Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Elli has definitely kept things interesting! I was actually at scout camp with Parker on Monday and Tuesday, and didn't get back until 1:00 AM Wednesday morning. Christi was already gone and her parents were staying overnight to watch the other kids until I returned home. About 8:10 on Wednesday morning, Sophi woke me up. I looked at the clock and suddenly realized that Elli's school bus would be arriving at 8:15. Absolutely zero chance of getting her ready in time. So I took the walk of shame down the driveway and told the driver that as a result of mom being out of town, the next five days would be absolute chaos and would she please forgive me for not having Elli ready. She did.
I got Elli ready for school, which has a significantly different result from when Christi gets Elli ready for school. The primary difference is in the hairdo. I got here there an hour late for a three-hour summer school session, but it really is good for her to get the interaction with other people. Thursday morning, you can bet I had her ready on time!
Elli loves to play the piano. When we first moved in, we purchased a used electric keyboard and put it in her room. It took her less than a week to completely destroy it. She pulled it over, we set it back up. She knocked it sideways, we put it back. She used it to create deep new designs in the drywall and we finally removed it. It's completely hashed. We then let her play the piano we had in the exercise room. (I know…exercise room? We're still settling in, OK?) I put a lock on the door, and we now had two rooms that would work to keep her in: her bedroom and the piano/exercise room. Only problem? The exercise room is right next to Taylor's and Parker's room and it started to drive them crazy having Elli pound away at the piano. So we decided we would move the piano to the play room. But there's no door on the play room, and letting Elli play on the piano there would be a recipe for disaster. What to do?
Aha! Let's put an actual piano in Elli's room. A keyboard is no match for her destructive powers, but a solid piano would resist her wiles. We found an old studio piano for only $300! It actually played well, but it was pretty beat up and needed a couple of hours of work before it would be ready for Elli. One of the key things it needed was a mechanism to lock it at night so Elli can't start playing when everyone's asleep. I had the piano delivered on Thursday afternoon. I didn't have time to do all of the work on it before she went to bed, so I put on a simple latch to keep it shut. It was one of those spring-loaded eye and hook systems. I put one on both side of the key cover and thought it would foil Elli's attempts to get it open. Boy was I wrong! I made the mistake of letting her play it for a few minutes, thus alerting her to the fact that there was a piano in her room. She enjoyed it, and even posed for a picture:
When I locked it and tried to tuck her in for the night, she went absolutely bonkers. She was SO mad that she couldn't get into the piano keys. She cried and raged and cried and raged. Finally she settled down and went to sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I walked out of my room and into the kitchen. Parker asked, "Did you hear Elli playing the piano this morning?" Uh-oh! I hurried down to her room and found this:
Like I said, it needed some work before Elli had unrestricted access to it. In addition to pulling the keys out of place, she had also pulled off the little felt circles that go underneath each key and chewed on each, dusty, nasty one. One of many reasons for the title of this post!
Parker jumped in and volunteered to fix it for me. It really didn't take too long:
Once the keys were back in place, I put Elli in the exercise room with some toys so I could finish the work on the piano. In conjunction with the piano in her room, we moved the other piano out of the exercise room. Once again, Elli was raging mad to go into the room where she was used to a piano and not find one there. Poor girl. I spent a couple of hours fixing it up the new one and putting on a better locking system. when I went back to check on Elle, she had torn apart much of the SofTiles floor:
With the piano fixed, Elli was VERY excited to get back in her room and play. She loves having it in there. I let her go in her room and she made a beeline for the old ivories. I left her in there for awhile, forgetting a very important rule: Never leave Elli alone if she's dressed in clothes she can remove! Sure enough, when I returned, she had removed all of her clothing including her diaper. Let's just say I had a nice mess to clean up. I carried her upstairs to the girls' bathroom for a bath. Elli usually loves bathing, and this was no exception. Early on in our tenure in this home, Elli took apart the drain plug in that bathtub. At first she would unscrew one particular part of it and put it in her mouth during every bath. (This would also drain the tub on her, but she never seemed to figure out the correlation.) Finally, she lost the part, and the plug no longer worked correctly. If you set it gently in the right place, it would do a reasonable job of keeping the water in, but with Elli in the tub, it would not stay there very long.
So I put her in the bath and started it. While it was filling I unloaded a bunch of groceries I had just purchased. I went back in to check, and the water was above her belly button. She generally enjoys soaking in the tub for awhile, so I turned off the water and went down to clean up her room. A few minutes later I hear Sophi start yelling for me. "Dad?" "DAD?" DAAAAAAAAD!!!???!!!???!!!" This is not an uncommon experience, as once she realizes she doesn't know exactly where a parent is, Sophi tends to freak out. I called back, "I'm in Elli's room." I heard her make her way down the stairs and through the hallway. She walked in: "Elli's taking a bath with no water!"
So I interrupted my delightful cleaning project in Elli's room and took on the delightful task of bathing her. In the end everything got cleaned up, Elli was wearing a onesie that discourages disrobing and I got dinner on the table. Is it bad that it was almost 8pm before I fed my kids?
Anyway, with Elli around, there is always something to do. Boredom is not a problem for the parents of kids with special needs!
A few bonus pics of Elli:
-At church, trying to drink like Soph?
-Chillin' in the pool:
Dressed up for her school play:
An alternative to bathing?