Sunday, August 30, 2009
After that day off the week flew by, and before we knew it, it was the weekend. We didn't do anything particularly exciting this weekend...just a nice weekend at home. I did get to go to the mall for the first time in ages, and also got to take a three-hour nap in the afternoon on Saturday (as did Jacob). Last night Lori came over to watch Jacob for a little while so Craig and I could go out for my birthday dinner, and we came home bearing a little ice cream cake and mini-cupcakes from Wegmans (I couldn't decide!) and the four of us had a little treat!
We also managed to finally get Jacob's swing (a birthday gift) up in the tree in our yard. After much debate on the best way to hang it, I think we have it all figured out. And Jacob loves it! It's nice to have another outdoor activity for him other than his wagon. He's addicted to the outdoors and he loves wagon rides but lately they've been putting him to sleep after half a block! The swing might eventually have the same effect, but for now he's still enjoying it. I guess we'll just blame that great outdoor air!
But yeah, today is actually my birthday. The big 3-1. Definitely less exciting than last year, when Jacob got baptized on my 30th birthday. That was one big milestone day for both of us! Not to mention that Jacob had just started sleeping through the night at that point, so life was good! A year later he's turning into more of a little boy each day. He's still stubborn about standing (let alone walking) and gives his poor mother fits at mealtime, but he's such an amazing little boy. The smiles, laughs, hugs and "kisses" soften the blow of the more frustrating moments. Sometimes I wonder what my rush is, hoping he'll walk and talk soon. My little baby has grown up so quickly that I really shouldn't be wishing time away, but it's so exciting when Jacob figures out something new. I really look forward to him talking more because it's so neat to be able to communicate with him. Every once in a while we'll have a cool little moment when he can use signs or some other means and we know exactly what he's getting at, and it's awesome. And I just can't wait to have more of that, to experience those connections more frequently and gain more insight into that little mind of his. We've come a long way in a year and I can hardly imagine what another year will bring!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
So yeah, I know this is a random post that may include an admission of possible insanity, but I just wanted to share for lack of anything better to write about...
Monday, August 24, 2009
At our church there is a nursery where we could send Jacob during the service. As far as I know it's a toy-filled room manned by responsible adults. They have a pager system in case of any problems. We've never taken advantage of it. Up until a couple months ago, we never really needed to. While churchgoing has never been particularly low-stress, Jacob was generally content enough that we could still listen to the service while we fed him Cheerios, rocked him to sleep, or passed him back and forth amidst his squirming. But these days it's almost impossible to pay attention to anything because we're constantly chasing him around the room or trying to keep him quietly occupied. Nothing holds his attention very long. And even if I'm not the chaser of the moment, it's hard to not be preoccupied what he's doing. It makes for a terribly distracted hour. Lately I've been walking out of church feeling like I didn't hear more than a sentence or two of anything that went on. So, if I can't pay attention enough to get anything out of church, it almost makes me wonder why I'm there. If I'm not getting anything out of it and it's adding to my weekly stress level, what's the point?
Of course, I do know why I'm there, or at least in theory why we should be there. It's a scary slippery slope and ultimately I know better than to let myself start down it. Here's how it goes...We're not getting anything out of it so we stop going, figuring we'll start up again once Jacob's old enough. Of course, by then we'll have another baby so it would start all over again. We'd wait longer and by the time we'd finally get to a good place to go back, we'd either be so out of the habit that we wouldn't want to get up on Sundays or the kids would be so unaccustomed to sitting still for an hour that they'd still be too much of a handful and we'd give up altogether. I can only imagine the ramifications of no weekly church exposure. God forbid that ever, ever happens. As a girl who went to church and Sunday School every single Sunday that I was physically able to do it, I know better. And as much as I may not have enjoyed it a lot of the time, now I can see that it was important in many ways, from the discipline to the teaching to the friendships. It built a decent foundation, even if some of the details didn't work out quite as planned. All those years of church and Sunday School, and yet I still credit college for introducing me to what a real relationship with God is all about, but that's another issue. But anyway, it was still an important part of my childhood. And now we go to a church that's got a great program full of eager youth, so I think whatever they've got will be great for Jacob down the road. But in the meantime...
I'm not sure what to do. Right now Jacob probably isn't capable of sitting quietly for any significant period of time, so it's unfair to try to hold him anywhere near that standard. Perhaps he should go to the nursery, for his sake and ours. However, I'm afraid that if we start sending him there, he'll get used to playing and running around (more than he already does), and may not be able to sit still and be quiet when we finally want him to sit in church with us. I'm also afraid of alternating, because I don't want him cranky on weeks when he can't go play. I simply don't want him associating going to church with playing, because it could be a tough battle when he can't do that anymore. I guess we could always go back to the worship training center at that point, just in case, and finally ease back into the main room once we know he's able to sit still for an hour--even if he needs to color or something to keep quiet. Still, it all scares me a little. But I'm equally scared by the concept of not being able to pay attention in church for years to come. It just serves to make church more and more irrelevant and even a bit of a nuisance--i.e., "Ugh, we have to go there and do battle with Jacob yet again...", all without the spiritual benefit because we can't even focus on what's being said. It's a tough call, though I suppose we may have to give it a try. Anyone out there have any advice?
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Well, Saturday morning brought milestone #1. Jacob has made a few attempts at climbing up on our ottoman. He's a pretty good climber when it comes to stairs, and he's been doing really well with pulling up and cruising along furniture for a while, so I figured the climbing was just a matter of time. Our ottoman has a bit of a crater in it because the padding somehow collapsed into it, and apparently that gave Jacob the inch or two that he needed. He managed to climb up the ottoman, by himself, in part because the crater made his entry point just a little lower. He's got to be careful that he doesn't slide back down via the crater, but since he did it Saturday morning, he's been getting up there pretty easily. It's sort of fun (though an added level of stress, as well) because he can now use that to crawl up on the couch. He likes playing with the moose that reside on the top of the couch, and once in a while will even snuggle up with me when I'm sitting there. Here he is later in the day on Saturday, posing with the freebie football we got at Bills camp. He loves that thing and is becoming quite the pro at throwing it!
On Saturday I also started hearing what sounded more and more like "Mama". Sometimes he'd say the syllables over and over again, often in a bit of frustration, but at least it appeared he was learning the M sound a bit. By the end of the day Saturday he was definitely saying it, and today he was repeating it a lot, and even directing it at me! So, I guess we can finally check that one off the list!
Saturday afternoon my parents came up and we visited again with our friends Laurie and Colin, and Laurie's parents who live in Victor, across town. This time Laurie's husband Kevin and their dog Marley came, too! It was nice to meet both of them. Laurie and I have gone through the pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood thing together (albeit a couple months apart), mostly via email, and it's always been nice to swap stories and visit from time to time. It's been fun this summer since she has made quite a few trips up to Rochester from the Philly area and we've been able to visit each time. This time the boys seemed to at least acknowledge one another's presence, though interactive play is still a tough one. It seems to improve every time, though! This time we tried to get them to play catch, which only lasted so long. Here's a shot of Jacob reacting to one throw...
They were really cute, though, each on their own. Colin's a couple months younger than Jacob but he outweighs him by a couple pounds and has eight teeth fully in! Jacob has three coming in now to get his total to seven. They seem to be pretty close in a lot of ways. They're both getting into everything and have only had marginal success in the standing realm. As I think I've mentioned, we've got Jacob to stand on his own for a few moments here and there by catching him off-guard and keeping his hands full, but for the most part the moments have been few and far between. Colin is much the same. His first birthday is coming up this week! After he opened the presents we brought, Jacob enjoyed playing with the tissue paper...
Later in the visit we headed outside to appease Marley, who was outside barking. He knew we were all inside, and apparently it was leaving him a little lonely! He's a big dog (though amazingly patient and gentle considering his size!) and I think Laurie and Kevin were hesitant to let him in with Jacob around. Of course, Jacob loves dogs and has no fear of them (yikes!) so we weren't that worried. The good news is that Marley's used to a little friendly abuse from Colin, so anything Jacob would do would probably be par for the course. Jacob was dying to get outside himself, whether it was because he could see Marley or because he was intrigued by what he saw out the window...tons of grass, plants, a little pond...definitely new territory! Once we were out there he had a lot of fun getting into everything. He crawled into dead pine needles under the pine tree (a little sap, but not too bad), pulled clumps of grass, tried to pull out flowers and plants, dipped his toes in the pond, and chased down balls. He did not want to stay up with the toys on the deck for anything! He did enjoy petting Marley and getting some wet kisses, though Marley rarely stayed still long enough for a good petting. Jacob loved every second, though! He also liked riding around and pushing this little dump truck...
So anyway, as we were hanging out, he was up on all fours in the grass, as usual. All of a sudden, he lifted his hands up and very slowly raised himself up to standing! I couldn't believe it! All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he stood up on his own and just kept standing! He stood for a good 10 seconds at least, long enough for my parents to snap a couple pictures! It was a big moment!
Ever since, he's been exploring the world of standing quite a bit. He stood up again this morning when we were in bed with him, and again during church. He stayed on his feet for a good three minutes tonight while Craig was playing with him, and in general he's staying on his feet without support a lot longer. Seems like it's only a matter of time before he starts moving his feet! It's all very exciting but it's also a little scary since it means that he'll be getting into a lot more in the weeks to come! I'm sure the folks at day care will be very excited when we get back there on Wednesday. Yes, Wednesday. They're closed Monday and Tuesday for their annual cleaning and teacher prep, so Craig's taking off tomorrow and I'm taking off Tuesday. Craig is still figuring out what their day will entail, but Tuesday we'll be meeting up with my college roommate Mary, probably with considerable time spent in Geneseo. It should be a lot of fun!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
When it comes to TV in general, when we're home at night or on weekends the TV is generally tuned to what we want to watch. Why? Well, for one, Jacob doesn't have the attention span to sit and watch TV for long, so why leave it on a kid show when there's something else we'd rather be watching? And second, do I really want to encourage him to watch TV by putting on something he'd really like? The experts recommend against any TV until kids hit age 2. We're already going against the recommendations merely by having it on in the background (they say that the background noise, etc., makes kids less able to focus for long periods of time), but I'm still torn. Is it better to have something educational and kid-friendly on TV in the event Jacob does stop and watch it, or should we just leave it as is and hope he keeps ignoring it? When I used to have to put Jacob in the pack-n-play while I was getting ready in the morning, I used to leave the TV on Blue's Clues, my favorite kid show. While he wasn't watching it specifically, I figured that if he got bored with his toys and stood up to yell for us, maybe it would grab his attention and buy us a few more minutes. Maybe he'd like the songs or even learn something. It was hard to tell if he really ever paid attention, though. He's been sleeping later lately, so it hasn't been an issue for a while.
More recently, though, he's been watching a lot of baseball with Craig. It seems harmless enough. He never stares at it for more than 10 seconds or so at a time. I read somewhere once that babies don't have the ability to distinguish between reality and what they see on TV...so in their minds, if there's a monster on TV, that monster could come through the TV and into the living room. I told Craig that and he definitely cut down a bit on watching some of his movies while Jacob was around. Things like Star Wars and Indiana Jones seem harmless enough, particularly before Jacob's really able to take it all in, but when you look at it from a baby's perspective and ponder what he thinks when he sees explosions and things like that, it definitely makes you think twice.
But back to the branding issue...since he doesn't watch a lot of kid-themed TV, is he destined to be uninterested in characters? You only learn about stuff like that from TV, movies and toys (and perhaps books as well). He's got some Sesame Street books and a cool Cookie Monster puppet, and I'm sure at some point we'll get into movies as well. While I don't necessarily relish the thought of his wardrobe consisting of character-themed attire or having the house overrun with action figures, I also know that stuff like that can mold his identity a little bit. You know...He's a fan of _______. We'll know better what kind of gifts he might like, or what show to DVR for him when we need something on hand to keep him occupied. He'll be able to discuss it with his friends. And yes, I know that he can get into plenty of things that don't involve characters (ummm, baseball, perhaps?), but I wonder if it's still something we should encourage at some point to make sure he's a "normal" kid. I still don't want to leave him in front of the TV like a little zombie, but I'm sure those moments will come at some point no matter what. Heck, I watched a lot of TV as a kid. I usually played while I did it, though, and I think a lot of what I watched was at least partly educational (even game shows, to some degree). I turned out ok, but I can't vouch for the educational value of today's TV. I'm sure a lot of the kids stuff is great, but should I be worried that there are so many kids channels out there now that there's always something on? At least I resorted to other things when I eventually got bored. Hmmm.
It's interesting food for thought.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Our first bit of fun actually took place on Wednesday. We took Lori (my cousin and Jacob's godmother) out to dinner for a belated birthday celebration and a pre-operation food fest. She got her tonsils out this past Friday, so Wednesday's dinner was a bit of a last hurrah before she was relegated to a liquid diet. We went to Olive Garden for dinner. Jacob did okay but got a little fussy after a while. Still, we had a good time. Instead of getting dessert there, we opted to head to Oriens Cafe, a little place around the corner from us that serves the best gelato. I haven't had a lot of gelato, but people who have swear by it. The father of a friend of ours owns it, and we've been there a handful of times since it opened last year. It's a perfect walking distance for us. When we got there, our friend's father was behind the counter and took a liking to Jacob (before he even knew who we were). He whipped up a baby cone of gelato for Jacob...literally. The cone itself was only about two inches tall and about an inch in diameter. He put a perfect little ball of raspberry gelato on top. Jacob LOVED it. Here's the proof:
It was so cute!
Friday night we stuck close to home (ahhhh), and Saturday we headed out to Aunt Lynne and Uncle Cliff's, where Lori was staying post-op. Jacob's job was to cheer her up, and I think he did a pretty good job. He was pretty good the whole time we were there. And in case you ever doubted his love of wagon rides, check this out:
Yes, he's trying to get into a tiny little doll wagon. It was really funny! He's still loving the wagon rides, though now that we're back to work, I think we're taking wagon rides too late. Jacob's fallen asleep mid-ride two nights in a row. It makes for a long walk back when we have to carry him!
Sunday we finally got to go to the beach. It was a hot day but we figured we could survive a couple hours at most. So we packed up, grabbed lunch by the lake, and headed down to the sand. The beach here in Rochester isn't too bad. I mean, I wouldn't put anything more than Jacob's feet in the water, and I cringed for more reasons than one when he tried to eat sand, but if you're just hanging out on the sand, it's not half bad. We finally got to use Jacob's sand toys, and he really had a lot of fun. We used sand molds, filled up a bucket with sand, and dug holes. He really got into it. He liked squishing sand (and throwing it--ugh), and wasn't daunted by the broiling hot sand...he crawled right across it about 12 feet away from us...twice! When we took him down to the water to let it run over his feet, he seemed to enjoy it. He didn't really smile much, but he stood there watching it, squishing his toes in the wet sand. He was covered in sand from head to toe, and unfortunately, even going in the water wouldn't have cleaned him off...it was just as sandy! Still, it was fun to watch him explore and take it all in. I wish I had better pictures of him, but once I was sandy, I was afraid to touch the camera! After we finished up on the beach, we stopped to get some ice cream. Jacob did great helping me with my strawberry cone. It was sooo good! He started to get sleepy on the walk to the car, and was asleep before we even buckled him in. He even fell asleep an hour earlier than usual, so you know the beach wiped him out good!
In other news, he's got three teeth coming in! We knew the next two teeth on top were coming. They seemed to be just inside the gums for so long, and they finally have broken through. But out of nowhere he's also got one on the bottom! It seems to be coming in a tad crooked with a big space, but I'm thinking it might right itself a bit as it comes in. We've had this feeling for a while that he'd suddenly get a bunch out of nowhere, so the next few weeks could get interesting.
No news in the walking/standing department, though he is doing his "grass crawl" more often now on all surfaces, which is just bent-over walking. He stands up effortlessly most of the time and seems to need less support when we help him walk, but the balance still isn't quite there. He doesn't stand up on his own yet, but once in a while we can trick him into standing solo for a couple seconds. Like the teeth, there's been some slow progress for a while, but I think all of a sudden it's just going to happen.
No new words lately, but he does seem to be adding more babbling sounds that sound closer to conversation, if that makes any sense. They're not real words, but sound as if they could be. He's still pretty ball-focused. Lately he's been crawling into the dining room and saying "ball" while pointing at our wine rack, and yesterday I finally figured out why. He calls his little baseball bat a "ball", and I think he thinks the wine bottles are bats, too! So cute!
He's also been loving full-body peek-a-boo lately. He'll grab a blanket and cover himself up, and we'll do the whole, "Where's Jacob?" thing. He's really good with the comic timing of hiding and showing himself. He giggles hysterically, and also loves when I do the same thing back to him. One of these days I'll have to get it on tape.
He's still a handful, leaving a path of disaster in his wake, and he's still not eating great (though we've had some good meals lately, too), but as a whole he's really developing into quite the little boy these days. It's small steps, but I can definitely see them take shape. I say it often, but probably not enough...we're truly blessed to have such a sweet little boy!
Monday, August 17, 2009
But for now, a year-plus in, Jacob is sleeping. I'll probably jinx it with this post, but he's been sleeping well for a month or two after a horrendous few months. I was so happy when Jacob started sleeping through the night at 10 weeks, and hoped we were through the worst. And I guess for the most part we were because no matter how many times he'd wake up after that, it was rare that a full feeding (meaning, an hour of awake time) was part of it. Still, after a few great months of sleeping, it went back to erratic. Up multiple times, screaming for no apparent reason, you name it. It was horrible, and feedings or not, it was nearly as bad as when he was a newborn. There were times now and then that he would sleep through, but for a while, it was rare. Then it got a little more frequent, and now he does it pretty much every night. The last couple nights he's woken up for a couple minutes about an hour after going down, but at least we're still up so it's an easy fix. I can't complain about that one bit. But as a whole, it's been great not having to wake up in the middle of the night...and pretty much every morning my first thought is, "Thank you, God. He slept again!"
Still, Craig and I are both tired. And you know what, it's not even Jacob's fault. We definitely don't go to bed early enough. Between doing things I have to do (dishes, grocery shopping) and things I like to do (watch TV, read the paper, hop online), there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the evening for me to get it all in. So, inevitably, no matter what time I aim to go to bed, I'm always climbing into bed around 11:45. My alarm goes off at 6am. Ugh. It's not enough sleep, and I can tell when my eyes start closing in the middle of the day as I stare at my computer. Vacation was great because we could sleep in until Jacob woke up, which is usually somewhere between 7:30 and 8. Weekends are fantastic like that too. I got to the point a while back where I gave up on the idea of ever sleeping in again. Weekends were no different than a work day. But then Jacob started sleeping later and 8am sounds a heck of a lot better than 6am. So whereas weekends were great solely because I got to spend time with Jacob (and Craig, too, of course), now I get the added bonus of once again sleeping in. It's huge, and I look forward to it all week. But still, it's obviously not enough because it's Monday and I'm already sleepy. Hopefully one of these days I will get control of myself and just force myself to bed at 11, if not earlier.
I will say, though, that I'm nearly at my most content when Jacob is asleep. That sounds terrible, because I should be happiest when he's awake and with us. And truly, if he's awake and happy, then I am happy. He can be pretty darn entertaining lately! But for some reason there is something wonderful about knowing that he's sleeping peacefully, and that I can still get a little taste of life before him...being able to hop on the computer for as long as I want, watch a TV show uninterrupted, or just spend time with Craig without having to worry about which one of us is going to keep track of Jacob's every move. Selfish, maybe...but when so much of your existence is taken over by a baby and work, it's nice to have a little "me" time. And having "me" time without it leaving Jacob out of the mix is even better. When he's sleeping he's comfortable, he's content, and he's building up to a better tomorrow. And seriously, he is one of the cutest sleepers ever :)
I know I'm not alone in this based on the articles I read and Facebook statuses I see from primarily stay-at-home moms whose daily sanity level is directly related to the length of their child's nap. So I guess no matter how wonderful the child, no matter how delightful their awake time, it's always nice when parents have a chance to do their own thing. It's just unfortunate in my case that I ever wish for his bedtime since I only get to see him for 3-4 hours a day as it is. Sad, isn't it? Maybe someday...but for now I will just wish for good sleep for all of us so the time we have while awake is the best quality it can be.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
The nice part of the week off was just being able to spend time with Jacob. Not all of it may have been the best quality time, and there were many times he was downright frustrating, but still...it was a blessing to have the opportunity to spend that much time with him because it's so rare. Weekends are just too short. Still, it re-emphasized that I'm probably not cut out to be a full time stay at home mom...but oh, wouldn't part time be awesome? We could get in playgroups and find fun things to do, get him into some sort of educational routine, etc. I'm sure there are many things we're not doing enough of at home to start getting him into colors, animals, letters and numbers. I know he's just one but it never hurts to start. We definitely should be reading more and things like that, but I know he doesn't sit well for that stuff so rather than fight him I'd rather he enjoy what limited time we do have together. I hope to delve more into this in future posts, but the point is that if we had more time together during the week, I think I'd work a heck of a lot harder at finding creative ways to intentionally teach him things.
As I mentioned, at times he was a handful. I don't know if he's just trying to assert his independence, or if his teeth were bothering him, or if we just don't bring out the best in him, but he really had his moments. He was out of his routine, and maybe that was tough for him. We obviously love him, but each of us had moments where we literally had to hand him off and walk away for a bit.
Knowing what we know now, I'm pretty grateful we didn't do a full vacation. My original vacation wish would have involved seven hours in the car. That would have been disasterous at this point. Jacob just isn't at the point where that's a good idea. He's too old to sleep the whole time and too young to be kept busy with activities. I look forward to a time when he can color, play games, watch movies all the way through, and find ways to keep himself occupied on long trips. It was hard enough packing for weekends, let alone for a week or part of a week. For example, he's somewhere between being able to eat adult food anywhere we go and still eating meals I put together for him. My meals are balanced but considerably less exciting than most places out there. I try to include vegetables and fruit as much as I can, even if he won't eat many veggies. Even when we eat out these days I try to bring extra stuff to up the health quotient. But even still, we had to bring a whole assortment of foods and a carton of whole milk, just in case we hit all worst case scenarios. Doing that for two weekends was a lot of work, but I had a break in the middle to just be normal. In addition, Jacob takes a lot of stuff. He did as a baby and still does. Before it was the humidifer and boppy pillow...and now it's the cooler of food and an assortment of toys. The car was full each weekend, so I can only imagine what it would have looked like for a week. More food and more clothes at the very least. It's scary to think about. I know how tired I was when we got back from Pittsburgh. I can only imagine how a week at the beach with all of this baggage would have been. And if Jacob would have been that miserable, it would have made for a tough week of sightseeing.
Still, it would have been nice to escape a bit more, venture out into the world, and get a few more awesome pictures of new and different things. We definitely want to show Jacob the world, but we also know that the longer we wait, the more he'll "get it". On the other hand, I know that any vacation wouldn't have just been for him...we need to get away too, regardless of his response to it.
Early in the summer when we were pondering our vacation options, I wondered how Jacob would be by this point in the summer. He'd be over 13 months old...would he be walking? Talking? Would he be more interactive and have an understanding of what he was seeing? Would he be eating normal foods by then? I hoped all of the answers would be yes, but at this point, they're merely creeping toward that. He's not walking, he's barely talking, and sometimes I'm just not sure he fully comprehends too much. He's getting better with the eating, but like everything else it's a major work in progress. And really, I suppose most of it will be for a long time. I know he's changed a lot just since the beginning of summer. It's amazing what two months can bring. But I hoped that overall we'd be a little more functional by the time vacation hit. We weren't...we tried, but still...in the end I was grateful we didn't spend more money and more car time for a real vacation, no matter how much more we may have enjoyed it. There would have been a rough side to that as well, and at this point I was content to stay close to home and explore that reality for a bit since it's something we rarely get to do.
This weekend is our first weekend at home in a month. It's been nice to not be in the car or on the road or living out of a suitcase. Being at home (both on our vacation and on weekends) gives us a chance to rediscover some of Jacob's home tendencies. When we were traveling during all of our freetime, it was tough to know what was "normal" for Jacob...because our time with him was inherently abnormal. We were staying somewhere else and operating under a totally different system than we do at home, so everything was inevitably different. Even now I'm trying to figure out if there are easier ways to get him down for a nap, because we didn't do that at home for so long and on the road I was constantly relying on walks, car rides, etc.
I'm sure there were more things I pondered during those long car trips or other quiet times during our time off, but I can't really think of them right now. But at the end of the day it comes down to this: Most days I still wish I had a little extra time to spend with Jacob, and I'm bummed that we can only pull that off a couple times a year. It was nice while it lasted, though!
Friday, August 14, 2009
Once we checked in (beautiful hotel, by the way--great beds, interesting bathroom with a pocket door and bowl sink), the three men and our nephew Walt headed out to the Pirates-Cardinals game. The women, our niece Maddy and the three young boys all headed out to Macy's to do a little shopping, then dinner and finally a stop at a park near the hotel. Macy's was cool because it was a really big store. We didn't have the time (or enough patience from the boys) to explore much, but it was definitely a throwback to the days when major department stores had huge downtown locations. We shopped until all three boys had melted down at one point or another and conceded defeat. We stopped to eat dinner at Moe's (yum!) on the way back (mostly because it was the the quickest and safest option to avoid potential problems with our nephew Grant's allergies). The coolest thing about it was that there was an outdoor patio, and across the way was a Primanti Brothers location. You may have seen Primanti Brothers on the Food Network, famous for their gigantic sandwich that includes a handful of french fries--on the sandwich!
After dinner we headed back past the hotel and onward to Point State Park. It is located right at the convergence of the three rivers in Pittsburgh. The park is on the site of a couple forts that date back to the French-Indian War, and it has a famous fountain that I had previously only seen from above, when I'd taken a ride on the incline railway. In fact, the last time I saw it was the trip I took to Pittsburgh right before I found out I was pregnant. Of course, usually the fountain has a gigantic stream of water shooting from it, and for some reason it was off when we were there. I actually feel lucky we saw what we did (see picture below) because later in the weekend it was off completely. Anyway, the kids ran around the fountain area quite a bit. We saw a guy doing wheelies on the edge of the fountain, checked out the river, and looked upstream at PNC Park, where the guys were watching the baseball game. It doesn't look very nice in the picture, but it really was a nice evening!
The next morning we got up and saw a beautiful day out the window:
Off to the right you can see the fountain, and off in the distance where you see the big buildings on the top of the hill is where the incline railway is (one of them, anyway). The design you see in the grass leading up to the fountain is an outline of one of the forts that used to be there. The plan for Saturday was the zoo, hopefully a stop at the Heinz Museum, and then a boat ride. In the end we only got to the zoo. We got a late start due to a minor medical issue, and once we did the zoo and grabbed some dinner, it was too late for the boat ride. The museum would have been a long shot either way, I think. I told Craig that it was good motivation to go back there someday...we still have things to see! Not to mention that Craig and I have a friend who works for the Penguins and we'd like to check out their arena someday. Anyway, the zoo was pretty cool. It was a good size and was really nestled into nature. Lots of hills, trees, etc. Some of the exhibits weren't the most stroller-friendly, particularly on such a busy day, but a lot of zoos aren't, ironically! It was pretty hot that day so the animals were a bit on the lazy side, but we still saw plenty. There were lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and a whole host of monkeys. I think the best part of the whole zoo was the PPG Aquarium. It was pretty impressive, even if their crawl-through stingray exhibit was under renovation. Arg. Here's Craig and Jacob in front of the cool fish tank/waterfall/fountain in front of it. Notice the otters...
Oh, and Jacob loved shaking that cup when there was ice in it. Kept him smiling...and that's all that's important! We saw penguins, jellyfish, creepy seahorse-type creatures that looked like seaweed, and a giant two-story aquarium. The aquarium had a giant atrium with another waterfall like the one out front. It was really pretty. I wish everything didn't have to be behind glass, because it makes picture taking difficult! After the aquarium we saw polar bears, sea otters, and a giant walk-through shark tank. About that time we were ready to head out. As you can see, Jacob was spent!
He's holding his souvenir from the aquarium, an otter. We've since figured out that he thinks the otter is a dog, because he's usually doing his little bark when he's holding it. Oh well...so, we have an otter named "Doggie" now...we'll clear it up with Jacob in another year or so :)
After the zoo we headed out to dinner at Joe's Crab Shack at Station Square, an entertainment area across the river from downtown. I ate there on my last trip to Pittsburgh, when I had my one accidental alcoholic beverage before I knew I was pregnant. Oops. We originally had planned on stopping back at the hotel before dinner, but due to time constraints we didn't. So, we had to find something for Jacob to eat there. I settled on the kids' meal of mac & cheese and applesauce. And seriously, I have never seen Jacob eat that well. Granted, I was feeding him the whole time, but he ate a huge portion of the mac & cheese and more than half of the applesauce cup. He probably would have eaten more, but I was afraid he'd get sick since he's not used to that much food, let alone something that rich. It was awesome, though. After dinner we headed out to the courtyard outside the restaurant, which has a fountain that performs to music, ala the Bellagio fountains in Vegas, only way smaller. The kids had a great time playing in the puddles created by the spray, though Jacob wasn't so sure...
By the time we got back to the hotel, it was getting late but we could tell that that night's Pirates game was almost over. There were supposed to be postgame fireworks, so we decided to push back bedtime a bit and walk across the street from the parking ramp to an area that overlooks the river and ballpark. We waited an eternity, and then they ended up doing the postgame concert before the fireworks! Ugh. However, they did blow off a few after one of the songs. Jacob was sitting in his stroller and Craig said he felt Jacob jump! But it was short-lived and Jacob's first real fireworks display will have wait, yet again.
On Sunday we were off to the ballpark. It was a beautiful, sunny day, but HOT. We were quite concerned about sitting in the sun all day, but fortunately it turned out that our seats were JUST in the shade. Still, even in the shade we just sat there in a pool of our own sweat...so you can imagine how it felt to hold Jacob through all that! He was pretty fidgety and despite his obsession with balls (and lately, an interest in baseball on TV), he just couldn't wrap his head around what was going on. Consequently, we spent a lot of time wandering around the stadium. The highlight was the pierogy race, where four people dressed as various pierogies (Oliver Onion, Cheese Chester, Jalapeno Hannah, and Sauerkraut Saul...and once upon a time, Potato Pete) run around the outfield track. It's really funny. The first time we were there we bought a beanie Sauerkraut Saul magnet for our fridge. Jacob loves it. When Craig was there last year, he brought back a non-magnet beanie Potato Pete, which Jacob also enjoyed, and this time we added Oliver Onion to our collection. They're cute and perfect for a Polish kid ;-) We spent a lot of time in the (air conditioned) team store, and Jacob had plenty of fodder for his ball obsession. We took this picture in the team store near this gigantic baseball, which of course Jacob liked!
It was a long, hot day and it was a bit of a relief to get back in the car to start heading home. The five hour trip was daunting, but we had to do it! We stopped about 45 minutes in for dinner, then again an hour and a half later for a bathroom break. At that point I got Jacob into his PJs in hopes he'd go to sleep. Sure enough, he did. He slept for a good two hours or so, right through the loud pelting of rain on the car. We hit those crazy thunderstorms that flooded out the southtowns, with more lightning than I think I've ever seen. Craig did fantastic driving, considering the weather, the exhausting weekend, and the distance. Jacob woke up somewhere around Batavia and was miserable for the rest of the trip. Once we were home I fed him to get him relaxed again, and he slept fine. We were really happy to be home, even though we had a great time and would have loved to stay longer and check out more of the sights.
The trip was definitely an experience. I'll hopefully take some time to post some of my thoughts on traveling with a one year old sometime soon. But at least now you're finally caught up on the trip!
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
In the last picture you can see how Jacob now likes to share the grass he's pulled out of the ground! As happy as he looks here, he melted down shortly thereafter when I tried to change his diaper. He stayed pretty cranky for the rest of the trip, which wasn't long, until I plopped him in the car and he slept for the entire trip home. If you want to see all that we saw, check out the pictures in my Facebook album.
Wednesday our big activity was going to Bills' training camp. We hit up the Pizza Hut buffet first, where Jacob ate most of a small piece of pizza (crust included!), some pasta, and some shredded cheese from the salad bar. I also gave him a couple small bites of the cherry dessert pizza. He did great, and I think that was the first time his entire meal consisted of restaurant food. He spent most of the rest of the meal trying to drink out of Craig's glass. Not sure if it was the red plastic, the cold water, or the squeeze of lemon that really piqued his interest. Bills camp was an interesting experience. The bus shuttle from a school parking lot to St. John Fisher was not fun, in either direction. Jacob didn't like it, for whatever reason, and add in the fact it was warm and crowded and it was just miserable. Camp itself was cool, though, mostly because it was pleasant weather. We just picked a shady spot and put down a blanket. Jacob played with a soft football I had during the Bills' Super Bowl years and tried pushing his own stroller.
It was a really beautiful day, and despite the hassles of the shuttle, it was still a good time.
Thursday morning we had some work done at the house so we were sort of stuck there. We had the concrete of our patio and front walkway pumped up. Way cheaper than replacing it. There are still cracks, of course, but at least now neither of them feels like a major safety hazard. That was becoming increasingly important as we get ever closer to Jacob running around. By the way, still not much progress in that department. As well as he can walk when he pushes something or we hold his hands, he almost refuses to stand up on his own. I've tricked him a couple times when he's been standing up and I hand him two things so he doesn't have a free hand to hold on, but it never lasts long. He just seems really uninterested in standing or walking. He sees kids do it all the time at daycare, so it's not like he doesn't know it's possible. So odd. I know I shouldn't be wishing for him to do it because he'll be a terror once he can get around even more, but he gets all over crawling right now anyway. I've been assured that walking is different, though.
Thursday afternoon we decided to go to the zoo. The nice thing about being zoo members is that we can go whenever we want, stay as long as we need to, and not worry about it being an expensive, wasted trip if Jacob melts down or falls asleep. We've visited the zoo three or four times this summer, plus we've used the membership to get into a couple other zoos, so it's been worth it. And every time we go, Jacob seems to get a little more aware of the animals. I didn't take any pictures this time, probably because we go there enough and I've already taken a couple rounds of them...and really, any moment that may have been pictureworthy was either too quick or too entertaining to remember the camera! We had fun watching the crazy baboons, and Jacob liked the penguins, too. The weather was perfect yet again, so it ended up just being a nice couple hours outside with some good scenery.
The day ended with lots of packing. We decided to head out to Buffalo once Jacob's bedtime hit, instead of waiting for the morning, because it's hard to do the last-minute packing and still get out the door early. We knew we had to be in Buffalo by late morning, so driving while Jacob was sleeping seemed like the best use of our time and easiest overall. Friday afternoon it was off to Pittsburgh!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Here's a cute picture of Kate leaning on Kristin's arm and the armrest of a chair...so cute!
My dad was determined to get a picture of him with both grandchildren, mostly to use as his profile picture on Facebook. Getting two babies to smile at once is a challenge, and this was about the best that I captured...
Ahhh, the wagon. My parents' neighbor garbage picked an old rusty Radio Flyer for them. My parents sanded it down and the neighbor took it to work and repainted it. It actually looks really good. Jacob enjoyed his first few rides in it this summer, and we got both kids in it this time. They really enjoyed the ride...particularly the bumps!
Taking walks or going on car rides seemed to be the only thing that would knock Jacob out all weekend. I don't know if it was the excitement or if he's just getting to the point where rocking is less effective. We haven't been home enough to really test the theory out, to be honest. That will all change this coming weekend, thankfully. Anyhoo, my mom took Jacob for a wagon ride Monday morning, and he fell asleep sitting up. Seriously. She laid him down, and just look at my sweet little angel boy :)
Such a nice picture...
Finally....here's Jacob's new ball, courtesy of Godmother Lori. It's nearly as big as him, but he still manages to throw it! I just thought he looked so cute sitting there holding it!
That concludes the weekend...finally. Shortly after I took this last picture we piled in the car and headed home. We had 3-1/2 days back in Rochester, and hoped to make the most of them before piling back in the car to come back to Buffalo to meet up with Craig's family for a weekend in Pittsburgh. Stay tuned for more...
Friday, August 7, 2009
Monday was more of the same, just hanging around the house. Jacob got more wagon time and we tried again on the pictures of them together. Jacob is now officially addicted to the outdoors. He has like being outside for a while, usually pounding on the door at daycare to go out for a walk. But lately, particularly since he spent a lot of time on the swing, slide and wagon at my parents, he points longingly at any portal to the outdoors, crying to get out. Fortunately we have a wagon at home and we've had the time this week to take a lot of evening walks. Jacob has been loving it.
We went home on Monday after lunch, and tried to settle back in to a week at home. Tuesday brought a whole new adventure--a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass! I'll have pictures from the rest of the weekend, plus a full report of the Corning trip and the rest of the week, coming up in the next few days. I can't figure out how to get my pictures on Craig's computer at the moment, so all I can do is type! Time to go to bed and prepare for a busy day in Pittsburgh tomorrow!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Could Kate be any sweeter? :) I'll have more pics of the kids together and from the rest of our weekend coming up in another post. Hopefully I get one out before Friday, or else I will be woefully behind after another big adventure!