missives from mid-america

Category: Eli (page 1 of 2)

Doctor, Lawyer, or NASCAR?

Eli and I went to the local “sports” center for an early morning ride around the go-kart track. First run, we took a tandem with a dummy steering wheel for him. He was not fooled, but he had lots of questions for me as we went around the track a few times.

When we stopped, he got to hop into a single car (kiddie version, speed limited) and looked at me in disbelief. Once the guy rolled him out onto the track and started the motor, he was all business. After the fact, I asked if he ever hit the brakes – he said “No, but I didn’t push the gas all the way at first. I did later, though.”

The last time he had full autonomy in a motorized vehicle, it was a battery-powered Jeep toy and he didn’t use his hands.

He’s been very adept on his bike (riding without training wheels since he was 4) and learning various other riding contraptions. Also, my dad lets him steer the tractor when they ride around together, but he’s aware that Papa has control, ultimately. This was his first time with full control, and he ate it up. Stayed between the walls, too!

Year of the Monkey

Eli will love to hear about this. He is a tiger, I’m a dog, and Jennie falls under the year of the ox. According to some random internet page, the entire year of your Chinese zodiac sign is unlucky, unless you wear something red given to you by an elder. I wonder if I am considered an elder yet…

Here’s to good luck, health, and happiness to my friends and family in the year of the monkey.

First Day

We made our big move this year to be closer to friends, to be in a more accessible town, but mostly to get Eli started in a new school in a place we knew he’d thrive. Sycamore school district has a pretty good reputation, and we were pretty lucky to find a house just down the street from a well-regarded grade school there.

This morning was his first official start of a full day in Kindergarten. He was frenetic, a combination of nerves and excitement, and stalled a bit on his way there. Once inside, though, he quieted down and started taking in what was happening. It reminded me of the first time we rode the train at Blackberry Farm. I thought he was terrified, but in reality, he was just absorbing the experience. And he was hooked. We rode that train hundreds of times after that, and I’m sure school will be as exciting as the YMCA camp, or Goddard School before it.

Like me, he craves new information and experiences, even if they’re sometimes daunting. I hope he comes to understand this part of his personality and tries lots of things. I have learned that sometimes it’s not even the experience itself that’s the most fulfilling part, but rather the challenge of getting past the nerves, learning the parameters, and operating in a whole new environment.

His Kindergarten teacher seems fantastic. There are only 20 kids in his class, which seems perfect. His friend from our neighborhood is in the class next door, so they’ll see each other at recess, probably, and they can compare notes.

I think the first experience with dropping him off a few years ago at Goddard School got us prepared for today. I was trying to act as I would have any other day and not coddle him (give credence to the nerves) but I was feeling it.

He should be finishing up lunch right now. I can’t wait to get home and find out how it went.

Enough Is Too Much

It’s not that I can’t multitask – I can. If it gets too hairy, I actually write down all of the elements currently brewing so that nothing slips through the cracks. But this week is getting away from me. And the exclamation point is the fact that both Eli’s birthday and his last weekend before entering the public school system officially are upon us.

Balance is the key to most things. One way to balance is to split into so many slices that it’s nearly impossible for any one to have a greater weight. That method is untenable for extended time. Certainly not more than a week, and that’s what’s happening currently.

As ever, this too shall pass, but I don’t want to let important things slip – like Eli’s concerns about a new school. I want him to go in with confidence and excitement, but he definitely plays off of our emotions. So, the best thing for everyone is for me to get a grip and be the rock. Get ahead of the work that needs to be done. Add some levity. No big deal…

NOT for Fools

It’s hard to believe football season is nigh upon us. I’ve already seen estimates of a 3-13 season from the Bears, so my hopes are pretty low. Perhaps they’ll tank and move up in the draft and find the successor they’ve needed for a while.

Even harder to believe is that Eli will be going into kindergarten in a few weeks. He’ll turn five at just the same time, and while we’ve been told by almost everyone that it’s probably better to hold off on sending him, we think he’s ready. He’s a head taller than some kids his age, his communication skills rival some adults I know (he’s really only hampered by a lack of worldly experience – dude can talk his way out of anything), but his emotional stability is lagging a little. I think it’s easy to see why.

Both his mother and I are worriers. He likely has the genes to foster worrying, but then there’s us bolstering it. Other kids seem to be able to face adversity and be upset, but then move on, but Eli has a pretty sharp focus that will not relent. On the other hand, we’ve heard from other parents that this is not atypical for the age, but I worry that maybe they’re exaggerating to make me feel better.

See? The kid is working out of a deficit.

Overall, he’s a very adaptable kid. So, if the rest of his class is tying their shoes or counting to 100, it won’t be long before he can also do that. I get the impression that the obstinate child we encounter doesn’t make an appearance in school, or places where we aren’t. I hope that’s the case. Typically, he’s excited about these new experiences.

He’s already said that he plans to meet lots of new friends at his new school, and I’m glad that’s his focus. When we registered him for school, the stated goal of his new class was “to make new friends” which sounds like kismet.

We’re worried, but excited to have landed in the house and the town we did. Lots of friends, lots of support, and plenty to do any given day make it a joy. The school and new principal seem perfect for us, and I have high hopes that Eli will start his ascent through his education on a strong note.

Thank goodness, really, because a 3-13 season is going to require some distraction.

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

Jennie had Eli dictate a letter to Santa this year. Keep in mind that he’s already asked us if Santa is real or pretend. We’ve not answered directly, but it’s starting to feel a little duplicitous. On the other hand, there’s the magic part. I remember knowing about Santa but not asking because I was afraid it was true, and therefore might short my annual gift haul. Eli is showing signs that he similarly gets the game.

Without further ado, here’s the letter, verbatim:

1 fork lift
2 actually I want to say something to santa: I love you santa. You give lots of presents to people. It’s fine. I love you santa.
3 I want a lifter truck. Please can I have it? You are just the best santa in the world. Can I have a lifter truck?


Swedish Balls of Meat

We went to Geneva’s Swedish Days, and once again, I feel like we should probably hang out in Geneva more frequently. Like, at Graham’s. There’s a new ice cream/chocolate/popcorn shop in town, but Graham’s is hard to top.

It’s still hard to walk by the empty husk formerly known as Boxcar, but ice cream and rescue puppies did the trick.

We might still try to hear a band or two at the Two Brothers Summer Celebration, but if that doesn’t work out, we have movies and a plan to go there for lunch tomorrow.

So far, it’s been a great weekend, but that’s how it started last weekend, and that one ended with hand, foot, and mouth disease. Also, my weather app shows an unobstructed sun icon, but also a warning triangle for severe thunderstorms. Spring is finally here, just a little late.

Eli Math

On the way to school this morning, we saw a truck that looks like the one our neighbors have. I mentioned to him that they have two trucks like that – he upped the ante and said they had three: two blue trucks (demonstrated on one hand) and one white truck (on the other hand). Then he looked at his fingers and said “that’s three trucks. One, two, three.”

I thought I’d see if we could move up a number, so I asked him how many they’d have if they got another white truck. I showed him the two blue trucks on one hand and the two white trucks on the other. I asked him “How many is that?”


“Nope, but close.”

“6” (Giggling, which makes me think he knew the real answer.)

“You’re just being silly now.”

“A triangle!”

*End of math lesson*

Is It Mote or Wote?

When Eli wants to choose a snack out of the pantry, he needs someone to lift him up so he can see the top shelf (where the snacks are – out of reach). He says “Can somebody me up?” It varies a little each time, and it’s not clearly either one, but it’s also not “hold me up”.

He used to call Chipotle “the Pole Trees,” but those days are sadly gone. He’ll have a better vocabulary than us in short order.

May 2014 Updates

Updates are less and less frequent, but I’m hoping to change that. This should be the spot for new family information. I’m expecting Facebook to eventually lose favor and blow away (or change completely). We’ll see. In the meantime, has been going since Y2K, but only sporadically.

Anyhow, if you haven’t gotten your fill of toddler stories, this is the spot. Might be a brief “he said this!” post, a picture, or ruminations on child rearing. Or a music review. Not totally sure yet.

Speaking of both, Eli knows all the words to Let It Go (Frozen soundtrack). It’s pretty impressive.

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