Monday, February 28, 2011

Not quite what we planned...

So, last weekend didn't quite turn out as we'd planned. That started on Friday. We braved the snow in the morning but by mid-morning I got a call that Jacob wasn't being himself. He wasn't as active in the morning and was complaining his head and throat hurt. Luckily, my office closed early due to the weather so I was able to go home, clear the snow from the driveway (thank God for our neighbor, who had already snowblowed most of it), and I made an appointment at the doctor's office. I figured that in the wake of his strep, and amidst a runny nose and all of these supposed ailments at daycare (he was supposedly tugging his ear one day, too), it wouldn't hurt to go get him checked once and for all. The poor kid is so traumatized from so many strep swabs and he freaked out, but he still had to get one more. And sure enough, positive. Seriously?!

I still feel lucky that his run-ins with strep aren't nearly as bad as they could be, but the big problem was that we were planning on seeing our friends, the Dohertys and McDonoughs, on Saturday. My parents were coming in mid-afternoon, and we were all going to visit Laurie, Colin, and Laurie's parents. We hadn't seen Laurie and Colin since last April, so we were really excited to get the boys together. Also, Laurie is pregnant and it would have been so fun to see her little baby bump! Last time we got to go through the experience together (a couple months apart), so it's a bummer that my "three years apart" plan didn't work because we could have done it again this time around. Still, I am so happy for them and very excited for when the baby comes--not just because I look forward to meeting him or her, but because I'll be interested to hear her stories of how she manages two kids. It is one of my biggest fears, so it will be nice to gain some insight from someone I know. Anyway...obviously the strep threw a wrench in our plans. Not only would it be a risk for Colin to get it, but the bigger risk was if Laurie got it. We didn't want to take any chances, so the visit was off. I'm not sure if we'll have a chance to see them again before the new baby, unfortunately, but hopefully that means we'll see them shortly thereafter!

My parents did still come visit and we went to the Knighthawks game that night. Jacob was his normal quiet self and wanted to spend most of the night on my lap. Other than his usual antics at dinner, he was a good boy. He was fading fast at the end of the night, but he did stay awake until after we were home. I knew it might make for a long day on Sunday, but what can you do? We hadn't been to a game in a while so it pretty much had to happen sometime!

During the game we sort of ended up deciding that we were all (me, Jacob and Craig) going to go to the National Lacrosse League All-Star Game, which was being held Sunday at Turning Stone Resort & Casino, which is in Verona, NY, just east of Syracuse. It would be a long drive but it would probably be an interesting time. So, we got up on Sunday and went. It was sort of fun to have an unplanned, spur-of-the-moment road trip, as we don't do a lot of that these days. Planning is sort of important when you have a toddler to consider, even if most of those plans get somehow screwed up. But it felt nice to have an unexpected fun outing. We had pondered stopping at a Cici's Pizza (that fabulous pizza buffet that you may have seen in commercials on TV--we've previously been to one in Orlando (when I was thing ever) and one in Erie last summer on our way back from Pittsburgh), but decided to get to the game early and hit Cici's for dinner on the way home.

I've been to Turning Stone once or twice before, but any trips were long before the resort is as it is now. We walked around a bit--mostly to let Jacob burn off some energy--and managed to catch this cute picture near this indoor waterfall.
We settled into our seats shortly before gametime with some arena food for lunch, and Jacob pretty much finished off a small box of popcorn on his own. And without further ado, the latest in our series of pictures of Jacob eating popcorn...
The game was a high scoring affair, but for some reason Jacob wasn't nearly as focused as usual. He was ready to run at halftime, and we found a nice open area for him to run. He was keeping the security folks entertained. Here he is showing off his shot...
While it was a fun event, I have to admit that the highlight for me was the giant Dale Chihuly piece in the lobby outside the entrance to the event center where the game was held. As you may recall, the weekend before I found out I was pregnant, I went with some family to see a Dale Chihuly exhibit in Pittsburgh. It was awesome. I also saw some of his work at the Corning Museum of Glass a couple summers ago. His work is so beautiful, and here are a couple shots of Turning Stone's piece...
And here's one more...
You wouldn't know it, but this one was taken amidst the most frustrating Jacob moment of the day. He was being downright evil at times. Again, sleep is really that important and seems to be a dividing line between pesky and just plain evil. So frustrating.
Things didn't get much better once we got to dinner, though at least we got to enjoy some tasty pizza (mac and cheese pizza, among others!) while trying to manage Jacob's misbehavior. Craig sat with him the whole way home and they watched a movie so Jacob would stay awake and go to bed normally. At least that part went according to plan and we all got a good night's sleep.

So, while the weekend was not quite like what I thought it would be, it turned out to be pretty good, frustrations aside. It went awfully quickly, and now here we are again at the beginning of another week. We'll see what this one has in store...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thoughts on Infertility

Fortunately, infertility really isn't something we've ever had to deal with. For that, I am truly grateful. We had a short period of time before I got pregnant that we had our doubts. After I went off birth control, my body wasn't cooperating. We went through the difficulty of not knowing when we should be trying to conceive and suffered through the negative pregnancy tests that went with it. There was a lot of anticipation each time, and my mind (and body) were probably playing tricks on me as well, so each negative test was tough to take. It gave me even more of an appreciation of what infertile couples go through, because it is something that your life truly revolves around. Between a period and ovulation, and also the pregnancy test timeframe, there isn't much time in between for it to exit your mind for long. And if you extend that over months, or even years, it's such an agonizing way to live.

The anticipation of doing something so amazing and so permanent is exhilarating. Like anything else amazing, you're eager to get started and explore the adventure. For people who have a serious, life-calling-type desire to be parents, the inability to start their adventure must be excruciating. We wanted to be parents, obviously, and our lives would have been incomplete without it, but as I blogged about frequently back in the day, I didn't really feel like I had any great maternal instincts ready to burst forth. I've managed over the years, but there are still times that I know I'm missing some piece of the puzzle--the one that makes some activities and actions more natural than they sometimes feel for me. So if we wanted it this badly, I can only begin to fathom what it's like for others who have been eagerly anticipating this experience--rather than just expecting it would happen at some point--for their whole lives.

Recently I've heard a couple instances of the wrath of the infertile. A friend of mine has a close friend who has been going through infertility treatments. She's been through all sorts of treatments, including a couple unsuccessful rounds of in-vitro. She's one of these people that desperately wants to bear a child and raise it, and will stop at nothing to make it happen. She's been blogging about her experiences, and between that and her sensitivities to things her friends say, she's managed to alienate her friends a bit. They want to be supportive, but they never know what they might say to upset her. She even went so far as to blog about her feelings when different types of people tell her they're pregnant. Unfortunately, one of their group of friends is trying to conceive #2, and she has to keep that fact to herself. After all, her friend left nothing to the imagination with that blog post...and no, the response would not be favorable.

Then the other day one of my favorite bloggers announced that she is pregnant with baby #3. I enjoy her blogs because she's pretty honest. She has a sort of tongue-in-cheek writing style where she'll say pretty much whatever's on her mind--and I think that's part of why I like her, because she'll say things that I feel bad about know, how sometimes she does just want to sit and blog and why are the kids bothering her!? Not the most politically correct, for sure, but it's closer to my life than some of the bloggers who seem to live these idyllic lives that make me feel tremendously inferior. Anyway, after she announced it on her personal blog, she wrote for, her once-a-week, about how panicked she is about having three, how they had exited the baby stage completely and are now going back, and all of the other concerns she has at this early point of her pregnancy. Almost immediately there were two commenters, both with fertility issues, chastising her for complaining about a third baby when they would have loved to have more. Interestingly, each of them had one and couldn't have more, and I found it a tad ironic that their comments might have been taken badly by someone unable to have ANY children. Here they were yelling at her for having three when they just wanted to have a second, but there are so many women probably thinking that those women should stop complaining since they were able to have one. But truly, the blogger wasn't complaining. She can seem a little over-dramatic at times, sure, but she makes it quite obvious that she loves her kids, that she loves being a mom, and that she's over the moon about #3, even if she has a million fears about it all. And really, what pregnant mom doesn't have concerns? I have about nine months worth of angsty blog posts floating around in my head for when we're heading toward baby #2. I could write about it now but I figure I'll save them until it's a little more relevant and imminent. The thing that killed me most is that this blog posting was generally positive--scared, yes--but mostly just a celebration of a really exciting announcement. And these women came and rained on the parade, acting as if she should be so grateful to have a third baby that she should have no reservations about it at all. Ummm, not realistic.

Now, all this said, every woman who has gone through infertility is more than entitled to be upset and frustrated. It is a horrible, awful thing to go through, and you can't blame them for being sad when it seems that everyone around them is pregnant or having babies. Heck, every time I hear about someone else who's pregnant, I have a twinge of sadness, as my "perfect plan" would have had me pregnant with them. But my plan didn't work out--and yes, I'm 99% at peace with that, as I can't imagine dealing with a baby and Jacob in his current state. Regardless, I do feel like I'm missing out on the party just a little bit. But at least I can feel that way having some degree of confidence that when we do decide to head down that road, we'll probably have success within a few months. Of course, the success beyond that point is still out of our control, but that's a whole different issue. But knowing that your fertility isn't under your control must make every announcement another form of torture. I can't even begin to fathom what they go through.

That said, I don't think it's fair to make fertile women feel guilty. Don't read a blog about parenting if you're highly sensitive about the subject. And even more, don't comment if you can't comment in the spirit of the post. Some posts are made to be debated...but a pregnancy announcement? Not so much. I get that jealousy is a tough thing to control. I'm sure that it's nearly impossible for infertile women to be completely, truly happy for a pregnant friend and there just isn't much they can do about it considering the immense sadness that their troubles cause them. But as one commenter said, the difference of opinion doesn't make anyone's feelings on the subject less valid. Just as the blogger is entitled to her joys and her concerns, the infertile commenters are entitled to their sadness and frustration...and neither should be making judgments about the other. Just as it's not particularly nice to comment negatively on someone's pregnancy announcement (when she obviously wasn't setting out to offend infertile women in the first place!), it wouldn't be fair for a fertile woman to comment on an infertility blog about how they should stop complaining and get over it. They're quite obviously writing for different audiences and that should just be respected.

I've had some experiences with this blog where things I have said have been twisted or taken out of context or just generally misunderstood. And while I wish that I would have been able to catch those things before I hit the "Publish" button, my intention was never to hurt anyone's feelings. There's only so much you can do to ensure that someone isn't going to take your words the wrong way, and that's probably the hardest thing about blogging. You can control what you write, but you can't control where someone else's mind is going to go with it. In the end I just feel like anyone who reads blogs should just take what they read at face value. Blogs are usually momentary thoughts frozen for posterity, not fine literature. Things are going to be written awkwardly or thoughtlessly, or said in frustration. They're written for a certain target audience that's familiar with the author's history and circumstances. As a result, it's more like sharing with a bunch of friends. So if you're not one of those "friends" (even in the most abstract sense), why are you butting in on the conversation? And in this case, if you're upset that you only have one child, why are you reading a blog where four of the six bloggers have more than one child? Why set yourself up for the frustration? And why rain on others' parades if you've willingly done this to yourself? That's what I just don't get. It's ok to be upset with your circumstances and feel bummed about others' successes, but it's not ok to make them feel guilty when it was never their intention to make you feel bad.

I pray that we never have to deal with infertility and wish nothing but the best for those who do. Parenthood is hard enough without having to climb that mountain on the way there.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sleep is Everything

So, I have come to the conclusion that Jacob's wacky weekend was all about sleep. He was a bit more tolerable Sunday after his nap, and yesterday he was downright pleasant. Not that he didn't still have moments, but he IS two, after all. I have to think that getting us both back on a regular schedule meant everything, as not only was he better behaved, but I was far better equipped to deal with the "moments" he did have. He still didn't exactly sleep in yesterday, but it was better than his 6:30am wakeups previously. He pretty much asked to nap at the end of lunch, though he quickly recanted but still fell asleep while I rocked him for a mere five minutes. He napped for a good two hours. I rested a bit but not as well as I should have. Still, his behavior was considerably better. He played nicely and didn't have the mean streak that plagued us previously. Believe me, I didn't miss the random kicks to the shins or the attempted smacks to the head. He still attempted a couple when he was particularly upset, but really, I know it's just a temper thing and we have to help him get past it.

We've long known that Jacob gets loopy when he's tired. Instead of dragging, he tends to get hyper and silly. It was sort of funny when he was younger, but now that he's older and he thinks that misbehaving is funny--seriously, I have NO idea where he got that impression, because we have never made misbehavior a laughing matter--the goofiness manifests itself in some serious nastiness. He'll battle us at bedtime with screams, tantrums and hitting/kicking episodes. It's awful. He doesn't think it's a problem, as he usually laughs through much of it, which makes it that much more maddening on our end. I found myself wondering the other day if we should be applying to Supernanny or something. I at least made the mental note that I should be DVRing it, because when Jacob is bad, I'm getting desperate. I tend to think that this weekend was an extreme example and a bunch of factors combined into the worst possible scenario. He did lots of car sleeping, lots of waking up, odd napping, and whatever else. Plus he was excited to go to Toronto, which no doubt led to more hyper tendencies, and as a whole things were just "off".

In retrospect, I'm not sure what we could have done to avoid it other than stay home. And really, that's not fun for us and it's not particularly enriching for Jacob. We want to give him fun experiences like that. If we never do stuff like that, will he ever learn to regulate himself? I don't know. I do know that kids that travel in the car a lot learn to sleep in the car (no idea if it ever becomes more restful, though), and kids that sleep elsewhere a lot sleep better when they go to other places often, so I certainly don't want to coddle him. Maybe it's just the battle of getting through a couple rough experiences like this so he's better off next time, but I really have no idea. Maybe we're just doomed.

I think I mentioned before that I figured out when I had a baby how important sleep was to my outlook on life. And obviously you know how important it is to your baby, as you live and die by naptimes. Of course, part of that may be a desperate need for downtime as much as it's about knowing your baby needs rest. And sometimes as they get older, just when you think you're getting more flexibility, you realize that some things still aren't up for compromise.

Lately I've been pondering the infant life vs. the toddler life. I've been wondering whether one is easier than the other--sleep deprivation vs. eating battles, inexperience vs. keeping them out of everything, diaper blowouts vs. potty training--but it's all one phase vs. another, which is tough to compare. I still miss that ability to stare at my baby and think he's the most perfect thing in the world...because while Jacob still amazes me to no end, I know all too well that he's not perfect. It's not just behavior stuff...but increasingly it's concerns over what all the behavior stuff means and what the future holds. I miss the blank canvas and the unblemished vision of my sweet boy. But all of it is part of parenthood, so I'm fine with being along for the ride. And I look forward to experiencing it all again someday with a little more perspective and wisdom. Not too often you get to do something so huge the second time around with a little more wisdom under your belt. Too bad it's almost never the same :)

Long story short, it's a little bit of a bummer to realize that we're still chained to naptime and schedules so strongly. We want to do fun things, but we need to be prepared for battles and do whatever we can to keep the deviations from our schedule minimal. Maybe once we're past the terrible twos it'll be easier. Or not. I know deep down that so many other parts of our lives are easier now that Jacob is older, so sticking to a schedule is a small price to pay. And really, what's better than a little extra sleep? Let's hope we can convince ourselves to partake as well.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Patience Needed

This weekend has been an unbelievable challenge. As I mentioned, Jacob was giving us a lot of trouble on Friday, and it continued yesterday and again into today. I know that sleep issues were definitely part of the problem. It can't be a total coincidence that this behavior has coincided with a bit of a crazy schedule and some early wakeups. He got to sleep pretty much on time Thursday night, though that took place in the car on the way to Buffalo. Still, he slept the whole way there and woke up only briefly before snuggling with Craig and getting back to sleep. He slept pretty well that night--only a quick wakeup or two--but woke up by 6:30 or so that morning, far earlier than usual. He was a handful that morning but I was hoping a much-needed nap in the car on the way to Toronto would be the magic formula...but no, he woke up as feisty and difficult as before. While a nap later in the day would have been helpful, it didn't happen. we managed while we were at the arena, and he was his usual entranced self during the game. But he fell asleep before we were out of the arena and settled into a deep sleep on the way back to my parents' house. He woke up in almost a sleepwalking-like state when we got back, but basically turned over and fell asleep the second I put him in the crib. Again, he had a brief wakeup or two overnight, and another 6:30am wakeup call awaited. I really wanted to sleep more, but Jacob would not go out and hang with my parents like he normally does. Instead he tortured me, insisting he wanted to sleep more but instead kicking me, crawling over me, and making me generally nuts. I was very concerned about driving home so tired, but I didn't have a choice. Yet again he got a car ride nap, this time at noon, but this one was shorter as he woke up at 1:20 when we got home. Full of trouble for the rest of the day, particularly when I was trying to rest while he played and he continued to bother me...which out of desperation led to an hour in his crib while I was on the couch. But unfortunately, he screamed for a good chunk of that time, and not a moment of sleep was had by either of us. Exhausted, I opted to stay home from the Knighthawks game and avoid the howling winds. An early bedtime for Jacob was on tap, hoping he'd be better today.

He was up early again, somewhere around 7, and was an absolute nightmare at church. Normally he has bad moments, but today the whole thing was a disaster. He wouldn't do any of the normal activities that usually keep him occupied...books, drawing, snacks, toys...nothing. We both took him out at separate times and dealt with a lot of flailing around on the floor. Brutal. He fell asleep on the way home around 11am and slept a couple hours. Lunch went pretty well, the afternoon was generally fine, and dinner wasn't bad. He told us he had to go potty (poop, even!), and went down pretty well. I'm not sure what flipped the switch back to tolerable, but the afternoon and evening seemed like night and day from the past 2-1/2 days. Maybe a good nap in his own bed helped, maybe it was the realization at lunch that I don't expect him to eat all his food, but want him to put in a "good effort", trying his food, eating it at a reasonable pace, not playing with it, and being generally polite. I've told him that before, but he seemed to get it today. He might forget it tomorrow, but I guess when you have a child that has the potential to learn so many new things each day, you always have to hold out hope that today will be the day it sticks.

Tomorrow Jacob and I will be home alone. I'm praying he sleeps well, eats well, and naps well, because I will need as much in my favor as I can get. I'm not normally nervous to spend a full day home alone with him, but tonight, I am. It was that bad of a weekend. There were so many blatant no's, so much hitting and kicking, so much mischief. And I'll admit I was short on patience...probably because I was tired as well. I'm finding it hard to find ways to discipline him, since nothing seems to work...yelling, spanking, timeouts...nothing. We've tried them all at various points, and the frustration when they don't work is horrible. I'm at a loss and it's so hard. So hopefully tomorrow he's back on his schedule a bit and things are a little easier. I wanted to do something fun, but I think breaking out markers for the first time might be as good as it gets. Especially because the weather is supposed to be snowy. Again.

Wish us luck...

Saturday, February 19, 2011


After consulting the Knighthawks' schedule this season, I decided to take off work on Friday to head up to Toronto for the Knighthawks game against the Toronto Rock. We decided to make a day of it and bring Jacob along. We had tried to bring Jacob along at least once before, but he ended up being too sick and had to stay back with my parents. Let me start by saying that Toronto is one of my favorite places in the world--and strangely, I've hardly explored any of it. Usually when we go there, we stick to the same general paths...same hotels, same restaurants, same activities. I suppose that's because we're only there for short periods of time, and frequently we're going for a sports event and we like to hit up our favorite restaurant, Marche', which is conveniently in the same complex as the Hockey Hall of Fame, which is a frequent shopping destination. Still, I love the city. I remarked on Facebook later in the day how much being in Toronto on a weekday made me appreciate city life. There was so much activity, so much going on, and so much to see. Even just the concourse by the Hall of Fame was bustling with quick-serve restaurants and little shops, all crawling with families, businesspeople, and shoppers. I wish I worked in a complex like that...though I might go broke and/or never get anything done! I just like that cities have millions of "stories" walking around them all the time, visitors from all over, people just living their everyday lives...just a different world than the one I live in every day. When I was younger, I dreamed of living in Toronto. I guess in the end I didn't have the guts to go that big and different, and preferred to stick closer to the suburban life I knew. It may not be as fancy, but it's still a good life. Anyway...

We drove to my parents' on Thursday night, then headed into Toronto on Friday morning. Jacob slept the whole way up, which was a relief since he woke up at 6:30 that morning...way early for him. It was a bright, sunny day...a little windy but in the 50s, which was so much better than it could be this time of year! Driving into the city was darn near majestic, and we were so excited to introduce Jacob to the Hall of Fame. Craig had to take care of a work thing before we parked and headed to grab lunch in the concourse near the Hall of Fame. Craig had Subway and Jacob had McDonald's, but I was excited to get something more interesting--a foccacia slice with chicken, mushrooms, zucchini and cheese from Marche's quick serve location (the real restaurant is upstairs). Yum!

Unfortunately, Jacob's nap didn't exorcize the crazies, and he was a handful for the whole day. He wouldn't listen, he'd run away, and as usual, he had his own agenda and it didn't match up with ours. He wouldn't smile for pictures and was ready to dart off at any given moment. I lost patience awfully fast. Still, it was a fun trip to go back to the Hall of the Fame for the first time in a long time.

Here are Craig and Jacob with the sculpture outside the hall. This was especially cool, because the "Z is for Zamboni" book we got Jacob has "Hall of Fame" for "H", and this sculpture is the picture they show.

Initially Jacob was super afraid of a number of bronze sculptures--a huge goalie outside the HOF store, and then two big ones just inside the gates. But once past those, Jacob ran around like a madman. He wasn't looking at anything in particular, but he was wielding his trusty hockey stick which we had to watch closely with all of the glass display cases. He really liked seeing a couple bubble hockey games they had, and loved the interactive area, which had a few simulators and a fake ice surface....
One of my favorite features of the HOF every time I've been there is the replica Montreal Canadiens' dressing room. I was a little disappointed to see that the area that used to be the training room had been turned into more displays, but the main room is still lovely. After lots of trying, this was the best picture we could get...
Here's Jacob with the giant goalie mask in the International area...
When we headed up to the Great Hall where the Stanley Cup is, Jacob was getting particularly difficult. Craig tried to get a picture of Jacob and him with the Cup, but Jacob was squirming all over the place and the guy that was there watching over the Cup was seriously concerned that Jacob was going to knock it over. Ugh. I spent a bunch of time in the Great Hall trying to get cool pictures of the many visual splendors of the room--shiny trophies, gorgeous lighting, and the most amazing stained glass dome. Craig was chasing after Jacob a lot. Right before we left I tried to get a picture of Jacob and me with the Cup, but once again, nothing but squirms...
I did manage to get a solo picture as well, to update the one I got when I was 15 or so. We headed up to the store after that, to seek out Jacob's long awaited hockey guys, the ones he uses for his hockey games. He was ready to shop...
In case you can't see, he's got an armload. We only allowed him to get two--one for now and a second for later, maybe when he's making strides with potty training. We had a lot of guys to search through, though...
While I was trying to take a picture of another cool statue in the store and Craig was distracted by a phone call, Jacob managed to topple over (on purpose) a two-foot high metal trash can full of soft knee hockey balls. Seriously? Geez.

Before we left, Jacob got up enough guts to get somewhat near one of the big sculptures, the one outside the store...
We wandered around a bit to kill time and try to find the newest Brady Brady book, but no such luck. Eventually we headed to the Air Canada Centre so Craig could set up for the game. We got kicked out of the hallway by the Knighthawks locker room (twice) by a security guy, because Jacob's incessant yelling (for various reasons) was filtering into the Toronto Maple Leafs press conference announcing a trade they made, which was being held in the adjacent press lounge. How emabrrassing. We did manage to get a good look at the arena from floor level, then headed up to the press box...

Jacob and I had to kill a lot of time from there while Craig did work, and shortly before game time we headed out to the concourse to get some dinner and watch the game. We left early, though, as I was exhausted and had a long drive back to North Tonawanda alone since Craig was going back with the team so he was able to get back into work first thing this morning. The drive back was as windy as I've ever experienced, but I managed to stay awake and Jacob slept the whole time, starting from before we even left the arena!

We were coming back this morning to welcome my oldest friend, Heather, for a weekend visit, but thanks to the sudden burst of snow across the state this morning, that didn't happen. So, it was just Jacob and me for the rest of the day today, another trying day. More on that later, but at least we have a day with Craig tomorrow. Can't wait!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday Randoms

No major topics of note today, but a handful of things have been banging around inside my brain, so here goes...

Is it pathetic that I am really relieved that Jacob has figured out how to get out of his car seat alone? I mean, I still have to release the buckles and all that, but he has finally figured out how to lean forward and get his arms out of the straps, then to stand up on the edge of the seat (the real seat, not his), brace himself on the front seats with his hands, and carefully step around his car seat, across the backseat, and down. I usually swoop him off the seat and out of the car, but that's easy compared to lugging a 30-pound child out of a car seat. For some reason (ummm, maybe because I kept helping him?) he wouldn't do it on his own for the longest time, no matter how much I encouraged him to move and try to get himself out. And then, because I have no patience, I would then step in and get him out. But it has been really awesome to watch him figure it out and come out victorious, and I think he finds it to be a fun challenge each time. He doesn't always want to do it--he is two, after all, and sometimes that seat must feel pretty comfy--but it's such a relief when he does. I'm still a little concerned about the effects of dirty boots and shoes on my car seats, but I guess I'll just have to put down a blanket or something.

For the past week or so I've had a problem with waking up, wide awake, at about 5:15am. I couldn't fall back to sleep to save my life, but I was still tired enough that I could not drag myself out of bed and be productive. Knowing that the sleep I was getting wasn't enough (about 5.75 hours on average), I think I was just determined to try to fall back to sleep for that last hour (plus a half hour with the snooze button). I didn't want to solidify that that was all the sleep I was getting for the day. It drove me nuts that this had happened for a week straight, minus the weekend, without a cause. I'm guessing my anxiety over knowing how close I was to my alarm probably was an issue with falling back to sleep--hence my lack of a problem over the weekend--but it's been pretty awful. And pair it with some sleeping issues on Jacob's end--which Craig has been great about taking more than his fair share of--and it's made for some pretty awful sleep deprivation. Surprisingly I've made it through work relatively unscathed (that I know of), though I have had a couple sleepy patches here and there. It's far from an ideal scenario, though, because the more tired I am, the less likely I am to want to be active in the evenings, and the less patience and optimism I have in general. I wouldn't doubt that my Valentine's Day crankiness was partially caused by this. And I've noticed a distinct lack of patience with Jacob when I'm extra sleep deprived. I truly never noticed how my world was affected by sleep deprivation--beyond the usual nodding off--until I had a baby. My sleep-deprived breakdown the first week and the realization that my general outlook on life was vastly better with a good night's sleep were real eye-openers. I did sleep normally last night--aside from short wakeups and a Jacob wakeup that Craig handled--and woke up with my alarm, but I think I was more tired this morning than any other. It's just amazing how sleep impacts so much when you're a parent.

Tomorrow we're going to Toronto, our first trip there with Jacob in tow. The Knighthawks are playing in Toronto, so we're going up early and taking a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame. We figure Jacob is old enough to begin to appreciate it, and we haven't been there in years--maybe since just a few months into our dating, though I think maybe we went one other time years ago. Jacob's schedule aside, it should be fun. We have to figure out the best way to fit in a nap and fill our day so Jacob doesn't get bored and drive us nuts. We're going to go to the arena with Craig and visit the press box before the game, then the two of us will sit in the seats and leave when we're ready since Craig is going back with the team. We'll head to my parents', and we'll be back home by lunchtime Saturday for a weekend visit from my oldest friend, Heather, who's coming to visit from Binghamton. Should be a lot of fun! Jacob and I have Monday off. I need it! Have a nice weekend, and hopefully I'll have some good pictures soon!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thoughts on Valentine's Day

So yesterday was Valentine's Day. I'll admit that we've officially fallen among the ranks of the old married folks, because it was pretty much a non-event. At least not compared to years past where we went out for a nice romantic dinner or bought nice gifts for each other. In general, I'm sort of torn about the holiday. It's definitely a Hallmark holiday, and I hate that it tends to be so forced. The whole, "You must do something nice for your significant other (or child or other loved one) on this specific day" thing just seems so commercial, so forced. On the other hand, sometimes things get so busy that you need a reminder like that to stop and do something special. In general I'm sort of torn about the gift thing, for any occasion. I mean, if I find the perfect gift for someone, I'm totally fine with buying it and giving it. But if nothing's jumping out at me and I'm going to end up resorting to something generic or cheesy, then I'd rather just skip it. That may not be the right thing to do socially, but quite frankly, I don't need a whole bunch of random stuff clogging up my house, and most likely the receiver doesn't either. Edible stuff is one thing, I suppose, but actual space-occupying stuff...ugh. It's more stress to have to find a place for it than I'm sure the giver would want. It's the thought that counts, I know...and I appreciate that. But sometimes, less is more. I suppose this is a bigger social issue relating to our consumer culture and our obsession with "stuff", and one simple blog post isn't going to change the world so I really need to just conform. Anyway...

Now that Jacob is around, there are a few different facets of Valentine's Day to consider. A couple years ago I was appalled when it was suggested that Jacob's class of babies would be exchanging valentines...but sure enough, he got a couple. Last year I asked and the teachers didn't seem to care either way. Again, as I recall, Jacob got a couple. This year it was a given that it would be happening, which I still find odd but at least the kids are old enough to know each other's names (and say them), so I went along with it. I used a box of valentines I got on super-clearance two years ago (Winnie the Pooh ones--not exactly Jacob's style, but do I care? Not really.). And then I got to thinking and realized that most kids were probably going to include something with their valentines, so I ended up getting suckers (not cool Valentine's-themed ones, unfortunately, as Wegmans didn't have them) and wrapping the valentines around them before sealing them with a sticker. And thank goodness I did, because quite a few kids gave stuff as well--a pencil, candy, stickers--and I wanted to keep up with the Joneses, I guess. Normally I don't want to subscribe to that theory, but when it comes to my child, it's hard. Kids are cruel and I don't want him to be ostracized for a social misstep like this down the road. I know it doesn't really matter now, but I sort of feel like I need to get myself used to this stuff now, before it becomes a big deal. Way overthinking, I know. But regardless, it makes me wonder when the world started moving away from just exchanging paper valentines. Same goes for birthdays. I sent cupcakes. Some kids send goodie bags o' stuff. Really?! Why? The kids are too young to care and the parents aren't even present to encourage competition. Why must we up the ante so much so early?

As far as gifts, we did get Jacob a couple things. He's got enough candy and toys to last him a while, though, so we just kept it simple. Craig gave him a little football figure that he bought for a rainy day (potty prize, etc.) that he'd been itching to give to him, and I gave him a book. Since he's been enjoying two hockey books that he got recently--Dino-Hockey, from my college roommate for Christmas; and Ben & Lucy Play Pond Hockey, which Craig got him when he was in Minnesota--I figured I'd add to it (thanks in part to that awesome Groupon deal recently to get $20 of Amazon merchandise for $10). I got him Z is for Zamboni, which is an alphabet book full of hockey references. I figured he'd like it since his alphabet knowledge is generally limited to the alphabet song, the letters on the wall next to his changing table, and associations with sports stuff ("B is for baseball", "K is for Knighthawks") this seemed right up his alley. I think he'll really grow to like it even more when he's older and can read some of the fine print on each page, the background info behind the main rhyming verse on each page.

I didn't get Craig anything, and he didn't get me anything. We got each other cards, which we both quickly filled out immediately before giving to each other. Romantic, huh? Craig got a card for Jacob (with an octopus on it, which is appropriate since octopi are an inside joke with us), and I hastily made a card out of a construction paper heart for Jacob to give Craig. Hmmm. As far as the lack of gifts, it's hard. If nothing else I'd probably just get Craig another movie or something along those lines, which he doesn't really need, and he'd probably get me flowers or something, which are nice...but they die. So in the end it's just spending money to spend money, to show you've thought about the other person and gotten them something. Again, if there's something perfect that you'd buy even if it weren't a holiday, that's fine. But no need to force it. I try to be pretty money-conscious, so even if Craig did get me jewelry or something else nice, I'd probably scold him for spending that much money. Again, romantic, huh?

As for dinner...well, Craig and I were originally planning on leaving Jacob home with Lori while we went out to dinner, which is pretty much par for the course for our nights out in recent years. However, I didn't think it was fair for Lori to have to spend her Valentine's Day with Jacob just because she's single, so, with Craig's approval, I decided we should all go out together. After all, I know what usually happens when we go out alone--Jacob freaks out when we leave and we rush through dinner and spend most of it talking about him (or work) anyway. Not exactly romantic. So, I figured we might as well try something different. I tried to think of a place to go that was family-friendly yet wouldn't have an out-the-door wait, but after driving by so many busy restaurants and hearing nothing but half hour waits, we settled on Ruby Tuesday so we could just get on with it. The food was good, but Jacob was a disaster. He was super tired much earlier than usual, wouldn't eat his food, and was just generally difficult--throwing crayons, crumpling up his placemat, playing with his straw--so it ended up being a not-so-great dinner, at least for me. Follow that up with some crankiness on my end about how I always feel like the "bad cop" parent and it was a pretty sucky and decidedly un-romantic end to our evening.

So...what can I say? It's one day, and it was meant to be a special one. Part of me knows we should have taken advantage of that and stoked the romantic fire a bit with a night out alone. But maybe part of me was afraid that it wouldn't be that romantic after all and we'd find ourselves bored with each other. We're both tired, we're both stressed, and sometimes it's hard to step outside of that and just enjoy each other's presence. But we have 364 other days of the year to try again. I guess I was a little too optimistic about Jacob's behavior, and I hoped it would be fun to do something different. Lesson learned.

Next year I hope I get better at planning in general. Better dinner choice, more planning for presents, and even more effort into Jacob's daycare valentines. I always enjoyed Valentine's Day as a kid--both the little gifts from my parents and school activities--and I want to make sure Jacob does as well. Sometimes it takes one stinker to learn a tough lesson, and hopefully next year I'll do better. With everything.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Weekend in Review

I guess our Valentine's Day gift from Jacob is that he didn't have a fever this morning and we could all have a normal day--us at work, Jacob at daycare, and no worrying about who's missing what. I have Monday commitments that make it tough to miss, Craig had two meetings, and Jacob had his Valentine's Day if his fever would have held out, we'd have been struggling. So, thank goodness for that.

It ended up being a bit of an odd weekend. Nothing out of the ordinary, I guess, but just generally working around Jacob's illness. Friday night we stuck close to home, had a very well-received pancake dinner while Craig was working, and watched part of a movie. Saturday we hung out in the morning, I cleaned the house while Jacob napped, and after that we tried to go to the Knighthawks game. He still had a fever, but medication was managing it okay and Jacob really wanted to go to the game. I figured it wouldn't hurt to go for the first half and head home in time for a reasonable bedtime...just to get out and give him some fun for an otherwise blah day.

However, I wanted to do a couple test runs beforehand to see how things would go. We were going to grab dinner and then go to BJ's so I could renew my office's membership. I had to get that latter part done this weekend (other people were relying on me), so I figured these stops would serve as a test, or at the very least a nice break from being in the house. Dinner happened to take place at the end of Jacob's last dose of meds, and as a result, it didn't go well. He didn't want to eat a meal he usually devours, and melted into a pool of tears whenever I said anything. Of course, generally I was talking about how he needed to eat so we could go to the game, and if he didn't eat I would take it that he was too sick to go to the game. So, yeah, that didn't go well and I pretty much decided on the spot that we weren't going to go. However, I did still need to go to BJ's, and by the time we got there his Tylenol had kicked back in and he was fine. But still, he seemed to understand and accept that we weren't going to the game, and I knew it was better to stay home anyway, so home we went. And it was a pleasant evening of listening to Craig's broadcast online and encouraging Jacob to finish his dinner, which he finally did. I also caught some or all of three oldie-but-goodie movies during the course of the day--Look Who's Talking, Splash, and Grumpy Old Men. We also finished watching the movie (The Mighty Ducks) that we had started on Friday night. Oh, and when Jacob went to bed, I also read a book, which I almost never do. It was very light reading (though 200+ pages worth), and it made for a very peaceful evening.

I'd like to interject here that while it may seem foolish for so many reasons to try to take a feverish kid to a lacrosse game, I had to give it a try. But here's the thing...Jacob really wanted to go, and other than a high temperature and a little extra whininess at times, he really didn't seem sick. And he wanted to go so badly. I knew that even part of the game would make him so happy, so I felt that it was worth trying. I knew he'd probably be an angel at the game, and it would be a nice outing for both of us...but in the end it didn't work. Caution and sensibility prevailed, and that's fine. But when you have a sick kid, sometimes you have to give it shot just to brighten their day a bit.

Jacob had a rough night of sleep on Saturday. We were all tired by Sunday morning and Jacob still had a fever. We did sleep in, which was helpful, but it set us up for an odd day. Because we slept in, we weren't going to make our normal church service, and the later one was too late for the rest of our plans for the day. I needed to stop at Wegmans afterward and that would just throw us into a schedule for a too-late lunch and nap. Also, I didn't like the thought of him being in a confined room at church with other kids while he was still sick. So, we skipped church. I hate doing that, but in the end, with our schedule, his fever, and the fear of Jacob's misbehavior being at a high level (Craig had to work again, so I'd be solo), it seemed like going would be more counterproductive than anything. It's too bad, but given how hard it is to concentrate some weeks, right now I'm not sure how much I get out of it when we go. I know, so bad. Someday, I hope. This shouldn't become any sort of habit, though, believe me.

So off to Wegmans we went, and other than one period where Jacob was determined to take off his shoes and socks while sitting in the cart, it wasn't too bad. I even got us a treat for lunch--a couple pretzel rolls. Mmmm...highly recommend them. During Jacob's nap I shoveled ice and slush off the driveway and got a little snooze in myself. Sunday night I made corn chowder for dinner, a delicious family recipe that I thought Jacob would enjoy since he seems to like soup and corn. Alas, he wouldn't even try it other than sipping some of the broth, which he did like...but he wouldn't go near a spoonful of the vegetables. Ugh. I keep wondering how I'm supposed to broaden his palette if he won't even take a bite...and if we force him, he just spits it back out. It's miserable for all of us, and extra frustrating when I'm pretty sure it's something he'll like. I guess someday he'll get hungry and figure it out.

On a related note, I'm getting insanely frustrated with his stalling tactics these days. Whether it's sitting on the potty or eating his dinner or getting ready to go up to bed, Jacob takes FOREVER. He'll sit on the potty and just chat away, or play with his food instead of eating it, or have to set up his hockey guys perfectly before he will contentedly go up to bed. And in all cases, no matter how much I try to move things along, he just stalls. But when I try to put an end to it, he freaks out. So, if I try to get him off the empty potty and put his diaper back on, he whines and insists he still has to go. So if you have to go, GO! If you haven't gone after 10 minutes, maybe you don't have to go! If I try to take away his food, he gets upset and insists he still wants it, but then proceeds to only play with it for another 10 minutes. If I physically remove him from his toys, he has a tantrum.

Sometimes right at the last minute he'll get serious and get down to business, but I refuse to sit in the bathroom or at the table for any lengthy period with no progress, because someday he has to learn to do those things relatively quickly, maybe even on someone else's timeline besides mine. No, I don't want him to rush through dinner or push him when he's on the potty, but I don't have the time to sit and wait while he screws around. I know I can sit him on the potty with a book, but considering he'll stand up the second he's done pooping, I don't trust him to sit alone for fear I'll have remnant poop stuck on the rug as it drops off his unwiped butt. I do try to give him time at dinner by cleaning up and doing dishes or loading the dishwasher...but I'm not going to sit there for an extra half hour while he abuses his remaining food. I don''t want to be impatient, but it's a tough call between impatience and practicality. How can I make him focus and not make us wait, or even worse, flat out disobey?

Anyway, frustrations aside, I was relieved when his fever was gone this morning, and I'm hoping the cough and runny nose aren't far behind. He's been through enough this winter, and now that nicer weather is finally arriving (ok, a couple days of 40s an maybe some approaching 50s--not great but I'll take it), I'm hoping the worst of the illnesses are behind us.

Busy week as usual coming up, but a great weekend (a long weekend!) coming up behind it. Woohoo!

Friday, February 11, 2011

When will it end?

So, here we are again, on the verge of another illness. The strep came on the heels of the evil, long-lasting fever, not to mention Jacob's surgery, and now on the heels of the strep comes another one. I think this is just some sort of cold virus, but it's got the potential to be pretty nasty. A couple days ago I noticed that Jacob was coughing. I'm sort of used to it, because he's had so much trouble with coughs in the past (like nine months of the first year of his life), but he hasn't battled it as much this winter as in the past so it surprised me a bit when I noticed it the other night. I was really hoping it was just a fluke--one bad night of congestion, one tickle in his throat--but then it continued. He coughed in bunches, and then it started being more spread out over the course of the day. Then this morning the cough was joined by a runny nose. So far it's been clear, but I'm guessing that won't last. When we went into daycare this morning, I mentioned the symptoms, and they said to watch him closely, as other kids with coughs ended up with 103-105 degree temperatures. Lovely.

This afternoon when I picked Jacob up, they said that they checked his temperature at 5pm, and it came back at 100. He didn't seem too phased by it, though. But as we were leaving he started to get a little whiny. I suggested pancakes for dinner, which seemed to perk him up, and we headed out. He ate great, though...good enough to get himself a treat, which he ended up eating very little of. We had a decent evening (Craig's got a game), and I got him down a few minutes early. When I checked his temperature, I couldn't get it up to even 99, so I'm not sure if their check was a fluke or if his body was fighting it off. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Every now and then I hear a cough coming over the monitor, and it makes me sad. I've listened to coughs like that so many times before, and it's so helpless. No amount of water helps, and toddlers can't take cough medicine. I gave him some Motrin to help him through the night--he was complaining of a sore throat, and I can imagine he's just generally uncomfortable, regardless of any specific symptoms--and that's about all I can do. We all need a good night of sleep, for so many reasons. Not the least of which is my ability to deal with a whiny child, which is inevitably Jacob's most obvious symptom when he's sick.

Every time Jacob gets sick, I'm full of mixed emotions. I mean, I hate to see him sick. It's so hard to watch your child go through illness after illness, and you worry about how it will impact them--both in the long run and short run. You don't want it to hold them back or ruin fun opportunities. I often feel like Jacob hasn't gained weight like some kids just because every illness interrupts any appetite growth. For a kid that hasn't fully figured out how much he likes food yet, I guess there isn't much reason to eat if you're not hungry. On the other hand, I often find myself amazed by how well Jacob usually does when he's sick. He keeps his energy up, and other than general whinyness, he doesn't seem to have many symptom-specific complaints. At first glance, I'm happy because I'm hoping it just isn't bothering him as much as we'd expect. But then I think about it and worry that it doesn't bother him because he's so used to it. After being sick for so long, maybe he just thinks this is how it goes...and that's such a sad thought. He's too young to have to think that way. He's a trooper, but he shouldn't have to be. There's all this talk about how kids in daycare build up all these immunities, but despite having what seems like every illness under the sun, I'm still not seeing it. Maybe we will be the time he's in school. But right now it's hard to deal with the constant onslaught.

I know it could be so much worse. I'm well aware, probably even moreso after the whole mole removal issue. It could have been cancer. Next time it might not end so simply. God forbid, but it's possible. So in comparison, a nasty cold is nothing. But it's not nothing to Jacob. He's the one constantly having to go through all of this, and it's sad. I pray the onslaught stops and spring gets here quickly. It's not a cure-all, but it helps. In the meantime, we're heading into a weekend of unknowns. Let's hope we come out unscathed.

Photo Friday

I had a couple photos and a funny video get lost in the shuffle, so I figured I'd post them today. Here's the best of a series of pictures I tried to take of Jacob sitting with Craig in the broadcast booth at a recent Knighthawks game. Jacob was doing a really bad, squinty cheese face for the rest, so looking at his daddy with joy seemed to be the better option.

The next day, we went out to lunch at the new Zebb's down the road from us. We somehow kept Jacob entertained using primarily the ketchup and mustard. Craig had created "Ketchup Man" a while back (can't remember if it was at home or another restaurant), a walking, talking ketchup bottle that Jacob found very funny. We added mustard into the mix this time, and Jacob was enjoying having them play soccer with a balled-up straw paper.
And here's a little of the action, in action :)

Welcome to our world.

Not much else to report this week. Craig's got a busy weekend of work, so Jacob and I are mostly on our own. Maybe a game, another visit to BJ's to renew my office's account, and hopefully some sort of interesting other activity that I can think up. I really want to do something "fun" instead of just sitting around the house or running decidedly un-fun errands. Jacob deserves better than that, even if it only lasts for a little while. As much as the zoo trip screwed up our schedule a couple weeks ago, it wasn't really that hard to do and I think Jacob really enjoyed himself. He should have the opportunity to do more of that. After all, it's not his fault that it's snowy and freezing out and playing outside isn't exactly at the top of my list. But maybe we should do just that. We have a sled, and even though I still don't have boots or snow pants, I can certainly rig something up for as long as it takes to tire him out or get too cold. Hmmm...perhaps I'll have to psyche myself up for that. Anyway, have a nice weekend and stay warm!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Could Have Been

Recently I was wandering around Facebook and happened upon some pictures of the daughter of an old friend of mine. We were friends in grade school and drifted apart in high school, as she took one route and I took another. This is actually also the friend initially responsible for my obsession with hockey, which, of course, eventually changed the entire trajectory of my life. We were very good friends for a very long time, and then things changed somewhere in 9th grade. She started hanging out with one group, and I veered toward another. My group was decidedly more academic, whereas her group...well...suffice it to say that she was voted "Most Likely to be Found in the Parking Lot" in our senior superlatives (and yes, that was really a category). As I recall she actually ended up graduating early, and I do remember seeing her at our graduation in June...completely unaware that she was already pregnant.

Back in the day I never would have pegged her for the teenage pregnancy/unwed mom type. We both had had great upbringings with Christian parents, attending a Christian school and going to church, doing well in school, and generally staying out of trouble. We both shared the awkward position of having family heavily involved at our school. Ultimately it was a good thing because it provided motivation to keep us in line, but for years people accused us of receiving special treatment. Not true, but whatever! But more than anything, I figured she'd be fine because she was a hardcore tomboy for years. I got into hockey because of her, and looking back she seemed to be one of those girls who was too busy with sports to get into trouble. She rode horses and played hockey, among other things. But at some point those activities must have trailed off in favor of something else. Maybe she just felt the need to branch out. I was saddened by how we grew apart, and by the time we graduated I didn't even know her.

Five or so months later, I heard she had a baby. She had a little girl, gave her an unconventional name, and beyond that I only heard snippets. I saw pictures from time to time, and I was constantly amazed at how much her daughter looked like her when she was that age. At some point she and her parents moved elsewhere in the state. My parents actually visited her parents not that long ago, and spent the day with them and my friend's daughter. To this day, I have no idea what my friend does for a living, what her relationship is with her daughter's father, or how her life has been in the past 14+ years. And I suppose it's none of my business. All I know is that she has a 14 year old daughter that looks amazingly like her.

So why I am I posting all of this? Well, I guess it just blows my mind, in more ways than one. For one, I can't believe how time flies. I remember when she'd just had the baby, and now her baby is 14. Where did that time go? Secondly, I can't even imagine what it would be like to have a teenager right now, nor to have gone through the most of my adult life with a child.

Believe it or not, this isn't the first time I've had to come to terms with a situation like this. Another one of my good friends from grade school had a baby during our junior year of high school. We had lost touch long before as she went to public school prior to 8th grade, but the news shocked me. I still vividly remember standing in the narthex at church watching her baby's private baptism from afar, completely blown away that someone my age who I had once known had actually had a baby. A year or so ago she friended me on Facebook, a pleasant surprise. I was shocked to see pictures of her two daughters, the oldest of whom is now 15 and quite beautiful. My friend looks similar to how I remember her, but I feel like she now looks a lot older than me. Maybe it's just because I remember her at age 12, or maybe it's just the photos, but maybe it's just been a hard life raising two girls alone. Not for me to say.

But long story short, it is immensely hard for me to process what it would be like to have a child in high school right now. I can barely handle the terrible twos, let alone the prospect of sex, drugs, and schoolwork. They were handling the terrible twos before they were even in their 20s, when I was just tackling college and trying to get my life up and running. Now all these years have passed, and I'm finally the one in baby mode, while they're sending kids off to high school. Their kids are now as old or older than the age at which I was last friends with them. And that's just odd. I can't even begin to imagine what they've been through. I know that it's hard enough doing the parenthood thing with a husband, two incomes, and in our own house, so I can't even fathom what it was like to do it as a teenager, with no college degree (and presumably a corresponding job), and no officially committed partner. I'm sure their parents were a huge help during those years, though I wonder how their parents felt watching their kids go through something like that at such a young age. Did they have the same excitement as your average grandparents, or was it ever so slightly tinged with sorrow or regret?

Please understand that I'm not trying to judge them or belittle their situation in life. Granted, that isn't the way most people want to structure their lives, but maybe it worked for them and they wouldn't change a thing. I know there are things in my past that I'd probably like to have done differently, but I know that each of those steps (no matter how regrettable) got me to where I am today. And with a wonderful husband, amazing little boy, and a great job, I can't say I'd really want to change much for fear it would change my current circumstances beyond recognition.

And I would have to think they are much the same. While they might regret the situations they put themselves in--the stress it caused, the opportunities it might have blocked--I can't imagine that they would trade their kids for anything...and if they didn't do things in the way they did, they probably wouldn't have the kids they have now. Even if they do regret the decisions they made, there's no sense looking backward. This is their reality, and I'm sure there is plenty of good to be found. And if not, then the focus should be on making better decisions moving forward. But I have a feeling they're long past any regrets and are at peace with their lives. And just think, they'll have an empty nest while in their 40s, when the rest of us are just getting to the stage they're at now. They'll reclaim the freedom they lost long before those of us who did things a bit more traditionally. It'll be a different sort of freedom, but I imagine it'll have its own perks as well.

Still, in looking at that picture on Facebook, it boggled my mind a bit to contrast my baby with that grown up girl. It's easy to forget that Jacob will someday be that age, and it will happen quicker than we realize. Some of us go about things vastly different than others, and there are pros and cons to each side. But as parents, we all have one thing in common: We all do our best to do what's best for our children. Regardless of when those decisions are made, or how we make them, it's a common goal. So, while looking at that picture is a startling reminder of how different our paths have been, deep down, we're not that different after all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Leg

We're now over two weeks past Jacob's mole removal surgery, and here's a couple views of the scar. It's probably close to 3/4 of an inch long. It's hard to see in these pictures, but the ends currently stick up and the center dips down. Apparently this is normal. It's a pretty significant scar, but the surgeon says that it could take a year to fully heal. Regardless, it's much less scary to see a scar than a menacing looking mole...The healing process has been going fine. The bandages fell off like they said they would, and we've been treating it with polysporin. Moving forward we just have to keep it moist with lotion and massage it. Supposedly the scar is going to look worse before it looks better, and we will be going back to the surgeon one more time in a couple months to double check it.

As far as the pathology goes...Jacob is fine. They definitely got all of the offending tissue, and it wasn't cancerous. However, the makeup of it was slightly irregular so we definitely need to keep a close eye on Jacob's body as time goes on. We need to go for a follow-up visit with the dermatologist we originally saw. I imagine we'll be going there for a baseline exam, and if we start noticing additional changes to his skin, we'd have to go back. I'm hoping it's not going to be too frequent, as I'm not too excited about the prospect of more $40 co-pays. We'll do it, obviously, but between this and his twice-per-year visits to the pediatric pulmonary doctor, it gets to be pricey. I really should go to a dermatologist myself, just because of a family history of skin cancer and plenty of moles to get double checked, but I've been holding off myself. If only they could combine our visits! I've only noticed one other blemish on Jacob's body--a small, light colored mole on his scalp--so I feel like this is an easy enough thing to keep an eye on long-term.

It's scary that he has to deal with stuff like this already, but hopefully this was just an isolated thing and he'll never have to worry about it again. We're pretty diligent with the sunscreen, so I'm hoping that we'll be doing all we can to avoid more problems. However, for now, I'm just glad it's over.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Parent-Teacher Conference

So Friday was my first parent-teacher conference. I wasn't sure what to expect, and I guess I'm glad I didn't have any expectations, because it wasn't too interesting. I basically looked over a checklist, had the opportunity to ask questions, and we chatted a bit about our difficulties with Jacob. The biggest issue they have with him is that he doesn't play with toys appropriately. Everything somehow turns into sports. I guess he's finally starting to get a little better with that, playing with the kitchen stuff a little more appropriately. But I know that most of what he talks about at home is sports-related, and I'm sure it's much the same there, even when they do other activities that have absolutely nothing to do with sports. They want us to encourage him to play with toys appropriately, but unfortunately most of what he's got at home is, indeed, sports-related. We don't have a lot of non-sports toys because he doesn't want to play with them. what?

But the more I think about it, what's so wrong with making toys work for his interests? It displays creativity, right? At least he's imaginative. Yeah, I get that he needs to be able to play nice with his friends and follow rules. He can't be trying to shoot Legos when everyone else is building towers, but I have this feeling that eventually he'd get that others wouldn't want to play with him and he'd conform a bit more. This can't last forever, right? There always has to be one oddball, and I guess he's ours.

They don't seem to have any other issues with him that we should be concerned with. I think anything he's going through is age-appropriate. They'd like him to be more verbal when he's upset, and I couldn't agree more. Nothing bugs me more than when he's upset and instead of talking about it, he just whines or screams. He needs to learn how to talk about it and express his feelings. I encourage him to do that but it doesn't seem to work. He does lose it a bit when he's upset, hence my tendency to try to pull him aside and try some form of timeout, because that's the only way to get him calm enough to start using his words again.

But as a whole it was pretty low key. He was happy to see me there to pick him up early if nothing else. We were planning on having a nice dinner with Craig, but it turned out that Craig had to work for a good chunk of the evening, so we could only meet him for a quick dinner at Moe's in Henrietta before heading back home for the night. Saturday was a doubleheader for Craig. I hated to miss a Knighthawks game, but since that was the afternoon game and the evening Amerks game featured one of my favorite acts ever, the Zooperstars, we were going to skip the matinee. I needed to run a couple errands in the morning and of course Jacob fell asleep in the middle of them, which threw off the rest of the day. I did manage to get a pair of wellies (rubber rain boots) for just $7--cute black and gray plaid--which will be outstanding in the spring mud and on our visits to the pumpkin patch or any other messy outing. I'm planning on getting a pair for Jacob this spring because I have a feeling the playground might get messy. We'll see if I can find them cheap. Anyway, we came home and had some lunch. I knew he wouldn't nap right away, so I tried to get him down later when I could no longer keep my eyes open. Did I mention that despite late nights all weekend, Jacob didn't sleep in at all? Ugh. After trying to get him to nap with me, I relegated him to his crib. He only cried a few minutes and went down for over an hour. He probably would have slept longer, but it was getting late and we needed to eat dinner before heading out to the hockey game. Lori came over to go to the game with us, and we reluctantly headed out into the snow. It ended up being worth it, as the Zooperstars were funny and we had a good time. And in case you're not familiar with the Zooperstars, here are a few pictures. They're basically giant inflatable mascots. They're all animals based on a professional athlete. That night we saw Mario LeMule, Whale Gretzky, Bobby Orrangutan, Alex Frogriguez, Mackerel Jordan, and Peyton Manatee (no, not sure why they sent those last three, especially because I know there are more hockey guys out there). But anyway, the costumes are somehow rigged up to do funny things--wiggle ears, shoot silly string, gyrate bizarrely--and they generally dance to music, slam themselves against the glass, and do random skits. Every time I've seen them, one character literally eats a human--enveloping him into the inflatable costume. It's funny. Here they were dancing to the Tootsie Roll, if you remember that song.

Later they ventured out into the stands. Here's Mario LeMule...

And here is Peyton Mantee invading someone's personal space...crazy!

At first Jacob was afraid of them (maybe their heads banging off the glass wildly had something to do with it), but by the end he started to see the humor. He's been pretending to walk around like one ever since. Kid doesn't miss a thing.

Sunday we slept in and went to church late. It was a bit of a trying experience, but we got through it without any major scenes. Of course, Jacob fell asleep on the way home and slept right through lunch. After Jacob's late lunch and an afternoon of playing and hanging out, we headed off to our friends' Superbowl party. We're always the youngest couple there, and only one other couple brings a kid (he's older, maybe 10, but he does play with Jacob a bit, which is nice), but we still have a good time every year. Oh, and we eat ridiculously well because they cater it. And this year they sent a bunch home with us...dinner for two nights! We ended up taking Jacob's hockey rink just because it's the one thing that will hold his attention for long spans, and it did keep him occupied for quite a while. It fit perfectly in my reusable IKEA bag so it was an easy thing to bring. He got a little loopy near the end when he was getting tired, but other than that, he was pretty good. He searched for their cat, played with his game, snuck treats, and devoured a cupcake. It was really a fun evening.

So now we're back to the grind for another week. Check in tomorrow for the update on Jacob's mole removal...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Big Boy

I've been feeling a bit conflicted these days about Jacob's "big boy" status. I mean, he's really getting to be a big boy, at least compared to the little baby that we had for so long. He's a bona fide kid these days if you look at him, but then he has one of those moments when he doesn't act like a big boy and he might as well be the screaming six-month-old all over again. Some days he eats like when he was a baby (read: not well), sleeps like he's a baby (not "like a baby", unfortunately), and just generally acts like less than the big boy he could be. He's impatient about everything, afraid of this or cranky about that, and I feel like things haven't progressed at all. He's two going on three, so I know that moments like that are par for the course. He's not going to be logical or mostly cooperative for a while, and most likely by then we'll have another baby to challenge us at every turn.

This is sort of an odd age we're at (I'm sure I'll say that a lot for years to come), because everyone is on the cusp of major growing up milestones. Big boy underwear and big boy beds, among other things, really seem to separate the big boys from the babies. Every time I come into daycare and hear another parent talking about their kid's big milestones, I start panicking a bit. I know no normal child will go to kindergarten in diapers, and I'm sure we'll get through the big boy bed situation at some point, but I'm having trouble finding a happy medium where we're challenging him but also not putting him in a position to fail...or to make our lives miserable.

There are times it's easier to keep him a baby, and other times when I long for big boy behavior. For example, I try to encourage him to walk next me a lot of the time, though admittedly it is easier some days (particularly when it's cold, wet, and snowy) to just pick him up and go. I almost always carry him back to the car from daycare because I don't want slushy boots on my seats, and I carry him for the cold walk from the car to the arena (and back) when we go to Amerks or Knighthawks games, just because it's too darn cold to walk slow. But I encourage him to walk a lot of the rest of the time. Of course, lately he's been pulling a "Carry Me!" at the most inopportune time, and won't budge unless I do. Ugh. Are the mixed messages a problem? Maybe. I also encourage him to get himself in and out of his car seat, but in the midst of the ice and snow, I'd like to prevent wet, dirty shoes from destroying my car seats. It's also a big drop to get out. Some days he'd sit there forever without getting his arms out out of straps, so I end up doing it for him again, knowing that I'm not forcing him to be independent. When we're in a hurry, I only have so much patience.

Now let's take the big boy bed as another example. So many people tell you, "Keep your kid in the crib as long as you can." If they're not climbing out, keep them there. They'll sleep better and they're contained. It's safer and gives us a lot more peace of mind, if nothing else. Jacob is still happy there, but sometimes I ponder the idea, just because he is becoming a big boy and so many other kids his age have moved on. It would be nice for him to have free access to his bed--to take random naps (which might never ever happen--he's never randomly fallen asleep while playing (at least not for me) and weekend naptimes are always a tad challenging), to grab his stuffed animals, or curl up to read. I'd love to read bedtime stories in bed with him, though I'm not sure his converted crib is built to handle my weight, so that might have to wait for the real big boy bed. But I'm dreading giving him access to the world outside his crib, because I have a feeling he will never stay there no matter how we explain that he needs to. We may need to gate his doorway or put a child-safety device on his doorknob to prevent unwanted escapes, and we'll have to prepare ourselves for at least a couple incidents of a destroyed bedroom if he's locked in there and being forced to sleep when he doesn't want to. I'm not sure I'm ready for that, or for random wakeups or middle-of-the-night escapes. Do we gate the stairs just in case? Revamp his room so he's got no reason to bother getting out of bed? I'm just not sure. I know we'll have to get there, and I do want to encourage him to be a big boy with a big boy bed, but I'm not sure if any of us are ready for it yet. I do like the thought of not having to get up with him on weekends. If he's up early we do tend to let him play downstairs while we stay in bed, keeping an ear open but generally able to trust he's playing nicely.

And oh, potty training. I have no idea what to do about this issue. Jacob was doing really good at one point about using the potty, and I thought we might have a good head start. But then he regressed a bit. He was still fine with sitting on the potty, and even going, but it was harder to get him there. After a month or so of real regression, I worked up the potty chart. He's more or less back to even--being fine with sitting on the potty and even being a little more proactive about it. But despite a few bright spots, he's still not telling us when he has to poop, and really won't tell us when he has to pee. If we happen to catch him, great...but he's not offering up too frequently. This weekend I tried a little experiment. He was begging to wear his big boy underwear, but obviously he's not ready. Even still, I told him that he could wear them with a pull-up over them. I figured I'd give him a shot, and if he wet himself, maybe he'd get that wet sensation and decide he wants to stay dry. I know that the pull-up still gives him that diaper feeling, though, but it was an easy way to test things without doing major cleanup. Both days he did wet himself despite me repeatedly asking if he had to go. They weren't soaked--just spotty--but wet nonetheless. However, one other thing happened--twice--that is starting to make me wonder. Twice this weekend while we were picking out post-potty stickers, he had some significant dribbles right on the floor. More than just drips, but not a full-out pee. But considering it was right after a solid potty-going, I'm not sure what's going on. I'm starting to wonder if we might be dealing with an immature bladder that's just not capable yet. It would explain the dribbling as well as the slightly wet--but not soaked--underwear. Sometimes it seems like he can hold enough in to do a big pee, but other times he struggles to get a decent amount out. Sometimes I think he just asks to pee so he can get a sticker, even if he just did a big one in his diaper. And then, of course, he gets frustrated when he can't go and can't get a sticker. Sometimes I think we should jump headfirst into potty training--naked time (but with carpet? Ugh...maybe we'll just wait for summer), every-15-minute sessions, etc., but I'm not sure any of us are ready to commit to that either. His third birthday is still my target, but now that some of his friends are into it, it's hard to ignore. We've got 11 pairs of big boy underwear ready to go at any moment (I bought more this weekend...five isn't enough once the accidents start), so it would be nice to get them some use. But if he's not ready, we'll just have to deal with that.

Thinking about all of this, sometimes I'm not sure who needs to grow up more--me or him. A lot of these steps are big, and not without pitfalls and difficulties. It's easy to get comfortable and give yourself what appears to be a well-deserved (and much needed) break from toddler dramas. It's nice getting sleep most of the time and not having to learn so much so quickly just to keep your child alive and well. When you can catch a break from that stuff, it seems crazy to willingly plunge yourself back into it. But I suppose sometimes that's exactly what needs to happen. It's not really any fun watching your child fall behind their peers, no matter what the activity may be or what your child's actual ability level is. So even if Jacob really isn't physically ready to potty train, it's hard to know his friends are. It's hard to be patient and lay off the pressure, yet continue to realistically support and encourage his efforts. And it's extra hard to eventually explain to your child why they can't do the things their friends do just yet. I didn't think I'd have to have the "Life's not fair" conversation (not the "Life isn't fair!" argument, which is something totally different!) this early on, but it may happen. In the meantime I'm not sure whether to continue the underwear tests when we have the time, or hold off for a while so as not to dull the excitement or potentially bum him out each time he's wet while wearing them. I'll have to work on hiding my disappointment when it happens, if nothing else. Now that I have a couple pieces of evidence that it's not just a mental thing, I think that will start to get easier.

Still, I'm constantly amazed by my big boy and so proud of what he has become. We have a long road ahead of us, and with him around, it'll definitely be an interesting ride!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Strep & Stuff

As I mentioned the other day, Jacob has finally come down with strep throat. Craig and I estimated that he'd had four strep tests this winter, thanks to many ill-timed colds that appeared at the same time as a strep outbreak at daycare. Poor kid. Even though he seems to be feeling fine for the most part, he had to stay home yesterday to give the antibiotics time to work. (Un)Fortunately, Craig wasn't feeling too hot himself, so he stayed home, too. He had a sore throat on Sunday night and by yesterday he was feeling pretty crappy. He got an early appointment at the doctor and called me around 11am yesterday to say that he, too, had strep. The boys spent their day waiting for Craig's prescription at Wegmans, watching movies, and eating cheesy popcorn, which was something Craig had been promising to Jacob for a while (yeah, I don't know...must be a guy thing). Meanwhile, I've been wondering when my turn is coming, as I think of every time I kissed either of them, ate something Jacob left on his plate, or shared a bathroom hand towel in the past week. So far so good, though I've been battling headaches here and there. I'm also really tired today (what else is new?), but I'm thinking that probably has more to do with this morning's early wake-up and subsequent shoveling workout than anything else. I'd really like to make it through Sunday healthy, if possible, or if I have to get sick, start feeling it ASAP and get meds now, so I can still go to our friends' annual Superbowl party. We missed it a couple years ago because I was sick, and I'd hate to miss it again. It's a lot of fun and we don't get to go out and do those sorts of things (i.e., hanging out with other adults) often, even if it is with Jacob in tow.

Thinking back to that missed Superbowl party made me look back in the blog a bit, and I smiled when I read the first sentence of my post from three (!) years ago today..."Today I made it my mission to find some maternity pants." I'm not sure what exactly about that statement made me smile...whether it was the image of a simpler time or just remembering all too well the drama that maternity shopping entailed for me. I remember that trip well, standing in the fitting room at Old Navy trying to figure out what pair of pants would work with a belly I didn't have yet. Turns out that the jeans I got I loved, and even more amazing, I still dream of the pair of khakis I got. At the time I wasn't sure about them, but they were cheap and looked ok. Turns out that they fit pregnant me so perfectly that they became my favorite pants and I still wish I could find pants that made me feel that good. After all the effort I put into that wardrobe, I really do look forward to pulling that bin out someday for round two.

It was a little disappointing today that we didn't get a snow day. They had predicted over a foot of snow, but we only ended up getting a few inches. Those inches made for plenty of shoveling this morning thanks to freezing rain, a huge plow pile at the end of the driveway, and densely blown drifts. We were up and shoveled out, and I was dressed before Jacob even woke up. He did pretty well on his first day back to school, though I did get the warning from his teachers to take him back to the doctor after he's done with the antibiotics, just because many of the strep cases haven't been responding. Awesome.

This Friday is my first parent-teacher conference. I didn't do one last year because Jacob was too new and I didn't think any appraisal would be fair--particularly since he was having a few bad weeks this time last year. New daycare, teething, one illness after another...and with bad sleeping along with it, I just didn't think there could be anything good to discuss after a month with new caregivers. This year, however, I'm interested to hear what they have to say. I have a little apprehension that I still won't like it, but at least this time there's been enough time for them to make a fair statement. I'm figuring it won't be anything I don't know--he's smart, he doesn't listen--but maybe it'll just be a nice open forum for anything random that comes up...brainstorming for potty training, thoughts on what we could help him with at home, stuff he loves, etc. Unlike his old daycare, we don't get a lot of chatty time. They had a book I could leave notes in every day, and I just clicked with them a lot better and wanted to stay and chat. This daycare is just different and you're lucky to catch a spare moment to chat. It's not that they're not willing, it's just that there's a lot of kids and a lot going on. Interestingly, even though I don't have any specific beefs with the current one, I think I have a good knowledge base from this experience to ask the right questions if we ever switch again. So anyway, it should be interesting to hear their thoughts.

Jacob's bandage on his leg has been trimmed down quite a bit as the edges peel off, but there's still a patch covering all of the core of the wound. I'm very curious to see what's under there. I assume that if it doesn't fall off, they'll take the rest off when we go to his follow-up next Tuesday. I also assume that will be when we'll get confirmation about the lab results of the tissue. I'm guessing that if we haven't heard anything it's probably fine, but maybe it takes longer than we think to sort through it all.

Not much else to report. The potty chart has been only modestly successful. He likes the stickers but it still hasn't convinced him to pee in it regularly or to learn how to know the difference between having to pee and not having to pee. He's been testing us all around lately, ignoring us or giving smart responses, and making meals and potty time generally difficult. It hasn't been horrible (though I do feel like I spend a lot of time yelling at him), but it's made things difficult. Almost like a passive agressive thing or something. Someday he'll understand that listening to us makes things easier. Someday. Maybe.

We hope the snow hasn't overtaken your world...stay warm and drive safely!