Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Gum-Chewer

It's official: David is now allowed to chew gum.

During the past few years, as David has become aware of the wonders of chewing gum (not to mention the delight of bubble gum - oh, joy!), we rather arbitrarily told him that when he was five years old, he could chew gum. The reason we didn't let him chew it back when he first started asking about it was because, not only did we not want him to swallow it, we also didn't want to find wads of chewing gum in various and sundry places around the house.

A number of months ago, as his fifth birthday approached, we started talking to David about the need for him to stop sucking his thumb. We told him that when he was five, he would not be allowed to suck his thumb anymore, but that he would be able to chew gum. Bribery? Maybe. Or maybe just a worthwhile trade-off. In any case, that boy made up his mind a while back to stop sucking his thumb and DID IT. All by himself. No reminders. No punishment. No withholding of privileges. No parental involvement. He would occasionally ask, "Have you noticed that I didn't suck my thumb today?" and we would give him lots of affirmation for that. In reality, I was pleasantly shocked and am SO PROUD of him for his self-control in this area. He definitely did better with breaking this habit by himself than I did when I was his age. I needed a little "parental involvement" to kick my habit of thumb-sucking! :)

Waaaaayyyy down near the bottom of this post, there's a picture of David last evening, running away from the pinata group and towards the camera with a look of glee on his face, holding up one item in his left hand. It's a piece of bubble gum from the pinata; and his excited exclamation of "look, Mom, I got bubble gum!" (while holding one piece - meanwhile, other kids were gathering a whole bagful of candy and gum) still sounds in my memory. The defining characteristic of turning five, it seems, is that he gets to chew gum.

Becky L. saw David's jubilation last night about the gum, so she and two of her boys showed up on our doorstep this morning with a huge amount of gumballs for David - such thoughtful friends! After they left, David said enthusiastically, "There must be 100 gumballs here!" Josiah said, "No, more like 300!" I think David's chewed 10 or 12 gumballs already. Since it was his birthday, I told him that he could chew it for a while, spit it out, then get another he did. Repeatedly. Oh, to have the heart of a child and be thrilled by such simple pleasures!


Today I took some time to download, sort through, and do a little editing on the pictures Emily took yesterday (here is her post with pictures from this shoot). It took me a while; but 500+(!) pictures later, here I am with some beautiful gems. :)

I should probably title this section, "The Longest Blog Post I've Ever Done" or "More Pictures of David Than You've Ever Wanted to See." Since I don't scrapbook or even get pictures printed out very often, this is my only consistent way of and place for recording memories, so when I saw ALL THESE PICTURES that I liked, I had a hard time limiting myself and only including a few. So there are a lot. Feel free to skim through, scroll down, whatever. I'll enjoy them immensely every time I see them. :)
The picture below includes Tobin and me in the background, and the reason I like this is because it reminds me that when I was walking around the house and saw David on the steps, I automatically assumed that it was Josiah because that green shirt used to be his. This was the first time that David wore it; I pulled it out of a storage box that had the summer shirts he'll wear this coming summer because the first shirt he was wearing on this day got some noticeable dirt on it so he had to change before getting his picture taken. It literally wasn't until I saw these pictures that Emily had taken that I realized that "hey, that wasn't Josiah; that was David!" :)

David's at a stage of finding it difficult to give a natural smile when he knows his picture is being taken. Emily was great about letting him make goofy faces (we have LOTS of pictures of those!), but then she managed to capture some nice expressions in between the silliness! :)

I like these shots in the tree. (That's a "duh" statement - of course, I do; otherwise, I wouldn't have included them!) :)
The picture below just makes me laugh: little Tobin trying to figure out what David was doing so he could be part of it, too!

In the picture below, I catch a glimpse of the David-who-was-a-toddler. He has changed so much in the past three years, but this picture reminds me of the darling little two-year-old that he was.
It's hard to take pictures of more than one person at a time, especially when they're boys who aren't particularly skillful and cooperative in front of a camera. The following two pictures make me smile. "Hello, would anyone like to look at Emily??" :)

Below is one of the silly pictures: I can't help but laugh when I see this. What is he trying to express in this picture?

Oh, yes, a picture of Josiah snuck in here. Good!


Emily took lots of pictures of David on the swings, and I love them. If swings aren't the perfect symbol for happy, carefree childhood fun, I don't know what is.
One of David's many facial expressions. He certainly can communicate without words!
This is the first of many feet pictures. Be warned...many more feet ahead. :)
But first, an interesting photo of Tobin holding out a leaf that's stuck to his thumb.

I liked this one of Tobin and Joelle.

The photo above and the one below are two of my very favorite from this shoot. I just love them, especially the one below.
Here come the feet...

See how the metal bar is coming up between his big toe and the rest of them? :)


I really liked the action shots that Emily got. They're appropriate, I suppose, since David is often in motion. :)

The first five include Wanita, one of "the girls" who live next door to us. I know the kids were playing with a frisbee; and although I don't know exactly what was going on when Emily took these pictures, I can imagine that David and Wanita were both chasing a frisbee and when Wanita got to it first, maybe David was trying to convince her to give the frisbee to him so he could throw it? Maybe. Maybe not. :)


Now to the "non-professional" pictures!

Last evening at the potluck, we honored David by singing "Happy Birthday" to him, having a pinata, eating birthday cake (that he helped me design and make, including the blue icing AND the green icing AND the round sprinkles AND the long sprinkles!), and singing worship songs that he chose. Jeff had originally talked about making a pinata, but time ran late Wednesday night, Jeff was at Wal-Mart looking for a pinata. The choices were limited, so SpongeBob came home with Jeff. Here David gets ready to whack him.
Even Tobin had a turn.
And Josiah. As well as some of the other kids who were here. I'm not sure who finally got a big enough hole in SpongeBob for the candy to come out - one of the older boys probably.
And then the candy frenzy began. Here is David in his "look, Mom, bubble gum!" moment.
And then cake, with faithful Josiah by David's side to watch carefully over everything. Speaking of Josiah, when he signed David's birthday card today, he wrote without any prompting, "Josiah, your best friend." It makes my heart sing. :)

The festivities continued today with various treats for David (like not having to do his part of emptying the dishwasher, not having to eat all the food on his plate for lunch, etc.). Tonight after Jeff got off work, we went to Chick-fil-A - our Plan B - Plan A was going to the park with friends, but the weather turned chilly and windy so we abandoned that in favor of an indoor playground! Then we came home where David finally - oh, finally! - got to open his presents. :) The favorites so far are a glow-in-the-dark drawing board and a Star Wars "laptop" with various games - educational and otherwise - on it. I think it's been a happy birthday for our beloved David.

Before I end, let me mention a few things that stand out about David at this age. First, he has recently started doing a tremendous job with making his bed in the morning. That's been one of his chores for quite a while, but suddenly he's transitioned from the haphazard tug-on-the-quilt-a-little-and-call-it-"made" kind of job to one that's really exemplary: straight, flat, smooth, even tucked into the siderails of his bed. I'm really proud of him.

And speaking of proud, I am amazed at how well he is learning to read. I hope to write more about this some other time - maybe when I get a chance to do a wrap-up of our homeschool year - but I'll just say now that he is about 2/3 of the way through the book How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and he gets it. He really gets it. He even has a little notebook for his reading record that he can use to write down books that he reads (and then he gets paid a dime by Grandpa for each book), and so far he's read one "real" book: No, David by David Shannon. :) David, learning to read at age four? I would have gently scoffed at the idea - until January, that is, when I finally gave into his pleading and started teaching him and saw how well he grasped it. What a joyful surprise!

In personality, David continues to be out-going, loving, affectionate, friendly to the nth degree. He quickly warms up to people; and if we have a guest over, it's usually not long until David is sitting in his/her lap. When I remember how shy I was as a child, I am blown away by David's boldness and speed in making friends. It is a gift from God, and I pray he always uses it for God's purposes. He's a ray of sunshine, that's for sure!

At night recently, when I hug David goodnight, he'll ask me to do the "I love you this much" game. I say the phrase "I love you this much!" and stretch my arms out from side to side as far as I can reach. I repeat the phrase while stretching my arms as high as they can go; then I say it once more as I wrap my arms around him and give him a big hug. After I do that, he'll say it back to me; but instead of doing each motion once, he'll do them each twice, three times, or even more. His reason? He wants to prove to me that he loves me more than I love him. When he's done with all his repetitions, I'll say, "That's a lot of love!" And he'll remind me that it's more than what I expressed to him. He really, really wants me to admit that he loves me more; but I can't do it. Because, after all, only God could love him more than I do.

Before you become a parent, you can't fathom the depth of love for your child. As hard as you try, you just can't grasp it. I'm blessed to have experienced that overwhelming, incomprehensible love with all of my boys; but on this day, I particularly give thanks for the blessing of having David as my son and the privilege of loving him. As I've thought back to David's birth story and have relived the events of that most special day, I'm filled with gratitude for the five incredible years we've had together...and I look forward with great anticipation to what the future will bring as he continues to grow and mature.

On this day, David Dear, happy, happy birthday! You are truly beloved!!!


Morning said...

Lovely photos -- that misty one of David on the swing is so full of emotion. Aren't birthdays fun when they're for little people? We're so lucky to be a part of their world!

Jolanthe said...

I was looking at the picture of the leaf on Tobin's thumb and thinking ~ we have a shirt just like that.

Duh! :)

Mike and Katie said...

Love it! All the wonderful photos! I, too, have an extremely hard time deleting any photos of my kids. They all express so many different cute moments. The bubble gum thing is so sweet! And congrats on the reading. Tony started reading about a month before he was four. When they want to learn it goes so well. It was the motivation and confirmation I needed to continue homeschooling. I was the most anxious about teaching them to read because that it such a foundation.

Is the neighbor girl wearing a costume or is that just common for her family? She's very cute and the picture of them running is great!

Karen said...

Beautiful pictures! Your kids are growing so much. Happy birthday to David, it goes by so fast doesn't it?!

Elizabeth said...

He's so cute! I got to have him in Eagle's Nest last Sunday. We had another little boy whose birthday was actually that day. When he told us that it was his birthday, I suggested we sing Happy Birthday. David mentioned that his birthday was in just 5 days. So, we did a lot of singing. It was so fun.

Sally said...

This is incredible! Your little boy is ADORABLE, and you know how to make a 5-year birthday tremendously special for a little boy. He is so blessed to have you for his mommy. I love his reading progress! I believe I will have to borrow that book when you're finished using it with him.

Davene said...


To answer your question about the neighbor girl... She is not wearing a costume. Her family is Old Order Mennonite, so the women and girls wear (homemade) dresses and bonnets, and they don't have cars but instead drive horse and buggies. They are WONDERFUL neighbors, and my boys have so much fun playing with them, regardless of the fact that our lifestyles are different. :)

Patti said...

Well, this made me cry. Several times. "Josiah, your best friend"--what a gift.

I also told Harper she could have gum when she turned five. Now that it is a month away, I'm wondering about the wisdom of that proclamation, which seemed so far away when I promised it. Alas, she talks about it once a day so I think I must follow through.

I still sucked my thumb when I was seven. I quit cold turkey the night before I was scheduled to go into the hospital for a minor surgery. I remember specifically thinking that I didn't want the nurses and doctors to think I was a baby.

I especially love the feet photos.

Margie said...

Great pictures and stories! Worth the read. I'm glad to know that it must be around Five that unposed pictures get hard to capture. And his joy at the gum is fantastic.

Happy 5th Birthday, David!