Friday, April 30, 2010

Strawberry Pickin'

A few years ago I took the kids to pick strawberries at a farm about an hour away. Eli loved it (Maddux was in the back-pack carrier still), so I thought I'd try again. The weather was supposed to be awesome this week, so I picked the only open day we had this week and decided to bite the bullet on naps/room time in the name of fun. Maddie and I picked Eli up from school about 40 minutes early so we could get on the road well before lunchtime.

The drive took about an hour, but I popped in a CD of our church worship band and the kids were totally entertained for the drive (yay for not having a CD player in the car for six months to make some music new again!) We got there and the kids were practically running to the strawberry patches. I got them each a bucket, gave them a quick lesson on picking (pick from the long stem, stay away from white and green berries, and have fun), and they were off! We only ended up picking for one row because they got each and every berry there, burning themselves out a bit. But we had two buckets that were pretty full. After quickly paying, I grabbed the lunch I'd packed and we found a picnic bench to use. Even though we had water, sandwiches and some dried fruit, all the kids wanted was strawberries, of course. I let them each have a few handfuls before packing up and heading home.

I'm not sure how, given the busy morning for both kids, the blue-sky-sun-beating down-on-us afternoon, and the excitement at the patch, but neither kid napped on the way home. Maddie went down for about 30 minutes when we got home, but that was it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fingernail Polish

So last week Eli asked to have his fingernails painted. Although he'd asked to have his toes painted a few times before, it was a rarity and he'd never expressed any interest in fingers. It was the day before we left for Jazz Fest, and Maddux wanted to have her toes 'spruced up' before we left. I took both kids to my bathroom to paint them. She chose 'black' (really dark blue). I asked Eli if he wanted it on his toes and he politely declined. By the time I finished her toes, Eli suggested I paint her fingers too, so she was 'pretty'. No prob. I asked Maddux which color she wanted and she said, 'black', but changed to pink for the second hand. Before I was done, Eli said, "I think i want some of that on my fingers too." It took me by surprise, but I have no problem with that. I did warn him that it would be on for a while, just like it was on his toes....I wanted to give him a chance to reconsider, given the temporary permanence (does that even make sense?) of the paint. He was sure. So I painted his fingers black and he loved it.

He wore that paint all through Jazz Fest and a day of school (almost a full week) before any remorse was shown. The second morning back to school Eli asked me to take it off on the way to school. I initially didn't think anything of it and said, "Sure, we'll do it after school." Then I realized he looked a little stressed and decided to inquire the reason for his desire to have it removed. He told him one of his friends at school didn't like it. Apparently he had told Eli, "No" when he saw Eli's nails. This is a friend that Eli idolizes and is quite a follower of. While I don't think this little boy is doing anything bad to Eli, my son's obsession with him is a problem because it squashes any independent thinking on Eli's part.

Ugh. So here I am, two minutes from dropping Eli off at school, forced to have a big talk about self-confidence, not putting stock in what others judgments are, and being your own person. No problem, right? I did my best to remind him that God made him special the way he was, and He made everyone differently for a reason. I also tried to drill into him that anyone who asks Eli to change himself for the sake of a friendship is no someone who values Eli as a person. Carpool line. Kisses and reassurances. He's out the door. Time to pray.

Eli asked once more, in passing for the nail polish to be removed, but we had another discussion about who wanted the polish removed (Eli or his friend), and it was left at that. It wasn't that I wanted to force him to be subjected to ridicule by any of his school friends, but I wanted to give him a somewhat safe place to learn how to stand up for his personal appearance choices.

Fast forward to today. Maddie wanted more polish on her fingers (the original manicure didn't even last the Jazz Fest weekend), so the three of us were in my bathroom again. Maddie asked for purple (I have a dark dark purple that is almost black, much like the blue). I showed it to her and she said, "No, LIGHT purple, please." So I pulled out a very pastel purple. Done. Before I even started, Eli asked for me to put some more on his nails too. This caught me by surprise again, but you know I wanted to support it! I told him he could and asked what color. He wanted the same one as Maddux. Well, if the kids were teasing him about black polish, I can't imagine Easter-egg lavender was going to be a better choice. I told him to wait until I did Mad Dog's nails, so he could see what it looked like first. He still asked for it. Ok...done. More prayer needed, I'm sure. We'll see what happens at school tomorrow!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

NOLA Jazz Fest 2010 - Day 3

We kicked off our last day with a trolley ride. Eli remembers the trolleys from previous years, but I think this is the first one Maddux will remember. We rode the train about half way out St. Charles and then turned around. The kids liked it, but it is rather stressful holding them in the VERY open windows. Not only are they in danger of falling out, but lamp posts, trees, and other trolleys pass by extremely close as the train is in motion. Regardless, we all had a good time and were able to make it to Fest before they opened again.javascript:void(0)

I was in charge of the 'schedule' today, so we did a lot of moving around and we stayed mostly on the opposite side of where we'd been. The music tended to be more traditional in NOLA style too. We started at the Kids' Stage with the Red Hot Brass Band: a band made up of kids no older than high school. They brought their newest member on towards the end (part of a program called 'pass it on'). He was four years old and he played the snare drum. Eli loved this band, joining in their Second Line after their performance. From there we went to the Jazz and Heritage Stage. That stage is all about big 'street' brass bands, feathered costumes, and Second Lining. Two or three of the older 'kid' musicians jumped in to join the Storeyville Stompers Brass Band, providing an awesome show. Maddie was getting tired (and hot, due to the sun) at this point, but she did let me dance with her for "You Are My Sunshine". We also heard "When The Saints Go Marching In" for the eighth never gets old. Mad Dog even chimed in wiht her own "WHO DAT?!?!"

We then went to the Gospel tent and the Blues tent. The kids were both exhausted by now, and Eli fell asleep in the BOB. Maddie had no choice but to nap on me, which I loved. Then, when Eli woke up, I transferred her to the BOB and she slept for another thirty minutes. That girl was tired!! We ended our day at the Blues tent with an awesome performance by Jonny Lang. Eli loved the music and learned that the band was 'playing filthy' for the last number. (It was pretty insane!)

Another Mango Freeze was shared, lots of red beans and rice was consumed, Ya Ka Mein, craw fish beignets, and bottles and bottles of water were put to rest. And yet we were still hungry for dinner. I picked up a few re-heatable pasta dishes from the local farmers market to eat in the hotel room. The kids ate in their underwear - awesome pictures.

2010 04 NOLA Jazz Fest from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

NOLA Jazz Fest 2010 - Day 2

Before we drove to Jazz Fest today, we met some friends for breakfast. "Uncle Catfish" (and his wife "Mrs. Catfish) met us at a fun neighborhood spot. The kids had a blast hanging out and being silly with the names we call them. We got a tour of their new house and both kids were totally awestruck by their powder room downstairs: blue walls, blue sink, blue lights.

So today was a perfect example of something the other side of 'shoulda/coulda/woulda'. It shoulda rained all day. The tornados coulda come through and ruined Jazz Fest for everyone today. We woulda been sad, oh-so-sad. But instead we were incredibly lucky with the weather. We arrived before the gates opened to find very windy conditions. As long as you didn't take any dust directly in the eyes, it was ok. Once again, we camped out at Gentilly. We were convinced we would be at fest for only a few shows, so we decided to head back to our great location again and enjoy while we could. (I don't think I mentioned the location: RIGHT next to long long lines of porta potties with no wait and perfect views of the stage.)

The main event for us was Bonerama, with their four trombones and awesome New Orleans sound. Eli and Maddux loved them, recognizing a song or two during the set. More food was consumed, more dancing occurred, and lots of air drumming took place. After 'lunch', we granted the kids their coveted Mango Freeze. After we let them share one last year, they've been obsessed. It doesn't help that we have this picture hung in Maddux's room, so they are reminded of it every day. (Maddie often tells me, "I want to go there again, Mommy. To Mango Freeze.") Long story short, all we heard on the car ride down here was Eli telling us, "I want to share Mango Freeze with Maddie again, Mommy. I will hold it and share nicely with her." Sure enough, he did a great job. They sat next to each other and Eli did his best to divvy up the sweet treat between them. At one point I noticed the small bites he was giving both of them. Eli assured me, "I don't want to give her too much cuz she'll get a brain freeze."

Sometime after that, Maddux was wearing thin, so I threw her in the BOB and took her for a stroll, convinced she'd pass out. She did: first sitting up and slumped over and then finally against the back of her seat. I got to see some Cowboy Mouth while we walked and she got to recharge in time for more craw fish and Overly boy interaction. She and Russell hit it off quite well, sitting on each other's laps and running around. He was so sweet with her...she's a lucky girl to have such nice boys to look out for her!

Bathrooms were the theme of the day with both kids going about twelve times each. It was noticeably warmer today (but still not bad), and that meant more water consumption. How, I'm not sure, because Maddux drank so much yesterday you'd think she'd float away.... Anyway, for one trip, Eli told me, "I won't touch anything inside, Mommy, because it's disgusting." (I let him go in the porta potty by himself - I just stood outside of the door.)

On our way back to the car we were treated to a street concert. This is so common around fest, but it was the first one the kids had seen. They were both wide-eyed and silent. Neither would dance with me, but Eli talked about it a few times on the way home.

Friday, April 23, 2010

NOLA Jazz Fest 2010 - Day 1

After a rather uneventful drive into town yesterday, we were ready to hit Jazz Fest today. However, the kids weren't thinking about Fest when they first woke up. Eli got up to go to the bathroom, followed by Maddux. Eli then asked us if Maddux could snuggle in his bed with him. His exact words were, "I wanna snuggle with Max cuz she's my best friend." We got her and her blanket set up under his covers and the two stayed there in the dark, giggling, for over ten minutes. We heard several kissing 'smacks' and lots of loudly whispered, "I LOVE YOU!" conversations. Serious cuteness overload....

We planned to camp out for most of the day at the Gentilly stage, alternating turns walking around to hear other music. Dr. John and John Cleary were playing back-to-back at Gentilly, so we got there as soon as the gates opened to set up our spot.

The weather was awesome: cooler than usual and breezy (it's rare to be in NOLA and not sweat and 'stick'). We got our chairs and blanket set up before the stage crew finished the sound checks for the first band, so we took that time to walk up to the stage and hang out so the kids could see some of the music up close. (Chairs, etc. were not allowed past a spray-painted line in the grass. We had our stuff at the front of that line, but it was a good ways back from the stage.) The crowd was still pretty thin, given that it was a weekday and still only 11AM. This meant Eli and Maddux could watch and wander around without much worry of them getting into trouble. We didn't have to worry about that once the music started though. The Revivalists kicked off the show with an AWESOME set. Maddux loved the lead singer because he wore pink socks. Eli wants to play the drums like the drummer (of course). At one point, Rebirth came onto stage with the guys....awesomeness. And then for another song, three burlesque dancers joined the band....Lehr was able to distract Eli with the trombone on the opposite end of the stage. (Safe for now!) The coolest thing was there were little 'holes' in the barricades up front. Just big enough for a smaller person to peek through and see straight to the band. Of course, as long as Eli had two straws to use as drumsticks, he was content.

We saw another band before we opted to start the gorging for the day. Eli went with Lehr and came back with a huge bowl of craw fish. He was SO excited to eat them. Maddie was unsure of eating them, but she loved playing with them. And later, when we met up with William and Russell, Maddux figured out that William was a little unsure of the crazy crustaceans, so she chased him around with one.

Unfortunately, just before the main acts (for us), the storms came through. Big rain drops, lightning and thunder for a few hours. We made it to the Economy Hall tent (traditional dixieland jazz) before getting too drenched, thankfully. It was packed tighter than any even we'd been to in a while in there, but at least we were sheltered from the elements. Eli and I did a few Second Lines and then danced on the dance floor. He was fine in the Second Line until the guy behind us started yelling instead of clapping. His loud voice took Eli by surprise; when I asked Eli later if he liked the Second Line his eyes got wide and he said, "No, Mommy".

Maddux fell asleep in the madness of the rainy tent. She snoozed in the BOB for about twenty minutes before rejoining us. When she woke up, she and Eli traded about forty kisses. So clue what prompted it, but they were very amorous with each other.

When we tried to go to another tent, it was still drizzling. Despite Eli telling me he wouldn't melt, as soon as we left that tent to find another, it started to pour and he started to complain. So we camped out in the music 'store' tent for another twenty minutes before meeting up with the Overlys in the grandstands. The boys had discovered a 'shower' of rain water coming off of a tent and all four kids got themselves sufficiently soaked while we watched one last performer.

Despite the great time we had, as Eli and I walked back to the car, he told me, "Mommy, today was NOT a good day. It was rainy and cold and not fun." I beg to differ.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lunch Bunch

The director at Eli's school mentioned yesterday that Maddux could attend Lunch Bunch with her brother, if she wanted. Since she's still 2, she's not technically allowed, but given how late it is in the year, an exception was made. I had a shoot that I needed to edit, so I took them up on the offer and sent both kids with lunch today. When I told Eli about this yesterday afternoon, he got SO excited. "YAY! My sister can come to Lunch Bunch with me and I can sit next to her." I was very glad to hear him say that!!

Apparently Maddux did great. Eli told me that she was messy when she was eating and "she didn't even wipe her mouth". For some reason they didn't sit together, but they didn't fight either. Eli's teacher was in charge of LB today and told me that Maddux did very well. Baby girl is SO grown up!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Quite a day. First we planted a flower bed in back, and then we spent a few hours out front doing all sorts of fun 'spring' things after naps. First on the list was bubbles. The kids both received a new bottle of bubbles from a birthday party on Sunday; Maddux has been eager to blow them for the last 24 hours, asking constantly. Eli mastered catching a bubble on his wand, while Maddux mastered blowing bubble juice over everything in a 10-inch radius.

Once thoroughly soapy, we moved on to baseball. Maddux went back and forth, blowing bubbles (and catching a few of her own) and playing the outfield. Meanwhile, Eli shot tennis and racket balls at me at a very fast pace. I'm glad contact wasn't made because a bruise would have surely been left behind. We then moved onto catch, and me hitting grounders to Eli.

After a while, friends from across the street came out to play with us. Eli and William played some ball while Maddux and Virginia camped out under a tree. Such a sweet scene....Virginia reading a princess book to Maddux while they both sit calmly under the branches.....and while Maddux snacks on black Play-Doh. Silly Girl!

Green Thumb

A friend gave us some iris bulbs, so we decided to buy some soil, a few more flowers, and plant one of our empty beds in the backyard. I planned on doing this alone with Maddux, but Eli caught wind of it and was very disappointed. So Maddux and I went and bought the supplies while he was at school and planned to plant as soon as we picked him up. Maddie LOVED Pikes Nursery. She pulled the wagon for me and only fell/landed in flowers once. We bought two varieties of celosia and a big bag of soil. Maddie was so excited.

Once we picked up Eli, the two kids were jumping out of their skin during the drive home. You'd think they'd never played in the dirt before! We got the gloves (I was the only one to wear them), the shovels, the pick, and all of the supplies we bought, and headed to the back yard. I chopped up the beds, added the dirt and let them mix it up and even it out with their tools. Then I planted the bulbs while they worked on the other bed. By this time, Mad Dog had lost interest and was on the swings. But Eli got RELALY into it, asking if he could help me plant the celosia. Of course I let him and he was awesome. He was so gentle and careful with the plants. And when he couldn't reach the hole I'd made for the roots, he 'let' me plant it so that he didn't step on the flowers trying to reach it. Eli was SO concerned about the flowers, and kept asking me really neat, really thoughtful questions about them. "If I plant a leaf, will it grow?" "Is it ok if ants crawl on the leaves?" "Is dirt good for plants?" "Are the roots kind of like bones?" That kid is amazing!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


When we were at the beach last year, we tried to sleep Eli and his friend, Cooper, in the same room. It didn't work. The boys were both barely 4, and the concept of sleeping in the same room as anyone was (is?) totally new to Eli, so settling down for slumber was impossible. Fast forward to last night when we tried it again. We set up the tent in Eli's room, Cooper and Eli put their sleeping bags next to each other on the floor, and many books were read. Cooper rooms with his sister, so he's had a lot of practice sleeping in the same room as someone, but Eli still isn't there. Cooper did great, but Eli couldn't seem to get his excitement in check, so we ended up pulling him out around 10:30PM.

That being said, the kids (all four of them) had a great time at dinner, at the park, and then playing the next day. It was fun to throw them all in the bath together too. When they got out (still unclothed), Maddux chased Finley around, trying to give her zerberts on her bare belly. Good times.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More Maddux Literacy

I just left Maddie's room for naptime. Maybe three times in the last week, she's requested "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" as a before nap or bed book. Right now she is in her crib, 'reading' this book. And because of the perfectly rhythmic and repetitive nature of the book, she's got all of the words right. My girl is a book worm. And a wild, crazy social butterfly at the same time. Look out world.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mad Dog

Maddux is SO into books these days. She's always loved to flip through them, but she's been 'reading' them more lately. I took her to the library the other day and she had a blast. We read through books and did puzzles for close to 45 minutes (at which point she pitched a fit because we had to leave). We checked four books out and now she reads them all of the time. Her version of reading these days includes her flipping to a page and reading (in a mommy/teacher voice), "So you have a .....", and she fills in the blanks with whatever she thinks that page includes. For one farm book we got, she fills in the words "cow", "hay", "pig", or "apple". On one page, she was at a loss the first time she read it, so now this is what she says, "So you have some teef." Good stuff.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Cubs In Town

What a week!! Thank goodness it was Spring Break, because I don't think we could have possibly fit in all we did otherwise! It was opening day for the Braves, but in the Eliason house that translated to opening day for the Cubs. We had tickets for all three games this week, with the four of us attending all at different times. Monday found us all in the stands. We were in the shade and the game started at 4PM, so it was perfect. Except for the fact that the Cubs lost.... Eli had a blast, of course. Maddux had a fine time, but she couldn't care less abut the game. She was way more interested in the kids sitting behind us. Or the peanuts. Or D and Uncle Tom. At the end of the game, Lehr took Eli down to the kids' field to hit and run around a few times. From the footage, it appears he had a blast. (Eli has picked up a new 'bat-twirl''ll see him do it in the 2nd at-bat. He almost takes 3 or 4 kids out during this time...good thing it was a foam bat!)

Thursday night Lehr and Eli went with a few friends. The four guys had a great time and Eli had many stories to tell me later. They ate hot dogs and cotton candy, and they participated in every kid activity available. Life is good!

2010 04 Eli Braves Game from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Visit to the Dentist

When I registered Eli for Kindergarten last week, it was brought to my attention that Eli was due for a trip to the tooth doctor. Since this week is Spring Break, there were plenty of openings a the dentist, so we had an appointment first thing this morning. Eli has never been afraid of the dentist, so it wasn't difficult convincing him to go. And the great thing for Maddux is their waiting room: oodles of toys she doesn't have at home. We spent most of our time reading books while Eli got his teeth cleaned. He had a great visit, clean bill of health, and no cavities. When he finishes, he is allowed to pick a sticker, a small toy, and a toothbrush. Eli asked if he could pick out a sticker for his sister first. When he came into the waiting room, he held out a princess sticker for Maddux and told her, "I got this for you, Maddie." Love that boy!!! His favorite part of the visit was picking out a new toothbrush.

Monday, April 05, 2010


Seriously. The definition of sibling relations. Especially when Eli pulls the whole switcheroo on her. What are they disagreeing about? Ab-so-lute-ly NOTHIN!

Kids Swing from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Game Ball

Last night was Eli's last baseball game before Spring Break. I already had a commitment, so Lehr took both kids with him. As luck would have it, Maddie was in one of those potty-every-five-minutes moods. So Lehr did a lot of shuffling back and forth to the restroom. Unfortunately, during one of those trips Eli had the at-bat of his career. He smacked it down the first base line, PAST the first baseman. He may have done that before, but this time his little legs carried him all of the way to third base (something he had never done before). For that, Eli earned himself the game ball. So so so proud. And he was so proud of himself... He was in the bath when I got home and he could not stop grinning as he told me about it.

It broke my heart that I missed this. Lehr texted me at my function when the ball was awarded; my heart dropped. I know Eli probably didn't give it a second thought, but for the first time ever I had a 'missing-mommy-guilt'. Working or not, we all have felt or will feel it at some point. Last night was that night for me....

Friday, April 02, 2010

Kids Spring Performance

Lehr didn't have to go into the office today, so we had a big day planned. The kids had their Spring performance and Easter Egg Hunt at school just before 11AM, and Daddy and Maddux has a breakfast date. The kids all filed into the social hall with their classes, silly smiles on their faces. Maddux ran over to us a few times, but always rejoined her class. First the preschoolers performed their poem (which Eli had already recited for me at home). All of the students knew it very well. Then they sang an alphabet song that took quite a while, but all of the kids stayed focused until the end. After the other classes performed, all of the students (including Maddie's class) stood up together and sang a medley of songs they'd learned in music class. Maddie was quite into it, dancing all along the way. She especially likes the Chicken Dance, when she gets to sway her hips.

2010 04 Kids' School Performance from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Afterwards, we had an Easter Egg Hunt on the playground. Both kids found plenty of eggs, but Maddux had reached her end...she was totally whiny and clingy. We managed to throw down a piece of pizza for everyone before heading home.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Mad Dog's Zoo

A few weeks back, it was just Lehr and the kids one morning. The weather was rainy and cold, so they opted for some indoor fun. If we're upstairs, that usually turns into cuddling or snuggling at some point, due to the proximity to the couch and special blankets. This particular morning, Maddux wanted to include her animals in the snuggling. She got her "Mommy Blanket" (the one I knit for her when she was born), and covered the animals up. One by one. She was careful to not cover any of their heads, and she made sure Daddy stayed quiet while they were 'seeping'.