posts tagged with 'zion,'

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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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?

happy birthday Zion

Zion turned 6 today. It seems crazy that he's so big, but it also seems like forever ago that he was born (and celebrated with a double rainbow). We had a party with the grandparents on Saturday, then celebrated some more with our "Bible Study" friends Tuesday, then again with Grandma Judy and Grandpa David yesterday (where, after two days of cakes, not counting leftovers, he chose a popsicle for desert). So today didn't see any extravagant observances; instead Leah took Zion and his brothers on his birthday outing to Old Sturbridge Village. The big party with his friends is next weekend, and we hope the weather may be fine: he has a baseball theme planned. Who would have thought it. Happy birthday, Zion!

Zion playing in the sprinkler

last sprinkler playing as a 5-year-old

happy birrrrthday, Zion!

On Saturday, we finally finished up celebrating Zion's birthday with a party for his friends. It was our first ever themed party.

the presents harvey and I wrapped for Zion, and a treasure map

embracing the theme

Since we'd never done one before, our friends weren't sure how we'd manage; and their concern was warranted, since especially in our destroyed-by-tiredness state we weren't really on the ball with forward preparations. For example, I had no idea what I was going to do for a cake until Friday morning. But in the end I was pretty pleased with how it turned out!

a cake: blue sea with island, sea monster, and pirate ship

it looked bigger in real life

Of course, not everything had to be pirate-oriented. Rather than jerked meat we had plain old hot dogs, along with mac-and-cheese and chips. General kid food.

hot dogs cooking on the fiery grill

think it'll be enough?

Not being used to themed parties, the kids were all happy running around after lunch, like they would any other time—the only difference is that lots of them were in pirate hats. I really had to work to get their attention for the planned activities. First they painted telescopes and treasure chests.

the kids, many in pirate hats, sitting on the grass painting

do pirates concentrate on their work?

Next up was a treasure hunt—two treasure hunts, actually, since I didn't want the older siblings to take over all the thinking for the birthday boy and the three other kids he actually invited to the party (there were ten kids total). So the older kids had a picture-based scavenger hunt, while the five-year-olds got to do a real treasure hunt with digging and everything! They only hit each other with the shovels twice (by accident!).

Zion and friends digging by the shed

collaborative digging

The treasure was bead necklaces and chocolate—those Hershey miniatures that look like gold bars. That was Leah's idea, and it was a great one. Finding the treasure stirred up Zion's acquisitiveness, so then we went inside so he could open his presents.

Zion opening presents with friends watching

what is it?!

There was some good stuff, including a stomp rocket that occupied the crowd for the next half hour.

Zion airborne about to land on the stomp rocket

ready, go!

Then his new lego sets took over Zion's attention; lego-building is less communal, but they made it work.

Zion assembling a lego set on the front porch with a crowd around him

riveting

Some of the kids—like Harvey—really really wanted to help, but Zion wanted to do it all himself, and we managed to make it happen. He also blew out the candles himself (in three puffs). But we all could share the cake!

Zion blowing out the candles

mid-blow

And also the apple pie that I made on Zion's request, only to have him say, at the table, "actually I meant pumpkin". Oh well.

The party started at noon and was still going pretty strong at 5:00, when we packed up and moved venues—rather than making dinner we thought we'd just head over to another party we were invited to. We brought what was left of the cake and stayed until almost 8:00. So I trust Zion now feels properly celebrated, and can start acting like a five-year-old!

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happy birthday Zion

Zion turns five today! Seems like just yesterday we were meeting him for the first time. No wait, no it doesn't! Zion, you're pretty awesome; we're lucky to have you in the family.

Zion at a picnic table holding a carrot

our intense, silly boy

formal "T"

Zion's language is vastly more conventional than it was when he was two—as you'd expect! Except when he's using his cutesy baby voice (which isn't more than half the time) his speech pretty much follows the normal patterns of American English (since we're in Boston he doesn't lose points for dropping his Rs). As he adapts to conventional language, it's interesting to notice examples of hypercorrection he makes—most notably his use of /t/ to replace /d/ when he wants to sound official. "Here comes Spiterman!", as he pronounced very distinctly in his announcer voice this morning.

It makes perfect sense as a replacement. Clearly, he's noticed that our dialect effectively has a /d/ /t/ merger in many cases: in an intervocalic position the two sound exactly the same. He knows when we say "butter" it sounds like there's a D in the middle of the word, but also that it's really a T: a T that one might pronounce when one was being particularly formal. His "Spiterman" T replaces an identical sound—one that just happens to be spelled with a D.

If I were to draw a larger point from his little mix-up, its that we sometimes give kids too little credit: we point out all the things they do "wrong" without very often noticing why they're making a particular mistake—or realizing the tremendous amount of processing and development they're doing in order to come up with a way to systematize the craziness around them.

But never mind that, the real point is that Zion is awesome and I wish I could record everything he says to enjoy later. The things he says when he's not whining, that is.

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stepping out

Harvey and Zion bowling on neighboring lanes

first time at the lanes

Ollie's birthday was yesterday, and for his party Saturday he invited us to join him for bowling. The boys had never been before, and, while they were excited to be there, they were super nervous at first when it came time to actually roll a ball down the lane. As I expected they would be!

They're generally nervous of new things, both of them, and they may a fear of bowling birthdays in their blood; I still cringe when I remember forgetting, not once but twice, to wait for the machine to clear the pins fully before sending another ball down. I was 10 or 11 and bowling big balls—being away from New England at the time—and it turns out that if the ball hits the sweeping mechanism it stops, and gets stuck down there at the end of the lane. Someone needs to go get it, and the whole thing is very embarrassing.

Of course it's also embarrassing, as a father, to have both your older boys seize up and refuse to take part in a party where they're the only guests. So I encouraged them a little, and I'm proud to report that they both rose nobly to the occasion (much better than I would have done at their age, I'm sure!). Harvey took just one hands-on lesson before he saw that the thing was neither complicated nor particularly scary and he was launched on his own as a competitor in the kids' game. Zion, who as the youngest of the six kids present had to play with the adults, took a little longer to warm up to the proceedings; but after three frames of a substitute bowling for him (twice me and then once Harvey) he had it figured out, and took over for himself. Being Zion, he quickly developed his own way of doing things.

Zion lying down to watch his ball hitting the pins

interesting technique

And not only did they manage to participate, they did surprisingly well! In his first game Zion managed to finish ahead of Bridget—despite rolling his ball so slowly that once it reversed course two thirds of the way down the lane and slowly, slowly made its way back to him (all the other times we saw that when a candlepin ball hits the pins at such a slow speed it bounces sideways among them, potentially doing a great deal of damage). And Harvey won the second of his two games with a score of 92, which was also tied for the highest score of the day by anyone (tied with me, natch; clearly lucky bowling results are also in his blood).

After the bowling and some ice cream we were back at the Stevenses for the birthday dinner, where again the boys impressed. They didn't eat much 45 minutes after giant ice cream cones, but how polite they were!

Harvey sitting next to Ollie and Eliot at the birthday dinner table

birthday buddies

Bowling was the top moment of the day for Zion when I asked at bedtime. Harvey had different choice: playing King of Tokyo with the kids downstairs after the birthday dinner. But he liked the bowling too, and he's asking when we can go again.

And then yesterday morning was the big Kids Church Christmas performance. I don't have any photos because I was busy being in charge of the whole thing, but I can report that Harvey played a pivotal role. He didn't want to act (nor yet sing, under his father the musical director) but he jumped right into his job as set crew, designing sets and painting backdrops under the direction of non-family adults and then volunteering to be a part of the stage crew proper, bringing props on and off stage (ok, a prop; it was a short play). Yesterday evening the play—specifically, painting stars—was his day's highlight, and as he went to bed he asked—again—when he could do it again.

And it seems unbelievable to me, but for next year he's even thinking about pushing himself a little further. "Maybe I can be an actor next year," he told me. "Because I'll be a year older!"

Absolutely! And he's already braver today then he was two days ago; just imagine what he'll be managing to accomplish in 363 more!

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