Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why Does February Feel So LONG?

I’m ready to say good riddance to this month – I’m so glad it’s almost March! I know, we haven’t had the record snowfalls like places in the East, so I should feel glad we’ve had a more mild version this winter.


Like nearly everyone in Chicago and other snowy places, I’m SO READY for the snow to melt and for trees and flowers to bloom. I’m ready to stop bundling my kids up in coats and hats (I’ve already stopped wearing my coat 99% of the time in stubborn denial that it is still freezing cold outside). I’m ready to stop reminding Eli to NOT tromp off the path through the snow when he’s wearing regular shoes on our walk out to the garage (since he does this 50% of the time).

Every year around this time, I usually lose my “Chicago is the best place on earth” attitude and agree with Ben that the weather here just stinks five months of the year. Thank goodness our spring/summer/fall are usually beautiful, because our eternal winter makes me a little impatient and restless. I went to my favorite full-service car wash place on Friday because my car was FILTHY. I think we had a layer of crackers an inch thick on the back seat’s floor. Two toddlers = big messes, and it’s been too cold for me to feel motivated to spend time out in that cold garage, cleaning out the car. So I splurged on the fabulous car wash/vacuum/wipe down and we can actually see that our car is black (not a salty, dusty ash gray) and the floors inside are SO clean.

Now, on to the pictures from the week that make me realize it’s not the end of the world to live in this cold, dreary place. :) I need to focus on these so I don’t let the weather get to me.

Last weekend, Ben and Eli built snowmen in our front yard. The big one was supposed to look like Ben and the small snowman is Eli.

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Eli had such a great time and loved all of the details of the snowman – the carrot nose, the rocks for eyes, the pine leaves for a mouth.

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Ben is a man who needs to spend outdoors, so I’m glad he is willing to face the cold to sled and build snowmen with Eli.

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How could you resist playing outside (despite the cold) when this happy little boy loves it so much?

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Inside that night, Charlie was ready for bed, his portly tummy and chubby legs squeezed tight in his pjs.

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Eli was going crazy taking lots of pictures of me with our little camera, so I took a picture of him too :)

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Work it Charlie! Look at that cute, cute round tummy. He looks like one of my 15 friends who are pregnant right now (seriously – there are that many friends having babies in the next seven or so months). Charlie loves to climb up on chairs or stools, especially the bathroom stool. Which causes quite the raucous when Eli is up on the stool brushing his teeth or washing his hands, and Charlie tries to push him off and sneak on up there. Charlie is a VERY persistent, determined child who knows how to push Eli’s buttons (and does it often).

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Here are some shots from Tuesday last week, when had four inches of snow – at one point in the day, the snowflakes were HUGE! I don’t think I had ever seen snowflakes that large before. The pictures just don’t do them justice, but that’s okay.

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I was getting pelted by huge snowflakes as I stood in my front doorway, trying to quickly capture the scene.

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I love how the big trees in our neighborhood reach up and over the streets. We have a friend who says winter is his favorite season because he can actually see through the trees. I don’t think that’s reason enough for me to ever say winter is my favorite… but it is pretty.

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And here’s a shot from today. Ben and Eli (and Eli’s dragon puppet) laughing while watching Charlie Bit Me on youtube. I’m trying to convince Eli it would be funny to reenact it (with Charlie) for our ward talent show next week. Both kids are so unpredictable that it may not work. And Ben is worried some people won’t get it or haven’t seen the video clip before. We’ll see...

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Randoms from this week:

  • Eli calls chex mix “checkers” and really likes the wheat chex: “Mama, here are the spicy ones… they’re kind of tasty!”
  • Potty training has been so-so. The lowlight was Eli peeing on the carpeted floor at IHOP on free pancake day and then again in the car as we were leaving. The highlight was him finally pooping in the potty yesterday after not making it to the potty for that reason in more than a week. GROSS……..
  • Eli had his first session with the physical therapist. She was fabulous and I’m excited to see Eli’s gross motor skills improve. She did a lot of core work (using a mini balance ball – having him sit on it, then bend down and pick up a toy… stuff like that).

If you saw these on facebook, I apologize. But here are a few more Eli quotes -

  • Potty training was going so poorly that I decided to take a break on Wednesday and put him back in a diaper (and was letting it get quite full with the hope it would be uncomfortable and he would rather use the potty). Toward the end of the day, I asked how it felt to wear a diaper, and Eli said it didn’t feel very good. “It feels like it has slime in it,” Eli said with a wrinkled nose.
  • Charlie was trying to climb up on the couch and having a hard time since it’s still a little too high for him. Eli said, “Charlie’s legs are SO tinnnnnnnnny” (tiny) in this funny voice.
  • Eli set up his pez dispenser guys in a row on the counter and asked me, “Do you like my setup? It’s my decoration.”

Charlie calls me “Mehmy” and often whines when he’s hungry, sad, tired, etc. “Mehmmmmmmmmy” over and over. He is also very into giving huge open mouth kisses (we’re not doing the same for him). He’s had wacky naps this week and it seems like we’re definitely transitioning him from two naps to one. It is so hard to predict sometimes though.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Indoor Sledding, Bathtime, Tulips, Wedding, Auto Show, Playing at Home :)

What a title. But it kind of sums up the week in a nutshell. Kind of random, kind of all over the place. And a lot going on, even if at some moments in the day, it feels like we are just stuck. inside. all. the. time. Warning – long post ahead.

First, we have Eli, who was inside sledding around the house with my dad pulling him. He thought it was the best thing ever.

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Then there is Charlie. Who I officially, completely stopped nursing last Saturday, and he has been ANGRY ever since.

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I know you’re thinking, how could this sweet, happy little guy be ANGRY? He’s too young to be… ANGRY!

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I’m not joking though. I had gotten the nursing down to just one time, first thing in the morning. My goal was to be done by the time Charlie was 13 months old, since stopping right at a year is too emotional for me and I needed some time to let the fact that he’s not a baby anymore sink in.

But HOLY COW. This child has been a terror every single morning since last Saturday. Every time I go in to pick him up in the morning and he realizes I’m not nursing him, he THROWS his head and body back, flails around, screams, cries, and explodes into a raging fit. Of course this is usually happening sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m., so I try to hang on to my squirming, angry child and race down the stairs to avoid waking Eli up.

I’ve tried feeding him his breakfast as soon as we get downstairs, but he’s usually too mad to dig into a bowl of Cheerios. I’ve tried reading a book with him in the rocking chair in his room, but he wants nothing to do with it. This fit can last up to 45 minutes long, which is an especially long time when you’re just waking up for the day.

I’m sorry Charlie!!

I know he’ll eventually stop throwing these early-morning fits (hopefully). I get a little sad each time he does this, but I know it’s a good thing for us to be done.

This is the first time I haven’t been pregnant and/or nursing in over three years! That feels good. Now I just need to exercise more and get my body back. Winter has not been kind to me… being cooped up inside makes me eat eat eat food that I shouldn’t be eating.

I wish I had enough strength to become a raw food girl (I KNOW I would be skinny then), but I like some things too much. Like peanut m&ms. Or kettle corn. How could I give that up?? I’ll just settle for scaling back my junk food eating and exercising more regularly.

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Here’s Eli’s cute little bod. I love these boys.

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Sunday was Valentine’s Day, and as I mentioned in a previous post, Ben brought home these vibrant pink tulips for me! I loved having them around. Sadly, the petals had all fallen off by this morning, so they’re gone now.

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We went to a wedding on Valentine’s Day. I have been friends with Heidi (who now goes by her middle name, Nicole, but I have a really hard time calling her that) since we were babies. Our moms were best friends and Heidi and I were inseparable as children. When Davey had leukemia and my parents were up at the Milwaukee Children’s Hospital with him full time, I would stay with Heidi’s family during the week and go to school with her. As we got older, we grew apart and I probably hadn’t seen Heidi in more than 10 years, but it was great to receive a wedding invitation and be able to attend the event.

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My family was there too – I like this picture of my mom and Davey. Doesn’t my mom look pretty?

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My dad helped entertain Charlie and Eli, which I greatly appreciated. They were busy busy busy. Heidi had even left little gifts on their plates (toy cars), which I thought was very sweet.

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Back at home later that day, Eli had fun pushing those cars through his tunnel/fort of chairs covered with a blanket.

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Monday was President’s Day, which is a stock holiday, so Ben had the day off. We thought it would be fun to take the boys to the Chicago Auto Show.

We were wrong.

I don’t think we’ll ever go back. It was so, so CROWDED and you could barely even see the cars. I took this picture right when we got there and we actually made it up to a car, but as each half hour passed, the crowds seemed to be thicker and thicker… it just wasn’t a good place for two toddlers.

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The only highlight for Eli was the big slide at one end of the show. Ben went down with him once, and then I went down with him (he wasn’t tall enough to go by himself). I’m embarrassed to say this, but I really didn’t enjoy the slide – you can’t really tell, but it is STEEP! I’m such a chicken. But I forced myself to go down, after all, there was a huge line of little kids all happy to go down this thing, and Eli was expecting me to do it. Here’s a video of Eli and Ben going down -

This smile on Ben’s face in the picture below is deceiving. We were really, really tired by the time we left (we maybe lasted two hours? Not really worth it, even with our discount tickets… we paid $11 total to get in, plus a whopping $19 for parking – yuck).

Oh well! It was an adventure. We even ran to one of our favorite families from church, the Browns. I’m always amazed when I see someone I know at something like that, with the zillions of people walking around. Chicago feels a lot smaller in moments like that.

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One bit of news about Eli this week is that last month at Eli’s parent/teacher conference, his preschool teacher expressed concern that his gross and fine motor skills being delayed. He is extremely verbal, has great cognitive skills, and as his mother, I of course think he’s very bright :) But I definitely knew what they were referring to in terms of how he goes up and down stairs (often using his hands/crawling, rather than stepping up and down) and overall not the best coordination. He’s never been able to pedal his tricycle on his own, and has never been much of a climber.

I contacted the state’s early intervention program (which is for toddlers until they turn 3), and this week we had three different therapists here to evaluate him together (a developmental, physical, and occupational therapist), each watching Eli play, asking him questions, having him do various things to demonstrate his skills. The verdict is that he is about a year delayed with his gross motor skills and he qualified for physical therapy through this program.

I think it will be great for Eli and hope he can catch up quickly so he can feel confident in his movement, especially as he runs around at the playground this summer with other kids his age. I’ve definitely noticed a difference between Eli and Charlie in terms of how much Charlie climbs and moves at this age. Eli is way more cautious than Charlie.

Eli’s fine motor skills aren’t perfect, but the occupational therapist said he isn’t delayed enough to need therapy. She suggested we have him use a spray bottle in the bathtub (to strengthen the hand muscles) and to have him draw, color, paint, etc. on a vertical or slanted surface, because it forces him to hold the marker or crayon the right way.

Below is a picture of Eli, proud of his concoction of toys at his little table. He loves to say, “Did you see that, Mama?” when he makes something with his trucks, animals, pez dispensers, etc. I love it.

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Anyway, Eli asked me to take this picture of one of his cute dog stuffed animals. I think this is actually one of Charlie’s, but Eli loves it too.

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Potty training has continued to be okay, but it’s still a work in progress. Eli has pooped more times in his underwear than in his potty. It’s so gross. I’m a little tired of having a laundry basket full of pee-drenched pants and underwear (don’t worry, I’m washing it all often). But I do think Eli is getting it more… he just has a hard time if he’s in the middle of something and he hasn’t gone recently. I have to be really good about reminding him to go at least once an hour.

On a different note, Eli has started to say his nighttime prayer all by himself. It’s hilarious hearing what he’s thankful for (usually objects around the room). For some reason, he always says his solo prayer with a different voice, more like a voice he would use if he was playing with a stuffed animal and pretending it’s talking.

Tonight, Eli said he was going to say the prayer for his froggy. He began (in this muffled, slightly nasal voice),

“Dear Heavenly Father. We’re thankful for Mama. And Dada. And Eli. And Froggy… DID YOU HEAR THAT MAMA?? FROGGY SAID HIS NAME!”

Eli was so excited about this. Then he continued on with his prayer and afterward seemed quite pleased with himself. Funny boy.

Other than all of that, I’ve had a few freelance projects keeping me pretty busy. And Charlie’s naps have been so crazy lately, sometimes he naps for 3-4 hours in the morning, then doesn’t nap in the afternoon (which means he is MISERABLE from 3 p.m. until he goes to bed at 6:30 because I can’t stand the whining/crying anymore). Other times he does take two naps, yet he’s still cranky from about 5 p.m. on. Eli of course doesn’t nap at all, and he can be so irritable after 5 p.m. too.

So… if you ever call me between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., expect to potentially hear my crabby, fussing children in the background. That’s just the phase we’re in, I guess.

A few of the days last week, I’ve coped with the high-strung, tired kiddos by sending them over to the front door to watch for Ben to walk home. Even if he won’t walk in that door for 15 minutes… they stand there, often fighting/pushing/complaining to each other (well, Eli complains, Charlie just yells).

Other days, I’ve had to just fight the urge to run screaming into my bedroom and lock the door… :) Despite the evening chaos, these little guys are so fun and I feel lucky to have such cute boys running around, climbing on my lap, kissing my face. They are lovable, just not as much in those evening hours...

Videos from the Week – Boys Laughing and Valentine’s Day Morning

Just some clips to show the regular interactions going on at this house… the first is of the boys laughing at the table while eating lunch:

The next is on the morning of Valentine’s Day – Charlie was done with the bath and we were trying various clothes on him to get ready for the wedding that morning (no, he didn’t wear this ugly shirt/tie combo). But he kept escaping and running around upstairs and climbing the stairs. I love seeing his chubby, short legs running around. Eli was still in the bath and Charlie was dying to get back in the water.

Valentine's Day 2010 from Sarah on Vimeo.

Sledding Fun

Last weekend, I sent an email to our playgroup saying we were going sledding that morning if anyone wanted to join us. Of course, with the way our days seem to go, we ended up going an hour later than originally planned (Charlie’s morning nap was a long one). We didn’t have high hopes of seeing anyone we knew, but that was okay.

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Eli always takes a minute to warm up to the plan…

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But he had a great time sledding down the hill with Ben.

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Charlie was so cute in the little red sled that matched his coat -

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I went down a few times with Eli too. Here we are, starting to climb back up the hill.

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The fun thing is that we did end up seeing some friends – here are Jack and Jane (too bad her name wasn’t Jill) zooming down the hill -

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Poor Charlie could barely move with his snow pants and gear on -

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Jack in his cute sock monkey hat -

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By this time, Eli was having a great time! He loved the sledding.

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Ben talking to Jane’s dad, John -

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Charlie leaning against Ben for support – he looks like the Michelin Man -

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Ben took Charlie down the hill – Charlie had a blast.

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Then Eli started getting more brave and went down on his stomach, head first!

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So Eli went down on his belly and Ben went down with Charlie at the same time -

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Jane walking up the hill with her brother, Elliott -

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It was cute to see Eli having fun with kids a little older than him -

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Charlie sprawled out on the big sled -

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Jack was sweet with Eli and helped him carry his sled up the hill -

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It wasn’t too crowded, so Eli could sled down pretty safely.

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Charlie was tuckered out by the end… it was cold and his eyes were watering. We all had a lot of fun though!

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