Sunday, November 30, 2008


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

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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hand Holding

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bottoms Up!

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

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

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekend Update

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No Creative Title

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

David and That Other Guy

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 17, 2008

Fall Fun

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

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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What a Weekend!

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

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

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Times Like These....

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Halloween Video

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

2008 Halloween from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


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

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

Monday, November 10, 2008

Self Control

Since Eli was about Maddie's age, we've worked on the issue of self-control. For us, that means Eli folds his hands in front of him and doesn't talk or make other noise. This is something we've tried to teach as it is a necessary skill for doctors' office visits or school or church. When we started, we'd ask that he held this control for ten seconds at a time, usually right after a meal. He eventually worked up to a minute or so, but then we got distracted with moving and Maddux being born, and other consuming things like that. It came to my attention a few months back that Eli was seriously out of practice where self-control was concerned. Also, Maddux is now at the age when she needs to start learning it, so I decided to tackle them both at the same time. Mad Dog is working on it. It helps that she has a great example in Eli. She is at the ten-second stage now. Eli has been able to demonstrate self-control for five full minutes so far. Awesome!! I am so proud of him! Recent company threw our practice a little off, so we're back down to a minute or so (usually after meals), but we're working our way back up!


Here it is: here is the video of Eli and Gracie making out last night. The two were obviously very enthusiastic about their affection for each other!

Eli & Gracie's Lip-Lock from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Puppy Love

Eli loves Gracie. Gracie loves Eli. For as long as they've been on this side of the womb, that is the way it's gone. Just like Harold and Maude, just like Jim and Pam, just like Joey and Pacey...Eli heart Gracie. Always and forever.

Tonight the two betrothed reunited for the first time in several months. We try to get them together as often as possible, but that always turns into a few times a year due to the distance between them now. (Click here for other posts about their visits.) We had to wake Eli up because Gracie arrived before he'd woken from his nap, but he snapped right into motion when he realized she was waiting for him downstairs. The two played inside and out, getting to know each other again. After dinner they really got into the swing of things, playing guitars upstairs and dancing to some music on the computer. At one point Lehr asked them to sit on the couch so he could snap a picture. That's when the fun started. We suggested Eli put his arm around Gracie, which he did. Then Gracie's mom said maybe Gracie could give Eli a kiss on his cheek, which she did. Eli thought that was kinda cool, so he reciprocated. And reciprocated. To the point where Gracie finally put her hand over her cheek because it was enough already. Then the two wiggled off of the couch and started running around. But anytime they were near each other, they would give each other a kiss. On the lips. Holy Mole, Guacamole!! It's a good thing Gracie's dad was present, or Eli might have been in some hot water! I know most of it was fueled by the fact that the four adults present could not stop laughing at the was really cute to see them grinning and being so sweet with each other! We caught some of this action on video....I'll post it tomorrow. For now, here are more pictures of their love.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Run, Eli, Run!

Eli ran his first official road race this morning! OK, so he only ran 700 yards (actually more like 700 feet), but he had a number, there was an official gun-shot start, and he took home a t-shirt. I got up early to head downtown for my 10K while Lehr got the kids up to meet me about an hour later. Eli's race didn't start until two hours after mine, but I had read there would be some activities to entertain the kids. When the three arrived, we got Eli's number and pinned it on his shirt. This got him really excited. Then I ran him through a few quick stretches. He seemed to get a real kick out of bending and twisting like Mommy.

From there we walked over to a small putt-putt golf course. This totally occupied Eli's attention for the next ten minutes. In fact, when I pulled him away to get his shirt (before the rush that would happen after the race), he was a bit unhappy. Lucky for me, the mascots showed up about that time. Right after Eli's race, there would be a mascot race (same distance) for local business mascots. Eli's favorite was the Planet Smoothie one. His costume was hard to run in though, and Homer (the Braves mascot) easily placed first. We had a short warm-up (dancing the 'chicken dance') and then it was off to the start line. Eli was pumped. He kept telling me, "Mommy, I gonna run faaaast." The official gave us a "On your mark, get set..." and then he shot the gun for us to start. A girl about 7 or 8 easily won, but Eli had a blast and ran all the way to the finish. He received a green "winner" ribbon and we let him put on his race t-shirt right away. On our way back to the car, we walked through the parking lot where the old Braves Field is outlined with concrete. Eli and Maddux had a blast running the bases several times. Eli ran around the bases without stopping: that's a long way! This was by far the best race I've done in my life...I cannot wait to do more with Eli and Maddux.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

She Doesn't Stand A Chance

Poor Maddux. With Lehr and I in charge of her safety, she has a tough road ahead of her. The bad news is: she's already been dragged along that road. A few weeks back she had a car accident, leaving her face all banged up. Her scabs healed in a week, but the sensitive pink skin underneath is still recouping. Today I took the kids for a hike after breakfast. The weather is so nice and I thought it would be a great day to take some pictures of the two of them. Minutes after we were on the trail (two minutes, to be exact), Maddux fell down for the third or fourth time and landed her forehead on a rock. It wasn't a hard fall, but the rock hit her on her scar, which is still fragile skin, and she now has two more small scabs. Seriously. Who trusted us to leave the hospital with her 16 months ago!?!?

The walk down to the trail obviously proved to be a bit steep and rocky for Maddux, so I carried her down to the pond. Once there, however, roots became the next obstacle. There are lots and lots of huge tree roots protruding from the ground and until very recently, they have been a problem even for Eli. Speaking of Eli, all he wanted to do was 'run wiff my sis-ser'....but she was so tired of falling that she moved at a cautious snail pace (very unlike Maddux).

After about an hour of walking around the pond, fishing with a stick found by Eli, throwing rocks in the pond, and falling several more times, we loaded back into the car and drove to the church where we met Tyler and his mom for lunch. The boys had a great time playing baseball. The first 10-15 minutes found them sharing and playing without any need for adult intervention. WOW! Maddux and the boys ate lunch and played a little more before we returned home for well-deserved naps.

Field of Flowers

That is my end goal for Maddie's room. Right now it is a field of grass with a section of flowers. While Grandma Cathie visited, I snuck away one morning to work on the paint in Maddux's room. I only got a section done, but Maddie loves it. She runs in there each day while we're playing upstairs and points to the flowers...especially the bigger ones.

Maddux Room from Lehr Eliason on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life. Is. Good.

It's not even funny how much I love that kid. Eli is causing my heart to grow so much more each day. We've had a great week or so...lots of great family times and many memorable moments between the two kids. Today Eli was sweet to his sister (unprompted) yet again: when I was preparing lunch, Eli was building a track with his wooden train tracks. Maddux ran over to investigate and, as she often does, disrupt. Eli had been territorial and cross with her five minutes earlier when she did the same thing, but this time he took a different approach. "No, Maddie, no." (Said in a softer, gentle voice.) "Don't take careful! Don't hurt yourself!" I'm sure he was just as motivated, if not more, by his need to control the pieces as he was to keep his sister safe, but at least he opted for a softer tone.

Just now I put the kids down for a nap, which allows for a short one-on-one time with each kid. Most days, I put Maddux down while Eli reads in his room, and then I come read to him five minutes later. Right before I left Eli alone, I gave him his new National Geographic for Kids (Thanks, Aunt Linda!!) magazine that came yesterday. He is really starting to get into these small rags, especially because they include 6-8 small collectors cards in each issue. The cards show a color picture of an animal on one side and a 'fun fact' about the animal on the other. Eli and I spent most of the time reading about the animals and talking about their facts. Maybe half of them were related to dietary preferences this month. So when it was time to wrap up our story time, I asked Eli to pick out his favorite card. He picked a beetle and then he picked every other card also. After he told me each of them was his favorite, he told me what they were (badger, crab, dolphin, etc.) and then he told me what they ate. His perception of what they ate anyway. The dolphin eats rice, the crab eats worms and mushrooms, the squirrel eats trees and rice and pasta and tomatoes and worms and trucks. That last entry caused him to smile as he knew he was being silly at that point. I really did not want to leave his room because we were having such a good time. This age is sooo fun. There are tantrums. There are battles. There are hard times. But the vocabulary explosion and new comprehension of SO much makes it my favorite stage thus far. Thank you, Eli.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Teeth, Teeth, and More Teeth!

I think it's common knowledge that for the first two years of a child's life, they are pretty much always teething. The intense pain does come and go though, and Maddux had her share of that in the last few weeks. She was a drool machine, and her nose resembled a faucet as well. Sometime during the week of Halloween things got better and we saw a front tooth pop through her upper gum line. I was quite concerned about how much she struggled with that tooth because it was only a front tooth. Eli didn't really have teething issues until he got his back teeth and molars...the front ones didn't really phase him in the pain department. So tonight when I put Maddux to bed, I decided to do a finger check in her mouth to see if I could feel any back teeth pushing on the gums (explaining the belly-aching she's done recently). I was totally surprised to find two more teeth popped through! She now has one on each side, towards the very back. No wonder Mad Dog was so mad!

Be Still My Heart

Eli is a sweet kid. Yes, everyone says it about their children. It is still the truth. Most days he thinks about other people's feelings and sometimes he actually makes decisions based on those feelings! We've taught Eli about "Ladies first", but so far no major action in that area. If I'm up to it, I'll scoot in front of him before he runs through the garage door and gently remind him, "Eli, what should you say to Mommy when the door is open?", but a reminder is always needed. So after we had lunch today I needed to clear the table before joining the kids on the back deck. I told Eli he could go out ahead of me, so he opened the sliding glass door. Instead of yelling, "Noo. NOOOO!" when Maddux advanced towards the opening, Eli moved to the side and said (in the most gentle voice ever), "You wanna come out here wiff me?" She did and he followed through the door after her and closed it behind him. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I might not have believed it. Not that Eli can't be sweet and not that I don't believe he has that gentleness in him, but for the whole thing to play out in the way it did...amazing. Life is good.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Lazy Sunday

Ah Sunday. Even though it signals the end of the weekend, it is usually my favorite day because we spend it together. The morning starts with church, but then it is usually lunch on the back deck and a nap followed by some family activity. Today that activity was a favorite of mine and Eli's: mowing the lawn. I'm not a crazy person who likes yard work, but in the last year I've taken on the responsibility of mowing and Eli almost always accompanies me. As I was pushing the mower today, he followed closely behind, adjusting his controls every few minutes. When I stopped to empty my bag, he always told me, "My bag is full too, Mommy." So we had to empty his mower into the can after we emptied mine. During one of these drops, Eli made my day. Possibly my year. He looked me in the eyes and said, "Mommy, I like mowing wiff you." Sometimes I wish I could pause life and just live in certain moments for an extended period of time....

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Super Saturday

What a great day! Grandma Cathie flew home this morning, so we had the whole day to just hang out with no plans. The weather was AWESOME, so we made sure to be outside at all times. After breakfast we went outside to rake leaves and play in the yard. That turned into a soccer game which led Lehr and I to discuss Eli's future soccer career. We have a state-of-the-art soccer complex and organization just a few miles from our house, so we want to sign Eli up for the spring session (the earliest he could play, given his age). I am trying to use that as a dangling-carrot to entice him to seal the deal on this potty training thing. He is so close! Anyway, as we were talking we decided to drive up there with a few sandwiches and let the kids watch a few games. Maddux and Eli loved it. During the first game we watched, Eli shouted "GO!!" to one of the players and then snuggled into my arm, as if he was embarrassed by his sudden outburst of team spirit. Too funny. Maddux focused more on the food than the soccer, but she seemed to enjoy watching the soccer players run around also.

A few new phrases and words from Eli in recent weeks:
- "Aftername" We carved our pumpkin with a pattern titled, 'Flack Jack'. Eli reversed the names, always referring to him as 'Jack Flack'. One day he said, "Mommy...dere's our pumpkin. His name is Jack...ummm...Jack..... Mommy, what's his aftername?"

- "Sud-eee?" Eli loves to ask us "Sud-eee go to get bagels?" "Sud-eee pway baseball?" "Sud-eee mow da grass?" He is attempting to ask "Should we?", but his s-plus-additional-letter-words aren't perfected yet.

- "Soak" On that same note, most words that have another consonant after 's' at the beginning are hard to understand when they are coming from Eli's mouth. "Soak" is how he says 'smoke', "soothie" is 'smoothie', and "sie-ders" is 'spiders'. I think that one is my favorite. "Mommy!! Look at the sie-ders!!"

Donation Corner: Operation Christmas Child

I spotlighted Operation Christmas Child last year, but it's such a neat charity that I had to include it again. Every year, Samaritan's Purse collects thousands of shoe boxes (or plastic storage boxes of similar size) filled with gifts for children living in poverty. I personally love this opportunity to donate because it is a great way to involve the kids. Eli (and now Maddux) gets to pick out some toys, socks, toothbrushes, and other little goodies for 'udder kids' (as he calls them). Then he can easily sort them into boxes based on gender or age. Even though we don't know what country our specific boxes will go to, we talk about a few of the places they might go, and I try my best to explain to the kids why some people need us to send them hats and books. Some great conversations have come out of this donation of time and materials in the last two years, and I can only hope it's helping Eli and Maddux to be more aware and giving people. The collection week is fast approaching (November 17-24), so you don't have much time left to donate this year. If you miss the cutoff, you can donate year round by mailing your boxes to OCC's headquarters. If you finish your box by the 24th, you can drop it off at any number of collection sites.