Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Finishing Up

Sorry it's taken me so long to do this.  It's turned into an interesting week and this is the first chance I've had.  When I left off we had finished up Christmas in Buffalo and headed home for some time as a family.  We kept things pretty low key, just venturing out here and there but mostly sticking close to home.  Saturday was a rather warm day (pleasant and in the mid-50s) so I took some time to do some raking and cleaning up of our flower beds that probably should have been done a couple months ago.  We gave Jacob a test run on his bike...
Still a ways to go with the riding.  Pedaling is still a challenge for some reason, but we made a little progress.  Coordinating the pedaling AND the steering is new for him.  He can cradle a lacrosse ball, but bike riding...we shall see!
...and Carter got to reunite with his favorites, the lawn mower and the big wheel.

We also figured out that Jacob's bike helmet was too small for him, but it fits Carter!
Always mow safely!
On Sunday my parents came into town, fresh from their trip to Portland, to do our Christmas together.  I was excited because it was my first big family meal I'd ever done.  Seems crazy, but when you're always the one coming into town to the rest of your family, you don't often get the chance.  But I even got to use my grandma's china and I took care of the whole menu--ham, cheesy potatoes, broccoli-rice casserole (left over from Christmas day), corn, gluten-free biscuits, jello with fruit cocktail, and chocolate pudding pie.  My mom brought some gluten-free peanut butter cup cookies, too, and everything turned out great.  It was a low-stress meal and it was fun to host for a change!  Carter was very excited to eat, as evidenced by this picture below... 
Trying to climb into his seat!
After we ate we dove into opening the presents.  I was excited because I knew I was getting new sheets (ones that are deep enough for our mattress) and a new laundry sorter to replace the PVC one we've had since we got married (that Carter has systematically dismantled once the plastic aged a bit).  We all got some great gifts, though, and the kids were excited.  We also opened gifts from my brother's family.  Jacob got a Team France soccer uniform...

...and Carter got a Bills jersey, which you'll see in a bit.  I'll admit that Jacob was in a bit of a funk during present opening because he wanted toys (despite the fact he had so much amazing stuff in his room already!).  He got some books, clothes, and some stocking stuffers, before finally opening his big gift, yet another Playmobil set that goes with other sets he got.  He was very happy!

Carter got a Big Wheel of his own--a smaller one that he should be able to ride more easily than Jacob's old one.
He's wearing his Bills jersey and is holding a set of Lego-esque silverware that he loved!
I was very excited by my gifts for my parents this year.  I first gave my dad a magnet of his favorite painting at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.  I saw it when I was there on my birthday and thought it was a nice gift to remind my dad I'm thinking of him, every day when he walks to the fridge!  We also gave them a Keurig as a birthday-anniversary-Christmas gift.  It's something they'd almost never buy for themselves, but I knew they'd both enjoy it...particularly with the reusable K-cup I got them, as well.  They were pretty excited, so that was fun!

Monday the boys went to daycare so I could have a day to get things done.  They were excited to go, so I didn't feel guilty at all.  Craig and I had a lunch date and I headed out to do some shopping, which was moderately successful.  Yesterday I was home with the boys, and while it's tough to drag Jacob away from his Wii...


...we still had a relatively good day, in part because Carter took a marathon nap, which allowed Jacob and me to watch "A Christmas Story" (Jacob's first time) and I cleared out a ton of newspapers that had piled up.  All was well until after bedtime when we heard a weird cough from Carter's room, and sure enough...he had thrown up.  Sigh.  We tag teamed the cleanup (I did laundry and Craig did a bath) and I slept in Carter's room overnight.  We set up a comforter on the floor with some towels and kept a bucket handy.  He probably had about five or six episodes from 10:00pm to 4:00am.  At one point he hadn't had one in over an hour and a half, but then he had one again.  Then we tried a sip of water later on when he started asking for it, but that came back up shortly thereafter.  That was it, though.  He woke up perky and we were cautious with the water, then Gatorade and water, then small cups of Rice Chex...and he kept it all down.  It was hard to get him to rest, in fact!  Fingers crossed that it doesn't come back--to him or any of the rest of us!  Wouldn't be New Year's around here without someone being sick!  I'm glad it passed quickly, but I hated seeing him so sick!  Here's a pic I took yesterday of him once I finished putting together his new wheels...

We kept a low profile for New Year's Eve, of course.  Craig worked half the day and I ran out this afternoon to use some Kohl's coupons that needed to be used and pick up a couple things at Wegmans.  I came out to see some unexpected snow falling--a few inches so far!  Our dinner plans got thwarted multiple times (first by Carter's illness, then by a couple closed restaurants), but we got through and did a quick toast with non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice right before bed.  Once the boys were in bed I signed us both up for new gym memberships (my gym closed suddenly and a new gym nearby had a great deal ending tonight) and wrote this post.  Midnight is just around the corner and I can't wait to fall into bed after last night's very limited sleep.  But New Year's Eve only comes once a year so I will tough it out!

Hard to believe we're wrapping up another year.  I'd say this year was a little better than last year (Jacob's behavior and Celiac diagnosis were major downers despite Carter's birth and our trip to Disney), but we definitely had more low points this year--Craig's Nana and uncle passed away, my dad's surgery, continued challenges with Jacob, general health issues--but last year was so much harder for me overall.  I won't be too sad to see this year go, but I feel like we're at the point in life where there's always apprehension that each coming year could bring more challenges than good things.  Everyone's getting older, parenting gets harder, and it doesn't feel like we have any big, good stuff on the horizon to specifically look forward to.  But as always, I pray that this year will bring amazing things for us.  We have two amazing kids and great families, and I suppose that the fear of losing any of that can overshadow dreams of how things could get even better.  I guess that's the downside of having so many blessings.  You no longer need to dream of bigger and better because you have enough...but it's easy to worry about losing what you do have.  I don't mean for that to sound like a glass-half-empty thing, but I guess it does.  There's just less need to look ahead when right now is so full of good things.  Hard to explain, but trust me--I am well aware of the many, many good things we have and despite our challenges, I know we have it good right now.  Will a new year threaten that?  Or will we peak too soon?  I guess that's my concern at the end of every year.  But I do hope for the best for all of us.  So here's to 2015...may it bring wonderful things for all of us! 


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas!


After all of the craziness with Jacob being sick and the many late nights of shopping and wrapping leading up to the big day, we made it to Christmas.  Well, Christmas Eve Eve, anyway.  Because of our travels to Buffalo, we always have to do our home gifts early.  There just isn't enough space or creativity to get all of the presents there without "Santa" gifts being seen, so we have no choice but to do them at home a day or two early.  This year we were at least able to be home until Christmas Eve morning, so we could do a real "Christmas morning" at home.  It was much better than what we've done in the past, where Santa comes while the kids are at daycare so we can leave that night and still have a normal morning routine before daycare.
 
We set out some cookies and carrots with milk for Santa...


And once the kids were in bed, the rest of the presents got wrapped and the tree looked like this...

The boys actually slept in pretty good on Christmas Eve morning.  Jacob was up at 7am, and we told him we had to wait until Carter woke up, which happened around 8am.  Carter, of course, woke up with a cough, but he was happy enough so it was time to open gifts!  First the traditional picture on the stairs...

Jacob got a sneak peak of his big gift when he ran to the bathroom first thing in the morning and was excited to finally see it up close...
A bike!
On to stocking stuffers...

Carter probably could have stopped after the first couple stocking stuffers and been happy, but we continued on.  Jacob excitedly hit up his big gifts...one was a Playmobil rock band and stage...it lights up and it hooks up to an MP3 player!

And then he moved on to the other big one, and I happened to catch a great reaction when he opened up the front of the package...

It's a Playmobil castle that he really wanted but was a bit out of the price range until one of Santa's elves found a great deal out of the blue...

For some reason I didn't get pictures of Carter with his big gifts (a Duplo train and a Little People plane), but he loved them and I'll try to catch him playing this week.  One of the favorite gifts of the morning was actually a joint gift--a Hover Ball, which you may have seen on TV.  It's a soccer ball with a flat side that's made for kicking on rugs.  I wasn't sure it would work, but decided it was worth a shot because both boys could enjoy it together.  And for a brief moment, they did!  It worked perfectly and it's a very nice indoor ball alternative since it stays on the floor!  Hopefully there will be more joint playtime to come.

We packed up as quickly as we could and headed out with just enough time to make it to Craig's parents' house and change for 4pm mass.  The service was very nice as usual, with the added bonus of our family presenting the gifts. Ironic, of course, because I can't actually take communion there...but it was nice nonetheless. 

Afterward we went to Craig's aunt's house for the big family gathering.  It was a little different this year without his Uncle Mike, who passed away a month ago, but we still had a nice time and we all got some nice gifts.  Then it was time to head back to Craig's brother's house for the big exchange with the boys' cousins.  Jacob got both of the Lego sets he really wanted...but of course he blinked every single time I tried to take a picture...

Then he got a Playmobil set he really wanted...
He was so excited!

Carter did well, too.  He got clothes, a little train with Ernie on it, a little Duplo set, a whole set of dinosaurs, and a whole set of safari animals.  Both boys did very well.
Carter is kissing the elephant...silly boy!
We had a rather late night that night, not just because of the gift exchange but because of a stand-off with Jacob.  We forgot something at home that we really needed, and he freaked out when we suggested some alternatives.  The stand-off kept us up quite late, past midnight.  Once that was settled I couldn't sleep because there was a terrible windstorm outside.  Most Christmases around here it's cold and snowy, but not this year.  We had wind and thunderstorms instead!  The wind was terrible, with gusts at 65mph.  Two buildings in Buffalo partially collapsed!  We had a couple friends in Rochester with some property damage, though luckily all we came back to was the pinwheel in our front yard missing one petal! 

I finally fell asleep sometime after 3am, and the boys slept until after 9.  We had a lazy morning for the most part, just getting dressed and me preparing a casserole to take over to Craig's brother's for lunch.  Normally we have to leave by 11am to make it to my parents' by noon, but they were spending the holiday in Portland with my brother's family.  It's the first time ever that I've been apart from them on Christmas.  It was fine as I was happy that my niece and nephew got to be with them, but it was definitely...different.  Oh, and did I mention that our sister-in-law was sick with the flu and we didn't see her for even a second over the two days?  That was a bummer, as well.  But we had a nice time nonetheless. 

After a quick lunch we headed off to my extended family's gathering.  It was the usual chaos...lots of people, lots of food, a couple dogs, and the usual big gift exchange.  Jacob got an iTunes gift card that he really wanted and Carter got an awesome dinosaur toy that turns into an excavator (I actually almost got him another one in the line myself, after I got one for my nephew--they're super cool).  Then, some gifts from Santa arrived for the youngest kids!  It was not our doing, I will say that much!  We gave our OK for the special delivery because a couple of the cousins needed a boost in their belief in Santa, but the gifts our kids got were as much of a surprise to us as they were to them.  And boy, did Santa go all out!  Carter got a Leap Frog Innotab 2, and Jacob got--get this--a Wii!  If you recall the Wii U debacle from a couple weeks ago, this was not that, but it was a Wii nonetheless...a refurbished one, at least.  Santa went way overboard, for sure (though the main target of this little plan got an iPhone!), but Jacob is, of course, thrilled.  Carter just goes with the flow.  He spent most of the day with a bit of a fever, but he was in a good mood and I caught this adorable picture of him playing with his cousin Jordan's phone...

We also snapped the annual picture of the next generation (minus a couple who were at their other side of the family this year)...

We headed out after a late dinner and came directly home.  Due to the stand-off the previous night we opted to head back to Rochester instead of staying at my parents' empty house like we originally planned.  It was just as well, I guess.  It gave us the whole next day at home to sort through the gifts and clean up a bit.  We've had a relatively lazy couple days since, which has been much needed for all of us.  Carter is still congested but his fever was gone when he woke up on the 26th.  My throat is finally not sore for the first time in a couple weeks.  Tomorrow my parents are coming in to do our Christmas, and I'm cooking and might actually use my china!  It should be fun to hear all of their stories from their trip and finish off with a few more gifts. 

It was such a crazy rush leading up to the holiday and I'm savoring every moment of not having to do anything right now.  My dishwasher is fixed, we're all home together (for one more day), and I finally have a little time to think!  Of course I have a long list that's been waiting, but I'm not going to stress out.  This week is all about rest and recovery, and that's what I aim to do first and foremost!  Hope everyone had a nice Christmas...enjoy the last week of 2014!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Oh Christmas Week, Oh Christmas Week...

Merry Christmas!  It's the very end of Christmas night, and I clearly have some catching up to do.  The week before Christmas was pretty crazy, as usual.  This week ended up far more complicated than expected.  When I last blogged on Saturday night, I was still dealing with the worst of my virus--which, honestly, isn't much better but is a little better controlled, at least. 

Well, when we woke up Sunday morning, Jacob was complaining of eye pain.  When I went in to check on him, I realized he was burning up!  His fever was only around 100, but it stuck around for a while.  He complained about belly pain and had a few spells where he was convinced he was going to be sick, but he never did.  The fever was a bit lower on Monday morning and he seemed in good spirits.  He was off school and very excited about going to daycare.  It was Santa day and party day, and I promised that if his fever was lower and he felt OK, he could go.  So off he went, and all was well until about 4pm when we got a call that his fever was sky high and he was complaining about being sick again.  Because he got sent home he couldn't go the next day either, which made Tuesday a very complicated day. 

I had already planned on buying lunch for the daycare teachers as our Christmas gift to them.  They had all pretty much been involved with the kids this year, so rather than buy them all gifts, it made more sense to do a big group gift.  But with the time I had to pick it up, and both of us needing to get work done before the holiday but also needing to keep Jacob home, it got a little crazy.  I spent most of the day worrying that we wouldn't be able to go to Buffalo for the holiday.  My freaking out would have made a great blog post, had I had time to sit down and write it, but I was doing so many last minute things--shopping, wrapping, baking--all until the wee hours of the morning.  I was at the mall until 10pm one night and picked up a bike just before midnight, shopped at Kohl's until after 10pm another night and visited Toys 'R' Us no less than three times in one week.  It seemed like the shopping would never get done, but eventually it did...even though I was still worried we'd be stuck here.  As hard as it always is to finish things early, pack up and haul off to Buffalo for a couple days of craziness, I was very concerned about staying here because we really appreciate our family time so much.  It seemed wrong to miss out on it for a year.  While quiet family time at home has its benefits, we've both always grown up with lots of family at the holidays and wouldn't have it any other way...for us, and for the kids who deserve the same chance to open gifts and play with their cousins like we did.

Fortunately, by later Tuesday his fever was gone....so I launched into packing mode and finished wrapping for the kids so we could have our "Christmas morning" on Wednesday before we left.  Of course, by Wednesday morning, just as Jacob's appetite seemed to return a bit more to normal,  Carter was sounding very congested and I was afraid he'd be the next victim.  But we did our Christmas morning, finished packing, and headed off to start our big holiday odyssey. 

I'll have an update on all of that soon....as soon as I can dig out from the pile of toys and get my camera out to upload pictures.  I'm tired now and Carter is, indeed, congested and feverish, so I may have a long night ahead of me!  But for now, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Still here...

Can you tell it's the week before Christmas?  Sorry for the silence.  My nights have been filled with online shopping and actual work-work, and you'd think staying up until midnight or (gasp) 1am would give me time to blog, but no...Christmas alone is plenty of work.  I'm exhausted and still sick.  I've had some form of cold symptoms for over a month, starting with the body aches and chills, then the cough shortly thereafter.  The cough eased up by Thanksgiving, but over the course of that weekend at the funeral home, I started feeling cruddy again.  Just general congestion and a touch of sore throat initially, with a return to the cough because of the congestion, which has been mostly in the form of mucus in my throat.  Then I got the pinkeye last week, which went away by Monday but has been trying to come back for a few days now.  My throat has been very sore for a week now, and the only thing that takes the edge off is Mucinex, which I think breaks up the mucus and makes the inflammation a bit less.  It's really starting to beat me down.  I called for more eye drops yesterday and the sore throat was so bad by the evening that I went to urgent care after Carter went to bed.  I thought it might be strep, but no, just an upper respiratory infection.  Viral, of course.  Lots of co-pays later I have a few things to ease up the symptoms, but we'll see how things go.

We have a handful of gifts to get, and a lacrosse doubleheader for Jacob today.  I haven't quite figured out how to fit it all in AND bake AND wrap, but somehow it will all get done.  Just a matter of whether we try to cram a lot of things into Tuesday, or allow ourselves a pleasant Christmas Eve morning at home to open gifts.  Jacob is definitely excited, and while Carter is not a fan of Santa just yet, when I asked him this morning what he wanted Santa to bring him, his answer made me smile.  Something tells me he'll be a happy boy when he opens his big present!

Wednesday we got to visit Jacob's school and watch the first graders' March of the Toy Soldiers.  It's a 30-year-old tradition at the school, apparently.  All of the first graders marched to two classical music pieces about toy soldiers and they did great with their marching and the straight faces they needed to maintain.  Here's a clip of it.  Jacob is in the first batch of kids.  Also, if you go to the last 30 seconds or so, you'll also see when the Kindergartners made a cameo as the "mice" that the soldiers are not rattled by (per the story we heard prior to the march).



Here is Jacob's whole class afterward.  He's 4th from the right in the back.

He was so cute with his makeup and his cool hat.  The diamond on the front was a family crest he had to create with the letter "R".  It was carved into a piece of thin metallic stuff (heavy tin foil, maybe?).

I brought him home with me afterward and just worked from home, but before that I had to see his gingerbread house he created in class on Monday.  Luckily, the gluten-free graham crackers worked okay, and he was very proud of it.

I had Thursday off, mostly to get a few Christmas things done and then grab the kids and head off to Craig's work Christmas party, our annual trip to the casino in Niagara Falls.  I had a productive morning, ordering a few things online, picking up a couple pre-ordered gifts, and finding a few more things I needed.  The afternoon before the party always gets hectic because I need to pack up, grab the boys, and drive to Buffalo, then drop them at my parents' and meet Craig at the party.  This year I added in a trip to my parents' Walmart to pick up a couple more gifts I had ordered (knowing I'd be there before Christmas).  The party was fun--great food, good company (including the Sabres' head coach, Ted Nolan, who's also a Knighthawks advisor), and good enough gambling!  It was a late night, though, which in the midst of so many other late nights lately was not ideal, but it was worth it. 

Have I mentioned yet that Carter is not a fan of Santa?  Well, actually, he thinks Santa is cool...unless he's 10 feet away.  He will point to Santa in books and on TV and say, "Santa!" over and over again.  But when we get anywhere near a real one, he freaks out.  A couple weeks ago we stopped at an event at Jacob's school (we had to miss most of it because of his Sunday School Christmas program practice), and Jacob got there just in time to see Santa.  As he went up to see him, Carter started crying.  He was shaking and everything!  I don't know if he thought Santa was going to hurt Jacob, or what.  Last night we were at Wegmans, and one the way in we saw a very cool Coca-Cola truck...
Looking at the back of the truck from behind the cart racks
The sides of the truck were completely illuminated, the whole tractor trailer was outlined in lights, and the circle on the back and picture on the side were pictures of Santa.  When we got inside, we found out that Santa was in the store.  We walked over on our way out, and I was hoping that two extra weeks of Santa propaganda might have convinced Carter to like him, but no...instantly the kid that waves and says "hi" to everyone in the store buried his face in the shopping cart handle and whimpered.  Ok, guess not.  He'll be seeing Santa at daycare on Monday and I'm hoping that the lure of a present will help him be brave!

We're getting there, though.  We have a few presents under our tree (not ones I've wrapped, mind you--that's next on my list), I'm pleased with our decorations, cookies will hopefully get baked tomorrow, and once we get a few more gifts, we'll be in good shape to be ready in time.  That last one is a big "if", however.  Schedules are tight and it's always a crunch.  But we will get there.

Off to wrap now...well, once I clean off my dining room table...again.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Two Years Ago: Innocence Lost

Two years ago today the three of us (plus Carter in utero) were on our way to Montreal for the Knighthawks' pre-season game.  On our way there, we stopped for lunch at Cici's Pizza in Watertown.  We noticed something on TV and then started checking things on our respective devices, only to find out about the Sandy Hook shooting.  It was horrifying, to say the least.  While I tried not to let it ruin our weekend, it definitely put a damper on things.  I couldn't even fathom it.

I only mentioned it briefly on this blog, months later, but at the time I had a hard time processing it all.  I wanted to blog about it, but it was just too painful.  I honestly couldn't even let my mind go there.  What happened there was every parent's worst fear.  To think about it too much was too hard, too gut-wrenching.

Two years later, Craig is in Montreal again this weekend.  We're not there with him, but the coincidence is interesting.  This year's anniversary has even more significance because this year Jacob is in first grade, the same grade that lost so many children that day.  I won't lie--the couple times that I've been in his classroom, my mind briefly went to that place, wondering if the Sandy Hook first grade classroom was anything like Jacob's.  I thought about the kids in his class, how they couldn't have been too different from the kids that lost their lives that day.  Sweet, innocent kids that loved the same sorts of things Jacob and his friends do now (minus Frozen, I suppose!).  The thought of most of those kids getting shot up by some psycho was unfathomable as I looked at them.  And while the odds of something like that ever happening again are slim, sometimes I can't help but wonder, "Why couldn't it happen here?  No one there ever thought it could happen there, so why should here be any different?  What's stopping someone from doing the same sort of thing here?" 

I know that's a terrible, dark thought.  I don't let thinking like that permeate my daily life, by any means, but once in a while I do wonder why those kids had to die when so many others live normal, carefree lives.  I can't imagine losing Jacob, let alone in such a tragic, violent, sudden manner.  I don't know how those parents have moved on, and I'm sure many truly haven't, but it's a good reminder to thank God for every moment we have with our kids. 

I don't know if I had a real point for this post, though I did feel it was important to address the anniversary given Jacob's age and that it has been on my mind lately.  Like I said, as a parent it's almost impossible to fathom and even now I can't really let my brain go there because it's just too horrible.  Those six year olds were just doing what they were supposed to do--go to school--and the teachers and other employees in the building that day were doing their life's work--caring for the kids--and the unimaginable happened.  Those kids would be in third grade now, and their lives were snuffed out far too early.  I don't understand it, not even within the context of God's plan.  It seems like no good could come of it, but maybe other lives will be saved down the line from legislation or security improvements, or mental health will get greater attention.  Anything to not make their deaths in vain.

It doesn't stem the sadness, horror, or tiny bit of fear as I think of Jacob's class (or even Carter's).  But two years later I just wanted to mention that my heart still breaks for those families and the terrible reality they still live with every day.   Their strength (little though it may seem to them some days) is astounding.  The energy they've put into making the world a better place in the aftermath is admirable.  Nothing will ever bring their kids back, but I pray that in their honor, society ensures that no one else ever has to deal with a loss like that again.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Video Friday

Just a few videos that I've been behind on...

This is from way back when we went to the pumpkin patch.  Carter was just starting to talk, and he shares one of his favorite words...to this day, even!


This is probably most representative of our life on a daily basis.  It also showcases Carter's cutest skill...seriously, the first time he did it I about died of cute...


And this one shows his talent identifying body parts...he's even better now...


Yes, we have a lot of cute going on in this house on a daily basis! 

My eye is still pretty nasty looking but it feels ever-so-slightly better today.  Hoping each round of drops makes things a little better...because I need to be better for the weekend!  Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Photo Thursday

It's been a while since I posted photos.  I guess it's a combination of not a lot of photo-worthy activity and Christmas busyness and general laziness.

This time of year is always crazy, let alone when we got a slow start and everyone's had some manner of the crud over the past couple weeks.  I'm hoping for a strong finish over these last two weeks so we can truly enjoy the holiday itself.  But alas, as I type this I'm sitting at the doctor with one eye squeezed shut because it hurts so bad I can hardly stand it.  It's red and draining like crazy and this all happened since I woke up.  I was hoping for some antibiotics that would also take out the cold that won't quit, the one I got a month ago that almost got better but never really did, but I got drops instead.  This is terribly painful and rather contagious, so it's a pretty bad situation.  As much as I wanted to use another vacation day, this is not the way I wanted to do it.

In the meantime, until I'm feeling better, some photos...

I took this from Jacob's window a few weeks ago, though the screen and everything.  I couldn't pass up the shot, though!

Mommy-Jacob selfie...once in a while he's cooperative!

Right near the end of our fourth two-hour shift at the funeral home...apparently he can be cute anywhere, at any time!

This is a little hard to see, but this is Jacob at his Sunday School Christmas program.  He is snapping along to the song, and he was freaking out the day before after the rehearsal because he couldn't snap.  He faked it really well.  He almost didn't make it to the program because he had been suffering from random stomachaches after a suspected glutening at the funeral luncheon.  He missed his lacrosse game the day before, but he gutted it out for this performance.

A wide view of the Christmas program.  Jacob's group was near the middle, to the right of the lighted cross.  Nice performance.

Carter got a little antsy near the end, and since I already had my camera out, I snapped this one of him smiling at the people behind us.

And now...a couple outtakes from our Christmas card photo shoot.  It didn't go very well, but we survived.  This was probably earlier than I've ever done it, at least in recent memory!  I got cute smiles from each kid, but never together or without some sort of awkward pose or blur.


Hope these bring a couple smiles to your day.  God knows we need them around here at the moment!  My red, swelled up, oozing, painful eye should hopefully start clearing up soon, but this was the last thing we needed, particularly with Craig heading out on roadtrip #1 this weekend.  Not like I was going to get much shopping done anyway, but this is not helping. 

On the bright side, a video post is coming soon!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tough Love: Giving Crushed Hopes for Christmas

Jacob wants a Wii U for Christmas.

He'd had his Christmas list pretty well set for a few weeks, right up until he got to spend hours playing Wii with his cousins last weekend and decided he really wanted to get one himself for Christmas.  In case you're unaware, those things are not cheap.  And you know, for a kid always teetering on the edge of the naughty list, I'm not sure a $300+ gift is really in order.  It's one more thing for him to get totally obsessed with and for us to argue about.  Heck, the other day we were already arguing about where we'd put it if we got one, and I really don't need another thing to drag him away from at bedtime.

To be fair, as far as video games go, it's pretty cool.  He can get plenty of exercise from sports and dance games (as he's constantly pointing out), and he really has a lot of fun doing it.  We've talked about getting a system for years, either a Wii or an XBox Kinect, so we could use it for exercise and because we knew Jacob would love it as he got older.  But at that price, for this kind of challenging kid?  I just can't.

But he really wants it.  REALLY. WANTS. IT.  He's been cooking up plans in his head all week, of games he'd play and things like that.  He even wrote a story about playing it with his cousins as part of a school project this week.  He's clearly really into it, and as a parent you instinctively want to feed your kid's interests and make them happy.  But this would be a really extravagant toy.  Bang for the buck-wise, it probably would rate pretty high in the end, but it just seems like too much for him right now--money-wise and when it comes to his behavior issues.

The big problem is that he's convinced he's going to get it.  Even though we've told him multiple times that just because he wants something, that doesn't mean he's getting it, he's still talking about it like it's happening.  Maybe that's because he's generally gotten whatever his "big" gift request was...the Club Penguin hockey rink, the Imaginext Batcave, countless Lego sets...but those were all so doable.  This one, not so much.  But for a kid that's used to getting his big gift, and still believes wholeheartedly in Santa, this is a tough spot.

It's easy enough for everyone to say that he needs to learn to accept disappointment.  We all did it to some degree as kids, for sure.  But look...the kid's already dealing with all the disappointment (and stomach aches) that go with having Celiac disease.  He is constantly driven crazy by his baby brother.  He's got us nagging him constantly (for good reason, but still, it can't be fun for him either).  Blessed as he is, he's got some hardships that I can see many six year olds having a hard time with.  I truly don't know how much of the behavior stuff he can control.  Yes, he could be a better listener, for sure, but that's not to say that I don't think there are certain elements of it (attention-wise, mostly) that he either can't control or would have to work beyond-his-years-hard to control.  When you can give him a command over and over again (literally, saying "Put on your shoes" constantly until he listens) and it still takes him a while to respond, something tells me he's just got so much going on in that head that he can't "hear" what we're saying.  And given that he's such a passionate kid, a kid full of ideas and plans, it's hard to dissuade him once he gets going.  He's just not your average kid, trust me.

Ultimately I know this could break his Christmas, no matter how many other great things he gets.  He's got his heart set on it, regardless of how we warn him, and I can easily foresee him ruining his own Christmas by moping around when he doesn't get it.  He's a very intense kid and doesn't let go of things easily.  There's always such a build-up to Christmas, and to see him let down at the end of it...well, that's a hard thought.  A frustrating one as a logical parent, but a sad one as a loving parent.

I read a story the other day about a family that canceled Christmas.  They'd spent months trying to improve their sons' behavior and make them less entitled, but in the end they felt they had no choice.  Oh, they're still doing a lot of Christmas-y stuff, and they've made a really great experience out of it by using the saved money to give to others, but Santa will not be coming.  The kids will get gifts from family, so they'll be far from deprived, but still...that's a big step.  In my anger and frustration, I've thought about doing something similar many times over the past few years.  Jacob is spoiled enough and I'd like him to know that being on the naughty list is a real issue.  But I've always stopped short, because Christmas is...well, sacred.  I remember back to being a kid, and how exciting all of the build-up was.  I waited all year for this one amazing time of year, and for this one exciting day.  I can't imagine how crushed I would have been if it simply didn't happen.  I worry that it would break his spirit, not just teach him a lesson.  And really, once he was old enough to know the truth about Santa...well, at some point I know he'd probably respect us for it, but he'd probably spend a few years really ticked off at us about the Christmas that never was.

It's complicated now, too, since Carter is around and there's no reason for Santa to skip him.  Not that Carter would know the difference, but I don't want to send the message to Jacob that Carter did something wrong to deserve it, too.  And it would just be horrible to have Carter opening presents and Jacob not.  There's a point at which it's not even about the stuff...it's the insinuation in the mind of a six year old that somehow he doesn't matter.  Even if he's been warned, even if material things don't equate to love...I just have a feeling that's how it would be internalized.  And I just can't do that. 

This morning we stopped at an event at Jacob's school where he got to sit with Santa.  And of course he told him he wanted a Wii U...and that was it.  Lovely. I eventually told Jacob flat out that it wasn't happening, and of course he was upset.  I will say, though, that he hopped right back on board demanding/adding things to his list.  When I brought up the possibility of putting his behavior rewards toward earning enough of it to get it next year, he didn't like that.  He pretty much said he just wants to get it.  Which tells me that he probably would be well-served by the experience of earning it.  We'll see how this plays out.  He'll be a very lucky little boy regardless come Christmas, whether he believes it or not.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Home...Finally.

Gosh, what a crazy few days.  Or, rather, nearly a week.  I realized this morning when I sat down at my desk that I hadn't been there since last Tuesday.  That's a long time.  We were in Buffalo for five full days, which is longer than we've been there in ages, if ever.  Certainly we wouldn't have been anywhere else during a time like this, but it's been a bit of a weird time nonetheless.

The time with Craig's family was good, I guess--as good as can be expected considering the circumstances.  The kids had a great time together and it was nice to see Craig's aunts, uncles, and cousins.  Everyone enjoyed watching Carter wander through the funeral home in his little man clothes.  Even the corrections officers who were there to guard the casket (for honor, not necessarily safety) cracked quite a few smiles as he ran past or constantly tried to play in the little fountain.  His cousins would chase him around, other people would scoop him up and whisk him off.  Craig's cousin's husband grabbed him to watch a show on his phone, and at one point I downloaded a couple new apps to kill some time.  Overall he was a handful, but very well behaved.  Jacob played a lot on his iPad and chased his cousins around.  He had moments where he clearly didn't understand the importance of what we were doing, but to the casual observer he was fine.  Overall there were a lot of very difficult moments for all of us, because this was such a tragic situation and two kids don't always understand that.  We ended up sending Carter to my parents' for the funeral because I didn't want to have to wrangle an active kid for such a long day of quiet time.  I'm glad we did.

One of the biggest challenges of the weekend was that our schedule was all over the place.  There were days to sleep in, but there were a couple early mornings, too.  Bedtimes were generally later than we would have liked, and sleeping somewhere else never really leads to the soundest of sleeps.  Mealtimes were a little random, as well, and Jacob's diet in particular was a little odd since gluten-free foods were not in abundant supply.  Between those issues and the emotional toll of the funeral process, we all came home pretty beat.  Craig and I are both battling congestion (again--second time in a couple weeks), Carter has a nasty cough, and Jacob spent part of today in the nurse's office with what we think may have been a touch of gluten cross-contamination.  We're all just tired and off.

We got back around 5:30pm yesterday and I started realizing just how deep of a hole I had to dig out of.  I had hoped to do some shopping or something over the weekend, but between our schedule and just trying to keep up with email and social media when I finally did get to a computer, I didn't get anything done.  Not that I was in much of a mood to.  I don't know if it was the funeral, or a bit of a pity party that the weekend I had planned on using to catch up on life and get a head start on Christmas ended up being so different, but I'm having a really hard time getting into the Christmas spirit.  I'd been waiting to listen to Christmas music and put up our decorations, but the weekend it was all supposed to happen ended up being such a sad one, and I almost feel guilty thinking about doing fun Christmas stuff.  At this point I just don't feel like it.  It didn't help that the tree that I put up before we left now has a row of lights out, and I'm not sure they can be fixed.  It's a pre-lit tree, so it's a little more complicated that switching out the set.  So we have a dark Christmas tree in our living room and all of my fall décor is still sitting on my dining room table.  I'm busy doing dishes because the dishwasher still isn't fixed, catching up on work because my schedule this week is weird, and staring at the pile of newspapers that arrived while we were gone.  We've barely bought any Christmas gifts, and I'm short on ideas.  Everywhere I look there's something I need to do work on or clean up.  I feel like the calendar has something on it every day this month, and with Craig's schedule I'm not sure when our shopping is going to get done.  There simply isn't enough time for anything right now, or at least my schedule, energy level, and brain power aren't aligning very well.

I know that my issues are nothing compared to the sadness we left behind an hour down the thruway, but it's hard heading into Christmas and not feeling it.  The season is so short and so fast, and here I am wasting it pitying myself and worrying about the million things I need to get done.  I don't want to pressure myself, but part of the fun of Christmas is the special stuff we get to do.  It's a delicate balance.  I need to figure it out.  But I won't be doing it tonight.  Tonight, like last night, I'm just happy to be home and in my own bed.  It's the little things.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving

Well, this Thanksgiving weekend isn't quite what we planned.  Best laid plans and all that...right?  For weeks I'd been looking forward to this long, five-day weekend.  I had visions of enjoying a day or so with our families, and then catching up on things at home and getting the house decorated for Christmas, then maybe venturing out to start checking things off the shopping list.  The first part turned out that way, but the second half?  Not so much.

Craig's uncle passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday.  He was only 53 and had been sick to varying degrees on and off for the past couple months, but this last admission to the hospital didn't look good and Craig was summoned to Buffalo on Monday to say his goodbyes.  He died the next afternoon, and we started planning for an extended trip and a very, very tough few days.  It's not just planning for five days of travel, it's five days of dress clothes and comfy clothes, odd schedules and unknown food situations, and a lot of tears.  We barely fit everything in the car.  Packing was almost as bad as Christmas, between having to fit things in the car and checking off a long list of things to remember. 

I had already planned on taking off Wednesday so I didn't have to stress while packing (under normal circumstances) and could go to the daycare Thanksgiving feast more easily.  Jacob was off, too, so I could save us some money by being home with him.  We headed over at lunch time (with gluten-free gravy and stuffing in hand) and had a very nice lunch--Jacob with the big kids and Carter with me.  We brought him home with us and I was hoping to get a long nap out of him while I got things ready, but alas, it was short.  I still got things done on time, but it was a little crazy.  We headed for my parents' that night to get a head start on things, and did church and a lunchtime meal with them, my aunt, two uncles, and my cousin Lori.  We had a very nice time, though Carter crapped out pretty early for a nap.

I cooked up my gluten-free green bean casserole (using Funyuns, of all things!), then we headed off to Craig's brother's house for our dinnertime meal there.  The food was delicious, the company fun, and the resulting bloat a bit painful (I can't help myself, seriously).  Jacob slept over with his cousins and was a mess today due to too little sleep, and Carter slept well but was a force to be reckoned with anyway.  We went to our nephew's basketball game at 12:30, grabbed a late lunch, and headed back to let Carter nap.  We headed over to Craig's brother's for a dinner of leftovers and some family time, until it was time for two overtired boys to begrudgingly go to bed.

Tomorrow the hard part begins.  I'm so thankful for our many blessings, but there's no doubt this Thanksgiving was with a much heavier heart than usual.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Deconstructing the Work-Home Balance

I mentioned in my last post that there's not enough hours in the day to get everything done, and I've said plenty of other times before that it is a challenge to be the only person in my department with kids.  My one co-worker is just a few years out of college, and the other is a year older than me with a husband but no kids.  She knows a lot of people with kids, though, so she's aware of how it all goes, but I still get the feeling she doesn't fully comprehend what having kids does to your mindset when it comes to work.  I think on one level, sure, she gets it...kids are sick, you have to stay home.  Kids have something going on, you generally should be there for it.  On a practical level I know she gets it.  Heck, I know she feels strained enough in her daily life without having any kids at home to stretch her further.

But I still don't think anyone really realizes until they have kids that your entire biology changes when things impact your kids.  Immediately something else climbs to the top of your hierarchy and there's no stopping it.  You also know that you have to care for yourself enough to still take care of your family properly.  So while someone else might say, "Well, the job's gotta get done, so just get it done," it's harder for me to do that if it means giving up the time I need to care for my family or care for my own energy level or health.  It's one thing to do that for a one-time event, but another to be asked to do that consistently.  I don't mind putting in a couple hours once a week after the kids are in bed if it makes my life easier in the long run or makes a deadline, but I have too much that I'm behind on at home to give up significant time for work.  If that makes me a bad employee, I'm sorry, but my family comes first.  I simply don't have the option to stay up all night and wear myself down to nothing because I have two little people relying on me to be functional.  And while Craig is here and can hold up his end, it's not his entire job to be my backup.  He's got a lot on his plate, and a job that he can't let slip either.  Something has to give.

There's been a troubling trend at my job lately.  When I first started working there, it was generally a 9-to-5 job.  My job was, at least.  If you had to stay late here and there for certain projects, that was fine.  But most of the time I could leave work at work and my home time was mine.  But now I have a laptop, and so do a significant number of other people in the company.  And with a lot of people checking their mail constantly on their phones (I do not), there is a very clear indication that you're always somewhat on call. 

Our company is closed the week after Christmas.  We used to have to take vacation or make up three days ahead of time.  This year we heard that the policy was changing, but after much probing it came back that the company line was, "If the work is done, enjoy your time."  The flip side of that, of course, is that if the work isn't done, you need to do it.  But here's the thing--the bulk of my monthly deadlines fall within the last couple weeks of the month, which is when we're going to be off.  So in theory, there's no way my work will be done.  But that time is supposed to be reserved for my family (and I have the vacation days to back that up, actually), and if they're home, there's almost no way I can focus enough to get work done.  It's not as simple as sitting down and doing it--I need to work around kids and family commitments...and when it comes to that week, I'm just not motivated to give up that time I so desperately need because in the past it was "protected" time. 

I guess what bugs me is that it used to seem like if deadlines came calling, the company sort of had our backs to say, "Wait, this is the time we've set aside for our employees to be with their families and recharge.  It can wait."  But now that no longer seems to be the case.  My boss worked nearly her entire Christmas break last year because we had a ridiculously scheduled new business situation that needed immediate attention.  No one took a stand to try to alter the terrible scheduling, and therefore no one had her back to give her the rest she needed.  She's still upset about it, and she hasn't had a real break all year.  Now I'm seeing that mentality sneaking into how she deals with us, which was almost never the case before.  Or maybe she was just always able to deflect it for us, but she's so overloaded she no longer can.  The pressure is tremendous, and it's so damaging.  I can't help but wonder at what point she breaks and we're all left to pick up pieces that we can't put back together.  Everyone's replaceable, but it's at a major cost with people who are so good at what they do and that hold an immense amount of knowledge in their brain that can't be learned.

I think part of the problem, too, is that when it comes to your family, everything else pales in comparison.  Your perspective changes completely.  Work no longer seems as life and death as it used to.  Maybe it should in order to keep a job, but it's so sad that the mentality seems to have changed so much over the past few years.  I don't blame my boss--she has been put under tremendous, unfair pressure.  No one has her back (above her), and I think she's probably tired of feeling like the only martyr.  So while she's not going to try to push us specifically, she also won't be able to deflect things like she has in the past.  But it's so hard for me to get to a point where I'm okay with giving work priority.  My time with my family is limited enough, and letting work encroach on that is incredibly hard.  That said, I generally like my job and put in a solid effort every single day.  I have no intention of leaving.  But the recent shift in philosophy is definitely troubling, and this is the time of year when it usually becomes the biggest issue.  The end of the year crunch really stinks, and it's not going to get any easier.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Living in the Moment and Other Impossibilities

One of the biggest pieces of advice most people pass along to new parents is, "Enjoy it...it goes so fast!"  That is absolutely true, and before you know it, your tiny baby is running circles around you and won't stop talking.  And the next time I blink, so I'm told, they'll be heading off to college.  It is shocking how quickly time goes by.  I can barely believe that it's nearly the end of November and I'll be putting up Christmas decorations in a week for Carter's second Christmas.  Two years ago I was pregnant with Carter, and now he's running around the house and saying a bunch of words.  Seven years ago I was pregnant with Jacob, and now he's in first grade, playing his second year of competitive lacrosse, and reading actual books.  And I remember so much of it like it was yesterday.

I have thousands of great pictures and happy memories from the past seven years (and more before that when it was just Craig and me), but hidden in those pictures are a lot of tough moments and beyond them is a lot of the humdrum, everyday stuff I don't pull out the camera for.  I love looking back at those photo-friendly moments, though many times I know what was hiding in the background--the tantrums, the yelling, the multiple attempts at getting the perfect shot.  What's been haunting me lately is that the in-between times are not quality time, and just surviving them is making time go way too quickly. 

Everyday is the same thing, over and over.  Wake up, get ready, get the kids ready, get out of the house, go to work, come back, get the kids, rush through dinner, survive until bedtime, veg out in front of the TV until adult bedtime.  Lately I've been falling asleep early, so I'm clearly exhausted...or bored by my current to-do list.  The kids are a constant battle--getting Jacob to do anything without disrespecting us, getting Carter to stay away from Jacob and stop throwing food at dinner--and it's getting tiring to do it every single day.  Weekends are even tougher, because the kids are together pretty much all day and playing referee never stops.  Today was even worse, because Jacob's lacrosse game fell during Carter's naptime, so I had a doubly cranky kid to deal with for most of the day. 

I've said it repeatedly here, though, that my priorities have no choice but to be screwed up, and I'm overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done in a given day or week.  I need to work, even though I'd like to be focusing on making my family's life better.  I'm not sure that even if I didn't have to work that I'd be able to spend my whole day with my kids (see above), but I'd love to think I could spend that time doing things to better their lives (finding better things to cook, keeping a cleaner house, taking care of all the little things that never seem to get done), and putting myself in a better position to actually be fully present when I'm with them.  Right now I'm constantly distracted.  I spend most of the time post-dinner trying to check a couple things off of my to-do list before I get too tired to do anything.  Inevitably every night there's something that needs to get done--paying bills, online shopping, looking up recipes, cutting coupons, looking through paperwork--it never ends.  And inevitably, I forget things, or put them off...and suddenly it's been days, or a week, or worse, and the procrastination comes back to bite me.

My dishwasher is still broken, and oh, something is still leaking ever so slightly that will probably involve a plumber after all.  I've been having severe troubles filling up a weekly dinner menu, and I've been intending to look up new recipes or dig into old ones for weeks.  I've even had a heck of a time staying awake for a blog post here.  I can't even fathom how I'm going to fit Christmas into all of this.  I'm just tired.

The overriding issue I'm having is that I spend so much time getting through the tough stuff every day and holding out hope for the fun stuff, that time is just flying past and I feel like I'm just not enjoying it enough.  I'm waiting for those moments when we have peaceful family time and fun memories that aren't tainted by something.  I think, honestly, that I'm waiting for something to feel more like what I remember living as a kid.  Only...I've realized lately that it is probably impossible.  Perhaps this is a testament to my parents, or maybe I was just a naïve kid that floated through life, but things just seemed so much simpler.  Yet as a parent I'm all too aware of the lengthy to-do lists and all of the elements impacting the things we do each day.  Instead of just enjoying Christmas, for example, I'm thinking about all that has to be done and wondering how spoiled or disappointed the kids might be by the end of the day.  Instead of just soaking in every moment of kid cuteness, I'm thinking about what else needs to get done or whether their cuteness is a little too cute for their own good.  I just don't think the simplicity of a kid's mind is possible, and I think that is letting me down.  But it was all I know so I have to try to relearn how this is supposed to go, this time from the perspective of a parent.

I wish I had some great plan to solve this problem, but I don't.  I'm at a loss.  I'd like to use some of my five-day weekend next week to catch up on some things and start preparing for the holidays, but part of that time off is going to be focused on Thanksgiving, and I know that decorating for Christmas is a huge undertaking that will take up a large portion of the end of the weekend.  I have a couple vacation days I'd like to use to reduce my stress level over the next few weeks, but I know how that usually goes this time of year at work.  I just want to try to enjoy my kids, but they are like oil and water right now so it's hard to just appreciate them without having to constantly dole out the discipline.  I love them, but they are exhausting.  And on top of everything else, I'm just not having fun right now.  I know that's not what all of this is about, but I could use a little fun at the moment.  It might make everything else just a little bit easier.      

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Good as Gold

Over the weekend we took a little trip north of the border so Craig could get his fifth (!) championship ring.  It was the last official weekend of his offseason, and we loaded in the car on Saturday after Jacob's lacrosse game to get a little head start on the trip and spend the night in Buffalo.  We thought cutting an hour-plus off the driving on Sunday was a good plan, because it was a long round trip for two kids.  Of course, Carter was a bit thrown off by his nap on the drive, so we had a challenge getting him back to sleep...and in turn it made it harder to get Jacob to sleep.  Still, worth it!

We left mid-morning and headed across the border.  We stopped at a Pizza Pizza location off the exit to get Jacob's backup food for the event (and get a little snack ourselves!), then headed off to the reserve.  Carter napped a bit on the way there, but probably not enough.  Oh, and did I mention that he was getting sick?  He'd had some congestion for a couple days and had enough eye goop that morning that we worried that he was getting pinkeye.  But this was important and he seemed functional enough, so off we went.

The event was held at the ILA, an arena complex on the reserve that's the home base for all of the major lacrosse happenings there.  The room we were in overlooks the arena itself, and it was set up very nicely.


One of the most important elements of this event was the book that Craig has been working on non-stop for a couple months.  It's a compilation of stories about every player and coach, as well as a lot of other support staff and lacrosse operations executives.  He worked on it day and night, knowing that he had to get the content done in time to get it printed and ready for this event.  The night marked the book's big reveal, and he got a lot of props for the end product.  He did a great job and it was nice to see people flipping through it and enjoying it, knowing how much he put into it.

We had a delicious meal (and yes, Jacob enjoyed his pizza), and then the formal activities started. There were things said about every player, and then the owner came up and spoke for quite a while, leading up to the big ring reveal.  No one was allowed to look at their ring until the appointed time.  Of course, I didn't really get to enjoy any of this because Carter did not want to sit still and absolutely insisted on wandering around for a couple hours straight.  I, unfortunately, had heels on, so my feet were killing me by the end of the night.  We mostly wandered around the upper level of the arena, where he could climb stairs and wander and run to his heart's content.  I had to be there to keep him from taking a header, and try to keep him from sharing his germs with the other kids with the same idea. 

Luckily, there were windows back into the room so I could see when it was close to ring time.  I dragged Carter back in and whipped out the camera just in time to catch the boys opening the box...

And WOW, what a ring it was! 

They've gotten progressively larger, which you'll see in a minute.  It's always fun to see these guys checking the rings out for the first time, like kids on Christmas.  I caught a couple snapping pictures to tweet out and laughed at the site of all these guys wearing these ginormous rings like proud parents.

I missed the full explanation of all of the features on the ring and what they represent, though I do know that my birthstone is there, as are the kids'.  It's a gorgeous ring, though.

Jacob just really wanted to go play on the turf the whole time, and was actually really patient, all things considered.  Finally near the end of the event we started moving in that direction, but we still needed to kill a little time.  Carter played with part of the table decoration...

Jacob gave me this face when I wanted to give him equal camera time...
Notice him clutching his play clothes...
And I looked for Craig's face on the one wall decoration...

...and I found it!  Jacob actually found another later in the "D", too.

The one "glitch" with Jacob's desire to play on the turf was that the arena was actually dark...

Of course, it did not matter.  He had a blast for the few minutes we had.

Just as we were ready to leave, the owner indicated that he wanted to sit and chat with Craig for a bit, so I did my best to keep the kids occupied for a bit longer while cleanup was going on, and eventually it was time to go.  It had been snowing all day, though there wasn't much accumulation, but it made for a slower trip home than we would have liked.  It continued to snow just about until we got to Buffalo.  Jacob was awake for most of the trip (he fell asleep in the last few minutes) but Carter conked out almost immediately.  He had a few whiny wake-ups along the way, but slept pretty much the entire time.  We got home around 9:30 and had a tough time getting both kids to settle and get back to sleep.  It had been a LONG day.  Good, mostly, but long.

Anyway, just to finish this off, here's a closer look at the top of the ring...

There are some other elements on the side, including his name and the areas with the birthstones.  And here's a look at all three together.  I guess with each big win, a bigger ring is needed...

It's hard to do them justice, but definitely lots of bling going on here.  He's also got two more that I didn't have easy access to--his 2007 Knighthawks ring and his 2008 Rattlers ring.  He's now got a literal handful of rings, which barely seemed possible back in 2006 when I left the teams (ringless, of course) and we'd had a lot of great teams with nothing to show for it.  Perhaps I was the bad luck, but I'm just happy that he's gotten to experience all of this and I've been able to come along for the ride.  It's been fun to share the last few with the kids, too.  I have great memories from each one, from the adventures I've gone on to be there for the win, to watching the home crowd celebrate, to fantastic comebacks and seeing the looks on the kids' faces when they experience everything from the cup to the confetti!  It may get a little more "normal", but it never gets old.

Anyway, it's always fun to celebrate another championship.  And the road to another one starts this weekend with the opening of training camp.  I'm not sure I'm ready for all of the solo weekends again, but here goes nothing...

Friday, November 14, 2014

News & Notes, Frozen Edition

The weather has taken a sudden frigid turn.  It was nearly 70 on Tuesday, and the last couple days it has been freezing.  We woke up to snow on the roof tops this morning, and Jacob was thrilled!  I guess winter is here.  Carter is having a tough time with it.  He hates his winter coat, and refuses to wear mittens.  I need to find him mittens with a string so he can't lose them if he takes them off.  He refuses to keep them on, though, and I worry about his little fingers.  He doesn't seem that bothered by the cold itself, so how do I get him to be okay with mittens?

I was actually home sick the last couple days.  I finally went back to work today, still sporting a heck of a cough.  I started feeling cruddy on Tuesday night, getting the same muscle aches that Craig had when he got sick last week.  The chills and hot flashes arrived (though I never got a good fever reading), and I felt generally crappy by Wednesday morning.  I took some ibuprofen, pushed through half a work day from my couch, then rested the rest of the day.  Then I did the same thing yesterday.  I wanted to keep the work moving but keep the germs to myself and get as much rest as possible.  As crappy as I felt at times, I never got as bad as Craig, and ultimately it wasn't the worst way to spend a couple days.  The cough will be around for a while, but at least I'm functional.

Two years ago today was my nasty car accident.  It was such an awful experience, but two years later I'm extra grateful that it wasn't worse.  To think that anything could have happened to Carter, who was still pretty tiny in my belly at that point, is heartbreaking.  It made for a very tough month, that's for sure.  My car is almost two years old now, and while I love my Bluetooth, I still curse the non-automatic headlights every day.  I still think about the accident at least once a week when I drive through the area on my daily commute.  The only truly good thing that came out of it was that I allowed myself some retail therapy that night and I still LOVE the quilt I bought for our bed.  Now if I could just figure out how to decorate above the bed...

Tomorrow Carter is officially 75% of the way from one to two.  Twenty-one whole months!  Three more months until his second birthday...and it barely seems possible!  He's saying so many words now.  Not always clearly, mind you, but he recognizes so many and tries to say so many!  It's amazing to watch him!  I need to get video of it ASAP, because I need to remember this phase forever.  Have I mentioned that he calls Jacob "brother" instead of by his name?  So sweet.

Jacob is a giant handful right now.  Sometimes he can be so awesome, and other times he refuses to listen, completely ignores us, and has temper tantrums about almost anything.  It's pretty ridiculous and I'm not sure how to help him manage that anger.  But things are still going well at school, so I guess one out of two ain't bad.

But in general, things are fine. I'm definitely looking forward to a five-day weekend in a couple weeks, but for now we're all hanging in there.  More soon...

Monday, November 10, 2014

1200 Posts and Seven Years Ago...

Seven years ago today I was gallivanting around Pittsburgh with my aunt, uncle (siblings, not married), and cousin (not the child of either of them) checking out the Chihuly exhibit at the Pittsburgh Botanical Garden.  It was magical and amazing and seven years later it represents to me the last moments before I knew I was pregnant with my first child.

We had a blast that weekend, though I was exhausted after eating too much for dinner when we got into town and sleeping in a room with a snorer and a restless sleeper.  That crazy busy day was a Saturday, and I spent Sunday recovering, only to discover I didn't feel any better by Monday.  Around that time it occurred to me that I hadn't been feeling particularly fantastic for a couple weeks, and I was at the tail end of a round of clomid that was supposed to regulate my system and help me get pregnant.  What was supposed to happen didn't, and I was at the point of needing to call my doctor...or both doctors, actually--OB/GYN and my regular doctor, if I didn't get my energy back.  However, knowing that the first question most doctors asking women of childbearing age is, "Are you sure you're not pregnant?", I stopped on my way home and picked up a few dollar store pregnancy tests to take that evening.  After multiple failed tests in the prior months, I figured it was a slam dunk and I could call the next day with my "Totally sure" ready to go.

Only, I took the test and didn't even have to wait 30 seconds before I was staring at a big fat positive!  Craig wasn't even home yet and I was totally freaking out.  I didn't even really have time or the presence of mind to craft any sort of fantastic reveal for him.  I was in such shock that all I could do was tell him nearly the second he walked in the door so I had someone to talk it through with.  It had been such a process up until that point that it never even occurred to me not to share it with him immediately.  We were a team and that was the next logical step, I guess.

I was excited, for sure, but terror and panic were right up there, too, because I knew from that moment that nothing would ever be the same.  We'd either go along the normal path and have this baby, or something would go wrong and we'd carry that loss with us forever.  It got so real so quickly.  It consumed me for weeks as I lived that double life of not telling anyone, all while feeling spectacularly crappy all the time.  From that day after Veterans' Day when I found out why I felt so horrible until we left for our trip to Florida in mid-December, the funk, the fear, and the nervous excitement ruled my existence. 

What a crazy time it was.  I look back at that young woman, how she couldn't even fathom all that was to come.  So much has happened in those seven years, including this blog (which is still about six weeks shy of its 7th anniversary).  Two pregnancies, two deliveries, two energetic little boys, countless doctor visits, tons of sports equipment, and more fun and stress than I could have ever dreamed.  And that weekend seven years ago marked those last moments of blissful (and exhausted) ignorance. 

Here's a sampling of the best of the best from that weekend...