Saturday, May 31, 2008

Eli's 1-Year-Old Faces

Eli is in such a busy, wiggly phase that it's getting harder and harder to pin him down for a cute photo. So I snatched the opportunity while he was eating to get some fun shots (it's easier when he's pinned down in his booster seat).

Above: His face is messy as he was eating a delicious lunch of penne pasta with catalina salad dressing. He LOVED it (this was my makeshift tomato sauce since I didn't have time to whip up spaghetti sauce to go with his lunch - the pasta was leftover from another meal).

Above: Here he is after I got his face pretty clean, still sitting in the booster. This time Eli was eating a few pretzels and playing with the balloon that is still floating, now a week and a half later!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Strong-Willed Child

This boy has a very strong will and can be quite stubborn. Here he is digging through the diaper bag and pulling everything out. If I pick him up and place him somewhere else, he usually will go right back to where he was getting into trouble in the first place.

Yesterday I went to feed Eli lunch and he was being really demanding (as is often the case). I usually stick him in his booster seat at the table (which is in our living room since the kitchen is tiny - not the most convenient thing) and give him a few cheerios or something to tide him over until I can bring more food. I did this and then walked into the kitchen to get some things, and Eli was not impressed.

He was objecting in a loud way, and I called to him from the other room, "Eli?" and he yelled back in a frustrated tone, "Aarah?" (translation: Sarah?) I think you had to be there to experience it, but it was pretty funny to have him respond like that.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Eli the Tipsy Toddler

Eli is going through a bumps and bruises stage - he toddles around everywhere, but still biffs it about one in five times. It makes for an interesting day - I watch him walk around and usually hold my breath, hoping he's not going to fall on a sharp corner or step on a block in his way. On Sunday he had a huge bump on his eyebrow from falling and hitting the side of the tub (not while taking a bath, but being in there while I was brushing my teeth). Today his teeth somehow cut his lip when he fell down at some point. I would like to get his 1-year picture taken soon, but he keeps banging up his face, so I wait another day.

Here he is early this morning, carrying the balloon around from his birthday that is still floating more than a week later:

And speaking of his birthday, here is a picture from last week when we had lunch at Walker Brother's Pancake House - pecan wafles and crispy hashbrowns are my favorite - yum yum yum! Eli loves his snack catcher as shown below - it makes him such an independent snacker, which I love.

Behind us are these old ladies who were very sweet to Eli while we were there - he was feeling social that day and walked over to say hi to them.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ben's Crazy Story

Here are the details of the crazy start to this weekend. Ben and Steve drove up to the North Woods of Wisconsin on Friday, planning to camp that night and then fish all day Saturday. Well, Ben called me on Friday night and said they were way up there (4 1/2 hrs away) and the 1994 Nissan Altima had died.

We weren't really sure what the best plan would be. A policeman stopped to see what was wrong, and when they asked if there were any car repair shops that might be open, he said, "Not 'til Tuesday!" since it was Memorial Day weekend. That was not a good solution for us! Ben and Steve had planned on returning home on Saturday night.

Steve had AAA, so we hung up and they were going to call and arrange to have the car towed into town (the nearest town was Wausakee, WI). I went to our church's web site and looked up the nearest church building to where they were and called the hall phone at that church. The phone rang and rang and rang... and then a woman answered! I explained the situation and asked if she knew anyone who was a mechanic that they might possibly be able to get help from before the end of the weekend. She put a guy named Chris on the phone, who said he had a truck and trailer and would be happy to go pick up the guys and the car (they were an hour and a half away) and bring them back to his place. Chris sounded like he was pretty good with cars and had a car diagnostic computer. I couldn't believe he offered to do such a thing!

In the end, Ben and Steve stayed at a motel in Wausakee on Friday night, and in the morning tried to see if they could get a part from a nearby auto parts store on Saturday morning. The store didn't have what they thought they might need, so they called Chris and arranged to have him come pick them up.

That afternoon, Chris, who was maybe 30 years old, brought them back to the house, where he lived with his parents. He was divorced and had a cute 5-year-old girl who was anxious to show Ben and Steve her pony and horses. They lived very close to the Oneida Indian Reservation (they were Native American) and had a nice amount of land. They worked on the car for a few hours and even had their mechanic friend come over with the computer from the auto shop - this helped find the problem, which was a leak in the distributor. The family grilled up a big lunch and shared it with Ben and Steve, fixed the car, and sent them on their way. It was the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for them! (or me, for that matter)

There are so many things about this story that amaze me - apparently the church that I called housed a pretty small branch. That night there were 5 people at the church having game night - what are the odds that someone would be at the church on a Friday night?? And that they would be so willing to drive 3 hours round trip and spend their Saturday fixing a stranger's car. I was pretty touched with their kindness and care for Ben and Steve.

Ben arrived home on Saturday night around 9 p.m. - we are so thankful for Chris and his family! Ben was able to sneak in a little fishing early Saturday morning and managed to catch five fish in about an hour, which made him happy. :)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fun Birthday Package

Yesterday a birthday package for Eli arrived from my Aunt Babz and cousins Michael and Sarah. He was very excited to open more presents, and gifts from Aunt Babz are always extra special! There was a beautiful card and the gifts were wrapped in fun frog birthday paper.

In the package: the Beatles "1" CD and a matching Beatles "1" onesie!

I think he's a fan of the Beatles.
Here he is in the fun onesie. (We've had a hard day today, so I wasn't very successful in getting a really happy shot of Eli in this, but maybe the next time he wears it...) I thought this gift was so thoughtful and creative. Thank you so much!!
On a side note... we have had a crazy 24 hrs. It involves our piece of junk, 94 Altima, that Ben and Steve drove for 4 1/2 hours to go fishing in the North Woods of Wisconsin. More details to come, but it involves the car breaking down in the middle of nowhere and a stranger coming to their aid! (The story isn't over yet, so I don't know the ending! :)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Five Percent

We had Eli's 1-year checkup yesterday. He is 50% in height and head size, but 5 percent in weight, coming in at 19 lbs, 7 oz.

I always thought he seemed so chubby! His doctor said it's probably because he's so active and mobile now and he isn't worried about it. At Eli's last appointment, he was in the 25-50 percentile, and before that was always in the 50th.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Eli's 1st Birthday, Part 2

Eli really enjoyed his birthday!

My parents came over and he opened their gifts. He loves carrying clothes on hangers and was excited about the books and flashcards too. We went over to the park and played for a while.
He took great naps today (which was good, considering he was up at 5:30 this morning :), so he was in a really happy mood.
We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and ended the evening with a brownie sundae. Eli has never had so much sugar in his life (let alone chocolate and whip cream!!) so he went to town. It was really cute. And the waitress kept bringing him plates of bananas throughout our dinner, which he would devour in seconds.
Happy Birthday Eli! We love you so much. Here are some of Eli's tricks at one year:

  • He walks everywhere and tries to run a little
  • He loves to say duck, dog, tick tock, da da, (s)arah, hi
  • He still has a love of grapes, turkey, bananas, bread, and peas (and goldfish crackers and baby puffs too)
  • He's very cuddly and loves to toddle over to one of us and jump in our arms
  • We kiss his squishy cheeks nonstop and he doesn't seem to mind :)
  • He loves stuffed animals and usually chews on the nose of whatever animal it is
  • He likes to dance and he loves music
  • He likes to open cupboards and explore new spaces - he's becoming more independent with exploring on his own
  • He is usually pretty social in public places like church, restaurants, shopping, etc.
  • He loves watching other children
  • He likes to point at things or people
  • He has a book (Where is Baby's Belly Button?) that has the cover picture also inside the book - when we get to that page, he flips back to the cover, showing that he sees they are the same
  • He loves electronics and cords - anything related to the computer, cell phones, t.v., remotes, cameras, camcorder, etc.

Happy 1st Birthday Eli!!

The day is here! Happy 1st Birthday Eli!

Last night I decorated for the occasion.

We had a huge 3-foot balloon filled with helium (but it wasn't floating this morning, unfortunately) and also got a regular helium balloon at the store last night, so he had a great time playing with them this morning.

We think he could tell it was a special day for him!

We sang happy birthday about 20 times.

Below are some fun gifts from friends and family - an engraved journal from Ben's parents, darling Robeez red/brown monkey shoes from Neil and Jolene (he's shaking them in the picture), a toy guitar from me and Ben, and a cute package from Stephanie - I love to email cool sewing projects that I see online because she is amazing at that stuff - so for Eli's birthday, Steph sent him a "1" onesie and a diaper/wipes pouch! (and a cute book too) I was laughing when I realized they were ideas I had sent her way. :)

My parents are coming over later today and I'm sure we'll have more birthday festivities as the day goes on. I'm throwing Eli and Ben a combined birthday party next week since Ben turns 30 in a few days. It's fun to make the celebrations last as long as possible, right? :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dinner with the Stuarts

Yesterday we went up to my parents' house for dinner.

It was nice to be outside and enjoy the pretty day.

We hadn't been to my parents' house in a while (they had come to our place quite a bit in the last few months) so my dad gave Eli a tour of the yard. Eli said his version of Grandpa for the first time, which was cute!
Eli loves being outside, free to roam!
He thinks he's a grill master too.

The grilled zucchini was my favorite!
Below Eli is playing with Rummikub game tiles in an aluminum bowl - they made a fun noise and he enjoyed scooping them up and throwing them back in.

He also worked on a puzzle with Gram. He enjoyed playing with the calculator in this picture too. My mom and Davey were here too, but I didn't get any pictures with them this time.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

GREAT Child Development Book

I checked this book out from our library a few weeks ago, and have absolutely loved reading it. It talks about the three things every baby needs - attention, bonding, and communication. The author, Jill Stamm, provides the science behind infant brain development, and how it's affected by those three things.

I love that this book offers simple suggestions for appropriately interacting with your baby in ways that will encourage his or her development. Some of the ideas are obvious, but even those are a nice reminder when we're doing something right.

I think what I found the most interesting was the information on how watching t.v. can alter the brain structure in an infant or young toddler. Stamm explains that the structure and functioning of each person's brain depends on how it is used. When a baby or toddler is watching a show on t.v., it typically introduces the characters and the story, then cuts to commercial, and another commercial, and another. Then the story picks up where it left off, and then goes to a few commercials, and on and on.

Young children don't distinguish the commercials from the show, so they see each segment and commercial as a new story over a short period of time, and this wires the child's brain to scan and shift, rather than pay attention for a long period of time. Stamm says some scientists believe that excessive early t.v. viewing may help explain the rise in ADHD cases, and that kids are increasingly more distracted and less able to stay on task, even if they aren't diagnosed with ADHD.

The author is not saying babies/toddlers should never watch television, but she recommends keeping it to a minimum. I think the book explains the reason behind this really well, so you'll have to check it out if you're interested in learning more. And I'm not saying I'm the perfect example of not letting Eli watch t.v., but for the most part we try to keep it turned off when he's awake.

There is much more to the book than the short chapter on "screen time" - but it's all really interesting information. I like learning about a baby's brain development and understanding ways I can help Eli as he continues to grow and develop.

Do you have any favorite child development books?

Friday, May 16, 2008

5:30 a.m. and Cute Dresses at Target

Up and at 'em at 5:30 a.m. Maybe he'll make it to 6 a.m. over the weekend?
I'm not even going to mention our neighbor in this post. I realize that's getting old (I'm sick of it, that's for sure). But I do want to mention - yesterday I found two cute dresses at Target. I think they were $24.99 each.

Why, you may ask, are you buying two dresses as you complain about needing more time to save for a house?

I'm blaming it on sleep deprivation. I love Target!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Really Need to Go To Bed Earlier...

Today Eli was up crying at 5 a.m. (it was the dog this time)

We didn't go in for 30 minutes, hoping he would fall back asleep. No luck!

So it's another day of up and down emotions for this little guy. He changes moods in seconds.

But hey, 5 a.m. it better than 4:30 a.m... :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Another Early Morning - and I'm a Winner!!

My day has been really up and down. It started at 4:30 a.m., when the dog lady upstairs got up for the day. She of course woke up Eli, who started screaming in his crib. He and I were up for about an hour, and then I attempted to put him down to sleep - amazingly, he actually fell back asleep. I on the other hand, was ANGRY. Who on earth wakes up at 4:30 a.m.?? And why were we so lucky to have a neighbor above us who does this??

I was not in a good way this morning, and almost marched up there again, but knew I wouldn't say anything nice so I tried to go back asleep instead, thinking about poor, teething, not-sleeping-well Eli.

(The picture above is from last week. Don't worry, that snot sucker was never used for its actual purpose - he uses it as one of his toys instead.)

Anyway, I did finally fall asleep, and Eli was back up at 7:30 a.m. I took him to playgroup and then we came home and played for a little bit before his next nap. You know what really turned the day around?

I won a blog contest!!

I have entered so many blog contests and never won a thing until today. The blog, Seven Dogs and A Baby, has tons of contests for baby/kids products and it's easy to enter (you just check out the product's web site and leave a comment back on her blog stating your favorite). I won the Picara Mei Tai baby carrier, as shown above - worth $80!. You can hold your baby in the mei tai in the front, back or side. We'll see how it works with Eli! I think it's so funny because I never got around to getting a Beco or Pikkolo baby carrier, that is similar, but not a Mei Tai style. I don't love that you tie the knots yourself, but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

On to other happier things - my parents and Gram stopped by yesterday on their way to a great gardening store in Chicago. Here they are playing with Eli:

And below are some pictures of Eli playing this morning. Motrin does amazing things... he was in a much better mood today than he was yesterday. I think his teeth are still hurting him though.

Notice he is chewing on this frog rattle in most of these pictures...

He makes me smile. I'm still debating what I can do about my neighbor situation.
What would you do?? My friend Katie suggested I ask the dog lady if we can have a "conversation" about the early morning hours issue. That way the dog lady could help come up with a solution, especially if I express how hard it is when Eli is waking at these horrible hours. She isn't as unreasonable as the garbage disposal neighbor below us (who I saw outside yesterday morning as I was taking Eli to the doctor - I said hi and she turned her back to me. She is CRAZY).

At 4:45 a.m. I was thinking, we are putting our condo on the market TODAY. Now I'm trying to be more rational :) Next winter isn't that far away, right?