Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Go Speed Racer

Eli and Maddux had their second Christmas on Monday with Grandma Cathie and Grandpa Jim. Eli's favorite gift by far is a small race track with a special Lightning McQueen car that goes around and around (and around and around). He LOVES this thing and he's tested almost all of his other matchbox cars to see if they'll work (so far only one does, kinda). The first day he got it, Eli seriously sat in front of it for an hour....that is a LONG time for that 3-year-old!

Maddux is working on another tooth, but she's still giving Grandma and Grandpa some fun times. Her new lip pout is the most talked about attribute. She uses it all of the time, not just when she's sad. It's like she's experimenting with new facial expressions. Maddie received several books and a flashlight, which she loves.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Four Box

Our church does a cool thing most weeks where the staff prepares a 'four box' containing activities, DVDs, CDs, ideas, and/or scriptures for us to share with our families or small groups sometime during the week. This last week we did not have service between the holidays, so the four box doubled as 'church in a box' to be completed on Sunday. We opted to wake up and use the four box as our church service. Lehr had the idea to pull out the blanket and a few quiet toys and have Eli and Maddux do blanket time during the sermon portion of the four box. Maddux was difficult at best; she couldn't understand why we wouldn't play with her for the first five minutes or so (the whole thing was about 17 minutes). Eli started out playing and whatnot, but when he saw us pull out a Bible and follow along with the pastor, he asked for his Bible. And he flipped the rest of the time. It was really cool...he even told me a story when we were done. Something about a woman making something and then a storm and Jesus. (He was using a picture Bible.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Grandma Cathie and Grandpa Jim flew in today to spend some QT with Eli and Maddux. We opted to not tell the kids about this beforehand, though it was hard to keep the secret. They arrived around the time the kids went down for a nap, so Lehr concocted a plan for them to surprise Eli after his nap. (Maddux hasn't seen Grandpa Jim since June, so we opted to not 'scare' her with a surprise.) While we changed Eli back into his non-nap clothes, I pretended to hear Eli's pretend phone ring. Then I picked it up and talked to Grandpa Jim for a second before handing the phone to Eli. When Eli talked, Grandpa Jim answered, from just outside of Eli's door. Eli got all excited, but he didn't run into the hall....I think the whole thing kinda confused him. Nonetheless, he jumped up and down about 100 times in the first two minutes of seeing both grandparents. Maddux took a few minutes longer to warm up which wasn't surprising considering we woke her up from a deep sleep. We went to our favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner (where the owner/manager/head waitress showed Maddie the special attention she always does), and then we drove by a nearby house with amazing Christmas lights. Both kids were excited to visit it again and they ran around showing Grandpa Jim and Grandma Cathie all of their favorite aspects. I think Eli asked my mom and dad 50 times tonight, "Are you gonna sweep here tonight and be here tomorrow? OHHHH...that sounds like a good dee-ah (idea)!!"

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Since Lehr and Eli were off camping last night, I spent most of my 'free time' while Maddie was sleeping to work through some old video of the kids from the last year. There have been a dozen clips that I've wanted to post because they showed Eli in such early stages of talking, or because of Maddie's early beginnings, but this one in particular tugged at my heart. The kids are in the bath and the lighting is horrible. Maddux was about 7-months old at this point and in those days we put her infant bath in the tub with Eli. You see the kids playing independently, Eli experimenting with acoustics underwater. Around 45-seconds, Maddux coughs and Eli says, "Bess ou, baby" heart melts every time.

2008 02 Kids bath from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boys' Night Out

I feel like so much of these "my-kids-love-each-other-today-and-I-need-to-tell-the-world" posts have so many similarities: sometime I could probably just cut and paste. But each instance is so unique and different, and 99% of them are unprompted, so I'm going to keep with the theme.

Lehr and Eli have been trying to take a short camping trip for a few months now. Weather or schedules always got in the way, and sometime in late November, Lehr resigned himself to the trip waiting for spring. (November in Atlanta saw many days with 19-degree temperatures.) With Christmas came some warmer weather though, and since Lehr was off of work, he decided to take advantage and head to the mountain today. Lehr woke Eli up from his nap around 3:30 and the two drove to Red Top, which is very close and very well-traveled. From the two phone calls I've had, it appears they arrived in time to set up camp and still hike down to the lake. They had a dinner of Mac'n'Cheese, candy canes, and water. Then they read books and turned out the lights (except Eli's special McQueen flashlight that Daddy bought special for this trip). I called at 7:30, as Maddux was taking a bath, to say 'good-night'. Eli got on the phone and talked to me for about 30-seconds before he asked, "Is that Maddie?" when she squealed in the background. "Kin I talk to her?" I put the phone on speaker and told Maddux that Eli wanted to say 'hi'.

"Hey, Maddie! How are you? Whatchu doin?"

She definitely recognized his voice, but her end of the conversation sounded like, "Wahhh. Bleee blooo. Whoooo-AHHHH!"

"K, Maddie. See you way-ter. I wuv you."

I talked with Eli for a few minutes about what he ate and what he saw. Then, towards the end of the call he said, "I wanna talk to Maddux again. "
Again with the speaker phone and Maddie's nonsensical vocals.

"Hi, baby sisser!! Whatchu doin?" "I reading books now. Good night."

Life is good.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Gems

Every year we learn a little more about how we want Christmas to look in our house. Last year the first gift we opened was a special box containing Baby Jesus from one of our Nativity Scenes. Eli then got to bring Him down and put Him in the manger. Before dinner we decorated a cake for Jesus' birthday, and we ended the day with stockings, including our Jesus stocking. (This stocking contains pictures and descriptions of gifts for Jesus - random acts of kindness or love done by our family in Jesus' name.) Since it went so well last year, we kept things the same this time around. However, Eli and Maddux were so tired by the time we got to the Jesus stocking that there was no interest at all, even though Eli very much got into the acts of love as we did them in the last few months. Next year we will do that ritual after we place Jesus in the manger.

One of the great moments for me today came after dinner. We had the birthday cake for Jesus right away so we could walk around the neighborhood and look at Christmas lights. Eli was very excited to sing "Happy Birthday" and blow out the candle for Jesus. And of course he was excited to eat a whole piece of cake. (My sugar police alarms were sounding...) After he ate his cake (and asked nicely for another piece before being turned down), he asked, "Could we give some cake to Jesus?" I told him baby Jesus probably couldn't eat cake since He was a baby. So then Eli asked if we could give some to the big guy Jesus. (This season Eli has been trying to make sense of 'big Jesus' vs. 'baby Jesus'.) I told him that was a great idea, but how would we get it to Him? I think it was Lehr that asked Eli, "Where is Jesus?" Eli correctly told him that He's up in Heaven. Then Eli said, "Maybe we could go in an airplane?"

Another Budding Photographer

Eli received a digital camera for Christmas. It's plastic on the outside, and it's designed to be durable for kids. All in all, a really cool gift from Uncle J. Obviously Eli sees plenty of the flash side of a camera, and now he'll be able to be the picture taker rather than the takee (is that a word?). Here is a quick sampling of the masterpieces he shot today. Obviously Eli is more of an abstract kind of guy. Notice the slight camera tilt on the one of Lehr....he's picking up some skills!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chirstmas Eve

What a great night! After naps, Eli and Maddux got dressed up in their holiday duds: Eli in last year's slacks and sweater vest and Maddux in her pink tutu skirt. Eli was so cute, calling his get-up 'work clothes'. He was so excited to dress up in 'work clothes just like Daddy'. The kicker is, Lehr never wears wool pants or a sweater vest. I guess it was the button up shirt that did it. Eli's outfit was topped off with his cool grey hat...he was quite a hit at church! Our Christmas Eve service was about an hour due to children staying in the service with their parents. Eli loved the music and the candles, and he sat very well with Daddy while the pastor talked. Maddie was another story. She sat for one minute here, 30 seconds there, but she was never attentive. I brought a few books and some snacks which helped, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. The good news is, I never had to leave the service! After the sermon and lighting of candles (which Eli got to participate in), I took Eli up for communion with me. He wanted some 'juice and crackers', but I explained that this was a special ritual he would get to participate in when he was a little older. Then I told him Mommy was going to stay on the steps and pray, and I asked him to pray with me. Eli put his little hands together and prayed with me as I thanked God for the gift of Jesus and for all of the special gifts we received this year. I was blown away by his focus, especially given all that was happening around us with communion and music on stage.

After the service we went to dinner with another family at a nearby restaurant. It was so nice to be able to sit and celebrate with them on such a special night. They have two children also, so the dinner could have been interesting. However, Lehr sat at the end where three of the four ankle-biters were, and he kept them in check! (That could not have been an easy task considering Mad Dog was one of the three and she was not wanting to eat or sit or anything else Lehr offered her.) Once we were full of food, we piled back in the car and drove to see a few Christmas lights. The best ones (by far!) were located in a neighborhood down the street from our neighborhood. They decked out the whole yard and house, Christmas Vacation style. Music, lights, candy canes, Santa, reindeer, snowflakes....they had it all. We got out of the car to take a closer look and the kids were in awe. Maddie kept running back and forth in front of the house, pointing her finger and saying 'do. do. do. do.' (This is her version of counting.)

Then it was off to baths and a short story about the Christmas story before bed. We incorporated the Nativity Scene in our Bible reading, which I think was really fun for Eli. He got to point out all of the people when they came up in the reading.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good Times

This holiday season has found us without any crazy, last-minute shopping trips. As happy as that makes me, I still took the kids to the mall for a quick tea stop. I think the last time I was in a mall, I was pregnant with Eli. I am not typically a mall-dweller and the idea of going so close to December 25th makes my stomach hurt. But I wanted tea. Really really wanted tea. So we drove 30 minutes to the only store I know that sells my tea and searched for a parking spot. Of course, said tea shop is located on a mall 'end-cap', but all nearby parking is valet only. So I drove up and down the closest non-valet aisles for five minutes until one finally opened up. (Seeing as we only had one stop, I opted to not bring the stroller with me, which is why I had to have a close spot.) Eli ran along side of me as I carried Maddux along the never-ending sidewalk leading to another sidewalk leading to the ramp leading to the entrance of the mall. Eli did great inside of the tea shop, putting his hands in his pockets instead of touching everything in sight. Maddux squirmed in my arms, but we all made it out in one piece. So six minutes after we walked into the mall, we were done. I thought it might be cruel to throw the kids right back in the car for another 30-minute drive home, so I asked them if they wanted to see some Christmas decorations. We walked to the center of the mall to see the larger-than-life stockings and Eli's attention was immediately drawn to the escalators. He didn't even have to ask.... I told him we could go down and then come up before we left. However, once we got to the bottom, there was a cool video game projected from the ceiling. It lit up the floor over top of a touch-screen-like jump pad. The kids ran around an 8x4 area, kicking pretend soccer balls or jumping on imaginary bubbles to make them pop. I told Eli and Maddux they could have ten minutes. (They were behaving so well and I thought that might be a nice reward for tagging along for Mommy's errand. Both kids had a blast. They jumped and ran with the other children, trying to figure out each game as it popped up. My favorite part came right at the beginning: Eli and Maddux stood just outside of the box, observing the current game. Once Eli grasped the concept, he started to step forward, but then stopped and looked back. He grabbed Maddux's hand and said, "C'mon Maddie....pway wiff me." He did this at least two more times before we left the game rectangle. I know I keep blogging about these fleeting moments of kindness between them, but I use this blog as a journal of Eli and Maddie's life, and I know there will be days in the future where I'll have to look back to remind myself that they got along so great at one point. So for now, life is good.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Holiday Weekend

Saturday was full of errands, cookie-making and an early Christmas exchange with Eli's godparents. After helping me make some sugar cookies in the morning, Eli and Maddie helped me deliver them to some neighbors and the mail-woman. Then they ran a few errands with Daddy. After their naps, D and CC came over for dinner. As much of a treat that their presence in itself was, they came bearing gifts. Eli received a McQueen scooter from D and Maddux opened a hot-wheels for herself. Then CC got them a kitchen to share. They were so excited. I don't think Sunday morning could come fast enough for either of them. (LOTS of assembly was required and it was already bath-time when we opened the gifts.) Sunday we went to church and then home for naps. Lehr woke Eli up a little early from his nap so the two of them could accompany the boys across the street to Monkey Joes. Maddie and I were to attend a Mother-Daughter Tea at the neighbors' house once she woke up. After the Tea and jumping, we joined said neighbors for a pizza dinner. The kids (four, in total) all had a blast, but they were all exhausted. Eli melted down a little before his bath, missing out on playtime with his 'sisser'. When I brought her into his room to say good-night, she totally grabbed him and hugged him hard. He hugged just as hard back and the two laughed for a good three minutes solid. Life is good.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


The past few weeks have made me pine for a blackberry or iPhone. Not for the bling-bling aspect, but for the record-keeping it would have allowed me. Every day Eli has said something on the way to school, home from school, during a trip to Publix, and again while we drove to a friends house....several 'ha-ha's' each day. My memory is not the greatest, so such a device would have helped me remember each and every one of the cute things that came out of his mouth. Unfortunately, these are the only ones I can remember, but they're good ones, nonetheless:

- I put Eli down for his nap mid-week after we read a book together in his bed. I was particularly sleepy that day, so I half-joked with Eli, "Can I sleep in here with you during your nap?" Of course my sweet boy said, 'yes' and snuggled up next to me. Less than a minute later, Eli said, "Can you sleep by yourself now mommy?" I guess that was his polite way of saying, "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." Just another reminder of the solo sleeper he is and always has been.

- I had my bi-monthly MOPS meeting at church this week, which means Eli and Maddux were in their respective classes for two hours. As we walked out of church, Eli held my hand and said, "Mommy, guess what I was thinking while I was at church?" Hmm...that could be a loaded question or a great insight into the ever-evolving mind of my big boy. "What were you thinking about, Eli?", I asked. "We should have pasta for lunch. Dat would be really yummy." I stopped right there, laughed and hugged him. Such simple things make him happy these days, and I love that his main concern in life was what we were having for lunch that day.

- Several times in the last month we've talked about the Christmas story. The manger, the angel, the wise men, and, of course, Jesus. This has caused Eli a little bit of confusion. Almost every time we talk about the manger, or Jesus being born to Mary, Eli asks, "Is that the big Jesus or the baby Jesus?"

- Speaking of the Christmas story and it's details, Eli is very good at re-telling how the wise men came to see Jesus. He knows a star guided them to the Jesus and he knows (three) Wise Men brought gifts. He usually forgets gold, but he always remembers frankincense (which he pronounces perfectly), and MUHHHRRRRRR!

- My favorite moment from two weeks ago was something that played out as I worked on the computer. Eli and Maddux were playing with their toys upstairs while I typed. All of the sudden I heard Eli playing his guitar. Then I heard a small whisper from Eli: "Maddie, play gently, like this. You wanna play guitar wiff me?? Come over here....sit down and I show you how." I turned slightly, as to not disrupt the awesome moment between them. Maddux reached out and strummed (somewhat gently) as Eli guided her hands (also somewhat gently). It was yelling, neither of them saying, "NO!"....just pure sharing.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cookies and Fire Trucks

The kids and I spent the morning at Tyler's house, making cookies for our second annual Fireman Cookie Bake. The boys and Maddux put sprinkles and tiny candy cane candies on sugar cookie dough, making sure to test the sprinkles themselves. I think Maddux was the first to swipe a bite of dough, and Ty was quick to follow her lead. The three then prepared brownies. Each of the boys got to stir the batter and add something to the mix; Maddux was off playing at this point. While the goodies baked, the kids played and looked at the Christmas tree. Considering how long we were just hanging out, everyone played very well together. When the cookies were ready, the boys each had a sample (Maddie had a pretzel instead) and approved of our work in the kitchen. It was then time to load everyone up and head down the street to the fire station.

Last year the boys got a full tour of the fire truck, as well as some souvenirs. The firemen were so nice again this year, taking Eli and Maddux to the truck to sit in the front. They even posed together for some promotional pictures for Monster (whose reps just happened to pull up at the same time we did with free drinks).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Big Day Out

Today was a big day for both Eli and Maddux. Once we dropped Eli off at school (his last day for the year), Maddie and I went to her Little Gym where she had her final class and 'graduation'. She was a bit tired, but Maddux completed all of the demonstrations her teacher asked of her. At the end, she was rewarded with a little medal. Ta Da!!

Mad Dog and I raced over to Eli's school once we finished her class so we could make it to his Christmas party. We walked in to find five very subdued, very well-behaved students doing a craft with one of the children's mothers. Eli's best buddy in the class is Sanjit, and his mom is the room mom this year. Let's just say she put my attempt at holiday parties last year to shame. She brought cupcakes, juice, and a craft. Then she made hot cocoa (with green tree marshmallows) for the kids to sip while she read two Christmas stories. Very very cool. Maddux was a bit crazy, but I tried to feed her some leftover sugar cookies to keep her happy. (I NOT me and so not a good idea, but I was desperate.)

My favorite part of the day happened during Eli's party. Almost from the moment we arrived, Eli was looking out for Maddux. He offered her cookies, a craft, and ultimately, his hot cocoa. He kept asking, "Mommy, do you think Maddie wants some cocoa? She can try mine." So sweet. Totally unprompted. I loved every second.

Here's a quick video of Maddie during her class; she can almost jump now!

2008 12 Maddie Little Gym from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


When we bought Eli his bed, we also ordered a bed-rail so he wouldn't fall out. Not all children need them, but given that he's used to sleeping with 'walls', we thought it would be a good idea to at least start out with some protection for him. The rails didn't come until yesterday though, so he's had three full days of sleeping naps and nighttime with nothing between him and the floor but three feet of air. Lehr offered to put the rails on as soon as they arrived last night, but I told him not to worry about it because I wanted to see if maybe Eli just knew how to sleep on his own. He'd done so well with it already, and rails just make the bed look like a crib, which defeats the 'big boy' purpose of the bed. Of course because we made that decision, last night was the night Eli fell out. Right around 4AM I heard a small 'thud' and then some crying. Lehr went in and Eli was just standing in his room (next to his bed) confused and crying. He got Eli back in bed and he's fine, but I can imagine that was quite a way to wake up! I guess we'll be putting the rails on tonight.

On a side note, Lehr had a quick photo shoot with Eli yesterday. While I cleaned up from dinner, he took the kids to the laundry room for some drum time. As always, Eli got very into it and even 'posed' when Daddy asked. This kid is already planning for an album cover!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Big Boy Bed

It finally arrived. Both the bed physically arrived and the transition from my baby to the bed he'll sleep in until he leaves my house. Wow...kinda scary. The bed was supposed to be delivered between 8-5 (nice window, huh?), but thankfully it came in the first hour. I rushed home from bootcamp to wait with Lehr only to find (at 9AM) the bed set-up, made, and Eli happily tucked inside of it. He was sooooo excited. All day long he kept telling us, "I love my big boy bed." and "Maddie, guesswhatIhaveabigboybed!" The bed-rails we ordered did not arrive yet, so we will have to brave a few days/nights without them, which worried me. Eli is used to having huge walls to keep him in bed, and he frequently snuggles up next to them, testing their strength as he sleeps. I cautioned him before his nap, reminding him that if he slept too close to the edge, he might fall out. So far no problems! He actually slept upside down during his nap, with his feet at the pillow and his head at the foot of the bed, on top of the blankets. I guess it's hard to get used to a new way of sleeping when for his entire life of three years, he's slept 'on top' with only his special blanket. Regardless, he slept successfully and didn't soil his pull-up during his nap (another 'rule' of ours for the big boy bed). Hooray!! Tonight's bedtime routine went great and he is once again sleeping happily in his new bed. For Eli, life is good.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Program

Eli had his very first school performance yesterday. As a dutiful parent with a video camera, I was there, taping the whole thing. It wasn't as boring as many might be in the future, mainly because it was short and to the point. The kids (3 and 4-years-old) all walked in wearing school shirts and paper reindeer antlers. Each child held the gift they brought to give to Toys for Tots. As they passed a large table, they put their gift on the table, 'presenting' it to the Marine who was there to receive them on behalf of Toys for Tots. The director made a short speech, thanking the Marine for coming, and he gave a short speech thanking us. Then the students lined up in front and sang a few songs, complete with jingle bells. I was amazed at the level of silence that could be heard when the music teacher asked the children to focus on her and not shake their bells. These kids are only pre-schoolers, but they listened so well! The funniest part for me was Eli's form of participation. He shook his bells and followed instructions, but I can't exactly say he sang.... His mouth was wide open the whole time (imagine a goldfish mouth), but through lack of lip movement, it was obvious that if he was forming sounds, they weren't the ones that went along with the song of the moment. Regardless, he definitely had fun, standing next to his buddy and participating the way he knew how.

2008 Eli School Christmas Program from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Precious First-Born

Every day Eli shows me more and more that he is a first born. Eager to please, reminding Maddux of things when Mommy forgets, and always making sure everyone knows the rules (even if he doesn't follow them). Today was no exception. After an uneventful lunch and short play session, Eli voluntarily used the potty and then received the reward of dancing to an extra song while I put Maddux down for her nap. As always, I reminded Eli to dance to the song and then go to his room once it was over. I heard him in the big room, rustling about after the song ended, but figured he just got distracted. As I was leaving Maddie's room, Eli called out, "Mommy! I cleaned the big room for you!" I turned the corner to see all toys off of the floor, put away in the bins or on top of the couch. Amazing. We routinely clean up, but never before has the cleaning bug hit him to clean so immaculately on his own. Even though the couch-stacking tactic will take me some extra work, I praised him up and down. I asked Eli why he cleaned and he said, "Cuz it was a MESS!" My sweet sweet boy....

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Amen. Amen. Amen.

I have been feeling this way for years now. Lehr and I made a conscious effort a few years back to cut back on our (useless) holiday spending on friends and family and each other. Why do the stockings have to be overflowing with cheap plastic trinkets that get lost before the day is through? Why do the gifts under the tree have to total a certain amount, even if it means buying things we know the person on the receiving end probably won't like? Silly. It's silly, I tell you. I am sure we've offended some friends and family. I'm sure a few of them have even thought, "Wow...I guess they just don't feel we're important enough to buy for anymore." That's not it; I assure you. We've really tried to be mindful of our gifts. They usually consist of more time-consuming sacrifices than wallet-reaching sacrifices. They are usually something that we hope will mean something years from now, not just for a few weeks after the holidays. And more importantly, we hope Eli and Maddux see that we use our 'extra' money to help people who don't have the means to provide for themselves.

For several years now we've participated in several charities throughout the year, and especially at the holidays. I'm not posting this to say 'yay us'; I hope this helps families who want to create similar traditions. We adopt a family with a terminally ill child for Christmas. Together with a few other families, we provide a Christmas filled with wants and needs for a family who otherwise would have a bleak holiday due to the demands of medical bills. Eli has really gotten into this practice the last few years, and I hope Maddux starts to understand a little more next Christmas. We also go through the World Vision catalogue and pick out a few things to buy for kids, families, and villages all over the world. Be it water or food or mosquito nets or soccer balls, Eli gets to choose how he wants to help.

I'm not doing a formal 'Donation Corner' this month. Instead, please seek out your own charity. I have several charities linked on my Donation Corner page if you need ideas, but I urge you to pray about it and find what need speaks to your heart.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

We finally got our tree up over the weekend. I usually like to do all decorating the weekend after (in fact, typically the day after) Thanksgiving. However, the last few years our tree has become quite dry and brittle the week leading up to Christmas, so that paired with rainy weather post-Thanksgiving prompted us to push the tree business back a week. Last weekend we put up most of the red and green decorations, the Nativity scenes, the various candles and stuffed animals that represent the holiday season. But I think we can all agree it's just not the same without the tree. I'd heard about a local tree farm that allowed patrons to cut down their own tree, adding significant life to the tree in addition to the fun that could ensue with two kids under four and a tree saw. After naps today we decided to give it a try. The kids totally got into it. Eli told everyone at church today, "We're gonna cut down a Christmas tree...a big, BIG one." Maddux loved walking around and petting all of the trees. And once we decided on one, Eli was all about helping Daddy cut it down. Luckily it wasn't too heavy because the one we picked was at the back of the farm, furthest from the cars.

We drove home and had a quick dinner before pulling out the lights and decorations. The kids played pretty well while I strung up the lights (cutting my hands up pretty good in the process). We had Christmas music on and Eli showed off some of his old dance moves. (He tells us about his "new dance moves" quite often these he said he only had old ones.) Maddux joined him sometimes and then pointed and yelled at the tree as it got brighter and brighter. After the lights were up, we allowed Eli to help us decorate. We let Maddie do it too, but she didn't get the concept. Not that Eli did: most of his ornaments ended up all on the same branch. The final product looks pretty nice. It's very different from previous years, but we like it! Here's a quick video spanning our evening; the focus went in and out due to the Christmas lights, but you get the idea.

Eliason Tree 2008 from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Random Memories

For whatever reason, I was thinking about this time of year THREE years ago. When Eli was the only baby in the house and he was just that: a baby.Ahh memories. Back to the days when Eli was little. He would sit in the bumbo and watch me cook. He would roll around on the ground and chase his toys while doing the army crawl with his bar. He would nap twice a day....
Things are definitely louder, less controlled, and more stressful now, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. As much as I loved those quiet days with my one little baby, the current wild days with my two crazy kids are awesome.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Finally. We have been struggling, STRUGGLING, with Eli and obedience recently. Small disobedience, but disobedience for the sake of it, so it has been something we've focused on. From the moment Eli woke up from his nap this afternoon, however, he was an angel. Seriously, I could not have asked for a better afternoon out of him. I took the kids out front to rake leaves and play outside as soon as they woke up. Between the rain and cold temperatures recently, we haven't had as much outdoor playtime as usual. Maddie was off and on with her mood, but given her teething situation I expected that. Eli was awesome; he raked almost the entire time with me, putting leaves in the bag to help me. And there was no whining or backtalk when I told him it was time to go inside so I could make dinner.

Once we transitioned inside, things got difficult. Maddux is hard to deal with during meal prep these days: she sees me in the kitchen and thinks she has to eat immediately. This makes things hard because she'll cry hysterically, pulling up on me and wiggling between me and the counter the whole time. Eli saw this today and helped out....all on his own. He started to share his fake food and pots with her, trying to distract her so I could cook. I never asked for his help, but he obviously recognized that it was needed. Amazing. He successfully got her to pretend cook with him (and it took two or three tries on his part), and he was incredibly sweet with her the whole time. At one point Eli was 'cooking' a few things in a pot and he cautioned her, "No touch cuz it's hot, Maddie", in a very sweet and gentle voice. Maddux looked up at him and signed 'hot'. Eli nodded and said, "Das right, Maddie. It's hot." They were having their own conversation and it was so cool to witness! She reciprocated the sibling love when it came time for her to accompany Daddy on an errand after dinner. Eli was still eating at the table and she ran over to him and hugged him (through the high-chair) before leaving. Life is good.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


My girl loves to read. Like mother, like daughter. I always had my nose in a book growing up and it looks as though Maddie might be the same. Her favorite thing to do right now is go into her bedroom when we are all upstairs. She closes the door and things get silent. Of course, that causes some concern for Lehr and/or I, but we have yet to open her door and find her doing anything other than sitting next to her bookshelves, flipping through a book. She also loves to sit next to the toy shelf upstairs and read books. Since we put a lamp in that spot last week, she now sits in the 'Mater chair after her bath and reads every night. EVERY night. I love it.

Maddux has some new signs and words now. She calls Daddy, "DA!!" She calls to him all of the time, and when he's not home, she looks at me and asks, "Da??" She calls cats "yeow!" and cows "oooh!!" (like 'moo'). Maddie can sign 'baby' (she swings her arms back and forth as though she's rocking one), 'sleep' (she lays her head to the side, on her shoulder), 'shoes', 'tree', and 'cereal'. She is also nodding all of the time. If you ask her a question and the answer is 'yes', Mad Dog is great at nodding as she looks at you expectantly.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

In preparation for the half-marathon, David ("D") and I took the kids to the expo yesterday morning so we could pick up our numbers and timing chips. Eli was totally interested in where we were going and what we were doing. When Lehr told him the expo was in Buckhead, Eli had to know where Buckhead was and any other details that might be pertinent. One of the most interesting questions he asked Lehr was, "Is Buckhead blue?"

Lehr and the kids slept in while David and I drove downtown, walked a mile or so, took the train, and walked some more before we even made it to the start of our 13.1 miles, but the three of them still made it to the finish line to cheer us on. Eli and Maddux were quite content to sit on the curb an watch runners while they munched on some dried fruit and other snacks. Lehr had even printed out signs for them to hold (GO MOMMY GO!!!), which was really neat to see as I crossed the finish line.

After naps (I even managed a quick 20-minute one!), we drove to D's house for Turkey dinner. The weather was unbelievably warm, so we played some baseball and soccer outside as the food cooked. Then it was time for the main event. Eli was so excited for sweet 'tatoes and the rest of it. Maddux ate everything in site, but Eli definitely favored the sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce. We took a short walk after dinner to make room for apple pie and ice cream, which we ate while watching some football. I put bibs on the kids and opted to have Maddie eat some of Daddy's dessert instead of making a whole bowl for her. This turned into Maddux wandering from Daddy, to me, to D, and even to Eli for bites of pie and ice cream. Quite the stray dog she was!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hand Holding

A few weeks back, my car was in the shop. It was only gone from us for one day, but for reasons too boring to blog about, we switched the car seats to the civic a full week ahead of schedule. This meant the kids' seats were right next to each other. The backseat is so small that their armrests actually touched. This also meant that they could reach out and make contact with one another. In future years (months??), this will spell trouble as it will inevitably mean they will be able to reach out and strike one another, or pull each other's hair, or some other fun-for-them-but-not-for-mom activity. This time around, the close proximity meant great things. Once inside the car each day, Maddux would give a little cry, and then a big cry until Eli extended his hand to the half-way point where she could reach it. Then they would hold hands. This would cause Maddie great joy and she would laugh and smile. Eli didn't seem to mind much either. Being the awesome big brother that he is, he always indulged her, even if he didn't feel like it. One day I happened to have the camera in the car and I couldn't help but stop at a red light and snap a few photos.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bottoms Up!

Maddux has a new trick: she can drink milk left from her cereal out of the bowl without spilling more than a few drops! (Yes, we celebrate even the most simple achievements in our house!) She picked up her ladybug bowl after breakfast one day last week and emptied it before I had a chance to stop her. When I noticed she hadn't spilled any, I was shocked. This has presented a new problem though. Now Mad Dog thinks she can drink anything that is in a bowl. Considering that she's only 16-months old, most of her food gets put into a bowl instead of a plate, so she now tries to drink pasta, beans and rice, and scrambled eggs....

After lunch today, the kids helped me tag and organize donated gifts for a family in Louisiana. Each year we apply to be matched to a family with a child suffering a terminal illness. Several other friends help out and we do our best to make their Christmas full of fun and gifts. The kids went with me to shop a bit this morning, but this afternoon was where the real giving spirit kicked in. I told Eli and Maddie that I was going to tag the gifts and they could play in the front room with me. Eli told me right away, "I want to help you, Mommy. Can I work diff (with) you?" He really really helped too. I parked myself in the hall (where it was sunny) and tagged the bag I brought in from the car while Eli pulled all of the toys and clothes and books and other gifts into the hall from the guest room. Two gifts in particular are in very large cardboard boxes that Eli had to push to me because of their size. He kept going back for more as soon as he brought me a handful. And when I had them all tagged, he asked if he could put them back in the room. Wow. All with a very happy smile on his face too. He kept telling me, "I want to go to Jazz Fest and play with these kids. I'll show them how to play drums."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekend Update

Another busy weekend. Another battle (or five) with Eli. Another photo shoot.

Friday night Lehr and the kids had a fire and hung around the house while I was out with friends. Eli LOVES having a fire in the fireplace. We haven't done marshmallows yet, but it's on the agenda for this week. Saturday morning was quite boring for the kids: we had errands, errands and more errands to run. We had several disobedience issues with Eli throughout the morning; he's going through a phase of let's-see-how-long-I-can-ignore-Mom-and-Dad's-instructions. Due to the amount of time outs on Saturday, hopefully he learned this is not a behavior that will continue in our house.

After naps we headed over to a friend's house for dinner. Eli and Maddux had not been to Ty's house in some time, so they were especially excited. The boys played pretty well together, and Maddie tagged along the whole time, trying to keep up with them. After dinner we went upstairs so Eli could see Tyler's new big boy bed. We are hoping to get one for Eli in the next few weeks, so it was fun for him to get hyped up about Ty's.

This morning we went to church and then to lunch with friends afterwards. Eli loved going to lunch with this family because their little girl, Faith, is his age. He sat next to her during the meal and even gave her a kiss on the cheek when we parted ways. After naps it was back in the car to head over to Cooper and Finley's house. We got a few pictures of the kids together, but managing four smiles is not an easy task. My favorite part about tonight was how well the kids all played together. At one point the boys and Maddie were downstairs (visible from the kitchen where we were) playing. Eli and Coop were manning the train tracks while Maddux was working her way through toy bin. The closest thing I heard to an argument over anything was a civilized discussion about whose turn was next. I'm sure there will be battles over nothing and everything next time, but for now, life is good!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No Creative Title

We had a pretty good morning, running an errand and playing at the house. I've been working on blanket time with Maddux more strictly, with less than desirable results. When she inevitably gets off of the blanket, I've started placing her in the pack-n-play with toys right next to the blanket. She. Hates. This. So now the problem is, she dreads blanket time because she equates it with being stuck in the PNP. I remind myself this is a process and I continue on the same path, at least twice each week. Today was the first time in a while that she hasn't cried hysterically the whole time. I didn't end up putting her in the PNP, as she mostly stayed on the blanket, and after the first ten minutes, she'd stopped crying and started playing. A novel idea!!

After our errand, the kids played on the back deck while I made lunch. Since we had a warm day (50-degrees!!!), I decided to feed Eli and Maddie on their outside picnic table. They both sat and ate really well (especially Maddux, who usually is a bit of a mess when she eats at that table). Eli tended to his 'fire' after lunch, building a stack of wood with our firewood from last year. He is very precise about how he places it, stacking one way and then the next.

In the last few weeks Maddux has picked up a few new signs: 'thank you' and 'night-night'. Today was the first time I've seen her sign 'thank you' totally unprompted. After she asked for more fruit at lunch, I handed it to her and she brought her open palm to her mouth. Very cool.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

David and That Other Guy

Eli's class gets to attend chapel once a month. This school year has operated a little differently than last, so some things have not been explained as well as before. I remember the older classes going to chapel last year, but I didn't realize until a few weeks ago that Eli was now considered 'older'. At some point recently I asked Eli, "Do you know Pastor Fritz?" and he told me that yes, he knew him because he talked to Eli's class in the big room. This was good news to me because it is great practice for Eli to learn how to sit and listen to a speaker when in a large group (all of the classes meet in the church together).

Since I saw Pastor Fritz in the parking lot today, I decided to ask Eli if he had chapel today. As luck would have it, he did! Immediately Eli informed me that Pastor Fritz told them about David and that other guy. The following is Eli's description, word for word:

"David put some wood on a string and he swung it around and around and then it hit that other guy in the head. He hit that really really big guy. That giant. Not on the nose...on the foreface. Right in the middle of his foreface. He not use firewood...he use house wood. Not from our house, but from someone else's house. From that guy's house."

On a side note, we had issues this morning and then again before lunch. Eli spent some time in the time out chair and received some correction before his meal. After the whole process, I asked him to put his shoes in our shoe corner. (We have an area near the garage where we remove our shoes before going upstairs.) Obviously Eli's first-child instincts told him he needed to make up with Mommy because when I just passed said corner on my way up to the computer just now, I saw that Eli had lined all of the shoes up (about six pair of Eli's, Maddux's and my shoes) in a row: nice and neat.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fall Fun

Here is a short video of the kids from this weekend. Obviously Eli, Maddux and Daddy had a great time Saturday night while Mommy was making dinner. I love love love how much my kids enjoy being outside, even when it's cold or dirty. Happy Fall, everyone!!

2008 11 Eli & Maddie & Leaves from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What a Weekend!

Busy times, busy times. Nothing major happened this weekend, but it felt like we were always doing something. Friday night we had pizza and then went to the living room for a BIG dance party. Eli pulled out the guitars and the drums and we went to town, jamming to everything from Fee to Beastie Boys to Van Halen. Maddie and Eli danced their hearts out and collapsed into bed shortly thereafter. Saturday was a bit breezy and cool, but that didn't stop us from hanging out in the front yard. With all of the wind and storms we had on Thursday, our yard and driveway were covered with leaves. Lehr rakes all of them into a HUGE pile and the kids had a blast raking and mowing over the pile. After their naps, Eli and Maddux ran through the pile, jumped into the pile, and had leaves poured on top of them, burying them in the pile. (I have some cute video of that - will put it up tomorrow if time allows.) We finished off the night with our "Family Movie Night". We watched the second half of Toy Story 2 as we munched on popcorn. As usual, Maddux made it through the popcorn and then wiggled out of her seat and ran around, climbing on people and getting into stuff. She's not quite at the age where Pixar holds her attention. Eli was glued to the screen though.

But today was the big day. This morning we had a live recording session at church which included worship for over an hour. And Eli got to stay in the service for the whole thing. We've been talking about this for weeks, so he was really pumped. Unfortunately he woke up this morning feeling 'not-Eli'. All of his vitals seemed fine, but he was very quiet and subdued. (Crazy, I know.) So instead of dancing in the aisles, working the air guitar and drums as we'd expect, he sat quietly in Lehr's lap for most of the concert. After naps, we headed back to the church for a Thanksgiving pot-luck. Eli was a bit whiny at the beginning, but a 1st grader sat at our table and the two boys became fast friends. Maddux alternated between turning up her nose to everything but Cheerios and dancing around the Great Hall. Kids are now in bed. Mommy is following closely behind.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Times Like These....

It's days like today that make me so glad I am able to stay at home with my kids each day and soak up as much of their growth and development as possible.After a late breakfast, the kids and I stopped through Marietta Square to see the trains. Eli has been asking about them for weeks, so we took advantage of the break in the rain to run at the park. The area behind the fence separating the tracks from the pedestrians is a great brick area, so I was able to get a few pictures of the kids. You can see more here. Eli totally loved seeing the trains drive by and honk their horn. (When you stand that close, the noise is LOUD.) Maddie wasn't so sure at first, but as long as Eli was laughing and smiling, she did alright.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Halloween Video

Nothing special about this clip other than it was the first year the kids really went trick-or-treating. The last section is my favorite and while I did slow it down a little, Maddux was really walking slowly. That paired with her dragging her treats behind her summed up the end of the evening perfectly.

2008 Halloween from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Maddie is not a happy camper. She popped four teeth in the last ten days. OUCH! I try to remind myself of the pain she's going through when she's especially whiny and/or clingy. The poor thing is getting a whole mouthful at once! Until about a month ago, she only had five teeth. The same five she'd had since she was about ten months old. It seems like she's making up for lost time now by growing them all in at the same time.

On another note, Maddux just turned 16-months last week. Eli started walking the day he celebrated that milestone. Maddux, on the other hand, is a sprinter already.