...

I forgot to add this one to yesterday's post. I took this a couple weeks ago when we had this fantastic rainbow overhead. It was huge. I took Jacob outside so we could look at it, and happened to capture this picture. It's sort of sweet in its simplicity, isn't it? Little boy, big sky...


Happy Weekend :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Random picture day...

As I mentioned at one point, I've been stocking up on a couple of random photos that didn't really have a logical place in the blog...or that I didn't have a chance to upload before posting. Anyway...here goes...

Sleepy Jacob just as we arrived at the drive-in a couple weeks ago. He fell asleep on the way there, woke up moments after this picture was taken, and didn't fall asleep until some ungodly late hour that night, after the 9:20 movie and the 30 minute drive home. That must have been one heck of a power nap. It's also the last official picture of him in the rear-facing car seat in my car, assuming I don't decide to switch it back.

This series of pictures was just a random photo session for no apparent reason. Jacob was trying on his new sneakers and running around with his lacrosse stick. This is probably one of the most common Jacob views in our house...

I'm not sure what this face was, but I'm convinced it's a precursor to some handsome, brooding face he'll use to pick up women when he's older ;-)

Who says Jacob never smiles in my pictures? This is proof...

And another smile, albeit the "cheese face", this time sitting in his chair (it used to be mine!) and holding his beloved otter.

This one is from Sunday when my parents were in town. They wanted to get a picture of his goalie stance. Seriously, the kid is two...and yet, great form already.

This is from Sunday night when we took the new bubble mower out for a test mow. I had some problems getting the bubbles to go, but I'm not sure if I did something wrong or it just takes speed, or what. It's been too hot to want to go outside and play this week (well, Jacob will do it anytime, but Mommy is less eager), so we haven't done another attempt. But still, I think he will enjoy pushing it around, even if he's not smiling here...because he never smiles for my pictures ;-)


And finally, a little clip of Jacob taking a swing at his new baseball tee. Again, he's only two :)
video

Other news and notes:

- Jacob woke up three times last night, for the first time in a while. He also had a restless nap yesterday, enough that daycare called, warning us that he was complaining of ear pain and might have an ear infection. They seem to think that a lot and they're about 50/50 on their accuracy...most recently a couple weeks ago (they were wrong on that one). My diagnosis is teething. His two bottom molars are in but the top ones aren't, and usually his worst pain is before they're really even visible. The bottom ones never seemed to bother him but perhaps the top are just worse. Teething is pretty much the only thing that screws up his sleep, and I suppose upper jaw pain is in the vicinity of the ear, so that might be our culprit on both counts. Tylenol has been working, so hopefully we can keep it under control.

- He has been making us laugh a lot lately with some random little things. Yesterday morning he told us that "Woody drinks coffee." We have no idea where that came from. He's talked about Woody a little since seeing Toy Story 3, but we have no idea how Woody became associated with coffee...particularly since neither of us drink it. On Sunday, my dad was juggling for Jacob, and he loved it. Ever since, he's been trying to do it himself, with, of course, disasterous results. But when he says, "I gungle!" we can't help but laugh. Then, we have a stuffed moose we named Muffin, because he is supposed to be the moose from the book, "If You Give a Moose a Muffin". Kohl's was selling them a while back for $5 and he was too darn cute to pass up. Jacob has taken a liking to him lately, and it is the cutest thing ever when he sees Muffin and says, "Hi Muffin!"

- I just don't know what to make of kids' clothes. Jacob is pretty firmly in 24 month or 2T clothing, except for shorts, which he can wear very small thanks to his tiny waist and not having to worry much about length (at least, not like with pants). He's even got a pair or two of 12M shorts floating around right now. They're borderline, but they're fine for now and only seem to get tight with a full diaper. Most of his shirts are at least 24M right now. And yet a bunch of the clothes he got for his birthday are HUGE. Most of them are 24M, and while the shirts are close, they're still bigger than would be ideal. But the shorts? Holy cow. They're halfway down his calves and quite loose in the waist. It's so weird. Some brands fit him well and some are so off on his proportions. These clothes are mostly Okie Dokie brand from JC Penney, which I generally have liked and had decent luck with. But some of their stuff is just way weird on proportions. There was a set he had a while back where the shirt fit him two winters ago, but the pants just fit him this year! And the socks were almost too small from the beginning! So strange. I guess women's clothes are no different, but seriously, how hard can it be to manage sizing for two year olds? On the bright side, they should fit him well next year unless he porks up considerably.

- Jacob and I had a lovely little moment the other night, just before bedtime. I got him to sit down with me and watch pictures on our digital frame. There are pictures from our entire digital camera life on there--so August 2006 and beyond. Jacob seemed to really enjoy it, or at least appreciated it enough to sit still and cuddle with me for a good 15 minutes or so. We were only interrupted briefly by his quest to get his otter (pictured above) when a picture from the day he got him flipped past. But it was truly amazing to look at some of the pictures from so long ago, to see Jacob so little and then look at the real thing next to me in all his big boy glory. I'm not sure he understands completely that the pictures of the little baby are him, but I think we've been drilling it in his head for so long via pictures around the house that he knows those pictures are significant for some reason. He does recognize slightly older ones of himself, and smiles when he sees them.

I guess that's enough for today...enjoy the weekend if I don't have a chance to post before then! Thank God for short work weeks!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Party, Potty & the Pool

The title of this post pretty much sums up the weekend. Friday was spent preparing for Jacob's birthday party, Saturday was spent finishing up the preparations and actually having the party, and Sunday and Monday were pretty much pool days. And as for the potty, well, another small step. Twice over the weekend Jacob sat on the potty and actually dribbled a little pee in. Of course, the first time it happened was right before a bath, and the second Jacob got in the bath he did a full-on pee...so methinks he doesn't quite have the concept down just yet. But he did get a little toy each time (tiny baseball guys I got at Party City that usually go on cakes), so at least he has motivation to do it. He doesn't get another one until we get a full-on pee stream into the toilet, or a poop, for which he will get two guys. So, small steps.

So...as for the rest of the weekend...Friday and Saturday were exhausting. With Craig out of commission, it was all up to me to get things done. He could chip in a little here and there, but I had to do the running around, the food prep, and the majority of the house cleanup. I took off Friday to get a lot of the prep work done, and it was a very productive day--grocery shopping, cake baking, party supply buying, house cleaning, etc. Saturday morning and early afternoon were crazy as well. Cupcake baking, taco dip making, cake frosting, last minute setup in the yard...the list seemed to go on and on. Lori came around noon to help with preparations and distracting Jacob, and was a huge help. Miraculously, things were pretty much ready to go when people started arriving. I still spent the majority of the day somewhere in and around the kitchen, and I never got to go in the pool. I only got to socialize a bit and did, of course, come out for gifts and cake, but as a whole the day wasn't very relaxing. And, quite frankly, I didn't get to spend much time at all with Jacob. Thank goodness for grandparents and cousins who kept him occupied! I know he was running around like a maniac, though...playing basketball and teeball and swimming in the pool. He was a little distracted during gifts (meaning, each gift was almost too interesting to bother opening others), but he seemed to really like what he got. He enjoyed being sung to at cake time. He's been singing "Happy Birthday" for weeks, between his own birthday and a number of birthdays in his daycare class, so I think he thought it was pretty cool to have everyone sing it to him (again). He mowed down his cupcake and shared my cake and ice cream as well, which was nice since most parties we've been at recently he hasn't been interested. As hesitant as he was to go to bed, he dropped off pretty darn quickly. And while the remaining party-goers hung out in the living room at the end of the night, I snuck off to jump in the pool for a few minutes...to just float there in the quiet evening and take a minute to myself and relax. It was probably the best five minutes of my day. But as a whole I think things went quite well. Everyone was well fed, the kids had a great time in the pool and playing in the yard, and people seemed to have a great time socializing, mostly in the small patches of shade. The house got rave reviews from everyone (speaking of which, I will get pictures up here one of these days, I swear), and as a whole it was a good day for pretty much everyone involved...as far as I could tell from my spot in the kitchen, anyway :)
Here are a few pictures from the day...
Here's my attempt at cake creativity. Thank goodness the picture makes it look better than it really did. I tried to make my own red frosting for the baseball stitching, but couldn't get it red enough no matter what I did, so I had to go with store-bought. And those aerosol-ish cans are evil. I like the control of the pastry bag so much more. Ugh. And in case you don't see it, the chocolate cupcakes are in the shape of a bat. I ended up doing a chocolate cake and white cupcakes, and despite my constant fears of cake failure with the egg-free method, everything turned out okay. The cake was shorter than I'd like it, and it shrunk away from the sides, but it tasted good and looked better than last year. The cupcakes didn't separate from their wrappers like the daycare batch did, and they were also quite tasty. Not bad for my second attempt...now to start thinking about next year :)

On to opening gifts...here's Jacob's bubble mower from Lori. I do have a picture to post of Jacob using it, but I haven't uploaded it yet. Soon, I promise.

Here's Jacob kissing a monkey beanie baby from Great-Grandma Ellman. She's got quite the beanie collection and Jacob loves playing with them. She gave him three monkeys and a dalmation...and he loves them!

Here we are getting ready for cake!

The rest of the weekend was pretty low key. Between Craig's calf and Jacob's early bedtime, we ended up not doing anything for the 4th. I had hoped to come downtown and watch fireworks from my office, but I think the rest of the weekend was draining enough and we opted to just hang at home. We got in some good family pool time on Sunday after my parents left (they stayed over after the party), and gorged on leftovers for dinner. Monday we went to the Pizza Hut buffet for lunch (so bad, but my favorite place to go for lunch on weekdays off!) and came home to get Jacob down for a nap. Once he was out, I went out to the pool to lounge on a raft, only to find that some tubing from the filter to the pool had sprung a leak! After a mad scramble, Craig fixed it (bad leg and all) and we both ended up chilling in the pool for a long time. Jacob slept for quite a while, and we took full advantage. A pool is definitely the way to enjoy 90 degree weather like this. I did get a little sunburned, but dare I say it was worth it for the absolute bliss for that hour?
We've been back to the grind for a couple days now. Craig has a walking boot splinting his calf and I'm still his chauffeur. It's not particularly convenient because it adds a lot of time to my commutes and means I can't really stay late at work or go to the gym immediately after work because I have to pick up Jacob by 6pm. On the bright side, Craig is a little more mobile, but we're still not sure it's worth taking time off this summer since he can't really walk the long distances that normally come with any sort of vacation we'd take. Yes, we can hang out at home, which we'd probably do for the majority of the time off anyway, but I'm not sure how much hanging out at home I can handle, knowing I'd rather be out and about at least once in a while. I'm all about exploring and doing things when I have free time--and honestly, it makes taking care of Jacob much easier when there's stuff to see and do--so I'm not sure how compatible my vacation style is with Craig's injury. I keep hoping it'll get better enough to be functional, but it's not looking promising right now. And it's sad for a lot of reasons, and not all for just my selfish reasons. Hopefully we can find some sort of compromise. Summer is far too short!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Reasons why it's harder to be a parent these days...

I'm sure my parents or any other people in my parents' generation (or beyond) would have an equally compelling list to counteract this one, but there are so many things that make parenthood these days more complicated than it used to be. So, in no particular order...

1) Working parenthood - I'm sure there was plenty of this back in the day as well, but I just don't remember hearing about kids who had both parents working...at least not full time. I never remember having friends who went to afterschool programs when I was in school. Most kids had a mom at home, or at least had parents who worked opposite/flexible schedules so one was around for after school, field trips, class parties, etc. Nowadays it's so common (and often necessary) for two parents to be working (probably for some of the other reasons I'll be covering), and it's just unfortunate. It definitely doesn't give kids the foundation we had. Sure, they get different experiences and more formal education at an early age, but it's no wonder society is going to hell in a handbasket when you realize how little impact parents may have on their kids these days. And yes, I am one of those people furthering the cause...and it bothers me every single day. If I really let myself think about it, it saddens me that Jacob will have such a different experience growing up than I did, an experience that I took for granted. When I hear how co-workers' kids have to go to an all-day rec program all summer and things like that, it makes me sad that Jacob will too, because it's that much less time we'll have than I had at home with my mom. On the bright side, it's that much less TV he'll watch in his lifetime, but...still, it's hard to be an involved, energetic and creative parent when work sucks the life out of you and you only have a few hours a day with your kid.


2) Technology - From the evils of the Internet to the lure of video games to the ever-present cell phone age, I don't even know where to start. And very little of this stuff was around when I was growing up, so I don't even have life experience to know when and how to handle these things. When it is ok for a kid to start accessing the Internet? And alone, no less? What parental controls will be the best? Are kids' sites ok, even educational, or is it no better than video games? And what if your kid does come into contact with something inappropriate? How do you ever begin to explain that? And speaking of video games, what's a good limit? Should it just be a reward? Are exercise or educational ones exceptions to that? Or are they all useless? And cell phones...oy. They didn't even exist when I was a kid, and now everyone has them and they do all sorts of fabulous things. But is it safe to let your kid hold one or put it up to his ear, thanks to radiation? At what age should you let you kid have one? Will it impact their social status if they don't have a good one or unlimited texting? Will having that stuff ruin their grades? And what about the risk of "sexting"? Dear God, I am SO not ready for that one. Good thing I have a few years before this becomes a serious problem. And while this is lower on my list, the wide range of cable TV available these days is probably a cause for concern, too. Back in the day, cartoons were on on Saturday mornings and afterschool. Now? There are multiple networks that show cartoons or other kids shows 24 hours a day. Hard to not become addicted to TV when there's always something on.

3) Sunscreen - I think this was a slight issue back in the day, too, but now it's serious business. Back in the day you may have thought about it or just tried to cover them up so they didn't get sunburned, but now it's practically like smoking in front of your child--a serious health concern--if you don't lather them up with sunscreen. There's a ton of different ones to choose from, and you have to remember to reapply after activity or after a certain amount of time. Kids need to be wearing hats, and even when they're swimming, it's preferred that they wear a shirt. And hopefully that shirt will be one with SPF protection, because who knew we still get sun exposure through our clothes? We were at a party with multiple kids a few weeks ago, and while the kids were swimming I was looking around. All but one of the kids (not including Jacob) had a swim shirt on, and I almost felt like a bad mom that Jacob didn't have his on. But he did have a hat and lots of sunscreen. But, oy, so much guilt if you don't cover 'em up! But I wonder, doesn't that get hot? Since you're swimming, the assumption is that it's hot out. Doesn't wearing a shirt defeat the purpose?

4) Food - While I'm sure our parents always tried to feed us balanced, wholesome, healthy meals, there's just so many more unhealthy options out there today. And with busy schedules, it's easier to fall into those traps. And now we're that much more aware of what's bad for us and what kind of damage it can do, so it gets hard to weed through the research and balance it with common sense. Should we never, ever eat at McDonald's, or is it ok once in a while? Mandarin oranges as a side have to be better than fries, but wait, they have high fructose corn syrup! On one hand I want to keep Jacob's menu as reasonably healthy as I can for as long as possible, but then I feel bad that he might not get to enjoy simple kid pleasures--the joy of a McDonald's Happy Meal, the yummy taste of a (soda) pop, the sugary kick of those terribly unhealthy kids' cereals that won't fill him up past 10am. I got to enjoy them as a kid, but again, that may have been before we were so aware of the evils of those things, and should I let him have them (in moderation) just because I did? Or should I ban them because they're just not good for him? Jacob periodically wants to drink our pops, but of course we haven't let him. When will it be ok for him to drink them? And of course, we only have diet pop in the house, so will we have to buy regular for him to keep him away from artificial sweeteners? There's just so much stuff about artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, sugar and sodium contents, nitrates in lunch meat and hot dogs, burnt spots on grilled foods, and trans fats in kiddie pastries that it makes you think twice before plunking anything down in front of your kid. At least Jacob eats a lot of fruit. But wait, that probably has pesticides, so should I be feeding him organically? We all survived, but is it that much worse now?

5) Stuff! - There's just so much STUFF out there in the world. All it takes to figure that out is the overwhelming feeling you get the first time you walk into Babies 'R' Us to register. My mom specifically remarked how much stuff there was that didn't even exist when she was pregnant. And sure, a lot of that stuff is useful and we're happy to have them around (hello, boppy pillow and Diaper Champ, electric breast pump and pack 'n' play!), but I'm sure a lot of it is just far from necessary or even that useful. But it only gets worse as they get older and there are Joneses to keep up with and full, huge lines of toys that kids have to have every single piece of. And all that stuff is important to keep them in with their friends and playing what everyone else is playing. And I think every parent wants to give their kid the very best and encourage their interests, so I suppose it's hard to say no or pass up something that even you, as a parent, think is cool. Did Jacob need even the few birthday presents he got from us? No, he probably wouldn't have known the difference. But we wanted to give him a baseball tee, because we fear for the safety of our hands without one, and we wanted to give him his magnetic doodler because he LOVES the ones at daycare. And again, I'm sure it will only get worse as he gets older and figures out that he really does want everything he sees in the store. He won't get it, of course, but it's a tough thing to navigate as a parent, finding the balance between giving them something they really want and will enjoy for a long time vs. just buying something for the short term or for merely societal purposes. Anyway, it just seems to normal today for kids to have so much stuff that it's hard to make your kid be the one that goes without...even if you know it's better for them in the long run. It's just a tough call trying to decide which indulgences are going to be the cool things they remember forever, and which ones won't.

6) Allergies - You hear so much more about kids' food allergies these days. They still don't seem to know why they're popping up so much more, but maybe it's just that they're diagnosed better and kids that spent their entire lives with indigestion, flatulence, and constipation were actually just allergic to something. Who knows? This one is tough for two reasons--figuring out if you can prevent your own kid from getting them, and watching out for other kids that already have them. We've gotten pretty aware of the second one from working around our nephew's egg and nut allergies. It's made party planning a little tougher, but we manage. I can't imagine doing it every day of our lives, let alone spending your life living with a touch of fear that your kid might accidentally ingest something while they're out in the world and still not old enough to know to read labels. It's definitely got to suck the fun out of a lot of things we took for granted as kids--going to fairs and carnivals, sporting events, parties, etc. I know that some schools don't even let you bring in things like birthday cupcakes unless they're pre-packaged so they know the allergen information. And school staples like peanut butter and jelly can't be eaten in many schools these days either. As for preventing your own kid's allergies, you hear a lot of conflicting information. One one hand, it's "Don't eat this during breastfeeding," or "Don't give this to your kid before a certain age," but then you hear that if you avoid those things, they may have a reaction when it finally is introduced into their system. I tried to follow recommended guidelines for introducing foods, and so far so good. We still haven't tried peanuts, but I suppose we will in the next year or so, given a good situation where we're at home and can get to the emergency room around the corner quickly if he had a reaction. But everything else seems ok--and thank goodness for that since his food intake is pretty limited as it is! But all of the conflicting information makes it all such a crapshoot, and perhaps all of these recommendations for food being withheld (which apparently never used to happen, per all of the tales of one year olds eating peanut butter sandwiches) is making things worse. It's hard to tell, and who knows if any of it matters? Perhaps if your kid's allergic, they were always meant to be.

7) "Growing up too fast" - Maybe this has always been a problem to some degree, but it seems like it's becoming more and more of an issue these days. When I see some seven year old walking around in a spaghetti strap dress or teeny bikini, it worries me. Or when I see some four year old with a Nintendo DS playing some sort of shoot 'em up video game, I just shake my head. Many things and activities that used to be reserved for older kids are making their way into the younger set. Overtly sexual lyrics in pop music and certain themes in kids' TV shows just seem to be a little beyond what we dealt with back in the day. Maybe I'm wrong, since I did grow up in the era of "Let's Talk About Sex" and untold other numbers of lyrics we all sang mindlessly. But somehow that seems tame compared to a catchy tune with lyrics like, "I kissed a girl and I liked it..." Ugh. How do you explain that one to your kids? As a whole it just seems like society is granting the wishes of kids that want to grow up faster. It's scary.

I'm sure this is just scratching the surface, but my brain is spent and full of party planning right now. Tomorrow is Jacob's long-awaited 2nd birthday party, and I've been off work all day today getting things done. Still a lot more to do tonight and tomorrow, but I think we're getting there. Should be a good time with great weather for the pool, so we're definitely looking forward to it. I almost wish I could just sit back and enjoy the party instead of running around like a maniac, which I'm sure I'll be doing. Hopefully I'll have time to snap a few pictures and a few minutes to take it all in so I'll have plenty to report back here! Regardless, have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!