All aboard! Valor is still in love with cars, trucks, trains, and ta-tas—which isn’t what you think…that’s how he says tractor. When we go to Lowe’s he has to go sit on a few of the mowers outside and grab the steering wheels before we can go into the store, where he knows there are several more waiting.
He electrifies us every day with the pace of his learning. He knows tons of words, including ones we never purposefully taught him, he makes the funniest, smartest connections between things we’ve said, and has started forming sentences like “Daddy up” as a request to be picked up, and “Daddy weed” accompanied by a book jammed into John’s leg. Most recently: “Poopie gone” after a toilet flush. How is that for profound communication.
We have been excited for a while about how Valor loves to “weed,” but around 17 months old he shocked me by identifying the first letter in his name as “V.” I was kind of overwhelmed about how to teach him 25 more letters, especially with some of them making multiple sounds, so I asked a couple friends for recommendations. When he turned 18 months we got him the two alphabet tools that they suggested (besides his numerous ABC books) and continued to spend a lot of time looking at books together. The tools were a fridge magnet set (that we keep on our dishwasher since the fridge isn’t magnetic) that says the letters and their sounds (below he is saying the “M” sound), and a video called “The Letter Factory” that is about 30 minutes long and teaches and reviews each letter and sound in a surprisingly interesting way. He watches it about once or twice a week.
Out of curiosity a few days ago I tested him and made a tally of what he knew so far.
Knew Name and Sound: A, B, D, F, J, M, P, T, V, X, Y
Knew Name Only: K, L, Q, R, W
Knew Sound Only: C, H, S
Did Not Know: E, G, I, N, O, U, Z
I was stunned at how much he’d learned in a month. Maybe my informal tally of his ability awakened his competitive streak, because as of yesterday, he has completely learned his alphabet. We were at Lowe’s in the mailbox aisle with all the letter and number stickers, and we went through every letter and sound with him and he got them all! We will try and get a video of that soon. He gets confused if they are printed in a different way, like no crossbars on the “I,” or a “Y” with a curly tail, but he knows them if they are traditional-looking.
I still remember the geneticist telling me that James would never be able to read a book by himself, so maybe that explains the thrill I feel when Valor shouts out letters while looking at his books or points and names letters on signs he sees through the car window. He is so excited about learning language! I even had to explain what an exclamation point was yesterday.
Counting is another interest of Valor’s but is definitely not all there yet as a skill. For a long time the only number he knew was “two.” Now he knows “one” and “three” and can’t remember “two” very often. Counting, for Valor, means pointing to each object while saying, “three, three, three, three!” We gave him some playing cards to work with numbers that way, but he’s learned the letters K, Q, and J from them more than the numbers so far. He almost has the suits down, but he can’t tell the spades aren’t hearts. We’ll have to wait a little to enroll him in any poker tournaments.
The big surprise is how bad he is with colors.
Color Names Valor Can Say:
Blue, Purple, Yellow, White, Red, Green, Black, Brown
Colors Valor Can Correctly Identify:
Maybe it’s his Gjertsen blood, but he thinks every color is blue (his dad and grandfather have a very wide range of acceptance for “Carolina blue,” except they exclude “Duke blue”). So we’re batting zero on colors, but we’re not concerned. After all the work he put in on his letters, I know he’ll get it when he’s interested and ready.
In other news, we had a garage sale with Valor’s grandparents a couple weekends ago. For Valor it was like a party in Nana’s driveway with lots of people coming up to talk to him. He priced himself a few times with stickers, and was pretty seriously undervalued at 25 cents.
The other day I opened the freezer drawer and Valor reached in and grabbed a cube of ice. I told him it was called ice, and that it was cold water. He repeated “ice” and “cold,” and wanted to play with the ice more than I had expected, which was fine because I was in the middle of making lunch. About five minutes later I remembered the ice and figured I should go grab it before it became a puddle, so I went over to his play area and asked him where the ice was. His play-kitchen timer was ticking, and he promptly came around to the play-oven, opened the door, and took out a cup that contained the ice cube. “Hot,” he said. Wow.
While the weather was warm last week we visited the park around the corner. Valor loved climbing the jungle gym stairs, and he preferred climbing back down them to sliding down a slide. The baby swings go really high there, and there are turtles and (gasp) other kids to be seen as well. It’s a good place, and it pure wore Valor out so much that one day he fell asleep in the middle of the floor a couple hours before his normal naptime.
As for me and #4, the pregnancy seems to be going well. I am 16 weeks now and started to feel the baby move about a week and a half ago. This is the point where we lost Dora, our second child, so I am still feeling a little anxiety, or maybe just realism, around this timeframe. I am looking forward to the “big ultrasound” in a couple weeks which should check not only the baby’s life signs but also all the neurological structures to see if #4 has any of James’s brain abnormalities. So stay tuned (and please pray) for those results. Until then, here is the complete set of pics from our 12.5-week ultrasound.
When you ask Valor where Mommy’s baby is, he will either point to his tummy, John’s tummy, or mine. He understands more and more every day, but becoming a big brother is going to be a big transition for him. Something tells me he will relish teaching #4 the alphabet when the time comes, though!