Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hairy Decisions

Back when I was pregnant, I pondered the whole "mom hair" thing on this blog--whether I'd feel like a shorter haircut right around my due date would cement short hair as a "mom 'do" forever in my book.  I had let my hair get a little long at that point (long for what it was then), and was hesitant to cut it for fear that it would put this "official" stamp on things...that looking back on it, the hair I had when Jacob was born would be this short mom 'do.  Perhaps I was a little scarred by old photos of Kate Gosselin (yeah, I know), who was so frumpy when her kids were born, but fortunately made a solid recovery in the style department...though I will refrain from commenting on her transformation in the last couple years.  Anyway, I didn't want to become this typical mom with the typical short hair.  But in the end, I did cut it short, and went extra short prior to Jacob's baptism. 

Quite frankly, at that point I needed the haircuts when I got them because the in-between phase was pretty awful and left me feeling less than stylish.  As a new mom, any little bit helped. 

I kept the short hair for quite a few years, and then...well, I got lazy.  And cheap.  And now my hair is long.  For me, anyway.  It's just past my shoulders.  Of course, it boggles my mind to think it was at least six inches longer at its longest, back when I was in high school. 

It also had a long phase right around the time Craig and I started dating. 

But it got progressively shorter, and once I got rid of the long hair post-wedding, I never looked back...until now. I swore when it was short that I'd never go long again.  Short hair was easier, and since my hair tends to get thin and stringy as it gets long, it was the best way to maintain a polished cut.  But...the longer hair started to grow on me, especially when I gave myself some bangs.  It just added a different dimension to it, and it was nice to be a little different than I'd been for years. 

There are days when I look at my hair and hate it.  For the longest time I was jonesing to cut it short ASAP, but held off because it's the middle of winter and that seemed odd.  It just seems like my hair hangs there, and I often feel like the same girl I was for most of my life...with long hair I didn't know how to handle.  But then I saw a couple pictures of myself where I liked it.  Like this picture from the weekend...

Then I asked Craig what length he liked best.  I know it's probably not a fair question, but I wanted to ask.  He said he liked shoulder length.  I'm not even sure he knows what he really means, since it's rarely been right at my shoulders.  Since I've been with Craig it's mostly been long-ish, or a bit above my shoulders, or even higher than the bottom of my ears.  Each length has its pros and cons.  Short hair is easier to manage, but the risk of a bad hair day is higher because it flips easier.  It's also a lot more maintenance.  My hair gets stringy when it gets long, and it gets in the way more.  I like being able to put it back when I work out, and sometimes I think it makes me look younger (in a good way).  But when it's long and stringy and needs a brushing, I often feel like the awkward teenager that I once was...just blah.

The two wildcards in this are the bangs, which I haven't had with really short hair, and highlights, which I haven't had in a couple years.  Part of me thinks I should try something shorter, but find a twist on my old style to make it more modern.  But if I hate it, the growing out process stinks.  Another part of me is scared to cut it short, because suddenly I'm finding I might be one of those people who hides behind their hair.  I'll feel exposed without it. 

Perhaps the big revelation in all of this is that I may have lost myself a bit in the past few years. I just went with whatever style worked within the time constraints (for cutting or styling), and not necessarily how I felt.  Because when you have a baby, sometimes hair isn't your first priority.  I feel the same way about clothes, honestly, though I think in recent months I've come to terms with that a bit and found a better spot--one where I need to dress the body I have now and not worry about the ten years' worth of clothes in my closet that may or may not work anymore.  I am replacing the stuff that doesn't make me feel good one piece at a time and focusing on simpler pieces.  How I can apply that theory to my hair, I'm not sure yet.  But I'm just not sure what my style is now, so it's hard to know what I should go with--both to fit my personality and my lifestyle.  Just because I can do long doesn't mean I should, and just because short used to work for me doesn't mean it will now.  Stay tuned...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Toronto Revisited

A year ago we took Jacob to Toronto with us for a Knighthawks game and a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame.  It turned out to be a fun yet difficult trip.  Jacob was cranky and uncooperative, and while the Hall was cool, we had a hard time truly enjoying it since Jacob was being such a challenge. 

This year we decided to try again.  In addition, we decided to stay over.  Last year we left the Knighthawks game early to head back as far as North Tonawanda.  Over the summer I pretty much swore I'd never stay in a hotel room with Jacob again, since our experiences on vacation were not good.  But here we were, throwing caution to the wind and giving it all a shot.  We took off from Rochester on Thursday night and headed to my parents' so we could take off for Toronto bright and early Friday morning.  The weather was a concern as snow was forecasted along our entire path in significant amounts.  We packed coats and boots and all that, and off we went, hoping for the best.

Jacob napped in the car on the way to my parents', which set him up for an extra late night.  Despite that, he was still awake bright and early.  We headed out mid-morning and made it to our first stop, the mall in Etobicoke, just before lunch time.  It was cold and windy, but no snow, thank goodness!  We headed into the mall to find the Lego Store, browsed, and eventually decided not to get anything.  There were plenty of cool things, but nothing urgent (that sounds stupid since we're talking about Lego, here, but you know) that couldn't wait for our own Lego store that's coming to one of our malls sometime soon, or when we go to Disney in the fall and go to the massive Lego store at Downtown Disney.  Still, Jacob was loving it.  We had a rather frustrating lunch in the food court, and decided it was time to head to our next destination. 

I'm sure I've mentioned it here before, but I'm a big fan of IKEA.  It's one of my favorite stores ever, and it has long created big dreams in my head of making my home cool.  I have a bunch of random pieces that I've bought over the years that I love--a random silver chair, a light that looks like an old Christmas bulb with feet, a wall lamp with interchangeable picture panels, a green and blue mosaic mirror--and plenty of functional stuff, too.  No trip to Toronto is complete without a visit to one of the stores along the way, and this time I had a handful of things to buy, check out, and ponder.  We sent Jacob into the kids area for the first time ever (thank you potty training, for giving us daytime, at least), and he had a blast.  He colored, played in the ball pit, and watched a show.  We shopped and picked up a few things, then finished our trip with some snacks (oh, how we love the ice cream and cinnamon buns!), before heading off to check into the hotel. 

After that it was off to the arena.  Craig got settled, and Jacob checked out the surroundings...
The boys were playing with the headsets, and this one's pretty darn cute.

And Jacob checked out the microphone...following in Daddy's footsteps already...
The game didn't go so well for the Knighthawks, but we had a pretty decent time anyway.  At the end of the game we headed back up to the press box to meet Craig, and I tried to get him to pose in front of this massive picture of the opening night at Air Canada Centre...and yet this was the best I got...
I got him mid-lacrosse shot, distracted by people coming toward the elevator.  And this was the best it got...
Jacob was up late that night, unfortunately, but he did sleep in on Saturday, at least.  I snuck in a quick workout before gorging myself at the breakfast buffet (I love Holiday Inn Express.).  We headed off to the Hockey Hall of Fame, hoping this year's trip would be less frustrating than last year's.  And to be honest, for the most part, it was. 
Jacob found an Amerks' puck in the sea of pucks!
This may be one of the best pictures I have ever taken of the boys.  Miracles do happen, I guess.
Jacob really wanted to play bubble hockey, and we did for a bit, but he still doesn't quite get it despite his determination to play.  However, they did have Wii Hockey, and he gave it his best shot, as well.  That didn't go particularly well either, but at least it helped him feel like he got to play.
I have a feeling our future will look something like this...
Then Jacob really wanted to do the shootout.  We figured he might be too small to trigger the sensors, but they moved him up close and he was ready to go!  He had a problem waiting for it to reset after each shot, but it may have worked to his advantage--he scored!  I think we saw one goal in the whole time we were waiting, and yet then Jacob got one!  Even Craig didn't score.  Everyone seemed to think he was pretty darn cute.
Taking his shots!
I spent most of the day trying to get Jacob to smile in pictures, particularly pictures with me.  It didn't happen.  I actually tried to recreate a shot from last year, except this time with me in it, and this was as good as it got.  At least I think I look pretty decent, which is rarely the case!
We tried.  Or rather, I tried.
Near the end of our trip Jacob started to get extra cranky.  He nearly got yelled at for trying to climb into the giant goalie mask on display, and then was doing his darnedest to get into this display for the "Golden Goal" from the 2010 Winter Olympic win by Canada...

His behavior in the store wasn't much better (since we deemed him well-stocked with hockey guys), and one final photo op with me didn't go well, but I did get this adorable picture...

Lunch was a disaster (despite being at one of our favorite restaurants), probably because he was tired.  I think he was asleep before we made it out of the city, and he slept a bit on the way home.  I'm not sure it was enough, as his behavior for the rest of the weekend was pretty iffy.  We were going to spend Sunday with Craig's family, but a couple people spent Saturday night throwing up so we opted to leave ASAP so as not to risk getting whatever bug was floating around.  Being sick is horrible enough, but work schedules would make any illness more inconvenient than usual, so it didn't seem wise to tempt fate.  We'll be back to visit in a couple weeks, though. 

All in all, it was a decent trip.  We avoided any trace of snow, missed a power outage at home, and had some fun moments.  But Jacob's inability to listen is really starting to wear on us...me in particular.  He was so bad in church that he lost his Legos through Wednesday.  I gave him a chance to earn Tuesday back with good behavior yesterday (and again today at daycare pickup), since I knew some of it might have been a result of his wacky sleep schedule, but another round of tantrums put the kibosh on that.  Someday he'll learn, right?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Jacob is Famous

Last weekend Craig took Jacob to the arena for the morning on game day.  They got a little time on the field and then spent some time in the locker room and checking out the morning shoot-arounds.  Jacob savors his time to freely play on real fields (no matter the sport), so it was a dream come true for him.  He's constantly asking when he can play on the Red Wings' (baseball), Rhinos' (soccer), or Rattlers' (outdoor lacrosse) fields, but of course none of those are Craig's teams so it might be a little challenging to get the freedom to use those fields as he'd like.  He's rapidly outgrowing our living room as his personal playing field, and the weather isn't nice enough to go outside...so apparently he's just dreaming of something better.  Way better.

Seeing an opportunity on one of the few game days where other things weren't clogging up the arena schedule for the day--it's rare that a cheerleading competition, lacrosse camp, or afternoon game for another local team doesn't take over the field for the day--Craig took Jacob along with him.  They had fun, and Craig subsequently wrote about it for his periodically updated blog.  He promoted the post on the Knighthawks' website, too.

Last night Jacob and I were sitting in the stands at the Knighthawks' game in Toronto (more on that soon) and the woman a couple seats over asked, "Is that the little boy from the internet?"  We were sitting in the section of the Knighthawks' team tickets, and it turned out that the woman was the team goalie's mom.  So obviously she's a bit of a website visitor since she wants maximum coverage of her son's team...but still, it was cool she recognized him. 

Anyway, here's the blog...cool stuff.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Universe is messing with me

So...here we are, a month or so into our "baby making break".  Part of me is totally okay with it.  I'm probably partially in denial, but then again, this probably beats driving myself nuts about my cycle, what might be wrong, etc.  However, the other day my doctor called and told me that my day 18 blood work showed that I hadn't ovulated...and yet 13 days later my period showed up.  So I'm not sure what that means.  It could mean a couple things, most of which aren't ideal but probably not horrible either.  It could make it difficult to get pregnant, but at this point it's just deciding when to visit the reproductive endocrinologist to hopefully get a handle on my cycle.  We have a few months so it's no rush, but then again, I don't want to wait too long and get behind schedule yet again. 

At this point we're probably looking to at least April before we can safely try again, and at least June if we want to start aiming for a more ideal due date.  Beggars can't be choosers, but there are so many practical reasons I'd like to have a baby in the spring or early summer.  In a perfect world I'd love to aim for April, but May would be great, too.  I wouldn't even mind the summer too much, but then we start getting close to the beginning of kindergarten and I'm not sure I want two big transitions at once.  Yikes.  But really, none of this is within my control anyway...so I don't know why I'm bothering to even think about it at this point.  I guess it's okay to have a plan, but I don't want to get caught up in it, either.

So how is the universe messing with me?  Well...in the same way it messes with most other women who are experiencing any degree of infertility issues: babies are everywhere.  I was at the mall on Monday and it seemed like everyone had a baby.  I have at least a couple of friends who announced pregnancies on Facebook recently--one of whom was my suitemate in college (her third), and another whose first baby just turned six...nope, not years...months.  Wow.  I've had a bunch of friends have babies recently, including a co-worker (different office) who welcomed twins over the weekend.  I'm beyond happy for all of them, so I'm not into the full-on bitterness stage or anything.  But admittedly, I'm at least a little jealous.  In a good way, if that's possible.  I know how amazing a new baby is, and I know how amazing (and yes, exasperating) the grown-up versions of them can be, too.  And I miss that perfect love untainted by yelling or discipline or talking back.  Yes, there's sleepless nights and spit-up and freaking out about every little thing, not to mention LABOR, but it was pretty awesome the first time around regardless and I'd like to do it again with at least some benefit of hindsight...even if pretty much everything will be different the second time around.  So knowing all of that, how can I begrudge anyone that opportunity, particularly those I know and care about?

Not to mention that I'm well aware that I'm on the lowest level of the infertility totem pole right now, since a) I have a child; b) we've only been at this for eight months or so; c) last we knew I could have a baby and there's no reason yet to believe otherwise; d) I've had no treatment yet so we have no idea how easily it might work; and e) I haven't had to suffer through any potentially awful stuff yet.  I've had it easy other than the fact that I didn't just get pregnant with minimal effort.  It's a bummer but far from a tragedy.

Oh, and there's one other way that the universe is messing with me.  One word--gas.  What?  So...yeah.  The summer before I got pregnant, I remember laying on the couch in our basement.  I was pretty sure I couldn't be pregnant, yet my stomach was flickering.  It was the oddest sensation ever, and even weirder that I could see it.  I wasn't pregnant, but it turns out that it was a pretty accurate sensation of what baby kicks felt like.  When Jacob first started kicking me, it felt very similar.  However, most likely those flickers that summer were gas or a muscle spasm (like when your eye does it, I guess), and undoubtedly I had some more of that before Jacob was officially kicking me.  I may have had it periodically since, too, but lately?  All. The. Time.  It would be pleasant if it wasn't a constant reminder of the real thing that's not happening anytime soon.  I have no idea what's causing it all of a sudden, but man, I wish it would go away.  Just to give me back that sliver of my sanity.  I'd like to keep what I can at this point before it starts leaving in droves. 

Rest assured, I'm okay.  I don't have any choice at this point because we have a long wait ahead of us just to try to get the show back on the road.  There's nothing I can do right now so I'm just living the rest of my life.  And I'm okay with that.  But the reminders here and there threaten my sense of peace ever so slightly.  It's a test of patience and faith, no doubt, but right now I think I'm still studying.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Flying Solo

Jacob can be a pretty good solo player.  When it's just the two of us, often he'll wander off and get engrossed in something.  He'll set up his baseball guys, army guys, or superheroes.  He'll change clothes into whatever outfit he deems appropriate for the sport he wants to play next.  He'll wander down to the basement and play with the massive spread of Legos.  He'll ask me questions and look for my approval on things, but I can get quite productive in the meantime.  It's a pretty nice gig, to be honest.  I know how lucky I am.

He seems perfectly content most of the time, but I do try to participate once in a while--play sports, help build something, give my opinion.  I probably should do it more, but it's hard when I need to get things done and don't have any backup.  But again, he's usually so good about it that it's (too) easy to just let him be.   

The odd thing is that when Craig is home, Jacob is the neediest child.  He constantly needs a playmate.  Craig will play with him for a while and take a little break, and Jacob will then whine about needing someone to play with.  I will offer myself up, but he will reject me and immediately ask who he can play with.  Of course he wants me to say "Daddy".  It would be comical if it wasn't so frustrating.

On one had, I feel for him.  He misses his daddy.  Craig does work a lot (though not as much as if he was still working hockey), but I know Jacob craves time with him.  After all, he's the coolest dad ever.  He works for the Knighthawks, knows how to play sports, introduced him to Legos, knows everything about superheroes, and is willing to be totally silly with him.  Heck, Craig sacrificed sleep Friday night to have a little slumber party with him in the spare room.  He's a cool dad, no doubt.  Of course Jacob wants to maximize his time with him. 

On the other hand, why won't he play with me when Craig is around?  Is he just so used to not playing with me?  Is he not wanting to use valuable time that could be spent with Daddy playing with me?  Hard to tell.  I feel bad that he's not that into me.  I know he loves me, but it's still a bit of a bummer to not be an acceptable option for your own kid.  I feel bad that Craig has to be full-time entertainer when he's home.  I guess he needs to make up for lost time--and let's face it, he likes Legos a lot--but it's hard.  I wish he could benefit from the good solo playtime as well. 

In the meantime, here's the Legos that have been keeping him busy lately:
There's a firehouse, a busy street corner, the remains of a castle, and a Mummy's tomb (just what every city needs).  It's a mix of Craig's old Legos, Craig's newer Legos (he got some Indiana Jones ones a few years back in preparation for a time such as now), and Jacob's new Legos, including a small cops & robbers set he got for Valentine's Day.

I asked him to show me what he made and smile.  Close, I guess.
Anyway, I have the day off tomorrow but I'm still sending Jacob to daycare.  Call me a bad mom, but I'm ready for a "me day".  It might be a different situation if we weren't taking Jacob to Toronto on Friday.  I figure there's no reason for him to miss two days this week, and I will cram as much into tomorrow as possible.  Hopefully carpet cleaning, shopping, and a visit to the gym...so it's better to do it alone than block Jacob from part of the house, drag him shopping, and drag him to the gym (though if I run out of time, that last one might happen anyway.  He's ok with the gym kids' club, though).  A good mental health day always makes me a better mom anyway, so I think it's worth it.  Any special thing we would have done if I did keep him home (Strong Museum, germy bounce house places) will be jammed all week anyway (February break), so there's no sense...particularly since we're paying for daycare anyway.  So, I'm looking forward to Friday and hopefully some good photo ops.  Busy week ahead regardless...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Dud

Last night we were watching the news and they said something about the 17+ inches of snow we got on Valentine's Day a few years back--2007, I think.  We spent that evening shoveling our driveway, which was exhausting, and ended up at the closest decent restaurant, Outback Steakhouse, for what I would consider to be one of my top ten meals ever.  Mind you, that list is also populated by McDonald's, Sbarro, and hospital food, so it's clear it's less about the quality of the meal and more about how desperately I wanted it.  That meal was awesome, but man, were we ever tired!  Upon getting that reminder of that Valentine's Day, I said to Craig, "Man, we've had some crappy Valentine's Days." 

We had one (possibly when I was pregnant) where the restaurant we tried to go to had more than a two-hour wait...though after a few tense, hungry moments, we ended up going to a little place in the city and eating right away.  Last year we invited Lori out with us, which was a fun change of pace, but we had trouble finding somewhere without a long wait and Jacob ended up being a royal pain the whole time we were there. When Jacob was one we went to Strong Museum of Play, and Jacob was brutal.  I'm pretty sure we had a Valentine's Day or two where we had to work.  In recent memory the best one was when Jacob was eight months old and we got to go to dinner and a concert.  But other than that, we've struggled.

Ultimately it's not a big deal.  Valentine's Day isn't exactly the most vital holiday, so while there are expectations that it should be better than a normal day, it doesn't necessarily have to be that way.  I think it's silly to spend a lot of money on a present for that kind of holiday, though if I saw something perfect it would be a nice excuse.  But jewelry's too fancy, flowers die, and chocolate is fattening.  Restaurants are crazy busy, and setting up a babysitter and all that is sometimes not even worth the work.  And at the end of a busy work day, it's all a bit much. 

This year I decided to just keep things simple and suggested we just pick up Chinese food and get a movie.  I love Chinese food, Craig loves movies, and we had a couple little gifts for Jacob to enjoy, too.  Well, we did the movie and Chinese food, but everything else just sort of stunk.  I had a rough day at work, and Craig had a REALLY rough day at work.  His rough day actually started Monday morning when he woke up in Minnesota to the news that five Knighthawks had been arrested after getting in a brawl at a restaurant after their game on Sunday.  While they surely weren't completely innocent, some had pretty nasty injuries and only two other people out of 30 participants in the brawl were arrested, so there's clearly more to the story.  Craig has spent the last few days managing the message, answering calls, and tracking down leads on places where the story is being reported.  It's been awful.  And as a result, he spent much of last night on his phone with co-workers and the media, and tracking down YouTube video of the fight.  In addition, Jacob was pretty awful at daycare pickup--he wouldn't clean up and wouldn't listen at all...even when I threatened to withhold his Valentine's Day gifts.  So...no gifts for him.  The Legos would have to wait another day.

Anyway, the Chinese food was delicious, the movie was good (we rented "Moneyball"), and we did our best to make the most of the day.  But the work stresses and Jacob's behavior sort of killed it before it had a chance.  Again, it's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things...but maybe a bad day on Valentine's Day has a way of seeming a little worse than it should.  Perhaps that's as ridiculous as the holiday itself...or maybe having higher hopes for one special day isn't too much to ask.  There's always next year...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Weekend

Craig was on the road this past weekend, which meant it was another weekend with just Jacob and me.  Once in a while these weekends are good, but considering Jacob's recent behavior (the fact that he will not listen at all), I was a little concerned.  The weather was also a concern, but the good news was that we really didn't have to do anything if we didn't want to. 

Saturday we woke up to snow.  We haven't had a lot of snow this year.  In fact, I think we were about four feet below average, and nearly five feet behind last year at this time.  It's been weird and a little unnerving, but I can't really complain now that we're past Christmas.  I wanted snow for Christmas but beyond that...ehh.  So this round of snow was a little bit of a shock to the system.  We got a couple inches in the morning, enough to make the roads crappy.  Jacob hasn't had a lot of chances to play in the snow, but I got him in his snowpants and boots and he came out to play while I shoveled.  He loved just running through the snow!  Of course, somehow he got snow in his glove and freaked out a bit, but eventually I fixed him back up and pulled out an old sled that my parents had handed down to me.  We took a very quick sled ride, which Jacob liked until we turned and he face planted a bit.  Even then he hung in there but we went back inside pretty quickly so we could have lunch and get around to naptime. 

After nap we braved the roads and headed to the library, our first trip in a long while.  We picked up a number of books--Dino-Soccer (a favorite), a Llama Llama book we hadn't read, another book by the same author, a hockey book, a Curious George book, a couple books by Mo Willems, and one book by the same author as the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" books.  They're all cute and it's nice to have more new reading material.  Once we were done there, we headed off to get Jacob a haircut.  He was long overdue.  I love when he's got fuzzy hair.  Other than getting distracted and moving his head a bit, he did great.  We made a quick stop at the craft store (little side project I'm working on) and a quick trip to Wegmans before grabbing some dinner and heading home for the night.  After bedtime I went back out and shoveled another inch or two, just because it would be that much less I'd have to shovel in the morning. 

I was dead-set on going to church in the morning as it was supposed to be Jacob's first day of Sunday School.  He's technically been eligible since he turned three, but potty training was an issue.  At some point in the middle of the holidays that took care of itself, but it didn't occur to me for a while that he was finally good to go!  So, last week I finally remembered to sign him up and I wanted to get him into it ASAP before he freaked out about it too much.  I was looking forward to being able to pay attention in church for a change, too.  Anyway, we woke up to at least four inches of snow, and when I went outside to shovel, the neighbors were out and did me a huge favor.  The husband helped me shovel while the wife snowblowed not only the plow crap at the bottom of the driveway, but also part of the driveway itself.  Thanks to them we got out on time and just made it to church on time despite horrible roads.  Drop-off went perfectly.  Of course, I spent most of church looking out the windows at the hardcore snowfall (the pastor said it looked like we were in a snowglobe) and thinking about the fate of the soccer game we were hoping to go to later in the day.  In the end, Jacob really seemed to like Sunday School a lot.  Ironically, his first lesson was one of my more memorable ones from my days in Sunday School--Zaccheus--and I even sang a song to prove it to him. 

When we got home, I had to shovel again because we got another four inches of snow in a couple hours.  I only did half of the driveway to save time (and my muscles!).  We had a quick lunch and headed out to the Rochester Lancers' game.  The Lancers are our local indoor soccer team, owned by an old friend of ours, Soccer Sam.  He used to be involved with the Rhinos and I even hosted his TV show for a summer or two.  I had been meaning to get to a game all season, and I was running out of time.  Craig and Jacob went to a game earlier in the season when I was out of town.  Despite the snow we headed out.  The drive wasn't as bad as it could have been, and shortly after we got there, the sun was out.  Ahhh, lake effect.  Still, we officially ended up with 14 inches.  Wow.  Of course, it's all melting now.

Anyway, the risk of this outing was that Jacob had to miss his nap.  That is always difficult, but I figured I had an early bedtime to save me if necessary.  Once we were settled in our seats, Jacob seemed sleepy and a couple minutes after I hauled him onto my lap, he fell asleep for about 20 minutes.  When he woke up he was raring to go!

Here are a few pics I took while we were at the game...

And this is what I got most of the time.
Jacob wanted to play soccer, and I did give him some time during halftime, but he kept asking.  Still, we made it through the whole game and still managed to track down Louie the Lancer before we headed out. 

We kept things low key for the rest of the day--listening to Craig on the radio, hanging out at home, writing up Jacob's valentines, and fortunately avoiding more shoveling thanks to an unknown neighbor finishing the other half of the driveway.  Craig wouldn't be home until midday Monday, so it was one more night and morning of solo parenting before getting back to regular life.  Of course, in the end things haven't quite been back to normal--Craig's had a rough couple days of work, Jacob has been extra difficult, and Valentine's Day wasn't exactly idyllic.  More on that later, I guess...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stuff...

It's been a weird week.  Jacob's been sick--starting with awful congestion and a cough, culminating in the diagnosis of an ear infection on Wednesday.  He was whiny and we were worried the strep throat plague in his day care room might have struck again, but in the end the doctor diagnosed an early ear infection and said that the antibiotics would take care of anything else.  He missed one day of day care since he was coming off a fever and we couldn't get a doctor's appointment until midday, and we split the day to care for him.  He got to go back in time for a bowling field trip Thursday.  He loved it, of course.

I, on the other hand, took off for Buffalo to go to the funeral of my great uncle.  He had been suffering with cancer for a while, and while in the end his passing was a blessing, the world lost a vibrant, loving, amazing family man.  He leaves as his legacy a fantastic family full of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  He's the younger brother of my grandma, who passed away over six years ago.  The funeral was lovely.  There were great recollections of Uncle Carl's life from a past minister/longtime friend and his current minister, and a reading of a touching letter he wrote a few years ago.  It was evident that his life revolved around his faith and his family, and while there's great joy that he's in heaven, it's apparent that his earthly family will miss him greatly.  Despite the circumstances, it was great to see some family, see some pictures, and hear some stories.  To me, that's always the silver lining of a very dark cloud. 

Today it was back to normal...other than the fact that Craig was off this evening to Buffalo in preparation for an early flight to Minneapolis for a Knighthawks game.  This is always one of his favorite trips, for a few reasons.  First, Minnesota is the home of Peanuts gang, so random character statues are scattered around town.  Second, Craig loved the Minnesota North Stars until they moved to Dallas in the early 90s, and the trip sometimes affords him the opportunity to scope out retro North Stars merchandise.  Finally, they usually stay somewhere relatively close to the Mall of America and any trip there is an adventure.  Craig is extra excited to go this time because he wants to go to the Lego Store.  Craig has been loving Jacob's enjoyment of his old Legos, and he's hoping to have the opportunity to make a custom mini-figure to bring back to Jacob.  It remains to be seen if he'll get it right away, but it's a fun opportunity nonetheless.

The one bummer from today is that Jacob is feeling the effects of his antibiotics.  Normally he doesn't have any ill-effects from amoxicillin, but this time he's on something more powerful, and it's taking its toll.  I got a call midday that he had some diarrhea this morning, and this afternoon when I got there, he had a bag of clothes in his cubby.  It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but let's just say that I'm nervous enough to keep him in a pull-up this weekend.  I need to get him some yogurt like the doctor suggested, and gave him a mini yogurt smoothie with dinner tonight.  He still had another round tonight--thankfully very well controlled--but we'll have to keep working on it and hope it gets better. 

So, here we are with a weekend alone.  We don't have many plans, which is probably good considering his health issues, but we'll probably still try to hit up an indoor soccer game Sunday (we have to skip nap...yikes!) following Jacob's first time at Sunday school, which I hope goes off without a hitch.  I hope to grab a meal out tomorrow and maybe do a little shopping, but we'll probably keep things low key.  I'm hoping I can be at least a little productive with some little projects--filing, getting ready for tax season, balancing my checkbook, cleaning--but we'll see how Jacob's schedule and my motivation level cooperate.  Speaking of which, time to work on one element of my motivation...off to bed!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Moments in Time

Consider this the sequel to my post the other day about how I can't quite fathom how much Jacob has grown up...

A few weeks back I got a new computer at work.  I made sure that all of the pictures I had transferred onto my old computer made it to my new computer, because I didn't want to transfer all of them again.  I used them mostly for creating these blog posts and for handpicking a fun desktop wallpaper, and while it's probably not necessary for 90% of them to be there now, it's still nice to know they are.  My wallpaper can give me a reason to smile in the middle of the worst work day.  When I was getting the computer set up, I needed to pick a screensaver.  I was surprised at how few options I had with Windows 7, so I settled on the photo slideshow and set it up to shuffle all of the pictures in my folder.  Little did I know what a distraction it might become.  Now when I come back to my desk and the slideshow is running, I can't help but sit down and stare at it for a bit.  Watching random images of the past five years of your life is pretty crazy.  It sure as heck makes you wonder for a second why you're wasting time sitting at a desk staring at spreadsheets when you have an adorable child and a whole wide world out there to explore.  And then you remember...oh, yeah, you need to fund those explorations somehow.

It's interesting to have these little moments pop up in the middle of a crazy work day, and to allow myself a second to transport back to a great moment-- a vacation, a smiley baby, or a seemingly insignificant but pleasant moment.  It's a unique scenario in that I'm seeing these moments in no particular order, isolated from other photos taken at the same time.  As a result, it allows each moment to stand alone.  A picture that I'd normally look at and gloss over among other ones gets its time in the spotlight and takes on new significance.

I've given all of this a little more thought this week in light of a local tragedy.  A 12-year-old boy was hit in the chest with a ball during a lacrosse game (at a facility down the road--the one we went to the open house at over Christmas), and after a few days in the ICU, he passed away.  As a parent of a little boy that loves sports, lacrosse in particular, the death hits home.  I can't even imagine the agony his parents have gone through this week.  Here they were, letting their little boy do something he loved, something that would otherwise be a healthy, positive way to spend his time, and now they're burying him as a result of it.  It's a totally freak thing, as it takes perfect placement on the body, at a perfect millisecond of the heartbeat, and in spite of the correct equipment, to cause sudden cardiac arrest.  It seems like one in a million, and maybe it is, but there have been a few incidents around here in the past few years--a college player who had a similar incident, a younger kid hit in the base of the head--so it doesn't feel like it's quite rare enough.  How can I send my amazing, sweet baby on to that field knowing that things like this can happen?  I know that something can happen almost anywhere, but it's so scary. 

I think I've mentioned here before that I have a hard time deleting any pictures I take of Jacob, regardless of how blurry or awkward they might be.  I always think about how I'd feel if my picture-taking time was finite, and how if I had no more opportunities to take pictures of him, how precious even those crappy ones would be.  Whenever I hear of the untimely demise of someone far too young, I always think about their parents.  How do they feel looking at those baby pictures?  Do they think, "If I knew then what I knew now..."?  I'm sure it's a mix of gratefulness for the good times and sadness for what will never be, but does the end result taint the past?  Do those baby pictures become more painful or more precious?  I can't even begin to think about it.  Not knowing the future is both a blessing and a curse, as it gives you the ability to enjoy that time without reservation, but also risks that you won't take full advantage of the time you have. 

So, in light of this week's reminder of how precious life is, and knowing we could someday be sending our baby onto a very dangerous field, those little moments I see on my screensaver take on a new significance.  God knows the moments are limited enough considering how fast he grows and changes, let alone if we didn't have the rest of our lives to enjoy him.  God forbid.  Perfect or blurry, silly or sad, mid-blink or too dark, a special occasion or an everyday moment...no matter what, there will never be enough.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Slacker

I feel like such a slacker lately.  I haven't wanted to drag myself off my chair to grab my camera and pull photos off to post.  To be fair, I knew I didn't have any masterpieces, so perhaps the motivation had to do with the quality of the pics rather than complete laziness.  We're in a bit of a "dead zone" right now, which happens once in a while.  We don't have much going on, and as a result most of my photo ops happen to look pretty much the same--Jacob playing sports or watching sports.  Not that they're not special, but I like to have some variety. 

Anyway, two weekends ago when we were in Buffalo, I took a couple pictures of Jacob playing with my brother's beloved Legos.  John's collection was rather large, and I figured Jacob would get a kick out of it.  He's been playing a lot with Craig's Legos (to the point that Craig has been adding to his collection), and I thought it might be fun to see John's collection again myself.  Jacob enjoyed seeing some different pieces and playing with them himself.
Grandma got into the act, too!

Having fun!
This past weekend we went to the Knighthawks game (they won!) and I snapped a few pictures of Jacob in the seats.  Nothing exciting, but funny and cute nonetheless...
Watching...and I think being a little silly since he knew I had the camera

So silly...but how sweet does he look?

I love pictures where his dimple is making an appearance.  My sweet boy...
We had fun at the game but didn't stick around for post-game action on the field.  Lori came with us, and since she's been through hell health-wise lately, we didn't want to push it.  And really, it's never a bad thing to get Jacob home and in bed sooner.  He's had a few opportunities to hang out on the field, and since we got reprimanded last time because Jacob was throwing his ball against the boards (no playing allowed on the field postgame), there wasn't a lot of motivation to stay. 

Sunday we did church and I officially signed Jacob up for Sunday School.  I had been holding off because of potty training, and once he seemed to be pretty much trained around the holidays, we just had to get around to it.  I finally remembered this weekend after church, and we got to meet his teacher.  He wasn't convinced at first, but after running around with the teacher's daughter and discovering that there were some musical instruments there, he seemed more open to the idea.  I opted to sign him up for the session that's during the church service we usually go to.  He's been better in church lately.  He'll play mostly quietly with his action figures, with just a couple moments where we need to shush him or threaten to take away toys or other privileges.  However, I think that two hours is a lot to ask of him at this point.  He'll go to Sunday School while we're at church, which I think is good for both parties.  We'll get to pay attention, and he'll get to learn about Jesus in a very age-appropriate way.  I think he'll enjoy the experience--new friends, new adventures, new songs, new stories--and it'll be cool to have him come home talking about Bible stories and helping us relive our youth.  Someday I would like him to do both church and Sunday School, once he's at an age where he can benefit from both and more easily dedicate two hours' worth of his attention span to the cause.  How soon that time comes may also have something to do with another baby and how full our hands are on that front.  Still, I think it will be fun for him and I'm excited for him to start. 

We had a quiet evening at home to watch the Superbowl, complete with pizza and cocoa krispie treats that I themed to look a bit football-ish.  The big party we usually go to was canceled for this year due to the failing health of the host's mother.  It wasn't the same, as we have fun seeing our friends and getting reacquainted with the folks we see there each year.  The bright side was that we took in a lot less calories, didn't have to struggle to keep Jacob occupied, and got him to bed early (after a non-existent nap)...but the commercials aren't quite as funny without other people to watch them with, and the food and good company were certainly missed.

We have a couple weeks to kill before a very busy and hopefully fun week later in the month.  A three day week and back-to-back three day weekends sound pretty awesome by themselves, let alone adding in a trip to Toronto and hopefully going to Craig's mom's annual Mardi Gras fundraiser.  But in the meantime, Jacob has another cold (that we're hoping isn't just strep in disguise) and there's plenty of work for me and another roadtrip for Craig coming up (Minnesota this time).  No wonder I want to slack.  And speaking of which, I'm tired.  Off to bed...     

Friday, February 3, 2012

Time Flies

This morning I realized that Jacob has now spent more than half of his life in our new house.  Meaning the house that he spent the first 18 months of his life in is now officially less significant than our current house.  It's hard to believe we've been here for nearly two years.  I looked back at the blog from two years ago, and my February posts were seriously lacking...probably because I was too busy packing (and worrying about packing).  Jacob was sick and I can tell that we were generally stressed out.  The move was such a big deal, and now two years later we're pleasantly settled, though we haven't done much to the house in the time we've been there to make it ours.  The good news of that, however, is that it means we bought a house that fit our needs and tastes pretty well, and that's such an awesome thing.  Not having house stress like we had with our old house (ugly kitchen, a lot of expensive projects on tap) has been a godsend. 

Because our old house is pretty much on the path to and from daycare (it's off the most direct path, but not by much), periodically I turn down our old street and go by it.  It's rare that I see much of anything going on there.  The blinds are always closed so all I can see at night is maybe the dining room light shining through the window on the front door.  They've added solar lights along the one side of the house (no idea why) and they hacked the crap out of the lilac bush.  It needed it, mind you, but I could never bring myself to really do it because you risk blooms when you do that.  They do Christmas lights, too, but that's pretty much all I've seen in the way of outdoor signs of life.  Anyway, I went by it this morning and got to thinking about how it was Jacob's first house, with his first bedroom.  Based on my feelings after going to that open house a couple weeks ago, I don't miss it, really.  But I get wistful, and I get a little sad when I think about how Jacob won't remember it.  And that's when it hit me that our current house has been his house for longer than the other one, the only house he'd known for the first 21 months of his life.  Now he's had 23 months in the new one.  That just floored me a bit.

For the longest time, I looked back at pictures from when we were first in this house and Jacob looked like a big boy.  I mean, he was walking and talking at that point (not a lot, but enough) so he was decidedly out of the full-on baby stage, but all of a sudden, now I look back at those pictures and see how much of a baby he still was compared to the real big boy he is now.  And yes, I realize that two years down the road I'll look back at now and say the same thing.  It's getting harder and harder to wrap my brain around the fact that the tiny baby that joined our family 44 months ago is now this real person we can have conversations with and who can dress himself and who wears underwear most of the time.  How can baby Jacob and big Jacob possibly be the same person?  How did he just do that?  I often joke with him about who gave him permission to grow up, but there's a thinly veiled truth there...that while we want him to grow, it's beyond comprehension how it all actually happens.  I still can't believe that two little cells combined once upon a time, and over four years later we have this little boy that looks like us and has all these functioning body parts that are all in the right places...and aside from providing general care to keep him alive, his body did that all by itself.  If that doesn't make you think long and hard about God's existence, nothing will.  Not just chance, people.

I can't get over how time flies sometimes.  Of course, right now part of me hopes that time goes quickly so we can get back to babymaking, but another part of me knows I need to stop wishing away time.  I need to stop wishing we could skip ahead to another phase, another activity, another season, another baby...and just appreciate all I have right now.  And a lot of the time, I do.  But when I look back at the past, viewing pictures or pondering memories, I marvel at the journey we've been on.  And I can't help but eagerly anticipate the good changes that could come in the future.  When you see a baby grow into an amazing child, you can't help but want to watch it happen again.  But for now we'll make the most of what we have...and that alone is a lot. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pump up the Volume

Lately I swear someone found Jacob's volume button and turned it up to the max.  Seriously, the kid has been loud.  I know that kids make a lot of noise and talk incessantly, but Jacob is really living up to that these days.  While he had moments throughout his life where that was the case, for the most part he was a pretty low-key kid.  He'd play quietly and mostly get loud while playing sports or when one of us got him all riled up.  But recently it seems like he has to be making noise 24/7. 

I described it to someone yesterday this way: "I feel like we've been transported into the movie Dumb and Dumber, with Jim Carrey's character pulling the old, 'Wanna hear the most annoying noise in the world?' line."  I never thought I would describe the sound of my child's voice with those words, but some of the noises he's been making have been that bad.  He explained away one particularly annoying set by saying that animals make those noises, so why can't he?  To which I replied that that's fine that animals make those noises, but that he shouldn't because he's hurting my ears. 

And there are actually two kinds of hurts going on right now--the figurative "bleeding ears" from listening to these annoying noises, and the literal pain that results from the loudness with which some of them are expressed.  When he's not making annoying, non-sensical noise, he's often whining about something he doesn't want to do, or showing his displeasure via loud, ear-piercing shrieks.  It's brutal.  We've heard them before, of course, but maybe it's just the frequency with which they're being displayed these days. 

Ever since Jacob was sick, he's just been difficult.  All the time.  Maybe it's that we went easy on him that week, or maybe it's just coincidence.  Heck, maybe he's still sick and we have no idea.  Strep never shows up in kids the way you expect it, and it is STILL going around his classroom, making multiple rounds through the class.  One girl is on her third bout of it, if you can believe that.  They've bleached the toys and done everything they can, but his room is apparently infested.  For all we know, he's still got it and while the discomfort isn't clear enough to put into words, it's making him cranky.  I don't know, stranger things have happened.

Even bedtime is not immune to the noise.  Normally we'd leave his room and never hear from him again.  Lately he's been singing, quite loudly, for quite a while...often to the tune of "Deck the Halls".  He's been doing it in the morning, too, and there have been a couple times where I was *thisclose* to turning off the monitor because I couldn't stand the noise.  It's just loud and not at all melodious.  He's my child and I know I should take in every ounce of his essence...but geez.  This isn't easy stuff to love no matter how much I love the little boy it's coming out of.  I'm trying not to shush him more than necessary, because I know little boys need to make noise...but I need to maintain some sanity, too.

We're getting a lot of "no" these days, and in concert with the noise, it's been a little tough to maintain composure.  We're back to lots of counting, some yelling, and withholding his Batcave for another day when he doesn't comply.  Hopefully a few more days of firmness will get us somewhere...like back to low volume and a few more appearances of the word "yes".  Or at least a few less animalistic outbursts.  Small victories...