Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

I won't lie, there have been times this Thanksgiving that I've had trouble being thankful.  I know full well that I am blessed beyond belief.  I have a fantastic extended family (both sides), a loving husband, two kids, a beautiful (albeit messy) house, a good job, and a relatively comfortable lifestyle.  We got a nearly free trip to Disney this year.  Carter is the best baby I could have asked for.  We live in a place generally devoid of natural disasters (though the lake effect snow falling outside right now is a little more intense than I'd like for November).  My parents' 43rd wedding anniversary is today.  They're spending it in Portland with John and his family, so while I didn't get to see them, I'm happy their other grandkids are getting the chance to spend the holiday with their only grandparents.  We are so fortunate.  I know that. 

But it's been a tough year, no doubt.  Carter's birth was by far the highlight, but between a tough end to my pregnancy, the angst over stopping breastfeeding, Jacob's behavior and Celiac diagnosis, Carter's rice intolerance, and Craig's dad's open heart surgery, this year has been one challenge after another.  So while I know we have so much to be thankful for, the issues we've been going through have taken a little of the joy out of our day-to-day existence.  Nothing seems easy anymore.  Even something as simple as going out to dinner is a challenge now, for multiple reasons.  The new diet hasn't really helped Jacob's behavior, and we haven't made a lot of progress using other means.  Carter's intolerance being of the very thing that we're eating a lot of these days has not helped my stress level at all.  I feel like a lot of things in our lives are out of sync, and I just don't know how to fix them. 

It's not that I'm not thankful--I am--but all that we're dealing with has sucked a lot of the joy and simplicity out of our daily lives.  Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday, but there are so many things that we're harder about today because of Jacob's issues.  On top of it Carter had a rare bad day today--guessing it's either teeth or his lack of poop--so there were a lot of things on my mind this holiday.  I know my stress level won't be going down anytime soon, either, because my long to do list just got doubled with all of the Christmas decorating and shopping to come.  I'm tired, and it's not going to get any better anytime soon.

Still, I know we're blessed.  I'm thankful that Craig's Nana made it to this Thanksgiving, and that I could capture this picture a couple weeks ago:

Despite my annoying with the snow and the danger it poses, it was truly beautiful out my office window yesterday.

And, of course, I love my kids, even if I don't always know how best to manage them.  This little Indian boggles my mind in so many ways every day. 

We have so much to appreciate this Thanksgiving, but that's not going to stop me from wishing for a Christmas miracle.  We need one in the worst way.  God has been good, but  I miss our sense of pure joy. 

Happy Thanksgiving to our family and friends out there.  May this year give you many things to be thankful for.  And us, too.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Handful

So...I knew it was coming, but I hoped it wouldn't happen quite yet.  My perfect, sweet little Carter is suddenly a major handful.  I think we've got a few things going on right now, actually, and it's making him much higher maintenance than he used to be.  That said, he's still sweet, perfect, and adorable...and far easier than your average baby, but still, he's a handful.

A couple weeks ago he started crawling.  I knew that it was the beginning of the end of our perfect, discipline-free relationship, but I hoped that somehow his perfection would carry over to that element as well.  No luck.  He may not be the most skilled, speedy crawler yet, but he can get where he needs to go rather quickly nonetheless.  And once his gaze rests on something he wants, he will stop at nothing to get at it.  Over and over and over again.  I can't even tell you how many times in the past two days I had to reroute him from Jacob's Legos.  A least a dozen?  I was way behind on newspaper reading over the past month or so and did a major catch-up this weekend, often breezing through a few sections at a time while Carter was contentedly playing on the floor next to me.  Sometimes he'd sit on my lap as the pages flipped by.  But inevitably, once there was a pile of papers nearby on the floor, he'd be on his way to get them.  He'd destroy anything in his grasp if I let him.  A couple times I let him go to town, once on a catalog and another time on some ads, and he had a blast--for minutes at a time--crunching and ripping the paper.  We just had to watch for him putting small pieces in his mouth, but other than that it was pretty harmless fun.  It definitely made me look forward to Christmas and the joy of wrapping paper, because he'll be far more into it at ten months than Jacob was at six months.  But still, he could have a dozen toys sitting in front of him, but he's far more interested in everything else!  Oh, and if there's a piece of fuzz or a crumb on the carpet, he will find it.  Good thing his pincer grasp still stinks, because he can't quite pick them up yet once he finds them.

He's putting up a fuss when I try to put him in his carseat, and wrangling him on the changing table is getting to be a challenge as well.  He's forever trying to grab his medicine syringe or the tub of wipes, and he giggles maniacally when he flips himself over and nearly rolls off the table.  If I have him sitting up there to put on a shirt, he will pull himself forward so he's practically folding himself in half to peer over the end. 

He's also doing his darnedest to pull himself up.  He hasn't really tried on furniture, but he's done it on me and his toys.  He was sitting on his knees at his activity table yesterday!  He's not doing it a lot, but he can do it, particularly if given a little balance.  The bad news is that he's not too steady yet once he does get up, so he's definitely prone to toppling if we're not there to get him.

All of a sudden a week or so ago I realized that he was going from laying to sitting without a problem, and that's when I started to get the idea that he was going to be unstoppable very soon.  Yesterday at church I put his feet on the floor as he was holding my fingers, and he effortlessly took a few steps toward me.  I don't know where that came from because I had a hard time replicating it later, but I can't help but wonder if he's going to blow past Jacob in terms of starting to walk.  Jacob took his time and didn't walk full time until about 16 months.  I can't imagine Carter will take that long, but I could be wrong!

Despite my exhaustion and frustration with a little man who wants to be on the move, it's amazing to watch him figure things out.  You can almost see the wheels turning in his head.  He's growing and changing so much lately, and I'm so amazed (possibly even more than last time around) to watch it happen.  I can't believe how fast this past year has gone (my car is a year old!), and while at times it seems like Carter has been here forever, I can't get over how time has flown.  It's been an unorthodox last year, for sure.  But to have this little baby that's growing and changing and turning into a little boy before our eyes...it's just nuts. 

I'm a little sad that our discipline-free time is done, because that is a magical time where your baby can do no wrong (not on purpose, anyway).  It's hard to see a willful side emerge, particularly now that we know what that will can do, because it all seems like it goes downhill from here.  Sure, there are amazing moments along the way, but feeling like you and your baby can do no wrong is such a great feeling.  All the smiles and giggles make it worth it, but we're in for an interesting ride with this one, I think...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

News & Notes, I Wish Thanksgiving was Today Edition

I can't even express how much I wish today was Thanksgiving and I had a day off and a weekend awaiting tomorrow.  Instead, I have four more days of work and a weekend full of solo parenting standing between me and a four day weekend.  Granted, one of those days off will be spent in Buffalo and I have two kids and a house to decorate for Christmas on the other, but my dreams of getting stuff done still persist.  I have this endless to do list for stuff around the house that is making me nuts.  Between dinner, getting the kids to bed, and falling asleep in my chair while trying to be productive, the list persists.  I can't even tell you how far behind I am on most things now, and it's making me crazy.  Right now my week off after Christmas just has me salivating.  Again, I know that having two kids means that not much will get done, but I am going to do my best.  I have to.  Too much stuff is piling up and it's starting to make me crazy.  Newspapers and mail piled up, pictures and curtains waiting to be hung, a checkbook that desperately needs balancing, photos that need to be sorted and printed, a printer I want to move from our desktop to where my laptop lives, coupons needing to be cut and organized, CDs to be organized, and any other number of random little tasks.  They never seem to end.  I have a running list on my iPod just in case I find myself with spare time.  Ha!

The other night we accidentally let Jacob eat a piece of candy with gluten in it.  I thought I had checked the ingredients, but I didn't.  We noticed he was a little extra hyper and that clued us in.  Not that he was a saint before that, but he was noticeably worse after.  He's been a bit of a pain the last couple days since, but hopefully it'll ease up a bit before the weekend.  We do see little improvements from time to time, but it still appears to be a slow go.  I feel bad about what happened, though.  It's our first noticeable slip-up so far, and hopefully our last.  The good news is that he didn't seem to have any belly issues from it, though that makes me wonder a bit because I would have thought he would after four weeks off of gluten.  I can't imagine where there would be a chance for that to happen, but maybe he's just lucky since he never had stomach issues before. 

As for Carter, he seems to be doing well with oatmeal.  He doesn't love it, but he'll eat it.  He also seems to love his other baby food.  He still doesn't eat a ton, but he gladly eats almost anything.  Even veggies that he didn't like initially he's come to enjoy when I mix them with pureed meat.  I still haven't had much success with finger foods.  There are so few he can eat with the rice intolerance, and even well cooked veggies in tiny pieces have been problematic.  He has done small pieces of banana but he seems unconvinced.  I may try some tiny pieces of turkey on Thanksgiving.  I really want to try some dairy again now that it seems the oatmeal is okay.  Having a tolerance for dairy opens up a lot of possibilities--including cheese, yogurt, and cheaper formula.  Fingers crossed.  In the meantime I am so bitter with the baby food companies for sticking rice flour in almost every interesting-sounding baby food concoction. 

Carter is really getting around these days.  He is constantly taking off for Jacob's toys, even though he's got plenty of his own.  I brought up an activity table and he's enjoyed playing with that, including some giant pop beads that came with it.  He does pretty well standing up against it, and he's still pulling himself up on things from time to time, with no help except a little balance once in a while.  I have a feeling he'll be getting around a lot sooner than Jacob did.  We're in trouble! 

Craig's busy season pretty much starts this weekend, so I'm bracing myself for lots of solo time with two kids.  It's always doable, but Jacob is a wildcard for sure.  I need to find some ways to fill the time and keep him engaged, while still keeping Carter occupied and getting some things done myself.  It'll definitely be a challenge, though.

Carter, Jacob, and I have all been sick for around two weeks now.  Nasty colds all around.  Carter seems to have the perma-cold from daycare.  Jacob's got a ton of congestion.  I thought my cold was going away after a week, but then it came on strong again over last weekend.  Two kids, two colds?  I hate seeing the kids sick, and I hate having to power through all the time myself.  I've been falling asleep early while trying to watch TV or get stuff done online, and it's getting frustrating.  Speaking of which, I'm doing to again tonight so that probably means it's time to go to bed again.  Sigh.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nine Months / 15 Years

On Friday Carter turned nine months!  I can't even believe we're 3/4 of the way to one year! 

 
He's so sweet and so smiley, and it's been awesome to watch him discover new things lately.  He's getting better at crawling, can clap and wave, and we're working on high fives!  He's so curious and determined, and we will have our hands full, for sure!  We love him so much...and so does everyone else, apparently!
 
This weekend was a crazy one all around.  Friday night we went out to dinner, and Jacob fell asleep on the way there.  We brought his gluten-free pizza home with us, and when he woke up at home he had a couple pieces and didn't go to bed until late.  Saturday morning Craig had an appearance for work, and I spent the morning cleaning and packing.  My college roommate Mary was arriving around noon, and shortly after we were taking off for Buffalo for a concert.  One of our favorite bands for college was playing.  The band, Five Iron Frenzy, was, as one of our friends put it, the soundtrack to our college years, and they broke up about seven or eight years ago.  Well...a couple years or so ago, they decided to reunite and set up a Kickstarter campaign (basically, crowd-funding) and collected what they were seeking in a matter of hours.  Clearly there was a market for a new album!  The album comes out in less than two weeks, and they've been on tour with a few other ska bands.  It's a bit different for them to do a secular tour, as opposed to hitting up Christian venues, but it is a great opportunity for them.  Well, when word got out that they would be coming to Buffalo, instantly we knew we had to go.  So a couple people spearheaded it and a good-sized group of us (maybe 20?) met up for the show.  Jacob had a lacrosse game, so I left him in Rochester with Craig, and Carter came with Mary and me to Buffalo to stay with Grandma and Grandpa.  Unfortunately he picked yesterday to start getting some serious separation anxiety and they had a bit of a rough evening, but they survived.  The concert was amazing, even if Five Iron didn't play nearly long enough (they were the third of four acts, with Reel Big Fish as the headliner).  We got to meet some members of the band afterward, and simply hearing some of those songs live again was awesome and surreal.  They were just as good as always--an energetic lead singer, awesome brass, great songs.  We had a blast seeing people we hadn't seen in a while, catching up, reminiscing, and dancing along to the music.  It was truly great to step back in time about 15 years or so, to when they were the core of our college music experience.  Dance parties, concerts, study sessions...you name it, we listened to them.  It was fun to leave the kids behind and run off to a concert in a big group again, just like we did in school.  Heck, once we even caravanned to Cleveland for a show!  This time we even had one couple that came in from the Adirondacks, and were it not for his daughter getting sick, one guy was going to come in from D.C.  It was awesome.  Mary, Carter, and I slept at my parents (we didn't get home until about 2am thanks to a late night snack), then took off for church in Geneseo, for old time's sake.  We didn't get to see our college pastor, but it was nice to be back and see a lot of familiar faces (and lots of students) floating around.  We ate pizza at Mama Mia's, then headed back home.  Mary left right away (did I mention how awesome it was to see her for the first time in over a year?  It was!) because I had to pack up and get us ready to drive back to Buffalo for Craig's Nana's birthday party.  I know it's awful to do that drive literally back-to-back, but she's 94 and each one is special now.  It's also been a couple months since I last saw Craig's family, so it was overdue.  There wasn't any way to really meet there, though, since Mary was with me, so it was a lot of traveling, for sure.  But the evening was fun and Carter's cousins and Nana absolutely loved him!  We got back a little before 10, and thank goodness both kids slept most of the way.  Carter needed a nap prior to his bedtime bottle, and Jacob really needed the sleep.  I'm exhausted, though, and trying to push through to get a few things done.  It's going to storm here anyway shortly (hello, 65 degree day in November.  You always come with a price!), so I'm not sure what good it will do to go to bed! 
 
But I need to try, I guess!  It was a fun weekend, but in cause there was any doubt, I am not still 20, and my body knows it!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Disconnect

One of the hardest things about Jacob's difficulties these days is that I feel so disconnected from him.  Part of that is because he barely lets me get near him without beating on me, and part of it is because Craig does his best to manage him and shield me from the ridiculousness.  It saddens me when I think of how Jacob and I were once nearly inseparable, much like Carter and I are now.  He smiled every time he saw me, stopped crying when I picked him up, came to me when I arrived at daycare, and spent every waking moment wanting to be near me in some form.  And while I knew some of that would wane as he got older and Daddy became cooler (in part because he's his sports buddy), obviously I never imagined the situation we're in. 

The other night Craig and I had a little bit of a tiff because we both forgot to send something into school that Jacob needed.  Craig has been managing a lot of Jacob's schoolwork lately, for a lot of reasons.  Jacob likes to be with him more, Craig has more patience, and it just sort of works out that he can work with him on homework while I cook dinner, or before I get home, if he picks Jacob up a little early.  As a result, he's been the one cleaning out his take-home folder every night.  He's been leaving the papers in a pile on our very messy dining room table, and I'll be honest, there are so many piles of papers (old assignments, artwork, notes, etc.) and I have so many things I'm trying to get handled in the evenings that I don't always get to the piles to see what's important.  Well, the one note slipped both our minds after the initial reading, and we felt so bad when we realized we missed the due date.  Craig was annoyed with me because I'm not that involved with Jacob anymore, and I was annoyed with him because leaving the note in a pile of papers is not helpful when I've got a million other things going on.  Obviously we were both at fault and we need a better system.  But believe me, I hate that I'm so disconnected from Jacob right now.  I want to be talking to him and snuggling with him and playing with him.  But so many interactions end up with him hitting me (even in "fun", or so he thinks--despite our insistence otherwise), or yelling at me, or stomping off, or just acting plain weird, and it's hard to bond with a kid like that.

The fact is, I don't love him any less, but I feel like that love is sort of, well, in hibernation.  I think this is the case for a few reasons.  First, he won't let me express my love to him.  I can barely hug him without getting hit.  I try to talk to him, and he walks away, yells, or ignores me.  I'm hesitant to buy him anything to show that I'm thinking of him, because he acts spoiled and entitled a lot of the time. 

By the way, just yesterday, as we were doing his "What I'm Thankful For" homework, he said he wasn't thankful for anything.  When I challenged him on that, he said he'd be fine if he didn't have a house, family, toys, or even food and water.  I tried to explain to him the suffering going on in the Philippines right now, that kids just like him are experiencing that very reality, and he kept trying to play it off as not a big deal, like how he'd be the exception.  It's hard to have a meaningful conversation with your kid when they dismiss everything you say and don't appreciate what they have.

The second reason is because there aren't a lot of good moments to celebrate right now.  I mean, when I think of how things are with Carter at the moment, I tell that kid I love him a dozen times a day.  Aside from just being my little piece of sanity and bliss, he's such a little sponge right now.  He's learned how to crawl, perfected clapping, and started waving, all pretty much in the past week.  He's so cute, sweet, and funny, and I'm just so proud of all he's learning.  He brings me so much happiness and I often express that joy by telling him how much I love him.  As far as Jacob is concerned, I would gladly do that for him as well, but there's just not much to applaud.  I know he's learning at school, and when he illustrates that for us, I definitely praise him as much as I can.  I love to see him identify words, do math, or draw a cool picture.  But we don't see too much of it, or if we do, it's too often accompanied by the less enjoyable traits he's been displaying lately.  No matter how hard we try to find the good in what he does, there is usually so much bad that it overshadows everything.  It's not that I love him any less, but I do have to dig a little harder to find the lovable traits, and some days that's just hard.

Finally, I think to some degree it's a defense mechanism.  To be gushingly in love with your child only to be repeatedly rejected and attacked...well, it's simply heartbreaking.  And based on my own experience, that can only go on for so long before it just breaks you.  So the walls go up, to some degree.  It is a means of self-preservation.  You almost have to treat it like a business transaction--do what you've got to do, get in and get out, nothing more.  I'm not saying that you're a jerk or even a robot, but right now, the simpler and quicker the better.  While I'd love to give him kisses and hugs, I settle for polite conversation.  While I'd love to encourage him to draw elaborate drawings in his homework, the reality is that we need him to get it done as soon as possible, before a random meltdown derails the whole thing.  So while I'd love to shower him with affection and encourage him to excel, those things only lead to disaster right now, and it's not worth the disappointment time and time again.  I'll always try to make sure he knows that I love him, but I have to keep my expectations low and take what I can get.

I want to emphasize that I love Jacob so much.  So much that what we're going through right now hurts terribly.  I'm moved to tears just thinking about it, almost every day.  Despite the anger, frustration, and sadness that I feel in the midst of his tantrums and all of our struggles, I want so much more for him, and so much more for the rest of us.  He's missing out on a lot of love, affection, and fun, and we're missing out on enjoying the amazing kid we know he can be.  We don't know what stole that away from us, but we're doing everything in our power to get it back.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Video Wednesday

Just a quick one today...two fun videos of our silly little Carter! 

First up is a video I tried to take of him crawling, but he ended up just cracking up instead, and it is SO cute...


I love that laugh so much!  And speaking of which...here's another dose.  But there's a backstory to this one.  So, pretty much for the last many months, probably five months or so, Carter has had a tendency to take his bib and put it up over his face.  I'm not sure why he does it, but he does it all the time.  For the longest time he would freak out like he was being suffocated.  He'd do it every time, and when you pulled the bib off his face, he'd chill out...and then do it all over again!  Lately he's been doing it with blankets and burp cloths, too, but with one added feature...now he laughs!  Instead of panicking, he laughs hysterically!  Since I had been meaning to get the bib trick on video for ages and hadn't, I decided I had to get the current iteration on video.  So, here it is...



He's so funny sometimes.  His other recent trick is clapping.  He started doing it a bit a month or so ago, but in the past few days he's been doing it a lot, and you can tell he knows what he's doing now.  It's so cute!  The other recent development is that he almost seems to be waving!  It's hard to tell if it's just him randomly waving his arm at the right time, or if he's officially picked it up, but it's been fun just thinking that maybe he's doing it on purpose!  He's so sweet and I just can't get enough of him...though chasing him down is getting to be a challenge now!

Oh, and we're up to day three of oatmeal with no reactions yet.  He did wake up once tonight whining, which could be a gas thing, but we'll just have to see.  It took a week last time so we still have a ways to go, but fingers crossed.  God knows we need a grain or two to work with!

Not much to report on Jacob.  No real change in his behavior yet.  We're almost up to three weeks on the diet and I'd have hoped to see at least a small light at the end of the tunnel, but not yet.  He's still violent and his episodes may be worse than before.  However, when he's not having one, I'd almost venture to say that he's slightly better.  But those moments are fewer and farther between than we'd like them to be, and it's hard to tell if it's an isolated occurrence or not.  I'm trying to be patient, but it is not easy.

And one last note...another random factoid...One year ago tomorrow was my car accident.  Hard to believe it's been a year already!  I would definitely like to put that memory as far away as possible, but it's amazing to think about where we were a year ago and all we've been through since.  Time has definitely flown.  That said, I was thinking the other day that despite the joy of Carter's birth, for once I will be genuinely happy to bid farewell to this year.  It has been a hard one, for sure.  A fresh start in 2014 is definitely going to be something to aim for. 

But for now, I'll enjoy the smiles and giggles from our tiniest family member, and that should help get us through!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Gluten-Free Experience

The whole gluten-free thing has been an interesting experience.  It's not all bad, but it is definitely not ideal.  It is so strange to go to the grocery store and have to shop completely differently than before.  I skip entire aisles, ignore sections I used to frequent, and spend a lot of time reading labels.  It's hard to pass by certain foods or look with new eyes at everything else to come up with meals we can eat.  My list is still pretty short, but I'm trying. 

I definitely miss being able to eat out on a whim, or eat out in general.  The places we can go are really limited, and even at the places we can go, it's hard to know whether or not Jacob will eat whatever is available.  I mean, I know that a place like Chili's offers a grilled chicken breast or a burger with no bun, but will he eat it?  And given his extra negativity and stubbornness lately, it's usually a total crapshoot from day to day.  I drive by a dozen restaurants every day (and I really need to turn off some email subscriptions) and I long for so many places (like the Moe's that just opened up five minutes from our house), but most of them are off-limits now.  It's not just the food, but the fun of the adventure and the ease of not having to cook or think up yet another meal.  Though I will say, the stress of finding somewhere to eat safely does encourage me to cook at home more than I thought it would.

I suppose it's good we're saving that money, since gluten-free food costs so much more.  I know people are all, "Eat naturally!", "No processed food!", blah, blah, blah when it comes to eating gluten-free, but let's face it.  I'm a working mom who has a window of about an hour max to get dinner on the table each night before totally throwing off our schedule for the evening.  I can't make everything from scratch.  I'm doing my darnedest to explore new frontiers of cooking.  I did a pork tenderloin on a weeknight last week, and baked potatoes have become a staple.  I did a stirfry the other night with chicken, broccoli, a little edamame (soybeans--I like them but Jacob wasn't too enthused), and Wegmans stirfry sauce, which apparently has no soy sauce, as it is gluten-free.  Jacob didn't really love it, but again, it's hard to know if he's just being difficult or legitimately hates it.  I made a pizza crust from a mix last Friday (mixed reviews on that one) and I've doctored a few of my go-to recipes pretty successfully.  Tonight I did sweet potato fries, which I sort of messed up, but Jacob liked them anyway.

I'm still relying on a lot of convenience products, however.  Jacob's lunches are particularly tough in that regard.  I usually send him a sandwich and two sides for lunch, plus one afternoon snack during school and another for after school, so he doesn't get tempted to eat what they're offering.  Usually it's some assortment of yogurt, applesauce, or pudding; pretzels or another salty/savory snack; an apple; a granola bar or some sort of gluten-free cookies.  He's shot down the gluten-free cracker-type cookies (Annie's Bunny Cookies (like animal crackers)), which is a bummer since they're among the least unhealthy looking.  He's going through a phase where PB&J is a problem, so the past couple days I've sent cheese and crackers.  Better than the crappy, processed Lunchables, right?  But really, there are only so many things he will eat and that will keep in a lunchbox and aren't a pain to prepare.  Those bento box moms are great, but I'm not sure my kid will eat baby carrots or cold quinoa or whatever.  He will eat peppers and dip, however, so I should really look into that.  And that, in a nutshell, is the thing about this.  There are options out there, but the challenge is finding the ones that will work for us.  Thinking outside the box isn't easy, but finding the out-of-the-box ideas that fit with our tastes and time-constraints is even harder.

Of course, since Carter's visit to the allergist last week, I'm becoming increasingly more panicked about what the heck that poor kid is going to eat.  A rice sensitivity by itself wouldn't be a big deal.  But a rice sensitivity in a household where rice flour is in almost everything we consume?  Impossible.  I'm pretty much facing two or three years of double meals and an ongoing risk of cross-contamination.  Originally I wanted to mostly strip my kitchen of all gluten-containing items, unless I had to do something specific--say, the monkey bread my office loves.  I can clean hardcore after one cooking session, after all.  But am I going to be forced to keep regular bread in my house?  Or snacks that Jacob can't go near?  I had already resigned myself to the fact that birthdays might always include two cakes--one gluten free and one not--but now I know that Carter can't eat the gluten-free cake, and depending on how things go with the other grains and dairy, maybe none at all.  I started him on oatmeal last night.  It took a week for him to start reacting to rice cereal, so we'll see how this goes.  Once we're comfortable with that, I'm going to try adding a small scoop of gentle formula to what he's drinking now to see how he reacts to dairy.  I did that around six months and he seemed uncomfortable, but that could just be because he ended up getting teeth right after that.  I didn't take any chances, though, and vowed to try again at nine months, which is next week.  But I want to get firmly settled with the oatmeal before I try that.  I have another few weeks of his usual formula on hand, so I'm not really in a rush for that.  Still, it would be nice to know dairy is okay, since it opens up the option of yogurt, cheese, and those crunchy yogurt drops. 

Part of me is debating pushing the allergist a little harder on whether there is anything else we can do. I'd rather not just sit around and drive myself crazy until he's three and we can try him on rice again.  If we can test earlier, or if there's some sort of blood test, or if we can do a gradual introduction thing to get his body used to it...I will try anything to make things easier sooner.  While circumstantial evidence certainly points to the rice, I can't help but wonder if there was anything else that could have caused it.  I doubt it, but now that the stakes are so much higher, I find myself wondering.  What if he outgrows it sooner?  Is it worth testing in a few months to see if he's better, or is that just mean?  I don't know.  I'm just overwhelmed when I see all of the baby foods that include rice, and I worry about what happens if other grains cause issues, as well.  It's just a lot to think about, and I don't want one kid's diet to make the other one sick. 

On one hand I feel like I'm handling this with more grace that I thought, but on the other I still have all of these panicky moments and wish I had more time to search for recipes and tips so I could plan our meals better.  I'm doing what I can, but it's still a bit of a scary world for me.  I just wish the diet was helping Jacob's behavior so I could really feel like all of this was more rewarding.  I know it's important for his health regardless, but a tangible result would have been nice, too.  Maybe someday.  I just never imagined I would ever resent grains as much as I do right now.  Arg.

I'll end this post with a fun little factoid.  Six years ago tonight I found out I was pregnant with Jacob.  It's hard to believe.  Our lives were never the same, that's for sure.  The nausea and exhaustion were quick to follow, and the rest of the pregnancy was quite an experience!  Things haven't slowed down since, and it's been quite the crazy five-plus years since he was born.  I sure as heck never thought this would be our situation six years later, but God willing it will get better and we'll look back on this time wondering how we ever did it.  Let's hope.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weekend of Firsts

What a weekend it's been!  We've pretty much had a little of everything, I think.  Mostly good, I guess, but busy! 

Saturday was non-stop.  First up was the opening of the new wing at our mall.  Craig and Jacob went first because the Knighthawks mascot was going to be there, and Carter and I showed up a little later.  We all walked around the mall a bit, then tried to figure out lunch, which takes on a whole new level of difficulty now that Jacob is gluten-free.  There are very few options in the fast food realm.  Eventually there will be a Red Robin in our mall, which will be great, but we won't always have time for that.  Jacob ended up eating Arby's roast beef minus the bun, along with apples and milk.  Not ideal, but it was about the best we could do.  After lunch the guys took off because they had to get to Jacob's first lacrosse game!  Carter and I walked around the mall a bit more as I tried to scout out things as I try to slowly transition my wardrobe to a more mature, polished, age-appropriate one.  No luck, however.  We had one more stop at the mall to buy a small gift for the event we were attending in the evening, and ran into a couple people on our way out of the mall, on our way to Jacob's game.

Jacob's first practice was last Tuesday, and the whole thing is a little intimidating.  Most kids are older and bigger than him, but the bright spot is that the son of his summer baseball coach is also on his team, and he's even smaller (though not younger) than Jacob.  He's also got some, shall we say, attention issues, so it's probably good they have each other.  I likened it to my friendship with my friend Heather back when we were kids, because we were both the smallest kids in the class and we had each other so we didn't feel quite as alone.  Anyway, we weren't sure how this game was going to go since his skills weren't quite up to the level of the other kids, but he did get to play and it wasn't a total disaster or anything.  He actually got hit in the head once, and it drew a penalty.  He was pretty proud of that.  He had one breakaway and the ball got flipped out of his stick at the last minute.  It wasn't anything stellar, but he survived!  Here are a couple pictures... 

He's the one in white and orange.  Notice the socks--he insisted on wearing black dress socks, and one apparently slid down.  Oy.

Notice the size difference...but still, he held his own...enough.
His team kicked the crap out of the other team, and I said to Craig that it would be interesting to see how he'd do on the other team, where there is obviously far less talent.  It's the team from the next town over, and while I don't think we'd leave the organization he's with now, it's intriguing.  Given a year or two like the bigger kids, he may end up just as good as them. 

We headed home after the game and got things organized a bit prior to Craig and I taking off for our evening activity, the vow renewal of friends of ours.  The boys played outside a bit, and then Lori came to watch the kids.  We had talked it up all week, but we kept our fingers crossed that Jacob wouldn't freak out too badly.  Fortunately, things seemed to go relatively well.  It was nice having an evening out together.  Our friends, who are big Knighthawks fans, have been married 10 years and decided to renew their vows.  They did it at a restaurant downtown that's sort of the Knighthawks' unofficial hangout.  It was low key but lovely.  Craig brought the Cup in for the night, which they were very excited about...

After the ceremony, a few drinks, dinner, and a couple cupcakes, we headed home.  Both kids were awake when we got there.  Jacob was going down, and Carter just needed his bedtime bottle.  It was good to get some bonus Carter time, but eventually off to bed we went as well after a very busy day.

This morning I woke up feeling a little sub-par.  But I got ready for church and worked on getting the kids ready, too.  Craig had a player appearance this morning so he couldn't go with us, but he worked hard getting Jacob ready for church.  Well, he was completely uncooperative, violent as usual, and generally impossible.  We ended up missing church because we simply could not get out of the house on time.  We could have gone to the late service, but we'd have missed Sunday School, and by 11am I was starting to feel extra crappy.  Over the course of the day it became apparent that I had a cold.  I took a desperate nap (or decent doze session, given Jacob's volume level), just to try to function.  I got a couple bursts of energy to put away the absurd amount of 12 month clothing I got out for Carter (a TON of hand-me-downs from his cousins and Jacob combined--most don't fit yet but some do) and to hang up the framed needlepoints of the boys' names that our friend's wife did a few weeks back.  I have about a dozen other things I would have liked to do today, but this cold definitely knocked me on my butt, completely without warning. 

The other big thing this weekend is that Carter is officially crawling!  He's still not that good at it, but he can definitely get where he's going even if he hasn't perfected his form yet.  He does crawl, but he's much more effective with launching forward, rolling, and scooting.  But I definitely saw the legs moving the way they needed to, and he is now trying to get into everything.  Yesterday he was going for the table hockey game, and today he had Legos as his bait.  He'll also do what he can to get the remote control, my iPod, the camera, or anything else off-limits.  He's still working on pulling up on the Incrediblock, but he's definitely getting much better at standing up there once he's up.  He's very curious and determined, so we have our hands full now.  The pack-n-play is going to be seeing a lot more activity now!  In case you're wondering, he's about three weeks ahead of Jacob.  Jacob started at 9-1/2 months, and Carter is a week shy of nine months.  Hard to believe!

I'll have some videos to share soon (more of Carter's insane cuteness than crawling), but didn't have a chance to upload it yet.  I also snapped a picture of Jacob to make sure he's not left out...

He played a lot with his Legos today, which was good, and the guys had a short stint outside, too.  It took Jacob so long to get himself ready that they barely got it in before it was dark out!

So, it was a busy weekend with a couple firsts and plenty of other events to keep us busy.  Next weekend should be interesting, too, but we have another long week ahead before that.  Wish us luck...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Carter Health Update

With all that's been going on with Jacob, Carter's issues have definitely fallen by the wayside a bit.  Of course, it helps immensely that he's a ridiculously happy baby and you'd never know anything was up with him.  As you may recall, back in August and early September, we had issues where he was projectile vomiting his bedtime bottle after eating a helping of rice cereal earlier in the evening.  I did a bunch of research online to see what I could find out, and the only thing I could find was something called FPIES.  It's basically a food protein intolerance issue.  It's not an allergy that would cause anaphylaxis, but rather the body simply can't process the food and rejects it.  There were lots of scary stories online about kids who vomited violently, ended up in the emergency room, and some who went into shock.  While I didn't necessarily think Carter was in that category, it was scary that it could happen. 

For those first few weeks I was very slow and deliberate about introducing new foods because I was scared that he would react to those as well.  I purposely avoided other grains since there was a chance he'd have reactions to those, too.  But we've done a lot of fruits and vegetables, along with meats.  So far there have been no reactions, though meats tend to give him brutal constipation.  He doesn't seem super uncomfortable, mind you (see: ridiculously happy baby), but it's heartbreaking to see him push periodically and have nothing come out, and it's a bit messy dealing with what comes out once he finally breaks through. 

He seems to like eating well enough, but I feel like he's a bit behind right now when it comes to eating in general.  Initially I was definitely a bit slower in bringing in new foods, and I often kept the volume down because I didn't want to overload him--both because I was afraid too much of a potential trigger food might make the reaction worse, and because I didn't want to fill his belly too much before his night bottle.  That's still his main source of nutrition, and given his history of spitting up, I also didn't want to overfill him between the two.  It's a tough balance to find a good time to feed him without spoiling other meals.  Add in his medicine that needs to be administered on an empty stomach 30 minutes before eating, and it gets extra complicated.

Because he's been sort of slow to get into the food, I feel like he's not eating as much as most kids.  I cringe a little bit when I see the bowl of food that a kid at daycare eats, and he's only a month older (but much bigger!).  It's probably three times more than what Carter has ever eaten.  I looked at an online guide to solid foods, and he's definitely eating considerably less than most kids his age.  To make matters worse, I can't seem to get him to eat true solid food to save my life.  The purees are fine, though he seems less sure about carrots, as they seem to make him gag a bit.  One day I cooked him up a few peas.  I even shelled them so he had the tiny little pea pieces, and gave him one.  He gagged on it and nearly threw up.  The other night we had baked potatoes so I picked off a couple small pieces of plain potato and put one in his mouth.  He gummed it for a bit, but again, he gagged on it and ended up bringing back up some of his carrots and chicken in the process.  I felt so bad for him!  So now I'm stumped and worried that he's got a gag reflex problem.  Ever hear of those people whose kids won't eat anything because of texture issues and how they'll literally gag on everything until they throw up?  I'm not saying he's going to be one of those kids, but now I'm worried that he's at least a little extra sensitive to it.  Of all the million things I blogged about when Jacob was a baby, I don't think I ever posted in detail how I got Jacob to learn how to chew and swallow solid food.  Probably because you can't actually teach it and they just need to figure it out.  I know Jacob had a few choking/gagging episodes over the years, but I don't remember them being quite like Carter's, which are actually a little scary.  He gags, turns red, and then eventually gets it up...perhaps with other contents of his stomach.  I've tried two of the softest things I can think of, and it still happened.  So now I'm nervous and I have no idea what to try next.

Anyway...back to the original point of this post.  Yesterday morning Carter and I went to the allergist to chat about my suspicions.  I've been to this doctor before, more than two years ago when I tried to do something about my missing sense of smell and taste.  He was great, and I hope to sometime soon go back and start getting allergy shots.  He did confirm today that I wouldn't need additional testing to start, so that's good news.  Anyway, my goal for the meeting was to see if we could get a diagnosis, test for anything concrete, and get an action plan for introducing new things without torturing Carter.  All in all, it went well.  I gave the doctor the history, and they ended up doing a handful of skin tests on him.  He barely flinched when they did it.  They tested for a bunch of grains, as well as milk and soy, given his experience with the cow's milk protein issue.  All of the tests came back negative, meaning he's not allergic to anything.  That's good news, but it's a totally separate issue from the rice intolerance.  They can't really test for the intolerances, so we pretty much have to avoid rice for the next few years, then go into the office for a reintroduction test.  They want him there to treat him just in case his reaction is severe.  He did say, however, that the odds of him having issues with other grains would be rare so we're free to give it a shot.  I'm still nervous, but I guess we'll just have to try and wear drop cloths!  He also said that it's probably not FPIES, as most of those kids have very severe reactions, but that it is an FPIES-like reaction in that it operates along the same lines.

So...the tricky part is that rice is one thing Jacob can eat, so I'll be making some double meals once in a while.  Rice flour is in a lot of gluten-free stuff, so it's going to be a tough balance.  But Carter will outgrow this, and just like with Celiac, it's not an allergy...so as long as my child's life is not at risk, I'll deal!  The stinky thing is that there are an awful lot of baby foods that include rice.  From baby food meals to Gerber Puffs and Baby Mum Mum biscuits, a lot of previous go-to stuff is out.  And that's assuming there are no other intolerances like wheat or oats.  It's going to be a challenge, but we'll figure it out. 

One day at a time is becoming quite the mantra around here...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hard

The past couple days have been HARD.  For a while we thought the gluten-free diet might be working.  A little, at least.  Jacob was very normal and fun in between tantrums, so we were hoping it was just a matter of time.  But the last couple days have been horrific.  Jacob admitted to Craig this morning that he's been throwing out his sandwich at lunch the last couple days, so maybe nutritional deficiencies are part of it, but it's hard to tell.  The sandwich thing is killing me, by the way.  For some reason Jacob has started associating his daily PB&J with making him sick.  Granted, he didn't feel well late last week, but I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with the sandwich.  He loves PB&J, always has.  But now, even when I changed jelly flavors to get him off this kick, he's still convinced.  This puts me in a bad spot because I don't know what else to send with him.  He's very picky and his options are even more limited now that he's gluten-free.  I've thought about cheese and crackers, sort of a homemade lunchables sort of thing, and I may try that, but geez.  Once this kid gets something in his head, it is so hard to get it out.

And, that, my friends, is the root of most of our problems.  If it's not done Jacob's way, he's not doing it.  Which means homework time is torture, getting ready for school and bed are impossible, and convincing him of anything (even how to spell a word) is ridiculous.  Homework that should have taken him 20 minutes took about an hour each of the last two nights simply because he was arguing endlessly with us about the fact that "cream" should start with "K" (for something asking the color of our house) or what a lower case "d" should look like.  He'd argue, get angry, throw his paper, and walk away from the table.  He won't believe us when we tell him anything, no matter how simple, and even though we try to gently tell him, he freaks out about being wrong.  Or he insists we're wrong.  All of this is fraught with hitting, kicking, head-butting, and all-out wrestling, if it gets bad enough.  Craig has taken to doing a full-body pin when Jacob won't stop hitting him, until Jacob stops.  It is brutal.

We're taking a beating, physically and emotionally.  And of course, even if spankings did impact him (which they don't--they only make things worse), we'd still be on the losing end of things.  Intimidation, punishment, gentle talking, incentives...none of it works.  The beatings continue, nearly constant in the middle of an episode, and don't subside until the switch flips and he chills out.  That is unpredictable and impossible to figure out.  His brain is clearly messed up, and we are powerless to manage it right now.  We're both exhausted.  Craig is taking the brunt of it, mostly because he has more patience and he doesn't want me to get beaten on.  I'm grateful, but the guilt on my side is pretty bad, too.  I worry endlessly about Carter, as well, and how all of this is going to impact him.  It's not good for him to hear the yelling, and I don't like him to see the hitting or kicking.  He may not be able to process it right now, but that doesn't stop it from having an impact.  And God forbid Jacob snaps one level further and decides to take things out on Carter.  I would never forgive myself.

I take a little comfort in the fact he's not really violent at school, or really with other people, but that just makes the problem more complex.  What is it about us that makes him so angry with us, to the point where he's out of control, but then he keeps himself in check (mostly) at school?  Could he do that if he had a legitimate illness, or is some of this within his control and he's choosing not to control it when he's around us?

The past couple days convinced us that we had to take a couple extra steps toward getting him some help.  Craig called the pediatrician, and I called the school counselor to check the status of his school district evaluation.  Both sources gave us similar looking packets of paperwork to fill out.  They both have a lot of questions about his behaviors and tendencies.  It's going to be brutal to fill out.  But one will lead to an ADHD diagnosis from his doctor, and the other will get him help at school.  And if we need more from there, we'll see.  I'm really starting to think he's going to need medication to get through this, because he seems so far beyond what I would think a gluten-free diet can impact. 

I can't quite express the pain and sadness that goes with a situation like this.  Being so disconnected from your child and having nearly every moment with them turn into a battle is just horrible.  Having Carter around has reminded me how close Jacob and I once were, and it breaks my heart that things have spiraled so far downward.  I worry about Carter, too, knowing that things can go from perfect to horrible, and pray that he will never go through all that Jacob is battling right now.  I want to know what it's like to raise a "normal" kid who won't fight us on everything.  Maybe that's not fair, but this has been a long road and I find myself increasingly jealous of my friends who tell stories and share pictures of their normal kids having fun.  I find myself looking at old pictures of Jacob and feel sad knowing that the happy little boy in the pictures is such a mess right now.  Of course, so many of those pictures remind me of how naughty Jacob was at the moment, and how hard it was to get that shot.  It hasn't been an easy road, ever, but right now it's worse than ever.  And it breaks my heart.  And Craig's heart.  We're both so sad.  It's hard to get up in the morning, or motivate ourselves for a long evening of battles.  We just wish for a miracle that would make Jacob the fun-loving, sweet kid he once was.  People still see it--just tonight one of the afterschool helpers told me how much she enjoys him.  His daycare teachers still love him, despite all the ridiculousness he pulled there.  And of course, we still love him too.  This wouldn't hurt so bad if we didn't.  It's just hard to want to nurture that love when you know that everything you do could be met with resistance, violence, or complete rejection.  Sometimes it just doesn't seem worth the effort.

But if there's one thing I've realized, there's no escape from this.  Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we dropped him off at a psych ward or something.  It truly feels like we can't handle the beatings or the constant struggles, and that seems like one way he might realize the seriousness of his issue.  But he might feel abandoned and never forgive us.  There's just no good answer right now.  Waiting it out is killing us, but there's no way to magically fix this.  So we wait and pray and hope to keep our tempers intact for one more day.  But it's harder than we could have ever imagined. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Other Side of Mom Guilt

Work has been crazy lately.  As of the first of the year we will officially take on the biggest client we could possibly get (no, seriously, we're pretty sure that for one of our lines of business, they are THE biggest advertiser in the industry), but we are doing a ton of work in the interim to get ready for the switch.  We found out we got the business at the end of August, and it's been pretty much non-stop ever since.  The good news is that it will be a great windfall for the company and proves how good of a company we are.  The bad news is that there won't be any initial financial benefit for us minions, and we will be putting in a lot of work before that ever happens.  And really, that's assuming everyone sticks around long enough, because right now I am a tiny bit nervous about that fact.  Burnout is going to be an issue, no doubt.

While normally my mom guilt rants have to do with how I feel like I can't be there for my kids enough, right now that feeling is dwarfed by my guilt for not being able to do more at work.  Eight years ago I was working for multiple sports teams, putting in work weeks of 60+ plus hours at times.  I knew that with both Craig and me working a schedule like that, there was no way we could have kids.  Eventually I got so fed up with my job that I had no choice but to find a new one (or go insane), which I did.  And when I came here, it was a happy 40-hour per week job, end of story.  No worrying about work while at home, very few extended hours, no weekends.  If I needed to work late to get a certain project done, that was fine, but it didn't happen too often.  My boss has always put in a ton of hours, but a lot of that included travel and weird meeting times, and it was never an expectation to work more than the normal 40-hour week.

Once I had Jacob, it became a little harder to work long hours.  I had to make daycare pickup by 6pm most days, particularly when Craig's schedule was full.  I try to get to the gym right after work one day per week for class, too, and in the end, there just isn't a lot of time to stay late.  And when I do, I'm rushing home to make dinner and spend a small amount of time with my family before bedtime hits.  I don't like doing that but realize that it has to happen every once in a while.

Well, now we have this giant client and we're all way overloaded with work.  I have a lot of related projects coming across my desk at any given moment, and it means that everything that was already on my desk is getting pushed off.  Which means that most of my usual due dates aren't being met.  Which is driving me nuts.  One of my weird neurotic things at work is that I always want to be crossing things off my list, so when I get bogged down with one project while knowing that other quicker ones are waiting in the wings, it bothers me.  So knowing that I have a couple days' worth of various overdue quicker projects that I could get done waiting in line behind "urgent" bigger projects drives me crazy.  Even crazier is when there are artificial deadlines put on longer term projects, and even though those don't really NEED to be met, I'm still being told those take priority over the stuff that really should be getting done now, even though there would be time to do the other stuff later.  Ugh.

On top of that, I'm watching the other members of my department, including our intern, working extra hours to get their stuff done.  While it's not impossible for me to do that, it is very challenging.  As I mentioned, I need to be to daycare at 6pm.  Jacob's afterschool program is also a 6pm end time.  So now, on days where I have to get both kids, I have to be walking out the door at 5:15.  Some people would say to come in earlier, but a) I am always exhausted and getting up earlier is hard; and b) I don't want to have to dramatically change Carter's schedule or leave Jacob and Craig completely on their own.  Other people are impacted by my schedule, and they're not always the most flexible people, if you know what I mean.

I rely on Craig to get the kids enough already, and that's not always going to be an option once his work schedule ramps up.  Add in Jacob's lacrosse practices and my once-a-week workout (which is as much a mental health thing for me as physical), and the flexibility is very limited.  Sometimes people come in on weekends, which I might be able to pull off once in a while, but how much would that stink?  I need my weekends to get stuff done at home, and oh, spend time with my kids who I already don't see enough.  I've decided that one of the fundamental differences between Craig and me (and probably one of the things we butt heads about the most) is that he sees weekends as a time to relax and rest, and I see them as the only opportunity to have multiple chunks of time to get done the things I can never accomplish on weekday evenings.  So where I go into a weekend with a to do list a mile long, the top item on his is usually a nap.  And I get it--he needs it, and he does accomplish other things, too, but the nap is very high on his list.  Half the time I'm lucky if I sit down.

I've said it a million times before--there just aren't enough hours in the day.  I'd gladly work longer if I could still go home and spend the same amount of time with my family and still get a decent night's sleep.  It's not the working I have an issue with; rather, it's all of the other million things at home waiting for me with equal urgency and less hours to do them.  And normally the guilt that gets me is that I can't do those things.  But right now I'm feeling at least as much guilt about not being able to be as helpful at work.  I like the people I work with and don't want to add any stress to their lives.  It was bad enough when I was out on maternity leave and all hell broke loose.  But now that I'm back and can't seem to put in the same amount of time, it's definitely hard.  As much as people go back and forth about stereotypes of working people who have kids, there's no denying they change things.  Before it was just you and maybe your spouse.  You could miss a meal or an event if you had to.  It stunk, but you could do it.  Same goes for a spouse. They're an adult and can manage their disappointment or pick up some take-out.  But with kids, you have a lot more to consider.  You have to work around their schedules.  You have to take time away for doctor's appointments and sick kids.  You have to be cognizant of what events (mealtimes, activities) might crop up while you're unavailable, and how difficult it will be for your spouse to deal with that.  Sometimes you're stuck in an impossible situation and you simply can't do it.  Either way you're letting someone down.

These days I feel like I'm letting everyone down, including myself.  It's been so hard to keep up with everything, and there aren't enough brain cells or bursts of energy to go around.  It's a bit of a switch to feel as much guilt about getting my work done as taking care of my family, but it's no fun either way.  At least I know that investing in my family is worth the effort (in the long run, or so I hear), so that's a good spot to err, but it's still not fun to know that I may be letting someone down. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Halloween that sort of wasn't...

I feel like everything about this Halloween was rushed or generally considered an afterthought.  While the costumes were bought well ahead, we didn't actually try them on for real until Wednesday night.  Wednesday night was also the night I bought candy and the night we carved our pumpkin.  I also had to make a treat to share at the office, so you can imagine how much fun that was on top of a hellish day at work.  Still, Jacob was relatively cooperative with the pumpkin carving, and in the end it was a collaborative effort.  I had the idea for the mouth, and Jacob suggested the square eyes.  I originally wanted a triangle nose, and after much debate and Craig suggesting a triangle as well, that's what we went with.  I like the finished product... 


 
The pumpkin seeds are still sitting on a bowl on my counter, unrinsed, if that gives you any idea of what the last few days have been like.  I was up pretty late on Wednesday, which didn't really bode well for Halloween itself. 
 
My day at work was crazy again (post coming soon on that) and I ate way too much crap during the course of the day.  Craig picked up Jacob early since he tried to make his Halloween parade (no dice--he got stuck at a player appearance and just missed it), and Jacob wasn't feeling well and ended up taking an hour-long nap.  We ordered in some gluten-free pizza for dinner to make that easier, but Jacob didn't want to eat, and by the time I got home I wasn't much in the mood for food either.  I was rushing to get home and get our pumpkin on the porch, the candy in a bowl, and the boys in their costumes, and fortunately, Craig took care of a couple of those things for me.  We finally settled on the porch to enjoy the warm weather, but it did start to rain, which was a bummer. 
 
In the meantime, I took some pictures of Carter in his costume... 
Hard to see here, but he's a doggie.  The tie is a bone, and the doggie face is on his hat.

Just ignore the fact that one of his booties fell off...and enjoy that they are adorable.
 I had Carter in his stroller on the porch for a while.  I snapped these pictures while we were waiting for our special guest of the evening...
I just love how Carter is watching Jacob here.  That's pretty much how it is most of the time.  I look forward to when Jacob acknowledges him back!

 The best part of this picture is that Jacob is hooking the bowl :)
 So, that special guest?  Yeah, Jacob got to trick-or-treat with the Knighthawks' mascot, R. Thunder!

I don't know whose idea it was originally, but when I was chatting with the mascot's "handler" afterward, he said that he'd always seen other mascots doing it (via Facebook, etc.) and wanted to do it, too.  It was a nice photo op for Craig to post somewhere, and it was fun for Jacob, too.  Unfortunately, the rain and wind picked up shortly after they went out, and a few minutes later Jacob came sprinting back (minus Craig and R. Thunder), afraid he was going to blow away.  Oy.  He ended up getting convinced to go back out a little later, but by then R. Thunder was gone and that trip out didn't last very long either.  I haven't seen what candy he ended up with, but I do know that we have plenty of leftovers ourselves because we didn't have many trick-or-treaters.  We had a few big bunches, and a lot of downtime.

By the time we stayed in for good, I wasn't feeling very well.  Jacob still wasn't feeling great either, and we watched some Charlie Brown (Halloween and otherwise) for a bit before bed.  Carter fell asleep on the floor while he was playing, and I was too sick to do anything about it for a while.  Craig got Jacob ready for bed while I writhed on the couch with a stomachache, and eventually he put Carter in his crib, clothes and all.  He didn't even get his night bottle.  I climbed into bed at 9:30 and spent most of the night tossing and turning, with a few trips to the bathroom for southern hemisphere issues.  I was almost sure I was going to throw up, but in the end I didn't.  I'm so-so today, but at work anyway.

In the meantime, Jacob woke up once and was practically delirious, crying about how he wanted to do Halloween again today, that he wanted a different costume, and a bunch of other randomness.  He still wasn't feeling well, but miraculously he didn't have any other major wakeups.  Carter woke up once and Craig got him changed into his pajamas and rocked him back to sleep relatively quickly.  He came up huge, considering I could barely get out of bed.  Jacob had a dentist appointment this morning that was impossible to reschedule, so I made him go to that and he was still insisting that he didn't feel well enough for school.  Craig made the judgment call to keep him home, but we're going to have to be extra vigilant that this is not a common occurrence.  We do know he's been a little extra tired, complaining of a stomachache and not wanting to eat, so he's probably not entirely faking it.  I don't know if this could in any way be related to going gluten-free (or getting accidentally glutened--though that seems doubtful), but I suppose it's possible.  A lot is going on inside that little body right now, I imagine.  Some people talk about going off dairy for a while as the body can become lactose-intolerant temporarily while it is healing, so that may be something we consider. 

I'm really just hoping for a big reset this weekend.  I have a lot of stuff I want to accomplish around the house before two busy weekends ahead.  Next Saturday we have a vow renewal for friends of ours.  Then we have a birthday party in Craig's family on Sunday, and we were supposed to go to an event at Strong Museum that day, as well, and I have yet to figure out how both things will be happening.  The next weekend I'm going to a concert with a bunch of my college friends in Buffalo.  I was going to take the kids with me to stay at my parents' and give Craig a break, but Jacob's lacrosse (which starts next week) may get in the way of that.  But the house is a bit of a disaster right now and I'm desperately hoping for a few chances to get that stuff cleaned up.  Carter's winter 12 month clothes need to be brought out, too, and I'm a little behind on Jacob's school paperwork.  I need to brainstorm more gluten-free meals, since I've run out of my initial ideas.  I'm sure there's about 12 more things I'm forgetting, but you get the idea. 

So....Halloween was sort of a bust, but I look forward to next year when we'll hopefully have a healthy Jacob (in more ways than one) and Carter will be running around like a maniac and should even be able to enjoy some trick-or-treating himself, even if we don't let him eat all of the candy just yet.  It'll be here before we know it, I have no doubt.  Now, on to November...