Monday, May 26, 2008

Zacchaeus was a wee little man...

Michael had Monday off for Memorial day, and it was so wonderful to have a long weekend with him. I always miss him so much while he's at work. We planned to have a relaxing long weekend together without much fuss or crazy running around, which is exactly what we did.

On Saturday we had a picnic in the park, which actually less fun and more like a disaster than I had hoped. We got to the park right at lunchtime, and we foolishly tried to eat our picnic right away instead of letting Isaiah run around like he wanted. Much crying ensued. Then we realized that the particular park we chose was a little unsafe because it was an island with murky water on every side that Isaiah wasn't allowed to go into despite the fact that he really wanted to get very near to the steep banks. Much crying ensued. I had also promised Isaiah that we would be able to feed the ducks because I had seen vast quantities of ducks in the park that very morning as I drove by. Once we got there, though, the ducks had apparently migrated far, far away. Much crying ensued. Then Isaiah got too excited by his environment to go potty in his little portable toilet and instead went in his pants. Much crying ensued. Then he wanted to join in on the other family barbecues that were taking place around the park, but he wasn't exactly invited. So he patiently listened to our reasonable explanations and cheerfully stayed away from the strangers and their red-hot grills. Just kidding...much crying ensued.

The next day was much better, though. Isaiah had fun in church during nursery, as he always does. Michael and I also had a pretty great time during the service. Melora has begun smiling, and she kept flashing quick, beautiful little smiles to me during the first 20 minutes of church before she fell asleep. I didn't pay very much attention to that part of church because I was busy grinning at my daughter like a love-struck puppy and elbowing my more-pious husband to look at her. That afternoon we built a giant marble track in our dining room out of things from our recycling bin like paper-towel-tubes and soda bottles. Michael did all the work while Isaiah played with marbles and I bounced Melora up and down. He's a pretty sweet dad, though, so he didn't seem to mind. Then on Monday we went to a giant indoor playplace called Edinborough. Isaiah spent hours climbing on the equipment, bouncing in the bouncy castle, and kicking balls around the gym. I played with him for a while, but Michael got the better part of the workout. It was pretty cute to sit on the bench and watch happy kids being chased by their sweaty dads up mazes and down slides.

We have started doing family devotions in the evenings which has been really sweet. I've also found a great blog with the words to some of my favorite Sunday School songs as a child, so we've had fun dancing and singing to those. I've always dreamed of my family reading the Bible together and just living in a home full of love for Christ, and I feel like we're taking some really good steps to be that way. Isaiah doesn't really understand the spiritual applications of the devotions we read, but he likes the stories anyway, and he hears Michael and I talk about God's love. He also has begun singing the songs all by himself sometimes. It's so sweet to hear him sing a verse of Zacchaeus or Deep and Wide as he's playing. Also, Michael and I decided to choose verses to pray over our kids for the next year. Melora's verse for this year is Psalm 5:11
Let Melora take refuge in you and be glad; let her ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over Melora that she may rejoice in you.
and Isaiah's is Romans 10: 9, 13
I pray that Isaiah would confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord, and that he would believe in his heart that you have raised Christ from the dead. Cause Isaiah to call on your name, Lord and save him.
I can't wait to see what God has in store for our family as we pray for our kids.

Free from TV

A few weeks ago in his sermon, our pastor mentioned that he took a break from watching TV for a month and only then realized how much he had become dependent on it. I began thinking about how much TV I let Isaiah watch during the day and realized it was more than I liked. On the one hand I told myself that he was only getting half an hour to an hour a day of Curious George, but in reality I knew that I used that time to get things done (like my blog,) and so I would often extend it and let him watch a good 15 minutes of the next show on PBS kids after George. Sometimes, if I was either really behind on stuff or just feeling a bit lazy, I would let him watch up to 2 1/2 hours a day of TV and movies. When you realize that he also takes a significant nap during the day as well as 45 minutes of sitting in his high chair at lunch, that adds up to a lot of inactive time. So we have stopped watching TV during the day for the past two weeks. I've allowed a 1/2 hour of Veggie Tales on Fridays as an end-of-the week treat but beyond that, our TV has been silent, forlorn, and dark. Our days have been so chock full of things I wanted to write about. But every night I've collapsed into bed exhausted from so much playing. It has been wonderful. Isaiah smells like fresh air, sunscreen, and grass, and I no longer feel like a mama bear stuck in hibernation with a couple cubs.

I really feel like I've grown as a mom in the past two weeks without TV to do a little daily babysitting, and I've learned so much too. First, I've learned that I really did rely on the television more than I was admitting to myself. I also learned that we have a sweet little robin's nest (complete with four baby robins) just outside our back door. I've learned that the best way to start the day is with a cup of hot coffee on the steps outside while blowing bubbles for my little guy to chase around the yard. I've learned that we are in walking distance of three great parks and a library, and that ants look really cool under a magnifying glass.

Melora has seemed to enjoy the time outside as well. I'm trying to give her little butt lots of fresh air because she has thrush, which is a yeast infection babies get in their mouths and on their bums, and keeping her dry and undiapered is a great way to make her feel better. So several times this week I would just lay out a bunch of towels in a shady spot on the grass and let her kick her little free, naked legs in the air. Then when she got tired, I piled soft blankets around her like a nest and let her fall asleep in the gentle breeze. Sounds pretty great, no?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

No Ice Please

This week I've been reminded in several hard ways that I am so blessed to have two healthy children. I'm among the privileged to be able to put food in front of them daily and to have a safe home to shelter them. I'm incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by family and friends who love my children and I'm blessed beyond measure to know that God loves my children with an endless, selfless love I can't even fathom. Thank you, God, for protecting my precious babies in ways I don't even realize or understand.

Isaiah, Melora, and I usually take our afternoon nap together our my bed so I can spend some time snuggling between them. Earlier this week I was nursing Melora while Isaiah snuggled on the other side of her. He was stroking her soft hair and soft cheeks very gently when he got too excited and wiggly, and he bumped her head with his own. She started crying, and I gasped, worried that she was hurt. Although Isaiah's used to hearing Melora crying at various times during the day, hearing me gasp so loudly really scared him because he thought he had done some serious damage to his little sister. He immediately started crying - hard - and wailed,
"Oh no! I hurt baby sister." He put his hands over his face and didn't calm down until he was completely reassured that she was alright. I felt terrible for making him feel guilty, and he felt terrible for hurting Melora. Melora, on the other hand had gotten over the surprise of being bumped very quickly and was feeling fine. So Isaiah kissed her head to make it better and told her sorry for bumping her, and we all fell asleep.

Melora and I spend our time together just being with one another and snuggling. When she's awake, she is content to bounce along in the sling and stare up at my face as I go about my chores. I walk with extra springy steps and dance to Isaiah's CD's in the kitchen to entertain her, and I sing and talk in the high mommy voice I've honed during the past two years. The real magic happens, though, when we get time to just stop and gaze intently, uninterrupted in to each others' eyes. She has my eyes, and oh my goodness, I've never been so in love with my own eyes. Hers are blue while mine are brown, but they are the exact shape - more round than olive and really big, especially on a delicate, 5-week-old face. I love to see them take in the surrounding room; I watch with rapt wonder as they follow the light as we move; I giggle when they unintentionally cross as she works to focus on my face. I am smitten. And when she falls asleep and her eyes close, her face changes from cute to absolutely lovely. She looks like a china doll instead of a real person because she is so perfect, so winsome. She has no idea that I can hardly peel my eyes away from her, that I can't help but stroke her velvety skin, that I am head over heels in love with her.

Our weather has finally warmed up enough to allow us to spend a significant amount of time outside. I guess one advantage to a long, long winter is that you really cherish spring when it comes. We have played outside every day it hasn't significantly rained since the beginning of May, (as well as some very wet days when we decided it was worth it anyway.) Little boys are really meant to live outside, and so Isaiah has been busy running around, messing up anthills, digging for worms, painting under the sunshine, chasing bubbles, and kicking balls. We took out a bucket of soapy water one afternoon and "washed" marbles in it for over an hour. Friday evening we put Isaiah in his painting clothes and let him paint outdoors with nature as his inspiration. Oh, and by nature, I mean Pixar's Cars movie. We even ate in our back yard that night because it was way too nice to go back inside. We grilled steak and had a picnic with macaroni salad, corn, and potatoes. Isaiah loved it so much he ate every bite on his plate, plus some of Daddy's steak. Then, the next morning, he woke up and asked to have "steak and corn outside" for breakfast. Unfortunately, it was gray and rainy again, so we had an inside day.

Here are a few of my other recent favorite Isaiah quotes:

I pulled up to the drive through teller at our bank this morning to deposit some checks, and when I rolled down the window, Isaiah called out,
"I'll have a number 2 with no ice please. NO ICE PLEASE!! THANKS!" (I always take my drinks without ice, if you couldn't tell.)

Isaiah often comes up to Michael in the evenings when he's in the mood to play with a sweet, flirty smile on his face. Then in a baiting voice he says,
"Oh no...don't get me Daddy. Don't you tiiiiiickle me!" So Michael always chases and tickles him, of course. Tonight, though, Michael apparently wasn't quick enough to take the bait, so Isaiah said,
"Daddy, don't tiiiiiiiickle me!...Don't get me, Daddy!...Hey Daddy! Come tickle me!!"

Oh the might! Oh the fury! Oh the poop!

This weekend began with what Isaiah might describe as a veritable utopia, if he knew those words, that is. We went to the petting zoo! My wonderful mom friend, Tammy, clued me in on a free petting zoo happening in the cities, so we decided to meet there with our kids and have a playdate. Michael's parents also had the day free, so they came with to be extra kid wranglers/paparazzi for us. Isaiah was pleased as punch to see his grandparents waiting for him by the big white tent. He was thrilled to see some of his favorite kids arrive shortly thereafter. But he was beyond ecstatic to be around the animals. There were goats, a zebra, goats, ponies, goats, a llama, goats, a calf, goats, a donkey, oh and some more goats. We brought Isaiah into the tent and let him roam free with the goats. Most of the kids under the tent were doing normal things like petting the goats or feeding them 50 cent handfuls of goat food. Isaiah, however, was not content to do such things. He decided the full potential of petting zoo joy could only be reached by throwing straw at the goats. So he did. For an hour. He picked up fistfuls of straw (laced with goat poo pellets - I know) and threw it onto unsuspecting, and rather apathetic goats for the entire hour we were there. The best part was that he laughed hysterically every single time he did it. I wasn't sure if I, as the mother, should stop him from throwing straw at the goats, but I didn't really see the harm in it. Sure he was getting goat poop on his hands, but I knew enough farm kids who survived to adulthood to worry too much about that. He never threw straw at the baby goats, and he never threw it at the other kids, so I considered the situation under control.

A few other factors that made the day so wonderful for Isaiah were that it was raining, so he got to use his frog umbrella, he got to hang out with his Walz grandparents and uncles, he enjoyed a McDonald's kiddie cone with his friends, and he had pizza for dinner. If I were a kid, that would have been a pretty perfect day for me too. In fact, it was pretty perfect for me even as an adult!

Melora slept like an angel through the entire petting-zoo experience, and she even slept through the part of the day where I was running through pouring rain with her in the sling under my coat and not very well protected by her ladybug umbrella (which she was gracious enough to share!) She's still a really great sleeper, especially at night. We swaddle her before we go to bed, which really keeps her calm and happy, so the past few nights I've been getting really nice long stretches of sleep. The one problem is that I don't wake up to change her diaper because she doesn't cry to be fed. So I wake up at 6a.m. with the realization that I haven't changed her for seven hours, and then I feel terrible for leaving her in a dirty diaper all that time. Sometimes the poop is still contained in the diaper, but on more than one occasion her diaper hath runneth over onto her nightgown and our sheets. This morning, though, was a whole different story. Melora's diaper was fairly dry and clean because she had been changed recently when I got up to go to the bathroom and get a drink. I was just beginning to wake up as the sun rose and filled our room with a relaxing spring glow. Suddenly I heard a low rumble and felt a tiny cannon blast beside me. Still groggy, I reached over to pull Melora closer to me when I realized my arm was wet. In my half-awake state, the solution was to simply use my other hand, which also became mysteriously wet when I touched her. So I pried my eyes open thinking that perhaps she had wet the bed. Nope. In that one mighty blast, Melora had shot poop up the front, up the back, and out the sides of her diaper. I woke up Michael, whose mind is even more clumsy than mine in the morning hours, and together we changed Melora's diaper, her outfit and our sheets. Then, like the second-time parents we are, we laughed about it and then fell right back asleep. If this had happened with Isaiah two years ago, we would have sat up and talked about how gross it was, perhaps taken a shower, who knows. In fact, in a similar episode when Isaiah was two months old, I actually screamed when he got poop on me. It's nice to know I'm not such rookie now, or maybe I'm just grosser.

Isaiah has shown some real acting talent recently. We've been reading a lot of Curious George as well as watching our daily dose of George during lunch. Isaiah began making monkey sounds quite a while ago, but it has grown into full recaps of his favorite episodes. For a long time I had no idea what was going on when Isaiah would say
"Ooo, ooo, aaaa, aaaah! I feed the ducks. Okay George!"
Then he would walk around the house flinging invisible duck food into the invisible duck pond. I sort of just nodded and tried to keep up.
Another time he was acting out a scene from a Curious George story where George apparently did something naughty. Then he told me,
"Sometimes naughty...need a time out." And he walked over to a corner and sat down. I was completely bewildered because I had never given him a time out in his life. Plus I didn't know what naughty thing he had done.
The lightbulb finally went off because we watched a Pixar short where a little girl loses her penny down a drain and makes an angry face to the men who caused her to drop it. Isaiah was eating dinner that night when he put on his best angry faced and pointed right at me.
"Isaiah, why are you angry?"
"I don't have a penny," he said with his accusatory finger waggling.
"Oh! I made you drop you penny down the drain, right?"
"Yeah!" He said as his angry face changed in to a grin. He quickly reassembled his features to be appropriately angry, and we acted out the scene again. He angrily pointed at me, and I gestured that I didn't have any pennies in my pockets to give him. So instead he took my pretend violin and played it until he got some pretend pennies from a pretend passerby and threw them into the pretend wishing well. (It makes a lot of sense if you've seen the Pixar short I'm talking about.) He's also acted out scenes from several other favorite books including Tom the TV Cat, Rainbow Fish, Peter Rabbit, and George goes Camping. It's amazing to me that a little boy can be so much fun every single day.