Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Two Months Home -- The Recap

First pony ride.

First pair of cowboy boots.

That he of course wore out of the store.

First snow.

He was unimpressed by this half inch or so of accumulated snowfall, but a few days later he was delighted by some light flurries landing in the palm of his hand.

First trip to REI for cold-weather clothing.  And all he wanted to do was play.  Of course.

Met Grandma and Grandpa for the first time, and went on his first train ride with them.

And he still talks about Grandma and Grandpa almost daily.  Yesterday he asked "Grandpa coming tomorrow?" and I said "no, sweetie."  So he asked "Grandpa coming in five minutes?"

First class field trip, to a pumpkin patch (another first).

After picking his pumpkin, Eli enjoyed running through the pumpkin field.  Just like his mom would've liked to do.  He never tripped on anything, unlike his mom would've.
Hauling his pumpkin
In the maze
Jumping off the tractor tires
Climbing around the spider web with Jane
Feeding the goats.  Guess the field trip to the pumpkin patch should've been its own post.

First school pictures.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. John's.  Yes, he dresses himself.  Why do you ask?
Eli's still sleeping great, a good ten or eleven hours a night if we get him to bed on time.  He still occasionally wakes up cranky, but that seems to be getting better.  Now, more often than not, he's up with a smile on his face first thing in the morning.

He's still sleeping on his bedroll in our room.

Usually with one of his toys.

Yes, that's a John Deere tractor tucked into bed with him.

We tried reading his bedtime story in his room, thinking it might be a good transition to him someday sleeping in his bed, but he refused.  He's just not comfortable in his room yet and we think it's too early to worry about that.  When it comes to feeling safe and secure, we follow his lead.

Eli's obsessed with what people in America eat.  Whenever he sees an animal--in person, in a book, in a movie--he always asks "eat dis" (eat this)?  He's usually appalled when we say yes, and I've begun to wonder if he has the heart and soul of a vegetarian.  (Or maybe a vegequarian--he loves fish and asks for it all the time.)

Generally, he's coming around with his eating.  He's willing to try most things we put in front of him; in fact, he's come to enjoy trying new food.  He doesn't always like what he tries, but we've continued our philosophy of not forcing any food.  We recently observed a perfectly reasonable, seemingly rational woman brought to near-hysteria trying to force her child to eat a strawberry.  It didn't work, was embarrassing to watch (our kids were sitting at the same table, so hard to avoid), and renewed my conviction that we never, ever force food with Eli.

Eli loves to help us cook, which I think has also helped him try new foods.  And he's actually pretty good in the kitchen.  A few nights ago he peeled carrots to put in our pasta, and he ate every carrot that ended up in his bowl.  He left the kale untouched, but my guess is there are few kale-eating four year olds.  Last night he helped Brad make lamb chops with roasted potatoes and carrots for dinner, and he ate everything.

Blurry iPhone action shot of Eli bringing dinner to the table.  Notice the kitchen towel slung over his shoulder, just like his dad in the background.  Same shoulder, even.
Clearer shot of Eli setting down our lamb chop dinner on the table.

He also enjoys grocery shopping and is well behaved in the store.  He used to get kind of grabby in the produce department, but even that has calmed down. I think he's finally understanding that food's not in short supply here and we're going to keep feeding him consistently.

Eli making his selection at the fish counter.

Because Eli loves fish so much, I offered him some canned tuna for lunch the other day.  He pointed to it on his plate and said "mommy, not fish.  Chicken."  I told him that even Jessica Simpson knew what was on his plate was fish, but he was unconvinced.  He finally put a microscopic piece in his mouth to try, but still declared it chicken.  "Mommy, no good."

Favorite foods:  Fish, pasta, bread, french fries, potato chips, onions, brown rice, corn, ice cream, tomato soup, biscuits, pancakes, peanut butter.

New foods he's tried and liked:  Broccoli, pumpkin, candy corn, sugar cookies, lamb chops.

Eli continues to amaze us with his language acquisition.  A friend recently commented that Eli's English is building by the minute, and he's not far off.  Eli's now speaking in full phrases and sentences, although we sometimes have to ask him questions to narrow down exactly what he's trying to say. 

For example:

"dis" (this) is his most generic word.  It's usually what he says when he doesn't know the word or words for what he's trying to say.  "Dis" can begin the most frustrating exchanges (for him and us) because it can mean anything.  And Eli's English has gotten so good that it's hard for him when we don't understand him.

"in nair" (in there) also a generic phrase, which can mean in there, over there, out there, upstairs, downstairs, in the car, on another planet. . . .

"I show you" can mean either he wants to show us something or he wants us to show him something.

"No," which can mean "no" or "yes."  We've learned that, when in doubt, Eli just says no.  Nancy Reagan would love this kid.

"Koy."  No idea what this means, but it's most commonly used as "koy, I show you."

Other times, his meaning is perfectly clear:  "Eli do it!" or "Yo wanna dooooo it!"

He understands pretty much everything we say to him, and other parents have told me how excited their kids are that Eli's speaking up more in class.  One of his classmates invited him to the zoo before school yesterday and her mom told me her daughter was excited to teach Eli the names of the animals.

The Dogs
Not much new to report.  Eli is still pretty wary of Ruby, although he is now sometimes ok with her hanging out with us while we watch movies.  He still gets frightened when an off-leash dog comes running over to us; and this situation may or may not elicit a snotty comment from me when the dog's owner calls out something like "he's friendly!"  Why do people think it's alright to let their dogs run free in the neighborhood when they have zero voice control over them???

On a positive note dog-wise, we ran into Alane and Blondie in the park last Sunday and Eli walked Blondie all the way around the park.

Eli's showing a little interest in soccer again.  He's asked recently to go outside and kick the ball, and my friend Erin told me that while she was running in the park she saw Eli at school kicking a ball around with some of his classmates.  We're not pushing it, but I really hope by springtime he's ready to try playing again.  He's so good at it.

When I came back from my run the other morning, all sweaty and a little out of breath, Eli asked "mommy runner?"  I replied "yes, mommy runner.  And maybe someday Eli will run with mommy."  He considered it for a moment, then said "noooooooo."  But he also had a big grin on his face, so this may be one of those "no means yes" situations.  I hope, anyway.  But, again, not pushing it.

Eli had a great time at Grant's birthday party last weekend, it was really fun to see him roughhousing and running around with Grant and the other boys.  His friendships at school seem to be coming along more slowly.  When I was with him on his school field trip last week I observed that the girls adore him (something Eli doesn't quite appreciate . . . yet), but the boys are more distant.

While Eli and I were waiting for his teacher to open the classroom door at SVdP on Monday--Eli with his nose pressed against the glass, me a bit further back in the crowd--I chatted with a boy from his soccer team.  He asked me why Eli hasn't been coming to soccer anymore and I told him Eli didn't want to play right now but maybe he would want to play again in the spring.  The boy paused to consider that, and then said "good.  Eli's cool."  (What mom doesn't love hearing that??)

This has probably been the area of greatest improvement over the past month, at least from my perspective.  Eli has been allowing a lot more touch from me, even in public.  I make a point to put my hands on his shoulders, rub his back, give him a little caress on the top of his head or the side of his face, as often as he'll allow.  And lately I haven't been shrugged off or elbowed.  But one day I pushed my luck and tried to give him a peck on the cheek and he shrieked "NO!!!!!"

And he's the sweetest kid.  He insists on opening and closing our car doors (any door, actually), and is quick with a "thank you" when we've done something for him.

Last week I volunteered for his class field trip to the pumpkin patch because Brad and I didn't think he'd be comfortable going without one of us.  While happily eating his peanut butter sandwich (Eli style, tearing small sections from the top piece of bread and using it to scoop up the peanut butter filling), he turned to me and said "mommy, thank you."  Out of nowhere and in the sweetest tone.  I don't know whether he was thanking me for making him the sandwich, for being there with him, or for something else, but my heart rang with joy and gratitude that God sent this sweet child to us.  And out of the corner of my eye I saw the jaw drop on the mom across the picnic table.

I take Eli to school every Monday, and now he always waves good-bye to me when the teacher opens the classroom door.  This week I wasn't looking when the teacher opened the door, so he called out "mommy!" to get my attention so he could wave good-bye.

At bedtime, Eli still does not respond when Brad and I say "I love you."  But instead of just being silent, he now mimics our tone and makes silly noises in response.

We're getting there.  On his terms.  Which is fine by us.  


  1. In amhanric, "koi" means "wait." :) Love this update!

    1. Thank you! So happy to know "koi" means "wait!" And now it makes perfect sense. :)

  2. Oh, Kathleen, I am full of smiles! And I thought I had found my favorite part when he asked if Grandpa was coming in 5 minutes. Then I kept reading. I am so happy for you and Brad and thank you so much for your blog! I love starting my day with your stories!!

  3. Wow, this is simply GREAT! I've so enjoyed being able to watch Eli's progress and he is REALLY improving. AND it looks like he's overcoming his camera-shyness because I see a lot of big smiles in these photos! :)