Elijah’s First Birthday

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Elijah’s first birthday. Although I’ve shared plenty of pictures on here of our Sweet Boy, I wanted to spend this post sharing a little about who our Elijah is.

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We call him Lij, Big, Elijah, and sometimes Sweet Boy. He has always been a mellow baby, and very content. When I was pregnant, he didn’t kick or move around very much compared to any of his siblings. He’s always happy to do his own thing: crawl around, eat anything he can find (more on that later), or play with anyone. I think he’s going to grow up to be a relatively quiet boy and eventually become the kind of person who, once he does open his mouth, has very wise words come out.

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He’s also very strong. I’ll probably always remember turning around one morning, as I was preparing breakfast, to see one of our children (who shall remain nameless) standing on Elijah’s back. Just standing there like he was a step stool. I yelped, scolded, and got that kid off of Elijah as fast as I could, but Elijah just lay there mid army-crawl, looking up at me with an expression that said, “What’s the big deal?” He was fine, though the child on his back weighed more than twice as much as he did.

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Elijah is happy to play with anyone who shows him interest. Abby will frequently entertain him while I’m in the kitchen. She’ll hug him, “tickle” him, and wrestle him, and he’s happy just to have the attention. Just about anyone we let pick him up will find a sweet, smily baby, who is, again, happy to interact no matter who you are. But when Elijah gets tired, he wants Mom. He’ll start crying if he sees me enter the room and he’ll army crawl quickly over to my feet. Just like his siblings, he’ll pop some fingers in his mouth (he prefers the pointer and middle finger of his left hand) grab on to my hair or his own, and become quiet and content once more.

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But, Elijah LOVES his daddy. There’s a Frank Sinatra song called “I Only Have Eyes for You”, and, though I don’t actually know the whole song, that one line from the title pops into my head just about every time Lij spots Dan across a room. He’ll stare at him for so long until Dan finally comes over, gives him some attention and hold him. (Abby was the same way.) “Mom’s great when I’m tired, but there’s nobody like Dad!”

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As far as food goes, Elijah has recently started to eat a lot. For months we couldn’t get him to eat solid food. Baby food of any flavor makes him gag. He won’t touch bananas. Avocado won’t stay down, and even if it could, we can’t get him to put it in his mouth anymore. The only toothless-friendly food Elijah likes are sweet potatoes, and he loves sweet potatoes. Of course, my one baby to skip the purees is also the slowest to get teeth. The day his molars come in will be a happy day, because Elijah will pretty much only eat what we’re eating. And he’ll only eat it if he gets to feed it to himself.

As we approached the one-year mark, Dan and I were DONE getting up at night, but Elijah wasn’t. We tried roughly a million approaches to get him to sleep better: night weaning, feeding right before bed, waking up to feed right before I went to bed, moving him out of our room, letting him cry, waking him up at preplanned times during the night to eat, and always, always, we just prayed that he’d stop getting us up. Finally, when the weather really got cold, we had to move him into Paul’s room because the room he was sleeping in didn’t have heat. Paul handled the transition surprisingly well (but he did keep asking for us to put Elijah in his crib with him, and could not understand why they had to sleep in separate beds. He also likes to give Elijah things to sleep with: blankets, stuffed animals, wooden tools, toy cars, books…). I gave up on “making” Elijah sleep through the night, and we all survived. Now we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel as he sleeps through the night more and more frequently (four out of the last six nights, not that I’m counting).

We feel truly blessed to have Elijah in our family. Every child is different. Every personality is unique. Elijah is our strong, quiet, content, friendly baby with only one major flaw. He. Eats. Everything. I know all babies do this. I know I have three others and I can’t watch him as closely as I did the others. But it’s not just that. This boy has a gift. He can find things even if we just picked everything up. He’ll sneak (yes, sneak!) things into his mouth and then hold very still whenever you look at him so you can’t tell he’s chewing (gumming?) it. Rocks, dirt, leaves, small toys, day-old food, pieces of carpet he tore out himself. This summer, the day before we went on a short beach-trip, Elijah got his hands on a small giraffe eraser. Lydia was the first to notice him coughing and ran to tell Mommy (Way to go Lids!). I quickly realized the problem was beyond me and sent her to get Dan, who was, thankfully, working from home that day. He came down and did everything you’re <em<supposed to do. But when Elijah started gasping for air and coughing up mucus and blood, we called 9-1-1.

After a long wait, the paramedics came, repeated everything Dan had already done, and reported to us that Elijah would need to take an ambulance to the hospital where he would probably need surgery. I pulled the mom card (what if he needs to eat?) to get to be the one to go with him, even though Dan wanted to go. Dan graciously stayed home with the rest of the kids and I made a scary trip to Mott’s Children’s Hospital. Lij had missed his nap and fell asleep in the ambulance, which was actually a very good thing, but made for a scary ride. As I was trying to pray, I remembered some words from earlier that week, that an Elder had prayed for Elijah during his baby dedication, “We do pray for his protection. We pray that the Evil One would not be permitted to harm him.” Those words encouraged me. If our elder has been led to pray that only a few days before, and if we had faithfully shared how God had answered our prayers in Elijah’s life, to tell that God really does hear and answer our prayers, surely God wouldn’t intend on taking him from us now.

I prayed that Elijah would cough up the toy he was choking on, and back at home, Lydia was frantically praying the same thing (and that we could still go on our beach trip) with Dan and the rest of the kids. Elijah did cough up the toy just two minutes before the ER team was planning to call in their back-up surgery team (because the first team was busy). After coughing it up, Lij started grabbing all of the medical equipment, trying to pop it into his mouth too, which gave the team a good laugh and caused no one to give me a hard time. Clearly this was a baby who never stops putting things in his mouth. (And yes, we did get to go on our beach trip.)

God has been kind to us in giving us Elijah, and in protecting that Little Stinker beyond what we can do ourselves. When Elijah was born, I had always thought of him as a special gift. Elijah means: the Lord is Yahweh. John, named after Dan’s Grampa, means: Yahweh is gracious. Grace. Gift. Elijah John, you are indeed a special gift to our family. We wouldn’t trade you for anything. There’s no on like you. You remind us, sometimes daily, that God does answer prayer in big and small ways. He has protected you already when we thought we might lose you twice. Happy first birthday, my Sweet Boy. And, please, please, give us a less eventful second year!

Munchkin Update: 3 Years, 2 Months

Lydia is in to collecting things. She collects rocks, leaves, and flowers from outside. Sometime she keeps them in her pocket and sometimes she pretends one of the rocks is her cell phone. She also tends to collect purses. And tutus. Right now the tutu count is up to four.

A few days ago Lydia pulled the blanket off of her bed and rigged a “swim suit” out of a couple of tutus. One of her favorite games now is to put on that “swimsuit” and go “swimming” in her bedroom. If anyone is friendly enough to join her she really likes to get in and out of the “water” and dry off with a blanket each time before jumping back in.

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She is all go, all the time. And if you ask her, she will tell you that she is never tired. For the past few months now she has been in a “why” phase. Her response to almost everything is “why”. Often she genuinely wants to know, sometimes she does it to be silly, and sometimes it’s just out of habit. This morning I was folding laundry and Lydia asked me if I would go “swimming” with her. I told her I could after I finished folding laundry and washing dishes.

“Why?”

“So we have clean clothes to wear and clean dishes to eat off of.”

Her answer was insightful: “So they will get dirty again?”

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Lately Lydia has memorized the books of the New Testament and a large portion of scripture put to song for our Church’s Vacation Bible School. Dan and I also realized that we were emphasizing a lot of numbers and shapes with her, so I decided to start teaching her the alphabet.

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Every morning I pull out some magnet letters and we play with them. Big A and Little A are on our fridge right now along with Big B and Little B. They tell Lydia what sounds they make and sing the ABC song. It’s sort of like a little puppet show every day and she loves it.

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Lydia is always my big helper. If I let her help me make dinner or wash dishes, she’s thrilled. She’s happy go get a clean diaper for Abby or throw away anything we say can go in the trash. She’s also as sweet as can be and frequently asks us to hold her or sing with her. Sometimes she spontaneously comes up and says, “I love you Mom”. We love her spunk and her energy and her silliness, but more than that we love the sweet hearted helper that she is and her precious sensitive heart.

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Munchkin Update: 2 Years, 8 Months

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This month Lydia found her way into Mommy and Daddy’s closet.  There she found, not only some high-heel shoes, but all of Mom’s necklaces.  She promptly put them all on, along with the shoes, along with a pretty dress she had asked to wear earlier that morning.  Lydia loves dressing up.  She loves being pretty.  We’re just trying to teach her not to eat the dress up accessories!

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Every night Lydia asks Mommy or Daddy to lay down on the “green bed” with her. The sheets on her bed aren’t actually green right now. They’re striped blue and purple. However, the original sheets were green, and even when those aren’t the ones on the bed, it is still the “green bed”. Anyway, Lydia loves to snuggle up with Mom or Dad before going to sleep each night. In the morning, Dan lets Lydia sit on his lap and eat two crackers while listening to Adventures on Odyssey online. So, each night we excitedly tell her all that is in store for the coming day and she eagerly asks, “Odyssey!? TWO crackers!?!”.

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Lydia has also gotten quite excited about church and Hope Group (Bible study). Almost every day she asks, “Church?” and if the answer is a no, “Hope Group?”. She is learning to sit quietly through most of the “boring” stuff and then eagerly plays with her other little friends. She doesn’t really understand that it’s not always her turn to talk but we recently taught her what it means to close her mouth. So sometimes we tell her it’s time to “close your mouth” and she’ll make one of her “close mouth faces”. One of these faces is a closed mouth with teeth showing, a bit like a beaver. The other is, of course, sucking her thumb.

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Lydia loves to copy Mom and Dad. Whether it’s feeding her baby dolls, wearing Mom’s clothes, or standing next to us at church and singing along, Lydia loves to be like us. On Sunday Dan was holding Abby in a cradle hold during a meeting at church. Lydia was wearing a headband of mine that she found in the diaper bag. She finished “feeding” her doll and then started holding it with the doll’s head on Lydia’s shoulder. After a quick glance at Dad she rearranged her doll in a cradle hold, just like Abby. It melts my heart to see Lydia wanting to be like us, and is extra motivating for us to be good parents and model our lives the way we want Lydia to model hers.

Lydia also started potty training (again) yesterday, but I’ll hold off any of those updates until next week when it becomes more clear if she’s really ready.