Saturday, May 30, 2015

School Picnic

Last year I remember a paper coming home from school with Jacob announcing the school picnic.  I'll be honest--with Jacob's Celiac disease I usually avoid things like that because it just gets too complicated.  The fun of the event usually ends up being squelched by the annoyance that results from Jacob not being able to eat what everyone else does.  So I tossed the paper out and dealt with Jacob's disappointment later.  This time around when the paperwork came home, I knew that I'd hear it from Jacob if we didn't go, so I checked to make sure he really wanted to go and reluctantly wrote the check for all of us to get meals.  I made a note that Jacob needed his burger without a bun, and made a mental note that he wouldn't really be able to eat any of the sides or dessert either.  Beyond that, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

The picnic arrived on Friday and luckily the weather was pleasant, so off we went.  We decided to get into the food line right away, and immediately I was on edge.  We watched a woman serve up burgers and hot dogs onto buns with gloves.  When we got up to the line, I hesitated handing over our tickets and explained to the woman that Jacob has Celiac disease and we were concerned about cross-contamination.  She grabbed a pair of tongs, which was helpful, but I unsuccessfully tried to explain to her at least twice that her gloved hands reaching into the pans of burgers after touching buns was a concern.  She just could not understand what the issue was an insisted the tongs were enough.  She said that her daughter has Celiac disease so she knows what's okay.  Ummm, clearly, you don't.  Anyway, I eventually gave up arguing and figured it would be minimal exposure, so we just took the burger and went off to eat.  He didn't get sick, but GEEZ.  I hate having to be that parent. 

We finished eating and headed off to check out the activities.  The first stop was the playground.  Jacob found some of his friends and Carter decided he was going to make his way through the big kids and go down the slide...

He had a blast and did it numerous times, each time with us cringing as big kids did crazy things all around him.  He couldn't really understand the concept of waiting until the slide was clear to go down, so some kids standing on the slide or screwing around suddenly had a little kid all up in their space.  Oh, well.  He did flop face-first on the mulch after his first run due to an unsuccessful dismount, but I was proud to see him go right back up for another round as soon as we brushed him off and dried the tears.  His lip was a little bloody and his face had some little dots that I'm guessing were from the impact on the mulch, but he did fine.

We moved to a smaller playset after that, and then moved on to what became the main attraction for the night--the fire truck!  At first he was hesitant to go up in it, but decided it looked pretty cool.  And once we got him up there, he didn't stop smiling...

Later Jacob took a break from running around with his friends and climbed up in it himself...

No matter how many times we tried to do other things, Carter kept wanting to go back.  He became somewhat of a novelty among the firefighters that were there, and they loved his obsession with the truck.

He couldn't get enough of sitting in the driver's seat!

At one point both boys were up in the truck, and this picture pretty accurately represents our life these days...
Carter is talking or yelling, and Jacob is making a face.  Yup, that's us.
 Later on we went back to another playground (one where Jacob's friend broke his arm the other day...yippee), and Jacob was hanging out with some girl friends on the equipment.  Carter tried to climb, but this equipment was pretty big!  At one point I hung on the monkey bars and attempted to do a pull-up (ha!), and after Carter saw me hanging, he decided to give it a try...
 He's pretty strong, though!  He hung in there pretty good!

We did have one other hiccup besides the food.  Jacob couldn't find us for a while and got a little panicky.  He tracked down the school counselor to help him, and she spotted us before she attempted to call Craig's cell.  Happy ending, but it was interesting to see his reaction.  In general we had a very nice time, though!

Today Jacob had a baseball game in the morning and we had a pretty low key rest of the day.  The one highlight is that the boys played in the sprinkler together this afternoon.  The pool is still getting opened (one step at a time) and it was hot, so at first they just played with the hose, and then we got out a fun sprinkler toy that Jacob got a couple years ago and the boys had fun with it!  Of course, I don't have pictures because a) it was very wet; and b) I was wet and in the midst of cleaning up a bunch of weeds and didn't want to use my camera in that state.  The best of it was short-lived, though, so I'm not sure I would have had time anyway.  But it was fun while they were both playing nicely!

A good start to our first "summer" weekend now that Craig is done with his season!  Lots of busy weekends to come!

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Best of Intentions

Parenting is hard.  Sometimes I wish that our kids' life success (in the broader sense) was based on our intentions, rather than what we actually do every day.  Can you imagine what an amazing, functional society we might have if we as parents could really do all of the things we'd like to do for our kids?  I'm not necessarily talking about material possessions or exceptional experiences, though in some cases those things would probably have an impact as well.  I'm just talking about something as simple as having more time and energy to sit and play or to just have an uninterrupted, earnest conversation. 

But life gets in the way, of course.  We spend all day working to make money to keep our kids housed and fed and cared for, to give them some things to call their own, and to provide them with experiences they'll take with them forever.  But if our sincere intention is to be able to spend more time with them, wouldn't it be nice if they just felt that love even when the time isn't there? 

I know I'm often guilty of using my limited time with the kids to get other things done, when I should be hanging out with them.  But after dinner the dishes beg to be cleaned up, and if I don't do it then, motivating myself to do it later seems like a gargantuan task.  I know that I should use Carter's naptime on weekends to hang out with Jacob and do things specifically with him, but getting things done is a huge sanity thing for me, as well, and if those things are nagging on me, I probably won't be a great mom anyway.  Sometimes he just happens to take that time and keep himself occupied, too, which is a great skill that I don't want to detract from.  But sometimes I'm simply too tired to, for example, spend a couple hours outside with him, knowing that when Carter wakes up he'll probably want to do the same thing.  So, we rest on our laurels and everything just ends up sub-par.  I feel terribly about it a lot of the time, but reality just gets in the way.  If only my intentions counted for something.

I'd love to involve the kids in more outings and events to expose them to different things.  I'd love to take them on more trips, even short ones, and do more fun activities as a family locally.  But between money, crazy schedules, and my simple fear of having to wrangle two crazy kids in the midst of what might be something already chaotic enough, it rarely happens.  In a couple weeks, there is a 5K and walk for charity that I really want to participate in.  I did it last year in honor of my friend's son who survived leukemia, and I'd really like to do it again.  Only, Jacob has baseball that morning, Craig might be on the road, and I sort of swore last year that I didn't want to bring kids again because dragging a stroller around or wrangling kids among the masses just isn't really a good time.  So as of now I'm not doing it.  I want to involve them in charity things, but sometimes the struggle outweighs the good it might do.  Heck, even giving away things to charity is a bit of a sore spot.  I mean, right now, Jacob mostly gives everything to Carter, and someday it will be Carter's unfortunate job to make the call on what's OK to be donated.  I never liked doing that as a kid, so I can only imagine the torture that lies ahead on that front.  I guess on one hand I'm grateful it will be Carter, because I can see Jacob being a lot more difficult with a task like that.  At the same time, I feel like Jacob is the one that most needs the experience of thinking of others and doing good deeds.  He's very selfish and self-centered a lot of the time and I know he needs more opportunities to exercise the "giving" side of him.  But I worry about the backlash and the complaining, so it slides down the list.  But gosh, if intentions counted for anything, he'd be in great shape.

I'd like to feed my kids good, wholesome food.  Sometimes I am successful, and sometimes I am not.  Gluten-free food is expensive as it is, let alone adding in anything organic.  And, of course, getting my kids to eat vegetables is a serious challenge, and sometimes it's not worth the battle.  Sometimes processed food is the one thing they'll eat to keep the meat on their skinny little bodies.  But oh, if intentions counted for anything, they'd be at the peak of health.  Well, maybe.  I still think there's a value to sticking a couple cookies in Jacob's lunch every day.  Life is too short not to eat cookies...especially when you can't eat so many other things!

I'd really like to be a less shouty mom.  Most of the time it seems my kids do not listen unless I shout, and half the time they're being so loud that I have to shout.  As a result, I usually feel like I don't have a choice BUT to be a shouty mom, but in reality it's really not pleasant for anyone.  They don't want to listen to me yelling, I don't like to hear myself yelling, and my throat definitely does not like me yelling.  And yet...despite my best intentions, I yell.  A lot.  But oh, how I wish I could maintain the volume level of (controversy aside) Michelle Duggar, who remains calm and downright sweet when disciplining her kids.  The real-life mom in me wants to think she's crazy for being able to stay so calm, but I still wish I could do it. 

Ultimately I'd like to look put-together and in-control with my kids, but maintain a loving attitude.  I want to have and live out a genuine desire to spend time with them, but still maintain a certain level of productivity.  I want to give them the best life possible, but not bankrupt us to do it.  A tricky balance, this parenting thing.  If only intentions equaled reality...if only I was Superwoman...if only life didn't get in the way of LIFE.  Maybe someday I'll figure some of this out, but in the meantime I guess I can't stop trying...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

This weekend was a bit of a mixed bag.  With it being an activity-filled 3-1/2 day weekend, my hopes were high for a lot of fun and some good photo ops.  In the end it had some highs and some lows and a lot of in-between, too.  Suffice it to say that I came out of it tired, and as usual, I find myself longing for more time, more energy, and a shorter to-do list.

Friday I took a half day from work so I could get a couple things done and we could get on the road to Toronto at a reasonable time.  Craig and I ended up having a last-minute lunch date before I ran off to BJ's to renew my membership and pick up some much-needed diapers.  I came home and did a 3.5 mile run in preparation for today's Corporate Challenge.  The weather was cool and pretty perfect, but I was a lot slower than I'd hoped.  I don't know if it was my less-than-ideal pre-run lunch or what, but I was hoping for a better result tonight.

Anyway, I came home and finished packing, Craig got the kids, and we headed out a bit later than we'd hoped, but within an acceptable timeframe for getting into town outside of rush hour and before it got too late.  Of course, at one point Jacob said he wasn't feeling well, then he had a fit about dinner, and after three hours in the car with two crazy kids, things had been eventful enough! 

That first night was a little strange, as we were going to be staying in separate places.  Craig and Jacob were staying at the team hotel downtown, and Carter and I were staying 20 minutes outside of downtown in a hotel room I booked.  We stopped there first to drop off our stuff (as doing that alone with a two-year-old seemed unadvisable), then continued on to drop off Craig and Jacob.  It was a lot of driving, but luckily the traffic was fine and Carter fell asleep on the way back, meaning that bedtime was easy and I had blissful hour or so to unwind after we got back.

Life with one kid (and particularly the one without dietary restrictions) seems so easy now.  Carter woke up on his own, we got ready, and we headed to the free hotel breakfast.  He happily ate his waffle and sausages, and we headed out for our morning activity, a trip to IKEA!  It was only about 10 minutes away from the hotel.  I hadn't been there in far too long and had a handful of items on my list, including a new reading lamp to go in our living room in a dark corner next to our La-Z-Boy.

We had a nice time wandering through the store, and I let Carter down from the cart when we hit the kids' area so he could play with a couple of the toys they had out.  Even though there were fun tents and tunnels and chairs to play with, he only wanted to play with the one thing we have at home--the rocking moose. 

And he did NOT want to get up when another little girl wanted a turn.  Sigh.  Once we got back to shopping, we wandered through the store trying to finish off my list.  And eventually we did, lamp included.  We paid and put away our purchases, then came back into the restaurant for lunch, so Carter could enjoy his first meal of Swedish meatballs!  Also notable about the lunch is that I couldn't find a high chair so he had to sit in a booster seat for the first time.  He did great! 

He enjoyed the meatballs but actually didn't eat a whole lot.  Eventually I just gave up waiting so we could get back to the hotel and he could sneak in a nap before we had to get ready to go to the game. 

Of course, before we left Carter decided to run a lap around the dining room, with absolutely zero concern for where I might be.  He did get himself a little confused and went looking for me, at which point I had to go track him down.  The problem is that I give him the benefit of the doubt that he'll only go as far as he's comfortable, but no...he just keeps going regardless of whether I can see him or he can see me.  I don't want to chase after him like a crazy woman immediately, because then it's a game, but then he goes farther than I'm comfortable and I look like a crappy mom because I'm having to chase him down from so far away.  The running and chasing was an unfortunate theme of the weekend, despite my appeals to him to stay with me and hold my hand.  Ugh.

He fell asleep on the way back to the hotel, so luckily I had another easy transition into the hotel room and a little more down time before we had to leave.  In the end he only got about an hour and a half nap, because we had to leave extra early to pick up a gluten-free pizza for Jacob's dinner and then battle traffic to get downtown.  Of course, traffic was even worse than I had imagined, bad enough that the GPS tried to take me around it.  We only ended up getting downtown 20 minutes later than originally planned, but the bigger problem was that the street to the lot where we were supposed to meet the boys was blocked off when we got there (a movie shoot, apparently, if you can believe that), and without cell service in Canada or any available WiFi, I wasn't sure how I was going to get in touch with Craig.  I was stuck in nasty traffic again at that point, and parked the only place I could really get to quickly--an underground ramp on the other side of the arena.  We walked back over to where we were supposed to meet them, and I couldn't find them.  I ended up telling my sob story to the security guy working at the media gate, and he managed to track down the long-distance calling code for the phone so I could call Craig and tell him where I was.  Fortunately, that worked and we were back in business. 

After all that we still had to wait for gates to open so Carter and I could grab some dinner, so we killed time in the concourse between the arena and the train station.  I tried to take his picture with the arena entrance in the background, and this is what you see:

...and this is what was going on beyond the frame....

Ever since I stopped putting Carter in onesies (once the weather got nicer and he outgrew the last of them), he has been obsessed with his belly.  He lifts up his shirt all the time, often mindlessly, and it cracks me up.  It's like, "Hey, look at this cool thing I have!"

Oh, and in case you were wondering, all this time Jacob was doing his ball boy duties again.  When we finally got into the arena, we got to see him in action...

Yeah, the other ball boys are bigger, but he holds his own out there!

And here's our view from our seats.  Jacob is around that blue circle at mid-field.
After Jacob was done being a ball boy, we headed up to the press box to get him to come down and sit with us.   However, he ended up staying with Craig, for a few reasons, and we now have proof he CAN be quiet for extended periods of time!

The game ended up being a pretty unfortunate affair.  The Knighthawks just had to win to advance to the finals, but if they lost, then they just had to win a 10-minute mini-game to advance.  Well, they lost their best offensive player to an injury during their last game, and it seemed like they just couldn't get past that this week.  They were barely competitive in the first half, made a game of it in the second half, but just couldn't complete the comeback.  The mini-game was a debacle, with Toronto ending up with more goals than we had shots.  It was a pretty sad way to end a three-year championship run, but the good news is that we probably wouldn't have beat the team we'd have ended up playing, and we get a bonus extra few weeks with Craig that we wouldn't have had otherwise.  Still, it was a bummer.  And it didn't help that Carter was an absolute handful for most of the game.  He didn't want to sit and he did his runaway act in the concourse whenever he could.  It was exhausting.

We all headed back to the hotel after a long night, and the kids were in rare, overtired form.  They were crazy in the car, crazy in the hotel room, and crazy once they were in bed.  In fact, I strongly suggested to Craig that he leave the room to finish his work for the night so we could turn off the lights and get the kids to finally settle.  It took a while, but they did.  Still, I was discouraged by the craziness and the morning wasn't much better.  So, despite my best intentions to make the most of the trip and do something fun up there, we ended up just heading home after breakfast. 

We stopped for lunch in Buffalo and got home in the early afternoon.  We unpacked, Carter napped, and I made a quick pudding pie to take to my aunt's house for a Memorial Day picnic.  We had a nice time with my family, enjoying the pleasant weather and eating a tasty dinner.  I snapped a couple pics of her pretty flowers...

...and Carter was fascinated by the wildlife.  They had newborn baby bunnies in their garden (so tiny, hardly any fur, little ears!) and there was a pair of ducks that were having issues.  The female kept getting chased by the male, all over their yard and the swamp behind the house.  It was actually pretty funny to watch, and Carter got some good up-close views of the female!

The boys played a lot of lacrosse while we were there.  Carter is definitely still honing his skills, but he's getting there...

Jacob can actually have supportive big brother moments when it has to do with sports.  Look at him here playing goalie!  Just check out that smile!

And here is what happened when Carter scored "a goal"...notice the raised stick in celebration!

I knew I wanted to be productive on Monday.  I feel like in the past when I didn't get things done on Memorial Day, it set me back for the rest of the summer.  I suppose that mostly pertains to outside stuff, since that's the hardest to do with kids around.  I'm sure last year wasn't helped by Craig's extended season, either.  But I was determined to get some things done.  So, I took Carter out with me in the morning to go to Lowe's.  I wanted to get more mulch for our front flower bed and get everything I needed to plant our garden, but in the end we struck out there.  They didn't have any of the plants I wanted, and none of the mulch in the color I needed.  We headed off to Walmart and managed to get the garden stuff, at least.

By the time we got back it was lunch time and naptime.  I ran out to Kohl's to take advantage of a couple deals (I finally found a sweater for work and I got Jacob a shirt for his birthday), and then stopped at Wegmans before heading home and getting a head start on the gardening.  I went back out after dinner to actually plant the garden, and took Carter out with me since he had a bean plant from daycare that he was excited to plant.  Well, once we were out there he only wanted to run around, and of course he wanted to run around the spot where our hose has a leak.  So, not only were his feet wet, but he was stirring up the mosquitos.  Amazingly, I only saw two bites on him.  Me, on the other hand....well, I think between Sunday's picnic and last night, I have somewhere around 40, and 20 of those are on my feet alone.  Still, I got the garden planted and hopefully we'll have beans, pumpkins (from our own seeds!), zucchini, cucumbers, red peppers, and grape tomatoes at some point this summer.  I have about five more major projects to do around our yard in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for those tales.

Anyway, the weekend had some good moments and some not-great moments, but we had a little adventure and a little productivity, so I can't complain too much.  Tonight extended our busyness, with the boys heading off to a lacrosse game and me to the Corporate Challenge.  I finished the 3.5 miles in 34:04, which was actually one of my slowest times (only seven seconds more than last year), but a victory nonetheless because of my crap run last Friday and because it was really hot tonight.  I was afraid I wouldn't break 35 minutes, so being that close to 34 was great.  It's still a bit of a bummer considering all of the training time I had this winter, but it's been a busy couple months since I went back to work, so it is what it is.  Despite the heat I felt pretty good afterward, so maybe that's my progress!  It felt good to take on the challenge again, though, and I even got to say hi to some of my former co-workers afterward.  It felt good to be so happy with where I am now, even though I miss some of them and don't like that their lives are harder in my absence.  But all in all, it was a good night. 

Whew.  What a crazy few days it has been!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Feels Like Summer...

The calendar still says mid-May, but by all accounts things are feeling quite summery around here.  Memorial Day is right around the corner, so I guess the unofficial start of summer really is just about here.  Perhaps I'm still somewhat traumatized by how bad February was and how long it took for the cold to really be done once spring hit, because I keep thinking it's going to get cold again.  I have been working on stripping the heaviest clothing out of our closets for the summer and bringing in the warm weather stuff, but I keep leaving a decent supply of long sleeves just in case we get a week-long cold snap.  Again.  But realistically, I think we're in the clear, save for a cool-ish day in the 50s here and there.  We've got a couple days this week, in fact, where the high is 60, but today it's 80 and it's clear that good weather most likely won't be far away and the ample supply of long-sleeves isn't really necessary to keep handy.

This weekend felt a lot like summer, with or without the good weather.  Well, first, let me get back to last week a bit.  I just didn't get around to posting much.  So, a couple of the highlights:
  • Jacob finally got a long-overdue haircut and I was thrilled to have convinced him to go short.  While the mop of hair he'd grown was pretty impressive and his cowlick laid flat most of the time, the rest of it was a little harder to control and I told him that until he bothers to take care of it himself, it's gotta stay short.  He didn't love the short hair but did like it better when we spiked up the front.
  • I participated in the local United Way Day of Caring on Thursday through work.  We went to a cemetery and raked leaves and cleared brush from the one side of the property.  We raked for more than three hours straight, which was a little exhausting but fun.  Fortunately, our group and two others managed to be so efficient that we finished before lunch and I got a half day off in the end.  I used it to get an overdue oil change.  I took a run while my car was being worked on (got in 3.5 miles ahead of the Corporate Challenge next week), and then came home and did yard work since the weather was perfect.  I was sore on Friday, not surprisingly.
Saturday morning we were up bright and early for Jacob's first baseball game.  It was a slightly dreary, humid morning, but we only got dripped on a couple times so it wasn't too bad.  The team has some young kids that definitely need more experience, but it was nice to see some of the older kids do well.  Jacob got four hits and looked pretty good in the field, too...
Up at bat!

Leading off at first base

Running to first after another hit!

Watching the game from the bench.  His hair makes him look so grown up!
Carter is a giant handful right now.  He has absolutely no fear.  He will walk away from me without a second thought, no matter where we are.  He'll weave through people in the arena concourse.  He will ride his bike halfway down the block.  And at baseball, he keeps trying to run on the field. The fact that Craig is usually out playing first base coach doesn't help, but he's so fast and impulsive and I'm petrified he'll get hit with a ball.  I had to drag him off the field twice during the game and he was so bad at practice when we stopped by on Tuesday that I had to take him home!  It's exhausting.  At one point when there was some chaos going on just off the field (two kids crying for different reasons) and I looked away for 30 seconds, he worked his way around to the other dugout!  UGH.  At one point he became rather engrossed in watching Jacob's teammate's 10-month-old brother, so that was a nice break.
He said he didn't want to join him, but he was intensely watching!
My parents came in on Saturday just after lunch to spend the day and go with us to the Knighthawks second-round playoff game.  Jacob kept my mom quite busy over the course of the afternoon while Carter slept, wanting to play sports and ride his bike outside.  We got Carter up after almost three hours and headed downtown, where we dropped Jacob at the arena to do ball boy duty again.  The rest of us headed to College Town on the edge of the U of R campus to wander a bit and find somewhere to eat.  We settled on a burger joint (yum!) and Carter discovered the joy of chocolate milk.  I could barely pry it out of his hands!

I reclaimed Jacob before the game and we had a good time watching a close game.  Well, Jacob was sort of cheering for Toronto and was disappointed that the Knighthawks won.  Seems crazy, but he has liked Toronto for a while and feels that the Knighthawks need to give other teams a chance to win the championship!  The final game of the series is this coming weekend in Toronto, so it should be interesting to see if they can advance to another championship! 

I ran into a former co-worker at the game and got a little more insight into life at my old employer in my absence.  I must say, I'm not hearing a heck of a lot of good things right now from anyone, which makes me even more relieved to be where I am.  I actually told him that they really did me a huge favor!  I miss a lot of the people and certainly don't wish them any ill will, but even I'm surprised how quickly I've been able to confirm that this was such a great turn of events for me.  The more I hear, the less I miss it, that's for sure! 

Sunday we were up for church and then home for lunch and Carter's nap before heading out to the Lilac Festival.  Our Mother's Day weekend is always too busy to hit up the first weekend, and usually weather washes out the rest of the festival.  Well, this year the second weekend weather was looking fantastic, and I really wanted to go.  I probably should have gone alone and wandered at my leisure, but I sort of wanted it to be a family off we went.

We wandered through the craft show and came across this cannon...

We got to see the reservoir, which none of us had ever seen...

We wandered through some beautiful rhododendrons and stopped to try to take a picture of the boys.  We were overdue on one of them together, but more urgently, my mom had asked for one of them to put on a shopping bag (the other picture is of my brother's kids).  The outtakes were pretty classic, but this one's a keeper...

Here's one of the pretty!

We wandered further and came across the pansy bed...

...and then continued on our search through the rest of the festival to find the Icee stand.  Jacob wanted a slushie and that seemed like a safe bet.  It's very challenging to wander through a festival like that, past food trucks and countless booths of delicious food, and know that almost none of it is safe for him.  It would have been so easy in the old days to pick out food for all of us and eat dinner there.  But instead we made do with our Icees and pushed off dinner a little longer.  Carter is a big fan...

Before leaving we walked through the Veterans Memorial section of the park.  It's primarily focused on Vietnam, but there are other monuments throughout paying tribute to other veterans.  It's very moving.  It's hard to see with the picture at this size, but along a winding path are 280 markers, one for each Rochester area soldier lost.  You can see them lining the path if you look closely.  They're in order of date of death and included the soldier's name, birth and death dates, town/high school, and the shield for their branch of the military.   

We eventually made it back to our car and headed off to dinner at a new restaurant.  It's called Pi Craft, and they cook their pizzas in a special stone oven.  There was a location in Buffalo that I heard good things about, and I was excited to hear one was opening here.   I knew they had gluten-free dough, but I wasn't sure how they'd handle cross-contamination, so we ventured there to find out.  We were comfortable with what we saw, so we went for it...but due to a slight diaper malfunction, we got it to go.  The pizza was good, but we were cautious about how Jacob might be feeling afterward.  Everything seemed good until this morning when he complained that his stomach hurt.  I was very skeptical, but in the end we relented and let him stay home.  He was not allowed to do anything except lay on the couch.  He seemed much better by the time I got home, but then got cranky again when he felt like I gave him too much dinner (but he wanted ice cream after, so...).  Parenting a kid with Celiac disease is a challenge because you just never know what's up.  I think he lets his mind get the best of him sometimes.  We went on the safe side today, but you never know about next time.  The question is, do we let him eat the leftovers?

I'll finish this off with a cute, random shot I took of Carter last night.  This is how he spends a lot of his time...a boy and his cars.  He's so cute with them.  Such a goofy kid!

Another busy week ahead before the long weekend...though lacrosse got postponed so my dreaded single mom crazy night won't be happening, thank goodness!  But there's just a lot on the schedule and it's a lot to juggle in my brain!  At least it keeps things interesting! 

And there is no doubt...summer is on its way!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Status Report

I've been back to work for over a month now.  This is my sixth week, in fact.  Now that I've settled into a bit more of a groove and some of the newness has worn off, I think I've got some clearer perspective on how things are going.  At this point, I can say, "So far, so good."

The work is coming along slowly but surely.  I'm still in learning mode in a lot of ways, so if I'm not watching someone to learn something, odds are I don't have a lot to do.  However, I have done a couple practice runs on the big part of my job, I got good reviews on an appeal letter that I wrote, and I'm working on a couple other projects in the meantime.  I wish I was a little busier, but I know this is a process and at least they're happy with me at this point.  In the long run I really do think I will enjoy the job, so that is a nice feeling in the midst of moments of boredom. 

So many parts of this transition back into working life have been better than expected.  One thing that has helped that is that this job has better flexibility than my old job.  Don't get me wrong, my old boss gave me a lot of freedom and was very accommodating with time off and things like that.  However, this job doesn't track time the same way so I feel a lot less tense about my time.  I don't freak out if I'm five minutes late.  I don't have to worry about making up an extra half hour each week so I can have an hour lunch out with friends.  I have an hour every day for lunch, in fact.  I didn't have to make up the hour from when I left early on Friday.  I'm not going to take advantage of that, clearly, but it's just nice to not be all crazy about my time.  I also like that's it's easier to switch back and forth between projects because I don't have to track my time in 15-minute increments.  Oh, and because I have an hour for lunch, I'm okay taking my lunch at noon instead of 1pm like I used to (I used to feel like my afternoon was so long otherwise).  And, strange enough, I've found that it usually makes the day go quicker.  It's easy to get to lunch and I'm not obsessing over being hungry for so long, and I can usually get lost in a project or break up the afternoon with a snack.  Who knew?

One of my challenges right now is feeling out the office a bit more.  With summer approaching I want to start thinking about vacation.  However, June is the end of our fiscal year and I know things can get pretty hectic after that with planning.  But with a kid in school and a husband whose convenient vacation time is limited, I'm not sure how the two schedules are going to mesh.  Part of me wants to get time off in before I do take on consistent work, but I don't want to look like a slacker or accidentally ask to take time off at a terrible time.  So, just feeling that out is challenging right now.  My other big challenge is that my house is back to the disaster it used to be.  I enjoyed the order while I was off, but that is officially gone.  Everything needs vacuuming and dusting, the piles of papers are getting larger, and there are so many tasks I ignore in the evenings because I just...can't.  I hoped my enjoyment of the order would encourage me to make the effort to keep it up, but now not only don't I have the energy, but I'm also acutely aware of how things once were.  Boo.  The overarching problem here is that I'm playing catch-up in the evenings and I stay up much later than I should so I'm not as well rested as I should be.  I have even less energy in the evenings and things just get worse.  It's a vicious circle.

Still, it's so nice to have a larger sense of purpose again.  Being a mom and a housewife was truly awesome and fulfilling in its own way.  I am so grateful for the three months I had off.  It was an amazing blessing I never expected.  But it's been nice to have a new place to go, to have a new team to be part of, and to dress up and be pretty every day.  I never realized how dressing in jeans every day (as much as I love them and always felt fine) takes away a little bit of femininity and grown-up-ness that I didn't realize I was missing.  It's just nice to work on something new and different and rediscover old talents.  Overall the transition has been a pleasant one.

In the meantime, we're only six weeks away from the end of the school year.  In some respects things get easier.  The kids both go to one place, lunch packing continues for Jacob but gets a little simpler, and I trust the environment at daycare far more than I do at school, at least as far as how he behaves, who's taking care of him, and who he's hanging out with.  But some things get harder.  Keeping him engaged is very difficult without nightly reading assignments and weekly homework.  We have to step it up there, for sure.  The biggest downside, though, is probably the end of his time with this year's teacher.  She has been wonderful.  After last year, where all his teacher did was complain about him, this year his teacher has embraced him and has found a way to engage him despite his tendency to get distracted or focus on his own priorities. 

Sometimes I'm hesitant to hop on the "Teacher Appreciation Week" bandwagon.  I mean, at daycare we do a nice week of food treats for the whole staff and everyone brings in a couple items, and that's fine.  But with school teachers I stress enough at Christmas trying to think of a gift, and some of them make more money than me anyway, so pardon me for not being dead set on giving them yet another gift.  But this year, as I reflected on the relative ease with which we've gone through the year, I decided to buy Jacob's teacher a little gift--a $15 iTunes gift card--and write a little note, as I've heard that teachers appreciate the sentiments as much as anything.  She's a runner so I thought she might enjoy some new music on her playlist.  She loved it and we've had a nice little exchange via email over the last couple days.  She actually said in her one email, "I really enjoy his energy!"  Gosh, I wish I could say that more often.  Admittedly, I've come to appreciate his passion and quirkiness much more in the past few months than I did for a long time, but his "energy" can be a huge challenge.  I can't say enough how much I love that she appreciates it and finds ways to work with it.  I said to her in one of my emails that I'd like to clone her for next year, and she responded that she's already thinking about him for next year, trying to think of a teacher that would be a good fit for him.  I can't even tell you how nice it is to know that someone is in his corner. 

As a whole we're still having trouble getting Jacob to listen, particularly the first time we ask him to do something.  I kid you not, every morning when I ask him to brush his teeth (and yes, I have to ask him, because most of the time he's got a lot of other stuff on his priority list ahead of that!), I get a serious groan and mini-tantrum.  Same thing happens at bedtime, almost without fail.  He just wants to do his own thing, end of story, and doesn't think we should have the right to derail that plan.  Trust me, it's not for lack of trying or lack of exerting our authority over him.  We don't let him "get away" with stuff.  He just doesn't understand that this is an ongoing trend that we always have that right.  He's lost his iPad more days than I can count lately, but I hesitate to send it back with my parents (from whence it came) because the daily threat of losing it is one of the few things that gives him pause.  Sigh.  So many of his behaviors are night-and-day better than they were a year ago, but we still have a daily battle on our hands trying to teach him responsibility and proper priorities.  I know he's at an age where he should be getting some specific chores, but I can't bear right now to have yet another thing to nag him about and argue about, when it seems like 90% of our interactions revolve around things like that already.  And if it's not something I'm prepared to stick with, I'm not going to do it just yet.

As for Carter, he is definitely cute and definitely TWO.  He is constantly hilarious and says the cutest things.  Just his random two or three-word observations of the world are so sweet.  The one day I asked him if he was happy, I think because he either seemed tired or was acting grumpy.  And after continuing the act for a while, he eventually smiled and said, "I happy, mama."  Melt.  Tonight I accidentally poked him in the face/eye with my thumb (and nail--ouch).  He cried and I freaked out a little.  I apologized and hugged him repeatedly, and as I set him on his changing table, he started saying sorry to me!  I think he may have been worried about how sad I was!  And then he was like, "I better, mama."  Such a sweet kid. 

He still loves cars and trucks and buses, and is still obsessed with his brother.  They interact a lot now, though I just wish it wasn't so often with them ratcheting each other up rather than just enjoying each other's company.  Boys will be boys, I guess.  But he's at such a sweet age and he is such a sweet boy.  He loves giving hugs and is so happy to see you.  In the morning when I'm getting him ready, he always says, "Hi mama!", like he's just so happy to have me there!  My favorite thing to hear is, "Hug!" because I know a sweet hug is in my future! 

Of course, he's still two, and his tantrums can be epic.  He wrestles me on the changing table at bedtime every night when we first start to get ready, though once we're into the routine he's usually perfectly lovely.  He absolutely hates coming in from outside.  If he can't have something he wants (which, honestly, isn't that often) he will pitch a bit of a fit.  He's got a mind of his own and is tough to dissuade.  He's definitely in the midst of the terrible twos, but most of the time they're just not that terrible.  He's shockingly easy compared to what I remember with Jacob, but then again, my parenting skin is ridiculously thicker than when Jacob was two.  Carter is just so easygoing compared to Jacob, and I am so thankful every day when we have one sweet interaction after another. 

Finally, Craig is still busy.  He's got anywhere from two to five weeks left of his season.  After that he should have a little time to chill, but he's working with Team Canada for the World Championships in September, so it won't be all fun and games over the next few months.  Still, we're excited for weekends with him home, for sure!  Just amazing to think that eight years ago right now we were celebrating our first professional championship with the Knighthawks in Phoenix.  Time flies, no doubt. 

So, things are good.  They're busy and still getting settled, but we're getting through!  Yay!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day and Stuff

We had a rather busy Mother's Day weekend.  They always are, I suppose.  As I've mentioned previously, we usually defer to the mothers in our lives, as we know they won't be around forever.  That was especially clear this year since it was the first without Craig's Nana, which made the day hard for his mom.  Since I saw my parents on Friday night (more on that in a bit), we just visited with Craig's family yesterday.  We still managed to have a crazy day and I have been super tired today!  Someday my Mother's Day will be restful, right?

The busy weekend started on Friday.  I left work a little early to go to Carter's Mother's Day Ice Cream Social at daycare.  He was very happy to see me!  One other mom in his class came (they had a very small class that particular day) and he kept pointing to his friend's mom and back to me, saying who we were.  He was so cute and he loved his ice cream!  Craig had picked Jacob up from school early because (against his better judgment) he had promised Jacob that he would try to get him to the arena and on the turf before the Knighthawks' game.  Game days are busy enough without that, but that's just the kind of dad Craig is :)  The plan was that Carter and I were going to drive to the arena, pick up Jacob, then meet my parents and their friends for dinner.  They'd spent the day hiking and geocaching on the other side of town, and we were meeting up to eat and go to the game.  Well, after a few minor detours, I finally rounded the corner to the arena and called Craig to figure out where we were meeting, only to have him tell me that Jacob had been recruited to be a ball boy during practice!  Basically, when the teams are out having their pregame shootaround, his job was to try to stop balls from rolling to the other team's end of the floor.  He was super excited, but of course I was trying to figure out how we were going to manage dinner since he can't really eat anything of substance at the arena.  I handed off a couple snacks and Craig assured me that there was fruit and some other things around, so Carter and I headed out to dinner.

We had a very nice dinner with my parents and their friends (eating delicious gluten-filled food--a tasty sub roll for me and chicken fingers for Carter), and then headed off to the game.  Oh, and it was also a gorgeous day outside.  We hit 90 degrees, so it was HOT, but thankfully the humidity hadn't hit yet so it was very tolerable.  The walk into the game was such a joy compared to the frigid ones we do all winter long!  Once in the arena I went to retrieve Jacob, who ended up being pretty tired out.  He wasn't feeling well after nearly three hours on the turf, so I encouraged him to drink water and got him Cracker Jacks on the way back to our seats.  He perked up after a little while, and we were able to enjoy an exciting game.  And, thankfully, the Knighthawks won!  They beat Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs!

The good news about the win is that they're still in the hunt for their fourth straight title!  The bad news, of course, is that the next round is two games long, which means that Craig has two more busy weekends ahead.  This coming weekend is at home, and the following weekend is in Toronto.  We're hoping to make the Toronto game (since it's been a while since we've been there--at least, without a sick kid cutting the trip short), but I still have to figure out how to take half a day of vacation.  As much as I hate losing Craig during these nice weather weekends, I know that the team won't win forever, so this time of year I'm always on board, cheering for a win.

Saturday was another busy day.  Jacob had an early lacrosse game, and thankfully the weather couldn't have been better.  He was a bit lackluster in the game, probably because he was still tired.  I just didn't see the same pep in his step or the same attention he seemed to have the previous week. Still, the team won by a lot and he seemed to have fun.  For the second game in a row, Carter sat nicely in his big boy chair for most of the game and charmed people around us.

We headed home for a quick lunch so Craig and Jacob could leave for baseball practice and Carter could get down for a nap.  I changed some bedding, tried to dig through a pile of newspapers, and took care of a couple other things (but I won't lie, I am terrible at getting stuff done right now), before the guys got home and Carter woke up.  Our plan for the night was to go to the mall to see Jacob's artwork in the school district's art show, and then to take the long drive down to our favorite gluten-free restaurant. 

Before we left, Jacob gave me his Mother's Day present.  Carter's present--a potted flower in a pot he painted and a card made with his fingerprints--came home last week sometime. 

Jacob had been hiding his in his bag since late in the week.  He did a very nice write-up about the things I do for him, and gave me a necklace (ironically with a Shrinky-Dink pendant, after all of the jewelry I did a couple months back). 
It says, "I feel my mom is the best.  First, my mom takes me to Knighthawks games.  Next, my mom makes me food.  Then, she takes me to my lacrosse games.  Last, my mom dose the landre [does the laundry].  I love my mom."

It was all very sweet.

The art show turned out a little odd because when we got to his school's display and we found his name, he insisted it wasn't his piece.  He did a hanging clay vase, and sure enough, the initials on it weren't his.  After a search around the rest of the display, we found his labeled with someone else's name. 

He did a nice job, though, and it was fun to see his work there (not to mention this year's Kindergartners' projects that were the same as ones that Jacob did last year).  We made a couple other stops at the mall for a few things for Jacob, and then headed out. 

Our dinner was well worth the drive, since Jacob must have said a dozen times how good the pizza is.  It's so nice to go to a restaurant that not only has a full gluten-free menu, but is also trustworthy on the contamination front.  And the food is great.  The pizza crust is so much more "normal" than any other place we've ever gotten gluten-free pizza...thicker, not at all burnt, great texture.  We also got their Buffalo chicken panini sandwich, because it is delicious and it comes with fries.  We ate our dinner and watched a storm roll in, then picked out some cookies (because I can't pass up watching Jacob pick his choice of so many different varieties of cookies, all gluten-free!), and headed home.

We had to get up relatively early on Sunday because Craig thought that we were getting together with his family around 11am.  Well, it turns out that he misinterpreted the message, and we got there in time to see our nephew play baseball instead.  It was nice to see him play, though in general we were a little ill-prepared for a couple hours out in the sun and warm, humid weather.  We managed, but I do have a little sunburn to show for it despite the sunscreen.  We had to run a couple errands after the game to prepare for the family meal later, and got caught in a bit of a crazy downpour! 

We had a very nice time with Craig's family.  There was lots of good food, as usual, and ample amounts of Red Cat (my favorite wine!), so I was a happy camper.  The boys and their cousins ended up digging out the sprinkler and water balloons, so they kept cool and had a blast...even though we didn't really have full changes of clothes for them!  Carter was also the beneficiary of more hand-me-downs from his cousins, from a box of shoes that had been unearthed, to some electronic toys for him to grow into, to both a little bike and a scooter that I know he will love!  He already enjoyed riding around on them yesterday even though he doesn't get the mechanics yet and had to be pushed!

We headed home after a long day and quickly got both kids into bed.  We didn't follow too much farther behind, held up mostly by a load of laundry that needed to get into the dryer first!  Overall it was a good day, though there were moments where Jacob was very argumentative and convinced that I'm the worst mom ever.  Sigh.  Why can't we all just get along?

I was pretty tired most of the day today and had a pretty crappy run at the gym that I can only blame on overindulgence yesterday and a lack of gym-going for the last couple weeks.  I need to improve considerably upon that in the next two weeks for the Corporate Challenge!

I'll end this post with a fun picture I took of a tiny flower in our flower bed.  It's actually more of a hot pink color but for some reason my camera had trouble capturing it so I messed with my camera's settings.  The "vivid" setting did this, and I love how the pollen looks fluorescent blue!  I love spring!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Mom Who Couldn't

I've been wanting to write this post for a long time, but for whatever reason I kept putting it off.  I don't know if I was hopeful that someday I would no longer need to write about this topic, or that I just didn't feel like confronting in-depth one of the biggest challenges I face as a mother.  I've mentioned it before in passing, but just to be clear--I cannot taste or smell.

The issue started a little over five years ago.  The thing is, I have terrible allergies and I've spent plenty of time stuffed up and a little less sensitive to tastes or smells as a result.  I don't know the exact time that things changed because, quite frankly, I was used to not always having those senses fully functional.  It still bugs me that I didn't fully notice it at the time it was happening, because I don't know if it was a gradual decline or what.  My big tip off was that we had a minor gas leak in our old house shortly before we moved (because we had a guy come inspect the furnace and something didn't get properly retightened...yeah, great) and I couldn't smell the gas in the middle of the night when Craig could.  And then I started realizing that I couldn't tell the difference between flavors of Skittles.  And eventually it was clear that while I can still taste what is sweet, sour, salty, etc., I can't really tell much beyond that...and smells are pretty much a complete no-go.

I don't know what caused this and I don't know if it's fixable.  There's a chance I caught some sort of virus and that did it, in which case it's probably permanent.  However, once in a while I have a very brief, very limited "essence" of something I'm eating.  While I'd be tempted to think that it's just my brain remembering how things taste, most of the time it happens I'm not thinking about that at all and just have a sudden trigger that reminds me of the more in-depth flavors of whatever I'm eating.  That makes me thing there's still something there and someday I might be able to get it back.  A few years ago I did try taking prednisone for 10 days and using a nose spray to reduce major swelling in my nasal passages, which the ENT said could be preventing the airflow from properly allowing me to smell or taste.  That didn't work, however.  I could try allergy shots and see if that helps my allergies and somehow fixes things.  My next option is chiropractic work.  It's not probable, but it is possible that it could help.  I've read about it and asked a couple chiropractors, and supposedly it's possible.  Sometimes I wonder if one of those times that Baby Jacob whipped his head around and cracked me in the nose could have somehow knocked something out of place.  Or maybe something else is on a random nerve and the reason I randomly, momentarily taste is because something momentarily shifts off of it.  If that doesn't work, the next option is acupuncture.  I've heard amazing things about it, and up until now, it wasn't covered by my insurance.  However, with my new job I get 10 sessions per year with just a regular co-pay, so that is definitely back on my list.  If none of that works, there is a taste and smell clinic in Washington, D.C. that sounds intriguing.  The thing is, as much as I want to fix this, there are two things at play.  First, I need to make the time to do this stuff, be it allergy shots every week, or doctor's appointments, or a trip to D.C.  Second, with each thing I try, if it doesn't work, I have one less option.  The thought of eliminating everything and having no options worries me, because--while I know I'll physically be no worse off than I am now--mentally, it will be devastating to lose that hope.  I know I need to start doing this stuff, but it's very hard and very scary.

There are a lot of challenges as a mom when you can't taste or smell.  There are some good things, too, believe it or not, but they definitely don't outweigh the bad outside of a few very specific moments. 

Anyway, here's the bad side:

1) Home safety - I'm home alone with two kids a lot.  Craig is on the road, and their safety is all on me.  And, of course, I can't smell most of the potential household dangers.  I can't smell smoke.  I can't smell natural gas.  I can't smell if something is burning on the stove or in the oven.  I can't even smell if a skunk is lurking by outside.  Another tough one is when I'm using cleaning products.  I can't tell if the smell is overwhelmingly strong or poses a danger to me or the kids.  My first hint would probably be that I'm a little woozy, though luckily that hasn't happened yet.  But it scares me that I can't protect them from any of those things.  As a result, we've never turned on the gas in our fireplace, because I'm scared that if the pilot ever went out or something malfunctioned, I wouldn't be able to smell it.  Boo.

2) Food problems - I can't smell if food is bad.  So, if I'm there alone, I don't know if something smells spoiled, or even just a little off.  I can't smell the milk or the cold cuts, and I can't tell if the leftovers went bad.  I also can't smell or taste foods to know if I've seasoned them properly or if they're just plain unappetizing.  I have no concept of how bad some of the gluten-free stuff might taste, nor do I know how many times I've forced my kids to eat something that no sane human would consume.  It's very hard.

3) Diaper changes - I can't smell when my kid needs a change.  I have probably offended so many people over the years with stinky diapers out in public, but if I don't catch the child actually pooping and they don't tell me, I have no idea that they stink.  Jacob tends to be my nose for that stuff now.  In fact, the other night at the doctor's office, he mentioned in the waiting room that Carter smelled.  Sure enough, he had pooped...and of course I forgot to grab a spare diaper and wipes on our way out.  I couldn't help but wonder what the doctor thought of me with one kid covered in a rash and looking a bit raggamuffin-ish (haircuts are way overdue) and another kid who stunk....and two kids who were crazy and shouty and obnoxious for most of the visit.  Then we had to go to Wegmans to fill our prescription, so I probably offended a bunch of people there too.  But I have no idea.

4) Health and Hygiene - On a related note, I can't tell if my kids (or I) stink.  I have no idea if I smell post-workout or after a garlic-filled meal.  I can't tell if my kids seem overdue for a bath.  I won't know when Jacob's pre-pubescent scent starts making its appearance.  I don't know if my perfume is too strong or my feet stink, and I might never know if I have some sort of infection or other issue that causes bodily fluids to smell.  It just makes it very hard to be self-aware, for your own sake or on behalf of your kids.

5) Snacking - While one might assume that this is a great weight loss technique--because, of course, if you can't taste it, why eat it?--but that's not the case.  At least, it's not for me.  Since I still have a sense of sweetness and saltiness, I can still crave that.  I also have more of a hankering for textures, too.  For example, I might crave something crunchy.  Or if I'm going to eat ice cream, I'm more likely to pick something with chocolate chips or fruit pieces than to pick something that's all one consistency.  Still, much of the time I don't feel like my body really gets what it's looking for, so inevitably I end up eating something else hoping it will do the trick.

6) Social stuff - This issue makes social interactions very awkward.  I fell odd telling people about my issue, because the combination of shock, horror, and pity on their face is always a little tough to manage.  But not being able to tell people makes things a little weird.  I can't clearly comment on the deliciousness of food I've eaten.  I can't smell something everyone else can, good or bad.  I can't help someone validate if they think they're smelling something, or comment on whether something smells good or bad.  Today someone popped caramel corn popcorn at work, and everyone could smell it and was commenting on how awesome it smelled.  I couldn't really participate.  And the weird thing is, even if people know, I always feel a little weird eating something special, because I worry people will think that they're wasting perfectly delicious food on someone who can't taste it.

7) Enjoyment of life - I won't lie, this situation can get pretty depressing once in a while.  I think I function with it better than one would assume, but it's a bummer to miss out on two of your five senses.  Sometimes I feel like I'm missing out on a whole facet of life because I no longer have smells and tastes to enhance my memories.  I never got to smell new baby smell on Carter.  I don't get to smell spring rain in the air.  I can't smell the flowers or baking cookies.  I could have the fanciest dinner ever and not be able to fully appreciate it.  I miss certain smells and tastes so much!  Something as simple as a red Skittle or something as complex as a fancy dessert...either way I get a little sad when a great culinary experience passes me by.

Of course, not everything in the world smells or tastes great, so there are times when this isn't such a terrible thing.  Like I said, it's not enough to make it worthwhile for more than a few minutes at a time, but once in a while I am thankful, particularly under these circumstances:

1) Illness - One of the worst smells in the world is vomit, followed not too far behind by illness-induced #2 (if you know what I mean).  I can't smell it, which means I can clean it up way easier than someone who can.  It still grosses me out, but at least the smell can't trigger nausea on its own!  Imagine how thankful I was the time Jacob puked in the car!

2) Diapers - Yeah, I can't smell when they need to be changed, but at least I don't have to smell them when I change them, either.  I also can't smell when the diaper pail (or the bag I removed from it) start to stink.  While I prefer to know when things stink, at least I don't have to smell it for extended periods of time.

3) Eating anything - Right now I can eat almost anything.  Meaning, if I go somewhere and someone is serving things I don't like, at least I can just eat it and not worry about it tasting bad.  I can encourage my kids to eat food and not cringe myself if I don't happen to like it.  I can eat the lemon candy and let a kid have the red one.  I'm actually a little worried that I'll discover I don't really like certain foods if I ever fix this!

4) Random smells - I don't have to worry about being bothered by someone's perfume, a passing skunk, or when someone microwaves fish at work.  I don't know if there's stinky chicken bones in the kitchen garbage or if Carter's diaper pail needs emptying.  I haven't had to smell any of the bad stuff in five years! 

5) Personal judgments - One of my closest co-workers smokes.  Fortunately, I can't smell the residual smoke on her.  Because I can't smell it, I'm not all cranky about it...and I might be normally.  As a whole, I can't really make snap judgments on people anymore based on things like how they it smoke or B.O. or whatever.  I guess it's just nice to get to know people for who they are without that element in the back of my mind.

As a regular human being, it's no fun to not be able to taste or smell.  It takes a lot of the joy out of fun circumstances.  But as a mom it complicates things so much because I can't protect or enjoy my kids the way I would like.  I feel like I'm missing out on a while part of their lives because I don't know their smells and I can't point out life's smells to them.  It's hard to teach them some of life's simple joys when I can't enjoy them myself.  I pray that one of the possible solutions does indeed work, and I ask you would keep me in your prayers as well...both that it works and that I actually start trying things soon.  My whole life is waiting for me if I can fix this, and I just need to get there.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


It seems we have officially hit the time of the year where outside is the place to be.  We've had a nice string of warm, dry weather, and all of the flowers and trees are busting out.  This is by far my favorite time of year when it comes to the outdoors.  Yes, I love summer, and yes, we will still probably have some crappy, cool days...but I love all of the color and I love when the nice weather still has that novel newness to it.  I love when the humidity is low and there are still opportunities to wear jeans and flip flops and a hoodie.  I always feel like May is the spring version of the Christmas season.  I always feel so much anticipation for the fun of summer that is to come, and there are just so many pretty things to see!

I've been a little lax (again) about pulling pictures off of my camera, so there's one rather old one here before I get to this weekend.  Here's a picture of Carter from a couple weeks ago, chasing bubbles around the yard.  He got one of those giant bubble wands in his Easter basket, and he gets so excited when I start waving it around to create giant bubbles for him to chase.  One day both he and Jacob got into the act, and it was hilarious.  Of course that day I didn't have my camera handy.  I brought it out a few days later, but it was hard to get a good action shot with the bubbles in my hands!
The bushes on the right are now totally green with baby leaves.  It happened so fast!
Saturday we had a double sports day.  Thank goodness the weather was gorgeous.  Jacob's first lacrosse game was at 9am, and his first baseball practice was at 2:30.  Needless to say, it was a busy day.  I spent the time between trying to pack us up for a trip to Buffalo for our nephew's First Communion on Sunday (because I just couldn't bear to drive both ways in one day), and had the added challenges of Craig being on the road, Carter having a short nap, and having a lot of sports equipment to keep track of. 

Jacob's game went pretty well.  He seemed a lot happier than he usually is with practice, and he almost scored a goal.  The ball went in the net, but I think the play had actually been called before he shot due to an injury on the field.  Bummer.  But he looks so cute in his stuff, doesn't he?
My little #8...still one of the smaller kids, but he did really well keeping his stick up and paying attention.
Baseball practice went pretty well.  Carter got a little antsy by then, after sitting rather nicely during the lacrosse game, so we did have to do some walking around, but we had a nice time seeing some of his old teammates again, and he did well in practice.  I'm actually really looking forward to those games despite the crazy schedule.

We headed out to Buffalo right after practice and got to my parents' in time for dinner.  Afterward Carter hopped in the wagon and we took advantage of the nice day and late sunset by going to the playground around the corner.  Carter decided he didn't want to swing or go on the equipment (no idea why) so we spent most of the time watching Jacob play basketball.
Playing with Grandpa (who now says he's too old for that stuff!)

Taking advantage of the lovely sunset lighting to capture my sweet baby boy's silly expression!

I love that smile so much...and he loved his wagon ride!

He really puts his whole body into it, huh?

Playing with Grandma now!
After a good night's sleep, after church and lunch and an early nap for Carter, we headed out to the party.  We had a very nice time, and Craig met us there on his way back from the Toronto airport a couple hours late.  Despite his hesitance among the playground equipment the previous night, he was all over the little slide connected to an old playhouse in the backyard.  He had a blast!

In the meantime, Jacob and his cousins were playing kick ball.  I got this smile from him when I asked, and you can see how much his front teeth have grown in over the past month.  They're halfway in, and a little crooked.  I'm really hoping they straighten out more as his other teeth come in!

And I love this picture because it's just the pure joy on his face during the kick ball game.  I  can't really get a posed smile like that, so I'll take them when I can get them...

It was a pretty late night and we've had a busy start to our week.  I took Jacob to the doctor last night (and had to wrangle both boys!) because his rash hasn't gotten any better.  The doctor isn't sure what's causing it, but the stronger hydrocortisone she prescribed does seem to be helping.  Tonight we all did some running around, separately.  Craig may be going to Knighthawks practice tomorrow, Jacob has practice on Thursday, and Friday is the Knighthawks' first round playoff game.  Work has been busy as well, and I'm finally starting to feel some of the urgency of being more involved at work and trying to contribute to helping with deadlines and things like that.  It's yet another adjustment to get used to that feeling again!  But all is well...just crazy!