Sunday, October 14, 2012

2 Months!




So, in month 2, we had to have our 18 month old checkup at the doctor.  Eli is doing well and, though the doctor wants to keep him coming in for weight checks, he is very healthy and thriving. He has gained a pound and a half since he's been home, and has grown an inch in height! He has definitely outgrown all of his 9 month old clothes and is a solid 12 month size, with a few 18 month old shirts thrown in.

He continues to learn lots of new skills, like jumping up and down and pulling the plug from the bathtub when bathtime is done! His motor skills continue to improve and are pretty good for a nineteen month old - he surprised us last week by holding up his own body weight on the "moveable rings" in gymnastics and swinging from the rings. We have also been surprised at his prowess on the balance beam - he can run the full length of the balance beam, placing one foot in front of the other.  We spot him, just in case, but he really doesn't need help. The other day, he climbed onto the beam (from a mat 6 inches below) and straddled it, then slowly put his feet, one at a time, on the beam and stood up to walk and run - all without help!

He is now tall enough to ride his "four wheeler" that requires him to push with his feet on the ground.  He can now reach the pedals of his tricycle, though he can't quite get them to work. Of course, he still loves riding his "Mater" four wheeler, too! He LOVES to take things apart and put them back together, and he's still a huge fan of "cause and effect" toys, and cars. He also loves his light saber and his duckie puppet. He absolutely adores the VeggieTales, particularly Larry the Cucumber, Bob the Tomato, and Junior Asparagus.  He has a Larry toy that he sleeps with every night (Ribbert is still a consistent favorite, too).

He has really learned to love the dogs and especially likes petting Rocky and throwing sticks for Bear and Toby. He likes to help feed the animals at night, and we let him give Z, one of our kitties, wet food every night. He LOVES petting the horses and riding them, too.
Eli with Rocky at the "Blessing of the Animals" done by a local Methodist church.

I am a certifiable foodie, so it brings me great pride to say that Eli's eating is still wonderful.  He still loves to try new foods, though he will reject foods he doesn't like (like bread) in favor of old favorites, like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, sweet onions, bell pepper, avocado, asparagus, spinach (raw), ANY type of fruit, chicken, eggs and "vacuum fried" okra (found it at the Asian market). We have discovered that he WILL eat mac n cheese if we mix in peas and a few other veggies that he likes. We have discovered that he ADORES seafood...including shrimp, squid and mussles (he devoured 5 mussles at our local Thai restuarant and was so disappointed when there were no more left!). He has also discovered that he really loves a Japanese dish, okonomiyaki (similar to Jijime in Korea). We learned how to make okonomiyaki from Eli's Aunt Miyu, so it is fairly authentic (Thanks Miyu!!) - it was delicious, though I used the wrong kind of onion when I made it!  It is made with cabbage, green onions (not yellow!), and a simple batter, and I think I will start making it a weekly meal (or close to weekly) because it is so delicious and easy to make! He is still not a fan of most sweets, which I find hysterically funny.  He does like peach milk smoothies, soft peppermints, blueberry muffins, my homemade (gluten free!) pumpkin cookies, and the occasional chocolate milk. He loves green tea flavored creme brulee from our Thai restaurant, too.

We are doing a lot of art projects; including using finger paints, crayons, and - Eli's favorite - stickers. I have a project that we will tackle soon - sand pumpkins : ). Recently, we stuck Halloween stickers (the peel off vinyl kind) to the front door, and finger painted his Aunt Lisa an Aubrun-themed picture.

Patrick and I have begun, recently, to sleep some nights in our bedroom, with one of us returning to Eli's room before he wakes. Sleep is an area that we will remain very flexible on, due to the sleep issues he's had in the past.  We are very much prepared to "coddle" Eli in this arena, as we both feel he really needs our loving support to maintain healthy sleep habits.  Of course, as I type this, I am chilling out with the hubs in our living room while Eli peacefully sleeps in his crib, so not a lot of coddling has been necessary lately! This week has been the start of Eli waking up happily, usually babbling to Ribbert while Oma or Appa tries to sneak in a few extra z's.

The BIGGEST changes this month have been with language.  Eli is very inconsistent with what he says, but he is definitely learning new words every day. Lately, his favorite words have been "taco" (and yes, he really means that he wants a taco), "doctor" (which he said to the pediatrician VERY clearly - much to our delight), and "cookie." He is still using several Korean words, and has learned "Oo yoo" (milk) this week (but he says "oo oo"). He can say "no" and "anio" but prefers to shake his head when he means "no," - this includes when he is "being a toddler." He usually uses the Korean word "sagwa" for apple, but can (and sometimes does) say "apple." He just started saying "diaper" tonight. Eli is very shy about talking outside of our house, and prefers to nod/shake his head/gesture when we are out.  He likes to "explain" things to us. For example, tonight, he tripped and fell. I picked him up to comfort him, and Patrick came to see if he was okay.  When his daddy came into the room and asked what happened, Eli pointed to himself a few times, then pointed to the floor, babbling through tears the whole time, bless his heart. Eli's receptive language (what he understands) is fantastic, and he understands most things we say to him (when he doesn't understand, he shrugs his shoulders, palms up, and says "Iduno" (I don't know)). He will find common objects around the house (like the car keys or his shoes, which he is continually squirreling away), throw things away, bring us his dirty clothes or put dirty clothes in his hamper, blow his nose, and go get in his chair for dinner.  He knows some of his body parts, such as his head, hands, feet, teeth, and belly button.

I can't believe how much he's learning and doing! He surprises me every day with some new ability that he didn't have the day before - or, like today, with new words and expressions that I've never seen him do. I had asked him where his shoes were, and he pointed to the car outside (he was correct - I had accidentally left them there the night before).  I then asked him where my shoes where, and after he quickly ran to look in his room and the living room, he came back, shrugged his shoulders, and said "I duno."  Throughout the day, telling us "I duno" (complete with shoulder shrug) was one of his favorite things to do!


To sum up, here's a few shots from the "Mommy Papparazzi" that stalks Eli on occasion : ).

"Oma...give it up and hand over the camera.."

"No, of course I cleaned up my blocks!"

"Sunglasses? Well, I'll try 'em on..."
 
 
 
 
"How does it look, Oma?"
 

Visit to Yellow River Game Ranch

Patrick and I were not busy one Saturday, so we decided to take Eli to the Yellow River Game Ranch.  When Patrick and I were young, the game ranch was a fun place to go.  They had a variety of animals, all of whom had been injured in the wild and could not be returned to live on their own.  They also had friendly deer that roamed the park at will, coming up to visitors for treats (the game ranch sold carrots and other species appropriate goodies).  We were really disappointed that the deer were no longer the center of attention, and in fact were fenced away and difficult to see.  While the game ranch seems much smaller and less interactive than it once was, we still enjoyed the day with Eli.

The park still sells goodies for most of its animals, except for the carnivores.  There were some really strange people there, some of them yelling at the animals to "get up" and teasing the animals.  However, they all obeyed this warning!

 
After some louder people left, the three of us came back to the mountain lion and to see him up close.
 
 
 
 
We were also fortunate enough that when we visited the coyote, one of them came right up to us.  I am pretty sure the coyote wanted a chicken dinner, but we only had graham crackers...
 
 
We took some time to look for the deer...not much luck...
 
 
 
We did, however, enjoy seeing and feeding a lot of other animals.
 
The llama : )
 
 

 
The donkeys : )
 
 
The bunny...poor lonely bunny...he was all by himself!
 
 
In other words, we fed a LOT of animals...including a skunk, turtles, lots of chickens, geese, ducks, game hens, goats, sheep, MORE chickens (seriously, chicken were EVERYwhere...and it's no secret that I dislike chickens....).
 
Here's a quick clip that summarizes what most of the animals were like:
 
 

 
 
Eli's favorite animal was a large pig named Sis.  She was asleep when we came up to her, but we called her name and offered her a treat, so she came over to say hello.
 
Saying hello to our new piggy friend!
 
Getting a graham cracker for Sis.
 
Sis is  checking out her snack.
 
Yum! She likes it!
 
Giving Sis a smile. While the ranch is not what it used to be, we sure saw a lot of this today!!

 

Monday, October 8, 2012

First Hair Cut!

Eli had his first haircut since he's been home!  Mrs. Pomelia, who has cut Patrick's and my hair for a looooonnnggg time was pressed into service.  First, we watched Appa got HIS hair cut.


 Then, Eli climbed onto a stool and started "talking" away.


This pic is one for Grandma Terri...


Appa's haircut took a long time, because he had waited soooo long to get it done!



Eli was surprised to learn that he was next...


First the water spritzing:

 
Then the hair hits the floor!
 
 
He was a little worried at first, but decided quickly that this was a fun time! Especially when he found out that Pomelia's family has....kittens!
 
 
 
 
'OMA! If she follows me home, can I keep her??'

Furkids Open House (Disclaimer: A really long post, mostly about cats)

It's certainly no secret that Patrick and I have always been animal lovers.  Without getting too much into exactly how many cats or dogs we have (several), I did want to dedicate this post to a very special one.

Spike, the most affectionate cat I have ever known, passed away one year ago at the 2011 Furkids Open House at approximately 23 years of age. She was a perky, opinionated, petite, and genuinely loving friend.  She worshipped the ground Patrick walked on, slept on his stomach every night, and - without fail - woke us up every morning before the alarm went off.  We're reasonably sure that she considered us large kittens who must be attended to. She required some special care in her last few years, but our Furkids friends were really supportive and helpful when I had questions or needed advice. As the matriarch of the family, she absolutely ran our household and kept everyone in order, and we still miss her dreadfully. Even the time she brought a LIVE, wild rabbit in the house and LET IT GO. Eli would have really loved her, and she would have loved him, too.

It is time to make a confession: I AM the crazy cat lady.  If I had no husband and son to reign me in, I would look something like the crazy cat lady from the Simpson's ; ).

To get back to my topic, Furkids was having an Open House. For those who didn't know, Furkids is a no-kill animal shelter that will take an animal regardless of medical need or special need status, so, as fosters, we have gotten quite an education on caring for a variety of feline needs. They even have a house for FIV+ cats, and were one of the first rescues to take in FIV+ kitties.

It should also be mentioned that Eli has LOVED the cats since day 1. When he would cry because he was grieving, Sadie and Woody did their best to purr away his tears. Quite frankly, they were more effective than either Patrick or I at this at first, since Eli didn't really know us at the time. Honestly? I'm pretty sure he bonded to Sadie before he bonded to me : ).  Since then, though, we have taken Eli to Furkids to visit a few times, and he adores playing with the kitties in the free-roaming rooms.

 
 
 
We actually did an emergency foster placement about a week after Eli came home for two kittens (Sy and Willie) who had been found in the woods, one of whom was partially paralyzed.  Luckily, another foster (Dana : )) was able to take them in for longer term care, as I definitely had (and have) my hands full! Sy, the paralyzed kitty, is the poster boy for our special needs kitties and is recovering from the injury that caused it.
 
Which brings me to Furkids' Open House.  To raise awareness of the shelter and money for shelter operations, Furkids hosts an "Open House" every year, where the public is invited to celebrate the fall season with us.  We have BBQ, inflatables, homemade ice cream, a bake sale, and the shelter is open to all (see www.furkids.org). We took Eli and had a marvelous time.  Thanks to the wonderful photographers at open house that took these pictures!



 
Everything is set up and ready to go...
 
 
Yep...even the blood truck dropped by : ).  I only put the picture here because we pressed Patrick into service (I can't usually give blood because of a tendency to be anemic).  Eli bribed the nurses to give him some cookies...and goldfish crackers...and juice...
 
 
 
 
That's Eli petting one of the adoptable dogs from Furkids.  Eli is no longer afraid of quiet dogs! (Loud dogs=still scary, but that's probably a good thing).
 
 
The open house had face painting, a coloring table, a inflatable "bouncy house" and slide, a bake sale, bbq, homemade ice cream, etc.  Eli DEFINITELY didn't want his face painted (he likes getting his hand stamped at gymnastics, but then can't wait to wash off the stamp!).  Eli enjoyed playing in the "bouncy house" with the big kids, but he also enjoyed the food (thank you Carol)!
 
 
And, of course, there were LOTS of good friends to enjoy...Eli and I both love hanging out with Carol! (She SPOILS him rotten! : ) ).
 
 
Of course, we went to see our feline friends, too!  But the shelter was crowded (YAY!)!
 
 
Below is a picture of Meg (taking a nap!), an incredibly sweet kitty that Patrick and I fostered. She is the perfect example of why animal foster homes are important.  She was soooo sick (and pregnant) when we brought her home from Furkids to foster on the same day that she arrived at the shelter. I slept on the floor with her in our "foster room" for over a week, gave her breathing treatments six times a day, fed her with a feeding tube every few hours around the clock and used proper sanitizing and isolation techniques to keep my personal cats from getting sick. Everyone at Furkids was extremely supportive and hopeful that she would be okay.  A few short weeks later, the tube came out, Megs ate on her own, and her breathing normalized. She was at the shelter on Open House day, but found a permanent home very shortly afterward.  I hope and pray that she gives her new family a lifetime of happiness.  She was one of the dozens we have fostered and cared for, and we know, when we look at the joyful faces of children and adults who bond with the animals that we have saved, that our work was not in vain.
 
 
 
So, on a lighter note, Furkids has these things that are called "cat wheels." They look like giant hamster wheels, and most of the cats really enjoy exercising on them!
 
 
Of course, all the food and running in wheels and greeting people is hard work for a kitty...BEDTIME!
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
Thanks, Furkids! We had a great time, and can't wait til next year!
 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

First Roller Skate Night

I love to roller skate.  I always have : ).  I even took figure skating lessons for quite some time and LOVED it (I still would take lessons, except that my coach retired from skating). So, when I came across some "grow with me" style toddler roller skates at a consignment store, I snapped them up.  I let Eli have some time with them on at home, just to see how he would do.  After watching my baby zoom around the coffee table a few times with no help, I figured that he would enjoy a trip to our local rink, which has a "cheap skate" night.  Now, mind, the correct way to teach a child to skate is to teach them to walk/run in skates with the wheels fairly tight, THEN teach them to roll, and that is what I did.  If you teach them correctly, falls will be minimal and infrequent, and you don't have to drag a slip-sliding child around a rink.

First, though, Eli had to get used to the noise and activity level around him - he also had to get his "sea legs" working, since the rink is very slippery compared to our living room carpet and kitchen linoleum.

 
He did have a fall or two where I didn't quite catch him in time, poor buddy.  But, it didn't stop him. He gets very determined when he wants to do something : ).
 
 

 

He held my hand *most* of the time we were there "just in case".  But it didn't take long for him to realize that he could skate like Oma!

 
Yep.  He's skating one foot at a time : ).  It really didn't take long before he wanted to go skate with the "big kids" in the middle of the floor.  I had to keep redirecting him AWAY from the traffic...which made him a little unhappy with me : ). And, yes, some of you may recognize the song that the roller rink was playing...he was dancing to it at the beginning (okay, he was bobbing his knees), and we thought we'd gotten him on video, but we missed it :(.
 
 

Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This...

I thought I knew what chaos was.  After all, I am a teacher at a public school.

Here's a quick snapshot of what chaos really is.

Last Thursday, I dropped Patrick (the hubs) off for martial arts, while Eli and I came home to take care of a few chores.  Patrick mentioned to me that he couldn't locate Dude after Dude was let out to stretch his legs this afternoon.  Dude is our foster cat.  He currently has a feeding tube because he got sick at the shelter, and most sick cats won't eat (the tube will come out, hopefully in a week or two). He is staying with us until he heals, and then he will return to the shelter to continue trying to find a permanent home.  Right now, Dude is chilling in a cat condo in our kitchen, but we let him out a few times a day to stretch his legs, use the cat scratcher, interact with everyone, etc (he's extremely sweet).

Returning to the story...Dude was missing in the house somewhere.  Eli and I searched and finally found him stuck behind the washing machine.  When he realized he had been found, Dude started wailing for help.  As I was pondering how to get him out, Eli had wandered into the other room, and I heard silence.  NEVER a good sign with a toddler.  So, I hurried to see what he was doing - which was letting Z (my big gray kitty) outside.  That is a no-no.  But Dude was higher on the prioirty list because because I was worried about his tube getting caught on something and he was wailing (that, and Z was already halfway up a tree).

SO, Eli and I returned to the wailing cat stuck behind the washer with his feeding tube dangling from his neck.  I tried to move the washer, and didn't see Eli try to "help" me.  He got his finger pinched between the washer and the wall.

So, now my baby is crying, the cat is wailing, and the phone starts ringing....and ringing...and ringing.  I picked up the baby to comfort him and to go get ice for his finger, and realized Z had returned to the porch and the other two cats were going berserk.  So now, the cats are meowing frantically, Dude is still wailing from behind the washer, the baby is crying, and the phone is STILL ringing, AND, at this point I can't find our sandwich baggies to put ice in for Eli's boo boo!

We finally get some ice on Eli's pinched finger, I realize that Z has caught a live chipmunk that he's trying to bring in the house, the other two cats are losing their minds wanting to play with the chipmunk, Dude is still stuck and wailing and the phone is STILL ringing...

I finally was able to comfort Eli, get Dude rescued (feeding tube intact) from his washing machine prison, get the chipmunk from the cat (poor Chipper didn't survive play time), get Z back in the house and answer the phone.

Who was calling this whole time?  Patrick.  He needed me to pick him up because his kung fu classes had ended 30 minutes earlier.  Oops!

Patrick and I laughed soooo much about this later....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Visit with Grandpa Don

Patrick and Eli went to hang out with Eli's great-aunt Jeanette, his great-grandma and his great-grandpa Don for an afternoon.  Since Eli LOVES to eat veggies (especially peppers and tomatoes), and Great Grandpa Don loves to GROW veggies, he and Don have a lot in common! It must be noted that Gread Grandpa Don has a great sense of humor and was wearing a slogan t-shirt that read "Alcatraz Psycho Ward Outpatient".  Yep.  That's our family!  Patrick and I have each have shirts identical to it : )...we are also the people who wear the ever-popular camo shirts that read "Ha! Now you can't see me!" But getting back to the original story...

First, Don taught Eli a bit about one of his favorite tools - his tractor (they actually cranked it up and everything - but thankfully, Eli wasn't able to talk them into letting him drive it!).

 
Then, Don and Eli went to pick some tomatoes and peppers from the garden.  Eli proved to be an excellent pepper picker, grabbing the biggest peppers and gently pulling them from the plant.
 
 
 
 
 
Eli had a fun afternoon following Don around and spending time with him.  He really adores the men in our family and seems to have great fun with both Grandpa Jack and Great Grandpa Don when we see them!
 
At the end of the visit, Eli was playing with Don's walking sticks and looked so cute...we think he really wanted to be Gandolf for Halloween, but he'll have to settle for the costume we have already gotten him (it's a secret - but pics have already been taken and will appear at the end of October!).