Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Quality Time with Carter

This weekend I ended up having a lot of time alone with Carter.  Jacob had travel lacrosse tryouts on Saturday, and then the big boys opted to not join us for my family reunion on Sunday, so it just turned out that we were on our own...and it was lovely.  It was probably extra good timing as Jacob and I have not been seeing eye-to-eye lately, culminating in an extra tough Saturday morning.  After he and I battled for a while, I could not wait to get out of the house and off on a run.  I saw this right before I started:
Monarch!

I think the adrenaline was pumping, though, because I ran a pretty fast first couple miles and then immediately ran out of gas, to the point I had to stop and walk for most of the last mile or so to ensure I didn't pass out.  That set me up to be a little off for the rest of the day, but Carter and I still had fun.

Our first stop after lunch was to take back the wall decoration I bought on a whim at Goodwill last week.  I've been trying forever to find something to put over our bed, as our bedroom is really lacking in the decor.  When I went to Goodwill last week to look for a khaki skirt (apparently they are out of style, but seriously--it's such a basic piece!), I saw this gold metal oblong chain link wall hanging, still in the packaging from Kohl's.  It was marked $30 but on their color tag half off sale for the week, and I just couldn't pass it up.  I liked it, but I know Craig wasn't convinced either way, and in the end I figured I'd take it back and leave myself the flexibility to do something that felt more "us".  I only got store credit back (ugh), but it's fine.  In the same plaza I went to the Christian bookstore to use a great one-day coupon to buy a CD by one of my favorite artists, Nichole Nordeman.  She's the one that did that awesome "Slow Down" song that went viral last year, the one about kids growing up too fast.  I was thrilled to get her new album, and so cheaply!

Carter was very patient throughout, and our next stop was the library.  We hadn't been there in a while and we were due, so we picked up some books and then headed across the town hall parking lot to the new playground they just put in this spring.  The old one wasn't bad--I actually liked it a lot--but they decided to do something that was ADA-compliant and totally new.  The new space is cool--rubberized surface and artificial turf with a canyon theme.  Instead of the traditional equipment, there are lots of things to climb on and through--rocks, bears, a canoe, a few ropes, etc. 

There are a couple double slides--one bigger, one smaller--and one bank of swings, but other than that, it's all of the woodsy stuff.  It's definitely better for creative play (although I know we found many ways to be creative on old equipment), but I do miss some of the more adventurous pieces of traditional equipment.  I also heard from a friend that his girls weren't that impressed, which I can see happening if they're girly.  But it was cool and Carter loved running around and climbing and hiding in the rock structures. 

Spider web climb

Rocks!

Big slide

BIG bear!

Fish!

We even had a chance to go on a cool swing that is a bit like what we called a teeter-totter on our old swing set as a kid, but that I could ride on with Carter.  It was a large molded plastic swing, with one side shaped like a baby swing, with a sunken seat and two leg holes.  The other side was a t-shaped seat for an adult, so I could ride with him!  We had a blast on that!


 
While we were there, we also got to eye up the spray park next to it.  Now that Carter is getting more used to the water, I think that could be in our future.  It still may not be his thing, but it might be worth trying.  We just hadn't even considered it until now because even getting wet at his water table used to bug him.  His new pool alligator has helped that immensely, and then he learned to use a kickboard in the pool, and now judging by our time at the beach Sunday, I think he's getting over his water phobia nicely!  We'll see!

After the playground we did a quick pitstop at Tim Hortons and took advantage of their happy hour to enjoy some cool drinks and donuts before finishing up with a trip to Wegmans.  Then we were back home to check in with the boys.  Jacob seemed to do well at tryouts, but it's still nervewracking until you hear for sure if he's in.  I mean, for any other kid I'd say, "You win some, you lose some," but for Jacob I know that not making it would be devastating.  He really identifies with this team, and I LOVE their character/faith stuff so much that it would kill me to see him not make it this year.  I know that odds are he will, as his coach saw so much growth from him this year and he did contribute quite a bit.  They also lost a few kids at his position as the year-younger kids get their own team this year, but a couple others did come in from outside and looked good.  But in theory the numbers should be in his favor, and I think the fact that we were supportive parents and that it's clear he's passionate about it should be enough to finish things off.  But you just never know when numbers will be an issue, and until you get the call, it's scary.  And like I said, it would kill him not to make it.  He's already planning out his pro career, for pete's sake, so this would be a bit of a letdown on that path.  Only a couple other travel teams still have tryouts to come, and Craig's not convinced he'd be a shoo-in for those, either.  The fear is that if he doesn't make it, how will he up his game in the next year to ensure he is strong enough to do it then?  I mean, his best teacher is competitive play, and without that high level like he had this year, what would do it?  So we're nervously waiting for that news, but hopeful we have a fun year ahead.

Other than that, I spent a good chunk of Saturday just trying to get life in order.  My house is a bit of a mess, but part of that is knowing that Jacob's birthday party is a few weeks away and I don't want to do a deep cleaning now only to do it again in a couple weeks.  So in the meantime it's just trying to maintain order and spot clean when needed.  I did a lot of going through piles earlier in the weekend, and then Saturday night, in addition to preparing for my reunion Sunday (beach packing, food prep), I managed to sort through all of Jacob's end-of-school stuff (finally--all that lacrosse travel got me off track) and photograph the giant pile of both kids' artwork, as is my custom.  As you may recall, I started photographing things a few years back so I could throw things away without guilt.  Group them up, snap a photo, keep the sentimental stuff or what I want for my changeable frames, then toss everything else.  Jacob's stuff was mostly from Mother's Day, Father's Day, and his school art folder.  I also kept a handful of his best writing from the year, including his book, "Rich" that he was SO excited about at the end of the year.  He loved writing on the computer, and for a while it was all he could talk about.  That will all go in his memory box.  When it came to Carter's stuff, I had a giant pile.  But I didn't realize until I got to the bottom that it had been building up since February!  There was Valentine's stuff there, so clearly I had been neglecting that more than usual.  Oops.  But, the good news is that I got through all of it within an hour or two, and now my dining room and living room have considerably fewer piles!  I also managed to catch up on newspapers and all that over the last week, so I am finally feeling less like a hoarder in my own house.  Slowly but surely!

Ironically, the one thing I didn't do this weekend was open up my brand new computer.  My laptop has been on fritz for a while.  A few years back the screen went a little funky.  It was mostly fine but some of the true black started showing up as red.  I could sometimes get it back to normal or close to it by changing the screen angle or pressing in certain spots, but eventually the issues became a bit more permanent.  Then about a number of months back the whole thing became permanently tinted pink.  Not helpful for looking at pictures, if nothing else.  Add in that the touchpad buttons were funky for a while (though fixed themselves at somepoint) and that it's a tiny netbook and the small screen isn't always helpful for certain tasks, I knew I needed to be on the hunt.  Then last week I happened to see the Office Max/Office Depot ad had one of the ones I'd had my eye on for months far cheaper than I'd ever seen it.  Then I was back and forth about which processor speed to get, then I wondered if it was too big, or did I really need it, or...or...or...but eventually decided it was a good enough deal to get it online (with a cashback site) and pick it up at the store Friday afternoon.  But with everything else I wanted to do this weekend, the last thing I needed to do was get sucked into hours of transferring files or getting it set up just right.  So it's still sitting in the box three days later.  Funny how that works sometimes.  I do need to get on it, though, as I have an Amazon order to place very soon and if I find out I need some sort of additional cable or something to properly transfer files, I'd like to include it on that (us poor non-Prime people must plan accordingly!).

Sunday was my annual family reunion at the beach.  We didn't go last year, and there's a chance it won't be at this spot much longer, so this year I really wanted to go.  Carter has also been wanting to go to the beach, and with our beaches in shambles this year because of Lake Ontario flooding, this was really our best bet.  However, Jacob is not into the beach right now, and between his food issues and incompatibility with Carter, I just didn't feel like fighting anymore battles so Craig and Jacob stayed behind.  They played a lot of baseball in preparation for Jacob's re-entry into the Little League world this week for the "fall ball" season.  I think that keeping the kids separate for a couple days was probably better for everyone anyway.  A lot less yelling for us, at the very least.  But Carter and I had to be up and out early as I wanted to make it to the site by 10am for their outdoor church service.  The weather was supposed to be perfect, and I figured that the outside service might be just distracting enough to keep Carter content.  And it was wonderful.  Perfect breeze, gorgeous views of the lake, some old-school favorite song choices, and a very well-behaved little boy. 
View during church

The lake was also in view during church...plus this handsome kid!

We breezed through church and then wandered the camp a bit so I could show Carter where I stayed when I went there for a week at 13, and again for a few weekends in college. 
Schroter Circle - the cabins I always stayed in

We stopped at a playground for a while before heading back to the car to grab our stuff...

I couldn't resist a picture of these hydrangeas, with Carter for scale!


We met up with some family in the shelter then ran into my parents, and Carter ran off with my mom pretty quickly after that to go back to the playground.  It was good to see family, and after a delicious lunch and a bit of a lengthy meeting discussing the future location of the reunion (long story, but there are some issues with keeping it there, despite a more than 50 year history), we finally headed down to the beach!  For not liking the water for most of his life, Carter has been a pretty big fan of the beach.  He had a blast last year when I took him to the beach, and even before that when we stopped at one in Erie he seemed to enjoy himself.  He just loves digging and pouring and imagining!  We settled in on a spot next to some family, and while everyone else just sort of lounged, I was back and forth to the shore getting him bucketfuls of water.  We made castles with the buckets, and Carter buried things, destroyed things, and experimented with his "potions".  He was completely content, and I was having fun, too! 
Complete with sailboat in the background

Lounging

With Grandma!

A fun mess!

Eventually I convinced him to walk down to the water with me, and we let the waves hit our feet and legs for a bit.  I was keeping an eye out for beach glass, which I used to collect in pocketfuls on this beach.  Of course now it's a "thing" and every craft show has a half dozen artists that specialize in beach glass, so it's much harder to find.  It's nowhere to be found on the beach itself, and I discovered it took a keen eye as the waves rolled in and refreshed the rocky strip on the shore, one that is generally always covered with water.  I found one large white piece literally floating as the waves came in and snagged it, and then managed to find a few other tiny pieces during subsequent trips back down to the water.  The water temperature was perfect for letting the waves splash my legs, and Carter had fun filling up his bucket and rinsing the sand back out.  We played and went back and forth for a few hours, long after the rest of the family had headed back up to the shelter. 

Unfortunately, I hadn't done a very good job with my sunscreen and my skin currently bears the hot pink result (one thigh and two strips down my back and shoulders), but it was worth it for such a fun time with Carter.  It took a little convincing to get him out of there, but overall he was amazing.  Before we left I also gathered up about 18 large flat gray rocks to take home with us to hopefully fix up our flower bed a bit.  We need some sort of edging, and what's better than free?  I put some in our beach bag and some in our blanket and hauled them back up to our wagon.  Fingers crossed they work like I want them to!

After a few more snacks from the dessert table and some cleaning up, we headed back to the car and Carter was asleep within a few minutes, and didn't wake up until we were home.  Fortunately, the drive was surprisingly easy.  I mean, I had the familiar feeling that only a trip back from that reunion brings--dry, tight skin yet still greasy from sunscreen; the familiar itch of the seatbelt on sunburn; feeling a little too full of sweets; generally wiped out but happy--and there's an odd contentment in that nowadays.  But despite the early morning and long day, I was wide awake and quite content as I drove, which almost never happens at that time of day!  I was also in a really good mood on Monday morning, and I decided that it must be that a weekend as well spent as that--quality time with my sweet boy and some life organization, too--must be the ticket to a good start to the week!  Unfortunately I've still been struggling with holdout symptoms from the prednisone this week, so it's been a bit of a rough one.  I finally did dig into my new computer, but haven't figured out a good way to transfer everything over.  Still no word on Jacob's lacrosse tryouts, either.  So as a whole it hasn't been the best week, but thankfully we're now on the downside.  C'mon weekend...

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