Sunday, November 29, 2009

Eli Stories from Church Today

I know... my posts tend to be very long. Here's a shorter one :)

Preface: Grace is the most amazing, wonderful 17-year-old who sits with me almost every week and helps with the boys since Ben is up on the stand. She's also the only teenager we've ever had babysit our kids - she is so great with them. A visitor leaned over today and asked me if Grace was my sister because she was so good with Charlie. She definitely has a gift with children.

On our way to church this afternoon, Eli asked, "Is Grace was going to sit with us at church?"

I replied, "I think so!"

This answer didn't satisfy Eli.

"YES or NO?" he asked curtly.

"Yes!" I replied, really crossing my fingers that she would indeed be there today. I think Eli really looks forward to playing with her each Sunday.

And thank goodness, Grace was there and sat with us. Thank you Grace! We're so grateful for your help. Eli's "YES or NO?" questions have become more fierce lately. He doesn't like wishy washy answers. Like every day after quiet time when he asks, "Can I watch a show? YES or NO?" Funny guy. Ben is convinced Eli is going to be a manager of some sort because he is quite the boss man.

My second story from today is that toward the end of the Sacrament, it was somewhat quiet in the chapel as the water was being passed around. Out of nowhere, Eli starts doing Spiderman hands and singing (a little too loudly): "Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can. Spins a web, any size. Catches thieves, just like flies. Look Out! Here comes the Spiderman..." and then he looks up at me and says with a questioning look in his eyes, "I don't know the rest of the words?"

I think it was funnier in person, but it was all I could do to not bust out laughing. Grace was cracking up and thought it was hilarious Eli was familiar with the Spiderman song. Thank you, YouTube... (he loves the Spiderman theme song video - but not the Batman song, because it's "too scary")

Oh Christmas Tree…

Ben and I debated whether we should go the live tree or fake tree route this year, but we’ve had a live tree every year since we we’ve been married, so we couldn’t bring ourselves to do the fake one yet. We drove over to the oh-so-picturesque Home Depot to pick out our noble fir.

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When you have two kids two and under, the thought of driving super far away to cut down a tree is not appealing. Someday though, I’d like to do it that way.

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There is such convenience of loading your heavy tree on a cart, wheeling it over to the check out. At least we didn't go to Wal-Mart. I really don't like that store. Why doesn't Target sell Christmas trees?? I love Target.

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Christmas lights were 99 cents since it was Black Friday, so I stocked up on a bunch to decorate the outside of our house (we didn't have it in us last year, so this was our first time with outside lights). Home Depot even handed out free hot chocolate and candy to keep customers happy. See the tree positioning on the car? Ben put his kayak straps to good use.

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Eli was super cute while we were decorating the tree (Charlie was napping). He put on his Eli santa hat from last year and sang Jingle Bells over and over. It was a different story when I went outside to put up lights around our house - he wanted to come be with me (Ben was off jogging), but he cried almost the entire time we were out there together. My solution was to have him watch through the screen door's window (the storm screen was down, so it wasn't too freezing). It was much harder than I expected to put the lights up outside. Seven hundred lights later, I feel like it barely looks decorated, but that's okay. It's good for now.

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The next day, the magic of it all hadn’t worn off yet. Eli must have said “Ho ho ho!” about 20 times that morning. I loved it.

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Yesterday afternoon I ran around a stretch of shops near our house to put up posters for our ward’s annual nativity exhibit, coming up this weekend. When I came home, I found Ben standing on a chair, blowing bubbles for Eli. I can’t believe it was warm enough at the end of November for them to be outside without jackets (well, it was a little chilly, but Eli had no interest in wearing his coat).

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I love the magic of bubbles. Kids seem to have a universal love for them.

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The picture below shows how skinny this kid is. I have to put his pants on the tightest option with the buttons in the waistband. He needs to eat more. But somehow his diet of cheerios, deli turkey, and fruit seems to keep him going.

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Of course there’s always a little attitude mixed in with the bubble happiness when a 2-yr-old is involved. “No, I don’t want to wear my hoodie!” he kept saying, despite my efforts to have him put it on.

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Gotta love the body language in this one. :)

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My convincing strategies weren’t strong enough. The red hoodie stayed hanging on the back of the patio chair. I figured if he got cold enough, he’d eventually put it on.

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With no hard feelings after our hoodie debate, he invited me to come play in his “house” under the playset. Ben was inside our real house at this point, getting Charlie who had woken up from his nap. This was Eli’s front door -

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“Come on in, Mama!”

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So I did. I love this boy so much.

Birthday Week and Thanksgiving

I turned 29 on the 25th of November. I love birthdays and think it’s great if the celebrating stretches out over at least a couple of days. We started the weekend before my birthday, going to dinner in the city with our dear friends, Carrie and Steve.

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Looking at these pictures brings instant tears to my eyes. They’re moving from Downers Grove, IL to Denver, Colorado tomorrow morning. OH there is a hole in my heart.

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There is something about friends that you make in certain phases of your life – the Christensens were our closest friends that went through a very similar experience (our husbands getting PhDs in science at the same university – it was such a long haul). We can talk about anything with these guys and I especially have fun debating with Steve about politics and other national issues. I talk to Carrie almost every day and know we’ll still talk often after they move.

You may remember the going away party we threw for them in the summer – they moved to the western suburbs to be closer to the national lab where Steve was working. But when Steve got an offer at the national lab near Denver, they jumped at the opportunity to be close to Carrie’s family. At least I’ve had a little time adjusting to having them not live five minutes away anymore, , but a 16-hour drive is a big jump.

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Oh Carrie. At least I get to hear your laugh on the phone, even if it’s more fun in person!

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We ate at Rosebud, which is a very old-time Chicago kind of restaurant in Little Italy, where we ate heavy, but tasty Italian food. I swear I gained five pounds from one dinner there. We ate SO much.

We celebrated all kinds of things – Carrie’s birthday in October, my birthday in November, and Steve’s birthday in December. We gave them some fun travel/city guide books for their new city – my favorite being a new one called Eat. Shop Denver: The Indispensible Guide to Inspired, Locally Owned Eating and Shopping Establishments. (I liked it so much that I ordered the Eat. Shop Chicago guide, which should arrive soon) I really despise most chain restaurants!

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Okay, on to a lighter tone – the day before my birthday, my mom came down to teach piano and my dad joined her, but hung out at my house while she was gone teaching. I had some projects I was scrambling to get done, so my dad helped entertain the boys, which was great. Here’s my dad and Eli playing a crazy game of Candyland :)


Eli loved his time with Bumpa! My mom was done teaching around 7:30 p.m., and then we ate pizza (mine was cheeseless of course) and watched So You Think You Can Dance together. I love that show.


On the morning of my birthday, the kids woke up at a decent hour – I think Charlie slept until 6:30 a.m., which I was very grateful for. Eli was up around 7 a.m. and was wearing my favorite jammes – the ones that say, I Love Mom.


Of course, my 29th birthday wouldn’t be complete without Eli yelling, “NO CHARLIE!”


He doesn’t like it when Charlie touches his crib.


But I reminded him that it was my birthday after all, so it would be great if he was nice to his brother. That worked for a few minutes.


It helps that Charlie almost always “moves on” pretty fast. I am constantly reminding Eli that Charlie will move on. But it’s funny how when Charlie does move to something else, Eli always exclaims with huge surprise, “Look! Charlie moved on!” like he didn’t believe it was really going to happen.


He even moves on quickly while chewing on books – first Thomas, then Go Dogs Go! Pretty tasty.


The penguin humidifier is a source of contention in Eli’s room as well. Charlie likes to take the top off, much to Eli’s horror. “NO CHARLIE!!!!!!”


Oh the tears that follow this simple action. Poor Eli. It’s hard having a little brother sometimes!


I was able to distract Eli pretty fast once I told him that another neighbor’s fish was downstairs, waiting to be fed for the morning. He was SO excited!! We were fish-sitting while a different set of neighbors went out of town this time. I love it – I can handle a pet in short amounts… especially one that you just have to feed twice a day. Eli had a lot of fun watching Gilligan the beta fish.


Of course there’s always a chance a little person might come spoil the fun for you (if you’re two). “NO CHARLIE!!!!!!”

Someday. Someday they will have a mutual relationship of love and friendship. (right??) It’s still very one-sided (Charlie adoring Eli).


After Charlie’s morning nap, we met my friend Khania and her kids for lunch. Amazingly, all of our kids behaved themselves and we had a great time. It was a really nice part of my birthday.


Afterward, Khania surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from her and a few other friends. I LOVED them! I can count the number of times Ben has given me flowers on one hand. It’s just not his thing. I’ve accepted that fact after nearly nine years of marriage, but it makes me even more excited to get flowers from other people.


Hooray for beautiful, bright flowers on a gray Chicago day! (It was overcast on my birthday)


After lunch, we came back home and I put the boys down for the naps. I told Eli that it would be SUCH a wonderful birthday present to me if he actually slept/napped that day.

AND HE DID!! My non-napper TOOK A NAP! I was elated. And loved every minute of those two hours that I had the time to myself. What a gift! Thank you Eli.

Later in the day, Ben came home from work pretty early, which was a nice treat. I’ll take 4:15 p.m. over 6:15 p.m. any day! But it’s great for that to happen on my birthday (one of the few perks to having your birthday the day before a holiday). He and Eli fought traffic to go pick up my birthday ice cream turtle pie from Baskin Robbins (the closer Baskin Robbins don’t make the turtle pie anymore, so he had to go kind of far). It’s tradition though, and I love that he picks it up each year!

My other birthday present from Ben was a new Sonicare toothbrush, since my old one died last month. After a month of using the regular kind of toothbrush again, it was so heavenly to use the new Sonicare brush. It’s worth every penny.

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Back to the turtle pie - in my family, we always put one extra candle as “one to grow on” – and Ben spaced them all the way around the pie, which made it hard to get them in one shot. It probably took me four tries to blow all of the candles out.

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Finally! Now we can eat :) It was a wonderful birthday! Pretty low key, but so nice at the same time.

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The next morning, my family drove down to get started on Thanksgiving preparations. Here’s Davey, my dad, and Eli working on the stuffing:

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Gram reading a new book to Eli (Davey gave it to him – it’s very cute). She also sang lots of songs with him, which he loved.

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Hours later, the turkey was done!

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Gram and my mom getting things ready:

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After dinner, it was time for birthday presents from my family -

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Eli had fun helping me open them. My parents gave me a cute owl towel, along with the new Martha Stewart Dinner at Home cookbook and the Martha Stewart Cupcakes book – both are really wonderful. I’m excited to try some of the recipes! Davey gave me some nice soap (which was funny because he gave me soap last year too), and Gram gave me some Christmas placemats, a bracelet, a frog toy for the kids, and a gingerbread muffin pan. Ben's parents send a few pieces of the Willow Tree nativity set each year, so this year I got the angel and the angel stand, which are wonderful.


And since my pictures showed up in random order, here are the boys during dinner. Eli ate a roll and some turkey, along with some fruit. I don’t think he was too stuffed after dinner!

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Charlie ate sweet potatoes, turkey, rolls, fruit, and broccoli. I hope his good eating is here to stay! Eli definitely used to eat more.

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After after dinner, after presents, Charlie pulled himself up at the piano and serenaded us with some music :) He loves playing the piano and humming along.

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Phew! My birthday marathon is over. If you made it to the end of this post, I’m impressed.

I’m not extremely excited that my twenty-ten birthday is just a year away (though I love that I’m turning twenty-ten in 2010), but I’m going to try to enjoy the last year in my 20s as much as possible!