posts tagged with 'zion'

responsibility and its discontents

We're working on responsibility here, in all different forms. Like doing the work we're asked to do, and noticing and doing work we're not asked to do. I'm also trying to help the boys take care of their own stuff. Especially as we have more days with scheduled time out of the house, I want to make both the leaving and the time away run as smoothly as possible by having everybody pack their own backpack with all that they might need for the day. Oh, and I'm also trying to give Harvey and Zion, at least, enough money that they can practice making reasonable decisions with it. It's been working fairly well, but for Zion this afternoon it all went wrong.

We went to the park, and he did a great job bringing his bag with his lunch and things. Plus his wallet, which was just yesterday—to keep it from being lost—clipped on to the backpack. But then somehow, when we stopped at Chip In Farm on the way home, the pack was not in the car. Nor was it at the park, when we drove fifteen minutes back that way to look for it. Zion was distraught; I wasn't much better myself. He must have left it at the park, and I can't imagine who would have taken it in the half hour we were gone—but no more can I imagine where else it could be. Sad story. So now Zion needs a new backpack, and some new money, and some more practice with responsibility.

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Zion's cycling birthday

Zion's birthday was nearly a month ago, but we needed to postpone his party a little because of Harvey's Pokemon tournaments. Such is the life of a second child. So it was that a couple weeks ago three of his best friends and their siblings gathered to celebrate his turning 8.

Zion ready to blow out the candles of his birthday cake

party!

It was a cycling party. May is usually a fine time to celebrate with outdoor activities, and though this year most of the month has been more like April the day of the party was clear and mild. After a little bit of running around here I gathered the kids and we all headed out for a ride to Fawn Lake. Not everybody rides all winter, so a few of the guests were a little rusty—as were their bikes. But I had chain lube for the literal rust, and since we were in no hurry there was plenty of time to work out unused muscles on the 2.5 mile trip to the pond. When we got there we had a picnic lunch.

kids picnicking by their bikes on a field above Fawn Lake

a fine spot for a birthday lunch

After lunch the kids ran and then biked on the lawn there, then waded in the pond, then climbed on the cliffs. Then we rode home—downhill, and with newly confident legs—for cake and ice cream. How do you make a cycling cake? I don't know, how about a wheel? (A singlespeed wheel!)

Zion's bicycle cake

a classy cake for a classy kid

Happy birthday, Zion!

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our readers

We haven't made it to the library this week, so Harvey was grumbling about not having any books to read. He checked out, I believe, five chapter books last Tuesday, and eight days later they were all finished. I told that we have books here—as an elementary educator, I love scouring used book sales for good stories. I guess he knows that, but he didn't trust the selection. So I picked out a few good options to present him, and he chose Dogs Don't Tell Jokes by Louis Sachar. That was at around 2:15; by 5:30 he had finished it. It's just as I predicted back when he started reading so I'm not surprised, but the sudden increase in his rate of consumption over the last month is a little startling.

Zion is getting into reading too. He's at the stage of mostly doing graphic novels. We have lots of them around, and they're good for private learners: he spent a lot of time looking at them back when he wasn't reading, so now he can put as much or as little energy into the words as he wants without me paying attention to what he's doing. Self-directed reading instruction is what we like around here. I actually tried to do some actual reading instruction with Zion back in the fall, on the theory that he's not quite as self-directed as his big brother—I had to make him learn to ride a bike, for example. And for a little bit he was interested in phonics lessons. But then he got over it. Which was fine, because I know he loves books and can ask for help when he needs it. Then he surprised me a month ago when I asked Harvey to do some writing about the chicks, and he did a page too. I had no idea he could write! I guess that means he can read too. He also read from a chapter book this afternoon during rest time.

We're in the stage of the homeschooling year called pre-reporting panic; don't worry Town of Bedford, at least I know they can read!

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Zion's tough morning

Zion needed to visit the dentist this morning to have a cavity filled. It was actually his second try at it; last Wednesday he got as far as the chair before freaking out so much that the dentist wasn't able to get close enough to do the work. It's a little embarrassing as a parent, I think. Just like when we had to stop taking Rascal to the vet because the technicians were always afraid he was going to bite them. You feel it has to be some sort of reflection on you as a dog trainer / parent. At least Zion can be reasoned with to some extent. We reasoned with him to the extent of telling him he had to do this, that there was no option to not do it. That he was brave. That he didn't have to love every moment of every day. None of it was particularly convincing, but it was enough to get him into the car, into the building, and into the seat... and he sat still long enough to get the filling. Then he threw up in the car on the way home.

I totally understand his anxiety and discomfort. I am terrified of the dentist myself... not that I felt it would have been helpful to bring that up. It turns out he's braver than me! I probably do a better job brushing my teeth though, and I eat significantly less candy, so it balances out.

Leah took care of the dentist visit itself, while I enjoyed a quiet morning at home with the other boys (so it was her car that got vomited, ha ha). Then I took up the task of easing Zion back into the society of humans, which I accomplished by letting him sit on the couch for an hour, then feeding him lunch, then forcing him to come with us on a walk in the Minuteman National Park. He declined to fasten his seatbelt for the drive there; Lijah told on him, but I said I though that Zion had spent enough time that morning being forced to do things against his will and it was fair for him to want to make a few of his own decisions. We didn't get into a wreck, so that was fine, and then he had a lovely time on the walk and was happy enough to buckle up on the next leg of our trip. So a happy ending? Anyway, at least he won't get any more food stuck in that gaping cavity.

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Zion growing up

Zion learned to ride his bike yesterday. It was a tough sell on my part... it's been over a year since I started encouraging him, with two or three false starts at training programs. Unlike Harvey—who started cycling on his own at 5—he wasn't feeling very self-motivated. But now that he's 7 I'm about done with carrying him, so I've been encouraging him a little more vigorously. Yesterday I was so grumpy I told him he had to just go out and practice for half an hour, with no whining. That was enough.

Zion riding down the street

he can do it!

Most of the time I'm happy to let the kids set their own pace for their learning and development. In this case though, I knew that Zion would be so proud and delighted with himself when he finally figured it out that pushing him felt worth it. I was delighted this evening when he called to a friend, "I don't like scootering any more, I just like biking!" Despite it being a blazing hot day he headed out three or four times to ride up and down the street—that's after our mile-long ride around the big block this morning (with many stops). Next up: the three-mile course at the PMC kids ride!

Besides his cycling accomplishments, Zion also lost his first two teeth in the last week and a half. He's felt pretty grown up lately in a lot of ways, and now his grown-up teeth make it official. Of course, as the kid who declared he wanted to be the baby again when Lijah got bigger he's still holding onto some little-kid tricks too. Good thing he's cute enough to pull it off most of the time! I'm happy to let him be the baby as much as he wants; a baby who can ride his own bike is the best kind there is!

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birthday report

Zion's party was this past Saturday. For the second year in a row it was a baseball party, per his request and the invitation.

The kids didn't feel like they had to rush into playing baseball. They mostly all knew each other already, and our yard offers plenty of opportunity for free play.

kids climbing on the shed etc

this is how we party in our yard

When they started forming opposing gangs, though, I figured it was time to formalize the violence as sport and we had a pretty fair game: birthday guests vs siblings and parents. We didn't keep score, I don't think, but there were some fine hits and even a little fielding.

Then we had dinner—hot dogs and hamburgers cooked on the fire, plus chips and lemonade (and salad and unsweetened ice tea for the grown-ups). After dinner Zion wanted to go right to presents, so that happened before cake.

Zion opening presents surrounded by friends

present time

The cake of course is the most important part of the party. This year Zion wanted a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Chocolate of course limits the range of decorating possibilities, but I think I did ok.

Zion's chocolate baseball cake

the cake

In the end Zion didn't care for it and limited himself to ice cream, but everyone else seemed to approve. There's none left now, that's for sure!

The day was a fine end to a full birthday week for our middle child. Harvey is now planning his own party, for late June. The fun never stops!

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happy birthday Zion!

Zion turned 7 yesterday. We celebrated in the morning with a ceremonial pancake breakfast and presents from me and Harvey. Zion very much approved.

Zion blowing out the candle on his birthday pancake

birthday (pan)cake

Then we went for a canoe trip on the river, and he wasn't such a fan of that; but even on your birthday not everything can be totally to your taste. His baseball party with his friends is the afternoon. That one comes with a real cake.

Zion's breakfast-time card and present

the morning of

Happy birthday to our wonderful fierce cuddly boy!

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a story which must be told

A bit over a week ago, at the tail end of the previous thaw (we're in another one now) the boys and I were on a walk with Rascal. When we found ourselves close to Bedford's newest pond* the bigger boys naturally wanted to check out the ice.

Harvey and Zion inching across the ice on the pond

carefully now...

Even after 5 days of mild weather it still took their weight without a problem—that's what comes of the thaw following two solid weeks of well below freezing. Unfortunately, we find that frozen mud thaws faster than frozen water, and when they reached the far bank and foolishly stepped off the ice they sank ankle deep in oozing quicksand. Harvey managed to escape, but in trying to turn around Zion tripped and fell onto his hand and knees. It took lots of help from Harvey to get him up, and then more help to get his boot out of the mire—his foot had come up without it and it was pretty much submerged. Then, because his love for his brother leads him to provide support emotional as well as practical, Harvey took off one of his own boots to make Zion feel better as they crossed back to me and Elijah. Better, but not completely happy.

Zion crying, covered with mud

oops.

After we dumped maybe a pint of water out of the boot I told Zion to put it back on: the thaw was coming to a dramatic end even as we walked, and with temperatures dipping below freezing I figured a wet boot would be lots better than no boot for our nearly mile-long walk home. Zion's hands were also giving trouble: there was no way we could wipe that mud off them, and we didn't want to ruin his coat sticking all that muck through the sleeves. But he was in danger of freezing to death. So I had him wrap his hands up in the front of his shirt, and then I zipped his coat up around him.

Which I suppose would have been fine if he could walk, but he couldn't; and with the state his boots (and feet) were in I couldn't blame him. I was pushing Lijah in the stroller, so I had Zion stand on his scooter and pushed that along too (Harvey took the dog). That was fine until the little scooter wheels hit a stick and Zion fell on his face. At that point Lijah was evicted so Zion could be brought home alive (though he did take a brief ride on Zion's lap; a mile is a long way for his little legs, especially when someone else is riding).

By the time we got home Zion had recovered a bit, but of course when we saw Mama just getting home as we turned onto the street he had to cry a little for her too. Luckily she knows how to take care of cold boys, and also where the boot dryer is, because we sure needed it. It turns out that pond mud dries as hard as the finest clay!

Harvey and Zion's snow boots completely encased in mud

thaw: the aftermath

*I call it "Bedford's newest pond" because it is: DPW folks dug it in the summer when to replace another area of wetland lost to ball fields. So far, apparently, no one but me has used that phrase in the history of Google, which is something.

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oh $#!*

Zion's new favorite word is "shit". Really! Harvey told him to stop saying it yesterday, and he answered, "but it's my favorite word!" Places where he's busted it out over the past few days: at the dinner table with Grandma and Grandpa; in front of his friend's parents; at church. In fact, at church yesterday he was walking along chanting "shit shit shitty shit..."

I don't know where it comes from, and I don't know what to think about it. On the one hand, what do I care?—I don't mind people swearing in general, and when Zion does it it's actually pretty cute. On the other, I don't want him to offend anyone, especially since when he does the blame will fall on me. I suppose it's... just a phase?

Zion's baseball party

Zion and his baseball cake

birthday boy in his new cap

Now that the kids are school age it's harder to schedule the birthday parties. Everybody has so much going on—and we want to make sure the important friends can come! So we waited a little for Zion's big 6-year-old baseball party. Saturday was the big day, and it was lovely.

The day was cool and overcast but the rain stayed away, and it wasn't so chilly that we worried about having the whole thing outdoors. Of course, nothing was going to stop the baseball game part of the affair. We played two and a half innings, and Zion loved the whole thing—even if he is a little more enthusiastic about batting than fielding.

Zion sitting in the grass in front of his birthday banner on the fence

relaxed outfielder

All seven friends that he invited made it for at least a couple minutes, which was great. We moved up the cake-eating a little bit to make sure one early-departing guest could have his portion, which was fine with everyone.

Zion taking a deep breath to blow out his candle

ready to blow

I actually made two cakes, because I was halfway through a chocolate layer cake when I suddenly remembered Zion had asked for a yellow cake. Oh well, this way we could cater to all tastes. Plus there was vanilla ice cream from Bedford Farms, so nobody went hungry.

some of the kids eating cake at the picnic tables

having cake and eating it

We actually ended up with a ton of food left over, because the adult attendance was lower than expected. And several of the kids barely touched the lunch proper—hot dogs and cole slaw—because they filled up on Zion's special request, Doritos, in the hour before lunch.

With the baseball and the cake out of the way we couldn't hold Zion off from his presents. So the last part of the party was playing with them: first a big game of wild catch with a new big fabric throwing disc, and then—what the birthday boy had been waiting for all day—with the new legos.

Zion and Nathan building legos on the schoolroom rug

finally

Zion reports complete satisfaction with the day; he has now been fully celebrated!

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