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.