Monday, May 30, 2011

The rest of the story...

When I went to check in on Jacob after he'd been in bed a good hour or so after his early bedtime, he sort of indicated that when he woke up in the morning, he would listen.  To test out that notion, I told Jacob that he could earn back his sticks if he was good at church.  Church has been a tough place for us, so I figured that if we could pull it off, it was a win-win.  And sure enough, he did well.  He had some moments, but unlike a lot of times, when I talked to him about the things he was attempting to do, he stopped.  Miracles happen. 

After lunch and nap, we headed off to my aunt and uncle's house here in town for a Memorial Day picnic.  My parents were there and we had a very nice time.  The food was great, the company was enjoyable, and Jacob exhausted himself playing with his cousins and my parents.  Here's a shot of Jacob "making a shot", with a little help from Uncle Mark!
 He was super cute trying to play basketball (among other sports)...


He went down quickly once we got home, and I spent part of the evening finally starting the one big project I wanted to do while Craig was gone--photographing and sorting Jacob's artwork.  I only got through a portion of it, but it went well as far as I can tell.  I photographed all of them, pulled out a bunch that would be good candidates for my framing project, and sorted out a batch that can be tossed.  Not many...mostly coloring book pages and anything unidentifiable.  The evening ended with a nasty thunderstorm, but thankfully, the frightening gusts of wind didn't do any damage and the frequent thunder and lightning didn't wake Jacob up.

This morning Craig called and let us know he was on the way home from Buffalo...finally!  It was so nice to see him finally walk in the door!  Shortly after he got in, he showed Jacob the souvenirs he brought him--a Czech t-shirt, a little Czech hockey guy to add to his collection, and a tiny little Czech jersey that's technically a window hanging but should fit one of his stuffed animals perfectly.
 And here's a picture of Craig's bronze medal as part of Team USA...
 After lunch and nap we headed off to visit friends and watch the NCAA Division I Lacrosse Championship.  Yesterday Craig's cousin Lucas won the Division II Championship with the Mercyhurst Lakers, Craig's alma mater.  The team is also coached by one of Craig's groomsmen at our wedding, so it's awesome that they won.  While we were there, Jacob unearthed a hockey helmet from the pile of toys.  He loved it, of course.
I just missed getting a picture of him in a Star Wars storm trooper helmet.  That was funnier, but this was cute.

Mr. Serious, hockey stick in hand.
All in all, it was a nice weekend, but they're never long enough.  It's been a crazy week and a half, and I think we're all exhausted.  Between Craig's travel and the time change, a busy week on this end, and the general letdown after it all, I think we could all use more time to recover.  We did what we could to make up for lost time today, and hopefully we'll have a little time this week before our busy summer weekends really get going.  But we're happy to have Craig home and it will be nice to get things back to normal.  As long of a week as it was, I think it went more quickly than I expected, and save for a couple really challenging periods, it was a nice time to bond with Jacob.  But I will gladly welcome Craig back and look forward to once again having backup and support, both physically and emotionally.  That, my friends, is huge.  And now, let the summer begin :)

Keeping Busy

Before I get too far into this post, you'll be happy to know that Craig is home, safe and sound.  It's been a long, busy week, and we're very happy to have him home.

Before that, however, we spent a lot of time just trying to keep busy...not that we needed a lot of help considering that our schedule is normally full enough!  As I mentioned, we had a picnic on Wednesday night.  It was a cool but pleasant night, and we had a really nice time eating out in the yard.  And yes, Jacob insisted on wearing his fireman helmet!

Friday I managed to get a little time to myself, which was much appreciated in the midst of over a week of being on call full time.  My boss sent me home early, so I had a couple hours to do whatever I wanted before it was time to pick Jacob up.  Of course, I could have gone and picked him up early, but considering the circumstances, I figured it would be better to get some alone time and pick him up feeling a bit more refreshed.  So, I went to Old Navy, which was having a great sale, and got six things (including a pair of my favorite jeans!) for $35...not bad!

Saturday we had a pleasant morning and early afternoon, and Jacob spent much of it running around looking like this:
The glasses are Handy Manny ones he got in some birthday goodie bag...never really enjoyed until now!
After his nap and squaring up with the neighbor who mowed our lawn while Craig was gone, we were (finally) off to the zoo!  It was a beautiful day for it, particularly since the day before was so cold (hence the jeans in the picture above--our house was freezing until the sun warmed it on Saturday!).  It was a lovely day for a walk, and we had fun seeing all the animals.  We saw the orangutans eat, the big tortoises, birds, frogs, snakes (which Jacob liked this time!), alligators, rhinos, and one of the polar bears.  We finally saw an otter on exhibit (usually the one they've had for years isn't visible when we're there, but there are now two more and one was out), and Jacob loved when it swam right up to where he was standing (on the other side of the glass, of course).  We saw a tiger eating a big hunk of meat, and caught just a glimpse of the penguins before they went off display for the night.  Most of them came right to the zookeeper when she called, a few hung back for a couple minutes, and one begrudgingly hid in a hole until the zookeeper came out to find it!  Here are a few pictures of the day:
Cute picture when we were looking at the small tortoises...

Face to face!

They just put in this little play area, and Jacob loved it!  Playing drums on the turtle...

And more on the alligator...

And saying hi to the alligator--that's his snout!
After the zoo we stopped at the playground on the road out.  Jacob had fun even though there were some bigger kids running amok.  He's still got a bit of a slide phobia, but he did well climbing.  We went to KFC for dinner, since he usually loves it there, and about halfway through the meal, evil Jacob came back--the same one that tortured me last Sunday.  We had to go to Wegmans after dinner, and his behavior was so appalling that I not only took away all his sticks, but put him in bed at 7:30 (waaaay earlier than usual) because I had no other recourse.  And rather than torture myself and risk totally freaking out on him, it seemed like my only option.  He stayed awake until his normal bedtime anyway, but he definitely seemed to get the message based on our Sunday...which I'll post more about soon!  Happy Memorial Day! 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Progress Report

Well, we're through the week full of weekdays without Craig.  Just a couple more weekend days and we should have him home.  I have a feeling that it will take a while before he is functioning normally, however, because his schedule has been pretty crazy over there.  He's up late at night, which technically means that he'll have fewer hours to readjust when he comes back, but he's also not sleeping a ton which could be a problem considering he was already horribly tired before the trip.  We'll see.  But we're still here plugging away, looking forward to his return.

I'm not entirely sure how to describe this experience.  We miss him, of course.  But honestly, we've been so busy that there hasn't been a lot of time to dwell on it.  There's definitely a "hole" here or there, where I realize that something's missing.  Whether it's a good morning cuddle or some good conversation at dinner, an extra pair of hands or an extra brain to think through a problem, the "hole" may not be obvious...but after a while it occurs to me that subconsciously I'm craving those things.  I'll admit that the alone time in the evenings has been nice (though considerably busier than I expected), and I think I've slept more soundly in general in a bed by myself (though I have managed to stay on my side all along).  While those things are fine for a short period, I'm definitely looking forward to getting back to our regularly scheduled program.  I don't like not having backup.  I irrationally worry about what would happen to Jacob if something happened to me while Craig was gone.  On Tuesday when I was running, I thought about what would happen if I somehow became incapacitated mid-run.  I was franctically looking for a pen so I could fill out my emergency info on the back of my runner number.  Long story short, your mind screws with you.  It's been weird to not have an instant connection to Craig, particularly in this age of ever-present cell phones.  The time difference is a challenge as well.

As a whole I think I've done okay keeping sane despite Jacob's constant need to test me.  Sunday was bad but for the most part I've kept my cool.  I've yelled...a lot...but what else can I do when he just doesn't listen?  He doesn't like when I really yell loud (it's one of the few things that really upsets him), but once in a while when he is blatantly ignoring me, sometimes it has to come out.  But even when I've yelled, I try to be matter-of-fact about it ("If you'd listen the first time, I wouldn't have to yell.").  Someone has to be in control, right?  I try. 

As for my to do list that I came up with before the trip, here's how things stand:

1) We still haven't been to the zoo.  However, I am planning on going tomorrow as long as the weather holds up.

2) We went to the Lilac Fesitval.  It was a relatively short trip, but it was nice.

3) I've done pretty well with going to bed early.  I had one less-than-stellar night, but for the most part I've gone to bed somewhere between 10:30 and 11:00, which is a good hour or so earlier than usual.  Not bad.  However, I haven't really felt much of a difference.  I haven't had as many "imminent nod-off" moments at work as usual, but I can't say I feel too refreshed in the morning.  I suppose it could be a lot of other factors this week--the race, busy evenings of laundry and catching up on mail, TV, bills, dishes, etc.--but I suppose on a long term basis it could be the only way to "catch up" on the sleep I've lost over the past three years.

4)  We've tried one new food--zucchini--and tried one new application of a much-loved food--pizza made on a pita.  I made breaded zucchini and baked it as part of a meal earlier in the week, and Jacob seemed to like it.  He didn't eat much that meal as a whole, but a few zucchini spears did make it in.  Tonight I made pizzas on pitas, and that went over very well.  As a whole it's just hard to plan ahead, buy the food, and have the time to make new things when you're flying solo.

5) I still haven't sorted through Jacob's artwork.  I have been dying to do it, but hopefully tomorrow.  Tonight our house is cold from the surprisingly cold, rainy day today, and I don't want to turn on the heat so I'm snuggled under a blanket on the couch with a warm computer and a cold nose.   I really do want to get a good start on this, though.  I did, however, look at frames today at AC Moore.  I think shadow boxes might be too expensive but they did have cheap box frames like I was picturing.  I still need to see what kind of artwork we have to display before I settle on a type, though.

6) We did have a picnic.  The weather was pleasant on Wednesday evening so I packed up a wrap for me, a sandwich for Jacob, some string cheese for him, some other snacks for both of us, and some strawberries for dessert.  I put the food, our drinks, and a blanket in a big (non-picnic) basket, and we took a blanket out to the backyard.  We had a lovely little picnic.  I think I'll have a picture to post from it, but I haven't pulled it off the camera yet.  After that we went out to play with chalk, but that ended in disaster.  Not only did Jacob get cranky, but he peed in his big boy underwear for the first time after a few successful evenings of big boy underwear.  That's been followed by some poopy diapers, too.  Ugh.  What are the odds he'll be the one kid that goes to kindergarten without being potty trained?

7) I ran my race, and as documented in my last post, it was fantastic.  I'm now a little worried about a sore knee (only one) that feels like it's going to blow out every time I try to climb stairs or kneel on it, but I'm hoping it just needs a little rest.  Boo.

8) We haven't played with markers yet.  I'm still trying to work that into the schedule.

9) He hasn't gotten a high hoop.  I was going to bring his hoop outside Sunday, but then he ruined that and we just haven't had a good opportunity for it since. 

10) We've obviously been working on the potty training with mixed success, and I did go get the bedrail but have not had the guts to put it up.  I don't really want to tackle that alone.  I have a small enough reserve of patience, and most days Jacob has used a good portion of that up.  If I had to spend an entire precious evening going up and down stairs trying to keep him in bed, I think I'd lose it.  We'll be traveling again for at least part of next weekend, so hopefully the weekend after.  I think one week shy of three years in a crib is more than enough.

So, not too bad.  We still have a couple days to go, and those should be action-packed.  Hopefully the weather holds up and we can have a lot of fun.  Time has gone relatively fast, and I'm sure this three-day weekend will be much the same...not to mention the entire summer to come.  Here goes nothing...
  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nothing like a good run...

Last night was the Chase Corporate Challenge.  For those of you unaware, it's a series of 3.5 mile races around the world.  Here in Rochester it's a pretty big deal, with nearly 9,000 participants from hundreds of different companies and lots of post-race tent parties.  My office used to do it, and I ran it two years ago.  I wasn't much of a runner then but figured that I'd run as far as I could and then walk the rest.  Well, I somehow managed to run the whole thing.  To this day I'm not sure how, as I hadn't run more than a mile or so prior to that and it was downpouring rain the whole time.  However, adrenaline and distraction can do awesome things, I guess, and I ran the whole thing.  My time was officially just under 45 minutes, but it was really a bit less since it takes a while for the mass of people to move forward and get everyone to the starting line.  Last year my office decided not to do it and although I almost got a spot with the folks at my gym, it never worked out...so I ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill at the gym while everyone at the race got soaked...again.

In the past few months I've made a conscious effort to run, ultimately in preparation to run the race this year and do better than I did before.  To this day I'm amazed at how far I've come, that a woman who hated running her whole life can now run a mile or two relatively easily, and with much less pain and agony than I could have imagined.  I've done interval training (fast for a couple minutes, slow for a minute to recover, repeat), done inclines, and done lots of shorter runs...from a mile to two miles to nearly three on some runs outside.  Usually now I make time my goal, aiming for 30 minutes of good, solid cardio, in one form or another.  And really, it's a very empowering thing to see how far I've come and know what I can accomplish.

So this year, even though Craig was out of town, I was determined to run.  It only comes once a year, and I didn't want to miss it again.  I set up Lori to not only watch Jacob, but pick him up from daycare as well.  Fortunately he cooperated, and by all accounts they had a pleasant if not exhausting evening.  Meanwhile, I was battling traffic to get to the meeting point on time, couldn't find my group once I got there, hopped on one of the shuttles to the RIT campus, and wandered a bit until I found my group's tent out of sheer luck.  Admittedly, for a while I was nervous because there's a lot of people and a lot of tents, and I really wanted to leave my bag somewhere during the run.  And, you know, be with people I knew.  Even still, I only knew a few people that were running with the gym, but one of them was one of the instructors of my now-defunct instructor's challenge class.  I had avoided this instructor's class for a year after Jacob was born, because I didn't like the style and he was just too hardcore.  But eventually I gave in and went to a couple, and then suddenly I became the only person going to most of the classes, hence why it was canceled for the summer.  However, in the couple months' worth of classes where I was the only attendee and he was teaching, I grew to really enjoy his classes.  Maybe it was because he felt like he couldn't beat up on me when I was alone, or maybe being the only person made class a little more flexible.  But regardless, we went on some great runs and he put me through some grueling but awesome exercises.  And yesterday he was really happy to see me show up, because he wanted us to be running buddies!   He knew we paced each other very well in the runs we'd done during class, so it was a good fit for both of us.  He used to be a great runner--like six-minute-mile-great--but hasn't done much in the past few years.  But my 10-minute-mile pace that I was aiming for was good for him, so running buddies we were.

The weather was perfect--sunny and mid-60s--and while the start of the race is always slow while the crowd thins out, it turned into quite a tough run.  The first mile was pretty easy despite the one hill on the course, and I was excited that we hit the first mile in under 10 minutes (per my running buddy's watch, not the official clock since it does take so long to hit the starting line).  The next mile was tough but I think I hit a pretty good stride and I was ecstatic when we got to mile two and were still at a 10-minute-mile pace.  The third mile was torture for me, though, because I was starting to get a pain under my rib cage (tense muscles?) and I had forgotten where the mile marker should be...so it felt like it took forever to come!  But when we were still on track at that point, I was relieved and the end was in sight (but couldn't come soon enough!).  The last half mile was tough, but I gutted it out and we finished at 33:35 (35:03 by the official clock--meaning it took a minute and a half for the crowd ahead of us to move past the starting line--it took some of the walkers nine minutes to get there!).  I probably slowed my buddy down, but he really didn't seem to mind.  I was happy to see that our time was pretty competitive with the rest of our group (other than a couple really good runners), and it felt good all along to see all the people I passed along the way (I know that sounds bad, but it's true).  For the many, many good runners that were there, there were a heck of a lot more people that petered out quickly or chose to walk from the start.  So I felt like I had a right to feel pretty darn good about how I performed.  While I don't think it was much easier than the last time because I was going a lot faster, my body seemed to hold up considerably better.  I'm sore today, but it's manageable...and totally worth it.

After the race we went back to our tent, had some food and beverages, and hung out.  It was nice, since I rarely get to hang out with other adults in a social setting.  And I even got home while Jacob was still awake (barely), so I could still wish him good night.  I'll admit that it was nice to be out and about on my own, especially in the midst of this long stretch without Craig.  Interestingly, it occurred to me around the 2.5 mile mark that I probably won't get to run the race next year, because if all goes well I'll be quite pregnant or otherwise unfit to run that kind of distance.  That makes me a little sad, but it gives me motivation for the race after that, I guess.  I'll have to get back into shape so I can duplicate this year's feat.  That's a LONG way away, though.  In the meantime I will bask in the glow of achieving a goal I had set for myself, and keep working as hard as I can until baby #2 (no, nothing to announce right now) takes me down a few notches.  But oh, wouldn't it be great to keep up this level of fitness I have so I can make it through labor next time?  Let's hope next time around it's not another three-hour workout.  Ugh.  Marathons are not for me!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Post After I Jinxed Myself

So, yeah, I totally jinxed us with my "things are going well" post.  I woke up sometime after 1am Sunday morning feeling like crap.  My stomach felt heavy and crampy, and despite numerous trips to the bathroom--lower half only--it never entirely cleared up.  I woke up every hour or so for the rest of the night, which made for a really horrible night of sleep in general.  I was dehydrated and had very little energy by the time Jacob woke up.  We did manage to get to church once I confirmed that my breakfast was going to settle okay, but Jacob was a disaster there.  The first half went fine, but he spent most of the rest of the time running and jumping and being loud.  We left the family room (where being loud is practically expected) twice to have little chats.  I did yard work again for most of Jacob's nap (exhausting) and then had to fight off my own desire to nap after he woke up.  I just wanted to lay on the couch while he played, but he wouldn't leave me alone for even a minute.  It absolutely sucks when your body is betraying you and you have no backup.

In the midst of that, Craig called and we finally had a decent chat.  His bag was now in Berlin (as of tonight, he has it back in his possession), his brand new work computer has a damaged ethernet card/modem, and he's still got no phone service.  However, he's having one heck of an experience and will get to do some sightseeing later this week.  It was nice to talk to him, but it's hard because we both have so much going on in such different worlds.  I'm excited for him, but I'll admit it--I'm exhausted already.

Originally we were planning on going to the zoo after Jacob's nap, but the weather was iffy and I had threatened the loss of the zoo trip and playing basketball in our basement (two things Jacob really wanted to do) at church, so that was out.  Instead we headed down to Henrietta to hit up a couple stores (just before their 6pm close) to buy Jacob's bedrail for his convertible crib and a taller, fold-up stool that I saw in an ad really cheap.  I had been eyeing up the same style for a while but I had never seen one that cheap.  Jacob needed a higher stool for various bathroom activities and it seemed like a perfect fit.  Jacob was fine during both of those stops, but halfway through dinner he started acting horribly, and it continued through our final stop at Kohl's.  Kohl's was AWFUL, actually.  He was rambling on and on about nothing, yelling, telling me to shut up (yes, his words, not mine!) over and over, grabbing at everything, and just generally being disrespectful and downright rude...and laughing through every attempt at curbing the behavior.  I don't know where it came from.  It took everything in me to not slap him across the face.  Honestly.  I don't know if I have ever been that angry at him.  He lost his chance to play outside once we got home, and he had to go to bed right away.  I did try to sit with him and chat about the source of his behavior, but I didn't get anywhere.  He was out by about 8:30 or so, so I'm hoping it was just sleep deprivation since he took a long time to fall asleep Saturday night and was up early considering.  But wow, it was awful.  Oh, and he also lost his hockey and lacrosse sticks, as well as his menagerie of stuffed animals in his crib.  Luckily that didn't impact his ability to fall asleep.

I'll admit that I'm not happy with much of how the day went from my perspective.  I know that I was tired and that never helps my patience level.  While I could have stayed in and napped, I knew that the yard work needed to get done.  Our backyard was a disaster--between weeds and all of the dried grass from Friday's mowing) and the only clear-ish weather day this week is tomorrow when I'm running the Corporate Challenge.  So if I didn't do it then, it wouldn't get done this week, and next weekend is still up for grabs.  So, off I went.  So I was tired and a little snappy, and it was a bad mix with Jacob's extra energetic crazy streak.  I don't even know how to describe how he was acting other than that he was nuts.  He was rambling on and on about nothing, yelling, and completely unresponsive to any effort to make him stop.  I asked him nicely to just quiet down for a couple minutes when we were in a fitting room, and that's when the "shut up" stuff started...and continued throughout the store.  No matter what I threatened, no matter what I said, he just continued.  He just marched right through my threats.  And rest assured, I followed up on them...but he was similarly unfazed, even though they impacted many of his normal favorites.  So strange.

I'd like to say he was better this morning, and he was delightful at times, but when I handed him his shirt to put on, he threw it across the room and ignored my subsequent requests for him to put it on.  And in that case, I can't wait all day because we have to leave by a certain time for him to get breakfast at daycare (and it seems a little cruel to allow him to miss breakfast--both for his sake and his teachers'), so I had to dress him myself.  I try to frame instances like that--where he won't do something so I have to do it for him--as, "Fine, I guess Mommy has to do it for you like you're a baby, not like you're a big boy," so instead of him "winning" the confrontation, he instead has to deal with any perceived humiliation from being treated like a baby, which he doesn't want to be.  However, he doesn't always get the connection...or at least, he does momentarily, whines about it, and then goes right back to the "baby" behavior. 

Tonight was better, though some of that ugly behavior did show up--in throwing food at dinner (though he did eat zucchini!), in stubbornness when getting himself dressed and cleaning up before bed--but we had some nice moments, too.  He had a nice, dry hour in big boy underwear, we sat on the couch and pretended to be on a train (first to the "moo-seum" and then to Buffalo), and an uneventful quick trip to Wegmans.  Long story short, the good moments are better than ever, and the bad moments are getting to be the worst we've seen.  Ugh.

On a lighter note, here are some pictures from our ice cream eating on Saturday.  For those of you familiar with DeeDee's in Niagara Falls, this place is pretty similar.  The cones are HUGE.  Jacob's baby cone was at least the size of my closed fist.  Yet, he ate most of it, hence why it took him forever to fall asleep that night...hello, sugar.
We put his cone in a dish to stem the rapid melting.  He's eating the cone after eating about 1/3 of his ice cream.  He loves cones, if I haven't mentioned it in a while.

There's his dish, overflowing with soft serve and sprinkles.  He was digging in despite the mess.

And this is some of the craziness that happens when your child eats a massive amount of sugar.  He was running back and forth around the area where we were sitting, running back at us yelling.  Crazy boy.
So, yeah...one more day, one day closer to Craig coming home...but we still have plenty to keep us occupied until then...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

So far so good...

Well, Craig is in Prague and Jacob and I are surviving.  It's been a busy couple days, but all is well so far.  I must say, I'm exhausted.  I don't think it has anything to do with Craig being gone, specifically, but things have just been crazy.  I've gone to bed early the last two nights, and it's a good thing.  I've been tired, dropping off right away, and the sleep has helped me get through these long days.  I keep waking up earlier than I'd like, so I guess my internal alarm clock is set in its ways despite the fact that I feel like I need more sleep most of the time.  Usually I can drop back off until it's time to get up, but it's been interesting.  I'm glad I've stuck to the early bedtimes, though.

Craig had some travel hiccups starting with a delayed flight out of Buffalo and a missed connection in New York, but he somehow got to Prague via Paris.  As of this morning his suit bag was still "touring France" as Craig put it, but at least he's there!  The biggest issue so far is that he doesn't have cell coverage.  I've told him he needs to get Skype on his computer ASAP so we can talk that way, but between the time difference and all the technology hiccups, we really haven't had a chance to communicate.  That's been a lot harder than I thought it would be. 

Maybe it's extra tough because so much happened last night.  Jacob and I got home and since the weather was beautiful, I let him play outside a bit.  While we were outside, the neighbor came over and mentioned that if we needed help with our lawn, to let him know.  Admittedly, our lawn was looking straggly.  Our one neighbor next door is a perfectionist, so any lawn would look bad compared to his.  While ours wasn't great, it wasn't that bad.  And the neighbor did say that he didn't care how we kept our lawn--he was more looking to drum up business.  Considering he charges $15/hour vs. a lawn service which is considerably more expensive (which was our backup plan while Craig was gone), it was a good deal.  He mowed our lawn with our mower, and discovered an issue that may have been making Craig's mows less effective.  It took a while to rectify, but he did that and got it mowed and partially cleaned up in an hour.  In the meantime, Jacob was being a handful and I just needed to get us back in the house and fed.  It made for an out-of-nowhere hectic evening, but at least the lawn was done.

Adding to the craziness was the fact that I let Jacob put on big boy underwear when we got home.  He'd been asking, and now that we're into outdoor playing, it's less of a risk to let him wear it.  Despite all the chaos leading me to forget to ask him constantly if he had to pee, he stayed dry.  I asked him to go before dinner, and he went then and stayed dry until bedtime.  I was so proud of him!

This morning I wanted to get my car inspected, but I would have had to leave it too long so I had to skip that.  However, we still went out to run the errands I was planning to do while the car was in--Payless to buy Jacob his summer sandals, Walmart to fill in some holes in Jacob's wardrobe, and the Dollar Store for a couple little things.  The errands went fantastically, lunch was smooth, and after a little delay, he napped like a champ.  I spent his entire nap doing yard work--finishing the mow cleanup, pulling an obscene number of weeds, and doing some trimming and edging.  Our front yard looks great, but the back will have to wait for tomorrow's nap. 

After nap we went to the Lilac Festival with Lori.  It was jammed, since this was the first nice day since the festival started.  Despite a series of traffic jams and a bit of a hectic food-buying experience, we had a nice time.  The weather was amazing.   After we walked around the festival, we decided to cut out and get ice cream somewhere else.  We went to a place close to home where I'd never been but heard about.  The cones were huge...even the baby cone!  Jacob ate nearly his entire twist cone with sprinkles!  Lori and I enjoyed ours as well.  Jacob played outside a little more when we got home, and that was pretty much it.  I think the sugar made him have an uncharacteristically tough bedtime, but he really enjoyed that cone. 

The nagging problem we seem to have right now is that Jacob will not listen.  Sometimes he's great, but sometimes he completely ignores me, and it scares me that he's going to do that at the wrong time.  Today he was waiting for me to cook his lunch, and grabbed a frozen chicken nugget off his plate, and despite me saying no, he still proceeded to take a bite!  I tried to explain to him that he can't do things like that, because the wrong food could make him sick.  But what if it's running into a dangerous situation or touching something that could hurt him?  It's scary and it's frustrating.  I keep reminding Jacob that we need to be a "team" while Daddy is gone, and he seems to like that visual.  I just need him to understand what being part of the team is all about. 

I'll have pictures from today soon, but I need to stick with my early bedtimes so it won't be tonight!  Long story short, though, we're doing well.  We definitely miss having Craig around (and talking to him!), but so far things are fine and we're doing our best to make time pass quickly!  It'll be Memorial Day weekend before we know it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday News & Notes

Well, today's the day.  Craig is off.  Saying goodbye was hard this morning.  Apparently it was so hard that Craig stopped by daycare on his way to work to say goodbye to Jacob again, and had to leave before he got visibly emotional.  I'm not sure any of us knows what the next 10 days are going to be like.  It's one thing to be gone for a long time, but at least Craig will have plenty to keep him occupied.  We'll still be at home doing our usual things, but obviously there will be a significant missing piece.  Hopefully we'll keep busy enough to keep any sadness at bay, but I can barely comprehend what 10 days apart is going to be like.  It's a really long time.  I'm finding myself thankful that it's one week bookended by weekends, rather than a full week and a half of weekdays and only one weekend.  Weekends go quicker, so a 10-day span with two of them should go more quickly than any other arrangement.  I keep hoping this is all overblown and things will go smoothly, and Craig will be back before we know it.  We shall see...

In other news...

- I never mentioned what happened at our respective doctor's appointments last week.  Jacob was measured at 37-1/4 inches and 32 pounds at his appointment.  He's right on the 50th percentile.  He got to drop his morning dose of his reflux meds, so he's just on it at night to ensure that any post-nasal drip doesn't inflame his throat and cause him to cough--which he sometimes does.  I'm bummed we couldn't get him off it, but one less dose is progress.  We still have to go back in six months, though.  At my appointment, the doctor was bummed that the steroids didn't work to bring my smell and taste back.  Believe me, so was I.  She set me up for an MRI, just to rule out anything more serious, and I need to go to an allergist to get retested.  If the allergy treatment I end up with doesn't work, it may just be that I got a rare virus at some point, and my smell is gone for good.  Brutal, huh?  I had the MRI yesterday, which was a weird experience.  It was clear, so there's officially nothing obvious causing my problems.  I'm actually looking forward to the allergy stuff--not the testing, maybe--but I'm eager to see where my allergies stand 20 years after I originally got tested.  And hopefully whatever treatment I end up on will get things under control.  Hopefully I'll not only feel great, but smell and taste great, too.

- I had my first awkward-around-other-people Jacob moment this week.  We were in line at the grocery store, and when we got to the cashier, Jacob looked at the kid, who had a bit of an acne problem.  He said, "He has boo-boos?" and it took me a second to look up and see what he was talking about.  Well, once I saw, I tried to distract him by asking about a boo-boo he got at daycare that day.  He kept trying to move the topic back, but I did everything in my power to keep steering it back to Jacob.  I hope that kid didn't take it personally.

- Tonight I took Jacob to the gym with me.  They have child care hours in the early evening, and I've never taken advantage of them.  But with Craig gone, I don't have much of a choice if I want to work out.  I wanted to get in one last good workout before Tuesday's race, so off we went.  We brought Jacob's lacrosse stick and hockey stick, because even though it makes me a little nervous with other kids around, Jacob is pretty conscientious with them and I knew that they could keep him occupied for a long time.  There are other toys there, but it never hurts to have backup.  When I came in after my workout, he was playing Legos and had build a "Blue Cross Arena" (where the Amerks and Knighthawks play).  The woman there was like, "So he really likes sports, huh?"  Ummm...yeah.  Lord knows what he talked to her about while he was in there.  Knowing him, I can hardly imagine...nothing like a new, captive audience.  Have I mentioned how ridiculously chatty Jacob is these days?  He will go on and on about anything.  He will talk about things in amazing detail, so who knows what that poor woman had to listen to.  I'll admit that it's amazing how Jacob is now understanding things and picking up on so many tiny details.  Definitely more of a little boy every day.

- The last couple nights Jacob's worn big boy underwear for a little while.  Not long--perhaps not even long enough to have an accident--but maybe these little spurts are a good confidence-builder for him.  I'll try anything at this point.  One of these days it'll all click with him, so why couldn't this be the start of it?

- Jacob is driving me nuts these days because he's become the king of stalling and excuses and ignoring requests to do things because he's busy doing something else.  He will stall by saying he's sleepy, and curl up on the floor.  He'll pretend to work on cleaning up, but then he'll instantly be distracted by another toy.  Instead of leaving daycare (or even the gym today), he'll try to pull out another toy or try to play instead of just listening and coming.  The fact that I know he understands what I'm asking but chooses to ignore me is so infuriating.  Just when it seems like the irrationality of the terrible twos is fading away, it's replaced by the direct defiance that will probably toture us for years to come.  I do miss the days when he was a baby and didn't even know how to defy me. 

Well, I'm off to attempt to go to bed early for the first night of this little experiment.  I'm definitely tired enough!  Oh, and the added bonus?  I didn't really have enough time to snack, so not only will I get more sleep, but I'll eat less!  Here goes nothin'...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

To Do List

As I mentioned, I've been trying to come up with a list of things to keep us occupied while Craig's gone.  Like I said yesterday, I want to make sure that we do enough things to fill any void Jacob might be feeling, without spoiling him or doing too many things that we'd prefer to do with Craig.  I just want to have a handful of fun things on the agenda to distract me from wishing I was in Prague, to break up the time, and give us something to look forward to.  Here's what's on my list so far:

1) Go to the zoo - We have a membership and haven't been there yet this spring.  We did go over the winter once, but the weather and our schedule just haven't meshed.  They recently reopened their penguin exhibit and I'm looking forward to seeing that.  Jacob wants to see the otters, among other things.  If nothing else it always makes for a nice walk and a good excuse to be outside.

2) Go to the Lilac Festival - The weather is going to be horrible for most of the festival, which started last weekend and goes through Sunday.  The weather is looking promising for the weekend, which is great, but it's probably going to be jammed since everyone's going to fit in their visit over two days instead of 10.  Nevertheless, it only happens once a year and it's fun to check it out.  The lilacs are right on time apparently, too...after being totally spent by the festival last year.  But oh, how lovely the weather was prior to that.

3) Go to bed early - I am chronically tired.  That may be the result of not going to bed early enough, or three years of iffy nights of sleep and very little sleeping in, or just general exhaustion and lack of enthusiasm for my daily routine.  My main goal for the time that Craig is gone is to get in bed by 10 or 10:30 every single night.  Without the need to catch up on TV or stay awake just to enjoy each other's company, I don't see any reason why I'd need to stay up too late.  That said, I'm sure I'm going to find ways to fill my time and I will really need to push myself to go to bed early, but I think it will be a great experiment to see if it seems to make a big difference in how I feel on a daily basis.  Will I wake up rested?  Will I feel more alert at work?  Will I have more patience and energy to deal with Jacob?  Will I lose weight, since sleep has been tied to better metabolism, and therefore weight loss?  I'm hoping I'm strict enough with myself to find out.  At a minimum I will still need to try to go down a little early so I can drag myself out of bed a little early since I'll need a few extra minutes to do Craig's portion of Jacob's morning routine. 

4) Try some new foods - Jacob's not the most enthusiastic eater, but I'm tempted to try to cook him some different things while Craig is gone, just to see if he'll eat them.  Craig is not a fan of peppers, onions, or most vegetables, but if I can convince Jacob that certain things are good, it might open up some options for the times Jacob and I are eating alone.  Right now I tend to go super-easy in cases like that--sandwiches, mac and cheese, and other easy-to-prepare items.  But if I find out Jacob likes certain things, it'll be motivation to make that stuff instead when we're home alone.  He likes mushrooms on his pizza, so it gives me hope that anything is possible.

5) Sort through Jacob's artwork - I have two giant bags full of all of Jacob's artwork from daycare.  I just keep adding to it, and other than one attempt to sort through it before we moved, I haven't touched it.  My plan is to lay it all out in groups of four or so and take pictures of everything.  Really nice ones I might give an entire picture to.  I'll keep anything that I really like or that seems significant.  While a lot of it will probably get thrown away, and just a handful will be kept and stored, my ultimate plan is to buy four frames.  I might just get cheap ones, but if I find some true treasures, I might splurge (a little) on shadow box-ish ones.  I'll hang them up in the corner of our living room near Jacob's toys.  I'll fill each frame with one of the pieces of art, and change them out periodically when a cool new piece comes home.  I think it'll add a touch of whimsy to a bare corner, and make good use of all the art projects that Jacob does.  But the sorting and photographing process is going to be a bear.  I envision a lot of guilt as I toss stuff, but it might be pretty cleansing, as well. 

6) Have a picnic - Jacob mentioned something about a picnic the other day on the way home from daycare, and it sounded like a great idea.  The weather is supposed to improve, so I think it would be lovely to spread a blanket and eat a low-maintenance dinner outside on it.  He also mentioned chalk, so it might be a good time to break out the chalk we have sitting in our garage.  It could be fun!

7) Run a race - Yes, the Chase Corporate Challenge is next Tuesday.  I ran it two years ago and miraculously did the whole thing despite never having run any significant distance before.  I think it must have been adrenaline and distraction (thanks to the pouring rain), though I certainly felt the effects in the days that followed.  I didn't get to do it last year, but I have been gearing up for it for weeks now.  I can run three miles without much trouble, though admittedly, I'm not fast nor have I been making speed a priority.  But I still hope to finish the race quicker and with less difficulty than I did a couple years ago.  Lori's going to have to watch Jacob and I'm still trying to figure out if it's possible to pick him up and get them settled and still make it to the race on time, but I desperately want to run it.  Of course, it's looking like rain again, but I've survived worse and the temperature looks tolerable, so I'm getting excited.  It's fun to feel like a real runner this time around.  I actually know where my starting point should be (based on pacing)--I now know I can run a 10 minute mile.

8) Play with markers - Jacob got this black & white sports themed mat for Christmas.  It's meant to be colored, but I haven't had the guts to let him do it yet.  He has enough fun carrying it around and throwing it down somewhere.  But at one point I got him a set of markers so he could color on it (it washes out in the washing machine, though that scares me a little!), but for some reason I didn't give them to him for Valentine's Day like I originally planned, and then I forgot to put the markers in his Easter basket.  They're cute little washable Crayolas, but I think we'll still put down some newspaper and do it in a relatively safe spot.  I think he'd get a kick out of it.

9) Give him a "high hoop" - Jacob is obsessed with the big basketball hoops he sees around every neighborhood we drive through.  He points them out all the time, knows where they are, and which ones don't have nets hanging from them.  He has his own little basketball hoop that he got for his birthday last year.  It's set on the second lowest height and he does really well with it.  The hoop lived in the garage last summer, but we brought it in over the winter.  It's just about time to bring it back out, and I've promised Jacob that we could raise it up to the highest setting outside, just so he can have a high hoop, too.  I think he'll lose interest quick when he can't reach it, but it might be fun for a bit. 

10) Any other big boy things that happen to happen - I certainly don't want to tackle potty training or the big boy bed by myself, but if Jacob shows increased interest, we will work on those too.  I may try to get a bedrail over the weekend (the hand-me-down we got isn't good for toddler beds), but I'm not sure we'll get it in time to work on it this weekend.  I'm not sure I can tackle it alone during the week, but then again, if I'm going to bed early, maybe I can!  Lord knows I can barely lift Jacob into his crib these days.

Craig leaves for Hamilton tomorrow and Prague on Friday.  He's leaving at an odd time because the big news around here this week is that the Sabres are trying to buy the Amerks.  It would be great for the city, the team, and the fans, but the jury's still out on what it means for Craig's job.  He could get hired by the Sabres to work for the Amerks, or he could work exclusively for the Knighthawks (who would still be owned by the current ownership group).  Things seem to be happening quickly and it's not ideal for him to be out of town when it all goes down, but he's got a lot invested in this trip already and it's the chance of a lifetime, so hopefully things stretch out long enough to wait for his return.  He's worked with enough of the Sabres folks, so at least they know him and what he's capable of.  It should be interesting.  I think we'll have a lot of "interesting" around here for the next 10 days, as a matter of fact.  Stay tuned... 
I know there's probably more, but that's a good start, I think.  Hopefully time will go quickly and

Monday, May 16, 2011

Preparing...

So, Craig's trip is just a few days away.  I'm still nervous about how those 10 days are going to play out, and generally anxious about this week in general since I'm sure there are going to be a lot of things that come up while Craig is packing and I realize that I'm going to be short on alone time/backup for the next couple weeks.  Needless to say, I don't think we're going to have a lot of relaxing quality time before he leaves on Thursday for his pre-Prague stop in Hamilton.  I tried to accomplish some of that last night with our little movie night, but Jacob managed to mess that up pretty handily.

Craig and I haven't been apart for this long since we've been together.  I went on a trip shortly before we got engaged that lasted nearly as long--probably from the start of one weekend to the end of another--but that was still early on in our relationship and I couldn't wait to see him by the end.  I love the two friends that I was on the trip with, and we had a blast.  But after over a week on the road with them--in a car to Hershey, Philly, and the Jersey Shore--as the only coupled girl after years of being a single trio, I was definitely ready to come home.  I vividly remember my desperation in that last stretch of Thruway to get back and see him.  But that was nine years ago and obviously a lot has happened since then.  I'm used to him being gone for a few days at a time, and while I still worry, it's gotten to be pretty routine.  We're out of the honeymoon phase, for sure (but not in a bad way), so I'd say that my emotions surrounding his trips are much more even-keel.  While part of me misses him a ton, there isn't really that puppy-dog-ish, all-encompassing need to be with him 24/7.  I love him, miss him, and want him to be safe, but I'm secure enough in my little world that I know a little solo time isn't the worst thing in the world.  I try to enjoy it while I can, talk to him on the phone, and keep myself busy.  Once in a while he has a longer road trip, maybe five days or so, and those are tougher...but probably moreso because of the single parent factor.  If there was no Jacob, I'd be bored but fine.  I'd find ways to fill the time--work out, shop, sleep, clean, visit my parents--but Jacob makes things simultaneously easier and harder.  While he provides some good company (most of the time) and keeps my days fuller, there just isn't the backup in case anything goes wrong--mentally, emotionally, or physically.  When everything's on you, it just makes things harder.  It's nothing we haven't done before, just a longer span of time in which we're doing it. 

European travel scares me significantly more than most of Craig's roadtrips.  Not only is it a longer flight, but it's perhaps a slightly less regulated country, and there's just a lot more stuff that could go wrong.  He's not going to have a heck of a lot of time to explore or go out, which leaves a few less opportunities for problems, but it's still a scary, lack-of-control thing.  Could he end up as the naive American that gets taken advantage of?  Or will some rogue cab driver drive like a maniac and crash?  Yes, I know, the chances are slim, but as a wife and a parent you inevitably go over all of the scenarios in your head.  It's the same reason that I'd hesitate to go even if all of the funding to pay for my flight magically showed up.  Could I risk leaving Jacob, even for a few days, with both parents on the other side of the ocean?  I had a friend who never went on vacation without his kids, and insisted that if he did, he and his wife would fly separate in case of a plane crash.  While I thought that seemed a little extreme, I do sort of get it more now.  I don't think we can live in fear like that, but I think it's normal for something like this to give you pause.  I'd hate to make a selfish decision that negatively impacted Jacob, particularly on such a massive scale.  We also don't have a will or a chosen guardian (we've never come to a consensus...ugh), so that's even more nerve-wracking. 

With Jacob's trying behavior lately, I am worried about my patience holding out.  He knows how to push buttons so well, and sometimes he truly brings out the worst in me.  I wonder how I'll manage when he's at his worst--short of locking him in his room and leaving him for a while.  When you have a partner that you're working with, one can go off and be angry while the other can keep cool and make sure the kid is properly disciplined and/or loved.  When you're alone, you have to find a balance and do both roles.  My plan is to convince Jacob, ever the sports fan, that we need to be a team.  We need to work together to make sure we have fun while Craig is gone.  I need him to listen to me, and I need to listen to him, too.  I can't be a dictator, because I need to keep in mind that Jacob needs lots of love, too.  Craig tends to be the good cop more often (for better or worse--too often for my taste, admittedly), and I need to keep in mind that his open arms won't be here for Jacob when I'm done yelling at him.  So, if he's not here to give Jacob a hug when it's all said and done, I need to be intentional about making sure it does happen...not to the detriment of the lesson I'm trying to teach, but before he's left feeling unloved and responds negatively. 

I worry about being tired and how it will impact my attitude when there's no one to give me a break.  I worry about being the only one if he wakes up in the middle of the night, the only one convincing him to eat, the only one around to pick him up and drop him off.  I wonder how I can spend enough time with him when I'm already busy trying to cook or clean up, and or how I can make sure that he knows his daddy loves him even if he's not here.  I want to do special things to pass the time, but not spoil him or do too many things that Craig will feel he missed out on. Hopefully a "to do list" post will be coming soon.

It's definitely going to be an interesting couple weeks. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trying Times

There are times that I think the terrible twos are subsiding and Jacob is becoming a little more tolerable as he approaches age three.  He has moments where logic seems to work with him and he can be the coolest little kid ever.  But then he'll have these moments where he's just directly defiant.  It's beyond the usual terrible two tantrum, beyond just being stubborn, beyond just wanting his own way...and all about just pushing every single button he can.  He knows he's wrong, he knows he's being difficult, but it doesn't matter.  He will brazenly say words he's not supposed to, tell you he doesn't want something and then scream when you stop asking, and lay down to "rest" just because it's time to do something else.  Tonight bedtime came extra early even though we had settled in to do a nice family night with popcorn and a movie, just because Jacob kept yelling "shut up" thinking he was being funny (even though he's been told repeatedly that he should not say that phrase--by us and at daycare).  He was also hitting me (or using his stuffed animal to do it) while we were chatting with my parents via webcam.  As if that wasn't enough, he was complaining that he wanted water.  I gave him his cup, but shortly after, he put his cup in the sink.  Then he started whining that he wanted it again, but when I tried to give it to him, he refused...only to starting whining for it seconds later.  Ridiculous. 

As a whole we didn't have a ton of those moments this weekend, but they seem to be quite intense when they happen.  I have a feeling that his lingering cold isn't helping, but I don't think that's as much of a contributor as I'd like it to be.  I'd feel a lot better if I knew this was very temporary behavior.  We have a long couple weeks ahead of us, and I'm starting to worry about how my patience is going to hold out.  I'm sure I'll have a full post on that this week.  Still, in the meantime it's been a challenge. 

Considering he had late-ish bedtimes and weird, short naps this weekend, I suppose things went well.  We left late Friday for Craig's parents' house, in anticipation of our niece & nephew's first communion on Saturday morning.  We left right around 9pm, but I was too busy packing up to pay attention to the time and tell Craig to change Jacob into his pajamas and not turn on a movie, so he started out the ride wide awake.  Around Batavia we turned off the movie, much to his dismay, but he was out shortly thereafter.  He barely woke up when we got there and slept through.  He was up a little early, but not bad all things considered.  He did fine for most of church, I guess, but had a couple spectacularly awful moments...like slipping and falling because he was leaning lazily on the pew (taking down his fruit snacks with him and hitting his head) and unscrewing his sippy cup and spilling water all over the pew.  But in between he was tolerable.  The service was nice, and actually marked my first-ever first communion experience.  Is it bad that part of me felt a bit relieved that we're not raising our kids Catholic, because the thought of buying a First Communion dress or dealing with eight-year-old angst over the preparations seems a bit daunting.  I'll take just one round of 13-year-old Confirmation angst instead, thankyouverymuch.  No offense to Catholics, mind you, because it was a lovely service and it's nice to see a bunch of kids learning about their faith.  But not having had that experience, it's easy for me to stick with what I know.  I will admit, however, that I find the mini-bride look a little odd.  I'm guessing it has to do with the "bride of Christ" metaphor, but still...I personally find it odd.  There were also a lot of Mary references during the service, which I'm not particularly comfortable with.  Still, the kids did great and it was very nice if I blocked out Jacob's moments. 

Craig wanted to do some shopping this weekend in preparation for his trip, so we made the call to hop in the car after mass and head to the mall.  We were hoping Jacob would stay awake so we could eat lunch right away and and then fall asleep on the way back, but he ended up nearly conking out on the way there and officially dozing off in the stroller right after we got there.  He did sleep for about an hour while we shopped, so that was good enough.  I managed to finally find him a summer-weight jacket, which was proving very difficult to find in every store I checked.  Sears, of all places, had nice ones marked down to $8, so I was psyched.  He'd outgrown anything he had and considering we're facing another rough weather week, we got it just in time.  Craig made out well, too, and overall it was a good trip. 

We headed back for the communion party, and Jacob had a great time running around with the other kids at the party and showing off his lacrosse moves to the adults.  Here are a couple cute pics from early on...


Later on he decided he really wanted to play the piano.   He waited patiently for his chance, and sat down like he knew just what he was doing.  This seems to be a recurring fascination for him...

Yes, he was even turning pages.
I'm still shocked that he didn't end up slamming his fingers in the cover over the keys because he just kept messing with it.  I told Craig that I think that if we ever indulged his apparent fascination with the piano, he'd lose interest the second we signed him up for lesson #1! 

Later on he unearthed a mask from his cousins' toy stash.  I think it's a Power Ranger mask, but he was convinced it was a goalie mask.  It was a little big for him, but he didn't let that stop him from putting it on over and over again. 
Later in the evening he found a real hockey helmet with a full face mask, and that was on his head for most of the rest of the night.  He put up quite a stink when it was time to go, and did not want to take that helmet off.  After being a generally good boy most of the day (well, maybe aside from some overaggressive play and difficulty at dinner time), he put up such a ridiculous stink at bedtime that I knew he was overtired and I just had to walk out before he was fully settled.  He was asleep within minutes, though, so I have a feeling there wasn't much I could have done. 

Today we headed out relatively early and an hour nap on the way home ended up being all we could manage.  Craig and Jacob went out to watch the NLL Championship Game at a local bar with some fans, and left me home.  While I could have napped or gone out shopping, the dreary, cold weather inspired me to do nothing more than plop on the couch and catch up on mail, newspapers, and TV.  After a while I did move along to cleaning our entire upstairs (dusting and vacuuming), so I guess that was good.  I've been really lax about cleaning lately, so I'm hoping I'll be inspired to catch up little by little in all the solo evenings I have coming up in the next couple weeks.  A mother's work is never done, but I'm still hoping to make early bedtimes (for both of us) part of my job when Craig is gone.  I have a feeling it will do both of us a lot of good.  I'm going to be juggling a lot of responsibilities during that time, and I think it'll all be a heck of a lot easier to manage if I'm well-rested.  If there's anything I've learned from parenthood, that little gem is at the top of the list.  I don't follow it most of the time, of course, so there's no time like the present to try it out. 

Well, I'm sad to see our last family weekend for a while come to an end, but considering how busy I'll be between now and the next one, maybe it'll come quicker than I think...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Drugs

I must say that it is amazing (and a little scary) how obvious it is when medication is affecting me.  Like clockwork, right when I downgraded to one prednisone a day, my mood brightened considerably.  Not that everything is all smiles and rainbows, but I could at least get through the day without wanting do harm to someone or something for some invalid reason.  While I am still immensely nervous about Craig's time away, I am considerably more zen about it all.  While I know time to adjust has played a factor, I'm pretty darn sure that the meds were making me extra cranky about it.  I'm at least back to a fairly stable point all around, so that's a good feeling. 

However, now I can really tell that my antihistamine nose spray is making me sleepy.  I've got this sort of floaty feeling going on today, and while part of me feels awake and productive, another part of me just wants to lay down and take a relaxing little nap.  It's a more casual feeling than most days when I'm tired at work...more like, "Oh, how nice it would be to lay my head down and rest," as opposed to, "I am so freaking tired I just need to sleep."  I think I'm channeling Sleepy Smurf or something.  I just sort of want to float onto a pillow, lay in the glorious sunshine, and wake up feeling refreshed.  So, yeah, I'm guessing this isn't going to be any sort of long-term treatment option for me. 

Regardless, I go to the doctor tomorrow and I still have a couple days left on the prednisone.  Still no miraculous recovery, so hopefully the doctor has another plan.  I'm fully expecting that I'll be going to an allergist to get retested and get a long-term plan of attack to keep my allergies at bay, and rightly so as it's long overdue.  My biggest concern in the long run (aside from my smell and taste issues) is how I can keep that plan afloat despite wanting to have another baby at some point in the not-too-distant future.  Presumably anything I go on will not be pregnancy/nursing safe, so I'll be back off medication at some point and probably facing a lot of the same issues I have now.  Somehow I made it through my last pregnancy without drugs, though I definitely wonder how that happened and worry that I just got lucky.  It's still too early to really worry about all of this, but it's definitely something I have to remember to bring up with the doctor. 

So what's the point of all of this blog-wise?  Well, Jacob's off to the doctor himself tomorrow, back to the pediatric pulmonary doctor who has dealt with his reflux and cough issues for the last two years.  We go twice a year right now, and I am really hoping this one will be able to be phased out soon.  I'd have to think his reflux has trailed off by this age, and while he does still get a cough when he's sick, I don't think he's much different than any other kid at this point.  And for the $50 copay, it would be a relief to be done.  He's still on reflux meds, and I am really hoping we get the green light to wean him off.  Yesterday my cousin mentioned to me that she didn't like the way her reflux meds made her feel.  Hearing that and knowing how my medications over the last couple weeks have been affecting me, it made me wonder if Jacob might be a new kid once he's weaned off his.  As much as they say that the stuff he's on has little-to-no side effects, I do wonder if maybe there's something there--appetite issues, behavioral stuff, general discomfort, or just being "off".  Who knows?  He's been on Claritin for the last couple years, too, which I don't necessarily ever see getting him off (though sometimes I think it'd be interesting to try), but I wonder sometimes about that, too.  I hate the thought of pumping chemicals into my little boy each day, and I'd have to think that the less of that there is, the better.  To a point, anyway.  God knows some chemicals are lifesavers. 

Some days I feel like Jacob is destined to end up with cancer based on all the things I read.  From his medicines to artificial sweeteners and dyes, chemicals in sunscreen and exposure to radiation from digital phones, cell phones, and wireless networks, little of the news is good.  And then the kid goes and ends up with a "slightly irregular" mole at the age of two.  Oy.  Now that I spend a good portion of time with my netbook in the evenings and Craig has a Blackberry in his pocket almost all the time, I tend to wonder about the quality of our various reproductive organs these days and how I will ever avoid barraging a fetus with radiation when the time comes.  Did you know they make radiation blocking blankets for that?  The whole thing is just worrisome, but unfortunately there probably isn't a lot that we can do at this point based on our lifestyle and the world as a whole.  Little things, yes, but there's a lot of big picture stuff going on that just won't be very changeable.  All we can do is pray that the effects are minimal and everyone comes out unscathed.  The "norm" in our world may change dramatically in the next couple generations based on all of this technology and all of the things we keep creating that manage to damage us further.  Health may not be what it is today, despite any advances in treating the problems we have now.  It's crazy to think about, but I definitely think the world would be a better place if we went back to basics, but hopefully we will just evolve to make us more resistant to some of this stuff.  I hope.

So, tomorrow will be an interesting day medically and I hope we come out of it with some good news...because for both of us, it's been two years in the making.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Randoms du Jour

- Incessant crankiness seems to have given way to exhaustion.  I am down to one prednisone a day for the rest of the work week, and while I don't feel horribly evil today, I am still off because I just feel beat.  I feel like I feel after I spend a long time crying...you know, physically drained, empty-ish sinuses, heavy head and eyes, ready to curl up and take a nap.  The empty sinuses thing is nice, admittedly, but that still doesn't mean I can smell much better than before.  If all of this has been for nothing, I am going to be mighty ticked.  Hopefully the doctor has a nice second set of options on Thursday.  But I feel like a nap would work wonders right now.  Too bad I only have a half hour lunch as I type.  The tiredness may be from my antihistamine nose spray, too, which would probably make sense.

- Craig called me today and said I should join him in Prague for a weekend.  Being the insanely practical girl that I am, that pretty much sounds ridiculous.  But oh, does it sound amazing.  It reminds me of this very week four years ago, when I booked a flight on Thursday morning to leave Friday afternoon for Phoenix, where the Knighthawks were playing in the NLL Championship Game the next day.  I was gone for a little over two days and I still think the $450 I spent on that ticket was among the best I've ever spent.  That was truly one of the best experiences of my life, for so many reasons.  It was a great experience traveling solo across the country to 90 degree weather, spending the day with former co-workers (and friends), and finally seeing a team I love win a championship.  The celebration was amazing and the weekend was full of memories that I cherish to this day.  Heck, I even told Craig at the end of our Toronto weekend that the sting of the Knighthawks losing was ever-so-slightly less than expected just because I will always have my memories from that championship.  At least I got to do it once.  It did not come cheap, but I would have regretted it forever.  So, now, here we are.  I could go to Prague for a very short period of time, share Craig's hotel room, and just figure out how to get there--which he'd like to be able to fundraise, along with his stuff.  I've never been to Europe and it's an interesting prospect--interesting enough that I need to give it at least a little consideration.  And it's fun to dream.  I know that ultimately it's probably not happening and I should not get my hopes up, but man, I'm already dreaming of the pictures I could take.  If nothing comes out of our own pocket (or, say, very little), it's tempting, despite the insanity of traveling that far for just a couple days.  It's not often as a parent you get to do something sort of crazy (and there's still a LOT that would have be worked out so it still wouldn't exactly be like last time), but when the chance comes, I think it's only fair to consider it.  It may not be the tropical, relaxing trip I dreamed about, but it sure would be exotic!

- I've caught myself marveling recently at how time flies.  It's crazy enough that Jacob's almost three, and I still can't quite believe that this walking, talking, athletic little boy is the same one that used to fit in my arms and wear those teeny tiny clothes and miniscule diapers.  Heck, even two years ago he still sat still long enough to nurse.  But here he is, more of a little boy every day.  This morning I realized that this June marks 15 years since my high school graduation.  I know that my life now is light years away from what it was back then, so in that way it seems appropriately long ago.  But I don't feel old enough to have 15 years under my belt since then.  Even just the mere fact that I've been on my own for over 10 years, living away from Buffalo and working a real job, is amazing to me.  And so much has changed over that time.  Lately a lot of friends have been having babies and posting pictures of their kids on Facebook.  I don't know if it's just that Easter, Mother's Day, and/or better weather are making for better photo ops, or if I've just been paying more attention lately, but there's been a lot.  It never ceases to amaze me when I see a group of people I knew as single people--whether it's people from college or my sports-business friends who really took advantage of the single life--married with kids in this whole other phase of life.  Inexplicably, we all grew up.  I get extra thrown off by some of the girls I went to college with, the ones who were younger than me and looked up to my group of friends (a bunch of single women), who now have more/older kids than me.  There are two in particular that I marvel at, how they have grown, married, and had kids, knowing the sweet, nervous girls they were back then--ever-so-slightly concerned about the glut of wonderful-yet-single older girls they saw graduating.  Turns out it shouldn't have been a concern :)  Anyway, time is just flying faster the further we go.  I can't believe we're just over a month away from Jacob's third birthday.  How is that possible?! 

Just a few tidbits for today....hopefully more soon!

Monday, May 9, 2011

In Which I Will Inevitably Sound Ungrateful

Let me start out by saying that I had a downright lovely time yesterday at Mother's Day brunch with Craig's family.  The food was very good and I haven't been to a brunch like that in many, many years.  The assortment of selections--from breakfast and salads to carving stations, dinner selections, and all the dessert options I could ever want--was great.  I ate a ton and yet still managed to walk out without feeling disgusting, which was a huge win in my book.  Jacob was a bit of a battle, as he was tired and not in the mood to enjoy all the great options, but Craig managed him well enough and we made it out relatively unscathed.  The only downside was that the table setup wasn't overly conducive to family interaction, but I did still have some pleasant conversations with Craig's cousin and his wife while enjoying their two daughters.  It was a nice meal, though, and definitely a treat.

In a perfect world, we'd have left the brunch at 1pm and come home.  It's not that I didn't want to spend time with the family--under normal circumstances I certainly would have--but considering how I was feeling (per my last week of posts) and considering that we'll be back in Buffalo next weekend, I really just wanted to come home, leisurely check off a few things from my to do list, and chill for the rest of the day.  But Craig wanted to stop at his parents' for a little while, which I inevitably knew would be for a little bit more than a "little", but I reluctantly agreed just because I don't want to always seem so cranky.  Maybe I was just trying to overcompensate for what I know is a downright crappy attitude that I've had for the past week.  I am really hoping it magically disappears this weekend when I'm finally off the prednisone, otherwise I'm going to really have to re-examine things a bit.  I just know my filter's been pointed toward "off" and I'm just so much more irritable than ususal, about so many things.  I can't help but think that it has to be the medication, but God forbid it's not.  Ugh.

When we left brunch, Jacob was in desperate need of a nap.  He fell asleep a few minutes into the car ride, but didn't stay asleep for the transfer into Craig's parents' house.  I tried my darndest to lull him back to sleep, even offering to cuddle with him, but that did not work.  I tried for a good half hour or more to get him to rest, but finally gave up and tried to salvage a nap for myself instead.  Despite laying there for a good hour or more, I never did sleep.  I was uncomfortable and had too much running through my brain to get any reasonable rest.  While I was laying there, Craig and Jacob were downstairs gorging on chips, dip and pistachios.  Jacob also had a juice box.  I'm sure Craig thought nothing of letting him eat all that stuff, because to Craig that's a treat.  But unlike us, Jacob didn't fill up at brunch and was surely just hungry and eating whatever was there--when I'm sure he would have eaten something with a little more substance had he had the option.  Ugh.  More on the repercussions of that later, but caution: bodily functions will be mentioned...

Anyway, once I gave up napping and came down, I spent some time on my netbook but was eager to get going...yet Craig didn't really indicate he was ready.  Maybe I should have pushed him a little more, but like I said, I never want to be the pushy one and I was overly aware that I might be yesterday, for so many reasons.  So I didn't push it.  But before we knew it, it was nearly 6pm, Jacob still hadn't napped and I knew the rest of the night was going to be a problem.  I said from the beginning that I wanted to avoid getting home late, rushing through unpacking, having to do Jacob's laundry (which I always do on Sunday night because of his daycare blanket and sheet), and having no time to just relax once we were home.  And yet, there we were. 

To make matters worse, as we were getting ready to leave, Jacob kept wandering off and eventually wanted to use the potty.  Well, when I tried to bring him there, he was refusing and just seemed generally odd.  Well, sure enough, the kid had a very poopy diaper...and it became apparent very quickly that it was no ordinary poop.  You bet...nothing like a case of diarrhea to spice up Mother's Day.  By some miracle it did stay contained in his diaper, but I felt so incredibly bad for Jacob as he sat on the toilet trying to get the rest out.  His tummy hurt, and those horrible wet-fart-in-the-toilet noises took on a new pain coming from my baby boy.  He sat there for a while and then finally seemed better.  It still took a while to settle him down enough to wrangle him into the car.  Oh, and if that wasn't enough, Craig was looking tired and I knew he'd had a couple beers, so I drove home.  Craig sat in the backseat and was supposed to try to keep Jacob awake, yet by about a half hour in, both were conked out and slept the whole way home.

The evening was spent unpacking, trying to convince Jacob it was bedtime, doing his laundry, and then, finally, taking a little "me" time--I organized all of the recent photos on our desktop computer (which I rarely use these days but need to keep current if I want to archive our photos on discs), burned a DVD, and cleared out our memory card.  Not exactly luxury time, but a mental weight off nonetheless.  And now it's Monday again, facing another week of work and another weekend on the road.  I feel like crap again, thanks in part to the meds and in part to major nasal drainage (not sure if it's another side effect or due to allergies).  My whole body is still sore from Saturday's yardwork and run, which is making things that much worse.  So, yeah, crap mood. 

Oh, and I'm having serious Mother's Day envy because all I'm seeing on blogs and Facebook today is how great everyone's Mother's Day was.  They relaxed, got great gifts (even practical ones), enjoyed the weather, and...yeah.  Just not feeling it on my end.  And I know that this is my problem and the medication can't be helping and it's as much my fault as anything.  I am so blessed in so many ways that one day that didn't go quite according to plan shouldn't be a big deal.  I know that I am at peace with deferring to our moms on Mother's Day, but suddenly I'm feeling like I should have been a little more forceful, just this once, for the sake of my own mental and physical state.  I don't need fancy gifts or to be the center of attention, but ugh...no matter how much I know that it's probably not my logical brain talking here, it's just not making me feel any better. Ultimately my attitude is no one's fault but mine, and even though I know how petty and stupid all this sounds, I can't quite shake the crankiness that's bugging me today. 

However, lost in all this is that I even have even the smallest iota of a reason to complain about Mother's Day because I am a mom to an amazing little boy.  He looked so adorable all dressed up again yesterday, but much like Easter I didn't have a heck of a lot of luck getting a cute picture of him.  This was as close as I got. 

Poor kid is still suffering through a sudden and evil cold, but despite napping at 6:30pm yesterday, he was only awake a little past 10pm (generally pleasantly, too) and did sleep through the night.  It could have been so much worse considering his earlier digestive issues, so I'm grateful and relieved that he was such a good sport.  I've got to admit that he's been a trooper for the past few weeks, with all the weekend busyness we've had.  He's slept relatively well, and other than his usual moments and sickness-induced hearing problems (haha), he's been very cooperative.  Even when he's being difficult, half the time he's doing it because he's just trying to have fun or thinks he's being funny.  Rarely is it malicious.  He can be such an awesome, good-natured kid, and he just wants to have fun.  Period.  Even in my current cranky state I'm trying to appreciate that.  I am so lucky to have him and marvel at the little boy he's becoming more and more each day.  So even under the worst of circumstances, my Mother's Day should always have a little "happy" in it, no matter what.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day - Take 3

My third Mother's Day is approaching.  Unlike most other mom-specific things that I've only been able to partake in over these past three years, I don't feel like I've grown much older and wiser by the third time around.  I mean, last year I discussed the importance of deferring to the elder mothers in our lives, and I definitely still think that way.  And this year, I proved it.  More on that later.  But that seems to be as wise as I've gotten, and beyond that I haven't quite figured out how I should be celebrating this holiday--at least when it comes to myself.  Is the day about me, or should it be about the people who helped make me a mother?

The first time I blogged about Mother's Day was when I was pregnant, and I wasn't sure how I should be celebrating it then either.  I didn't feel like I'd earned the right to celebrate with the moms, having never changed a diaper or been up all night with a sick child.  Pregnancy is an amazing experience, a special rite of passage, but it was definitely the easy part of this whole gig.  Looking back I know it was still a big deal and put me among very special company, which is probably why so many people felt compelled to wish me "Happy Mother's Day" back then.  I still know that I hadn't even begun to earn the title of "Mother" at that point, hence my hesitance to accept the Mother's Day wishes. 

Three years later I've survived the infant stage, seen many milestones, and been insanely tired for at least 34 months straight...so even though I will gladly accept the wishes these  days, I know I still have a long way to go in this mothering thing.  And it's why I will still defer to our moms and their moms on this very special day.  No matter how much I may wish for a quiet day at home, some time to relax and do things that I might be jonesing to do, for now I'll enjoy celebrating other moms who have come before me and salvage my "me time" somewhere else.  For example, this morning I left Jacob with Craig for a while to go outside and do some trimming and weeding in our yard.  While it's not my perfect idea of fun, it does make me feel better and I do love my powerful trimmer I got last year.  The time to get stuff like that done is huge, though, because it's one less thing I need to obsess over every time I come home or look out the window.  After the trimming I requested another half hour or so away so I could go for a run.  I felt like I needed it, for a lot of reasons.

It's been a rough week all around.  I've been dealing with moodiness that I think has to be associated with the prednisone.  I don't like being so cranky all the time, but it's been a tough battle to fight.  I've been in a bit of a fog, not feeling great, tired, distracted...and when you add in work and motherhood to it all, it's hard.  Last night we decided to grab some dinner out and do a little shopping, and Jacob was rather difficult.  It wasn't until about halfway through that I realized I'd been wiping his nose all night and his cheeks were really red.  He wasn't hot, but it became apparent pretty quickly that he had come down with a cold.  He got increasingly miserable, and with how I was feeling, I started pondering just staying home this weekend.  Craig had to work in Hamilton later today, so he was coming in today regardless and I wasn't making a separate trip if we didn't make it with him.  Our only set plans were brunch with his family on Sunday, since my parents had said it wasn't necessary to come in since we'd just seen them the past couple weekends.  But after two weekends of travel and one more coming next weekend, I started to get a little overwhelmed by it all.  There's a lot I want to do every weekend, but with all of these other plans, those things hadn't been happening.  Jacob's cold (combined with my iffy state all week) seemed like a hint that maybe it was time to just stay home and give myself a break. 

We had a rough night with Jacob being up and miserable, though Craig did an awesome job with him and I was able to salvage a decent night of sleep and a minor sleep-in this morning.  After breakfast and the yardwork, I felt like a run might be the one thing that could salvage the weekend.  I felt like a good workout Thursday brightened my mood (and similarly, that a lack of a workout on Tuesday made me feel worse), so I thought the run might give me enough energy to power through packing, another night away, and one more weekend of not accomplishing my long to do list.  I'm not sure if it exactly energized me, but it cleared my mind enough to convince me that it was important to put my own stuff aside and just celebrate Mother's Day the way it's supposed to be celebrated. 

I haven't earned the right to have Mother's Day revolve around me, though I do appreciate the little perks I may be able to glean from it in the meantime.  I have many years down the road to mold Mother's Day into something closer to what I might want, but for now I'll enjoy the time with family and graciously accept the good wishes I get.  Being a mother is a very special thing, about so much more than one day, so I try not to get caught up in the hoopla regardless.  It's a day I'm hesitant to call my own anyway, particularly in the presence of those more seasoned than I.  Someday Jacob will understand it a little more, and maybe there will even be another child to boost my status in the mothering ranks.  No doubt I'll be that much more exhausted, wishing that much more for a day off to indulge in myself.  Yet I can't help but think that the lessons I'm learning now--that family reigns supreme and that it's about so much more than me--will leave their mark and the day of solitude will never come to pass because I won't want it to.  Or if by some miracle it does, it will feel like something is missing.  Once a day for family, always a day for family.  I wouldn't be here without them, so why would I spend my day any other way?

We'll see, I guess...I've got a lot of years to figure it all out, one philosophical blog post at a time.  But in the meantime, Happy Mother's Day :)