Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Park Day

Since it's gorgeous outside and our plans changed at the last minute today, I decided to take the kids down to Piedmont Park. I can't remember the last time I took them there during the week; since Maddux came along, it was a little too much for me to take on. That makes me sad because I used to bring Eli down there a lot when he was little. All the way up until I had Maddux actually. Ah, the joys and ease of only having one other human to keep alive at a time... But I digress.

So after breakfast we picked out a few whiffle balls and hopped in the car. All trips warrant bringing a bat and ball these days, so the baseball gear was not out of the ordinary. Once we arrived, the three of us climbed a big hill that Eli designated 'the pitcher's mound'. He wasn't hitting especially well this morning though, so after a few dozen pitches, the game was over. We then walked to the other side of the park to check out the new dog park. Both kids drank from the water fountain each time we passed it, soaking their hair and faces. We stopped so Eli could jump off of several rocks. Maddux has not yet figured out how to jump off of thinks half her height or bigger, but she wants to. In a major way. And what trip to the park would be complete without a snack? I brought along some fun new snacks for the kids to enjoy just before we headed back to the car.

As we were leaving, Maddie got distracted by a gutter. It wasn't a large one, but it was open. Eli warned her to not fall in: "Maddie, don't get too c-wose or you'll fall in!" Then he told me, "Then I wouldn't have a sister. And I'd be sad." I will replay that moment in my head for a while.

Of course, after we returned home, Eli was a whiny boy and neither child was obeying. (I knew this because I heard myself repeating, "Maddux, no. Eli, stop...go to the bathroom. Maddux, don't touch. ELI, go to the bathroom." again and again. Not a good thing. After a few repeats, which shows how on auto-pilot I was, I told Eli he lost his privilege for books before naps. I do not like to take that away from him, but sometimes it is the only thing that gets his attention. And we read plenty around here, so I'm not worried about him not getting his daily allotment of book exposure. After I put Maddux to bed, I walked into Eli's room to find him lying on his bed with his blanket. I was very calm by now, and I gently explained to him that Mommy expects first time obedience which means I should not have to ask him to do things more than once. He agreed that he was not obeying 'all the way, right away, and with a happy heart'. Then he said, "Mommy, I need a hug." Melt melt. He didn't even appear to be very sad, but I was more than happy to oblige. I told him we needed to make sure we got at least five hugs in each day. (For some reason, five is the biggest number to him right now. I'll tell him he has ten minutes left to play and he'll say, "Please can I have five?")

Monday, April 27, 2009

Camping aka "Dude Fest"

Eli loves making note of who is doing what and when. Specifically, he loves telling everyone if the boys are doing something, or the girls. He is very into telling me, "Mommy, the boys are eating over here and the girls are eating over there today." or "Mommy, the girls are playing with that ball and the boys are playing with this ball." This goes on all day, every day. So when Lehr told Eli that the two of them were going to meet "D" at the campsite this last Saturday night, he was all about it. The first thing he told me was, "Mommy, the boys are going camping and we're going to have 'Dudefest' at the tent."

It sounds like the guys had a great time. Their campground wasn't as nice as the one Lehr and Eli visited in December, but it was good enough for Eli. They hiked a bit and set up the tents. Eli got to use his hiking/walking stick; Grandpa Jim made it for him last summer when we visited Tahoe. After some baseball and general 'camp' stuff, the guys feasted on a dinner of red beans and rice and hamburgers on hot dog buns. When it got dark, Eli was very excited to build a fire and roast some marshmallows. He completely torched the first one he had loaded on his stick...it caught on fire and everything. I called the boys at 10PM to check on them and Eli was still up (they'd just finished dessert). He was very very VERY excited and chatty. Lehr said he settled down a little while later and they all slept until around 8. D and Daddy made pancakes for breakfast and Eli amazed D with his ability to eat many many cakes.

Friday, April 24, 2009

ABC...Easy as 1,2,3!

Maddux loves to recite her numbers and letters. Correction: she loves to repeat them after me. But she knows 1, 2 & 3 on her own...from there she needs to repeat after me here and there. I tried to capture her cuteness in a clip, but of course she got distracted by seeing herself in the camera screen. I should have never shown that trick to her.....

2009 04 Maddux ABC/123 from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Soccer Pictures

Eli's soccer pictures came in today. Check out how happy he was to pose in his uniform!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Last Day in DC

We woke up to the forecasted rain. Not too much fun in a walking city with two small kids, but we knew is was coming, so we planned on an indoor activity. We walked to the train stop (getting minimally wet along the way) and rode the Metro to the Smithsonian. Although it took a while between breakfast, the train, and maneuvering the weather, we all arrived with plenty of time before naps. The kids REALLY enjoyed the first section we walked through: mammals. The large elephant, giraffe, and tiger especially impressed the kids. We walked through a few more sections, but none were as impressive to the kids. Maddie and Eli each enjoyed riding on Daddy's shoulders though. We brought the single BOB stroller with us, so at any one time, one child was walking or being carried. Given that it was so wet and we were trying to move fast, one kid was almost always on Lehr's shoulders today. At one point, Mad Dog was up there in the museum. All of the sudden Lehr asked me to check on her because she sounded like she was gagging. I looked up to see her with her whole fist in her mouth, face red. When she removed her fist, she had a small piece of plastic (a wrapper from something NOT ours) in her hand. And Lehr's head, her hand, and now my hand, had a small layer of vomit-smelling saliva. Nice. (Also, Maddie's cheek is now more black/purple, and she has a similar hue under her eye. That trip into the wooden corner a few days ago is really starting to show up now.)

A little before noon we grabbed a quick snack and then went into the 3-D theater for a movie about the oceans. The kids have never seen a movie before, let alone a 3-D, so we didn't know what to expect. Due to fatigue and general ants-in-the-pants, Maddux lasted only about 20 minutes. Eli really enjoyed it, however. He was so funny, reaching out in front of him to try and touch the fish. He kept telling me, "Mommy, that shark is going to getchu!!!" We made our way home and both kids collapsed.

After naps, we tried to find some good food, but had to settle for Five Guys (not my fave, obviously). We walked around a little in Chinatown, checking out the Ford Theater and a few other buildings of interest. To finish out the trip, we played ball right near the capital building, where Maddux could run with her balloon and chase the ducks. Eli had a blast hitting the ball with Daddy, and Maddux could not get enough of the steps. Up and down. Up and down. She loved that she could maneuver all of them without holding a hand, without a handrail, AND while holding the big balloon. Both kids had a great trip...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day O' DC

We woke the kids up just before 9AM this morning so we could have lunch with some family before they had to drive home. Both kids ate their weight in breakfast before playing some basketball on the hotel court. We then drove about thirty minute into the city to our next hotel. We stopped for lunch first, eating on a grassy patch right in front of the White House lawn. Eli thought it was cool that he got to play baseball in Barack Obama's front yard. From there, we walked to the Washington Memorial so Eli and Maddux could get a closer look at 'the big stick'. (Sidenote: We saw a boy about Eli's age throwing a monumental fit because his mother would not buy him a bomb-pop. She never gave in. Even though people were staring. She rocked. Eli asked why the boy was crying and I told him it was because he wasn't obeying. Eli told me "He sss-ould. I don't want to hear him crying.")

After naps, we drove the kids to Georgetown where we found a cool little fish taco restaurant. Sweet potato fries, broccoli, corn and fish tacos filled our bellies before we drove back to the capital. This time we walked along the Reflection Pool up to the Lincoln Memorial. Eli loved running up the steps. And both kids had a blast running along the pool. We even saw a few ducks in the water. Life is good.

A few new things for Maddux. She's in her 'independent' stage. She does not want to hold hands when crossing the street, she does not want to be picked up when she's walking, and she does not like the word 'no'. And she'll let you know by screaming and sitting down on the ground when you try to move her. It is rather cute, however, to see Maddux clasp her hands together when you tell her it's time to grab someone's hand to cross the street. She thinks holding her own hand counts. Maddux is still very animated in her 'thank you' gratitude also. She will yell, "Tank Ou!!" to express her thankfulness. Also, she will repeat numbers one through ten pretty well. Most of the alphabet too.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Big Old Birthday Bash

The morning started with a bang. I ended up sleeping in the bed with Eli, next to Maddux's pack-n-play last night. Our room is a suite, so we have a couch room and a bedroom. (Lehr slept in the couch room.) At some point after sunrise, I heard Eli get out of bed and go to the couch room. He and Lehr conversed quietly and I drifted back to sleep. I later woke up when I heard Eli crying in the other room. That woke Maddie right up too, so I grabbed her and opened the door to see what had happened. I found Lehr holding Eli, dressed only in his nighttime pull-up. Apparently, Lehr had left the room to use the restroom down the hall, telling Eli to stay in the room. Well, Eli had to use the restroom too, so he exited the same door Lehr had, thinking it was the bathroom. Once you leave the room, the door locks behind you and Eli found himself on the outside. He wandered around for a few minutes, luckily finding himself outside Aunt Megan's hotel room a few doors down. She returned him to the room just as Lehr got back. That's when Maddie and I woke up. Scary times....

The morning was tough for the kids, but after naps we had a great evening. Eli and Maddux had lots of fun at Rachel's Bat Mitzvah. Eli totally latched onto K from the beginning and followed her around most of the night like a love-sick puppy. Not that she minded; she took good care of him. Maddie did a lot of dancing, some exploring, some flirting with strangers, and finally some entertaining of others with her 'cheers' techniques and other party tricks. Of course, it's 10:50pm and Maddie is still awake in the other room, talking to herself.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Leavin' On A Jet Plane

We got the kids up earlier than the sun this morning to catch an 8AM flight to Washington DC. Eli kept asking, "Why is it still dark outside?" At the last minute (literally, in the park-and-ride lot at the airport), we decided to use the rental car's car seats in DC instead of bringing our own. That certainly helped immediately with the amount of lugging we had to do, and it turned out to be an all-around smart decision. Another bonus in the early morning was getting moved right up to the front of the security line due to our stroller. And then, from the moment we boarded the plane, two or three flight attendants were more than helpful with food, beverage and all-inclusive help offers. That good luck followed us through the flight. Having only taken long flights out west, lasting over five hours each way, this 'short' 90-minute flight went really fast. The kids BOTH watched a DVD for most of the flight, only getting fussy after we landed and had to wait to exit the plane.

That's where the good times ended. We grabbed a rental car and decided to drive through downtown DC before naps. The kids were exhausted though, so many tears and melt-downs later, we arrived at the hotel. Of course, once we got the kids settled in their room, they decided they were past the point of no sleep. They've never slept in the same room before, so this new experience riled them both up. It took close to 45 minutes to get them down. We then loaded up the car to meet some family for dinner. Only the car wouldn't unlock, open it's trunk, or start. Great. And the rental car agency was offering little help. In fact, they suggested that WE pay to have someone come jump start it. A few hours later, the situation was rectified and the kids had a great dinner with their cousin Rachel and her friend, K. In fact, Eli took a real liking to K. He appeared to have a bit of a crush. The evening ended with Maddux falling cheek first into a wooden corner, leaving her face purple right away. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

BO's House

In preparation of our trip to DC this weekend, we've been talking to Eli about what/where Washington DC is. First he told us Uncle J lived there. We had to correct him, telling him that UJ lives in Washington the STATE, not Washington the....district? Then he got confused about the airplane, thinking we were flying to NOLA (where we'll be in a few weeks for Jazz Fest). Eli was disappointed when he realized that was not the trip we were planning for the next 24 hours. In an effort to cheer him up, Lehr explained to him that we would be in the same city as the President. Eli is very knowledgeable about Barack Obama; between the Spearhead song and school, he seems to know a lot. He keeps asking us, "When are we going to Barack Obama's house?" I told him we'd walk by it, but most likely, we would not see Obama because he would be inside working. Then he asked if we could touch the windows. Not unless you want secret service on your six, son....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Music To My Ears

Several weeks back, Eli had the pleasure of receiving a Sunday School lesson by the head of our church's kids' ministry. She had glowing words to say about my boy, much to my pleasant surprise. She told me that Eli was one of the most engaged and he answered all of the questions correctly during the lesson (despite being one of the youngest in the class). Apparently the lesson had to do with God's gifts and how many people do work for God. The teacher had put together a book containing pictures of our church staff. Eli was able to correctly identify all but two people (who he's never met) and tell what their 'job' was for God. He then told the class about what his Daddy does for God on Sunday mornings. Very sweet. Given the issues we've been having with Eli at his regular school as of late, this story made my whole week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Good Times

Eli amazes me almost every week with his ability to share with and care for his sister. While kids so close together tend to be best friends and worst enemies, all at the same time, we honestly have not seen much of the latter between the two ankle-biters. Maddux would pretty much lay down her life for her older brother; she shares before he even asks her to. And if he gets hurt, she is the first to run over and pat him on the back or give him a hug. Eli doesn't always reciprocate though. He's not necessarily mean to her, but he doesn't share as freely as one would hope. When he complains about her not sharing (which means he has seen that she has a toy he wants and he's asked her for it once only to have her deny him), I remind him that the best way to teach someone how to share is to share with them. I think it's finally catching on because this week he has shared a lot more than normal. Not in big ways, but in small little, hard-to-see ways. Today was the best by far. Maddie and I picked Eli up from school and found out he'd had a class birthday party. One of the little girls turned four and brought in gift bags and cupcakes. (I was SO happy to find out that the gift bags included pencils, erasers, stickers, stamps, bouncy balls and balloons. NO candy. And Eli loved pulling each 'toy' out and learning what it was way more than he's enjoyed seeing a bunch of sugar in the bag.) As we drove home, Eli opened his bag and started passing out the gifts. He gave me the pencil so I could 'write stuff' and he handed Maddux the kitty cat eraser. I didn't ask him to do this (I actually though he was entitled to the goodies)....he did it all on his own and BEFORE he picked out the things he'd keep. Maddux's face lit up like I've never seen it when he handed her that eraser. It was so precious. She immediately said, "Pank-ou!!"

Maddux received her own toy electric guitar this week. It is pink and white and plays "Girls Just Want to Have Fun". Eli loves it. Of course. Especially since his guitar has a corroded battery 'area' and does not play music any more. Maddux has been more than generous with her new guitar and Eli has eaten up every moment of it. I remind him constantly that it is hers and until today, he's been pretty good about acknowledging that. However, before naps he got a bit high and mighty and refused to allow Maddux a turn on the guitar (HER guitar). I told him he was not allowed to use it for the rest of the day as a consequence. Before bed we were doing our usual song and dance routine and Eli asked to play with the guitar. Of course Maddux moved to get it for him, but I reminded him he had lost his privileges. We talked about sharing and how it's important to have a sharing heart. A few minutes later, he offered Maddux his guitar (a less superior one, but his guitar all the same). Even though he knew he wasn't going to be able to use hers, he still shared. And Maddie immediately started to hand him her guitar. I made sure Eli was aware that his act of sharing had caused her to want to share too. Warm and fuzzy feelings followed for everyone. Group hug.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

The kids had a great time this morning, hunting Easter Eggs at church. They each had a basket waiting for them when they woke up this morning...no candy of course. Bubbles, windmills, eggs with fruit chews and puzzles were inside.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Dying Easter Eggs

No frills this year, but we did dye a dozen eggs with the kids. They were both pretty excited, but Eli definitely had more patience with the process than Maddux. (I realized after we started what a kid-friendly activity this ISN'T. You put the egg in dye and wait, then take it out and wait for it to dry....lots and lots of waiting around.) Eli got into picking the colors and assisting with the drop in and retrieval process. Maddie mostly just wanted to look into the cups of dye to 'seeeeee'. Eli was really excited to pick out which color eggs he and Maddux would eat tomorrow morning for breakfast too. He told me, "I'm gonna eat green like green eggs and ham."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Dress-Up Doll

That's my girl. I never felt I needed to have a girl because I wasn't really into the dress-up thing. God obviously knew that I might not accessorize my baby enough, so he gave me a girl who knows how to accessorize herself. She loves to play with the trains, and getting dirty is one of her favorite past-times. But she always has her beads on. 27/7. All of the time. Maddux is well-known around church and a few playgroups as 'the girl with the beads'. She finds them around the house and piles them around her neck. Then she plays baseball. Or pushes trains and makes bear noises. Maddie's dress-up is not limited to beads, however. She still loves to wear her tutu, and most recently she's taken to trying on Eli's clothes. When Grandma Cathie got Eli a new shirt (he calls it his 'Daddy work shirt') and tie for Easter, Maddie was quick to try it on herself.

Maddux is talking up a storm. She repeats almost everything she says, though it's not always easy to comprehend. And she rarely signs because of her increasing vocabulary. My favorite new Mad Dog phrases are "Thank you" and "I love you". Though when she talks, it sounds like, "Tank-Ou!!!" and "I of ouuu." Both said very fast. Video will follow soon.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Wild Weekend

Saturday mornings are always filled with soccer now. This one was the same. Eli and Lehr went to church for a few hours before hand (the game didn't start until 11AM) and Maddux and I stayed at home to clean. She helps very well while I'm vacuuming and dusting; I think she'll really come in handy in a few years! She also got really funny and goofy when I pulled the camera out. Lehr said Eli was equally as helpful at the church. He aided in taking down a huge structure that needed to be removed, and he kept asking how he could help.

The girls met the boys at soccer a few hours later, just in time for Eli to see his best bud from school finish his game. The two posed and played for a few minutes before Eli's team circled up to play. Then more people came to watch. And more.... Before we knew it, four or five separate families we knew had come to watch for various reasons. Eli was completely distracted! He still held his own until the end, but it was crazy. Maddux ran around and kept everyone busy and entertained, of course. I think she got herself more burned out than the players.

Saturday night marked the arrival of Grandma Cathie and Grandpa Jim. The kids were SO excited to see them....lots of running around and laughing followed. Even after we put them down for a late bedtime at 9PM, they were both in their rooms, talking and giggling until at least 10PM.

Lehr and I had to work at church on Sunday, so we left the kids at home with the spoilers, I mean, Grandparents. They went to breakfast and then home to play, apparently. It was just about nap time when we arrived....for everyone. That night we planned to grill out and walk up the street for ice cream. Weather prevented the outside activities, so we drove up instead. Eli milked his cone, which prevented him from finishing it when the strong storms came through. Maddux, on the other hand, ate her dish, some of Grandma Cathie's cone, and a bite of everyone elses. Life is good.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Easter Egg Hunts Galore

An action packed day, for sure. To start, Eli had an Easter party and Easter egg hunt at school this morning. The children got to look on the playground for eggs before going back to their classroom to investigate the contents inside of each colorful vessel. I was pleasantly surprised to find several of the eggs containing cereal mix or little cotton ball chicks or small toys instead of candy. Thank you, parents!!

After naps, D came over just before Daddy arrived home early for work. Our annual neighborhood Easter egg hunt takes place in our cul-de-sac and our yard, so we had to be up and ready to go by 3:30. Maddux and Eli had a blast in the jump-castle until some of the older kids got there. As rough and tough as Maddie is, it got too crazy and too crowded and she was not happy. Both kids really got into the hunt itself; Eli picked out only sports-themed eggs, of course. Eli got to decorate (and eat) a cookie...he was extra happy about that. Sprinkles for days..... The Easter Bunny made a visit and intrigued Maddie big time. She followed him (her?) around, but refused to get closer than 5-feet or so.

Once the festivities were over, Lehr and I headed out for a date and D stayed with the kids. He ended up taking them on a date also: The Flying Biscuit. D said the kids were very well behaved, but Eli did try to pull a few things over on him around bedtime. Lucky for us, D is pretty smart and caught on rather quickly.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Maddux Update

Maddux. Maddie, Maddie, Maddie. She is quite the little lady these days. She's going on two, but she acts more like she's going on 13. She has the full independent 'tude, and she is also learning to play up the drama a bit. On the other hand, she is so sweet and she loves to take care of people. We had friends over the other day and Maddux got to play with a 'baby' for the first time in a while. Maddie was in LOVE with baby Cooper. She rocked him (rather vigorously), she brought him toys, and she tried to pat his head several times. (Supervision is definitely necessary when Maddux is around small children.) Then, during lunch, she put on a FULL show of her acting skills when I asked her to show her self control before being excused. This is something the kids must do before they leave the table for every meal, but the way Maddie acted, you'd think she'd never heard of such torture. She cried, she said 'no', she pulled out the tears. And then she dried them up and pointed to her eyes, saying 'eyes' and smiling really big. "See how cute I am?" she asked me with her grin. We all know how this ends: Mommy won, but not without a battle first.

Last night the kids were ready for bed, so I asked Maddux to give her brother a kiss and hug and then head to her room. Eli was rolling on the ground, so Maddie went over to him and stooped down, trying to get some face-to-face before planting one on him real nicely. She LOVES her big brother.

Bathtime is swim practice for Maddux. She now likes to lie back and swish her hair in the water to wet it before washing each night. But she's too small to lie flat on the bath 'floor', so she is floating. And she loves it. And sometimes a little water gets over her eyes and disorients her, so she flops around like a goldfish dropped on the pet store floor. But she never complains.

Finally, Maddie is a future stunt-woman. She jumps off of everything she can climb, she runs down the driveway with her hands behind her back, and she causes herself to almost fall down the stairs every day. (No joke...she does it on purpose.) One thing I've noticed in the last few days: Maddux can jump up and down with both feet at the same time. I think Eli only mastered that last month.....