Like most kids, Eli likes Dora the Explorer. There is an episode where they go blueberry picking and encounter a bear. When they see the bear they run away and then row across the “icy cold river” until the bear gives up because he is too cold.
Having camped in bear country with the kids, we have discussed how to behave and some do's and don'ts. One of the things to keep in mind is that when encountering a bear you don't run. Running will only elicit a chase and bears are fast; way faster than a little kid and a monkey wearing boots.
I know that most kids will never encounter a bear or even be in a situation where they could, but Eli keeps asking me why Dora ran away from the bear since he knows you're not supposed to. He will randomly look at me and ask “Papa, why did Dora run from the bear?” Usually the ensuing conversation is followed by Eli affirming that he likes blueberries and asking if I like blueberries.
When we were talking about back-country stuff before our trip, trying to explain a bear bag was pretty tough. Eli kept asking questions like “So we put our food in the bag and give it to the bears?” and “We pick berries and feed them to bears?” Once he saw the bear bag in action he got it though. I am glad that he is able to know that the TV show is wrong, and that it isn't reinforcing a bad behavior.
It is amazing on what kids pick up, piece together, and remember.
On a side note, the same advice is true for encountering humans. When encountering a human, a bear should not run for fear that the human might make chase. My father once chased down a bear that was dragging off his backpack. He still has that pack, teeth holes and all; it came in handy for scaring young Boy Scouts.
On Thursday I got a call from daycare that Eli had hit his head on a wall and might need some stitches. He was fine until it was time for the sutures to go in. He was really freaked out (and brave) because he was restrained and could see everything close to his eye. This afternoon I took them out he was very well behaved.
Everyone has done it. But there is always a first time. Today I got to witness Amelia hitting her thumb with a hammer. She looked at me with a look of shock and surprise. I can't help but feel a bit proud.
Early on in our diapering experience we read a study that seemed to show that, with the exception of trash, the environmental impacts of cloth and disposable diapering seemed about equal. In this study they considered the processes necessary to produce both the disposable and cloth diapers as well as the laundering impacts. They also assumed some averages. The “average” cloth-diapering parent washes diapers with bleach (not a fun chemical to produce or remove from your water), 2xs per laundering, with hot water in each cycle. It also assumed that the diapers are dried in the dryer and then ironed. That's right, ironed. I know very few people who regularly iron their clothing, let alone their kid's diapers, and most folks I know who wash diapers do a cold rinse followed by a hot wash. In our house, we try to avoid the dryer as it takes a lot of energy and is not very friendly to the diapers. The study also did not consider the fact that cloth diapering may encourage earlier toilet training. While there's no way to prove it, it seems entirely possible that it is so. When Eli was about 22 months we got a parenting email suggesting we start having our child help flush his poop so he'd start to get the idea where it goes. We laughed. Eli had been doing that for a few months because we always flushed his poop: it was not just a learning tool. A month later he no longer wore diapers during the day. I also remember that this study assumed the cloth diapers were only used for one child, which is rarely true. If you check out e-bay or craigslist for diapers you'll find quite a selection. Considering all this, I'd be interested in a new study that considers “averages” that are a little more well researched.
Almost every time we go to church Eli makes a comment about wanting to go to Pease auditorium (EMU's lovely performance venue which is is across the parking lot). We've been to a couple of concerts there, and Eli has really enjoyed them (and you can't beat the price). So when we got to church on Sunday we got to tell him that we were in fact going there later today! Eli spent the next several hours fixated on going to “Uncle Nate's” concert at Pease Auditorium. (Side note, he says auditorium really funny, but I can't even say it the way he does, let alone type it.) We settled into our seats and Amelia was immediately in Grandpa's lap (he was sitting behind us with Grandma and Aunt Catherine). The Alumni Band began the concert and Amelia fairly flew off his lap. At first I thought she was trying to get to me, but then I noticed her eyes were glued on the stage. If desire was a mode of transportation, she would have been on the stage a moment after the performance began. Eli, too, sat rapt, enjoying every note. Amelia was so delighted she started cooing. Loudly. Loudly enough that Nate asked us later if she had been making noise during the first piece. We gave her a passie, but that doesn't really keep her quiet when she's happy. Mostly the passie just ended up on the floor… As you can guess, the entrancement did not last, but eventually Amelia nursed to sleep, and Eli was able to run around the lobby as a new group set up. He did really well for about 2/3s of the 2 hour concert. About half way into the final third, I busted out the snacks and gave him peas (yes, peas in Pease) 1 at a time. It worked. We got to see (almost) the whole performance. The music was great, but watching the total enchantment of our children was, well, priceless.
The other day I was in the car with the two kids after having picked them up from day care. I was talking with Eli about how we wear out seat belts so we don't fly out of the car if we get in an accident. The next thing I hear from him is something about pee in your pants and fly out of the car. He took “accident” as a peeing your pants kind of accident. So I then had to convince him that there are different kinds of accidents.
I can just imagine him thinking that he would pee his pants and then be ejected from the car if he wasn't wearing his seat belt.
Last week the kids were sick and I stayed home with them. Eli was digging around under the TV then looks at me and said “scary.” I went over and asked him what was scary and he was pointing to the back cover of Monty Python's Life of Brian with this dude on it. I explained that he wasn't scary and he was just and old man with a long beard. That seemed to make it OK. When Bridgit came home he told her about the old man and ran upstairs to grab the DVD case and show it to her. She made a comment that he wasn't wearing any clothes and that maybe if we see someone like him we could give him our clothes. For the rest of the day he kept bringing up the “Old Man” and that we should give him clothes. A couple days later he was taking a nap and I went in his room to get something and saw he asleep clutching the movie. I guess the man isn't scary any more.
It seems by 2 and a half they've got the concepts down: basic sentence structure, certain shapes are letters, letters make sounds, sounds make words, words can be read. Same thing with numbers. There's the idea of “yesterday” (any day that already happened, and occasionally even this morning) and “tomorrow” (you guessed it: any day yet to come). Yes, there's a lot of fine tuning to be done, but in a lot of ways, 2 and a half is it (give or take). Amazement at the world is still keenly there, but it's different now, he's more experienced, more able to put it into words (though if he doesn't quite have the words he wants, he'll stutter quite cutely). The trouble with 2 and a half is tantrums. Wow. It was as if someone turned a knob and his tantrums went from 0 (ok, 1) to 60 in a day. All of a sudden we had daily, intense tantrums. They're still happening, but crouching down to his level, letting him know we know he's upset and talking about the situation really seems to help. A lot. It's even better if we can do all that good parenting stuff before the tantrum happens. Oh, to be 2 and a half and not really able to say the thing that you know you should be able to say, but you just can't figure it out.
We took Eli and his cousin to see the ballet Aladdin at the Michigan Opera Theater. We got to the theater and looked at all the fancy stuff. It was fun. Once we got into the performance space the kids told us they wished they were sitting up higher. For once we DIDN'T have the cheapest seats in the house, but the kids wished we did. The performance was clever and stunning (the market place had especially neat choreography including children throwing fruit all around). There was a dancing genie with a 2+ foot head (where the persons face is in the mouth of the mask), then there was the giant genie in “the cave.” This was a multiple person puppet: the head was at least 6', if not more, as were each of the hands. The body was loose fabric that swallowed Jafar in the end. Eli is still talking about the genies and the cave. Anyway, it was a cool production, and I'm glad we took the kids to see it. Plus they got to go on stage (!!!) and meet some of the principle dancers afterward. The lamp (really, the dancer who held the lamp) let Eli touch the lamp, so that was a little extra cool.
As for the “Millie-moo,” she's been crawling for a month or so, but before that she liked to move… wait for it… no, not backwards like most kids… she flipped around in circles. If Eli left a toy just out of her reach to the side she could whip around and get it like a superstar. Seriously. Her body would be taking up the same space, but she was instantly facing the opposite direction.
Her new big things are waving (soooo cute, this little open shut graspy thing that she does whenever someone says hello or good bye) and trying to feed herself. If the food on the spoon can withstand gravity, she can get it into her mouth. Which is to say, she has successfully fed herself yogurt and oatmeal. Pretty good for a not-yet-9 month old. She, like her brother, is all about feeding herself, so we're back to remembering how to make food that is easily digestible and can be picked up with her fingers. She bables and giggles often, especially when accosted by papa's beard. Eli always gives her the sweetest hug and kiss before going to bed. It's pretty great.
It seems I haven't updated anything about how the kids are doing in a while.
Eli is speaking in full sentences. We are doing pretty well coping with a two year old's whims. The morning routine is going better. We have him get dressed before breakfast and he can do 80% of it by himself. His clothes often are on backwards, but he is pleased because he did it himself. Sometimes he will complain about his butt because his underpants are on backwards, and he is getting a wedgie. Speaking of underpants, he is in them full time. For a while he was still wearing a diaper at night, but now he gets up in the middle of the night (not very happily) and goes to the bathroom. This morning he got water all over his shirt while washing his hands, so I had to get up to change his shirt at 2:45am.
Amelia has a couple teeth now. She also sleeps from 10pm-5am most of the time, occasionally even longer. She is eating non-milk food (I hate to call rice cereal or mushed sweet potatoes real food). She is getting big. She enjoys the johnny-jump-up, which also induces pooping. She is much lower maintenance then her big brother was, so I am glad we had them in this order. She is almost ready to sit up on her own.