Tuesday, December 21, 2010


This screams trouble, eh? All I heard prior was, "Let's put on your helmet, this might be dangerous..." I shouldn't have looked.

This is how we entertain ourselves on snowy days when we're trapped inside all day...

Random updates on Elliot-- his picky eating continues, but he's eating much more these days. He does have an array of edibles, but it goes in massive binges, about a month or two at a time. This month, he eats plum or berry babyfood and cereal only. Every meal. Bananas, eggs, bread, yogurt, all the favorites from before have been blacklisted for some unknown reason.

He had another cold, and has gotten into a habit of waking with the congestion, needing some snuggling, and taking some milk. Some nights it was four times and I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into, "We'll be zombies soon." But, since school is out for both of us, we seem to take it in stride and let it happen, enjoying the snuggles and thinking he really needs it to fall back asleep. Now that the cold is waning, I sure hope that he goes back to his 12-hr nights (well, kind of...). This morning, after waking at 6am, he went back down and we all slept until 10am. Not bad.

Renee brought him some Christmas gifts when she watched him last time... great new Seuss books and this piano music toy that he absolutely loves. How did she know? ;) Each morning since Sunday, he's gotten up and gone straight for this piano. It's hilarious. And he'll use all his might to pick it up and take it into the kitchen if we're working in there, just to show us his musical talent.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Proud of His Accomplishments.

Pat said the other day, "Elliot got the best of both worlds from us-- a temper from you, and misplaced pride from me." Now, whether that's really true is up for debate, but as you can see, Elliot is not shy about his accomplishments. He has been stacking toys really well lately, then giving himself a round of applause. The other day, he came and sat right next to me at the computer, and just started clapping. I glanced beyond him, and on the other side of the room was a stack of two bottles. He was so proud. Now, he tries to stack really odd shaped things, with a gentle hand, trying to balance when, of course, we can see it will never work.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Elliot, the Helper Elf Part II.

So I have this darling video of Elliot bringing ornament after ornament to Pat as he's trying to work on the laptop... but it's apparently JUST over the size limit, and I cannot seem to find any tool on my computer to crop off the last few seconds. Peh.

Elliot, the Helper Elf.

Elliot Helps Decorate.

Latest Snapshots.

The latest "non-toy-toy"-- paper towel and toilet paper tubes...yes, this is what I come home to.
Sharing a chair with the kitty.
Elliot's latest trick... pulling up the tray cover on his high chair and smashing his face until we notice and laugh. Renee and I were cracking up the other day when he did it spontaneously, until Pat filled us in that they had been working on this trick together recently.
First snow! Still working on bundling-- snow pants, coat, double socks pulled up, and he was still frozen on the edges when we got in! We let him down at the park, and he had real trouble walking in the snow. Don't know if it was the puffy clothes or the actual snow...
He enjoyed it more than this, I promise you. But, he did wear out on being bundled...

Toys got moved for the tree, and now there's a new place to perch.

A few weeks ago, I took Elliot to the Children's Museum (Thanks, Debra, for the pass!). We had fun and then a huge meltdown on the way home for lack of a nap, until he crashed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Stomach Bug.

Playing outside a little.

We headed down to the farm for Thanksgiving and had a wonderful weekend, overall. Our friends, Claire, Martin, and Diane, joined us to experience a "real" American Thanksgiving. And they did. It was really comfy and we certainly ate too much and moved too little!

A trip to the barn, and sit on the skid-steer. We tried to pose it so it looked like Elliot was scooping up Diane, but she was so pissed about the mittens that it was a failed attempt.

Ah, and yet again, no photos of the big gathering. Bleh.

Elliot, however, did not have such a great weekend. He picked up his first stomach bug (from me from school? Diane? Who knows and you can't really know...) and this is basically how it went down, since you all are so interested in the play-by-play, I'm sure.

Monday, Elliot sleeps in until 11am. Unheard of. Then does not nap and tantrums most of the day.

Tuesday, Renee reported that he had not eaten much of anything all day long but napped long. Tuesday evening, he vomits for Pat but proceeds to be in a great mood, no other symptoms, and plays wonderfully on his own until bathtime. Huh. So we chalked it up to something he ate.

Wednesday, he eats a little but keeps it down all day, no other symptoms beyond normal toddler tantrums, and we head out for the farm in Ohio at bedtime. He sleeps great, normal bedtime in the car, but wakes when we stop for gas around 10pm, vomits again all over himself. We do a quick change in a scummy BP station. He stays up practically until we get to mom and dad's at 2am (**STILL SHAKING FISTS AT NIGHT PAVING AND TORRENTIAL DOWNPOURS**).

Thursday, the diarrhea starts. Lovely. Luckily we packed extra diapers, as always! He does pretty well with all the hooplah with Thanksgiving dinner and kids galore, while I battle the guilt over spreading these germs. Again, no other symptoms, and considering the diarrhea, he is doing well. But doesn't eat much.

Friday, we start to realize that we're going to run out of diapers. He only gets an hour nap after falling asleep in the car on the way to the Tearoom, and Grandpa holds him for that hour. Wakes up a mess. By now, his little bum is completely red with rawness. Continues to whine, cry all afternoon, not listening to any reason that just because he is miserable, does he have to make everyone miserable? while getting lots of snuggles from me. Any diaper change (which is really often) is torture. I thought his bath on Friday night would be warm and soothing, but Elliot puts his arms out to brace himself, stands up, squeezes his little buns together, and so pitifully cries as if to say, "Mom, how could you do this to me?!" It broke my heart. Up twice that night, dirty.

After multiple changes that resulted in crying fits over the fire I'm sure his rash was causing, he would lay there like this, worn out and resigned to the fact that he would have to experience this each time. So sad.

Saturday morning, he turns a corner and thank goodness, his little spark returns. Finally we have our Elliot back. At this point, however, we've gone backwards on any progress made with warming up to Grandma and Grandpa because he got a free pass to snuggle with mom whenever he wanted. We head back to Chicago. We are blessed with a 12-hour stint of no poop and squeeze by on our last diaper (our friends had loaned us plenty of backups, in the next size up), only to have him fill it with a doozy 2 miles from home. I'll take it, no problem. Appetite is a bit better.

Taking a snack in the car on the way home.

By this time, you, the reader, is thinking, "Oh my god, TMI." Unless you're a mom and have gone through this. This is my therapy.

Elliot's little routine once home was to go around, playing with, hugging, and showing off each of his favorite toys, as well as doing his little bouncy dance move with every musical toy. It was as if he had been homesick. We followed him around, cracking up.

We had an experiment going-- we made a photo album of Grandma and Grandpa Ulrich, and Grandpa and Nancy Papczun, and have been quizzing Elliot on them. The hope is that he is warmer to them when he sees them, and he really seemed to be. If he hadn't been sick, I think some real, lasting bonding would have happened with Grandma and Grandpa U. Let's see what happens at Christmas. We have to add in uncles and aunts, too, now.

My brother's kids were going to their other side, so they swung by for breakfast and a quick wrestling match that ended up with Uncle Pat getting a bloody nose...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Non-Routine Routine.

Hugging Flat Nicholas-- a friend sent this to us and we have to send him back with some feedback from Chicago. Elliot decided he needed a hug.
He crawled behind the highchair and sat to play on his own... made me remember being little. I was always crawling behind the couch or chairs to play.

Elliot's been mixing it up for us lately... anything from no naps to napping from 4:15-6p, and of course, his eating is all over the board. Some fabulous days, some days of 4 bites of yogurt for lunch, and many in-betweens. Tantrums were becoming the norm in the evenings, but strangely, the day he didn't nap at all, he was in a jolly ol' mood (well, til 6:30p, then it was all downhill).

In our semi-desperation for him to eat, we have allowed him to become a grazer, letting him have bites here and there whenever he wants it.

So, as my cousin Ann says, "Schedule? What schedule?"

Renee took him to the Museum of Science and Industry yesterday, and she said it was a blast to have him there since he can now walk and is so much more cognizant of everything. Apparently the model train was a big hit.

Using the backpack at the zoo.

We went to the Brookfield Zoo the other weekend as Pat snagged the free pass from the library. A couple hours there was great-- it was one of those 60-degree days. I don't know if it was our excitement, or simply a large beast moving, or if Elliot truly was connecting his books to what he was seeing, but he was very animated with the giraffes and zebras. The polar bear was super cool-- he was so playful and swam past the crowd, playing, many times.

Elliot got in this mode of hugging us while on shoulders, and then would do it on command for a photo op. He's such a ham sometimes.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Safety First!

Elliot's new thing-- the need to wear the bike helmet around the house, no matter what's going on. Not the most exciting video to watch, but as you can see, he's randomly playing by himself and had to have it on his head.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Getting Harder to Tote Around.

It's getting harder to take Elliot everywhere with us on errands, because of his need to move, his shortened attention span/extended awareness, and his whining/potential meltdowns when he's hungry or tired. Well, are all of these things a given as we enter Toddlerhood?

I thought I had a perfect little window to jaunt to Target today with Elliot, since he ate lunch so late. It went fine overall, but I experienced my first moment of someone seeing me reprimand my child and giving me that "Oh, you're dealing with that THAT way?" look.

I had Elliot in the moby, which I rarely use anymore (he gets too antsy, starts to arch, etc, which is much harder to deal with when he's strapped to you instead of in a stroller). I was hoping for a fast trip, but like I reported back to Pat the last time I went-- no matter how long the trip is, the last 10 minutes Elliot gets antsy or fussy. I could be there 20 minutes or two hours, it's always the same. Maybe the longer trips I know he's doing well so I push it to the limit? Anyway, back to my story.

Elliot had started rocking his head back like he does in the high chair sometimes, but this time, he's whacking my collarbone with his skull. I did plenty of stern "Nos," "Stop its," "What did I says," and holding his head firm, but he was just getting bored. Impossible to ignore at this point. I flicked his hands, which made little sense to me since he wasn't doing anything bad with his hands, but since he was in the carrier, little else was accessible. It waned a bit.

I was waiting in line and they were really busy. He started the whamming again, over and over, ignoring my stern instructions to stop. I wanted to spank him, but getting him out of the carrier when I was so close to getting to the car was not an option (I'd have to get him back in, he'd want to roam, we were in line, etc). I grabbed his leg, and spanked the side of his thigh with a teeth-gritted, "I told you to stop that." I glance up, and the lady behind me looks at me like I'm white trash at Walmart. I force a grin, she does the same, and I slunk back to unloading my cart while she switches lines. Go on, judge me. I think I might second guess the judging next time I see something like that, not knowing what led up to it.

That was the only hitch, and for being right at dinnertime, with bedtime a short stint away, he did well. There wasn't another fuss and he even walked the half block home, getting himself up all the stairs (outter entrance, and our 2 flights) with Cheerios in hand so I could lug in the refrigerated groceries.

On the bus with the mouse in tow from previous post's tale.

Some new lovely friends we made (family of some of our friends who stayed with us for the marathon) sent Elliot this awesome hat.

Anyone else see a little Uncle Brad in this one?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Adventures of Elliot and Dad.

Oh, how I couldn't wait to post this one. Then, I thought, "Oh no, people will be really grossed out and no one will ever want to visit us..." But the story is just too good, so please, I'm sorry if I give you the willies. Be forewarned.

I came home from work today, with the typical conversation with Pat about how Elliot ate, slept, etc. Then, Pat says to me, "So, we had a great adventure today. The three of us, that is..." He had already told me that he took Elliot down to the South Shore Cultural Center to do some research for a paper he's writing. Ok, that was the adventure, right? "Nope, the three of us went down." Three? Huh? I guessed the cat, and yep, the cat was involved, but the cat was not the third traveler... Oh my.

To start, our condo buildings have had a somewhat recent issue with mice. That's the gross part. We've not had any, until, apparently, today. Yuck. I was jumping up and down in the hallway with the willies. This is how the rest went down, I'm told...

The white cat caught a mouse. She brought it into the dining room while Pat was feeding Elliot lunch in the highchair. Pat didn't realize why the cat was going so crazy, running in circles, until he saw the mouse's tail sticking out from under this tunnel thingy we have for Elliot to play in (can you say DISINFECT EVERYTHING?!). Pat is in shock, but is obviously, in true-Pat-style, super intrigued. Mouse is not dead. At all. It makes a run for the nearest corner/furniture to dive behind but the cat gets it again. This cat-and-mouse game (ha, I couldn't resist) continues for a few rounds while Pat tries to figure out how to catch the darn thing before it dives into any of the multiple cracks and crannies in this ol' place.

The mouse escapes behind our buffet. Pat moves the buffet out enough so the cat can get back there and voila, it's caught again. Pat gets an organizing basket from the pantry and traps it under the basket, putting a dining room chair leg on top, creating a mini-jail for the varmint. He then proceeds to get a Ragu jar out of the recycling bin, pokes holes in the top, creates a tunnel out of a magazine for it to travel from the mini-jail into the new glass house... now, Mr. Mouse is on display on the dining room table, in a jar, while Elliot eats his lunch. "Elliot loved watching it, pointing at it!" was Pat's comment. At this point in the story, I've not closed my jaw yet.

"Did you kill it then?!" I don't really ask, but insist.

"Aw, but it was so cute, and what was I going to do, bludgeon its head in?"

"Yea, that's what you do. You kill it," this farm-girl says.

"I couldn't. So we let it lose at the Cultural Center, out by the lake."

"You took it to the Cultural Center with you!?" That means, it went on the city bus, in the jar, in the bottom of Elliot's carrier backpack. Really.

"Yea, well, it went to the library with us first." And, of course, he took pictures of the mouse in the Ragu jar to show me.

"So, does this mean we have to eventually get a hamster for the little guy?"

"I actually thought maybe we should keep it. Not really, but it crossed my mind. It was so cute there, in the jar. I mean, it worked out really well for it to hang out in there for the few hours until we left."

And thus, another chapter in The Adventures of Elliot and Dad comes to a close.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


On Monday, Elliot and I ran some errands-- Target, the grocery, etc. Pat had told me how he was walking Elliot to the park nearby-- actually letting him walk (while holding his hand, of course) through the crosswalk if there was no traffic. So, I decided it was time to venture to the store without a stroller or carrier. I carried Elliot across the street to the shopping center where the produce store is, then put him down to walk on the sidewalk to the store.

You should have seen his excitement at being able to enter the automatic doors-- little shrieks of amazement as we walked right in. I was really curious to see how this would go, since the store is definitely not toddler proof. He's getting a little squirmy, though, in the carrier and the carts, so I thought this change of pace (and challenge of sorts) would maybe engage him enough that he'd be fine. Also, I was hoping to really wear him down before dinner so he'd sleep well.

He did great. Most of the time, he held my hand. And, of course, he got tons of attention, being the cute little munchkin tooling around the store, complete with the nawed-on granola bar in-hand that he refused to leave behind at home. If I had to get something to put in our basket, I put his hand on my leg, telling him to stick nearby, and he tended to stay with me pretty well. Only once or twice did he wander a little, but he responded well to my instructions to return. He got a little antsy waiting at the deli counter and wanted to touch the french bread baguettes sticking out of a basket, but we ran into a neighbor and he was Mr. Social, cooing and giving big waves with his hand.

His habit of pointing at things an insisting on a label for them carried over to this trip just a little. It was with a row of gallon jugs of water. He insisted on pointing to each gallon, and waiting for me to answer his inquisitive noise with, "Yes, that's another bottle of water."
He seemed in awe at experiencing this very familiar place from a different perspective-- I'm sure everything seemed bigger, taller, and more intimidating. Overall, a success, if a little slow of a trip!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Nose, Toes, Whatever.

Trick or Treat!

Elliot was a plump little penguin for Halloween (whether he liked it or not-- I got the costume on clearance last year!). It helped that it was chilly; thus, his winter coat underneath filled out the belly nicely. He already waddles just fine.

Harper Street, here in Hyde Park, is a Halloween Extravaganza! There is a 2-block strip that is closed off to traffic for the evening, and the wood-framed, victorian houses are all decked out in spookiness. There was more than one 5-ft spider dropping from a pulley in the trees, a 20 foot tall scarecrow in the center of the block blaring the Ghostbusters theme song, and plenty of political commentary (one set of 3 skeletons on a porch had a sign, "Teapartiers welcome, brains and witches optional..."). It was packed with kids and every house had a constant train of tricker-treaters begging at the door.

Elliot was overwhelmed at first. The dropping spider scared the be-jesus out of him, but after he got over that, he wanted to do what everyone else was doing. He marched right up to houses (with our help, of course), welcomed the candy, and promptly dropped it in his little pail. A few times, he wanted to do the rounds again and we had to detour him.

The most entertaining part was watching our friends from France-- Claire, Martin, and Diane-- enjoy this American festivity. Claire was in awe the whole time, snapping photos everywhere. It was worth it just to see her reactions throughout the evening.