Friday, August 31, 2012

Checking In

First, here's Eli giving a big "hello" to everyone : )!


And he's gripping that juice box like it's going out of style!  Actually, it was pretty warm this afternoon, but since we were dropping off (and helping unload) hay for my mom's horse, we all had to wear pants and boots. Juice boxes and water were essential! A quick side note: Eli has a pretty awesome pair of cowboy boots, thanks to a friend of the family that gave them to me years ago, in anticipation of the day he would get here : ).  While we were waiting on Patrick to arrive with the hay for us to unload, we hung out around the horse farm where my mom's horse, Rocket, lives. 


Then, we headed off to look around at some of the animals on the farm.  That's my mom (Eli's grandmother) leading us around. 


Eli met some of their ponies and burros up close : ).  He has his own pony (ok, he actually shares Reno - a VERY gentle, full size horse - with me), but enjoys meeting new ponies, just the same!  He really loved the burros' ears and the sounds that the burros made.



When it was time to move on, Eli did NOT want to leave his new friends! I had some work to do to convince Eli to let go of the fence : )



But wait - what's this??  MORE ponies??


Yep...We also got to meet ButterScotch and her (grown) baby, Pistol.



And after lifting and toting this winter's hay around for Grandma's horse, we were HUNGRY! So we went to a local Tex-Mex restaurant to see if Eli liked the cuisine (he had never had it before).  When I say that Eli LOVES salsa, it is a serious understatement : ).  And guacamole.  In fact, he loved the guacamole so much, Aunt Joy had to take a pic of him eating it with his fingers (yuk!).




Actually, I owe a big THANK YOU to Aunt Joy for taking these pics today.  I am rarely in pictures with Eli because I am usually the one behind the camera! Tomorrow we are celebrating Eli's 18 month old birthday (since we weren't able to celebrate his 1 year birthday with him, we will celebrate 1.5). Eli, Patrick, Joy, Grandma and I are going to the park to enjoy a cake, a pinata, and the playground!

It also bears mentioning that, although Patrick and I are still sleeping in Eli's room with him, Eli has begun to sleep at least part of the night in his own bed!  Whoo  hoo!  He made it ALMOST through the night last night in his bed, which was awesome. He still sleepwalks and talks in his sleep (and has occasional nightmares or night terrors), but this is definitely improving.  He is happier every day, too, which is beautiful to see.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: First Toddler Gymnastics Class

                                         {Getting ready to ride the zip line for the first time}


{WHEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!}


                                        {Taking the "run" in "runway trampoline" very literally...}



                                                         {Crashing on the crash mat!}

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Visit to Stone Mountain

On Sunday, Patrick and I enjoyed some family time with Eli.  We had planned to go to church, but all three of us overslept (we sleep when Eli sleeps!). So, we decided to have a quiet morning and do something fun in the afternoon.  Our first stop was Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint. We were really wondering whether Eli would even eat pizza (he's not generally fond of bread or pasta).  We broke out the Dr. Suess bib, ordered him a kid's pizza, took a slice, and cut it into teeny pieces for our tiny chewer. After a few bites, he was too excited to wait for us to cut up the next slice.

                                                   "Where has THIS been all of my life??"

It was Patrick's turn to help him eat, but eventually Patrick got hungry too.  I was really impressed with Patrick's ambitextrous approach to baby feeding!

Yep...he's holding Eli's pizza in his left hand and his pizza in his right hand...not bad!  Eli only ate about half of his 6" pizza (2 slices - what you see in the picture is an entire slice). We took the rest to go, but when I reheated it for him, he ate only the top - he didn't like the texture/taste of the reheated bread (truthfully, neither did I - it was kinda sticky).

Later on Sunday, we took Eli to Stone Mountain.  They have really built up their offerings for families, and we knew that they would have something he would enjoy.  We parked and broke out the stroller (Eli is really beginning to love it!) and decided to buy tickets for the Great Barn.  It was described as a 3 story, indoor playground appropriate for all ages.  What an awesome experience!  The Great Barn was perfect for Eli...a well contained, very safe play area with TONS to do! Eli had an amazing time - for more than 2 hours!!

When you first walk into the Great Barn, it's really noisy.  The first thing that Eli noticed were the toy foam balls - and he stopped dead in his tracks!


                                              
He stood there for so long, I walked around him to see his expression.  One word: PRICELESS!

                                              "I see TOYS!  They're EVERYWHERE!!"

The shock of walking into the Great Barn actually lasted a minute or two.  We let him take his time getting used to the activity and the noise.  It really wasn't long until he was ready to get involved in all of the action!

First, we discovered a ball vacuum. The entire floor was COVERED in these small, soft foam balls. If you turned the ball vacuum on, it would suck the ball through a tube to the ceiling, where it would pop out (and people on the ceiling had toys that shot the balls back down to the floor). Eli was thoroughly fascinated with this, and we spent quite a while feeding balls to the vacuum. He was so excited to see the balls "fall" up!

                                    "Whoa! Stop the presses! That is NOT how gravity works!"

After a while, we guided him toward some of the other areas on the playgroud for some more fun (though Eli could easily have played with the ball vacuum the entire time!).  They had these huge plastic animals for kids to climb on. Eli wasn't too excited with sitting on the pony when there were clearly so many other things to do, but he stayed long enough to get a picture.



Then his daddy thought it would be funny to tell Eli to "go pick the pony's nose."  Eli immediately thought this was hilarious (yuck!).  But Patrick is took the picture of him actually doing it (and is making me post it).



Thankfully, we quickly moved on to the slides.  The stairs for the first slide were a little big for Eli, but he managed to get up them with no help.  I couldn't help it...I HAD to take front and rear view pics of him wiggling up the stairs!





Then he discovered a BIGGER slide with BIGGER stairs - we had to carry him up to the top of this next slide at least 20 times (probably more!).  The yellow slide (below) actually went down an entire story of the building, and was quite fast.  He enjoyed riding with me a bit more than with his daddy because I had on long pants that made us slide FAST (Patrick was sticking to the slide in his cargo shorts!). We tried multiple times to get a picture of him grinning and laughing at the end of each slide, but he was so intent on jumping up to go to the top of the slide again, that we missed the photo op every time!

                                          
                                           Climbing to the top of the yellow slide with Patrick


                                     Sliding down the BIG slide with me - and ready to go again!


At some point, Patrick and I agreed that we were exhausted, even though Eli was still going quite strong.  We decided to distract him from the long climb to the top of the yellow slide with some tunnels.  Eli had fun in the tunnel, but quickly discovered that he didn't need to crawl through the like his daddy...he could stand up and RUN!



Patrick and I finally admitted that we were each completely worn out.  But we didn't want to leave without letting Eli slide down the little slide 1 MORE TIME! (Really more like 10 or 12 times...but who's counting?).

  
 I can't close out this post without mentioning that Eli also helped us count  (just like his Uncle Lee taught him when we were in Korea) before EVERY slide:  "One... Two........ THREE!!!!!!"


We start a "Parent Assisted" gymnastics class for 18-36 month old children on Wednesday night.  We are hoping that he will have a chance to have some great fun and bonding time with us, while hearing other kids speak English, running off some of his unending energy, and developing his physical abilities (he may be a tiny tot, but he is REALLY strong for a toddler - we have video of him attempting chin ups in Korea with his foster father!).  I am hoping to use some new pics from his class to start a "Wordless Wednesday."

Keep your fingers crossed and prayers said for his sleep issues, though.  The night terrors are ongoing, and though he doesn't usually wake up during one, it is extremely disconcerting to hear him cry out in his sleep.  For this reason, we will continue to sleep in his room with him until we are sure that he can sleep alone safely and comfortably (sometimes he sleepwalks! and sleepcrawls! Agh!).

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Catching Up

Wow...so much has happened in the last few weeks, I wanted to include another post tonight to catch up on everything.

First, Eli had his baby dedication at our church last Sunday.  Bless his heart - not many babies shake the minister's hand and so solemnly reach out to accept their first Bible from the minister during a baby dedication! We weren't able to get pics during the ceremony, but here's Eli with his daddy right after the service.




Eli has also been living it up in the front yard.  I am not sure if he's ever seen so much space before, though he is certainly getting used to it! Patrick had him picking "flowers" (mostly dandelions) for me, but Eli got a little excited and started giving me nice long stems of grass!


Of course, we've been hitting up the local playgrounds, too!  Eli is LOVING the slides and swings, and actually said one of his first English words the other day: "again!".


Oh, yes, our little boy is learning English FAST, though he is very selective with his words and who he talks to.  He and Patrick have had several "discussions" about whether he is to call Patrick "Oma" (mother) or "Appa" (father). It went something like this:

                       Patrick, pointing to himself, says, "Appa"
                       Eli, pointing at Patrick, shakes his head and says, "Oma."
                       This continues for about six rounds until Patrick breaks down the syllables and says "Ap Pa"
                       This caused Eli to get the giggles and break down HIS word for Patrick " O  MA"

To make matters a little more confusing, Eli knows the Korean phrase "Mam ma", which means "food" or "feed me."  Half the time he says "Mam ma" he means food, and half the time he's calling for me!  I was wondering which he wanted yesterday, when he walked into the kitchen, took out a pan from the cupboard and brought it to me.  At least he clarifies! I would love for him to call me Oma, but he won't yet, because that's what he's calling Patrick.

His best new friend is one of our cats, Woody.  Poor Woody.  Out of all of our pets, I would have thought Woody would not want anything to do with Eli, as he's an older, quiet-loving cat. I have been pleasantly surprised by Woody's kindness and loving attitude toward Eli.  I really do need to post pics of them together soon!  Today, Eli wanted Woody to play, and brought him quite a few toys (some cat toys, some Eli toys) to get him interested.  Woody has been laying across Eli's feet during nap time, and when I noticed that Eli was sleeping through nap time without a problem, I began to allow Woody to lay down with Eli as he went to bed at night (he doesn't get to stay all night, though...more about that later).  Works like a charm.  I wish I had done that quite some time ago, as our first week and a half as a family was very sleepless.



Woody the cat (above) is a poster boy for the beauty of finding amazing pets at animal shelters.  We got him from Furkids in Atlanta, Georgia (visit www.furkids.org).  He started out as a "foster" cat...a cat who has significant special needs who we agreed to care for until such time that he could find a permanent home (we do this a LOT as animal shelter volunteers, though we have stopped until Eli is more settled). At the time we began fostering Woody, he had sustained a very serious/grotesque injury to his leg that nearly resulted in amputation; Woody also has a special condition called FIV. The condition can suppress his immune system and affect other organ systems as Woody ages, though it is not transmissible to people (it is a "cat only" condition). Because of this and another medical issue, Woody eats very slowly, and he eats prescription food. This means he does need several hours at night, by himself, to eat. I absolutely fell head over heels for this kitty from the moment I looked in his eyes, and Patrick and I decided that we wanted to keep him shortly after he came into our home.  I have always had a soft spot for kitties with special needs, especially FIV cats, since they are often overlooked, but I had hesitated to make Woody officially ours until Eli came home.  Since Woody has made it clear that he and Eli are BFFs, he is obviously staying (much to my joy!).

Whew!  I think that catches me up.  I think I got a little off track with the kitty chat, so I think I will close out this "super" long post with one more pic of our SUPER boy : ).

                                                     "What do you mean, I can't fly??"

Cousin Rilynn's Birthday Party

Eli really enjoyed going to his cousin Rilynn's first birthday party. First, the food (of course!), which was great. He definitely got his share of BBQ and potato salad!! Then, we had the excitement of playing with balloons and watching the big boys break open a pinata, and watching Rilynn get help opening her presents.  Eli REALLY wanted to help Rilynn, but we were afraid he would run off with her toys : )! Finally, the bouncy house.  What a hit!  Eli got to play with the "big boys" - his elementary school age cousins...and he had a blast!

I am thinking of borrowing an idea that I saw on two other blogs about having a "half birthday" party for Eli when he becomes 18 months old, since we were not yet a family on his first birthday.  It will be a much smaller affair that Rilynn's party, but Eli really seems to want an excuse to whack a pinata...and eat more cake ; ).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

2 Weeks Home!

Patrick and I were looking at each other last night, and realized that we had been home for two weeks with little Eli! The time is flying by, and I can hardly believe that we are at this point in our journey. We are beginning to adjust to being a family of three, with our VERY active toddler. He climbs, he runs, and he eats like no other 17 month old  I have ever seen!! He LOVES food and would spend all day eating if it were physically possible. With the amount of eating and sleeping he's doing, I actually think he is on the brink of a growth spurt...maybe when he becomes 18 months old in September, we can start to say goodbye to his 9-12 month sized clothing :). I actually can't believe, looking at pictures, how much bigger and older he seems since Korea! He is still working on learning some English words ( most of what he does is baby babbling),  but he seems to understand a lot of what we say. He uses the Korean words "Oma" (mommy), "mul" ( water), and "mam ma" (food). He is saying "Adda" to refer to his daddy and a lot of sounds words, like "Whee" and "Boom". And he definitely says "go" when he wants to go on a car ride!