Wow...I didn't realize what I dreary post I'd last put up until re-reading it just now. No worries...after that terrible morning we had on his birthday of all days, Eli cheered up and has begun to act like himself again. I have some pictures from his birthday party that I'll be posting soon, but in the meantime wanted to update his "stats", since he's officially four now.
Physically, he's still our tiny guy, though he wants so badly to be a 'big kid.' He's just about 37.5" tall and about 30 pounds. He's still mostly wearing 3T size clothing, though he has some shirts that are a little bigger - and his summer shorts (mostly 2T) still actually fit really, really well. In the past, he's had growth spurts right after his birthday (and again in late fall), so I'm expecting another one soon - but we'll see : ).
At this point, we appear to be in a very trying stage, though I'm hoping it passes quickly. Eli had trouble at preschool for several months with Ms. E, though he seems to be getting past that. He's a very tender-hearted fellow and is usually very sensitive. He tends to be fairly introspective and sometimes gets lost in thought. He plays very imaginatively, and I sincerely hope he continues to do so.
Eli has many friends at school and church, and it's a delight to watch him play with them. At his recent birthday party, his friends were as sweet as they could be, and they all played together so well. Not calmly...a LOT of running and jumping was involved...but they were really cute and sweet. Eli is very loving and caring towards the other children and wants everyone to feel happy and included, though he definitely has a best friend (Luke, of course).
He's learned a lot this year, and we've tried to diligently follow his interests. Eli is extremely intelligent, and learns very quickly. He's come a long way from the tiny baby who told me that he wanted to learn to read before he was even 2. Grandpa tested him a few days ago (informally), and he's tested at the end of the 1st grade reading level, and mid 1st grade math level. He reads books (Lexile 140-300) with some fluency, and can add/subtract. He used to have difficulty working with sums greater than 10, but I've noticed this changing recently. He enjoys skip counting and working with patterns - and I can't believe I'm typing this - but he also LOVES to be read to now. The library is becoming one his favorite places, and he seems to really look forward to our visits - especially learning how to look up topics and find books that he's interested in. On more than one occasion lately, I've been fussed at for interrupting him while he's "reading" and he's begun to frequently bring me his Star Wars books to teach me about the characters in the cartoon. Khan Academy's website has begun to be a favorite of his, since he can explore (math) topics that he's interested in. Eli LOVES science, geography and learning about the natural world, too.
Eli's figured out how to play simple board games and loves them. Everything from Candyland to Monopoly Junior attracts his interest. While Eli used to really not enjoy coloring, this has changed a LOT in the last two or three months, and he's been doing it a lot more. He also really loves his legos and his puzzles. Lego time with Appa is definitely a favorite. He receive two 100-piece puzzles for his birthday. When he realized that they had 100 pieces, he was initially intimidated - then I reminded him that he'd completely a 550 piece puzzle last year. He got one of them out last night, and after working 15 minutes last night and working on it some this morning before school, he was able to finish the entire thing : ). It was nice to hear him say, "I thought it would be hard, but I was wrong! You guys are right!" I really wish I'd recorded him saying that...! He is also still loving the free kids workshops at the hardware store, and has gotten really, really good at putting the kits together (fairly independently).
He still absolutely adores being in the kitchen and cooking. He received a special cook book from his foster family and loves it. His workstation in the kitchen is working out very well for us, and we're glad to have it. Eli especially loves to eat food that he grew or picked himself. He was soooo excited to help Grandpa and Great-Grandpa plant potatoes in the garden this year, and he's already looking forward to digging them up. We are already planning several trips to the local strawberry farm (they have blueberries and peaches, too!), since he's begging to go strawberry picking. We're also trying to decide what to plant this year, since all of our garden will be container grown (except for the blueberry bushes we planted last year, of course). I decided against having Grandpa help us till up an area, since we had so much trouble with ants last year (especially in light of Eli's allergy to them). He definitely wants to plant parsley again, as it attracted the beautiful swallowtail butterflies...but we're going to need a bigger butterfly house, since Eli loves to catch the caterpillars and watch them change.
Eli is still extremely active. In addition to Tumblebus and the constant activity of Ms. E's class, we currently have him in a preschool gymnastics class (which he loves) and he may start martial arts soon. We are always looking for outlets for all of his energy : ); it's not so bad when he can go out to play, but the short days of winter (combined with a lot of cold and rain) have kept us inside - yikes! He is very, very strong and agile for his age, and has no trouble at all keeping up with kids a year or two older. I'm not normally a fan of a huge number of "outside" activities (meaning activities that take place outside the home), but he really does need ways to cope with his high level of energy. We are hoping to have him join a swim class this summer (in addition to swimming twice a week with Ms. E), since he adores being in the water. I'm also hoping that swim lessons will add a measure of safety to his fishing expeditions, as one of his favorite activities is fishing with Grandpa and Great Grandpa (and then eating the fish!).
Whew! So, that's where we are for now. I still can't believe he's four! Where does the time go?!