Monday, January 7, 2013

Our Special Place

I know that our uninterrupted time with Jacob is winding down.  My due date is two months from today (!) and from the moment this baby enters our lives, our relationship with Jacob will change.  He will no longer be the only major priority in our family life.  I hope that we can still find ways to make him feel special even though the baby is going to take up a lot of time and energy.  As I mentioned previously, he's not the most patient child and I don't know how he's going to respond when he needs to wait in line behind any number of other more pressing issues.  So, in the midst of bracing ourselves for that, we need to focus on maximizing our time with him now.

Last time around I was a little bitter I went as early as I did because I was well aware that Craig's and my time alone was limited and I wanted to savor every last minute.  We could have crammed a lot of quality time into those ten days, but instead we entered some of the most stressful days of our life together.  We made it through OK, but I've always been a little sad that those additional days weren't what I had been hoping for, and that opportunity was lost forever.  Now we're in our last couple months as a family of three, and we're facing the same issue of maximizing our time together.  Of course, this time around it's complicated further because Craig is officially in-season.  He was doing some work for an outdoor lacrosse team when Jacob was born (and in fact, he could have been on a roadtrip the day Jacob was born), but his schedule was a little different than it is now.  He just got back at 1am this morning from his first roadtrip of the year, a whirlwind weekend to Everett, WA, a little bit outside Seattle.  He's off next weekend and then has a series of games at home, but he usually goes to practice in Canada once a week and his schedule is just generally busier than it was that summer.  So, it's not like we have unlimited weekends to work with, or gorgeous weather to frolic in.  We can't travel far at this point, either, so fun weekend trips to anywhere but Buffalo are probably not an option.  Suffice it to say we'll have to be a little creative to make him feel special in these last weeks.

While Craig was gone this weekend I struggled to find a fun activity for us to do.  The weather wasn't great--windy, cold, even rainy--and my endurance isn't what it once was.  Playing in the snow wouldn't work, since I'm afraid of slipping on ice and I can't even pull him on a sled.  Going to the zoo was tempting, but the weather just wasn't good enough.  I live in fear of bounce house places right now because they are germ magnets and the more we can do to prevent illnesses (we're all trying to kick coughs and colds to the curb right now), the better.  I just couldn't think of anything fun.  We did put together the puzzle he fell asleep attempting on Saturday, which was fun.  But the highlight of the weekend?  A trip to Taco Bell.

Taco Bell and I go way back.  It was one of my favorite restaurants when I was little, and then, sadly, all of the Taco Bells moved out of Western New York.  I remember other restaurants taking over the familiar buildings around town, including a hot dog/burger joint at the one in my hometown.  When I was about 11, the nearby Walden Galleria Mall opened up, and in its food court was Taco Bell's first reappearance in the area.  I was so excited, and my excitement grew when the existing original Taco Bell building in my hometown was demolished and a brand new Taco Bell went up in its place!  Little did I know that a handful of years later I'd be working there.  My first job was at that Taco Bell, starting at the end of my senior year of high school, through the following summer, and again for a month when I was back from college at Christmas.  It wasn't exactly a fantastic job, and while I ate plenty of food when I worked there, I did keep my distance for a while afterward. 

Still, nowadays it's one of my go-to fast food places when I'm alone (Craig will eat there, but it isn't his favorite), and a couple years ago I started bringing Jacob with me, figuring that a beef and cheese taco was a pretty simple option for him.  For a while his cooperation while dining there was hit-or-miss.  Sometimes he'd seem to enjoy it, and sometimes he'd refuse.  But in the last year or so, he's been more into it, and now he specifically asks to go there.  I credit the caramel apple empanada at least partially for his enthusiasm, but still, it's nice to have him so eager to go somewhere to eat because it's one less battle to fight. 

So, on Friday I mentioned to him that we could go out to dinner on Saturday, and asked where he might like to go.  He suggested Taco Bell, which was one of my top choices as well given that it's in the parking lot of the Walmart we needed to go to over the weekend.  He was excited about it earlier on Saturday, and it was so cute to see his enthusiasm when we finally got to go.  He ate his taco like a champ, snacked on some nachos, and eagerly awaited our special treat, the caramel apple empanada that we always share.  It's basically just like an apple pie pocket, but it's so good.  We always split one.  While we were there he was so sweet, so affectionate, and so well-behaved.  It was heavenly.  And I think Taco Bell has officially become "our place".  Who'd have thunk it? 

I love that time with him.  I suppose it's similar to how that day at Strong Museum went a month ago.  He was truly a very good boy that day and really appreciated the experience.  It just goes to show that when you only get to do something once in a while, it really does take on a special significance.  If we went to the museum every week or ate at Taco Bell all the time, those activities, like everything else, would lose their novelty and fall prey to the same crappy behavior we deal with most of the time.  The temptation is to try to do those things more often to enjoy those good times, but unfortunately it doesn't always work like that.  When those things become a special treat, you can see him really trying to be appreciative and show how much he's enjoying it.  I wish I could bottle that and keep it for a rainy day, but alas, it's a rare and special thing and you never know when it's going to work out like that.  But the other night, at a place as simple as Taco Bell, we had our moment.  And until this baby comes, I'll take as many of those as I can get.   

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