Lauren’s birthday isn’t for a few more months but I wanted to try to make do of the times she’s at work on the weekends and paint her a gift. I’ve been wanting to paint something like this for awhile, of the times it’s just her, me, and Isaac sitting on the steps of our house together. Although it doesn’t quite capture the intense heat of the San Fernando Valley.
Hopefully, Lauren doesn’t check this website anymore!
So a few months ago I started playing this mobile game that my coworker Sean plays called Puzzle and Dragons. It’s this old Japanese color matching game where you move an orb around and try to match 3 or more of the same color in a row within a time limit. It looks like this:
I thought it was a fun, low-stress, casual game that I could get better at. It was also very baby-friendly, something you could pick up and put down at a moments notice, and was a fun way to pass the time while waiting for the baby to fall asleep in the middle of the night.
Anyway, the company behind this game had an art contest! Draw this character:
wearing a costume to make it look like any other character in the game. All participants get in-game rewards! I figured, sure why not. So I chose this guy (one of the simpler ones to draw):
I sketched out something rough and was about to submit it. But then I thought it wasn’t half bad so maybe I’d tighten up the line work and spend a few more hours to make it look a bit better. This was my final entry:
I thought it was ok! Maybe I had a chance of winning one of those five runner up t-shirts! Or the top prize, a plushie which I could give to Isaac! I felt this prize would validate all my color matching efforts (or even more, my expensive art degree). A few weeks later I heard they were going to announce the winners by email. I kept checking my email that night, refreshing, checking my spam inbox, checking my second email address just in case. But as time went on without any email, my heart began to sink and the next day I found out I didn’t win. I was kinda bummed. Maybe I wasn’t that good of an artist anyway. But after seeing the rest of the entries and how fun and creative some of them were, I felt a lot better about it. I guess It was fun to do, and, well, at least mommy still thinks I’m a good artist.
Isaac likes to stick out his tongue. He’s learned whenever he does that, people do it back, so it’s his new found way of saying hello.
Isaac turned one last month and we had this mini celebration in the living room with grandma and a vegan banana cake which mommy baked. We went to this vegetable picking family farm and we made it to their animal show. Isaac had his characteristic neutral expression throughout the day. He still kinda just looks around whenever we go out. I’d like to think he’s forming complex thoughts about the world in his baby brain but who knows.
Father’s Day was yesterday. We decided to go to the zoo since the weather was uncharacteristically mild and it was both Isaac’s and Mommy’s first time. She was impressed (compared to the other zoos she’s been to). I think Isaac liked looking at the other zoo-goers more. I guess we don’t get out a whole lot so people are still fascinating to stare at. There were a few animals he seemed to like – giraffes, sea otters, and goats – all of which he was able to see pretty close. I guess that’s why children’s petting zoos are such a hit. That big tiger way over there behind the bush? Not as interesting as the chain link fence in front of him.
Isaac’s been more attached to me than mommy or grandma for some reason. He cries when I leave the room and can sense when I’m about to leave, comes over and lifts himself onto me. I always have to come back and hold him for a bit before I have to go. I’d being lying if I said that being his favorite doesn’t make me feel special.
It’s been a rough year. Lots of crying and sleepless nights and trip to the doctors and itching and arguments over this and that. There was a period of time we were really stressed about his weight and how little he eats but we learned to be ok with his small size. I don’t know, I’ve really liked being a father despite how little time there is for anything else. I haven’t been really drawing anymore and feel my skills are a bit rusty. I haven’t made anything that I care to show others. But I’m fine with that. My time with Isaac just feels more rewarding.
The days seem to go by without any breaks. Wake up, come to our senses, moisturize and feed baby silently hoping that he is gaining weight and eats at least six ounces before he stubbornly holds his mouth shut. Then clean him up and more moisturizing, pass baby off before working, maybe taking breaks to attend to him after he wakes from his naps. End of the work day, feed him, bath time, make or get dinner, do laundry Maybe finish up some work emails, maybe shower, put things back in place. Get ready to sleep for hopefully a few hours before baby wakes up and one of us sleeps with him in his room, mainly for our sake because it’s tiring having to wake up and attend to him so frequently at night.
At times, Lauren and I feel we’re both at the end of our rope and I joke that we should both leave our jobs to properly take care of him. He is growing though. He’s more active and crawling and proping himself up on things, and then turning around to look at us with a big grin of accomplishment and no matter how tired we are we get so excited too. But he get fussy. When we leave him alone. When he wakes up from his naps or sleep, all itchy. We seem to have tried every lotion under the sun for his eczema but I’ve lost hope that anything will drastically change his condition.
When he gets fussy while feeding him or putting him down for too long, we sometimes take him out back or pace with him in the driveway and he always calms down. It seems like there’s just so much to see outside and he’s quiet looking at the leaves blow in the wind, tracking the birds fly, hearing car doors close. Maybe there’s just so much more unpredictable activity outside that he’s just trying to take it all in. For Lauren and me, it’s just a nice to time to sit down, relax, and watch our baby become cute again.
Isaac itches his face a lot. He itches right when he wakes up and when he’s tired. He wakes himself up every night by itching himself which makes him even more itchy and awake. We try to hold his arms down when we can. Even if we leave him alone for a minute of scratching he could have all these cuts on his head and chin from his fingernails, which makes Lauren sad and makes me frustrated at how helpless everything seems. He’s pretty uncomfortable most of the time, except when he’s well rested and well fed during the day time.
Over Christmas we did get some time to spend with extended family. It was nice to watch him watch his cousins and other relatives, and it was a new experience for him being around so many other people. He also doubled the number of toys he has so he has more things to put in his mouth. He doesn’t seem to be very possessive about his toys; he likes playing for a while but likes to just be picked up too. I do want him to like spending time with people more than his toys, but sometimes I just don’t have the energy and would almost rather him be content with his toys.
I was asked what are some things that make him smile. Our go-to’s are peekaboo and counting/singing to five on my fingers. Sometimes, making happy faces makes him smile too.
Sometimes Isaac plays this game with us. It’s called how many times can I wake Mommy and Daddy up during the night. Some nights he doesn’t do to well but more often then not he’s able to get consistent high scores. He’s very talented. I like to think I also play this game with him when I’m putting him to sleep called Whoever Goes to Sleep First Loses. Sometimes games go on for a while but I usually win this one.
For Halloween, Mommy made Isaac a ghost costume using her new sewing machine. I think she wants to make him a costume every year, the way Mommy’s Mommy made her a costume. The sewing machine was sort of a birthday gift. She bought it right around the time of her birthday and it was the easiest present I’ve ever given her. I didn’t even have to buy it! But I did end up painting her something. I wasn’t too happy with how it came out since it was of Isaac, Mommy and Me, all happy putting him down at night, which wasn’t realistic at all. The one painting I didn’t draw myself as a hedgehog and the least realistic of them all.
Over Thanksgiving break we saw this adorable outfit at Target and thought it would be great to take some of him in it for holiday photos. Since all of his clothes so far has been hand-me-downs or gifts, this was one of the first outfits we actually bought for Isaac. It was pretty cute on him but a little rougher than his normal clothes and he was squirming and itching himself when he first put it on. The suspenders must have felt weird too. When he looks at himself in the mirror, I don’t think he has any concept of how cute he is, and maybe that’s part of what makes him so super cute. But what’s strange is that I don’t have any concept of how cute I am, and I’m still not nearly as cute. Ah well. When we went outside for a walk one day, a neighbor jokingly commented on how we share similar hairstyles. Cuts deep, man.
Taking Christmas photos of Isaac was very involved. Moving the tree around the house for the best lighting before deciding on the family room, setting up the footstool and putting a red blanket over it to match the holiday theme, making sure he doesn’t topple over, moving the couch backwards so people don’t question why there’s a tree right in front of a couch, removing the distracting painting in the background, setting up the tripod outside to shoot through the open sliding door. Adjusting the aperture to be open enough for a decently fast shutter speed and that shiny bokeh, but closed enough to hopefully get all the faces in focus. It’s all very meticulously planned. I’m not sure how worth it the whole thing even was. In the end, the photos outside turned out better.
Overall, the last couple months have been tough. We still haven’t gotten a lot of sleep, Isaac still itches like crazy all over, and hasn’t really adjusted well to either formula or solids. Sometimes Mommy and Daddy look at Facebook and see the wonderful progress everyone else’s little ones are making and we have to remind ourselves not to look at Facebook again. Still, as mentally, physically, and maritally taxing the whole thing has been, we probably wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
I try to read to him every day when he gets up but I haven’t felt like it lately. So sometimes I sit him in his new chair facing the backyard and he just looks out the window like an old man. And I rest in the rocking chair behind him watching him like a real old man. I like pushing him around the house in his chair too. There’s something funny about him just sitting in his mini go-cart/chair and moving around the house expressionless.
Sometimes In the mornings I strap him to my chest and we take a walk around the neighborhood. He’s been going out more and we even took him to the park last weekend. He just stares at things and I just stare at him and we walk around the park until it’s time to go home.
Right before we left the hospital with Isaac for the first time, the doctor was telling us how things would be … decades from now. He started off talking about jaundice and some health precautions, then continued on about parenting in general and what to expect. He was saying how children would take on their parent’s principles and values up until they become teenagers and then they start forming their own principles and values which still stay somewhat malleable up until age 35 or so. The doctor asked us our ages and then told us Lauren’s values and principles are still in the process of changing while mine are pretty much set. I guess that means I’ll always like The Bachelor.
I was thinking of this when I turned 40, about the future, how much of Isaac’s life I might see, wondering if I’ll get to see him doing what I’m doing now, feeding a baby and holding him until he sleeps. It’s nice to see him wake up, see mommy and daddy’s faces and smile while cooing but I guess he’ll eventually outgrow all of this. I hope he still keeps his fascination with the world, even if it’s more than ceiling fans and changing lights.
There have always been some small issues that came up with Isaac. He would have a weak cry, have baby acne and cradle cap, have trouble turning his head one way, have an infection on his tongue. Most turned out to be nothing much. But they’ve all been a little stressful to us as parents. Sometimes Lauren and I would disagree on the best way to take care of him, even though there isn’t really a right way.
Isaac is almost two months old now! He’s been growing and sleeping and pooping and looking a lot at the overhead fans around our house. Maybe they’re the most interesting things to look at when we cradle him in our arms (I like to think our faces are a close second).
One thing I’m noticing about these baby photos and baby photos in general is they never seem to quite capture the hectic energy of trying to take care of a crying infant while struggling with breastfeeding and cooking and cleaning on little sleep. Or that feeling of desperation when you have him cradled in your hands and you have to scratch your nose or go to the bathroom and you wonder if it’s worth the risk of waking him up. Or that fatigue that sets in when you realize the only way to calm him is to do these mini squats with your legs bouncing him up and down and your legs feel like they just went up 10 flights of steps (even as the Aranda Center Squat champion of 2013). Mommy and I tried to do it on our own for the first month but we were running out of steam and now my mom is coming regularly on weekdays. It’s really nice for us both to be able to take a breather from things and not feel guilty that we’re burdening each other.
I have been able to run errands and escape the house here and there. I got a few teeth fillings the other day and all I could think about was holding Isaac and all his funny blank expressions.