Friday, April 29, 2011

The Nicest Form of Extortion

A few times a year posters go up around daycare alerting us to "picture days".  On the bright side, only one of those is a formal school picture day.  I only have to obsess over Jacob's clothes and hair and facial wounds once per year.  The other days are theme days.  The photographer brings all sorts of props, so ultimately it's low maintenance for us and we just have to hope our kid smiles.  They did one a while back where Jacob was dressed up as a fireman.  Like most of his school pictures, they were pretty unsuccessful. 

Jacob's school pictures have been pretty awful.  His first ones were when he was maybe five months or so, and while there were one or two okay shots (which I vaguely considered buying since, you know, everything is special when you have your first baby), I decided against it because in the best shot he was drooling and the rest didn't look that much like him.  His second ones, a year later, were pretty bad.  He was not happy and they only got one shot before his crying ruined any chance for more.  The fireman pictures were pretty blah, and his school pictures this year were sort of okay but besmirched by a couple nasty scabs on his face from a recent fall, so there was nothing worth saving for posterity. 

This week they did vintage day.  They brought old clothes and took the pictures in sepia tones (although apparently they're available in B&W and color, too).  I saw the handful of proofs on Jacob's proof sheet (we'll see the rest online), and much to my surprise, there were good ones!  It was even more of a surprise since he had a bad day yesterday (yep, right on the heels of a good one), with only two stickers and a lot of not-so-great stories from the afternoon.  Apparently the lawn guys showed up early which woke the kids up, but still. 

I have yet to see the online proofs where I can really study them, but now I have a bit of a conundrum.  See, the pictures are expensive.  We could go get family shots done and get a decent number of prints far cheaper that what they're asking, but that assumes a couple things: 1) that I get my butt in gear and actually schedule something; and 2) that Jacob will actually smile and we'll all look good.  Pictures with kids are such a crapshoot because you never know what their mood is going to be or how they will behave in front of a stranger with a camera.  That's why I haven't done professional shots since Jacob's first Christmas.  Those didn't go well and I've been a bit gun-shy (or camera-shy?) ever since.  You can always find no sitting fee deals around, but it's still a lot of work and scheduling to just get there, so it's still a disappointment if it doesn't work out, even if it costs nothing.  The quandary with these pictures is that if they're as good as they appear, they're already done and we know they're good.  Should that be enough?  It pains me to think of great pictures of Jacob floating around out there that we don't own.  And it's not like I've spent a lot on pictures previously, so maybe we should just bite the bullet and buy some of these...maybe just an 8" x 10" to replace the picture from the last professional shots and a few 5" x 7"s for the important people.  But for that money I could certainly get more somewhere else...yet there's no guarantee we'd like them as much.  Ugh. 

Ironically, Jacob fell today at daycare and now has a brushburned chin.  At least he waited until picture day was past this time!  Regardless, I suppose I'll just have to look at the online proofs, get some other opinions, and stare at the prices a little longer to see what might be reasonable.  The downside of buying them is that it technically gets me off the hook for family pictures (which we really should do) for a little longer.  I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing.  We obviously have a lot of pictures of Jacob floating around, but he's not really a smiler for the camera nor is he good at standing still, so we don't have a lot of good pictures where his face is clear and he looks picture perfect.  We probably owe it to the grandparents and aunts and uncles to get some of these once in a while for the frames we gave them at Jacob's first Christmas, so they're not staring at a six-month-old baby (or filling it with something else) all these many months later, but ugh...I don't know. 

These people just prey on parents who can't say no to the face of their adorable child, and it's so annoying.  Especially because I might be one of them.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

You Just Have to Laugh...

When Jacob is being a good boy, he's such an amazing kid.  He's funny, adorable, and so energetic.  And thank goodness, sometimes that energy is contagious.  There are times I need it.

Yesterday we had to run to Wegmans after I picked him up, and I was bracing myself for the worst.  Those trips usually go badly, and with crappy weather on the way (a tornado watch, no less), all I wanted to do was get home.  When I picked him up, he was pleasant, he'd gotten all five stickers on the sticker chart (he's done it a few times now), and by all accounts he'd had a good day.  Our shopping trip went relatively smoothly, even pleasant.  Jacob was kissing my hand instead of hitting it, for one.  That always helps.  He kept saying how things looked yummy, which was totally cracking me up.  By the time we finished shopping, I looked outside cautiously and saw that the clouds had officially rolled in and it was going to rain any minute.  Sure enough, the second we rolled outside, the rain started.  I ran us to the car, threw the groceries in the trunk, took the cart to a corral (with the wind it would have hit my car if I'd gone the lazy route), grabbed Jacob and ran to the car.  The drops were huge, the wind was strong, and in merely a minute in beginnings of the rain, we were soaked.  I even had wet specks of dirt stuck in my hairline and on my arms.  My car door handle had a puddle in it after being open for literally five seconds. 

I was worried I'd freaked Jacob out with my rushing around and all the rain and wind, but the second I closed the door and looked at him, he was all giggles!  He thought it was the funniest thing ever that we were soaked.  I sat in the back seat with him for a good ten minutes while the rain pounded the car because I just didn't want to get wet again.  I sent him into another fit of giggles when I tried climbing into the front seat, but I gave up that quest and just used the doors once the rain calmed down.  While I was never particularly comfortable with sitting in our car in a major thunderstorm with a tornado watch, sitting ducks for falling lampposts and runaway shopping carts, I was so happy that Jacob was there to make me laugh about it all.

Lately I've noticed Jacob picking up a lot of subtle little things.  He's always had an eye for detail, but now it's verbal stuff...and it amazes me every time.  I wish I could think of specific examples, but this morning will give you an idea.  One of Jacob's near-constant companions is a little eagle/hawk that wears a Knighthawks t-shirt.  I say "eagle/hawk" because the lines are blurry at the Blue Cross Arena.  There's a mascot that works for both teams--he's an Eagle for the Amerks (because they're the Americans, get it?) and I suppose he morphs into a hawk for the Knighthawks.  Jacob loves him, and his stuffed bird gets called both things at any given time.  Anyway, this morning he took off the bird's shirt.  At one point he asked if it would fit him (Jacob), and I said, "Does it look like it will fit you?"  A couple minutes later he ended up putting the shirt over his hand, with his thumb through a sleeve, and he said, "See, it fits me!"  I couldn't help but laugh...he was right!  Then a couple minutes after that, he wound up to throw the t-shirt and said, "Ready for t-shirts!" which stems from all of the t-shirt tosses at the many sporting events we attend.  The fact that he made the connection between the bird's t-shirt and those t-shirts sort of blew my mind. 

Oh, and did I mention that he ate all of his main course at dinner, asked for seconds, and then got treated to ice cream and strawberries, which he ate most of?  He also pooped in the potty before his bath.  Talk about a good evening.  It would have been nearly perfect if we didn't have to yell at him for playing golf a little too aggressively indoors.  Still, between Jacob and the warmer weather, my mood has improved dramatically this week.  I can practically see the landscape of trees that dominate my view at work turn greener by the minute.  Earlier this week it was primarily still brownish-gray, and today it's at least half green.  Not to mention the cheery forsythias, the slowly arriving tulips, the blossoming trees (our little one went from barely having tiny buds to being pink over the weekend), and the daffodils that are still hanging in there, thanks I'm sure to the cold weather we had previously.  Now if the rain and/or wind would just head out, that would be great.

On another bright note, I went to the doctor today for my loss of smell and taste problems.  She found that my nasal passages are quite swelled up, and prescribed an oral steroid to clear up that issue.  She also gave me an antihistamine nasal spray sample, and I'll go back in two weeks to follow up.  Beyond that, if the steroids do their job, then it's just a matter of finding a way to maintain it.  There may be an allergist in my future to help with that, and I couldn't help but wonder how the maintenance plan will be derailed next time I have a baby (I spent two years off allergy meds when I was pregnant and nursing), but it's a start.  The mere thought that I might actually be able to smell and taste within a couple weeks sounds too good to be true, but you can bet I'll be pretty happy to smell that first poopy diaper, despite my insistence that Jacob only poop in the potty these days.  There are about a million other things I'd rather smell, of course, but just once, I'll take that one just to prove I can.  I never realized how much tasting and smelling were a part of my life.  And while I miss fully tasting or smelling good things (and am often relieved when I don't smell bad stuff), I just worry about my ability to be a good mom when I can't sniff out trouble--literally.  The fact that I can't smell natural gas or smoke or even rotten milk scares me, particularly when Jacob and I are home alone.  I feel bad (a bit for Jacob and mostly for other people) when I can't smell a poopy diaper.  At least now he's old enough to tell me, but it still looks bad if he's stinking up the joint and I don't notice.  I feel like I'm missing part of the life experience without those senses, so hopefully they come back soon. 

In the meantime I just keep hoping Jacob will keep me laughing...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Oh, Chuck...

So, a while back Jacob expressed an interest in going to Chuck E. Cheese.  I have no idea where it came from initially.  Perhaps a friend at daycare went and couldn't stop talking about it.  Maybe it came up as we drove by one day.  In any event, he wanted to go.  He knew there were games there, and after his experience a few weeks ago at his friend's birthday party, he really wanted to go.  Coincidentally, his daycare set up a fundraiser.  Just go, and 15% of what we spend goes toward daycare.  While that wasn't a super-enticing thing, it made for a good excuse to go.

As much as I've heard bad things about Chuck E. Cheese, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I mean, yes, I had heard the pizza was bad and the kids are out of control, that it's gross and, as a friend of mine commented on Facebook, "a cesspool of disease".  I didn't expect perfection, that's for sure.  My memories of this type of place go way back to the days of Showbiz Pizza Place in Amherst on Niagara Falls Blvd., which we frequented from time to time when I was a kid.  I loved that place and looked forward to days off from school when we could go there for lunch.  There was a great animatronics show (with the Rock-afire Explosion, as I re-discovered via Wikipedia the other night) that I loved, cool games, a one-person ferris wheel-type ride, and of course, the ball pit!  I absolutely loved it there.  I have no recollection on the cleanliness, the quality of the pizza, or much else, but it was a lot of fun back then.  It turns out that Showbiz was actually part of the Chuck E. Cheese world (I think they owned them but kept the names separate until years later), but eventually Showbiz was phased out.  The one in Amherst turned into a Major Magic's as I think Chuck E. Cheese had moved into the market by then.  Major Magic's didn't last long.  I was sad to discover that there are no longer ball pits or animatronic shows at Chuck E. Cheese.  Just bad pizza and lots of games and little rides.  On the bright side, each one only costs a single token. 

The problem with Jacob, of course, is that he's obsessed with sports.  And most of the sports games at a place like this are pretty far beyond his age.  I mean, yes, we can stand him up on the game and let him throw big basketballs, footballs, or hard baseballs at various targets, and that's fine (though moderately unsafe), but in a room with a hundred games, I don't think Jacob so much as glanced at 95 of them.  He wanted to play basketball, football, baseball, air hockey...and that was pretty much it.  He didn't want to climb in the play structure, he didn't want to ride the little rides (save for one little bus), and none of the age-appropriate games interested him in the least.  Here he is when we tried to get him to play a modern computerized version of whack-a-mole...
 
Is it just me or is the "You LOSE" on the screen a bit harsh?
I did encourage him to look around at other things, and at one point did take him down (willingly) to see the one animatronic figure, Chuck himself. 
He was singing some schmaltzy song. Boring. Give me the Rock-afire Explosion and their fun takes on rock music any day.
And here's Jacob on the bus with Chuck, as well.
Unimpressed.
The most annoying part of the evening?  When unsupervised kids (one of whom was seriously old enough to know better) came up when Craig and Jacob were playing baseball and started throwing balls, too!  From our game!  Ummm, hello?  Not your game.  Get your own token and play yourself.  Who teaches these kids manners, anyway?  Obviously no one.  I get that places like that are a bit of a kid free-for-all sometimes, but that just seemed way over the top to me.  Add in that the pizza did stink and a number of the games weren't spitting out tickets, everything just felt cheap.  We did benefit from the ticket issue, though, because I played a game, and just as I finished, a mother and daughter walked up with a worker who fixed it.  They played before me and won 10 tickets, and I won three.  But as we stood there, tickets streamed out.  There must have been a lot of people who played it and left ticket-less before us.  We were going to split the tickets, but seeing as it was the girl's 7th birthday, I took a third of them and left.  The mom came over to me later with another stack, begging me to take them.  Not that we needed more of the crap you can get with the tickets, but it was nice. 

All in all, it was just an odd experience.  I just didn't really enjoy it.  And I'm really pretty okay with other "fun center" kind of places.  The games, the crazy kids, the bad pizza...all fine with me, but something about Chuck E. Cheese bugged me.  Maybe because it seemed cheap, like they were living off the name and not making an effort because people will go there anyway.  It just wasn't the pizza and games experience of my childhood, that's for sure.  It'll be a while before I consent to going there again, but I'm sure we will.  I just hope it's not of our own free will...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Recap

I hope everyone had a good Easter.  Ours was nice, but very busy.  To start this post off in an Eastery fashion, here's my little art project I worked on last Sunday while Jacob was napping--my "stained" (not dyed) wooden Easter eggs :)


We headed to Buffalo on Friday, as I had off and Craig took off, in anticipation of having to work Saturday anyway since the Knighthawks were playing in Buffalo that night.  We got out of town just about when we figured we would, and even though it was only late morning, Jacob nodded off in the car.  The bad news was that deviating from his normal nap is normally problematic, but the good news was that he'd be slightly recharged enough to head to the Broadway Market after lunch.  The Broadway Market is a Buffalo Easter tradition.  It's not located in the best part of town, but it's swarmed at Easter with people looking to buy a little of everything--meat, bread, pastries, candy, ethnic items, and who knows what else.  It's definitely an experience, and neither Craig nor I had been there in years.  We knew it would be busy, but we went anyway.  We did a little shopping before finding out that Craig's parents and his brother's family were all there, so we treked around the market trying to find them.  We all shopped together for a bit, though eventually Jacob and I headed off to find the bathroom, which ended up taking far longer and being far more exhausting than I'd have hoped.  It wasn't made much better by the fact that Jacob was squirmy and in escape mode, and that he was screaming for popcorn (he'd shared some of his cousins').  Ugh.  By the time that was over, we tried to shop a little on our own, but by then I was tired, the diaper bag was killing my shoulder, and I was ready to go home.  We had to head back anyway, because we had prunes and noodles on tap.

I mentioned last week about Easter traditions, and prunes and noodles is a classic one.  Jacob actually ate his noodles and crutons right up, and loved the desserts, too.  We had a nice time visiting with the family before heading off to church.  At that point Craig headed off to stay with his parents, since he had to work all day Saturday anyway.  Jacob was ok at church, though he wouldn't be quiet!  He kept talking, out loud, no matter how many times we told him to whisper.  However, as I mentioned in Saturday's post, he was intrigued by the darkness and referred to Jesus dying as sad.  Sweet.  He did great draping his "sin strip" on the cross (a far cry from a couple years ago when he didn't want to let mine go!), and overall it was reasonably ok...but the talking, ugh!  Afterward we all played for a bit (including my Aunt Sue, who was staying with my parents as well...Jacob was teaching her lacrosse!) while watching the Sabres game, and bedtime went pretty much without incident. 

Saturday morning he woke up early, but for the most part we both woke up in a good mood.  We snuggled in bed for a while and finally got up for breakfast and potty time.  Not much progress there, by the way.  We'll have bright moments quickly darkened by another poopy diaper.  He insists he wants to do it, but no action.  I was hoping the diaper rash he ended up with after a couple poopy diapers might convert him, and he has seemed more willing in the last couple days, but we'll see.  The weather was looking nice after a long night of rain, so I decided to go out for a run.  I was out for a half hour, and despite the wind making for a tough run, it was a lovely, pleasant day for a change.  When I got home I was promptly informed that my mom and aunt were on their way to see my grandma, who was probably headed to the hospital.  She's been having a lot of problems lately and things aren't looking great.  Unfortunately, it ended up being an all-day thing, so it was just Jacob, my dad and me for the rest of the day.  We grabbed some lunch, Jacob napped (during which I read and blogged on the porch...awesome), and then we went outside and played golf for a while.  Here are some of my favorite pictures...
He looks like a pro, doesn't he? :)

Not sure what he was doing for this one...maybe talking about throwing something.  Love it anyway...

I just love the pure joy on his face in this one.  He was saying the tree looked like a moose and thought that was very funny.

Love this one.  Sweet, happy, and full of blue skies :)

We had a late-ish dinner and another uneventful bedtime, shortly after which my mom and aunt got home.  Bummer of a day for them :( 

Craig got to my parents' house very late after a Knighthawks' win over the Bandits so he could join us for church the next morning.  We had a couple minutes before church so Jacob could "find" his Easter basket.  It wasn't hidden very hard.  He got a chocolate soccer-themed bunny, an Air Bud movie we got cheap at a Blockbuster Video store closing sale, a lacrosse shirt (which he actually got a duplicate of--I'm going to try to exchange it for the next size up), a little puzzle, and a few eggs with some candy. 
Have I mentioned what a big boy he's becoming?

This picture is blurry, but I liked it so much.  He looks so grown up and it's showing off his big boy belt, which he needed for these pants.  Tall and skinny makes dressing kids awfully tough!
 We headed off to church and once again had a chatty kid on our hands.  It got a little frustrating, but between a number of laps to sit on, some snacks and some toys, we made it.  Jacob busted out of church exclaiming about seeing the basketball hoops down in the gym (his favorite thing about church), even though we told him the hoops were put away because we were eating breakfast there.  We had a detour down to the church basement first, because they had just finished major renovations there and were doing a dedication.  Jacob gravitated to the one far area of the basement, where one of these abstract, quickly painted pictures of Jesus was hung.  It was the same type as the one on the altar on Good Friday, as well as one on the altar for Easter--they used to hang on the church walls and Jacob has always been interested in them.  As Jacob walked up to it, he waved and said, "Hi, Jesus!"  So cute. 

After that we were off to breakfast.  Jacob pretty much just ate pancakes and doughnuts, but the food was really good and kicked off a long day of eating.  Afterward we headed off to the Easter egg hunt, at which Jacob won a giant blue bunny last year.  I prayed he wouldn't win anything like that again (once is enough!) and he proceeded to wander around the candy-filled room and fill a small paper bag half full of candy.  Here he is among the Tootsie Rolls, Nerds, Sweet Tarts, and more...

 
After that we were off to Craig's parents.  We hung out all afternoon with his brother's and cousin's families--lots of kids for Jacob to play with.  We actually kept the sports to a minimum for most of the time and Jacob stayed mostly out of trouble.  Considering he had a short, early nap, that was good for him.  We ate an obscene amount of food (so good) and ended up leaving during the second intermission of the Sabres game.  We made a stop at Craig's aunt and uncle's house, though we had missed most of the rest of the family since we were there considerably later than scheduled.  Still, we wanted to stop.  We had a little more food there, enjoyed hanging out for a few hours, and headed out much later than scheduled.  We didn't get home until nearly 10:30 (and yes, Jacob slept the whole time), but the long, busy day was worth it to have a good day with the family. 

So, all in all, Easter was a success.  We're still recovering a bit, but I have plenty to keep me busy at work this week and have a nice long weekend to look forward to again next weekend.  More on that soon...but first, I'm sure you'll be waiting with baited breath to hear about Jacob's first trip to Chuck E. Cheese...


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday Conundrum

I alluded to this a while back, I think, but I find the concept of explaining death to Jacob very difficult.  Obviously when my aunt died over a month ago, not a lot of explanation was necessary.  Jacob never had to come to the funeral or anything like that, and really all he knew was that I was gone for a couple days.  I did mention that people were sad, but I just couldn't really get into it beyond that.

On one hand, death is part of life.  It happens.  And as much as I don't want him to be exposed to it anytime soon, I know that some day it will happen and we'll be tasked with the challenge of explaining it to him as gently as possible.  Death is sad because it's a loss.  Someone is no longer with us, and we will miss them.  The good news is that as Christians, we have a happy ending--that the one we've lost has gone on ahead to heaven.  They're happy there, and someday far in the future we'll see them again.  I don't know about you, but I like happy endings. 

On the other hand, Jacob is so young and so innocent.  I feel like it's almost cruel to even broach the topic with him.  It's far too complex for him at this point, and there's just no need for him to experience true sadness at this early stage of his life.  And yet, there are times when it comes up.  Maybe it's as simple as something on a TV show, or in the context of an animal's passing, or something else along those lines.  Sometimes I feel like he should have some concept of it, or that at the very least we shouldn't entirely shelter him from it, because some day he will have to deal with it and I'd hate for it to be such an unexpected blow--more than it would have been with some background knowledge, at least. 

Lately there's been a couple things that have had me thinking about it.  I mentioned here the other day about the book I was reading, "Two Kisses for Maddy".  I just finished it a few minutes ago, actually, and just reading about how the author has had to ease his daughter into understanding her mother's death definitely makes you think.  I mean, that little girl had no idea that her mother died, and not having known her at all, still has only a partial concept of what happened and what's missing from her life.  She's aware of her mother, knows she isn't around, but just doesn't get the full scope of what happened.  Her father's girlfriend fills the practical void of her mother, but obviously there will be a lot of explanations and discussions for many years to come as she truly begins to understand what happened.  Still, death will always shape her world.  But the thought of having to explain death to Jacob just boggles my mind, and frankly I'm so happy we haven't had to yet.  That could change in an instant, I know, but God willing we'll have a lot more time.

The second thing that's made me think about it is the Easter season.  Obviously Jacob isn't that aware of the whole Lent thing, really, but last night we went to my parents' church's Good Friday service.  At its core, Good Friday is about death.  It's a sad day, particularly if you don't know the happy ending that's coming on Sunday.  Jacob has an Easter book that he got last year in his basket from my parents, and we've read it a few times in the past few weeks.  It mentions Jesus' death in very simple terms, and obviously talks about the resurrection and why Easter is so special.  I haven't dived any deeper into the death discussion when we hit that part of the book, but I sometimes wonder if Jacob gets it at all.  Anyway, during the service last night, the church got progressively darker.  It was a beautiful service that had many good, thought-provoking parts.  My favorite is when we walk up to the front with red "sin strips" (just a long strip of red cloth) and hang them over the large wooden cross.  After we're done, the black-draped cross is stood up, and the red cords hang down like blood--in a pretty, non-gory way.  Even Jacob participated this year.  But by the end he was asking about why it was dark, and my mom explained to him that Jesus died.  Later when Jacob asked about the darkness, he answered his own question, saying that it was because Jesus died (or, "dived", depending on the moment) and that it was sad.  It was so sweet and so innocent.  Obviously it's a big concept for a little boy, but for now, I think that's just right. 

We've prepped him for Sunday, saying how everything is going to be bright and happy because Jesus will be alive again.  And again, I am grateful for the happy ending.  But unfortunately, the real-life journey from death to life for us earthly humans is a heck of a lot longer than three days, and I do worry just a little about the first real death we'll face.  Will Jacob be expecting a miraculous resurrection then too?  How will we explain the difference between Jesus and us without souring him to this earthly life for good?  You can't protect your kids forever, but it's darn tempting to try. 

In the Bible we're told to not worry about tomorrow.  Today has worries of its own, and God's got the rest under control.  So, I'm not obsessing about this at all right now, but it's definitely been something to think about lately.  I'll worry about it for real when the time comes, but for now I'll appreciate the happy ending, for more reasons than one.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Traditions

Easter is probably second only to Christmas in the amount of holiday traditions I remember as a kid.  Halloween is probably a close third, but Easter has long been one of my favorite holidays for so many reasons.  The fact that it usually falls in close proximity to spring is probably one of the top reasons, though this year that's a hollow concept since it snowed yet again this morning.  While I'm grateful none of it is sticking, the mere fact that it's cold enough to snow is just depressing.  Spring's been here for a month already, and we have very little to show for it other than some daffodils and greener grass.  A handful of trees only have the tiniest of leaves, and we're still mostly wearing winter coats.  I haven't even been able to take pictures of my pretty daffodils because I never want to be outside fumbling with my camera with cold hands.  It's a far cry from last year where it was in the 80s for most of Easter weekend, despite the fact it fell three weeks earlier.  Leaves popped out that weekend, making them nearly a month early.  That was crazy and I'm not asking for that.  But I fully expected we could ditch the winter coats by this year's late Easter...but no such luck.  It's getting really depressing, for all of us.

Still, I love a lot of things about Easter.  I love the flowers, the fun of Easter eggs and Easter baskets, the chocolate, the music at church, and even the melancholy day that is Good Friday.  Heck, as a kid I even liked the mall Easter Bunny better than Santa.  Perhaps Easter has always been a bright spot at the end of a 40-day long dark tunnel.  When I was younger our church was always very serious about Lent.  Wednesday church services, church every night of Holy Week, no weddings, and a generally non-perky set of hymns at each service...though ironically we were never encouraged to give anything up for Lent, nor did we do ashes on Ash Wednesday.  We must have considered those reserved for Catholics.  But on Easter Sunday?  Well, the church was brighter than ever, full of flowers and a huge white cross, and the music was absolutely wonderful--loud, enthusiastic, rich, and full of the great redeeming message of Easter.  We had an unfortunate early wakeup on Easter for the 6:30am Sunrise service, which always seemed to coincide with daylight savings and loss of an hour of sleep, but once I was there and starting to wake up, it was always so beautiful.  And thanks to a less strenuous schedule on Easter as compared to Christmas, I could actually go home at some point at take a well-needed nap.  There was still plenty of family time and fun activities--usually breakfast with one side of the family and a smorgasbord with the other later in the day--but more downtime.  Ahhh.

Easter weekend was generally a good time.  It helped that I usually had off from school starting Thursday, and from there on there was a lot of time spent at church--Maundy Thursday evening for a communion service that served as a reunion for our confirmation class, then Friday morning for the children's Good Friday service.  We usually went to that one because it was simple, memorable, and well, it was tradition.  The new confirmands ran most of the service (always an interesting element) and the sermon always consisted of a set of props illustrating some of the torture Jesus went through prior to the actual crucifixion.  It did the trick, and it made Good Friday a good day for reflection.  Good Friday evening we'd generally go to my grandparents' house for an old German tradition, prunes & noodles, that my grandma always spearheaded.  I didn't start eating it until just a few years ago, when my cousin Lori made sure the tradition continued.  Now I do enjoy it (minus the stewed plums--just noodles, croutons, and maybe a little of the juice or some Parmesan)...but truly, any excuse to hang out with the fam. 

Usually somewhere during the weekend we'd dye Easter eggs, which I always loved.  It was always a challenge to get the best colors, and we always did old-school vinegar and food coloring, rather than the store-bought kits.  I didn't really start getting interested in the store-bought kits until I started helping with our church's Easter breakfast setup.  My mom and I would go on Saturday to help set up, and my favorite tasks were setting out baskets of mini cereal boxes and colored eggs.  I also enjoyed the added benefits of coffee cake crumbs, disconnected grapes, and a selection of donuts, but I digress.  I loved seeing the cartons of eggs everyone would bring in, full of colorful and creative eggs.  We'd sometimes color ours with white crayons before dyeing, but some people used stickers, wraps, and all sorts of crazy colors.  Their colors were so vivid!  But now that I'm an adult and will be dyeing eggs with my child in the coming years (not brave enough this year), I think we'll go old-school.  If everyone's got the crazy colors, aren't the old-school ones more special now?  But maybe I'll indulge my inner child once and do the store-bought stuff...

Usually somewhere in the week or so before Easter I'd do an Easter egg hunt or two.  Our family used to do one with all the cousins, and for years church did one, too.  I haven't done a real Easter egg hunt in ages, though.  My mom did one for Jacob and a little girl down the street last year, which Jacob totally bailed on, and then their church did an Easter egg free-for-all (not so much a hunt as it was just eggs and candy scattered everywhere) after church, in which Jacob was lucky enough to win a giant blue bunny.  Nothing so far this year, but we'll see.  I always felt so inferior at Easter egg hunts--slower, less creative a looker than others--but the haul of candy and goodies was always fun.  And I will always remember winning the one little stuffed bunny at our family one.  My prized possession for a long time!

Easter morning we'd always do an Easter egg hunt around our house.  Usually we'd try to get it in before church and find our Easter baskets hidden in any number of creative spots around the house.  It could be so frustrating to find them, but such a great victory in the end.  Usually my pink basket was full of Platters chocolate (yum!), and some other varied candies--jelly beans, robin eggs, etc.  And usually there was one little treat, be it a few bucks in an egg or some special gift...nothing big, but usually fun!  Even when I was older, my mom would bag up our candy into baggies for us to take with us back to college or home.  So sweet :) 

As far as Jacob is concerned, I have a feeling most Easter mornings will be spent like Christmas--on the road--but maybe one of these years we'll get in the habit of doing a little hunt in one place or another.  I'm not sure when it will actually be worthwhile, though.  Jacob is a different sort of kid, for starters.  Also, I had the benefit of being the second child so most of our holiday traditions and activities were already in place for John by the time I was old enough to know.  I've always grown up with them but now have no idea when it'll be appropriate for Jacob. 

Our weekend will probably be pretty similar otherwise.  Church Friday night, and Sunday morning, and a yummy Easter breakfast at church with my parents before heading out to Craig's side of the family for a couple stops.  Busier than my childhood for sure, but it will be nice to see everyone.  We are also planning on visiting the Broadway Market in Buffalo tomorrow, an Easter tradition for many Buffalonians, but one neither of us has participated in in years.  It should be interesting, and who knows?  Maybe it'll be a new tradition for us, too.  I still have to survive a good workout, cooking dinner, and lots of packing before the fun can begin, though.  Wish us luck...and Happy Easter :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Randoms

So, it ended up being a pretty low key weekend.  Craig was on the road from Friday to Sunday, so Jacob and I were solo.  I was fine with that, since I knew we had a couple busy weekends coming up with Easter and other things, and I thought I could take the opportunity to clean my house or be otherwise productive.  Well, the otherwise productive part worked out pretty well.  Between Jacob's naps on Saturday and Sunday I managed to take down the wallpaper border from Jacob's future bedroom, which he will move into at some point when baby #2 is actually a reality.  So, no, despite my worst fears, he will not have to live with butterflies on his walls.  Of course, after surviving a couple years in a purple room, what's a few girly insects?  It wasn't exactly fun, but it wasn't complete torture, either.  I need to get back in there armed with some vinegar and a good scrubby sponge to remove all remnants of the glue, but it's passable right now.  Of course, we still need to get around to recarpeting it.  The green carpet that's in there isn't horrible, but it's lumpy and doesn't really go with what I expect will be a hard-core boy room of blues and reds.  One of these days...as with most things.  I also spent part of Sunday's nap doing a little craft project to create an Easter-themed centerpiece for my dining room table.  It was moderately successful. 

Saturday evening we went out to the mall with Lori.  We wandered around, looked at a handful of things (sandals and belts for Jacob, primarily), and grabbed some dinner.  Jacob was begging to go on the carousel, and since he'd been a good boy and he ate his dinner relatively peacefully, we went (it's only a buck).  We decided to go up to the second tier of it, and Jacob picked a horse. 
This picture was taken moments before he sort of freaked out.  I don't know what it was, but he ended up crying with the saddest pouty expression for most of the ride.  I have no idea if he'd forgotten the motion or didn't like being up that high, but he was not happy.  I did my best to keep him calm until the ride was over, and while he was a good sport about it later, he did keep saying that it was scary.  Poor kid.  So, this begs the question, how long until he's begging to ride one again? :)

Sunday he was reasonably well-behaved through church and our trip to the craft store, enough so that we took a quick trip to the pet store next door to walk around and see the animals there.  It's mostly cats, rodents, and fish, but people do bring their dogs in and there's usually some getting groomed, so it's a fun little diversion.  Other than that, Jacob played and napped relatively well the whole weekend.  The weather stunk, so it made for a lot of indoor time, but overall it was a decent weekend.

Here's a picture Craig sent me from when he and Jacob were playing outside last week...and yes, it was cold, but they still went out.  He is such a goof ball.

In other news...Last week I found out that a book I had been interested in reading was newly available at our local library.  I was determined to get there and check it out before anyone else, so I arranged with Craig that he would pick up Jacob and I would run to the library after work.  I can take Jacob to the library, and I will, but sometimes it's just so much easier to go alone!  I did manage to get the book--along with four for Jacob--so it was a successful trip.  The book I'm reading is called, "Two Kisses for Maddy" by Matt Logelin.  It's the story of a guy whose wife died 27 hours after giving birth to their daughter.  She had a pulmonary embolism and there was nothing that could be done.  The book starts out as their love story, then transitions into how he begins to cope with the loss and figure out how to care for a newborn on his own.  Each one of those tasks on its own is daunting enough.  I can't imagine doing them simultaneously.  I'm just getting to the third part now, where he creates a foundation to honor his wife that helps other widowed parents.  It's truly an amazing story (one that I've followed via his blog for the last three years--his daughter is three months older than Jacob), and it gives you a new appreciation for a healthy pregnancy and birth, not to mention the luxury of a two-parent household.  I can't even fathom going through what he did, but it makes reading such a sad story just a little easier knowing the "happy ending"--that he's found love again and has done an amazing job raising Madeline.  She's the spitting image of her mother, too.  And now, of course, he's written this amazing book, which is the icing on the cake.  It doesn't make his loss any less painful, of course, but it is quite the story.  And mind you, I don't read a lot, so the mere fact that I'm reading any book is a good sign. 

As I mentioned, I got Jacob four books while I was there.  I got him this weird baseball one, that details all of the little things that go on in a baseball stadium on game day.  It actually reminds me of my days as a Buffalo Bisons intern, and it's probably a little over his head, but Jacob is remarkably smart when it comes to sports stuff.  I got him a silly one about a rhino with an itch, since he's gearing up for the Rochester Rhinos soccer season.  I then decided to get a little sneaky, since potty training has not been going well.  I got one book called "Dinosaurs Love Underpants", which is about how dinosaurs' love of underwear saved mankind.  I also got this one called "Have You Seen My Potty?", which is about a group of farm animals that steal a little girl's potty and discover the joy of pooping in a pot.  Of course, in the meantime the little girl has nowhere to do her business.  It's a cute book and Jacob really likes it.  And I really like that the library gives us a break from the many books we own and have read over and over again.  Who knew? :)

Despite those last two books and my strategy switch from the potty chart to jellybeans this weekend, Jacob is still no more enthused about potty training.  He's still professing his interest in big boy underwear and his ultimate potty prize, a lacrosse net, but he can't seem to make the connection that he actually has to use the potty all the time to get those things.  Let's just hope he gets into it soon, because right now it's going nowhere.  He CAN go on the potty, he just chooses not to.  What's still not clear is whether he's physically capable of consciously stopping himself when he does have to go.  We've been at this for a year now (as looking back in the blog reminded me), so I'm starting to get a little impatient. 

I'm also getting a little impatient with the weather.  It's just been miserable.  It's been cold, it's snowed the past few days, it was windy over the weekend, and it's been just plain blah.  Definitely not the spring we'd like to be seeing.  I've felt like it's stunted the flowers a bit, and I just wish the trees would finally go green.  I've been so cold all week, and I's just dying for warmth...along with everyone else.  The waiting is killing everyone around here.  Jacob is patiently waiting for the weather to get nice.  He wants to play outside in the worst way, and I'm afraid that the house is going to start bearing the brunt of the energy he's just dying to get out.  He's been running up and down the living room floor, shooting lacrosse balls all the time.  He's so ready to be outside, and I can't wait to see him in his element.  On top of that, he wants to go to a baseball game in the worst way. We've told him that it needs to be warm and sunny, but so far we've pretty much only had one or the other, and neither of those have happened very often.  But when we do get days with one or the other, he points it out, and then notes (a bit dejectedly) that it's not the other.  "It's sunny, Mommy!  But it's not warm out."  Cue sad face.  One of these days it'll get nice.  It has to.  And it can't come soon enough.  

I'm sure there was more I was going to share, but this is enough for tonight... 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Déjà Vu

So remember the other day when I mentioned that my co-worker's wife was due pretty much any minute?  She'd had a false alarm late last week and I saw on Facebook last night that they were back at the hospital for the real thing.  This morning when I got into work I saw the unofficial announcement of his son's birth via his status update, and later in the morning he sent an email out to the office with a link to the pictures he had just posted on Facebook (which I eventually would have seen anyway).  With it he mentioned that his son was having a bit of a rough start due to breathing issues and some fluid on the lungs.  Sound familiar?  As I was reading it I felt like it was nearly verbatim what I wrote just about 34 months ago (two days shy).  Of course, their situation may be a little worse as they actually transferred their baby over to another hospital for observation, which sucks big time as I'm not sure how soon the mother will be discharged to be able to be with him.  God knows our situation threw me off enough...I can't imagine what would have happened had he actually been in a different hospital altogether.

What really surprised me, though, was that I had an emotional reaction to the pictures he posted.  Like, I actually got a little misty.  The reason?  His pictures looked a heck of a lot like a certain set of pictures in my own album.  Down to minute details like the belly button clamp, the types of wires connected to his child, and the stains on the blanket next to him.  Just in case you need a refresher, here's Jacob about 17 hours after his birth... 



This one's never been posted here before, but it gives you a better idea of the overall view... 
See those little brown stains on the blanket closest to the bottom of the picture?  My co-worker's pictures had the same ones.  I have no idea what they are from.  Antiseptic?
I never posted this one before either, because it wasn't actually from my camera and I didn't manage to get it until later, but here's Jacob in his "space helmet".

I never expected to get misty looking at pictures of someone else's baby, at least not in a scenario like this.  Family?  Sure.  Close friends?  Of course.  But a run-of-the-mill co-worker?  Not so much.  But his pictures just took me right back and it totally caught me off-guard. 

Interestingly, this is the second friend that I'm aware of whose baby went through this.  I had never heard of it before Jacob, but have now heard about it a bit since.  I don't know if it's because childbirth class and other sources generally provide two potential scenarios when you go through childbirth class--that your baby is going to be normal and perfect, or that the baby will swallow meconium (in-utero poop) and will need special care.  They never talk about the super-worst-case scenarios (and you know, I suppose that's wise given an audience of hormonal pregnant women who have enough to worry about), nor do they talk about the mild problems like this one.  I just don't recall them mentioning that your baby may aspirate amniotic fluid, won't breathe well, and will need a full course of antibiotics before they can go home.  And while I know these cases may be rare, they're at least common enough to pop up three times in the past three years in my admittedly small social circle.  So, gee, maybe it would be worth mentioning.

I didn't feel like I was particularly scarred from the experience, though as time has gone on and I have a little more perspective on the whole thing, I realize just how crazy everything was and that I ended up missing out on a lot.  For starters, the fact that my first real (post-delivery) pictures of Jacob were at about 7pm that night is just sad.  I know that I went to see him earlier than that because I saw the space helmet with my own eyes (and that's my hand in the picture), but I seriously should have spent far more time with him that day.  I don't know if I was just too sore and tired, or if I was so thrown off by what was happening that I didn't know or think to ask when I could go see him, or what.  It seems like my time with him those first few days was limited to when I was nursing, which is sort of sad.  I certainly didn't feel very bonded with him early on since the nurses were doing most of the diaper changes and some of the feedings.  I felt like they knew him far better than me, and I felt a ton of guilt that a nurse had to catch that he wasn't doing well that first morning.  I know that they're trained for that stuff far more than a first-time mom, and I was in no physical condition to be hyper-attentive.  Heck, I remember panicking that first early morning when Jacob was crying because he was at the end of my bed in the bassinet, Craig was dead asleep and couldn't hear me calling to him, and I could barely move enough to get up and get either of them.  I don't even know how that resolved itself, but oh, that was not my finest motherhood moment.  But again, where was my brain and why didn't I just hit the call button for a nurse?

I won't even get into the insanity of my breakdown mid-week, or the formula vs. breast milk debate and accidental lack of naps that both contributed to it.  Obviously I was not in a clear frame of mind, but I have no idea if it was sleep deprivation, Jacob's problems, my physical state, or parenthood in general that was doing the most damage.  All I know is that my brain was clearly not functioning on high at that point.  That whole early time was spent in a fog, and I will be so curious next time around to see if experience provides any help in that situation. 

I think I've talked about this before, but the sheer fact we spent the first week in a hospital, in a relatively uncomfortable little room, seemed to steal a lot of the moments I feel like I've seen other people have.  For starters, we never had the first family picture in our hospital room, with me looking like crap, because Jacob was whisked away too soon.  But really, I'm mostly talking about the sweet photo shoots of a sleeping, wrinkly newborn on a cozy blanket in cute clothes (or nothing at all), or the calm moments of just staring at your sleeping baby in your arms.  I feel like having that rough week threw everything off, and by the time he was home I was just playing catch-up with everything--house stuff, sleep, getting to know my child, blogging (oops)--so much so that I just didn't enjoy it much.  I wasn't unhappy, just a bit utilitarian, I guess.  My photo shoots were centered around trying to get a perfect shot for his birth announcement.  Feedings were the only time I really held him for an extended period, both because they happened so darn frequently that a break was needed in between, and because I didn't want to spoil him (which, supposedly, can't happen...but the plethora of bloggers I've read who spent months with their baby in a sling or carrier makes me wonder).  I just didn't sit back and take it all in as often as I should have. 

And while I'd like to think I'll be smarter about it next time, there's no guarantee.  We might go through similar problems, for example.  If it happened once, it can happen again, but at the very least I hope it's no worse.  Also, we'll be caring for TWO kids at that point, which is even crazier to think about.  I might be just as deliriously tired and brutally sore as before and only have the energy to do the stuff I have to do.  Sad but true.  But that won't stop me from making a bunch of mental notes and psyching myself up for it so I have plenty of reminders that it's important. 

Next time I don't just want to survive, I want to excel.  I want to appreciate every moment and savor the small stuff, because it will seemingly be the last time around for it.  But I'm getting way ahead of myself.  The point of this post is that I never truly realized how much that time affected me until I teared up this morning.  Those moments came flying back quicker than I could have imagined.  But here we are today with an active, talented and curious little boy who's just two months shy of his third birthday.  We're blessed, plain and simple.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Getting Antsy...

I don't know how else to describe it. Lately I have just been antsy. And not necessarily in a bad way. It's a generally positive feeling of anticipation, and the desire to get up and do something about it. I feel distracted, like there are so many better ways to spend my time than sitting at my desk. And yes, all of this just brings up my everlasting desire to work part time--to still have this grown-up, brain-bending time a few times a week but get more time with my sweet little boy...or maybe even set aside a little time for myself. But alas, I spend most of my day sitting a desk, staring out the window at a lovely view--either dying to be out in the sun or bummed by yet another rainy, gray day.

I think the lovely weather last weekend definitely contributed to my condition, because it got me wishing for fun outdoor activities and the pure loveliness that comes with late spring-early summer around here. You know, that time before the weather is scorching and while the warmth and sun are still novelties. While I'm still dedicated to my work, I find myself wanting to be anywhere but there...frolicking somewhere out in the nice weather or just enjoying the rest of my life that I only see on weekends. There just aren't enough hours in the day, plain and simple. When I spend most of them at work, it doesn't leave much time for Craig or Jacob, let alone myself. Between commuting, dinner, Jacob's bedtime routine, and however I choose to spend the couple hours after that (blogging, coupon cutting, catching up on TV, reading), it makes for a busy day...and not enough time for sleeping on top of it. All of that just makes me wish I could change up our routine a bit and enjoy the good stuff a little more. I know I have weekends, but as I've mentioned here before, weekends are often taken up by doing all the errands and chores that I never get to during the week because I'm so tired in the evenings. That doesn't leave nearly enough time for the good stuff.

Lately, more than ever, I've been dreaming of vacation. I have 3-1/2 weeks of vacation to use, and it's starting to taunt me. Do I put it all into cool family time? Do I use some of it for myself? Do I take a couple days to get all the boring house stuff done that I've been putting off, like carpeting and carpet cleaning? While I've been thinking a bit about our summer family vacation, recently I've been salivating at the thought of Craig and me going away alone. I love Jacob so much, and part of me would miss seeing his face and knowing what he's up to every hour of every day...but another part of me desperately wants a break. A break from our routine, a break from being responsible every single minute, a chance to just get back to a time when it was just Craig and me. I wouldn't want to go back to that era permanently, obviously, but a little peek at the past would probably serve us very well. But coordinating everything, figuring out finances and time off, and making sure Jacob's taken care of, just seems like a lot. Not impossible, but intimidating...particularly for someone who has a problem making decisions.

Another element of the antsy-ness is a bit of anticipation...of what, I have no idea. Perhaps part of it is the weather and the aforementioned summer plans, but another part of it might actually be that I still associate this time of year with the end of my pregnancy (yes, I know it was THREE years ago--get over it already). At this point we were getting so close, going to baby classes, getting ready for showers, and starting to get nervous and excited. And every spring since, I've looked back fondly and remembered the crazy excitement we experienced. It probably doesn't hurt that I'm being inundated with baby news...finding out about pregnancies (at least three in the last week or so) and anticipating a number of births among friends of mine (well, Facebook friends, anyway), right down to the birth of a (male) co-worker's baby very soon (false alarm last night!)--a co-worker whose last baby was born exactly six weeks after Jacob.

In addition, baby #2 is slowly but surely creeping on our radar. Don't worry, nothing to report yet, but it's already getting to be time to start making plans and thinking about our desired timing. Despite no real change to the financial situation that dissuaded us from doing this last year, we're going to move forward at some point later this year. Four years is enough between kids, and we just need to make it happen. It'll be a short-term hardship for a long-term benefit. I'm starting to feel a lot more ready (more often than not--just don't ask me after a Jacob tantrum or a particularly long day), which is considerable progress from a while back. And with another year under our belt, that's one less year we'll be paying full double daycare. Better than two. Anyway, the mere thought of getting closer to that is enough to excite me...though the last thing I want to do is wish away my summer just so we can get to our targeted baby-making time. I have to keep reminding myself that there's plenty I can do in the meantime to start the wheels in motion...so we don't need to get to that point right NOW.

Spring is just a funny time of year. With the grass greening up, the flowers blooming, and the weather getting ever-so-slightly warmer, there's so much promise and so much newness all around us. Last year the warm weather came early, while we were still in post-move mode, and everything got exciting all at once...nice house, good weather, Easter, etc. This year there just isn't much. Easter is late, the weather's been so-so, and there are no big plans on the horizon for much of anything, other than the stuff I discussed above. I have great memories of springs past, like pregnancy, the end of the school year, random activities on surprisingly awesome spring days, and so on, so I guess I'll just have to anticipate fun based on past history...and hope that one of these days it will just pop up and make all of this antsy-ness worthwhile!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Potty Project

It's been a while since we made any attempts at big boy underwear. Despite the fact that Jacob CAN go on the potty, he just doesn't want to do it that often. We can suggest it, but he either says he doesn't have to go or he ends up sitting there forever, completely distracted, which is so annoying. I know I could just leave him there until he goes--and sometimes I do--but I don't trust him to just sit there and call me when he's done...so I live in fear of a trail of drips (or worse, droppings) as he gets up from the potty looking for me. We he does choose to sit, he chooses the most inopportune times--in the morning when we're in a rush, at bedtime, after bedtime. I really just need him to start understanding when he needs to go, and how to go on command when given the opportunity.

I don't want to make a big deal about it because I don't want him to rebel--because, trust me, he will--but he's rapidly approaching his third birthday. His third birthday has always been my potty training goal. If he hadn't figured it out by then, we'd have to resort to some hardcore training. But I'm starting to feel like all the training in the world isn't going to make a bit of difference if the subject isn't willing.

The perplexing thing is that he keeps insisting he wants big boy underwear and his big potty prize. And yet, he just doesn't seem to understand that he needs to work at it. No matter how many times we spell it out for him, we don't seem to get anywhere. We bring up his desire to be a big boy, and whenever we question it, he insists that he wants to be a big boy and sometimes even insists he needs to go potty right then and there. And sometimes he does. But it never goes anywhere.

Prior to this past weekend I told Jacob we could try big boy underwear again. We'd only tried it with a pull-up over previously (sorry, we have lots of carpeting), but I came up with a brilliant plan. We could put on his underwear, put on some sweatpants, and go play outside. I'd bring out his potty to keep in the garage, so he wouldn't even have to go inside to pee. He was very excited to get the underwear on, and we were outside for quite a while. I frequently asked him if he had to go, and he said no. At one point he was riding around on his big wheel, and he yelled to me that he needed new underwear. When I asked him why, he said, "I don't know," but as I walked closer, I saw a puddle below his big wheel. Ugh.

Just like the last time he was in big boy underwear, the wet spot in his underwear wasn't big or that soaked, but obviously there was enough to visibly leak out. I couldn't get an answer from him as to why he didn't go potty when I asked him, or why he didn't tell me he had to go, or why he peed in his underwear even though he knows he's not supposed to. I can't tell if he physically can't tell that he has to go, or if he doesn't care, or if he's doing it for attention. He laughs it off and won't talk to us about it when we ask.

He keeps asking to wear them again, but why would we bother? I had hoped that giving him the benefit of the doubt might produce a miracle--since he is smart and seems to know what he's doing--but no such luck. Other than a most-of-the-time willingness to use the potty when asked, we really haven't gotten anywhere...no dry mornings, no dry naps, very little voluntary use. He seems to have given up pooping in the potty (he insisted the other day that he couldn't go in the potty--and followed it up with two poopy diapers as proof), and it's all getting frustrating. I can't decide if it's a physical thing, a laziness/busyness thing, or some sort of power struggle. I do know that he's getting too big for his changing table and I'm sick of buying diapers.

I don't know what tactic to try next. Do I take time off and do the classic training with every 15 minutes on the potty and M&Ms as bribes? Do I let him run around naked in the yard next time it's nice and let him learn to dislike pee running down his legs? Even still, he can be so defiant that I can't see even the smallest victory sticking with us until he's ready to do it. Heck, he probably would have been content to sit in wet pants on Saturday if it meant staying outside. He doesn't seem phased by peer pressure, though he does talk about his underwear-wearing friends quite a bit. But there's still some disconnect somewhere--either that he doesn't realize he could be wearing big boy underwear, or that his friends had to work hard to wear underwear, or that peeing in the potty once does not a potty-trained child make--even though we're constantly explaining these exact things to him.

I'll admit that I find it hard to be super-consistent with him. Perhaps I should be asking him every 15 minutes all the time if he has to go potty, so he gets the concept that it has to be on his mind all the time. But even when we did try it over the weekeknd, it didn't work. He kept telling me no, and then proceeded to pee his pants despite a potty being 10 feet away. That lends credence to the fact that he might not be physically ready, but at what point do we need to talk to the doctor about it? I don't want to rush him, but I also don't want to get so lax about it that suddenly we're staring down age four and exploring the world of size six diapers. Not only don't I want that, but I'm sure daycare would be none too enthused as well. It's the age-old dilemma of parenthood--You want to allow your child to explore the world at their own pace and on their own terms, but they also need direction and leadership to ensure they stay on the right path. I don't want to push Jacob...but maybe that's what he needs.

So, yeah, I have no idea. I feel like we're wandering aimlessly in the land of potty training, and as any mother knows, if there's anything you want when dealing with potty matters, it's good aim. Which brings up another point--when do we let him stand?! Ugh, maybe I'm not so ready for this after all...

Monday, April 11, 2011

What I've Been Waiting For...(a.k.a. Post #600!)

We finally had a good weekend. A truly pleasant, fun-filled weekend where the majority of my time was NOT spent yelling and dragging. Oh, yes, that stuff happened, but not nearly to the degree that it had been periodically over the past weeks and months. There are always moments, but when the moments start taking over, it's pure torture. This weekend was not. His ear infection medication seemed to be doing at least some good, as his sleeping situation returned to normal. He stopped waking up early at daycare, and he slept through the night. He's still got his cough and runny nose, but I'm hoping that'll get cleared up in the next five days. Allergies might be bothering him, but he's already on Claritin so there isn't much more we can do there. But until what's coming out of his nose is exclusively clear, it's probably still ear infection-related drainage. We were on our own for the weekend because Craig was working. A lot. He had a hockey game Friday night, two lacrosse games Saturday, and was on the road for a lacrosse game Sunday...and if that wasn't enough, he was missing a hockey game Sunday, too. Our plan for the weekend was shopping Friday night, a birthday party Saturday afternoon, Knighthawks game Saturday night, and a hockey game Sunday night. Normally I don't do two games in a weekend, but both games were the home season finales for the teams, and we hadn't been to a hockey game in a couple months (oops). And whenever we weren't busy, we'd probably be aiming to be outside since the weather was looking promising.

Friday night wasn't too bad. We went to dinner right from daycare because I needed to do a big shopping trip and we had to get started ASAP. I went to a place I knew we both liked, a local place called Carmine's, but I knew it would be a bit of a challenge because it's always busy and seating is a bit of a free-for-all. But Jacob can eat there for 99 cents and it was right on the way. Jacob was very good about staying with me as we wandered around waiting for a table, and other than not eating great and standing up on the bench near the end, he was great. He was equally good during our shopping trip, which was huge because it involved a lot of random meandering around a Super Walmart to find a bunch of stuff that I'd had on a mental list for weeks. All in all it was very successful. I forgot to mention that I also had a little potty training trial on the agenda, which I'll get more into later, but Jacob was aware of it and was apparently very excited. While Craig and I were both preoccupied on Saturday morning, Jacob helped himself to his big boy underwear supply and Craig found him running around like this--note the red underwear.He had specifically requested to wear the red pair for our little trial, but unfortunately, he'd put them on wrong (leg hole as the waist) and he stretched them out. He later did it with another pair, too, when I wasn't looking. Oy.

He had a relatively good morning but I was concerned about how a noon birthday party would go, since he usually eats lunch around that time and is napping away by 1ish. Fortunately adrenaline seemed to do its job and he was fine. The party was at a place called Kango, a local play center we'd never been to before. They have a big crawl structure with slides, a big inflatable obstacle course, some games, and an area for roller skating/trike riding. You can see the crawl structure to the left, and the inflatable to the right. The rink area is in the back and the games were behind me.


Almost immediately Jacob was obsessed with the basketball game. I don't know if the setup of the place reminded him of the last party we went to like that (for his second cousin Emma), or what, but right away he saw it and knew what to do. That didn't stop me from trying to get him to go up into the crawl structure with the other kids. I practically dragged him up, pushed him through the tunnels and other assorted areas, and eventually got him to a slide. He practically refused to go down, but I think my argument that the quickest way back down (where he wanted to go) was via the slide won out and down we went. No idea why he was so freaked out...can toddlers be irrationally afraid of heights?

I was trying to hold out on shelling out money for games because I figured we'd probably get something for free later in the party, but I gave in after a while knowing thata few games would probably keep him sane until the official partying started. And yes, he LOVED the basketball game. And he was actually pretty good at it. Nearly as good as me, in fact. I was quicker, but his accuracy was nearly as good as mine. We made a good team and racked up quite a few tickets, actually.After a few rounds, we headed into the party room for pizza and cake. Jacob ate ridiculously well, without much help at all. He ate an entire slice of pizza and a piece of cake, leaving nearly nothing behind. He was so cute. Here he is (end of the table), and two of the girls from his original daycare class are to the right. The birthday girl is in purple. You may remember her from last year's party.
The kids are all so big now! There were two others there from his class that I hadn't seen since the old daycare closed, so it was fun to see them all grown up! Sad that the ones that are no longer together don't really remember each other anymore.

After lunch and cake, we ventured back out to use up both our game card and the free one we got as part of the party. Lots of basketball and a few other games later, we had over 100 tickets and I was refusing any further attempts Jacob made to convince me to play more. Fortunately, just then out of the corner of my eye I saw that the roller skating light had been turned on. When I saw that this was something this place offered, I was intrigued. I mentioned it to Jacob and then he kept asking about it, though I had no idea if it was something he could do or if they'd be offering it that day. Turns out it was a rotation (maybe a half hour at a time) between roller skating and trikes. We headed over and got his skates (Fisher-Price roller blades) and a helmet. I flashed back to the days of my youth, going to roller skating parties with the rest of my school, and agonizing over my complete inability to skate well. I have a scar on my forehead to prove it, and my mom has an injured thumb that required a cast after we fell holding hands. Oops. Boys never asked me to skate, either, which was a bummer...but on this particular day, I had a boy that didn't want to let go :)

Here he is pretending he's a referee...doing his usual arm swinging motion...
He did fairly well but did go down a few times. I'll post a video later. He was relatively unscathed, though, and seemed to love the concept of skating like a hockey guy (well, sort of). Eventually the trikes became more interesting and it was about that time that things switched over anyway. And seriously, this picture cracks me up because of his shirt...too perfect :)
He attempted to use pedals a bit but never really got the hang of it. But still, he had fun. After that he was starting to get a little testy and it was long past naptime anyway, so we headed out. He picked out a pool ball keychain with his tickets (he's liked pool balls ever since some of his potty stickers featured them), and we headed out into the lovely weather to go home. He fell asleep on the way, but only ended up sleeping about an hour and a half. Ugh. Not what I was looking for considering we had some outside play and a Knighthawks game coming up.

Still, we went outside and also commenced our potty training trial. That didn't go so well, but more on that in another post. Anyway, here's Jacob playing, wearing a batting helmet, playing lacrosse, and using his hockey net turned on its side because it looks more like a lacrosse net that way, apparently. Oh, and he's not wearing a diaper there, by the way.

Showing off his shot...

It was a nice day to be outside (I also did yard clean-up while he was napping), and shortly after my parents arrived from a day of geocaching with friends on the other side of town. We headed out to meet the friends for dinner and the Knighthawks game. It was a great game, though Jacob fell asleep with a few minutes left. He woke up on the way out, but all things considered did well with bedtime at home.

With Craig on the road in Philadelphia on Sunday, I didn't rush us out of bed. We aimed for the 11:15 church service, and other than a couple brief moments, things went relatively well. We headed home for lunch and nap, and by the time Jacob finally fell asleep, it was nearly 2pm. I took a nap as well, and neither of us woke up until after 4:30. And we had an Amerks game to go to at 5pm. Oops. But obviously the nap was needed for both of us and we headed out, albeit a little late, to the last game of the season.

It seems like not that long ago that I was telling Jacob on a nearly daily basis that hockey season would be starting when the trees turned colors, and now here we are at the end of the season. No playoffs for the Amerks this year, so Sunday was it. We had a very nice time, although the corner full of knee hockey kids was a little exclusive and then Jacob was trying to fight me (like a hockey guy) at one point when I let him play with his puck and stick when we were hanging out in the production booth talking to a friend. But still, we had a pleasant night. I just felt bad that we didn't have time to play outside in the amazing weather. Still, the walk to and from the car was awesome and much enjoyed after a long season of cold, snowy, windy sprints from the lot to the arena and back with a 30-pound weight in my arms.

All in all it was a pleasant weekend. It was a shame that Craig wasn't here to enjoy it, but we managed. And we'll get to do it all over again next weekend since Craig is back on the road. I'm just so grateful that we had a good one this time around, because it should be enough to keep me positive for at least a bit as we head into another Craig-less weekend. No more games or parties to go to this time around, but I'm sure we'll fill the time. We may have one visitor for a bit, and I'm hoping the weather report improves, because that would be hugely helpful. This whole weekend was a nice reminder that we can be functional and that Jacob can be an awesome little boy. Let's hope it continues...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Golf!

As promised, here are a couple videos from Jacob's first attempt at golf. The first one was one of his first shots...
video


Sorry that this one is turned...I was taking pictures and forgot to flip my camera back to horizontal. I can flip it if I post it on Facebook, but not here as far as I can tell. Sorry for anyone who gets a kink in their neck turning to watch, but Jacob hits a really good shot here so it might be worth it :) Hard to see, but the ball ends up just a couple feet from the deck.
video


Not much to report this week. Jacob was still pretty testy yesterday and has been waking up after a very short naptime (like, a half hour--a third of what I normally consider the minimum necessary naptime) and being a menace to his teachers. He'll throw things, yell, wake up his friends, and be generally difficult. I don't enjoy having one un-napped child, so I can only imagine the pain of having up to ten. I get that Jacob hasn't been feeling well and that sometimes his cough wakes him up early. And we're certainly paying daycare enough to figure out a solution for when this happens, but I feel bad that there's nothing we can do about it. They left a note yesterday to talk to him about it, but that never seems to work. Anytime we talk to him about something important, he clams up, avoids eye contact, and gets otherwise distracted, so it's hard to impart important information because he's quite literally blocking us out. It is incredibly frustrating. The Supernanny book I was reading said that times of illness aren't the best times to discipline, but obviously this can't go unnoticed. It's a very tough balance. However, he should be feeling better after a day or two on the antibiotics, so his grace period is rapidly coming to an end. We put him to bed quite early last night, and he seemed to fall asleep very quickly. He slept through for the first time in a few nights, and I had to wake him up at the very last minute this morning. I'm hoping that a good night's sleep did him good and he was at least tolerable today. He's had a couple days with just one or two stickers, so I'm definitely hoping for more. He has yet to get them all, and the listening one has been especially elusive. I really hope he starts feeling better soon because we have a long weekend ahead of us where it's just the two of us, thanks to Craig's beyond busy schedule. The weather is looking better, so that should help. We also have a birthday party to go to and a couple games, as well. We have the last Knighthawks and Amerks' regular season home games, and while I normally I don't do both in a weekend, we haven't been to a hockey game since February so I think we're due. Undoubtedly it'll go quick, but bad behavior can ruin almost anything, as we know all too well. Should be interesting...