With so much time and energy spent on homeschooling and Itty and Bitty, we’ve gone far too long without a regular family update. For all of you hoping to see Valor decked out as a ceiling fan for Halloween (one of his early suggestions), I have to disappoint you and say that, to our relief, he decided to be Alpha Pig from Super Why! about two weeks before Halloween. Here’s a pic if you don’t spend much time taking in PBS Kids shows:
So that was pretty easy to pull off. A few parents-of-young-kids-types even recognized him. John took him trick-or-treating with a pumpkin basket in one hand and a hammer in the other, and observed about halfway through that miraculously no property damage had been done. Percy inherited the amazing dragon costume that my mom made for Valor, and he totally owned it, unphased by the trailing equipage as he stomped around the house saying, “rahr.”
Valor is getting to be quite a big boy. I can’t remember whether I wrote yet that he quit sucking his thumb around the beginning of the school year (thank You, Jesus…and Mavala Stop). He’s going through a clumsy phase and hurts himself, usually falling over nothing, what seems like ten times a day. About the time Valor stopped sucking his thumb, he was dancing and fell in the middle of the floor and knocked a tooth loose. It firmed back up but after a few weeks it turned darker. This was about two weeks after we noticed that Percy had chipped his two middle upper teeth (didn’t notice it when it happened; we are great parents). So, yeah, no beauty pageants until the adult teeth come in…but they are still beautiful to us.
Percy dropped his morning nap at about 13.5 months, and Valor dropped his afternoon nap soon after that, when he turned 4. For a couple weeks I fought very hard against the idea of giving up the nap. He had been taking solid 2-3 hour naps every afternoon since he was a baby, and I treasured the quiet time. We spent a while with him taking reluctant, but solid, afternoon naps and then not being sleepy at night. We were disciplining him for “popping out” over and over after being tucked in at night, and it seemed like no matter what we imposed, he could not help coming back out of his room to chat about anything at all. Finally I had to apologize to him and accept that he no longer needed his nap.
Thankfully, that realization on my part eliminated a big disciplinary area, but created a new one for me: I no longer have time alone during the day. Valor is not used to playing alone, without an audience to pepper with questions and chatter. This (as I will eventually post about) was a major fear for me with homeschooling…I need some alone time. While John is home I prioritize spending time with him, and when the kids are awake I spend time with them, but I need a time to do major cleaning projects, creative projects, writing and editing (and blogging!), and just time to think. A lot of this is my own problem. Maybe time is an idol for me. But I am still reeling from the loss (and so is my house).
Valor and I are just starting to get into a rhythm for the afternoons, and he has gradually grown into more independent play. One thing that has been helpful so far is an activity selector for when he whines, “I have nothing to do!” I have him spin the wheel and then he does what it says. He helped decorate it and likes to do most of the things on there, so it’s been helpful. He will go get it at any time of the day, spin it, and do the activity. Why he can’t generate those activity ideas on his own, I don’t know. But this is where we are right now.
I will post more on homeschooling later, but Valor and I have loved doing Classical Conversations so far this year. I am tutoring five first- and second-graders, and he is in the Kindergarten class with six other kids. Although he’s the youngest in the school, he’s learned all the memorization material in the first twelve weeks. I don’t mean this as bragging. CC has a good curriculum with lots of review built in. Most of all, though, he has learned it through music and repetition. I have a song for every piece of information, from the countries of Southwest Asia to multiplication tables to indefinite pronouns. While this soundtrack can get old, I can’t argue with the fact that we learn from it, and are then able to talk about the material and enrich those facts with other experiences. Today we studied the map in the newspaper of the former Russian republics and talked about how they are having to decide between political ties to Russia or the EU. That was really fun. In addition to the typical academics, has been introduced to music, presentation skills, and art, too. In fact, right now he is trying to play “Twinkle, Twinkle” on his tin whistle. Art is his favorite subject, though!
Percy has been developing into his own unique person, independent and confident. He looks like his Papa Bill in the shape of his jaw and mouth, and he sounds like him, too, with his loud, gravelly voice. I wish you could have heard him today, shouting with delight over his first cup of hot chocolate. He lives large, and he is large. He’s above the 98th percentile for height and weight (31.5 lbs. at 17 mo.), and is shaped roughly like a barrel. He had a cute curl on the back of his head until recently, when I gave him a big boy haircut. His hair color is between dirty- and strawberry-blond now. Unlike Valor, he does not mind getting dirty, he still loves balls, and he loves to be outside. Also unlike Valor, he does not expect or desire close supervision. Percy loves music and dancing, dunks anything into the basketball net (including a football), always notices airplanes in the sky, and is starting to play with cars. He also likes to help clean up—an excellent character trait!
His words started coming in around 16 months old. Off the top of my head, besides family names, he can say: ball (also used for grapes), up, go (also his word for cars), (ba)nana, wawa (water), puh-ple (purple), mam-wuh (marble), whee (for swing), meat, me, moon, bye-bye, night-night, mimi (for blanket), cheese, all done, milk, cookie, apple, “oh” (for drawing), oh no, uh oh, no-no, ah-plah (airplane), book, bowl (also used for his Goldilocks book), bike, owl, cat, goat, ball-ball (blueberry). He calls Valor “Vah-vah.” He also signs a lot of other words, thanks to our Signing Time DVDs. He is saying a couple new words every day! Tonight’s addition was “wow.”
Did I say he was independent? That is mostly true. Percy is the first of my kids to exhibit separation anxiety. There is some hollering if I leave him in the church nursery.
He likes to take himself off to his room to “weed” in the rocking chair. Percy loves animal books the way Valor used to love food books. His first favorite books were The Foot Book and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. Now he loves Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems, and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. Tonight was the first time Richard Scarry held his interest. Percy is super interested in letters of the alphabet (which he used to collectively and inexplicably refer to as “ghee”) and he chooses The Letter Factory almost every day for his 30 minutes of screen time. He is starting to say letter names and sounds, but I don’t think he can connect the sounds to any of their forms yet.
Maybe this is a second child thing, or maybe I am forgetting, but Percy has gotten into more trouble around the house than I remember Valor getting into. His biggest shenanigans occur in the bathrooms, which is why we have been keeping the doors to them shut for the last few months. Three times he has slipped into our bathroom in an unguarded moment, opened my lipsticks, and drilled his finger down into them. I think he figured that I was eating them, so they must taste good. The first time he did this (at about 16 mo.) was a time when I thought he was with John, and John thought he was with me. After gouging the lipstick tube, he painted his hair, the bathtub, etc. with the resulting pigment. Then he dropped the lipsticks into the toilet. He also ran the whirlpool tub full of scalding hot water, completely draining the hot water heater, and dropped his shoes in there. I know what you guys are thinking—we are amazing parents, ha ha. But I think that after the third time he finally gets that it is a no-no. I’m still keeping the bathroom doors shut, though. I have my new lipsticks to protect.
Percy is also pretty headstrong. That’s what we get for naming him Grant Perseverance. Unlike sunny baby Valor, of whom everyone used to say, “Does he ever cry?” Percy likes to stiffen up, fall down, and have dramatic tantrums. They are lessening now, but he still likes to pull the stiff from time to time. I used to ignore him during tantrums, and more recently, I have begun putting him into his crib until he gets a grip. I have also been trying to tighten up on disciplining him, because I had been letting him get by with a lot because he was the “baby.” I bet I had spanked Valor twice as much by this age as I have spanked Percy. I am finding that as I raise the bar, his self-control as well as his attempts to communicate have improved.
The boys love to play together, but there are a lot of conflicts as well. Percy has just begun to be able to accuse Valor by name when he takes his toy or pushes him down, shouting “Vah!” with indignation. I’ve been rereading Shepherding a Child’s Heart and Don’t Make Me Count to Three to train myself to talk about Valor’s heart motives for his behavior using biblical principles and point him to his need of the gospel each time I discipline him. It’s tiring when I take the time and effort to discipline them well (and I don’t always follow through), but I know it will be worth it when they can finally recognize their own sins, call to mind internalized Scripture, and repent to God and each other independently of me.
This next set of photos is just fun times with the Grandparents this fall… Valor and Gaga…
Valor and Papa…
Gaga and Percy (she is going to be so sad when she hears I cut that curl off in back!)…
Percy and Grandmommy…
and Papa Bill on his birthday. He has recovered well from his stroke except he is still not talking much.
Percy loves Papa Bill’s walker.
And the birthday cake batter!
Our old friends, Dave and Christie, visited last weekend for an early Thanksgiving Feast (yes they really are that tall)…
Christie hasn’t lost any of her talents in the kitchen. Suffice it to say, we had much to be thankful for.
And their kids are so sweet and kind to ours. Valor and Percy just adore Beth Ann and Cole.
One last thing, if you are still with me here at the end… I named this post “full” because of the fullness and joy of our autumn, in spite of the loss of our adopted embryos Itty and Bitty. Most of the time I am very busy and I do not think about them. Every Sunday at church, however, it seems like God sweeps aside all my distractions to reveal the grief in my heart. As I write, my miscarriage of Bitty is still incomplete. I am still carrying her tiny remains, over a month after her soul has gone to Jesus. I am grateful to still have some physical connection to her, to feel like I can embrace her fragility a little longer. But I have had four ultrasounds since she died, and the suspense, and expenses, begin to weigh on us. Please pray that the miscarriage completes safely so that we can start getting ready for our next try.
We wish you a grateful and grace-filled Thanksgiving with your family and friends!