Friday, September 28, 2007

He Moo-ed!

Each week, Miss Nicole gives us some homework for speech therapy, and this week's assignment was to read books with animals in them. We are trying to help Tucker identify animals and their sounds, so we've been imitating lots of farm animals this week.

Tonight, Tucker said "Moo" for the cow (although it sounded more like the "vroom" of a car, but like I've said before: we'll take it!) and "Baa-baa" for the sheep!

Fan Since Birth

A member of the Mickey Mouse Club

Tucker LOVES Mickey Mouse.

He happened onto this giant Mickey at our neighborhood library, and he just had no choice but to climb into his lap and hug that big ol' mouse.

Encouragement, from Mom to Mom

Tucker was really trying my patience today. He is really very masterful with a fork and spoon; so much so, that he has now decided to get creative with them.

When he eats with his spoon, he has begun to turn it upside down just before he puts it in his mouth. As you would expect, the pudding, applesauce, or yogurt spills right off the spoon and down the front of him, onto the table and his lap. It hardly matters that he's wearing a bib.

I was going through multiple napkins, cleaning this up again and again. I took the spoon away and modeled how to use it, although he already knows. He took a few bites the right way, but before very long at all, he was back to flipping it over, and I was back to cleaning it up.

Feeling very exasperated, I said to my mom, "Would you please pray and ask God to give me more patience than I have?"

"Yes," she said, "but let me just tell you from experience that if He doesn't, you're still a good mom."

Empathy... at age two?

A most surprising thing happened last night, during Tucker's bedtime routine.

Tucker and I read a bedtime book each night as he climbs into bed, and last night he chose the such a sweet story: Love You Forever. He is just beginning to enjoy stories (rather than board books without a plot), and last night was the first time he chose this particular book. I had not read this one to him before, although it's one of my favorites.

If you haven't read the book, here's the basic premise: the story begins with a young mom and her baby boy, and she is rocking him to sleep as she sings,

I love you forever,
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.

The story follows the boy through all the stages of his life - at age two, age nine, a teenager, and a married man, and his mother sings that song to him again and again. Finally, at the end of the story, the mother talks to her son on the phone, and she tries to sing the song to him once more, but she is too old and sick to finish it. Her son gets in his car, drives across town, and sings to his mother,

I love you forever,
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living,
My mother you'll be.

Then he gets back in his car, drives back to his home, and sings the song to his own little girl, "As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."

It's a very sweet story about the passage of time and the bond between parent and child. I knew I would enjoy reading it to my sons. I like singing that song to them, and I expected that it would be special to read the story to them, even before they can understand the bigger meaning in the story.

So here's the surprising part:

Tucker cried.

When I got to the part where the mother is an old woman, and we looked at the picture of the grandma and her son, he whimpered, his eyes filled with tears, and one fell right down his cheek. He cried.

I thought for sure he was crying for another reason - perhaps something was hurting him inside his jammies, or maybe he didn't want to go to bed yet. But I know his cries, and this was a sad cry. When we finished the book, he signed more, asking me to read the book again.

He listened again as I read the story, and again when we got to the part about the sick, old woman, he cried.

We finished the book, and again he signed more, asking to hear it one more time. Normally I wouldn't agree to a third bedtime story, but I just had to test my theory: was he really crying over the sad part in the story?

Sure enough, the same thing happened the third time through the book. My two-year-old son cried, at exactly the same spot.

I couldn't put him to bed on such a sad note, so we finished up with a happier story... it was a literary marathon in his bedroom, by the time we were finished.

I am still really astounded by this experience with Tucker... is this really empathy? Is he truly sad on behalf of characters in a story, even though he just turned two? I think so. I read the story three times, with the same result each time.

Could this be a glimpse of the boy and man he will become: tenderhearted, empathetic, sweet spirited?

It was truly something to watch, and an even greater something to learn.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gotta love a good day at the playground!

The Nanny Diaries

For the record: the book was better than the movie, I thought.

They took lots of liberties in making the movie; they even went so far as to change the entire ending. In retrospect, while there were some very funny parts to the book, it's not a funny story, overall. It's actually a very sad story, mostly because it's true.

The movie was fine, but the book was much better.

If you're trying to decide which one to dive into, I vote for the book. Hands down.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tucker's Language Update

Two breakthroughs this week:

Tucker has begun putting two signs together: More juice. More crackers. More Mickey Mouse. More, please. What an important step in this process! No new words yet, but he is becoming much more creative with his babbling and noise-making, and he's really becoming a pro at sign language.


For the first time ever, Tucker said "Da-Da" to call Robb. They were sitting at the dinner table, and Tucker started rattling it off... "Da. Da-da. Da-da-da-da. Da." Robb looked up, thinking Tuck was just babbling, only to be surprised to see Tucker trying to get his attention, since he had finished eating. He called his Daddy's name!

Labor... in one way or another.

No baby has come into the world without pain to his mother. Not one. Becoming a parent is a painful process, although the pain is different for each mom.

I have never been in labor, since both of my boys entered the world through the miracle science of C-sections. So I have never felt a contraction, never had to push the proverbial watermelon through a garden hose. But I did have the recovery of abdominal surgery, the pain of that incision for the days following their births; the pain that kept me from sitting up, standing, or walking on my own. It was worth it, but it was not without pain.

I also have grieved the loss of two babies as I prayed and waited for the two sons the Lord would allow me to hold in my arms. My boys are cherished beyond words, and I struggled to overcome worry and fear through much of my pregnancies, so afraid I would lose them, too. When I finally saw them, face to face, I rejoiced that I no longer needed to worry that I would miscarry...they were here. There are moments when I still cry over the children I lost before I ever really had them. It is a journey that is part of my story, one that I wouldn't change, but it is not without pain, even today.

My cousin, Stephanie, just became the mother of two little boys: Cameron and Philip. These sweet boys were officially adopted into our family this weekend, and our family is rejoicing all over the country to know they belong to us. Stephanie did not get to carry the boys inside her, although they grew in her heart. She did not go into labor, but she and her husband labored emotionally for months as they waited to be chosen as adoptive parents, waited to meet their sons, waited to claim them forever. Metaphorically speaking, she has been pregnant for far longer than nine months, from the day she tossed her name into the adoption pool, until the moment the judge slammed down the gavel, finalizing it all. She has waited and waited, wanting to be a mom, and not without pain.

I have a dear friend who has been trying with her husband for many, many months to give their daughter a sibling. Although my friend is a great proponent of epidurals and the miracle of drugs to assist in bringing children into the world, her journey is not without pain... every month that she learns again that she is not yet pregnant, the pain is real and vivid, ripping her in two once more. I am prayerful that the Lord will bless their family with another child, and I hope that baby will know how desperately his parents wanted him (or her). This child will be welcomed, rejoiced over, and deeply loved... but not without pain.

Someone wise said, "We never truly know the love our parents feel for us, until we become parents ourselves."

Perhaps this is true of pain, as well.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Not just "Tucker and Tyler"...

I think it's fun to think of nicknames.

It's a tremendous responsibility to give someone his official name, what will be on the birth certificate, what he will forever answer to, what must grow with him every step of the way: through toddlerhood, elementary years, high school, college, and his professional life.

Good parents don't want their child to have a horrible name, one that forever seems to old for him, or one that he can never outgrow because it's too cute and only good for addressing a little boy.

Seriously, it's a lot to think about.

But once that decision is made, once the name is chosen, then it's just fun. What else do we want to call him? I have so many nicknames for my boys - one for everyday of the week, at least.

I remember when that first occurred to me, about Tucker: I can call him anything I want! He isn't born with any nicknames, but I get to give them to him. That's fun. His most obvious one is Tuck, but we also often call him "T."

I'm trying out a few with Tyler, just to see if they work. Ty is his most obvious one, and that's one that lots of people can and will call him. But I'm also toying with a few others that might just be ours, the name his mom calls him, the name that will always make him think of me.

It's really kind of fun.

Tyler Jay

One of the things I love most about Tyler is that he smiles so easily. Tuck has always been a happy little man, and he has always smiled easily... but it's even easier to get a grin from Ty. He literally wakes up smiling. I love it.

Here's a video of those sweet smiles... he is just a cutie. You have to admit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Love of My Life

"To be married to a man who makes you laugh everyday, ah, now that's a real treat!"

~Joanne Woodward

This Too Shall Pass... really?

I really love having two little men, but somedays, it's just hard. Sometimes, I'm just tired. Somedays I am running dangerously low on patience before we even arrive at the breakfast table.

For example, right now, both boys have decided to politely decline their afternoon naps today, as if I offered them an option. For about an hour, Tucker has been tossing things out of his bedroom... books, shoes, and finally a framed picture of himself. Tyler is screaming his little head off, just sure that he'll spend the rest of his days inside the confines of that blasted crib.

What I really want most is to enjoy a nap of my own. Not a long one, but just a 20-minute "power nap" to refuel for the rest of the day. It's not looking like that's going to happen today.

We should have a lifetime punch card for naps, and we should be allowed to trade them with other people. If Tucker doesn't want to take a nap today, then I should get to take one for him. Or maybe he should get to deposit it in the Nap Bank, to be redeemed when he's a father of preschoolers and would give anything to rest for two glorious hours.

Seriously, I am really tired.

I had lunch with two of my closest friends today, and we ate Chinese food. My fortune cookie was most promising:

Any troubles you may have will pass very shortly.

Okay. Good reminder. And that's why I created this blog, because I know these days are numbered and precious, even when they are maddening and exhausting.

But maybe this particular episode could pass sooner than later, and everyone in my home can take a nap. That would be great. Really great.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tucker's Journey to Language

Tucker has Expressive Speech Delay, which means that he understands what we say to him, but when he wants to respond, words do not come to his mind as they do for other children.

He has qualified for speech therapy, which happens every week in our home. Every Wednesday morning, Miss Nicole comes with her bag of tricks, and she plays with Tucker for an hour. His therapy is completely play-based, and he is having so much fun that he doesn't even realize how much he is learning!

Miss Nicole is an expert in her field, and I am honored and most fortunate that she is becoming an expert on my son.

He has finished two weeks of speech therapy, and we are already seeing great strides!
Tucker picked up on sign language so quickly. We had tried it before with him, but he was reluctant to use the signs we taught him. Actually, we thought he was reluctant; we now know that this was another piece of his language delay; he was absorbing the signs and their meanings, but he could not use them to communicate. We finally dropped it, in hopes that he would use words instead, but we have learned that sign language will bridge the gap for him. Signing will lower his frustration level, since he'll now have another avenue for communication until he can use words.

In just a matter of days, he has picked up the following signs: please, thank you, more, all done, eat, cracker, banana, fruit bar, drink, bubbles, Mickey Mouse, and down. There are several others that he imitates when he sees me sign to him, but those are the ones he has taken in and signs independently. It is such fun to watch him growing in his communication skills, and after all this time, it is a relief to know what he's really thinking about and asking.

He has even started using a few words! He now says: Dada, Mama (although it comes out in various forms... me-me, me-mah, ma... but I'll take it!), and baby. He knows all the people in his family.

Just yesterday, he was standing in the kitchen, perusing the pantry, and honing in on the shelf where I keep his bubbles. He stared at them, looked and looked, and then he softly said, "Bub-bo. Bub-bo."

I looked at Robb, pointed to Tucker and said, "Did you hear that??"

Tucker continued, seemingly trying out these sounds. "Bub-bo. Bub-bo." Then he looked at me, and a sweet smile crossed his face. He signed bubbles, and used the word at the same time! "Bub-bo!"

As you might imagine, we dropped everything, grabbed a bottle of bubbles, and headed outside.

The boy wanted to blow some bubbles!

Many of my friends who are mothers have said that there will undoubtedly come a time when I will wish he would just give me a break and please stop talking. I'm sure that's true, and indeed that day will come. But I do hope, in that moment, that I will look back on all of these days, weeks, and months when I wished he could let me hear his sweet voice... and I hope I'll be patient and listen instead.


One of the greatest joys of having two sons has been to witness the birth of a brotherhood, from its very beginning.

A High Calling

"[Parents'] assignment during two brief decades will be to transform their boys from immature and flighty youngsters into honest, caring men who will be respectful of women, loyal and faithful in marriage, keepers of commitments, strong and decisive leaders, good workers, and secure in their masculinity. And of course, the ultimate goal for people of faith is to give each child an understanding of Scripture and a ifelong passion for Jesus Christ. This, I believe, is the most important responsibility for those of us who have been entrusted with the care and nurturance of children."

~ Dr. James Dobson, Bringing Up Boys

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Let's give it a shot...

Okay. You got me. Here I am. I have officially become a Blogger. I am told this is both an exciting and addicting hobby, and I am ready to give it a shot.

Why, you might ask? Well, there are many reasons.

At my very core, I am two things: a teacher and a writer.

I must write. That's all there is to it. It's like an itch I have to scratch - there is no ignoring it. I believe this will be my outlet, and I will write as often as I can about as much as I choose, letting the writer in me run free.

I am also a teacher. It is not just an occupation to me... it is part of who I am. I taught full-time in an elementary classroom before my children were born, and now I my classroom is my home. I spend my days teaching my two little boys, which is how I came to name the blog: Teaching Tuck and Ty. There is so much happening in my life everyday that is, at the very least, worth reflecting upon, to see what I can learn about myself, my boys, or my life. I know the value of journaling to immortalize moments, document events, and to sort through emotions, but I am not so committed to my writing unless I have an audience.

That's where you come in, my friends and family all over the country. This blog will allow me to do many things at once:

  • It will serve as my outlet to write - this will be my journal to reflect on the many somethings that make up my day as a stay-at-home Mom.
  • It will enable me to keep you updated on the curious and (sometimes hilarious) developments of Tucker and Tyler.
  • It will encourage me to write down the things that I otherwise might have forgotten, and believe me: these days are with my little men are priceless. I don't want to let them go, and this will help me keep them forever.
  • It will... well, who knows what else? The possibilities are endless, and I am so excited to get started.

Feel free to drop in now and then, and I will hope to engage you in something new that's on my mind. Join me, will you?