Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween!

Hard to believe, but today was Jacob's fourth Halloween.  How is that even possible?  From a bee to a mouse to a fireman to Batman, here we are.  His busted lip was two years ago already!  Time certainly does fly.

Sunday Lori came over to carve pumpkins with us.  Jacob was a little disobedient so in the end it was hard to keep him around for the carving process.  He kept trying to steal the carving tool (not sharp) and stab the pumpkin, and he wasn't really into digging out the guts.  He couldn't quite grasp how to separate the seeds from the pulp, either, so ummmm...he was a little useless for the process, which was a bit of a bummer. 

Lori had the misfortune of picking up two rock-hard pumpkins (pie pumpkins, maybe?) and struggled through the carving process.  We had our two, one big and one small, and carving went well.  I even managed to carve a Batman pumpkin! 
L to R: Our big one, Batman, Lori's spider, and Lori's jack o' lantern

Lori's pumpkins...she was a trooper.  Even a real knife had a hard time with these!
Close-up of my Bat Symbol

We roasted the seeds (three large batches, all made slightly differently) and watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". Jacob really liked the pumpkin seeds! After Lori left I spent most of the evening baking up my famous pull-apart (monkey) bread for work. I do a double batch and stack them, but I have to do them the night before. I also made sure everything was ready for this morning--costumes, snacks, laundry, etc. Let me tell you, there's nothing like Halloween to make you feel like a "real" mom--having to remember a million things, get a little crafty, plan ahead, and get abnormally excited about things, among other tasks.  Last night it just never seemed to end!
 
This morning it took a little convincing for Jacob to wear his Batman costume.  He's been wanting to be a fireman again, for some reason (the helmet, apparently), but we convinced him Batman was cooler (add that to the list of things I never thought I'd say!).  We did manage to get him to pose with the Batman pumpkin before we left:


I was all ready with my costume as well.  Here's a full length shot that shows a little more than the shot from the party...

I ended up winning the best overall costume prize, which was cool.  Not a lot of competition in my office, though.  But it was nice to wear my grandma's old dress (now I wish more than ever that I could find a picture of her in it!) and appreciate the fact that it only cost me about 10 bucks total.  Everyone seemed to like it a lot, and over the last three years I've managed to fool everyone into thinking I'm some sort of costume genius.  I was a Deal or No Deal model two years ago, and a grocery bag last year.  I just need a little random inspiration, but without that I'm toast.

After work it was the mad rush to get home, eat dinner, get Jacob changed, bundle up and get out to trick-or-treat.  It was a bit of a struggle.  Next year I think I will rely on fast food.  We did manage to get through most of dinner before the first trick-or-treaters arrived, but then it took us a good half hour to convince Jacob to get in his warm clothes and his costume.  As it was I had to rig up his costume a bit (good thing I bought velcro to make a new Batman cape for him (work in progress), because I used it to extend his neckline around bulky warmer clothes.  Amidst his reluctance, we told him he didn't have to go, but that he'd regret it (like he does when he decides too late that he wants to do something, which happens often).  Eventually we got him out, and had the opportunity to snap a couple pictures.
Better shot of our pumpkins--I can't take credit for either design.  One was stencils that came with our carving tools, and Batman was printed from the Internet.  I guess a couple kids really liked it...and I think it looks pretty cool, too!

Ready to go...finally!
I took him out this year. Craig took him in sleet and snow last year, so I got off way easy! We walked around a little part of our neighborhood and were gone maybe a half hour. We hit up about 10 houses. They were a little spread out, as our neighborhood has a lot of dark houses...boo. Jacob still got a pretty good haul, including one house with a full bag of Skittles.  At one house that he knows has a lacrosse net in the yard, he asked repeatedly about shooting on it.  At another he was apparently fascinated by some fancy lights along the long stairway to the porch and kept wanting to have a dance party!  I made one good call, though--Jacob had a flashing skull clip-on toy that came in a cereal box years ago, and I clipped that to his pumpkin bucket for a little extra visibility.  It hung inside the pumpkin and lit it up when it flashed...really cool!  We came back home on our way back around, and Jacob decided that was enough for him.  I was ready to do more, but in he stayed.  I think we got less kids this year than last, despite better weather.  It's too bad our neighborhood doesn't have a little more action, though sometimes that's not a good thing for other reasons.

So, another Halloween is in the books.  Pretty good, all things considered.  Hopefully next year he'll be even more into it, and with any luck, hopefully we'll be carting around another little cutie, too.  Still working on that one, but no luck yet.  Off to get some sleep now...it's been a busy few days!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hope

So, Monday night I ended up taking Jacob to the doctor.  He's had a nasty cold for a good three weeks or so, and it didn't seem to be getting any better.  Runny nose all the time and lots of coughing.  Of course, I think he passed it to me somewhere along the way, but until the last couple days it hadn't been too bad.  A little sniffliness and some coughing...up until the last couple days where the congestion's been worse and the coughs almost feel productive but aren't.  It's definitely no fun for any of us.  Heck, last night I thought he was going to cough until he puked.  And given his history of nagging coughs, I figured we might as well get him checked out.  Thank goodness for insurance without a co-pay for Jacob visits.

I picked Jacob up from daycare.  It was pouring rain and we had about 25 minutes to kill, so I decided to get some gas and visit the bank ATM before looping back toward the doctor's office.  The rain was miserable but the clouds were pretty stinkin' awesome from downtown up to Greece, dark in some areas, bright sun in others.  After getting gas I swung my car around to exit the gas station, and all of a sudden, there it was--a gorgeous rainbow!  It was so bright and beautiful.  I carefully fumbled for my camera (with my mom bag I now carry it with me most of the time), and quickly snapped a picture.
Slightly obscured by a wire, but you get the idea...
By the time I could take a picture while not driving (after visiting the ATM), the color had dulled a bit but it was still beautiful.  I especially like the contrast with the clouds and trees in this one.  It was bright behind me, which highlighted those gorgeous trees even more.
It's hard to see here, but there was this radiating effect coming off the bottom of the rainbow.  If you look closely below the green-blue part, you can see a couple extra lines of pink, which are the top of additional mini-rainbows that were smaller than your average double rainbow.  It was really cool and I wish I could have captured it better!
The rainbow had faded completely by the time we got to the doctor's and got out of the car.  However, the sky was still pretty awesome looking between the setting sun and crazy clouds.  Suffice it to say it was one of the more lovely drives to the doctor we've ever had.

I'll admit I was pretty amped up about the rainbow, not just because it was beautiful, but because I honestly believe that rainbows are directly sent from God and their purpose is not far off from what it was in the Bible after the great flood.  I firmly believe there's a promise in each rainbow, and they've been well-timed at many points in my life where it was just the reassurance I needed.  Same goes for Monday, where I was still obsessing a bit over the whole milk thing and just generally frustrated with Jacob's behavior.  It definitely gave me a sense of calm. 

We ended up seeing the elder statesman of the doctors in the practice.  He's probably only my parents' age, but I think he's the oldest by quite a bit.  He looks a bit like Groucho Marx and he's definitely an energetic guy.  He checked out Jacob and gave us a prescription for antibiotics, just because his ears appeared to have some fluid and it seemed wise to be proactive.  I didn't really get a vibe of when we can expect the cold to go away, but I'm hoping the antibiotics help that too. 

After he finished up, I started to ask him his opinion of the milk experiment, and before I could even get it out of my mouth, he stopped me.  First he explained that milk is not a necessary element of our diets--that's just something doctors say to keep the dairy farmers in business.  However, he said, people like to blame food for kids' problems--dyes, etc.--but it really just takes firm parenting.  Don't hit, don't be mean, but use a firm voice, be consistent, and take away privileges.  Oy.  I mean, nothing I didn't already know, of course.  We've tried all that and it hasn't worked.  We'll keep trying it, but in the meantime it'd be nice to get a little help and a break from constant firm voices and threats.  And I am totally not normally one of those people who wants to believe all that stuff about additives and whatever...but as I said the other day, the mere fact that many people, including a real, live person I have met, saw such a marked difference in their kids makes me think there's at least some validity to it.  Do all kids need discipline?  Certainly.  Could diet impact things?  I'm pretty darn sure of it.  Might it help my kid?  Not sure.  Jury's still out but he's still been enough of a handful that I'm thinking it's a no.  I'll give it to the end of the soy milk, though.  He had a fairly good morning this morning, but our normal routine was a little off so maybe that helped...but my hopes were dashed when we found out that Jacob can't go on the field trip tomorrow because he was THAT bad today.  Ugh.  Anyway, it was a little frustrating to not even get the full question out, as I was actually more interested in his response of soy vs. almond vs. coconut milk, but it never even got to that point as his discipline lecture sort of put the kibbosh on it all.  And while I appreciate his sentiment--seriously, I do, as it was pretty much how I was brought up--but knowing that there may be some validity in it somewhere out there actually got me a little mad.  However, I like our normal doctor and the practice works for us otherwise, so I'll just let it pass and see how things go from here.

Still, despite the frustrations we have with Jacob's behavior, things could be so much worse.  The rainbow was a reminder of that, that no matter what, He's got us covered.  It won't always be easy, but we'll figure it out.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Open House

Last night was open house night at daycare.  We went to Jacob's classroom and experienced a typical circle time, craft project, and cooking project.  I was interested to see how it all went, knowing that there would be other kids there, not to mention their parents.  I'm sure Jacob is usually a lot better at daycare than he tends to be with us, just because of peer pressure, but I also know that he doesn't get "Cooperative" checked every day, either. 

When I got to daycare, he looked like a ragamuffin--snot all over his sleeves, different pants than he had this morning thanks to his second accident this week, and a little blood behind his ear from some sort of self-inflicted injury.  Lovely...just how I want him to look when everyone else's parents are around.

Once everyone arrived, we sat in a circle to see how their daily "circle time" goes.  They do songs with the days of the week, months of the year, and the alphabet.  They go through letters and the kids provide words that start with those letters, then hold up numbers, colors and shapes to be identified.  Finally, they read a story and do a couple little songs with motions (Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear Turn Around and the Hokey Pokey).  It's pretty cool to see a bunch of three year olds sit nicely and participate like that.  They even have little mousepads with their names on them so they know where to sit.  It's cute. 

Of course, right away Jacob didn't want to sit up, didn't want to participate, and kept trying to grab toys or books.  He did well during the alphabet/word activity, though everyone laughed when all of the words he supplied had to do with sports or Batman.  Yep, that's our kid.  He got a little antsy again during the numbers, and ended up on Craig's lap, sitting at an angle where he couldn't really see the shapes or colors to participate in that part.  Eventually he got to be a major distraction, and then started screaming in the middle of storytime, at which point Craig took him out.  I think he thought he was going to get a beat-down or something, because he was totally freaking out.  He missed the Teddy Bear thing and the Hokey Pokey, which was a bummer because it was really cute watching the other kids do it.  In general I just sat there mortified because my kid was the one being disruptive, not listening, and making us look ever-so-slightly like incompetent parents.

After he calmed down, it was time for a craft.  It was basically just sticking adhesive foam shapes (Halloween, of course!) on a piece of paper.  We had to help with peeling off the backings and punching out eyes and mouths, but the kids were good about it.  They all sat nicely.  After that was the long awaited treat--pumpkin cut-out sugar cookies!  They each got an unfrosted cookie, a dollop of orange frosting, and a pile of chocolate chips.  The kids had a bit of a tough time frosting, but parents stepped in to varying degrees and helped out.  The kids then downed their cookies.  Jacob was the first to finish, but then again he hadn't had dinner yet since the open house started so soon after pickup time.  I just wish they would have had some for us!

Afterward the kids started playing with toys and parents just sort of hung out.  Throughout the evening, we really didn't talk to many other parents.  I guess neither of us are particularly good at small talk, but then again, no one really talked to us either.  At the end of the evening we did have a chat with the one mom (probably the one that looked most like someone I'd want to hang out with) about hockey, since she knew Jacob liked it.  It was pretty short-lived, though I did also ask her how old her baby was (10 weeks!) and we commiserated over sending babies off to daycare.  But other than that, we didn't really talk to anyone.  Maybe people saw Jacob's behavior and felt like they didn't want to open the door to encouraging play dates or anything.  Maybe they just see each other more at drop-off or pick-up, so they know each other better.  Maybe they've been together, doing events like these, since the beginning.  I'm still sad we didn't get to know other parents better at Jacob's old daycare until the last day, because it turned out that most of them were pretty cool. 

I'm not really sure about the whole play date thing anyway, because I feel like we don't even have time for play dates.  Our weekends are jammed and evenings are short enough anyway, so I don't know when we'd fit more in.  Does it really matter, though, since Jacob's entire day is like a big play date?  Maybe playdates are more for non-daycare kids.  As he gets older I'm sure he'll want to play with another kid outside of school, and that's fine, but hopefully we have a little time before that.  Based on everything I read on blogs, there's good reason to be anxious about playdates...though they do have upsides, too.

As a whole, I was so annoyed by how the evening went.  Every fear I had pretty much came to fruition--Jacob was a mess, he misbehaved and we probably looked pathetic trying to corral him, and we didn't really fit in with the other parents.  On the bright side, it was cool to see what he does each day, and I can definitely tell that circle time has improved his letter and number recognition.  Despite his behavior, the assistant director did say that normally he's sitting so nice and participating well during circle time, so he must have just been "showing off" for us.  Why he feels the need to "show off" like that, I have no idea.  He seems to take great pride in making us crazy, and I'm just not sure how to help him understand that's a bad thing.  He doesn't learn from his mistakes, so he doesn't get that disobeying and not listening seems to end in an injury (usually from fighting us and falling), a punishment, or some sort of yelling.  Never a good outcome.  One of these days, like everything else, hopefully he'll figure it out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Test Drive

Last weekend we had a busy few days.  I took a half day on Friday so we could get on the road to Buffalo by mid-afternoon.  Craig had to be up in Canada for work by dinnertime, and since we had plans later in the weekend together, it only made sense to carpool.  We picked Jacob up from daycare--it was snack time and he was so ridiculously cute when we got there, getting up from his seat and running over to give us a hug--and we headed out.  Craig dropped us off at my parents', and he continued on to Canada. 

We had a relatively pleasant evening with my parents, although the low light was right as we were starting dinner and Jacob decided to play with his plate.  He dropped it, and although the plates are shatterproof, he must have hit in on a sweet spot because the thing shattered into thousands of tiny pieces.  I had a similar one break in the microwave on me a few weeks ago, and let me tell you, those shards are evil.  It was just amazing to see since we'd probably all dropped plates like that many times with no issues.  Leave it to Jacob.

Saturday my mom was off to a church retreat before we were even awake, and we spent the day with my dad.  We had a lazy morning before I went for a quick run, and then we had a quick and relatively uneventful lunch at Arby's.  Jacob almost fell asleep on the way there, and although he was antsy, he did end up eating well eventually.  Back for a nap, and a little while after he woke up, Craig swung back through to pick us up.

We headed off to Craig's parents', where we were getting dressed up for a Halloween party hosted by the school our niece and nephews attend.  Considering how bright my costume is, I was a little nervous about dressing up...partly because we didn't know anyone and partly because we weren't sure how many other parents would be dressed up.  Fortunately, it was fine, but I definitely got noticed!  Craig had originally wanted to be Robin to go with Jacob's Batman, but he couldn't find this caped t-shirt he saw in his size.  So, at the last minute he settled on Superman.  And at the last second, when faced with the dilemma of what to wear on the bottom, he ended up putting on a pair of dress pants and a dress shirt, but left the dress shirt open so he could be Clark Kent, mid-transformation.  Smart guy.
Nope, not sure what face he thought he was making, but it just makes the picture funnier.
As I mentioned, I definitely got noticed in my costume.  Hard to miss someone in a full-length bright yellow dress wearing three-inch cork platform wedges and a basket of fruit as a hat.  At least the first person who saw me knew what I was!  I'm hoping to get a better picture on Halloween at work, but here you go for now:
In case I didn't mention it before, that dress came from my grandma's house.  I noticed it on a garment rack among all of her very nice, but very "grandma" clothes.  Considering the nearly bare midriff and very bright color, I couldn't even fathom my grandma having worn something like this.  It may have been a Hawaii purchase, but even still...I was perplexed.  However, every time I went back to her house to look around, it caught my eye, and finally I tried it on.  When it fit, the wheels started turning.  Initially I was just going to be a Hawaiian tourist or something, but then the concept of the fruit hat was too hard to pass up, and voila--lots of engineering later, this is it!  All of the fruit was fake except the banana (long story), but both the moms and our nine-year-old niece and her friends thought it was pretty darn cool.  Now I can't wait to wear it to work!  Of course, I did learn that wearing a fruit basket involves excellent posture and is better suited to when I don't have to turn my head suddenly or bend down to deal with a crazy three year old.  Some of the fruit took a tumble now and then, but I think for work it'll be fine.

Jacob looked adorable as ever in his costume.  Here he is enjoying popcorn...as usual.

And this is what happened when I told him to show me his muscles...

We had a good time, though Jacob was a little thrown off by everyone being in costume.  He didn't recognize any of the family--which in some cases was understandable!  He mostly just wanted to run around, which was difficult given my high heels and fruit basket issues...and particularly when Craig got a call from his big boss and I had to manage Jacob solo for a good 15 minutes or so!  He was running around like a maniac, and I was so afraid he'd fall and rip his costume.  He did fall, and he cried hard for a couple minutes even though there was no apparent injury...and thankfully, no damage to the costume either.  Not that he was eager to get involved with any of the party activities--there were a lot of cute ones--but I was in no rush to do any of the ones that involved mess, so it was just as well. 

We had a pretty lazy Sunday, as well, before heading back to N.T. for the annual Binkley family Oktoberfest.  We had a good time, though Jacob ran Craig ragged playing sports, which was easy since there was plenty of sports equipment around.  The food was awesome and it was great to see my family.  Even though we did the strategic "put him in his pajamas and leave a little before bedtime" routine, Jacob was awake the whole way home.  He went down easy, though, thankfully.  And now we're off to another week...

Monday, October 24, 2011

More Thoughts on The Milk Project

Well, I officially sprung the plan into action this morning when I dropped Jacob off at daycare and told the director and a couple of the teachers about it.  We'll see how it goes.  I'm hoping no one slips up, but then again, it's in their best interest for him to behave better as well! 

The responses I've gotten have been interesting.  Honestly, I feel a bit crazy even talking about all of this, since it seems a bit pseudoscience-ish.  It's definitely not a well-known connection, judging by the response from the daycare director and the woman who handles their food.  They joked that maybe they should take most of the kids off milk and see how it goes!  However, one of the teachers (not Jacob's) who was in the room at the time is gluten-free, and she mentioned that when she made the change she noticed a lot of changes beyond the physical.  It had an impact on her emotional state as well.  It seemed to give the whole thing a little extra validation, and everyone seemed to agree it's worth a try. 

As I said, the whole thing seems a little far-fetched even to me, but knowing that there's some research, plenty of bloggers, and even someone I actually know who's seen it work, it makes me feel like it's worth a try.  I'll admit that when I hear people screwing around with their kids' diets, I'm always a little suspect and wonder what bit of "research" they happened to read that prompted the change.  There's absolutely no reason for me to really think that way, because no one can judge anyone else's choices until you've been in their place.  Deal with a problem long enough and you'll be willing to try almost anything to solve it.  When it comes to Jacob or even my loss of smell issues, that's definitely the case.  Some fixes are harder than others, and this seemed like an easy enough one to try.  The long term maintenance may take some work, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

I know there's the whole prevailing wisdom of, "We all ate dairy/gluten/nuts for our entire lives and never had these problems," but how many kids lived in pain and misery for years because no one knew any better?  It's sort of like the argument about modern safety measures, like car seats.  I hear people talk once in a while about how years ago, some of us had no more protection than a nip-nap in the car and yet we survived.  But what doesn't come up is how many kids didn't survive because of the deficient safety standards?  Same argument...except in the case of nutrition, kids are exposed to so much more now in the way of chemicals, crappy processed food, and God knows what else, so it's potentially a very different world than previous generations grew up in.  I also think that as people with hidden recessive genes for allergies and other issues reproduce, the genes become dominant and problems keep getting worse.  I'm no expert, but just an educated guess based on years of those brown eyes/blue eyes charts in science class.  And with autism and ADHD, perhaps we finally have the research and knowledge now to know that kids aren't just learning disabled or "difficult" children, but that there's a real, specific problem causing their troubles.  Increased diagnoses may happen because people are quick to jump on the bandwagon, but I think there's some legitimate things going on there, too. 

I did a little more searching around yesterday and seemed to see a lot of blogs and articles talking about taking out both dairy and gluten together.  That seems to be the combo of choice for a lot of people, especially when it comes to autism.  I don't think Jacob is autistic, nor do I think he has full-blown ADHD, but I think he exhibits some characteristics that might make some wonder.  It's a fine line, though, between normal three-year-old behavior and more troubling behavior, so it's hard to tell.  Jacob can sometimes be very social, but then at other times he won't look you in the eye or answer direct questions.  Sometimes he can't focus long enough to put on a pair of pajamas without being reminded 20 times that he needs to do it, but then he'll spend an hour playing contentedly with his hockey guys.  He's so clumsy, but then he can sometimes throw a baseball better than I can.  So, in either case, I still think that he'd be on a functional level, which is a relief.  Maybe things could get worse, but for now at worst things are still manageable.  I would just rather spend less time yelling at Jacob. 

If taking milk out of his diet works, great.  If we see small improvements, maybe we take it to the next level and strip out all dairy.  If it doesn't work and things seem to get worse, maybe we'll have to resort to the experimenting with gluten, too.  Even crazier, my friend emailed me something she read about a child whose behavior improved when salicylates were removed from her diet.  They're found in, among other things, grapes and apples.  Those are two major fruit staples in our world (not to mention juice!) so I'd hate to have to resort to something like that, either.  I suppose the possibilities are endless.

I'm in awe of people that have to strip their diets of certain things due to allergies or other sensitivities.  I marvel at how Craig's brother's family has done with managing our nephew's nut and egg allergies.  That's certainly more of a life-or-death situation so the motivation is considerably stronger, but considering I struggle to figure out what to cook my family now, I can't even imagine what I'd do with other limitations.  You make it work, but I really don't want to go there unless it's truly necessary.  It makes eating (especially in public) a major challenge, and it's a heck of a lot more expensive, too.  But if I see a major improvement in Jacob, I assume it will all be worth it.  It's just hard to know early on how it'll work or how far you'll be willing to take it, particularly in a case like this where it's more or less a voluntary change.   

I'm not particularly excited by the dairy-free options out there, unfortunately.  My other sister-in-law emailed me last night mentioning that they use coconut milk, rather than soy, because soy can mimic estrogen in the body and have negative side effects of its own.  I remember reading that a while back, too, though from other things I've read it seems like it's ok in moderation.  We've used some soy meat replacement products before without issue, and I think one cup of milk at dinner should be fine.  If not, we can look into coconut milk or almond milk as a replacement/supplement.  The non-dairy milks lack certain vitamins or minerals, even when they've been fortified, and Jacob's diet isn't always broad enough to be able to add those things back in with other items, so that's a concern as well.  Jacob still has to like the taste, too, so that's going to be another consideration.  I don't want the go-to beverage to automatically be juice, either, and I know water only goes so far even though he loves it a lot of the time.  Suffice it to say that we'll have a lot of research to do, regardless of the result of this experiment.  We might have just opened a crazy can of worms...

I'm not even sure what I should be wishing for at this point.  Part of me is so desperate for a sweet, good listener of a child that I hope it works.  But that would mean he could have life-long issues with behavior and be banned from milk and potentially other dairy products, which stinks.  I feel like I should just be hoping it's a phase, that I can suck it up and deal with the difficulties until he simply outgrows some of this behavior.  But, oh, to feel instant relief and know we didn't cause his behavior by bad parenting...but that could mean it might be in our genetic makeup and show up worse in another child...

Yep...can of worms, indeed.  More to come...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Milk Project

At some point in the next couple days, when I finally get up the guts and Jacob is out of his current milk, I'm going to try to take him off milk.  Not all dairy, yet, but milk as a drink.  This is a big deal because Jacob drinks a lot of milk.  He's loved it since the beginning and has always drunk it so well.  I ordered it with pride (white milk in particular) out at restaurants, and kept Jacob's juice drinking to a minimum.  SO what's changed?

Well, a friend of a friend has a little boy about Jacob's age, and he was quite a handful.  From all I've heard, he sounds about as difficult, but he tended to be even more challenging at times, to the point of being destructive.  The little boy's grandma happened to read about a connection between ADHD and milk, and mentioned it to his mother.  She did some research, and it sounded like it had potential to help her son, even if he was too young to actually be diagnosed with ADHD.  She started him on soy milk, and within a couple days, he was a different child.  He was still three, of course, but he listened better, behaved better, and was just a more pleasant kid to be around.  And that wasn't even taking him off all dairy, which seems to be the ideal.

Long story short, something about the way casein in milk interacts with the bodies of kids with ADHD that makes their symptoms worse.  It's basically like an allergy.  Considering how much milk Jacob drinks, it's amazing to think that he might actually be allergic to it, but you never know.  Back when he was a tiny baby, I had a suspicion that he had a sensitivity to cow's milk because it seemed to make him gassy, or at least generally uncomfortable.  I stopped having milk, both as a drink and in my cereal, but I couldn't quit dairy completely.  Whether he just got better on his own or changing my diet worked, I'm not sure, but I figured he just outgrew it since he seemed to tolerate milk fine. 

It's hard to say if it might be affecting his behavior.  I mean, his intake of regular milk was probably right around the time that he started to get a little more difficult, but that could just be coincidence since that was when he started to get more mobile and more independent.  Nowadays, he tends to get crazy at the end of meals, but is that the milk he's drinking, or is it just boredom and normal, age-appropriate antsiness? 

In the end, I figured it was worth a shot.  If there's any chance that changing that part of his diet, even just a bit, will make a difference, it's worth trying.  I know that Jacob can be an amazing kid, and I wouldn't want to change the essence of who he is...but if I can make him an easier kid to be around by making a change like that, then it's something I'm willing to try.  I bought one half gallon of soy milk, and he'll drink that this week.  I'll have to ask daycare to give him only water or juice, and skip milk in his morning cereal.  I'm not thrilled about the thought of losing our ability to do milk in public, nor spending twice as much for half as much milk, but I feel that it's only fair that we give it a shot.  If it works, then we have a happier kid.  If it doesn't, then we'll just hope he grows out of it and take satisfaction in knowing we tried.  And hopefully we could take that as some evidence that he doesn't have any blossoming ADHD issues.  But you never know. 

In between some pleasantness lately he's had some ridiculous meltdowns about nothing (the bowl his cereal is in, issues about getting clothes or pajamas on), and he tends to ignore us or defy us most of the time.  While on the surface it doesn't sound any different than most three year olds, I feel like some of the tantrums are too intense and too frequent to be normal.  He needs to be told over and over to do simple things, and he can get rather violent out of nowhere.  It gets exhausting, and as I tell him all the time, I'm tired of yelling at him.  I'd like to give it a shot and see how it goes.  He's had a cold for a while now, so I think we'll be going into the doctor sometime this week.  I can ask their thoughts on it then. 

It's a big step and I'd hate to set him up for a life of expensive, hard-to-find milk, too many sweeter-than-necessary beverages, and a potential for lactose intolerance (if he's away from milk for a long time I'm guessing that could happen), but for now, it's just one week, one half gallon, and an attempt at bettering all of our lives.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Alarming...

Earlier this week, there was a small fire at Jacob's daycare.  It wasn't actually in the daycare, but in the boiler room of the church attached to the daycare.  The boiler overheated and started smoking, setting off the fire alarms to the whole building.  It happened in the middle of naptime, which had to be a little chaotic.  Any fire that there may have been was quickly contained, but according to the note on the door at daycare, all of the kids were out in about 30 seconds anyway.  Pretty impressive considering they were all napping. 

Ironically, I happened to call a cafe just across the street so I could order some treats for a farewell party for a co-worker whose last day was yesterday, and when I mentioned that my son's daycare was across the street (I was trying to schedule the pickup of the treats around the same time as daycare dropoff the next morning), they mentioned that there had been emergency vehicles somewhere around the church, and that a portion of the road was closed.  They didn't know what happened, and it took until the next morning when I dropped Jacob off to see the note and know what happened.

In the meantime, I had asked Jacob if he saw fire trucks that day, and he said something about police cars.  While he didn't mention the fire alarm, he did say something about his socks getting wet and being in a teacher's car because he was cold.  I totally didn't put two and two together until I heard what really happened. 

Once that connection was made, I had two different trains of thought.  One was the realization that I really need to listen closely to everything Jacob says.  Those two items of information were weird, and I just sort of glossed over them.  In the future I need to ponder the random things he says a little more and try to get to the root of them.  Jacob doesn't always make that easy, since he talks about such random stuff and often ignores questions completely.  But the whole "in a teacher's car" thing seemed odd to me, but he didn't seem thrown off by anything so I guess I ultimately wasn't either.  Still, it was a reminder to think a little more when he rattles off a bunch of randomness.

Second, I realized how relieved I was that the whole thing was pretty much a non-event.  No damage to the daycare (and minimal to the church, I'd think), and a quick, safe exit for the kids.  Jacob didn't seem the least bit phased and didn't admit to being scared by the fire alarm in the middle of his nap.  God knows that would totally freak me out!  But I guess that's good, because it probably also indicates that the teachers stayed calm, too.  Every time I hear about a tragedy at a daycare, be it a fire, shooting, or stabbing, or even a teacher getting arrested, I always wonder about how it all tortures the parents.  Most recently, with the tsunami in Japan, the tornadoes in the U.S., or the earthquakes in New Zealand, I always think about how insanely panicked I would be if something like that happened here and I couldn't find out what happened at daycare and couldn't get there immediately.  I would be overcome with fear just wondering what had happened.  Was the building intact?  Would Jacob be okay?  How guilty would I feel if something happened to him while he was there?  Unthinkable. 

Luckily, in this case I already knew he was fine before I knew anything had happened.  I'm so happy that it wasn't serious and the daycare was untouched.  I'm grateful everything went as planned with the evacuation, and I'm relieved that Jacob seems completely unaffected by it all.  As much as it seems like a non-event now, I guess it's just another reminder to be thankful for our blessings.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Time isn't on my side...

I feel like no matter what I do these days, I'm battling time.  There isn't enough of it...ever.  I'm sure that's the refrain of moms everywhere, but for working moms, I'd have to think that the time crunch is even worse.  I could be wrong, because there's probably some angle I'm not thinking of.  While I'm sure some stay-at-home moms probably think some days don't go quickly enough, I have no doubt that keeping your children occupied all day doesn't leave much time for anything else!  But all I know is that a working mom has the crunch coming from all sides--getting their paying job done, housework, time with their kids, time with their spouse, time with friends and family, time alone--and there just aren't enough hours in the day to give everything its just due. 

As I said, I'm sure that stay-at-home moms have their own version of this, but at least they can sneak in moments of time with their kids here and there, and even if it's not quality time, at least they're in their presence for most of the day.  I don't even see my child for over nine hours per day, which is the vast majority of the time he's awake.  It's sad.  It is what it is, though, and I knew this would be the case when we decided to have a baby.  The reality of it is still pretty crazy, though, and I try not to think about it too much. 

I definitely think if I stayed home I'd still have hard time focusing on Jacob.  I'd see housework to do (and feel guiltier about not doing it since I'm physically there), have errands to run, and still want to spend time on the computer reading the blogs and articles I do now when I have a free second or while I eat my lunch.  And, of course, this blog won't write itself :) 

But even with a multitude of distractions, I'd have to assume that I'd inherently get in a little more quality time with Jacob, even in the form of sharing meals (if you can call that "quality" time based on how eating goes some days), putting him down for his nap, or even a little snuggle time once he gets up.  Our weekend days are usually busy, and even if I'm not on the floor playing with Jacob a lot, we're still talking and interacting.  Which is a heck of a lot more than we do when we're 10 miles apart most days. 

Don't get me wrong--I'm actually a little okay with the whole daycare thing.  I mean, because he started so early, we haven't had a lot of the separation anxiety issues that kids tend to have if they start daycare or school later in life after a long period of time at home.  It's just always how life has been, and he doesn't know any differently.  I like that he gets social interaction with other kids, and I like that there are people who have actually studied education (I think) teaching him things.  If I had the time I could work on those things more, of course, but exposure to people with experience teaching crazy three year olds can't hurt.  Peer pressure does amazing things, too.  He might not want to learn it from me purely out of spite (or whatever cranky reason causes him to not listen to anything else I say), so it's good to know he's getting it somewhere else.  In theory they'll fill in whatever gaps I miss, and vice versa.  I like that he gets that experience, however I wish he only got it three days a week instead of five.

As it is now, our mornings are rushed.  I try to let Jacob sleep as late as he can before getting him up--though normally he does wake up on his own--and from that point on I feel like a drill sergeant directing him to the bathroom to pee, brush and wash, and then back to his room to get dressed, all in enough time to still get myself ready and get on the road so we arrive at daycare before the end of breakfast.  It's always a challenge, particularly since I rarely get enough sleep and have a hard time getting going myself.

Once we're home in the evenings, we rush through daycare pickup since it's usually time for the teachers to leave, too, and rush home...or to the grocery store or any other quick errand we can fit in without pushing dinner too late.  One day a week I go to the gym straight from work and the boys get some quality time together.  Many times this summer they went to the baseball field to play, but those days are looking to be over now that colder, wetter weather has set in.  Regardless of when I get home, I'm generally rushing to get dinner made.  Craig and I eat relatively quickly, but Jacob takes longer, of course.  I'm inevitably pushing him along a bit because he gets so distracted, trying to keep myself occupied by washing dishes or cleaning up. 



Once he's in bed, I usually multitask--catch up on internet reading, write a blog post, and catch up on some shows on the DVR.  Usually that takes far longer than I'd like it to, and before I know it, it's way past my desired bedtime.  I get in bed too late, and as already stated, morning comes too quickly.

Even on weekends I find myself cramming things in.  As much as I appreciate Jacob's naps, they do tend to get in the way of getting things done.  It's a two-plus hour chunk in the middle of the day, and it's especially tricky on Sundays when most things close by 6pm.  In addition, we spend a lot of weekends on the road visiting family, so it takes up a lot of time we might otherwise spend doing things around the house, running errands or enjoying other local activities.  We wouldn't pass that time up, though, because it is so important.  Most of the time, the other stuff can wait.

This weekend we jammed the zoo and a hockey game into Saturday.  Then I wanted to try to cram both the visit to the pumpkin place and an open house at the fire station in on Sunday afternoon.  That did not happen.  I hated to miss out on the fire station thing since it was a one-time thing, but I felt like we needed to get our pumpkin because we're on the road this weekend and I didn't want to wait until a day or two before Halloween.  I've needed to go grocery shopping since the weekend, but that hasn't happened yet.  I still need to do work on my Halloween costume, but that's not happening yet either. 

On a bigger scale, there's also the issue of baby #2.  My body is still battling me about getting back on track, and despite starting this process earlier than last time, we're now behind the timeline we were on with Jacob...which means even if things happen ASAP and go perfectly, everything will be considerably later than I wanted it.  So much for a late spring baby :(  I know I shouldn't be picky, but it's getting harder to be patient.

On a selfish front, I also don't have enough time to explore other hobbies I'd like to look into, like photography.  I feel stuck in the kitchen, both because the boys' palettes aren't too fancy and because I just don't have the time or energy to do more.  I feel guilty thinking about getting involved in a Bible study at church (and yes, I know that should be higher on the priority list) because it would mean another evening away...and a rushed one at that since it would have to be a quick transition from work to daycare to dinner to church.  I keep hoping the day will come that it'll all work out, but when?  Add another baby to mix someday and it probably only gets worse.  The best version of bad, of course, but the battle against time is so agonizing...if only because, in addition to there not being enough of it, what little there is is passing us by so quickly.  Our little boy is getting so big, and I'm just not sure I'm appreciating enough of it. 

Unfortunately, I'm not sure what the answer is, but I guess being conscious of it is a step.  Getting off the computer would probably be another, right?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

More Fall Fun

We had a busy weekend as usual.  While summer weekends are usually packed with traveling and picnics, fall weekends are packed with activities closer to home, usually something just trying to pull out what fun we can from the remaining good weather.  Pumpkin patches, football games, hockey games...you name it, we keep busy. 

Thursday night Jacob and I headed out to the Amerks' home opener.  Craig had to go to a big annual event up in Canada hosted by the Knighthawks' owner, but I opted to stay home with Jacob and check out what the Amerks (and Sabres) had in store for the new season.  I also didn't want to have to worry about taking time off of work or being up very late on a work night, so staying home made more sense.  Jacob and I had a pretty good time at the game, though we were disappointed to discover that the guards were preventing kids from playing knee hockey in the nooks off the concourse.  No idea why.  Jacob did get a moment with the Moose and Sabretooth, which was cool...


And here he is trying to escape me while we were waiting for the game to start...
He wasn't quite as good of a sitter as he has been in the past, but we managed.  The team looked terrible, but some interesting changes had been made around the arena.  It was funny being there without having Craig as an employee of the team.  First time since I've known him.

Saturday morning we headed out to the zoo where Craig was working at ZooBoo, the zoo's Halloween event.  Because the weather was cool, windy and rainy, I didn't want to risk Jacob's Batman costume since he still needs it for a few more events, so we opted for last year's costume, which still fits fine.
My little fireman...now with red pants AND winter boots that still fit!
Before we tracked down Craig we ran into Spikes, the Red Wings' mascot, as well as the zoo's penguin mascot...

Once we found Craig, we went around to the rest of the trick-or-treat stations and took a quick play break...

And had a little more fun with the polar bear statues...even if Jacob doesn't make it look fun ;-)

We got to see the sea lions go crazy at feeding time, saw the otter take a swim, the wolves run laps, and the penguins waddle around their new habitat.  We tracked down Jacob's good buddy, the Knighthawks' mascot R. Thunder...

And Jacob got what will probably be the first of many photos with pretty girls...
Soon he'll be watching the Knightingales closer than the mascot...
 Saturday night we headed back to the arena to see the RIT Tigers take on St. Lawrence.  RIT usually plays in a much smaller arena (1/5 the size) but they managed to sell out the arena with more than 10,000 fans, which isn't something that happens often.  Even with all the buzz the Amerks only announced around 9,000 on Thursday.  Many of the 10,000 fans were crazy college kids, and boy were some of them into it.  There were lots of chants (many with profanity, unfortunately--thank goodness Jacob didn't pick up on that), a full band, and some fun little quirks.  I loved that some of the chants included sign language, since RIT has a whole deaf program.  Jacob spent quite a while taking it all in, but eventually he really just wanted to go play hockey.  Here he is being a little crazy with a borrowed pom pom before we took a little walk...

This morning we got up for church, which was a near-disaster today for some reason.  No idea why Jacob decided to be absolutely ridiculous today.  Ugh.  After that, Craig headed out to the Bowhunter Cup, a lacrosse game he had to cover that was held at Turning Stone Casino out past Syracuse.  After Jacob's nap, we headed out to get some pumpkins and check out an indoor fall festival site nearby. 

The place was pretty cool and had an insane number of pumpkins of all kinds.  I had a field day taking pictures of random stuff.  Jacob took a liking to this stage coach...

I thought this little photo op was appropriate...sorry Jacob.

I fell in love this this warty pumpkin, but no, I didn't buy it.

There was no admission to this place, but most of the activities--little rides, crafts, and a petting zoo--cost money.  We skipped past everything and did what we could for free.  Maybe next year.  We did get to see giant bunnies and a llama, and then we saw some of the coolest birds... 
This was one of my favorite ducks.  You should have seen how the feathers on its head fluffed up when it got ticked off.
You'd never know it, but this is a pigeon.  There were some very regal looking ones, too, but this one with the "feather boa" was too fun to pass up!
 Jacob desperately wanted to get into this car...even as he pointed to something else...

He ended up getting a free fire helmet from the firefighters there (appropriate, since I was also hoping to get to a fire station open house today, but his nap went long...not a bad thing), and we ended up back at the stage coach...

He made the most hilarious face on my first attempt at this spot, but the picture was blurry.  I knew it right away and he managed to do a pretty good reenactment, minus really wide eyes :)



We headed off to the craft store and the dollar store afterward to do some Halloween costume shopping (enhancements for my costume), and we had a fun evening trying on our respective costumes.  Jacob still absolutely cracks me up in his.  I never knew I'd find a storebought costume so darn cute. 

We had a handful of difficult moments as usual today, but all in all it was a pretty manageable day, thank goodness.  We have another busy weekend next weekend, so hopefully this week goes quickly and restfully in the meantime.  

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sad Realization

I had an inkling this was true, but it didn't truly hit me until the other day when I was looking back in the blog to posts from when Jacob was just a little baby.  By all accounts, I was a happier parent back then.  I never would have known it considering the sleep deprivation and multitude of worries that go along with having a tiny baby, but the way I was posting pretty much confirmed my suspicions.  In general, when I wasn't having moments of total panic, I was just head over heels in love with my baby boy. 
Please understand that that does not mean that my love for him is any less now.  It's just different.  Let me explain...

I'd venture to say that love for your child isn't far off from the progression of a romantic relationship...at least to a point.  When you're first with a person during the "honeymoon phase", you are totally into them.  You could spend every waking moment with them and probably never be bored, never be annoyed, and never feel the need for alone time.  However, any little chink in the relationship's armor is probably blown way out of proportion...most likely because any issues are a major shock to a system that's been nothing short of obsessed with this other person.  In addition, you have no idea how the relationship will weather the storm.  Basically, panic ensues because you get into uncharted territory.  As a whole, good or bad, everything is new. 

But as the relationship deepens, things even out a bit.  And while your love for them never wavers, it doesn't necessarily hit the highest highs as often.  It's deep and stronger than ever, but finding that giddy excitement you once had seems almost impossible to recapture.  It's not, mind you, but I believe that it takes a truly special situation to get there--say, a romantic getaway, enough alone time to make the heart grow fonder, or an exceptional achievement that makes you glow with pride.  At the other end of the spectrum, the lows may not be quite as dramatic, but they're probably even harder to manage because you have invested so much and hate to see anything jeopardize that. 

When Jacob first arrived, I remember the insane hormonal craziness, but I remember thinking at the time that it was all worth it.  It was so amazing to see this little baby that we had created, holding him, feeding him, and watching him grow.  It was downright euphoric.  We cheered for every little milestone--first smile, first laugh, first crawl, first steps--and marveled as he got bigger, moved to the next room at daycare, and started to learn so many things.  I know that there were so many scary, frustrating and even awful moments in those early days, too, which is why having a baby is beyond hard.  But the miracle of this little child just outshone everything else.

And then the discipline era started.  As Jacob grew, he was able to get into things.  Then he started to get strong-willed.  Bad combo.  Prior to that, any behavior that didn't conform to what we'd have liked was most likely involuntary.  Crying at 4am?  Well, it's not fun, but he's probably not feeling good.  Throwing food?  Well, he's probably just exploring his world and doesn't understand that Mommy doesn't like the mess.  But after a while you know they're wisening up and you know that they're starting to grasp their power.  They learn to take action and press buttons, and honestly, that's when the honeymoon phase starts to end.  Again, you don't love your baby any less, but it becomes brutally obvious that they're not the perfect, angelic, never-done-wrong child that they were for those first few months.

Perhaps the issue is that all of the effort seems worth it early on.  You see a helpless baby grow and thrive, and because they were helpless, it's clear you made an impact.  But as they grow older and become more independent, all that effort sometimes seems wasted.  Parenthood can be a thankless job, and it's much more obvious when you know your child is capable of thanking you, but doesn't.  A cute smile is no longer payment enough.  They ignore what you say, break free from your grasp, and generally find ways to render you useless at any given moment.  It's a far cry from the early days.



Home is much the same.  Whether it's time to get dressed, go potty, eat dinner, pick up toys, or anything else that he's supposed to be doing, he's always doing something else.  During the course of putting on a single pair of pajamas, I probably have to yell at him to get back to actually putting them on at least half a dozen times.  At least.  And that's not counting the prodding to get him to go potty, get his teeth brushed, or pick out books.

He pokes me with stuff, tries to wrestle, hangs on my legs then won't stand up, and throws things.  First thing this morning I walked in and he threw one of his animals at me, full force.  I didn't even get "Good Morning" out, so I can't imagine what provoked that.  I've always made a point to not laugh at certain behaviors at risk of him wanting to recreate the performance repeatedly, but no amount of straight faces or stern voices seem to communicate that it's not nice, not acceptable, and not okay.

I could go on and on (even more), but long story short, it's exhausting to try to keep Jacob on track and battle through.  And all that exhaustion makes it so hard for that pure, simple love to come through.  I used to be so excited to go home and spend time with him, but now I know I'm facing an evening of yelling and bargaining and it's hard to get excited about that.  I'm so wrapped up in dealing with my stubborn little boy that there just aren't many moments where I can see the face of my sweet, innocent baby come through.  Once in a while he'll be so genuinely sweet, or adorably excited about something, and I instantly have that awesome high where parenthood is the most fulfilling thing ever and my heart practically explodes.  But where I used to be so fulfilled by parenthood, now I just feel a bit overwhelmed. 

I love Jacob so much and would be lost without him.  He's the center of my universe and I only want what's best for him.  Yet after so many attempts at discipline and doing what we can to encourage his interests, I'm left not knowing what is best.  I should just find ways to enjoy him, but instead I find myself withdrawing at times, as an attempt at self-preservation or a sub-conscious action motivated by fear of failure. 

Maybe the key point is this--When Jacob was a newborn, I knew how to love him.  There was no wrong way.  Nowadays I still love him so much, but I'm not sure how to love him best.  He now needs more than lots of hugs and kisses and prompt meals and diaper changes.  He needs direction and discipline, to listen and learn...and yes, he needs those meals, hugs and kisses (and periodic assistance with his pants), too.  The stakes are bigger now, and the fear and frustration are, too.  I'm doing the best I can, but I never know if it's good enough...for him or me.  The joy is missing and I hope I find it again one of these days.  Let's hope it's just hiding under the couch with everything else.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pumpkin Time! (Well, sort of...)

Sunday was going to be a beautiful day.  It's not often you get an 80 degree day in October, but that's what we had.  Based on our schedule for the rest of the month, I was planning on going to the pumpkin patch next Saturday.  However, the weather was looking iffy--upper 50s and rainy.  There's nothing worse than hanging out on a farm when it's wet and muddy.  So, sometime on Saturday the thought crossed my mind that if we skipped church (I know...bad) we could go to the pumpkin patch before Craig had to leave for the player appearance he had to go to.  We don't skip church often, but I felt like doing it this time, to take full advantage of the beautiful weather, was worth it. 

We decided to go to Stokoe Farms, the same place we went last year, as well as the year I got pregnant.  In fact, I think the first pictures of me pregnant were taken there, but I didn't know it yet!  I knew it was probably going to be crazy busy and unfortunately we didn't get there quite as early as would have been ideal.  Still, we had a lot of fun.  The bummer was that a lot of the good stuff had long lines--the zip lines, gourd slingshots, the pedal cars, and the human hamster wheels were all super busy.  We couldn't spend time getting lost in the corn maze, either. 

The first thing we did was hop on the hayride, and we finally got a really good family picture.  Seriously, it's nothing short of a miracle.  This right here was worth the price of admission :)

Upon seeing the long lines, we headed off to a set of big slides on Billy Goat Mountain.  There are four open slides and two tube slides.  The four slides and one tube slide are really huge.  And fast.  Jacob seemed eager to do them, so up we went.  He decided we should do the open ones, but the second we got there he freaked out.  However, people were waiting and there was really no other way down, so I sat him down next to me, grabbed his hand and pushed us off.  He wasn't too happy on the way down, and as you can see in the picture, he's flopping around a bit (I'm on the left, he's sliding almost sideways next to me), but we made it down very quickly.  It was crazy fast!

Surprisingly, despite insisting he didn't like it, he wanted to go back up.  We ended up doing the big tube slide that time.  He seemed to like that one a lot more, but boy, was that one ever fast, too!

After that we checked out the goats and Jacob got to feed one.  It took a while because I think they were already stuffed!
His technique was much improved this year!
We checked out the most adorable little piglets, a couple emus, sheep, a yak, and a bunny, then headed to an area full of trikes and Little Tikes cars, among other things.  The area also has a couple sandbox-esque digging areas, and rubber duck races, but Jacob gravitated to the giant tractor in the middle.  I found it ironic since he refused to go up on it last year! 

He couldn't really reach the wheel so we moved along to this "tractor"...

We checked out some baby chicks before heading to the corn box...yep, just a BIG area full of dried corn kernels...

And I think Jacob was so proud of himself getting up on the slide that he started causing a traffic jam!  Of course, the girls at the bottom of the slide weren't doing him any favors...

Then he tried "milking a cow"...

,...saw some alpacas, and climbed a mountain with Daddy...
Victorious!
At the bottom of the hay mountain, I tried to get a good picture of Jacob, but he found it more fun to try to poke the camera with hay!

But I did get a smile out of him, so it was all worth it!

Time was running short so we had to skip pumpkin buying.  We grabbed one last photo op...

...And we headed out so Craig could meet a Knighthawk at a benefit for a 14-year-old kid with cancer.  That was pretty sobering, but there was a ton of support.  We headed home to watch the end of the Bills game, eat some dinner, and relax after a busy day.

I'm bummed we couldn't do our pumpkin shopping, but I'm hoping we can hit up a local garden center whose activities are all inside this weekend and make up for lost time.  And if nothing else, there's always the little farm market on the same road as Jacob's daycare.  We'll get pumpkins, I have no doubt!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The 'Cuse

So, we had a busy weekend.  I guess busy is usually good because it also generally means fun and eventful...and that was certainly the case.  However, I'm heading into another brutal week of work and I have caught Jacob's cold, so perhaps rest would have been better...but in the end, I suppose it was all worth it.

Saturday we went to Syracuse.  Despite the fact that Craig went to Syracuse for grad school, I had never been there.  The boys went last year when my college roommate Mary came to visit, and it was for the same thing we went to this year--alumni lacrosse games.  I was actually excited to go to the Carrier Dome, since I've seen it so much here and there (from afar).  It was a pretty limited audience for this event, but I can only imagine what it's like when it's full and rockin'!  We were pretty much there because Craig wanted to interview a few Knighthawks' players who were participating.

Jacob barely napped on the way up, but other than having ants in his pants for a good portion of the time we were there, he was pretty good.  He did well with the potty and didn't stray too far from where we were sitting.  He did take one little spill down a couple steps where we were sitting because he wasn't watching where he was going, but other than a lot of crying, he was fine.  He kept asking to wear a different pair of shorts (his Nike shorts) and really just wanted to go play lacrosse, but all in all I can't complain.  I was getting fidgety too, to be honest!  The game lasted so long that Craig even decided to just interview one guy who played in the earlier, less formal game (the one we watched was the current team vs. the most talented alumni) rather than stay through the end to get the guys he ideally wanted.  Still, it was cool to see.  I couldn't help but wonder if we'll be among the ranks of the very-obvious parental supporters for something like this in another 15-18 years.  For some reason seeing the real deal made it just a little more realistic in my mind.  I'll be proud of Jacob regardless of what sport(s) he ends up playing, though.

I got a couple pictures of Jacob while we were hanging out, and while they're both similar, I like 'em both for different reasons.
Doesn't he look like such a big boy here?  Holy cow that freaked me out!  Maybe it's just the new sneaks.
He's actually looking at the camera and smiling.  A real smile.  Amazing how that works.
In the end the game lasted so long that walking around the campus didn't work out, as we were eager to grab some dinner and get on the road back home. We did drive around a bit, and it was interesting to see things around campus. The kids, of course, look younger than ever. The reality of the fact that one year of their education is more than pretty much my entire college education combined boggled my mind a bit. I mean, that's a lot of money, a lot of debt, and a lot of pressure to make good use of that degree.  However, I can't help but wonder if the students themselves realize the situation they're in.  Regardless, it underscored the fact that Jacob either needs to get a fantastic scholarship or he should attend a state school.

The campus itself was interesting. There was a mix of classic older buildings and fancy new ones, all in a city street setting (at least, the area we were in). It was sometimes hard to tell what was an academic building vs. a residental building. It was a far cry from Geneseo, where all the academic buildings are basically in one big cluster around a couple grassy quads, and the dorms are all clustered on the outskirts in a few distinct areas.  No cars, no streets...just a few simple paths.  In case I wasn't already, that sure made me grateful for my college experience, where I just had to note the locations of a handful of buildings on a simple campus map...because God knows the college experience was enough of a change/challenge that I didn't need "finding my next class" to be a lesson in city street navigation as well.
We finished off the trip with a gluttonous visit to Cici's Pizza, which you may remember from our trip to the NLL All-Star Game in the spring and our detour through Erie on our return trip from Pittsburgh last summer. And of course, the was also that fantastic, bottomless-pit-while-pregnant visit when we went to Orlando in December 2007. That was the BEST. No, it's not the highest quality pizza, but it's still good and the variety is a nice change of pace.  And Jacob eats for only 99 cents, so that's cool too...even if he did eat enough to more than justify the price.
We had an uneventful drive home with the boys watching movies in the back seat and me catching up on some of the new, free music I added to my iPod over the past couple weeks from a couple sites that offer free downloads of independent artists or sneak peek songs from established artists.  It was a peaceful night that ended with the usual Jacob tantrum at bedtime, but all in all, it wasn't a bad day. 
We ended up having a spur-of-the-moment-ish fun Sunday, which I'll report on soon :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Memories...

Today my co-worker's water broke at work.  She's a month early.  Her baby was measuring big, so assuming his lungs are adequately developed, everything should be fine.  It was a big surprise, of course, particularly considering her office shower was just last Thursday.  Needless to say it was a bit of an unorthodox afternoon in the office, and there was much reminiscing about our own experiences in the water-breaking, labor-surviving world. 

It brought back a lot of memories, that's for sure.  My fluid started leaking 12 days before my due date, and even that was a shock.  I can't imagine how my friend was feeling as she hurriedly gathered up her stuff and headed out, a month ahead of schedule.  In addition, she had an hour drive to the doctor, as she lives quite a ways outside the city and her doctor is even beyond that.  I was lucky enough to have some time to kill in the city between my doctor's appointment and getting the go-ahead to go to the hospital, enough time to clear a few more things off my desk and make sure everything was good to go for my absence. 

I will apparently never live that little stop down, as it came up today and people still I think I was nuts to be there.  But here's the deal--there was no sense going all the way home, only to get the imminent call to drive 20 minutes back to the city, so it just made sense to go somewhere in the city.  And it sounded like a good idea to take a few minutes to go to the office and clear some things up.  It wasn't ideal since I was leaking fluid and all, but it's not like I was in active labor.  And a little peace of mind goes a long way. 

I pondered the hours she had ahead of her, maybe the beginning of contractions or getting started on pitocin, lots of pain, and eventually holding her sweet little boy in her arms.  I remembered the nervous excitement and reality setting in that this was really going to happen, one way or another.  I didn't have a birth plan other than just going with the flow and trusting my doctor. I've done a lot of reading in the years that followed, and I think I want to be a little more active in deciding how I want to give birth next time.  However, I'm well aware that things don't always go as planned and next time things may end up quite the same.  God knows that no matter how much I'd like to avoid drugs so I can push more efficiently next time, I know how early the pain got to me, and it was painful enough even with the drugs...so I really have no illusions that I'll make it anywhere without them.  Passing out and puking don't work too well in the middle of childbirth, so I don't think I have many other options.  Still, it would be nice to be up and walking, or try out the tub thing that so many women say works wonders, but both of those things weren't options while being induced thanks to all the monitoring.  I think I'd also like to try laboring on all fours or using a squatting bar, rather than on my back, but I have no idea how that would go over. 

Of course, this is all assuming I ever get pregnant again, which seems like a more difficult prospect every day.  My body is still very, very confused, maybe even more than last time.  Here I thought I had left myself plenty of time to get on track and maybe even aim for an earlier due date than last time, but...nope.  Even if things were to magically work out (much like last time) within the next couple weeks, I'd be lucky to be looking at a similar timeline as last time.  And that's assuming all goes well.  There are no guarantees in any of this, and I think the complete and utter uncertainty of pregnancy is one of the things that's easy to forget once you're more focused on worrying about the very real, very tangible little human that suddenly appeared in your world.  Those nine months of worrying pale in comparison to worrying for the rest of your life once they're in the outside world, where the stakes are so much higher.  For all the amazement that comes with pregnancy, there's a boatload of worry, too.  And it starts even before the two lines pop up on the pregnancy test.

I'm still not freaking out, but I'm quite annoyed and wondering at which point I give up trying to figure it out myself and call the doctor.  Most likely I won't have a major issue getting pregnant if things get back on track, but again, no guarantees.  But assuming that's the case, it's probably fine to ask for a little help.  All I can do is call.  It all worked out last time and it probably will this time, too...and as I've said before, it's all about trusting in God's perfect timing.  It's never failed me before, and it won't now. 

So, anyway, it was an interesting day.  Lots of unexpected reminiscing and hopefully some good news to look forward to in the morning...