posts tagged with 'elijah'

new bike excitement

We picked up Zion's new bike yesterday, and I told him I'd we waking him up early today to take him for his first ride on it. He wasn't sure about that, but when the time came he got up promptly enough and we got going in time to hit the trails by 6:30. He got into it right away; how could you not?!

Zion biking up a hill at sunrise

the dawn of a new era

In our excitement to get going we forgot both masks and helmets, so we took things a little easier that we might have otherwise. But that was fine, since Zion's new ride is like twice as big as the one he was on before, so that took some getting used to. Also the brake levers are on the very edge of too far away for his little hands. There were no disasters, though, and the only time he fell he very cleverly landed on his belly and chin, so no brain damage. We stayed out for about an hour, then came back to a breakfast of pancakes: as Harvey described it, "if I can't ride with you than at least I want to cook!" I think I'm doing something right as a parent...

Harvey was rewarded for his generous nature by the arrival of his own new bike this evening. He and I drove to Newton to pick it up at dinner time, and then he and Zion were both so excited they rode for about an hour in the gathering dusk, including a 20-minute loop around our local woods (I think lights will need to be our next purchase...). Not to be left out, Elijah got his own bike out and rode with me as I walked the dogs through the woods after supper. He's been hesitant to ride off-road in the past with his little wheels, but with the motivation of trying to keep up with big brothers he did great! Both of them getting new bikes within the space of two days has been a little tough for him: while we were picking up Zion's yesterday and looking around at the other things at the store he was heard to remark, "I want something new!"

Now tomorrow we have a date to meet friends at Russell Mill Pond to really take the new bikes through their paces—pump track and trails both (Lijah will have to be left behind, sadly; but his time will come!). Expect to hear more on the subject of mountain bicycling in coming weeks.

Zion halfway up a big rock, his bike leaning below him

loving the lifestyle

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how big is the galaxy?

We were reading a Calvin and Hobbes comic and Lijah got interested in the size of the galaxy. I let him know that I could look it up and tell him, but it wouldn't be a meaningful number. He still wanted to know. So I started typing into my phone, and read out the Google suggestions as they came up. "Size of..." gave "size of queen bed", "size of king bed", and "size of twin bed". "Size of the..." predicted us to be wondering about the sun, the moon, or the earth. "Size of the g..." gave us "great lakes", "grand canyon", and, finally, "galaxy." Reading the wikipedia page we learned that the Milky Way galaxy is between 170,000 and 200,000 light years across; a light year is 5.88 trillion miles; so in units we can comprehend, the diameter of the galaxy is somewhere in the neighborhood of one quintillion miles.

"So," said Lijah, who never misses a trick, "it's bigger than a twin bed?"

little signs of growing up

Last night I would have loved to have have gone to bed at 7:30—I was in bed, in fact, just finishing up reading to the boys. But I couldn't, because there were still things going on in my household. In school terms Harvey is a sixth grader now; that doesn't mean much for most things, but on Sunday he does go to Kids Church. Yesterday was his last day as a member of Elementary Kids Church, and while he won't be officially starting Youth Group until September all the sixth graders were invited to join the gathering yesterday evening for some get-to-know-you games... beginning at 8:00. Before too long, I'm sure that when Harvey chooses to stay up I don't need to play any part in his late-night plans. But for now he still appreciates having someone available to put him to bed. So I stayed up. At least I didn't have to drive him anywhere!

Elijah also showed signs of surprising maturity yesterday, at least in one small area. Apropos of nothing he told me, "sixty plus sixty is one hundred twenty," and then asked what 120 + 120 would be.

"Well," I said, "What's a hundred plus a hundred?"

"Oh," he said. "It's... two hundred and forty. And two hundred and forty plus two hundred and forty is four hundred and eighty. Four hundred and eighty plus four hundred and eighty is eight hundred and... no, it's nine hundred something."

Well! I'd included a lot about place value and adding tens and ones in my plans for his math work this school year, but I guess we won't need to work too hard on that! I can tell you that we didn't do anything more than add one-digit number last year, and not too much of that (I did work to build the foundation for understanding place value... but I didn't know how well he was listening). We'll just add it to the folder labeled "unschooling works." And maybe think about introducing some algebra this fall?

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our newest amazing cyclist

Elijah learned to ride a two-wheeler back in April. One problem with being a third child is that your accomplishments are less marked. When Harvey first succeeded on two wheels he got many words and a video; Lijah had to make do with a three-word caption on a weekly pictures post. But his achievement is no less impressive! Unlike Harvey, he had to work for a while to learn to ride, but he did the work with determination for a good solid week (with some kind and helpful coaching from Harvey's friend Jack). For his first couple months on two wheels he was prevented from taking any long rides by the fact that, you know, we hardly go anywhere—and when we do it's off-road, which is hard when you're riding on 12-inch wheels. So that was my fault. Monday I finally got his 16-inch bike up and running, and he celebrated yesterday by taking a nine-mile ride to the Farmers Market and back.

Elijah biking on the road ahead of his brothers

everybody moving at Lijah speed!

I admit I had some trepidation going into the outing, but I didn't say anything to Elijah! I just asked him if he wanted to ride this time, and when he said yes I just kept things moving in that direction. I fully expected that I'd be putting him and his bike into the cargo bike after a couple miles—there's plenty of room, so that would be no problem—but he kept going: two miles on the flat, then another couple on the gentle rail-trail grade up to Lexington Center. He got there with plenty of energy left to play hide-and-seek around the Old Belfry and buy a baguette for himself at the market, and then to ride the whole way back with nary a complaint, but for a few mentions that his butt hurt. I was very impressed, and I let him know it! His brothers also remarked on how natural he was on the bigger bike. It turns out all his problems with going in a straight line over the past couple months were just because his knees were practically hitting his handlebars.

There's some kind of a lesson in there, I think. I mean, besides the lesson for me that I should have worked harder to get him an appropriately-sized bicycle in a timely manner. Here's this kid who had never ridden more than a mile, who had run off the sidewalk and crashed into a telephone pole the last time he biked off our street, and who was just for the second day riding a bike where he couldn't put both feet on the ground at the same time... and I had him ride on the street and the busy bike path? Am I crazy?! Possibly. But my thinking was that Elijah really wants to keep up with his brothers, and while he also values being the baby a lot of the time he has some real skills and capacity. By just assuming he could do this thing, I showed him that I trusted him to do the work, and he did! And as it happened, his first big ride was significantly bigger than Harvey's. I guess now we need to get him a mountain bike!

(And I promise you that, in that picture above, I was just out of the frame ahead of Lijah. Leah took it. I'm not totally irresponsible!)

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the zeal of a convert

Lijah doesn't eat very many different things. He's not picky in a traditional sense—he'll eat sweet potato, for example, or pickled garlic—but he knows what he likes and doesn't like foods that aren't on his list. Not that the list is static; that would be too easy. A couple years ago he liked his hot dogs without buns; the year after that he only wanted the bun. This week we saw a change in his diet happen.

Yesterday morning I made scrambled eggs for myself, Harvey, and Zion. When he saw them Lijah asked to try some, approved, and asked for more. Well, I wasn't going to cook more eggs so I told him he'd have to wait. Could he have some for lunch, he wanted to know? Remember, this is the child who needed separate breakfast food every time I cooked eggs for the past 18 months.

Well, you can guess what was on the breakfast menu this morning! I admit I felt some pressure as I scrambled today's eggs: what if he didn't like them this time? Would I be doomed to another year of short-order breakfast complexity? Happily, he once again approved. Of course, he also turned down the toast I made him, but I suppose you can't win em all.

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Elijah's celebration

Lijah's friends around the kitchen table

a crowd to celebrate Elijah

As I mentioned, we cleverly scheduled Lijah's birthday party before society closed down. He invited six friends—appropriate for a sixth birthday!—and those friends brought along enough family members to bring the total number of folks in the house, including Archibalds, to 26. Pretty good! The party had a dragon theme, officially, though as the day got closer the birthday boy decided he wanted to give unicorns equal billing. The short notice didn't bother me since I didn't have any particular dragon-based activities or decorations in mind anyway; he wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting so options were limited in that direction, and I was too overwhelmed with other life to think too much about activities. (I did make a fantastic rainbow unicorn card that I gave him on his actual birthday on Friday.)

kids and a dad working on making construction paper puppets

craft table

Of course, with all those kids in the house we needed to do something! As the kids arrived we had material out for them to make puppets—or any other project they cared to attempt with construction paper and lunch bags. I had prepared a dragon puppet as an encouraging example. Lijah made a unicorn puppet (with terrifying sharp teeth); there were also a couple other dragons, a knight, a dog, and two penguins. The more active kids played outside on an obstacle course that Zion and I had set up. Then we had lunch—plain pasta and chicken nuggets for the littles, home-made pizza and African food for those with more discerning palettes (who am I kidding, the kids ate most of the pizza too). After lunch I sent them out on a treasure hunt to find a dragon's hoard hidden in the yard (totally not a pirate treasure: that was last year). They couldn't figure out one of the clues but it didn't matter: they brute-forced it by blindly searching the whole property and finding the clues out of order. I knew I should have buried them! The prize was a bag of candy for each kid.

Which hopefully they didn't eat right away because next we had cake. No ice cream, but there were also chocolate chip cookies... does that count? After the cake Lijah opened his presents, and besides the musket and knife from his parents he got so many beautiful and thoughtful dragon-related gifts. A Dragonite doll, a dragon puppet, an amazing homemade costume, an embossed leather journal... He was delighted.

Lijah in his new dragon costume exclaiming at a Dragonite doll

exciting!

It was a three-hour event; the morning of I was actually worried I scheduled it to be so long, and I wasn't sure what everybody would do. I needn't have been. The folks who absolutely had to be somewhere else tore themselves away after three and a quarter hours, and everybody else stayed for four. Maybe we had an inkling we wouldn't be partying together again for a while?

Lijah and four friends on the roof of the playhouse

birthday boy and his cool-kid friends

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happy birthday Elijah!

Lijah ready to blow out his birthday pancake

birthday boy

Lijah turned 6 today—can you believe it! We celebrated him with a card and a few presents this morning, plus the traditional pancake with a candle in it (his had chocolate chips, but that wasn't special: all his pancakes have chocolate chips). Harvey and Zion each made him something in Minecraft, whatever that means; from his parents who give tangible real-world gifts he received a rainbow unicorn card, a stick unicorn, a heart necklace, and pink nail polish. Oh, and gum. (Along with Minecraft gum is currently a mania in our house—probably because I hate them both.) For upholders of traditional gender roles, I will say you don't need to worry: at his party tomorrow we're additionally giving him a musket and a pocket knife. These are all things he asked for, which I think says we're doing something right. Or maybe he's just an awesome person on his own. Happy Birthday Lijah B!

our baby loses a tooth

This morning I was lying in bed thinking how much I missed having little kids around. I mean, really little: parents with teenagers might argue I've got two or even three little kids right now, but I mean more babies or preschoolers. That was our life for eight years, and then it wasn't any more. It's kind of sad! And then just about first thing after I get up, Lijah lost his first tooth!

Now, in and of itself that's a good thing. His loose tooth had been giving him trouble off and on for a couple weeks, and this morning it was especially bothersome. He was actually pretty grumpy. But then as soon as it came out he cheered right up: the excitement and the absence of constant tooth sensation made his morning 100% better. And we were excited for him of course. But I also felt a little wistful—if he's not my baby, who is?!

Zion also lost a tooth, the night before. It was his fifth or something, so much less exciting; but he was just as glad to see it gone. It came out in the middle of dinner, and after it stopped bleeding and he was able to take another bite he remarked on how nice it was to be able to chew on either side of his mouth again. For close to a month he'd only been able to use the teeth on the left; you should have seen him eating apples! His two front teeth on the top are almost all the way grown in, so he totally looks like a big kid.

Now don't get me wrong: there are wonderful aspects to having all these grown-up boys. We went to a classical music concert this morning, and nobody died or made a fuss in the quiet parts! But today at least I'm feeling that there's also something to be said for the little ones. If you have any that you need a break from, we're available to babysit!

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two Elijah moments

When he's not yelling or whining, Lijah is a joy to be with and his sparkling utterances light up my life. Like this gem from yesterday: "there once was a man from Peru, who dreamed he peed in his shoe. That's poetry!"

Lijah in cold-weather gear sitting up on a wall

curious cat

Earlier, I asked him to please join me in cleaning off the table, since I was ostensibly helping him with his job. "I will," he told me, "but first can I finish taping up my mouth?"

birthday celebrations

Lijah and I just about share a birthday, and we marked them this past week. He had some parties. We kicked things off last Monday with a relaxing dinner at my parents' house that ended with a cake for each of us. My birthday was Tuesday, and I was treated to another couple of cakes; and pancakes too, since we also celebrated Shrove Tuesday that evening. Lijah turned five on Wednesday and, as has become traditional, requested pancakes for breakfast so he could have one with a candle in it. The main event was Saturday, when we hosted Lijah's friends for his long-awaited Pirate Party.

Lijah blowing out candles on his pirate cake

happy birrrrrthday!

He's had a birthday party every year, but you know it's not really the same when you're turning one, or two, or three. Four is the real deal though, and last year felt like our first experience throwing a winter party—which is to say, one where the kids might need to be inside the whole time. I think we got it now. The pirate theme absolutely demanded a treasure hunt, and unlike the one at Zion's 5-year-old pirate party it would have to be indoors. I had my doubts the kids would be able to interpret the maps I drew of our house, so I enlisted parents to help if needed (not big siblings—that would have been a disaster!). But it turns out Lijah is great at reading maps! And while he still can't find something lying on the ground if he's standing right over it, his friends were prepared to handle that part of the task. There was plenty of gold (twix bars) to share at the end of the hunt.

Lijah with Liam and Henry looking at a treasure map in the living room

"north five paces..."

Besides the treasure, we also had lots of arts and crafts supplies available, which were appreciated by adults and kids alike. And there was lots of food. Especially potato chips. With all my planning for indoor fun, the weather was actually pretty nice Saturday, so after Lijah opened his presents we all went out to run around and ride bikes on the street. The best part of March is making snowballs with your bare hands... just for target practice though. No fun to be hit with a snowball while wearing a t-shirt!

We capped the celebration week with one more party, this one at Leah's parents', on Sunday evening. Lijah got a yellow sweatsuit with a tiger face on the hood; he may take it off in a week or two, maybe.

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