Sunday, April 30, 2006

Drop Me Off In New Orleans...

(Yes, another song title.)


As most of you know, Lehr and I have gone to New Orleans for Jazz Fest each year starting in 2000. This year was no different; Eli experienced the wonderful city for the first time this last weekend. (Actually he did go last year, but he was still in my stomach, so it didn't really count.) For those that haven't attended Jazz Fest, it is a great celebration that lasts two weekends. We attended the first, so if you don't have plans for next weekend, a road trip is in order...

This was Eli's first long-distance drive, so we didn't' know what to expect (other than the unexpected). All in all, it was a success. The drive there was a cake walk, considering we only stopped once for lunch and he napped most of the time. The ride home was a little more trying, but we know it could have been (and probably will be someday in the future) worse.

The fest itself was amazing; I dare say it was the best I've attended. We had Chamber of Commerce weather, unbelievable food, and great company (Eli's Godfather David and "Uncle" Tom went with us). On top of all that, despite the horrific year the residents have had, their spirit is still strong. The performers were passionate and the people on the street were just as friendly, if not more so. The first day we camped out for Eli's first Cowboy Mouth performance (My highlight of the weekend; if you've never seen them perform you are missing out.), and followed that up with a show put on by the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra led by Irvin Mayfield (joined by Kermit Ruffins and Trombone Shorty). The second day resembled a wind storm, so we moved a few times to avoid the dust and debris flying around (I think Eli still has dirt in his ears). Our final destination was the tent where the Herbie Hancock Quartet performed. The rest of the time was spent walking around from music tent to food tent to arts and crafts tent taking in all of the wonderful sights, smells, and sounds of NOLA. Despite his best efforts to stay awake and take everything in, Eli did give in and nap a few times in the backpack, but not before he tasted his first red beans and rice, witnessed his first Big Chief parade, and purchased his first Jazz Fest t-shirt (which won't fit him until he's at least 5).

If you aren't convinced after reading about the best outdoor festival this country has to offer (and possibly the best music shows you'll ever see), we also had some great dining experiences. Jacques-Imo's turned out to be a phenomenal dinner spot, but get there early or you'll wait in a long line. Savvy Gourmet (run by a friend of ours) is not just a cooking school, but also a great place to grab a quick lunch. I highly recommend their veggie sandwich.

We weren't able to take any extra driving time around town to check out areas that were hit the worst by Katrina, but you don't have to look far to see the devastation. As we drove into town you could see neighborhoods from the highway that were still deserted. Many of them were in various stages of repair, with FEMA trailers out front of each house which, I assume, are for the families to live in until their house is livable again. Several of these neighborhoods had dozens of piles of debris throughout. I saw businesses and restaurants still boarded up, or worse, broken into and demolished inside by the storm and looters. Our hotel was downtown, and most of the buildings in that area weathered Katrina pretty well from what we could see. However, many stores and restaurants are still closed because there aren't enough people in New Orleans: people as patrons and people as employees. The desk clerk at our hotel told us they were short-staffed, and a friend of ours who lives nearby told us many restaurants near her house close at 8PM due to lack of staff. Some of these establishments are re-opening, but it is a slow process. This past weekend was the first time Preservation Hall re-opened it's doors. Even in the areas that are habitable, houses still bear the infamous spray-painted "X" and tarps cover most of the rooftops.

It really hit home for me how close we came to losing one of the most culturally-rich cities we have in the United States. It saddens me to see such depression and devastation in a place that used to exude nothing but life and happiness. I hope by the time Eli is old enough to remember, NOLA will have returned, stronger than ever... If you haven't donated time, goods, or money to the relief efforts in the Gulf areas yet, I strongly urge you to join me in doing so. I've added a link to the right to make it easy for those that might not have had the time to seek a worthy organization. This link will take you to a grassroots local organization dedicated to rebuilding one of the greatest cities I've ever visited.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Doctor, Doctor...

Yes, I often title my blogs after songs...

Eli had his 6-month DBB check up with the pediatric orthopedist this morning, followed by a trip to the orthotist. Dr. M said he doesn't see any sign of relapse (Oh Happy Day!!), and Eli's feet are doing great. Same prescription as before: he needs to have the bar on most of the time and once he starts to crawl he can scale back to only nights and naps. We went across the hall to the orthotist afterwards to get a larger size shoe. Eli's current shoes fit fine, but since we don't have to go back to Dr. M until the end of July, we figured we should stock up since we were there anyway.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Splish, Splash..

Eli has once again graduated to a new bathtub. Since he had his casts on for the first nine weeks, he was only allowed sponge baths, modified slightly. Then when the casts came off, we used an infant tub, but only for a week or so, as Eli was too big for it. Since then, he's bathed in our big bathtub with one of us in there with him. Now that Eli is a professional sitter-upper-by-himself (yes, those are real words), I figured it was time to move him to his own bath (previously the guest bathtub). Tonight was his maiden voyage. The new bathmat on the bottom of the tub was the main point of interest for Eli, but the whole experience in general seemed to leave him wide-eyed. Not only was he alone in the water, but he is in a different bathroom. A bathroom that, despite the fact that he passes through there with me at least once a day, seemed completely foreign to him.

Food, Glorious Food

Eli has tried several new foods recently. His Cheerios grab-and-eat technique has improved tremendously; yesterday he got four to his mouth successfully. He figured out that if he grabs the Cheerio and places it in his fist, he then has to open his fist in order to make the transfer to his mouth. Smart lad...

I also gave him his first rice cake (go ahead and groan now, but I love 'em). I broke off 1/3 of a plain one I was eating and gave it to him. Much as you'd expect, after five minutes of gumming, the item previously known as a rice cake was a disgusting piece of goo.

Lentils made it onto the menu this week. Eli will eat them, but only because he loves to eat. Even after three days, he still makes a hideous face once he swallows. On a trip to Harry's this afternoon, we were able to sample cantaloupe for the first time. I skewered a piece with a toothpick and offered it to Eli so he could lick/gum/whatever at his leisure while I pushed the cart. Before you call DFACS, I did not give my 8-month old son a toothpick. That was the one time I was thankful for Eli's preference to be lazy and have me hold his food for him as he eats. Otherwise, he would have squished the melon all over his hands, outfit, and hair by the time we finished shopping, much like he did with the Cheerios yesterday.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Weekend Update

Eli got in some quality time with Cooper this weekend. I guess he realized he's going to be surrounded by adults all next weekend, so baby face-time was in order. It's so interesting to see the two interact one minute, and then be completely unaware of each other the next. I came across some video of the two of them from a few months ago...the boys were interacting so much that at one point they rolled into one another (they were on their backs) and had a 'hug', and then later Eli stuck out his hand and Cooper sucked on his thumb. Can you think of a better Hallmark moment?

Friday, April 21, 2006

A Monkey, A Caterpillar, And A Wild Tongue

"I'll take 'Three Random Thoughts' for $1000, Alex."
"Three New Eli Videos for $200."

I posted a blog on Tuesday about Eli's long-awaited milestone of rolling from his stomach to his back, and then his ability to spin in circles. This has continued, and today he finally demonstrated that he can roll even with the bar. Bad news for him: this means I will no longer be conned by his "help me" cries when he's rolled over in his crib.

Eli has also developed the greatest belly laugh (and I'm not biased because I'm his mom), so I also posted a video clip of that today.

A Monkey
For some reason Eli has a fascination with scratching the top of his head. I had him in his blue chair this week and couldn't resist capturing it on film. He gives the strangest look and then throws his hand over his head and scratches, exactly like the primates you might find in your local zoo.

A Caterpillar
When my mom and nephew visited us in March, they stopped at Cracker Barrell and picked out a crazy caterpillar toy for Eli. It's cute, and it moves, but it is CRAZY loud and there is no volume control. (Lehr and I think it is loud; Grandma says we're just getting started with the loud toys.) The other day when Eli was fussier than normal, I pulled the noise-maker out and turned on the camera. Just by luck the toy went right to Eli at which point he picked it up and started to inspect it. He seemed quite confused by the way it moved...

A Wild Tongue
I just uploaded a clip of Eli in his high chair not attempting at all to control his tongue and his urge to smack his lips. I'm not sure where he picked this up, since this is one of the few odd noises I haven't demonstrated for him. I can only guess that he's gaining more control over how his tongue and mouth work, and he wanted to show it off. He's been doing this for about a week now, in and out of his high chair, along with some crazy 'pppbblllllll' noises (think an elephant). Unfortunately, Eli knows when the camera is on and he refuses to perform.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Rave on

Today was obviously a big day for Eli...

It appears Eli either a) was a raver in a past life, or b) is a future raver. Grandma Cathie gave Eli two rubber rings that light up (strobe-like) when squeezed. Today he discovered how to put them in his mouth (club-kid style) and turn them on. I guess the day-glow necklaces and clothing comes next?

Look Out!

This little boy is on the move!

So Eli finally figured out how to roll from stomach to back the other day. Great. Stop there and let me adjust for a few weeks, please. I should know by now that I don't get to dictate when and how Eli will move on to the next phase in his life, but obviously I'm a slow learner. So today I have Eli down on the ground doing some independent play while I'm on the computer finalizing the Eli's Feet blog. Eli is sitting and playing, then he free-falls back and plays on his back, and then he rolls over to his stomach. Nothing new so far; this is the Eli I've learned to expect.

Then out of nowhere he starts rotating around in circles. Not Linda Blair style, but slow, methodical circles, keeping his belly button on the ground at all times. He doesn't realize I'm watching him (or he'd be sure to stop and play the helpless-baby), so he then proceeds to use his arms to push up (up-dog, yogis). Then he rolls 90% of his body over, so his back is on the ground (but his feet are still face down).

WHERE DID THIS COME FROM?!?! Guess I better open up that pack of outlet covers I bought a few months ago....

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What's All The Fuss?

If I didn't know better, I'd think Eli was a (moody) toddler after the day we've had. He's been whimpering and crying at every little thing! Maybe it's the rain, maybe it's teething, or maybe it's the fact that the Cubs lost last night...Regardless, I hope it's short lived! He actually conjured up tears when I gave him some plum slices to play with this afternoon. Let me re-phrase that: I gave him plum, and to get him interested, I put it to his lips (and he licked the plum) before I placed it on his high chair tray, at which point the tear factory started. It appears he expected me to stand there and hold the plum for him so he could explore it with his mouth; never mind the fact that he is 100% capable of holding the fruit himself (which he demonstrated quite well for 20-some minutes last night). When he realized that I wasn't going to be his personal fruit-holder, he whimpered a little and then picked up the fruit and entertained himself for a few minutes before crying AGAIN because one of the plum slices had fallen into his catch-all bib and he couldn't get it out. (NEWSFLASH: That's why I gave you multiple slices, Eli!!)

By this point you're probably thinking, "Man, is she in for a rude awakening when he hits 2!" Rest assured, I am aware of what is to come; Eli shows me on a daily basis that he will give me a run for my money in the stubborn department. He goes so far as to push my hands away when I try to show him how to sign...there's gratitude for ya!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'.....

It's about time! Today Eli rolled from his stomach to back for the first time. This peer pressure thing is great at the moment; I took him to the 'older' baby Mom & Me group this morning and that's when he checked that milestone off his list. When we got there I took his bar off so he could 'play' on the floor with the other babies, which really just consists of the other babies crawling (or walking) over Eli, stopping occasional to snatch the toy he's playing with (seriously, what's he going to do about it?). After about 10 minutes of sitting and playing, he bungee jumped back so he could be on the floor. He quickly rolled onto his stomach, but less than a minute later, he rolled right over to his back again. I thought I might have imagined it, but when he was on his stomach a few minutes later, he repeated his new trick.
Before you start giving him credit for being so smart, you should also know that just 10 minutes after his repeat performance, he got 'stuck' on his stomach again....the memory of a goldfish, I tell you.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Week in Photos

When Eli was born, and we decided I would quit my job to stay home with him, I worried about losing any skill set (applicable outside the home) I might have had. To try to maintain some 'office-worthy' brain cells, I threw myself into creating and maintaining a website for Eli. Then I decided to try to pick up a challenging 'hobby': photography. As much as I would love to take classes, it's not happening now that I've got a 2-foot cling-on with me at all times. So for now, learning will have to mean lots and lots (and LOTS) of practice. Thank God for digital cameras, because otherwise we would have gone broke due to film costs alone! Though I'm finding I'm able to take better pictures than I did when I started, it's not because I'm learning more about my camera; I'm just learning what lighting works better, what framing works better, etc. (I'm too lazy and too overwhelmed by the instruction manual of the camera to even tackle the many buttons available to me.) So with that said, this week's Ofoto submission of Eli is a big one: he had two 'photo shoots' with mom in the last 5 days. But with such a willing subject, can you blame me?


Friday, April 14, 2006

Sign of the Times

I really think Eli is starting to pick up this sign language thing; I could swear that he's been trying to communicate with me via his hands the last few days. Ok, Ok, so Lehr tells me (as does common sense) that I'm imagining things, but I think I'm right. I know when Eli starts to sign that it won't be clear what he's trying to do considering his less than complete control over his fingers, so when I say he's signing, I mean he's doing something with his hands. Every time I nurse him now (when I usually sign "milk" to him), he's been giving me a hand signal that I can only hope is his version of "milk". And when he's eating, he has been bringing his hand to his mouth (not to eat his fingers) a lot more, so again, I'm hoping he is signing "eat". See for yourself: here is a picture of Eli signing "I Love You".


I'm not sure how it's possible, but Eli's voice is already changing. Ok, I guess maybe it's not puberty yet, but he does have a deeper voice now. Usually when he's talking or singing he prefers to use his falsetto voice, which is quite cute and baby-ish. About a week ago Eli started using what I call the "Cooper-voice" (since Cooper's voice has always appeared to be lower than Eli's). He has become quite fond of starting out with a few 'AH!'s and then moving to loud yells. It's hard to tell him 'no', because he's not screaming out of frustration or anger; he's just experimenting with his new voice. I captured some video of the new octaves; it's on Eli's video page (which has a link to your right, and which also contains some Cheerios-chasing footage).

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Thrill of Fear

I've been playing peek-a-boo with Eli for quite some time now without much response. However, he loves this game when his daddy plays with him. Last week I discovered why: the game I play is not nearly as exciting as the knock-you-off-your-feet, take-your-breath-away, heart-racing excitement he gets from his father's version. Lehr crouches under the table, or just out of Eli's site and then pops up quickly shouting "PEEK-A-BOO" (or just "BOO") and scares the living daylights out of my son. Alas, in the process he also makes him laugh uncontrollably.... And yet this kid still cries when people laugh at or around him. Just last night Lehr was feeding Eli and started to chuckle at him at which point Eli froze, looked back and forth between the two of us (not moving anything other than his eyes) and then proceeded to wail the hurt-feelings cry. This kid better toughen up; he's got many years ahead of him of people laughing at him, if for no other reason than because of who his parents are...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Now that Eli's a pro at sitting up by himself, we often place him that way to play (rather than on his stomach or back, lying down). However, Mr. Bigshot hasn't figured out a smooth way to transition to the ground when he wants to get in some floor time. His solution? Throw his arms out to the side and lean back (a la bungee jumpers jumping off a bridge) making a loud thump noise when his head bounces off the floor. Luckily he's only done this upstairs (on carpet) so far. I fear the day he decides to base-jump downstairs where we have thin hardwood floors atop a concrete slab.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hold On!

I wouldn't trade Eli for anything in the world. And although I love every minute I spend with him, there is one thing I miss about my pre-Eli days. Before I even start, let me say that anyone who knows me knows that I am not into cars, both for what they look like and for what’s under the hood. That being said, I think the hardest adjustment to parenthood has been my new wheels. Before Eli, I drove a beautiful blue 2000 Honda Civic Si. This was the first car Lehr and I bought together, and when we retired the Nissan, Lehr got a new car and I happily took over as primary driver of the Honda (at which point I ‘installed’ Hawaiian seat covers, I hung a sea bean from the rearview mirror, and I immediately named the car “Betty”). I really love(d) that car; nothing made me more happy than to throw my bike on top, pop in a No Doubt CD, roll down the windows and just drive…. I knew this would have to change once Eli arrived. For starters, the car is a two-door, so maneuvering a car seat in and out of the back seat would be difficult. Then there is the whole ‘safety’ issue that Lehr kept trying to hammer into my head. I tried; I installed Eli’s seat in Betty and gave it a good few days, but after bruising myself even more than usual climbing in and out of the cramped back seat, I resigned. The car Eli and I cruise around in now, Earl, isn’t a bad car by any means. (“Earl” is a black, 4-door Acura RL.) It is, however, a sedan, and it is, however, ‘safe’ (read: B O R I N G). No seat covers, no sea bean, no stick-shift, too big, too grown-up… I know in my mind it is the right car to drive with Eli, but in my heart, I miss Betty every day….

This brings me to my Eli moment of the day. I had the opportunity to drive Betty a few times this weekend (I snuck out when Lehr and Eli had their backs turned), so when I got into Earl this morning to drive Eli to the park, I was still in Betty-mode as far as my driving goes. I didn’t really notice until I looked in the rearview to catch a glimpse of Eli holding on to the car seat handle as if it were a roll-bar and we were about to go down a bumpy road. Maybe I should stop driving Betty on the weekends; old habits are hard to break. It just made me realize that you can take the girl out of Betty, but you can’t take Betty out of the girl…

Also, Eli's second tooth popped through while he was sleeping; he now has a matching pair on the bottom. (If you look closely, you can see them.)

Monday, April 10, 2006


This weekend I bought Eli his first toothbrush. He's been chewing on everything in frustration over teething, so I figured why not help his oral hygiene at the same time? (Actually I though, 'My fingers need a break...what can I give him that is similar in size?'.) Eli looooves the toothbrush. He chews on it and sings at the same time as if to say "Haaa-llelujah!"; it obviously feels really good on his gums.

Eli's latest trick is manipulating Cheerios. I introduced them on Saturday and it's been a riot to watch him learn. Eli has still not perfected his pincer grasp, so for the first day all he did was push the little O's around on his chair tray. This activity kept him entertained for quite some time; it was as though he thought they were moving on their own, rather than moving because he pushed them. He was so intense in his pursuit! He's getting better; he can get them into his palm more often now, and every once in a while one will end up in his mouth. He's been practicing with baby puffs for a few weeks now, but they are a little larger, so the Cheerios have proven to be more difficult to pick up.

As I type, Eli is sitting on the floor next to me with a pile of toys untouched. He is swinging his arms up and down and then shoving his fists into his mouth as he giggles and smiles his huge snaggletooth (still only one!) grin, oblivious to the fact that he is the only one that gets the joke.

Friday, April 07, 2006

New Discoveries

I think my plan worked! I brought Eli to the older 'babies' Mom & Me meeting this week for the first time. (We missed all of last month due to swimming.) He was a pretty fussy since he's been working overtime to pop another tooth or two through his gums (no success yet). I was eager to bring him to the group in the hopes that he might pick up some pointers from the older, more mobile, babies. At the very least, hopefully he'd be shamed into rolling from his stomach to his back. Still no change on that front, but he was doing a bit of an inchworm this morning; more than he's ever done before! I had him on the floor in the guest room as I was tending to my email and he rolled onto his stomach and started playing. As usual, I look down and play with him every few moments and after 3 or 4 interactions I noticed him sticking his butt WAY up in the air. Almost to the point that he was standing on his feet (down-dog for fellow yogis out there). Looks like someone is practicing for his next meeting with the older kids....

Eli is becoming very aware that he can control what happens to his body, his face, his mouth, etc. He knows he has hands and he knows they can exert force! This week he's made it impossible to feed him, give him a sippy cup, take his temperature, change his diaper, clothe him...whatever he doesn't want, basically. The struggle begins.....

As I type, Eli is peacefully sleeping in his crib, like the angel he is. The poor guy has had a rough week; not much sleep and not many solids. (This teething stuff is hard work!!) He woke up from a full 12-hour slumber this morning in a great mood though, and he happily ate every bit of his breakfast (and lunch, which I gave him this morning because he still seemed hungry after his oatmeal). We started zucchini and papaya this week, both of which he seemed weary of in the beginning, but he appears to be coming around.