Friday, April 29, 2011

Year In Song

Eli had a short performance at school this morning. Parents were invited to come see the entire Kindergarten perform songs for events from their school year. Eli's class was October, so he got to wear his Halloween costume. In true Eli fashion, he didn't tell us about this, but had tried on his dragon costume in his room one day only to discover it didn't fit well anymore. When I got the note from his teacher later this week to send him dressed up, I asked him about it and he told me about his discovery. (Info we could have used a lot earlier!) I reminded him that it is April and that means that Halloween costumes are not available for purchase right now. I suggested we find something he has that would look like a costume. He thought hard and then said, "Astronaut?" I thought it was a great idea, but we had nothing even close. Luckily he then chose my original thought: baseball player.

Maddux, Lehr and I arrived over 30 minutes early to find all seats already taken, so we ended up sitting on the floor (the cafeteria floor....kinda gross, even though it's clean) in the front. They turned out to be the best seats because we could see AND take video very easily. Lehr and I were shocked and impressed with Eli's stage presence. In the past, he has usually mouthed the words to songs when 'performing', and he does get shy sometimes. Today he was front and center and had all of his hand motions and song-words memorized. Maybe he'll be a performer like his sister after all.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tiny Dancer

Yesterday was Maddux's spring ballet observation. Eli and I got to sit in her studio and watch her whole class (no photos or video allowed). Just as before, Maddux and her classmates went through a series of fun, dancer-esque exercises across the floor, including stretching. Maddux will not be participating in the Spring Concert next month, but she is learning the short dance with her class anyway. She loves when they get to hold hands and run around the room....go figure!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dancin' Machine

When we're downstairs, I often have music on with kid pictures flashing. This weekend, Lehr put up music with the original video. ( of our faves.)

Maddux gets all 'in the zone' as she often does while dancing. Keep in mind that this was several songs in, Lehr tells me, so she was likely tired and out of moves. She still gets jiggy with it, using the hits to strike a pose. Usually when she sees the camera, she shuts it off a bit, but she still held on for another minute. Notice when she first jumps to the couch, she shrugs up her shoulders; she knows if it was Mommy behind that camera, there would have been repercussions. And do not miss the last 5 seconds....classic Mary Catherine, Maddux.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Tonight the four of us went to a Good Friday service at our church. We had already been through an Easter Egg hunt and baseball and limited amounts of sugar, so we were unsure of what to expect. Both kids did really well though, enjoying the music and listening to the readings during the family service.

We'd discussed Easter several times in the last week, making sure both kids understood the importance of both Good Friday and Easter. We talked about how sad Jesus' friends and family must have been on Friday, but how even Jesus knew that His death had to's what He was sent to do. And then we talked about how cool it was that God loves us so much that He would do whatever needed to be done to save us from our sins.

This was a really really cool stepping stone for Eli. He's enjoyed his elementary kid 'service' this year (they have worship and a sermon and everything), and he's gotten so much out of it. Add to that his love for reading his Action Bible, and Eli knows a lot about the Word. There were several opportunities for me to discuss Good Friday and Easter with Eli during the service, but I had no idea how he'd react. The first opportunity came when we were invited to find a poster around the room with words/sins and use red paint to cover them up. We were urged to find one that we struggled with most: internal sins of the heart (greed, jealousy, resentment), external sins (stealing, abuse, etc.) or another which is totally escaping me right now. I knelt down and whispered into Eli's ear, explaining what everyone around us was doing. Then I asked him if he wanted to participate. He did, so I then asked him which sin he wanted to ask God to help him with most right now, and I told him which one I struggled with. He told me "hitting", which isn't something he does a lot of, but he knows how seriously we take it. So we walked back to the poster that contained the word "fighting" and Eli painted a red cross over that word. Very cool.

The next opportunity came in the form of communion. I don't think we've had Eli take it before as it's something I've never really formalized my opinion on (regarding someone who might not realize the weight of the sacrament). So as people gathered, I hung back with Eli, again explaining things in his ear. I talked to him about what everyone was thinking about when they went up to accept communion, and I talked to him about what an honor and responsibility it was. He told me that he wanted to participate again, so off we went. Once we took our wafer and juice, I had him kneel down with me on the step. Then I told him that as he took part, it was a time to talk with Jesus about how thankful he was to have Him in his life. He could also talk to him about struggles, or praises, or anything he wanted. I asked Eli if he wanted to pray with me and he said no. Then I asked him if he wanted to pray out loud or in his head and, of course, he said in his head. Then I asked if he wanted me to pray out loud so he could hear and he said no. I bowed my head and quickly prayed, unsure of what Eli would do. When I opened my eyes he was holding his juice and looking straight forward, not noticing me at all. After about 30-seconds, his spell broke and he consumed the bread and juice. Oh to know what he was saying to God.....

Finally, we had an opportunity to write our names on a small paper and place it into hold drilled into a large wooden cross. This was to symbolize us recognizing that we belong to Jesus, and the cross. Just as before, we discussed and Eli asked to participate. Amazing, unforgettable, and awesome.... How lucky am I to be part of the journey Eli is on.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Old Video

I just came across some files I shot back in the first week of December that I never edited. Here is a short video from the weekend we went tree shopping.

Friday, April 15, 2011


My girl is good. I really am not too scared about her letting people push her around. She stands up for herself, kindly but firmly. We've been discussing respect in relationships a LOT these days. Given all that is happening with Eli, we are continually talking about how mutual respect is mandatory in a relationship and nothing less than that is acceptable. I've been doing my best to drill into the kids' heads that the reason I will not listen to them when they are raising their voices at me is because if I did, I would be teaching them that it's OK to accept that, as long as you love someone.

Fast forward to last night. Maddux is running around with a few friends she met last month. They are getting along great; everyone is being kind and playing very nicely. At one point I see the boy accidentally run into Maddux and she fell down. I'm not sure if he even noticed it, but she was knocked off of her feet. She sat there stunned for a minute, and when he didn't do anything about it, she said (in a firm voice), "HEY! You knocked me down. And it hurt." He then apologized and they continued playing.

I told her (and Eli) later how proud I was of her for staying calm, and for letting her friend know that it was not OK for him to knock her down and not do anything about it. It was the coolest exchange to girl can certainly take care of herself!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

One Day At A Time

Today was much better than the rest of the week. Eli had no outbursts and was only minimally rude to me on only one isolated occasion. The boy napped, so that definitely helped (though he napped yesterday too....) He has had an AWESOME behavior week in school, bringing home top marks 15 of 16 areas so far. And tonight he had a baseball game: the first of three in four days. He played well, kept his enthusiasm for the game, and was happy even when we came home and prepared for bed (well after bedtime).

My favorite part of the day was after showers when we read books. Eli chose a very tame, kinda boring book about honesty. He said it was a great thing to learn about. We discussed many things as we read, often times prompted by him. Then we followed it up with prayers and Eli told me that he prays every night after we leave his room. I often try to pray with him before bed, but he's usually only a spectator. It doesn't surprise me that he likes to keep that private though; it's totally his personality. And randomly today I asked the kids if they knew why we were about to celebrate Easter. Eli knew it perfectly: "It's when Jesus died to take our sins." So glad he soaks up everything we teach him, even if it's not initially apparent!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alien Abduction

I am really really really hoping that is the explanation for Eli's outbursts. If not, I'm not sure what to do. At least if it's aliens, I KNOW there is nothing I can do....instead I pull my hair out trying new tactics every month or so with minimal success.

If you know Eli, you know he likes to smile. He is a happy kid. BUT, when the wind changes directions and it is NOT in his favor, he is a very different child. He will be so fine, so happy, so....normal. Then something will hit him the wrong way and his tone changes, his demeanor changes and he is 100% negative. If some redirection or (gasp!) consequence takes place during that time, hold on to your hats. Yelling, name-calling, swinging fists (a new one), and much stomping follows. And then, once he's had a sufficiently calming time out, as quickly as the spell began, it's gone.

We talk about it during calmer times, and Eli totally acknowledges that it is not right, and in fact very WRONG to treat people that way, especially those who love you, but in the moment he always resorts to craziness. We have been 2-steps-forward-1-step-back for so long now, I almost don't remember what it's like to not bite my tongue so hard it bleeds....

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Friday, April 08, 2011

Mad Dog Loves Eli!!

I seriously cannot stress it enough. I'm sure every parent that has a daughter sees the crazy love and compassion girls possess, but it boggles my mind daily. Maddux is so selfless and overly-concerned about Eli's well-being... A few times in the last month she's been hurt, but still asking about him (as in, she falls off of a bike, but through her tears asks for Eli). And on our trip to the beach last week, two instances stick out in my mind.
  • The night we went to get ice cream, Eli was working on a horrible mood. The night before we all lost the opportunity to get ice cream (even though we'd planned on it) specifically because of his 'tude, so this time around I'd warned him that 'we' were getting a treat, but he may not be. The entire walk to Seaside found Maddux asking me over and over, "Can Eli get ice cream now?" "Is Eli earning back ice cream to eat with us?" She was not content to get a sweet treat unless he would be joining us.
  • We had one full-on family night at the beach. We cooked up a bunch of seafood and played some family games. One game was Memory. Eli was fine, but tired, when we started the game. His first turn found him to be the only person who had not made a match. In a very non-Eli-like-fashion, Eli's face screwed up into tears and he sobbed. Maddux was so quick to try and console him, assuring him that he'd get a match next time. She was like an over-concerned parent, doing her best to pacify her poor, sad child. She was not happy until he got a match and felt successful.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Beach Dinner

About halfway through our beach trip we rode our bikes to Seaside for pizza. As we've done in years past, we got it 'to go' and walked down to the beach to eat. The four of us split two small pizzas while sitting in the sand, watching the sunset: perfection.

One of the coolest things about that night was Eli's concern for his surroundings. He saw a few empty water bottles and other small trash in the sand near us. He asked what it was for and we told him that some people forgot to throw their things away when they were done with them. Eli immediately said, "Well that's not very good. We should pick it up for them." And then he (followed by Maddux, of course) proceeded to pick up several bottles and bags and walk them over to the trash can.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Beach Conversations

Wow. Love love love the 'quiet' time on the beach with my kids where they just open their hearts and minds and don't hold back. Especially Eli. Maddux is an open book 8 out of 7 days a week, but Eli is a little more guarded sometimes. This week he and I have had a few great conversations so loving this!

Yesterday we were sitting on the towels together, as his feet were a bit sore, and he was allowing me to snuggle him a little. The wind was blowing and body warmth made everything right with the world. I nuzzled Eli's ear a little and told him how much I loved hanging out with him at the beach without photo shoots and boot camp and school and baseball to distract us. We talked about how we love those things in our lives, but it's fun to just 'be' sometimes too. Then I told him how excited I was that, at that moment, God was growing up a wife for him: someone who was kind and encouraging, fun and confident, and someone who would respect and love Eli over any others. He was intrigued by this, even though we'd talked about it before. He asked a few quick questions and then dropped the subject. This morning he said to me, "Mommy, wouldn't it be funny if she was growing up and she was 4?" It took me a minute, but I realized what he was talking about and agreed. "Then she would be the same as you and Daddy, cuz I'm 5 and she'd be one less."

We also had a conversation over lunch about God. Eli asked why God made guns, except for wars. (For some reason, he knows/thinks that guns and whatnot are ok when you're defending a country.) He asked about why God made criminals too. I did my best to explain that God made everyone to be loving and kind, but since we all have the power of choice, some of us choose poor decisions. Criminals are people who made bad choices, but they can still ask for forgiveness and change their hearts. At the end of lunch, way after the conversation ended, Eli said, "God is good, huh. He made all of this food for us. That's cool."


Monday, April 04, 2011

First Beach Day

We arrived to Watercolor on Saturday after a very long drive. Apparently the rest of Atlanta (and Georgia!) decided to take their Spring Break trip to the same place, leaving at the same time as we did. (The nerve!)

We've had a great few days already; lots of beach and pool. The water is a bit chilly, as is the wind, but we've had lots of sun and lots of fun. Yesterday we spent a big chunk of the morning on the beach, playing and walking to Seaside and back. Eli and Maddux brought their bikes to the beach, so they've been riding them back and forth to each of our locations as well. When we woke up this morning, Eli hobbled into our room with some stiff feet and asked if we could 'just sit on the beach today'. The flip flop walking, bare feet running, and biking in flops has left my little man's feet very overworked. Us clubfeet folks struggle with adequate muscle and flexibility in the afflicted feet. I feel very stiff the day after a long trail run or many balancing or barefoot workouts. Eli is now starting to experience the same pain when he pushes his feet further than normal. The good news is, he walked around a little and stretched like I told him and they loosened up enough for him to still enjoy himself today.