Friday, July 18, 2014

Jack Stories: Age 4.5

Jack the Fireman

Okay, if I don't start here, I won't accurately capture who Jack is at the moment.  Ladies and gentlemen, the fireman/firetrucks interest has now been going strong for three years.  I imagine he'll be a fireman for the 4th Halloween in a row this fall.

I think it could get blurry between how strong a child's natural interest in something is and then how much that interest is fostered by supportive parents.  We've visited the New Orleans fire departments so often, he had fire fighters visit his third birthday party.  I've taken him to the library countless times to search the New Orleans library system for fire books and submitted many requests to get those sent to our local branch.  And we did drive across the country and let Jack stop at lots of fire stations along the way.

Whether that's the chicken or the egg, I can't be sure, but Jack's interest in fire fighting remains very strong.  He's incredibly knowledgeable from his extensive reading and touring.  And he has plans to be a "regular fireman" (he doesn't want to be the fire chief as they don't fight fires) at a station with a pole.

He had a fun first in Jackson, when Uncle Chris set him up to visit the forestry service fire division.  (Uncle Chris works for the forestry service.)  Jack got to climb aboard the truck, but that wasn't new to him, as most fire fighters are incredibly generous with their time and their vehicles.  But these firefighters let Jack shoot the hose.  Now that was special!

In Louisiana

In New Mexico

In Wyoming

Jack the Reader

Jack continues to love to read.  On a day we've visited the library, he wants nothing more than to be left alone to "read" his bag of books.  (As a literacy specialist, I firmly believe reading is more than reading words; Jack reads pictures and is developing awesome reading strategies and comprehension skills as a result.) He reads daily during his rest time.   We read to him before rest and night time.  And he insists on picking out books to sleep with, which he then reads by the summer daylight that filters in until 8:00.

Wildfires, fire trucks, and firemen are his main interests, but he's also a fan of police and ambulance related stories and most fiction.  He loves Richard Scarry books, Berenstain Bears, and we've read the first three Laura Ingalls Wilder books together.  Jacob is now reading Shiloh to him.  Other good first chapter books he's enjoyed were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. He has a book of 100 classic stories and he loves that one as well. He also loves to listen to books on CD, which I check out from the library. His favorites are Arthur (as in the aardvark) stories, but this week he's been listening to Aesop's Fables repeatedly.

Jack the Talker

On the one hand, we love listening to Jack-speak and he keeps us laughing a lot.  On the other hand, this kid can talk non-stop until your eyes glaze over.  He also is a smart little character, so watch out.  Amidst his never-ending banter, he'll reword things and you'll find that in your dazed out state, you just nodded your head or agreed to what you just said was not okay!

He's got generally good manners and does know to say "Excuse Me" when he wants to interrupt, but if you aren't quick enough to divert your attention you'll find yourself the victim of an "excuse-me-excuse-me-excuse-me" chant with a child climbing up your body and speaking right into your ear.  Recently, Jacob, who must have read some article, told Jack we were going to try a new tactic.  When Jack wants to interrupt, he should say "excuse me" one time and put his hand on our arm.  We will then cover his hand to let him know we heard him and then he needs to wait until we turn our attention to him. This has helped some.

Jack the Messy Eater

We've jokingly said that Jack should put a cup under his chin when eating fruit and then he can just finish his meal with some fruit juice, since so much comes out of his mouth when he eats... but he really should.  Jacob and I are both pretty neat, so it can be hard during a meal to be sitting across from a 4.5 year old.  Or maybe it's on us and we need to set higher expectations for this particular 4.5 year old.  We had cherry pie this week and the first night, Jack never picked up his fork, but instead managed to destroy the pie with hands only.  For leftovers, my mom told him he must use his fork.  He did, but then she found him wiping up the leftover filling with his whole hand and licking it off.

In the blueberry bushes...again
Jack the Artist

It's always nice when a Christmas gift is well utilized.  Jack loves his art easel and can spend 30 minutes on the dry erase side.  He draws a scene, puts it on fire, then draws firemen and trucks, and puts out the fire by covering everything with water.  His scenes have evolved into 13 story apartment buildings and multiple engines.  It's an awesome independent activity!!

Jack, my Heart

As I shared, this kid is just sweet.  He wants to be everyone's friend and he finds the joy in life so easily.  He is still a snuggler and my sweet little boy, but he's growing up fast!  Look, no more training wheels!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My heart and my spirit

I sometimes think of Jack as my heart and Cora as my spirit.  This anecdote perfectly captures why.

On our vacation to Jackson Hole, the full family (minus Claire who couldn't quite handle the kitsch of a touristy attraction in her hometown) went to the Bar-T Ranch for a covered wagon ride into the mountains for dinner and a show.  Chris, Jackson resident for 10 years now, gamely came along.  It was a super friendly affair with the chance to get to know your wagon-mates on the picturesque trek up the mountain trail.

Jack and Cora were both into it.  Jack because he's read Laura Ingalls Wilder books with me and it was a little dip into history for him.  Cora because we were riding behind "horseys."

At the dinner, my little musical baby was clapping in beat to every song and enjoying being with her adoring male fans: her daddy, her Big Papa, and her Uncle "Tis".

For the "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain" number, there was audience participation and all kids were called up.  Jack went up right away and after a few minutes, Cora decided to join.  As soon as she walked up, the youngest by several years, Jack protectively put his hands on her shoulders.  As the emcee gave directions and talked to each volunteer, Jack would lean down and whisper things to Cora.  And he'd periodically kiss her cheek and hug her.  SIGH!!

Cora was paying rapt attention to everything going on as each volunteer got their instructions for the song.  When it came to the childrens' part (rub your tummy), the emcee walked over to the kids and Cora stared wide eyed at him without making any other motion.  He stopped the song to say "This one is just precious!!"  And then he put the mike up to her mouth and what did my little just-turned-two spirited child say?


Heart and spirit.  The best gifts.