reading, writing, arithmetic

I haven’t blogged much about Bug’s academic life lately – not because there isn’t a lot going on in my mind about it – but mostly because I’ve been in denial. I keep trying to chalk it up to coincidence or lucky guesses, but it keeps happening consistently, so it’s time to face it.

Bug can read. He can read most 2 and 3 letter words, and can work to sound out longer ones. He can write almost every letter of the alphabet and has been writing his name [unprompted] for months now. He can write out his brother’s name, “Mommy,” and “Daddy.” He can count to at least thirty [he gets bored after that], and can do simple addition and subtraction.

He’s 3.5. These are skills that kindergarteners and 1st graders are working on.

I knew the boy was smart, but I’m just now realizing how far ahead he is.

According to the research I’ve been able to find, his skills are all indicators that he’s gifted. In fact, he’s actually considered highly gifted, but I personally think 3 years old is probably too young to accurately make that determination.

There’s definitely a part of me that’s thrilled, excited, and just a tad proud. When I was pregnant I read that eating Omega-3 can help your baby’s brain develop, so I ate a lot of flax seed. Clearly, there’s a correlation. I mean, that’s the only logical explanation I see.

[I hope you know I’m just kidding. I just think it’s fun to take all the “credit.”]

But the more I research, talk to parents who have traveled this path, and seek advice from educators, the more I’m a little fearful for the boy. Bug very likely has a road of frustrations ahead of him. Unless we decide to skip him a grade or two, we’ll probably be figuring out how to stop him from misbehaving out of boredom for many years to come. It’s possible that making friends his own age will prove difficult, because play time with those friends can easily bore him. We’re probably facing many years of teachers being frustrated with him.

Many of the symptoms of being highly gifted actually mirror autism [which was on my radar, though we’ve been assured by the school’s specialist that Bug isn’t autistic], so we deal with the extreme experiences of emotions, the over-excitability, the social seclusion, and the resistance to change that parents of autistic children deal with.

So I’m not sure what this new information will mean, or even if it will have any major impact on our lives. I can already tell though, that having a better idea of how Bug’s mind works helps me have more patience for his tornado-like tendencies, and I can only pray that he feels more understood and better loved.

Because the truth is – no matter how much or little they know, no matter how well or poorly they behave, no matter what challenges or joys we face while parenting them – those boys have stolen my heart.

Totally and completely.


a new addition to the family

I cannot believe I’ve forgotten to introduce you to the newest [very important] addition to our family.

Internet, meet Hee-Hee:

Shawn brought Hee-Hee home several months ago from his trip to Austin, TX. When he saw the sweet monkey, it immediately reminded him of our Bear – what with the big eyes and pudgy tummy and all. Bear was instantly smitten. If I remember correctly, Bear delightfully grabbed the monkey out of Shawn’s hands and cuddled it to his cheek.

And a friendship was born. We asked C. Bear what he wanted to name his newest favorite toy, and Bear answered, “Hee-Hee.” Yes, that’s right. Bug has a Mee-Hee, and Bear has Hee-Hee. I think it’s kind of perfect.

Hee-Hee is dragged through the house, dropped down the stairs, sprinkled with dirt, and squished on pretty much a daily basis. Yet he still remains Bear’s constant companion. 

Hee-Hee cuddles with Bear every nap and bed time, and occasionally even takes trips to the store with us. We’ve learned that Hee-Hee enjoys being fed peanut butter bagel and likes to make the rounds to get kisses from all family members. Even Dallas.

Just like their “owners,” Mee-Hee and Hee-Hee are pretty much the best of friends. I like to think they trade war stories and offer advice to one another, but all I know for sure is they are loved. More than they know.

command central

You may remember a recent post about my bi-weekly cleaning schedule, and the sanity such a simple list is bringing to my home. While reading that post, you may have thought to yourself, “That Jen. She sure loves a good list. I wonder if she might have a touch of OCD.”

Well, my friends – prepare to wonder no more. You see, that cleaning schedule is just one cog in my home organization station. There is actually an entire wall of our kitchen that is devoted solely to my OCD and passionate love of list-making.

I call it….

My Command Center

She’s a beauty, isn’t she?

On the far left, you’ll see two cubes labeled “Out” and “In.” These are for mail that is stamped and needs to go out to the mailbox, or for mail that has come in that needs to be sorted. The “Out” cube also holds my mace spray. It’s partly because it’s high enough that the boys can’t reach it – even with a stool – and partly because I remember where it is by remembering that I would use it to keep unwanted guests out.

Whatever, it works.

You’ll also see a Dollar Store frame with burlap. I use that frame for random things, though right now it’s serving as a reminder of five character traits I love about Shawn. Below that is my running pantry list. When we run out of something I just add it to this list and things are rarely forgotten. 

And just so you’re aware, salsa verde is a very important condiment in our life. If you haven’t yet experienced it, you should probably run to the store and get some right now. When I did finally get some, Shawn pretended to drink the salsa with a straw. I think he secretly wanted to actually get out a straw.

The main focus of My Command Center is my weekly blackboard list. You can see that I make a new list every week, and typically divide my tasks up by what day they need to be done. The list is written in backwards order so I can wipe the tasks off the bottom as they’re completed.  I probably took this photo on Monday night since Monday’s tasks are already gone.

And then to the right of My Command Center you’ll find my cleaning schedule, the “to-do” cube, and my magnet board. The magnet board is really an old cookie sheet covered in fabric, and it holds important phone numbers, our meal list, my garden plot outline, and our summer learning curriculum. The “to-do” cube mostly holds pens and a sticky pad, but it’s also a place to put papers, etc. to which I need to attend.

To the right of this area is our family calendar, which of course holds events, meetings, appointments, and plans. Underneath the entire sha-bang is a curtain rod with hooks. On it we put Bug’s backpack, jacket, and keys.

It’s definitely not perfect, but it HAS reduced a lot of clutter and stress. I don’t waste time in the mornings wondering what I should try to get done that day. All I have to do is glance at the wall and set to work accomplishing. Putting together My Command Center [yes, I’m going to keep capitalizing it] took a lot of thought and planning, but it saves me TONS of thought and planning on a weekly and daily basis. Shawn doesn’t use it much, though it’s helpful that he knows exactly where to look if he wants to know what meals we have left to make, or he knows where to write a request for the next grocery list.

So go ahead and make fun of me, I don’t care. A little organization goes a long way, my friends.

And  a lot of organization? Well, that’s just downright fun.

frivolous friday



cradle c”r”ap

I had written about Bug’s fascination and ongoing conversations with the sign above his changing table. I thought you’d like to see how animated he is –

His little arms and legs go crazy when he’s smiling at his sign.

“Oh sign, only you understand me.”

Bug had his two month well check-up today! This check up included the dreaded shots, and I found myself a little anxious as we left for the appointment. He was weighed first (10 lbs, 4 oz), measured (21.5 inches), and his head circumference was measured (15 something inches, I think). Our doctor told us that Bug’s in the 25th percentile for his height and weight (he’s in normal range and most breastfed babies are in the lower percentiles until they start solid food).
His head, however, is in the 75th percentile. Dr. Rogers assured us that this is also absolutely normal and looks great. You have to realize, however, that Shawn has been making fun of me for my big head since we’ve been dating. His amusement was further fueled when he saw toddler pictures of me and realized that I’ve always had a rather large head. Please know that his jokes are completely out of love and that I don’t take them personally – I suppose my head IS pretty roundish. That being said – Shawn has been telling J. bug for weeks now that he has his mother’s head. It would appear that Shawn was right! Personally, I think toddlers with large heads are adorable. 🙂
J. Bug also has something funky going on with his belly button – I think it’s a herniated belly button, actually. The doctor said that’s perfectly normal and that it’ll end up being an innie. In the meantime, it’s kind of like a thermometer…the more angry he gets the more it pokes straight out! Since it’s nothing serious, it’s pretty amusing to us.
I suppose I should explain why I’ve titled this blog Cradle Crap, huh? As of late, Bug’s developed a case of cradle cap, which is just basically baby dandruff and is pretty typical in infants. Perhaps it’s my lack of sleep…perhaps it’s pregnancy brain still run amuck…perhaps I’m just a doofus…but I cannot seem to say “Cradle Cap.” No matter how hard I try, “Cradle Crap” is what comes out! Ah well – the doctor says baby oil and baby shampoo should take care of it. 😉
At the end of the visit, the time for Bug’s shots had come. I let Shawn take J. Bug, watch him get stuck, and comfort him – I knew I’d probably cry just as hard as our son if I did it. We were actually pretty surprised with how well he did. He cried a heartbreaking cry at first, but calmed down pretty quickly! He even has adorable Garfield bandaids to prove just how brave he was!


we have smiles!

J. Bug is getting this smiling thing down pat! Good thing, too – he’s got a cute one. His favorite toy right now is his Baby Einstein playmat, so I thought I’d include a few pictures of him smiling there.
That baby in the mirror IS pretty funny.

I’ve begun playing a game with Bug that results in huge smiles from both of us. It involves J. Bug laying on his back while I put my face close enough to his that he can reach out and touch me. Bug kicks his little legs and swings his little hands until he can figure out how to touch my mouth, which is when I basically smother his hand in kisses. While he hasn’t made much of a noise yet, he throws his head back and the smiles pretty much overtake his face. Go ahead and make fun, but seriously – it’s the best fifteen minutes of my day.
Along those same lines, he’s getting better about learning hand/eye coordination and is getting pretty good at reaching what he’s trying to get. Shawn will set Bug on his lap and put his hand out, palm up – slightly to the left of Jude. He’ll reach out and “high-five” Shawn. Then Shawn will put his right hand up, and after a few tries, Bug will high-five Shawn’s right hand. He’ll keep switching hands for a good ten to fifteen minutes and J. Bug will eventually get to where he can get the switched hand the first time. I think that kind of coordination might be a little bit advanced for his age, but I’m not sure.
I seem to have a lot of people asking me how cloth diapering is going lately. My theory is that they thought we’d give up after a month, so they’re asking to see if they were right. I’m pretty proud to report that cloth diapering is still going really well. Bug is in cloth diapers all the time except at night (so we don’t have to change him in the middle of the night, hopefully encouraging him to sleep through the night) and occasionally when we’re out (though we’re keeping him in cloth more and more even in those cases). In his two months of life, we’ve had to buy one pack of newborn diapers. Right now, he’s in size One diapers and we’ve been using the same pack for at least two weeks now- and we’re only halfway through it. You can imagine that my thrifty little heart just beams at those savings!
Because he’s also not using formula, the only thing we buy on a regular basis for him is wipes. We bought an economy pack several weeks ago, but once we go through those, I think I might try to make wipes. You can bet that Shawn will think I’m crazy for doing so, but he’s always excited about the money I’m able to save. I’ve not found that washing the diapers is particularly annoying, at least not yet. They wash completely clean (the poo of breastfed babies is water soluble, so it just dissolves and there’s no trace of poop in the washing machine at all – I promise!) and since it’s been too rainy to hang them up outside, I hang them on the back of our kitchen chairs for a few hours and they’re good to go. At this point, I think I wash diapers twice a week – though I think that will lessen once he’s big enough to be in the diapers Mama and Papa bought him, we have several more of those than we have of the ones I made.
I’m also extremely proud to report that breastfeeding is going well. It really did get ten times easier at six weeks, and seems to only get less painful as each week passes. I think my biggest complaint right now is that I’m not getting much sleep. A couple of times a week, Shawn will feed him a bottle of pumped milk so that I can sleep a bit longer in the mornings, but I’m still operating on about four (he DID sleep for six hours two nights in a row and we’re working on getting back to that schedule) hours of sleep a night. Let me clarify – I know this is a lot more than many moms of infants this age are getting. I’m grateful for the sleep that I do get, but two months of sleep deprivation can get to a girl! My friend Monica told me that she made it through her daughter’s first three months of life by repeating the mantra, “To everything there is a season, and this too shall pass.” While I love everything else about this stage, I’ve found myself repeating Monica’s mantra to myself on many a sleepless night. Soon enough, he’ll be sleeping through the night, and all I’ll remember about this stage was the first smiles he shared with me.
While I’m completely rambling, can I just say how much more respect I have for mothers of boys? I was so frustrated with Bug one night – all he wanted to do was be held and cuddled by me, and all I wanted to do was be held and cuddled by my pillow and blankets. I couldn’t imagine why the heck he wanted to be held so badly. My mind suddenly flashed forward to thirteen years from now when this same little boy will utter a grumpy “fine,” in response to my queries about school that day and jet straight to his stinky teenage boy bedroom, only to emerge for dinner three hours later. I felt Bug’s one arm around my neck, and the other arm securely tucked under his body. I felt his feet curled up tightly and listened to his breathing. I was reminded that he wanted to be held because he felt safe with his Mom. Realistically, I only have a few more years of cuddling my son before he morphs into an independent little man. I look forward to seeing him becoming a man, I look forward to watching his relationship with Shawn grow, and I look forward to helping him learn the difference between real men and adult males who act like boys. I genuinely do look forward to him maturing, but for now…my little boy needs me.
I make him feel safe. And I will not take that for granted.

bug the unimpressed

Bug is not one to pretend he likes something. He’s not one to follow the crowd if he 1]doesn’t understand why the crowd is doing what they’re doing and 2] doesn’t think what the crowd is doing is fun.

When I do a dance or sing a song, I’m most often met with Bug’s look of vague tolerance. He tilts his head to the side, raises his eyebrows just a bit, and sighs. I can almost hear him saying, “Mom. You keep doing this, and I’ve learned you’re not going to stop. But please. You’re embarrassing yourself.”

When I was in high school, I went to exactly one party. I saw how ridiculous the drinkers looked and how bored the non-drinkers were, and decided it was dumb. I wasn’t going to spend my perfectly good weekend getting wasted, and I wasn’t going to spend my perfectly good years in high school doing stupid things. So I didn’t.

I’m convinced that if we can help Bug look at his choices with a long-term, life-long view, we’ll rarely have to worry about him doing stupid things. He’s a thinker, and I feel strongly that God has plans to use him as a leader. I’m actually really excited to see who he grows up to be!

Until then, I’ll keep doing my dancing and singing silly songs. At least Bear will dance along with me. Bug, in the meantime? Well – he’ll just remain Bug the Unimpressed:

[This video is from Bug’s preschool Christmas play. He’s in the back row – white t-shirt, red scarf around his head. In this four minute video, he yawns three times. My favorite part is the end of the second song. Bug claps unenthusiastically, but when the teacher begins speaking and he realizes it’s not over, he just hangs is head.]


Today I’m remembering what I thought my life would look like. I thought I’d have my master’s degree in counseling, thought I’d be living someplace like New York. I thought I might just now be meeting the man I’d marry, and certainly didn’t think I’d be ready for kids yet.

Today I walked outside in my bare feet and watered my garden. I had to scrape out baby poop from under my fingernails. I didn’t report to a boss, didn’t put on heels and a skirt, didn’t take a subway anywhere. I taught my oldest how to read, I made dinner for my husband, I made my youngest squeal with delight when I chased him. I didn’t earn a paycheck. I knew what my sons were thinking before they even spoke. I saw Bug’s eyes crinkle in delight when I told him a story. I held onto Bear tightly when he fell, and honored his request to kiss his boo-boo. I cuddled with Bug and read him his favorite Curious George story, feeling his heart beating next to mine. I tucked my boys in bed with a prayer, a snuggle, and a kiss.

And we’ll do it all again tomorrow. 


Today I’m grateful that my life isn’t what I thought it’d be.