Monday, January 31, 2011


Helping dad fix the bike. I love this series of photos. It was so cute and endearing to watch.

Shapes and Smashed Fingers.

Pat was closing the door on Sunday and Elliot's little fingers got in the way-- the first time of many, I'm sure. It was a little scary, as the last two had lovely purple indentations and immediately swelled. We were headed out for a walk and were all bundled, so we decided to still go, thinking the cold would be the best thing anyway, as well as the distraction. He was fine in a short time and was bending them right away, so we knew he was really ok.

A few new developmental notes:
Elliot is still insisting on us naming everything, over and over. He is starting to try sounds, but at his own pace (not good at performing on demand!). For example, if you say, "Let's take of your coat," he'll follow with a "keh" sound for coat. I think I hear a little lisp in his "s," but who knows at this point.

He has a shape puzzle from Grandpa Papczun at Christmas. And, just like everything, he'll point and want to know the shapes. He has them down pretty well now, but it's not anything like "Oh, he knows his shapes!" but just assigning a name to something just like other items. What is fun (and, bias-us, we think is impressive!), on his own, he started matching those shapes in his puzzle to other items of that shape in his books. Ie- there is a diamond on his puzzle. He'll get up, and go turn to the page in one of his books that has a kite on it, a diamond shape, and point to it. I think it's pretty cool that he's making these connections-- he seems to apply the label to more things than just that specific, one object where we name it.

I've been trying to get this on video, but of course, when the camera comes out, he immediately wants to sit on my lap and look at the images instead of letting me capture what's happening.

Also, a bit ago, it started snowing outside and I pointed that out to him. He got all excited, then went and got his book, "The Snowy Day."

One other funny story-- Claire, Martin, and Diane came over the other night. Elliot was on the other side of the dining room, and we were talking at the table about Diane moonwalking and that the pediatrician, at his 15-month check up, had asked if Elliot was walking backwards. We weren't talking to him directly, but as if on cue, he turns around, and starts to show off how he can walk backwards. What a ham.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Cheerios Episode.

We had a major showdown yesterday with Elliot. Yes, he was tired and probably hungry, but this to me means even more consistency is needed, as this is when the real brattiness comes out. Elliot was grumping and purposefully threw a bowl of dry Cheerios all over the floor. Thus, he had to pick them up... 25 minutes later, he had not complied. Really. Squirming, twisting, resisting "forced" attempts, ignoring the "I'll help-- I'll do one, you do one" bargaining, crawling up on each parent with snuggly hugs, faceplanting with screams in my lap, starting to eat those that were already in the bowl, you name it. It was entertaining, amazing, and impressive. And, we both knew he had not forgotten what we were all about, as part way through the showdown, after getting about half of them in the bowl, he proceeded to get really mad again, and spilled them again on purpose. Of course, we tried to point out that the job could have been done in 1 minute and we all could move on to playing, but alas, he stuck with his guns for a good half hour until, huh, he decided to use both hands, and fill the bowl with handfuls. Thank goodness we didn't need to be anywhere and we could just outlast him.

Ten minutes later, I catch him out of the corner of my eye picking up a single Cheerio from the floor, putting it in the bowl, and clapping for himself, unaware I was watching.

The sad part-- I vividly remember similar episodes as a child and teen, being just as stubborn and bratty. (Mom, dad, remember the afternoon I was supposed to move into college? 5 hours late, after a meltdown, we got on the road...)

I dread the battles with this child as a teen. Do these episodes fade with constant reinforcement, or do you just manage them with constant reinforcement?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Check Up!

18 month check up and Elliot's off the chart for weight... the wrong way. We're still chasing that elusive 20# benchmark-- he's at 19lb, 9oz. 31.5" tall, so good in the height dept.

He's super healthy, doc says, though, after she watched him scramble up on the chair with his stringbean arms and grasshopper legs. Certainly active enough!

And, last night we had a lovely night of sleep with no interuptions. Guess I just had to complain on here publicly for Elliot to get the message! I investigated his mouth (it's been months since there's been any development there) and voila, a little tooth on the bottom has sprouted. Just what I thought, wink wink.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


18 months old.

18 months old, and last night, we felt like we were back at week one. And I'm sure none of you want to read the play-by-play, but using this as my therapy will only save any of you from listening to me relive it on the phone or during our next conversation! So skim the photos and ignore the rest!

We've been a little spoiled because typically, Elliot is a good sleeper. Most nights, down around 8pm, up around 8am. Of course, there's always changes and interuptions to the schedule, but overall, things were good in this department.

Ever since he was sick after Christmas, however, he has not slept normally. I blamed this on the sickness, because I had snuggled him so much when he had his fever, and it seemed he just wanted to be snuggled down each night for a long time. He did not want to go back to the simple routine of brush the teeth, sing Twinkle Twinkle with a standing rock, and voila, lay him down to sleep with just a few whimpers. We took a deep breath, knowing that we had a little battle on our hands to get back to normal, and proceeded to let him scream it out for about 45 minutes, 3 nights in a row. We thought we were there. Wrong.

I don't know if he's just that much more aware and is learning to not want to go to bed (there's no forcing him to lay down-- he springs up to the side of the crib before we can scoot out!), or if because we're not out and about as much as in the nice weather that he's not worn out enough to crash, or if it's bad habits developing on all ends, but none of our tricks is working. And when the tricks don't work, coping ensues and you begin to wonder if the coping is reinforcing the problems. It's also the "Who the heck knows what's up?" since there's always the constant variables of teeth and growth spurts.

Many nights lately, we've put him to bed around 8-8:30pm, only to have him still up and crying here and there when 10-10:30pm rolls around.

Last night, Pat chose just the wrong night to stay up late watching a movie. Lucky for us, I did get some shut eye before the monster stirred. Oftentimes, Elliot will cry in his sleep, but I tend to think we're pretty good about leaving him to deal and allowing him to put himself back down. At 3am, though, there was no sign of him going back down. Since Pat was just going to bed, he went in, only to find that Elliot was insisting on eating some babyfood. Pat fed him and put him back down for another hour of crying. At 4am, I took a shift, giving him some milk this time. I tried to lay with him to settle him back down, and after about a half-dozen times of this boy sitting upright with a grin of "Don't you realize, I'm up and ready to go!" I put him back in the crib crying while I crossed my fingers. Another hour he lasted, and by 5am, both Pat and I were at our wits end for want of sleep. I got up and played with him, only to quell the cries so Pat could sleep a bit, all bedroom doors shut and ear plugs in!

Elliot actually was in wonderful form, but by 7:30a, I declared my shift over after the wonderful form dissipated into a 20-minute full-blown tantrum. (Mind you, I did not know Pat had stayed up so late, so at this point, he's going on 2 1/2 hrs sleep.) Continuing to meltdown, Pat put him back to bed again, and, finally, the entire household enjoyed 2+ hours of uninterupted sleep. I swear, I am much too old for this zombie role.

I hope this is like every other phase that comes-- right as we think we're topped out with patience and lack of sleep, Elliot tends to turn around and we go, "Whew, it was just a phase... thank god we're back to normal." Just awaiting that, anytime now...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Latest.

My little farmer boy. Thanks, Grandma!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
(Pants had to be binder-clipped on... go Dad!)

Loving his slippers.

Dad's version of playing dress up? Biking glasses and gloves...

Helping Dad with house projects. He climbed right in to see what was going on, then needed to climb right back out, of course!

Continuing the Ulrich Tradition?

My family has a long line of drummers, dating back to the Civil War. Grandpa Ulrich still drums at church and both of my brothers were avid drummers all through school and college. Elliot's cousin got a drumset at Christmas, and Elliot just went to town when we were there. Personally, I think it's pretty good for a 17 month old, but I could be bias.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Words are coming!

Ever since staying with Avery et al, we've been wondering when Elliot will get some words. Avery has probably 25 words, including nose, chest, belly, you name it. And if she doesn't know the word, she will immediately attempt the last hard sound. I quickly became "Tee" while staying with them. We remind ourselves, however, that Avery is quite advanced in words and mimics well. Elliot does not. He certainly comprehends everything and it is so cool to see this developmental stage too. He seems to concentrate hard with sounds when he's trying to make a word. "Momma" was very slowly sounded out and took a lot of effort; then it was followed by huge grins of accomplishment.

Elliot has definitely assigned "Momma" and "Dada" to us and will say so on command (most of the time). This is very exciting, of course, since for a long time, he had the sounds but the chair would be momma, the cat might get a dada, and so on.

However, he has other words of his own now too! Well, they are more sounds that he has quickly assigned to items, like "Duh" is his duck in the bath and "Mmoo" is the moon. This is so fun to watch because he has been insisting on the names of things for a while now, taking them all in and proving his comprehension by pointing, but the words were elusive.

Tonight was another fun one too-- he begged with his "eh, eh" for a photo album that Renee made for him last summer. There is just one photo of the two of them, and he turned right to it, pointed as if to ask her name again, and then put the book down and moved on. (Renee has gone to Australia for a bit because of a death in her family, and Elliot hasn't seen her since before Christmas.) A while later, I was getting him dressed after his bath. He very distinctly said, "Nay, Nay" and pointed to the front door. I had Renee on my mind and it dawned on me that he was saying his version of Renee! We tested him, then, and he kept saying, "Nay, Nay" and pointing to the door. The photo of her was still open on the floor, so I said to Elliot, "Show me who you want. Where is she? Is she there?" and he walked over and pointed to her in the photo again. It's so cute that he misses her! He probably called for her 5 different times tonight. How sweet.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas, 2010, Brace Yourself for Too Many Photos!

We spent 8 days going through Ohio to catch family and friends for the holidays... It was only supposed to be 7, but I got a bit sick and we had to linger one more day. Elliot ended up with the hacking cough and snotty nose I had, but luckily, not the other junk.

We had the first half of the trip up in NE Ohio with the Papczuns' and other college friends. First was a night in Painesville with Pat's aunt. She certainly made Christmas morning feel like one for Elliot and spoiled him!

Putting together the nativity with Aunt Maryann and decorating the tree.
First train set was quite popular... we had trouble packing it up as the little engine and caboose had to stay in Elliot's hands. He fell asleep in the car still gripping them.

Then we got to stay with Dave, Jen, and Avery (the Ries's who used to live in Chicago... the "day younger" baby) and boy, was that great. Elliot thought he was in heaven with all the toys geared just for his age and they have so much space to roam in.

Avery is quite an impressive little girl. She has a lot of words and is very vocal and expressive. Elliot picked up a few sounds from her while we were there.

We had Christmas with the Papczuns and with some of Nancy's family, as well as a baby shower for Pat's sister. Christmas was very chaotic with all the young ones and managing all the gifts, that I failed to get any photos of the big gathering, unfortunately.

We caught up with the Miners, Lisa Winkler, and the girls from Kent (Stephanie, Jessica, and Andrea). Should have snapped some photos of these bunches, but I just wasn't on my game, I guess!

Grandpa Papczun and Elliot after a night of playing with cousins.
After two rough nights and only a 45 min nap, these music boxes and moving snowmen saved the day with keeping Elliot pacified. It was a little rough in the beginning.

Every evening was 10pm bedtimes or so, but eventually we settled in ok. It was so nice to have a home base where we could linger and let him nap and get into a groove.
His cousins got a drumset and Elliot took right to it. I had to take a video for Grandpa Ulrich, the drummer. I'll post it soon. I have to say, he may have some drummer in him!

Then we headed to the farm for the second half of the trip, which is always slower and time to recover, as there aren't as many people to catch. We had Christmas with my brother and his family and then with the entire Ulrich side. Lots of eating, not much moving.

These are all the "kids of the cousins" on the Ulrich side, minus a few. As you can see, it was crazy kid time!
Cousin Mya is 6 months older.

I got a set of Tupperware bowls that became helmets for all the kids-- forget all the toys they just unwrapped! And the lids became stepping stones. It was a riot.

Pat and I eventually got out for a hike in the snow when Elliot wouldn't nap by 3pm one day-- we stuck him in the backpack and voila, he was out within a few minutes. We investigated the beaver problem in the woods, which was pretty impressive.

Here's daddy's fun, using his bungee cords as a toy.

Elliot got so he would "conquer" the gift-- stand on it as if it needed taming.
Those are OSU pajama pants that Elliot decided to wrap himself in.
Hey, when patience is out, let's unwrap gifts upsidedown!

Elliot finally became a bit more generous with his hugs... both sides saw a little more affection from him and he will, if you coax him right, give hugs to people's legs. (But pick him up and it's all over...) My mom and dad finally, finally, got a few hugs. As you can see, Grandpa Ulrich introduced him to the 4-wheeler, and man, was that a hit! Too bad I failed to snap any photos of Grandma Ulrich with him. Guess I was getting camera tired by then (and there was more than one stint of "Have you seen our camera?") The 50-degree day helped with being outside a little. I think they shot some basketballs in the barn too.

We came home with more than we left with, which was not the plan! We had packed minimal clothes with no extra room for all the gifts we were taking and did laundry half way through. I asked Pat on the way home, "So when do we reach a critical mass of stuff where our apartment will no longer accept carloads being brought back from Ohio?" I already started weeding out his infant toys and got a little sappy.

As you can see, it was a great holiday. Happy New Year everyone!