Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hiking Buddies

Maddux and I have spent a lot of one-on-one time in the last month. Once Eli started school, it was just the two of us, every day for three weeks until she started school. And even though she's started, it's only a few days a week, and only a few hours each time. So the girls are getting to spend time doing fun stuff. One of the main things we do together is hike. We do Kennesaw, Sope Creek, Roswell Mill....pretty much anywhere. Last week we did Roswell Mill and I brought my old camera. Of course Maddux provided much to shoot. She does really well, even when she chooses to hike in her patent leather (but rubber soled) pink shoes. Mad Dog keeps up with me pretty well....even with all of the extra dancing, rock-picking, pocket-filling she does along the way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Soccer Season

More internal debate and struggle. This parenting stuff isn't for the weak! Lehr and I offered Eli the option of soccer or baseball this season. We can't afford to fit both into our schedule; one is enough of a stretch at this point. We knew we'd have to ask him a few times because it may be a hard choice for him. However, he chose soccer each of the three times we asked him leading up to the sign-up dates. As much as we hated for him to interrupt the momentum he's built with baseball, our calendars breathed a huge sigh of relief: soccer has one practice a week and one game a week (each on their own day which never changes).

But then came another one of those fun parenting decisions: play Eli up or down. His birthday falls right at the cutoff point. On one hand he hasn't played soccer on a team since he was three. On the other, he's been in a somewhat serious baseball league for two seasons straight, so the dynamics of team sports wouldn't be new to him. Back and forth..... As we've done many times in the past, we played him up. Luckily it turned out to be the right decision this time!

Tonight was the first practice. Lehr is the assistant coach so he and Eli headed to the field right after dinner. Given the day we had, Maddux and I remained at home to maintain our usual bedtime routine (practice cuts into 'lights out' at our house). Lehr said Eli did really well on the field, listening to the other coach and showing some initiative with the ball. It seems there is only one bigger, 'good' player on the team, and several of the other kids are playing a sport for the first time. Eli appears to fall towards the more experienced end of the team, which is great. (That poor kid will always struggle with being the smallest on the team, so any advantage will do at this point.) He had a great time; two weeks until the first game.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School for Mad Dog

Maddux started her first day of pre-school at St. Catherine's this morning. After much debate, I moved her to a different school this year...long story short is I think it will be a better fit for her. Her previous school was awesome; Eli was there for three years and Maddux, one. However I know that Maddux has a different presence in the classroom, so to hopefully maximize her learning potential, she's at this school now. (Wow....that was a weird sentence to write! Honestly, NO hard feelings at the other school - I really just think this one will be a better fit for her personality!)

Mad Dog was so excited. Ever since Eli started school a few weeks back she has been basically begging me to go to school. In fact, all summer long she's been talking about "Saint Cafrooms" (as she calls it). Her day finally arrived and she woke up with a smile. (Not that she ever doesn't!) We packed her lunch the night before, because her class eats right before the parents arrive. In the morning we picked out a first-day outfit, and then she was off. Even though we did not have to leave for another thirty minutes, she insisted we drive to school as soon as she finished her cereal. (I barely managed to get a few first day pictures!) That meant that we waited in the parking lot for about twenty minutes before I could walk her to her class. She didn't mind that as much as waiting at home; at least in the parking lot she could see the school and playground.

When I walked her to her class she barely squeezed me back when I hugged her because she was in such a rush to get to the toys and kids. And when I picked her up, she did not want to leave because she was far too busy drawing on the Magna-Doodle! I guess that's a sign she likes it.....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Big Old Birthday Bash

This summer has obviously been a challenging one for us, especially when it came time for celebrations that usually require a house, or at least a kitchen with an oven. But I have to say that the kids' birthday parties were at least as good as they usually are, and totally low-key, which is all we know how to do!

Eli's party threatened to be a scratch due to the weather, but thankfully the sun came out around lunchtime and kept all of the rain clouds away. We gathered around the pool at 4PM and the kids swam their hearts out. When they weren't showing off their best moves on the diving board, that is. We still haven't done the formal-invite, kids-choice-of-guests thing for the birthdays yet, but our group of friends contains several kids, so it works out just fine. All in all, there were five other kids (making seven total), and more adults than that. Pizza arrived just as the lifeguard blew the whistle for adult swim and the kids swarmed. Of course they only finished about 1/2 a piece and three grapes each before the whistle blew again and they were back in. It was almost as though Eli forgot about the 'main event'.

Thirty minutes later I pulled the specialty made, variety selection of cupcakes out and once again kids were everywhere. I think we had seven choices: s'mores, peanut butter cup, mint chocolate, chocolate chip cookie, key lime, red velvet, Guiness, cookies n cream, blueberry and strawberry. Eli chose S'mores almost immediately, as I assumed he would. Maddux followed suit and they both scarfed them down in record time. Of course Maddux ended up wearing most of hers. Another thirty minutes or so of swimming later and the thunder started, so we made our way home to show the house progress to a few friends. It started to pour down while we were in the house, so I guess it's good that we left the pool when we did.

Again, I have felt a bit bad for how low-key the parties were this year, but the kids have had a blast, and looking back through the pictures makes me realize that Eli didn't miss out on anything; he was just happy to spend the day with some really great friends.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

#5 Turns The Big Oh-Five

Five years. Amazing. I have no clue how we got here already, but before my eyes you have raced through your days as an infant, a crawler, a toddler, and now you are a full-fledged 'kid' in Kindergarten. Wow.

There are so many changes that have taken place with you in the last year, Eli. The main one for me is your conversability. (Is that a word?) You carry on these cool conversations now, with thought, depth, and banter. You didn't do that last year this time. It was fun to talk to you, and you added to the conversation, but you have taken it to a whole new level now. It is amazing to your dad and I to be talking during couch time for twenty minutes only to have you ask us a question about the first thing we said once we finish. Crazy.

Another one is your hair. We shaved you down to a mohawk when you were just barely two years old. Since then, we've grown your hair out with only minimal trims here and there, which gave you the infamous 'drummer hair' that everyone knew you by. Then summer hit and you begged us to shave your head like Daddy's. We tried to persuade you, tried to convince you that Daddy wasn't that cool, but you pleaded, so the night before we moved out of the house for the summer, we shaved it all off. Now I can't imagine you any other way. Your buzzed hair makes you look so grown up, so like Daddy....and I love it.

And all of the new 'big kid' things that come with being a rising Kindergartner... It's been a busy summer! You got to attend a week-long sports camp, which you LOVED. Then you were able to participate in our church's VBX camp...and not in the PreK program like you did last year with an abbreviated (while still really cool) program, but the REAL program with all other elementary kids. WOW! You fit right in, and of course you loved the worship part the best. I was so proud at how you stood up, did all of the hand motions, and sung (even though it was quietly) every song even though most of the other kindergartners in your group sat down and covered their ears.

Baseball: where do I begin? Just after your fourth birthday you started playing on a real team. With real baseballs and real bats. And real pitching. I knew you'd love it, but I had no idea you'd do as well as you did. You may not have been the fastest on the team, or the best catcher or hitter, but you were the most enthusiastic. And you tried so hard and stayed so focused. Your dad and I were so proud of you for playing with kids two years older than you and not even flinching. You amaze us!

I love love love how you try to wake me up: the same way I wake you. On the weekends when you often find your way to my side of the bed after you get up and use the bathroom, even though you wake me up with your steps down the hall, I usually keep my eyes shut as you enter the room. I can almost always feel you standing next to me, looking to see if I'm awake. And then, just as gently as I try to rouse you, you rub my arm, my back, my face, trying to get me to wake up and play with you. Or when we crash on the couch after reading bedtime books and I close my eyes for a few moments out of exhaustion, you reach your little fingernails under my shirt and try to lightly scratch my back, because that is what you ask me to do for you when you're sleepy.

And you are becoming so fun to have along for simple errands. Whenever your dad or I need to run to Home Depot, or to the grocery store, your presence is no longer a responsibility, but more a companionship. You have had so much fun in the last year, accompanying your dad to several band rehearsals, pick-ups and performances. All without another chaperon; you handle yourself very well when put in the position to sit, observe, and obey.

Now you are having some 'over socialization' issues at school this week. Your teacher had to call me yesterday morning regarding your 'silly' behavior in class. I know that this is your personality, but I also know that you can channel that energy and focus on the lesson. I'm confident this is your way of testing the waters in your new environment and it will pass. You usually respond to a united front presented by all parties involved, so that's what we're doing. And as much as I dreaded that call, I will admit that I'm overjoyed by the 'problems' we have with you at school. 99% of the time they trace back to your over-eagerness and happy disposition.

So today, Eli, enjoy every second of your celebration. I hope you love the cool, not-so-cheap cupcakes I had to buy because I don't have an oven to make you a cake. I hope you love the few gifts your dad and I (and Mad Dog) chose for you. And I hope you are happy that you are celebrating your special day with us, because we are over-the-moon to be celebrating you.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Full Friday

We started off this crazy day by taking a trip to Maddux's new school. She will start going a few days a week beginning on Monday morning. She was very excited to go see her new classroom and meet her new teacher. When we walked in we realized that her room is the furthest from the entrance, which makes things a little difficult for me because I have to drop her off at her classroom door each morning (instead of the carpool line). I can imagine that hallway will be very congested for a few weeks!

Maddux's teacher's name is Ms. Christy, and she has about 11 kids in her class. The large majority is girls. I'll be curious to see how that plays out for Mad Dog; she could adopt a less 'loud' personality now, or a more drama-filled one, depending on the disposition of the other girls. We'll see. One thing I did notice about all of them: bows, bows and more bows!

Once we finished there, we raced over to Eli's school to meet Lehr. Since it is the day before Eli's birthday, we brought a special treat to his class during lunch time. We got there in enough time to see his class walking down the hallway to the lunchroom; he was so surprised to see us! He entered and went right to his table, as he knew to do. Of course his new little buddy went and sat right next to him, so we got to meet the infamous Drew. Eli gabbed and gabbed to Daddy, who sat next to him, while he shared some of his lunch with Maddux. Then came time for us to pass out the ice cream cups. Eli helped Lehr pass them out to everyone in his class, giving them a choice between chocolate and strawberry. Eli loved having us at school and we will definitely pop in for another surprise visit at lunch soon.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Brainy Builders

Last week we signed Eli up for an after school activity called Brainy Builders. It's a cool 'playing with a purpose' group that meets once a week to build with legos and similar manipulatives. There is always a 'task' that usually involves fun and creativity.

Yesterday was Eli's first meeting and he loved it. Each child was given the instruction to build a bird, on their own. The teacher opened the class by discussing a "base" through balance, width, and height. She used the example of her feet as a base for her body, and moved them around to show how they affected her ability to stand up or fall down.

Eli got to name his bird too (I believe it was "Squaky"), which is always a challenge. Both kids have been less than creative in the name department to date. Maddux usually names her animals 'pig', or 'mouse', no matter how much coaxing or example-giving I do.

The teacher sent a few pictures (low-res) for us to enjoy; she's making my blogging-job easy :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Maddie, At Her Best

The past two weeks have been Maddie, Maddux, Mad Dog, all of the time. Of course I've forgotten most of the crazy things she's said and done, but a few have stuck around in my brain long enough to be recorded:
  • "Schlums" Maddux calls her thumb a "schlum". She still sucks it when tired, so the word comes up often enough. Specifically when she's got nail polish on. I tell her that it will come off if she sucks her thumb, and also that I won't paint her fingernails if she sucks her thumb. She often sucks for a moment (if there is paint on) and then pull her thumb out, look at it and say, "Da paint is still on my schlum!"
  • "Abocado" Self explanatory. I love how she says this. And I've learned with both kids that if I correct them, they will learn the right way to say it and that makes me sad because I no longer get to hear their cute way of saying certain words. So for now, I don't correct Maddie anytime she says 'abocado'.
  • "Struttin" If you've seen Mad Dog walk, you know she has a strut. Sometimes it's silly, sometimes it's a swagger, but it's always 'loud' and visual. The other day we were walking out of the Y and Maddie was doing her usual, swinging her shoulders as she walked. This time she'd worked her hands into her pockets as well, making it all that much 'more'. She was so into her walking that a woman actually commented on her and her personality. No new news here!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Capital "A", Audacious

Maddux is the kid I always wished I was. She walks into a social situation with no fear and not only makes friends, but leads those new friends. So far this seems to be a good thing, as I've not seen her in a 'bossy' role with friends-for-a-day as of yet. Take today, for example. She and I were at a small park playing. Two other children approached, around her age, so I backed off to allow mingling. Maddux immediately went up to them and (I'm pretty sure these were her exact words) said, "Hey you, y'wanna play?" For the next twenty minutes the three of them played without any arguments or out-of-control behavior. It was beautiful. And my daughter was the one 'leading' the play most of the time, but she'd toned her voice and actions down a few notches to meet their calm dispositions. Amazing. I think that's why Mad Dog does so well socially: she knows when and how to alter her presence to fit with the situation.

Just a few hours later we went to her first ballet lesson. The studio I chose is a very 'strict' one with a specific dress code and 'manner' code. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sweating this one. Images of Maddux being (politely) asked to leave due to her volume and silliness crossed my mind. But when I put her hair in that little bun and we walked into the waiting room, she instantly fell into a calmer, shyer Maddux. Maybe not shy, but just not so audacious. (And I LOVE how audacious she normally is; don't get me wrong!!) She had a great class and walked out of the room as calmly as she walked in. Amazing. Because you know two minutes out of the studio she was singing silly songs and strutting her crazy strut as she usually does.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Here's an update to explain why blogging, emails, phone calls, thank yous, home-cooked meals, birthday cards, and other common courtesies have gone by the wayside for the last three months:

2010 08 House Update from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

(Sidenote: you will see our names written on the framing. I wrote all but Eli's because he wrote his own. The writing looks the exact same. Yup - that means my handwriting is equal to a 4-year old's. Awesome.)

**Design by Steve Kemp, Kemp Hall Studio. Frank Sullivan, General Contractor.**

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Obviously this home renovation is cramping my blogging style - no time anymore! And when I do have time, I always seem to forget what it was I wanted to blog about. Thank goodness I can look back through twitter at some of the Maddie-isms to recap on those days!
  • Maddux and I were checking out a bakery today for Eli's birthday. I just realized that I won't be able to make him a cake this year (no oven or kitchen), so cupcakes for the pool are on the menu. I'd told Mad Dog that we were *just looking*, but that we'd eat the cupcakes in a few weeks when it was Eli's big day. As I was trying to get her out of the car in the parking lot, she was messing around in the backseat, playing with Eli's toy compass and lolly-gagging. She said, "I just looking at what time it is........ Oh look!!!! It's time to get cupcakes!" And with that she put the toy down and came right to me. Goofball to the max!
  • Maddux knows that when we go to the gym, I often take a class in the room right next to her playroom. When we leave, she always asks, "Is that where your school was?", and she usually asks if I was doing what the people in there at that moment are doing. This week they had a yoga class in there as we left. After I told her what kind of class it was, she said, "I wanna go to the yogurt class!" Even after I corrected her twice, she still insisted on calling it that. Of course.
  • Eli has been slowly but surely finding his inner artist over the last few months. One day at the gym he colored a pre-drawn sheet perfectly in the lines, and even insisted on bringing it home to finish it. (This is the same kid who usually scribbles a little near the lines and says, "DONE!" Not only have I found drawings in Eli's backpack each day, but he has a very descriptive answer for me when I ask what they are. And he usually puts them in his room so he can work on them more later.
  • My new Kindergartner is a sleeeeeeepy kid. Eli has always been the child that needs 12-hours at night, desperately. Now that he's in school all day (not to mention getting up at 6:20 each morning), he has gone back to napping more days than not. A few days ago he napped for 45-minutes, and then when I woke him to come to my room and hang out while I got ready for evening plans, he fell back asleep (amidst me getting ready, Maddux playing right next to him, and massive construction noises including a nail gun, a generator, and an electric saw) for another full hour. The good news is, he usually knows when he needs that sleep. After a quick debriefing after school and a one-on-one book, Eli has about 45 minutes of room time where he can choose to read, color, play or snooze. When he snoozes, he even takes it upon himself to close the blinds. I love that little man!!!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Manis & Pedis

So I've struggled the last two days to fill our mornings with fun, time-passing activities. We are sequestered to our bedrooms given the heat and the renovations, so out-of-house activities are preferred. For some reason I'm having a hard time coming up with enough of them to last me until Eli comes home. I blame the heat. If it weren't 150% humidity, Maddux and I would be park-ing it a lot, or at least going for hikes and/or walks, but it's ri-don-kerous out there!!

This morning I asked a friend if she and her daughter wanted to get together for a bit...a good play date ought to help! She suggested letting the girls get their nails done and I thought it was a great idea. We went to a shop nearby that gave us mommy pedicures and mini manis and mini pedis all for $35/family. Good stuff!! Maddux picked out pink and purple...I think the pink is on her toes and the purple-ish is on her fingers. Then the nail tech painted a few small flowers on some nails, but most of them look a little 'finger paint' like now, due to Maddux not letting them totally dry. That being said, she did REALLY well. Both Maddux and Anni sat very still while the women put lotion on their toes, scuffed the bottoms of their feet (even though I know it tickled) and painted their little nails. They even cut Maddux's fingernails, which was great because they were getting too long anyway.

Great 'girl' date for us, and Maddux had a blast. Life is good.

Rainy Days

Thursday, August 05, 2010

First Day

So much emotion. Wasn't quite prepared for how much, given that I've been trying to be in denial as much as possible. That was quite easy to do since we've had so much to distract us this summer, and especially this week, but this morning I could pretend no longer. We got Eli's backpack all loaded up last night. I made him a lunch in his new lunch box. And Eli laid out his first day outfit (picked totally by him). He was fine until it came time to tuck him in, and then he got a little nervous. He doesn't really voice it that way, but Eli has a certain look that is a dead giveaway for Lehr and I. Even as he told Lehr he was excited, we saw the nervous look.

This morning we woke up both kids right around 6:20AM. Waaaay early for them. Given the early time, Eli was a little on edge. His nervousness and apprehension comes out in the form of details. When he is scared, he needs everything to be 'as it should', and if it's not, then he gets upset. This morning he started to get teary and worked up because we were waking Maddux up and she's not supposed to get up with him before school; she's supposed to sleep in. We reminded him that this was a very very special day which was why she was getting up; she wanted to walk to the bus stop with him to wish him luck. He eventually calmed down, but it could have been ugly. (I've found that just leaving him to settle on his own works much better than reasoning with him when he gets this way. He will come around really quickly if I state the facts and then leave the room.)

We all went down to the garage to have a quick send-off breakfast for Eli. (A special muffin and berries.) I then brought Eli over by the washer and got down on his level. We talked about the "special kiss" we do sometimes, where I kiss inside his palm so he has it if he needs it during the day. I also made a small envelope with a heart on the front. I told him I'd put another kiss inside there. I then put the envelope in his pocket so it would be there whenever he needed it during the day. He grinned ear to ear, making my heart melt.

When we were done, we loaded Eli's backpack on him (so full of school supplies that he didn't have room for his lunch box!), put on his first-day badge, and left the house. We walked up the hill to the bus stop to wait for the big yellow vehicle. I am SO glad that Eli got to take a test drive on the bus with Lehr yesterday morning. He already knew the driver and the other kids on the bus already, which made him boarding it easy. He was all smiles and excitement most of the time, but a few moments while we were waiting found him with his 'nervous face'. But when that bus pulled up, he was Mr. Brave and crossed the street with a neighbor. On the bus he went without so much as looking back and away they went. Gulp. I LOVE that he wasn't clingy or overly nervous, but it was still with mixed emotions that I watched him walk away.

After an eternity of watching the clock, the magic time finally rolled around and Mad Dog and I walked up the hill to wait for the bus. When it arrived Eli was the first one off of it and crossing the street. Same big smile, same twinkle in his eye. He had a great day and he was very excited about it. Eli said he played some fun games (a funny sing-song voice: "Whaaaaat's Your Naaaame?"), ate lunch with a new friend, he claims he fell asleep during 'quiet time', and he played basketball in PE. Eli also told me that he reached for his 'kiss envelope' a few times during the day, but he wasn't really sad. I'm so proud of my big Kindergartner!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Ugh. Stomach turning. Thoughts racing. Sleep escaping. And it's not even the first day of school yet.

This week has been full of back-to-school activities. I took Eli to get some new clothes at Old Navy and Target. He was so excited to pick out clothes off of the rack. (Normally Mommy just shops the sales on and a brown box arrives with new clothes for the kids which they try on at home. Eli was totally blown away by walking into a store and trying on clothes in a fitting room only to take them home. What a concept!) We picked a few pairs of shorts and a few shirts; shoes arrived via mail a few weeks ago. (Old habits are hard to break!) Then we picked out a back pack (McQueen) and lunch box (IronMan). Today we will go get a few last minute things and tomorrow Eli will get on that big yellow bus and stay away for almost eight full hours. Ouch.

As I type this, Eli and Lehr are on that bus. They boarded at 7AM this morning for a practice run which will loop all the stops, go to the school and then come back to drop them off. And I'm already getting separation anxiety! (Speaking of which, Lehr just texted me a grainy picture of Eli sitting on the bus with our neighbor, chatting it up...he's fine, of course.) Eli has been doing a type of school for a few years now, but the time away from home each day was so short, especially when you factored in my driving him to and picking him up from the school. Tomorrow starts a whole new ball game and I'm not sure if I'm ready.

We went to Meet-N-Greet yesterday so that Eli could meet his teacher and see his classroom. He was very excited to see his name on his desk and check out the classroom (especially the computers). Then last night, Mommy got to go and meet with the teacher to learn about what their day will look like, what the procedures are, etc. I got choked up at least twice. My baby, my first born, my little man is growing up SO fast and I can barely stand it. I ask Eli daily to stop growing and he usually promises me he will. If only he could keep that promise.....