learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Tag: birthday

5 Years of Learning

Before I get into this post just a reminder that we are trying to help Madison at Madison’s Adventures finish her fundraising to meet her own Brooklyn! You can read her story and donate here: https://www.razoo.com/story/4-Paws-For-Madison

babywithpuppy_markedFive years ago a little boy stormed into my life and changed everything. He wasn’t even born yet and he was writing his own agenda; charting his own course. There’s a due date? That doesn’t work for me, I’ll arrive when I’m ready… or when you evict me because I fell asleep and forgot to leave. I’m supposed to grow how fast and on what curve? Throw that out the window! Oh, you think you have when I’ll walk and talk scheduled? Well I’ll tell you what I think of that… When I dang well feel like it!

And that’s been how J-Bear does J-Bear his entire life so far.

dynamicduo_markedHe has worked so hard in the past year. He met his best friend Brooklyn last October and formed a unique and immediate bond with her. Brooklyn had an atypical 4 Paws story. She never had a traditional foster, only prison. She was considered feisty and stubborn. She is 70lbs of sass, silly and most of all love. She could not have been better matched to her boy and we miss her incredibly while she’s back at 4 Paws training.

The day Brooklyn came home, life changed. The entire world we knew shifted and it shifted for the better. J has grown such confidence in himself. He initiates conversations with new children and occasionally adults. He says “hi!” and even looks after people who seem to need help, displaying an intense and deep sense of empathy for those around him. He helps those smaller than him, studies those bigger than him and accepts each person exactly as they are. It is an unfettered, joyful and amazing way of looking at the world, one I hope lasts for a very long time.

selfie_markedHe has braved doctor visits, receiving glasses and even getting x-rays. He has talked on the phone, learned to work a computer at school and made true friends. There is no one apart from the station itself that knows Nick Jr’s lineup better than J, nor does another soul likely know the name of all the characters as well as him. It’s kind of scary the knowledge he retains… Scary and impressive.

This little boy who started out as a sweet, snuggly, smiling baby has grown into a rambunctious, loving and caring boy. Today, he chose a special new stuffie for himself that looks just like his beloved Brooklyn. He picked out a bed, a leash, a collar and a bowl for her too. The moment we were in the car, he was cuddling her and said “Brookie sick”. I asked what was wrong. He answered “Brookie belly”….

firsthaircut_markedNothing is missed. Nothing is overlooked by him. He listens and understands everything around him, filing it away for when the knowledge may be useful. He understands Brooklyn’s being away better than others may expect. He even surprised me with his depth of understanding as until today, he’s not said anything directly about it outside asking for her. It reinforces that I will never stop explaining things to him with care and reason, never dumbing things down or withholding his chance to take in the knowledge.

He knows. He’s so smart, so sweet, so amazing. I cannot believe this is my little boy and I’ll thank God every day for the gift of having such a blessing in my life.

Here’s to the first five years. Let’s see what the future holds from here.

My Sunbeam

May God grant you always a sunbeam to warm you  ~ Irish blessing

This post should be easy to write and yet is not. There is so much emotion that comes with discussing the past year of my son’s life. I do not know where to start, so why don’t we go back to the beginning. Birthdays are great for that.

J stormed into the world at 4:58pm after I had labored for days then struggled against what I know now to have been PTSD-related panic. My first memory of him is of him laying against my chest, clinging to my finger with his tiny fist as the world kind of went crazy around us. I promised him then and there we had one another and everything would be alright, no matter what.

It feels like we’ve been holding hands ever since.

When your child is born it’s like a blind date: You might know the gender, maybe even have a few hints about the person you’re about to meet but most is left to chance and fate. I knew I’d likely be having a little boy, and that he was going to be a chunky monkey but that was about it. The little boy I got didn’t look anything like any baby I might have ever imagined, but he was exactly who I was supposed to meet. Dark hair, grey eyes, chubby cheeks and a cheeky demeanor… He was perfect. He is perfect.

This past year I have watched J graduate from the care of Early Intervention, leaving the loving guidance of Virginia, Nicole, Jess, Catherine, Loretta, Dana and Nicole HB to move on to preschool. He took those first steps warily, fresh off having his tonsils and adenoids removed, but once he gained momentum he never looked back. He had everyone who loved him to guide him plus a whole new group of people who came to love him too. His therapists at Kioko remained a reassuring constant to us too, something that was instrumental to making this transition possible.

He broke his arm in late July and we learned a lot of good lessons, like AquaCasts are amazing and mama was wise to make sure Santa brought a trampoline to mitigate a little boy’s need for jumping and falling.

When school started in September I was nervous. The schedule is rigorous for him. 4 days of full day school, 1 half day of school, plus two private therapy sessions… When you’re a little mite, that’s a big schedule. He adapted and not only adapted but thrived under the guidance of amazing classroom staff. The foothold that his EI team had gained in terms of language allowed J to blow past his stated goals for the year in mere months! He uses speech simply but effectively. He follows simple instructions. He understands emotions. He identifies some needs and wants. He recognizes needs and wants in his peers and happily plays with other children.

That last phrase is huge. J had only fleeting interest in peers a year ago. Now, at the end of the day, he says bye to all his friends in class and they say bye to him. I get teary eyed every time it happens because there is little more beautiful to me. He has friends, and these little kids are amazing. I have watched them all grow so much this year and I am dopey but I am as proud of them as I am of J.

People pat me on the back and say “you did this”… but I didn’t. I drive him around. I make sure he gets where he needs to be and has the tools he needs. I help him, yes, but all this accomplishment is thanks to the support of remarkable professionals and his own determined will.

If the year between his third and fourth birthdays has been huge then the year between this birthday and the next is going to be borderline overwhelming. The strides he has made now will only continue, and hopefully expand further, as his dog comes home. It is you, internet, along with all our friends and family, that we have to thank for that blessing. You’ve helped to change his life even more, and all for the better.

He walks under the warmth of a sunbeam every day of his life, this boy. He has some tremendous guardian angels and tremendous family here around him. I am so amazed that he is my son and grateful every day for the blessing he is even when I am covered in snot and half deaf from a bad day. I am grateful for him exactly as he is and giddy to see exactly who he will become. He was born my sunshine boy with the storm cloud eyes and he will always be that boy, deep down inside, even when he’s 6’3 and able to bench press me.


aww, baby fluffyhair

Happy birthday, baby boy.

Pay It Forward – Saving Gabriel

I mentioned on Facebook something about wanting to pay the good fortune J has been blessed with forward. When you stand back and look at J’s short life, he’s been one lucky boy. He has people who love him, he has everything he could need and a lot of that which he wants…

Given the blessings paid to us last year in helping us fundraise for his service dog it only seems fair to work on paying that good fortune forward. J’s birthday is in late June and I have been trying to figure out what way we turn that into a way to share good fortune with our world rather than just with ribbons and bows for an already blessed boy.

Here’s our chance.

I want you all to meet Jake Murphy and his service dog from 4 Paws, Gabriel. You can read a better version of their story here but here’s the brief version: Jake, while serving our country in Afghanistan, lost his legs. Twists of fate brought him and Gabriel together as a team just last year. Recently, Gabriel grew ill with an illness that attacks his kidneys. Thankfully he is being cared for at an amazing veterinary hospital but he needs to be there at least 15 days  more for dialysis and treatment.

Those of you familiar with vet bills are probably agape thinking of the cost of that.

Let’s help Gabriel and Jake.

You can donate to Gabriel’s care fund here: http://www.razoo.com/story/Help-Save-Gabriel — All funds that exceed the cost of Gabriel’s care will be set aside to help other 4 Paws dogs in crisis.


The Unknown National Holiday

Alright, so it’s not that. I may feel it is, but it’s not.

Tomorrow is the third anniversary of this happening:



And the second anniversary of this: 



And the first anniversary of this: 



And generally the celebration of all things J-bear. I’ll write a better post soon but until then here’s a happy face:


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