posts tagged with 'milestones'

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!


training, fewer wheels

Harvey riding his bike towards the camera--no training wheels!

two-wheeled sensation

Harvey doesn't like being bad at things. Rather than trying and failing like most people, he just waits until he's really ready, and then hits the ground running. Or, in this case, rolling. Yes, he taught himself how to ride a two-wheeler in one day.

Before we were buried in snow earlier this winter we'd made some half-hearted attempts at practicing without training wheels—you know, with the holding the back of the seat and running alongside—all quickly aborted when Harvey rejected my every attempt at correcting his technique. Naturally enough, I might add; I'm just the same way.

Then yesterday, beautifully warm, the boys were out riding around with the neighbor kids and he asked me to take off his training wheels. I was busy pruning apple trees so I tried to put him off—I didn't want to get involved in the emotional conflict I thought would be the inevitable result. But when he kept asking I finally agreed to do it, if he went and got the wrench. Which he did with alacrity.

Once two-wheeled he asked if he could just sit on the seat and push the bike with his feet for a bit, and I agreed that was the best way to proceed. Which he did for about two minutes, then the next thing I knew he was getting his feet on the pedals for a good five seconds at a time! And then we had to go in. Today was much cooler, but he was eager to get back to practicing... at least as long as I was out there riding with him. Which was fine with me! Before long he was racing around like he'd been doing it for years, so I got out the camera to take some video.

Of course, with me as a cycling model he wasn't content to stick around home for long. Once he showed me that he could brake under control and turn around in the width of the street, we took to the sidewalks of the wider world for some more practice. I was so impressed with how well he navigated the range of obstacles: we both laughed when he crashed into that telephone pole, sure, but he also negotiated street crossings and sharp turns like a pro. Just think how far he'll go this summer!

Is it ok to feel a little bit proud?

Harvey riding away from the camera

away he goes


growing up too fast and not fast enough

Harvey lost his first tooth last night. This morning he asked me to help him sew a little bag to keep it with him always. (The tooth fairy is not a thing in our household because I believe in removing all the magic from childhood.) Harvey pressed the pedal of the sewing machine and guided the fabric himself. Here he is pressing the reverse button to make a knot.

those chubby hands atop my machine make me swoon

And here he is 15 minutes later with the finished project. His baby tooth is inside the bag and no longer at the bottom of his mouth.

Harvey smiling to show his missing tooth and holding the bag he made for it

triumphant big boy and seamster Harvey

Meanwhile, Zion is reliably potty trained within our house. He received a big plastic pirate ship as his present for using the potty. Both the ship and Zion's swift mastery of toileting are pretty epic.

no pants makes the whole process easier

In every way my babies are growing up so fast.

Well... maybe not all my babies. Elijah is still mostly doing the same stuff. Smiling, being carried around. Nursing.

happy as long as he being held

For several weeks I've been complaining that Elijah seems behind in his fine motor development. At six months both Harvey and Zion could sit up and play intentionally with a toy. They'd shake a rattle, bang it on something, and bring it to their mouthes. Elijah is able to hold a toy and gnaw it, but that's the extent. He doesn't seem to be able to get the "right" part in his mouth, and to my mind he's frustrated by his lack of coordination. Also he refuses to sit, though he's pretty happy about EVERYTHING ELSE. That could be the reason he's not progressed as quickly as his brothers. He's just so jolly content to be a baby, why would he try to do anything else?

I'm a cutie, love me.

I decided to get Elijah evaluated by Early Intervention to see if the experts agree with me that he's a month behind. Early Intervention is a government-mandated program that provides free specialist services to any child who falls below the 30th percentile in an area of development. Evaluation is paid for by insurance and completely free to end users. To qualify for services a child has to be significantly delayed in one specific area, either gross motor, fine motor, communication, or social. You can't have a child who's a little bit of a loser across the board... I mean you can but you won't get help for it.

The baby evaluation team came out to my house yesterday - a nurse, a nutritionist and an OT. They asked me a lot of questions and ran Elijah through a series of tests, all while filling in the little circles in a standardized test workbook. "SI A is a 2" the nutritionist would say to the nurse taking notes, and I would think to myself "Two is good? Which is to say, it's bad?"

At the end of an hour they tallied up all Elijah's scores. Vindication, he IS about a month behind in his fine motor development. His ability to grasp a toy and vaguely put it to his mouth (but not reach for a rasin or transfer one hand to the other) puts him squarely at a 5-month level. This is not enough to qualify him for services, however. He's in 35th percentile for fine motor which just isn't bad enough.

"But he did qualify for services," the nurse told me, "just not in any area you were worried about. He qualified for his communication."

Oh. Apparently my child is supposed to be making sounds or something.

Maybe I never noticed before because there's so much other noise in the house, but he's supposed to be linking consonants and vowels in a stream of babbel. Or at least copying the noises I make when I repeat his sounds back to him. He doesn't do any of that yet. Instead he's just smiles back happily, glad for the attention.

I never noticed it before; to me he communicates just fine. He silently whispers, "I'm the baby; love me." And I comply. What else is there to know?

The good news is that qualifying for Early Intervention in this area gives him access to all services for all the areas where he's behind. This means he'll get help for sitting and for playing, as well as the areas I was neglecting. Even though I feel like a bit of a boob, I'd call that a win all around.

Having three children is harder than having two, to say something stunningly obvious. I hate to admit that each of my children get less of me, because that's an argument against my decision making and religious family planning and everything else. But practically, it's true; each of my children gets a little less Mama because there are two others vying for my attention. I don't know what this means for the future. For the time being I'm just grateful for a little bit of extra help.


growing up, all of them

After months of productive prep-work and couter-productive passive agression, Zion finally decided he was ready to use the potty this week. Or more to the point, he was ready to reap the heaping pile of rewards we had layered one atop the other if he'd just pee, nay just sit, nay just TRY to go near the potty. Here he is yesterday sitting beneath his sticker chart (which earns him a visit to Chuck E Cheese), eating M&Ms (which he got just for sitting down), doing the deed that's about to earn him a "Jake and the Neverland Pirates Musical Bucky Pirate Ship," a plastic abomination that he saw at Target while we were shopping for camping gear and that I promised him could be his if he would just pee in the potty. I've promised him a lot of prizes over the past three months, but the pirate ship was the one his little brain held onto, the one that finally got him to say "I want to pee in the potty and then you order my pirate ship." Mama's no-disney, no-tv-tie-in, no-plastic-toys rules be damned.


Unfortunately, I now learn that the item in question is no longer sold at Target. I am waiting to see if I win an ebay auction for a used one before I fork over thirty five bucks for it new on Amazon. He's pooped in the potty three times so far, but still that's a rather steep cost per turd.

This great leap forward comes at a time when all my children seem to ge growing in bravery. Harvey tried a bike without training wheels for the second time today. He also let me cut his hair with the electric clippers for the first time. (The key was to pretend he was TinTin and I was a foreign barber, and say "Mr. TinTin" in a funny accent) Now his haircuts take half as long and he looks like a real big boy.

our first ride together with this setup. You can't see his haircut in this picture, but oh my word does he look grown up.

Elijah grows bigger every day. At nearly 6 months he's fitting into 12-month onesies. Until August he was way ahead in gross motor skills, even starting to inch forward on his stomach, but a month of near-constant illness set him back. Still, he did have one major change in the past month - he's able to prop himself up in the exercauser for a few minutes at a time. Since he can't hold himself up sitting yet, it's super fun to watch him lean forward in the saucer and play with some toys.

outside having fun

He reminds me of Zion who loooooved that thing.

Zion in his Exersaucer holding a spoon


And here's Harvey who never had an exercauser, but had to make do with a bjorn baby sitter and ikea play gym in front of it. With a constant input of personal attention, somehow he managed.

it's winter now; we have to wear hats even indoors

it's winter now; we have to wear hats even indoors

Dragging up these old images makes me reflect on my babies and how they just keep getting bigger. I don't want to say "They grow up so fast," I don't even believe that. Between those baby pictures and the current ones I remember A LOT of days I wished could have passed by quicker. No, it's that I look at Harvey and Zion in those pictures and I think, "I hardly knew you then!" I see the wry smile in Zion, the wild eyes in Harvey, and I think, "That was you, but not all the way you. I had no idea." Then I look at Elijah and I think: "Who are you, little man?"

But maybe that's unfair. Right now Elijah is a baby and I love baby him 100%. I love Zion 100% as a 3-year-old and Harvey 100% as a 5-year old even though I'm sure they'll change many times before they leave my care. Each of them holds a future that's full of surprises. Some surprises will amaze me and make me exclaim "I hardly knew!" Some may be plastic and even, gulp, Disney themed. I can only pray that I'll keep pace with the changes, to trust the process, and to trust my kids enough next time that I buy the stupid toy when it's actually on sale.


history is passing us by!


A couple months ago I was telling someone about our blog and it occurred to me that it's been going for a long time. I did the math and realized we had a significant milestone coming up; if I had a calendar that I ever looked at, I would have marked it with a note to commemorate the day in some way. Alas, I do not and did not, and so totally forgot to mention three days ago that this blog is now ten years old. If you can believe it, it was all the way back on January 26th, 2004, when we started recording the passing details of our life together, and with just a few breaks that year and the next we've kept it up ever since. That's a lot of words. To properly celebrate this anniversary I suggest that you follow that link above to start from the beginning. Then tell me how long it took you to read the whole thing.

growing boys

It's been less than a week since Zion started saying "Mama" purposefully as in, "I want Mama." It's lovely to open a new chapter in our relationship where we actually communicate verbally, although now it's more like a tiny window that's opened. He says cracker but not because he WANTS a cracker, only because he wants you to KNOW it's a cracker. It's similarly frustrating when he grabs at something like carrots or broccoli which I have to steam, and then ten minutes later reveals he never wanted to eat them at all. Clear communication it isn't, but maybe only because he doesn't really like food that much.

In terms of his vocabulary, one wonders why in addition to cuck cuck (for the chickens) duck and cat, he has both doggie AND puppy. Why two words for the same thing when "ca" goes for all cars trucks and trains??? We can't ask him, so it will forever remain a mystery. No word for "Harvey" yet, not even "brother," but we know from the bible that it's hard to give names to the God you worship.

Ha! That joke is hilarious, though the witnesses would have my head for it.

I know Dan wrote about all this the other day... I just feel like I should comment in my own way to prove I'm paying attention to my younger child's development. Harvey continues to impress me with his genius level language and mental processing, although I don't know what the benchmarks are for three year olds so maybe it's just impressive to me that children continue to get smarter. Today at Drumlin farm he dug up from memory that Owls are nocturnal, and then asked if that's why the picture of the owl is on the same sign as the picture of the fox. He would have netted more praise for that had I not been busy addressing his definition of "sharing" which included "taking all of Zion's food and eating it." Another growth spurt, perhaps.


First steps!

Zion took some steps today! 2 and even 3 in a row! I think that counts as a milestone. Good job little big boy.

In other first steps, I started a round of antibiotics for a strep infection. The doctor also suggested I may have mono, which was like a lightbulb going off in my head. Oh, that would explain why I've been fantasizing about lying down almost every moment for the past two months. Of course, there's nothing to do for mono, the treatment is bed-rest (ha ha) and wait it out whether it takes six weeks or six months. Still, I feel like I'd appreciate a diagnosis to justify what I've been going through. It's not that two kids are too much for me; I've been legitimately sick you guys.

Dan will post pictures of the party soon. He's been parenting like a champ in my illness absence. That guy deserves a congressional medal of dada.

congratulations Emmy!

Almost six years ago, we had occasion to congratulate Emmy on her Bat Mitzvah. Five or six years before that, I first started babysitting for her and her brothers and sister—she was in second grade at the time. Today, she graduated from high school. It doesn't quite seem possible, but no more does it seem possible that Harvey is almost one year old; I guess that's what it's like to be a parent. At the graduation party this afternoon Emmy's mom Judi cautioned us not to blink. We wish Emmy all the best at Vasser in the fall, but maybe before she heads off we can ask her to watch Harvey for an afternoon...