Yesterday Oliver took the gifted and talented test. This is a big deal for our family. If he does well enough he will automatically be able to go to the same school as Simon. If he doesn’t, well, then Micah and I need to find an apartment to move to in a better school district. (We’re moving anyway because our rent is being raised, and not only because of the schools.)
We tried to prep him as well as we could. We did practice tests and played applicable games. We told him he needed to answer all the questions and do his very best. We for sure said lots of prayers, fasted, and asked for special blessings. And then when the time came, we told him to have a good time and crossed our fingers.
He came out of the test happy and energetic. He said he had done his best. And we are, of course, happy about that and that he didn’t seem to feel any stress about the test. We won’t know until April how he actually did, so we just have to sit tight for a while. But it does feel nice to have that part of it behind us, to know that there is nothing more Oliver has to do.
Some people have asked if he understood why the test was important or if he felt any pressure. And I think the answer to the first question is yes and the answer to the second is no. We definitely talked about how he had to do his best if he wanted to go to the same school as Simon. But I don’t think he is capable of feeling a lot of stress or pressure about such things. That’s just not him. And that is fine. After all, it’s really our job as parents to worry about his schooling and to find the best opportunities for him. He shouldn’t have to worry about that at all at his age, and I don’t think he does. I’m thankful for that.
Elsa is getting by solely on her looks these days. Seriously, these pigtails are all that’s standing between her and an orphanage* sometimes. Like when she’s opening the fridge for the 30th time in 10 minutes. Or when she’s climbing in our bed for the 3rd time in one night. Or when she’s trading food with me at the the breakfast/lunch/dinner table without even asking.
But really, how mad can you get at these pigtails? You can’t. You just can’t.
*Kidding. Totally kidding . . . for now.
It seemed like a good idea in November, when there was at least the hope of a mild winter. But by the time Micah and I were standing at the start line of the Brrrr-ooklyn Hot Chocolate Half Marathon yesterday, it seemed like a very, very bad idea. I feared for my fingers. I could not feel my face. How on earth were we going to run around the park 4 times? These thoughts were in my head even though this 25-degree weather was the warmest it had been all week. Micah had done a 10-miler on Monday. I’d done 4 in the snow with the stroller on Tuesday. It had been freezing on Thursday evening’s speed work, and not much better when the sun was out on Friday. But then, it’s not like we were doing 13 miles on those days . . . .
It was only a couple of miles before the feeling returned to our fingers and toes. After two laps I was questioning the wisdom of wearing two long-sleeved shirts under my wool jacket. And by the time we crossed the line, we had nearly worked up a sweat. Still, the hot chocolate at the finish was welcome, though I do wish they had come up with a means of keeping the cream cheese from freezing before we smeared it on our bagels.
All in all, it was a good race to have done. It may be the first time I’ve raced where I really did not care about getting close to a PR. After having run 5 800s approximately 36 hours before, putting in another 5 the day before, and not getting a lot of sleep, the goal was to run sub-8:00s and to try to go faster at the end. This race was totally mental preparation for Boston in April. And I think it did its job. Our last mile was our fastest. Most miles were sub-8:00s. And Micah, though quite undertrained, made it look easy – though I know it wasn’t.
We got a a ride home afterward from our friend Sharra, who totally killed it and PRed by 7 minutes. And then we spent the rest of the day hobbling around on tight calves and creaky joints. But still, we felt pretty good about our efforts.
Several months ago we started teaching Oliver to read. We started by having him “read” a verse of scripture – the shortest one of the 4 we would be reading that night. We told him that t-h-e spells “the” and that a-n-d spells “and.” We added more and more sight words as he more or less mastered them, and then encouraged him to start sounding words out, experimenting with the vowel sounds until he struck on a word that sounded familiar.
He has made lots and lots of progress during that time. He can sound words out pretty well, and has even implemented some of the strategies that Simon brings home from school – like chunking words out or stretching the sounds or looking for smaller words in the big words. It is difficult with some books to know if he is reading, or if he has memorized the stories from the few times we have read them together (which definitely happens), but it has been really exciting to see him gain confidence and to try to read on his own.
In the past few weeks, however, it has become more and more obvious that he is truly reading. More than once I’ve caught him with a book sounding things out. And sometimes he’ll bring a book to me and ask me to help him with a word that he hasn’t quite been able to get on his own. And that’s pretty exciting. Can’t wait until he’s good enough that I can have him entertain Elsa with his amazing reading skills . . . assuming Elsa ever learns to sit still long enough to get through more than a few pages.
If you’re wondering why there are books and DVDs strewn all over the apartment these days the answer is Elsa. Obviously.
She’s really into books, or at least they first few pages of them. After which she gets bored and moves onto the next big thing – or board book, as the case may be. She’ll repeat this process until half the shelf has been emptied onto the floor and couch. And then she’ll set her sights a little higher, to the shelf on which the DVDs are stored. Because of the arrangement of our furniture, it’s quite easy for her to stand on the armrest of the couch and pull off whatever DVD catches her fancy. (Baby Signing Time and The Incredibles are the favorites, although if she does happen to grab Nausicaa, she’s kind enough to hand it to Oliver because that is his favorite movie these days.)
Finding things to distract her from this hobby has proven to be difficult, as this actually seems to be the best use of her time. After all, we don’t want to encourage her to rummage around in the fridge any more than she already does. (“Cheese!”) Nor do we want her climbing onto the desk, where she could knock over the frog aquarium or make a mess of the computer files. Standing on the table or climbing into Simon’s bed (both are among her favorite places) are technically off-limits for her, though difficult to enforce. And toys are good only insofar as they don’t become projectiles or the center of fights and tears between her and her brothers.
All this is to say: Elsa is growing up to be a very capable and opinionated little being. And that I spend more time than I would like putting books and DVDs back on the shelves, prying discs from her grubby little hands, and trying to keep her from whacking her head against anything as she collapses to the ground to let me know that I’ve ruined her life – yet again.
You already know, of course, that Elsa can climb into and out of her crib. But it’s only been in the past couple of weeks that she has taken advantage of that ability to disrupt our daily lives – or, more accurately, our nightly lives.
The first night, just as Micah and I had laid down to fall asleep, she started to get a little restless. It sounded like she was putting herself back to sleep – right up until the moment she silently and stealthily climbed into bed with us. Which was fine. I didn’t sleep much that night anyway.
Since then it has become a regular occurrence. Not every night, but most nights. And while I do put her back in her own bed most of the time, when I wake up again, she’ll often be right there next to me.
In some ways it is really sweet. But then, it would be a lot sweeter if we all weren’t so sleep deprived already. Or if we could do what we did with the boys and train her to stay in her own room. But she doesn’t have her own room – and for the time being she can’t share one with the boys (until we find a new apartment to move to). So we’re somewhat resigned to finding a little person in our bed a couple of times a night, and dealing with the resulting tiredness for the rest of the day.
But now we know what it’s like to have a child who climbs into bed with us at night. It feels like a rite of parenthood, and I feel slightly more legit having experienced it.
“Never give up. Encourage others. Do your best!” That’s what NED stands for, and who can argue with that?
When Simon came home from school a couple of months ago and could speak only of this NED assembly he went to (“The NED Show”) and the yo-yos they were selling . . . I was not very enthusiastic. But he was really, really excited about the whole thing and wanted to use all his money to get all three of the fancy yo-yos they were now selling at school. He was sure it would change his life. And since it was his money, we let him take what he had and do with it what he could, which, by the end of the week, meant buying only the most basic yo-yo because the others had sold out.
I expected that after a few days with the yo-yo he would discover that it is difficult to play with and hard to learn tricks on. I thought it would quickly become just another toy in the toy box. But I was mistaken. Instead, it has become almost another member of the family. “Where’s my ned-yo?” is not an uncommon question. And we are often asked to come watch his latest trick. In fact, Simon’s new favorite place to be is standing on the toy box, where he can yo without hitting the floor. Only occasionally do we hear the smack of the ned-yo on furniture as he tests out new tricks.
And despite my initial misgivings, it’s fun. Fun to see him try new things and to keep at it until he masters a new move. It seems like one of those things that may come in handy occasionally at parties and talent shows and there’s nothing wrong with that. And as long as he’s willing to keep working at it (and try not to whack his siblings with the yo-yo), I will encourage him to do his best.
So what if Christmas is over? I could not miss the opportunity to share a bit of cheer with you. And here is that bit of cheer:
There were several other photos from this shoot that were equally delightful, but this one captured my heart. Note: Simon caught mid-snap. This is one of several behaviors that he has been working hard at and now can’t help but do all the time. Whistling is next on his list. And cartwheels are scheduled for later this year. Elsa’s squinchy face. She had several with a delighted wide-open mouth, but I like this one because it does show her more restrained side. Also, the foot of her footsie pajamas. And, if you look closely, you can see the fox peeking out over her shoulder. Same with Oliver. They each needed a fox in their pjs. In fact, I love that they are all in footsie pjs borrowed from Grandma. (Two of the three pairs made it home with us. Score!)
So that is that. Cute kids in front of a Christmas tree. Hope your Christmas was as delightful as this picture is. And I hope to share more from the holidays before too long.