posts tagged with 'siblings'

culture of scarcity

It's been rainy the last couple days and we're coming up on the end of three solid weeks of relative isolation, and there have been few moments of testiness. Like yesterday, when Zion and Elijah were playing at trading imaginary Minecraft items. Lijah was trying to get some tridents from Zion, who kept raising the price beyond Lijah's offers of uncountable stacks of emeralds. Eventually Lijah got mad and started yelling, and Zion protested huffily that he was just trying to do a fair trade. I was pretty unhappy, and told them so—with Lijah for going into a violent rage instead of walking away, and with Zion for provoking him. "I don't know how we're going to get along as a household," I told him, "if you can't even be generous with imaginary things that don't even exist!" It's safe to say that we're all feeling some stress.

Of course, there are also many lovely moments. Prior to that unpleasant exchange—which happened right around dinner time—the boys had been playing super well together. Their game with their stuffed animals was so harmonious that I silently cancelled some scheduled home education stuff to let it continue, and then I lost track of time and failed to tell them to get on Zoom for their daily group read-aloud (they made it a couple minutes late, when Leah noticed the time and alerted us). So we'll survive. But we do need to keep working at it.


moments from the week

Zion and Harvey walking down the sidewalk together

brotherly walk

Scenes and moments from the past week. We do more things than we have time to write about; photos help us remember it all!

Harvey, Zion, and Eliot kneeling in the snow, deep in coversation

playing, in the snow

Lijah kissing a cat

cat fancier

Harvey and Zion reading books in the library in their winter coats

deeply absorbed

Lijah and Zion cuddling on Mama on the couch

she was working...

Zion and Lijah looking over the edge of the top bunk, Zion in bathrobe and Lijah in monkey hat

after the bath

Harvey and Zion on a smallish snow pile

kings of the rapidly diminishing mountain

Zion carefully painting in the playroom

working on a birthday card

the three boys sitting at the birthday table, with pizza

pizza party!

Harvey and Zion, barefoot and short-sleeved, digging in the lawn

not snow shovels


late February

snow on the trees bright in the morning light

February morning sun

February means snow and rain, longer days and stronger sun, boys getting spring fever before its time. Plants, animals, and people here are all just almost bursting with desire to get going the business of spring.

I've always felt February vacation was kind of a waste. I heard a theory for the first time this year that it's meant to give everyone a chance to work through their various illnesses in private without further epidemics in the school buildings; more likely to allow folks who can manage it to get a summer preview in Acapulco (yes, people do still go there). I'd rather work at school through February when there's nothing else useful to do and have the week off in March or June, myself, but they rarely ask my opinion of such things.

The boys really are ready to explode outside. They're playing together really well the last few weeks—sometimes we don't need to interact with them for as long as 15 minutes! But often their play involves running around the house shouting at the top of their lungs, and optionally banging things; activities, in other words, that would be much better conducted out-of-doors. As yet it's still a bit too cold and snowy and wet for that (especially since Harvey often declines to make any clothes part of his imaginative games), but I recognize their energy and resist the urge to shush them or, alternately, to pick them up and toss them out. In just a few weeks that'll be an option!


birthday boy Zion

Zion among his birthday presents

"what's this one?!"

We had a birthday party for Zion. We told people not to bring presents, but they mostly did anyways. Zion was delighted with all of them, and so was Harvey, who raked in a fair amount of loot himself. How does that work?

the invitation to zion's party

the invitation

We prepared things in a rather more low-key manner than we did for Harvey's first birthday; I suppose everything is more low-key the second time. We were also distracted by the chicken stress.

the cake: white with colored sprinkles and a candle in the shape of a 1

yellow cake with lemon frosting and blueberry jam between the layers

We made the cake and a minimum of food, but treats brought along by the guests managed to keep 26 people (including us) in a delightful party spirit.

Zion in his highchair with his cake

good stuff

Zion did great: he enjoyed himself and showed off his sparkling personality to all and sundry. Harvey was wonderful as well, helped perhaps by the fact that Zion is not yet entertaining enough to be able to claim all the attention for himself. They each only cried once over the course of the 4.5-hour party. Look at them getting along together:

Zion and Harvey drawing with chalk on the porch

tic tac toe?

Thanks to all who came, and happy birthday Zion!


remarking on unremarked milestones

Zion on the grass with two sippy cups

with both cups and pleased with himself

Zion is almost one, and he's really showing it. He finally managed to push out his top two teeth, which naturally changes his appearance some; I'm still getting used to it. He's also making progress in areas more directly under his control: he's really working on standing unsupported. It seems like he can now stand on his own indefinitely, but he doesn't know what to do with it so after a while he just plops himself down on his butt and claps for himself—which is only right. He hasn't shown much interest in "cruising" or any other prewalking-type behaviors, but that might be because he's such an efficient crawler. Who wants to transition to a slow and uncertain form of locomotion when you've got something that already works well and a speedy big brother to keep up with?!

In some areas, though, he's completely outpaced Harvey. Our big boy is afraid to go up or down any flights of stairs indoors (though he doesn't seem to mind most outdoor stairs, including the full-length flight at the Grandma and Grandpa Archibalds). Zion, on the other hand, is now charging right up stairs like a champ—the other day we were both upstairs for a moment and he silently made it almost to the top before we noticed him. He seems willing to try to go down too, but his head-first style looks a little dangerous so we thus far haven't indulged him the attempt.

Also his hair is starting to turn curly.

Any one of these milestones would have occasioned a blog post—or two or three—had he been the first-born. Now they just slide by, with quiet appreciation from us here sure, but no fanfare. I don't think it's just because Zion is second, though; Harvey's recent milestones—jumping, almost being able to pedal the tricycle, high-fiving waitresses in restaurants (ok, that only happened once)—also passed unremarked. With the two of them we're just less focused that we once were. It's not all about Harvey any more, or Zion: now they're just "the kids". I guess we kind of pay attention to them, but they do so many things! Next thing we know they'll be running off together and we won't ever see them but at mealtimes. Ah, progress.


Harvey develops accurate retelling of past events

"Me and Zion and the alligator played in Rascal's water!"

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah! I splashed and Zion splashed. Then we had to get changed because we were wet."

The alligator in question is the one you can see at the end of this video. I don't think it was the instigator here. Zion, on the other hand...


marbles make very small bumps in the road

Zion and Harvey in matching fleece pajamas

we need the flash to capture pj shots

Harvey and Zion are best buds so far. Harvey loves giving his little brother toys and kisses and attention, and is always very solicitous of his well being: "Is Zion happy?" is always on his lips, when Zion is indeed happy and also when he's quite obviously not. Perhaps in the latter case it's a bit of wishful thinking. He even doesn't mind being quiet when Zion needs to sleep or losing parental attention when Zion needs that. But it occurs to me that their relationship may soon be in for a bit of a change.

I thought of it when I got home this morning and noticed how many marbles there were on the floor. Harvey, always a fan, got a new bagful at Jo and Eugene's sale yesterday, and today he was enjoying them by dispersing them evenly around the house. I found one in the basement, to give you some extent of his thoroughness. And it's not just marbles that he likes to have convenient and accessible: dime-sized refrigerator magnets, tiny lego pieces, buttons; there's no end to his appreciation of the small and multitudinous.

You see the problem. Zion doesn't move much now, but he's already working on it; working, too, on getting those little fingers together to pick things up (the "put them in the mouth" part is already fully operational). Will Harvey resent having to limit his playtime excesses in the interests of keeping his brother from choking? Only time will tell. In my dreams I imagine that H will have discovered the joys of sorting and organizing by the time Z gets fully mobile, and will delight in putting everything away neatly totally on his own. That's totally possible, right other parents?


birth order

Everybody's been talking about Zion lately, including us. He's new and ostensibly kind of exciting (more exciting in theory perhaps than in present form). But when it comes to day-to-day attention, I have to admit that Harvey is getting more of mine. Zion just sleeps and eats; Harvey does oh so much more. Just today I got to watch him dance at church, laugh and play with his friend Ollie, and enjoy the box fort I made for him. Oh, and fall down the stairs headfirst—that sure got my attention! (don't worry, he survived unscathed, but it sure looked scary!).

That's the problem being the second-born, I suppose; it's hard to compete (not that Leah or I would know anything about it). Sure, a little while after Harvey was born I compared him to a guinea pig, but there was never any doubt that he was our sole focus. Sorry Zion, we just can't give you that level of attention. While Harvey also has to deal with sharing us—and for him it's something new, as opposed to the pre-existing state of affairs Zion was born to—he's operating from a position of strength. Being able to talk helps a lot too.

Happily, Harvey doesn't seem to be one to lord it over his little brother. In fact, I think he'd like Zion to be a little more attention-worthy. While he refuses to hold him for pictures, he asks for him other times, to cuddle or hold hands or pat (often on the nose, though we suggest to him that the top of the head would be more appropriate). Today he tried to get Zion interested in his train set. Leah told him that the baby would be able to play trains in seven months when he could sit up on his own; I estimated that a year and a half would make him more useful to Harvey.

Of course, being younger has its advantages too. You get away with a whole lot more, for example, and get to try new things at a younger age. I'm sure that will be a tremendous comfort to Zion when he's able to move.