Thursday, September 15, 2011

Separation Issue: Church Sunday School

Jacob has always been a little shy around strangers and sometimes even around family. He had the "normal" stranger anxiety issues when he was a little over a year old. And then again when he was about 18 months old. I was hoping with the passage of time and him maturing, it would change, but unfortunately it has not and it has been both frustrating and heartbreaking.

I often blame myself for this issue since I have pretty much been with him 24/7 since the day he was born. The only people he has really stayed with for an extended period of time, other than myself or Keith, are my parents or my sister, Katie. He did stay with a high school girl who lived across the street a few times when he was less than a year old, but it was only for a few hours and it was before he really understood what was happening. I truly believe that staying home with him and not having him in daycare or being cared for by someone else is a good thing. However, I also wonder if we would be having these same problems if I had left him more often over the past two years.

The biggest issue we are dealing with right now is leaving him at the Sunday School class at church. This is one of those situations that I look back and really wish we had just dealt with two years ago. Keith and I were very involved in our church in Richmond, but when we moved to Charlottesville in 2007, we fell away from going to church regularly. Numerous times over the past four and a half years, we have attended a church with the intentions of making it a regular part of our week. Unfortunately, we never made it a high priority before we had Jacob (mostly because of laziness) and once he came along, getting up and going to church with a baby seemed like an impossible task. There were morning naps, breastfeeding, and diaper changes to deal with and it was just easier to stay home on Sunday mornings and spend time as a family. We did go a few times, but once he got to the age where he wasn't content to sit in his carrier, we didn't attempt to go anymore.

Then, earlier this year, Keith and I had a discussion about how we felt it was important to get involved in a church - both for ourselves and for Jacob. We really enjoyed being a part of our church in Richmond and we miss that fellowship and feeling of family. Here at home, we read bible stories, sing biblical songs and pray with Jacob, but we wanted something more for him too. So, we started attending a church close to our home in late May. We left Jacob in the nursery one time (and he cried most of the time!) and another time we tried to have him in the service with us (we left early that day since neither of us could really pay attention to what was going on due to a very feisty toddler!).

Then, due to vacations and busy summer weekends, we didn't get into a good routine of going every Sunday until late July. At this point, since Jacob was over two years old, he was not allowed in the nursery anymore; he needed to go to the two-year old Sunday School classroom. In this setting, he would color pictures, sing songs, listen to bible stories, eat a snack and sometimes go outside on the playground. We were really excited for Jacob to learn about Jesus and to enjoy being with other kids his age. Unfortunately, he was not so excited! I basically had to peel him of of me and leave him in the room crying out for me the first day we left him. And, about 20 minutes into the service, one of the teacher's helpers had to come get me because he wouldn't stop crying. From then until now (for about six weeks), we have tried numerous things - bringing him into the service with us, me staying in the classroom with him, and what we have done most is to just leave him (even though he is crying when we leave and crying when we come back to get him).

It breaks my heart to walk away from him when he is crying so hard and calling out for me, but I have been hoping that it was going to get better. One of the problems is that the Sunday School teacher is not the same every week. It is a volunteer position that rotates and, especially over the summer, there was not a predictable schedule of who was going to be there. There is one teacher, Miss Terry, who Jacob is more fond of and who I feel comfortable leaving him with (she always assures me that "he will be fine" and that we should go enjoy the service and not worry about him). The first time we left him with her, I admittedly was a little worried about her blase attitude and I cried walking from the classroom to the sanctuary and for the first ten minutes of the service! I wondered if we were doing the right thing or if we were leaving him with someone who wasn't going to take very good care of him. That day, when we returned to get him (even though he was still crying and so was I again), Miss Terry told me that she had a daughter with special needs and that she understood the need for parents to have time away and for kids to learn the hard lesson that their Mom and Dad will come back for them. From that day forward, I felt like Jacob and Miss Terry had a special bond. A few times after the service when we have gone to the classroom to get him, the teenage helpers have told us that he and Miss Terry are in a different place (out at the playground or in a different area of the building). She tries very hard to distract him while making him feel comfortable being away from us. He still cries and has to be peeled off of me when I leave him with her, but she tells me every week that she thinks he is getting better and isn't crying as much (read: just on and off instead of the whole hour! lol) I am VERY thankful for Miss Terry and I believe that she is truly helping Jacob overcome his separation anxiety fear (even though it is a very sloooooow process!). The only problem now is that I don't feel comfortable leaving him with anyone else. And, there are weeks that Miss Terry is not going to be there so we need to decide what to do.

Keith and I have had NUMEROUS discussions about this issue and have also fielded many suggestions from family and friends. It is a hard issue to deal with and, even though we sometimes second guess ourselves, we have come to the conclusion that forcing him to spend some time away from us is a good thing. And, we are hopeful that someday (hopefully SOON!!), it will not be such a struggle for all of us. The saga continues...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my 36th (wow!!) birthday and it was a great day! Of course, there was the uninvited guest named (Hurricane) Irene that decided to arrive in Virginia yesterday and leave many of my friends and family members without power in Richmond! Thankfully, here in Charlottesville, we only got slight wind gusts and a lot of rain. No power outages or trees down and, for that, I am very thankful!

Yesterday morning, Keith got Jacob up and let me "sleep in". Of course, with a noisy two year old running around, I couldn't really sleep, but I was able to lay in bed for a little while and watch The Weather Channel (which I have been addicted to watching over the past few days!). Once I got up, Keith went to Dunkin Donuts and got me my favorite donuts. They were so fresh and yummy!

Mid-morning, we headed into "town", dropped off some books at the library and then went to The Hibachi Grill (which was my choice) for lunch. I was craving some Asian food and they have a big selection of Chinese, Japanese and American food. I also knew it would be a good place to find stuff that Keith and Jacob would like.

During lunch, as I was putting hot mustard on my Chinese Spring Roll, Jacob said he wanted some. And, even though I assured him many, many, many times that he would not like it and that it was really hot, he still wanted to taste it. just giving him a little bit of it on my finger was not enough. He wanted to hold the packet himself. So...since I sometimes like him to learn through natural consequences, I let him do whatever he wanted.

At first, he was enjoying it....
and then he realized how HOT it was and wasn't very happy....
Don't worry, a little water and some bread and he was back to normal. Well, not exactly normal...he decided he wanted to eat some butter right out of the little tub. Sounds gross, huh?
Well he loved it! LOL

After lunch, we came back home for rest and relaxation. Jacob took a nap and I laid around watching The Weather Channel and checking email and Facebook. It was glorious! :)

At one point, I looked at Jacob's monitor because he had cried out and I thought he might be waking up. This is what I saw on the monitor....he was sitting up and then he put his head down straight in front of him without getting out of the sitting pose! It looks super uncomfortable, but he stayed like that for about 30 mins!

Once Jacob got up from his nap, we played together while Keith made dinner! It was a welcome change since I am the one who makes dinner every night. Here he is peeling potatoes:
Blackened salmon, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts and garlic bread...YUM!!
Even though we didn't lose power, we had a candlelight dinner, just the three of us!
My beautiful plate...thanks honey!!

After dinner, Keith cleaned up the dishes and then we had ice cream cake (my favorite!). Jacob enjoyed singing Happy Birthday to Mommy. I wish we would have gotten it on video, he was so cute.

Thank you, Keith, for such a wonderful relaxing day. I didn't do dishes, laundry, cook, clean or anything else I didn't want to do all day! For any moms out there, you know that is an awesome day!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Whatchu talkin' bout, Jacob?

Jacob's language skills continue to amaze me everyday. His words and ability to form sentences (that make sense) have completely taken off lately. In the past few months, he has gone from speaking in one or two word phrases to sentences that can be five to six words long. Strangers are often surprised to hear that he is only a little over two years old when they hear him speaking so well. I don't really have anything to compare it to, so I just think he is "normal" for his age. When we went for his two-year well visit last month, the pediatrician asked me how many words he was saying. When I paused to think, she said "At least 50?". I laughed and said, "Yeah, really more like hundreds". And when she heard him say a four word sentence "I get the ball", she smiled and said that she was definitely not worried about his speech!

Here are some examples of phrases and sentences that have come out of Jacob's little mouth recently:

"Have both of these" (when holding two items)

"Can Daddy do it?" (regarding getting something that Mommy was going to get)

"These are apart" (talking about two trains that were connected, but came apart)

"This is the beginning" (in regards to the opening on a DVD he was watching)

"Mommy play cars with Jacob" (when he wants me to play with him)

"Jacob wants...." and "He wants..." (when he wants me to give him something, such as a certain type of food)

"There's another...." (when he sees two of the same thing)

"It's all over" (referring to the end of a video or book)

"That's Mommy's [or Daddy's, Aunt Katie's, Jacob's, Papa's, etc]...." (referring to something belonging to someone. For example, cup, water, shirt, body parts, book, pretty much everything!!)

"What's he/she/Mommy/Daddy [or anyone, similar to above] doing?" (when he wants to know what someone is doing. It can be something interesting that he sees or just something simple like eating or driving a car or washing hands. He is very inquisitive!!)

"What book are we going to read?" (he asked this when he was picking out a book to read before bedtime)

"I don't like...." (he has started to show his dislike for things, even those things that he previously liked. He will most often use this phrase regarding food, but he will use it for other things too when he is trying to tell us that he doesn't want to do something)

"I don't want to watch X no more" (obviously when he is no longer interested in watching whatever DVD he was previously watching)

"I have to go get...." (he announces when he is going into another room to get something such as a toy, book or shoes)

"I'm looking for..." (when he is searching for something, whether a toy or an object in a book)

"Few more minutes" and "One more time" (he uses these phrases when he is trying to negotiate with us after we have told him it is time to stop playing or doing whatever thing he doesn't want to stop doing)

"What do you want to watch?" (he says this when he wants to watch a DVD - Barney is by far his favorite right now, with Bob the Builder and Thomas the Tank Engine running second and third.)

"Oh, you're right" (he said this to me yesterday and I laughed out loud! I can't remember what he was referring to, but it had something to do with me telling him to do something and then when he did it, he made this exclamation).

"You're such a big boy" (he also said this to me yesterday when he was hanging on the monkey bars at the playground. It was funny to hear him say this - obviously he was repeating what we have said to him many times before!)

"Where's the book, honey?" (he was looking for a specific book and couldn't find it so he asked me this question. Again, I laughed out loud because he was obviously repeating what he has heard!)

Songs - he loves to sing songs lately. He sings along to the CDs that we listen to in the car or in the house, he will sing along to songs that are on DVDs that he is watching, and he will sometimes sing along with me when I am singing to him before his nap or bedtime. Some of his favorites right now are the Bob the Builder theme song, "Baa Baa Black Sheep", "Hush little Baby", "Itsy Bitsy Spider" (with some hand motions), "Farmer in the Dell", "I've Got Peace Like a River", "Are You Sleeping?", and "The Grand Old Duke of York". He will often ask to repeat the same song on a CD in the car over and over and over again!!

Body parts - he is very good at pointing out various body parts (on himself or someone else). I am pretty sure this is age appropriate, but I wanted to document it for future reference. He can point to and name eyes, nose, mouth, tongue, teeth, ears, head, hair, eyebrows, mustache, beard, neck, shoulder, chin, arm, hand, fingers, fingernails, chest, stomach, belly button, penis (that is a fun one!), bottom, leg, knee, ankle, foot, toes, and toenails. Lately he has also been asking me what my breasts are (if I undress in front of him). I have told him and he will say "Those are Mommy's breasts", but he continues to ask every time. I guess they are just interesting to him. He will also say "Mommy's penis" so I am trying to explain to him the difference between girls and boys (in a way that a two-year old will understand!). I have not gotten into telling him the name for my private area yet, and am hoping to hold off on that for awhile! He already talks about his penis a lot, I don't need him to start talking about my parts too!

Letters - he can recognize a few letters (O,I,Q,L,G,B) most of the time, but he sometimes still gets them wrong. He loves to point out letters and tell me what he thinks they are (even though most of the time he is not correct). I love his apparent enthusiasm for wanting to learn! He also knows a lot of letter sounds (from his Leap Frog "Letter Factory" video). Sometimes, he will walk around randomly saying "The B says Bah, the B says Bah, every letter makes a sound, the B says Bah". I took this video of him doing it a few weeks ago (I aso added in some footage of him singing yesterday):

Basically, Jacob is at the stage now where he will repeat pretty much anything he hears! He has a mind like a steel trap and almost anything that goes in, stays in and often comes back out in one way or another. It is fun watching him process things and develop his own little language and ways to express himself. I am glad that he is able to communicate with us so much because it makes the tantrums and outburts happen a lot less. He is good at repeating himself too until we understand what he is saying. Sometimes it takes me a few tries to figure out what he is trying to say. He has trouble with the letter V and it comes out sounding like a B. Other than that, his words are often pretty recognizable, even by people who aren't around him that often.

I just love my little chatterbox! I think he is going to be a non-stop talker (sometimes he already is!) just like his Mama can be!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summertime Fun

We have certainly been enjoying the beautiful weather that Virginia has given us so far this summer. We are so blessed to live in a community that has a pool and several beaches to choose from whenever we want to go play! This summer has been so much fun so far - Jacob is at such a great age and he asks almost daily if we can "go play in sand and water" (aka go to the beach) or "go jump in the pool". He loves the water and I am sure that he is going to be a little fish once he gets a little bigger and learns to swim. This makes me very happy since I also love the water and even taught swimming lessons and lifeguarded in my younger years.

In early May, we had some beautiful weather so we went to the beach a few times. One day, Jacon and I were going for a walk (he was riding in the wagon and I was pulling him!) and I decided to walk to the nearest beach (it is about 1.2 miles from our house). Of course, we didn't have our swimsuits on or have any sand toys with us, but we did have fun wading in the water, looking at boats and walking in the sand.

A few days later, on a somewhat overcast day, we got our suits on, packed up our sand toys and headed for the beach. Because it was a little cool, I didn't let Jacob go in very far, just up to his ankles, but he was asking to go in further.

Due to our 10 days away from home (visiting family in NY and PA) in late May/early June, we had a few weeks where we missed spending any time near water. Thankfully once we got back into the swing of things, we more than made up for it. In fact, a few weeks ago, Jacob and I had our swimsuits on five days in a row - three trips to our neighborhood pool, one trip to the beach and one day at a friend's pool all in the same week! If you ask me, it was great (and I think Jacob enjoyed it too!). I am truly blessed to be able to do things like that!

Here are some pictures from that week:

Jacob enjoying his lunch at the Lake Monticello pool
(June 21)

Of course drinking Mommy's water bottle is so much more fun!
Reid and Jacob

Playing with trucks in the Lake
(June 22)

Eating lunch at Emily's pool (It was rainy and cool on this particular day. We did swim for a short bit, but mostly we hung out eating under the umbrellas)
(June 23)

Back at the LM pool - having fun in the baby pool
(June 24)

Keith went with us to the pool on Saturday. It is always fun to have Daddy there to do fun things like throw you up in the air!!
(June 25)

At our first trip to the pool (on June 21), Jacob started jumping in the pool if I was holding his hands. He wanted to do it over and over again and wasn't even upset if water got in his face or he went under a bit. On this particular day, he started jumping in all by himself (without me holding on to his hands). I think it had something to do with him getting the noodle that we had been playing with. Either way, I was so proud of him! Thankfully, Keith was able to get it on video:

We had a bit of a lull the week after our 5-day water fun because the weather was a little crappy (rainy) and also we had some other things to do! This past week, we had a playdate with my mom's group at one of the local spray parks. I had never been to a spray park before so I had no idea what the expect. It definitely exceeded my expectations and the best part is that it was completely FREE!

One thing I did learn was that I should have worn my bathing suit - it was 90+ degrees and very humid and I was wishing that I could jump in the water with everyone else. Next time I will wear it for sure!! Here are some pictures I captured of Jacob (he was a little tentative at first, but after a litle while he started really having fun!):

I am looking forward to many more fun times at the beach and pool this summer. We leave for our fun family vacation to Corolla on Sunday, July 24th (just three weeks from today!) and I am really looking forward to it! I hope the rest of the summer is as fun as the first part as been!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jacob's 2nd birthday

It is unbelievable to me that my "baby" turned two years old last week. It seems like just yesterday, we were announcing his arrival! Now, he is talking and walking and has really grown into a little person. He is independent, loving, sweet, full of energy, cheerful, fiesty, determined and has a great sense of humor. I just love him more than words can ever express!!

His birthday this year was certainly a long celebration!! He got to eat lots of cake and he blew the candles out five different times. He got really used to receiving presents (and actually still asks to "open more presents" everyday). He was one spoiled little boy this year. I hope he doesn't remember all of this next year because I am pretty sure this won't ever be repeated!

Jacob's first celebration came on May 29th at my grandmother's 80th birthday party in Rochester, NY. "Nana" surprised us by having a cake for Jacob at her party. He enjoyed everyone singing to him and watching him blow out the candles. He also enjoyed eating the yummy cake!

The second celebration came on June 1st at my grandma's house near Rochester. We were still up there visiting my extended family and everyone came to her house for dinner. We had an inpromtu birthday party for Jacob with cake and presents courtesy of my grandma and my aunts. My aunt Julie brought a yummy ice cream cake for us all to enjoy. (Note: We did not write on this cake! This "beautiful"job was done by the woman who was working in the bakery at the grocery store. We all agreed she should NOT be decorating cakes! haha)

(Another note: my grandma did not have any birthday candles so we had to resort to using these multi-colored taper candles. Yes, they are quite large...but Jacob didn't mind a bit!)

The third celebration was on June 4th at Keith's aunt's house in PA. We left NY and traveled to PA to visit with his family for a few days. More of the same....cake and LOTS of presents!!

The fourth celebration was on Jacob's actual birthday - June 7th. We traveled back from PA that day so we were in the car for most of the day. By the time we got home, it was late evening and we hadn't really planned anything. Keith ran to the grocery store and came back with some cupcakes. We lit two candles and sang Happy Birthday to Jacob. Then, he opened up two presents from us.

The fifth celebration was this past Saturday, June 11th. We had a family birthday party with my immediate family at my parents' house in Richmond. I made a cake - nothing fancy, just confetti cake with chocolate frosting, but it was a hit! And, Jacob got spoiled more with lots of more great presents.

We were able to get the third, fourth and fifth celebratory "Happy Birthday" songs on video and I put them all together into this one:

Happy Birthday sweet boy! Mommy and Daddy love you very much!!

"The View from Here": April 11-17

This is over two months behind, but I had already uploaded the pictures so I am going to go ahead and publish it.

Monday, April 11
Playing outside with chalk and tricycle

Tuesday, April 12
Playing basketball

Wednesday, April 13
Jacob had his yearly appointment at UVA Urology. This was follow-up to the Hydronephrosis that was detected when he was in utero. Thankfully, Jacob did really well. He had a great ultrasound technician who was fast and very friendly and Jacob didn't squirm that much. He also did great when the nurse took his temperature and his blood pressure.

Unfortunately, as it always seems to happen at the UVA Urology office, we had to wait a LONG time to see the doctor. The ultrasound took about 5 mins and then we waited over an hour to see the doctor!! Jacob got a little stirc-crazy sitting in the small exam room for that long, but overall he did really well. Here we are goofing around while waiting:

The good news was that his kidneys look fine and the doctor thinks that the issue is resolving itself with time. He still wants us to come back in a year, but hopefully that will be our last appointment!!

Thursday, April 14
Nothing like opening a box of Cheese-Its in the grocery store to keep a little boy quiet! Jacob LOVES "cheese crackers" and he would sit and eat half of the box if I let him!

I have started allowing Jacob to wash his hands in the bathroom sink. He uses the step stool/potty and is able to reach the faucet to turn on the water.

Friday, April 15
First of two birds' nests that appeared in my hanging plants. I guess our front porch is a good place to "raise a family". haha

Saturday, April 16
We went to Chuck E Cheese to celebrate my niece's 3rd birthday. Jacob had a blast riding the rides and playing the games. The grownups enjoyed it too!

Keith and Jacob playing skeeball
Riding the horsie
Up, Up, Up he goes!
Daddy and Jacob driving a car
The three oldest kiddos (Sierra, Jacob, and Pierce) got to pick out prizes using the tickets that everyone won.
The Stank grandkids
Pierce (4), Sierra (3), Jacob (22 months), Reid (18 months), Chyler (13 months)