After he tired of that, we moved along to the grassy fields. He ran to the soccer nets and pretended to be a goalie, and then we grabbed his baseball tee out of the car and he played with that for a while. Here's some video...
After quite a few rounds of that, we took a water break, and Jacob discovered he could do this--though it usually fell within a second :)
That night we headed to the mall so I could do some shopping. I had a couple things in mind to get and we had promised Jacob a ride on the carousel at some point...so we might as well chalk it up to the loose rules of vacation. It is only a buck, after all, and the parent gets to ride free. We didn't get any good pictures because Jacob refused to look at the camera when Craig tried to take a picture from the floor. Oh, well. He liked it a lot and has definitely improved his outlook on carousels since that first ride.
All in all, it was nice to have time off, but it was far too quick. Last year I took off one solid work week, and had two weekends bookending it. That meant nine whole days away from the office. This time I took off mid-week, not only because it worked better in our schedule but because I liked the concept of a couple short weeks bookending my time away. It does soften the blow of coming back to work when you only have a two-day week to contend with. However, it was only seven days away and seemed so much shorter than last year. Granted, there was another quick-arriving weekend this time around, which we tried to take advantage of, but it wasn't quite the same. One crappy day at the beginning and one day in Buffalo (much of which felt like it was spent in a car) probably didn't make the time feel any longer either. The break was sorely needed, though. It had been a long time since we'd spent time like that together, and work was definitely starting to get to me! Of course, Jacob slept like crap on Wednesday night, so by the time I got back to work on Thursday, I was practically as exhausted as I had been when I left AND I had an extra large pile of work to dig through. Awesome.
Much like last year, the solid week of full time Jacob care wasn't easy. We had a lot of difficult moments over the course of the week--tantrums about almost anything you can imagine--and I can't help but wonder the cause. Is it just him being two? Is it some stage of two-ness that is making things worse? Was it because he still wasn't feeling well from his ear infections? Is he thrown off being away from daycare or his daily schedule in general? Was he lacking sleep from our all-over schedule? Was he just difficult because he was with us, whom he constantly feels the need to test? It's probably all of the above, to some degree. And you know, that makes it hard. Jacob can be the most awesome, amazing kid. He's smart and passionate, and can be so sweet and so cute. But he can be a nightmare as well, so ridiculously difficult that it makes me crazy. During those sweet, engaging moments, you want to do all you can for him--spend time with him, show him new things, encourage his interests--but then when you go to do those things, suddenly you have a crazy child on your hands. It not only makes you wonder why you tried, but it also makes you question doing it again.
Baseball games are the perfect example. Jacob LOVES baseball. After a winter and spring of hockey and lacrosse, Jacob gradually became obsessed with baseball as well. He asks about going to baseball games (and hockey games, and lacrosse games...) every day. And we've been going a lot. We went to one Red Wings game a few weeks back because they were playing the Braves' farm team (the Braves are Craig's favorite team), then to the game in Auburn the night our vacation started. Then we went to the game in Pittsburgh the following Sunday, and Craig took Jacob to the Red Wings game for a little while last Thursday, my first day back at work, mostly because there was a cool giveaway (and we do get free tickets, by the way). Then this past Sunday we went to Batavia to see the Muckdogs (more on that soon), just because they might fold this off-season. That's a LOT of games in a few weeks. And we do it because it's fun for all of us and we know Jacob likes it. But so many times, once we get there, we wonder why we bothered. Jacob won't sit, won't eat, only wants to run around swinging his bat (bad when there are so many people around), complains when he can't get a bat/ball/helmet in the team store, collapses in random anger in the middle of baserunning, etc. If he likes baseball so much, why does he give us so much trouble at games? Should we stop taking him, even though it's something that he talks about constantly? Fortunately, Sunday's trip to Batavia had a happier ending, but we still had a tough time with him for a good portion of the game. It's just hard when you want to do fun things, but end up more stressed out than "funned" out.
Still, I think it's important to have those long spans with Jacob. It's good for him to get some quality Mommy-Daddy time. Hopefully it gives him some perspective (can two year olds have that?) on his daily routine--helping him to realize what he likes and that he should appreciate certain things. His time with us is scarce, so he should make the most of that, and his time at daycare is special in its own way as well--many people that care about him and always something new with crafts, foods, songs, books, and other activities, all settled into a nice, comfortable routine. Daycare is all he's known, really. Five days of that, followed by two days of weekend, and so on...for all but the first month and a half of his life. It's sad, in a way, as some kids get ALL of that time with their parents and don't have to separate themselves until at least preschool. It's always interesting this time of year on Facebook as stay-at-home moms send their kids off to school for the first time. I'm sure I'll have my share of "my baby's all grown up" moments when Jacob finally goes off to kindergarten, but considering I've been sending him off somewhere every day since he was seven weeks old, I'm not sure it'll be the same kind of angst. On the bright side, aside from it being a separate setting, Jacob will already be used to spending the day away so hopefully we can avoid any crazy separation anxiety issues.
I'm still not sure when I'll feel prepared to deal a real vacation. I dream of us all going out to Portland to visit my brother and his family, but I can't even fathom Jacob on a plane ride right now. I'd love to go to the Jersey Shore, or maybe the Adirondacks, or even up to Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec, but all of those are long drives and I'm just not sure when Jacob will be ready for that. DVDs work wonders, but even still, that's a long time and we can only stop so much. And if you add in the thought of another baby at some point, it gets even more complicated. We can barely fit in a car as it is. At least the baby would sleep most of the time. We have another year to worry about that, I guess, so now the countdown begins for my time off around Christmas...I can't wait!