Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Preparing for the Holidays

Being a mom around the holidays is challenging. It takes a lot more planning than it did in my single days or married without kids days. Granted, back in those days I worked more (and on weekends!) so it was still a challenge, but parenthood means less control over everything and more that I'd like to have control over. You have the responsibility of making sure your kid gets a great holiday experience--presents, attendance at their events, exposing them to Christmas traditions--while also making sure that social obligations are taken care of, gifts are bought and wrapped, and child care is secured for any non-kid holiday events or crazy shopping trips.

These first few days of the Christmas season have been a bit odd for me. I was very excited about decorating the house and pulling out the Christmas music, both of which I have certainly enjoyed. Jacob has been learning Jingle Bells at daycare for their Christmas program, and I've enjoyed helping him practice at home. He's learned a bit about Frosty the Snowman and is taking interest in the manger scene and the tree, and he loves Christmas lights on houses. Incidentally, we had a casualty last night--I went out to get the mail and came back to Jacob holding a tiny little hockey net that he'd pulled off of an ornament. Luckily it wasn't one of my really good Hallmark ornaments, and I was able to superglue it back on, but he certainly got a stern talking-to (again) about not touching the tree.

The weather has put a bit of a damper on my holiday spirit, though, as moderate temperatures, lots of rain, and brown-green grass everywhere doesn't really scream "Christmas" to me. We've actually been a little short on snow in December the past couple years, and it is a bit of a bummer since this is the one time of year that I enjoy snow. A little white stuff makes everything just seem a little more picture perfect. And I'm actually hoping the weather forecast holds out and we get a little snow next week. As long as we get enough to cover the grass and it's cold enough to stay there for a while, that's enough. While I do enjoy a little snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas to enhance the mood, in reality we have far too much traveling to do and snow just complicates that. But as long as the ground is white and the roads are clear, that's perfect.

In general, I've been waiting for some big intro to the Christmas season, and it just hasn't come. Other than the decorations around the house and the influx of emails in my inbox, I'm not sure I'd even notice it was Christmas season at this point. And it IS only November still--for another few hours, anyway--so I'm not sure what I'm expecting. Maybe it's because I haven't done any real shopping (wandering the mall without a purpose for an hour on Saturday doesn't really count), or maybe it's because I haven't pulled out the Charlie Brown Christmas specials. Maybe it's because we haven't made any holiday-ish plans, or any that we know of seem so far away that I don't even want to tempt myself thinking about them.

I will say that the whole holiday shopping thing is bugging me a bit. I feel like I'm missing out on great deals by not going out on Black Friday or scouring the Cyber Monday ads to get stuff. But quite frankly I'm lacking inspiration on what to buy people this year, and all of the stuff I'm seeing in ads just seems to fall into a few categories--cheesy, expensive, unnecessary, or just plain crap. I usually do start out the season feeling uninspired, and slowly come up with ideas for gifts, but by then we're short on time, things get sold out, or we can't find what we're looking for. I'd love to get all of my shopping done now, before I get busy with Christmas parties and activities, baking, Christmas cards, and whatever else. I know it gets busy and the Christmas season flies by, and I hate that end-of-the-season crunch. It sucks the spirit right out of you. So I'd much rather get that stuff done early and enjoy the end of the season more, but it's just not happening. I tend to panic the closer we get, as I know that each shopping trip is that much more important. That if I don't find something this time, my future opportunities are limited. I wonder if I'm getting a good price and think I should go home and research more, but then it means another trip out to buy it later. Opportunities tend to be so limited as it is that it's a tough call. Do I take Jacob along and risk a meltdown? Do I head out alone when Craig is watching him, or worse, late at night after Jacob's in bed? It's certainly quicker in general without Jacob, but I HATE being out all night and coming home just in time to go to bed. Usually it's already late and then my sleep suffers, and then I'm tired the next day and not wanting to do anything in the evening, and on and on and on. I end up getting anxious about my time management and getting everything done by the end with even a little time to spare to enjoy things. There's nothing worse than getting gifts in the last-minute rush, then coming home and wrapping them, only to have all of five minutes to put them under the tree and take a picture before packing them all up to put in the car. But welcome to my life for the past few years!

Each year I swear I'll plan better, utilize my evenings better, and get really creative with gifts, crafts, and baking. And it mostly never happens. I get tired, I get busy, and shopping trips and big ideas never go as planned. I did do the gingerbread ornaments last year, and I may do them again this year, so I guess there is a shred of craftiness in there somewhere. I'd like to do real cutouts this year (yay, I have a stand mixer to help with that now!), and I'd really like to have more presents bought and wrapped earlier than ever. The last minute gifts we usually run out and get less than a week before Christmas? I really want to do those NOW. However, Craig has a lot of busy weekends this month, so it's going to be a challenge. We have all of two Saturdays and a Sunday to make it happen, and only weekday evenings beyond that. Yikes. As a parent you have to plan much more than ever before, so you'd think I'd have carried that over to Christmas, but not so much. I try, though. I just fail. I try not to be beat myself up about it, though. After all, I'm still pretty new at this and the responsibilities change a bit each year. I know I need to keep learning, and I'll have nearly mastered it just in time for my kids to no longer care :) Just kidding. But I do think it will take a long time to get comfortable with it all. My mom has always seemed to be a master--nice gifts, individually wrapped stocking stuffers, cookies, advent calendars, etc.--and it's a lot to live up to! Or at least, let's just say I'm used to the best. I want to give that to Jacob as well. I'm definitely using these years where he doesn't know any differently as my practice runs. Hopefully one day he'll appreciate it as well.

I'm still looking forward to this Christmas season, but with a list as long as Santa's, it'll be a challenge!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

No matter how long a break you take from work, it seems it's never easy to go back. If it's too short, it's not enough of a break, and if it's too long, you get so comfortable in non-work life that you just don't want to go back. There may be a middle ground in there somewhere, but I haven't found it yet. I was actually surprised at how easy this morning's daycare drop-off was. Jacob barely looked back. Maybe he missed it. Hopefully he proves that by being a delightful child today. Oh, how I wish.

Our weekend as a whole was pretty good, even though Craig worked for a good portion of it. We left for Buffalo on Wednesday night, and Thursday was busy and full of food, as expected. We did church and lunch with my parents (joined by my grandma for the meal), and an early dinner and evening with Craig's family. We stayed overnight there and came back Friday morning, just in time to avoid the lake effect snow heading into the area. Jacob seemed to enjoy his day. He was manageable at church and didn't eat much at my parents', but it was about naptime so I think that was part of the problem. During his nap we hopped on the webcam with my brother and his family, and that got me even more excited for all of us being together at Christmas. Jacob didn't eat much better with Craig's family, but he did have a great time playing with his cousins. Here's a shot of Jacob getting a piggy back ride from big cousin Maddy :) After two big meals, iffy sleep and some travel, I was beat and ended up staying upstairs in bed after putting Jacob down. At first it was just to keep him calm, but eventually I just didn't want to get up either! Here's a quick shot--the only other picture of the weekend--from bedtime. Jacob found these glasses among the toys in the room we stay in, and he thought they were funny. I can't help but agree.



Once we got home on Friday, I started working on Christmas decorations. I put away all of the Thanksgiving/fall stuff, then gave the crawl space its first real test as far as hauling out bin after bin of stuff. And happily, it wasn't too bad. I don't miss the eternal walk up our old basement steps (only seven in this house) or the close quarters of our old storage room (yes, the crawl space is short, but it's roomy otherwise). It was a pretty quick process of getting the stuff out, but a much longer process of placing it. Five bins and a Christmas tree makes for a lot of stuff. The tree went up quickly, but didn't get decorated until yesterday. But in the free time I had, I managed to get 99% of the decorations up over the course of the weekend. Just a couple more things I'm pondering at this point. In between decorating, I tried to be productive. I played with Jacob, read days' worth of newspapers, and tried to make the house look presentable amidst all of the stuff. I could have used another day or so, but it's not bad.

Jacob was hot and cold all weekend. When he was good, he was great. When he was bad, he was very difficult. Even still, I appreciated the opportunity to have such a lengthy period of time to spend with him so I could try to understand him. We definitely had some difficult moments and a few timeouts, but all things considered, I was sadder to leave him at daycare this morning than I sometimes am after a rough weekend. And since I had four days of time to get totally annoyed with him and it didn't happen, I felt like it was progress. Of course, I swear he came thisclose to breaking my nose twice yesterday. He was battling me at one point during church (he was so good for the first half or so, then freaked out because he wanted a certain pen, and then because he wanted other paper besides the five different pieces from the bulletin, and then because he wanted (as usual) to play baseball and run around the room), and at one point he moved in a way where his head suddenly went across my nose. I swear I thought it was broken and I was waiting for the blood to gush. It hurt. And of course, it hurt Jacob's head, too, but try getting him to understand that both of our pain was caused by him fighting me. Then we were playing in the evening, having a good time. He took our fun a little too far, though, and suddenly it happened again. Ouch. Needless to say my nose hurts today. I don't think there's any visible damage--maybe a small mark, maybe a tiny bit of swelling--but doing anything to my nose today hurts. As a whole, meals were a little iffy and Jacob is still "Mr. No" about almost everything. He refused to pick up a mess he made on Friday, and as a result, we missed another Amerks game. We haven't been to one in weeks, partly because he's misbehaved beforehand and partly because his general behavior makes me not want to expose him to any more "nasty hockey guys" who he so enjoys emulating. He'd been good enough on Thursday and Friday up until that point to give him a chance, and then it all fell apart.

Still, we did have a good weekend. Jacob is starting to notice the Christmas decorations a bit more. He noticed a bunch of hockey ornaments on the tree, and he LOVES the various Hallmark plush music-makers that we've gotten as gifts over the years. We have a snowman that plays a piano, a plush Snoopy's doghouse, a plush Snoopy playing the piano, and a stuffed Snoopy, all of which play music and have flashing lights. Jacob plays them on repeat, sometimes two at a time. He played with two of them throughout my entire shower on Saturday morning. Nice that I knew right where he was :) It's a bit of a challenge corraling his sports enough to protect breakables and explaining to him that he can't touch the tree, but he's been pretty good so far. And I must say, decorating the house was pretty neat. While it didn't flow quite as nicely as the routine in our old house, where I knew where things went from year to year, I am very happy with the end result. The placement of the tree is perfect, and made for interesting decorating since I had to decorate it with a bit of a 360-degree view. I made use of the stairs and the landing to hang ornaments all over the tree, and it's neat to enjoy the tree from so many different angles. And I finally have a railing to put lighted garland on, so that's cool. A few years back I bought a lighted wreath and added my own touches to it. I wanted something to add drama to the red wall in our living room, and it was really pretty. I was concerned about where I would hang it this year since it's heavy and I'd have to use a certain hook (and probably leave it there all year). Fortunately, I had a brilliant idea to hang it on the railing! Below are a couple views of the finished product. The second picture was only taken in a landscape orientation to avoid Jacob's toys, but one of these days I will move them out of the view and take a picture that captures the essence of what sold us on the house the second we walked in. But still, other than not seeing the cathedral ceiling in that picture, it gives you the idea. It's fun to have a mantel, too!

I still wish we could do a Christmas morning in our house with kids bounding down the stairs, but considering how important family is, I can't complain about our current setup spending it in Buffalo with family all around. We'll just have to get creative and get some new traditions set up to enjoy our wonderful picture-perfect Christmas house. Oh, and might I mention it was nice to put out decorations, no matter how tacky, after a year of censoring our decor for house showings? Fantastic. Yes, there is kitsch, but it's fun :)

It's not easy to recover from a holiday weekend, despite the break from work, and now that we're heading into the holidays the pressure is on. Hopefully I'll blog more about that later...but in the meantime, I hope everyone had a great holiday!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankfulness

I know I've been complaining/venting a lot lately. Jacob's behavior issues have certainly been at the forefront these days, consuming my thoughts a good portion of the time. I don't know why he's being so difficult, what might be causing it or where we may have gone wrong, and I'll admit it's making me a little crazy. It's like when your child is sick--you just want to take away their pain and fix everything. And until you do, you feel a little helpless. You keep pondering what might help and do everything you can in the meantime to make things better. But oh, if only Tylenol could fix this one...

However, despite my frustrations, I know that we are still incredibly blessed. Maybe that's frustrating me even more--that everything else is so good, but this one big issue is dragging the rest down. And I do know that our situation could be so much worse, in about a million different ways. We could have a sick child, no home, or be unemployed. We have none of those issues, so regardless of everything else, we are blessed. Here's what I'm thankful for:

1) Two meals - While having two meals just hours apart on Thanksgiving isn't the easiest thing to stomach (literally), it is really a special thing. Not only is the food fantastic at both meals, but having two means that we have two sets of family members who we get to spend time with. Some people won't even have one meal on Thanksgiving, and we have the opportunity to stuff ourselves silly at two. And we're certainly lucky to have two families within a reasonable distance of our home and each other so we can spend time with both of them in the same day. We don't have to travel far, nor do we have to choose one over the other each year. Every year we have with our families is a blessing, particularly as everyone gets older. I think of all of the holidays past with family members who are no longer with us, and I know that I should savor each and every holiday while everything is as it is. It's special.

2) A healthy child - Yes, Jacob's behavior is driving us nuts and may be indicative of bigger problems. Yes, he has a cold right now that will probably usher in his perma-cough that shows up all winter, every winter. But he's alive and well, running around and talking up a storm. He's smart, he's passionate, and when he's not being a crazy child he can be really sweet and fun. And he's a good sleeper, which does a world of good for my outlook on life each day. When I'm tired, the whole world is a few shades darker. Overall, we're just blessed to have him. There are so many people out there who can't have children or who have lost children. They'd probably give up important body parts to be in our position right now.

3) A beautiful house - We went through so much craziness in the last year, deciding out of nowhere to sell our house and trying like crazy to find a good one. And we did, on both counts. I never thought I'd survive the selling process or the moving process, but somehow I did. We had great family that came out to help with the move, and all of it got done (with the help of movers as well) in a matter of hours. Well, the settling in process took considerably longer, but eight months later we're happily settled in our home. As I've mentioned before, there are so many things about our house that make it absolutely perfect for us. A fall without leaf raking and a front porch conducive to trick or treaters are just two of the newest discoveries. And the mere fact that (knock on wood) we don't have any pressing repairs or improvements is such a massive load off our minds. We have a lovely home that we can enjoy for years to come, and we won't have to worry about cramming another baby in when the time comes...there's plenty of space now.

4) An extra year to enjoy our lives as we know them - Yes, in my grand plan I wanted to be pregnant right now. I wanted to be well on our way to having two kids three years apart. Well, that's not how things have worked out. I'll admit it's been a little hard to watch people who had kids around the same time that we did move on to another baby. I can think of four off the top of my head, actually, and part of me really wishes that I was one of them. However, it's just not a smart move financially right now, and we're hoping that by this time next year we'll be in a better spot. We do have reason to hope, but that may still be a long way off. It's looking to be a smart move as well because of Jacob's current issues. The stress alone would be bad for a growing fetus, let alone the physical struggles of dealing with Jacob right now. We can use this year to hopefully get him figured out a bit, and enjoy our last bit of time where he's the sole center of attention. Maybe we'll even have the time and money to take a fun trip somewhere cool. Or maybe Craig and I will have a chance to get away alone for a bit while there's just one child to ship off to the grandparents. There are plenty of things to fill the year, including getting Jacob potty trained and adjusted to a big boy bed, and to start getting our spare bedroom ready for him to move in someday. The time really isn't a bad thing.

5) Two jobs - With so many people losing their jobs around us, it's nice that both of us have managed to keep ours. While we'd both like to be making more, and while I still have my dream of working part time, at least for now we're both employed and bringing in enough money to live comfortably. And I'm extra thankful that there's a true prospect for improving things...in the short term and long term. More on that later, if anything comes of it. And while we both have our share of difficulties with our jobs (who doesn't?), we both have a lot of things that we like about them. Craig is fulfilling his dream of working in sports, and I have a job that has turned me into a Microsoft Excel nerd :) And it pays me better and demands far less hours than my previous job, which did have the benefit of fulfilling my dream of working in sports. I also got a husband out of the deal, so that wasn't bad, either ;-)

6) We're still happily married - We probably don't get to hang out or talk to each other as much as we'd like, since by the time evening hits and Jacob's in bed we're both too spent to do much more than watch TV, but when we do have the time to hang out, we still enjoy each other's company. And despite the stresses of work, parenthood, and home ownership, we're still happily together. And that means that much more this week, after hearing about marital infidelity by a friend of ours. It was disappointing and pretty shocking, and makes me that much more grateful that we've made it this far without feeling the need to resort to stupid, selfish behavior like that.

7) A special month - Earlier this month Craig's Nana turned 91. Saturday my grandma turns 86, and Sunday my parents celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. It's truly a blessing to have those things happening in our world...from the fun stories Nana shared during dessert today to the great example my parents have set with their marriage. I still remember my grandparents' 40th anniversary party, held under a tent in our old backyard. I was nearly four years old at the time. Looking back at pictures, my grandparents already looked old, but despite being in the same general age group as my parents are now, I think my parents look so much younger! Scary to think I'm pretty much the age now that my parents were then! I also know a number of other people with birthdays this month. Seriously, I think almost every day I had three or four friends on Facebook with birthdays. Something special about this month, I guess!

8) Anticipation for a great holiday season - I'm excited to decorate our new house, excited to see how Jacob reacts to everything this year (please God, don't let his current issues ruin everything!), excited to have 10 days off of work, and excited to see my brother and his family at Christmas. We talked with them today on the webcam (primarily to reveal my parents' anniversary gift), and it was awesome to see my niece Kate being such a big girl--talking, drawing, looking adorable--and I can't wait to see the two kids together. They're probably actually really close in abilities right now, so it should be fun to see if they talk to each other or play together. Let's hope it's all good! Regardless, it will be so good to see everyone together for the first time in a year and a half.

9) Potty training - While the whole process still freaks me out a bit, I'm excited that it's getting started earlier than I thought. We still have a long way to go, but it's a start. And amidst all of this frustration with Jacob, it's given us a little bright spot of pride every time he manages to go n the potty. Little victories, folks.

10) This blog - For nearly three years it's been a constant in my world, documenting my thoughts, feelings, and happenings for posterity. The blog has had its moments, but I really do appreciate it's presence in my life. I like looking back and seeing how we've progressed and what we've done. It's the most in-depth baby book possible, and I am grateful for the way it has documented our lives. It can be a great place to vent or sort through my feelings, a great creative outlet, and the cheapest form of therapy there is. And just one glance through it reminds me how lucky we are, how blessed to have so many good (and not-so-good, but life-enhancing nonetheless) experiences filling our world. And on this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for them all.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When Your Best Just Isn't Enough

What happens when your best just isn't enough? Everyone always says that you do your best as a parent, and that's all you can do. But what happens when your best just isn't enough? I suppose it's one thing if your best includes a crack habit and a penchant for late night visitors of the opposite gender...because obviously that's a problem. I'm not sure all of the love in the world could steer your kid around disaster in circumstances like that. But in average, middle class, mainstream society, it seems like most parents' best is generally good enough to produce a reasonably decent citizen down the road. Sure, even the best parents end up with bad eggs here or there (and likewise, there are good kids that come from truly bad parents), but I think those are generally the exception. But here I am, nearly two and a half years into this parenting thing, and I'm feeling pretty much like a failure. I know that's premature and I'm being too hard on myself, but have you ever had to stand before your child's teacher while they rattled off the problems they're having with your child, and simply not known what to say? It's hard. Very hard.

Yesterday we added hair pulling to the mix. He did it to one of the teachers, completely unprovoked. I will say that he doesn't really ever pull my hair, though sometimes if it's dangling near him he will reach up to grab it, but I'm not sure it's been (recently) communicated to him that it's wrong and that it hurts. It doesn't make the outcome any easier for the one whose hair was pulled, but other than explaining to him that it's wrong and that it hurts someone, I don't know what to do. They've had a lot of trouble with him not listening (been there) and he's also been pushing and hitting his friends. And the last couple days he's been waking up from his nap early and being loud, which wakes everyone else up. The early waking could be caused by the cold he picked up over the weekend, but I'm not sure what to do about his being loud. They try to distract him, but it hasn't been working. And as I've mentioned before, that's not really a surprise. When Jacob is determined to do something, it's very hard to convince him otherwise. It takes either a really enticing offer (one good enough to be hard to come by at a moment's notice) or you just have to wait it out until his natural toddler attention span takes over. I guess that's why time outs are sort of a natural thing for toddlers--after a couple minutes, they probably don't care anymore about whatever it was that upset them enough to get there in the first place, so when it's over, it's over.

As she was recounting the problems, I just didn't know what to say. I mean, we can only do what we can at home. We can talk to him about things that happen at daycare and we can be consistent with our discipline, but we have little to no ability to impact his day-to-day doings at daycare beyond that. No matter how many times we explain to him that pulling hair is wrong, we can't physically be there to stop him from doing it or punish him when he does. To be quite honest (and this is probably bad), I don't know how exactly they punish kids at daycare. I know they don't hit or spank. And from what they said the other day, apparently they don't do timeouts either. I'm assuming it's a practicality issue--there are ten toddlers running around the room, and with only a couple teachers you can't dedicate one teacher to making sure one kid sits through his timeout. Jacob can be a little violent in his timeouts anyway, taking swings and kicks at me every time I try to sit him back down. Yesterday he grabbed my arms and pinched them pretty good. But once we get through the hellishness and talk things through afterward, he's generally a much better little boy. He's certainly calmer and generally easier to deal with. That said, we did do two timeouts last night at dinner--one because he wouldn't eat and then got down from his chair (he was insisting on bringing his hockey guys to the table, even after I let him have a few and said no to the rest), and then another when he threw food (after two warnings). And even after that, he threw one more bit of food and was being just generally disrespectful at the table, so I took away his hockey sticks for the night. He was pretty upset about that, but even still, we managed to have a very nice rest of the evening. After each of his punishments he was considerably easier to deal with, even if he did fall prey to another toddler foible later. I'm not expecting perfection, just average behavior.

But I just don't know what to tell the people at daycare. As I said, we're doing what we can at home. But when he's there? What can I do? Part of me wants to say, "We pay you enough to figure it out yourself," but obviously that's not really the point. He's difficult and disruptive, and it's a problem. Part of me can't believe that they haven't run into this before. I mean, yes, Jacob is determined and difficult, but I can't imagine that there haven't been children as difficult as him before. If not, then they're really lucky. However, if he's really that bad, then I guess it feeds into my fears even more that there's something else going on with him beyond normal two-year-old behavior. It's scary. And I can't help but feel this vibe when I'm talking to them, almost a feeling of, "If we don't figure out how to stop this, then there will be consequences." They've never come out and said that, but they seem about as frustrated and hopeless as I am...and it leads me to wonder where we go from here. Would they kick him out if the disruptions became too much or his outbursts led everyone to fear for the safety of the staff and children? Once that happens, does it become a problem to get into a different daycare? If so, where do the "bad" kids go? Special ed programs? I have no idea. And obviously that's a big assumption that may not ever come to pass, but I can't help but wonder what happens if we don't figure this out.

I feel like teaching him to be a good boy is one of those frustrating, non-tangible things to teach when you're a parent. Ages ago I blogged about how hard it is to teach your baby to not scream wildly (still working on that one), or not to bite, or even how to drink from a sippy cup. When they can't comprehend your words, and actions only go so far, what do you do? You can put the sippy cup up to your mouth, but how do you teach them to suck on it when they don't understand how you're doing it? I feel the same way right now about nose blowing. I can put the tissue up to Jacob's nose and tell him to blow through his nose, but if he doesn't understand what I mean, it's not like I can physically show him how to blow through his nose. All of these things just seem like you have to wait until the child is cognitively able to figure it out for themselves--either to comprehend what you're saying, or by simply mimicking you and figuring it out from there by trial and error.

When it comes to behavior, I can tell him things all I want, but until he can comprehend the consequences of his actions and understand the steps he needs to take to restrain himself from the offending behavior, it feels like we're stuck. I can explain that this action hurts people or that action is inappropriate, but it's really up to him to internalize it and learn to hold back when he gets the urge. I can't do it for him. And therein lies the helplessness I'm feeling right now. If I can't force him to behave correctly, I'm just going to have to wait it out and keep trying to teach him in the meantime. In some cases that may involve putting him in situations where he could start to figure it out for himself--excluding him from fun activities, taking away favorite toys, or gently showing him that what he's doing is hurtful. And someday I hope he figures it out and turns into the sweet, polite boy I know he can be.

But what if it's not enough? What if our best efforts and best intentions to raise a charming, friendly child fail and we have a monster on our hands? What on earth do we do then? Or in the meantime? Hopefully we can work on it a bit this weekend with four straight days together, and a little more in the 10 days off I have around Christmas. However, I'm hoping for a Christmas miracle this year, and Jacob's cooperation and comprehension are at the top of my wish list. It makes some new clothes or small appliances seem like small potatoes, doesn't it? Keep us in your prayers...we need 'em.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Should I feel better or worse?

This morning when I dropped off Jacob, I had an uncommonly long discussion with his teachers. At his old daycare, I used to stay and chat at least a good five minutes every morning. The teachers were friendly, and we always had something to chat about--Jacob's night, his behavior, his milestones, etc. It may have made me late to work on more than one occasion, but it was nice to have that kind of rapport with the people who spent so much time with him. Nowadays it's pretty much in and out as soon as possible--for many reasons. One, I've never gotten the warm-fuzzy-chatty vibe with these teachers. They're perfectly nice, perfectly friendly, but it's just different. And in general they're busier with ten active toddlers and there's probably less day-to-day stuff to chat about. Finally, a quick good-bye usually makes for less drama, which is always a good thing. Lately we have had a couple short chats about his behavior and potty training, but today was longer than usual. They asked how his behavior had been, and I confirmed that it was a horrible weekend.

And you know what stinks? It started out so promising. Friday night I picked up Jacob and headed off to the doctor. We had run out of his antibiotic for the blossoming ear infection that the pulmonary specialist caught at his scheduled appointment the previous week. We were three doses short, which perplexes me to no end. I know I medicated him correctly and can only think it had something to do with the drops here and there that get stuck in the tubing and syringe that it's administered in. Anyway, there had been a couple times in the previous couple days where he mentioned his ears hurting, and while I assumed it might have just been a pity/diversion technique when he was in trouble, I couldn't be sure. So, with those two factors in mind, we went in to get him checked. He spent the time in the waiting room playing (fake) baseball and running around, but it was empty enough that he wasn't really disturbing anyone and he was entertaining himself just fine. We had to wait awhile in the exam room, and he sat nicely on my lap looking at books the whole time. He was great during the exam, and got a clean bill of health. Then we headed to McDonald's for a quick dinner, and all things considered he was great there as well. He ate fantastically--though with a little prodding--and generally kept the running away and rubber legs to a minimum. He even sat nice on his own little stool--not a booster or high chair. It was like some sort of miracle. At home he kept himself entertained while I packed up for our weekend trip to my parents' house, and we even had some nice little conversation in the car before he conked out on the way there. It was a great evening, and I told him that quite a few times. I thanked him for being such a good boy, told him how proud I was of him, and explained to him that behavior like that makes it so much easier to do fun things.

And then it all fell apart. I don't know if it was a wacky sleep/nap schedule, or a general change in scenery, or if he decided that nice is boring, but the weekend was tough. Even WITH my parents as backup. We had a nice weekend, though we didn't really do anything extraordinary. My mom and I did a little shopping on Saturday with Jacob. We made a quick-ish trip to the outlet mall in Niagara Falls that would have been considerably quicker had there not been a million people there. It was hard to find a parking spot and every store had a LONG line. I went there for two things and we stopped in maybe three stores, but most of the time there was spent waiting in line at one store. I wanted to get Jacob new hockey shirts since two of his are now too small, and the Oshkosh B'Gosh store was the only one I could find with any decent selection. I bought three, all in 3T, so we'll see what he gets for Christmas and what gets held until at least his birthday. We also stopped at a church bazaar, but we were probably only there for about 30-45 minutes, wandering and chatting...and five minutes of that was changing Jacob's diaper. After lunch Jacob had a heck of a time going down for nap and didn't end up falling asleep until about 4:30. I think part of the problem was the 20 minute nap in between our two shopping trips. Why one catnap means that his real nap isn't needed, I have no idea. I let him sleep until 5:30, and then we were up for dinner and playing. My mom and I did spend some time at my grandma's house that night, which is in the process of getting emptied of her stuff now that she has moved to an apartment. I picked up a few kitchen things, a couple keepsakes, and some Duplos (the big Legos) that will be a Christmas gift. I was going to buy some, but those will work! I think the one set was the set I played with at our house as a kid, so that's cool. Jacob was pretty good alone with my dad, though he did ask for me a bit, and potty time was an experience for my dad!

Sunday we went to church and then headed off to my Grandma's new apartment. We stayed there for a while and Jacob was busy but mostly tolerable. He took a few rides on my grandma's walker (it has a seat) and enjoyed (as usual) her beanie baby collections. After that we went to lunch and struggled to keep Jacob awake until we got there. He didn't eat much, however, though his mood did improve while we were there. He stayed awake until we got back to my parents' and I packed up. He fell asleep shortly into the drive home, around 3pm, and slept the whole way. We spent the rest of the night at home and enjoyed a visit from Lori. I unpacked and he went to bed at a normal time.

While all of that sounds relatively simple and fine, I left out the three million times Jacob threw a tantrum, got jello legs and turned into dead weight, hit or kicked me, or said "no". Any time he doesn't get his way, or doesn't want to go where you do, or you try to redirect him for any reason, he gets upset. He always wants to be playing sports--throwing or kicking balls in the living room, swinging a lacrosse or hockey stick, or pretending to play baseball with a phantom bat and ball, complete with base running and sliding...which is what he was doing in the doctor's office waiting room. It's fine when he cleans up the balls or has consideration for people around him or does it in an open area where the risks are less. But when he won't clean up, won't keep his stick down, or runs around in crowds of people (particularly older people with hot coffee, like yesterday after church), it's a problem. And no matter what, he won't be reasoned with. Therein lies the problem. I'm not sure we could truly stop him if we tried (and if we did, would feel so restrained that it would cause more problems?), but how can we get him to understand that there's a time and place for everything, and when right now does not fit that criteria, that he just needs to stop? But like I mentioned earlier, once he gets something in his head, it is nearly impossible to redirect him. And even the times we manage to, I think we just try long enough that eventually his toddler nature kicks in and he's ready to move on anyway. But it makes almost everything impossible. Cleaning up is a tantrum, putting on a jacket is a tantrum, getting ready for dinner is a tantrum, going up for bed is a tantrum. And usually that involves screaming, crying, hitting, and kicking. Half the time I throw him over my shoulder like a potato sack because it's the simplest way to incapacitate him and move on, but even last night he took to punching me in the back when I did that.

I don't know if the violence is from watching sports, or if he's one of those kids that totally internalizes the spankings or hand slaps he's received and perceives it as okay to do back (as far as I remember I was too scared to even try that!), but it's definitely a problem. I've been trying to watch my own temper and cut out punishments like that completely--with some success--as it's obvious that he's modeling our "out of control" behavior by yelling and hitting back. And while we try, sometimes it just seems like a spanking or hand slap is the quickest and/or most emphatic way to express displeasure with what's going on. And you'd think that a bit of repetition on that--meaning, naughty action = discomfort--would eventually click in his head, but apparently not. Instead it tells him he should fight back. I spend most of his two minute time outs trying to sit him back on his bench while avoiding his swings at me. Last night Lori said that the Supernanny would be proud, but I feel like such a failure right now anyway! How did we raise our sweet little boy into the crazy child he is today? Where did we go wrong? And how do we fix it?

I feel bad that daycare is dealing with the same stuff, for so many reasons. He's my child and I'm supposed to love him (and yes, I do!) but they don't have to so I imagine it's hard to put up with his crap sometimes. It's also hard trying to keep the other kids from copying him. And considering how many kids they're dealing with at any given moment, I would have to think that behavior like that is not very convenient to take the time to deal with. We pay them well, however, and I know other kids have their moments as well. But I do worry when they talk about it and you just know from the sound of it that perhaps he's just a little more intense with this stuff than most kids. They told me flat-out the other day that they've never seen a kid this obsessed with sports (or probably anything else, I imagine). Making a kid like that work amidst other kids has to be a challenge.

The whole thing just makes me sad, especially because I know he CAN be a good kid. I have pictures at my desk at work with big, adorable smiles, and I want that kid to be waiting for me at the end of the day, not the one that screams and hits and kicks. I have a night like Friday and know he's capable of being normal, but wonder what goes wrong when he's not. Is it me? Is it something he's eating? Is he going to be bipolar someday? Does he have ADHD? Even some of his behaviors remind me of the kid with Asperger's on Parenthood (and yes, I know it's TV and I know the kid is considerably older, but the obsessions and tantrums are all too similar sometimes). It's scary. I'll probably take our doctor's advice and bring him in for a 2-1/2 year well visit. Since we don't have a copay and it's a crazy time developmentally, she suggested we do it even though some offices only do yearly checkups once kids hit age two. Hopefully then we can have a chat about his behavior and see if it's normal or a bit extreme. It's a sobering reality, though, to know that your kid is different. While it may not be different to the extent of a serious medical problem, at this point we just don't know yet. But after discussing things with his teachers this morning, I didn't know if I should feel relieved that it's not just us and take comfort in the comiseration, or if I should feel worse because it's becoming a wider reaching problem. It's tough either way and I just hope we figure out a solution soon. It's making me concerned about the "fun" we'll be able to have this Christmas, and how his issues could limit us. And even worse, I don't want the craziness of the season to make matters worse. It's so hard to know. Day by day, I guess...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why?

Why won't Jacob listen? I know he's two and it's no two year old's strong point, but still...I have to think Jacob is particularly bad in that department. And now it's not just us who seem to have been tuned out. Daycare has been experiencing it more and more lately. I just don't know what to do.

Considering all of the ear infections he's dealt with recently, part of me wants to think he might have trouble hearing us sometimes. But we know he does hear us sometimes, too, and his speech is good, so I tend to think that's not his problem. He just doesn't seem to care. He's a selective listener, and it's really becoming a problem. Actually, there are a whole host of problems right now that are all converging and making him a nightmare to deal with on a regular basis. First, his obsession with sports is really starting to get to me. Yes, the goalie stance is cute, his skills are impressive, and while most kids choose a soft, snuggly lovey as their constant companion, Jacob instead loves his hockey sticks. That's fine. But he's constantly throwing balls around the house, and at daycare he uses everything as a piece of sports equipment, to the point that a play kitchen sauce pan is his lacrosse stick and every round piece of fruit is his ball. Yesterday he was using another play pan as a bat or something, and almost hit another kid in the face. It's so not cool when you get that report from daycare.

He's always hitting or fighting under the guise of being a "nasty hockey guy". And no matter how many times we explain to him that nasty hockey guys are naughty and have to sit in timeout in the penalty box, and try to explain that fighting is bad and hurts people, he keeps it up. I've been threatening that if he doesn't stop fighting and hitting, we're not going to hockey games anymore. You'd think that would be a motivator since he loves going, but so far it's had no effect. No amount of guilt about hurting people (his friends or us) or reminders that fighting is bad has any impact on him. Lately, I've been trying to teach him to keep his hands to himself. He's frequently touching me in less than loving ways (like poking me repeatedly when I brush his teeth or hitting me in the arm in the middle of dinner--either with his messy hand or a fistful of food), and there's just no reason for it. No matter how I try to tell him that he should keep his hands to himself, he just doesn't get it. We've tried timeouts for hitting--and because hitting is one of his problems, I'm trying to lay off spanking for now, with limited success. Sometimes he just does something so bad, with a smug smile on his face no less, and there just doesn't seem to be anything else but a spanking that will get the point across. But really, even that doesn't phase him sometimes. And the hitting continues regardless of the punishment. It's one thing to hit one of us, but when he hits his friends, it's so much worse. How is my skinny little kid such a bully?

Another problem is that he's definitely in a mode of saying "no" when we ask him to do completely reasonable things, like clean up the balls he's thrown all over the living room. Dinner time is a challenge a lot of evenings as well, as he spends more time playing with his food, scraping his fork on the wall, banging his fork on the table, or throwing things on the floor than actually eating. Tonight he actually sat in timeout twice--once during dinner and once right after. The first time he was throwing food on the floor and laughing, and the second time we was just being generally annoying...playing with his cup and fork, and bothering me. He gives us trouble every time we try to put on his coat, particularly in the morning, always collapsing to the floor in a heap or contorting to avoid our grasp. When we pick him up from daycare, it's more of the same, though he also tends to run down the hallway as well if we lose a grip on him for more than a second. Even worse, he'll sometimes take out (or throw) toys. I feel like the most incapable parent every single day when I'm there. Seriously. First he doesn't want to go to daycare, and then he doesn't want to leave. And I get it, really. He wants to hang out with us, so leaving home each morning is hard. And when we come get him, he's had a full day of fun and stimulation that he wants to share with us. And at the end of the day he gets to do other cool things, too, like look at the Pre-K's gerbils and turtles or watch the guinea pigs in another room. Once we're there AND he gets to do the cool stuff, things are perfect. But he knows the drill, so it seems like an every-single-day tantrum just isn't necessary. It's never worked, obviously, so why keep doing it?

We get resistance on almost anything these days. Sure, the tantrums are just an expression of his feelings, and I try to be sensitive to that. But the fact that he does them so often, despite not ever getting his way from them, perplexes me. However, I think what bothers us the most is that he does nasty things so purposefully. He will poke me with a smile on this face, happily drop his food on the floor, and laugh as he runs away. He knows those things bother us (or at least, he should based on our consistent negative reaction), and yet he happily does them. I'm sure people would say that he's just looking for attention, but I think we give him plenty of positive attention so he shouldn't need the negative stuff. And really, is a timeout or yelling the kind of attention he wants? The thing I don't understand, though, is when they say to ignore the kid when they're doing something wrong, to remove all attention. I understand the concept, but in practice I just don't get it. Am I just supposed to stand there and not say a word as he dumps his food on the floor or punches me in the stomach? How do I not give him attention but also appropriately punish him? If he won't sit for timeout, how can I ignore him then? Silence doesn't work with him either. On top of that, isn't it a risk that if we ignore him, he'll just do more bad stuff to try harder to get our attention?

This morning his one teacher said that some parents take away prized possessions as motivation to curb the behavior. We've done things like that before, like taking away his hockey sticks for the night. We're also trying the "no hockey game" threat, but I'm just not sure he gets it because that isn't working either. Maybe we need to take away his sticks for longer, but I'm afraid that he'll act out more because he's angry they're gone, or he'll do even more of the random-toy-as-sports-gear thing at daycare because he can't get any of it out of his system at home. I feel sort of stuck. It just keeps getting worse, and I'm not sure what to do to stop it.

Tomorrow I may try to make an appointment at the doctor's office. Jacob is nearly through a round of antibiotics for his ears, but he's still be complaining about it a bit. He said it at daycare yesterday, then brought it up again in a post-timeout chat tonight when I asked him why he was being so bad. Maybe it was just a diversion, but I figure we'll go get him checked and see if he needs more meds to get him well. And if he does, something tells me we're headed for tubes. But if it helps him be a happier child, so be it. And maybe the doctor will have some advice in the meantime. I'm getting desperate.

It's been a rough week overall, and Thanksgiving can't come soon enough. Four days with Jacob is a little scary at this point, but I'm hopeful it'll be something we all need.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Wanna Drive the Zamboni...

Just a quick nugget today. I finally remembered to upload the picture of Jacob on the Zamboni. Not a great picture in general, but believe it or not this pretty much fulfilled a life-long dream of Jacob's. He loves Zambonis. So, it should be here :)



Monday, November 15, 2010

Quick Weekend Roundup

So, per my post on Saturday, it ended up being an odd weekend. While the potty training vibe wasn't quite as strong on Sunday, it certainly continued. Lest I get too confident, Jacob had wet pants when we got home last night. I'm not sure if he was just too tired to notice, or too lazy to mention that he had to go or that he was uncomfortable. Like I said before, I'm not expecting miracles...we still have a very long road ahead. Nighttime will probably be an issue for a while, and naps as well. Car trips are a crap shoot, I guess. Bedtime was uneventful. This morning he woke up with a full diaper, and initally he didn't seem too bothered by it, nor did he want to sit on the potty. But he quickly changed his mind, and when I went to pull his diaper off so he could sit, I noticed there was poop. And the poop promptly dropped off his butt and on to the floor. Lovely. Still, he managed a good round of pottying, and that was that. We'll see how things go this week. I'm still not convinced he understands "holding it", and I'm in no rush to go get big boy undies, but I suppose it has to move up the list a bit. Maybe next weekend we'll look into it.

Our weekend was fun, overall. We had a low key night on Friday, and then spent Saturday morning packing up to head to Buffalo to spend the weekend with Craig's family. We hadn't done that all together since Labor Day weekend, so it was long overdue. We did some running around once we got into town (hence the mall potty experience I mentioned Saturday), then hung out at Craig's parents on Saturday night with his brother's family. Jacob had a blast playing with his cousins, particularly since Craig pulled out a little hockey net for him to use. Here he is in action...and yes, I think we will be getting him a mini goalie stick for Christmas.



Sunday we had a pleasant surprise in that Craig's parents' church was holding a pancake breakfast. So off we went for pancakes! If I haven't mentioned, Jacob loves pancakes. I've starting making them for dinner once in a while (they're fast and I know he'll eat them!), and he just inhales them. He'd eat every single one, I think, if I let him. He also enjoys sausage. We don't eat those at home, but he gets them at daycare once in a while (they like breakfast for lunch), so I was happy to see that was part of the meal. Craig and I each got a plate and we figured we'd share with Jacob. Well, once we sat down, it was readily apparent that he was ready to eat. I cut up my whole plate and put it in front of Jacob before going up for a new plate for myself. Jacob ended up eating his entire plate--two pancakes and three sausage--plus a cup of milk. I ate less than he did!

It turned out that we were going to a birthday party for Craig's cousin's daughter, so we headed out on a shopping trip for that. Jacob fell asleep along the way, and then woke up in time for a quick trip inside the Hallmark store. Craig and his brother were looking around and I was chasing Jacob through the store. He ran up an aisle at full speed, and then suddenly I heard this sudden, terrified scream. Jacob turned on a dime with absolute terror on his face, and ran back toward me. All I can figure is that as he was running up the aisle, he saw a human-sized Santa. I think it's one of those animated ones that is made to look real, though this one wasn't moving. Regardless, I'm pretty sure it's what freaked Jacob out. He was super-glued to me for the rest of the time in the store, no matter how far away we were from Santa or how many cool things I tried to show him. He was so scared that he was breathing hard! I felt so bad for him because I don't know if I've ever seen him that scared, but I couldn't help but laugh. He's seen plenty of pictures of Santa, so I have no idea why this particular figure scared him so much. He wouldn't look up until we were out of the store. Poor kid. So much for going to visit Santa this year. Perhaps I'll have to warn daycare as well, since I think Santa is coming to visit in a few weeks. Yikes.

The birthday party was at a fun center--you know, the places with arcade games, big kid games, and a towering play area with tunnels and a big slide. We haven't done too much of that sort of thing, so I was interested to see how Jacob did. They had a few Jacob-friendly games, like a cool little basketball hoop shooting game that he was awesome at, and another couple that involved throwing balls. Initially we couldn't get him into the play area with the other kids, simply because he didn't want to take off his shoes. Jacob likes wearing shoes. He wants to wear them all the time. But after a while I guess he was interested, so he let me take them off, and off he went. His big cousin Madeline did great taking him through and helping him down the big slide a couple times. It was fun to see him having so much fun, and more or less independently, and hearing his shrieks of excitement! After about 10 minutes he was out and back to playing goal in front of the play area netting, which apparently was one big hockey net to him!

We did quite a few potty runs while we were there, with mixed success, and by the end of our time there he was getting difficult--running away, throwing things that weren't his--so it was a bit of a relief to get in the car and start working our way toward home. But all in all it was a fun weekend in spite of some odd sleeping patterns for all of us. Needless to say, we all came home pretty tired but generally happy. Monday morning brought with it the usual resistance against going to daycare (and quite frankly, despite putting a major pain of a project behind me last week, I was none too thrilled about heading to work myself, and I'm sure Craig was much the same). But we made it through and even took a trip back into the city tonight so Jacob could meet the Knighthawks' new goalie at a press conference to introduce him. He did, and only shot his lacrosse ball into a crowd once or twice ;-) We actually had a pretty good time, and fun when we were at home as well. Good night overall...thankfully. Just one more full week, and then a short week and before a couple days off...it's coming!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Potty Training Suprise

Warning: This post is all about bodily fluids. Discontinue reading if poop is not your thing.

Ok, so have I mentioned here that I didn't think Jacob would be ready for potty training for a while? I pondered doing it during my week off at Christmas, but we probably won't be home for a good part of it so I'm not sure that would work anyway. I had figured that we'd work on transitioning to a big boy bed during that week, and maybe I'd use some of my extra vacation days next year to do some intense potty training in the late winter-early spring, if he seemed ready. But then came this week.

Until now, Jacob had only slight interest in potty training. He'd sit on the potty if prompted, and sometimes he'd even pee. He didn't have a problem pooping, and even asked to poop once in a while if we happened to show up when he felt the urge. So fortunately, fear of the potty hasn't been a problem. He's fine with both potty chairs and big potties, and I think going at daycare has been a big help, as well. Peer pressure is a wonderful thing at this stage, for so many reasons. The big issue was that he didn't seem particularly bothered by dirty diapers. Once in a while a poopy one would get to him, but wet didn't phase him at all.

I'll admit that I'm a bit lazy about the potty training thing. While I'm getting to the point of not wanting to buy diapers, I still don't mind changing them. I like the convenience of not needing to stop every 10 minutes to find a bathroom, and I don't have any desperate need to run out and buy big boy undies (and do the associated laundry). I don't want to spend every waking moment taking timed trips to the bathroom, nor do I relish the thought of taking four extra pairs of pants and underwear along on every outing, just in case (and with my luck, at least one of those extras should be for me). Long story short, I wasn't in a rush. It'll be nice when it's over, but I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around the transition.

Already I've run into questions. How do I wipe a kid who clenches his butt cheeks? And is it possible to teach him to effectively wipe himself at this point? How do I get him to sit so he's pointing down into the toilet and not spraying back on his pants or on me? Is it going to set him back if I tell him to pee in his diaper in the middle of the Thruway so we don't have to stop? Once he's wearing big boy undies, what do we do if we can't find a bathroom right away? I have no memory of potty training myself, and only vague memories of post-potty training accidents. I just don't remember how it's supposed to work. And with a stubborn, one-track-minded child, I have no idea how much I can trust him once we start hardcore training with real undies. I did hear a suggestion to put the real undies under pull-ups. Uncomfortable wet feeling for him, no mess for me...well, assuming he goes #1.

So that brings us to this week. Suddenly he started whining a bunch about his diaper, wanting to change it, saying he'd pooped, and asking a lot to go to the potty. Sometimes he'd go, sometimes he wouldn't, sometimes his diaper was full, sometimes it wasn't. The signs were confusing, at least, so I couldn't tell if this was just a phase or if it was a real start of something. Maybe his diaper was bothering him for some reason. Maybe he finally decided he didn't like poop.

Last night he kept asking for a change even though his diaper was dry. I let him sit on the potty once and nothing happened, but then as I was cooking dinner (and Craig wasn't home yet) he gave me the look and said he needed to go potty. Sure enough, he put out a good poop. We did an awkward wipe and hand-washing, and I went back to cooking. By bedtime he was asking again, and he did a nice pee with a tiny little poop (he called it a "jelly bean"--he compares his poops to food, which is super gross). Today he's been asking a lot again, including multiple times on our trip to Buffalo and then an impassioned plea in the middle of the mall. Our first stop post-Thruway became a bit of a mess as he ended up somehow peeing all over his pants while on the toilet. The mall trip led us on a long walk through Sears to find the closest bathroom. Things went a little better at Craig's parents' house late this afternoon. I'm not going to say his diapers are all dry when we take them off, but they're close. So all of a sudden, he's doing well. I have no idea where this came from.

And, as I alluded to earlier, I wasn't ready for this. I am grateful for the fact he seems to be doing this all himself, because I don't think I'd have had the guts to push him for a while. If we hit his third birthday and we hadn't gotten anywhere, then yes...push away. But now? Nah, I figured he'd get there when he felt like it, and apparently he has. For now. I have a feeling it might lose its luster and he'll backtrack a bit, but maybe we'll get lucky. Even still, we have some matters to attend to now that this is happening. I need to go get some pull-ups, just because I have to think they're easier than diapers for frequent pee breaks. I am still a bit hit-or-miss with putting diapers on when he's standing up. I should probably move up my shopping trip for the big boy undies I was going to give him for Christmas. I want to put together a potty chart so he can earn stickers and eventually a prize. We also need to get a better stool for our bathroom. We have a tiny one I got at IKEA when Jacob was tiny, thinking it would be helpful for sitting on when bathing him and hoping he'd use it by this stage for potty training and handwashing. And I think it will be good in another year or so, but right now it's too short. We need something a little higher so he can get up to the potty alone (even though he does have the option of his froggy potty) and so he can wash his hands without me awkwardly holding him up to the sink. Eventually he can use it to brush his teeth, too. So that's moved up the shopping priority list by leaps and bounds this week. Finally, it looks like the big boy bed might have to move up the list a bit. He can't get out of his crib to use the potty, so once we're ready to conquer that step, I'd like to already be comfortable-ish with him being in a big boy bed so we're only jumping one hurdle at a time. And I only want to work on a big boy bed when I don't have to go to work in the morning and Jacob doesn't have to go to daycare. That way a disastrous night or two won't completely do us in. I'm still nervous about how we contain him once he's free to get up--not just for our sanity, but for his safety--but that's a post for another day.

I'm still pretty shocked at how this came out of nowhere, but with his big boy haircut and his sudden potty usage, it's looking more and more like we've got ourselves a big boy. Now if only we could lose those infantile tantrums, we'd be getting somewhere...but one thing at a time, I guess.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Three Years Ago...

Three years ago today, I found out I was pregnant. It's amazing to think that in one instant, our lives changed forever. And even though we had been trying, the pregnancy came as a huge surprise. My body was keeping us guessing, and up until the moment that test came back positive, I had no idea I was pregnant. Instead my brain floated around other less logical causes of my fatigue and general blah feeling. The test was just a last minute check before calling both my OB/GYN (to say that the cycle-regulating drugs hadn't worked) and my regular doctor (to find out why I was so exhausted)...but the only call I made after that test was to my OB/GYN to set up an "I'm Pregnant!" appointment.

I was alone when I took the test, and the simultaneous excitement and fear were something I can barely describe. It's this it's the greatest fear I've ever felt, cushioned by exhilaration. I suppose the two feelings canceled each other out to some degree, leaving me in a state of confusion and chaos. There were so many questions, so much to think about. What do I do now? Do I call a doctor? Do I call my parents? Do I hop online and figure out what I should or shouldn't be eating? When I told Craig he was obviously excited, as we'd been hoping to get to that point for a few months, but I'm not sure either of us really knew what to do next.

The month-plus that followed was ad odd time. I've said before that it was like living a double life. Out in public, I had to act completely normal, as if nothing was different. We didn't want to tell people until the first trimester was over (knowing how common miscarriages are early on), so I had to work and interact with people like it was any other day. But on the inside and when I was at home, pretty much everything revolved around being pregnant. I think the fact that I felt like crap for a good month or so was the hardest part. How do you hide the fact that you're exhausted and nauseous (though I never got sick...thank goodness!) all the time for weeks? It was especially hard on Thanksgiving. I was feeling horrible at that time, but fortunately that day I had a slight reprieve and managed to stay functional in the presence of our families. I ate like a pig, which was fun until the slow digestion I suffered from early on made it impossible to get a good night's sleep. But throughout that first trimester, fear was still a huge issue, and it was a good motivator to keep up the charade. The last thing I wanted to do was spill the beans early and then have to go back around and tell everyone bad news.

I felt bad not telling important people in our lives, but I was nervous enough for all of them put together, so it seemed easier to wait. Our trip to Florida in mid-December definitely made things that much more difficult. It swallowed up any time we would have had to go to Buffalo and tell family in person, and having to make excuses for why I didn't ride Space Mountain wasn't much fun either. I was nervous about flying, riding any rides, having a miscarriage while we were there, and feeling good enough to enjoy it. And add in that it was Christmas season and there were lots of preparations to be done with one less week to do them, and I'm surprised I even made it on the plane. The trip was fantastic, however. I felt good, we did some Christmas shopping while we were there, and saw all of Disney in the best weather possible. I missed out on my beloved roller coasters, but we still had a lovely time away. The trip back nearly killed me (wind in Orlando, and snow across New York--one canceled flight, two long delays, and a bumpy landing in the wee hours of the morning...not fun), but it was a great last getaway nonetheless. And once we were back, it was just another week or so until we could spill the beans.

I think one of the things that sticks out to me most about pregnancy in general was the simple knowledge that every day my body was doing something important. Even in those early days when I had no visible proof I was pregnant other than a Dollar Tree pregnancy test, I had a purpose each day--to treat my body as well as possible so that it could do its job to grow a baby. I loved that feeling, even if it was a daunting prospect. Even without much help from me, my body did this awesome thing, and you can't help but be amazed when you experience it. I could do nothing but sit on a couch all day, and my body still would have done something amazing that day. And I think that knowledge was extra important early on, when I didn't have a kicking baby or swelling belly to remind me of how special each moment was. It made even the toughest days that much more livable.

This time of year when the leaves are spent and it gets dark early, I'm sometimes taken back to that time three years ago when everything was so uncertain, so exciting, and so...different. Despite all of the unknowns, it was a simpler time when the "thing" we were so unsure about was safely concealed and easier to manage (in theory, anyway). Now that "thing" is living among us, and while we have a physical ability to impact his life, the questions still mount and the control is probably less than we'd like. But it's been an amazing ride these past three years, one I'd never give back for anything. And I look forward to doing it all over again...someday.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Great Expectations

While I try to never let myself get too excited about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, this year I'm having a bit of a hard time. I'm not sure if it's the plethora of Christmas stuff around already (though, admittedly, I get nauseous when I walk into a store and see it), or if it's because I've already got a few of Jacob's gifts done, or if I'm just that darn excited about this year, but yeah...part of me is hoping the next few weeks go quickly and we can get the Christmas show on the road.

I keep trying to tell myself that Christmas = Stress, because inevitably, I know it does. No matter how much I try to savor Christmas, by the end of it I'm always just a tad bit happy it's over. I suppose I liken it to having a child. It's a ton of work and lots of stress, but in the end it's fun and rewarding and I wouldn't give it up for anything. And I keep hoping that this year, Jacob will really enjoy it. The dark side of Christmas is that Jacob has entered the "I want" phase. He wants everything. Well, unlike most kids he's not paging through the toy catalog, but he wants pretty much every piece of sporting equipment you can imagine...even if he already has one or won't have any real use for it for a while. He wants skates, a helmet, gloves, both hockey and lacrosse goalie sticks, and who knows what else. And while I'm sure he'll love the gifts we have for him (including a net, which he's also been asking for), I'm a tad nervous we'll get through Christmas and he'll start asking about all of the stuff he didn't get. For a while now we've been using Santa--both to improve behavior and to push off his requests (i.e., "Maybe Santa will bring that to you if you're a good boy."). Not too sure how he'll feel about Santa when many of his wish list items don't show up. Hopefully he's too distracted by what he does get to care.

And while I do look forward to him opening his gifts now that he's a little older than last time (not just last Christmas, but his birthday as well), there's so much more beyond that that I'm excited about. I'm excited for him to finally notice Christmas decorations as we drive around the neighborhood. I'm excited to decorate our new house (with a real fireplace!) and see what Jacob thinks of it all (though hopefully he'll keep his hands off!). I'm excited to use some sort of Advent calendar or some other countdown like the paper chains we used to make as a kid. I would love to make Christmas cookies or even the same cinnamon ornaments I made last year and let Jacob help. I also hope to go to some sort of outdoorsy display, much like the visits to the Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls when I was young. There are so many fun traditions that go with Christmas, and I hope to introduce Jacob to as many as possible so his Christmas seasons are as enjoyable as mine always have been.

I know that his experiences at daycare will play into that as well. I think some of my best holiday preparation memories came from school. I loved making a paper chain every year, making gifts for my parents, our class Christmas party, and even to some degree, prepping for our Christmas programs. That tended to be boring, but at least we got to miss classes for it! Rehearsal for our Sunday School program first thing on Saturday morning, though, which was not so fun. Still, the activities all centered your mind on the holiday, and whether they got you thinking about the true reason for Christmas, or the act of giving, or just the plain fun of it all, it all added up to make Christmas more than just a day. As much as we loved Jacob's old daycare (and still miss it!), one thing I didn't love was that they weren't into the stereotypical holiday projects. No paper pumpkins, no tinsel-decorated paper tree. Projects may have been seasonal, but they weren't the stereotypical stuff that I did as a kid. And I sort of wanted that paper pumpkin. This daycare does do those sorts of things, and this year I'm interested to see what projects Jacob brings home for Christmas...and I hope he understands why he's doing them. It's all part of the experience.

Speaking of Christmas programs, I do look forward to Jacob going to Sunday School and getting involved in those. I always worried about what would happen if we went to a church like the one I grew up in, where the big Christmas program was on Christmas Eve. Even though I absolutely loved being able to enjoy that program on such a special night (I still miss that and the candlelight service that followed it), I often wondered how it would work with all of our traveling and family commitments. We're never home on Christmas Eve anymore, so would Jacob miss out? Thankfully, our church does it earlier in Advent so we should be all set. I can't wait to see him up there, hopefully singing like an angel...and hopefully not being the kid who runs off with Baby Jesus, downs some scenery, or screams bloody murder. We have a year or two before we see which, though.

I just hope to see some wonder in his eyes, assuming he slows down long enough to take it all in. And perhaps that's good advice for me as well. Here's hoping...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Well...

It was a weekend of mixed success. Great behavior one moment, disaster the next. While I suppose I'm grateful for the great moments we do get, I find myself baffled as to why the switch has to flip, leaving us with a crazy child.

Friday night turned out about as good as it could have. Of course, it started out with a quick but disasterous stop at Wegmans--literally less than 10 minutes. The first half was fine. I got Jacob to help me push my cart (like a character in one of his favorite books), and we picked up just a few items that we needed for the weekend. But by the time we got to the register, he was impossible. He wouldn't walk, he was sprawled on the floor, and I was literally dragging him through the checkout. I was trying to hold onto him with one hand and pay with the other. Never again do I not put him in a cart. Embarrassing.

The concert was fantastic, and although there were a couple hiccups, having Jacob with us really wasn't too bad. I prepared myself for the worst, and while there were split seconds of it, it wasn't an all-night thing. The standing show actually turned out to be a great thing. Jacob had room to move, which most of the time was good. While we were waiting for the show to start, he was playing hockey in the area around us. I did have to remind him to keep his stick down, stay nearby, and not shoot his hockey puck too hard (it was a soft puck), but he was pretty good. But the second the music started he was petrified. I had to hold him and he wouldn't look up for anything. He reacted much the same to the circus last weekend. I don't know if it's the noise, the darkness, or something else, but it was a carbon copy. He remained attached to me for the full 20-30 minutes of the first act, though somewhere in there he fell asleep. My arms were aching but I managed to make it through. He woke up at the intermission, and by then we had found ourselves a place to sit on the floor. I gave him a drink and a snack, and he seemed to relax a bit. When the music started again, we sat for a bit, then stood so he could see, and he was fine. Eventually he wanted to get down and play, and for a while he did very well. Then he wanted to run and got a little rowdy (during the worship part of the band's set...ugh), so we ended up exploring a bit--the open area near the entrance, the lobby, etc.--and from then on we alternated between nice play, rowdy play, and running around. He's got no fear running away in a crowd, which is a scary thing. No matter how many times we explain the dangers, he doesn't quite get it. Ugh. It ended up being a late night, but it was a great show and bedtime still went smoothly, so all things considered it was fine.

Saturday Jacob woke up happy and Craig took him to the arena for the Amerks' morning skate, figuring it would give Mary and me some uninterrupted chat time. They had a lot of fun and Jacob has been talking about it ever since. He even got to sit on the Zamboni and honk the horn! I have a picture of it, but I don't have access to it at the moment :( We met them for an early lunch and that experience was less than ideal. Jacob is going through a phase where he thinks it's funny to throw things on the floor at restaurants--napkins, coasters, food--and he was in rare form for this meal. Of course, before our food ever came, Jacob got this "look" on his face, followed quickly by some very obvious pushing. He had to poop and wanted to go to the bathroom (progress!). I took him in and I knew he had already pooped a bit, but he said there was more and he wanted to sit on the toilet. So, I carefully pulled off his diaper and awkwardly sat him on the toilet. I couldn't get his legs apart enough to point his penis down, so I was praying he didn't have to pee until I could do that. He pooped quite a bit, and then we had the awkward dance of trying to wipe him. I still have no idea how it's supposed to work. He clenches his butt cheeks, I can't see anything, and it's all just weird. I tried to put his new diaper on standing up, but that did not work so it was back to the changing table to finish up. Oh, and then handwashing was just awkward because I have to lift him and wash both our hands at the same time. Places should have to put in kid sinks and toilets. Seriously. It could have been a movie, I swear.

Jacob's behavior was bad enough that we didn't even do our usual stop at the PetSmart near the restaurant. We just went home and put him in bed. And then he SLEPT. After over three hours (and naps for the two of us as well), I went up to wake him a little before 5pm. We had a low key evening, but thanks to the long, late nap, Jacob was awake late (relatively quiet and in his crib, but awake).

I read a blogger (or rather, a guest post from the blogger's husband) over the weekend who stated that time changes as a parent are reverse what they were before, and I couldn't agree more. Pre-parenthood, spring forward and its loss of an hour were tough (still are), but if the worst thing that happens to your kid now is a late bedtime, it could be worse. At least there's the chance that they'll sleep in. If they're not tired yet, there's nothing you can do. Fall back used to be great thanks to that extra hour of sleep, but with a child, they wake up an hour earlier regardless so your extra hour of sleep is worthless. Jacob woke up at 6:30 on Sunday, even with his relatively late bedtime (or at least, when he actually fell asleep). He's never up before 7am, so this was a tough pill to swallow on a morning when we were supposed to wake up pleasantly refreshed. Boo.

Craig had to work, so Jacob and I were on our own for church. The first half was fine. He ate, drank and drew relatively quietly. The second half was our usual nightmarish behavior--rolling around on the floor, yelling, trying to draw on things other than paper, running around, throwing a door stop--and I was instantly on edge. We made one quick stop on our way home to pick up the massive pack of printed pictures from our summer (50% off at Walgreens!), which had its own annoying moments of him needing to be carried and not wanting to walk nicely, and then he briefly fell asleep on the way home. He woke up the second I put him in his crib (of course), so instead we headed down to lunch. I planned to do an early lunch and dinner so we could have a normal dinner before the hockey game at 5pm, so his waking up worked out okay. Lunch was a bit rough but manageable, but eventually he was spending more time playing with his food than eating it, so it was up to bed. He took another marathon nap, and after the two-hour point I woke him up so we could head out for a couple stops before a quick dinner and the Amerks game.

We first headed to get his hair cut. Jacob hasn't had a haircut since August, I think. He got it cut pretty short that time, so it has lasted a while. But his sideburns were getting pretty bad and his hair kept falling over his collar. Usually we leave it longer on top because of a nasty cowlick, but this time the woman just buzzed it all off short. It might grow out a little funny, but for now it's ok. He looks super cute, as usual. And it would have been perfect timing since Jacob's school pictures are tomorrow, but alas...he fell on his face (literally) on Friday and has a major brushburn on his nose. Ugh...one of these years we'll get one worth buying. Anyway, he did great for the whole haircut...just chatting about the sports on TV and the sports equipment that hangs on the walls of the shop. Even still, I would LOVE to figure out how to use clippers enough to do that myself!

Our next stop was the library. I had been wanting to take Jacob to the library for a while, but it just never happened. Now that he's getting into certain books at daycare, I figured it might be fun to go get some of those, as well as some new ones I've been thinking about getting him, and give them a test run. Against my better judgment I let him bring a hockey stick in with us. Sometimes he's really good with it, just doing his moves and holding it nicely, enough to keep him distracted and prevent him from screaming that he wants his hockey stick. But sometimes he's a maniac and runs around like a "hockey guy", at which point I regret letting him have it at all. Unfortunately the library visit was more like the latter. At one point he was screaming bloody murder in the middle of the library and I just wanted to die right there. Hello, incompetent parent. Or at least, that's what it felt like everyone was thinking. We were in line, so it was just awkward to leave because, realistically, we'd either have to wait in line all over again, or if we left, I wasn't sure when or if we'd ever want to go back. We were there and I wanted to get it done. He'd been so good for his haircut that I had been optimistic, but no. Not good. He also ran away a lot, and as a result, I had to make good on my threat to skip the hockey game. He was acting horribly, and I wasn't going to take him there like that even if I knew he'd probably be an angel once we were there. Now he has to wait another two weeks before we can go to a game. Hopefully he understands why we didn't go. I did explain it to him and he was even mentioning it when he was talking on his toy cell phone (to Daddy, maybe?) and to the doctor this morning. Lovely. Hopefully it sinks in. I doubt it, since he was running away and acting crazy at the doctor's this morning, too, even after I reminded him about last night.

Regardless, I pushed through and we got five books. Two are "Llama Llama" books that Jacob loves. He can recite whole parts of them perfectly. One of them, "Llama Llama Mad at Mama" seems to be a particular favorite. I don't know if it's because he relates to it (you know, being trapped on errand runs with me), or if he just likes the visual of a cranky llama throwing Cheezee Puffs on the floor of the Shop-O-Rama. I also got two Dr. Seuss books--Horton Hears a Who and one about a moose. I wanted to get the classics (Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) but couldn't find them. The library seems to have a lot of special displays (by character, themes, holidays) so maybe they were there. Needless to say I wasn't high on patience to search. I also got The Runaway Bunny, by the people who did Goodnight Moon and My World, both of which Jacob enjoys. I really want him to grasp the central concept of the book that no matter how much he tries to run away, I will always catch him, so he might as well just stay with me instead, but I think it might still be a little beyond his comprehension. He seemed to like it, though, so we'll see. As a whole I really like the concept of the library. More variety to our evening reading, an encouragement to love books, and an opportunity to "test drive" any I think we might like. I tend to forget how much I loved the library as a kid, and I want to instill that in Jacob as well. The sheer volume of books is a little overwhelming, and I'm a little annoyed that our library isn't exactly close--at least a good 10 minute drive. I was spoiled as a kid, having it within easy bike riding distance and on my way home from school, but if we end up sending Jacob to the Christian elementary school I'd like to send him to, it's a very quick drive from there. That's still a while away, though, so for now I just need to force myself to make it a priority...and get the books back on time!

One last thing for today. I mentioned earlier that we went to the doctor this morning. It was for his now-bi-annual visit to the pediatric pulmonary specialist. We hadn't been there in six months and we won't have to go back for another six. She's feeling confident that the reflux symptoms aren't an issue anymore and he's just dealing with normal kid sickness issues now, but he's going to stick with his current meds until we get through cold season. It's ok, because he takes them easily and they're currently free. Still, she noticed that his ears were looking iffy, so we're on to another round of antibiotics. We'll have to follow up with his pediatrician in a couple weeks to make sure it's gone, and there's still a chance that he'll end up with tubes. We'd done so well for so long, but now he's had three ear infections within a few months. He really does seem to get a perma-cold this time of year, with a consistent runny nose and a bit of a cough. When he's truly sick the cough gets painfully worse and the nose runs constantly, but it's tough to notice when one cold ends and another begins, or when another ear infection takes over. Jacob isn't easily affected by all of this (thank God), but it always makes me feel horrible when he gets another diagnosis that we had no idea about. It seems like something is constantly draining, which is why the perma-cold never seems to go away. Hopefully someday we'll get it worked out and he'll just be a normal kid.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Update

Despite it being a busy and rather quick week, I don't have a lot to report. On Tuesday night we headed to Buffalo for Election night, as Craig's brother was running for state assembly. We dropped Jacob off at my parents, then headed to the southtowns to cheer him on. Jacob had a hard time letting go--lots of crying and screaming and reaching out--but was fine once we were gone, as usual. Unfortunately, Craig's brother didn't win. Definitely a loss for the voters, in my opinion...and that's coming from a Republican talking about a Democrat :) We slept at Craig's parents' that night, and headed out around 10am to retrieve Jacob. After lunch with my parents and a little playtime, we headed back to Rochester to enjoy the rest of our day off. Jacob and I went out after dinner to buy him a new coat, and it went surprisingly well. His teachers at daycare requested a heavier jacket than the fleecy one he's been wearing (the same style in a bigger size of what he wore all last winter) because they go outside to play, even on cold days, and he was chilly last week. We made a couple stops at the mall, tried on a couple coats, and Jacob only ran away once while he was out of the stroller. I'll take it. While I'm not excited about spending $30 on a coat for him knowing that he's got a full snowsuit waiting in the wings, at least I won't have to feel guilty or wonder if he's cold when we're running errands. And the bonus? He looks incredibly cute in it.

Yesterday Jacob got to go to the Strong Museum of Play on a field trip. His daycare has a membership so it's a freebie for us. I looked out my office window longingly, hoping to catch a glimpse of their bus. I can see part of the museum (not the cool part, unfortunately) and part of the parking lot from my desk, and I felt a little bummed that I wasn't there to see him enjoy it. I hope to go on a field trip or two next year, when I pick up an extra week of vacation upon my fifth anniversary at my job. This year, especially with the move, my vacation days are just too tight. Of course, knowing how stressful our last trip there was, I suppose it's not a bad thing to let other people take him for now! We'll undoubtedly try again one of these days now that he's past the two-year-old threshold that seemed to make all the difference for many other people. I can't believe he wasn't even two the last time we went there! This year has officially flown.

Tonight my college roommate Mary is coming into town to go to another concert (one we found about about at the last concert we went to last month). Child care didn't work out quite as well this time, so Jacob is coming with us. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or bad thing that it's a standing show with some bleacher seating. On the bright side, we're not hemmed into one little theater seat where he can get antsy. On the not-so-bright side, there may be room to run (read: be hyper and potentially get lost), and his attention may not be captured quite as effectively if we had, say, fantastic seats like at the last show. I think he might be at least vaguely interested in what he'll see and hear, though I am concerned about the noise level. I'm also concerned about the process of getting into the venue (the last time I went to a concert like this there, we were stuck in line outside in this exact same weather--cold and rainy) and not melting or collapsing once we're inside as a result of wearing or carrying winter coats. I'm also a bit concerned I'll be spending more time chasing Jacob and playing hockey in a dark corner than listening to the music and hanging out with Mary, but I really do want to go to this show for a number of reasons. One, I've heard of and generally enjoy all three bands, even if I don't own any of their CDs and might not even be able to identify them if I heard them on the radio. While I love Christian music, the one good station we have here in town is a bit repetitive, so inevitably I end up listening to my CDs more than anything...which makes it a little hard to find new bands whose CDs I'd like to buy. However, I've enjoyed Sanctus Real (the headline act) for years and have always been looking for an excuse to buy their stuff--usually I either get one CD as a gift and decide I need to hear more, or I go to a concert like this one. Maybe this concert will do it. Second, the lead singer of Sanctus Real is the guy I mentioned a few weeks ago that blogs about his baby boy and his congential heart defect. Now that I know a bit about him, I really want to hear him sing and even discuss what he's been through in the past few months. And I suppose if he discusses that stuff, that any stress I have from chasing after Jacob will pale in comparison, eh? I really want to go and while I'm hoping Jacob will get in his "zone" that he gets into when we go to sporting events (or the circus), I'm still preparing myself for a decent dose of stress in trying to contain him. The website said the concert is two hours, so hopefully I can manage.

Tomorrow is up in the air, which isn't a bad thing. Craig is off, and I don't think Mary's staying long because she's got report cards to do and horse racing to watch (though I did invite her to camp out in the basement family room where we'll leave her alone), so I guess we'll see how the day goes. Sunday is another hockey game, and since Jacob has been waiting (somewhat) patiently for two weeks, we'll be going. He's usually pretty well-behaved at hockey games, though I know one of these times I'll have to let him play hockey with all the other little kids and their ministicks. I'm not sure how that will go. He's a bit younger than most of them, but then again, the kid's got skills and might surprise them a bit. However, he's also too young to understand about not hogging the puck and playing well with others, so that concerns me a bit. Maybe I should just let him and see how it goes. If he hates it, he won't want to go back. If he loves it, it's only for 15 minutes each intermission, right?

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Treats Conundrum

I'm not sure what to do about Jacob's Halloween candy. He's got a bunch of it, a full pumpkin worth of snacks. Fruit snacks, candy bars, Sweet Tarts, and more, all waiting for him to eat it. Obviously I don't want him filling up on crap. He had one candy bar the other night and was a hyper mess (but as I mentioned, part of that might have been his super-nap earlier in the day). If he eats his dinner reasonably well, I don't have a problem with giving him a piece of candy. We're getting dangerously close to bedtime, though, so it's still a risk. And at this rate, with one piece of candy per day (if he's lucky--Jacob's not a great eater), he'll be eating Halloween candy at Christmas.

So, do we eat it? I feel bad depriving him of candy he rightfully earned, but at this point he won't really notice. We were sort of planning on eating all of the peanut butter stuff since we haven't tried peanut products with him yet and are nervous about an allergic reaction. However, maybe now's the time to give it a shot and just be ready to head to the emergency room. I'm pretty sure he's ok because we've been around peanuts before, primarily at baseball games, and he's been fine. But you just never know, especially since his cousin has an allergy. Still, I'd really love to add peanut butter sandwiches to his list of available foods. Buuuuut......I'd also really like to eat that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, too.

I also have a little guilt about knowingly feeding him food that has absolutely no nutritional value. I know he's a kid and it happens. And I know that I probably assign value to other crap foods in hopes he's getting some benefit from the few things he will routinely eat...like the calcium in pizza cheese or the protein in chicken nuggets. Heck, during the winter I often give him canned fruit for dessert, just because it's fruit. But did you know there's very little nutritional value in that stuff? I did notice that pineapple and mandarin oranges maintain a good serving of vitamin C, but that's about it. But it's fruit, right? Well, fruit devoid of nutrients and laced with BPA from the can lining. Ugh. He'll sometimes eat an apple, and he really liked clementines last year so I think we'll do well with those and oranges, but still...I try to make sure that nearly everything he eats has some sort of positive. Other than enhancing his childhood experience, candy's got nothing. I don't want to deprive him of the cool things I enjoyed as a kid--candy, sugar cereals, Kool-Aid, soda pop, Twinkies, etc.--but I tend to think we know more now about nutrition and the effects of bad eating than we did when I was a kid. Every food has very clear labeling and there's so much more education out there. While I don't want to deprive him of fun treats, I feel like a bad mom encouraging him to eat crap. I know it's not good for him and I don't want to set him up for bad habits. We should all probably give up junk food to set a good example, but heck, the mere fact that I can't fathom giving it up after eating it my whole life shows that it's a tough habit to break, and if possible, we should prevent it from ever starting.

But inevitably he'll run into bad foods in one place or another, so instead of depriving him and having him gorge later, I suppose the answer to this is the same as with most things--moderation. Let him be a kid and have some candy, but teach him to moderate himself. A couple pieces at a time, at most. That still leaves us with the issue of eating candy until Christmas, but perhaps it will teach us willpower, right?