it’s a beautiful gift

I know I keep writing about Jake’s vocabulary but seriously folks it is AWESOME! Speech is one of those things I know I have taken for granted in the past. Most babies start with the babbling and then they put those babbles into words and then into sentences. It is fascinating to watch it all transform. For us, this transformation has taken much longer than with Jake’s siblings and I have learned to appreciate each new word, each new sentence and I am constantly amazed. One of the ways children learn to talk is by imitating what they hear and because of Jake’s delayed development we are a couple of years behind. In the beginning I hated it because like most parents I wanted to hear my baby talk, I wanted to hear his sweet little voice and quite honestly I never knew if it would happen. But I see that in some ways it was a blessing. We had to wait longer than many parents but it made us work harder and now appreciate every new word, phrase and sentence. I don’t and will not ever take speech for granted again because it is a gift. One of the things this journey is teaching me is to be thankful for what you have in the moment and enjoy it, soak in it and never ever take anything for granted. It is hard in the day-to-day life because stuff happens, you know…you don’t have time to wrap yourself up and cherish each and every good moment. But it is nice when things do slow down a bit and you can. For me, it is like a cozy blanket; at the end of the day I can wrap myself up in the events of the day and smile and feel content.

As I’ve told you before Jake’s language has taken off in rapid speed. Yet we are still amazed nearly every day by something new he says. You see him now struggling to find the right word to use and for me that is so so awesome. He gets frustrated at times because he either can’t find the word or doesn’t know how to say it but he eventually gets there and the words are music to my ears.

Friday after I picked Jake up from school I told him we were going to see Allie work and then go to the bookstore. He smiled and held up his fingers and said “First, we see Sissy at work. Then go to get Jakey a book at the bookstore and then go home. 1,2,3; like that mommy…oookkkaaayyy?” For those that have been following our journey you know how big this truly is for us; for him. You see for the longest time he would only repeat what I said, he would repeat it over and over and over again (which is great in itself) reassuring himself and waiting for me each time to say yes and repeat what we were going to be doing. Now he throws his own words into the mix and even adds the last stop (going home) with no verbal prompting. This sort of stuff really makes my heart swell.

One of my favorite things he has said so far is this…Saturday night we were sitting on the couch and he kept touching his toe. I asked him if it hurt and he said “no, don’t look at it.” I went ahead and looked at his toe and noticed a scratch and he said in a loud sort of whining and angry voice “I said you not look at my toe! Is that how we say it? No, Jake should say please don’t look at my toe. Mommy, please don’t look at my toe.” Okay, this sounds like a strange thing to say but this is really big. We (us, teachers, therapists) are always helping him use his words instead of crying or whining. So we will ask him if that is how we ask or say something to which he most usually responds with no and then we help him with a better choice. He whined, realized that and then corrected himself without being prompted! This was/is a first — it made me smile and I told him I won’t look at your toe.  He smiled and hid his toe 🙂

Speech is a beautiful thing!

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Love with all your heart…

We walk into the classroom and I look around to find Jake, all of the children are seated at the table finishing lunch but he isn’t there. I scan the room and find him by the puzzles, standing with his hands over his ears. He sees me and smiles but doesn’t come running to greet me. He sits down with his hands still covering his ears. Another child runs to give me a hug and I hear another say “hi, Jake’s mommy” but my boy won’t look at me. I go to him, try to hug him and he says “I need to sit here”. I let him be. I go to get ready for the Valentine’s day party while Allie tries to talk to Jake; he cries. I tell Allie to walk away. We start the Valentine exchange and now Jake is near me but he is crying; not the fake sort of crying…his tears are real and his face is truly sad. His heart is beating way too fast. My heart breaks a little. I really want to get him out of there; I want to pick up my boy and run! I want to run to a quiet place where he can calm down and feel in control. I choose to stay because it really wasn’t all that loud; it’s his routine and it was thrown off. I stay because I feel that at some point he needs to figure out a way to handle changes. Allie hugs on him and encourages him to come to the table to check out his valentine treats and he says no. All of the others are smiling having a great time and Jake is in tears; my heart truly hurts. Again I fight the need to run. I go to my boy who has been crying for a while and ask him (in a stern voice) if he wants to go to Chick Fil A; he looks at me and says emphatically “YES!” I ask him if he can sit with his friends and do the craft mommy brought and he says “no, I can’t”. I ask him why. He says “I scared”. Sternly I tell him “it is okay, we are here to have fun and after the party we will go to Chick Fil A, BUT if you don’t go to the table we will go home.” He wipes his eyes and looks at me and says “I want to go to Chick Fil A” and walks to table with his peers. I hug him and his chest is beating so fast; I tell him what a big boy he is and how proud I am of him. He gives me a half-smile. Allie comes over to help her brother; she works on his craft with him and encourages him to look at his Valentine’s. He is smiling now, he is truly happy. I walk over and hug him and his chest is not pounding. Jake is calm, relaxed and truly having a good time.

It is SO hard not to run, it is so hard not to cave and cry with him when I see he is truly scared. I want to coddle him and protect him like I did when he was an infant. But what works for Jake isn’t coddling, sometimes he needs the stern mommy voice. He needs to be pushed a little. It is a fine line at times. There is a voice in my head telling me to push him a little bit more to see what he can handle and to see if he can regroup and make it past the struggle. But the other voice tells me to pick him up, all 60 pounds of him, and get out of there. But I knew Jake needed to be pushed here, he wanted the fun he wanted to be a part of the party but, in my opinion, didn’t know how to get there.

Since this journey began I have learned to listen to my gut instinct. I have learned that when I do I am usually right and it is for the best in the end. Nothing is easy in this life. As I am writing this I think about my own personal experiences. Yesterday I went to a painting party where we were to paint our pet. I am not an artist by any means, I can barely draw a straight line. But I wanted to go; I wanted to be with my friends and at least attempt to paint our family dog, Maggie. I was scared, my heart beat a little bit faster but I went anyway. I pushed myself just a little and in the end I was SO glad that I did. My friends and I had a great time and my painting turned out pretty good. I think of Jake and all of the obstacles that he will face in his life, some will be on a smaller scale like the party and others are probably going to be so much bigger and feel way too scary. If I don’t help him with the small obstacles, like a valentines party, how he will he know how to get through the really big things? Again it is so hard for all of us, not just Jake. But I know, at the end of the day, it is for the best.

Valentine’s day ended up being a great day for my boy. He received a lot of cute valentine’s from his friends, he got his Chick Fil A, he received a valentine from us and at the end of the day he was happy, smiling and singing Happy Valentine’s day to the tune of Happy Birthday.

I love this picture. This face is a typical face of a happy boy! He is almost always smiling. He is almost always singing or dancing or running and bouncing. I love how he put the heart over his face like this because this boy is truly loved by many. This boy loves with all of his heart. Love…enough said 🙂

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For those interested, here is my painting 🙂

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1 Corinthians 13:4-8

the best birthday :)

Jake’s birthday week started off with a birthday card in the mail from Grandma & Grandpa; in the past Jake would cry and have nothing to do with a birthday card. When I told him that he got a card he smiled. I asked him if he wanted to open it, he said “no, I need to wait”. In the past he would have cried. A little while later I asked him again if he wanted to open his birthday card. He said no. This went on several more times. I put the envelope where he could see it and asked him again if he wanted to open his card, while holding up his hand he said “almost”. About 2 hours after we first showed him the card I asked him if he was ready to open his card and finally he told me “yes” but then he said “no gasping and no saying wow, okay?” We complied and he opened his card with a big smile but kept looking at us, making sure we weren’t going to gasp or say wow. Jake loved his card. This is big on so many levels. You see not that long ago he would scream, run away and hide. He wanted nothing and I mean nothing to do with his or anyone else’s birthday. But this year, Jake’s 5th birthday, he didn’t scream, cry, run away or hide — he spoke his words and told us what he wanted; what he needed. As Jake received more cards and gifts he was great, he knew he would be okay and that we wouldn’t make a big deal out of what he was doing. He opened his gifts with a HUGE smile; a first for him.

5th Birthday

Jake’s favorite show right now is Blue’s Clues. He loves this show and especially the part where they skidoo (jump) into a picture or a book. On Jake’s actual birthday he wanted to watch Blue’s Birthday. As I turned it on for him he looked at me and Allie and with a huge smile on his face he said “I have a birthday and Blue has a birthday just like mine!” Okay, I know I keep saying how huge stuff is but seriously, this is really huger than HUGE! Allie and I both melted and said our usual response “Awwww, did you hear that?” (wonder why Jake doesn’t like us to gasp or say wow? ’cause we do it ALL the time – ha!)

We have been on this journey for almost 3 years now and honestly I wondered if Jake would ever talk let alone voice his wants and needs. We went through years of crying, screaming and meltdowns whenever something happened and it was left up to us to figure out the reason for the outburst. Jake can not only tell us his wants and needs but now he is communicating with us; as Allie says ‘like a real kid’. He isn’t just repeating what we say, he has his own words. Jake’s sentences are more complete. This was my Facebook status on February 7th “Those of you that follow Jake and his progress will understand how HUGE this is…Jake was playing and this came out of nowhere ~ Jake: “Once upon a time there was a dog named Maggie. She was a good dog to a boy. The End.” Of course this made me cry, all I could say at the time was WOW!!”

As I sit here and think about what the next 5 years will bring; I am stumped. I seriously have no idea where Jake will be but one thing I do have is hope. Hope for his future and hope for all of the things I wrote off at the beginning of this journey because I was told he won’t ever be able to do those things. I will not underestimate my child; I will give him every tool necessary to help him be the best he can be.

I can’t wait to see what the next 5 years brings 🙂

Editors Note: The only part of Jake’s birthday he hated (this was the only time he cried, ran and hid) was seeing his birthday “cake”. He still hates cake so we thought we would get him a birthday donut as they are his favorite. That was a no go…we will try again next year!

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Happy Birthday, Jake!!

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It is hard for me to believe that this little guy is 5 today!  Who knew how much joy and love he would bring to our family? We are so blessed by his personality; blessed by his precious smile and so very thankful that he came into our lives!

When we brought Jake home from the hospital I remember looking at him and wondering what he would be like in 5 years.  And although Jake is a totally different child than the one I thought he might be, I honestly wouldn’t trade this journey for anything! Jake is a very happy boy and he loves to sing! His favorite songs right now are ‘You Are My Sunshine’ and ‘Jesus Loves Me’. I love his little high-pitched voice so much and we can’t help but smile whenever he sings. Jake is funny and loves to make us laugh! Anytime he sees us laughing at something he has done he will do it over and over again trying to get the us to laugh. His favorite show, as of today, is Blue’s Clues and he will switch up the lyrics to the song singing “We are looking for Jake’s clues…” . Jake also loves to dance while watching any of his shows. When a song comes on he will get up and dance and often say “mommy, dance with me.” Jake is so smart and probably knows so much more than we even realize; as his speech improves I am certain he will blow us away!

I could go on and on but I won’t bore you about my perfect kid 🙂  Seriously, we are SO blessed to be given the opportunity to raise this boy. Blessed that our lives are far different from the life we could have imagined. We are so thankful for friends and family who support us daily as we help Jake be the best he can be.

Happy Birthday, Jakey!  We love you so much! And we can’t wait to see what the next 5 years bring!

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