Thursday, January 28, 2010

Parent-Teacher Conferences

This morning I had two Parent-Teacher conferences. First with Maddie's teacher at 9AM and then with Eli's teacher at 9:45. The school was awesome enough to provide childcare for students (and siblings) during the conferences so Maddux and Eli hung out with a few of their assistant teachers in a big room with legos and Toy Story. When I picked them up it was obvious that Eli had been a completely different child than he usually is at school: he was quiet, focused, and very well-behaved. It's amazing the 'night-and-day' that happens with him depending on who is in his company.

I met with Ms. Sue to talk about Maddux. I don't remember having a conference for Eli at this age, but it was a good chance to check in on Maddie's interaction with the kids in her class. Her teacher assures me that Maddux is a sweetheart and plays very well with all of the kids. She knows all of her colors, shapes and lots of letters. There is no concern with anything, socially or academically, at this point. The only *possible* issue is her energetic nature during times when she needs to not be so crazy. I told Ms. Sue that we do time outs at home to stop her momentum when she gets this way; she said she didn't feel that was necessary at this time, but she'll keep it in her back pocket. (She also agreed that Maddux is two years old, and her behavior is totally normal for this age. Next year is when it may be an issue.)

Ms. Sue also told me that Maddux is now playing with children other than Sam (her buddy from church) each day. One new girl in particular; she started a few weeks ago and had a tearful first day. Since then, Maddie and this girl have been best buds. This came as no surprise to us: Mad Dog has a very soft spot in her heart for tears.

Eli's conference was next and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit anxious before it started. As of late there have been some behavior issues, and while I wanted to discuss them, I worried that they may be an indicator that Eli was not/is not ready for Kindergarten. With his August birthday he will either be the youngest or oldest in his class, most likely creating a gap somewhere. With Eli, we've always found it best to 'play up'...he tends to do better around older kids, rising to the challenge. But we know he has been giving in to the tendency to be a follower as of late; this is not the maturity level we'd hoped he would begin his elementary career with. Eli's teacher and I discussed it and she agreed that he is struggling in that area, but he is one of the younger ones in the class. Some of it is to be expected, but (in my opinion), he's going to have to rise above his age if he's going to start school next year because he'll always be the youngest kid, so that really can't be an excuse.

We looked over some one-on-one testing he took recently, and he fared very well. He recognizes all letters and numbers, many sight words, and answered almost all questions right. The ones he missed were silly ones, which told me he was just not focusing at that moment. (How many toes do you have? He answered 'two'.) We discussed social interactions and some of the behavior things came up again. The good news is, Eli's teacher has yet to see him do anything out of anger or mean-spiritedness. She has said several times, "He doesn't have a mean bone in his body." That is good to hear. I will hold on to that for as long as possible. Also, she said when he is the first one to class in the morning, he works very very well, independently until the other kids arrive. So in an empty room, with no real distractions, my boy can focus :)

Something his teacher finished with was the recommendation to start him in school next year, despite the maturity issues, because he we would be bored academically otherwise. I don't think Eli is the most gifted child, but he is on-track with 'school smarts' to begin in the fall. The way I see it, if we hold him back, we are just looking for more behavior problems. And she also mentioned that he is responding VERY well to the new behavior correction system they are using in the class. It holds each student accountable for their own actions, and she knows (through Eli) that we have rewards/consequences at home based on his behavior at school. She said that helps a lot.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Like a Dumbell

Eli's feet will not stay out of the water! I signed Eli up for some indoor swim lessons after the 1st of the year in the hopes that he would not lose all of his swimming-without-floatation-device skills. We were just starting to get somewhere last summer and then the pool closed. Well Eli loves the class. He loves the pool. He loves the instructor. He loves the water. And he loves to do whatever he is asked at the lesson. What he does not like to do is keep his feet behind him while swimming. They drift towards the bottom of the pool (as if he were treading water) almost 100% of the time. The teacher jokes that we need to take him out of swimming and enroll him in a pre-school water polo team because his 'water-treading' is spot on for that.

I think he just needs little floaties on his ankles...just to get him started :) Here is a quick, less-than-good-quality video of some of his lesson yesterday.

2010 01 Eli Swims from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Donation Corner: Prayer

I know, I's been a long time since I've been consistent with the Donation Corner. I've let 'life' get in the way. And not just on the blog, but in many areas of my life. That is part of the reason why this time around, I'm focusing on prayer. This post may read wrong. I may ruffle feathers. I may alienate some of the few readers I have for this section, but I'm going to try to be honest.

Charities, foundations, non-profits...they are all GREAT and there are many that are well-deserving of our money. However, giving money to those less fortunate, or less healthy, or less privileged has become 'easy' for me. That's not to say the money our family gives couldn't be used in other areas of our budget. But I have found that it has become rather routine for me to donate to a charity or two each month. And then I find myself mentally checking that cause off my 'to-do' list for a while. I think that is wrong. I KNOW that money is needed and very appreciated, but needed at least as much is prayer for those in need of the funds, supplies, medical attention, etc. And I haven't been keeping up that part of my 'donation'.

I guess what it boils down to is that donations should be an act of giving. And while I am giving monetarily, it's not enough of a sacrifice to me. It's like if you heard that a multi-million dollar company donated to the Red Cross. $1000 whole dollars. For any one of us to give that much would warrant a big "WOW". But was that really the true spirit of giving for Richie Rich, Inc? Or was that more like a 5% tip? My practice of giving money without prayer is starting to feel like a 5% tip....

What IS most valuable to me is my time. Way more than money. My time with my husband. My time with my kids. My time with my work. My time with me. To give that up is a BIG sacrifice. One that I don't often make. But I think God calls me to do that. Because I've been so blessed to have health, family, a house, a car, food on the table, I think God may be a bit ticked with me for not taking time each day to pray for those that haven't been as blessed in this life. So starting today (and hopefully going forward EVERY day), I plan to take at least 15 minutes each afternoon (during my hour of 'down time') to pray for others. That could mean Haiti, that could mean my neighbors, that could mean Kenya, that could mean our government...who knows. I hope that once I start, I'll find I have a lot of prayers on my heart.

If you feel so inclined to join me in this Donation Corner, you can check out a site my church set up this year for prayer.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More Eli Drumming

The boy is in the zone. Seriously. He has the goofy facial expressions. He closes his eyes. It's fun fun fun to watch. (He does this sometimes while playing guitar, but mostly while he plays drums.) He watches everything Lehr does, as well as everything he sees any drummer do, and replicates it. And Maddux? She does everything Eli does!

Here is a short video of Eli jamming to Satallites and Sirens and the ever-faithful Kings of Leon. He doesn't quite have the tempo down, but if you watch closely, you can see taht he is really paying attention to the music. When there are no drums, Eli knows and anticipates this. And when the music changes and the drummer uses a different beat (pattern??), Eli does the same by changing his hand position. (Keep in mind I know NOTHING about percussion, so my observations are just from watching and listening to him...excuse my lack of jargon!)

2010 01 Eli Drum from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Oh That Girl!

Maddux is very interested in where people work these days. Even though she knows the answer, she often asks me, "Where Daddy work?" (Translation is 'where is daddy's work', not 'where does daddy work'.) Or she'll ask, "Where Misser Mawone work?" or "Where D work?" The other day she asked me, "Where you work, Mommy?" I told her, "I work here, Maddie. At the house with you and Eli." She laughed and said, "Das not work! Mommy, you SILLY!!"

On Our Toes

That is where this girl keeps us. She is ever so kind, especially when someone is hurt or crying, but she is very very curious, and will get into most anything she can. She is the reason for safety locks on the medicine cabinet. She is the reason for toddler 'leashes' (though we don't have one). She is the reason for locking a child's door when they go to sleep for fear they will get up and leave the house. (I set the house alarm very intentionally because of this.)

Two things this week:
- Maddux had her first communion last Sunday. Yup....the juice, the bread. And she tried to put the juice back after she sipped it. This all took place before the service, so luckily it didn't disrupt anyone else's experience. The four of us were in the sanctuary and before I knew it, she was at the table, picking up a cup of juice. Of course, Maddie was shocked and offended when I pulled her away from the table, telling her that it was off-limits.

- Maddux pulled a dresser over. How she managed to do it without herself being under it is beyond me, but thank God she didn't get a scratch. The kids and I were upstairs playing when Maddux went into her room. She does this often to retrieve a toy or book. Seconds later Eli and I heard a LOUD crash and Maddie crying. She was standing next to the pile of dresser and drawers and clothes. Everywhere. That would have no-doubt resulted in our second 911 call and ambulance ride in six months.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It's so neat to watch (hear?) the vocabulary of your children increase because with it comes interpretations of words that you are sometimes right on, and sometimes not! When it comes to some spiritual lessons, Eli struggles a little. Mainly with concepts of "humble" and "confess". But some others, he totally understands, like "brave" and "forgive".

Earlier in the week the kids had a great bath time. They were both happy and nice, the whole time! Of course I pulled out the camera, and Eli showed off a few tricks. (Which meant that Maddux ALSO showed off a few tricks.) The main one Eli had was putting his face in the water (face down), and closing his eyes. He told me, "Look, Mom! I am being brave!!"

We signed Eli up for swim lessons last week, in the hopes that he would not forget all of his independent swimming skills before next summer. So far he LOVES the classes, and I love the teacher. He is no-nonsense, but not in a drill sergeant way. And he has the kids swim laps the whole time, which makes for a very quick bedtime for Eli. Last week I left Eli's room and by the time Lehr got up to go say his 'good-night', Eli was already snoring.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sick Girl

Maddux has been sickly a few times recently (Christmas Eve and last week). Each time, it's only lasted a few hours, and it seems to be triggered by nothing in particular. She'll wake up all lethargic and 'un-Maddie-like' and want to remain in a reclined position for a few hours. There usually is a little bit of vomiting, and some sleeping, but no other sick symptoms. Then it will be gone just as quickly as it started. She woke up that way again today, so I decided to call the doctor.

The nurse line was not at all helpful unfortunately, so I just brought Maddux in. Even though she seemed better, I needed to just check in with the doc to see what *should* be causing me concern, assuming everything so far was normal. The doctor checked her over and asked me a bunch of questions before finally agreeing with Lehr and I: we need to monitor the occurrence and wait until something changes before moving forward. She thought it could be a number of things, one of which is reflux. I have a prescription for some meds that may help her with that, but we are waiting to see if her condition changes before going down that road (doctor agreed). That diagnosis would not surprise me given the amount of vomiting Maddux did as a baby. Until she was about a year, I don't think that child went one day without spitting up!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Eli has been really focused on drums in the last month. He never loses his love for them, but his intense obsession with them comes and goes a little. Recently he's seen Lehr make notes and write music for some gigs he has coming up. Eli soaks in everything he sees and hears, so you know my boy is now writing music also. It started the other day when he came out of his room in the morning and asked for a pencil right away. He then found his daddy's clipboard and said he needed to make some 'notes'. This is what he wrote. It actually looks like some 8th or 16th notes. He has obviously been paying close attention when Lehr is working!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gone Fishing

I had the thought before the holidays to take the kids to the Aquarium, but given that school was just letting out, and holiday travelers were filling our city, I thought better of it. My strategy became instead to avoid as many crowds as possible by going right after school resumed. I figured maybe there wouldn't be as many school field trips at that time?? was that day. I told the kids about a week ago that we were going to have a special 'day date' with just the three of us, but I didn't tell them until yesterday where we were going. (No great pictures - I only brought my little camera.)

First off, if you are in the Atlanta area and want to take your kids, check out the "Mommy and Me pass": parking and admission for me AND both kids for only $25. (Normally parking alone is $10.) Combine that with my goal to avoid paying for food inside a theme park or inside entertainment facility (such as an aquarium), and the day was downright cheap!

The kids and I got there right at 10 when the doors opened. How cool it was to let the kids just walk! I did have a 'hand or hold' policy with Maddie when we were surrounded by a lot of people, but at least half of the time she was on her own. And it was pretty empty except for a few school field trips. (DOH!) Luckily, they were the only 'crowd' we encountered, so as long as we stayed ahead of them, we were fine. The kids were wide-eyed and all fingers-pointing right from the get-go. I'm pretty sure it has been over a year since we last visited. My big jogging stroller doesn't work too well inside (especially when there are a lot of people), so once Maddux became too big to ride in the Bjorn, fish-sighting fell off of my radar. Eli remembered some of it, but it was all new to Maddie. She loved the jellyfish, the whale sharks, and the spider crabs. Eli's favorite were the otters, the alligators, and (of course) the spider crabs.

We happened upon a tank of sea anemones that were available to be touched. Of course the kids were intrigued, but when it came time to actually put their fingers close to them, both kids were shy. I wasn't able to be really patient with them either because so many people wanted to touch the sea creatures and I had to support both kids' weight since they weren't tall enough to reach themselves. We had the same experience at the ray and shark tank. Lots of interest, not a lot of guts.

Mad Dog and Eli loved sitting underneath the many overhead tanks. Watching fish go by over them got even better when they saw a diver in the tank. We saw a total of three divers today. Two cleaning and working on water 'stuff' and one feeding the whale sharks.

The big tank wall is always an impressive sight. Both kids loved watching the fish and sharks swim on what looks like a big movie screen. I pointed out a few school of fish to Eli and then he shouted, "LOOK! A SCHOOL!" every time he saw one (which is about once/minute in that tank.) Before we got there, Maddie told me, "I no like crabs and shaaahrks. Dey scawy!" But once we got there and she realized they were all behind glass, she was totally into it. We spent two hours there before coming home (the indoor playground wasn't open)...both kids were exhausted, but very excited. They chattered on and on about all of the animals on the way home.

By far the best moment of the day was the last five minutes in the car. Just as I pulled off of the highway coming home, Eli said, "Thank you, Mommy!! Thank you for bringing me to the A-care-i-um!" (Totally out of nowhere!) We have been talking SO much about being grateful vs. being greedy. What an incredible moment of graciousness!

Monday, January 11, 2010

True Family

Everyone comments on how much Maddux talks these days. She does...she's a talking machine. And it's not just words. This girl is really paying attention to the world around her and she uses her new vocabulary in context. Tonight in the bath this is what I overheard as I was getting the kids' pajamas ready:

Eli - "Maddie's drinking waaah-teeeerr!"
Maddux - "Don't be a tattletale."


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Good Times

I have to enjoy them, right? Because we know, especially with siblings, they are not always present. This last week we had some really good times. First off, Eli was so kind and 'lovey-dovey' a few of the afternoons. This was really impressive because the temperatures were so cold that outside play, both at school and home, was non-existent. This usually leads to cabin fever kids, but Eli did a great job of holding it together and really playing well with Mommy and Maddux. One afternoon he was especially helpful while I was doing laundry. He insisted on helping me fold towels. And for someone who has never been shown how to do it, he had a pretty good end product!

My favorite part of the week was, of course, the good times between Maddie and Eli. I love it when I'm not sitting at the breakfast table, but conversations still take place. Or when I see them playing in the corner, and Maddux is asking Eli questions only to have him actually respond. And even though I am around Maddie all day, every once in a while she says something that I can't quite understand. This happens to Daddy a lot too. Almost every time, Eli can interpret for us. Gotta love that sibling bond!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Heart Issues

So much is happening in the world that is Eli. He is growing up so fast, learning how to read, how to write words and numbers, how to play with friends without Mommy there...mainly learning how to be independent! This is definitely causing some internal turmoil with my little man. He wants to be grown up, but it does mean a lot of responsibility and accountability that he's not ready for. So Eli goes back and forth between showing great maturity and a bit of regression in some areas. For example, this week he cut his hair with his scissors. Something I would never expect from him because he is always so trustworthy. But in another area, he showed some real 'big boy' decisions.

Before church last week, Eli found some extra change in his room and got to talking with Lehr about where he should put it. There are two piggy banks in his room as well as a bank housing change for kids in Kenya. Lehr reminded him that he could choose which bank to put the money in. He chose the bank for Kenya, telling Lehr, "I want Pkemei to have my money." (Pkemei is a child we sponsor in Kenya.) Lehr told him how cool that was, but then questioned him about money in general, to make sure he understood what he was doing. They discussed what money was used for: to buy clothes and food and toys. Lehr reminded Eli that he could save up a lot of change and use it to buy new Legos. (BTW - he was NOT trying to sway Eli to do this, just making sure he understood so that he could make an honest decision.) Eli told Lehr, "No, I'll give all of it to Pkemei. I have enough toys...maybe he can buy some with this money." Life is GOOD!

Friday, January 08, 2010


We were predicted to get snow yesterday and today, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, the forecast for snow in Atlanta was right! Sometime after lunch yesterday, the white powder started to fall. Of course it was during Maddux's nap, but Eli watched from his room until she woke up. (He and I snuck out onto the back deck for a few minutes when it first started.) By the time she woke up, it had stopped, but less than an hour later, the snow started up again. Eli, Maddux and I got bundled up and went outside to join the neighbors in celebration. Eli had a blast trying to make himself slip on the ice accumulated in the gutter while Maddux kept trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue. While we were outside, Daddy came home and joined in the fun. Not long after, the snow turned to a little bit of sleet, so we went inside to eat dinner. The kids had a blast and Eli said he hoped it snowed more so we could build a snowman family. ("One Daddy, one Eli, one Mommy, and one Maddux.")

He got his wish! We woke up this morning to a little heavier dusting on the streets, bushes and lawns. The temperatures had dropped into the teens, so many streets were frozen over. Of course this meant no school, so I planned to have some outdoor fun with the kids. Maddux had different plans, however. She woke up around 6AM, retching like she had on Christmas Eve. She vomited a little and then laid with me in her chair. She eventually fell back asleep and then woke up to request I put her back in her crib. But as soon as I left the room she was crying again. More stomach convulsions and more vomit. Poor girl! She ended up laying on the couch (on top of towels) while I worked. And that was her existence for most of the morning. Even once the three of us went downstairs, I made a bed of towels for her on the ground so she could be near Eli and I while we ate breakfast. (She tried a saltine cracker, but only ate half and then vomited it up. Water is the only thing she's been able to keep down so far.)

Maddux has gone in and out of feeling well enough to play for five or ten minutes, but then the nausea will hit her and she'll return to the couch (or floor) and lie down again. Around 11AM, our neighbor called to say they were going to try cardboard and cookie sheets on the hill in front of our houses. Since Maddie was feeling better at the moment, I bundled both kids up and we headed outside. What a blast! Maddux wanted to be held the whole time, but Eli slid down the hill with the other kids, having an absolute blast. Oh the joy of a snow day!! Mad Dog lasted maybe fifteen minutes before she begin to cry and beg to go inside. Once we got upstairs, she put her head on the couch pillow and passed out.

Once Eli's fingers had frozen over a few times, he made his way back inside. Maddie woke up about the same time and we decided to tackle lunch. I figured smoothies may be the best (read: most tame) thing for her stomach, even though it was the opposite comfort food based on the weather. They both gulped down the frozen fruit quickly. Eli moved on to some pretzels and cheese sticks, along with a banana while Maddux took her place on the floor-bed again. (At least no vomiting this time!) I decided to let the kids veg on the couch for a few minutes before naps as a special treat. As soon as I told them the news, Eli told me that he wanted to get his blanket to so he could be next to Maddie on the couch and hold her. Does it get any more sticky sweet than that?!? As soon as Sesame Street came on the screen, he did just that. And she let him. Life is good.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

B for Behavior

We could be turning a new leaf for can only hope! Before the holiday break, we discovered that Eli had been struggling more than usual with following the crowd. Apparently at school he was consistently getting into trouble, but only because he was flocking to trouble, not because he was causing it. His teacher said no matter how focused or on-task he was, if one of his friends started doing something 'wrong' (even if it was on the other side of the room), Eli would immediately jump in and join him/her.

We had several talks with Eli in the last few weeks about personal responsibility and what it means to make choices for yourself (rather than having someone else make them for you). As receptive as he was, I knew the first day back to school would be a challenge. Eli's teacher instated a new system in the class involving reports home each night indicating what color each child ended the day on (blue = no warnings, green = 1, yellow = 2, and red = 3). This system is in line with many county schools in our area, so it is her hope that this will help prepare them for Kindergarten. I am SO happy to report that Eli stayed on BLUE today. He was very proud too. Hooray for starting on the right foot!!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Reading Rainbow

Guess who can read?!? Obviously Eli has been able to 'read' his name and a few other choice words by sight for a long time. But in the last week or so, we've been focusing more on using the letters and context clues to read and he's really coming along! For Christmas, Santa brought him some cool new BOB books (the COOLest things I've found in a while). Eli is now up to three books. That's right: he can read THREE books. And he is so so so excited about it. When he reads a whole page (or book) by himself, he gets that silly smile that he gets when he's happy, and he starts giggling. Love my growing-up-too-fast boy!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Happy New Year!

Haven't posted since Christmas....not a real post anyway. I tend to play catch up on video when I have extra hands around to help with the kids, so this holiday break has been video-centered, as evidenced by the last few posts. Soooo, let's catch up on what's happened, shall we?

The Christmas week continued with Mom-Mom, Rachel and Aunt Megan coming to town. Four pasta dinners later, Eli and Maddux spent a morning with them several exits north of home at a mall that houses a carousel. The kids loved it! We tried to take Eli to one a few years ago, but it was closed when we arrived, so this was the first ride for them both. Maddux told me she rode on a zebra and she 'not scared'. Eli had a blast....I think he rode a few different animals, but the details are escaping me now.

Cold weather blew into town, and our outdoor play was limited again. We tried to ride bikes at the river, but the wind was too chilly, so a brisk walk took place instead. Eli had his first play date without Lehr or I present. A time out took place, but the parents assured me that the boys play(ed) really well together, so we'll have to get them together again soon.

Last, but not least, I decided we should tackle taking down the decorations AND potty training in one day. Sounds silly, but PT requires that you stay indoors (at least when it is 25-degrees out) all day, so my thought was to kill two birds with one stone. Maddux has been pooping on the potty like a champ. For close to two weeks. Somewhere around Christmas I realized that I hadn't changed a dirty diaper in over a week. What a nice 'surprise'! So yesterday we decided to tackle the 'pee-pee'. She had one accident right off the bat, but after that she was a pro. We set the timer, but she ran to the potty before it went off every time and had success. Later that night we had one more accident on the way to the bathroom, but we're calling the day a success. Today we put a pull-up on her when we went to run errands, but we still went to the bathroom several times while we were out and she stayed dry the whole time. (YAY!!!!) This week at school worries me because I'm not sure of her ability to hold it more than a minute or so once she realizes she has the urge. We'll see!!