Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Favorite

Eli has a few new favorite characters since Christmas. Charlie Brown and Snoopy are among the new favs. He loved the Charlie Brown Christmas that came on so often during the holidays (hooray for DVR!), and we read the book version many times through the holidays. Pete the Cat became a returning favorite with his new book, "Pete the Cat Saves Christmas." If you've small kids, this is the CUTEST book I've seen in a while. And I love how Eli seems to hear "Pete's" message about being able to do big things even though you are small. I did manage to find a small stuffed version of Pete for Eli to hold when we read Pete's books (like we do for Skippyjon Jones : ) ).

But, as it happened last year, Santa decorated our Christmas tree with exciting books for Eli to see on Christmas Day. "Santa" found most of the books at a local consignment store back in the summer time ; ). It's part of my commitment to begin reading to Eli every day. We really didn't read to Eli regularly until around when he turned two, since he used to throw the most awful tantrums every time we tried. It's funny (& uncanny) now to look back on the videos of him learning to read when he was barely putting together two word sentences. Now, of course, he adores being read to and reading for himself. Like many little ones, he pretty much has his favorite few books memorized (in our case, Green Eggs & Ham; Brown Bear, Brown Bear; Giggle, Giggle, Quack). As important as it is to occasionally re-read these fun books, I also want Eli to branch out a bit. So Eli has had a chance to hear some new stories and some new (to him, anyway) characters in the last few days.

Enter Pippi Longstocking.

Tonight,, we read a book I chose...a very short children's version of Pippi Longstocking. Eli got a huge kick out of the story and the pictures. The sight of Pippi carrying her horse seemed to really tickle his funny bone.  I didn't realize, though, how much he was listening until bedtime. We have a ritual where I pretend that I have forgotten how to tuck him in, and toss the blanket on his head, while leaving his feet uncovered. He usually giggles, protests, and helps me fix his blankets the way he wants them. Tonight, however, he giggled, then flipped his head to the foot of his bed and insisted on being tucked in "Pippi's way." If you don't know, that means feet on the pillow, blankets over your head.  I did humor him for a minute...but although he let me fix his blanket a moment later (so that it wasn't over his head), he remained in the "Pippi-says-feet-on-pillow" position : ).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Few Short Stories

Two must be such a hard age to be; Eli seems so much like an adolescent sometimes because his emotions are so uneven. It's so much fun to watch Eli growing up...but sometimes he can be so...erm...challenging. It is so weird to me to see my child, who is extremely verbal and loves to communicate, throw a tantrum because I didn't put a certain TV show on. He's learned his lesson about touching the TV remote...we're still laughing about that one...he tried to change the channel and accidentally turned it to a "very scary man". He's still really freaked out about the remote control.

I guess what I'm trying to sat is that sometimes he seems much older/wiser than two...sometimes he acts exactly his age.

A few nights ago, after Eli had calmed down (and even taken a 30 minute nap) after a major meltdown (over the fact that he was asked to clean up his toys), he surprised me. After an evening of acting like a typical two-year-old, Eli demonstrated just how sweet he can be. We were watching an old sitcom on TV and snuggling on the couch (I love that he loves to snuggle!). A commercial came on for St. Jude Children's Hospital. The tear-jerking type that I hate to watch. And Eli stared. Then he looked at me, and said, "Oma, they're sick. Those kids are really, really sick. A lot."

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Not many nights after that, I was cleaning while Patrick and Eli played in the living room. I heard Patrick tell Eli to go start getting ready for bed. Patrick assured Eli that he "would be there in just a minute to help." We usually give Eli a head start, as Eli can undress without help. In less than 2 minutes, Patrick began walking toward Eli's room, as Eli suddenly bounded down the hallway. Eli was completed changed into his pajamas.  Patrick asked if I helped him, and Eli &I both confirmed that, no, I hadn't. Upon further investigation, we found out that our 2.5 year old had independently taken off his shoes, socks, and school clothes. He had placed his shoes in their bin & his dirty clothes in the laundry room. He found his own pull-ups (we still use them at night/for naps), and put one on. Then, he dug out his favorite footie-pajamas, put them on & zipped himself up.  LOL!  We are still wondering how he did it so quickly!

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This morning, as I was driving Eli to his grandparents' house (they are watching him today, since it is so close to Christmas), we had a math discussion that tickled my math teacher bones. Patrick had made us some peanut-butter bananas (literally - bananas sliced in half & stuffed w the gooey goodness of peanut butter). He'd made 4 pieces.  Eli saw the container going into the car and started begging for one. NOT happening in my clean car!  But, I did tell him that I would save him 2 pieces. He got happy. I ate a piece. Eli's running commentary paused to tell me, "Hey! you ate-d one of your bananas. You only get one more, because that's TWO pieces. And then I get two pieces!" I love it when he adds and subtracts ; ).

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Eli surprised us the other day by coming home and reciting half of the "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" story his teachers had read to the class.  We were quickly able to snap a video of him reciting as much as he could remember. He's so cute, I can hardly stand it : ). We might have to invest in this particular book!

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Eli recently went to the live nativity at our church. He was happy to see Santa at first, but then he looked around and said "ALL my FRIENDS are here!!!" He proceeded to call his friends by name and raced to join them. He had a blast playing with his friends, drinking hot apple cider, and going outside to see the nativity and listen to the story of Christmas. He did eventually sit in Santa's lap, but that's one custom that he is not particularly fond of. I am still hoping to get a picture of him smiling in Santa's lap....

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Yesterday, Eli, Patrick, and I decided to build Christmas sculptures with Eli's Legos. We managed Santa's sleigh, a ton of candy canes, and a reindeer. Upon building the reindeer, Patrick looked at it and said, "It's missing something." Then, he added a red block for the reindeer's nose. I looked at it, and said, "It's missing something else." I placed a few brown blocks on the ground, beneath the reindeer's tail. Patrick asked, "What is that supposed to be?" Eli replied, "That's the poop, Appa! That's the reindeer poop!"  Yeah, I know.  Not very classy of me : ). Funny though - and Eli got a kick out of it!

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Also yesterday, as we were leaving Eli's school, his teacher stopped us, and let us know that one of the children left a small goodie bag for each of the other kids. Since Eli won't be back at school until January, his teacher wanted to make sure we got one. Eli left school, clutching his little gift bag (unopened) and said "Oma, I got a PRESENT!  From Scarlett!  Oh, I so happy!  A PRESENT!  For me! For Eli! It's so pretty!..."  You get the idea. This went on constantly for at least 30 minutes. Since he didn't open it until later that night, he kept bringing it up intermittently for almost 2 more hours. It's so funny...even at two, he is beginning to value the thought of a gift : ). I sincerely hope that this continues!!  I did tell him that for the last day of Christmas (the 25th) all of his family members were getting presents for him and for each other. It absolutely blew his mind. We had shocked, open-mouthed silence for several minutes. Even though we'd told him several times before, I don't think it truly sunk in until that very moment.   His first response was "WHY?"  I explained that we give each other presents on Jesus' birthday, to celebrate the gifts that Jesus gave us. He was floored by that. He asked about the presents from Jesus, and I reminded him that we light candles on our Advent wreath to celebrate them. He replied, "Oh! Cadnel (this is how he says 'candle') hope, cadnel pea ('peace'), cadnel jo-wie ('joy').  I don't think he really understands. I now wonder if he thinks that the actual candles are from Jesus rather than the abstract feelings...!
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One last little blurb for today. We were out looking, in a store, when Eli starting getting excited about a toy he saw. I walked him over to it, and asked him what he wanted the toy for (it was a little baby toy). He said, "I want to get it. That's for mine cousin Emma. She like it, Oma!"  He loves hearing from Uncle Lee, Aunt Miyu, and seeing pictures of Emma : ).

Monday, December 9, 2013

O Christmas Tree...

Yes, it's here...finally!  We have a Christmas tree.  Whew!  We normally get one during the first few days of December, but Thanksgiving was a little late this year, and December always takes me by surprise : ).  I did manage, of course, to put up our outdoor lights, but the tree somehow got left out - until yesterday, of course. We normally get a smallish tree from the local tree farm. Patrick really didn't want to get a Leyland Cypress tree again, since he's allergic. So at the tree farm, he looked at a few different types of tree as we drove through the farm, and he picked out...a Leyland Cypress.  As we were driving through the farm, the conversations went something like this:

Patrick: What kind of tress are those?
Me: Leyland Cypress
Patrick: Too bad, those are pretty. Hey! (Pointing at a different plot) What kind of trees are those over there?
Me: Leyland Cypress
Patrick: Are you kidding me?
Me: No, of course not. Follow the signs for the cedar and Virginia Pine trees.
Patrick: Ok. Hmmm...these trees look...different...
Me: Those are Virginia Pines. They have a pretty shape.
Patrick: Those branches won't hold a cat. Why don't we go look at the Leyland Cypress again?
Me: But you're allergic.
Patrick: But not to the smell. And I don't have to touch it...
Me:....???????

It the meantime, Eli is bouncing in his seat, repeatedly hollering "Christmas trees! Christmas trees!"

Nothing beats the smell of a fresh Christmas tree, be it cedar, cypress or fir - and, though this tree is much smaller than last year's, it seems so much fuller and prettier. As always, we let it sit in the tree stand overnight so that the cats can get used to it BEFORE we decorate - there's nothing quite like trying to untangle a cat from garland and lights!

Eli is thrilled to have to the tree in the house, and I think he's going to be over-the-top excited to start decorating it tonight. He is begging me to hurry up and make his Christmas stocking (he picked out fabric for it last week); especially since we saw Santa Claus at the tree farm yesterday. And Santa gave him a peppermint candy cane. Eli is now in love with Santa...it's almost the same reaction you'd get if you brought our cats a rotisserie chicken...suffice it to say - Eli is READY for Santa!! Our church is having a visit from Santa later this week, and Eli is already pumped up about that, too : ). Eli did a great job helping Patrick and I do a family reading for the second Sunday of Advent last week, and we're proud of him. He was more excited about "lighting two fires in church" than reading, though...thankfully his 'fires' were really the Advent candles ; ).

So back to the to-do list. Tonight, we will (finally) finish putting together a box to send to our family members in Japan. Although one of the hand-made gifts suffered an expected and very sad (but mostly repairable) mishap recently, all else is in good order and just needs to be packed up. To round off the week, we have a cookie exchange, a nativity presentation, and a visit to Santa....not to mention getting my students ready for finals...whew!

Why does it seem as though my Christmas 'to-do' list gets longer and longer, even though it should be getting shorter and shorter?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent, Week 1


Eli is very excited about his Advent calendar, and this week we've made peanut butter cookies, watched a Charlie Brown Christmas, hung our outside lights up (which Eli LOVES), and mailed our Christmas cards. Eli not only picked out the Christmas cards - he sat at his table and "signed" every. single. one. Then, he wanted to give everybody a Christmas sticker, so I let him put one on each envelope. To anymore who gets more than one...or who gets upside-down stickers...just know that Eli wanted you to have one.  I did keep one of the cards back to go in the scrapbook. Eli is at an age where any Christmas lights are giving him a little thrill, and luckily, our town does an amazing job decorating the square.  They put up so many lights, it is nearly blinding : ). We are still one of the few towns, too, I think, that displays a nativity - although ours is on the roof of our local coffee shop, rather than in the square itself. We are planning on getting "THE TREE" this weekend. Although we've had Leland cypress trees every year for a while, we recently discovered that Patrick may be allergic to them (judging by his reaction to our live Advent wreath), so we will have to decide on a new type.

Someone in our house, by the way, is very excited about Santa Claus, although I'm not sure how much he really understands. He still wants to ask Santa to fix his Pororo book (that he tore a page out of a few months ago), even though we keep trying to give him ideas. Patrick and I tried so hard to find a new copy of the book so that 'Santa' could "fix" it...but we have been unable to locate a copy for a reasonable price (all prices have been $50 or more, plus shipping from another county!).  I will keep looking, but I doubt very seriously that we'll be successful. We are taking him to see Santa on the 13th, with the other kids from his Sunday School class. He also has a new obsession with candy canes, and we're not sure why. Next week, though, we made sure to put finding good candy canes to decorate our Christmas tree part of his Advent activities.

And somehow this week, I finally made time to go through Eli's clothes and remove the 18 month sizes and many of the 2T sizes that are now too small. He blew through most of his 2T clothes in a month and a half. He still has some things that fit in that size...mostly pants...but it's another reminder that he is getting so big. Overall, he's gained 7 pounds and almost 3 inches this year. He is still only in the 5th percentile for US height/weight, but he is making up for lost time. He also still eats like a horse...or, as I have become fond of saying, he eats anything that doesn't outrun him.

On an interesting note, Eli decided that he needed to turn off the light in our living room about two nights ago. Patrick and I were shopping online for Christmas gifts & Eli made the announcement that he was going to turn off the lights.  Patrick and I kinda giggled, and said, "okay", because we knew Eli was too short to reach. Sure enough, Eli walked to the switch and said, "I can't reach!".  Then, to our surprise, he grabbed his chair, dragged it over to the light, climbed up and said, "uuugghhh!  I still can't reeeeaaaccchhh!".  We continued to watch as he went to his toy box, rummaged through it, and took out his spatula.  Just as we thought he was done trying to turn off the light, he walked to his chair, spatula in hand, climbed up and used his spatula to turn off the light....talk about tools that multitask! 




Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent 2013

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had an amazing turkey; Eli managed to eat an entire drumstick and part of a thigh, in addition to the veggies and pie...

Speaking of pie - on Wednesday, as I was rolling out gluten free dough to make pie crust for Thanksgiving, I realized that I have a decent bit leftover (I usually do). I grabbed a fondant roller & brought Eli in the kitchen to have some fun. Originally, I thought about letting him just play with the dough, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar and bake it...but this was enough for a small pie. So, I found a ramekin (that I usually use for crème brulee), and showed him how to roll the dough from the center of the ball.  He decided to make an apple pie with some cooked apples that I'd made earlier that day. He added cinnamon (he originally wanted to add pepper...I had to talk him out of it!) and brown sugar, and I baked it with our pumpkin and pecan pies. Oh, my....I am very glad that it was not a pie baking contest, because we all agreed after Thanksgiving dinner that his little apple pie was the most delicious pie we had! It was even better than my pumpkin pie (gasp!).

One of my goals last week was to create an Advent calendar for Eli. He understands that Christmas is a big deal, but he hasn't figured it all out yet. So, I thought that an Advent calendar would be one way to help him count down the days and better understand the whole celebration. We made a very simple one from a piece of posterboard (folded in half, with 24 windows cut out). Eli decorated it with stickers & we did our first activity yesterday.  The new church we've been going to has an Advent wreath-making night for the children, and we got to hang out with some new acquaintances, have a potluck dinner, and make an Advent wreath. It looks so pretty on our table & Eli was fascinated by lighting the first candle on the wreath last night. My hope was to get pictures of Eli doing each activity so that I have a small scrapbook from this year - but I forgot my camera last night! I also was thrilled that his Sunday school class is doing some really cute art projects throughout Advent & yesterday he came home with a handprint star. He was so proud of himself, and I was surprised at how well it came out. The ladies who teach the 2 & 3's at our church really do an unparalleled job teaching them!

We are very happy to be so near to the end of the semester. Only 3 weeks until semester break : )!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving is a-comin'!

One of my favorite holidays is quickly approaching: Thanksgiving! I love the fall colors, the activities at church, and many of the special things Patrick and I make the time for at this time of year. Normally, our students are just grateful that the end of the semester is near, and they are more jovial (and slightly less challenging!), which makes our days more pleasant. It is so much fun to be outside in the crisp weather and to curl up nice & cozy indoors when it gets cold.

This year, I have a few extra projects in mind for decorating the house for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I was able to get started this week - despite Eli and I both being under the weather for several days. YUCK!  Luckily, we are well, and Patrick seems to be only mildly affected by our germs : ).  We have managed to get a few strands of Christmas lights out of the garage...much to Eli's genuine delight. For him, Christmas seems like such a magical time already. He is in love with the music and the lights, and I can't wait until more people get decorated!  He doesn't remember Christmas from last year; but he absolutely LOVED seeing Stone Mountain decorated for Christmas even then. We will be taking him there at some point this year to see the lights (and Santa!), but he doesn't know that yet. 

We did get a box for Operation Christmas Child, to fill and send with our church's boxes.  (Did I mention how nice it is to feel like part of a church again?).  Eli really did have a hard time understanding what we were doing. I am still not sure if he was clear...when Susan asked him who the box of toys was for, he replied, "for a little boy who no have toys or an oma or an appa."  This is correct. However, when Pastor Doug asked him who the box was for, our dear little one said "for Pastor Jan."  Eli was surprised when he saw all of the OCC boxes ready to go - and I think he is getting a little bit of the message we are trying to send - it will just take time to set in.

On the other side, we have asked Eli what he really wants for Christmas from Santa Claus. We had expected him to say a few things, but what he said did surprise us both. A few months ago, he was clowning around with his favorite book, despite warnings to be careful. Sure enough, he ended up ripping a page in his book.  Eli's Christmas wish?  To get his book fixed.  Every time we've asked him, he gives us the same answer.

Patrick has had the statement that many dads want to hear from their sons, though. Eli saw a picture of Yoda when he and I were chatting, and said "OHH!  Yoda! Star Wars!" I said, "You know, Eli, Yoda has a movie called Star Wars. I think Appa has it on DVD."  In reply, Eli darted from the room, screaming "APPA!!  I want to watch Star Wars movie, PLEASE!!"  This was much nicer than the time Eli looked at Patrick (while Eli was using the restroom)  and said "APPA! Let me alone! I'm busy!". 

This seems to have become my theme song of late...but I will hopefully be able to update again a few times during the week...with pictures!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Catching Up (again)...

Ack! Once again, I find myself very behind in posting to this little space! We had a lovely break from school two weeks ago, that I definitely need to post about (more on this later...but HUGE thanks to Terri and Jack for such a wonderful time). Eli is growing so fast and learning so rapidly, that I feel as though my poor blog is having trouble catching up! Thanks to our vacation time, Eli now has a nearly insatiable interest in Buzz Lightyear and Mickey Mouse. My poor buddy had an ear infection last week, which was miserable, but he seems to have recovered nicely. He definitely enjoyed the extra time out of school, especially the two days he spent hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa.

Lately, Eli has discovered Legos...need I say more? I have taken some pictures of his creations...but he's had to explain to me what they were. He still loves building towers...and Lego tunnels for his trains to go through...but lately, he's become more creative, trying to build houses, trees (looks a lot like a tower), roads for his cars, etc. he absolutely adores playing with his little toy animals and will not hesitate to point out the different animals, explain how they are different, etc. he had a blast in PetSmart yesterday when one of the employees let him touch/pet one of the snakes being placed into a cage for sale.

He has really expressed an interest in riding the horses more lately, and I officially started teaching him to ride yesterday. We discussed how to use stirrups, how to sit properly, and how to post (in a standstill). I am going to have to find a smaller saddle or adjust mine so that he can practice with a horse in motion. He now has an attention span and body awareness that lasts at least 30 minutes, which means that I will start letting him ride Reno independently in the round pen. It is still small enough to keep Eli safe, but large enough to help him get a feel for truly being "in charge". We missed all of the fall shows, but will shoot for a spring show, if all goes well. He will be able to show in walk only classes, and by spring, he may be ready to show trot one-at-a-time classes. Of course, Reno needs to gain weight again, and get healthier. We are looking into some weight gaining questions with our vet.

Eli has become very expressive verbally, speaks in complete sentences most of the time, and uses all parts of speech. His sentences are frequently five or more words long. He is reading pretty well, when he gets in the mood. He really does have weeks at a time where he reads everything in sight, but then will not want to even look at a book for a couple weeks. we respect Eli's pace and follow his lead on what he wants to learn. He knows how to count reasonably well to twenty, recognizes some of his numbers, and has begun describing how adding and taking away objects changes the number of objects he has. For example, he will say things like, " I have five corn chips. I eat one, and I have four more corn chips." Eli is really cute and funny when he talks about his cousin Emma. he adores her pictures! We were at the store a few days ago, he looked at something I found, picked it up, and said "Oma, this for mine Emma!" Two weeks ago, we got very tired of hearing so many of Eli's sentences start with "I want..." or "I need..." for things like toys or treats. So we did teach him to say "May I please have...." It sure does make the conversation pleasant! Of course, I am still having to say so many things that I never thought would come out of my mouth...like "Son, please don't put your chopsticks in you nose."

Of course, now, much of our discussion now is about Halloween. Eli is very excited to carve his pumpkin this week, although I think he may be more excited about popping pumpkin seeds than the actual carving (we'll see what happens tonight...). We actually went ahead and made our big pot of Halloween chili on Sunday - half of which has already disappeared. Somebody ate two large bowls of chili last night for dinner...then begged for more for breakfast. Patrick satisfied our little customer with a bit of homemade chicken soup that happened to be in the fridge! We are hoping to go to a local church's small carnival/trunk or treat instead of going door to door, because I think that will be more enjoyable for Eli.

We are also hoping to go see Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber again in a couple weeks at the Rock Ranch....

Friday, September 27, 2013

And Eli says...

After a crazy busy start to the school year, I am trying to get back to updating our blog!  I decided to start with a short interview, just to get started again. Someone is doing very well with his 2-3 year old preschool group, and is learning so much!  Aside from counting & beginning to read, Eli's speech has come so far. It is so strange to hear such long sentences in a tiny voice from a half-pint toddler - although he didn't do much of that tonight (he was too busy playing Wii MarioKart with Appa). However, he actually asked questions of the animal caretakers at the GA Aquarium when we went a couple weeks ago...he asked one employee what the sea anemones eat, and another if the Beluga whales like to play toys.  He was a little concerned when he found out that anemones eat fish...because, after all, Nemo is a fish who lives in an anemone...

At any rate, tonight's brief interview:

What is your favorite movie?
 Monsters & Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story)

What do you want to be when you grow up?
ummm....BIG! (throws up hands for emphasis) - and a cow. And acupuncturist.

Who is the best superhero?
Nana nana nana nana....BATMAN!!

How high can you count?
Seventeen, Oma.

What is your favorite word? (I really thought he'd say NO)
s-t-o-p spells stop  (should I take the hint??  He usually uses this when he is backseat driving in the car).

What is your favorite color?
Ummmmm....gray. Or brown.  (What??  Oh yeah...he loves camo...)

What is your favorite book?
Green & Ham.  Skippyjon, and Pete the Cat.  (That would be Green Eggs & Ham).

Who is Turtle Man?
He catches turtles, and racoons, and good snakes and bad snakes, and coyotes. Yi yi yi!  (Eli LOVES the Turtle Man)

What do you like to eat?
fish tacos and pork and okra and greek pizza with artichokes

(really...he'll eat anything that doesn't outrun him).

Hopefully, we will be able to get more caught up soon. I do have some pictures of Eli that I keep meaning to upload, but I haven't. I will have to do a better job keeping up here!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Precocious?

I have been asking myself a lot lately whether Eli is precocious or possibly gifted.  Apparently, I am one of the last people who knows Eli to actually admit that he is possibly gifted in an intellectual sense. I'm not sure it matters, except that I don't want him to be bored when he actually starts school. Please don't assume this is simply a mommy brag (even though I am very proud of my son for many reasons). I have been hearing a lot of negative comments, and simply get very weary sometimes of hearing them. I have been hearing a lot of comments like "He's smart because he is Asian," " Oh, he is smart because you guys are teachers," or, my personal fav, " You guys should stop pushing him and let him be a kid." Because of this, and although I am writing about it tonight, I rarely talk about Eli's successes to anyone other than immediate family or Eli's teachers.

Some people have NO idea. All of the above comments drive me batty. For one, we are not pushing him. Eli has a fair amount of patience and attentiveness, but he IS A TODDLER. Meaning, he WILL NOT do what he does not want to do. How hard is it to keep a toddler sitting still - for ANYTHING? Okay, Eli will sit very still for a long time (15 minutes or more) if food is involved...or glue (he likes to glue things together)...or if he is involved in anything he thinks he is not allowed to do. He is very self-directed, and decided on his own about several months ago that he wanted to learn to read. If you remember from previous posts, we only introduced him to words he asked about. I do humor him, and help him for a few minutes at a time when we have a chance, but we don't work on reading nearly as much as Eli would prefer. Honestly? Until August, we didn't even work on reading on a even on a weekly basis. Meaning that, some weeks, we didn't even read to our son. Oohh...hurts as a teacher to admit that particular parenting fail. Now, he's obssessed with the library, and I find myself reading more and more with him. I have to set time limits on things like iPad apps that teach reading (and, honestly, I also have to set limits on FruitNinja), shows like "Super Why" and the number of times he is allowed to count everything in sight. Actually, most of his reading comes in fits and starts, and can be alarming. One such example is when a happy oma is driving down the road and hears "STOP!!" shouted from the backseat. After a VERY quick application of the brakes, it is not as funny as you'd think to realize that your child was reading a stop sign...especially when you turn to ask him what's wrong, and he replies very calmly (and sweetly), "S-T-O-P spells stop. There stop sign. See Oma? It's right there." I now know every stop sign in the tri-county area. It's self-defense against future panic attacks.

Here's more of an update, and less of a rant:

Eli is two and a half on Friday. He knows and recognizes his upper and lower case letters in any context. He is trying to write letters....even though his little hand can usually only manage o, i, c, l, and E, with the occasional A or M thrown in. He knows many letter sounds and some blends. We are not always sure which ones he knows because he frequently surprises us with  sounds and blends we did not know that he'd figured out. He is reading many words that he has memorized (20+) and loves to spell familiar words. He loves rhyming words, and is picking up on word families and is becoming quite good at sounding out many words. Today, he began reading entire (very simple) sentences from a beginning reader that his Grandpa had ordered for him to look at. As in, he picked up the book, read several words with no help, then asked for help with the word "seal." It is humbling to listen to your two year old read "I am a seal." "I see no man." etc.

And counting? When Eli is in the mood, he can count independently quite high...sometimes eighteen or twenty, sometimes higher, as the mood strikes him. People sometimes think he learned to count from me, since I am a math teacher...um, nope - he learned the same way I did....too much Sesame Street.

Conversation? Eli can talk the ears off corn. So much for the possible language delays that our first pediatrician worried about when he came home. And while much of his speech is still broken (like a toddler's usually is), and sometimes difficult to understand, he can be very sophisticated with his language, too. While many children his age are putting together two and three words, Eli is frequently using sentences with several adjectives, and tends to speak in five or more word sentences when he really gets going (though he still rarely uses the word "the" and often, though not always, refers to himself as "Eli" instead of "I"). Sentences we hear are like "I want to watch Monsters movie on big TV with Grandma, Grandpa, Oma, and Appa. Eli can get popcorn and a lot candy, too!" Or, my new favorite quote when I picked Eli up from school the other day "I had time out, um I hit Sevin, aaaannnnndddd I had aminal cookie and juice at school. Orange juice"  I love how he slips in the animal cookie bit with the admission that he'd gotten in trouble for whacking his buddy...Nice.  Oh, and he does say aminal instead of animal ; ). Not actually a mis-spelling, just wanted to spell it like he says it!

Eli has his share of favorite things to do, too. Any plant or animal is interesting to him. He could watch wildlife shows on TV all day, every day. He is a "Call of the Wildman" addict and has a special fascination with aquatic animals. I will never mistake a manta ray for a sting ray again, or for that matter, an sea anemone for a sea urchin while Eli is around ; ). He like to look through his toy animals (of which he has collected quite a few) and play with the whale shark, beluga whale, otters, sea turtle, etc. We are currently arguing about whether one particular animal is called an "elephant" or a "Horton", but I am sure we will get it settled at some point, lol. He dearly loves an iPad app that allows you to take care of animals in a veterinary hospital...the app mostly has him cleaning their teeth and ears, but he is so proud to "help" them : ).

Eli is also loving trains, trucks, planes, etc. He is loving shoes and hats (like wearing a fireman's hat or construction hat to pretend). He still adores riding both his bike and his horsie (Reno). We are going to let him show Reno (who is an actual horse, for those of you who really don't know us) at a saddle club show this fall.

Finally, Eli is loving music. He adores trying to play Appa's trumpet, Oma's baritone or French horn, or Grandpa's trombone. He knows how to produce sound on brass instruments by buzzing his lips and is learning how to change notes/pitch. He has learned how to play piano with his fingers instead of the palms of hands, and loves his toy piano (it "talks" to an iPad app and allows him to play music games using the toy piano as the controller). I finally got out my trumpet from my high school band days and gave it to him. While he is not allowed to get it out without help, he adores "playing" any chance he can get. While the sounds he makes mostly sound like noises produced by a very sick cow (hehe), he tries so hard to match the notes we play that he improves noticeably each time he tries.

I am soooo gonna record him "playing" soon...we need this on video!

I guess that's all for now. We ALL remain VERY, VERY excited for Eli's cousin, Emma, to be born soon. He now asks us about Emma every day, and likes to point out toys or baby clothes that he thinks Emma might like ; ).  We wish we could be there with Eli's aunt and uncle, but they are a long way away. At least we have phones and F@cetime!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Everybody's Special...

So, recently, Patrick did something goofy, and I started singing the old song "Everybody's Special". He had the opportunity to turn it around on me probably about an hour later.  Anyone who knows the song (lyrics below) knows that the tune is a bit of an ear worm, and will stick in your head for quite some time. In other words, Eli's heard this particular tune...and loves it.

The lyrics are:

Special
Special
Everyone is special
Everyone in his or her own way...

So, yesterday, Patrick was making me laugh in the car, so I started quietly giggling and singing. From the backseat, we unexpectedly hear Eli's remix of the song...

Eli's Remix lyrics:

Spetchul
Spetchul
Appa is spetchul...

And since I laughed so hard that I couldn't breathe, it is now Eli's favorite song to sing...I am just waiting on him to break it out in public...poor Patrick! And as hard as Patrick has tried to get Eli to leave his name out of the song, Eli is even more determined to keep his lyrics intact...lol!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Eli's First Movie

Today, we took Eli to the movie theater for the very first time. He loved watching the first Monsters, Inc movie at home, so we took him to see the new one, Monsters University. And yes, this does contain some spoilers.

For several days, Eli was really excited about "going to see the monsters on the really big TV, and having popcorn, and Sprite, and going with Grandma, Grandpa, Oma, and Appa."

I was a little worried that Eli would get fidgety or loud, or that he might find the theater overwhelming. But, he is so good when we watch movies at home, I knew there was a 99 percent chance all would be well.

OMG.

The things I learn about my child when we do something new.

First, Eli loved the movie. Loved it. He was still sneaking up on us (well, sort of), and making "monster growls" hours later. And asking for more candy and popcorn. And asking if we could have a really big TV like the one in the theater.

BUT...he did cry twice during the movie.

He surprised me both times.

Now, I was a little worried when I saw some of the characters...some were intimidating, and other children in the theater were frightened by them. They were not a problem for Eli. Neither were the loud noises, scary growls, etc. he loved those parts.

Near the end, the hat worn by Mike (the green monster) is damaged. Mike loved that hat. Eli cried. And asked me several times about Mike's hat. He was able to stop crying when I suggested that they might fix Mike's hat or get him another one, and when I pointed out that Mike was okay.

Even closer to the end, it becomes apparent that Mike and Sully (the two main characters...er monsters) are going to part ways. Eli. Melted. Down. I mean, true, sad, heart wrenching sobs. He could not stand the thought of them being apart. Some of this, I know, goes back to his fear of losing those close to him (he has a lot of very real anxiety about this)...but I didn't make the connection until Eli's grandma reminded me. At the time, all I could do was soothe him, and try to help him understand that the movie would have a happy ending, if he could stick it out.

He did stop crying long enough to watch the rest of the movie, and the end did make him happier. He did ask about the part that made him cry several times, and we explained the plot to him until he was satisfied.

Later, we had more tears, though.

We were picking blackberries at his grandparents' house. Eli, very proud to have helped pick a gallon or so of berries, went to show his grandp the berries, only to trip over a rock and fall down. When he began to cry, I rushed to pick him up, thinking he was hurt. He did have a scraped knee, but he did not care....he was crying because he spilled the berries! Poor buddy. He is as tough as nails in most respects, but very sensitive in others. I love that he is so empathetic to others, and that he has so much inner strength. It makes me very proud of him.




Saturday, June 29, 2013

ABC's, A Quick Update, and Two Commercials

Eli recognizes all of his ABC's. He has even taken to looking in his books to,point out his fav letters. However, he still does not know all of the "ABC" song.

This is what we have been hearing:

     ABC! ELMO P. WXYZ. WXYZ. Now I know my E G J's!! Yay!

Eli is growing and changing so fast. His opinions are even more definite, and he loves to pick out clothes that he likes in the store (anything with certain superheroes - Batman, Superman, Spider-Man; trains (Thomas); Pororo; cars - Mater). You get the idea. Cargo shorts are another love....because of the pockets.

Eli is even learning how to do certain new chores. He loves to help wash plastic dishes in the sink and to run the electric sweeper (it is one of those little 1 pound, battery operated ones) after dinner (with a LOT of help!). He is still helping feed the dogs, and has become very good at it. He is great about putting his toys and shoes away in the evening, putting his clothes in the hamper, and he will throw away his "night pants".... glorified pull-ups....in the morning.  He is nowhere near ready to potty train at night, but he is fully trained during the day. A lot of what he does is response to our routine, but we are proud of him anyway : ).

As long as I am updating, I have to include a couple of product reviews. I know, it is not usually my style, but I have special reasons. I have not been paid by either company or anything, these are just two items we love.


First, we have a LadyBug toy that projects stars onto the ceiling. It's basically a nightlight of a few constellations. It has multiple colors and a 45 minute timer. It has been an absolutely wonderful thing to have. It was a gift to us from a dear friend (thanks, Carol P!) before Eli came home. Eli finds the stars very comforting, and especially loves the green ones. The device is simple enough for him to turn on if he wakes during the night, too. We placed it on a shelf next to Eli's bed so that he can reach it easily when he wants it. We love that it is on a timer, too, so that it goes off without me having to do anything. He has actually worn out some of the LED lights in it, after a year of hard and frequent use,  so we will probably need to replace it soon.

The other product is one that we just found, and are so excited about. Eli remains highly interested in musical instruments, and knows several of them by sight and sound. He is getting more consistent with getting sound out of a trumpet or trombone, he loves my dulcimer, and loves his toy guitar and
saxophone.He has been most recently fascinated by the piano. We have one, but it is not really in
working condition. Today, while out and about, we found a keyboard that interacts directly with an app on Apple devices. Using the app and the keyboard together creates some truly engaging and fun games, and it really helps kids learn the basics of a keyboard. Love, love, love it...and it was $20 (with a free app).

So, while I apologize for the commercials, these two items are worth the mention.
 : ).

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Potty Training Update...the Dirty Details

So, most of you know, we have been potty training.  Eli has had a lot of good success at home, with few accidents (though the ones he had were because of distractions). We have been daytime diaper free for quite a while, though. However, because of the policies of Eli's school, he has had to wear pull ups there until he was accident free for two weeks. Yesterday marked the first day Eli was allowed to  wear underwear at school - and he was successful!  No accidents! My friend, whose un-potty trained child is a year older than Eli, is drooling with envy.

Because we started when Eli was so little, the process, from start to where we are now, was probably longer than it would have been had we started when he was a little older, but the time we've taken feels worthwhile. Eli was ready to start and very interested in the potty at 19 months or so. From that time, until just after Eli turned two, we had Eli sit on his potty whenever we went to the bathroom, and celebrated every success with a high five. When we noticed that Eli needed to use the bathroom, from his posture or his facial expressions,  we would immediately take him and pull off his diaper or pull up, and put him on the potty. Our emphasis was on HOW to use the potty, but we did not pressure Eli to use it every time. I just wanted to make sure that when it came time for Eli to use the potty instead of a diaper that he understood how to do it. This method did, however, save us a lot of, um, "messy" diaper changes. At school, he joined the group of potty trainers last fall, where his teachers, a few times a day, have the children go to the bathroom, practice removing pants and pull ups, sit on the potty, etc. The teacher would give the children stickers on a chart for every time they completed the potty routine, whether they actually "went" or not. Again, with kids so little, the goal was to teach them "how" in a no pressure, but rewarding, format.

Around the beginning of April, we noticed that Eli was really ready to move toward using underwear.    So, a few hours a day, we let Eli strut around in underwear to try them out. EPIC FAIL.

Eli thought the underwear were just really cool diapers. Egad! After going through all of his underwear quicker than my carpet cleaner would like to remember, we put him back in pull ups. But, Eli knew very well how to potty, and had the ability to recognize when he needed to go. So, Patrick and I decided to try the 3 day method with Eli, starting Memorial Day weekend.

We had fabulous results. The method we used suggested that Eli wear nothing below the waist for several days, receive a small reward for using the potty (we used chocolate chips) and that he participate in cleaning up accidents. This meant we were definitely at home for a while. We even got Eli a new potty seat for the occasion (it fits the regular toilet) and he liked it much better than the toddler potty he had previously used.  The first day was riddled with accidents, and I was almost ready to give up. But, after hearing what some other bloggers have said, I decided to press on. The second day was not much different than the first. Sometime during the third day, something clicked in Eli's mind. He had only two minor accidents that day. He only had two more accidents that week, and both were in new situations. I do owe a large volume chain store a sincere apology for the puddle on the floor. And, for all of our sakes, I declined to post the picture of said puddle that my husband snapped on his cell phone while laughing hysterically.

Success!

I am glad that I keep wipes and a wet bag, with a change of clothes in the car, (just in case), but I am very proud of Eli. He has figured out that when we are out and about, restrooms are everywhere, so training outside the home was a snap.  We still have certain times Eli must try to potty....when he first gets up in the morning, before/after meals, before/after nap, etc. We did learn the hard way to make Eli stop and potty every hour and a half that we are out at a playground. Luckily, the other parents thought our son's waterworks were quite funny. But other than that, we try to let him tell us. We do realize that if it has been more than two hours or so, that he probably should go,  but he has been pretty good about either asking us for help or taking himself potty.

As a result, I redesigned some parts of our hall bathroom to be more accessible to Eli. Eli got a new step for the adult potty, along with the new Elmo potty seat. He also got a new step to help him reach the sink on his own. We laid out all of his things-hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc, on the counter, well within his reach. Eli even picked out a new decorative towel....one designed with the characters of the new monster movie. He had a tough choice between that and a B@tman towel. B@tman is really big around here these days. We still do help (and supervise) Eli in the bathroom .. But mostly for safety reasons...and because I would really rather Eli not have his personal water park in there!

Eli is very, very proud of himself. I was really concerned about using chocolate chips to teach him to go potty. I was afraid that he would always want a reward for something that I knew he would soon master. However, after the first few days, Eli said that he needed to potty, and that he didn't want a chocolate chip. He asked for a chocolate chip for going potty last week, which I did give him, but he rarely thinks about the external reward. He is more focused on the fact that we call him a "big boy" for using the potty. He loves that title, and does not hesitate to correct anyone who accidentally calls him a baby...he squares himself up to his full 2 ft 9 inch height, puts his hands on his hips, and declares " I A BIG BOY".

Lol....heaven help us with our "big boy".... I think we will need it : )!



.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Washy, washy, washy!

Okay, so imagine Eli, covered in shampoo, in the middle of Wal-Mart, shouting "Washy, washy, washy!!"

How DID this happen???

Allow me a quick detour in this tale of woe...

It's no secret that we've been potty training, and we decided a little more than a week ago that diapers and training pants were done for daytime (though we break the rules for nighttime, Eli isn't ready for nighttime potty training).  Eli is now absolutely fascinated with everything potty right now.  He even used his allowance to buy a kid's potty training book at a yard sale.

How are the two connected?  Stay with me a moment...

One of the pages in the book says to make sure to "washy, washy" after going "potty, potty".  Eli loves to wash his hands.  It's one of his favorite pages in the book.

We bought shampoo at Wal-Mart tonight. It was riding innocently enough in the cart, and I was mildy distracted, looking at a book, and I heard Eli say "Washy, washy, washy!".  Knowing he was safely beside me, and having heard him say this so much lately, it did not immediately occur to me that something was not quite right.

Then, I heard a squeal of joy, and "Washy, Washy, WASHY!!".  I looked over at my now-sudsy, slippery toddler, who was delighted with himself.

A passing Wal-Mart employee looked at us with extreme pity, and directed us to the nearest restroom. I was able to hose the baby off in the sink, which he thought was a great fun. When I returned to find Patrick, he was shaking with hysterical laughter two aisles over; he didn't see the action, but he heard the whole thing : ).

Hilarity abounds : ).  And having a very slippery sudsy toddler trying to hug me in the middle of Wal-Mart, hollering " I LUV YOU OMA!!  HUG, OMA!!"....well, I do love it.  At least we don't embarrass easily : ).

And at least he didn't do it in the middle of the night - like I did to my mom years ago...

Friday, May 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Learning to use Pororo chopsticks : ) !


{Upside down chopsticks don't work??}
 
 

{Giving it another go...}
 
 
 
{Success!!}

 
 


Friday, May 10, 2013

Conversations with Eli at 26 months old

Instead of my usual, rambling, developmental post, I decided to post some answers to questions that I've asked Eli.

Me: What's your favorite food?
Eli: HASHBROWNS!  KETCHUP!!  chicken....HASHBROWNS!!  cheese?

(In actuality - Eli will eat anything that isn't nailed down...he especially likes seafood, Thai curries, and spicy food, like salsa and kim chi - but there's no denying he's a hashbrown fanatic and will eat ketchup or salsa on virtually anything...including cookies (yuk!)).

Me: What's your favorite color?
Eli: geen. Or bwoo. red. porple. ellow. oraned. why. PINK! geen?

Translation: Eli likes a lot of colors. Including green (geen), blue (bwoo), red, purple (porple), orange (oraned), white (why), pink. We repeated this conversation later with his Grandpa, but Eli was not in the mood.  He definitely likes to make his own decisions!

Me: What do you want to do this afternoon?
Eli: Go play. Rocky. Ride bike. scooter. snack?  oooohhh....choo choo?? ELMO! paint? bubbles? book! snack? Sadie, NO!  OMA, Eli go play?

Translation: Eli enjoys a lot of activies, this include the playground at the park (Eli calls this the "go play"), playing with Rocky the dog (okay, so he gets Rocky to pull his scooter around), and riding his balance bike. He does consider snacking and bossing Sadie (the cat) around as fun activities; the rest is self-explanatory.

FYI: Sadie the cat is pretty convinced that Eli is her kitten, whom she must watch over and nurture every second of the day.  At home, she's his near-constant companion. This poor kitty tolerates a lot of bossing...but Eli loves to bring her toys.  And when he cries, NO ONE is faster at reaching Eli's side than Sadie.

A few nights ago, when Eli woke crying from a nightmare, I brought him to my bed, and Sadie cuddled with us.  For over an hour, Eli lay quietly beside me, petting Sadie (who was purring her heart out on my tummy) saying "uv oo Sadie...uv oo oma...uv oo appa..." over and over til he fell back asleep.

Back to the conversations:

Me: How old are you, Eli?
Eli: THREE!!
Me: Eli, you're two.
Eli: Eli THREE!!
Me: Eli, you're two.
Eli: "Eli two?"
Me: Yes, Eli is two.
Eli: Eli THREE!

Me: We're going to the store.
Eli: Steeore? Dollar?
Me: Yes, you can take some of your dollars.  How many do you want?
Eli: One, two, tree.  Tree dollar.
Me: Okay, here are three dollars from your wallet.
Eli: Feeore!  Eli want Feeore!
Me: Four dollars? Really?
Eli: Ne! Feeore! (translation: Yes, four)
Me: Okay. Here's a fourth dollar.
Eli: Pocket dollars!

Eli usually takes dollars to the store.  He rarely spends anything, though he gets a dollar a week allowance. He still has 90% of his birthday money from March. He spent some dollars to get his scooter (yard sale), a hula hoop, Thomas the Tank sunglasses, a Pororo book, a Veggietales Bible cover, and some on a Thomas the Tank pillow.

Me: Hey, we need to go feed the horses.
Eli: GRAMMA!  GRANDPA!
Me: Yes, we will see Grandma & Grandpa when we get there.
Eli: Ride? Ride horhie? Ride Reno horhie? (trans: I want to ride Reno, the horsie)
Eli: Wawer gahden?  (trans: May I water the garden?)
Eli: EGJs! Grandpa gramma!

Someone LOVES to go to Gramma and Grandpa's house : ).

Eli: Watch Choo-choo? (trans: May I watch Thomas the Tank Engine?)
Me: Not right now. Do you want to watch Sesame Street?
Eli: ELMO!!
Eli: Watch Pororo?
Me: Sesame Street
Eli: ELMO!!

Somebody loves certain Korean cartoons, and as much as he used to love Spongebob Squarepants, we have been able to gently guide him away from it to programs that are a little more educational for him. He loves to watch Pororo and Thomas the Tank (both in Korean). He also loves the Korean cartoons Bernard Bear and Viva Larva. When Eli does watch TV, we try to limit his English viewing to Sesame Street or VeggieTales - leaving the "fun" stuff for Korean, to try to help him remember what he knew before he came home.

Me: It's Wednesday.
Eli: nastics?  (trans: gymnastics?)
Me: Yes, we'll go to gymnastics.
Eli: YAY!!

Me: It's Friday.
Eli: Dollar?
Me: Yes, you get a dollar on Friday.
Eli: Dollar!  Ayowan (trans: allowance).

Arriving home after school:

Eli: Grass tall. (he sighs).  Oma broke the lawn mower. (sighs again). 
Me: Yes, I broke the lawnmower.  It was an accident!
Eli: Tractor steore fit it? (trans: Is the tractor store fixing it?)
Me: Yes, they are
Eli: Need babbery? (trans: Does it need batteries?)
Me: No, no batteries. Oma broke it.

A side note here...Eli's pretty sure that we can fix ANYTHING with a wrench, screwdriver and batteries...and the above conversation is verbatim.  It's the only time I've ever heard Eli use the word "the" in any context.

Me: (trying to fix a bicycle odometer); Aw, man!  I think it needs a watch battery!  I can't get the back off to see!
Eli: Oma babbery? (Oma, do you need a battery?)
Me: Yeah, but I can't open it.  I need a screwdriver.
Eli runs off, and brings me a screwdriver from his Appa's toolbox on the other side of the garage.

I've probably gone on more than I should...but Eli has become quite the talker lately. He asks questions about everything...and he's putting together some really good sentences. 

The last conversation for the post:

Me: What's your favorite movie?
Eli: JONAH!!
Eli: Whale eat Jonah!!
Me: That's right buddy.
Eli: Listen to Jonah in car?
Me: Yeah. Which song?
Eli: Jonah!

His favorite song is currently Billy Joe McGuffy, and he's singing part of it...but he calls all of the songs on the CD "Jonah song".  I can't believe how fast he's growing up!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Triking and Biking

Eli has always been very capable, physically, for his age - usually limited only by his short stature in his pursuits. He is a very active toddler, and he is very used to learning physical activites easily.

BUT - there's one thing Eli has wanted to do that he has been struggling with. Eli has been desperate to ride a bike like the "big boys" at his school.  He has tried to ride the tricycles at school using the "Fred Flintstone" method of pushing with his feet.  Unfortunately, this resulted in a pretty rough day at school when he flipped tricycle, and scraped his chin, hands, & knees. Undaunted, Eli has really tried - and I mean EVERY DAY- to learn to pedal his tiny trike at home, but his coordination hasn't been quite good enough to manage this feat. But each day after school, he'd race for his trike, get on and lose a long, desperate battle with the pedals - even when I tried to help him.

We admire Eli's determination and grit. So, we got Eli a push bike (a bike with no pedals that kids push along with their feet).  Unfortunately, the smallest push bike on the market - on the absolutely smallest setting - it STILL too big for Eli.  He tried to get on it after we put it together - and when he realized that it was too big, he had a meltdown.  Poor baby.  It's really hard for him to see his friends and playmates able to do something that he just hasn't learned yet. While we CAN get the push bike modified to make it even smaller - by a specialist bike shop that can cut down the seat post - this will have to wait until Patrick or I can make it to the shop this summer (since the shop closes earlier than we normally get out of school).

A little frustration is healthy.  Too much frustation - especially on almost daily basis - is overwhelming.  So, we put the trike and bike out of sight and re-introduced Eli to a scooter I'd found at a yard sale (a 3-wheeled, stable, toddler design). VERY thankfully, it is Eli's size now (it was too big when he first tried it).  He has figured out how to push one foot on the ground to make the scooter go - which he loves.  Then he put Rocky's leash over the top of the scooter, and got his favorite dog to pull him around a little at the park while I walked alongside. Dog and boy alike had a magnificent time!  Rocky is a large, geriatric, arthritic dog that loves attention - and Eli is a tiny boy that loves to "walk" Rocky. It was the perfect match. I was dying for my camera, which I'd left at home : (.  I will remember it next time!!! 


Skip ahead a few days...

The characters of Sesame Street, along with Eli's favorite character, ELMO - had to go and have an ENTIRE SHOW about how much fun bike riding can be.   Seriously.  Eli and I were subjected to an hour of how much fun Elmo has riding his trike, and how he wanted to teach his friend how to ride her trike...and on and on... Eli was exceptionally interested and engrossed in this episode.  But, of course, this reminded Eli about his bike. At the end of the show, he sighed and quietly (almost tearfully) asked "Eli ride bike?" I told him that he could try his tricycle for a few minutes if he wanted to.

Soooo....

Eli got on his trike. He put his feet on the pedals. He made funny noises as he pushed with both feet as hard as he could.  I got down beside him and showed/reminded him to push ONE foot at a time - like Elmo.

And a miracle happened.

Eli pedaled that tricycle down the short side of our front walk - all by himself.

It was only a few feet - but when Eli reached the corner - he didn't know whether to laugh or cry - but he was shouting "I ride bike! Like ELMO!" His little face was lit up with wonder and smiles.

I was so excited for him. He worked so hard to learn!  He practices a little each day now, and is able to get more and more consistent.  He still needs help steering, and he does have trouble reaching the pedals in certain positions with those little legs of his, but he is sooo proud!  And so are we! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Title

Once again, I am playing with the look and features of our blog.  I decided to change the name of our blog (though the web address will stay the same for now) because our lives have changed so drastically in the last year.

Last year, Patrick and I were still in the adoption process, and hadn't met our Eli yet.  We were still a quiet married couple, pursuing adoption. Our former blog title, Our Adoption Adventure, described our focus really well, because the blog, up until we met Eli and brought him home, was about the process of Eli's adoption.

WELL....

That's not our focus anymore. We have Eli home. He's OURS - and the focus of this blog is now about how much we love our little boy and how he's growing!

IS this part of the adventure of it all?  Of course! But, just like Eli, we've "outgrown" the old one!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

2 Years Old!

Someone just turned two! 

Actually, someone is really 25 months old and his mommy has not posted to her blog in a loooonggg time.  So this is a loooonnnggg post. Oops! I have a ton of pictures to post, too, but I will get caught up on pictures in another post : ).  Thankfully, it's Spring Break, and I am having a chance to get caught up on a lot of things.

Now, on to what the little man has been up to!

It's funny, it's like someone flipped a switch on Eli's birthday that just accelerated how fast he is learning new things (And yes, this is a bit of a mommy-bragging post).

Language, for example. We can't believe how well Eli is doing in this respect. Language is something that Eli genuinely struggled with when he first came home (for obvious reasons). He was saying a three or four words in Korean clearly, but that was all. Now, Eli is consistently speaking in 3-5 word sentences and loves to tell short "stories" about what happened during the day (or what he would like to happen), like "Eli eat pizza, Oma eat pizza, Appa eat pizza. G-g eat pizza? No, G-g NO PIZZA.  G-g tummy OW!" was one of our favorites because it showed us that he really understood that his great-grandma had a stomache-ache that day.  And, it was really funny to see him grab his tummy and pretend like he had a tummy ache (or, in an unrelated story, pretend to snore in his sleep like Grandpa). Eli uses a wide variety of words, though he really doesn't use very many pronouns, (except the word MINE). Oddly, the baby who resisted being read to AT ALL (as in, had a full blown meltdown-style tantrum every time we tried) now recognizes certain words when written down.  And this hasn't come from us reading TO him, but from Eli's natural curiosity from watching us read. We started a game last month in the car with a notepad & pencil, where Eli will ask us a word, and one of us (whomever is not driving) will write it down, and Eli will either look at it, ask for a new word, or draw.  He asks for the same words over and over, so he now recognizes several of them; mostly words like "Grandpa," "Gramma," "Eli," "Oma," and "Appa."  However, being our son, he does sometimes ask for what some people would consider unusual words, like "Happy," "Trombone," and "Hashbrowns" (and, yes, he knows all 3 of these). He now actually seems to enjoy books, and being read to, and he likes to point out letters and words that he knows when we read together.  His favorite book right now is "Dr. Suess's ABC" because he can read part of it. He only knows about half of his ABC's, but it's really cute when he sees writing and tries to point out the letters he knows.  Of course, those who know Eli know that he doesn't call his letters the "ABCs," he calls them his "EGJs."  E, G, and J are consistently his favorite letters. We know he likes E because Eli starts with E, and G because Grandpa and Gramma start with G, but we haven't figured out the attraction to J. When we try to sing the ABC song with him, he shouts"EGJ EGJ" at the top of his lungs until we stop singing, looks at us and says "AGAIN!".

Eli does use fewer Korean words than he use to, and Patrick and I are working to try to help him start using them again. He still understands us very well when we speak to him in Korean, though. And when we go to Mozart's cafe/bakery (a Korean-owned store), he will respond in Korean to the ladies there, and understands them well, too. A friend of ours, Kyong, has started helping us with our Korean, too (she's the same friend who helped us before we went to Korea). It's hard sometimes to fit in a visit with her, but we did make it a point to see her this week. We would like very much for Eli to be as bilingual as possible : ). He does try to repeat phrases when he hears one of us working on Rosetta Stone - also very cute!

What's next? Physically, Eli is still very, very strong for his age. He also has excellent balance. Although we haven't been able to go to gymnastics but two or three times since New Year's, he is learning to jump up and down, gallop, stand on one foot (his left foot) and climb stairs by alternating his feet.  He's also into climbing virutally ANYTHING, and absolutely adores riding Reno (the horsie). We'd wanted to take him to a horse show, but Reno had a tough winter (he's 33) and will need a little while to gain back some of the weight he'd lost (we seem to be on the right track now). Eli loves his little red wagon (both riding in and pulling around), and his scooter. He keeps seeing other kids riding bikes, and he's really wants to try, but he still can't pedal very well. He pushes against pedals with both feet at the same time!

Eli's interests are also blossoming. He is obsessed with fish and animals of any types (especially orange fish named NEMO), cooking, traffic signals, and any car, truck, motorcycle, train, tractor, etc.  I have begun to get used to hearing things from the backseat of our car like "Oooo, Oma! Big green truck!" and "STOP! Red light!!".  Eli has very definite taste in clothing, and I have begun letting him select some of his own clothes from the store.  He also likes to rummage around in his dresser and choose some of his own clothes. Sometimes, like on Sunday, I have to remind him that we dress differently for church, and he understands at these times that we choose clothes from the closet.  LOL! He's actually a pretty snappy dresser. He chooses very "preppy" looks most of the time, and loves looking at himself in the mirror.  We do have to still bring a change of clothes for after church, because someone prefers to feed himself (with no help) and is a bit messy. Someone also cannot tolerate a bib. Such is toddler life.  Eli has been avidly interested in cooking lately, too. He got his very own pot and spoon for his birthday, and loves to pretend to cook. He also loves to help me cook - doing activities like stirring, and pouring. But I did think it was funny - the other day, I was making spaghetti sauce, and let him taste.  He smacked his lips thoughtfully and asked for a second taste. Then he grabbed the oregano and brought it to me, saying "needs this." Oh, wow. He's very proud of himself, though, when he "helps" make a meal - and has a very adventurous palate for a toddler.  Not that his taste is always good - I'm not sure why he likes chocolate chip cookies dipped in green (tomatillo) salsa, but he definitely thinks it's the best way to eat cookies.

Eli really wants to do a lot of things for himself.  This includes feeding himself (as I mentioned before). He was promoted to the "3 year old" lunch table at his pre-k because he actually can feed himself with a little less monitoring than most kids his age. He also likes to take himself potty (though he absolutely requires supervision); he can usually undress, go to the bathroom, and redress himself with little to no help (although we still have frequent accidents; someone gets very involved in what he's doing and forgets to go potty).  We are still reluctant to push him in this area, but we do encourage him and celebrate his successes with a high five. Eli loves to brush and floss his own teeth (and is getting quite good at it), and he is really excited about imitating almost anything Patrick or I do.  And yes, this includes ordering his own meal when we go out to eat.

Someone has also begun (finally!) sleeping through the night IN HIS OWN BED, by himself.  Patrick and I knew that he eventually would; it just took awhile. And now, he doesn't fuss at all about nap times or bed time.  He seems to feel safe and secure, and while we still have a routine in place, it's nice to have him in bed and not have to wake up multiple times per night.  He still has the occasional night terror/sleep walking incident, but this has become the rare exception, rather than the rule.  Last night, for example, he did wake with a nightmare, but no sleep walking - and he went right back to sleep after I tucked him back in and reset his nightlight (it's on a timer that goes off after 45 minutes).  What a relief!

Eli has also begun getting an allowance. He received $2 from a friend on his second birthday, and shocked me by being so excited by his "TWO doyards" that Patrick and I started to ponder allowing him to have his own spending money.  When we saw him take his "doyards" to the store and how he acted, well, that clinched it.  He walked around the store with his money clenched in one hand, and selected toys (one at a time), examined them, shook them, then looked back at his money.  Then he would shake his head, and he would put the toy back on the shelf. And so on. For about an hour.  Then he proclaimed "all done!" Had he selected a toy? Nope. He put his dollars back in his pocket and was ready to leave.  He carried his dollars with him everywhere we went for a few days, until....he saw....Finding Nemo stickers! The moment he saw them, he got really excited, grabbed his dollar and handed it to me, took the stickers off of the shelf and clutched them to his chest.  We took him to the cash register and had him pay for his stickers (which were more than the dollar, but Oma and Appa paid the difference, of course). What did he do with his stickers? I found him a sparkly blue piece of cardstock to stick them on, and we put them in a glass-less frame I had sitting around in a closet. We hung his "art" up on his wall near his bed. He was so proud of himself. And his other dollar last nearly two weeks - until he saw a large green train (Percy, from Thomas and Friends) that rolled around when you pushed the conductor's head down.  So far, we've just taught him that $1 equals one toy - unless it's really more than $8-10.  Then, we tell him it's too many dollars, or that we need more dollars (or that we can bring more dollars next time).  Since he's now learned the concepts of up to four dollars, we will start letting him pay the sticker price (but not the tax) as soon as he can read the numbers (which probably won't be long).  G-g (Eli's great-grandmother) thought Eli's money skills were so funny...and good...that instead of giving me a check to spend on him for his birthday, she gave him a hundred one-dollar bills. Eli LOVES the fact that he has so "many doyards" in his piggy bank. The funniest part to me is when I wash clothes, and have to dig money (and rocks, usually) out of my two year old's pockets beforehand. LOL!  He usually does take between 1 and 4 dollars whenever we go somewhere, though he rarely spends anything. I like this because it helps me understand what he really wants, without going overboard buying him toys.  Eli likes it because if he really wants something, he knows he has the power to get it (usually).  So, yes, the baby now gets an allowance of $1 per week.  We've decided that his "chores" (to earn his allowance) are to feed the dogs (with supervision) and to put his dirty clothes in the laundry room. He has done both of these for several months, anyway, so it doesn't strike him as something difficult or unusual to do.

On a final (for now) note, it's been really weird to look back as his pictures from when we were in Korea. He's grown and changed so much in the past few months. On one hand, it feels as though he's always been ours. On the other, it feels like it's been such a short amount of time (which, of course it has). The best part? Patrick and I love him more and more every day.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Seollal!!

Someone had a happy lunar new year this Sunday - a visit to church, a family craft at Michael's Art/Craft store, a nice lunch at Jason's Deli, and a quiet afternoon at home! We decided to wear suit/tie to church instead of a hanbok...someone is really into picking out his own clothes, and was determined to wear a tie like his Appa and Grandpa. And he did get a new book instead of money - I figured we would save that part for when he understands what money is : ).

 
 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Visit to Zoo Atlanta

So, at long last, we made it to the zoo!  Eli loves animals, so it was only a matter of time : ). We first went to the public library to check out the zoo video. Zoo Atlanta offers a free pass for two adults and two children for anyone who does this, so we were even able to go to the zoo for free!

Eli did his best monkey impression while we called the different libraries (the night before) to locate a copy of the video.

 
When we got to the zoo, the first animals we saw were the flamingos.  Eli decided he LOVES flamingos. He wasn't willing to leave the flamingos until I signed (and said) "more animals", pointing to the path. He looked back at me, with his eyes huge, and signed back "more??". I told him "Yes, more" and he jumped in the stroller.  But, before we could leave, he did ask to take home a flamingo. Actually, he asked to bring home several animals.  And when we told him "no", he tried to take matters into his own hands.
 
 
 
 
I immediately grabbed him and started to pull him down; my dear husband said (and I quote) "Wait! Let him do it! I want a picture!".  So, I settled for grabbling his pants to at least slow him down while Patrick got the shot.  What animal was he trying to climb in with? Vultures and other birds.  But trust me - he also seriously considered trying it with the elephants, tigers, and panda bears.

 
 
Eli was truly excited about the Panda bears. Not because they are really cool looking. Not because they were eating dinner when we got there - but because one of the bears was "playing toys".  He also was really excited when I explained how one of the bears was an "Oma" bear (Mommy bear) and one was a baby bear...we've been reading a book about baby animals and their mothers several nights a week.
 
We decided to take time for one of the wildlife shows. We chose a bird show; Eli couldn't seem to get enough of the birds - even at the show. The only one he didn't really care for was the Macaw - because it didn't fly in the show. He adored the hawk and the hornbill and fell head over heals for an owl - which he also wanted to take home. He stared intently at all of the birds through the entire show, too - except for asking about taking home the owl. I mostly ducked and hid behind him. I am rather intimidated by Eli's feathered friends (although I admit to secretly liking the flamingo and owl, too).


All in all, it was a nice afternoon. After almost two hours, Eli sighed, sat down in his stoller and said "All done, Bye-bye."  We headed out, and as we left, Eli said bye to everyone we saw - and to each of the animals as we passed : ).  At the exit of the zoo, we heard music.  I asked Eli what instrument was playing, and he (correctly) said "Trombone!".  So we took a quick detour to find the trombone player.  I think it's really funny to have a little one who knows several instruments by ear - but his favorite BY FAR is the trombone - his Grandpa's instrument. Not even Patrick's trumpet is as interesting : ).

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lunar New Year 2013

We've decided as a family to begin celebrating Seollal, the Lunar New Year holiday.  Although we will put our own twist on the celebration, we will at least be able to expose Eli to some of his cultural roots this way. For this year, we will simply enjoy a special Korean meal, light a few sparklers in the cul-de-sac, and hang out together as a family.

Eli's school is also including the Lunar New Year as one of their focus topics this month. Since the holiday happens on Sunday (the 10th), Eli's teachers have designated Friday as the day that they will talk about the holiday. I decided to have Eli help me create Seollal goodie bags for his class, and we've just finished them.

Here's what we included in each bag:

A child-size pair of painted chopsticks (they came in 5 different designs):



A "Red Envelope" - this is usually given to children on New Year's and usually holds money (although these have candy coins inside) - this one has a snake on the front, since it will be the Year of the Snake:

 
The candy coins that we put inside the "Red Envelope".
 
 
 
And for a sweet treat, a pineapple-filled shortbread cookie - oddly, this one was on the Korean aisle of the international market, but the writing on the package is Chinese:
 
 
We topped off each bag with a little ribbon:
 
 

I really hope the kids will enjoy the small treat.  Mrs. Lee even said that the kids were going to get to try out their new chopsticks at lunch: she's making noodles!

Eli was a big help doing the goodie bags, too. He put two coins in each envelope, put the envelopes in the bag, then put in the cookies and chopsticks.  All I had to do was to tie the bags closed and curl the ends of the ribbon!  He was so funny with the coins - I worked with him on the first few bags, making him count the number of coins each time, while still allowing him to do the work. But, for the last 7 or 8 bags, he suddenly grabbed all of the coins, made two rows of coins on the table, then use his rows to separate them into groups of two.  As a math teacher, I nearly fell out of my chair (a combination of pride and surprise) when he did it. I went to grab the camera, but by the time I had it ready to take a picture, Eli'd already finished putting the coins in the envelopes!



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sick Day

So, the three of us have come down with a strep-like throat infection after finally beating that horrid cold that Patrick brought home from school. YUCK. Eli and I stayed home from school today to get better, and we had a quiet morning. In fact, even after I changed Eli into a warm outfit for the day, he said "night, night" and jumped back into bed with a jigsaw puzzle! He loves doing his puzzles - he calls them "pubbles".




Ice Skating

Some people might not realize it, but we DO have ice skating in Georgia!  Eli got some ice skates for Christmas (thanks Gannie!), and had a chance to practice his skills back before the car accident on New Year's.  Here he is, learning to get his feet going : ).


My mom also got him a new pair of roller skates for Christmas.  However, I forgot the video camera last time we went to the roller rink, and haven't been able to take him skating lately.  Hopefully, we will be able to go soon - he's getting pretty steady, and likes to play "dead bug" at the rink - he even won the game last time and was really excited to have the prize (a glow stick). Thankfully, they don't play "dead bug"at the ice rink - it's too cold!  Eli's favorite game there is to grab one of the metal trainers (a device for kids to push around the ice when they are just getting their balance), run as fast as he can, then sit down to slide!

For now, a few more pics!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Belated Update

Well, I'd intended to at least update my blog with cute videos of Eli learning to ice skate (video coming soon : ) !); then, I'd planned on updating after Christmas, and then we had the car accident (more on this in a later post), then we got sick (probably caught a virus in the emergency room),....etc, etc, etc. But tonight, Eli gave me so many reasons to post a new entry that I finally couldn't resist! This will henceforth be known as the blog entry that will probably embarrass Eli in middle school.

Now, to move back to our Eli's news. We did have our last post placement visit recently, and we are moving toward finalization! We can't wait! I can't believe how much I love the little man and his shenanigans.  He is definitely keeping us entertained!

Tonight, for example : ). A little foreshadowing: Eli has recently learned how to take off ALL of his clothes. He really thinks it is fun to take off his clothes.  He's REALLY fast at taking off all of his clothes (except his shirt, which does take a little longer). He also really wanted to go to Chick Fil A after we got home from his grandparents' house (he saw a bill board for Chick Fil A and said "chickie moo cow" so many times, I thought I was going crazy), so we took him.

Fast forward a little. After eating, Patrick took Eli to play on the indoor playground.  A few minutes later, Patrick returned with a joyful baby, shaking his head, telling me that I "wouldn't BELIEVE what Eli was doing."  When I found out that our son had stripped off his clothes on the playground not once, not twice, but THREE times, I choked on my chicken nuggets from laughing too hard!  Each time, Patrick caught him before Eli had much more than his pants off (he is a FAST undresser, too!), and re-dressed him. And each time, Eli went to play, waited until he was a few feet away from his daddy and yanked his pants off, laughing hysterically : ). Thankfully, he DID leave his diaper on; he has been known to take that off, too.

We are so blessed to have Eli and his hijinks, though. He amazes and surprises me almost every day with something new he's learned. From beginning to swing on the high bar in gymnastics (with only a spotter, no help), to learning the difference between left, right, above and below, to showing us the letters of the alphabet he's learned (e and i, sometimes he recognizes a and o) to some of his cute personality quirks (like giving himself noogies while shouting NOOGIE), he is one awesome kiddo.

We are very thankful that Patrick's parents were able to watch Eli this week, while he is recovering from a cold. But this fact led to another moment of hilarity tonight. My mother in law remarked that she thought Eli's clothes had an unusual odor, though not unpleasant, when she watched him today. I explained to her that he had Maty's baby rub on his feet.  An old home remedy for colds is to put Vicks (or something like it) on your feet. The essentail oils from the rub is gently absorbed from the feet throughout the day, thereby relieving congestion and cough. Tonight, when Eli was getting ready for his bath, I smelled one of his socks to see if I could still smell the Maty's.  I wish I could have taken a picture of Eli's face when I did that.  He exclaimed "EEWW!!" and looked horrified.  Then he walked around for a moment, palms up, asking "why?, why?". I nearly busted a gut. I had been laughingly pretending to smell Patrick's socks, and exclaiming "EW" just to make Eli laugh, but he really took it literally, and it was so funny to see him so weirded out!

Eli has also had a chance recently to give a laugh in the pediatrician's office. He has been showing interest in the potty for quite some time, and I have been taking a back seat to potty training - letting him do as much as he wants; there's no rush. When he tells me he needs to go potty, we go immediately. If he doesn't tell me he needs to go, we don't - and he just uses his diaper.  Right now, the potty is just an option if he wants to use it - no pressure. I really think he's too young to be very consistent, even if I pushed him. Anyway, we were at the pediatrician's office, and Eli looked at me and said "potty." I asked him, as I always do, if he WENT potty (in his diaper) or NEEDED to potty. Eli indicated that he NEEDED to potty, so we went to the restroom. I was chatting with Eli, as I always do, while he went potty, narrating what we do when we potty, etc. When I got back to the room with Eli, my poor husband was shaking with laughter.  He explained that the doctor had been in, and they'd heard me talking with Eli in the bathroom. He said all was well, until the doctor heard me say "wipe your buttcrack", and began laughing hysterically when Eli proudly replied "buttcrack!".

Now, for those who may be offended that my 22 month old can correctly use the word "buttcrack," I apologize. I never actually intended to teach him the word. And yes, it's my fault - not Patrick's (poor Patrick keeps getting blamed here). We had been learning parts of the body (head, shoulders, knees, toes, etc) at the time. I was changing Eli's diaper one day, and he grabbed a wipe and tried to "help" me wipe his bottom. I was in a hurry, and told him to get his hand out of his buttcrack. Eli took it to mean that it was what we were SUPPOSED to call that part of the body : /. It was his favorite word for about 3 days. Now that the novelty has worn off a little bit, he is not using the word as much, thankfully; but the novelty didn't wear off before Patrick and I saw Eli take off his diaper and run down the hallway at home, grabbing his bottom and laughingly shouting "buttcrack!".

I can't believe how many new words Eli has learned. I can't keep track anymore, honestly. He is also really working on putting 2 words together. He started with "Bye, ____". When we leave school, for example, we say "Bye, school," "Bye, Ms. Lee," "Bye, Kiki,", etc. He will frequently call or address us by name, and ask a question, too - like "Oma, hungry?". He also loves to boss the cats and dogs around. "No, Woody!" and "OUT, Toby!" are frequently heard from Eli. He knows the animals' names - that includes our pets, the horses, the dogs at his school, etc. He is starting to ask where things are "Weer dat?" and what things are "Wa dat?". It was a lot of fun in the chiropractor's office recently (for Patrick's back after the accident), when we picked up a magazine that had 8 or 9 pictures of different foods on the cover.  Eli and I sat together and identified the foods and the colors of the foods over and over (to his heart's content). I live for moments like that - I love spending time with Eli where he and I can cuddle and talk about whatever - even if it's colors and foods, and Eli and I identify them all thirty or forty times. It's impossible to be bored when he's around : ).