Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Line

I was thinking this morning on my drive in about the fine line that is holding your ground and showing love. I think I was definitely straddling it this morning, saddened that I couldn't hop onto the love side due to work commitments. Jacob woke up cranky this morning. When I walked in his room to wake him up, I was pleasantly surprised that he was awake. Usually he makes some sort of audible noise when he wakes up, be it screaming for us or just talking or singing quietly to himself. But I walked in and he was just sitting there. Bonus for me because I didn't have to wake him up out of a sound sleep, which is usually quite the task. I did that yesterday after a horrendous couple hours at the end of the night. Jacob woke up a little before 5am, wide awake and not wanting to be alone. After multiple unsuccessful attempts at comforting him and leaving his room only to hear him scream, we brought him into bed with us (ugh) in the hopes of getting that last bit of sleep. But unlike the night terror night, he did not sleep. And after repeated episodes of poking, hair pulling, and thrashing, I put Jacob back in bed. He cried for a few minutes but fell asleep. Of course, waking him back up a little over an hour later was not good, and he had a cranky morning before drop-off.

Despite a pleasant initial wakeup this morning, things went downhill fast. He didn't want to wear the shirt I picked out, he didn't want to put his coat on, he wanted to take his animals to daycare, he didn't want to get in the car, he wanted to watch a movie, etc. He cried like crazy about the shirt for a good ten minutes. For the record, I let him wear a nearly-too-small hockey shirt yesterday because he wanted to wear one and he just wore his other one. Today I didn't want to give in, for many reasons. That did not go over well, and he cried right into the beginning of our drive. He was a little clingy at drop-off, too, but seemed fine when I left.

After drop-off I thought more about the morning's events. If things weren't so crazy at work, it would have been awfully tempting to just stay home with him, let him sleep, and chill on the couch with a movie. Based on his behavior, he was sleepy--probably still catching up from yesterday. And that's not really his fault. It would be pretty much as valid a sick day as any, other than the fact that his issue wasn't contagious. Chances are he'd be nearly as miserable, anyway. And it would have been so nice to just spend a day chillin' with the little man...assuming he'd stay chilled. Which is doubtful, knowing him. And I do hope he improved as the day went on.

If I would have been able to stay home with him and let him rest, I do worry about what kind of precedent it would have set. I mean, when I was a kid I could only stay home from school if I was puking or had a fever. I didn't get those stay-home-and-relax days that I know some classmates did. And ultimately, I'm probably a stronger person for it. Of course, I probably push through illnesses more than I should now and thereby infect my co-workers more as a result, but at least I'm dedicated. I only take a sick day if I have to. And perhaps Jacob needs to learn to push through and make the best of the situation. But is that too much to ask of a two year old? Should he be coddled until he's old enough to understand why he's sleepy and to have coping mechanisms to deal with it? Certainly I didn't have to deal with it too much until I was five and in kindergarten, by virtue of having a stay-at-home mom at the time. And maybe when she was freely able to be at home, she was a little more lenient than she was later when she had to work. I have no idea. Ahh, the things you ponder when you're finally old enough to have kids of your own...

But I do question where the line is of allowing your child to get the recovery they need vs. helping them understand that it's a tough world out there and they need to push through sometimes. I don't want to coddle him now and later have a kid that's strapped to the couch the second he doesn't feel great, but I also don't want him out there in the world feeling miserable, like his needs aren't being met. Maybe he needed to stay home and rest. Or maybe once he got to daycare he went about his day like nothing was wrong. How do you make that call? And what do you do when you're stuck letting work and other things impact your decision. Ugh. Tough one for today...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Christmas

Yep, it's not even October and I'm thinking about Christmas. Why, you ask? No, I'm not suddenly getting organized and doing all my shopping now. I wish. In reality, we're already getting nearly constant reminders from Jacob. What does our little boy want for Christmas? Let's see...a hockey helmet, hockey gloves, hockey skates, a hockey net, and a goalie stick. Welcome to our world.

Last year around Christmas we talked to Jacob a bit about Santa, but we never got too in depth. He could recognize him when he saw a picture, but beyond that we're not sure he knew anything. I've often wondered how we're going to do the whole Santa thing in our family, since we're never home for Christmas morning. I'm not jazzed about bringing all of Jacob's presents with us and pretending Santa comes to Craig's parents' house (our car is full enough as it is, both coming and going), but I'm also not thrilled with the idea of leaving a bunch of Christmas presents sitting under our tree at home for our arrival after Christmas. For one, I don't really want it being a temptation for robbers seeking out travelers' empty houses full of presents. And two, I feel a little bad that Jacob will have to wait until we get home for those presents. Usually by the time we get home, we're exhausted and usually Craig will have to run off to work at that point anyway. It's all just awkward. But still, having the Santa card to play when Jacob isn't being a good boy is too much to pass up for the next few years, for as long as his belief in Santa lasts. And really, it's nice to live in that fantasy world for that time. Santa is magical and I would never want to deprive Jacob of that fun.

Our references to Christmas since last year haven't been that numerous. I mean, we've mentioned Christmas presents here and there, mostly when Jacob says he wants something and we say, "Maybe you'll get it for Christmas." And he will even mention that he'll get these things at Christmas, though he still asks for them often so I have a feeling he's sort of just repeating it back to us, rather than really understanding how the whole system works. Incidentally, I'm starting to think that blaming Santa when he doesn't get his gift of choice may be easier than blaming us, but whatever. Our only other common reference to Christmas has been to explain to Jacob that lacrosse season doesn't start until after Christmas. I figured it was the easiest landmark for him, and that once Christmas came and went, he'd realize lacrosse was finally coming. Alas, he still asks every day anyway, but I still think it's good to have that consistent target to mention, even if he doesn't have much concept of it. Right now it may not mean much, but he'll obviously get fair warning once Christmas season is really up and running!

The thing that's been cracking us up, though, is that he keeps referencing "Christmas house". He wants to go to "Christmas house" or thinks that these things he wants might be at "Christmas house". All we can figure is that he thinks that Christmas is a place we're going to go at some point, rather than an actual day or event that's coming to us. Ahhh, kid brains.

At this point I'm not sure which of his Christmas wishes will actually come true. We are getting him a hockey net--a little knee hockey one that we found on clearance at Target. He will LOVE it. And so will I, if he stops using my furniture as a makeshift net. And maybe we'll get him a mini goalie stick...that one's easy enough. We'd actually like to get him a real wooden stick for outside play that's curved right for him and is cut to his size. I think we can do it pretty cheaply, too. But the skates, helmet, and gloves? Ugh. The kid can hardly walk sometimes, let alone skate. So if he gets skates, he definitely needs a helmet, but I'm not sure I'm ready to let him skate regardless. He is so clumsy! And hockey equipment isn't cheap and will probably get grown out of long before he could ever play real hockey (and again, I don't know how ready I am to make that financial and time commitment--hockey is particularly brutal in both of those respects)...so is it worth it? He will love it, I have no doubt, but would something simpler and cheaper suffice in the meantime? He's got a good imagination, after all :) Suffice it to say that the next three months will be interesting...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Action-Packed Weekend!

I had spent a good chunk of last week looking forward to the rest of the week. On Tuesday I was trying out my new evening workout regimen (once a week in the evening--it went ok). Wednesday Craig had to work late so it was just me and Jacob for the night. I made pancakes for dinner (they're so quick to make and Jacob eats them ridiculously well--both important things when I'm going solo), we called my parents on the webcam (which Jacob gets all excited about, even if he only lasts a few minutes on my lap and talks only about sports), and had a pretty good evening. Thursday was an NHL exhibition game between Florida and Boston here in Rochester. Friday I wanted to go to our local Oktoberfest for dinner, and Saturday I was in Buffalo with Jacob to go to Craig's cousin's wedding (without him since he was working a lacrosse game in Syracuse). There was a lot of stuff in there, so it was busy, but it's always nice to have events to look forward to. It's fun to have real activities planned, and the less random free time we have, generally the less we have to deal with Jacob being difficult. Not always, but generally. If nothing else, we at least have something else to keep us preoccupied while he's being difficult.

Jacob had been looking forward to Thursday's hockey game since, well, April. He's been saying how he wants to go to the Blue Cross Arena and see hockey. He also wants to see lacrosse, but we keep reminding him that lacrosse games don't start until after Christmas. He's got a long wait, though it will probably go quicker than any of us think! That evening actually ended up being hellish for me. There was a super-major accident on my way home from work that backed up traffic so badly that I was more than 15 minutes late picking Jacob up. We were short on time as it was, so that set us back even more. Dinner was a disaster (Jacob wouldn't eat--he's been either hot or cold lately when it comes to food), and by the time we headed back into the city for the game, we were already over 15 minutes late for the game. They were still cleaning up the accident two hours after it happened, but fortunately we were on the clear side of the highway. We got to the game a half hour late, but it didn't seem to matter much. Jacob still loved watching it, and I had a little time to wander around with him and say hi to people. We ended up staying for the whole thing so it was a late night for Jacob, but it was a good time after all the initial stress. I pulled out the camera near the end of the game to try to document Jacob's first official NHL game, but only ended up with a couple decent ones. The one of the two of us below is actually pretty blurry, but I like it anyway.


And the extreme close-up as Jacob attacked the camera... :)
Friday was ridiculously hot here. It was in the high 80s and made for a warm evening at Oktoberfest. The Rochester Oktoberfest is held in Irondequoit, the next suburb over from Greece, north of the city and south of the lake. It was in a park where they had set up a HUGE tent (like circus tent proportions...bigger than I've ever seen, I think). We were lucky enough to get in for free, as some guy gave us a ticket on the way in, and the guy working the door was an usher or security guy at the arena, recognized us, and waved us through. That was a $16 savings, and thank goodness, because food and beer weren't cheap! I ended up having a yummy dinner of a German specialty that I'd been eyeing up since last fall when a couple local restaurants had it on their special Oktoberfest menus. Craig had a bratwurst and Jacob had a German hot dog. Craig had a couple beers and I had a Mike's (same price as the beer but tasted way better), and then we finished things off with a pretzel and a cinnamon twist pastry. So good. The German band sounded pretty authentic based on what I hear on Oktoberfest feeds, and the mood was festive. Jacob kept wanting to go out and "dance", but every time we got out there, he'd either jump up and down, lay on the floor, or take a baseball swing and "run the bases". Oy. Here's me trying to keep up with him...

After we had finished our desserts and couldn't handle him running away anymore, we headed out. Jacob went to bed once we got home and I got packing for our trip to Buffalo. I decided to leave late that night, for a number of reasons. Craig was getting up early the next morning to head to a work thing, and then he was off to Syracuse later in the day to work a lacrosse game, by request of the National Lacrosse League. I got the car packed up and we headed out at 11:15. Jacob stayed asleep for the whole thing, including the trip into my parents' house. Thank goodness. Of course, he woke up at about 7:15 the next morning and I was still beat, but at least I could pass him off to my parents and go sleep more!

The last time we came to visit my parents over Labor Day weekend, we tried to go to the Herschell Carrousel Museum in North Tonawanda. I lived in NT for over 20 years of my life and visited frequently in the last 10-plus years, yet I had never been there. The Herschell factory made carrousels for years, and now houses a museum, does restoration, and houses two carrousels. When we tried to go last time, we found out that to ride the carrousel, you had to pay the full admission fee ($5 for adults, $2.50 for kids) and got one ride for free. I'm not sure how they think they can charge that when malls charge a buck, but anyway...we opted to skip it that day since we were short on time. This weekend we came back armed with a coupon from the Entertainment Book and a bunch of free ride tokens.
We walked around the museum and saw lots of horses (and other animals), heard a band organ like you hear in most carrousels and learned how they were made, and finally got to the carrousels themselves. Jacob opted not to ride the kids-only one. I'm not sure how he would have done alone anyway, but it would have been neat to see him on a kid-sized one.

We headed over to the main attraction, and Jacob did great on his first ride. For his second ride we tried the spinning cup. It didn't spin all that much since I wasn't much of a match against gravity and g-forces, but I did learn how to let it work in our favor a bit. I'm not sure if Jacob liked it or not. He got awfully quiet. I guess I'll have to wait and see some other time if Jacob will finally become a new coaster buddy for me someday! Here he is trying to make us turn...

And here are my parents, still just a couple kids at heart...
Here's Jacob on his favorite horse, a red one...
Jacob took a nice long nap once we got home, but I wasn't there to enjoy it because I was off to Craig's cousin's wedding down in East Aurora. It was a little odd going to the wedding solo--not just without Craig, but without Jacob as well. The wedding was more casual than I'm used to, but it fit the bride and groom's personality perfectly and really made for a lovely evening. I don't really have any pictures of myself or anything that pertains to Jacob here, but I did want to post this one picture for anyone out there ever planning a fall wedding. I thought this was a great choice for decorating...pumpkins, leaves, gourds, and various glassware full of candy corns scattered everywhere! Yum! I did bring some home so Jacob could try his first candy corn :)

Apparently he was a very good boy while I was gone, but he did have some trouble falling asleep, which I alluded to yesterday. Sunday we got up early to go to church. He was a little chatty in church but never got bad enough that I had to take him out, thank goodness. As I also mentioned yesterday, he fell asleep in Target while we were killing time between church and lunch, and then didn't want to eat lunch at all. At least he drank his milk. We spent most of the afternoon playing outside, alternating between soccer and hockey. We met a bunch of doggies, scoped out my parents' new geocache, and enjoyed the lovely weather before heading back to Rochester. It was a busy and full weekend, but we had a lot of fun. Now on to another week...one night of hockey and that's about it this time around. But I guess that leaves us with a week full of possibilities!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Night Terrors

Anyone out there know anything about night terrors? Not just nightmares, but night terrors. Two different things, but I'm having an issue figuring out if we're experiencing one or the other or neither. We had a rough night last night. I feel a little bad about that because I feel like Jacob's weekend sleeping played right into it. We drove to Buffalo at 11:15 on Friday night, and while Jacob slept through the whole thing, I can't imagine all of the activity getting into the car seat, traveling, and getting out of the car seat didn't disturb him a little bit. He napped well on Saturday but had a heck of a time going to bed that night and was up bright and early on Sunday. Sunday's napping was screwy, with about 30-45 minutes around 11am (part of which was spent dozing off in a Target shopping cart), and an hour or so on the way back to Rochester in the car from about 4 to 5pm. He went to bed at a decent time, but was restless around 10pm. He said his feet hurt and I wondered if they had fallen asleep and felt prickly to him. I had him stand up for a few minutes and he seemed better. But then he woke up two other times, once at 11:30 and then again at 1:30, I think. Both times he was inconsolable and rather incoherent. We'd go in and hold him, rock him try to talk to him, and he just cried. Hard. Sometimes it sounded like he was trying to talk, but it was just babble...nothing coherent. After about 15 minutes the first time, he seemed to finally get to a point where he could communicate that he was scared and wanted to come sleep in our bed. At that point I figured it might be the only thing that would work (I remember being scared by bad dreams as a kid. Even now I'm grateful I can roll over and hug someone), and I really thought he would actually sleep instead of tossing and turning. And he did. And an hour later when I woke up I carried him back to his room.

An hour after that, it happened again. Same inconsolable crying, same incoherent babbling, same inability to get an answer from him about whether he was in pain, scared, or what. I ended up giving him a little Tylenol just in case, which was a challenge in itself, and then tried rocking him more. In the back of my mind both times, I kept thinking, "If this is a night terror, they always say that it's best to leave them alone. They don't remember it, and trying to interact with them can make it worse." So since what I was doing wasn't working, I put him down in his crib. And suddenly he quieted down, rolled over, and was out. Ummmm....o-kay.

But I'm having a few issues here. This isn't the first time this has happened, and every time it seems to go similarly. Normally if Jacob's crying in the middle of the night, our arrival in his room calms him down almost immediately. In this case, it's as if we're not even there. Holding him does nothing, the sound of our voices is useless. Standing, sitting and rocking have no impact. Nothing works. He's not violent or anything, but he is usually pretty squirmy. That seems to indicate a sleep terror. But the fact that he sometimes does start responding seems to go against the usual sudden return to sleep that I read about with night terrors, but I guess we could just be waking him up. When he finally does become a little more coherent, it's still more of a gradual thing than I'd expect from the usual "night terror" descriptions. It's hard to tell if he remembers the events (they're not supposed to remember night terrors), because sometimes I wonder if we're asking him loaded questions that lead him to answer one way or another. He's a little younger than most kids that have night terrors, and his episodes seem to happen later in the night than they should. The experts say that they usually happen early in the night, 90 minutes after falling asleep. Last night was an exception, as the 11:30 occurrence was within that time frame if we count from when he would have officially fallen back asleep after his 10pm wakeup. But often they've happened later in the night...but perhaps he had wakeups then too that I didn't remember or take into consideration when calculating the 90 minutes. But all I know is that he's not himself when he does this, and it's scary.

If it is night terrors, then obviously something is stressing him enough to cause them. Lack of sleep? Something we're doing? Something related to his tendency to hit me? Day care? His insane obsession with sports? He comes from two worriers, so I guess he comes by whatever it is honestly. If it isn't a night terror and just a nightmare, I'm concerned about what would distress him so much that he'd have such a hardcore reaction to it. What is he experiencing in his daily life that would haunt him in his sleep? But then again, maybe it's neither. I'm afraid that he's in some sort of pain and can't tell us, either because he's too tired or can't describe it yet. He's done teething, but maybe there's something else that only bothers him at night. I remember having growing pains and things like that, so maybe it's that. Or something else entirely. But what?

One of the things I'm really perplexed by is how we should handle this. Eventually we can go to the doctor and ask their official opinion, but without a sleep study I don't think there's any way to know for sure. And considering that we're usually half awake when we run to check on him in the middle of the night, it is so hard to make a determination about what might be going on. Do we pick him up and risk making things worse? Or do we not pick him up and risk making him feel unloved in the event it's NOT a night terror? Do we just try to comfort him even though it may not work, or just let him cry it out and try to salvage what we can of our sleep? I know that last option sounds selfish, but if nothing you do is going to help, it seems so pointless to be spending all that time trying. It's hard to watch him be that miserable and be able to do nothing for him. I know we have to be there, but it's just weird and frustrating. Maybe we just hold him for a few minutes and when it doesn't work, put him back down and just sit there until he's done. It seems sort of cruel, but again, if it's not going to help and could only make things worse, what choice do we have? Hopefully these episodes will be few and far between, but now that it seems to be a bit of a trend (albeit a sporadic one), I still feel like we need a plan for when it does happen. Any ideas?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dreaming...

This week marks the first week of Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. If I haven't mentioned it before, I am an Oktoberfest freak. I may not like beer or bratwurst too much, but I am German. However, I've only found two things about German culture that truly excite me--Oktoberfest and Christmas markets. Fortunately I'm able to peek in on both of those things thanks to the wonders of technology. Both events have numerous webcams available to view all the goings-on. I've long been fascinated by webcams, dating all the way back to my sophomore year of college, but obviously I have a bit more on my plate these days and I don't have a lot of free time to browse new cameras. However, when either of these events come up, I can't help but be excited. I can watch the activity from my computer, and for Oktoberfest, I can hear it, too! I love listening to the ooom-pah-pah music of the Oktoberfest bands (and the rock music too!) and the boisterous sounds of thousands of people drinking beer, clinking glasses, and singing along. I'm not a fan of drunk people, in general, but everything just sounds so FUN. Probably because I'm sitting comfortably in a chair far away, not listening to the noise in person or dealing with drunk people falling all over themselves, or getting freaked out by the chaos and lack of English. Same goes for the Christmas markets. The lights, shopping and food look lovely from here, but I might not like it as much if I were in the middle of a sea of people, in the freezing cold, trying to find my way around a massive market. Still, they look like amazing events.

While the peak times of my vacation dreams usually happen in the middle of summer (when I've had enough of staring at the beautiful weather out my window and just want to enjoy it) and the tail end of winter (when my entire being longs to feel warm weather and sun). However, during Oktoberfest and the Christmas markets I can't help but dream about attending those events someday. I wonder what it would be like, after all these years of watching, to actually be there--to hear the sounds, smell the smells (hopefully just the good ones), and see all of the things I've been so enamored with for so long. I can just imagine it being a "pinch me" sort of moment, almost on the same level as going to prom, working in sports, getting married, or having a baby. Each was a long-awaited special event with lots of build-up, and I imagine a trip like this would be as well. Surreal, to say the least. I will say that when we got a AAA brochure with some of their current trip offerings did make me think for a minute or two whether or not we could swing something. Not only was there a plethora of reasonable cruises, but there was also a relatively reasonable (read: expensive but cheaper than I would have imagined) tour of Christmas markets in Germany and Austria. Drool.

Of course, a trip like that (or anything beyond your typical car-based road trip) is pretty much out of the question right now. Financially it would be foolish and the thought of coordinating it all (money, work, Jacob--whether he would go with us or not) is beyond my comprehension. I'm all for having a Jacob-free weekend here and there, but I'm having a hard time picturing being without him for a week. I mean, yes...Craig and I need our time alone to bond and I wouldn't mind eating a full week of uninterrupted meals. The thought of being able to take naps, read, relax by a pool, or sightsee without child-based schedule alterations does sound lovely. But I'm not sure how I'd do for a full week away from him. Considering he's the center of my world right now, and has been for over two years, I'm not sure I'd know how to do it. And if I discovered I didn't mind it, I think my guilt would ruin the whole effect anyway. But on the other hand, taking him on a major vacation not only seems like a major hassle right now, but would cost a lot of extra money for something he probably won't remember. By next year I might consider it, since I think I was three when I first went to Disney World, and I do have memories of it. They may be faint and based in part on photos I've seen in the years since, but I do remember loving it, so I at least know that much. And perhaps because the baby thing is on hold for a bit, it wouldn't be bad to do something like that before our world is thrown back into baby chaos and Jacob isn't the entire center of attention anymore. But then again, should Craig and I have one last getaway with just the two of us instead? It was nice last time when we went to Disney when I was newly pregnant (other than the whole "can't ride rollercoasters" part), but part of me would feel guilty for having a fantastic time away and not sharing it with Jacob. Even if he's not going to appreciate the cruise ship or the sandy beach and fruity drinks, it seems sort of wrong to spend all of that money on ourselves and just leave him at home. Not that he knows the difference yet, but you know...does that mean we have to buy him a really fantastic present once we get back? In any event, once another baby is added into the mix I'd have to think a good vacation would be a long, long way off again, so either way it seems like it would be nice to get away before that happens. I guess you can add that to the list of why waiting an extra year might be a blessing. Hmmm.

In the meantime, I guess we'll just have to keep an eye out for any opportunities that might come up. They'll still have to be within the budget and be worth the stress of the preparations and the travel itself, but it's food for thought. Until something comes up, I'll just have to enjoy my webcams and keep dreaming. And if, by some miracle, someday we have the money to go off to far away places and spoil ourselves with amazing views and exciting activities, that will be even better. But for now, I guess we'll have to settle with going to Rochester's version of Oktoberfest. Stay tuned for that...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Surgery and the Big 500

Yes, our sweet baby has to have some minor surgery. It's nothing big, but you know, bring on the worry. Last winter, probably around January or so, Jacob got a tiny little mole on his lower left leg. It was very tiny and the first few times I saw it I thought it was dirt or fuzz or something. It has always been very dark. It was nearly black and has now settled into a very dark brown. It's ever so slightly raised, and it has been growing at a pretty steady pace. At first I thought it was growing just because Jacob himself was growing, but it became pretty apparent in the last few months that it was growing at a faster pace. It's now 4mm in diameter. When we went for his two-year well visit, the pediatrician suggested we take him to a dermatologist to get it checked. Some moles like that are normal, but some aren't. No sense taking any chances. It took me forever to remember to call, and we finally had our appointment this morning.

I figure that our time with the doctor cost about $8 a minute (or more), because we had a $40 copay for about five minutes with the doctor. It may have been the quickest doctor's appointment I have ever experienced. She said that the mole is probably a Spitz mole, which happen quite often in kids. They're often dark in color and grow quickly. They're generally harmless, but they do send them off for testing, just in case they're one of the few that turn out to be abnormal. In any event, they're recommending that Jacob's mole be removed. It'll be a quick outpatient procedure, but because he's a squirmy toddler, they'll have to sedate him. It will be quick, but still...it's scary. Sedation is sometimes one of those wildcard things that can cause problems out of nowhere. And while 99% of the time things go fine, it still weighs on your mind. Oh, and did I mention I have no idea yet how much this will cost? Let's hope it's just another $40 copay and not some crazy surgery copay...or else we'll be paying a heck of a lot more than $8 per minute, I bet. Not that money matters in this situation, but it's just one more unknown at this point.

I'm trying my best not to turn into a crazy, hysterical parent. I know full well that stuff like this is routine and he'll be fine. Complications from anything--sedation, infection, regrowth, or God forbid, cancer--are all probably pretty rare in a scenario like this. He's a healthy kid who's worn a ton of sunscreen, and despite a family history of skin cancer (my dad has had numerous minor ones removed), the odds of this being something serious are small. But you always hear the stories of exceptions--where something seemed so minor, so routine, but suddenly it's a larger than life complication. You can't help but think a little (if only to guard yourself from seeming completely oblivious to the possibilities if something does go wrong) about the chance that it could happen to you. Parents worry regardless, and things like this just add fuel to the fire.

Right now I'm worried about how much it will hurt him, how much the stitches will bother him after, how he'll react to the anesthesia, how I'll react to seeing him going under (seriously, I've heard parents talk about the creepiness of the moment kids go limp), how he'll be when he comes back out of it, how the scar will look, and of course, whether or not they'll find something irregular in the tissue. And if they do, what that would mean, if anything. I'm sure at least some of my fears will be calmed when we meet with the surgeon. Of course, that isn't happening until the week of Thanksgiving, so I'll have plenty of time to either relax and not think about it, or let it stew 'til I'm nuts. We'll see which way things go.

As I was driving back from the appointment (I had a lot of car time this morning--into the city, back to Greece to drop Jacob off, and back to the city again--I almost hit rush hour traffic twice! I chose to take the backroads and avoid it the second time), I couldn't help but think of my "perfect" little newborn baby. One of the things that struck me most about Jacob was how natural and untouched he was when he was born. I mean, I guess he wasn't all that natural for long, considering he was born using a vacuum and had a giant bruise on his head, and then spent his first week hooked up to so many machines, being poked and prodded. But everything that was on him--his hair, skin, fingernails and toenails--was fresh. The nails all had ragged edges, just as they had developed in utero. His skin and hair were so soft. Other than those needle pricks and the bruising, he didn't have a stray mark on him. He was perfect in his natural state. But time went on. I trimmed his nails and cut his hair, and all of the bumps and bruises of babyhood came along. For so long he only drank milk--first my milk, then formula as well--the purest food available. And when it came time for solid foods, I tried so hard to keep them natural--fruits, vegetables, very few processed foods--until his appetite for those was exhausted and we eventually caved in to less natural foods that I felt like were tainting Jacob's perfect little system. But it happens. And now a piece of him will be cut out and shipped off to a lab. It's just a small piece, but it's a piece that's been part of him in some form since he was born. And now he'll have a scar. It's just weird to think about. But think we will, for the next two months.

In other news, if my calculations are correct (or at least, if Blogger is counting in-progress posts as a post), this is blog post #500. Over the life of the blog (nearly 33 months), that amounts to a post nearly every other day. Not too shabby, considering I wasn't sure I would make it a couple months with this blog, let alone all the way through pregnancy and over two years into parenthood. I am very proud of what I've created here, and really appreciate its presence in my life. Not only is it a personally written history of our little family, but it also serves a therapeutic purpose. Take my last post, for example. After I wrote that one, I felt a little better about things. It's nice to let some of the frustrations out and sort through them, and not feel like I have to put up this hard shell and keep it all inside. Honesty can be a little dangerous and embarrassing sometimes, but I think for the most part it's come out okay and I can at least say I've presented an honest account of how our lives have progressed. I don't know what I'll ever do if Blogger disappears, though I've often thought about running off and printing it out somewhere. Maybe I'll just have to print it in batches at home, in B&W, even if that won't do the pictures justice. But I'm happy it's here and hope to look back on it for years to come. Yay for post #500!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mourning my Expectations

Lately I've been trying not to think about it much, but I can't deny that I'm pretty bummed out that baby #2 does not appear to be happening any time soon. I had really wanted to be in the throes of trying right about now. At least off my pills, tracking my cycle, and making at least a few attempts at getting somewhere...but alas, it's mid-September and none of that is happening. By this time last time around, I had been off birth control for a few months, perplexed as to why I didn't appear to be getting back on a normal cycle. But pretty much a month later, I was pregnant and clueless. And getting pregnant at that point gave me a due date of late June, which is pretty much right on the tail end of the potentially pleasant and tolerable weather for pregnancy. Which means that if we're going to aim to have babies three years apart, the window is pretty much closed.

I've gone over all of the reasons before, but obviously the biggest is the financial issue. There just isn't enough cash flow to pay for another baby in daycare. We have savings, though the last thing I want to do is plan ahead to drain part of our savings. Better than not planning to do it and draining it, but still, I have a really hard time thinking it's even a remotely good idea. Might it be worth it in the long run? Probably, as a child is a pretty priceless thing. But every time I picture myself sitting down to pay bills with two rounds of daycare, powerless as I watch my balance get lower and lower, I practically get nauseous. I think the stress would make me nuts.

Craig's and my finances are separate--we never got around to doing a joint thing, though we do now have a savings account that both of our names are on--and we pretty much divide and conquer when it comes to our bills. And until we changed daycares, I was taking care of that payment. When combined with many other bills, it was draining my checking account and made me nervous every time I went to pay bills. When we switched daycares we did the math and it made more sense for it to come out of Craig's account. For the record, overall we were never really losing money--what I might have been losing each month in my account, Craig was putting away in savings--so we were basically breaking even on a monthly basis and saving what we could in the meantime. And we do have a pleasant amount of savings...more than a good percentage of people, I'd guess. Buying our house only chipped into it a bit, and if we would have stayed in our other house we'd have chipped into it a lot to make improvements. Our house is a little more expensive on a monthly basis, so it'll all even out soon enough, but we like our house a heck of a lot more now and buying it definitely lowered our stress level on a couple fronts. For the record, we LOVE it. Everything except that stupid money pit of a pool. But anyway...

The sheer thought of knowingly digging into our savings and having to deal with that reality every month makes me crazy. I just can't do it. At least, not right now. I keep hoping (perhaps foolishly) that we'll be in a different place next year. Maybe Craig will end up with a better paying job or I will fall into something better, or we'll both see changes that will somehow put us in a position to better handle the financial constraints of two kids in daycare. If nothing else, waiting another year will get Jacob one year closer to school, so the time during which we'll be paying double will be shorter. If we do public preschool and I can somehow wrangle part time work (mornings only), we could avoid that second daycare cost completely by the time Jacob is four. We're still down a considerable amount of money in that scenario, but again, so much can change. If we wait another year, Jacob will also be older and that much more self-sufficient and hopefully better behaved. He'd also be potty trained and sleeping in a big boy bed long before we'd turn his world upside down. I'd also have an extra year to take down the girly border in his future bedroom and get the carpet replaced. None of those things are bad, believe me.

But at the same time, we'll be one more year removed from baby life. I don't want to get too comfortable in toddler-land and not want to go back to diapers, nursing, pumping, and spoonfeeding. I don't want to get so far removed that we forget all of the good lessons and skills we learned the first time around. I'll be another year older, which means it'll be that much harder to bounce back. Craig will be another year older, too. Jacob will be one more year into having the universe revolve around him, so I'm guessing the transition might be harder...but at least he may be more intellectually equipped to deal with it. However, I can't help but wonder what happens if we aim for next year and 1) our financial situation is no better (or worse); or 2) I miscarry (entirely possible) and everything gets pushed back even more. I know there's nothing set in stone that we have to wait a full year, but I don't really want to have to go buy all new seasonally appropriate maternity clothes. And in the event we had another boy, it would be a shame to have a whole batch of clothes that might not match up season-wise to the size of the baby. While those are currently very practical reasons, I get that I may have to stray from that at some point if we get desperate. But I'm a big fan of not having to bundle up a newborn, I love being able to take walks during maternity leave, and I would not make a happy pregnant woman in 90 degree temps, so a spring or early summer baby is really the best option for me on so many levels, if at all possible. Again, we may not have the option to be picky, but for now I guess we can be.

That's not to say all of this isn't very disappointing. It's reality and on a very practical level I accept that it's better to wait. But I'd been planning this three-year separation for a long time and it's sad to see that it's not going to happen. I know that four years apart means that we'll avoid paying double for college as well, but it also means that their lives won't intersect as much as I would have liked. Four years may have well as been 10 when it comes to my brother and me, and while I know it may be different with same gender siblings (or any sibling pair for that matter, depending on their personalities), every time I'd come across siblings that were three years apart, it always seemed like they got along great. On a daily basis I'm still having to come to terms with all of my expectations. I've been avoiding buying clothes (especially pants) for the past couple months because I figured pregnancy would change everything again. But now I have another year ahead...though potential weight loss/gain is stopping me now, I suppose--fear of gaining more, hopeful that my workouts with Lori will enable me to lose the extra I'm already carrying. I also have to deal with the disappointment of those "next year" thoughts--thinking last Christmas that I'd be pregnant this Christmas, thinking that this fall would be like the one three years ago where I was nervously excited and buying pregnancy tests left and right. And now when I anticipate next year, it will have the added worry that things won't be any better and we'll be faced with a really tough decision next year at this time--take the plunge and suffer the financial consequences, wait again, or give up the idea all together and do the "only child" thing we swore we never would. The mere thought of any of them makes me a little crazy, quite frankly. So, in the meantime, I just keep hoping and praying that things work out--that everything will come together at just the right time and turn out better than we ever could have imagined. God's timing is generally far better than ours, so I just have to keep hoping and praying that it will work out that way this time around. Who knows? Maybe if we would have tried now, we'd end up with another boy, but next year we'll get a girl. You just never know. I have to keep reminding myself that these are rather good problems to have--wanting to protect the savings we have, being physically able to attempt another child at some point, etc. We're blessed. And yet it's hard when things don't go our way. It's hard to not feel a little sad that we won't get to embark on another exciting baby journey just yet, when we thought we would be. But I guess we just need to look on the bright side and enjoy our alone time with Jacob (and one another, and any solo time we manage) because once another baby comes along, it will be at a premium. We have plenty to do to fill our days in the meantime, so I really should just go out there and enjoy it all. The year will no doubt go quickly enough!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sports, Jacob-style

So remember the other day when I mentioned Jacob's little games on our living room floor? Here are the pictures to prove it! I'd post a video, but I think it might be too big. Bummer. But first, here's his hockey rink...


Notice the orange Zamboni (actually the tow truck from his Fisher-Price parking ramp), the M&M guy (red guy, facedown near the bottom of the picture), and the skating Smurf (laying just above the M&M).

And here's his baseball game. You can see Linus (in blue), Schroeder (the catcher), Charlie Brown (to the left), and two other Charlie Browns (a little figure and a stamper from a cool thing of Play-Doh), a Lucy figure, a little Atlanta Braves guy (Craig's team), one of the potty-prize cake toppers (green guy playing first base), and an army-guy-esque baseball guy on the pitcher's mound. Oh, and don't miss Lou Gehrig (a birthday present from a great-aunt and uncle) in the background.

Here's a quick clip of his real sporting abilities, taken at the end of the soccer game last weekend...how cute is he?
video

Finally, here's our new kitchen table. I should have done a good before-and-after shot, but rest assured, this is much nicer than what was here. It's lovely and should work out really well for us. I hope!

Sorry, just excited to finally have a real table, so I had to share! And try#1 at having Jacob sit at the table went pretty well. I can't get the high chair in quite as close as I'd like, but it should work. We'll have to practice leaning when we eat, I guess :)

One more day of the weekend...hope you have a great one!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In case there was any doubt...

In case we weren't sure that Jacob watches sporting events way too closely, we now have proof. The other day when Jacob and I got home, I gave in and let him play outside a bit. Usually when we get home I try to put off the outdoor play a bit, at least until Craig can get home and take him out himself. Usually when Jacob and I get home, I can't wait to lug our stuff inside, change my shoes or clothes, and start figuring out dinner. After all, it's usually after 6pm by then and Jacob's bedtime comes all too quickly after the time it takes to make dinner and eat it. But on Tuesday I knew Craig wouldn't be home for a bit and dinner didn't need to be rushed. The weather was pleasant and I figured that we wouldn't have too many more days like that. At one point he had his little hockey stick (a real stick that Craig cut off for him) and he gave me one, too. He sat down on the step in our garage and told me to sit down too. In the midst of all of this he was putting on a real hockey helmet with a full cage, which he usually asks Craig or me to put on (we both hate it, but once in a while we give in). Anyway, once I sat down next to him, he told me we had to hold our sticks up, meaning that we had to hold them with the blade end up. And then I realized that we were sitting on the "bench" like hockey players do, with their blade ends up. And per Jacob, that made us "hockey guys". It was the cutest thing ever, and had I been about 10 seconds quicker, I would have had a picture to prove it. Later that night I asked Craig if he taught Jacob how to do that, and he said no...that Jacob had asked him to do it too, all on his own. So, while we had long suspected that his quick grasp of various sports-related activites had something to do with his silent, intense stare at game after game, I think this pretty much solidifies it.

Jacob has also ramped up his sports activities in our living room recently. I NEED to get a picture and/or video of this one of these days, because it's crazy to see, but Jacob has sporting events set up in our living room. Much of this is Craig's doing, at least initially, but Jacob has certainly kept it up. I'm not sure what started it first, but I do know that when we moved, Jacob got to see Craig's old table hockey game (you know, the kind with the guys on the end of rods that you move in and out to move them on the surface--old school bubble hockey, if you will). And Craig also pulled out some old table hockey guys (separate from the game) for Jacob to play with. Craig let Jacob play with the little puck and old table hockey nets, and showed him how to have the guys shoot the puck. Jacob wasn't being very gentle with table hockey, so we moved that back into the crawl space. But Craig kept the hockey guys out, and for a while they were playing on this big board I had brought up for Jacob to draw on (it's a wooden dresser top, but it was cracked when we got it so we got a replacement. I kept the cracked one, just in case, and sure enough, it came in handy. It now sits on top of our drooping ottoman and provides a perfect drawing/drinking glass-friendly surface). Then Craig had the idea to bring up an air hockey table he got a few years ago. It wasn't getting much air hockey activity, so this was a good use. And ever since, Jacob has had hockey guys set up all over it. There are two nets, two pucks, and a motley crew of players -- table hockey guys, Lil' Brat hockey keychains, a hockey playing M&M guy from a gift tube I got years ago, and most recently, a Club Penguin hockey guy that Jacob got for pooping on the potty when we were in Pittsburgh. He will make his little guys skate around (sometimes complete with sound effects) and have them score. It's pretty cute. Then over the summer Craig brought up his Peanuts gang baseball figures, a set of plastic collectible toys where the Peanuts gang (Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Schroeder, etc.) are playing baseball, complete with gloves, hats, and a chest protector and mask for Schroeder the catcher. There's also a backstop and bases. He did put some of them back away (Peppermint Patty and Marcie came with it, too, and I think Lucy and Snoopy are both back in the box), but the backstop, talking scoreboard, the bases and players are all out for baseball games...along with an old Starting Lineup figure, plastic baseball player cake decorations (more potty prizes), and a couple other random players. The other night Craig added to it by showing Jacob his Lego collection and building him a little football field. And yes, Jacob does think the little Lego guys with their space helmets are football guys. Heehee :) So, we have one serious bunch of sporting events going on our living room floor. Right now everything is conveniently sitting in front of the fireplace, which limits Jacob's access to the actual fireplace. I'm not sure how it's going to go once we actually need that area relatively clear so we can use our fireplace (assuming I get up the nerve...gas or not, they make me nervous). Of course, we're planning on getting Jacob a more kid-friendly ice surface for Christmas (an adorable air hockey table using the same sort of Club Penguin hockey guys as the one he has...it's so cute and I'm just waiting for another free shipping offer from Disneystore.com to get it) and that should take up less room. Let's hope.

Yes, my son is sports-obsessed. But it beats the Wiggles any day...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fun Weekend!

We were looking forward to Saturday all last week because we knew it was going to be action packed! But first, Friday night we kept busy as we grabbed some dinner (love free entree coupons!) and did a little shopping at Target. Jacob was relatively good the entire evening--he didn't eat fantastically at dinner but was at least pleasant for 99% of it. Thank goodness.

Saturday we had a birthday party to go to in the afternoon, and we were planning on going to the Rhinos' game that night. Jacob has been begging for a game (any game!) ever since the last baseball game we went to, and we hadn't done a Rhinos game in a while. The weather was going to cooperate, so that was a relief. Anyway, the birthday party was for the four year old son of friends of ours. It was at the YMCA across town, and it was a pool party! Jacob fell asleep on the way there and was so cranky when he woke up. Getting him in his bathing suit was downright hellish. He screamed bloody murder. He always likes to be wearing shoes (I think it makes him feel like more of an athlete) and he screamed when we took those off. He screamed when we took off his shirt, which was a new lacrosse shirt we found at Target the night before. The whole experience was brutal, but once we got out and into the pool, he loved it! The water was warm and there were balls to play with, a dumping bucket, and noodles. We swam for a half hour or so. I wish I had some pictures but water and digital cameras don't mix so I never really got to take out the camera and shoot since Jacob was practically attached to me for most of the time we were in there. After that, we headed back to a room (I think it's a pre-K room during the week) for pizza, cake and presents. Jacob thoroughly enjoyed it all, particularly the cupcake. This picture looks a little dark on my screen, but hopefully you can see the smile on his face!
After we left Jacob stayed awake for the whole drive home and put up a bit of a fight at naptime, which I knew would happen the second he fell asleep on the drive there. If he gets that one little bit of nap, he'll get a second wind, minus the mood adjustment that comes with a good nap. Meaning, he'll be wide awake but he'll stay cranky. Still, eventually he went down, and went down hard. We had a good couple hours to do whatever we wanted. Craig napped and I tackled yardwork I'd been dying to do--I pulled weeds and trimmed a ridiculous number of plants--including the huge evergreens on three sides of the house, our massive rhododendrons, and some of the out-of-control plants by our back patio. It felt great to get it done, but I was BEAT after that. I could hardly lift Jacob because my forearms were so tired!

We had to wake him up so we could get to the soccer game relatively on time, and as a result, were stuck eating dinner there. Jacob ate a hot dog and Craig and I split a wrap. We wanted to go sit down ASAP, so once Jacob was down to a couple bites of hot dog bun left, we headed to our seats. Of course, Jacob held onto that bun forever, because once we got into our seats he was transfixed by the game. You can see both--transfixed Jacob and the bun remains in his hand--in the picture below...
Near the end of the game we headed down near the field to see Rex the Rhino (strangely, it feels so much better to know who's in the costume) and get in position to go out on the field after the game. Jacob had been talking about it all night. Here he is with Rex...

And here's a picture (sadly, the best one) of our time on the field... Jacob was constantly moving (hence, all blurry pictures) and it was hard to get a good one because there were always other people in the way. Jacob made a beeline for the opposite goal the second we got on the field (ugh...long run down) and then ignored the fact that there were numerous big kids using the net. He kicked a couple in despite the chaos, but then got nicked by a hard-kicked ball and was done with that for a while. He got hit out in the middle of the field, too, so it was a no-win situation for him. Still, he had a blast. He wants to "do it again" soon. Playoffs are coming, and hockey's just around the corner, too. Before we left the field, I wanted to try to get a good picture of the two of us. I've been jealous of the fabulous picture I took of Craig and Jacob after the baseball game a couple weeks ago, and wanted to try for one of my own. Of course, I forgot to change the video setting on the camera, so Craig's photo attempts ended up as short video. And the actual photos weren't great. But here's a cute second of video :)
video

Sunday we had another unfortunate church experience. We lasted until the sermon, at which point Jacob started talking (and even got in quite a yell as we were heading out) and we retreated to the family room. He was difficult in there as well, enough so that a woman walking around with a baby girl asked if he was two. Hmmm, are the terrible twos that obvious? ;-) I'm guessing she had a little boy elsewhere in the building that she was using as a frame of reference.
After lunch and getting Jacob down for his nap, I headed out for some shopping. My main objective was to go buy a kitchen table. I'm not sure if I ever mentioned it, but we've been using my parents' original kitchen table in our kitchen for the last six months. Our old house only had a dining room, so we used a nicer hand-me-down table in our dining room as our main table in our old house. We got it near the tail end of our apartment living, and before that I had used my parents' table. It's a small table with two drop leaves that are apparently not very reliable, though I've never had problems with them. But it's 40 years old and darker wood than our kitchen, not to mention that we're using dining room chairs in there, too. Anyway, it's a small area for a table that seats four, but it's possible. The old owners had a round table in there, and I do think they used it because she was very overprotective of her dining room table. It looked awkward, though, and I wasn't sure a high chair would fit in a setup like that. I opted to look for a rectangular table so we could put one end against the wall and sit two per side. I had found one at IKEA that was reasonably priced and had a look I liked, but as usual had the issue of finding a way to get one humungous box back here, plus dealing with things like customs and evil Canadian taxes and exchange rates. I ended up finally getting to a store here that specializes in dining furniture, and found a nice one that was the size and color I wanted, a more modern style than most, and even had a formica top, which will be a little more durable against whatever Jacob or future children throw at it...literally. It was a little more than I wanted to spend (in my cheap world), but it was way on sale (more than $200 less than the MSRP and and extra $50 off the current sale price for Labor Day) and I figured it was worth spending a little more for the quality. Let's hope it was a good choice and we all like sitting at it. I think it will be easiest if we lower Jacob's high chair to table height and ditch his tray (much like we did at our old house), just to save some space and start transitioning him into eating at a normal table just like us. It's going to be a challenge, but there's no time like the present. Maybe this way he'll learn it's not appropriate to dump his fruit out of the bowl every single time. Wishful thinking, I'm sure.
All in all, it was a nice weekend. Just one thing planned for this weekend coming up, and not much this week as far as I can recall. I'm sure that will change...like, for starters, I have to get Jacob some more pants. Most of last year's jeans are goners (and the rest of the hand-me-downs have giant waists...oh, my skinny little boy) and I don't want him ruining good pairs that I want to keep for weekends! Oy. Have a good week :)



Friday, September 10, 2010

Trying Time outs

Lately Jacob's behavior has gotten downright ridiculous at times. We've sort of come to a conclusion that the majority of the bad behavior happens in spurts. It's almost as if Jacob gets too excited about something and doesn't know how to contain himself...so he hits. Or he screams. In general these bouts begin with a very intense face and a tense body...almost like the energy is bottlenecking there and he gradually lets it out as he grabs, hits, or screams. It sounds a little more bizarre than it actually is, but I don't know quite how else to describe it. Sometimes it's precipitated by anger, sometimes not. I think sometimes when he gets overly happy-excited it can happen, as well. Jacob's an intense kid--as anyone who's seen him play sports will attest. He can be hilariously funny and can be really sweet and quiet sometimes, too, but for the most part he's full of energy and can get very serious about the task at hand. These episodes of his have been difficult and sometimes I worry there's some bigger issue that's causing them. But other than the means through which they happen--the intense face and body language--I don't think they're too far beyond the realm of a normal two year old. Even still, they frustrate me to no end and leave me with a pretty short fuse myself. I can't even express the frustration I felt at the grocery store earlier this week when Jacob started screaming bloody murder, just for fun. Add in some random hitting and I couldn't stand it. It's such a helpless feeling when your child is misbehaving badly and there's nothing you can really do about it...especially in public. You can tell them to quiet down, hold their arms, and yet, it just doesn't work--you both look like a mess.

In the middle of all of this, I'm afraid that I'm going to end up hurting him, if only in self-defense. I've inadvertently clawed him a couple times when he's been hitting me and I grab his arms, and as he gets stronger I can only see things getting more difficult if this keeps up. As I've mentioned before, we do spank, though we try to reserve that for anything related to safety (i.e., running into the street) or for times when he directly disobeys in a particularly infuriating manner. I'm wanting to cut down on that because I think with him (not all kids--it worked for me, and I hated every minute of it) it's worsening some of his hitting issues. The other night Jacob and I were home alone. Craig was working in Toronto for the evening and Jacob was driving me nuts. He was hitting me while I cooked dinner and being generally difficult. And twice I made him do a time out, which we've never done for real before. I sat him on a stool we have in our kitchen and made him sit there for two minutes, as timed by the microwave. If he got up I made him sit back down. When the two minutes were up, we talked about why he had to sit. And after at least one of them, he apologized. I'm not sure if that's something they practice at daycare or what, but apparently he knows the drill. We did it yesterday as well when we had a repeat of difficult behavior during dinner prep. We'll see how it goes, or if it works, but at least it's a way to take him out of the situation and give me a better way to deal with him than constant yelling or more spankings. Redirection is key, and so far this is doing the trick. And in case I have failed to mention it before, disciplining sucks.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Weighty Issue

You know, my weight has really been bugging me lately. As a woman, I understand that's par for the course. It happens. I look at old pictures of myself and think how thin my legs looked and know that I did NOT think that they looked thin in any way, shape or form at the moment that picture was taken. So I understand that being female means never being completely content with your body.

Pre-pregnancy I was at a fairly happy place with my body. I was content with it--it was strong and relatively fit. I still wasn't a fan of my hips, thighs, butt (except in jeans), or stomach (unless I was sucking in and stretching my torso), but it was acceptable. Would I have been content if someone deemed that that was as good as it would ever get? No, but it could have been worse...and it's always good to have something better to shoot for. I made a serious effort to maintain my fitness level throughout my pregnancy so I would be more comfortable, have less aches and pains, an easier delivery (Ha! Though I can't imagine how I would have survived three hours of pushing had I not been in shape.), and an easier recovery. I ate reasonably well and my weight did stay in check. I only gained about 30 pounds, and most of that was gone rather quickly. I attribute that to nursing, mostly, because most of that weight was gone by the time I actually headed back to the gym.


The gym helped me tone up a bit, though my stomach appears to be a lost cause. No matter what I do, it doesn't seem like I can get rid of the pudge or regain the abdominal strength and control I once had. Apparently kegel exercises (yes, the ones in the nether-regions) help with that, but I HATE them. I felt guilty during my entire pregnancy because I didn't want to do them. Regardless, by the time I finished nursing when Jacob was 14 months old, I was about 110-112 pounds, at least eight pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight. My butt was almost too small (flat...ugh) but I was pleasantly surprised by how slim my thighs and hips were. My stomach was still a mess, but I could deal if the rest was that good. Not that clothes fit any better, but that's a whole other issue. Well...a year later I'm back up to at least my pre-pregnancy weight, if not more. I tend to go between 120-122 pounds right now, and I'm horribly afraid that it will only continue to rise if I don't do something about it. Even worse, I just don't like how I look...at all. My stomach is flabby and won't suck in, my hips, thighs, and butt are as big as ever and laden with cellulite. And it's not just my imagination. My clothes definitely aren't fitting as well, and I can't even find underwear that will actually cover my butt and stay there. The whole thing is making me nuts.

To make matters worse, I still have high cholesterol. I know that much of it is probably genetics, but I'm trying to be careful about what I eat anyway. I don't eat a lot of high cholesterol foods, though I assume that I'm probably taking in too much saturated fat, even though I generally monitor that anyway. I know I don't eat that well when I go out to eat (who can? or who wants to pay for food they don't love?), but that's not that often. I snack more than I should, but I'm trying to work on that. I need to work out more, but that has been a major challenge. Between Craig's schedule, my schedule, dinnertime, and not enough hours in the day to begin with, it's tough. I have my one day on Thursday to go to my class, and that's been it. Jacob is now old enough to be in child care at the gym, but I just haven't given it a shot yet. I know our metabolism slows as we age, but if it's this bad now, I'm screwed. Sometimes I wonder if there isn't something more, like a thyroid issue or (God forbid) something worse. The fact that it seems so much worse now than pre-pregnancy, even though I venture I spend less time sitting on the couch these days, is what confuses me. It has been three years since my pre-pregnancy life, however, so I guess now that's a considerable amount of time in which a lot could have changed metabolically. Ugh.

Over the weekend my cousin Lori asked me if I would like to be her workout buddy. She's moving closer to our side of town (and already works there), and wants to start going to the Bally's that I've had a membership at but haven't been to in ages. My monthly dues are low enough that I keep it just in case (my Thursday gym is a different one that I get a free membership to through Craig's job), because no one else is that cheap. It's practically across the street from our general neighborhood, so I have no excuse. Lori is aiming for three times a week, though I know I can only commit to one or two in addition to my Thursday class. I figure I can fit in one more evening during the week and maybe a weekend session as well. If Craig isn't around on the weekend, Jacob can come with me and hang out in the child care room. I hope he'll cooperate, anyway. Having a workout buddy definitely helps, and I would love to encourage Lori in her weight loss/health goals. And, as it turns out, now I need it too. The workouts won't be anything crazy, probably a good dose of cardio and maybe some other general toning. I can do an hour's worth of that, I think. I think it might be enough to get me back to a good place both weight- and health-wise, so it's really a win-win, as long as I can make myself do it. And I really do want to. I think it will be good for me in so many ways. It'll improve my energy and my self-esteem, give me another little break from the craziness, and release those endorphins I so desperately need. Yes, it's less time with Jacob and a bit more of a weight on Craig's shoulders, but if he could play softball twice a week this summer (well, pre-calf injury...and that included postgame festivities sometimes), then I can work out an extra time or two each week for an hour. You do what you have to do sometimes.

I will admit that I've fantasized about being pregnant again and being able to eat (mostly) what I want and not worry about my weight as much. I also dream of miracle weight loss thanks to nursing again. However, nothing's a given. I could be so sick that food will be the last thing on my mind, or nursing just won't work next time around. God forbid, on both counts. And I know it will only get harder after another baby, so I'm trying not to use that as my escape route (though if it happens, I'll deal). The weight thing is tough, no doubt. I know I still look normal and am active enough that it's not a dire situation, but I don't want to get to the point where it is a major problem. I want to be the best mom, wife and woman I can be, and it's going to take a little work. I hope I'm ready.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

Well, we had a pretty good Labor Day weekend. We had quality time with both families and some time to ourselves as well, so it made for a nice mix. We decided to head out of town on Friday night to get a jump on the weekend. Of course, I hadn't packed a thing as of Friday at 5pm, so it was definitely a challenge. We had a quick dinner and then I packed as quickly as I could. We ended up not leaving until well after Jacob's bedtime, probably 10pm, but it was probably just as well as he hadn't fallen asleep yet anyway and the car lulled him to sleep within about 10 minutes or so. Of course, he woke up when we got to Craig's parents' house and I had the unenviable task of getting Jacob back to sleep when Craig headed out to meet up with his brother and dad, who were celebrating his dad's birthday. I ended up letting him fall asleep in bed with me, and transferring him to his pack and play once Craig got back. Once in a while it's ok, but we definitely have to make sure we don't ever let it become a habit!

Anyway, on Saturday we had some shopping to do to replace a birthday gift that was left at home in a bag that Craig forgot to grab on his way out. More on that later. After our shopping, we headed to a restaurant called "The Warehouse" that's along the Thruway (exit 51) in an old Cracker Barrel. We'd wanted to go there for a while, and this seemed like a good time. It's a sports bar with a bunch of family-friendly games. They had great pizza and we had a blast with the games. And with the promise that we could play games if Jacob was good, he was an absolute angel for the entire meal! He was particularly interested in the basketball games, but they were full size basketballs and Jacob could hardly throw them over the plexiglass partition, let alone get them near the hoop. Still, he enjoyed trying and watching Craig finish off his game. I let him help me with Skee-ball, but despite all his ball experience, rolling seems to be one thing Jacob isn't quite sure of at times. Even still, we figured that the mini bowling lanes they had might offer some fun. So, we gave that a try... To be honest, we were all pretty bad at it! It was fun to try, though!

Next we moved on to bubble hockey, which Jacob was just fascinated by. Craig pulled up a chair for him so he could see all the action, and I did my best to actually play for him, since he's not quite clear on how it all works. You'd have thought there was an actual hockey game in front of him, though. He loved it. We ended up playing two games and Jacob wanted more!


Saturday night we celebrated Craig's dad's birthday with the immediate family, and Jacob once again had a tough time going down. It took some maneuvering and some serious bargaining, but he finally went to sleep. See, the issue lately has been that if we're around, Jacob will want to play and talk and laugh, rather than actually try to fall asleep (regardless of how tired he might actually be). The big problem this weekend is that the monitor (among other non-essential but useful things) was in the bag that accidentally got left at home. So, we didn't really want to go far when Jacob was having pre-bedtime freakouts, but he wouldn't sleep if we were there. And he really wanted us there. So...I told him that if he didn't stop messing around, I'd leave. But if he laid down and stayed quiet, I would stay with him. When he didn't abide the first time, I threatened to leave. When he didn't abide the second time, I left. And of course, he freaked. When I came back, I told him again how things would work, and sure enough, he laid down, stayed quiet, and was asleep right away. I had to use this method again for bedtime on Sunday, and it worked pretty well again. Not ideal, but you do what you can. Traveling changes all the rules!

The next morning we headed off to North Tonawanda to hang out with my parents. We got there shortly before they got back from church, and did a quick run over to my grandma's for a visit. She doesn't get out a lot anymore as she's not feeling great these days, so it's always nice to bring a little bit of sunshine (in little boy form) to her house. After he ate her grapes and played with her beanie babies, we headed back home for lunch and a nap before heading off to a Labor Day picnic at my Uncle Jeff's house. It was a little cool at times, but it wasn't too bad of an afternoon/evening. We all took turns chasing after Jacob and eating lots of insanely good food! We stuck around into the evening and enjoyed a fire in the firepit before heading home for bed.

Monday we decided to stick around for a little while and have a little fun before heading home. My parents suggested we go to the Herschell Carrousel Museum in N.T. and take a ride. Unfortunately, you have to pay full admission to the museum to ride the carrousel. Now, that would have been $5 for each of us and $2.50 for Jacob. We weren't looking to do the full museum--just take a quick ride and then head to a nearby park to go to the playground and have a picnic. So...that didn't happen. But we'll go back someday when we have more time (and coupons from the Entertainment Book!). We headed over to Pinewoods Park, where I haven't been in YEARS. I think the last time I was there was when our church used to have church picnics there, and I have only vague memories of that, which gives you an idea of how long ago it was. Jacob had fun playing on the playground while we waited for the guys to come back with our pizza (no, it wasn't your traditional picnic, but it was awesome!), though it was back to some slide phobia and a lot of random running around. The playground was really high, as you can see here.

Jacob and I later went down a steep, curved slide that was that high, and I probably nearly broke his ankle when his foot got stuck between me and the slide. Not good. He recovered quickly, but it was a little scary. Why do they make them so crazy sometimes? Jacob did take a liking to the rock wall, but of course he needed some help getting up there.
After our picnic we walked around the park a bit (my parents wanted to show us a geocache they found before), and then we headed back to the car. Jacob fell asleep almost instantly, and we just drove back, packed up, and took off. Unfortunately he only got in about an hour of sleep on the way home, but what can you do? We took care of some things around the house (Craig tended to the pool, which was still clear, and I tried putting together the cart we got with our lawnmower...unsuccessfully. Can anyone help with a stripped screw that I can't remove?), and tried to relax for the rest of our last day off. Back to the grind today!

I did take Jacob to the doctor tonight to see if there was anything they could do for his terrible congestion and runny nose. Sure enough, he's still got an ear infection, so he'll be back on medication again (something different this time) to see if we can clear it all out. Poor kid. At least he hasn't been too crazy with it--as usual, we'd never have known. We have a busy month ahead of us, but it should be a good time overall. We'll keep you posted as usual!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Random Updates

Since my birthday, it's been a relatively low-key week...quiet dinners at home, weather too hot for much baseball playing outside, and finally a victory in the battle against our pool...for now, anyway. Too bad it's going to be in the 60s this weekend and we won't have a chance to swim in it before that. Figures. I guess I can just provide a handful of updates on the latest happenings with Jacob. Lately we've been hearing, "I want to help!" a lot. Jacob wants to help buckle himself into his car seat or highchair, or wants to help in other ways...though generally they're things that he can't safely help with, like when he wanted to help me put the little holder in his ear of hot corn-on-the-cob last night. I guess it's nice he wants to help, and I try to indulge him as much as I can and praise him when he does it, just so he feels loved and important. Sometimes I wonder if his acting out is a result of wanting more attention, even though I try to give him positive feedback as much as I can...so letting him help here and there is an easy one.

We've also been hearing, "Don't say that" or "Don't do that" quite a bit. I'm not entirely sure he understands what he's saying, though it's usually in a reasonably correct context. He's probably more on the mark with "Don't do that," though. "Don't say that" usually comes up when he hears something he doesn't like...that it's bedtime, that we can't stay in his bedroom too long at bedtime (last night it was "Don't go anywhere, Mommy," which was too cute!) or when we explain to him that he hurt someone.

And lately, he has been hurting people. In addition to hitting me quite frequently lately (I know...so BAD) and generally accidentally hitting Craig in sensitive regions with his sporting equipment of choice, he had a couple iffy days at daycare. He only got "50/50" in front of the term "Cooperative", which for ages had always been a simple checkmark. Sounds like he's getting to be as difficult with them as he can be with us. Great. He got in some trouble the other day specifically because he pushed down a little girl. He told us that he fought with her because she took his toys, and of course we told him he shouldn't do that, especially with a girl. At least he told the truth (we think) when we asked him what happened.

He's also been going through a big "daddy" phase. Craig steps out of the room and Jacob panics. "Where Daddy?" he'll ask, over and over. And if Daddy isn't in the immediate vicinity, he will cry and scream hysterically. Distracting him from his quest isn't easy, and usually it takes Craig walking back into the room from upstairs, downstairs, outside, or out of the shower that calms him down. When we were in Pittsburgh, Craig would be in our hotel room bathroom for a minute before Jacob would freak out. He was on the other side of the door and yet Jacob would flip. I keep wondering what I'm going to do when hockey season gets going and Craig isn't home nearly as much as he is now. When it's not a matter of him walking upstairs, but rather driving 20 minutes home (or not coming home at all until Jacob's long been in bed), I have no idea how that's going to work. Lately Craig's had to do a lot more bedtime duty and things like that, just because Jacob doesn't want to let him out of his sight. We have no idea if this is some irrational fear, or just a straight desire to spend as much time as possible with Daddy (or as little as possible with me, perhaps as evidenced by his hitting issues mentioned above). Interestingly, and maybe this is wrong of me, but I figured out this morning that I might be able to get Jacob's daily requests to go to a Knighthawks game to stop because more Knighthawks means less Daddy. I mentioned to Jacob this morning that he shouldn't rush the lacrosse season here, because when lacrosse starts, Daddy has to work more and won't be around the house as much. Now, maybe this is bad because he's already attached enough and I shouldn't reference the fact that Craig will be around less, but then again, a little bit of honesty isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm trying to be gentle with the news, but chances are it won't stick anyway.

Sleep has been a bit of a hit-or-miss proposition in our house lately. Some nights, Jacob sleeps great. Some nights he has a really hard time going down. Some nights he just wakes up once screaming for one of us, then drifts back off with a little backrub from one of us, or on his own. Or sometimes he manages to torture us for a good portion of the night, like the other night when he woke up four times. Often he'll wake up in the middle of the night, wide awake and ready to play, but usually goes down relatively quickly with a little backrub and a reminder that he can play tomorrow. Wednesday night we were starting to think we should call the doctor. While we were getting Jacob into his pajamas, he started crying...and wouldn't stop. For a while we thought it might be gas or constipation or even the remnants of teething. No amount of consoling or holding him worked, and he wouldn't tell us if something was hurting him. We tried Tylenol but that didn't seem to help either. Later he said that he was scared, and even said something about people under his bed (NO idea where that came from), but it took a lot of time and energy to get him to stop...and even then he was hesitant to stay in his crib. He finally went to sleep but ended up waking up a bunch overnight, including one other time where he was crying uncontrollably so we gave him more pain reliever, just in case. I don't want to drug the kid unnecessarily, but when nothing else seems to work, you do what you can.

We're managing, but it's not easy. If you want to know how I feel about discipline, read this post by one of my favorite bloggers. She really describes the discipline conundrum perfectly. I am right there with her.

Well, off for a hopefully pleasant, albeit cool, Labor Day weekend. Have a great one!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Baseball, Batavia Style

As I mentioned yesterday, over the weekend we took a trip to Batavia to see the Muckdogs play. They're in the same league as Auburn, but a good 45 minutes closer to us. The team may fold after this season due to low ticket and sponsorship sales, so we figured we should try to get there ASAP, just to experience it. They had a game Sunday at 5pm, so we figured that was a good bet to work around naptime and still get home at a reasonable time. We ended up getting there right around gametime, and found a long line waiting to get tickets. Apparently everyone else figured they should get one last taste of Muckdogs' baseball, too. Here's Jacob playing while we're waiting in line...He was a little hot and cold behavior-wise during the game. Luckily we had friendly people around us that didn't mind Jacob's craziness sometimes, and he managed not to crank anyone with his mini-bat. For a while he insisted on sitting on the ground, and eventually worked his way down into the crevice under the seats in front of us.
Near the end of the game we got up to walk around (and, admittedly, seek out ice cream, but the concessions were already closed), and Jacob had a blast running around this one area of the concourse. Here he is apparently catching a pop fly :)
And now batting, with Craig as the "pitcher"...

Jacob absolutely loved their mascot, Homer, and thankfully Homer was beyond friendly every time Jacob ran up to him. I actually missed meeting #1 when I was in the bathroom, when Homer signed Jacob's mini-bat. Meeting #2 was on the way out to the concourse before the pictures above, and Meeting #3 was while we were playing in the concourse. I finally got a good picture in meeting #3. That's one patient dog :)
At the end of the game, it was time for another round of baserunning. As you may recall, it didn't go so well in Pittsburgh. This time around, Jacob did fantastically! He needed a little directional help from Daddy, but ran great! AND I got this awesome picture of the boys when they were done! One of my favorites EVER.
We stopped at the Target in Batavia afterward to do some quick shopping--I'm panicking about the upcoming cool weather because the first handful of pants I tried on Jacob last week when the weather turned cool were all too short on him--and then headed home a little before 9pm. Jacob miraculously stayed awake for the entire 45 minute drive home. I have no idea how.

The game topped off a pleasant weekend. As I recall Saturday was pretty low key--some shopping for me (household stuff, nothing particularly fun) and then dinner out with one of my birthday coupons, this one for Red Robin. After dinner we did some quick shopping and made a visit to PetSmart to see the animals. We saw baby fish born that day, a bunch of kitties, and a huge group of big dogs in their day camp. Jacob loved it. I also picked up the most random early birthday present for myself. It was something that was on clearance at the Christmas Tree Shop for about $9. It looked a little like a sea monkey aquarium or something, but it holds "magic marbles". They're little gel-like balls that start out looking like the round head of a pin, but expand when you put them in water. Here's a picture of the "aquarium" and its contents. The little ones on the bottom haven't expanded yet. The button in the middle shoots air bubbles into the water to move the marbles around.
Here's what they look like out of the water. They're very colorful and are squishy and smooth. If you let them dry out they will shrink back to their original size and you can expand them again.
The package came with like, 500 of these things, and I've maybe used half to fill up the aquarium. I want to play around with them a bit--put some in a jar for my desk at work, keep some around for Jacob to manhandle, and who knows what else. Lots of places can always use a pop of color :) I think these might be pretty much the same thing that I've seen recently at craft shows used as soil, so maybe I could even do something fun there. It was such a random purchase, something I rarely do, but I thought it would be fun to play around with. And I just wanted to share :)

My birthday ended up not too bad. I did spend most of the day frustrated by Jacob's behavior the previous night, and he wasn't much better that evening. It had also been a quiet but stressful day at work, which didn't help. Lori came over a little after 7pm to watch Jacob so Craig and I could go out to dinner. I wanted to go to a hibachi place, because I haven't been to one in years and had really wanted to go again. After taking suggestions on Facebook, we decided to go to Plum Garden in Pittsford. I'd been there before but not for hibachi. We left Jacob screaming bloody murder, but Lori insisting he'd be fine. Apparently it took a little bit for him to chill out, but eventually he did and the movie Air Bud (the baseball sequel, not the basketball one) saved the evening. He was just getting to sleep as we got home. We had a wonderful dinner (Craig had chicken, I had steak) and I've enjoyed leftovers of the fried rice, veggies and steak for the last two days at lunch. So good. And very entertaining as well! I highly recommend going to one if you've never been. We finished off the night with cupcakes and some TV watching. A pleasant end to an otherwise so-so birthday. Now Labor Day is upon us. One last ditch effort to enjoy the summer (and our pool--it looks almost normal for the first time since about mid-July) this weekend, and then we're officially headed toward fall. Crazy!