Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Spirit

We're really having a lot of fun with Elias this Christmas season, and I plan to do a post after the holidays about the traditions we're starting with him in our home and how we're celebrating Christ's birth.  However, he's also just at a great age where he is starting to be able to understand and participate in everything, and we're just having a great time!  Here he is singing "Jingle Bells."  Note that what he lacks in lyrics, he makes up for in enthusiasm!  (He's shaking a snowman-shaped bell ornament in one hand, and a little jingle bell craft we made in the other.)

Saturday, December 11, 2010


There are so many cute things that Elias says, and I don't want to forget them when he's all grown up and talking like a Rhodes Scholar! So I'm going to make a list of the ones I can think of to capture them for posterity:

- He has a toy cell phone, and he combines "telephone" and "cell phone" to call it a "cellephone."
- He pronounces "Thank you" like "Gank you."
- Just like his mommy, he loves getting out and about each day - we both hate being stuck inside.  So every morning about 10:00, he'll start asking to "Get in the car, go bye-bye!"  We've usually always left for our daily errands by then, so it's rough on days we don't have anything to do!
- He loves to go with me to do the grocery shopping, and every day when we're getting ready to leave the house, he asks if we can go "Do some shoppin's." I confess, I taught him the word "shoppin's" - I didn't realize it would stick!
- He likes to cuddle, and when he wants to be held, he comes to us and says "Hold ya, please!" We're trying to get across the concept that it's "Hold ya," when we say it to him, but it's "Hold me," when he says it to us!
- As noted above, he refers to everyone in the third person, including himself. He calls himself "Elias John," which I think is precious. I've realized, though, that I model to him talking in the third person all the time, so instead of saying "Mommy loves you," I need to start saying "I love you."
- Both Justin and I have mentioned it before, but he sometimes calls Justin "Captain D's." We have no idea why.
- When asked "How are you?" he often replies "So big."  This always gets a big laugh, so I'm sure it encourages him to keep doing it!
- He's taken to spouting out some of the phrases he always hears us say to him.  Some of the ones that make me laugh the most are "Be careful!" "Don't touch!" and "Thanks for being patient, buddy."
- Speaking of patience, he knows every word to the old Kid's Praise song "Have patience."  (Remember the old Music Machine album??  To listen to the fruits of the Spirit section, go here.  Skip to about 0:41 to hear just the Herbert the Snail patience part.)  So whenever he starts fussing because we're not doing something fast enough, I'll say "Be patient!" and he'll automatically start singing the song!
- He's starting to learn opposites like on/off, up/down, etc. but he hasn't quite figured out exactly how to word things.  For example, when he's riding on Daddy's shoulders and wants to get down, he'll say "Daddy's shoulders off, please."  And today he asked Justin "Window off, please" when he wanted Justin to shut the blinds.
- He is very polite, though, and almost always says "please" when he's making a request!

I'm sure there are plenty more, but I've been slowly adding to this list for a couple weeks, and it's time to post it!  I'll begin another post with any new ones I think of.

In Mommy's Shoes

Since cold weather came, I've been wearing my purple slippers around the house.  Elias calls them my purple shoes.  So whenever he catches me not wearing them, he'll claim them for his own and shuffle around in them.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A Shutterfly Christmas

Many of you may have already seen people talking about the 50 free photo cards that Shutterfly is offering to bloggers who write about them on their blog.  So here is my little plug!

I'm a big fan of Shutterfly and all the really cute photo products you can get there!  I have given their photo books and photo mugs as gifts before, and honestly, when you have a kid as cute as mine, who WOULDN'T want a gift with his sweet face plastered across it?!?! 

They have a whole lot of cute options when it comes to their Christmas photo cards, though, and I'm really looking forward to designing one to send out to our family and friends.  They have a really neat feature on the left side of the page where you can narrow down exactly what you're looking for instead of having to browse through all 800+ of their options!  My choices of 5x7 folded cards that use 3 or more pictures narrowed it down to 85 cards to choose from - that's manageable!

A couple of my faves:
So watch your mailboxes in a couple weeks, and you'll see one of these sweet cards with our good-looking mugs on them!

And if you're a blogger, there are only 2 more days to take advantage of this awesome deal, so head over here and sign up RIGHT AWAY!

Walking Buster Doggie

Elias loves his Pound Puppy named Buster, and he enjoys an Elmo's World episode where Mr. Noodle shows us how to walk a dog. So I decided Elias might have fun if I tie a shoestring to Buster's collar and we take him for a walk. He loved it! It cracks me up when he says "This way!" to Buster, and you'll notice how "gentle" he is when petting his dog... This is (only in part) why we don't have a real dog.

He got a little tangled up there at the end, but I was proud of him for figuring out how to get out himself.

Side note about Buster: That Pound Puppy used to be Justin's when he was young!  Sweet family heirloom.  His name wasn't Buster until recently - Elias named him Buster after the little brown dog in the Boz the Bear show.


Elias and I like to play a game where he tries to throw the couch cushions over the back of the couch, and I play defense while shouting "Denied!" each time I prevent a cushion from falling. He thinks this is HILARIOUS, and I think it's pretty fun myself!!

100 Hoops

Justin is absolutely awesome at finding fantastic yard sale deals on toys for Elias.  One of his home runs was a toy called 100 Hoops, an electronic basketball hoop that combines basketball with learning how to count.  It has several different settings, but one of our favorites is where each shot earns 10 points, so you learn to count by tens to 100.  Here is Elias playing it:

You'll notice, of course, that Elias cheats and just pushes the button in the net instead of actually putting the ball through.  Ah well, at least he's learning to count the higher numbers!!! 

At one point, you'll hear him ask me to "Put it up."  We hang it on a higher hinge and I lift him up for each shot.  That's fun, but Mommy can only lift her 40-pound boy that high so many times!!!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Autumn Leaves

I've had these pics/video of Elias playing in the autumn leaves for a full two months.  I hadn't posted them yet, though, because I've been intending to get more video of the way he would play in the leaves.  But I never did and now it's 30 degrees out, so leaf-playing is over for this year.  Soooo, I'll post what I've got.  And what I've got is majorly cute.
Elias LOVED playing in the leaves!  His favorite thing to do what just sit and crush them in his hands - this is what I was waiting to get a video of.  Here's a video, though, of him "throwing" the leaves at Mommy and laughing.  Silly boy!


A full 2 weeks since I've posted on here.  Actually I thought it had been longer, so I guess 2 weeks isn't all that bad.  We went out of town for Thanksgiving, and I finally feel like I have my head back on straight!  Of course, 2 more weeks and we're leaving again for Christmas travels.  Ah well.  I have a whole bunch of awesome pics and videos that I'm hoping to get edited and posted here in the next few days!  Then it'll be another month before I post about Christmas.  ;)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Box = Fun

I got a big Pampered Chef delivery a couple weeks ago, and we realized that the box was Elias-sized! So once I got all my stuff out of it, I put it out for Elias to play in, and he loved it!For some reason, he likes to call it his "castle," and he also likes to put it over his head and play peek-a-boo. Big fun in a big box! In the video below, he's pretending he's Iggy the Iguana from one of his Diego shows, and he's "hibernating" in the box. Although it sounds like my idea in the video, he thought of it on his own first...

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Today my precious boy is exactly two-and-a-half years old! He is such a joy and delight! I wanted to take an official 2 1/2 picture, but I couldn't get him to sit still. So I held him in my lap and took a self-portrait, and I think it's really cute! I've been so curious to see how he's growing, but I've been making myself wait until this milestone to take measurements. So my very approximate measurements of Elias at 2 1/2 are below.

Weight: 41 lbs.
Height: 39.5"

In other words, still huge. (On growth charts, his height is above the 99th percentile, and his weight isn't even on the chart.) :) He is also still so smart, and we remain exceptionally proud of him! Some other noteworthy things about him at 2 1/2:

- He is still a HUGE eater. The doctor has been telling us for a full year that his appetite will be decreasing anytime now... and we're still waiting for that to happen. Some days he eats more than Justin! I cringe to think about trying to feed this child as a teenager.
- He is also still not a picky eater. He eats almost everything we put in front of him, for which I am extremely thankful.
- He knows all his numbers and letters, and he can read them all too. He's beginning to learn phonics, for which I completely thank Super Why.
- He can count to 50, and he's learning the upper half of 100 now too. He also knows some counting in French and Spanish, and he knows quite a few words in Spanish too, for which I thank Diego.
- He still loves to read. Other favorite things to do are: watch TV, play with trains, work puzzles, build towers with large lego-type blocks, and roughhouse with Daddy.
- He can roll his tongue like his mommy!
- He only naps about 4 days a week, but even on days he doesn't nap, he stays in his room and rests on his bed for most of the time.
- He is a great night sleeper, going to bed at 8pm (How quickly he falls asleep depends on whether or not he napped that day) and getting up at 7am.
- His language is very good, and we're thankful that he's able communicate a lot of what he wants. Generally his only meltdowns are when he's tired and not thinking clearly.
- He has absolutely no interest in using the potty, although he enjoys sitting on it every day and reading his "Potty Time with Elmo" book.

Hmm. That's all I can think of at the moment. I'll add more as I think of them! I'm also compiling a list of Elias-isms, which is cute things he says, and I'll post that another time. All in all, I am so thankful and proud of our precious blessing, and I still maintain my claim that motherhood just gets more and more fun!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thoughts on Airport Security

If you've seen some of my tweets recently, you'll know that I'm pretty upset about the new security screening measures that have been implemented at US airports in the past few weeks. For those of you who haven't seen the news about them, they are implementing two different new screening techniques. Like the previous security techniques, not everyone will have to go through these, but random passengers will be flagged for extra screening. In the past, that meant the flagged passengers would be checked with a hand-held metal detector, and sometimes a cursory pat-down. Now, however, the flagged passenger will have two options. They either need to go into an Advanced Imaging machine, which is a full-body x-ray that allows the security personnel to see under all their clothes and make sure nothing is hidden there. If they opt out of the x-ray machine, they will be subjected to an "enhanced pat-down," which involves the security personnel touching every part of their body. Every. Part. Here is a CNN article that summarizes a lot of the current debate.

I have several objections to these new measures, and I'm outlining them below:

1. Radiation = Potential Physical Health Risk
This is actually my weakest argument, so it might be strange that I'm listing it first... There's a method to my madness, so keep reading! If a person is flagged for extra security, they will be directed to the Advanced Imaging machine, which uses x-rays to allow security personnel to look under a person's clothes and see if they're hiding any dangerous items. There is obviously a privacy issue here, because this basically amounts to having a stranger scrutinize a picture of your naked body. However, I am also concerned about the radiation a person will receive in one of these machines. This is the TSA's website describing the x-ray machines and claiming their complete safety. This is a letter from the science faculty at UCSF expressing concern on this front, and I think it brings up some valid points. This is the responding letter from the FDA, which they claim answers all of the concerns from the first letter. I'm not a physicist or whatever you'd need to be to know the jargon, so I didn't understand much of the second letter, but I believe their claims that it answers the questions. However, it's common knowledge that too much radiation is harmful to the human body. So I would still be afraid for frequent travelers or people whose bodies are already weakened by age or illness - I'm just not convinced that it's completely safe for long-term use. Two major pilot's unions have also advised their airline personnel to avoid these machines, because pilots and airline personnel would definitely be the ones with most frequent exposure to them. That makes me nervous about their safety.

2. Personal Violation = Mental Health Risk
The people that choose not to go through one of the Advanced Imaging Machines, however, will be submitted to an "enhanced pat-down," which from reports I've seen amount to nothing less than sexual molestation. Here is one woman's account of her seriously disturbing encounter with airport security. She found it so traumatic that she is requesting the TSA to provide her with counseling services to deal with the emotional aftermath of the encounter. I saw on the news the story of one pilot who was so emotionally shaken after his physical violation at the security checkpoint, that he was no longer fit to fly his airplane. This is SERIOUSLY not ok.

3. Probability is Miniscule
I watch the news almost every night, so I consider myself fairly well-informed about the goings-on in threats to US air travel safety. To my knowledge there has only been one person who has ever made it onto a plane with an incendiary device hidden in private places - last year's Christmas Day Underwear Bomber. If there have been others, the security system that was already in place was sufficient to discover them. So is it really worth it to risk the physical and emotional health of millions of travelers as outlined in my first two points, not to mention completely violating their personal privacy, on the off chance that someone else may try something similar??

4. Won't Find Everything
I don't really know exactly where the Underwear Bomber was keeping his weapons, but I'm not convinced that even the new enhanced security measures would've found them. Neither the Advanced Imaging Technology nor the enhanced pat-downs would find something that a person is hiding inside a body cavity. Plus, not every passenger will be selected for the enhanced screening. PLUS, not every security line at every airport is equipped with the technology to do the advanced screenings. So the chances still seem like one-in-a-million that even the new enhanced measures would actually catch a would-be attacker.

5. Terrorists Still Win
This is what I feel is my most compelling argument against these enhanced security measures. I believe that a terrorist's chief aim is not death and destruction, but fear. Hence the name TERRORist. With these enhanced security measures, the TSA has made me exceedingly more afraid to fly than I ever was with the threat of a terrorist attack. And there are thousands of citizens who feel the same way I do about it, and are refusing to fly until the enhanced security measures are reversed. I know I certainly won't be flying unless there is absolutely no way it can be avoided. So since I, and thousands of others like me, am now afraid to fly, and our transportation opportunities are severely disrupted, and our airline industry will definitely suffer, and our freedoms and rights as American citizens are threatened, doesn't this just mean the terrorists still win? Seems like it to me.

I don't want to just complain about the current situation without offering a reasonable alternative. To me it makes a whole lot more sense to equip aircraft personnel to be able to handle any threats on their planes than to try to thoroughly screen every single passenger to prevent threats from coming on a plane. Not that the above "enhanced" measures even come close to doing this. But even if they did, they still involve traumatizing and violating a large number of ordinary citizens, almost all of which are completely innocent. So instead I say they need to seriously beef up the air marshal program, and why not have at least one air marshal on every single flight? And also, why not take advantage of the airline personnel that are already on the flight? Train pilots and flight attendants in awareness and defense. This is how the Underwear Bomber was foiled, and it just makes plain sense to me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Big Fun with Daddy

I had a friend ask me today whether Elias was a Mommy's Boy or a Daddy's Boy, and I really didn't have an answer for her. He's both! Elias spends so much time with both of us and seems to enjoy us both so much! He has to spend time with me by default, since I'm the one keeping him all day, but Justin does a REALLY great job of making sure to spend time with Elias and make sure Elias knows he loves him. He's such a great dad! One thing Daddy definitely does more than Mommy is physical play. Elias is just too heavy for me to be able to carry or throw him around! So Elias will ask me to "Go faster" (run around the room crazily while holding him) or "Swing" (swing him up to the ceiling) or "Go up and down" (do pushups while letting Elias lean on my back), and I have to tell him no - those are Daddy's games! Another fun thing Daddy has started doing recently is letting Elias ride on his shoulders!Elias will run up to Justin and say "Daddy's shoulders, please!" and that means he wants to go for a ride. So sweet!

A few weeks ago, we got a package in the mail from Nana & Granddad that included a cute little collapsible frisbee. Elias LOVES it! So here is a video of him playing frisbee with Daddy.

He doesn't quite have the hang of throwing it yet, but he sure likes chasing it!

So my boys are so precious together, and I'm so thankful that Elias has a loving Daddy who spends so much time with him!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Too Cool for School

If you clicked over to the link I posted for Justin's recent blog about Elias, then you've already seen this picture. But I couldn't resist posting it here too!For the first two years of his life, Elias REFUSED to wear sunglasses or anything else on or near his face. But then we had that trip to the gym where we played racquetball with some friends, and Elias had to wear goggles for that. So once he crossed that hurdle of consenting to wearing something on his face, he has LOVED wearing his sunglasses ever since! He'll ask for them whenever we're riding in the car on a sunny day. And he looks so handsome in them too!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Character Impersonations

Elias loves to quote scenes from his favorite shows, and he has started using different voices for the different characters! In the video below, I'm trying to get him to quote a scene from one of his Thomas & Friends shows where Buster the Steamroller is needed urgently at a job on a soccer field. He arrives at the field to discover he's needed because the field is full of molehills. So he exclaims, "Yay! Molehills! It's like a chocolate chip cookie, but green!" I don't usually have to prompt Elias to say the whole line, but he never performs for the camera... :) I think you still get the idea of the funny voice he uses for Buster.

Justin's Daddy Thoughts

You know that I have been seriously slacking on posting updates about what Elias is doing, and so I'm thankful that Justin was inspired yesterday to write a really great summary of what it's like to be Elias' dad right now! I'm definitely working on videos and pics from the recent months, so stay tuned for those, but in the meantime, read this to hear Justin's perspective!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Grandma's Book

I was browsing through our recent pictures to see what needed to be posted on here, and I discovered these from months ago that I had promised my mom I would post. Sorry for leaving you hanging, Mom!
My mom sent Elias a book that is so cool because it actually recorded her reading it, so all he has to do is turn the pages, and he can hear Grandma reading him the story! I think that is so precious!!! I love listening to it, too, just because I like hearing my mom's voice! And the book itself is really cute. It's called "Thank You, God, for Everything!" Here is a brief video of him reading it and turning the pages:

He has pretty much the whole thing memorized, and the funniest part is that he even memorized the title page and Grandma's message to him. So he'll walk around saying "Thank You, God, for Everything. A gift for Elias, read to you by Grandma. I love you!" How cute is that?!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Hear Me R04R

Some of you may have noticed that I seem to have completely abandoned my blog. Well, that's not really intentional... It's mostly just a combination of being busy and lazy. I definitely still see value in posting on here to help keep our far away loved ones updated on how Elias is growing, and I do intend to keep doing that! It's just not high on my priority list right now, and I apologize to the grandmas who are pining for another E video!

One thing that has pushed blogging even further down my priority list is that I've started a new work-at-home job! My brother-in-law started a business called R04R (pronounced "roar") that makes affordable Android and iPhone apps for churches and ministries, and he has hired me to be their Social Media Representative. That means that I manage their Twitter and Facebook accounts and their blog. It's been about 3 weeks now, and it's going well, so I thought I'd let everybody know! It's not very time-intensive, but it's still another thing that I do in a day that keeps me from making the time for my personal blog.

It's a great business, though, that provides a really valuable service for Christian organizations! So come check us out, especially if you're in any kind of church leadership - and pass on the word about us too!

Our website: - Click the Blog tab to read the blog!
Our Twitter page:!/r04r
Our Facebook page:

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

For Jessica

My sister wrote me an email yesterday about how I should appreciate the time I have with my little guy while he is little. Her boys have recently started going to all day school, and she went back to work, so I know she has to be missing all that special time she had with her little boys when they were little and she was staying home with them. I have recently been thinking along the same lines - I know this time in Elias' life will be fleeting, and I never know when our circumstances might change. So I've been trying to be intentional about actually engaging to sit down and play with him during the day, and I've recently resolved to have him watch less TV during the day and play with him more. So Jessica's email just added to that resolve. And in her email, she also suggested to have a little extra patience with my little one today, and do something special with him.

So in honor of Jessica, we did something fun. A mommy blog that I read suggested today to try pudding painting with little guys, since they often will eat finger paint. We didn't have any pudding on hand, so we tried it with applesauce!The applesauce ended up not being a very good medium for painting, but we did draw some shapes in it. (I thought later that we should've tried it with yogurt. Ah well, next time.) And we had fun, which was the point! So thank you, Aunt Jessica!

And also for Jessica, I'm trying valiantly to be patient with my child who is refusing to nap AGAIN, which he does most of the time these days.

And also for Jessica, I'm trying valiantly to be patient with my child who hasn't used the potty again since the one time I posted about it weeks ago.

Man! Elias doesn't even KNOW how what a debt he owes Aunt Jessica today!!!

Note - I'm not really stressed out about the potty. It's just another thing I'm being patient about, and I wanted to update you all on the fact that it looks like we are NOT potty training after all. Currently I'm in the school of thought that says "He'll do it when he's ready." Ask me again in a year. But I am pretty stressed out about the nap strike. :(

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Ack! Apparently we are now potty training! Elias has been practicing sitting on the potty for a couple weeks, but he's never actually tried to use it. But today he did! So apparently we are now potty training! Oy. Pray for us!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Over the summer, I decided to do an experiment. I don't remember exactly why, but I decided I was going to drive at or below the speed limit. This may be unexceptional to many of you, but my practice before this was to always drive 3 or 4 mph over the speed limit (or more on the highway) - I considered that to be "safe" from getting pulled over. However, I think my conscience just started to bother me. I mean, whenever I'd see a policeman clocking, I'd have to slam on my brakes to try to slow down to the speed limit. And I always knew that if I got pulled over, I deserved the ticket because I was, in fact, breaking the law. So that's probably why I started the experiment. Now I don't worry at all whenever I see a cop - I just continue on my merry way! I was surprised at how easy it was to stay within the speed limit. Once I got used to it, now I actually find myself tending to go below the speed limit if I'm not paying attention rather than above it. The drivers behind me aren't always so happy at this, but I'm good with that. (Note: This isn't intended to be any kind of judgment or statement about the driving habits of my readers. You do whatever works for you. I'm just sharing what works for me. Please keep reading!)

The reason I'm good with that is because of the unexpected side effect this has had in my life... I find that I am generally a lot more relaxed than I was before. I don't have to worry about rushing around and trying to get everywhere at the fastest possible rate of speed. I plan to leave early enough to get wherever I'm going on time, but if that doesn't happen, I prefer to go the speed limit and just be a few minutes late. Nothing in my schedule is going to be a disaster if I'm not there at the stroke of the clock. And I'm really just enjoying time in the car more, I enjoy listening to the radio more, I'm just chilling out and enjoying the ride. Kind of the "taking time to stop and smell the roses" concept.

But I think this also speaks to the concept of enjoying the journey instead of focusing solely on the destination, and this is a theme in my life and spiritual life too these days. I want to slow down and enjoy the Terrible Two's instead of focusing only on the day Elias turns three (or goes to school or starts to drive or becomes a responsible adult...). And this is definitely a concept God has been working on in my spiritual life, too. I get so frustrated and discouraged whenever I have any kind of stumble or setback. I tell myself "You should know better by now!" But what God is telling me about this, first of all, is that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). So any voices that are condemning me for failure are NOT from Him. But secondly, He never intended for our spiritual lives to be only about the destination, but to be a journey from birth to death. None of us will achieve perfection in this life, but we are all on a journey toward holiness that will end at Heaven. Have I moved forward in my spiritual walk? Am I more like Christ than I was 5 years ago? If so, then I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, regardless of whether or not I still struggle and sin. We all do, and that's ok.

I've been feeling, though, like there's an even further spiritual application here, and I've been struggling to put my finger on it until I read this morning's (October 19) devotion in My Utmost for His Highest. I've selected the parts that were most meaningful to me to post here. Read the entire devotion here.
In our Lord's life, there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others...
You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress or strain is going to be placed on you... And if you waste your time in over-activity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God's redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.
This also reminds me of the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus came to visit at Mary and Martha's house. While Martha bustled around trying to get everything just right to serve Jesus, Mary just sat at His feet. Martha got upset and asked Jesus to tell Mary to get up and help her, but Jesus said Mary made the better choice of how to spend her time. That's an old story in my world, but always one that gives me a reality check. Would Jesus tell me that I'm anxious and worked up over too many things, and I need to think about whether my priorities line up with His?

This is an exceptionally good lesson for me as a stay-at-home mom. As I'm getting perspective on it, I've come to realize that a lot of my depression that began after Elias was born was rooted in how dramatically my sphere changed. I went from being a world traveler, employed full-time, and free to come and go as I pleased, to being stuck at home most of the time making a paycheck of $0, with a total of two people in my daily sphere of influence. Culture shock! And I just felt unimportant, useless. I was unable to serve in the many ways I did before becoming a mom, and that left me questioning where my value came from. As I explore that question, God's answer is clear: my value comes because I am His. Period. And instead of seeing my time staying home with Elias as limiting me, I need to see it for what it is. It is a gift straight from God, a season where all that is required of me spiritually is to sit at Jesus' feet. Sure, I do a lot - I am in no way trying to minimize the contribution of a stay-at-home mom to the life and well-being of her family! I get that. But when it comes to ministry, serving at church, etc., that just doesn't fit into my lifestyle much right now. And what God is telling me is that's ok. The thing that is most important is to sit at His feet, to be rooted and grounded in Him, to relax and enjoy the journey that will ultimately take me into His presence.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kite Flying

Elias' favorite movie right now is Thomas and the Runaway Kite. So he knows all about kites and kite flying, and it randomly occurred to me yesterday that I bought him a kite last year in the end-of-summer clearance, and we had never even opened it! So I found it and pulled it out, and we took it out flying today! It's a cool inflatable Elmo kite, so it was really easy to fly! Elias LOVED it! At first he just wanted to walk around the field holding the kite, which was exciting in itself.But eventually I convinced him to let me try to get it up in the air. We succeeded on only the second try, and it stayed up for about 15 minutes with very little effort. Here's Elias enjoying the kite:

Sweet times with my little man.

Unfortunately, he was playing with it when we got home and he popped it. So this maybe was our only fun flying experience with the Elmo kite... So I'm glad I have it documented! Hopefully I'll figure out how to repair it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Don't Feel Like Singing!

Here's the last post in my current Songs of Elias series. This one was just too funny not to share! In case any of you are tempted to think that our life is all floating around singing The Sound of Music with birds chirping and bunnies hopping around, here is one of the outtakes when I was trying to record his singing:

HA! You'll notice that he's pretty out of it - he still hadn't woken up completely from his afternoon nap... And he just didn't want to sing right now! Ok, dude. Gotcha.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Do Re Mi in His Sleep

As I said here, Elias loves the Do Re Mi song from The Sound of Music. He sings it all the time! I totally cracked up one night when he was singing it in bed before he fell asleep! So I filmed a little bit of it on the video monitor... You can't see much - his head is on the right side of the screen and he's laying on his back, if you want to try to watch him. But you can hear him singing, and you can see the red lights lighting up along the bottom of the monitor as he's singing. Seriously, he did this for a full 15 minutes - I just filmed a little bit of it!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

To the Gym

We recently discovered that the fitness center at the university where Justin works has a really neat Family Gym that we can use. I can't believe I lived here for more than 2 years without knowing this, but I'm going to take full advantage of it now that I know! I'm making up for lost time! This place is so cool because it has all sorts of fun things I can take Elias to do, and it's indoors and free to use! Win-win-win! So we've been going there at least once a week since the semester started - we call it "going to the gym," and Elias has started to ask for it!

It has a big open gym with three full basketball courts, and we can use their balls to play. Elias loves to watch Mommy "shoot hoops," although there's more airballing than anything else! Then upstairs there is a big walking track that Elias and I like to walk around.Elias likes that it looks down onto the gym, so we can see anybody playing down there. There is also a big rock-climbing wall, which is definitely too much for us. However, they also have a smaller version for kids and weenies like me. It's only like 10 feet tall, but it's fun to try to climb it! And there are soft cushions to catch you if you fall, and Elias likes to flop and play on the cushions.
We have some friends who first told us about this place - David is a professor at the university, and Elias and I have become good friends with his wife Jodee and their son Ethan. Ethan is only about 6 months older than Elias, so they're on pretty much the same level. Ethan and Elias call the rock-climbing area "caves," and they like to explore the caves together. Cute!

The last time we met Jodee and Ethan at the gym, they introduced us to an activity that it would've never occurred to me to try with Elias - racquetball! Here are Elias, Ethan, and Jodee in the racquetball court:You can't play in the court unless you're wearing goggles, and so I was afraid that was going to foil our efforts to play in there. Elias has NEVER been willing to wear sunglasses or anything else on his face, and he was pretty resistant to the idea at first. But he watched Ethan put his right on and have fun playing and bouncing the ball in there, and after about 10 minutes, Elias finally submitted. How cute is he in his racquetball gear???
I wanted to get a picture of the boys together... Here is Ethan standing nicely for the picture, and Elias wandering away with the racquet. Sigh.
Anyway, we're thankful for new friends and for this awesome facility where we can come and play together!!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

After the Race

After the race, Justin and I navigated to downtown Kansas City, where I had scored a ridiculous deal on Hotwire for a 4-star hotel! It was the Hyatt Regency Crown Center, which has the only revolving restaurant in Kansas City on its roof. The hotel was pretty full that night, so they placed us in an executive suite on the 39th(!) floor - it was equipped for conference meetings with a full 6-seat conference table in it! The coolest thing about the room was the view out our windows!Seeing as we were dressed in NASCAR gear, windswept, and covered head-to-toe in racing grime and debris, we opted out of the fancy schmancy revolving restaurant. Instead, we used the skylink to walk over to the Crown Center, an indoor 3-story mall that had several places to eat. We chose Fritz's Railroad Restaurant in honor of our little man at home. It was your standard burger joint food, but the cool thing about the place is that your food is delivered by a train!You pick up a little phone at the table and call in your order. A live person brings your drinks and other things that might spill, but then a little train comes along a rail that runs along the top of the wall and brings the rest of your food! Rather than trying to describe to you how it works, I found a video on youtube... So click here if you want to see it! :) I unfortunately forgot our camera, so these pictures were taken on the cell phone. Justin and I thought that either Elias would've loved the place, or he would've majorly melted down over not being able to touch the train. So we were glad to be able to just sit down and enjoy a meal together without the danger of anybody melting down!

In all, we had a great weekend, and we're so thankful for all the friends and family who made it happen!

Monday, October 04, 2010

NASCAR, Part 3: The Race

Have I mentioned how cool it was for Justin and me to be at a NASCAR event and how awestruck we were? Um, yeah. It was so neat being able to actually see a race! Before the race started, we went over to the garage area for the Nationwide cars and got to see them lining up to go out onto the track. As I mentioned previously, the Nationwide race we attended on Saturday is like the minor league of NASCAR, and the Sprint Cup race on Sunday is the major league and the one we usually watch and follow. However, there are several drivers that drive in both leagues, and so I had decided to root for two of the drivers that I like in the Sprint Cup: Carl Edwards and Joey Logano. Here is Carl's crew pushing his car to line up before the race:The drivers weren't in their cars yet - the crew would just push the car out to the right place. But that was neat in itself because a good driver needs a good crew to be successful, so these guys deserve as much respect as the driver!

Then we walked over to the grandstand and took our seats. Here's a view from our seats before the race:
We were in the 10th row, so we were right down on the track! So cool! Here's a video of the cars zooming by in the first lap of the race. Warning: Turn down your volume! It's WAY loud!

We wore earplugs the entire time because it was so loud! You may have also noticed in previous pictures of us that we were in hats and jackets - it was cool and windy. I was glad the race was in the afternoon because if it had lasted after the sun went down, I would've been too cold to stay!

Ok, so I must confess that it's easier to follow a race on TV than when you're there. Unless you pay $50 to rent one of their little video scanners that gives you commentary and lets you know what to look for, it's a little hard to know exactly what's going on. However, it was still exciting to watch them pass each other and spin out, and to root for my drivers. And lo and behold, one of the drivers I was rooting for, Joey Logano, actually won the race! It was an exciting finish and fun to watch.

After a driver wins a race, he celebrates by spinning his car around to make a lot of smoke with his tires - it's called a burnout. So here's Joey's burnout:

So it was such a great experience to actually be able to go to a race and see it all in person! I will definitely have a greater appreciation for what I'm seeing on TV now that I've seen it live.

Note: A friend gave us the tickets to this race completely free, and that was such a blessing!! Many, MANY thanks to Steve and his family who provided this amazing experience for Justin and me!!!

NASCAR, Part 2: FanWalk

The first thing we did when we got to the Speedway was take the FanWalk. You pay just a little bit extra, and you can walk through a tunnel under the track to visit the infield and see the garages, drivers, crews, and cars up close. It was stinkin' awesome. TOTALLY worth fifteen bucks!! This is the tunnel under the track:We walked around to the area where we got to see Victory Lane, where the winner goes to receive the trophy after the race.
And then we got to see the garage area and all the transport trucks.We weren't actually allowed to go IN the garage, but we got pretty darn close! They call the fence where the fans can stand Autograph Alley because sometimes the drivers, owners, and/or crew will come by and sign autographs. We didn't hang out long enough to get any, but it was neat to be so close!We were there during the time when the driver's for Sunday's Sprint Cup race (the major leagues!) were having their practice! So they would drive a few laps around the track, then come into the garage for an adjustment, then drive a couple more laps, come back in, etc. So we got to see our favorite drivers drive by several times! (Warning: Turn your volume down! These videos are loud!)

In this video, you see Tony Stewart (#14), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88), Jeff Gordon (#24), Jamie McMurray (#1), Jimmie Johnson (#48), Juan Pablo Montoya (#42), and J.J. Yeley (#36) drive by. Some of these are the biggest names in motorsports! And they drove not 20 feet from where we were standing! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

You can see in the above pictures that the very first berth in the garage from where we were standing was the Lowe's #48 - Jimmie Johnson's team. Jimmie is Justin's favorite driver, and he is THE single best driver in all of motorsports, so it was so cool that we were able to see his car and team so close! His crew chief, Chad Knaus, was standing on top of the big transport truck to watch Jimmie's practice. (Read Justin's 2007 tribute to Knaus here.) It was so cool to be able to see him in action! And then when practice was over, we actually got to see Jimmie himself get out of his car and walk over to the truck! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek again!
Too bad my camera snapped a half second too late to catch Jimmie between those two people! Ah well, here's Jimmie's left side anyway (mostly hidden behind the man in black in the center). Jeff Gordon, my favorite driver, was in a garage berth a bit further down the line. So I was able to see him walk from his car to his truck, but it was too far to even try to get a picture.

This was so awesome - Justin and I were totally starstruck! We looked at each other several times and said "I can't believe we're here!" We've been NASCAR fans for about 5 years now, so this is a BIG deal for us!

Note: A friend gave us the tickets to this race completely free, and that was such a blessing!! Many, MANY thanks to Steve and his family who provided this amazing experience for Justin and me!!!

NASCAR, Part 1: Sea of Humanity

It only took a few minutes after arriving at the parking lot of Kansas Speedway before Justin and I decided this is the coolest thing we have ever done together. Our minds were totally blown!We parked about a mile(?) away from the Speedway and just walked through a massive sea of people and cars to get to the track itself. We could not believe how many cars and people were there!Below is the preferred parking section for those who pay extra for box seats. Check out all the flags and tailgating tents! And it goes ALLL the way back in the distance, as far as the eye can see!The grandstand was PACKED, which surprised us because the race we attended was the Nationwide Series, which is like the minor league of auto racing. The Speedway's website says that the grandstand holds 82,000. Umm, yeah. There were at LEAST that many people there! Not counting all the drivers, crew, workers, and people camping in the infield! Un. Believable!I do not even want to imagine the crowd at Sunday's race!

Note: A friend gave us the tickets to this race completely free, and that was such a blessing!! Many, MANY thanks to Steve and his family who provided this amazing experience for Justin and me!!!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Awesome Weekend

We had such an awesome weekend!! My in-laws came into town and visited for a few days, then they kept Elias on Saturday and Sunday so Justin and I could have a little getaway! We went to Kansas City and watched a NASCAR race, so stay tuned to hear all about that! But Elias had so much fun with his Nana and Granddad, and he did AWESOME for the first time we had ever been away from him overnight! We're so thankful for the time Nana and Granddad gave us, and we're so thankful to have such a sweet boy that did so well without us!

Elias modeling Granddad's hat:
One of the highlights of the weekend for Elias was that Nana and Granddad bought him his first tricycle! It has a Thomas-theme, so what's not to love?? (Click here to see all the features!) He still doesn't have the hang of pedaling yet, but he loves to sit on it and push the buttons, and he's learning. I'm sure I'll post more about it as he learns! Thank you for loving us so much and for giving us such a great weekend, Nana and Granddad!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Do Re Mi

This post has been a long time coming, but I've finally compiled all the video footage I want to go along with it! A LOOOOOOOOOOONG time ago, Justin introduced Elias to the Do Re Mi song from The Sound of Music. First he was just playing the scale on the keyboard, then they started watching the clip of that scene on youtube. Well, Elias just REALLY took to that song, and he LOVES it! So a couple times a week, we'll put in the Sound of Music DVD and watch the entire Do Re Mi scene. Elias loves it! He's transfixed! And by now he has learned ALL the words, and he sings the song ALL the time.

I left in the ending of this video because it's so hilarious! This kid can jump tracks and go full throttle in a different direction... You have to be sharp to keep up with him! Instead of finishing Do Re Mi, he sings "All aboard and close the doors!" - the first line to the Thomas and Friends Sounds Song.

Anyhow he doesn't just know the words to the Do Re Mi songs - he has learned all the dialogue between the segments. If you watch this version of the Do Re Mi scene, there are subtitles with all the dialogue as well as the lyrics - this is the one we watch on the computer. Because of this, I notice little things in the script that otherwise I wouldn't have paid attention to. But Elias picks up them ALL. It's almost like he can read the subtitles - maybe just the fact that they're there make him pay more attention to the words he's hearing. Anyway, he can say every word in the whole scene! So funny! In the first part of this next video, he's shouting the syllables the way the children do at the beginning of the scene. Then in the second part, he's singing all the words to the end section.

My sweet boy!!! I LOVE that he loves this movie! Whenever we have the DVD in, we also watch the yodeling puppet scene of the Lonely Goatherd, and he likes that one too... He'll be yodeling next!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blue = Thomas

I've posted many times here that Elias is completely obsessed with all things Thomas the Train, and now I have another example! He's recently started saying that everything blue is Thomas. Blue block? It's Thomas. Blue book? It's Thomas. Blue sippy? Duh, it's Thomas! And it isn't just Thomas, it's all his friends too. He'll line up 15 different blocks and assign them all names by color, corresponding to whatever color the engine is on the show! Here's an example:

Cracks me up! He came up with that all on his own, too! You may also note that after the James block, he says "Colin the Crane!" There are two crane characters on Thomas and Friends, and Elias loves building them with blocks. And in our house, they are differentiated by the fact that Cranky's top is yellow, while Colin's is purple. (Those are not their colors on the show, but that's just what Elias came up with.) So saying "Colin the Crane!" meant that he was looking for the purple block so we could build him. At least he's got a good imagination!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Parks & Recreation

We have had a great time over the summer going to the park and playing in the nice weather. I never take my camera with us, but I can take pictures on my phone. But I forgot that I've been taking pictures of Elias playing at the park this summer, and I recently just found them on my phone! So here's a random mix of Elias playing at two different parks here in our town. Now that the weather is cooling off a bit, it's perfect to go play at the park, so we're going to enjoy it while we can!!One morning when we went to the park, the playground equipment was still wet from the dew, and there were puddles on it. Elias had a great time splashing in them!

I left the end part of him walking away so you could see how wet his bottom was from sitting in the puddle before he went down the slide! Oh well. It didn't slow him down any! And what's a playground for if not to get messy and have fun?!?!

His hands-down favorite park activity is still swinging. However, this summer he also discovered the merry-go-round, which he also loves! I have tried and tried to get a good video of him laughing and enjoying it, but he always completely freezes up when he sees the camera. What a goof. This is the best I got. This was at the beginning of the summer before they oiled the merry-go-round, so try to ignore the squeaks!

You may also note that in both videos, the first thing he says when he realizes he's being filmed is "Good morning!" I have no idea why he does this. I think it must be something Justin taught him...Yeah, doesn't he look like he's having a great time on the merry-go-round. Woo hoo.

In August he got his first playground injury. Nothing major - just fell and scraped his knee on the rocks. But I had to document it for posterity's sake!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thank You, Great-Grandma!

A couple weeks ago, we got a surprise package in the mail from my grandmother, who lives in the Chicago area. It was chock-full of clothes that are going to be great for the coming cold weather months, so I was extremely thankful! And there was one toy in it - a little flashlight shaped like a tiger... You squeeze its tail and its mouth opens, it growls, and the light comes on! Way cute, and Elias loves it! So we promptly colored a thank you card and got it in the mail, but we also made sure Elias knew who it was from, and we taught him how to say "Thank you, Great-Grandma!" Well, he apparently closely relates that phrase to the flashlight, because he often out of the blue just says "Thank you, Great-Grandma!" which means he's thinking about playing with his tiger flashlight! So we think about you a lot, Great-Grandma, and thank you continuously at our house for your generous gift! :) Here's a video of Elias playing with the flashlight and saying thank you.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Big Childhood Moment

Today Elias crossed a HUGE milestone in American childhood... He played at the McDonald's Play Place for the first time!! We had some time to kill while our car was getting an oil change, and it just so happens that our oil change place is right across the street from McDonald's! So Mommy got a Mocha Frappe and Elias played. It. Was. Great! You may remember that Elias (and the rest of us for that matter) doesn't care for McDonald's food (Frappes are excluded from this statement!!), but we certainly love the Play Place! I'm a fan because it's safe - I don't have to hover over him every minute like I do at the playground. So he can just climb around and play while I enjoy my frappe! Sweet. Literally. So here are a few pictures of my big guy having fun.When I was getting these pictures off the phone, I discovered some from earlier in the summer that I forgot to download, so I plan to get those posted this week. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 13, 2010


For a long time, Elias liked to bend over and put his head on the floor and look between his legs saying, "I'm upside down!" But then one day I picked up his feet and flipped him over, and he LOVED it! Upside down is no longer adequate entertainment for this guy. He wants to TUMBLE!

Now he'll often just run up and stand like that in front of us, shouting "Tumble!" between his legs. Hilarious! One problem is that he doesn't understand that you have to have adequate space to tumble... He'll run up and do that in tiny spaces where he would definitely injure himself or break something (or both) if we tried to tumble there. But we just move to a larger open area and tumble to our heart's content!

He also always likes to lay on the floor, flop his feet, and laugh after tumbling like he does in this video. I don't know why, but we always do! To me, it seems like he's going to hurt his feet kicking them on the floor that hard, but I guess if it hurt he wouldn't keep doing it!

Note: Sorry about the glare from the window in the video! I didn't realize that was there until after we already got the good shot!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Washing Hands

We have been trying for months to get Elias to learn how to wash his hands in the sink, but he had some sort of mental block with it... He was actually afraid of it! Months ago, I bought him a little step stool to be able to stand at the sink, and he screamed in terror the first few times I tried to get him to stand on it. Oooooooook, guess you're not ready. So I just put it away for a while. Then when we moved into our new house in June, I just put the stool out in his bathroom so he could get used to it being there, and eventually it just clicked. Now he suddenly loves the thing and can't get enough of standing at the sink and washing his hands!

He hasn't figured out how to actually wash them yet, but he can turn the water on and off, rub his hands together after I put soap on them, and dry them on a towel. Still struggling with getting soap and then rinsing it off. And he generally only wants to wash his right hand, so I have to force his left hand in there too. But we're definitely making progress!

We're kind of trying the same approach with the potty as with the stool. We just have his potty seat next to the toilet, and occasionally we look at it. He knows how to put it on the toilet and take it back off again. And once he even sat on it fully clothed! I was just excited he sat on it and wasn't freaked out! I'm not at all in a rush with the potty training process, so I figure slow and steady will win this race. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

No Children Were Harmed...

... in the making of this photograph. I just thought I'd make that clear from the start because the picture below looks like something tragic might be happening! But no, it's just that I have a weird kid. And this is how he likes to nap:Doesn't that look terrible?? But about half the time that's how I'll see he has fallen asleep at naptime. He'll lay this way for about an hour, and then he usually rolls over and sleeps like a normal person. He doesn't do this at night... Maybe he puts the pillow over his face to make it dark? I just thought of that. Anyways, it was so funny I had to share!

I have a whole bunch of videos that I want to get edited to post on here, but I went ahead and posted this picture to tide you over while I try to get them done. Keep checking back, though!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

St. Louis with Grandpa & Grandma

Last weekend we took a whirlwind trip to spend Labor Day weekend with Grandpa & Grandma. They drove in from Cincinnati, and we drove in from Bolivar, and we had a great time for a couple days together! We stayed in a 2-bedroom suite at a hotel, and it worked out great with our own bedrooms plus a full kitchen and living area. Elias did great, and I'm so thankful for that!

On Saturday we went to the St. Louis Children's Museum, the Magic House. It was really cool, although I think it would've been more fun if Elias was just a little bit older. We did have a good time, though, and it was fun to play together. Here is Elias going down the slide at the indoor playground:This was a set of pipes that you were supposed to flop the shoe over the mouth to hear the different tones that each one made. Elias didn't get it, but at least he tried!They had a neat water play section that Elias enjoyed. I thought it was so cool that they had the aprons you could put on to keep your kid from getting totally soaked. Of course, he got soaked anyway, but I only had to change his shirt instead of his entire outfit. Go apron!

Then on Sunday we went to the St. Louis Zoo, which is totally awesome! It's neat because it's free to get in, then you can pay extra for some special attractions. The general theme of that visit is that Elias had a lot of fun, but didn't give a hoot about the animals. Here he is playing in the toy Jeep in the middle of a huge display of reptiles and small mammals. (We said it was like Diego's Jeep that he rescues animals in, and he thought that was cool.)Here he is playing with the rocks on the ground instead of petting goats.(Note: When your child digs down below the rocks and starts playing with the "dirt" underneath, that's not dirt down there. Very glad for the hand-washing station they had outside!)
Here he is playing with his toy train instead of looking at the ring-tailed lemurs.Sigh. The one thing he, of course, really enjoyed was the zoo train. This train was really cool because there were 4 different stops around the zoo, and you could get off to look at the animals at each stop, and then get back on all for the price of one ticket. Very very cool. So here are Daddy and Elias with Grandma and Grandpa behind them. What a great picture!So I'm very thankful for the special time we were able to have with my parents. Thanks for the fun time, Mom and Dad!!! :) :) :)