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With the arrival of Little Man’s baby sister only a few days away, this post takes on a special meaning. Not only is it a post about our third Christmas together as a happy trio, but it’s also the end of an era. For almost three years, Mommy has made weekly posts about the happenings of our first little love, Jack. I have tracked, described, and relished every moment from his entrance into our family to the smallest of quirks that make us laugh. It has been a beautiful and wonderful journey recounting the greatest of life’s treasures, watching your child grow. For years to come, Mommy and Daddy will have a record, a journal, of all of these moments, told no more than a week out from their happening. This is truly a blessing. Best yet, when our darling little boy is all grown up, he will be able to read about his life and what Mommy and Daddy were thinking and feeling as he grew up before our very eyes.
However, with the arrival of a second darling to our lives, it would be unrealistic to think that Mommy will be able to keep up with this weekly pace, especially given the level of detail and thought I strive to include in each and every post. As a result, after this week’s post, Mommy and Daddy have decided to start a new family blog that will include events from all of our lives, including the happenings with Lil Miss and the many misadventures I’m certain Jack will be having. It’s our hope that this new blog will grow from the loving experiences we’re tracked with Tuesdays with Jack and provide a fuller picture of our family as a whole, including activities we’re all involved in, recipes and crafts we’re trying, and just the general life and love we share as a family. The site name and occurrence schedule of posts has yet to be decided on, but will certainly be folded into this site once our lives settle following the birth of Little Man’s little sister. In the mean time, here’s Tuesdays with Jack. . .
As I’ve said a million times before, we love Christmas. Christmas in our home isn’t just an excuse to give gifts, because we hardly need an excuse for that, but it’s a holiday season that allows us to burst at the seams with love, joy, and thankfulness like one experiences when they’re a young child. While Mommy and Daddy have always loved Christmas, it has only been since having Jack that we’ve been able to recapture the true magic of Christmas, the magic that you only experience in those special moments around the tree when you’re a little one, waiting for Santa to scurry down the chimney. This year, our third year as a happy trio at Christmas, was destined to be pure fun from the beginning, if for no other reason than Jack is old enough to understand what’s going on. So, with this in mind, and knowing that this would be our last Christmas as a trio, Mommy and Daddy set out to ensure this holiday season was especially thrilling for our little guy.
From baking Christmas cookies to looking at Christmas lights, Mommy and Daddy tried to ensure all of the typical holiday cylinders were firing. We colored in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer coloring books, wrapped presents, and watched all of the typical Christmas movies that warm the holiday heart. Jack was a huge fan of Rudolph this year, but much to our dismay, he also found a horrible Christmas movie on Netflix streaming entitled, The Alphabots Christmas. And yes, it is worse than it sounds, but whatever makes our little guy happy. While all of these traditions are fairly common the holiday around, we also tried to have some of our own traditions. For Mommy, one of these traditions is giving Jack a special handmade gift. Last year I made Jack a patchwork quilt from his receiving blankets and this year, given his love of cars, I made Little Man a special 3 foot by 3 foot car caddy/ play mat that included all of his favorite things, airplanes, apples, fire station, trees, helicopters, and Shaun the Sheep (more on him later). It was a special moment for me when Jack arrived upstairs on Christmas morning to not only see the fun things Santa had left in his stocking, but to see the special mat Mommy had made and stocked full of new cars.
But, Mommy is jumping ahead of herself. Of course before Christmas morning, there was Christmas Eve, which has its own vibe and traditions as well. To kick the morning off, Nana and Grandad came over to give Jack his presents. This was Little Man’s first experience with presents he could open that were just for him since his birthday. It took a little bit of coaching, but eventually he got the hang of it. He was super excited with the emergence of each new toy and could hardly wait to bust them out and play. After each package was opened, he would smile widely and frantically sign “open” for each.
Between Play-Doh and a Toy Story Duplo set, Little Man didn’t know what he wanted to play with more. Fortunately, he was more than happy to play with the Duplos with Grandad for a little while, but once it was time for them to head out to their next stop, the only thing on Jack’s mind was getting his hands on some Play-Doh. So, that’s what we did for the rest of the afternoon before it was time to head out and look at Christmas lights. I only had to keep him from eating it twice. Rubbing it all over his nose and in his hair, now that’s a different story. . .
Jack also received a cute raccoon hat and mitten set from Nana and Grandad and he was more than happy to try it on before we set out on our Christmas light adventure. Unfortunately, after a few quick pictures, he was over the fashion show and was only interested in heading out the door. Given that he refused to take a nap that afternoon, our quest for holiday illuminations was short, but sweet. Little Man enjoyed a few displays in some of the older neighborhoods close to our home, but his temperament soon waned and we were headed home to open up our traditional Christmas Eve pjs.
Given how tired he was, our pj gift exchange was a little short and not so sweet. Little Man wasn’t a fan of his new Cars 2 pajamas and was clearly ready to tear into all of the other presents out of frustration and being tired. So, we quickly headed downstairs to begin our nightly routine.
There, Mommy tried on her new pjs. It was a bit of challenge for Daddy to find pajamas for Mommy that would both work for the few remaining days that I’m preggers, but also be cozy after giving birth. He found the perfect combination. He picked out a cute preggy night shirt that says “Sexy and Pregnant” and cozy pj pants that fit both now and can be adjusted once Lil Miss arrives. Mommy felt particularly cute in her new pjs.
Daddy received new slippers and Mickey Mouse flannel pjs, but he waited to put them on until after Jack went to bed because he still had to venture out to pick up our Christmas Eve dinner of Chinese food.
Little Man was so sleepy from not napping that he fell asleep almost immediately after being put into bed. Thank goodness too because he had a big day ahead of him . . .
Christmas morning, Little Man rose bright and early as usual. However, since he’s still discovering the whole Christmas morning anticipation thing, he woke up early simply because that’s what he does. So, Mommy and Daddy rolled out of bed. I tried to keep Jack downstairs for a little bit of cuddling in bed while Daddy popped our traditional Christmas morning Monkey Bread. But, after a few minutes of this, Jack booked it upstairs with Mommy hot on his tail, waddling as quickly as my overly inflated with baby abdomen would carry me. Unfortunately, upon reaching the upstairs, Jack wasn’t in the best of moods. For some reason, he was completely obsessed with the idea that we should be cooking something. He desperately wanted Mommy to make muffins or cookies or pancakes, whatever he could help stir. This wasn’t an option since we already had Monkey Break cooking and Mommy was fresh out of any additional ingredients that would satiate Jack’s desires. Fortunately, after a few minutes and a sippy of orange juice later, Jack was persuaded to check out the awesomeness of Christmas morning in the living room, complete with a stocking full of presents.
The rest of the morning was a bit of a juggling act. Between an oven that suddenly decided to start smoking due to Monkey Bread droppings, an insane amount of gifts for Jack to open, and Mommy and Daddy’s gift exchange, it really was a miracle that we managed to get through the morning without too much craziness. Just like the morning before, Jack would open a gift and then anxiously await its opening so he could begin playing immediately. This wasn’t so much a problem except when Mommy made the mistake of giving him a small present of Play-Doh to open. . . It took the opening of a tool box and drill set to momentarily take his mind off of his favorite obsession.
It was during these moments of play that Mommy and Daddy were able to exchange our own gifts, which was nice. However, this also meant that it took us a couple of hours to help get Jack all the way through his loot. Eventually, we made it through. After some down time and a lot of Monkey Bread and house airing later, it was time to take Little Man downstairs to see what Santa had left him there. . .
Yes, Santa certainly knew what Little Man wanted most even though he didn’t write him a letter this year. Our Jack received an awesome play kitchen so he can “cook” any time he wants! Upon seeing his gift, he knew exactly what to do and immediately set about the work of making Mommy and Daddy some coffee. Our time spent in the basement with Jack acting as our chef was the last quiet moment we had for a little while because soon after, the rest of the family descended onto our home for a huge holiday celebration.
This was the first year that we had the whole family over for Christmas. Not only did we have the three of us, but we also had Oma, Papa, Aunt Ali, Cousin Carson, Aunt Shayla, Uncle Shaun, and two of Jack’s favorite people, Demeree and Jailynn. It was a full house of holiday fun. There was literally wrapping paper flying everywhere and Mommy could barely distinguish between all of the conversations. On top of all of the gift giving, Daddy had also made a super delicious glazed ham dinner. It was chaos, but the good kind that one can only achieve with a house full of loved ones.
After the crowd thinned out a bit and we gave our Christmas hugs to Oma and the gang, Jack spent the evening running around with Jailynn playing with his new loot. Aunt Shayla, totally knowing her little nephew had given Jack a tool bench complete with nailing station. So, Jack spent the rest of Christmas hammering away. The only time he took a break from was his “work” was to munch down on some Turtle Cream pie. A dessert that he aptly described as “Mmmmmmm”.
It was a crazy and chaotic Christmas, but boy oh boy was it fun. The magic of the holiday could be felt whenever Jack laughed or seen in his face as he truly experienced Christmas for the first time. Mommy and Daddy couldn’t have asked for a better day. The air was full of fun and our home full of laughter and love. While it was our last holiday as a troublesome trio, it was the perfect end to an era as it embodied everything our family has been for the past three years. Mommy can hardly begin to imagine how amazing the journey we’re about to embark on as our family grows will be considering how spectacular it has been up to this point.
It’s a no brainer to celebrate the wonderful moments it life. It makes perfect sense to document all of the blessings one experiences. Our family has been truly blessed over the years and these are blessings that we don’t take for granted. From our health to our beautiful son and the undoubtedly lovely daughter we have on the way, Mommy and Daddy are thankful from the bottom’s of our hearts. It’s the documenting of Jack’s life and the celebration of the blessings that we began Tuesdays with Jack. However, Mommy would be remiss if all I did was document and celebrate all of the happiness, but failed to pay tribute to the more difficult parts of life that also deserve the dignity of being remembered. One such event is the passing of Jack’s great grandpa and Daddy’s grandpa.
Over the past eleven months, Daddy’s grandpa battled cancer. It was during this period of time that both Mommy and Jack had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Grandpa Hight. While I’m sure Daddy has many wonderful memories to share with Jack when he is older, Mommy wanted to take this opportunity to pay tribute by sharing a few of her own gleaned from a few family gatherings.
One of the most striking characteristics that sticks with me is the unconditional kindness I observed. Grandpa Hight was immensely affectionate whenever he saw Jack and always, even at his sickest, made sure that Jack was acknowledged and greeted with a big smile and genuine love. I have seen Little Man received in various situations by various family members and adults and only a select few have ever shown such consistent and sincere warmth. For that reason alone, he will always hold an important place in my heart and place of high esteem in my mind.
One of my favorite memories is of Jack running up to Grandpa Hight to tickle his feet or to bring him one of his favorite toy animals. Having made his career dealing in cattle, he was always amused when Jack would toddle up to him to show him his cow or his horse that he playfully referred to as “Old Paint” due to the horse’s coloring. “Whatcha got there?” he would ask, “Is that Old Paint?” to which Jack would nod his head enthusiastically. He didn’t think twice about stopping his conversation with whomever to pay attention to and play with Jack. The mark of a truly wonderful and natural grandfather.
There are many other wonderful memories I could recount, detailing what a fun and loving man he was, most of which are already chronicled in previous posts, but this was the single most heartwarming that Mommy wanted to make sure I imparted because I can’t think of a better way to honor man who meant so much to the people I love.
Loss is always very difficult, regardless of the circumstances, but I will always be forever thankful for the existence of Frank Hight and how he managed to foster a renewed sense of family for those who were open to it and the unconditional love and affection he showed our son. Those are gifts that can never be taken away and will always be treasured.
Today marks only one month until Little Man turns three. It’s amazing how quickly time flies by. It’s amazing how much can happen in what feels like such a short burst of time. Mommy has been updating this blog every week, albeit late as of lately, but in the recounting of life in a week by week format, life doesn’t always seem to sail by. However, when you take into account how quickly all of those days, weeks, months, and years add together, the passage of time seems completely surreal.
This week, Mommy and Daddy celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. Just like it’s hard to believe that our little baby Jack-man will be turning three in just a month, it’s hard to believe that Mommy and Daddy founded this family five years ago. It doesn’t seem nearly that long ago. That’s even taking into account that we’ve been together for over seven years. They say that time flies when you’re having fun and that must be true because the last five years have been the best, most amazing years of Mommy’s life and it all kicked off with a beautiful White Christmas themed wedding five years ago on December 9th.
At that point in time, Mommy and Daddy hadn’t decided on if being a Mommy and a Daddy were in the cards for us. We were having so much fun as a couple that we couldn’t imagine sharing one another with another little being, let alone with another little being that would be as demanding as a child. What we did know was that we had found our best friend, our true love, and the one person we couldn’t live without. Of course, looking back on all of this now, with five years of perspective, it seemed inevitable that out of all that love the decision to have a child would be an obvious one. What can Mommy say, we were a little slow on the uptake, but once the decision was made, we had no doubts it was the right one.
The building of our family, the love we share, the fun we have, the memories we make, they are all experiences that, while shared by so many other families, are uniquely ours. Everything we do has a special spin that we put on it. Mommy and Daddy are not ashamed to say that we’re weird, dorky, and more than a little goofy, but that is who we are and that is the brand of family we’re building. Anything short of that would be disingenuous and just not us. Needless to say, our little Jackson Cooper fits in perfectly and we’re sure our Lil Miss will as well.
Our life is a never ending adventure that may not seem exciting or “normal”, but that’s us and we’re happy. Perhaps the only thing that would make Mommy and Daddy happier is if time would slow down a little bit, but that’s why we do our best to not rush from one thing to another, but to savor each moment as much as possible. So, with five years of marriage and nearly three years of Little Man, here’s to the goofy smiles, the dorky fun, but most importantly, the awesome love that fill our days and make them worth counting.
Jack is finally at an age where he is actively creating memories. He’s also at an age where he can grasp the concept of what holidays are or at least begin anticipating them as they’re explained. This is one of the reasons Mommy and Daddy have been doing our best to make sure this is an amazing holiday season for Little Man. Not only is the first Christmas that he might be able to remember when he’s older, thus potentially setting the stage for his warm fuzzy feelings about Christmas, but this is also the last holiday season that our little family will consist of just Mommy, Daddy, and Jack. If all goes according to plan, Jack will be greeting his new baby sister on December 29th, a day in which our family dynamic will change forever.
So, not only are Mommy and Daddy doing everything in our power to make this a memorable and awesome holiday because we just love Christmas, but also because we want to make sure Jack has an amazing Christmas as well. One of the ways we’ve been doing this is thinking about the great parts of our own childhood holidays and seeing what we can do to incorporate those events into Jack’s Christmas experience. For Daddy, one of the best Christmas memories he has includes the picking out of a real Christmas tree. Unfortunately, Mommy and Daddy haven’t had a real Christmas trees together and it’s been since we were kids that we’ve participated in a Christmas in which a live Christmas tree was even present. So, Daddy had the great idea that we would take Jack to pick out and buy a Christmas tree.
This week, picking out a Christmas tree was our big holiday event for the week. Rather than going to a tree farm, which we thought Jack might be a little to young for yet, we opted for our neighborhood Home Depot. This worked on several levels. First, it’s just aroundt he corner from our house. This is great because if Jack’s mood started to take a turn for the worse, we were only a few minutes from his comfort zone, second, if the tree happened to fall off of the top of the car, Daddy wouldn’t have far to walk it. (Daddy likes to be prepared for such events). Also, Home Depot carries not only trees, but a few other items we needed to pick up. It seemed like the perfect location for our tree purchase.
When we arrived, Little Man was ecstatic! Since his signing vocabulary has been growing leaps and bounds, he was thrilled to be in a store with so many things that he recognized and could comment on. He was also pretty stoked about there being dogs in the store. For some odd reason there were quite a few people visiting Home Depot with their pets, which Jack was more than happy to comment on. As we passed a dog, a door, a toilet, a faucet, anything that he knew the sign for, Jack would squeal with delight and begin to sign what the object was. It was so thrilling for Mommy and Daddy to see.
By the time we reached the trees, Jack was practically in a signing frenzy. Then, he saw the trees, which, because they weren’t in the ground, growing straight and tall, he though they all had “owies” and were “broken”. So, he began to convey these thoughts with his signs. . .
After smelling and touching the various trees, eventually Jack picked out a tree that he liked. He pointed, Daddy inspected, and so went the picking of our first, live, family Christmas tree.
Soon, it was time for Daddy to strap the selected, Jack approved tree, to the top of the car. Jack thought the entire event was thrilling. Mommy and Daddy had a great time because any time Little Man is happy, we’re happy. . . On a side note, it was Mommy’s job on the way home to watch the shadow of the tree while we drove to make sure it wasn’t falling off the car. Fortunately, despite a little shifting, Daddy didn’t have to walk the tree home.
Once we arrived home, Mommy turned on the Christmas music while Daddy hauled in the tree and ornaments. With help from Little Man, soon we had a completely decorated tree in time for us to head out to look at Christmas lights as a family.
Driving around while looking at Christmas lights has always been one of our favorite activities. In fact, it’s one of those things that Mommy and Daddy looked forward to doing with Jack for as long as there has been even the idea of Jack. However, this was the first year that Jack actually seemed to see and register the lights. In years past Mommy and Daddy have often wondered if he understood what we were doing or if he found the activity enjoyable. This year, there’s no question, Jack loves looking at Christmas lights.
As we drove around, listening to Christmas favorites, many of which played and Mommy and Daddy’s wedding and wedding reception, Jack could hardly contain himself. Every time he saw a light display, whether it be elaborate or few strands strung atop a commercial building, he would yell with excitement and point until Mommy or Daddy commented on the lights and acknowledged that, yes, we too, saw these fun lights. This made for a fun, albeit very loud Christmas adventure. To top off the amazing evening, we stopped off at Dairy Queen for some dessert. Jack had his very first, very own soft serve ice cream and Mommy and Daddy had their favorite Blizzards, Oreo for Daddy, and Snickers for Mommy. It probably goes without saying that Jack ate his with great zest and zeal, but then again, a picture is worth a thousand words. . .
By the time Little Man was finished with his ice cream, the treat was all over his face, hands, and shirt. Most of that was a result of him planting himself face first into his cup in an attempt to get as much ice cream as possible as quickly as possible. Thankfully we were headed home to deposit Jack into a nice, warm, and cleansing bath.
It’s moments like these that give Mommy and Daddy new reasons for loving the holidays and being a Mommy and Daddy.
Quick Jack Facts
- Ask anyone, especially Daddy, and you’ll hear that Mommy loves chocolate and I love cookies, although, with the exception of when I’m pregnant, this love comes in moderation. However, other than snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies are one of my favorite cookies. So, it’s no surprise that one of my favorite activities is baking cookies with Jack. He has also inherited my love of chocolate and he certainly loves baking/cooking, and just helping Mommy in general in the kitchen. So, when Mommy has a craving, Jack needs a distraction, or it just sounds like a good idea, Mommy will bust out a quick muffin or cookie mix for us to make together. This week, we made some chocolate chip cookies. The funny thing was that despite Jack’s enthusiasm for the task and obvious anticipation he showed as he waited for the cookies to emerge from the oven, he didn’t care to eat any of the cookies. Granted, he gave it the old college try, but apparently chocolate chip cookies are just not for him. If I weren’t there for his birth, I might have to actually question if he were mine. . .
Holidays in our home are always on the verge of controlled chaos. Between cooking, cleaning, shopping, and wrangling Little Man, it’s a wonder there aren’t more injuries, but this Thanksgiving was amazing, albeit one of us lost a piece of his pinkie in the process (Daddy).
This year Mommy and Daddy opted to host Thanksgiving at our house. With Lil Miss on the way, we’ve really been working on making sure this holiday season is super special for Jack and considering we’re such uber control freaks, Mommy and Daddy thought our place would be best. This of course meant that Daddy had a ton of grocery shopping to do and the house needed to be decorated for Christmas. Yes, yes, Thanksgiving is its very own holiday, but we’re such fans of Christmas around here, we like to have our decorations up for Thanksgiving. Plus, Mommy isn’t a fan of traditional birthday decorations, so, with my birthday falling on or around Thanksgiving every year, it works out nicely.
Over the course of a couple of days, we took our time decking the halls. Jack’s attention span and patience for the activity was fairly limited, he primarily enjoyed emptying the boxes of their contents and refilling them, so it took a lot longer than usual. Plus, we wanted to make sure it was fun. So, with holiday music playing, we began to craft our holiday season. Needless to say, Jack put his own spin on things. A personal favorite of mine was his interpretation of what one does with a cornucopia. . .
Given how incredibly cute he is, Mommy totally prefers this particular interpretation. I think that was his intention the entire time – to get me to give up the idea of a traditional cornucopia display. I’m almost certain he had designs on the plastic fruit and veggies that had resided his hat choice. How can Mommy resist those blue eyes? Jack now has his fake fruit. . .
Thanksgiving was a blast. Since Daddy is the culinary guru who masterfully plans and executes the feast, Little Man and Mommy just spent the day cleaning and spending time together. Occasionally Jack would saunter into the kitchen to catch a glimpse of what Daddy was chopping up or the mad whirlwind of food he was preparing.
The real excitement, however, occurred early on when Daddy was peeling potatoes. Apparently his pinky finger was feeling rather bad about participating in the activity and bravely sought to protect the skin of the Yukon Gold potato in his hand by sacrificing its own tip. Now, doesn’t that sound better than, Daddy is a klutz? I think so, but I digress. . .What resulted following this sacrifice was a lot of blood and band-aid searching, followed by the great antibacterial cream search with the entire event culminating in Jack doing his best to kiss the boo-boo better. In the past, Daddy’s boo-boos have been a point of great interest to Jack. Mommy thinks that is has a lot to do with the fact that Daddy tends to get more boo-boos than Mommy, despite popular family lore claiming Mommy is clumsy, but again, I digress. Whenever Jack sees that Daddy has a boo-boo, his first priority becomes kissing it all better, then “commenting” on the boo-boo for a few minutes. It’s incredibly sweet and cute. In fact, Jack will continue to comment on the boo-boo and look for it days after it has healed and disappeared. This time around, since Daddy has two pinkies, he would occasionally think Daddy was magic and had healed himself when he would mistake the healthy pinkie for the honorable, injured one.
Following the great potato debacle, the rest of dinner went off without a hitch. Daddy, per usual prepared a wonderful feast of a fabulous turkey, green bean casserole, butternut squash, cranberry compote, cream corn, and garlic mashed potatoes. To top off the whole meal were delicious rolls and pumpkin pie. Of course, Little Man’s favorite was the Cool Whip on the pie and the corn and mashed potatoes. Fortunately, the rest of the bunch, Oma, Papa, Aunt Ali, and Carson were more than happy to indulge in the rest. There was still plenty to go around so Daddy, being the thoughtful grandson, took a few plates of food over to his grandpa’s house. All was enjoyed. However, despite the yumminess of everything, Jack stuck with what he liked. . .
The rest of the evening was spent hanging out with family. Mommy had put on Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on in the playroom for the kids, but they seemed more happy to play Scene It with the adults. Cousin Carson was quite proud when he “won” the game. Yes, it wouldn’t be one of our holidays if we didn’t have the combination of great food and family fun. Of course, an added bonus was the laughter that took place following the realization that Aunt Ali has used a dark eye-liner as an eyebrow pencil resulting in a Groucho Marx makeover. . .
The holiday concluded with a visit from Aunt Shayla who was happy to see her little nephew. Jack, who was still riding high from his Cool Whip Thanksgiving, but was not about to turn down Aunt Shayla’s offer to share her slice of cheesecake. She was taking some yummy dessert over to her grandpa’s also. It was certainly a nice way to top off another Thanksgiving, even if Daddy was still missing part of his pinkie. By the time all was said done, Jack was a tuckered out Little Man.
The day following Thanksgiving, often called Black Friday, wasn’t a huge shopping day for us, but it was Mommy’s 29th birthday. I probably would have made more sense for me to turn the big 3-0 on Black Friday, but such is life. The morning started out great with Mommy being allowed to sleep in. After all of the turkey consumed the previous day, Mommy certainly appreciated the snooze session. The rest of the day was spent enjoying the best birthday gift ever, a Kindle Fire. Mommy loves getting neat gadgets, but this particular gadget is by far, my favorite because it does almost everything. Daddy and Jack are so great at picking birthday gifts for Mommy.
While hanging out at home was super awesome, especially when you have a fantastic gift to play with (Jack can certainly attest to this), we decided to head out to Babies R Us to take advantage of the day of deals in order to snag a few items we needed for Lil Miss, i.e. a frog shaped humidifier, bottles, and a baby sling. Jack, of course, enjoyed our trip. He’s always a huge fan of checking out baby items and Babies R Us in general. What made the trip even more special is that Jack has been making the connection between the sign for “baby” and what a baby is, so whenever we passed someone who had a baby or a picture of a baby, he was more than happy to point out and sign that he saw a baby. It was super cute. We finished up our shopping trip, headed out to pick up some sushi for Mommy’s birthday dinner, and headed home. It was a great day spent with my favorite people.
Speech in Progress
One of the fantastic developments in Jack’s speech this week has been his use of the word “no”. Up until now, Jack has pretty much be relegated to saying “ma”, “yeah”, or “yuck” and signing with outbursts of indistinguishable yells or various unique animal/machine noises. However, as if a connection was suddenly made, over the course of a few days, Jack went from saying “Oooh” and shaking his head to saying “no”. The word has now become a mainstay in his vocabulary. While most parents get annoyed with the arrival of this word and its constant use, Mommy and Daddy have been more than excited. Any expansion in Jack’s vocabulary is something to celebrated and thankful for, so its arrival was aptly timed.
Quick Jack Facts
One of Daddy’s favorite toys as a little boy were stuffed dogs. He didn’t have pets growing up, but Daddy has always been an animal person, so he was always happy to have one of his fluffy puppy companions in tow. He loved two in particular so much that he took exceptional care of them so he could give them to his own little boy. However, despite having quite the collection of stuffed animals from both Mommy and Daddy, Jack hasn’t been all too interested in playing with any of them. At least, not until this week.
As is often the case, I was rounding the corner from the kitchen into the living room when I found Little Man doing something new: playing with some of his stuffed animal puppies. He was having them cuddle with each other and even treating them like real puppies, but ones who don’t run off in fear when confronted with extensive fascination and affection. The sight warmed Mommy’s heart and reminded me how much a little Jared our Jack can be. He is so much like his Daddy at times that it fills me with joy and awe because Mommy can’t think of a better man for Jack to be like than his own Daddy.
One of the most challenging aspects of Jack not speaking at the level that his peer group communicates at is that Mommy and Daddy have been in a state of constant confusion as to what goes on in his little mind. From the moments when he completely melts down for unknown reasons to the moments that he exclaims with glee over something that is unseen to us, we are always wanting to know what’s going on in his head. Over the past few weeks we have been granted ever growing access to that which we have longed for. Jack has begun communicating with us beyond just his wants and needs, but he’s been using his signs in full sentences to tell us stories or to draw our attention to things that captivate his interest and imagination. Mommy and Daddy are ecstatic.
For the longest time Jack has been using simple sentences like “Mommy up” or “More milk”, but that was the extent at which he wished to communicate. He didn’t seems very interested in learning signs about people or animals, but mainly about food he wanted to eat or forms of flying technology. Based solely on the signs he was interested in learning and using, one would think that Jack only cared about juice, cookies, airplanes, and rocket ships. Regardless of his lackluster interest, I did my best to encourage the use of signing or speaking for other items.
For example, Jack loves when Mommy draws pictures for him and usually he will tell me what he wants me to draw by pointing at objects, then one day I started using signs and asking him to tell me with his words or signs. He was frustrated at first, but then he began to connect the dots, if he uses the sign for car, Mommy will draw him a picture of a car. Since we seemed to be on a bit of a signing hot streak, I did my best to drag out the activity as long as I could by asking him to tell me what parts of the car I should draw, “Does Jack want Mommy to draw lights on the car?” and then I would sign “lights”. He would begin to nod his head and I encouraged him to use the sign. He would then use the sign and I would ask him, “Should they be big lights or small lights?” and he responded with a sign indicating big lights or small lights. This was a huge breakthrough. It was as if Jack suddenly understood that he could use signs to communicate and the more signs he used, the better the results. Since playing this drawing game, Jack has been on a signing frenzy.
One of Jack’s favorite things to sign about is Daddy. When asked who his favorite person is, he always responds with the sign for Daddy. When Daddy isn’t around, he’ll sign for Daddy and ask where he is. I’ll then respond with the appropriate answer, “Daddy at work”, “Daddy upstairs”, “Daddy downstairs”, Daddy in car”, “Daddy taking a bath”, etc. Now, when Jack asks where Daddy is, he’ll often ask if Daddy is any of those places. He gets so excited when it’s close to lunch time because he knows that Daddy will be home for lunch. So, he will begin to sign, “Daddy” and “eat”. Unfortunately, some days he begins to sign this at ten in the morning and I have to explain to him that it’s not lunch time yet. But Jack is always excited to see his Daddy. The moment he sees him drive up the driveway or walk towards the door, his face lights up, he signs Daddy, yells, and rushes to the door to open it.
Jack has become so adept at unlocking our doors and opening them that we’ve had to install latches where he can’t reach them to keep him from opening the door and rushing out without our knowledge. This inability to open doors at will now has prompted Jack to learn the sign for open and close door. Jack is so ravenous for words that if he needs a sign for something and Mommy can’t come up with it quick enough, he has started making up his own signs. In this instance with the open and closing of the door, Jack knows the ASL sign for “open” and “close”, but he made up his own sign for “door”, which is him pretending to knock on a door.
Most of the signs he comes up with are completely logical and practical. When Jack wants to indicate more than one of an item he simply puts up both of his pointer fingers. If he wants to count something, he puts up both of his pointer fingers and either signs for the object he wants to count or points to object he wants to count. The ASL dictionary doesn’t have a specific sign for yogurt, which is one of Jack’s favorite foods, so to indicate that he wants yogurt, Jack will waive his hand in the air, almost like a cross between the sign for “juice” and the sign for “milk”. When Jack wants to talk about both Mommy and Daddy, he puts his hands up to like a moose as if he’s creating his own plural sign. Some signs are difficult to discern, but for the most part they are easy to understand.
Mommy and Daddy have learned so much in the past few weeks about Jack and how he thinks. The level of nuance he understands is amazing, like the difference between a duck and bird and the difference between the two when signing. We’ve also learned that Jack loves to talk about animals. He loves to talk about lions, monkeys, fish, giraffes, elephants, dogs, sheep, birds, squirrels, ducks, snakes, etc. You name it and if he can see it, he’ll sign it and start telling you a story, like the fish are swimming in the bath or the duck has two eyes. Now that he knows he can communicate, it’s all the he wants to do.
One of his other favorite signs is “play”. Jack loves to ask Mommy and Daddy to play or to read stories. However, as his vocabulary grows, Jack prefers to read the stories to Mommy and Daddy. His favorite book right now is Goodnight Gorilla, which has a wide array of zoo animals and items and actions he can name. So, as we turn the pages, he will tell us how the gorilla is opening up the doors and how the mouse has a banana. Then he will want to count the doors and the lights on a specific pages and mimic the animals sleeping on others. He’ll wave “bye bye” to the animals when it’s time to tell them “goodnight”. Jack loves to read.
It’s amazing what a huge difference it makes to be able to understand what your child wants, needs, and loves. It’s amazing how fulfilling it is to get a glimpse into the mind of our little Jack. It’s simply amazing just to be able to talk with him and have little conversations. We’re still working on getting him to speak with his mouth, but right now, we’re ecstatic just to know what’s going on in his head. Mommy and Daddy look forward to Jack’s vocabulary growing even more, expanding the topics we can chat about, but without a doubt, the best phase that Jack knows, that his signs by making an “L” with his pointer and thumb is “I love you”. Mommy and Daddy have been waiting for nearly three years to hear that phrase and it doesn’t disappoint in the least.