Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Air Drummers Forever

Lehr shot this quick video while the kids were jamming to the Kings of Leon concert on iTunes. They love their music!

2009 12 Kids Air Drum from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Catching up on video.... About a month before Christmas we had a really warm leaf-raking day. Excuse the choppiness of the clip - something screwy with our video camera.

2009 12 Kids Leaves from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Little Mommy

Maddux received three 'dolls' for Christmas. The first from Santa: a Woody (Toy Story) rubber action 'doll'. She loves it! I knew she would, as she watches Toy Story 2 when we go on plane rides. Also, he has a string to pull and he says (according to Maddux), "There's a snake in my boats!!!"

The other two are more traditional dolls. And even though she is a crazy, rough-tough tomboy, she got into them right away. Picking them up like babies, feeding them like babies...even putting a diaper on one! It's so funny how instinctual some of that is.

Mad Dog is also very 'mothering' in another way: her 'I'm-going-to-tell-you-what-to-do' way. Yesterday we were downstairs and she saw the kitchen timer sitting on the living room table. This timer is typically used after breakfast or lunch when the kids do self-control at the kitchen table. Maddux knows this and told me some version of 'self-control!' as she picked it up. I nodded and she told me, "Mommy do seff-control." So I folded my hands nicely and zipped my lip. She pushed the button and started to walk away, but turned back around after a few steps and gave me a hard stare. Content that I wasn't talking or moving, she turned around again. Before she set it down, she stared at me again and said, "No tahkking.", very gently. Maddux picked the timer back up just seconds later and continued on with this act for a few minutes.

Of course, she had the pattern down perfectly. When I set that timer, I'm always cleaning up the kitchen, as self-control typically happens after a meal. And if I hear her make a peep (because 90% of the time, Eli complies), I usually freeze and give her the same hard stare. Or gently remind her 'no talking'. Crazy how much she obviously studies me. Well, less crazy and more scary.....

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Next Carter Beauford?

Maybe not...but who knows?! Eli is as big into drumming as ever, though he's been a little out of practice due to some revoked privileges as of late. Not that it's slowed him is a video of his latest practice session (which lasts 30-45 minutes usually). This video is only for the hardcore, as is this post. Hardcore fan, that is. There is not a lot of action involved, but if you pay attention to the songs he's playing to, and to his riffs, you can see that he's making real progress. His timing is usually not in sync with the music, but I love how he really listens to the music. And when the drums aren't playing, he's not playing. He studies Fee and Kings of Leon very carefully, and he knows a lot of those songs from start to finish, even if only in his head. I love, love, love how much he loves music!

2009 11 Eli Drums from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Play-Doh Dilema

Lehr finally had an opportunity to use his fancy FSU masters degree education this morning. Eli was anxious to play with Maddux's new Play-Doh set this morning, and he asked Lehr if that was ok. We were all still upstairs though, and unsupervised inside use of that stuff is a recipe for disaster. Lehr told him that use of the Play-Doh toys was fine for a few minutes until Mom and Dad were downstairs; no actual Play-Doh until then.

A few minutes later, Lehr made his way down and Play-Doh was opened. He asked Eli who did it and he pointed to Maddux; when Maddux was asked, she pointed to Eli. Perfect set-up for some good 'ole Game Theory! Lehr told them (more or less) that if they couldn't agree who was responsible, they would both lose Play-Doh privileges. Immediately, Eli fessed up and said, "I did it." Lehr calmly sent him to a time out and the morning progressed without a hitch. His degree just may help us raise these kids yet!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Even though Maddux was in her crib singing a fast-forward version of "Jingle Bells" until 11:05 last night, both she and her brother were awake around 8AM. We turned on the tree lights, put the pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove, cranked up the Christmas music, and went in to greet the munchkins. We quickly got dressed so we could go downstairs and start our day.

Eli remembered that the first thing we do is put Baby Jesus in the manger (since now He is here!!), so as soon as we went downstairs, that's what Eli did. We also quickly revisited our discussion about Santa and the three gifts, so Eli was excited to see what might have been left. He said, "I'm gonna open them all right up!" We'd talked about that and decided that Santa has to go to a LOT of houses, and he doesn't have time to wrap all of those gifts, so Santa typically just puts bows on his gifts. Sure enough, there were three gifts for Eli and three gifts for Maddux near the Christmas tree! Eli got two different Lego sets and some new 'BOB beginning reader' books. Maddux got a talking Woody (Toy Story) 'doll', a Dr. Seuss book, and a Crayola coloring 'thing'. The kids loved it. They played and played until we had breakfast (Dutch Babies and strawberries and orange juice).

From there we started with the gifts under the tree. Although taking turns to open isn't the easiest for a two and four-year-old, Eli and Maddie did pretty well. They each gave Mommy and Daddy special gifts, and Eli was VERY excited about giving those gifts...especially the one for Daddy. We took another break to play and good family fun followed. Maddie's play-doh factory got opened and the four of us sat at the table and made burgers, fries, hot dogs, pickles, chips....everything!

Next on the agenda was the stockings. We decided (as a family) to open the Jesus Stocking first, since it was Jesus' birthday. (*Side note: We haven't talked about who put the gifts in the stockings yet...the story we're going with for now, if and when they ask, is that Santa fills them if they're empty, but usually families fill them. We figure this leaves the door open for us to do a name draw for stockings in years to come. Plus, we put gifts in Jesus' stocking, so it may not make sense to them that Santa then fills theirs.) Eli and Maddux definitely got a little squirmy as we went through His stocking, but the end was amazing. Even though they were antsy, when we finished the last item, I decided to press my luck and ask them to pray with me for the families we helped in His name. I then asked them each to pick one of our gifts to Jesus to pray for specifically. Eli picked three: the family we bought mosquito nets for, the kids we bought soccer balls for, and the chickens we bought for a family. Maddie chose the kids we bought blankets for. I started the prayer and then passed it over to Eli. He did great...praying for the family, asking God to help them to not get bitten by mosquitoes, then Maddux took over, doing her very quiet, whisper prayer (pretty much the sweetest thing ever since she forces her eyes shut while she does it), then Lehr, and even after I closed us, Eli asked to pray more. He'd forgotten to pray for the chickens and he didn't want to miss them. It was really really good stuff.

After naps (well, Maddie's nap), we opened the last few presents and played until dinner. Maddux and I put the finishing touches on the birthday cake for Jesus and we ate our feast of fresh pasta, homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs. The kids each had a piece of cake and then we took a family walk. It was awesome! We bundled up in jackets and walked up the street to see the lights and Nativity Scene. Baby Jesus was now in the manger and the kids were very excited about that. Eli and I had a blast walking, running, skipping and bounding (he has taken to doing boot camp with me when we go for walks). Before we left the house, Eli told me, "I hope Daddy and Maddux leave first so you and I can walk together, just us." MELT!

The day has not been perfect. There have been some stern words, a few almost time-outs, and some frustrated 'why are we trying so hard' moments, but the good parts have far outweighed those times, and these gems have proven to us why we strive to do Christmas this way. Sure, the kids love the presents, but we have not opened much (at least by today's "Super-Sized" standards) and they could not be happier. They have been mindful about whose day it is. The four of us have spent quality time together, and nothing has been rushed at all. The focus has been off of the material and more on the experience. The togetherness. The celebration of Jesus. The one-on-one time with the family. The gratitude for what we have, excluding the presents.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Lehr had the day off and we had grandiose plans of taking the kids to the river to run around and let Eli ride his bike. We heard noises from Eli's room around 8AM and we brought him into our bed. Lehr then went and roused Maddux to join us. She was obviously still sleepy, as she just lay down silently next to us and occasionally sucked her thumb. After thirty minutes, we all got up, but Maddux was still in the emotionless, quiet stage. Very unlike her. I got her dressed and ended up carrying her downstairs. At this point I'd only managed to make her smile once, and even that was a stretch. Not two minutes after we walked into the kitchen, her stomach lurched and she vomited a little. I brought her to the bathroom in case she had to continue, but she just lay on the floor and closed her eyes. We'd already checked her head a few times due to her demeanor, but still no sign of a fever. I got her special blanket and set her up on the floor next to the kitchen table where Eli ate. She did sit in her chair for a few moments...long enough to eat about three spoonfuls of cereal. Then I took her back upstairs while the boys went outside. We decided to skip the river and let the boys go pick up Eli's bike (in a repair shop) instead. I put Maddux on my bed with her blanket while I wrapped a few last minute gifts. This is something she would not normally do. She'd be ants-in-the-pants, moving all around the bed, possibly jumping off. The poor girl kept drifting in and out of consciousness until finally she started snoring for good. She slept a good thirty minutes before waking up and instantly returning to her normal self. Weird.

We played at the house all morning and took a quick nap before church. It started to rain before we arrived at church, causing the day to be very gloomy and cold, but we promised a fire when we returned home. (Lehr got a few pictures of the kids all dressed up since I was already at church when they got ready. Same 'concentration face' on Eli as last year.) The service was great: short and diverse enough to keep the kids interested. Maddie was a bit wiggly, but she did alright.

After church we ended up lingering a bit longer that planned, and we still needed to get home to eat dinner and do Christmas Eve 'things'. Add to that the pouring rain and we decided to skip Christmas Lights until the next night. We lit a fire, ate a quick dinner and sat down to read Christmas books and open one gift. We read the kids' favorite book of the season (pop-up Story of Christmas), and a few pages from the Bible. Then, while Maddux was having success on the potty AGAIN, Eli and I talked about a few details. Up until this point, I don't think Eli knew what Santa's role was in Christmas. He knew he was a big presence, and he knew that reindeer helped him get around, but that's it. We talked about Christmas, and how it is Jesus' birthday and how He got gifts from the Wise Men. I asked him how many and he told me 'three'. Then I said that because Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birthday, we also get three gifts. And Santa brings them. At this point, Eli's eyes got really wide. He was already hanging on my every word, which was really cool, but now even more. I proceeded to talk about who Santa Clause is; that he's a Saint (of course there were questions about what a saint was/is) and that he became a Saint by bringing gifts to kids who didn't have moms and dads or homes. Fast forward to now when Santa brings presents to all kids (but only three). Eli's jaw was on the ground. NOW the questions came about how he could get around to all of the houses in Atlanta and Reno and China. Magic and reindeer were discussed. It was a cool, cool conversation and I really think most of his amazement was because of things other than the gifts.

We then opened one gift each. Lehr had the great idea to have them open the gifts they got for each other (to make them stand out a little more). Eli got Maddux the perfect gift, one that embodies the two things she loves most in the world (play-doh and food): a play-doh fun factory burger shop. And Maddie got Eli a cool fold-up match-box repair shop. He was ALL about it. One special cookie was put out for Santa, with a note, and Eli sprinkled reindeer food (made at school) on the front lawn. Oh the anticipation!

Holiday Gems

So we are talking alot about what is to happen over the next day and a half. Maddux is intrigued by us making a cake for Jesus' birthday. She just asked me, "Eat cake for Jesus? Jesus eat it too?" I tried to explain to her that no, He would not be eating it because He's not here. But He is here. Hmm... As I was trying to make sense of that for a two-year-old, Maddie helped me out, "Oh...He have his mouff closed?" Yup...that seems to be easier to explain than the concept of Jesus being with us but not physically being with us.

Again with the cake: we were talking about the birthday party for Jesus and how He wants us to celebrate His birthday with gifts and love and cake because He wants us to be happy. Maddux pulled her hands into her chest and, in her silly cute voice, said, "I wanna hug Jezussss." MELT! I told her that she was very sweet, but it's hard to hug Jesus because His body isn't here, but when she hugs other people (showing them love), it's like hugging Jesus. Then she hugged me. Life is good!

Eli's picked up another one of our household sayings: Sweet Sassy. Today he was playing with a toy and he kept saying, "Sweet sassy!!" Then he was explaining something about the toy to me and he threw it in there also: "See, this is his sweet sassy...and if he drives over here to this sweet sassy, he can go around the back and see the sweet sassy." Good stuff!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Maddux has been in the transition of potty training for a few weeks now, even though we haven't really done the full-on potty 'bootcamp'. I've had two half days with her (while Eli was at school for three hours), where we've done the underwear-instead-of-diaper thing, full on with lots of liquids and a timer to keep trying to sit on the potty. She's not had any luck with peeing, but in the other department, she is at about 75% success! And her lack of success is only when her requests to sit on the potty are not responded to. (Which is hard to do because she is VERY insistent and loud!) She will ask to sit when she has even the slightest urge, which means that sometimes she will sit four or five times before actually going, but it means less diapers overall, so I'm willing to do it! She is oh-so proud of herself too; she tells everyone, "I big guwel. I poop on the potty and get a *Sharkie." (*A Sharkie is one of the many 'treats' she may choose from when she has success. If she doesn't tell you about those, she'll tell you that she's going to get a 'tweet'.) Could not be prouder of my little girl right now...she is growing up so quickly!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Baby Girl

I've found myself a little sad lately. Sometimes I'm hanging out with Maddux and I hear her say something, or see her do something that is new, or cute, or funny. And I laugh, but I don't take nearly the pause I did when it was Eli doing that same thing. Boo. For example, the other night we were in my bedroom. Wrapping presents and whatnot was on the docket, and then Lehr came home. He took the kids out and I stayed to finish. Maddux was lagging behind, so she left my room when Lehr and Eli were already downstairs. She walked out of the room and I heard her loud footsteps stop a minute later: "Whoh...das a weally pwetty Christmas tee!" And then she continued on. Adorable! She's seen the tree a million times in the last two weeks, but for some reason its beauty caught her eye that night. And her verbalization of that beauty was oh-so cute. I smiled and chuckled to myself, but I'm sure when Eli did something similar, I rushed to the computer and blogged it. And I'm not getting around to it until four days later...just by chance!

I do come to blogger and type a draft post with little Maddie-sayings fairly often though. (She has a lot of them!) From this last week we have the following gems:
  • "Das God!!" We typically read from the Children's Bible each night before bed. The kids know several of the stories now, and they love to flip through the Book on their own during the day. The other day Maddie was doing just that when she came upon a story from the new testament which included a grown up, resurrected Jesus. She pointed and told me, "Das God!!" She was so excited to recognize someone on her own!
  • "No room!!" We have a really cool pop-up Christmas book, depicting the story of Jesus' birth. The kids LOVE this book. When we got to the page where Mary and Joseph were seeking shelter, Maddux started chanting, "NO ROOM! ALL FULL!" When you pull back the door in that book, you see the animals in the stable, and it DOES looks quite full (of animals).
  • "Tank you for makin' dinneh, Mommy!" The other day when Eli was at Lunch Bunch, Maddie and I were eating together at the kitchen table. We had just prayed and were starting our sandwiches when she looked up at me and thanked me. (For making dinner, but I knew what she meant.) I LOVE that she is understanding the importance of thanking the person who prepares meals for you! She is a crazy one, but such a sweetheart!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Video Time!

Maddux gave a short and sweet performance at MOPS this morning. The young pre-schoolers sang "Jingle Bells" and "Away in a Manger" for all of the mommies. No dresses to lift this time!! Of course, her singing reminded me of this.

2009 12 Maddux sing from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What A Sucker

Total cave. During room time if Eli opens his door, or knocks on his door to get out, there are consequences. So when I hear a knock just now (only about 20 minutes into it), I went upstairs prepared to deliver. But when I opened his door, he pushed up a lego sculpture with a lego man inside towards my face: "Look, Mommy! I made Baby Jesus in his manger with my legos!" How can I reprimand for that?!?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Potty Like A Rock Star!

So I still haven't 'formally' started training Maddux, meaning I've not spent a whole day (or even more than a few hours) in the process. We offer it to her all of the time, and she sits on it before her bath every night... Besides that, one day last week we had a few hours before gymnastics, so I put real underwear on her and fed her lots and lots of water, setting the timer to sit on the toilet every five minutes or so. She didn't have any success that day, but something obviously stuck!!

Over the weekend Maddux got out of her bath and went (naked) into her bedroom to get her diaper and pj's. Less than a minute later she ran out, saying, "I gotta go potty!" She sat, but nothing happened. So we resumed our nighttime ritual. She got lotioned up and then said it again: "I gotta go PO-tty!" She ran in and nothing. By this time, we are realizing that she probably really has to go, so we try to delay putting on her diaper for a little longer. It worked! A few short minutes later, Maddux returned and pooped on the potty...totally initiated by her! We made a BIG deal about it, of course. The best part was how excited Eli was. He happened to be standing by the sink, brushing his teeth when the celebration took place and he joined right in, congratulating her and telling her how proud he was. "Good job, Maddux! You're a big girl!!"

Fast forward to this afternoon when the kids and I are at Eli's appointment with the orthodist. Maddux looks at me and says something about 'potty' and 'treat' and 'big girl'. This is not unusual as she has talked about it (very proudly) since she had her success a few days ago. (In fact, she is so proud that she tells EVERYONE, "I poop on the potty!!") It sounded to me like she was informing me she was going to repeat her performance that night. I assured her she would, and went about doing whatever I was doing. She ran to the other side of the doctor bench and started to bear down. I jumped up and asked her if she needed to go NOW, to which she nodded. Thankfully, the bathroom was right across the hall...I could even leave the door open so I could see Eli (the doc wasn't in the room). She sat down and did the deed like it was no big deal. Fireworks. Fanfare. Applause. This girl is on a roll!! Once again, Eli was SOO the proud big brother. The whole ride home he told her, "Maddie, YOU get to pick a treat out of the bag!"

New Shoes

Eli has been resisting 'the shoes' at night for several months now. Before his last visit with Dr. Schrader over the summer, we were confident that he would no longer be required to wear them, so we were on a more lenient schedule (off one or two nights each week). This is a far cry from anything we've done before with his treatment, but he only started complaining a few weeks before the appointment, so we didn't think it would really harm. Unfortunately Dr. Schrader saw some slight relapse tendencies and ordered another year of nighttime wear. The problem was, Eli was (and still is) able to get the shoes off, so short of gluing them to his feet, we found it hard to guarantee 10-12 hours of wear each night.

In the last month or so we've started to question if maybe the shoes were too small, causing discomfort. I was finally able to get in to the orthodist this afternoon to get a new pair of shoes. Eli got his first pair of Mitchell boots at this appointment. Dr. Schrader is a big fan of them, and they are Ponseti-sanctioned, so we approve as well. They are made of a softer plastic, which makes for a more comfortable fit for kids. Also, the leather straps that go over Eli's feet are softer and more pliable, so (again) less discomfort. Eli was all excited to get the shoes today, but when I put them on tonight, I was met with some hesitation. I hope that after a few nights he realizes how comfortable these shoes are compared to the other ones and it becomes a non-issue.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Crazy Hat Day

Eli's class has been having dress-up days a few times a month recently. We had 'Crazy Sock Day' earlier in November; Eli wore a pair of very tame argyle-style socks. Not very 'crazy', but it's what he wanted. Last week was 'Crazy Hat Day'. I figured we'd end up with a baseball cap, but instead Eli opted for a Santa hat. LOVED it, since he's not too much for the 'crazy'. Of course Maddux had to join in. Once she saw him don a Santa hat, she had to pull hers on too. And of course that lead to Mommy pulling out the camera and getting as many shots of the two of them as possible. It was one of those "..if you give a mouse a cookie...." moments:

"...if you get Eli to put on a Santa hat, his sister will surely want to do the same. And if Maddux puts on a Santa hat, she will surely dance around like a mad woman. And if Maddux dances around, Eli will get crazy also. And if both kids are crazy, they end up being nice to each other, in the spirit of being goofy. And if both kids are wearing a matching 'prop', and hugging each other, Mommy will surely pull out the camera to capture the moment with a picture. And if Mommy pulls out the camera for one shot, a full photo shoot will surely follow...."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Baking

We've had a lot of cold (REALLY cold) weather this week, and schedules have been nuts, so it's been just me and the kids in the house, WAY too much. I decided to try and break up the monotony and work with the holidays by decorating some Christmas cookies. I figured we'd do sugar cookies so the kids could use cutouts and then decorate them. Normally I'd make baked goods from scratch, but the thought of trying to do that AND decorate with the kids was too much. So we rolled out the dough on the counter (with some flour sprinkled on first). As it always happens to me, the dough stuck to the (floured) rolling pin every other roll, creating a mess, but we continued on anyway. Each kid ended up putting straight flour in their mouths, which sounds incredibly gross to me, but I guess that is a natural consequence! Eli and Maddux cut out shapes of snowmen, stars, gingerbread men and trees. Then they put the sprinkles everywhere. After dinner they were each able to sample their masterpieces, which they loved. To top off the evening, I loaded them in the car and we drove around looking at Christmas lights. I wanted to go for a walk to see them, like we normally do, but it was in the 20's. Even all bundled up, unless it's snowing outside, that is just miserable!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More Proof of Learning

Eli is constantly impressing Lehr and I with his increasing knowledge of the Bible and the story of Jesus. He flips through his kids Bible during room time at least once a week, and he always requests that we read a story from it before bed. Between that and what Eli has learned at church, we hear a lot of funny, and sometimes profound, things from him!

Earlier this week we were putting up one of our Nativity scenes. We talked through the birth of Jesus again. Somewhere in the middle, Eli started talking about the crucifixion. He always asks to read that story in the Bible. So Eli told us that on Christmas, Jesus was born, but later He died. And He died because the guards poked Him (with their spears). Then he got all deep and said, "Mommy, they poked Him because they didn't know Him. But after they poked Him and He died, THEN they knew Him!" They really do absorb it all, don't they?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Eli and Maddux Funnies

Some gems from the kids this week:
  • Maddux and Eli brush their teeth and hair after breakfast every morning. This is sometimes interesting with Maddux as she is a BIG time 'player' in the bathroom. Water, soap...the whole deal. She does not have the privilege of getting her own soap these days (though I know she still sneaks it sometimes), nor is she allowed to get toothpaste. But she does sit in there and brush those pearly whites for minutes on end. The other day I went in to wrap up her morning routine: I said, "Rinse and tap, Maddie!" She shook her head 'no' and said, "I'm still teefin!"
  • The kids and I made batch one of two Chrstimas cookies after naps today. I built up the activity with them during lunch today, talking about what kinds of cookies we'd make and what we would put on them. We called Daddy during our meal and had our usual speaker-phone-conversation. Eli told Lehr, "We're going to make sprinkles and I'm going to make YOU a cookie, Dad! I'll use red and green....." Then he looked at me and (in a lower tone, so Lehr couldn't hear) asked, "By the way, do you have any other kinds of sprinkles?"

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Trimming The Tree

Big, grandiose plans to go cut down our own Christmas tree like we did last year. However, really REALLY cold temperatures hit Atlanta this weekend, and it was barely tolerable to go outside just to get into the car, let alone walk around looking for the perfect tree, only to then cut it down and drag it back through the field to the car. Instead, we opted to go down the street after nap time and pick out a 'pre-cut' tree. As luck would have it, we found a really nice, perfectly shaped tree right away. It wasn't even the cold making the decision for us: when we got home and set it up, no extra turning or trimming was needed. Eli helped Lehr with some outside lights. They did a great job, but when we turned the lights on afterwards, two strands were out. (Much frustration since these were new strands of lights and Lehr had already checked their viability before he hung them.) The kids were excited, no matter which lights worked and which didn't. The kids 'helped' us put ornaments on....not the easiest feat, but we all made it out alive. It was like a race to see how quick we could get the tree decorated. Eli and Maddux had no concept of placement or 'fragile'. If it was in the big box, it was fair game and obviously whoever got the most ornaments on the tree the fastest, won! If we'd had more time, a fire and hot cocoa would have followed, but by the time the last ornament was hung, it was already 9PM and the kids were toast. (So were Mom and Dad!)

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Meaning of Christmas

When Lehr and I had kids there were a few things we really wanted to focus on. Around the holidays, one of those things was the real reason for the holiday. Don't get me wrong; I love Santa. Always have. And we are not going to *deprive* our kids of the Santa experience. We just want them to get the other piece first, so (hopefully) the primary focus is not being 'good' in order to receive way too many presents. So we've read all of the "The First Christmas" books, we've walked through the manger scene, we've talked about why we celebrate Christmas.... We even have a Jesus stocking hanging up, and we make a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas day. So if nothing else, Eli and Maddux hear this stuff all of the time.

But as expected at about this age, Eli is starting to hear more and more about Santa at school and from friends. We knew it would happen, and hopefully we're prepared. We've talked about how we all exchange gifts to celebrate Jesus' birthday (instead of just Jesus getting the loot). And we've also read a few stories about who Santa really is (a very good person who gave to orphaned children). With the kids, we haven't really focused if Santa will bring the kids something, nor have they asked. But Eli did tell Maddux yesterday, "Maddux, when it's Jesus' birthday, do you want to get me a saw? Cuz I would really like a saw..." I love that he didn't ask for Santa. I love that he called the holiday what it is (or at least what we celebrate it as). And I love that he is still a regular old kid and we haven't prevented him from wishing for a specific gift on Christmas morning.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

My, Oh My!

Maddux uses that word all of the time: my. And I love how she uses it, so even though I know I should correct her, I often don't. She'll say, "Look what my did!" or "Eli gave that to my." She does know how to use 'me' and 'I', and she even refers to herself in the third person sometimes. But she hangs on to 'my' enough to make me smile.

After lunch on Sunday, Maddux had only one boot on. This is a normal occurrence in our house. Also, she had no dress on. She was wearing brown corduroy and her lunch included a peanut butter bagel. If you know Maddie, you would know that combo would result in PB smeared into the dress. So we took it off for her to eat. Between lunch and the picture seen here, she'd taken off her bloomers and other boot (and socks). She then stumbled across my green wig and put it on. I took her upstairs to help me fold some clothes before naps, but she came back downstairs for a toy. Then I heard the door to the garage open, prompting me to investigate. She was in the garage, sitting on her Hot Wheels. In a diaper. And a green wig. It wasn't too cold out, but normally I would require shoes, some type of clothing...maybe a shirt. But instead, Lehr and I grabbed the camera and he got this great shot. She stayed outside for a good fifteen minutes, playing soccer, riding bikes, riding scooters, and running around in the yard. Life is good.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

The kids and I did a real, honest-to-goodness craft after naps today! (Probably the most involved one I've ever done with both of them.) Yesterday we made a quick garland for the holidays, but because of the nature of the 'kit', there wasn't a whole lot the kids could do. Today we made little decorations for all of their friends and they did almost 100% of the work. SO fun. Only one time out: I left the table to get the camera and when I came back Maddux had used the pen and marker to draw on a tree. Eli was quick to tell me that HE didn't do such a thing...

*Sidebar: The two of them are so different in this area! It makes me think about those Dateline specials where they put kids in a room by themselves with some candy or other sweet temptations and leave (with a hidden camera on, of course), giving the instructions to not touch the goodies. Then the interviewer comes back and asks the kids if they ate anything. Eli would not touch it....he'd be tempted, but he'd stay strong. I think Maddux would be reaching for the sugar before the interviewer even left! And even as they showed her the footage of her indulgence, she'd shake her head and say, "I not do it".

Anyway, we had a great time, and I'm so happy to have these little 'gifts' to give the kids' friends: each one made intentionally for someone they care about. Of course we had Christmas music blaring the whole time too. It was a blast, but crafts are difficult with two busy kids! Especially for a mom who is not so crafty.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Button

It used to be my nickname when I was a kid. It may have transferred to Mad Dog after this trip. On one of our usual loud days, Maddux was talking, singing, chanting even more than usual. I asked her where her mute button was. She pointed to her nose without missing a beat. Of course we all chuckled and the question was posed to her several more times throughout the trip. The day before we left, I asked her where her off button was after the fourth time she sang the Creation Song mixed with the alphabet. She pointed to her nose, but then told me, "It not workin." Good stuff.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Family Snuggle Time

It is our last day in Washington and the kids are obviously as fond of 'normal' and 'routine' as Mommy. When they woke up this morning we sent them up to Grandma and Grandpa's room; they love to wake them up and snuggle. This morning they came right back down to our bed though. Eli and Maddux climbed back into bed with us and wanted to hang out with Mommy and Daddy. Maddie snuggled up with her blanket in between us. Then Eli came in and did the same. And then he threw his arm around Maddux and got all sweet with her. It was one of the most perfect moments ever. Eli has been very into 'family' things in the last several months. He loves doing things all four of us, and he often suggests that we do stuff 'with Mommy, Daddy, Maddux AND Eli'. Life is good.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Burger Time

We had a very rare occurrence this week in Coeur d'Alene. I ate red meat. Twice! There is a cool little hamburger joint that has been here since I lived here (25 years ago!!), and we never come to town without stopping by. They have the neatest bar seating and their menu is less than ten items. The whole gang went to Hudson's for lunch today. Eli absolutely loved sitting in the big seats and ordering a 'single' for himself. He told me he was going to eat eight burgers, and he said he wanted to start with a double. I told him we'd start with a single, but as long as he wanted to keep ordering them, I'd let him. He ate one and ordered another, but I ended up with about 1/3 of it, so his streak ended there. Maddux apparently ate plenty down near Grandma and Grandpa too. She only spilled one glass of water, so it was a success. I had a blast taking some pictures of the old-timey restaurant....and sitting next to Eli gave me plenty of opportunities!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Eli has found a new favorite game. We've played a few times at home, but not until this week has Eli really understood and enjoyed the game. (That is actually stretching it too, because some of the finesse of the game is still lost on him.) Hanging out with his cousins, Cole and Treis, creates a very excited Eli. Add hide-n-seek to that, and he's in heaven. Eli absolutely loves counting to ten and then looking around the house for the hider. Most of all, he loves to be scared. I don't remember hearing it happen too much when he played with the boys, but one night he and I played a few rounds and I was the hider. It took Eli several minutes to find me standing in a dark room. He saw me before I said 'HEY!', but he still jumped. He laughed/screamed and it was a blast. Then he told me, "Now I'm going to hide and you find me. I'm hiding under the bed, Mommy, but don't look there first." Cracked me up! I think we'll have a lot of fun with this game when we return home.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Scared To Death

Maddux is really testing our limits as parents. Or our sanity. Or both. Tonight she gave yet us another gut check to add to our already long-enough list.

Lehr and I brought the kids home from the wedding rehearsal as soon as we were done so they could get to bed at a decent time. They were exhausted, so they both went down without a fight. Lehr and I stayed upstairs and chatted with Grandma Pat and Skip for over an hour before Grandma Cathie and Grandpa Jim came home. Then we stayed up for another hour. Sometime in that last hour, Maddux woke up. She climbed out of her pack-n-play (something I knew she could physically do, but she hadn't ever done) and left her bedroom. She went into Eli's room, but was unsuccessful in rousing him. So she went into the main TV room and entertained herself. We didn't know until Lehr walked downstairs for bed and found her on the floor, stacking DVDs, out of the cases. We later found pieces of our gum, unwrapped but unchewed, clothes, books, and some coasters in random places. The scary part (outside of her potentially burning herself on the space heater or fireplace or choking on the gum) was that there was an exterior door downstairs. She knows how to open it as long as the latch is open. And it was open. Needless to say, that latch will be in place every moment of the rest of our trip.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Plane Ride Fun

We flew out west with both kids today. Yikes. Normally traveling that far with the kids (especially Mad Dog) would freak me to my core. This time we were lucky enough to have Treis (their older cousin) flying with us. From the second we picked him up at his gate, Eli and Maddux were glued to his side. They had to hold his hand, sit next to him, hang on his every word....luckily he is a VERY good sport.

Our first flight was to Salt Lake: four hours of fun. We started with Maddux next to me and Eli between Lehr and Treis. Once we started the DVD though, Maddie wanted to sit with them also, so I was solo for about an hour of the flight. There were a few somewhat trying moments, but for the most part it was an easy flight. The layover in SLC was a long one though, and we had a few meltdowns. It was all too much for Eli to handle at lunchtime, and that coupled with no nap led to a very unhappy heart. Once we boarded the next plane, however, it was smooth sailing. Maddux fell asleep for most of the flight and Eli was glued to a Veggie Tales DVD for the hour.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Book Worm

Eli loves books. So does Maddux, actually. I guess that's one thing we've done right as parents: reading to the kids every day at least once a day. I remember when Eli was about seven months old and he was still napping 2-3 times each day. I read one book to him before every nap. One especially trying day I skipping reading for the last nap and he was NOT happy. Which made two of us. Of course I felt guilty during most of that nap and vowed to never miss a book reading again, even though it felt exhausting to me at that point and I wondered if it really mattered at that point. Fast forward a few months later when Eli was crawling around and he would park himself in front of the book shelf and 'read' four or five books in a sitting. If there was any doubt left, it disappeared at that point.

Today was another one of those moments. During blanket time (which I rarely do with Eli anymore), Eli and Maddux were sitting on the blanket reading books. Maddux had open "Go, Dog, Go!". She was kind of reciting some of the words, but Eli was over her shoulder spitting them out perfectly. Then he opened up "Ten Apples Up On Top" and 'read' almost every page. Of course it was all by memory, but he saw the pictures and knew what words went with them. And then on a few pages, he knew the words, but couldn't remember the number of apples, so he would stop (mid-sentence) and count the apples before continuing. My favorite part was when he used animated voices to read the story. "THEY WANT TO GET THEM! WE CANNOT LET THEM GET THEM!!"

Monday, November 16, 2009

Be Still My Heart!

I am in the midst of edits for a few families tonight, so I've been in and out of several photo albums. Somehow I ended up in the roll that was taken on the day Maddux came into our lives. I came across this picture taken of Eli when he came to visit me a few hours after Maddie was born.
Pause. Gasp.

I can barely remember him that small and baby-like. Eli is SO grown up right now. Tonight he was a perfectly behaved little (er...big!) boy. He helped me with the laundry, learned how to turn his underwear right-side out, and put away EVERY piece of clothing I folded or hung up. All on his own. Without me having to ask.

(I am not posting a picture of Maddux from that day because it struck me as I was looking at them that she didn't resemble her current self in ANY way. Crazy!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Take A Bow

I have cried more today than I have in a long time. Thankfully every tear was due to uncontrollable laughter.

This morning the kids participated in a short musical presentation at church. As soon as the service started, all kids from ages 2-4 were cattled onto the stage steps to perform their creation week song, complete with hand motions. This meant we had to get to church thirty minutes early to rehearse, which was great because the kids got to practice it three or four times before the 'real' thing. A friend shot a little video which happened to include some of Eli and Maddux; the church also recorded the performance (and practices), so there maybe more to come. But in case you have trouble seeing what happens, let me walk you through, step by step.

Eli did great. He hit his marks, sang his lines, and performed as well as we would have hoped. Maddux played her part too. We were just not privy to the knowledge that her part was clown and scene-stealer.

During at least two of the run-throughs, Maddux fell down the steps. Most of the kids danced and jumped around during at least one part of the song. This resulted in a few tumbles, but since Maddux was front-and-center (surprise), she almost took the microphone out. She had a small tumble during the performance, but it was one of those not-if-but-when-moments, so no one was caught off-guard. (However, one of her falls did result in her foot getting 'stuck' on her dress, so she had a hard time standing back up....that may have been 'live'.) The 'clown' part came at the end of the live performance. Keep in mind that what happened was not something Maddie did during any of the rehearsals, nor did she do it at all before we left the house this morning. During the part of the song when the kids sing, "God made me.", Maddux showed everyone that he made ALL of her, including her belly button. She lifted her dress up to show her stomach to the crowd. Of course there were chuckles (see first sentence about my tears), but the best part was how persistent she was. No matter how much our friend tried to get her to keep her dress down, Maddux was set on performing. I'm starting to cry again as I'm typing this.... Enjoy; the real fun starts at 2:10. (Eli is in the back row with a green shirt on; Maddux is front row, white/black dress on.)

2009 11 CCC Kids Sing from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Donation Corner: Operation Christmas Child

Same as last year!! It's such a great charity...check it out!!

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 Maddux get to pick out some toys, socks, toothbrushes, and other little goodies for 'udder kids' (as Maddie calls them). Then they 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 three years, and I can only hope it's helping Eli and Maddux to be more aware and giving little people. The collection week is fast approaching (November 16-23), 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 23th, you can drop it off at any number of collection sites.

Date Night(s)

I had planned for a few weeks to take Eli on a date. Our monthly date nights have fallen by the wayside in the last few months: life has been too busy. Lehr decided to take advantage of the night and have a date with Maddux as well. (Going forward this will be our plan - easier to schedule one night each month rather than two.)

I took Eli to a Mongolian BBQ style restaurant where he could pick what he wanted to eat and then watch the chefs cook it near a big fire. Of course he was a BIG fan of the fire. He enjoyed the chicken won tons I ordered for an appetizer also. He kept asking me, "What-er these called again, Mommy?"

Since I had no activity planned for our date, we also stopped for dessert. Before we left the restaurant I told Eli that we would stop by our local ice cream shop for a cone. He was VERY excited about that. In the last five minutes of dinner, I told him to save room for ice cream.

He responded: "I have a lot of room in my belly for stuff. Actually I have room in my leg for some stuff. My dinner can go in there."

Good to know.

The whole drive to the ice cream shop, Eli vacillated over which flavor to choose. He went back and forth between vanilla ('banilla'), turtle (I think from when Grandma Cathie was here), and cherry (just cuz). When we finally go there, he chose vanilla. We sat in the front seat of the car and ate it, since it was pretty chilly outside. Of course Eli wanted to try some of mine also (cookies-n-cream.) He told me, "I love banilla. But your ice cream is warmer than mine. Yum."

One of the funniest conversations came from something pretty serious. We were almost to the ice cream shop when I mistakenly went through a red light. We were on a smaller road and the arrow turned green. My foot reacted before my brain and we were half-way through the intersection before I realized my mistake. Eli asked me what was wrong and I explained that I wasn't paying close enough attention and I disobeyed the light, so on and so on. (I also reiterated how dangerous it was to not pay attention. When we approached the next light, Eli used a very kind, almost motherly voice as he told me, "Pay attention this time mommy! Be careful." We stopped at the red light and then the arrow (which we were not using) turned green. Then he said, "OK, that is a green arrow, but a red light....don't go." What would I ever do without him!??!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Glimpse of the Future

STOP!!! Seriously, can time stop for just a little while!?!?!?

Today I was hit in the face with the fact that my babies are SO not babies anymore. And we are closer than ever to the school years. I know, 'don't get ahead of yourself, Nicole. They are only 2 and 4!' But just yesterday they were infants. So I know how this time thing works....

This morning I dropped both kids off for their short day of pre-school. Maddie sits behind me in the car, so when I pull up to the carpool, I have to get out of my seat belt to unlatch her seat belt. (That is one thing she hasn't figure out YET, thank goodness!) I got back in my seat and then pulled forward. When the teacher came to the car, she opened Eli's side and let him out. I didn't see Maddux move over and exit also, so I said, "Have a great day, you!", as I turned around to make eye contact with her. She was standing right behind my seat, holding the head rest. When I turned she moved her face to the side so she could give me a silent, but wet kiss good-bye. Then she went right out with the teacher. It was like she was waiting for her 'good-bye kiss', like elementary kids do when their parents drop them off. TOTALLY made my day, but also made me think too much about what is to come...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


At school, Eli has a class pet. The stuffed dog, "Tiger", travels from house to house for a few days each week, spending one-on-one time with the students. Along with the dog comes a photo album book where there are pictures of Tiger and his hosts and little stories about what Tiger did while visiting each home. Eli was SOO excited to be only the second student to be able to take Tiger home. As soon as he got home from school yesterday, Eli got all of his other dogs (Clifford, Sam, Memphis, and Snoopy) and lined them up with Tiger, so they could meet. And he was sure to tuck him in when he left his room, so he wouldn't get cold. As much as we are trying to fight it, I think Eli is going to put the hard sell on us in future years for a REAL dog.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First Test

Eli had a diagnostic 'test' at school first thing this week, to determine where he was in letter recognition. This was supposed to test his visual recognition as well as audio. During the test, he teacher read a word and Eli had to circle the letter that the word started with (out of four letter choices). The words were: leaf, moon, astronaut, elephant, duck, penguin, boy, jack-o-lantern, and flower. He got all of them correct. It was so cute to see his little circles around the letters. It's so funny to me to see him do so well on a test like that when he can barely make the circle, which was not at all the skill set being tested.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Baseball Fever Finally Broke

What a crazy two weeks. For that matter, what a crazy season! Eli and the Knights have played 1-2 games each week for the last several months and had more rain delays than the Cubs. This really took its toll on us in the last ten days. The Knights won their first few games in the playoffs and then lost one sometime last week. The tournament was double-elimination, so they still had a shot. But each day a game was planned, it would be cancelled at the last minute due to rain and/or wet fields. They were finally able to play Sunday night (after 4 cancellations in three days). They won! This put them in the position to play for a spot in the final game. Monday night Lehr came home a little early so he could take Eli to the game. The boys played great, but once Maddux and I showed up in the third inning, things went downhill for the Knights. They were playing the best they could, but it wasn't enough. The other team won, putting us in third place. No worries since that is way better than anyone expected our team to finish. I can't begin to tell you how far the team as a whole (and Eli as a team-player) came this season. As much as I want to sign him up for the spring session, I know he wants to play soccer also, so it will probably be next fall before he plays baseball again.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Love My Boy

Wow. Out of the mouths of babes, for sure. Eli and I were in the kitchen this morning....I think I was helping him tie his shoes.

Eli - "Mommy, you and I are BOTH wearing jeans today."
Me - "Yes, we are."
Eli - "Mommy, mine are looser and yours are tight."
Me - "You are right, Eli."
Eli (with the cutest head cock-to-the-side and grin EVER) - "Mommy, you're getting so big."

I love that he is picking up on the positive stuff we pour into him and his sister. I love that he was trying to be sweet. I apologize to any future girlfriends. I will work on social graces.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Halloween seems so routine's hard to believe that we ONLY have five fall celebrations under our belts. This year, despite my efforts to get them to think beyond what we already had in our closets, both kids opted for costumes they've worn for quite some time now: Eli was a dragon and Maddux was a monkey.

Rain threatened to shut down our neighborhood block party, but the skies were clear enough for us to have our parade and costume contest before the first drops fell. Even then, it was short-lived, so the kids were able to trick-or-treat as long as they wanted. Eli woke up from his nap (he actually took one today) in a SOUR mood, so the first hour or so he was pretty quiet and uninvolved. Maddie was Mad Dog. Their friends, Cooper and Finley, joined us for the fun. After the parade, pizza, and the costume contest, we trick-or-treated the mile route back to our house. Maddux got brave towards the end, going up to a few houses on her own (without me OR Eli). One house in particular found her completely independent, making friends as she often does. She walked up the big hill to the couple standing with candy and started up some conversation with them. I wasn't wearing my glasses, but I could still see that the couple was quite amused with Maddie and her audacious self.

When we finally arrived back at the house, we made some popcorn and let the kids watch "The Great Pumpkin". I think it's safe to say they had a good time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Little Mommy

Mad Dog. As rough and tough as she is, she is a such a caring little girl. Even though she strikes Eli (and maybe others??) at times, she is quick to apologize and give BIG hugs. And she gets very concerned when she thinks someone is hurt or sick. Several times in the last month this has presented itself in very cute ways.

Whenever I cough or sneeze, Maddux asks, "You OK, Mommy? Bess you." Or if I bump my head or arm or foot on something, she asks if I'm OK and then offers to get ice. Too sweet.

Early last week we were outside in the driveway and Eli took a big tumble. He was fine, but it was at the end of a long day, so the impression he gave was that a serious injury had occurred. Maddux ran over to him right away and got very serious. "You OK, Eli? E-i...are you OK? Did you hu-hrt?" He continued to cry a little and she said, " I get you right back." She ran inside and got the ice pack for him immediately. Adorable.

The other night we were at Eli's baseball game. Maddie and I were on the third base side, standing next to the fence. The top of the chain-link went well above our heads; ten feet tall or so. At one point Maddux asked me to lift her up to see over the fence. I told her that it was too tall and Mommy could not reach. She looked at me and said, "Mommy not big enough? Mommy not see?" Then she grabbed my leg above my knee and made an 'uhhhhh!!!' noise as she tried her hardest to lift me. Precious.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Smile Maker

I put Maddux to bed tonight. A few minutes later, Lehr went in to give her a kiss. She and he exchanged kisses and then he gave her one last 'special kiss' in her hand. He told her to put it in her pocket to keep it safe. When Lehr got to the door, Maddie shouted out, "I NOT HAVE A POCKET!!!" That girl doesn't miss a thing....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Each year I go to the Botanical Gardens during October to see the scarecrows. (2008, 2007, 2006, 2005) The kids and I almost missed it this year due to our crazy schedules though! Last week I made an executive decision to keep Eli out of school sometime this week so that we could all go and get in the spirit of Halloween. Eli was sad to miss school, but excited to see the 'care-crows' or 'sare-crows'. (He never seems to say both the 's' and the 'c'.)

We met Cooper and Finley just after the gardens opened and from then on out it was a sprint :) The kids were excited and hopped up on sunshine (we've had a LOT of rain recently and it was nice just to be outside). We traveled through several scarecrow sections before arriving at the Children's Gardens, at which time the kids really took off. We spent a little time at a few playgrounds, but it was like they had a busy schedule ahead of them and they needed to just check this off of their list. (On top of that, Eli was doing some things that were so out of character, and so annoying, that Mommy was beyond frustrated. No huge disobedience, but lots and lots of little things that we normally don't see with him.)

Our trip ended on a nice green area (with a mud pit created by rain - of course the kids found that) where we set up for lunch. We stopped by to see Daddy at his office, and then we were home to nap. Mommy included!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend With Daddy

I participated in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk this past weekend, so Lehr was on full-time Daddy Duty. The kids had great time, of course. Friday he had to work, but Miss Marina kept them entertained, despite the rain. Saturday morning found them at their preschool's Fall Festival. The kids got to jump in the jumpy castle, play some games, and hang out with friends from school. That night they had dinner with neighbors and afterwards Lehr gave them an extra special treat. He took them to their first theater movie! I was hoping to take Eli to the 'cinema' sometime soon for a date night, but Lehr beat me to the punch :) Apparently Maddux was done as soon as the previews were over. No big shocker there! They ended up staying for about 3o minutes of Ice Age before heading home to bed.

The next morning (Sunday), the three of them met me at cheering station for the walk. My three cuties showed up with "Go, Mommy, GO!" signs and bagels. Just the thing I needed for the last morning! From there, they went to church and lunch. After naps, they met me down at Turner field to pick me up at closing ceremonies. We tried to coordinate dinner with friends, but ended up at a pizza place on our own. Eli wanted to sit next to me because he 'missed me':)

Today, Eli was SO well behaved. Offering to help all of the time, obeying the FIRST time, every time. He also told me, "Mommy, I missed you when you were gone. I love you." Maddie's response to my absence has been different. LOTS of disobedience and ignoring directions. She has been snuggly with me though. Regardless of their behavior, I'm glad to be back. Two close-together trips away from my kids proved to be too much for me.

The kids were really sweet to each other today also. We were playing baseball in the driveway and Maddux fell on her knees. She cried for a second, to make sure I noticed. Eli then said, "I'm going to see if she's OK and kiss her." He walked over to her and kissed her knee (where she fell). She happily thanked him and we all returned to playing. This was BY FAR the best moment of today.