Sep 21, 2008

The Dearest Place on Earth

Last Sunday as we approached the building where we worship, James said what sounded to me like, "tsch-uh-tch." I wasn't positive if he had said church, so I repeated it in the sentence, "Yes, James, we are going to church!" He didn't say it again, so I guessed that was the end of it - he must not have said what I'd thought.

But this morning, as we were getting ready to leave the house, our boy surprised me when he said it again. So I repeated my same sentence from last week. 

Then as we crested the hill near our meeting place before he could see it for sure, James inhaled with an excited sound then waited a moment. As his suspicions were confirmed, he excitedly pointed out the window and said with great confidence, "tsch-uh-tch." 

The sweetest moment, though, came when we were leaving today. The service had ended. We had played on the playground. James was contentedly fastened into his carseat. Suddenly our boy became unhappy as we began to drive away. He started pointing and crying as he said, "tsch-uh-tch, tsch-uh-tch" again and again.

As sad as I was for his disappointment in that moment, I felt immense gratitude to see the happiness our boy relates that place already. What a wonderful gift that he enjoys his class and looks forward to being there each week. (And I know it's not the snacks that draw him - he can't eat the crackers!)

So this is a special Thank You to selfless servants like Emily B, Charles, Lena and others who make Toddlers 2 such a special, welcoming place for a little boy whose heart is being positioned to hear the gospel in the years ahead because of your sacrifice and investment.


Awhile ago, I thought James might be an early talker. He was a babbler and seemed to imitate sounds/words all the time. Perhaps it was wishful thinking on my part. For as he has moved closer to two, his vocabulary has seemed stalled at 8 to 10 consistent words ("da-da" being a catchall when he's told to say anything). So we've pursued some help through our county's infant & toddler program.

We had two interviews in mid-August and early September and then our first official session with a speech pathologist this past Thursday. In our area, you qualify for services if your child is at least 25% delayed in a single development area. James slid in just under the wire. He tested at or above his age (22 months at time of testing) in all areas except expressive speech. His receptive speech and cognition are quite high. But in expressive speech he tested at 16 months.

Our "teacher" - Miss Nancy - said that it is not unusual for boys to be delayed talkers. It takes work, and many of them don't like to work that hard. But ever since our first interview after I asked for tips on how to help James, he's been slowly progressing. Over the past several weeks, he has added the following sounds and words to his vocabulary:
"nay" - horse
"bee-beep" - car
"bah" - sheep
"eee-aww" - donkey
"wack" - what a duck says
"OOOAAARRRR" - lion, tiger and bear
"aaaaeeaaahh" - baby crying

"bae-bee" - baby (referring both to real ones and to dolls)
"duck" - duck
"guck-ck" - milk
"tcheee" - cheese (when the camera comes out + for the food)
"tchees-uh" - Jesus
"tschuh" - shoe
"tsicks" - six
"tsocks" - sock

And this one cracks Ben and me up because he says it so often:
"eh-ih-iz" - there it is (which he says to refer to anything we're looking for, any place he recognizes as we approach it or any person he is wanting to see who has come into his view)

One thing I have to remember to ask the teacher is why he said some things for a time in the past and then stopped saying them altogether. For example, last spring, he would say, "Deh-yi, Det, Doe" and then go down the slide; "dot-it" - dropped it; "goo guck" everytime he saw a school bus - now that's just "guck"; "dah-ti" - Dorothy and a few others.

In the meantime, I am learning a few things about children's speech development. One thing the teacher said is that boys whose parents use more "baby talk" - two word phrases in the sing-song voice - usually can talk more quickly because they have sounds they can easily repeat. But their cognition might be a bit lower overall (they catch up, of course). 

So our "homework" for the next couple of weeks: I am to engage with James in something called "child-directed play" for a couple of 15-minute sessions each day. Basically, during that time, I follow his lead in the play time and use just two-word phrases or sounds as we play without correcting, teaching or asking any questions. Interestingly, Miss Nancy said to limit those play times, because James expects me to use normal language with him - and although he can't repeat much of what I say, he fully understands it, and prefers it.

She said his cognition (which registered in the 96th percentile) is high because I have been reading to him (not just describing pictures on the page), using complete sentences and explaining everything we do. That was very encouraging! But she burst out laughing when I tried to practice the two-word sing-song thing and at one point said, "antlers caught." So the point of that exercise is to use words they can repeat... oh. Haha!

I am so grateful for the blessing that we have this service available to us. And I'm excited to see our boy learn to express himself clearly. May he develop his daddy's ability to speak concisely but not mind his mommy's habit of too many words!

Sep 17, 2008


Our friend, Britt (aka Taluli), just sent us these pictures of our boy enjoying corn on the cob. He does love to eat!

Sep 15, 2008

James' Favorite Things

A few weeks ago, Ben and I bought James a toy.

This is a rather unusual thing.

Because James has so many doting family members, it has not been necessary for us to purchase much of anything for this boy - clothes, shoes, toys. Even our neighbors have passed along clothes and toys.

So when we were out one day and James happened upon a display of various vehicles and accompanying animals/people/etc, I took no small delight in noting how interested he was in them. Ben was in a different part of the store, so I promised James that we would go find Daddy and bring him back to see what he thought about getting one.

James & I wound our way back to Ben. I gave Ben some quick details. Then we asked James to take us back to the display so we could show Daddy.

Instantly our toddler headed straight back to the toy of his dreams. With one tiny detour, he found it.

We set one of each of the four combinations in front of James. He went back to the same one time and again, never wavering from his original choice.

We picked up that box and told him, "We're taking this one home with us, Son." His excitement spread through his whole body. After strapping him into his stroller, we placed the long box in front of him. He sat proudly holding onto his treasure.

Ben and I stood for a moment enjoying our son's pleasure. Tears sprang to my eyes as I felt the pleasure of God in blessing our son and tasted a sip of His joy in delighting us.

Ever since, from the moment James wakes up each morning until the time we put him in his crib at night, our Diddle is either talking about or playing with his "guck" - a truck and horse trailer - that he fills with his various animals.

He lines them up and fits them all in, making the animals sounds as he goes.

Sometimes, he pulls Ben or me down to play with him.

Sometimes he gets frustrated when the animals fall over. (He's learning to ask for help.)

Sometimes he asks to play with his "guck" at the table after breakfast, or to take it in the car with us, or to have it come with him to the potty.

When he heads upstairs to bed at night, wherever he is (whether he can see the truck or not), he starts waving and saying, "guh-gye guck" as we promise that for sure his truck will be here when he wakes up.

Saturday Adventures with Daddy

James loves his "ventures" with Daddy on Saturday mornings. As often as possible, Ben takes our boy out to make memories together.

On more than one occasion, James has "requested" to go see the trains. When Ben asked where he wanted to go that day, James replied, "chooo-chooo!"

Oh the happiness this sight brings our sweet son.

Sep 12, 2008

Ben's "Adopted Family" Reunion

About the time Ben started high school, he & his buddy Steve met and became best friends. They have great stories of all the time they spent together working on cars late at night, riding dirt bikes and snowmobiles, working for other people. They lived life to the fullest. 

Over Labor Day every year, Steve's mom's family has a reunion at the homestead. Ben has attended for a long time. I went once after Ben and I were married. And James & I got to go again this year.

James entered little-boy heaven that weekend.

There were dogs.

There was dirt.

There were trucks (the steel kind that have lasted through decades of hard play by busy boys).

And there was a side-by-side.

On Saturday night, they built a huge bonfire and roasted corn.

The weekend was simply beautiful.

A Saturday Adventure

We started the day at the peach orchard, picking a bushel of juicy, delicious fruit.

We stopped in at our friend's home to do a little upkeep by Ben's tree-stand in preparation for deer season. Daddy & James enjoyed a moment together.

Then we took a long drive to an archery store so Ben could look for bows. James fell asleep clutching the toy his Grammy gave him that morning - a John Deer box filled with six farm animals.

Life is good!

Family Vacation

Ben's mom takes the family on vacation the same week every year. We go to a "rustic camp." Right. It's really more of a resort. The camp provides breakfast and dinner daily and housekeeping of our air conditioned room.

Our responsibility: relax - oh - and keep tabs on our busy boy.

We enjoyed kayaking on the lake; a nature center; a train ride by a river.

James quickly discovered how to dampen the sound of the horn blast.

This year, Ben rented a motorboat. James loved it!

He also loved having his Aunt "Nizzy" around for a week.

And his daddy...One afternoon, it suddenly poured. The children were all set to go out on the boat, but instead they ran around and splashed in the puddles.

At the end of the week , we took a picture of the children by the Indian.

Thank you, Mom, for a memorable vacation!

Sep 11, 2008

A new beginning

To all who have followed me here from Xanga - thank you!

To those who are just joining my little blogosphere journey - welcome!

I am not much of a creative writer. And up to this point, I've mostly used my blog to track the growth & development of our James. Perhaps that will change and some creativity will emerge. But for sure I will be telling the tales of our precious son who brings so much joy to our lives.

Thanks for coming along.