{Elijah James - 3 Years Old}


Elijah James, you are three years old!

You have grown and developed so much these last six months it is has been incredible to watch! You have also had some big changes that you have acclimated well to. 

In September, mama went back to work part time and you started preschool. Both changes were very difficult for you both physically and emotionally. Your school days were long. You would have to wake up at 5:30am, we would leave the house by 6am and then you would be at school from 6:45am until 3:30pm. This left you tired, over-stimulated and very emotional. You struggled with the transition to preschool often telling us that you did not want to go to school. You seemed overwhelmed and it became harder and harder to get you up in the morning. Dropping you off at school was hard and honestly parenting you in this time became a challenge because we very often let our annoyance for your tantrums win over the grace you deserved in those moments. Every week your tantrums seemed to increase and it felt like we were constantly needing to discipline you. Towards the end of September we came to the conclusion that we had not set you up for success with your long days and you were not going to thrive in your situation. Mama and papa had a long talk and decided that your mental and emotional health were more important than mama working. So we made the decision that mama would stop working and stay home with you and Levi. It was the best decision we have made in this season.

One thing we have learned about you over the past couple years is that you have got an insatiable appetite for learning. So mama and papa wanted to make sure you continued to be challenged to learn new things. Beginning in November, you started a new preschool near our home. Unlike your old routine where you would be at school for 8-10 hours, your new school is only 2.5 hours each day, three days a week. You have really blossomed these last four months in your new environment. While you miss your teachers and some kids from your old school, you really enjoy your new preschool and the smaller class. You love your teachers Ms. Sidney and Ms. Alyssa. Once you started getting regular and consistent sleep and adjusted to your new routine Mama and Papa began to see quite a difference with your behavior. You, of course, still have tantrums and a hard time with your emotions but there was a marked change in the frequency and intensity of your outbursts. Four months into this big decision - we know without a doubt that it was the right choice for you Elijah and our family.

Elijah, with time and practice using your words and taking deep breaths, you are becoming better at managing your emotions - particularly over these last two months. More often than not, you can communicate to us when you are angry, frustrated or disappointed. Often a break and a conversation about what happened gets you refocused. In fact, over the past month you have even began to catch yourself BEFORE you start a tantrum and have started to use your words to express your feelings. It is a challenge but it is very impressive watching you learn that you get the outcomes you desire more when you do not throw a tantrum. 

Elijah, you have A TON of energy. All bets are off and it can be almost impossible to calm you down when you get yourself excited and worked up. This often happens when you are playing with Levi or when you are with your buddy Dominic. It is so wonderful to see you get excited and happy but your energy levels can become almost frantic. We are still working on what is the best way to work with you on that. In your excitement you are not always gentle and sometimes you are so overwhelmed that you bite. We have been told that this is normal when you do not know how to express a strong emotion or have too much physical energy.

Elijah, you are incredibly bright and observant. Your memory is amazing. You not only memorize your favorite books, you also remember details (both big and small) from things that happened months ago. We might use a word in a sentence that reminds you of something we said in Florida three months ago and you'll start asking many questions to see if you are remembering something correctly. One time we played "It's a Small World After All" and you talked all about the ride at Disney World and how the characters on the ride shook their hips. 

It is funny, for all the energy you have and for how talkative you are at home, you tend to be on the shy side until you warm up to people and situations. Even four months into your new school, you still ask mama to come in with you every day even if it is for a minute or two. You are easily overwhelmed by big kids and the energy they bring. When you are in a situation like that you will often need to connect with mama or papa in order to feel safe. You are more likely to try something new or feel safe somewhere new if we go with you the first couple of times.

These days, you like to "read" books to yourself after nap or in the morning. You will sit with your pile of books and flip through the pages often reciting what you've memorized from mama or papa reading the book to you. Your favorite books these days have been The Wondrous World of Elijah, Mickey Mouse ABC, Harry the Dirty Dog, and Clifford Takes a Bath. Mama has also starting to explore books from the Library with you!

The role of big brother has evolved quite a bit for you these last few months and there is much you are still trying to figure out. You love giggling with and being silly with Levi. But when your energy levels get too ramped up, you try to wrestle with or are too rough with Levi. It seems that the bigger Levi grows, the more physical you think you can be with him. Mama and papa have to remind you frequently that Levi is smaller than you and you need to be gentle with him.  Now that Levi is mobile, you have begun struggling with sharing toys. Some days, the coffee table and couch are piled high with toys because you do not want Levi to play with them. Mama hears a lot of "No Levi" throughout the day as you continue to struggle with the idea of someone else touching your things. Mama and papa are trying to figure out what the best tactic is for handling this. Sometimes we put a cap on how many things you can take, or we ask you to give him one of your other toys. We imagine that this may be a challenge for a while.

Elijah, you are getting more responsibility as you get older! You can now play solo upstairs in your room when you wake up in the morning or after a nap. You can stay downstairs when we are feeding Levi or putting him down upstairs. You can also fill up your own water cup at the fridge, put your shoes on by yourself, and are getting better at putting on your own underwear and pants. You are fully potty trained during the day and during nap time which has been great. A new part of your sleeping routine is being able to wake up and go potty by yourself. We now leave the bathroom door open for you and you will wake up and immediately go potty. We are very proud of how well you have handled this transition. Many mornings each week you will wake up with a dry pull-up, but there are still more wet mornings than dry mornings. We have not quite figured out how to tackle overnight just yet, but we really haven't tried too hard. We recently started having you and Levi sleeping in the same room at night and our focus has been more on that then on overnight potty training.

These days your favorite activities are going for walks, going to gymnastics, riding on your scooter or tricycle, and having papa make up a story for you. You have also gone to see a few live plays at the Seattle Children's Theater (Go Dog Go and Mr. Popper's Penguins) and have loved those. You have really enjoyed your special dates with mama and papa like visiting the Space Needle, the Ferris Wheel, and the Pacific Science Center. For your birthday, papa took you to see Daniel Tiger Live and you loved it! You also love baking - we are often in the kitchen making bagels, pancakes, muffins, and cakes together. Recently you have begun taking baths with Levi and you love it. You especially love splashing with him and getting water everywhere. You love wresting with Papa at night when he gets home from work, and playing on his drum set with him. You still love helping! You often ask mama in the morning or papa at night if we need help changing Levi's diaper. You love helping cook your own breakfast and lunch and you still insist on making coffee for mama and papa. Most Sundays you help papa take out the trash and recycling.

Elijah, much to our surprise you have become more cuddly recently. We cannot tell you how much joy this brings to our hearts. You love to hug and kiss, but you also are spontaneously vocal about your love for mama and papa. It is quite endearing to have you come out of no where and give us a hug and say you love us, or that we are your best mama or papa. You also love to give 10 kisses at a time and we count the kisses together.

For your 3rd birthday, you were given the option of having a birthday party or having a special play date with just your buddy Dominic. You chose the latter and had an epic day. Mama and papa took you boys down to the waterfront and you enjoyed cake pops at Starbucks, riding the Ferris Wheel, taking a carousel ride, and having lunch at Red Robin. Afterwards, we had chocolate cake at Dominic's house to celebrate you both turning 3. You cannot wait to do all that again!

As always, your speech gets better and better with every month that goes by. As you learn to articulate your thoughts more, you've also picked up on some common phrases that you hear others saying around you. Here are some funny things that you have been saying recently:

  • "Would that be a great idea?" - You say this after you suggest an activity or something you would like to try.
  • "Oh my gosh!" - You say this loudly and emphatically. It is hilarious!
  • "Mama/Papa - You're my best girl/boy"
  • Praying for Echo - You like to give thanks for our Echo each night.
You have had lots of adventures these last 6 months. We rode the ferry to Bainbridge Island as a family and spent the day exploring, you went to the State Fair and even rode some rides by yourself, You went to the pumpkin patch twice, dressed up as Daniel Tiger for Halloween, and went trick or treating for the first time with friends from our community group. You went to Florida to see Pop Pop and Grandma, you went to Disney World and met Mickey Mouse, you helped pick out the Christmas tree this year and you earnestly helped decorate it. You have had lots of special time with Grandpa Jerry and you loved our annual New Year's trip with the Kaetzel's. You loved wrestling with the Kaetzel boys and chasing them around the house. You have started sharing a room at night with Levi and you are loving it! Every night you ask if Levi will be sleeping in your room. Usually Levi wakes you up bright and early because he is so excited to see you, but you do not seem to mind.

These next 6 months we think you are looking forward to going to Ireland, seeing another play with mama, celebrating Levi's 1st Birthday, and going to Lake Chelan with friends.

Here are a few photos and videos from the last 6 months!

Ferry Boat Ride

 Baking with Mama

  Visiting the Pumpkin Patch

 Best Buds!
 Dressed up to see a play with mama

 Daniel Tiger for Halloween!

 Ready to fly to Florida!
 Special time with Pop Pop and Grandma

 Ready for Disney World

 All about Mickey

 School Christmas Performance
 Adventures with Papa!

 Beach Exploring
Breakfast with Grandpa Jerry 

 Birthday Boy loves Mickey!

 Baked & Decorated your own Birthday cake
 Special Birthday celebration with Dom!

{Levi - 10 Months}


Levi Daniel, you are 10 months old!

Wow, this month has been full of growth. You have started crawling and now you are all over the place! You love checking everything out. You are very into cause and effect - so you throw your toys and then retrieve them, throw toys down the stairs to watch them fall, and put your toys high up on things like the couch and coffee table - only to see if you can get them again. You give sweet open mouth slobbery kisses when we ask you for a kiss. You are clapping like a pro. You LOVE music! As soon as we start playing music you are wiggling your whole body and clapping. You now chase your big brother Elijah all around the house which isn't always met with appreciation. Elijah is learning to share more with you.

When it comes to solid food, you are just willing to try anything and everything. So often your plate looks like a mix up from everyone's plate.  Your favorite foods are: Cheerios, Bananas, carrots, chicken, pork, eggs, and noodles. You have mastered your pincer grasp when you are eating solids. You are also doing better with straws and sippy cups. 

Levi, with all of this growth and development you have had, you still do not like to put any type of weight on your feet. After discussing this with your pediatrician - we decided the best course of action was to have a developmental assessment done. Normally, this wouldn't be a cause of concern at almost 10 months, but with your vascular birthmark we want to be on top of any type of development concerns. So, you recently had a cognitive, social/emotional, communication and fine/gross motor evaluation. It was an interesting experience, but you did great! What we learned is that you are incredibly flexible and so it will take more time/effort for you to stabilize the right muscles to build on each gross motor skill. All other areas that you were assessed on you did great with! 

You also completed your sixth laser treatment for your birthmark. These are short, but difficult procedures. When we check in, you get a topical anesthetic put on the areas you will be treated. Photos are also taken so that we can monitor the progress. After waiting a period of time to let the cream take affect you are taken into a room to have the procedure done. There are usually several people in the room. You are swaddled and held down by one attendee, and another helps hold your head in place. An intra-ocular corneal laser eye shield is placed in your eye (it looks like an over-sized contact and goes in similar to a contact). Everyone else in the room has to wear safety goggles. The actual procedure lasts between 5-10 minutes. While it is short, it is intense. You are incredibly unhappy during the procedure and hard to soothe. Mama did you most recent treatment and it was too difficult to be apart of. Typically Papa has done the procedures and he is able to stay more calm and present during them. Once the procedure is over, you are back to your happy self withing in minutes. Your face has been staying bruised for 2-3 weeks, but it does not seem to bother you. Levi, you are incredibly strong and brave!

You recently started sharing a room with you brother. The first few nights were interesting as you both started learning how to sleep together and fall asleep in the room. You love sitting in your crib and giggling with you brother. But each day you both have gotten better with your sleep. It takes you a bit longer to fall asleep at night than it used to and when you wake up, you are excited to get you brother up a bit earlier than he would usually wake. But overall, you both seem happy to be in the room. During afternoon nap, you still rest in mama and papa's room because naps can be hit or miss with Elijah.

Levi you have been working hard on your third tooth, and it finally cut! You have also grown out of 12 month onesies and footed pajamas. It is hard to believe that you are in 18 month clothes! You continue to love music. As soon as we ask the Echo to play music a big smile comes on your face. You start wiggling and clapping your hands!

During your 10th month you enjoyed play dates, going out on walks, trying sushi, and playing more interactively with Elijah.

During your 11th month of life, we think you are looking forward to taking your first international trip to Ireland!

Here are some photos and videos from your 10th month.