Friday, January 31, 2014

FOUR snow days later...

My students...and Eli...got exactly what they wished for...snow!  Lots and lots of snow! It started Tuesday morning, and by the time Eli, Patrick, and I got home at 2:30, this is what we saw:
 
 

 
 
 
                                          
 
 
 
The snow really came down for a few hours, then slowed. By morning, we had plenty for Eli to try sledding!
 
 
     
                                           



In total, we got a solid 2 inches of snow. Our driveway was completely iced over, and we were unable to get out from about mid-afternoon Tuesday until mid-afternoon Thursday. Eli had a lot of fun throwing snowballs (which he actually calls "hairballs" for some unknown reason), making snow angels, and playing with our neighbor's little girl (N is the same age as Eli). At one point, Eli even got a plastic rake, scooped up a bunch of snow with it, and was flinging it around the yard! And even yesterday, there was still enough snow to manage a small snowman on the back of the car : ).

 

Overall, Eli got 4 days out of school for snow/ice, while Patrick and I were out for three and a half days. We really enjoyed relaxing at home, watching movies, and letting Eli play in the powdery snow.

Today, Eli's grandparents decided to treat him to a movie.  Eli enjoys watching movies, and it's become a Friday night tradition in our house to cuddle together and watch a DVD. Eli also really enjoys going to the movies, and today was no exception. His grandparents took him to see an animated movie called "Nut Job", which he loved. Apparently, it's a movie that originated in Korea and had an all-Korean acting and technical crew...and apparently, Eli got a huge kick out of the rendition of "Gangnam Style" that is sung during the credits (with the characters dancing). I may have to see this one for myself when it comes out on demand!

 
 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let it Snow, Let it Snow!!

We are doing the snow dance, hoping to see a pretty white ground in the morning!  If the hopes and prayers of about 15,000 students (and teachers) in our district are answered, we'll have a snow day tomorrow : ). It has already been snowing lightly for about an hour : )!!  Eli is soooo excited : ). He is asking about snow incessantly. He got a snow day today from school, and is thrilled.  We did have some confusion where I ended up finding out very late about his school closing (they are closing really early today in anticipation of ice on the roads). I ended up having to bring him to work with me for a few minutes, until his Grandpa could pick him up and care for him for the rest of the school day.

Eli is having a great day, though. While he was here, he got to have an experience he has been wishing for...he got to "ride" a real school bus.  I currently have morning duty at my school, supervising students who are getting off the bus and entering the building. Eli was standing with me, all bundled up and thrilled just to be able to watch the "big kids" get off of the bus. One of the drivers, who looks exactly like Santa Claus, was dropping kids off, and I walked Eli over to see "Santa". He was thunderstruck. When Santa offered to let him get on the bus and look around, Eli accepted with slack-jawed wonder. He was absolutely starstruck. I got on with him, and let him sit on one of the seats. He was able to sit for a minute and take it all in, then got up and went to talk to Santa...except that when he got close to Santa again, he forgot every word he's ever learned : )!  After the buses had all arrived on campus, I took Eli to the breakfast line (where he started to talk again), and he was all "Santa drives a school bus??" and, because of the weather, I was able to reply "Who else could drive a school bus in the snow, but Santa and his helpers?"  Coolest. Day. Ever!  It only got better from there: Eli got to read his favorite book in my reading class (he read "Green Eggs and Ham" while the other kids were reading Farewell to Manzanar); then Grandpa checked in at the front office to pick him up (he LOVES spending the day with Grandpa and Grandma!).

Friday, January 24, 2014

Flashback Friday


While listening to the radio today, I heard the weatherman say that today is "frigid Friday". We are having very low temperatures outside, and the windchill is currently 0. It reminds me very much of a February three years ago when it was so cold and icy that school was called off...for a solid week. I was tearing up a little bit this morning, remembering that week, when Patrick and I were completely iced in at home...

We had been working on our home study, but still had a pile of work to do. Our social worker wanted us to hurry, since things in Korea were picking up and she wanted to send our home study to Korea in March. The ice storm hit, and ice on the road was unbelievably thick. We took advantage of the fact that we were iced in (for several days!) and worked hard on our home study. At the end of the week, when school returned to session, we had completed all of the work that we'd needed to do. What a blessing-in-disguise! Though we didn't know it at the time, we mailed the packet to our agency only two days before our son-to-be was actually born.



And of course, thinking of this reminded me of how tiny our Eli was when he came home. Some of you will recognize this picture...it was taken very shortly after Eli came home. He was about 19 months old, wearing 9 month size clothes. He was only saying two words : "oma" and "mam-a" (mam-a is Korean for food!). 





Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Three-nager?

Whew...and wow-o!

The blog post 46 Reasons My Son is Might Be Freaking Out is starting to resonate with us...a lot. Although Eli had some blow-out tantrums just before and just after he turned two, he actually never became the whirling, tantruming dervish known as a "terrible two." Recently, though, he's had his share of meltdowns in the last few days. I've noticed online that many are referring to this as the "threenager" stage...while many have said that this is worse than the twos...I still have trouble picturing Eli as anything except my sweet, sunny boy. However, he has had some interesting emotional breakdowns lately. From sobbing because I made him wear the shirt he picked out to wear, to crying because he wanted to clean the table and it was "too clean already," to crying because we wouldn't let him wear dirty socks to school, to crying because we wouldn't let him step on Grandpa's hand again, to crying because he wanted to feed the dogs again (immediately after feeding them), to (my personal favorite) crying because there was no clean laundry left to "fold."

Luckily...all of his tears seem to be short-lived. He cries for a minute...then he gets over it. He knows that we have limits, and that while he might sometimes be sad that the world doesn't bend to his will, that's okay.  There are some great benefits to his current phase/stage, though.

For one, Eli is determined to be helpful. Folding laundry? He doesn't quite have the skills, but he will sort it into stacks of clothing type (one stack for pants, one for shirts, etc). He loves to practice matching and folding his socks into a ball, and he likes to mimic me and practice when I am folding pants/shirts. He will also help me carry clean laundry to where ever it goes in the house.  He also loves dusting. I gave him a damp cloth and let him "clean" his booster seat and a window while I swept and mopped the kitchen; he thought that this was an awesome treat. When I told him that he was all done and to go play...he broke down into tears because he wanted another job.  He has gotten to be great at one particular chore, though: feeding the dogs (we have 3 large shepard-looking mixes who currently worship the ground Eli walks on).  And he LOVES to feed the dogs! He can open the door to the garage, collect the dog bowls, open the pantry door, scoop the right amount of food into each bowl, take the correct bowls to each dog's crate & let them in. He does need help closing crate doors, but he needs only minimal supervision with this task now...and his pride in his work and ability to "help" really shows.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Independence

Other than occasionally having to be bribed to get up for school in the morning (not unlike the way I feel sometimes!), Eli does an amazing job getting ready for school in the morning.  Patrick and I usually get up first (okay, I lied...Patrick gets up, and I drag myself out of bed sometime after he showers), then we wake Eli. Patrick will turn Eli's light on, while I say things like "I'm going to eat all the bananas in the house if you don't get up!" or "Hey...we're making eggs, and you better hurry if you want one!"  Eli will fuss about getting out of bed for school...unless food is mentioned : ). Eli eats breakfast at school, but his school usually serves something like oatmeal and milk, while we often have eggs, pancakes, or sausage at home. Since these are foods Eli adores, Eli often eats "pre-breakfast" at home before school. In fact, I recently counted the number of times he eats in a day....and got 8 meals. Pre-breakfast, breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, snack (at home), dinner, and dessert.  This is rather counter-intuitive, since his weight remains low, while his portions remain high (sometimes adult-sized portions). His teachers continue to be shocked that he eats 2-3 times as much as other kids his age. However, I'm excited to say the food is going somewhere...he's grown 2 inches since the first of October! This keeps him solidly between 3rd and 5th percentiles for height (and he was waaaayyyy below 3rd percentile for height when he came home).

Any way, once Eli is awake and out of bed, he gets ready fairly independently.  While I am getting dressed and ready, Eli takes himself to the bathroom, removes his pajamas, puts them in the dirty clothes, dresses himself (I lay his clothes on his chair for him) completely (socks, underwear, pants, shirt, sweater, shoes) and finds me for inspection. I make sure everything is on frontwards and correctly (his shoes are often on opposite feet!), then we comb his hair and have him brush teeth. He then finds "pack-pack", gets his vitamin from either Patrick or I, and eats a "pre-breakfast".  He still definitely needs help with his hair and teeth, though. He has a major case of bed-head most mornings!!  And while he loves to brush his teeth, he is two, which, by definition, means he's not generally thorough : ).

Not bad at all...especially since he's not yet three.  It is a little funny, though when Mr. Independent (who wants to do everything by himself) gets stuck in his shirt or sweater. This does happen occasionally, and it's hysterical to hear " Hey-yelp! hey-yelp! I STUCK!!" in the deepest southern twang of an accent.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

B-E-D time

Eli has a new interest: spelling! We were all hanging out at home Sunday night, relaxing in the living room. It was dark out, and I'd already started our evening routine. Eli suddenly looked at Patrick and said, "Appa, is it 'b-e-d' time?". He spelled the word so carefully and clearly!  Patrick looked at Eli and asked him what "b-e-d" spelled. Eli correctly replied, "bed."  Patrick asked Eli if he could spell 'bed' with his magnets, so Eli ran to his easel, found the magnets and put them on the board to spell "e-d-b".  While we did correct his order (and he is starting to catch on that the order of letters matters to a word), we were excited to see him put this much information together. Later, he used his letters to spell several familiar words/phrases, like "Eli", "oma", "no", "go", "stop", "of", "the", etc.  We also put together some "-at" words, like rat, sat, mat, cat, etc.  It's really neat how he's simultaneously figuring out sight words and learning how to sound out words.  It's fun to hear him ask how to spell words, too! It's also a little scary how fast he learns!  We surprised his teachers Monday afternoon when I picked him up. The letter of the day had been "B". Eli's teacher gave him his "B" coloring sheet for the day, and asked Eli if he knew what the letter was. Eli answered him correctly. The teacher was all smiles & excited that Eli knew the answer, until I asked Eli what words start with "B". Eli grinned and said "B-e-d spells bed, so bed has a B!". He was very pleased with himself, whereas his teacher was in open-mouthed shock : ).  That was a lot of fun to see...because it was exactly how Patrick & I felt on Sunday!

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Few More Shorts...



This morning, as we were getting ready for school, Eli decided to try to bargain with me: "If I go to school, can I have a banana when I get home?"  When I asked why he didn't want to go to school, he broke my heart a little with, "Oma, I miss you when I'm at school."  He is going through a phase of feeling a little clingy; at least I was able to cheer him up by reminding him that he gets to carry "pack pack" to school (his back pack). His Uncle Lee and Aunt Miyu sent it to him for Christmas, and he is in love with it : ).  He especially loves putting his "home work" papers inside; these are papers that he has colored at school.

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He has now gotten interested trying to spell words with his magnet board. He spelled "Grp=q" and claimed that it spelled "Grandpa." He wants to play with the letters every night & is delighted when we make rhyming words.  He is also a dedicated nursery-rhyme lover.  He loves to hear them and repeat them incessantly.  Every time he turns a page in his nursery rhyme book, he says "Oh, oh!  I love this one!  Read this one!"  He does, of course, have most of them memorized now.

Eli is almost obsessive about rhyming words and simple word play jokes. He even takes his socks off to properly "read" the "Little Piggy" rhyme (This little piggy went to market, etc).  And if you look at him and say "Hickory, Dickory, Dare" he gets flustered & says "No! No! No! Hickory Dickory DOCK, the mouse ran up the CLOCK!  Not 'dare'! Clock no match dare!"  He is now attentive and interested enough to sit for longer, more complex stories, so we are having to start read a bit earlier on most days.  It's really nice to finally have that ability to cuddle and read...for so long, Eli wouldn't tolerate being read to...and now he LOVES it!  I sincerely hope he always does love it!
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So, Eli is back in his jigsaw-puzzle phase. He went through one last Christmas (2012), when he finished his first 12 piece puzzle unassisted. For months, puzzles were his favorite toy. Then, all of a sudden, he lost interest. Now, he's back into them. He started getting really interested in them again right around Halloween, completing puzzles daily - often completing the same puzzles multiple times a day. He refuses help most of the time, though he absolutely wants to have us sit with him and chat while he works (he sings Frere Jaques while he works, too...hilarious!...and after 20 solid minutes, you begin to beg for mercy...). For Christmas, he received a pack of 4 "Pororo the Penguin" puzzles (as well as several 48 piece puzzles). The pack had 1 twelve piece, 1 eighteen piece, 1 twenty-four piece & 1 thirty-five piece puzzle.  When Patrick and I got it for him, we thought he would find the 12 and 18 piece puzzles easy, and the other two more difficult. He not only completed all 4 Christmas day, he now has a favorite way to do them: He dumps all of the pieces from all 4 puzzles together in the floor & mixes the puzzle pieces together. THEN, he puts them all back together. That's 89 pieces, y'all...and it usually doesn't take him more than 15-20 minutes. He does seem to be slowing down again, partly, I think, because he has several puzzles memorized. It's also funny to watch, because Eli doesn't use the outside/edge pieces and corner pieces the way an adult would. He just starts matching up pieces randomly, or picks a place to start (by sorting out pieces by color or by what character they belong to). We are going to give him his first 100 piece puzzles for his 3rd birthday (in March).

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Eli also now has a favorite song artist. The winner is....Toby Mac!  For a while, Eli only wanted to hear little kids' songs (Itsy, Bitsy Spider, etc), but over Christmas, he developed a love for the Toby Mac's Christmas songs CD. He can go through all of my CD's and recognizes the Toby Mac one on sight. Luckily, after Christmas, Eli has remained appreciative of many of Mac's other songs, so it's made CD choice in the mornings a little easier.  He also loves, loves, loves the song "Baby, It's Cold Outside", both the old-timey version and the "Duck the Halls" version (btw - he loves the entire "Duck the Halls" CD - except the Grinch song - he hates that one & says it is scary).

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Eli has also begun a fascination with the fact that roads have names. He asked us once, when we were out for a walk what the "EGJ's" (words) were on the sign to our neighborhood. I told him it was the name of our street. He thought about that for a minute, and really didn't say anything else about it. The next day, after I picked him up from school, he started asking what the names of each road were that we turned onto.  I also explained to him that each house of the road has a special number, so that the postman knows where to take everybody's mail. He loved that idea!  When his Uncle Lee sent him a Christmas present through the mail, he looked at the name and address portion on it and when we told him it was his name and address, he rattled it off from memory. He still frequently asks what road names are, or what the name of someone's street is (like "What street Grandma/Grandpa live on again?"  We've tried to get him to say his city and state when he says his address, but he's not very consistent with it yet.  However, this is leading to an entirely new interest in the post office and the mailbox!

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Eli is also very proud to have already started 'his' spring garden. We planted some early onions and garlic recently, and they have begun to green up a bit and grow...and Eli is thrilled to the core!  He lovingly waters and pets his plants every day (which is fun to watch), although we've had to replant one or two garlic cloves that he'd pulled up to "see what the bottom looked like now."  I think he figures that if the top changes that much, then the bottom should, too (and he's right), but it's not very healthy for the plant!

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Eli's birthday is in a couple months, and he's already making plans for us : ). He wants to have a "birthday party" at school with green cupcakes, eat pizza with Uncle Lee & Aunt Miyu, play at Stone Mountain, etc. He also wants a "big bed" like oma & appa. He's been in a toddler bed all year, but he wants to sleep with all of his stuffed animals...and they won't all fit in it with him!  We'll see...Patrick and I are discussing that one!  Eli is still not night-trained (though he has been potty trained during the day for quite some time), and we are wondering if such a big bed would make that harder for him to get up at night.  On the plus side, it does mean I could lay next to him and read before bed, which would be really relaxing.  We'll see.



Sunday, January 5, 2014

2 New Recipes We LOVE

The holidays are a time for me to be creative in the kitchen. We spend a lot of time at home together during holidays, watching movies and making special treats. I have loved to cook from the time my Aunt Lisa first showed me how to make a pot roast - especially since she explained that cooking isn't about getting everything right the first time & that it is okay if a meal doesn't come out (although her meals were delicious!). I really took to heart what she said...that if I messed up, I could throw out what didn't work and try again a different way. Cooking became a method of stress relief and creative outlet for me, since perfection isn't required or (in my house, anyway) expected. Okay- there have been a few Thanksgiving meals where I really stressed...the Great Potato Disaster of 2011 comes to mind (for which I am still grateful for my mom's "instant" solution)...but overall I love to be in the kitchen, and am trying to pass that love on to Eli.

Since Eli came home, we've really tried to learn how to prepare some Korean food. We love Kim Chi, Jap Chae, Bulgogi, Kim Bap, Pajeon (and a lot of other savory pancake variants...Eli's fav is Japanese...okonomiyaki!). Sesame seeds, sesame oil, and some new vegetables have made their way into our kitchen. We have begun to branch out a bit into some Korean-American fusion foods, too. At least, that's what I call our eclectic mix ups. Today we decided to combine two of our favorites, kimchijeon (Kim chi pancakes) and hamburgers. We cooked the hamburger patties as we normally would, and prepared our usual toppings (sliced tomatoes, grilled onions, ketchup, lettuce). Then, I made the kimchijeon to use as hamburger buns (recipe follows). OMG...this was one of the best creations we've had this vacation...everything melded together, and the kim chi added so much flavor! I do not use the pre packaged Korean pancake mixes, and I took the liberty of making the recipe healthier by adding flax seed meal. I cannot wait to have this again! Eli ate one and a half hamburgers, plus extra Kim Chi on the side with some seaweed strips.

Another particular success came in the form of gluten free pancakes (the normal, sweet, breakfast kind). I don't normally like making pancakes because it's a lot of sugar (that NO ONE in this house needs!) and it takes a lot of gluten free flour, which can get expensive (I don't use any gluten-containing products). However, I was reading a popular parenting blog that boasted of a Paleo type pancake that sounded interesting, and I thought I would modify it to meet our needs (the original pancake recipe called only for bananas and eggs). The result was super-fluffy deliciousness that didn't even need syrup. I could not believe how tender and satisfying these were, and  I was surprised that they really didn't have a strong banana taste. I was also thrilled that they really don't require a lot of flour, which is a huge plus. I will be experimenting with adding flax seed meal or coconut flour in place of some of the gluten free flour later this week. I will be making these  in larger batches to save and freeze for quick breakfasts (or, as Eli says, pre-breakfast, since he eats breakfast again at school). Eli really enjoys mashing the bananas and mixing the ingredients for these, too! We did try another variation of these with pumpkin purée in place of the bananas, but didn't like them quite as much (even though we love pumpkin).

That said, here are our recipes (all measurements are approximate).

Kimchijeon :

1/2 cup of really good Kimchi (use more or less to taste; get the good stuff from an Asian market or make your own, but please don't get the cheapy stuff at the regular market)
1/4 cup of all purpose gluten free flour (I use Gluten Free Pantry, you can really use any all purpose flour)
1/4 cup of flaxseed meal
2 eggs
1 Tbspn oil ( I used walnut oil, but any veg oil is fine)
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

Mix all ingredients except Kimchi together until you have a nice pancake batter (no lumps). Fold in the Kimchi. Put a 1/4 cup of the mixture in a pre heated non-stick skillet. Flip it over when the sides of the pancake look done and the middle has begun to set. Cook the second side until brown. Spread with a bit of mayo, then eat...or in our case, use as a hamburger bun.


Banana pancakes:
2 bananas
3 eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose gluten free flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cloves (to taste)
Dried blueberries (optional)

Mash the bananas thoroughly. Beat the eggs until fluffy, then combine with the bananas. Keep mixing and mashing until you do not see any banana pieces in the egg mixture ( I use a potato masher  for this).  Next, stir in the rest of the ingredients. Cook as you would any other pancake. You can top with honey, powdered sugar, or nothing at all....they are delicious!