Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shout Out to KOL

If you know the Eliason family, you know that we're not big on music that is specifically made for kids. Unless it's They Might Be Giants, we probably don't own it or play it. But we are big on music. And the kids have really taken to it also. What this means is Eli and Maddux usually sing along with songs you might not expect. Eli used to ask for me to sing "Ruby" before he went to bed. Maddie dances to "Single Ladies". And both kids love Michael Franti. As of late, the kids have been on a Kings of Leon kick. I have a few CD's in the car, and they are getting played a lot right now. Maddie will ask for 'keenleon', and Eli loves "Use Somebody". The other night, as the four of us sat down for dinner, Mad Dog looked at Lehr and said, "Donn knock-kit!!" Lehr and I burst out laughing. That little girl picks up on lyrics as quick as Eli does. (KOL's song, "Notion" repeats "Don't Knock It" in the chorus.)

A few verbal gems from Eli today. We were playing baseball outside and I told Eli I'd pitch to him if he helped me find some whiffle balls. He started looking for them and said to me, "You're a nice mommy." Then after lunch, he and Maddux were running around their train table, being goofy. Maddie was wearing a pair of shorts that is still on the big side. As they were halfway down her diaper, Eli pointed to her and said, "Your britches are falling down! Lemme help you." He got her to stop so he could pull the shorts back up to her waist. What not-yet-four-year-old do you know that uses the word 'britches'?? Those kids are something....

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Easy as A, B, C....

I mentioned a while back that Maddie is into singing the alphabet these days. It was intensified when a neighbor gave us one of those Leapfrog magnets for the fridge. The kids have it and all of the letters on their magnetic easel on the back porch. Whenever I'm fixing a meal and they're out there playing, Maddux can be heard pressing the button over and over again to hear (and sign), "A. B. C. D..."

One day the kids and I were in the car and Maddux started reciting in the back seat. As usual, she didn't start with "A". I think this time it was "Geeeeee!!" So Eli picked up right where she left off: "H, I, J, K". And then Maddux chimed in, "elemenopeeeee!" The two went back and forth like that for about five minutes. It was really neat to hear! Maddie's recitation of the letters is not always intelligible, but Eli was able to decipher which letters she said and fill in the blanks. Again and again. Even though the ones he was responsible for changed every time. So, in his head, he had to keep up with what had been said and what came next.... When did Eli get so smart?!?

Eli received a new drum last week when Grandpa Ed came to town. After a long morning of playing at the pool, the kids came home on Friday and made a beeline for the new AND old drums. By the time I had the car unloaded, this is what I saw; they had formed their own drum circle! Eli and Maddux love music!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Swimmy Swimmerson

Today was an unexpected pool trip for me, so I didn't bring a camera, as I usually do when Lehr is there with us. I really wish I would have had the video camera though because Maddux was showing off her new skills in full force. She can (with a turtle-back still) tread water REALLY well. Enough so that she treads from pool end to pool end. It's her means of swimming. And she is SO calm through the whole thing...I love it!

Eli can now touch the bottom at the very shallow side...just enough so that he feels like a real big boy. And since we had two parents there (and since Maddux wasn't needing any assistance at all), when Eli asked to take off his turtle back we let him. He swam unassisted for about five minutes. And the summer is not even half over!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Good Mommy = Good Day

About a week ago, Eli randomly told me, "Mommy, you're a good mommy." Of course that made my whole day, regardless of what tantrums, time outs or tit-for-tats followed. This morning Eli woke up soaking wet, as he does from time to time. (I think he is just a REALLY deep sleeper at night.) I was in the process of changing his sheets and he stood near the door, watching me. Out of nowhere Eli smiled and said, "You're a good mommy, Mommy." Of course I stopped and told him, "Thank you. You're a good big boy!" I'm surprised I'm even able to type this without getting a stomach ache from all of the sicky sweetness of the exchange!

But these glimpses into Eli's spontaneous self have become more and more frequent. And I never get tired of that. He regurgitates life lessons back to me at random times, and often they fit the situation. Like when he is telling me why we shouldn't touch the grill, or why it's important to share. In recent weeks Eli has been playing nice with Maddux and even offers to help her with shoes or toys when he doesn't know I'm watching. Despite the days when I feel like everything I'm doing is in vain, Eli is growing into a young man whom I am very proud to call my son.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Warming Up In The Bullpen

Last night the boys went to a make-up Cubs game at Turner Field. The make-up game was almost rained out, but luckily the skies cleared just in time for the first pitch. Eli and Lehr had a great time eating hot dogs, shelling peanuts, and cheering on the boys in blue. The highlight for Eli came when Lehr took him to the pitching cage. Here is a quick video of my boy in action:

Bringin' the heat from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Monday, June 22, 2009


This morning the kids and I went to Sope Creek for the second time this week. No real reason other than to try 'hiking' a different route. It proved to be too much for the kids, probably due to the heat. They did great until we hit a steep section on the uphill. Maddie sat down right where she stood several times. But they made it. I made it. And next time will be easier.

Both last week and this week, Eli gave Maddie a new nickname while at the creek. There tends to be a lot of roots and large rocks on the path there, causing most people to trip from time to time. Given that Maddux has to lift her feet much higher than the rest of us, in proportion to her body, she trips even more than usual. But she rarely cries. Most of the time she stands back up and wipes her hands on her shirt. Love it. Eli says, "Nails, Mommy! We ss-ould call Maddux 'Nails' cuz she's tough as nails." Lehr said that once a while back and obviously Eli picked up on the nickname and the correct use of it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gone Fishing...

The kids are officially fish. Maddux is so comfortable in the water that she complains (read: WHINES) when you hold her belly or arms to assist her. She does still need it though, even with the turtle back. Just to remind her to keep her head up. We are one week of lessons down, 1/2 week to go. Eli has come a long way, but we won't be taking the turtle back off of him just yet. While he's in his lesson, however, she does not let him wear it. He jumps in, swims to the stairs, floats on his back, and touches the bottom. All with minimal help. But sometimes he's tired, so his doggy-paddle-swim-stroke looks more like treading water in place. And on those days, he'd surely sink without the floatie. Maddux will now jump in, 'monkey arm' her way down the wall, swim on her stomach while holding on to my hands (or with my hand just under her belly button), and float on her back (head on my shoulder). And she thinks she is queen of the baby pool. (And she's right!)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Taking Inventory

I know I shouldn't do that until the kids are 25 or 30, but when I have tough moments, it helps me to push through. Because no matter how hard the hour, the day, the week, when I take inventory on my kids, the pros always outweigh the less-than-pros. (Even on days like today when Eli stages an all-out time-out tantrum during lunch.)
  • Maddux is singing along to songs now. When we sing ABC's, she is right there with any missing letter, especially "G", "P", "ESSSSS", and "EXXXXX". She also sings along with me when I sing "You Are My Sunshine". Maddie can often be overheard singing to herself too...especially if she's a little tired. It's like she's singing herself a lullaby.
  • Eli told me today, "Mommy, I'm happy!" We were hiking at Sope Creek and all three of us were having a great morning. Out of the blue he looked at me and stated his happiness. Love. That. Boy.
  • Maddux looks up to her brother so so so much. And anything he does, she does. Even if there is no reason for it! If he points to his knee and mentions that it hurts, she does the same (with a whimper). If he reaches out and touches a leaf while we're walking, she makes sure to do the exact same. While we were hiking today, Eli spotted a really neat, really big grasshopper on a long branch. He wanted him to move, so eventually he pushed the branch up and down impatiently. After the joy of watching that grasshopper fly/hop away, we started walking. Maddux stayed behind, squatted at another branch (without any bugs on it), and started moving the leaves back and forth, just as Eli had just done.
  • Both Eli and Maddux do have love and compassion for each other deep down. Sometimes it's not evident, like when Maddux falls down right in front of Eli and he all but steps over her to keep playing. Or when Maddux reaches out and 'swats' at Eli's head, for no reason at all. But moments here and there give me a window to their hearts and it is good. Eli tells Maddie each morning as I'm getting her dressed, "Maddie, dats a pretty shirt!" or "Oooh. Maddux has on a beautiful swimsuit today." And Maddie hugs Eli so many times a day that I lose count. It's fun to see the interaction between them that has nothing to do with me. I sometimes catch Eli asking Maddie to play with him, or I see him help her over some rough terrain, or I see her bring him a toy. Life is good.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Talkin' Bout Money....AGAIN!

I know, I know....I have brought up the 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer too many times on this blog. But short of knocking on your doors, this is the easiest and most effective way to reach my peeps.

If you have already donated, thank you SO MUCH...you can stop reading now.

For the rest of you, I understand...the economy is making it hard to pay the bills, let alone pass along money to charities. Let me remind you that your donation would be tax-deductible. What? Still no takers? OK, how about this. At Lehr's suggestion (and a good one, I think), I am currently offering 'free' photography services in exchange for donations. I don't print out pictures, but I will shoot (in the photo-sense-of-the-word) you or your kids or your family and provide you with a CD with the full-quality shots. If you're interested, check out my work and let me know.

Be Still, My Heart

The kids and I went to the gym this morning so I could get my PT exercises done 'efficiently'. (At home with the kids is the opposite of that.) Maddux had a blast in her playroom, hanging out with her favorite caregiver. When she gave Maddux back to me at the end of my workout, she said, "I just love your daughter. Seriously."

I feel the same way.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Busy Bees

Today was an insanely busy day. We bounced from one activity to another commitment to another activity, and then back again. They were all fun things, but I know both kids have already fallen asleep even though they've only been in bed two minutes.

We started off the day with a few quick errands and then a trip to the Botanical Gardens. We haven't been in over a month, and in that time they have opened up a new entrance. This also meant new parking, with a fancy new parking deck. We pulled in and Eli gasped, "Mommy look! They made a new parking deck...it's beau-tiful!"

Once out of the car, we met up with Cooper and Finley and both of my kids turned their listening ears off, causing me to 'misplace' Maddux a few times. All of the kids played in the fountains, taking showers under the water falling from the flowers and filling their mouths with water shooting from the ground. (Oh yeah....sanitary for sure.) Speaking of which, Maddie totally grossed me (and probably other people) out before we left by not only drinking the water from the fountain, but drinking it from Eli's croc. Double gross. She held the shoe under the waterfall and then brought it to her mouth. Again and again. Even when I took the shoes away, she somehow managed to get them back and carry on with her drinking.

The kids didn't get down for naps until just after 2PM, and I had to wake them right before 4PM for Eli's swim lesson. Maddie was not happy about that. The kids jumped and swam and wore themselves out and THEN we had dinner company. More playing, more jumping, more boo-boos (Eli fell off of the swing set twice)... Finally bedtime around 9:30PM, which is late late late in our house. I have a feeling the kids might sleep in a little tomorrow.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The First of Many

Today we had Eli's first swim lesson without a parent in the pool. For the next 10 days, Eli will get into the pool with an instructor and 3-4 other kids for about 30 minutes. He was pretty excited about it, but he did ask me several times if the teacher (Miss Sasha) was going to take his turtle-back off to make him swim. I reassured him that eventually she would, but not unless he was ready. But I don't think he needed the reassurance...it was almost as if he was asking because he wanted her to require him to swim without it. Weird.

So the lesson started at 4:30, but the kids and I arrived a little after 4, so Eli could 'warm up'. He jumped off of the diving board a dozen times before we played in the baby pool as the other lesson finished up. When it was time for Eli to meet his group, he turned into a different child: very very focused. Maddux and I swam in the other side of the big pool so that I could see what he was doing and how he was reacting. I was very curious to see what the teacher asked of Eli and how he responded.

Eli and two similarly aged little girls sat on the side of the pool while Miss Sasha talked to them. She had them raise their hands a few times and then they played Simon Says to get them all in the pool. This lesson seemed to be primarily focused on Miss Sasha gauging their abilities and water 'friendliness'. They all jumped in with her help and swam to the stairs (all wearing some type of floatation device). But the last thing they did was jump in and swim that same path with NO flotation. Of course, Miss Sasha had to help them a little with that one. Eli loved it. He finished up and then asked to go back to the diving board, of course. The older kids were playing "Sharks & Minnows" at that time, so the waters were a bit rough. This meant that when Eli surfaced from his jump and swam to the ladder, sometimes the 'waves' washed over his head. But he never panicked. He just kept swimming. This kid amazes me.

And Maddux.... While Eli had his lesson she grew much more brave with swimming also. She went from leaning over off of the side into my arms to jumping in and going under before I pulled her up. And she monkeyed her way up and down the side of the pool using only her arm strength several times. I even had her kicking and moving her arms, 'round-and-round' style, through the pool in between jumps. She and I had a great time while Eli was in his lesson. It's going to be a fun 10 days!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009


After naps today, the four of us went to the pool. Since the pool has opened, we've been three times. The first time, Eli wouldn't jump in and barely let go of Lehr. The second time, he 'swam' on his own a little and jumped in a few times. Today he was back to the old Eli PLUS some. He jumped in, off of the side and the diving board, he 'swam' on his own, he learned how to pull himself up out of the pool on the edge, and he tread water, seemingly effortlessly. He did some diving (which was belly flop-ish), as well as some 'pencil jumps'. I am SO excited for lessons to start on Monday as this boy is prime to become a fish.

Maddux loves the water, but she has yet to jump in. She did her hands-on-the-pool's-bottom swim most of the time in the baby pool. It was so full today that this caused her head to be under quite a bit. She didn't mind at all!! She swam with Daddy in the big pool a little and she let him hold her as he jumped off of the diving board. Maddie's swim with Daddy mostly consists of her letting him pull her through the water as she points her feet and legs straight behind her, not moving at all.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


We were missing Daddy again a few nights this week, so I decided to try and be 'fun mommy' for once. After dinner and playing, I offered the kids popsicles on the back porch. Eli was ALL over it. Of course, Maddux got excited when she saw Eli get excited, but she didn't understand why. The type we had in the freezer were more like freezer-pops: encased in a plastic tube without a stick. Maddie couldn't grasp the concept of not turning the pop upside down, so she ended up a sticky mess. Eli ate every last bit of his and then bounced around the backyard for 20 minutes before baths. Summertime is here!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baby Burrito

Times like these..... Tonight Eli was so sweet. We had several moments during the day, but this afternoon he was pretty gentle with Maddux and thoughtful with everyone. He tried to lie down and read with her after naps (resulting in a time out for her because she swatted his head...a new thing for her. Yay.) And as it got close to bedtime, he asked me about when he was a baby. From out of nowhere. He wanted to know how I would put him to bed when he was a baby. So I explained to him how I would read him a book in the chair, then I would change his diaper and swaddle him before singing a song as I held him. Then I'd put him in his crib and cover him with his special blanket. After baths, Eli asked me to put him to bed like a baby because I'd just called him my 'baby boy' (without realizing it). So we read a book and then I swaddled him as best I could in his mommy-blanket. I held him, cradled in my arms, while I sang "You Are My Sunshine". Then I laid him down on his sheets and covered him with his special blanket. Eli loved every minute of it. And you know I did. It reminded me of those awesome nights when he was much younger and the evening was more devoted to just staring at him and singing to him. I do miss those days....it was nice to recreate those moments, even if only for one bedtime.

Monday, June 08, 2009

First Haircut

I trimmed Maddux's bangs, ever so slightly, last summer. I think I cut six total strands of hair. But since then, it hasn't been touched. For the last few months it's gone back and forth between being cute and curly when it's humid and straggly and unkempt when it's not. Lately it's been less of the cute and more of the unkempt, so I decided to break down and get it cut. Even though we're letting Eli's hair grow out, I decided to get his cleaned up a little too, just because we were already at the 'haircut place'. Eli went first and he wanted Maddux to sit next to him. He even chose the taxi cab so that she could have the airplane next to it. There were a lot of kids there though, so I didn't think they'd get cut at the same time. Two minutes into Eli's haircut, they called Maddux and allowed her to sit next to him. It was so weird....Eli didn't have a 'real' haircut until he was much older, so I never had to deal with the moving-around-while-the-haircut-is-happening thing. Maddux was still pretty good, but a bit wiggly in her airplane chair.

Being Maddie's first official cut, I snapped a few pictures. The cutest one is the after. She sat so still while the woman put a pony tail on top (just like I do it, but Maddux cries for Mommy). Then she put a few sticky 'jewels' on her too. So cute, and Eli told her she looked pretty.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Nice Words

Last night I had to keep the kids in my room with me while I attempted to get ready for dinner. (It was Lehr and my 10th anniversary and we had a baby-sitter!) I was trying on a few things and Eli was apparently paying attention.
"OOOOOO! That's pretty, Mommy!!", he said when I put on the first dress.
Then he told Maddux, "Maddie, tell Mommy something pretty. No...tell her. Maddux, say something pretty to Mommy!"
I know he learned about using 'nice words' at VBS on Wednesday, so I can only assume that is what he was doing (and trying to get Maddux to do). I love my sweet boy!

Thursday, June 04, 2009


It's been a long week. The kids and I haven't seen Lehr since Monday. I made it all the way until tonight before using the TV...pretty amazing given the week it's been. Eli and Maddux were so cute, watching a few minutes of Elmo before baths tonight. Check them both out, in underwear, laying next to each other on the couch. Maddie saw her brother lounging this way and had to replicate it, of course.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Cubs Win!!

The kids and I went to the Cubs' game tonight. Lehr is out of town, so Uncle D accompanied us, helping out in a HUGE way. Eli used to sit and watch full games, even when he was Maddux's age or younger. But now he knows about the kids' areas at Turner Field, so his attention span for the actual game is a less. And Maddux....well, she never sits down for a second. Ants in the pants. She lasted just shy of two innings before I took her for a diaper change and 'run'. (It's actually silly to say she lasted that long because those two innings were full of her eating, drinking, walking up and down as many seats as she could, pushing seats up and down, getting on my lap, getting off my lap, getting on D's lap, getting off D's lap.) After about four innings, we all joined up and went to the upper deck so the kids could run the bases. Then we traveled to the opposite site of the stadium so Eli could play on a mini field with other kids. He loved it. I think Eli hit five times (after standing in line five times) before we called it quits and went home. Tomorrow should be interesting with the compromised sleep. Eli has VBS which means a bright and early wake time.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I signed Eli up for his first ever VBS, which is happening this week. It's at a church right down the street from us, and, as VBS's usually are, it is FREE! Eli is having so so so much fun, and I think he's even learning a few things. (BONUS!!) The fun is in part due to the fact that four of his buddies from church and MOPS are in the same group as him at Crocodile Dock (the name of the camp).

My first born, 'rule follower' comes home every day and tells me about a few kids who 'didn't obey'. Then he tells me that he did. (I'm sure he's telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth on both accounts, right?) A pro to that is the recognition of behavior in others that is disobedient (in the hopes that he becomes self-aware as well). The con is the tattling aspect. I've been working with Eli to help his friends obey, rather than tell on them. This pops up every day in our house when Maddux does something Eli thinks is not OK. Instead of going to her and attempting to help her obey, he comes right to me and tattles. We're going to be working on this one for a while, I think.