Friday, November 17, 2006

Isaiah Robot

My secret plan that I have had ever since Michael and I started dating is now coming to fruition. I absolutely love cats, and I have always wanted to own a cat as an adult, maybe even two. Michael, however, is allergic to cats and consequently doesn't care for them that much. Despite all of my many schemes and different ways of pleading he has yet to concede and buy a cat for me, so I have been counting on my future children to help out. My secret plan is that they will all love cats as much as I do, and with the group of us begging and giving Michael puppydog-eye looks, he will give in and get a cat. Luckily for me, I didn't even have to train Isaiah to like cats, he inherited my love for them right from the get go. Our friends, the Goldbergs, have two cats Isaiah has interacted with a few times. He is fascinated by their whiskers, their tails, their eyes, everything. Those cats are so patient with him, too. One of them even docilely laid down next to Isaiah while Isaiah pulled on his fur. Then, on Sesame Street, Elmo did a little special on cats. Isaiah grinned the whole time and squealed at the T.V. He waved his arms and kicked his legs, and made me such a happy mom. Look out Michael, you're outnumbered!

A small part of me has wanted that irobot Roomba for quite a while. It's the tiny vacuum cleaner that scoots around on its own and vacuums without you having to lift a finger. Isaiah must have sensed my desire for one of these because he has become my own little Roomba. He crawls around on the carpet and diligently finds every tiny piece of lint or spilled popcorn or dirt and picks them up for me. Unfortunately, he then eats whatever he finds, so I find myself slowly crawling after him much of the day, constantly picking tiny pieces of garbage out of his fingers before he can get them into his mouth. I don't even get much respite if I vacuum more often and have dirt-free carpets, because Isaiah has learned to pick out actual pieces of the carpet and pop them into his mouth when I'm not looking.

Isaiah is now an expert at pulling himself up on furniture and standing. He doesn't even need a piece of furniture every time. He will sometimes just put his hands on the floor and then straighten his legs out until his tiny little bottom is sticking up high in the air. Then he slowly moves his hands closer to his body until he can get to the point where he pulls up with his upper body into a standing position. Then he immediately falls because he had no balance. Still, it's pretty impressive to watch. His favorite thing to use as a standing support is an upside down laundry basket, but he can also easily use a dining room chair I have covered in padding and blankets, or the couch, or even my leg. The cutest thing is that when he stands up, he nods his head up and down like a little rockstar. It's wonderful to see how proud he is of himself. Yesterday, he even stood for a few seconds without support by the powers of his own balance. His downfall was when he decided to wildly wave his arms back and forth just for the fun of it.

I have discovered that Isaiah is now fascinated with little spaces. Most kids are, but I didn't realize it began this early. He loves to be in little caves that I make out of blankets, or under and upside-down laundry basket. His goal for the past few days has been to fit himself under the couch. Unfortunately, he can't even fit his head under the couch, but he keeps trying. He's certain there is a wondrous, magical world under there, so he's not giving up. The other day I made a little blanket cave for him on his bed right before nap time. We read stories under the blankets, and I pretended to not be able to find him until he shouted out to me. It was a blast. It got me excited for future blanket forts in the living room and games of hide-and-go-seek. Sometimes I forget that I don't just have a baby - I have a fun little boy waiting to grow up and share years of play with me.

Michael and I are trying to get Isaiah to go to sleep in new and exciting ways. Mainly, not nursing to sleep. I don't really mind nursing him to sleep 90% of the time. But it would be nice to have another option once in a while. Also, it would be nice for Michael to experience Isaiah falling asleep for him. So, a few evenings when Isaiah was very, very tired, Michael put on the sling and walked around with Isaiah in the dark listening to Baby Einstein Lullaby Classics. The first time he tried it, Isaiah fell asleep in his arms like a little angel, but we haven't had the same success again. I know it takes a lot of work and consistency, but I also know how frustrating and sad it must be for Michael to hold the baby he loves so much and listen to him cry because he just wants to nurse to sleep. I'm so thankful for how involved Michael is with Isaiah, though. Right now I can hear him upstairs singing in a ridiculous falsetto voice to Isaiah, and he's been giving Isaiah baths almost exclusively lately. He's so good at playing with his son and comforting him and feeding him and giving me a good, long break when I've had a rough day. The other night, while he was squirting Isaiah in the bathtub with his rubber ducky, Michael said he couldn't understand why some fathers wouldn't want to be involved in their kids' lives. "I mean, don't get me wrong, you're a lot of work, buddy," he said to Isaiah, "but what else could I spend my time on that's as good as you?"

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Milk please

Isaiah can talk! No really - he can say something in sign language, and I'll give you one guess as to what it is. It's his absolute favorite thing in the world - milk. He signs "milk" so expertly, opening and closing his fist just like milking a cow. I've learned some very important things from Isaiah just through his ability to say this single word. Namely, I've learned that Isaiah thinks about milk more than I had ever imagined. One afternoon Isaiah was napping when I heard him stir on the baby monitor, so I hurried into the room to get there before he woke up completely. Before he even opened his eyes or began to call out to let me know he was awake, his little chubby fist shot up into the air, and he began to sign "milk." He also signs "milk" while he is drinking milk, when he wants to be drinking milk, when he has finished drinking milk, when milk is on his mind, when he is happy which reminds him of drinking milk, and when he thinks milk might be a good conversation starter with a stranger.

I also thought Isaiah had signed "potty" the other night. I was trying and trying to get him to sleep, but he wouldn't submit. Suddenly, he sat right up in bed and started patting his diaper, our sign for "potty." At first, I was bewildered as to what he was doing, but then I realized it was the potty sign and excitedly took him into the bathroom. As soon as he sat down on the toilet seat, he started crying angrily at me (I guess it was pretty cold compared the his warm pajamas) and looked at me as if to say, "Mom - why would you bring me into the cold bathroom and sit me on this cold toilet for no good reason." Apparently, he was just signing "I'm awake, Mommy, and there's no way you can make me go to sleep." I guess I didn't realize that looked remarkably like the sign for "potty."

Isaiah also says a few verbal words, such as "hi" and "dada" even a "mama" once in a while. I like to pretend he knows what he is saying even though it's pretty apparently he doesn't. He often impresses strangers by saying "hi," though. "Hi!" Isaiah will brightly say to ladies at the supermarket. "Well hello," they reply, waving their fingers in response. "Milk!" Isaiah signs back at them. This makes Isaiah look exceptionally smart and me a very impressive looking mom, so I don't tell them he is talking about milk and not waving. I just let them be impressed.

Even though Isaiah usually doesn't say "dada" in Daddy related contexts, he definitely knows why Michael is. When Michael gets home from work and I hear the back door opening. I get Isaiah ready by standing on the couch so we can see Michael the first second he comes into the living room. Then, when he pops his head in the doorway, Isaiah shrieks in delight, waves his arms, and jumps up and down while smiling and laughing. There is no better way to elevate your self esteem than seeing the pure joy from you baby at seeing you.

Speaking of Michael's job, he just accepted a great new job as a full time designer with a company he loves. We went out Friday night to Olive Garden to celebrate the good news. Isaiah was very well behaved and spent much of the evening turning many waitresses into puddles of baby love. He got so much attention in the restaurant, I was very thankful he is too young to let it go to his head. We were seated near a table of ladies who watched him all night, and another couple came over to tell us how adorable he is. I have to say, he did look pretty cute that night. I had packed baby food for him, which he enjoyed, but the waitress also brought a plate of fettuccine without any sauce for him to play with and nibble on. Let me tell you, Isaiah with a piece of fettuccine hanging out of his mouth is a sight worth seeing.

Isaiah has begun pulling himself up to a stand on pieces of furniture. It's so exciting and nerve wracking to watch him use all the strength in his pudgy arms and shaky legs to wobbly stand, knowing that he has a better chance of falling than balancing, and to nervously watch his tender head bob dangerously close to sharp corners of chairs and tables. I hold my breath every time he tries, ready to run up to him in case his smacks his chin on the chair leg or plops too hard onto the hardwood floors. When he actually makes it, though, and stands on his own. He is so proud of himself, and he lights up because he knows he has just accomplished something very neat. He usually wiggles so much in delight that he falls right down again, but it's a good start.

As we sat in Olive Garden, I noticed a few older women who I'm sure were mothers, and possibly even grandmothers looking at Isaiah and at me. The look on their faces was one I have seen so many times since Isaiah was born. Enjoy it. They silently tell me. Enjoy every moment with your baby. So often I have been told that "it just flies by," "they grow up too fast," and "it seems like yesterday." It's easy to let each new admonishment to enjoy the present slip by as a cliche. But I know already that he has grown so quickly, and while I enjoy every new day, I miss yesterday. I want to cut out all of the unnecessary busy work in my life, and all of the buzzing distractions so I can slow down and concentrate on my baby. Everything he does is so amazing, every green speck in his blue eyes is so dazzling, every step he takes away from me is so exciting and heartbreaking, and so I try to enjoy every moment. I know I will one day be one of those older mothers, and hopefully even an older grandmother, telling new moms to enjoy it.

Isaiah woke up with a cold in the middle of the night Friday night/Saturday morning around 4 a.m. At first, I didn't understand why he insisted on nursing at that time of night and why he wouldn't be consoled, and I was rather frustrated at being awakened at such an awful time. As soon as I heard his sniffles and choked breathing, though, I felt terrible for even being frustrated. We walked around the house a while until the mucus was bounced out of his throat, then I nursed him while sitting up in bed so his could sleep in an upright position. That seemed to help a lot. The next day, he was very pleasant even though I know he didn't feel good at all. He's such a good sport when he's sick. He makes me look like a cry baby in comparison. How did such a tough and mellow baby come from me? I'm pretty blessed.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Elmo Slippers

Isaiah has needed a little more mommy time this past week or two. I don't know if it's because of a new tooth coming in or because he is just going through a separation anxiety stage. However, when, in the past I have been able to set him down for a while to play while I clean, he doesn't really like that anymore. He has made it perfectly clear that he wants to be held by me, played with by me, touched and tickled by me, and completely focused on by me. Is this draining? Nope. Truthfully, it's been great. I love spending all day with my sweet little guy and knowing that I can be there when he needs me. This is why I stay home with him - not so I can have clean blinds or an organized shoe closet, but so I can hug him all day long and crawl around with him and let him know that I am there to take care of him and keep him safe. I am so grateful every time he lets me know he needs me, because I need him right back.

Isaiah has begun to really like rice cakes. He also has apparently decided that I would like to eat rice cakes with him. Unfortunately, I don't really care for soggy rice cakes and someone else has slobbered on. But since he offered so sweetly, I thought I should at least feign interest. So, I nibbled on his sticky little fingers and smacked my lips and said "mmm, mmm." He wasn't fooled, though, and continued to try and give me more rice cake. Finally, after he realized I wasn't going to take his rice cake the easy way, he pulled open the top of my shirt and dropped the rice cake inside. Problem solved. Except, of course, for the chunk of soggy rice cake in my shirt.

I read the blog of another mom of a baby whom I have never met. I really enjoy hearing about how her little girl is growing up and the challenges and joys she faces. It struck me yesterday that we have so little in common. She lives down in California, is around ten years older than I, seems to have very different political and religious beliefs, and of course she is a complete stranger. Yet, we both love our children so dearly, and we have both experienced the heightened fragility and deep emotions of motherhood. So, despite our differences, I feel very close to this woman so far away, and in turn I feel a strange closeness to all mothers I see around me. If I see a woman in the grocery store with a baby in her cart, although I know nothing about her, it's a good bet she feels the same ineffable love for her child that I feel for mine. It's also wonderful to remember that my mother (and father) felt this love for me and that Michael's parents felt this love for him.

One last note: Isaiah falls more and more in love with Elmo every day. We bought him Elmo slippers, and he is so happy when he wears them. He pats Elmo's nose, pulls on his fur, taps his big, plastic eyes, and constantly turns around when he's crawling to make sure Elmo is following. Sure enough, Elmo is always right behind Isaiah.