Monday, February 29, 2016

The Rest of the Story

I feel like with every great parenting victory, there is always a dark side--the struggle to get there, unintended consequences, you name it.  With Carter's birthday party, it was the 18 hours prior. 

On Saturday I had a ton of prep work to do, but I was alone since Craig was on the road.  When I woke up, I was starting to feel like I had a cold starting.  My throat had been sore for a couple days, but I wasn't sure if that had to do with an extreme amount of screaming at the kids, particularly Friday night.  But I woke up pretty exhausted and with some annoying congestion, which started to worry me.  I dragged myself around the house, randomly cleaning everything in sight.  I Magic Erasered the walls, wiped down my kitchen, cleaned mirrors, scrubbed the bathroom thoroughly, vacuumed the top two floors completely, and cleaned whatever random thing I saw that had been neglected far too long.  It felt like pregnancy nesting with the constant cleaning tangents.  I took a break during Carter's nap to pay bills while catching up on some TV, but the rest of the day kept me moving.  I had to bake two cake layers and start the base for a pasta-based salad in the evening, and by the time the boys were in bed, all I wanted to do was rest...but I had so much to do that I stayed up until after 1am.  I knew on some level that was dumb since I was feeling so crappy, but I also knew I only had so much time to get things done on Sunday, so I pushed through.

Craig got home at 1:45am from Toronto, and I briefly woke up for that.  Morning came way too soon when Carter woke up just before my alarm at 7:30.  The plan was to go to church, stop briefly at the store, and then come home to start getting ready for lunch and the party.  Well, as it usually is, getting ready for church was a challenge.  Jacob was extra difficult about getting dressed.  He didn't want to wear those pants, this shirt smells like rubber (it didn't), and on and on...all while just laying there on his floor whining about it.  This went on for an extreme amount of time, and was completely intolerable.  Sometimes you just have to suck it up and put on the clothes.  Geez.  I don't think Craig was planning on going to church since he'd had a late night, but between my frustrations, the ease of just being able to run into a store rather than drag the kids in, and the fact I was up pretty much as late as he was, prompted him to get up and get ready to go with us.  The frustrations continued when he dawdled when it came time to put on his shoe (still has the boot on one foot) and was constantly complaining about how he wants new sneakers (which he needs, though we've told him repeatedly we're not going to do it until he can wear both shoes, as we'd like them to wear equally).

Long story short, by the time we got into the car I was fuming.  We were running late, again, just because of Jacob's ridiculousness.  By the time we parked and got the kids to Sunday School, we'd have been at least 10 minutes late to church.  And as we pulled into the parking lot, my cold was bothering me more and I now had a nauseated feeling.  It could have been my frustration boiling up, it could have been tiredness, it could have been anything...but with everyone still cranky, it seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back.  I pulled into a spot, expressed my anger yet again, and then I snapped.  I put the car in reverse and pulled right back out of the lot.  I think internally all I could think was that I'd had so much anger that morning that it would seem downright hypocritical to have to go into church, put on a smile, and act normal.  I was too angry to absorb the message.  We were super late yet again.  Everything just felt wrong.  So we went home.  It was a tearful drive, and my tears continued for quite a while after we got there.  Interestingly, Carter was actually upset about leaving.  Usually he gives us a lot of resistance when we drop him off at Sunday School, but he's always happy when we pick him up and he was upset we left.  We assured him he didn't do anything wrong.

That whole episode was exhausting.  The rest of the day I was actually a solid notch lower on the energy scale.  Most of the time I'd try to push through and fake it, but honestly, this time I just couldn't.  I was fine, I think, but I was definitely lacking a bit of pep and enthusiasm.  The cold symptoms eased up a bit aside from a dull headache, but by the end of the party I was completely exhausted and could barely move from the couch.  I'm still super tired today.

The worst part of all of it is that Jacob still doesn't seem to see that he was the cause of this.  Craig tried to make that abundantly clear to him on the way home, but it's like he just can't internalize that he's wrong.  He just doesn't get it.  In his head, everything he's doing is completely rational and he has very good reason to argue with us.   He was right back to his old tricks later and simply could not understand why we got mad.  I just don't know what it's going to take to help him understand the trouble he's causing.  It's a fine line between helping him understand the reality of our problems and making him feel worthless.  I tell him all the time that we love him, but that often we don't like what he's doing.  I hope he can understand that. 

I'm glad the rest of the day went well, but for a while I wasn't sure.  Anger and sadness are exhausting, and yesterday was a battle.  It continued on tonight.  We have to do something, but at this point I'm just not sure what.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Birthday Bonus Round!

Yes, Carter turned three two weeks ago, but we finally got to have his party today!  Between Craig's schedule and other family schedules, it was hard to pick a day.  As it was, we couldn't find a date where both Craig and his brother's family could be here, which was a bummer since Carter loves his cousins, but we just had to do it before too much time went by!  Craig was in Toronto last night and got home around 1:45am, which I would have felt bad about had I not been up until after 1am myself trying to get ready!

We had a rough morning, which I'll cover in another post, but I was thankful when a reluctant birthday boy actually did go down for a nap.  The party started at 2pm, but he slept until 3 while we snacked and chatted.  My parents, Craig's parents, my cousin Lori, her parents, and my cousin Doug, his wife Lisa, and their son Dylan (first-time visitors to our house!) were all in attendance.  Just after we did gifts, my Aunt Kathy and cousin Brian arrived, as well.  It was a nice little group!

Carter has been pooh-poohing his birthday all along, not wanting to celebrate, open presents, eat cake, etc.  But when push comes to shove, in the end he does seem to enjoy it!  We convinced him to open presents, even though he said his belly was hurting (too many M&M's, he said).  If nothing else, we figured getting it out of the way might be a good idea, just in case!
Laughing because he was putting tissue paper on Daddy's head!

Spider-Man Duplos!

More Duplos!

Opening Grandma and Grandpa's present!
He really liked the Spider-Man Duplos from Craig's parents and kept talking about them while he opened the rest!  He got the smaller set of general Duplo blocks from my cousin, a set of Paw Patrol-themed Mega Bloks from Lori, sidewalk chalk from my Aunt Lynne, and pajamas, clothes, and a pre-recorded book from my parents.  He also got a nice assortment of money!  He seemed very happy with everything!  

We had some pizza, salads, and everyone's favorite broccoli-rice casserole for dinner.  If there was a blip during the party, it happened during dinner.  As Carter was sitting in his high chair eating his pizza, he said he had to pee, and then suddenly something was dripping out of his pant leg.  Yep, he had an epic potty accident.  Accidents are generally rare, but he had a couple this week.  Seems he does fine for weeks, and then suddenly has a cluster of accidents.  He's still ahead of Jacob at this point, so I know we're lucky regardless!  Anyway, the main reason I mention this is because I'd been thinking about trading out his high chair for a tall wooden chair from my grandma's house, but just hadn't gotten around to it.  Well, since he peed all over it, that forced me to unstrap it from the chair it sits on and take it to the basement for cleaning.  I guess we'll see how he does with the tall chair, and if he does well, his high chair may have gone out with quite a bang--a birthday meal and a major accident!

After pizza, we moved on to the cake!  As you may recall, the cake is where I usually put most of my party planning effort.  I had an idea this year, and all things considered, I think it turned out pretty well.  It may not be one of my favorites, but I think it was a very solid plan considering Carter's current interests.  With Jacob it was always easy to pick a sport, but with Carter his interests have been much more varied.  Last year I did cars, and this year we went for Paw Patrol!  However, I am not nearly talented enough to pull off their shield, let alone their lookout (but please look on Pinterest for every fondant-fueled creation I wish I had the time, skill, and guts to pull off), but I decided to buy the Busy Book as one of his gifts, and use the characters.  
Note the "hidden" 3 on the right :)
I almost ruined it at the last minute after I did a little experiment with the name (I tried piping it onto waxed paper and freezing it, hoping I could peel and transfer, but no luck), but in the end I think it turned out well.  Everything aside from the near-miss with the name went well, so I feel like I'm getting better at the process!
Time to sing!

He wasn't quite sure what to make of everyone singing to him, but the smirk says it all...

Despite practicing the proper way to blow, he had a tough time blowing out his candles, but he was sort of cute waving the smoke away after...

And he seemed to like his cake and ice cream afterward, so we'll call it a win!

The party was very nice and it was so good to have everyone at our house.  It only seems to happen twice per year, but it's nice hosting everyone, even if it means I'm busy all day and exhausted by the end.  If nothing else, at least my house gets a solid cleaning twice per year ;-)  It was nice to officially wish Carter a happy birthday with most of the people we love most, and we hope for a great year ahead!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Casting off the Cast

Yesterday marked six weeks since Jacob's surgery and four weeks since the real cast went on.  While the last four weeks have been anything but blissful, they did go faster than I thought.  We were very excited for our follow-up appointment, because it meant the cast was coming off! 

The first order of business upon arrival was cutting off the cast.  At the request of the guy who put the cast on, I talked to Jacob about the saw ahead of time so he was prepared for the noise.  I snapped a quick picture of the cast before the saw got to it.  I should have gotten the other side, where most of the signatures were!

Getting the cast off went a little better this time.  Last time it led to a major meltdown, but this time he stayed calm.  However, he had a seriously hardcore look on his face while the cast was being cut and while the cotton was getting pulled off.  I wasn't sure if he was sick, or if he was just nervous about seeing the scar.  He was very uncomfortable when the top of the cast came off, so they wrapped an ace bandage around the bottom of the cast and back around the bare top of the leg to keep it stable for a trip down to x-ray.  He got wheeled down there, and then we went back to the exam room to meet with the doctor.  She said that the x-rays looked good and he needs to spend the next four weeks increasing strength in his leg.  Then we'll go back, get one more x-ray, and hopefully he will be cleared to get back to sports.  It's tough to face another month with him at less than 100%, but it's another step forward. 

Right now he's back in the boot and very tentative about putting weight on it.  But this morning his attitude seemed much better and he was talking about exercising it.  He can already bend it enough to get in the boot without unstrapping it, which is a big improvement from yesterday.  He is still crawling around a lot and using the crutches when he has to.  It's going to be a process, but we're already making progress.

Tonight I unwrapped the ace bandage that had been holding in the crud beneath the cast, and tried giving it a good cleaning.  There was a ton of skin!  On top of that, it seemed like he'd had some dermatitis under the cast, so his leg was rashy and full of little scabs.  I scrubbed his foot and leg like crazy, actively avoiding the scar and being gentle around the irritation.  There's still so much skin that needs to flake off and it's pretty gross.  I put some hydrocortisone on the rashy part, hoping it will clear up.  I'm a little worried it's infected or something, but hopefully tomorrow it will look better.  There's actually one spot on the incision that was oozing tonight, but I think it's just because it was oozing when the original cast came off, and whatever dressing was put on it stuck, and when it came off yesterday it pulled off a scab again.  I put some ointment on it and bandaged that part for the night.  Hopefully tomorrow we can air all of it out, as I think that's what it needs most. 

One of the funnier moments of tonight was that Jacob finally noticed the link to this blog on his iPad.  It's been there since it was my parents' iPad.  I've told him before that I've written about his entire life, but I don't think he really began to comprehend that until tonight.  He was shocked to see so many pictures of him and Carter, and kept scrolling through the pages watching the videos and reliving the last nine months or so through pictures.  He almost couldn't believe what he was seeing.  He was a little annoyed that he was seeing more pictures of Carter in recent posts, and assured me he would pose for pictures for me.  So, during the cleaning, he did...

Here you can see the difference between the two legs.  It's amazing how skinny the one leg is now.

It's hard to see with the flash, but the incision is on the left, and the rashy part is on the right. 
 
So, at this point I think our greatest challenge is going to be keeping him from running around once he's regained his strength.  In the meantime I'm excited to watch him improve.  One of the downsides of the big kid phase is that the milestones and changes happen much more slowly and inexactly.  Baby milestones come fast and furious and are clearer to note, but with big kids, it's a lot of general improvements that are barely perceptible over time.  But the fun part of the next month is going to be seeing him make nearly daily progress.  I like seeing his positive attitude, and I hope it sticks. 
 
For tonight I will leave you with a random shot I took of the sculpture that hangs from the ceiling of the lobby in the surgeon's office building.  It's very pretty and I just decided to snap a picture while waiting for the boys to arrive yesterday.  I just love the colors.  Hopefully one more time seeing this, and then we can get on with our lives.  I'm ready for the holding pattern to be done!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Weekend Roundup

Gosh, I feel like we haven't had one of these kind of posts in a while.  Seems that winter and Jacob's surgery have dumped us in a state of housebound boredom (or chaos--depending on the moment).  We simply haven't done much on weekends that's been blog-worthy, let alone photo-worthy.  Being cooped up in the house every weekend without much of a break has been easier than I thought it would be, as far as my personal cabin fever goes (apparently I am LAZY), but it has been a challenge for my patience in particular.  Two kids driving each other nuts all day for two days straight is not exactly my idea of fun, but the chance just chill out at home and not be rushing off to games or interrupting naps has its perks, too.  I've had to think long and hard about dragging both kids out anywhere because of Jacob's cast, so mostly we just stay put and I have to wait until Craig is home and Carter is napping so I can escape guilt-free to get things done.  The cast comes off tomorrow, so hopefully we can start getting back to a somewhat normal activity level soon.  Still at least a couple more weeks without lacrosse on Saturdays, so I'm going to savor it while I can.  I am truly excited for Jacob to get back out on the field, but games tend to fall right in the middle of our Saturdays, so sometimes it makes the rest of the day a little disjointed.  Still better than baseball first thing in the morning, though!

Anyway, Friday night we did actually venture out.  Craig was on the road so it was just me and the boys.  There was a fundraising event at Chuck E. Cheese for Jacob's school, and he really wanted to go.  Since he hasn't really wanted to get out and do much since his surgery, the mere fact he wanted to go meant that I had to find a way to make it work.  Luckily they have gluten-free pizza there, so it made the dinner aspect much easier.  Once we were there, Jacob mostly ran around on his own playing games, and I walked Carter around to find games for him to play.  He seemed to enjoy himself, though his independent streak makes it awfully hard to help him!  I only pulled out my camera once, to take this picture.  It doesn't really capture how much he was enjoying this train ride game, but he really liked it!

Jacob only ended up seeing a couple friends, but as a whole--considering I was there alone--it went fine.  We chose to continue saving our tickets to buy better crap another day, aside from splurging on one long Tootsie Roll for each kid.  I was definitely ready to leave by the end of it, but I didn't have to freak out on either of them too much, so we'll call it a win.

After dinner we went home, I finished packing up, and we headed to my parents' house.  They had just gotten back from a trip, so we hadn't seen them in a while, and I figured that we really needed to take advantage of not having to stay in town for Jacob's games.  With Craig on the road and so many weekends stuck at home, I figured the change of scenery would be good.  And it was.  Jacob spent a lot of time on his iPad, unfortunately, but sometimes it's hard to convince him that any of the toys there (my Legos included) are cooler.  I guess I can't blame him.  The older I got the more I used to disappear up to my uncle's room to play on his computer when I went to my grandparents' house.  Carter had fun with the assortment of vintage Fisher-Price toys--the Little People airport and farm, the circus train--and aside from being a bit stubborn at times, he played nicely.

Craig flew back into Toronto Saturday morning and stopped in at my parents' on his way back.  We then hatched a plan to leave the kids with my parents and get a date night in, as per our counseling homework.  We'd done lunch last week since it didn't look like dinner would work out prior to our next session, but the opportunity presented itself, so we took it.  We ended up having to sit at the bar of our chosen restaurant for a while, which was actually fun since we caught an alumni hockey game featuring Craig's favorite team, the Minnesota North Stars.  We had a delicious dinner and enjoyed being able to talk without being interrupted constantly.  We had hoped to go elliptical shopping, as that's on our agenda, but in the end we just got back in time to get the kids into bed.  Oh, and did I mention it was freakishly warm that day?  When we were in the car on the way to dinner, it was 51 degrees!  It felt amazing.  Over the couple days we were there, most of the snow melted!  But more on that in a minute...

On Sunday we went to church, and getting there was no small feat, as usual.  Jacob was too focused on his iPad, which eventually ended up with him losing it for the day.  He just would not focus on getting ready before hopping back on to play.  He was completely ridiculous by the end of the argument.  It's so frustrating.  Both kids were pretty decent at church, though.  Jacob managed to control himself even though he couldn't get blank drawing paper, and while Carter was a bit chatty and squirmy, we made it through without feeling the need to apologize to the people around us.  When we got back home, we played a bit with my old Legos and some toys called Fiddlesticks (similar to Tinkertoys, but they're plastic and the connectors fit inside the tubes).  The boys built a house with Legos and I built a giant rocket with the Fiddlesticks.

We stuck around for lunch and were planning to leave at naptime, but then Carter fell asleep on Craig so we had to stay a little longer.  In the end we got back around 4pm and settled back in for a normal Sunday night.  All in all, it was nice to get out of the house and stare at some different walls, at least.  It was also nice to hang out with my parents and hear their trip stories so we can live vicariously through them!  

So...in regards to the melting snow...the one sideshow of the weekend involved a snowman.  Saturday afternoon, my dad got the idea to make a snowman on the deck.  Since Jacob can't go out in the snow, my dad just whipped one together to make the kids smile.  As I mentioned, it was in the 50s and sunny (though quite windy), so the snow was plenty wet enough to make a solid snowman.  As we were waiting, I captured this smile on Carter's face as Jacob rocked the chair he was in...

And here is the finished snowman.  Pretty cool, huh?

Of course, with temperatures in the 50s, by later in the day, he went on a bit of a diet and looked like this...
Notice the carrot and his eyes, nose, and all but one button laying at his feet!
By Sunday morning, we decided he'd taken on a bit of a female look, as his shoulders protruded like he had 80s shoulder pads and his waist was whittled down considerably. 

Despite the tilt, he actually stood through the night!  In fact, my dad posted a new picture earlier today, and it's still standing.  The head has melted away, but apparently his foundation was pretty darn strong!  He's probably on his last legs, though (haha) because we're getting tons of rain today.  Even though we still had quite a bit of snow at our house when we got home Sunday, that should mostly be disappearing today.  What an up-and-down winter we've had!  Hard to believe February is almost over!  Jacob's cast comes off tomorrow, Carter's birthday party is Sunday, and then on to March we will go!

Friday, February 19, 2016

News & Notes, Completely Random Edition

I feel like I've had a bunch of random stuff percolating in my brain, so it's all getting dumped here.

- After all of the snowy ridiculousness earlier this week, it's going to be considerably warmer today and into the weekend.  We're even getting some freezing rain today, apparently.  The snow piles are massive, so I suppose it won't be a bad thing if they shrink down a bit to make it easier to drive around them.  The killer issue last year when we had this much snow is that we never had a good melt during the month of February.  Those piles just kept getting bigger, the layer of ice on our driveway never had a chance to break up, and there was never a day where we got to walk outside and not have our breath taken away by the cold.  This year has been the complete opposite, thank goodness.  I can't even be mad about this week (even though that commute was horrific) because we just haven't had much of the super-cold, snowy weather.  Now that the temperature is decent, it would be nice to get out and play in it with the kids, but with Jacob's cast, only Carter can get in on the fun.  Of course, most of the snow piles are taller than him!

- Speaking of the cast, we have less than a week until it comes off.  I can't wait.  I'm sure Jacob is excited, too, as he's sick of sitting around at school while the other kids get to play.  But I am really looking forward to not having to lift him up curbs and stairs, or dealing with his crutches falling all over the place.  He's been out of sports for over two months now, and I am really eager for him to get that outlet back.  All things considered this was still the best time of year for this to happen, since he'd be nuts if he couldn't go out in good weather, but I am so ready for it to be over.

- Carter is feeling better, but he has been a huge handful lately.  He's been very opinionated and stubborn.  I'm hoping it's not just three, and rather that he hasn't been sleeping well.  Last night was the first night he slept through in nearly a week, but I can tell that all of the congestion he's still dealing with is making it hard for him to breathe.  He snores a lot at night right now as a result, and I'm thinking that less than ideal oxygen intake and all of the effort to breathe through a clogged nose (seriously, why can't little kids breathe through their mouth?) just isn't giving him restful nights of sleep.  Hopefully once the current congestion clears up he will be a little better.  We're halfway through his medicine and his throat is better and the fevers are done, so it's a start.

- I realized this morning that I have a party to plan in the next week.  Despite the fact it is two weeks late, I'm still getting caught off-guard by Carter's party.  I've been thinking about his cake for months, and now I have to figure out when I'm making it.  I have to plan a menu and buy beverages.  I should really clean my house.  It's going to be a busy week for sure!  I suppose, though, it will be good to have Carter's family party, since his low-key birthday sort of makes it feel like he's not totally, officially three.  I guess nowadays it's not real until I can take a picture of a fun cake, huh?

- If I ever go back to longer hair again, someone just slap me.  I'm continually surprised at how much better life is when your hair is not a constant source of annoyance.  For example, every time I go to the bathroom at work, I don't have to be dissatisfied with the current state of my hair, as it no longer looks stringy, staticky, or disheveled by midday.  When my hair is short, it generally behaves and looks much more polished.  I'm now remembering why I kept it like this for so long--from shortly after I got married until sometime after Jacob's second birthday, which accounts for a good six years or so, I think?  I suppose I could get tired of almost anything, but this just seems like a no-brainer.  The only downsides at this point are how to wrangle it when I'm working out, as it's too short to put up, and that I can't do much to "spice it up".  Of course, I never "spiced it up" even when it was long, so again--if I'm not going to take advantage of longer hair, why keep it?

- This weekend begins a few straight weekends of Craig being on the road.  We haven't had to deal with that much this year, so I'm hunkering down for a few tough weekends.  Honestly, we usually come out of them fine, but it is tiring doing two bedtimes and wrangling two kids on school days or Sundays.  The hardest part is not having backup when the kids start getting frustrating and you can't just walk away when you need a timeout.  There's no one else to back up your point or enforce punishment when you need to escape before you explode.  I suppose it does force you to maintain a stronger sense of self-awareness so you catch yourself and re-route things before they get to a breaking point, but it is hard.  Weekends like this give me a whole new respect for single parents, and I know they have it about a million times harder because they don't have the mental or emotional support when times get tough, nor do they have a break on the horizon at the end of the weekend.  It was different when it was just Jacob and me.  But now with two kids with totally different interests and needs, I find it challenging to meet both of their needs.  As an example, last night Jacob had a hardcore tantrum when I set Carter up to watch a half hour show while I was getting dinner ready.  He wanted to watch a certain movie, and he was not happy that I was making him delay it until after dinner.  "Carter always gets to watch what he wants!"  No matter how I explained to him that he was giving up a half hour so I could make dinner in peace, or how Carter was only getting a half hour of what he wanted to watch and Jacob could watch an entire movie later, he was not having it.  Only when I lost it a bit and then told him he wouldn't be watching anything if I heard one more complaint out of him did he quiet down.  Why does it always have to get to that point?  Seriously.

- The sticker chart we did for our counseling isn't really working.  He's getting a few stickers here and there, but it is slow going.  He doesn't really care if he moves down, and he isn't exactly going out of his way to earn more.  He is still trying to engage Carter in hockey games with the new nets, but Carter isn't interested and he's completely frustrated about it.  I keep trying to explain to him that you can't force someone to play when they don't want to, that they will just ignore you more if you bug them too much.  This is apparently new territory for him, and the irony of his current efforts after nearly three years of completely avoiding/ignoring him amazes me.  Of course, he still freaks out the second Carter crosses the threshold into his room, so I can't say I understand his mindset right now.

- The bed situation is still up in the air.  I'm pretty dead set on just getting a big boy bed rather than bothering with changing over the crib and not having a rail for it.  Jacob was intrigued by getting a new bed and giving Carter his (which, storage-wise makes a ton of sense), but now I'm searching for what he said he wanted.  We'll see.  If we get desperate I can temporarily bring up a basic frame from our crawl space and just get a new mattress for it.  We have a really old one in storage, but I'd like Carter to get a fresh one.  I'll probably also pass down Jacob's quilt and get him a "bigger boy" one, rather than have two "little boy" ones in the house.  Carter might never even know it's a hand-me-down since Jacob's animals have covered every inch of it, always.  So...we'll see.

- Today marked the day that my brother's family made their cross-country flight to officially become east coasters!  They flew out of Portland first thing this morning and are now settling into their temporary digs in New Jersey.  It's exciting to have them within a drivable distance, mostly because I want the kids to have more time to spend together.  Hopefully there will be more fun holidays and trips to NYC in our future!  I can't even imagine uprooting our lives like that, but I'm excited for their new opportunity.  The world is a better place because other people DO have the guts to do stuff like that! 

I'm finishing up this post from my parents' house, where we're getting a change of scenery this weekend after a lot of weekends cooped up in our house since Jacob's been in a cast.  They're fresh from a cruise, so it's good to see them, too!  Always nice to have help when Craig is out of town, even though he'll actually be back tomorrow afternoon.  Might be a good chance for him to get some solo time at home, which isn't a bad thing either.  It'll be good to see him, though.  In the meantime, getting the kids out of their bad habits at home will be a nice change of pace!  Bring on the weekend! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

sNOw More!

On the heels of a bust of a lake effect snow storm last week, a new Winter Storm Warning popped up on my Weather Channel app the other day.  And this one came out of nowhere and was huge.  Totals were going to be over a foot, potentially.  While I wanted to believe this would be another bust, for some reason it seemed like it wasn't going to be that way this time.  And sure enough, it wasn't.  We already had a few inches of snow on the ground, probably four, and Monday night it started snowing a bit.  Apparently it didn't do much after that, but we probably had a new inch or two when I was up in the night.

When Carter woke up at 5:30, it was apparent it had snowed more.  We had at least a few fresh inches, and it was snowing again.  I guess it really got going a little after 6am, which meant the plows got a late start and it all led to a rough commute.  Okay, that's an understatement.  It was awful.  For example, by mid-afternoon the main route into and out of the city was closed in both directions for miles.  That never happens.

Regardless, we had a couple things to work out at home first that morning.  Carter still wasn't feeling great overnight, so we pretty much knew he wouldn't be going to daycare.  Craig had offered to stay home with him because I had a few things going on on Tuesday--my first blood donation, a department lunch, and an important meeting.  Craig went out to shovel after I showered, and it turned out that his office closed immediately that morning, so he was OK to be home anyway.  The other issue was Jacob.  He was giving us a LOT of pushback on going to the afterschool program's winter break program.  He was refusing to get dressed, and with the snow piling up outside and a long drive across town to drop him off (different location than his school), I was getting nervous.  Craig didn't want to send him at all because of the snow, but I was insisting we needed to force him unless we wanted to have the same pushback all week.  But the more I looked at the snow, the more I realized I wasn't sure how I was going to get him and his cast into the building.  I wasn't even sure how to unfold the wheelchair.  So...I caved...BUT I told him that he could not complain for the rest of the week if we let him stay home today and he agreed.  Of course he gave us trouble again this morning, but...

I headed out at 8:10.  I nearly got stuck when I pulled onto our street, which had not been plowed.  That's a rarity, by the way, so I should have known something was up.  I managed to get out of our neighborhood, and seconds after I got onto the next main road, it was completely backed up.  At first I thought it was a backup with someone pulling out or turning and getting stuck in the process, but eventually I realized it was backed up all the way to the main road, which is probably around a mile.  I sat in that traffic for a half hour or so, and then got onto the actual main road, which was equally backed up.  And that was even slower.  Unfortunately, there was nowhere to escape.  There were six inches of snow between lanes, so a U-turn was out of the question.  I had it in my head that I just needed to get past that road and the highway would be better.  But somewhere during that wait I decided I needed to turn around.  It just wasn't getting better and this was NOT worth it.  But when I finally got free of the traffic, anywhere I could have turned around was not plowed out and I definitely would have gotten stuck.  So I continued along, and eventually I hit some plowed roads on my way to the highway.  I saw a dozen stuck cars along the way, mostly those that stopped off for coffee and got stuck on the plow piles at the exit.

The highway wasn't too busy but it was moving.  There was way more snow than I was expecting there.  Usually even if there's snow there, there are defined lanes and you're fine as long as you don't change lanes.  But this time it was bad.  I carefully drove a couple exits up when my phone rang (and luckily my hands-free Bluetooth was set up after talking to Craig a few times during my wait) and it was my co-worker with the news that the office was closed.  I was probably 5-10 minutes from the office after more than an hour in the car, and now I had to turn around.  Sigh.

I got off at the next exit, drove by someone in a huge snowbank on the adjacent on-ramp, and prayed a lot as I hit yet another messy road.  I got back on the highway, and this time there were no lanes and no tracks...just snow piles and ruts.  It was awful.  I headed back north and decided to go up one extra exit to the busiest road in the county, just because I thought it had a better chance of being clear.  But when I approached the ramp, there was a cop on the shoulder.  At first I thought the ramp was closed, but he drove away so I exited...only to see a semi truck just sitting there.  It didn't have its hazards on, but it was just stopped.  There was no way to get around it.  I had no choice but to back up and get back on the highway to go another exit north.  At this point, all I could think was, "You've got to be kidding me!"  Thankfully there wasn't much traffic, but it was very stressful.  The next exit led to another major road, but that one was as messy as every other road.  I wondered where the plows were, because they weren't in our neighborhood and yet they weren't on the main roads either!

I white-knuckled it through a few horrible intersections and finally got back to our neighborhood.  And when I turned onto our road, three houses from home, that's when it happened.  I got stuck.  After my traction control bailed me out of dozens of crappy roads and awful intersections, I get stuck on my own street.  I tried going forward, then reverse, over and over.  I managed to get out of the intersection, at least, but could not get going.  I called Craig in a panic, and he had to leave the kids and walk down to me.  We shoveled me out, and after a while,  with a lot of pushing, I finally got moving.  And when I turned into the driveway, I got stuck again.  UGH.  Seriously?!  The problem was, if the plow came I wouldn't be able to get in the driveway anyway, so either way it would be impossible.  After more shoveling and pushing, I finally got in the garage.  Whew.

I shoveled for an hour to finish clearing out my whole side plus part of Craig's.  Eventually I was just too tired and came back in.  The plow finally came after 1pm.  Craig went back out before dinner, and after a while one of our neighbors came with their snowblower and finished up what he hadn't gotten to.  What a relief!  In the end we got over a foot of new snow.  The snow finally stopped in the evening, but not before giant plow piles showed up everywhere.  I guess winter just felt compelled to finally join us after a very mild couple months. 

This morning I came out to see that the sidewalk plow came through overnight and left lots of boulders in the middle of our driveway.  The gift that keeps on giving!  The roads were considerably better today, mostly perfect but with a few random slushy spots.  Such a difference in 24 hours!  The air was warmer today, too, which meant that as it went below freezing tonight, places like our daycare parking lot turned into a black ice rink.  I came home and shoveled out another round of plow junk and cleaned up the driveway a bit more.  Then I went back to shovel out our back door, which becomes impassable with heavy snow and frozen leaves.  At least I'm getting all of these bonus workouts!

My co-worker and I agreed that we were traumatized from the driving and shoveling.  I spent the day with a fatigued forearm from white-knuckle driving, shoveling, or both.  I was so tired today that not even caffeine worked!  Suffice it to say that spring can come anytime now!   

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Birthday Blahs

I was really hoping that Carter's case of strep wouldn't ruin his birthday, and for a while it didn't.  Since it was President's Day, the original plan was to split the day to be home with Jacob since the school district's program for break didn't begin until today.  But when Carter got sick, we opted to keep him home, too.  We figured that by Tuesday he'd definitely be fine, so it was nice to have one day for him that was already covered. 

The good news is that since I was home in the morning, it gave us time to do a few of Carter's gifts.  We did three in the morning and three after we got home from dinner, just to keep the day interesting.  He's still quite content playing with whatever he just opened anyway, so we might as well.   

He opened a little Dr. Seuss board book based on "Fox in Socks" that's full of silly rhymes, and a Paw Patrol Busy Book that comes with a bunch of little characters to play with.  Those will actually have another purpose down the road, so stay tuned!  Next up was the big bag...

He got a Paw Patrol Chase with his vehicle...

And a Marshall, too!  He was very happy about those! 

He got right to playing with everything!  We put out the play mat that came with the Busy Book, and he had fun playing with all of his new Paw Patrol toys!

I also took a couple minutes to get him back in his old spot on the chair for a birthday picture next to the bear!  I had a hard time getting him to sit still and smile nicely, but I guess this will have to do!
He doesn't really fit in the frame anymore because his legs are so long!
He was really enjoying his playtime before I left to go into work.  Craig took over as the boys were eating lunch, and of course this guy decided to skip his nap...

Even still, he seemed pretty good by the time I got home.  We had to keep up with the ibuprofen because the fever kept popping up, but once the medicine was in him, you'd never know he was sick.  In fact, when we went out for dinner to Red Robin, he dragged me to the bathroom twice (at least he went!) and spent the rest of the time trying to kiss my face!  However, once his food came he decided he didn't want to eat it.  He ate his mandarin oranges, but he barely touched his pizza.  I think he changed his mind after he ordered, so nothing else would have sufficed.  We never even had them sing to him (they never asked and by then we were ready to go anyway), but at least we didn't have to decide if he was allowed to eat his sundae.

We came home and did the rest of the presents.  He got a rinse cup for the bathroom, which was actually a delayed Christmas present.  I originally bought him a Paw Patrol one for Christmas, but that one would have taken up a lot of counter space.  I also started to worry he would outgrow it too soon.  In the meantime, I found an adorable Monsters University one on Amazon and decided that was way better.  It has a pillared building background, and Sully stands above a sitting Mike Wazowski.  Mike's head is the cup!  He's excited to be a big boy and learn how to spit!

Next up was a random but fun little extra I picked up on clearance at Wegmans a few weeks ago.  I found a Star Wars kaleidoscope!  It looks like Darth Vader on the outside and some of the colored shapes are Star Wars themed.  It's one where you turn the end, and it takes me back to the simple pleasures of my youth.  We actually just came across a kaleidoscope in one of his books the other day!
Unwrapping the kaleidoscope
Finally we got to the big gift, the one that had Jacob interested all day.  Of course, in true big brother fashion, he saw the presents in the morning and asked if they were for him.  Sigh.  We had hinted he would probably like the big one too, and he was guessing all sorts of Lego things.  When Carter finally unwrapped it, all was revealed...
New hockey nets!
Jacob got two nets for Christmas when he was two.  One is in pieces in his room after numerous duct taping episodes, and the other is still intact, by some miracle.  But it's definitely seen better days.  Jacob won't really let Carter near it.  As a result, at Christmas, I thought about getting Carter his own net, and I happened to notice a set that our nephews have.  They're pop-up nets, which means less PVC piping to break whenever someone falls on them.  They're also way easier to store.  I saw them in passing at Dick's early in the Christmas season, and they were 50% off!  Carter was with me, however, so I made a mental note to get them later that week.  But the week got away from me and suddenly it was Saturday.  I frantically looked online and found them, and by some miracle, shipping was free!  I placed my order and had them a week later.  Based on how Christmas played out, I decided to save them for his birthday, and here they are!

Carter was excited, but so far Jacob is far more obsessed with them than Carter.  He's been begging for us to play a family game (Carter usually ducks out after a play or two) and he's been asking Carter to play all day.  Good that he's asking, but it's getting really repetitive.  Of all the gifts, the Paw Patrol toys are definitely winning right now.  But I think he will love the nets.  Jacob is now asking for his own set for his birthday, of course.

After presents we sang to Carter and he blew out a candle on a cupcake.  I made some cupcakes for him to take into daycare, and set aside the extras for us.  He ended up not wanting to eat it, though.  He did learn to blow his candle properly, though!  He's not really a fan of the attention, honestly.  Even talking about his birthday coming put him into a series of denials.  Not sure why he doesn't want to have fun, but he did the same thing in regard to Christmas.

After that, things went downhill considerably.  When it was time for medicine (antibiotics and ibuprofen) he freaked out like he did at the doctor.  He refused to take them, eventually choked/gagged them down, and cried all the while.  He didn't want to put on pajamas, didn't want to listen, and was generally miserable.  It appears that the second his medicine wears off and his fever comes back, he's instantly a pathetic monster.  It's awful.  Then he had another rough overnight where it was tough to get him to settle.  He woke up twice, I think, and then we had to be conscious early to keep an eye on the snow.  More on the snow in my next post.  We kept Carter home again today since his fever was still hanging in there.  He seemed fine without medicine prior to nap, but woke up around 100 again.  I can't help but wonder if he's got an overlapping virus that's unaffected by the antibiotics, since he's got a ton of congestion, too.  If he's not better by tomorrow, I'll probably have to call the doctor again.  I would have done it today, but...well, you'll find out why I didn't in my next post. 

Fingers crossed that tonight goes better than last night.  I'm sad that the strep had to end Carter's birthday on a sour note, but I'm relieved we have another party to come.  I still can't believe he's three, but I'm so proud of the little boy he's becoming and look forward to seeing more.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Three!

Dear Carter,

I can't believe we're here.  You're three.  You're really not a baby anymore, even though you'll always be MY baby.  But when I look at how tall you're getting, and see you running around in big boy undies, and listen to your elaborate stories, I can't deny that you're becoming more of a big kid every single day.  I keep thinking about how tiny you were three years ago tonight, and it blows my mind that we're here today.  I think about the hairy little baby with the darker complexion that they laid on my chest the moment you were born; about the tiny, almost non-existent little butt that I wiped the first time you pooped; about that exhausting second night in the hospital where I had to send you to the nursery because I was too tired to hold you and too sore to nurse you again.  I think back to the joy of bringing you home on time, on a day much like we had this weekend--cold and snowy--and how much I loved the entire seven weeks I was home with you.  Nothing was better than being snuggled on the couch with my sweet little baby.

But then I think about how you were still a mystery to me back then.  I loved you like crazy, but back before I saw your first smile or heard your first word, I had no way of knowing who you would be.  And now I have the joy of knowing this silly, sweet kid who loves giving hugs and kisses.  My world is a better place with you in it because you bring me so much joy!  That's not to say we don't have our moments, as the past month or two has been a bit of a challenge as your stubborn side has definitely emerged.  But we've seen worse before with your brother (sorry Jacob), so dealing with your difficult side has been pretty manageable.  The two of you together are a force to be reckoned with, but hopefully we'll figure out a way to get through that and you two will come out of it as friends.  I love that you two are finally playing together a little, but it's been quite a challenge to get you two to be civil to each other.  You like to be a bit of a pest, and Jacob feels the need to dominate.  He needs to chill out, and you need to learn to not provoke him unnecessarily.  That will come in time. 

Right now I just love watching you learn about the world.  You always surprise me with what you notice and what connections you make.  You have a funny little sense of humor and your smile and laugh make my day.  Unlike your brother who was all sports, all the time, you like a little of everything--cars and trucks, superheroes, your pretend food, Paw Patrol and Team Umizoomi, and yes, sports, too!  You jump from activity to activity, and it's hard to keep up!  I worry sometimes that we've turned you into a TV addict just because that's the only time we can get you to slow down and snuggle!

You're very independent and like to do everything yourself, whether it's getting into your high chair or car seat, or pulling down your pants to pee or getting on the stool to wash your hands.  You probably use utensils better than your brother (ugh) and you really like to be clean, just like Daddy did as a kid.  You got my eyes and my short stature (sorry), but I definitely see Daddy in you, too.  You are definitely his little buddy, but I love that you're still a mama's boy sometimes, too.  You made me love being a mom again.  I was tired of yelling and tired of being unsure of myself after some rough years with your brother, and you assured me that I wasn't entirely terrible at this mom thing.  Your politeness and loving ways are proof that we've done something right.  I melt every time you tell me you love me.  I feel so lucky to have you in my life.  As much as I need kid-free time sometimes, I know it comes at a price--that I won't have all your smiles and laughs to brighten my day. 

I'm so sad that your strep throat stole some of the fun from your day today, but I am so happy you liked your gifts and had fun playing with them while you were home today.  Hopefully we can celebrate more once you're feeling better.  You deserve to enjoy your big day and I'm sad that sickness stole even a moment of that. 

I've learned over the past three years that I need to savor every moment of your childhood because it's my last chance to experience these stages.  I've also learned that one of my biggest challenges is going to be getting you through these stages and then letting them go.  I see myself holding on to little things--toys, clothes, helping you--because I hate to see each stage end.  I know that it means that eventually you'll need me less and less, and all of the hugs and kisses and snuggles I love right now will fade into big boy embarrassment and independence.  And unlike with your brother, I won't have another chance to experience it again.  Don't let me hold you back, but if you can, keep in mind how much your mama loves you and maybe "throw me a bone" once in a while. 

But for now, you're three.  You haven't left me behind yet.  You still give me kisses and hugs, and you're still my baby (once in a while).  I will enjoy the funny things you say, and smile as you learn something new.  I can't wait to see what you learn and do in this next year.  I'm so proud of the big boy you've become, and I'm happy we get a do-over for this birthday in a couple weeks.  You deserve another shot...and I might just need these weeks to accept you're really three!  I love you so much, buddy.  Thank you for being my sweet boy.

Love,
Mommy

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Worst Birthday Gift Ever

So, Carter's birthday is tomorrow, and today is Valentine's Day.  So of course this weekend had a visit to the doctor involved. 

Friday I came home from a quick solo shopping trip after work and the boys were watching TV.  Craig mentioned that Carter seemed a little subdued.  He felt a little warm, and sure enough, his temperature was 99.  He initially seemed hesitant to eat dinner, which scared me, but luckily he was hungry a little while later and all things considered, he seemed OK.  His nose was runny, but otherwise he seemed like a lower-key version of himself.  Saturday morning he woke up and told me he had "pickups", which I eventually translated to hiccups, and he said that they were making his mouth hurt.  He didn't seem to actually have "pickups", however, so I thought to ask him if his throat hurt when he swallowed, and he said yes.  His fever seemed to have subsided, but the pain was bothering him so I gave him some Tylenol.  He was fine most of the day, with one more dose for his throat, but relatively normal energy.  The good news is that it was super freezing outside all day (like the highest I saw was one degree above zero) so we had no reason to leave the house.  Craig had a game, so we just kept warm and hung out at home.  The fever came back again last night, and I noticed a faint rash on his torso.  After Jacob's hives issue last year, I figured it was just a viral thing and decided I'd check it out in the morning and decide if we needed to go to the doctor.  Oh, but then he started complaining about his ears, so I figured that unless he was considerably better by the morning, we'd definitely have to go in to make sure he didn't have strep or an ear infection.  If he had either, I wanted him on antibiotics ASAP so he wasn't feeling horrible for his birthday!

Both nights over the weekend he woke up a couple times, mostly just seeming a little uncomfortable but going back to sleep relatively quickly.  I had to give him Tylenol at 4:30am this morning, so we had to wait a little bit after he woke up to decide if we needed to call the doctor.  I wasn't thrilled about going to church this morning as it was with the temperature being -9 when I woke up (because Craig worked late and dragging Jacob and his cast through the snow and cold alone didn't sound great either), but once the fever came back and Carter was still uncomfortable, it became apparent that the doctor needed to be a priority.  With Carter's birthday tomorrow and Jacob off of school anyway (his week-long program doesn't start until Tuesday), it seemed stupid to put it off any longer.  We could keep him home tomorrow since we were splitting the day anyway, and he should be well enough to go back on Tuesday if we started meds today.

Carter was upset about going to the doctor.  He seemed to think he'd be getting shots, even though I told him over and over that he'd be fine.  He fought me getting his boots and coat on, and cried the entire way there.  He said his ears hurt, and even though I told him that going to the doctor would help that, he still resisted.  He started to calm down once we got there, but he mostly just laid on me in the waiting room and didn't want to watch Madagasgar on the TV.  It took a while to get called in (as it does on weekends), and he was so upset about getting on the scale that they had to weigh me and then weigh me holding him to calculate the difference for his weight.  When the nurse took his temperature, it was 103!  That was way higher than it had been when I checked it.  I'm sure his coat (he felt cold so he kept it on) and his crying fit didn't do anything to lower that, but yikes.  He refused the cup of ibuprofen they brought in for him, so eventually the doctor had to syringe it into his mouth.  He cried a lot and didn't enjoy the exam at all.  His ears looked fine, but sure enough, the strep test came back positive.  So, Carter got the gift of strep for his third birthday.  Poor kid. 

He recovered from his crying fit once the ibuprofen kicked in, and we stopped at Wegmans to get his medicine (I wiped down the cart, I swear!) and got him home for lunch and nap.  Right before nap everyone opened their Valentine's gifts.  I got Craig a movie and some jelly hearts.  For the boys, I opted to get them something they'd been eyeing up on TV--Snackeez!  It was sort of a silly thing with them, but I thought it was fun and functional enough.  And sure enough, they were excited!  They both got a little candy, too, but it was nice to see them both excited by the same gift!

Best I could get...
Carter went down for a nap and I couldn't help but take one too!  Craig napped on and off most of the day, and Jacob just played nicely, thank goodness.  I woke up around 4pm and decided to run out to JCPenney to spend one of those $10 off $10 purchase coupons.  I had terrible luck considering the dozens of clearance racks, but in the end got a pair of workout pants for less than $6.  Yay!  I got home after 5:30 and Carter was still sleeping!  Craig was napping again so he didn't wake him up earlier...but I guess with him being sick I shouldn't have worried anyway, because he was asking to go to bed by 9:00 anyway.  He was such a mess when he woke up from his nap.  His fever was back up to 102 and he was feeling miserable, so we snuggled on the couch while I searched Pinterest for dinner.  Another round of meds worked wonders and he was his normal self until bedtime. 

After dinner tonight both kids ate from their Snackeez while we watched the beginning of the NBA All-Star Game.  We took a little extra interest this year because, if I didn't mention it, my sister-in-law now works for the NBA!  After many years at Nike, she got a new job!  We'll miss the family discount (back to Payless, kids...sorry!), but it's very exciting, mostly because the family is moving back east!  While we'll miss having an excuse to go to Portland, having them outside New York City is very exciting!  Same time zone, cheaper flights and much more driveable! 

After snacks and Carter saying he was sleepy, I put him to bed for the last time as a two-year-old.  I can't believe he's going to be three tomorrow!  It just doesn't seem possible that my tiny little baby is a chatty, potty-trained, independent, loving three-year-old.  Time has flown.  Three years ago tonight I was settling into bed after one of the most uncomfortable days of my life, one that ended with me not even being able to sit through dinner because I wanted to crawl out of my own skin.  It was some sort of a relief to see a tiny spot of blood during a trip to the restaurant bathroom because it made me think something had to happen soon.  And 16 hours later, it did!  I never would have guessed that three years later my little boy would be the one with the uncomfortable Valentine's Day.  But I feel so lucky to have that little boy and couldn't imagine our family without him.  It's just too bad the first thing he got for his third birthday had to be strep :(

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday Catch-Up

I've been a bit lax in pulling pictures and sharing them.  I'm still not taking as many as I'd like to these days, but I suppose it's not inspiring to grab the camera when you're constantly refereeing the kids or rushing to the next warm place out of the winter cold.  But here are a few goodies...

The other morning I remembered to grab the camera to catch Carter on the rocking moose.  I bought this moose at IKEA before I was ever pregnant with Jacob because I was afraid they'd discontinue it before we got to have kids.  It made its first appearance on the blog when Jacob was a year old.  Carter has probably liked it more than Jacob ever did, and while it lives in the basement it has made rather frequent trips upstairs.  As you can see, Carter is getting pretty big for it now.  That blows my mind, by the way, but I wanted to make sure I caught a picture of it again before it had been outgrown!  When Carter hopped on the other day, I thought to grab my camera...
Such a big boy!

As he was rocking, I thought to take some video, and it happened to be a really cute point where he was extra chatty.  Someday down the road when I forget what he was like at this age, this video will be even more precious.  What a goofball!
 


While we're on the topic of him being a goofball, here's a throwback to Christmas Day, when Carter learned how to slide down stairs on his butt.  Once upon a time, those stairs belonged to my grandparents, and my cousins and I used to congregate there during family gatherings.  We used to love sliding down!  Now my aunt and uncle own the house and we still do Christmas there, and for whatever reason we were all reveling in the past--pictures of the generations on the stairs and sliding down on our butts.  And Carter learned how to do it, too!


Switching gears...Rochester has a bit of a crow problem.  They used to hang out at dusk in a park a couple blocks away from my old office.  Every year the city would invest in noise boxes, fireworks, and other options to scare the birds out of the park.  They made a mess of the park with their poop and they were downright creepy.  Well, it turns out that they've now ended up out in the 'burbs by my new office.  I don't know if it's always been like this, or if this is a new thing after they scared them off this year.  But as I leave the office almost every day, they are everywhere!  They are flying nearby, making noise, and landing in the trees in a park across the road.  The other day I had pulled out my camera to try to take a picture of the sunset showing through the trees.  That ended up being hard, but by the time I was done attempting, the crows were flying in.  I thought quickly enough to try to get a couple pictures of them in the trees, and then it occurred to me to get video, since the noise and constant stream of birds is hard to believe...
 
Sometimes the trees look like they have leaves because there are so many birds!
 

 
Last week I met up with my old Friday lunch buddies for the first time in months.  We had lunch at the Airigami exhibit, the giant display of balloon creations!  You may remember past ones that featured Jack and the Beanstalk and an undersea world.  This year's was supposed to feature the Genesee River, though I admit I haven't seen any bears hanging out near the river like they had here.  This one wasn't quite as grand as the last couple, but it was no less cool and beautiful how the balloons were used.
A waterfall, a whimsical tree, and some deer

The bear caught a fish!  And look, a turtle!

This playing bear was so cute, right down to his teeth!

I love this eagle nest with a tiny baby in the nest on the ledge!

The hot air balloon!
A look from above!
I didn't end up taking the kids this year since Jacob wasn't interested and I felt like Carter was still young to really understand what he was seeing.  Maybe next year it[ll be worth a special trip downtown. 

I feel like there should be more, but I'm too tired to think of more right now!  Hopefully more soon!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Brotherly Love to Brotherly Shove

So...for nearly three years, Jacob has wanted almost nothing to do with Carter.  At first he ignored him and kept his distance, and then he started avoiding him like the plague, actively running in the other direction.  And now, a week before Carter's third birthday, we've had a shift.  Perhaps he's just hit a new stage of boredom in his recovery, but suddenly he is obsessed with playing with Carter.  I wish I could say this was a good thing.  On some level I'm sure it is, but right now, it has become an impossible situation. 

A few days ago, perhaps helped along by Craig, they started playing sports in the living room together.  Jacob is obviously still in his cast, but he's taken to crawling around the house a lot of the time.  I'm not sure how I feel about that, but if he's not in any pain, hopefully it's fine.  If anything it helps bring him down to Carter's level a bit, both height-wise and agility-wise.  They've been playing soccer (with a very soft ball), football (with a small nerf ball), and hockey (mini sticks and a squishy puck).  And while all of the games start out fine, they go downhill very quickly.  Someone gets hurt, Jacob gets annoyed when Carter doesn't follow the rules, or a wrestling match ensues that could lead to more injuries. 

Jacob is constantly asking Carter if he wants to play, which under so many circumstances would be music to my ears, but now it just makes me cringe because I know what's coming.  The boys have been sent to their rooms about a dozen times this weekend, almost exclusively because they need to be separated and calm down.  They both get so worked up and so wild that we have to separate them before something happens.  And every time they come back out of their rooms, Jacob is immediately trying to get another game going.  And no matter how many times we encourage them to do something else or find another way to play together, it always goes down the same frustrating road.  It has been an exhausting weekend.

We've been waiting three years for Jacob to realize he can play with his brother, and now we find out they're completely incompatible because they can't help but beat each other up and fight about everything.  Carter has a special gift for being sneaky while looking sweet, but he's very determined, so backing down is rarely an option.  Jacob has absolutely zero self-control, which means he can't stop himself from pulling Carter down or playing tug-of-war with a ball until Carter flies backward into something.  He will wave a hockey stick around even more than Carter will, but of course Carter has to follow suit, so it inevitably becomes a stick-swinging affair.  Sometimes even one of Jacob's crutches becomes the weapon of choice.  Great, huh?  We've had a few injuries, though most have been pretty minor.  But there's potential for a lot worse, which is why we have to keep them apart after a certain point.  It's incredibly frustrating. 

I know I should be grateful that we have this tiny bit of progress, but right now I'm just tired of yelling and sending boys to their rooms. 

In other frustrating news, Carter has fought his nap for the last two days.  Yesterday we left him in there for more than two hours, and he never slept.  He ended up falling asleep on the way to dinner after we stopped in to Jacob's lacrosse game to say hi.  Jacob fell asleep, too, for that matter.  As I type today Carter is still fighting his nap after more than two hours because we're going to a Superbowl party in an hour and I was desperate for him to nap.  UGH.  This is bad.  Naptime is so important because it is my only sanity with these two crazy boys being in the same house, especially when Craig is working.  Luckily that's not an issue this weekend, but it will be for a number of weekends to come.  As you can imagine, this has me in no rush to change over the crib.  I'm also less convinced the rail I found will work on the crib because of how our converted crib has a small lip that holds the mattress in.  So, we appear to be on hold for the moment. 

The other significant development this weekend is that I chopped my hair.  I guess you could say I'm back to my mom 'do.  It's rather short, as short as it's been since Jacob was two!  I actually loved it this short, going back at least 10 years, but I guess once Jacob started needing more haircuts, mine became less frequent.  I got lazy, and it gradually got longer and longer.  It was probably at its longest when Carter was born, and once it was in his face and he was grabbing fistfuls, that's when I started cutting it around my shoulders again.  But I finally got sick of it looking stringy and lifeless, even at that length (hormones?), so off it has come.  I actually had to go back to the salon after I came home and styled it myself, because it needed some editing along the hairline in the back.  I also panicked a little that it was too short, and I'm still not 100% sold on the shape of it, but it's so much better short because it looks fuller and healthier.  I can edit it more easily now that it's this short.  It always takes a leap of faith to go this short, but had I gone any longer I'd probably be unhappy with it.  It can grow a little bit and still be short enough, so that's good too.  I may have just become a stereotype again, but oh, well.  I'll look nicer doing it.

Well, I guess it's time to retrieve the yelling, unnapped child from his room and start getting ready to leave for the party.  My two wine coolers will be well-earned tonight.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Exploring

Last night I had the opportunity to go on a tour at the Eastman School of Music.  It's a part of the University of Rochester, and they are just one of the units that I help raise money for.  Our student callers were going on a tour, and despite the fact it was already a busy day, I really wanted to go.  We had a morning all-staff meeting on the main campus, and our department had to leave that early because we needed to staff an event in another part of the same building.  We had 600 students writing thank you notes to donors for about three hours!  So after stopping back in the office for an hour, off I went to the city.

I've been to the school twice before--once a couple weeks ago for a work event (similar to the one I worked yesterday), and once just over a year ago when I went to see the gorgeous Chihuly sculpture in the atrium of the newest building on campus.  I'd known it was there, but with it in an area of downtown I was rarely near on foot, I had never gotten a chance to see it.  But last year when I was off of work and made it my mission to accomplish a few random adventures, I finally did it.  But that was the only part of the school I felt comfortable exploring at the time, and once I started my new job and saw photos of other parts of the school, I realized there was a lot of beauty hanging out on that corner of downtown Rochester.  Last night was my chance to see it all in person.

Initially I was hesitant to pull out my camera for fear of looking like a dork, but the beauty won me over.  The view that put me over the top was this one, sitting in the seats below the amazing chandelier in Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre.  It was hard to capture it because the light was so bright, but I like the way this shot turned out anyway. 

We saw some other gorgeous performance spaces, both new and old, both classic and technologically superior.  I wish I would have taken a picture of Hatch Recital Hall, which has these amazing wooden slat panel walls that can actually adjust to make perfect acoustics depending on the instrument.  I was just floored by the beauty in every single space.  If you have a couple minutes, Google "Kilbourn Hall" and "Hatch Recital Hall".  You'll be impressed.

We did, of course, go into the East Wing and see the Chihuly again.  This time I was on a different level so I got a couple different perspectives.  Unfortunately it wasn't quite dark enough for it to be more illuminated (externally), as I would have loved a chance to see it lit differently than I've seen it previously.


We ended up going back into Kodak Hall to see the breathtaking view from the balcony, and I was stunned by the depth of the three-dimensional detail above the chandelier that I didn't really notice from the floor.  It was so striking. 


The rest of the hall is quite beautiful in its own right, with attractive stone work, murals along the walls, busts and carvings of famous composers, and lovely gilding.  It looks like something out of a storybook.  And that's without hearing the lovely music that normally comes from that stage.

Near the end of the tour, we came down this staircase, and as we descended, I noticed its interesting shape.  When I looked up, I was struck by the coolness of the view. 

We finished our tour back in Lowry Hall, which is original to the school and stunning in its own right, with the gorgeous ceiling and detailed wooden ticket booths still intact further up on the right.

As I drove home, I marveled at the beauty I'd just seen.  In fact, I felt practically euphoric.  I was looking for unexpected beauty in everything during my drive.  It caught me off-guard a little bit, and I found myself wondering why seeing something like that had that kind of impact on me.  In the end I decided that it's just a smaller version of what I'm desperately craving--the chance to go out and explore the world.  Lately I've been desperately wishing to go away with Craig and spend time alone with him.  It's hard to do it with kids, of course, so it's been quite a while since we've had a night away, and ages since we've had more than that.  I just miss having adventures with him where we get to explore new places and do fun things together, without having the constant interruption/distraction of the kids' constant needs.  It's hard to take in the beauty of paradise, for example, when a kid is pulling on your arm and whining for a snack.  We love them, but it's hard to find "us" sometimes in the midst of our time with them.
 
We live a good life, but it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day stress of life.  Each day has an element of survival, with just trying to maintain enough energy to get through the day and keep the kids alive and well.  It's easy to get in a rut where nothing feels extraordinary.  I think that's why we as parents often try to surprise our kids with a treat.  We like to take them for ice cream, or bring home a special toy, or visit a fun new place, just so we can see that joy and wonder on their face.  We live vicariously through them when it comes to discovering the world with fresh eyes, because everything is new and exciting for them.  And since we don't get a lot of "new" in our own lives as we get older and get busy with daily stresses, we just want to see it through them.  It's cheaper and easier to impress them, after all.
 
But I think that's why a tiny glimpse into something new, different, and beautiful made me so euphoric.  It was a small taste of the big world that's out there waiting to be explored, and when you're craving it like I've been lately, that small glimpse was apparently intoxicating.  I'd hate to see what would happen if I got to go somewhere truly exciting!  But for one night, it was fun to see something different and be reminded of some of the amazing things this city has to offer.  Add in the dedication and talent of the students that were crawling all over those beautiful spaces, and it was downright inspiring. 
 
So, yeah, it was a good night.