Sunday, June 30, 2013

Well, that's going to complicate things...

I don't think there's enough gauze, do you?

So...yeah.  How do you like my souvenir from Immediate Care?  Earlier today I went outside to trim our evergreens that desperately needed trimming.  I hate using our electric trimmer, but the bushes are huge and there are a lot of them, so every year about twice a year, I suck it up, pull out the 100 ft. extension cord and go to town.  Well, today my finger got a little too close to the blade when I was trying to clear something out of the way, and...yeah.  It didn't hurt right away but it bled profusely pretty quickly.  I stuck it in my mouth, ran in the house and ran it under cold water for a good five minutes.  It took a while to get the bleeding to slow down, and by the time it did I was starting to get a little lightheaded.  I decided I probably needed to go to immediate care, if only to clean it out and minimize the scar. 

So, off we went--all of us, since I was so dizzy--and a while later I left with three stitches and a giant bandage.  The cut is probably about half an inch long.  It looks deep but it's pretty superficial.  It's above the knuckle so it's not directly in the flex zone, but it's still pretty awkward.  Mostly I just feel dumb.  I know better but it was a momentary mental lapse, I guess.  We still have two sets of bushes that need some serious trimming, but either Craig's going to have to work on them or I will have to use the manual shears to make them not look horrific...but I'll give it a couple days to heal. 

It's going to be an interesting week.  I can't get it wet, so I'm going to have some issues.  I have to cover it when I shower, I can't wash it, and I can't swim.  I can't wash dishes or bottles, and scrubbing the boys' clothes is going to be a problem, too.  I have a party to plan and a cake to bake and decorate.  The house needs cleaning.  I have four days of work this week, two of which will be spent with this ridiculous bandage, making typing difficult and mousing almost impossible.  Craig is going to have to pick up a lot of the slack.  Yes, he had two casts on his hand within a year when we were newlyweds, but we didn't have two kids back then.  Yes, I had a lot to do when he tore his calf, but let's face it--I do a lot of stuff every day that I can't really do right now, and someone's going to have to do it, especially because we have to have the house ready for people on Saturday.  Otherwise I'd just let things slide.  Hmmmm.

It's hard to think that I'm going to be handicapped for the week.  It's hard to strap the boys into their car seats.  Changing a diaper isn't bad, but it's still not easy wrestling Carter out of his clothes.  Baths are definitely out.  Trying to keep the dressing dry and clean is a challenge when you're dealing with poop, food, and whatever else.  On the bright side, tickling Carter's cheek with it got quite a giggle!

In the grand scheme of things it's a minor annoyance, and I know I'm lucky it wasn't worse.  The timing isn't great--is it ever?--but it should heal well and hopefully it'll be back to normal in no time.  But it's going to be a tough week.  As if I didn't hate doing the shrubs enough before...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ten

Yesterday was our tenth wedding anniversary.  We had a pretty low-key celebration.  Lori came over to watch the boys, and we went out to dinner and a movie.  We hardly ever get to go out alone, so despite the un-special-sounding activities, it was pretty special for us.  I think the last time we were out alone, aside from the trip out west for the Knighthawks championship, was when we got our taxes done.  And before that...who knows?  Even our dinner destination (Texas Roadhouse) was unimpressive, but we'd never been there before and the rolls were well worth it!  We're not really foodies (particularly since I don't have a sense of taste, and Craig doesn't like fancy foods), so it doesn't make a lot of sense to go somewhere expensive.  We also went on the cheap for our movie, but that was only because the movie we most wanted to see was only out at the cheap theater.  We saw "42", the Jackie Robinson story, and it was awesome.  Well, aside from the painfully uncomfortable string of racial slurs, anyway.  Fantastic story, plenty of laughs, and some enjoyable acting.  It was a nice night out, though, and it was fun to reconnect like that.  We didn't really exchange gifts, though he did get me flowers and I ended up buying him a new door knob for our bedroom door, one with a lock, after a rather frustrating morning this morning with a little boy who would not stay out!  And in case you're wondering, this is a proactive move to prevent awkward moments down the road, not something in response to any actual traumatic moments...thank goodness!

Being married for ten years is definitely something to celebrate in this day and age.  It's a little mind-blowing, actually.  Ten years ago, ten years seemed huge.  And while it is, we've just sort of done our thing along the way.  While we've had periods of time where I'm sure we weren't the happiest with each other, we've never had a hardcore fight that would ever make us question the future of our marriage. 

While we haven't had to work hard at our marriage, I do realize now more than ever that marriages do take work.  It doesn't have to be drudgery, but you need to put forth an effort.  You have to pay attention to making sure your spouse's needs are met, while also ensuring that yours are met enough to not grow resentful.  You have to be aware of how your spouse changes over the years and make sure that you can meet the needs they have now, not just the needs they had the day you said, "I do."  I'm sure that coping with those changes is one of the reasons that couples get divorced.  And I'm sure that the burden of meeting someone else's needs in addition to your own can be overwhelming for some people.  Making sure that you maintain the fun is huge, as well.  I think that may be where we've struggled, if anything, particularly with the addition of two kids on top of full time jobs that already took up plenty of our time.  We're definitely stuck in our roles of Mom and Dad in the morning and evening, and by the time the kids are in bed and we can go back to Husband and Wife, we're both so tired that interacting in any meaningful way isn't easy.  I worry when I realize days have gone by and I've forgotten to chat with Craig about something, but I know why it happens.  We both have a lot on our minds, and at the end of the day we just want to shut down and lose ourselves in our technology of choice.  It's a slippery slope that I think a lot of people get into, but I think we've done pretty well in trying to recognize when it's happening and refocus on each other for a bit.  And sometimes it does take a tense discussion to break through the haze on either side and make our needs more obvious, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that either...as long as once it happens the communication is clear and the response is appropriate.

I often think of my wedding ring as a metaphor for all of this.  My ring is beautiful.  It was exactly what I wanted and I've always loved it.  There have been times along the way that I've questioned my choice of gold over a white gold/platinum setting, since I wear mostly silver and it often looks richer, but the gold makes it stand out from my normal jewelry and I know that something like platinum wasn't really a financial option at the time.  I love the look of the wedding ring wrap I picked out (after looking at SO many), but I get mad at myself when I notice that it has gotten dirty.  It's such a beautiful ring and I hate when I don't take care of it like I should.  But once I clean it and it's sparkling, it's so gorgeous and I fall in love with it all over again. 

Similarly, I was confident on my wedding day that I had made the right decision.  I was head over heels in love and was marrying a sweet, funny, loving man who I could see myself growing old with.  Along the way there have been moments when I wish I could tweak things, or that Craig possessed certain characteristics that I didn't realize I'd value (like, say, the handyman gene).  But I know that there were a million other reasons why I chose him, so little things here and there shouldn't bother me.  There are times when I neglect us, or forget to pay attention to Craig's needs or our needs as a couple (hello, life with a newborn), but once I realize it and make the effort, it feels great to reconnect and remember why we had such a great connection in the first place. 

We've both changed over the years, and parenthood has been quite a ride.  I think it's made things a little tougher because we often neglect each other while trying to focus on the kids, but I think it's also added a different dimension to our marriage.  It's great to see that other side of someone and watch them embrace a tough role like that.  It doesn't mean that it's easy to balance tasks and find your respective strengths, but it's all a learning process...so as long as you're willing to learn, you should be safe. 

We still have a long way to go to equal our parents, but these first ten years are a big step in the right direction.  We've had a blast so far and I hope that with two growing kids, things will only get to be more fun.  I'm proud of us and proud of the two little boys we've created.  Our night out last night may have been a far cry from the elegance and well-planned nature of our day ten years ago,  but I think both events were well-suited to the people we were at each moment.  We've grown and changed over the years, but our love has remained strong.  Thank God for that.  I know it's a day late, but Happy Anniversary, Craig!  Time to start the journey of our next ten years...I'm definitely looking forward to the ride.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

T-Ball...and the Practice We Almost Didn't Make

Tonight was Jacob's first-ever t-ball practice.  He had been looking forward to it for weeks, and this week he was counting down the days.  Craig went to pick him up early from daycare so they could make it to the 6pm practice, and as he walked in the door, he could hear Jacob screaming bloody murder.  Now, Jacob will scream bloody murder about a lot of things--getting his face washed, clipping his toenails, etc.--but this time he actually had good reason. 

It turned out that as the kids were coming in from playing outside, he ran a little ahead of the teacher, turned around just inside the door, and started pounding on the door...only, he was pounding on the glass in the door, rather than the door.  I still have no idea what he was doing it for.  His teacher called to him to stop, but he looked at her and did it again (yup, sounds about right).  Well, as he did it again, his hand broke through the pane of glass.  Fortunately, all he ended up with was a small cut on his wrist, maybe a quarter inch long.  It's a miracle it wasn't worse.  Another inch or one false move and he could have been very seriously hurt. 

Craig called me at work before daycare had a chance, and of course, I freaked out a bit.  He assured me everything was fine, and they were still going to practice, though they'd just have to take it easy and keep on eye on the cut.  When I got to daycare to pick up Carter, I chatted with his teacher.  I feel bad for her because I know this wasn't her fault.  Jacob doesn't listen, and he does tend to do odd things like that sometimes.  I've had to tell him to stop pounding on our storm door numerous times.  Heck, when he was two he pushed on Craig's parents' sliding screen door and the whole thing popped out of the frame sending him falling onto a couple steps below.  She was terribly upset, even an hour later when I got there.  Part of it was still just the panic, part of it is the knowledge that CPS will hear about it (and they just had another claim against them in Jacob's class, which was ruled unfounded).  I don't think there's anything she could have done to prevent it, though I do wish they would get rid of these doors, since I've pondered myself how risky the little panes of glass on them are.  I've caught the door in that area a couple times and now I know I need to avoid it at all costs.  But I certainly don't blame them for Jacob's inability to listen.  I'm sure it happened very quickly, and quite frankly, I'm just beyond relieved that it wasn't worse. 

Anyway, practice went pretty well.  They were impressed with Jacob's batting ability, though he definitely can stand some work on his fielding and listening to instructions.  They taught them some principles of baserunning (run past first, stop at second and third) and practiced a little of everything.  The other kids on his team were really cute--and the one mom and I had a nice chat.  Like I said, his hitting impressed everyone, so I guess that's good.  It'll be coach pitch by halfway through the season, which is also good for him.  It was a good time and the crappy weather held off, thank goodness.  But for the rest of the summer it'll be twice a week in the evenings (but thankfully no weekends, since those are busy enough and Craig is usually away).  Craig is doing some assistant coaching duties, too.  It'll definitely be an interesting experience, though. 

Here are a couple pictures from the night...
Big swing!  This was a good hit!

Mark it down...day one! 
It has been a long day and it's time for bed.  Tomorrow is an important day, too.  It's Craig's and my 10th wedding anniversary.  We still haven't decided what we're doing, but it involves getting out of the house and leaving the kids behind.  That seems sort of important since we probably could use a chance to reconnect as husband and wife instead of mommy and daddy.  Hard to believe it's been 10 whole years...hopefully some musings on that soon...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When You Know You Messed Up


The big downside of this past weekend was--surprise, surprise--Jacob's behavior.  Just when we think it can't get any worse, it does.  And just when we think there's no hope, he turns back into a normal loving kid.  I am so confused, so frustrated, and so sad about our current state, and I'm truly to the point of feeling like we need to start searching for a good family counselor.  We need an outside party to either help with our communication issues, or give us some advice for how to handle a child like Jacob.

Over the past few days, Jacob and I have had some epic battles.  And no matter how I try to not let things escalate, it ends up happening anyway.  There are many problems that we're dealing with.  The overarching one is that Jacob just can't get it through his head that I am his parent and what I say goes.  I'm not talking just about big things that I ask of him, or just petty little things.  I'm talking about everything from picking up his toys to getting ready for bed to cutting out the potty talk.  Regardless of the request, he immediately thinks I'm being "mean" for interrupting his current activity or vetoing something he wants to do (even if it's completely ridiculous).  I could give him all the warning in the world for transitioning activities, like the experts recommend, and he'd still be indignant the second I finally say, "It's time to do this instead."  We have pretty much the same morning and evening routines every day, and yet every single time we meet with resistance.  You'd think he'd learn by now that resistance is futile, but no...he is a challenge every single day.

And when it happens, he'll act out.  He will yell, name-call, have a tantrum--anything BUT obey.  He gets upset when I yell at him, despite the fact that I tell him all the time that I wouldn't have to yell if he just listened.  Stern voices, gentle talking, taking things away, a couple spankings for particularly heinous offenses...I feel like we've tried everything.  He simply does not accept that he has to listen, no matter what we do.  In addition, he can turn on a dime for no reason, and in the end we end up yelling at each other because he won't listen to reason and I'm not going to let him get away with name-calling.  It's absolutely awful.  I truly think we need help.  I want to get him to listen to someone else who can tell him that he needs to listen to his parents.  I also want tips for dealing with his outbursts and outright defiance. 

I'll admit that there are times I probably don't handle it well.  I try to keep my cool, but what are your options when your kid doesn't respond to anything?  Dole out a punishment, sure.  But we've taken away a lot and nothing has worked.  Try a sterner voice?  Ha...nice try.  Yell?  It might get his attention but either doesn't work or fires him up more.  Spanking?  I try to reserve that for only the worst offenses--when he says something truly nasty, for example--more as an attention-getter than anything, but that only makes him want to act out physically, which doesn't help anything.  But no matter how I try to remain calm and rational, I feel like I simply run out of ammo to get him to obey.  And it all goes downhill from there.

And for those wondering, he can be like this with Craig but it doesn't happen as often.  Part of that is probably because I'm more often the taskmaster and know when things need to happen.  Part of it is that I'm less likely to let him get away with things, and part of it is simply that he must find me the easier outlet for his frustrations.  I don't know if he doesn't want to make Craig mad for fear he'll take away time playing sports, or what...but for whatever reason, it's mostly me.  But it does happen with Craig sometimes.

As a prime example...lately he's been having issues with pooping.  I had talked to the doctor last week about his giant, toilet-clogging poops, which she said is the result of not fully emptying.  Everything builds up over time and stretches out the intestines, which makes the poop bigger and causes some vague internal discomfort, which I'm pretty sure matches what we've seen with him--not outright pain, just something that's bothering his butt.  We've been using 4 oz. of pear juice each day to try to soften things up so he can go easier and his intestines can shrink back to normal size.  But in the past few days, he's been having accidents.  He doesn't fully poop his pants, but he often ends up with a little nugget in his butt crack.  It used to happen once in a while, but recently it's been a recurring problem.  We have no idea why it's happening.  He can't seem to give us a straight answer.  It could be that he's afraid of the pain so he's holding it in, but eventually a bit sneaks out.  It could be that he just can't recognize when he has to go until it's a little too late.  He just can't seem to tell us.  And inevitably, when we're either trying to talk to him about it or trying to wipe out his butt after an episode like this, he gets angry.  He complains that it hurts, and we explain that it's important to get it clean because his butt will hurt worse if we don't.  When we continue, he gets angrier.  He'll name-call, try to take a swipe, and practically fling himself around the bathroom (which, of course, is dangerous given the room's small size and plethora of hard surfaces).  I know he's probably frustrated with what's going on, but it doesn't stop the fact that we have to get him clean and need to figure this out...and yet he freaks out.  We just want to help him, particularly with Kindergarten looming, but we get nothing but resistance no matter how calmly and sweetly we approach the subject. 

But it could be anything...bedtime, getting dressed, picking up toys, staying in bed, eating his dinner, running an errand, debating a fact...and before we know it he's yelling and getting all worked up about it.  I don't know exactly how we got to this point, but it definitely feels like we screwed something up along the way.  I don't know if he learned this sort of rage thing from kids at daycare, or if he's translated what he sees when we get angry with him into his immediate go-to response for any little inconvenience.  Either way, somehow we apparently didn't communicate things appropriately because he can be truly out of control at times.  And yet, this morning when I left him at daycare he had to hug and kiss me about 20 times.  After moments like that I'm even more confused.

Ideally I'd like to find a counselor that has a Christian slant, since the other day when I told Jacob that God says that it's important to obey your parents, he told me that he didn't care.  I wasn't too happy to hear that, and apparently Sunday School and what we talk about at home aren't enough.  I think adding the moral element into it is important because it gives us a little more basis for what we're trying to teach him. 

What makes me saddest is how we can barely interact nowadays without getting into some sort of argument or having him act out in some way.  Having Carter around has been a reminder of how awesome and blissful Jacob's infant days were.  And seeing the contrast to now has been sobering.  It makes me sad how far we've fallen, and makes me worry that the same thing will happen with Carter, either because we're going to make the same mistakes, or because he's going to learn from his brother's example.  Jacob probably never had to hear yelling for at least the first year of his life, but Carter has had to hear it far too often already.  He seems none the worse for wear at the moment (though a couple times the noise has made him cry, which kills me), but I have no idea how it will impact him in the long run.  Will he be so used to it that it doesn't even phase him when it's finally directed at him?  And again, I don't want to yell.  I do everything I can not to, but when your child doesn't respond to gentle talking or a stern but even-volume command, you get desperate. 

I wish we could force him to go to sleep earlier--no matter when we put him to bed, he does not fall asleep until nearly 10pm these days--because I wonder if more sleep would help.  I wish I could get him to talk to me about things--the poop, his feelings--but so far that's not working, no matter how hard I try to remove distractions and look in his eyes.  I'm not sure what else to try, but I know it has something to do with me since he can behave like a civilized kid at daycare.  I'm not sure what the next step is going to be, but the last few days have definitely moved me one step closer to taking action.  I never thought it would come to this, but I suppose it's better to do it now than deal with the older-kid version of all of this down the road...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Post-Birthday Weekend

Jacob's actual birthday ended up being pretty low-key.  He got to open some presents in the morning, a few more after daycare, and a few more after his birthday dinner out.  His party isn't for a couple more weeks due to scheduling issues, so I don't have any fantastic cake (or cake failure) to share yet, or pictures of bigger gifts he's getting or anything like that.  Instead, his tower of gifts from us... 

In the morning we let him open his new baseball bag (first practice is Thursday!) and a couple Lego minifigures (from the surprise packs--though we're pretty good at feeling them out to find the ones we want).  He was very excited about the bag and happy to see his minifigures--a baseball guy and a Native American with a mohawk!

After daycare he got to open the rest of his gifts from us--a shirt and new sports shorts (bright orange!), some Pirates of the Caribbean Legos, and this cool baseball plaque for his wall:

We saw this plaque a while back, and I thought it was cool.  It has a logo for every MLB team on the map, plus a little picture of something from the city, be it the skyline, a landmark, or whatever.  Jacob liked it, too, and I figured it would be a good geography lesson, too.  We had seen it a bunch of times but $20 seemed like a little more than I wanted to spend on something for his wall...but then we saw it on clearance for $10 and I slipped it into the cart without him noticing.  Sweet!

As usual we went out to Red Robin for dinner, and he loved his giant ice cream and being sung to by the waitresses.  By the time we got home it was getting late, but we let him open the box of gifts that he got from Uncle John, Aunt Kristin, Kate, and Max earlier in the day.  He loved his Color Wonder coloring books, giant puzzle, and superhero-themed Chutes and Ladders.  The game was especially timely since he's been playing that game at daycare lately...though based on how he was when we played last night, I don't think they particularly follow the rules!

I couldn't resist taking a picture of Carter the other day when he was sleeping like this:
Arms up!
We've transitioned out of his SwaddleMe and into a sleep sack.  When Jacob was this age he had nice cozy fleece sleep sacks with sleeves, but since it's summer I decided this was the better route, especially since Carter still seems to like to be swaddled to some degree.  This sleep sack has a swaddling option, but I can also leave his arms out.  Usually now I'll just swaddle him loosely and let him work his arms out.  He can roll over now (oh yeah, forgot to mention that he went from his back to his belly on Thursday!  He did it at daycare--doh!--but did it again for me at home, thankfully!), but still hasn't done it in bed so if that seems like it's going to start happening more, I'll stop swaddling him and just leave the arms out.  So far he seems to love the sleep sack, and this position just gets me every time! :)

Saturday I was determined to get to the zoo.  Our membership ended in late May, just as the zoo was having baby animals pop out left and right.  There have been baby lions (though they're only out for an hour a day right now), a baby orangutan, and a baby sea lion!    I couldn't wait to go check them out, but without our membership I wanted to pick a day when we'd get the full value out of the admission price.  However, a few weeks back there was a Groupon for a $25 annual membership to the Niagara Falls aquarium, and one of its reciprocals was our zoo.  Sweet!  So now we can go cheaply again :)

The weather was hot but there was a chance of thunderstorms later in the day, so I wanted to aim for late morning.  However, that pretty much ruled out seeing the lion cubs, who are only out from 3:30-4:30.  Bummer.  But Lori joined us, which was fun, and we headed out.  The sea lion baby was adorable.  So adorable.  We happened to get there as the baby was nursing (awwww)...
Good mama!

Ridiculously cute!  I love the little wrinkles in the skin, almost like human babies who don't have the chub to fill their skin out yet!
While the baby was nursing, the other adult in the exhibit kept climbing up on the same rocks.  The mom would vocalize to scare that one away, and then jump in the water, leaving the baby all alone :(

The baby had this crazy scream it did when it was trying to figure out where its mama went, and it flopped around a bit while it waited for her, but eventually she came back!

I have a video of it, but I haven't posted it to YouTube yet so it'll have to wait to be linked up here...if I can remember how to do that again.

Here's Lori and Jacob as she was trying to help him see the penguins...
Almost a smile on his face...
We cooled off in one of the buildings that had activities for kids, and just like he did the day we went to Strong Museum, he liked playing with the stuffed animals and all of the medical equipment.  He was actually disappointed that the tools were stuck in plexiglass covered drawers and couldn't actually be used.

We saw other cool things, like an elephant breaking a tree branch with its trunk and baboons chasing down peanuts, but the best of the rest was a couple glimpses of the orangutan baby.  Unfortunately, the mama was sleeping in the way back of the exhibit while holding the baby, so all you could see were tiny little feet.  Eventually she moved, and I got to see her walking around a bit with the baby hanging on to her (which the baby will do for nine months!).  The baby was so tiny in comparison!  After she settled back in, I was able to get this shot from outside as she looked through the doorway...
Darn fence...but see that tiny little baby head on the right?  So freaking cute.
Seeing those mama animals with their babies was pretty cool considering how I've been spending my time the last four months.  We had a good time, but it was a hot day and both kids passed out pretty much the second we got in the car. 

That night I dragged both kids out to the mall with me, mostly because I've been dying to go shopping and try to find some clothes that fit me better.  I'm on the hunt for casual dresses, work-appropriate anything, and a nice dress.  I have abused my other dresses and I have a wedding to attend at the end of the summer, if nothing else.  My belly just isn't allowing me to wear a lot of the stuff in my closet right now, and it's getting frustrating.  I had seen a couple sales that intrigued me, so off we went.  In the end I found one cute casual dress at Old Navy on clearance (yes!), and a dress for the wedding.  That was a total debacle, as it was getting late and the store was closing.  Just as I was looking at myself in the dress, Jacob said he had to go potty.  The bathroom in that store is on another floor, so I had to put the dress back in case we didn't get done in time (I liked it but didn't have a lot of time to study myself so I was slightly unconvinced), haul us all upstairs, go to the bathroom, come back downstairs, and try to finish my shopping.  The dress was on clearance for $35, but I had a coupon for $10 off $50 and I wanted to make up the difference with a few things for Carter--mostly mix-and-match shorts that would work with onesies.  I managed to find what I was looking for, so I ran back, got the dress, and checked out literally just as the announcement came over that the store was closed.  Oy.  But at least I got a dress, and upon further review, I really like it a lot.

Craig was back from his roadtrip Sunday morning, and we spent most of the afternoon trying to get the pool officially up and running, then enjoying a family swim while Carter slept inside with the monitor close by.  It was so hot and it made for a perfect day to swim.  Jacob loved it and didn't want to get out!  I still hate that pool, but I'm glad he's finally enjoying it. 

We did have some behavior problems this weekend, but that's content for another post.  We still have a couple weeks before Jacob's party, and if nothing else, that will be a fun time.  I  don't think reality has quite hit me yet that we have a five year old, but it will then.  And it really will in a couple months when we're sending him off to Kindergarten.  Knowing how quickly summer always goes, that time will be here soon enough!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Five (and Post #1,000!)

Dear Jacob,

Today you turn five.  I can hardly believe it.  Five years ago right now I was sitting in a hospital room, possibly as disoriented as I've ever been in my life.  After making it through an exhausting labor and your delivery in the middle of the night, I was already tired and sore...and then the nurse whisked you away because you weren't breathing right, and I spent the rest of your first day unsure of what to do next.  Should I go visit you and risk missing my hourly checkups?  Did I even have the energy to move?  Should I take advantage of the break and try to nap, or work on this blog to share pictures and stories about you with everyone?  In the end I didn't make it down to visit you until the early evening (sorry) because I just didn't know what I was allowed to do, but when I got there and saw your little face, I was completely enamored and amazed.  Despite your problems, you were so perfect.  An awesome little miracle. 


After having a "normal" first day (and first week) with Carter, I now know how much I missed out on with you early on.  As I said, I hardly saw you that first day, and the first week was one of the most difficult times of my life, shuttling back and forth to the hospital, trying to make sure you were fed, and just managing my exhaustion, fear, and inexperience as a new parent.  I think there was so much to deal with that I couldn't just sit back and enjoy it.  Those tiny newborn days go so quickly, and spending that time at the hospital just stunk.  You were a champ, though, and it made us that much more grateful to bring you home. 

Five years later, it turns out that the "not knowing what to do next" thing would be a theme of parenthood.  You definitely keep us on our toes and keep us wondering to try next to teach you how to behave.  You're...well, difficult.  You're also awesome and energetic and passionate about the things you love, but holy cow are you hard to manage sometimes.  Listening and obedience are not your strong suits right now.  I know a lot of that is just being at the age you're at, but I think so much of it has to do with the fact that when you get into something, you really get into it and it takes a monumental effort to drag you away...which probably looks to us like you're not listening or that you're just being difficult.  You are also really into potty talk right now--be it body part/bathroom humor, name calling, or just spewing nonsense that eventually evolves into things you shouldn't be saying.  You like to rhyme, for example, and we've had to outlaw the "Banana-Fana" song because you rhyme things you shouldn't.  It's great that you like to rhyme, but I just wish you'd use it for good, rather than evil.  At some point perhaps we'll laugh about your not-nice rhyming nickname for your brother, but right now it's not very funny.

What I think makes it worse is that we know you're capable of being awesome.  Like I said, you're smart, passionate, and sometimes genuinely funny.  And then you usually take it too far.  But when you don't, you're so much fun to hang out with.  You have a big, happy personality, and it bums us out when it takes a nasty turn.  If only we could figure out how to make your best side stick around more often. 

You ask a million questions and tell countless stories.  I don't want to crush your inquisitiveness or your creativity, but man...sometimes we just need a break!  You come up with a million excuses to not stay in bed at night, and you are incredibly picky about your clothes.  All you want to wear right now are sports shorts, and all of your handsome khaki and plaid shorts sit unused in your drawer.  You still love sports, super heroes, Playmobil, and especially Legos.  Getting you to keep them picked up is a challenge, but I know you're creative and you've got a whole story laid out in your head, so you hate to pick things up and disturb that.  You're also a total daddy's boy and hate to be separated from him.

You've had a very big year.  You took your first plane ride (to Atlanta), you did your first real sport (soccer), you became a big brother, and you graduated Pre-K.  Next week you'll start tee-ball, and this fall you're headed to Kindergarten and will make your first trip to Disney.  You've learned so much this year, from how to color in the lines, to how to write your letters (though we're still perfecting that skill).  I know you're super smart, but I know your Kindergarten teacher is going to have a challenge just trying to channel your energy in the right way. 

While I wish that I could do a little less yelling these days, I am still so amazed at the little boy you've become.  You're a far cry from that little baby, but like I always tell you, you'll always be my baby.  Oh, and this is my 1,000th post on this blog!  Who knew that this silly little thing I started when you were a mere few months old in my belly would turn into something so big and so vital to my sanity?  I'm pretty impressed that I've kept it up this long, and I look forward to the next 1,000 posts!  I'm so proud of you and pray that over this next year we'll start to figure some stuff out.  There's a whole great world out there just waiting for you, but we need to make sure you're ready for it, and you have a lot to learn!  But we love you so much and are so fascinated by the little boy you've become.  Hopefully we all have patience with each other and this next year is the best yet.  Happy Birthday Jacob!  We love you!

Love,
Mommy (and Daddy, too!)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Medical Update

Three of the four of us are sick.  Both kids woke up Friday with sneezing, coughing and congestion, and by Sunday I wasn't much better.  Luckily I haven't been too bad, but I have some sinus pressure, congestion, a runny nose, a scratchy throat, and just a nagging blah feeling.  My energy level is fine (or as fine as it can be considering how tired I am most of the time), but it's not ideal when you're managing two kids, a job, and a birthday, among other things.  Yes, Jacob turns five on Thursday and I pretty much haven't done anything for it.  I just sent out the invites for his party tonight, though in my defense the party is still more than two weeks away.  Jacob has changed his cake request about 10 times, so we'll need every minute of those two weeks!

I took Jacob in to the doctor for his well visit yesterday.  Cold aside, the doctor was happy with what she saw.  Even though he put on quite the show for her while we were chatting, she didn't seem too concerned about his behavior.  She pretty much just recommended a new technique for managing it, and that was it.  Jacob is still not even close to night trained, which is the downside of having a really great, deep sleeper.  She said it's normal until they're six, and until then there isn't much we can do except wait for his brain to figure out that it needs to wake him up when he has to pee.  Getting him up when we go to bed won't work at this stage, so I guess we just have to keep doing what we've been doing, which is nothing.  I also asked about the fact that his poops are huge...like he plugs the toilet about half the time.  While they don't seem to hurt him that bad coming out, afterward he always complains that it hurts and feels like he's still got poop in his butt.  I thought that might indicate a hemorrhoid, but it may just be all the stretching that's going on in his intestines.  Yikes!  So, first we try juice, and then we try Miralax.  Fun.  We finished off the visit with FOUR shots.  Ugh.  I know how important vaccines are, but four seems excessive.  He was so miserable when it happened, and it killed me to have to hold his arms while they did it.  He blamed me (as usual) for it and complained about his sore arms.  Surprisingly, his tetanus shot didn't bother him at all today, and I know that one drove me nuts when I was pregnant!   But overall he's fine.  He's right around the 50th percentile across the board, and he's over 43 inches tall and a little over 40 lbs.  A growing boy as usual!

As for Carter, he still had a nasty cough even before this latest cold started.  It's like a bad deja vu experience because it reminds me of Jacob when he was a newborn and coughed for nine months straight after getting bronchiolitis.  In the end they figured out that his reflux was causing his throat to get inflamed, and that's what's being diagnosed this time.  So, Carter is now on the same medicine that Jacob was (Reglan), which helped with slow stomach emptying.  So hopefully his cough will go away and he'll spit up less.  I'm sad that he's on these medications (still on regular reflux meds, too), but hopefully since he's starting them earlier than Jacob, he'll also get better sooner.  Poor kid.  The coughing pretty much made him throw up twice this past weekend, and that was the last straw .  He's still such a happy kid, but the cold and the cough have been so sad to watch. 

Hopefully summer will stick around for a while and we'll all be healthy soon.  We have too much to do and there is much fun to be had this summer...and no time for sickness!  Let's hope this works!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

For My Father...

I know that on Father's Day on my blog about my parenting experiences I should be honoring the guy who made me a mother.  And indeed, Craig is a great father.  Despite all he does for work--all the hours, all the travel--he still manages to find enough energy to attempt to satisfy Jacob's never-ending desire to play...whether it's heading outside for more baseball, lacrosse, soccer, or basketball, or staying inside and building Legos for hours.  He wants nothing more than for his kids to be as happy as possible, and will do whatever he can to make that a reality.  He tries so hard to make a good life for all of us, and I truly appreciate all he does.

But this time around I am going to celebrate my own dad.  After all, up until Jacob was born he was THE father-figure in my life, for all of my first 30 years.  While I'm sure I had my share of "daddy's girl" moments when I was little, I'll be the first to admit we didn't get along particularly well for quite a few years in the middle.  Perhaps it was because we're too much alike.  While I may not have been a "daddy's girl", I was definitely my father's daughter.  We were both hard-headed in our stance on a subject, and neither of us was willing to budge.  He was definitely a disciplinarian, and I probably stayed out of trouble much of the time out of fear of his punishment.  Perhaps there may have been a better way to handle a kid like me--after all, I was a pretty good kid in general--but I know (now more than ever, with my own stubborn child) he was parenting me the only way he knew how.  I remember feeling extra frustrated as a teenager, because when I screwed up I always beat myself up enough and didn't need any further guilt trips.  In addition, I always felt that my parents shouldn't complain, because for all the angst I may have caused them, they still probably got off pretty easy.  I got good grades, didn't go out very much, and generally stayed out of trouble.  Even still, we butted heads all the time during my teenage years.  I'm not sure we had much to chat about civilly during that time, though we could manage to bond over a Sabres game here and there.  But for the most part, most of my memories of us during that time probably involve some sort of argument.  I have no idea what we argued about, aside from clear memories of disagreements over my future career path, but it could have been almost anything.

Years later, I'm sure that so much of that had to do with his concern over my life's direction--he wanted me to be successful and felt (much like his father before him) that discipline was the best way to keep me on the right track.  And if he was anything like I am now, I know much of my frustration with Jacob comes out of a place of guilt and concern that I'm somehow to blame for his difficult traits.  On top of that, I probably overcompensate with more discipline just to try to fix whatever mess I may have already created.  Maybe I'm off-base, but knowing that I'm my father's daughter, I wouldn't be surprised if there was some of that going on.

I don't know when things began to change, but I suppose there were a few things that helped.  First, I graduated from college and got a job.  It was one less thing for him to worry about when I moved out and could generally support myself.  Then I got married, and I suppose I was no longer entirely his responsibility.  I had another guy who could make sure I was well cared for. 
About to give me away, literally and figuratively :)

And then he retired.  I know that his job was terribly stressful, and certainly not as financially rewarding as he would have liked.  But when he retired, that stress lifted off his shoulders and I swear he became a different person.  Suddenly there was a relaxed, jovial side that I'm not sure I had ever seen before. 

When we bought a house, an iffy one at that, I'm sure his stress level rose a bit...but he helped us out where he could and it gave us something else to chat about.  I don't want to say we were more like equals (can you ever truly say that about your parents?), but perhaps instead of feeling like he had to parent me all the time, we could bond over the shared trials of homeownership instead. 

But my true appreciation of my dad came when Jacob was born.  Suddenly he turned into a big softie, and a truly fantastic grandpa.  He derives so much joy from his grandkids (all four of them now, five years later), and doesn't hesitate to just grab them and play.  He's taught Jacob everything he knows about golf, and loves to make Carter laugh.  He tried tirelessly to get a hesitant Kate to warm up to him when she was little, and he took great pride in how one-year-old Max absolutely adored him the last time they visited Portland.  For all the ways that my dad is very much like his father, my dad has one characteristic I never really saw in my grandpa.  While he holds a very special spot in the hearts of all of his grandchildren, my grandfather was never a "get down on the floor and roll around" kind of grandpa.  He was always up for good conversation or a bridge game, and you could always see the pride on his face when he watched the younger kids, but by the time he was in his 60s and life (and emphysema) had taken its toll, getting down on the floor to play wasn't really his thing.  But my dad is right down there so much of the time, and it's a joy to watch.

Retirement is blissful, the stock market is strong, and grandkids are more a source of joy than stress...so life is good.  So good, in fact, that a couple months ago, he came home with this:


He's talked about it for years, but after a lifetime of frugality, he's finally able to enjoy the fruits of his labor, at least partially in the form of a little red convertible.  While I still tend to laugh and roll my eyes when I see it, I'm happy it makes him so happy.  He deserves it.

Parenthood has obviously given me a lot of insight into the issues we had a couple decades ago, although my truly rough years haven't even begun yet so I can only imagine what other revelations I will have in the next 10-15 years.  They say that girls marry a guy like their father.  I never in a million years would have thought that I'd fall into that category, and in many ways Craig and my dad couldn't be more different.  But one thing they do share--the most important thing--is a sincere desire to do the best they can for their kids.  While I may not have understood my dad's efforts in that arena when I was a kid, I certainly can appreciate them now.  While I sometimes wish he would have gone about things a little differently, I understand now that he was doing his best and only had my best interests at heart.  And now all these years later I have the benefit of seeing his best side come out in grandparenthood.  I'm so grateful for my kids' sake, and pray that they will have at least as many years with their grandfather as I had with mine.  It'll never be enough, of course, but I hope it's at least long enough for them to know how blessed they are to have him.  God knows it took me long enough to fully appreciate that fact myself, but I'm so thankful that I do.

Thanks, Dad (and Grandpa), for all you've done and all you do.  We love you!  Happy Father's Day!  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Four Months!

Hard to believe, but Carter turns four months today!  We're a third of the way through his first year, which is crazy to think about!  I talked about him in-depth the other day, so I'll keep this short and sweet and get right to the picture...

It actually looks quite similar to last month, though he does look bigger.  I just can't tell if it's the angle or that he's just bigger! 

Coincidentally, as of today, Carter has actually been in existence for a whole year!  We're pretty sure he was conceived on the 15th last year.  I went to the fertility doctor on the 14th to make sure there was only one egg hanging out there, got my shot of hormones, and went home with the instructions to do what we needed to do a couple days later.  Unfortunately, Craig was leaving the next morning for a roadtrip, so we had to give it a shot ahead of time.  Luckily it worked, and voila...baby!  Little did we know that exactly one year later we'd be enjoying our four-month-old!

We celebrated today by splitting up, two and two, for the weekend.  Craig and Jacob are off to Hamburg, and Carter and I headed to N.T.  Today was our niece and nephew's birthday party, and tomorrow is my cousin's bridal shower.  With the party today, and since I'll be busy tomorrow, it made sense for Craig to spend the whole weekend with his family.  Driving all the way to the party and back (or trying to only do it all with one car) just seemed like a lot for one day, so Carter and I opted to skip the party and just head here.  On the way we stopped in Niagara Falls to turn in our Groupon for our membership to the aquarium (which gives us admission to the zoo in Rochester as well--score!), and we stopped there for a bottle...with a pretty nice view!
Sea lions!
We didn't stay for long because we were eager to get to my parents' house, but we did check out the penguins, as well...
This one walked right up to where we were standing.  I don't know if Carter looked yummy or what!
We took a stroller ride, sat on the porch, and then went to the river for dinner at Old Man River.  We got lots of fresh air today, and he's conked out early (or so it appears as of 8:30!).  We've got another busy day tomorrow, too!  But for tonight, my sweet little (sick) four-month-old is ready for sleep!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Cutie Carter

Carter is SUCH a cute kid.  He's a different cute than Jacob, I think, but man, he is adorable.  And everyone remarks about it.  I know you're always supposed to, but people (particularly strangers) can choose to say nothing...yet we get comments everywhere we go. 
 
I'd say that Jacob probably had it easy when he was a baby, simply because of his dimple.  The dimple came out with even the slightest smile, and everyone thought it was the cutest thing.  I'm sure in many cases they still do, though I wish so many of his smiles weren't of the "I'm doing something I'm not supposed to do" variety.  Unfortunately for him, he's lost all trace of his baby looks...he's a bonafide big boy now, and big boys may be handsome, but they tend to resemble ragamuffins most of the time so the cuteness they once had is slightly disguised.  Of course, I still think he's wonderfully handsome, but I'm looking at him through always-my-baby goggles, so perhaps I'm biased. 
 
Anyway, now that Carter is smiling so much, you just can't hide the cuteness.  I took these pictures a couple weeks ago, and I absolutely love them.  They just capture his different looks so well...
 
I just love his face here...the perfect mix of sweet and happy!

There are a few notable things about this picture.  First, though the angle may be weird, it does give you an idea of how big his head is compared to the rest of his skinny little body.  Jacob always had a relatively small head, so this is a switch.  Second, you can really see the roundness in his cheeks that I tried to describe a while back as his distinguishing characteristic, comparable to Jacob's dimple.  His cheeks just "pop"!

No smile here, but this picture is just pure sweetness.
I took these pictures on Sunday...just sweet, happy faces...


In addition to being cute-looking, he's making cute noises, too!  Besides his giggles, sometimes it seems like he's trying to have a full conversation, or at least tell us something.  He'll babble on for a while now.  His sighs are even cute. 

Physically he's making major strides, too.  He can hold toys now, though he's still figuring out the cause and effect of being able to shake them and make noise.  We've been working a lot on tummy time in the last week or so, and suddenly he's starting to hold his head up much better.  He hasn't rolled over yet, but he can roll on his side from his back and looks like he's so close to flipping.  Because of that, I'm hesitant to keep swaddling him at night.  He's outgrown his swaddle anyway, and I think his recent wakeups in the middle of the night have been because he wrestles himself out of his swaddle and gets cold.  So, last night I put him in just a sleeper to make sure he was warm enough.  He slept fine, though I swear he startles himself awake a lot more that way--but luckily, if he does, he keeps quiet when he does it. 

He's just got these big bright eyes and the cutest expressions.  I love his soft hair (which is still pretty thick and dark in the back, but seems to have lightened up a bit on top), though he seems to have finally lost most of the plentiful body hair he was born with.  I have no idea where it all went because I only rarely noticed small pieces of stray hair here and there, and there was a lot to lose!  It cracks me up to look at early pictures and see so much hair all over this tiny baby!  His features are still generally darker than Jacob's, though, and his eyes are changing now but we still can't tell what direction they're going--Craig's green or my dark brown.  He's still pretty skinny but his face and thighs are the main source of his chub.  Lately my favorite body parts of his are his adorable little feet.  They totally crack me up.  I have to take a picture one of these days of how he has them sometimes when he's eating. 

I know it's probably their job to do this, but the people at daycare just gush over him.  They remark almost every day how sweet and cute he is.  He is the littlest baby there right now, so I'm sure that helps, but he's already so much bigger than he was when he started there!  I can barely believe he's nearly four months old and a third of the way to a year!  We have so much crazy stuff coming up, too...solid foods, crawling, teething, talking, walking...wow.  I think back to where we were with Jacob at this point, and it boggles my mind a bit that it was already fall and nearly Halloween!  For some reason it seems like it was such a long time to get to that point, but this time these four months have absolutely flown.  It just gets me excited when I see old pictures of Jacob and think about how he's grown and changed, and I realize we get to do it all over again with Carter.  It's amazing. 

Anyway, he's such a sweet, adorable baby, and he brings us such joy.  I know this time is limited, where he doesn't know how to disobey or manipulate or, well...move, so I'm trying to soak up every moment.  I just wish there were more of them!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kindergarten Orientation

Fresh off graduation last Friday, today Jacob took his first official steps toward Kindergarten.  This morning was orientation. 

For a while we were considering sending Jacob to the nearby Christian school.  I have friends from college who send their kids there (and the husband teaches there), and everything I've seen them post about the school looked great.  Tuition was reasonable, though when I did the math to figure out how much we'd be spending for school and afterschool care (along with summer care), I was shocked to realize that we'd hardly be saving any money compared to what we're spending on his daycare now.  That was a little surprising and a tough pill to swallow.  Still, we were strongly considering it because we've both had experiences in public and private schools, and there is definitely a difference. 

Unfortunately, the timing of getting Jacob registered for school sort of fell in the middle of the worst part of my pregnancy, so I wasn't quite as proactive about everything as I probably should have been.  Our district stinks, apparently, because they don't do an audit of students to know where potential kindergarten students might reside, so we hadn't even gotten a registration packet by the time they were doing advance registration.  As I said, I was in the middle of pregnancy and I was honestly sort of waiting around for some direction--advice from daycare, something in the mail, or a notice in the local paper of an open house at the Christian school, which happened around March last year.  None of that happened, and suddenly I was like, "Crap, did I miss something?"  I called the Christian school, only to find out that Kindergarten was totally booked for next year.  Yay for the Christians, but geez...I never expected that.  So, I took that as my sign that public school was the way to go.

I called the district to ask about the missing paperwork, and was basically told that they simply hope people see things in the paper or hear via word-of-mouth that they should be getting in touch with the district.  Carter, by the way, is covered now, because Jacob's paperwork included a spot for siblings and they will use that to find him when the time comes.  But still...ugh.  Anyway, I got him registered a few weeks later, and we got a call last week that orientation was today.  Lovely.

I was hopeful we'd see the one little girl who we knew would be going to that school, Jacob's old friend Angelica from our old daycare.  Sure enough, they were right in the first row when we got there.  Nice to see a familiar face, at least.  The principal and assistant principal spoke, and the three teachers all shared some nuggets of information, as well.  We went over some of the basics--the timing of the school day, how drop-off should go, a preview of school supplies, a schedule of the school day, how lunches work, etc.  At one point the kids were herded off in color-coded groups to do some activities and take a ride on a school bus, and the parents sat through more information about transportation, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and a series of items from the school nurse. 

I don't think any of the information was particularly crazy or earth-shattering, but it was a lot to take in and it's still hard to fathom how mature my baby is going to become in the next year.  Heck, they even tell you to drop off your kid in the foyer (even during the first few days) and they'll learn to get to their classroom on their own.  Doing that minimizes the number of adults wandering around the school and also starts the independence process sooner.  We still have some decisions to make, such as when we're going to utilize the bus and where Jacob is going to go after school.  There's an afterschool program in the building, or he could bus down the street to daycare.  The downside of daycare is that it's more expensive, but he's obviously used to it there and it's only one place to go to pick up both kids.  I don't know how I feel about the bus in general, though I know I'm not particularly eager to stand at a bus stop in the rain or the middle of winter.  Most likely we'll be able to swing drop-off, but the option is still there if we need it, because the woman who spoke today said not to cancel service, even if you're not going to use it often. 

We didn't get our supply list yet, but I know that's going to be a lengthy, expensive prospect.  We won't find out his teacher until August.  There will be a day in September to go meet the teacher and check out his classroom, which is when this is all going to feel extra real.  Before then we have some skills to work on to make sure he's ready to take care of himself.

I'm not sure how he's going to do with Kindergarten.  Listening is definitely a concern.  I know he's smart enough, but I question whether or not he'll rebel against authority or lose interest in the midst of a long day of learning.  His Kindergarten experience will be a far cry from mine.  Mine was a half day, lots of playing, and a short rest period.  On the schedule we saw today, there was no rest period, and subject after subject.  I'm sure it will be fine, but it will be a switch.  I can't help but wonder how he'll do with that much sustained learning, and how he'll be feeling by the time he makes it to whatever afterschool program we settle on.  I worry about his responsibility with homework, packing his backpack, and managing his lunch. 

I won't lie, as I was sitting there listening, I looked around at the other parents and wondered if I really want my kid to be friends with their kid.  There weren't a lot of people that looked like us--meaning, about our age, decently dressed, no extreme looks--so it's hard to say what the odds are that some great friendship will spawn from this.  I couldn't help but wonder how I'd feel about the Christian school.  Would I be more comfortable with everything?  Would it be a warmer feel?  Would I trust the parents more because they took that extra step to send their child somewhere special?  Would I feel better about the school because I knew one of the teachers?  It's hard to say, but I just have to trust that this is the right thing.  I have to pray that Jacob steers clear of the problem kids and manages to be a good learner in that environment.  And, if all else fails, perhaps we could move him to the other school for first grade.  God forbid things ever get that bad, though.

Anyway, I couldn't really get much out of Jacob about his time without me, but he did do some coloring, supposedly cut out a fish, and took a bus ride.  He seemed to like it and thought everything seemed pretty cool, so that's promising.  However, once we got to daycare, the assistant directory remarked that he looked a little tired, and she was right--he did.  I ended up a little tired myself, so perhaps we were both just a little overwhelmed by everything.  Not that it was bad, but it's just a lot to process because it's going to be a major life change.  We've got a few months to settle into this, though, so I'm sure that we'll be fine.  Just don't mind me if I take a few deep breaths in the meantime... 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Never Enough

I felt like I managed having a newborn so much better than last time around.  And I think I did, but I suppose that led me to overestimate how the transition back to work would be.  I've been back to work now for nearly two months, and quite frankly, it stinks.

There are bright sides.  I love picking the boys up most days, especially now that I get a real smile from Carter when he sees me.  The condensed time with them means that I appreciate the evenings and weekends so much more than I probably would otherwise, and I'm fresher on the mom front (despite a long day of work) than I would be if I were home with them all day.  Obviously the income is important, my brain gets a nice workout, and I get adult interaction.  But that's about where it ends.

I am exhausted.  Every. Single. Day.  I'm not sure there's been a day since I've been back to work that I haven't been nearly nodding off at my desk at one point or another during the day.  I suppose I can't use Carter as an excuse since he's an amazing sleeper who almost never wakes up in the middle of the night (well, at least until the past week).  But I still can't get enough sleep.  Sometimes it's Jacob waking up in the middle of the night with bad dreams or a wet bed.  Sometimes it's shallow sleep because I'm always listening for noises over the monitors.  But most of the time it's just that my bedtime is too late and my alarm clock is too early.  Carter wakes up somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 to eat.  If he's at the early end of that range, the good news is that I get to sneak a few more minutes in bed after I put him back down, but the bad news is that I am basically up for the day at 5:30 because I don't really get any more quality sleep after that.  If it's at the later end of that range, I need to be up before then in order to ensure that we're all ready to leave the house on time.  I used to be able to snooze until at least 7am before Carter was born, so the early wake-up is a little painful.  Easier than expected most of the time, I suppose, but it comes back to bite me later in the day. 

So after a full day of work where I can hardly keep my eyes open or focus like I should, I head home.  Pickup, dinner, a little playtime, and then bedtime.  Jacob usually goes down first, sometime between 8:30 and 9pm.  Carter usually takes his last bottle around that same time, and he's in bed between 9-10pm, depending on how smoothly the feeding and last diaper change go.  My target bedtime is 11pm, but it's rare that I make it when I only have an hour or so after Carter is asleep.  I have bottles to wash, dishes to do, laundry to fold, and endless spots in the house that need cleaning up.  I have to pay bills, sort mail, clip coupons, read papers, or reply to emails.  Usually we try to fit in a TV show clogging up our DVR, or I'm trying to write a blog post (it's therapy, people...very important to my mental health) or do some online window shopping or Pinterest browsing for one thing or another.  Suddenly it's after 11pm and I'm behind the 8-ball again.  I always try to fit in "just one more thing" and inevitably it leads to something else.  I search for one more thing online and then remember something else.  I clean up the pile of mail only to find something I need to take care of.  I go into the kitchen to dump off snack dishes and realize I forgot to get Carter's morning bottle ready to go.  It's a never-ending cycle. 

All of this doesn't even take into consideration all of the other things that I'd like to be doing.  I'm lucky if I can get my once-a-week workout in, and at the same time I'm trying to make sure Craig has opportunities to fit in his workouts.  I'd love to go shopping to fill in a few of the holes in my wardrobe right now, but finding the time and patience is hard.  I really need to do Christening thank you notes, doing some filing, and start planning Jacob's birthday party (or parties, if we end up allowing him to have a friend one).  I feel bad because I've been putting off scheduling play dates for Jacob because weekends are already so jammed that I can't quite fathom fitting in that, too.  And the worst part is that because I know I'm going to be tired by the time the kids go to bed, I sacrifice time with them so I can try to get a few things done earlier.  I have so little time with them in the first place that it kills me to do that, but sometimes I have to.  I'm so overwhelmed by everything that I can't seem to focus on anything.  I forget things, or walk by the same pile of stuff for days (weeks!?) before I ever get around to doing something with it.  Time flies like crazy. 

Work is definitely a challenge, and over the past week I seem to be going through the same funk that I go through once every few months.  Usually it's triggered by a bad day at work, or a day where I just feel like what I do is not worth being away from my kids.  Something has to suffer, and I don't want it to be my family, but that's often how it ends up.  And quite frankly, some people might argue that work suffers too, since I'm always running out the door at 5:15 to get to daycare on time.  It's not fair to anyone, and it's hard to go through every day knowing that your priorities have to be backward.  At the same time, I know I'm not cut out to be home 24/7, but every time I get into one of these funks, I go over a dozen scenarios in my head about how I could work part time.  But none of them ever work, mostly because there's just no way to recoup the lost income, make daycare cheap enough, or cut enough corners on our household budget to make it doable.  It's so disheartening every time I come to that conclusion, but never more so than right now when I'm just craving time with Carter, my little smile machine.  I like my job, but more and more I feel like the job is changing and I'm not suited to changing with it.  I feel like my brain is not wired to do the things they want me to do, and it's hard to want to bother with learning new things or taking on new responsibilities because I know I can't dedicate any more to this job than I already do.  I'm overwhelmed by the thought of doing anything more because I can barely handle what I do now.  Then I feel like a bad employee, but the thought of rectifying that generally makes me fear becoming a worse mom, and so on and so forth.

Long story short, there just aren't enough hours in the day.  There isn't enough time to work, spend time with the kids, spend time with Craig, do what I need to around the house, and get a little me-time in so I'm a happier person doing all those other things.  And there isn't enough time for sleep, which makes all of those things that much harder.  There are so many things about my current schedule that I'd love to change, but I'm not a morning person either so that's not happening.  I feel like I'm missing out on Carter's babyhood, just like I did on Jacob's, and I know now more than ever how quickly this time passes...and since we won't be doing it again, it's that much harder.  I just feel like I'm treading water, at best, and never really doing anything well.  I spend my rides to work dreaming about what it would be like to be able to be well-rested; to spend time with other moms; to do activities with my kids without feeling like I'm shirking other responsibilities or rushing them along so I can get back to something else; to have the time to think through organizing my house better; to keep my house clean; to plan dinners in advance and make better stuff; to have the ability to think clearly about planning parties or trips; to not have crazy daycare bills or worry about what my kids will do after school or during summers; to at least be the kind of mom my mom was for me.  Heck, I think my mom is the reason why I'd love to work part time.  She did it starting around the time I turned eight, and it brought a nice balance of independence (which I didn't abuse, unless plentiful after-school TV counts) and care.  She was always available for school things or doctor's appointments, and I worry about things like that with my own kids because I only have so much vacation to go around.  It's a different era, now, though.  We have to pay for things like cell phones, internet access, and $4 per gallon gas.  College (even state schools) costs thousands more than it used to, and I'd feel bad not giving my kids the same sort of help my parents gave me (or at least attempting to).  As I've said, despite the cost of daycare, there is no combination of cuts that we could make to our expenditures that would make it possible for only one of us to work, even part time.  At least not if we want a comfortable savings account or any amount of entertainment in our lives.

Eventually I will come out of this funk and settle back into acceptance of this less-than-ideal way of life.  It's not that bad, after all, and we're beyond blessed in so many ways.  It's just frustrating to see a different way of life that seems so much more natural and fulfilling just beyond your grasp.  I'm sure there's some degree of "the grass is always greener" here, too, and I've have some issues to contend with even if I got my wish.  But man, it would sure be fun to try...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Graduate

Last night Jacob graduated from preschool.  It doesn't really change anything in the short term, since he'll still be going to the same place every day until September, but technically, he has finished preschool and is headed toward Kindergarten.  Coincidentally, his Kindergarten orientation is Tuesday morning.  That is going to be quite the experience--our first time at his school, meeting new people, going on a real bus ride.  I laughed last night as I realized that the same thing happened to me--I graduated high school, and a few days later I was off to my college orientation.  That experience wasn't so great--more disorienting than anything (haha)--but I'm hoping Jacob's gets him really excited for school.

Anyway, the graduation was held in the church that the daycare is adjacent to.  Jacob had said a few weeks ago that he wanted to wear a shirt and tie for graduation, and I assumed he'd change his mind (or more likely, decide after we bought it that he didn't want to after all), but on Thursday he insisted he still did and we went out to find him a shirt and tie.  He looked so handsome!  Craig got to daycare a little early to get him changed, and by the time I arrived a little after 6pm, I was informed that I had just missed a major meltdown about his shoes--apparently he didn't want to scuff them up, but I have no idea where he thought he would do that.  Fortunately a couple things calmed the tantrum, and they were back in business.

When they all processed in, Jacob looked so fancy in his shirt, tie, gown, and cap!  He was a little fixated on his tassel...

The director and teachers did speeches, and the kids sang some cute songs about going to Kindergarten. The one teacher mentioned that she'd never been shown up by a kid when talking about sports as much as she had this year, and I know she was talking about Jacob!  Later on they did awards for each kid, basically a guess on what their future occupation would be based on their in-classroom skills and personality.  The rule-follower would be a policeman, Jacob's buddy Mason a soccer player like his dad, the girl who loves their beauty shop center a hairstylist, etc.  And, not surprisingly, Jacob was deemed a "sports announcer" since he will talk about sports all the time, to anyone who will listen.

At one point I caught this picture of him...
...And after they got their diplomas, each kid had to walk up to the microphone and say why they wanted to go to Kindergarten.  My guess was that he'd say he wants to go so he can play baseball.  But he walked right up to the microphone and confidently stated, "I want to go to Kindergarten so I can play basketball!"  Craig figured that Jacob equated Kindergarten with a school with a gym, and gyms have basketball hoops.

At the end of the ceremony, the recessional was done to "It's Raining Men" because the the big joke of the night is that the class had all these boys and only two girls!  The teachers have definitely been troopers, because life with all these boys is definitely interesting.  So, right at the end, they pulled out some umbrellas and sang along to the song.  Very creative!

Afterward there was a reception in the church basement.  There was pizza, salads (that we all made), fruit, and cake.  Each kid got a water bottle full of candy and a balloon...

Jacob was a little crazy after it was all over, and the kids were all running around and bopping each other with balloons, but I did manage to capture this shot...because who knows when he'll be willing to wear a shirt and tie again!

Once we were home, Jacob ended up changing into shorts and flip flops and came out of his room dancing.  What a goof ball!


He says he wants to graduate again, but the good news for him is that he'll get to do it all over again next year when he finishes Kindergarten.  How is my baby going to Kindergarten?  We go to orientation on Tuesday, so that will be interesting.

As far as graduation, though, I ended up not being as emotional as I expected.  I got a little misty on the way there thinking about how five years ago I was pregnant and couldn't even fathom what it would be like to have a kindergartner, and now here we are.  It's been one heck of a ride, and it's still just beginning.  I know that before I know it he's going to be graduating high school!  I suppose it helps now that we have Carter and know that we have one more baby to experience all of these milestones with.  But let me tell you, putting away the outgrown clothes is already striking me as a bit harder this time around!  But it is amazing to think of how far we've come.

I'm very proud of Jacob and excited for his next chapter.  I know he's smart enough to do fantastically in Kindergarten, but I just hope that between his teachers and us we can find a way to channel his energy and help him listen and learn without making any of us (least of all him) crazy.  It all begins Tuesday...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's Happening, It's Really Happening!

So, sometime in the last couple weeks, Jacob has started to come around on the big brother front.  I'm not going to say he's totally loving the role yet, but he's at least slightly intrigued.  I don't know if it's because he's maturing, he's figured out that Carter's not leaving, or if Carter is getting slightly more interesting, but slowly but surely something is changing. 

As you may recall, Jacob barely acknowledged Carter's existence for the first few months.  He'd ignore him, wouldn't touch him, and ignored our requests to even come look at him.  He was cranky that I was never available, and gave me a hard time whenever I was ("I want Daddy!").  Then he moved into another phase where he'd say, "Car-ter!" in an annoyed tone if Carter was crying.  I told him not to do that, but added that he definitely wasn't allowed to say that to his brother unless he was going to talk to him nicely at other times.  He was also interested in his diaper changes ("Did he poop?"), but rarely hung around long enough to see one...and of course was all offended by the sights and smells when he did.  But mostly he would make fun of him for pooping in a diaper and would refer to him as "Farter".  Awesome.  How we didn't catch that one, I don't know.  But having a child that likes to rhyme has made things a little more challenging, and the "Banana-fanna-fo-fanna" song is now banned in our house because there are too many not-nice words that kept popping up (including that "fatty" comes up in the "Daddy" version--Craig did not appreciate that). 

And now, while most of the time he's still unimpressed, he's gradually noticing his brother a bit more and willingly interacting with him.  Carter still can't do much, but he can smile, watch, and grab on to things.  He often watches Jacob intently.  Perhaps the fact that Jacob's got another member of his audience has contributed to his slowly improving attitude.  Sometimes Carter will smile when he's watching him.  When Carter is crying, Jacob will ask why.  Most of the time he asks if he's hungry, even if he's just eaten.  The other day Craig, Carter, and Jacob were even playing with a ball a bit.

I've caught him talking to him a little, though it's hard to tell what he's saying.  Sometimes he'll tell him not to cry (a little nicer than before) and sometimes he'll ask questions about him.  Then yesterday, he asked me if he could feed Carter.  Unfortunately, Carter was starving and it was right in the middle of Jacob's dinner so we couldn't do it right then, but I told him he definitely could feed him sometime.  Fingers crossed he continues to be interested!  This morning he also asked me a cute question, about why Carter doesn't bring stuffed animals with him to daycare.  I explained that Carter doesn't need them just yet!

It's definitely been a subtle shift, and he still has moments where he couldn't be less interested, but I'm hopeful that as Carter continues to grow and become more interactive, Jacob will get even better.  I suspect that the greatest joy of having two kids is watching them interact with each other, but we really haven't had that opportunity yet--at least not without the concern of Jacob acting out in the process--but the brief glimpses I've seen thus far have been really promising and I can't wait for more.

In other news, Carter gave me the best laughs tonight.  All of a sudden his little snickers turned into real laughs!  He did it a bunch of times, and it was great!  He's been doing little laughs for a bit now, where you could tell he was laughing but it wasn't a fully formed giggle, but this was a real laugh!  He had a giant smile with those round cheeks, and just belted them out!  It was awesome to hear and see.  He is just so cute.  Oh, and in case you're wondering, he's pretty much on the same timeline Jacob was for that.  Jacob's first laugh came about a week before he turned four months, and that's just about where Carter is now.  Of course, Jacob has a big one up on Carter at this point, because Jacob flipped from his belly to his back at that same time.  I'm not in a rush yet for flipping since it means he can move around a bit, but it will be interesting to see when he starts.  I did take Carter out of his swaddle tonight because I wanted to wash the two he still fits in.  He's been wrestling out a lot anyway lately, so I figured it was worth a try.  Since the sleep sacks I have are a little more wintry than our current weather, I'm trying a gown we were gifted.  Hopefully it'll still help him feel nice and cozy.  He did down an extra ounce at bedtime too, so with any luck he'll sleep well regardless.

Just about bedtime, but I still have a couple things to finish up first...not enough hours in the day....ever.