Monday, January 31, 2011

Losing It

I had an entirely different post ready to go earlier today, but the events that took place at the end of the day today pre-empted that. It's been a rough few hours. This morning when I took Jacob into daycare, they expressed concern that a cold sore he'd had since last week looked considerably worse and crusty today, enough so that they thought he had impetigo. They called and reiterated their concern this afternoon, and I finally called the doctor and got an appointment. Of course, he'd just been there last Thursday, when Craig took him in to get a quick check. There was strep running through his class, and between his healing leg, the cold sore, and some other circumstantial evidence (like being quiet during the day), we figured it was worth a check. Well, I guess they didn't see anything amiss, because they didn't even do a strep test. Today we went in, and I suffered through a rough start to our wait (Jacob was in a hitting mood), a half hour in the very busy waiting room, and a return to his nastiness when we finally got in to see the doc. She didn't think the cold sore was impetigo, though she did decide to do a strep test, just in case. When she came back in the room, she said it was negative. As we chatted a bit about the cold sore, she looked down at the vial in her hand, and said, "Oh, look at that...it's positive!" It literally turned while she was standing there. So Jacob has strep. It only took about three tries, maybe four...and this time that wasn't even why we went there!

I guess I'll mention here that Craig came home early today after getting a sore throat last night. He's feeling horrible, and then later this afternoon I noticed that I had a headache and just started feeling a little foggy. I had a vague discomfort in my throat, but I couldn't figure out if it was a true sore throat or if it was just a cut or sore in my mouth making things uncomfortable. I'm still not sure...but I'm concerned that Tylenol isn't really putting a dent in the headache. We'll see how I feel by tomorrow. Craig is probably going to stay home again with Jacob tomorrow for his first day on antibiotics, but this whole week could be a lost cause. Between Jacob's health, Craig's health, my health, and the snowstorm that's predicted for tomorrow into Wednesday, it could be a rough one work-wise.

So, by the time we were done at the doctor, it was shortly before 7pm. My headache was bothering me, I had to pee, Jacob was being awful again, it was way past dinner time, and we still had to survive a trip to Wegmans to get his antibiotics. UGH. I had a few things to get while we waited, and as we shopped it seemed to me that Jacob was getting tired. I asked him if he was tired, and he said no, and literally 15 seconds later his eyes were drooping and his head was bobbing. He rested his head on his arm on the cart handle and slept through the last 15 minutes in the store. Thank God. We both needed that. But as I was standing in one of the many long lines waiting to check out, I nearly lost it. I was so uncomfortable, so tired, so frustrated, and the long line was just one more barrier to just getting home. And I still had to figure out dinner. It was one of those moments that, back in the days before I was a mom, I might have just shut down and wanted to cry. But as a parent, you learn that doing stuff like that just won't get you anywhere. You have to be the strong one and push through, because if you don't, nothing will get done and everything will fall apart. It was such a frustrating moment. I hate those moments.

But I pushed through, got home, figured out dinner, and got Jacob into bed. I'm still not feeling great and it could be a rough few days around here, but hopefully I'll find a way to push through once again, and we'll be back to normal soon. Wish us luck...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weekend Stuff

We're into the next phase of Jacob's healing. Thursday night we took off Jacob's bandage. This is what it looked like before. There's a clear plastic bandage completely covering the gauze.
Jacob did not enjoy the removal. It didn't seem quite as adhesive as your typical band-aid (or at least, not so much sticky residue), but it did hurt a bit as I eased it off. The bottm layer of gauze stuck, so we ended up with a square of white woven pieces covering it. Over the course of the next half hour or so, I picked away at it gently, trying to loosen up pieces slowly and painlessly. Finally, I got it all, and it ended up looking like this:

What you see are the steri-strips they told us about. They're basically stuck to his leg and there's a little bit of blood under there. Over the last couple days it's turned blue from his jeans, and eventually it will fall off. We'll have to treat it with neosporin (actually, polysporin) until we go to his followup appointment in another week. So far so good, though. He hasn't expressed too much discomfort, so hopefully this will be a mere blip on the radar.

Last night we headed out to the Amerks game, which ended up being a pretty fun night. It was Hall of Fame night, and two people were honored. Our longtime friend and co-worker, Don Stevens, the Amerks' broadcaster, was inducted, as well as former player Doug Houda. Houda's induction was actually a little funny, because Jacob has been afraid of him for a while. During his playing days his face could have been considered a bit haunting...a little gaunt, missing teeth, etc. He's on an old commercial that still plays on Amerks' broadcasts, and for some reason he creeps Jacob out. The mere mention of him scared Jacob, even though we kept telling him that Doug Houda was a nice guy. He did get to meet him, and even got a signed puck. It was also a bobblehead night, so Jacob had a good time. I enjoyed the night as well, since a lot of familiar faces came for the big night. It was great seeing some old co-workers and being able to stop and chat with a bunch of people for the first time in a while. Over the five years since I left, the number of people I recognize has decreased considerably. But last night there were a lot of people I knew, and the nearly full stands were more reminiscent of the old days. Almost felt like home again.

This morning I was determined to go to the zoo. Jacob had mentioned it the other day, and I thought it was a good idea since we hadn't been there in a while and had never been there in the cold. It was also the one orangutan's birthday, so I thought it might be a fun day to go. Craig had to work, so I thought it would be a good way to spend the morning. The weather was also cooperative, light flurries with temps around 30. Pleasant enough! We bundled up and headed out. It was a little hard pushing the stroller through some of the slush and snow, but the lack of people made up for it and it was a nice visit. All of the docents were out and eager to share information about the animals. The monkey cages were full of celebratory stuff like crepe paper, and Jacob got to "sign" a poster for Datu. I only took a couple pictures, but here are my two favorites--one of the sea lion, who was barking up a storm, and another of a golden lion tamarin.
Jacob was really good and seemed content to stay in his stroller most of the time. He was really afraid of the snakes this time, which was unfortunate because there was actually something interesting going on with them today. One of the big snakes (HUGE) had shed a ridiculous amount of skin, which even I found fascinating. Jacob wouldn't even look. Same with a smaller snake in another building. The polar bears were out, the sea lions were active, the otters weren't out (again), and the monkeys were fun to watch. One of the exotic birds in the open air aviary was loudly flying back and forth. There was a lot to see! He fell asleep minutes after leaving and did put up a bit of a fight later on for his real nap (always does when he gets a catnap), but overall it's been a good day. We're headed out shortly to the Knighthawks game and I'm guessing it will be an early night based on today's napping schedule. Still, it's been a good day. Craig's off tomorrow and we can't wait!

Have a nice weekend!








Thursday, January 27, 2011

How to Make an Incompetent Mommy

There is one activity that inevitably makes me feel like an incompetent and inadequate mother. Every. Single. Time. What, you ask? Two words--Grocery Shopping. For so many reasons, grocery shopping is starting to make me crazy. A few years ago, I liked grocery shopping. Back when I was first on my own, grocery shopping was fun and exciting. Even if my normal menu wasn't exciting, it always had the potential to be. I could buy what I wanted, cook what I wanted, and experiment on myself without fear. I was less concerned about purely healthy foods and just made what made sense for me. Once I was cooking for two, it became a little more complicated. Craig doesn't like a lot of vegetables, which takes away some options for stir-fries and things like that. We can only eat so much broccoli and corn, you know? But still, I think over the past nine-plus years that we've been together we've managed to eat relatively well. Lacking in vegetables and stuff, but the food has been good and relatively healthy.

Once Jacob started eating real food, I got a little crazy. I didn't want to put any crap into his perfect little body, so I tried to avoid junk food. I tried to keep things as simple as possible. But I've slacked over time...not badly, but more than I would like. I read things here and there about stuff that people feed their kids. One blogger in particular gives her kid everything...to the point that I can't even believe he'll eat it. Sardines?! Yeah. I've always tried offering Jacob whatever we're eating, but even the most simple stuff he won't touch...hamburger, potatoes, pierogies, even chicken at times. He'll usually eat broccoli or corn like his father, and actually likes tomatoes, too, but he's so hit and miss on things that it's hard to know what's going to work-for me, for him, or for Craig. Jacob's menu usually floats between PB&J, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, spaghetti, noodles, cheese, and assorted fruit and snacks. It's ok and probably better than some kids, but it's just not that wholesome. I'm running out of ideas.

So why does shopping turn me into an incompetent mother? Well, it's a two-pronged problem. On one hand, I wander around the store wishing I could try new things, but knowing that the two picky eaters in the house won't go for it. I wander past the produce, longing to eat the vegetables. I stare down the meat, but don't know how to cook it. All the while, I'm looking at an eternal supply of processed foods. I pass by the worst of them without a problem, but usually end up settling on a few of them that make my life easier...pasta side dishes, frozen veggies with light sauces, frozen meals for lunch and dinner, pre-cooked chicken strips, and other similar products. I can't afford organic, and am more confused than ever when it comes to the pros and cons of reduced fat/sugar/calorie products that might make me skinny on one hand but screw me up in a different way with chemicals or unnatural additives. I feel like I'm feeding Jacob a bunch of crap, and I'm not doing Craig or myself any favors with our weight loss goals. It could be worse, but each trip to the store is a grim reminder that it's not as good as it should be.

On the other hand, going to the store with Jacob is almost always a disaster. He used to be really great at the store. He'd sit in the cart contentedly, enjoying the ride. Now he screams, sings loudly, kicks off his shoes, hits me, kicks me, tries to suck on the shopping cart, grabs things on the shelves, and begs to get down, go home, get a drink, etc. I've decided that I need to stop letting him have his free Wegmans Kids' Club cookie when we go, because it seems he's that much worse when he eats one. Instead I'll listen to him complain that he wants one, but it's worth a shot. And when he's so out of control, what recourse do I have? If I'm there in the first place I'm most likely in no position to walk out of the store like the experts suggest. I'm not going to spank him in the middle of the store, and there's really no way to do a timeout. Threatening to take away toys at home doesn't work. I can't yell. As a result I have to stay relatively calm, which you'd think would keep him calm, but no such luck. It's brutal.

Last night was a prime example. Often we have to go grocery shopping on our way home from daycare pickup, and it always leads to a later dinner. Still, Jacob isn't a generally hungry kid, so that usually isn't a problem. But inevitably he turns into the most frustrating shopping partner, and we're usually there far longer than I'd like to be, partly because I'm spending time putting Jacob's boots back on for the third time or running back to move the cart before he grabs something from the shelves. I have to shush his screams or take extra time to read labels because he breaks my concentration. People probably watch me try to control him and just shake their heads. I feel like I have no control, and it turns me into someone I don't even like. It just bugs me to no end. We need to be there, and I've always been trying to get Jacob used to mundane tasks like that so he can do them without incident. But almost every time, it's a mess.

I wish this post had a happy ending with lists of new foods we can try or new tactics for controlling him, but right now I don't have that. I can hope that the cookie is the difference, but that's unfortunate in and of itself. What more can I do? Try, try again.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Photography

So, a couple months ago I walked into daycare and there were pictures of kids all over the front bulletin boards. I scanned them and finally found the most adorable picture of Jacob...one like I had been wanting to catch for a couple years now. Alas, we have very few leaves in our yard now so who knows when I'll personally grab one like this! As Christmas approached, the pictures were taken down and I wondered what became of the photo. But it finally showed up in Jacob's mailbox sometime around Christmas. I was pretty psyched.

And now, thanks to a computer equipment free-for-all at work, I now have a scanner with which to scan it. I'm pretty excited about that, because just the other night I was thinking about the cool pictures I have from about 15 years of using a film camera that haven't had the chance to be part of my digital frame slideshows or used as my wallpaper.

Obviously most of them are so far removed from the focus of this blog that I don't think it will enhance this space very much, but sometimes it is fun to reminisce about the cool things I did do before getting married and/or having a child. With Jacob as my main focus most of the time, I tend to forget that life before him had some great moments too. Even before Craig, for that matter. Last week I was thinking about the trip I took to Quebec City 15 years ago. It took place on MLK weekend, and in the midst of the brutal cold we happened to have on MLK day this year, it took me back to that amazing trip--three whole days in the French Canadian world I had craved to experience. And when I was thinking about it last week, I wished I had a scanner to scan more than the one or two pictures I scanned years ago for my now-defunct website. At my old job, the Amerks' office scanner lived under my desk and I scanned quite a few pics back in the day, but in the five years since (and yes, the majority of that time I've owned a digital camera so it hasn't mattered), I haven't had access to one and therefore many of my older pictures sit forgotten. But literally a day or two after wishing I had one, the email went out that some old equipment in my office was free for the taking, and voila...we have a scanner.

That said, I still believe wholeheartedly in my hard-copy photo albums. I love looking through old albums--my own and others'--and think it's sad that they're going the way of the dinosaurs. I just feel like there's more permanence, and the quality of the content of those pictures isn't as diluted by random stuff as what comes from us snap-happy digital photographers these days. It had to be special to expend one of those 24 exposures on it. We just had to hope we got a good shot. That said, I do like that I can capture the perfect photo and lots of background detail-type photos with my digital camera without wasting film or spending another $10 on another roll and the developing. I love that I can print four times as many pictures for the same price now, and take dozens more at no additional cost. I wouldn't change a thing about the digital era. But there's something special about those old pictures and I hope someday Jacob can enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed my parents' old albums.

However, I do know the reality. He'll have more opportunity to see digital shots than anything else, and I think that's why having the scanner will be great. I can scan some of my favorite shots and have them available for him to see among all of our newer pictures. We did have a life in pictures prior to August of 2006, and I want to make sure it's well-represented in the ones I browse through periodically. Still, it's amazing to think that Jacob will never live in a world of film cameras, where we had to wait days or weeks (or months!) to see how a picture turned out, where printed photos and albums will be scarce, and where nearly every significant moment of his life will be well-documented. Amazing how times have changed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Photo Tuesday

Just a few miscellaneous pictures from the past few days. Here's a cute one from Sunday morning, when Jacob woke up in the crib at my parents' house and took off his pajamas while I was getting ready. And then he made them into a "hat".

This is an igloo Jacob made at daycare. It's made out of a styrofoam cup, shaving cream, marshmallows and sugar cubes. Interesting. Even more interesting is that the shaving cream is still soft, but with a rubbery film on the outside so it doesn't get all over. I keep wondering what will happen to it if we let it sit out long enough.

The other night I made Jacob a potty chart. I decided that I'd see if stickers were enough of a lure to get him to start using the potty again. He had pretty much totally given it up at home, and I don't really want to push it for fear he'll really rebel against it. But he likes the thought of stickers, and Sunday night he earned three! Then last night he earned two! He gets one for telling us he has to go (but only if he actually goes), another for peeing, another for poop, and then one for pulling his pants on and off and another for wiping himself. Those last two will come later. I slipped the paper into a plastic sleeve and hung it up with suction cups (thanks Mom!)...easy to access and keep clean! But I think it turned out cute. If he fills in all the squares in a category, he'll get a yet-to-be-determined treat. The stickers are mostly sports-related (shocker) but eventually we'll have to dig into the cars and trucks, too...or maybe a miracle will happen and he'll get pottytrained before then! When I took the picture he had three basketballs, a baseball, a tennis ball, and a catcher's mask. Then last night he added a pool ball and another different kind of basketball. I think two poops in two days constitutes some sort of victory, but I do worry about burning out the fun of it before he's truly ready to train. With a house full of carpets I refuse to do naked training, at least until summer, and he still seems to have a mental block on why all of this matters. If he CAN poop on the potty and likes the attention and stickers that come with it, why hide in the corner to do it? Even last night I happened to catch him early in the poop when I heard grunting. He did have a rabbit turd-sized poop in his diaper when we took it off, but he put considerably more than that into the potty. So the question remains of why he refuses to use the potty more on his own, at least not consistently, when he wants to wear big boy underwear and get stickers. I do explain to him that it's hard work and he needs to earn those privileges, so hopefully like everything else, one day it will sink in. I've said for a while that I wouldn't start panicking until he was three and wasn't showing much interest, but it occurred to me this morning that he's past the two and a half mark, so three isn't that far away. Yikes!

And now for the surgery series...here's Jacob's leg pre-surgery. You can see the mole very well here.

Here he is before he went in, wearing his gown and being silly. He was trying to play baseball in this tiny space. He got his relaxation medicine and ended up stumbling backward into the wall shortly after this, at which point we tried to keep him in bed. He almost fell out right before he went in. He was all relaxed and had just watched his favorite Elmo clip on YouTube, and I got up to put away the computer and clear the rest of the miscellaneous stuff off the bed, and apparently he decided he wanted to get up. Craig caught him before he hit the floor. Thank God. Crazy kid.
Here he is being a big boy at home, sitting on the couch by himself with his juice and snack, animals at his side, watching a movie. Cute kid.


We ended up having a pretty pleasant day. We watched a couple movies (one exclusively for Jacob, the other enjoyable for all of us--"Miracle", about the 1980 US Olympic team), Jacob took a decent nap (and so did Craig and I, at different times), and we just sort of hung out, ate a couple meals at home, and played (Craig and I on our computers, and Jacob with his hockey guys and sports stuff). He only complained about his leg once, around dinner time and long after his initial pain meds would have worn off. I have continued to give him some pain medication ever since, just in case. He might say his leg isn't bothering him, but anything with kids can change in an instant. And if he's stuck at daycare all day, I'd rather prevent any issues. I have a feeling MY leg would be bothering me if I had something like that done, let alone his as he runs laps back and forth across the living room. I'll probably continue through the night tonight and stop tomorrow morning.

I'm already not looking forward to pulling the outside bandage off on Thursday, but I am quite curious to see what everything looks like under there. I'll try to post pics of the bandaging and scar at some point. Regardless of the scar, I'd have to think it will look considerably less menacing than that mole. I suppose I'm extra sensitive about moles in general, since I've been self-conscious about them. I have one between my mouth and my nose, as well as one on my wrist that I've spent the last 20 or so years covering up with a watch. I used to get a lot of questions from friends about the one on my wrist, as it is pretty large, and the one on my face has always been an issue for me--so much so that I had it airbrushed out of my high school senior pictures. However, I never got up the guts to have either of them removed. Sometimes I wonder what the point is, now that I'm past the teasing phase and have a husband who readily married me as is, but there are days that I wonder if a tiny scar would be preferable to what's currently on my face, as I sometimes think it makes me asymmetrical and can be generally distracting. But at this point in my life, would taking it off make me less "me"? Hard to say. I do wonder sometimes if I'd feel more attractive without it, though. But all that said, I'm happy Jacob's is gone since he won't have to worry about it at all, ever. That's not to say more won't show up, but for now, it's an issue he'll never have to deal with. His situation was more about health than vanity, of course, but it's a nice bonus that we won't have to look at it anymore and wonder.

And off we go on another week...and another busy weekend for Craig, though only two games this weekend instead of three and/or a road trip. Better than nothing :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Surgery

Well, he's in and we're waiting. And I'm sure this post will be interrupted by having to go back in to see him. So far it's been an ok morning. Early, for sure, though we did go to bed at a reasonable time. It was ridiculously cold this morning, probably right around zero when we left the house. A lot of the schools are closed today due to low wind chills. Jacob had a tough time waking up, but was in a good enough mood. He would have much rather stayed home and played with his hockey guys, but no such luck. We got up and out of the house by 6:50, and here by a couple minutes after our 7:15 check-in time. We got in, waited a couple minutes in the waiting room (during which I figured out the wireless--I love the URMC wireless. I'm not sure I would have survived the week after Jacob was born without it), and then were ushered back to a stall with his bed. He got some trucks, put up a major fuss getting into his gown ("My pants! "My shoes!" "I want to wear my baseball shirt!"), and then we just hung out for a while. He was very squirmy and didn't really want to hang out in the bed. He was hyper enough that they gave him some pink medicine to dope him up a bit. It made him tired and a little clumsy, and took the edge off enough that he didn't freak out when he was wheeled away. Maybe I could have used some of that. No tears, but I feel like I'm on the verge. And the longer we wait here, the more nervous I'm going to get. It's only a short procedure, after all.

Ok, and just on cue, the surgeon came out. He was fine, no surprises. We'll get to go in and see him shortly.

Anyway, he got to pick one animal to take with him, and he picked "Mommy's Moose"--my moose, Loosey Moosey (LooMoo for short), that Craig gave me when I got my wisdom teeth out. Although I was hesitant, I decided it was appropriate. After all, he was my comfort when I wasn't feeling great, and now he could be Jacob's. And a little piece of me could go into the OR with him. It was hard to see him wheeled away, and while it was good that he was doped up enough to not cry, that made it hard in another way. He helplessly watched us as he was wheeled away.

Now I'm starting to wonder why they're not calling us in to see him. It was only supposed to be a few minutes, and now it's been about 10. I'm sure it's fine, but it's just a little added nervousness to an already nerve-wracking situation. They said that the drug they gave him might make him come out of the anethesia slower, which is always scary. Sitting out here makes me wonder if it's taking considerably longer than they hoped. And more than anything, I'd hate for him to wake up without us. But here we sit.

So, it took a lot longer than we expected, but we finally got in. It's now 11:30 and we're home. He took extra long to wake up from the anesthesia, which I guess is normal with the stuff they gave him before they put him out. I guess he got really relaxed! Probably needed some extra sleep after his early morning, too :) He was fine when we went in, tired but calm. He got a little less calm once we started trying to get his coat on, and he freaked out most of the way home about one thing or another. But after another freakout once we got here, he's been fine. We put on a movie, got him some juice and a snack, and he had the couch all to himself for quite a while. Craig has joined him now, and he seems normal. His leg may still be a little numb, but he's walking okay considering he's got a gouge out of his leg. It's all bandaged up and will stay that way for another three days, and then the bandages underneath will fall off on their own. We'll treat it with Neosporin after that, and go in for a follow-up in two weeks. I'm sure we'll find out the results of the labwork then, which will hopefully show no sign of irregular cells.

Well, all is back to normal, as Jacob is now swinging his mini-bat and running up and down the living room. Seriously?! Only Jacob. Perhaps the hardest part of this is going to be keeping him from running himself ragged. And that is a fantastic problem to have.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fear

So, as I mentioned, Monday is Jacob's mole removal surgery. As you may recall, about a year ago I noticed a speck on Jacob's leg. It literally looked like a speck of dirt, but it didn't come off. It grew, slowly at first but then much more quickly. It was very dark in color, and within a few months it was the size of an average mole...the head of a pin, perhaps. By the time we went in for his two-year well visit, it was getting disturbingly large. The doctor suggested going to see a dermatologist, just because of Jacob's age and how quickly it was growing. I think I waited a bit to call, but once I did we got in relatively quickly. The doctor looked at it for a couple minutes, measured it (5mm), and deduced that it would need to be taken off. The type of mole it is means that it's dark and grows quickly, and while it's uncommon, they can be cancerous. So, in a case like Jacob's, they prefer to take them off before they get to be trouble--either too big, cancerous, etc. For most normal adults, they're not that serious--just a quick removal in the doctor's office. But because Jacob is a squirmy toddler, they will need to put him under. It won't take long, just 15 minutes, but he'll be out, they'll do their thing, and I think there will be stitches, too. We had to make an appointment with the plastic surgeon, and it took months to get in there. And then I didn't want to plan a surgery in the middle of December, so we pushed it off until now. And now the day is looming and I am nervous.

I'm nervous about the practical stuff, for starters. It's an early morning, and Jacob can't eat or drink beforehand. We'll probably have a lot of time to kill once we're there, and I have no idea how much time we'll be able to spend with Jacob, how we'll keep him occupied, or how we'll ward of his hunger pangs without ending up with a seriously cranky/hysterical toddler. Between the early morning, the lack of breakfast or beverage, and being in a strange place where he might eventually be separated from us, it seems like a bad combo. Jacob can be the most awesome little boy, but when a perfect storm like that occurs, he can be impossible to reason with. He seemed to have had a few of those meltdowns this weekend, so I think I have reason to be nervous on that front.

As far as the surgery itself, I know that it will most likely go smoothly and be a non-event. Best case scenario it will go perfectly and we'll have the whole rest of the day to spend with our happy little boy, doing something fun to reward him for his bravery. But all those fears lurk in the background. You hear all the horror stories about anesthesia, howyou never know how someone will respond to it, or how kids are monsters when they come out of it. I wonder how he'll do with a wound on his leg--will he keep his hands off it? Can we keep it clean? What's the risk of infection? And finally--what if it's cancerous? Even if this removal gets rid of all of it, does that mean we'll be on a constant watch for more or have to worry that he's cancer-prone?

An even though every bit of logic dictates that he'll be perfectly fine, as a parent I think it's normal to ponder the worst...to wonder what could happen and how we'd get through it. While Jacob has never been diagnosed with asthma, we've had reasons over the years to believe he might have it at some point. Between his bouts with bronchiolitis, his long-term coughs, Craig's medical history, and our suspicion of allergies (environmental), it wouldn't shock us if he had it. But he's never officially been tested, so it wasn't like we had any concrete reason to put that on any pre-op forms. But what if his current remnants of a cold or some undetected asthma cause an adverse reaction to the anesthesia? It's scary.

This weekend was a bit of a tough one, behavior-wise. I think Jacob's sleep was thrown off by our late departure as we headed off to N.T. on Friday night, and he woke up much earlier than usual on Saturday. He napped fine, but he just seemed off all day. Today wasn't much better, even though he had a pretty good night's sleep. I spent much of the weekend disciplining him, and most of the rest of the weekend watching him play--rather than playing with him (another post for another day)--and the thought kept running through my head..."What if something happens? You're going to regret not spending time with him or enjoying the time you did spend..." and so on. Tonight Craig read to Jacob before bed, and when I came up to tuck him in, they were rocking together on the chair in Jacob's room. I took over and spent a lot of time hugging and rocking Jacob myself. I didn't want to let him go. And since he was hugging me back, it was even harder. I said it on Facebook tonight and I'll say it again here--nothing having to do with your baby is ever "routine". No matter how simple and easy the procedure, you just never know, and any chance that something could happen is just too big to be comfortable. Any risk is risking too much.

I know that Jacob will experience some pain in this process, most likely post-surgery. I'm worried there will be some mental anguish, too, particularly if he is separated from us and knows it. Hopefully he's not scared when he wakes up, and I pray he doesn't associate us with the pain, wondering why we let him go through something like that. You just don't want this to be some sort of turning point--the moment when everything changed, regardless of the reason. Lots of prayers going up tonight, that's for sure. Wish us luck and send up a prayer or two...thanks :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mid-Weekend Update (aka Loving my Netbook!)

Another week is over. It was a tiring week, for no apparent reason. I fell asleep before 10pm on Wednesday, worked out a couple evenings, and...yeah, not too much to report. Jacob seemed to have a pretty good week at daycare, and even got to stay home with Craig on Wednesday for a Daddy-Jacob day. I think Craig is going through Jacob withdrawl now that he's working pretty much all weekend every weekend. Hard to believe it's going to be that way until the end of April. Ugh. This weekend he's in Boston so Jacob and I finally took our long awaited trip to my parents' house. As you may recall, we were going to come in on New Year's Day, but I wasn't feeling well. The next weekend Jacob had a fever, and then last weekend we just decided to stay home and go to the Knighthawks's home opener. My parents came to visit us for that, which was great. But with so many weekends with just the two of us, it's nice to get a change of scenery, have some different eating options (I get in ruts because Jacob will only eat so many things--he's more adventurous in other settings), and have the option to have someone else hang out with Jacob for a bit. I also feel like I'm less likely to spend my day running around the house being busy, so I can enjoy Jacob a little more...and if I could put down my computer, probably play with him a little more. Once I get my creative juices satisfied with a post like this, it will be much easier. :)

I did want to share a couple pictures from last weekend. Here's Jacob being a goalie, and it's appropriate considering the shirt he's wearing. It is a souvenir from Craig's last road trip, a Minnesota Wild shirt with a goalie body. When Jacob saw it, he said, "He doesn't have a head!"

After that, he started running around in my new sneakers. And here I thought only girls did that with their mom's shoes. He was pretty clumsy in those big shoes, but it was funny.
And you can see in the back our new toy shelf. The corner is still messy, but at least it looks like we're making an attempt. We really need to just cut down or move stuff to different places in the house. I like it, though. I like having a place where Jacob's sports ball collection can go every night.

Monday is Jacob's mole removal. It's going to be an early morning and I'm getting more nervous by the minute, but I suppose that's enough angst for another blog post. Have a nice weekend in the meantime...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

As time goes by...

It never ceases to amaze me how time passes and things change. Yesterday I went out to lunch with a couple former co-workers. Craig couldn't make it, but the three of us had a nice time. It's an annual thing (yes, for MLK day...long story), and I've really begun to look forward to it each year. If nothing else, it's just another excuse to swap stories from our crazy days with the Amerks. For all the bad things that come with working in sports, there were a lot of crazy, amazing, fun moments that I will cherish (and laugh about) for the rest of my life. It was definitely a different time for all of us, though my two dining companions are actually both still single...but they've both moved on to different jobs and different phases of their lives. And obviously, so have I. But working in sports creates unique relationships, and we settled right back in to a pleasant meal...without the frustrations we might have had with each other back in our days as co-workers. It was nice. Near the end of the lunch we marveled at how things have changed. People have moved on, gotten married, and had kids...even some of the wildest among us. Girls I never thought I'd see settle down now have kids, and there are even a couple guys who married into instant fatherhood. I think it's pretty crazy to think back on the old days and contrast them to now. I know that time goes on and things change, but I can't help but think about what our old selves would think of our current selves. Happy that we ended up with lives outside of work and the bar? Upset that there's a bit less fun now? Relieved that we get decent paychecks now? I wonder. Still, I'm grateful for the good times we had, and even for the bad times, since I know now how nice it is to work a normal job and have weekends off.

The other night a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of a group of my friends (and me) at a high school winter dance. There was a long list of comments from all of us over the course of the next day or so, pondering the circumstances surrounding the picture and marveling that we're all still friends--not close, mind you, but friendly enough to share witty banter over a picture on Facebook. We're all in different parts of our lives now--one of us with three kids, another a recent first-time father, one still a newlywed, one who moved across the country and back, another a completely different person than he was back then--and yet we could still bond over a picture that's from half a lifetime ago. Ahhh, technology....and the wisdom that comes with age.

Periodically I look back in the blog and read where I was a year (or two or three) ago. I generally enjoy looking back at pregnancy and early baby days the most, but I think I'm acquiring a greater appreciation of the last year or so as well. I just read back last year at this time, and all the words that Jacob was saying back then, the things he was doing, and it's neat to see where he is now. The stuff he was doing a year ago was the foundation of everything he's doing now--his first few words, his constant sports-playing--and he's just elaborated on that ever since. Of course, he'd just done his one and only crib jump, which had me panicked. He was finally settling in at his new daycare, and I was excited that he seemed to be learning a lot. Last year at this time we were also close to selling our house and buying the one we're in now, which was a boatload of stress as well. Two years ago he was close to getting teeth but was still miserably sick from his second bout of bronchiolitis and his eternal cough. That was a hard time. We were finally settling into parenthood a little more comfortably, but I was worried about solid foods and all of the changes he was slowly moving into. Three years ago I was in a strange period of pregnancy...pre-baby belly, post-first trimester...feeling better but not great, wondering what to wear, when things would start feeling more real, and cautiously starting the planning process. What a time that was.

And now here we are three years later...two and a half year old little boy, new house, different challenges, altered plans for the future. And three years down the road things will be different yet again....hopefully just as happy, if not more so. And no doubt I'll be looking back on these days with this wistful haze, how things were so much simpler. Or maybe we'll be looking back and thinking how crazy we were to live our lives like this...which, let's hope, means that Craig has a better job and/or I'm living the dream as a part time stay-at-home mom. It doesn't hurt to hope, right? Hopefully we're all still in good health, with two happy children, surrounded by happy, healthy family members, still loving our house and living comfortably.

It's scary to think that far ahead, though, which is why it's just smart to focus on today. There's so much to focus on today, and so much to enjoy between now and then. Thinking back to college, I remember looking at the syllabus for each class on the first day of the semester and freaking out about all of the stuff that we were supposed to do in the next 15 weeks. All of the reading assignments, papers and exams seemed overwhelming on day one, and while it wasn't particularly fun to make my way through them all, eventually I did--one thing at a time. And life is the same way. Looking too far ahead makes things overwhelming, so you just deal with everything one day at a time, planning ahead where possible but knowing that in the end you'll get through it somehow. It won't be easy, but time moves along and doesn't give us much choice but to hop along for the ride. Of course, the problem is that all of those todays run together, and suddenly it's weeks, months, or years from now. We get lost in the day-to-day stuff, wish away our work weeks to get to the weekend, and look ahead to big plans down the road...only to realize we've missed some sweet moments in between. I think that's partly why everyone says life really starts going quickly once you have kids. You split your time between attending to present needs and planning for future ones. There's no time for playing spectator, so everything moves faster.

I think that's enough philosophical wanderings for one night, but the passage of time is something I'll probably never get over. Good to know I'll have blog fodder for as long as time moves on...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Random Stuff

1) Have I mentioned that Jacob's nickname at daycare is Ribby? There are two Jacobs in his class, and I guess he ended up with the nickname because calling him by his full name was such a tongue twister? So, the teachers and his friends routinely call him Ribby. It's a little odd but I suppose he's a little young to fit his father's nickname, which was the inspiration for the name of this blog.


2) Jacob's mole removal surgery is on January 24th. We won't know our schedule until Friday. I'm not sure if I should be hoping for an early surgery or a late one. I dread the thought of getting up at the crack of dawn, but things get much more complicated the later the surgery goes because he's not allowed to eat beforehand. The last thing I want to do is sit around waiting with a whining, hungry child. I'll be nervous enough that I'm sure my tolerance will be low. I don't know if we're going to be able to go into surgery with him or not. The instructions indicated no, but they were geared more toward adults and obviously they don't need someone in with them for minor surgery. Kids, however, get scared a lot more easily. One of my toughest moments of parenthood may have been the day Jacob had to get an x-ray to diagnose his reflux, and he had to be in the room alone. They put him in a tube that had holes for his legs at the bottom, to keep him still and positioned for the x-ray, and he just screamed for us the whole time. I'd hate to go through that again, only this time his cries will be quieted as they knock him out. Perhaps my tears will pick up where his left off. I'm nervous about everything--anesthesia, recovery, infection--though I know it should be more or less routine. And most of all, I just hope they're a bunch of harmless cells.

3) Friday night I bought Jacob his first big boy underwear. He's not nearly ready for them, but I'm hoping they might inspire him. They're mostly dark colors (necessary for this stage, I think!) with soccer balls, basketballs, and baseball mitts on the waistbands. I saw them and thought they were perfect. His friends have been doing the big boy underwear thing lately (with mixed success from what I'm hearing in passing during dropoffs), so I figured we'd at least get some and show him that he can wear them too, once he starts using the potty. He has regressed quite a bit, not wanting to use the potty too often. I think he's just too busy to bother. Perhaps I'm hoping the lure of the underwear will encourage him to show us he's ready. I know it'll still be a while since he doesn't wake up from naps or sleep dry, but small steps for now. We tried them on yesterday morning and he seemed to like them ("I'm a big boy!"), but I'm not ready for multiple pants changes. I will be, just not yet. It's definitely something I have to psych myself up for. I'm planning on doing the pull-up over underwear method, which will teach him to feel wet without the mess for me. It'll be pretty yucky if he poops, but I have no doubt we're going to go through plenty of that anyway. It looked funny seeing him in real undies, though! He kept asking for them this weekend, but I kept telling him that he had to use the potty all the time before we could do big boy underwear. Still, that only got us a couple potty uses this weekend, so there's still a disconnect somewhere. I need to get my act together and get a potty chart going for the stickers I bought a while back, and I probably should be a little more diligent about asking him if he needs to use the potty...but I also don't want to push it and have him go even farther the other way, so it's a tough balance.

4) It seems that a nine months has not made a difference in Jacob's lacrosse viewing habits. It's been nine months since his last Knighthawks' game, and he was still pretty much a space cadet at last night's game. He's still quiet at hockey games as well, but he warms up much quicker. If nothing else, he's eager to go play knee hockey with other kids in the concourse at the first intermission, so that snaps him out of his trance pretty quickly. But he was nearly silent for most of the lacrosse game. He talked about wanting to go up and see Craig, and changed the lacrosse stick he was holding a couple times, but other than that, he didn't say much. He just sat on laps (mostly mine, though he did take a couple stops on my parents' laps) and watched. He got extra scared during team introductions--he said later that it was the music--and did his super-cling that he's done before, specifically at the circus and one of the concerts I went to a few months ago. I'm sure during that game he picked up a million new moves that we'll see for weeks to come, but I'm hoping one of these days he will watch games without zoning out and learns how to cheer. Oh, and he did fall asleep during the third quarter and stayed asleep for most of the rest of the game. I don't know how, but he did.

5) Jacob has a ridiculous habit of chewing on his coat. The little corners at the top of the zippers, each with a piece of velcro, have been taking a beating. He sucks or chews on them all the time. His coat is taking a beating. I'm washing it tonight in hopes it will rebound a bit. I'm seriously considering trying to get some of the stuff you use to help kids stop sucking their thumbs and putting it on his coat so it tastes bad. I'm hoping it's not something that would ruin the coat, but at least it's black so I have a shot. Something to think about. In the meantime, the habit is making me nuts. Almost as nuts as his recent whining spells, but not quite :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Losing Sleep

I've said here many times before that child rearing is all about phases. Kids go in and out of phases all the time...and just when you've settled in comfortably or are at the end of your rope, things are bound to change. This is especially true when it comes to sleep. Jacob was fine for months after he started sleeping through the night, and then suddenly he was a mess. Whether it was teething, growth spurts, illnesses, or hitting milestones, I still have no idea. But from everything I hear, everyone seems to have the same trouble with their babies. We've definitely had our ups and downs since then. We'll have periods of rough sleep, periods of good sleep, and back and forth for weeks at a time. And just when we're totally exhausted, he'll start sleeping well again. But up until lately, Jacob had been sleeping rather well and we got spoiled. Of course, in the meantime we were pushing our own boundaries--staying up later than we should, keeping busy during the holidays--and probably not taking great advantage of the good sleep we could be getting. Lately we've both been tired...and then this week hit.

Jacob has been having some sleeping issues. Bedtime has been a challenge. Sometimes he goes to bed fine, but stays awake for a while...sometimes perfectly happy, sometimes screaming intermittently for water or one of us. Other nights he puts up a fight from the moment I close the door. He'll pull out every excuse in the book--water, a missing animal, wanting one of us, being scared of shadows, scared that the Burger King is coming to get him (yep, no idea), you name it. Eventually he falls asleep, but the other night I had to literally rock him to sleep after an hour of misery. Thursday night I got desperate and pulled out something special to help him relax. I had gotten a little desk light that looks like the alien from Toy Story for free from codes in cereal boxes. I kept it put away for a useful moment, and I decided that Jacob might benefit from the extra light and maybe an extra "protector" with three eyes. He liked it, and sure enough, he went right to sleep.

If the problems stopped at bedtime, that would be one thing. But no, the middle of the night has been even worse. He's waking up at all hours, sometimes multiple times a night or for hour-plus spans. This has been happening almost every night and it's been very hard on all of us. I'm exhausted, Craig's exhausted (hence part of his issues on Thursday that I mentioned in Friday's post), and even Jacob hasn't been himself. Hard to say if it's the sleep, but aside from some congestion, he seems to be recovered from last weekend's virus. Normally he wakes up and is either ready to hang out and play, or is absolutely miserable and apparently scared of something. Neither is an enjoyable scenario at 1am or 4am. Unlike in the previous months, it hasn't been an easy prospect to get him back to sleep. A back rub and some shushing isn't cutting it. Sometimes he wants to come to our bed, and sometimes he's completely incoherent. He won't tell us what's bothering him, whether he's in pain or is scared. And without that knowledge, how can we help him? I'll be the first to admit that I don't have patience for that in the middle of the night. It bothers me when he won't go back to bed, and it's a tough balance to attend to his needs and make him feel safe, while also not coddling him to the point that he can't self-soothe. We worked so hard to get to that point, and now all seems lost. We're both tired and are disagreeing in the middle of the night about how to handle things. Thursday night when he woke up before 1am, crying uncontrolably, I went in and checked on him, but when he started crying a few minutes after I left, I really wanted to let him cry it out. But eventually Craig went in, and eventually he quieted down. But did that set us up for another bad night? Such a tough call. Last night ended up being fine, with a full sleep-through...except this time Craig was up in the middle of the night with a nasty headache. We can't win!


And like I said, I think it's impacting Jacob as well. He was cranky on Thursday night, had a bit of a mischevious streak on Friday then fell asleep in a shopping cart around 8:30, and has been generally out of sorts. More than anything, he's been scared. His fears have carried over into daytime as well. He wants to be carried at random times, like walking across our front porch or before stepping up on a curb. He won't go into certain rooms. I just read one of those "Your Toddler This Week" emails lately that talks about new fears rising up right about now, so I guess it shouldn't be a surprise. I just wish I knew what was causing those fears to crop up. Is he having bad dreams? Did he see something on TV that bothered him? Is there a book or a lesson at daycare that put something into his head? One book in one of his favorite series is "Llama Llama Red Pajama", which talks about a little llama who's scared after his mama llama puts him to bed. The moral of the story is that he's safe even when his mama isn't right there, but I'm wondering if his brain isn't quite getting there. Right now I'm stumped, though. Whether it's at night or in the day, it drives me nuts when he won't tell us what's bothering him. He'll just whine incoherently, which grates on my nerves to no end.

Like everything else, I'm hoping this is just a phase and will be over quickly. We all need better sleep. Soon.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Paranoia

So it appears I've developed a case of severe paranoia when it comes to illnesses. And it's really annoying, because it makes me all panicky and even impacts how I'm feeling physically... psychosomatic, maybe? It's making me nuts. This time of year is especially bad, because everywhere I turn I'm hearing about sick people. Everyone's talking about their sick kids on Facebook, and just knowing the illnesses that Jacob's classmates come down with makes me downright nervous about it a good chunk of the time. When will the next illness strike, who will it strike, and who else will catch it?

Yesterday alone two friends on Facebook posted about their kids' stomach troubles, and one more had a kid with strep. One more popped up with a pukey kid today. So obviously the bugs are out there. I was so nervous in the days leading up to Christmas and New Year's that Jacob would get sick. I kept thinking that we were destined to have a repeat of last New Year's Day, when we spent most of the day catching Jacob's puke and then heading to the ER, and most of the rest of the week dealing with the other end. His little puking episode the Sunday before Christmas this year totally freaked me out and did nothing to calm my fears, even though he wasn't actually sick. Then when I felt crappy on New Year's Day, I was petrified again. Even when Jacob had his fever and no other symptoms, I was so concerned it would turn into more. Every time he coughed I held my breath and prayed it didn't have puke coming after it. How crazy is that? Am I so scarred from last year's experience that everything like that causes a little bit of panic in me?

Of course, I have a right to be concerned. That was a horrible week or so for all of us. Jacob puked for a day, Craig got sick 36 hours later, and I felt like crap for a whole week. I never puked but had one evening where I thought for sure it was coming. I got emptied out even without that, but suffice it to say that it was a truly awful period for all of us. Being sick is horrible, but as a parent it's even harder. How can you care for your child when you're so sick? I remember the insane fear I had when I had two separate episodes a month or two apart back when Jacob was only about nine months old. I think they both must have been food poisoning or something, but until I could surmise that, I was so scared to nurse him because I didn't want to pass along what I had to him via close contact. And both times Craig was working and I needed to call for help. To not be able to care for your own child is so hard. I live in constant fear of that, especially now that Craig's work has kicked into high gear and most of his weekends will be spent working and/or traveling. And it's hard to call people in. Happy as they are to help, there's got to be a nagging fear in the back of their minds that they'll get what you have. And I'd feel horribly guilty if they did.

There's just such a lack of control that happens when people around you are sick. One of the sick kids yesterday was the son of some friends of ours. He's four and they ended up taking him to the hospital with severe dehydration. I remember how scared we were of that with Jacob, and I can only imagine how they felt. Not only dealing with the sick child and the cleanup for a day and a half, but the pure fear of how sick he might be. All of it together is so much stress. And usually you're sleep deprived and that makes it even worse. And although this is a minor point, I always worry about some illness (mine or Jacob's) wiping out my sick days and leaving me defenseless next time an illness strikes. Then it starts digging into vacation days, and that's a bummer for an entirely different reason. But not having any control over how long someone is sick, how they feel, or in Jacob's case, where they deposit the results of their illness, is just misery for me.

So amidst all of this, last night Craig felt horrible when he came home. He had a terrible headache and his stomach was off. On top of that, Jacob was just whiny and cranky. He kept coming over to me and sitting on my lap, but then shoving off of me like he was uncomfortable. It was so odd. But after a day of hearing about sick people and coming home to the two of them, I suspected the worst. Even I started feeling less than great, though I'm not sure if something really was wrong or if any tiny little seed of a problem (like a little extra stomach activity) grew into more simply because I was stressed about what this might mean. As all of this was running through my head, I seriously panicked a bit. I just wanted to get up and run out the door, both out of fear of what it all might mean for the rest of our week, and a fear that I might catch something myself. I just couldn't handle it. Fortunately, Craig did eat some food and felt much better, and chalked it up to stress at work and exhaustion from a busy week of traveling and long days, and being up with Jacob the night before (another post for another day). Jacob seems to be fine, albeit a little off or cranky or something (again, part of that other future post). So it would appear that we dodged some sort of bullet for now. But just knowing the germs are out there freaks me out. I think I'm a little too lazy to become a true germaphobe, but maybe I should keep reminding myself how much being sick sucks and that laziness might disappear awfully quickly. Still, it's exhausting to think about. I know it's inevitable and I just shouldn't worry about it until it happens, but it's hard not to. But in the meantime, I think I might need hypnosis or something so I stop feeling like I'm the next victim every time I hear about a current one...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Peanutty Good

I can't remember how often I've mentioned my fears of food allergies here. I'm not allergic to any foods (which is a miracle considering I'm allergic to the outdoors), but with the prevalence of allergies these days, I have still been very nervous about Jacob. Even worse is that his older cousin Grant is allergic to peanuts and eggs, so knowing that those issues could be hiding somewhere in the gene pool is a little scary. I have no idea how these things crop up, though--whether it's genetic or environmental or completely random gene mutations--so it's such a crap shoot. It's almost enough to make me not want to have another child, but people get through it and so would we, I guess. Aside from the obvious health concerns that allergies pose, I dread the thought of ever having to work around them. Cooking and food shopping are often difficult enough for me, and I can't imagine having to stop and read labels on everything I buy. I already do that from time to time, and I feel like it makes me look neurotic or at the very least makes my shopping trips that much longer. It makes eating out especially hard, and I enjoy doing that from time to time. Long story short, it just makes everything harder. And it scares me to no end that one slip-up could cost your child their life. Ugh.

I was pretty careful in offering foods to Jacob when they were recommended. I stayed away from wheat, eggs and berries until he was a year old, and slowly conquered other scary foods as we went along. But once we got past a year or so, pretty much the only thing left was nuts. Jacob ended up accidentally testing out almonds a while back, maybe last summer, when my parents gave him Honey Nut Chex that they had gotten as a sample with their newspaper. I was sleeping when they did it and had a minor freakout when I found out. But all was fine, thankfully, so at least we had crossed that off the list. The only thing left was peanuts. I was scared to death. On the bright side, Jacob's daycare is already peanut free. So, not only would that not be a problem, but I also wouldn't have to worry about any accidents there involving other kids with peanut butter. I kept wanting to try them once he hit his second birthday, but I kept losing my nerve. He did have a couple brief run-ins with them at baseball games over the summer, like touching peanut shells or sitting within a few feet of peanut eaters, and since nothing happened then, I figured that maybe that was a good sign.

There's such an assortment of research out there about peanut allergies--that waiting to introduce peanuts prevents them, or that holding off too long actually causes them, or that eating peanuts while pregnant or nursing leads them, or that it actually may help avoid them. What?! Thinking back I think I mostly held off from peanuts while pregnant and nursing, but I think I indulged a couple times when the holidays came around and peanut butter cups and cookies were everywhere. But I mostly held off. Of course, that may mean nothing. I often wonder if there's actually nothing we can do about it and allergic kids would be that way no matter what. Still, I do wonder why it's so prevalent nowadays. Is it that our messing with the system (telling people when to introduce things) is making it worse? Or that all of the recessive genes for allergies are now teaming up as both parents contribute one, and it's becoming a dominant gene? Or are there environmental factors screwing with genetics or hormones or ingredients themselves that are making kids more susceptible? It's just odd and it's taking the fun out of things for so many people. It's hard to believe that so many schools can't have kids eating that kid staple, PB&J.

So, like I was saying, I kept losing my nerve. I'd think, "Oh, maybe tonight we'll try a peanut butter cookie or a peanut M&M," but then I'd think, no, it's not really convenient to go to the emergency room tonight if something went wrong because I'm alone/it'll mess up bedtime/the weather's bad and it might be a slow drive/etc. But all the while, in the back of my mind I kept thinking how nice it would be to add a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to the list of meals I could feed him on weekends or when he didn't like our main course at dinner. The peanuts provide good protein and he already loves bread. But I just kept holding off. Until Christmas.

Among the items in the big spread at my aunt and uncle's house on Christmas evening was Chex Mix, and it was the real stuff (not the bagged kind) and it had peanuts in it. I held off giving it to Jacob for that reason, and surveyed the table for other potential peanut hazards, of which there were a few. At some point after presents, Jacob ran off with his cousins (my cousins' kids, ranging in age from about 13 down to 6) up to my younger cousin Megan's room. She's 17, and I guess she's now the cool cousin for the young kids, much like my Uncle Mark was always the cool uncle for his younger nieces and nephews. Ironically, she now has his old bedroom after my aunt and (other) uncle moved into my grandparents' old house. Anyway, when I went to track him down, I walked in to discover him eating a peanut (of all things) from a plate of Chex Mix sitting out on the desk. Oh crap. I didn't know if that was the first one or one of many, so for the next half hour (or admittedly, the rest of the night), I was constantly checking him over for any signs of problems--rash, breathing issues, swelling, etc. None came, though I knew in the back of my mind that sometimes symptoms don't appear with the first exposure.

Since then we've tried little bits here and there. A peanut butter-filled candy here, a bite of peanut brittle there, and so far so good. Yesterday when I was home with Jacob and he rejected my first suggestion for lunch, I decided to try a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not only did we have no problems, but he LOVED it. He ended up eating two helpings, which pretty much amounted to a full sandwich. Woohoo! Incidentally, I don't like PB & J, and never have. At least, in my memory. I remember disliking the mushy sandwiches in my bag lunch (those didn't last long, apparently), and I have never eaten one since. I keep thinking I should try again, though I don't really need the fat content of peanut butter, no matter how much "good fat" it contains. I do, however, like peanut butter when it is paired with chocolate or anything dessert-like. And for the record, I read labels a ton when picking one, because I wanted one without a lot of fillers and crap in it. I ended up with Simply Jif, which has less sugar and a very short ingredient list. I read that reduced fat versions have a lot of junk for not a lot of fat savings, so I opted for the goodness of the real stuff. Small steps, I guess.

So, I'm hoping this means we're good to go. I'm just sad for all the folks out there who aren't--just read a post from a friend on Facebook today whose daughter came up positive for peanuts, among other things, and our nephew will have to deal with it forever, too--and nervous that next time it could be us. Knowing that allergens are out there makes it a much scarier world to send your kid out into, when one false move could kill them or have dire consequences. And God knows I'd never forgive myself if I did something to cause a problem. There's just too much that can go wrong. So, for now, I guess I can just thank God that Jacob appears to be fine and that the rogue peanuts on Christmas didn't cause a problem we'd have been hard-pressed to solve. And I will rest comfortably knowing that not only is my child safe, but he will also enjoy a life of peanut M&Ms, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and other peanutty delights. Yay :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Parenting and Priorities

Hello from Fever-land. Jacob still has a fever...four days and counting. Yesterday I thought it broke when he woke up and his medicine had already worn off, but no...the fever came back by lunchtime. It stuck around all night, and Craig got welcomed home from his road trip with a little overnight time in Jacob's room. He was awake way too early this morning, and still had a fever, too. Craig and I had decided to split the day, and I set up a doctor's appointment for Jacob this morning. I wanted to take him yesterday, but didn't since I thought the fever broke...and by the time it was back, the office was closed again. I heard from daycare that a kid in the adjacent toddler room called in with strep this morning, so then I got really nervous that that was Jacob's problem as well. But no, no strep, which means we just have to wait this one out. Great.

On the bright side, Jacob's still been okay. As long as he's medicated, his mood is good and his energy is high. It's just when it wears off that he gets whiny and he's disturbingly warm to the touch. He was pretty good at church yesterday and did well on an outing to get my netbook (which I'm using right now!). He's been running up and down the living room like usual, so I guess that's good. His eating has been up and down, but hopefully he's getting enough somewhere in there.

Like I've mentioned many times before, the pull of work vs. child is a tough one. It's one thing when you don't need to be with your child, but would like to. But it's another when you have to be with your child and can't do the other things you need to. Obviously my priorities and my heart are with Jacob, but I do have responsibilities to the people I work with, and it's hard when I can't take care of those. There's only so much I can do remotely, particularly with Jacob running around, so it's hard when I'm at home. And with a husband that's insanely busy, it's that much harder. It's not his fault; it's just how it is. We both have a lot on our plates, and days like today make that quite apparent. We did a midday switch downtown, and my day has been all downhill from there.

Before I left I gave Craig instructions to give Jacob medicine after his doctor's appointment, then lunch around 11:45, so he'd be ready to go in time to come to the city for the switch. Well, that didn't happen. How much of it was because Craig's phone was ringing off the hook for work vs. just spending too much time playing, I don't know. But all I know is that at 1pm, I had a catnapping child who hadn't yet had lunch and was in no position for a real nap. He was asleep in Craig's car and woke up during the switch, which I knew would mean problems come naptime. We came home and had lunch (considerably later than he usually eats), and then I tried to get him to go down around 2pm, an hour later than his usual home nap time, and an hour and a half later than his daycare naptime. And he proceeded to stay awake for an extra hour, with the last quarter of that spent crying. Ugh. He fell asleep shortly thereafter, though, which is good and bad. He needed the nap, particularly because he was up so early, but he's still sleeping at 4:30, which means that we're going to have an awkward wakeup and/or a hard bedtime. Yuck.

I know that today was a disaster for both of us, and I know Craig does the best he can. But it killed me that he didn't follow my instructions because it made the rest of my day much harder. I didn't just give him those instructions for fun...they're all part of a master plan. I was equally frustrated when he called me confused about giving Jacob medicine, almost using a real spoon instead of a perfectly measured syringe. Really?! Since when do we do that? And even if the syringe wasn't enough of a hint, wouldn't the measured cups that came with the bottles be enough? It's hard, because I always feel like I have to micromanage and do everything myself, and it's moments like that that seem to confirm it...but it's a bit of a circular problem, isn't it? I don't trust him to take the time to learn the process, so I do it, but he never learns to do it himself because I always do it. Then he does it wrong when he does have to do it, and it all starts over. But I'm the one that takes the time to have a master plan, and he's often too busy to suck it all in...and truthfully, most of the time he doesn't need to because I've got it handled. I have all of these evenings and weekends solo with Jacob, so of course I'm more ingrained in the process. It's tough all around. And when Craig has a lot of things pulling at him, it's no wonder it's all hard to manage. I don't blame him--though I do think he could try a little harder at focusing on and remembering certain things--because I know he's in a tough spot.

Did anyone watch Parenthood on NBC last week? There was a storyline where Crosby, the father of a kid he didn't know about until the child was five and has now been involved with for year, was accused by his fiancee, the child's mom, of making her into the bad cop. He didn't want to push his son to clean his room, and eventually was on the hard end of things when he did have to stand firm. I could certainly relate, because I often feel that Craig gets the better side of our parenting setup, at least from Jacob's perspective. I'm the one that forces down medicine, holds firm to naptime, and does more of the pushing to clean up and eat meals. He gets to play more often, does some of the mealtime prodding, the occasional bedtime and half of the middle of the night wakeups, but in general he's more lenient. I think, again, that it's a lack of innate knowledge of the master plan...I'm always trying to think a couple steps ahead (or know from experience how things go), and he's acting more in the moment. It's a tough balance. Again, it's not his fault--it's lack of practice and too much on his mind (darn job of his). And when he does have time with Jacob, I'm sure the last thing he wants to do is get on his bad side.

This has probably gotten a little rambling, but I guess I needed to vent. It's just hard when we're out of our routine and having to make do here and there. Everything suffers. It's hard to prioritize effectively all around, and I'm sure it brings out the worst in all of us--our weaknesses and shortcomings. I've ended up pretty cranky today, even though Jacob did eventually nap and somehow the work will get done. But seriously, could this evil virus just go away and leave us alone?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Foiled!

One of the things that takes adjusting when you become a parent is that your life is no longer your own. Sure, you spend insane amounts of time doing things for your child--feeding them, rocking them, playing with them--and have to make lots of little adjustments, too. You need to get ready earlier because it always takes forever to get a baby/toddler dressed for outside, you need to build in more time for meals once your child self-feeds, and you need to build in time for naps and playing as much as you possibly can. Fortunately most of it doesn't happen all at once. Infants are all-consuming at times, yes, but you can usually put them in their seat and run errands while they nap, or multitask while they play in a bouncy seat, or whatever. Toddlers come with their own challenges, like needing a solid block of time for a good nap or needing to run off their boundless energy. But one thing that's always been among the toughest aspects for me is when your child's needs drastically change your plans. I find it hard to schedule errands in the evening because of our schedule, so usually my weekends are important for so many reasons. I need extra sleep, I need to run errands, I need to do things around the house, etc. I mentioned the other day that blocks of time on weekends are key because I can get a lot more done at once than doing a little here and there in the evenings. Jacob's nap time is especially important...yet here I sit blogging, but whatever :)

Anyway, this weekend Craig is on his first roadtrip of the season (Knighthawks opener is tonight in Minnesota), and I was planning on taking Jacob's to my parents for the weekend. My dad's birthday was yesterday (Happy Birthday, Dad!), so I figured it was good timing. We also didn't get to go there last weekend because I wasn't feeling great, so I was really looking forward to this weekend. Well, earlier in the week we noticed that Jacob's one ear was bright red. It was hot to the touch as well. The other one was totally fine, and he seemed just fine overall. I did some research on the internet and couldn't really find anything definitive. Some people have a recurring problem with it, with no official cause, and others said that their kids (mostly boys, go figure) get it sometimes too. Some did say that it happened when their kids got tired or when they were about to get a fever. Great. When I saw that his ear was still red on Thursday when I picked him up from daycare, I called the doctor. They said it was probably nothing as long as the ear wasn't swelled up. When I went to look, the ear wasn't red anymore. By bedtime, Jacob started feeling a little warm. I couldn't get much higher than a 99 on the thermometer, so I figured we'd see how he was in the morning. By morning it was the same and for the most part he seemed ok, so we sent him to daycare.

At 4pm I got a call that his temp was up to 102, so I had to leave work early to pick him up. Unfortunately, we had to go to Wegmans to pick up a couple essentials, so he had to suffer through that before we could go home. He had his moments but was generally fine. He ate his dinner well (who wouldn't with waffles?) and seemed okay until we got on the webcam with my parents. He started to get whiny and clingy during our chat, and pretty much stayed that way for the rest of the night. Around 7:30 I got him into his pjs and gave him some Tylenol. I was holding off on meds until bedtime because I only had Tylenol and didn't have Ibuprofen to overlap it with. I think the fever just started getting the best of him and he crashed. I let him fall asleep on me on the couch. I can't remember the last time he slept on me like that. Maybe last year when he was sick? It brought back memories of lots of chest sleeping naps back in the day, though. I let him sleep on me for a while but eventually took him up to his crib.

All was well until 1:30, his first wakeup. He wanted water, and I think that was when I gave him his next dose of Tylenol. I hoped that would get him through the night, but he was up around 3:30 wanting me to retrieve a lost stuffed animal that had fallen through the bars. At that time he started begging to come into bed with me, but I resisted. At 4am he woke up crying, and at that point I wanted to sleep, so in he came. Miraculously, he stopped talking fairly quickly and we both slept in until about 8:30, with a few brief wakeups from 7am on. Not bad. Unfortunately, he still had a fever this morning so the trip to Buffalo was out. His energy is good, though, so that's positive. I'm hoping the fever will break later today or early tomorrow. In the meantime, we did have to go back to Wegmans this morning (my doctor forgot to call in a prescription I needed today), so while we were there I got the Ibuprofen (he's now firmly into Children's medicines, rather than Infants), and I was able to bolster this morning's Tylenol with Ibuprofen to get him through his nap.

Since we're here all weekend I'm going to try to get down at least a sizable portion of the Christmas decorations and hopefully get some things done that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to do. I'd still rather be hanging out at my parents and letting Jacob entertain us all, but I'll have to make the best of it. It's just never easy when your child's issues get in the way of fun, particularly when they're sick. It's a lose-lose situation for everyone. So, while I work on avoiding having a pity party for myself, I hope everyone else has a good weekend :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Randoms...

1) I am really tired today. Like, exhausted. I can hardly keep my eyes open at my desk. I'm not sure what the cause is. No, I'm pretty darn sure I'm not pregnant. I did have to wake up early this morning for an 8am doctor's appointment, which I'm sure didn't help. I'm certainly not getting enough sleep these days, dating back into the core of the holiday season. I did get some reasonable sleep here and there over my week off, but I suppose it just wasn't enough to catch up. I'm hoping I'm not coming down with something, and hoping even more it isn't something terrible, but it's probably just me not taking care of myself correctly. It's one of the ways parenthood screws with you, making you wonder just which one of the many, many options might be causing your latest ailment.

2) The aforementioned doctor's appointment was my annual visit to the OB/GYN. I only mention that because I find it funny that I still get warm fuzzies when I go there, thanks to all of those blissful pregnancy visits. I loved going there each month to get the latest update on the baby and hear the heartbeat, all without having to take off a stitch of clothing. Those visits in the final month or so were a tad less pleasant, but I suppose the stats on how much I was dilated/effaced kept those appointments interesting. But I really did enjoy that time a lot, enough to soften the blow of the annual visit. Incidentally, my doctor left the practice since last year, and since I wasn't really that attached to her, I'm sticking with the practice and need to pick a new doctor. Of course, I can't remember a darn thing about which doctors I liked when I had to see most of them during my prenatal visits. I do remember a couple that I didn't so much like (nothing major, just being picky), but between pregnancy brain and doctors coming in and out, it's taken me a lot of thinking to figure out which one I think I'm going to aim for next year. Of course, with any luck by the end of the year I'll get another chance to test out each one, since the practice purposely makes you see as many doctors as possible so you're familiar with whoever is on call when you deliver. Figures, then, that I ended up with one of two doctors I hadn't seen!
3) In case I forgot to mention it, Jacob has been pretty good lately. I know I mentioned that he was well-behaved around Kate, and I think I mentioned how nicely he played and snuggled when I wasn't feeling great on New Year's Day, but in general he's gone through a pretty good streak. It has still had its moments, of course, as he is still two, but as a whole he's been good. He's played nicely by himself, is at least manageable at mealtime, and doesn't constantly run away when I come to get him at daycare. He's put up a bit of a fight at bedtime ("Don't want Mommy to leave"), but shortly after the wail as I leave the room, he quiets right down and presumably falls asleep shortly thereafter. I haven't gotten any negative comments from daycare this week, though I've probably now jinxed that. I'm never sure whether time at home will make things better or worse. It might get him out of some bad habits, but screwing with his schedule is always a little dicey. Will he enjoy the time with us so much that he wants to behave better, or will he act out when he finally does have to go back to express his displeasure? Maybe he'll learn to appreciate the balance--his special time at home vs. the fun and engagement at daycare--or maybe he'll decide once and for all that he likes one better than the other. So far things seem to be going well, but we'll have to see if he slips back into old habits. In the meantime, though, it's been nice.

4) I'm hoping the next few months will fly by. I'm not trying to wish away precious moments, mind you, but lately time has really been flying and considering the next few months are the usually the most trying of the year, I'd like that trend to continue. If December can zoom by in a flash, why not January, February and March? I was thinking this morning how we really only have two months left of hardcore winter. Yes, it will still be cold and snowy in March, but at least by then we start to see peeks of spring--a few randomly warm days, less consistent snowfall and freezing temps--so there's hope on the horizon even if it does take two more months for good weather to come. We were so spoiled last year with summer weather (and leaves!) in April that I'm trying to keep my expectations low. The next few months also coincide with Craig's busiest time of year. The Knighthawks' season starts this weekend with his first roadtrip, and from there on out he's only got a couple off days here and there until late April. It's hard on Jacob and me, and even harder on Craig, so the sooner we can get past it, the better. And then it will be back to warm weather and more summer fun...

Finally, as your reward for surviving my random ramblings, here are a couple treats...

First, here's a picture of Jacob, asleep in his carseat on New Year's Eve. We put him in his pjs before we left the party, and just before we left, a partygoer handed out glow necklaces to all the kids. Jacob was playing with it in the car and put it on his head sometime before he fell asleep...and hence he became a sleeping little angel. A little angel with a mouth and fingers dyed orange from cheese puff dust, but an angel nonetheless.

And here is the crown jewel of things I captured with my camera over Christmas. As I mentioned, Kate was a little hesitant to get too close to Grandpa most of the time we were there, but the iPad broke some of the ice. As I mentioned, the iPad has an app that lets you make splashes in a fish pond and scare away the fish. I posted a picture of this a few days ago, but here's the video. It's pretty darn cute all around.
video
Doesn't get much better than that...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More Baby Musings

Over the holidays, I found out that two friends of mine who were pregnant at the same time I was are expecting again. I am beyond happy for them, of course, though ever so slightly bummed about the fact that I wanted to be pregnant right now and could have once again been pregnant with them and had TWO kids the same age as them. Of course, neither of them live here, nor do we see them a lot. But still, it would have been nice. There's also at least one of my Facebook friends that falls into this category as well. And I also know a handful of other pregnant women. It would have been fun to do the ride with them, but I guess I'll just have to hope someone wants to get pregnant later this year and do it with me, whenever it happens. Just won't be any of these women, I suppose! As I've mentioned previously, I'm actually pretty much at peace about the whole thing--though these revelations certainly tested that a bit--and I've still come to the conclusion that it's a good thing we're not heading toward an imminent baby #2 right now. There's plenty to keep us busy in the meantime. Part of me puts myself in their shoes, thinking about being pregnant, doing the planning, dealing with the physical stuff, and whatever else, all while running after a very active two year old. Oy. In the next year and a half or so, prior to the arrival of proposed baby #2, I would like to replace the carpeting in two bedrooms, take down the border in one bedroom, get Jacob potty trained, transition him to a big boy bed, and potentially paint one bedroom depending on the gender of baby #2. That is plenty to do, and that's just the big stuff. I do like the thought of Jacob being a little older and more aware of things (and more able to help!) by the time a sibling would arrive. We'll also need the time to work on getting him on board with the whole idea. Everytime we bring up a sibling, Jacob says he doesn't want one. Super. I guess the kid knows he has it good. I always worry about how things will go with two kids, when I often don't feel like I have enough to offer one. How do you divide time and attention? I was happy to read on another blog today about a mom who was worried about adding a third baby, and even though that third baby has been very, very sick, she still feels like adding children to their family has enhanced the loving environment for the existing children. I hope that's the case with us someday as well.

One other thing I wanted to do before baby #2 was take Jacob on a halfway decent vacation. Originally we were thinking something along the Disney lines, but after the time with John, Kristin, & Kate, I think Disney can wait and a trip to Portland might be fun. We can obviously add other destinations out that way as well, but I think it would be great to get the kids together again before they forget each other. It would also solve the issue that was lingering in the back of my mind--What happens if we don't go to Disney until I'm already pregnant? I can't go through another pregnant trip there...not only because it's very disappointing, but it's also sort of a waste. What's the point of going there and not riding the rides I really want to go on--again? The last time was fine, as we had no way of knowing that would be the case when we booked it. It also served as a lovely last hurrah. But to purposefully do it again? No way. So, flying to Portland seems like a much better option at this point, and we'll figure out Disney later. But it's a long year and so much can happen, so I'm trying not to plan too far ahead. Perhaps I'll just keep hoping that our office shot at the Mega Millions jackpot pans out and we can do both. Ha! In the meantime I'll just enjoy watching from afar as my fellow mommy friends go through it all again, and hopefully benefit from their experience of wrangling two at a time once it's my turn. See, the benefits are endless!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to the Grind...

From the moment I left my office shortly after lunchtime on December 23rd, I knew this day would come all too fast. And sure enough, here I am back at work on January 3rd, still wishing I was off and doing pretty much anything else besides catching up on work and running into the usual work-related problems. Ugh. But I will say that the 10 days didn't fly by quite as quickly as I expected. I mean, usually week-long vacations fly by in an instant, and when I'm driving into work on my first day back, it feels like I never had a break. Today it felt like I hadn't done it in a while, which was nice. Even still, it felt all too familiar. But I know that I packed a lot into my time off, and some of the lazy-ish days that we spent just hanging out at my parents' house with the Portland contingent probably made the time stretch a bit. Without constant plans, the days just moved at a consistent pace, rather than flying by like vacation days tend to. And feeling not-so-great on New Year's Day forced me to spend a good portion of that day doing next to nothing, so I'm sure that contributed as well.

Regardless of how much or how little time I spend away, it's never enough. Too little time and I'm desperate for more, and too much time and I start to get pretty contented with spending time with Jacob and being productive around the house. Or perhaps it's just that I start to be productive and realize the dozens of other projects I'd really like to work on, too. And I do realize that my time off was nothing like the life of a stay-at-home mom. I had all of our holiday fun at the beginning, lots of help for the middle, then a day of daycare and a day with Craig around, and then a couple days of mostly quiet time at home. I know that if I stayed at home every day, it would be a lot harder and I wouldn't have quite the same freedom and the opportunities to break it up like I did over the past week or so. However, I still maintain that I am made to be a part-time stay-at-home mom. Oh, to always know that the day after a workday was a day off...rather than always considering the weekend my next possible chance to do anything productive. It's not that I can't do things in the evening--I do--but it's hard to get everything going at the same time most of the time. To get uninterrupted time, things generally have to happen after Jacob's in bed, which is usually by 9ish. Then I need to have the energy to do it, and no other day-to-day tasks that monopolize my time, or even cut away at it in chunks...because before I know it, I'm left with a short period of time before bed, and there's no sense starting a big project then, lest I get too involved and stay up way too late. I know that stay-at-home moms don't have uninterrupted time during the day either, save for naptime (which is all too tempting to use for a mommy nap as well), but the mere physical proximity to the house itself has to increase the odds of getting something done, even if it is all of those little tasks that normally chip away at my evening block, like dishes, coupon cutting, or bill paying. And if those things are done, then at least I could do what I like with my evenings. But in the meantime, I stare at the insurmountable list of shows on our DVR and wonder when I'm going to have the time and patience to start putting away the Christmas stuff--which, incidentally, I'm getting the urge to do much earlier than usual. Normally I'm completely content leaving stuff up until at least mid-January, but for some reason (the desire to find all of Jacob's toys a permanent home, perhaps?), I'm pondering starting the great take-down sometime this week, given the time and energy to do it.

Jacob's drop-off went about as expected today. He didn't want to go to daycare. He wanted to stay home, play with his toys, and hang out with Mommy and Daddy. Who wouldn't? It was a bit of a struggle getting his coat on, and then he whined to be carried in once we got there. I practically made him chase me down the hall so I didn't have to carry him, and then he kept hugging me when it was time to go. I didn't hear any cries when I finally left, but he was distracted with trying to track down breakfast and I knew he'd probably be fine five minutes later no matter what. He did well on his one day there last week, so I hoped that would help him readjust a little more quickly as well. Still, it's never any fun to leave your child when they're begging you not to. Let's hope it means he'll be so happy to see us tonight that he'll be a complete angel. Ha.

While part of me was looking forward to getting back in the swing of things and having some sort of structure and schedule, not quite enough of me was there to make this an easy transition. I mean, yes, we will fall back into our old routine no problem, but part of me was really enjoying the time away from everything--work, daycare, schedules, etc. I know that I need a little structure, as evidenced by my inability to plan and cook decent dinners since we got back from Buffalo, but I was really enjoying having a lot of time to just relax and hang out. I guess I don't do nearly enough of it.

This year I mark my fifth anniversary at my job. That means that I now get four weeks of vacation each year. This year I actually only get 19.5 days because it's my anniversary year and the time is prorated based on my start date, but even still...that's a lot of time that I know could get used up quickly. However, I want to think long and hard about it and really find ways to utilize it in the best possible way for everyone involved...me, Jacob, Craig, and anyone else whose world I can better by being present at any given time. Whether it's actually taking those mental health days, or taking a real vacation, or just using a few for fun things I wouldn't normally get to do, I want to make the most of them. But sometimes having a day of nothing isn't such a bad thing. And now that I'm back to the daily grind, it sounds better than ever...