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Month: June 2014

looking back at first grade

looking back at first grade

Today was Simon’s last day of first grade. I have no difficulty summoning tears when I reflect on that little piece of information. This year has been so great for him. His teachers were fabulous. His classmates were amazing. We’ve met so many wonderful parents and children. I think it says something about our experience this year that not once did I begrudge the 2 hours of my afternoon or the many miles I rode on bike or train to go get him.

(True, part of that may have been because it was really liberating to know that between 2-4pm I was completely unavailable and didn’t bother to think about all the things I wasn’t doing because the most important thing was to go get Simon. It made those 2 hours somewhat of a sacred time for me.)

Remember that first day that we were so nervous about? The first week in which he got teary-eyed and tired just thinking about how loooonnnnggg school was, and how much homework he had? So long ago. So many things we’ve learned. At FHE a few weeks ago we talked about how sometimes things are hard, but we get through them because we get stronger. When we asked if that had ever happened to them, he remembered how those first few weeks of school were so hard for him, but now he loves it and it’s not hard at all.

In fact, earlier this week we asked him if he wanted to give his teachers something as a thank you for being so great. He got really quiet sitting there at the breakfast table. It took me a minute to realize he was holding back tears. I asked him later about it and he said that he wasn’t expecting things to go so quickly. He thought he would be in first grade But he was having such a good time that it was a surprise that the end was so near. And once again, my heart broke in two: one part joy, one part sadness, as it often does.

Some things I have loved about Simon’s first year: I love hearing him come home and talk about his friends. I love how excited he is to play with Oliver after school. I love learning about his contributions in his class. He doesn’t hesitate to raise his hand and speak his mind and I love that, too. A true citizen of the world. I love how excited he has gotten about so many things: chess, soccer, pokemon (that’s another post), the weather, math, The Magic Treehouse books.

Once again, we are so grateful to have the opportunity to go to Nest. So grateful for the teachers and parents and kids. So glad that we’ll get to meet and know more of them over the coming years. It’s been a good thing for us. That’s for sure.

and then we moved

and then we moved

There are few things more humbling/humiliating than packing up all your stuff and asking people to help you haul it 5 blocks from one apartment to another.

Your whole life is on display. The boxes and boxes of books. The papers you’ve been carrying around since high school. The 87 rolls of toilet paper.

Ugh. Sorry everyone had to see all that.

The good news is that we got rid of a lot of stuff. And we’re still thinning things out.

The better news is that we only took up about 2 hours of people’s time with loading and unloading the moving truck. Yes, loading and unloading. We had all our stuff ready to go and I’m pretty proud of that.

The best news is that I don’t think we lost any friends over the fact that we are, apparently, hoarders of toilet paper.

It’s been nearly 3 weeks since moving day and while most of our stuff has been unboxed for most of that time, we’re still just barely getting settled in. There are shelving issues to be worked out, a closet that needs to be turned into an office, a kitchen that will be fitted with a peninsula (because islands are so suburban), a “fauxdenza” to install, and lots of painting and arranging/accumulating art.

Someday we might actually have an apartment that feels like a real home, and if we do I’ll be sure to give you a house tour. Until then, please don’t be disgusted by our toilet paper collection. 20140618-230020-82820737.jpg

elsa says “dobby!”

elsa says “dobby!”

“Dobby!” is one of Elsa’s favorite things to say. She says it all the time. We try to joke that she’s calling a house elf, of course, but in reality this is what she means: “Stop it!”

“Stop it!” as in, “Don’t try to take that from me!”

“Stop it!” as in “Don’t try to catch me!”

“Stop it!” as in “Let me tear everything to pieces!”

“Dobby dobby dobby!”
Truth be told, Elsa’s speaking skills could use a bit of improvement. She’s not yet mastered the “s” sound, so she still calls herself “Elda.” She’s not great at the “c” sound either. Or the “t” sound. She has just a few two-word phrases. And she only sometimes plays along when we try to coax her to repeat after us.

Which is not to say that she cannot make herself understood. Oh heavens no. We get it. All she wants in life is to be allowed to climb, jump, run, chase dogs and eat cheese sticks.

And to own a house elf. (We wish.)

we’ve reached the calvin and hobbes level

we’ve reached the calvin and hobbes level

Micah was grinning ear-to-ear when he came and showed me the text a friend had sent him the day of Simon’s birthday party: “Hey does Simon have Calvin and Hobbes?”
The perfect gift, both for us and Simon. He didn’t know enough to be excited by it when he opened it, but it only took a few hours for him to discover the magic. By dinner time he was telling us his favorite lines so far, laughing so hard he could hardly get the words out. And then, long after we had put the boy to bed, we heard him bust out into laughter at random intervals.

Sometimes we ask him if he knows why it’s funny, and he doesn’t always have an answer. Sometimes he asks us to explain the joke and we do our best. And every now and then, he’ll come out of his room and say something like, “Calvin isn’t very smart.”

This is the first of what I hope will be many pieces of culture that bridge the generation gap between us. Clearly Calvin and Hobbes is something we can all enjoy. 20140618-223050-81050812.jpg

let them eat pie!

let them eat pie!

A friend of mine thought it would be a good idea to have a pie eating contest for Memorial Day. She said she mostly just wanted to watch them wallow in whipped cream. I saw it more as an opportunity to bake a tasty pie, so that’s what I did. The kids requested berries, so that’s what I did: berries with lemon-sugar. And a streusel top. (Everyone seemed to think that I went “all out” on the pie, but really, is there a better way of doing things?)

But back to the contest. There was a long strip of paper on which the pies were placed. The kids (and pies) lined up on one side, the parents (and cameras) on the other. And then they went at it. The rules stated no hands, and Simon, being the rule-abiding child that he is, dug in. Most of the other kids were not as sure about this activity. Some cried. Most sat, staring blankly wondering, I imagine, how they were supposed to eat the pie. But not the Heiselt kids. Once Simon got going, Oliver and Elsa weren’t too far behind. Other parents wondered if maybe we’d coached our kids beforehand. Maybe held a practice session. (I like to think my pie was just so tasty that they couldn’t help themselves.)

Eventually, most of the other kids got into it. Dug their little faces into their pies. Good times were had by all, and while there were no winners and no losers, I would like to point out for the record that my kid finished first.

elsa the runner

elsa the runner

We were at the park with friends. There was talk of holding a footrace amongst all the children. So they lined up, someone said “Go!” and they were off.

Simon, being the child with the longest legs, came in first. The rest of the kids were close behind. Well, most of the rest of the kids. A couple of toddlers lost interest shortly after the race began, though Elsa wasn’t one of them. She was very focused and intent on making it to the end. It took her a little bit longer, of course, but with all of the other runners across the line and on to other things, she had a much bigger cheering section than the rest of them.

Okay, so maybe the cheering section was mostly me. And mostly I was trying to keep her focused on moving forward toward the finish line — not that she didn’t have enough determination on her own: she was about as focused as I’ve ever seen her. But she was clearly thriving on the attention.

When she did cross the line — in her pioneer girl skirt and black boots — I think she was about as excited as I was.

I think she and I are going to have some good runs together in a few years. Just a guess.

why Oliver may just be the cutest human being alive

why Oliver may just be the cutest human being alive

I took Oliver to the doctor a few weeks ago, for his 4-year-old check-up, even though he is 4 1/2.

He measured on the small end (about 25th percentile in weight and height), but that’s not why he is the cutest little human ever. He’s the cutest because of the way he did his eye test. The doctor, not knowing how proficient he is with his numbers and letters, gave him the picture test. And each time she asked what he saw he would say something like: “Well, to me, I would say it looks like a circle that is not filled in.” Or, “To me, it looks like a tiny star.” (Or just a star, or a little star, depending on the size of the star.)

I just about died every time I heard his little voice say, “Well, to me, I would say . . . ” Adorable, right?

He also got a couple of shots, which he was very anxious about. Still, he was very brave and didn’t complain or fight it. He cried a bit afterwards, but was pleased with the band-aids.

Later that night we had Family Home Evening. The lesson was something about being brave, so we talked about what that means and whether or not we could be brave too. Well, little Oliver said that he thought he wasn’t very brave because he cried after he got his shots.

My heart dropped a bit because I’m pretty sure he learned that tears = not brave from all the times we’ve told him that he’s so brave and tough and he doesn’t need to cry when he gets hurt. But we talked about that too, and about how he was super brave because even though he was nervous about the shots he didn’t fight it or anything, and he only cried because he was hurt.

(I definitely think we’re sending mixed messages about tears, but at least now we’re aware of the problem.)

And that, my friends, is why Oliver is the cutest, bravest little human. Am I right?

(I’m right.)

meanwhile, back at the ranch

meanwhile, back at the ranch

I think Jess summed things up nicely when she e-mailed me near the end of our trip to Japan with the words, “Your apartment misses you.”

She could tell because:

The kitchen light started to burn out and was flickering like a strobe light. Abby said it was like living in a horror show.

The bathroom door became so hard to open that they finally taped it so it wouldn’t actually latch.

There was an ant infestation.

The key got stuck in the front door and they couldn’t get it out for half an hour.

But other than that, things were fine. (I will note that a pipe under the kitchen sink sprung a small leak after we got home, so not everything fell apart on their watch.)

We were expecting Elsa to freak out, especially when we were able to FaceTime with them, but she didn’t. And, in fact, it seemed like the kids adjusted really well to being parented by their aunts (and uncles or uncle and “uncle,” depending on how you classify Abby’s friend James).

My sister-in-law, Brittany, was a total champ and rode Simon in to school on the bike every morning. And Jess did her duty in picking him up in the afternoons. And Abby made sure they both got a thorough tour of the city’s best stuff, including front row seats to Wicked (which they got in the lottery).

All in all, I think we can safely say we won’t worry about our kids too much if we ever leave them for an extended period of time. So many good caretakers to choose from. And it doesn’t hurt that those kids are champs, too.