Monday, November 30, 2009

Feeling the Love

One of the best things about Jacob getting older is getting back some real, genuine affection. When you first have a baby, it's all about giving. You give, give, give, with very little in return. Don't get me wrong, the random little smiles and sweet baby sounds are awesome. And nothing beats the sight of a peacefully sleeping baby. Every little snuggle and every little milestone make parenting worthwhile, but sometimes you really have to look for those moments amidst the exhaustion of caring for a helpless newborn.

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

Black Friday

I hope everyone had a nice thanksgiving. Ours was quick and busy, but very nice. We did some home improvements on Wednesday night and got up bright and early yesterday to drive to Buffalo. We met my parents at church at 10am. Jacob did really well at church. He made it a half hour before Craig had to take him out of the church. And even then, he wasn't crying or fussing...he just wanted to explore. They came back in for a little while and then had to go back out for a few more minutes, but all things considered, he did great. I don't know if it was the fact that it was harder for him to move around, or the different surroundings, or what, but he was a lot less fidgety than he is for church at home. After that we stopped at my parents' for a bit to bid them a fond farewell as they head to Cancun for the week (luck them!) and to visit my grandma, whose birthday is today. After that he headed off to Craig's parents' for thanksgiving dinner with his whole family. It was delicious and we had a very nice time. Jacob was a very good boy all day long. We made it home a little after 8pm, spent some time playing with Jacob, and I spent the rest of the evening checking out the Black Friday ads to see if anything was worth getting this morning.

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

Blast from the Past

Back in the summer around mid-July, Jacob and I went to my company picnic. We had a lot of fun, and that evening happened to be his first haircut, so it turned out to be a very full day. Well, one of my bosses at work is a fantastic amateur photographer--so good that people are starting to pay her to do things. You may remember her pictures from my work baby shower way back when--though I didn't post some of the fancier ones since I didn't think they'd show enough of what was going on...but they were cool artistic shots nonetheless. Anyway, she had a great time at the picnic snapping pictures of the many babies running around--including two of the three that were born within a month or two of Jacob. She finally had a chance to go through them and organize them (mostly because our receptionist has been begging for pictures from her, particularly after Halloween and now with our company's quarterly newsletter deadline looming), and today she presented me with a CD full of pictures. It was fun to go back and see what she took, because she's got this fancy-schmantzy camera that can take a frame a second or something crazy like that, and she's very stealth! So, anyway, here's an assortment...

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

Seventeen Months

Jacob is 17 months old today. When I thought about that this morning and realized that he's only one month shy of 18 months, a.k.a. a year and a half, that was pretty crazy. There are some moments where it has felt like it took forever to get to this point, but at the same time, there are moments that I look at Jacob and wonder where my little baby went! When I see other babies out and about, it blows my mind to realize how big Jacob is now and how much we've already been through.

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

Weekend Fun

Well, we certainly had a busy weekend. We left on Thursday afternoon to head to North Tonawanda and meet up with my parents. That evening, my mom, Jacob and I headed out to HSBC Arena to see the Amerks (the Sabres' old farm team) play the Sabres' new farm team, the Portland Pirates. I figured that Jacob would be entranced since he'd never been to an arena that big before, and games at the smallish Blue Cross Arena here in Rochester usually holds his attention. Well, even though we were sitting in the third row, he was so squirmy! He hardly ate any dinner before we left, and hardly watched the game at all. However, he loved walking through the concourse and especially loved "Sabretooth's House", a structure set up in the concourse with a few kiddie activities (although no one was staffing it for this game). We met up with Craig's dad, brother and two of our nephews, and I think Jacob liked seeing them. He even got a little stuffed Sabretooth from Craig's dad. Even though Jacob was a bit exhausting and the Amerks looked terrible (they lost by a bunch and it broke their team record-tying 12-game winning streak), it was still a fun night. I forgot my camera, though, so no pictures. :(

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.

Next up was a cache somewhere between the canal and DeGraff Memorial Hospital, near a set of steps up to the level of the Twin Cities Highway. Jacob made out well with this one, as there was a soft ball (the kind you throw around your pool that soak up water), and apparently you can take one of the trinkets other cachers left behind if you leave one in its place. So, Jacob got to keep the 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 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.

Jacob and I took a great nap together that afternoon (it was sort of accidental, but it was nice nonetheless--our apologies to any family that we missed out on time with...Jacob needed a nap and I had a nagging headache), and we all gathered up our strength to drive home separately. Jacob was with me. It felt really good to get home that night, but as I mentioned yesterday, we came home to a house desperately in need of more de-cluttering. We will be staying close to home this weekend, and hopefully we can make a good dent in it! And then....thanksgiving! Yay for food, family and a couple days off!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Little Video Treat...

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

Catching up...

I promise to post something more interesting at some point in the next few days. I have some video of Jacob walking, and a bunch of pictures from a busy long weekend in Buffalo to share, and I just haven't taken the time to pull anything off the camera. Things are a little busy these days with trying to get our house ready to put on the market. It looks like we're pretty close to officially plunging into this chaos, even though we're not sure that the house we like is IT. It's still out there waiting for us, which is nice, but we still have a couple reservations and we're still keeping our eyes open. Of course, most of what we're seeing in our price range is bigger than what we have now, but just as old and generally in need of updates. That just isn't going to do it for us. While we may not be in a position to be picky, we've already done a lot of updates on our current house and the threat of more is part of what's motivating us to look elsewhere. We've done a lot and are ready for a break! We really want a place that has less to do...and nothing that needs to be done right now. We want the luxury of being able to replace or add "fun" things, instead of facing major, expensive projects. And with one kid and another on the horizon in the next couple years, the last thing we want is a house that's got issues. We want a little more space and less stress. Hopefully that's not too much to ask. As much as I am the last person to want to rush things, I'm thinking it might be a good idea to get the house on the market in the next couple weeks so any listing photos can be taken before I start decorating for Christmas. We were encouraged to keep decorations to a minimum (the tree is fine), but I'd like to put up a few things so it feels Christmas-y and Jacob has a few things to look at. I suppose keeping a lot of the fragile stuff put away this year probably isn't a bad idea anyway. But with all the de-cluttering I've been trying to do, the last thing I want to do is negate it all with Christmas decorations. So I keep trying to motivate myself to do at least one thing each evening after Jacob goes to bed. This weekend was a break from it all, and now I feel like I have twice as much to do since I didn't have the weekend to catch up on all of the usual stuff. So, that's my extra-long explanation of why I've been a little infrequent with posts lately.

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

Our Growing Boy

There are so many times recently where I've found myself just watching Jacob, amazed at the little boy he's become. First and foremost, I'm sure walking has contributed to this. If I haven't mentioned it, Jacob is walking a lot now. Just about a couple weeks ago he really got going, walking more than crawling, and doing it on his own without our encouragement. Once in a while he still reverts to crawling, but for the most part he's very content walking these days. He's doing very well when he's holding a hand, which I love. Not only is it so cute, but it's a nice break for my poor arms. He's still a skinny little boy but I think he's filling out a bit and (hopefully) gaining a little more weight. Some moments he still seems light as a feather, and others I feel like I can barely support him with my arm anymore. If nothing else, it's nice to know I have options now when transporting him.

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

Raising a Violent Child?

Ok, so, the last couple days, life with Jacob has been a little difficult. I don't know if it's teething or the seemingly constant stream of realtors visiting our house in the evenings, or what, but Jacob has been a challenge. He's been throwing his cup a lot more at dinner, refusing to eat what we're eating after a few bites, getting angry in an instant, and throwing whatever is in his hand....hard. We're a little stumped as to why he's all of a sudden acting out. While he may have had moments like this before, they were few and far between. He just seems a bit irrational these days. I can't help but wonder where the temper came from all of a sudden.

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

Halloween Weekend

Well, this weekend didn't turn out quite like I thought it would. But yet, it still turned out to be a pretty darn good weekend. After a busy and stressful week (still worrying about all of this house stuff), I was really looking forward to Friday. I got to dress up for work (I was a Deal or No Deal model, complete with case #7...I even won a prize!) and Jacob got to wear pajamas to daycare for their second annual pajama party day. Not having to worry about sending his Halloween costume there was a godsend! It ended up being a great day full of food and fun, and we had a nice evening out to dinner before going home and relaxing!

Saturday we had to be up bright and early because the realtor was coming to check out our house and give us suggestions of what we might need to do before putting it on the market. The meeting was good--she thinks our house is in great shape, though an inspector may have another opinion--but we still have about a million questions running through our minds. Jacob took a long nap in the afternoon that afforded me the opportunity to do some running around. I researched new car seats and did some shoe shopping, and he was in a good mood when I got home. We grabbed a quick dinner and then it was time to do a quick pumpkin carving (I ran out of time to do it earlier in the week) and get Jacob ready for a couple houses worth of trick or treating. We were just about to do some last minute pictures before going out, and all of a sudden I heard a thump. Jacob fell into our storm door and cut his lip on the metal bar that controls how quickly the door closes. He was bleeding pretty good and screaming like crazy. Craig and I were pretty frazzled, just trying to get a good look at it (you know how blood channels wherever it's wet? That made it look a lot worse than it was) and eventually trying to get him out of his costume and start icing it down. He bled on his costume a bit (got it out pretty well, I think) and it took a freeze pop to ice it, but eventually he calmed down and it stopped bleeding. Still, we called the doctor and they said that if the edges were split open, that we needed to take him to the emergency room. Ugh. Still, the bleeding had stopped and he seemed to be doing ok, so I got him back in his costume and took him across the street and next door to get in his first trick or treating. Good thing we did, because those great neighbors I mentioned in the post about our househunting had this nice baggie full of stuff for him--animal crackers, wafer cookies, and a couple easy to eat candies. So nice. See why I'm hesitant to leave them? They were sad to hear we were looking, too.

Anyway, after stopping at the next door neighbors' as well, we went home, took off the costume, and headed out to the ER. Craig remarked that it was like an episode of "ER", going to there on Halloween. Fortunately, it wasn't very busy. We were in and out in about an hour, and Jacob seemed to brighten the night of every staffer there just by walking around and smiling. It was really cute. They decided he didn't need a stitch, so we paid our co-pay (ugh) and went home. At least we had peace of mind, and we're so lucky it wasn't worse. Jacob was great through it all and he fell asleep on the way home. Since the disaster prevented us from getting any good Halloween pictures, I took one of my sleepy little boy and his fat lip...

Since it's a little hard to see, here's a zoomed in version:
The cut goes up under the lip a bit, and there is a purple bruise inside his mouth where his teeth must have hit when he fell. Ouch. The swelling was down by yesterday morning, and it seems to be healing nicely. It hasn't seemed to bother him at all. Once he was in bed, we finished off Halloween night by watching Monsters vs. Aliens...cute movie. Odd concept, but we loved the blue blob :)

Yesterday ended up being a little wacky. Not sure if it was the time change or what. We got up for church just fine. Jacob usually falls asleep on the way home from church and seemed well on his way when we left church yesterday, but he was still awake when we got home and was all of a sudden chipper again. So, we ran out and did a couple errands at the mall (the rest of my shoe shopping, socks for Jacob, and a phone charger for Craig). Jacob fell asleep on the way home that time and then proceeded to sleep through lunch. Oops. I was really starting to get nervous about how the rest of the day would go when he was still sleeping at 2:30! While he slept we ate lunch, watched the Bills game, and I got caught up on a bunch of newspapers and other stuff I'd been meaning to read. Jacob finally woke up, ate his lunch no problem, and then we were off to another open house. We knew this one was a bit out of our price range, but it was close by and I wanted to see if the extra $13,000 more it cost over the other one we're looking at made a big difference. Sure, the living room and kitchen were gorgeous, and two of the three bedrooms were big, the bathrooms were newer and the house was generally very nice....but the basement was crappy and the third bedroom was tiny. But really, for about $200 more per month, nah. Don't get me wrong...I'd live there in a heartbeat. But given the cost and the couple things I didn't like, it wouldn't be my first choice. Still, Jacob liked the stairs a lot and it was, as always, an educational experience. We're still pretty stuck at the moment, but we're waiting on a few answers so we shall see...

Once we got home we headed out to the backyard to play in the leaves. Well, Craig was raking and bagging, and I did a little raking to make some piles for Jacob so I could snap a couple pictures of him. Here are the best of the best...
He's helping put the leaves in the bag in this one...

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 :)

We finished off the day with a good dinner and a bath for Jacob. After Jacob was in bed, Craig and I attempted to catch up on some TV. We both fell asleep during the second show, sometime before 11pm. I guess it was a busy weekend for all of us!