Friday, January 31, 2014

Photo Friday

I figured it was time to catch up on a few photos.  I haven't been taking as many pictures lately as I should, but I have snagged a few. 
 
I realized a while back that I never shared the winner of the Christmas card shoot.  It's a miracle I got both boys in the same picture, and no children were harmed in the process.  Yay for small miracles!
 

Carter is quite the handful these days.  He's feeling better after his ear infection.  He's still not quite back to eating normally, but he's sleeping fine and has plenty of energy.  He's getting into everything.  He will not leave Jacob's stuff alone.  I don't know how babies instinctively want to get into the very things they're not supposed to touch, but they do.  Carter also wants to put everything in his mouth, which is getting frustrating.  Here's a picture of his toy corner, where we can fence him in if we have to, but he usually gets upset about being in there so right now I'm mostly using it when I absolutely have to. 
 
I do like that the gate sort of blends into the wall a bit.  This area is usually a bit of a mess, but it picks up quick.
He may be a handful, but he's so darn cute and his giggles are contagious!  He also likes posing for pictures, but he gives me such a cheesy smile most of the time!  
This is a perfect smile, though, complete with all eight of his teeth!

He likes this truck a lot.  It sings the most annoying songs, but if it keeps him occupied, so be it.  Pretty sure he's already played with it more than Jacob did.

 

Cheesy smile while playing with Jacob's golf club and his own little basketballs...and so begins the sports!

He's still working on his technique...

Giggling as he tried to climb on me!

Getting into trouble as usual...this time up on the ottoman grabbing the remotes!

Showing off his puppy skills!  He is constantly crawling around with something in his mouth!
Jacob isn't posing for pictures these days, but he had a relatively good week.  At school he almost did a clean sweep of good behavior, but lost it a bit today.  He was one notch above even on their behavior chart two days, then two notches up another day, and then he got the highest spot for the first time all year yesterday!  Today he was one spot below even, but I'm still really proud of the week he had.  I know how hard it is for him to behave, so knowing he had some success was really great.  Of course, at home things were a little different.  He is still having issues with food--not wanting much dinner or coming home with half of his lunch uneaten, having a 45-minute meltdown over taking a shower, still treating his brother with contempt, and giving us grief about almost anything.  But he's been really into drawing lacrosse team logos this week, and he can be so smart and engaging when he stops throwing punches.  His energy seems to be back to normal now, but he still is complaining of stomach aches and has a nasty cold.  He's also been licking around his mouth a lot, and it's very chapped and red.  It was almost scabbing over.  I've been trying to keep it lotioned up, but he fights me tooth and nail.  It's so hard when your kid doesn't understand that the "hard" stuff you make them do is good for them, not just something mean you're doing to them.  He's so convinced we're "bad" that anytime we make him do something he doesn't want to, we're doing it to personally torture him.  Whether it's making him eat, or forcing him to shower, or helping groom him, it all makes him so angry...and we can't quite convince him that it's stuff every kid has to do to stay healthy.  I just feel like there are a few mental blocks he has, and if we could get past those, things would be so much better.  He needs to know that we love him and understand how his actions impact other people.  He's so smart and has so much potential, but we need to help him manage his challenges a bit. 

We're heading into a weekend without Craig, who's off to Edmonton for work.  We don't have any plans for tomorrow, so I may need to make some to save us from an entire day in the house trying to keep Carter out of trouble and get Jacob out from in front of the TV.  Sunday we have a Superbowl party to go to--one we've gone to over the years but that had taken a two year hiatus.  I'm a little nervous about getting the kids there myself (Craig will just be getting back and meeting us there late), keeping Jacob away from the gluten, and keeping both kids occupied.  But it's a great party with good friends, so I'll do my best and come home if we have to.

Starting off the weekend by being up far too late isn't good, so that's it's for now...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Where's my medal?

I kid, I kid, I know this job doesn't come with a medal.  I signed up for parenthood and all that comes with it, but let me tell you, sometimes it would be nice.  It's not easy to sacrifice all the time with little thanks, but that's usually how it goes. 

I think the original thing that spawned this post is that I was talking to two people on Saturday at Jacob's lacrosse game (separately) and mentioned that I was planning on driving to Buffalo in questionable weather with both boys.  Both responded, "Alone?"  I never really thought it was a big deal, but apparently it seemed that way to them.  On Friday at work a co-worker of mine mentioned that she's been going to Knighthawks games with her boyfriend, who has had season tickets for years.  She asked if I go to games, and I said that I go to most of them.  And she said, "With both boys?"  Yep.  As much as I dread my weekends alone with the boys when Craig is on the road, I think I forget sometimes what a big deal it is, until someone expresses admiration for the fact that I do it...and do it often.  Still, I know it could be worse--he could be gone for weeks or months.  We've all got our challenges.  Some have weekly evenings alone that they've come to dread, or are home all day.  Some people have more challenging children.  Some people share custody and have the challenge of having kids alone one weekend, then being just plain alone the next.  It's always something.

This past weekend's trip to Buffalo was a bit of a risk, but it was all to help Jacob understand how much I love him. He'd been looking forward to going to Buffalo for the Knighthawks-Bandits game for weeks.  He insists he's a Bandits fan, so he really wanted to go.  He had a lacrosse game on Saturday afternoon (and it was like pulling teeth to get him there--a big argument that took far too long to convince him that if he didn't go to his game, we weren't going to Buffalo), but we'd have just enough time to go to his game, drive to Buffalo, drop off Carter at my parents', and get to the game.  Well, what we didn't count on was the weather.  While it wasn't horrible, it had the potential to be.  Blowing snow, cold temperatures, lots of wind...and just plain miserable.  My father pleaded with me via email to cancel the trip.  I spent much of Jacob's game studying the radar animation, trying to figure out how bad it would be along the Thruway.  All I could think about was how upset Jacob would be if I said we couldn't go.  I didn't really want to spend my evening dealing with that, and I had already gone through the trouble of packing up, so I really didn't want to have to cancel.  Eventually I decided that the snow was moving south of the Thruway and they'd have about an hour before we got that far to get the plows on the roads.  I'd focus on going slow and leaving plenty of space, and if it got bad enough, we'd turn around.  I had to try to convince Jacob that I wasn't just a giant meanie.

We got on the road and started hitting some snow.  There was a small section that was a bit white-out prone, but it passed quickly and the snow dissipated.  We moved along, a little slower than usual but moving fine.  The roads were generally fine, but I wouldn't have really wanted to do a sudden stop, either.  Carter took a nap and Jacob miraculously stayed awake for his movie.  Jacob decided he needed a potty break when we were about 15 minutes away from the one rest area on the trip.  We got there, took care of business, and loaded back in, and suddenly Jacob was asleep.  He and Carter both napped for the last 20 minutes of the drive, and I was a little nervous about how Jacob would be after I woke him up.

When we got to my parents', we were running extra short on time, but I tried to get my parents up to speed on Carter's care (his medicines alone are quite a process) and get Jacob and myself ready as quickly as possible.  First he fought me because I forgot the shorts he was determined to wear under his pants.  Then he was upset when I said he couldn't bring his lacrosse stick.  Both arguments lasted longer than they should have, but eventually he realized I was serious about skipping the game and he got himself together.  We headed off, just the two of us, for dinner at Mighty Taco and a drive through the iffy weather to the game.  While the roads weren't ideal, they were good enough and the whole weather thing turned out to be a non-event, thankfully.

The game was interesting.  We got there late (which was fine, really), but the Knighthawks looked terrible.  We were routinely down by more than half a dozen goals or more, which was a shock to the system after last spring's championship run and three straight wins to start this season.  Still, I was having a genuinely good time with Jacob.  He's never particularly chatty when we're at games, but I could tell he enjoyed dinner and was having fun at the game.  He took delight in the Bandits goals and my groans that followed.  He was pretty well-behaved and he got to enjoy a new gluten-free treat I had picked up on a whim at BJ's the previous weekend.

Eventually the Knighthawks came back and lost by one goal, so at least the end was fun to watch.  We headed down to the team store to kill some time while traffic cleared out, then headed back out into the bitter cold to drive home.  We battled a little traffic, but got home at a reasonable time and Jacob was pretty good about going right to bed.  Overall, it was a really fun night and it make all of the craziness worrying about the weather worth it.

Well, overnight that night, Carter was a disaster.  He was up multiple times screeching like he was in pain, and ended up sleeping on me for most of the night.  In the middle of it all, Jacob had an hour-long coughing fit.  Let's just say it wasn't a good night for any of us, and we were all pretty off the next morning, so much so that we stayed home from church to try to get a little more rest.  I had to drive home that afternoon, after all.  It was a bit of a challenging morning trying to keep both kids entertained and still try to sneak in some rest.  At one point Carter fell back to sleep and I laid down, too, only to have Jacob come up and nearly wake up Carter and annoy the heck out of me.  He was laying down on his sleeping bag but finding every way to bang on things near him and drive me crazy.  Ironically, at some point Jacob fell asleep, which is rare at that time of day.  Carter woke up before he did, but I think the nap did us all well as it was a pretty good afternoon as a whole.  The drive home was fine, too.

Sunday night, however, was as bad as Saturday.  I'm pretty sure I only had a handful of hours of sleep over the two nights, and even some of that was pretty light considering I had a baby sleeping on or next to me for a lot of it.  The fact that he was inconsolable even when held, arching his back, and screaming bloody murder made me think something was up.  I initially thought maybe it was gas from testing out some dairy again (no puking--yay!), but when the second night happened, I was starting to think it might be an ear infection. It gets worse when they lay down, and that definitely seemed to be the case with Carter.  I called the doctor Monday morning and got in for a 9:30 appointment...and sure enough, a double ear infection.  Poor kid.  No wonder he was so miserable.  Though I must note that during the day he was relatively good.  Aside from not eating as much as normal, taking shorter naps, and being only a tiny bit less happy, you'd never have known it was that bad.  So, he's on his first course of antibiotics and last night was a full night's sleep for the first time in a few days.  But oh, that first night alone at my parents' was pretty miserable.  By the end of the weekend, I was really wondering when my medal was going to show up. 

And if this tells you anything, I have been trying to write this post since the end of the weekend.  It has been one of those weeks.  Not bad, mind you, just busy.  My job has exploded (I currently have over 50 tasks assigned to me, if you can believe that, and at least 40 of those have come in in the past week), I'm trying to plan Carter's birthday, take care of the dishes and laundry, keep the kitchen cabinets stocked, and stay awake long enough at night to accomplish at least a couple things every night.  I have a very long to do list and it seems like it will never get done!  I'm tired and sometimes it seems like it's all too much.  I wouldn't change things (not much, anyway), but yeah, a medal wouldn't be a bad token now and then. 

There's so much more I want to write, but I'm so sleepy that I can't even think.  I'll leave you with a picture I took of Jacob and me at the lacrosse game...
 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Old Photos

Yesterday my dad sent me some pictures of Jacob from when he was about the same age Carter is now.  I always love to see pictures I haven't seen before, or in a while, or that I forgot existed.  Sometimes I feel like photos are little puzzle pieces that make up our lives.  So much of my childhood is tied up in the photo albums at my parents' house.  In fact, I often make mental notes about things I want to look up the next time I go there.  Most recently it was when I got my first bike for Christmas (four years old), and before that I was wondering about different Halloween costumes.  I remember a lot of things about my childhood (more than the average person, I'd guess), but for the mundane details, those photo albums are key.  In some cases I do the same thing with my own photos to pinpoint timing and things like that.

I, too, had recently been looking at pictures of Jacob from when he was around 11 months.  From what I see, Jacob looked older than Carter.  Jacob seemed to have more hair by this point (Carter's is getting long on the back and sides but is still fine and short up top), but Carter has more teeth (he has 7-1/2 right now, and I think Jacob was lucky if he had four).  Maybe it's just perspective, maybe it's Carter's chubby cheeks...I have no idea, but Jacob just looks older.  Heck, just looking at the pictures I feel like Jacob was so much more "accomplished" (for lack of a better word) at that point, even though I know for a fact that Carter has been crawling longer.  It's so weird.  For reference, here's Jacob right around 11 months...



 
And now Carter...
 


 
More and more I don't think they look anything alike!  I see facial features that can look similar, but as a whole, they're very different.  In more ways than one!
 
Anyway, now that we've had that fun...the serious stuff.  I'll admit that I have a bit of a hard time looking at old pictures of Jacob now.  I mean, I love them and treasure each one...but sometimes it's hard for me to reconcile the fact that the sweet baby that I adored so much is now so frustrating and professes his dislike for me on a daily basis.  I thought that might be the case when he was 15, not when he's five. 
 
I think that old pictures are great for two reasons: 1) Recalling good memories; 2) Realizing how far you've come.  Recalling good memories still applies, but looking at how far we've come...well...in the first place, that's a little hard when you have that disconnect between who Jacob was then and who he is now.  On top of that, the beauty of seeing how far you've come is that it inspires hope for the future.  You've seen your child grow and change so much, and it makes you excited for all there is to come.  But when the future is such a question mark, that anticipation just isn't there.  At least, not in the same way.
 
Not that this is something I dwell on, but I've definitely thought about parents who have lost kids and wondered how they feel about pictures of their kids.  Do they savor and seek out every one to absorb every single moment involving their kids that they can?  Or does it hurt too much to look at those pictures knowing that they're a complete set and there's no potential for more?  In most cases it's probably a mix depending on the moment. 
 
I know our situation is very different because Jacob is alive and well, but he's definitely a different kid than he was, particularly when we're looking at the age Carter is now.  At that point there was no hint we'd be in the situation we're in now.  While I like to think Carter's personality is very different, I can't say for sure.  It breaks my heart even thinking that we could be in this same situation with him someday.  And when I look into the face of my baby Jacob, it breaks my heart even more to think about the anger and frustration I've felt when dealing with him in these past six months.  I could never feel that way about that baby, so why do I feel that way about the big kid version?  Well, the constant beatings and rude, hurtful backtalk probably have something to do with it, but I just don't know how we got here from there. 
 
I love those pictures, but there's a little bit of sadness hanging on each one knowing that the smile we were so happy to capture just isn't the same anymore.  Oh, how I wish we could find that kid again.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Flashback

A couple weeks ago, a show I had set up to automatically tape on the DVR started popping up again with new episodes.  The show is called "Something Borrowed, Something New" and it's on TLC.  It's about daughters whose moms want them to wear their wedding dress, and a designer transforms the mom's dress into something awesome.  The bride then has to choose between a new dress and the reworked dress.  It's a fun little show and I remember watching it last winter.  In fact, I recall eagerly watching the two episodes that taped every Friday night when I was home alone with Carter during my maternity leave.  Seeing that show pop back up in my shows and watching it again has been a funny little throwback to that whirlwind couple months at the end of last winter. 

Even weirder...right around the time Carter was born, there was another TLC show that was just about to premiere.  I watched a LOT of TLC the entire time I was off, from the couple days I spent in the hospital, right through my seven weeks off, and during that time, I must have seen a few hundred commercials for this one show - "Welcome to Myrtle Manor".  There was a very obnoxious, repetitive commercial for it, particularly at the beginning, and I swear that if there was a soundtrack to my maternity leave, that would have been on it.  I watched a couple episodes once it premiered, but after my maternity leave I sort of forgot it existed.  Well, a couple weeks ago, I saw a commercial for the new season of the show.  The second I heard the name, I was momentarily, instantaneously transported back to last February with a clear vision of how I spent my maternity leave.  It was so weird how the mere mention of the name of a show I had forgotten about (albeit by the same voice that did the original commercial) instantly took me back.  I never realized how much of an impact that show had on that phase of my life.  I can probably say the same for a couple other commercials, too, but that one definitely gave me a "Pavlov" moment.

I had another moment like that, too, when I was hanging out at my parents' house a few weeks back and heard one of them playing Candy Crush on the iPad.  I gave up on level 65 ages ago, but that game was my constant companion during night feedings.  The music brings back memories of those otherwise quiet, middle of the night moments. 

I still look back so fondly on my maternity leave.  It was so peaceful and fulfilling, which shocked me considering how hard my maternity leave with Jacob felt.  I don't know why they were so different, but all I can figure is this:

1) This time the house was my comfortable little cocoon shielding me from winter, whereas with Jacob it was a 90-degree furnace.  I also appreciated not having to go out or commute in the crappy winter weather, whereas with Jacob I felt like I should go outside to escape the heat in the house and to appreciate the summer...but it was such a process to go out, so I was plenty happy to stay in the house as much as possible this time.

2) Jacob was a terrible napper and I felt compelled to try to get things done around the house so often that I found myself constantly frustrated when he'd wake up early.  This time I just tried to appreciate Carter's presence and enjoy my time with him.  He spent a lot of time in my arms and was therefore a good napper...as long as I was holding him.  But since I was okay with that from the get-go, it didn't bother me.

3) Everything started off so chaotic with Jacob and I can't help but wonder if I just never settled in quite right.  This time everything went off without a hitch--well, at least once I got over being shell-shocked from delivering three weeks early after my water broke out of the blue at work.  But I was half-expecting to go early and everything went so well afterward that everything just settled into place.  I was also so grateful for the "normal" experience that I soaked up every moment of it.

As we head into the same time of year that was the stretch run last year, I'm certainly thinking back to everything that's happened in the past year.  This was where it all started and it marked the last period I can refer to as "blissful" in our lives.  In comparison to now, anyway.  It's been a crazy year for sure, but when it comes down to it, I can't believe Carter's been here almost a full year!  This time of year drives that point home loud and clear, and it brings with it the reality--we have a party to plan!  That's a new one for this time of year, for sure!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Life just keeps moving...

I believe I've mentioned here a time or two that I have two friends with kids who have cancer.  One is a husband and wife that I knew in college, and their little girl, Amanda, was diagnosed with tumors on her spine back in the fall of 2012.  The other is a co-worker of mine who's been on leave for about eight months or so, first because she had hyperemesis early in her pregnancy early last summer, and then just as she was set to come back to work, her two-year-old son, Roman, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.  I've been following both of their stories on CaringBridge and Facebook since they each began, and as a parent it absolutely breaks your heart to see all that they've each gone through in their cancer journey.  We've been through so much with Jacob, but for all of his issues they should not be life-threatening.  Facing down the mortality of your child has to be beyond agonizing and whenever I think of what each set of parents must be going through, it makes me want to crawl in a hole and hide.  I'm sure they'd like to too, sometimes, but we all know as parents that you have no choice but to keep going and fighting for your child, no matter the battle.  I don't know how they do it.

Early on, Amanda's prognosis didn't seem particularly terrible.  Scary, yes, but never was there any indication that she couldn't beat it.  She had radiation and went through it like a champ, but in the end the tumors didn't go away.  Subsequent rounds of chemo have slowed their growth, but not to the point where things are getting better.  She's still a happy, active little girl most of the time, but lately she's been having seizure episodes.  No long term damage that they can see, but scary stuff all around.  They're still trying to find the right treatment to get her better.

Roman's case started out looking pretty serious.  It was a rare form of leukemia for kids, and the statistics weren't particularly positive.  Still, he went through multiple rounds of chemo from August to December, the last of which pretty much destroyed his immune system completely as part of the treatment.  It's the closest thing to a bone marrow transplant that they can do, and it takes a while for the body to rebuild itself after constantly being knocked down.  He had one scary episode where he got very sick for a week or so as a result of the low immune system, but fortunately he was able to battle back.  His treatments ended just before Christmas, and all of his tests are coming back perfectly so he's officially in remission!  I'm so happy for all of them and pray that he stays healthy from here on out.  The good news came just in time, since his mom had been so busy living in the hospital with him and being his main caretaker that she barely had time to prepare for baby #2, whose arrival was merely a month away!

I know them each from different walks of life, but their paths actually crossed independently of me a month or so ago.  Early on I did mention to Amanda's mom that my friend's son had been diagnosed and asked if I could pass her name along in case my friend needed an experienced person to turn to.  That never happened because I think everything was so busy and so overwhelming after Roman's diagnosis that she never got around to it, but in December they were both in the hospital at the same time for complications, and at that point they were introduced through a local organization that helps families through the cancer process.  I was happy to hear they'd met, because they're all great people and I like the thought of them being in each others' lives for mutual support.

Over the past couple days they've each had significant happy things going on, and in the midst of all they've both been dealing with, I think it's neat to see that life does indeed go on despite their circumstances.  Early Sunday morning Roman's mom became a mom of two with the arrival (a few days ahead of schedule) of her baby boy.  All is well and I sincerely hope she has plenty of opportunity to enjoy her time with both of her healthy little boys!

Today is Amanda's fifth birthday.  It comes on the heels of a very difficult few days with another seizure episode and some tough decisions surrounding her treatment, but they are so grateful to have this milestone birthday to celebrate, and fortunately she was feeling good for her party over the weekend.  This morning her mom shared a video online of Amanda's first five years.  It really puts everything in perspective--how a seemingly normal, lively little girl (just like any of our kids) can suddenly have her life turned upside down by illness.  If you have a few minutes, please go watch the video and send up a prayer for her.  She and her family could really use it.  But for today, they're content just to celebrate rather than dwell on the sadness.

As a parent I find these parents so inspiring.  Whenever I feel bad about our situation or find myself complaining about a first-world problem, I always tend to think about these two families and all that they've been through.  Our situation is not easy, for sure, but it could be worse.  Neither of these families is out of the woods (are you ever with cancer?), but I admire how both are able to celebrate the little moments with so much more gusto because of all that they've been through.  I hope that I can keep that in mind in my own life when it seems hard to bypass the small stuff and see the bigger picture of how blessed we are.  No, it doesn't change our reality, but it can help us fight another day because we know just how good it can be.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

This Week in Blog History

It's amazing to think that this blog has been going on for over six years now.  When I started it I had no idea how long I'd really keep it up.  I did well with a website back in the day, but eventually I stopped updating that...but would it be any different when it was about my own family?  Turns out I shouldn't have worried.  I do wonder how long I can keep this up, and I worry about Carter getting the shaft in the long run since I've documented more than five years (and counting) of Jacob's life, and what if I can't do the same for Carter?  Still, six years of posts is pretty amazing.

Sometimes it's fun to look back and see how we've progressed.  A while back I did a post like this and planned on doing it more when blog fodder was low, but I don't really think I ever did.  So, today, I will.  As a side note, we learned this weekend that Carter can climb stairs (while having a grown-up shadow, of course!) and that he's getting much closer to saying "Mama".  Well, he can say it, but we're not sure he gets it yet.  But he might, ever so slightly.  Fingers crossed on my end to make that word #1!  And now, without further ado...

2008 - I was doing some maternity shopping with mixed success.  I was waiting to feel baby movement.  I was enjoying most of pregnancy so far despite my all of my reading giving me a lot of things to worry about.  I put together a giant desk that moved into our office in order to accommodate some switcheroos happening in making our guest room into the baby's room and the office into an office/guest room combo.  It was a cautiously exciting time in general...so many unknowns, but so many exciting new things ahead.

2009 - Jacob was seven months old (equivalent to Carter when we were in Disney, for reference).  I was marveling at how life with a baby had become our new normal, and how exhausting but rewarding it all was.  Jacob was recovering from his second bout of bronchiolitis, both of which left him with nasty coughs that lasted for months.  Fortunately, he was in between bad bouts of sleeping troubles, which was a major relief.  He seemed to be getting closer to crawling, but in reality he still had more than a couple months before he accomplished that milestone.  He was still having a lot of trouble with solid foods, but I was hoping that daycare peer pressure would help him along there.  We also did our first visit with long-distance buddy Colin, who was a couple months younger than Jacob and in town visiting his grandparents with his mom Laurie.  It was so cute to see them together.

2010 - Jacob was nearing 18 months and was starting to talk.  He had a number of words in his vocabulary, including "Amerks" and "Knighthawks".  Very important words!  His love of sports was already quite clear, and in addition to running around the house with a stick of some sort, he was getting more creative in his play.  He was adjusting to his new daycare that he started at the beginning of the year, but it was a long process that involved a lot of tears and quite a few bad reports.  It seemed to take a long time for the folks at the new daycare to appreciate him the way the ones at the old daycare did, but now they love him despite his challenges.  His behavior was starting to get very challenging at times, and he even had recently jumped out of his crib in frustration one night.  We were in the process of selling our house, which was crazy.  We were close to getting an offer on our house, which was important to keep the deal we had on the house we have now.  Thank goodness it all worked out!  Craig and I enjoyed a night in Toronto without Jacob for a Knighthawks game, which was a nice break.  God knows we could use one of those right now!

2011 - We were starting to make real efforts to get Jacob potty trained.  I bought him underwear and created a potty chart.  It would be a while still before we had any success with that, though.  Nearly a year, I think!  We also had Jacob's mole removal surgery on his leg, which was stressful leading up to it but a non-event once it happened.  Luckily no other suspicious ones have showed up since.  The scar on his leg is barely visible, and someday it will all be covered in hair anyway!

2012 - Jacob was just getting over his pneumonia/strep throat/stomach bug debacle that almost landed him in the hospital.  He had crushes on his daycare teachers, and even claimed to have sent one birthday flowers from her boyfriend!  We were in the process of trying for baby #2, but pretty much at the point where we had to take a break from trying because of our upcoming trip to Florida--which of course didn't happen when it was supposed to after all.  The break was to avoid being massively pregnant when the trip was supposed to happen.  I pondered the reasons why God was allowing us to go through the fertility issues, and most of my reasons ended up being pretty true.  We were starting to deal with some of Jacob's behavior issues, but he was also showing us amazing skills like doing puzzles, which was really cool to see.

2013 - I was largely pregnant and getting very uncomfortable.  The bad pressure was starting and while I didn't know it at the time, I was only about 3-4 weeks away from Carter's arrival.  I was really worried about going early for a lot of reasons, and the discomfort was really starting to get to me.  We had gotten some major projects around the house taken care of, but the baby's room still needed a lot of work.  My co-workers threw me a small, surprise shower which gave me a big gift card that got used up pretty quickly when I went to replenish our stock of baby stuff!  I was worrying about life with two kids, and even wrote a letter to an as-yet-unnamed Carter about being baby boy #2 in our home.  I told him about his brother, about how I'd wanted a girl, how this pregnancy (and all the waiting leading up to it) had been, and encouraged him to stay in there as long as possible.  At least he listened for a little bit!

It's hard to believe how much history we've got behind us in this parenting gig, considering this was just a week out of each year and there were a lot of significant things happening almost every year.  As much as I'd like to think things were so much simpler then, I know that each period had stresses of its own (though, of course, nothing quite as serious and concrete as we're dealing with now, with major behavioral concerns and serious, permanent diet changes).  It's quite the history I'm writing, though, isn't it?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Day Gluten Got Him

So...yesterday.  Craig called me when I was in the car on my way to get Carter.  He'd already gotten Jacob and they were at Wegmans picking up snacks and a movie.  As an afterthought, he said to me, "Hey, Jacob ate gluten today."  What the...?  We're still not sure what happened.  He ate pretzel goldfish.  That we know.  He says that someone at afterschool told him they were okay, but that person denied saying that.  The afterschool folks are well aware of his issue, though I'm not sure how fully they understand Celiac disease in general.  Still, I don't really think they'd tell him they're okay.  At the same time, Jacob has always been almost more conscientious than us.  What he lacks in literacy and general education, he makes up for in watching what he can.  For example, a couple times he's told me that he's thrown things out at lunch because the lunch lady opened it for him and her gloves touched things with gluten.  Whether or not that's really the case or whether it would have made a difference, I'm not sure.  But he's always looked out for stuff like that, and he usually knows better than to eat things that people offer him, so I'm confused. 

One theory I have is that he did it on purpose.  That sounds ridiculous, but he's been a little disgruntled lately about his diet.  He won't usually complain about it outright, but I can tell he's sad when he asks if things have gluten and I say yes.  What he does do is tell us he doesn't like certain foods that he should like.  Granted, a lot of our food has changed a bit in recent months.  We still haven't found a homemade pizza crust we like, and a lot of other foods have been tweaked slightly.  But he's now complaining about things that he ate fine for the first couple months, or things that there's no reason he should complain about (like our spaghetti, which is almost identical right down to the sauce).  He's complained about the bread, rolls, pizza, spaghetti, pretzels, cookies, crackers, cereal, cheese, and everything else possible, even though some of them are the same things he's always eaten and liked.  My theory is that he's complaining about everything in hopes that we'll give in and let him eat food with gluten.  He's practically admitted to it without using those words.  Obviously that's not happening, but Jacob isn't exactly a kid who accepts reality. 

So, part of me wonders if he did it because he convinced himself he could eat gluten and he wanted to rebel against us.  It's hard to say, and we will certainly be chatting with the afterschool folks on Tuesday, but it doesn't really matter at this point.  He ate it.  And I can bet he won't willingly do it again.  It's been bad.  Not as bad as it could have been, but bad.

He seemed off when he got home last night.  He was tired.  Awake enough to play video games, but very unwilling to move unnecessarily.  In the meantime, I was having a hard time figuring out dinner.  There are many places that we could go to dinner menu-wise, but we're always hesitant to do so because the risk of cross-contamination is pretty high.  Fast food is an issue, and because we thought that Jacob's behavior seemed tied to possible cross-contamination issues, we were always hesitant to bring that on ourselves.  Well...knowing he had already had gluten, it seemed like cross-contamination wouldn't be the difference between sanity (which, honestly, we haven't had in a few weeks) and craziness, so I figured we could try one of the borderline places.  I don't want to sound blasé, because I know any gluten isn't good, but exposure wasn't a sure-thing anyway.  I just figured it wasn't going to make much of a difference considering what he'd eaten earlier so we might as well take advantage.  So, I went to McDonald's to pick up our food.  They were very confused by my order, but they seem to have a pretty good handle on allergies so I think we may try again when we need something quick on the go. 

He ate his cheeseburger (no bun), a couple fries, and his apples, but by then it was apparent that he was feeling the effects.  He was exhausted and didn't want to move.  He fell asleep during a movie and Craig put him in bed, but he woke up  a little while later sad and uncomfortable.  He thought he was going to be sick so we set up the "puke zone" in his room (comforter on the floor for him to sleep on, bucket nearby) and Craig stayed in there for part of the night.  He called for Craig again in the middle of the night, but no puking, thankfully.  He and Craig snoozed on and off until 10am, and then Jacob spent the entire day on the couch.  He got up a couple times to go to the bathroom, but that was about it.  He could barely lift his head up.  His belly hurt, he had a low-grade fever, and he was congested.  We figure it may be a combination of the gluten and a cold coming on.  Either way, he was so sad and so pathetic.  He barely ate, even things he loves.  He didn't play at all.  My parents were here for the day and he barely responded.  We had to miss both Jacob's lacrosse game and the Knighthawks game tonight.  He perked up a little bit when he got to watch the game online, talking a little more and sitting up, but he conked out just as quickly.  Poor kid.

He's lucky because his symptoms weren't that bad.  They'll probably get worse the longer he's off gluten, but this time was bad enough and he didn't even have to battle the constant bathroom visits that a lot of people do when this happens.  The odd thing is that I can't help but wonder about the times that we thought he might have been exposed to gluten.  There have been times where he's had some small exposures or we thought he might have been exposed.  Those times it seems like his behavior just went a little haywire.  The difference this time is so huge that I wonder if he really did get exposed most recently.  In that case, the difference between the levels is surprising.  Or...maybe his most recent spike in bad behavior has nothing to do with gluten.  It definitely leaves us with questions, but one thing is not in question--that gluten no longer agrees with him.  If he did this on purpose, I can tell you that I don't envision him doing it again.  Now, he might convince himself that something else won't do the same thing, but hopefully we can make it very clear that gluten food will do this to him every time, if not worse.   Hopefully he'll be better in the next day or so, but he could be off for a week.  It's quite the price to pay for one bad decision made by a five year old boy. 

Gluten stinks.  Again.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

11 Months!


How is it even possible that a month from today we'll be celebrating this little guy's first birthday?!  It doesn't even compute in my mind most of the time.  This year has been seriously fast...or at least we've been seriously preoccupied and time has flown by in the meantime. 

It's a good thing that we're only down to one more of these pictures because his ability to sit nicely without lunging toward me or grabbing the sign is seriously waning.  I was lucky I got this one!  What a goof ball.

As of 11 months he is possibly the nicest terror ever!  He is still a happy, sweet baby, but oh boy is he a handful!  I can barely keep him on the changing table and Jacob's toys are a constant source of temptation for him.  If it's not put away, he's totally into trying to grab it.  This week I set up his play yard in the corner of the living room to contain him once in a while so I don't have to spend all my time redirecting him or telling him "no".  Initially he liked it better than the pack and play, but let's face it--if he wants mommy, he wants mommy...and he will cry for a half hour straight if he has to!

You'll notice in the picture above that there's a little circle on the left side of his forehead.  That is a giant bruise/goose egg on his forehead from bashing it into a door frame at daycare.  He's been doing this thing where he flops himself forward quite forcefully, often when he's angry.  If he's sitting up he will fold in half in a split second.  Apparently he tried that and whacked his head.  Oy. 

He cracks me up, though.  He loves his mommy, loves clapping and waving, has eight teeth, and could eat ham, Cheerios, and Kix all day.  I just can't get over how quickly our time with him has gone and I look forward to celebrating with him soon!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In the storm...





I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining
This song has been around for quite a few years now, but the lyrics popped into my head yesterday morning, because this is how I've been feeling lately.  We've been through so much in the past six months or so, and despite raised hopes a few times, nothing has worked and we're still in the midst of this major challenge.  I feel like over the years when I've been faced with daunting situations, there's always been something--a well-timed "coincidence", just enough good news to keep me going, a song I needed to hear, a perfect rainbow or glorious sunset--that reminds me that God is there and I'm not going through something alone.  While there have been a couple songs and maybe one sunset, this time around the problem is so big that it's drowning out those small reminders that God is right there through all of it.  I feel like He's been shockingly quiet considering the gravity of our situation.

I suppose it hasn't helped that I probably haven't been listening as well as I should be.  I'm tired.  Very tired.  I can barely get through the first few items in my bedtime prayers before I am out cold.  I can barely get through the things I need to do in any given day, let alone having time to focus on reading the Bible regularly.  Even if I tried in-depth prayer prior to bedtime, I'd bet good money I'd fall asleep then, too.  I often had that problem in college, and I can only imagine it would be worse now.  I chalk it up to God allowing me to relax and granting me the rest I need, but it doesn't really help the prayer life much, huh?

I do believe that God knows our needs without us saying a word, and when I'm shedding tears over the most recent parent fail episode with Jacob, I do more or less picture myself as throwing myself at God's feet in a complete state of defeat.  Still, I'm sure a little more conscious, fervent prayer wouldn't hurt.  I really need to work on that.

Ever since these issues started, I've been praying for God to heal Jacob.  Even if he's never a "normal" kid, I do want him to be able to grow up and be a functional adult.  The Celiac disease isn't going anywhere, unfortunately, but I am praying for technological advances that would render it harmless!  As for myself, I've prayed for patience, for sure, but I decided that I need to be praying for healing of myself, too.  All of this has weighed heavily, and while I do need every drop of that patience, I also need to be healed of the anger that Jacob's behavior provokes.  The constant talking back, potty talk, name-calling, physical responses....all of it brings out so much anger in me.  Yelling just makes him angrier and spankings only make him hit more, but there have been times where I just don't know what else to do...so an instinctual reaction comes out.  A couple times I've surprised myself with the force with which it did, and I hate that feeling.  If I were watching myself from outside my body, I'm sure I'd be appalled.  None of it may do long-term physical damage, but I'm sure there are emotional scars there.  In fact, I know there are, and I'm just not sure how to fix that.  It's frustrating, though, because Jacob refuses to believe that he "starts" anything.  He could just come up and smack us out of the blue, and if we were to smack him back, he would say that we're the "bad" ones for hitting him, even if it was clearly retaliatory.  Hence why dealing with him can be incredibly frustrating and nonsensical much of the time.  It's like he simply doesn't believe that anything he does is in any way annoying or hurtful...so on top of the behavior itself, there is absolutely zero remorse or effort to control it.  And that may be what makes it harder than anything else to deal with.

Regardless, we are the adults and we're supposed to be the ones with restraint.  Still, we're human, so it's no wonder we lose it after a constant string of trying behaviors wear us down.  I'm pretty sure that if Jacob was unlucky enough to get some other parents out there, he'd be in a far worse situation.  For all our faults, we've done our best to remain patient.  Some parents out there probably wouldn't be so understanding and he'd probably have ended up in the hospital or worse.  Still, I feel like a failure of a parent most of the time, for many reasons.  I wonder if I did something while I was pregnant or nursing that impacted him...or if one of the many medications he's been on over the years could have caused this...or if I reprimanded him too much when he was younger so my scolding stopped having an impact...or if something else I did just made him disengage.  I'm not sure how I would have handled Carter's arrival differently or what else I could have done, but in a situation like this you constantly question yourself.  And with another kid, you wonder what you should do differently, or if any of it will make a difference.  I worry about what Carter is taking away from all the yelling in our house, or all that he sees Jacob do to us.  It scares me that it will become too normal for him.  As I watch him smile at Jacob as Jacob screams angrily in his face, I wonder if he will have trouble with social cues like Jacob sometimes does.  Going through all of this makes you second guess everything, and it's easy to feel completely lost.

I often wonder why we need to go through this.  I can't imagine what purpose God could have in bringing all of these challenges into our lives.  We only have one life to live, and if it's full of food intolerances and behavioral specialists, that's not really how I dreamed my life would be.  All I can figure at this point is that I left no choice but for God to allow some adversity because it might be the only way to get me back on track.  I'm sure there's more to it than that, but for now, that's the closest thing I have to making any sense of this. 

I do wish God would just swoop down and fix our problems, but I know there's a method to the madness so we just need to hang in there and appreciate the process.  It's not easy, it's not fun, it's not how I want my life to be, but it is what it is right now and we just need to pray for strength to get through.  I know I need to fall back on my faith and find ways to strengthen it.  I may not know how to do that right now, but like the rest of this situation, we simply need to find a way.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Still here...

Sorry I've been so quiet lately.  Let's just say there haven't been many moments I've wanted to immortalize recently.  I'm not taking much joy in parenthood right now, and as such writing about it hasn't been particularly fun.  Usually it's a good way to vent and sort through my issues, but the problems we have right now aren't going to be fixed by any amount of typing.  Jacob's issues are so much bigger than that now, and the weight of all that we're going through makes it pretty hard to function at all a lot of the time. 

This weekend was challenging enough with both kids that Monday almost sounds appealing.  I'm tired of hearing myself yell, and I'm starting to believe that Jacob's firmly held belief that I am a "bad mommy" isn't too far from the truth.  I've had a lot of moments I'm not proud of, usually caused by desperation and the inability to constantly tolerate his ridiculousness.  Between him wanting to physically pester us a good portion of the time, and him constantly running his mouth--talking back, potty talk, yelling at Carter for no reason--it is like Chinese water torture, a constant barrage of seemingly minor but still annoying issues that all bubble up into a giant problem.  You never know which "drop" is going to put you over the edge.  Carter wasn't helping matters this weekend, as I'm guessing he might be working on a few more teeth (one year molars, maybe?).  He's constantly trying to gnaw on me, and probably bit me a good half dozen times this weekend alone.  He also didn't want to be put down for long, and was making a constant break for Jacob's toys.  Originally it looked like I would get his new play yard before the weekend, but thanks to UPS being so far behind due to "adverse weather" (what weather, I have no idea...our weather was never that bad this week so I'm not sure how they got that far behind), it is caught in some weird limbo at the facility here in town.  I really could have used the extra backup this weekend, because if it's in Carter's sights and is something he shouldn't be touching, he will stop at nothing to get it.  So, between constantly policing him, and dealing with crying fits and Jacob's constant complaining about something (food, Carter, his clothes, his toys, etc.), there were plenty of moments this weekend where the constant barrage was just too much.  There were some ugly guttural screams and a lot of tears (from various sources), and even after getting out of the house a bit tonight, I feel no better.  It gets to a point where, yes, it's nice to not be dealing with the constant barrage for a bit, but the heavy reality of what you're dealing with never really leaves you. 

I get a lot of "It'll be fine" and "It will all work out", and while for a bit I really believed that, my hope is wavering.  We thought the diet would do it, we thought the therapy might help, we thought Jacob would adjust to Carter when he got to be more fun...but here we are months later, and nothing is better.  It's probably worse, in fact.  And, you know, some people's situations just don't get better.  Who's to say we're not one of those?  Last week there was a big story around here about a kid from our town who walked out of his family's house on New Year's Day and went missing.  He's a 20 year old guy from a nice neighborhood.  It came out later that he had a discussion with his parents about his future, though no details about the intensity of the conversation have really come out.  Long story short, four days after he left, an AP photographer took a picture of a homeless guy in Washington, D.C., warming himself by a steam grate.  They printed it in the USA Today, and someone here saw it and realized it was the kid.  In four days he went from a kid in the 'burbs to a homeless guy in D.C.  I'm not saying this kid has any mental issues or anything like that, but to allow yourself to go down a path like that involves some pretty heavy stuff.  I won't lie, I worry that something like that could be our future with Jacob.  He's impulsive and won't listen to reason.  There's no guarantee that medication will level him out, given that he's not currently matching any specific diagnosis, and he doesn't understand that his behavior is problematic, no matter how much we explain to him that it is.  Who's to say that he won't understand someday when we're trying to give him advice or point him in the right direction, and he'll leave and get caught up with the wrong people?  I know that this is a big leap, but like I said, not everyone gets the happy ending. 

I keep hoping that we've overlooked some weird biological issue and some level is off and impacting his personality so greatly.  But every kid with mental issues or ADHD or whatever else surely had a moment where they went from fine enough to not fine, and perhaps Jacob hit his over the summer, with no true cause other than it being programmed into his genes.  I have no doubt that Carter's arrival was stressful for him, and while that may have been a trigger, I don't think that's the overriding issue here anymore.  There are a lot of odd behaviors and a few weird regressions, and the whole thing has left us both stumped.  It's a giant puzzle that no one has been able to solve yet.  We're in the process of getting in with a new doctor, a behavioral specialist, who can hopefully up the ante a bit and explore some new avenues for treatment.  While I'm at least hoping for some more intense behavioral therapy (though I question how Jacob will ever learn to apply behavior modification when he refuses to believe his behavior needs modifying), I wouldn't be against some sort of in-home evaluation or heck, even a brain scan, to figure out what on earth is causing him to be such a challenge. 

I will say that I liked it better when he was just ignoring Carter.  He's now moved on to loathing every aspect of Carter's existence.  He can't stand his noises, is bothered by the smells of his food, hates that Carter is happy all the time, and is completely frustrated by the fact that he can scream in Carter's face and Carter just laughs and smiles at him.  For the record, it concerns me a bit, given Jacob's apparent disregard for social cues, that Carter is completely unphased and even amused by Jacob's angry tirades directed at him.  For now I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he's just so obsessed with his big brother (as most babies are with big kids) that he's just excited to get any acknowledgement out of him.  But Jacob is infuriated every time Carter giggles at his antics, even though we've explained that he's not laughing at him like he's making fun of him, but rather he just thinks that everything Jacob does is a hilarious performance.  Jacob does not like that at all.  He's been saying lately that he wants to hit him, and the fact that he's getting close enough to yell or shove a pillow to block him from his toys makes me worry that he's getting that much closer to acting on his urges.  Then what?

This post is already long enough and I know there was probably more I wanted to say.  I just don't have words for the sadness I'm feeling right now.  I just don't have any answers and the possible solutions just aren't looking promising to me right now.  I just feel so stuck.  I'm sure I'll have more to relate tomorrow, but right now I just need to get some sleep.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Video Tuesday

I woke up this morning thinking it was Wednesday.  No such luck.  I kept myself entertained much of the day by watching the live blog on the Buffalo News website with coverage of the Blizzard of 2014.  We didn't get much here--it's been in the low single digits all day (zero this morning) with wind chills well below zero.  It's hardly snowed but there has still been plenty blowing around.  Jacob's school was closed so he went to daycare today.  But Buffalo, on the other hand, is nearly as paralyzed as Buffalo gets.  Everything's a whiteout so there's a driving ban nearly everywhere.  I sort of wished I was forced to be holed up in my house, but no such luck. 

Since I have some other things to do tonight besides write a lengthy blog post, here are some videos from the past month or so...

I had mentioned that we went to see a "singing house" on Christmas Eve.  Here is a video of it singing "Amazing Grace"...


...and "Santa and I Know It"...


And here is Carter trying out his walker...


Finally, here is the video of the singing Tesla coils at the science museum...


Sorry it's not more, but entertaining snippets on a chilly night, eh?

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Home Stretch, One Year Later

Last year at this time we were getting into the final home stretch before Carter's arrival.  The time that's normally hardcore winter doldrums for me was transformed into a busy time of preparations, and ultimately, survival of a brutal last few weeks of pregnancy.  It's amazing for me to think that one year ago I was less than six weeks away from Carter's arrival and we were in the throes of so many projects to prepare. 

Over Christmas break last year we got new carpet in our bedroom and Jacob's new room, and once that was done we got Jacob set up in somewhat temporary digs in the new room.  It wasn't until a couple weeks into January that we (read: I) got his furniture assembled and shifted the rest of his stuff into his new room.  A year later, the room still isn't quite as decorated as I'd like it to be, but with how his tastes change these days, that's probably not the worst thing in the world. 

In the end I didn't get Carter's room done until pretty much the week before he arrived, which was actually much the same as with Jacob.  The room got painted less than two weeks before his arrival, and I believe I was moving in the baby clothes and all that the weekend before.  Nothing like the last minute!

Of course, this final push took place in the midst of my feeling like absolute crap most of the time.  I wasn't sleeping well, and every waking moment I was in some sort of discomfort.  I had sciatica at my desk all day, and any sort of walking or other effort I exerted for the last three weeks or so brought on pressure (possibly contractions--to this day I have no idea if that's what they were).  Those three weeks alone were torture at times, and for that reason alone I don't think I could do it again.  Well, that and the first trimester nausea and the fear that another baby would come even earlier than the first two, among 400 other reasons why we're stopping at two.

On the bright side, the period of time that usually encompasses some of the hardest weeks for me mentally during the year (when winter's at its worst and spring seems like it's never going to come) flew by last year because of everything surrounding the baby.  The worst of winter was spent preparing and then holing up in the house after he was born, and those frustrating weeks waiting for spring to make its entrance were mostly spent cozied up on the couch with Carter and making short trips out into the world.  My maternity leave was one of the most blissful periods I have ever spent, despite Jacob's (not-as-bad-as-now) behavior issues and my eventual agonizing over giving up breastfeeding.  I savored so much of that time where I could just cuddle my baby, watch mindless TV, and focus on the things that mattered most.  It's sort of been all downhill from there, as the hole of to-dos I've dug myself as I've gotten increasingly behind on everything has been a bear to get out of.  My nine days off plus another weekend went a long way toward improving that situation, but there's still so much left to do and I fear it will start its eventual descent again.  Still, I took care of a lot of projects I've been pondering for up to a year, like getting up my bedroom curtains (which I really like) and decorating the walls above the toys (with the fancy easy-change frames, no less). 

It's nice to finish up some long-standing projects, even if I have a few new ones taking their place.  I suppose it's nice to not have a rapidly approaching, inexact deadline for the projects this time around!  But it was sort of fun last year to spend this cold, gray time of year getting excited about something awesome.  This year we can enjoy Carter's upcoming milestones--first birthday, standing, walking, talking--and that's got to get us through because we have a whole different set of other issues keeping us preoccupied. 

As much as I can't believe it was a year ago that we were in the final stages of waiting for Carter, I really can't believe we're less than six weeks away from his first birthday now!  I really have to get on the party planning train ASAP, because it's going to be here before we know it!  This year has absolutely flown by, and I can hardly believe that tiny, skinny little baby is getting so big and turning into such an awesome little boy.  He is still such a joy to everyone that meets him, and I feel so blessed to be his mommy...even if he needs to be with me every waking moment right now!  I'm trying to enjoy it while it lasts, because I'm well aware of how it can go the other way.  He's awesome and I can't believe it's been nearly a year since he brought his little light into our lives.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Status Update

So, it's officially back to the usual grind tomorrow.  Jacob is finally back to school, and we'll all have a full week of everything for the first time in a while.  Ugh.  It was easier going back to work knowing that I only had to do it for two days before getting two more off.  This was also a weekend off for Craig, which won't happen again for a while, so it was even more appealing than most.  I got a few more things done that I really wanted to do, which felt good.  There's still a bit of a mess under our tree, and I'll start taking Christmas stuff down next weekend.  Still a long to do list in general, but I feel a lot better than I did a couple weeks ago!

One of my goals for this weekend was to buy a play yard for Carter because he is constantly trying to get to Jacob's toys or the stairs or the tree or our coffee table/ottoman.  I know he won't stand for being in the pack-n-play, but I'm hoping the more open play yard can be used to give him an area and to block the stairs if we want to let him roam a little more.  Of course, Babies 'R' Us was sold out of the one I wanted so now I'm buying a different one online.  It seems a little extreme for what may be only a handful of months where we'll need it, but I think our circumstances with Carter are different than with Jacob.  We moved here when Jacob was a little over 21 months old.  Prior to that there wasn't much trouble Jacob could get into at our old house.  Here we have a fireplace and two sets of stairs, along with all of Jacob's toys, and I don't want to spend the next 10 months constantly dragging Carter away from all of it.  I want to give him room to roam, though, so play yard it is.  I hope it works out okay.

On the Jacob front, he's been brutal all week.  We're not quite sure what's going on.  It seemed to start after we ate out last week, so we thought maybe he just got glutened.  But it seemed like the effects of that should only last a couple days, whereas this has kept going all week.  He's been so much worse than usual.  Lots of hitting, absolute refusal to do anything we ask, completely illogical, and the desire to be annoying pretty much all the time.  He's even yelling at Carter, rather than ignoring him like he used to.  It's been horrible, pretty much a throwback to how he was back in September right before he was diagnosed with Celiac disease.  We can't figure out anything in his diet that would be an ongoing source of gluten, so either it's taking longer to get out of his system or it's something else.  There are times where it feels like it's some sort of hormonal shift or something.  It is truly incredible to see how oblivious he is to how difficult he's being.  He laughs through it all, continues the annoying behaviors, and cannot make the connection that his bad behavior causes him to miss out on things he wants to do...even though we make it very clear.  There's something that simply isn't wired correctly.  Normally it's difficult enough, but this week it has been completely short circuiting.  I wonder how we're ever going to get him functional because most of the treatment for stuff like this is behavior modification, but if he doesn't understand that what he's doing is wrong or undesirable (even though we're constantly telling him), how will he know that he needs to use the techniques to modify his behavior?  We're going to be contacting a new behavior specialist to see if we can get a more specialized opinion, and we're still waiting on the school district's evaluation, which was in progress back in December when I last talked to the school psychologist.  Did I ever mention that the questionnaires that we and his teacher filled out for his pediatrician came back without any specific diagnosis?  The answers did not come back indicating ADHD or anything else.  Good news, bad news, I guess.  We definitely need to do something, though, because this is not working.  Hopefully one of these days he will wake up back to "normal" (manageable but difficult).  I can't help but wonder at what point we scan his brain or something.  Anyway, it'll be interesting to see how he does back at school this week.  Maybe the routine will be good for him.  We can hope.

As for Carter, aside from him trying to get into everything, he's still incredibly cute.  He's still a mama's boy, constantly trying to climb into my lap and screaming if I'm anywhere in the vicinity but not the one holding him.  He's better than he was over Christmas, though, and much happier.  I can put him down a bit if I'm close by, and he's smiling so much more than he was.  He can be such a cutie, and he's got a great sense of comedic timing.  He loves playing peek-a-boo and he does this funny little thing where he sort of grunts or shrieks and jerks his body, almost like he's trying to get your attention or you surprised him.  It's funny. 

On the eating front things are a little better.  I'm still very cautious and haven't had the guts to try dairy again, but I'm trying to find things he can eat in the meantime.  He's addicted to Cheerios and is enjoying Kix cereal as well.  He loves when I give him little pieces of ham, too.  I also did some canned fruit in the last week, which he gobbled up, too.  It cracks me up to watch him eat, because he's still getting the hang of it but manages to find funny ways to get the finger foods in his mouth!  He's been pretty good about eating his baby food and cereal, but I can tell he loves his people food even more.  I just need to figure out what else to give him.  I looked at non-gluten-free breads the other day, but half of them have honey (which is a no-no for babies) and the other half have grains I haven't tried or some sort of dairy.  So much of what we eat has rice flour in it, so I either have to buy separate things for him (that we most likely won't use up), or get more creative.  It's a slow process, but he's made good progress.  And now he's finally getting tooth #8, the one I've been waiting for forever, so chewing will hopefully continue to get easier.  We started brushing teeth this week, too!  He's getting to be such a big boy with pulling up and trying to use his walker, but I think we still have a long wait before he'll be walking.

So, long story short, we're all a little tired around here these days...two kids that need a lot of attention for different reasons, and two parents with a lot going on at work and at home.  We're hanging in there, one day at a time right now.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Good Riddance 2013...

Well, it's been an interesting week.  I've been trying to get projects done here and there, with some degree of success.  I put all of my CDs into books today, finally got the easy-change frames for the kids' artwork hung in the toy corner of the living room, and have mostly sorted through my pictures from the summer so I could clear out my camera's memory card.  It's been a challenge managing both kids mostly on my own, and it's a good reminder why I'm not a stay-at-home mom.  Jacob has been difficult and Carter has been happy but needy.  Naptime has been helpful, but it's been a weird week nonetheless. 

Last Friday Lori came to give the boys their gifts--Jacob as her godson and Carter because it's his first Christmas.  Jacob got a Dick's gift card and a snowball maker...
Yes, Jacob is wearing shorts and moose socks.  Welcome to our world.
Carter got some sleepers and pop beads.  I had suggested those since I felt like he needed some basic toys that don't make as much noise!
I think he likes them!
He is also enjoying his walker, by the way.  He's not doing fantastically well with it yet, but he can take a few steps with it!

Saturday we went to the Knighthawks home opener, and Jacob got to go on the field with the rest of Hurricanes Lacrosse to be part of the tunnel that welcomes the team out on the floor. 

You can't see him here, but he's somewhere in the middle right by the bright lights.

He enjoyed the experience and it was a good game.  The Knighthawks raised their championship banner and started the season with a win.  Sunday was a relatively lazy, uneventful day.

Monday we took a trip to the Rochester Museum and Science Center.  I'd never been there before, and neither had Jacob.  I had a buy one get one free ticket and needed to use it this week, so I figured it was worth the trip.  It was an interesting mix of old school history and newer technologies.  One of the more interesting things was the tesla coil "concert".  Tesla coils emit electricity and make very loud noises while doing it, and they harnessed the noises into musical performances.  Here's a picture, but hopefully I'll upload the video soon...  

Carter did great wearing headphones to block out the noise, and was transfixed as he watched.  Jacob enjoyed it, too. 

As interesting as the newer technology stuff is, some of my favorite stuff was the old-school dioramas, typical of what I remember from my field trips to similar museums.  Here's one showing Rochester back in the 1800s.  I actually recognized a church in a different part of the display.

Jacob's favorite part was the Native American history.  This life-sized display had audio along with it, and a lacrosse stick in the background.

The statues below were at the front of the exhibit but didn't have an explanation, and Jacob asked the entire way through why the Indian had snakes in her (his) hair.

Turns out it was a symbolic thing about combing the snakes out prior to the two Indians signing a pact. 

Carter was delightfully patient the whole time.   I caught him here with his foot up on the stroller, just hanging out...

Here's another Native American diorama.  Seriously, these things are pretty cool.

Here's Jacob in front of another one...

And here's a display we stumbled across showing lacrosse!

There were a lot of hands-on activities, but we didn't take a lot of time to do them.  Jacob did, however, like the water and sand table.

He also liked the giant mastodon skeleton (and the "clothed" one in the background).  Who knew they found two of these in Rochester?!

Craig had a little fun with the dinosaur dress-up area...

All in all it was a pretty good visit.  Today was a pretty awful day behavior-wise (maybe a glutening at dinner last night?), but luckily Jacob fell asleep watching a movie tonight so at least we didn't have a bedtime battle to finish out the year.  Craig and I watched Love Actually while I wrote this blog post and had to pause it in the last few minutes so we could watch the ball drop. 

Even though I know the end of the year doesn't mean a darn thing, I am very happy to see 2013 bite the dust.  Aside from Carter's birth, the year was pretty darn crappy.  Way too much stress, lots of bad news, and a lot of changes.  I know that waking up tomorrow nothing will really be any different except for the date I write on my checks, but I'm hoping for a miraculous turnaround nonetheless.  When I realized that our baby would be born in "unlucky" 2013, I was actually a little annoyed.  I knew it was ridiculous, but now that we've gone through the year, I feel like that annoyance wasn't entirely out of line.  It was a rough year, for sure.  The "13" had nothing to do with it, but it seems like a like of people were happy to see this year go.  We are among them.  Hopefully we are on to bigger and better things...better help for Jacob, an easier time with our gluten-free/rice intolerant food situation, Carter's first birthday, a little less craziness with our jobs, and far more good news than bad. 

Good riddance, 2013.  And 2014, please be gentle.  We need a break.  Happy New Year, everyone!