Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Worst Appointment Ever

As I've mentioned before, Jacob's had to see far too many specialists in his young life.  The pulmonologist, the dermatologist, and today, the cardiologist.  On one hand I knew this was a long shot.  Still, even per our doctor, it was worth checking into.  I had noticed that his oxygen level seemed to be consistently lower than expected, be it at his pulmonologist appointments, when he had pneumonia in January (and no amount of breathing treatments got it where they ideally wanted), or even at his well visit in June when I first brought it up to the pediatrician.  Each time his oxygen was somewhere between 95-98%.  Not horrible, but lower than expected.  My official concern came from a blog post I read that talked about how low oxygen could indicate a heart defect--at least in newborns.  The blogger's daughter died at five days old because her pulse ox was not checked--and if it was, it would have indicated a heart problem that could have been treated.  Jacob's heart was one thing that hadn't really been scrutinized, and what if that was the cause? 

While you'd think if it was a true concern someone would have said something before now, it always seemed like the low figures were chalked up to circumstance--too much movement or that it wasn't contacting right, or something like that.  Again, if it was a huge concern I know it would have been brought up, but knowing how athletic-minded Jacob is, I didn't want to risk finding out he had a heart defect when he someday collapsed playing sports.  All things considered, his doctor admitted there was no real reason why his level should be that low, nor did she think that we should have to worry about it, so she referred us to a pediatric cardiologist.

Today was the day.  When we got there, the nurse that greeted us first was great.  She noticed the Mr. Incredible character on Jacob's shirt (he was wearing a Disney Hollywood Studios souvenir shirt), and gave him a Mr. Incredible figure right off her desk.  That was pretty legit.  She was so great, keeping things simple and fun for Jacob while she put on the electrodes and did a bunch of monitoring.  Jacob was so good and so brave.  He did awesome.  The appointment was great up to that point...so based on the title, you can only imagine how bad the second half went.

Once we got into the exam room, Jacob got a little antsy.  When the doctor finally came in, the first thing out of her mouth was, "I don't really understand why you're here."  Great.  I tried to explain my story without sounding nuts, but immediately she's like, "His levels aren't low.  Anything 95 and above is normal."  To which I said, "Well, his doctor didn't say that was normal.  She said it was worth looking into."  "Well, they're normal."  Ummm, ok.  At this point she was being so brusque that I started to lose my nerve a bit.  I mean, she's basically saying flat out that we shouldn't even be there, even though our doctor said it was fine to double check.  It's not MY fault my doctor didn't say that 95+ was normal.  Geez.  I actually got a little teary (I blame it on fluctuating hormones), because, quite frankly, I didn't know what to say. 

Later on she said, "He's asthmatic, right?" and I said, "Well, we've suspected but no one's ever told us that."  "It says it right here," she said, as she pointed to the letter Jacob's doctor wrote.  Well, it actually said he had reactive airway disease, which is another term I don't think we'd ever heard.  It's not a surprise given all of this issues--I guess it all had to have a name--but this woman was equating it with asthma and insisting that meant he had asthma, to which I kept responding that he'd never been formally diagnosed and no one ever told us that was the case.  The most instruction we've ever gotten is to give him a nebulizer albuterol treatment if he starts wheezing, which we've had to do the last couple times he's been sick.  That was always something his doctors had warned could happen, but until recently, it hadn't been an issue.  I've been thinking for a bit that I need to call the pulmonologist again because of that new development, and possibly get him formally tested for asthma.  And I will.  But it would have been helpful if someone would have mentioned that this was a reality beyond just our assumptions. 

Anyway, the rest of the visit is a blur, but suffice it to say I was miserable and feeling very stupid.  The good news is that all of Jacob's tests came back normal.  And despite the horrific experience of the appointment itself, I'm happy we did it.  It's one less question to ask down the road (and not to be grim, but if (God forbid) something ever happens to Jacob in the cardiology realm, I will have absolutely no guilt suing this doctor for malpractice...she was that rude), and I'd rather know I was an advocate for my son than to do nothing and wonder.  But the way she acted like I was crazy to ask the question just pissed me off to no end.  I could barely contain my emotions for the rest of the afternoon.  My boss has just gone through the week from hell with her critically ill mother, and she was very sympathetic in the "be an advocate", "never feel stupid" department.

Oh, and if there was any question in my mind about this doctor's mindset, I think the end of the appointment sealed it.  Admittedly, Jacob had been a handful the whole time we were in this room, and it was a little hard to control him, given my emotions and that I was trying to answer the doctor's questions at the same time.  He was playing with Mr. Incredible, trying to rip the exam table paper, fiddling with the toys in the room, opening drawers, etc.  He was a pain, no doubt.  At the end of the exam, the doctor said, "Is he always this energetic?"  I said yes, and she said something to the effect of, "Well, I'm tired...", meaning that watching him made her tired...but it wasn't said in a haha, cute but active kid-sort of way.  She legitimately seemed surprised by it all.  And I'm sitting there thinking, hello, you're a pediatric cardiologist.  If that's the worst she's ever seen, that's nothing short of amazing.  I get that a lot of her patients might be a bit more subdued, but geez, he's a four year old little boy.  It wasn't ideal behavior, but I also don't think it was abnormal.  If she thinks it is, she's crazier than I thought.

Again, I'm definitely relieved that Jacob's fine.  I'm a little annoyed if his pediatrician should have known that his levels were actually okay, or if the asthma thing is a given and no one bothered to mention it, but I'm pretty sure this doctor was just being a little extra high on her horse and annoyed with some parent who needlessly dragged her kid to the cardiologist for no apparent reason.  No doctor should ever make you feel foolish, unless perhaps there is truly zero reason to be there.  Even still...there is no denying that it was a miserable doctor experience.  That's a shame considering the fantastic nurse experience that preceded it.  But I am relieved we don't have to go back there, for more reasons than one. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Check one more off the list...

When you become a parent, inevitably you hear stories from other parents about horrible, awful circumstances they get into with their kids that you hope you never have to experience.  Of course, odds being what they are, it's probably hard to avoid them entirely.  It's sort of the opposite of a bucket list--what experiences do I seriously want to avoid?

Early on most of the circumstances probably have to deal with pee and poop...the time someone got sprayed in the mouth with pee, the poop-up-the-back blowout and awkward, poop-everywhere diaper change that follows.  When you reach potty training, the fears become more centered around public potty problems.  In the meantime, the fears grow into other areas, like broken bones, emergency room visits, and horrible illnesses.  We've done the emergency room (twice for me, three times for Craig), his face has been glued shut, he's had a mole surgically removed from his leg, we've been through a handful of procedures that were tough to watch (mostly around the time they were diagnosing his reflux), and we've gotten through some pretty awful puking episodes and a bout of pneumonia.  We've been through a lot in four years considering we have a seemingly normal, healthy kid.  Oh, and we're going to the cardiologist tomorrow, just to check for one more thing.  Sometimes it all seems crazy, but sometimes it's clear that we're just making sure that our little boy is well cared for. 

Well, yesterday we got to cross another one of those dreaded moments off the list.  We survived an in-car puking episode.  A bad one.  Jacob came down with a cold on Friday.  Runny nose, congestion, and maybe a very low fever by the weekend.  Saturday night when Jacob and I were out to dinner with my parents, Jacob started complaining about his belly hurting.  It lasted for a while, but then it seemed to fade away without incident.  Yesterday morning we headed out to my family reunion at the beach, just about 15 minutes down the road from Craig's parents.  Jacob and I got there early, since usually there's a church service at the camp where the reunion is held.  Unfortunately, for the first time in our memory, they couldn't find a pastor, so no church, either.  We killed time just fine, with Jacob playing on the playground equipment and just hanging out.  He'd had cereal for breakfast that morning and had a little lemonade while we waited.  He was a little lower key than usual, with a low fever, but he generally seemed fine. 

All of a sudden, he told me he wanted to take a nap.  He clung to me like glue and started whining about his belly hurting again.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect after the night before, and I just felt bad that a) he felt so crappy; b) he was so far from home; and c) everyone had to listen to him cry.  I didn't mind the snuggles, but felt so bad for him.  At some point he got up from my lap, and at that point, he puked right on the floor.  We were in a picnic shelter with a concrete floor, so while it wasn't ideal it could have been worse.  Most of what came up was liquid, so that could have been worse, too.  I cleaned him up while family cleaned up the rest of the mess. 

When we came back from the bathroom, I had him drink a little water.  That stayed down, so we moved on to the next easiest thing among the picnic choices--fruit.  He had a little fruit, which stayed down, and he seemed to be doing much better.  I was hoping that it was just an isolated incident--something didn't settle so up it came.  We had a birthday party for our nephew later in the afternoon, so I was concerned about staying for that, but when he seemed to make a speedy recovery, I was less worried.  We went down to the beach and played without incident, then packed up and headed out. 

At the party, Jacob was eager to get a costume on (he loves his cousins' selection of dress-up stuff), and he played for a bit.  Later on he got a little clingier and laid near me for a bit, but for the most part he was fine, just subdued.  We encouraged him to eat more fruit and drink water, and he did.  He seemed to get a little more uncomfortable by the time we were ready to leave, and I ended up sitting in the back with him on the way home.  He was definitely unhappy, but he eventually fell asleep.  About 20 minutes later he was whimpering in his sleep and woke up...and about a minute later, he proceeded to puke all over himself and his car seat, not to mention my hands.  It was pretty horrible.  We stopped the car on the side of the Thruway to dig towels and extra clothes out of the trunk.  I did my best to clean up the car seat and Jacob, but it was pretty futile.  Pieces of partially digested fruit were everywhere!  On the bright side, Jacob felt better after that and my lack of a sense of smell made the cleanup process and the rest of the 50 minute ride home much easier. 

Since then Jacob's been fine.  We were concerned about a wheeze he had going on yesterday so we did a breathing treatment last night, too, and Craig did go in and sleep in Jacob's room in the middle of the night when Jacob started calling for him.  However, everything seems fine so far.  Two pieces of toast, some water, half a PB&J, some applesauce and juice have stayed down without incident.  I'm home with him today, a little cautious myself because wearing puke twice yesterday seems to up the risk that I might catch it.  My stomach's been a little off--fine but gurgly at times--but I don't know if it's psychological or just a small side effect of the germs, or what.  Or maybe it's just a preview of what's to come.  God forbid, but what can you do?

Anyway, the good news is that we survived an in-car puking.  I'm not going to say we handled it well--"survived" is most accurate--but at least we got through it.  One less "unknown" to fear.  I don't want to go through it again, and odds are if we do we won't have a fully packed car to use as a resource, but hey, at least we got through it once and clean-up this time around went relatively well--stains came out, car seat was hosed off and washed well.  Minimal impact on the car, too.  But oh, what a couple of days it has been...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kiddie Birthday Parties

Oh, kid parties.  I don't quite know what to say about kid parties.  Most parents have an opinion on them.  In fact, a couple bloggers I read recently sounded off about them.  I remember parties from when I was younger.  I had a couple, which were fun, and I remember going to some.  Some were awesome, some were possibly a little disappointing if I didn't win any of the games.  I had one friend have one at the amusement park in the basement of the Skylon tower in Niagara Falls.  When I was a little older, we went to a pool party at a hotel.  Another year that same girl did laser tag.  I recall a couple of parties at houses, but I don't think parties were nearly as popular back then as they are now.  Mine were always at home and they were great, but I recall some awkwardness with having worlds collide--neighbor friends hanging out with friends from school just felt weird.  But the extra gifts were worth it, right?

Jacob's at the age now where the parties are starting to roll in.  He got invited to one a while back and we couldn't go because we had another (family) party to go to already.  That one was at a bounce house place and was one of Jacob's best friends, so I felt bad missing it.  Then we got another invite for another one of his daycare buddies...only it's on a day when we already have TWO family parties to attend!  That one was going to be at a park-like place with a splash pad.  Bummer.

Then a couple days ago, we got another one!  This time we can make it, and it's at Chuck E. Cheese.  Good news/bad news on that one.  Bad news--it's Chuck E. Cheese.  Good news--Jacob's been asking to go there, so we'll kill two birds with one stone. 

There's nothing wrong with these parties, per se.  It's more my issues.  It's the usual social anxiety stuff, I guess.  I worry about buying an appropriate gift--something the kid will like, something within a target budget.  But what should that budget be?  Parties involve being social with other parents.  That should be a good thing, because we need parent friends, but inevitably I always find it really awkward and end up feeling left out because somehow all the other parents seem to know each other better (probably because they could all make it to the other parties).  It's also a little nerve wracking being there to see your kid interact with other kids.  There's probably nothing worse than witnessing your kid treating another kid badly, particularly with that kid's parents looking on, too. 

Jacob asked a lot to have a party this year, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.  Maybe that's bad.  But here's the thing.  Even if it just would have been his best 2-4 best buddies, there would have been a lot to consider.  I don't feel like it's worth spending hundreds of dollars on a party that he may not remember, which is what we'd have to do at a place like Chuck E. Cheese or a bounce house place.  But not having it at a place with built-in entertainment is a little scary.  It involves a lot of planning, coordination, and luck.  You have to think of activities, kid-friendly food, and a way to keep the parents comfortable and amused, too.  Of course, there's always that issue of whether the parents are supposed to stick around or not, which I think will be more a question in a few years.  Anyway, we have the pool for built-in entertainment down the road, but it's a little weird with kids who may not know how to swim.  I also wasn't sure about the etiquette for inviting a few kids out of the class, rather than the whole class.  Add all those things together, and you've got a good excuse to not have a party.  Sorry Jacob.  Maybe another year.

I know I just need to get over it, get a few of these parties under my belt, and get used to it, but for now I'm still a little hesitant.  It's great that the other parents are willing to take it on, but I guess I'll just be a spectator for a little bit longer and see if planning way ahead might ease my concerns in time for Jacob's 5th birthday.  Let's hope!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekend at Home

We had a rare weekend with all three of us at home, and decided to cross a few things off our summer bucket list.  We still hadn't been mini-golfing this summer, so that was among the first things on the list.  I had a busy afternoon doing a little yardwork and an impromptu pool vacuuming, and after a little rest for me after Jacob woke up from his nap, we headed out. 

As much as Jacob enjoys mini-golf, our attempts have been a little difficult.  This time was no exception.  Jacob was constantly picking up and replacing his ball, often making his spot worse than before!  He'd run ahead to other holes and just not listen, and it all got to be very frustrating.  What's worse, is that he's really not that bad at it, and knowing he has the potential and seeing him not take advantage of it is a bit of a bummer.  He even legitimately beat both of us on one hole!  At least he didn't get a hole-in-one like one of the last times!    I took this picture, and accidentally left the camera on the vivid color setting...but I love the result!  So pretty!
Our frustrations continued a bit in the arcade--we let him play his favorite basketball game and a round of skee ball--and in particular at dinner afterward.  He just insists on being annoying--kicking off his shoes, messing around with his cup, stacking condiments, breaking crayons and throwing them on the floor--and we just don't know why he does it.  Sometimes I think food or drink (particularly sugary ones, even juice or chocolate milk) give him an extra rush of energy that he doesn't know how to handle.  It's like torture to get through most meals these days, for one reason or another.

Today we had to go to the pool store across town, so we (reluctantly) decided to grab lunch out at a cool place near there and then go to the zoo.  Coincidentally, Lori called this morning to see what we were up to today, suggesting the zoo, so she came along.  She hadn't seen the new lion exhibit, and we were eager to go back--especially since my pictures from our last trip were accidentally taken on a low-quality setting on my camera.  He was so challenging at lunch (despite the lure of a donut for dessert) that he fell asleep in the car for about 20 minutes afterward.  Ugh. 

Once we got to the zoo he woke up, and we headed through the zoo to make the lions one of our first stops.  There was a new statue at the entrance to the Step Into Africa exhibit...

The lions were pretty lazy since it was a hot day, but I did get a nice shot of the male.  He's so handsome! 

Here's Jacob giving me a wave to appease me while hanging our at the top of the double decker bus observation deck.
Too cool for Mommy apparently...
He was so cute when we were watching the baboons, banging on the glass and saying, "Come he, baboons!"  We did get a little show with a couple of them chasing each other around.  He really enjoyed the sea lions today.  We happened to get there at feeding time and he really liked watching them dive for the fish that fell in the water.  It is great to watch them swim right by the glass.  Jacob once again asked me to take his picture with the fake polar bears, but the first time he ran away before I could snap a good shot.  Then I got this one, while he was patting them on the faces...

We also got to watch the orangutans eat some sort of pasty stuff with sticks through the bars of their cage, which was interesting, too.  Jacob had a few moments at the zoo, but for the most part he was okay.  It was a relief to get home and relax a bit, but of course Jacob was ready to go and play sports.  It never ends!  One more challenging meal behind us, some Lego building, and he's down for the night.  Another weekend comes to an end.  A busy one coming up next weekend, too!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pondering a Tragedy

Tonight on the way home from a lacrosse game, one of my favorite songs came on the radio.  It's a song by a Christian singer, Plumb, called "In My Arms".  The song is about wanting to keep her kids safe from the sad, hard parts of the world.  She sings about how childhood is full of fairy tales, and how it breaks her heart that someday her kids will know the truth.  She just wants them to be safe in her arms.  When I mentioned how much I liked the song, Jacob asked what it was about.  I tried to explain it in simple terms, just saying that it's about a mommy who wants to keep her kids safe from the yuckiness in the world.  He prodded me for more specifics so I tried to give some examples--we pretty much settled on bad strangers--but I was at a loss for words because I didn't really want to lay out for him what all the bad stuff in the world was.

It was a timely discussion, of course, because of what happened in Aurora, CO, overnight.  It's such a sad, horrible story...beyond comprehension, in fact.  To think a bunch of people went to a late night movie and 12 of them ended up dead (and dozens more injured)...unthinkable.  I still don't know why these crazy people can't just take themselves out and be done with it.  Or geez, get help.  I can't imagine what this guy's story is, but it's not really about him.  It's about the victims.  One was a kid from Rochester.  Craig was just doing some digging and it turns out the first identified victim, the girl who was an aspiring sportscaster, had some ties here, too, through her boyfriend. 

I read a blog post this morning about a mom who was debating explaining to her five-year-old son what had happened.  On one hand, she hates the thought of sharing such evil with him, but on the other hand she doesn't want to downplay tragedy and make him immune to it.  I agree, it's a tough call.  We struggle with this every year when September 11th events come around.  We're compelled to watch the documentaries and memorials, but don't want to dig into the details with Jacob around.  It's a delicate balance.

I read another blog tonight discussing the fact that there were kids in that theater.  His big question was,"Why were they there?"  It was a midnight showing of a violent movie.  There was no reason for a six year old or three month old to be there.  He was attacked in the comments by people saying it wasn't the time to discuss it and that he shouldn't judge other parents' choices.  I get that the timing may not have been great, but to be fair, he's a parenting blogger and it was a valid parenting question--would you do it and why?  I agree with him--when you're a parent, you make sacrifices.  Wait a few days, go to a matinee...let your kids sleep in peace at home.  Maybe they had a valid reason, but I just think it's one of those parenting decisions that leaves you up for judgment, like taking your kid out in winter without socks or feeding an infant pure junk food.  They're not the most instinctively good decisions based on prevailing wisdom, so don't be surprised or appalled if someone inquires.  Not that we need to immediately be critical, but some parenting decisions just beg to have questions asked...and answered. 

Kids didn't get shot because their parents brought them there--it could have happened anywhere.  They got shot because one lunatic lost control.  It's quite the price to pay for an outing where the parents thought the only fallout would be cranky, overtired kids possibly having nightmares from on-screen violence.  I personally don't think it was a good decision to bring their kids there in the first place.  It just looks extra bad now that some guy broke in and shot up the theater.  But they never could have imagined what might happen so you can't blame them for that part.  But I also can't blame the blogger for asking the question--even if there might have been a better time to ask it.

It kills me that Jacob will grow up in a world where this stuff is all too common.  When Columbine happened, I was a junior in college and that was such an unfathomable event.  Since then there have been seemingly dozens of similar occurrences, both in the US and elsewhere, at any number of different locations--a military base, a camp, colleges, daycares, and now a movie theater.  I hate that he'll grow up in a world where that's the norm, where September 11th will always be a reality, and where war isn't just something to learn about in history class.  Add in the prevalence of sex, drugs, alcohol, and violence in our society, reaching kids that are far too young to process their impact, and I just wonder how any kid makes it through okay.  Lots of prayer and strong guidance, I suppose. 

Bad judgments aside, the whole thing is a terrible tragedy.  My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, and my arms will be around my little boy.  And once the news story vanishes from our screens, I'll still be thinking about the bad in the world and wondering how to help Jacob navigate through it all unscathed.  I, too, want to keep my child safe in my arms, but it's hard for him to grow if I squeeze too tight.  God help us all....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday Randoms

Not much to report these days.  We're all just sort of plugging away, I guess.  It took some adjusting getting back to regular life after our mini-vacation.  Craig was gone on a two-game roadtrip over the weekend, and Jacob and I just stuck close to home.  Even once Craig came home we didn't do much.  It felt like a failure of a weekend since we didn't have any set plans but didn't cross anything off our summer "bucket list".  Our time at home on weekends is rare, yet we didn't take advantage.  I did manage a nap of my own this weekend, which almost never happens.  Turns out I must have needed it--I came down with a nasty cold overnight into this morning.  It's pretty miserable, actually.

We're dealing with a couple Jacob issues this week.  First, as I mentioned in my last post, we've been battling him when it comes to wearing multiple layers in this 90+ degree weather.  I'm afraid he's going to give himself heat stroke or something, but he insists.  We keep his outside playtime short, of course, but it just leaves us shaking our heads.  He was also insisting upon wearing pants with belt loops (meaning, nicer pants than he should wear for playing baseball) because baseball guys wear belts.  Oy.

He's also been staying up really late.  I think tonight was the first time he went to sleep before 9:30 in days.  Lately he's been staying up for no apparent reason--trips to the potty, "meetings" with his animals, singing, you name it.  Tonight he kicked me on purpose after I told him not to, and per my warning, I took away some of his animals.  He freaked out.  However, whether he got the message or tired himself out, it didn't matter because he fell asleep on time.  Thank goodness.

We're a little concerned because he's been having some coughing fits lately at night, and he's been peeing a lot more than usual.  He also poops a LOT, but that's been going on for a while now, longer than the frequent peeing.  One of these days we'll probably have to get him into the doctor.  He's got his cardiologist appointment in two weeks, as well, so it feels like he's got enough scrutiny coming up.  We'll see.  Everything seems to go in phases but it's always tough to tell if it's something he's consciously doing or if it's actually a problem. 

On the bright side, I have managed to use my iPod as a bribe for him to get ready for bed on time.  He gets to play a few minutes of games if he's a good boy and gets ready for bed quickly enough.  Video games are probably as bad as food to use as a bribe, but I'm limiting it, so for now I'm not going to worry about it. 

Still working on the babymaking.  Hormonal fluctuations suck.  That's really all I'm going to say about that. 

Anyway, tonight's workout kicked my butt thanks to this cold, so it looks like an early night for me.  Let's hope I have something more fun to discuss soon...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Testing, Testing...

The terrible twos were hard.  Three was tough, too.  Apparently four isn't much different.  The problems have changed, but yet Jacob is still incredibly difficult to deal with. 

By the time we were driving home from our vacation, Craig and I were both left shaking our heads.  Jacob had been made us both nuts the whole trip.  Much of it can probably be chalked up to sleep deprivation.  He was off his schedule, not napping normally, and kept having those coughing fits in the middle of the night, so I know that didn't help matters.  But even well-rested we know that he can be a handful.  He's an extremely determined little boy, and when he gets something in his head, there's no stopping him.  Hence why he's running around our yard in 90-degree weather wearing long sleeves and long pants.  He's convinced that baseball guys can play in long pants, so he can too.  He literally had at least four layers on top today, and I was dying in one short-sleeved one.

When we were wandering the streets of Cooperstown, whenever there was something he wanted to buy or do, he repeated it over and over, never taking no for an answer.  Tonight he walked through Walmart, annoyed first because he wanted to ride in a cart (which he never does), then because his crankiness about the cart (in the form of hitting me) meant we couldn't go get a treat after our shopping.  He yelled and whined the entire time about the same issues, right until we got home. 

In general there's just a lot of kicking and hitting and ignoring.  He doesn't listen, and when you yell at him for that, he fights back.  Nothing seems to work.  No amount of yelling, taking away privileges, or even spankings work.  He'll insist he wants to be a good boy, but when the time comes to make the right decision, it rarely happens.  It's very frustrating, and it really does make life difficult around here.  He can't be reasoned with, either.  No matter how many times we explain to him that he'd have time to play in the morning if he just got ready more quickly, he still needs to be told twenty times to get off the potty, wash his hands, get dressed, etc.  He knows he's being naughty but thinks it's funny.  He tests us at every turn, and no matter how consistent we try to be, it doesn't seem to resonate with him because he's right back at it at his next opportunity.  It's infuriating and we're just not sure what to do about it. 

We obviously love him to pieces, but it makes it hard to do much of anything fun when the suggestion is met with resistance or we have to go through 10 "costume changes" to get around to doing it.  We'd love to show him the world, if only it wasn't so hard to convince him of that.  Hopefully someday it will all click with him and he'll figure out that his tantrums don't work.  He has moments between the tantrums that are downright sweet and pleasant, so we know it's possible, but when he shows his dark side, it's almost like it will never end.  The story of parenthood is that those good moments are the ones that get us through, but when they're few and far between, it leaves us a little low on fuel.  But as always, tomorrow is another day.  Wish us luck...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Home

I was a bit surprised at how happy I was to arrive home last night.  Normally it's a relief to come back from vacation, but considering this was a short one, I didn't expect to be quite so ecstatic upon our return.  The last couple days of the trip were mostly spent in Cooperstown, which is pretty much as all-American as it gets.  It's a quintissential small town that revolves around baseball...how much Americana can you handle?

I'm actually getting ahead of myself.  We actually had a decent but still cough-disturbed night of sleep on Monday night, but slept in until about 8am, which was nice.  Jacob and I got up and running relatively quickly so we could check out the pool at the resort.  It was indoor-outdoor and I figured he'd get a kick out of swimming between the two, so we headed down for a brief swim.  It was a cool morning and the pool wasn't particularly warm (but still swimmable), and the best part was that it was only three feet deep in most parts, so Jacob could touch the bottom!  He really liked that, and so did I--even if I had to crouch awkwardly in order to keep myself warm under the water.  We had fun but eventually had to head back to the room to get ready for a farewell breakfast with the whole family.

We ate a delicious breakfast at a typical greasy-spoon sort of place.  I have decided that I love breakfast foods maybe more than anything else.  I don't know what it is, but eggs and toast are just a classic and they're extra good in a restaurant (probably because they use real butter!).  This time I actually opted for something different, an egg wrap.  It was eggs, cheese and veggies all rolled up in a wrap.  It was delicious.  Craig opted to go healthy--oatmeal and wheat toast--and Jacob had a Mickey Mouse pancake the size of his head.  We ate up, enjoyed each other's company, took a few last minute pictures, and it was time to say goodbye.  We were headed to Cooperstown, my parents were headed to Maine, and John and Kristin had a few more days in Massachusetts before heading back home to Portland, OR. 
Three grandkids together!
We took one minor detour before heading to Cooperstown.  We weren't in any rush, so I brought up nearby attractions on the GPS, and the first one was two miles away, called Balance Rock.  That sounded interesting, so off we went.  We drove down a road into a park, and I actually didn't see it until we were on our way back out.  But how cool is this?  
To give you some perspective, the rock is probably a good 15 ft. long.  From this angle it's probably about 10 ft. wide.
After indulging my need for randomness, we headed off to Cooperstown.  Lots of back roads later, we arrived.  As I said, Cooperstown is ALL about baseball.  We figured we'd spend the afternoon shopping in the countless baseball-themed shops along Main St.  We certainly did that, but we also found a speed pitch thing.  Jacob actually threw 24 miles per hour!
Craig threw after this and threw a little more than twice as fast...I did not throw.
Doubleday Field is a couple blocks down from the Hall of Fame, and coincidentally, there was a game that day.  A collegiate level amateur league team plays there, and tickets were cheap.  We got free water bottles out of the deal, and enjoyed some baseball in a classic old stadium. 
My favorite touch?  There are public bathrooms off to the right of this picture, and the players had to use those, too.  No locker rooms, apparently!

You can see a little of the old-school structure here.  The seats behind home plate were benches with seat numbers.  It all felt very "A League of their Own", for lack of a better comparison.
And yes, it's time for another popcorn picture of Jacob...

We grabbed some dinner in a cafe, then headed back to our hotel.  Along the way we stopped for gas and happened to witness an arrest in the mini-mart parking lot.  The cop came out with the perp in one hand and a footlong sub in the other.  Hmmm.  We got to our hotel, which was nice enough, and as I mentioned in my last post, Craig and I were both in catch-up mode so we were awake for quite a while and Jacob wouldn't go to sleep either.  He fell off the bed head-first once, and refused to sleep even long after we turned out the lights.  Brutal.

We headed back to Cooperstown in the morning...
Time for the Hall of Fame!
...and the trip was an interesting experience.  Some things were exactly as I remembered them--particularly the movie theater, which I loved the first time I was there...


But a lot had changed.  In fact, most of it was unrecognizable from the last time I was there, somewhere around 2003, let alone my trip there on my 8th grade class trip in 1992.  Some of it was better, but Craig and I both agreed that the Hockey Hall of Fame does it up right--lots of interactive exhibits, prime trophy displays, and kid-friendly exhibits.  The baseball hall is a little stiffer, but we still enjoyed ourselves.  That said, there's a reason kids under 7 get in free!

I unsuccessfully tried to get a picture with Jacob...
What is with that FACE?!
 And decided that we need to make it a priority to go see these guys next summer, hopefully as part of a trip to the midwest for my cousin's wedding...
We've seen racing pierogies and pork products--it's time to see some sausages!
 Craig is a huge Hank Aaron fan, so imagine his delight when he discovered that there's an entire wing dedicated to him.  The boys gladly got in Hammerin' Hank's locker for this shot...

The main hall where the player plaques are is truly beautiful, particularly the atrium at the end. 

We looked for the faces we wanted to see, then found a spot of the hall we didn't notice prior.  It had a kid's area, which Jacob loved.  Here he is in action...
Batting...
 And he finally listened for once, sitting in the baseball mitt chair...

Craig liked this photo op--partly because the guy had a Buffalo jersey, but also because he tried to do a classic baseball card pose. Oy.

We did some shopping and headed out.  We stopped in Syracuse for dinner with my college roommate (yay!  I seriously don't see her enough), and then headed home.  It was a fun but very trying trip.  More on that soon.  Once again, my priority right now is SLEEP.  Definitely still recovering!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Family Vacation

This past weekend we headed to Massachusetts to spend a couple days with my entire immediate family.  My brother's whole family flew in from Portland to my sister-in-law Kristin's hometown in the Berkshires for her high school reunion.  My parents came out as well, and because we were all embarking on our own vacations beyond the weekend, we all drove separately.  In addition, we started out in Buffalo on Sunday morning because we had a family wedding on Saturday and Craig was working in Canada.  My parents were up and out by 7am.  We took a little longer to get out, and then had a pit stop at home in Rochester to edit some of our packing choices and take care of mail (which I didn't stop soon enough) and newspaper issues.  We arrived in Massachusetts later in the afternoon, and pretty much got right to it in Kristin's sister's pool. 
The kids were doing a "train" with Grandpa (Jacob, Kate, and Kristin's friend's daughter)

Jacob and Kate with Uncle John

Little bathing beauty Kate
 Outside the pool was a handsome little man I was excited to see--Max!  You can see what he looked like seven months ago here.  I can't believe how big he is, but of course, lifting him up was a major switch from lifting Jacob!  Even Kate is way lighter than Jacob, which was a welcome change of pace because he's getting hard for me to lift at nearly 40 pounds!
Cutie pie!
We pretty much just spent Sunday chilling around the pool, playing in the yard, meeting some of Kristin's friends, and getting reacquainted with her sister's family.  We had a great time, but boy, was I tired by the time we got to our hotel at Jiminy Peak, where we were sharing a suite with my parents.  The place was very nice and it was helpful to have a separate bedroom to put Jacob to bed in, with a living room to spend the evening in without disturbing him (unlike tonight, where he's up horribly late after a late nap, in a shared hotel room, with parents catching up online after a day away from internet access).  Still, we had a terrible night of sleep.  Jacob has been having horrible coughing fits the past few nights (cold? allergies?) that kept us awake for hours, and he woke up terribly early anyway.  So, needless to say, we were extra tired on Monday.

We spent Monday morning doing the activities at Jiminy Peak.  There was a bounce house and playground for the kids, for starters.  Here are Craig and Jacob with the cute Cookie Monster carving near the bounce house...

Then we ventured to the more exciting activities.  First up was the alpine slide, which I had done before and figured Jacob would love.  It's like a big sled on wheels going down a dry version of a water slide.  You control your speed.  Here we are almost to the bottom...
You probably can't see it, but there are big smiles on both of our faces!
And then we headed to the mountain coaster--basically a mini, single-car roller coaster that goes down the mountain and has hand brakes.  I had never done this but had seen videos of European ones and was dying to do it.  Imagine my joy when I found out Jiminy Peak had one!
Getting ready to go!
And here's Craig at the bottom...
I had to convince him to go on both rides, but he enjoyed both.  Our biggest concern was actually whether Jacob would actually listen and sit still on the chair lift ride up to the alpine slide.  He did, and despite a tantrum prior to getting on, Jacob loved that, too.
After a few more activities and some lunch, we headed back for naps.  Jacob got in over two hours, and so did I.  Of course, he woke up asking why he was wet, having peed his pants while wearing full soccer gear that he put on (that he shouldn't have) when he was supposed to be trying to nap.  That involved some clean-up and a tantrum on his end, and was a less-than-happy ending to a blissful couple hours.

That night we headed over to the rental house where John's family was staying with Kristin's friend's family from California.  He sister's family came to join us as well.  We all needed to get our fix of our niece/nephew/cousins from the west coast!  They did a lovely BBQ feast, and we spent some time in the wooded quiet of the deck and hanging out in the living room-kitchen area.  At one point I caught Jacob and Kate sharing the iPad...
Cute cousins :)
And we finally got in a real family picture, but with three kids it was tough to get a winner.  I think this was the best I got!

It was a fun evening, but once again we arrived back at the hotel exhausted!  Luckily, we all slept better!  Good thing, too, since we had another busy day ahead of us!  More on that soon...but for now, SLEEP!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Someday we'll go see fireworks...

The last time I saw real 4th of July fireworks was five years ago.  We watched them from my office on the 16th floor overlooking downtown, and it was amazing.  Comfortable seat, no crowd, perfect view, and weatherproof.  Good thing that viewing was so awesome, because it's had to make do for the last five years.  For some reason, we never seem to be able to make the effort to go see them.  And I like fireworks, particularly on the 4th of July.  Sure, I used to hide in my parents car, tucked in a ball on the floor of the back seat, totally petrified of the booms, but aside from those loud, colorless boomers, I really do enjoy fireworks now. 

The apple apparently doesn't fall far from the tree, as Jacob is not a fan.  He's seen fireworks here and there, mostly at baseball games.  They never used to phase him, but over the last year or two he's developed some sort of random fear.  He's told us numerous times that we can't go to baseball games with fireworks.  However, as we learned from the pool debacle, sometimes all it takes is experiencing something anew and seeing that it's ok, in order to put the fear behind us.  So, while the fear wasn't the main driver of another non-fireworks 4th, it probably did contribute to our lack of motivation to go.

Instead we opted for a low-key day and a soccer game.  We had a very lazy morning and an easy lunch, then Jacob was off for his nap.  While he napped I replaced the fill valve on one of our toilets and fenced in my garden, effectively closing the salad bar to the small mammals of the neighborhood (I hope).  Craig took a dip in the pool until I requested his assistance with the garden task, and by the time that was done, Jacob woke up.  I was ready for a dip in the pool--it was 90 and felt even hotter--so Jacob came in with me.  After a quick swim, it was time to go in the house and get ready for dinner and the soccer game. 

We headed out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Carmine's, and then went to the game.  Well, Craig had the time of the game wrong, and it turned out it didn't start until an hour later, which meant we had a very long wait with not a lot to do.  Still, despite the fact that it was HOT, the weather was nice and there were plenty of soccer warm-ups for Jacob to watch.  We killed time and finally sat down to enjoy the game. 

Jacob was looking a little sleepy by the end of the first half, so we decided to call it a day.  The good news is that we'd get him home close to bedtime, but the bad news is that we had no shot of hitting any of the city fireworks displays--the main one, or the one at the baseball game down the road.  On the way out we did manage to get this picture...
What you don't see is that 10 seconds earlier Rex nearly ran over Jacob because Jacob ran right up to his legs and he couldn't see him.  Rex knows us and apologized later, but we know how it goes--mascot vision is limited--and we reminded Jacob to be a little more careful running up to mascots because they can't see very well.  Cute picture, though!
Jacob started to get tired on the way home and just nodded off, but then woke up when we arrived and didn't fall asleep until after 10:30.  Ugh.  We've been having trouble getting him up and out in the mornings, partly because we've been a little lax with bedtime (evening swims, mostly!) and partly because his new-found freedom with the safety knob off his door has led to a nightly walk to the bathroom about 5-10 minutes after we say goodnight.  Hopefully our upcoming time away will get him out of the habit.  Of course, hotel sleeping with Jacob is one of my least favorite things ever, so I doubt the sleep situation is going to improve over the next few days. 

On the bright side, we will have some fun family time in the next few days, so that will be awesome. The time away from work couldn't come at a better time, either.  More to report soon... 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Busy Week!

It's been a busy week.  Just now I'm loading pictures on to my computer from my camera from the last week.  Here are some highlights...
Jacob showing off one of his birthday gifts from Uncle John, Aunt Kristin, Kate and Max...a Bills jersey!
 Last Wednesday we went to a baseball game, our first of the season as a family.  It wasn't even a Red Wings game, as Rochester is hosting a bunch of games for the Empire State (formerly Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) Yankees, whose stadium is being renovated this summer.  They were playing against the Gwinnett Braves, so Craig wanted to go.  It was a pretty low key game, but the weather was lovely and we had a nice time.
Jacob with Spikes and Mittsy

The first non-blurry picture Jacob has ever taken of me.  I guess he needs that outside lighting!

Attempt at a family portrait...almost!

Cute picture of my boys!

And Jacob being a goof as usual...
 Over the weekend Jacob got a couple belated birthday gifts when we saw Craig's family for his parents' 40th anniversary party.  Sadly, I don't really have many pictures from that event as I have concluded that his family isn't big on the photo ops!  Anyway, one of his birthday gifts was a full Captain America outfit.  He had a shield and mask/helmet, but this really completed the look.  He couldn't wait to get into it when he got it, and he's wanted it on a lot ever since.  The new skullcap mask really completes the look, and he couldn't wait to get home and get his shield!

This is an odd week with the 4th of July midweek, but the good news is that we only have to manage a couple days of work/daycare in a row.  Then we have a busy weekend ahead and three days off next week to spend some time with my brother's family.  Can't wait to see the kids together!  But first, hopefully some fun time together tomorrow!  And hopefully more fun blog posts to come!