What a delay in posting about Eli's birthday! I'm very sad that this post took so long, but here it is at last : ).
Eli at 3:
He is 26.5 pounds and almost 3 feet tall (he needs another quarter inch or so). He's actually gaining on the growth curve; when he came home he was well below 3rd percentile for height/weight. By his 2 year old check up, he'd reached 3rd percentile. Now we are around 5th percentile for height and weight. Yay!
He is very, very independent and confident. He likes to do things by himself as much as possible, and we encourage him (within reason). This includes dressing himself, making some choices about his clothing (including choosing many of the clothes I buy for him to wear), and making choices about his lunch (occasionally helping make his lunch).
He has a strong, innate sense of responsibility. No joke. Eli is very careful and listens to/follows directions very well. Usually. Recent exception: at his 3 year old check up, where he followed directions until about 10 minutes into his physical. Then he decided to get goofy....really HYPER and goofy....as in, the doctor won't be forgetting us any time soon. But usually, I have a child who doesn't mind cleaning up toys (and even places his clothes in the dirty laundry at the end of the day), treats breakables with respect, and who remembers his lunchbox and backpack every day.
He adores routine and order...and freaks out (just a little) when we don't follow our routines. Eli loves his routines. I've posted (and pouted) about this before. Nothing in this arena has changed. Sometimes Eli melts down when our routines change, and sometimes he accepts our explanations. It often depends on how tired he is, as to how he reacts. To date, breaks in routine and NOT allowing him to do certain activities independently have been the only true tantrum triggers.
He has a lot of respect for plants and animals. He is very gentle and sweet with our pets and with other animals. He has become proud of his "bossy" voice that he uses with the horses and dogs...and is thrilled when they immediately obey him. He loves to play with the cats (and has been known to play 45 minute long games of "chase the stick" with our cat, Z). He loves being near the horses, and is learning to ride. He enjoys being around our dogs outside, and especially likes walking Rocky. He is also very gentle and caring toward his garden plants. Eli is very consistent with reminding me to help him tend the garden, and it was truly adorable to watch him plant spinach. He carefully took each of the 9 plants from its tiny plastic starter pot, dug a hole, placed the plant in and "tucked its roots in", all the while telling the plants to get some good rest so that they could grow good tomorrow. He has also celebrated each day that our azaleas have a few more flowers : ). He has become able to tell some plants apart by their leaves/flowers, and usually uses the correct names for the plants he knows. When he was picking out plants for the garden, I told him we had room for 3 types of plants (1 pack of each). We got what he asked for, then he asked for more plants (he really seemed to want dusty miller and begonias). I explained that we didn't have room for more plants...at which point Eli found his inner Tetris-master, rearranged the plants in our cart and said (rather exasperatedly), "There, now there's room for more." I got the giggles, but managed to explain that we didn't have room at home for more planting. Eli's still a little peeved that I didn't plant any cucumber. BUT he's very proud of the plants he picked: spinach, chives, parsley, and Impatiens. And yes, he picked out what he wanted...and in true 3 year old fashion declined all of my suggestions. And yes, somehow we came out with 4 plants instead of the 3 I'd planned...I do love Impatiens, though....I don't think it was a hard sell for him.
He is experimenting with new, not-so-cute behaviors (thankfully, none of this has lasted very long). This has included biting, pushing, kicking, hitting, and/or body slamming other kids his age...and he has experimented with not telling the truth a few times, too. Eli seems to be learning what honesty is. I don't think he truly understands the concept yet...but we are definitely making progress. For the most part, he was telling us that he didn't hit (or kick, or...) when he actually did.
He is very sweet....and very stubborn. 'Nuf said.
He loves logic and when things "make sense." He also loves puns/word play, and is a bit of a 'smart aleck'. Seriously...and sometimes he gets frustrated when he really thinks he's right about something and he isn't. He often wants explanations for how things work and we often here the question "Why?" Sometimes, Eli's just trying to make conversation, but oftentimes he really wants an answer to his "Why?" Last week, my husband got tired of Eli asking how straws worked and explained the physics of creating a vacuum. Eli enjoyed this! I don't think he truly understood the explanation - but he likes to have a genuine answer.
He talks....a LOT. As in, he talks all the time...sometimes in his sleep. Sometimes, it's cute. Sometimes I need a break. The funniest part is that Eli was initially referred for speech therapy when we came home from Korea...because he really wasn't speaking (even in Korea, he was saying only 2 words). Patrick and I decided to wait a few months to let Eli adjust before jumping into anything, and for us, it was the right decision. A couple months later, Eli began speaking a few simple words, then jumped into putting together sentences almost overnight. The wildest part is the amazing clarity and diction he has for his age....and his ability to repeat himself or explain his meaning in other words when his listener doesn't understand. The biggest issue here is that Eli often interrupts or talks over people; we are working with him to understand how to take turns in a conversation. I think this is going to be a challenge for him...
He has a wonderful singing voice. I love hearing Eli sing. He sings songs from school (which are okay), but he brought tears to my eyes today when he was singing the chorus of "Place in This World" (Michael W Smith, but also sung by the VeggieTales) with the CD player. Such a clear singing voice combined with Eli's innocence...and such a powerful message in the song...I am actually starting to cry again thinking about it.
He has a fantastic memory. No kidding. Better than mine. Eli can remember events from 6 months to a year ago. He can tell you about an episode of Batman that he saw on TV a year ago without any trouble. The game "Memory" is no challenge at all...this has come in very handy for shopping lists : ). It's the true reason Eli learns so quickly.
He likes to use tools, put things together, and figure out how things work. Eli could spend the day in a hardware store, browsing and playing with tools and learning how to use them. He loves to put things together, use a hammer, screwdriver, paintbrush, a wrench...you name it. My grandmother got him a pull-a-part plane for Christmas. He has pulled it apart and put it back together numerous times. His favorite part is that it has a plastic "drill" to put in the large plastic screws and bolts : ).
He is a beginning reader/writer. Eli began reading almost at the same time he began speaking. He started only with sight words that he specifically asked for. He then began reading the alphabet (lower case first), and developing new sight words from memorizing their spellings. Then he started to learn high-frequency words in his favorite books (such as green, eggs, and, ham) and learning beginning phonics (letter sounds). Lately, Eli has progressed into sounding out words, recognizing two or three word families (like words that end in "at": cat, rat, bat, hat). He enjoys occasionally trying to write letters or words, but often likes to use magnetic letters or letter tiles to make words that he sees in his books. He can write most letters of the alphabet fairly clearly, but lately he's not been interested enough in writing for me to see what he can do. Like many things, he goes through phases where he's really interested and wants to do nothing else...then he is not interested at all for a time. We are generally careful to wait until he wants to work on reading/writing. There are a few apps that we have gotten, though, for long car rides or for long waits, that he LOVES...and they are reading based.
He has great number sense. Seriously. I love it. Currently, he's using it to learn to dial phone numbers, tell time, and figure out counting patterns. While Eli often still gets stuck between 15 and 19 while counting, he can occasionally make it to 30. I started showing him how place value works with Montessori-style decimal mods, but he was only interested for a few minutes, and hasn't looked at it since. Hopefully, he'll get interested again soon. Like everything else, he kinda cycles through times when he's interested and times when he's not.
He adores his family....and dearly misses Lee, Miyu and Emma (in Japan). His respect for his Grandpa and Grandma borders on hero-worship. Seriously. And his current favorite afternoon activity is practicing dialing everyone's phone number just so he can talk to them.
He truly loves movies - and going to the movies. Any movie. He can repeat parts of movies, summarize them, and remember them months after he's seen them. We recently rented "Frozen" on our DVR (LOVE, LOVE that movie). Patrick and I hadn't seen it, but Eli had. He realized a few minutes into the film that he'd seen it before with his grandparents at the theater. He still thoroughly enjoyed watching it again, but he knew what was going to happen before it did!
He really, really wants to go fishing. He keeps asking. We're not sure why he has such a sudden interest - it's been nearly a year since he went last time (we didn't catch anything). Someone might be getting a fishing pole from a certain Easter Bunny...
He loves being a part of the 'big boy' Sunday school class at our church. He had been in the 2/3 year old nursery until recently. We decided to let him move into the 3/4 year old group at church. He loves, loves, loves it. And while our 2/3 year old children's church teachers are awesome, he is learning even more from the "big boys' class".
Oh, and last - but not least, as the cliche goes, - Eli has boundless energy, eats like a grown man, loves to go places and explore EVERYTHING...