Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tuesday Short(ish) Shots

- I spent much of the morning staring out my window at work. I could literally see Jacob's field trip destination from my desk, just a couple blocks over. His daycare has a membership at the Strong National Museum of Play, so they go there once in a while. Jacob gets excited when he sees the little white bus--fully equipped with carseats--sitting in the daycare parking lot. Usually it means a field trip isn't far off. Recently they had to replace the bus' battery, so this one was a bit delayed, but today was the day. Whenever Jacob noticed the bus, he'd tell me that he wanted me to come on the field trip with him. Cue the Mommy Guilt. But oh, how I'd like to. Based on previous experiences at the museum, the thought of chaperoning a trip there is a little stressful, but I have a feeling they must have a very controlled method that keeps the kids manageable. It's hard enough to not lose one or two kids when they're all you have, but dealing with ten? It's hard to imagine. The trips are always short as they need to get there at 10am and get back by lunchtime and naptime, but Jacob always seems to enjoy them. And I would love to watch him in action. I really should just duck out of work one of these times and make up the time later, though I do worry about how Jacob would react when he has to go back to daycare and I go back to work. But now that I have nearly four weeks of vacation, I really should just set aside a day or two for field trips.


- Yesterday I read the most heartbreaking article about a couple from Brooklyn who got diagnosed with advanced cancers nine days apart. They have an 18-month-old daughter. I can't even fathom. He's got stage 3 colorectal cancer and she's got stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Her odds of surviving are around 10%, his around 60%. And they were diagnosed NINE DAYS apart. They're both exhausted from going through chemo right now, and I can't imagine the strain of worrying about their daughter's well-being, their spouse's health, and their own fight, all at the same time. There's a blog that they're doing to keep people updated, but I haven't started following it yet because I just don't know if I want to know. It's too hard to think about. It's certainly a reminder of how blessed we are, but considering I'm lucky enough to be able to make the choice whether to think about something like that or not (as obviously they can't), should I take advantage of that? I can't decide if that's selfish or self-preservation. Either way, it's an unthinkable situation.


- Yesterday I sent out a request on Facebook for recommendations on ear, nose & throat doctors. I finally called one to set up an appointment for the loss of smell and taste I've experienced over the past couple years. I don't think I realized how long it had been until I was reading back to some blog posts from two years ago and I was already having the problem then. I mentioned it in reference to not being able to smell Jacob's poopy diaper. Then last winter before the move we had a small gas leak when someone came to "fix" our furnace, and I couldn't smell that either. Then yesterday I really didn't enjoy the donut I ate because I could barely taste it, and for whatever reason, that was the last straw. I miss tasting my food, darn it. I think I'd eat less of it if I could actually have a satisfying taste experience the first time around. To be clear, it's not that I don't taste or smell anything. It's just very picky and I don't pick up subtle smells or tastes at all. It's sad. I'm hoping it can be fixed, because if nothing else, it's important to smell things to keep you and your family safe and happy, be it natural gas, smoke, or a poopy diaper. Of course, I couldn't get an appointment until May (I may try one other group to see if I can get in sooner), but at least I took the first step...finally. I don't know what I was waiting for, other than thinking the netipot or nose sprays or time would magically make it come back, or that I was too worried it might be permanent and didn't want to get the bad news. By most accounts it doesn't seem like it should be permanent (maybe just polyps or chronic inflammation), but it's high time I found out.


- As of tonight, Jacob has three of his hockey sticks back in his possession. That's the most he's had since he got them taken away a few weeks ago. He's had a few four-sticker days in the last week, and no disasters (one was close, though), so he's got three. A bad day (one sticker or a horrendous evening) subtracts one, and a return to overall bad behavior means they all go away again. We haven't had to resort to that yet. Three is good, as it means the good outweighs the bad.


- I finally got the faceoff picture from Saturday night's on-field fun to work. Here it is...and yes, he put the ball there himself, unprompted.

- Here's the video I promised of him scooping the ball, from a couple weekends ago. He's talented, that's for sure. When he meets people that know he likes sports, they'll be like, "Are you going to play lacrosse?" And while I know they probably mean competitive lacrosse, I can't help but think Jacob thinks he does play lacrosse. And he's pretty good at it. We'll see how he does when there are other kids around, though...in any sport.

Monday, March 28, 2011

On the Field

We had a good but generally low-key weekend. Jacob and I stayed home Friday night while Craig worked. He had an iffy day at daycare (only two stickers, though he did supposedly get four, not one, on Thursday. Craig might have looked at the board wrong), but it wasn't a bad night. Saturday was much the same...close to home, good day. Jacob and I went out for dinner and then headed to the Knighthawks game. Dinner took a lot of convincing, but not only did Jacob sit in the booth with me, but he also ate his entire taco. I think he's finally starting to believe us that he needs to eat his food so he can grow up and be a big hockey guy/lacrosse guy. He still doesn't have the patience to do it well, but he's learning, I think. We headed off to the lacrosse game and he was extra excited because I told him that if he had a good day and slept well (both the night before and that day's nap), we could stay after the game for when they open up the field for autographs. He's wanted to go on the field all season, but it's always SO late. But I figured we'd sacrifice one Sunday for one great experience for him. He managed to stay awake the whole game and patiently waited for the field to open and the crowd to clear out a bit. And once he hit that field, he didn't stop. I tried to snap some pictures but so many of them were blurry! I did manage to get a decent group, though. I wanted to include one more faceoff picture, but for some reason Blogger kept rotating it wrong. Odd. Maybe another day and another computer. But here's what I got...
And even though you don't see his great scooping abilities here--the ball we brought was too light and it kept popping back out of his stick, so by this point he'd given up--you'll get an idea of what he was like. And he did this for at least 20 minutes, maybe longer, nearly non-stop.



We had to leave the field kicking and screaming, but it was well after 10:30 and bed was calling. He told me in the car that he "had a lot of fun" and he's been talking about it ever since. He didn't even fall asleep on the way home. Late night, but he was so happy that it was worth it.


Sunday was pretty much a lost cause. Church was difficult as usual. The one out-of-the-ordinary moment was when we went up to communion. Jacob's walked up with us plenty of times, but only this week did he get up there and want some. He held out his hand, which elicited snickers from the people around us. Of course, I'm sure the snickers stopped when he started saying that he wanted some and then started screaming a bit. I scooped him up quickly and explained that he couldn't have it until he was a big boy. I'm still stumped about church. Do we stick it out until he's old enough for Sunday school this summer (I think), and then just send him there while we're at church? Do we give up now and send him to the nursery to save our sanity and spiritual experience? I worry about him thinking church is just about playing, or getting out of the habit of being expected to sit quietly. Not that he does ever sit quietly, but he knows he's supposed to. I need him to sit quietly sometimes no matter what (my parents' church, holiday weeks without Sunday school, etc.), so it's scary to let him get out of that habit. It's so hard.


After an early nap and despite some not-great moments, Sunday did improve a bit. Bedtime was still tough and dinner out was on the edge, but he did enjoy eating a ridiculous number of peanuts at Five Guys Burgers & Fries. Thank God that kid isn't allergic--for so many reasons--but he seriously loves peanuts and peanut butter so much. The protein's good for him, so I'm letting him have PB&J quite a bit when dinner's sort of informal. Throw in some healthy sides and anything's workable.


He had a good day today (four stickers), a good evening (Craig's annual Tip-a-Knighthawk event was tonight--Jacob ate TWO pieces of pizza and enjoyed the Eagle again), and a pleasant night (successful potty time, fun bath, and easy bedtime). I still don't know the key to his behavior, but I still think sleep is important, keeping him busy is essential, and trying to praise him for good big-boy behavior never hurts. He can be so great sometimes, so when things go well, it's a nice validation that we're doing something right. Stupid terrible twos. But with that, I'm all wiped out. Night :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Up and Down

It's been a roller coaster week behavior-wise. It actually started out really well. I have no idea if it was the sticker chart at daycare, or just that Jacob literally seemed to be "getting it" more and more. He wasn't perfect, by any means, but he was pretty good most of the time and I was actually having fun with him, so that was a good sign. He had consistently gotten three or four stickers out of five at daycare all week, and even got the elusive Listening sticker the last couple days. That's huge. I made sure to tell him a bunch that I was proud of him and how happy it made me that he was listening and being a good boy. I told him how much fun I was having with him, and how his good behavior was the reason. On days when he got four stickers or got his listening sticker, he'd get a treat, usually a jellybean or two. Sounds small, but they're special and he really likes them so it seems to work. Perhaps that will be our next potty training tactic.

Even if it's been taking some effort to get him to eat his dinner, he's been eating it. And that brought another reward--either a cookie or M&M's. So much for all those experts that say not to use food as a reward. Oh well. As I mentioned, we have still been holding his hockey sticks for ransom. He got one back with his first four-sticker day, and despite a couple close calls, he managed to keep it all week. Until last night. More on that in a bit.

Having him behave so well brought such peace to my world. Less yelling, less fighting, and much more fun. It really made the week very pleasant. It was such a sharp contrast to how he was acting before that it made me wonder if it was caused by him being sick (he's had some sort of cold for a while...starting to think we should go to the doctor, though it's been better lately), or if he just started understanding that his behavior was a problem, or what. There's just no way to know. But I wasn't really questioning it...just enjoying it.


Well, then last night happened. As usual he was a little difficult at daycare pickup. He'd gotten four stickers so I said he could get another hockey stick back. He's been nearly obsessed with the book fair setup at daycare this week, and he's been asking for books. I'm planning on getting him at least one, and I said he could get another one if he got all five stickers. Well, first he wouldn't leave the table (or kept running back to it) when I was trying to get his boots and coat on, and then he kept looking at these darn books--there are two Spongebob Squarepants books about sports, one soccer and one baseball, that I am refusing to get him. Spongebob, or "Bob", as we call him, is a bit more mature of a character than I want for Jacob right now, sports or not.

Anyway, once we finally got out of daycare amidst much kicking and screaming (literally), we had to go to Wegmans. It all started out easy enough, but then he got going--kicking off his boots, taking off his socks, grabbing things from the shelves, yelling, hitting, trying to grab things out of the cart....all culminating in the piece de resistance, when he grabbed my stack of coupons from the ledge at the register and threw them. Seriously?! And to top it all off, because of that and trying to get his boots on, I missed that the checker didn't give me the full discount for a free coupon I had. Ugh!

So, long story short, he lost the hockey stick he was supposed to get back, as well as the one he's had all week. For the rest of the evening he generally got on my nerves. Lots of screaming (on both sides, actually), lots of issues at dinner (though, again, he ate most of his food), and staying awake in his bed until long after 10pm. Lately he's been wanting to go on the potty after bedtime, and that's a tough conundrum. I don't want to let him push off bedtime (I've nixed bedtime water all together), but I also don't want to squash any attempts to use the potty. He's ended up pooping in his diaper late at night or overnight a couple times this week, which worries me to no end since it sets the stage for poop painting when he gets bored. I was hoping we'd avoid that since he seemed to poop mostly during the day. I guess it's good that poopy diapers have been keeping him up, since it would seem to indicate that he doesn't like the feeling, but that hasn't really seemed to bother him much during the day. Sometimes I think potty training is never going to happen. We may have to ignore the fact that he poops in his diapers completely, because he currently seems to think it's funny to do that. Maybe that's our starting point for the jellybeans.

Tonight was more of the same. He only got one sticker at daycare, and although he was good with Craig at a public skate with the Amerks tonight, he was difficult for the rest of the evening. It's not even that he's directly bad...he just pushes buttons. He knows he's being mischievous, but instead of understanding that it makes us unhappy, he just keeps going. It's brutal. It's so frustrating that it's like night and day, and I just can't figure out what the difference is. Maybe it's a subtle build-up of sleep deprivation. Maybe he just fell back into old habits. Regardless of what it is, I guess I'll finally have to dig into that Supernanny book I got from the library. Maybe the weekend will be better.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Year Later...For Real

Back in October I wrote a post entitled "The Move--A Year Later" that pondered all that had happened in the year since we had started our move process. The fall weather reminded me of those first couple ventures out to open houses, and I reminisced about the whirlwind process that we started on the second we found a house we liked--which, of course, was not the one we ended up with.

Well, fast forward five months and now we are officially one year after the move itself. Actually, it'll truly be a year at the end of the week. However, I can't help but think back and marvel that one year ago this week, I was frantically trying to get packed up. I can't even fathom how crazy things were, or where I found the time or the energy to get it all done. Though I suppose I never did really get it all done. I was still packing when the movers arrived and a lot of stuff just ended up getting thrown on the truck or packed up by one of our awesome helpers, or at worst tossed into a box at the end of the day during the final clean-up. I can still hardly believe we made it through, particularly considering Craig was working most of both Friday (the day we closed) and Saturday (the day we moved). It was nuts. That week was so emotional, so stressful, so crazy, and yet...so worth it. I certainly have no desire to move again anytime soon, and I truly hope we never have to. However, if I knew that our next home would be as great as our current one and we'd be moving into a better situation overall (better job, closer to family, even more space (which I don't think would be an issue unless we decided to go for three kids--yikes)), at least I'd have the knowledge that although the weeks surrounding it are near-torture, the end result is so great. That might ultimately get me through the next one...though I really, really have no desire or need to do it again.

I don't think I realized how much I disliked our old house until I discovered how much I love our new house. For every good thing about the old one, there were a handful of issues that bothered me. And while that may sound picky, it was just always something--the ugly kitchen, the squeaky floors, the torn up baseboard trim, the cramped storage, the purple bathroom upstairs, the 70s bathroom downstairs, the dirty workbench in the basement (which never did get cleaned), the chipping paint on the garage floor, the cracked patio, the lumpy yard with patchy grass, the massive amount of fall raking, the ugly shed, the cracked mortar on the foundation (not structural), the evil holly bushes, the worrisome aluminum wiring, the mice infestation, the insulation the mice destroyed (not only did we need to replace it, but we needed to add more), a looming roof job--the list could go on. So while I was grateful to have a house to call our own, there was always something I would turn around to and be bothered by--either knowing that it was going to be an issue or cost us money. Some were cosmetic, but some weren't. And those were the real problems. Those just stressed us out so frequently that eventually most parts of the house had turned into some sort of "sore spot". And quite frankly, that's sad. We could have continued to live there, but at what mental cost? That is such a first-world problem, I know, but I don't think I realized the toll it was taking until we moved. But at that moment, POOF! Gone. Yes, the added mortgage payment isn't exactly comforting, but knowing that we're in a house that doesn't have any pressing problems and can be our house, comfortably, for a long time, is so wonderful. Inevitably we would have been spending money on the old house that we wouldn't have gotten back and probably wasn't worth it in a house like that, based on the market around us. We did see a similar one near us sell for nearly $20,000 more, but it had an insane kitchen and a built-in pool with a gorgeous fenced yard. But besides that, the comparable homes have sold for similar. Any additional money was probably less than we would have spent to upgrade ours to whatever those houses had to offer. While we didn't make money on our house (and lost a bit if you consider the upgrades we did do--windows, air, front door, garage door), looking back I'm comfortable with the decision...mostly because I truly love our new house.

I walk into our house happy to be there. I joyfully do household tasks like loading the dishwasher because I'm happy to have one. I don't mind doing dishes by hand because I have so many less to do every time. I like cooking more because I have more space, I'm not battling crowded cabinets, and again, I don't have to do as many dishes. My kitchen is pretty and makes me happy, unlike the old one which made me cringe nearly every time I walked in. While I may grumble about doing some of the outdoor work in the summer, there's such a great payback in the form of gorgeous flowers and lush grass, unlike our old house. We have more storage than we need, a fourth room for our office and eventual guest bedroom, a second living space downstairs that will get more use in the years to come, a BLUE bathroom, and so much more. Our living room is huge and gives Jacob plenty of room to run. It's carpeted, which is great because Jacob's constant sporting pursuits would have left our old hardwoods a mess by now...not to mention his body parts.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again...so many things about this house turned out even better than I could have imagined. There were things I didn't know I wanted that our house has that have turned out to be perfect. I'm truly thankful every single day we live there. I like it that much. A year later, I'm excited, relieved, and happy. I look forward to many more years of memories here, and I hope to continue to make this house more our own in the years to come.

A year in, not much has changed. Decorations are up, closets and cabinets are full, but not much else has changed. We haven't really done anything to make it our own. Any wallpaper or flooring that was in place when we moved in, still is. We need to change out carpets in a couple rooms, and one of the big things on my to do list is to take down the wallpaper border in the empty bedroom, which will someday become Jacob's bedroom. I want to do it now, before I'm once again dealing with a border while pregnant. No thanks. I need to get our main carpet cleaned, and I want to get the fireplace checked and learn how to use it. I'd like to replace our storm door with a nicer, safer one down the road, and someday I'd love to look into replacing the paneling in our basement with drywall. I'd like to change out the dated blue sink in our bathroom since it's rusting out a bit. We might also need to paint Jacob's current room someday, if we find out future baby #2 is a boy (bye-bye, Knighthawks purple). We also need to spice up our room a bit, but isn't the master always the last to get the work? At least, that always seemed to be the case on Trading Spaces. But really, that's all cosmetic stuff...not a huge overhaul among them. Such a relief. And the best part? Nothing has to be done right now. We have years to do it, I hope.

I do have a list of organization projects I still need to undertake--things I wanted to do last summer and just never got around to. The garage needs an overhaul and we still have plenty of space in the basement for some of the stuff. There are little things here and there that need tweaking, but in looking back at last year's resolutions for moving into our new house, I think I've succeeding in finding better places for a lot of our stuff. And it's been fun to try.

A year later I am still in awe that we own this house and live here. It's a great place for Jacob to grow up, and will be a great place to bring a new baby home to some day. With the space we have, we'll have one less thing to worry about next time around. We made a great choice, I believe, and it's been one heck of a year. More than I can even describe, this is definitely our "home sweet home".

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dreaming of Stay-at-Home Mom-dom

It's been a nice weekend. Jacob's behavior varied, but I'd say it was better more than it was bad. He tends to have these manic moments--times where he seems fine, then suddenly goes wacky. He was pleasant at church today, then impossible. He ate his dinner amazingly well last night, then spent the rest of the meal making us crazy. It makes things tough to manage. Still, not too bad overall. It was great having Craig around all weekend, too.

Saturday morning proved why Jacob's behavior can be so maddening. He woke up early, around 7am. He kept himself occupied for a while, and shortly before 8am, we brought him into our bed. He only hung out there for a bit before sliding down and out. He went downstairs and played nicely until after 9am, while we caught up on some sleep--obviously with one ear open. But to know that he CAN play nicely like that for so long just proves that he knows what he's doing. So why is it that more than 20 minutes at church is so excruciating?
I spent a good chunk of Saturday afternoon alone at the mall. I hadn't been shopping alone in so long that it felt foreign to be at the mall without a stroller. I can also tell that it's been a while because shopping for myself is really hard. I don't even know what to try on anymore. Before I got pregnant I was trying not to buy much since I had no idea what would fit me afterward, and when I was pregnant my shopping was very focused on certain things. Post-pregnancy I just haven't shopped much. Periodically I'll have to find something--initially it was things to fit my nursing boobs and thinner lower body (the amazing upside of nursing weight loss), now it's things to work around my belly that won't go away--or sometimes I have a spare few minutes to browse clearance racks. But for the most part my hardcore shopping has been limited. As a result, I don't know what flatters my current body, nor do I know how to wear certain styles. Part of me wants to try leggings, but that would involve buying a bunch of longer items to wear with them, and I just don't have the time or patience to shop around for the right ones or the desire to spend the money on it all. But I feel like I'm slowly turning into one of those moms on "What Not to Wear"...baby steps right now, but I suppose they all had to start somewhere. I'm in a bit of a style rut, but totally confused about everything in the stores right now. Styles have just changed so much that I'm not sure where to begin. As a result, I ended up buying a bunch of stuff for Jacob--one Easter gift, a lacrosse t-shirt; one useful, cheap long-sleeved tee; two cool long sleeved tees on clearance, and two pairs of 3T jeans he can wear next fall. Everything was either on clearance, with a 30% discount, or paid for with store credit. Sweet. Once I was home I even managed to sort through his clothes. I packed away a bunch of too-small stuff, even from his summer clothes, and then organized his future clothes and pulled out stuff that should fit him this summer. And this morning, I even tried all of his dress pants on him and pulled out the ones that no longer fit. He is so skinny, but he's got big thighs...just like his daddy. (Craig said it himself, by the way.)
Today I had a day like I'd imagine stay-at-home mom life would be. Or at least, I brought out my domestic side a bit. We did church, lunch and nap, and while Jacob was sleeping I cooked up some chicken breasts, baked some cookies from Jacob's fundrasier cookie dough, and worked on beer bread, which I found a recipe for a couple weeks ago. I wanted to make homemade chicken pot pie tonight, and figured I'd make a full meal out of it--entree, bread and dessert. Also, Lori wanted to come over and take Jacob to the park, which he refused to do, so we ended up outside for a while. Craig and Lori played with Jacob and I worked on clearing out the dead stuff in our front flower beds. Wow, was there a lot of stuff. More to go in the back, though! I came back in, baked up the pot pie, and all four of us had a lovely dinner. It was nice to finally use my bread basket and serve up real food. The bread was ugly but surprisingly good. Oh, and while the cookies were sitting on the cooling rack, Lori noticed Jacob in the kitchen, where he snitched a bite of cookie! AND he put the cookie back! Who knew it started this early?
I know that this isn't exactly stay-at-home mom stuff, since I had one or two people helping with Jacob all weekend and I even had some free time. But I did like having some time to plan a nice dinner and take care of some house stuff--dishwashing, landscaping, laundry, organizing--and it felt good. It's amazing what happens when you physically stay in or near your house for the weekend. And ultimately, that's what I want--I want time to be home, time to get those little things done, and therefore have more time to spend with Jacob. I know the list would never really go away. It would most likely get broader, but I'd like to have a cleaner house, more sleep, better meals, and more time to think of creative things to do--both for me and with Jacob. That way we're not cramming a ton of stuff into the weekends and taking over Jacob's playtime. I'll dream.
In the meantime, I still have an adorable child...as evidenced by this picture:
And even better, an adorable little boy that now knows how to tell me he loves me, and does it voluntarily. Best. Thing. Ever.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Blame Game

It quite apparent from recent posts that we're having a lot of trouble with Jacob. We love him to pieces, but boy...it's not easy some days to look past the trouble and see that sweet baby we brought home. Sometimes it literally feels like he's a different child. I can barely remember what it was like to have a little baby. The problems were no less difficult then, just different. One of the biggest differences is that there was very little you could blame on the baby. Sure, the baby might drive you nuts with crying or blowouts or insomnia, but inherently you knew that it wasn't the baby's fault. All of that was instinct for them, and in most cases in the end it was easy enough to a) blame no one; or b) blame yourself. Either it was something that couldn't be helped, or it was some questionable judgment on your part that led to the current predicament.

But as your child gets older, it gets easier to blame them for the things that they do wrong. Over time you expect that they should know better, though that may or may not really be the case. But you know that they have free will and they exercise it often, so it doesn't seem that big of a stretch that they might be to blame for whatever they just did. And for the little stuff, it seems pretty straightforward. But in our case, where the bad behavior has become chronic and troublesome, some of that guilt has come slithering back in our direction. How on earth did we let this happen?

I know that may not be fair to us, because we've always done our best and there's only so much under our control. Like it or not, things get in the way of perfect parenting--exhaustion, schedules, wanting to keep the peace, and, oh yeah...the nine-plus hours a day that he's at daycare. Just writing that makes it seem so cruel. Even older kids in school are only gone for seven hours. And we expect our two year old to deal with nine? Yikes. Still, he has been doing it all his life. He's never known any differently, beyond the fact that he gets us all day on weekends. Maybe it's simply too much to ask of him to spend all that time away from us. Maybe it's okay for some kids but not for ours...maybe he's just programmed differently and he needs his time with us. And oh, how I wish I could provide that. No matter how I do the math, one of us staying home just isn't feasible. Maybe someday with one of us making a few thousand more and another $10,000+ worth of daycare on the agenda, but right now it would be a huge decrease in income that even numerous lifestyle tweaks wouldn't counteract. But for now, regardless of whether or not this is the problem, we're going to have to make do.

It's hard to tell if Jacob is the problem, or if he's being sucked into the problem. When his teachers wrote us the note about the sticker chart, it was phrased in a way that made it seem like Jacob was the only one who was getting it. But then I saw the board with everyone's names on it and the other day a note went home explaining how the chart was going to work. The note made it seem like there are problems with many kids in the class, though the issues they mentioned are all things that I know Jacob is struggling with. Maybe they were just being nice, or maybe he is really one of many. There have been things from time to time that we're pretty sure he's learned from other kids (and often he'll tell us who by name--though I suppose we need to take it with a grain of salt because what kid doesn't want to pass blame?), and that's extra frustrating as a parent, because you know it's not your fault and there's nothing you could have done to prevent it. And good luck telling your kid that something he and a friend thought was funny actually isn't. But as a parent, what do you do? Tell the teacher? You don't know for sure and unless it's really serious it might come off as petty, but if someone else's kid is teaching your kid something bad, it's a tough call. For all of the hockey and lacrosse fights Jacob's seen, I still feel like the seed was planted at daycare because apparently one of his friends was a big wrestling fan, and that seemed to coincide with Jacob's desire to fight us. The sports might have added on and validated it a bit in his mind, but I have my suspicions.

Still, I wonder if our choice to spank from time to time was a problem. I never thought I'd second-guess that, but it really does seem to make him more violent. I thought timeouts were crap, but now I get it. They should be less about punishment and more about getting the child out of the inflammatory situation and giving them a chance to cool off. It does do that for Jacob most of the time, but it's not always the most convenient when we're out and about. We're trying. If we had figured out something else from the beginning, would he be as violent as he is now? Are we not consistent enough? Were we too strict? Not strict enough? You can question yourself forever.

I'm not sure if the sticker chart or withholding hockey sticks is going to be the cure to all our problems, but they're a good starting point. He got four stickers today (missing all but "Listening"), but did come home without socks. He took them off at some point and hid them. Awesome. Still, I did give him one of his hockey sticks back. He was very excited and had a good evening. On good days he'll get a hockey stick, on bad days he'll lose a hockey stick, and if the bad days start to outnumber the good, they'll all go away again.

Part of me wonders if we should try working on a big boy thing to encourage him and/or distract him. I don't know if I'm ready for hardcore potty training yet, but I do wonder if we should try the big boy bed. He might take such pride in his accomplishment that he won't bother to be difficult. For example, the other day he got in his carseat really nicely. I got genuinely excited, because it's always been a problem. He gets distracted, tries to jump into the front seat, roll over to the far side of the backseat, or stand up to look out the back window or play with the top latch of his car seat. But he did it so nicely the one day, and after I made a big deal and he was all proud, it's been a regular occurrence ever since. That's not to say that I haven't tried to do that before, but perhaps he's getting to the point where he gets it. And that's also not to say the novelty won't wear off, but it's something. He was good at dinner tonight (he didn't eat a ton, but he ate it nicely), and I made sure to thank him. We'll see if it sinks in. And maybe now that he got a hockey stick back, he'll make that connection. I'm not holding my breath, but I can hope. But knowing how difficult and impulsive he can be, it's a huge risk. I guess we can always threaten to put his crib back together and hope that helps, but it's a tad nervewracking as people always say, "Keep them in a crib as long as you can!" But maybe it's time for him to grow up a bit and maybe he'll respond positively. Maybe we just need to have higher expectations and encourage him to live up to them. I'm sure we'll have some tough moments, but it's not too often we get a weekend without any plans to try things out. And knowing potty training should be just around the corner, we need to get this in sometime. It's such a tough call. Chances are I'll chicken out again, but I need to keep it in the forefront of my mind because it needs to happen...soon.

At this point, I'll give anything a try.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Better...

Last night was a better night. Particularly considering we were on the go and there were a lot of opportunities for Jacob to freak out and give me trouble. Craig was working and I had a full slate planned--dinner at home, a haircut for Jacob, a quick stop at Wegmans (in the same plaza, thank goodness), and if all went well, a stop at the library, which was just up the road. I had told Jacob the plan in the morning, and he seemed genuinely excited by the library. I don't know if it's because there was a picture of the Amerks' Moose there last time (promoting a series of library appearances), or if he really liked sitting and clicking a non-working computer last time, or what. And when I went to pick him up at daycare, reminding him of it seemed to stop the trouble, at least to some degree. He ate his dinner--a bit difficult at times, but he ate it--and I did have to drag him away from his toys with the threat that if we didn't leave right then, we might not have time for the library. He freaked out on the way out the door because he didn't have a stick (no hockey sticks to bring right now, so he wanted a lacrosse stick), but I explained over the screaming that he couldn't use it anyway. He'd have to sit still at his haircut and we don't play sports at the library. He settled down, and we were off.

Getting Jacob a haircut makes me a bit crazy. I mean, I LOVE when he gets it cut and it's all cute and short and hard to screw up. But I worry about his cowlick getting cut too short because it'll all stick up in the back, and it pains me to spend $12 plus tip to get it done. Which is why I've been trying to do maintenance on it all along since his last one. I've trimmed around his ears, sideburns, in the front and in the back. But it was really getting thick and raggedy in spots, so he just needed a real one. I really need to learn how to use clippers and get over my fear of seriously butchering his hair...but no matter how many times I watch the pros, it all ends up looking a little complicated once it gets to evening things out and tapering the top smoothly down to the shortest areas. But once it's done I'm usually very relieved, so it's always with mixed emotions that we head off to the sports-themed barber to get it done. Jacob was afraid of the giant wall decal of a basketball guy again, and was instantly confused upon sitting down because all of the sports equipment that used to decorate the walls above the chairs was gone. They're remodeling, apparently. He must have asked 10 times during his haircut where it went. He was a little squirmy but he was very well-behaved, even laughing near the end about how the trimmer tickled.

We then headed next door to Wegmans, and while it was only a quick trip, he was good. He kept his shoes on and didn't take any swings at me from his seat. I did give him a sucker that I'd packed in the bag as a reward for his successful haircut, and he greatly enjoyed that as we walked.

Since it was still relatively early and he had been so good, it was off to the library with the strict warning that if he misbehaved we'd leave without any books. I wanted to involve him in picking out some books for himself, but he ended up amusing himself with some Duplo blocks they had in the kids area, so I ended up picking out three books for him--one about a search for a moose (very cute), a "Froggy" book (he owns "Froggy Plays T-Ball") about a day with his dad, and one called "Hooray, Jose" about a basketball-playing mouse. That one ended up being really cute, even if it is about urban neighborhood pickup ball. He's a little mouse that wants to play with the big mice, and he practices hard enough to join the team, only to sit the bench. They play all sorts of other rodents, and when the time comes for the championship game, he predictably swoops in to save the day. I liked it a lot, though. A good rhyme sucks me in every time. Ha, that rhymed :)
All in all, it was a good night. Unfortunately, he woke up bright and early coughing up a storm. It's been a problem lately and I'm starting to think he needs to go back to the doctor AGAIN. He's had a runny nose ever since his first strep throat go-around (or all winter, whatever) and the cough is interrupting his sleep and nearly causing him to gag. It doesn't happen all the time, but when it pops up, it's bad. I tried giving him a spoonful of honey in the middle of the night the other night because it's supposed to help coughs. Hard to tell, but I'm getting desperate so I'll believe it'll work :) Anyway he ended up getting three stickers on the sticker chart today (still not LISTENING) and had a great time playing outside with Craig while I was working out. He was doing great about halfway into dinner, but then he started playing with his food and being generally pesky. He sat through two timeouts when things got really bad, and then had to go to bed right away. He was so bad that he didn't even get stories. Nearly an hour later, he's still awake and cranky. Ugh. Tomorrow's another day...

In the meantime, here's a cute picture from the Knighthawks game we went to a couple weeks ago in Buffalo. At the end of the game we came down to the Blue Zone bar area, and despite the plethora of Sabres memorabilia on display, Jacob was more into the floor. It was full of chalkboard-like diagrams of hockey plays. Jacob was taking faceoffs and running around like a crazy boy. Here's a picture of one of the faceoffs...
There is no doubt, he is seriously obsessed with sports. It is always the first thing on his mind. As I've said before, he looks at the world through "sports-colored glasses". He sees everything as it relates to sports. It's amazing. It's scary, but amazing. Hopefully someday those glasses will help him see that if he would just listen, we could have a heck of a lot more fun.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Can't Even Imagine...

Japan has been running through my thoughts constantly for the past few days. Initially I looked at pictures online and read articles here and there, but at some point it took over a good portion of my consciousness. Maybe it's because so many people are affected, maybe it's because this is a first-world nation (translation: they're just like us, so it could happen here too), or maybe it's because this crazy radiation thing is such a horrific problem that has no solution. I mean, you can never replace lives lost in tragedies like this, but you can clean up and rebuild and somehow move forward. But when this whole radiation situation comes into play, you can never really move on completely because you're always going to be wondering if the radiation has set you up for a lifetime of illness ahead. That's just scary.

Ultimately I do think what's kept this situation at the forefront of my mind is simply that they are so much like us. They're not Indonesian villagers. They had pleasant little houses in average towns and cities, just like we live in. They were living their lives pretty much like us (albeit with more rice and fish), right up until the moment that earthquake struck. It could be any one of us. And I know that their lives are no more or less important than those Indonesian villagers...but I think it's just human nature to relate more to what you know. And as a parent, these images become that much more vivid. Parenthood inevitably shifts your focus from "me" to everyone else, so I think it becomes all too easy to put yourself into the shoes of those who are suffering...in whatever small way you can even begin to imagine.

I think one of the things that got me so sucked in is that I watched two videos a couple days ago that blew my mind. The first one was nearly seven minutes long and started with an image of water just flowing down a street--nothing scary, barely a trickle, as if someone had dumped a good sized bucket of water somewhere down the road. You could hear the tsunami warnings in the background, too. As the video progressed, the water got higher and higher. Soon there were sounds of breaking glass, and numerous vehicles floated down the street. Then the water was as high as the storefront doorways, and shortly thereafter you started seeing dust as buildings were pulled off their foundations. It was unreal to watch the transformation. At one point, the person taking the video moved to even higher ground, perhaps to maintain their own safety or maybe just to look out over another area. The video was so eerie as there was no talking at all, despite the fact that it had graphics that might indicate it was part of a TV broadcast. The second video was in what I assume was an even harder hit area, as the video started with a huge wave of water already overtaking the city. So many buildings were moving and the water was easily up above the first story right away. The thing that stuck out to me in this video is that at one point the cameraperson turns around and you see some of the people taking refuge up on this mountain...among them a couple kids. And you can see the adults trying to calm the children, which added a whole other dimension to this. Can you imagine being an adult who has to comfort your child through something like that? It's hard enough to compose yourself at a tough moment, let alone figuring out how to get your child through it. I can't even fathom watching the entire area you live in get swept away before your eyes. And for a child who can barely comprehend what just happened, let alone the inevitable "why?", it's just an overwhelming thought. Overall, I think what made these videos so striking is that you see the "before", and it looks so run of the mill. It could be your neighborhood or the downtown area you work in. When you only see the after, it's merely a disaster scene. So when you see that "before", it's a stark reminder that tragedies can happen to anyone.

However, I suppose having to comfort your child in the midst of that is a blessing, as it means you HAVE your child to comfort. I cringe every time I read a story about a child who slipped from their parent's grasp and floated away. Unthinkable. I can't even imagine how panicked I'd be if something of that magnitude happened here, and I was at work and Jacob was at daycare 10 miles away. To not know what happened there, if he was okay, how I was going to get to him...absolutely agonizing. I've been darn near mesmerized by a few pictures that I've seen over the past few days. One was of a woman who gave birth the day it all happened, along with her baby. She appeared to be in a hospital and well cared for, but what a legacy that kid is going to grow up with. Another picture was of the four month old baby girl that the rescuers found on Monday or Tuesday, I believe. She was found among rubble, pretty much untouched and still in her pink full body fleece coat. I can't even fathom what that little girl had been through, somehow surviving amidst the water, then spending all those days and nights alone, without food or her parents' touch. She's so lucky she survived, and her parents had to be beyond ecstatic that she was found. Unreal.

Finally, there was a third picture that I stared at for a long time. It showed a mom and her baby (only a couple weeks old, if that, as I recall) snuggled up together at an evacuation center. The baby was all snuggled in blankets, seemingly fast asleep, and his mother gazed down adoringly at him, smiling. Amidst such a massive disaster, in the middle of one of the least comfortable situations imaginable, she was smiling. Seeing the picture made me think back to how I would have felt if we were in an evacuation center when Jacob was a mere couple weeks old. Would I have been smiling? Somehow I doubt it. I think I'd be more worried about finding a good place to sleep once I finally could, though with all the stress, who can sleep? I'd be thinking about all of the carefully selected and registered for items that had simply floated away, the things I swore I'd need to get through babyhood, now all gone. I don't think I savored my time with Jacob enough as it was in those early weeks, so I can't even imagine how I'd feel under those circumstances.

Even more, I can't help but think about how the idyllic time those mothers looked forward to just evaporated as the waters rose. You spend nine months imagining what life with your newborn is going to be like, and it stinks that they have to spend their babies' first weeks (if not longer) under such dire circumstances. Heck, we spent all of Jacob's first week at the hospital and I still feel like I missed out on a very special time. In the end, that's nothing! It's just sad that this unique and special time has been so irrevocably changed. In addition, I wonder about the future for those babies, and if their parents are fearing for their children's tiny little lives. They're coming into a world in chaos, no doubt at high risk for a lot of problems. Radiation is probably the biggest concern, but I'd have to think there are risks for a lot of other illnesses that can increase when the most basic needs are hard to come by.

I can barely fathom how a society as a whole comes back from something so devastating. Whether it's the physical challenges of clearing out the debris and rebuilding, or the health challenges of finding enough food or water and avoiding radiation, or or the emotional challenges of getting past the fear and keeping things as "normal" as possible for your children, it's a treacherous mountain to climb. Any one of those things alone would have been enough...but all of them? Every time I think about what that country as a whole has to deal with, it's overwhelming. And to think I've been overwhelmed in the past week with Jacob's horrible behavior (one sticker at daycare today...small steps)...in comparison I have it so easy. I can't imagine how I'd do in a real crisis, and I hope that I never have to truly test that. Still, I hope that I'd find inner strength I never knew I had, which I imagine parents all over Japan are discovering each and every day as they navigate their new "normal". Whether they believe in Him or not, I hope God gives them all they need to get through it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Discipline...again.

Well, let's see...after a rough week last week, we actually had a decent weekend. Jacob was manageable, which was all I could ask for after his issues last week. He had his moments, but like I always say, he's two. He played nicely and was reasonably pleasant despite having a bit of a crazy sleep schedule. He slept in a bit on Saturday (8am--lately that IS sleeping in), watched a movie on the way to Buffalo, had a bit of a rough lunch and fought his nap, but still did manage to take one. And by some miracle, he sat through an entire play Saturday night. We went to see "The Music Man" at St. Francis High School, Craig's alma mater. Jacob had a chance to run around the gym beforehand, then sat nicely for the entire first act. He was ready to run during the intermission, and got to play "basketball" with his cousins, then sat well for most of the second act before getting a little antsy but manageable near the end. He seemed to like the music and dancing a lot. Good to know, but I don't think we'll be trying that again soon. But it was so nice to be able to enjoy the show. It was a late night and it took him a while to fall asleep, but at least he was relatively sweet about it--pleasantly needy, I guess. He wanted me around but at least tried to fall asleep.

He slept until 8am again, though I wish it would have been later considering he had a late night and the time change to make up for. Still, he was relatively pleasant on a morning errand and while playing, but I got outvoted for naptime before Craig's mom's birthday dinner and we headed to that without a nap. Which meant NO nap. All day. None. Luckily he could run around like a maniac with his cousins in a kid-proofed house, and we could chat with the other adults without worrying much. He started to fall asleep during dinner but snapped out of it. But by the time we were leaving, he was beat and fell asleep as we headed down the road. At 7pm. Which in his brain was pretty much 6pm. Wow. He slept all the way home, woke up briefly upon arrival, and slept through. He did wake up about 7am, but fell back to sleep for nearly an hour. Nice.

After all that, I was hopeful we would have a good Monday. Alas, no such luck. I walked in to find Jacob sans shoes and socks. I knew that meant that he had been throwing them again, and sure enough, he threw one at a teacher. Then I found out that he punched a teacher in the face, unprovoked. Seriously?! He had a long note on the back of his daily sheet saying that they wanted to start doing a sticker chart to help manage his behavior. Today when I walked in, I looked at the sticker chart. All of his friends except one had stickers...and he had none. For all I know, that other kid wasn't even there today. Stickers appeared to be earned for listening, sitting, not throwing things, and sharing. Ugh. He gave me trouble again when I tried to put his coat on. I just don't know what to do. He knows when he's being naughty, as he won't answer questions about it when we ask, but doesn't seem to understand that it impacts other people, or even ultimately himself. He knows why his hockey sticks were taken away, but doesn't seem to grasp that he needs to be a good boy to get them back. This morning presented another example. Before leaving for daycare he was playing with his toys, and he refused to stop so we could leave. I warned him that if we didn't go right then, he would miss breakfast at daycare. He continued to play, but when we finally dragged him away and I told him we were going to be too late for breakfast (don't worry, I gave him a cereal bar to tide him over until his 9:30 snack--not ideal, but something), he got upset. I reminded him again that he needed to stop playing when I asked him so we could get to daycare on time, but he just got upset all over again. He's missing the key that there are consequences to actions--from timeouts to losing his hockey sticks, from missed breakfasts to no dessert. Even his issues with potty training--insisting he wants to wear big boy underwear but never telling us he has to go--seems to fall in line with this issue. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. He doesn't seem to care that he hurts people, and only seems affected by a raised voice about half the time. The other half of the time he laughs. Ugh.

I just don't know where we went wrong, or what we do to fix this. I'm not sure we can fix it. He may just have to grow out of it, but at what cost in the meantime? Will he really grow out of it, or will it get worse? Part of me wants to buy every book Jo Frost (aka the Supernanny) ever wrote, since a lot of Jacob's issues seem to be similar to things she's dealt with on her show. Just looked, and our library has them...and one is available! Might just have to stop there when I attempt to take Jacob for a haircut tomorrow. Hmmm. Even still, it's just getting to be too much. I worry that he's crying out for help, that he wants more time with us that we just can't give due to our work schedules. He's frequently asking to come into our bed, for example. I sometimes think his craziness at daycare pickup is just because he wants to show us things or play certain things with us now that we're there...but by now it seems like he should be used to the drill...so why isn't he? Sometimes I let my brain wander into possible medical causes--everything ranging from general sicknesses making him cranky or sleep deprivation to possible mental health issues. While it's doubtful, there are times when it seems like his behavior goes so far beyond the normal that nothing would surprise me.

It saddens me, and I just don't know what our next step is. Treading water and waiting to see what happens next is making me a little crazy at this point, and I just want to DO something. Something beyond just praying, that is. On the bright side, we'll both be around all weekend so we'll be able to see how he responds to attention from both of us all weekend while in our own house. So once again, we'll have to wait and see. But if his current cough and congestion doesn't clear up soon, we'll be back at the doctor's and you can bet I'll want to chat about this. It's getting to be too much.

In the meantime, tomorrow is another day...

Friday, March 11, 2011

What a week...

I can't even begin to describe how odd and often surreal this week has been. There's nothing like having two days off in the middle of the week to completely throw you off schedule. Per my previous post, I found out first thing Monday morning that my Aunt Karen had passed away Sunday night. That wasn't a surprise, as I knew it was only a matter of time, but from that point on I officially knew I had a crazy week ahead. I worked on Tuesday, though I was planning on taking off an hour early so we could head to Craig's mom's Mardi Gras fundraiser and get there reasonably on time. Well, that plan was thwarted by Chase Tower's Elevator 1, which promptly trapped me for 45 minutes as I was leaving the office. It dropped about four feet and was stuck there until the elevator people came and did their thing, which merely dropped me down to the next floor and allowed me to take another elevator down to the ground. I wasn't panicked, just bored and annoyed. So, we got the fundraiser about an hour and a half late. We ate, tried to get Jacob to eat (no luck), and let him run around like a maniac with his cousins. He went to bed late and woke up bright and early, but he did sleep through. Small victories.

We had two tentative plans for Wednesday and Thursday. Both plans involved getting me to my parents' house and Craig taking Jacob back to Rochester so they could both have a normal day of work/daycare. The splitting point was whether they came back Wednesday evening for the end of the calling hours and Thursday's funeral, or whether they stayed in Rochester through Thursday morning, when Craig would leave Jacob at daycare and come to the funeral solo. Knowing what a handful Jacob has been lately, I strongly advised him to do the latter, as neither of us would be wanting to chase him or keep him quiet, and funerals are the last place you really want to be worrying about that anyway--both for your own ability to mourn as well as the risk of disturbing others in their sad moment. And in the end, he did go with the second option...thank goodness.

It's been a long time since I've been away from Jacob overnight. The last time I can recall is last summer when I did my day trip to IKEA and came to NT the night before. That's a long time ago now and it really hit me how much time I do spend with Jacob. I suppose that some parents are never away from their kids, but when my point of comparison is Craig, who's on the road a lot, it's definitely a contrast. But regardless, in the midst of his current behavior, a break was that much more welcomed. I will say that I appreciated the uninterrupted time with my family, time to chat with my cousins, aunts and uncles, time to sleep in a bit, and time to just generally not worry about Jacob running around with his stick of choice wreaking havoc. Part of me feels guilty for feeling some relief, but part of me wonders if I should get more breaks here and there, if only to maintain my mental health in the midst of a tough stretch. Not that I want to spend more time away from Jacob or put the burden on someone else, but lately it's just been hard. I don't know...I guess I can't win. Regardless, the time with my family was great and the funeral was very nice. It was obviously a sad time, but there was much to celebrate as well, as we are completely sure that Aunt Karen's in heaven.

When we came back yesterday, we spent a little time home alone before I went to pick up Jacob. For the third straight day he had a questionable report--generally that he's having trouble listening and following directions. He threw his shoe at a teacher the other day (and actually voluntarily told another teacher that he did it), so it was truly disappointing to hear. He was a royal pain from the moment I got there, running away and being generally difficult, and at that point, I had had it. I told him that as a result of his behavior, we would be taking away his hockey sticks until his behavior improved and he was listening better. That, of course, led to a meltdown in the car, and just as I finished telling Jacob some of the reasons why (including throwing his shoes), I had a sock sail by my head into the front seat. If the deal hadn't been sealed before that, that certainly did it. So, the sticks are put away until I see a definite shift in his behavior. It's a big step and I'm not entirely sure how he's going to earn them back (which is probably a no-no in the world of discipline), but something HAD to be done.


In the meantime I've been making myself crazy trying to figure out why he's being so ridiculously awful. He's fighting us on everything, even routine stuff he should be totally used to. It's making life pretty darn awful a lot of the time. I actually asked his teachers this morning if they thought we should be taking him to see a professional. After all, his tendency to hit, kick and throw things is a little disturbing, and he knows when he's done something wrong but laughs and smiles about it. What is up with that? They said no, but I still wonder. At the same time I keep wondering if he's still sick, because his naps have been short and his mornings have been early. That's definitely a change of pace, but geez...we just got over another round of meds. Could he really be sick again?

I feel like I spend the majority of my time yelling at him, and that's an awful feeling. Awful. I feel myself withdrawing from him a bit--because he frustrates me, because I don't understand him, because I don't know how to play with him sometimes. I'm having a hard time finding a balance between showing him love but also showing disapproval (and in some cases withholding attention) when he misbehaves. It's incredibly hard. I don't understand how he can be the sweetest little boy sometimes, but then have hours at a time when everything is a test or a battle.

I was pretty down this morning, but got a serious reality check when I got to my work computer and saw the devastation in Japan. Unbelievable. It makes our challenges seem like nothing. I did have another one yesterday, too, when we noticed that this little boy that was at the funeral, probably around Jacob's age, had a trach tube sticking out of his neck. I can't imagine what that little boy's illness is, but man, was he cute. But it sure was sobering. Either situation makes you realize how lucky you are, even if our situation still involves a daily struggle. We're blessed.

Tonight involved another rough pick-up at daycare, and an equally rough trip to Wegmans, but dinner and post-dinner playing went really well. His bath was great, and while bedtime had its moments, it was manageable. It was probably the longest period of peace we've had in a while. Tomorrow will no doubt bring on a new set of challenges, but at least I can sleep okay tonight knowing that we had a good evening. But what a week it has been.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Life and Death

I must say, it was a bit odd heading into this week knowing that it would include a funeral. A funeral for someone who wasn't even dead yet. I don't think I've ever been in quite that position before, and it was strange. I suppose it was comforting in a way, knowing that my Aunt Karen's battle against cancer was, in fact, coming to an end, and that it wouldn't be a funeral out of left field like it was when her beloved husband, my Uncle Bink, died suddenly of a heart attack 13-1/2 years ago. That's not to say that my heart doesn't ache for my three cousins and their loved ones--spouses, kids, and family on their mom's side, including my aunt's twin sister, who herself has been through a battle with cancer. It does...a lot. I can't even begin to imagine how they're feeling right now, the morning after my aunt passed away and headed up to heaven. The family has been through so much in the past 13-1/2 years. They've lost their father, all four grandparents (the most recent was just a few months ago), and my cousin's husband who died in his early 30s, not to mention my other cousin's failed marriage (not her fault)....all way too much to bear. There have been two grandchildren and two remarriages in that time as well, thank God, but still...too much.

My Aunt Karen's presence within our family has been a debated topic since my uncle died. She didn't come around too much after, which was her choice. The memories were too painful, I guess. Since our first instinct was to cling to one another for support, I guess it caught everyone off guard when her first instinct was to step away. Our big, boisterous family was too vivid a reminder of her loss, and even though our family is full of love and support (in our own strange way at times, I know), I guess it just wasn't the kind of support she needed. So, since then I could probably count the number of times on two hands where I had seen her for any extended period of time, other than seeing her across church in her designated pew. And really, since my parents switched churches a few years ago, there hasn't even been that. My cousins still came around for a good chunk of family parties and holidays, but even their time with the family was lessened to some degree, simply because they still needed to make their mother a priority. Understandable, obviously.

I think more than anything the family was disappointed that my aunt didn't lean on them more for help in the aftermath. After all, the family is generally very close--not without its issues, of course--but in the end any issues could be pushed aside for the sake of the family in the event of a tragedy like that one. I think her decision to distance herself hurt a lot of feelings, but in the end I think all of us can admit that we're in no position to judge. None of us knows how we would react in a situation like that...and thankfully, none of us have had to. I've tried to put myself in her position, but I truly have no idea how I would react. And even then, everyone is different. She did reach out to some family members in her own way in the years that followed, and I don't think there was any true animosity on either side...just a shared difficulty understanding, I guess.

Nevertheless, I don't think anyone could argue with the fact that my Aunt Karen was a gentle soul. She was quiet and reserved, with a soft voice. She had a definite soft spot for babies, a stack of prized recipes, and some of the most lovely handwriting you'll ever see. She had an almost southern sensibility about her. She was always dressed nice, always had her hair and makeup done, and just seemed to be your stereotypical doting wife and mother. At some point when I was around middle school age she became the church secretary, and stayed in that position (though massive church strife, no less) until she was too sick to work. She somehow survived the loss of her husband, far too young, and even then I knew she'd never be the type to date or try to find someone new. It was quite clear that Uncle Bink was THE love of her life and even "'til death do us part" didn't express the scope of her dedication to him. More than ever before, I desperately hope and pray that we do know and see our loved ones in heaven, because I can only imagine the joy she would have experienced last night upon entry, not just to be there, but to have the long-awaited reunion with her one and only. If there was ever a person who I hoped that for, it's her. But long story short, it's quite a testament to her gentle being when pretty much everyone who commented on my Facebook status this morning said that she was one of the nicest ladies they'd ever known. Not a bad legacy to leave.


So, now that I've gone through all of this, you're probably wondering why I'm posting this here, on a blog that is primarily about Jacob. Well, it's about parenthood as well, and I think parenthood gives you a whole different perspective on death. You can't help but cringe when you hear stories in the news about dead children or dead parents who left children behind. Earthquakes, murders, fires, and accidents will never look the same once you've had a child. Heck, just a couple weeks ago a young woman in Rochester was hit by a plow while walking in a parking lot, leaving behind a husband and three young kids--the youngest just six months old--and I couldn't get it out of my head for a long time. Horrific.

For a while I've been increasingly aware that we're in this really happy place right now in life, even if some days it doesn't seem like it. Daily stresses aside, we have one amazing little boy, we both have jobs, we have a beautiful house, and we have a ton of family still alive and well. The vast majority of our aunts and uncles are still around, we each still have one grandmother, and Jacob still has all of his grandparents. Even just for those reasons alone, we're in a good spot. I am well aware, however, that this period will not last forever. Our older relatives will start passing away at a quicker rate, and funerals will become much more common. I can't even begin to describe the dread and fear that I feel at the thought of losing our parents.

I don't know at what age I understood the concept of death, and to be honest I am completely stumped about how and when to present it to Jacob because it's a BIG concept for a little kid. Even just getting around to explaining Easter to Jacob is proving difficult, so I can't imagine how it will go down the road when we have a present-day example that directly relates to his world...particularly when there isn't an immediate happy ending like the Easter story. I lived a very charmed life when it came to death. I think my first time at a funeral home was when my good friend's father passed away when I was about 14. I suppose any family deaths that occurred prior to that were when I was too young to know, or weren't significant enough for me to go to. My first significant family death was my Uncle Bink, when I was 19. I was blessed to have three of my four grandparents for a good portion of my life. Unfortunately, my mother's father died shortly before I turned two, but my other grandfather didn't pass away until I was 20. My grandma followed six years later. I do mourn the fact that I never got to know my one grandfather, but I guess I had it easy since I never knew what I was missing.

Seeing my parents as grandparents has been an amazing experience, and it's made me so grateful for the opportunity. At this point I can only pray that they're around long enough for any more children we have, and to get to know them very well for many years to come. I believe my children's lives will be greatly enhanced by time with their grandparents (all four of them), and I pray they have plenty of time to do that. But I know that it won't last forever, and for my Aunt Karen's granddaughters (and any future grandchildren she'll never get a chance to meet), that fact is all too real. It's tragic. And if I didn't say it last October when we lost an old friend to cancer, I'll say it again: Cancer Sucks.

It's going to be an odd week. We have a fundraiser for Craig's mom on Tuesday, calling hours on Wednesday, and the funeral on Thursday. We have a busy weekend ahead as well, so suffice it to say that this week is going to include a LOT of packing and a lot of Thruway travel...on the heels of a weekend of much the same. This is the easy stuff, though. We are blessed and these trivial little things that stress me out are nothing in the grand scheme of things. This week isn't about me. It's about a wonderful woman who is gone far too soon, and the special people she left behind. I pray that she rests in peace and is enjoying a fantastic reunion in heaven. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Short shots

Yesterday Jacob said something to Craig about playing for the Sabres. Craig asked Jacob if he would take care of us (you know, with his gobs of money) if he played for the Sabres. Jacob said, "No, Daddy, I can't. You're too heavy. I can't carry you." How cute is that? I guess in his mind, that's what "taking care" of someone is all about. Sweet in its simplicity, isn't it?

Jacob seems to have grown again. Any shirts that were borderline around Christmas are now getting to be too small. All his growth seems to be in his upper body--long arms and a long torso. And I have NO idea where the long torso comes from, because neither Craig nor I have that feature. I'm sure someday it'll all catch up with itself and his body type will resemble ours in one way or another, but for now it's tough to keep the kid in shirts. He's so skinny that he swims in the body. He can't fill out the shoulders, either. But his arms seem to instantly start peeking out of the sleeves, and his belly is never far behind. Poor kid. Most of his pants still seem to be a good length, but they're always still falling off him. And more recently I am having trouble even with adjustable waists...because they're tight when he's sitting (and he complains) and they're falling off him when he's standing up and running around. I can't win!

I don't think I've mentioned here that Jacob has his "three musketeers" of stuffed animal buddies. Mind you, he's got a million stuffed animals. And he sleeps with a ridiculous number of them, much to our dismay. There's hardly room for him in his own crib, but no matter how many times we try to take animals out (even just to the basket next to his crib) he just knows they're not there. Amazingly, he can lose animals in his own crib in the pile, but he also knows when one of his animals is hanging out somewhere else. It's uncanny. And although many of his animals have their moments of glory, there are three that are his current favorites:

(L to R: Baby Moose, Eagle, Loosey Moosey (a.k.a. Mommy's Moose))

So...Baby Moose is the moose Jacob got on our trip to the pumpkin farm last fall. Eagle is a Knighthawks' themed bird that he's had forever, and Mommy's Moose (whose real name is Loosey Moosey, a.k.a. LooMoo) was a gift to me from Craig after I got my wisdom teeth out. He's the best moose, the dearest one to my heart, but against my better judgment I've been letting Jacob hang out with him. He carries all three of them around all the time, and it's the cutest thing ever to check in on him after he falls asleep and see him snuggling them. A few weeks ago, somewhere between my parents' house and our house, Baby Moose disappeared. There weren't a lot of places he could have gone, but it took a while to figure it out. Finally my dad saw a leg sticking out from the closed La-Z-Boy, and voila. It was a rough go for a couple days, as Jacob kept asking for him, but thank goodness he made it back intact. He was very happy to see him this weekend when my parents came to visit. It's cute watching him with his animals--the male equivalent of little girls and their dolls--though it still makes me nervous that he's sleeping with all of them. For as neurotic as I was about keeping things out of his crib when he was a tiny baby, we've really let it get out of hand. I keep hoping it will get better in a big boy bed, but I doubt it. Speaking of which, we haven't done the big boy bed yet. Everytime I think about it I chicken out. I dread the thought of not being able to trap him in there, knowing he could get up and walk around, and it scares me. I don't think we'll be able to trick him into staying in there, and I worry about the lack of sleep that will go along with it. I'm still not sure if we should get a gate or close the door and put the childproof knob on, or get one of those clocks with the colored lights to indicate when it's ok to get up. We will have to get a bed rail, though. Decisions, decisions. I'll get the guts one of these weekends. The kid should have access to his own bed, after all. Recently he did get one big boy addition to his bedroom. The Amerks and Knighthawks gave out wall decals at recent games, and we added the logos to Jacob's wall. We will be able to move them to his new room when the time comes. In the meantime, they may not fit in with the Snoopy decor, but they're still pretty darn cool anyway...Okay, I can't keep my eyes open, so that's enough for tonight. Hopefully we don't have another nearly sleepless night (for no apparent reason) tonight. Yes, he's draining (hopefully for good), but really? We need sleep!