Thursday, March 30, 2017

Tired

Pardon my complaint of a post here, but man, I am tired.  A big chunk of it is definitely my fault, as I simply haven't been going to bed early enough.  But I feel like right now I'm in the midst of the perfect storm of factors that are sucking the life out of me.  It's frustrating when I just feel powerless to stop this feeling and yet I know it's all pretty much my own fault in the first place.

Like I said, I haven't been going to bed when I should.  It seems like bedtime takes forever around our house these days, and by the time both kids are down, it's already at least 9:30.  If I try to work out, then it's 10pm before I'm really sitting down to chill, and an hour of that is not enough, apparently.  And at 11pm when I'm usually in the middle of whatever I was trying to accomplish (like opening an online savings account the other night, or reading the Sunday paper another night, or paying bills last night), inevitably reruns of Friends grace our TV and the back-to-back episodes seem to suck us in every time.  Before I know it, it's midnight and I'm not in bed and asleep until at least 12:15.  Considering my alarm first sounds at 6:30, that is not good.  Add in almost-nightly visits by Carter, random dreams, and the inability to find a position where my hands or arms don't fall asleep themselves, and I'm really not getting quality sleep.  I even bought a new mattress topper to see if that would help, but no such luck.  I have been trying to go to bed a little earlier, at least, which seems to be helping a bit today, but I still have a long way to go.

Another issue is that spring is still not really here.  No, there's no snow (well, some wet flakes tonight) and the temperatures are at least hanging around the 40s more consistently, but we haven't had that awesome shot of nice weather that we usually get in March.  Sure, we had one in February, but does that really count?  And one of the warmest more recent days was probably the windstorm day, so that wasn't exactly enjoyable, either.  Even so, neither of those times was super warm, and I could really use a few days of 60s and sunny right now.  I've just hit that winter wall where it is totally depressing to not see anything better than 50s and 10 days of rain (no joke) in the extended forecast.  Of course, it could be worse--I could be like my parents coming back from a month in Hawaii and have to readjust to this crap (ha!).

The kids have been exhausting as usual.  Both of us are actually pretty spent from dealing with it all the time.  They can't leave each other alone, and we can't trust them to be alone together.  Case in point, last night Craig picked up both kids so I could come right home from work.  Before I even got there, as Craig had a bathroom break before taking the kids outside to play, he heard a scream and came up to find Jacob incapacitated by a wounded toe.  He was apparently chasing Carter and caught his baby toe on the corner of the wall.  He completely blamed Carter ("He ran!") and was pretty angry at him for a while.  We iced it, buddy taped it, and gave him some medicine for the pain.  It was bruised this morning and still sore tonight, but there's no sense taking him to the doctor because they will do exactly what we did.  We'll keep an eye on it, but after just paying off his ER visit, we're in no rush for any major medical bills anytime soon.  But it just goes to show how these two rile each other up...and it's exhausting.

We did have our appointment with the therapist tonight as a full family.  Usually she talks to Jacob and us separately, but tonight we had to bring Carter and we were all in a room.  We had to draw a picture as a family (while the therapist secretly watched), and of course Jacob took over and didn't want to let anyone else help.  He had this whole plan for a lacrosse arena, and we spent the first seven minutes just trying to find something someone else could draw without ruining his vision.  We talked about the process alone with the therapist afterward, but I really wish she could have seen how the kids usually behave together--the incessant picking-on, the constant wrestling and chasing, and Jacob's near-obsession with ensuring his brother isn't getting more or better than him.  That is our big problem but it's tough to capture outside our normal life.  So I feel a little stuck there.

It's also been a little disheartening that I've been doing pretty well working out on the elliptical regularly and yet I'm not seeing much improvement.  Granted, I'm not trying super hard to regulate my eating more than usual, but you'd think that things might tone up a bit when I'm doing the elliptical 3-4 times per week, right?  My weight hasn't budged, and even if it's because my legs are gaining muscle, there just doesn't seem to be much to show for it right now.  I know I shouldn't complain, because I have a good set of clothes that fit and I've been able to eat mostly what I want without gaining additional weight, but I really hoped that the 3-4 times per week of 20-30 minute cardio workouts (and some abs and weights thrown in once in a while) would at least help me drop a few pounds.  After all, back in my 20s, five-day-a-week workouts helped me drop at least eight pounds in less than a month at one point, and even just adding a class once a week did much the same about five years later.  Clearly I've aged and my metabolism is not what it once was.  But still, I was hoping for a little something.  I really need to get back into the gym and start running again, as I haven't done it since last summer and the Corporate Challenge is once again on the horizon.  Supposedly it's going to be a couple months later this year, so I suppose that's good for me (aside from the prospect of a 90 degree race).  But I probably can't even run a mile right now, and that bothers me.  I miss the feeling of being toned and strong and accomplishing goals.  But it's also really hard to carve out time among the rest of the stuff we usually have going on to make it happen.

As usual I just find myself feeling out of sync.  I wish I could shift our entire day one hour earlier, but it just doesn't work that way.  I can't wake up earlier because I need more sleep.  I'd love to have an earlier dinner and give the kids an earlier bedtime, but our schedule with sports and whatever else just doesn't really jive with that.  It's sounds easy enough, but the reality is that we've been on this schedule for a long time for a reason.  But in the summer especially it never feels like we have enough time to enjoy outside, fit in dinner, and relax a bit before bed.  Everything just feels off and I hate that. 

Add in the letdown of not going on vacation as planned next week, and it's the perfect setup for a total pity party.  I know that trip would have probably just made me more tired in the long run, but the break was so needed and I'm just so bummed it's not happening.  I was ready for that kind of vacation from reality for a bit, and the disappointment of it not happening, on top of everything else, is a big blow.  My body and mind are ready for a break.  It's not coming anytime soon, so I guess all I can do is keep up the workouts and turn off my computer now and go to bed.  Done.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

News & Notes, Not To Be Edition

So, I guess we need to chalk it up to "To good to be true".  As feared a couple posts ago, the trip isn't happening.  There wasn't a real reason given, not that it would matter anyway.  Apparently some of the staff doesn't even know yet.  But we do and we are pretty darn disappointed.  It seemed like a sure-thing not that long ago--even one of the coaches who has been on many a trip like this said, "If he says it's happening, it's happening."  But it's not.  Well, maybe it will after the season is over, supposedly, but honestly, unless I have some sort of physical confirmation in my hand, I won't be believing anything moving forward.  It's just a kick in the gut to everyone, everyone who had planned and taken time off--both staff and significant others--and now it's not happening.  I was SO looking forward to time away from everything--from work, from the kids, from the daily to-do list of stuff--and just getting to enjoy some of the finer things in life...a cushy bed, nice gluten-filled meals, maybe a fancy show or a little quality time with a Chihuly.  I was also looking forward to some uninterrupted moments watching the Bellagio fountains, or trying the zipline on Fremont Street, or--most of all--having some quality time alone with Craig.  To have more than a night or two alone with him for the first time in more than eight years seemed unfathomable, and as much as I love my kids, it was honestly overdue.  And to celebrate the occasion, I actually went to Victoria's Secret over the weekend armed with two long-held gift cards.  I found a couple things that I wasn't even going to show him until the trip (nothing scandalous--I'm far too practical for that--but pretty I can do), but now I don't know what to do.  My parents have generously offered up an overnight, but I feel bad because it's not their fault it's not happening, so why should they have to pay?  I did look at bit at Groupon's Getaway deals, but even Niagara Falls seemed overpriced.  I suppose it's hard to put a price on time away, but the key part of this trip was the duration--that it was significantly longer than we'd had.  Not that one night won't do us good, but you know...the true escape would have been huge. 

I had already written up notes for my parents, but I guess I will set them aside for now in case something ever comes of the post-season possibility.  I hadn't started writing a packing list yet, thankfully.  On the bright side, I won't have to worry about missing Carter's picture day, or cramming in income tax prep or Easter shopping before we go.  I won't have to worry about looking uncool at the clubs or getting bathing suit-ready in two weeks.  I won't have to worry about airport delays or plane crashes.  But oh, it would have been so nice to feel warmth and get a change of scenery. 

In other news, on the heels of that news yesterday, Carter ended up with a stomach bug today.  He seemed fine this morning, but as he was looking at a book on my floor this morning, he suddenly set it aside and said that his stomach hurt.  I told him to go into the bathroom for a bit, but shortly after he said it was okay, or would be with some water.  A little bit after that he said he had to poop, so he came back up to the bathroom.  Just before he sat down, I heard that noise that all parents dread, the one where the stomach does its heave, and luckily he was standing right over the toilet when it happened.  He had a couple upchucks--thankfully he only had water in his stomach--and then he was OK.  When Craig came upstairs while he was sitting on the toilet afterward, Carter looked at him, smiled, and said, "I puked!"  I headed off to work and planned to relieve Craig later in the afternoon after a couple meetings, so he could head off to Canada.  Carter had one more round mid-morning, and that was it.  He spent the evening begging me incessantly for food, so hopefully we're okay for now.  Jacob and I drank a cup of grape juice with dinner, so hopefully that does what the internet says it does and keeps us healthy.  My stomach was a little grumbly all day, but that's usually what happens when the kids have something.  I can't tell if it's just nerves, or if I'm sort of immune to the strain they have so I just get a tiny fraction of the symptoms.  In all of the sicknesses the kids have had, usually I get some degree of this nervous stomach.  I think there have only been a couple times (one per kid) where I've gotten anything real.  I think that came from both kids' first bug.  I caught Carter's pretty soon after his, and with Jacob a couple days after I got some sort of horrible lower half version that had me shaking and sweating on the bathroom floor while Craig was working, wondering how I was going to take care of my baby.  Craig got the worst of it that time, though.  Worst night ever listening to him be sick and keeping an ear open for Jacob in the next room after a very long day with him.  But anyway, I'm hoping we all avoid this one, no matter how short and mild it seemed. 

In other news, after being under two feet of snow a week ago, we now have green patches in the yard.  It hasn't been crazy warm--maybe a day or two around 50--but it has sure gone down fast.  Today was cold, so it still doesn't feel like spring.  It's time to start getting spring decorations out, but I just haven't been able to do it yet.  Not when I look out and see snow everywhere.  Slightly warmer weather is coming, though.  I will take 50s at this point.  Or even 40s with sun.  Everyone is craving outside time right now!  Cleanup is still going on from the windstorm two weeks ago.  I think the snow buried some of the problems for a bit, but I still marvel as I drive around and see the remaining uprooted trees, piles of branches, and bare or patched sections of roofs.  So many roofs.  I feel even more fortunate that our house made it through unscathed.  I did notice, however, that we have some moisture between the panes of glass in our dining room windows, and I'm sort of wondering if the force of the wind on that side of the house might have pushed moisture in there or loosened a seal somewhere.  Maybe it has nothing to do with the storm, as I didn't notice it behind the sheers until today.  I'm guessing it will dry eventually, but it's annoying.  Still, we're lucky.  I still cringed last night when the wind was blowing a bit again, though.  Needless to say, this area is over the extreme weather for a while.

We got Jacob's latest report card last week, and it was sooo much better.  Last time he had a number of problem areas, including a "below standards" in math, which had never happened in any academic subject before.  Previously it was just behavior stuff.  The slide in academics was what really prompted us to move toward medication.  This time around, it was a huge improvement!  He was back to just the two behavior areas he always had.  Comments were much better all around, and he even moved up to above standards in Visual Arts.  It was a huge relief.  It's so nice to know the medication is truly working at school, even if we're still having a lot of issues at home.  We're still dealing with constant issues with the boys not being able to leave each other alone.  Next week Carter is coming along to Jacob's therapy appointment so she can see them interact.  That should be interesting, and I hope she sees something that can give us a new direction to go in to become more functional. 

Other than that, not much else is happening.  I guess now that the trip is off the table, the next thing I need to do is start thinking about our summer vacation.  We have a few lacrosse tournaments to go to, so we may be tacking on a couple days to one of those trips to make a vacation out of it.  But I need to look at dates and locations and see what else is out there.  Maybe planning something like that will take some of the sting out of our lost trip.  Maybe.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Suit up!

A while back, Jacob started asking for a suit.  I don't know why he got it in his head, but it stayed there.  Theories abound as to his sudden interest, such as Craig wearing one for work, or wanting to be like the lacrosse players as they arrive at games, but even he can't seem to fully explain it.  He just wants to look good, apparently. 

The funniest part of this, of course, is that he only wears sports pants and t-shirts.  He has some Under Armour dress pants and polos to wear to church, but that is as dressy as he ever gets.  He won't even wear jeans.  He had one previous "dress up" phase right before he turned five, when we got him a shirt, tie, vest, and dress pants that he wore for Easter and Pre-K graduation.  But since then dressing up has been challenging.  He decided he didn't like the type of khakis I'd been buying him since he was three, and he wanted pants more "like Daddy's", but I wasn't sure where to get them since they're hard to find in standard stores when it's not Easter/Communion season. 

But then someone suggested Burlington Coat Factory, and that sounded doable.  But before we got to get there, he discovered the Under Armour pants and we settled on those instead.  But then the suit thing came up and it didn't fade away.  So, even though he doesn't have a whole lot of need, I decided we could indulge his interest and look into it.  It can't hurt to encourage him to dress better, right?

A few weeks back we stopped at Payless to look at a couple things, and he found a pair of dress shoes he loved.  They're fake crocodile, and they're pretty snazzy.  They didn't have his size, though, so I ordered them online in what we figured had to be his size.  He absolutely loved them when they arrived.  Then, a couple weeks ago he and I went to Burlington and looked around.  We actually found a matching pair of pants and sport coat in the right sizes, and the price was pretty reasonable.  He picked a white shirt that came with a clip-on tie, but they also had real ties that were only five bucks, so I let him pick one of those, too.  All things considered, the price was reasonable.  It still seems pretty frivolous as it's a bit much for church, and once we're past Easter and a nice dinner he's attending in the spring, I'm not entirely sure how he'll use it, but I know it means a lot to him.  He's been talking about wearing it ever since.

Yesterday he finally got to wear everything out for the first time, with this as the result...
Note that his hair has been gelled, as well.  Gotta have the hair to match the stylin' clothes!

He was pretty proud of himself, and he really looked great.  He got a lot of compliments at church.  And yes, he was overdressed (some kids wear jeans or even less dressy stuff), but he was fine with it.  I think he still needs to fully realize that it's not particularly sensible for him since he's more active and will normally want to change out of it as soon as possible so he can play (i.e., on a day like Easter when time with his cousins awaits).  Even still, I'm happy he's exploring some clothing options outside of his usual sports attire.  I used to think he'd be upset if he went to a private high school where shirts and ties had to be worn every day, but maybe not. 

Regardless, it's clear my little boy is growing up.  Sometimes I see him in the suit and he looks like a junior executive.  Or maybe he should be one of those little boys having his first communion (at our church he has to wait until 7th grade for confirmation).  But there's no doubt it's an upgrade from the daily parade of sports pants and moisture-wicking shirts!  Some people have asked if he's trying to impress a girl, but I don't think there's anyone at Sunday School he's concerned about, and the girl in his class that he likes probably won't ever see it.  But I have noticed him taking more of an interest in his hair, as I've mentioned, and when he remembers to have me gel it, I know he likes it better that way.  Now if we could just get him to be more concerned with general hygiene and room cleanliness, we'd be well on our way to parenting a tween.  Yikes.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

To Be or Not To Be, That is the Question...

Many months ago, Craig called me at work and somehow brought up that there was a possibility of going on a really nice trip courtesy of his team owner.  Fancy trips are something that the owner has done for upper management and the coaching staff for years, but never has it trickled down to the staff.  Well, it appeared, the staff's time had come, families were going to be invited, and there was a very good chance we'd be going somewhere nice in early April.

Initially some of the possible destinations were tropical and gorgeous.  Craig and I went back and forth many times discussing the possibility of taking the kids.  If they're invited, yes, it seems like a waste to not give them that opportunity.  But then again, we haven't been on a real vacation by ourselves since before Jacob was born, and this was our chance to do it better than we'd probably have ever let ourselves.  Honestly, at the time we were only a few months removed from the disastrous trip to Toronto over the summer, where every moment was spent trying to keep the kids separated, and the last thing I wanted to do in paradise was referee.  I didn't want to have to worry about what Jacob could eat, or how miserable Carter would be at the pool, or spending multiple nights in a hotel room trying to get them to sleep at a reasonable hour.  And as much as Craig kept digging to figure out if the destinations might have kids programs and things that might make the trip easier, I was adamant that I didn't want to take them.

I love my kids, I really do.  But I love my husband as well, and we are sorely overdue for some serious time alone.  We can barely have a conversation without getting interrupted numerous times.  Date nights are almost non-existent as I hate having to bug Lori to babysit and I don't even want to leave both kids with anyone else at this point because they're such a disaster together.  So, we've opted to do date lunches once or twice a month.  It's only an hour at a fast food joint, but it's something.  And I want that for a few days, just to see what it feels like again.  Maybe, God forbid, we'll find out we're totally bored with one another, but hopefully we'll recapture some of the fun of our pre-kid selves and make a whole new set of memories to bond us for years to come.  And I know that while family vacations are also great for that memory making (even when there's a lot of suckiness interspersed in it all), this was too big a chance for us to pass up for ourselves.

But Craig came back with, "When will we ever get another chance to take the kids to the Caribbean?"  My response?  "That's not our job!"  My parents have been to the Caribbean many times and have never taken me.  Granted, they didn't start going until I was in high school, but even still, that was never an expectation I had of them.  Back then I watched many friends go on fancy, tropical vacations with their parents, and yet I knew that wasn't something we were able to do, as my parents chose to save and spend their money more carefully.  Do I wish we could have taken a few more nice trips?  Of course.  It would have made for some great memories all these years later.  But I don't begrudge my parents what they have now because they worked hard for it.  And since the Caribbean was a new thing for them in their late 40s, they set the example that not everything needs to happen NOW.  Clearly they were much older than me getting to do that for the first time, and it told me that someday my time would come, too.  And someday I hope it will for my kids.  But it is not a parental mandate to take them to some fancy destination.  Fun places, yes.  Historical places, absolutely.  But the tropics?  Nope.

When the final destination came down, there was good news and bad news.  The good news is that it made our decision about the kids very easy.  The bad news is that it was the least exotic of the locations.  In fact, we've already been there--Las Vegas.  I got over my disappointment pretty quickly, however, since there's some Chihuly stuff to see there and we'll be staying at a very nice place that we'd never be able to afford ourselves.  Sure, I'd love to have gone somewhere exotic and sat by a tropical pool, or watched beautiful sunsets over a clear blue ocean, but this could be pretty awesome, too.

The only problem?  We're three weeks out, and we have absolutely no information about it.  We know nothing about anything...no flights, no activities, no details whatsoever outside of the original dates we were told to block off.  Aside from one day where I had to provide my name as it appears on the ID I will be using to travel, we have no reason to believe anything is booked.  But we haven't heard it's NOT happening, and everyone on the staff is still operating as if it is happening.  But there's no doubt that the silence from the higher-ups is starting to concern everyone.  And because it's hard to not sound like an entitled jerk if you start pressing for information for a trip you're beyond lucky to be receiving, no one has asked.  So we wait.

In the meantime, the planner in me is losing it a bit.  I like to prepare for stuff like this way ahead of time, and I feel like I can't.  I don't want to do a million things only to end up disappointed, but I also don't want to wait until the last minute and panic.  For example, don't get out much, so I need to consider my "cool" clothes.  Not to mention that we're off-season for summer stuff and I need to think about what I even have buried in my off-season closet.  I'm not that cool by nature, but I'd like to do the best I can with what I have, and that takes planning!  Will we have nice dinners?  Will we be going to a show?  Will I end up in a club?  I'd like to plan ahead as much as I can.

Also, with my parents coming in to watch the kids, I sort of need to know when our flights are so I know if they need to be here the night before, or if they can come in that day.  And since I don't know when our flight would come back, we won't know if they'll need to be here part of the day, all day, or late into the night.  In the meantime I do have a lot of stuff to record for them, from the kids' schedules to possible menus to accommodate Jacob's diet and both of their palettes.  That's a lot of work and I don't really want to get through all that only to not use it!

Can you tell I'm nervous?  I think I'm still a little scarred by the postponed trip to Florida four years ago.  We were supposed to go to Disney with Craig's family the November before Carter was born, and--no lie--it seemed surreal and amazing that we'd be in Disney as it was turning to winter here.  Sure enough, it was surreal, because the trip never happened.  Two weeks before, Craig's mom had emergency surgery and the trip got postponed.  His family went without us right around when Carter was born (we knew we wouldn't be ready for a while), and we took our trip once Carter was a bit older.  Craig's parents were supposed to go on that one with us, but his dad had his own medical emergency a couple weeks before that trip!  It was probably best in the long run because that was early on in Jacob's behavior issues and they probably would have been upset about how he was acting.  But long story short, losing the original trip a couple weeks before was tough.  And I think I'm still living with that fear now.  This trip seems sort of surreal as it is, and that nagging fear that something isn't going to go as planned won't go away.  And with how much weight I'm putting on this trip to be a nice little booster shot for our marriage, losing it would be pretty devastating.  Not to mention that I'm really looking forward to a few days away from work, and if we don't go I don't think I'm going to waste the vacation days just sitting home feeling sorry for myself. 

While I don't want to sound entitled, I just really need this trip to happen.  Mentally it's just something I need to do--for me, for us, and even for the kids.  I think it was a good character builder that my parents used to go on vacation without us and we had to spend a week with other family.  We got a little spoiled by grandparents, for sure, but we still had to learn how to adjust to new circumstances.  I have precious memories from those times, especially now that my grandparents have all passed away.  We also got to miss our parents a little and look forward to seeing them (and getting souvenirs!) when they came home.  Now as a parent myself, I realize how important those vacations were, and I appreciate the example they set by making them okay.  We have to make ourselves a priority or the family ceases to function.  If for some reason it doesn't happen, we'll probably have to pull out our wallet and make something happen for ourselves.  It's time.  It was one of the lessons I learned from my cousin's and my uncle's funerals last year: You never know how much time you have left, so you need to step out sometimes and live life to the fullest--within reason, without sending yourself to financial ruin--but full nonetheless.  And after 13+ years of marriage and 8+ years without extended time alone, I think it's time to make that leap, however we need to do it.  Let's hope we can do it the easy way, though...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Buried

So after all of the ridiculousness of last week, I would have loved a nice, quiet week.  However, as we were coming out of the haze of the windstorm, already the weather forecast was not looking cooperative.  A winter storm watch had been issued for Monday night through Wednesday night.  The last thing we needed on top of all of the power outages and downed trees and wires was freezing weather, more wind, and a foot and a half of snow.  The freezing temps came in on Saturday, and that was bad enough since so many people in Rochester still didn't have power.

By Monday things felt a little more normal around work as we all compared notes, but admittedly we were all keeping an eye out for snowflakes.  Fortunately they didn't start until later that night, after I had a chance to run to Wegmans to get a few things I thought I'd need for the week.  After missing school last Thursday and Friday, Jacob did have school Monday.  His school was the second to last to get power, later on Sunday evening, but the school that hosts the afterschool program was still without, so Craig picked him up early that day.  As the evening went on and the snow started, suddenly the school closings started rolling in.  They were only forecasting 3-5 inches on Tuesday, so it was a little surprising that everyone was closing, but after a botched snow storm in Buffalo earlier this year where kids got trapped at school, and after being so shell-shocked from last week's storm, I think everyone was in the mood to overreact.  And after a bit, our district closed.

The next morning we only had a few inches outside, but because it was only supposed to get worse as time went on, we got the option to work from home.  I decided to work a half day as I knew that being home with both kids and trying to keep up with snow might get a bit challenging, even with Craig around.  In addition, the night before I noticed that Carter had a problem that necessitated a doctor visit.

I think I forgot to mention that I realized a few weeks ago that Carter had a viral infection called molluscum contagiosum.  Many months ago I noticed Carter getting these little bumps on his shoulders, chest, and neck.  I thought he was just unlucky and getting a bunch of skin tags, but over time some of them got a little larger, almost pimple like, but without the redness or whitehead. I just thought they were unfortunate little growths.  Craig and I each have large-ish ones hidden along our hairlines, so why couldn't he have something similar?  It was unfortunate, but I figured when he had his well visit I could ask if a dermatologist visit might be necessary.  Well...about six weeks ago the Reasons My Son is Crying blogger posted this cryptic post likening their doctor to a wizard or something because the diagnosis of "molluscum contagiosum" sounded so strange and mythical.  I had no idea what it was, so I Googled it, and suddenly I realized that was the cause of Carter's bumps!  It's just a viral infection whose only symptom is the bumps.  They hang out for many months, then just disappear on their own.  Sure enough, I realized that one or two of Carter's were healing, and the doctor confirmed that's what they were.  When they start to look like nasty pimples, that's a sign they're healing and on their way to disappearing.  Well...fast-forward a few weeks and one of the bumps was looking particularly nasty.  I think I noticed it looked a little red over the weekend, but by the time I got Carter changed for bed Monday night, I realized it was super swollen, very red, and scabbed over.  He'd complained about his car seat strap hitting it that evening, and no wonder.  It was huge.  I was convinced it was infected, so on Tuesday morning, despite the rapidly falling snow, I called the doctor.  We got in at 10am and braved the roads.  Sure enough, it was slightly infected, though not enough to drain.  She gave us some antibiotics and recommended warm compresses.  Easy enough! 

Back home we went, and it was time to start shoveling, so we both got on our snow stuff while Craig and Jacob were off doing a work thing.  It was a bear just to get up the first four inches or so, but I did it.  Carter had fun riding in the sled afterward!  Craig and Jacob did another round in the afternoon that cleared another four inches or so, and I finally got in some work.  It started snowing harder as the day went on, and in the evening Craig and I each went out a couple hours apart to clear a couple inches.  It would mean a couple less inches we'd have to clear in the morning...which is a big deal when they're expecting up to a foot overnight.  School was closed again and even daycare called during the evening to tell us they'd be closed, so I went to bed fully expecting to work from home again today. 

When my alarm went off, I eventually got up to look out the window (yep, lots of snow) then half-accidentally fell back to sleep.  The kids slept in so it was only my ringing phone that woke me back up a little before 8am.  It was my boss confirming I saw the texts informing us that we were closed today--which never happens!  That meant I didn't have to torture myself working from home again, and I'd have plenty of time to work on the snow removal.  We had a very lazy morning before the first shoveling of the day, which while significant, seemed to be lessened by a neighbor snowblowing for us--even though by the time we got out there it was tough to tell for sure.  Craig and Jacob did a great job and I helped out at the end.  We also had to dig out our neighbor who got stuck in his driveway.  After that the boys got some playtime in!

Carter is sitting in a sled at the top of the pile near our front door.  The pile was a good four feet high, probably because we had a fresh foot of drifted snow in front of the porch every time we walked out.

Another view of the pile from the driveway.  And no, he did not sled down that way!

Looking down our driveway and across the street.  The piles on the sides were a few feet high and it was still coming down and blowing everywhere.

Looking from the driveway across the front of the house.  Note the snow almost completely covering the giant evergreens by the window.  Also note the giant drift on the roof.

Another large pile looking the other way.  Again, the evergreen is covered.
Eventually I walked through thigh-deep snow into the backyard.  I wanted to clear out the walkout steps so we could open the door if necessary.  But look at the table and chairs!

Looking toward the swing set and out toward trees I was shocked to still see standing last week.

More patio, looking over toward the pool this time.  And yes, that's all blowing snow in the distance. 
I later went back out with a long ruler to check the actual depth and clear off the patio table before we lost another one to heavy snow.  The depths went as low as 17 inches and as high as 22 inches, but the middle of the yard seemed to be around 19 inches.  Drifts were way deeper in places.  Some areas nearby received 26 inches, and other parts of the state were at least that high.  Friends of mine live in the Adirondacks and they got 40 inches!  It was pretty crazy to see after having grass 48 hours earlier and 60 degree temperatures numerous times this winter. 

Jacob did another round of shoveling later this afternoon, which I finished up since the plow had finally come and the pile was heavy.  By the time I finished that, my arms and back were completely spent.  So many rounds of shoveling!  To make matters worse, the wind was blowing again, which threw snow back in my face and made me nervous about the trees around us...again.  By that point the snow had pretty much stopped and was just blowing around.

I came back in the house to make dinner, and I noticed the sunset shaping up to be pretty, so I ran outside to snap a couple pictures.


It made for quite an ending to a couple crazy days and a very tough week.  Things should be back to normal in the morning.  We might get a little more overnight, but roads should be plowed and schools should all finally be open.  I am exhausted, so much so that I can barely keep my eyes open to finish this.  I'm so thankful that things actually closed so we could just stay home and not drive through the snow too much.  It might seem like we're going soft like southerners, but I would much rather not risk my life driving or worry about what I'm missing.  Either way, let's just hope spring comes soon!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Blown Away

Sorry for the radio silence.  We had some technical difficulties this week...literally.  Wednesday was crazy.  But before I get into that, let's rewind one week to last Wednesday, which was also a little crazy.  Craig was in Canada and I had to grab the kids after work.  It was crazy windy outside, and it made for a harrowing night.  Gusts were up over 70 mph, and the house sounded like it.  I watched the glass in our kitchen windows move and slightly buckle.  The roar outside was awful, so bad that I felt bad putting the kids to bed because it was so loud in their rooms.  I did everything in my power to keep my cool so they didn't get nervous.  And honestly, they slept fine.  I slept better than expected--must have been that the wind direction wasn't whipping the back of the house as bad--but woke up when Craig got home after 1am and had a couple loud gusts wake me up at other times, even with earplugs in (otherwise I would not have slept, as the roar was constant).  We didn't really have any damage and the power miraculously stayed on.  Other areas weren't quite as lucky--one road less than 10 minutes from us was closed until this past Tuesday because they needed a number of new poles installed--but as a whole we made it through fine. And then came this Wednesday.

They were predicting strong winds once again, but only once I was at work did I start to see that it could be worse than the last wind storm.  The winds started picking up by lunch time, and at 1pm there was a gust over 70 mph.  By 1:30, it hit 82 mph.  Right about then, Facebook started lighting up with updates from those who were out in the world--power outages, downed trees, roof damage, closed roads, you name it.  It was right about then that major anxiety set in about what damage we might come home to.  It was sort of apocalyptically scary, a total feeling of helplessness that I probably I hadn't quite experienced since 9-11.  The good news was that my office is practically a bunker.  We're on the first floor of a solid brick building where half of the floor is underground.  We're right next to the fallout shelter, in fact.  I couldn't even hear the wind most of the time, which was good for my mental state.  I was actually happier to be at work than waiting for the worst at home surrounded by horrible noises, but I was terrified of what I might come across on the commute...or once I got home.  We actually seemed to keep our power until about 3pm, which was at least a couple hours after other spots in town.

Luckily, Craig headed home first.  He was supposed to go to a late meeting, but he wasn't feeling well so he picked up Jacob from the afterschool program (which had lost power) and headed home.  Fortunately, our only casualty was our grill, which had flipped forward and shattered its handle.  It's possibly still technically usable but probably not feasible for the long run.  Of course, when he went to try to release our garage door so he could pull the van in, the rope broke right off, so we had to leave the cars out for the night.  Not sure how to repair that issue.  But all things considered, we came through well, at least as far as damage is concerned.

I came home a little bit later.  My drive was pretty uneventful other than seeing pretty recent aftermath of a light pole falling on the side of the highway.  But as I got off the highway and started toward daycare, the damage became more apparent.  Huge trees had been uprooted or lost half of their branches.  Huge pine trees lay on the ground, and giant maples were splintered.  Elsewhere in town (not on my path) there were telephone poles snapped and dangling.  When I drove by a house with a huge tree leaning on it, I knew things were in bad shape.  I was a bit shaken by the time I made it to daycare, which still had power.  I gingerly drove Carter home, on the lookout for more fallen trees or other road dangers.  It was still very windy at that point, so just the drive itself seemed dangerous.  Oh, and that road that opened back up on Tuesday?  It stayed open this time, but only because there were a half dozen trucks lined up on the side of the road, each with an arm holding up the new poles because they all started tilting precariously over the road again on Wednesday!

Upon coming home I was relieved to see that most of our neighborhood was fine--with the exception of a couple big trees around the corner.  I noticed later that a couple neighbors have flapping shingles, so I'm really feeling fortunate that our house is intact.  More than a few houses in town have been condemned, so it could be far, far worse.  Anyway, by this point the power was off.  We have an electric stove and we needed to avoid opening the refrigerator, so cooking dinner was pretty much out of the question.  But venturing out seemed like a bad idea since there was a state of emergency and a driving ban.  But we went out anyway.

Our first try was a few minutes--and a number of non-functional stop lights--away.  Both of our options in one plaza (Burger King and Mighty Taco), along with the entire plaza, the nearby stop light, and places across the street, were all out of power.  Thwarted, we continued south to the next town to see if a Pizza Hut was functional, but that also was not open.  We turned around and headed back toward the mall, which we saw did have power, but as we got there we realized the doors were locked and they were turning people away.  We found out later they closed a half hour earlier.  We drove down the road to check out Chipotle, but it was closed even though the restaurant two doors down was open.  We could have gone to Five Guys across the street, but I didn't feel I could stomach a greasy burger so we continued on back to Salvatore's Pizza and Subway.  We ordered Jacob's pizza, then headed to Subway to get subs for the rest of us.  I was so happy to eat by that point, and to my delight, the wind had died down significantly when we walked out.  The weather, by the way, was in the 50s, which made the wind a little less miserable than it could have been.  This weekend's weather in the 20s with blustery winds and snow more than made up for it, though.  Anyway, while we were eating we got the call that schools were closed the next day.

We went back to our now rapidly cooling house and settled in for a dark night.  Craig read to Carter, Jacob played on Craig's phone, and I read one of the two library books I got last week that I wasn't sure I'd finish in time.  We only had a little time to kill before bed, and both kids went down pretty much without incident.  I read while Craig snuggled with Carter, and eventually it was time for bed.  It was a dark night and aside from a couple kid wakeups and a 5:45am call from daycare regarding their status for the day, it was okay.  It was a cold morning to get ready for work, and I held off from washing my hair and tried dry shampoo instead because I'd never dry my hair in time.  Craig took the boys to work and I left for my office.  They went back home after lunch and started loading food into coolers with ice and putting small ice packs throughout the fridge.  I stopped for more ice on my way home and tried to salvage some other items.  By now it was starting to get colder outside so the garage was the best place to leave them.  In the meantime, I was charging up all of my devices at work, and when I got the call that school was closed again Friday, I decided to take the next day off.

Back at home, we headed out for another dinner quest, and this time ended up at McDonald's.  Jacob brought some of his leftover pizza since he can't eat there.  While we were eating, I got a good look at the goose egg Carter had picked up while running through Craig's office (we're still not sure what he fell into) earlier that day.  It had a large bump, a brushburn, and a multicolored bruise.  Its placement above his temple made me nervous, and I determined I'd like to make our doctor's evening hours just to make sure it was okay.  But when we tried to call, it wouldn't go through.  We knew there were a lot of poles down that way, but we took a drive up just to make sure they weren't open anyway.  No luck, so we opted to visit an urgent care a town over.  It was way overreacting, for sure, but it was one of those peace of mind things.  We were there for maybe an hour, and of course Carter was fine.  But when we came out, the nearby intersection was full of emergency vehicles.  We had just missed a nasty accident at an intersection that was not only missing its stoplights, but was also dark enough that it was probably easy enough to miss the temporary stop signs.  It turned out later than one of the accident victims passed away, and it really struck me how many after-effects come from a storm like this after the initial damage. 

Back at home, the house was getting even colder.  The boys watched something on Craig's computer before bed and I continued to read.  I finished up a book with Jacob that we'd been reading for about a week--a choose your own adventure style book that led us in circles until I finally figured out where we made a wrong turn--and Craig and I both snuggled the kids for a while under layers of blankets.  It was nice snuggling Jacob until he went to sleep.  It's so rare!  Craig watched a show on his computer and I finished my book before it was time for bed. 

Carter joined us in bed in the middle of the night for the second straight night--it's a bad habit we need to break but a night with a 50 degree house was not the time--and it made for another broken but okay night of sleep.  Craig headed off to work and daycare was open, so he dropped off Carter.  I took a shower and air dried my hair before Jacob and I headed out--into snow and wind--to do some shopping.  I needed to get a gift for a baby shower this weekend, and then we killed some time at the mall until lunch, when we met up with Craig.  We'd decided to go to Syracuse in the afternoon for a college lacrosse game.  Not only would it keep us out of the cold house, but it would help Craig scout a bit for the three college games he's working in the coming weeks.  After lunch Craig and Jacob headed to the gas station next door for some road snacks, and I went home to get a couple things done before we left.  After seeing a number of utility trucks nearby all day, I was hopeful we'd get power back.  And when I saw our neighbor's porch lights on, I got a little excited.  Alas, the garage door didn't open, and I dejectedly walked into the 49-degree house.  I went downstairs to grab a gift bag for the shower gift, and at that point the boys came home.  I heard them yell, "We have power!", and was momentarily confused until I looked at the stereo in the office, which now displayed 12:00 on it!  The power had apparently just come back on, and it happened to be the same moment Jacob tried turning on a light!  He insisted he had the magic touch!  We had a brief celebration before heading out to pick up Carter and go to Syracuse.  At least we knew we'd be coming back to a warm house!

The game was fun, and it was a nice diversion from the previous couple days.  Carter took his tiger hat and stuffed tiger to cheer the RIT Tigers on! 


 
He kept himself occupied with his Happy Meal Hot Wheels car, which he pulled back and sent shooting down the metal bleachers. 

You can just see him holding his truck, which by then was driving on the concrete instead of the bleachers.  Less crashes, but a sneaky way to wander farther away!
 
We battled through some snow on the drive home and decided to stop at Wegmans to get fresh milk and a couple other replacements for the lost causes.  The boys were chasing each other around as usual, and at one point we separated so we could make some progress, as Carter kept running away.  Jacob reluctantly stayed with me and we picked up a few things before we had to backtrack, at which point he found Craig and Carter and stupidly approached them.  Predictably, Carter ran from him, and somehow Carter got completely lost.  It took at least five minutes and two attempts around the store to find him.  Clearly we were furious with both boys--from Carter's penchant to run, to Jacob's insatiable desire to chase--and it made for a rough ending to the night.  Back at home, the boys ate small, quick dinners and went right to bed.  Meanwhile, I started working on the food.  I had to sort through multiple coolers and icepacked foods to determine which were salvageable and which were not.  Some might be pitched in the weeks to come if we discover it did not, in fact, come through okay.  But I think our efforts kept a lot of things in good shape, so I wasn't as upset about what we lost as I thought I'd be.  Regardless, I was happy to sit down with a bowl of fresh ice cream afterward as Craig and I watched a movie.  I forgot to mention that we figured out when we got home that the cable was actually still out.  So no TV, no phone, and no wifi.  Definitely disappointing, but at least DVDs work and my smartphone purchase last summer looks like one of the best decisions I ever made!

Today we savored our warm house and packed up for a planned trip to Buffalo.  We had Jacob's lacrosse game this afternoon and then headed west to Craig's parents'.  I have a baby shower tomorrow, and it's also Craig's mom's birthday.  Back in Rochester, people are slowly but surely getting their power back, but it's been a slow go in a lot of areas.  Tomorrow night is the target to have 90 percent of customers back online.  I'm honestly still marveling at how much this storm has transformed our landscape.  Every drive is a new spectator sport, trying to spot all of the damage.  There's an uprooted tree or damaged house around every corner, and a lot of cold, shell-shocked people left in the storm's wake.  It's been quite a crazy ride and I truly hope it's almost over.

In the spirit of hope, I'll leave you with some pictures I took the previous Wednesday, the day of the first windstorm.  As I was driving to pick up the kids there was some rain, and around that time the sun was peeking below some clouds.  As I approached Jacob's school, the most glorious rainbow appeared in my side view mirror.  By the time I got to the school and saw the whole thing, I was mystified!  Not only was it huge, with vivid color, but it was also a double rainbow!




Jacob and I marveled at it, apparently the calm before the storm of a very rough night.  But rainbows are always a reminder to me that God is watching over us, and I was so happy to see this one when I did.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Good Stuff

For as many epic battles and utterly frustrating moments as Jacob and I have on a regular basis, lately we have managed to have some pretty nice interactions.  For a long time it felt like we didn't connect AT ALL.  I couldn't even touch him without him pulling away, let alone sneak a hug.  As a mom, having zero physical contact with your not-yet-grown child is hard.  I think it's a natural, primal mom instinct to want to be close to your child, and when that no longer happens it is frustrating and sad.  And for so long, that's just how it was.

Over the past few months in particular, though, I have noticed a shift. I don't know if it coincides with him starting his medication, but that could be part of it.  Of course, that also brought about the era of our evenings from hell when the medicine wears off, so it's not all smiles and rainbows.  Without a doubt, the medicine has definitely made a difference at school.  Not only is his teacher much happier with the student he's become, but his work is better and he actually says he LIKES school now.  That has almost never been the case.  Ironically, I think third grade was when I started liking school a bit less because it became more demanding, but I think he's smart enough that he appreciates the challenge now that he can focus enough to face it.  He also likes his teacher now that she's not yelling at him all the time.  It's made a huge difference.

But at home we've faced even bigger challenges than before as he is nearly out of control when the medicine wears off.  He is impulsive, rude, angry, and a constant thorn in his brother's side--and Carter definitely returns the favor, which repeatedly restarts the cycle.  It makes for a long night, every night.  Still, some nights are worse than others and it's hard to pinpoint why.  It is because he held it together all day at school and needs a release?  Is it something he ate?  Is he overtired?  Is it too much screen time?  Just a bad mood?  Is Carter worse than usual?  We simply don't know.  It does seem like Carter impacts the vast majority of the worst of it, and we're still working through that with the therapist, particularly now that she's (finally) come to her own conclusion that Carter seems to be key to the behaviors we're dealing with at home.  One-on-one, without Carter in the mix, lately I've noticed a much more mature Jacob emerging from behind the wall he'd built up.  Not all the time, by any means (hello, potty talk), but there are moments, no doubt.

So...while these moments are happening, I wanted to take a moment to immortalize them here, just in case I need a refresher some day of things we have been able to bond over. 

1) When we're collaborating on a cake design--be it the one we did last weekend or whatever we do for his birthday--he really gets into it and I love his enthusiasm.  Giving him full ownership over the cake last weekend was a lot of fun because he took such pride in it.  He gets so into the project and you can see his creativity come out in full force.  And since I'm the one with the skills to pull off his ideas, he is willing to work with me.

2) Similarly, whenever I make him some special food or buy him something new or that he loves but rarely gets, I sometimes even get a spontaneous hug.  If it's homemade cinnamon rolls or cookies or some other form of treat, or it's taking him for pizza and cookies (and maybe even donuts) at his favorite place, or if I get the gluten-free half moon cookies from Wegmans, usually I get some sort of positive response and at least a few minutes of happy, respectful treatment.  Then they sort of feel like a bribe, but I know how much it means to him in the moment so I do it anyway.  

3) A while back when we got our elliptical, once in a while Jacob would come downstairs with me when I was on it.  He would play Legos but then he'd start watching my usual choice of TV, which is almost always HGTV.  I used to watch it all the time years ago, but I got out of the habit (probably so I didn't get too fixated on a perfect house).  But when I go down to work out, it's the one channel that almost always has something I will watch.  And for some reason, Jacob got really into those shows.  In fact, the other day he was asking to watch a house show with me.  Funny kid.

4) Jacob's hair is pretty stubborn.  He's got a pretty major cowlick and his hair is pretty thick.  As a result, when he sleeps on it funny, it can end up all over the place.  He's at the stage where he wants it to look good but can't always figure out how to do that, and somewhere along the way, he started letting me do it.  So on days where it looks pretty rough, he will gladly walk with me to the bathroom, let me wet it down, and then style the front a bit so it looks a little spiky.  We really need to use gel a little more often so it stays that way, but it looks good when he leaves the house.  He's always so proud of it when it looks good, which makes me smile.

5) If you recall, last year Jacob wanted to give me my own lacrosse stick for my birthday.  He wanted us to be able to play lacrosse together outside.  And admittedly, we did have fun throwing the ball around last fall, and at that time those were some of the few moments we got along at all.  Hopefully I'll get more use out of it this summer!

6) Ever since Jacob was a very little boy, sporting events have sort of been his happy place.  Even as an otherwise squirmy toddler, he would sit at games completely quiet and transfixed.  Though it might seem like a lot of work to take a toddler to a sporting event (and people were often surprised I did), in reality it was actually a lot less work to go to the game and have him sit there like an angel as compared to staying home and chasing him around the house.  Carter did not inherit that same skill, however, so games now get a little more challenging than I'd like.  But while Carter is squirming and snacking and asking to walk, Jacob and I still get in some pretty good, almost normal conversations during the games.  He's usually in a great mood after spending the day with Craig and with his ball boy buddies, and I often get the benefit of a happy kid who has a lot of stuff to tell me about his day.  It's such a nice change of pace.

7) Similarly, when we're in the car alone--mostly when I have to pick him up for a doctor's appointment, or the rare other case where I pick him up from school before his brother--we are able to have some great conversations.  They usually end once Carter is in the car, since Jacob's attention is immediately turned to picking on his brother in some form, but the quiet, pleasant conversation beforehand is so nice.  He might tell me about his day, or his next big idea, or we'll get on some conversation about some issue that I attempt to explain in detail to him.  I'm not sure many of those details sink in, but it's nice to attempt it without a million interruptions.

8) I mentioned in the point above about his big ideas.  I usually simultaneously smile and shake my head when Jacob's brain starts churning out big plans about one thing or another.  His passion is inspiring, albeit often misguided, but when he's really trying to sell me on something, it's amazing to see how serious and mature he can be.  It's unfortunate that I sometimes have to bring him down to earth--not because I want to squash his dreams, but because when he really gets going it would be setting him up for major disappointment and failure to let it continue and not gently redirect him.  For example, he got really passionate about a lacrosse-based version of Monopoly he was working on, and although he did wonderful with it, he had all of these big plans and payoffs from the Monopoly people in his head.  I couldn't really let that one go unchecked, you know? 

9) Another thing that goes hand-in-hand with this is his Minecraft.  If you recall, I let him start playing it last year right after his surgery since I knew he might be a little bored.  While he's not as into it as he once was, he has amazed me with his ideas and his engineering within the game.  And when he's bouncing ideas off me or showing me his masterpieces, I love seeing his excitement and pride. 

10) This week we started something new at night.  I try to spend a few minutes reading with Jacob before bed.  But unlike when he had a school reading log, it's not him reading--it's me!  I know Jacob reads at school, so I suppose it's probably one of the last things he wants to do at home in the evening.  But I still want to encourage him to like reading, and I think that if we can move up to a slightly higher reading level, he might be more interested in it.  And if I can take the "work" out of it and help him realize there's good reading material out there (in his own bookshelf, no less), I hope it will lead to more interest in reading.  But it's nice to get back to snuggling him (sort of) at bedtime and get some one-on-one time...and see him get a little excited about a book!

11) He is almost always wearing some sort of track pants and a t-shirt.  But lately he's going through a dress-up phase like he did was he was almost five and we bought him a shirt, tie, vest, and pants for Easter and his graduation.  Now he wants a suit.  I don't know what he thinks he's going to do with it, but he's been wanting it for a while.  He also usually jumps at the chance to put on the shirt and pants (All Under Armour) that he wears to church.  While I don't savor the idea of buying him dress clothes, I do appreciate the mature version of him that talks to me when we're discussing it.  He wants to be responsible and all grown up, and anything that brings out that side is a good thing.

12) While it doesn't happen often, Jacob does have moments where he seems like he's trying to be a good big brother.  I think his superiority complex plays into that, and when he can show that he's "older and wiser", he tries to do that.  He'll give Carter advice or try to show him how to do something.  Usually anything with physical contact doesn't turn out well, and the advice often falls on deaf ears.  But at least he tries.  And what cracks me up most is when he repeats verbatim some advice I bestowed on him previously.  For example, when he's refuting something we're trying to tell him, we'll remind him that we have 30+ years of life experience on him, so doesn't that probably mean we've had a lot more experiences than him, and might actually know more?  Well, the other day, merely hours after I said that to him yet again, he was telling that same thing to Carter when he didn't want to listen to me.  It made me laugh to hear him trying to say that when he does the same thing to me, but the good news is that he's apparently listening and maybe some of these things are starting to sink in!

We definitely don't get as many of these moments as I would like, but it's evident to me just by writing this list that we have come a long way in just a few months.  So many of these things weren't happening at all a year ago, and now we usually have at least one of these moments on a daily basis.  We still have a long way to go, but it's nice to know that we finally have something to build on.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Firsts and Lasts

Last week one of my favorite bloggers published a post that pondered how many "firsts" she had left.  Her daughter is a couple years younger than Jacob and her son is a couple months younger than Carter.  Her daughter had learned to ride a bike and she realized that the milestones for her daughter in particular had slowed down dramatically.  Clearly she still has many, many more to go, but there's no doubt that as your kids get older, the importance and frequency of the milestones decrease considerably.  I realized that probably around three and a half years ago when Carter was starting to hit milestones and I noticed that we hadn't had a real doozy for Jacob in a while.

Honestly, it's not true that kids don't have milestones as they get older, but when they're babies and can do seemingly nothing, every ability that's added to that seems significant.  But when they're older and can do more, each milestone is relatively small compared to their existing array of skills. In addition, a lot of those big kid milestones are a bit more gradual, like learning to read or even riding a bike, since the first part of the milestone is usually not as practically useful as the evolved version of it.  I mean, when they're a baby and take a few steps, that's significant on its own...but realistically, even that is much more exciting when they can actually walk distances.  But those first few steps seem huge because their world is still pretty small.  And yes, the first words read or the first few feet of unaided bike riding are great, but those don't take them very far in a big kid world.  The big kid milestones really come into their own as your kid gains true independence doing them.  It's much more exciting seeing them read a whole book or ride alone to a friend's house.  It's a double standard, I suppose, but it's true.

Now that Carter is at an age where the milestones have slowed, the reality of stopping at two kids really does start to set in.  The biggest milestones are done.  We'll never have another crawler or walker or solid-food starter.  We'll never await another first word.  Heck, we're even pretty much done moving up rooms at daycare.  He's now in the room where he'll be until Kindergarten starts, unless numbers force them to move him up the summer before.  And yes, he's still learning his letters and big numbers and still figuring out how they all relate to the world, but it's not the same as those baby milestones.  I'm no less proud, but it's a longer process and the overall impact just seems smaller.

It probably doesn't help that I have friends having babies all over the place.  A couple moms I know from church are due in a few months, and another few friends (including one who's older than me!) have recently had babies.  And yes, I do find myself a tiny bit jealous of their tiny baby snuggles and sweet photo ops.  Even seeing my Facebook memories over the last two weeks of Carter's early days has been emotional.  I still remember those quiet maternity leave moments, whether it was overnight nursing sessions with milk-drunk smirks or peaceful afternoons on the couch watching him nap.  The reality is that we do not have the energy, money, time, patience, or space for a third child.  And yet I'm almost positive that years down the road one of my biggest regrets will be stopping at two.  It's simply not possible right now for so many reasons, and it breaks my heart just a little bit every time I think about it.  I don't doubt that the long-run rewards would be great (assuming everything went smoothly), but the short term effects seem too risky to attempt.  From my health to the baby's health to Jacob's obvious issues with siblinghood, the odds of problems seem high.  And once you add in practical things like another round of daycare, diapers, and expensive formula, or a car that won't fit three seats across, or a house that's crowded enough, none of it makes sense...aside from my heart wanting to be all in. Part of me wishes we could do it all over again and make the timing work, but deep down I'm guessing when push comes to shove, we probably wouldn't want to change much.  I don't think I would have wanted to start earlier (at least not by much) or squeeze them closer (aside from the extra year of fertility issues)...so perhaps this was just destined to be how we ended up.

One of these days I will pick up Carter in my arms or hold his hand for the last time, or get what turns out to be my final bedtime snuggle.  When it happens, I probably won't even know it.  We've already passed so many of those "lasts" with Jacob and it makes me sad.  Of course, we probably had an accelerated timeline because of how things went down around Carter's birth. I feel like a lot of things probably stopped in their tracks right around then.  And while I feel like I've done everything to savor these moments with Carter, I can't help but wish I had one more chance. But I also know we're in a new phase of life and that is okay, too.  Jacob's issues aside, I think we'd be in a pretty good place at this point, with one mostly independent kid and another that's well on his way.  In theory we have more freedom now that we don't have a baby to care for.  But Jacob's issues definitely complicate everything, and I think that's part of what makes me wish for more.  Maybe it's just having another chance to make up for what I messed up, or maybe it's wanting to have a distraction from the day-to-day stress, or wishing that another baby would reset things somehow--no matter how ridiculous that probably is.  I think when you have an undeniably tough situation in your life, you imagine every way possible to alter it.  And while this is definitely not the most logical way, for some reason it keeps cropping up in my mind. 

I'm so thankful for all of the firsts, and while I dread most of the lasts, I know they're a step forward to new opportunities and new phases in our lives.  I should embrace that, but sometimes it's okay to be just a little sad for what will never be.  Whether it's kid #3 or a peaceful household, some things just aren't in the cards...no matter how many times you shuffle the deck.