Monday, May 31, 2010

Birthday Party, Part 2

After we did the bouncy houses, we went to our favorite local restaurant for dinner. We chose that one because Elias can get his absolute favorite food there: macaroni & cheese! Another family met us there, and we enjoyed dinner and birthday cake with our friends!
Elias with his birthday balloons:In this picture, he's also holding a birthday card that one of his older friends made for him! Solomon is 5, and he made the cutest card for Elias! They both like Thomas and they watch Thomas movies together, so Sol put Thomas stickers in the card. Elias LOVED it, and he still carries it around and looks at it!

After dinner, we had birthday cake - a really cool Thomas & Friends cake I got from Wal-Mart! But being the terrific birthday mommy that I am, I forgot to get a picture of it. I googled it, though, and found a picture of the design online. So imagine this with "Happy Birthday Elias" written on the green space between the tracks!We lit a #2 candle and sang happy birthday, but Elias had no idea what to do. Some of his friends that were there, though, were a little older, and they were happy to help with blowing out the candle. Elias just grabbed the Thomas toy off the cake!This picture cracks me up... He's looking at Mya like "Don't even think about touching my Thomas."Grabbing the toy off the cake, though, meant that he got frosting all over his hands. He didn't mind that a whole lot, although he wasn't really interested in licking it off. He was incredibly upset, though, that Thomas had frosting all over him, and there was a bit of a meltdown until we got Thomas cleaned off!Then I gave Elias a piece of cake, which he had absolutely no interest in eating. He took one bite, gagged on it, and didn't touch the rest. Oh well. I'm not going to complain if my kid doesn't have his mama's sweet tooth! So he just enjoyed playing with his Thomas while the rest of us ate cake. I think the frosting-face is still pretty cute, though!
So happy birthday to my precious big boy. I'm trying to teach myself to stop calling him my baby, but it's hard! Even though he looks and acts so big, I think he'll always be my baby boy!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Birthday Party, Part 1

We had Elias' birthday party yesterday! For the first part of it we got together with some friends at the local bouncy house place where kids of all ages can jump their hearts out. We had a great time, and Elias had fun with his friends!When we first got there, Elias wasn't so sure about the jumping business. We had been to a place like this once before (See that post here.), but it was a while ago and he must've forgotten. So for the first 30 minutes or so, he didn't want to jump on his feet, he preferred to sit and bounce on his bottom. Maybe he was scared of falling down? Here he is bouncing while his friend Cooper jumps circles around him!

We had to wake him up from his nap in order to get there on time, and for a little while, I wasn't sure if he was going to ever wake up and enjoy himself. At one point he was just laying down in the bouncy house!He also enjoyed hanging onto an inflatable tree in the toddler section, which was pretty low-key. His friend Miles is in the background.But he finally got his second wind, and then he was a madman! Here he is jumping with his friends Tessa and Andrew:And a video of him just running in circles!

In the toddler section, there was a little slide that he really enjoyed, but it was hard lifting him up there to the top of it since he didn't know how to climb it! He watched the older kids doing it, and he figured out how to climb it himself! I'm so proud of that big boy!

Stay tuned for part 2...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Obsessed with Thomas

Elias' deepest love and heart's joy is Thomas the Tank Engine. Seriously. He adores Thomas and all his friends. He knows the theme song. He knows the motto ("Making tracks to great destinations"). He knows the names of all the engines. He asks to watch Thomas all the time. He carries his Thomas toys with him everywhere we go. Obsessed. And honestly, I don't mind so much. I'm so relieved to be done with Elmo that I will take Thomas any day of the week!

Here's a video of Elias singing the first half of the Thomas theme song. (If you want to see the actual song, you can watch it here.)

He knows the whole thing, but I haven't been able to get him on video doing the whole thing. He gets distracted or wants to stop and watch himself on the video camera. In this case, we had our shoes on and were getting ready to go run errands, so he just wanted to get on with it! You hear him say "Get in the car!" at the end... He's a man of single purpose.

You'll also notice in the above video that he has a little toy train that is not Thomas, but he loved it and called it Thomas. This was before his birthday when he got several toys that actually WERE Thomas. Now his other trains are no longer "Thomas," they are "Train."

In his birthday post, I promised a video of him playing with his new remote-controlled Thomas that Nana & Granddad gave him. There are several components to this one, so it's pretty long. The first part is him just playing with the train. He was afraid of it the first time I pulled it out and used the remote, so we turned it off and he loved just playing with it. You can hear him saying the motto in that part. In the second section, Daddy convinced him that it's not scary to play with the remote, so you'll see him learning how to do that. And the third part is what I mentioned in the birthday post - he loved Thomas so much that he wouldn't put him down to eat his snack! So Thomas ate snack with us that day. In that part, you'll hear him saying the opening to the Thomas & Friends show: "Who's that puffing down the tracks? It's Thomas! Hello, Thomas! Hello, everybody! Welcome to the Island of Sodor!"

So Thomas is our new love and obsession, and I think there are far worse things he could be obsessed with! Thank you to all the grandparents who sent him Thomas toys for his birthday! They're all big hits! :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Squishing Peas

Elias LOVES peas. They are by far his favorite green vegetable, and they may be his favorite food altogether. But one day he discovered how to make them even MORE fun to eat!

Counting His Blessings

Elias doesn't do this much anymore, but he went through a phase where he would "count his blessings" whenever we would pray over our food. After we prayed, he would say "Thank Jesus food... Animals... Daddy!" So food, animals, and Daddy are apparently the top 3 things he's thankful for! When I was taking this video, he actually added Mommy to the list for the first time, and that melted my heart!

Um, Guess I've Got a New Look

One of my faithful readers (Thanks, Mom!) let me know that my previous blog template stopped working, and it had an error message that was blocking some of the text. So instead of going to the trouble of finding a new template I liked and uploading it, I just personalized one of the generic Blogger templates. So let me know if you hate the colors or if there's something that doesn't work on your screen. But I'd rather spend my time editing and posting cute videos of Elias than searching for another great template... Maybe someday!

No Boot Camp Required!

I mentioned in this post about our upcoming transitions that after Elias got settled into his Big Boy Bed, we were going to begin No-More-Paci Boot Camp to get him off the pacifier. I had really been dreading this because I thought it was going to be a huge ordeal. But Justin was more convinced than I was that we needed to do it soon and that he would be ok, so he managed to convince me. So this weekend, a temporary insanity struck me and I decided to just give it a try. I figured there's no way to know how he'd do without it until we tried it.

Elias turned 2 on Friday, so I thought Saturday would be a good day to see how he did without a paci. There was nothing I did to prepare him for it - I didn't even tell him I was going to do it. I just put him down for his nap without it, not mentioning it at all. He knows how to ask for it, so I figured it he was going to have a problem, he could just ask for the paci. But he didn't ask for it. He did whine a bit, and he didn't nap at all that first day, but he never asked for his paci. And that night he was so tired from not napping that he went right to sleep without it. And he slept all night and woke up at the normal time! Score!

The second day was Sunday, and he went down for his nap fine without the paci. I wasn't really surprised at this because church makes his nap later than usual and wears him out, so he was tired. Then he also went to sleep Sunday night. He did wake up pretty early Monday morning, but nothing I couldn't handle.

Monday was a little bit of a setback because he didn't nap at all, but he still never asked for the paci. And like Saturday, without the nap he slept great Monday night.

So dare I say it??? I think we're done with the paci! WOW! That was WAAAAAAAY easier than I expected! It's only been 3 days, so the struggle may not be over, but I think he has proven he can do without it, so we won't be giving it back to him. What a relief that there was no Boot Camp required for this transition!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Two Years Old!!

My precious boy is two years old today. That brings me a whole lot of joy and just a tiny bit of nostalgia. The nostalgia didn't really hit until today when I received my first edition of "Your Preschooler This Week" from BabyCenter in my email inbox - no longer will I see "Your Baby" or "Your Toddler..." My big boy is a preschooler! Aaaaaaaaack!

Buuuuuuuuuut, the vast majority of my baby growing up is joy. He is such a treasure, so smart and precious, growing so fast and developing so well. We had our 2-year well visit this morning, and he is perfectly healthy, and we thank God. Here are his 2-year stats:

Height: 38" (99%)
Weight: 38 lb. (99%)
Head: 20" (95%)

So he's still gigantic, but still proportionate and perfectly healthy. Today I asked the doctor about being able to switch him to 2% or skim milk instead of whole and she heartily approved. She laughingly said "I understand if you want to slim him down a bit... Next time you come in, he'll be carrying you!"

We'll be having his birthday party and his 2-year portraits made next week, so stay tuned for those. In the meantime, here's a little bit of our birthday celebrations so far. We received packages in the mail from all Elias' grandparents, but we're opening the presents slowly instead of all at once. The first one we opened was from Nana & Granddad, and it was a remote-controlled Thomas! Be still Elias' heart! He's deeply in love with it, and I couldn't even convince him to put it down long enough to eat yesterday! So Thomas joined Elias for his snack:
Notice how Elias won't even take his hand off of Thomas long enough to eat... I'll post a video soon of Elias playing with the remote control.

Then we opened the card from Grandma & Grandpa, and it had Elmo singing happy birthday! More pure bliss for my little buddy. Here's a video of him pushing the button to hear Elmo OVER and OVER and OVER... Seriously, he did it for like 20 minutes. I spared you that, though, and only posted 50 seconds of it here.

I'll post more about our celebrations, and I have a backlog of videos I hope to get edited and up soon. But we are so thankful for our precious and healthy boy, and thankful to God for carrying us these two years! May we really have many more!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Believing Truth

I am so thankful for my friends and family! You guys are so precious to me, and I really appreciate your love, support, and prayers for me in the battle that I shared about in my previous post. It means so much to me to have people who understand and will support me in prayer.

This has been a long road, and I believe it will still be a long road before I reach the end of this particular struggle. This particular season, though, the battle has just intensified, and I find myself making one step forward, two steps back, a half a step forward, three steps back... I'm really trying to at least keep FACING the right direction, though, even if I am moving backward sometimes. A huge part of keeping myself facing the right direction is knowing what is truth and believing it. That sounds simple, but I really think it's the crux of my struggle, at least the emotional and mental facets of it.

So in my prayers and meditation over WHY I'm facing this battle and WHY it affects me so badly emotionally and mentally, God gave me two precious truths that are key to keeping it all in proper perspective and therefore keeping my mind and emotions in check. These two things are Truth, and I believing them will allow me to face trials and accept them in faith. Here they are:

1. Everything God allows into my life is coming from His great love for me.

2. Trials that God allows me to go through are for the purpose of refining me to reach my full potential in Him.

These two things are HUGE, and it is so precious to me that God gave me truth in response to the exact things that I'm struggling over in my mental battles. Because when I'm struggling, my mind tends to say things like this: "I'm supposed to believe that God loves me. But God can't really love me or else I wouldn't be dealing with stuff. He would intervene if He really loved me. He would answer my prayers for relief. He would keep me from stumbling. He would protect me from attacks. He would keep me from believing lies..." etc, etc, etc until it makes me want to curl up and die.

But now when I start going down this road again, I can refer to the Truths above. God does in fact love me, which means that He wants what is best for me, not necessarily what is easiest. To help me understand it better, I thought about the way I love Elias. I love him so much that I want him to grow into a responsible and mature adult, so I discipline him now. That's not easy and not pleasant, and he would be a lot happier right now if I would just let him do whatever he wants. But that wouldn't be love and it would lead not only to misery later, but it would prevent him from being a useful and valuable member of society in the future too.

And that leads right into the second point, which is that God has a purpose and point to the suffering I go through. In this particular case, He has shown me a LOT of doubt and rebellion that lies in my heart, which I never would've known was there if my life had always been all hunky-dory. So he uses pain and suffering to reveal that so it can be dealt with and cleansed, thus enabling me to be happier in Him and also a better representative on earth of Christ and His character.

Sometimes, though, I don't always get to see the purpose behind what He's doing, and that's where faith comes in. It's hard in the middle of suffering to understand and believe that God is allowing this out of love. And so I just have to believe it. So that's where I am right now. Just choosing to believe God and praying that He'll bring me out of this valley into a place of rest soon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Shield & Refuge

I think I've posted a bit about this on here in the past two years, but not much. I don't like complaining about things that aren't going to change, and I prefer keeping this blog a light place to share mostly about Elias. However, I want to share about where I am right now. If there are any of you that even still check this blog, you know that I have majorly slacked off on posting here, and that is partly because of the personal stuff I'm dealing with. I have had major trouble in the physical/hormonal adjustment since Elias was born. I won't go into details in this public forum, but it has affected me deeply both physically, mentally, and spiritually. I have called it depression and hormonal imbalance, I've thought I was just crazy, and I've believed it is a spiritual attack. In truth it is probably all three of those things, along with other factors that I don't realize. I keep believing/hoping/praying that it will just resolve on its own. I've been to the doctor a couple times, but those visits just end in frustration because she can't really explain or help either. I mean, of course a woman's body and mind go through difficult transitions upon becoming a mother! And since no two women respond the same way, it's not easy to diagnose a problem or find a surefire solution. So I wait. And wait. And wait. Not very patiently at times.

The past two weeks have been very, very difficult ones for me on this front. I've been the lowest that maybe I've ever been. One thing that has been different about this particular valley is that the spiritual attacks have been fierce and blatant. I have found myself doubting my faith and the truth of Scripture. I have wondered if maybe I should be institutionalized because I am completely losing my mind. I have been deliberately disobedient to God out of anger because I felt like He is not coming through for me in this area. And I just don't understand why I'm struggling in this area, why I am praying for relief but it instead just seems to get worse.

But today I came to a crossroads of faith. I either need to believe in God's love and faithfulness that are promised in Scripture, or I need to "curse God and die. (Job 2:9)" I can't keep living on both sides of the fence. So I got on my knees before God and just cried "HELP!" I flipped open my Bible to a random page and saw this:
Proverbs 30:5
Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
So that's a pretty clear answer to which of the two above choices is the right one. God's Word not only is true, but it PROVES true. It has been tested and proven. I need to take refuge in Him and He will be my shield.

Then I flipped to another random page and just stared in disbelief at what God took me to:
Jeremiah 29:11-13
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
These are incredibly meaningful for my current situation anyway, but most of you may not know that these are the verses I have always claimed as my "life verses." So it was no coincidence that He opened my Bible to these verses right when I was doubting the truth of His love and faithfulness in my life. He knows, He sees, He hears, He answers. I still don't understand what I'm dealing with or why, but He is here, He is available to me in my time of need, and He has good plans of hope for me.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

OBBB: Day 6 Update

I just thought I'd post an update to let you all know how Operation Big Boy Bed is doing. I was counting up the days to put it in the title, and I can't believe it's already been 6 days! He's doing very well, and I think we're starting to get the hang of it.

Naptimes are our biggest challenge. He is just so excited at his newfound freedom to explore his room that sometimes it's hard for him to settle down and go to sleep. I've been consistent about employing the Supernanny method of watching the video monitor and as soon as he gets out of bed and starts playing, I go back in and put him back to bed. I tried doing it without speaking the way she recommends, but I really don't think he understood what he was supposed to be doing. So instead I say something like "No play. Go night-night. Stay in bed." We've settled into a consistent routine of him taking just over an hour to go to sleep after I put him down. Today it was a little longer, but it was also different in that he actually stayed in bed on his own for the vast majority of that time. I only went in there to put him back to bed about 4 times in an hour and a half, when previously it's been like 20 times in that amount of time. So I'm hoping this means that he's catching on to the concept that he's supposed to stay in bed at naptime!

He has done awesome from day 1 with nighttime sleep. I don't think he has once gotten out of bed, even though it usually takes him about an hour and a half to actually fall asleep after we put him down. He just rolls around and talks to himself to wind down. Tonight I had to laugh because I was watching him on the monitor and he was holding his hands close to his face and counting his fingers... He got to 14, though, so I'm not sure what that means! :)

The only trouble we're having with this now is that his bed is up against the wall that is shared with our room, and one of his favorite pastimes is kicking that wall when he's in bed but can't sleep. I don't want to encourage that at any time, but it's especially wearing when he does it at 2 or 3 in the morning! Dude! Easy on the kicking, please!

I am also thrilled at the way he has been able to make the transition from crib playtime to room playtime. He does awesome playing by himself in his room - I just put the safety gate in the doorway to keep him in. He's still learning what he's not supposed to do - opening up his wipes and throwing them around the room was a new one he tried today. He also can reach the light switch if he stands on his bed, so that's a battle to keep him from playing with that. But in general he does great with just listening to music and playing with toys by himself.

He seems to be really proud of his big boy bed, and he knows that he's a big boy to be sleeping in it. Often when I tell him it's time to go night-night, he'll say "big boy bed!" quickly followed by "Thomas the Tank Engine!" who is on his sheets. So he likes it, and I think we're going to make it!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

OBBB: Night 1 Success!

Elias slept for 11.5 hours last night! In fact, I had to wake him up for breakfast! I know he needs more sleep, but I want him to stay on schedule and hopefully nap this afternoon... My big, big, big boy! I snuck in to check on him last night after he fell asleep - I wanted to make sure he was ok. He was sound asleep, and I took a picture of his position because it made me laugh.He had his face all smooshed into the mesh of the rail! I actually anticipated this because he always slept with his face pressed into the bars of his crib. I was actually worried about moving into the bed because he wouldn't have as much to smoosh into - didn't seem to stop him, though! You'll also notice that he has his hand in his hair - he rubs his hair to put himself to sleep.

We never heard a peep out of him all night long. I woke up about 4:30 and decided to check the video monitor and make sure he was ok... But I didn't see him in the bed... So I went into his room, and he had thrown his pillow on the floor between the bed and toy shelf, and he was sleeping on the pillow on the floor! I wonder if that just happened or if he did it on purpose because he missed the enclosed feeling. I just left him where he was, but a few minutes later I heard movement and so I checked the monitor again. He stood up, looked around dazedly, and then stumbled around and climbed into bed where he promptly fell right back asleep! He stayed there until I woke him up at 7:10.

I'm so proud of my big, big boy!!!!! So now we'll see if he naps today.

*Note: I could have cropped this picture closer, but I left it big on purpose. My mother-in-law bought that toy shelf for us back in January, and I've been promising to show her a picture of what it looks like in his room ever since then. But the slacker I am, I haven't done it! So this is for you, JoBeth! We love the toy shelf!!! Thank you!!!