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.