Monday, June 30, 2008

Batter Up!

Eli is obsessed with baseball. Anyone who has met him knows that. In the last few weeks he's gotten quite adept at naming correct Cubs' players when we ask him who plays certain positions on the field. He has also picked up a few things from watching the Cubs' games. When he is pitching, he'll look at the batter, then back at second base, and then back again before throwing the ball. He'll also scuff the mound with his foot and move his glove up and down a few times. My favorite new thing is shaking the catcher off. He'll nod no, then yes, then a confused no-yes before chucking the ball down the plate. And, as he has for a long time now, he'll always lift a leg as he throws. When Eli is the batter he'll do a few new things too. Most notably he'll tap the plate or his heels with the bat and give a few check swings. Here is some video from a few innings with Daddy out west last week.

video

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rub A Dub Dub

While we were on vaca, the kids each took baths in places other than a bathtub. Maddux took one in a copper pot two nights which prompted Eli to request the same service. Then we moved Maddie to a sink bath to make things easier for the last two nights. They both loved the different scenery each time, as evident in the video:

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La La La La Lemon

Hooray! Eli can pronounce "L" now! The day before we left Tahoe Eli said his name very clearly, out of the blue: E-Lie. He doesn't hit the 'lll' sound in every word, but more times than not he uses it. His new vocabulary now includes: E-L-i, L-ogan, ba-L, and llllll (his favorite). Eli's please is still 'pweese' and help is still 'he-p', but we're getting there!

Balloon Advocate Convert

So at the beginning of Eli's first water balloon fight, he loved the balloons but he did not like them getting 'broken'. He cried each time one would pop. After several attempts to show him that a water balloon fight was supposed to be fun, he finally understood when he saw one hit a tree. For some reason, that type of balloon-death wasn't so tragic to him. After that his only complaint was when other people threw them instead of him. Eli kept telling people (nicely, but telling them nonetheless), "No throw bah-oons. E-i do it."

video

Saturday, June 28, 2008

She's On The Move

Maddux took her first steps a few weeks ago, but since then she has not gone full-fledged into walking as I would have expected from her. (She tends to go strong into new things.) Since returning from Tahoe, however, she's taken several steps each day without much prompting from me. She has yet to let go of a walker or the wall and walk on her own, but if I'm holding her up with a hand or two, she'll let go (or I'll let go) and she'll take two or three before falling or sitting down. She also loves to walk with me, holding one hand and walking next to me. I LOVE this.

On an Eli note, Lehr tells me that he had a new prayer request tonight. After praying for some family friends to be blessed with a baby, Eli said "Thank whoo for Mommy." Then he went on (unprompted, per Lehr, but I'm not sure if I'm buying it or not) and said, "Please Mommy have baby." The whole thing sounds like a set-up to me...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggidy Jig

I think we should play some numbers in the lotto today.... And I am so not a lotto person. We just had another stellar plane ride with the kids. Maddux slept for the first hour. It took her a little while to settle in, but once she did, she was out. Eli plugged in to the DVD player and stayed happy with that for almost 90-minutes. We then had a food break and Eli moved on to another movie. Maddux didn't sleep any more, but she stayed happy. She was much less mellow than the first flight; this time she was more her loud, happy self, but she never got loud enough to be a problem. Unbelievable! We did a load of laundry right before we left Tahoe, upon Lehr's suggestion, and that has proved to be an awesome strategy for traveling. I just sorted and put away 90% of the clothes we brought and I am not faced with three loads of dirty clothes. Priceless...

Thanks again to Grandpa Jim and Grandma Cathie. The kids had a blast and Lehr and I were so grateful to get out on our own several times without any worries that Eli and Mad Dog were in good hands. You guys are the best!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day Seven: Tahoe Trip

The smoke got us again. Lehr and I got up early, got dressed in our bike attire and prepared to leave, but after seeing the thick smoke in the air, we skipped our bike ride again today. We ended up trail running a little bit, but three minutes of running at a time was about all we could handle due to the burning lungs. So instead, we packed and played with the kids all day. Eli took another long trip down to the creek. He fell in again, but this time it was Lehr's fault. Eli had crossed (on rocks) and was sitting on a rock by the shore. Apparently (as Eli tells it), when Lehr crossed over the rocks, he kicked Eli in the creek. Lehr assures me that his boot caught Eli and it was not an actual 'kick'. Maddux took a few steps for Grandma Cathie (finally!). Last night she (Maddie, not Grandma) took a bath in the kitchen sink. She loved it! We repeated that tonight and Maddux tried to wash the dishes that were next to her in the other sink. Eli played several innings of baseball with Grandpa Jim, Mommy and Daddy. Lehr drew him an extra cool field complete with a Cubs-specific on-deck circle. That kid has it good!! Tomorrow we wake up before the sun and get on a plane. Hopefully this flight will go as smoothly as the first one!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Day Six: Tahoe Trip

Ahh rest. It is a good thing! Today was a total lazy day for Lehr and I. The fires in wine country have made the Tahoe area quite smoky, and the air quality isn't the greatest. (You can see the picture of the shore appears to be at an ocean because the smoke is thick enough to block the view of the mountains on the other side of the lake.) We used that as an 'excuse' to not exert ourselves outside. We slept in until 8AM and ate breakfast with the kids. (Eli had been up since 7 or so, but remained somewhat quiet for Grandpa until I got him at 830.) Grandpa and Grandma packed up the car and the kids and went to the beach for the morning. Although Lake Tahoe is quite cold, the weather is awesome, so they had a great time playing in the sand and throwing rocks into the water. My parents planned well and brought some gardening tools for Eli (rake, shovel and hoe), which he loved using on the sandy shore. (Lehr and I stayed home and napped on the back porch in between reading and just hanging out.) The kids are sleeping now, but when they wake up we'll take them to a fairly flat hiking trail across the highway. I'm sure Eli will find many sticks to carry, and Maddux will pull my hair while she's hanging out in the backpack carrier. Life is good.

*Edit: Upon their return from the beach, both kids napped for a good few hours. I heard Maddux playing in her pack-n-play before she fell asleep though. When we got her up, I found out what she'd been so occupied with. She reached over the side of her bed and pulled at least a dozen of Grandma Cathie's shirts off of their hangers. Then she kept 95% of them in the crib with her. What a goof!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Day Five: Tahoe Trip

Lehr and I snuck out early this morning for another TRT hike. We parked at the end of the trail and grabbed a cab to the trail head. After an $80 cab ride, we were alone in the woods, struggling to find our starting point. The directions to this particular spot were a bit ambiguous, so we referenced the map(s) quite a few times. After hiking down and then back up a big hill (3 miles or so), we finally found our spot. Right off the bat we crossed some wild-animal droppings that I'm still convinced were the product of a bear. This gave us a quick reality check (bear sightings are not unusual, especially on the section we were hiking), but we made it the whole day without seeing more than birds or chipmunks. 15.6 miles later, we arrived back at our car and headed home.

Maddie was up when we got there...she apparently didn't sleep longer than about 40 minutes all day. The poor girl is still in pain from her newest tooth (her drool-factor is crazy high), and she is suffering a bit from pollen allergies. The insane pollen that hits Atlanta each year, leaving cars, driveways, and anything else outside completely covered in yellow has arrived in Tahoe. Grandpa has to blow off the deck at least twice each day just to make it tolerable to be outside. Maddux is feeling the affects of that, and she is not herself. Add that to the fact that she wakes up every other morning and Lehr and I are no where to be found...no note or anything...and it's not hard to figure out why she's so clingy. Eli did nap quite well though, allowing his body to catch up on some of the missed sleep from the night before. (And all of the nights before that.) Lehr and I ran out to have a dinner alone while the kids entertained the g-rents until bedtime. Apparently Eli insists on bathing in the copper pot now....we've created a monster!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Day Four: Tahoe Trip

Today marked the fourth day that Eli woke up before 7AM. My child is a late sleeper every day of the year (I sometimes have to wake him up at 9AM, even though he is asleep by 830PM (latest) most nights.) I think part of the problem is his location: he's sleeping in the same room as his grandparents, so when he wakes up at 6 or 7AM, he sees them and becomes the Energizer Bunny instead of rolling back over and catching a few more hours of sleep. I'm sure he'll catch up when he gets home, but for now he is wearing Grandma Cathie and Grandpa Jim ragged.

Maddux picked up a new skill today: she can navigate down the stairs with almost no falling! The reason she falls is she gets ahead of herself, so it doesn't really count. My parents' staircase turns 90-degrees at the bottom, leaving two steps before the floor. At the turn, Maddie seems to think she's gained the ability to walk and turns to face forward, on two feet. Duh...if you can't walk on flat ground, what makes you think you can walk down the stairs?! Luckily it's plushy carpet, so even when she falls (I let her fall a bit, the G-rents do not) she doesn't get hurt.

Eli ran in the sprinklers today. It was his first time and he seemed to enjoy it big time. Right before that, he was down at the creek with Daddy and Grandpa and he fell in. He did NOT enjoy that. Not only did it scare him (he wasn't trying to go swimming), but the water was frigid.

The highlight of the day came after dinner when we started bath time. Lehr had the great idea to bathe Maddie in a big copper pot so I could get some pictures. She loved it. Absolutely had a blast. Eli got in on the action by washing her face with the washcloth. Of course he wanted to take a bath in there too. So when she finished we filled it up again and let him take a dip. Outdoor baths = fun times!

Day Three: Tahoe Trip

We took the whole family for a mini-hike this morning. Eli slept in until 715 this morning (he has proven to be a very early riser on vacation, unlike his usual late-sleeper status), so we waited on Maddie to wake up before we could head out. We packed a few snacks, the hiking backpack for Mad Dog and we were gone. Eli recognizes that Grandpa Jim and Uncle J will happily carry him if he asks, so he's reverted back to his younger days, requesting to be held a lot, even when we were hiking. No worries, as we only went 2-3 miles total. Maddux fell asleep during the last 15 minutes or so, which isn't surprising given the rhythmic bounce she no-doubt felt in her carrier. Eli had a blast at our resting spot, throwing the ball with everyone. That kid can play baseball anywhere!

On the way home we stopped by a park and let Eli run around on the soccer fields. A quick lunch later and both kids were down for a nap. During that time, the adults filled up 50 or so water balloons so that we could have Eli's first water balloon fight on the back deck when he woke up. We did not expect that Eli would be the first ever water balloon-rights-advocate. He loved the balloons, but he did NOT like when they popped. He cried and said, "No break!" After ten minutes or so he finally enjoyed throwing them against the tree to break them, but it took some coaxing. By the time Maddux woke up from her nap, all balloons were popped and the tree was soaking wet. Eli did get into the squirt guns though (we called them 'squirters'). I'm personally not a fan of g.u.n.s, but I realize that there is no way to eliminate them from Eli's life completely. So we just omitted the g-word from our description of them, and tried to get him to not squirt in people's faces. Good times....

Friday, June 20, 2008

Day Two: Tahoe Trip

Lehr and I snuck out early this morning to go for a short hike. We planned on a quick six mile loop nearby, just to get the hiking vibe started. Since we decided on such a short jaunt, only packed a small amount of food was packed, and I opted for lightweight hiking socks instead of heavy duty hiking socks. That turned out to be a mistake. Halfway around the loop we ran into another trail head that led to the summit of Mount Rose (over 10K feet at the top). We decided to take it, but we had no idea how far it was... Could have been 5 miles up, could have been 10. Lucky for us it only turned out to be about three miles to the top, but that made our 6 mile hike a 13 mile hike. It was all worth it once we reached the summit: great views and lots (and LOTS) of wind. The last two miles were very steep uphill, and on the way back down I took a running start and tackled the ground with my hip leading the way (not on purpose), but we were done by 1PM, leaving the rest of the day for other activities. Although there was no snow at the summit, we had to cross through a lot of snow to get to Mt. Rose...90% of the Tahoe Rim Trail is still covered. NUTS!

Eli and Maddux had a great day with the g-rents. Eli ran them both ragged playing baseball, mowing the lawn, throwing rocks in the creek, digging in the dirt, and cooking on the grill. He also discovered the birds' nest that was located near the house. Three baby bluebirds opened their beaks to him every time he took a peek. Maddie wasn't quite herself. She got another tooth less than a week ago and it's still moving down at a quick pace, keeping her in a bit of pain. In addition, Tahoe got some crazy pollen yesterday...very similar to the yellow blanket we received in Atlanta a few months back. She's sneezing a little and just kinda 'blah'. But all in all, the kids did great. They didn't miss us enough to be a problem, which was good news to me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Day One: Tahoe Trip

Happy Happy Joy Joy!!! Our plane trip last night was (considering I was traveling with two young kids) AWESOME. The flight was delayed one hour, so we had extra time to kill at the airport before boarding, but that worked out well for dinner purposes. Once on the plane, Maddux fussed a little and then fell asleep on my chest and Eli settled in to the Cars DVD with the headphones. The only disturbance was sudden outbursts by him (he was wearing headphones) every few minutes: "Daddy, he goin' FAST!" "Look at Mah-QUEEN!" About 45 minutes later, Maddie woke up, but remained very calm and mellow the rest of the time. A few small frustration noises from her, but incredibly quiet, considering the loud child she normally is. Eli did really well also, watching movies on the DVD player for about 2 hours total (4 1/2 hour flight). We arrived around 10PM, so it was after 11 before the kids went to bed, but they were happy to see Grandma Cathie and Grandpa Jim.

Eli slept in a room with the G-rents and didn't get much sleep. I think he was just too excited to get up today and play with them. I think they finally pulled him into bed with them to play around 6AM (sooooo much earlier than his usual 9AM wake-up). Once we all ate breakfast, it was outside to investigate Grandma and Grandpa's yard...Eli doesn't remember the last time he was here, so it was all new to him. He found a lawn mower, a grill, and a b-ball hoop on the deck, courtesy of a garage sale (I think $5 was the total spent!). Lots and lots of playing occupied the morning hours for Eli. He is currently napping, so we'll see how much rest he'll make up for. Maddux has enjoyed herself also, warming up to her grandparents well. She accompanied Grandma Cathie and me on a walk this morning. She is a little unsure of her surroundings right now; she's definitely been a little clingy to me, but not enough to put a damper on her visit. Once the kids get up, we are heading down by the casinos for an outdoor farmers' market for dinner.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

W.O.W.

Big WOW moment for me today. Right before the kids' naps, we watched two youtube videos as a treat. Eli chose "Mee-says Suw-van" and Peaches. The first video is one that Eli loves because he knows one of the main 'stars' in the drama. She is part of the worship team and also a friend, so we see her often. Eli really enjoys the skit and he is starting to ask a lot of questions about it, which I love. Before today, the only two people he knew in the video were Mee-says Suw-van (Mrs. Sullivan) and "Zhee-zus" (Jesus). So I hit play and Eli watches the video he's seen so many times before.

"Das Mee-says Suw-van...... Das Zhee-zus."

Head nod from Mommy.

"He wuves me." (Said with a HUGE grin.)

Jaw drop...tears well up.

To me, that is a 'duh' statement. Jesus does love him...there was never a question. But coming from Eli (not yet three years old), it was huge. I've not been as consistent as I would have liked in my 'ministering' to the kids. I read an occasional Bible story with them, and we pray each night, but that's pretty much the extent of it most days. I'm so glad to know that somewhere in there (and through Sunday School too, no doubt), he has gotten the message that Jesus loves him. And it gets better...

After the first 30 seconds or so, another person appears on stage and Eli asked, "Who dat is?" I told him it was Satan.

"He good?"

"No, he's very bad, Eli."

"Oh. He bad." pause "Zhee-zus not bad. He good."

I swear I'm not scripting this, folks!! (BTW - the video was a drama set to "Everything" that our church performed this last Easter. Here it is if you feel like taking a look.)

So at the end of the video, Jesus and Mee-says Suw-van are dancing, happily reunited. Eli says, "Das Zhee-zus. He good, Mommy." "Mommy, He good dancer." Good to know, Eli.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Talk On

So Eli's language is a frequent topic for me to blog about...today is no different. He is really thinking things through and answering with his own conviction. I love it! He still tells me "No, she's too lee-tle." sometimes when I ask if Maddie can do something. And he is great about remembering what needs to be done. If we go to Harry's or Target and I need to remember five or six items, I always rattle them off to Eli in the car because he honestly helps me remember. Today the kids were in the double-BOB during our walk and Maddux's shoe fell off. He alerted me to it right away (like any good first-born would). I said, "Uh oh.... Oh well, we'll fix it when we get home." That was not good enough for Eli. He wanted her to have her shoe back on so he reached down to help her. Eli picked up the shoe, picked up her foot and tried to work it in. He was actually very gentle and he un-velcroed the straps just like he's seen me do several times each day. My favorite part was his commentary. Eli was so sweet with his sister, telling her, "Here y'go, Max. Den pull dis, den do dis."

All during breakfast, Eli and I talked about our day's plans. Eat. Walk. Play Catch. Lunch. Nap. After our walk, Eli took a spill in the driveway. This happens a lot and he usually just brushes it off, but we were having a more emotional day. That paired with the fact that this spill broke the skin and brought a bit of blood to his knee made him very wheepy. I picked him up and consoled him as he said, through many many tears, "Band-aid, pweeese??" I told him we could definitely get a band-aid. All the way down the driveway he kept on: "Band-aid, pweese?" Then, just before we hit the garage, he asked again (and I replied yes. again.), and then followed it up with, "Den pway catch?" (Then play catch?) Glad to see he didn't lose his focus.

On an unrelated note, Mad Dog has been a bit clingy and upset the last few days. She just broke another tooth (#5) and it obviously is giving her some grief.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Rub-A-Dub-Dub

More video of the kids. I heard a LOT of laughter the other night while I was packing. Lehr had both kids in the tub and they were having a blast. Here's a little sample of their good time.

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Choo Choo!!!

Before we left for the pool this morning, the kids played really well together and I actually managed to catch it on video. (PROOF!!) Eli is really big into people being the 'caboose' or the 'engine' these days. If he is walking in front of me, he tells me, "Mommy, whoo are the caboose. E-i's engine!" So when he started pushing Maddux's walker after breakfast, I quickly grabbed her and showed her how she could be the caboose. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more: Eli or Maddux. They switched after a bit, with Maddux pushing and Eli holding on to her, but that was more difficult as Eli's weight tended to pull Maddie down. Forgive me if the sound is too loud or if it is full of annoying background noise. I don't have my speakers set up, so I'm not sure what soundtrack got recorded. From my memory it was only the two kids squealing in laughter...

*Correction: Speakers are working...what sounds like crying at the beginning is actually Maddux laughing...go figure.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Yeah For Ice Cream!

After a corn and fish sandwich dinner tonight, the fam plus D ran (literally) to get some ice cream. Eli enjoyed a big cone of strawberry sorbet (yeah, it's not 'real' ice cream, but he loves it just the same), and Maddie had a baby cone of the sweet pink stuff. Though this was not their first ice cream (we also had some on Lehr's birthday), this was the first photographic proof I got of their consumption. Both kids had a blast and enjoyed their "peh-shell tweet" (special treat). The four-mile round trip run/walk left Lehr feeling jipped though; he thinks he burned more calories than he consumed.

Here, Fishy Fishy!

After a full week of pool visits (at least once per day) and several hundreds of jumps off of the diving board, I finally got a few pictures and some video. Eli absolutely adores the water these days. I am blown away by what he's picked up after just two weeks of watching 'big kids' swim and jump. While we took lessons, he never really got the concept of kicking and moving his arms to swim. Now he starts kicking as soon as he hits the water. The one thing Eli does remember from his swim classes is moving along the wall with his hands. He can do this in the deep end with no problem. He jumps off the diving board, kicks over to Lehr, climbs on his back to swim to the edge and pulls himself over to the ladder. When they are in shallower water, Eli 'swims' on his own to the side. Amazing! The one problem with Eli watching the older kids is he gets a false sense of ability. He often thinks he too can just throw himself into deep water and swim on his own. Luckily, most of the time he is wearing his turtle back (floatie seen in picture).

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Friday

I say it all of the time, but I never get tired of hearing Eli come up with new words and phrases! The formation of a little person is the most exciting, wondrous thing to watch....

Today I took the kids to our nearby park for a little boot camp. (Eli actually asks for it now!) After a few monster runs, the kids and I went over to the soccer fields. Eli and I kicked the ball around while Maddie played in the grass, walking with 'Mater and chasing after her whiffle balls. After kicking it back and forth with Eli a few times, I was in possession of the ball and Eli ran to one side of the goal.

"E-i is coach. Whoo are soccer player."

This seems to be a new favorite game for him: coach and player. If you are the coach, (I assume) your job is to tell the other person what to do and cheer them on. While Eli was the coach I heard: "Go, Mommy, GO!" "Kick it....GOAL!" We traded off a few times, but mostly Eli was the coach.

Last night when we were walking at the river, Eli told me he wanted to mow when he got home. I told him that Mommy needed to mow this weekend.

"E-i help, pweeeeeese! Whoo not mow when E-i nappin'. Whoo wait for me."

He repeated that last part about not mowing during his nap several times. Obviously he remembers a few weeks back when Lehr mowed while Eli slept.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day-O-Maddie

This morning I had Miss Laura come over to watch Eli so Maddux and I could spend some one-on-one. When I did this last week for Eli, we ended up at the Kid's Museum. I'm finding it's a little more difficult to plan 'fun' things for Maddux at this age....she still prefers a short nap in the morning, and since she's not walking, strollers confine her when we go to a crowded place. I opted to run a few small errands and then take her to the park and the pool. My hope was that she'd nap in there somewhere.

I took Maddie to the park because when we normally go, she gets stuck in the stroller while we chase Eli around. I usually get her out once or twice to swing, but between moving around to follow Eli and all of the other (bigger) kids, she doesn't get to stretch her legs much. The park is a little less crowded before 10AM (and much cooler!!), so I let her crawl a bunch. Maddie got to swing for as long as she wanted too....that was a long time. She absolutely loved it and giggled constantly. I tried to take some pictures of her as she was swinging, but she was moving so quick that none of them turned out very well. After she exhausted herself on the swings we went to one of the structures so she could crawl/walk a little. This didn't last too long because she kept crawling down to the mulched area where the traffic was a bit more congested. I wanted to put her on the merry-go-round, but it was always at full capacity. Finally I stuck her back in the stroller (she was getting a little sleepy by now) and walked over to the picnic benches. I gave her a snack and started to snap a bunch of photos. She gave me a few lion faces, a few eye-battings (check out the lashes!!), and lots and lots of puckered-up-eating expressions.

After a short drive back to the neighborhood, during which time Maddux knocked out 15 minutes of snoozing, we changed and got in the pool. This is another area that Maddie doesn't usually get full attention on, so I took her for a 30-minute pool session with just the two of us. She had a good time, but around 25 minutes she got a little fussy due to hunger. No problem: I packed her up and drove her home so I could switch the kids out. Eli had just finished lunch, so I passed Mad Dog off to Miss Laura for lunch and Eli and I went to the pool. He doesn't get the one-on-one there with me either, so that worked out nicely. I didn't let him do the diving board this time (I had a hard time swimming him back to the side last time), but he jumped off the side about 42 times. Eli is wearing his turtle-back floatation device all the time now, and he's really swimming well with it. I think he's probably working too hard at it, so it is not an efficient use of his energy, but it gets the job done for now!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Our Newest Pet

This is Eli's turtle. He lights up and projects stars onto the ceiling for Eli at night, and he's been in the house since Eli was younger than Maddie. Recently, Eli has taken to feeding him. Or rather, he's taken to instructing Daddy to feed him. Almost every night as Lehr walks out of his room, Eli calls out instructions for feeding said turtle. It started off that Lehr was asked/told to bring the turtle downstairs with him when he left. The next night Eli asked him to bring the turtle downstairs and feed him Cheerios. The next night, Hearts (Eli's favorite Kashi cereal). So on and so on. Last night it was pizza. This kid has quite an imagination about these things, and I must say it keeps me pretty entertained. Rarely a night goes by that I don't ask Lehr what was on the menu, per Eli.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eli & His Betrothed

Eli and Gracie. Gracie and Eli. No matter how many miles separate them, no matter how many months go between their visits, they still seem to have a connection. Maybe it's because they were born within 48 hours of one another. Maybe it's because Gracie is pretty much the only girl Eli has ever had in his circle of friends. Maybe it's because they're both so darn cute and they can't resist each other. Whatever the reason, I'm glad they get along so well.

The last time Eli saw Gracie was almost six months ago. (A recount of their other visits is found here.) He has a few pictures of her up on his bulletin board, so her name gets brought up from time to time, but for most kids, outta sight = outta mind! When I told Eli over the weekend that we were going to see Gracie, he got all excited. He immediately reminded me that she had an 'coo-stick' guitar. He also told me that he was going to play (guitars) with her. So this morning came and we loaded up the car, guitar in tow, per Eli's request. We met Gracie and her mom (whose name Eli knows very well, even though we haven't discussed it since January when we last saw her) at Monkey Joe's. It's your typical 'jump castle' gym; very similar to our Kangazoom. The (BIG) upside to MJ's was the three separate inflatables that were designated for ages three and under only. They were interesting enough to hold Eli's and Gracie's attention while still allowing for Maddux to be in there with them. Speaking of Mad Dog. She ATE. IT. UP! Loved crawling through the tunnels and over the obstacles. Her favorite part was exiting the netted area and sliding down the exit ramp. Good thing I was there to catch her, because it was a long way down and she would have ended up on the ground. Not that she gave that any thought!

After the kids jumped for about an hour, we drove over to a nearby park to eat lunch. After we finished our food we walked around the pond (full of ducks and a few varieties of geese) on the paved path. Maddux was in the stroller and the older kids walked a little ahead of us. All of the sudden we looked up and Eli and Gracie were hand in hand. Just like that. I'm not sure who initiated, but it was not a forced situation, so obviously they both thought it was a good idea! A few pushes on the swing later, I packed up the kids for the drive home. Maddux was asleep before we even hit the highway (it was 1:15 by this time and she played right through her morning nap). Eli is still talking about his date with Gracie....the kid is in love.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Out Of The Mouth Of Eli

"I be patient for Daddy."
After Lehr arrived home tonight, the kids and I waited outside while he went in to change into 'play clothes'. Eli was mowing (as usual) and informed me that his mower was full. I asked him if he needed to dump it in the trash. He said, 'yes', and I started to walk over to the gate where we keep the grass clippings. He stopped me and told me, "I waiting. I be patient for Daddy."

"I eat that at Grandpa Jim's house."
Truer words were rarely uttered. As we shopped our way through Harry's one day Eli pointed out items and named them in a sing-songy voice. "Pee-ches!" "Hearts, Mommy!" "Chi-cken Saw-sedge!" With each one, I'd tell him either "yes, we need that" or "not today". The last one had me laughing:
"Cooooo-kies!!"
"Not today."
"I eat that at Grandpa Jim's house." He sooo has his grandparents' number!

"Wind not blow my hair now." The temperatures have been brutal in Atlanta the last few weeks. One day it actually hit 96 (in early June, no-less). I was outside with the kids and Eli was mowing the grass. Again. (Is there ANY chance he'll still love to do that when he's 10?) We got a brief moment of movement in our otherwise stagnant afternoon. Eli ran to me and asked for his Cubbies hat. I gave it to him and he continued to mow. About five minutes later we received another welcomed gust of wind. Eli looked at me and said, "Cubbies hat works. Wind not blow my hair now."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Weekend Highlights and Lowlights

Another action-packed weekend in the Eliason house! Friday night we had our bi-weekly small group get-together. Eli and Maddux always enjoy the opportunity to get together with some of their friends from church and play. Even though I fed Maddie before we left the house, she ate another full meal with the adults. Obviously she is going through a big growth spurt because the double-meal thing is becoming a trend with her. I'm noticing more and more that Eli is aware of how much he can and can't get away with when we're outside of the house. In an attempt to reign that in, I carried out a time out during community group. (I figured I had to take advantage of having other sets of hands to care for Maddux while I tended to Eli. This is not usually the case when I'm out with them.) Eli was obviously going to carry on, so I took him out to the car and had him sit in his car seat until he calmed down. Then I started a 2-minute TO. This worked pretty well, and hopefully it sent Eli the message that the rules are the same regardless of where we are.

Saturday morning I took the kids to Costco which went surprisingly well. It wasn't a great trip, but no hitting or toy-time-outs resulted. I'm noticing more and more how much Maddux is trying to engage her brother though. Most of the trip in the cart was spent with her grinning and laughing and leaning against Eli. He wasn't too excited about it, but at least he kept his cool. "No, Max...no touch E-i!"

After a short nap, I woke Eli up so he could attend a birthday party. One of his (best) friends from school turned three and had a party at the local Little Gym. It was neat to see how much has changed in Eli since he used to take classes there last year. I found it quite interesting how much Eli tried to emulate the older kids jumping off the spring board, yet he didn't appear to be too much of a follower. (I know...contradictory!) He seems to follow the heard to a point, but if/when he finds something he likes, he sticks with it, no matter what everyone else has moved on to. The party was great, but Eli had a very rough period right before we went to the party. I'm sure it had to do with interrupted sleep, but he was out of control all the same. That seemed to be the theme for him all weekend....too many time outs to recount at this time. We are having better luck with him staying in time out since we started using a chair instead of a carpet square for him to sit on, but this is an ongoing process and we've not mastered it yet.

This afternoon we made a dinner trip to the pool with Cooper and Finley. Eli was so excited to have his friends over to the pool in his 'nay-br-hood'! Although I brought the camera, I did not get the ultimate photo op because I never saw it coming. Eli jumped off the diving board, all by himself! He has been standing on it and threatening for almost a year now, but today was the first day he actually took the plunge. He jumped in the water and Lehr pulled him up and helped him 'swim' to the side. Eli obviously wasn't scared off by the experience because he jumped several more times before the night was over. My day job just got that much more difficult!

No more walking for Maddux. I tried all weekend to get her to reproduce those steps, but she refused. She's going through a clingy-Mommy phase right now that I'm chalking up to teeth. I can see two spots up on top that appear to be teeth coming in. On a positive note, she is completely weaned and doing very well with whole milk.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Donation Corner: Angel Flights

I've posted a spotlight to Angel Flights already, but recent events motivated me to draw attention to the very worthy cause once again. (You can read the story here.)

Earlier this week a fellow clubfoot parent suffered a great tragedy during an Angel Flight home. The plane left Iowa City only to crash just after take-off. The mother and child (Sydney) were injured in the flight, and the child passed shortly after arriving at the hospital. Sydney had just finished meeting with Dr. Ponseti for treatment of her bilateral clubfeet.

This story hit home with me because, although I've never spoken directly with this parent, I followed Sydney's story on one of the clubfoot-parent message boards I frequent. I cannot imagine what Sydney's family is going through right now, but I know they'd appreciate any and all prayers right now. They were very grateful to have the opportunity to use Angel Flights, and to see Dr. Ponseti. Sydney's mom has told us on the board that of all places for this to happen, she was grateful it was in Iowa City, where she was surrounded by so many great people. She has had the support and love from her 'clubfoot family' through it all.

You may be thinking, 'Why are you spotlighting a cause that brought on such a tragedy?' This crash was a total fluke...accidents happen and in no way does Sydney's family blame Angel Flights. Their organization provides free flights to families who cannot afford them so children can receive necessary medical treatment that is not available within driving distance. If you'd like to learn more, you can read more about Angel Flights here. (There is not a link from that website to donate just yet, but you can donate here.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Firsts

It's been a week of firsts for Mad Dog. Her first pair of shoes that she wore a hole in. Her first fall down the stairs. And (ta-da!!) her first steps!! Just five minutes ago Maddie took her first (two consecutive) steps! She and I were hanging out in her room after she got dressed and I held her up to walk with assistance. Then I made sure she had her balance and let go, as I do a lot these days. Usually she balances for a minute and then sits down, but today she took two steps before losing her focus. Very very cool.

As for the trip down the stairs, that happened yesterday afternoon. With me standing right next to her. She crawls up the stairs on her own, but then she sits down on the top step sideways, kinda half-on/half-off. So she did that and lost her balance before I had a chance to reach down and grab her. She only tumbled 2/3 of the way down, and somehow she managed to not hit either surrounding wall. After her initial cry, she was fine. I did my best to check her all over to make sure everything still moved properly, but it appears that besides a small rug burn near her eye, she came away unscathed.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Bullpen Workouts

I've been holding on to this post in the hopes of getting some neat video or at least a good picture of Eli's new favorite past time, but it just hasn't happened. (So you'll have to settle for this not-so-great picture instead.) When the kids and I are out front I have to alternate my time a bit. First I'll play catch with Eli and then I'll push Maddie in the car, then I'll go back to Eli and so on and so on. While I was pushing M around the cul-de-sac this week, Eli decided to play catch 'all by self'. He found a section of (wooden) fence near the garage and threw the ball against it. He quickly learned that it bounced back to him. He immediately fell in love with this new 'game'. He lifts his little leg each time ('like the big guys do it') he pitches and then he squats down and picks up the ball in his glove before it passes him. Come to think of it, this is a really good drill for him to do on his own. The extra work is really starting to show also. Eli's skillz on the field are improving dramatically.

When Eli isn't warming up in the pen, he and I place catch where I'm usually the catcher and he's the pitcher. We play on the chalk-drawn baseball diamond we keep marked in the driveway. Our game starts like this: Eli tells me, "woo (you) be catcher. E-i's pitcher. (or vice versa)" and "Mommy, stand like dis." (He then squats down to show me how the catcher is supposed to stand.)

This kid is a sponge, as I've mentioned many times before. He constantly asks about things and he repeats the answers to himself again and again. Eli knows a handful of Cubs players. First base? 'D-Wee' (Derrick Lee). Pitcher? 'Big Z' (Carlos Zambrano). Catcher? 'Gee-oh.' (Geovany Soto) Right Field? 'K-oh-skay.' (Kosuke Fukudome) This kid has a knack for memory, so we might as well start filling him with stats and whatnot now!

As much as he loves to play ball, he still enjoys mowing the lawn at least once a day. Lately he's been telling me, "Mow gwass for Daddy. He be happy." This makes me laugh because I am the one who mows the grass most of the time, and almost 100% of the time that Eli is awake for... But for whatever reason, he thinks he's doing it for Lehr.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Random Eli Updates

We've had a few somewhat busy days. To start out the week, Noah came over to swim with the kids at our neighborhood pool. Maddux was not in her usual happy pool mood, but we managed to stay close to two hours anyway. The boys had a blast together, diving in the baby pool for Noah's dive sticks and 'swimming' with inflatable inner tubes.

Tuesday morning I arranged for a babysitter to watch Maddux so I could spend some one-on-one with Eli. I planned to take him to the Children's Museum, since that is something that is difficult to do with both kids at this time. Eli was whiny and moody, but it was still fun to go and play with all of the cool exhibits. Of course Eli loved the kitchen section the best. He stayed in there and 'cooked' for a long time. He also got to 'fish' in the pond, paint on the wall, play with moon sand, and entertain himself with the train tracks. We even saw a short circus-themed 'show' while we were there, which left Eli quiet and comatose. He was obviously in soak-up-mode, which he tends to default to in overwhelming situations. Later he recounted the whole show for me though.

This morning the three of us went for a walk that ended at the park across the street. Eli and I had a mini boot camp and then we played catch and watched the tennis camp activities. Maddux got very dirty crawling around, but she had a good time as well. I pressed my luck and did a quick Target run when we returned which went surprisingly well, given the unhappy state of the kids today.

We've had a few more time outs with Eli in the last week. One was pretty serious for us: he walked over to Maddie and bopped her on the head with his (plastic) bat. Lehr brought him right inside and put him in a time out. He stayed, though he cried the whole time. His bat is now in 'time out' also, for an undecided amount of time. Eli totally knows why too. If you ask him why his bat is in time out, he'll tell you, "I not make big boy choices." At least he's able to regurgitate what we're feeding him!