Monday, March 31, 2008

Welcome to the world, Melora Karine!

Our beautiful daughter, Melora Karine Walz, was born Sunday March 30th at 2:28 p.m. She weights 6 pounds, 11 ounces and is 19 3/4 inches long. We have all fallen desperately in love with her already and want to do nothing more than stare at her and kiss her sweet head all day. Isaiah is already a sweet, attentive big brother and a good helper to us. We are so thankful, so blessed, and so in awe of our two amazing children. I will write more later, including her birth story, but I am now off to take a bath and go to bed! (You know you just wanted to see pictures anyway.)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bathtub of Horrors

Warning: This post is a gross one, so you had better posses a strong stomach and the humor of a 12-year-old boy if you plan to enjoy it.

We had a really fun, wonderful night tonight. Also, we had a really terrible, disgusting night tonight. The fun part began when our friends from our Music Together class came over. Isaiah's little friend Ava was decked out in her usual pink fluffy glory, and they had lots of fun playing while we talked with Ava's parents. We found out we got married on the same indescribably hot August day back in 2003, and we had lots of fun laughing about our similar experiences. I was having some contractions throughout the entire meal, but I didn't really want to call attention to them because they weren't too painful to talk or move through. So I just enjoyed myself and discovered that Ava's mom and I share a mutual, amateurish love of scrapbooking as well as a mutual lack of time to scrapbook. We also had a yummy Italian chicken dinner, which was a new slow-cooker recipe for me and they brought over some delicious cheesecake from Cafe Latte.

After our friends left, we let Isaiah play for a little while as we loaded the dishwasher and cleaned up the kitchen. I was still having contractions, but a warm bath usually relieves the pain. We decided we should give Isaiah a bath before I took mine, though, to help him calm down for the evening, because he was still pretty pumped up from having a really cute little girl over to play. So we filled his bath and Isaiah and I read stories together. Once it was all ready, Michael got Isaiah into the tub and began playing with him for approximately 20 seconds until Isaiah pooped in the water. This has happened about four times in Isaiah's life, but we thought we had learned how to deal with it as quickly and efficiently as possible. When you're dealing with poop floating in water, the learning curve is steep and sharp. So I ran into the kitchen and pulled out a ziplock bag, into which I cut slits so the water could drain out while still retaining the offensive poo. As I was doing this, Isaiah pooped again in the water, even though he had insisted he was done. So then Michael ran back into the kitchen for another bag while I tried to fish out toys as quickly as possible to avoid the poop raft. Suddenly I realized there were three poop rafts in the water, and I simultaneously realized we were huge idiots for not getting Isaiah out the instant he pooped his first poop. So Michael came back with more baggies as I dried off Isaiah and put a diaper on him. Unfortunately, the fishing baggie Michael had gotten didn't work because the holes were too big, so it let out water and soooo much more back into the tub. Then there was nothing we could do except wait for the tub to drain and clean it out.

I was still having somewhat painful contractions and couldn't lean over the tub very well, so the job fell on Michael, who dutifully grabbed a gigantic fistful of paper towels as I brought in the garbage pail. He began mopping up the disgusting mess when he started to gag. He's not usually a gagger when he changes a diaper or anything, but this was one seriously gross bathtub.
"(Cough, choke...) Wow; I really didn't expect it to smell quite that much. How about you slide that scented candle over my way, sweetie...(gag, cough, gag...)"
He continued trying to clean the mess up despite his ever-strengthening gag reflex until suddenly his body couldn't take it anymore, and he threw up right in the tub, losing the wonderful chicken dinner and cheesecake we had enjoyed.
"Oh wow!" Michael said incredulously, "This is a really disgusting night. I'm sorry it's all happening right in the tub, honey."
Just at that moment a rather powerful contraction hit as I was overcome with uncontrollable laughter. I sat down on the toilet and shrieked with laughter and pain.

So Michael had to clean and bleach the tub, (which he did amazingly; it now sparkles like an alabaster effigy and smells like a fresh spring day,) and I soaked the bath toys in a bucket with 409. We agreed that it would be pretty awesome if our baby girl was born tonight, because this would make for one unforgettable story. Maybe I could even deliver her in the tub!

*I thought the picture was appropriate for the bathroom humor contained within the post. Hopefully you will all be brave enough to read another post one day. I can't imagine having one as disgusting as this for a long, long time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Duck mittens

Nope, no baby yet. I figured I would start off with that because I know quite a few people have been wondering, and I guess if I go for too long without posting something on my blog or facebook, people start assuming I'm in the hospital. So far, though, Baby Girl has remained comfortable where she is, so she's not moving anywhere. My sister-in-law is on spring break, though, and came to stay with us earlier in the week to help me out and take care of Isaiah. So we decided it would be really fun to have the baby while she was here. Laura and I went out on Tuesday morning fully intending to walk around the mall until she fell right out, but Isaiah had a fever and was really tired, so we only walked for an hour. (Plus, I sort of walk like a duck with osteoporosis right now, so it wasn't very pleasant.) Before we left, though, we got some Chipotle with hot salsa in the hope that the spicy food would help spur something. Then after Isaiah was asleep I took a warm bath and spent some time rocking back on the birth ball. Then, my friend/doula came over with a pile of books and suggestions. We tried a few more positions and she tried pushing on a few pressure points, but Baby Girl still didn't feel like moving, so we watched a funny Japanese game show because laughing really hard gives me contractions. I ended up having a few, but nothing to write home about. By the end of the night, the remaining options were few and disgusting. I could opt for getting an enema or drinking castor oil, but I am absolutely not that desperate. Not even close. So Baby Girl stays snugly where she is, and no one goes near me with an enema bag. Everyone wins!

On a related note, my friend Andrea wrote a poem/prayer for me birth that I thought I'd share:

May Ashley's birth not be a long haul
May she be aided by her birthing ball

May Michael relax if a needle is near
And may Ashley not give in to fear

May your contractions be short
And your pains be few
May only good thoughts come to you

May you remember that God loves you very much
Now go birth our that girly and all that good stuff

Since she apparently isn't in too much of a rush to come out, I've just focused on being comfortable with her new, very low position. It's really not so bad (as long as I have quick access to a bathroom every second of the day) except for the fact that my pelvic bone is separating and sometimes gives me a hard, pinching pain. It's not anything serious or medically troubling, though, so I'm alright with it. My doctor prescribed daily bubble baths (preferably with candles) and chocolate every day. I know - it's a rough life, but I do what I must. Last Saturday, Michael suggested we go to swimming because it would help take some of the pressure off from having a baby living somewhere between my knees. We packed our swim bag and headed out to a hotel nearby that has open swim during the day. Once we got there and paid our $15 for two hours, we realized that we had picked one of the lamest pools in the cities. We decided to make the best of it, though, and all got changed. Michael carried Isaiah into the pool while I stepped into the "hot tub" (the quotes are around the phrase because it was more accurately a tepid tub.) Isaiah was really nervous and really cold in the water, so he mostly clung to Michael and cried. After a minute of that, they both came and joined me in the tepid tub, where Isaiah enjoyed pointing out the green spots on the bottom floor. ("It's green! It's green!") We eventually convinced Isaiah to let us turn on the jets, and he clung to us the whole time, occasionally reaching his hand out to touch some of the bubbles. The up side, though, was that I did feel much lighter for a good hour and a half, and because the hot tub really wasn't hot, I didn't have to worry about my body temperature or the baby's rising too high. By the end, Isaiah had a little more confidence and would walk around the bench inside the tub if we pretended he was a choo choo train. Somehow, we got a picture of him smiling like he was a born swimmer and having a great time. Don't be fooled by the sweet smile, though; that was not his idea of a good time.

Easter was a wonderful day for our family. We let ourselves wake up leisurly because we had planned on going to a later church service. Then we led Isaiah down the hall where he discovered his Easter basket at the top of the stairs and a toy or treat on each stair all the way down to the bottom. He knew what to do with the chocolate bunnies right away, and he loved the toy frogs we found that flash colors when you touch them. (They look like they would give you a pretty good trip if you licked them!) Then I made french toast before we headed to church. He had a great time playing with kids, as always, and then we drove straight up to Buffalo for some time with the Walzes. He built a giant snow bunny with his grandparents and Auntie Laura, and he of course also ate some snow and visited the real bunny, Nibbler. He also put stickers on Easter eggs and ate more chocolate. You really can't ask for a better day.

Isaiah is beginning to get excited about feeding ducks, which we haven't done since Christmas. He must be feeling the call of spring, despite the remaining snow on the ground. Today I was cleaning chocolate off his hands in the car (I had ingeniously let him have a piece of Easter candy for the drive, which he just decided to hold instead of eat,) when he began a nice conversation with me about ducks.
"Feed ducks?"
"Well, when it's warmer out, we'll feed some ducks."
"Ducks eat bread?"
"That's right, ducks eat bread."
"Ducks eat chocolate?"
"Nope, ducks don't eat chocolate. They just eat bread. And fish."
"Oh yeah! Eat fish!"
"Yep, ducks eat fish."
"Feed ducks?"
"Well, sweetie, it's too cold in Minnesota right now, so the ducks don't live here."
"Need some mittens?"
"Well, yeah, I suppose mittens would help them be less cold."
"Hold your hand, ducks...some mittens. Oh yeah!"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Yuck of the Irish

This Monday I decided to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a nice, traditional dinner of corned beef with onions and potatoes, cabbage, green jell-o with pears, and green sugar cookies. (Green jell-o is a very traditional Irish food, in case you weren't aware.) I had never really had corned beef growing up, but I love corned beef hash, so I assumed I would be quite the fan. Not so much.

The corned beef was nice and tender after a long day in the crock pot, and the baked cabbage was buttery-smelling and juicy, so I was really excited to dive in. Michael started eating before I did, since I was busy breaking up Isaiah's piece of corned beef and giving him a bite. I asked Michael what he thought of it all, since I had never made it before, and he told me it was good. Then, after a few bites, he politely said that maybe we should just save it for the once-a-year celebration of St. Patrick's Day. After another bite or two, he cautiously asked if there would be enough for leftovers tomorrow or if we would be eating something else (as he gulped down milk to try and drown out the taste of the corned beef.) At that point I let the poor, sweet man off the hook and confessed that I didn't think I could ever eat corned beef again. Michael's face flooded with relief, and he offered the tip that if you pile plenty of onions and cabbage on top of each bite of the beef, it really masked the taste pretty well. I ended up just having a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich anyway. My green jell-o with pears was good, though. Isaiah actually ate all of his corned beef, plus some of mine I couldn't manage to eat, his cabbage, onions, jell-o, pears, and a cookie. It's pretty pitiful when my toddler is a better eater than I am. Isaiah also had left-over corned beef and onions for lunch the next day, because Michael and I certainly weren't going to touch it.

As for baby news, our little girl has dropped. It happened last Monday as I was driving to pick Michael up from work. The drop was actually so sudden (and rather painful) that I swerved into the other lane of traffic; praise God no one was there! I wasn't even sure what had happened until I got out of the car and realized that she had either dropped big-time, or someone had snuck a bowling ball into my pants. At my doctor's visit on Friday, he confirmed that she was very low (I actually needed no confirmation of that, thankyouverymuch) and told me that I'm 50% effaced and 3 cm dilated.

While I'm definitely excited that she is apparently going to come soon, I'm also feeling some major control issues. Mainly, my issue is that I am facing the reality of how little control I have. Normally, I find so much peace in giving up control to God, but I'm having a tremendously difficult time doing it right now. I want to count her kicks to make sure she's doing well in there; I want to reread the book on preparing older siblings; I want to label all the drawers so anyone coming to help will know exactly where Isaiah's jammies are supposed to go...I want to do anything I can do that will fit onto a list so I can check it off at the end of the day and feel good about what I've accomplished. I don't know why I'm feeling this urge to have control, but I know I really need to let go. I need to give myself some rest and some peace. God has been so faithful to our family, and he has repeatedly, tirelessly, endlessly shown Michael and I that his provision is more than enough for us. There is nothing I can give my children that will compare to the wonderful gifts God has in store for them, so I just need to get out of his way.

Oh, and just when we thought spring was coming...Minnesota played a dirty trick on us and dumped more snow. Isaiah was delighted because one of his favorite activities is shoveling snow. All day long he asked to "subble sew" sometimes even adding "please, please, please." He finally did get to go out into the mush with Daddy after work and do some "subbeling."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A colorful week

So this Thursday, I wanted to take a shower really badly, and Isaiah was happily coloring printouts of Thomas and Friends and his little picnic table. He usually gets strapped into his high chair when he's coloring, so I was proud to see him sitting down like such a big boy with his crayons. Since he was so content, I figured it was as good a time as any to pop into the bathroom. He stayed happy the entire time I was in the shower, and I was able to relax in the warm water without worrying about him. When I came out a few minutes later, I heard him playing upstairs, so I went right up to check on him. He was happily kicking balls around his room, still holding the orange crayon from his coloring time downstairs, and he was so happy to see me he gave me a big hug. I scooped him up and plopped him on the bed for some tickles. After a few more minutes of playing, Isaiah started coloring on his hand with the orange crayon. It wasn't actually making any marks, but I told him that we don't color on hands, only paper. He looked a little surprised at this news and repeated it,
"No color hands?"
"That's right, buddy, we don't color on our hands."
Then a few minutes later, he poised the orange crayon over his sheets, ready to color on them.
"Nope, sweetie - we don't color on the bed, only on paper."
"No color bed?"
"That's right. We only color on paper."
A dawning looking appeared on his face, and he quietly asked me,
"No color table?"
"Right, sweetie, we don't color on the table, only on paper."
I was pretty impressed that he had used his deductive reasoning on that one when he asked, a little more quietly,
"No color chair?"
"That's right, no coloring on the chair - only paper."
Then he asked, in an even more quiet voice,
"No color slide?"
"That's right, we don't color on the slide either - just paper."
I was still pretty impressed that he was extrapolating the 'only paper' rule to include all these things when he said in a tiny voice,
"No color house?"
"Um, yeah sweetie - we only color on paper."
"Oh," he said rather sadly and looked down. That's when I finally realized I should go downstairs and check things out. Indeed, he had colored on the table, chairs, plastic slide, and the walls of our house. Oh.

Luckily I had been smart enough to give him washable crayons (even if I was dumb enough to leave him alone with them in the first place) so the marks came off with a few wipes of a wet paper towel. I honestly wasn't even a little mad. I realized that we hadn't talked too much about what not to color on, because I had never left him alone with a set of crayons and a tempting house/palate to color on. I just told Isaiah it was time to clean up the colors and gave him his own paper towel. It doesn't even count as a consequence because Isaiah loves to clean and thinks it's a game. Maybe I should have disciplined him more, but I feel like it was more of a learning experience (for both of us) than a rebellion. So, we wiped up blue, orange, and brown crayon marks and then put the crayons away for the day and kept on playing. I guess next time I take a shower, I will have to think of a different activity.

The next morning we were all heading out of the house bundled up in layers because it was absolutely freezing (far below freezing, to be more precise.) We walked out our back door to head to the garage with Michael carrying Isaiah and me carrying Michael's coffee. I had just shut the door behind me when Michael called, "Hey honey, I don't have the keys." Oh shoot! I looked frantically through my diaper bag hoping against hope that I had the spare set of keys in there, but despite the fact that my diaper bag houses more than Mary Poppins' bag, the keys just weren't there. Michael called his brothers to see if either of them had the spares we thought we had handed out, but no such luck. By this time Isaiah was crying because the cold was so terrible and biting that our faces and ears all hurt. I removed my scarf and we wrapped it around the exposed parts of Isaiah's face. Then we booked it to a coffee shop two blocks down to hang out in the warmth while we tried to figure out what to do.

Eventually, Michael's brother Peter drove out and the two of them headed back to our house to try and pick the lock, (which didn't work,) and call a locksmith. Meanwhile, Isaiah and I stayed at the coffee shop where he could walk around and stay out of the cold. We were there for over two hours, and even though they had several books and toys to keep him entertained, he got restless and antsy after being there so long. A nice older gentleman noticed Isaiah was getting bored with my entertainment tactics, so he reached into his bag, pulled out a folksy wooden recorder and began to play. Isaiah was immediately enthralled and walked over to the man's table to check it out. The man obligingly played for him, and then reached into his bag a pulled out another, smaller recorder. He played on that one too for a moment so Isaiah could see how it worked, and then, he quickly wiped the mouthpiece on his shirt and handed it to Isaiah, who immediately stuck it into his mouth. It happened so quickly, I couldn't have stopped it if I had wanted it to. The guy just encouraged Isaiah to blow into it to make some music, which Isaiah did as I thought desperately of my Clorox wipes in the diaper bag across the room. Then Isaiah handed it back, and the guy stuck it back into his own mouth, while I sat there dumbfounded and unsure of what to do. I mean, this man was entertaining my son and being extremely kind...but ew! Isaiah definitely had a cold, which he probably passed onto the guy, and I had no idea what the guy was harboring that he passed onto Isaiah. It was all water under the bridge at that point in time, though, so I just fixed a smile on my face and went on with the morning. Oh, and we did eventually get into our home and Michael got to work only 2 1/2 hours late. Isaiah was no worse for the wear, and so far hasn't come down with any strange diseases from Mr. Recorder.

The pictures are from a photo shoot at our dining room table. Isaiah will make faces on command to entertain Michael and I, so we called out "happy face," "angry face," and "surprise face," while we snapped pictures. It's a pretty great party trick. (He also does sleepy face, silly face, yucky face, and sad face.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


This weekend, we drive down to Vesta, MN to visit Michael's Grandpa for his 82nd birthday. Isaiah slept for much of the long drive, as did Uncle James, who had caught a ride with us. Michael and I chatted for a while, but we were in quiet moods. So I spent a lot of my time looking at farmland and thinking. One thing that crossed my mind is how amazing our families are. Michael and I were so young when we got married - both 20, and still young when we had Isaiah (22 and 23.) We really haven't felt overwhelmed or in over our heads, (well - for the most part) even when there are so many older, wiser, more mature people struggling in marriage and parenting. I know the biggest reason is that God is protecting our marriage and blessing it beyond anything we could have asked for, and I really think another big reason is because of our families. We both had wonderful examples of parenting and marriage to look to - my parents have been married over 25 years as have Michael's. Not only that, but their parents have all stayed married too. Michael and I have each lost a grandfather, but we have never had to deal with a grandparental divorce. We knew that when we got married and said "till death do us part," we really meant it, because we had seen that phrase put into action throughout our entire lives. I'm so thankful for my husband, and I know our marriage is a gift to our children.

Isaiah really loved the birthday celebration at the nursing home in Vesta. He was groggy at the beginning, but warmed up after some cuddle time with Grandma Walz. After a walk around the building, I think Isaiah decided he could happily live there. There was a big, beautiful fish tank the spent lots of time admiring. Then, we had cake and ice cream with family and sang "Happy Birthday" (one of Isaiah's favorite songs) and then some residents sat down or were wheeled into a circle to kick a pile of balloons back and forth to each other. Isaiah got right in the middle of the circle and happily kicked, threw, punched, and crawled around in the balloons. The residents enjoyed watching him so much, they forgot to kick the balloons themselves, and had to be reminded several times by the nurse. I saw how beautiful Isaiah was, and how much the residents appreciated his joy and enthusiasm. Oh Isaiah - you are such a blessing to this world, the fact that you are my son fills me with such wonder and love, I think my heart could burst.

Sunday night is usually my night off from cooking a big meal, so we were all just having quesadillas for dinner. I asked Isaiah if he would like some quesadilla as we sat down to eat, and I realized I really need to learn not to phrase things as questions when they are really statements, because Isaiah answers my questions as if he truly has a choice about the matter.
"Isaiah, do you want to eat your quesadilla?"
" about? Just candy."
"No, sweetie. We're not going to have candy for dinner. How about your cheesy quesadilla?"
"How about just cookies."
It's so funny, sometimes I almost want to give in. But never fear - I stood my ground and Isaiah did indeed have quesadillas, not candy, for dinner.

I decided to take it easy yesterday morning and let myself get off to a lazy start. I knew the day would be really full because I was going to re-organize all of Isaiah's toys, so I wanted to have some time just to relax enjoy my little boy. During breakfast we popped in a Baby Einstein DVD about animals and shared a bowl of pears, grapes, and kiwi. I'm so glad I slowed down enough to have that time with him, because it was ineffably beautiful. Isaiah got so excited about the animals he saw on the DVD he could hardly contain himself. His little body bounced and wiggled on the couch as he shouted out the name of everything he saw.
"Elephants! Kangaroo!!"
At one point, he was so excited, he couldn't even speak straight. A flamingo came onto the screen and he shouted,
Then a hippo,
We snuggled and talked about animals and ate our fruit together for 30 wonderful minutes, and I felt as though I had gotten a break from the whole world. Oh, and Isaiah told me his fruit was delicious, or "mmmm...doo-wishes" actually.

We have been without a shower in our home for nearly two weeks because the diverter in the tub spout stopped working, so the water wouldn't work it's way up the pipe and out the shower head. We have resorted to taking baths and washing our hair in the sink. We had been misinformed that the job of replacing the tub faucet would be extremely difficult and could take an entire weekend, if not a plumber, so we didn't take care of it right away. In reality, though, it took a 30 minute trip to Home Depot and 20 minutes at home in the bathroom. Isaiah even helped by pounding on the tub with his plastic hammer. As we were heading to the check-out line at Home Depot, Michael casually said to me
"You know, honey, when we have the time and money, I think it would really be fun to tear apart our bathroom and make it really nice looking."
Oh - be still my beating heart. Michael had no idea he had stumbled upon one of the most seductive phrases known to a home-improvement, decorating junkie like me. I would have jumped up into his arms and kissed him right there if wasn't 8 1/2 months pregnant and still possessed the ability to jump. As it is, I'm about as agile as the queen of sea cows right now, so my feet stayed firmly planted on the ground, but I thought lustily of ceramic tile and antique bronze fixtures all the way home.