Friday, December 31, 2010

Eli's Heart

I know it keeps coming up, the kids' heart 'conditions', that is, but we've had some moments lately. And as much as I wish sometimes that Eli would care more about his sister and friends in moments of unexpected hurt feelings or physical discomfort, what I've seen out of him in quiet moments this month blows me away.

About a month ago I started talking to the kids about Christmas gifts. We talked about why we celebrate, and why we may want to give other people gifts, even though it's a birthday for Jesus, not us. The main point of our conversation was for me to get the kids thinking about what the friends and family in their life might find joy in. I reminded them that they've seen me working on knitting projects and photo projects for our family, because I was trying to make something that they'd enjoy and remember. Also we talked about how most of our friends and family have so many things that they don't really need 'stuff'. So we brainstormed some ways to give. It came up that people like Pkemei, the little boy we sponsor in Kenya, would enjoy anything we could get for him: clothing, toys, books, blankets... But people like our Grandparents and friends at school already have all of those things, so something handmade, some time spent together, or something picked out that signifies a bond would be a better choice. Then I told them that we wouldn't be buying anything for at least another week: I asked them to think about the people they would be giving to and what those people would cherish.

Eli had already made a gift for both Grandmothers at school, he made something for Grandpa Ed and Sandy in Art, and we'd made small magnet crafts for most of our friends already. For the remaining gifts, Eli and I set out on a Saturday with him leading the way. We went to Target first because he really wanted to get Maddux a Hello Kitty toy. He didn't know specifically what, but he knows how much she loves Hello Kitty, so he was set on something in that arena. What he picked out was perfect; she loves it and has already misplaced the pieces several times due to overuse.

Originally he wanted to get Lehr a Christmas Tree shirt (because he doesn't have one), however, no holiday shirts for men were to be found. Midway through our Target run he found a replacement Christmas themed gift, which was great. But my most favorite thing was what he thought of on the drive to Target. From the back seat I heard, "MOM!! I know what I need to get Daddy! A drum key, cuz he lost his!" Apparently the previous time they'd worked on drums together, Lehr found himself without a key; it had been misplaced. I thought it was so cool that Eli remembered that and realized that was something that Lehr definitely needs and would value. So even though it added another store in our errand list, in the totally wrong direction of course, to the drum store we went.

The final gift that Eli chose was for Grandpa Jim. While my parents visited over Thanksgiving, Grandpa took Eli ice skating. When I asked Eli what he wanted to get for Grandpa Jim, he immediately told me, "A hockey ice skater ornament." As cool as that sounds, we couldn't find exactly that. In fact, for the longest time we couldn't find any kind of ice skating or hockey ornament at all. Finally, the day after we mailed out our gifts, we found a solitary ice skate ornament hanging randomly in a Target store.

Eli really enjoyed wrapping all of the gifts he picked out, especially the drum key for Daddy. He wrapped it in a large box full of Lincoln Logs, to try and trick him. When I put Eli to bed on Christmas night, I asked him what his favorite gift was that he gave and without hesitation he told me "Daddy's drum key", with a HUGE smile on his face. I think Eli really enjoyed the giving part of this holiday season.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sing It, Girl!

Complete with a repeat refrain or "coda" (please correct me if I'm wrong, music people), here is Mad Dog giving her new microphone (and dress up clothes) plenty of use.

2010 12Maddux sings again from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Day!

What are the odds?!?! I lived up north for many Christmas seasons and often did not have snow on the ground for Christmas day, let alone falling from the sky. This year, in Georgia, we had snow for Christmas! It snowed late in the day and continued for the next two days. Unfortunately, the first half of the snowfall turned to water and/or slush when it hit the ground due to some warmer temps the few days beforehand. The kids didn't care though, they were just happy to see white stuff. When enough had accumulated, we bundled up and headed outside. Eli was the first to run through the yard, picking up snow and throwing it as he went. It wasn't the greatest snowball or snowman making material, but we made it work. Maddux liked it a little less, not wanting to have any snowballs thrown at her. After much running and playing we ventured over to our neighbor's yard where their new trampoline was covered in ice and snow. Once all sharp edges were removed, the boys jumped like crazy. (Maddux was thoroughly cold at this point and i had to bring her inside to 'put fire on her feet'.)

2010 12 Snow Day from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


We are really enjoying this break from school and 'schedule'! Another thing I've been wanting to do with the kids is take them to the Center for Puppetry Arts. October ran a great show, but we had no days off, and November's show may not have held the kids' attention. This month was Rudolph, based on the old-school cartoon/clay-mation we've all watched for years and years. Even though I could not secure tickets online, I figured we'd give it a shot. When we arrived, all of the box office windows had signs reading 'Sold Out'. But I had to ask anyway. The attendant informed me that they were indeed sold out, even all of the way through the end of the week (3 shows a day too!). I had a back-up plan for the day, but we really wanted to see the show. The awesome attendant told me that from time to time they have a few unclaimed tickets, so if I gave her my cell phone number and stuck around the lobby, she'd call me if that was the case. We still had thirty minutes until the show, so we did just that. And as luck would have it, five minutes before curtain, my phone rang. Three tickets were ours!

Eli and Maddux loved the puppets, the show, and the songs. And I could not get over how well-done everything was. The puppets looked EXACTLY like the cartoon, only better! The show lasted about an hour and then we got to go upstairs and make a craft. The craft for this show was a reindeer puppet. Although I did 99.4% of all constructing, the kids got to decorate their own reindeer, which was so much fun. Maddux, of course, tried to glue 34 pieces of foam on her reindeer, all using a pound of glue each time. Eli, on the other hand, matched each side, making sure they followed a pattern. He even asked me to help with hooves and antlers when we got home.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Like A G6....

So the kids and I have been dancing to this song (thanks to Zumba) for a few months. Recently the song about an airplane came on the radio while Eli and I were running errands. Of course I started car-dancing and Eli began his air drumming. He told me that when he had room time later that day, he was going to write the music for the song on a piece of paper so that we could dance and sing and drum it later. He even told me the parts where I snap to each side would be shown on his music with "X".

If you haven't heard the's pop-y, it's kinda annoying, and it talks about partying, but it's a FUN dance song, so we go with it. Eli was true to his word and 'composed' this music when he got home. (If you don't know the song, the chorus goes, "Like a G6, like a G6, na-na-na-na-na...".) Eli obviously got the words down fine and even wrote in the snaps (with arrows!) for me. Love it!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

What a blast, but it went way too fast. Eli woke up around 6, but Lehr got him back to sleep until about 8AM. We went down and turned the tree on and then let the kids come down to see what Santa had left. Their three gifts were in a corner (unwrapped with only bows) next to the fireplace: each got a kid's umbrella, a book and a board game. Maddux was ecstatic about the umbrella, of course. Actually both kids really enjoyed that; they'd been asking for one for quite some time. Eli went to see if Santa had eaten the marshmallow, and he saw the Coke and the note. When we went to start the fire, he saw the glitter..... Eli was totally into the awesomeness of Santa this year and I love it. (Speaking of which, I asked him this morning if he remembered me in his room last night: negative.)

We opened a few gifts and Jesus stocking notes and then had a delish breakfast of Dutch Babies. A few more gifts and then I ushered the kids upstairs to get dressed. Matching reindeer shirts (by choice) and they were ready to come back down. I told them to wait for a minute because Daddy and I wanted to give them our gift now, but it wasn't wrapped. When Lehr gave the all clear, we came down and the kids saw their razor scooters. Eli was soooo excited. Maddux was, but she seemed confused. "I didn't ask for a scooter though" was one of her responses. However, as soon as we got outside and she rode it, she turned around, looked me in the eye and said, "Thank you, Mommy, for getting me a scooter." That is my awesome, grateful girl. I do love her heart!! Eli couldn't get the smile off of his face; he LOVED the scooter, of course. He kept riding over bits of carrot left over by the reindeer...the magic continues....

More gifts, more Jesus stocking. Eventually we opened our stockings, which held a few small gifts the elves had slipped into Santa's pockets. The best part for me was Eli's gifts to people. He got Lehr a drum key and he helped Daddy wrap some PJ's for me. He was so excited to give those gifts.

Dinner was homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs, and we had a birthday cake for Jesus, which Maddux helped me make. The hits of the day were the scooter for Eli, TWO chests of dress-up clothes for Maddux, courtesy of both Grandmothers, and legos for Eli. Those kids are certainly surrounded by people who love them!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Such a great time had by all. Mom-Mom visited all week, so she was able to join us for Christmas Eve service and waking up the next morning with the kids. Early on in the day, the four of us ran a few errands for dinner the next night. We knew it would take long, so Lehr and I decided to make it special for the kids by popping in a Christmas movie in the car. That is something that is strictly reserved for long car-trips, so Eli and Maddux loved it. We chose the Grinch (Jim Carrey version), which they'd never seen. They had a blast.

My favorite part of the day was before church when I asked the kids to pose for a few quick photos in their fancy clothes. Maddux wore the same dress she wore last year and Eli wore a spiffy red 'work shirt', jeans and his Vans. He was pretty good about standing still for a few pictures; that's not something he usually does for me. And when I asked Maddux to kiss him, Eli avoided it totally. The funny part is, he was more than happy to plant one on Mad Dog's cheek.

Our church does the service on the early side and the kids are included. Thankfully the service is no more than an hour and includes much music and media. Eli and Maddie did great, not even requiring the paper and pencils I brought along to entertain. Maddux wanted to dance in the aisle each time the music started. That would be fine except after a minute of dancing she usually wanders up towards the stage, so we had to keep an eye on that.

After church we drove by several of our favorite holiday houses and snacked on some pretzels. When we got home we changed into our matching PJ's, courtesy of Grandma Cathie, and had a quick hot cocoa while we followed our tradition of letting the kids open their gifts to each other. Maddux loved her Hello Kitty play set from Eli, and Eli was over the moon for the match-box car holder-truck that Maddux picked out for him. They even hugged for a few pictures.

We then set out a few things for Santa. Eli wanted to roast a marshmallow for him, so we had that and a few treats given to us by a neighbor. (We ran out of time to make cookies.) We asked what they wanted to leave SC to drink and Eli replied "Coke". He said he'd seen Santa drinking Coke when we went to the aquarium (the Coke Museum is right next door), so he must like it. Luckily we still had a few Diet Cokes in the fridge leftover from Grandpa Jim. Finally it was time to put food out for the reindeer. Eli wanted carrots, which we luckily had a whole bag of. Off to bed!

Lehr and I poured some coke in the glass, ate the marshmallow and broke up a bunch of the carrots and scattered in the driveway and front porch. Then I sprinkled some ash and glitter around the fireplace and dropped a few pieces of white cotton ball fluff nearby. I also wrote a quick note from Santa, mainly to help Eli cope with a possible disappointment. He had it set in his mind that Santa would be bringing him a razor scooter. Eli assumed if you asked for it, you'd get it, and that's all he had really been asking for. While Lehr and I did get the kids razors (from us), we weren't going to 'unveil' them until after breakfast, to allow for the Santa gifts to have their place, and because we knew the kids would want to rush outside as soon as they saw the scooters. In the letter we told Eli that the scooter was too big for his bag and sleigh (which is the story I'd already been telling Eli all week).

One last thing, since Eli was hook, line, and sinker for Santa this year, I wanted to play into it one more way. Even though our boy is a heavy sleeper, I wanted to wake him up in the middle of the night with jingle bells. My plan was to get him a bit woken up (loud noise or something) and then shake the bells outside of his room. Of course that didn't work the way I'd hoped. First I went into his room and banged around a lot, planning to ask him, "Did you hear that?" when he woke up and saw me. No go...the boy snored and snored, even when I shook his bed. So I finally jostled him as i made a noise and he opened his eyes. I asked, "Did you hear something? Were you making noise?" He yawned and shook his head. I left and we shook the bells loud. Lehr saw Eli sit straight up, so he high-tailed it back to our room in case Eli came out and questioned us. Not a chance. Eli went right back to sleep. Guess we'll have to try this on Mad Dog next time...

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Lots of talk over the holidays surrounding Jesus, the manger, and of course, myrrh. Maddux can correctly tell you the three gifts from the wise men every time. However, one day last week she got a little confused.

Since Eli loves to read all types of informative, non-fiction books, we have learned about many things from hurricanes to dinosaurs to Native Americans. Since our trip to the aquarium last week, Maddux has pulled out a few of our penguin books. The other night we were reading about the waterproof-type fur some penguins have. The next morning when the subject of myrrh came up, Maddux said, "Myrrh, like on the penguins." Gotta love that girl!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


About a month ago Eli started asking for candy cane bagels. Last year or the year before, our usual spot for Sunday bagels had 'candy cane bagels', which were regular old bagels, but dyed red and twisted with regular (white) dough in the shape of a candy cane. After two failed trips to score said bagels this year, Eli and I asked if they were just sold out. Apparently they were not big enough ticket items to warrant a return. Given our new, fancy dancy kitchen, and some help with childcare this week since Lehr is working less, I told Eli that we'd make our own bagels the week before Christmas. As fun as this sounds, I am not always the best with baking. Cooking I can handle, but I don't have a lot of confidence where baking is concerned. Nevertheless I found a recipe and this morning my boy and I set out to the store to get the necessary goods. Eli helped me mix the dough and roll it out. We divided it in half and mixed in some red food dye (that's when Maddux entered the equation). After some more rolling, we had 16 long 'snakes' that soon turned into eight candy cane bagels. So much easier than I thought and they turned out pretty good!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I could post one of these 'thoughts' at least once a day.... That girl is just full of one-liners and quick-witted stories; she keeps everything interesting! In the past month, it has been rare for the house or the car or the bath or her room to be quiet. Every second of every day has been filled with a Christmas soundtrack, consisting mostly of tunes she learned at school for her concert. The most common songs were (are) Rudolph, Chipmunk song, and I Saw Mommy Kissin' Santa Clause. She never ever stops. In fact, when she does, I take pause because it takes me a moment to figure out what's 'wrong'; the music is such a part of our day that when it's not there something feels off.

Mad Dog loves to care for her babies. Right now she has a few that she drags (literally) around a lot. She will put them in a suitcase (since her stroller was destroyed long ago), in my BOB stroller, or in a small little baby bjorn she received as a gift.

Maddie's clothing is something to be admired. I have a lot of fun dressing her in colorful and 'loud' outfits, but in case I forget, she always accessorizes to make up for my shortcomings. If she does her hair, no less than four clips will be used, and if she dresses herself, mismatched socks and scarves and mittens are always included. On the flip side, around bath time, or morning dressing time, some outfits LACKING in appropriate amounts of coverage are also common.

And what a Dancing Queen she is. Maddux loves to twirl around to music playing, whether it's in her head or on the computer. She spins and sashays and shimmys up a matter the tune.

Finally is her temper. She is really coming into her independance. Matching that with her need and desire to be loved and to show love is a struggle. She'll fight me, but then bow her head and sob until I hug her and reassure her. Maddux is also still a bit 'insecure' at bedtime. If I'm not 'working' outside of her room (in the computer room) when she goes down, she is all kinds of upset. We're working through it, but it is quite the process. What a fun time we are having with that (insert severe sarcasm).

Monday, December 20, 2010


The kids hadn't been to the Georgia Aquarium in about a year, so I figured it was a good time to return. A few weeks back I caught wind that the mermaids of Weeki Wachee would be 'performing' for a few weeks in December. DONE! We had company in town this morning, which I hated to tear my kids away from after lunch, but I knew they'd love it once we arrived. The mermaid 'show' had already started when we arrived, but we then found out another would happen an hour later. So we walked through one exhibit before heading back to the huge tank. The kids really got into the animals this time, asking about their names and what they ate. When the mermaids joined the fish and sharks in the tank, Maddux got all giddy. She couldn't take her eyes off of them! Eli asked me about their feet inside of the fins...I told him they had bones in there - no legs. He doubted me, but I kept a straight face and tried my best to convince him that mermaids were real. What fun is being a parent if you can't have fun at their expense some time, right?

We finally left several hours later. This was by far the best trip to the aquarium yet. Both Maddux and Eli got very into the exhibits and the animals. Both really enjoyed the penguins, especially when they got to peek their head through a glass 'pop-up' inside of the African Penguin area.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas

I totally meant to post this about a month ago and forgot. Yikes!! Please take a's how our family has grown to love to celebrate the holidays...wanna join us? :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Big Brother

Eli is so cool. No really. He warms my heart a lot these days. He's become very cuddly and 'lovey', as of late, and he even includes his sister in that sometimes. There have been several weekend mornings that have found the two of them playing REALLY nicely; one in particular the day my parents were coming to town. Lehr and I were trying to get some last minute things done around the house and the kids played together, HAPPILY for over an hour before we had to intervene and help.

Recently Lehr pulled out a bike he'd purchased for Eli that wasn't needed. He and Eli put it together so Maddux could use it. When she woke up from her nap, I brought her outside to see what they'd been working on and Eli go so excited. "Congratulations!" he yelled at her when she saw the bike. Not sure where he got that, but it was so sweet and funny at the same time.

My favorite moment lately surrounded Maddux's holiday concert. It took place at noon on a school day. I didn't hype it up too much at home, but from the moment Eli heard about it, he wanted to go. I told him it would be during the school day; he insisted I come take him out of school so he could see his sister perform. Never before have we seen this type of love or loyalty from Eli.... I planned to follow through, pulling Eli out of school, until I found out that his class was making gingerbread houses on the same day at the same exact time as the concert. I was crushed, but I wanted to give him the choice. The gingerbread was a big deal too, and it was planned to be a neat class activity. When I first asked Eli, his face fell, but then he said, "Well, I'll just make another gingerbread house at home, Mommy." I almost cried when I realized what he was willing to skip in order to see Maddux. I really wanted him to have fun with his class though, so I told him to think on it for a few days, and I also reminded him that I'd videotape her concert. In the end he did choose the gingerbread activity, but what a heart on that kid!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rudolph....Or Maybe An Elf...

Eli has gotten SO into the Christmas spirit this year. The day after Grandma and Grandpa left, Eli and Lehr were going outside to edge or play soccer or something. Lehr got sidetracked in the laundry room while Eli played in the driveway, waiting patiently. When Lehr emerged, Eli had constructed a wooden shape in the driveway with the leftover pieces of wood trim we had stacked up. He said, "Look, Daddy!!" Lehr wasn't quite sure what it was, so he asked. Eli told him it was a reindeer, and I have to say, he did a REALLY good job with no guidance! Lehr grabbed a few nails and stuck it together so we could use it as a decoration. A coat of brown paint later, we have Rudolph (whose name has since been changed to "Olive").

The next day we set up our tree and I got to work decorating it. This involves many many (MANY!) plastic totes full of decorations for the tree and house. Lehr just loves this. (Not so much.) Eli, however, fell right into it, helping me with everything and getting so excited each time a new decoration was unveiled. Decorating used to be my absolute favorite thing to do...maybe this little man can help me enjoy the process again too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Few Of My Favorite Things

On the last day of Grandma Cathie and Grandpa Jim's visit we took them to one of our favorite pizza spots: Antico. If you haven't been, you ARE missing's delish, quick, and kid-friendly. It just happens to be down the street from the rental place I frequent for my favorite lens, and I just HAPPENED to be renting it that day for a few weekend shoots. Put the two together and you've got a grandparent photo shoot in the parking lot of the camera store. Although they were hesitant to 'pose' in a random, dingy parking lot, I think the end result was good. Eli and Maddux did a good job of coaching them through it, having gone through many a random, spur-of-the-moment photo shoots themselves.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Fa La La La La, La La, La, Laaaaaa

Maddux had a Christmas Program at her preschool today. She and the other three-year-olds sang (and did hand motions to) about eight songs. It was VERY entertaining, as one might guess. The most impressive thing was how well all of the kids did! No crying, no running off stage, no real 'stuff' in the middle of the program.... Maddux and the boy behind her were tickling a few times, but she managed to not cause a scene on stage this time, so it was all good. The clip is long; unless your a grandparent or me, you may get bored after the first 20 seconds.

2010 12 Maddux Christmas Program from Nicole Eliason on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Girls Day Out

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Grandma Cathie visited us and I thought that would be the perfect opportunity for us to go get 'mani/pedis' with Maddux. She enjoyed them so much with Anni, and I knew GC would enjoy it as well. Unfortunately the day we planned to do that and then go to lunch, Maddux woke up fine, but quickly showed signs of being sick, the way she was a few times in the last year. She took a little longer to succumb to a hard nap this time, but when she woke up she eased back into the land of the living and we were still able to follow through with our plans. Maddux chose pink and purple alternating fingers and toes, and little white flowers on thumbs and big toes. She was in heaven and the women at the salon loved her.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Another Trip to the ER

Same child, third time. The first one didn't really count since she was only a month or two old, and it was ultimately nothing more than a false RSV scare, but the last two trips count for sure.

The morning started out fine; we all got up and got ready for church together. Lehr and I were both scheduled to work in the children's area which meant Lehr would be working in Maddux's class and I'd be right across the hall with the babies. We got set up, started receiving children and then I heard Maddux's 'hurt cry'. I stood up to see if I could see her across the hall. No such luck, but then I remembered that Lehr was in there with, so I returned to what I was doing. About a minute later Lehr appeared in the baby room door way, Maddux in hand, a compress against her head. He told me that he had to take her and go. Then he pulled back the compress and I saw a deeeeeep gash in the side of her face. (Apparently Maddux had been running circles in her classroom and hit the side of the chalk tray with her face.) I started to fumble for her insurance card and then we both realized that this would be a two-parent job. We attempted to spring Eli from his room, but one of our friends would have nothing of it; she insisted we leave him and she'd take over if we weren't back in time.

As fast as my heart was racing, Mad Dog was fine. Of course. She was in the backseat with Daddy, talking up a storm...not a care in the world. More importantly, not a hurt in the world. The hospital we took her to has a separate pediatric ER, so we got right in. The ER doctor on call saw us immediately. She assured us that the stitches she would use would be the same as a plastic surgeon...that any 'damage' would not be able to be determined until she was older, and that it should heal with no problems due to her age and the spot of the trauma.

So they cleaned it and applied a topical numbing agent that would take thirty minutes to work. "Beauty and the Beast" was popped into their DVD player, and Maddux was happy as could be. Lehr left at some point to get Eli. While he was gone they came in the stitch Maddie up. She laid very very still and didn't even flinch when they pulled out the needle. They were so impressed with her! Six stitches later they applied a band aid over top and handed her a blanket and a Popsicle. What a day!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Merry Christmas, Y'all

I get a chuckle EVERY time I watch this; seeing Lehr's facial expression as he's clappin' his hands and boot scootin' across the floor is just too much....

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Few Of My Favorite People

I did a REAL quick shoot with my parents and the kids outside of the place I rent my latest favorite lens. I know they thought I was nuts for shooting them in a parking lot, but they are by far the best pictures I have of them together.

All Grows Up

About 80% of the time, Lehr gets Eli on the bus in the morning. I'm not typically home in time to see him off, but I do make it back before Eli climbs aboard at least once/week. However, Lehr is always the one to get him dressed, fed, and ready for the day. In the last few months this has included Eli making his bed. Even though I see his bed made neatly each day, I always assumed it was more Lehr than Eli. Not so. Lehr has that boy making it all himself, and with great attention to detail. I watched Eli make the bed a few weeks ago, all on his own. It looks better than MY bed!!