ELIJAH │ 3.5 Years Old
Our little guy is 3.5 years old. Half way to FOUR – unbelievable! We will be celebrating his fourth birthday with family and friends, in Texas, but for tradition’s-sake, I think that I will probably still plan to do his normal Qingdao birthday gatherings and celebrations. We might not be living in Qingdao when he turns five, so I want to go to Polar Ocean World and Dejavu while we sit live here. I’m A BIG FAN of birthdays, so I am more than happy to celebrate more than once!
The last six months have been FULL of developments. We noticed huge changes after our trip to South Africa.. Yup! As usual, Eli returned to China from a period of traveling, and he had learned so much. It definitely does show that all that quality time as a family, and moving about together, are very stimulating for the brain. The biggest change in these six months has been the addition of the LONGEST awaited skill: SPEECH! Yes, that’s right, Eli is talking!!!!
I have to say, there is nothing sweeter than that little voice of his. Even the repetitive “Mama mama mama”, doesn’t (yet) drive me crazy. I love every word that he says, and the sweet tone of his voice. It is everything that I knew it would be, and more!
Height: 97 cm │ Weight: 33 lbs
**2cm height and 5 lbs weight increase since his 3rd birthday
- Despite the second year leap in listening and obeying, Eli seemed to regress a little just before his third birthday. We assumed that it was a phase, and it was! He was back on track after a couple of weeks. In fact, he was also skipping naps, so we are sure that the behavioral change was due to the lack of sleep.
- Eli can almost “read” full stories… not clear, and missing many words, but even not looking at the book, he knows which words are next! Very impressive. We have found ourselves sitting, jaws open as he jabbers away. He uses the same tones and sounds that we do. It is nothing short of amazing.
- Says “okay mama” when he’s in trouble. It is difficult to be upset such a cute face!
- Little man joined us for a friend’s birthday at Tairyo Teppanyaki and he marveled at the “fire show” at the end of our meal.
- We spent quite a few days with our friend Serene, before she left China, and returned to her home country.
- With the weather as beautiful as it was, we did a number of family runs along the coastline. We packed picnic food for dinner, and took Eli’s beach toys with. The sun sets so late in June, that the evenings feel like they go on forever!
- Mama started the Keto Diet the day after Eli’s birthday and proceeded to loose 30+ pounds in the months that followed. We all began to eat better at home – no more crackers for Eli. We cut down to barely no sugar and flour for J + E.
- On July 9th we left for five weeks in South Africa. This was a first for us – skipping a summer vacation, and heading somewhere cold! For a long time, I have known that I wanted to be home for my father’s 60th birthday.
- As usual, Eli quickly connected with all of our loved ones… and he filled every situation with “awwwwwws” and so many smiles and love. Boy oh boy, but this kid knows how to light up a room.
- There were soooo many dinners, outings, live shows, quality family moments, and even a couple of photo shoots. **Check out July 2018 (in the column on the right, dropdown menu under “What We’ve Been Up To”) if you want to read more about our trip to Cape Town!**
- Daddy left Cape Town the dad after Granda’s 60th Birthday party, and we were all a little sad, but knew that the extra time in Cape Town would be good.
- Eli was sleeping in the same pack ‘n play (portable cot) that he slept in when he was 7 months old in SA. This time though, he figured out how to climb out of it. We were sharing a room, and he became very attached to having us near.
- Although he would, politely, play in the bed until we said good morning and told him that he could come out, he was refusing to nap in the cot by the end of the trip. I knew this meant he might be moving to his “big boy bed” in China.
- Eli and I got back to Qingdao on August 12th, and we battled through mannnnnny bedtime struggles and sleep-interrupted nights. In fact, we would go so far as to say, this was the TOUGHEST SLEEP ISSUE we have EVER had with Eli. It made the newborn-stage seem like a breeze!
- With the sleep-deprivation driving us insane, the transition from South Africa to Qingdao was our most difficult ever!
- Eli refused his crib, and climbed out repeatedly… then ran screaming to us. We were not allowed to leave the room. There wasn’t a thing we didn’t try!
- We tried a baby gate (he climbed over it), putting the gate higher (he climbed over that too), holding his door closed (he fought and fought), crying it out (always a nightmare experience), and every other trick in the book. We tried the tough approaches, and the soft ones. None of them worked. The move home, back into his own room, and change into the big boy bed, were all a little too much for our boy. But eventually, towards the middle of August, we began to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Then came the second wave of trouble: BRONCHITIS. Eli showed signs of flu on our way from Johannesburg to Qingdao, but we were already on the flight and there was nothing I could buy or give him. It was a nightmare flight!!!!!
- Once we were home, I caught that nasty flu. One night, while doing a beach photo shoot, I got wet. I thought that my flu was over, but it came back with a vengeance and turned into bronchitis. That infection lingered for MONTHS!!
- I’ll just sum it up with: This was a VERY TRYING TIME for us! Not really a great month in the Esser-household.
- The bronchitis crept it’s way into September, but besides the nasty cough, we were all starting to feel somewhat normal again. Rested, getting healthier, and back into the swing of things.
- Justin started at a new school in August, and we were thrilled to be able to use the school’s indoor pool on Saturday mornings. Eli absolutely loved every second in the water. This was some truly great family bonding time.
- We squeezed in a couple of beach days with friends – and I marveled at how wonderful it was when Eli NO LONGER ran straight into the water. Visiting the beach with him this year was so much more enjoyable!
- Justin “got creamed” at the QISS International Day. We were sad that we couldn’t spend this day as a family, but it was good that we were all there at the same time anyway!
- On a rainy Sunday, we attended the German Wine Festival in the Marina City area. Despite the gloomy weather, we enjoyed getting out together. I think we all miss the explorations that we used to have!
- At the end of the month, we said goodbye to Summer at a Redstar event. I invited a few friends, and we ate from the buffet and celebrated Justin’s birthday.
- Eli and I surprised Justin with a yummy lunch spread, and spent his birthday with him, in his office.
- On a family day out, we explored Daxue Lu in the older parts of Qingdao. It was a beautifully relaxing day!
- Check out some snapshots from this month HERE. It was definitely a pretty month in Qingdao.
- We were starting to notice how many more words Eli was saying. It was amazing hearing him say something new every couple of days. Often we were left speechless!
- With the weather still quite beautiful, we tried to get out and enjoy some outdoor play as often as we could.
- Justin and Eli followed me to photo shoots a couple of time. One Sunday, after church, they ran downtown (Eli asleep in his stroller) while I took a taxi and did a shoot. We then met for coffee, food, and some holiday planning at Maan Coffee.
- Eli absolutely loved his ride with daddy on the Qingdao City Bikes – we are looking forward to the day that they add kid’s seats to those bikes. Hopefully someone jumps on that idea soon!
- He has tried many times, but this month Eli’s scooter abilities skyrocketed, and we found ourselves cringing at how fast he was suddenly able to go on that little thing!
- Eli posed for me in a park, so that I could find some good lighting for photo shoots. I love him in these pictures! I couldn’t help but appreciate how he stopped, turned, and looked at me, when I asked him to. AMAZING! hahaha
- We went on a Korean Family Date, but were shocked at how cold and dark the nights were beginning to get!
- Sweet Eli amazed me with his patience, once again, this month. I went shopping and he happily sat in his stroller while I shopped, tried on clothes, and searched some sale racks for deals!
- This month: The Bandage Stage began…. And we couldn’t get enough of this cuteness!!!!
- October was a great month. Lots of rest, good food, healthy ways, and happy vibes.
- In the month before we left for the Philippines, we were amazed at home talkative and animated Eli was becoming!
- He is still that same calm and content little boy, happy to play for hours.
- We dressed up as Pirates and a Parrot, attended the QISS Halloween fun at school, and threw a Cinderella Party for a friend’s birthday (Eli dressed up as a mouse for the evening).
- On our first Thanksgiving Weekend off, we climbed FuShan and found a delightful little cafe at the foot of the mountain.
- Eli absolutely LOVES puzzles… we have bought him boxes and boxes. They go up as high as 200 pieces, and he is more than happy to sit and do these complicated puzzles with us. It is so precious!
- Anything letter, song, or number related is still ALL THE RAGE with Eli. He never seems to get bored with his toys, and will often go back to toys that he hasn’t played with for months (conveniently when I’m thinking of getting rid of them).
If you want to link up to any of Eli’s older updates and photo shoots, you can do that here:
ELIJAH PHOTO SHOOTS: