Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We interrupt this vacation coverage...

...to bring you a post about my birthday, which is, in fact, today. I will get back to the end of the vacation review soon, I swear.

I'm not sure how I feel about my birthday this year. Each year it seems to become subsequently less exciting. I don't know if it's simply about getting older, or the lack of exciting presents and parties compared to childhood, or just that there's more going on in my life these days. And since I wasn't really alert on the day I was born, it doesn't seem as significant...at least not compared to, say, Jacob's birthday, which celebrates a moment I was very much present for and aware of. I think in general parenthood makes you less self-centered, almost to your own detriment at times, so I suppose it's only natural that your own birthday pales in comparison to those of the ones you love. Maybe it's a little bit of all of these elements. I'm more distracted in general, and there isn't really a lot of hoopla surrounding my birthday to distract me back. Sure, we'll probably go to dinner tonight (just me and Craig....more in a bit about why that will be a treat) and have some form of cake, and I did enjoy (and am still enjoying) the overwhelming group of birthday greetings via Facebook today. I could hardly keep up with the flood of emails into my inbox notifying me of all those well-wishes. But is it the same excitement level as being a kid and having a party with gifts and cake? Not quite.

I think part of my frustration this year is that I'm getting older, yet we're stuck in this holding pattern right now. We want to have another baby, and the clock is ticking on my ideal timing season-wise. Despite the glut of May-June-July birthdays in our family, I still want to aim for that period because I want to have a baby when it's nice out and I can enjoy maternity leave in good weather. All of my maternity clothes and Jacob's clothes are sort of set on certain sizes for certain seasons, and if possible I'd like to stick with that so I can reuse as much as possible next time around. It's just sensible, if nothing else. But we are in a holding pattern because we don't have the money for another kid in daycare and our salaries are close enough that one of us quitting takes away 50% of our income, which just isn't feasible. I also have nearly daily reminders that one kid stresses me out enough, so how on earth would I deal with the exhaustion and stress and daily task list that come with TWO? And, of course, there's always the fear that even if we figure out a way to do it, something will go wrong--miscarriage, lost job, etc.--that would throw things off-kilter again. We try to plan our lives so perfectly, and when it doesn't work out that way, it's a disaster.

Now, ultimately I know that God has us covered, one way or another, and things always seem to work out. But the passage of time makes me nervous and the time where you are, in essence, waiting for Him to "do His thing" isn't the easiest. I stressed over the house situation, and in time we found the perfect one, right down to something as random as the hook hanging in Jacob's future bedroom. It's the same kind of hook I had commitment issues about hanging in his room at our old house because I wasn't sure if we'd like what was hanging from it (a mesh toy storage thing I got at IKEA) or what damage it might do to our ceiling. His future room (the bigger room he'll graduate to if/when baby #2 comes along) already has one there, pre-installed and ready to go if we decide we want to use it. Weird how stuff like that works. And I know this baby/work situation will probably be the same in the long run. It will work out better than I could possibly imagine. Will there be hardship and stress along the way? Perhaps. But all of that will play into His perfect plan--so even if it doesn't seem perfect in the short term, or involves some long-term pain--ultimately the hardships will serve a purpose for His bigger plan. Not always the way we want it, but perfect for where He wants us to go...and therefore I guess we can have a sense of peace in everything.

Still, this year's birthday finds me all caught up in MY plan, and it's a little hard to match up the two right now. I'm probably also a little down because Jacob was a beast last night. We went out to use my free birthday entree coupon at Moe's. We went on Monday because it was Kids Eat Free Night, but it turned out we could only use one discount or another...so annoying. Regardless, Jacob was brutal. He wouldn't sit in a high chair at all, so we decided to try the booster seat, which he's done before with mixed success. He spent most of the meal contorting himself out of it, refusing to eat his food, complaining because he wanted the cookie that came with his meal, and eventually screaming and hitting. It was horrible. Add in a rough bedtime (as usually happens when he falls asleep in the car shortly before bedtime and wakes up when we get home), and it made for a rough night. I blame myself for at least some of Jacob's tantrum issues, because I admit I don't always keep my cool very well when he acts up. I try, but past a certain point it's hard. He does get spanked, probably more often than we'd like, but we do try to keep it to safety concerns (when he attempts to run into the street or reach up toward the stove, for example) or direct defiance (when we tell him not to do something and he knowingly does it anyway). I'm starting to think that it's probably not the way to get through to him, as it hasn't worked too fantastically thus far, but we're at a loss because nothing else seems to work either. No matter how we try to encourage and reward good behavior or take away priviledges or make him sit (not an official timeout yet--but, for example, back in house from playing baseball outside) for bad behavior, nothing seems to sink in. But perhaps spanking has already taught him that hitting's ok (even though we constantly tell him not to hit) and it's created a whole new set of problems now that he hits back. He has no empathy yet (which is typical for the age) and has a mind of his own, so it's hard to keep him in check...and in public it can be downright embarrassing. It's extremely difficult and disheartening. And it doesn't help when most people I hear from here and there say that age three is worse. Fantastic. On a funny note, Jacob was making himself a couple girlfriends during the few minutes he was almost behaving. There were two college age girls sitting outside the restaurant on the patio, and he was making cute faces at them through the window. They thought he was so cute, and of course then he turned into shy boy. Silly kid.

And finally, the fact that I sat at my desk all day with all of the other people in my department on vacation was a little sad. I did get a call at the end of the day from my big boss in Toronto who found out it was my birthday, so that was nice. But it was a quiet and fairly frustrating day at work with a full day's worth of projects I wasn't planning on. Spoiled as it sounds, I'm not used to having to be functional on my birthday. I didn't have school on my birthday until my senior year of college, and even in the years that have followed I've managed to snag a decent number of weekend birthdays, most recently my 30th--also the day of Jacob's Christening. It's a little culture shock, I guess :)

Long story short, it's kind of an odd birthday. I'm hoping it gets better into this evening...we shall see!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vacation Recap - Pittsburgh, Day Three

Tuesday was our last day in Pittsburgh. It was another dreary day, but supposedly the rain was supposed to hold off until the afternoon, so we figured the zoo was in order. It's normally not the cheapest of activities (the family of, I think, one senior, two adults and three kids in line next to us was over $70!), but thanks to our membership at the zoo in Rochester, we got in for FREE. Woohoo! And while the Pittsburgh zoo is a nice zoo, I'm sort of happy we didn't have to pay. See, it's sort of a unique zoo in that they try to make the habitats as natural as possible. There are lots of wild grasses and things are built into the naturally hilly landscape. I'd have to think it's also an older zoo, because there are a lot of old rock walls separating people from animals. The biggest issue with all of this is that it gives the animals a lot of places to hide, and it's hard to get your kid in a stroller in any sort of reasonable position to see a lot of the animals. Jacob probably would have been in and out of the stroller all day anyway, but we HAD to pick him up a lot of the time because otherwise it was impossible to see anything. Even the monkey house makes me nuts, because the enclosures are a couple stories tall, with the observation area being about halfway up. They've slanted the windows in such a way that any kid near the ground can see almost nothing, and adults have to do a serious lean to see any monkeys hanging out on the floor. Annoying. I'm also a bit perplexed about how lazy the animals are there. Last year when we were there it was a HOT day, so I'd expect laziness. This time it was not, and yet the animals just weren't all that interesting. Odd. We did manage to see both the male and female lions very well, a glimpse of a snow leopard, a decent view of a tiger, some relatively active elephants, and some giraffes. The monkey house was disappointing, as half of them were sleeping and the other half weren't very visible--orangutans at the bottom of their enclosure, and gorillas either sitting or hiding out in their natural habitat. It was all fine, but just not quite the sizzle you hope from a big-city zoo.

However, the whole second half of the zoo is generally well worth admission, at least for our family's tastes. The zoo includes the PPG Aquarium, a lovely, modern aquarium with many cool features. Here's a picture of it from the walkway above...

The entrance has lovely waterfalls and ponds, and if you look at last year's post you can see the picture I took of Jacob in front of the otter statue. Here's the 2010 version, complete with baseball swing:
Once inside there are many tanks of unique fish--creepy sea dragons that look like plants but seem to be a bit like giant seahorses, turtles, eels, crazy colored starfish, an octopus (which, considering Jacob's obsession with octopi, was a little disappointing considering it was suctioned to the near upper corner of the tank, almost out of sight), and some really fun and active penguins. Unfortunately, a lot of the tanks are set up in a way that it is really hard to get a good picture considering darkness and flash reflection. There's also a two story aquarium with massive fish, and this lovely walkthrough rainforest-y type area heading down to the lower story (you come in up top, thanks to the hilly landscape). On the way down there are more tanks, including one with a stingray that really seemed to like Jacob. He swam right up and even tried climbing the glass so we got a great glimpse of his belly and mouth. Here he is...

Down below there's also a stingray tank with a crawl-through area and open tanks to touch the rays. We didn't trust Jacob to do the crawl-through on his own yet, nor did the big kids in it seem willing to move for a little guy. Maybe next time. On the way to this area, Jacob had a massive run-in with a woman walking through this open area. As usual, he wasn't watching where he was going, and he ran smack into her and fell hard. Then shortly after the picture below, he stepped off the step leading up to the touch tank without watching where he was going and fell HARD. Really hard. On tile. Poor kid, he is so clumsy. He was not a happy camper...until we walked him into the store, that is. Fortunately he had so much fun playing with the stuffed animals that he didn't end up begging us to buy him one, even though at that point we probably would have. He fell so hard that people actually came up to us after asking if he was ok. Ugh. Anyway, here he is in between falls checking out another stingray...

Outside of the aquarium are the polar bears and sea otters, as well as a giant shark tank that can be seen from the outside (see below) and from a giant walk-through tunnel down below. It may be a little hard to see, but depending on your screen brightness you may see a clear-as-day view of a shark!

There was one part of the zoo that we didn't get to last year due to rain and our schedule. It turned out that it was a pretty cool part. There were sea lions, and here's Jacob playing on a statue nearby. And yes, Craig is on the phone in the background, one of only a couple times I had to give him the "glare" to get off the phone and stop working!
This isn't a great picture, but Jacob loved the slides in this section. They had two smaller ones for little kids, and a few bigger ones (as well as a massive rope net climb) for bigger kids.

Again, this might be hard to see, but here are some river otters. The one on top seemed to be wanting to go for a swim, but kept settling back down. The one on the bottom (lighter brown) just kept snuggling in and trying to find a comfortable spot. We watched them (plus a third) for a long time hoping someone would swim!

Across from the otters were beavers, and beyond that there was a walk-through deer area and an aviary, as well as goats, sheep, a camel and a llama. By the time we got through all of that, it was nearly 4pm and it was time to head out. Jacob was beat and so were we...but a 5-1/2 hour drive still awaited. Ugh.

Jacob fell asleep almost immediately, and I drove the leg out of Pittsburgh. We got to the Grove City Outlets and decided to take a quick break to check a couple things there. Jacob woke up just as we got there. Definitely not a long enough nap for him, but it was late in the day so I guess it was just as well. Twenty minutes and one gift purchase later, it was back in the car for another hour or so. Our plan was to stop outside of Erie to eat at a Cici's Pizza, which if you've seen their commercials, you know is a fantastic pizza-pasta-salad buffet, all for $5. We ate at one when we went to Florida when I was newly pregnant, and it was HEAVEN after a long flight and with my bottomless pit of a stomach at that point in the pregnancy. I've been wanting to get back to one ever since (and now there's one in Syracuse, too!), and we made sure to schedule this one in. We ate a ton--though my stomach wished it was bigger because there were so many good pizzas, including mac & cheese pizza, buffalo chicken, and so many other pizzas I rarely get to eat because Craig is a pepperoni kind of guy--and eventually headed off. Craig drove the tough span from Erie to Buffalo because I needed a break. We kept Jacob occupied with the DVD player, among other things, and ended up driving to my parents' house for yet another break and to pick up some things I left with them after the picnic on Saturday that I didn't want to drive all the way to Pittsburgh with--namely, a huge portion of my cookie cake and Jacob's lacrosse sticks. It was a nice break but it also meant we didn't get home until after midnight. Fortunately Jacob fell asleep right after we left my parents', and stayed asleep once we got home. Whew.

It marked the end of a long journey, but our vacation still had one more day of togetherness left...more on that soon!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Vacation Recap, Part Three - Pittsburgh, Day Two

Monday did not start out well. Jacob was cranky as usual about his clothes (lately he's been insisting on wearing a "baseball shirt", and has funny criteria for what that might entail), but at least he did well at breakfast at the hotel. We headed off to make our 10:30 duck boat reservation, but thanks to detours and a general lack of useful signage in Pittsburgh, we got lost (again) and ended up just missing our boat. Literally, they were raising the ladder as we arrived and wouldn't lower it. Fortunately we managed to reserve seats at noon, but that definitely put a crimp in our schedule. In the meantime, Jacob frolicked around Station Square. I sat on a bench and nearly lost it--it had been a rough 24 hours or so, let's put it that way. While I moped, I did take a couple pictures of the boys enjoying the dancing fountains. Of course, shortly after this picture, the fountains turned off momentarily and scared the crap out of Jacob when they started again. He came running to me for safety. I needed the hug.
Shortly after that, it started raining. Lovely. We headed across the street to the shopping complex at Station Square. We killed some time in the sports shops, and gave Jacob his first ride on a motorized kiddie ride. I figured we'd try to get some joy out of the mess created by missing our boat. He really enjoyed it, and sadly enough in the state I was in, it was well worth the 50 cents. He even put his arm around Garfield later in the ride...too cute.
While we waited for our boat, we re-did our schedule for the day based on the crappy weather and change our boat ride. The zoo came out and the Heinz Museum came in. The zoo would wait for tomorrow when the weather was supposed to be better. Fortunately the duck boat had a cover, so any rain wouldn't be an issue for this part of the day. Here are Jacob and me waiting to board the boat...
In case you're unaware, duck boats were vessels created for World War II that can go on land or in water. I have no idea what their true purpose was, because they're SLOW in the water. So slow that they let kids drive the boat themselves while it was in the water because they could do very little damage. Anyway, in cities near water, there are often duck boat tours that take you through city streets and then into the water. They're a nice way to get a general tour and some random, little known facts about the city you're visiting. The guides are generally funny (or at least, they attempt to be funny) and they make you quack at people on the street. Odd, but entertaining for an hour. Here's an outside view from the tour of the baseball stadium, complete with Honus Wagner statue out front...
I have a lot of other pictures from the tour that I will eventually post to Facebook, but most of the land ones are blurry because we were moving and the water ones aren't that exciting...some of Heinz Field, the football stadium for the Steelers, the kid-friendly Carnegie Museum, and a couple other random monuments along the river, as well as a few city shots that aren't much different than what you saw in the baseball shot from yesterday. It was a good tour and I highly recommend it. Jacob did pretty well, though he got pretty antsy by the time we hit the water about 30 minutes in. We kept him occupied with goldfish, and other than a few ear-piercing screams, he did ok.
We were starving by the time we got back to Station Square and hit up Joe's Crab Shack for lunch. We figured it was a good bet because Jacob seriously devoured their mac & cheese last year. Figures that he would hardly eat anything this time around. Craig and I shared two delicious entrees, though--one fantastic cheesy Cajun chicken dish in particular. Sufficiently full, we headed back to the car and headed to the Heinz History Center, a museum named after Senator Heinz, the one who died in a plane crash and whose widow married former presidential candidate John Kerry. The museum has quite a bit of Pennsylvania-focused history, but the main attraction is the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum. Craig had been there before and promised Jacob would like it. He slept the whole drive there and for a little while once we were in the museum, but woke up just as we were getting into the elevator to hit up our first exhibit. Not enough of a nap, but we'll take what we can get. The museum features a lot of different exhibits besides the sports section--a glass exhibit that reminded me of a miniature Corning Museum, some history, some nostalgia pieces, a couple Mr. Rogers things (he was from that area), lots of hands-on kid-friendly activities, and, of course, a large exhibit on the Heinz company, ketchup and all. Again, I took a ton of pictures here but most of them will be relegated to Facebook since this blog is supposed to be more about Jacob than Mommy's fascination with glass and playing around with digital photography. Anyway, here are the boys playing football. I think I got the ball in the hole before Craig did...ha!
On the same day as his first mechanical kiddie ride, Jacob got his second. This speedboat was only 1 cent! We let him ride twice :)
Here's Craig pretending to be Stanley Cup winner and former Buffalo Sabre Tom Barrasso...
Here's Jacob crawling through a tunnel in a little playground area in a kid-friendly area...
Here's Jacob with a stuffed bear that, like the Parrot, he wanted to hug. This one's a little less snuggly-looking, though.
In a main room on the first floor, there were some larger pieces--a fire engine, an old Heinz cart, and an old bus or streetcar. Jacob really liked it, presumably because he loves riding the bus at daycare. He didn't want to get off!
After the museum we headed back to the hotel to regroup. While we were there, Jacob decided he wanted to use the potty. We sat him down on it, and suddenly he was pooping! That was the first time he ever did that! We celebrated and made a big deal of it, but I guess the kicker is that traveling is not the best time to do hardcore potty training. Not that I think he's even remotely ready for that, but it would have been nice to try and capitalize on success. He did get a cool prize for his achievement (a Club Penguin hockey figure to add to his crazy hockey game on our living room floor that I got a while back and was saving for his first poop), and he did do a great pee on the froggy potty Thursday night. Small steps, I guess.
After our big moment, we headed out to go to Steak 'N Shake and IKEA. They're both located in the same strip mall area about 15 minutes from our hotel. Steak 'N Shake has delicious burgers and these skinny little fries (like McDonald's, but thinner), and apparently their shakes are amazing (they do two flavors side-by-side in the same glass) but I've never had one. Probably because I eat too much and never have room. After dinner we headed over to IKEA, just to walk around. I wanted to pick up a catalog and check on a couple things (got the A-OK from Craig on the kitchen table set I want to buy...now I just have to find a way to get it and bring it home), and figured we could top it off with some $1 frozen yogurt on the way out. Oh, and I wanted to get some of their cinnamon rolls, because the take-home ones are so much better in the states than in Canada. I freeze them and microwave them up when the mood strikes. The IKEA visit also worked out well because the ride back provided a perfect opportunity for Jacob to fall asleep. After the night before, we didn't want to go through another marathon session. The car ride seemed like a perfect solution. I'm happy to report it worked like a charm. He stayed asleep, and slept in the pack and play all night. Craig and I could finally share a bed and all was right with the world. Day two of our trip was complete...and on to the zoo tomorrow!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Vacation Recap, Part Two - Pittsburgh, Day One

We got up bright and early on Sunday and loaded in the car for the trip to Pittsburgh. It was a gray and rainy drive, but by the time we hit the part of the trip where it really begins to drag (somewhere between Erie and, say, Grove City) it started to clear up. By the time we got to Pittsburgh, it was a pleasant sunny day. And by the time we got to the stadium, it was scorching hot. It was probably only in the low 80s, but there's just something about being in that stadium that makes things feel so much hotter. We've experienced it every time we've been there, and we're starting to think we should stick to night games. Of course, the main reason we had picked this game and this weekend was because the giveaway was a catcher's chest protector backpack. We thought Jacob would love it, and sure enough, he did. We were excited to get in, get one of those, and then find some food...even though it was game time. Oh, and did I mention that I totally stressed out once we got into Pittsburgh because we got a little lost and then couldn't find convenient parking? It was pretty horrible because I was sure we were going to miss the giveaway and miss the beginning of the game. We got the giveaway, but we didn't get to watch intros and all that...though we could hear them as we walked through the stadium and looked for food. We settled on the same thing we ate last year--a small pizza--and at least got a little food in our stomachs.

We finally headed off to our seats and had the same lovely view that we usually do... Jacob became immediately enamored with the Pirate Parrot, and kept saying all day how he wanted to "hug him". Too cute. Unfortunately, the Parrot never got close enough to hug, and the stuffed ones were $20. Grrrr. At least we got a decent view of him during this promotion--I think he was shooting hot dogs into the stands!
We actually didn't watch too much of the game because it was so hot sitting in the seats. We got there just as the game was starting, and once we ate and sat it was already the third inning. I made us sit there through the sixth inning, I think, when the pierogy race took place (I mentioned this last year--they have gigantic plush pierogies that race around the stadium--awesome), and then we got up to cool off and head to the team store. Jacob was a disaster in the store, touching everything and wanting balls, bats, and whatever else. We headed out of there quickly and decided to walk to the other end of the stadium to visit the kids area. First, we stopped for a photo op in an area that honors some legendary baseball players (I think at least some are negro league players).

The playground was less successful than we hoped. Jacob played a bit on the playground but seems to have developed a fear of slides so he generally just walks back and forth between sections and never wants to slide down. Then we took him over to the little kiddie baseball diamond, but some bigger kids were hogging it and Jacob couldn't understand why he couldn't be the pitcher. Still, he got in a swing or two on his own...
By the time we finished in the kids' area, it was getting close to the end of the game so we figured we better start lining up for the postgame running of the bases. Of course, we're used to the Sunday base running in Rochester, or maybe back from my intern days with the Buffalo Bisons. We weren't quite prepared for base running in a major league park with 40,000 people. By the time we got over there just as the game was ending, the line was wrapped halfway around the stadium. Oh crap. Jacob was tired and we knew he wouldn't wait well. Still, we managed to survive and the line ended up moving pretty quickly. We got to go in one of the back tunnels of the stadium and pop out at the end of the first base line. We walked along the base line up to home plate where Jacob and Craig started their run. Jacob didn't make it far before he was cranky about something. Craig had to pick him up and carry him most of the way. That pretty much sums up Jacob these days--try to do something fun and he finds a way to make it un-fun. He did manage to run from third to home, but then proceeded to attempt a run to the pitcher's mound, which is a serious run-the-bases no-no. Heck, I once fell flat on my face when I was a Bisons intern trying to stop a kid from taking a second run around...but touch the grass, oh no! Here's a shot just before Jacob nearly touched home (he's behind the second kid in white--Craig is in the black Pirates shirt and plaid shorts) and veered off toward the mound. The girls in yellow freaked out. Craig finally corraled him and we headed out. Of course, Jacob said he wanted to do it again (ummm, hello, you barely did it the one time you had the chance) and repeatedly told us how much fun he had at the baseball game and running the bases. ::Sigh::

Jacob was asleep shortly upon our exit from the stadium, and we decided to attempt to walk to dinner. Based on where we had parked, I knew where there was a Primanti Bros. location within walking distance. It was in the same area as the Moe's that I ate at last year with Craig's mom and sister-in-law, when we took an evening shopping trip to Macy's. Here's a picture of it from last year's trip... Fortunately, I was right and we found it easily. We walked right there, found seats on the patio, and sat down to order two of their famous sandwiches. You may have seen them on the Food Network. They're the ones that put french fries ON the sandwich. I ordered the classic one with a burger in it, and Craig got one with grilled chicken. They're supposed to come with coleslaw and tomatoes on the sandwich as well, but neither of us wanted coleslaw (next time I'll try it) and they forgot to give me tomatoes because Craig didn't get them either. But yeah, it's a burger, cheese and french fries on thick slices of french bread. YUM.
And this was the setting in which we ate it. It was lovely. Beautiful weather and a nice mix of modern and classic architecture...felt very city-ish.
I said on the way home that that meal was one of the highlights of our trip. Jacob slept through the whole thing so it was just a pleasant, uninterrupted, stress-free meal with good food. Of course, because Jacob slept through the meal, that left us with a couple other problems. We had to find him dinner and deal with the repercussions of a late afternoon nap. We headed to our hotel, which was a cheap Days Inn just outside the city. We drove up the strip a little further to survey our options, and settled on getting him a Subway kids' meal. It came with a baseball themed reusable bag, so I guess that was cool. And with milk and apples, it wasn't a bad meal for him. Once we were in the hotel room, he got settled right on one of the beds, asked for his bib (which he tore off at every other meal the whole trip) and started chowing down. How cute is this?
After his dinner, Jacob was very active all evening. Somehow our small hotel room contained him, but I feel bad for our neighbors. Between my coughing and Jacob's yelling, they must have hated us. Here's Jacob in his new "chest protector" (his freebie backpack), hat on backwards, glove in hand, playing catcher.
That night Jacob became increasingly frustrating because he didn't want to go to bed. We turned off the lights, pretended to go to bed ourselves, and nothing worked. He was up until at least 10:45, at which point he had climbed out of his pack and play onto the bed it butted up against, and snuggled with Craig. He and Craig slept in that bed together all night. I slept in my own bed but slept horribly because I was stressed about Jacob's bad behavior and the fact that he got to sleep in "daddy bed" for the night. Fortunately, it didn't start a bad trend...he's slept in his own bed ever since, mostly without issue (other than six wakeups overnight from Wednesday to Thursday...ugh).

So, that was our Sunday. It was quite a day. Believe it or not, Monday was even busier...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vacation Recap, Part One

Wow, what a week it's been. Sorry that I went more than a week between posts, but it turns out I didn't have a lot of free time on my vacation. I don't think I took one nap in the past week, which is truly a shame, isn't it? Despite a couple dud days, we did manage to pack plenty into our week off. It certainly wasn't long enough. I hadn't had a group of days off like that since Christmas, when our office closes for the week (though we have to make up that time, either by working more beforehand or taking vacation days), so it was our first extended period of time with Jacob in eight months. That's a lot of pressure! We started out our vacation week with a trip to Auburn, NY on Wednesday night. Craig had a Knighthawk throwing out the first pitch (lacrosse style, with his stick) at the Auburn Doubledays game. They're a single A team so it's on a bit of a smaller scale than we're used to, but we had a lot of fun. It probably helped that they treated us like royalty. The assistant GM is a former Amerks employee, and he hooked us up--two hats, a bat and ball set for Jacob, and free food all night. We had prime seats in the first row, right near home plate. Here's Jacob meeting the mascot. I think Abner was catching a pretend hit from Jacob. Here's Jacob in our prime seats, one hand on his bat, the other in the popcorn, and his eye on the action.
Here's the two of us in a rare successful self-portrait...

We had a great time but it made for a late night. Jacob freaked out about getting changed when we got back to the car, and it was a tough hour-plus drive home.

Thursday ended up being a dud. I finally decided to call the doctor to get my own nasty cough checked out, and the appointment was pretty much in the middle of the day which took away all motivation to schedule something fun. Jacob just wanted to play baseball outside (I think he and Craig did it three separate times that day) and was otherwise cranky. We had a lazy morning (and for some reason, it just wasn't the good kind), had lunch, did naptime, and I was off to the doctor. I ended up on a nose spray that I have to use until November and antibiotics, just in case. The doctor wasn't really sure what was going on, but since Jacob was already on them, she figured it was a good risk. I'm rarely on antibiotics anyway, so I agreed. I still have a bit of a cough, but now it's mostly mucus-induced, rather than those dry, tickle-induced coughing fits that made people think I had the plague. It's probably just allergies. Lovely. I think we ate in both meals that day and everything was just low-key...but not relaxing. Ugh.

Friday I was determined to do things better, and we got going first thing in the morning so we could make it to miniature golf before there was anyone on the course that Jacob could annoy. I had it in my mind that I wanted to introduce him to mini golf during our vacation, mostly because his hockey style isn't that far off and I hope to take him mini golfing for many years to come. We went to a place that's practically around the corner from us. We opted to go on the portion of the course with bridges and waterfalls and a cave (I think the former Putt Putt on Sheridan Drive in Amherst--now an Adventure Landing like ours, I believe--has similar theming, but the terrain at ours is generally less flat). Jacob got his own little putter and we gave him a crash course in putting. He picked it up pretty quickly, but he also had a tendency to pick up his ball. He'd do an initial putt, but then inevitably would run to his ball, pick it up, and put it three inches from the hole and putt it in from there. He'd also chase after our balls and pick them up. Hmmm. So, yeah, this is why I wanted to go when there would be no one else there. All in all, he seemed to have a lot of fun. He got a little out of hand near the end when we got to a hole with easily accessible water, but it wasn't too bad. He even got a hole in one with Craig's help. Neither of us got one, so he beat us there. Here he is with his putter...

And here's his putt-and-chase technique in action...
And here are the boys on one of the bridges...
We ended up going out for our favorite weekday-off lunch at the Pizza Hut buffet--the beginning of bad eating for the rest of the week--and then I spent the afternoon and evening doing yard work and packing for our trip. I also baked a homemade cookie cake (like the ones at the mall) to take to a family reunion on Saturday. It was a busy but productive day, and I don't mind those--though a nap would have been awesome.

Saturday we spent the morning packing up to head off to Buffalo for the first leg of our trip. The plan was for Craig to go to his cousin's bachelor party while Jacob and I headed off to a family reunion in East Aurora. We would meet back up at Craig's parents' house to sleep, then head out early to make it to Pittsburgh in time for an afternoon baseball game. We didn't get on the road on Saturday until early afternoon, and the weather was SO dreary. It didn't make for the most festive of starts to the vacation, I'll say that much. We got to Buffalo and dropped Craig off, and then Jacob and I headed down Route 20 to the picnic. We were later than I wanted to be, but it was ok because my parents didn't get there until a little after us, as they were coming from a picnic they went to near Geneseo...on the other side of Route 20! The day was pretty much spent with Jacob running around and playing any sport of his choosing, from baseball to lacrosse to badminton. Here he is in a baseball moment... Sometimes I was playing with him, sometimes my parents, sometimes his cousins. It's always nice to spread it around. At least it gave me some time to catch up with family. My mom ended up giving him a couple time-outs when he wouldn't stop hitting the net with his badminton racket, and he didn't want to eat much except for dessert, so he was a little difficult that day despite the massive amount of free play. We stayed until dark, at which point it started raining, and then headed back to Craig's parents'. Jacob slept most of the way home, but woke up as I was getting him ready for bed. It took a lot of cuddling and a lot of patience, but eventually he did fall asleep...in his pack and play, no less. Whew. Craig got back around midnight, and after a good night's sleep we were off to Pittsburgh. More on that soon!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We're home...

We got home from our busy long weekend late last night (seriously--it was after midnight) and I'm still playing catch up a bit. I'd like to do something fun today but so far it hasn't happened. Jacob still needs to nap (he slept until almost 9 today, so an early nap was not in the cards) and I have a lot of stuff I'd like to do while he's doing that. Let's hope he will nap and I can get things done and put a plan together for some fun later. It's been a busy week and I'm hoping to get pictures downloaded and some reasonably decent summary written at some point in the next day or two, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hello, Amoxicillin...

Jacob and I have both been sick for weeks. He started first with a cough and a runny nose. I started shortly thereafter with the same. Of course, I've had allergy issues all along as well, so I have no idea if the cold ever went away or not. The cough is just miserable. As I type right now my head is pounding from all the coughing. Jacob's had his cough for weeks now, which is nothing out of the ordinary except that he usually only has it during cold season. Twice since the cough started he's had thick greenish mucus. The first time we were told he just had a virus. When it started again over the weekend, I could merely just shake my head. Poor kid.

Well, tonight right before dinner Jacob was sitting in his high chair waiting to eat, and suddenly started crying and grabbing his ear. He was trying to dig into it and was whining miserably. Uh-oh. After dinner I called the doctor and Craig took him in. Sure enough, double ear infection. Nasty one in the left ear that he was grabbing at, and an average one in his right ear. Had it not been for tonight's incident, I never would have known--though with the return of green mucus, I was on the verge of calling the doctor again anyway. I know he slept crappy the other night, but he was generally in good spirits when he was awake--wanting to be with us, but not complaining or whining about discomfort. Other than that he's slept well, so how would I have known? God only knows how long it's been there. I sometimes wonder if he's just so used to being uncomfortable from all the issues he's had that some stuff just doesn't phase him anymore. Ouch. So, now we'll be dragging an icy cooler along with us to Pittsburgh this weekend to keep the Amoxicillin chilled. Two doses a day for 10 days. It's 7mL this time, which I know has to be considerably more than he got last time. Luckily, he loves the taste. I think I've said this before on here, but seriously, where were all these good flavors when I was a kid? So, hopefully he's on his way to getting healthy. Now if I just could, we'd be all set. What are the odds I need amoxicillin, too?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Surprisingly Photogenic Week(end)

I got some good pictures in the last week. I don't know if Jacob was more accomodating, or if I was just lucky (probably the latter). Last Tuesday we went to another baseball game here in town, mostly because the Gwinnett Braves were in town and Craig is an Atlanta Braves fan. In addition, a guy who's been in the majors for a while was playing for Gwinnett. Ironically, Craig bought a shirt cheap last year in Pittsburgh with the guy's name on it from when he played for Pittsburgh before getting traded to Atlanta. He'll be wearing that this weekend when we go back to Pittsburgh. But anyway, it was a nice night and it was a doubleheader and we always get free tickets so it seemed like a good idea. We didn't stay too long because it makes for a late night and Jacob can only sit so long, but while we were sitting there enjoying the game, I managed to take this fantastic picture of Jacob...and no, he didn't pose for this--I actually caught this shot mid-movement as he was sort of rocking on his seat.

This one just cracks me up. He was looking at Craig's Braves baseball...classic!

Shortly thereafter we headed out once Jacob stopped sitting nicely. I can't even tell you how many times he inadvertently elbowed or kicked the people in front of us. Lovely.

This weekend we headed into Buffalo for Craig's first family reunion in 13 years. The last one was held about a year before his grandmother passed away. The one the following year never happened because it was scheduled for two days after his grandmother died. And it just never happened again. Until this year. It was a brutally hot day, but fortunately the sun hid out quite a bit and we didn't get the full brunt of the heat and humidity all the time. But here's why I found it surprising that I got so many good pictures of Jacob--I only pulled the camera out a couple times, and even then, we were so hot and sweaty that I can't believe the pictures actually turned out good. I really had to pick and choose what I posted here. Facebook will eventually have them all, I'm sure.

Here's my adorable but HOT little boy in the middle of running around and playing lacrosse and baseball with his older cousins...

I just love his look of intensity as he plays here with sidewalk chalk...and those pink cheeks were because he was hot, not sunburned.
As a funny little side note, one of the activities at the event (in addition to a funny nametag game and an egg toss) was one of those "guess how many in the jar" games, this one with a jar full of Starbursts. They looked so good, so I sat there for a moment and did a little math. I estimated how many were in the top layer of the jar, multiplied it down, and settled with a guess of 625. The guesses ranged from the 200 realm up through about 800, so it was a crapshoot. A little while later, whoever was tallying things up came over and asked if I was Amy and said I had won! There were 627 Starbursts in the jar...so I was only two off! Here's a picture of the jar sitting on our dining room table, minus about four or five of the 627 :) I just had to share! And for reference, the jar is about a foot high!

At one point the picnic shifted over to the baseball field for the traditional family softball game. I think in the past there were a good number of adults that participated, but a good chunk of this year's participants were on the young side. And fortunately they were very accomodating to the really little ones, like Jacob and his two cousins, who really wanted to participate as well. Here's Jacob pregame, already in his catcher's stance. And yes, he does know to turn his hat around like a catcher, though it's a little crooked here. "I a catcher, mommy!"

Here's Jacob intently watching the game from the bleachers, waiting for his moment. Notice the Bakugan figures sitting nearby. For those of you unaware, they're toys that start out looking like little balls and magically open into creatures when put near their corresponding trading card. Other kids were playing with them, and I try to keep Jacob away from them because he inevitably just throws them like the balls that they are.
Jacob's up to bat, with a little help from Daddy...
He got a hit and took the longest run around the bases, possibly ever. But he took his grand old time at home plate, too :)
We had a good time but were pretty spent by the time we left. Jacob fell asleep in the car around 7:30, barely woke up for pajamas, and slept through until about 8am. Heavenly! We ended up heading back to Rochester pretty early on Sunday, at least compared to normal, because Craig's whole family was busy, mostly with campaigning for his brother's state assembly run. We figured we'd come back and try to be productive since we've had so many busy weekends. Ultimately we didn't do a lot. Craig did work on the pool (it's back to a cloudy turquoise from greenish again--hopefully it's almost there, just in time for vacation) and I spent some time shopping for the first time in a while. It was a pretty horrible shopping trip, though, which I may or may not discuss here at some point. Suffice it to say that I did some underwear shopping and I think I felt better about my body a couple months postpartum than I do right now. Ugh. That, and I have completely had it with Kohl's and their inability to stock size 7s in any shoes that I ever want to buy there. Anyway, Jacob and I did hang out a bit and I managed to take this incredibly cute picture of him when he was coming downstairs to play.
He's seriously too cute. I have discovered that he really wants to help me with a lot of things--strapping him into his carseat or high chair, loading the dishwasher (ugh), and a few other random things. It's cute, and I'm trying to help him help me, because he's just so sweet and proud when he does it. He's really saying a lot of funny things now, too, like "Mommy/Daddy, don't say that" if we say something he doesn't want to hear (like lacrosse or hockey season being over). We did have a rough night last night. He was up for 2-3 hours, fairly calm but calling for us a lot. When we stopped coming (my attempt to let him cry it out and tire himself out), he really went nuts. In the end Craig went in and held him for a while. Such a tough call in the middle of the night. I'm not sure if it was his early bedtime or lack of nap or a fear of something (he keeps talking about a movie--we did watch a short part of Tarzan 2 (darn Disney flicks) and something about that may have scared him), but it was not fun. Hoping we don't have a repeat tonight, because we're beat. On the bright side, Craig has one more day of work and I have two before we finally hit vacation. It is sorely needed for both of us. It has been a long span without it, that's for sure. We are going to Pittsburgh for a couple days with a quick stopover in Buffalo, and spending the rest at home. I'm still working on a list of things to do, but I know the days will go quickly enough without planned activities! Should be fun, though! More to come...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gotta love peer pressure...

This morning I noticed on Jacob's daycare sheet from yesterday that they had circled "potty" in the spot where they note diaper changes. I took that to mean they actually sat him on the potty each time they changed him, which they've done sporadically before. It didn't note successes or failures, and in the midst of the morning routine, it went out of my head as quickly as it came in. When I got him to daycare this morning, I was informed that he actually went! One time was a trickle, but the other time was a legitimate pee! I don't know if it was the timing or peer pressure or what, but I'm glad to hear it. The tough thing is whether he gets a prize for that, since I wasn't actually there to witness it. Hmmm.

Oh, and in case you're wondering about his field trip, apparently it went fine. He was a good boy and loved the bus ride. I couldn't get much out of him except that the water was "cold", which he says all the time, even about our pool which got very warm before the green set in. It's still greenish, by the way, but I think we may have it back within our control. It's been more turquoise than green for the past week, but something's still a little off and it was looking greener again yesterday. Craig shocked it twice and is starting a renewed effort to keep it more chlorinated, since our levels have been showing up low lately. We won't really have time to swim in it this weekend anyway (ugh) but hopefully we'll get a few more good weeks out of it.

But anyway, the water was cold, the bus was neat, he had fun, and I found out after the fact that he was a good boy. Whew. It's still a little odd having a kid who isn't quite verbal enough to describe in vivid detail how the field trip was. Craig is planning on going on next week's trip to the park, so that should be interesting.

Off now for another busy weekend...it never seems to end this time of year, though summer's end is rapidly approaching. Only a three-day week for me next week as we're finally getting to vacation. Pittsburgh is our only firm plan right now, but I know we will fill the time quickly. I can't wait for the break!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Selfish Wishes for #2

After listing out some of Jacob's best characteristics yesterday (and my displeasure with some of his recent behavior), I've periodically thought about some of the things he doesn't do that I hope our next baby will do. This is in no way stating that I am unhappy with Jacob or that I want him to change (well, better obedience would be nice, but...), but just things that I've heard of other kids doing that Jacob doesn't and I'd like to have a kid that does. But since he's already pretty well settled into who he is, I guess I can log these as hopes for our next child. And it's probaby better to do that now while baby #2 is a mere thought, rather than a real, developing fetus--no need to put pressure on someone that actually exists ;-)

1) Eat well - I'm not saying they have to eat everything and ask for more, but it would be nice to get some general enthusiasm about regular food. Jacob has a few favorite foods (generally not real foods--usually ice cream, pretzels, etc.), but it's rare he gets excited about any good food or eagerly inhales what I make for dinner. I'd like to hear something besides, "No" when I say that it's time for dinner. I'd also like to see more food get eaten and throw away less. Watching food go to waste can get so frustrating after a while--like, why do I even bother putting in the effort if it's not going to get eaten? At least Jacob likes fruit and milk and enjoys my pizza and a couple other select meals.

2) Sleep eagerly - I can't really complain about Jacob because he's a pretty good night sleeper. He's ok with naps and generally doesn't fuss a lot when he's put in his crib. But you know what I'd love? Every once in a while I hear about one of those kids who knows that they're sleepy and does something about it--like bringing their blankie to you and indicating they're sleepy. How cute is that? Even a kid that falls asleep while playing would be interesting. Jacob did that a couple times, but never around me--once with my parents, once at daycare that I know of. I always thought that was cute and would have loved the unexpected break. Maybe I was just too on the ball at figuring out when he was sleepy and it never got to that point around me!

3) Get excited - I suppose Jacob gets excited about some things, but he rarely gets visibly excited by the things I feel like he should. When we get to sporting events, which should be super-exciting, he's usually very serious. He'll look around and watch the game intently. It seems like he just checks things out instead of getting excited. I'd love to see some genuine enthusiasm at a time when I'm expecting it!

4) Play with standard toys - Most of what Jacob plays with are his balls, hockey sticks, and lacrosse sticks. The one thing he frequently plays with beyond that is probably not exactly age appropriate, but he loves it. He has a collection of "hockey guys" and "baseball guys". The hockey guys are a combo of Craig's old table hockey guys, a bunch of Lil' Brat hockey player keychains, and other miscellaneous hockey-themed items. The baseball guys are mostly Craig's cool Charlie Brown baseball set that we got a few years back. Technically they're toys, but they're sort of collectibles, too. It's a risk to let him play with them and they're getting a tad beaten up, but not bad considering their use. The boys set up "games" with all of the guys, and it's the one thing Jacob seems to sit and play with for a while at a time. And yet, there's a whole corner of toys that rarely gets investigated. Maybe they need to be better organized so he knows what's there. Maybe I need to weed out any little baby toys. Maybe we need a new system altogether. Or maybe he's just into sports so that's all he cares to do. But it would be nice to have a child that found standard toys interesting so I knew how to play them with him/her. I'm not so good at hockey guys/baseball guys...or sports, for that matter.

5) Hair I understand - When Jacob was born, he had the sweetest little head with soft brown hair. There wasn't much of it, but it was nice because it didn't stick up or anything. He did lose a lot off the top shortly after birth, which led to a bit of a male-pattern baldness look for a while. Once he started getting haircuts, I sort of stopped understanding his hair. If it got cut too short on top, it stuck up. If it gets too long on top, it looks strange, like a permanent case of bedhead. I can't tell if he's meant to have a part or not. I don't know how to tell them to cut it so it doesn't stick up nor does it look like a straight cut across his forehead. Hopefully our next child will have hair I understand--though I might have no idea what to do with a girl, at least I can fake it with barrettes or something. As long as no child ends up with a mullet, we're in ok shape, I guess.

Nothing earth-shattering, and again, Jacob is more than I could ever ask for...but it never hurts to dream :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Field Trip!

Today Jacob goes on his first field trip. Now that he's moved up to the "Twos" at daycare (the older toddler room), the biggest benefit is that he gets to go on field trips. The center has a bus equipped with car seats, so it's easy to transport all those kids. Side note: I've actually wondered from time to time (but never thought to ask) how private schools do field trips these days, now that kids are supposed to use boosters for so long. Back when I was a kid at good ol' St. Matthew, a handful of parents would offer to drive and we'd get divvied up into their cars. As long as there were seatbelts, we were good. Now, though, kids have to sit in booster seats until they're, what, 9ish? I wonder if they all bring their own in and install them (yikes), or if they're now forced to get a school bus, or if they just break the law for a bit. I know a couple Lutheran school teachers (one of whom reads the blog--Hi Heather!), so perhaps I'll get an answer one of these days. Anyway, they go to a variety of places--parks, restaurants, and other fun activities. Some cost a couple bucks, some are free. It's a neat thing, though, even if Jacob may not be old enough to truly appreciate the experience. It's something different, so it can't hurt.

Last week I got two permission slips. They were pretty vague on the locations, but as far as I can tell, today's was to the spray park we went to a few weeks back. The permission slip said, "Water park", and that's really the only thing I can imagine. I know they've gone there before, so that's my guess. I'm not sure if I missed any formal information on the field trips because Jacob just got into the room or if normally there's a bit more detail in the monthly newsletter, which didn't seem to make it out this month. Not that I'm particularly concerned, since I trust them with Jacob on a daily basis and today is no different, but anyway...he's going on another one next week to a park. Again, not sure what park it is other than than what road it is located on. I think I found it when I did an internet search, but I can't tell what this park has other than a pond (though if that's the case, cue the worry). So, yes, I think it's cool that he gets to do these things, and this just brings on a whole new level of mommy guilt that I can't be there. Well, I could, but it's tough to take time off on this short notice. And anyway, I'd rather save that time for a cooler one--like when they go to Brueggers or McDonald's or Strong Museum (they have a membership! But oh, the stress of being there with more than my own single child!)! I do wonder how having a parent there would interfere in Jacob's experience. Would he stick to us like glue? Would he not be as social or would he be hesitant to do something just because we're there watching him? I have no idea.

Of course, this whole thing brings out a new level of worry, as well. I can't quite begin to imagine how two teachers can possibly control a group of two year olds in parks or other open areas. A smaller place like a restaurant kitchen, though full of its own dangers, is a bit more confined so it's harder to lose track of someone. But a park where the entire concept is for them to play? I have no idea how that works. It's not like you can tie them all together or have them hold rings on a rope like Jon & Kate (plus 8) used to use. So how can they keep their eyes on that many kids? It's scary. You're not there and you never know what you kid might do. Jacob is fearless and loves to run. Bad combo. And as I've documented here, he's also accident prone. I keep sitting here waiting to get a call that he's fallen and bumped his head or scraped himself up. I should probably just call and see how things went, though I'm sure they'd call if anything went wrong. I'm assuming they went this morning because it'd be best to get it in before naps and lunch and before kids start going home. Between wrangling kids and working around their schedules, this while field trip thing has me wondering. How do they do it?! I guess this is just the next step in child-rearing...discovering the mysteries of the field trip. I'm sure everything will go fine, but what would a new element of parenthood be without a little angst? :)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Video Tuesday

Just a quick little treat for today. This is video of Jacob pitching a baseball. It was taken at my family reunion a few weeks ago. He's working on that form!

Not much else to report that I didn't already complain...er...I mean, blog about yesterday. I feel like I should remind everyone that despite my cranky post yesterday, I do still love Jacob more than anything. Yes, he makes me crazy. But he's so incredibly cute and sweet when he's being a good boy, and I absolutely love watching him grow. He says some really funny things and is downright goofy sometimes. And yes, when he's quiet and snuggly and even sleeping, I love it. I love snuggling with him, I love playing with his hair (just thinking yesterday that I should enjoy the dirty blond--it won't be around forever, I'm sure) and rubbing his still-baby-soft skin, playing with his belly and kissing his forehead or his cute little cheeks. And I can't help but laugh when his other set of cheeks go running naked down the hallway at bathtime. I love that his brown eyes are dark like mine, and that he got Craig's dimple. I think it's cute that he now asks me to rub his back at bedtime. I love how much he loves his stuffed animals, but appreciate that he doesn't need any specific one to function in his daily life (purely for my sanity, I suppose). I love the way his face brightens when I arrive to get him at daycare, even if it is usually short-lived and he generally runs away from me two seconds later. But yesterday I did get a big smile, a "Mommy!" and a big hug. Priceless. I love that one kiss fixes most of his boo-boos instantaneously. I love that he can jump and count and sing songs, because I'd be a little worried if his main skills were all sports related. When he's a good boy, he's the light of my life. When he's not, it's that much harder because he's at the core of my world and if the core isn't good, it's hard to make the rest good. But I love him to pieces. Or, to quote one of our favorite bedtime books, "I love you to the moon...and back."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mean Mommy

I don't get it. Yesterday wasn't a bad day. In fact, it was a pretty darn good weekend. Yet, when I went to bed last night I was pretty darn unhappy. I think it's a result of a couple things, namely our dilemma of wanting to have another baby and not knowing where to find an extra $12,000 for daycare, and the fact that Jacob was just brutal yesterday. And I suppose I was no better.

Make no mistake, Jacob is a masterful button-pusher. As I've mentioned before, no matter how you tell him no or try to dissuade him, he will continue on in whatever he's doing with a smile on his face. I'm sure the look is more, "Aren't I cute?" than, "Haha, I'm so evil!", at least from his perspective, but it drives me nuts. He's definitely a kid with his own agenda, but when his doesn't match mine, it's a showdown. And ultimately, we probably both lose. He doesn't get his way, but I'm miserable from fighting him. Still, unless it makes sense in the grand scheme of things, I'm not about to back down and let him think he runs the show. I won't get into details, but suffice it to say that I did a lot of yelling and was close enough to a meltdown myself that I had to pass him off more than once. He played with his food, screamed loudly in church and in a bathroom at the zoo (appropriate place or not, it hurts my ears and grates on my nerves), he ran away more times than I can count, didn't want to sit in his stroller, asked the same question 300 times, etc. Singly they probably wouldn't be a problem. It's what two year olds do. But all together in one day, it made me nuts. Whether or not he deserved it, I felt like a mean Mommy by the end of the day. I don't know if it was a coincidence or not, but he wanted Craig to read him his stories last night. I was beat, so it was just as well. But I felt like crap anyway. I just keep hoping that one of these days it will click with him that he doesn't have to try to press our buttons all the time, that things tend to work out better for everyone if he follows directions reasonably well. I know he's two and won't be perfect for a long time (if ever), but it doesn't seem like too much to ask to have him cooperate more often than not.

It is days like that that make me doubt that we should even have unaffordable kid #2, no matter how much we don't want Jacob to be an only child. How could I deal with both if one is making me that nuts? Maybe Jacob would be better by the time #2 would arrive. But what if he's not? It's hard enough going out with just one sometimes. What would it be like with two? Especially early on when #2 is higher maintenance and I can't just drop one kid to tend to another? How would I ever leave the house alone again? If I'm tired and overwhelmed now, what would I do with all of Jacob's needs AND an infant's, considering either one is enough on its own? I keep telling myself that it's a short term sacrifice for long term gain, but I also keep wondering if the short term sacrifice would send me into the looney bin (or some less dramatic but equally frustrating equivalent) or put a strain on our marriage when Craig's working crazy hours, I'm working full time and being a mom every other moment, and there still isn't enough money or time to go around. I'd hope it wouldn't come to that, but I'm sure there are thousands of other couples out there that never thought it would happen to them, either. It's scary. I'm starting to hear of another round of pregnancies among my friends and blogs I read, and we ran into an old co-worker yesterday that reiterated how nice a three-year age difference is (each of her three boys are three years apart). Right now sort of reminds me of how I felt last year when we were trying to get pregnant, except this one is a different form of torture. Last time we were in this crazy limbo because we didn't know if or when I'd get pregnant because my body wasn't cooperating. This time we're in limbo because we don't know when we should even start trying. We want to, but fear and a serious reality check are totally taking over. I asked Craig last night what our backup plan is...meaning, if nothing changes in the next year and we still can't afford it, do we just bite the bullet and go for it before any of the three of us is too old? He couldn't really give me an answer. I guess I'm not sure either. But if we would just do it then, should we just do it now when we originally wanted to and just hope we figure it out? I'm all sorts of conflicted right now and it's bumming me out.

Regardless, we had a nice weekend aside from Jacob's "moments". Friday night we had Jacob's daycare carnival. It was a pretty low key event, with some carnival food, a few low-budget games, a bounce house and pony rides. We decided to eat right when we got there. Here's Jacob in his two most common positions during that meal--drinking out of the water bottle, and with his trusty companion, the bag of popcorn. He ate so much popcorn that the giant poop he had the next morning was filled with the shells from the kernels. Gross.

After we ate, we tried out a couple games. One involved picking up a duck out of a kiddie pool. That was it. In the real world the dot on the bottom of the duck would have determined your prize, but not here--you could pick anything from the prize bin. Perhaps the prize was for not falling in the pool in the process. Another game was a ball toss at pyramids of three cans. Jacob kept stealing the balls and running away with them. Ugh. Just as we finished the games and were heading off to the pony ride, they were packing up. So no first pony ride for Jacob :( He had gotten to do the bounce house earlier in the day and I figured it wasn't ideal for him to go in, first because he had just eaten a bag of popcorn, half a hotdog and half a bottle of water, and second because there were bigger kids in there and we didn't need any injuries. We opted instead to go to the playground. I had never been back there before, and I was impressed with all they had. It was a Little Tikes haven--cars, lawn mowers, houses of all shapes and sizes, and a huge Little Tikes playground with multiple slides and a couple climbing areas. Very cool. They also had an area for bigger kids, which was still way safer than the playground Jacob fell off of a couple weeks ago. Here he is in a tunnel with Craig sending in the octopi (his hand) to get Jacob (the octopi thing is a running joke with us).

As we were getting ready to leave, there was a deer snacking in the field next to and behind the field we were in. Jacob decided he wanted to pet the deer and ran off after it. Surprisingly (and frighteningly), the deer didn't run away. The closer Jacob got, the more worried I got that the deer was going to run at him and kick him. So I finally sped up and caught him, but managed to snap a couple pictures in the process. It was a scary moment, but interesting in its own way...

The next day, my parents came into town to go to the Park Ave. Festival, a great two-day festival here in Rochester. It's got a nice, slightly eclectic mix of vendors. The crafters tend to be a bit more on the artistic side than your usual craft show--less country stuff and more modern things--glass, big wall art, etc. There were a lot of people selling food products, so we were sampling up a storm, almost to the point we didn't need lunch. There were lots of freebies, too! It's just a neat festival in a part of town with lots of big old houses and a big post-college population. People tend to have big house parties along the route because they can't really leave their homes for a couple days. It's great for people watching and the pleasant mix of crafts, product promotion and food is nice. It was a perfect day for it and the shade along the long route was lovely. We were there for four hours. It was me, Jacob, my parents, and their friends who live in town here as well. Craig stayed home to rest his leg...he never would have survived! Anyway, we had a great time! I only snapped one picture of Jacob--he was playing in the water fountains that were up for sale!

Jacob slept for about 45 minutes to an hour while we walked and that was it for the day, shockingly. We did dinner out at Bill Gray's (mmm...World's Greatest Cheeseburgers!) and finished with some Abbott's custard. My parents took off from there and Jacob fell asleep on our drive home around 7:30 and that was it for the night. He did wake up a few times--once around 11:30 and again at 4:30 and 5:30--but was reasonably good about getting back to sleep. He asked me at 4:30 if we could go to the arena--meaning for an Amerks or Knighthawks game--which was one version of the same basic question he asked me about 300 times this weekend. Brutal.
Despite getting a decent amount of sleep, the wake-ups must have impacted its quality because, as I mentioned, Jacob was pretty difficult yesterday. He did take a decent nap after church (he yelled again in church but was much better once we went into the family room), and in the afternoon we decided to take a trip to the zoo. It ended up raining on us but it wasn't too bad despite that. The animals were fairly active and we had fun aside from Jacob being difficult. Here's a picture that epitomizes it all--the cool ceiling feature in the sea lion/polar bear exhibit with Jacob struggling to get off Craig's shoulders and run.

We also got another silly picture of the stuffed polar bears. This time it involves Craig's hat and a big hug from Jacob. Cute stuff. The otter was sleeping and the rhinos were parked deeply in mud, but the polar bears were active, the monkeys were fun, and I got a great shot of the meerkats--finally one I may submit to their photo contest next year if it qualifies. We also got to see the tortoises and sturgeon eat. We skipped the elephants and baboons to give Craig's leg a break, and headed out just short of closing time. At least dinner was a success--homemade pizza usually is--and Craig managed to keep Jacob occupied while I fought sleep before it was even Jacob's bedtime. Ugh. Perhaps the exhaustion setting in didn't help my mood. But I swear, it was a pretty good weekend!