Monday, November 30, 2009
As babies get older, you have more fun moments, more smiles, and more milestones to enjoy, but I'd still argue that a true connection with your baby is tough to come by. Obviously you're their parent, and they know that. Just try handing your baby off to a stranger, or even getting them to talk to one, and you'll know that for sure. They might give a smile, but the second they think you're leaving them there, all bets are off. But until you have a real means to communicate with your baby, to know what they want, what they're thinking about, etc., sometimes it's hard to really feel like you know them. You love them and know every other intimate detail about them, but their brain remains a mystery. That's why signing was a huge help and why I enjoyed it when Jacob could finally crawl and get the toys he wanted. Those two things alone provided a lot of insight into Jacob's mind.
We always enjoyed it when Jacob could snuggle into one of us and fall asleep, or when he'd suddenly snap out of his cranky zone when he saw us. At least there were signs that he knew exactly who we were and that we were a good thing in his little world. But only in the last few months or so has he started to show true affection--getting excited when he sees us, giving real kisses, and voluntarily hugging. And really, that is the best. There's nothing quite like an excited "Mama!" when I walk in the door, and I love when we're playing on the floor and he randomly jumps on me and wraps his arms around my neck in a big hug. It's like a big "thank you" for a fun play time. Sometimes when he gives hugs, he pats your back, which is the cutest thing ever. Once in a while he gives me unsolicited kisses when my cheek is anywhere close to his face, and although a lot of them tend to be air kisses or random open mouth ones (even though he knows how to pucker and most of the time does), it's so sweet. And sometimes he just gives these sweet little touches...where he'll rub my cheek or my arm, or will lay his head down in my lap. Awesome. I even love when I pick him up and he completely holds on to me--full body style with his arms around my neck, legs wrapped around, head on my shoulder, and absolutely no intention of letting go. It's one of those moments that makes you feel needed.
This weekend his sleep schedule was all off. Some (most?) of it was my fault. Thanksgiving caused his napping schedule to be off thanks to sleeping in the car and too much going on during the afternoon. He woke up early most mornings this weekend, and his napping was a disaster. An hour here, 45 minutes there, a couple late afternoon naps that threw off bedtime, a couple late nights....what a mess! He was fighting sleep the whole time, and to make matters worse, he's got his cough back. It's not as bad as it was last year, but it's back nonetheless. Ugh. That has been waking him up a bit (or at least disturbing his sleep...he seems to sleep through it but I can't imagine it's restful), and I think just being off his schedule did the rest of the damage. We spent much of yesterday afternoon visiting with some friends and watching the Bills game, and Jacob didn't nap while we were there. He was in a decent mood most of the time (whew!), and he fell asleep pretty much the second the car pulled out of the parking lot. We managed to transfer him into his crib successfully when we got home. However, about a half hour later he was screaming bloody murder. I went in to grab him and I brought him out into the living room. He stopped fussing when I sat with him on the couch and he could watch football, and at some point shortly thereafter his eyes began to shut. He ended up sleeping on me for about an hour, and it was really nice. It happens so rarely these days, and I really enjoyed it. Naps like that are so rare these days, but I know both Craig and I have been dreaming of lazy weekend afternoons where we all curl up on the couch and nap together. When I have nothing better to do (and even if I do!), there's nothing I'd rather do than play Jacob's pillow for an hour or so.
Long story short, it's just nice to see Jacob at the point where he realizes just how special his mommy-daddy time is. He's been a little attached in the mornings at daycare drop-off and apparently stands at the door saying "Mama" for the last half hour he's there, so I feel a little guilty for that, but it's nice to know that he knows the difference and wants to spend time with us. I keep hoping that his desire to spend time with us will make him a happier boy when he can, and I hope it doesn't backfire down the line and make him upset that he doesn't get more time with us.
Well, time to go get some of those hugs and kisses...can't wait :)
Friday, November 27, 2009
Craig was off to work this morning and Jacob let me stay in bed until about 8am. We had a fun morning just getting ready, and then we headed out to do some shopping. I figured I'd probably miss the good stuff I wanted, but it was worth a shot. Sure enough, I missed the good sales. And really, the whole experience zapped my Christmas spirit before it even had a chance to get going. First of all, it's probably a mistake to take your kids out into that madness. Of course, tons of other people did, too. Strollers everywhere! And maneuvering around crowded racks and horrible lines was really hard. I couldn't even get into the toddler boys section of Children's Place the first time I stopped in because the line had completely blocked it off, and the second time past I did, but got trapped. It was horrible. Jacob was a very good boy for the entire trip, but I can only imagine what might have happened had we actually bought something and needed to wait in a line somewhere. Every line was a mile long...halfway back through the store in places like Old Navy and Kohl's. No thanks. It was all pretty disheartening, both that we didn't buy anything and that if we would have, it would have been a painfully long wait.
I usually don't go out on Black Friday. I used to have to work on Black Friday every year (hence Craig's absence today), but with my current job we always have off. In past years I've spent much of the day doing Christmas decorating. This year I'm not sure what to do. I know I'm going to put our tree up, but we were advised to go easy on the decorations this year in preparation for getting our house on the market, so I'm a little hesitant to even open those bins because I don't want to bum myself out about all the stuff I can't put up this year. I'll do it eventually, but it's a little frustrating. And with how active and mobile Jacob is this year, his naptime is the only time to do it. That happens to be right now, and quite frankly, I am not in the mood to do it. I'm probably going to head off for my own nap when I'm done with this blog post, even though I have a million other things to do. The morning just sort of zapped my energy.
The biggest bummer of the whole thing is probably the realization of the kind of world Jacob will grow up in. Maybe it's just perception, but I feel like he's going to grow up in a world where Christmas is so much more commercialized than ever. As we drove around listening to Christmas carols, I almost wanted to cry hearing a song like "Silent Night", knowing that the true meaning of Christmas is a far cry from the craziness of a day like Black Friday. The commercialism and gift-giving overshadows things so much, and I hate to think that I might not emphasize enough to Jacob over the next few years how important Jesus is to Christmas, just because I'll be too busy stressing out about the million things that need to get done. Christmas is such a fun time of year...the lights, the music, the treats, and yes, the gifts. As much of a burden as they can become as we get older, gifts are one of the things that made Christmas so exciting as a kid. And I would never want to take that experience away from Jacob, but I do hope that I can help him understand what is most important. I have fond memories of Christmas programs and youth group caroling, cookie baking and tree decorating, and I hope that Jacob learns to enjoy those simple things too. But it won't happen without a good, solid effort to steer him clear of the crass commercialism.
So, one shopping trip down and no gifts bought. I guess I need to work on my list and hope the sales keep coming but the shoppers decrease a bit. It'll all get done somehow, but hopefully I can keep Jacob out of the fray in the meantime!
Monday, November 23, 2009
These two are from the crawling races. Jacob consistently came in second, thanks in part to his unorthodox crawling method on grass, the up-on-his-hands-and-feet monkey crawl. He was still quick, but one kid was just unstoppable! But obviously Jacob was determined, based on his face in these pictures!
It's so funny to see pictures of him that I haven't seen before, this many months later. He's practically a different boy nowadays, compared to the who he was here. He's got more teeth, thicker but shorter hair (he's been through two haircuts since, and thank goodness, since it was so long in these pictures! His third is just around the corner...), and he's just bigger and stronger and walking! In a matter of four months, he's gone from a baby to a little boy. I guess all of this fits in well with my last post. You just don't realize how much things have changed until you see something from the past. It was fun to see these pictures and catch a glimpse of Jacob I had never seen before. As a parent you think you've seen every look and every photo. But then you see something like this and it's a neat little view into a time gone by. Cool stuff.
Friday, November 20, 2009
At daycare he usually spends the end of the day with a teacher who has a baby born two days after Jacob's first birthday. So, for the last half hour or so, Jacob and this adorable five month old baby girl co-exist. I don't know how much they interact, but when he does notice she's there, he seems pretty fascinated by her. Which, of course, gets me thinking about baby #2. I'm not so delusional that I think we're even remotely ready for that, but it is sort of fun to think about how he'll react to another baby in the house. Something tells me that the word "Gentle!" will probably become the top spoken word in the house, though. Still...just looking at that little baby makes me realize how far we've come. Just the other day we witnessed her first roll from her back to her belly. Man, that was a long time ago now for Jacob. I'll see all these other babies and it doesn't hit me how much bigger Jacob is than them until I see the size difference.
I guess when you see someone every day, you just don't realize how they grow and change until you have a point of reference. It's sort of like pregnancy. You know you're growing and changing, but you don't realize how much until you do something you haven't done for a while, like try on clothes, go up a flight of stairs, or try to squeeze through a small space. All of a sudden you realize how much bigger you are. But as you go through it, it's hardly noticeable from day to day. The body just adjusts without us even knowing it. For example, nowadays when I'm doing lunges at the gym with 20 pounds worth of weights, I can't believe how hard it is. But near the end of my pregnancy I had gained that much weight and I was still doing lunges fairly easily (weight-wise, at least...balance was another story!). I rarely felt a strain when I had to walk, but if you gave me that weight back right now, I think I'd have a heck of a time walking to my car from my office. Similarly, as Jacob has grown, my perception has changed right along with him. When I pick him up, I know he's heavy, but his heaviness doesn't feel that much different than when he was a baby...because I think my arms have adjusted along the way! Even though his look has changed, when I see him I just see my baby boy, same as he's always been! But when I have a point of reference, I really realize it. Smaller babies, old pictures and outgrown clothes are my best clues these days.
It's been an amazing process and I'm really enjoying watching him grow and change and learn. And there's so much more to come! And just think, when he does hit 18 months, Christmas will be just a handful of days away, and that will be so much fun! Can't wait!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
On Friday we hung out with my parents. In the afternoon we headed out to the playground near my parents' house. They have some fun equipment, including some that's good for little kids. Here's Jacob getting some help down one of the slides...
He got to climb and slide for a while, and then we headed out to partake in my parents' newest hobby, geocaching. In case you've never heard of it, it involves using a GPS to find "treasures" that other cachers have hidden in the most random places. You can find their location on the internet, and then you use coordinates and sometimes additional clues along the way to find the cache. My parents pinpointed a couple easy ones to check out nearby, and Jacob and I came along for the ride. We found the first one at the base of a concrete support for a high speed rail line that apparently went from Niagara Falls to Buffalo back in the earlier part of the 20th century. Here's Jacob checking out the treasures inside the cache...which in this case included some army man-esque figures and a bouncy ball.
And here he is playing with it before we hopped back in the car...
Dinner was a disaster that night as Jacob wouldn't eat. He wouldn't even sit in his high chair. Eventually he managed to eat a bit, but it was a major struggle. Still, we had a fairly nice evening visiting Great-Grandma, and Jacob slept well. On Saturday we briefly visited a friend of mine at their job, and then met up with my oldest friend, Heather, to walk around the N.T. City Market. There were lots of tempting things, but knowing we still had a couple days in Buffalo before heading home, it was tough to buy anything that might need refrigeration or should be eaten quickly. Still, we had a nice time catching up. After that we packed up and headed to Hamburg for the second half of our weekend. We met up with Craig and grabbed some lunch before meeting up with Craig's brother's family for a visit to Chestnut Ridge Park. Jacob played on the playground (more fun slides, some swings, and lots of climbing) and threw balls to his heart's content until the sun went down and it started to get cold. We enjoyed dinner and meeting some new family at Craig's parents' house that evening.
The next day was Craig's Nana's 90th birthday party. We had a very good time and ate well! Jacob was good except that he was constantly getting in people's way because he was addicted to climbing the three steps that separated the room we were in from the rest of the place. He must have gone up and down those steps about 30 times....at least. He also wasn't very smiley during picture taking and was not a happy camper when we tried to steer him to somewhere he wasn't intending on going. This picture sort of sums up the day...he was cute as ever, but everything was a bit of a struggle.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
This has been the norm for a few weeks now, but here's a video of Jacob walking through the house. It's a little dark, but you get the idea.
The walking thing took forever to get here, but it finally did! He still has his unsteady moments, but he's doing well and is still pretty good at catching himself and escaping injury when he does fall. Of course, he still got his busted lip and a myriad of bumps and bruises courtesy of his new-found mobility, but all things considered he's done fairly well. Now he just wants to go faster than his feet can carry him, but he hasn't quite figured out running yet. I'm sure it's just around the corner, though. It's been fun to watch him walk around on his own, and sometimes he looks so proud of himself when he walks, even if he's holding on to one of us. It's really cute and I think he appreciates having a little more freedom, even if I do have to scoop him up and throw him over my shoulder once in a while when he decides to not listen!
As much as people bemoan walking as the beginning of chasing their child all over the place, I actually prefer it to crawling because he's easier to grab and it's not as awkward in public places as when he was on all fours in a potentially dirty place. I'm sure as he gets better he'll get into more things, but for now, it's no worse than crawling!
Hopefully more tomorrow...
Monday, November 16, 2009
After this weekend I think Jacob and I are both coming down with something. His nose was running quite a bit last night and again this morning, and today I woke up with a sore throat and a slightly runny nose as well. I just feel a little off. I had a headache for a good chunk of the day yesterday, and my head's a little iffy today as well. Still, I'm glad we were able to get through the weekend without any issues. We had a lot of fun and it would have been a shame if not feeling well would have interfered with any of it. As it was, Jacob had a handful of meltdowns over the course of the weekend, but it just seems like it's all a product of his determination. Once he gets something in his head, he is determined to get it/do it/go there, and will let you know how much it bothers him when he can't. He goes totally limp or stiff, making him like a sack of potatoes to pick up, and he'll pull hair, bite, hit or grab your face in his anger. I don't know where it all came from (per my post a week or so ago), but it is a challenge to deal with. It's all about remaining calm and reminding him that those behaviors aren't acceptable. But it's hard to tell when he'll begin to understand that and if he'll even listen once he does. But for the most part he's still a good little boy. And when he's in a good mood, he's awesome. He's getting to be so fun to play with because he's getting to be more interactive. He loves peek-a-boo, throwing balls, and showing off his baseball swing. His smile is absolutely adorable. Over the weekend he started saying "Hi" and "Yeah, so that's been fun to play around with. Jacob and I even got to take a nice nap together, which hasn't happened in a long time. So, despite some challenging moments earlier in the weekend, it ended up being a pretty good time for all of us. Still, it's good to be home so we can settle back in to our routines and keep working on the projects that we hope will lead to a better life for all of us! More soon...
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Watching him toddle around the house is so adorable. Now that he's got two free hands, he can carry stuff all over the place, so we end up with toys (and other things) all over the house. Sometimes it's fun just to see what he pops around the corner with. I love hearing his little "stomp-stomp" walking style as he lumbers down the hardwoods. I'm still so nervous about him because he's still pretty iffy on balance sometimes. He tries to go faster than his little feet can safely move at this point. We've made a lot of good catches lately, believe me! But after such a long wait, it's a joy to see him finally able to walk around. And wherever we go, when he's walking along holding a hand, he elicits smiles from the people we pass. It's so cute!
Over the weekend I installed his first "big boy" car seat. I managed to get a good enough deal online that I got a Britax Roundabout pretty close to my $150 budget. I could probably get close to that for a seat for Craig's car, thanks to 20% off coupons for both Babies 'R' Us and Buy Buy Baby, but I think I'm going to opt for a different, cheaper, but still very good seat, just because I think the other one will be easier for Craig to use correctly. I think. I think I'm going to go with the Evenflo Triumph Advance, but don't quote me on that just yet. But as for the Britax, I'm actually leaving it backward-facing for a bit longer even though we're well past the year and 20 pounds requirement. The more I read up on the subject the more I'm convinced that it's safer. And if it's a choice between Jacob's entertainment value and keeping him alive in a car crash, I'll take keeping him alive. I read something about how babies spines don't fuse for a long time--I can't remember, but maybe even 2 or 3 years old--and it only takes a small bit of stretching to sever the spinal cord. And the trauma to that area is considerably less in a backward-facing seat. I saw this disturbing PSA (I think it was Welsh) that was a dramatization showing the inner workings of a car accident caused by a texting teenager. While I'll spare you the gory details, I have been haunted ever since by the sight of a baby in another involved car that was seemingly untouched, with his eyes wide open, but motionless. And all I can think is that his neck snapped. Even though that wasn't the point of the PSA, it resonated and I want to keep Jacob's little neck as protected as possible. He's got another 10-12 pounds until we have to turn him around, and I will gladly make full use of that time. The seat will accomodate him forward-facing until he's 50 pounds, so it will work for him for a long time. I still think he might outgrow the height before he outgrows the weight! I think his other seat will be much the same. He can still see quite a bit and he likes seeing himself in the mirror. He doesn't really know any different at this point, so I have no real reason to feel guilty. I'm very comfortable with the decision.
Otherwise, Jacob has been figuring out a lot of new stuff lately. Suddenly he's putting the pieces together with a lot of things. He knows to make noises when driving trucks around the floor, he does his version of "hello" (which he still doesn't say as a normal greeting, mind you) when he holds a phone or his hand up to his ear, and the last couple days at day care he's been picking up a toy spoon and pot and doing some mixing! He even tried to feed me with the spoon this morning! Since he learned how to drink out of a straw a month or so ago, I bought him a straw sippy cup this weekend and I think he's hooked. He loves it. He also likes to blow kisses (thanks in part to the Elmo Live dolls you see everywhere in stores) and knows how to give real ones, too. I love his hugs and kisses, though he's also learned how to shake his head no, so I get rejected a little more often now when I ask for one. Hmmm. He started saying "All Done" a lot over the weekend, though I'm not 100% sure he understands the concept because once in a while he'll sneak in a couple more bites after he's "done" with his meal. He's doing pretty well learning body parts and is trying to repeat some words that we encourage him to say. Usually he's a little off, but at least he's trying. He points to the wagon at day care and says "Wa", for example. You can just see the wheels turning these days, and despite cranky tantrums when he can't do something he wants to, we still manage to have a lot of fun! Getting laughs and smiles out of him is the best, and fortunately, we get a lot of those!
But like I was saying at the beginning of this post, sometimes I just find myself in awe of this amazing little boy. Once upon a time he was a tiny cluster of cells, and then he was a living, breathing, helpless little baby, and now he's a walking, talking little boy. I definitely try to savor each moment I have with him (the quiet ones and the fun ones especially), brushing my cheek on his soft hair, looking at his tiny toes, or blowing raspberries on his little belly...just taking in the essence of my baby boy before he won't let me anymore! I've said it before and I'll say it again....We are truly blessed.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I'll admit that disciplining a one year old is a fine line to walk. They think it's funny when you respond to their wrong-doing, and obviously you don't want to encourage that. When he throws his food or his cup, I tend to raise my voice. And when it happens a lot, sometimes I even give his hand a little slap--not a hard one, but apparently it's hard enough to throw him off. I know they say that hitting only breeds hitting, and maybe they're right. But how else do you communicate to a baby that what they did is wrong when words seemingly mean nothing to them? My hope with the slap is that he'll associate what he did with that hand to the event that happened to the hand immediately after. I'm sure that doesn't work in reality, but I'm stumped. I've tried putting the cup back out of his reach for a while, taking it away completely, ignoring it and leaving it there, and seemingly everything else, to no avail. And lately the throwing has been happening in anger, with bigger, harder objects. I don't know why things are suddenly causing him such angst! If he doesn't get his way he immediately melts down, and will keep crying for a while...even as long as a half hour!
Of course I'm starting to worry that it has something to do with my parenting, or maybe that something is seriously bothering him that we don't know about, maybe even beyond teething. What if he's in some sort of pain and can't tell us? His lip has healed up from his Halloween incident, but the soft tissue underneath, inside his mouth, is still purple. Maybe that's bothering him? What if it's something at daycare? Maybe it's just being at daycare to begin with, that even if he likes it there, he's starting to resent that he doesn't get much quality time with us? I've been trying to put him to bed a little earlier lately to combat the crankiness and the time change, but unfortunately he just seems to wake up earlier, which he never used to do. This morning's 6:45 am wakeup was a far cry from his 9:30 am sleep-ins.
Craig and I are both short on patience during the worst of it. When he throws something we take it away, and that may just lead to another meltdown, worse than whatever caused the original throwing episode. And by the way, there's definitely a difference between throwing something like he throws a ball and throwing something in anger. The angry one gets things taken away. And when he has a meltdown, it is a full body one. He'll cry, throw his body around (he got me pretty good this morning on my upper cheek when he threw his head back while I was trying to put on his sneakers), writhe around, bang his head on the floor (lovely), and be just plain hysterical for a while. Sometimes you can switch his attention and it helps, but often he'll remember 30 seconds later that he was upset about something and start all over again. And his inability to fully communicate makes this that much more difficult. If he could tell us what he wants (beyond food, milk, or his pointing abilities), it would make things much easier. He might still get a "No", but at least we'd know why it's happening.
Yesterday I got a little misty on the way into work because I felt so bad that I couldn't spend the day with him and try to figure out what's going on. As far as I know daycare hasn't noticed anything funny with him, so of course, that makes me wonder if it's me. Is he rebelling against me because I discipline him too much? Or is it just because I'm his mother and that's innate in every kid to test their parents? It's hard, no matter what. And add on to all of this the stress that's bubbling up over the prospect of getting our house ready to go on the market and it's been a rough few days. The idea of tearing apart our house and de-cluttering it is pretty overwhelming. How do you do that when you have too much stuff to begin with (even if you like it and want to keep it) and need to have baby-related items in nearly every room? And the simple thought that once I start it, our lives won't be back to normal for a long time is scary. I hate to think of paring down the Christmas decorations and removing the pictures and knicknacks that remind us how important our family and friends are. And minimizing toys? Ugh. Lots to think about and even more to do.
Happy weekend, everyone. My parents are coming to visit this afternoon, and then we're going to the Amerks game together. Tomorrow we're going to make a quick trip to the zoo (they're having a technology recycling event, so we'll go see animals after we ditch some old electronics) and do some house stuff. We'll see how that goes!
Monday, November 2, 2009
And now he's helping to rake...
But it's really most fun to play in them!
If you want to see the rest of the photo session, click here and go to page 5. Some of them ended up a little blurry because I was playing with the settings on my camera, but you get the idea :)