Friday, July 30, 2010

This Little Light Of Mine...

I hear that song in my head whenever Maddux 'performs'. That's pretty much every day, but I still hear it :)

After lunch today, Maddux pulled out these cards from VBX. She got them over a week ago and we've not seen her use them at all yet. We also have not practiced this verse since before our trip. Mad Dog pulls them out, shows me her 'song' and doesn't miss a beat. Amazing.

video

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beach Days

It's been too long. House stuff, schedules and oil spills have kept us away from our favorite beach spot for almost a year. This weekend we took a quick road trip back to our hometown in Central Florida. Eli hadn't been there since he was 1 1/2 and Maddux had never made a visit, so we figured it was time.

The first day found us at an old favorite right after breakfast: Picnic Tables beach in the Cocoa Beach area. (Most of the beaches are nicknamed goofy things like "2nd Light" or "Picnic Tables".) Mom-Mom and Nana joined us and we made quite a day out of it. Big big sun kept us covering the kids in sunblock and using a few umbrellas down by the water's edge. Maddux had a blast picking up shells, running to the water (and then back) and building castles. Eli, however, was much more interested in the waves. Mom-Mom brought a boogie board for him to use, and use it, he did.

Eli's relationship with the waves this weekend started at the sandy edge. He would put the board on the ground and stand on it, crouching down like I showed him when the waves came in. This entertained him for most of the day as the varying degree of difficulty was a constant challenge. Somewhere near the end, Eli allowed me to take him a little further out and push him in, true boogie boarding style. He had a blast. Eli rode four or five in without stopping...smiling the whole time and telling me, "That's really fun!!"

We left the beach and the kids fell asleep IMMEDIATELY (it was 4pm, after all). We let them snooze for a half hour or so before stopping at Nana's to shower for dinner. We met some friends at a beach-side spot and both kids (again) had a good time playing in the sand.

The second day was full of drums and sand. We stopped at Grandpa Ed's studio first so the kids could see their generous gift (a small-sized drum set) and play a few tunes. We then went to the beach down by the Port. We got to see two cruise ships leave while we were there, creating a wall of boat. The kids weren't too impressed, even though I told them the boats were each bigger than our church. The kids continued with their beach madness, running in the water, playing in the sand, and having a blast. Eli stepped it up and got on a surfboard with Daddy a few times. He rode it in, boogie board style, as many times as Lehr and/or Russell would push him in. He even stood up on it a few times, while Daddy held it in the water. And don't count Mad Dog out. She rode the waves a few times as well. The problem was, wipe outs shook her up more than Eli, so she didn't last as long.

Our last day was less sun. We decided to stay away from the beach until dinner time, saving the fun for low-sun hours. We did take a quick trip to Nana's pool after breakfast to visit her friends. The kids had a great time, showing off their swimming and jumping skills. Maddux managed to fall on the hard poolside once, but no major injuries to report. After short naps, we drove down to an old high school hangout: 5th Avenue. We met Mom-Mom for pizza at one of our favorite spots followed by a quick walk through Longboard House. After the kids ate pizza they entertained us by dancing around like goofballs. They're pretty good at that. At the surf shop I got Eli his first pair of 'real' baggies and a few shirts. Maddux ran around ('hands 'hind my back') shopping for herself.

Going down there after the sun went down was a GREAT idea. We were able to let the kids play as long as they wanted without fear of sunburn - brilliant! Eli was in and out of the waves; this beach had a much quicker drop off, but he still had a good time. And Maddux made friends, as she often does, with a nearby set of siblings playing in the sand.

Lehr and I were most impressed on this trip by the kids' comfort level around the water. While we've seen a few waves in Watercolor, this trip to the beach showed them the power of the water more than ever. The tide pulled Maddux at her feet several times, knocking her over and attempting to drag her out to deeper waters. Eli took so many face-fulls of wave over three days that it's amazing he's not water-logged. Yet neither stopped going to the ocean seeking fun. Eli only 'complained' twice, and both times were real doozies. Eli was even comfortable enough to 'swim' around the second day, doing his version of flips and dive-unders in waist to shoulder depth water. So so cool to see the confidence both of them has.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

VBX Week

I already blogged so much about it, but tonight was amazing as well. I had to take team photos most of the night, so I didn't get to spend as much time with Maddux, but she had a blast again. I posted a picture last night, but didn't talk too much about her favorite part of the evening: the parachute. She LOVED it. Not only did Maddie have a blast shaking it, but running under it, making it into a 'tent' and doing the wave all fell under her 'favorite' category for the night.

So Eli's group got to do a ropes course, balance beam, crafts and a scooter-ish race. He LOVED that part. Each child sat on a small skateboard square and pushed with their feet backwards to compete. Eli totally won....no clue where that coordination came from, but he was totally in control. His group (Nile) also got to visit the S'mores station. Although they didn't get to hang out in the tent like many other groups, they were able to enjoy a camp treat, which Eli loved.

It was really neat to see Eli's older friends seek his attention. A few weeks back we went to one of Lehr's gigs and Eli was a magnet to an older boy we know. Well tonight that fine young man was calling out Eli's name, making sure he got fitted for a helmet, etc. It was really, really cool to see, as this boy is at an age when most kids couldn't be bothered by a 4-year old.

To end the night, Mad Dog added to her temporary tattoo collection. So far we have a ladybug, a killer whale, and a trio of hearts. All on one arm. I think she's aiming for a sleeve.

As always, the rally was great. Eli told me later that doing the hand motions is his favorite thing about VBX. And both kids know the songs inside and out; they sang them all day yesterday.

Like An Otter

Eli loves to swim. He's had great success with it this year, aided by one set of lessons during the cold months and a 3-week summer session with the same instructor he had last year. Although his form still leaves much to be desired, he is really into it, and he's come amazingly far. Mostly just by being around so many kids that are swimming. The stuff he picked up happened outside of lessons, but the lessons definitely strengthened his skill set. The one area he never really succeeded in was the back float. Every time Eli's been in a class, for two years now, he lies on his back, but then immediately starts to kick his feet or try to stand up. It's the whole falling feeling, I guess.

Fast forward to this morning when I took the kids to the pool. I suggested that Eli practice his front float, flip to his back. (He really got good at that this summer, even though he barely flipped to his back before he'd stand up.) Eli obliged and shocked me. He not only kept his head in my hand for more than a second, he didn't move a muscle and totally floated on his own. Yeah.....but I had my hand there, right? We did it again without any help from me and the same thing. Like an empty sponge he just hung out on top of the water for a LONG time. I made him do it again and again.....I was so excited! I have no clue what brought this on since we haven't been to the pool in about a week, but I'm loving his new confidence in this area!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ver-Klempt!

That's the only word I can come up with to describe how I have felt several times this week.....

I started this blog about a month ago when we had a big meeting to discuss the upcoming VBX at our church. Lehr and I have volunteered at this for the last three years, but until now, the kids have 'just' been in childcare (or a Sunday school-type class) during the event. But THIS year, Eli is a rising Kindergartner, so he gets to participate in the real deal. Gulp. Not sure I'm ready for all of these big things! It was hard to sit through the meeting. When they presented the material to be covered, the interactive games to be played, and the songs to be sung, I was totally choked up. First of all, the team that worked so hard to put this program together (all from our church), did an amazing job. Amazing. Secondly, Eli would be soaking all of it in. He is that spongy type of kid that picks up on random billboards on the highway, and whispered words in songs, and other 'nothing' things that go over most people's heads. So when I saw how cool the study and presentation was, I knew that Eli would take every bit of it home with him. Oh so cool.

Now we find ourselves halfway through the week of VBX and it has lived up to every bit of expectation I had. The kids are getting such a great experience, and Eli is loving every minute of it. He is in a small group with about seven other small kids, two of which he knows really well. They meet up with all of the other VBX-ers (of all ages) in the auditorium for a 'rally' after dinner each night. This includes leader-games, music, skits, and lots of loud cheering. This is my biggest tear-up time. Seeing that huge room of excitement and life, and seeing my little man, my baby, in there.....no words do it justice. If you know Eli you know that he loves his music, but it is rare to see him let loose at church, or in other crowded, "big" arenas. Even though he knows the songs by heart, when Lehr plays on stage, Eli usually stands close to me and just watches instead of air drumming or dancing. But when they started playing the songs this week, the older kids had arm and hand movements that corresponded. Eli watched intently and started mimicking them right away. Wide-eyed, my little man put his hands up when they did, he spun around when they did, and he raised a fist and shouted "HEY! HEY!!" during one of the liveliest tunes. And he did all of it without any of his neighboring friends joining him. (Another HUGE plus for me since we've noticed a 'follower' trend with Eli in the past.)

The outdoor games allows for much fun for Eli. Even more so because they are all new to him. Sac races, tug-o-war, large puzzles, and team-board racing are opening his eyes to a whole new 'sport' that he doesn't even know is coming his way in the way of PE soon. So so cool.

And don't count Mad Dog out. She is in the pre-school room the whole time, but they are doing SUCH a great program as well. They have a lesson, they go to the rally, they play games. And she knows the verse and hand-motions even better than Eli. That girl is a sharp one as well, and I'm so glad she is getting to experience such creative and caring minds, even when she's *only* in childcare for such an event.

I can't possibly include all of the shots I've taken of the kids this week, but here is the link to the main library I created (which includes plenty of the kids).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Good, Good Times

Eli and Maddux are getting along well these days. REALLY well. So much so that the fights are now the exception rather than the rule. I know, as a sibling myself, that there is an ebb and flow, and 'this too shall pass', but I'll take it while it's here!

Last week after swim lessons one day, both kids went upstairs to change. Maddie can't do that herself, but Eli went with her so I started dinner and waited for her to come downstairs in a random state of dress and ask for help. A few minutes later they both came down and Maddux had on a flowered blueish shirt, a differently patterned pink and orange skirt, and a greenish knit hat I made her. Eli helped her pick the clothes and get dressed. (She cannot completely put shirts on by herself yet.) A few minutes later Eli told me, "I picked the hat...doesn't she look cute?" Then she sat down to put on shoes, exposing her underwear. Eli said, "Oops..guess I forgot to get her bloomers!!" Man, oh man. Life is good.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Friday, July 09, 2010

WORD

Six months ago (or so), Lehr and I were reminded of the great SNL skit with Cameo (Tracy Morgan) doing a 'WORD' spot in a courtroom. Maddux caught on a little, but dropped it right away. Fast forward to last week when Uncle D taught it to her again. Of course this time it stuck. She has given me a "WORD!" several times this week:
  • As I helped Maddux out of the car, I said, "I love you". She crossed her arms over her chest and said, "WORD!" in response.
  • She pulled on a new shirt on her birthday. I told her it looked nice. She crossed her arms over her chest, looked at me and said, "Word".
  • We get ice cream as a treat one night. She throws away trash and plays around the trash can. I tell her it's time to go and she leans to the side with an arm-cross, snarls her lip and says, "Word".
Next I expect her to throw in "..to your mutha..."

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Best Friends

Not a day passes where I don't remind Eli and Maddux that they are each other's best friend. Sometimes it comes up because Maddux has been less than kind to Eli and after her time out I remind her that he is her best friend. Or Eli will refuse to share with her and I remind him that Maddie is his best friend and she'll always be there for him. On a REALLY good day, they remind me through their words (and actions, God willing).

Today was one of those days. We came home from the pool and I started dinner. Eli is obsessive about changing his clothes at least once a day, and after the pool is the perfect opportunity. He ran upstairs and Mad Dog followed right behind. A few minutes later I heard, "E-I!! Are you my bess friend?" My ears perked up to hear his answer which was, thankfully, "Yeah". Maddux then said, "Oh, gooood."

Man oh man....life is good!

Computer Time

Eli has really started to get interested in computers. We haven't done anything in the way of games on computers yet with the kids. They see me working on one every day, and we watch home movies or youtube clips on there from time to time, but that's the extent of their interaction. Recently I came across a small 'play' laptop that my nephew used 8 or so years ago. I passed it on to the kids and Eli is really into it. The games are not so easy to understand, and the concepts jump too abruptly from easy to difficult, but he loves to 'type' on it anyway. Over the weekend Eli became a bit obsessed with 'working' alongside of D. The two would sit on the couch next to each other and work away. Good times.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Bwaids

I've done Maddux's hair in ponytails for a while now, but only recently has it grown long enough to do braids. I did them for her one day and she loved it. Now she asks for them 'up' (like Pippy Longstocking) and 'down'. On her birthday I even did 2 french braids, though her hair is so fine, they didn't last long. My favorite part is that she calls them 'bwaids', and she walks around asking people, "Did you see my hair in bwaids?"

Monday, July 05, 2010

Prepending

That is Maddux's newest 'thing'. She loves to play pretend with anything or nothing, she loves to talk to imaginary people, and she loves to pull you into her world. Now that she has a tea set, her imagination is taking even more shape. She serves random foods and drinks to us all day long. My favorite so far is crackers with peanut butter and watermelon tea. Oh, and she tells us "I'm just prepending" all of the time.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Independence Day

Always such a busy weekend, with Mad Dog's birthday and Independence day back-to-back, but always a fun one too. The morning starts early with me leaving before the sun rises to catch MARTA for the race. Lehr gets the kids up shortly after that so they can eat and head down to watch the race. I'd never have thought that two young kids would enjoy watching countless runners go past them, but Lehr assures me they sit in a trance and just stare. They got there before the first runners came by, so Eli and Maddux got to see a few wheelchair racers and the police line, all from a front-row seat. My favorite part of the race is when I get to see them and come over to say 'hi', of course. Nothing more motivating than that!

After the race, we went to breakfast with D before heading to Krog Tunnel for some fun pictures. I didn't have the correct lens for the light, but it was still worthwhile. Even after all of that excitement, we still gt home by 11AM. Some birthday gift play time and lunch followed before we all took big big naps. Given how early everyone got up and the fact that we still had fireworks ahead of us, sleep was in order.

I got up around 4PM and was informed by D that the firework display we planned on seeing had actually taken place the night before. Luckily we were able to find one that was near our house, not too crowded, but equally as impressive as the downtown shows. A friend joined us on the golf course to watch and we all had a blast playing with the kids. We parked our towels right near a hill. Maddux and Eli alternated running down and rolling down the hill for a good hour with other kids. Then it got a little dark, so the sparklers and glo-bracelets came out. Finally the 'real' show. Even though it was loud, both kids loved it. No melt downs. No nightmares. Lots of fun.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Mad Dog's Birthday

What a fun day. What a fun weekend!! Maddux woke up all kinds of excited on Saturday. It was HER day and she knew it! Regardless of what we said all day long, her response was, "But it's my birf-day!" We ate a quick breakfast and ran an errand before diving into her gifts. She got a few of her favorite books from Eli, some great clothes from Grandmas and Great-Grandmas, wooden, magnetic dress-up dolls from Grandma Caffee, and a tea set and Tinkerbell dress-up outfit from Lehr and I. She loved everything. She wore some clothes and the Tinkerbell dress, read the books, and served tea to the wooden dolls. Good stuff.

Since we're currently nomadic, we had to improvise a bit for Maddux's party. We're still in the mode of 'low-key' birthday parties; we have any in-town family and a just a few close family friends join us for the fun. Maddux was very excited to have her party at the pool this year. Thank goodness the weather cooperated!! After a quick nap, we loaded up the car with lots of food, pool toys and sunscreen and headed back 'down south' to our neighborhood pool. Friends and family arrived shortly after and we were all in the pool the rest of the day. Lots and lots of jumping off of the diving board: Daddy and D got in on the action as well. Maddux made her rounds around the pool, checking in with neighborhood friends she hadn't seen in a few days, and Eli did his best to splash as much water out of the pool with his cannon balls as possible. We ate dinner and had cupcakes immediately afterwards. Maddie had asked for a pink flower cake (similar to last year). This was music to my ears as it was an easy one (made with cupcakes), and because transporting a 'real' cake would have been difficult. (That being said, the day before her birthday, Mad Dog told me, "I think I want a beautiful butterfly cake instead." Sorry...too late!!)

More socializing and pool-fun before Maddux opened her gifts. She got some play-dough, more books, glow-in-the-dark bracelets and a puzzle. Seriously every possible thing she could have wished for. As the center of attention all day, Maddux enjoyed the limelight and love. Life is good.

Three Whole Years

Total disbelief and denial. How in the world has it been three years already? And yet I can barely remember our family without you, Maddux.

You challenge me everyday. And I'm not just talking about the area of discipline. I struggle to stay one step ahead of you in everything, including wit. No matter what the situation, you turn it silly, and often in a very mature or thoughtful way. (Not just silly jokes for kids.) And you don't seem to know how to do anything other than smile. In the last year you were very sick a few times and the dead giveaway was that we couldn't get you to smile. It was totally out of character for you.And you're loud. Mostly in personality. It is impossible for people to ignore you because you engage everyone you meet. You make eye contact, 'lift' their eyes with your eyes, and smile and giggle until they join you in whatever inside joke you are sharing. You make friends everywhere you go, with everyone you meet. It doesn't matter if they are an 82-year-old grandmother or a 12-year-old boy, you charm them.

Mad Dog, you live up to your nickname each and every day. If you're not singing at the top of your lungs, you're dancing around to a song in your head. And if you're not crawling on the ground like a dog or a bear, you're hopping up and down. You spend a lot of time living by your rules, which I love. However, since I'm the mom, I have to squash that independance at times and you end up in a lot (a LOT) of time outs. You are constantly performing song, or dance, or a comedy act, or all three. I have no doubt you'll be in show business someday, perhaps as an SNL actor, a la Molly Shannon.

You and your brother are at a fun, fun stage right now. You argue about ridiculous things like who is looking at who(m?), but you also have each other's back in many ways. You are always concerned about Eli and his happiness, and he often wants you as his playmate above others. You guys have funny little words that trigger you, and when you play together you play sooo well together.
I know the last month has been hard, and I know my limited patience is rarely used on you, but please know that I love you with every piece of me. You brighten my day every day, and my life would be so boring without you, Mad Dog! Happy Birthday!!
2007:
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