Wednesday, April 30, 2008
He looked at his grandma and said, "Mommy? Where go?"
She explained that I was on my way to the table. Tucker responded by looking around the restaurant, calling, "Trish! Trish! Trish!"
Once he saw me, he shouted, "Trish! EAT!"
Interesting. After all this time of just waiting for him to speak, I have suddenly found myself in the place of deciding exactly what he is allowed to say.
For the record, he'll need to call me Mommy.
Monday, April 28, 2008
People in graduate school
Mom's Day Out
Adult Lunch Dates
I could think of more, but really, those are just the most pressing things that popped into my mind.... or rather, the few things that won't leave. Some of them are attainable; some of them are not.
I try not to get too caught up in it... since the reasons I do not presently have my hands on any of these wishes are sleeping soundly in their beds. And I remind myself that many, many, many people probably covet the very life I have, albeit filled with smashed Cheerios, runny noses, and midnight interruptions. And I remind myself that the same day filled with those things is also a day filled with touchy-feely board books, ooey-gooey kisses, splashes and giggles in the bathtub, and "I-Yuh-You Mommy."
There will come a time, I believe in faith, when will hold within my hands each of the items on the list above. But for now, I am operating from a different list. And I must live in these moments and the days, even when they are long and exhausting.
Note to self: This is a season to embrace, not simply one to endure.
Please remind me of that very phrase when I appear to feel otherwise.
Actually, please don't. Sometimes, in my worst moments, it just wouldn't help me gain perspective.
But peeking in on a sleeping little boy at the end of the day, or hearing him say Amen at the end of his bedtime prayer, or listening to my boys laugh at one another and knowing they don't know life without a brother, or watching my children share a toy in a moment of mutual generosity...
Now that's perspective.
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everythign through him who gives me strength."
~ Philippians 4:11-13
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
In the last five days, a light has turned on his little mind. He got it. He is talking. He is saying words I have not practiced with him, things I have only modeled in our daily conversation. He is talking in full sentences. He doesn't need to repeat after me; he is choosing his own words, and he is putting them together to communicate his thoughts.
(I realize it seems like there should be more exclamation points in that paragraph, but if I included as many as I want to, it would seem like I am shouting at you. I assure you: in my heart, there are more exclamation points than I can count, and my spirit is indeed shouting - for joy!)
Allow me to tell you some of the many things I have heard from my sweet little boy, over the last five days.
As we walked through a park, a cyclist came along. Tucker shouted, "Oh, hi, bike!"
"Tuck, which fruit bar do you want for breakfast, red or green?"
"No, no yed. Bye, yed." He was waving goodbye to the fruit bar he did not want. That's some pretty good deductive reasoning, right there. (Green is a harder word for him, but I wanted to hear it.)
"Not red? Then what color?"
He thought and thought. "Eeeen."
You got it, kiddo.
He was looking for his favorite book at my parents' house: The Pokey Little Puppy. He said again and again, "Woof! Woof! Woof!" And finally, "Woof, where are you??"
After he got dressed this morning, he barreled down the hall and then turned to me and said, "I ran." :o)
This morning, I wanted to practice some colors with him. As I pointed to the numbers on his breakfast placemat, I said, "What color is that?"
"Yes, it is the number one. And it's purple."
I pointed to the two. "What color is this?"
I decided to abandon the colors and see how far we could get with numbers instead.
Are you ready for this??
Without prompting, he said each number as I pointed to it:
"One, two, fee, ore, fice, ick, enn, ate, nine, TEN!"
He shouted the number at the end of the list he has heard for months; apparently, he has been counting along in his head all this time.
It was a grand finale, covered with hugs and kisses, and even my own teary eyes.
Before I left for work on Wednesday afternoon, I kissed each of my boys and said goodbye. Tucker said, "Bye, Mommy. I-yuh-you."
That's I love you. He told me he loves me.
That precious sound is permanently etched into my audible memory... I will never forget it.
One of my personal favorites:
My son is talking. God has been listening to the cries of my heart; he has given my son words!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Oh my goodness. Please tell me my son is not shouting this word. And yet, there was no denying it. He continued, louder, and more emphatically. It's a funny one - I'll give him that. But the whole language delay has allowed me to postpone such conversations with him.
I grabbed the video phone... I was embarrassed, but it was also very funny, and thereby worth documenting. It's not the best video, and you have to listen quick... but it's funny.
I finally deduced: he wants to ride in a cart that is a racecar, particularly the blue one. His word for car is bee (because they say Beep, but he drops the P), and he wanted the blue one.
Boobie = Blue Beep = Blue Car.
Sadly, and to my embarrassment, nobody else in the store knew that. All they could hear was this new word. And a favorite, it appears to be.
On another note, and yet in the same chapter of this book, he has learned the word fork. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like fork. It sounds like another four-letter word that begins with f.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
It's a great salad recipe, compliments of my old friend from our Young Married days, Amy. It's complete with romaine and iceburg lettuce, green onions (which I promptly remove every time since my husband despises anything with the O-word), mandarin oranges, homemade candied almonds, and a delicious dressing to top it all.
It's a killer salad. It's a great take-along, and it's a winner every time.
Okay, not every time. Not so much today. Truth be told, I really have a hard time making this salad well... the almonds get me every time. But when I get it right, it's pretty phenomenal. I was banking on the phenomenal part.
I followed the recipe closely, and I put the almonds in the microwave for their 5-6 minute marinade in butter and sugar. (I know... your mouth is watering. It's so good.) I stirred frequently, as directed, and I was so pleased I hadn't burned them, since that's usually the culprit. Except then, I took them out of the microwave...but I didn't hold the bowl carefully or give due respect to the heat of a bowl that contains boiling sugar and butter.
Despite my best efforts, the bowl came crashing to the ground, spilling those delectable almonds all over my kitchen rug. Let me tell you: there is simply nothing stickier than candied almonds that have not yet cooled.
So, now I'm in the market for a new kitchen rug.
But never fear, I had the ingredients to start again. This time, I got distracted by someone's two-year-old (Okay, okay... mine. It was my two-year-old.) practicing his tumbling routine on the couch. He was jumping, landing on his bottom, and perfecting the jump back on to his feet. He got the warning, then he got the smirk on his face, and then he had the audacity to try it again before I even left the room. Um, okay. Game on, Mister.
(Have I mentioned that my heart breaks every single time I have to spank my child??)
When I got back into the kitchen after that whole scene, my almonds were not in good shape. Burned BLACK. More carefully than before, and in an desperate effort to avoid third degree burns, I took them out of the microwave and poured them into a plastic disposable cup... which crumbled and contorted from the heat and pressure of those blasted almonds.
Determined to make this work, I cooled the first-batch almonds that had not fallen on the floor, and I set about making the dressing. It's yummy. For real.
The day was not lost. Finally, my salad was good to go, all the ingredients were packed in separate containers to be tossed together just before serving, Robb was home from work, and the boys were ready to travel.
We journeyed nearly into the mountains to join our friends whom we love so much... and it's a good thing they love us, too. Because we arrived nearly empty-handed. A bump in the road just after we left the house caused the dressing (although seemingly well contained in an airtight something) to topple over and fill the back of the CR-V.
Our car smells like vinegar. FYI: apple cider vinegar is not a great plan for a car air freshener.
So, we arrived with a bowl of lettuce, some mandarin oranges, and a measly amount of candied almonds. Oh, and a bag saturated with dressing.
Thus the question: why do I try? Why, oh why, do I try?
Because I like to love people in practical, tangible ways, even if I end up showing less than my best side in the end. That's why. And I'll probably try it again someday soon. Some days are better than others. This was one of those OTHER days.
Oh, and on a sidenote: turns out Robb hates this salad. Good to keep in mind.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
He loves the Frog Slide. You can almost see him in his giant splash.
Tyler was equal to the challenge of this giant bath tub, and I really had to work to keep my hands on him. He was not hindered by his inability to walk or swim... he was ready to splash.
I love playing with my boys. I absolutely love it.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Tyler is very, very mobile now - not quite on two feet yet, but giving me a run for my money, nonetheless.
He is my fearless climber. At least once a day, he falls from something - a chair, a couple steps, a push toy, really anything that gives him greater height. He is always on the go, typically to higher altitudes.
Here, I found him using this toy in a far different way than its engineers intended. He has pulled the doors off the front and climbed on, in an effort to vault himself over the top, onto Molly's dog pillow. You'll notice, no part of his body is touching the ground. That's how he likes it.
His other favorite trick? Climbing and crawling through the ExerSaucer, with toys in his mouth until he can walk on two feet, hands-free. Until then, the six teeth in his mouth are highly helpful in carrying Fisher Price toys to his destination.
In the meantime, while Tyler was making great strides in the living room, I should have noticed that things were a little too quiet.
Tucker was busy too.
This is where I found him, spooling toilet paper into the toilet, as fast as he could.
And the look on his face says it all: "What? Is there a problem??"
Today has been a doozy.
Tucker is an expert in sign language, and he is having fun teaching his brother the ropes. He loves to teach Tyler knew words and signs, since Ty seems to be the only one who isn't better at it than Tucker.
Here is the interaction that took place at the breakfast table yesterday.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I loved getting to know my students, their favorite things, their strengths and weaknesses, their families, their pets, their plans for the future, their learning styles. I loved it.
I have always loved talking with my students. There are few things more precious than receiving a child's trust, so that he wants to tell you about his day, his dream last night, his loose tooth, his every thought. (Truly, one of my greatest classroom management challenges was learning how to balance their every thought against the curriculum demands.)
When I taught third grade, each of my students moved into my heart in his or her own way... there is nothing like that first year of teaching, that first class roster, that first crew to baptize a new teacher into all there is to running a classroom. I loved each and every one of them, and I still miss them sometimes. We had a great community in that classroom - all of us.
My heart belonged especially to two little boys in my third grade class. They needed me to be their teacher that year. Our relationship was ordained, meant to be, for those nine months and beyond. They needed someone to love them, believe in them, and hold them accountable to what they were really capable of. We did great things together, those boys and me.
One of them was L, who made some major transformations in character and maturity. I studied up on The Strong Willed Child, and he and I battled day in and day out for a good number of weeks... until he learned that I mean what I say, he can feel safe in this environment, and he could trust me. After that, we were inseparable. We paced the playground together so he could calm down from a potential meltdown. I talked him out from under the picnic table on the playground, when he wore his pajamas to school on the wrong day. We did our own book studies together, since his reading level and sense of humor often far surpassed the curriculum. We were quite a team. At the end of the year, he wrote me a letter that I will never lose or forget.
It was a turning point for him. In fact, his fourth grade teachers attributed much of his success to many of the battles L and I fought together. I could write a book on my experiences with him that year, and someday I will. Truly.
And then there was my other buddy, C. We were also quite a team, but in a very different, very loving, much easier way. Simply, I understood him. When I met with his parents early in the school year to talk about his progress, his mom said through tears, "You like my son. You really like my son."
As a mother now, I really get that. His second grade teacher hadn't been his biggest fan, and this little guy just needed somebody to like him. I sure did. A lot. He knew how to wink, and that was our nonverbal exchange in the classroom. That was my way of complimenting him on great behavior and good work, and it was his way of saying hello to me, anytime he wanted to. He was a great kid.
At the end of the school year, C's family moved to Australia. Now, that's a move. His dad was native to Australia, and their love for ministry took them to another continent. As C geared up for the move, we had many talks and read some good books together - not the least of which was Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Because, if you'll recall, Alexander wishes to escape from it all with a move to Australia.
Before C and his family moved away, my buddy and I had an ice cream date. I prepared to start a new school year, with a whole new classroom and roster of children who would steal my heart in their own way. One day before the new year started, I took a break from my classroom to have ice cream with my now-fourth-grade friend. I drove, he rode in the backseat, and we went to Coldstone Creamery. We had ice cream sundaes, and we played Crazy Eights. It was unforgettable. Just before we got in the car, his mom said, "Make sure you let him pay. This is very important to him." I let him.
I just got a letter from C. He has lived in Australia for four years now, and he is gearing up for a ministry trip to Africa this summer. He is now a young man, a very skilled writer, and a believing Christian on a mission to change the world for the Lord. And I got to be his third grade teacher. The whole idea is pretty overwhelming and humbling.
I don't write any of this to give myself a pat on the back... this isn't about me. It's bigger than me. It's just my written proof that this is what I was meant to do. This is what can happen when a teacher strives to love her students with the love of God, to show them that there are no conditions in this classroom, they are safe, they are loved, and they can do this.
As a teacher in a secular classroom, I was most encouraged by families who knew the Lord, whose children were bright lights in a dark world. But I was also encouraged to think that someday, my students who didn't yet know the Lord would one day find Him... and maybe they would look back on their experience in my classroom and think, "I bet she knew the Lord, too. She just had to."
As I've often written, my home is my classroom now; my boys are my students. And I delight in studying them, learning them, and talking with them, someday.
And someday, when they don't need as much from me in such a physical, tangible, all-day-everyday way, I'll get back into that classroom.
It's where I'm meant to be - loving kids in little ways that mean everything.
Monday, April 7, 2008
During a very fun picnic lunch at the park, the groundsworker began painting the new fence around the playground. At the sight of the paint gun, other moms began packing up their children, calling it a day. One mom even said to me, "Ma'am, he suggested we take our children home, since the fumes might get a little strong."
Well, I was having such fun in the sunshine, playing with my children, feasting on a delicious menu (I'm a hard core picnic packer), and enjoying the company around me. So what did I do? Not a thing. We didn't go home.
In fact, I heard myself say, "Tuck, hold your breath when you play over there. Have fun, buddy."
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Tucker is Anti C. He will not say a word that has the hard C sound in it. We have really focused on that sound and words that contain it recently, and I his language acquisition is at a standstill from the pressure of the sound he cannot make. If he wants to communicate something that requires that sound, he thinks of a synonym to send the same message.
He says Beep, instead of car.
He says Bob, but he won't say Mickey. (An equal favorite.)
He says Ty, but he won't say Tuck.
He will not say cookie or cracker. He signs them instead.
For any liquids, he says juice. He will not say milk, drink, or cup.
He says bus, but he won't say truck.
Truly, it is as if he hears that sound and thinks, No, I don't make that sound. A year ago, he wasn't talking at all, because he knew he couldn't do it; he wouldn't try unless he knew he could do it. And now here we are, many months later, seeing the same issue manifest itself in a different way. If it contains the k sound, he will not say it.
So, we decided to stop pushing him on that one.
I'll keep modeling, and eventually it will come. Nicole says the hard c sound is tricky for most kids, and many don't get it until they are over three years old. Since he has only recently started talking, it's no surprise that this sound may be a little slow in coming.
Instead, we'll focus on body parts this week. We'll work on adding words with the sounds he is good at: m, n, s, t, b, and p. He needs a confidence boost, so no more with the C.
I think it's interesting that he is so sure of what he can and cannot do. Perhaps we will look back on this in years to come and see it as an early indication of his preferences and learning style.
If you haven't seen me recently, then you may be interested to know that I have lost 54 pounds. I have gone from a size 14 to a size 4. That's a dramatic change.
I'm a new creation, in many ways. Or at least I feel like one.
Of their own volition, several very separate people have made the following comments to me recently:
"How old is Tricia... only 28? I would have guessed her to be in her mid to late thirties. She could dress a little younger."
"You dress like a kindergarten teacher all the time."
"You are dressing like you did 50 pounds ago. You have a little tiny figure now, and you should show it off."
"Have you watched What Not To Wear? They could give you some good tips on how to update this look of yours."
I know this sounds potentially hurtful and perhaps a little too forthright. But each comment came with gentleness, and my heart was ready to receive it. They're right: it's time for a change.
I have realized recently, in a very intimate personal journey, that I often allow myself to make choices that fit into the stereotype and the assumptions that many people make about me: that I am two-dimensional, a Betty Crocker homemaker, ultra conservative, totally wrapped up in my family and not open to outside relationships. Some of this can be true of me sometimes - but I assure you, I am bigger than this, deeper than this, in pursuit of more than this.
True: I deeply love my husband and my children, and I am competely, fully devoted to meeting their needs before others'. At any given moment, the people I want to be with most are the three men who live in my house. I love that role. I love making my home a safe place for my family and guests in our home, but this task does not consume me.
Also true: There are deep dimensions to my thoughts and my heart that you probably wouldn't realize or imagine, since I just don't always fit the kindergarten-teacher-MOPS mentality.
Yet, sometimes it is easier to make outward decisions that fit that mold, since so many people believe all of that to be true about me.
Do I define the assumptions, or do they define me?
I realized... I love the trendy, chic look that other people claim for their homes and their appearance. Yet somehow, I have convinced myself along the way that I cannot really pull it off. So I have purchased inexpensive things that seemed versatile to work for everything... but I have sometimes ended up with cheap items that don't work for anything.
I don't want a whole new look. But I want to sharpen and freshen mine. And for goodness sake, I need to wear clothes that fit and suit the smaller me.
Stay tuned. Changes are coming.