Posts with category - Lessons from baby Jack

Jack and the umbrella

Look at those two hands, grasping the handle. Look at his little determined face. He is in awe that he has an umbrella.

He loves his umbrella, all the more because it is something of his very own that is more than a toy and somewhat grown-up. He knows how to appreciate cool stuff.

I love this boy.



Our family reading culture and Endless ABC

Yes, Jack plays with my iPad. We like to look through the pictures in my camera roll together, watch little music videos, and play a few games.

A few months ago I downloaded an app that I thought would be fun for Jack. He loves it and interacts with it like crazy! It’s called Endless ABC by Callaway Digital Arts. It is free. Here is a screenshot.


It’s basically a series of interactive flash cards that show words and explode their letters over the screen. You drag them back to where they go and they make silly letter sounds as you drag them. Once you put the word back together there is a celebration and then a cute video with little monster creatures that illustrates the word.


Jack started off by playing one of the words, ‘flop’, over and over again. How many times could I listen to feu, feu, feu, feu? I asked myself… Soon after he started playing that game I saw him finding Fs all over the place. From the car, we’d be stopped in traffic near signs with Fs and he’d shriek feu, feu, feu, feu! Then, when he tried out other words it started to happen with Ns and then other letters.

When he plays Endless ABC he’s constantly making sounds – repeating the words, the letter sounds, and calling out to the creatures in the videos.

Now, at 2 1/2, he absolutely loves letters, their sounds, and their names. When he sees words he scans them for the ones he knows and delights in pointing them out to me and making their sounds.

I know that the game plays a large roll in this. I also know that it is but one aspect. It’s a wonderful tool within a family culture of reading. What else do I do to support reading?

When we put on clothing with words on them, we look for the ones we know. Jack was so excited when he found the F on this shirt!


His crib is filled with books and before any sleep time, he reads a book to me. Ok. Maybe more than one. Sometimes I read to him, sometimes we read to each other.

When we get in the truck, we look for the letters on the dashboard. He first pointed out the FF on the CD player and it grew from there.

His grandfather bought him an alphabet puzzle on a recent trip and we play it together often.

He sits with me when I read my books, sometimes digitally, sometimes on paper, and he watches. And he says, ‘mommy book’.

Our house is covered with books. His and mine.

We celebrate letters, words, and books. When a book gets torn I become ‘mommy book doctor’ and he watches while I tape it back together.

Oh, and when he plays Endless ABC, or any other digital game, we do it together. It is not his babysitter…

So learning to read and to celebrate reading is so much more than an app or a phonics program and Endless ABC is definitely a fun addition to our family reading culture.

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Jack colouring


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Laughing through the busy times

As it happens each year at this time, I begin to write more blog posts as I start to shed the busy-ness of the school year. And, even though I was only working 4 days/week, this had to have been the busiest one yet with the little growing Jack monster by my side to keep me hopping.

If there is one thing (and there are more, believe you me) that Jack has taught me is that a busy life can be lived and loved and I don’t even need a nap to get through it! Even in the busy-ness there is always time to sit and laugh together, it’s what holds me to the people around me. He is changing at breakneck speed, yet at the same time he is always Jack. We sit and laugh together a lot. I love this little boy.

jack laughs :)

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Jack’s Law


Without fail, no matter how long the car trip, Jack will fall asleep 5 minutes before arrival.

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owls and birds, oh my!

So just because I haven’t been posting doesn’t mean I haven’t been up to stuff.

First off, remember my post about how much I love tutoring? Well, I do love it. The thing is, I realized that I wasn’t ready to be away from Jack for even a few hours. I quickly began to resent the preparation, not the tutoring prep, that’s fun :) but the having to pump milk, driving him out to my parents, and then the tired drive home in the evening. And all the while just wanting to hang on the couch with my Jacklet because late afternoon is our best nap time :) So I’ve decided to enjoy my time off with Jack until I really have to go back to work.

Have I told y’all that I love him so very much? Each day he becomes more of who he is. Yesterday he was crying crying crying then noticed his foot and calmed himself down by holding it and looking at it. There’s got to be a lesson from baby Jack in there. Something about stopping to smell the roses and enjoying what we have around us.

Ok, but what have I been up to? I finished the owl! And Jack actually ‘plays’ (to use the term loosely) with it. It’s more like he sucks on it because it’s in the way of his hands, on which he’d probably much rather suck.

mmm owl!

mmm owl!

The ribbons tickle!

The ribbons tickle!

look ma, it says my name!

look ma, it says my name!

And another one just cause he’s such a cutie.

Jack and his owl

Jack and his owl

Here’s the owl on its own, face and bum (and if you think carefully about Jack’s name and where it is embroidered there is a little joke there :) )

Mr Owl leaning against wood bowls

Mr Owl leaning against wood bowls

Mr Owl's bum

Mr Owl's bum

Not only that but I have begun to make some little mobile creatures for over Jack’s bed. Like Mr Owl, they weren’t made with a pattern. I just sat at my sewing machine with a basket of scraps and embroidery floss and away I went. I plan on making a few more. For now they are hanging from the hooks that attach the overhead light to the ceiling but will eventually be part of something bigger – a surprise! – that will be my entry for the Use Your Words contest over at It’s fun embroidering in the words. I’m really appreciating the concept of a ‘backside’ to embroidery and sewing work that is hidden. There is no back side of a painting to hide things behind!

Here is the bird from the front

Here is the bird from the front. She is made of denim from some jeans that no longer 'work'.

owl mobile front

Here is the owl mobile creature from the front. He is made of felt. Is he a bit scary? I only had black and white felt at the time :)

Owl and Bird Mobile from their back sides

Owl and Bird Mobile from their back sides

Bird from under

Here you have an idea of how they are hanging from the light fixture hooks. Tweet!

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Lesson from Baby Jack on the importance of structure

Last night was Dinner Club. Once a month I get together with 9 friends for a warm evening that we all not only look forward to but need in order to stay sane! I find this to be more and more true as I have shifted into being a single mother, the (adult) human interaction is vital for me! Sometime during the month someone sends out an email saying it’s time, we decide on who will host and what the theme will be, choose what part of the meal each of us will bring (except for the host, all she does is provide the house!) (which is sometimes a great opportunity to actually clean said house comme il faut – I know I certainly appreciate that when I get to host). 

It really is magical when good friends make getting together a priority.

Last night’s theme was Thai – holy delicious food! (Wait, Lori – are Margaritas Thai? ;) I had the best of plans to make a mango sweet sticky rice dessert but decided to nap yesterday afternoon instead so bought some mango ice cream, sliced up the mangos, and voila – dessert! (btw, PC Mango Ice Cream is quite delish)

I’ve been a part of the dinner club for 4 1/2 years. I became a part of it in a unique way that has convinced me that certain things are definitely meant to be. 5 years ago this coming September my friend Liane invited me to her house for dinner club. She said that sometimes a guest is invited to join them and I was excited because I had heard so many great things about it from her and few other friends who also did dinner club. 2 weeks later Liane fell down in her dining room and never got up. There was no question for me that I would continue with dinner club and every month I thank Liane for having invited me to dinner that September. I can’t imagine my life right now without it. Really.

I think I’ve gone a little off topic. C’est la vie.

Back to the lesson from baby Jack. He reminded me about the importance of structure. And how structure is not just about activity but about environment as well.

For the past week or so Jack and I have started a mini-routine where he goes to bed at 8 or so until at least midnight before he wakes to eat. I figured he’d just do the same thing at Lori’s house. Wrong. He did manage to snooze for 45 minutes or so in Tara’s arms but basically, instead of settling down for 4 hours or so he wanted to eat every 30 minutes. But it was the ‘I don’t know what else to do with myself’ kind of eating that I’ve come to recognize in him when he is overstimulated or over tired. He was at a different house with a bunch of people, when usually it’s just me and him at our place.

So what’s the lesson? Remembering that when kids are used to a routine any differentiation from it can be disorienting for them. This is particularly true for our students with Autism or special needs. Often it is that routine that keeps them going throughout their day and without it they can lose track of where they are in the world, as if they lose their anchor and float away. Important lesson when preparing for a substitute teacher or when dealing with any kind of change in the classroom, new classmates, new teacher, or coming back from/about to leave for a long break.

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Jack: the world’s youngest volunteer? :)

Today Jack and I are going to spend some time helping out at the high school program where I used to work before changing schools. I love that place. It is filled with heart, hope, and perseverance. Sometimes I can’t believe that I chose to leave it but when I remind myself of  the travel time each day I remember why I did so.

Now that I am not working I find myself going a little stir crazy. Last week I went to the school for a visit and while I was there came up with the idea of volunteering once or twice a week. I asked the head teacher about it and she said that an extra adult body is always a good thing and that bringing Jack along was fine. So we are heading out there today for a few hours.

What better place for Jack to spend some time? He’ll listen to some kids read, maybe. Hopefully he’ll help to make someone feel good today :)


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On planning

Plans. I always have great plans. But are they truly great if I overplan and, by so doing, set myself up not to achieve what I had planned?

Hence the next lesson from a newborn – realistic, satisfying plans.

Jack forces me to look at my day as chunks of time – every 2-3 hours it’s D.E.A.N –> Drop Everything and Nurse. And somewhere within the non-nursing time I need to make sure that I have food (not chips and cookies but good protein and carbs) and water at the ready for when it is time to feed.

I want to do so much – vacuum (believe it or not), clean out that spare room which is getting overrun as the dumping ground, decorate his room, tidy, dust, laundry, get a haircut, play with the dogs, write, take a shower, paint,  make those cute baby shoes I saw on prudentbaby,com … you get the picture.

All of those things (and more) are in the back of my head all the time as priorities and I generally get very little done because I am just so overwhelmed by everything I want to get done.

I need to admit that this often happens in the classroom as well. I have so many great plans that don’t come to fruition because I plan to do too much at once. So instead of doing one thing great we do many things ok. Yuck. Or I beat myself up because I’m not achieving what I have planned.

It’s time to practice realistic planning aka planning with a purpose.

For today:

DIY recycled baby shoesTask: Make baby shoes

Purpose: I need to do something creative, with my hands.

Task: Open new bank account (easy, I have an appointment at 12)

Purpose: Need a bank account for Jack

Task: Finish putting together crib (easy, Keith is coming over to help after the bank appointment)

Purpose: To organize Jack’s room, to create less clutter in one space.

So that’s it. I plan to achieve 3 things today. The balance of the noise in my head can keep calm and carry on waiting for another day.

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