Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Instant Gratification

I decided this morning that instant gratification is ruining our society.  We're obviously aware of the impact of technology...and yes, it's nice.  It's nice to be able to look up anything instantly, call people at any time (no need to have a pay phone or quarter), or watch a show or movie whenever you want.  No need to wait until Saturday morning for your favorite cartoon--just pull it up on Netflix or the DVR.  We see pictures instantly on Facebook, mere moments after friends' babies are born.  We download music moments after the album releases, order items from our couch and have them arrive the next day, and email or text people to get our message across instantly.  Sorry, snail mail.  Heck, even the prevalence of premarital sex (and at ever-younger ages) plays into this as well.  So while all these things are convenient, they're doing nothing to teach us patience. 

Recently I've been getting very frustrated with the emergence of Christmas in October.  I hate seeing Christmas displays across the way from Halloween candy, and the way we just skip over Thanksgiving completely makes me crazy.  Part of me thinks we should adopt Canada's thanksgiving, just because it times out better for the early introduction of Christmas.  We lose a vacation day, but heck, make Black Friday a holiday then.  I'm a purist, and I hate to hear Christmas music before Thanksgiving night.  Back in the day we didn't hear Christmas music at all until then, and the all-day music didn't happen until Christmas Eve!  Now it starts in mid-November (if not sooner), all day every day, right through.  Even Black Friday has been stretched earlier, with sales well ahead of the actual day coupled with crazy hype all the way there.  And if that wasn't enough, we stretch the madness out to Cyber Monday now, as well.  I've been shaking my head all week at the Christmas lights popping up all over, and the last month of mall shopping has been downright sickening.  I'm not ready for it yet, and it bugs me that we're rushing the season so early.  It never used to be this bad, and I feel like it's cheapening the season.

Part of what makes anything in life special is that there's some anticipation leading up to it.  Think about it--Christmas was special as a kid because we had this one special time of year where everything was focused on the holiday.  Advent calendars, countdown chains, and all of the traditional preparations made the season so exciting, and it was all crammed into one very special month.  Finishing school is a big deal because you've had a certain period of time to anticipate the ending.  Weddings and babies both have "waiting periods" for a reason--time to prepare and get excited.  Back in my dating days, one of my best first kisses came after weeks of nothing but great conversation and very deliberate restraint.  I just don't think any of these experiences would be as exciting without that build-up. 

On the other hand, if the time gets stretched out too long, it becomes old hat, just part of regular life.  If we had to go through the same gestation period as an elephant (22 months), we'd probably get a little bored with the concept and the excitement would probably trail off until right before the end.  Likewise, if we keep stretching out Christmas preparations way in advance, that special period that makes the season so great will just be part of life this time of year.  Instead of knowing you need to fit in certain activities during this special month, procrastination will reign as people think they have months to do it.  It just doesn't make it as urgent, so chances are, it might not get done.

Maybe I'm just a stick-in-the-mud purist and I need to get with the times.  Maybe I should just jump right in and appreciate the bonus time we have to enjoy the season.  But I still can't get past the importance of Thanksgiving, and the reminder to be thankful (particularly when heading into a season of greed and materialism) is that much more important. 

As Thanksgiving approaches this year, I'm a little bummed that we're not quite where I was hoping we would be by now--pregnant with #2 and in a much better financial situation than we were before.  Craig's job situation has changed, and it's probably a bit better than it was last year, though for non-financial reasons.  Baby #2 just isn't happening right now, and it's disappointing.  However, we have much to be thankful for, and at this point I'm in no position to complain.  But again, per my theory above, if it would have happened right away, I just don't think it would have the same impact as it will when we've been waiting and anticipating it for this long.  I've maintained all along that it'll happen in God's perfect timing, so while I have all of my earthly plans and schedules, I know that whatever His timing is is better than what I could imagine.  It's not easy to wait, but I know it'll be worth it.  And if it never happens?  Well, hopefully I'll have the grace to accept that, too, and appreciate all we have been given. 

You'd never know it by our society, but there's nothing wrong with slowing down a bit.  Everything happens in its own time.  We don't need to get ahead of ourselves just to make things happen faster.  It cheapens the experience and doesn't teach the importance of the process of preparation.  And God knows that whether it's our baby or His baby that we're preparing for, that time is precious.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tuesday Randoms

The craziness has begun.  Thanksgiving is a couple days away and it's going to be full-speed ahead from now until the end of the year.  I have a ridiculous amount of work to do in the next week, and then I'm off work for four days to head to Portland for five days and meet my adorable new nephew, Max.  I can't wait to spend time with my niece Kate (and of course my brother and sister-in-law, as well), but of course I'm facing long travel and plenty of mommy guilt for leaving behind my sweet boy for that long.  Once I get back, I'll be diving head-first into Christmas planning, events, and shopping.  It's crazy to even think about.  Before we know it, Christmas will be here, I'll have an amazing week off work, and then it'll be the new year and we'll be back to the beginning of another year.  It's mind-boggling.

I've been dreadfully sick for a while now, which probably isn't helping.  The cough I've had for a month turned into a brutal assault on my sinuses over the weekend.  Terrible congestion that left me totally incapacitated Sunday night motivated me to go to the doctor on Monday, but unfortunately she couldn't do anything for me.  I probably just have an upper respiratory infection, which she wouldn't prescribe antibiotics for, and because I'm in the midst of the whole trying to get pregnant thing, it's risky to take any sort of drugs.  So, I just have to suffer through it.  She also said that it could just be my allergies being out of control.  Doubtful, in my opinion, though I'm sure they can contribute a bit.  I've been off allergy meds for a while, though, without much problem, but I guess cold season takes it to a different level.  I dunno...I'm tired of hearing her blame every single problem I have when I'm there on allergies, including my loss of smell and taste.  I'm ready to get a new doctor, even if just to get a second opinion.  It'd be nice to get someone who's willing to think a bit more creatively and listen to my concerns without sounding a little old-school-judgmental, like I'm someone who's spent a little too much time on the internet or something.  I've still had my moments the past couple days, but nothing as bad as Sunday night.  I've even had moments of relative comfort--not clear breathing, but not severe pain, either.

Jacob had been pretty awesome lately--which, of course, now that I've blogged about it, it will come to an end--but he's still having moments that make me crazy.  He's just been sort of fun and sweet and awesome lately.  Lots of hugs and kisses and cuddling, funny little observations, and silly little moments.  However, when he's bad, he's awful.  He's been super whiny lately about everything, demanding everything in an instant.  He has a major tantrum, complete with hitting and kicking, when he doesn't get his way.  That's just being three, I think, and I'm doing my best to maintain composure, raise my voice only when necessary, and try to be simply firm and consistent.  It's a fine line between disciplining him and finding ways to comfort him when he knows he screwed up, but lately it's been manageable.  And really, that's all I'm asking for.  Maybe he's easier, maybe my attitude is better, or maybe those good little moments have been good enough to remind me what an awesome kid I have a lot of the time.  It helps.

He's also been eating better--which I credit to rewards of Halloween candy--and going down to bed well--which I credit to a good routine.  Nothing's better than seeing your kid instinctively walk to bed after you finish the last book.  Sweet.  And the better behavior in general may be thanks to the Santa threat that we can exploit this time of year.  We don't use it a lot, but hey, one of the songs he's learning for the daycare Christmas program is "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"...you know, "he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake."  Lucky us.

Speaking of which, tonight we sat down to practice his songs, the other of which is "Up on the Housetop", which I don't know that well.  But you know what, Jacob does.  The kid knows almost the entire song--all five verses.  I can't seem to learn it, so I'm extra impressed at how good he is.  Amazing how young minds soak this stuff up.

Tomorrow is his Thanksgiving feast at daycare.  I didn't go last year because I didn't really think it was worth taking off work.  But this year I had this image of him sitting there all alone when everyone else's parents were there, and I didn't like it.  I feel like some of his tantrums are just an attempt to get attention, so keeping that in mind I've been trying to do what I can to be there for him.  This seemed like a good idea, and I have a little vacation to burn.  I have way too much work to do, but this is important, too.  Should be interesting, considering how he acted the last time we hung out with him at a daycare event. 

washload, and good for teaching a little bit of responsibility.  Fingers crossed.

Anyway, I'm hopeful for a good but busy weekend.  Time to figure Jacob out, transition into Christmas mode, and just be thankful for all we have.  Here we go...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cell Phone Pics

As promised, here are the pictures I snapped of the photos stuck on my old cell phone.  Enjoy this blast from the past...

Five days old...hard to believe.

So sweet.  These two pictures were taken in the overnight room at the hospital a couple days before he came home.

This one was taken at the mall the day after his christening...which may have been Labor Day, if that's possible for it to be on Sept. 1st.  He was sleeping so sweetly.

This was taken Christmas Eve, possibly at bedtime.  He was laying on the bed in our room at Craig's parents' house, apparently very happy.

This was apparently on our living room floor.  Not sure why I used my cell for this one, rather than my real camera, but it's so cute!

Hard to see his face in this one, but he's in his car seat.  The winter hat and stuffed moose are perfect accompaniments.

Jacob's first experience with a balloon, at Fairport Canal Days.

He just kept holding it, which was so stinkin' cute.

Sleepy boy, probably in his car seat.

Drinking our frozen strawberry lemonade...yum!

Still drinking...

Attempt at a good pic of both of us after the lemonade.  Not too successful.

I think this was at the doctor's office.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, so out the cell phone came as one more distraction technique.

At the Red Wings game, taken the same night as I snapped the picture we eventually used for his 3rd birthday invitation.  I think I'd had so much success with the real camera that I thought it was a prime opportunity to update my wallpaper.
So, yeah, suffice it to say that I'm happy I at least have these to remember these little moments.  And what's better, now I carry my camera with me all the time so I should catch more moments naturally.  And in the event that I don't, at least I have a better cell phone camera this time around, so if they're better quality pictures, perhaps there will be more motivation to transfer them when they happen.  Not to mention that I've learned my lesson...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Little Moments

Yesterday I had to get a new cell phone.  I wasn't expecting to, but I did.  See, I'm still living in the dark ages and my cell phone is a Tracfone.  It's a prepaid thing, and considering I don't use my cell phone a lot, it makes sense to keep it.  I don't feel like spending $30-50 per month for a cell phone, even if I could use it more, because I don't need to.  And while in theory we could just ditch our home phone, I'm hesitant to do that...probably mostly because of 911 and the million things we'd have to change and the knowledge that I don't want to have to buy Jacob a cell phone the moment friends start wanting to call him.  So, after looking around at some plans online, I just decided to stick with my Tracfone.  I still had a ton of minutes left from when they screwed up and bonused me the last time I had to get a new phone, when their systems upgraded and my old phone no longer worked.  That one I got for free.  It took them ages to get it back up and running, though, so somewhere along the way I got a ridiculous influx of minutes.  Sweet.  Years later I'm still working through them, but when I had to buy a few more to tack on more time, they told me my phone could no longer be used.  Ugh.  I had been thinking about getting a new one anyway, one with a QWERTY keyboard so when I did text or try to hop on Facebook (I could sort of access it from my old phone, but it was terrible), it might be a little easier.  So, I had been eyeing a couple up and once I got word that mine was useless, I ran out to the store to get a new one and get the painful transition period over with ASAP. 

I got the best one within my price range, and so far it's cool.  I haven't tried Facebook yet, mostly because I'm still waiting for my 2,100 minutes to come back to my phone.  I'm giving them the two business days they said it might take, but you can bet I'll be calling them again tomorrow night.  Oh, and while the phone works, it's listing the wrong phone number within the phone.  Weird.  And yes, I called it, and it's someone else's number.  Oy.  But at least it's working. 

The point of this boring little story?  Well, as I was going through and changing over my contacts, I realized that a bunch of pictures of Jacob were still trapped on my old phone.  And there's no way to get them off.  While most of them are nothing special, they're still pictures of my baby...when he was a baby.  Most of them aren't fantastic memories or anything, but just little stolen moments when we were waiting around or he looked super cute and my crappy camera phone was all I had.  In most cases I just took the moment to try to get an updated wallpaper for my phone, and periodically I'd get one good enough to change to. 

Much to my surprise I found pictures from when he was five days old, still in the hospital.  I remember taking those in the overnight room we stayed in.  There was one from when he was sleeping in his stroller (Labor Day 2008, I think?), another from when we shared a frozen strawberry lemonade from McDonald's after a haircut, a couple adorable sleeping pictures, his first experience with a balloon, and at least one picture from waiting in the doctor's office.  They're all pretty sweet in their own way, though the new baby pictures are the ones I'm kicking myself about the most because I didn't take enough pictures with my regular camera back then.  Insignificant moments, perhaps, but all the more significant now that they're trapped there and time is passing us by.

Every time I stumble through old pictures, I marvel at the big boy we have now.  For example, I have this one as my wallpaper at work right now, and I catch myself just staring at it.  Jacob was just over 16 months in this picture, half a lifetime ago for him.
For the record, I don't miss raking all of those leaves every fall, but I do mourn the loss of photo ops like this one. I got a couple dandies that day, even though Jacob had sliced open his lip the night before (Halloween). Luckily, you can hardly tell.
When he's having an adorable moment, it's easy to let myself think back to my amazing little baby boy.  I see his face and the little baby comes rushing back, even if it seems almost impossible that he was ever that small.  Did I mention he measured in at 39-1/2 inches at the doctor the other day, which is a full inch more than he did back in August?  Looks like Daddy's genes are officially kicking in.  He's jumped up to the 75th percentile, which is somewhere he's never been.  But let me tell you, his pants are evidence that he shot up.  Jeans that I thought would fit all winter are getting short.  He's getting to be such a big boy, and those baby pictures blow my mind a bit.

Maybe I'm just extra sappy because I was reading another one of those depressing blogs, this one about a family whose oldest son died of a drug overdose and related assault at 18.  Seeing pictures of the kid when he was little just reminded me of how we capture these moments in time, never knowing the significance they could have down the road.  What if it turns out these random photos were more of an endangered species than we thought?  Every once in a while I take a completely awful picture of Jacob--blurry, blinking, odd face--and the instinct is to delete it because I know I won't use it and don't want to take up memory with it.  But there's a little nagging thing in the back of my mind...that if, God forbid, something happened to him, I'd kick myself for every photo I didn't have, even the bad ones.  Let's face it, in a situation like that, there would never be enough.

Tonight I took pictures of the pictures on my old phone. Hopefully I can post them one of these days, to give you a peek of these unseen moments.  For now, he're's a sneak preview--two pictures I did email off of my phone a while back...
Dinner outside at a restaurant near the lake on a warm day in spring 2009

Jacob's first gelato later that same summer, a baby cone just for him!
More to come...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Potty Problems

I mentioned last week that during our trip to the doctor's office I had a lengthy conversation with the doctor, during which Jacob ripped the exam table paper to shreds.  We were discussing the topic of potty training.  It hasn't been going so well. 

There was a time not too long ago that I was convinced we'd be done potty training by the end of summer.  Jacob was wearing underwear all day, and most days they stayed dry.  But then, little by little, it all broke down.  I don't know why, as we didn't have any major life changes or anything else that would be an obvious trigger for regression.  He just started being wet more.  And then the pooping started.

To be clear, Jacob has been using the potty for over a year.  He started sometime in the summer of 2010, and we've just sort of let things progress on their own.  I bought some underwear last spring, I believe, and I got a potty sticker chart going as well.  We encouraged him to use the potty, but we never did potty boot camp like some people do--leaving their kids naked (i.e., without a "place" to put their pee and poop), or filling them with fluids and setting timers--mostly because Jacob struck me as the sort of kid that would just do it when he was ready and not a moment sooner.  We had a potty prize in place--a lacrosse net--and the motivation to wear underwear seemed high.  He did pretty well with pull-ups so we moved on to underwear.  All along he did a reasonably good job with using the potty, particularly for poop, and moving up to the three-year-old room at daycare seemed like a good motivator to keep up his big boy status.  He was never dry in the morning, and naps were a bit of a crap shoot, but I was less concerned about those.  I figured that peeing in his sleep was involuntary and probably just indicated that his body wasn't ready yet.  But he seemed to do a decent job in the daytime, so we soldiered on there.
For a while, things were good.  I seriously got to the point where I wondered if a pack of pull-ups I was buying might be the last pack.  Jacob dribbled a bit and had major accidents once in a while, but I figured it was just a matter of time.  I thought he'd adjust to the various sensations and the accidents would decrease, even if they didn't go away completely.  I guess I couldn't have been more wrong. 

I remember gushing a bit to the doctor at Jacob's well visit in August that he was pretty solidly pooping in the potty.  We hadn't had a poopy diaper in ages, and we'd never had poopy underwear.  And then later that week he promptly pooped in underwear for the first time.  I was shocked.  And it's been happening a bit ever since, maybe once every couple weeks.  And ever since then, with the exception of a couple decent weeks, I think there have been more days where we bring home a bag of wet undies than days that we don't.  More often than not, when he'd actually go on the potty, his underwear would be wet--maybe not soaked, but a pretty significant dribbling.  That can't be comfortable, but he never bothered telling us unless it was a major accident.  It seemed, though, that things were getting progressively wetter all the time. 

Of course, all along he's been wearing his plastic pants to contain any mess, and I can't help but wonder if that's somehow contributing.  I don't know why it would matter, since wet underwear is still wet whether it's soaked through to other clothing or not.  I'm not sure we have enough pants to attempt to go without the plastic pants, either. 

The tough thing is that I know he's capable of being (mostly) dry, because he's done it at times.  But whether his problem is more physical or mental, I'm not sure.  Maybe he really can't hold it.  Maybe he can't tell when he has to go, or at least not with enough notice.  Maybe he's too busy to care.  Maybe wet diapers and now wet-ish underwear have completely desensitized him.  I have no idea.  And while I tried not to make a big deal of the accidents, it's hard...especially when you know he knows what he should be doing.  And still...I need to at least make the point that having an accident isn't our ideal scenario.  While he's not in trouble, he still needs to try to make it to the potty.

So, at the end of my rope last week, I asked the doctor her thoughts.  And much to my surprise, she gave me the green light to go back to pull-ups for a while.  I figured that might be a bad idea since it's almost giving in to his (perceived) laziness, but at this point anything is worth a try.  It takes away potty training as ammunition for a power struggle, so if that's what he's been doing, this should help.  I do need to get a new potty chart up and running, one that focuses solely on staying dry.  We know he can use the potty, so now it's more about making sure he gets there in time. 

The frustrating issue here is that I don't know if there's a physical issue that is causing all of this, or if that little smirk on his face when we ask about accidents shows an underlying agenda.  It's so hard to not know, even if ultimately it doesn't make a difference because he's just not staying dry anyway and we can't keep doing the status quo

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Away

This weekend I took off for a weekend away.  I took a vacation day Friday and headed out alone to the downstate baby shower of Lois, my good friend from college.  Jacob's existence is probably part of the reason I haven't seen her in three years, since her wedding.  Between her schedule, my schedule, and a period of time where leaving Jacob and pumping all weekend seemed impossible, it just hadn't worked out.  I had to miss her bridal shower because it happened right around the time Jacob was born, and besides that very busy wedding weekend, I hadn't seen her since.  And there hadn't been a lot of emailing either, but I was determined to go down there for this shower and make up for lost time. 

I decided to make a weekend of it, though Lois had a busy weekend herself so I had to make some other plans.  I took the long way down on Friday and stopped through Geneseo (to buy a baby t-shirt for part of the gift) and Corning (to check on some stuff at the glass museum store) to break up the trip.  I also had the option to stop in Binghamton to see my oldest friend (since Kindergarten), Heather, but in the end I just wanted to get to my destination as soon as I could since I hate driving in the dark.  The drive was very pretty.  Most of the leaves were gone, but the sun made the remaining rusty reddish-brown leaves look gorgeous.  There were also some snowflakes that didn't stick, but some of the cloud formations that resulted were pretty cool.  I got to do some shopping once I was down there, and spent some time at Panera utilizing their free wi-fi until I could head to Lois' house for the night. 

It was nice to catch up with her, though it was definitely crazy seeing her pregnant after considering her wedding was the reason for my last visit.  We had a lot of catching up to do and there wasn't a lot of time, but it was fun to see her not-so-new-anymore house and hear how pregnancy has been treating her.  The shower yesterday morning was lovely (amazing brunch food!) and they got some great gifts.  It was fun to see all the baby products again, though it left me wishing even more that my body would get its act together and let us try to get back in the baby business again. 

After the shower I headed out toward Binghamton to stay with Heather overnight.  We spent the evening working at her husband's orchestra concert (more fun than it sounds!  There were cookies!), then got ice cream with her husband and father-in-law.  This morning we went to church, which was interesting in more ways than one.  First, everyone there was so nice!  The congregation is small and Heather is a teacher at the school there.  The members are mostly on the older side, and many of them greeted me and were genuinely interested to hear my back story.  Second, the church has a new pastor, and he's so young!  I'm not sure I've ever been to a church where the pastor was younger than me!  Young and fresh is good, though!  Third, I had a chance to see a lot of the Binghamton flood damage in person.  As you may recall, the Binghamton area got slammed in August by a passing hurricane's rain, and there was widespread flooding.  It was pretty crazy to see major businesses--Home Depot, McDonald's--still closed months later, and old Victorian houses with nothing inside them, some offered for sale "as-is".  Sad stuff.  We actually went to a newly reopened Pizza Hut whose trademark red booths had been replaced with plain old tables and chairs.  That was odd!  The visit with Heather was a good chance to catch up and reminisce about some of the nearly 30 years that we've known one another (well, 28, but who's counting? ;-)  ).

I did the drive back this afternoon and came back to an empty house.  Boo.  A little while later, Craig walked in with a sleeping Jacob over his shoulder.  For the second day in a row, Jacob fell asleep around dinner time.  Yesterday he woke up at 10:30pm and stayed awake until 2:30am!  Thank goodness I wasn't here, because that would have sucked.  I couldn't risk that tonight because we have to be up for an early doctor appointment tomorrow, so I woke up the sleeping monster sometime after 6pm and endured his wrath for a while until he really woke up and realized he missed me.  I got a big hug and an "I love you" tonight, so that was pretty awesome.

I missed him a lot while I was gone.  A lot of people asked about him--probably because a lot of the folks at Lois' shower knew I had a baby right before the wedding--and the whole baby thing definitely made me think about him in simpler times.  I didn't miss the misbehavior, of course, but I missed his sweet smile and his hugs.  Coming back to a way off schedule child wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, though.  However, I suppose it's the price I pay for some alone time to think, shop, talk uninterrupted, be spontaneous, and pay attention in church. 

This whole weekend was a bit of a test run for three weeks from now when I pack my bags to head out to Portland for five days to see my new nephew Max and the rest of my brother's family.  I can't wait, but admittedly I'm a bit nervous.  It's not often I fly...alone...for five days...away from my child.  Jacob was only six months old when my niece Kate was born, and with nursing and general concerns over leaving Jacob, I didn't get a chance to go visit.  That meant that I didn't see Kate until she was over eight months old.  I made a promise to myself to see this one early on, so this is my chance.  I'm excited, but considering the stress of making sure things are set up when I leave (and of not having any control over things when I'm gone), I'm already a little nervous.  I'm always nervous about flying, but the fear of flying with a child is even more intense.  Yes, it will probably be fine, but it's still scary.  I want to make sure the boys are prepared for life alone for a few (more) days, and I also want to ensure that I don't come back to a little boy who's fallen into bad habits.  I'm definitely more of a planner than Craig (at least as far as Jacob is concerned), and sometimes I think Craig thinks about what's fun first, and what's better in the long run second.  Sometimes it provides a good counterbalance to me, but sometimes (like the wacky napping this weekend, brought on by an ill-timed soccer game and football party) it makes things a little tougher.  He might pay the consequences when they're alone, but I don't want to come back to find our good routines are out-of-whack, either.  I know they'll have fun while I'm gone, but there's definitely more to it than that. 

Alas, I have three weeks to obsess over that.  Right now, I'm just grateful for the time to spend with two good friends and a little time alone for myself.  It was a great weekend and I'm just happy to be back to the smiling face of my sweet boy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nauseated

I wish the post title was in reference to some sort of early pregnancy symptoms, but alas...nothing to report there.  Instead, it's in reference to my feelings about this whole Penn State scandal.  It's not often I get into posting about current events or politics, but geez, I just can't let this one slide.  The scandal makes me so angry.  And I don't think I'd feel quite that way (at least not as strongly) if I wasn't a parent.  Particularly a parent of a sports-obsessed little boy.

I get it.  I mean, Joe Paterno has been coaching at Penn State since my parents were in junior high, for goodness sakes.  He's a legend.  And obviously, to still be working at a job like that at 84 years old, he definitely loved it--and they loved him.  The other night we were watching ESPN as they showed footage of students gathering on campus and at Paterno's house.  The group got a little violent later in the night, but for the most part they were just there to support Paterno.  Lovely gesture, but misguided sympathy, if you ask me.  The guy helped cover up serious atrocities committed against innocent boys.  Yes, he told the powers that be at the school, but when nothing came of it, how could he possibly stand by knowing it was still going on?  How can a man that deals with a huge group of guys, probably most of whom he'd consider to be like sons to him, not be absolutely disgusted and appalled at the thought of any one of them being abused by anyone?  I'm not talking about specifics here, as I don't believe Jerry Sandusky touched any of the Penn State players.  I'm just talking about the same level of disgust I feel as a parent even thinking about someone taking those liberties with my son.  How could he not look at his players and think how angry he'd be if someone had touched them when they were younger, too young to appropriately defend themselves?  That's what I don't get. 

I understand that people are arguing that Paterno didn't commit a crime.  In some places it may be a crime, but apparently not in Pennsylvania.  To me that's just semantics.  They may not be able to arrest him, and that's fine.  Annoying, but fine.  Some people would argue that since it wasn't a crime, he shouldn't have lost his job.  But how can you deny that his inaction, his willingness to overlook crimes committed by a friend, was so wrong on a moral level that it should cost him his job?  If someone came into your office and murdered your co-worker, and you kept your mouth shut because you knew the murderer, don't you think that alone should be grounds to evict you from your job?  No, those kids weren't killed, but I have to think their spirit was.  And to me, that is enough. 

Maybe the grad student who first witnessed it should have taken matters into his own hands when he saw that nothing was happening, but I can sort of imagine what might have been running through his head.  He was a mere peon amidst giants, and if he did go to the cops, no doubt he'd have been shushed in a big way by the powers that be.  He probably figured it would be career suicide, whereas if Paterno had been the whistleblower, he'd have probably been a hero.  In the years that followed, that student became one of the football coaches himself, so maybe he too should be responsible for not fessing up at some point.  I can't help but wonder if any of the people involved in this scandal, from the grad student on up, regret not telling more than they regret getting caught not telling. 

The account of what that grad student encountered in the shower absolutely haunts me.  To think that a 10-year-old child had to endure anal sex (sorry, graphic but true) from a grown man is beyond horrifying.  It had to be so painful, so confusing, and so life-altering.  These kids were underprivileged kids who were probably just grateful for the opportunity to be involved in this coach's program.  I can imagine they didn't want to say anything for fear they'd lose the opportunities that were no doubt promised to them.  Kids look up to authority figures like coaches and teachers.  They trust them.  And that's what makes these crimes so heinous when they come to light.  These kids were innocent.  They no doubt knew that what was happening was wrong, but I don't think they had any idea HOW wrong.  It hurt them, it allowed a grown-up to have power over them, and had such horrible implications for the rest of their life.  I can't imagine what those victims' present and future hold as far as relationship troubles, sexual problems, trust issues, and haunting nightmares.  As much as this thing had to come to light and may, in the end, bring some closure, I'd have to imagine that reliving all of this stuff now through the media has to be incredibly difficult.  Heck, I wonder if in some twisted way they feel guilty for what happened to Paterno...that it's their fault that he got fired.  God forbid that's the case.

As we were watching the throngs of students that were out and about supporting Paterno that night, I started to get angry.  While this whole situation was already so horrible, my anger went to a new level when I saw that.  I even posted a Facebook status about it.  I can't believe how short-sighted those college kids are, and it sort of supports what I feel like I've seen from so many kids around that age (experience mostly with interns, honestly).  I've long felt that there's a disconnect between cause and effect and a complete denial of consequences.  You see so many college kids coming out into the world thinking that they deserve a $60K per year job (and that's probably conservative), yet they have no experience and no desire to work hard in a crap job to get there.  They've had helicopter parents that were their friends instead of their disciplinarians--the kind of parents that blame the teacher rather than their own child.  I'm not saying all kids are like that, but apparently there was a troublingly large group of kids that valued a man's contribution to a football program over the well being of eight young boys whose innocence was taken from them.  Instead of standing outside Paterno's house, how about holding a candlelight vigil for the real victims of this atrocity?

It makes me physically ill to think of what those kids went through, and I can't even begin to comprehend the craziness that's contained in the mind of Jerry Sandusky.  How anyone could ever think that was okay is just beyond me.  And as a parent, I can't even fathom the venom that would result if anyone so much as laid a finger on Jacob.  I have no doubt that he will have many coaches throughout his sporting life, and it pains me to think that any of them might be untrustworthy.  This whole situation serves as a strong reminder to be vigilant--Keep your eyes and ears open because you never know what tiny little clues your child might let slip.  Even though it's hard for me to fathom, it seems like we might be close to the point where we need to sit down with Jacob and give him a brief, simple talk about private parts and how they need to remain private.  It seems so early, but I guess you never can be too careful.  Of course, I have no idea how we'll get him to sit through and listen to such a serious talk, since we can barely get him to do that for disciplinary purposes.

Anyway, the whole situation is so sickening and it boggles the mind how in a world where people freak out about the most insignificant stuff, a tragedy like this is allowed to go on quietly for years.  God bless those poor kids, and may they find the healing they need.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Away

So, last night we headed to Buffalo for Election Night.  Craig's mom was up for re-election but was thankfully running unopposed.  We still felt like we should be there, so off we went.  We knew it would be a late night (polls don't close until 9pm, after all) so we dropped Jacob off at my parents' for the night before heading south to meet up with Craig's family.  Before we left and on the way there, Jacob was begging to come with us.  I know he loves my parents and has fun there, but he just seemed like he was desperate to stay with us.  We kept telling him that we were doing boring grown-up stuff (pretty much true despite the party-ish atmosphere at various campaign headquarters), and we knew none of us would have a good time if we kept him with us.  The rooms are generally crowded and would make it hard for Jacob to run...and if he did, it would be disruptive to other people and extra annoying for us because of the difficulty in catching him in a full room.  Regardless of his unwillingness to stay without us, I knew he'd have far more fun with them than with us.  And on a school night, it was even more important to stay on a schedule.

Well, the second we got there, he freaked out.  It took a Herculean effort to extract him from his carseat, and continued strength to get him into the house.  He didn't want to let go of us, and cried and screamed and reached out.  This has happened plenty before, of course, but I sort of figured he'd have gotten over this by now.  Sad, maybe, but freaking out?  A little surprising.  But as I've said before, when the boy knows what he wants, he's determined to get it.  And apparently he really wanted us.

We told him we loved him, told him he'd be fine, and left as quickly and simply as we could.  While we hated to leave him like that (for everyone's sake), they always say that you should not make a big deal out of that stuff.  Doing so only entices the child to do it more, and you want to leave them with the impression that leaving is not a big deal.  If you freak out, they will catch that vibe and assume that it means that it's something worth freaking out over.  If you leave simply, it might give them the impression that it's not such a big deal after all.  Because, as every daycare parent knows, two minutes after you leave your screaming child behind, they're usually playing contentedly like nothing ever happened.

Well...not this time.  Apparently Jacob cried for an HOUR.  Seriously?  I feel bad for Jacob that he had to go through that, and I feel bad for my parents that they had to deal with that.  Eventually my mom talked him down and he was fine, but I have to imagine that exhausted him a bit.  He slept well and managed to stay awake this morning on the drive home, but when we got to daycare, it was more of the same.  We arrived just as his classmates were starting lunch, and immediately as we walked into the room he turned and clung to my legs.  When I tried to pass him off, he literally would not let go of my hand.  He cried again, and when I picked him up today, his sheet said that he didn't eat any lunch because he was so upset. 

To be fair, we were worried that Jacob's health was impacting his reaction.  He finished up a round of antibiotics last week, given to him to clear up some fluid in his ears and help prevent a full-blown ear infection.  However, over the weekend Jacob started to get another runny nose and complained a couple times about his ears hurting.  So, today I called the doctor and we went in.  Fortunately, he was fine.  He's still got a cold and that could be making him a little extra clingy and cranky, but at least there's nothing more.  While we were in the room I spoke to the doctor about another issue (one for another blog post), he proceeded to rip the paper covering the exam table into about 50 little pieces.  After an initial attempt to stop him, I let it go on so I could talk to the doctor, with the reminder that he would have to clean up every bit of his mess.  It took a little convincing, but in the end, he picked up every single piece.  Win for mommy.

So...there's a whole lotta guilt resulting from his sudden separation anxiety.  I'm not exactly sure what's causing it.  I feel like we've been trying to spend quality time with him, so I don't know if it's been too much of a good thing, or still not enough.  I worry a bit, too, since I'll be gone this weekend to go to my friend's baby shower downstate, and in a few weeks I'll be on a plane to Portland to meet my new nephew, Max (!), and will be away from my little boy for five days.  Craig will be with him both times, but obviously some need isn't being fulfilled and my absence can't help. 

On the other hand, maybe all of this means that we need to get away more often, to desensitize him to being away from us.  It's fine to miss us, but not to be rendered inconsolable for an hour at a time.  Maybe he needs more reminders that when we go away, we always come back.  I'm sure he still doesn't like the concept of missing out on anything, but as long as his time is filled, hopefully he'll adjust.

Monday, November 7, 2011

So good, yet so bad

I've come to realize that Jacob is at opposing ends of the spectrum when it comes to his behavior.  Sometimes he is so cool, so funny, and so sweet.  And yet when he's not, watch out.  He's just an intense kid, and as I've been saying about him for ages, when he knows what he wants, he's determined to do it.  Tonight I finished folding a giant basket of his laundry that barely fit in the washing machine...and it was only from the past week.  Between potty training accidents and his incessant desire to change his outfit for whoever he wants to be (athlete of a certain sport, superhero and cowboy all have different outfits, after all), he's going through an obscene amount of clothing.  I'm having a hard time convincing him to leave his drawer of summer clothes alone, so he's frequently running around in shorts despite the cool temps outside.  And if you try to prevent him from changing at all...wooo boy...watch out.  We've had some battles over it.  On one hand this may be a pick-your-battles situation, but at the same time, I don't want him constantly pulling out clothes (his winter clothes are a bit more limited at this point--by design, with Christmas coming and a bunch of 4T reserves waiting in the wings) and creating more laundry or leaving a trail of discarded clothes all over the house.  It's crazy.  I keep telling him to use his imagination, but no such luck so far.  But seriously, need we have battles over that, or getting dressed every morning, or going to bed every night, or picking him up at daycare?  They say that kids need routine, but despite having a pretty basic one, he's still not down with it.  I guess that goes along with my complaint about him not learning from his mistakes.  Past experiences apparently have little impact.

The battles are brutal, though--lots of crying, lots of body positioning so we can't move him, lots of yelling (even though I'm trying to cut that down--sometimes I have no choice), and they're just exhausting all around.  But when he's being a good boy?  He can be so darn cute.  Smiles, laughs, funny things that he says and does...so awesome.  Sometimes we have these moments where he's playing nicely or talking coherently (sometimes he's a bit off in fantasy land), and it's like, "Ok, this is how it's supposed to be."  But then he takes the fun a little too far and inadvertently injures someone (himself included), and we're back to just trying to maintain order.  He's got a lot of energy and he's very determined.  Those traits will serve him well someday, but right now they're definitely challenging.

However, I feel like once in a while I see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I see an awesome little boy that I want to hang out with and can't wait to see grow up to be a pretty cool kid.  And that's more than I might have said a few weeks ago.  Small steps...

So, over the weekend I took advantage of Jacob's nap and Craig's player appearance to shampoo our carpets on our main floor (living room, dining room, stairs).  I bought a Bissell ProHeat 2X when they were on sale at Lowe's and I could get 5% more off with my credit card there.  I figured that with a house full of light carpeting and a boy that sometimes has trouble getting to the potty, it probably wasn't the worst investment I could make.  The carpets were looking pretty gross and one professional cleaning would cost nearly that much so it was worth a shot.  Hard to say for sure, but I think it worked relatively well.  Considering I was battling at least a year and a half of dirt and stains, it did well.  The water I emptied out of the tank was gross, so I know it at least did some good!  Because of the time the rugs take to dry, it's not going to be a frequent thing (maybe twice a year, with spot cleaning more frequently as needed), because I have a hard enough time vacuuming, let alone doing something where the rugs are damp for a few hours. 

The reason I did it Saturday was because we were headed out that night.  We took a trip to Syracuse (along with a Knighthawks player) because Craig had two players (the other was local) signing autographs at the Amerks-Crunch game.  It was weird being part of the Crunch's production, but Craig is trying to expand the fan base out to Central New York, and the response was pretty awesome, actually.  Jacob spent most of the evening running around like a maniac.  The guys were set up in an area of the arena called Memorial Hall.  Like the arena in Rochester, the Syracuse arena is also a War Memorial.  Memorial Hall had flags and murals, as well as a bunch of mannequins dressed as various war's soldiers and cases of war artifacts.  Jacob just loved running in the wide open space.  At one point he was even joined by the little boy of the Crunch goalie, who was beyond adorable.  That little boy was younger and was totally doing whatever Jacob did.  His mom, a tall Finnish brunette in very high heels, stood by watching, too.  I guess Jacob just needed to get his run on, so it worked out well.  Here are a couple pictures:

I thought this picture was sort of oddly cool.  I was playing around with my camera settings, and happened to snap this blurry picture of Jacob running around.  You can just see his ghostly image at the top of the circle design in the floor.  Considering that's about all I saw most of the night, I thought it was appropriate.
It was a fun night and Jacob fell asleep late on the way home.  I was hoping for a sleep-in because of the time change, but no such luck.  He was up bright and early.  He did, however, take a three hour nap in the afternoon.  He was nearly perfect at church since I let him bring a couple Star Wars figures and one of Craig's old G.I. Joe's, and it kept him occupied the whole time.  Score!  But that must have  tired him out!  I did some yardwork thanks to the great weather (while the Bills were stinking it up on TV) and pulled out crazy roots from these evil weed/perennial plants in our backyard.  They'll be back with a vengeance, but I tried.

Now on to another busy week.  Tomorrow is Election Day, which means a trip to Buffalo, plus the birth of my new nephew out in Oregon!  Half day on Wednesday, and a vacation day for me on Friday so I can head downstate for my friend's baby shower.  My weekend is still up in the air, though I may spend most of it away.  We'll see.  The whole scenario is a little crazy, but I'll make it work--if not with one friend, then with another.  Then we have one less crazy week (I think) and then it's thanksgiving week...and the week after that I head out to Portland (solo!) to meet my new little nephew and hang out with my brother and his family.  And then it's Christmas time, and we know how fast that goes.  So yeah, 2012 will be here before we know it.  Crazy.  Hold on tight...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Random Ramblings

Time for some random updates, news and notes...

- The Milk Project - Well, I guess the project is officially over.  I haven't actually told daycare that Jacob can have milk yet, mostly because he missed breakfast two days in a row and I wanted to avoid a messy breakfast Monday when he had his costume on.  He didn't really like the soy milk, at least not without chocolate or strawberry flavoring, so had it continued we would have had to try another type.  I wasn't seeing much improvement, though, so I figured it was ok to stop.  However...after a few good days at daycare, yesterday wasn't great.  I was hoping I could just chalk all the bad behavior up to Jacob having been sick for weeks, but other than a slight lull since late last week (with still plenty of moments in the middle), it seems that getting better hasn't really helped matters.  I've been sick as well, but despite the considerable amount of crap I've been able to expel from various facial orifices, I'm still not better yet.

- Picture Day - Today was picture day at daycare.  As in, official picture day.  They do those themed ones now and then, but today was the official, formal school picture day.  I didn't exactly have high expectations.  Jacob's still got his scar on his cheek, he had some minor scrapes on his forehead (might be from some Jason hockey masks he tried on at the store), his hair is crazy, and he's just not a good posed smiler.  I did some last-minute damage control with his hair (lots of wetting down, some trimming around the tops of the ears), I was depending on peer pressure for a good smile, and I was hoping they zipped up his sweater right.  Lots of "ifs" there, but surprisingly, the handful of advance proofs we got look good!  Now we just need to see how guilty we'll feel if we don't get the pictures...

- Potty Training - Potty training is not going well.  In fact, I think we're worse off now than we were six months ago.  I'm truly not sure what the problem is.  I have no idea if it's just a laziness thing, or if it's physical, or both.  My guess is that it's a little of both.  For starters, I know Jacob is always very wet every single morning, even though we limit post-dinner beverages and have him pee before bed.  So, it would appear that his bladder just isn't ready to hold it yet, at least not when he's unconscious.  That's fine.  I have very little concern with overnight at this point.  It's the daytime that drives me nuts.  Once in a while he'll do really well, but most of the time he's wet.  Every time.  No matter how much he goes to the potty, he's almost always got a wet spot on his underwear, and many times, it's a big one.  He still wears plastic pants to contain messes, so most of the time his pants are spared, but the wet undies are really starting to bug me.  Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that they bug him enough.  Back in the summer, when he'd have an accident, he'd tell us that he needed new undies.  Now, he doesn't even bother and we usually just discover it when he finally goes potty.  To be clear, it's rarely a full blown accident, but generally a pretty big leak.  It can't be comfortable, but apparently he's just used to it.  So now what?  How do we get him to stop going in his pants--that is, if he physically can.  The doctor downplayed his issues back in August, saying that it's normal until 4 or 5 to have accidents.  But all the time?  I'm starting to wonder if there's a problem, or if there's anything we can do until Jacob or his body decides it's ready.  The wet undies thing just seems problematic (if only because it'll keep desensitizing him to that feeling), but from everything I read, we shouldn't go backward and rely on diapers or pull-ups at this point.  I haven't tried hardcore bribery, but from what I'm seeing, I'm not sure that would help.  And anyway, I can't bribe him every day.  We ran out of undies last week, and running out of pants is a distinct possibility each week.  And I feel bad for his teachers to constantly have to deal with it.  I just don't know what to do, and it's getting so frustrating.  Oh, and I'm trying not to make a big deal about it, but I do ask Jacob periodically why his pants are wet.  No answer.

- Jacob did the cutest thing the other day.  We were making a deal--he wanted to wear his Team USA soccer gear, and I made him promise that when it was time to take it off and get in his pajamas, he needed to do it without arguing.  When I asked him to shake hands to seal the deal, I turned around and he was literally shaking his hands (almost like "jazz hands", if you will), which was so ridiculously adorable. 

- This is apparently a pretty significant time of year in my life.  Twenty years ago last week I officially started my hockey obsession.  Fourteen years ago today (I think) I went to my first Amerksroadtrips, two houses, one child, and so much more.  Good thing I called him back about five times before he actually returned my call to hire me ;-)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why not us?

It's not hard to look around and see that bad things happen to good people.  Watch the news, browse the Internet, or hear stories from friends, and that fact is abundantly clear.  It may seem easy to assume that some people had it coming to them, be it karma or bad planning/prevention, but I think that's probably a little too simplistic.  I mean, we've all had lapses, but I'd think most of the time we all come out scot-free and the lingering problems are minimal.  Think about it...that time you left the door open all night, or drove home from the bar a bit too tipsy, left your kid alone a second too long, or even went too far with a romantic interest who could have been an STD nightmare.  We've all had moments where we look back and go, "Oh yeah, that could have been bad..." and thank God we made it out unscathed.  Logic would dictate that at some point all of those free passes would catch up with us, and we, too, would be among the unlucky for a change.

Having kids can amplify this issue immensely, since it's not only you that you're concerned with, but your kids as well...and in most cases, a significant other, too.  The harming of any of those elements impacts so much that it's hard not to be a little worried sometimes, or at least feel a small knot in your stomach every time you hear about some sort of terrible situation that impacted an ordinary family just like yours.  Perhaps I make matters worse, as I follow quite a few blogs.  Most of the ones I follow are pretty lighthearted takes on parenthood, but periodically they'll delve into a tough topic, either from their own experience or to share a fellow blogger/friend's story.  I've read about everything from a couple badly burned in a small plane crash, to a young couple who both discovered they were dying of cancer, to a guy who was widowed the day after his daughter was born, to autism, miscarriage, and infertility.  Maybe this is bad, but I try to stay away from the depressing ones.  I mean, I worry about enough stuff without adding things like that to the mix, so I consider it self-preservation.  However I do realize that I am truly blessed to be able to click away from the page and not have that as my full-time reality.  In some cases it's interesting to learn about people in different, difficult situations, and even to know that some form of normal life is possible.  Still, it certainly makes you grateful for normalcy in your own life.

This is going to sound like a laughable concern amongst the issues I mentioned above, but you know, I just don't want my entire world to be defined by one issue or one event.  Some bloggers get pigeonholed into a role--the autism blogger, the burn victim, the cancer patient--and I assume those roles go beyond the blogosphere as well, into their daily life and interactions with real people.  It's got to be a little annoying at times to always be introduced in a certain manner, or immediately have to explain yourself to someone.  I was reading one blog yesterday recounting trick-or-treating with a kid with a peanut allergy.  He'd go up to the door and immediately after "trick-or-treat", he'd mention his allergy.  Definitely important, but what a bummer, huh?  It has to be so hard when something like that shapes your entire world--not just impacting holidays, but every trip to the grocery store, every meal at a restaurant, every day you send your kid to a peanut-infested school.  Nearly everything is tinged with fear.  I can't even fathom how frustrating, difficult and generally annoying that has to be. 

I know how fortunate we are, and I like that I'm free to talk about anything on this blog.  Yes, Jacob's behavior probably ranks up there in topics, but I don't HAVE to talk about it.  But when something impacts your life so greatly, inevitably it's going to come up.  And sometimes it's going to come up a lot.  And that has to be tough, both when it comes to blogging and real life.  Do you need to blog about a topic because it's expected or therapeutic, or do you purposely do other things just to feel normal and not get repetitive?  I just know I'd resent having a "thing". Kudos to the people who take their "thing" and run with it, who raise awareness and are an advocate for their cause. I just don't want a single element of life to be one that defines our existence. I know none of those people did either, but just saying...

So, anyway, back to the original question I posed, "Why not us?"  There have been so many times where I've felt like I've had a charmed life.  Things have just worked out better than I imagined so many times.  All of the worrying turns out to be for naught.  But as I see all the things other people go through, I wonder if at some point it'll be us.  There's no reason to assume something horrible will happen, but there's no reason to assume that we're immune, either.  Perhaps I'm in this mode because we're still in a holding pattern for baby #2 and I'm wondering if we're going to run into infertility issues.  A couple bloggersish now), and will his behavior ever get better?  Will things stay good with our marriage, jobs, and extended family?  Will I be stuck without a sense of smell forever, and might it have dire consequences someday? 

As you can see, there's no shortage of worries that pass through my mind.  While I trust God to take care of us in any circumstance, I'm increasingly aware of the fact that we only have one life to live and certain things can truly make or break it.  One moment can impact things forever, and that's just a little intimidating.  There's a song by a Christian artist named Natalie Grant called "Held", and the premise of the song is that, contrary to popular (mostly secular) belief, God never promised to spare His people pain.  But instead His promise was, "when everything fell, we'd be held."  While I never want to go through that kind of pain, or even frustration that pales in comparison, it's good to know that one way or another, we'll always be held.  And sometimes that's all I have to hold on to.