Sunday, September 30, 2007

She Slept Like a Log...

Maddux gave us a full 12 hours last night for the first time. We've been very pleased with her sleep thus far, but 8-10 hours was more the norm that we'd settled into, which meant I was normally up somewhere between 5-7AM for her first feeding. Today was 8:15: Hallelujah!!! This means she has less feedings each day, which could be a problem. Maddux seems to be smart though, since she upped her feeding time yesterday and today to make up the difference. She's now up to 30-minutes per feeding (go ahead and throw your stones now - I know that is not *long* by nursing mom standards). Now I've successfully jinxed myself for tonight and probably many nights to follow...signing off.

Baby Dedication

Maddux was dedicated in a ceremony at church this morning. We asked Cooper's parents, Dave and Carissa, to be her Godparents, and they happily accepted. Although she was much better behaved than Eli was during his ceremony, Maddux was still a little fussy while one of the pastors held her. Despite her awesome night of sleep, she had only cat-napped in the car on the way over, so she was a bit overtired. We had been unable to locate the christening gown for almost a month now. (This gown has been in my family for over 100 years; my dad wore it, my brother and I wore it, and Eli wore it.) By the sheer grace of God, less than an hour before we left the house this morning it turned up. Mad Dog's godparents, "D", Aunt Megan, Gamma Cappy, Gappa Jib, Treis (cousin), and GG (Eli and Maddux's great-grandma) were all there to celebrate with us this morning.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

Maddux is quite the flirt these days. I joked with Grandma Cathie that she warms to strangers so quickly because she is starved for attention at home. I do get to spend at least one of her 20-minute 'windows' each day completely focused on her, but between Eli and the house and everything else, she definitely does not get the undivided attention Eli got when he was her age. Which is probably why he didn't always smile at strangers in the beginning, and maybe it's why he cried when people laughed too hard...he knew he didn't have to impress outsiders because he got loads of attention from Mommy and Daddy.

Regardless, she loves when you sit and make eye contact and talk to her (who doesn't, right?). She smiles the goofiest smile and 'talks' back, which results in some very interesting sounds. Of course she's going through another growth spurt, so I've been up at 4AM the last two nights. Still not complaining though....I know it could be worse!

Terrific Thursday

Eli had another great day at school today. I love how he smiles while walking towards the car when I pick him up. He is always in such a good mood, and the teacher usually has a good report to give. Today she told me that Eli wanted to go to the zoo. Apparently they had been looking at pictures of animals, specifically pandas, and that triggered Eli's memory of our recent trip to the zoo (where we saw the pandas). Eli painted a large yellow chicken ("cuck, cuck" or "birrrd", according to Eli) and proudly brought it home to share today. We are officially out of room on our refrigerator. I think I'm going to start taping the artwork to the back of his bedroom door so he can see it (after it makes its debut on the fridge, of course).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Like Mother Like Son

I think I've found a new hiking partner!! Eli, Maddux and I joined Tyler and his mom for a 'hike' this morning at Kennesaw Mountain. First we pushed the kids up the mountain road in their strollers (so we could get a workout in before we allowed the boys to dictate our pace), and when we got to the bottom, we let the boys out of their strollers so they could 'hike' along some of the easier trails. Both Tyler and Eli took a few spills as we walked towards the entrance of the woods, and it was dangerously close to lunchtime, so we bailed on a longer hike. Nevertheless, Eli really seemed to like walking and touching the trees and leaves. I hope to take him back to the mountain next week to see how long he will last going up the mountain by himself.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why I Love My Job

Nights like tonight make it all worth while. I went out to dinner with a friend while Lehr watched both kids. That could be my punchline because that in itself is a wonderful thing, but there is more.

Maddux has been giving us some trouble where the bottle is concerned: the last three days she has all but refused it when we tried our once-a-day bottle feeding. Tonight I came home from dinner prepared to struggle with her only to find her chugging away without any protest at all. 4 1/2 whole ounces!!

And Eli has made my week, month, and possibly year. I came home and he ran to me immediately. He, Lehr and Maddux were on the couch watching the Cubs game when I walked in. Apparently Eli had been patting the cushion next to him saying "Mommy? Sit?" before I walked in. He missed me (melt melt). A few times as we were sitting there, I had to get up to prepare her bottle and then check to see if it was warm enough. Eli got up and followed me to the kitchen each time. He also told me what he ate for dinner: app-ohs (apples). dye-foo (dried fruit). Hoh baaagh (whole bag). Even if the pay sucks, the benefits are great.....

Sing. Sing A Song.

Eli is now requesting songs before his nap. I have sung "You Are My Sunshine" to him since the beginning, mixed in with "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in the last year or so. When we finished reading our before-nap-book yesterday, I told Eli is was time to sing a song and go to bed. He looked at me and said, "Tun-tine?" I didn't understand at first, but after he asked a few times I realized he was saying "sunshine". Melt melt.

I've been leaving words out of the songs for a while too. Eli will usually correctly fill in the blanks: "You make me (Happy) when skies are grey. You'll never know, (Dear), how much I love you." and "So I hung my head down and (cw-aye)." He'll do that with "Take. Game." (Take Me Out To The Ballgame) also. "Buy me some peanuts and (cah-ker dack).....Root, root, root for the (Tubbies)". And today we started that with the alphabet song. I was quite happy to find Eli does in fact know some of his ABC's, even though he's been hesitant to show off that skill before now. He filled in almost any letter I left out.

My favorite thing about Eli singing is when he sings to Maddux. Sometimes when we are all in the car and she cries, Lehr or I will ask Eli to sing to her to make her happy (we tell him she cries when she's sad). Eli's version of singing is speaking in a drawn-out high-pitched voice. And the only song he sings is "Turkey Dee" (The Thanksgiving Song). And the only lyrics in Eli's song are "Turkeeee Deeeeee. Turkeeee Deeeee." Good thing he likes to play sports because he will obviously not be pursuing a singing career.

Monday, September 24, 2007

In Your Wildest Dreams

I think Eli has dreams each night. I know by age three toddlers can have them, but I'm not sure what the 'studies' say about two-year olds. What I do know is that at least twice a week I will wake Eli up in the morning and while he is still squinting his eyes and stretching, he tells me a few things, out of the blue. Today is was "soff-ball!" (softball) We went to a softball field last week, so I think he dreamt about that. The other day it was "pool. jump." We haven't been to the pool in about a month, so I think that was a dream also. In addition, we have a sleep-talker on our hands. I still have the monitor in our room because I've become a heavier sleeper since Maddux was born, which means I might not hear Eli crying in his room without it. A few times over the last few weeks I've heard Eli say one random word, but no other noise occurred. Now Eli does wake up from time to time during the night and play, but when these sleep-talking incidences happen, no aquarium turns on, nor do I hear him roll over and hit his bar on the crib wall (which always happens if/when he is awake). Usually it's a 'ball' word: hoop, tee-ball, or home.

Eli's vocabulary is still expanding daily. He repeats as much as he can from Mommy and Daddy, and he makes his own sentences all the time. The other day he saw a Cubs game where a player slid into third base. The next day during lunch he told me about it: "Ball-bat! Tubbies. Run! HOME! Bay-sss! Pall-down! Hurt!" (The 'hurt' was accompanied by a sad face on Eli.) Some of his newer words these days are:
- Cart
- Run
- Cry-baby (He means to say "Baby is crying", I think.)
- Pish-stick (fish stick)
- Bow-er (blower)
- Mower
- Gasss (gas or grass or glass)
- Doggie
- Coh-d (cold)
- Pah-Tah (pasta)
- Dee-ner (dinner)
- Seat
- Race
- Ow-tide (outside)
- Hap-Birt-day (Happy Birthday)
- Tash (trash)
- Jac-o-naler (or something, which means "jack-o-lantern")
- Punkin (pumpkin)
- Me-on (melon)
- Um-ball-ah (umbrella)
- Tink ou (thank you)

Sorry about that - once I started, I just couldn't stop! He has many more words, but I think I've bored you enough for now.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weekend Update

Eli woke up five of the last six days with blood-stained drool on his pajamas or his sleep-sac. That pretty much sums up the mood he's had. His irritability due to the teething pain is only matched by his toddler 'tude these days; the combination can be brutal at times. On the flip side, when he is not in pain or acting out, he's extra sweet...I guess to make up for the other times. On a good note: today has been great and Eli had a very fun morning at church and in general.

Eli must think birthdays are an every-day-occurrence. Wait...they are! Well, he must think they are an every-day-occurrence in his immediate circle. In less than a month he's had his birthday, Gracie's birthday, Cooper's birthday, Cooper's Daddy's birthday, his cousin, Rachel's, birthday (he calls her "Dee-dol"), and birthdays for the little girl across the street and a co-worker of Lehr's. Yesterday was another birthday party with yet another jump castle. This was Eli's third encounter with the bouncy-floor, and he finally took to it a bit. The first time left him a bit standoffish, as he was very unsure of the unstable walking surface. The second (at Kangazoom) was a little better, but Eli still didn't really enjoy how hard it was to walk when someone else jumped up and down next to him. This time he went in and out of the castle two or three times before opting out. I think he doesn't like it because he has not yet mastered the two-footed-jump.

Maddux has made the turn. She gives us 9-10 hours of consecutive sleep more than half of the time. (Can I get an 'Amen'?!) Last night was a step in the wrong direction, but I remember Eli did this for a while also. We'd get three nights in a row of eleven hours, and then he'd be up once or twice the next night. Then back to the eleven hours. So even though last night wasn't great, I'm smiling because of what is to come.

Also, Maddux went into the church nursery for the first time today. I sent a bottle with her which she did not take very easily, but she barely takes it for Lehr, so I wasn't too surprised by that. The good news is they did not have to call us out of the service at all - rock on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hanging Out With The Guys

Eli, Maddux and I spent the morning at Tyler's house hanging out with Tyler and Noah. Correction, we spent the morning playing in the backyard. The boys could not get enough of Ty's cool collection of outdoor toys including (but not limited to!!) a picnic table, two ride-in cars, golf clubs, and Eli's favorite, a lawn mower. Eli pretty much monopolized the mower until Tyler's mommy pulled out the golf clubs. Then Eli made the switch and for the most part did not allow any one else a chance to play. We had a quick picnic lunch on the lawn before heading home, and all three boys were pretty exhausted by the time we said our good-byes.

I'm getting ready to talk about how great my son is again, so stop reading if that bores you (and I totally understand if it does). Eli had a few tantrums at the house before we left; they were severe enough for me to consider not even attending our play date. He also waged a small battle with me during the picnic. But the majority of the morning, the car ride to and from, and his after-nap time were awesome. Eli showed such self-control and patience during our outside play before dinner....even when I didn't remind him to! I would turn around from putting the ball on his tee and see him standing with the bat at his feet and his hands clasped (his physical manifestation of patience and/or self-control). He thanked me for setting the ball on the tee several times without me prompting him, and he obliged each time I asked him to put away his toys before pulling out new ones.

My reason for commenting on this good behavior (yet again) is because of the rough roads we've had in the last few months. I know we are in no way out of the woods yet, but it has been a nice change of pace to see some good habits forming. And since parenting tends to polarize you (either you're being too hard on yourself or your only seeing the good in your kids to a fault), I'm trying to recognize the good in each day, while not overlooking the fact that even good days contain tantrums and disobedience. I think most of you who are parents can agree though, when you see your hard work pay off, it really makes it all worth while. I think this is an especially rewarding experience for those of us who are stay-at-home-parents. Before you get your feathers ruffled, that is not to say that those who work outside the home do not still spend hours teaching and training their children, nor is it to say that they do not relish the joys of their parental consistency. But the ones who stay at home and do not have any other job than to be a parent, like myself, usually don't have any other outlet to accomplish 'big' things. When I worked outside the home, I completed many tasks each day. I got little pats on the back from time to time, and even when I didn't, I was able to take pride in my work regardless of what was going on at home. Not so true anymore....what is going on at home is my main job. It's the only outlet I have for achievement at the moment. Sorry...I got way off-track with that. Carry on!

The parenting philosophies that Lehr and I subscribe to remind us that bad days are ok. The question we need to ask is, "Is Eli characterized by that behavior?" Usually (on the bad days), the answer is no. More and more (on the good days), the answer is yes. Life is good.

And An Angel Baby....

Maddux has never followed 'the routine' in her two months out of the womb. Not that it was easy with Eli, but I had nothing but time and energy to devote to getting him on my schedule. Time is a little short these days, so even though I have followed the order of events with Maddux, her timetable hasn't matched mine thus far. Today we changed that. Even though we had an eventful, out-of-the-house morning and afternoon, she took 60-90 minute naps, ate every three hours (almost on the dot) and fussed very little this evening after the family dinner. There is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Send Me An Angel

I realize that by posting this I am most likely jinxing myself for tonight, and maybe tomorrow as well. But given the amount of not-so-good days recently, it's a chance I'm willing to take. (I also realize I need to start a new 'label' for these braggadocious posts, so you can be forewarned. But why have a blog if you can't brag on your kids!?!)

Eli has been outstanding today. Seriously angel-esque. I had to wake him up this morning, but he was in a great mood anyway. (He usually prefers to wake up on his own.) We had a good breakfast and only a minimal tantrum before heading off to school. Apparently his morning at JKP went well, as he came into the car smiling when I picked him up. The two of us (and Maddux) had a good time playing outside for 15 minutes before I told Eli it was time to go in for lunch. This would normally result in some resistance on Eli's part, due to hunger and fatigue mixed with his ever-strong desire to always be outside playing baseball. However, he happily hung up his bat and followed me into the kitchen. After we ate I asked him to go upstairs and pick out a book while I cleaned the kitchen. He complied without a second of hesitation and when I came upstairs, he was sitting in front of his bookshelf, thumbing through the book he chose. We read the book and he went down without a fight.

I suspected the afternoon would differ since around 3:30, Eli woke up from his nap crying. He never does that. Never. I went in after a few minutes and found the poor kid bleeding from the mouth. The bleeding gums have returned, apparently. After rocking with me in the chair for ten minutes or so, he asked to read a book. Halfway through the book I heard Maddux wake up, so I told Eli that we needed to go have some blanket time so Mommy could feed Maddux. He asked (in his own special way) if he could bring his book to the blanket to read, and he followed me to the computer room without any protest. Eli sat on his blanket and read for twenty full minutes while I tried to feed Maddux (she's being a pill, but that's another post). Here is some video of my angel (this time his furrowed brow is due to concentration, not out of anger)....days like today make me so happy I can't stand it!

Giggle Giggle

Maddux has had these odd, laugh-ish sounds coming out of her since almost the beginning. However today I think she had her first from-the-belly laugh. Eli, Maddux and I were in Eli's room getting ready for his nap and I was changing her on Eli's pad. As soon as I finished she let out this laugh, and then took in a breath and continued the laugh....for three or four breaths, which made me think it was definitely real. I looked over at Eli to tell him that she was laughing, but he already knew: he was smiling as much as I was. He grabbed his book and came over to share in the joy. (Eli's first belly laugh was around this age also.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Chains of Love

All Eli can talk about these days is Gappa Jib, Cappy, and their upcoming visit. Maddux will be dedicated at our church in two weeks, and they, along with Treis (Eli's cousin) and GG (Eli's great-grandma) will be in town for the event. I decided to help Eli make a paper chain to countdown to the arrival this morning. He had a blast. We cut out 12 links and Eli colored all of them. Then I wrote the names of the four guests each on a link and Eli recited the names like crazy. Of course he had to help me with the glue stick, but his favorite part was counting to ten each time we glued a link and held it. He even clasped his little hands like we used to do when we counted to ten for self-control.

After our arts-n-crafts morning, we went outside to play (what else) baseball. We had to draw a new diamond because we got some rain over the weekend. Eli was quick to point out I drew home plate in a spot that was not the same as the original. (He's a stickler for details!) Of course Maddux woke up hungry about ten minutes into our game. Since Eli has been such a pill these days when his playtime gets interrupted, I decided to give him a choice. He could either come inside with me to get Maddux (a choice I knew he didn't like), or he could sit on the driveway and wait for me to come back. Lehr has done something similar with Eli sitting and waiting before, so I knew Eli was aware of what was expected of him. He chose to 'seet', so I ran in and grabbed the baby quickly. (Sidenote: Our driveway is long and we live in a cul-de-sac, so I was confident even if Eli did not obey, I would be back outside before he'd make it to the road.) When I came back out I was so proud to see Eli sitting and waiting so patiently. He was hitting his baseball bat on the ground and singing to himself: what a ham!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Weekend Re-Cap

Eli had a pretty good weekend, considering "the teeth". He got his Elmo fix on Friday night, then on Saturday he got to help Daddy clean out the garage. Then the two of them went through some old clothes and Eli found his first Halloween costume, among other things. Of course he asked to try it on. Saturday night we went out to dinner and the waitress gave him a balloon. This was a first, so Eli was totally thrilled. Afterwards we went to a nearby park and let him run off some energy. After his bath, he and Daddy sat on the upstairs couch and watched a few minutes of the Cubs game. When I finished feeding Maddux, I joined them. Eli insisted I sit in-between them. Then he got all cuddly on me. He snuggled into my arm and played with my hand the whole time. He loves to watch the Cubs, and he is usually very good about sitting still and not getting too hyper during the inning or so we let him watch. We went to church on Sunday and then ran a few errands after his nap. That was when I had to make a few more split-second parenting decisions.

Eli loves the Depot. He goes ga-ga for their carts, and anytime he can be surrounded by hammers and drills and mowers and grills, he is in heaven. We had a few things we needed to pick up, so the four of us piled in the car and away we went. Lehr drove, which meant I was sitting in front of Eli in the car, which also meant I was the one to take him out of the car when we arrived. Eli did not like that. He wanted Daddy and made sure we both knew it. I told him too bad so sad because Mommy was taking him out today. He squirmed and whined, so I told him to get some self-control. We were about five feet away from the car when he started to hit. Since this has started to happen more often, that was the last straw for me. I told Eli that he does not hit Mommy, and then I informed him he would not be visiting the Depot today. I took both kids back to the car and let Lehr run in for the items we needed. Eli was so stunned, he didn't even fight me as I strapped him back in the car seat. I put Maddux back in and started to drive around the parking lot. After about a minute, I stopped the car and turned around to remind Eli what he did; I then asked for an apology. He said, "I 'tarry, Mommy." as he nodded. I told him that he was forgiven, but he had lost the privilege of the Home Depot cart today because he hit. As we drove around for the next ten minutes, Eli tried to rectify the situation at least five more times. It went something like this: "I 'tarry, Mommy. Dee-po?" or "I 'tarry, Mommy. Cart?" Each time I said, "thank you. You are forgiven. No Depot today because you hit. Next time we will work more on self-control so we can ride in the Depot cart." I found it quite amusing how he thought an apology meant he would get what he wanted. I'm glad I didn't give in and let him go after his first 'tarry! Given how insistent he was about the cart and how sad he seemed that we were not in the Depot, I think this 'punishment' got through to him.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rock-a-Bye Baby

So Maddux is still not napping great during the day. She will typically nap an hour or 90-minutes for one of her naps, but the rest are a bust. No biggie except it means she eats every 2 1/2 hours sometimes, when she *should* be able to go longer. However, I could care less because most nights she sleeps for 8 hours. The past three nights have been 11-7 stretches and I love it. The only problem is, it makes it a little more difficult when she doesn't sleep all the way through because now I expect it and my body needs that sleep. Such is life....

We took the insert out of Maddux's car seat this weekend; she is getting too big to buckle if we keep it in. She is such a chunker!! I do not worry about her not eating enough, that is for sure! I even got to turn her around in the baby bjorn the other day so she was facing outward. She is holding her head up much better these days, so the bumbo is right around the corner too.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Capital "E" Elmo

Eli will need to thank Cooper for a long time. Tonight the four of us got to join Cooper and his family in box seats at the Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music production. Since Eli is Elmo's #1 fan, despite the fact that he has 'mean' parents that don't allow too much TV (meaning he has barely seen a dozen Sesame Street TV shows), we jumped at the chance to go see (Capital "E") Elmo 'Live'. When Elmo and the gang took the stage, Eli could not stop saying "ELMO!" as he pointed towards the big, red character. He also pointed out Grover, Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and Zoe. He was quite excited to see the musical instruments they took out, especially the drums at the end. I wasn't sure how he'd react, given how far away from the characters we were seated, but his attention stayed focused on the show the entire time.

Before the main event, Eli, Maddux and I went to a local 'jump room' (Kangazoom)since it rained all morning. Eli had a great time with his friends, Tyler and Noah, though I think Eli would have been content just to be in a room with four or five bouncy balls that he could throw around(the jump castles didn't wow him too much). In one room there were a few very large inflatable slides (probably a two-story room and the slides started all the way up at the ceiling), with inflatable steps (think a slide with slats on in). Since I had Maddux strapped to my front, I couldn't climb up with Eli, so I figured he'd just have to sit this one out, or go up with another parent. However, when he saw Tyler's mommy climbing up with him, Eli followed right behind: all by himself! I was quite shocked, considering how high up it was and considering he really didn't know what was in store for him at the top. He went down the slide by himself too, which was great to watch; he spun around a few times, but ended up feet first when he got to the bottom. Of course we returned home and Eli decided to throw a monumental tantrum resulting in no lunch (totally not something I want to take away on a regular basis, but Eli was completely uncooperative). So, good morning, bad afternoon, good night. Still a good day in my book!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?

I recently read an article in Parenting Magazine: 8 Things No One Tells You About Being A Mom. Then I heard some commentary on a parenting podcast this week and it reminded me of the truth of the article's words.

The first item that I related too more than just a passing "Amen" was the one about running in circles. I think that is the best way to describe your day to someone who doesn't have kids. Now that I'm trying to form Maddux's routine, while (hopefully) still maintaining Eli's, I feel like my day is a series of clock-watching. Not because either routine/schedule is tied to the clock, but because Maddux, much like her brother at this age, is a ticking time bomb. We went through a phase when Eli was about six-months when a clock was essential to his happiness. He was a 90-minute baby to the second. He would be happy and alert at minute 88, but if you mistook that to mean he wasn't ready for a nap, minute 91 would come and you would regret your lack of action immediately. When you put him down at minute 88, 89, or 90, he would happily talk and gurgle to himself for a few minutes before he dozed off, all on his own. If you tried to put him down at minute 95, he would wail and carry on forever. I learned my lesson quickly and always kept an eye on the clock during that time. Though Maddux is not quite a 90-minute baby, she has her own rhyme and reason, which I'm still trying to nail down. The one thing I'm sure of, my mind goes numb from the constant sleep-eat-diaper-play cycle. The challenge with two kids: two cycles at once. Luckily Eli only has one nap a day to contend with, but he's a ball of energy and toddlers require a lot of stimulation. His cycles are more about activities in and out of the home. Balancing these two "circles" is a challenge.

The main list item I identified with was "You Don't Get Instant Replays". No brainer, right? You rarely get those in real life either. The explanation of this one is where I found my feelings put best into words: "You will say the wrong thing. You will do the wrong thing.......But with a child it's especially tough because you're making so many split-second decisions in any given hour — and the repercussions of those decisions are helping to form a growing psyche." Wow. Totally the pressure I feel, and I know I'm not alone in that. I don't think you can truly appreciate how many little, immediate decisions need to be made in the course of an hour until you spend a day or two alone with a child, especially a toddler or pre-schooler. The challenge is to not allow yourself to over analyze the (wrong) decisions you make.

Carry on....just a few random thoughts from a rambling mom while (both!!) kids are napping.

These Are The Moments....

Even through Eli's tough moments, I really think this is my favorite stage so far in his development. It is so neat to have a sorta-kinda conversation with him and have him add to it. We're not to the place yet where he tells me what he does at school when I pick him up on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but often a few hours later he'll tell me about it in a random moment.

The other night I was upstairs when Lehr, Maddux and Eli were down in the living room listening to music. I peaked my head around to watch Eli dancing and bobbing his head to Joe Bonamassa (one of his new favorites, since he plays the 'tar'). Minutes later, Eli ran upstairs to get a cutout guitar from one of his wooden puzzles so he could play along with Joe. Then a few minutes after that he came up to get his mini drum set so he could play along with a different instrument. Lehr told me later that he noticed Eli taking a long time to get the drums, so he walked towards the stairs to see what he'd gotten into. Apparently Eli got distracted by a book. He looked up from reading and said to Lehr, "book!", and then went back to reading. Once he was done he put it down, picked his drums back up, and continued on to the living room for his encore.

Last night Lehr came out of Eli's room later than the normal bedtime, so I asked if he'd fallen asleep while reading Eli his bedtime books. (It has happened before, btw.) He told me that they were just in there talking and reading. Eli asked for his 'obey' book (a book about disobedience) and while he was reading it to Lehr, Eli looked up at him and said, "Daddy. Obey."

After I picked Eli up from school today, we came home to eat a quick lunch before his nap. I knew he was tired and the molars are giving him discomfort, so I try my best to not get into the 'tantrum zone'. After he ate, I took him out of his highchair and told him to go up and pick his book while I wiped off his tray and put the dishes in the dishwasher. I do this all of the time, but it usually means Eli wanders through the room with toys on the way to the stairs until I catch up with him. Today he went upstairs and when I opened his door, he was sitting on the floor by his bookshelf with his blanket (a bedtime privilege only) and a book, patiently waiting for me. Melt, melt!

One last tidbit: Eli is getting better with showing patience and self-control in non-conflict times. Yes, I know that is the easier time, but for a while he wouldn't do it at all, so I'm excited. When he was about 14-months we started showing Eli how to have patience at the dining room table by folding his hands and counting to ten (even though every number is "2" to Eli). We had great success with this until about 20-months when he decided he didn't like the idea of patience or self-control. In the last month he has pulled that old trick back out and I could not be happier. Several times a day I find myself reminding Eli to 'be patient'. So many times now I look up to see him with his hands folded, eager to meet my eyes for recognition that he is listening and following my directions. It doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

De Plane! De Plane!!

Eli, Maddux and I went over to play with Cooper for a few hours before nap today. For the first time ever that I've seen, Eli and Cooper really got along. I only saw one or two toy-snatchings, and they were not that big of a deal, especially considering the way things normally go with them (c'mon, they ARE two, after all). I'm not picking on Cooper either; my rating of a good or bad visit has everything to do with Eli and how he handles himself, regardless of how the other kid(s) behave. Usually when with Cooper, Eli will snatch toys, or freak out if/when Cooper snatches them. Not so this time - hooray!!! Anyway, they played really well together, turning on and off the lights in the play room and even wrestling a little bit. Cooper was determined to smoother Eli with a pillow at one point, and Eli thought it was funny, so no harm no foul. They even had a quick match of ping-pong, though I don't think the ball ever made it back over the table after the initial serve...

After an hour of playing, we all went to the park at a small nearby airport. Eli and Cooper ate a quick picnic lunch before watching the planes take off and land. This was the first time I ever got to sit back completely and watch Eli play on the playground. The equipment wasn't too high that I had to worry about him falling, and he entertained himself enough with Cooper and a few other kids that he didn't need me to watch him do anything. Bittersweet as it means he's growing up, but it took a lot less energy from me, which was nice.

As for Eli's molars, they are definitely giving him some grief. He told me when he woke up, "Teef. Hurt." as he scrunched up his face and reached back in his mouth. I gave him a little orajel before we left this morning to head off any pain-related tantrums. Then, while at the park, he told me the same thing again, as well as three hundred times on the way home. Poor kid had some tears running down his face as we pulled into the neighborhood, but he's sleeping it off as I type.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Too Cool For School

Eli had his second day of 'school' today and he brought home an art project: a caterpillar magnet. He is so proud of his "cap-eh-tiller"! When Lehr got home, Eli directed him to the fridge and yelled, "Cap-eh-tiller!" several times until Lehr saw it. As much as I love his new-found pride over his artwork, between school and his new 'older' Sunday School room at church, our once clean refrigerator has turned into what most parents' fridges look like: a display of anything and everything marker-ed and glue stick-ed.

I also brought the camera with me to pick Eli up in the hopes of snapping a picture of what I saw last week. Unfortunately I was very far back in the car-pick-up line, so I had to zoom in a lot and even then, the photo is not such great quality. You can see that Eli (yellow shirt) is at the head of the line though, holding on to one of the teacher's hands.

Let's Roll

Maddux and I went to Kennesaw Mountain for a hike this morning, but we were disappointed to see that the 9/11 memorial was not there anymore. Last year Eli and I went to see all of the flags set out representing the Americans lost on that day, six years ago. Please take some time today to remember the brave men and women who served in some way that day, many of whom lost their lives.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Maddux is setting new 'records' in this family every day. She rolled over when she was just weeks old (way before Eli did), she started a heart-felt cry younger than Eli did, and now she has been to the ER before him.

Last week Maddux started to cough a little bit. She usually chokes while eating, causing a cough, but this was in non-eating times as well. Luckily her 2-month doctor appointment was already scheduled, so I had Dr. Jernigan check her out for the cough too. Her lungs and ears were clear and she hadn't had a fever yet, so there was no need to worry. Fast forward to this weekend and the cough hadn't gone away. In fact, now you could hear her cough during the night, where she hadn't been doing that before. After church I decided to call the pediatrician's nurse-line to ask a few questions and set up for another doctors appointment Monday. After answering all of the nurse's questions, she told me to take Maddux to the hospital right away, mainly because of her young age. The nurses and doctors at Children's Healthcare of ATL were great - pretty speedy too, considering it is an ER. After taking her vitals and checking her out it was determined she is still fine. Just a slight cough and nasal congestion, but no infection and no congestion on her lungs or ears. For now we are just to continue suctioning her nose (oh the joys) and keeping her hydrated. Thank goodness this happened on a weekend so Lehr could stay home with Eli! Even though the staff moved quickly, I was still there for two hours...can't imagine how Eli would have fared that visit!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Friday Night Lights

Last night Lehr, "D", and I took Eli and Maddux to their first high school football game. Since Eli has shown such an interest in musical instruments (tuba, drums, trombone) recently, we figured he'd enjoy the half-time show at least. We got to our seats around 8PM, so he was already a little tired, but he stayed awake and attentive until the we left (after the show). Maddux hung out in the bjorn the whole time, nodding on and off. She was a bit disturbed by all of the noise, but from time to time she caught a few winks. Eli sat wide-eyed on D's lap until half-time when we moved higher in the stands. Then he sat with Daddy and pointed out the 'dddddrums!' and 'too-bah's. D taught Eli to say 'foot' and then 'ball', but he preferred to refer to the experience as the 'geeem' (game). I think this will become a more regular fall activity for the kids.

Friday, September 07, 2007

She's Got....Personality

Maddux is finally starting to really smile as well as 'coo'. She and I have been able to hang out one-on-one a little more recently during Eli's nap. This means no down-time for me, but it's worth it to see my little girl as she's growing up since honestly, while Eli's awake, she rarely/never is the center of our focus. (Just part of being the second born, I guess.)

Maddux will gurgle for a minute or so and then you'll hear these cute little sounds come out of her mouth. I'd forgotten how neat it is to watch them start to develop their social skills! She is smiling more and more, especially during these Mommy/Maddux moments. I caught a few of them with my camera yesterday, though they are not really in focus because she would only smile if I was holding her up with my hand (and it's difficult to manage my clunky camera with only one hand). Also, Maddie's cry is more 'sad' than Eli's was at this age. He just had the regular old cry/wail, where she has a sad lower-lip 'waa-aaa-aaa' cry sometimes. Granted, her life is harder than his because she doesn't get as much attention, and when she does it is sometimes in the form of an older brother sitting on her, kissing her too hard, or pulling off her socks or blanket. So maybe she is justified in this cry. Regardless, it is sad to hear.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

First Day of School

I earned the nickname "nerd" last night when I told Lehr how excited I was for Eli's first day of school. Something about the new school year always got me so giddy each fall...I miss it! I guess that's why you have live vicariously through them for the experiences you like but no longer qualify for?

Eli woke up this morning and had a great time getting ready for school and eating his cereal. This was a very welcomed surprise as yesterday's morning time (before his meet-n-greet) was horrible. He absolutely refused to say his prayer before eating. No way, no how. I don't expect him to recite a long prayer; in fact, this time all he had to do was fold his hands while I sang the prayer and then say "amenen". Silly, but that's something I'm not going to compromise on. Anyway, today was much much better and the whole drive over to the school/church was great too. I think my excitement was infecting his mood! We were one of the first cars to arrive to the loading zone in front of the classrooms, and Eli waited patiently with me while the teachers got into their spots. When the door opened I told him I loved him and his teacher greeted him with a smile and a few kind words, and then he was off! When it came time to pick him up a few hours later, I was one of the first cars again. It was so neat to see the teachers walking the kids in lines to the hall where they waited for their parents. I did not bring the camera, but I will next week because it was a cool sight (for a parent). When the teacher's aide put him in the car (he was all smiles, by the way), she told me he did really well, especially considering he is the youngest in the class. Go Eli!!!

Product Review: Luvs Bear Hug Stretch

A Luvs representative recently emailed me asking me if I'd be interested in doing a product review on my blog. As I've never done one, I wasn't quite sure what that entailed, but after a few emails back and forth it became clear. Would I be interested in receiving free stuff? YES!!!

When Eli was born we went back and forth (depending on what size he wore) between Pampers and Huggies, usually favoring the Pampers. We had too many leaks with store brands, and since I'm not a fan of cleaning up blow-outs or wet sheets, I have paid up for the name brand ever since. Our local store does not carry Luvs, so I've not had a chance to try them out before now. The new "Bear Hug Stretch" is not available in Maddux's size yet, so we could only try the product on Eli (thought they did send some size 3's for her, when she grows into them - BONUS!).

Enough background - on to the review! The side tabs do offer a great stretch; they are very comparable to Pampers in that respect. Eli tends to drink a lot of water in the afternoon, and again in his bath, so his overnight diaper often weighs about 8lbs when he wakes up in the morning. If/when I use a cheaper diaper, or even if/when I do not fasten it 'just so', Eli wakes up with a wet spot or two on his sleep sac. So far, no such occurrence while using the Luvs diaper. It appears their "Blue Leakguard Core" really does keep leaks in their place! Luvs advertises no sagging or bunching in their description of this diaper, which proved true. Eli is very active, so lots of running around can move the diaper out of the designated area. Again, so far this has not happened with Eli: the diaper stays put! Overall the diaper seemed to stand up pretty well to the Pampers I hold in such high esteem. I have not seen them in our local store yet, but as long as the cost was the same or cheaper than my Pampers, I would definitely use this new line of Luvs. Overall the diaper seemed to stand up pretty well to the Pampers I hold in such high esteem. Two Diaper Pins Up!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Doctor, Doctor

Both kids had doctor appointments today. Eli was due for his two year and it was time for Maddux's two month. Considering it was 4PM and I had to wake both kids from naps to get to the doctor on-time, and considering Eli played in his crib for almost two full hours before finally dozing off, giving him less than an hour sleep, and considering Eli's attitude towards Mommy these days, the visit went very well. I packed a snack for him to have while we were in the exam room because I anticipated an extended appointment given they were going to see both kids at once. This was a good thing; it didn't keep his attention the whole time, but it got me through half the time!

The only concern I had for Eli going in was his two-year molars. He is so fussy and easily agitated these days (which I know has a lot to do with him being T.W.O.), and he's been drooling a little from time to time. His doctor checked and didn't see anything poking out, but she said he will probably feel pain for a month or more before they actually start to poke through and/or swell up the gums. Greeeaaat.... Eli's measurements were right on target: 26 lbs. 15 oz. and 35 1/4" tall. He's actually in the 75th percentile for height, which is higher than he's ever been. He just might escape the short gene from my family yet! No shots for Eli fact, no more shots until he's four, so that was good news!

Maddux has had a watery/gunky eye for almost a month now. Eli had the same thing when he was a baby and it was (only) a blocked tear duct, so I haven't worried too much. I did bring it up to the doctor though and she told me just to keep an eye on it (ha ha). The other question I had for her today was about a small cough Maddux seemed to have picked up yesterday. It didn't sound bad to me, but it didn't sound 'right' either. The doctor listened to her lungs and checked her ears, nose, and throat and found nothing, so for now no worries. She did ask me if I noticed Maddux having a preference on which side she rests her head. As a matter of fact, I told her, she has a very strong preference to rest her head on the right. I only noticed it because it is the same side as the watery eye, and I thought that might be related. The doc said her right side (head) is slightly flatter, but nothing to be concerned about. She said to keep doing what I'm doing, which is 'forcing' her to rest it on the other side when I can. Then the doctor got a good look at how hard it is to do that (force Maddux to keep her head on the left side) when she went to look in her ears. It's not that she can't move her neck to look over her left shoulder, she just doesn't want to! Her height and weight are very good too: 11lbs. 15oz. and 23 1/2" long. She is in the 90th percentile for height...quite a shock again, given my petite DNA. Maddux did have shots today: three to be exact. I had Eli sit up on the table with her and hold her hand to comfort her. The poor girl cried worse than Eli ever did when he got shots at this age.

School Dayz

Eli starts his pre-school tomorrow morning. I feel like he's going off to Kindergarten! Last night Lehr and I went to a parent orientation and teacher meeting; although I'd met the teachers and seen the classroom, it was Lehr's first time. I was quickly reminded why I chose this school - they are so warm and into their jobs! The classroom was already set up with the kids' names on their spot at a big table, and on their coat/bag rack. It was surreal to see Eli's name plastered about with the other nine kids' names as if he were really going to school. Both teachers reminded us that the focus was not on academics, but rather sharing, group play, following instructions, and most of all FUN. They get to do (and bring home) an art project everyday. So much for our policy of not cluttering up the refrigerator! I honestly got choked up when the main teacher told us the independent things the kids would be doing each day: finding their picture and matching it with their name on a board (attendance), hanging their bag on their specific hook, and sitting in the seat marked with their name.

This morning Eli and I went to the Meet-n-Greet for students. Tyler and his mom came over to watch Mad Dog so it could be a Eli-n-Mommy activity. After a very, very trying morning with Eli, we went to the school and Eli loved it. He immediately went to the play kitchen they had set up and started to cut food with the play knife. He found pizza (pee-tah) and a piece of cake (birt-day cay-ck) to cut. Then he colored a picture with the teachers' aide while the teacher and I chatted about Eli. I 'warned' her that he is a very active child, so playground time will be his favorite activity.

After school, we went for a walk with Tyler and his mom and then the boys played outside. Considering how much Eli likes the word 'no' these days, he did pretty well with Tyler riding 'Mater and using his baseball glove.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Donation Corner: Emergency Communities

I put Emergency Communities in the spotlight last year, but I think it's time to revisit them, as there is still so much to be done in the Gulf areas affected by Katrina.

The Lower Ninth Ward has been the slowest neighborhood to recover from the destruction caused by Katrina. The neighborhood is poor, yet home ownership pre-Katrina was over 60%. Many low-income homeowners have not been able to afford building supplies to rebuild their homes post-Katrina. Emergency Communities is trying to accelerate the rebuilding process so the Lower Ninth families are not pushed out of their homes and communities. They recently received a generous grant from Bette Midler to hire a licensed electrician full-time for six months. As much as that helps, other skilled craftsmen (especially plumbers) and supplies are needed.

Below are some examples of how your donations can help:
- $20 would buy a box of discount laminate flooring, enough to cover 20 square feet.
- $35 would buy a recycled storm door from the Green Project supply warehouse.
- $68.88 would pay for 200 square feet of 25-year roofing shingles.
- $128.25 would pay for all the sheet rock needed to build the walls and ceiling of a 10x10x8 room, a typical size for a child's bedroom in the Lower Ninth.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Labor Day

So Lehr informs me that many of my recent posts have been too lengthy. I'm sure not going to stop typing, so I guess some days I'll just have multiple posts.

Yesterday we took the new double though Mad Dog fussedBOB for it's inaugural spin. Eli and Maddux seemed to like it, unless we were moving. Eli enjoyed pointing out all of the birds and dogs at the river while we walked. Then today while I was hiking, Eli and Lehr drew a baseball diamond in the driveway and played some tee-ball. Lehr said Eli kinda got it too! To his credit, he (Eli) has been practicing running the bases in our open room downstairs, so he already had some experience.

Maddux slept an admirable stretch last night! It wasn't her longest (7 1/2 hours), but it was the best duration-timing combo she's exhibited to-date. I put her down at 8PM and then Lehr woke her and fed her a pumped bottle at 11PM. I didn't hear from her again until 6AM. Hooray!

All By Myself

It's amazing what a little family time will do. Eli had a much better day yesterday and today is shaping up to be the same. I guess he just missed his family working and playing together.

It's even more amazing what a little 'me' time will do. This weekend I snuck away to the gym, to run errands, and then to do some trail running at my favorite local hiking spot. Since it was just me and my iCole, I did a lot of thinking, which, much to Lehr's dismay, translates into a lot of rambling/blogging.

One thing I realized on my outing was that I've been neglecting identity as anything but a mother recently. Not that I've had much of a choice; the first few months are a bit demanding due to so many feedings. I know that is not fair to me or my children. I want them to see their mother as more than just their mother. I want Eli and Mad Dog to know Mommy also loves to take pictures (not only of them). I want them to know she loves to hike and bike. I want them to know she has friends that don't always have come with built-in playmates for them. I want them to know I enjoy volunteering to work on trail maintenance or at a soup kitchen. I want this more for Maddux than Eli, because it really hit me today that I am her primary female role-model (gasp!). I want Eli to look up to me as a role-model, but I never worry too much because I know he has such a great guy to look up to already. It makes me smile every time I see Eli imitate something Lehr does unintentionally, such as lean back in his chair after dinner or play the air guitar during a Joe Bonamassa song. So my pledge to myself and my children is to get out more and do things for myself.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

System Error

As Carrie Bradshaw said, "This is my attempt to reboot."

If you've been reading my last few posts, you're probably bored out of your mind and tired of my whining. As tired of it as I am of Eli's whining, and that is very tired. I'm hoping those posts are behind us, at least for now. After a lot of praying and reflection last night and today, I'm committed to having a new, more realistic attitude where Eli and his behavior are concerned. A friend I emailed at the eleventh hour last night reminded me that Eli is just two. Enough said, right? But sometimes it takes someone else telling you something for it to really sink in. Heather said it at just the right moment. At church this morning, another friend gave me a great comparison to keep in mind. (Actually, I think it was Cara's husband who said this, but since she is the one who passed the wisdom on to me, she gets the credit.) When I was telling her of my struggles with Eli continuing to repeat the same actions, even though Lehr and I clearly don't tolerate them, she said that God probably gets frustrated with us in the same way. How many times do we commit the same sin over and over, often without learning? I know I'm guilty of that. Even worse, I learn from my sins only to commit them again. Who am I to expect Eli to do any different? And yet another friend came to my rescue in the way of an email the other night. Courtney reassured me that it will take time but Eli will eventually get it. She reminded me, as have others, that most kids go through this physical anger phase, and as long as I remain calm, it will show him the right way to handle anger. I tell you what, without these friends (and some others I failed to mention), I just might have run away!

I have decided to step back and refrain from spanking for now. Since I'm still a little on the fence about it, I think it's probably best to wait until I'm 100% before moving forward with that. Eli and I had a better morning, but we were at church for a good chunk of it, so that did help. After giving the last week some more thought, Eli's behavior might be attributed to a lack of Daddy and family time. Lehr travelled for a few days this week and the other days were so busy that we only ended up having one family meal together the whole time. We are spending the whole day together today doing 'family' things, so hopefully this will help Eli to feel secure again, or at least to show him that Daddy values and respects Mommy, so he should too.

What would a post from me be without a request for more help though? Although we are trying to cut Eli some slack given his age, the new baby, yada yada yada, we are uncertain how to move forward with his behavior. I understand that he will still throw tantrums, and yell, and (yikes!) hit. Do we still hold him to the high standard and discipline him each time? I've been told by a few people to show Eli some grace, but now I'm realizing I'm not sure what that means. When I tell him 'no' and he still does what I told him not to, do I just ignore it? As usual, I'm over analyzing every thing I do in my day-to-day parenting, but Lehr has expressed the same concerns over how to handle the 'grace' part of our discipline. Any comments are welcome!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Oye Ve

The issues with Eli have not only not gone away, but they have increased tremendously. I haven't posted many of the specifics because for the last week (since Eli turned two - probably not a coincidence), every day has been such a struggle for me that re-hashing everything as I write has not appealed to me at all. In addition, I've been emailing a few other moms in an effort to find some rhyme to Eli's reason (or lack thereof), so any computer time has been eaten up by that. Let me just say that I am sure it is something Lehr and I are doing wrong...we're obviously eliciting this behavior, but I do not know what specifically to do to change it. HELP!!

Today Eli hit me when I was putting on his PJ's for bed. How did that happen!?!? When did my sweet little boy that we've been so careful to stay calm through every situation with decide that it was OK to strike his authority figure? When he hit me I calmly told him that it was not OK to hit mommy and that he had lost the privilege of books (I'd already warned him). I then kissed him and told him I loved him and good-night, but of course he cried as I left the room. I did not know what else to do though, because if I stayed in there and gave him another chance, what would that teach him? I am at a loss here.... I do not know where he gets that physical anger from since we have not spanked him at all yet. I really thought we were doing a good job of teaching to Eli's heart. We have always done our best to remain calm with him during times of discipline, and we've never fought in front of him in a way that suggested lack of self-control, either verbal or physical. Yet Eli has always had an issue with self-control (both verbal and physical) during times of anger. I am reading and re-reading so many books right now, and I've spent more time in prayer this week than ever before in my life. For now we will continue to use time-outs and toy time-outs and hope they start to get through to him. Especially in light of this aggression, I'm hesitant to spank at this point.

It is breaking my heart the way Eli is acting. I am trying the best I can to give him special one-on-one mommy time, but he doesn't seem to even want it. About 40 minutes after I left Eli's room tonight he started to cry again. I want(ed) so badly to go back into his room and talk things through with him, but I worried that this might send him a message that if you want to spend time with Mommy, be mean to her right before bed and then cry later so she'll come back in. This is so hard!!!!