Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cabin Fever

This weekend we went up to a cabin north of St. Cloud with the other families in our church small group. The group consisted of ten adults and six kids, all of whom are five and under. We were pretty excited to spend the weekend away, but we weren't sure how long Isaiah would enjoy our time there. He absolutely loves the other kids and talks about them all the time, but being our one and only right now, he has never had to share toys or attention for an extended period of time. We prepared ourselves for a lovely beginning to the weekend and possible breakdowns by the end. We were totally wrong, though - he couldn't get enough of the weekend with kids. He sledded and ran and jumped and laughed and ate snow to his heart's content. He fell asleep on the way home Sunday after lunch, and when he woke up in his own house, he was so disappointed he cried. I think he thought we were going to live in a cabin with five other kids forever. Sorry buddy.

It really made me feel good to see that he enjoyed being with other kids for such a long time, because I know he will really like having a sibling - eventually, even if it's a tough transition at first. Of course, Isaiah would ideally like me to pop out a five-year-old big brother who can play trains and run around with him, but a seven pound little girl who spits up on herself is pretty close - right?

After Michael got home from work one night, we decided we should play a game together. We were inspired because of the weekend with our small group. The adults played games every night and stayed up way past our bedtimes getting all giddy and tired. It was wonderful. Michael and I love playing games together, but we rarely do it unless we have company because our evening routine is just set. So that evening, while Isaiah finished up his dinner, we played two rounds of Othello, which we probably hadn't played since I was actually in labor with Isaiah. Then, of course, Isaiah wanted to join in the game-play, so we brought down Hungry Hungry Hippos. Let's just say the game was a hit. We played for an hour, and Isaiah loved every bit of it, from putting the marbles onto the board to gobbling them up with the hippos, even putting them back in the bag was fun. Michael and I put the game away and whisked Isaiah up to bed, thinking that surely we must be good parents to have such fun with our little boy on family game night. We didn't realize that we had discovered one of those things that may just be too much fun. Michael had to work for an hour and a half to get Isaiah to stop talking about hippos and go to sleep, and Isaiah woke up four times in the middle of the night, just to chat about hippos. He always settled back down with promises of "more hippos in the morning," but I knew I needed a plan so that we didn't have another hippo-saturated night.

The next day, as soon as Isaiah woke up, I brought him downstairs and began playing Hungry Hungry Hippos with him. After a little while, he told me that he was hungry, but I said that he had to play more hippos before we could eat breakfast, so we played another 5 minutes. Then I fed him and suggested more hippo play. We played again for a while when he said he wanted to get down from his chair. I told him that he could, but only if he played hippos for 5 more minutes. He agreed, but he was eager to get down. Then after he had played with other toys for a half hour or so, I told him it was time for hippos, and we played again. Then when lunchtime came around, I told him he could only have lunch after we played more hippos. By the time he woke up from his nap, he was cured, and he didn't wake up in the night to talk about hippos even once.

Michael had to go to a business dinner one night this week, and in that one night my respect for single moms quadrupled. Isaiah had been having a slightly testy day, but nothing major that I couldn't handle. However, 15 minutes after Michael usually gets home, Isaiah began to take it all to the next level. He began testing boundaries like nobody's business ("Isaiah, that glue stick is a no-touch. Sweetie, Mama said it's a no-touch. Isaiah, put down the glue stick down now. Put it back on the table. Isaiah Samuel...Put. The. Glue. Stick. Down.") He also began running around in circles, throwing his toys around, and erupting into sudden excited screams. It was obvious he knew something was up with his schedule, and he definitely needed fun, energetic Daddy to come and replace tired, cranky Mommy. Unfortunately, Michael wouldn't be back for hours - after Isaiah's bedtime. So, I packed him up in the car and we headed out to eat, just to distract him from the fact that his dad wasn't home.

I chose a KFC buffet because Isaiah loves chicken and corn, and I figured it would be easy. I hadn't really thought of how to handle a wiggly two-year-old while trying to fill two flimsy plates with messy food, balance two drinks over my bulging pregnant tummy, and not drop the diaper bag onto the sticky spot on the floor. I did eventually manage to get some food onto our plates and wrangle Isaiah into a high chair at an empty table. Isaiah, thankfully, ate really well and enjoyed playing with the sporks the buffet provided. I also got to eat a few bites between shoveling food into Isaiah's mouth and trying to keep his little hands off the very dirty, sticky chair next to him. Seriously - this was one sticky KFC. We were well over halfway through our meal when I looked around me and realized that I was the lone female in a restaurant full of college guys and homeless men. I guess I'm not really the target market for all-you-can-eat greasy chicken.

On the drive home, Isaiah asked if we could watch Thomas at least ten times, and I kept answering that I was very sorry, but I just couldn't take Thomas tonight. We got home, and I washed the stickyness off Isaiah and changed him into his p.j.'s. Then we read stories for an hour before I brought him into my bed with me and we both fell asleep, exhausted. Michael got home after ten and came upstairs where we were sleeping. We moved Isaiah into his toddler bed and laid down again. I wrapped my arms around Michael and made him promise that he would never, ever leave me. He said that of course he wouldn't, which I knew perfectly well, but I just wanted to hear it. It took such a short period of extra time being a single parent to wear me out and make me short with Isaiah. I'm so blessed to have a husband who comes home from a long day at work and takes care of me and plays with our son. I just couldn't be the kind of mom I want to be if I had to do it alone.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fuzzy Footie-Pajamas

Hey kids! If you want to do a really cool science experiment, put a disposable diaper into the washing machine and run it to see the diaper explode...If, however, you just want to get the laundry done as quickly as possible with no complications, don't do this. Somehow this morning when I was loading laundry into the washer, a used (just wet, not poopy) diaper snuck in amongst the pile of clothing. I didn't realize it until I was switching the laundry over to the dryer and realized there was a bunch of soft white, rather nasty smelling foam coating the sides of the washer. I then found the diaper underneath my wet, rather nasty smelling shirt. So then I had to clean out the washer, re-do the laundry, and hope there aren't any lasting effects on the machine or on my clothing. Yuck.

On another note, it's cold. And I'm not very stoic about it. Thus far I have refrained from mentioning on my blog that it's really, really cold here, but to make up for it, I inform my husband (who can feel it just fine for himself) 5 to 10 times a day. In fact, I'm about 95% more whiny about it than Isaiah, which isn't saying great things about me since he's 2 and I'm 24. Not only is it sinisterly cold outside, it's pretty darn cold inside too since we live in a very old home (which I do actually love) that sort of just lets the cold seep in all over. We have compensated by purchasing an electric blanket and a space heater so that for much of the day, I can sit under the former and next to the latter with a cup of hot chocolate warming up my hands. Isaiah doesn't really care for the electric blanket, because he doesn't like being under blankets in general, and he's pretty nervous about the space heater, which is fine by me because I don't want him to touch it. For a while I thought I had given birth to a son who really couldn't feel the cold too much or at least wasn't bothered by it, but apparently even Isaiah has reached his limit of cold. For the past three days when I have woken Isaiah up in the morning, he has refused to get out of his fuzzy footie-pajamas. Really, I can't blame him. If I had fuzzy footie-pajamas, you might see me refusing to get out of them too. So, since I have clothing for Isaiah in all sizes up through 1st grade, I've just picked out some clothes that are usually a little big on him and put them over his fuzzy footie-pajamas. The upside of this is that Isaiah is nice and warm, even when we go outside, but the downside is that he has been wearing the same pair of green fuzzy footie-pajamas for three days now, and I'm starting to feel like a pretty gross mom. I guess tonight during his bath, we'll just substitute them for different fuzzy footie-pajamas and hope it's acceptable. I had never realized until now how much he loves his pajamas. At various points throughout the day, he will look under his shirt and happily exclaim "Green jammies!" Ah, simple pleasures.

I brought the camera to our music class again on Thursday as well as some extra prints from last week to share with Ava's parents and the teacher. I got more pictures of Isaiah, and in this batch he's actually smiling in a few. Last time I brought the camera, he was hungry because I hadn't given him a very good snack and grumpy with me for not bringing him enough food. So this week I was filling him up before we got to class with anything he would eat plus some apple juice for good measure. By the time we pulled our van up, he was getting grumpy with me for stuffing him like Hansel and Gretel. It worked, though. I really want to ask Ava's parents this next week if they would want to get together for a play-date since she and Isaiah have such fun together, but I'm actually nervous about it. I normally meet other parents through church or mutual friends, so going up to someone I have relatively little interaction with to suggest a play-date seems weird. I feel like I'm looking for an actual date instead of a play-date. If they say 'no thanks' is it rejection of Michael and me or of Isaiah. It really shouldn't be this big of a deal, right? I guess I'll just have to try and see.

Friday, February 15, 2008

First Crush

This Valentine's Day happened to land on a Thursday, which happens to be the day of the week for Isaiah's Music Together class. So Michael and I spent our evening in the most romantic way you could imagine - dancing around to "Rockin' Robin" with a bunch of other toddlers and their parents. Still, though, there were definitely some romance vibes in the air...Isaiah's, to be more specific. Over the six weeks of this class, Isaiah has harbored a crush on a cute little girl named Ava, and every week his crush becomes less and less subtle. This week her dad brought her in wearing her Valentine's Day dress, and she was like a fluffy pink ball of cuteness. I've got to give Isaiah points for good taste. Isaiah began to follow her around immediately. At one point, when the other children were singing along with their parents, Isaiah and Ava had walked out of the circle (they are both very independent, I guess) and Isaiah was just standing in front of Ava looking at her. Then he took off his own name tag and stuck it onto her dress. She sort of looked at it like she wasn't really sure what to do, but she seems to be pretty good at rolling with the punches, so she walked around with it on for a while. Almost the entire class of parents had caught the act and were suppressing giggles. Like I said, Isaiah isn't the most subtle guy, so they have all known about his crush for weeks. When the song ended, one of the parents remarked that he was pretty sure they were engaged now. Later, during free instrument time, Ava returned the favor by giving Isaiah a lovely pair of finger symbols she had chosen from the instrument basket. After class had ended, Ava's dad said that he hadn't thought he was going to have to deal with Ava's boyfriend for at least another 12 or 13 years. I guess when you're daughter is that cute, though, you have to be on your guard good and early. (Isaiah has continued talking about Ava all week)

Michael has been doing almost all of the bedtime duties in our house now. We realized that Isaiah really needs to get used to someone other than me putting him to bed, and while Michael has always helped out with bedtime, it is only recently that he took over the role pretty much full time. So, every night after a bath, Michael and I will head up to Isaiah's room and dress him in some warm footie-jammies (why don't those come in adult sizes?) and Michael will begin to read stories to Isaiah while they cuddle in bed. After Michael has begun the story and Isaiah is engrossed, I wordlessly get up and leave the room. Even though I would like to smother Isaiah in kisses and tell him goodnight and that I love him and to have sweet dreams, this is just mean because it makes my leaving quite noticeable. Michael and Isaiah read for a while longer, and then Michael turns the lights off and the lullabies on and lets Isaiah fall asleep (or mostly asleep) before he leaves the room.

Isaiah and Michael have become quite adept at this routine, and we've discovered wonderful consequences that go way beyond what we had expected. The obvious one is that I have time in the evenings to myself to do whatever I want. Sometimes this is just catch-up time for me if I haven't finished my to-do list for the day, but I've also been able to read and to scrapbook. Hooray! Something else I've seen, though, is that Michael and Isaiah are closer. It makes sense that Isaiah would become more cuddly with his dad since he reads stories and snuggles with him every night as he relaxes to sleep. It's nice that the change is that visible and quick, though. Another unintended consequence, though, is that Isaiah really isn't that great at going to bed for me anymore. Michael and I just do it differently, and he's not as used to me anymore. I spent 2 hours trying to get him to sleep the other night, in order to give Michael a night off, and when I thought I finally had him down, he sneaked out of bed, ran to the top of the stairs and yelled "Daddy! Daddy!" So I had to pick up and carry him back to bed while he cried "Want Daddy! Want Thomas!" He allowed me to put him into bed again only because I promised that we would see both Daddy and Thomas in the morning. Michael later told me that although he was sorry it took me so long to get Isaiah to sleep, he was also really happy Isaiah had called for him. What a cute Dad.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love notes

I have been reading a book called Infant Massage recently (it's about infant massage, if you couldn't guess) because I'm hoping it will be a special way to take time out each day and bond with my daughter. Apart from getting me really excited to hold my little baby girl, one of my favorite chapters is about how bigger kids need to be touched too. The author pointed out that kids actually process praise and affectionate statements only 15% of the time when they aren't being touched as opposed to 85% of the time when they are being touched. So this morning when Isaiah woke up, I decided that as I was getting him dressed, I would try a little massage. It was a double bonus for me because not only did I get to spend a long time touching Isaiah's impossibly soft skin, I got to practice the techniques I read about. I massaged his legs, feet, tummy, chest, face, arms, hands, and back while I told him what a strong, beautiful boy he was and sang some of his favorite songs, and then I ended in a back scratch because I know he loves to have his back scratched. I felt good about it, but I didn't expect any drastic change in our relationship because of a single morning massage. After I had gotten his clothes on, though, I was carrying him downstairs for breakfast and he cupped my face in his little hands.
"I love you," he said, completely unprompted, as looked right at me with his breathtaking eyes, and then he gave me a tight hug and patted my back. Needless to say, I'm hooked on infant (and toddler) massage. Starting off this day with a reminder of how in love I am with my little boy was a frillion times better than any cup of coffee I've ever had.

The pictures this week are of Isaiah getting ready for his baby sister. He is feeding the baby doll from my grandma while they sit together in a laundry basket. He will sometimes rock the doll and sing "husha baby" and he really likes to pat her back until I make a tiny burp sound. The other picture is of Isaiah using some items he confiscated while I was organizing baby things. He loved the bib because it has a train on it, of course, and he was fascinated by the pacifier even though he couldn't remember how it worked at first. For quite a while, he tried sucking on it backwards with the handle in his mouth until I finally flipped it around for him. He walked around for a couple of hours with the pacifier in his mouth until he finally forgot about it and I discovered it later under the piano.

Michael and I took a refresher prenatal course that our hospital offered to second (or third or fourth) time parents. We did the normal overview of the stages of labor and breathing techniques, but our teacher (who was just the right amount of hippie for us) also wanted to show us some hypnobirth and waterbirth videos. The difference in the way Michael and I felt watching birth videos during our first prenatal class two-plus years ago and during this class was so vast it surprised me. When I watched similar videos before I had Isaiah, I was focused on the pain the women went through, and I didn't really view the process as beautiful. In fact, the one thing I came away knowing was that I absolutely did not want to have a mirror positioned so I could see the birth, and I shouldn't expect my baby to be cute immediately after he came out. This time, though, I watched the babies emerge with palpable excitement and anticipation, and when the parents looked at their newborns for the first time, both Michael and I teared up with them. Instead of seeing the blueish, vernix coated newborns as kind of cute, but also a little yucky, I felt a huge surge of oxytocin coursing through my veins and blossoming love for my little girl I haven't met yet. The waterbirth video was my favorite to watch because even though both the featured couples spoke Spanish, I could understand them, and hearing one mother exclaim "Mi amor, mi amor... o, pedazo de mi corazon." (My love, my love...oh, piece of my heart) brought back the overwhelming memory of the moment when I had finally birthed Isaiah and my pain was instantly forgotten as I heard myself say "Oh my baby, my baby." Michael and I both agreed that we would never have felt that way in class if we hadn't experienced it ourselves.

Thinking of how wonderful giving birth to Isaiah was, even though I had not been looking forward to it one single tiny little bit, and even though it was undeniably painful, made me think of how strange the joys of being a parent are. Michael and I discussed it as we were falling asleep last night, and he agreed completely. When Isaiah was only a few months old, I remember a single friend holding him while we chatted in a coffee shop. She told me that she absolutely loved to hold babies, but one of her favorite parts was that she knew that as soon as the baby cried or pooped, she had the freedom to pass him right back to his mom. I understood what she meant, but I remember thinking that I would gladly take back my crying pooping baby to care for him. Although taking care of Isaiah when he is "easy" is fun, there is a kind of ineffable joy in taking care of him when he really needs it. When he is scared and he clings to me, when he is hurt and his tears leak onto my shirt, when he struggles to fall asleep in his own bed for two nights in a row but Michael gets him to do it on the third night, when I wipe the p.b.j. off his face or tickle him back to happiness during a tantrum, I feel a special connection to him because I know I am needed. I feel so proud of him and of myself as I watch him grow up, and I know I am growing up with him.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pre-natal Wardrobe Malfunction

I have been having so many strange dreams lately. I know it's a rather common thing to happen during pregnancy, but it was never quite this...well, strange with Isaiah. When I was pregnant with him, I mostly just had dreams about having a new baby. Pretty normal overall. This time, though, I have vivid dreams every night of the oddest things. One night I dreamed that I bit off my thumb, but I was still really tired, so I didn't want to go to the hospital and I just put a band-aid on the stump and went back to bed. Then the next morning (in my dream) I decided that my thumb-stump looked stupid, and so I found the rest of my thumb and took it in to be reattached.

Another night, I dreamed that Babies R Us had come out with a clothing line for infants still in the womb, and I really, really wanted to get the baby some cute new outfits to wear while she was still inside me. In my dream, Michael and I had a big argument about whether it was a waste of money, and I angrily told him that we would be awful parents if we let her go through the birth process naked. Then in another dream, our baby was born with a big yellow banana peel wrapped around her, so after the labor process, we had to un-peel her. Of course, some are much less funny and have resulted in me waking up with tears streaming down my face, such as the one where Michael was driving me to the hospital to have the baby, and we got into a car accident and he died just before out daughter was born. I'll stick to dreams about banana peels if I can.

I have been continuing to hear my own phrases come back to me out of Isaiah's mouth throughout the day. While I was uploading photos to Costco's website, Isaiah was sitting on the futon half watching me and half playing with a twist-tie. He wanted me to "fix it," and although I don't really know what you're supposed to fix on a perfectly functional twist-tie, I figured I would give it a shot. So I twisted it into a circle and gave it back to him. Then he excitedly exclaimed - "You fixed it! Great job Mama!" Thanks baby.

Isaiah is becoming a little too obsessed with Thomas the Tank engine, and this is how I know. We usually let Isaiah come into our bed in the mornings if he wakes up early, and so the other morning, I was snuggling next to him very warm and cozy. Isaiah had already drifted back to sleep, but I was still awake because I had a little heartburn (not enough to actually get me out of bed and across the room to the nearest bottle of Tums, but enough to keep me awake for a few extra minutes.) I realized after a few moments that Isaiah was whispering in his sleep, so I put my ear closer to his mouth to hear what he was saying, and I discovered he was reciting the names of the engines from Thomas and Friends. It was like some sort of twisted sheep-counting. "Donald, Douglas, Percy, Daisy..." and again, I would like to point out this was IN HIS SLEEP.

So I decided we needed to take a Thomas break for the next week or so. I haven't put away any of his actual train toys or books, but we've had several discussions about how all his Thomas DVDs are broken. I did break down on Thursday, though, but I feel as though it can be excused on account of incredible cuteness. During lunch, I usually let Isaiah watch Curious George, because it makes it easier for me to shovel whatever into his mouth, and it's just less messy than having him feed himself. So, yesterday I told Isaiah that he could watch George while we ate lunch and he answered. " George. How 'bout....Percy!" It was so cute, I actually let him watch his Percy DVD.

Isaiah is becoming more and more excited about our Music Together classes every week we go. I'm also noticing that he has actually developed rhythm, which I think is pretty good for a 2 year old white guy, and he sings the lyrics to the songs throughout the day. One of his favorite parts of the class is a little girl named Ava, whom I'm pretty certain he has a crush on. I have to give him credit for good taste - she is ridiculously adorable. He also apparently likes younger women, because she's only 15 months old. Since Ava is one of the few people Isaiah encounters who is smaller than himself, I think that's part of the fascination. All class long he will follow her wherever she goes and hover so close I'm sure she feels an invasion of her personal bubble. A few weeks ago, though, he also decided to see what would happen if he pushed her. I honestly don't think he did it because he wanted to be mean, I think he was just curious. Of course, Michael and I were mortified that our sweet little boy pushed someone's sweet little girl, and even though her dad said it wasn't a big deal, we felt terrible. Then, to our horror, he did it again the next week, and Michael had to pick him up and take him away from Ava.

So, this last Thursday on the way to class, we all had a talk about how to be gentle to other kids. We talked about not pushing, and once we got to class, we reminded Isaiah that he couldn't corral Ava to go wherever he wanted; he had to let her walk around on her own. Then we held our breath to see what would happen. Thankfully, Isaiah was a perfect gentleman. A few times he got a little close because he sort of wanted to hug her while she was walking, but he never pushed. In fact, at one point, little Ava dropped her egg shakers (little rhythm instruments the kids use sometimes) on the floor, so Isaiah dropped his right next to hers to show her it was alright, then he picked hers up and handed them back to her. He also picked out all the best instruments from the basket during free instrument time and tried to give her every single one. What a little romantic.