Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reflections on "Vacation"

Well, we're back to our usual existence--kids at daycare, parents at work--and so far the transition back has been OK.  I'll admit that I pretty much reached my limit on togetherness by Sunday afternoon.  There were a lot of things that made Sunday tough, including a scheduling glitch that caused me to miss an event I had been looking forward to--a party to celebrate the 3rd birthday and remission from leukemia for my friend's son.  I was so upset about that, for many reasons, and it sort of took the wind out of my sails for the rest of the day.  To the point that when we got home from our weekend in Buffalo I went into my bedroom, closed the door, and stayed there for a couple hours until I had the composure to function.  Of course, Jacob still tried my patience every chance he got, and Carter is such a handful that it takes a lot of energy and patience to keep him out of trouble, and by last night I was definitely lacking in that department.  Being with both of them all week definitely took a toll on both of us.  I know that sounds terrible, but it's true.  Being on duty 24/7 can be very challenging.  With Jacob everything is a battle, and with Carter, you're always having to be aware.  That much time together means that there are many more instances in an uninterrupted span of time where you have to do the disciplining.  Normally they get some disciplining from teachers at daycare/school for part of the day, and us at home for part of the day.  But without that change of scenery, it's all us, all the time, and that's not really fun for anyone...they don't want to get it, and we get sick of dishing it out.  When we're all having a good time together, the time together great...but when we're not, it's that much worse because we don't get a break.

Jacob had his good moments during the week--a very good first day on our trip, lots of time spent playing Legos by himself without being asked--but spending the week with him really brought to light a lot of his challenges right now.  It reminded me that we still have major battles ahead of us, particularly as first grade looms.  His attention span is zero.  You can tell him to put on his shoes or change his shorts 10 times in a row and he still won't be able to focus long enough to do it.  He says a blatant "no", or worse, makes some sort of smart remark when even the simplest direction is given to him.  Bedtime has been painful.  I have no idea where that awful disrespect came from.  We certainly have never let it pass here, so why he keeps it up, we have no idea.  He rambles endlessly and usually throws out random potty talk at any given moment.  Craig and I have likened it to being with someone with Tourette Syndrome.  I know that's terrible and someone out there would probably be mad about that statement, but seriously--how many people do you know that just randomly talk about smacking their butt in the middle of a conversation about something totally different?  Or accuse people (jokingly, but still) of pooping their pants?  Craig did this exaggerated but not entirely inaccurate example of what it's like living with Jacob ("Pee!  Poop!  Butt!") that had Jacob and me rolling, but I did try to explain to Jacob afterward that he probably shouldn't be laughing because it's sort of making fun of his tendency to say potty words randomly.  We figure there's just so much going through his head and he's unable to censor it.  We're continuing to see his therapist and may get another opinion from another specialist.  It could be a long year.

As for Carter...well, Jacob was never the type to dig in cabinets or hang out in the bathroom, but Carter will frequent every dangerous household spot he can find.  Ugh.  He was constantly running off to Jacob's room, trying to tackle him, pulling out countless toys, and running off with Jacob's lacrosse sticks.  He'd frequently be found wandering into the bathroom (and try getting a six year old to remember to put the seat down...) or climbing up and down the stairs.  He was such a handful.  His naps were blissful and allowed me to get a lot done, but bedtime was a welcome relief, even if putting that smiling face to bed did melt your heart a bit.  He's got such an amazing little personality and I love how happy he makes people when we're out in public.  We'd barely made it through the produce section yesterday at Wegmans and we'd already had a three people remarking how cute he is.  He's just so social!  He will wave and say hi to anyone, and I'm pretty sure he says, "Bye-bye" to everyone was pass on our way out...including every car.  He just loves making people smile.  He's finally growing in some hair (he needed his third haircut last week and he looks so adorable!) and he officially hit 18 months on Friday.  It is so hard to believe he's getting to be such a big boy!

Once we were done with our trip, my goal for the days we were home was to tackle a serious to do list I have accrued over the past few months.  I literally have a list on my iPod with all of the random projects that need doing.  I needed to log the Goodwill donations that have been sitting in a corner of our bedroom for months, so we had a list for tax purposes.  I needed to sort through the hand-me-downs to get the next round of clothes ready for Carter.  I had to soak and scrub Jacob's backpack to make sure it was salvageable for this year (it is!).  I had to scrub my kitchen floor on hands and knees, because nothing cleans it well and it was gross (though I did just buy a mop with a scrub brush that I think might work for next time!).  There were about 10 other things on the list but I'm not sure I got to any of them.

Then I had my unofficial list, which included a couple "fun" things.  I wanted to clean up the old Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine that I inherited from my parents' house years ago and actually make sno-cones.  I decided mid-week that I should make the gluten-free cinnamon rolls that Jacob always begs for when we pass by them in the store.  I did that for breakfast one day, and while they were good, I now have it on my list to try a recipe using gluten-free Bisquick, because I think they'll be better!

During the course of going through my to do list, I ended up adding a few things that had been bugging me.  I cleaned out my desk because I was having trouble closing the drawers and I knew it could be better.  I cleaned out an entire small bin of miscellaneous technology items (cords, cables, old cameras and music devices) and added to my donation pile, then moved half of my overflowing craft bin into the spare one.  I switched around all of the kids toys, so a lot of Jacob's toys moved into his room, some of Carter's toys moved into the shelves that Jacob's toys vacated, and a few more of Carter's toys moved into his room, so he has a few things to keep him occupied there.  With the room that created, I was able to bring up a couple more of Jacob's old toys that had been relegated to the crawl space until Carter was older.  They were all little things that make a major impact on quality of life, but I normally just don't take the time--mostly because, as I experienced, one project leads to another, and normally I don't have time to risk creating more projects for myself!

The big project, though, was the hand-me-downs.  That was the ultimate "one thing leads to another" project.  I initially pulled out three bins that I thought might have the next set of clothes for Carter.  I had an inkling there were still some 18 month clothes packed away somewhere, even though I had pulled out a ton quite a while ago and thought I got them all then.  But as we got into the summer I realized a couple things were still missing, so I knew I had to start digging in.  I went through the first three bins and realized that there were probably a lot of clothes that were packed away out of sequence.  So, rather than miss out on time with certain clothes a year from now, I decided I needed to pull out every single bin from the crawl space, sort them all by size and season, and have them ready to go.  And, in theory, now when Jacob grows out of stuff, I can even sort those items into the appropriate bins.  It was a huge project that took many days' worth of Carter's naps, but it's done.  Now I have the challenge of figuring out how to fit a ton of 18 and 24 month clothes into Carter's closet and dresser.  It was an interesting exercise going through the past four-plus years of clothes, reliving moments and rediscovering my favorite outfits.  Sometimes it shocked me how recent certain items seemed, and other times it seemed so long ago.  But it was a pretty clear reminder of how quickly time goes.

I'll admit that after our week at home I'd like a vacation from my vacation.  It would be nice to have a few days without the kids to keep chipping away at my list, but judging by the amount of work on my desk at the office, I couldn't be away from there any longer.  But it was good getting a few things checked off at home, and it was nice to have some time with the kids where we weren't rushing out the door or having to run errands, rush through dinner, and cram some playtime into a couple hours in the evening.  While it wasn't perfect, it was a nice change of pace for a week.  Bookended by weddings where Craig and I had time to ourselves, it really wasn't half bad as a whole.  I love my kids, I love my husband, and I wish like crazy that my priorities could be different so the time I spend reflects those things.  But this is it for now. 

It was an interesting week.  Now to replace that camera... 

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