Sunday, July 05, 2009

To "air" is human...

We've been enjoying beautiful summer evenings with minimal bugs and minimal humidity thanks to afternoon rain showers almost daily. So we've celebrated in style by eating dinner outside quite often. Michael grills while the kids play in the yard and I cook veggies or prepare a salad inside, then we all gather around our outside table under the shade of our maple tree and eat and laugh and make lots of messes that I won't have to vacuum because we're outside!

Last night we were enjoying corn on the cob and grilled chicken outside when Isaiah suddenly announced. "Hey guys, my bum just blowed some air." Michael and I were sadly unsurprised by this topic of conversation, as bodily functions are unfortunately common dinnertable discussion in our house.
"So," Michael asked rather rhetorically, "did you toot?"
"No." Isaiah replied, "I just aired."
Oh Isaiah - you practically write my blogs for me!

Melora is especially content during outside dinners. She seems to fully understand the concept that when you are outside, you can throw unwanted food on the ground. Actually, she does that inside too, so it may just be a bad habit. She also seems to love all outside food too, though. She loves grilled chicken and steak, and she loves grilled or fresh veggies. She has recently discovered the joys of corn on the cob, and for only having six teeth, she's become quite adept at eating it as well. She happily signs "more" and "please" until she is so full of good food that she smiles and signs "all done." She babbles to us and to herself constantly, and she's endlessly entertained by blowing spit bubbles and organizing her crumbs into little groups. She also likes to feed the rest of us whatever she's eating, and her favorite person to feed is, of course, Isaiah.

In fact, I think her favorite person to do anything with is Isaiah. Melora usually wakes up first, and when Isaiah finally pokes his disheveled little head around the staircase, she shrieks with delight and gives him the biggest, cheesiest grin she can fit onto her little face. So often in the car, I look back to the middle row to see her gazing at her brother with a sappy, sweet look of love on her face. And Isaiah loves her right back. He shares with her and reads to her, and if I'm ever neglecting my duty to her in any way, he lets me know that she needs milk or food or to be carried. Earlier today, I was trying to get Melora to take her morning nap (which she seems to think she doesn't need anymore.) I had patiently laid with her as she finished a warm, soothing bottle, but I realized that my presence wasn't helping her relax. So I put her in her bed and left the room. She began crying and crying while I did laundry, hoping that she would cry out her excess energy and get the rest she needed. Quite suddenly, her cries quieted, and I thought that she actually had fallen asleep. A minute later, though, Michael realized that Isaiah, unable to stand his sister being sad, had crawled into bed with her and given her a dolly to play with. We couldn't think of a single reason to reprimand his act of loving kindness.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Apples Make You Happy

Sometimes, as a parent, it feels as though I'm doing so much wrong. Earlier today I was watching Andrew, and he woke up from a nap with a fever of nearly 105 degrees. I called his mom and then tried to reduce his fever by giving him some Tylenol and a sponge bath (which he hated, poor baby!) I was so tied up with Andrew and worried about his fever that my own kids were just on their own for a while. During that short amount of time, Isaiah dumped paint on the kitchen floor and Melora flushed a pair of my earrings down the toilet. I didn't even know Melora was able to flush the toilet!

After Andrew's mom had picked him up and I had put my kids down for their naps and mopped the kitchen floor, I sat on the couch and just stared ahead of me. Surely I could have handled that better. Most moms would have handled it better; wouldn't pretty-much anything be better than that? But my kids are safe...and loved...and blessed. So if I don't have that particular pair of earrings (that I hardly wear anyway) and if my kitchen floor is a little more blue than before (under all the footprints and food spills) I guess the trade works out alright.

Other times, I feel that as a parent I must be doing something right. I was reading Isaiah his bedtime stories, and we decided to read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. We had already read the part about how the tree loved a little boy and let him eat her apples and swing on her branches and rest in her shade. Then the boy stayed away for a long time, and when he came back he said he was too big to climb and play...
"I want to buy things and have fun.
I want some money.
Can you give me some money?"
"I'm sorry," said the tree, "but I have no money.
I have only leaves and apples.
Take my apples, Boy, and sell them
in the city. Then you will have money
and you will be happy."
And so the boy climbed up the tree
and gathered her apples
and carried them away...
"Yeah, sweetie?"
"Why did the boy carry away the tree's apples?"
"Well, he wanted to trade them for some money, because he thought money would make him happy."
"Did the money make him happy?"
"No, baby. I don't think so. When you get some money, you just use it to buy stuff and then it's all gone."
"Oh. So money doesn't make you happy."
"That's right, baby."
Isaiah paused and considered,
"But apples do."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Ninja and The Nut

I've recently discovered a few things about Melora that should have been obvious to me a long time ago. First, I discovered that she is really smart. Really. I know that I'm totally biased because I'm her mom, but please trust me. She was "racing" Isaiah up and down the hall yesterday (which is a game Isaiah loves to play because Melora is such a gracious and consistent loser,) when she found an old pacifier lodged in a basket. She apparently thought it would be funny to pop it into her mouth, since she no longer has any interest in sucking on a pacifier whatsoever. So she put it in a laughed at her own joke and continued racing. Then a minute later she abruptly veered off the racecourse and headed into Isaiah's room. She crawled straight around a corner and picked up a clam shell-style sunglasses case she must have remembered was there. Then she worked for about two minutes straight until her little fingers had pried it open, dropped the pacifier inside the case, and went right back to racing Isaiah. Huh.

The second thing I discovered yesterday was the Melora is actually a ninja. A tiny, cute, very powerful ninja. I was changing her diaper when she whipped her leg around and flipped herself onto her tummy in the blink of an eye. And like a shot, she was off and crawling her poopy little butt away, giggling to herself. When I caught her and brought her back to the changing mat, I had to pin her down with my legs while I used one hand to hold her ankles and the other to put a new diaper on. It took 10 minutes to finish the job, and somewhere in there I realized that a 20 pound baby girl should not be a match for me.

The third thing I discovered was actually the logical conclusion of the first two epiphanies. Melora is really smart, and also a ninja. Therefore, Michael and I are in major trouble.

Earlier this week, I let Isaiah have an ice cream cone for eating such a good lunch. Soon after I gave it to him, it became apparent that Melora's diaper was emiting foul odors. So I left him to his ice cream and went to change Melora into something more fresh. After I had put her into a new diaper (a great feat, if you remember that she is a ninja with a funny sense of humor) I went into the bathroom to clean it out, and I let her crawl away. After a few minutes of spraying the diaper into the toilet (with this super-awesome diaper sprayer!!) I heard some repeated banging coming from the kitchen, as though a drawer were being repeatedly opened and slammed shut again.

"Isaiah, what's going on in there?"
"It's okay, Mama. I'm cleaning it up."
Cleaning it up? Cleaning what up? Do I even want to know? My hands are too poopy right now to actually do anything about it. What would I do anyway?
"Um, thanks for cleaning sweetie."

A few minutes later I came in with freshly washed hands to see what the damage was, and I found half an ice cream cone in the middle of the kitchen floor, covered with every single kitchen towel I own. Isaiah was smiling the sweetest smile as he told me that he had shared his ice cream cone with Melora, and then cleaned it up when she dropped it. So I hugged him and thanked him for being such a sweet brother and such a wonderful helper. He beamed.

My favorite new thing Isaiah does now is muse about God. When he went to the bathroom one morning, he declared, "God turned my pee on." And when we were learning about planets, he said, "God made Earth nice so all the robots could live here." More than once he has told me that he did something scary, but it was okay because God was keeping him safe. We have a board game called "Boz's Big World," which is basically Christian Candyland. If you draw an orange card, you are supposed to thank God for something. One time when we were playing, Isaiah seemed to be getting every orange card in the deck. He had already thanked God for his trains and for his sister and parents, for his friends and for Lightening McQueen Fruit Snacks. Then he drew another orange card, and promptly said, "Thank you God for this card," before moving to the next space.

He's suddenly become so grown up, and it's nice to see that he's growing into such a loving brother and sweet boy. He rarely lets me hold his hand anymore, and when I automatically reach out to help him take off his shoes or get down from the car, he cries out, "No! I can do it myself." But he also hugs me for no other reason than I look tired, and he reads me stories while I sit on the floor of his room. He's so proud of himself when we do our school time, and he loves having something to show Daddy at the end of the day, like a maze he completed, or a new state he can identify. I used to mourn the fact that he would not always be my baby, but I never counted on how amazing it would be to see him grow up.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Out of Hibernation

After a few months (or weeks) of cold, I begin to shut down just a little. Just enough to let cobwebs gather in the high ceiling corners, laundry pile up a little higher, and my blog go unattended and desolate. But it's spring again, so I'm ready to be back. I'll try to do some back-logging of photos and I'll slip in a few stories that I've missed being able to tell, but much of what happened between October 19th and now will go sadly undocumented. Sorry!

We had Melora's first birthday party on Saturday, and it was so much fun to have a girl party! There were flower dripping from the windows, flowers hot-glued to her high-chair, flowers decorating her cupcakes, flowers hanging from arches, and pink accessories scattered around the many, many flowers. I love my little boy's parties that I have thrown, but I was so happy to have something to do besides trains.

She will technically be one year old tomorrow, and the year has gone by so quickly I feel like I have whiplash. My little girl has teeth and says "Mama" and "Dada." She eats all big-girl food instead of baby mush. She takes steps all by herself and can climb the entire flight of stairs with me hanging one step behind her ready to catch her but never actually being needed. She has a funny sense of humor and way of communicating that goes beyond words. (This morning Melora woke me up with a big wet lick on my cheek. When I opened my bleary, confused eyes, her little nose was about two centimeters away from mine and she gave me a giant four-tooth grin and laughed at her funny joke. I can't say I disagree, I probably looked hilarious with my puzzled expression and slobbery cheek.)

Isaiah has also grown up so much this year, and I think I must have been in a bit of denial until recently. I was looking back at Melora's birth, and Isaiah was just a baby then, too. He had chubby baby cheeks and fine baby hair. Now his face is thin with a grown-up pointy chin. His hair has grown in thickly (though in an odd-pompadore style; what's up with that?) and he says things like, "Mama, can I watch Thomas just one more time...but five times?" He's extremely proud of being three years old and keeps track of how old the rest of us will be on our birthdays. He loudly announced to a little girl in Costco (and her mom, and the guy at the nearby photo counter) and I will be 26 on my birthday. Thankfully, she shouted right back that her mom is 38, so at least I wasn't alone. I've been unable to keep my mind from straying toward his future. What will Isaiah be when he grows up? It's amazing to me that I have the priviledge of watching my children become whatever God has planned for them. How blessed am I that I am allowed to be a part of their amazing lives. I can't think of anything more daunting, humbling, and exciting than that.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Bogyman and the Chocolate Man

We were watching football this Sunday when Isaiah saw one of the players take off his helmet. He turned excitedly to me and said, "Mommy! It's a chocolate man." Michael and I had quite a time explaining that the man wasn't actually made of chocolate. I'm still not sure he entirely believes us. We've begun to realize that Isaiah is coming into a stage that will involve a lot of creative answers on our part. Not that we plan to lie to him constantly; he just asks questions that we don't know the answers to. Tonight in the car, he thoughtfully asked, "Is God coming soon?" Michael told him he hoped so. Later he asked us who the Bogyman is and we told him a little man made of boogers. We agreed he was a little yucky.

Still, Isaiah's reasoning skills and thoughtfulness are amazing to watch. I was playing with Melora and telling her how adorable she is when Isaiah walked by and I took the opportunity to praise him too. "You're adorable, Isaiah." "No, Mom. I'm not a-dorable. I'm a kid." He's also showing an increased interest in cause and effect, which I learned a little too late after he flushed our friends' bath stopper down their toilet. He later informed me that was a particularly interesting experiment. We actually go to that friend, Andrew's house twice a week and I watch him along with my two kids while his parents work. It's been so nice to have another regular playmate for my kids. Isaiah is really learning to share more and play cooperative games. He has figured out how to bring one toy for himself and another for Andrew (who is 11 months) so they won't steal from each other, and how to take turns with a toy they both want. The one thing Isaiah refuses to share is Melora. When Andrew toddles in Melora's direction, Isaiah will run in front of her with his arms thrown out protectively and shout, "No! That's my brother!"

Melora is constantly busy when she's not asleep. She will do a full sit up if necessary to reach a desirable object, and her giant-bush-baby eyes are constantly searching for fun. She still has the laugh that bursts out of her like a cannon, but if possible, it's even more joyful. First, she starts wiggling her whole body for a second or two, then she gives a big smile that takes up so much of her face her other features are all scrunched. Then she laughs a giant laugh like a shout that's so infectious, I'm still not immune to its power, nor do I ever suspect I will be. Melora rolls and rolls all around the floor to reach shiny or interesting objects, and she already has definite opinions on how we should behave around her. If she is sitting on my lap, but I'm looking at something besides her, she will grasp my face in both her tiny hands and forcefully turn it so I'm looking into her eyes. I'm also forbidden to talk while she's nursing or I will get the stink eye and occasionally a hand covering my mouth.

We went to the Como Zoo two weeks ago and saw the baby oragutan in the habitat. He had giant, sweet eyes, stick-up reddish hair, and a mischevious look on his face. "Oh!" I exclaimed, "He looks just like you, Melora." I heard a small gasp and looked up to see a scandalized mother nearby who apparently couldn't believe I had just compared my daughter to a monkey. Melora, if you read this one day, please understand it was a very cute monkey, and I think you're absolutely beautiful.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Uncle Peter doesn't have any pretty

The car is such a great place to hear what Isaiah is thinking about. He just chatters the whole trip about anything and everything that crosses his mind. The other day our whole family was in the car coming back from Costco when Isaiah started up a conversation.
"Auntie Laura is pretty."
"Yes, dear," I replied, "Auntie Laura is very pretty."
After a pause, Isaiah continued.
"But Uncle Peter doesn't have any pretty."
"Um, well, no. No, I guess you wouldn't call Uncle Peter pretty per se," I stammered, caught entirely off guard, "I mean..."
"But Auntie Laura is cute...sometimes," interrupted Isaiah thoughtfully.
"Well, I think Auntie Laura is cute all the time," replied Michael, repressing his laughter quite a bit more successfully than me.
"Yeah," Isaiah agreed.

Isaiah also tells make-believe stories in the car, sometimes ones that he has memorized from books, and other times ones that are obviously works in progress. Today, Isaiah's story in the car was
The Buzz Lightyears
Starring: The Blue Buzz Lightyear and the Green Buzz Lightyear
The Blue Buzz Lightyear said "no," but then the Green Buzz Lightyear said, "But...I thought it was 'yes.'" But then the Blue Buzz Lightyear said, "no."
The end

Melora has been trying to eat all our food lately. At the state fair in August she grabbed for my turkey leg while she was riding in the sling, and later she was so interested in my frozen fruit whip I had to let her suck on the cup. She actually got a chubby little fistful of caramel from my caramel apple when I wasn't looking at the apple orchard a few weeks ago, and she watches our utensils like a hawk as they go back and forth from our plates to our mouths. Finally we gave in and let her have a first taste of rice cereal. It was a huge hit. She ate up the entire serving and had seconds. She was actually so excited about the spoon full of food coming toward her mouth that she couldn't restrain herself and kept grabbing the handle herself to shove it in more quickly. Finally we had to get a decoy spoon for her to grab so we could get the real spoon with food to her mouth instead of her ear or her neck or wherever else she tended to guide it. She's also tried parsnips and pears, and she's a fan of them all so far.

She already has a cute little sense of humor. She laughs when the wind blows on her; she laughs when you play peek-a-boo. She laughs when she sees Isaiah laughing; she laughs when she's being tickled, and she laughs when she wakes up in the morning or when she finds her toes. Sometimes she even laughs when she's getting her diaper changed. I pray she will keep her joyful sense of humor for the rest of her life, because her laugh is so beautiful it needs to be shared.

At bedtime tonight, Isaiah kissed Melora's head and said, "Goodnight Melora, sweet doll." I guess that ensured sweet dreams for our whole family.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Photo Post a.k.a. Please Forgive me because my Kids are Cute

So this is all I've got for now - please accept my cute baby and toddler apologies for leaving you for six weeks with nary an explanation!!

Back from Maternity Leave

I'm finally back here to write after six weeks off. It's been six incredibly short weeks off that have flown by so quickly it only feels like a week since I've written. Two tops. Our family took a week long screen break, meaning no T.V. and extremely minimal computer time. It was hard, to be honest, but really good. In fact, it was so good for me I realized I needed more time off, so I took it. I decided to take the six weeks of maternity leave from writing that I didn't take after Melora was born because I felt compelled to journal about every wonderful moment. I'm sorry I didn't tell my regular readers (that would be you, Mom) that I was going to take a break and just left without any note of explanation. But if anyone is still reading (that would be you again, Mom!) I have so much to write, as well as a big huge apology/bribe to read again. Photo post!!!

We have had an amazing sprint to the finish line of summer. Although I missed blogging about all our adventures, I’m so glad I took a step back from the computer screen to actually have them.

Shortly after I last posted, we went to Wisconsin Dells with our church small group. We spent three days there splashing around the pools at our resort and smelling like a whole lot of sunscreen. Isaiah was too little to do any of the big waterslides, but we really enjoyed the lazy rivers and the housekeeping service. I may have enjoyed that last part slightly more than Isaiah. I think the trip will be more relaxing if we take it again in a few years, because this past time I was constantly on high drowning alert.

We then took our aforementioned screen break which was so challenging and enjoyable (eventually.) We took walks in the evenings, played for hours upon hours outside, grilled, played games together, and actually got to bed on time. I knew during that time that this was how I should live my life. I read so much more to Isaiah; I played all day with my kids; I spent hours staring into Melora’s beautiful blue eyes and making Isaiah double over laughing; I got lungfulls of fresh, evening air, and I snuggled with my husband as we read together in the evenings.

I wish I could say I didn’t miss the internet or T.V., but I did. I really missed T.V. during the day when I just needed 30 minutes to clean and couldn’t turn the boob tube on to entertain Isaiah. I missed the internet several times a day because I couldn’t sneak upstairs to read momformation or my friends’ many blogs. I missed T.V. in the evenings after Michael got home mainly on Tuesday night when Wipeout was on. How funny is that show? Oddly enough, after the first day or two, Isaiah didn’t miss T.V. at all. He’s smart enough to recognize a good change when it hits him, but I am stuck in my old, addictive habits. I’m glad I didn’t give myself a lifelong internet and T.V. ban, but I’m going to try, really try, to use them less. I’ve realized in the past six weeks how quickly my kids are growing up, and it’s shocking.

We celebrated our 5 year anniversary August 16th with grilled steak and cheesecake at home with our beautiful children. We have gone out to dinner for two the previous four years of marriage, and I was a little sad this anniversary was going to pass without the usual fanfare. But spending the night surrounded by our most cherished blessings was wonderful. We all enjoyed dinner together (Isaiah was a big fan of the cheesecake,) and I didn’t have any nagging worries in the back of my head about our kids left at home.

Then the Olympics hit and we allowed ourselves to watch T.V. again, and I will admit that I came down with quite the Olympic fever. I stayed up late to watch volleyball and gymnastics every night the games were on, and Isaiah even got excited when it was time to watch “Bali-ball.” Now that they are over, though, we are getting back to a somewhat normal sleep schedule unless I can think of a good excuse to mess it all up again.

So, yes, this summer passed in a huge blur, and I haven’t taken the time to write down the hundreds of wonderfully adorable things my kids have done, but a few favorites stand out:

Isaiah's version of "It's raining, it's pouring:"
Aaaaand the man went into his beeeeeeeed, and he didn't want to go potteeeeee in his potty seat in this morning.

Melora is extremely interested in food and has begun grabbing anything in my hand and trying to eat it. So far she has managed to get into her mouth, my cell phone, a vanilla Coke can, frozen lemonade, a toy train, and some cardboard. She likes it all.

Isaiah is becoming a more adoring big brother every day. He knows it’s his duty to protect Melora and keep her happy, so he has perfected his soothing “shhhhhhhhhh” sounds which he starts whenever Melora begins crying. Amazingly enough, she calms down for his “shhhhhhhh” much more readily than she calms down for mine. He also shares his toys with her (which is how the toy train got tasted in the first place) and makes sure she is given anything in sight that is pink. He is convinced that my pink underwear belongs to Melora, and I can’t sort laundry without him taking the pink panties and trying to dress Melora in them.

Melora can now roll over and hold her head up big and high. She has also begun talking, which starts first thing in the morning and only stops when she falls asleep again. She coos, shouts, and giggles all day long to herself and anyone around her. I’m absolutely in love with her laugh, which bursts out of her in a loud blast like she’s been trying to hold it in through an entire somber church service.

Isaiah has begun saying our family prayer before dinner some nights. I managed to record one the other night, which went, “Dear Jesus, thank you for this day, and thank you for this day…and for my corn, and thank you for this finger, and thank you for this Mommy hug, and thank you for these feelings. The End.”