Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Suffocated By Sweetness

Wow. Two days in one week. Not sure I can handle all of this obedience and niceness. I don't think the kids realize that by showing me they *can* act this way, they are raising my expectations for them...

Maddux and I ran to Harry's this afternoon for a few groceries. They have a small wagon near the exit for kids; they get to choose one treat from it on their way out. Usually there are juice boxes, fruit bars, organic gummies and organic lollipops in there. In the past, if they've behaved well in the store, I've let the kids pick anything but the lollipops for their lunchboxes. When Maddux and I finished today, she put her little cart away and stopped by the wagon, just as I told her she could. When she came back to me, she held up two lollipops. "Mommy, I got one for Eli too cuz I know he would really want one." How can I argue with that logic? Especially because I hadn't mentioned Eli at all. That girl's heart is big.

On to Eli... I went to his school today to get some work done for his teacher. I got there much earlier than planned and finished everything a full 40 minutes before Eli's lunch period. Even though I'd told Eli that I would try to be there at lunch with him, I just couldn't justify staying with the to-do list waiting for me at home. I wavered back and forth several times because I knew it would be the only day this week I could eat with him, but in the end I left.

When Eli got off of the bus he was in a great mood. Maddux ran ahead with her friend, Virginia, and Eli and I chatted about his day. I stopped suddenly and looked him in the eye as I apologized for missing lunch with him. I explained and he said it was OK. Then he told me, "You know what mom? I was drinking my milk as I was watching for you and I drank so long that I finished the whole thing." THEN he told me, I didn't even eat my brownie until the very end because I was saving it for you. I knew you'd want something special to eat when you came to my lunch table." The sweetness of that boy's heart when he stops guarding it is enough to take my breath away. I hugged my little man right there in the middle of the street. I cannot wait to have lunch with him next week!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Day of Greatness

I know I'm jinxing it, but I have to record the awesomeness that was today.

We've had some struggles with Eli again. Bad struggles. The good news is they are isolated incidents; they don't last for days on end, or even a whole day at a time. However, they are severe and difficult to work through. He has such an explosive anger/frustration if he's tired. At all. We are working as best we can to love him through these while still maintaining our rules and expectations for how we expect to be treated. Sigh.

Today was amazing. Seriously amazing. As a Monday, we are back in school, so after school can be a struggle due to the surprise fatigue, but Eli rose above. He had a great morning with Lehr (even though they woke up late), and he came off of the bus very happy. Once home, there were a few things I asked him to do (reading and thank you notes), and I got nothing but obedience. Amazing. Then we had a short room time during which I had to tell Eli 'no' a few times. (He lost some privileges during his outburst on Saturday and he wanted those privileges back.) I couldn't believe it, but he accepted my 'no' and moved on. Shock. Awe.

Around 4PM we came downstairs to do some thank you's and then play. Eli worked quickly and Maddux did some 'work' at the same time. (She loves to work on letters or numbers when he's working!) Eli was incredibly complimentary and encouraging to Maddux. He praised her letters and even showed her how to do a few things. ALL without any prompting from me. Wow.

Maddux does not have school on Monday, so it's usually a fun day for us. However, we had two lengthy errands to run, including one trip to the mall (which we have seriously maybe visited three times in her life) so I could go to the Apple store for a laptop fix. I was anticipating the worst: driving most of the morning, in and out of the car a few times, followed by a trip to an electronics store where she'd have to sit still for an extended period of time??! She was amazing. Very good all morning, even holding my hand voluntarily when walking outside (which is sometimes a struggle). When we got to the Apple store, we ended up staying for about an hour. Not one problem. I'd packed a few small things for her, but she got on one of the kid computers there and worked the whole time. She hasn't used a computer before; they haven't used them yet in her class and we don't do computer games at the house. But I showed her a few things with the mouse and she took off. Really, really cool.

After a very nice, peaceful dinner, Lehr and I decided to pull some ice cream out of the freezer as a way to reinforce the day-oh-greatness. Quite a big treat in our house, and it was well received :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Family Date Night

We've only intentionally 'named' a few family date nights in the past, but I hope our schedules allow us to keep this in the rotation. Last night we did not have a formal date night, but we had a night open, so we chose to do a few fun things together - very low-key.

We drove to Doc Chey's (a fave of ours and a dinner spot that Eli has been asking for a lot lately) on the early side of things to allow for plenty of time at our next location. Due to a later than usual lunch, the kids actually didn't finish their food, but I think that also had a lot to do with the insane amount of effort they were putting into their artwork at the table. You'd think after going to the same place with the same coloring menu for 5 years, they'd be tired of it, but they weren't/aren't.

From there we drove to Piedmont Park to check out a new section that recently opened. We'd heard they had some 'spray grounds', so I brought my camera and the kids dressed in swim clothes. What fun (and free!). There was a huge flat, grassy area in front of a wide-open spray ground. Plenty of room to run, plenty of room to splash, and all within our sight! Eli and Maddux had a blast alternating between running through the water and then doing laps around the grassy area. Eli challenged me to more than one race, Maddux did lots of somersaults and pseudo cartwheels, and no one got lost. At one point, the kids were in the water and I was shooting. I couldn't believe what I saw through my lens so I stood up and then looked at Lehr in disbelief: Eli and Maddux had their arms around each other and were just 'being'. I got as many pictures as I could before the moment passed, but it honestly lasted a good minute or so. Life is good.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Kids Slumber Party

Last night each child slept at a friend's house for the first time. How did we get here? Lehr cooked up a great idea to try and get a few house errands done (You know the kind. The ones you *try* to do with the kids but end up arguing and getting after the kids the whole time, accomplishing nothing but putting everyone in a sour mood.) While our original plan of a baby-sitter at the house with the kids for about 24 hours so we could knock out our list didn't pan out, one quick errand and a late dinner was still possible.

Eli went to Bryce's house. So fun. An added bonus was D's presence, which always makes it more fun. It sounds like the boys had a great time, great dinner (and dessert), short sleep, and a good morning before Lehr picked him up at 9:30. Maddux stayed with Finley and family. Even though the girls are close in age, they take on very opposing roles when they play: Maddux likes to be the 'mom' and Finley is happy to be the little girl. This translates to Maddux doing everything for Finley and probably bossing her around a bit. Oh joy! It sounds like the girl had a great night as well. Neither kid appeared to even give us a second thought as they spent the night away from us. That's a good thing, right?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Maddux's First Day

It's here - Maddux is four and today she went to her first day of Pre-K. Crazy! Sad too, not just because of the obvious. While I wrestle with the fact that my baby has grown to this 'big' stage SO quickly, some of the milestones aren't made as big a deal of, mainly because they're not new ones to our family. Total bummer for her. And every other kid who is not the first born. I did try to make the day special though: we talked a lot about her first day last week, picked out a special outfit to wear, let her get a special snack for the afternoon, etc. But in all honestly, I had to remind myself to do about half of these things. So not fair that just because I've been through the first day stuff already with Eli, and already this year, that she should not get the big fanfair. I kept telling myself that last year was good, and next year will be even better. I think the fact that there was only one week between Eli's start and Maddux's first day was the main reason for my lack of enthusiasm for her. Last year we had about 3 weeks, and next year they'll be at the same school (so they'll start the same day). Enough of that....I can already see the email from Lehr reminding me to keep it short and sweet...

This first week I get to walk Maddux into her classroom, as I did every day last year; next week we start carpool. It was nice to be able to walk back there with her, but she totally didn't need it. When I asked for a hug and kiss, Maddux told me, "Mommy...I'm makin'!" (She was playing with the kitchen stuff already.) I then had to wait three hours to go back and pick her up. She got a great review, was full of stories, and even had clothes clean from any paint or food! From what Maddux tells me, she obeyed very well and was quite helpful to the teacher (that I don't doubt). Her class has 5 or 6 friends from her class last year, and 14 students total. She told me, "I meeted new friends today!"

Sunday, August 21, 2011

On Your 6

That's what I feel like time is saying to me. How are you already six years old, Eli? I can remember rocking you as I read you bedtime books during your first year of life as if it were yesterday. And even though watching baby home videos of you shocks me because of how small you were, the memories haven't even had time to fade yet.

This last year has been a growing one for sure. You completed your first year of Elementary School, definitely with some ups and downs. But you came out on top and you are a better person for it. Your dad and I have seen you become a bit more assertive in your social interactions, and we've seen you focus more than ever on the sports that interest you. This last spring you had an amazing baseball season where you grew as a player and displayed awesome sportsmanship. We couldn't have been more proud. And over the summer you participated in the neighborhood swim team. SUCH a big commitment and such a cool experience for you. Not only did you get to hang out with your friends each morning and each Wednesday night at swim meets, but you took your swimming to a whole new level. You learned how to dive, back-stroke, and improve your speed significantly.

Just after your 5th birthday you learned to ride without training wheels, you ran a trail race (with obstacles), and you completed a Boosterthon race/event at your school. The last 12 months have found you interacting more positively with Maddux, and the two of you often play together by choice. Your interest in music continues to grow exponentially. In the last year you've acquired a drum set, and you've accompanied Daddy to several rehearsals where you got to show off your skills. A trumpet has also found it's way into our house because of your admiration of Trombone Shorty. Most adults don't even know who he is, but you could 'sing' most of his songs from memory.

Now, just a week before your birthday, you started first grade. Wow. You're on the bus again, buying lunch again, and showing all kinds of 'grown-up' responsibilities and choices. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm going to put bricks on your head so you will stop growing!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

It Takes A Village

We celebrated Eli's birthday with a friend party today. As Lehr likes to say, "We learned a lot today."

Lehr and I let Eli have an indoor soccer party, ran by us, complete with a more extensive guest list than we're used to, chosen by him. This was the first time we let him dictate the list 100%, and it was also the first time we didn't include all siblings. That would have been fine, but Lehr and I decided to complicate things by making take-home shirts for all of the kids. Sounds great, but in reality, it was difficult to get the shirts ordered in time with the guest list responses, and then a few last minute changes threw us off. Not a huge deal, but it made me sad that a few kids didn't get tee-shirts (though they were probably fine with it.)

The party was to start at 11AM. We arrived just after 10:30 to find a locked door. This didn't shock us too much, as the venue is not a party place; it is a large warehouse-ish soccer field that is used almost exclusively by adults in the evenings. We rented it out for a few hours, but we knew that they would be just opening it up for us, so 11AM might be the time the doors got unlocked. 11AM came and went and a few families had arrived by this point. Now we're all baking outside in the hot, sunny parking lot. Somewhere around 11:15, a man comes and unlocks the door. Not that it was much relief because (as we knew) the inside was obviously shaded, but not under AC. The kids didn't care. We got everyone suited up in a shirt and let them loose with 5 or 6 balls. Several moms and dads stuck around, so there were plenty to keep the kids occupied on the field. Several moms helped me quickly assemble a make-shift table that was not nearly big enough to house all of the kids. I put the finishing touches on the cake and then we were all able to join in the game. The kids played each other first and then we had an adult vs. kids game. So fun. The only 'injury' I know of was Maddux who took a ball to the face right out of the gate, but after one kiss from D, she was fine. All of us worked harder and sweat more than we though possible at a kids' birthday party, but we loved it. We quickly transitioned to the over-crowded table for lunch and cake and then it was over.

Eli had asked his guests to bring money for soccer balls instead of gifts. Several still brought gifts, but we were so excited to see many of his friends dropping coins and a few bills into the box Eli had made. (Our church sends a group to Kenya each year to work with a specific orphanage we partner with: Tumaini. Soccer is a big part of the 'community' time they share, and they always bring a bunch of balls over. Eli wanted to buy some balls to send to the kids in Kenya, so that is what the money is going towards.) It was really cool to see Eli making the box this morning and getting into the spirit of HIS gift to the kids in Kenya. And even cooler was the generosity of Eli's friends: he has enough to get at least a dozen balls.

So what did we learn?
  • Better communication when it comes to less 'birthday-type' venues.
  • More forks (or spoons). We anticipated 18/19 kids so I thought a 24 pack was enough. Not so.
  • WAAAAY more water. When you have kids (and adults) running around in the heat, you cannot have too much water.
  • Skip lunch/dinner time birthday party if possible. Heavy snacks and cake are always better, and easier. Lehr wanted something other than pizza, so we did sandwiches and almost none of the kids ate them.
  • If we do special order anything (i.e. shirts), indicate so on the invite so that we can get correct ordering done in time.
All in all it was a great party; Eli had a great time. I am so thankful for the parents that were there to help set up, do tattoos, fill water cups, assist in food distribution, and PLAY. The party would not have been successful without them!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Picture Perfect

Eli had a great day. Seriously. This is a big deal for him, especially since it's the first week of school and fatigue makes him not so fun to be around.

Before I got home from camp this morning, Lehr had already sent me an email:
A+ morning. One of best ever.

I didn't get to hang out with Eli until he got off of the bus, and that is always a touchy time because he's been going going going all day and post-bus is prime time for melt-downs. We walked down the hill, helped a neighbor move something, and then went inside and had a snack. (I've found that snack right away helps his mood tremendously. As it should: the boy eats lunch at 10:45AM!) The kids and I then went upstairs for room time. I put Maddux in her room and then Eli and I sat on the couch to go through his backpack. We looked at all of the papers and then talked about homework. Following that, we started his school-requested reading time (homework). Our 30 minutes together was REALLY calm, and really nice. Then he went (without a complaint) to his room for a 20-minute room time while I took Maddux out and did some reading one-on-one with her(even though she'd had the whole day with me).

Twenty minutes later I got Eli out and the three of us went downstairs to get some outdoor play in before our small group arrived. On the way out the door, I realized the dishwasher needed to be emptied before our friends showed up. I asked both kids to help which normally would send Eli into a tizzy, since we'd just decided we were going outside. Instead, both kids helped happily and we finished lickedy split. Amazing. We played with neighbors for about 30 minutes and then returned home as our first guests arrived. Eli played really well with his friends and obeyed our rules all of the way until the end, even though he went to bed 45 minutes late. Crazy perfect....

HUGE success!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back To School

Eli started first grade today. Woah. When did I get a 'grader' in my house. Last year was big with Kindergarten, but it was still Kindergarten. Not 'real' school, right? That's what I told myself, but there is no denying I have a full-fledged Elementary-aged child in my house now. Frownie face, for sure.

Eli slept through his alarm, but sprung right out of bed when Daddy went in to get him at 6:15 this morning. (I stayed home from camp so I could eat breakfast with him and walk him up to the bus stop.) He had a huge smile on his face that never faded the whole morning...gotta love that enthusiasm! After getting dressed quickly, he made his bed and came downstairs to eat the fresh waffles Lehr was preparing for him. Big time. Maddux slept through all of this, so I waited until 10 minutes before we walked up to the bus to wake her. She was super excited too. We barely made it up the hill before the bus driver rounded the corner...looks like the bus is even earlier this year!

Then he was gone. Then Lehr left. And it was just Maddux and I. No biggie...we ran a bunch of errands and made lunch and part of dinner. Then it hit me. Loneliness...still more than an hour to go. A few dance parties and some Maddux 'homework' got us through until 2:20.

Eli's best buddy gets off at the stop before us and his mom brought popcicles for the kids to enjoy on the walk home. What a treat! He then proceeded to happily walk home, second-line-ing with the umbrella Maddux brought.
video
Once home, Maddux absolutely needed a nap, or at least some solo down time, so I got her squared away in her room and went to play 20 Questions with Eli. As expected, many answers were, "I don't know." or "I don't remember." but he was excited and happy and obviously had a great day.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

All Grows Up

I know I've titled blogs like that before, but this time I REALLY mean it.

This morning I made the kids pancakes for the last mid-week pancake breakfast before school starts and then we went to the river. I packed their bikes in the back so they could ride the flat trails along side the water while I walked/ran with them. The last time I did this was probably late May, and the rocky, uneven ground was too much for either of them. Today, Eli had no problems whatsoever.

Eli took off from the second we got on the trails and looked like a pro. He had no problem handling the rocks and he was able to turn on a dime. I told Eli he could ride ahead, but to check back with Maddux and I periodically. He was amazingly obedient. Not only did he keep swinging back around to check on us, but I never had to remind him of it. And a few times we caught up to him; he had parked on the side of the trail and waited for us. It was like I was dreaming.

My favorite part of Eli's experience was at about the halfway point. He was really enjoying his freedom, you know the kind you can only find on your bike as a kid, and he got ahead of us. He waited just around a corner by a big-ish field of weeds and crickets. As I approached, he looked at me (still on his bike, with just a leg supporting him on the ground) and said, "Mommy, listen to those grasshoppers. That's beautiful. It's like they have their own rhythm." Then he tried to imitate it. All of this was done with a face full of contentment and wonder. I thought my heart would overflow.

I did fear I'd 'lost' Eli towards the end of our trip. Maddux and I hadn't seen him in a while and I was starting to get nervous. We passed a cool wood bridge that both kids really loved, so I took the girl and paced up and down it a few times, calling his name. No luck, so we returned to the main trail and picked up our speed. Just as he was supposed to be, he was turning back to find us a moment later. My heart took a while to calm down after that one. It's a real internal struggle when they are growing up and you know you need to extend their boundaries, but it's oh-so hard...

Maddux did not fare so well on this trip. Her bike is harder to maneuver due to the training wheels, even though she's a speedster on it. Add to that the whine factor that has been her existence for the last two weeks, and it made for a pretty miserable time. Honestly, if it hadn't been for the great experience Eli had, the trip would have been a wash. Maddux and I agreed that next time we'll bring the BOB so I can push her while Eli rides.

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Day In The Life

Here we are...only one week before school begins for the second time. Eli will be in first grade this year (WHAT?!?) and Maddux is starting Pre-K (4-days a week for a few hours). Seriously...how did I get here? It seems like just yesterday that I had one baby with me, 24/7. And maybe it was just a few hours ago that I had both kids, baby and toddler, under my feet and in my arms all day to cherish and hug. Now they are away from me more hours than I'd like each day and I'm left wondering how I managed to stay home with them for this long, and now how will I manage to have them away from me for a chunk of the day, more days than not....

I often hear the question, "How do you stay home all day with your kids? What do you DO all day?" The brave ones admit that they honestly think it's all bon-bons and tv. I assure you, I have never eaten a bon-bon, and my kids view TV as a huge treat as it is not often on in our house, even though they're now 4 and 5 years old.

When you have kids at home with you, especially those under 4, your every moment is utilized and spoken-for. If you're not cleaning them, you're feeding them. If you're not feeding them, you're hugging them. If you're not hugging them, you're disciplining them. If you're not disciplining them, you're dressing them. If you're not dressing them, you're teaching them. If you're not teaching them, you're kissing them. If you're not kissing them, you're disciplining them (again). If you're not disciplining them, you're napping them. If you're not napping them, you're reading to them. If you're not reading to them, you're cooking for them. And if you're not cooking for them, you're trying to catch up on laundry, or a shower for yourself.

And I have loved every minute of it. Even when I've had a rough day, even when my patience has run thin, and even when I have 'the worst day', it is still something I would choose for our family, one million times over.

Before we decided to have kids, I swore up and down that if I ever did have kids, I would still work. I was too smart, too career-driven, too 'above it' to stay home and baby-sit all day. Wow...how arrogant was I? Not only can I not imagine not being the main influence on my young children, I also can't imagine how I ever thought any differently. I am in no way perfect, but I am glad that I get to be the decision maker about what my kids eat, what is read to them, the toys they play with, the language used around them, the amount of love given to them every hour...

That may sound like I just want to control them; it's really not that. I just want to make sure that what they are being fed, literally, spiritually, educationally, is in-line with our family morals and beliefs.

And I love knowing that I was able to decide these many decisions for them their whole young life, both small decisions like reading to them 4-5 times a day when they were babies and big decisions like what style of discipline is used with them.

And thinking of all of those small moments that I could have missed if I'd not been home with them makes me cringe.

Back to the question, "But what do you DOOO all day? It must be a constant vacation....much easier than a job, anyway." While I do not view staying at home with my kids as a 'job', it is a responsibility, and it is hard work (even though I choose it over a 'job' every day). A typical summer day for us a few weeks ago looked like this:
  • 4:30-7:00AM - Bootcamp for Mommy
  • 7:30-8:00AM - Kids wake up - snuggle with Mommy while I finish bootcamp emails
  • 8:00-8:45AM - Work with kids to do their responsibilities (get dressed, make bed, etc.)
  • 9:00AM - Breakfast (a melt-down for Maddux results in a time-out)
  • 9:30-10:30AM - 'Homework' - we do handwriting, math, reading, coloring 'work' when we can.
  • 10:30AM - Load kids in the car to run to Target for lunchboxes. While we're there Eli sees a toy he wants, so we discuss cost, translate into quarters, and how he'll save for that. Math lesson done!
  • 11:15AM - Dentist appointments for both kids
  • 12:15PM - Home for individual reading time - 15 minutes
  • 12:30PM - Lunch (Eli complains about his food to the point where he ends up being asked to empty most of the dishwasher for me to learn about appreciation for others caring and providing for him.)
  • 1:30PM - Pool time. I work with Maddux on diving and Eli on flip-turns at the ends of the lanes. Two time-outs for Maddux for pulling on her brother while we're in the pool. Eli earns some reflective time sitting on the side with me when he decides to not share with his sister.
  • 3:15PM - Home for 'room time'. Read a book to each of the kids in their room first. (Both kids in their room for 30-40 minutes to read, play quietly or nap.) I catch up on editing for nep.
  • 4:15PM - The kids and I read books together on the couch. Eli reads every other page as we make our way through the stack. Maddux answers random comprehensive questions. Sometimes her answers are even correct.
  • 5:15PM - Dinner prep. No clue what we had because most nights it's random as I don't plan well in this area. The kids usually help me a little or play in the back-yard/back porch where I can see them from the kitchen.
  • 5:45PM - Kids grumble and argue over setting the table. Dinner is served. (Lehr is home at this point.)
  • 6:15PM - Play outside - baseball, bikes, yard stuff...
  • 7:15PM - Bathtime/shower time
  • 7:40PM - Books
  • 8:00PM - Lights out for the kids
  • 9:30-10:00 PM - Collapse in a heap in my bed
Many (many) encouragements, reminders, struggles, 'teaching moments', and corrections were left out of the summery, but for the most part, that was one of our relaxed days this summer. No major schedule or errands to work with, so fitting in the fun stuff was easier. No TV, no bon-bons...lots of hard work, lots of in-the-moment decisions, and lots of learning, both for me and the kids.

And I love every minute of it. I don't wish the role of a SAHM on my worst enemy. But I do wish it on my best friend.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Younger Cousins

Eli and Maddux haven't had any younger cousins until now. Eden, their one and only, was born over a year ago, but we didn't get a chance to meet her until this trip. I knew Maddux would be instantly attracted to her, but I was unsure how Eli would handle it.

Maddux was in full mommy-mode/care-giver status/nurturer-extraordinaire. She loves taking care of kids younger, or seemingly younger due to size or behavior. She hopped right in and tried to pick Eden up, hold Eden's hand when walking, feed Eden, and basically not give Eden any breathing room. Eden tolerated her pretty well, but when Maddux pushed it too far, she let her know. I think Maddux's favorite part was feeding Eden a bottle and cereal...she felt very grown-up when she was allowed to do that.

For the first day or two, Eli didn't pay Eden much attention; he just seemed to tolerate her. Somewhere around the end of day two or three, Eli showed her some love and then he never looked back. In fact, one meal he was rather distraught because he really wanted to sit next to her, but those seats were taken. He also picked Eden up, gave her toys, and tried to entertain her. I got a few cute shots of them the day before we left....it was great to see my boy in more of a caring role with a younger child. Especially now that there are two more young cousins on the way!!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Camping

A few days before we left Idaho, the boys went camping. We all gathered at a beautiful camping area that my family used to frequent when I was younger around 3PM. The kids played in the water as we watched from the beach, and we all swatted away enough flies to fill a bus. Once we'd had our fill of the beach, we made our way back to the campsite for dinner. Hot dogs, fruit and s'mores were on the menu. The kids tried to cook the dogs, but the teens and adults had to take that over. Immediately afterwards we started on the s'mores. (The girls were not staying overnight and it was already 7PM at this point.) Personally, hot dogs weren't enough to lure me anywhere, but s'mores are, so I was fine with getting to the good part that quickly. The marshmallows were the biggest I'd ever seen....they could have been halved and still been big. Maddux and Eli loved that part, of course. A tasty treat and fire? The perfect combo for them!

Once we finished dessert, the girls all headed back to the house to sleep. Maddux and I slept together on a blow-up mattress, which she loved. Eli and the rest of the boys played a few card games until it got dark and then went Snipe hunting. Eli had been soooo excited about this. Treis, Cole and Uncle J really played it up, and Eli would have walked over hot coals to be included in the 'hunt'. Lehr tells me that Justin did a great job creating the scene for Snipe hunting, and Eli was into it, 100%. Once they finished (Eli was disappointed that they came back empty-handed), they hung out around the fire a little more. Lehr said that Eli asked twice, very seriously, to go to bed. On the second request, his wish was granted, and he slept later than anyone the next morning.