Friday, October 29, 2010

The Little Things

Amidst our current frustrations with Jacob, there are times when it is hard to look at the bright side and see the silver lining. We love him, obviously, but when your child tries your patience at every opportunity, it's hard to be positive. For example, the other night I worked out, and we decided to go out and grab a quick dinner. It was late, I was tired, and while I would have cooked, it just seemed easier and quicker to go grab something. Of course, before we could get out the door, Jacob was freaking out because a) he was watching "Air Bud"; b) he wanted to bring multiple hockey sticks (not just one); and c) we tried to put on his jacket. All of this led to a major tantrum. And actually, the jacket thing leads to a tantrum pretty much every morning now. And any attempt to pull Jacob away from his hockey sticks or hockey guys is usually met with some sort of tantrum or complete denial and continuation of playing. It's not fun. Speaking of not fun, his tendency to just lay down on the floor in the middle of public places is driving me insane. He'll do it in the middle of a tantrum or when he's just happy and silly. Makes. Me. Nuts.

Anyway, once we were there he insisted on feeding himself--meaning, if we helped him by giving him a fork full of food, he refused it. But then when he had the fork himself, he'd either make a mess of the food, nearly flinging it everywhere, or he was playing with the fork. Oh, and he ended up breaking the (plastic) fork because he was chewing on it. Awesome. He was also grabbing at his hat with greasy hands, then complaining when we took it off. But then, as we were packing up to head out, he helped me push the high chair back to its spot. He just did it. It was too cute, and I made sure to praise him for it.

So, per the title of this post, I guess I'm finding myself having to grasp on to the little things he does that make my day. Such as...

- When he finally gives me a real hug or kiss when I ask him for one

- When he sits down and/or hugs me out of the blue, like yesterday when he was watching his movie and I sat on the floor with him, and he just plopped into my lap

- When he eats all of his food without incident or serious prodding

- When he falls asleep without complaint AND sleeps through the night (knock on wood, but this has been really great lately...but strangely, I'm still tired)

- When he gets his sunglasses on by himself

- When he hugs his stuffed animals or makes them do silly things like sit on my head

- When he says, "Wanna do it again"...meaning he liked something so much that he wants to do more of it. He doesn't get visibly excited by a lot of things, so when he says that, it's nice to know he enjoyed it. I also like when he tells me that he's "excited" to do something. Nice to know that he wants to do something, even if he inevitably has some sort of meltdown when we actually go to do it.

- When he puts on his pajama pants all by himself

- When I get a real, adorable smile or even his insanely cute "cheese face" when I'm trying to take pictures

- When he says or even uses a word that I didn't know he knew...he's getting to be so smart!

- When he says a word incorrectly, but gives it the cutest spin--like the other day he must have picked up on it when I said he was running around like a maniac, and the other morning he used the word "minimac" in context and we couldn't help but laugh! Another one I loved was when my dad was showing him his juggling skills and Jacob kept calling it "gungle".

- When, even though it's been happening a little too much lately, Jacob reaches up and says, "Carry me". It's endearing and I love a good cuddle, though I'm not sure how long my back and arms can take it!

- How ridiculously cute he looks running down the hallway in his PJs, diaper, or even minus his clothes. That tush is the cutest :) And yes, I know someday he'll be rather unhappy I just typed that.

I'm sure there are more I'm missing, but that's enough to keep me smiling for a bit, at least until the next tantrum. We should have a fun weekend on tap. We're going to the circus tonight (a first for me, even) and my parents are coming to visit tomorrow. It's been a while since we've seen them, since they got back last weekend from a nine-day road trip down south, and it had been a week or two prior to that since we last visited. Sunday is, of course, Halloween, so we'll see how trick-or-treating goes. We still had a little trouble convincing him to wear his costume this morning for daycare, but I think as he realizes it is actually fun to dress up and get candy (heck, I'm 30 years older than him and I still enjoy it, as evidenced by my day today. I dressed up like a grocery bag and have eaten far more candy than I should have.), he'll want to do it more. Let's hope he figures that out by Sunday. Hopefully I'll have a few cute pictures to share soon! Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Move...A Year Later

No, you didn't lose track of time. We've only been in the new house for seven months (even still, holy cow!), but the whole process started about this time last year. I blogged at the end of October last year about the very beginning of the process--the day Jacob and I went to an open house out of pure curiosity, and how I ended up loving the house. Of course, in the end it wasn't the one we ended up with, but it was the one that provoked us to get our house in shape to go on the market. While it didn't happen in time to get that house, we were more than ready when the right one did come along. Thinking back on the past year has been pretty mindblowing, and pretty much every single night I find myself thanking God that we ended up with such a great home. There are just so many things that I love about our house, things I didn't even realize I wanted, and it's awesome to realize how well things worked out.

With the same cool weather and fall leaves as I vividly remember from when Jacob and I went to that open house last year, I've been thinking back to it a bit recently. I remember the leaves so vividly because the backyard of the house had a lot of trees, almost a woodsy feel to it. And I spent a lot of time looking at that backyard, just trying to visualize how it compared to our yard, how Craig would mow around the trees, and what kind of swing set-type contraption we might be able to fit there. That house also had a lovely deck right off the kitchen that I admired quite a bit. And just the sight of fall leaves and experiencing a Sunday where it was just Jacob and me took me right back to that day. It was all very exciting. I mean, originally when we went to the open house, it was a pure curiosity thing. I hadn't even wrapped my brain around the idea of moving. It was merely the idea of going to see a style of house that I had noticed before--fairly new, slightly contemporary, reasonable in size and price, good neighborhood--and seeing if it was something that might work for us. I seriously figured the house wasn't as good as it looked and I could just move on with my life not needing to see another one like it ever again. But the house was awesome. It was in great shape, had a huge kitchen, easy access to the yard, cathedral ceiling in the living room, a finished basement with plenty of storage, great bedroom sizes, and everything was livable, style-wise...except for maybe the horrible wallpaper in the dining room. The kitchen counters could have used some sprucing up as well, but we could have managed for a while. After all the bad luck we had looking for houses the first time around, I was shocked that the first one I looked at this time around was so good.

And that was really when it got exciting. I started to think about the possibilities, what it would be like to live in a newer house that needed less upgrading, how we could decorate it, and how we'd use each room. I still had reservations, such as the massive staircase, the size of the living room, and how I'd feel about having our computer in the basement, not to mention the homeowner's association fee we found out about later, but the house was truly good enough to get us started on the path to selling ours. But just getting that show on the road was torture. I don't think I was prepared for that, but it did validate my thinking that I did NOT want to do any of it pregnant...and since we were originally hoping to be working on baby #2 by right about now (sigh), I was shocked to realize that we were getting short on time and it was a good time to get started.

We spent most of the fall meeting with realtors and trying to figure out how to best showcase our house. I remember being a tad nervous about decorating tastefully for the holidays and deciding on and scheduling a handful of improvements. I sort of recall the rest of our fall as being a bit stressful, and spending a lot of weekends shuffling off to random open houses, just in case the other one fell through or other houses made us think twice. And in the end the house we loved ended up getting an offer before we were ready. I think it was about a month after I saw it, and a week or two before our house finally went on the market. It was bitterly disappointing, and got me extra stressed that we wouldn't find another one, let alone with the right timing to sell ours. And while not everything turned out perfectly as far as selling our house was concerned, buying the one we did turned out pretty darn great. I still remember walking into it for the first time and being shocked (in a good way) at what we saw. And now that house is ours. Sure, I'd love to have a kitchen with a little more room for our table, easier access to the outside, and to have Jacob's bedroom and the full bathroom be a little bigger, but as I said, there are so many great things about this house that I can't really complain. It fits us.

So here we are a year after we started this process, nicely settled in our new house and about to celebrate our first Halloween in the neighborhood. And after that we'll have our first Christmas season, complete with the exciting but difficult decisions on how to decorate our new space. I didn't really think much at the time about how we were spending our last fall, last Halloween, and last Christmas in our old house--probably because I was doubting that we'd ever survive the craziness...or at least was having trouble seeing past it. And I obviously had no idea in the spring and summer last year that we'd never see those seasons in that house again. I think I was so stressed out by the whole process that I only took a few rare moments to think about how sad it was to be leaving the first house we had as a family. We had some nice memories there and sometimes I still find it hard to believe we'll never be back there. On the other hand, I was super excited to get into our new house and start making new memories there. We already have, and I imagine we will for years to come. It's been a whirlwind year and it's hard to believe the move is already so far behind us. It seemed to take forever in the middle of it all, but now it all seems like a distant memory, mercifully gone in the blink of an eye. What a difference a year makes...

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Weekend Without Photos

It was bound to happen. I finally forgot the camera and it proved to be the only photo-worthy moment for the whole weekend. Ugh. When I left off on the Halloween tale of woe, Jacob had no costume. He had refused everything in the store and any of my ideas, determined to be a goalie. That was not happening for many reasons. A little while before we left for the hockey game at which he could trick-or-treat in the suites, I went up to his closet to see if I could fashion a halfway decent baseball costume from some of the jersey-ish shirts he has. But when I opened up his closet, my eye was drawn up to the fireman-themed raincoat my mom gave him for his birthday. A-ha! I knew that the Halloween store was selling fireman helmets for cheap, and Jacob likes wearing the fireman helmets at daycare (they're baseball helmets to him), so it seemed to be my best bet. It took some convincing, but it worked long enough to get him through trick-or-treating. He got a nice little pumpkin full of candy, and I let him have just a few pieces before tucking it away to reduce the odds of a sleep-interrupting sugar rush. But, since I ended up changing from the diaper bag to a backpack right before we left for the game, I forgot the camera to capture the moment. Ugh. And yes, I have decided that when I have way too much stuff to carry around, the backpack works better because it completely zips up and nothing falls out of it when I bend over or contort myself to catch Jacob as he runs away, which lately is all I feel like I do when we're together. I guess pictures of the costume will have to wait for Friday or Sunday. Assuming he'll let me put it on him again, of course.

As a whole this weekend bordered on hellish. Jacob fought us on EVERYTHING. The only time he was good was while we were at the hockey game. He sat nicely, trick-or-treated very well, and even fell asleep fairly easily once we got home. There was one downright lovely moment, actually, right at the beginning of the hockey game. There was a tribute to Craig Charron before the game, and I was all teary-eyed and sniffling for most of it. I don't know if Jacob picked up on that or not. He's not the most empatheic kid out there, after all. As the game was getting started I asked him if he wanted to sit on my lap or sit in his own seat. I'd had him in my lap so I could keep him close through the tribute, but lately he's been sitting in his own seat most of the time. He told me he wanted to sit on my lap, and then ended up giving me a big hug, totally out of the blue. I don't know why, but maybe he sensed something. It was certainly well-timed, if nothing else.

But Sunday morning it was back to more of the same. Church wasn't too bad, all things considered. A couple less than lovely moments, but he was manageable most of the time. He fell asleep on the way home from church for about 10 minutes, but woke up as I put him in his crib. He was quite awake so I figured we should just eat lunch so I could get him down for a decent nap before the Craig Charron celebration of life that started at 3pm. Well...Jacob had other plans. He refused to nap and I was at my wits' end by the time Craig stopped home from a player appearance to shower and change before heading out to the setup for the Sharky event. I sucked it up and somehow managed to get Jacob out the door. But for pretty much the entire four hour event, he was intolerable. He just wanted to play hockey and run out to look at the ice. He refused to sit still, play near us, or make it easy for us to do anything. We were constantly taking turns chasing him, grabbing him as he tried to escape from the other's grasp, or policing his high-sticking tendencies. It made it hard to really enjoy the event or properly mourn/celebrate our friend. I tried to listen to the speeches and take a few minutes to watch the photo slide show and the tape of Game 7 of the 1996 Calder Cup Finals that was playing in the background, but it wasn't easy. I was still happy we went and felt fortunate to be a part of a great event honoring a great guy, but I was so exhausted by the end. And, at long last, so was Jacob. I could see he was fading and I finally got him to the point where he laid his head on my shoulder and I could rock him to sleep. We took turns carting him around for about 30-45 minutes, and I finally packed up and headed out. He woke up when I put him in his carseat at 7pm, and I let him stay up for a bit once we got home, hoping he'd tire himself out again. He went down at 8pm with little fanfare, and slept right through until I woke him up this morning. Thank God.

I'm hoping it's all just a short phase, or that maybe he's not feeling well and it's making him extra cranky. Could be time for another doctor visit to ensure that he doesn't have an ear infection, but I guess we'll just have to watch a bit. But his behavior this weekend was intolerable. It shouldn't be a battle every time we try to do something--eat a meal, go to bed, play nicely, leave the house, change a diaper, put on a costume. He's constantly trying to run away, no matter how many times we tell him that if he does it in public someone could take him away. He'll get weepy for a second when we tell him that, but 10 seconds later he's off again. He's got no fear and seems unfazed by the amount of stress he's causing us. Sometimes he'll apologize, but that seems to happen more often when we're holding a hockey stick hostage or he wants to do something and thinks an apology will get him what he wants. Lovely. He's usually so intent on playing hockey or lacrosse that nothing will dissuade him. Usually he'll do it in the middle of someone's walking path and swing his stick around no matter whose body parts may be in the way. He was so good about that for so long, and now suddenly his stick is up all the time. Yesterday I think he would have gladly sat and stared at the ice for a long time, but obviously that wasn't really on our agenda. And while he's two and I get that adult functions (even kid-friendly ones like this one) aren't his thing, shouldn't we be trying to get him used to being polite and functional when he has to be at one? Apparently he's not buying it.

So, yeah, rough weekend. And no photos to capture the one good moment. Maybe next weekend...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Halloween Horror - An Update

So, as a follow-up to yesterday's post, I took Jacob to a couple stores this morning to try to find a Halloween costume he'd agree to. We told him last night that he couldn't be a goalie or a hockey guy because we just didn't have the stuff to do it. Craig even took him to a store with used equipment to see if they had anything, but no dice. I tried to explain to him that if he didn't pick another costume, then he couldn't go trick-or-treating. He could do it tonight at the Amerks game and again on Halloween, plus he has a party at daycare on Friday. Oh, how I miss his old daycare that did pajama day on Halloween instead!

Anyway, this morning we tried Toys 'R' Us, Old Navy, and the costume store at the mall. Toys 'R' Us just had annoying character ones, Old Navy had nothing left, but we almost had a winner at the costume store. There was a blue M&M (and since Jacob loves M&Ms I thought it was a decent fit) and a Penguins of Madagasgar costume. Jacob always liked that show, so I thought it might be fun. And both were reasonably priced. I decided against the M&M only because I had no idea what we'd put under it leg-wise, and I really didn't want to have to figure that out. But the penguin was really cute, not too heavy, and it looked like it would fit him. But he wouldn't try it on. He refused and freaked out. Rather than waste time and embarrass ourselves, I loaded him back in the stroller, put the costume back, and told him that he wouldn't be doing Halloween this year. He got upset, but I kept trying to explain to him that if he won't wear a costume, then there's nothing we can do.

What's worse, his behavior at all of our stops this morning was so bad that I opted against going to the lacrosse game this afternoon. We were all disappointed, but I was not willing to deal with Jacob in that state. When he's cranky about everything, won't stop trying to run away, and insists on playing hockey in the most inappropriate places (to the point that you can hardly move him), it's just easier to stay home. My suspicions were confirmed when I sat him down to lunch. He practically inhaled three-quarters of his sandwich and then started falling asleep in the middle of the fourth piece. I had turned my back for a few seconds to cut an apple for him, and suddenly I heard a clunk as his head hit the back of his chair. I turned around in time to see him do the head jerk and wake up momentarily. He was still insisting he wasn't tired and even tried to eat a couple pieces of apple, but it was not happening. He was pretty much out before I got him to his room. Poor kid. Even still, it looks like Halloween might not be happening this year. I guess that solves the "who stays home vs. who trick-or-treats" debate before it even got started. We still have a few days, but I'm not hopeful since most of the stores are cleared out already.

I did think of a random but cute costume on our way into the house, by the way. Do you think it would work to buy one of those Wegmans reusable grocery bags, cut holes in the bottom for his legs, use the handles as over-the-shoulder straps, and just fill it with play food? Heck, maybe I'll do that for myself! Might be worth the 99 cent investment to try! I think he'd like the play food, at least. Something to think about :)

As a side note, I'll admit that we're sometimes concerned about Jacob's stubbornness. I know he's two and that's just how two year olds are, but sometimes I can't help but think that he's a bit over the top. He's very particular about playing with his hockey guys and leaving them in the right positions when he leaves them. He often feels the need to play hockey right then and there, no matter how you try to dissuade him or move him from his spot. He will have a complete meltdown if he can't bring a certain stick with him when we go out. He completely freaks out if he can't wear a certain shirt, if we take off his sneakers, or if he can't do exactly what he wants to do at any given moment. All of these things are worthy of major meltdowns if they don't go his way, and I find myself just picking him up and slinging him over my shoulder way too much these days, just because it's one of the few positions I can get him into where it's hard for him to hit me or escape. It's pretty awful. Considering he's pretty social it's doubtful that he's got anything as serious as Asperger's, even though some of things he does are scarily consistent with the symptoms, but it doesn't stop me from worrying that there's something about his personality that's going to be a problem as he grows up. Craig told him the one day that he can't just go through life being cranky, because he's going to miss out on a lot of fun. I think that was when we were at the pumpkin patch and he was refusing to go down the big slide or climb the haybales. And I think we've all been there. I know there have been times when something should have been really fun, and I was too caught up in something not going my way to just sit back and enjoy it. That day, Jacob was so intent on doing something else (probably playing hockey) that he was missing out on the fun that was right in front of him (and wouldn't be for long). And now his insistence on being a hockey goalie and not wanting to try on costumes could cost him the fun of Halloween. It's too bad and I hope it's just a phase, but it's been happening way to much lately. Sad, isn't it?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Stress

I never realized back in the day how good I had it when it came to Halloween. If I knew what I wanted to be, I had the assistance of a crafty mother and grandmother to make it happen. If I didn't know what I wanted to be, a few minutes rummaging around said crafty grandmother's piles o' stuff generally gave me inspiration to be something. I had some fantastic costumes. Nothing flashy, perhaps, but I never had to rely on going out and buying some crappy store-bought character costume. I always had something cool and just a little bit different, generally cobbled together from an assortment of sources. From Grandma's fabrics and costume jewelry to my parents' Halloween box, from years of kid costumes that had been passed down to my mom's handiwork...there were plenty of options out there. I think I was Strawberry Shortcake one year, and my mom must have done a heck of a job on that one. I was an angel a couple years in a row. I was a cowgirl with a glittery vest another year, a gypsy with a glittery tambourine another. I was a millionairess one year, decked out in jewelry, makeup, and yes, a fur stole that might just have been real. I think my last year of trick-or-treating I did end up going to buy a witch hat, but I think I wore an old graduation gown from the Halloween box to go with it. Long story short, I was lucky to have a nice assortment of materials and a couple helpful folks to help me put it all together.

Fast forward a few more years, and I was relegated to store-bought costumes for a couple work-related Halloween events. I did a queen and a beer wench, and while I at least made a couple accessories for them (a sparkly gold crown for the queen, and beer/root beer glasses for the wench), I still felt like I was selling out. Last year I managed to get a bridesmaid dress altered and use this random silver briefcase we had to be a Deal or No Deal girl, but that's about as fun as it gets. I'm currently pondering my options for this year, and I'm getting frustrated with my lack of creativity and drive. But you know, for me, it's not a big deal.

But when it comes to Jacob, I feel bad that I'm not a fancy costume maker. Visit any number of mom blogs and the guilt starts getting worse when you see what other creative folks come up with. So far we've managed. Jacob got a hand-me-down bee costume his first year, and the fantastic mouse costume that I wore as a kid (homemade, of course) for last year, but this year I'm totally stressed. He is insisting on being a goalie. A hockey goalie. Not exactly a costume I can glue gun together. And quite frankly, even if I did, I think Jacob's smart enough to call me out on it. He wants a real helmet, real skates, and real everything else. He's been asking for a lot of that stuff for Christmas anyway, so we could kill two birds with one stone, but I have some reservations. First, I don't want to spend a ton of money on this stuff. Sure, it'd be cool to get him some skates and a helmet and let him start learning how to skate. But even if I relent and he plays organized hockey at some point, he'll outgrow pretty much anything we get now by then....so really, why not wait another year or two? We do have the option of looking into used equipment, and apparently there are skates that grow with your child, but I still don't think it's going to be cheap. Second, wearing a ton of hockey equipment is not exactly convenient for trick-or-treating or for sending in to daycare. It's too bulky, too heavy, and in the case of skates, not even remotely possible. But even in sneakers it just won't work.

My creative plan was to convince Jacob to be the hockey monkey from his favorite movie. Then I could get a standard monkey costume and just add a hockey stick and a jersey or something. It seemed like the perfect plan, but no, Jacob keeps whining that he wants to be a goalie. End of story. So here I sit a week away from Halloween festivities, and I'm clueless. And even worse, I realized that tomorrow night's Amerks game is their Halloween game with trick-or-treating in the luxury suites. We already have a busy day on tap tomorrow so I don't know that we'll even have time to pull anything off, let alone his dream goalie costume. And I don't think Jacob will be too keen on wearing anything less. Ugh. There are days he's picky about his clothes, so I don't see him being very accomodating with a potentially uncomfortable costume that's not what he wanted.

While I don't think I have to go out and spend $40 to get him a great costume, I'm lacking in creativity and time. And I don't exactly have a willing participant if things aren't perfect, so I'm worried. Quite frankly, I also don't want to put a ton of time and money into a costume only to have Jacob freak out at the most inopportune time and not want to wear it. While I know Halloween is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, I don't want to look back (or, ummm, walk into his day care room on Friday) and be embarrassed at how little effort I put into his costume. I don't want it to look like I don't care. I do care, but I'm feeling stuck. And while it would be easier to have a kid that just wants to be Buzz Lightyear or a puppy, I suppose that's just not Jacob's style. I hope someday he uses that trait for good. In the meantime it might make me crazy, but still....assuming we can get through Halloween without an emergency room visit this year, we'll have to consider it a success, right?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pondering the Unthinkable

We lost a friend on Tuesday. His name was Craig Charron, and Craig and I have both known him for about 10 years. We both worked for the team during his second playing stint with the Amerks, and once he retired in 2002, he became our co-worker. I worked with him closely because he was part of the sponsorship department--meaning I helped manage his clients--and Craig worked with him quite a bit on the production end, particularly when he'd help out with TV broadcasts doing analysis. In addition, Craig fondly recalls running three press conferences for him--when he came back to play in Rochester, when he retired, and when he announced that he had cancer (ugh). Anyway, he worked for about three seasons in the front office before moving on to other things--things that allowed him to make more time for his family and community involvement, both of which were near and dear to his heart. Because the hockey world is a pretty small one, we crossed paths with him a few times in the years that followed. But this summer presented an entirely unexpected scenario.

In May, we found out that "Sharky" had a serious-most likely terminal--case of stomach cancer. Considering the guy was only 42 years old, it was shocking. Even more, as a former pro athlete who still kept himself in tip-top condition, it was even more insane. It just didn't seem possible. On top of that, he was married with a beautiful wife and four kids. The oldest is 14, and the youngest was born last September. Absolutely heartbreaking. And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy...so of course, the second it got out, everyone wanted to help. He was hesitant to go public with it, but after much convincing, he relented. I assume he did it for the good of his family--knowing that going public would enable him to secure his family's future once he was no longer able to. And so began the summer of fundraisers. There was a celebrity bartending event, a softball game, and a hockey game. A couple weeks ago there was a spaghetti dinner put on by the Amerks' booster club, and this past Monday we went to an event at a local bar--basically raffles and a buffet dinner. All of the events had a very positive vibe despite the grim prognosis he had from the beginning, but it was hard not to be optimistic. Sharky had the best attitude I've ever seen. He was sure that the depressing stats associated with this type of cancer were based primarily on older, more feeble patients, rather than a strong, healthy 40-something like himself. In between rounds of treatment he felt good, and at one point, one tumor had disappeared and another had stopped growing. And even as of a week ago, they were still looking into new treatments and thinking his most recent hospital stay would be short lived.

But it wasn't meant to be. He died early Tuesday morning, mere hours after this most recent fundraiser. We knew at the fundraiser that things weren't going well. At least one good friend skipped the fundraiser to stay at the hospital, and the whole group of "in-the-know" folks that we sat with seemed a little more reserved than usual. While I think we all figured it would be soon, I don't know if anyone was prepared for it to happen that night. Seeing one of the alumni guys post the news on Facebook first thing in the morning was a tough pill to swallow. It just didn't seem possible. I mean, we knew it was coming, albeit perhaps not that soon, but when the person in question is one of the more enthusiastic, friendly people you know, the mere thought of them ceasing to exist is just...odd.


I've spent the better part of three days trying to wrap my brain around it all. There are so many elements to this particular passing that have left me at a loss. I guess I'm blessed that losing a friend isn't something I've dealt with much in the past. I've lost a few family members, a teacher, and a few classmates (only one that I was fairly close to--a college friend), but for the most part I've been spared the worst. And anyway, when older family members pass, it's something that you almost expect, at least on some level. You may not expect to lose them when you do, or may not think into it this deeply, but on some subconscious level, you know that most likely the older generation is going to go before you do. But friends? Co-workers? It doesn't really cross your mind. They'll be around for at least as long as your lives will intersect. Or so we think.


Even though I knew for a while that this one was coming, for some reason the actual event has caught me off guard. Maybe it's the family he left behind--Two sons, 14 and 12, and two daughters, nine and one. He was supposed to coach his oldest son in high school hockey this year. I remember when his boys were little and his oldest daughter was a newborn. I think back to my near-shock last fall when the picture of their newest addition popped up on his Facebook page, and the brief conversation we had about her at an Amerks' game early last season. No doubt he was already feeling the effects of the cancer but was chalking it up to newborn parent sleep deprivation. The new baby made the diagnosis seem that much more overwhelming at the time, because I couldn't even fathom becoming a single mother of four, particularly with a baby involved...nor could I fathom the grief he had to have felt as the one leaving them behind. It's hard to get stuff like that out of your head, particularly once you become a parent. I just don't know how you function...and how you make sure your kids function. I hope I never have to find out.

It's been amazing to see everyone in the hockey community reminiscing over the past few days. Lots of Facebook statuses, newspaper articles, and blogs have mourned the loss. There are just hockey players he coached, their parents, former clients and teammates--the list goes on. And I think that's part of what makes this death so unique. Not only was Sharky a friend, but he was a former co-worker--and in sports, co-workers are like family. It may be a dysfunctional family, but when you spend obscene amounts of time at work, you can't help but have a connection with the people you're there with. And finally, as a hockey fan, I mourn the passing of a great player. And while I know this is bound to happen when someone dies, everyone who speaks of him remarks what a truly nice guy he was. He always had a warm smile and plenty of enthusiasm. And in his voice you could hear a bit of that unmistakable Boston accent.

I wrote two articles about Sharky when I worked for the Amerks. I wrote one during his last season as a player, and another during his first season in the front office. The first primarily discussed how he played in Rochester in the mid-90s and won a Calder Cup, then tried his luck with a couple other teams before happily coming back to his adopted home in Rochester. The second one looked back on his career and discussed the transition into his new job. An overriding theme of both articles was his dedication to his family. He talked about how much he loved it here in Rochester and wanted to raise his family here, and how the decisions he had made were based on them. And, like I mentioned earlier, when he left the Amerks he was doing so to make more time for the other things in his life that were more important--namely his family and his community. His dedication to both never wavered. In fact, my only complaint about the guy as a co-worker was that there were times when a few extra tasks fell on those of us in the trenches if he wasn't available to help with a sponsor event. But usually he had other priorities--and while it didn't make me feel much better at the time, now that I'm a parent, I get it. It's why I said I'd never be able to work there as a parent. Obviously he came to understand that, too. In the end, it's not fair to anyone.

I'm still not entirely sure this blog post belongs on this blog, but I felt like I had to put it down somewhere. I do think that this whole experience has been impacted by being a parent myself--imagining what the family has gone through for these past 10 months since the diagnosis, and wondering how they'll ever get through now that the worst has come to pass. I can't even imagine going through that and can only pray that God will give them a sense of peace as they continue on in life, despite the gaping hole in their new existence. I'm sure we've both squeezed Jacob a little tighter this week. It all definitely makes you think about your own mortality and the mortality of those you love. I think sometimes we need the sobering reminder of how nothing is guaranteed and how you have to live every day to the fullest. I think those are particularly important reminders as a parent, when the constant busyness and frustrating moments tend to drown out the joy of the amazing blessings we have in our lives each day. It's not the way I wanted to get a reminder like that, but I will gladly take it and try to honor his memory by keeping that thought in mind, even in the most trying times of parenthood and life in general.

We'll be saying our official good-byes on Sunday at a private celebration of his life. I feel very fortunate to have made the invite list. It'll probably be one of the happier memorial-type events I'll ever attend, despite the tragic loss associated with it, simply because that's how he wanted it to be--a celebration of the great life he lived. Farewell, Sharky...thanks for everything.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The rest of the story...

After our busy day on Saturday, I was a little concerned about flying solo on Sunday when Craig had to work a hockey game. I know how Sundays can be, especially when I didn't get a chance to nap on Saturday. Nevertheless, Jacob and I went to church (not bad...he had his moments but nothing horribly embarrassing), came home for lunch, and then he went down for a nap. He stayed down for two hours, during which I took care of some things around the house and then sorted through pictures from the summer in preparation for printing the good ones one of these days. When he woke up, I had two things in mind--a shopping trip to scout for Halloween, and a walk to the playground to enjoy the pleasant weather and let him work off some energy. I decided to do the playground trip first, since that seemed more important and the sun would only keep things warm for so long. So, into the stroller went Jacob, and we walked around the corner to the playground. It's a good 10-15 minute walk--not far, but lots of curves. When we got there Jacob was excited to play on the playground, but as usual insisted on running around with his hockey stick, which makes me nervous since both hands are preferred for climbing. Here's Jacob showing off his goalie stance...

After climbing on the playground equipment for a while and taking a few slide runs, we headed over to the basketball court so Jacob could play hockey. He loved having the wide open space to run and play, and decided that the entire one wall of the school should be the net. I had to play goal. Such a happy boy...
Then he decided it was time for some basketball...look at that form!
Eventually I had to get us headed back toward home because I wanted to hit up a couple stores before they closed (darn early Sunday closing times) to scout things out for Halloween costumes--both Jacob's and mine. I finally convinced Jacob it was time to go, and once we got home I relented and let him play for a few more minutes. Here's Jacob in his hockey helmet, which is way too big for him...
And finally, before we left, here's a picture that took way too much convincing and prodding and yelling to get. Thank goodness it's so darn cute. How hard is it to smile, look at me, and keep stop picking up the pumpkins? Seriously, the kid is going to have those pumpkins smashed long before Halloween comes!
Our Halloween shopping did not go well, and we even cut the outing short and came home for dinner because Jacob was getting a little bit difficult to deal with. I'll blog more about the Halloween costuming issues soon. But it was definitely a fun fall weekend!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkins!

Let me start out by saying that I find it terribly ironic that I consider the annual visit to the pumpkin patch to be an important activity even though I don't really remember pumpkin patch visits as a kid. I come from an upbringing full of holiday traditions--pumpkin carving, Easter egg dyeing, advent calendars, Christmas morning picture at the top of the stairs, certain foods for certain holidays, etc. Some were obviously more intentional/forced than others, but all of those seemingly small, insignificant activities all add up into the holiday memories we keep with us forever. And even though we carved a pumpkin every single year, I don't really recall going to a pumpkin farm each year. I think I remember going to one with my Brownie troop during my very short-lived Brownie experience, but beyond that I'm wondering if all of our pumpkins came from the N.T. Farmers' Market. We did take a field trip there every year, but I don't recall bringing home a significant pumpkin (at least nothing more than a gourd or a really small pumpkin), so we either went to the market on a weekend or it just appeared out of nowhere one day and I was just excited to carve it. It's odd, and maybe my mom will have more insight into this one, but regardless, the annual trip to the pumpkin farm is a must for our little family.

To be fair, the whole agricultural entertainment thing has really exploded in recent years, and I don't think there was anything even nearly that exciting at any pumpkin farms I may have experienced as a kid. And really, this insistence on doing the pumpkin thing was a bit accidental. Let's rewind back five years ago, to the first year that Craig and I lived in our house. I was determined to get a pumpkin (from a farm stand) to carve and put out for trick or treating that year. But then life intervened. The weather stunk whenever I had time to go pick one, and then my grandma died a few days before Halloween so I ended up being in Buffalo on Halloween night. Craig worked that day and gave candy out for a bit, then arrived in N.T. that night for the funeral stuff the next day. I do fondly recall that evening, as my mom, brother and I sat out on the porch for trick or treating and laughed at the people scared by our neighbor's crazy decorations. I can't remember how the next year went. But in 2007, we ended up going to Stokoe Farms. Thanks to a summer promotion Craig had done with them at a lacrosse game, we ended up with free tickets to go in the fall. Little did I know at the time, but I was probably about a week pregnant when we went. And the whole time we kept thinking about how fun it would be to bring a kid there someday.

The year Jacob was born, we never did make it to a pumpkin patch, but I did enjoy going to the N.T. Farmers' Market and finding the perfect little pumpkin for Jacob to hold for pictures. Last year I was determined to get to a pumpkin farm, and we actually did. In the end we probably just could have gone back to Stokoe since that was our picture of a perfect one, but we chose a different one. And while we had a great time, I couldn't help but look forward to this year when we could do it "right". Fortunately, a Groupon deal came up a month or so ago offering two-for-one tickets at Stokoe, so everything fell into place. Lori had mentioned she wanted to take Jacob to some sort of fall-themed activity, so I invited her to come along with us. I spent most of the week praying that the rainy weather would subside in time to prevent the farm from being a giant mudpit, and thankfully the rain stopped Friday night and the wind seemed to take over enough that things were mostly dry. Thank goodness.

As soon as we got there, we checked out the alpacas and tried to encourage Jacob to climb the haybale mountain or go down the big slide nearby. No dice, so we opted to hop on the hayride out to some of the activities. Here's a happy face from that ride...and yes, the hockey stick came along.
We skipped the pedal go-karts and the corn maze (I didn't even want to think about Jacob in one of those), wandered past the pumpkin patches (most of those pumpkins were in bad shape), and up to a playground area. Jacob climbed up a big ladder all by himself (with me spotting him) and the proceeded to stay up there despite our pleas to come down. Here he is, thinking he's funny.... (grrrrr...)
Once he was bribed down, the grownups did a zip line (so fun!) and then we headed to the goats. Here's Jacob looking cool while waiting for Lori to come back with a handful of goat feed...
Jacob really liked feeding the goats. He had a hard time grasping the concept of how to hold the feed, though. We tried to show him how to hold his hand out flat, but every time we gave him more pellets, he'd close his fist. The poor goats probably thought he was taunting them. Here's a pic that I like--it not only shows Jacob's poor technique, but also has this cute big hand-little hand, father-son thing going on...
After checking out the goats and large birds (peacocks, guinea fowl, turkeys, etc.), we wandered back closer to the front of the farm and rode a little train. Jacob seemed to like that, too, based on the smile on his face...
We checked out bunnies and a cow before heading over a footbridge into a kid area with a tricycle track (Jacob perferred the Little Tikes car), a duck race (three water pumps set up to send rubber duckies down waterslides into a trough), a gravel pit equipped with toy trucks, and a big tractor set up for a photo op (Jacob wasn't into it). By this point we were getting hungry, so we practically had to drag Jacob out of the car to finish up in this area before heading off to stuff our faces. Along the way we saw a bunch of piglets (complete with the poor nursing mama) and the some chicks. Incidentally, the chicks were the thing that really made me look forward to someday bringing Jacob here. Of course, this year they weren't letting the kids hold the chicks (apparently one got sick and died), so that was a bummer. We also looked briefly at pumpkins on our way to get food, and Jacob picked out this one, which he was trying to lift. He did manage to nearly knock it over...
After lunch, we headed back out to one more spot with more kid-friendly activities, including a straw crawl, a corn box, and "cow milking". Jacob liked throwing the corn in the corn box, so we didn't stick around there for too long. Here he is in joyful mid-throw...
We finally finished up by picking some pumpkins out of the many they had on display...
We took home three (plus a couple treats and the object of desire from the aforementioned bribery), and I'll have a picture of the pumpkins tomorrow. I think this is enough for one day!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Quick Update

Jacob does not have strep throat...yet. The swab came back negative, though they did send another off to the lab. The white spots in his throat could have been caused by another virus, but as of now, it's not strep. So, the good news is that Jacob got to go to daycare today and we both got to go to work...and yes, since it's an Amerks' gameday and considering the amount of work I have right now, that is a VERY good thing. I'm still worried that he'll touch something strep-infested at daycare and get it anyway, or that the bit of fluid that's currently in his ears will turn into another ear infection, but for now we're ok. At least I don't have to keep feeling bad that I missed some major symptom and didn't know my kid had strep. He's still got a touch of a runny nose and a sporadic cough, but what else is new? That's part of the reason I think I never know Jacob's sick. When you always have a runny nose and cough going on, what more is there to notice? Aside from maybe a fever and some pain-induced screaming, I'm not sure. His energy level never seems to change, and I think even if it did I'd be so happy to have the break/additional cuddle time that it wouldn't even occur to me that he was sick. I think that's the tough part of kids--they're forever changing and it's hard to know if something is just a blip on the radar, or a full blown problem, or a complete and permanent change. One day potty training is going just fine, the next it's a disaster...so is it a major backslide, or just a bad day? Mealtime has been brutal lately, but aha!--a well-eaten dinner! Does that mean it's the start of something good, or just one day where the child's tastes and that night's meal matched up? The child finally listens when asked to pick up their toys. Did the light bulb finally click on, or is it pure luck? With kids and their moods, I guess you just never know.

Regardless, we have a busy weekend on tap. Hockey tonight and hopefully the pumpkin patch tomorrow. It's been raining pretty much all day and it's supposed to go until tomorrow morning, so things might be a little muddy. However, I may just have to suck it up and deal with some muddy shoes and pants (and whatever else) tomorrow, just so we get our fun in. Should be interesting...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Random Pics...

Every once in a while I like to take a day and post some random pictures from the previous few weeks that didn't make the cut the first time around or just never had a logical post to be attached to. Today is one of those days!

Here's a shot from when Jacob and I went to the Amerks' Blue/White Scrimmage a couple weeks ago. We actually ended up having a pretty good night. Jacob ate his dinner very well, presumably because I told him that if he ate well (meaning, ate his food and ate it at a good pace so we'd have time), we'd go to the pet shop next door to look at the kitties, turtles and fish. Sure enough, he ate like a champ and we headed next door for a fun few minutes. The scrimmage was pretty low key, and we spent much of it in the one end of the rink, right at ice level. Jacob got a little freaked out when I tried to sit him on a stool to take a picture of him with the ice and players in the background, but I have no idea why. So, I had to settle for pictures of him playing hockey instead, and this was really the only good one--mostly because he was running too fast to get a clear shot in any of the other ones.

Lately Jacob has wanted to watch his "Monkey Movie", MVP: Most Valuable Primate, all the time. It got ridiculous so I've tried to put a kibosh on it. If Jacob misbehaves, it's the first thing that goes. I want it to be more of a special privilege than something we do every day. It's a cute movie, but I've had enough. I wouldn't mind a little variety, at least. The movie may also be at least partially responsible for a bit of trouble Jacob got into at daycare. He started saying "suck" the other day and apparently got all the kids on board, and Craig noticed that the exact phrase, "You suck," is in a scene with hockey action. Oops. Anyway...before I started imposing the ban, Craig had been attempting to get Jacob to embrace Craig's love of the floor (seriously, he'll sometimes lay on the floor for no apparent reason--better now with carpet than at our old house) and getting Jacob all set up with a blanket, pillow, and his animals. Here's a shot from one of these snuggle-fests...

And here's another picture from Sunday's outing to Geneseo with Mary. Mr. Cool is hanging out in his stroller in his stylin' sweater and shades, and of course, his hockey stick.
Well, I got the call today from daycare that they think Jacob has strep throat. It's going through his class and apparently they noticed white spots in his throat. He's off to the doctor tonight and hopefully the antibiotics will work and he'll be back to normal in no time. Of course, we wouldn't have known he was sick beyond the cold he's had for a couple weeks (that he passed along to both of us), so I guess we're lucky that we have such a tolerant little boy. It never ends!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Broken Hearts

Recently I've been following a blog about a baby with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). It's a heart defect that causes the left side of the heart to be underdeveloped. The baby's father, Matt Hammitt, is the lead singer for Sanctus Real, an awesome Christian band (who happens to be coming to Rochester next month...I may have to go). Anyway, I found out about the blog after I saw a posting on Facebook about it, via a Christian radio station that had been giving their listeners updates so they could pray. The blog's address is http://bowensheart.com. The baby, whose name is Bowen, was born in August. He's been a little fighter ever since. There have been lots of ups and downs, but he's still hanging in there. He's got a lot of surgery in his future and already has a pretty significant scar down his chest. At one point his heart stopped and the medical staff spent a half hour pumping his heart through his open chest until the surgeon arrived. While his parents watched. I can't even imagine. Among the ups was the opportunity for the parents to hold their little boy fairly soon after surgery, after being told it would be weeks until they could hold him again. Can you imagine? Many postings on that blog have left me near tears. I just can't even fathom.

Even worse, there have been a couple stories that have come to light via that blog of other families whose babies were born with this defect, and their children didn't make it. I read through the one family's blog around the time their baby boy died (which wasn't that long ago--the funeral was only last weekend), and it was simply heartbreaking. To see them go from hopeful to devastated within a couple posts (there was even one simply saying that his heart had stopped) was a stunner. Seeing pictures of the baby drove it home even more. They weren't just words on a page...this was a living, breathing child. He looked so sweet and adorable, with big dark eyes. And now he's gone. Then Matt Hammitt posted on Bowen's blog about a couple who left their same hospital empty-handed after their baby died from a heart defect. He posted about not knowing what to say to them, and the whole thing just weighed heavy on my heart. I can't even fathom what those families are going through. Losing a child, even one that you knew would be born sick, has to be horrific. When you carry a child for nine months, go through the emotional roller coaster that is the conception process and pregnancy, that baby is forever a part of your heart.

When Jacob was in the special care nursery after he was born, I was quite nervous about what would happen to him. While we were pretty sure it was nothing serious or life-threatening, I think the fact that low oxygen levels were part of his problem made me worry even more than I already did about SIDS. While there's no known cause of SIDS, it appears that it's sometimes caused by babies who work themselves into a spot where they're breathing the air they exhaled rather than fresh air, and slowly suffocate themselves. And I guess I just kept thinking that if something like that can happen to healthy babies, maybe Jacob's more prone to it if he's already having low oxygen issues. So, for at least a few moments, I did have to confront those fears of what would happen if we lost him. As I recall, one of my first thoughts was something to the effect of, "All that hard work for nothing." I know that sounds flippant, but perhaps it was all my exhausted brain could conjure up. It was the tail end of nine months of build-up, so much excitement and planning...and to have nothing to show for it would have left such a void, both physically and emotionally. Obviously we would have been devastated. We'd have mourned the fact that we'd never get to know this precious little boy, and mourned the loss of the phase of life we thought we were heading into. We also would have mourned the death of our innocence...of blindly thinking we could walk into the hospital and walk right back out with a healthy baby. Even with our issues I know I'll never take that for granted again. I also wondered how I'd deal with the nursery occupying our spare bedroom. Do you just close the door and forget it's there? Luckily, we never had to find out.

However, I still worry sometimes. You just never know. Jacob is clumsy, doesn't know his own limits, and listens selectively, and I know that one or more of those elements, combined with a moment of horribly perfect timing, could spell disaster. In addition, he's still sick a lot. Ever since his original bout with RSV when he was just a couple months old, he's rarely gone more than a few weeks without some sort of cold symptom, mostly coughing and a runny nose. I'm always worried that there's something more going on that's causing the constant barrage. And every time I hear about some little kid that ended up with cancer or some other random disease, I think about how that kid was probably just like Jacob--generally healthy and happy--right up until their diagnosis. Heck, we could find out a couple months from now that the mole that's getting removed from Jacob's leg is cancerous. You just never know.

That's not to say that I let myself be bogged down by these thoughts. I try to look at them from the other perspective--that I'm so incredibly happy and grateful to have a little boy at all, let alone to have one that is generally healthy and happy. The little baby that looked so tiny and frail hooked up to all those machines in the special care nursery is now an active and crazy two year old. As frustrated as I get with his behavior sometimes, I know that millions of people out there would give their right arm to have my "problems". When I do have those thoughts of the things that could go wrong, I take them with a grain of salt and try to file them away in the back of my mind--to be more careful when he's in a precarious position, to keep an eye out for out-of-the-ordinary changes to his health--and just be grateful that I have this time with him. We are incredibly blessed.

But it doesn't stop my heart from breaking everytime I hear of one of these little babies whose hearts are, quite literally, broken. As a parent I don't know how you could read the stories of these families and not cry with them. Yet so many of them are strong Christians who deal with it better than one might expect...still destroyed, but ultimately not defeated. After all, their babies are healed and with Jesus. They know that their babies' life and death had a purpose, even if they don't know what it is yet, and trust in God's overall plan to bring them through. They're grateful for the time they had. I can only pray that I'd be able to deal with it like that. I'm not sure I could function, let alone be able to find a bright side. But when you're that low, I suppose you just have to collapse into God's arms and let Him carry you through.

Someday down the road I hope to be pregnant again, and I do think about that ultrasound where they check all of the baby's body parts. You can bet I'll be praying for another clean bill of health. You never know beyond that, of course, but you just hope and pray and take it one day at a time. But until then I'll be thinking about all of these babies and their families, both the ones camped out around a hospital bed and the ones who have been left behind. May God bless them all and bring them peace every new day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Weekend Stuff and a Random Cool Thing

Well, we had an eventful and very interesting weekend...in a good way. My college roommate Mary came into town for a concert, which was very exciting since we haven't had a good, solid weekend together in a long time. We used to do girl weekends with three of us--Mary, me, and our other friend Lois--but life has intervened. Thanks to two marriages, Jacob, and busy social lives, it's been nearly impossible to plan a weekend with all three of us. We did one more than three years ago, but the only time the three of us have been together since was for Lois' wedding two years ago. We've had a day or two here and there since where it was just two of us (when Mary had conferences in town or Lois came in for someone else's wedding), but having two solid days to spend together hadn't happened in a long time. So it was VERY exciting. When I told Craig about the concert, he thought about taking Jacob to Syracuse for an SU alumni lacrosse game. He wasn't 100% sure he was going to do it, even up to late last week, but I think Jacob's excitement probably won him over. So, on Saturday, while Mary and I headed out to shop, eat and go to the concert, the boys headed out to Syracuse. Craig took the camera, and these were the two best shots of the day, both involving Jacob and his popcorn, which he apparently ate a ton of:
Believe it or not, once they got back from Syracuse, they headed off a Rhinos playoff game. Good thing they went, too, because the Rhinos were eliminated from the playoffs that night and therefore there would have been no more soccer games to go to. It was a very cold night (and presumably a very long day), but Jacob once again had a blast running around on the field postgame kicking around his soccer ball. I really think we're going to have to sign him up for soccer next year, because I think he kicks the ball better than me. Now, that's not saying much, but the kid is only two with no formal training.

In the meantime, Mary and I did have a fantastic day. Despite my excitement to go out and shop for myself, I only managed to buy stuff for Jacob. Oh well. It was good research for me, anyway.

Sunday Craig had to work (the Amerks opener!) so Mary, Jacob and I headed down to Geneseo to relive college a bit. Of course, it ended up being a bit of a bummer because the one person we really wanted to see (our college pastor, Dave) wasn't there, and one of our main shopping spots (Royaltees, the college store) was closed for the holiday weekend. However, we did get to eat Mama Mia's pizza and an Aunt Cookie's sub (the latter we got to go, for dinner once we went our separate ways) and we went to our old church, which was pretty much the same as it always had been. After lunch we headed down to the campus, mostly to catch a glimpse of the Genesee Valley, which was looking lovely in its fall colors. While we were down there hanging out on a patio, Jacob wanted to play hockey. Mary, being the ever-resourceful teacher-y type, found a pinecone for Jacob to use as a puck. He loved it. Here is Mary playing the role of the net...
And here is Jacob showing off his "puck", which he was talking about long after yesterday...

After Mary left and Jacob was unsuccessful in getting in a full nap (he slept for a half hour on the way to Geneseo and another half hour or more on the way back, before waking up when we got home), we eventually headed out to the Amerks' home opener. Overall Jacob was his usual self...he watched the game intently most of the time but had a few moments where his behavior was unfortunate. Take this picture for example...he looks happy, but he was trying to kick my hand that was holding the camera. Lovely. I think his lack of a real nap played into it all a bit, and after having to take away his hockey stick for the second time because he was waving it around my face, he started crying and we left. Hopefully he learned a good lesson, but somehow I doubt it. He may just not be at that point yet to associate the behavior with the punishment, no matter how many times I try to spell it out to him. Or maybe he just can't control that part of his behavior yet. Either way, we left and he was upset. He fell asleep on the way home (around 7:30) and he woke up when I was putting on his pj's. I was hoping to rock him back to sleep, but no luck with that after a couple attempts. He ended up being awake until about 9pm, but at least he stayed in his crib and I only had to go in there a couple times. But all things considered it wasn't bad. I did have to wake him up this morning, which is probably thanks to the cold that has now taken all three of us down. Jacob's had it for a week, I started to feel it Thursday but got it to hold off until later last night....no doubt a direct answer to prayer, if I had to guess. And then overnight Craig ended up getting very congested, but lucky for him he's off today for the holiday. What I wouldn't give for that right now...but alas, I have a major project at work that I need to do, so I wouldn't have the option of a sick day right now even if I needed it. But all in all we had a great weekend. I'm hoping we get some more of that same pleasant weather for this coming weekend, when we're planning on going to the pumpkin patch!

Let's see...a couple other random notes...Mary is a speech pathologist who specializes in the preschool level, and she appeared rather impressed with Jacob's speech. He's apparently very good with his pronouns (using "I" instead of "Me") and I think she also expressed surprise over his use of words like "to" and "at". I think a lot of that comes from the fact that he repeats a lot of things over and over, like wanting to go to a hockey game or that the hockey game is at the arena, but I suppose he must be getting some form of exposure to sentence structure by virtue of saying those all the time (which he's basically repeating verbatim from us talking to him about them). But it was interesting. He is a chatty kid and some of the stuff he knows and comes up with is amazing. He knows that the Amerks and Knighthawks play at the Blue Cross Arena, for example. And last night at the game, he pointed out the maple leaf on the Canadian flag. I asked him what it was for, and he said, "Canada". The kid remembers certain things really well. They seem to be things that are somehow related to the things he really cares about (read: sports), but I guess it's good. When he likes something, he really catches on quick.

The other interesting thing actually happened this morning. I follow a blog from a friend of mine that posts great deals around the internet, and one that she posted was a Groupon offer from a site called Blog2Print. Apparently they'll create a printed book from your blog, much like the photo companies do nowadays. Well, when I looked into how this blog would translate into book form, I was surprised to see that it would be over 600 pages worth, which pretty much amounts to about $250 in printing costs. That's with a base price of $24.95 (hardcover) plus 35 cents a page. Yikes. However, for only $7.95, you can get a PDF done. That is tempting. I mean, sure, in theory Blogger will always be around. But you'd think at some point they'd reach a limit and want to ditch old stuff, or some computer will explode and take all the data with it. I never thought Geocities would close up shop and take my old college webpage along with it (yes, it's saved for posterity), but sure enough, it happened. I don't want that to happen to this blog because I've obviously documented a heck of a lot of stuff from a really important period in our lives, without an easy way to back it all up. And it never hurts to have a backup. I'd gladly pay $8 to get it all backed up in one shot. And I suppose I could do it on a yearly basis beyond that if I need to, but at least I'll have the big stuff after the first time I do it, and perhaps I'll be more diligent about printing out the rest after that. But you know what, now that I think about it...I have a function on my work computer that uses the Print menu to create PDFs. And based on what I'm seeing, I could totally do that from there. Wow...never thought of that before. It might not be as pretty, but it's not half bad. Hmmmm. And it's free. Food for thought...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Still amazed...

I mentioned back in May that I had put a batch of photos from our vast collection into a digital photo frame that Craig won at his brother's campaign fundraiser (in case you're wondering, he's on the ballot next month as the democratic nominee--should be interesting!). I marveled then at the slideshow of photos and how much we've experienced in the four years since we got our digital camera. And of course, there are 15 more years' worth of old film photos that are sitting in albums in my house that I don't currently have a scanner for. I really should bring them out to look at them more. I think Jacob might start getting a kick out of seeing Mommy looking very young, for starters. But regardless...so many memories are contained in those photos. And even just the four years' worth of lovely, vivid digital photos are enough to make me sit back and just try to absorb all that I've experienced.

As much as I've enjoyed looking at the photos, Jacob has really begun to enjoy them as well. He'll ask to look at pictures, then climb up in the armchair with me and watch them. He'll ask about things, point out faces he recognizes, and smile at things that look familiar (or, I assume, fun). He really seems to like it a lot, and I love the bonus cuddle time. And I do hope that I pass on a love of photo memories to Jacob. I hope that he will be like me, frequently looking back at our photos and eventually taking ones of his own. I hope he appreciates the family history I've created, much like I appreciate the many albums that my parents have that document my younger life. I think pictures definitely reinforce memories, and I'm sure there is a lot I would have forgotten without photo albums to look back at.

As I mentioned in my original post (linked to above), it really does make me thankful for all that I've had the opportunity to do and see in the last four years (and beyond). Of course, I'd love to add to that list and create even more wonderful photo opportunities, but right now I just have to be patient and find my moments when I can. I long to take more fantastic postcard-ready photos like I did in Portland and Seattle, or go back to Vegas for the first time in the "digital era", or capture memories of Jacob's first trip to Disney or any other place that will similarly blow his mind. Those moments will come, I suppose, but it's hard to not feel truly grateful--even spoiled--when I see the shots I do have.

The one weird thing that struck me as I've been watching the slideshow is how Jacob has changed. I already know that, of course. I marvel every day at the big boy he's become, and still look at his picture from his birth announcement on the wall in my work cubicle, hardly recognizing the face that looks back at me. I mean, it's Jacob, but everything was SO different then. I forget how tiny he was, how helpless. Even in looking at older pictures, it's odd. He looks a lot more like the Jacob I know, but I tend to forget how little we really knew about him back then. Those old pictures were taken before he started talking (and many before walking or even crawling), before he gained independence and started giving us greater insight into what made him tick. It's almost like the pictures take on added depth now that I truly know WHO I'm looking at. It's almost like he's that much cuter because I know so much more about the boy he's become now. And of course, I knew how ridiculously cute he was then, but I find myself wondering why I didn't appreciate certain moments more or savor certain periods of time with him. But really, I did appreciate it as much as I could at the time, I think. Back in the moment I was certainly distracted by the difficulties of parenthood--sleep deprivation, concern, frustration, lack of patience--and the often overwhelming task of tending to his needs 24/7. But looking back at those pictures, I forget the hard stuff for a moment and just see the joy in the picture. I tend to forget the small details, the trade-offs of baby life vs. toddler life. As much as I get sentimental looking at the pictures, I know I can't have it both ways--both the sweet baby in the picture and the fun, active toddler I have now. Each phase has its great parts and its hard parts, and while the pictures might not show that, that's how it was (and is). While I can enjoy those old pictures, I know I shouldn't long for those days too much because those times had difficulties of their own...just like the pictures I take now will be similarly viewed in a few years when I forget all of the crazy details I wrote about on this blog. I don't think I'm really describing all this like I'd like to, but I hope you get the idea. Long story short, the pictures are an awesome thing to have and all that they represent will never cease to amaze me.

Oh, and one more random note that I forgot to include yesterday...Is anyone else out there completely perplexed by kid shoe sizing and buying? Jacob has been wearing sixes, and while I knew they were probably starting to get tight, he didn't seem to be bothered by them. It also didn't feel like his toes were smushed and when I held them up to his feet they looked fine. Well, on Sunday I took Jacob to Payless because I wanted to get him some nice black dress shoes. I had them measure him, just in case, and oh crap--he's measuring as nearly a 7-1/2! Poor kid. Apparently there's not a huge difference between sizes, but geez. I feel bad...but if he's not making a fuss and they look okay, how could I know? He LOVES to have shoes on, so they couldn't be hurting him that much! Luckily, we had a pair of size 7 sneakers (which I KNOW are the right size, if not too big--Jacob is practically tripping over them and I know his toes aren't squished) sitting in his closet waiting for him. I have pinpointed the aditional shoes I want for him (the basic black ones and a pair of cool, slightly dressy brown sneakers) but need to go to a different Payless to get them in his size. For now we'll use the cool new sneaks and go back to the sixes only for emergencies--dressing up, mud, etc.--until I get the new ones or Jacob starts saying they hurt. But still....I feel like I should get the bad mom of the year award for this one...a size and a half?!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Randoms for the Day

Not much of note to report, but enough little stuff that I can crank out a decent post. We had a good and relatively low key weekend. Saturday Craig had to go up to Canada for an Amerks preseason game, so Jacob and I were on our own. He took a nap after lunch, during which an old friend of mine came to visit. I have known Mike since high school and we were very good friends in college, despite going to different schools. We hit a bit of a rough patch when he came out during our junior year (I felt betrayed that he didn't tell me (I found out from a mutual friend), and then I was worried about his health, well-being, and spiritual life--previously he'd been a strong Christian--and all of it together was a lot to take. It was like having to get to know a new friend all over again), but we've always cared very much for each other and are always excited to see each other when we can. He was in town on his way to N.T. for his brother's wedding (Mike lived here during college and a couple years after, so he had plenty of friends to visit), and we managed to get in some good catching up while Jacob slept. When he finally woke up, we tried to go to the zoo, but got there a mere couple minutes late and had to settle for the playground down the road from the zoo. I had always wanted to stop there, but we were always in a hurry to get to the zoo, or hoping for a nap on the way home from the zoo, so we'd never stopped before. After playing for a bit, we put Jacob in the stroller and took a walk down a nearby path to a pedestrian bridge over the Genesee River gorge. The peaks of fall colors made it worth the short walk, and we marveled that we never knew that was even there. We did dinner and then came home. Jacob and I had a relatively good night.

Sunday we had a few people over to the house for the Bills game and to help Craig finally close the pool. Jacob slept through the first part, then spent the next half hour or so glued to me. He finally loosened up and played a bit with our friends' son. Of course, because of the zoo snafu the day before, I had promised Jacob we could at least make a quick trip to the zoo on Sunday. So, the two of us ended up taking off before all the company left (arg), but managed to get in a good hour or so at the zoo. We saw everything, albeit briefly, and Jacob was a very good boy. There were times he wanted to get out of the stroller and I just wouldn't let him because I couldn't afford to take the time to chase him, but he seemed to accept it, so we had fun. We had a low key night at home, and the weekend was over all too quickly.

Over the weekend I think we watched the "monkey movie" about 10 times. The "monkey movie" is MVP - Most Valuable Primate, a movie Jacob saw on TV once and loved. It's about a monkey that plays hockey, which means it includes two of Jacob's favorite things. I found the DVD at a Blockbuster going out of business sale for like, $8. We watched it a bit over the summer, and it got us through the rough driving leg from Erie to Buffalo on our trip home from Pittsburgh, but lately Jacob wants to watch it all the time. Like multiple times a day every day. It was practically on repeat all weekend. Now, mind you, Jacob is playing while the movie is on. He'll watch a bit, then go play with his hockey guys or bury himself under blankets with his stuffed monkeys. He's not sitting there like a zombie. So, at least that's good. But he asks for it all the time. We've tried to sway him with other things, like Sesame Street, Chuggington, or even a cute-looking $5 movie Craig got at Walmart--an animated baseball-themed movie called Everybody's Hero. But nothing is really swaying him. It's a cute movie, so at least we can enjoy it a bit, but I am getting tired of seeing the same thing. Most of the time I just try to keep the TV off if I can.

Yesterday when we got home, I quickly ran upstairs to use the bathroom, leaving Jacob playing with his hockey guys. When I came back down, he had this panicked/pained/worried look on his face and then told me that he had to poop. I quickly sprung into action...telling him to hold it, scooping him up, and running up to the bathroom, stripping off his pants and diaper and getting him on the toilet. It took a minute, but sure enough, he pooped! I'm finding wiping to be really awkward, by the way, so if anyone has advice on that, please share. I feel like I just can't get it all, or see to try to get it all. Ugh. But in any event, he told me he had to go, and he went! Success! He got an addition to his hockey game (a new net that came with his little Club Penguin hockey player he got after his successful poop in Pittsburgh) and I praised him like crazy, hoping he'll get the idea that this is a great thing.

Jacob picked up a bit of a cold over the last few days, and last night was a rough one. He was wide awake for quite a while, miserable when we'd leave but in a good mood while we were there. And can I just say that his witty banter (and thousandth time asking about a hockey game) is really freaking annoying at 4am? It's one thing if he's miserable...I get it. But if he can be unmiserable enough to talk about hockey, then why can't he settle in and fall asleep? Ugh! I finally gave him Tylenol and that must have taken the edge off because he fell asleep shortly thereafter. Still, it wasn't soon enough for any of us. Craig and I were beat and waking Jacob up this morning was like dragging a teenager out of bed. He didn't want to wake up while in his crib, so I picked him up. He kept trying to snuggle back in on my shoulder. When I put him on his changing table to give him his morning medicines and vitamin, he kept rolling back over (butt in the air) to go back to sleep. He was miserable all morning about everything--his clothes, his hockey guys, putting on his coat--and I felt ridiculously guilty about taking him to daycare. Much like my post last week, I knew he needed more sleep and a good rest, but I just couldn't stay with him. I figured I'd take him, and if he was that miserable once he got there, they could call me. And they did call me, only it was to tell me he walked into a wall (par for the course with him) and bumped his head. But no, no desperate requests (yet) to take him home. His best friend has a sinus infection, so let's hope that's not what's on the horizon for Jacob. Poor kid's been through enough and it's not even the depths of cold season yet.

I guess that's about it for now. I have a couple more posts brewing, so more soon!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Yesterday morning when I walked into Jacob's bedroom to get him up, he had pulled off his pajama pants. He said that he was like the monkey, meaning his stuffed Build-a-Bear monkey whose shorts constantly fall down. Great. This is the same monkey who Jacob would frequently talk about over the monitor, saying, "Mommy, monkey pants fall down" or "Look at monkey pants!" I couldn't help but laugh, though, at all of the above. Then this morning I came in and he proudly told me that he had taken his pants AND his diaper off. Oh. Crap. Well, the good news is that the damage was minimal. No poop and his sheets were just a little wet. One animal (ironically the monkey himself) may or may not have gotten peed on (could have been drool), so I guess I'll just wipe it down and Febreeze it, just in case. I was really hoping we'd avoid the phase of taking off clothes in bed, and especially the diaper...but no such luck, I guess. I'm hoping that the strict "no" that he got from both of us, plus the fact that his monkey has been held hostage all day, will convince him it was a bad idea. He didn't like when I was throwing the animals out of his bed to change the sheets, so let's hope that image is burned in his mind a bit. Leave it to Jacob, though...

Friday, October 1, 2010

Flu Shot

Why is it so much worse when your child responds to a shot with the simple word, "Hurt!", than it was when he just cried? Jacob got his flu shot today (at the same appointment where we were just double checking his ears to make sure the infections have cleared up, and YES! They're gone.), and for some reason this one felt different than any other shots he's gotten. Even though he was already talking quite a bit at his two-year well visit, I don't remember this happening. Basically, he knew something was up when I was sort of hugging him to hold him down, and then when he got the shot, of course he cried. But at the end of it when he told me it hurt, I felt so bad. Almost like he knew that I knew that it was going to hurt, and yet I let it happen anyway. There was just a tinge of betrayal in the way he looked at me.

When they're tiny babies it's hard because pain is so new to them and they're so helpless. They totally don't deserve the pain and don't know what it is or why it's happening. But at the same time you hope that their short attention span and sketchy memory will serve them well and they won't remember a thing five minutes later. And usually a little quality time in mommy's or daddy's arms does the trick and they're fine. I'll be honest, though...as much as I didn't like to see Jacob cry, I never got crazy emotional about shots. I knew it was good for him in the long run and again, I knew it would be over quickly. No need for tears, even if it was hard. I had a job to do.

But with Jacob this time around, it's almost like he's suddenly at the point where he will remember. Not just the pain, not just those moments before, but how he felt looking knowing that I must have known it would hurt. And just when going to the doctor got to be fun, too. Fishies! Stickers! Someone new to show off to! Big waiting room to run around! Oh, well. I just hope he doesn't remember any of that feeling he had right after the shot. Can I just get one more round of the short attention span and sketchy memory? Please?