Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Photo Bonanza

For all of you who like the pictures of Isaiah better than anything I have to write on this blog (you know who you are) - this is your lucky day! There were so many pictures that we took in the last week or two that I wanted to include, and I couldn't choose because they are all so cute. Also, Michael put an entire series of photos of Isaiah in a cute green outfit on I highly recommend going there because every single picture is adorable. Plus, there are several older pictures of Isaiah up as well.

This past week, Michael and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary! We were married August 16th, 2003. We had a wonderful dinner at Olive Garden while Grandma and Grandpa Walz and Uncle James took care of Isaiah. We had a great time eating slowly and talking to each other leisurly. We both agreed that it was so It's amazing to think we have been married three entire years. Then again, we've gotten quite a bit accomplished in the past three years. Michael switched from one school to another, graduated, and got a job as a graphic designer; I graduated from the U, we have moved three times and, of course, we had a baby. I'm guessing we have packed ten years of living into our three wonderful years of marriage. Talk about life in the fast lane. (I'm pooped.)

Speaking of pooped, Isaiah sits on the toilet himself now. Michael and I bought an insert-type thing that sits on top of the regular toilet seat to make it small enough for toddlers to sit on. It has handles, which Isaiah holds onto for balance, and it also has a spash guard, which the box advertised as a "deflector shield." We had a good laugh at that. It's so nice to be able to sit him down on the toilet instead of hold him above it. He's heavy and squirmy, and I just knew I was going to drop him in sooner or later if we didn't come up with a better solution. It's also perfect for cute pictures because the "deflector shield" covers up any indecency. What a handy deflector shield.

Isaiah not only sits up on the toilet, he sits up on the floor and in his high-chair. The only time he tips over is when he wants to grab something tantalizing that is off to one side. Then he pitches one way or another with no regard whatsoever for the hard ground or his delicate head. The doctor was quite impressed with his sitting control when we brought him in for his checkup. He had to get another round of shots, which was terrible, but he's all done with immunizations for six months. Everybody hates it when Isaiah gets poked, though. The nurse looks like she's going to cry, I'm about to cry, Isaiah is crying, and poor Michael is left trying to hold everyone together. I'm very thankful he didn't have to go to work that day, because Isaiah and I both need a lot of moral support. We have recovered now, thankfully, although Isaiah did have a low-grade fever the day after shots. He took a four-and-a-half hour nap that day snuggled on my lap. It was incredibly sweet, but I really had to go to the bathroom by the time he woke up.

According to the growth charts, Isaiah is in the 50th percentile for height and 55th for weight. That's absolutely amazing to me because he looks huge. Even the doctor said he didn't look like a 50% baby. Other people who have had children look at Isaiah and guess that he's 9 or 10 months old, and they always laugh when I say he's only six and say "what a healthy baby." It's a very nice comment for them to make, but I wouldn't mind even if they just said "what a fat little guy." I know it, and I like it.

Michael and I have started trying baby signs with Isaiah. The basic principle is that babies are able to use sign language to communicate long before they have the coordination to speak vocally, so parents simply introduce a few signs that babies can use until they are able to form words. Some researchers say that babies who learn to use signs actually develop larger vocabularies in the long run because the neurons associated with language development are connected earlier. Whether Isaiah will actually have a larger vocabulary or not, Michael and I are just excited by the prospect that we could know what he wants more easily. We've introduced the signs, 'mommy,' 'daddy,' 'milk,' 'sleep,' 'potty,' 'juice,' book,' 'bath,' 'more,' 'all done,' please,' and 'thank you' so far, Isaiah hasn't really noticed that we are signing as we talk to him, and we don't really expect anything to come of it for another three to six months, but it's still fun.

Actually, Isaiah has decided that his new way to communicate is through humming. Michael and I can't figure out exactly what the appeal of humming is, but Isaiah loves to do it. He will sort of bite down on his lower lip and smile as he hums a single note (sometimes a variation of two) for several minutes. I have a theory that he might be imitating me saying "mmm" as I feed him. I don't know why I do it, it's not like saying "mmm" or "yum" will make him more interested in the food, but I feel like I'm being proactive about it. He's actually eating more and more these days, and he's willing to try so many different foods. He has decided that he loves plums now, and if it takes me more than half a second between bites to get more onto the little spoon and into his mouth, I get impatient hums of protest. He's also keen on pears, avocado and green beens, and he's beginning to accept peas. This morning I decided to feed him some homemade applesauce along with his cereal, and he was pretty apathetic toward the mixture. So, I decided what the heck - I would spice it up a little, and I added just a pinch of cinnamon. He made the most delighted hums for the rest of the meal. My little gourmet.

I continually find it difficult to explain how much I love Isaiah, or how it feels to be a mother. I know that countless other mothers have felt the same way, and I probably don't need to go to such pains to try to describe it, because other parents reading this already know. Still, though, I have a great desire to put my feelings into words, to make them clear and to remember them vividly. I just wanted to end with this excerpt from an article Peter sent me on large families. The author (a mother for six) describes the way I feel so well.

(W)hy do we have children at all? So much is against the whole enterprise. Children cost too much money. They cost too much of ourselves. Children undo us. They show us how much and how little we're made of. They come, it often seems, only to break our hearts. And we let them. We invite it all. We admit perfect strangers through our doors and decide before we even know who they are to love them wildly, without condition, for as long as we live.

How do we account for this behavior? In the end, it is possible that our desire for children is a longing not to benefit ourselves, but to sacrifice ourselves; not to replicate ourselves, but to escape ourselves. For me, this longing hit at 28, while I was tunneling into the heart of the Congo on the back of an expedition truck. Suddenly, I was unutterably weary with my own small life and my endless requirements for fulfillment. I wanted the freedom to give my life away. I wanted an intimate, lifelong, indissoluble relationship with others, the kind of life that simultaneously sucks you dry and sustains you. I guessed that it would take nothing less than an infant to pry open my death-grip on self-determination. I did not know when we started our family a few years later that each birth would deliver into my arms an immeasurable weight of vulnerability and terror, but I guessed that parenting would bring a profligate, extravagant, others-centered life. As it has. But there has been a kind of death involved, make no mistake. "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed," Jesus taught. "But if it dies, it produces many seeds." My ambitious dying life is far from over.

Monday, August 14, 2006

First Crush

If anyone reading this now currently has a crush on someone, you will probably understand the feelings I'm describing. Otherwise, you might just have to think back to when you were completely infatuated with someone. I remember getting rather giddy and giggly when my crush was around, and I remember always hoping that he would notice me, or smile at me, or come over and talk to me. I remember not wanting him to leave and go home, and I definately remember acting silly. Now, much to my delight, I am Isaiah's very first crush. (Actually, I think I share the title of honor with Michael.) He grins whenever I enter the room, and actually screams with delight when I hold him. He wimpers when I set him down, and he full out cries if I leave him, even if only for a moment. If he wakes up in the morning, and I'm not there, he's heartbroken. But when he wakes up in the morning and sees my face or Michael's, he breaks out his most heart-melting, purely joyful, achingly beautiful smile for me to start my day with. And I absolutely love my baby's crush on me. I love it even if it means I have to distract him with 80 toys and PBS in order to get a quick bathroom break, and I love it even though I know it will go away. I know that someday, Isaiah will have a girlfriend (with his eyes, I don't think I'll be able to keep them away with a pointy stick), and one day a wife for him to be completely infatuated with. I know that my glamour will fade fairly soon in his eyes, and that of all the girls he notices, I probably won't even register on his radar as being a female. That's alright, though, because for now, Isaiah only has eyes for Michael and I, and I can always cherish the fact that I was his first crush.

This week included many more adventures in food. I started using the food grinder that some friends had given us, and I got to make baby-food plums, green beans, and pears with it. I was really excited to give Isaiah the plums, which was the first thing I tried with the food grinder. I had five plums in the fridge that I had let get extra ripe so they would be very sweet. Then I boiled them and peeled them and ground them up for my own sweet little plum. He hated them. He made the most hilarious sour faces you've ever seen. He would squeeze his little eyes shut and pucker his lips and shake his head a little. Then he would swallow, think for a minute, and open his mouth for the next bite. Eventually, though, I added some apple juice to sweeten them up a little, and he stopped making the sour faces. Then, a few days later I decided to go for the first green vegetable. Rod and Lesley (aka Grandma and Grandpa Walz) had given us some delicious garden green beans, which I just knew Isaiah would love. So I cleaned them extra thoroughly, boiled them until they were tender and perfect, ground them up, and measured them into tablespoon portions. Isaiah really hated them. He kept making gagging faces and spitting out the bites I gave him, and after the second spoonful, he refused to open his mouth anymore. I didn't know if I could try to season them with anything to make them better tasting for him. So, we'll just try again in a few days and see if he's changed his mind.

We also fed him some canned pears. Although I would love to feed him fresh fruit all the time, I thought he might like canned pear slices because he always wants to hold his own food, and he could gum these quite easily. So, I ground some up to feed him with a spoon, and I also gave him his own slice. We have a winner! Isaiah loves pears - hooray! He grunted at me if I took too long putting the next bite into his mouth, and he would open his mouth as wide as possible like a little baby bird. Maybe I should season green beans with pears. Hmmm.

Isaiah is working very, very hard on crawling. He can get up onto his hands a knees now and try to wiggle himself forward. Earlier today, he wanted to get to Uncle James' blue hair gel, so he huffed and puffed and worked and grunted to get up onto all fours, then he actually moved...backwards. Poor little guy. His face was pure heartbreak as he saw his object of desire get further and further away. But he was determined, and he kept working and trying until eventually I couldn't stand it and brought the bottle of hair gel over to him. Success! (Sort of) I really think he's going to get the hang of it soon, though. He's really working hard. He has prettymuch figured out how to sit by himself. Every once in a while, though, he starts slowly tipping over to one side, and he doesn't really try to stop himself. He just goes. I always catch him so that his head doesn't get bonked on the floor, which is probably why he doesn't mind falling.

He also seems to enjoy biting. More specifically, he enjoys biting me...very hard...when he's supposed to be sweetly nursing. He doesn't have any teeth yet, but it still hurts a lot. I don't know what I'm going to do when he get's his first tooth and gives me a real bite. Actually, that's not true. I know exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to yell ouch, and then I'm going to give Isaiah to Michael for half an hour so I can curl up in a ball and cry. Not looking forward to that. I just don't know how to stop it from coming. Now, when he bites me, I say 'ouch' and then I don't let him nurse for a few minutes to try and show him that biting equals no food. It's not working, though. If anyone out there has any suggestions, I want to hear them. Help me please - I'm scared!

(Pictures will come soon, I can't get them to upload from the camera and my heroic husband is very busy keeping Isaiah happy.)

Friday, August 04, 2006

Splish Splash

I am so thankful for Michael. Michael is such a good daddy to Isaiah, and such a good husband to me. Without him, I just don't know what I would do, and I know that Isaiah wouldn't be getting all that he needs. Lately, Isaiah has been loving up on his daddy an extra amount. When Daddy comes home from work, Isaiah screams for joy. When Daddy leaves for work in the morning, Isaiah cries unless I distract him with a toy or a song. And when Daddy plays with Isaiah, he giggles and laughs so hard his little belly jiggles all over. It's pretty beautiful to watch. Isaiah especially likes the game where Michael woofs and growls like a big dog. He just cracks up everytime Michael makes the noises. We concluded, unfortunately, that if a vicious dog were barking and growling at Isaiah, he would only giggle in return.

Isaiah also loves the game where Michael picks him up by his legs and lets him dangle upside down. Sometimes Michael will even tickle Isaiah's exposed, upside-down belly with his nose, which sends Isaiah into delighted shrieking laughs. I just can't make him laugh in quite the same way. I try to do the same things Michael does, and all I get are pity giggles. It's not that Isaiah doesn't enjoy my company - I know he's incredibly attached to me, and I love our relationship. I just think he has established that Daddy is the funny one. It's so sweet to see his adoration for his father. When he sees Michael after some time apart, the look in his eyes in unmistakable. "My daddy is my hero." I know, Isaiah - he's my hero too.

Isaiah has recently become worried when someone leaves the room, or even his line of sight. If I put Isaiah down to change his diaper, he'll often wimper a little because he worries that I'm going away. And if I have to walk a few steps out of visibility range - oh no! It's always fine again the moment I return to his side, but it's interesting to me that he gets anxious about this. It's not like I leave him alone that often. I'm almost always in the same room as him, and he even sleeps snuggled next to Michael and I. However, along with this newfound anxiety has come an adorable, endearing trait, though. When he sees me again, he holds out his arms for me to pick him up. Oh - be still my heart; my baby wants me to hold him. Sometimes, when I pick him up again, he wraps his chubby baby arms around my neck and squeezes me in the sweetest hug, and he even slobbers on my cheek in an attempt to kiss me. There is nothing more in the world that I need.

We took Isaiah to a little wading pool down the street from us. We are so lucky to have the great facilities we have near us. There is a beautiful walking path around the lake, and great little playground, and this pool that only goes up to my shins at the deepest point for neighborhood kids to play in. We slathered up Isaiah in lots and lots of sunscreen, put a hat on to cover his head, and stuck him in a sun-shaded floaty device. No tan baby for us! Sadly, Isaiah hated the pool at first. He cried when the water touched his feet and didn't want to get in at all. After a few minutes of gently sprinkling water on him, though, he let us dip his feet, then his legs, then his belly in. After that, he really seemed to enjoy it. His entire goal was to lean down and drink the clorinated water, of course. But with our combined efforts, Michael and I managed to stop him most of the time (or at least part of the time.)

He is continuing to grow at a tremendous rate. He hasn't been able to fit into 3-6 month clothing for a week or so, but I kept in his dresser for a while anyway because I hate putting it into storage. Everytime I have to put away clothes that are too small, I start crying, and I feel really dumb. Finally, though, I sucked it up and started putting them in the 'too small' box. This time, though, I didn't cry at all because I was talking to Isaiah and telling him that we were saving these clothes for his baby brother to wear one day. It was actually a little exciting to think about that. Hopefully Michael is alright having a dozen kids.

We tried another food for Isaiah last night. It turns out Isaiah doesn't like avocado any more than he liked banana. I really thought he would because it's so mild. Nope, more disgusted and confused faces. Oh well, though, we'll just keep trying new foods until we find a good one.

Model Fools

For the thousandth time, someone told me that Isaiah is so cute he should be a baby model. I, of course, agreed wholeheartedly because I honestly do think he is the most adorable baby who has ever lived since the beginning of time. I know that some of my opinion is clouded by the motherly bias, but you can't deny his cuteness. So, I thought about it for a little while, and decided that baby modeling might be a fun way to start saving up for Isaiah's college. Lucky for me, there are several major corporations headquartered in Minneapolis that employ baby models, including Target, Huggies, Lifetouch, and Marshall Fields. Along with those are several modeling agencies. Since I didn't know where to start, I called Target headquarters and got the names of the modeling agencies they use from their advertising department. Then, when I was looking those up in the phone book, I also found one called "" I thought this might be worth checking out as well, so I jotted down their number.

When I called, they immediately put me through a phone interview asking about Isaiah's hair and eye color, if he has any marks or blemishes on his face, and if he is shy or outgoing. Then, since everything sounded good, they asked both Michael and I to bring Isaiah in for an appointment on Saturday. We were pretty excited because we thought this could be a fun opportunity for Isaiah. When we got to the office that Saturday morning, we were seated in the waiting room. Michael asked me if we would have to pay anything for the agency's service, and I told him that to my knowledge, any company that charged an upfront fee wasn't very legitimate because good agencies only take commission.

We got into the office - Tony Guy's office to be precise - and he declared Isaiah an absolute doll. He said that he was almost positive Isaiah could get jobs because he's so cute and in a really good age bracket. Then he explained that child models will make $85 to $100 an hour for print ads, and thousands of dollars for television commercials or appearances on soap operas. (Apparently there is quite a demand for babies on soap operas.) Then he said that would be willing to have his picture taken, send that out to modeling agencies in the Twin Cities, put it on their website, and make all the callbacks for us that are needed. That deal sounded pretty good to us until he mentioned that it would cost $600, plus there would be a commission fee of 15% to and 15% to the modeling agency. There was a stunned silence in the room, but only for a moment, because Tony Guy expertly filled the void with more talk, and asked us about where we were from and how we met and if we wanted more kids. He kept talking as he handed me the contract to read, making sure Michael and I didn't have a moment to talk to each other. Michael, at one point, asked how we could do it ourselves. (After all, we could just have his picture taken ourselves and send it to places, and we already have a website or two for him.) Then Tony Guy talked some more about how that wouldn't really work very well and asked us lots more friendly questions. I told Tony Guy that this wasn't really a good time for us to shell out $600, and so he drafted up a payment plan that split it up over three months. He kept talking about how Isaiah would be covered by this for five years including pictures (which isn't true at all because we would still have to pay the $20 sitting fee.)

Throughout all this, Michael wasn't saying anything and nodding politely, probably too shocked to do anything else. I was also nodding politely, not having any time to think between Tony Guy's friendly banter. I finally asked Michael what he was thinking, because I honestly couldn't tell, and I didn't know what to do. Unfortunately, often when I ask Michael what he's thinking it's because I want him to lean a certain way. This time, he thought I was asking because I wanted to sign the contract. So, he said "I guess we could make it work." Then I figured that he wanted to do it, so I said that I guessed we could make it work too. Then Tony Guy smiled and big smile, and we signed the contract.

As soon as we walked out the door, we looked at each other and realized that we had been smooth-talked into something bad, but luckily there was a clause in the contract that we could cancel within three days with written notice. So we got home, typed up the written notification, sent it off, and cancelled it on our credit card.

We feel pretty silly that we got duped into something so obviously shady. There was nothing about the office or the headshot book or the contract or Tony Guy that made us feel good, and we're still a little confused as to how we signed the dotted line at all. But we did, so silly us. At least we got it all straightened out.