Thursday, November 30, 2006

Donation Corner: Helping Others Help Themselves

For the month of December I'm spotlighting a charity known as Ready, Willing & Able. This program, which is connected to the Doe Fund, is a holistic, residential, work and job skills training program designed to help homeless become self-sufficient. RW&A has helped over 2,250 homeless men and women through drug programs, employment placement and housing. The program targets the segment of the homeless population considered the hardest to serve: single, able-bodied adults, the majority of whom have histories of incarceration and substance abuse. Criteria for acceptance into the program is that the applicant be ready, willing and able, both physically and mentally, to work and maintain a drug-free lifestyle. Those who come to Ready, Willing & Able do so because they are ready to ready to be productive and useful, and they are ready to take back control of their lives.

I have no problem giving to charities to help those who can't help themselves, but I feel one that teaches people how to get themselves out of the position of needing charity is a very deserving one. The greatest gift you can give is self-sufficiency and a sense of self-worth. Ready, Willing & Able not only provides employment, but it teaches the trainees how to save money, pay bills, and obtain stable employment so they can support themselves and their families. If you feel so moved as to contribute, please click on the link above as there are many ways you can contribute.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More Than I Bargained For!

I'm realizing now just how easy I had it with my first pregnancy. I had really bad restless legs (to the point where I had to walk around the neighborhood 5 or 6 times each night right before bed if I even wanted to think about sleeping), I woke up 4 or 5 times each night, and I had some sciatica nerve pain towards the end, but that was it. This time around I've got full blown morning sickness. I now realize that it is no laughing matter! If I let my blood sugar get at ALL low (by that I mean if I don't consume calories every 2 hours) I get lightheaded and nauseous. GREAT! That works well for me! Also, my active lifestyle is making me sick too. When I go for a walk, or to the gym I feel lightheaded and more winded than I felt the whole time on the 2-Day Walk. Another bonus, since my workouts are my lifeline.

On a more positive note, Eli's "Big Brother" shirt got here today. The Big Reveal Part II will take place when we travel out west to see my family for Christmas. We figured we'd let Eli wear the shirt and tell the good news for us.


Lehr let Eli play with our camera for a few (supervised) minutes the other night. Surprise surprise...he knew EXACTLY where to look and put his hands to take a picture. If we had another camera I would take a picture of it, but we don't, so you'll just have to imagine the cuteness of a 1-year old holding up a big camera to his face.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

If He Walks Like an Ape and Talks Like An Ape...

In addition to Eli's monkey crawl, he's now correctly telling me what 'the monkey says' on a regular basis. (He's also signing 'pig', which is a new development.) Here is some video. Instead of "ooh ooh ooh. Eee eee eee.", Eli prefers "ooh. eee. ooh. eee." Also, today I dropped Eli off at the church for an hour so I could get my hair did. I really don't think he recognized me when I returned to collect him; he stared at me intently, but without running over to me for a few minutes. Anyway, on to the video of my son: the chimp:

Monday, November 27, 2006

Simon Says

Eli is still mimicking anything and everything he sees Lehr and I do. It started with him attempting to tighten his shoes/bar at night, but it has since progressed to many things. Eli loves to try to put hats on his head and socks or shoes on his feet. However, his way of putting socks on includes laying the sock on top of his foot. (Hey, it's still cute!!) The latest is Eli trying to brush his hair. This week he was staring so intently at my comb while I used it that I decided to let him have a 'look-see' when I was done. He then brought the comb to his head and tried to run it through his hair.

The next day he pulled his cowboy hat out of his closet and put it on his head. Nothing out of the ordinary there, but he proceeded to crawl around the upstairs and play for over ten minutes, all the while leaving the hat on his head. Also, in addition to taking out the trash for us on Thanksgiving, Eli tried to help Lehr vacuum last night. He seriously stood and held the handle while trying to move it back and forth. It's amazing what a sponge he is these days, but it means Lehr and I will have to be on our best behavior in front of him from now on!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What Are You Thankful For?

I'm thankful that Eli is finally starting to pull his weight around here by doing some chores!

Unfortunately, this was one of the only happy moments we had all day. It seems Eli has croup and he has been beside himself with misery today.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Donation Corner: Giving Back

It appears Eli is finally going to be able to repay Dr. Ponseti for the correction of his feet. Most of you know that I keep a page dedicated to the progress Eli's feet have made (right side bar), where I post pictures and video of his feet over time. In the past month a woman working with a professor at the University of Iowa (Dr. Ponseti's home) has contacted me with a request to use before and after pictures of Eli's feet. Since we feel so fortunate that everything has gone so smoothly (which we credit Dr. P with, in addition to Dr. Morrissy, since he invented the technique), I happily sent on the photos. I was told they would be used in a presentation to inform and impress potential donors, who would hopefully then give money to the International Ponseti Foundation. The assistant then contacted me again informing me that she had also forwarded on the short video I made of Eli's transformation to this professor and a doctor who works along side of Dr. Ponseti. Apparently the prof called her right back praising the video and asking her if I'd be willing to allow them use of it for further presentations.

At this point I'm already excited to be a part of helping this incredible doctor become more well-known. The professor, who is also the chairman of the Ponseti Association, and I exchanged a few emails and then spoke on the phone about what exactly was needed. It was so wonderful to hear even more about the doctor Lehr and I think is so amazing. The professor confirmed everything Lehr and I had read and heard about Dr. P, and even managed to make him appear more hero-like in my eyes. It was so great to hear that this 92-year old doctor is still in the clinic four days per week, answering at least 120 emails every day on top of seeing all of the patients that travel from all over the world to see him.

Back to how this affects Eli: the professor liked the video so much that he hopes to have it playing (along with other informational clips) on a loop in the waiting room in the clinic, in hopes of putting the families there at ease about the process their child is about to go through. Also, he would like to use the video and pictures in the presentation they will be giving in a few weeks at a Wealth & Giving Forum.

The presentation, which they have been working on for two years, is one that will hopefully result in large corporations, such as Nike and Johnson & Johnson, donating services and materials to help with clubfoot patients in third world countries. In places such as Africa, children born with this defect are without hope. Their only means of survival is education, but the only way to attend school is to walk miles and miles. Untreated, children born with clubfeet cannot walk properly, if at all. This obviously means no school, which moves them further down the food chain in their world. I find this incredibly tragic, especially considering that the costs for materials to fix the feet (casts and bar/shoes) would only amount to $60/child.

Another goal of this presentation is to further inform the medical community of the success rate of Ponseti's non-surgical treatment. Several long-term studies have been done in recent years proving that even physicians not specializing in podiatry or orthopedics can be trained to correctly apply casts and the bar/shoes with a very high (at least 98%) success rate.

I know, blah blah...Nicole's back on another cause. If you haven't read any of my attachments or links related to Dr. Ponseti so far, here is yet another one; this one explains a little about why Dr. P is convinced that the non-surgery route is the easiest, most successful treatment of club feet. (A side note: In the last year I have come in contact with many parents who went the surgical route first, or saw a doctor that tried casting, but didn't receive correct training from Ponseti. I have yet to hear a success story from them. Either they are still trying to undo what the original doctor did with incorrect casting, or they are going for multiple surgeries (sometimes after the child is 4 or 5). The lucky ones realized quickly that Dr. Ponseti could help them, so they've flown to Iowa to seek his wisdom.) The Ronald McDonald house in Iowa houses most of these families, and Angel Flights help make travel accommodations for them. Dr. P doesn't turn anyone away, so his waiting room is always full which means the RMD house is always full. I will spotlight them in the next month or so, but if you are looking for a holiday donation to make this year, they are a well-deserving one!

In case you missed the video the first time around (or you're too lazy to click on the link to the right), here it is again!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Under the Weather

Eli woke up yesterday with a rather runny nose along with a severe drooling problem. These molars are giving him a time and a half! There is another (the fourth in a week) right under the gums on the bottom, so he's still got some pain ahead of him. The mucus/drainage has been so bad that he's started to cough a little too, so he's basically miserable. Anyway, I apologize for the lack of posts and pictures for the last few days, but there hasn't been much to report with a not-so-happy-toddler on my hands.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

QT With Daddy

I was gone most of the day today, so Eli and Lehr got a lot of one-on-one. Apparently they met up with Cooper and David, went to the park, and then went to Moe's for a free lunch. Not too shabby! Considering what a good time Eli (and Lehr) had, maybe I should leave them alone more often.

After dinner tonight Lehr did the dishes while I bathed Eli (we usually reverse those roles), so I got to see Eli in action in the tub. He is a one-man circus! He uses the washcloth as a hat constantly, which appears to be quite amusing to him. The whole time he was in the bath he had a washcloth-hat at least 75% of the time. What a goof!

Oh, and one more molar broke through yesterday; this one is on the bottom.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Papa, Can You Hear Me?

He's done it. Eli has gone and impressed the socks off of Lehr. Every night when Lehr comes home I hear the garage door open and ask Eli, "Do you hear that? Daddy's home." As I do this I sign "Daddy". For the last week Eli has started to mimic that sign, but usually only one time and not very accurately. Tonight he did it twice before Lehr walked into house and several times since. I think Lehr was speechless; he had no idea Eli was even close to knowing that sign.

Here is a short clip of one of Eli's first attempts earlier this week:

The Big Reveal Part I

So I planned a 'fun' way to tell Lehr the news: Eli and I bought a book titled "I'm a Big Brother" in hopes that Lehr would get the clue. Since I found out the news around lunchtime, it was a LONG day before Lehr came home....I am so not good at keeping big news like this in! Around 6PM, Lehr came home and we had dinner right away. It was ALL I could do not to tell him! But then I reminded myself that I'd dragged Eli and I out in the rain to get a book ....I needed to stick with the plan!! So after dinner I said, "Let's go upstairs before Eli's bath and play a little. We went into Eli's room and played with a few things. Then I said "Eli, do you want to show Daddy your new book? Where is it?" So Lehr is talking to Eli in 'daddy-voice' and asking him if he got a new book, etc. I opened the closet and try to coax Eli to grab the book but of course he doesn't. So Lehr comes over and tries to sit with him to read it. Lehr turned the book over and (in his daddy-voice) reads "I'm a Big....What??" The look on his face was PRICELESS!!! He said "Are you sure?" several times. Eli was looking at us like we were crazy; that poor kid has NO idea how much his world will change a year from now!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Redact! Redact!

(First off, if you don't watch The Office, you should. Especially the second season.)

So I post earlier about Eli being less-than-enjoyable for the last few weeks and then he goes and wakes up from his morning nap in a great mood. We spent an hour in his room after his slumber reading, playing with blocks, and just goofing around in general. While we were in there he looked out the window and started signing "flower". Sure enough, there were flowers a few doors down that he could see: he knows he can hit a soft spot with me when he displays intelligence! Then he proceeded to make "ooh. eee." sounds (like a monkey) for me. Melted my bad mood right away.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Calgone....You Know The Drill

This teething stuff is obviously hard work. Otherwise someone came in to my house one night and switched out my baby for a more whiny, easily-bored, complaining one. (I hope it's the former.) Eli is such a mess....I play with him and he whines, I leave him alone and he whines, I take him for a walk and he whines, I feed him and he whines. Do you see a pattern here? It's one of those times when I wish he could talk a little more to tell me what is causing his mood and 'tude. If it is pain, I'll give more meds or at least be sympathetic. If it's need for attention, I'll give it...just tell me!!

Here We Go Again...

After trying for just a month it appears we are expecting again. Just like with Eli, I'm completely shocked which seems quite contradictory, but I am. Of course because I got this news today Eli has been out of sorts causing me great stress and concern over the thought of adding another to the mix. Gotta love that! Eli and I went to Barnes & Noble this afternoon to buy a book titled: "I'm a Big Brother" to 'give' to Lehr tonight as a way of telling him. Last time I didn't do anything neat or creative, so I tried harder this go-round. My first appointment is set for the first week of December and I'm relieved it is so soon. I'm not sure how it's possible since it has been just over a year, but I've really forgotten most of the do's and don'ts that I was so versed in when I was pregnant just over a year ago. I guess it's true that children make you lose your mind!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

So Much for Separation Anxiety!

So I decided to enroll Eli in a Mothers' Morning Out program at a local church. I'm not committed to any set number of days, but the plan is to bring Eli there once/week for a few hours. The only 'non-mommy' time Eli gets is on Sundays when he is in the church nursery, so I wanted to increase that time a little in the spirit of gradual transition from 100% Mommy Time to Pre-school in a few years. (Yes, I'm aware that at this rate the gradual will be V E R Y gradual.) I planned to only leave him there for two hours max today, so that he could get used to it. (However, on my return visit I overestimated how long the drive would take and ended up cutting Eli's time to only 90-minutes.) When I brought Eli to the classroom he clung to me for a fleeting moment until he spotted a walker identical to one he has at home and crawled over as quick as he could. He never looked back.... When I went to pick him up, I had to search to find him as he was in a pile of toys, totally engrossed. Once we made eye-contact he held up the wooden banana he was playing with, said "Nana", and returned to playing. Since there were no tears, even upon re-entry, I think I can safely say that Eli will enjoy his next visit when I leave him a bit longer.

Monday, November 13, 2006


So last night Eli had another meltdown, very similar to last week's incident that ended in some blanket QT for Eli in his crib. Lehr was home to witness this one, and he was just as baffled as I. Once he calmed down we brought him back to the table to eat some dinner before we bathed him and sent him to bed. This morning Eli was a little testy also. Right before his morning nap I found the culprit: two molars have popped through. The poor kid was probably in major pain! I've been wondering when more teeth would show, since his moodiness HAD to be a symptom of teething (I refused to believe it was just Eli's new 'personality'). Anyway, now we can be certain the cause of some of his recent temper tantrums and meltdowns. Also the reason we've had a lot of sullen faces posing for pictures this last week.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Halloween, Take II

We planned on trick-or-treating with Cooper on Halloween night, but sickness foiled those plans, so tonight the boys got dressed up in their costumes again so we could get pictures of them together. Strangely enough, the best photos of both boys came when they switched costumes. Eli started as a pumpkin and Cooper came dressed as Dumbo. But once Cooper put on the orange suit, he strutted around like he was in a fashion show. And as much as Eli loves his pumpkin costume, the ears on Dumbo were quite intriguing to him.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Welcome to the Monkey House

So Eli is normally a monkey. He's all over the place. He makes funny noises. He makes odd faces while eating. He crawls like an ape. He climbs up and down anything he can.

But today he was a monkey for other reasons. This morning I took him to his first gym class at The Little Gym. His music class is over and I figured before we started swim lessons again we'd try something new. (If I don't get out and see other adults once a week I go nuts, and I've learned that Eli feels the same if he doesn't get out and see other kids. We are trying to rotate activities so we always have something going on, but only one thing per week, as to not overwhelm our bank account or Eli.) From the minute we walked in, Eli was in awe. Mats and bars and beams a plenty. As far as thee eye can see. Once we entered the play area Eli made a bee-line for the lowest balance beam, which he scurried under at breakneck speed. (Eli often crawls under any obstacle he can. Last week I found him crawling under the shorter side of our kitchen chairs, just for kicks.) The class started with a few songs/activities on the main mat, but Eli was far too busy investigating the equipment for most of that. There were a few structured activities on the equipment. Eli passed the first one with flying colors. The kids were to walk sideways on the balance beam (with an adults support around their waist, of course.) I didn't even have to prompt Eli's feet, as the instructor told us to. She was so surprised she even asked me how long he'd been taking gym classes (which he hasn't). I figure the dexterity he displayed comes from hours of inching around the guest bed, the coffee tables, the walls, etc. in our home.

The second part of Eli's monkey transformation today was in the form of speech. We've been working on animal sounds forever, but with no distinguishable comprehension. Today as we were reading a book with pictures of monkeys, I said to Eli, "Monkeys say 'Oo Oo Oo Oo. Ee Ee Ee Ee'." Eli looked at me and said "Oo Ee Oo Ee". I pulled out a few other books and went through the same process with the same results. Another case of Monkey See, Monkey Do.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Letting Off Some Steam

So after last week's *challenge* with Eli not seeing Lehr two nights in a row, I decided to make the most of today, since Lehr would get home after Eli went to sleep. Luckily, the weather in Atlanta was very accommodating: sunny and 70 degrees. Eli and I went for a walk by the river after lunch so he could see all of the dogs and ducks. And after his nap we went to a new playground near our house. Lehr has taken him a few times, but this was my first visit. It is WONDERFUL for younger kids because all of the raised areas are completely closed in by wood fences (no space at all), so I can let him climb inside without worry of him falling and hurting himself. Eli had a blast climbing to the top of the slide and then going down all by himself. I tried to show him how to turn his body around once he got to the top so that he would slide down feet first, but once left alone he *forgot* and went down head first. He seemed to have a blast either way....

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New PJs

Now that the temperatures are dipping I've had to re-vamp Eli's nighttime attire. During the summer we would just dress him in a diaper and a sleeveless cotton sleepsack (to protect the crib from his bar more than anything). He needs more than that now that winter is upon us. Eli has two long sleeved pajama-ish outfits from the spring that still fit him, but just barely. So on a weekend trip to Old Navy I picked up two new pair of 'big boy' pjs. Tonight Eli posed for several pictures in them as if he were in a photo shoot (wherever would he get that idea?!?!)....kneeling and putting his back to us, only to turn around and look over his shoulder at the camera. What a poser!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pumpkin Love

Eli loves his Halloween costume. Plain and simple.

Since Halloween Eli's pumpkin costume has been on the floor in his closet (the closet floor is the 'pile' of outgrown clothing to be boxed up). Well, one of Eli's favorite games is to open his closet doors and play with all of the items in there: his shoe basket, his cowboy hat, his extra diapers, and now his pumpkin costume. About a week ago I noticed that the first thing Eli would do when he opened the closet door was giggle and crawl right over to the costume (the puffy pumpkin part) and lie his head down on it to snuggle.

Oh, and Eli started signing "bath" this week....this kid is on a roll! I couldn't get him to do it for the camera, but he did sign "flower" on command for me today:

Monday, November 06, 2006

Donation Corner: Never-ending Need

In case you haven't noticed there is a link to the right of this post for a grassroots organization called Emergency Communities. Their work in the relief efforts after Katrina have continued to help the many affected. This is a cause very near to our hearts as we have loved New Orleans and appreciated its culture for many years. There used to be a link underneath that one to the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer. Now that the walk is over, I've removed the link, but I still feel strongly about that cause also. I've come to realize that there are many charities and organizations that I want to help by way of listing them on Eli's site, but I worry that such a long list will overwhelm my readership. In an effort to remedy this, I plan to change my "Donation Corner" at the beginning of each month. I'll do my best to choose charities/organizations that are truly worthy, and if you would like to suggest one to me, I'd be glad to read up on it.

This month I'm going to maintain the Emergency Community link. I know it's been over a year since Hurricane Katrina, but there is still SO MUCH to be done in the Gulf communities. Thank you to everyone who has supported or will support any of the causes on Eli's website. You are making a difference!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Eli has had a pretty uneventful few days. His teeth have been bothering him more than normal (though I fully realize the first two years he will ALWAYS be teething), so there have been some fussy days in recent past. On Friday Eli spent the entire morning (from 9:15am until 11:00am when we had to leave for his music class) in his crib. It was not a punishment; it was completely Eli's preference and choice. In the midst of breakfast Eli started pitching a major fit and didn't stop when I took him out of his high chair, when I put him down, when I picked him up, when we went get the picture. Finally I thought, "I'll put him in his crib for a minute to see if that calms him and then we'll move on from there." (Note: Eli has a blanket that he sleeps with that he absolutely loves. (I've nicknamed it the "magic" blanket.) It's use is restricted to the crib only though, except for rare exceptions like a plane ride. Sure enough, once he was in the crib with his blanket he immediately calmed. Even though he wasn't acting tired, and he'd only been up for 45 minutes with a full 12-hour night's sleep under his belt, he put his head down and stuck his thumb in his mouth. (That is another trick of the blanket. Eli doesn't typically suck his thumb, but once he sees or feels his blanket, the thumb is like a magnet to his mouth.) So he calmed and reached out his arms like he wanted out of the crib. I picked him up but he was barely over the rail when he started to complain again and reach back for his crib. We repeated this three or four times before I realized he just wanted to be in there and he was happier in there. I walked away and started laundry, coming back to check on him every few minutes. He was happy as a clam, singing, humming, pointing...all the while clutching his blanket. That kid stayed in there (un-entertained by me) for almost two hours. He did nod off at the end, getting a short little snooze before we left, but for the most part, he was awake, disproving any theory I might have had about him being tired. Go figure...sometimes this kid just wants to lie around in bed all day!

Another oldie but goodie in his crib: his aquarium. Eli not only knows how to turn it on and off, but he knows how to adjust the volume and how to change the 'station'. (There is a button to toggle the music/sounds available). It is rare for me to come into Eli's room in the morning and not find Eli lying on his blanket, on his stomach with his knees under him and his thumb in his mouth as he stares at the aquarium which he turned on minutes before.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Fish Out of Water

Eli and I went to the Georgia Aquarium today. It's been so neat to see how much more he gets into the fish and other aquatic life each time we go. Today he was so excited to see the sea lions as they zoomed past him in their tank. Also the tropical fish caught his eye; he watched them swim around and around for a good ten minutes.

I've mentioned before how much Eli likes the water to run for his entire bath. We usually fill the tub up enough for his bath and then let the water drip for the remainder. His favorite activity is placing his open mouth underneath the stream of water. It doesn't matter if the water is dripping or on full blast - he wants to drink. Since I usually let Lehr bathe Eli his 'new' trick might not be that new, but yesterday was the first time I noticed it, so my label is sticking for now. I often place the wet washcloths on Eli's back or head, like a cape or hat. He usually pulls it right off, but last night he put it back on his head again and again. Tonight he repeated this trick for me several times.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs....

I forgot to mention Eli's newest sign in the post about our trip: flower. This is a sign that has been viewed by Eli at least three times each day since I began signing with him because of Eli's love for flowers. Everytime we go to the grocery store we stop at the flowers outside and/or inside so Eli can point and giggle. Last week we came upon some flowers and Eli started to move his hand near his nose (as close to the sign for "flower" that I've ever seen from him), prompting Lehr to recognize this as Eli communicating. He's also become more specific with his "more" signs. When I'm feeding him from two bowls at home he'll sign "more" and then point to which bowl he wants "more" from. (Quite demanding, isn't he?) Also, his "please" has become more frequent. We still have to request it from him, but he complies more often now. Like most of his signs, "please" is not quite correct. Instead of rubbing his heart, he rubs his stomach.