Yesterday morning when Nathan woke up we told him it was his birthday. His response: “Cake! Candles! Ice cream!” followed by a super excited and drawn out, “haaappppy!”
“You’re happy about your birthday?” Very enthusiastic head nod.
We decided the night before to celebrate in the evening to give us a little more time to prepare. Emily helped me wrap presents and label who they are from. We hung up the birthday banner, made a crown, cleaned up the table, and then the rest of the downstairs for good measure.
When it was time to come inside to make dinner Nathan was thrilled to come in when we told him it was time to celebrate his birthday (“cake! candles! ice cream! cake! cake!”). We had pancakes, Nathan’s shaped as a 2 and N, and told the story of his birth and what we appreciate about him. As soon as he saw them he used his hand like a knife and said, “Cut, cut” until I brought over a fork and chopped it up. There was a moment of panic that happens every time when he followed “cut” with “big” in a sob. This is redirected by saying, “Now you have two, one for each hand” which brings an immediate smile of relief, or like last night, “Now you can dip them.” He was plenty hungry and nothing Emily suggested sped up his dinner to get to presents sooner.
Once everyone was finished, Emily led him over to his presents and very thoughtfully helped him. She was just the right amount of involved, giving him tips or a little tear if he got stuck. He chose to open the present from Grandma Blomquist first which had sports wrapping paper on it. He commented all day about the balls and hats on it, which continued during the unwrapping. When he opened the envelope he exclaimed, “Elephant!…Balloons! Balloons!” As he uncovered the present he repeated, “Animals” which was appropriate because it was a Noah’s Ark quiet bag. He have having so much fun with Noah we quickly facetimed Grandma Blomquist so she could join us for a few minutes.
Emily had thoughtfully chosen to give Nathan her old wallet because she just barely bought a new one with her money. She was so excited to give it to him and had spent a long time getting it wrapped just right during the day, even leaving a starting spot for him. He was a little distracted by the animals and didn’t really register that she gave him this special wallet so that the could each have one. Hopefully it will sink in when they are playing today.
Andrew and I (but Andrew did all the manual labor) gave him a board to add to the pickler triangle. We still need to glue rungs onto one side to create a ladder/plank but the slide side was a huge hit yesterday. The kids played for a long time climbing up and sliding down, taking turns very well too. I think we are just about set for winter!
Nathan also got a book about Rocks and Minerals from Emily (which we had picked out – she likes to choose her own gifts I’m learning). He sat down immediately to read it until he realized Emily was still playing with the board and jumped up to join her.
We had banana “ice cream” with homemade chocolate granola. Nathan was so excited to blow out his candles. His first attempt put his lip on the flame and he exclaimed, “hot” with a confused face. I quickly slid around to help him, and he was excited when the candle when out.
I’ve missed recording so many of the little changes and growing Nathan has done this year. Right now we are just more and more in love with this boy of ours who loves life, laughing, and his independence.
He didn’t speak hardly at all and then all at once he had a huge vocabulary full of meaning. It took me a little bit to realize that he was actually telling me things that had happened or he had seen, not just saying random words. Before he was talking he was super expressive. He said yes by nodding his head and opening and closing his mouth at the same time. I thought that when he started talking the facial expressions would fade away, but they have only become more emphatic and animated (although it is hard to capture them on camera).
Common recent words this week include, “Backwards!” “Self!” and a grumpy “I don’t want to.” Favorite topics of discussion are dumpsters and how they are emptied by the garbage truck by pulling it back and dumping it; people working on the roof and climbing up ladders to get there; his coughing (big or little) and people coughing in general when we are out and about; what he hears (planes, trucks, cars, ambulance, fire trucks); King Jack and the Dragon and the thing, fighting battles, the beasts, dragons, and big snack in the story, and recently that it is scary (but he laughs); the fire station; big vans and trucks; things he sees in the sky (eagles, clouds birds); and people’s comings and goings, particularly if cars are involved; playing at the playground and climbing on the monkey bars.
He and Emily also spend a lot of time saying/doing silly things and laughing. They both love laughing together. In the last few weeks their playing and interaction has increased dramatically. Last Saturday they played quietly for a couple of hours around the house, but mostly under the Pickler Triangle which had been covered with hammocks and filled with carefully selected items.
I often find him around the house figuring out how something goes together or comes apart. He has great visual/spacial awareness and is able to put together puzzles quickly without thinking about the content and just how the shapes fit. We haven’t really talked much about colors or shapes directly and it is surprising how much he has picked up casually when he casually tosses a description in in conversation.
He loves balls and playing catch. His preference is if we sit on the couch and throw it up high, or if he and Andrew lay down on the ground and Andrew makes the ball touch the ceiling. He knows the difference between the basketball, soccer ball, and football and cares about which one we are playing with. He throughs straight and hard and has added kicking to the mix.
Another favorite is playing with trains. He spends hours putting his “tracks” together. Emily taught him that they can close instead of going on in a straight line, and now he gets a little bit frustrated if he can’t figure out how to make them do that. Fortunately Emily usually jumps in to help.
Nathan spends hours looking at books. He prefers to be covered by his monkey blanket while he is reading (or going to bed), and it can’t be backwards or fall off. He only takes naps about half of the week, but even if he isn’t sleeping he stays in his bed the entire time reading (usually an hour and a half, unless Emily gets him out to play). Pillows and comfort are a priority and he likes to be comfortable. I’ll find him lying all over the house in makeshift beds when he is tired.
Drawing/writing is also something Nathan has a surprisingly long attention span for. He draws lots of balls and, lately, carefully drawn lines. If Andrew or I are close by he asks on repeat for us to draw a car, truck, or house for him. Emily can sometimes step in as a substitute.
We started praying with Nathan a little while ago. On his own he interjected being grateful for “temples” and “Christ” from the very beginning. He insists we read scriptures at breakfast “scrib-tures” and loves to find pictures of Jesus and God anywhere and everywhere.