Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Lego Store

A couple months ago we took a trip to Canada for a Knighthawks game. Along the way we stopped at a mall we've passed by many times (and stopped in once, as I recall) because--surprise!--it now houses a Lego Store. There's not too many of those around, and after Craig stopped in the one at the Mall of America on a previous road trip to Minneapolis, he was eager to take Jacob to one. We also went to one in Florida when I was pregnant, and admittedly, they're pretty darn cool. The one in Canada was a far cry from Orlando's, since a little mall store can't compete with this:


We ended up not buying anything in Canada since we figured we could get it cheaper somewhere in the states.  Still, the place just oozes fun.  Consequently, a few months ago when we got word that Rochester was getting its own Lego store, we were pretty happy to hear it.  It opened up a few weeks ago and Craig happened to visit the mall (on the other side of town) shortly after.  He picked up a flier, and we were intrigued by one of the store opening specials.  Each day of the grand opening weekend had a special if you spent $35--Friday was a free shirt, Sunday was a set of three minifigures, and Saturday was, in my opinion, the best--a free building kit of a miniature Lego store!  There were also other events as part of the opening, so we penciled it on the calendar.

Since the store had been open for a while, I was hoping the opening events wouldn't be too crazy.  Still, we planned to get there right around when the mall opened.  And as we arrived in the center court at 10:15, the line was wrapped halfway around it.  NOOOOOO.  Still, we dutifully got in line and hoped for the best.  We chatted with the mom in front of us (her kids ended up getting interviewed by the news) and the line moved steadily but never quickly enough.  It was challenging managing Jacob, but we did what we could.  I even walked him over to the building event (separate chaos from getting into the store) while Craig waited.  I also ran into a friend of mine from college who was there with his son.  It took a little over an hour, but we finally we got into the store, relieved to hear they still had some of the special kits.  Our plan was to buy gifts for some upcoming birthdays, and believe it or not, Jacob came home empty-handed.  Well, we did get the special kit, as well as a special Buzz Lightyear brick thanks to a special postcard we got in the mail.  He'll get plenty for his birthday, I'm sure, so I wasn't in a rush to buy him anything, especially since we've been having some behavior issues, again.  Had he listened better at any point in the previous 48 hours or so, I might have been a little more willing to supplement his collection further.

Anyway, here's the photo documentation of the adventure:
Jacob with Buzz's head...I'm guessing that's the actual head they put on the 8-foot one they built this weekend.  Impressive.

You can't beat a giant minifigure.

What a nice picture!  Of course, this is five seconds before he turned around and started climbing it.  Awesome.

Post-shopping and lunch, Daddy went to work and Jacob and I went to build blocks for the giant Buzz!

I was trying to get a picture of him with our two finished blocks, but ended up with this one instead.  I kinda like it.

With the master builder and a scaled down version of Buzz...

And the part of Buzz that was done when we left...
We had a very busy day and Jacob took a nice, long nap when we got home.  I exhausted myself further with some yardwork and then went in to wake him up (naps that go past 5pm are problematic, even with a late night ahead of us).  We were highly entertained by a visitor in our yard (more on that soon), played outside a bit, and then headed off to the Knighthawks game.  They won, and clinched a home playoff game next Friday.  Woohoo--one less roadtrip for Craig! 

Morning came all too early today, and thanks to Jacob's wonky sleep schedule all weekend, he was a crazy kid for a good portion of it.  I told him we could put together the mini Lego store today, but when the time came he wasn't that into it.  He did help a bit, but I think he's used to building a bit more organically with Daddy and the instructions weren't his cup of tea.  The boys are still working on their lacrosse arena, and here's a photo update:
The stands are in the lower right, the press box is in the upper center, benches are to the right of the press box, and to the right of that is the new team store (more on that in a second) and the ATM.  There are lines, plexiglass, working doors, and more.  Craig tried to add a concession stand this afternoon, but Jacob vetoed it when he was trying to build his kids zone. In the end that didn't really happen, either but you can see the construction guys in the lower left preparing for changes.  Yeah, it's crazy.
So, the team store is the mini Lego store we got.  Why not, right?  Here's the finished product:
It looks very cool and modern on the outside.  There are skylight-looking things on the top, ornamental trees on the sidewalk out front, colorful displays in the window, and tiny door handles.  The windows wrap around the sides, too.  Under the roof, there's a couple clear round blocks surrounded by yellow blocks that are reminiscent of the real light fixtures in the store.
I took off the top and part of the front to get this shot.  In the front is a display case on the left, and the same "giant" block Jacob got his picture taken with on the right.  Further back is a service counter with another display (I think) and a cash register.  The shelves on the sides are complete with circle portholes (you can just see them on the second row up), which the real store has with built models on display inside.  The back wall of the store is made up of circular bins full of blocks that you can pick and choose from, and you can see those represented here.  It's pretty stinkin' cute.
So, Jacob may not have been super impressed (with the mini store or Mommy's building skills), but to be honest, it was a fun little adventure despite some iffy moments.  I'm glad we did it.  If I would have overthought it we probably never would have gone, but I'm thankful we went and stuck it out.  Parenting is funny like that.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bedtime Prayers

The other night, Jacob was getting snuggled into bed...errr, make that snuggled into his blankets and animals on the floor...and we said his bedtime prayer.  It's the same one I said growing up, and I figured I'd stick with that one since I knew it well and it rhymed, which I figured would make it easier to learn.  I would say it every night with him, probably starting around his third birthday once he was talking sufficiently, and he picked it up relatively quickly. 

Anyway, the other night he insisted on saying it himself, and when he finished, out of nowhere he launched into another prayer: "Dear Lord, thank you for this day, thank you for these kids, thank you for this classroom...and all God's children said, AAAA-MEN!"  That last part was LOUD.

Now, I wish I could take credit for his spontaneous prayer, but as you may have guessed from its contents, it's very obviously spawning from his time in Sunday School.  I'm glad he's learning things in Sunday School, because he rarely gives us much insight into his experiences there.  We can see the stuff he brings home, and once in a while he'll recall one of the stories or lessons he learned, but it's usually like pulling teeth.  But here it came, out of the blue. 

As I said, I wish I could take credit for it, but I suppose I wasn't sure when the right time was to teach him to pray.  Maybe I should have been doing it from the beginning--and maybe next time I will--but I guess I had some concerns.  First, I didn't really want it to be just this thing we always did.  I wanted him to have the capacity to understand what we were doing and why, so it had some meaning beyond being a nightly ritual.  I also didn't want it to lead to so many questions.  My goal is always to keep bedtime simple and quick--potty, toothbrushing, pajamas, two books, prayers and bed.  Adding an extra, off-the-cuff prayer seemed to be inviting delays.  Jacob likes things to be just-so, and I can see him stalling until he thinks of all of the necessary elements of his prayer, or asking a million questions about the contents of his prayer.  I guess that's the price we could pay to have a seasoned pray-er, and we may have to go down that road soon regardless.  Because, obviously, now it's here and we might as well do it right. 

He's prayed pretty much like that for the past three nights, all on his own, and tonight I finally suggested some alternate prayers--thanking God for Mommy and Daddy, and for our house, and for sports.  Then he said something--not sure if he was trying to say "forgiveness"--but whatever he said sounded like it and triggered that suggestion as well.  We are still working on toning down the volume of the "Amen", but as long as he's praying, I'll just plug my ears for now (yes, it's that loud.). 

If nothing else, it just shows you that Sunday School is a much better way for him to spend that hour, at least for now.  He sat in church for three years and barely noticed a thing--aside from Easter time when things were always a little different--but just a handful of weeks at Sunday School and the kid is doing his own prayers out of the blue.  Maybe it wouldn't have resonated as strongly had the same teaching come from me, though.  It wouldn't be the first time he's listened better to someone else besides his parents, that's for sure.  It's also a reminder that I need to up the ante and encourage him even more.  He's a smart boy and he picks certain things up quickly, so we might as well start the process in earnest now.  And knowing what he can pick up, I also need to walk the walk a little better to make sure I'm being the best example I can be.  It can only make things better down the road, for more reasons than one. 

In the meantime, I'm grateful for the reminders and my heart is warmed by this newfound skill.  It is something to be grateful for and I'm eager to hear his prayers for years to come, if only to gain more insight into the amazing little boy we've been blessed with. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

This Week in Blog History (plus a bonus video!)

Since I can't seem to formulate any other thoughts to expound on, I'll take the opportunity to start what I hope will be a periodic series here...this week in blog history!  I now have over four years to recount, so let's see where we've been:

2008 - I had just had my car accident, which totaled my first car.  It happened the week of my first baby shower, so it made for a tricky week.  Craig had to drive me to a doctor's appointment and got to hear the baby's heartbeat and feel around my belly, which was certainly more than he bargained for.  I pondered if getting a haircut would make it feel like a mom 'do, or if getting a new car would leave my old car as a symbol of my pre-baby life.  I looked forward to my shower, and ended up with some amazing gifts and a lovely time with my family.

2009 - We were dealing with some random sleep problems for Jacob, which looking back on it was probably just another round of teething.  Sleep was rare and we were exhausted!  He had also been diagnosed with eczema, which turned out to be pretty much a non-event, thank goodness.  After a conversation with a father-to-be friend of mine, I looked back on my labor experience and wondered how I might do it differently next time.  I still wonder about that, for that matter!  I recounted a very busy weekend that included Jacob's second-ever baseball game, a trip to the zoo, and outdoor dinner by the lake.  I discussed God's wisdom in preventing human babies from getting mobile as quickly as animal babies, which is funny to look back on in light of a picture my cousin posted on Facebook yesterday of a new foal that was born on her family's farm.  Amazing how it was up and walking, but thank goodness human babies have to wait until they start controlling their bodies and understanding the word "no" just a little better.  Finally, I took one of my favorite accidental pictures--a picture of a tulip in our yard with Jacob's and my shadow silhouetted on the house's foundation behind it.  Love it to this day.

2010 - We were still settling in from our move nearly a month earlier, but managed to get the house in decent shape before welcoming some guests--my parents friends, their daughter, and her son Colin, who's just a couple months younger than Jacob.  It was fun watching the boys finally run around together and talk just a little bit!  We'd just purchased our potty, which means we have had that thing sitting in our bathroom for two years now.  I'm ready to hide it and make Jacob start using the big potty, just because I know he can.  I discussed how Jacob really is just a small person, in how some of the behaviors I don't understand at first are actually no different than how I handle things as an adult...from sleeping to not wanting to eat certain foods, we all have our moments.  We had another hectic weekend, where we went to Jacob's little friend Angelica's birthday party (she turned 4 last week!), and had a great time at the zoo with Lori.  I still look back fondly on that day!

2011 - This week last year was Easter week.  I dealt with the difficulty of talking to Jacob about death in the context of Good Friday, and had a blast with him in pleasant weather on Holy Saturday, despite the fact that my mom had to spend the whole day at the hospital with my grandma, who was really starting to go downhill.  We had a nice Easter, though.  That week we took Jacob to Chuck E. Cheese for the first time.  The boys have been back since, but I've managed to avoid it!  It definitely wasn't my favorite place to spend an evening, but I'm sure we'll have to do it again soon.  Jacob's been asking.  A year ago I also attempted to get treatment for my lack of smell, which ended up not working.  I haven't given up hope, but it's been another year without two very important senses.  I also blogged about one funny experience when Jacob and I had to dash through the rain to our car, and while I was freaking out, he was laughing.  And I needed that!  That was just one of the little elements of Jacob's personality that was just starting to emerge.  We've seen a LOT of personality come out in the last year, that's for sure!

It's amazing to look back on how far we've come in four years. 

Speaking of that...check out this video from Easter weekend this year, when Jacob was giving his golf clubs their first workout of the season.  Kid's got some talent...or maybe I'm just used to my lack thereof...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Dark Side

So, for all the good things that daycare has done for Jacob, there are some things about it that I haven't appreciated.  For example...

Of course it's hard to be away from Jacob all day, five days per week.  He's never really known any different, but let's face it--there's a reason why school is structured as it is and kids aren't meant to start until at least four or five years old.  Maybe it's not fair to him to have to deal with so many hours away from home every day.  But he's handled it like a champ.  Still, it's hard to not be the total master of your child's world.  It's hard when you miss a milestone or learn something about your child from someone else.  As a parent you feel like you should be on top of that stuff, but when you spend more time away from them than with them most days, it's so hard.  I recall feeling that way a lot whenever Jacob seemed a little "off", just hating that I couldn't spend the day with him to figure out what was making him act oddly. 

The cost is crazy.  It makes the prospect of Christian school tuition not seem like a big deal, but it's definitely been a big hit over the past 44 months or so.  It used to be equal to our monthly mortgage payment (including taxes and insurance), though as our mortgage rose a bit with the move, our costs for Jacob have gone down slightly.  The kicker is that I know the people that work at daycare centers don't get paid well enough.  They don't get the breaks that regular teachers do, work earlier in the morning or later in the day, and they have to deal with bodily fluids and extra illnesses and whatever else.  It's a tough job and they don't get the money they deserve...and yet I don't want to pay anything more so they can! 

Doing the daycare thing involves giving up control of your child far earlier than normal.  I mentioned in my last post that the transition to school will hopefully be easier after spending all this time away from him already, having had to trust other people with my child since he was seven weeks old.  But it's hard when you can't control their environment completely.  You don't entirely know what they're being exposed to until they come home and start showing the effects.  That could be something physical, like not getting completely slathered in sunscreen and coming home with a sunburn (never happened, just an example) or something having to do with the food they eat.  Or it could be something emotional, mental, or simply environmental.  It may be a way someone is treating them, interactions with other kids, or activities you didn't know they were doing.    

Right now we're dealing with some potty talk issues with Jacob.  "Pee" and "poop" are among his favorite words right now, and not far behind is "boobies".  Awesome, right?  The pee and poop stuff is just annoying but age appropriate, I guess.  The boobies issue is darn-near infuriating.  Particularly since it comes with a bit of a touchy-feely problem.  Jacob has crossed over into that realm of beginning to understand the differences between boys and girls.  He tries to touch my chest a lot, thinking it's funny, and talks about "boobies" too often for it to be even remotely cute.  He was a "boob guy" from the beginning (haha, like he had a choice!), but for a while he didn't really seem to notice their presence.  Now it's at the point where I need to think twice about showing too much skin in his presence, because he will call me out on it.  It's weird, but I guess the time had to come sometime.  We've tried a lot to curb the behavior, but it's not working.  And it may even be getting worse.  We can punish, ignore, or state in no uncertain circumstances that it's not acceptable.  But I have a feeling that he's got so much of it going on among his friends that we're fighting a losing battle.

In general it's hard to get a read on what he learns about and is exposed to each day.  I can ask questions about his day, I can try to pick up hints, but ultimately I don't know what he's picking up or how it will impact him in the long run.  Daycare introduces a lot of unknowns to the mix because you can't control it all.  I'm hoping it's been good preparation for the rest of his life, which inevitably will only be so much within my control.  But as we've been doing all along, we'll just have to take it day by day and hope we make the right decisions to deal with whatever he goes through. 

In examining this whole daycare thing, it's a little amazing that I had 10 pros and only a few cons, but I suppose it's all in how you weight each one to see how it all shakes out.  Still, we've had pretty decent daycare experiences overall, so I really can't complain.  Hard to believe we only have about 16 months more of the full-time daycare experience before Jacob starts Kindergarten.  Wow.  Doesn't seem possible, but then again, I'm having a lot of those reality check moments lately.  Probably just the beginning, I'm sure...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Bright Sides of Daycare

Since the day I dropped Jacob off at daycare for the first time, I've done my fair share of rationalizing our decision.  I mean, I still don't feel like we have a choice--cutting out one of our salaries would mean chopping nearly 50% of our total income.  That's a lot of cutting, even with saving money on daycare.  The good news of this whole delayed baby-making thing, by the way, is that at most we'll only have a few months of full-on, overlapping daycare costs by the time a new baby would arrive.  We'll still have to manage summers, before/after school care, and possibly Christian school tuition, but that seems minimal in comparison to the two years of $10,000+ daycare expenses for each kid that we could have had otherwise.

So...knowing we had to have Jacob in daycare, we might as well find the bright side of things.  And here's the rundown of the bright side:

1)  Being around kids and other adults from the beginning, I think he's pretty good socially.  He knows how to act around other kids and how to play nicely, and he's used to authority figures besides his parents.  Not having had a sibling for this long, I think it's good for him to know he's not always the center of attention--even if ultimately that's still how it is at home.

2) He's had a greater variety of experiences than life home with one of us might have provided.  He eats a greater variety of foods, plays with different toys, and has even gone on field trips to places we'd never have taken him ourselves.

3) He's learning from professionals.  I'm not going to say that all of his teachers have been masters-degree-bearing folks, but at the very least they have an interest in early education and enjoy hanging out around kids.  Most of them have plenty of experience (and the ones that don't probably bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm), and they know good ways to get kids to learn.  I know I didn't teach Jacob the alphabet that religiously, so they've obviously done something right because the kid knows his letters well.  He also knows some sign language letters and knows how to count in Spanish.  I've often said that if I was home with him I'd have to dig in and find things to keep him engaged, but they're teaching him stuff I'd probably never have attempted.  And they don't mind being repetitive.

4) Peer pressure is a great thing...for now.  I know he eats things there he'd probably never eat at home, and I have a sneaking suspicion that he wouldn't nap as well without the constant reinforcement that everyone takes naps and is okay with it.  I'd have to think even potty training was helped along by having the influence of ten other kids using the potty at the same time.  He's also more likely to participate nicely in play activities when the rest of his friends are doing it, too. 

5) He's got a good routine, and that's a helpful thing for him.  Kids thrive on knowing what's next and what's expected...and if you don't believe me, try to get a kid to stop playing and do something else immediately, without warning.  We've seen how he reacts when his sleep schedule is off, and I think as a whole he functions better when he's on a set schedule.  Daycare provides that, from getting up at a certain time in the morning, to getting dressed right away, to his normal course of events there, to pick-up, dinner and beyond.  I know I would be too lazy to keep that up at home every day.

6) Based on all of the illnesses he's gotten over the past 3-1/2 years, I'd say he should be immune to a lot by the time real school comes around, which means he'll miss less days when it really matters.  At least, that's what all of us daycare parents tell ourselves.  God forbid the illnesses continue like this much longer!

7) More people to love him.  Nothing was better when he was a baby than sharing his latest accomplishments with his teachers, because we all got so excited!  Oh, and it's nice to hear from other people what a good, funny kid he is, even if we don't always get the same treatment at home.

8) Having been in daycare from the beginning, he's always been used to being somewhere each day, away from us.  While as parents we might have had a tough time adjusting early on, he got through it relatively easily.  He's also become accustomed to changes as he's gotten older--as he changes classrooms, teachers leave, or classmates come and go.  I won't say he handles all of it gracefully, but he's pretty used to it.  And as such, I think all of us will handle the transition into PreK-4, and later Kindergarten, with a lot more comfort than if he was thrust into it after years of settling into a home routine.  I'll probably still cry, though.

9) It's nice to have a sounding board and a little feedback when it comes to navigating toddler-hood.  It's hard enough to know what you're doing right or wrong, and it's nice to have an objective opinion about whether something's amiss with your child.  Parents know them best, of course, but I like the backup of knowing that Jacob's abilities are around those of his peers, or that the rash on his arm might be something we should be concerned about.  It's nice to have extra eyes, ears, and brains overseeing your child, particularly ones that have seen a lot of kids come through their room.  And while not all of their observations may be entirely correct, sometimes their advice is something to consider. 

10) When all else fails, the time away can work wonders.  When we've had our fill or need a little break from Jacob's antics, there's always daycare in the morning.  When we're reunited at the end of the day, we're all refreshed and ready for another round.

In another post I'll ponder the dark side of daycare...but at least I have this list to prove that good things have resulted from a situation that many would say is less than ideal. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dreams

Once upon a time, I was obsessed with webcams.  Not the sketchy, personal ones, of course...but rather, the ones that looked at various places around the world.  From town squares in Germany to the construction of an IKEA in Sweden, from an ice rink in Montreal to a controllable light grid in Japan, I was riveted.  Starting in my sophomore year of college, much of my spare time online was taken up by searching for new webcams and enjoying the many I already knew about.  Heck, I created entire web pages linking to them. 

Before I spent significant time documenting the life of our child (and my reactions to the experience), I surfed from camera to camera looking at parts of the world that I never knew existed or that I desperately hoped to visit.  Like anything else in life, certain cameras resonated with me more than others.  I became fascinated by Scandinavia.  I was strangely obsessed with watching street cameras halfway around the world in the wee hours of the morning (their time) and pondering the lives of the random few people passing by.  I loved seeing unique architecture and gorgeous landscapes.  I dreamed about visiting German Christmas markets or Munich's Oktoberfest.  I "revisited" places I'd been previously and sometimes tried to find the actual cameras when traveling through places I'd viewed previously.  It probably bordered on obsession at times, but it was fun and even educational. 

The obsession lasted for more than a decade.  My website is no more, but I still have the files saved and dozens more sites marked as favorites stored away.  And while I used to look at many of them weekly or even daily, I can't tell you the last time I spent a significant period of time surfing webcams, aside from a little at Christmas, a couple weeks at Oktoberfest, and a couple views of bird nests that I frequent this time of year.  But that's about it.

I spend my time online now browsing Facebook and reading and writing blog posts.  I read mostly about parenting and current events' connection to parenting.  Some days I can barely keep up with it all.  I've mentioned here before that writing this very blog has kept me from valuable sleep, all in the name of documenting our lives and participating in a little therapeutic venting.

Where my time was once spent dreaming of travels to far away locations and learning about other places and cultures, my time is now spent looking for insight into this parenting gig, commiserating and sharing experiences, and hoping to find ways to do it better.  It's a definite shift in focus. 

Now the question is, does this mean I have stopped dreaming?

I couldn't get enough of the webcams because they represented places I wanted to go.  They might have been places I never knew I cared to visit, but in the moment I was looking at them, I wanted to be there.  A quaint European square, a zoo exhibit, a breathtaking mountain-filled landscape, or a unique landmark on the other side of the country...I suppose anything would be better than sitting at my desk, for example, but I live for exploring new places and webcams gave me a little peek into so many exotic locales.  I'm a bit timid about venturing out in the real world, but I do love the prospect of going somewhere new to explore, take pictures, and experience new things.  Webcams are an easy way to see a lot without worrying about traveling, public transportation, or money.  Over the years I compiled quite the list of places I wanted to go.  And now, it's just sort of stalled.

I'm not sure why.  Am I just being more practical by spending my time focusing on something that impacts my life each day, rather than dream trips that may never happen?  Do I subconsciously not want to travel because I'd rather stay with Jacob?  Did my list of cams get too long to keep up, so I just cut it out completely?  Or is reality just a little too real and the dream of visiting these places just a little too big to fit in my world right now?  I have no idea.  On one hand it's a little depressing, but on the other, perhaps it's wise to not get myself caught up in something that might never happen.   

I think we all need dreams.  And maybe my dreams right now are focused in other directions--another baby, a part-time job that allows me more time with Jacob, enough free time to catch up on my to do list, the discipline to structure my life in a more fulfilling way (better spiritual life, earlier bedtime, less wasted time)--but somehow those down-to-earth desires feel equally difficult to achieve as the ones I had involving places on the other side of the globe.  Sometimes this parenting thing is an overwhelmingly tough job, and maybe I'm just trying to keep my efforts focused where they're needed most.  Hopefully someday there will be the time, energy, and money to dream bigger once again, but for now I've got one dream come true sleeping upstairs, and maybe that should be enough.    

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Long-Awaited Zoo Visit

I'm not sure I remember the last time we were at the zoo.  Halloween, maybe?  We're members, so on one hand I want to make sure we get our money's worth, but then again, part of what's nice about it is the fact that we can just go whenever and stay as long or short as we want.  It's nice that we can be laid back about it and not freak out when animals aren't visible, because we know we can see it another day.  In hindsight I feel like we probably should have skipped our membership this past year because construction on a new exhibit closed off access to the elephants and the baboons.  Thinking back I feel like the original date when they originally said the new exhibit would be open was sooner than this, and I think I just wanted to be members when it finally happened so we could check it out without worrying about it being mobbed the one time we'd go if we were non-members.   

Well, there are two bits of good news in the coming weeks.  First, the new lion exhibit, which looks like it's going to be awesome, opens up in another month.  I can't wait!  Not just for the lions, mind you, but also to see the baboons again, in particular.  The viewing for them is up-close and they're always so animated.  The other bit of good news is that in the past year we came into a certificate for a free membership.  So we won't have to pay for next year (starting next month), which is nice since I'm always debating renewing, given our busy schedule in the summer--travel, pool time, etc.  Often I think that I'd like it next time we have a baby since it's a great, low-key place to take a walk and get out of the house.  I also think it'll be a little easier to go more often when Jacob drops his nap because right now we're stuck going first thing in the morning. Usually it's too late in the afternoon to go once he wakes up from his nap (only took about three years, but it's so nice to have a good napper!).  Anyway, the free membership means we don't have to make that decision this year!

The weather was pleasant Saturday morning and Craig had to work, so Jacob and I headed out for a morning visit.  And for a change, he was 95% good.  What a breath of fresh air to have a little boy that acted reasonably good for his age.  Seriously, it makes all the difference.  We also didn't take a stroller this time, so that was a big step, and fortunately it didn't backfire.  It was a very busy morning there, much busier than when we usually go, but all in all it was a nice time.  Here's a photo summary of our trip:

Different bird I noticed in the aviary.  I love that exhibit because the birds are so close and there are no cages or glass separating them.  Someday that will come back to haunt me, I'm sure.

This meerkat was seriously posing for everyone...then running around in circles.  Reminds me of someone else I know...

Given Jacob's obsession with his stuffed eagle, he had a renewed appreciation for the eagle exhibit.  They are so stinkin' regal, aren't they?

Jacob had a blast running around the playground.  He's gotten to be quite adept at it all, and goes down slides with a lot less fear than he used to.  I fully credit daycare's playground equipment and peer pressure for that.  I love this picture because I can see his dimple!

We always love the otters and were lucky enough to see one swimming outside.  This one struck a pose, too, but turns out it was pooping in the process.  Ew.

Another happy face, this time climbing the log bench in front of the tiger exhibit.  I was getting a little cranky about it because he wasn't supposed to be climbing it, but it was hard to keep telling him no when everyone else was climbing on it. 

Always fun when the zoo adds animals, and this is a new one--a crane.  So pretty with the red patch on its head!
We also saw the penguins, though the ones here happen to be the most boring penguins ever.  We got a couple good views of the polar bears, and while the sea lions were only a little active, we did get to see an odd sight of two zookeepers in a boat in the middle of the exhibit cleaning the glass windows!  We also had our first visit to the animal hospital.  No activity there, but we did get to see where they make the animals' food, examine them, and operate.  Anyway, it was a nice morning to be out and about, and with a well-behaved boy, it was a pleasure to be there with him. 

We came home for lunch and naptime (three hours--I spent at least half of it pulling weeds!), and then went outside for a bit.  While we were out there I snapped this lovely picture of a tiny little violet in our yard.  Just loved the brightness of it and wanted to share! 

We ended the day at the Knighthawks game with Lori.  She ended up not feeling well shortly after halftime, which made for an earlier night than planned.  But truly, other than missing the end of a big win, it turned out well because it got Jacob in bed significantly earlier.  I was hoping that would mean he'd be a more cooperative child again today, but no such luck.  He woke up way early and it made for a rough day.  Boo.  But at least we got one good day.  It gives me hope that we'll get more of those...someday.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Hockey Game

The other night we went to a hockey game.  It was my first Amerks' game since the two games we went to in October.  In between we went to one college game (the boys went to a second) and one Sabres game, but going all those months between Amerks games was a personal record for me.  In comparison to when I was at an average of two games per week, at least, and usually at least a game every few weeks the past few years, this winter was definitely a change.

On one hand, I didn't really miss it.  I mean, I wasn't craving going to games and we had plenty to fill our time instead.  I am grateful that I don't have to spend half my life at the arena anymore, and I'm even more grateful that Craig doesn't have to spend his whole life there, either. 

But on the other hand, hockey has been a huge part of the last 20 years of my life (!).  Hockey is what led me to the life I have now.  It was my main interest throughout high school, the focus of most of my wall decor in college, and the target of my job search upon graduation.  I spent the first 5-1/2 years of my working life employed by a hockey team (among other sports), and met my husband there.  And now, six years after leaving that life, my son is a sports nut. 

After spending so much time away this winter, I walked into Tuesday's game with a bit of a fresh perspective.  It probably helped that it's nearly playoff time, which was always a special time of year when I worked for the team.  We never won a championship, and in fact the closest we got was losing in game six of the finals when I was still an intern.  But some of our playoff runs, no matter how short, held some of my favorite memories from my time with the Amerks.  It was a dream come true working there (even if in reality it wasn't exactly a dream job), and the spring always held such promise and potential.  Walking back into the arena with a hint of warmth in the outside air brought back those memories, and seeing a familiar face on the ice (albeit with the other team) triggered fond remembrances of the players that passed through town during my tenure with the team.  We ran into the widow of our old friend and co-worker, former Amerk Craig Charron, who passed away a year and a half ago from stomach cancer.  It was good to see her and three of their four kids, but it definitely brought my mind back to the days when we worked with Sharky, and all the fun we had as a staff back in the day.  We worked hard and played hard (some more than others), and we had a blast despite the constant stress that bogged us down in the office much of the time. 

Perhaps what stood out to me most was what wasn't there--the players, our co-workers, and so much around the arena that's different than it was back then--and the absence of those things made me just a little wistful for that period of my life that I willingly left behind.  Don't get me wrong, I needed to leave when I did and I could never go back.  It was not the kind of life I could live now, and had I not given it up, Jacob would not have come along when he did.  I don't regret any of it, but perhaps now that I'm a parent and live a pretty tame life, I have come to a greater appreciation of the special, unique time that it was.  There are so many stories and so many memories, and those of us that lived through them could rehash those stories for hours.  Though we all had our beefs with each other at times, there was a certain dysfunctional family vibe to it all, and I think we'd all settle back in pretty easily if given the opportunity to reunite.  It was quite an experience, and while part of me is sad that it's over and past, I can't help but be grateful for the gift that its ending gave me:
Does it get any better than this?

Is this the life, or what?  Watching a game from a suite with my little boy (and Craig, too!)

Yep, I've got it pretty good.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far...

There are times when Jacob is acting up and I get frustrated, unable to figure out why he's acting a certain way.  And then, later, when I think about it, I realize that I do the same things as he does, though maybe in a slightly different way.  Hard to blame him when I do the same things myself!

Getting Up - We do tend to differ a bit on this one because he's often an early riser (though, admittedly, not nearly as bad as he could be) and I am not.  And once he's up, boy is he chipper!  He will have a full-on production going on in his room--singing, conversations with his animals, and animal lacrosse games, all before 7:30am.  But on those days when I do have to wake him up in the morning, he takes after both Craig and me and is very slow to rise.  I could make noise, rub his back, tickle him, or talk to him, and he will completely ignore me and attempt to continue sleeping for as long as possible.  I pretty much do the same thing to him when he tries to break into my blissful slumber.

Picking Clothes - Every morning is a bit of a battle in the clothing department. Jacob has his favorite outfits, and when all of those are dirty or he starts outgrowing them, just picking a simple shirt turns into World War 3. The war is followed by a full-blown wrestling match just to get the shirt on him. There's a fine line between picking your battles and letting your kid run the show, and this seems to be one of the major situations where that line is straddled on a daily basis. There are perfectly good shirts sitting in his closet that he's hardly worn because he puts up a fuss (for no apparent reason) every time I suggest them. I refuse to let him look like a ragamuffin every day in too-small clothes (at least, once I get enough clothes to replace them), nor do I want to send him off each week in the same five outfits. I do tend to reserve some of his cooler stuff for weekends, as well, since I'd hate for him to paint on something special or not have something presentable when we actually go somewhere where we'd like it to appear that we care how he looks. He gets a bit of a free pass on that one since he's a boy, but still--is a nice pair of jeans and a cute shirt too much to ask? So once I deal with his clothing issues, it's off to my closet where I tend to ignore a good portion of the stuff in my closet in favor of a handful of clothes that I tend to fixate on. Granted, some of the stuff I'm ignoring doesn't look as good on my post-baby body, and styles have changed in the 10 years since I bought some of it. I'm more about mixing and matching staples these days--sweaters with a cami, plain long-sleeved tees, jeans or black dress pants, or simple tops and skirts (though that's more in the summer). But I play favorites just like Jacob does, and probably ignore perfectly good clothes day after day. Oops.

Going to Work/Daycare - We all agree that getting up to go to work and daycare is a drag.  It's not how any of us want to spend our morning, that's for sure.  Once in a while he says he wants to go to work with one of us, but I try to explain to him that work is boring and he'll have far more fun at daycare.  It may not be where he'd most like to spend his day, but it would appear he has a decent time there most days so I'd imagine that he's far better off there than any time he'd spend with us at boring old work.  But I think there's a general consensus that we'd all like to just hang out at home most days.  Some days more than others, like the Monday after Easter when we were all exhausted and really needed another day to recover.  I felt downright guilty for sending Jacob off that morning, on top of my own dread of going to work.  We all needed another day, and I knew it.

Going to the Bathroom - Jacob will wait until the very last minute to admit to having to use the potty.  He'll be doing the dance, crossing his legs, and acting like a total freak, and even when we call him on it, he will put off the visit to the bathroom as long as possible.  When we finally convince him (or downright force him) he's usually squirming so much that he can barely get his pants down to go!  Surprisingly, despite all that he has very few daytime accidents these days (nights are another story, if you can consider accidents in the form of him leaking out of his diaper...again).  I obviously have even greater mastery of my bladder (well, aside from some lasting effects of childbearing now and then...stupid Kegels.), but I too find myself putting off bathroom visits just to keep getting stuff done.  I keep working, hoping to find a good stopping point, and never seem to find one...that is, until I realize that I am totally distracted by how bad I have to go and need to go just to continue to do functional work.

Going to Bed - As a whole, once we get Jacob upstairs he's not too much of a bedtime problem.  Once he's in his pajamas, picks out his bedtime stories, and starts to snuggle in, most of the time he's out like a light very quickly.  But he puts up a major fuss when he's pulled away from his toys when bedtime arrives.  Oftentimes I find myself literally scooping him up and carrying him upstairs because I refuse to repeat myself for the umpteenth time or wrestle him up the stairs. The tantrums and excuses could go on forever.  It's even a struggle to get him to focus long enough to get his pajamas on, because he can always find something else to grab or do.  I often wonder why he'd fight sleep even though he obviously needs it. And then I think about myself every single night, determined to get off my chair at 11pm to go to bed, only to find myself sitting there until well after 11:30 and going to bed at 11:45 every night, cursing the fact that my alarm will be going off all too soon. He may fight sleep because he's afraid he'll miss something, but maybe he's just like me, convinced he's got too much to do and can't be bothered to put it down and get that much needed sleep instead.

In doing this little analysis, I've realized that the one area in which we seem to have very little in common is eating.  I could probably eat all day, every day.  Jacob could take it or leave it.  I live for mealtimes and tend to snack a lot if given the opportunity.  He's a bit of a snacker at times, but he is totally uninterested in mealtime most of the time.  He rarely complains about being hungry--unless, of course, dinner is running extra late--though he does like to drink water a lot and will eat pretty well if the conditions are right.  But we pretty much couldn't be more different on that front!

Oh, and I'll choose to blame Jacob's current insistence to sleep on the floor on Craig's affection for floors.  He doesn't really do it much anymore, but back in the day he'd go back to his house after a game and a few beverages and fall asleep on the floor watching a movie.  At least Jacob has the comfort of his pile of stuffed animals, but I'll blame that one on Craig! 

So, perhaps when Jacob's behavior perplexes me, I need to step back and think about how I'd react in a similar circumstance.  And hopefully by doing that, I can be a better parent to him when the same situation arises again. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter!

If our level of exhaustion on Monday morning was any indication, we had a pretty fantastic Easter.  Sunday was a long, busy day, but we had a blast and in the process completely wiped ourselves out for Monday.  We ate a ton, Jacob got some great gifts, and we had some good quality family time.  Of course, somehow my camera never made it out of my purse for most of our time with Craig's family, but I'll give you the rundown nonetheless...

Sunday morning we were up bright and early to go to church with my parents.  Craig had returned from Calgary Saturday afternoon and we spent the evening watching a basketball movie called "The Mighty Macs".  Nice feel-good story.

Jacob was ready for church in time for a little Easter basket hunting--he had two to find!  He found grandma's first, and was very excited by its contents--a Lego base, a little Lego set, a solid chocolate hockey puck (Platters--yum!), and some jelly beans.  Here he is getting excited about the Lego base--more grass for his "lacrosse arena" that he and Craig have been building...

Then the hunt was on for his basket from the Easter Bunny (aka the one I put together).  It took a lot of directing (we were short on time, after all), but he got it.  Here he is bringing it out from its hiding spot...
He's very excited about the baseball egg that's in his hand.  The stuff on the chair is what we had to move so he could "double check" behind the chair (per our suggestions).

Checking out his loot--two superhero books, a Spider-man cup, Mr. Freeze and his freeze chamber (for his Batcave), a chocolate bunny, and a bunch of eggs filled with candy
We headed off to church and Jacob was actually very well-behaved.  We ate a delicious breakfast in the gym (pancakes, egg casserole, ham, assorted pastries, and juice) before heading off to the annual highlight of Easter morning, the Easter egg hunt.  Or, as I like to call it, the candy free-for-all.  Two years ago Jacob won a giant bunny because he happened to pick up one of the prize-bearing eggs.  But mostly it's just a room full of candy and every kid picks it up until it's gone.  It's quite the sight.
Picking up candy and looking oh-so-handsome in his Easter attire...

Happily eating his Nerds!  He pretty much left a trail of them through the church building, though we did manage to clean them up as we went.
Back at my parents' house to pack up, I snapped a picture of him with his Lego creation (from MY old Legos, this time!)...

And we got a decent family picture, which is a rarity...

We packed up and headed off to Craig's side of the family, stopping first at his Aunt Marie's house to visit with some extended family.  Jacob got a new baseball guy while we were there, which he loved, and I snapped this glorious picture of Aunt Marie's egg collection.  One of these years I'm going to start a collection like this.  They are so gorgeous.

We headed to Craig's brother's house for the main gathering, and we had a wonderful time.  We ate a ton--the food was fantastic!  We had ham, kielbasa, lazy pierogi (a pasta dish), cheesy potatoes, tons of fresh fruit and veggies, my favorite bread, and tons of desserts--Oreo pie, cherry pie, krispie treats, and more.  Jacob got a little remote controlled car (which he's enjoying a lot), some additions to his summer wardrobe, a Color Wonder coloring book, and a new Batman.  He spent part of the day in a Spider-man costume, and the other part in a Power Rangers costume.  I should have snapped pictures, but for some reason I never got out the camera.  Kicking myself now, of course.  He had fun as usual playing with his cousins, and did it all on a 20-minute long nap.  He just loves exploring his cousins' toys and being one of the boys.  He was still a handful at times, but overall it was a good day.  He fell asleep just a bit into our ride home and slept through our arrival.  He had some potty incidents in the middle of the night (he's still in diapers at night and tends to pee out of them all too frequently), but I'm guessing his extra tired state might have contributed to that as well.

Overall, it was a great weekend but these first couple days back have been a bear.  Now we're just left with some Easter treats to enjoy, and Jacob got that started with his hockey puck last night.  He bit right into it!  Don't worry, we didn't let him eat the whole thing...
But don't you think that smile indicates he *would* eat the whole thing if he could?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Boy of Many Sports

Jacob wanted to spend all of Holy Saturday outside.  It was sunny and just warm enough to be outside without a real coat.  A hoodie was sufficient and the sun was glorious!  He was excited to get outside and play with his golf clubs, which live at Grandma and Grandpa's.  Here he is in the kitchen, ready to go out...
Excited!
It took a little reminding, but Jacob got back into the "swing" of things...

He was back in some bad habits, but he still got off some great shots.  And then it was off to baseball...
Perfecting his stance...
 Baseball was short-lived and then it was time for lacrosse!
Where did this big boy come from?!

Jacob absolutely cracked us up when he later insisted on playing referee while we played lacrosse.  Let's just say his referee skills aren't too great, as he called timeouts immediately after faceoffs and called "no goal" on perfectly legit goals!  Such a silly boy sometimes.

Jacob is much more likely to pose for pictures when he's doing something he enjoys.  He was full of smiles today so I got a few good ones, but this one was a lucky catch since I had my camera handy.

He was destroying a daffodil in this picture, but isn't he looking adorable while doing it?  We failed at getting a picture of him looking cute holding it nicely, so this will have to do!

He absolutely loved being outside, and did not want to go back in!  Thank goodness for spring...it's the best thing the Easter bunny could bring!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Great" Friday

It seems a little sacrilegious to say that one of my favorite days of the year is Good Friday, but over the past few years, it appears that it is indeed the truth.  For a while back in high school and college, Easter was my favorite holiday.  Christmas is great, but it's busy and stressful and in the middle of winter.  Easter heralds the coming of spring, and there has always been a certain simplicity about it that I absolutely cherish.  Pretty dresses, lots of chocolate, spring flowers, and the absolute best Bible story ever.  Sold.

When I was younger, I loved coloring eggs and helping set up for our church's Easter breakfast.  I appreciated the solemnity of the Good Friday children's service at our church, complete with a vivid illustration of the pounding of nails into the cross.  Easter morning meant waking up at the crack of dawn (seemingly every year the morning after the time change!), but I was rewarded with a gorgeous church service and fantastic breakfast (be it the one I helped set up or one out with my grandma).  Usually we had a pretty low key family gathering after that and hoped to have a day nice enough to enjoy some outside time. 

My love affair with Good Friday didn't really start until six years ago, when I had my first Good Friday off as a working adult.  We almost always had games on Good Friday and Holy Saturday when I worked in sports, and in fact, Craig is on his way back from Calgary as I type.  Once I changed jobs, I was ecstatic to discover that I got Good Friday off each year, and I have truly enjoyed that time.  That first one, I made a mix CD of Easter-ish songs, then went to church and participated in a "prayer labyrinth", a series of go-at-your-own-pace stations to pray and ponder the events leading up to Christ's death.  It was very moving.  I believe I also got to participate in our family tradition of prunes and noodles (German thing) for the first time in ages.  Ever since, prunes and noodles has been a staple and I love finding other ways to fill the weekend. 

Two years ago we had just moved into our house and the weather all weekend was in the 80s.  It was like some sort of heavenly utopia.  We played outside, took a walk by the river and geocached with my parents, and had the most unsuccessful Easter egg hunt ever.  But it was a fantastic weekend.  Last year was a good time, too.  Easter weekend just has all sorts of fun wrapped up in it, and I was definitely excited to do it again.

We headed up to NT on Thursday night to give ourselves a full day Friday.  We went to the outlet to shop for sneakers for both of us, had a little playtime, and he took a good nap while my mom and I headed out for a walk that included a stop at the library, where I was able to find some books I've been hoping to get at our library but never could.  We had a very good time at prunes and noodles.  Jacob had a blast driving a giant remote control truck off of a ramp with his second cousins.  No pictures, unfortunately, but the smile on his face while driving it recklessly was priceless.  In the meantime, I was having fun of my own eating fantastic food and spending quality time with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. 

After that we headed off to church.  Jacob has been nervous about it for weeks, because he remembered that my parents' church gets dark on Good Friday.  They do a tenebrae service, which involves the church getting progressively darker until all the lights are off.  He ended up doing fine, thankfully, though the service definitely got me thinking.  See, there's also a tradition in this service where everyone gets a strip of red cloth.  At one point in the service everyone brings their strip up front and lays it on the cross.  When the cross is lifted up afterward, the strips look like blood dripping down, though it's less graphic than that sounds.  Very moving, though.  This year I felt like Jacob was old enough to do his own, though I ended up having to take advantage of a potty stop during church to explain a bit about sin, hoping that it might give him some concept of what we were doing (and hopefully curtail the constant stream of disobedience we've been dealing with lately in the process).  I don't know if he really got it, but he did dutifully walk up and put his strip on the cross and was pretty quiet and captivated for most of the rest of the service.  It struck me as we walked up to the altar and back, and particularly as I helped him put his cloth up there, that it was quite the metaphor for being a Christian parent--leading my child to the cross and helping him lay his sin (and whatever else) on it.  Deep stuff.  I wrote last year about my difficulty explaining Good Friday to Jacob, and here's another take on the same topic, from someone who goes to my parents' church.  It's definitely complicated, but I think it's obviously he's already taking it all in, so it's just a matter of time before he starts to get it.

Today has been fun, as well.  I took a glorious run outside, and Jacob had a blast playing various sports.  It's not a particularly warm day, but the sun has made it perfectly lovely.  Now we're just awaiting Craig's arrival from his roadtrip and looking forward to a lovely day tomorrow with his family.  Now if only there wasn't a horrific work week waiting for me on Monday...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Shoes

Jacob beats up his shoes.  Badly.  Two pairs ago, he somehow turned part of them pink and ripped out one of the fake elastic laces, both within a few weeks of getting them.  Despite taking an overall beating on the exterior, the interior structure of the shoes survived pretty well, and in fact Jacob still wears them around the house as his "sports sneakers", even though it seems like they should be quite small on him now. 

The next pair he got--sometime last fall, I think--were doing pretty well until a couple weeks ago when the stitching ripped out of both the toes.  As with most of the other damage, those scars didn't happen in my presence.  Most of it happens at daycare doing God-knows-what, though for all I know Jacob's games outside with Daddy may contribute as well.  All I know is that the kid beats up his sneakers.

I'm a little picky about his sneakers.  I decided that I don't like predominantly dark colored sneakers.  They look funny with white socks, and I have concerns about how they'd look with shorts all summer.  Maybe I just have visions of the dorky kids that used to wear the generic black sneakers with white socks all summer.  Ugh.  Also, I'm still wanting him to have Velcro sneakers.  I don't mind having to tie them when he puts them on, but I do think it's nice that he can be independent.  I'm actually more concerned about him tripping over laces or having to stop playing and find a grown-up to tie his shoes all the time.  I did make a little practice thing (a 2-D shoe laced up with a ribbon) to see if he could pick up shoe tying now, but I think we're a little early.  So, Velcro it is, though I prefer the type that have pretend laces, too.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to shoe buying: buy cheap so it's less painful when you have to replace them, or buy better and you might not have to replace them as often.  I don't really think my three year old needs to be super stylish.  I mean, it's fun once in a while, but the reality of spending a ton of money on something he's going to beat up or outgrow quickly is easier said than done.  All things being equal I'd rather go cheap and feel less guilty about replacing it when the time comes.

Of course, this may all change as Jacob gets older and his classmates become more aware of brand names.  Right now, no one cares if his shoes came from a certain store, or if his jeans have a certain label on them.  So, he's got cheap shoes and some of his jeans are the cheapie, elastic-waist Circo brand from Target.  Normally we like Old Navy jeans, but Circo ones are great as fillers just because they're cheap, easy for potty training, and they tend to fit him well considering his waist-to-length ratio isn't always conducive to standard elastic-waist pants.  He does have some better jeans, but he's either outgrown those (and I refuse to buy more right now with summer on the horizon, because he will outgrow them by September) or I like to save them for weekends when I care more about how he looks.  I'd feel much less annoyed if he came home with a hole in the knees of a $5 pair of pants than a $12 pair.  Just sayin'.  But once his classmates are more aware of that sort of thing, I'll be more tempted to buy name brands just to make sure he's less of a target for teasing.  I remember how merciless kids can be with that stuff, and I'd hate to put Jacob through that.  Maybe I should just hope for uniforms by the time he gets into school.

But for now it doesn't seem like a bad plan to buy cheap while we can.  Of course, the issue is complicated a bit because we have the pleasure of having a Nike employee in the family.  I'd love to support her employer more often (and I'm desperately looking for a pair of Nikes that fit me well!), but we don't always have access to the employee store for great deals, and both of our outlet stores are over an hour away.  I actually wanted to get Jacob Nikes this time, just to see if they would hold up better, but his sneaks were so bad we couldn't wait.  I may try to go to an outlet store this weekend and try to buy a size up, just so we have them.  It'll still have to be the right deal, though.

In the meantime, I got him a new pair of sneakers at Kohl's.  I actually originally scored a great deal there--Skechers for $17--but I decided that the sneakers were too bulky and dark, and I didn't like how they looked with his normal attire.  So...I took them back, reconsidered our options, and looked at online reviews.  Most of the cheap sneakers at various stores didn't have great reviews, but one pair did--Jumping Beans sneakers at Kohl's.  Yes, it's Kohl's brand.  I didn't even see them the first time we were there because they were on a separate display.  On sale they only cost about $10.50, and they look pretty cool considering.  And you know what?  Jacob LOVES them.  He was so excited to show them off yesterday and it's almost like a treat that he gets to wear them all the time.  All that for $10.50?  Yes please. 

So while I'd love to get him sneakers that he can really be proud of, maybe for now it's more fun to see that same thrill on his face more often.  That excitement is worth far more than the coolest pair of name brand sneakers...but I'll still keep an eye out for those, too.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekend Fun

Aside from a handful of really horrific defiant moments, we had a nice weekend.  Jacob doesn't seem to get that listening to us helps avoid yelling and punishments.  But when he's not being defiant, he can be a pretty cool kid.

Craig had to run out to practice on Friday night, and I spent some time stringing up more Easter eggs for our front tree.  I did some last weekend and decided we needed more.  Gotta love the dollar store.  Jacob took a liking to the eggs, and ended up like this: 

Saturday we eagerly awaited the arrival of my parents for the day's afternoon Knighthawks' game.  Yes, another missed nap.  Ugh.  The game was pretty good--a loss, but a good effort--and Jacob took his usual 20-minute nap during the second quarter.  After the game we headed out for a quick geocache with my parents in the nearby park.  We took a little stroll back into the woods, and with a little guidance, Jacob found it! 

He got to pick out a toy, and then we headed out to the playground nearby.  The clouds began to clear right about then, and the sun came out to give us a really pleasant late afternoon.  Jacob had a blast on the playground.  He's definitely more confident than last year, probably thanks to being old enough for the big equipment at daycare now.  He did the big slide by himself and "rock climbed" no problem...

He also had fun underneath the equipment pretending...
I don't remember what exactly he was doing, but he did like talking to people through the wall!
Back at the house he showed off the "Knighthawks arena" that he and Craig had built out of Legos.  Here's the press box...
Craig is on the right.  He and his color guy both have beverages and Craig is holding a newspaper.  On the left is a camera.  Up top there's a PA announcement speaker. 
Here's the rear view...
The guys are on their little seats and the girl is the camera operator.  You can just see the arched window architectural details on each side.
And here's the overview.  The press box is at the top of the picture.  I didn't get the best angle, because there was a net on the turf and glass all along the back wall.  A lot of what's along the edges is Jacob's doing.  He's more into just adding pieces than understanding aesthetic value.  He'll learn, I have no doubt!

Sunday ended up being a super lazy day, as Jacob wasn't feeling well early on, I was exhausted, and it was rainy out.  Craig went out to watch a lacrosse game with a friend, and I even managed a short nap.  Jacob and I ventured out to the grocery store, and other than that, it was a pretty low key day. 

Mondays are always hard, but this one was made a little better by a good workout tonight and the knowledge that I only have to survive four days of work this week before some quality time with my parents and the rest of my family for a couple days, and time with Craig's family on Sunday.  I'm really looking forward to it.  Easter weekend is one of my favorite times of year, so I can't help but be excited.  The week should go very quickly as I have a lot to do and very few evenings to do it (and tons of work at work, and not enough hours in the day there either).  Should be fun...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

That's a new one...

I'll post more about this weekend soon, but I wanted to post a quick one to commemorate a funny "first" we had today.  And here I thought the fun milestones were all done...

Tonight we had a pretty horrible dinner experience with Jacob.  Yesterday he gave us trouble with meals all day and he woke up this morning very hungry.  Breakfast was ok and lunch actually went well today, but dinner was awful.  He wolfed down his main course (my special pierogies--Mrs. T's cooked my own special way), but wouldn't touch his side dishes, Stove Top and broccoli, both of which he normally eats fine.  I wasn't content to let him just hop down without eating them, so I drew a line in the sand and pretty much said we'd sit there until bedtime.  He freaked out for a while, complaining about one thing or another, and then finally seemed resigned to it and started eating.  I gave him the deal of only having to eat three more bites of broccoli and two more of the stuffing before he could get up, but no treats.  He didn't really like that since we had just come home from Wegmans with three small bags from the bulk department--jelly beans, malted robin eggs, and gummy bunnies.  So, the new deal was two bites of stuffing and ALL of his broccoli in exchange for some treats.  I settled on three jelly beans and a robin egg.  He had completely screamed his guts out for a good 15 minutes or more, so that was all he would get. 

As he sat there slowly but surely finishing his broccoli, he counted on his fingers, "one, two, three jelly beans...and one robin egg..." then came to the conclusion that that combination equaled four treats!  His first math problem!  Unprompted, uncoached, totally on his own.  He's a good counter, most of the time, but I was impressed that he put it together that the two groups could be combined into one total.  That was sort of cool to see the light bulb go on, and I was grateful to catch this random little milestone. 

Let's hope he's a brilliant mathematician someday, and this is where it all began. :)  (Of course, he did turn himself very blue while eating it, so he's got a little work to do in other areas...)