Valor had a great “third Christmas” in Raleigh with John’s family over MLK weekend. Who wouldn’t, being the only kid there and having two grandmothers, a grandfather, and two sets of aunts and uncles? Mom and Dad got a nice break, too, so we all had a good time. We put up a Christmas tree and everything, so it really felt like Christmas. As you can see from the Periodic Table blocks above, the Gjertsens have great expectations for this scion of the family.
We can’t believe it’s been a year and a half since Valor burst into our world, big and wet and hungry with eyes squeezed shut. Now his eyes are always looking, looking, looking as he observes and begins to describe his world. His baby chubs have lengthened into little boy limbs, and he can almost bowl me over when I am sitting on the floor. He has finally grown a respectable head of visible hair, and I even had to trim the back of it in January. It has settled on sandy blonde with a small wave to it, much straighter and lighter than James’. It won’t be much longer before Valor needs his first “professional” cut.
As a big 18-month old boy, the joys in life are many. Chief in his affections are his grandparents and his “Mimis” (a soft blanket and a lamb lovey that he sleeps with). He has named most of the grandparents with special names: “Papa” or “Bapa” for my dad, “Guh-guh” for my mom, and “Mommy” for Grandmommy, John’s mom. “Nana” was easy for him to say, so he got that one first, but “Grandpa Bill” has been the hardest. Sometimes he makes an attempt at all of that and other times just says “Papa.”
A certified Stairmaster, Valor loves to climb stairs and has the quads to prove it, calling both directions “up” and doing a little victory stomp when he gets to the top. He loves to go outside (now that it is warmer) and climb the patio stairs, ride in his wagon, pick up pine cones, point to flowers (he can say “‘ower”), or point hopefully to the neighbor’s riding mower and say “tah-tah” for tractor. One of these days Mr. Joe will let him sit on it, and that day can’t come soon enough for Valor.
Valor knows his shapes. “Star” and “circle” (aka “wheel”) were the first ones he learned, and we can’t drive past a Hardee’s without him observing the star in the logo. He is finally able to work shape sorters and put wooden puzzles together without getting frustrated. The other day he stunned me by pointing and saying, “oval.” He also has a cute rendition of “octagon.”
Valor’s favorite word used to be “wheel,” but now “car” or “car-car” or “oh, car!” have replaced the more generic term. If I had to guess his future occupation at this point based on his interests, he would be a mechanic or a car salesman. “Choo-choo”s are another interest, and “baw” (for ball) continues to rank high on the hit list. Some of my favorite memories from this age will be the words that Valor says incorrectly. He says “dupty” or “dup-dup-dupty” for empty and “nah” for yes (“no” is very emphatic and not usually confused with “nah”). One day in January, I wrote “VALOR” on a piece of paper with his crayons, and he pointed to the first letter and said, “V!” That was the clue I needed to realize that Valor is very interested in his letters, and he is starting to learn them and their sounds. It’s so exciting!
Valor loves, loves, loves being read to, frequently finding a book he likes and thrusting it into the nearest adult leg, demanding “Weed! Weed!” He’s a true Richard Scarry man; I guess he gets it from me, but he also loves Dr. Seuss, books with raised pieces or cut-outs, books with cars or other wheels in them, books with pictures of food, lift-the-flap books, a couple books about Jesus, and all other kinds of non-mushy books. He doesn’t seem to go for the “I love you as much as yada yada” books. I never thought I would be hiding books from my kid, but I confess that a couple that drive me crazy have been tucked into hard-to-see places until I can stand them again.
He also loves eating and continues to be a pretty diverse consumer (a bunch more teeth have expanded his choices as well). He’s opened up his heart (and mouth) to eggs and sausage, pizza and pecans. He has experienced desserts like ice cream, cookies, pies, and cupcakes, and there’s no turning back now that he has tasted this formerly forbidden course. Sometimes the first word Valor says in the morning is “cookie”; it’s never too early to give it a shot, right? He’s curious about tooth brushing, but not too helpful when it’s his turn.
Valor dropped his morning nap at about 16 months and now goes down from about 2-5 in the afternoons, and then sleeps 8:30 pm-7:30 am. He also started running about the same time. A couple times he has run into the street with me chasing after him, yelling for him to stop, because he thinks it’s fun to run away from me. Thankfully God protected him. He’s usually a pretty obedient kid, but for some reason staying out of the street has been a difficult lesson to learn. Maybe because sometimes it’s ok to be on the street, like when he’s in a stroller. The other discipline issue that we thought we’d gotten past was dropping pieces of food on the floor. We spank him consistently when he does it, and talk to him about it, but it just keeps coming back for some reason. Training Valor has been a valuable reminder of God’s gentle discipline and grace toward us when we persistently dishonor Him in ways that hurt ourselves and others.
So what have Mommy and Daddy been up to in their spare time? Well, besides creating some new puzzles which I hope you have enjoyed, John has been working on planning a new furniture arrangement in the living room with surround sound speakers and (eventually) a new TV. We’ve been painting the screen porch the last couple weekends that it’s been warm. John is still leading a Sunday School class on John Piper’s What Jesus Demands from the World (which is a great book and available for free). Abby is leading a women’s Bible study on faith (Believing God by Beth Moore) and editing a really neat Bible study on Jonah with a friend from Orlando (check out the beginning of it here). John’s dad and stepmom (Bill & Betsy) finally moved in, only a half mile away, so now we see them more and even get a few date nights! Last night we went out for a charity ball and Valor didn’t miss us a bit.
So, life with an 18-month-old is full of discoveries, whether it’s me realizing he knows a letter I never deliberately taught him, or him realizing that water pours out of adult-type glasses a lot faster than sippy cups. Never boring, always busy…so thankful for all these things. Thanks for keeping up with the House, in spite of the long silence, and stay tuned because next weekend we will publish the answers to John’s recent puzzles! 😉