Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beach Trip

Sorry it's taken me so long to post...we came home to busy schedules and for the first time ever I didn't blog a little bit in my email drafts while we were at the beach, so this is all from scratch and from memory.

We drove down to the beach with a FULL car. Some friends drove with us, maxing us out at four adults and three kids. With luggage (very limited luggage), we barely fit. A few DVDs and a stop at Cracker Barrel later, we were at the beach. Just in time for a quick trip to the shore and pool before dinner. Eli and Maddux had a blast, playing with our friend, Bryce, who came with us for a few days. The three of them ran in the waves, jumping and laughing the whole time. The boys took turns on Eli's boogie board, catching waves here and there.

The next day the kids woke up before the sun (really....REALLY), so we were at the beach well before 9. Lehr rented Eli a bike with training wheels, so he no longer rode in the trailer. It was very odd to have him be in charge of his own transportation...the first time we brought him to the beach he could barely crawl! Both boys had boogie boards, so they 'surfed' together until we went up to the pool. Given how early we were up, an early lunch at the house was in order, so everyone could catch a few winks. We did more pooling, more biking, and then back to the house to make homemade pizzas. The kids loved stretching their own dough and deciding what to put on top.

Friday found us with just two kids, and another early morning. This time, just the four of us went down to the beach to start. Eli spent much time finding waves again, while Maddux perfected her sand castle skills. She did run up and down the shore with me though. This year found her a little more skiddish of the waves, but I showed her how she could stay in water that never got above her knees and jump over the waves. She loved it. When we hit the pool on this day, both kids were already visibly tired. I never had a hard time getting them to sleep on this trip! Eli napped hard, but woke up before Maddux, so he took a bike ride with D and Daddy. On the way back, it started to rain, which made D and Eli work together to bike faster, which resulted in a crash. It was bad enough to scrape up Eli's elbow and a little bit of his knee (and put a HUGE dent in his helmet), but it didn't break his spirit. As soon as Maddux got up, Eli and I went for another ride. Since it was still raining, we played some corn hold on the deck and then made dinner. Seafood was on the menu for the night, and I made some mac-n-cheese to add to the kids' plates as well. (Side note: It felt SO GOOD to use a stove again!)

After dinner we took the kids on a bike ride to get ice cream. It was really dark, and the ice cream store was a little farther away, so we convinced Eli to ride in the trailer with Maddux. They both loved the ice cream (gelato). We got them a cone with two flavors: Eli got blueberry pomegranate and blood orange, and Maddux got lemon and raspberry. Delish! When we got home we took quick showers outside and went to bed.

Saturday. The last day before we left. We woke up to overcast skies, but the four of us went to the beach right away. We took a little bit of an extended bike ride on our way and stumbled across several white chairs set up on one of the many pristine grassy areas, seemingly for a wedding later in the day. I shot a few pictures as the kids sat in each row, and Lehr showed Maddux how to walk down the aisle. Somehow I doubt he'll be as willing in about 20 years....

This day was probably the most fun. The four of us had such a good time just hanging out before the rest of the world woke up and joined us. We had a huge section of the beach all to ourselves and we used ALL of it. Eli boogie boarded and Maddux ran up and down the shore. We notice that to our right was a small 'dark spot' in the water; we assumed it was just a deeper drop off from the beach. Maddux found out just how deep. She was running along, minding her own business while Eli and I were working on sand castles and POOF: she was gone. She swam really good, treading water until Lehr got to her, but the depth of the first area she entered was 3-4 feet. Right next to ankle-deep water that she was running in. So crazy! So now it became known as the 'pool', per Eli. For the next twenty minutes, Eli and Lehr ran up to the spot and did cannonballs and can openers into the deep section. What a blast!

We tried for the frog pool again, but the rain chased us back to the house for lunch. More corn hole after naps, and then a trip back to the beach for pizza dinner and sunset. We did this last year and loved it, so it will now be something we do each trip. Eli and Maddux had a great time messing around in the sand and getting washed over by the waves. They each scarfed down a few pieces of pizza before it got too dark and we called it a night.

We would normally spend a few last-ditch-effort hours at the beach before heading out of town, but when we woke up on Sunday it was pouring with no chance of a reprieve. The kids are already asking when we can go back. For more pictures, click here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eli Wants To Help You

That's what Eli wanted to write on his sign.

After Eli felt the urge to help, and we talked more about our 'plan' Monday night, Eli told Lehr that he really wanted to hold a sign letting people know he had water for them, so they could come get it if they were thirsty. He also started sorting his coins....all of his coins. He wanted to give people money too so they could buy other food and drink, if they didn't like his. It was all I could do to not smother that kid with kisses and hugs. His heart is so big! While I loved the idea of giving money, handing someone a quarter, a dime and a nickle (Eli's donation of choice) may come off as a bit patronizing, so Lehr and I talked about how he could borrow some paper money from us and think about other ways to use his coins. I did help him make a sign though. We went back and forth over what it shoudl say: I think Eli's first draft was "Come-get-some-water-and-a-bar-cuz-I-brought-it-for-you-cuz-I-knew-you'd-be-thirsty". We scaled it back a bit, had Eli write the words himself, and taped the final product to one of Eli's drumsticks, so he could carry it. He really wanted to have another sheet of paper and a pen so that people could write their names down and he could pray for them. I loved loved that idea, but we forgot to bring a pen, so it never happened. (Next time!)

Yesterday after breakfast, chasing a squirrel around our temporary kitchen, and some house issues, the kids and I drove down to Piedmont Park with 35 bottles of water, 45 granola bars, the double BOB stroller (to carry it all), and some paper money in Eli's pocket. Of course Maddie wanted to ride in the stroller from the beginning; she barely walked across the street before she hopped in. Eli walked a bunch more, but got discouraged after a while. We covered a LOT of ground and didn't run into anyone that was in any obvious need of Eli's 'help'. We did see one man, but Eli got a bit shy, so Maddux brought him a granola bar. About an hour passed and still no more than the one, so we stopped by the playground before heading back to the car. Even though we went a different way, we still ended up taking all 35 water bottles back home with us. Hopefully we can hand them out the next time Eli has a day off from school.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Doctor, Doctor!

Lesson learned today: Do not allow more than one doctor appointment to be scheduled in the same day, especially not back-to-back! Totally by chance, both the kids' pediatrician well-visits were this afternoon, followed very closely (almost-causing-us-to-be-late closely) by Eli's orthopedist appointment. Ouch.

The well-visits went 'well'. Eli is growing right along, but he's dropped to the 30th percentile for height, and similar for weight (he's usually a 50th percentile kid). Maddux is 33 pounds and well into the 75 percentile for both height and weight. Eli had to take a vision test, which he passed perfectly, and he was due for one vaccination. The poor kid got a little nervous, but didn't fight the nurse. In fact, they always ask us to hold them down (which I try to disguise as a hug), but Eli didn't even flinch. That nurse was GOOD!!

From there we raced to Eli's ortho....made it just in time to fill out five pages of paperwork 'updates'. We were seen by an up-and-coming doc first, who gave us a good report, followed by Eli's regular ortho, Dr. Schrader. He had Eli do a variety of things from jumping, to hopping on one foot, to touching his toes, etc. At the end of it he said that Eli has done very well with wearing his shoes and he saw no reason for him to continue to do so at night. In fact, unless we see a sign of relapse (which is unlikely), we don't even have to return for another 2-3 years!!

Even though it's what we hoped and prayed for, the enormity of this visit didn't hit me until I put Eli to bed tonight. For a while now we've been allowing him to sleep without the shoes on Friday nights, and here and there for special circumstances (babysitters, etc.). But the fact that I never again have to put them on my little boy.... the fact that he can now get himself out of bed in the middle of the night to use the bathroom... the fact that he can curl up in any position he wants EVERY night... This is big. Really big. And it's five years in the making. Those shoes have been such a huge part of our lives for as long as Eli's been a part of who we are. Wow...this week just keeps coming at us in these crazy ways....

Monday, September 20, 2010


That could sum up my month. And I am NOT an overly emotional person. People give me a hard time for that all of the time; i didn't even cry when Eli was born. Just not who I usually am. However, it's been a struggle of a month for us surrounding various things with our little guy, none of which I'm ready to get into publicly yet. The only reason I bring that up is to point to the fact that I have shed many tears and been that girl that 'cries at the drop of a hat'.

Today I got emotional for an entirely different reason. And a very very good one. I hesitate to share it because it is so great to me that I fear it may come across as boastful. But it is also so amazing to me that I can't not share it because I know how much hope it gives me to read about such conversations other parents have with their kids, so share I will.

We've had a rough month, and last week we had a rough week, so today I planned as much fun, quality time with both kids as we could all handle. After playing this morning, bowling, and lunch at our favorite spot, we drove home from downtown. Rewind to thirty minutes prior to our drive, we were seated next to the sidewalk at the restaurant. Eli immediately saw a homeless man ten feet from him and noted that he was getting a drink from the trash. i tried to discourage further conversation about it at the moment because I didn't know how to properly discuss while this man was standing right there. Once we were in the car I brought it up again though.

I knew Eli was a little confused by someone drinking something he'd found in the trash. "Disgusting" is the word he used to describe the bottle of water. And why wouldn't he.....if (when) Maddux picks up a random bottle or spoon or anything off of the ground, or near the trash, that's what we tell her it is, and Eli hears all of that. I asked Eli to tell me what he saw, and he sorta nervously giggled as he told me he saw a guy pulling water out of the trash to drink. I told Eli that it was something very serious that he saw. We both know that is 'disgusting', but that man has fallen on some hard times and doesn't have enough money to buy water for himself from Costco, but he's thirsty. Thirstier than Eli has ever been during baseball practice. Eli had a serious look on his face by this point; he was totally listening.

I then went on to tell him that we are VERY lucky that Daddy has a job and that we have a house to live in, a car to drive, and food and water to eat and drink. I did my best to explain that some people get sick or hurt and can't afford to pay for a car anymore, which means they usually can't have a job anymore. And without a job, they don't have money for a house or food and water. I tried to use the example of our wreck this summer; I told Eli that if Daddy didn't have a job, we would not have been able to get a replacement car at that point. So on and so on....trying to explain that some of the people they see that don't have food or water or clean clothes have fallen on bad luck.

So THEN we move to what we can do for them. I reminded Eli that he can always pray for them...that is one of the best things he can do. But then I reminded him that it's not fair that we have money and those people don't; we are no different or better than them. Eli responded with, "Well I have a LOT of money." Pause. (I was starting to get nervous here...) "So I could give monies to ALL of the people in Atlanta that don't have enough money." Tears started to well. They almost spilled over because my little man went on to tell me that he wanted to bring bottled water to those people too, because we have some at home. Then he said, "I could give them some newspapers so they could find some coupons."

I'm not sure if there has been a time when I've felt more 'called upon'. Here we are talking about all of the things we should do, and why can't we do them now??! Given Maddux's state, we did need to go home to give her some down time. However, we have no plans for the morning, so I told Eli right then and there that if he wanted, we could get water and go down to Piedmont Park tomorrow to hand out water. He and Maddux were extremely excited to help out. I am proud of my amazing kids. And now I'm totally emotionally exhausted from such an amazing conversation.

Perfect Day

Today was the first day of fall break. Just me and the kids and no plans. I decided to have a 'date day' with them which included bowling, lunch, and anywhere else the day took us. Eli and Maddux were SO excited. Especially Eli. I think he's missing the day-to-day fun we had all summer.

We arrived at the bowling ally to find it next to empty. The kids had a blast playing a full game....they both did really well (even though the bumpers helped). Maddux didn't bowl in any lanes other than ours, and Eli only stepped over the foul line six times. They were both a little sad when we left, but I let them split my last frame and that seemed to make things all better. Maddux was acting a little sleepy, but nothing major. Eli suggested the Biscuit for lunch, and even though it is all of the way downtown, I totally obliged. It is date day, after all.

We were seated next to the huge open windows right away. The kids happily colored while I ordered. In the meantime Lehr texted us and walked over from his office. Maddux put her head on the table as soon as the food arrived. She felt fine (temp-wise), but was complaining about being sleepy. She never ate a thing, though Eli cleared his plate and cut his chicken sausage very well by himself. Lehr showed up just as we payed the check. He sat and hung with the kids for a minute before Maddux laid her head back down on my lap. We started to leave and then Maddux started to cry. She grabbed her stomach and wailed in pain. I suspected what was to come next so I tried to lift her onto the street quickly. I only half made it before she threw up. Several times. Luckily most of it went outside of the restaurant, but still not something you want to have happen. We cleaned her up as best we could (the wait staff was so nice), but she had to be stripped down to her shorts. By this time she was fine, and even giggling when I was wiping her down, due to ticklish spots. A bigger tip later, we walked back to the car. We quickly dropped Lehr off to work and headed home to bathe Maddie and put her down for a nap.

Eli was being so cooperative and obedient that I didn't even suggest some room time during naps today. He is right now sitting next to me working on a picture he started drawing at the restaurant. Every few minutes we'll engage in conversation and then we'll each go back to our respective work. My heart is overflowing today.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Maddie's Posse

As the second child, and the second child to a brother who already had a big group of friends born around the same time as he was, most days find Mad Dog in social circles she's part of by happenstance. Today was all about her. The room mom for Maddux's preschool class invited everyone to meet at the park on a day we didn't have school, so we made a date out of it. Come to find out, this mom's daughter is one that Maddux seems to have really connected with. The girls recognized each other from across the parking lot...the fun began right away.

A few other kids showed up, including one little girl who was wearing the exact same outfit as Maddux. (Gotta love Target!) Two boys showed up; I'm pretty sure there are only two boys in the whole class.... After playing on the swings and apparatus for an hour, most of us walked down to the bridge so the kids could throw leaves and sticks off of the side and watch them float down the creek. It's amazing how long that entertained them all! When it came time to leave, much hugging and high-fiving took place. Everyone knows Maddux and she is quite comfortable around her 'peeps'. It makes me sad that this was probably the first time I've done a play date just for that little girl, but I'm so glad to know it has not affected her social skills in the slightest.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dancin' Queen - NEW video

Mad Dog is definitely that. She LOVES to cut a rug. The opening bars of most any song barely start before she's shaking her hips or raising her shoulders up and down. Here is a quick video I shot last week when the kids and I were playing around in our one-room entertainment center.

202010 09 Maddux Dance from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Boosterthon Video

Here is a quick video from Eli's fun run. The kids are running fast...keep your eye out for Eli...white shirt just like all of the other kids. You can't miss him.

2010 09 Boosterthon from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ity Bity Ditch The City

What a blast! This morning we all trekked over to Conyers for the Ity Bity Ditch The City Race (and the non-kid version as well). I found this trail race "with a twist" a few months back and discovered they had a kids' leg to it as well. Done and done! You had to be at least 5 years old to participate, which luckily Eli was as of about 10 days before the race. I think this is the 4th race Eli has done, but the first 'adventure' one.

We got the kids up early and drove an hour away for the 830AM start time. Three other families joined us for the kids' race, which meant Eli had some friends to run with. Parents were allowed to run with the kids, but not participate in their obstacles. I got to run with Eli and Lehr snapped as many pictures as he could. The race consisted of a mile of grass running, hay barrel jumping, trail running (the real deal!), slip-n-sliding, wall climbing (with help), potato sacking, tube crawling, and tire running. So so so much fun. Eli did great, only stopping to walk once or twice. He did great on all of the obstacles (except the potato sacking..he wasn't into that today). My favorite part was at the finish line. As the kids crossed, a volunteer handed them a medal and congratulated them. Eli held his hand out for the medal, but never stopped running. A real pro....

The adult race started once the kids were done, so I joined my friends at the start line. Our race ended with the same obstacles the kids' race had, but we had a 3 1/2 mile trail run before that point. This meant all of the kids (at least ours) got to do the obstacles for 20 min or so while they waited for us. Lehr said they had a blast. Then, once our race was done, we all headed back to the slip-n-slide and seriously spent over an hour there, sliding down the big black tarp. Eli ended up in a pair of shorts and no shirt and Maddux got down to underwear and a shirt. (Not really her fault. She just hit a growth spurt in height which has thinned her out a bit. Shorts and pants that fit her fine a month ago now fall off of her hips.) For something we signed up for without much insight, we had a really fun, fun family day. Click here for the full set of pictures Lehr took.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Good Days

So we've already had a few calls home, a few notes, and many discussions about Eli's school behavior. He's a great kid, the teacher agrees, but he is so so enthusiastic that his excitement often disrupts the class. And at times Eli seems to have fallen into the class clown role. Add to that the fact that Eli found a buddy in class that is very similar in the 'silly' department....enter the phone calls from the teacher.

We are very aware that Eli is a boy and in Kindergarten AND on the very young side of things, but certain lines of respect for authority and for his peers needed to be reiterated. We have been working with his teacher on how to handle his impulsive talking and 'opposite obedience'; at the end of the day it's the same song and dance most parents go through, but it is a necessary one.

So last Friday, after a call and two notes already in that week, I got Eli off of the bus and asked him how his day went. (We've really stressed being honest about this, even if the day wasn't good.) Eli told me that the morning was not good, but the afternoon was. I was so excited, because I sensed it was the truth. We talked briefly about what made the morning 'bad' and how we could have changed it, and then what made the afternoon good. Once we got home I opened his folder and there was a note from his teacher saying EXACTLY what he'd told me. She wrote that he'd started off a little rough in the morning, but turned it around BIG TIME in the afternoon, for which she praised him.

Now we're halfway through the week and we haven't had any calls or notes. And each day Eli has told us how good his day went. Yesterday he told me, "Ms. Griffin didn't even have to tell me ANYthing." Absolute music to my ears. I hated thinking about all of the fun stuff and cool learning Eli was missing out on by being in time out or at his desk due to misbehavior. I hope he's getting enough of a taste of the 'good life' to deter him from going back the other way!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

My Brainy Builder

So today was Eli's third installment of Brainy Builders. He enjoys it while he's there, but he resists me a little each Wednesday morning when I remind him that he won't be riding the bus home. I think that has more to do with the extended day than the actual activities. He and his fellow Brainy Buddies are learning to make all kinds of cool structures: rockets, birds, "wheeled vehicles for space flight".

Today was especially hard for me. I missed my little man SO much, especially in the last hour while he was at Brainy Builders. When Maddie and I picked him up, he held my hand as we walked back to the car. The kid was exhausted. He smiled sweetly at me and told me he missed me too. When he got into his seat I went around to his side and gave him a big hug and told him how much I'd missed him (again). He said, "Well Mom, then just un-register me and I don't have to go anymore." Smart kid.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

You Will Be Missed...

Too many good ones to post here....I had the pleasure of shooting a family that has become very dear to our family over the last year. Lehr and I, and both of the kids, already miss this family as they make their move to the next chapter in their story. We wish them all the best, but we will miss them oh-so much. Click on any picture to see the full shoot.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Last Days of Summer

Since school started a few weeks ago, we haven't been to the pool much, haven't been playing baseball as much, and haven't had time to do many 'fun' outdoor things as a family. Tonight we made the time to head downtown for one of our favorite summertime activities: Centennial Park and the 'high water'. Eli and Maddux love the two playgrounds at the opposite end of the park from the 'high water', so we started there. The kids climbed up the rock structure, rolled down the conveyor belt slide, and spun around on the self-propelled spinning-chairs for about thirty minutes before we walked to the water. Both kids loved running through the awesome grass, but Eli was definitely a little slower this evening. His poor calves are SO sore from his fun run yesterday!

Once we got to the water, the water 'show' started. Every few hours on the weekends they play music and the water shoots out in a cool matching choreography. During that time, Maddux put on Eli's cool new sweat bands and danced up a storm. She is totally unable to hear music and not move a body part or two, so a big, clear space was more than she could resist. As soon as that finished, both kids jumped on the fountains and got soaked. Eli had a blast running through every fountain while Maddux hung back and tried to get splashed by each one from a few feet away. Maddie also pulled out her airplane arms and coasted around the park for a bit, pretending to fly. Good stuff. I think we lasted until about 8PM before it turned a little chilly and both kids asked for towels. So much fun; such a great family night!


If I had a working scanner, I'd bombard you all with Eli's school work because every day he comes home with a cool picture or other work of art. Eli draws pictures of basketball courts and rockets and all sorts of creative things that he didn't draw all summer long. And Eli's writing is improving daily; his spelling is catching me off-guard too. He's probably right in-line with other Kindergartners, but it's just shocking to me to have him spell things on his own.

Today he drew a Family Tree. It is a small tree with all of our names (not just Mommy and Daddy) written underneath. So cool And how bad is it that his handwriting is already better than mine?!?!


Yesterday morning, Eli participated in his first solo running event. Many public schools in the area participate in Boosterthon to raise funds for the school. Eli raised just under $10/lap completed, and yesterday was the running of laps. The Boosterthon team set up small 'tracks' for each grade to run, outfitted the kids with cool white t-shirts so teachers could give them hash marks as they completed each lap, and lined them up to enter the course area by class. Music pounded, hands were clapping, and each class ran in, led by one or two kids with signs. Guess who got to hold a sign for his class!!

Ten minutes passed before they started the run; one lap of walking kicked it off, just to get the kids the hang of things. It's a good thing they did that too because once it started, it resembled a Nascar event. The kids were SO fast and none of them had breaks or a sense of how to cut corners and not run into each other. Eli started off so strong, sprinting the first few laps. He stopped for water around lap 10, but that's the only time I saw him do that. Even then, he grabbed some water and barely sipped it before he joined the runners again. And he didn't stick with friends and goof off; he seriously RAN the whole time. Never slowing down (even when we called his name), never complaining (even when I ran along side of him), never stopping. He got in 35 laps just before they blew the whistle, which is great since that was the max amount of laps the kids could get credit for.

Although he didn't nap after school, he told us that he was 'really really tired' when he got back to his classroom yesterday. He snored all night long, and when he woke up this morning, the pain set in. The poor kid limped all the way downstairs and then up the driveway when we walked to the bus. By the time he got to the top of the driveway, he had stopped limping, but even getting off of the bus today, he's still walking 'funny'.