Tuesday, June 28, 2011

All Sports, All The Time...

Do you remember a while back when a European couple (Scandinavian, as I recall) named their child ESPN (or Espen, maybe--either way, it was specifically after the sports network)?  Maybe we should have named Jacob that, because with him, it's all sports, all the time.  Here and there we squeak in another interest--like his stuffed animals or Legos or cars or certain characters (ones that his friends no doubt talk about, as we don't focus on them much in our house!), but really, most of the time Jacob is focused on sports. 

As far as obsessions go among toddlers (or is he technically a preschooler now?  Yikes!), sports isn't a bad one.  It could be annoying characters, shows, movies, or something I have absolutely zero interest in, like construction equipment, cars/trucks, or reptiles.  I know that if your kid is passionate about something, you find a way to get interested in those things, but suffice it to say I'm happy I don't have to work hard to enjoy sports.  I'll admit that my interest and ability in playing them with him is limited, as he sort of makes his own rules and it's really tedious throwing a ball to a kid who has little chance of catching it--yet.  And I know that someday he will and it will all be worth it, but right now it's hard.  For me.  Craig does much better.  And if someday we have a girl, I assume I will be significantly better in the doll playing department than he is. 

But for now, Jacob is our one and only, and lately I feel like my one and only subject of photos is him playing those sports...because if I want to take pictures of him, usually that's what he's doing.  Last Friday we finally got to go to a long-awaited outdoor lacrosse game.  Rochester hasn't had a team in a couple years (they won the championship the year Jacob was born then moved to Toronto), though we did go to a game in Toronto a couple years ago and one game last year when another team played all of their games on the road and the league picked cities to host them.  We had wanted to go to another game earlier in the season, but Jacob had a bad evening and we had to stay home. 

But Friday all went well and we made it to the game.  Craig was working, so I spent the evening keeping Jacob occupied--getting him fed, enjoying our seats, and eventually walking around and playing lacrosse.  We worked on a game of catch--he'd shoot the ball with his lacrosse stick, I'd roll the ball back for him to scoop, and so on.  Not too bad.  By the second half we hung out with the Rowdies (the booster club--same basic group as the Knighthawks' Krew) and Jacob played a bit with his buddy Dylan.  It was a nice night (aside from the threat of rain, which only ended up being some sprinkles), and it was fun to be back at a lacrosse game.

While Jacob was playing I snapped a couple pictures, mostly because he was in a good mood and I figured I'd get a smile or two.  I got this one, which I think was taken while he was looking up at the scoreboard.  I love his big brown eyes...
And I got this smile...I'll take it!

Saturday we headed to Buffalo for a busy weekend.  Craig had to go to Hamilton for work, so Jacob and I stayed with my parents.  We had to stop at McDonald's on the way out of town, and Jacob fell asleep with his Happy Meal box of McNuggets and fries still on his lap, Red Wings batting helmet still on his head.  Poor kid.

We visited my grandma that afternoon, then headed out to my cousin's son's birthday party.  As usual, Jacob had a blast playing with his cousins, and I even learned to relax and ignore the fact that he was muddy!  He was doing a lot of climbing on a swing set and running around the yard, and I tried to give him some space while keeping an eye and ear open.  It all went fine. 

Sunday we went to church, welcomed Craig back from Hamilton, had lunch and a nap, visited the baby I mentioned in my last post, and then headed off to my cousin's high school graduation party.  Oh, and Jacob stayed dry ALL day.  After a dry overnight.  And no, it hasn't happened again since.  Anyway...I managed to snap a couple cute pictures.  Here's Jacob with the cookie he snatched off the snack table.  He's also modeling one of his birthday gifts from Uncle John, Aunt Kristin, and Kate--an Oregon Ducks baseball jersey.  Not surprisingly, he loves it!
Finally, here he is working on his newest sporting endeavor--throwing the ball up and trying to catch it.  He tried very hard and had a couple close ones.  It's not a bad skill to work on, and hopefully he'll be catching them before we know it!

The rest of the weekend was pretty much more of the same--golf with Grandma and Grandpa, a touch of volleyball and basketball at the party on Saturday, and even some Norwegian (ladder) golf on Sunday.  It was a constant stream of one sport or another.  Sometimes I wish that Jacob had more varied interests, but I suppose that when it comes to Jacob, he wouldn't be who he is without sports.  I'm sure he'll get a little more balanced as he gets older, but for now, this is what we've got.  We'll take it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Big Boy in the Making

Eight years ago tomorrow, Craig and I got married.  Three years ago today, we brought Jacob home from the hospital.  His birthday seems so far away already (and it was only last Monday), so I definitely see how that week seemed to last forever.  Three years later, I walk into daycare and find out that all of Jacob's stuff has been moved into the three-year-old room.  He's not officially moved up, but he's pretty much there.  He's had a few days visiting that room, but despite the fact that his third birthday has come and gone, I didn't expect this to happen so soon.  I figured his behavior issues or potty training status wouldn't make him among the first to move up, or if nothing else, the group of kids who have turned three in the past week would move up closer to the fall when the new school year started and the four year olds headed off to kindergarten.  This took me by surprise, and it's a whole new world.  It's a classroom with pets, different toys, and most kids in underwear.  I'm hoping that peer pressure comes in handy and Jacob decides he's ready to be a big boy. 

Perhaps he senses it already.  Yesterday morning he woke up dry, possibly for the first time ever.  Considering we were staying at my parents' and we had a bit of a late night, I was particularly shocked.  We put on a pull-up for church, and once after the service we hit up the bathroom.  He was dry and had a fantastic pee.  It was so long that he gave up pushing his penis down (oh, the joy of training a boy) and we almost had a disaster.  Fortunately the damage was minimal, and with every subsequent trip to the potty for the rest of the day, he was dry.  Sometime we reminded him, sometimes he asked.  We got in a couple pees at my cousin's graduation party, and he even asked in a very unfamiliar place, in the midst of a very bizarre moment (more on that later), so it was a good sign.  He stayed dry right through the evening, and even asked to go late at night, long after he should have been sleeping, after he woke up following his "nap" on the drive home.  He did not wake up dry this morning, and I know his pull-up was wet as we were leaving daycare, but he did well this evening in big boy underwear.  He didn't ask to go, but he did concede to going and did fine.  So, baby steps for my blossoming big boy.  At least it finally feels like we're getting somewhere!

The odd situation I mentioned earlier was a little visit we paid to a couple down the street from my parents.  They have a daughter, Nora, who's a couple months older than Jacob (you may remember her from the ill-fated Easter Egg Hunt), and just had a little boy, Kurt.  I was dying to go visit and see a tiny baby for the first time in a long time.  It was a little deja vu, since I vividly remember going to visit Nora when she was first born and I was pregnant.  I loved watching her stretch and move, because it helped me picture all of the crazy stuff my baby was doing in utero.  I hadn't held a little baby since Jacob, and wow, was it odd.  I never held other people's new babies (other than my niece and nephews when they were first born), and while I wasn't nearly as freaked out by it as I used to be, it took some getting used to again.  I forgot what it was like to hold something that tiny and light.  Kurt was actually bigger than Jacob when he was born, and he's nearly a month old, but oh, how tiny everything was!  The little baby stretches and funny little faces were so sweet.  It was a joy to hold a baby like that again, but it was scary at the same time!  The thought of doing that again was made that much more vivid in just those 10-15 minutes.  Of course, the second I got the baby, Jacob started freaking out...not outwardly, but we could tell he wasn't quite sure what to make of it.  After a while he asked me to "put it down", but we did our best to assure him that we weren't bringing the baby with us and he was still our special boy.  Not a good sign of what may be to come, but hopefully having some advance notice (and an extra year of maturity) when we add a permanent addition will help.  So maybe our big boy isn't ready to be a big brother yet, but I think he will be when the time comes. 

We also saw a bunch of pictures this weekend from our friends, the McDonoughs, who added a new baby to their family the day before Jacob's birthday.  Their son Colin is a couple months younger than Jacob, and he looks like such a big boy, particularly now that he's a big brother and especially in comparison to his tiny 5 lb. 15 oz. sister, Kelly.  I can't wait to meet her and hope we can pull off a vacation in their area this summer sometime, once Craig's work situation works itself out.  Both things really made me think about Jacob as a big brother, and made me simultaneously excited and terrified to do it all again.  We have plenty of time to prepare for that, of course, but it was quite the reminder.

I still can't believe that Jacob is moving up with the big kids, and I really hope he's up for the challenge.  I hope I am, too. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Thoughts on Three

I've had nearly a week to come to terms with having a three year old.  It's definitely hard to believe.  I still remember all too well those first few days and how crazy they were.  So much confusion, so much discomfort, so much worry, yet so much awe and love at the same time.  While it sometimes feels like Jacob has been around forever, it's amazing to think that such a significant experience was three whole years ago.  The memories of holding that tiny baby are vivid, yet we have this amazing, active little boy now...such a far cry from the helpless, tiny baby hooked up to all those monitors.  Sometimes it feels like it took forever to get to this point, but looking back, it's amazing how much he's grown and changed in such a short time.  Each year we have a significantly different boy than we did at the last birthday, whether the changes are obvious (more hair, more talking) or subtle (better comprehension, more coordination). 

He definitely looks like more of a big boy now, especially after he got his haircut last weekend.  He's getting taller and heavier, runs and does stairs much more gracefully than before.  We can have full conversations with him, and most of them make sense.  Part of me looks at him and can't believe what a big boy he can be.  But then we have moments where it's the same as it always has been...or so it seems.  He cries about a lot, still needs a lot of wrangling, and still has moments where his behavior at bedtime or at the table isn't that far removed from a couple years ago. 

There are times when I thought about what it would be like when he was three (presuming at the time that we'd be well on our way to baby #2), and part of me expected that we'd be living this normal, settled life.  And I guess to some degree we are--in many ways, toddlers take a lot less planning (but not always)--but I'm still not sure I feel like we've got this thing down.  We have, at times, an out-of-control child that tests us at every turn, thinks it's funny to hit and poke and provoke (no matter how many hundreds of times he's been told otherwise), and makes it very difficult to ever sit back and just enjoy.  We have moments, for sure, where he is the most amazing, adorable, and enchanting child, and I can't believe we created him from a couple cells and God's miracle of life.  But lately a lot of those moments have been tinged by fear and questions--when the next frustrating moment is going to happen, how he'll manage to ruin a good night, or what we can do to stop/change/improve his behavior.  I try not to let that stuff rule, but inevitably it shows up all too quickly after a small victory, and it's discouraging.  It definitely keeps us from ever feeling too comfortable. 

I won't lie--Craig is probably far more comfortable with Jacob than I am.  Jacob and I have our moments, and even at his worst I know he considers me a safe haven.  Ten seconds after he inexplicably smacks me for no reason and I walk away angry and hurt, he's running after me crying like he's trying to regain my approval/attention.  There's a disconnect there somewhere, that he's not grasping that what he does hurts people he loves.  But even after I've yelled enough that he cries, he'll still come crying to me, looking for comfort.  It's an odd dynamic.  But Craig is more comfortable playing with him and dealing with his "moments" (many possible reasons why) and I often wonder what a second baby will add to the dynamic.  Will a second baby be more easy going?  If it's a girl will I have an easier time playing with her because I've done the doll thing before?  Will it make Jacob even worse?  Will it make him better in the long run because he'll deal with not being the center of attention? 

I feel a little better about managing a second baby with a four year old instead of a three year old, because hopefully with all the changes we've seen in the last year, we'll see that much more maturity before we bring another baby into the picture.  Again, not happening in the near future, but the potential for it is at least on the radar.  I'm often not sure where we'll find the time or energy, but we'll have to. 

Probably my biggest issue as we enter the three year old realm is that I'm missing too much.  He's getting to be such a big boy and will never be this age again.  We spend so much time working, and our time at home is often split between cooking, eating, cleaning, and getting ready for one thing or another.  Judging by how little playtime he had this week with his new toys, it really made me feel bad for how little freedom he has.  I don't see our work situation changing significantly anytime soon (Craig's employer aside--Amerks were bought by the Sabres this week and he'll be working for either the Amerks or the Knighthawks, not both), which makes me a little sad, because it's harder to bring another baby into that same situation and worry we'll miss our last shot at enjoying the baby stage.  We could claim ignorance last time around, but we can't this time.  We'll have to make it work in the short term for the long term benefit of having a family of four, but it's intimidating.

Jacob is three, and it's hard to believe.  It tends to get lost in the craziness of the moment, but there's so much more to come, too...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Third Birthday, Take 3

So, we finally got to Monday, Jacob's actual birthday.  Unfortunately, it wasn't a good day for either of us to be off from work, so it was mostly just a normal day for all three of us.  Jacob definitely wasn't happy about it, because he just wanted to stay home and play with his toys.  And really, I did too.  It had been such a busy, fast weekend and the last thing I wanted to do was head into another full week of work.  I quickly cut up the pan of rice krispie treats I made the night before, and bagged up the little favors I did.  I opted to avoid the bag o' stuff that a lot of kids do (got one yesterday, for another birthday--five in Jacob's class within a week!), most of which is crap.  Instead, I opted for one piece of crap and a few kid-friendly snacks.  I got some of the Wegmans Fruit Strips, which are natural and I think one serving of fruit.  I also got some of the Safety Suckers, the ones with the looped stick, and two packs of Smarties per kid (an easy-to-eat, stain-free candy).  I tied them all together with ribbon, stuck them in a mini slinky-esque toy, and tied to the ribbon to the slinky.  No need for bags, and the total cost per kid was about $1.  Not bad, right?
Definitely should have gone for a prettier color of fruit strip, though!
By the time we got home, I was eager to pull out the rest of Jacob's gifts--the ones from us--and have Craig open his Father's Day (and early anniversary) gift from me, which arrived Monday afternoon.  Jacob's first gift was a new Brady Brady book that we had picked up during our last trip to Toronto.  He didn't seem too impressed, but he did enjoy it that night at bedtime!  Next up was what he thought was a chest protector:
 ...but in reality it was a Finding Nemo-themed kick board for the pool.  Finding an age-appropriate pool toy/floatation device for him is tough, because he's too old for the inflatable floating boats/cars, but he's not big enough for the shark/alligator ride-on type toys.  Other things are too flimsy or too advanced for his level of ability--which is, none--but I'd like him to be able to do something other than have him cling to us or struggle to float upright in his floatation suit.  We'll see how it goes.  I used to love playing with one of these.

Next up was the long awaited water table.  I bought it for $15 online from Walmart at Christmas, but since we already had enough gifts, I stored it away for the end of potty training or for his birthday, whichever came first.  And yes, here it is as a birthday gift.
He seemed pretty excited about it, but we've had so little time at home that he was still begging to play with some of his other gifts first.  However, we were once again off, this time to Jacob's birthday dinner at Red Robin (with our free Kid's Meal coupon).  With Jacob's resistance I debated about even going, but in the end we did.  He ate well, as usual, and then we gave them the coupon that indicated it was Jacob's birthday.  Shortly thereafter a bunch of the waitstaff came over with ice cream and sang to Jacob.  He was all smiles, giggling and so happy!  It's rare to see that sort of giddiness from him, so it was a treat for us too!  I was kicking myself for not getting out the camera to snap a picture!  He kept trying to sing the song afterward, he really enjoyed his ice cream.

By the time we got home, it was nearly bedtime, but we felt a little guilty about Jacob not being able to play with his toys on his birthday, so Craig quickly put together Jacob's new tee and took him out to have a few at-bats.
 Not nearly enough time, as usual, but at least he got a little time in. 

And as far as Father's Day, I gave Craig a GPS.  He's not the best with directions and when we get ourselves a little lost it's never a good thing as we both get frustrated, so I'm also considering it a "marriage preservation" device, which is why it's great for an anniversary gift, too!  No more arguments!  I'm hoping we can enjoy it while on vacation at some point this summer, and he might find it useful when he's traveling for work (generally up in Canada), too.  And when we venture to the other side of town. :)  And here's Jacob's daycare gift for Craig:
It's a magnetic picture frame made with tongue depressors and the cute little shapes.  I provided one of Craig's favorite pictures for it, too :)
So, Jacob's big birthday celebration finally came to an end.  We're slowly going through the gifts and bringing them into the playtime rotation, but I'm dying to have more time for him to just sit and enjoy them!  One of these days.  He's been a bit cranky since, but I'm chalking that up to some remaining sleep deprivation from the weekend.  Hoping, anyway.  So far three isn't much different from two, but let's hope those terrible twos wear off quickly!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Third Birthday, Take 2

On Sunday we woke up to house full of post-party stuff--the dishes I hadn't done, the destroyed cake I left sitting loosely covered on the counter, my desk cleared of everything I'd stuffed in its drawers to make room to serve food, a pile of presents, etc.  But there would be no time that day to restore order, because we were off to Buffalo.  I gave Craig the first part of his Father's Day gift, a wooden desktop baseball game that I got on clearance at Walmart months ago.  I knew he'd admired ones like that in the past, and I figured he and Jacob would enjoy playing with it together.  And did I mention it was cheap?  Part two of his gift hadn't arrived yet and would have to wait until Monday.

Anyway, we set off in the car, and although it was still early, Jacob napped.  It didn't last quite long enough, though, and he didn't even make it until we stopped at Wegmans in Hamburg to pick up the ingredients for Jacob's cake for Sunday's party.  I mentioned previously that another party in Craig's family had been planned for Saturday, so rather than find another date, we tacked Jacob on to Sunday's party at Craig's parents' house for our twin niece and nephew, who turned nine last week.  No, it's not ideal, but it was the best we could do this time around.  It was a pretty low-key party anyway, just immediate family plus the handful of relatives we see regularly on Craig's mom's side of the family and some of our sister-in-law's immediate family.  All of the kids except Jacob spent most of the day in the pool, but for some reason Jacob was averse.  Ultimately that meant I didn't go in either, which was fine, I guess.  Not worth the battle, honestly.  It was a decent day, but Jacob was definitely overtired.

After a huge spread of food, it was time for cake.  I decided to make a cake whose recipe I'd stared at numerous times but never made.  It's a cake with alternating layers of ice cream sandwich and a mixture of Cool Whip, chocolate pudding, hot fudge sauce, and crushed Oreos.  I ended up forgetting the Oreos, but that was ok because it really didn't need them!  In addition, the twins' cake was a homemade ice cream cake composed of cherry vanilla ice cream, crushed Oreos, homemade buttercream frosting, and chocolate shell across the entire top.  Amazingly good.  Actually, both were great.
Ok, so mine looks a little boring, but it was cooler when you cut into it.  I could have done last minute decorating courtesy of the topping cups there (Craig's brother's family won a Friendly's gift certificate, and most of the winnings went toward the cake creation--but the remnants were tubs of sprinkles and mini gummy bears!), but why ruin its purity? :)
 Jacob once again did great with the candles, even though these were harder!
After cake, it was finally time for presents. Jacob pretty much got the baseball player's dream...a new aluminum bat, a real glove just his size, and a good batting tee. We gave him one last year, one that we thought would be better than the "kiddie" tees out there, but it ended up not being too sturdy. The new one should last through a good portion of whatever baseball career he has ahead of him.
He also got some clothes and a cool "indoor" baseball bat emblazoned with the logo of Daddy's team, the Braves. And we have a Toys 'R' Us gift card for further shopping...oh boy!
After gifts I was eager to get going, knowing how late it already was, how much I had to do once we got home, and how off Jacob usually is when we drive home late. I did, however, bring his pajamas this time in hopes we could easily transfer a sleeping boy from the car to his bed. But first, as usual, it was time for a little baseball...
Nope, not his tee :)
Jacob did sleep on the way home and the transfer was fairly uneventful.  However, once we arrived home sometime after 10pm, I still had to do a load of laundry and make rice krispie treats for Jacob's daycare class.  It ended up being a pretty late night, but somehow everything got done.  I'm still managing the rest of the house, though, which is taking me handfuls of time each evening.  Last night I got in a desperately needed workout (a 10-mile bike ride), and then came home and did an unscheduled workout involving an hour-long vacuuming session in our pool.  The water wasn't bad but the crud at the bottom was.  We're still not sure if it was remnants of the crap that fell off our cover when Craig was opening it, stuff from our solar cover's first use, or new algae growth from a couple days under the solar cover.  Regardless, it seems to be well worth the effort, I think, as it looked considerably clearer this morning!  Always a battle, though. 

However...I'm getting ahead of myself!  We still have one day of Jacob's birthday left to report on... :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Third Birthday, Take 1

Thanks to having his birthday on a Monday this year, Jacob managed to get in three days of birthday celebrating.  We are still recovering.  I have at least half a dozen big tasks still waiting for me at home from the weekend, on top of the handful of things I did the past two nights in the couple hours I had each night.  It's been a busy few days and I feel bad that Jacob has barely had time to play with his birthday gifts since we've been away from home so much since Sunday.  The weekend went by in a flash, and here's the first part:

I started the major prepwork Friday morning when I put two pork tenderloins in my slow cooker with a bunch of root beer to cook all day.  It seemed to cook up well, shredded beautifully, and was put in the fridge with some BBQ sauce to wait for the second batch, which I was going to do overnight from Friday to Saturday.  Friday night the boys went to a little informal picnic at our friends' house, which gave me hours of uninterrupted time to do some running around and baking in preparation for Saturday.  I had two layers of cake to bake, a rice krispie lacrosse stick to make, and lots of other miscellaneous stuff to do.  I did get a lot done that night, but I knew things weren't going to go 100% perfectly when the second layer of cake started crumbling right out of the pan.  I decided to go with the egg-free recipe even though our nephew wasn't going to be there, just because it's lower in fat and it doesn't puff up much--which was good in this case because I was doing a two-layer cake.  The first layer came out perfectly, but the second layer was a mess.  Still, I let it be overnight and figured I'd tackle it again in the morning.

In the morning, Craig and Jacob ran out to get Jacob's hair cut.  He desperately needed one and I never got up the nerve to pull out the trimmers and try it myself.  It gave me some time to get some more work done, and because the barber is right next to Wegmans, I gave Craig a short list of things to buy--including more frosting.  When they came home, I was excited to see how handsome and grown up Jacob looked with his haircut.  Were it not for the crazy amount of money they charge, I would take him every month if I could!
It became apparent pretty quickly that the cake was not going to go well, but I persisted and tried to cobble it together with frosting.  Eventually there was so much frosting that it weighed everything down and it was falling apart more by the second.  At that point I was in tears and I sent Craig out to the store to pick up a premade cake.  I felt so defeated.  I had been looking forward to this for so long and I failed miserably.  I told Craig not to get it too decorated, as I wanted to still try to use the lacrosse stick as a decoration.  The cake he got was very nice, but with the decorative trim it did have, the stick wouldn't fit so I relegated that to the top of the pan of rice krispie treats.  Of course, I then had to write on the new cake myself, which has never been my forte.  It was a whipped cream cake, and the warm house and cold cake created condensation on the frosting.  As much as I tried to sop it up, the gel icing still ran when I wrote.  Ugh.  Two cakes ruined in less than two hours.  Awesome. 

I was pretty unhappy at that point, but I decided to have a beverage to relax a bit and figured there wasn't anything more I could do at that point.  The food was looking good--the second round of pulled pork went great and it all heated up very well, and I discovered that I could make salt potatoes--so at least I had that going for me.  It was also a fantastic day.  Apparently the weather gods are making it up to us for giving us a cold, rainy day for Jacob's first birthday, as we've now had two good years in a row.  The pool was open and clear but still a little dirty and cold.  It did get a little use, though, so I guess it was worth getting it open and ready-ish!

Just before dinner we did gifts.  Here's Jacob getting ready to open:
Pardon the sunglasses...they're a little large but they were the only ones handy that day.  I actually found them in a box of random stuff at my grandma's house during the winter, and figured it never hurts to have an extra pair.
Jacob got a lot of great gifts.  He got some clothes, a wheelie ball (inflatable ball-frisbee thing), a velcro catch and toss game, and some fun big gifts...including roller skates and the necessary padding from Grandma and Grandpa:
He was very excited about these and was ready to forego the rest of his gift opening as soon as he saw these!  Lori wasn't sure what to get him (and to be fair, neither was I), so she went out on a limb and got him a guitar and microphone (more on that in a bit) and some Megablocks:
I think we're slowly but surely getting out of the cheesy face phase.  He still does it but seems to be getting better at real smiles...even if they don't last long!
After presents we ate dinner, which went fabulously.  It's nice to know I can pull off pulled pork and salt potatoes that easily!  The guests also made delicious contributions, and we had a fantastic feast!  Afterward we did cake.  Thank goodness it tasted good because it was still disappointing...even if the immediate sting had given way to resignation.  Here's Jacob blowing out his candles--which he did very well, all by himself!
You can see the lacrosse stick in the background.  It turned out ok and I will probably revisit it another year, with modifications--both to the cake (duh) and the stick itself.  Rice krispie treats are a tough medium to mold with because you only have so much time before they start to stiffen up.  Oh, and as a side note, Jacob referred to the strings of icing around the edges of the cake as worms.  Pretty funny :)
After cake (which Jacob loved), it was time to test out the skates.  We gave him one of his gifts from us early, his bike helmet, and got him all outfitted in his skates, helmet and padding.
Here he is skating with Grandma and Grandpa:
Between the skates and the helmet, he looks so tall!
He did a great job on the skates, even when we set them to mode #2, which doesn't lock any wheels but prevents backward motion.  He held on to hands most of the time, so any near falls weren't actual falls, but he could move himself very well all things considered.

After skating we headed back to the yard again.  Jacob played baseball for a while...
Doesn't he look like such a big boy here?
And then he got back to playing with his guitar, which I had missed earlier while getting dinner ready.  He took to it right away, apparently, and he was totally cracking me up when I finally saw it. 

I have video of my own, but here are a couple links to some of his earlier attempts for now:


I'm not positive either of those will work, but we shall see.  I'll post my video another day.

Anyway, we wrapped up the night with a quick cleanup, a bath for Jacob, and a lot of prepping for a busy day on Sunday...another birthday party and Father's Day, too!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Three

Dear Jacob,

I can't believe you turn three today.  Over the years I've seen a lot of bloggers do this sort of "birthday letter", and while I've never done one for you before, perhaps now it seems more logical to me since you actually talk a lot now and would have a decent shot at understanding at least part of what I write.  I know that if you do ever read this it won't be until you're old enough to understand it all, as would have been the case with any of the last two birthday letters I never wrote, but I suppose that this whole blog is one big letter to the older you, among other things.  At the very least it's a labor of love, an attempt to record some of the little details and fun stories and random thoughts that have come into our world in the last three years and six months.

This blog has included the good and the bad, for sure, and I won't lie--there's been a lot of both.  Fortunately nothing too horrible, but you are a definite challenge.  You always have been, in one way or another, but I think as you get older, the things we find challenging now will eventually serve you well out in the world.  You're a determined little boy, that's for sure, and I hope someday you will use that determination to attain whatever it is that you want out of life.  You're not a major risk taker, though, which keeps Mommy sane right now...but I do hope that you'll outgrow at least a bit of the fear and channel that hesitance into some good, solid decision-making as you grow up--weighing the risks and taking the best route. 

You are really a chatterbox these days, talking mostly about sports but once in a while coming up with the cutest stuff.  You know a lot of songs and every once in a while your interpretation is hilarious.  The other day you were eating an English muffin and you started singing Little Miss Muffet...except that you substituted the English muffin in Little Miss Muffet's place.  You do tend to make up a lot of words or change words around to see if we're paying attention.  You test us every chance you get, both with your challenging behaviors and with other things--like when you're putting on pants and say, "Tag in the front, right?", knowing full well that the tag belongs in the back.  I could do without some of the testing, but when you knock it off, you're such a cool kid.

You love sports so much, which means you're a chip off the ol' block for sure.  Any time I start to tire of the constant barrage of sports talk/activities, I remind myself that it beats some of the annoying kiddie shows, characters, and toys that I'm sure a lot of your friends enjoy.  You seem to be more aware of branded stuff like that now (particularly with the hand-me-down PJs and t-shirts you got from your cousins, like Spiderman and Thomas and Cars), but you're not totally into it.  Your favorite movies are still sports, and we only keep three shows on the DVR for you--Sesame Street, Chuggington, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Maybe we should branch out, but it seems to work for us for now.  We do find it amusing when think your cousins' Power Rangers are sports guys.  Heck, you thought the mask you found at their house was a goalie mask.  Please keep thinking that, and don't ever ask to watch the show.  You're better off with real sports, I promise. 

I can see how proud Daddy is when he watches you play or hears you talk about sports.  He loves your passion.  I know he hopes that you'll take it even farther than he did and find more success than he had, but for now we're just happy to watch you learn and improve.  And if for some strange reason you suddenly lose interest, that will be okay too, as long as you transfer that energy and passion into something else.  Musicians are cool, too.  And judging by how much you loved the guitar/microphone set you got for your birthday, that may not be too far off!

I just can't get over how much you've grown, though I'll admit that I don't always notice it unless I have a point of reference--old clothes, pictures, my own arms--but sure enough, what a big boy you've become.  I can't keep you in long-sleeved shirts, and pants get short before you ever fit in them at the waist.  You're definitely daddy's boy, tall and thin.  You're more than half my height already!  You've definitely got my dark brown eyes, and everyone remarks at how blond you are.  We both had pretty light hair as kids, too, so someday you'll probably have brown hair like us...which is funny to think about since most of your life you've been the blond one!  You're a good mix of both of us in general, though I think more and more you're looking like Daddy.  The dimple alone is definitely him!

You don't look significantly different to me this year than you did last year, though I know you are so much more of a little boy.  The changes in this past year we more subtle...more coordination (but you're still so clumsy!), and a lot more communication skills.  Not only do you talk more, but you understand a lot more, too.  It's fun to see you comprehend things for the first time.  I got such a kick out of you blowing out your candles by yourself at your parties and smiling from ear to ear when you got sang to at the restaurant on your birthday.  You converse rather well a lot of the time and even know how to make jokes.  It's such a subtle change, but it turns you into a totally different child.  I do wish that logic worked with you a little more often, but I'll take what I can get.

This coming year is going to be a big year for you.  Presumably sometime in the next year you'll be totally potty trained (and finally get the lacrosse net we've been talking about for months), and maybe you'll even become a big brother by your next birthday.  If not, you'll still probably come close and start working on some of the steps before big-brotherhood, like moving into a new big boy bedroom and sleeping in a real big boy bed, not just your converted crib.  You might get to start playing real sports, and you're probably going to learn so much at daycare.  I bet you'll learn to recognize more letters and numbers, and maybe you'll even start coloring in the lines--or make a recognizable picture!  I'm so excited to watch you keep learning.  Just seeing you learn songs and pick up concepts is so fun! 

You still have so much ahead of you and I can't wait to see it all.  I may be a more tired, stressed out person than I was three years ago when you came into our lives, but I also think I'm more well-rounded, more loved and more able to love than I ever have been.  You have taught me more than I could ever imagine.  Your laugh and your smile bring me such joy, and getting kisses and real hugs from you are two of my favorite things.  And when you pop out with a random, "I love you Mommy," all is right with the world.  Thank you for the joy and excitement you bring into our lives, and happy birthday to our sweet little man.  We love you Jacob!

Love,
Mommy (and Daddy, too!)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday News & Notes

- I felt incredibly guilty yesterday morning when Jacob asked to wear big boy underwear and I had to tell him no.  He was an amazingly sweet and wonderful child when I came in to get him and he had managed to stay dry in underwear for hours the night before.  If we were hanging out at home all day, I would have certainly said yes.  However, I talked to his teacher at daycare about trying out big boy underwear with the plastic pants, and got a hesitant "no".  The teacher said that if it were just her, she'd be fine with it.  But if the "daycare police" come through and anything smells like urine (i.e., the carpet in his classroom), that would be a problem.  Even though I think he's making progress (knock on wood--hopefully I didn't just jinx it), I still think the pull-ups don't remind him that he's wet.  He knows pretty darn quickly in underwear, though, and I think that might be the key to all of this.  Even still, he's doing pretty decently at keeping his pull-up dry when he's at daycare, and it breaks my heart that we can't keep up the process all day with big boy underwear there.  He wants it so bad, and I think mentally he's getting there.  He did come to me in a panic shortly after I got him up because he had to poop, and he did fantastically.  It doesn't work that way all the time, but the steps seem to be generally moving in the right direction. 

- I have about a million things on my to do list for Saturday's birthday party.  I finally wrapped gifts last night and bought a couple more food items off the list, but I really need to strategize how I'm going to cook all of this pulled pork, bake two layers of cake, and make the rice krispie treats that will form the lacrosse stick on the top of the cake.  Oh, and the cake will need time to cool so I can frost and decorate it, which will probably all need to wait until Saturday morning...which leaves little time for error.  There are a handful of food items that need to wait until the last minute, so I can't even tackle that until at least Friday night.  I'm also planning on putting together a simple salad and trying to cook salt potatoes for the first time...also both Saturday morning escapades.  I want to get out and do some trimming in the backyard, buy balloons to decorate the patio, and will probably have to delegate pool toy inflation/cleaning to Craig, who is already busy with vacuuming and maintaining the pool's crystal clear water (yes!), among other things.  We also need to buy and wrap gifts for our niece and nephew, whose party is Sunday...in Buffalo.  And I need to figure out how I'm going to make a little extra cake (from a fun recipe!) for Jacob's little portion of their party on Sunday once we arrive in Buffalo.  See, there's a graduation party in Craig's family on Saturday as well, so rather than try to find another date that worked for everyone (impossible!) we just figured we'd tag along with the twins' party.  Not ideal, but it works.  I just want to make sure everyone gets a chance to celebrate Jacob, too.  It's not his fault we live far away or that his parents don't plan far enough in advance to beat out the other invites.  It's a lot to do, and as a result I spend my days at my desk staring down my to do list and freaking out.  My boss is off Friday and working from another office on Monday, so it doesn't look like there's too much hope for taking off either day to prepare before or rest after.  Ugh.

- In the midst of this weekend's activities, I'm trying to figure out what I should do for Jacob's birthday at daycare.  He shares a birthday with one of his classmates, and another has a birthday the next day.  A third turns three over the following weekend, so it's going to be a busy week or so in his classroom.  Last year I just did cupcakes with a light icing (so as to conform to the "not a lot of frosting" request from his teachers), but since then a lot of kids have gone the goodie bag route.  Also, peanuts have been banned from the building so it makes treats a little trickier.  Lori suggested I make some rice krispie treats, which isn't a half bad idea.  I'd like to do one little takeaway item, too, but with 10 kids I don't want to be spending a ton.  He's only almost-three and doesn't really get the whole "keeping up with the Joneses" thing yet, so it probably doesn't matter.  But if there's an easy, cheap way to do what I want, I'm willing to try.  Ultimately I'm thinking rice krispie treats for in class and maybe a little token toy and one of the Wegmans fruit strips for a take-home treat.  Jacob loves them, they're all natural, and they'd be easy to tie to the toy with curly ribbon.  We'll see.

- The big boy bed experiment has been going well.  He hasn't fallen out since those original two instances I mentioned, and he hasn't been attempting to escape at night.  He has had a couple more excuse-laden evenings, but I suppose with the opportunity for added mobility comes the desire to test out the theory.  Incidentally, I've decided that one of the biggest conundrums of parenthood happens when your kid has to pee at bedtime.  On one hand, you want to squash any attempts at pushing back bedtime.  It usually seems like just another thing to add on to the request for water or help with blankets or comforting from the scary shadows, but what if it's not?  At this point he's still in a diaper so part of me wants to be like, you've been peeing in your diaper this long, do it again now.  But on the other hand, we're working hard on potty training, so that's not really the right response.  Also, when he is in big boy underwear at night, we won't really have a choice but to let him, for fear he'll pee the bed.  And no one wants that.  You can force them to go right before bed, but there's no guarantee that they won't truly have to go again.  I've been trying to say no to water requests at bedtime, too, in working toward those dry nights, but again, can you really deny your kid water when they might be genuinely thirsty?  Tough call.  I know a dry mouth can bug me at night, so why not him?  I suppose I can leverage the water against the big boy underwear at some point--"Are you sure you want that water?  If so, you'll have to wear a pull-up because it'll make you pee the bed."--but for now that's a pretty empty threat since he's wearing a diaper anyway. 

- The other day I made the mistake of explaining a little too much about Jacob's big boy bed and his big boy room.  I said that he'd get a bigger big boy bed and move into the "green room" (his future room has green carpet at the moment) when he was going to get a brother or sister.  Somehow we got on the topic of toys, and how he could share some of his baby toys with the baby.  At first he sounded okay with it, and then a day or two later he decided he didn't want to share.  He also started talking about "the baby that's coming to our house" and I had to assure him that it wasn't happening for a long time. The last thing I need him doing is running around telling people about a baby coming to our house because I can see that setting off a whole lot of confusion.  I can only imagine the amount of stuff that daycare teachers have to filter out before they decide that something is worth asking the parents about.  If Jacob is any indication, there must be hundreds of stories they hear over any given week that sound like a whole lotta craziness.

- Have I mentioned that Jacob is loving the homemade popsicles I created?  Ever since last summer he's enjoyed smoothies for breakfast on the weekends.  I give him a smoothie in a fun cup with a fun straw, along with a bowl of cereal, and he's a happy camper.  The smoothies are usually strawberries, bananas, yogurt, milk, and maybe a little honey, along with some ice if none of the fruit is frozen.  He loves them.  I make them in a little mini-blender, similar to the Silver Bullet one that made the infomercial rounds and is now available everywhere.  I love mine, one I got at JC Penney for a fraction of the list price, though I do think I need to sharpen the blades a bit as we're getting a few more chunks of unblended fruit these days.  Anyway, I came across a couple popsicle recipes from the blogs I read, and the last time we were up in Toronto I picked up a set of popsicle molds for a couple bucks.  They're actually perfect for what we need--about 1/4 cup each, and the sticks have holes in them so the popsicle adheres well.  I just blend up a 1-1/4 cup of whatever I want, pour it in, and freeze.  My first batch was similar to our usual smoothies.  I gave Jacob one for dessert one night after he ate well at dinner, and ever since he's been hooked.  Our first batch ran out and I made another with some leftover melon and berries I had frozen, so I'm excited to see how those turn out, as I hear melon freezes well due to its high water content.  I didn't have quite enough to fill all six, though, so I experimented with yogurt, chocolate syrup and a little milk in the last one.  I'm interested to see if it comes out tasting like a jello pudding pop or a fudgsicle or something like that.  I plan on doing a full batch with banana added to the mix at some point.  It's really fun and the possibilities are endless.  Yes, there's some sugar from the yogurt (low-fat vanilla, can't do plain) and honey if I add it (plus the natural fruit sugars), but most of what's going in them is natural and healthy.  It's a win-win for both of us!

So...yeah, lots going on in our world.  Should be an interesting few days...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stunted Summer

I don't know what it is, but I feel like it's taking forever this year to get summer going.  It's mid-June, Jacob's birthday is less than a week away, and ugh...it just feels like we should have packed a lot more into the past month and a half.  The weather doesn't stay nice around here for too long, so we need to pack all of the fun we can into the next three months or so. 

I'm not sure what the biggest culprit is, but I'm sure the weather, Craig's trip to Prague, and my brain are all contributors.  While we've had a nice string of good weather recently (aside from today), it took a long time for the weather to get warm and stay that way.  We had a ton of rain, and it just seems to have set everything back.  I swear half of the stuff in my flower beds is diseased, and I can't help but wonder if that's a product of the crappy weather we had for so long.  We got a major head start last year, which was great, and I know we had a cool spell after that, but it just seemed like everything was so slow to come alive this year, and now some of it is dying off mysteriously.  Brutal.

Craig's trip was only 10 days, but that's a lifetime in late springtime when you want to get your yard up and running.  It pushed back the pool opening (it should be ready but chilly-ish within the next day or so), and it took a while to get the yard under control.  Not having Craig around made it tough to find the time to do the stuff I needed to do (generally weeding and trimming), and by the time he was back a lot of it was more out of control that I would have liked.  I do think we've recovered nicely. 

I don't know for sure, but sometimes I wonder if Jacob's birthday set us on a path for this delayed summer feeling forever.  I don't think so, but here's my issue.  When I was pregnant, everything was focused on the end of June.  We were so busy getting ready for his arrival that a good month or more of summer-ish stuff came and went, and we were probably too distracted to really notice.  It's not that we didn't do fun things--we did--but it's hard to sit back and savor the summer when you're spending evenings putting together furniture and generally preparing for a major life change (and making arrangements in light of the many otherwise unproductive months that follow).  In the years since, I think we have two major events highlighted on our calendar at this time of year--one is Memorial Day, and the other is Jacob's birthday.  Leading up to Memorial Day, it's all about looking forward to the day off and planning how we want to spend the day.  Jacob's birthday is just a few weeks after that, and a lot of that time is spent planning his party, finding gifts, etc.  We also have our three other niece/nephew birthdays in that span as well, so let's just say we find plenty of ways to keep busy.  And suddenly it's Jacob's birthday, then the 4th of July is just a couple weeks after that, and suddenly the summer that seemed so open and so full of promise just a little over a month earlier on Memorial Day, is now at its peak and the rush is on to cram it full, or... ummm...rather, savor every moment before it's over.

It probably also doesn't help that Jacob's birthday pretty much hits at the peak of summer daylight, which means every day after the next day will be shorter.  Boo.  I still remember being a little bummed not being able to enjoy the longest day after Jacob was born--being stuck in the hospital, awake at all hours, very preoccupied.  I know it all means nothing, really, because we've got a good couple months ahead of us, but it feels like summer is slipping away.  So much to do, so little time.  We have a vacation to plan, parties to attend, games to watch, and finally a clear pool to swim in. 

But as usual, most of the summer will be taken up by work and all the other un-fun things we do on a regular basis.  Evenings are busy, but once Jacob's in bed we need to step away from the TV (oh, Big Brother, how you suck us in) and enjoy our backyard or our new front porch furniture.  I want to swim and ride my bike and eat outside.  We want to go to the drive-in, enjoy the zoo, take wagon rides/walks, and get in plenty of outdoor playtime.  I get frustrated when I read some of the blogs I frequent, many of which are written by freelance writers who apparently have time to do fun things, create amazing little crafty projects, feed their families real food, and make fun treats, probably all in the name of research.  I beat myself up about it, but I'm a full time, out-of-home working mom, and if I ever want to sit for a bit, there just isn't time to do it all.  Still, I did manage to go to the gym tonight, come home and make a couple different types of popsicles in my IKEA popsicle molds, and still have time to do some research for the food for Jacob's party.  Still, I have a ton to do.  Good thing it's too cool tonight to feel guilty about not enjoying the porch!

But I know that too many nights of that, and the summer will slip away.  It always goes too quickly, and I'm nervous this one will be no exception.  Hopefully lots of fun is to come...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Big Boy Bed

I've been talking about it for ages, it seems, but I decided that it was finally time to do the big boy bed transition with Jacob's third birthday on the horizon.  I hadn't bothered until now because he hadn't tried climbing out of it (other than once when he fell out during a tantrum at 18 months) and conventional wisdom dictates that you keep them in there as long as they will stay!  However, I'll admit it's getting harder to pick him up and get him over the side rail, and it is nice to think of him being able to climb into bed when he wants to sleep or read or grab an animal.  I also know that I'd like to get him accustomed to a big boy bed in a familiar setting before we someday have to make the switch to a real big boy bed in a big boy room.  And if the goal is to make the latter move sometime in the next year, now seems to be a good time.  I didn't want to tackle it alone, so I had to work around Craig's schedule of games and all that...so here we are.

After we got back from our errands and dinner on Saturday, I got to work.  I assembled the bed rail that I got that seemed to be one of the few that works on convertible cribs...supposedly all convertible cribs.  I got it together fairly quickly, but in looking at the installation directions, it became apparent that "all" might be a bit of an exaggeration.  Jacob's crib is apparently one of the few with a solid mattress base.  Most seem to have a metal grid type base, whereas Jacob's is a thick, dense particle board type material.  When we ordered the crib over three years ago, who would have known that would be an issue?  Not that we'd have picked anything different, but still...annoying.  Also, the board that had to be installed across the front that holds in the mattress and stabilizes the frame made retrofitting it nearly impossible.  Ugh.  Hopefully they'll take back an open box.

Anyway, by this time it was too late to change the crib back, so we had to do what we could to make it work for the night.  I was deathly afraid of Jacob falling out (it's a good foot and a half at least), and after wracking my brain a bit, I had a brainstorm.  I dug into a bin of baby stuff in the crawl space--I had already been in there to get his bedskirt, which I needed since it looked funny without it once the base had been raised--and grabbed his breathable bumper.  The short side was too short, but the long part worked.  I strung it across the opening to provide a bit of a buffer to keep him in the bed.  While it's far from ideal and not foolproof (more on that in a second) it seemed like it would at least contain him a bit...better than a wide open mattress, anyway.

There was some debate about whether or not it was safe.  Hard to say if it's safer than falling out of the bed, but yes, it does create a gap.  However, it's breathable material, it's secured with velco, and it can easily come off if enough weight fell on it.  Also I think Jacob would be more likely to fall through than get stuck, and let's not forget we're dealing with an able-bodied child now, not a helpless infant, and I think if he got caught up in it somehow, he'd be able to either get himself out or be aware enough to scream for us.  I can't say it all with 100% certainty, because I know stranger things have happened, but in this case I think the odds are small enough to warrant giving it a try.

Here's a picture of our big boy in his big boy bed, complete with the bumper.  
You can barely see it, but we did put half of his stuffed animals on the floor as a crash pad in the event he fell out.
Jacob is still under the threat of going back to a crib if he doesn't act like a big boy, and if this just turns into a huge disaster for any reason, we'll either have to go back to the crib or think about moving him to a big boy bed in a big boy room sooner than originally planned.  He'll have more room to roll around in a twin size bed anyway.  But I'd like to take it one step at a time.  Ideally I think it would be cool to make the switch when a new baby is on the way, to make a big deal about a big boy room for a big brother...you know, make it all a part of the preparation process, so he gets that big changes are afoot, but that cool things are coming out of it as well.  However, if we have to do it early, I guess the bright side is that he'll get a little separation before a real baby is coming, and might not feel like the baby is taking over "his" room because he's happily settled in one of his own. I guess we'll spin it how we have to when the time comes.

Anyway, he's gone down pretty well for two nights and one nap so far.  He did some of the usual stalling, but that's par for the course.  He's also woken up early the last couple mornings, and creeped into our room very early Sunday morning after I forgot to close his door completely Saturday night.  I have a safety thing on the knob so he can't get out without help--basically trying to prevent him from wandering around at night, falling down the stairs, or playing with his toys--which is fine until he's potty trained, I'd say.  Still, he's allowed to look at books or play quietly if he wakes up early (though Sunday, considering how early he was up and how late he went down, I encouraged him to go back to sleep--no dice).  I've always been a little worried about the morning creep, just because prior to this it would mean he figured out how to get out of his crib.  Fortunately this time it was okay and I heard him coming, but it was still weird to open my eyes and see him there.

I did discover that my little system wasn't foolproof, however.  He did fall out in the middle of the night that first night, but although he was scared, it was brief.  I held him for a bit and suddenly he was falling asleep sitting up in my arms.  He also fell out during a brief tantrum pre-nap yesterday, a tantrum which had more to do with other factors, not with napping itself.  But that was him just being crazy, and I hope he learned a lesson from it.  Last night was fine, so hopefully he's getting the hang of it.  And hopefully one of these nights we can take the bumper off and he'll be fine.  But for now we'll see how it goes.  Another milestone down...maybe.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Bit of Fun Amidst the Challenges

Friday and yesterday were a trying days.  Jacob was so difficult on Friday that we didn't go to the Rattlers-Nationals lacrosse game (where Craig was working) like we planned.  He put food and his hands in his milk cup at dinner, and dumped his entire bowl of mac & cheese on the table, pretty much just to spite me.  And it's been that way pretty much all weekend.  He's definitely a kid that needs to test his boundaries, and I'm trying to be as consistent as possible so he no longer feels the need to test.  I'm pretty much instituting a "two-chance" rule when it comes to playing with his food.  If he doesn't eat it and keeps playing with it, it's going out.  Done.  It's gotten that bad.  Friday night he went to bed a little early and even slept in a bit, but that didn't prevent problems again yesterday.  It was more of the same, topped off by a morning where he begged to wear big boy underwear and then proceeded to pee in them, badly enough  that it got on the basement rug. 

After nap we had to had to head out to the pool store, and then we killed time at an amazing store called Hobby Lobby (like your average craft store on steroids) before heading to dinner.  We scoped out lots of cool potential decor for Jacob's big boy room, among other things.  For dinner we went to a place called Donuts Delite, which is legendary here in Rochester.  It was a famous donut place for many, many years, then closed a few years back and sat in a state of disrepair for a while.  Then within the last couple years Soccer Sam, whose TV show I hosted for a couple summers, bought it up, renovated it, and opened it as a franchise of his Salvatore's Pizza chain, which he started in high school (the same year I was born!  He's very young at heart, though!).  Of course, this location has donuts and uses the same recipe as the original owners.  We had never been there but had wanted to go, and it's not too often we're on that side of town.  So, off we went.

Hard to see, but there's a little cupola up top with a baker character named Dan Delite.  The facade is pretty much intact.
Outside there was a bench from a recent "Benches on Parade" type project.  This one was made out of coffee, pizza, and a donut.  Appropriate.
Jacob tried to eat the donut...multiple times.  Him putting odd things in or near his mouth has actually become a problem lately.  I don't think he was this bad even when he was teething.

We tried to get him to smile, but this was as good as it got.
We very much enjoyed our food, and while Jacob ate his quite well, the battle from the time we walked in until the food arrived wasn't an easy one.  Still, since he ate well, he got a donut.
Cute, yes...delicious, of course...but the sugar would come back to haunt us.

All smiles on a spinning stool on the way out!
When we got home I started working on Jacob's big boy bed.  Since we're home for the majority of this weekend and next weekend, I figured now was the time.  More on that in the next post...and yes, it really is that much of a story that it needs its own post...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wishy-Washy

Originally (like, last week) I was going to post about how I've (once again) had babies on the brain.  Last week I felt like everywhere I turned there was something having to do with babies, and it got me all excited just thinking about baby #2.  A friend of mine had a baby--her second, a boy this time after having a girl just a little older than Jacob--and the pregnancy blog I read finally posted a birth story for its most recent blogger.  That birth story was written with some crazy attention to detail, and I swear just reading it brought back minute, repressed memories from my own childbirth experience.  It wasn't gross or anything, just vivid.  And strangely, her experience was pretty much entirely unlike mine.  She went through miscarriages, was well beyond her due date, labored at home, sat in a tub, had a doula, didn't have drugs, and had a meconium scare.  But some of the details--like how so many moments were a blur when she was working through the pain, for example--reminded me of the sheer "along-for-the-ride" confusion and apprehension that accompanied me for a good week when Jacob was first born.  Just thinking about her blog post set off a bunch of other random associations, I think.  Like how being off my allergy meds in anticipation of this week's testing reminded me of when I went off them before I got pregnant.  Or that shopping for a baby gift reminded me of all of Jacob's adorable, tiny clothes from when he was little.  There were moments I was wistful for a sweet little baby face, that charming yet clueless stare, and the simple, happy moments that accompany milestones like smiling and rolling over.  I know this is probably bad, but I'm also missing that time where the baby is perfect...unable to get into mischief, talk back, hit, or do any other willfully nasty things.  No, it wasn't easy back then either, but there was a certain peace about that time.  And knowing the daily battles we have with Jacob, it's making me long for that...even though I know how ridiculously hard that time was.

And then along came this week and I'm having doubts I can do it all over again.  Rest assured, if all goes well we will...but it'll certainly be accompanied by a healthy dose of fear.  I don't have enough hours in the day right now, so how on earth can I split myself yet again to accommodate another tiny human being that takes up a significant amount of time?  Can we really pull off the daycare costs, even for a year?  If I'm this tired now, how will I feel when I'm doing twice-a-night feedings?  If Jacob's current behavior is stressing me out, how am I going to be when I'm extra sleep deprived and/or getting it from another baby, too?  How will I ever leave the house with two?  Am I really ready to start another 2-3+ years of diapers, the journey through solid foods, babyproofing, or worrying every single second about a helpless baby?  Craig and I are already fiercely protective of our downtime now as it is.  What happens when we don't really have any because we each have a kid to manage at any given moment?  No doubt, it's pretty overwhelming.

However, I always thought the syllabus for every single college class I ever took looked overwhelming, too, and I got through every one...with generally great results.  So, just like college, one day at a time I'll manage this stuff too.  I'll admit that there's still a bit of fear that it just won't go well, that no amount of sugarcoating or cheerleading will overcome the difficulties.  Maybe the stress of balancing it all will get to me, or one kid will suffer at the expense of another, or that it'll have an irreparable impact on the relatively pleasant life we have right now.  But I'm trying not to let that stuff cloud my mind.  We're all stronger than we think we are, and even though it all seems hard, there are ways to get through it. 

I always said that I wanted to have more than one, and I do want Jacob to have a sibling.  While I fear for his response when he figures out he's not the center of the universe, I know it will make him a more well-rounded, more connected person in the long run.  And people do this all the time.  I think I would have to use both hands to count the number of people I know that have recently had or are having a second baby that already have a kid around Jacob's age.  And there's at least few beyond that that have more than one already and are adding another.  And, you know, we bought a house to fit another kid, for goodness sakes.  One of those bedrooms would seem awfully empty without the second kid we pictured living in it.

I know we'll find a way through it but there will be some incredibly difficult moments.  That is one thing I am absolutely sure of.  But I feel like we just have to push through the hard stuff now and be rewarded down the road with a great family made up of a couple great kids.  I hope so, anyway. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Curse of the Pull-Ups

For a long time, I thought pull-ups were a genius invention. The protection of a diaper, the independence of underwear. Brilliant! But now, I am cursing them. In fact, I'm cursing the whole pull-ups/daycare/potty training combo. Here's the deal:

A while back when Jacob was making good potty training progress, I bought a pack of pull-ups. I went the cheap route, just in case, and got the Wegmans brand.  Originally my plan was to put them on over the big boy underwear to give Jacob the chance to feel wetness without risking damage to our carpeting. Then I began to realize that either Jacob's bladder wasn't ready or the underwear didn't really mask the diaper's presence (or a bit of both), and I gave it up for a while.

We used the pull-ups here and there since, mostly when we were home for a while, for easy potty access, and Jacob showed enthusiasm about the whole thing. It was easier to pull the pull-up up and down than to constantly put his diaper back on if it was dry enough. But it was never consistent because the enthusiasm didn't last long.  Inevitably I would get frustrated when Jacob didn't want to use the potty and used his pull-up as nothing more than a more expensive diaper, and we'd go back to diapers until Jacob showed promise again. But even then, every time he begs to wear one, he doesn't use the potty and it gets wet. And because pull-ups are absorbent like diapers, he doesn't care. 

Admittedly, kids are suckers for consistency so this probably hasn't been a great environment for encouraging real potty training. I'll admit that some of this is my fault. I should be more diligent about reminding him to use the potty. I should set timers and I should force him to sit. But I don't, I get busy, and even when I do remember, the struggle to pull him away from his toys is enough to make me want to forget. At the same time, I don't want to make a big deal about it and have him rebel.  I know that it's as much a challenge to get me to stick with the program as it is him, but we're rapidly approaching his third birthday, which was my target for hardcore potty training, if necessary.

Of course, now that we're there, I'm not sure I want to burn a week's vacation just sitting at home trying to get him trained. I keep having this feeling that potty training has become a part of the power struggle, and it's not going to happen until Jacob values dry pants over getting his way. He knows he's not supposed to pee or poop in his pants--regardless of his underwear of choice--but he does. And he lies about it when we ask him if he's dry. I know now he can hold it, as he's done it before. So ultimately it's an issue with dragging himself away from his playtime and getting it done.

At daycare they use the potty at predictable intervals and there's peer pressure. The other day they asked me to send pull-ups in with him, since they're wasting a lot of diapers when he's dry at potty time. I sent in some of what I had, only to have them come back home because they were the "wrong ones"--meaning, they need the ones with velcro on the sides. I get that it's hard to use the ones without because it means you have to take off their pants and shoes to put on a new one, but still...The only ones with that feature are Huggies (though apparently Target has that too), which means that not only are the cheapest ones (Wegmans) not an option, but now I have to spend even more than the pull-ups were already costing. But last Thursday night we stopped at Target and I picked up a pack of Huggies Pull-Ups, just like the other kids wear. Jacob seemed very excited.

Well, this morning I came in and one of his teachers asked if he was wearing a pull-up. I said no, because we always just put a diaper on in the morning. Per what I said earlier, I generally only try the pull-ups when Jacob's home for a while and we have a shot at using the potty consistently. She said that he hadn't been as dry the last couple days with the pull-ups, so maybe the diapers were confusing him. Ugh. Maybe. Or, ummm, maybe he stopped trying because he got what he wanted. I don't think he's confused. I just think he doesn't care. Is that too negative of me?

So, tomorrow morning perhaps we'll put on a pull-up and see if he makes it through dry. If not...I don't know. When we were at Target on Thursday I also bought a couple pairs of plastic pants. I thought those were a thing of the past (or at least of old school cloth diapering), but no, they're still around. And they're cheap. My thinking is that we might be able to pull off big boy underwear and plastic pants. I have to go back and exchange the ones I got for a smaller size, because 1) they look huge; 2) Jacob is skinny; and 3) we're only putting them over underwear, not diapers. We may try that at home and see how it goes. I don't think daycare will be up for that, but you never know.

It's at this point that I'm cursing the whole daycare thing, though. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the opportunity to work, and I'm happy that he seems generally happy there. But I have to imagine potty training is a heck of a lot easier for stay-at-home moms. They have the time to be consistent all day at home, and don't have to worry about taking vacation days to make it happen.  Back in the day when stay-at-home moms ruled, they probably didn't need to invent pull-ups because everyone just did potty training "boot camp" style and got it done. Us working parents don't have ample access to time to devote to it, so we rely on crutches like pull-ups and hope it gets us through until our child decides they're ready.  I mean, what if I take off a whole week and work on it, only to fail?  I've just wasted a week of vacation AND I have that much less time to use later to try it again when things are really getting desperate.  I'd really like to do something with our vacation this summer besides potty training--though a few days at home would be fine since I have carpet to replace, carpet to clean and a fireplace and central air system that could probably use some inspecting. 

But when it comes right down to it, I'm not sure our stubborn yet adorable child is mentally ready to be a big boy (despite his protestations to the contrary).  If he's letting a silly thing like a power struggle, or even a two-minute break from playtime, come between him and his beloved sports-themed big boy underwear, that tells me there's a bigger underlying issue at hand and we may be (nearly) powerless to overcome it for now.  Not that we won't try.  In the meantime I'll work on overcoming my laziness about the whole thing and see if we can make the plastic pants work at all.  If some underwear needs to be sacrificed in the meantime, so be it. We need to make this happen soon, and apparently no potty prize, potty chart, fancy undies, guilt, peer pressure, or gentle encouragement is going to do the trick.  Back to the drawing board...