Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mothers Day Picnic

Lehr and Tyler's dad had planned to treat the mommies to a Mothers Day picnic in a nearby park several weeks ago. Due to weather and schedules, that didn't happen on Mothers Day, so we rescheduled for this morning. The weather was warm but very nice, and the park we went to was amazing. We set up a blanket and noshed on bagels, muffins and fruit while the kids played baseball and soccer. After a while Ty started to feel a little under the weather, so we put the kids in the strollers and walked over to a duck pond. We were met by a large group of rather friendly geese. They became even more friendly when they discovered that we brought bread. Luckily no one got nipped, but Ty's fingers came awful close! From there we meandered over to a small waterfall where Eli threw rocks and crossed a suspension bridge. (Tyler and Maddux were close to sleeping at this time, so they remained in their strollers.) My favorite part of the morning was when Tyler and Maddux were hanging out on the blanket. He wanted her to lie down with him, but Mad Dog is wiggly and would not comply. She was happy to 'wrestle' with him though!

After late naps at the house, CC & D came over for dinner. Carolyn and I went for a walk first and the guys took the kids to the pool. We met up with them in time to see Maddux showing off her swimming skills (when she lets go of the wall in the baby pool and tries to crawl, resulting in a floating baby right under the surface). She performed that for us several times and never got upset, which amazes me. Eli had a blast, of course, with the kick boards and jumping in the big pool. When they blew the whistle for adult swim, we all headed back to the house for pizza on the back deck. Eli ate four slices. Large slices. Slices that Lehr had three of and I had two of. Seriously. Lehr also treated Eli to about half of a strawberry fruit Popsicle. For those of you who remind us that we're too strict with our sugar police rule, it wasn't quite 'real' ice cream, but better than nothing! As soon as he finished the Popsicle he started asking for "ice Popsicles, please!!", which is just an ice cube in a mesh feeder. I have trained that child well.....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sign of the Times

Maddux is waving like crazy these days. She knows that when she hears someone say "hi" or "bye", she is supposed to shake her hand in the air. To my surprise Max started signing 'please' in the bath last night. I was playing along with her and she kept asking me (with her eyes, of course, since she can't talk) to continue our game. As usual, I signed please to her and asked her if she wanted my help, 'please'. She rubbed her stomach with both hands. Again and again. I got one of her displays on video...just for proof. (P.S. I LOVE the way she sticks her hand under the water and then brings it to her mouth, as if she could drink it that way!)

video

Date Night

Eli and Lehr had their date night last night. They ended up at The Flying Biscuit, one of Eli's favorite restaurants. After eating, they went to the Apple store in the mall to pick up our (fixed) computer. This was still very much a fun 'date' for Eli. Not only does the Apple store have a cool area set up for kids to play neat computer games, but going to the mall is something Eli has no concept of. Neither of his parents are mall shoppers, so this big, noisy, bright open space was like an amusement park to Eli. Lehr said they rode the escalators no less than 12 times. Before Eli's nap today I asked him about his date. He summed it up by telling me, "I ride da eck-sah-laters!" Cheap entertainment only for this kid!

Again with the reports on Eli's blossoming dialect. He creates these sentences that just crack me up. Sometimes because they don't quite make sense and sometimes because they are dead-on. He uses a lot of "my" instead of "me". (Mommy's playin catch wiff my.) And the usual toddler-use of "him" or "her" instead of "he" or "she". (Maddux is crawling! Her is crawling!") For the most part, E is using correct gender specification though, so I'm not complaining. And he can carry on 'real' conversations. When we discussed his date with Daddy, he was totally telling me all about it, in his own way....not much need for prompting. My favorite sentence of the day comes from right before naps when we were listening to music. There was a break in the vocals, but I kept singing. First Eli kept singing with me, but then he stopped and told me, "They not talking, Mommy." (After reading this post, Lehr informed me that he gets a similar phrase from Eli when they read bedtime stories each night. If Lehr pauses between sentences, Eli will say, "Talk about it, Daddy.")

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Eli Updates

We've had a particularly good few days with Eli. Yesterday he was just a gem, through and through. He shared, he used his manners, he played with Mommy and was very 'involved' in his play, and he rolled with the flow, even when plans changed. Today has been almost as good. Although we'd planned on a gym trip this morning (meaning the kid-zone for Eli, which he wasn't excited about), we ended up walking with Noah and his mom instead. Even though Eli loves Noah, he really wanted to stay home and play catch with Mommy, as he reminded me about 20 times on the way to our walk. In the end he had a good walk and was rewarded with a trip to see the horses afterward. We walked all the way down to the Polo fields so Eli, Maddie and Noah could see the horses. There were five or six behind a short wooden fence when we arrived. They were very friendly too; the horses came right over and stuck their heads over the fence to investigate us. Eli was not at all scared and he put his hand out several times to pet them. (I didn't let him because the owner wasn't nearby and my knowledge of horses and how to handle them is non-existent.)

Our neighbors were outside when we returned home, so Eli and Maddux played with them for a few minutes before we ate lunch. Eli shared so well with both the girl and boy, and didn't give me any lip when I gave him a 1-minute warning before we had to go inside. My favorite moment came during lunch: Eli was eating a banana and broke off a small piece, held it out, and said, "I got small piece for Max." Life is good when your toddler willingly and independently shares.

Eli is really into imagination these days. He often leaves toys in specific spots in the house with the explanation that they are sleeping, or eating, or a myriad of other activities. Last night when Lehr put Eli to bed, the last request Eli made was for Daddy to take his turtle downstairs. Lehr obliged, but asked what the turtle was going to do down there while Eli slept. E told him to make the turtle some eggs and water. Ooooookaaaaaaay. Door closed; conversation finished. First thing Eli said to me when I woke him up this morning: "Turtle downstairs eatin' eggs." Stuff sticks with this kid!

On the Time-Out front, we've made progress!! This weekend we started with 'the chair'. Instead of a carpet square or a step for Eli to sit on, we placed a kitchen chair in the other room for him to sit on during his allotted time out (we're up to 4 minutes). Genius. I will admit I had next to no hope that this would work, but so far so good. For now anyway! We've had about four time outs in the last few days and he has yet to get out of one without permission. I can see the light!! The tunnel is almost behind me!

In closing, Eli's baseball fever is running high. He loves loves LOVES playing catch these days. In the last week I've been working with him to get 'in front' of the ball when I toss it to him. (Since he insists on using a real baseball, I often toss it to him as a bounce, so he has some warning.) He repeats "in frunt ov ball!" back to me randomly during our play, and he really takes the advice to heart most of the time! Please hear me when I say that I praise him for his effort, regardless of his ability, as I feel the former is more important. But lately I have been able to praise the success a lot more.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mommy's Little Helper

My heart was warmed today by Eli's attitude and eagerness to help out and please Mommy. We had a great morning: a walk after breakfast followed by a full hour of catch out front while Maddie napped. We then came inside for a quick blanket time and lunch. After I cleaned up the kitchen, the three of us went upstairs to play a little before the kids' naps. I'd brought along a huge pile of clean laundry to fold at some point. The kids were in a good mood, so I started to fold and hang laundry right away. Eli offered to get hangers from his room,which he did a good job of. Then I hung all of his and Maddux's shirts on the hangers. They each have a low rod in their closet, so when Eli asked if he could hang the hangers in his room, I let him. He took three to start and minutes later he came back for more, hanging ALL of his shirts for me. Then he asked to do Maddie's. Since I was near the end of my stack by the time he helped in her room, I snuck in there to catch a glimpse of Eli in action. He was so cute, trying to hard to hang them just right, saying "Uh Oh!" to himself if/when the hanger didn't go on right away. It's moments like these that I need to capture on video because I'm sure in five years, we'll be arguing over him hanging his clothes!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sun In The Fun

We had such a great weekend, but it was a lot of busy busy busy. To combat that, after dropping the Mac off at the 'doctor' this morning, we all went to the pool to relax. Uncle D joined us, but I don't think he was quite prepared for the frigid water temperature. As luck would have it, the baby pool was closed due to 'circulation problems', so we were all in the bigger (colder!) pool. Eli enjoyed jumping in the pool, but he seemed a little freaked to go under or 'swim'...most likely a cold-water issue. Maddux was right in the thick of it though. Lehr found an extra kick board and put her on it; she had a blast! Several times he just pushed the board over to me because she did such a great job holding on and enjoying the ride. Summer = good times!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

She Is A Monkey

Max's newest 'trick' is swaying back and forth (usually while holding on to something so she can be standing upright) while making loud noises. Duh...she's a baby, right? It cracks me up though because often she's holding bars, like in her crib or outside of Eli's, so it appears she's at the zoo, performing for the visitors outside her cage. Last night she stood on our chair at the baseball game and gave the patrons behind us such a show...I only caught a few seconds on video because I spent the first 3 or 4 minutes laughing at her. This behavior tends to show up even more when Mad Dog is tired. She has entered that stage where she ramps up and is unable to slow down when she reaches the fatigue.
video

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Busy Weekend!

And it will keep going from here, I think. Last night we had our first pool party at the neighborhood pool. It officially opened at 4PM and the rain (torrential rain, at that) started at 3:58. We'd already paid the caterer and whatnot though, so at 5PM we decided to head to the clubhouse to collect our food. Once we'd filled our plates, the rain let up and the clouds started to clear. Moments later, the lifeguards gave us the 'all-clear' and the pool was open for business. As cold as it was, the kids both loved the baby pool. Maddux had chattering teeth, but she cruised around the edges a few times and Eli just ruled it every way he could. He used another child's kick board and loved it. Never mind the fact that he was not a fan when we used them in swim class... After an hour of chill bumps and shivering kids, we packed up and headed home. Upon arrival, Eli requested a 'cold bath'. What a goof nut. (No pictures because I never thought the rain and lightning would clear up for a swim, so I didn't bring the camera.)

This morning, Ty came over to hang out for a few hours. The kids all got along great, mowing the grass, blowing bubbles, and playing with blocks. He is always so sweet to Mad Dog, calling her "Maddie Moo" and kissing her hand. Eli only got frustrated with sharing his toys once, and there were no meltdowns by anyone!

We rushed through lunch to get the kids down for a nap because we planned to take them to a Braves game at 4PM. During the drive to the stadium, I asked Eli if he remembered what to do if a stranger tries to take him. He did. He told me, "NO! NO! NO! NO!" and "dun away" and "Fine-d poh-eess-man." And then he added, "Or a Cubbie." At least he knows who he can trust!

First thing when we walked in, we went to the station where Eli could get his face airbrushed. Lehr had talked it up to him and he was really excited about it. As we stood there waiting, he got quiet (as usual) and said to me, "Mommy do it?" in a little voice. I told him I wasn't going to, but I'd be right there and hold his hand. Then he picked out a baseball-player-figure for the lady to paint. He sat really still and let her do her thing (though I think he was pretty scared of the airbrush on his face). Of course, Eli's favorite part was looking in the mirror at the end product.

The kids did great at the game: we lasted close to five innings in our seats (we had an empty four seats in front of us which allowed Maddux to cruise while holding onto those seat backs without disturbing anyone), and then we went to the upper deck to walk around. It was much cooler up there (the temps were in the 80's today), and they have the COOLEST kids' area set up. Eli could run a baseline and stand on a pitchers mound. He loved this and I think he ran the base no less than ten times.

Poor Maddux had a bit of a hard time because she can't move around like she'd like. She is so busy and so active, but not walking independently yet. She is crazy fast with a crawl now though, so even when you offer to 'help' her walk, she doesn't want to because she knows she can get where she wants to go much quicker on all fours. When we went to the upper deck, I let her do that as much as possible, as it was pretty clean and not very crowded. The result (of course) was Maddux finding stray peanut shells from time to time. You know they ended up in her mouth because my girl likes to eat. Poor, poor neglected second child.

Between the seats, the airbrushing, and the upper deck, we all lasted until the ninth inning, and we walked out just as the game finished. A success in my book! They laughed back and forth in the backseat the whole way home, and then ate a quick dinner before baths. Of course both kids were asleep before their heads even hit their pillows tonight.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Quite A Mouthful

More gems from the last few days:

Big vs. Little
Eli told me today how some of his friends are big and some are little. He got them all right! Initially, I was just trying to see if he knew gender difference, as he's been a little confused in the past. I asked him, "Is Cooper a bird?" He told me "No, he a big boy." So then we went through all his friends. Any child of his age or older are'big' and any babies (Max, Finley, Owen) are 'little'. (And he got the gender right each time.)

"Das so nice!"
I often tell Eli, "That's so nice of you to ....." when he shares, or shows sympathy, or does something kind. Today we were at the park and Maddux was playing with one of the baseballs we'd brought with us. Eli asked where it was and I told him Maddux was holding it. He says, "Oh, Das so nice!!"

"Here ya go."
Last night in their bath, Eli was playing with the Motrin syringe, which he loves. All of the sudden he told us that he was going to give Maddux medicine. He carefully filled it up and used a VERY soothing voice to say to her, "Come 'eer. S'ok. Here ya go." Then he squeezed it in her mouth. He was very gentle, and I reminded him that we were only pretending to give medicine. What a little care-taker!

Signs
Eli is begging me to teach him more signs each day. Most recently he's become a fan of "Good night", "I love you", "Grandma/Grandpa", and "E.L.I" He remembers the new ones from day to day and he always asks me for 'diffent' ones. Looks like I need to brush up on my signs so I can continue to challenge him!

"Dohn know how dat happent!"
On the way to the park this morning, I had to stop because I had a rock in my shoe. Eli asked me about it, and when I confirmed that yes, there was a pebble in there, Eli said, "Dohn know how dat happent!"

"Moster!"
After breakfast I took the kids to the nearby park where I've been doing "boot camp" for the last month. I thought it might be difficult to get an extra boot camp workout in today, but I figured it was worth a try. Plus there are 7 or 8 baseball fields there, so Eli and I could play catch and Maddux could crawl around in the grass. It turned out that Eli loved boot camp and we both got in a great workout. He sprinted with me, shuffled back, did lunges (though his looked quite different from mine) and (his favorite part) ran up and down 'the monster' hill. I ran up and down that thing WAY more than I usually do during boot camp because it was Eli's favorite and he kept insisting on 'the moh-ster'. He took a big tumble the first time down (it is pretty steep), but he brushed himself off and kept going. Maddux enjoyed watching us and picking weeds for the groundskeepers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Outdoor Fun

Eli, Maddux and I met some friends at the Botanical Gardens this morning. The attractions are filling up around town, with school ending for the year, so it took the three of us twenty minutes just to get through the line! (We usually walk right up.) Tyler, Logan and Eli had a great time running around the Children's Gardens, playing follow-the-leader and exploring all of the attractions. We tried for quite some time to get the boys to put their faces through the holes for a picture, but after no less than 20 shots of mine (and who knows how many of the other moms), only one had all three boys in the holes at the same time!

Eli got really into the slide on the playground for the first time. The 'high water' was turned on, but I didn't pack a suit for Eli, so we skipped it this time. After a good two hours of playing and running around, we found a spot to eat lunch. I let Maddux out of her backpack carrier then, so she could stretch her legs. She cracks me up these days, with her dog-like mannerisms. She often puts things (toys, clothes, etc.) in her mouth and then crawls from one spot to another, and she has started shaking her head 'no' all the time. I have yet to see her use the shake as a real 'no'; usually it is more of a way to move her body to music or whatever.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

School's Out For The Summer!!

Eli had his last day of school today, complete with a end-of-year picnic. I made star PB&J sandwiches and banana muffins (cupcakes to the kids) for the summer birthdays. The teacher gave us some animal crackers and juice to round out the meal. For entertainment I brought bubble and chalk, though the kids didn't get into the chalk at all. At the last minute, one of the teachers told us about a school-owned small jump castle, so we pulled that out too. What a hit! The kids loved everything, especially the bubbles. I was really impressed that there wasn't any fighting over food, toys, etc. All of the kids are so used to each other, obviously. They did great waiting turns and sharing with each other.

Lehr was able to sneak away from the office which helped me BIG time. Had I been left with putting the picnic together and watching Max on my own, it would have been worse than this picture! She had a great time sitting on the grass with Daddy, eating dried apples. It's hard to believe the year is over; the teachers sent home the beginning of the year Polaroids they took of each child and Eli was a baby in his! Once again they told me what a sports fanatic he is, and they complimented us on his manners as he is always quick with 'please' and 'thank you'. Good reports are always a nice thing to hear!

Eli's Words

Some new phrases from Eli:

"E eats evey-ting!"
This is the name of a They Might Be Giants song that Eli likes. He applies it to himself because we call him "E" from time to time. And he speaks the truth: E does eat everything!!

"Hope it doesn't dain (rain) t'day!"
I drew a new baseball diamond for Eli in the driveway yesterday. Since we were a bit bored, I got elaborate, adding a home and away side, bleachers, stadium lights, and a few other extras. When I was done, Eli grinned and walked all around the chalk drawings. Then he pensively said, more to himself than anyone, "Hope it doesn't dain t'day!"

"I catch her."
After the chalk drawing portion of our afternoon, I pushed Max around in the red car. One of her favorite things to do is ride down the driveway on her own. (It slopes up just enough at the end to stop her from running into the garage or house.) Eli did not accompany us to the top of the hill as he was still inspecting his stadium. When I got to the top and prepared to let her go, however, Eli threw his arms out wide and said, "I catch her."

"Chalk-ate." "Hmmmm...maybe like hamburgers."
This was a random one. Eli and I have been discussing birthdays as there have been a bunch in the last month or so (Daddy, Uncle J, D, Grandpa Jim, and a few others). When he started talking about it the other day, he named a bunch of other people we know, assuming their birthday was coming up soon too (why not?). I told him that most of them already had their birthday this year, but Grandma Cathie's would be in a month when we visit her. He told me, "She eat birfday cake? E-i eat too!!" Then he told me what kind: "Chalk-ate", which is weird because I don't think this child has had chocolate except for one bite of his great-grandmother's cake 18 months ago. Nonetheless, I said, "Maybe. But what do you know about chocolate? Have you had it?" He said, "Yes, I dike (like) it." So I asked, "What does it taste like?" (He usually answers this question with "grapes".) Today he said, "Hmmm...maybe like hamburgers." So there you have it: chocolate tastes like hamburgers.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Good Times

When the day-to-day becomes difficult (as it was today with Eli), I hang on to moments like these. Lehr caught a few minutes of the kids laughing up a storm in the tub tonight. Eli was laughing at the Motrin medicine dropper, which has been a favorite toy of his for a LONG time, and Max was laughing because Eli was laughing. It's just that easy with her.

video

The Max Report

Maddux has hit that stage where she changes so much each day that it's hard to keep up. She finally started successfully eating finger foods in the last week. For over a month now she's been working with Cheerios and such, but dexterity has failed her, so she usually ends up dropping them on the floor in frustration. Now she shovels them in her mouth, handfuls at a time. She also eats Gardenburgers, graham crackers, strips of pears, asparagus, zucchini and apples, and pasta with her hands. On the new mommy-fed diet is tofu and chicken. As much as we can, we feed Maddux what we're eating for dinner these days. Some days go better than others.

Although she's talking up a storm, no 'real' words have come from Maddux's mouth yet (except the ever-present 'mamamamama'). She is starting to sign a little though. She knows "all-done" ends her meal and lets her out of her high chair, and I've caught her using that sign a few times when she wants out of the bath too. Though it's not totally clear that she's doing it intentionally, Mad Dog does clap her hands a little when she wants more food (similar to the 'more' sign).

Still no independent walking, but Max uses the walker all the time now, and she cruises whenever possible.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

We All Scream For Ice Cream!

In celebration of Lehr's birthday yesterday, the four of us walked to a local ice cream shop after dinner. Eli has had maybe two or three small tastes of ice cream in his life (remember: we are the sugar police!), so this was his first real ice cream experience! We'd had a difficult night with time outs and dinner etiquette issues, so we almost scrapped the whole mission. For this reason, I didn't even bring the camera; when we left the house we were leaning towards Eli not getting any. In the end we decided to show Eli some grace and let him have a small cone (the free baby cone they give to kids 3 and under). I gave him the choice of strawberry, peach or mango sorbet and Eli chose strawberry. He got really excited when I handed him the cone and he went to town. (He even gave Maddie a small taste, though she didn't seem to like it.) Eli wasn't quite sure what to do when he got down to the cone, but he soon figured it out and polished the treat off in no time. Of course he's been asking when we can do the 'Famee Wok and Eyssss Keeem' again. Good thing summer time is here - hopefully that can be a regular family outing!

Friday, May 16, 2008

D is for Drums

What an exciting 24 hours!! Lehr and Eli went out last night and purchased an electronic drum set. Lehr said Eli was loving the music store; lots and lots of guitars and drum sets and other instruments to look at. They got home rather late, so Eli was fast asleep by the time Lehr set it up, but first thing this morning, Eli asked me where his blue sticks were. (The sales guy gave him a set of 'kids' blue drum sticks last night.) We went over a few rules and then I let Eli sit and play drums while Maddux and I cleaned up from breakfast. He had a blast and I was oh-so proud when he listened to my instructions about what to do when the timer went off. (Put the sticks down cuz drummin' time is over!) An added benefit of the set might be the leverage tool it gives us with Eli and his choices. I've already explained to Eli that the drum set is a 'big boy toy' and that in order to use it, he has to make 'big boy choices'. That includes obeying, but if he doesn't, it definitely means going to time out if/when he is told. I've already had to take the set 'away' once today....I know he felt it too!

For now, some video of his early morning jam session. It's kinda long, but I hated to edit it down!

video

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Same Song, Different Day

So we're back in the time-out-tumble. Eli will NOT stay in a time out. I feel I've exhausted a lot of strategies to get him to stay on his time out square, and we've had some success. I remember a whole week that went by where he didn't like it, but he obeyed and went to his square to serve his time. It was so nice it felt like a month. Now we're back to the place where I cringe when he does something showing lack of self-control because I know what is next. Even if the mood is jovial, as soon as I tell him (calmly) to go to his square, he shakes his hands while saying "no" and starts to flip out. This tells me he doesn't like time out, which means it is a good consequence. But the effort it takes for me to get him to go to time out, let alone stay there, is Herculean, at the very least. (That is not to say I'm always successful. I still have to resort to the crib T.O. sometimes, which I do not like to do.) Not an easy feat when I'm also trying to feed/play with/keep alive Mad Dog.

So another plea for help. I've asked before and you've responded, but I need some more ideas and support. Please tell me what I'm overlooking. Eli is 2 1/2 (he'll be three in August). How do you keep a child in time out without strapping them into a time out chair?!?! (Speaking of which, that used to work for us as 99% of Eli's tantrums would be during meal time. I could just turn his chair around and set the timer - he couldn't go anywhere. Those were the days!)

Oh, and when I picked him up from school today, his teacher told me he had several time outs at school today. So he's acting up all around....the testing of limits is in full effect!!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sweet, Sweet Baby

I can hardly call her that anymore though. My big girl is so close to walking, and she wears 12-24 month clothing and a size 3 diaper (almost too small for her) even though she's just ten months old. Yet she is still my baby!

Maddux has been sleeping in this pose for the last three days. Whenever I have to go wake her from a nap, I get the pleasure of watching her sleep so soundly this way for a few minutes before she stirs. I'm not sure what it is about this sleeping position, but it makes me melt.

Instead of books before bed last night, Maddie and I just rocked while I sang to her. She was very tired and never once tried to reach for the books. She has become a huge book fan recently and will wiggle out of my arms once she's done nursing to grab a book. Last night she just lay her head on my chest and sucked her thumb. Eli was never a big snuggler when he was sleepy, so I ate this moment up.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Afternoon Laughs

Just after dinner last night, Lehr took the kids out front while I worked on a few things in the house. I heard the red car going up and down the driveway, so I peeked out the window to see who was driving. I shot this video through the window from upstairs, so you can't hear Max too well. She is beside herself with joy though, loving every minute of the attention Lehr and Eli showered on her. And as far as the over sized helmet goes (it is Eli's), I can only guess that Eli insisted she wear it, even though she did have her seat belt on.
video

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ruby

Eli says that to me before naps and bedtime now: "Ruby, pwease!?" What he's referring to is a song that I used to sing to him every day, four or five times a day while I nursed him (and now a song I sing to Maddux on occasion). He's referring to a song that I recently pulled back into the repertoire. He's referring to a song that is not very appropriate to sing to a child, let alone a toddler. He's referring to a song that, although not done originally by him, was a huge hit for Kenny Rogers (who is a big fave of mine). Finally, he's referring to a song that has recently been redone quite well by Cake and also, though not as well, by The Killers.

I've known for some time that Eli has quite a memory. He showed that off again the other day when I put him to bed. I'd only returned to singing "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" for two days (maybe singing it three times total) when he started repeating the lines to me. (Since the lyrics aren't PC, that is probably not a good thing.) So the last line of the song is "For God's sake, turn around", sung in a whisper. I tuck Eli into his bed, tell him I love him 'all the way up to the moon and all the way down to the swimming pool drain', and I sign "I love you" as I turn to walk out the door. Then I hear Eli whisper something. I go back to his crib and ask him, 'what?', only to find him grinning. He repeats himself but I still can't understand him. On the third go-round I make out, "Foh gossake, tern round." Well done, Mommy.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tiny Bubbles

When Eli completed his swim lessons last week, the instructors rewarded him with a certificate and a choice of prizes. In the grab bag were four or five different colored bubble containers. My all-boy, sports-obsessed son made a beeline right for the pink starfish. He wasn't ashamed, nor did he see anything 'wrong' with choosing pink over yellow, blue, or green. Gotta love it!

As it goes in our house, the bubbles were in a temporary time out due to Eli's insistence on using the phrase "RIGHT NOW!" when he receives a 'no' to one of his many requests during the day. The phase passed (for a day) and then I waited for a good outside day to allow Eli access to the bubbles. In the past, he's shown me in the past that he prefers to dump the soapy concoction or, better yet, attempt to drink it. I figured if we were outside, no harm - no foul. It turns out I didn't need the safety net; Eli did really well with the bubbles, even blowing a few on his own for the first time! Maddux loved when Eli blew them at her. I kept a bottle of bubbles for myself, so I could 'fill in the gaps' when Eli had a dry streak of unsuccessful blows, but he did pretty well. When I ran back to the garage to get said back-up bubbles, I came back to find Maddux (in her red car) laughing hysterically at Eli who was blowing bubbles for her. I know I keep harping on it, but these days I am overwhelmed with the love they have for each other. Life is good.

Miscellanous Manners

Eli's using some wonderful new language these days. Although he has been incredibly manner-ful in the past, lately he seems to have gotten lazy, dropping the 'thank you' from "No, thank you" and the 'please' from some of his requests. (In fact, he's taken to saying, "I dant (want) dat!" in place of a request which has really frustrated me.) Lehr and I worked on him this week with saying, "May I please have....." and it has really stuck with him! Sometimes we have to remind him, but he says it very well, and usually without a fight.

Speaking of manners, I taught Eli about 'ladies first' when we first started our swim lessons a month ago. He and I approached at least four doorways together on those days, so I thought it was time he stopped dashing in front of me. I told him to say, "Ladies first." as he allowed whoever the lady in question was to go through the doorway before him. Then we had to discuss who was a lady and who was not, which caused more confusion for him, but that's another story. I am proud to announce that yesterday Eli gave me his first "Ladies first" without any prompting. I almost missed it because I wasn't expecting it in any way! We were in the garage after community group (10PM), walking into the house. I walked up to the open door and he kinda shrunk himself into the corner by his play car and said, "Lay-deees, firsss!" Proud mama was I!!

As I've stated a few times recently, Maddux is standing on her own more and more often. The other day I was in Eli's room with the kids and Maddux seemed especially stable, so I pulled her into the middle of the room and tested her. I would put my hands on her hips to let her get her balance and then slowly take them away. More than half the time she would stay standing and then slowly lower herself to sitting. Each time she did, I clapped and said, "Yeah, Maddux!" Eli really got into that. Now he says to her, "Tand up, Max! Yeah, Max!", even though she doesn't stand on his command.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Happy Early Mothers' Day

Life is good. Eli came home from school yesterday with a bag full of gifts he'd made for Mothers' Day. It doesn't get much better than this.

Down On The Farm

The kids and I met Ty and Shannon at Washington Farms this morning for some good old fashioned Strawberry Pickin. Eli kept getting confused during the car ride, asking where the 'barn' was rather than the 'farm'. Regardless, he was excited to arrive, especially when he saw Tyler waiting. I packed Maddux into the backpack and we were off, ready to fill our bucket with as many ripe reds as we could find. It was not difficult, as the berries were all in great shape. Eli was interested in picking them for about two minutes. After that he either wanted to run, squish the berries, or eat them. He and Ty got very excited when the tractor drove by, carrying a wagon full of people. Unfortunately, that was the last trip of the day, but the boys were able to hang around the tractor after it was parked. Of course, wrestling and tackling followed. Each boy ended up in tears at different times because the other had him pinned. Hopefully Eli learned what it felt like to be pinned so the next time he thinks about lying on Max's head, he'll reconsider!

After our tractor visit, the five of us found a picnic bench and sat down to sample our finds. Tyler was so generous to share his granola bar with Eli and Eli thanked him by sharing his portion back with Ty. Maddux was squirmy in my lap, but she seemed to enjoy her day also, even though she couldn't get down and crawl around.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wordsworth

To be filed under Eli's ever-growing vernacular:

"Somebody's comin!" This is what Eli tells me now when he spots another person walking towards us on our sidewalk path to the gym. Or when we're running at the river (this kid often runs a full 1/4 mile!) and he sees someone in our way.

"No talk about it!" This could also be filed under Eli the moody-man. When he gets in his grouchy place, Eli often says, "NOOOO!" as he shakes his head and furrows his brow. This is in response to me singing or asking him questions or whatever. ("No sing!" "No play at school!") The other day when I asked him about something that we had planned for later in the day, he got in this mood and told me, "No talk about it!"

"Take picture for mommy." Eli loves to take pictures. He uses his Spiderman camera or one of our old cameras, and he is really starting to understand how to hold the camera up to his eye and 'shoot'. A few weeks back I noticed him getting down on the ground to get an up-close picture of one of his toys. Monkey see Monkey do! Last week he started telling me "Take picture for..." and then he'd name whatever or whomever he was taking a picture of.

"Uh? Uh? Mommy?" This is what Eli says now when he doesn't hear me. Rather than saying, "Huh?", he's taken to 'uuuuh?' And then when I don't respond, he says, "Mommy?", as in "pardon?"

Let Me Count The Ways

I know it will not always be this way, but right now I love how much Eli and Maddie love each other. Eli still gets upset if (when!) she drools on a toy or, worse yet, on him. And she voices her displeasure if (when!) he takes a toy from her and says, "No, Max!" But most of the time they are over-the-moon ecstatic to be in each other's company. Just last night I was at the top of the stairs with Maddux. Eli turned the corner and saw us as he started to come up the stairs. Maddux immediately started giggling and kicking her legs (I was holding her) when she saw him, and Eli responded by grinning and saying, "Hi, Max!" The two of them act like lovebirds who can't get enough time with each other. All day, every day, they like to be with each other and they laugh 99% of their shared time. Maddux absolutely adores her big brother; I'm pretty sure she thinks the world revolves around him. To be fair, hers kinda does right now. Lucky for us (and her), she doesn't seem to want it any other way. Life is good.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Beginning of The End

So I nursed Eli for a year...actually a year and a week or so. I plan to cut Maddux off a few weeks before her 1st birthday, mainly because of a trip we have planned at the end of June. That process started last night. I nursed her before her bath instead of immediately before I put her in her crib, like I usually do. The plan there is to back that last feeding up until it coincides with dinner and I can just give her a sippy of milk at dinner. Even though I am looking forward to having my body be mine and only mine for the first time in almost four years (pregnancy and nursing have claimed me since November 2004), I will miss the bonding I get from those special times with Maddux. Especially because those are some of the few moments she and I get to spend one-on-one. With Eli, it wasn't as big of a deal because after I nursed him in the morning, we still had the rest of the day to be with just each other. Not so with Maddux, of course.

Anyway, one of the good side effects of this weaning process comes at bedtime. Now I don't have to put Maddux down each night; Lehr can do it and I can put Eli down. Or even better, we can read books all together. Last night Eli came in to say good-night to Max as I was reading her a story (which happens to be one of his favorites too). He said, "I dant read 'back and forth' too!", and he stood by my chair for a few pages while I read to both kids. Life is good.

Donation Corner: MercyCorps

This month's donation corner spotlights a big charity: MercyCorps. It's similar to a few others, World Vision, for example, in that they offer opportunities to donate in numerous areas. I'm choosing to narrow down the donation to one specific area of need. In Jakarta's impoverished neighborhoods, breastfeeding rates are lower than low. MercyCorps offers a Breastfeeding Kit to help train counselors to support mothers and families (at a clinic) in their efforts to give their children a healthy start. The site mentions that breastfeeding has been called "a natural safety net against the worst effects of poverty." Indonesia's high rate of neonatal mortality and childhood malnutrition could be reduced by improving early and exclusive breastfeeding in these neighborhoods. So, in honor of Mothers' Day, this month I'm asking that if you feel led to donate, consider purchasing a breastfeeding kit to donate to the mothers of Jakarta.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Jazz Fest Video

It's only of Eli, and it's not much, but we didn't remember to use the video camera much. This clip shows Eli drumming on Daddy's shoulders, eating Crawfish Monica for the first time (and air guitaring to some brass band), dancing in his first "second line" parade, and jamming to Rebirth. Enjoy!

video

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Rebirth!

Eli chanted that most of our trip, and today he finally got to see them (Rebirth) in person. As we drove to NOLA, Lehr played a few Rebirth songs, one of which started with the call-and-answer chanting of "Rebirth". Eli loved it. He was so excited to see the tubas and other horns in person today....this kid loves his music!

After breakfast we walked down the street to catch a trolley. As expected, the kids loved it. Maddux liked leaning out the window and Eli couldn't get enough of the whole experience. Since we knew naps would be hard at the fest, we put both kids down for an hour before piling into the car.

Our first stop was the Economy Hall Tent which usually has more traditional (sometimes 'old school') New Orleans music. I wanted to spend some time in that tent due to its dance floor and frequent second line parades. During the first set, Eli got out on the floor and danced with Mommy, stopping every few bars to drum with the band (he had his straws in hand). A few songs into our dance floor stay, a little girl came over to say 'hi' and dance with Eli. Two peas in a pod. The little girl's name was Molly and she was three, so Eli and she got along great. They kinda yelled at each other (some type of weird tribal greeting, I guess), and then they hugged until they fell on the ground. Goofy, but they had a good time. After she left, I took Eli to the other side of the tent where he walked/danced in his first second line parade. The gentleman in front of us was kind enough to lend his umbrella to Eli, which he loved.

Maddux ate more veggie red beans and rice...she couldn't get enough! Napping was difficult on the second day though. She caught about 30 minutes during the fest, but that was it. I think it was hard for her to be cooped up in the back pack or BOB all day. The ground was much too muddy and dirty for her to crawl around, so she was antsy.

Both children expired a bit earlier today, so we left around 6:30, opting to skip the very last show. Tomorrow we load up the car and head home. Eli has already told us, "I like Jazz Fest. E-i go again next time?"

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Jazz Fest 2008

Today could have turned out so differently! We woke up to the darkest morning sky I've ever seen. The clouds were insanely black and lightning and thunder were continuous. The news reported hail and tornadoes nearby. Luckily it was only 9AM and Jazz Fest doesn't start until 11:30 each day. Miraculously, all precipitation cleared out right around 11AM. The fairgrounds were a mess though, and most people we saw at Jazz Fest wore rubber boots. Not a bad idea considering how much mud Lehr, David and I picked up on our feet. My back is killing me from carrying Eli most of the day, but that seemed a better alternative then letting him get muddy in the horse park mud (think about what is in that mud, people!).

Maddux was able to get a decent morning nap before we left, while Eli took to the swimming pool to pass the time. Given that extra activity I have NO idea how he made it the whole day without napping. Fest is quite entertaining, but he was up at 8:15 (early for him) and it was a very very full day.

We started out with some food and a brass band. Eli loved seeing the music and he danced around pretending to play trombones and guitars. After that, he moved to drums and stuck there most of the day. His hands were never without two straws that he used as drum sticks for his 'air' drum set. Maddux seemed to take all of the sights and sounds in stride also. She napped a short while during the fest, but most of the time she was looking around and entertaining other people. Maddux ate (and liked) her first veggie red beans and rice while Eli had his first beignet.

We stayed until the end of fest, which put us back to the hotel around 7:45. Maddux played a little in her crib, but Eli barely made it through his stories and prayers before he fell asleep in the pack-n-play. Minutes after Lehr left his room he went back in to video (with full lights on) Eli snoring with his blanket. I bet I can guess what he dreamt about tonight!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Road Trip

The four of us left Atlanta after dinner last night in hopes of breaking up the long car trip to NOLA. I was pretty confident Eli would not sleep in the car (even if we drove until midnight), but he'd most likely be quiet due to the late hour. Our plan went pretty well: we drove about three hours before stopping somewhere in Alabama at a cheap hotel. Lehr slept in a bed and I slept in the other bed with Eli and Maddux slept in the pack-n-play. This meant I got almost no sleep. We finally got all settled in around 11:30 and it took Eli and I a good thirty minutes or so to get comfortable and get used to all of the outside noises (we were right next to the parking lot). Then Eli fell out of the bed at 12:45 or so...luckily he didn't get hurt, but of course that startled him a bit. From then until 7:45 when we all woke up, I remember going in and out of sleep as Eli rolled around, pulled my hair, and hit me (all in his sleep).

We were back on the road by 9AM and in NOLA by 1PM. The kids were treated to a nice lunch down the street from our hotel before they took an afternoon nap. After they woke up we went to one of our favorite restaurants in New Orleans: Jacques Imo's. We met some local friends there, making our table rather large, but we arrived as they were opening at 5:30, so we didn't anticipate much of a delay. We were seated right away, but the food took a REALLY long time to arrive. Our meal lasted just over two hours. Even though the food was really food, that is a long time for two kids to sit. Eli and Maddux did exceptionally well....I have no idea how we pulled that off!

Back to the hotel for baths and stories and the kids were snoring within minutes of lying down. Tomorrow we head to Jazz Fest, as long as the rain doesn't ruin our plans!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Snuffleupagus

Maddux is suffering from teeth, allergies, or a cold (or all three). Her temp has gone up and down a little in the last few days and she's producing enough clear mucus for three people (not to mention the drooling). The main issue with this is her sleep is being affected. The drip down the back of her throat is causing her to cough when she lies down which makes sleeping a little restless for her. We've not had to go in and comfort her, but I can hear her coughing through the night, so I know she's not sleeping well. The screaming at mealtimes is still present, but we are being consistent with pushing her back from the table when she acts up. Eli says, "Max time out?" That kid picks up on everything!

On a side note, a friend pointed out a Ponseti-mention in Time Magazine. Apparently Time asked previous "Time 100" recipients to nominate someone for this year's list. Dr. Ponseti didn't make the final cut for the 2008 World's Most Influential People list, but the article is here if you're interested (only a small blurb).