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."

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!

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 ; ).

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!

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....

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!

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...!
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...

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'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 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 : )!!