posts tagged with 'zion'

another reader

Like Harvey before him, Zion has taken to reading. As the manager of the household I'd say it's because he wants an excuse to do something rather than work (or sleep), but as a homeschool parent I'm of course delighted. Because reading is wonderful, right?! It was Ramona Forever that was keeping him from going to bed last night and from doing his chores this morning, but luckily he finished it in time to take part in our school day.

I think it's safe to say that I have mixed feelings about reading. What I don't buy is the idea that reading is worthwhile for it's own sake—not just knowing how to read, but enjoying reading and appreciating particular books. In school it doesn't matter what it is, as long as you find something you want to read. And then you're all set! (until they catch you reading in math class; ask me how I know!). So you have an ecosystem of terrible books that make their ways from publishers to school libraries because, as they tell us, "at least they're getting kids reading!" Sure, I agree that there are tons of great books out there, books that expand your mind or transport you to places you could never visit otherwise; but I don't know that, oh, the graphic novel version of The Wings of Fire necessarily provides a path towards coming to enjoy them. Why not just tell kids—tell everyone!—that there are these great books out there, and wait for them to learn how to read so they can find out for themselves just how great?

Of course, I fully admit that my concerns are completely misguided. After all, I went through a period where I devoured as many Hardy Boys books as I could get my hands on! And I certainly don't want to suggest that graphic novels, as a form, have anything wrong with them; except for The Wings of Fire (which, admittedly, I've never even read!) all the books on this list are pretty darn good. Zion read his share of them—more than his share, probably—before he got started on chapter books (and in fact having finished Ramona he spent some time with Amulet this evening). I guess I'm just doing that grumpy old man thing where I only think books I like are any good. In my defense, though, I wouldn't be complaining if Zion, besides reading, was also doing everything he's supposed to!

Postscript: In between writing the previous paragraph and this one I did bedtime with kids. As I finished praying with Harvey Zion was reading Squirrel Girl in his bed with the headlamp. I asked him to turn it off, and he let me know that actually the nighttime is the best time for reading, because he didn't have anything else he needed to be doing! What about sleeping, my love? Ah, reading...

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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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Zion's birthday report

As I said the other day, we didn't let social distancing stop us from celebrating Zion's birthday!

Zion blowing out his birthday candles

still festive

We all made him presents; we were going to give them to him at breakfast, but we couldn't wait that long and gift-giving happened first thing. The bunny that Lijah (and Mama) made for him is the softest thing ever, and it was well appreciated.

Zion opening his birthday presents on the couch

it's a bunny!

Then the sun came up properly so we could have breakfast. The kids have the choice of whatever they want for their birthday breakfast, but they always pick pancakes. They're easy to put a candle in.

Zion looking at his birthday pancake in the kitchen's morning light

birthday breakfast light

The birthday party—via Zoom—was right after lunch, which meant that we could share the moment of singing Happy Birthday and blowing out the candles, as pictured above (Harvey is showing the meeting participants the optimal view of the action from the iPad's better camera). The cake was just a yellow cake with buttercream frosting, but it came out great; I think I appreciated the lower pressure environment that came with just baking for my own family. I do that all the time! It does mean we had some leftovers, though.

Zion's birthday cake

simple but delicious

After Zion finished his piece, the kids all played online for an hour and a half or so. They would have gone longer but I cut them off: even on birthdays there are still things to do! But that wasn't the end of our celebrations, because I made sure to make the most birthdayish dinner possible, all to Zion's specifications: hamburgers and hot dogs, potato chips, and lemonade. We were going to do smores for dessert but it started raining. Oh well, more cake was good too.

a hamburger and hot dog on my plate

party food

Happy Birthday Zion!

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happy birthday Zion!

Today is Zion's birthday—he's nine years old! Ever since the second month of the quarantine he's been low-key upset about not being able to have a birthday party that he can invite friends to, and worried that he wouldn't feel properly celebrated. Which was a reasonable fear, since we're all kind of off-balance these days and not at our best when it comes to planning ahead. But I think we're going to make it happen! He got his presents from his parents and siblings first thing in the morning (I was going to say "opened" but that wouldn't be true since only Lijah managed to wrap anything) and enjoyed the traditional birthday pancake. Both sets of grandparents are planning to come by to drop off more presents, and he has a Zoom meeting party with his friends scheduled for 12:30. Despite my not inviting anyone until yesterday evening it looks like they'll all be able to make it! So we're looking good! Actually, at this point the only problem with our day is that Elijah is very unhappy that it's not his birthday.

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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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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